Saturday, March 11, 2006

11 March, 2006: Spirituality, Faith and Religion

Pictures: Shield of The Episcopal Church USA, Bishop Leo Frade,Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida Bishop V. Gene Robinson, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, our denomination's first openly gay bishop. This morning's CD: Wynton Marsalis "Standard Time Vol. 3 The Resolution of Romance" I've been thinking a lot lately about my personal spirituality, beliefs and God. Everybody's spiritual journey is unique and deeply personal. My experiences with God have been deep and profound. Having been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease is not news any of us would be thrilled to receive. But to me, the concept of Jesus hold my hand and going with me on this journey brings comfort and peace not torment and despair. And in moments of uncertainty, anxious thoughts will creep into my head but it only takes a reminder of my knowledge of God being with me on this journey, a passage of scripture or a phrase from a hymn or prayer which quickly jolts me back to my belief in a loving God who cares about me and isn't leaving me to go through this adventure alone. Included in this faith journey is a wonderful family of support. A family of like believers whom I choose to congregate with, share my faith and communion with: The Episcopal Church. Having come into the Episcopal church from a non-liturgical background, people sometimes wonder how I got from there to here. I'll try to explain. In the Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is a part, I discovered an expression of spirituality shaped by certain elements of consciousness and the spirituality of scripture along with a five hundred year history of worship with the Book of Common Prayer. In my faith journey as an Anglican, I've found a tradition that encourages the cultivation of inner spiritual growth, a life inside of me that believes in a direct encounter and knowledge of God that is experienced in the heart, in my activities of daily living, in my work, rest and play. It's a experience of love and joy, of mystery and continual growth. Episcopalians love liturgy and I'm no exception. We are also independent thinkers and tend to be intuitive. This is no coincidence. When the Church of England broke with Rome and the English Reformation occured, elements of Celtic mysticism couldn't help but have an influence on early Anglicans. Some evangelicals have a problem with the word "mysticism. The truth be told, evangelicals believe in mysticism as well. It's the mystery of faith, the inability to explain every little detail of God while experiencing the infinite nearness of our creator and his love for us. Anglicans celebrate worship through our Book of Common Prayer. It's Scripture that is prayed, chanted, read, paraphrased and sung. Episcopalians are immersed in Scripture without stressing memorization or literal interpretations which have been fought over, written about endlessly and has caused more strive amongst Christians for centuries. Anglicans look at the Bible as a WHOLE, we tend to get involved in the complete story and history and thus formulates our fluid spiritual believe system. Communion, or Holy Eucharist is important to Anglicans. It's being in shared communion with one another and with God and that's why we take Communion routinely as a part of our worship experience. I hope my readers don't think I am suggesting that people of other denominations do not have deep experiences with God. Because I know that folks of all faiths do. My faith is important to ME and heightens my ability to hear and experience the voice of God and brings me great joy. Gordon

Friday, March 10, 2006

3/10/06 Issue in Washington, DC: Health Care

This Morning's CD: Favorite Hymns From Westminster Abbey My co-worker and me had a successful trip meeting with our elected officials in DC. Among the worker rights issues we discussed is one I want to share with my readers: health care and the need for insurance reform. The burden on employee payroll deductions for our health insurance continues to grow and the burden on the employer continues to shrink. In addition, insurance companies are placing more restrictions on our coverage and one of the major changes to further the burden on the employee is our president's proposal to add a third category of Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance coverage. It's called MSA's, or Medical Saving Account. Now the medical savings accounts as we know them have been great. They have been used to help cover, glasses, hearing aids or other things not covered by insurance or medical care not covered by insurance. But the proposal for this new plan is that the employee will have a much lower contribution to pay toward their insurance coverage and the contribution will go into the MSA and that money used BEFORE their insurance kicks in. Therefore, say an employee wants to save money by reducing his insurance payroll deduction in December. In January the employee has a health care emergency and ends up in the hospital. If the employee signed up for $3,000 MSA, the medical bills amounting to $3,000 must be paid by the employee before BC/BS kicks in. Using the example above, remember, it's only January and the employee has only $50 in the MSA. "Too bad", the corporate insurance lobbyists say, "cough up the $3000 or die." If this plan is successful with BC/BS we will see more and more insurance companies implementing similar plans. If the Medicare prescription plan hasn't been bad enough on America's seniors and the disabled, this only adds more icing on the Bush administration's corporate whore's cake! Health Care IS a Moral Value! That's all for today. Gordon