My Soul is doing just fine, thank you very much for asking

Ever since my Musing on Conversion post the other day I have received a number of emails from well meaning friends concerned that my decision would lead me to lose my soul when final judgment came. I just wanted to outline why I don't feel this is not the case. Some of this might be distasteful to some Catholics, if you are easily offended by discussions of conversion

  1. A Christian is a Christian, this includes Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and even Baptists (horror of horror, I know).
  2. (This is controversial, I know) A pius, good person of a non-Christian Religion is more likely to go to heaven then an evil person who is a Christian

The way I see the bulk of people in this world stay in the religion they were born into their entire lives. Even those that Convert, generally do so within levels of orthodoxy. This bulk condemning of folks based on their heritage is counter to what I believe about G_d.
I'm, from an Irish heritage, it's ridiculous to believe that if some distant relative of mine was born a few hundred miles north making me an Anglican, I would be on my way to Hell with no other factors considered..

    Posted: Apr 1, 2008

10 Commandments and Space Aliens

This was just tweeted by @trivabot on twitter:

Of 200 Anglican priests polled only 68, or 34% could name all Ten Commandments. Half, however, said they believed in space aliens.

This is unusually funny for me because of a story from my youth and my interpretation of Ezekiel Chapter 1 (which involves space aliens). Someday I'll document it but for now I'm laughing on the inside.
* For the record, all the Episcopalian Priests I've met can name all 10 commandments.

    Posted: Mar 31, 2008

Easter II

I do find the Episcopalian way of referring to this Sunday as "Easter II" instead of "The Second Sunday of Easter" sorta funny (I've had this feeling before but haven't gotten around to writing about it). As a geek, it sounds like a sequel all it needs is a subtitle. This week it would be "Easter II: Turning Doubters into Believers".
We had a seminarian preach this week, which was a different experience for me. The sermon was more academic then I've gotten used to. I didn't realize it at the time but I did take away from the sermon that it is our responsibility to change the world for future generations. It's funny, before I started blogging this evening I didn't realize this and then, believe it or not, the movie Bruce Almighty was on and this little bit popped up

"People want me to do everything for them, what they don't realize is they have the power. You want to see a miracle, son, be the miracle."

And the combination of that line and the sermon hit me and moved me a bit. I originally wasn't going to mention this at all... but it has me thinking.. nothing I can put in words yet... but a lot of things swimming around the old brain.
I still have the meeting with Tom Synan on Wednesday. I'm sure I'll post more after that.

    Posted: Mar 31, 2008

Musings on Conversion

I have a meeting with Tom Synan next week to discuss conversion (the Bishop comes in May so I want to get the process started) I know this is a paramount step in my life and I'd like to lay out some of what I am thinking.
I've mentioned somewhere in here that for a while I felt distance growing between myself and the Catholic Church, well before I ever set foot in an Episcopalian Church. Since Christmas I have been attending exclusively Episcopalian Churches (I'll document that story when I get caught up from my paper journal in the next few weeks).
I know we're all sinners, but somehow I feel more forgiven since I've been attending an Episcopalian Church. My personal emphases has gone from how I sinned in the past to how I can make up of those sins, how I can avoid making the same mistakes again and moving forward. It's an interesting point of view. I've gone from feeling irredeemable to being worthy. A few people have mentioned that a new job situation agrees with me, I suspect they are seeing this instead.
The last few months have been tough on me, on a personal, professional and financial level. Many mistakes of my past have come to a head. In the past, when going through something like this I would've hid, or resorted to other means. I seem to have tackled this with more integrity then I would have in the past. Some of that is changes in me some of that is related to my exposure to these people and the support of the Church.

    Posted: Mar 29, 2008

Easter Sunday, John and Peter

Happy Easter Everybody!
Where I should be writing on the Resurrection, I want to write about the relationship between St John and St Peter.
Every year at Easter when I hear John's version of the empty tomb story I get to wondering about the relationship Peter and John had.
Let me quote the part of John that gets me to think about it (John 20:3-6)

Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb....

When I read this I always have the impression that Peter and John were rather close to the point that they might have had running jokes between them; even when describing this Holiest times he couldn't resist getting a jab in at his friend. I say this because I hear something like this (at the risk of sounding sacrilegious):

Peter and I ran to the tomb. Because I am the disciple that Jesus loved, I ran much faster than Peter. I ran much like a gazelle where Peter had the grace of an elephant. I waited outside I was convinced that he might collapse from exhaustion before he got there. I allowed Peter to enter first, standing behind him in case he fell since he looked to tired to stand.

Where this might sound silly, to me it's important to me to think that the Apostles were men and I think of them that way. Thomas's doubting helps with this but I also need to see the other aspects of their lives, and I think this bit from John helps me see that.

    Posted: Mar 23, 2008

My Twitterversary: A year in review

OK, about a year ago I joined twitter, where I'm not sure of the exact date I joined, I'm working backwards from my post Twitter: A week with a new toy. I figured it's time for a follow up post on how I've used twitter and what I've learned in the last year.

  1. I have made a good number of friends via twitter some of whom I had minor connections with IRL some of whom I met via twitter. In some ways it reminds me of IRC back in the day for meeting new folks based on their random comments (of course twitter is not chat... we'll cover that later).
  2. I have made a point of following some smart people who don't always feel the same way that I do about things. This has given me an opportunity to challenge my point of view on some important topics.
  3. Twitter is an interesting way to receive first hand news reports. I found out about the steam pipe explosion at Grand Central last summer, and the earthquake in CA over the fall via Twitter. In both cases I had complete information before the traditional media outlets were reporting on it.
  4. Firefighters were using twitter to help locate each other and pass information during the fires in CA. Municipalities and new outlets were letting people know what areas were safe using twitter.
  5. I try to avoid following folks that are "collecting friends" and not providing interesting content. If you're following 20,000 people you're not listening to me, and if you're not providing interesting tweets, I have no incentive to follow you.
  6. Where a lot of my twitter followers find my blog via a notification tweet, it is really not an effective method for pimping your blog / project. Twitter is about the relationships, if you only pimp yourself out on twitter, folks will drop you like a hot potato.
  7. Where, at first glance twitter looks like a chat room, it's not. You make your twitter experience unique when you decide whom to follow. This is an important distinction, not everyone sees what you are seeing.
  8. Because everyone's experience is different, rules of etiquette have not gone over well.
  9. Twitter is not an effective medium to spam people. If someone starts to spam me, I can always unfollow.
  10. The convenience of a defined social network is greater then the inconvenience of outages. As twitter has had it's growing pains you'd expect its competitors to take over. People always seem to come back to twitter, because that's where your friends are.
  11. The ability to crunch away at an API has made twitter the success that it is. The ability to mash it up with other services such as flickr, google maps, or even autopost when I post a blog entry has been very powerful.
    Posted: Mar 23, 2008

Easter Vigil - Baptism

Went to the Easter Vigil Service this evening. As you'd expect it was a beautiful service darkness growing into into candle light growing into light. During the ceremony there were 4 people baptized (3 children, 1 adult) and I got to thinking about the differences in Baptism in the Episcopal and Catholic faiths.
In the Catholic Church, Baptisms are done in most Churches on one Sunday a month using around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Generally only family / friends of the family are in attendance (although it's an open ceremony) because of the time of the day.
Baptisms in the Episcopal Church are slipstreamed into the regular Sunday Mass (excuse the technical term, I can't think of another term that makes sense). In some respects I think this makes more sense, part of the purpose of Baptism is to welcome the person to the church. Shouldn't the community be present to welcome the candidate?

    Posted: Mar 23, 2008

Does this mean I'm becomming a Public?

I'm still "backfilling" content from my paper journal into this blog and as I was typing one up today I had an odd memory from my kindergarten days. I was attending a local Catholic School and had several friends in a Public School. So, using the little bit of logic I had at that young age I assumed that they were "Publics" ... if Catholics go to Catholic School... when you go to Public School you must be a Public.
So the question is ... now that I'm heading down this path... Am I becoming a public?

    Posted: Mar 22, 2008

When did it stop being about fun?

Over the last few days I've read a number of blog posts which are all around the theme of professionalism, blogging and new media that's gotten me to thinking about the subject.

Mike Arrington wrote a post early this week about bloggers raising money, the politics involved, and how he has a vision of a group of elite (not 1337) bloggers assembling to take on companies such as C-Net with the goal of extracting the talent from there when they close and move on to the next target.

Robert Scoble wrote a response post on how this was the wrong approach. He discussed the changes to the blogging community. How he's less interested in money and more interested in building the community, having new experiences and building something with a bigger purpose.

Evo Terra wrote a post independent of the above 2 discussing the costs involved in making an episode of "Ask A Ninja" (roughly $6K an episode). He asks the question he concludes with the question "How much do you invest in the PROFESSIONAL part of your podcast — audio or video?"

Where, this might sound like an exercise in name dropping, it's really to set up a question.. When did blogging, podcasting, new media, etc become about making money... whey did it stop being about fun? Where I think the current livejournal strike is a laugh on some level these people get it more then anyone else. They are in this for fun, not profit, not opportunities. They sense that they might be losing the culture they've helped create and they rise up and "strike".

Scoble's points are closest to mine. It's not about financial profit for him, it's about the experience. But even as he was discussing the old days at no point did he say that most of the old folks get into it for fun, something to occupy the time between jobs during the darker times when work was scarce. A way to keep folks skills together. Somehow still he doesn't mention enjoyment, which amazes me because Scoble is the poster child for "do what you enjoy and everything else will follow".

When I blog I do it for an audience of one, me. If someone else enjoys it, great... if not oh well. Admittedly this might be mental masturbation but most of my posts get a few hundred hits, some less, some considerably more when they've gotten picked up elsewhere. At the end of the day, where I don't wonder if my post is going to be interesting to anyone else because would take the fun out of this.

I'm in the early stages of launching 2 new podcasts, the first a fandom podcast with a number of friends from a fangroup I'm in. As we were discussing what we were planning, it really came out that we are going to do what we want to do, for fun.. and it doesn't matter if we get anyone outside the group listening.

The other will simply be me talking to friends out in section 39 when I head to games at Yankee Stadium (assuming I figure out a way to sneak the equipment into the Stadium). As you can imagine, there's little to make that podcast sound professional and I don't care. There are a number of interesting people out there, and I think their stories would be fascinating.

Not log ago folks were were discussing how all you need to podcast was a tin can and piece of string attached to your computer and have something interesting to say now we're discussing how much people are investing in the professional part of their podcast.

You may say "but Sean, if we treat this more professionally, we might get more readers / listeners / viewers, isn't that more important then fun?". 99% of bloggers and podcasters won't be able to support themselves off their work; it's just a labor of love. The only thing that will keep you doing it is the joy you get from creating content. I'm reminded of a conversation I had with Evo in a diner a while back. We were discussing podcasting and growing an audience. He said to me "Imagine you had a deal with a local library where you could give a talk. If each week 20 folks showed up and listened to you you'd consider yourself a success. Why is it any different with a podcast?"

So, let me ask a question... what have you done to make your podcast / blog more fun?

    Posted: Mar 22, 2008

"No One Goes to Church Anymore"

So, on Tuesday (which was Holy Tuesday) I left work a little earlier then I usually do so I could get to at least one Mass during Holy Week. I knew that on Holy Wednesday and Good Friday I had obligations that would prevent me from getting to church. When one of my co-workers asked where I was going I told them I was heading to Church. She said to me "Sean, don't know you that no one goes to church anymore".
I know this person was trying to help me. The firm I work for is filled with 20-something hipsters and "beautiful people" and I am neither 20-something nor a hipster (beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so I won't comment on that) and she (and some of the others) are trying to make me seem more cool; but let's face it I'm a Church going, sci-fi loving computer geek, how cool can I be? Anyone who reads Ezekiel Chapter 1 and sees space aliens (which could have been sent by G_d) is never going to be cool; I've come to accept and embrace that.
I do find it interesting that this person felt a need to try and "save my image" as if I were admitting to some horrible act. Has society in NYC gotten to a point that Religion is only discussed in whispers?
An interesting change in me that I've noticed. Since beginning this journey I am more likely to say that I am going to Church when asked instead of saying things like "I have an appointment". Perhaps it's because most Catholics I know are Catholics on Sunday from 9am - 10am and most Episcopalians I know are more likely to live their faith. They work in soup kitchens and minister to the poor. Perhaps it's because they consider it "bold" to say the Lord's Prayer and I'm extending that boldness into my personal life.

    Posted: Mar 20, 2008