Saturday, November 22, 2014

Our North Star

This sermon is a couple of years old, but the end is very applicable to the building situation at Church of the Resurrection these days.

Friday, August 15, 2014

On Robin Williams and Depression

I tried to come up with a better title for this blog post, something smart maybe even witty.  I failed.  This post is simply some thoughts I have had this week on Robin Williams and Depression.  Nothing more and nothing less; so probably the most honest title is the simplest.

My favorite Robin Williams interview was when he was on Inside the Actor's Studio.  Robin was so hilarious that one person from the audience actually had to be taken to the hospital.  She apparently laughed so hard she got a hernia.  

However, when I watched the episode, I remember thinking wow, he just made us laugh for two hours but revealed extremely little about himself.  The interview was longer than the episode.  Apparently they cut down what was a four of five hour interview into two hours.  They couldn't get it down to the normal one hour.   So he managed for hours to keep people laughing and rarely revealed anything about himself.  I guess the humor was his was of hiding the pain.  Often with depression or any other mental illness, as a person's ability to make healthy choices decreases their ability to hide the illness increases.  

There have been a lot of posts on social media encouraging people to get help if they need it.  I even made such a post myself.  But there is still a lot of stigma about getting help.  I know it exists because it stopped me from getting help for a long time.  

For about 3 quarters of the last year I have been seeing a therapist.  Beyond my Senior Warden and Bishop, I have told very few people in my congregation or diocese.  I haven't told people partly because I didn't want their pity or their worry.  Mainly, however, I was concerned about how it would effect my ability to lead.  Would people trust a priest that was being treated for mental illness?  (I guess we'll find out now.) But I decided to share this because the stigma needs to be removed, and it will only be removed with greater understanding of mental illness.  Mental illness is a medical problem.  For me to lead my congregation I need to be healthy, and it is responsibility of leadership for me to take care of myself.  I try to eat right and exercise to maintain my physical health, and when I am physically ill I see a doctor.  Mental health is no different.  I have a responsibility to maintain my mental health so that I can be the best priest, husband, dad, citizen, blogger, preacher, composer, leader and so forth that I can be.  So, just as I go to a doctor when I have the flu, I go to a doctor for my depression and anxiety too.  

The rub though is that it easier to know I need to see a doctor when I have the flu.  When the mind is the diseased organ its harder.  That's where we start having a responsibility to care for each other, to avoid denial, and to not be fooled by evasive humor.  

I encourage us all to learn more about mental illness.  I encourage us all to be vigilant in caring for our friends and family learning to look beyond the coping mechanisms so we can address the real problems. And if you need help, if you are making a plan or setting a date to harm yourself or others, please call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.  You are not alone.

Friday, April 04, 2014


So, I am continuing to explore superCollider.  I was playing around with it a bit tonight mainly working on how to schedule events/notes/sounds and such.  I decided to do a twelve-tone piece.  It isn't serial in that the pitches aren't repeated in a set order; rather a random generator is spitting out the 12 pitches three times.  First time through is from A3 to A4; second is E4 to E5; and finally A3 to A4 again.  Definitely, this is more of an exploration than an aesthetic achievement, but expiration is the fun part of composing anyway.

Here's the code:
SynthDef(\sine, {
arg freq1=57, freq2=69;
var out;
out =,freq2).midicps, 0, 0.1);
out = (out +, 0.44, 0.7));
out = out*, 0, 1, mul:3, doneAction:2);,;
SynthDef(\woosh, {
var out;
out =, 1), doneAction: 2));
out = (out +, out, 0.7, 1))*0.07;,, 0)

var t_c = TempoClock.default;


t_c.sched(1, {Routine({{\woosh); 3.0.wait;


t_c.sched(1, {Routine({{\sine); 1.0.wait;
t_c.sched(12, {Routine({{\sine, [\freq1, 64, \freq2, 76]); 1.0.wait;
t_c.sched(24, {Routine({{\sine); 1.0.wait;

Sunday, March 30, 2014

SuperCollider Etude No. 1

I have recently begun to learn SuperCollider, an audio synthesis and music composition programming language/environment.  This is my first complete etude using it.  I cannot by any means claim it to be my most sophisticated composition.  However, it is a lot of fun to have a new outlet for my creativity.  I hope you enjoy.

For those interested, below is the code.  I broke it into two main sections: instruments, and loops.  I built 4 instruments: 

  • a kick drum, 
  • a wind sound which starts like a rushing wind and ends sounding like a nail scraped across a gong.  I called this one woosh (not very creative maybe, but it's descriptive.)
  • a lead synth pad with a built in glissando
  • a woodblock with a random feature on the timbre so the sound randomly changes on a continuum between a woodblock and a crotale.
Here's the instruments code:

//kickdrum definition
SynthDef(\kickdrum, {
var subosc, subenv, suboutput, clickosc, clickenv, clickoutput, sut;

    subosc = {};
    subenv = {, 0, 0.5, doneAction: 2)};

    clickosc = {, 1500, mul:0.3)};
clickenv = {, 0, 0.001)};

    suboutput = (subosc * subenv);
clickoutput = (clickosc * clickenv);
sut = (suboutput + clickoutput)*0.3;,, 0)

//woosh definition
SynthDef(\woosh, {
var out;
out =, 0.2), doneAction: 2));
out = (out +, out, 0.5, 1))*0.3;,, 0)
//lead synth pad
SynthDef(\leadSynth, {
arg freq1, freq2, dur = 7;
var out;
out =, freq2, dur, doneAction: 2)));
out = out * 0.05;
out = out *, 0.1, 0.7, 1));
out = out +, out, mix: 0.5, room: 1, damp: 0.3);,, 0)
SynthDef(\woodblock, {
arg freq = 1220, rq = 0.02;
var out, rrq;
out = *, 0, 0.02, doneAction: 2), freq, (Rand(0,1)/100));
out = (out +, out, mix: 0.5, room: 0.5, damp: 0.3))*0.3;,, 0)

Then I built a loop so each instrument is played based on a beat counter.  It is in five sections in a basic bridge form: ABCB'A'

a = {
    arg beat;
//A section
//if beat number is divisible by 15 play noise 
if((beat % 15 == 0).and(beat < 64), {Synth(\woosh)});
// B section
    //play kickdrum everybeat from 64 to 284
if((beat >= 64).and(beat<285 div="" kickdrum="" ynth="">

if((beat > 78).and(beat < 88), {Synth(\leadSynth, [\freq1, 220, \freq2, 880])});
if((beat > 100).and(beat < 110), {Synth(\leadSynth, [\freq, 440, \freq2, 1100])});
if((beat > 120).and(beat < 135), {Synth(\leadSynth, [\freq1, 220, \freq2, 880])});
// C section (kickdrum still playing)
if((beat % 6 > 0).and(beat > 150).and(beat < 187), {Synth(\woodblock)});
// B' section (kickdrum still playing)
if((beat > 190).and(beat < 200), {Synth(\leadSynth, [\freq1, 220, \freq2, 880])});
if((beat > 210).and(beat < 220), {Synth(\leadSynth, [\freq, 440, \freq2, 1100])});
if((beat > 230).and(beat < 240), {Synth(\leadSynth, [\freq1, 220, \freq2, 880])});
//A' section
//final four swooshes;
if((beat >= 250).and(beat%10==0).and(beat<290 div="" woosh="" ynth="">
if((beat >= 255).and(beat <=270), {Synth(\leadSynth, [\freq1, 1240, \freq2, 50])});

c = TempoClock(1.7);
    0, //evaluate this immediately
        arg ...args;
        args[0].postln;    // arg[0] is the beat number
        a.value(args[0]); // pass the beat number to our function
        1.0               // do it all again on the next beat


Don't worry, I haven't totally gone nerd.  I still love beer as the picture above indicates, and I will continue to blog about the beers I try at my waterhole over at my other blog Fermenting the Word.

Looking forward to your comments on the piece and the code.  Like I said, I have a lot to learn.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Unbinding the Gospel Reflection no. 1


This week a very large portion of the Church of the Resurrection begins the Unbinding the Gospel E-vent, our Lenten Bible Study and Small Group program. We are reading the book Unbinding your Heart by Martha Grace Reese, individually praying the forty day prayer journal, and meeting in small groups for prayer and discussion.

Tonight, I was doing the first journal exercise, and it asked to remember all the times God has been present with me, blessed me, challenged me, healed me, or guided me. At first, I didn't think I would come up with much. In my heart of hearts, I confess, I often wonder why God would bother being with lowly me. But I took a breath and followed the book's advice to ask God what I needed to remember. After some silence I started listing and soon the couple of inches of space for writing was completely filled. I had to move on to the margins and kept listing events and names of people. Name after name of people from the Church of the Resurrection, from camp, from college, seminary and home. I couldn't help but at the end realize just how often God has been present with me, and ministered to me through faithful people around me. It simply goes to reason that if this has happened before, then it will happen again. God is at work in and through me, in and through all of us at the Church of the Resurrection, and in and through North Omaha.

I could not help but write at the top of the page in big letters when I finished, "WHAT'S NEXT?"

I am overwhelmed with excitement for what God is going to do next in and through the Church of the Resurrection. Buckle your seat belts, my friends, something big is coming. God is at work!

What's Next?

Monday, July 09, 2012

Reconciliation at GC77

Moments ago the House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops on two resolutions involving equality for transgendered people: one to extend equal place in the church and the other to open the ordination process to the transgendered.

There are hosts of reasons to agree or disagree with these resolutions but I wanted to tell you why I voted to approve them.

I voted yes because I am a sinner. I often feel more than discomfort in the presence of transgendered people. It is sinful of me to be disconnected from fellow children of God. It was important for me to vote yes for these resolutions to open up hope that those like me will have a chance to get to know and make connections with transgendered members of our congregations. I pray that Jesus may work through those relationships to heal me of my sin and reconcile me with both himself and my transgendered brothers and sisters.

I am proud that my church challenges even me, a member of its clergy, to confront my sin and expand my understanding of God's love.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Crazy Christians and Alice's Rabbit hole.

This morning the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry preached with passion and eloquence that we need some Crazy Christians: crazy like Christ, crazy like Mary Magdelene, crazy like Harriet Beecher Stowe.

This afternoon in the House of Deputies we were certainly crazy, but I'm not sure we were crazy like the Bishop called for. There is a massive energy to reform the structures of the church, but there is an attitude of "let's make changes but don't touch (insert sacred cow here). There was an attempt in the HoD to codify a ministry office of the Church Center in the rules of order of the House. No ministry office should be defined in the rules of order because then that office has to exist.

Sadly this was an end run around the conversation on structure. Worse still, the office was that of youth ministry. In other words the house was trying to work out our issues on the backs of children. It made me sad.

But God is good and the spirit moved pulling out of Alice's rabbit hole. Through the legislative procedure we were able to return the resolution back to committee. It is doubtful we will see it again.

We need to minister with children and form children and youth to minister as well. We need to restructure the church too. We, however, can be faithful and risk a healthy prayerful conversation on the whole list of ministry offices. We need not do an end run to protect one office over the other. We especially need not do it on the backs of children.

I'm still inspired by being my experience here. If God can work thought he convoluted rules of legislative procedure, then God can work though all human disfunction.