Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

France has this one right

From the UK Independent.

Scientologists in France go on trial for fraud
By Thierry Leveque
Monday, 25 May 2009

The Church of Scientology in France went on trial today on charges of organised fraud.

Registered as a religion in the United States, with celebrity members such as actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, Scientology enjoys no such legal protection in France and has faced repeated accusations of being a money-making cult.
The group's Paris headquarters and bookshop are defendants in the case. If found guilty, they could be fined €5 million ($7 million) and ordered to halt their activities in France.
Seven leading French Scientology members are also in the dock. Some are charged with illegally practising as pharmacists and face up to 10 years in prison and hefty fines.
The case centres on a complaint made in 1998 by a woman who said she was enrolled into Scientology after members approached her in the street and persuaded her to do a personality test.
In the following months, she paid more than €21,000 for books, "purification packs" of vitamins, sauna sessions and an "e-meter" to measure her spiritual progress, she said.
Other complaints then surfaced. The five original plaintiffs - three of whom withdrew after reaching a financial settlement with the Church of Scientology - said they spent up to hundreds of thousands of euros on similar tests and cures.
They told investigators that Scientology members harassed them with phone calls and nightly visits to cajole them into paying their bills or taking out bank loans. The plaintiffs were described as "vulnerable" by psychological experts in the case.
Scientology, founded in 1954 by science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, describes the "e-meter" as a religious artefact that helps the user and supervisor locate spiritual distress.
Investigators have described the machine as useless and said vitamin cures handed out by Church members were medication that should not have been freely sold.
Judge Jean-Christophe Hullin ruled last year that the offices and members, including the group's 60-year-old French head, Alain Rosenberg, should be tried. The public prosecutor had recommended the case be shelved.
In a trial that has revived a debate about religious freedom in secular France, the defence is expected to argue the court should not intervene in religious affairs.
Scientology has faced numerous setbacks in France, with members convicted of fraud in Lyon in 1997 and Marseille in 1999. In 2002, a court fined it for violating privacy laws and said it could be dissolved if involved in similar cases.
The headquarters and bookshop account for most of the group's activities in France and a guilty verdict would in practice mean its dissolution, although it is unclear whether it could still open other branches in the future.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

A busy day at St. John's on a Saturday

15 people helped to plant the flowers in the Garden this morning.
While this was going on the volunteers from Pro-Literacy Detroit came to set up their used book sale for the day.
An Architecture tour group showed up at 10:30 to see the Church and Chapel, and the Women's Cursillo had their follow-up luncheon.

Lots of people coming and going at our wonderful building - on a Saturday morning. In the late afternoon/early evening the crowds start showing up for the Tiger game.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cool Rowing video

I love the opening 1:10 of this video, as well as 2:30 - 2:50. The views of rowing in Philly is great - really took me back....


it is a promotional video for the University of Pennsylvania

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rogation day Rambling

Not the Rambling as in our procession around the parish buildings, but rather my Rector's Rambling in the weekly Chronicle, explaining WHY....


Nothing like a parade to celebrate an occasion! That is certainly the world’s attitude. Here at St. John’s we are not strangers to secular parades. The Thanksgiving Day parade passes our building every year, and we make a great celebration of it by having pancake breakfasts, selling donuts and hot chocolate, and offering a ministry of hospitality by opening the doors to all. In my time here we have also been witness to two Red Wings’ Stanley Cup parades for which we have also had our ministry of hospitality.
In the Church, we have Processions, which is like a type of parade. The Litany is sung in procession in Lent. On Palm Sunday we have a procession around the Church in honor of our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. On Corpus Christi we have a very grand Eucharistic Procession. And of course every Sunday we have a procession into and out of the Sanctuary by the altar party, servers, and choir.
Today we have another big ‘parade’. We celebrate Rogation Sunday today and one great tradition is to “bless the bounds” of the parish. A hold over from agricultural days, the origin of this feast is to bless the fields in anticipation of our Lord’s most gracious provision for his people in nurturing the growth of the crops in the coming season. Blessing the bounds is one way to take the holiness from within the Church building and publicly display and disperse that blessing within the community and neighboring farms.
Having a parade around the boundary of the “parish”, which was a geographic system of church membership, would be hard to do since our membership is spread from as far afield as Ann Arbor, Algonac, and Pontiac. That would be one long parade! But we will have a procession around the outside of the building as a symbolic offering as well as a public witness!
The Christian Faith is a pilgrimage towards our heavenly home. We are (should be) moving forward in faithfulness and love. A procession is a wonderful reminder, a prayer in motion, of our active, living faith that Jesus Christ is Lord.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Media Panic

It would be HORRIBLE to have swine flu, and worse to die of it.

But what a PANIC the media has drummed up. Mexico's death toll has been revised from over 150 to fewer than 20.

Deaths in the USA I don't think are over 20 yet, perhaps not even 10.

FYI - Dr. Dean O'dell points out that in the USA from January to April 800 people a week die from complications of the flu. Not the swine flu, regular old flu.

Must have been a slow news week last week.

Even a local middle school got caught up in the panic - perhaps someone sneezed in the hallway and they closed the school. The state has ordered schools to re-open. Perhaps cooler heads have prevailed.

So just keep washing your hands. Always good advice - swine flu or not.

And let's see how the government responds with new ($$$$) programs (gov. control) so we don't have this 'epidemic' again.....

Who is it that said, "never let a good crisis go by" or something to that effect?


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I now have.....

...a teenager!

Happy 13th Birthday Sam!
(he is 5 1/2 in this picture...about 9 months after we moved to the Detroit Area).