Thursday, January 29, 2015

Good Clergy, Part 6: Episcopal Diocese Asks for Resignation of Heather Elizabeth Cook

Well, that took longer than expected. The Episcopal Church figured out that Heather Elizabeth Cook "can no longer function effectively as the Bishop Suffragan" in light of her involvement in the drunk driving hit and run death of Thomas Palermo. They've asked for her resignation of that post

Am I the only one that feels that they haven't gone far enough? Maybe I'm a little too outraged, but perhaps the Episcopal Church isn't outraged enough

This woman's ass should be fired. And not just from the Bishop Suffragan position. Unless the Church thinks she's going to be ministering from a Maryland prison, they need to defrock her completely. For the act alone of killing another human being, even by accident, and then leaving him to die, she should be so done as a member of the clergy. 

As of this writing, she hasn't said whether or not she will resign her post. The fact is that she shouldn't have been asked; she should have been told she was out. 

I'm glad the Church is praying for her, but I hope they're praying even harder for Thomas Palermo. And they should also pray that his widow doesn't go after the Church. I don't know that she'd have a case against them, could be a continuing media feeding frenzy. 

Stay tuned. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Deck Review: The Quest Tarot

The Quest Tarot

I picked up this deck in Salem, MA, a few years back in the winter. Salem’s a great place to buy tarot cards—I think I came home with more than a couple of decks that day—but next time I’ll do it when it’s not snowing. BRRRRRRR! But I digress.

To get the most out of this deck, get the boxed set that has both the deck and the book. There are many correspondences across the top of each card that represent astrological signs, gemstones, planets, runes, the I Ching, and the Kabbalah. The book will help decode the symbols for you.

All of the suits retain their traditional names, except for Pentacles which is represented by “Stones”. The Court Card titles are not traditional; they are Father (King), Mother (Queen), Son (Knight), and Daughter (Page).

While the symbols are an excellent way to integrate your knowledge of the tarot with other related disciplines, it can get a little busy at the top of the card. Also, all of the cards, Major and Minor Arcana alike, have a Roman numeral at the top center, so without looking at the title of each card it’s not possible to know which Arcana is which.

The cards are really beautiful and bright, and have some traditional RWS tarot imagery. It takes liberties with the images but they come off more optimistically than in many other decks. For example, the Fool looks much happier, and a larger, gorgeous landscape can be shown around him, including a river, a rainbow, and a half circle of stars in the distance. The Five of Pentacles (Stones), whose traditional image shows two poor people outside a church, shows a simple picture of five stones in the Quest Tarot.

One of the factors that makes this a good deck for a beginner is that each card has a description underneath the card name in the bottom center of each card. For example, the Four of Wands’ description is “perfection. While this card certainly has other meanings, it’s nice to have a key word to use if you blank on the meaning of a card (and this happens even to those of us who have been reading for some time). As long as you don’t allow these meanings to be absolutes and only as a jumping off point for your own intuition you’ll be just fine.

My favorite card in this deck is The Tower. It shows flaming rocks heading toward the tower, and to me it expresses exactly what you would feel if you were sitting in that Tower just thinking that today was going to be ordinary and then looking outside. Even the word on the card, “demolition” is very appropriate; the word is rather neutral and describes the removal of something no longer useful to us.

I really enjoy this deck. It allows both beginners and advanced tarot students the opportunity to learn about many of the tarot’s correspondences in a bright, beautiful, artistic way. Remember: Buy the set.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Good Clergy Part 5: Baltimore Sun Reader Calls Out Heather Elizabeth Cook

This letter to the Baltimore Sun sums up perfectly how I feel about this case. A huge kudos to Ms. MacCuaig for having the courage to write it. I've included it here in its entirety.

Episcopal Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook and the tragedy of bicyclist Tom Palermo's accidental death at her hands are the subject of daily news articles, yet the incident has been conspicuously absent from The Sun's letters column ("Bishop Cook posts $2.5M bond, to be released," Jan. 15).

Perhaps there has been a desire, albeit misguided, to protect Ms. Cook given the agony we must assume she is in.

Nevertheless, the news that Judge Nicole Pastore Klein will not reduce her $2.5 million bail at least feels something like justice. The fact that Ms. Cook put herself in treatment at Father Martin's Ashley after the accident is unimpressive.

Ask anyone who has ever had a DUI or other drug offense and you'll find that such a ploy for clemency after the fact is just that — a ploy.

Ms. Cook should have put herself back into rehab years ago.

Instead, she has led what could be called a double, even duplicitous, life: On the one hand preaching and leading within the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, and on the other indulging alcohol abuse that resulted in extraordinary recklessness and the death of a man who, by all rights, should be alive today.

The carelessness and hypocrisy is overwhelming, and overwhelmingly discouraging. Jail is the appropriate place for her.

Myra MacCuaig, Towson

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tolerance vs. Acceptance: Duke University Caves to Pressure

Duke University, one of the most well-known institutions of higher learning in the world, did an amazing thing, striking a blow for acceptance: They planned to have Muslim students chant the "adhan", or call to prayer service, every Friday morning from the University's bell tower. 

In a stunning reversal, however, they didn't even do it one time before it was cancelled, a victim of a boycott started by what sounds like angry Christian donors. They interpreted the move as "anti-Christian", citing the most recent terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo. 

Also, Duke University cites "serious and credible" threats they have received, but did not give further details. 

This is exactly the kind of shit we don't need. Let's make a few things clear:

1) The attack on Charlie Hebdo was not an attack on Christianity. It was an attack on humanity. 
2) Choosing to accept another spiritual path in a public way is NOT an offense to any other religion.
3) Muslims are already harmed regularly by the assumption that they are terrorists. But acts of terrorism by members of Christian groups against abortion clinics and medical professionals who perform abortions do NOT label Christians as terrorists. That's a pretty serious double standard. 

I'm disappointed in Duke University. They're covering their own asses by choosing to cancel the call to prayer. I understand that no one wants violence, but people KNOW that if they make a threat that authorities think are credible, institutions will cave in. And Duke did just that, even though they have had a history of supporting Muslim students.

Omid Safi, director of Duke's Islamic Studies Center, said, "We had hoped for a symbolic action that would shine a light on how a leading international university of the American south can be a place where the symbol of Christian heritage of the university is demonstrating hospitality to its Muslim community members." 

Duke University says they remain "committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant, and welcoming campus for all its students." If the University was really committed, it would have the call to prayer and address the threats as they occur. For now, they remain hostages to public opinion. 

The article goes on to say that Muslim students are scared and disappointed. If I was one of them I'd consider leaving over it.

Sorry, Duke. You get an "F" for letting terrorists win, because this is exactly what they want. It's as simple as that. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Good Clergy, Part 4: Heather Elizabeth Cook Posts Bail; Episcopal Church Considers Punishment and Election Process

I'm disappointed to report that Ms. Cook was released from jail on Thursday the 15th. Somehow she actually posted the $2.5 million bond and is on her way to a treatment facility. Luckily for all of us, part of the court's order was that she not drive while she is free, assuming she choose to abide by it. She'll be at a treatment facility and hopefully won't need to drive anywhere.

I disagree with the judge's decision...if it had been her 1st DUI maybe I could see letting her post bail. But for a second involving a fatality? She was also in a position of trust, and to me that merits a stronger punishment.

The Baltimore Sun also reports that the Episcopal Church is considering what punishment to hand down to Ms. Cook. To me this is a no-brainer: She should be defrocked. She killed an innocent person, for fuck's sake. She gave up her right to perform her duties as a member of clergy when she ran into a cyclist and left him at the scene to die. 

To me there's no "deliberation" required. I don't care if she was somehow found innocent of this crime in court, which isn't going to happen anyway; she's done enough damage to her own reputation and that of the Episcopal Church that she can no longer carry out her duties. She's unfit for the clergy. At least 7 people, half of them priests or deacons, will make a recommendation to a board of review, who will hand down the punishment. But honestly, any punishment less than "get the fuck out" is a slap on the wrist for me.

Finally, it appears that the Episcopal Church is looking into the election process. According to the Baltimore Sun, "Church officials say Cook disclosed the charges to a search committee. But they say delegates who voted in the election knew nothing of the charges." The same group that is investigating Cook's case will also be undertaking the review of her election. They will be doing interviews with those who took part in the election, and establish what they knew, as well as with people who worked with Ms. Cook during her time as a priest.

There needs to be complete transparency for there to be healing in this case. I wouldn't be surprised to hear the Episcopal Church put new standards in place to ensure that elections are not only done fairly, but that everyone involved has full knowledge of the facts, especially about the candidates.

Positive thoughts and prayers to them. This is going to be ugly no matter how you slice it. As long as they're open about what they find, and as long as they don't allow Heather Elizabeth Cook to minister to anyone ever again, I think they can be successful.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Welcome Aquarius and Mercury Retrograde!

Welcome, friends, to the first full day of Aquarius sun, which started yesterday at 6:30am!

Mercury retrograde also begins tomorrow. If you're unfamiliar with what to watch out for during Mercury retrograde, here's the drill: 

Unless you have no choice...

1) Do not sign any important paperwork. 
2) Do not get married or divorced. 
3) Do not make any large purchases (home, etc.). 
4) Do not have any major conversations about anything with any important person (spouse, boss, etc.).
5) Do not purchase a new computer, upgrade a new computer, or do any significant computer work during Merc retro. (New apps on your phone are about as far as I would go, but you should be careful with those too!)

If you must do any of these things, take precautions...make backups, check frequently to ensure understanding, go over all paperwork with a fine-toothed comb, and cross your fingers!

Merc retro has already fucked me over once. I called for a takeout order from a national chain and I called the wrong location. When I got there the lady was very apologetic and asked if she could put my order in...D'OH! At least she was very nice! :)

I'll take your Merc retro stories if you're willing to share them. Good luck! :)

Monday, January 19, 2015

7 Things to do if a Tarot Reading Makes You Uncomfortable

This is a fantastic article on tarot and getting readings! It actually summarizes some of the points that I try to stress when I read for people. 

One of the few things I would add is that we DO indeed know when you are lying or trying to make us prove ourselves to you. Luckily that only happens very rarely in my tarot practice; I'm blessed to have clients who are up front and honest. That's the way to get the most out of your reading, anyway; instead of going away disappointed you can get the information you came for. 

There is one other policy I live by in my tarot practice that seems to have served me well. Those of you who read cards may want to consider adopting it, and it's rather simple: I never pressure anyone to have a reading. Ever. It's not just because I'm not a hard-sell person, from a business perspective; it's greater than that. If people aren't ready for the message, you trying to get them to spill isn't going to help, and then they may get angry for a message they weren't prepared for. I actually regularly discourage clients who pressure others in front of me, too, by just reminding people that if they're too scared or not ready for a reading, that it's totally normal and there's nothing wrong with it. 

Anyway, enjoy the article! :)