Sunday, October 24, 2010

Adding to the Inventory

Well, the craft show was a total bust. It's some consolation, I suppose, that it wasn't a total success for anyone; the organizer said she'll do better on publicity the next time - when, hopefully, they'll give her more than three weeks to pull the whole thing together. My main problem, I think, was that I didn't have anything for sale below $20 (there was too much to do, so I didn't sell greeting/note cards as I'd been planning to). People just weren't spending that much money. The person next to me was selling jewelry in the $20+ range and had one sale all day. 

So, anyway, this means I'll be adding a lot of Lutheran prayer beads to my inventory. I did give out a number of brochures and business cards to interested people, so maybe we'll start a trend. The more I read the brochure on "Praying the Small Catechism with Beads" the more confused I am by it. I'd love to discuss it with a traditional Lutheran; I was actually hoping I'd be able to do that yesterday, but the chance didn't come up. The meditations seem more fearful of God, and more centered on living correctly, than I'd expect from a denomination with the mantra of salvation by faith alone.

I did learn some things I'd do differently at my next craft show - whether or not it's at a Lutheran church. Some of these involve my display, although I was basically happy with it. An acquaintance of mine whom I hadn't seen for a decade or so was also selling, and she took photos of my display on her Blackberry; when she emails them to me I can share them.  Until then, here's the first set of Lutheran prayer beads that I've added to my Etsy shop. I started with it because I wanted to send an appreciation picture to the Etsian I bought the cross from. I used this set of beads as my central display and both it and the cross got a lot of positive comments - although, of course, it didn't sell:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Time's Getting Short

It's now only five days until the craft show, and I've still completed only five Lutheran rosaries because I'm still waiting for more crosses and centers. The crosses I could buy locally but they'd be more expensive. Finding non-Catholic centers is more difficult - I've been ordering two-to-one connectors that are meant to be seen and that are in a triangular shape (that is, not just a bar with two loops on one side and one loop on the other). But I have the bodies strung for 17 more rosaries and have beads set aside for three others. I'm getting a little tired of stringing beads and I imagine that later on I'll be tired of attaching stems and crosses.

If all of those get completed, I'll have 25 rosaries for the sale. I have no idea how/if they're going to sell, so I might stop with that number. Besides, there's so much else that has to be done - I can't spend all my time making rosaries. If I'm going to sell greeting and note cards like I'm planning, I need a good number of hours to work on them (after I make a trip to Staples for a couple of colors of ink I'm running low on). I think I have about everything I need for my display, but still have to make signs and price tags. I even have to find something to wear. One list of tips on the Etsy forum says to be "casual but chic." I'm pretty good at casual, but not so hot at chic.

A lot of the things I'm worried about are issues because it's my first show (oh, and I can't forget to pick up change). I'm glad it's a small show. I'm not so sure I'm glad it's one I'm needing to make an entirely new inventory for.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

So It's Our Fault. Is that Bad - or Good?

Some time ago, an acquaintance of mine who's Catholic - a Secular Franciscan, in fact - twice sent me a petition to return prayer to the public schools (with the idea, of course, that I would sign it). The first time, I sent back an explanation of why I wouldn't sign it. The second time I just said, "Didn't we talk about this already?" and I never received it again.

I was reminded of this episode while watching God in America this past week on PBS. For anyone who didn't see it, it was a 6-hour history of religion in the United States, beginning with colonial times and continuing to the present. Besides some brief overviews of historical periods, the series basically picked out certain stories to tell at greater length. The one chosen for the period of Irish immigration to the United States was that of Bishop Hughes (not sure of his first name - John?), who worked for the right of Catholic kids in New York to get an education while still remaining Catholic.

Up until that time, public schools in New York, like most of the country, were openly Protestant and much of the material used was virulently (the program's term) anti-Catholic. Not surprisingly, Catholic parents weren't sending their kids to school. Bishop Hughes argued that, under the Constitution, each child should have an equal right to an education and, because of this, religion shouldn't be taught in the public schools. He lost a public debate on this, then turned to the ballot box by endorsing local candidates who agreed with him (something that wouldn't be done today). A number of "his" candidates won, and the measure to remove religious education from New York City public schools passed by one vote. Following this, there were violent (literally) reactions against Catholic locations - by good Christians, I'm sure.

A couple of things to note about this: There was no court case involved, so no other school district was in any way obliged to follow New York's example. Since the PBS program concentrated on specific stories, it didn't say much about how/if the idea spread. (There was a story told of the son of an atheist - decades later - sitting in the hallway while other students received religious education from their own pastors during the school day.) And taking religious education out of the public schools wasn't the same thing as removing prayer from public schools; that didn't come until much later, and the effort wasn't led by Catholics but by a group of Jewish parents (whose homes were violently attacked - by good Christians, I'm sure). It should also be mentioned that, during the time he was pressing his case, Bishop Hughes raised enough money to open a dozen Catholic schools, so the Catholics of New York weren't depending on the public schools to do everything.

Bishop Hughes and his family, like many Irish, had immigrated to the United States to escape religious persecution. He was especially insistent on his work regarding the public schools because he felt he was making the nation live up to what it said in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He considered his a very American stand. The Bill of Rights is specifically meant to protect the rights of minorities. Without that protection, a democracy could be a dangerous place for anyone who's different from the majority. During the section of the program on the Supreme Court declaration that prayer in the public schools was unconstitutional, Billy Graham was shown saying that, if a vote were taken, 80% of Americans would vote to keep prayer in the public schools.* It was that other 20% that the Court ruling - and the First Amendment - protected. When my acquaintance made the point that most parents were Christians and the majority should rule, I asked him how he'd feel about that argument if he were sending his child to a public school in a predominantly Islamic or Hindu community.

I also reminded him that Catholic schools came into being for a real reason - to allow Catholic children to escape the rule of the majority that made public schools into Protestant institutions. My aunt was denied a job teaching in a public school system during the 1930's because (as she was told to her face) "We don't hire any damn Catholics." If any group should be standing up for the separation of religion and state, it's Catholics.


*Later on, there was a very interesting part of the program on how hard Billy Graham worked (behind the scenes) to keep JFK from being elected President, solely because he was Catholic.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

First Finished Lutheran Rosaries

I've received enough centers and crosses to finish 5 Lutheran rosaries, so here are some pictures. I'm not listing these on Etsy - at least not until after the craft show - so I've taken only one view of these. Clicking on the photos won't take you to any more, but it will let you see a larger version of the photo - use your back button to go back to the blog.

I've purposely taken photos that show the configuration of the beads. The basic layout of the body is 6 sets of 6 beads each, with one large bead following each group. Each set of 7 beads (6 small and one large) is for meditation on a particular theme (I'll post more on that after I've done more work on the brochure). The stem has 4 small beads followed by a large one. This set is for meditation on the Cross.

Before it had the meditations on the Small Catechism attached to it, this rosary was meant to be a prayer aid for Lent. The configuration makes sense if looked at this way. Beginning with the stem, we have the four days (Ash Wednesday through the following Saturday) that lead into the First Sunday of Lent, with the Sunday represented by the large bead. Then are 6 sets of beads for the 6 weeks of Lent, each with 6 small beads followed by the large bead for Sunday. The final large bead on the body is the "Easter bead" and should be larger and/or lighter in color than any of the other beads on the rosary. This has been fun, although something of a challenge, because it means coordinating three kinds of beads. Note that the addition of the Easter bead makes the body asymmetrical, which is different from both Catholic and Anglican rosaries, which have symmetrical bodies; you can't hang a Lutheran rosary from a central point and have it fall evenly on both sides.

The plan I'm working from shows the use of a center, giving it a meditation on the Holy Trinity. There's one person now selling Lutheran rosaries on Etsy, and she doesn't use a center. If you go by only the original instructions (they don't have a picture) for the Lenten rosary on the ELCA site, you wouldn't use a center. But since my rosaries are being made for Missouri Synod Lutherans, I'm following the Small Catechism plan rather than the one from ELCA (seeing as how the Missouri Synod refused to join ELCA when the group was forming).

That should be enough background to understand the photos. The first rosary shown uses a set of Maryse's (GlassBeadArt's) lampwork beads for the Sundays - the Easter bead is a store-bought porcelain bead:

I've made 5 more bodies that are waiting for centers and crosses, and more beads coming to make more rosaries. I have no idea how/if these will sell, so I'm going to make as many as I can before the show on October 23. While I'm waiting for more materials to arrive, I'd better work on the brochure.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What to Do with a Cat Sleeping on Your Lap

Since I've been basically trapped in my chair, I decided to go ahead and post the Etsy treasury I've been working on. It's a rather contrary response to a challenge to make a Halloween treasury - I decided to go with All Hallows instead of All Hallows' Eve. Items from four of our prayersonawire team members are included. And if you want, you can play "Find the Franciscans"; there are seven Franciscan saints represented - some of them are a bit tricky.

You can see the treasury here.

For those not familiar with Etsy treasuries, they're collections of things for sale that follow a certain theme.

Friday, October 8, 2010

More on Our Lady of the Rosary - and the Rosary

Someone in my SFO email discussion group shared this today. It's the St. Anthony Messenger "Saint of the Day" from yesterday, October 7, about Our Lady of the Rosary:

It gives some history as well as thoughts on why someone might want to pray the Rosary in the first place.


For the sake of tradition, here are a few of my more traditional-looking rosaries. As usual, a click on a picture will take you to more photos and a full description: 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Alas, Poor Luther

Occasionally, I'll run across a quote from Martin Luther that makes me feel sorry for him. I think he must have struggled against fear his entire life. I've just run across some meditations that support this. 

I've been invited to have a table at a craft fair at a Lutheran school towards the end of October, so I had to find instructions on how to make a Lutheran rosary and how to use it. I knew such a thing existed, with meditations based on Luther's Small Catechism, and it didn't take too long to find what I needed online. I read through everything, to see if there was anything I wasn't comfortable supporting, and didn't find a thing. There were a couple of implied disagreements with Catholic teaching, such as a meditation about having the "confidence to pray directly to God," which, of course, isn't a disagreement with Catholic teaching but may have been a disagreement with Luther's understanding of it - especially since so much of his own spirituality seems to come from fear.

Some examples:
  • On one set of beads, you have the choice of praying “For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.” (Psalm 25:11) or “Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, for I am a sinner.”
  • At the end of the meditation on the ten commandments, the prayer is, "Save me Lord, I am afraid, I have not done all you have commanded.”
  • And one of the meditations says: When we are terrified by our own sins, we can seek assurance that God has selected us for salvation and forgives our sins.
There's nothing wrong with any of this, but it certainly does sound as if it was written by someone who knew what it was like to be afraid, and to be terrified by his own sins. For myself, I don't recall ever being terrified by my sins. Discouraged, frustrated, impatient, contrite and embarrassed, yes; terrified, not really.

In an essay elsewhere, I've put two analogies side by side. One is Luther's statement that human beings are like dungheaps and humans saved by faith in Christ are dungheaps covered with snow. The other is from Thérèse of Lisieux, who compared us humans to a small child who stands at the bottom of a staircase and wants to climb it because her father is at the top and she wants to go to him. The child lifts her little foot but her legs are too short to reach the next step. As she keeps trying, her father's heart fills with love and pity for her; he descends the stairs, picks her up and carries her in his arms to the top.

Both of those analogies make the point that we humans aren't capable of saving ourselves - there's no way we can earn our salvation. But I don't think of the little child as being "terrified" by her inability to climb the stairs, especially if (as Luther seems to have felt) that terror would be directed at her father. Unlike Luther's dungheaps, the small child doesn't need saving because she's basically evil, but simply because she's incapable.

Luther seems to have gone through a period in his life when he did believe he had to be responsible for his own salvation. In fact, that attitude became part of the sin that had to be repented of:
  • When we rely on ourselves for salvation, we turn away from God. The part of us that wants to do this must be drowned in contrition and repentance, so that a new person can arise and live before God in righteousness.
I don't think Thérèse suffered from the delusion that she had to rely on herself for salvation. Toward the end of her life, she did experience spiritual darkness, but seemingly not the fear that Luther battled. For Thérèse, "the good God" was always there, although there were times when she felt she couldn't reach Him. I think that difference between the two of them shows itself in many of the differences between their spiritualities. 


I haven't made any Lutheran rosaries yet, so how about some Anglican ones?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Happy Feast Day

I don't have any great thoughts to go along with this. I just wanted to wish a happy Solemnity of Francis of Assisi to all the SFO's, OSF's, OSC's, OFM's, OFMCap's, OFMConv's, TOR's, and any other Franciscans out there - and those who wish they were (you could be, you know).

The only wisdom I'll leave you with is my favorite quote attributed to Francis. I think it pretty much sums up Francis's life - and Franciscan life:

Preach the Gospel at all times. 
When necessary, use words.