Archive for July, 2016

The View from Madison Avenue

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Since Incarnation has been located on the legendary street of advertisers since 1852, we naturally think in terms of how we as a church are perceived by potential “customers.”

What does the Episcopal Church brand say to people who pass by our churches? In the eyes of the average American, what do we stand for? How does our organization differ in values and purpose from, say, the Girl Scouts or the YMCA? And what can we as individuals do to promote our brand?

I have no easy answers to these questions. But I do think that promoting the brand has to begin at the top. In the Church of England, there are many new initiatives intended to promote the growth of parishes: Fresh Expressions, Messy Church, and leadership training, for example.

Granted, the C of E is much more centrally governed than the Episcopal Church. Still, it would be nice to see some new programs from the Presiding Bishop and Executive Council that put our name out to the public and make people want to come through our doors. —J. Douglas Ousley


Death on the Azure Coast

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal published a picture of employees of the Hotel Le Negresco in Nice, France. They were standing on the Promenade des Anglais, where 84 people died last week, run over by a mad lone terrorist.

Two years ago, my wife and I stayed at the Negresco when we visited Nice; we often walked along the Promenade “of the English,” which is a block from the English church I have assisted various times over the years.

An additional reason to be upset by such suffering is the way such tragedies are mounting up. The official French mourning period of three days was hardly over when three police were assassinated in Baton Rouge, and the media raced off to cover another horrible event. Last week, a network news producer told me how she and a colleague were looking at “raw” news feeds last week and found themselves depressed.

It is with slight but significant relief that we can at least offer prayers for the victims of violence. That’s one thing we can do. God help us. —J. Douglas Ousley


Novel Ideas

Friday, July 8th, 2016

I love to read novels–so much that I confine my reading to my Thursday day-off and summer vacations. The rest of the time, professional reading has a priority.

Happily, a recent vacation gave me time to enjoy great fiction, including vintage a Mickey Spillane tough-guy detective story, Dressed to Kill, and a new thriller by Lisa Lutz, The Passenger. I grant that such works are certainly “escapist”–with exciting, impossible coincidences and superhuman talents. But these works do challenge our imaginations. The Passenger, for example raises fascinating questions about guilt and innocence–topics not uninteresting to the Christian.

Like films, novels challenge the imagination, and in so doing, challenge the soul. —J. Douglas Ousley