Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Monday, April 20, 2015

Catholic Teaching Moment

The incumbent archbishop’s laying down the law has radicalized Catholic high school students, teachers and many lay people. The official teachings of the church on homosexuality, birth control, abortion and hierarchical power were proclaimed clearly by the archbishop. Now many Catholics newly see the narrow, restrictive and hostile laws of that church. The archbishop has done the members a favor by dramatizing the cruel effects of the teachings of the church. Many of the members are rightly questioning the church’s laws.

Monday, April 13, 2015


Doubting Thomas Sunday 4/12/15, 2015

During the 40 days of the Easter season we celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead, defeated death and appeared to the two Marys and his disciples. We have heard the lessons, sung the hymns, cracked the eggs signifying new life from the tomb.

Many people take the story literally, as an historical moment, as absolute truth. That is wonderful. If that gives you joy and peace. WONDERFUL.

Perhaps it gives hope that we too will survive our own death, go to heaven and be in the eternal presence of God.

I have many Episcopal friends and Mormon relatives who take the story literally.

We hear in the Gospel story of Thomas, one of Jesus disciples says,  “Unless I see the marks of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the marks of the nails and my hands in his side, I will not believe.”

We should be good very good doubters: Doubt
About the police version of how black men are shot in the back.
Anything that comes out of Washington, from the Republicans or Democrats. Doubt anything reported in our media about Russia, China or North Korea.

We Christians love our enemies. Media hates them. We seldom read or hear reports about the good things that happen in Iran or Palestine.


I have been to Dachau, outside of Munich, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. Next Wednesday is Holocaust Memorial Day. Pray for the dead. Pray also for the Native Americans, Armenians and Bosnians who have died in holocausts.

Thomas was the first doubter but not the last. There are some if not many who do not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus. We have doubts. There is no empirical evidence that Jesus rose again, only the word of the writers of the New Testament.

Some believe in the mythology. The resurrection is a powerful story making us look at life after death. Some take the word of the theologians. They have prayed and thought deeply and written their opinions. Some believe by faith. In the words of Jesus,
“Blessed are those who have not seen but have come to believe.”

In our Episcopal Church no one is going to give you a quiz, check the accuracy of your belief or even check your spelling of the word resurrection. You will believe what you hear or you won’t, and no one cares.

We do say the Creeds, which begin with the words, I or We believe in a whole list of theological ideas. I personally wish we did not say them in public worship, as they are unnecessary barriers to newcomers who might be interested in joining us. But many insist we honor the ancient creeds as part of our religious heritage.  The worship committee and the Vicar allow them to be included in our worship. But there is no quiz. No one knows exactly what any of us believe or even cares. Say the creed or not, but enjoy the worship.

One of my seminary professors said, "A measure of the maturity of one's faith is the amount of agnosticism it can hold without breaking." I would add. Doubt is a good thing. It wards off certitude, which is a danger to the search for truth and reasonableness. 

All you have to do is come and hang out with our rag tag seekers and come to the table for the blessed bread and wine. All you have to do is show up. Your belief or lack of belief is not our business.

One of our long time members came to church with his partner, did not ever take communion, he argued with the clergy about the absurdity of the virgin birth and resurrection.  He came to the church and one day simply came to take the bread and the wine. He now comes regularly. The doubts are still there, the belief comes and goes. But he shows up regularly at the table and feed us as he is fed.

Don’t worry about belief, just show up.

Show up for feeding people
Show to learn and read with the book club.
Show up and forgive you enemies
Show up to be in community at the Holy table
Show up to teach kids to read
Show up against war
Show up to walk the streets of the Mission

Show up and enjoy our holy family at St. John’s.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


On Funerals

I do not want a Celebration of Life when I die. I want a funeral. That event is where you can let it all hang out, cry, sob and shed tears. A funeral is not about the dead. It is about the living people who have lost someone they love. The funeral is a time when the family and community gather to express grief. The readings from the Bible, the Psalms and the Hymns elicit grief and sorrow for the family and friends of the person who has died.

Our society shrinks from sadness and death. There is not time for lamentation and mourning. If we do not mourn, we will not recover in a healthy way from sadness and deep grief. We would rather remember the good times, the fun times and the inspiring times. These days a celebration of life is held where one is forbidden to mourn.

I have my funeral all planned. It will be in our local Episcopal Church, a full liturgy, music, singing and weeping. All will be welcome to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion. If you do not weep the ushers will show you to the door.

There will be a full food and booze reception after the service. Anyone wishing to say something about me is welcome to do so.

When one dies we mourn, we feel sad and bad. Render your hearts in mourning and then have a good time at the reception following. When a loved one dies be prepared to have a year or more of sadness, which will come and go.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Anger at Illness

When people get sick, are in pain and in the hospital, they often are angry. They take it out on doctors, nurses, relatives and their bodies. They want to blame others for their distress. When you get sick to your stomach you may blame it on something you ate.  I used to blame my doctor for not warning me that the cartilage in my hip was wearing out. He should have told me to stop running. Some people get angry at themselves for being in pain. They think they have done something wrong. There is even a notion among some that being sick is God’s punishment for their sins.

Not everyone can be the patient patient, the serene bearer of all things or a perfect saint when it comes to being sick. Often we are just plain angry at the pain, discomfort, distress and helplessness of recovering from surgery or chemotherapy. We feel angry bereft and hopeless when we are not in control of what is happening to our bodies.

Feeling angry is a natural and normal part of being human. Anger is a basic emotion that arises in us when we are sick and sometimes when we least expect it. Perhaps it happens when someone we love scolds us suddenly.

Many people think anger is a sin and it is to be squelched. Others think anger is an unworthy feeling and should not be recognized. If you try to escape anger, it will always find you. Suppressing anger for too long may lead to an outbreak of violence.

My mantra is when you feel angry, notice it, watch it, allow yourself to feel how your heart beats, how your breathing quickens, your fists and jaw clench. Allow those bodily feeling to occur in you and don’t do anything, just feel the anger.  Take a deep breath or two, relax, try to think about how you feel and still feeling the anger in your body. Take some more deep breaths.

Then think about what you want to do about the anger that you felt, the person or event that triggered he anger.

If you are ill and in pain when you feel the anger, allow the feeling of anger to arise fall and get you to a place where you may want to get help, a pill, talk about it or sleep.

Sometimes there is nothing that can be done. You just have to lie there and allow the time to go by. Noting the anger probably won’t solve all your problems. But seeing your anger as a friend, a helper, a source of energy for healing and change.

When African-Americans got angry enough, they brought a non-violent revolution that crated healing, change and justice.

Letting you anger work for you, may be a way toward healing and joy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Jesus Gets Angry

Sermon for March 8, Third Sunday in Lent: 2015

The gospel story is that Jesus drove moneychangers from the temple. Jesus was full of self-righteous anger. Jesus is just like you and me.

Jesus is truly human – a lot of debate about that in the early days of the Christian Church. This story shows his basic humanity

Some of the first century’s debates were, Donatism, Gnosticism, Marcionism, Manichaeism and others. Look them up for some fun reading.

Our basic Christian concept is that JESUS WAS TRULY MAN AND TRULY GOD. That is the beginning of a discussion, not the end of it.

2. For us today in this world and our parish and you and me we rejoice that Jesus got angry, we get angry. All human beings get angry.

Facebook, Twitter. New places for anger.  Road Rage, Get even Rage are new ways to express anger that hurts.

Being angry is not a sin. What we do with our anger is where we can physically or emotionally hurt other people.

We get angry at our children’s behavior. We admit we are angry, mad or furious. Then we can calm down and decide what to do with our child or ourselves to handle the anger. We can cuddle, cajole, kiss, argue, reason and sometimes even smack the kid. Not popular these days but we do it anyway.

When we get angry, we can make social change.

Rosa Parks, MLK, Jr. Nelson Mandela got mad at racial discrimination and they helped bring about enormous changes in our race relations.

Today 50th Anniversary of the brutality at Selma, the nation and the world and even the congress got angry and the Civil rights legislation was passed. That happened on a Sunday in Selma.

Roman Catholics got mad and challenged the current RC Archbishop of SF for his reprehensible rules for teacher and student behavior.

People are getting angry that they can’t die with dignity when they are in great pain or misery at the end of their lives. More and more Baby Boomers growing older want to be able to request life-ending medication.

3. Why aren’t we more angry?

Street gangs, drug dealing and death from drugs make us do what we can to bring about change.
24/ work weeks, no extra pay.
Low paying jobs for the working poor.
At obscene salaries for a few and poverty for the rest.
Overcrowded prisons, homelessness, mental and emotional illness.
The deep humanity of the Man Jesus who gets furious, who heals the sick and sights injustice is an inspiration for me and perhaps others here.




Non-Violence can be taught.

The gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to do, to minister to the hungry, widows, orphans, the sick and to seek justice against oppression. Pay taxes to finance the needs of the oppressed.


Do Not Rob Me of Anger

DEAR LORD, I am filled with anger born of frustration.  I confess I know not whether all my anger is of you.  I just know I am filled with hope, which makes me angry that others are not so filled.  Take away the self-aggrandizing righteousness that so often accompanies such anger, but please do not rob me of the anger.  It is energy.  Make it to be of service.  Help me pass it on.  We are taught by the world to fear anger.  Yet we know that you are a just judge, angry because we are not justly angry.  We want you to be like us—get along by going along.  You will not play that game.  You expect your church to be faithful—yes, angry.  Make us a people with dark brows capable of scaring a few folk.  May they look at us and say, “Those guys are so filled with love their anger overflows.”  AMEN

- Stanley Hauerwas