Our first profile is Jane Ellen of Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus. Jane Ellen joined the webring on the very first day -- the 4th to join the ring. She describes herself as "a wife, mother, and Episcopal deacon (the transitional sort, if you're paying attention to such things)."
Briefly... I was born in North Carolina, because my father was in the service at the time. Mom & I moved back to northwest Indiana to live with my grandparents when I was only a few weeks old, because Dad was sent overseas. After he was discharged, we stayed in the area. After high school I went to college, leaving Purdue four years later with a degree in Metallurgical Engineering and a husband. Bruce and I moved to Ohio for a time, then over to Illinois, and finally back to Indiana several years ago. Along the way we added a daughter (Carolyn, now 18) and a son (Kyle, 11).
Somewhere along the way, I realized that God was calling me to something different than what I was doing. After a very long time of trying to ignore an itch I couldn't scratch, I finally gave up-- contacted my bishop and began the process toward ordination in the Episcopal Church. With the consent of my parish discernment committee and diocesan Commission on Ministry, I entered seminary in 2002, and graduated last June. I was ordained to the priesthood in October, and am serving this year as the assistant at St. Andrew's by the Lake Episcopal Church in Michigan City, Indiana. I also serve on the pastoral team at theChurch of Jesus Christ Reconciler, a small, multi-denominational congregation recently begun in the Rogers Park area of Chicago.
Why do you blog?
I learned about blogging when I was in seminary, as a few of our courses required posting to a class blog, or commenting on what others had posted there. I then discovered that people I cared about-- my favorite professor, and classmate and buddy Tripp-- had personal blogs. I started reading, and then commenting... and I was hooked. It's a fascinating way to share, and learn, and a world that reaches far beyond the world I see every day.
What has been your best blogging experience?
Through blogging I've had the opportunity to get to know some wonderful people that I never would have met otherwise. Many of these new friendships have remained in cyberspace, but a few have resulted in "in-person" encounters as well. That has been such a treat!
What would be your main advice to a novice blogger?
Go for it! There are a lot of sophisticated ways to set up a blog, but systems like Blogger or Live Journal make getting started so very easy anymore. And if you have questions, feel free to post them, or to ask other bloggers for suggestions. I have found the cyberspace community to be wonderfully eager to help.
If you only had time to read three blogs a day, what would they be (not RevGal blogs, please)?
Golly, that would be hard! I use blogs to keep in contact with friends and colleagues, as well as for intellectual and spiritual stimulation. Thank God for my RSS reader, which makes checking a pile of blogs so much easier! Today, the first three I checked were:
St. Jerome's Chapel: Reflections on the saints and martyrs in the church's calendar of feast days.
Get Religion: a blog which reviews and critiques media coverage of religion and religious issues.
Dylan's Lectionary Blog: weekly links and reflections on the upcoming Sunday's readings.
Tomorrow will undoubtedly be different.
Who are your spiritual heroes?
That's also a long list. Paul, or Augustine, or Macrina; Martin Luther King, or Fleming Rutledge, or my grandmother. In daily life, I am most inspired by quiet lives of committed, faithful souls. More and more I'm convinced that a focus on Jesus, and the effort of responding to God by godly living, accomplishes more than anything. People who make that effort, day in and day out, are spiritual heroes.
What are you reading at the moment?
I'm working through a study we're leading through Lent, on Spirituality and the Lord's Prayer. I also have the current Anglican Theological Review on my nightstand.
What is your favorite hymn and why?
Just one? No way. Can't do it! Music is so integral to the way I worship, and how I live my life. Plainsong chant, traditional hymnody, contemporary praise... there's something in all of it that gives my soul wings.
Can you name a major moral, political, or intellectual issue on which you've changed your mind?
There was a time when the issue of abortion seemed much simpler to me. A woman had the right to control her body, end of discussion. Then, years ago, I read a news article (a pro-choice piece published on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade) about a group of women who had learned to perform abortions before they were legal in this country, so that other women could have them safely, rather than resort to "back-alley" butchering. In the article, these women told of performing the procedure, and needing to keep track of the fetal body parts (identifiable even in the early stages of pregnancy) as they were removed, so later problems would not develop from tissue being left behind. The descriptions were much more vivid than I will write here. My stomach churned. I was forced to really think about the ramifications for the first time.
I am still unsure of the wisdom of making abortion wholly illegal, as there are the occasional cases where it does seem to this medical layperson to be the lesser of evils (I hate that sort of choice, but there it is). Additionally, desperate women will go to desperate lengths not to be pregnant, and the results of that are equally ugly and wrong. So you won't see me picketing providers. However, I have become morally and theologically convinced of the error of the choice of abortion, and of our need to provide alternatives (the legitimate encouragement of abstinence, and reliable, safe contraception, and adoption, and prenatal care, and concrete as well as moral and spiritual support) so that the desperate choice is a rare one. This is why I have a child by adoption as well as by birth. And why I have cried with and counseled rape victims, as well as young women who fooled around and got caught. And why I have worked with birth and adoptive parents, providing emotional support as well as baby formula and diapers.
What worldview do you think is most important to combat?
"Looking out for number one." Self-care is important, but egocentrism (as individual, church or country) gets us into more trouble...
What would be your most important piece of advice about life?
"Love the Lord, with all your heart... and love your neighbor as much as you do yourself. Everything hangs on this."
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do now)?
I'm in the process of looking for a permanent call, after my assistantship is done. The search processes in which I am involved all seem to be Out West, which is exciting and intriguing to a woman who's spent all her life in the midwest.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I sew-- custom work (prom dresses, dance costumes, the occasional vestment) as well as do alterations. I am S-L-O-W-L-Y learning to knit. I sing, or listen to music. And I blog!
Editor's note: make sure you check out the ordination pictures on her flikr!