Blog Template Theology of the Body: April 2006

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Self Indulgence on the Day of Rest

Total Weekend Therapy, and a good way to break the ice and make introductions. Thanks, dear MM.

Accent: Awful midwestern, especially when I'm nervous or argumentative
Chore I Hate: taking out trash and refilling humidifiers
Dog or Cat: Deer, lots of them
Essential Electronics: Mac ibook, and pod, new pink razor cell that is adorable!
Favorite Cologne(s): soap and White Linen
Gold or Silver: usually silver or white gold
Hometown: Heaven
Insomnia: sometimes, usually involves typing, pasting, or packing
Job Title: student--only for three more weeks!
Kids: only nieces and one upcoming nephew
Living arrangements: currently in my first house in Sandia foothills
Most admirable trait: husband says my intuition
Overnight hospital stays: mother had appendicitis while I was in womb
Phobias: bad sounds, avian flu, employment
Quote: "Be slow to chuse your friends and slower to leave them"--B. Franklin (and he did spell it with a u)
Religion: Christian, PCA, Holy Catholic Church as understood in Apostle's Creed
Siblings: oldest of 4--2 sisters and 1 brother
Time I wake up: Between 6-8 generally--and 5 on snowdays
Unusual talent or skill: was told I'm a prophetess by Christian high school Algebra teacher
Vegetable I refuse to eat: plain radiches
Worst habit: failure to acknowledge bad habits
X-rays: too many
Yummy stuff I cook: lately things with homemade crusts (quiche, pie, tarts)
Zodiac sign: Aquarius

More than you could possibly want to know

I'm practicing my obedience that I will need as a cleric by obeying the chief blogger and accepting my tag...

I get a lot of flack for being the only person to actually pronounce the word "water" the way God intended.

Chore I Hate:
I hate housecleaning, especially kitchens and bathrooms.

Dog or Cat:
Dog. My dog just passed away last week. She is greatly missed.

Essential Electronics:
Computer, TV with cable, DVD player, cell phone, CD player, anything that can be used to make beats (including a table top and a spoon).

Favorite Cologne(s):

Gold or Silver:
If you're offering.


Not usually.

Job Title:
Soon a deacon, if it pleases God.

Aren't we all.

Living arrangements:
Still breathing at last check.

Most admirable trait:
My inability to let a pun go by.

Overnight hospital stays: Amazingly, none. All of my hospital stuff has been within a day. My last emergency room trip, though, wasn't over until the wee hours of the morning, if that counts.

Germs. Nuclear war. The Hymnal, 1982.

"For as all die in Adam, so all are made alive in Christ Jesus." - Paul

Religion: Disciple of Jesus Christ. Or, as Father WB put it so well: Catholic, Anglican, and Episcopalian--in that order.


Time I wake up:
Left to my own devices, usually about 8:00. When I have to be somewhere then 6:30.

Unusual talent or skill:
A well honed impression of Ludo from "The Labirynth."

Vegetable I refuse to eat:
Brussel Sprouts.

Worst habit:
Removing questions about "sexual partners" from memes.

Good grief, dozens. I'm not sure what part of my body hasn't been exposed to radiation at some point.

Yummy stuff I cook:
I make really good homemade pesto.

Zodiac sign:
Capricorn. That's right, I'm a goat with a fish tail. Kind of sums up things, really.

Monica, Mother of Saint Augustine of Hippo, 387

"The child of those tears shall never perish..."

One of those maternal and spousal saints who taught her child to pray really well; who then prayed for her child faithfully throughout his variegated life of bumping into Love, and ultimately was graced to participate with him in a legendary vision of the glory of God.

She was a faithful wife in an unhappy marriage, but she was able to exercise a veritable apostolate amongst the wives and mothers of her hometown. She also pursued her wayward son Augustine from city to city until he was baptized by Ambrose, and found his rest in "Him who was higher than his higest and more inward than his inmost self." (Augustine, Confessions III)

As the patron saint of married women and of wayward children lost to addictions, Monica is invoked today especially by the members of an international archconfraternity under her patronage, whose object is the mutual prayer for sons and husbands who have gone astray.

"Omnipotent God, you perseveringly pursue your wayward sons and daughters not with wild threats, but with their parents' prayerful cries to heaven. May all mothers in our day learn to draw their children to God. Teach them how to remain close to their children, even their prodigal sons and daughters who have sadly gone astray. Amen."


MM tagged me:

Accent: Before I became self-conscious about it, "none," e.g. "American." Lately I have been adding more and more of a drawl, which alternates with clipped British intonations on words like "trespasses," where the "a" is unusually short.
Chore I Hate: All of them. Except washing dishes, which I do with unusual relish.
Dog or Cat: Cats, although I have nothing against dogs; cats are just easier in everyway. Plus, cats and I seem to have an innate understanding of each other. No doubt it's the mutual love of naps.
Essential Electronics: Laptop, which with external monitor, wireless keyboard and mouse has become desktop; cell phone, which is primarily used for text messaging.
Favorite Cologne(s): None. Or, as a friend of mine recently put it, "Prell."
Gold or Silver: Neither. I abhor jewelry (on my person).
Hometown: Portsmouth, Virginia. Major exports: Me.
Insomnia: I wish. I fantasize that if I had insomnia I could get a lot more done in my life. In fact, I would probably just spend that time on the internet.
Job Title: "Mud," if I don't mobilize and finish grad school.
Kids: I have nothing against the little imps.
Living arrangements: Apartment, although for over a year I have been insisting that I am about to move any month now.
Most admirable trait: I really couldn't say. False humility?
Number of sexual partners: Anything greater than zero is sealed by the confessional! (It's zero.)
Overnight hospital stays: One, week-long hospital stay following major surgery in 2001. That was a scary time.
Phobias: Claustrophobia, Hypochondria, Academia.
Quote: "Art is whatever the artist says it is."--Myself. (I am eminently quotable.)
Religion: Roman Catholic, by the grace of God.
Siblings: Two, an older and a younger brother.
Time I wake up: Lately, and to my shame, 9:30 most mornings.
Unusual talent or skill: An ability to acheive mediocrity at everything I put my hand to. They used to call this being a "renaissance man," but these days I think they call it "Adjunct Professor."
Vegetable I refuse to eat: Hard-boiled eggs. All other comestibles: "Come unto me."
Worst habit: Spending too much time on the internet, as even now.
X-rays: When I had to spend a week in the hospital, they took a CT-scan of my abdomen, which involved me drinking about a quart or more of some sort of radioactive fluid. Alas, no superpowers were engendered by this experience.
Yummy stuff I cook: Last week I made the chicken salad to end all chicken salads. The secret is to use one of those whole rotisserie chickens you can get at the deli counter and fresh dill. And mayonaise, of course. Raisins, pecans, maybe a diced apple, lemon juice, salt, pepper and a clove or two of garlic are also recommended. Mix thoroughly, place betwen two slices of toasted grain bread with fresh tomato and romaine lettuce. Cut sandwich into triangles--which I can't really emphasize enough--and serve with Terra chips and iced tea.
Zodiac sign: In the Greek zodiac, I am either a Gemini or a Cancer (June 21); on the Chinese zodiac, I am a Sheep. I admit to being incredibly fascinated by this stuff, but give it no (especial) credence.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


... The Ranter is always so kind to provide these fun fun things.

I in turn tag all Vocatum Contributors, including BFC, because its good weekend therapy, and...

...Either of the Grubbs
...W at Thoughts from Seminary
...Fr. Lee
...Brett and Alex Harris
...Xaipe at the Nun Blog
...Mrs. B
...Fr. WB
More About Yours Truly, Being Lax About Her Privacy...

Accent: Texan when I'm home, annoying British intonations when in the NE... you should hear Fr. WB when HE travels...
Chore I Hate: Getting my car washed.
Dog or Cat: Absolutely dog! A mini black dachsund named "pundit"... in my dreams.
Essential Electronics: Laptop, cell phone, IPod for working out.
Favorite Cologne(s): Anything from Creed; Prescriptives "Calyx;" Kate Spade "Beautiful."
Gold or Silver: Gold! - I feel really strongly about this-.
Hometown: Remember the Alamo!
Insomnia: Hardly.
Job Title: Masters student, going on PhD.
Kids: God willing, a little girl named Coeli Christi (get it?!) and a little boy named after his daddy someday...
Living arrangements: Apartments, with whistful glances at my parents' ranch.
Most admirable trait: My advisor says its "moxie." My dad says its wisdom.
Overnight hospital stays: Three, when a car ran over my head when I was a child.
Phobias: Swimming in the ocean, elevators, cramped spaces, the dark.
Quote: "Come as you are."
Religion: Christian. Evangelical, charismatic, hyper orthodox, sometimes reluctant Anglo Catholic (who really ought to be Roman Catholic, but am in love with Fr. WB, so....)
Siblings: Oldest of six, four charming boys and two formidable girls.
Time I wake up: Lately, 4:00 AM.
Unusual talent or skill: I always score perfectly on the verbal sections of standardized tests.
Vegetable I refuse to eat: Steamed broccoli.
Worst habit: Anxiety.
X-rays: Teeth and neck (cf childhood accident).
Yummy stuff I cook: Famous Easter quiche, Indian beans and rice, ice water.

Friday, April 28, 2006

A Healthy Church

... this method has never failed. To assess the health of a church,

First: Listen to at least three of the clergy's sermons. If neither the lordship of Jesus to command human life, nor sin, nor outreach/evangelism come up at least once, there is a problem.

Second: If the head pastor's face appears on anything not immediately connected with "staff information," or if the Cross has beem manipulated to look like a sword, tree, flower, starburst, etc., there is a problem. Run.

Last straw: Call the head pastor's office and ask for an appointment. If you cannot get one, run hollering and pray for that pastor's re-commitment to chastity.

Like I said, this methods never fails. Trust me.

Chains: Darfur

Someday, a lot of us who ought to be praying more, serving more, and crying more over the fractures in God's universe (especially me) will be kicking ourselves over what has been going on in Sudan right under our noses at this very moment. We will experience such remorse when the movie comes out, or when the memorials go up ten years from now. In the interim, take a moment today to offer up a prayer for the suffering Christians in Northwestern Sudan; pray for strength in their bodies and souls, that they may pray for their enemies and that the violence against them will cease.

Check out while you are at it. I do not endorse all of their methods, but will certainly be sending a small donation to support the Save Darfur rally in DC this weekend, since I cannot go in person.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Apologize: Let's not get sloppy

We have been having quite a bit of trouble with ECUSA wolves in priest's clothing who simply do not believe that Jesus is the eternal Son of God, being fully God and fully man, eternally one with the Father. They are willing enough to go through the liturgical motions, but are nuanced enough not to worry about their integrity in doing so.

I have thought about addressing some of them with C.S. Lewis' Trilemma: IE, we know that Jesus claims to be God; that makes Him either Liar, Lunatic, or Lord. Pick one but don't patronize Him by calling Him a decent chap with a cool moral philosophy, etc. We don't have that option.

.. but leave it to my RC Catechism to give it to us very straight, with the Church's Scriptures-

"The title "Son of God" signifies the unique and eternal relationship of Jesus Christ to God his Father; He is the only Son of the Father; He is God Himself. To be a Christian, one must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." (Catechism 454)

Acts 8:35-37
35Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

36And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

37And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

John 2:22-23
22Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

23Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

Let's not get sloppy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

All cats are gray in the dark

I've always liked to think of myself as a broad-minded and fair individual (but then again, don't we all?), so it seemed particularly abrupt when a friend of mine recently accused me of seeing things in "black and white." She told me this after I had voiced my oppostion to abortion—which couldn't have been a surprise to her, but apparently it touched a nerve.

In today's world, saying someone sees things in black and white seems to be one of the worser sorts of things you could say, since moral rigidity is equivalent to "religious fundamentalism" which is equivalent to being a terrorist, or equally awful, a hateful, spiteful person (such as this woman who claims that "God hates fags"). In the liberal West, openness, acceptance, nuance, living in the "gray areas" and of course, "tolerance" are our chief social virtues. And perhaps they should be, since these are qualities not far from, and often closely associated with that chief of true virtues, charity.

My friend's comments recurred to me at mass this afternoon while listening to today's Gospel (John 3:16-21):
God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
Our culture's ability to foster ambiguity, even valorize it, is leading to not only a great deal of sin, such as abortion, but also a pandemic of individual loneliness, hurt, and suffering. Christ did not come into this world to teach us tolerance, but to bring us out of the darkness, out of uncertainty, into the light, where all things can be seen and known for what they are, where truth and love reign.

Pray for my friend, and for all those who are adrift in the darkness of the absence of Christ.

Family Matters

I have been writing a huge paper on modern theologies of the Christian family- just thought I would share a little...

Tertullian on good wives:

"The devout wife visits strangers, calls at the hovels of the poor, attends evening devotions, spends all night away at Paschal Vigils, attends the Lord's Supper, visits prisons to kiss martyrs' chains, washes the feet of saints and gives them food and drink, offers hospitality to fellow Christians at her house. ... she could do none of these things without inviting suspicion if she were married to a pagan."

Tertullian, "To His Wife" II.4

Pauline tradition on good husbands:

"Husband, love your wife and die for her, and feed her, and bathe her a lot."

Ephesians 5.

How we can bring up our children to be faithful:

"Start with baseball and also teach them to read. Don't teach kids a bunch of rules. Help them submit their lives to something that they find to be a wonderful activity that transforms them. Activities such as baseball and reading are where the virtues are inculcated with a seriousness that is hard to match in other areas of our lives.

Christians also ought to go to church. That's where you learn to practice religion and be virtuous. It's unnatural at first, but that's what virtue is all about."

- Stanley Hauerwas on childraising (Christianity: It's an Adventure)

Creation Revision

“For Christians, the primary creation account is not Genesis, but the first chapter of the Gospel of John. There Genesis' opening words are directly quoted, only to be modified in light of Christ: "In the beginning… was the Word." (John 1:1) There we learn that 'all things came into being' through the Word, and that the Word became flesh and lived among us, bearing the name of Jesus.”

R. Clapp, Families at the Crossroads.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Sign of the Cross

The gestures that we make in worship are often related not just to our tradition but to what we learned as a child. Those of us who grew up making the sign of the cross are likely to do so as adults, even if we venture into churches where the practice is rare. Likewise, it may take a while before those of us who grew up not making the gesture are comfortable doing so in churches where the practice is more common.

In the last few years I've tried to become more conscious of the gestures I make during worship and my reasons for making them. In most cases it's not right or wrong whether you make a gesture or not. But I do think it matters that you have some sense of why you're doing what you're doing.

With that in mind, I came to change a practice of mine about a year and a half ago in regards to both gesture and words. In the Sanctus and Benedictus, like many people raised Catholic, I would make the sign of the cross at the words "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." I'd never really thought about why. When I got to seminary, I found that many people changed "Blessed is He" to "Blessed is the one." When combined with the gesture of the sign of the cross, this seemed to make sense to me. After all, if we are talking about ourselves and receiving God's blessing, then why shouldn't we be using words that refer to the whole human family rather than just those of us with the requisite appendages?

However, through the counsel of a friend and the counsel of a professor I came to learn that when we say "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord," we are actually referring not to ourselves as disciples being sent but rather to Jesus as the one whom the Lord God the Father sends forth. This resulted in an immediate shift in my practice. I went back to saying "Blessed is He" since I see no good reason to neuter Jesus, who by all accounts was in fact a male. But I also stopped making the sign of the cross at this point in the liturgy because I could not figure out rhyme or reason for it.

Why do it? Why make the sign of the cross at the point when we announce that our Lord is blessed and has been sent forth? What's the rationale? Until I can find one, my hands will be comfortably folded at my side.

Bad Form, UCC!

So I am running on my treadmill the other night, and The United Church of Christ delivers its new set of "we love everyone, unlike the others" ads via the telly. May God bless the UCC in every way, but what the heck? Has anyone seen these ads?

The scene is the interior of a large church. First, a single African American woman holding a crying child is forcibly ejected from her seat by some sort of hidden projectile and tossed to the ground. Second, a very PDA gay couple are projected through the air in a similar fashion. For some reason, the episode continues with an elderly couple, an Arab woman, and so on being thrown through the air. The message: "Jesus does not exclude, neither do we." HUH?

Unbelievable; These images are abusive! ... I noted no reference whatsoever to that Cross which embraces us and holds us accountable both to embrace the Other, and to obey. Interesting what happens when we ignore that crucial bit and simply "eject"... or better yet, claim that "God is Still Speaking," when we tell Him what to say!

Bad Form, UCC!

Scriptures in Dialogue

Miroslav Volf, a recent presenter at this very cool inter-faith reconciliation forum (as per his beautiful work on topic... cf Exclusion and Embrace and the newer Free of Charge, endorsed by The Archbishop of Canterbury himself) will be dining tonight with his fellow rock star, Rabbi HL, avec yours truly.

I am so excited... The topic of conversation will revolve a Jewish perspective on Volf's manuscript for his newest book, as yet untitled, but coming soon.

Why Christians Should be Pleading for the Life of Zacharias Mousawi

"Neither do I condemn you... "
John 8

We believe that God calls to the human person, and thus human life is sacred from conception to natural death; furthermore, Christ gave His life for sinners to forgive and redeem them. Jesus' disciples can do no less.

The taking of sacred human life, which is invested by God with inviolable dignity from conception to natural death, in a society where capital punishment is neither necessary nor expedient, is intolerable.

More here, if you care to revive the convo...

Bishops' Statement Against the Death Penalty here-

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Revived Side Bar

...In light of that Resurrection that we are all celebrating, I thought I'd better not waste any more time by delaying the addition of some fab new links... the Eschaton could be right around the corner...

1. Nuns who blog!

I knew they were out there. Their blogs are lovely and wonderful. They are Sister Marianne and Sister Anne, both of the Daughters of St. Paul. So compelling and yet so domestic. ...

Huge Hat Tip to Shrine of the Holy Whapping for the intro.

2. Welcome Back WM!

...we have missed him so. W is now in full force again, looking for a good woman and sharing his Thoughts from Seminary. Depending on the day, those thoughts might be of swimming the Tiber or of propping up Canterbury, but they will always be nice. Fr. WB depends on this man completely, by the way.

3. A new friend!

First Apostle and I have been casting curious glances at each other's blog life for a while now, and I am always impressed by his stunning portraiture of Rowan! Also piquant commentary.

Did you know that this very blog was first privy to the Cantuar's love for marzipan, friend?

John: Peace be with I send you"

John 20:19-31

19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."


Bishop Andrew Smith preached a surpisingly obedient and stimulating little bit on this passage yesterday... the general sense was basically, well... now GO...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Catherine of Siena, 1380

Feast Day, April 29

(the patroness of this blog....)

One of those child saints who fled the good life in order to fast and promised hard her life to virginity... an advocate of the Church and an adviser of pontiffs... a doctor of the Church and a prototype of the mystical Bride of Christ... A Dominican and a robust fan of horse racing.

“I write to strengthen you in the precious blood of the Son of God, desiring to see you consumed in the fire of his charity….”When God visits you with measureless gifts, let your memory open immediately to receive what your intellect knows in His divine love, and let your will rise with burning desire to receive and gaze at the blazing heart of the giver, the gentle, good Jesus. Thus, you will find yourself burning and clothed with fire, and with the gift of the blood of God’s Son, and you will be free from all pain and unease. This is what took away the pain of the holy disciples when they had to leave Mary and one another, although they willingly bore the separation in order to spread the word of God.

Run, run, run to Him."

-- Saint Catherine of Siena

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Culture Pop: What th'Eschaton....

So check this out: a Christian video game. "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" is a game based on the Left Behind series.

What makes such media "Christian," you ask? Perhaps it's the Tim LaHaye branded authorship (if you ask me, he really should have stuck to his "act of marriage" manuals, if you know what I mean) Perhaps it's the promise of "breakthrough" that "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" offers to the dismal world of unprofitable, tacky Christian media available in the mainstream (Lord, help us please, seriously)... or maybe it's a reading of Revelation that conveniently translates into "a level of violence reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto" (quoting Newsweek International... for those who don't know, "Grand Theft Auto" involves such levels of violence as good guys gaining points for lacerating and beating women and children- it's disgusting)

Newsweek continues: "The game revolves around New Yorkers who are "left behind" after the rapture to scour the streets for converts, training them into a military force for resistance against the growing forces of the Antichrist."

Apparently megachurches are "very likely to embrace this game." I think this is troubling at least- a serious risk of young people being schooled in a powerful way to forget the implications of Calvary, to ignore what the mercy of God might really look like, in the exhileration of "helping God out" by beating His people up and hopefully obliterating them.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition-

Friday, April 21, 2006

Hu is up to the minute? Fr WB!

We are sitting in the YDS common room, under the watchful eye of Neihbur...and down the street, China's president Hu is dorning about something serious... everyone run immediately over to Whitehall, where FR. WB is covering Hu's speech second by second on his blog.

I am sitting here struggling with profound indignation. Thirty minutes of arrogant nods to Yale students and a whole lot of rumpuss about the ginormous Chinese economy... but this guy killed students... and not a word...

Old Testament Sources

... These recommendations hot off the press at the conclusion of my OT course; Carolyn Sharp's recommendations of commentaries and sources for those preachers and teachers among you.

o Ronald Allen: Holy Root, Holy Branches: Christian Preaching from the Old Testament (Abingdon 1995)

o Ellen Davis: Wondrous Depth: Preaching the Old Testament
(Westminster/John Knox 2005)

o Ellen Davis and Richard Hays: The Art of Reading Scripture

o Terrence Fretheim: God and World in the Old Testament (Abingdon 2005)

o The Interpretation Series (commentary)

o Westminster Bible Companion (commentary – good for scholarship and pastoral concerns)

Chains: Falun Gong

Remember them that are in chains, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in that body.
Hebrews 13:3

... because the most gracious little woman handed the usual packet of gruesome images of torture to me this morning on my way up the hill to school. The persecuted followers of this religion in China need our prayers. May their bodies and consiences be recognized with the dignity with which God has invested them; may they come to know the Light of the World.

Lord Jesus Christ, who stretched our your arms on the hard wood of the Cross, so that the whole world might come within the reach of your saving embrace, so clothe us with your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may draw those who do not know you into your knowledge and love. Amen.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Coming Hu, What To Do

So China's President Hu, bless him, will be signifying his cozy relationship with my university in a very cozy trip to campus tomorrow. This is all fine and grand, (we reserve the right to find anyone interesting around here) and perhaps really great both for present Chinese students and those who will come to Yale in the future.... but I have all too immediate memories of our having to speak in hushed voices whenever the topic of Christianity came up in Beijing a few weeks ago, and another of a scary security guard following my mother and I around to listen in on our conversation.

And then there are all the serious rumors of human rights abuses and persecutions.

And he did ban my blog.

Fr. WB seems to have given his tacit consent to my joining the protestors out on the Town Green tomorrow. So do I go?... or not? (Send nifty slogans for my poster board while you are at it, just in case...)

Earth Day 2006

Our friend The Ranter had a good post on our proper duty to maintain reverence for the earth a while ago...

We should respect the Earth. But we are being prodigal with our inheritance, when we should be trying to preserve it to pass down for future generations. The prodigal son, of course, will be welcomed back with open arms... at least thats what the parable says... and there is some comfort to be taken in that... but the prodigal son came to a point of repentance... and I don't think America is there yet, and I know I am not there yet. Dubya spoke of America's 'addiction to oil' in the State of the Union address... and the word addiction means there is a dependence problem that needs to be overcome through repentance. But Dubya didn't seem intent on addressing the root of the problem, he seemed focussed on coming up with alternative supplies to feed the addiction. And the whole thing seems paralyzing. I don't think I can change until the world changes. Isn't that awful? So, God, please... Give us a reverence for the Earth!

The rest is here. I began recycling shortly thereafter...

Apologize: The Resurrection

.. because if He did not really get up from the dead, we are of all people the most miserable. ( I Cor 15)

From good old Lee Strobel:

1) No body could have survived Roman flogging, crucifixion, and a spear thrust into the heart and side. Jesus DIED on the Cross and was buried.

2) The I Corinthians 15 Creed is really early. Everyone knows this. Within a few years of Jesus' death, thousands of people believed the following:

3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also...

3) Everyone agreeed that the Tomb was empty. The Roman authorities did not argue with this fact.. they simply tried to interpret it as "body theft." If a well-known tomb were NOT empty, then it would have been impossible for a belief founded solely the Resurrection to have come into existence in the same city where hundreds had seen Jesus die, and where the only testators of His resurrection were legally incredible women.

4) If the Disciples and hundreds of claimed eyewitnesses of the Resurrected Jesus were only talking about an urban legend, where did the body go?

5) None of the early Christians thought that this story was another fun "dying/rising" god myth... they believed it was history. And it would certainly have taken something as dramatic as a Resurrection to prompt zealous first-century Jews to abandon both the traditional Sabbath and Torah and the other option of the Roman pantheon.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Papa Benedetto's Prayer

... on the anniversary of his installation. I was jumping on the furniture this time last year for joy.

God, you have given the world its true light, Jesus, your Son – the Son of God. Show us Jesus. Lead us to him. Teach us to know and love him, so that we too can become capable of true love and be fountains of living water in the midst of a thirsting world. Amen.

No Bare Shoulders in Church

... Leave it to Biblical Womanhood to bring up something so useful as the weather warms up here in CT and my poor boys have to escape to the deep dark library to avoid all of the sundresses.

The Relevant Texts:
Fashion and Following the Savior
Modesty Check
Modest Women, Honorable Men (my pick)
A Return to Modesty (my favorite... and a serious nod to what Orthodox Jewish women have to teach us)

All clergy persons reading here should NB that there is nothing like pastors addressing something so practial about something so critical to young people. Lust is deadly.

These are my rules:

1. No bare shoulders or knees in church. This is what pashminas and adorable shawls are for.
2. If FR. WB raises his eyes, that's bad.
3. Prep women are modest. Cf the Handbook.
4. Bare backs on the street are just plain silly. So is anything hinting of thigh.
5. Women should re-discover the allure of long skirts and tasteful tops in the summer time. I thus refer all of my girl friends to the true repository of Christian aesthetics in fashion....

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The continuing disappearance of young clergy

Christian Century reports that among mainline churches the number of clergy under the age of thirty-five is at its lowest rate ever of five percent. In the Episcopal Church it's around four percent. Some churches are trying new advertising techniques to try to interest more younger adults in careers in ministry. See the article here.

If you ask me, this was inevitable. The number of people under thirty-five in the pews has been steadily declining for decades. It only makes sense that the number of people choosing to enter into orders would similarly be in decline. Though I do not know for sure, I suspect a similar drop in young clergy exists in the Orthodox and Catholic churches in America. In the Roman Catholic Church in particular the crisis created by an overall dearth in clergy is growing to epic proportions, even as the laity grows worldwide.

Some of this is to be expected. After all, young adulthood is a transitional time in which people are just starting to form a sense of their identities as adults. Nevertheless, we should be concerned both about the lack of young adults in our churches and at the growing shortage of clergy in many of our traditions. Both are a sign of decline and fatigue as our culture gives way more and more to secular influences. Most troubling to me is that so many people are not being ministered to. In many churches there is a stalwart attitude against young adults, the old "they'll be back when they have kids" routine. But many of them won't be back, and in the mean time a whole segment of the population is without the benefit of the Church, as is the Church without the benefit of them.


As everyone knows, A&E is doing its part in the Roman Catholic Church's stepped- up efforts to gather her young men into their reasonable service. Apparently the new sitcom "God or The Girl" was blasting at the home of some smug clergy I know until the wee hours last night; of special attention was the fact that one sweet guy had to carry a hundred pound cross for twenty miles as part of his discernment process... so his fraternity brothers went with him to intercede along the way.

(Fr. WB points out that HIS fraternity would probably have been doing something entirely different-)

The Upside Downers

Anna at Deep Soil recently posted this great commentary on current churcy politics in ECUSA. I thought it was excellent- here is a snippet...

Here’s where the issue in ecclesiology comes up. Apparently, the clergy think that since they are clergy, people should automatically listen to them, and the lay people think that the clergy should listen to the scriptures.

Nowhere in scripture is it supported that the clergy are the end-all in teaching, in fact, the opposite is true. Otherwise, the language of the priesthood of all believers (2 Peter 2:4-9) and the role of the Christian as an ambassador of reconciliation with God (2 Cor. 5:18-21) would be nonsensical. Also, Ephesians 4:11-12 makes it very clear what the role of church leadership is: “The gifts that he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” So who has the work of the ministry? The entire church, not the clergy alone.

Read the rest here.

Introducing Eirenopoios

Many fond greetings to all in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

I am thankful to MM for inviting me to be a part of this blog. I am in my mid-twenties and I am about to be ordained a deacon in early June. If it is God's will, I will be ordained a priest before the end of the year.

I have chosen the name Eirenopoios because it is the word that Jesus uses in Matthew 5:9 when he says "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." It means a "peacemaker" (or peacemakers) and it is also the root from which we get the word pacifist. Few people are aware that the roots of pacifism, even linguistic roots, are in the making of peace rather than in passivity. As Christians our Lord calls us to be peacemakers not just by command but also by the example that he sets for us in his passion.

I look forward to many wonderful conversations to come. May God's blessing and God's grace be upon all who read these words. Amen.

Praising our Servant Lord…

For the following gifts in a blessed Holy Week-

Softly chanted Psalms in the dimming candlelight at Tenebrae… across from newly ordained friends, who just years ago were declaring their intent to officiate at such times because they love Jesus so much. Our Lord has done all things very well for them, and I am grateful.

Keeping watch before the Host, one hour at least, in a garden of a chapel, with dear friends… all young people, fellow grad students, with the mysterious and awesome Sarah Coakley of HDS beaming at us from the back… and friend DL plugging away on his laptop in the narthex, as he would be staying with our Lord all night long…

Befriending a homeless man who is suffering from AIDS during our many trips downtown to church this week… learning his name… hearing his stories… and then rushing out to shop for him and his wife on Easter Day with Fr. WB. Fr. WB embraced this man and reminded him of his Savior again and again while he sat with him just to listen. And then, our new friend bowed his head and acknowledged his need to receive his Savior. Fr. WB baptized our new brother on that street corner on Easter Day. I was unspeakably proud to be there with him.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The vows we make

... and renew, at Easter:

I will, with God’s help

… continue in the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.

… persevere in resisting evil, and whenever I fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord.

… proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.

… seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving my neighbor as myself.

… strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.


Retrospect: Definately the Best Sermon I've Ever Heard

Friend PT preached this on last dim Good Friday morning at Berkeley Seminary.

It was powerful.

“Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life.”

How many times, in the Gospels, when Jesus starts to say something, does he begin with the words, “Truly, I tell you”?

“Truly, I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”...“Truly, I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”...“Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”..."Truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.”

All four of the evangelists—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—are agreed: Jesus claims to speak truly. But of the four, it is John who writes most about truth, who depicts Jesus saying, “Truly I tell you,” the most—and it is John who has Jesus going one step further: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” In John’s gospel, Jesus does not just speak truly—Jesus is truth, the true Word of God made flesh in the world.

“Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life.”

If Jesus speaks truly—if he himself is truth—how can his words be tested? What standard can be brought to measure his claims? Is there another, competing truth that trumps the truth of Jesus? Only if Jesus speaks falsely is there a truth that can be brought against him, that will prove him to be a fraud and a liar. If Jesus speaks truly—if he is, indeed, the truth—there is no truth beyond himself that could challenge or test him. So how then, is he to be tested? How will we see if his words are true? How can we prove that he is a liar, a deceiver who will lead us astray? How can we rid ourselves of this inconvenient man, this righteous man—the very sight of him is a burden to us!

“Let us test him with insult and torture. Let us condemn him to a shameful death.”

If we cannot defeat him with truth, then there are other ways, easier ways really. We can beat him and mock him, belittle him, dress him up in robes and a crown, make a spectacle of him: “Hail, King of the Jews!” We can make him small and silly, flog him till he can barely stand, watch him bleed, just like we do. He’s no different from us, really, he’s just a man—just one man, and there are many of us. There are enough of us to do away with him. Truth or no truth, it doesn’t matter—he will die like any other man.

“Here is your King! Shall I crucify your King?”

What do we do in the face of an inconvenient truth? What happens when the truth confronts us with a reality that is painful and unpleasant, when it questions our lives and the ways we’re living them; ways we really like, ways that we don’t want to give up? How do we justify ourselves; how do we evade the truth; how do we make it go away?

“Away with him! Away with him! Crucify Him!”

Truly, it’s all very easy. The best way to stifle the truth is to deny that truth is even possible. During Jesus’ inquisition, Pilate asks, “What is truth?” This is the first step toward dispensing with truth: ask what it is in a dismissive way, question whether we can ever really know truth in the first place. Ask a philosopher about how to define truth and you’ll hear a lot about coherence theories, correspondence theories, pragmatist theories, minimalist theories—but you won’t hear a definitive answer to your question. Truth is subtle and difficult to grasp; it’s a tenuous, fragile thing, easy to call into question, easy to dismiss when it’s convenient. And what are you left with, once you’ve convinced yourself that the quest for truth is an impossible task, far too difficult to bother with? What do you put in the place of truth?

Pilate has the answer: in the absence of truth, you have power. Pilate says to Jesus, “Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” In the vacuum left after the death of truth, there’s lots of room for power to play. There’s a whole mess of degenerate post-modern, post-structuralist, post-colonial, post-whatever theory that wants to say just that: there’s no such thing as truth—truth is just a mask for power. And there is, ironically, a certain measure of truth in this kind of thinking: we sinful creatures do try to claim truth as a way of justifying how we use power. But if we’re going to get away with it, we have to get rid of the one who is the Truth: we have to crucify him.

And once we have discredited, humiliated, and killed the Truth, we are free to make our own truth. The chief priests quibble with Pilate about the inscription over Jesus’ head: “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” And what is Pilate’s answer? “What I have written I have written.” The priests and Pilate both want to make their own truth, the truth that is most convenient for them, that serves their interests best. Neither inscription is quite right, but Pilate has the power to make his stick: “What I have written I have written.” Truth doesn’t matter; the truth can be met with power, it can be changed with power. “Do you not know that I have power to crucify you?” Isn’t that exactly what the Cross is: Power set against Truth?

Good Friday is the day that Power clashes with Truth. And what happens? Power wins—the Truth dies. “He said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

“Let us test him with insult and torture, so that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance.”

How much can he take? How far can we push him? How many lashes with the whip, how many blows about his head—the thorns digging into his brow—how many hours on the Cross? How many sins can we heap on him, how many evil deeds can we make him witness, how much hurt can we inflict on each other while he looks on? How long will he suffer our wickedness to continue, how long will he tolerate the pollution of his creation, how long before his mercy is exhausted and his gentle nature gives way to wrath, a wrath we know is there, the wrath we know we deserve?

He takes it all. Everything that the world can throw at him, every drop of hatred and rebellion and falsehood is wrapped up in those two hard wooden beams that twist his body into shapes that should never be, and he takes it all, even unto death. We killed him, yes, but did we really think we could break him—that the one who resisted the Father of Lies would succumb to our temptation?

Despite the pain of the Cross, despite the burden he carries, he does not lash out: his gentleness holds; his mercy endures. He bears the weight of the world’s sin and he carries it down in death to the Pit. On the Cross, Jesus’ death swallows up death—evil is turned against evil, the Kingdom of Satan is divided against itself and cannot stand. And as the dead man’s arms are stretched out on the cross, the living God, who created heaven and earth, stretches himself out through that death into the realm of death and darkness, into the far reaches of sin that his divine nature abhors, and takes the whole sick, confused world into his loving embrace.

“Great things are they that you have done, O Lord my God! How great your wonders and your plans for us!”

The victory is won; the power of death is broken; the unchallenged reign of sin is over. And yet, the man is still dead; he is taken down from the Cross and laid in a tomb. His task is not fully completed—the world is still feverish from its illness—the people do not yet know and share the salvation he has worked for them. How will they learn of this Good News? Who will proclaim it to them? How will they know that they no longer need to wrestle each other with power? He must return to them, he must let them know that Truth lives, that they have not been abandoned to always pit power against power, one so-called truth against another.
He will return to them, and he will give them a gift to help them clear their minds. He will give them back the instrument of his death. He will give it back to them, not as it was before, not as a sign of the judgment of death, but as a sign of the judgment for truth. He will claim it as his own, sanctified and made glorious, a Holy Cross given to the world to show that the living Truth can bring great good out of great evil, that God redeems power and turns it to right ends.

The truth will still be elusive, and the temptation to replace it with misguided power will not fade away, especially for those who wish to follow him. Seeing through a glass darkly, they will always be tempted to seize a part of his truth and use it as a weapon against others, to substitute what they wrongly desire to be true for what it is actually true. They will say, “The scriptures are clear, Jesus wants this,” or they will say, “The Holy Spirit is doing a new thing” so that the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit say only what they want them to say. They will need to learn, again and again, to cast their truths before his Cross, to let their desire for power come under his judgment of truth. They will need to humble themselves as he was humble, to find their righteousness in his righteousness, and they will need to remember to pray in the brilliant shadow of His Cross. Let all of us gathered here, all of us so in need of Christ’s Cross, pray so now.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Our Redeemer Lives!

Mighty Victim from on high,
Hell's fierce powers beneath thee lie.
Thou has conquered in the fight,
Thou has brought us life and light.

Now no more can death appal,
Now no more the grave enthrall.
Thou has opened Paradise,
And in Thee Thy Saints shall rise.

- Robert Campbell, 1814

... And we shall stand with Him on that Day.
Amen, Allelujah Allelujah!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

He is Risen!

He is risen, indeed!

Almost without my knowing it (it would seem), I became Roman Catholic!

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday

Masaccio, Holy Trinity, ca. 1428

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hello...I'm [insert saint's name here]

Masaccio, Baptism of the Neophytes in the Brancacci Chapel, Florence, c. 1420s

MM, our delightful hostess, has recently and generously invited me to be a contributor to her little blog. As such, I have been instructed to introduce myself. I post under the name Garland at my own pet blog, Eye & Mind, devoted to my two favorite subjects, religion and art. Religion here means specifically the "Catholic" religion in the old-time sense, e.g. the Roman Catholic expression of our received faith. This is, at the moment, a technicality. The technicality being that I am not yet a Roman Catholic. This ambiguity will be cleared up soon, however, as I am going to be received into communion with Holy Mother Church this Easter, at the Easter Vigil.

Concomitant with my confirmation is the need to select a confirmation name, the name of a saint whose life will be a model of Christian charity and self-sacrafice for my own and an intercessor on my behalf before the throne of Heaven. The problem is, I can't decide, and so I am inviting you, faithful readers to help me out on this one. Names I have considered are (in no particular order):

St. Paul, aside from his commitment to the Gospel, this name resonates with my baptismal name of Timothy.

St. Peter, an appropriate figure for someone turning towards the See of Peter.

St. Francis: I know, I know. Everyone loves St. Francis, and indeed, they should, but here I think that "Timothy Francis" has a nice ring to it.
St. Joseph, since this is the name of my sponsor in converting, and also St. Joseph's obedience is an excellent model of the Christian life.

St. Mark, primarily because St. Mark's Gospel is currently in the cycle of readings.

St. Luke, patron saint of artists.

In the category of "sounds nice," I also like Xavier (prncd: Zav-ee-ay), but this is probably too much.

All these personages can be looked up in the Catholic Encyclopedia. At the moment, I am leaning towards Peter, "Timothy Peter" not sounding terribly awkward on the ear and he being of course, the Rock of the Church, but I'd take other suggestions as well.

I have added, not merely for decorative purposes, Masaccio's fresco above as a reminder that although we (rightly) focus on the cross and resurrection at Easter, it is not only Christ's resurrection that we celebrate, but our own, effected through the waters of baptism. It is especially exciting to think of those who will be receiving the sacrament of baptism at the Easter Vigil this year. I hope that we will keep them all firmly in our prayers this week, and for ourselves, since we will be renewing our baptismal vows.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Holy Week

No blogging for me this week.

A time for confession. A time for silence and stillness. A time for waiting for an assured rejoicing. The final stretch on the road to the resurrection. It's just a matter of time.

"We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicably hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us. ... not because of any works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy... through the waters of baptism and the renewal by His Holy Spirit."

Titus 3:3-7

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Chains: Italian Asylum for Abdul Rahman

Remember them that are in chains, as bound with them;
and them which suffer adversity,
as being yourselves also in that body.
Hebrews 13:3

My dear friend S sent this to me from the Associated Press late last week.

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghanistan's parliament demanded Wednesday that the government prevent a man who faced the death penalty for abandoning Islam for Christianity from being able to flee the country. Italy granted asylum to Abdul Rahman, 41. Rahman was released from prison Monday after a court dropped charges of apostasy against him because of a lack of evidence and suspicions he may be mentally ill. President Hamid Karzai had been under heavy international pressure to drop the case.

The Italian government granted asylum to Rahman after Muslim clerics called for his death.
Rahman was put on trial last week for converting 16 years ago while he was a medical aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan. He was carrying a Bible when arrested and faced the death penalty under Afghanistan's Islamic laws.
The case caused an outcry in the United States and other nations that helped oust the hard-line Taliban regime in late 2001 and provide aid and military support for Karzai.

Muslim clerics condemned Rahman's release, saying it was a "betrayal of Islam," and threatened to incite violent protests. Some 500 Muslim leaders, students and others gathered Wednesday in a mosque in southern Qalat town and criticized the government for releasing Rahman, said Abdulrahman Jan, the top cleric in Zabul province.
He said the government should either force Rahman to convert back to Islam or kill him.
"This is a terrible thing and a major shame for Afghanistan," he said.

...In my recent apologetic vein, I say let us rejoice that Christianity is not a religion that demands submission from all others through coercive force, nor a religion which refuses its own people and the rest of the world the freedom and dignity to disbelieve. Our faith leaves the individual free to respond to the gracious call of God- and then leaves the judgment to God Himself. May all intrusive and violent ways of forcing belief recede from our free God's free universe. As S put it, "Choosing your own beliefs, whatever they are, just isn't grounds for death."

Chains II: What's really going on in China...

Hard to say. Its a very confusing story.

1) Blogs are censored and Google signed a deal with the Chinese government this year agreeing to censor internet searches for politically subversive, religious material. Bad bad Google!

2) There are at last Starbucks and tea houses where people can have the possibility of a private conversation. But on Tiananmen Square, there are secret police in uniform and not, who will explicitly listen to what youre saying. There are surveillance cameras everywhere. And NO -ONE says ANYTHING about the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 (as if we did not all watch it on CNN) Apparently the Olympic beach volleyball games are to be held on the Square. Since no memorials are allowed there for the thousands of students who were bulldozed there, I am a little bitter about this information.

3) There is a state sanctioned Church scattered throughout China, in which the Bible is freely available and the confession of the Creeds permitted. An Anglican Archbishop Ting, a graduate of Union Theological Seminary here in the US, is in cahoots with the state, and they get on fairly well. The liturgy seems to be an ecumenical blend. However, dissidents who are unsatisfied with the Patriotic Church and Roman Catholics in communion with Rome are forced underground and, at least away from the main cities where Capitalism has Helped, live in great danger. Sadly, relationships are not good between the State Church and their underground brothers and sisters- I think this is heartbreaking. A united Church in China would be such a Force to be reckoned with.

Blessed Barth

"God's revelation reveals and discloses itself. It gives itself to be known. It creates the possibility of a seeing and hearing and understanding of itself. And so we can only read and expound that basic text... we can only act as those to whom it is given. we cannot try to get behind it. either behind the fact that it is given, or behind the way in which it is legitimate and possible for us to act in correspondence to this fact."

Karl Barth, Book Four, Church Dogmatics.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

That rare thing

... a totally helpful blog. I have been enjoying Benjamin Myer's blog, Faith and Theology, for several weeks now, and am so impressed. It is trendy, informative, fun, and reads like a vibrant theology seminar. Check it out!

Apologize: How To Evangelize a Buddhist

Michael Ramsden of RZIM shared this strategy with me last week in Thailand, where the Christian population is a whopping 1%.... while gentle Buddhists make up the remainder.


1) Approach with great respect for the dignity of this tradition, which is millennia older than ours.
2) Consider whether the orientation of the audience is philosophical, cultural, or mystical- Buddhism is a tradition with a variety of inclinations. Also be careful not to attack a Buddhist’s cultural heritage when addressing her faith. To become a Christian, anyone has to BECOME one… we all left something of our cultural heritage behind when we assented to follow Jesus.
3) Respect that most people are drawn to the Buddhist tradition through desires for peace, tranquility, and self-mastery; but recognize that these desires are oriented entirely around the self, which experience shows us is so unreliable in actually attaining these states consistently.


4) Ask: Will this tradition get you where you want to go? How can the peace which Buddhism promises actually be achieved? … point out that in Christianity, there is no mountain to be ascended, since we believe that God comes to us with His peace. We begin where we want to end up in Christianity- with new birth! Christians thus get to begin where the Buddhist hopes to arrive.

5) Ask: Do you have to be a Buddhist? The claims of Buddhism are not dependent on the Buddha, since according to Buddhism, anyone could have revealed the Buddhist wisdom; remove Biddha from the system, and it still stands. This, however, is NOT the case with Christianity, wherein Jesus declared HIMSELF to be the truth. So what are you going to do with the claims of Christianity… that the man Jesus historically lived, died, and appeared to thousands after His resurrection? You can, after all, have most of the wisdom of Buddhism AND Jesus, who is the Truth and the Life and the self-proclaimed and witnessed Lord.

6) Ask: Do the Buddhist claims adequately address reality as we know it? For instance, can Buddhism deal with the evil in the world, and with the fact of human sin? – or does Buddhism only ask us to escape/transcend these facts? Such escape doesn’t seem to work- especially since we all believe that we should be good… but can Buddhism transform what is bad into that which is good? Christianity promises to do just that. (And if the Buddhists insists on transcending reality and evil, how are they going to do this? How does this work itself out in the human heart and in reality?)

7) Ask: Don’t you want to keep your good desires, including the desire to be “a good Buddhist?” Christians are not trying to become something; rather, having been made something by Christ. We are working out and living into the salvation which He has given. Thus Jesus takes us to the point where we want to go, and does so by inflaming our desires- which is so much more fun than transcendence. Christianity says, if you really want life (rather than to suppress it), this is where you get it! All this, the way it was meant to be, and Heaven too.

In sum-

a. Dear Buddhist, do you really want to spend so much time trying to be rid of desires when you could just change your desires to be holy, through Christ?
b. Dear Buddhist, HOW exactly are you going to be rid of the desire not to have desire in the real world?
c. Dear Buddhist, HOW exactly are your going to live this way in the real world? Christianity offers real peace in the midst of strife, while Buddhism seems to offer the surreal atmosphere of a Zen garden. Is this peace or or stagnation? In the midst of the world’s given disorder and the people in it, is the Buddhist “peace” really possible? Christianity instead offers real and ongoing reconciliation, a peace given and not strived for.

...A gentle clencher: Dear Buddhist, you follow a wise man who never claimed to be God, and yet offers a life system. The Christian follows a man who claimed to be God and offered a life system and eternal salvation as God. If Jesus is who He says He is, He is certainly more likely, as God, to be right.

Michael reccommends reading “The Lotus and The Cross: Jesus Talks With Buddha” on point. So do I.

Apologize: Credo

I am pulling these helpful resources from Mrs. B's exciting and thoughtful new blog, with thanks!

Defense for the Resurrection I

Defense for the Resurrection II

The Deity of Jesus of Nazareth

... what great prep for Easter!

Least of These

My mother just sent this news from her prison ministry on to me... her team has initiated an Alpha Course on the basics of Christianity for interested inmates in the maximum security men's section of the Texas penitentary.

The title of her email was "this is the church at work." Jesus' statements on point are

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: I was naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. (Matthew 25)

Amen, mom.

Discipleship Unlimited Report:

...Saturday was a very special time as we concluded with the last three sessions, had communion together and handed out certificates to the men. Dave Pietrangelo started cooking the very special meal of pasta and 160 large meatballs at 3 AM on Saturday morning. The men were so blessed to have a home cooked meal and ate with such gratitude that it was a message to us. We had a time for the men to share. One of the men said that he had not taken communion since he was nine years old. He never felt worthy or forgiven. He wept as he shared of his new found freedom in Christ. Others shared their desire to get the good news of Christ to their fellow inmates. Several accepted the Lord during the class and one man asked for prayer that he could come home. He said he was the prodigal of the group. The sharing went on for an hour or more. We will follow up Alpha with a monthly gathering of these graduates and then start another group of inmates for the second Alpha class. The gospel of Jesus Christ is so powerful. "There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...."

For the scholars among us

Our fabulous OT professors shared this interesting announcement for the latest edition of an electronic journal on homiletics. (The latest issue is entitled "Preaching Isaiah: Jewish and Christian Perspectives.")

The three scholars who have contributed essays are Ellen Davis from Duke Divinity School, Paul Hanson from Harvard Divinity School, and Andrea Weiss from Hebrew Union College. Ellen Davis is especially amazing-

Apologize I: Inhospitable?

...I need some help on this one... it same up in Systematics yesterday that the practice of the priest consuming the consecrated Host first at the Altar, before the rest of the congregation, is "inhospitable." This is a SERIOUS offense at YDS.

... so why does the priest consume first at the altar?

Chinese Character for "Peace"

... Just for BFC :)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

What if the Gospel could spread like confetti?

... a missionary friend taught this to me a few years ago:

you take little squares of sturdy paper and draw a cross at the top. Under the cross, you write one word: "peace." Then you drop those things wherever you go... you leave them under place mats at restaurants, on pay phones, in magazines in airplanes. Apparently they pack quite a surprising punch when found, and they are not litter... they are a little gift with a simple message, perhaps one small step towards great recognition of our Lord.

I cannot tell you how much fun it was to scatter Gospel confetti around Tiananmen Square in Beijing last week....

In Love Himself

... from one of my favorite Evangelical poets and modern mystics... I love the songs she sings to her Savior.

Sparks and Shadows

Cover the distance, love in between us,
When I am cold and afraid
You are the secret,
Spoken in silence
Keeping the vow you have made.

You hold me through sparks and shadows
You sing me awake
When night falls and my thoughts wander,
You stay.
I love this way.

You are the only Truth in existence
Why would I reach for more-
You are my future, here in my present
And all that has gone before.

- Twila Paris, 2001.

Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153

"May thirsting souls seek the One
by whom they are themselves sought."

- On the Song of Songs

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Denigration of Christian Marriage, and other functions of the household gods

The womens' blogs I frequent have been abuzz recently with a lecture delivered by Al Mohler entitled Reflecting on The "Mystery" of Marriage, in which he claims that marriage is the "norm" for Christians.

..."the Bible assumes that marriage is normative for human beings... though singleness is not a sin...the deliberate putting off of marriage among some who intend some day to be married (is) the sin... that besets this generation." More here-

I will be up front about it- this kind of thinking drives me nuts. First of all, it's a sacrament, people.

Secondly, Christians have explicit Scriptural resources for comparing/contrasting the vocations of marriage and singleness (cf I Corinthians 7 and throughout the Gospels), and to avoid the Biblical praise of the celibate life, whether temporary or permanent, for the sake of the Kingdom, reflects a preconcieved commitment to read secular family values into the life and radical, exclusive, ultimate calling of Jesus... could it be subtle idolatry? I tend to think so.

Marriage Normative? In the sense of a moral requirement? Hardly. St. Paul goes so far as to assure us that the provision for human necessity in marriage is actually "not a sin." To reverse Paul's thinking and place the burden of proof on singleness is simply a bad bad reading of Scripture.

Marriage Normative? In the sense of being typical? Sure! Marriage is as "normal" as can be... in the worl's eyes. People "need" security, offspring and sex! Oh brother, the Christian should say at this point, I think. What followers of Jesus "need" is to save their lives by losing them. In light of what we know about our Lord, marriage cannot be a birthright, a prerogative, or a universal calling. It cannot be necessarily best for each and every Christian. But it can be a vocation on par with the freedom and graces of the celibate life which Jesus, Paul, and thousands of the saints embraced.

Christians KNOW from Scripture that it is celibacy, in its asceity and renunciation, that is highly prized by God and His Church. Make no subtle excuses about it and READ your Bibles! On the other hand, hooray! Marriage is also validated by Christ and His Church as a high vocation, as glorious even as celibacy in its witness to the Kingdom. But marriage is no "normal" human function. Marriage, for the Christian citizen of an age not of this world, is a testimony- a witness, a sacrifice, a ministry to which certain Christians are CALLED.

Sure, most Christians marry. But to say that they do so as a merely "normal" function, or that they morally "must" marry is to denigrate a high and particular calling to a matter of course. Marriage deserves better.

Let's really honor marriage and allow that it is NOT for everyone, given that every Christian is "for" Christ...and not ultimately "for" a family.

(HT to Crystal, who sadly keeps deleting my blustery comments, and to the very balanced and thoughtful YLCF)

Blessed John Milbank

Ultimately, “Christian America” with its civic Sheilas will be displaced by Evangelicals only as they are seized by an alternative communal vision. John Milbank in his magisterialTheology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (Cambridge, 1992) unmasks the pretensions of both Enlightenment modernity and Nietzchean postmodernity by retrieving St. Augustine’s theme of the City of God as the truly human, truly authentic altera civitas.

Such a vision of the Church, grounded chiefly in its historical, physical, and institutional rather than its mystical qualities, possesses the complete resources for an alternative manner of life for those American Christians who recognize the nation-state as an empty cistern that holds no water.

Read the rest here. So good.

Tagged! Dear Ranter, son of St. Patrick.

I tag....
I am canvassing some RC friends on this one ☺
You all consider yourselves enthusiastically tagged by a (presently) separated sister in Christ.

Jimmy Akin, official best of Catholic apologetics blogs.
CMK, who will have to respond in the comments- until he gets his own blog :)
Thursday, who loves Christ and His bride, the Church, more than anything in the world.

1. How many Bibles are in your home?

5 hard copies, and two electronic systems on my hard drive (Bible Works has like 50 translations, do those count?!) ...

My Scofield KJV, duct-taped and tattered- I've had it and used it since I was twelve, with all kinds of wacky notions about the End Times floating around in my brain because of it.

My travel-sized NIV, which I try to open on airplanes in order to make evangelical conversation… or so I intend, most of the time.

A Wycliffe KJV, “borrowed” from the Berkeley Seminary office here at school- the language is so beautiful, but my fellow Anglicans probably need it more than I do (smug).

My enormous and gender-inclusive, Politically Correct NRSV issed by school, which I use for school… using it for devotions whould just seem weird... I just love words like King and Lord and Master and Father and Son and so on, so much. YDS can keep its insipid keeper and commonwealth and parent and child!

My Greek NT, which I love enough to work work work at it.

2. What rooms are they in?
...My bedroom, study, and kitchen. Especially near the second-hand chair in which I have my quiet times. It's orange.

3. What translations do you have?
CF above.

4. Do you have a preference?
Hard to admit, but my Scofield is my favorite. We have survived a lot together. And what imagination! What novelty!

5. Nominate an interesting verse:

God sounds so inclusive here...

Isaiah 19:24-26 (King James Version)

In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.