Blog Template Theology of the Body: May 2006

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Why can Christians be so mean?

As many of you know, I really enjoy dipping into some of the blogs run by young, evangelical homeschool students; the sites I visit express many of the views of my own background and upbringing, and it is invigorating to engage them from that context which I now inhabit, which represents the opposite end of the spectrum. These young people are the soul of conservative earnestness as they defend the American values of Doug Phillips esq., patriarchy, and notions of chivalry somehow wrestled from Scripture... but best of all are their personal "challenges."

This was recently received in response to my blogging... I had to laugh:

"Well said, MM.

Spoken like a modern newly propagandized neo-conservative catholic of the modern legal system with a freshly baked mind that thrives on spouting the rhetoric it has been fed, and is ready to join the masses in proclaiming what they have been told to believe.... I would encourage you to think things through a little more before taking Satan’s hook."

Monday, May 29, 2006

A new blog

... I (MM) have begun a new kind of conversation, specifically for women who seek to reflect theologically on what it means to serve our Lord as women. I am really excited about it... you can see whether it might be worth reading further here: Christian Womanhood,

Twenty-Seventh Honeymoon with my Lord

For as long as I have been capable, I have tried to set aside some time each year to get away for some in-depth discussion and loving with God; in some years, this has amounted to the year entire, and in others, it has taken up no more than a day. This time around, my retreat will be especially serious, since my pastor has urged me to underake a full 30-day time of silent prayer and reflection at the beautiful retreat center pictured above. I begin a preliminary week-long retreat tomorrow in order to be sure that I can endure the full experience! The retreat will be based on the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, and will be guided by daily meetings with my retreat director. Please pray for me.

(If any of you have not made a retreat in a while, perhaps give the Jesuits a shot sometime in the near future... it will do you no end of good. See their directory of local retreat centers here-)

Browns at the Bookstore

Fr. WB and I meandered over to the Yale bookstore today and spent a while browsing. Besides having to pour through the latest hype on the Gospel of Judas, the Jesus documents, and Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, etc., we were delighted to find and purchase two titles by much worthier Browns: Peter Brown's excellent biography of Augustine (the dear man was just awarded the honorary Doctorate of Letters here), and Raymond Brown's title, The Church the Apostles Left Behind.

Pope visits Auschwitz

Pope Benedict on the Nazis and the Holocaust:

"Deep down, those vicious criminals, by wiping out this people, wanted to kill the God who called Abraham, who spoke in Sinai and laid down principles to serve as a guide for mankind, principles that are entirely valid," he said.

"If this people, by its very existence, was a witness to the God who spoke to humanity and took us to himself, then that God finally had to die and power had to belong to man alone, to those men who thought that by force they had made themselves masters of the world.

"By destroying Israel, they ultimately wanted to tear up the tap root of the Christian faith and to replace it with a faith of their own invention: faith in the rule of man, the rule of the powerful."

Read the NY Times article.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Here are some photos from Yale Divinity School Commencement 2006:

Our illustrious Blogger-in-Chief receives her diploma

Fr. WB, MM and a lovely woman whose name, alas, I have forgotten

Local physicist

MM and an extraordinarily handsome fellow

Fr. WB and YDS prof #1

Fr. WB and YDS prof #2

Fr. WB, MM and Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Awesomo

Fr. WB gives MM the kiss of peace

Fr. and Mrs. Lucas with member of YDS Class of 2026

Episcopal Variety Pack

Saturday, May 27, 2006

My research over the past few years has involved a lot of recourse to Jewish law and theology; and apart from getting to work with some fabulous Jewish rabbis and scholars, one of my favorite resources is a fun email subscription to weekly rabbinic reflections/interpretations of Scripture from

This week's reflection on the account of the Fall in Genesis:

Since it is human nature to make assumptions, one should try to take the necessary precautions in interpersonal relationships. Since most situations are more complex than initially meets the eye, it is worthwhile to ask questions beforehand
to clarify any vague points. Had first Adam, then Eve, asked some
clarifying questions the whole mess might not have happened!

Check out the awesome and free compendium of resources in Jewish theology available by subscription here!

Blessed Charles Spurgeon

... He is generally a tad out of my ballpark, but these thoughts are truly a blessing:

Care, even though exercised upon legitimate objects, if carried to excess, has in it the nature of sin. The precept to avoid anxious care is earnestly inculcated by our Saviour, again and again; it is reiterated by the apostles; and it is one which cannot be neglected without involving transgression: for the very essence of anxious care is the imagining that we are wiser than God, and the thrusting ourselves into his place to do for him that which he has undertaken to do for us. We attempt to think of that which we fancy he will forget; we labour to take upon ourselves our weary burden, as if he were unable or unwilling to take it for us.

Read the rest here-

Two Ideas of Freedom

A friend and I were chatting about the interplay of authority and freedom in the Christian life, and I was reminded of my favorite treatment on point... George Weigel's essay, "Two Ideas of Freedom" (Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington D.C., 2001) puts it all together with his usual deference to Christ and orthodoxy. He says-

Freedom is for excellence. Freedom is a means to human excellence, to human happiness, to the fulfillment of human destiny. Freedom is the capacity to choose wisely and to act well as a matter of habit—or, to use the old-fashioned term, as an outgrowth of virtue. Freedom is the means by which, exercising both our reason and our will, we act on the natural longing for truth, for goodness, and for happiness that is built into us as human beings. Freedom is something that grows in us, and the habit of living freedom wisely must be developed through education, which among many other things involves the experience of emulating others who live wisely and well. Freedom is in fact the great organizing principle of the moral life—and since the very possibility of a moral life (the capacity to think and choose) is what distinguishes the human person from the rest of the natural world, freedom is the great organizing principle of a life lived in a truly human way. That is, freedom is the human capacity that unifies all our other capacities into an orderly whole, and directs our actions toward the pursuit of happiness and goodness understood in the noblest sense: the union of the human person with the absolute good, who is God.
Read the whole thing here-

Team Brown- Yale Commencement 2006

Fr. WB has provided a graduation moment, where you can see more of what we look like here...I hardly think that online posting of personal photos accords with Christian modesty, but we are rather proud of ourselves at present...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Yawn of Heresy

Last night Fr. WB, MM and self went to see The Da Vinci Code. It lived up to its advanced press (see reviews by the NY Times and Roger Ebert, and this debunker from the unlikely source of the Slate) and was positively stultifying. The disconnected plot moved meaninglessly from situation to situation slowed only by laboured expositions of dialogue, which in fact explain nothing. The fact that the movie actually has three (possibly four) climaxes does nothing to help it. In short, DVC is just plain boring.

This has only added certainty to my growing conviction that heresy is, more than anything, dull. This came home to me last week while I was sitting in my final RCIA meeting (actually last night was the officual final meeting, but I was out of town). RCIA—for those of you who don't know—stands for Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, and is the process through which one enters the Catholic Church. I affectionately nicknamed it "cataclysm" since, while it ostensibly is intended to catechize us neophytes because it increasingly apparent that the people in charge of it are heretics. My last night there was no disappoitnment, the subtle undermining of church teaching was in full force and (egads!) by a nun! Her talk, which concerned what the church was and what it meant to be part of it, was largely drawn from Avery Cardinal Dulles' book Models of the Church (a summary of which can be found here).

The gist of her talk—entitled "Myths and Misconceptions"—was that (1) the church as an institution is changing over time, and that (2) we are all "church." The myths addressed included such essentials of the faith as the divinity of Christ and his resurrection in the flesh, while the misconceptions concerned the authority of the Church to teach and mold Christians into the Imago Christi.

All this is terribly concerning, but what interested me is that people did not respond to this. Her talk excited almost zero interest. The reason, I believe, is that only orthodoxy is really exciting because only orthodoxy addresses both the actual state of our souls and of the conditions of our existence. Heresy tells us we're okay as we are, while orthodoxy is a challenge to turn from sin and through faith, to live in Christ. People respond to this, sometimes negatively, somtimes positively, because a response is demanded. You cannot be passive about orthodoxy, but you can only be passive about heresy. Heresy dilutes faith to the point where belief and disbelief amount to the same thing. Which is precisely what happens in DVC. Once it is asserted that Christ was only a man, why bother?

Post script: I am not trying to assert that Cardinal Dulles is a heretic, but only to give the context of the talk. My guess is that it was wildly misinterpreted and I would be interested to hear from anyone who has read it.

"Well, that was trash"

...overheard among fellow theater goers last night while walking out of the (tedious) DaVinci Code... really, enough said.

But I would add this befuddled question (with nods to Garland for his excellent post on point above), can Dan Brown not COUNT? Even assuming the asinine idea that anyone would refer to Da Vinci for basic points of The Real Christianity, there are TWELVE disciples present and accounted for in Da Vinci's lovely depiction of the Last Supper, at the critical moment when Jesus breaks bread... as in the Gospel account, they all are there- Peter, Andrew, James, John, Phillip, Bartholemew, Thomas, James, Matthew, Simon, Judas, and Thaddaeus. Sorry, no room for the sainted Mary Mag in the painting, which would would of course = thirteen.


Helpful Bob Dylan

... a friend of mine shared with me this morning that she had appropriated some lyrics of Dylan in a recent opportunity to share the Gospel. She described it thus:

"I thought you'd be proud of my recent conversation with a yoga friend... It was one of my boldest (and I hope not too flippant) testimonies of faith."

J: I like to start off the day with some pranayama.
A: Yeah, I like to start it off with some prayer.
J: Out of curiosity, who do you pray to?
A: Jesus.
J: Really?
A: Yup, he's the boss. As Bob Dylan says, you gotta serve

(Here are the lyrics:)

You may be an ambassador to England or France, You may like to gamble, you might like to dance, You may be the heavyweight champion of the world, You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed You're gonna have to serve somebody, Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

... Way to go, A!!!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Of Brides and Bridegrooms

Fr. WB preached this sermon for a friend's wedding at which he officiated in TN this weekend. WOW.

The event provoked a few self-confessed interior conversions to Christ. The sermon has a lot to do with various of the reasons as to why I am going to marry the preacher...

God has given us Holy Matrimony to be an icon of the love of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, for us.

The opening of the prayer book service puts it very plainly. The bond and covenant of marriage is commended by Holy Scripture to be honored among all people BECAUSE “it signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church” (BCP, 423). His Church, his people… we who have been reborn into the new life of God’s own Son “by water and the Spirit” (John 3.5). By entering into this bond and covenant, Anne and Michael solemnly undertake to proclaim with their life together, the love of God for the world he made: a love perfected in the giving of his only Son to die on the cross (John 3.16).

Jesus poured out his life on the cross and thereby laid claim to a Bride, the one Church. He procured her redemption through his own suffering and bloodletting and death. His last words before he died were “It is finished.” In Latin: Consummatum est! It is consummated. The cross is the consummation of Christ’s divine love for his Bride, the Church. On the cross he is poured out completely. He holds nothing of himself back. His death is an ecstasy of pure love. Ekstasis in Greek means to stand outside of oneself. On the cross, the union of Christ’s Soul and Body, his very selfhood is ruptured in death. He undertakes this rupture of his own selfhood, out of the depths of his love for us.

That is what the union, the becoming-one of this couple (Ephesians 5.31), will tell the world. And that proclamation to the world is what makes their matrimony holy. To say that a thing is “holy” is to say that it is set aside for a special use. This is the special use of marriage: to show the world in what way God loves us: by uniting himself to us in life and in death. Never lose sight of that. Nor ever lose sight of this fact that goes with it: holy matrimony is not primarily about you. It is about you. But it is about you in that you are being set apart and sanctified in order to proclaim the love of God to a world in desperate, desperate need of that proclamation. Watch CNN for five minutes. You’ll see what I mean.

The world is going to hell in a hand-basket. And the only thing that saves from hell is the love of God in Christ: a love physically perfected, a love consummated, by the total self-surrender, the total submission, the unreserved outpouring of divine life on a cross in Zion. That divine love draws mankind so tightly to the breast of God that we are said thereby to be united to God – by being united to Christ in the ecstatic love of his outpouring of himself, in the consummation of the cross (Romans 6.5).

Marriage is not about you. It is about saving the world. Saving it by and in and through the power of God’s own love for all these beautiful, silly creatures he made. What makes Matrimony Holy, is its being instituted in order for us to share, in an incredible way, the Son of God’s saving of the world. Today this couple join together as one to share in saving the world, by sharing in the love of God that saves it. Friends, your love for one another must be empowered by the love of God in the stricken face of Christ. The love of Christ, and the love of the love of Christ, must be the wellspring for your own love for one another. If you allow the love of God in Christ to uphold and empower your own life of love, then your life together and your love for one another will be set apart – made holy – to proclaim redemption to a desperate and broken world; a world full of people crying out to be desired, yearning to be yearned-for. Keep your life rooted in the love of God in Christ Jesus, and your love for one another will overflow, and will meet the desire-to-be-desired and the yearning-to-be-yearned-for of the people who will see you and who will come to know you. By seeing the oneness of your life and love, people will see and come to know the healing, saving, redeeming oneness of God’s love for them in the ecstasy of Christ.

Let your mutual submission be immovably rooted in Christ’s submission unto death, and in the Church’s submission to his crucified Lordship. If you keep your love for one another wrapped up in this love, in his love, you will find that your love for one another will take on the redemptive character of his love: it will become immortal. To be sure: your love will rouse the fury of Hell, and the Devil’s wrath. Your life together will face challenges, as all good and holy things in this world do. But this is the blessed assurance: the power of death, the gates of Hell, shall not prevail against you and your love, because your love will be wrapped in the love of God. And his love forbears all, forgives all, conquers all. By keeping your love for one another rooted in the love of Christ crucified, you will keep yourselves rooted in the victory of his love. And in all these things, you will be more than conquerors through him who loved you. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus your Lord (Romans 8.37ff). To whom be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Worship With Graven Images

I wrote this explanation about icons for a friend this morning...

Icons can be sticky, but they are so valuable and often so helpful to people in their prayers.

First, (of importance to Jews), Christians read the First Commandment in light of our worship of Jesus, who is the Word incarnate, and hence the IMAGE of God. Thus, the use of images (icons) in Christian worship, in light of this fundamental principle of our faith (the Incarnation of God, wherein God makes Himself known to us not only through Word but through the physical, visible, creaturely reality of flesh and blood) does not violate the First Commandment. As God revealed Himself and inhabited the creaturely reality in Jesus, the creaturely realities expressed in images become appropriate resources for our worship. The incarnation of the Son of God ushered in a new role for images; though God is always invisible and incomprehensible, images of Christ (in whom God has made Himself definitively, visibly, and physically known) allow for deeper contemplation of our Lord Jesus.

So iconography is always ultimately about Jesus, who is our only "picture" of God. As such, icons are helpful in communicating the Gospel in images which illuminate the words of Scripture- the two realities can illustrate and illumine each other, particularly for nonliterate persons. Icons allow for a harmony of the senses, as persons hear God's Word proclaimed, and simultaneously consider the illustrations of that Word in icons; this harmony also allows for a deeper impression on the hearer's memory, imagination, and heart. Christ can be glorified in images, in as much as they signify Him to the viewer and make Him manifest. The beauty of icons can subtly deepen a person's experience in prayer. Finally, images of other believers who are now in God's presence powerfully remind Christians that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, with whom we join (now) in praise and worship of the Lord.

Hope this helps-

CF also New Advent on point here, and the Orthodox Catecism here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Church in China

Here's an editorial from the NYT that deals with some of the early history of the Catholic Church in China, dealing with the first clash of Rome and the Chinese emperor in the 18th century. Interesting enough.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Umberto Eco on Macatholicity

The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the ratio studiorum of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory; it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach -- if not the kingdom of Heaven -- the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: The essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.

Of course, I've known this all along. But it's true. Being a Mac user is precisely like being a Christian. It's better in every way from being in the darkness of PC-ism, but impossible to experience from the outside. Once you make the leap of faith into a Mac, you'll wonder why you didn't do it much earlier, but alas it's a leap that most people don't make until they've reached the rock-bottom of endless system crashes, frustrating third party software/hardware, etc., etc.

I've actually subtly skewed Eco's (hilarious) point, but oh well. Read it all here. Came to me via my brother Hardy.

Graduation Gifts?

... I stumbled across this title in the Harvard bookstore early last week, and have already passed on two copies to some of my favorite students: cf Theology: The Basics, by Alister McGrath of Oxford. Alister may be terrifically hard to get a hold of, and unbelievably clipped, but he is an orthodox, evangelical fellow whom I respect in every way, from the depths of his heart to the very accessible scholarship made available here. The book is organized like a catechism, but is written in a highly readable, narrative style.

I highly recommend this book!

Summer Apologia

Dear Readers,

As this is the blog of a grad student, you will notice some changes for the next few months because I am on summer break!

In the spirit of our Lord's own leisurely pace in the plan of salvation, and in light of some serious travelling and retreating, I will be taking a different approach to blogging for the next few months, by posting only when something really grabs my attention, and thus taking a break from the usual discipline of posting on schedule. God willing, the usual routine will resume in the Fall, when I will have taken up residence in my new degree program deep in the heart of Texas.

Just FYI.

John: I will come to you

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

All praises to the only One who has ever given of Himself to the uttermost for the one He loves.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Our Mother

"Behold the Handmaiden of the Lord"

Because in as much as we share in Christ's Father by His incarnation, death, and resurrection for us, we share in His mother too; and her motherhood of her Son and all who are found in Him continues uninterrupted by grace, from her consent to the Annunciation, to her unwavering love at her Son's Cross, to the eternal fulfillment of her Son's mission in the consummation of all His people. May God's children honor her accordingly.

... and speaking of the Church's emulation of Mary's motherhood, check out this awesome ministry of Young Life to unwed teen mothers and their little ones... "Young Lives." I love it.

Alcuin, Deacon and Abbot of Tours AD 804

A scholar and a saint. For those of us approaching commencement or compiling summer reading lists, a gentle reminder that the perilous and prideful work of the academy, while dangerous, may in time and grace lend themselves to the imitation of our Lord.

He was a Benedictine scholar and counselor to Charlemagne, sometimes called Alcuin of York. He was ordained a deacon and became headmaster of the York cathedral school. Charlemagne invited Alcuin to become the minister of education for the Frankish court, where Alcuin also founded a school and tutored the emperor. He was known for his holiness and scholarly wisdom, writing theological and liturgical treatises, and for his contributions to the "Carolingian Renaissance..."

Friday, May 12, 2006

Chains: Persons Suffering from Depression

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 this insidious enemy can look so deceptively like a friend, while it destroys God's people... because our God wills nothing for His people but life, and that life in Christ more abundantly... because the dizzying strength of joy is both our properly serious duty and great reward.

"You shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace."
(Isaiah somewhere)

I recommend the prayer of St. Michael on point for serious business.

Fr. WB's New Boss

... is the loveliest, dearest, most precious rector (in our new provenance of Dallas, this is highest praise available in the native lingo)

He sent this wonderful piece of wisdom to us via e-mail this morning:

"That is the blessing: seeing God at work, in spite of and beyond ourselves. Events like these assist the deepening of our trust in Him, helping us to risk believing that, indeed, in all things He is working for our good. When difficult times come, that is the conviction which helps us open to His grace, that gift which can get us not only through all things but, by them, make us holy."

Apologize: Da Vinci Crux

Oh the lamentable state of our culturally illiterate culture... oh dark days that we should live through such times as these, where the masses join with the elite in supposing that the facts of history and tradition are quite expendable for the silliest of intrigues... oh lame saint. (yes, I have read it twice now myself)

So out The Da Vinci Code comes next week. I have long resorted to dismissing it with a charming wave of the hand, because I can. But we all should be ready to gloss over the most poignant of the silly bits, so here are some good sites-

From Campus Crusade:
From apologist Josh McDowell:
From Catholic Response:

Not surprisingly, my favorite perspective comes from Campus Crusade-

"Controversy and dialogue are always healthy for religion as a whole! We welcome an honest examination of the facts and regard this movie as an excellent opportunity for people to come to know the true Jesus, of Scripture and history, and to be able to experience a life-changing encounter with Him."

They continue-

"Based on our past track record, we conservatively estimate that at the peak of the spiritual interest during the release of the movie, we will see hundreds of people each day contacting us and asking questions about Jesus and how He can become their Savior. Please pray that many will enter His Kingdom." (Contact them here- )


Thursday, May 11, 2006

From Great Commandment to Great Commission

Check out this video interview with the Right Reverend Charles E. Jenkins, III, the bishop of Louisiana. Bishop Jenkins is one of seven candidates vying to become the next presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, USA. In this video Bishop Jenkins talks about the way his life changed after Hurricane Katrina, the ways that he realized he had not been serving Christ before, and his hopes for a missional church.

One of the better quotes from the interview: "I would like to see us put greater energy into mission, that we become not just a Great Commandment church, loving God, loving neighbor, and loving self, but also a Great Commission church. It's been interesting to see, occassionally when someone has asked, 'Well, why are you doing this?' in terms of what we're trying to do [helping Katrina victims] in New Orleans. 'Why are you doing this?' That's the evangelical moment, the opportunity to talk about my relationship with Christ and how the love of God, the unconditional love of God in my life propels me to be about the ministry that we are trying to undertake in New Orleans."

I wish more bishops thought like that. What a wonderful gift it would be to the Church if he became the next ECUSA presiding bishop.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Good Shepherds

Anyone who knows me knows how critical I believe it is to have a good pastor who is personally available for regular guidance, whether through confession or spiritual direction. I just had the most AMAZING, encouraging meeting with my pastor this morning; we discussed my summer plans and where God is taking my prayer life. What a blessing.

When was the last time you met with your pastor?

Entertaining Strangers

In the past few weeks, the US (that nation in which the Church sojourns, among others) has been grappling with protests and legislation pertaining to illegal immigrants. I am often puzzled by the way in which conservative, evangelical Americans turn to Scripture in controversies pertaining to criminal law, but in controversies concerning immigration, we merely turn to Pat Buchanan. As our own dear MMBX pointed out, the Biblical principles on point come directly from the Book of Exodus:

Exodus 22:21:
Thou shalt neither vex an alien, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Exodus 23:9
Also thou shalt not oppress an alien: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Matthew 25
In as much as you have done it to (the stranger), you have done it unto me.

How can the Church enact its own obedient policies towards the current national events (and we must do so, if we plan to apply God's Word to all of life, including political life)-? I propose the following:

1) We can insist on legislation that guarantees the humane treatment and just representation of aliens who must be deported.
2) We can provide funding for attorneys to assist interested deportees in returning legally to the USA, if they so desire, and especially if proper living conditions or personal safety requires it.
3) We can train illegal immigrants (many of them our brothers and sisters in Christ) with the education, language capabilities, employment, and legal savvy to become legal residents.

...The opportunities are endless. It might be unreasonable for the national government to take on many of these acts of mercy; but what a blessing that we in Christ's Church CAN perform such "unreasonable" hospitality.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Mere Audibility

You can hear C.S. Lewis from beyond the grave here.

Hat tip to Pontifications, who in turn hat-tips this rather interesting bit blogosphere.

(You may need Real Player, if you don't already have it.)

The Legend of the Dogwood

CT is ariot with these gorgeous trees in bloom this spring... I have never seen anything like it. The breathtaking beauty is attached to a charming legend, given the cruciform shape of the dogwood flower; I happily found it mentioned in my church bulletin yesterday. If you have these gorgeous trees blooming in your area, what a perfect opportunity to share this anecdote with a friend... :)

As legend has it, the cross on which Jesus was crucified was made from a dogwood tree. God decreed that the dogwood tree would from that day forth never grow large enough to be used to make a cross.
Thus, the dogwood tree is a small, gnarled tree.

The flower of the dogwood has four petals which makes the shape of a cross.
The center of the flower resembles the crown of thorns with bright red, clustered fruit in the center representing the blood of Christ. The dogwood blooms in April when Easter Sunday marks the resurrection of Christ after the Crucifixion.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Dame Julian of Norwich, 1417

"...And all manner of things shall be well..."

"What? Wouldest thou comprehend thy Lord's meaning in this thing? Understand it well: Love was His meaning. Who showed it to thee? Love. Why did He show it to thee? For love. Hold thee therein Love, thou shalt know more in the same. With this illumination, the whole mystery of Redemption and the purpose of human life becomes clear, and even the possibility of sin and the existence of evil does not trouble, but is made "a bliss by love. This is the great deed, transcending our reason, that the Blessed Trinity shall do at the last day: Thou shalt see thyself that all manner of thing shall be well.

...God is more nearer to us than our own soul, and in falling and rising we are ever preciously kept in one love. God's dealings with us are in homeliness and courtesy for love maketh might and wisdom fully meek to us. With this we must correspond to God by a happy confidence; failing of comfort is the most mischief into which the soul can fall."

A young Benedictine, who, in loving seclusion, gave to the Church many other such treasures....

Culture Pop: Best Church Ever

Fr. WB is being interviewed by one of the BEST churches I have ever heard of, anywhere. We feel so grateful to have begun a relationship with such an exciting community. Check it out and be challenged to "0rthodox faith, traditional worship, and evangelical preaching, teaching, and outreach" wherever you find yourself communing.

Culture Pop: The Almighty

Secretary of State Madelyn Albright was a visitor at YDS last Fall... she kept touring through the library with her entourage, as I remember. The result of such interconnections appears to be her own statement on a political theology, entitled The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on God, America, and World Affairs. Interesting...

Anyone eager to read on such topics should first acquire my advisor's On Being the Church of Jesus Christ in Tumultuous Times- it is excellent.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Chains: young people suffering from addictions

In honor of St. Monica and our Lord who sets captives free, intercessions are in order for those young victims of a decadent culture who have fallen into substance abuses of various kinds; pray for their souls, for a renewal of their health and purity, and for the patient persistance and courage of their counsellors.

In that vein, a nod to this great Christian resource for young people bound by eating disorders, pointed out by my friends who work among these precious young people in FOCUS campus ministries. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Lord, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us

Praise God that the jury chose not to take the life of Zacarias Moussaoui. May this be a significant step in the healing of the victims of 9/11 and their families.

From the NY Times article:

Robin Theurkauf, who lost her husband in the World Trade Center and testified for the defense, said in an interview that she was surprised but gratified by the verdict.

Ms. Theurkauf, a divinity student at Yale, said that by showing the jury that some family members were not seeking Mr. Moussaoui's death "we may have given them permission to free themselves from a obligation to respond to the massive grief with vengeance. We allowed them to view the case dispassionately."

I wonder if Ms. Theurkauf is known to any of my YDS buddies.

Prayers of Thanksgiving

... my last papers of the term and my master's degree are complete as of now. I am grateful for the chance to have poured my tired little heart into some really interesting topics this semester... I am thankful for lots of Earl Grey tea...I am thankful for my friends, for whom I am going to bake cookies tonight in thanks for their support.

I do not know why it took about fifty pages each to say it, but the gist of my research lately has been-

1) The Divided Church in Uganda (for Miroslav) - Solution: Christians need to unite together in obedience to Christ (ecumenism is a Christian duty, not an option), and in the absence of resolved "communion," resolve at least to act towards the denominational Other as Christ commanded us to behave towards our enemies... with love, hospitality, and prayers. This will necessarily involve Protestant pastors and parents refraining from all verbal slurs against Catholics, and vice versa.

2) Evangelical America's Idolization of the Family (for Joe Jones)- Solution: In light of the fact that Scripture posits the Church as God's family, the Christian family may only be properly construed in relation to the church. The church is to be the central social unit and primary allegiance that governs Christian family life, and from which family life derives; Christian families must be ordered towards the service of the Church (and not the other way around) in order to avoid imploding on themselves or worse, being over-run by the state.

Praise, praise the Lord for His help.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

religious life

Sr. Anne has been attending a (real) Theology of the Body conference! - I have really been enjoying her coverage- check it out, here and here-

DO NOT MISS the cantuar's video clip of Franciscans jamming it up in some kind of hip hop outreach... this was a big hit at Fr. WB's house last night.

Lastly, Fr. WB has been showing off the new recruiting video for manly young priests from Grassroots... it is awe-inspiring, of course. Ah Rome....


I have been inspired to start working on a catholic Children's catechism. I have been really unhappy with what I have found available for my godchildren- does anyone have any thoughts/suggestions?

The Relatively Good Book: The Liberal Protestant Bible

I have just finished my last Scripture survey course, and I learned a lot of things.

Not least I learned that, in the face of the Biblical "ambiguity," "multivocality," and "polyphany" involved in Forcing Scripture To Accomodate Our Culture in the most colonial way, I learned to be very smug about the whole business....

...but this is both 1) dull and 2) exceedingly unattractive.

There is a PhD student in Theology at Baylor who puts it beautifully-

"In the beginning was an affirming Word." (John 1:1)
"For whoever is ashamed of my and my words is to be commended for his tolerance and sensitivity to others." (Luke 9:26)
"Because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, you have attained reason, and can engage in dialogue." (Revelation 3:16)
'What is Truth'? Pilate asked. What do you think it is?'" Jesus asked. (John 18:38)
"I am a way to master many truths about your life." (John 14:6)
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, affirming them in the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer." (Matthew 28:19)
"On hearing this, the disciples said: 'this is a hard saying- who can accept it?' Aware that His disciples were troubled, Jesus said "I sense that this has offended your sensibilities.' So He apologized and took it all back." (John 6:60-61)

For a moment, I thought he was serious. Read the rest here-

"Blessed are the relevant, for they shall worship in their own way.... blessed are the private, for they have refused to subject their motivations to the Church's discourse..."

Monday, May 01, 2006

Just so you know...

I haven't entirely neglected my other blog, Eye & Mind. I'm going to try to keep the more pertinently religious things over here and my arts and culture comments over there. Click above to see what I mean.

Today's Sermon: Why It's My Favorite Catechism

For some reason, we all remained seated during the Gospel reading in Church yesterday, and hence I cannot remember it. Perfect evidence that our bodies need to be liturgically involved. Fr. WB is stuck in the library, so I am also bereft of guidance. So here is my Monday contribution, with fear and trembling.

Everyone is on strike today.
And YES, the RC Church has something good to say about it:

"Recourse to a strike is morally legitimate for workers when it cannot be avoided, or at least when it is necessary to obtain a proportionate benefit. It becomes morally unacceptable when accompanied by violence, or when objectives are included that are not directly linked to working conditions or are contrary to the common good." (RCC, 2435)

So.... are the rallies of Hispanic workers on strike outside my window morally justifiable?... hmmm...