Blog Template Theology of the Body: June 2006

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Map of Art History

The most recent issue of Drawing Magazine has published "The Flowering Staircase: 1435-1935," a genealogical chart of artists from Michelangelo to Thomas Eakins and Robert Henri. Somehow they bothered to list Norman Rockwell and Howard Pyle (illustrators), while Picasso is palpably omitted. Obvious biases aside, it has some value for the student of art history.

(Here's the link to the author of the Staircase.)

Cantaur on Communion

The NY Times has an article, which may not be news to many readers of this and other blogs, but was to me, about Rowan's response to the theological conflicts within the Episcopal Church. Apparently, Rowan has called for a "covenant" document which would call all member churches of the Anglican Communion to abide by the "Windsor Report" and cease from the ordination of gay bishops, or be marginalized in the Communion.

In a defining moment in the Anglican Communion's civil war over homosexuality, the Archbishop of Canterbury proposed a plan yesterday that could force the Episcopal Church in the United States either to renounce gay bishops and same-sex unions or to give up full membership in the Communion.

The archbishop, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, said the "best way forward" was to devise a shared theological "covenant" and ask each province, as the geographical divisions of the church are called, to agree to abide by it. [...]

Conservatives hailed the archbishop's move as an affirmation that the American church stepped outside the bounds of Christian orthodoxy when it ordained a gay bishop three years ago. [...]

Church liberals said that any "covenant" would be crafted with the participation of the American church and other provinces that favored full inclusion of gay people. [...]

[Jefferts Schori] said in an interview yesterday that she was heartened by Archbishop Williams's comments in the letter that he would not be able to mend rifts over sexuality single-handedly.

"There were expectations out there that he would intervene or direct various people and provinces to do certain things, and he made it quite clear that it's not his role or responsibility to do that," Bishop Jefferts Schori said.

The rest of it is here.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

St Augustine on the Will

I sighed after such freedom, but was bound not by an iron imposed by anyone else but by the iron of my own choice. The enemy had a grip on my will and so made a chain for me to hold me a prisoner. The consequence of a distorted will is passion. By servitude to passion, habit is formed, and habit to which there is no resistance becomes necessity. By these links, as it were, connected one to another (hence my term a chain), a harsh bondage held me under restraint. The new will, which was beginning to be within me a will to serve you freely and to enjoy you, God, the only sure source of pleasure, was not yet strong enough to conquer me older will, which had the strength of old habit. So my two wills, one old, the other new, one carnal, the other spiritual, were in conflict with one another, and their discord robbed my soul of all concentration.
The Confessions, VIII. v (10)

St. Augustine takes up Scriptures and reads

Monday, June 26, 2006


"And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there...And God said unto Abraham, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it." (Genesis 11 and 15)
Spotted on my road trip today: advertisements for a new exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science: artifacts from Ur, the birthplace of Abraham. I was intrigued...

Now we settle back to business

... smack dab in the middle of scandalous post-ECUSA General Convention appearances of schism.

I think it one of the most grievous risks on the planet that such situations of unrest in Christ's Body will provoke cynicism in the unchurched and despair in the unbelieving. It is heartbreaking.

No matter how vigorously we grapple with one another, may we never entertain the thoughts of "us" and "them" without holding firmly to the confession that we are ontologically just one. May we hold our hearts open to "those" for whom Christ suffered and died, and for whom He ever lives to intercede. May we seek and serve our Lord in "them." May we earnestly be looking for all that might remain of His glory even in the midst of "their" confusion. May we count ourselves with "them" in "their" sin, as in truth we ARE with "them" in our sin. And may we rejoice beyond words at every opportunity for the compassion and respect that we hope for from others .

I have been bothered by a sad inability to pray as I ought for the after-effects; so I have settled on these very simple sentences:

Lord, give peace. Lord, make us one in truth.

Lord, let us cede nothing to evil. Amen.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


There was this enormous parade in San Francisco today.

I am all for love, justice, solidarity, equal opportunities, and the honoring of human dignity among all people. I am all for compassion as a superceding political and social norm, ESPECIALLY according to the politics of our Lord. For these reasons, I hope that the good people who showed up in SF today will enjoy every grace of repentence for their healing and for the healing of our poor culture.

Human love is not the activity of a natural force or "right;" rather, it is the gift of self, governed and guided by regard for the other’s benefit- and here I mean CHASTITY, that unique prerogative of the human person, that glorious, healing, life-giving thing which recognizes the valid duty of sexual self-expression only in the properly conjugal union that tends towards the human family. On the other hand: sheer natural force let loose on the other can only take the form of predatory feeding, and without the discipline of chaste love, expends the vulnerability of the other for the sake of a cancerous parody of gratification. Without discipline, without renunciation, without the stricture of chastity, the weak are crushed. And that is no “love” at all.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Reasons to Remain Anglican/Episcopalian...

... Anyone?

Play Date

Check it out: Catholics and Protestants can play nicely!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Feast of the Sacred Heart

Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a good day to pray this litany that Fr. WB has posted at Whitehall with the intention for the unity of the Body of Christ.

From New Advent:
[D]evotion to the Sacred Heart may be defined as devotion to the adorable Heart of Jesus Christ in so far as this Heart represents and recalls His love; or, what amounts to the same thing, devotion to the love of Jesus Christ in so far as this love is recalled and symbolically represented to us by His Heart of flesh.


In thus devoting oneself to Jesus all loving and lovable, one cannot fail to observe that His love is rejected. God is constantly lamenting that in Holy Writ, and the saints have always heard within their hearts the plaint of unrequited love. Indeed one of the essential phases of the devotion is that it considers the love of Jesus for us as a despised, ignored love.

Cf. Today's reading:
Thus says the LORD:
When Israel was a child I loved him,
out of Egypt I called my son.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
who took them in my arms;
I drew them with human cords,
with bands of love;
I fostered them like one
who raises an infant to his cheeks;
Yet, though I stooped to feed my child,
they did not know that I was their healer.

My heart is overwhelmed,
my pity is stirred.
I will not give vent to my blazing anger,
I will not destroy Ephraim again;
For I am God and not a man,
the Holy One present among you;
I will not let the flames consume you.
Hosea 11

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Four Reasons to Become Catholic

In wake of Episcopal and Presbyterian whackiness, New Advent has listed some excellent reasons to swim the Tiber.

A Man For All Seasons

Hans Holbein the Younger, Sir Thomas More, 1527

Today is the memorial of St. Thomas More, martyr, my patron saint. You can read a little more about him here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

BS on the "Motherhood" of Jesus: Out of the gate and in your face

- that is, our new primatess, Bishop Schori, had some soothing bits of blasphemy to toss around on her first day in office: “Our mother Jesus gives birth to a new creation and we are his children..."

Ahem. Though Jesus Himself has a mother, He is not Himself a mother. This is an important distinction to make, it seems. Intolerable.

Read the rest here.

HT: Titus One Nine


It's all rather ironic.

I was up intermittently throughout the night trying to offer solace and humble counsel to Fr. WB from his parents' guest room as he paced and fretted about the future of a Communion that he led me by the hand to join just last fall.

For the record, the Immenent Transition that must surely be upon us in the fact of NO APOLOGY will not effect me much, apart from Fr. WB's sleepless nights; I have always been an ANGLICAN, in as much as my confirmation was conferred by Bishop Dunston of Uganda. But I stand at the ready- and our lovely Drew, our faithful RC brother at Holy Whapping, has read my mind this morning. I am hoping he will put in a good word for we disenfranchised somewhere over the Tiber.

And yesterday, a likely Boston think tank published my recent article on the nature of effective apologies. But then, I am a woman and a conservative.

Monday, June 19, 2006

On Why I Am Not Pursuing Ordination (with generous congratulations to the world's first woman primate)

I consecrated my life to Jesus Christ when I was about three. I study theology. I start ministries and spend a lot of time figuring out how to better serve the Body of Christ. I preach. I evangelize. I am usually bursting at the seams with annoying evangelical zeal. I officiated at a marriage as a laywoman last fall; and this past weekend, I donned a cassock to assist at another friend's wedding. "You look GREAT in vestments," some ECUSA friends told me with a wink and a nudge. I was honored beyond words by their loaded statement. But I will never be a priest.

The ordination of women, celebrated yesterday by the Anglican Communion's decision to promote Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of Nevada as its presiding bishop on Sunday, making her the first woman to lead a church in the worldwide Anglican Communion, apparently enacts themes of "liberation" and "revolution" and "inclusion" familiar in Christ's renewal of the world; but the ordination of women and the installation of Bishop Katherine does not ring with the faithful tradition of the Church because it does not, in fact, accord with the actual enactment of Jesus.

The Church has, until the past century, always held that despite great and immediate need, no one might presume to take up the task of laboring in the Lord's fields without actually being sent by the Lord of the Harvest Himself. Christ fulfilled His own command and prayer that workers might be send among His people by selecting and sending twelve particular men and their deliberately ordained successors to continue His work in the world. The Church has long held that her authority to ordain her clergy is purely derivative from the enactment of Christ Himself in sending twelve particular men to be His apostles; as such, the Church simply posesses no authority to ordain women. Certainly women are pastorally skilled, intellectually and emotionally capable; certainly they posess every dignity and God-given right held in common with men; certainly the Church might ordain them on account of such capacities. But the Church, founded on historical realities bounded by particularity, simply does not have that option. The Church is bound, for better or for worse, to follow the example of her Lord, who chose twelve men to be His apostles.

Yes, this "limitation" has caused me some personal grief within the Tradition that is not mine to revise or re-create. But honestly, I'm not that worked up about limitations on the sacredotal impulse that so often provokes people to run to serve at the altar, as though the apostolate of all believers and the mediation of Christ's life into the world were not the privilege of every baptized.

I remember Mary. The archetypal woman in the life of our Lord and in the life of His Church was not made an apostle. Yet she is the one who definitively presents God to humanity in her own flesh, so that He might take us into His very life. Our Lord may have charged the male Peter with the care of His flock and the keys to His Kingdom, but He entered Mary's very body. It is Mary whose heart is so united with His as to be "pierced" with Him. It is Mary who enjoins our Lord's first public act of service for His people. It is Mary who then commands servants in His name. And it is Mary, singled out among the twelve at Pentecost, who stands for womankind at the formation of the Church- more intimate with their Lord then they, more powerful than they, more honored than they- and yet, not an apostle. Mother of the Church, yes; bishop, no.

The Church has a Mother; and in Mary's motherhood, all women can comprehend the immediacy of God's calling to their innermost being, and the extent of their capacity to gift their very selves for His Church, and can both rest and move ever forward in the profundity of their vocation.

General Convention!

If any of you have not seen how HOT Fr. WB's Whitehall is these days, hop over and get a first- hand account from our very own mole at General Convention, Fr. Thorpus. His coverage is live, up-to-the-minute, and cookin'.

How you get saved

One of the world's foremost scholars in Rousseau happens to be one of mine and Fr. WB's dearest friends. He is suffering from a brain cancer that may end his life very soon. He is very much in our prayers, and we are daily offering intentions that he might claim Christ as as his Savior and accept the grace of baptism before his death. Please keep R in your prayers too. In the meantime, I have just Fed Exed this note to him in England.

June 19, 2006
Portsmouth, Virginia

Dear R,

I am writing to you from W’s home in Virginia, where we are enjoying a week with parents. After our brief chat on M's phone yesterday, it crossed my mind that as I have been spending a good deal of my time this summer praying for you, I might take the liberty of dropping a line to you in that regard. I really hope that you wont find this silly or offensive. The fact is that I have been quite moved by the deep affection that my dearest friends hold for you, and have been moved as well by the difficulties that you have faced over the past year. Believe me, I stand very much with our friends in having been pulling for you, from a distance, for some time.

Thus I will get to the point ( I had desperately wanted to meet you for tea over this, but M sternly forbade it!). The point is that (you may laugh) that I am very worried about your soul. Being firmly of the conviction that we have each got one and that it persists beyond the mechanics of the mundane life’s terminus at death, I am earnestly hoping that you might enjoy some consolation about what will happen to you when you die by appropriating hope.

As you know, R, we Christians firmly believe that our God has conquered our inevitable death out of love for His creature, and that a beatitude of great harmony, love and beauty is both presently given and awaits those who have confessed the Unmoved Mover to be their Lord in Jesus Christ. I could not presume to explain the story further to you. It is in the end a matter of faith and of quiet assent, but it is has always seemed to me that the evidences of such great love are ingrained in us- in our universal hope of being loved and accompanied; in the hope of being secure; in our fear of death as a thing mysterious and alien- these experiences have always seemed to me to lead not to further questions, but to the answers provided so well in the story of the God of the universe, who made His people to be loved and accompanied by Himself to the end, when He will secure their benefit and undo their death. To this end, God offers Himself to us. The whole illogical thing reeks of mercy and great kindness, and offers an invitation to any who would be provoked enough by it as to find it unbelievable- a simple invitation to hope in a God kind enough to extend such outrageous love and so audacious as to propose something so unverifiable in the midst of our present sufferings.

R, even as I write this I am embarrassed by the implausibility of it all; we Christians are still waiting for our claims to be established empirically. Nonetheless, our Scriptures promise that in the absence of things seen and proven, we are “saved” by hope. The formula in your case would then become quite simple- one would simply consent to trace any hope for any life or love at all back to the unseen God who began it all in the first place, one would consent to acknowledge the definitive outpouring of that love at Calvary, and would formally claim that grace for one’s own benefit- all simply as a gesture of love and trust in return- and as protection for the fault-ridden soul, which in the simple gesture of baptism is made clean and whole and fit for Heaven.

R, this is simply my heartfelt and humble invitation to you, written in sincerest respect. I believe these things with all my heart. You will remain in all of our prayers.

Yours very truly,

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Dear Frank Griswold...

An ECUSA priest of a small city in Texas wrote this note to +Frank, bless him, per his interview with Larry King on CNN the other day. I found his message interesting because it reflects the true heart of this church- faithful, unassuming, antique, community-embedded- as against the dangerous and proud posturing of sacerdotal elitism.

June 17, 2006

The Most Reverend T. Frank Griswold
Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

Dear Bishop Griswold,

It made me very sad to listen to your interview on CNN's "Larry King Live" two nights ago. Your responses showed a lack of concern for the things that matter most to me as an Episcopal priest and to many of us at Christ Episcopal Church. I have already received several phone calls and your comments actually hurts my ministry in San Antonio as I try to explain to my congregation why our leader has left the faith for new theologies and new understandings. I was especially shocked by your lack of humility and concern for the wider Communion who has patiently urged you to honor the "bonds of affection."

With a quote from John chapter 16 ("the Spirit will lead you into all truth"), you said that God is leading us to new revelations that are contrary to the plain teaching of Holy Scripture. Is there anything in Scripture that suggests that the Bible would one day be considered culturally bound and irrelevant? Didn't Jesus consistently and always uphold the authority of Holy Scripture, criticizing the Pharisees for missing the heart of its message, and coming to be its fulfillment? Bishop, your statement that we have "progressed" in technology and medicine, so why not progress in theology? reveals your contempt for the Bible as God's unique revelation.

In a weird coincidence, your interview was on the same day that the General Convention of the Episcopal Church passed a resolution (C001) essentially dismissing the Bible as an anti-Jewish document. It's clear that traditional Episcopalians are now a minority with little sway or influence left. If I was a Primate or an Episcopalian in another part of the world I would now be convinced that the Episcopal Church in the United States is perfectly happy to walk apart from the Anglican Communion.

As I write this, General Convention has not yet acted on the Windsor Report resolutions. This will happen in the coming week. I don't know if the Convention will satisfy the requirements of Windsor or not, or what actions if any the Primates will take as a result. I do know, however, that you could have stopped the madness and did not. By speaking up in defense of the conscience of the wider Communion you could have on many occasions declared "out of order" any discussion that would remove us from the stream of historic Anglicanism. I'm sorry that you did not choose to be a bishop for the whole church, and, instead, led the Gadarene rush into moral and theological libertinism.

I continue to pray for you and for whoever is elected to be our new Presiding Bishop. I pray for our bishops from West Texas with thanksgiving for their faithful witness to biblical Christianity and mainstream Episcopalianism. I am extremely thankful to lead a strong and growing congregation of Christians who honor the Bible as God's Word and who love to worship in the tradition of Thomas Cranmer. I fully trust that on the other side of General Convention and on the other side of the realignment will be an expression of Anglicanism in America that is faithful to the creeds and to the formularies that have always defined us. I am determined to stay and fight for the heart and soul of this church, even as a minority, and even if my Presiding Bishop denigrates the things that matter most to me.

I'm sure you are not in your hotel room in Columbus Ohio just waiting to hear from me. In fact, I doubt seriously that you will get this email or care about it. But I needed to write it anyway.

God, in your mercy, save our church.

Rector, Christ Church
San Antonio, TX

Friday, June 16, 2006

Want to be a Tertiary?

Something that has really been cooking in my mind for some time is the need for community-based ministries on university campuses. I have been so blessed by the outreach of such monastic communities as the Brotherhood of Hope in Boston and the local Dominican chapter at Yale, and have been thinking for several years about the possibility of we laity tapping in to the existing networks for ministry opportunities among young people. Turns out that there is a consoling option- the third order, or "tertiary," which provides opportunity for laymen and women to engage in the ministry and spirituality of one of the church's established Orders.

For instance- see the Dominican's third order site here.

What do you think?

Change in Liturgy (finally!)

Roman Catholic bishops in the United States voted yesterday to change the wording of many of the prayers and blessings that Catholics have recited at daily Mass for more than 35 years, yielding to Vatican pressure for an English translation that is closer to the original Latin.

The bishops, meeting in Los Angeles, voted 173 to 29 to accept many of the changes to the Mass, a pivotal point in a 10-year struggle that many English-speaking Catholics had dubbed "the liturgy wars."


The new translation is likely to please those traditionalists who longed for an English version more faithful to the Latin in use before the Second Vatican Council in the 1960's. But it may upset Catholics who have committed the current prayer book to heart and to memory and who take comfort in its more conversational cadences.

Via NY Times.

I, for one, take no comfort in the "conversational cadences" of the Nova Ordo, and long to see some good old mangled English at mass. Now, if only we can get the Vatican to make incense absolutely mandatory!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Is Contraception a SIN?

It depends on who you ask.

Since the Bible says very little on point, those in the "sola scriptura" vein have got some leeway, unless we have embraced the tradition of those who assume that "be fruitful and multiply" is the harried command of a God who urgently needs to build a task force rather than the gracious invitation of a God who allows His creatures to love. But those of us who would keep an ear to the Tradition in which Scripture emerged have got some serious issues to skirt regarding any freedom of conscience that we presume to employ in this area. The Fathers hated it; the rigorous traditions of our brethren in Rome, Constantinople, and Yeshoda House, etc., condemn the practice as being as "unchaste" as fornication. Their reasoning has to do with the nature of the marital act itself rather than condemning anyone's squeamishness about bringing children into the world- that is, the Tradition frowns on contraception because it impedes and distorts the total gift of self that is enacted in the marital act's proper, natural openness to the possibility of children. In sum, the Tradition says that a barrier is a barrier is a barrier, and marital consummation is just not supposed to be about the imposition of barriers.

I urge with the Tradition that Natural Family Planning is NOT the same thing as contraception (although some people I know like to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, and claim that since NFP is sometimes abused by being used contraceptively, all contraception is therefore permissible. Does not follow) NFP is completely different from contraception, because with NFP there are no barriers to distort the nature of the marital act. Rather, an NFP couple carefully abstains entirely in order to avoid pregnancy where serious considerations would make conception truly unwise. So this is the difference: contraception = disordered sex; NFP = orderly sex at orderly times.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Do you love Africa?

I do! - so I have spent my morning composing the following fundraising letter in anticipation of an upcoming return to E Africa this summer, God willing. Not that my blog readers have tons of extra change floating around, but hey, worth a shot-and if this is Philistine, and I don't know it yet, you have my sincerest advance apologies.

June 8, 2006

Dearest People,

In the summer of 2005, I had the privilege of traveling to Rwanda to meet with twenty-three young Rwandans for an introductory training program on behalf of The World Youth Alliance. The World Youth Alliance is a non-government global coalition of young people who are committed to promoting the dignity of the human person and building solidarity among youth from developed and developing nations. Founded in 1999, the Alliance currently embraces over one million young people from over 100 nationalities. My meetings with the marvelous university students and young professionals who had survived the Rwandan genocide extended the Alliance’s mission: to train young people to impact policy and culture at the regional and international levels, particularly with regard to problems of poverty, HIV/AIDS, and the dignity of women throughout East Africa.

This summer, the Alliance celebrates the formation of many new communities of young people committed to enacting progress in Africa, especially in Kenya/Nairobi, Rwanda, and Nigeria. I am writing to ask you to be a part of thousands of young Africans’ eagerness to do their part in building a world worthy of its people.

You can be involved by addressing the critical issue of what has been called the book famine in Africa. We in the West simply have no idea of the value of a book on the African continent, where a small paperback may cost US $ 20.00- though the daily wage may only be the equivalent of US $3.00. Still, the availability of the World Youth Alliance’s suggested readings is critical for the training of future political and cultural leaders in the methods and principles of human dignity. We would like to provide each Africa chapter with one “training set” of foundational books by this Fall; this modest goal will make these inspiring works on the dignity of the person available to young people who might otherwise have no access at all to these valuable tools. Our reading list contains the following titles: Man's Search For Meaning, by Victor Frankl, Holocaust survivor; A World Made New, by Mary Ann Glendon; Man And The State, by Jacques Maritain; Centesimus Annus, by John Paul II; The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell; Lost in the Cosmos, by Walker Percy; Brave New Family, by G.K. Chesterton; and Only The Lover Sings: Art and Contemplation, by Josef Pieper.

The cost to provide and disperse each set of seven new books among our Africa chapters, which will constitute working “libraries” for groups of motivated young people for years to come, is a mere US $80.00. I invite you to get involved in this very meaningful way by making a lasting gift to one of the most exciting initiatives in the developing world that I know of. Any tax-deductible gift towards this initiative will be greatly appreciated; a mere $10.00 will secure a title in a set that will be read and appreciated by dozens of young people.

If this exciting opportunity to empower the young people of Africa catches your attention today, you can contribute online-

(Please note “contribution for Africa region’s reading list” in the available comment section online)


Send your tax-deductible check to:

The World Youth Alliance
228 E 71st St
New York, NY 10021

(Please make checks payable to “The World Youth Alliance” and mark your check “For Africa- Reading List.”)

Thank you all so much for your attention...

Prayer for the soul of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

Eternal rest, grant unto him, O Lord, and let light shine upon him. May the souls of the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

We cannot know for sure how much good this will do him; but what good it will do us to recall that the limitless mercy of God is absolutely boundless.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hearing the Voice of God

... am just back from eight solid days of silence and prayer- amazingly, I made it, with lots and lots of grace.

This is St. Ignatius, and this is what he did:

"Whenever he found interior consonance within himself, as joy, peace, contentment, from the immediate interior movement, and felt himself being his true, congruent self, then he knew that he had heard God's Word to him at that instant- and he responded with a fullness of humble courage...


...If he discovered interior dissonance, agitation and disturbance at the bottom of his heart, and could not find his true congruent self in Christ, then he recognized the interior impulse as an evil spirit, and experienced God by going against the desolate impulse."

Exercises 3.16.19, Qtd. George Aschenbrenner, SJ: "Consciousness Examen"

These are The Spiritual Exercises, which we should all read- or do, at some point.

And this was my profound retreat revelation: our Lord Jesus was a vigorous, passionate, YOUNG man with an awesome sense of humor, who ran joyfully into the world, saving people from demons and death. Just think about that- I did, a lot.