Blog Template Theology of the Body: November 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

More on taking an oath on the Koran

Earlier today, MM referenced the discussion about Congressman Ellison taking an oath on the Qu'ran. For those of you so inclined, CNN ran a discussion with the author of the editorial MM referenced, Dennis Prager, and UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, of the excellent law blog, The Volokh Conspiracy.

But instead of discussing this from an American perspective (and, for the record, I completely agree with MM's take on this), I'm curious about this from a Muslim perspective. Can a good Muslim, in good faith, take an oath to serve a country that does not follow Muslim law? Given all of the fatwas pronounced against the U.S. by Muslim imams, is Ellison compromising his faith by serving the U.S. government? I'm not talking about his faith as we'd like for it to be, but his faith as is actually required by Muslim doctrine.

And here is another question: What kind of Qu'ran are they going to use? My understanding is that the only true Qu'ran is one written in Arabic, but no non-Muslim is allowed to touch one of these. Will they use an English translation of the Qu'ran? And if so, is that really taking a vow on the Qu'ran?

UPDATE: One of the comments asked about my assertion that non-Muslims aren't allowed to touch a Qu'ran. A brief description of this point can be found here. Non-Muslims are considered unclean (at the very least because we haven't done the appropriate ablutions prior to touching a Qu'ran) and the very act of something unclean touching a Qu'ran would deface it. I think the answer to my question is that someone with gloves could administer the oath of office.

Africa Night at WYA

As most of you know, I am spending the week in New York at one of my favorite places on the planet, the World Youth Alliance international headquarters. We have gathered our regional staff from all the corners of the globe under one roof for the week, and it is a LOT of fun to re-connect with friends from Nairobi, Manilla, and Mexico City. We have worked and traveled together, and now, in the comfort of our lovely house, our wonderful staff prepare dinner and a party for each other each night. Tonight was Asia night, complete with karyoke; but last night was my favorite... Africa night! We ate ugali with our hands and danced the night away. In honor of all the laughter and joy, and the beautiful sound of my African friends singing a song of thanks, I am re-posting below a favorite excerpt from my trip to Rwanda on behalf of WYA this past summer; if you want to read more on point, feel free to poke around in the July Archives...

Those Little Moments of Restoration

We teach our young people of the World Youth Alliance that the monumental changes that lead to authentic improvements in the developing world happen slowly, beginning with the the heart of the individual person and extending from his conversation and committments to the rest of the culture, such that little by little, political changes must follow. In the words of Vaclav Havel, author of "The Power of the Powerless," transformation begins in the small places, in the hidden gestures, in the tiniest assent to living according to the truth. It seems so often that this is the way that God works too. Certainly His work is steady, progressive, and "small" in the tiny nation of Rwanda. His gestures are wonderful. Yesterday, I was struck by two instances of God's restoration here.

First, our Nairobi staff were invited yesterday to broadcast an address to young people over the national radio. Bear in mind that the KLM radio station of Rwanda was the major networking tool of the Hutu Power/Interhamwe genocide, in which a million people were killed in three months- just twelve years ago. Yesterday, that same radio station became the voice of young people eager to serve one another by building a culture of life.

Secondly, some friends and I traipsed over to the national stadium last night for the Hillsong worship concert. During the 1994 genocide, thousands of people had clustered there under the frantic watch of ill-equipped UN peacekeepers, and there hundreds of men, women and children died from starvation, disease, or Interhamwe assaults. Last night, thousands of former enemies were gathered to worship God together. My friends and I realized the enormity of the fact that yesterday (a very tense national "holiday," since all Rwandans had to appear for jury duty under pain of arrest) was the final national trial of persons accused of genocide. So, many of the people who had to deal with justice in the morning were gathered to praise God for His awesome forgiveness in the evening. What a very clever God we have.

And finally, there is that weekly moment of celebration every Sunday in the enormous cathedral of St. Famille; although almost every Rwandan living in the capital city has tragic memories of failed asylum in that building, on its altars the greatest gift of love ever made still recurs again and again... and the faithful are there to taste and to see. It is the most beautiful thing- during the Eucharist, the Rwandese do not stand in hushed silence nor do they kneel in prayer- rather, the Rwandese shout for joy and applaud.

Who is going to hell?

Who is going to hell, of course, is a very difficult question and one that has never been resolved by Christians. This article , prompted by a discussion with Texas Governor Rick Perry, gives a brief overview of the different denominational positions. For me, the most inadvertently hilarious quote is from the Dean of the Perkins School of Theology at SMU, William Lawrence. When asked about the Methodist doctrine of hell, he replied, "We are far less interested in making the kinds of doctrinal claims that the governor seems to want to assert." This, of course, is a large part of the problem of the leaders of the Methodist Church -- an unwillingness to take a stand on an important doctrinal question, probably for a fear of offending someone. Notice that each of the other denominations takes a stand, some of them more nuanced than others, but at least they take a stand. To be fair, as the article points out there are multiple positions found in official Methodist doctrine (positions which I am sure that Lawrence is aware of), but this quote seems much more revealing than anything found in official Methodist teaching.

So who do Methodists think are going to hell? You won't believe it until you read the answer here. Always good to know that they are willing to take a stand on some important issues.

(and I always thought it was called "Taco Hell" because of what it did to my digestive tract)

Is the Bible our National Book, or what?

There is an interesting conversation going on at one of the most compelling blogs that I read daily, Biblical Womanhood. About half of the commentors are Highly Indignant over the fact that Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the Koran. "covered" the story this week, available here, in a rather clumsy way.

I am indignant too, but for another reason. Really, people, what is the big deal? If Mr. Ellison were seeking ordination in ECUSA and wished to recieve Holy Orders in the name of Allah, for instance (please tell me that has not happened yet), that would be one thing. But this is a duly elected U.S. citizen who wishes to make a vow of conscience according to his own faith rather than according to the dictates of a dilute, boring, inauthentic civil religion. Furthermore, this is a country wherein Congress Shall Make No Law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

In fact, I really respect and appreciate Mr. Ellison's honoring of the Christian Scriptures in this way. His decision to make his oath of office on the Koran is a reminder that these texts are the sacred canons of distinct faith traditions, that bind their adherents to certain codes of conduct that in turn effect their communities. The Bible is not the USA's tool nor legal document- nor is it our national book, for Pete's sake- and to treat is as such is to denigrate its sanctity as the Word of GOD. Mr. Ellison has refused to relativize the Christian Scriptures, just as he has refused to relativize the Koran.

I applaud him.

"What the Pope brilliantly did at Regensburg was to open up the conversation about violence in Islam"

- George Weigel on Pope Benedict's controversial allusions to Islamic violence in September 2006 at the University of Regensburg. (in case you have forgotten the hullabaloo, the text of the Pope's speech is available here; my thoughts were here.)

Find further of Weigel's current commentary at Newsweek- "A Question of Freedom"- on the Pope's visit to Turkey, here.

Benedict in the Lion's Den: Daily Installation I

Pope, Orthodox patriarch pray together, renew commitment to unity
29 November

Catholic News Service

In a meeting of East and West, Pope Benedict XVI prayed with Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and renewed the church's commitment to the search for Christian unity.

The pope expressed his great joy at the encounter and said he would treasure the Orthodox welcome forever.

"I thank the Lord for the grace of this encounter, so filled with authentic good will and ecclesial significance," he said.

"May this meeting strengthen our mutual affection and renew our common commitment to persevere on the journey leading to reconciliation and the peace of the churches," he said.

The evening prayer service in Istanbul Nov. 29 opened two days of richly symbolic events and brought an ecumenical focus to the pope's four-day visit to Turkey.

Patriarch Bartholomew, who is honored as the "first among equals" in the Orthodox world, greeted the pope at the Istanbul airport and met him again shortly afterward on the steps of the patriarchate's headquarters, where dozens of Orthodox prelates were waiting in the Church of St. George.

The pope and patriarch lit votive candles and, as applause rang out, walked up the center aisle, their path clouded with incense. A choir chanted antiphons commemorating Sts. Peter and Paul, the patron saints of Rome, and St. Andrew, the patron of the patriarchal see of Constantinople, the ancient name of Istanbul.

... More from PopeandPatriarch, here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"No, these churches have not lost their snap, crackle, pop."

-George Weigel on the state of seemingly empty churches in European cities; there is a difference, Weigel pointed out, between "empty" and "depressed."

George Weigel spoke at a fabulous fundraising dinner party for the World Youth Alliance in New York last night; I was there, and I am sitting on the official transcript of his remarks for the highest bidder. However, his RICH anecdotes on the Anglican Communion, the Pope, and Vatican dialogue with Islam are fair game and will be showing up here for a while...(and let it be known that I- barefoot, disheveled, confused, bathrobed- finally met the the august and formidable CNN-commenting and world-shaking Mr. Weigel, official biographer to Pope John Paul II, having just woken up from a much needed nap in the President's Suite of the WYA. AWKWARD. I figure my children will enjoy hearing about that one someday...)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Marilynne Robinson takes down Richard Dawkins

Marilynne Robinson is the author of the Pulitzer winning book, Gilead, which is the best novel I've read in the last ten years or so -- a profound exploration of religious faith, forgiveness, hope, and relationships. If you've not read it, it is out in paperback and you should make time over the holidays for it.

Robinson is a Christian and has written a review of Richard Dawkins book which is a must read. It is a lovely evisceration of Dawkins reading of science, of history, and of religion. This is no blunt instrument review, but rather the review of surgical precision where Robinson glides her scalpel across all of Dawkin's ideas until there is nothing left. By the end Dawkins looks more like a shallow fool than an Oxford Don. Robinson writes extraordinary prose and it is a beautiful thing to see it unleashed on the small ideas of Richard Dawkins.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Kate Schori and church planting

Today I had a long conversation with one of my best friends from college and the topic briefly turned to a guy that I roomed with for a year in the fraternity to which I belonged. My friend couldn't remember my old roommate's name. So after hanging up the phone I decided to use the omnipotent power (is that redundant?) of Google to find out what had happened to him. Turns out that since we graduated from college he has gone on to plant three new churches in Florida. He was always strongly evangelical in disposition, so this is no surprise, but if you think about it, planting three new churches in just over fifteen years is quite an accomplishment.

Thinking of my friend made me rethink Lyle Lovett's, I mean Kate Schori's embarrassing interview with the NY Times, which was discussed earlier this week. In thinking about it, what is worse than her condescending attitude toward those breeding Catholics is her seeming ignorance of her own church's initiatives. I'm not an Episcopalian, but I thought to myself that surely the Episcopal Church has some kind of evangelism initiative, so I poked around the national website until I found information about it. Turns out that there is a 20/20 initiative to double the size of the Episcopalian Church by 2020 through evangelism. So instead of attributing church growth to pure demographics, Schori had a great opportunity to say that there are alternative ways to think about church growth and that the Episcopalian Church has made a commitment to bring new people to the church.

On the other hand, as an outsider, I wonder if the 20/20 initiative is a lip-service initiative and her neglect in mentioning it is indicative of an overall lack of real commitment. I realize this is an evangelical blog, populated mainly by Anglicans, so I'm preaching to the converted, but given the paucity of resources devoted to the initiative on the website, I'd say the odds of doubling the size of the denomination by 2020 are about the same as me being being the Pope in 2020.

Or put it this way, according the website, "during the 16-year period between 1980 and 1996 the Episcopal Church planted 337 new churches nationwide." Between 1990 and 2006 my friend planted three churches. In other words, one guy was basically able to equal 1% of the output of a 2.2 million member denomination.

I don't mean this as a slam against my good Episcopal friends, and I'm sure many of you are alarmed about this, but I just thought it was a more interesting way to think about Schori's interview.

Blogging from Istanbul

Josh Trevino, of the website is blogging from the Pope's trip to Turkey. Read his latest missive here, where he gives a sad account of the Turkish repression of Orthodox Christianity.

Here's something

[T]he popularity of the current counterattack on religion cloaks a renewed and intense anxiety within secular society that it is not the story of religion but rather the story of the Enlightenment that may be more illusory than real.

So says Richard Schweder in a NY Times Op-Ed piece. You can read it here. That our current cultural crisis is the direct product of the Enlightenment is something I have been observing for years now.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Divine listening

I ran across these two sites tonight. The first is AncientFaith Radio, a 24 hour internet radio station run out of an Orthodox church in Chicago. You can listen to the Divine Liturgy, sermons, etc. And if you like chant, check out this cd of Russian Orthodox chants, which includes one written by Rachmaninov.

Rowan and Papa Ratzi

Fr. WB has an excellent post on the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent trip to Rome and the meetings and joint statements between himself and the Pope that ensued. Read it here. History in the making.

Vocatum Readers, Help Blogfan with a Tithing Question

This from the inbox:

"I have question about giving that I am seeking wisdom on. I currently have no church home that I feel strongly convicted about giving to, but I know that it is important to tithe. Do you have any thoughts on the subject, or could you recommend a good organization to give to? I've thought about giving to my high school, the teachers there are on less than a missionary's salary, and I believe in their cause. But I may be way out of line on all of this."

Here is what I said: the relevant teachings I have heard is that you have to give where you are fed. Thus, wherever you get your spiritual counsel, comfort, etc. is where your tithe needs to
go. For most people, this is their church, but it could certainly also be the people/ministries who have nurtured you. I just heard a sermon in which the preacher said that it was ok to divide the tithe- IE, 5% to your church and the other 5% to a ministry or charity of
your choice.

...Readers, any thoughts?

Running With Scissors

I went to see this rather dark movie last week. It is not the sort of film that I would usually choose for myself, and sure enough, it was about half an hour into the thing that I began to squirm and wish that the onslaught of depictions of harried, BROKEN, insane people and families would just go away. This movie shows it all. As Fr. WB and I discussed as we departed at the conclusion of the film, "Running with Scissors" depicts the reality of original sin: the insanity that we suffer, and the consequent, crazy pain that we can inflict upon one another.

I have been stewing over an enormous paper to be written for the end of the term on the difference between being declared righteous and being truly made righteous, and the ways in which these (seemingly) competing notions inform Protestant/Catholic debates. I think that Aquinas might build a bridge. It is a convoluted project, but my advisor is excited about it, so I persist. Aquinas is clear: we must be made ready for Heaven. We must be re-constituted, re-made, so that we can stand in the presence of our God and live to tell about it. In His sheer grace, God requires and permits us to participate in our own salvation here and now.

After walking out of this film, I was so struck by this. In God's mercy, and in Christ, we are re-named. But oh people. We have GOT to be re-made.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Culture of Life Projects IV: Garland is a New Uncle!

Shouts out and warmest congrats to our own contributor Garland, who became an uncle for the very first time the night before Thanksgiving! I am hoping that he will post more info and maybe include some photos...(hint hint)

Amazing Resources Series I: Index Thomisticum

Amazing. The entire Corpus of Thomas Aquinas is available for free, online, and neatly indexed for keyword searches.

-So it's in Latin. You always wanted to know how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. Search away! Find it here:

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Great Thanksgiving

It may be a civi holiday, but I have always loved it. How convient that our Advent preparation for the Incarnation of God is so neatly preceeded by a day of thanks. Christians offer their supreme thanks every Sunday; the Church's prayer of Great Thanksgiving centers on God's one supreme provision in the Sacrifice of Christ for us... which the Church also commemorates by its Thanksgiving Feast, the Eucharist.

The thanks-giving Pilgrims, radical reformers of the Church, knew this. Here is the text of the prayer of Great Thanksgiving which the Pilgrims may have used at such times, from The Second Prayer Book of Edward VI, 1552.

"Almighty and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee, for that thou doest vouchsafe to feed us, who have duly recieved these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious body and blood of thy son our saviour Jesus Christ, and dost assure us thereby of thy favore and goodnes toward us, and that we be very members incorporate in thy mystical body, which is the blessed company of all faithful people, and be also heirs, through hope, of thy everlasting kingdom, by the merits of the most precious death and Passion of thy dear son. We now most humbly beseech thee, O heavenly father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works, as thou hast prepared for us to walk in: through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the holy ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen."

Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

US Conference of Bishops on Homosexuality: Open, Pastoral, Welcoming

Read it here. Thank God for Rome.

(Incidentally, the official statement on Iraq is available here as well. Thank God for Rome.)

Why Christianity Should be Like Jazz

When I was in Boston a few weeks ago, I was able to return to my favorite Starbucks in the world: a small and cramped store across the street from the Berklee College of Music. This hospitable location on Mass Ave has an entire spare room full of tables devoted to anxious grad students and their studies. When I studied there as a harried law student, I took great comfort in being surrounded by dozens of music students who came for lattes between classes at their conservatory across the way. The music students would enter with enormous instruments- trombones, violins, guitars in cases- and always with spreads of sheet music to be marked and tweaked. I loved this place. Sometimes, I would share my faith with some of these talented people- they would be struck by the fact that my name is Mary, or that I went to church down the street, or that I was studying Jewish law- and I would pat myself on the back for being able to spark the faith of a future rock star, or better, of a future jazz composer. I adore jazz.

So, as I sleepily sipped my recent latte at the Berklee Starbucks, it seemed appropriate that my ever-inspiring Starbucks cup offered, printed on its side, a rare gem in the vein of that ongoing issue why we bother with orthodoxy. The inspiring statement was written by the fabulous jazz musician Dave Grusin; you can look it up under "The Way I See It" #182. It goes like this:

"In my career I've found that thinking outside the box works better if I know what's inside the box. In music (as in life) we need to understand our pertinent history... and moving on is so much easier once we know where we've been."

...There you have it. An invitation for Christians to live like jazz.

Monday, November 20, 2006

"You just took office as the first woman to head the Episcopal Church, and curiously enough, you come from a science background, having worked as an oceanographer for years."

"I worked on squids and octopuses."

Fr. WB assures me that this thing is serious. Read it all here. Giggle.

- and that's OCTOPI.

More Catholic Social Teaching: Peace

Promotion of Peace and Disarmament

Catholic teaching promotes peace as a positive, action-oriented concept. In the words of JPII, “Peace is not just the absence of war. It involves mutual respect and confidence between peoples and nations. It involves collaboration and binding agreements.” There is a close relationship in Catholic teaching between peace and justice. Peace is the fruit of justice and is dependent upon right order among human beings. Pope Paul VI: “If you want peace, work for justice.”

Thursday, November 16, 2006

This Weekend: The World Youth Alliance

I am running around the state of Texas doing some fundraising for my favorite organization, The World Youth Alliance. Not only does this amazing, enormous coaltion of young people have kings and queens on board, a fabulous new headquarters in Manhattan, and over one million members spanning five continents... but also, we are simply the best expression of Christian social teaching going.

We are committed to promoting the dignity of the person and building solidarity among youth from developed and developing nations. We train young people to work at the regional and international levels to impact policy and culture. Through this lived experience of the dignity of the person young people are able to affirm life at all levels of society.

Check us out and see what all the excitement is about!

Outrage as Church backs calls for severely disabled babies to be killed at birth: What's up with THIS?

"The church stressed that it was not saying some lives were not worth living, but said there were 'strong proportionate reasons' for 'overriding the presupposition that life should be maintained.'

Read the whole thing here.

Every so often (ahem) the joys of being an Anglo Catholic are somewhat stymied for me by being Caught Completely Off Guard by something appalling that my church has assented to. This kind of thing of course leaves me reeling into the pastoral arms of the amazingly Christian priests, colleagues, and friends who are part of my life, for comfortable explanation. I, for one, have got nothing to say to this; I am dumbstruck. - Anyone? Help? What's up with this?

HT: Doug's Blog

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

More Catholic Social Teaching: The Environment

Stewardship of God’s Creation

God gave us the Earth and its goods as a gift and they are intended by God to benefit everyone without exception. The way we treat the environment we live in is a measure of our stewardship and reflects our respect for the Creator. We are responsible for taking care of the goods that the Earth provides as stewards and trustees, instead of as mere consumers and users.

A global economy and superpopulation result in high demand for the Earth’s goods. There is the danger to treat the environment as a “shelf” that we take any resources we need at any time and at any cost. That is why as Christians we need to voice out the delicate balance between meeting the basic needs of society and safeguarding the environment at the same time. The laity is responsible to make this truth heard in the political arena as the Church expresses that the State “should also actively endeavor within its own territory to prevent destruction of the atmosphere and biosphere, by carefully monitoring, among other things, the impact of new technological or scientific advances…[and] ensuring that its citizens are not exposed to dangerous pollutants and toxic wastes.”

More from Evangelical Catholicism, here.

Dear Luther: Papa Ratzi loves you!

This was in today from that harbinger of everything, Whispers in the Loggia:

"Last night, a sizable crowd came together in the German town of Erfurt for an ecumenical celebration of the "Martini" -- Martin Luther, who was born on yesterday's date in 1483.

Those who know Ratzingerian thinking couldn't help but wonder if, were he not Pope, the Boss would've been out there as one of the lantern-swinging faithful. Benedict XVI has long maintained a great affinity for Luther; here's a relevant snip from the John Allen archives:

[F]ew figures have exercised greater influence on him than Luther. In a 1966 commentary on Vatican II’s “The Church in the Modern World,” Ratzinger said that the document leaned too heavily on Teilhard de Chardin and not enough on Luther - a remarkable comment in an era with no offical Lutheran-Catholic contact, when many Catholics still branded Luther a heretic.

Ratzinger has been involved in dialogue with Lutherans from way back,” said Br. Jeffrey Gros, ecumenical affairs specialist for the U.S. bishops. “In the 1980s he was even interested in declaring the Augsburg Confession [the first Lutheran declaration of faith] a Catholic document. To think that he wanted to torpedo this [agreement] is a total misread.”

On July 14, 1998, Ratzinger fired off a letter to the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine calling such reports a “smooth lie.” Protesting that he had sought closer relations with Lutherans since his days as a seminarian, he said that to scuttle the dialogue would be to “deny myself.”

On Nov. 3, 1998, a special ad hoc working group met at the home of Ratzinger’s brother Georg in Regensburg, Bavaria, to get the [Lutheran-Catholic joint statement on justification] back on track. Lutheran Bishop Johannes Hanselmann convened the group, which consisted of him, Ratzinger, Catholic theologian Heinz Schuette and Lutheran theologian Joachim Track.

By all accounts, Ratzinger played the key role. “He was very positive, very helpful,” Track said when he spoke to NCR by telephone. Track said Ratzinger made three concessions that salvaged the agreement.

First, he agreed that the goal of the ecumenical process is unity in diversity, not structural reintegration. “This was important to many Lutherans in Germany, who worried that the final aim of all this was coming back to Rome,” Track said.

Second, Ratzinger fully acknowledged the authority of the Lutheran World Federation to reach agreement with the Vatican.

Finally, Ratzinger agreed that while Christians are obliged to do good works, justification and final judgment remain God’s gracious acts.
Anderson said Lutherans are grateful for Ratzinger’s help. The two churches still have much ground to cover, however, before reaching full communion.

“Since the Reformation, we’ve had separate histories. The declaration of papal infallibility on the Catholic side, and the ordination of women on ours, are two obvious examples,” Anderson said.

Still, observers say the event in Augsburg will mark a true breakthrough. “This is the first time the Catholic church has ever entered into a joint declaration with any of the churches of the West,” Gros said. “We’ve never tackled a theological issue like this that was so church-dividing. In that sense, we’re looking at a major achievement.”

I assume that the last paragraph refers to the Lutheran and Catholic Joint Statement on Justification. Anyway, I love this stuff.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The weird and unseen.

Anglican priest and hymnist John Mason Neale of the mid nineteenth century has some pretty far-out things to say about the earth's haunting by spirits: according to Fr. Neale, any location which has not been blessed and consecrated by the Church is full of troublesome and dangerous imps. This theory is especially true of all wild and desolate locations, and certainly of the sea; God said "cursed be the earth" after the Fall in Genesis, such that the earth must be reclaimed before it can be safe. CF the Desert Fathers having particarly violent situations in the desert; cf humanity's inate fear of dark forests; cf the fact that my father HATES the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro; cf that compelling urge to JUMP when one stands on a high precipice and looks down.... weird. You can find Fr. Neale's ideas here.

I may stick with his hymns, personally, but these ideas are pretty interesting...

No Power in Prayer

Medical researchers at Harvard have concluded the whole thing. Praise be! We are delivered from our delusions at last.

You can hear the details from the NPR transcript here. Wow. Who'da ever thunk that God- GOD, of all things- might not cooperate with the Scientific Method?

At the University of Dallas

I had to be a book hound yesterday- running all over town to collect obscure texts with foreign titles for an upcoming project. Traversing so many different campuses and libraries in a single day brings to mind the fond memories I have of my undergraduate college; our fussy, funny little cluster of buildings among gracious old trees in south central Michigan, a campus shabby in some places, garishly new in others, but always so dear and so important. My school was a citadel of modern conservatism, family values (the real kind) and young people who took their work seriously. We had a tiny little chapel next to the cafeteria. It was close and dim and red, and it reflected the timbre of our school's spiritual life: one small cross for every fifty American eagles, and probably one dollar spent on spiritual life for every ten thousand spent on the sports facilities. Nonetheless, our little chapel was always hopping; frat boys led guitar worship there in the early mornings, Fr. B celebrated Anglican Mass before noon, the Evangelicals crowded in to pray before lunch, the Catholic students met to say the Rosary there, the Inter Varsity leadership plotted there in the evenings, and every now and then, you found someone praying in there alone, on the solitary kneeler, late at night.

Funny thing is, our faculty and administration were always sending their own children to the Roman Catholic University of Dallas. I suppose the citadel of modern American conservatism recognizes the profound value that the Church offers to the preservation of American family life. (irony bell!) With this in mind, I sorted through the familiar shabiness of the University of Dallas library quickly, and then made my way to their Chapel of the Incarnation, tucked among the trees. There was a very cool, deep, bubbling baptismal font at the front (you wanted to jump in)... stark, 1970's ugliness in the main sanctuary... but best of all, a little chapel on the side. There were a few candles burning. There were ten students on their knees, in silence- ten random students who stopped in to adore the Lord at 5:30 PM on a Monday evening.

...In the shabby little chapels on obscure little campuses, where God waits to cover His kids in the blanket of His presence, all is somehow right with the world. I drove off and refused to turn NPR on again; that beautiful, deep, silence stayed with me.

What do you remember of your favorite chapel?

More Catholic Social Teaching: Consumerism, Socialism, Free Markets


The Church opposes accumulation of wealth when others lack the basic necessities of life: “...there is a better understanding today that the mere accumulation of goods and services, even for the benefit of the majority, is not enough for the realization of human happiness.” (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 28)

John Paul II expressed strong opposition of superdevelopment, which results from a mere production of goods and leads to waste while many others around the world can not afford essential human provisions. This lack of universal solidarity is called “consumerism” and very much applies to the United States. The late Pope in his own words condemns such principle:

“...with the miseries of underdevelopment, themselves unacceptable, we find ourselves up against a form of superdevelopment, equally inadmissible. Because like the former it is contrary to what is good and to true happiness. This super-development, which consists in an excessive availability of every kind of material goods for the benefit of certain social groups, easily makes people slaves of "possession" and of immediate gratification, with no other horizon than the multiplication or continual replacement of the things already owned with others still better. This is the so-called civilization of "consumption" or " consumerism ," which involves so much "throwing-away" and "waste." An object already owned but now superseded by something better is discarded, with no thought of its possible lasting value in itself, nor of some other human being who is poorer.” (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 28)


The Church is against a socialist model of economy, because it does not allow the workers to dispose of their income as they desire for their benefit and their families’:

“Socialists, therefore, by endeavoring to transfer the possessions of individuals to the community at large, strike at the interests of every wage-earner, since they would deprive him of the liberty of disposing of his wages, and thereby of all hope and possibility of increasing his resources and of bettering his condition in life.” (Rerum Novarum, 5)
Free Market

It may surprise many, but the Church rejects the notion that a free market automatically produces justice. The Church acknowledges that competition and free markets are useful elements of economic systems, but these markets must be kept within limits established by law, otherwise it leads to individualism:

“The easy gains that a market unrestricted by any law opens to everybody attracts large numbers to buying and selling goods, and they, their one aim being to make quick profits with the least expenditure of work, raise or lower prices by their uncontrolled business dealings so rapidly according to their own caprice and greed that they nullify the wisest forecasts of producers.” (Quadragesimo Anno, 132)

“Just as the unity of human society cannot be founded on an opposition of classes, so also the right ordering of economic life cannot be left to a free competition of forces. For from this source, as from a poisoned spring, have originated and spread all the errors of individualist economic teaching.” (Quadragesimo Anno, 88)

Free Markets

It may surprise many, but the Church rejects the notion that a free market automatically produces justice. The Church acknowledges that competition and free markets are useful elements of economic systems, but these markets must be kept within limits established by law, otherwise it leads to individualism:

“The easy gains that a market unrestricted by any law opens to everybody attracts large numbers to buying and selling goods, and they, their one aim being to make quick profits with the least expenditure of work, raise or lower prices by their uncontrolled business dealings so rapidly according to their own caprice and greed that they nullify the wisest forecasts of producers.” (Quadragesimo Anno, 132)

“Just as the unity of human society cannot be founded on an opposition of classes, so also the right ordering of economic life cannot be left to a free competition of forces. For from this source, as from a poisoned spring, have originated and spread all the errors of individualist economic teaching.” (Quadragesimo Anno, 88)

More from Evangelical Catholicism, here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

God Spoke and Speaks

"This concept of the contemporary voice of God is emphasized in Hebrews 3 and 4. The author quotes Psalm 95: 'Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.' But he introduces the quotation with the words 'as the Holy Spirit says.' He thus implies that the Holy Spirit is 'today' making the same appeal to his people to listen to him as he made centuries previously when the psalm was written. Indeed, it is possible to detect here four successive stages in which God spoke and speaks. The first was the time of testing in the wilderness when God spoke but Israel hardened her heart. Next came the exhortation of Psalm 95 to the people of that day not to repeat Israel's earlier folly. Thirdly, there was the application of the same truth to the Hebrew Christians of the first century A.D., while, fourthly, the appeal comes to us as we read the Letter to the Hebrews today. It is in this way that God's Word is contemporary: it moves with the times and continues to address each fresh generation."

-John Stott
Between Two Worlds

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sola Scriptura

"What is crucial to note about the (early church) is that the Scriptures found a home alongside and within a whole series of canonical materials and practices. Even as a list of books, held in the highest esteem within the life of the Church, Scripture was never intended to function on its own in the spiritual nourishment of the people of God. In fact, experience had shown that it was an inadequate bulwark against the infiltration of foreign material into the bloodstream of the Church. It needed to be read and pondered in the context of worship, sacramental practice, credal summary, pedagogical expertise, devout commentary, and iconographic display. This setting in turn required that it be received as a gift of the Holy Spirit, who acted in both its origin and in its current use to bring people to salvation in Christ."

- Billy Abraham, Canon and Criterion in Christian Theology.

Saint Martin, Bishop of Tours, 397

The story goes that before he became one of the early church's greatest monastics and ecclesial leaders, St. Martin walked the streets of his town as a humble seeker and searcher after God. His status within the church was that of a lowly catachumen- a student. One day, the story goes, he turned a corner and nearly stumbled over a dirty beggar man who wheezingly asked Martin for help. Martin took his cloak and ripped it in two; one half of the warm material was given to cover the poor beggar.

Several days later, the lowly catachumen had the vision which marked the beginning of his path to recognized sainthood: the Lord Himself appeared to lowly Martin. Christ in glory was wearing half of a torn cloak. "Martin," Christ spoke warmly, "a catachument has given his cloak to me."

Blogfans, Take a Stab at S's Question:

... It is a good one:

Out of curiosity, why is "consistency with orthodox doctrine" a criteria for genuine mystical experience? After all, what if God wants to update the message, or bring our human interpretations back to the intended form?

Catholic Nerds, Bloggers on NPR

I was making a run to the 7-11 this morning for a Sunday paper when they aired a piece on the potential revival of the Tridentine Rite (that is, the Latin rite, for those of you who may not be in the know) by Pope Benedict. The reporter interviewed a few parishoners at St. Agnes in NYC, one of the few parishes in the US that uses the Tridentine form. Lo, and behold, among those interviewed were Matthew Alderman and Dawn Eden, famed Catholic bloggers. Eventually, you should be able to listen to the segment here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Chains: Sudan Again

Remember those in chains, as though you were bound with them.

I was very encouraged recently to hear of local church's "South Sudan Strategy:" Northwest Bible Church Launches a New Strategy in South Sudan, and it looks something like this...

First, the clear explanation of what is going on in Darfur: Sudan has been plagued by 40 years of Civil War. Muslims in the north have waged war on non-Muslims in the south in an attempt to control its many natural resources. Muslims also see the south, which borders six countries, as a launching point or "bridge for spreading Islam and Arabic cultures" to the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

There is now a fragile peace. In a little over four years, South Sudan can vote to secede from Sudan and become its own, independent country.

Then, an understanding of the urgency: Muslims do not want South Sudan to secede and have adjusted their strategy. Instead of war they are attempting peace. Muslims are raising $29,000,000 to establish Islam in South Sudan by building mosques and schools, drilling water wells, caring for orphans and training teachers and religious people. They want to win the hearts of South Sudan by caring for people.

And finally, action: As Northwest Bible Church follows God's leading, we have been called to a new strategy in South Sudan. Our goal is to partner with multiple ministry partners to train the current and future leaders of Sudan to be Christ-like leaders who impact their developing country for Christ. Our first step in South Sudan is partnering with Harvester Reaching the Nations.

Harvesters is an orphanage, school and clinic for those who have been battered by 40 years of civil war. They house over 125 orphans and 440 students. It is run by Mama Lilly and Dennis Klepp, two ordinary folks from Wisconsin. They have lived in Yei, Sudan, for five years. They heard a call from God, “Sell everything you have and give it to the poor.” They did. Now, they and their co-workers are discipling the students and orphans as well as reaching out to the community surrounding their property.

... I am seriously thinking about signing on with a team that is going to Sudan to help with this initiative in early March. You too can learn more at

A Week of Catholic Social Teaching V

6 (a). Economic Justice: Workers' Rights and Private Property

The economy must serve people and not the other way around. Every person has a right to productive work, decent and fair wages, and to safe working conditions:

"Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless... wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice." (Rerum Novarum, 45).
Workers also have a right to join and organize unions:

"They were the means of affording not only many advantages to the workmen, but in no small degree of promoting the advancement of art, as numerous monuments remain to bear witness. Such unions should be suited to the requirements of this our age - an age of wider education, of different habits, and of far more numerous requirements in daily life." (Rerum Novarum, 49)
At the same time, in accordance with the law of nature, workers have a right to private property with appropriate limits:

“The fact that God has given the earth for the use and enjoyment of the whole human race can in no way be a bar to the owning of private property. For God has granted the earth to mankind in general, not in the sense that all without distinction can deal with it as they like, but rather that no part of it was assigned to any one in particular, and that the limits of private possession have been left to be fixed by man's own industry, and by the laws of individual races.” (Rerum Novarum, 8).

More from Evangelical Catholicism, here.

Amazing Resources

Harmony Media, it turns out, offers vast amounts of foundational theology on easily searchable CD-Rom... sometimes with background music. You can get digital versions of the entire Summa Theologiba, Butler's Lives of the Saints, and entire compellations of the early Church Fathers. Check it out here!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Week of Catholic Social Teaching IV

5. The Proper Role of Government and the Principle of Subsidiarity

The State exists to ensure public order, protect human rights, promote human dignity, and build the common good. To the surprise of many, the Church does not oppose government involvement; in fact, it recognizes the significance of the State’s role in guaranteeing the good of the community. Leo XIII expresses the importance of those who work in service to the public:

“Some there must be who devote themselves to the work of the commonwealth, who make the laws or administer justice, or whose advice and authority govern the nation in times of peace, and defend it in war. Such men clearly occupy the foremost place in the State, and should be held in highest estimation, for their work concerns most nearly and effectively the general interests of the community” (Rerum Novarum, 34).

The Church understands her mission to serve the faithful, and especially to serve the most vulnerable members of society. She does this through various organizations throughout the world. However, the Church acknowledges her limitations in helping to relieve poverty and many other social concerns. In order for poverty to be eradicated and justice to be administered properly, there have to be laws and policies in place. The Church delegates this authority to the State, but does not minimize her role in bringing forth Christ’s truth in social matters:

“The Church uses her efforts not only to enlighten the mind, but to direct by her precepts the life and conduct of each and all; the Church improves and betters the condition of the working man by means of numerous organizations; does her best to enlist the services of all classes in discussing and endeavoring to further in the most practical way, the interests of the working classes; and considers that for this purpose recourse should be had, in due measure and degree, to the intervention of the law and of State authority.” (Rerum Novarum, 16)

The principle of subsidiarity holds that the functions of the government should be performed at the lowest level possible, as long as they can be performed adequately. If the needs in question cannot be met adequately at the lower level, then it is imperative that higher levels of government intervene.

... more from Evangelical Catholicism, here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

So the Democrats are taking the House

... from an early glance at this morning. An excellent opportunity for Concerned Christian Citizens to exercise putting our priorities in order.

We "are," essentially speaking, neither Conservatives nor Liberals nor Republicans nor Democrats, nor anything in between. We are Christians. Our ultimate concern is for the Kingdom of God- not the US government- and our ultimate loyalty is to Christ- not our party's agenda, whatever that may be. It remains to us to vote, to pray, to assess calmly whether our representatives are adhering to Catholic social teaching, to advocate accordingly, and then to move calmly on our pilgrim way. We citizens of the Christ's everlasting Church reside as aliens in this national culture in order simply to bear witness to the Savior and to bless and to serve His creatures. Period. Really, His Kingdom is not of this world. Really.


... My crew and I attended a little soiree for the Museum of Biblical Arts in Manhattan last night; I am so excited about this wonderful little place! Their presentation and their collection are exquisite, and how cool to have such an excellent witness to the offerings of Christ and His Church in the heart of modern civilization. Most enchanting was their presentation on the St. John's Bible: MOBIA and its partners have commissioned the first hand-printed, hand-illuminated Bible produced in over 500 years, and it is nearing completion. I was able to see and touch a brilliantly perfect facsimile of one of the illuminated pages from the Gospel of John. The brilliant colors and attention to detail were enchanting.

In our current days of upheavals and emergencies, it is such a gift to be able to enjoy such lasting beauty, in celebration of something so lasting and beautiful. Be sure to check MOBIA out and learn more!

A Week of Catholic Social Teaching III

3. Option for the Poor

This theme does not intend to accentuate the division of classes to an even greater degree, but instead to emphasize our responsibility towards the most vulnerable members of society. As citizens we are called to educate ourselves before we vote so we can elect those candidates who will protect those who are more exposed in our society to ever-changing public policies. Same applies to the State: “It lies in the power of a ruler to benefit every class in the State, and amongst the rest to promote to the utmost the interests of the poor.” (Rerum Novarum, 32)

4. Rights and Responsibilities

Every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency such as food, shelter, clothing, employment, health care, and education. As Catholics, we have the duty to ensure that these basic rights are true for all members of society. John Paul II challenges us to go beyond our feelings of compassion and take an active part in defending human rights:

“This then is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual.” (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 38).

At the same time, we have responsibilities towards our families, one another, and to the larger society. These responsibilities extend beyond the boundaries of our homes, neighborhoods, countries, and even cultures and religions, since “we are all really responsible for all” (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 38).

We exercise our responsibilities towards our fellow citizens and those members of society whose voice cannot be heard by voting for candidates who will promote human dignity and protect human rights.

More from Evangelical Catholicisim, here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Evangelical Value of Ciggys

I have been contemplating keeping a pack of cigarettes with me in my bag at all times.

Why? I do not smoke... unless I am drinking a G&T with friends in New Haven, at the Gypsy, on a warm Friday evening; the habitual practice seems contrary to the proper love of self. BUT, a lot of people smoke, a lot, and these are often people whom I would like to Engage in a Stimulating Conversation because more often than not, they need to know Jesus- and I need to know more of Jesus through them. So I think I may start keeping cigarettes on hand. To wit: a few years ago, walking home from a late dinner in Morocco, Present Company and I found ourselves on A Bad Street. Within minutes, we were accosted by an angry gentlemen who was insensed that we were there. He waved his fists at us. He cursed us in some unholy way. He got closer. Present Company simply produced a ciggy, and Jihad was avoided; we parted friends. If we had not been Scared Out of our Wits, an evangelical moment might have followed.

Then again, this weeken Present Company and I were stepping out for a late night showing of "Borat." Down the hall rushes Distraught Neighbor; she has just been dumped. She needs a cigarette. Present Company produces a handful with characteristic grace; I give her a big hug and ask her if there is anything we can do, ask her if it was a good thing, and send her on her way somewhat consoled. Maybe I will drop her a note this week and we will go out for coffee. Maybe she will come with me to church on Sunday. But the thing she will rememember is... we had cigarettes. I think I will be keeping some on hand.

A Week of Catholic Social Teaching II

1. Dignity of the Human Person

The dignity of the human person is the foundation and starting point for a moral vision of society, since we know from Scripture that we are made in God’s image (Gn 1:27). Thus, human life is sacred and our primary responsibility as Catholics is to safeguard it and respect it. However, care for life should extend beyond the womb, which means that fundamental human rights such as food, shelter, clothing, employment, health care and education should also be ensured for everyone.

2. Common Good and Community

The human person is sacred, but it is at the same time social. We are not called to live isolated from our neighbors and our dignity can only be achieved in a context of relationships within society. Moreover, these relationships will safeguard the dignity of the human person and encourage community growth as long as society is organized properly in regards to economics, politics, laws, and policies. All of these elements should work together to bring above all the good of the whole society, in other words, to ensure the common good. (Rerum Novarum, 34)

More from Evangelical Catholicism, here.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Ted Hagaard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Resigns

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Less than 24 hours after he was fired from the pulpit of the evangelical megachurch he founded, the Rev. Ted Haggard confessed to his followers today that he was guilty of sexual immorality.

"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life," he said.

Haggard resigned last week as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, where he held sway in Washington and condemned homosexuality, after a man claimed to have had drug-fueled homosexual trysts with him. Haggard also placed himself on administrative leave from the New Life Church, which has 14,000 members, but its independent Overseer Board fired him on Saturday.

Pray for Ted Haggard and his family. More from the L.A. Times here.

Election Week: A Week of Catholic Social Teaching

My new favorite blog,Evangelical Catholicism, is running a series on Catholic Social Teaching. I am going to be copying their entries here for the next week because Katerina's work is just so good and the topic is so timely. Please be sure to check out the EC blog itself, since it is HOT.

"In 1891, Pope Leo XIII wrote Rerum Novarum, considered the Magna Carta of contemporary Catholic political theology, since it was the pioneer Church document regarding social issues. Leo XIII laid the foundations of social doctrine of the Church through his controversial encyclical at a time in which the Industrial Revolution was transforming rural economy and socialist ideals were brewing across the world.

One of the richest treasures of the Catholic Church lies in its social doctrine. Due to the challenges that our society faces today, such as widespread famine, wars, division of classes, irresponsible States, violation of human life, among many other moral issues, it is important to educate all Catholics on what the Church truly teaches about social responsibility. At the same time, as we approach election day, it is imperative for Catholics to understand where the Church stands in the political, economic, and social sphere in order to exercise our right to vote accordingly.

Catholic social doctrine is based primarily on two key concepts proceeding from Scripture:

A) The Earth and human beings as God’s creation. This doctrine focuses on the vertical relationship between God and His creation (Genesis 1,2).

B) The Common Good. This teaching is horizontal in nature, since it is concerned with how human beings should relate to one another in a social context based on Jesus’ commandment to love one another (Jn 13:34-35).

Based on these two fundamental principles, Catholic social teaching branches out in ten basic themes:

1. Dignity of the Human Person
2. Common Good and Community
3. Option for the Poor
4. Rights and Responsibilities
5. Role of Government and Subsidiarity
6. Economic Justice
7. Stewardship of God's Creation
8. Promotion of Peace and Disarmament
9. Participation
10. Global Solidarity and Development"

...To be Continued.

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Matthew 5

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."

... in that vein, I have really been enjoying the Evangelicals & Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium document of the early 1990's. Let me just say that I really admire the signatories to this exciting piece of unity; it had to be hard for the individuals on both sides. I particularly admire the Evangelical signatories, since they had more to lose in the face of disapproval, given the absence of institutional covering/funding for their work. Here they are:

Notable Evangelical signatories:

Mr. Charles Colson (Prison Fellowship)
Dr. William Abraham (Perkins School of Theology) (hooray for Professor Abraham!)
Dr. Bill Bright (Campus Crusade for Christ)
Dr. Os Guinness (Trinity Forum)
Dr. James I. Packer (Regent College, British Columbia)
The Rev. Pat Robertson (The Seven Hundred Club, Regent University)
Dr. Mark Noll (Wheaton College)

Notable Catholic signatories:

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus (Institute on Religion and Public Life, First Things)
Mr. George Weigel (Ethics and Public Policy Center)
Professor Mary Ann Glendon (Harvard Law School)
Professor Peter Kreeft (Boston College)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

"Christianity ROCKS"

- overheard from a student leaving my conference presentation. Praise be; definately worth the flight to Boston.

Of Monks and Mercenaries

Every now and then it pops up: the idea that the Reformation "liberated" Christian theology from the erroneous elitism of the cloistered. To hear some speak of it, it would seem that Roman clericalism had left we working, mundane laity out in the cold, while monastics and clergy enjoyed True Spirituality; hence, perhaps, God was "hindered" from speaking to the ploughboy until the Prots arrived to mediate His voice to the middle class.

- Not so! Catholic Christianity has offered a robust theology of the sanctity of all of life, in work, family, and play, from the beginning. Some good resources on point for correcting false dichotomies:

The first is the Rule of St. Benedict, which, as you know, is the paradigm and original model of monastic life, composed around A.D 530. It is interesting to note that at least five highly significant chapters of the Rule are devoted to a Christian theology of work, as an integrated and essential part of the Christian life.

Secondly, two modern voices in the Catholic church have articulated beautifully and Scripturally the Christian theology of work, vocation, and the sanctity of all of life; if you will permit me, I refer especially to John Paul II's Letter to Workers (Laborem Exercens,1981). See especially the "Elements for a Spirituality of Work," including "Work as a Sharing in the Activity of the Creator," and "Human Work in the Light of the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ," etc.

Finally, of course, we find a modern incarnation of the Christian's understanding of the integration of all of life- mundane work and holiness- in the thought and method of Josemaria Escriva, founder of the thriving and growing lay order of Opus Dei (literally, of course, "the
work of God"). As you probably know, the Opus Dei order exists to encourage all people to understand and practice the glorification of God in the activities of daily life. Their mission statement explains that "work, family life, and other ordinary activities are occasions for spiritual union with Jesus Christ." Many of my dear friends are young members of Opus Dei, and I am always so humbled and encouraged by the vibrancy of their intentional witness to Christ through the small acts of their daily lives.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Hot off the Press: An Essential Bibliography on Grace and Christian Reconciliation

... straight to you dear readers, from Copley Square in the heart of Boston. The following will be distributed to my audience tomorrow morning at the University of Massachusettes.

R. Scott Appleby. “Toward a Theology and Praxis of Reconciliation.” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 39.

Roman Catholicism: Evangelical Protestants Analyze What Divides and Unites Us. Ed., John Armstrong. Chicago: Moody Press, 1994.

Charta Oecumenica: Guidelines for the Growing Cooperationamong the Churches in Europe: Geneva, Switzerland: WCC Publications, 2003. Available,

Evangelicals & Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium. First Things 43 (May 1994): 15-22. Available,

John Paul II. Redemptoris missio: Encyclical Letter of Pope John Paul II on the Permanent Validity of the Church’s Missionary Mandate. London: Catholic Truth Society, 2003.

John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint: On Commitment to Ecumenism. London: Catholic Truth Society, 1995. Available,

The Ecumenical Movement: An Anthology of Key Texts and Voices, ed. Michael Kinnamon and Brian E. Cope. Eerdmans. 1997.

The Gift of the Church: A Textbook on Ecclesiology in Honor of Patrick Granfield. Michael Glazier Books, 2000.

Ward, Hiley. Documents of Dialogue. Englewood: Prentice- Hall, Inc. 1966.

The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church. Eerdmans, 2000. Available,

Miroslav Volf. A Voice of One’s Own: Public Faith in a Pluralistic World. Available, Yale Center for Faith and Culture, available (2005).

Volf, Miroslav. Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Love from Beantown

... Three of my favorite Boston churches:

Trinity Copley Square, Park Street Congregational, and of course the Church of the Advent in Beacon Hill. Hooray!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Latest Poll

Here is a quick snapshot of contemporary American religious thought:

42% are not "absolutely certain" God exists, which is up 8% from last year.

76% of Protestants, 64% of Catholics, 30% of Jews are "absolutely certain" God exists.

93% of Christians who describe themselves as "Born Again" are "absolutely certain."

As to God's gender: 36% say male, 10% say both male and female, 1% say female, 37% say neither male nor female.

Asked whether God has a human form, 41 percent said they think of God as "a spirit or power than can take on human form but is not inherently human."

As to whether God controls events on Earth, 29 percent believe that to be the case while 44 percent said God "observes but does not control what happens on Earth".

Here is the link to the article: