Blog Template Theology of the Body: January 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"He that hears you, hears me"

... Jesus said to His disciples. - Luke 10:16

Why we bother with the Church.1

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dallas Sudanese

It was St. Augustine who said that the outreaching service that is the natural outgrowth of the love of Christ should best be lived out closest to one's immediate environ- charity abroad is misanthropy at home, or something like that. In other words, we should tend to the matters that are nearest at hand.

As you all know, Sudan has been on my heart for a long time; and just last week, our Lux Intellectus pointed out that we have a lot of Sudanese refugees here in my hometown of Dallas, Texas, with a lot of the young men working at my own local grocery store. Imagine my delight when I began discovering local outreaches to this community of displaced Sudanese right outside my back door!

So from now on, Monday nights will find me in a small apartment rented by a local Chinese church for the purpose of tutoring and just hanging out with some of the Sudanese children. I went on Monday evening with a friend; sure enough, we had hardly set foot in the door when we were accosted with a little bit of my beloved Africa- warm, boisterous greetings, hugs, clasping hands, welcome. I spent the rest of the hour camped out with a precious little girl in my lap, going over her ABC's.

We need school supplies, volunteers, ideas for good tutoring strategies. Interested? Send an email to us at newfaithful(at)!

From the Inbox: Worship Music

- a composer friend kindly sent these lyrics along. I love them, and I want to hear the final version set to DRUMS as soon as possible. They are loosely indebted to Charles Wesley. What do we think?! Can you envision this on an overhead projector...?

Come, thou long expected Jesus
Come to set your brothers free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our hope in thee.

Come, our strength and consolation
Joy of all the world thou art
Dear Desire of every nation,
Lead us to your burning heart.

Jesus, you are all-sufficient
Take us to your Father's throne
Till we cast our crowns before you
Calling 'holy, Lord alone.'

Come, thou Faithful to deliver
Come, thou able to defend
Come, thou Prince of Heaven's glory
Come, thou prisoners' dearest friend.

Come Redeemer, Come Creator
Come the Servant, Christ our Lord
Come, thou faithful to remember
Come, thou Heaven's only Word.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Finding God at Harvard: Kelly Monroe

I attended a lecture this weekend in San Antonio given by one of the bravest innovators in campus ministry in our time; Kelly Monroe was on staff as a campus minister for several decades at Harvard before she wrote the watershed Finding God at Harvard, and founded the innovative Veritas Forum model of campus outreach- ecumenical gatherings of students and chaplains for basic Christian apologetics in the academy. Exciting!

... what I have loved about Kelly is the way she speaks. She knows her audience and the knots in which their brains get tied, so she speaks carefully, gently, and with compassion. But she does not hesitate to be profound and to refer to the the depths of what we believe- (for instance, when dealing with DNA researchers, she poetically references the obvious design in the human genome as reflecting "a God who speaks the word, and it tends to become flesh"- wow). In this regard, I love the way Kelly's presentation reflects her content. The Gospel is the most stirring and compelling of gentle invitations; no onslaught, no manipulation. Just a clear description of the One in whom inheres all the truths that we have believed.

More about the work of Veritas Forum here; also, cap's off to the really exciting work being done by the new Institute for Christian life and thought in the Texas Hill Country that hosted Kelly's presentation...

St. Gildas, A.D. 500, and the conscience of a society

One of the most famous of all early Celtic missionary-monks, he was born in about 500 probably in the Clyde Valley in Scotland and died in Brittany in about 570. He was a married man, but after being left a widower he joined the monastic community at Llanilltud. He was spiritual guide to a number of visiting monks, including some from Ireland; he also visited Ireland and kept up correspondence with remote monasteries.

In about 540 he wrote a famous work of religious-political history, later used by the Venerable Bede, which showed how corruption by native British officials in state and church left the way open for the Anglo-Saxon invasions [a parallel to the theological history of ancient Israel, where the collapse of the monarchy and the fall of Jerusalem was attributed to religious infidelity]. He spent some time as a hermit in the Bristol Channel, and ended as a monk on an island off the Morbihan coast of southern Brittany, a spot known by his name to this day.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Pray for the Persecuted Church: Sudan

The genocidal conflicts in Sudan, one of the most urgent humanitarian crises in our world, effects Christians in particular.

The Africa Messenger of Persecution Project reports that the state-sponsored persecution of Christians in western Sudan is, as of last week, resulting in "rapidly escalating violence (which has) pushed humanitarian organizations to the brink of of emergency withdrawl... the consequences of such withdrawl will be catastrophic, measuring in hundreds of thousands of lives. Although 400,000 have already died over the past two and a half years, the worst may just be beginning...the number of conflict-affected persons in Darfur was actually 3.4 million persons as of August 1, 2005. " Read more here.

We should pray especially for women and children who are captured and brutally abused by state-supported radical Muslim terrorists each and every day. Pray that God's comfort would reach those suffering in the Sudan, and that the Gospel of Christ might spread through the witness of the persecuted. One of my favorite organizations helping those in the Sudan:

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cool New Blog

I have just learned that my favorite organization- the Church's youngest and most vibrant social arm- The World Youth Alliance, has got its spot in the Blogosphere up and running in honor of our new president's first journey to Africa, where she will visit our friends and thriving chapters there.

You can follow her travels and the thought of over a million young people committed to promoting the dignity of the person at the international level, here: It's About Dignity.

Christians, no matter what tradition they belong to, can say with joy and gratitude that "what unites us is much greater than what divides us."

... "Our ecumenical journey is not towards a mere appearance of unity -- towards some sort of ecclesiastical good neighborliness. The communion we seek has its source, its model and its fulfillment in the very life of the Trinity. Superficial gestures will not bring about the unity for which the Lord prayed.

...There are wrinkles, even unpleasant scars, on the face of the Church: and a strong ecumenical commitment is an essential factor in restoring her beauty. Only when Christ's prayer at the Last Supper is fulfilled, only when we are all one as he ardently wished, only then will the Church clearly appear as the sign and sacrament of the world's salvation. Only then will God's purpose be fulfilled: "that the world may believe."

Amen and amen. Read the whole thing here. HT: Evangelical Catholicism.

...Cannot Stop Playing This Song Today:

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure,
That He would give His only Son
To make a righteous treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss-
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring Many Sons to Glory

Behold the Man upon the Cross
My guilt upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Cry out among the scoffers.

It was my sin that held him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no powers, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ-
His death and Resurrection

Why should I gain from His remorse?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know, with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Plugging Away

- Unashamedly.

First, as per the "Body" part of this humble blog, and with a nod to all that is incarnational and anti-Gnostic in Christendom, allow me to brag that my little brother has just opened his first and fabulous new restaurant in Austin, Texas. I LOVE THIS PLACE, and any readers who are in the area would do well to skeddadle down there for his innovative, exciting, scrumptious "urban BBQ" menu. -Get the spinach salad. It comes with teeny tiny french fries at the bottom and a teeny tiny fried quail egg on top. Yummmm. More here, at

Secondly, a dear friend who runs the FOCUS ministries for NE boarding schools is the son of the Rev. Paul Zahl of Trinity Seminary. Fr. Zahl has just published his latest book, which sounds wonderful: Grace In Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life. Find it here.

...On the recommendation of Dean Zahl's son, which is pretty precious: it's everything i've always hoped he'd write: grace as it plays out in real life (relationships, work,
politics, parents, culture, etc). Provocative in the extreme, full of illustrations and lots of humor, it's also the most readable thing he's written. I could not recommend it more highly...


I am getting into Anthropology of Religions lately (again!) The stuff is fun- newfangled, trendy, gender inclusive, and everything else that masquerades as modern academia- but it also lends itself to the Gospel, when and if one comes around to heaving their definitive sigh of relief in Christ.

For instance: it has been suggested to yours truly that we need to pay more attention to snakes. Snakes shed their skin in a cyclical sort of way, and thus are taken to typify the Divine Femminine, or the Goddess, which featured predominately in pagan worship. The Problem is that we find "the Patriarchial Religions" (i.e., Judiasm and Christianity) sending all of the demonized snakes away, in Typical Oppressive Fashion. Thus, in order to "oppress and demonize women," they say, Christianity depicts Satan as serpent, and has St. George slaying the dragons, and St. Patrick banishing the snakes from Ireland. - "part and parcel of Patriarchal Subjugation," they say. -Or is it?

When they bring up "oppression," they have forgotten the central oppression of Christ the Crucified, the only Innocent, the only true Victim, and His suffering so that the oppressor in all of us might die- and that we might then rise again with Him. He redeems everything. It strikes me that even the iconic serpent has a part to play in His victory. And sure enough, what do we find in Christian iconography, typifying Christ Himself? - Snakes.

(There are two critical images showing Christ typified by snakes, which are most poignant symbols of the theme of death and resurrection on account of the shedding of their skins: one from the Book of Kells of the fifth century, here, and of course, the image of the Serpent in the Wilderness, above.)

Catherine Macrena Rennier

...Fondly announcing the arrival of the baby daughter of one of the Anglican Communion's youngest rectors, Michael Rennier, and his amazing wife Amber. Their family has been serving a small parish in NE Massachusettes, and now little Catherine gets to help!

Catholic adoption agencies must close if they cannot opt out of new gay rights laws.

Homosexual families in the UK have been battling to prevent Catholic adoption agencies from turning away same-sex couples.

More Here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Prayer for Aborted Babies on the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Heavenly Father,
Thou hast given us the gift of freedom
to love and to follow in Thy ways and commands.
Some parents choose to abuse this freedom
by destroying the gift of life
which Thou hast given to their offspring.
Please forgive those who destroy human life by aborting their unborn babies.
Give these unborn children the opportunity
to enjoy Thee for all eternity,
if it according to Thy ordinance.
Assist me in being one in solidarity with Thy little ones
by taking to heart the words of Thy Son,
"whatever you did for one of these least brothers of Mine, you did for Me." (Mt. 25:40)
Therefore, allow me today, Father,
to take spiritually into my protection an unborn child
and to offer my prayers, works,
joys and sufferings for that little one,
so that child will be able to be born and live
for Thy greater honor and glory.
We pray this in Jesus' name,
in union with the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.


Readers, please put a plug in the comments section for your favorite anti-abortion projects or organizations, or your suggestions for anti-abortion involvement, or even describe some things that you as an individual have done to save the lives of babies in our time.

Monday, January 22, 2007

It has nothing to do with proclaiming the gospel...

But this story in the NY Times is as inspiring as anything you'll read this week. It's just a little reminder of how blessed many of us are and how deep the struggles are for many who come to this country. And it has soccer.

It is reminiscent of the Lost Boys of Sudan, who live in Dallas and work at a Central Market that I frequent. Their lives have been deeply impacted by Christians who have ministered to them. People don't realize that many refugees end up in Dallas; there are a number of churches who have vibrant ministries that serve this important population. Information about how you can help in Dallas can be found here.

Vatican a hotbed of crime...

...and I've got a beautiful rosary I'd like to sell you...real cheap.

Pat Robertson, Annual "Prophecy," 2007- Transcript

Below is what Pat Robertson spoke on the January 2nd episode of "The 700 Club" program, along with his co-hostess. - From Elijah, where the transcript was copied with permission. No comment here; I refuse to despise prohecy. And yet...

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, we'll be talking about that. And I think people, Terry, are interested in finding out, since we're talking about 2007--I've been away for a prayer retreat. And I've put these things out with humility, but nevertheless, I have a relatively good track record. Sometimes I've missed.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: And without doubt, every year, as you seek God, I guess this is His promise to all of us. But as you go away and seek Him for the coming year, God shows you some amazing things.

PAT ROBERTSON: The first thing, Terry, that I think is God's Word to His people, to the believers worldwide, not just here in America, and the promise is that this year is going to be a year of extraordinary miracles.

And if I'm hearing the Lord right, there are such extraordinary things that are going to take place: victory over demonic powers, victory of healing; some dramatic miracles taking place in people's lives.

And the Lord said it's going to seem to the people like Heaven has come down to earth. It's going to be that good. It's going to be really an extraordinary demonstration of God's power.

The other thing He said was that this is the final year of the great demonstration of His grace to the world. For the last 12 years, we have had evangelism unprecedented in countries like India and Indonesia and Nigeria, and so forth. And CBN right now, we have recorded somewhere in the neighborhood of 461 million decisions since the fall of communism. Well, that is going to come, I think, to an end, at least that great anointing.

Well, the other thing I felt was that evil men; evil people, are going to try to do evil things to us and to others during the last part of this year. I don't know whether it'll be in the fall or September or later on, but it'll be the second half, somehow, of 2007. There will be some very serious terrorist attacks. The evil people will come after this country.

And there's a possibility that--not a possibly--a definite certainty that chaos is going to rule, and the Lord said that the politicians will not have any solutions for it. There's just going to be chaos. And, of course, we saw chaos in the Gulf after Katrina. The politicians had no answers.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: I think that that rang resonant in everyone's heart, as they looked at it and realized that when something big happens....

PAT ROBERTSON: We're not ready.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: ...there's no solution.

PAT ROBERTSON: It's going to happen. And I'm not saying necessarily nuclear. The Lord didn't say "nuclear," but I do believe it'll be something like that that'll be a mass killing, possibly millions of people, and major cities injured. I hope I'm wrong, and I hope people will pray and that won't happen. But nevertheless, that seems to be what's coming up.

And then the Lord said He will restrain the evil people, but He will not restrain them necessarily initially. And He doesn't have to restrain people. They're evil people, and they do evil things, and they desire evil.

The other thing on my heart and on His heart is the nation of Israel. And what He says was the United States pretends to be the supporter of Israel, but that we are pushing Israel toward national suicide, our policies are pushing Israel toward national suicide. And He also said that the policies of the current Israeli administration are, quote, "toxic" for the nation of Israel.

So the last couple of years, He has said that we're entering into the most dangerous time in the history of Israel. That has been born out by this last war they had. It's clear that another war, sooner or later, is coming.

But the word was that the Olmert policies were "toxic," "toxic" for the nation of Israel, and that the United States was feigning friendship but pushing them toward national suicide.

So these are some of the things. The other thing is that there's going to be a great anointing of His Spirit upon His people. The believers are going to have just an extraordinary time.

And the last word that I got was on New Year's Day. And that took from the tenth chapter of Ezra, when, you remember, the Jewish people had come back from captivity. The Lord had given them a little respite, and, lo and behold, they immediately began to break His Word and to intermarry with the heathen people.

And Ezra was overwhelmed, the scribe, and he called for a national repentance. And he said, "You've got to put away from you this evil." Well, I thought, "How does this apply to us?" And the truth is that the Christians particularly have intermarried with the evil.

We have television that is just full of evil. We have motion pictures full of evil. Not only violence, but sexuality and permissiveness. Then, on the Internet, we have all kinds of evil that people are allowing themselves to get into. And then, more than that, there's this air of materialism where we're caught up in it.

And it was as if God is saying, "You've got to put away from yourself those heathen influences that are taking over. Because I'm going to do something wonderful for you, but it's not going to happen unless you put away the heathen influences."

So I believe that it's going to be--these first few months, I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be an extraordinary time, and we should expect miracles beyond our wildest fantasies in the first six months.

And after then--chaotic. And we'll be talking in subsequent programs about some of the things that you might do specifically. But the idea is what the Bible says, "Seek humility, seek righteousness, that you may be hid in the day of that wrath." And I think we need to be....

TERRY MEEUWSEN: And to not be afraid.

PAT ROBERTSON: Oh, why should we be afraid?

TERRY MEEUWSEN: God is in control.

PAT ROBERTSON: God, He's in charge of the whole thing.


PAT ROBERTSON: And so, if you get blown up or something, you go to Heaven, and that's the worst thing that'll happen to you. But we have evil people in the world.

And there's a cleric in Saudi Arabia who has issued a fatwa (A legal opinion or ruling issued by an Islamic scholar) that gave Osama bin Laden the permission to kill ten-million people in the West. A cleric. He said, "Under Islamic law, I find that you have permission to kill ten-million people." And one of the leaders of Iran was saying, "Well, if we go to war with Israel, and Israel annihilates us and we annihilate them, if it costs 18-million dead, it'll be worth it if we can destroy Israel."

Now, we're dealing with people who think that way. The fact that they might do a job on Chicago or Los Angeles or Washington or New York, we shouldn't be surprised, because they're evil people.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: Well, they've said that's their intention.

PAT ROBERTSON: They've said that's what they're going to do. But God said He's going to restrain the evil, but He isn't necessarily going to restrain it from the beginning.


PAT ROBERTSON: And so, a lot of these things can be reversed. We just need to do a lot of praying. But I think seek righteousness, seek humility, and we'll be passing out some tips about what to do in case of disaster. I didn't get a whole lot of word about natural disasters.

Last year, the Lord said the coasts would be lashed by storms. Not necessarily hurricanes, but lashed. Up in New England, lashed. Denver--well not coast, but the Pacific Northwest. And then, of course, over in the Philippines, two typhoons, one right after the other. Coasts around have been lashed by storms. I don't know that we're going to have a great many natural disasters, at least I don't have any message in terms of that.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: It'd be nice to have a respite in that area after all this.

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I can't guarantee it; I just didn't hear anything. Okay.

I have always wondered...

... why this passage, from Sunday's Epistle, is not more widely invoked as a basis for inter denominational ecumenism- not just at the individual level, but at the corporate level as well: "But now are they many members, yet but one body..."

I Corinthians 4

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
For the body is not one member, but many.
If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
And if they were all one member, where were the body?
But now are they many members, yet but one body.
And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.
That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

For now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

St. Brigid of Kildare, 6th century

This well-rounded young woman, current patroness of babies, scholars, and travelers, was the daughter of a pagan Irish king. She founded missionary convents all over Ireland; Saint Patrick apparantly confirmed her final vows with the formula used for priests. Oops-

"I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us. I would like an abundance of peace. I would like full vessels of charity. I would like rich treasures of mercy. I would like cheerfulness to preside over all. I would like Jesus to be present. I would like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us. I would like the friends of Heaven to be gathered around us from all parts. I would like myself to be a rent payer to the Lord; that I should suffer distress, that he would bestow a good blessing upon me. I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings. I would like to be watching Heaven's family drinking it through all eternity."

- St. Brigid

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Joe Jones

Stanley Hauerwas, who is officially the best theologian in the USA, thinks that the best theologian in the modern WORLD is in this picture. NO, it's not MM; it's the dear professor next to her. Yes, "Stan" says that Joe Jones is the best theologian in the modern world; Stan introduced us, and Joe became my favorite professor and current mentor. Professor Jones coined the patron phrase which you will find in our side bar. That's us at Yale, a photo from this Spring's Commencement; and this morning, I am bundling myself and my dog into the car for a drive up to Muskogee, OK, for a weekend visit with the Jones family.

"Witness to the reality of the living triune God is the raison d'etre of the Church and is the most comprehensive context in which to understand her other traits, actions, and images."

- Joe Jones, Grammar of Christian Faith. More about Professor Jones and his work here.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Diadochus of Photike on Loving God...

From the Office of Readings today:

"Whoever is in love with himself is unable to love God. The man who loves God is the one who abandons his self-love for the sake of the immeasurable blessings of divine love. Such a man never seeks his own glory but only the glory of God. If a person loves himself he seeks his own glory, but the man who loves God loves the glory of his Creator.

Anyone alive to the love of God can be recognised from the way he constantly strives to glorify him by fulfilling all his commandments and by delighting in his own submission. It is fitting that God should receive glory, because of his great majesty; but it is fitting for us as human beings to submit ourselves to God and thereby become his friends. Then we too will rejoice in his glory as Saint John the Baptist did, and we shall never stop repeating: His fame must increase, but mine must diminish."

If you're not familiar with the Office of Readings, it is a wonderful way to get into the Church Fathers in bite-sized pieces. The daily readings are posted on Universalis.

"In the confessional we are made young again."

"There is perhaps no other time that the priest feels so deeply the sense of that fatherhood which gives him his title. A child of God speaks the words, “Bless me, father, for I have sinned…” and in the quiet of the confessional the power of Christ is stirred for the renewal of the soul. That which was broken is healed. What was so heavy at the time of coming is lifted. It is its own magnum mysterium as new birth is once more imparted to the penitent. The divine hears through the human ear. The fruits of Calvary are applied, and the waters of baptism flow once again over the sullied soul. In the confessional we are made young again. As a child is brought to the font, so the soul is presented to our Lord for Him to do His work. And when it is done, those happy words: “Go in peace, for the Lord has taken away your sins.”

HT: The excellent Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex blog, which quotes from Atonement Online, the diary of the rector at the RC Anglican Use parish of Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, Texas.

Read Fr. Christopher's blog; it is so beautiful.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Peter Leithart on The Unbearable Burden of Evangelical Christianity...

Anti-sacramental, anti-ritual evangelicalism emphasizes a personal relationship with God, but tends to encourage what Anthony Giddens calls "pure relationship," a relationship that is not tacked down with external anchors and supports. A live-in relationship, without benefit of the rites and legalities of marriage, is a pure relationship. Evangelicalism tends to encourage a live-in relationship with Jesus.

This is wrong, a departure from Christian tradition, and unbiblical. It also places unbearable burdens on the soul. Tempted by the devil, Luther slapped his forehead to remind himself of his baptism. His standing before God was anchored in Christ, to whom he had been joined by baptism.

For evangelicals, assurance cannot be grounded in anything so external and objective. Spontaneous enthusiasm is the test of sincerity, and the source of assurance. But eternal, self-scrutinizing vigilance is necessary to ensure that the enthusiasm is really spontaneous.

Enthusiasm was supposed to liberate the soul from all the dead forms, but it comes with its own set of chains.
From Peter Leithart.

HT: titusonenine.

Methodists vs. President Bush

On the front of the Dallas Morning News web page is an article about Methodists who are protesting the potential placement of the George Bush presidential library on the SMU campus. Their petition website can be found here. Just out of curiosity, I quickly googled the leader of the petition, Rev. Andrew Weaver, an SMU grad. It turns out this is just a continuation of his long dissatisfaction with the Bush administration and everything conservative. His particular object of ire is the Institute for Religion and Democracy, and some of the conservative Catholic theologians who serve on its board (he has only nasty things to say about Neuhas, Novak, and Weigel).

I happen to have my own reasons for thinking that the Bush library at SMU is not a good thing -- I'm not convinced that presidential libraries increase the reputation of an institution and I think it have a negative effect on fundraising for other priorities (like scholarships and professorships), not because of the reputation of Bush, but because it forces the fundraising staff to concentrate on other things. And obviously Weaver is welcome to his opinion and to lead his protest.

But there seems to be some inconsistency here; after all, Duke is a Methodist university, and he hasn't raised a peep about the injustices perpetrated against Duke students by Mike Nifong and the faculty group of 88 (go here for a rundown of everything you need to know about this case). Also not a word about Emory University's (another Methodist university) long relationship with Coca-Cola, which is alleged to engage in illegal practices. In short, if Weaver was actually concerned with SMU, and not trying to score some political points in the name of Methodism, he might bear listening to. But this isn't so much a religious move as a political one.

More on where the fathers have gone...

A few days ago, Father Nelson posted excerpts from a NY Times article discussing how there are more women living without husbands than with. Well, it turns out that, as James Lileks points out (in his usually hilarious way), the methodology included all women who are over 15. So the answer to where all the men are high school. My guess is that if you changed it to count all women over, say, the age of 21, you might get a different number.

But as he also points out, much of this article takes it from the perspective of relatively upper-middle class women, who may be somewhat shielded from the impact of not being married (at least as far as raising children goes).

Vitae Caring Foundation

I was introduced to this wonderful organization this week: the Vitae Caring Foundation serves "to encourage a greater respect for human life and reduce the number of abortions by using mass-media education for long-term cultural change." Cool.

Check them out. You can also download some of their excellent, and touching, anti-abortion short commercials here; my favorite is the commercial which you will find under the title "Life Saver."

Allow me to brag a little...

True humility, St. Thomas says, permits one to recognize excellence fully and unabashadly when and if excellence is enjoyed for its own sake.

So. I feel quite justified in saying, if I may, that this humble blog simply rocks. Take a glance at our newly updated list of contributors. These fathers and brothers in Christ are some of the most up and coming, devout, brilliant followers of Jesus and servants of the Church in our universe, and I am so pleased that they have agreed to help make Vocatum a conversant and educational place for standing with the saints to proclaim our Lord.

Brief Introductions:

Fr. Matthew and Fr. Nelson are Anglican priests under the age of 30, both fulfilling their pastoral duties in local cures with courage.

Lux Intellectus is a bright star and doctoral student in academic theology.

LDMiller is a dynamic Evangelical pastor who is completing his work in seminary.

Gentlemen, thank you for all that you do.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Songs for a Snowy Texas Wednesday...

Set up an iTunes playlist to select 10 songs at random from your library and post the results in the comments.

No cheating!

Antony of Egypt - Founder of Christian Monasticism

"It is worth while that I should relate, and that you, as you wish it, should hear what his death was like. For this end of his is worthy of imitation. According to his custom he visited the monks in the outer mountain, and having learned from Providence that his own end was at hand, he said to the brethren, 'This is my last visit to you which I shall make. And I shall be surprised if we see each other again in this life. At length the time of my departure is at hand, for I am near a hundred and five years old.' And when they heard it they wept, and embraced, and kissed the old man. But he, as though sailing from a foreign city to his own, spoke joyously, and exhorted them 'Not to grow idle in their labours, nor to become faint in their training, but to live as though dying daily. And as he had said before, zealously to guard the soul from foul thoughts, eagerly to imitate the Saints, and to have nought to do with the Meletian schismatics, for you know their wicked and profane character. Nor have any fellowship with the Arians, for their impiety is clear to all. Nor be disturbed if you see the judges protect them, for it shall cease, and their pomp is mortal and of short duration. Wherefore keep yourselves all the more untainted by them, and observe the traditions of the fathers, and chiefly the holy faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, which you have learned from the Scripture, and of which you have often been put in mind by me.'
From The Life of Antony, Athanasius of Alexandria.

SHRINE EXCLUSIVE! George Weigel Speaks!

Everyone run over to see our friends at Shrine of the Holy Whapping, and enjoy their exclusive hosting of commentary by papal biographer and acclaimed author, George Weigel, courtesy of us, dear Mr. Weigel, and that amazing organization, the World Youth Alliance. You will not be disappointed with either.

George says:

"If Krakow is the first of our two cities, the second city is Toronto, where, this past summer, the XVI World Aids Conference was going on. It got the usual cursory attention in the press: Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, and so forth. Yet in fact what was in fact going on was a kind of Saturnalia. The leading official representing the U.S. government at this conference is one of my oldest friends, a man who has seen a lot in his time. Yet he told me, a few weeks ago over lunch, that “I was physically ill at the conference.” Why? Because it was not, largely, about helping people with AIDS; it was about affirming the most bizarre expressions of human sexual willfulness, and doing so in public. My friend said, “I was just physically ill at this display of decadence.” The World AIDS Conference was not about compassion; it was not about caring; it was not about cure; it was about the assertion of the self. And in the midst of that horror show, there were Dr. Tim Flanigan and these World Youth Alliance kids standing for something else: standing for the true dignity of the human person made in the image and likeness of God."

You can view our own exclusive Weigel references here and here, while you are it :)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Where have all the fathers gone?

From the New York Times:

For what experts say is probably the first time, more American women are living without a husband than with one, according to a New York Times analysis of census results.

In 2005, 51 percent of women said they were living without a spouse, up from 35 percent in 1950 and 49 percent in 2000.

Coupled with the fact that in 2005 married couples became a minority of all American households for the first time, the trend could ultimately shape social and workplace policies, including the ways government and employers distribute benefits.

Several factors are driving the statistical shift. At one end of the age spectrum, women are marrying later or living with unmarried partners more often and for longer periods. At the other end, women are living longer as widows and, after a divorce, are more likely than men to delay remarriage, sometimes delighting in their newfound freedom.

In addition, marriage rates among black women remain low. Only about 30 percent of black women are living with a spouse, according to the Census Bureau, compared with about 49 percent of Hispanic women, 55 percent of non-Hispanic white women and more than 60 percent of Asian women.

In a relatively small number of cases, the living arrangement is temporary, because the husbands are working out of town, are in the military or are institutionalized. But while most women eventually marry, the larger trend is unmistakable.

“This is yet another of the inexorable signs that there is no going back to a world where we can assume that marriage is the main institution that organizes people’s lives,” said Prof. Stephanie Coontz, director of public education for the Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit research group. “Most of these women will marry, or have married. But on average, Americans now spend half their adult lives outside marriage.”

Professor Coontz said this was probably unprecedented with the possible exception of major wartime mobilizations and when black couples were separated during slavery.
Yet another challenge to the Church. First, for the Christian man - to be family men who love their wives and children as Christ loves the Church. Second, for the Christian woman - to expect nothing less than this love from their husbands. It is a statistical reality now - the Christian family is officially counter-cultural.

Immigration: The Christian Perspective

"By her nature, the Church is in solidarity with the world of migrants who, with their variety of languages, races, cultures and customs, remind her of her own condition as a people on pilgrimage from every part of the earth to their final homeland. This vision helps Christians to reject all nationalistic thinking and to avoid narrow ideological categories. It reminds them that the Gospel should be incarnated in life in order to become its leaven and soul, also through a constant effort to free it from the cultural incrustations that inhibit its inner dynamism...In following the Master's example, the Church too lives as he did in the world with the attitude of a pilgrim, working to create communion, a welcoming home where the dignity conferred by the Creator is recognized in each human being...

In a time and age when many Western Christians readily defer to the law of the land before considering fully the law of love, the Church unequivocally announces her solidarity with even illegal or undocumented migrants. Every human person, regardless of legal or economic status, is a brother and neighbor to the Christian: ...for her part, the Church, like the Good Samaritan, feels it her duty to be close to the illegal immigrant and refugee, contemporary icon of the despoiled traveler, beaten and abandoned on side of the road to Jericho (cf. Lk 10:30). She goes towards him, pouring "on his wounds the oil of consolation and the wine of hope," feeling herself called to be a living sign of Christ, who came that all might have life in abundance...For the Christian, every human being is a 'neighbour' to be loved
-Pope John Paul II, 1999.

Since we can so easily forget that our duty as citizens is comprised within and subsumed to our prior ambassadorial duties to Christ and the international community of His universal Church, here it is: clear, Christian commentary on one of the trickiest issues of our day, from our friends at Evangelical Catholicism. The authors have compiled their posts on the topic together into one post with characteristic efficiency- get it here, where you will find the following options:

Monday, January 15, 2007

"And shouldn't the sordid details of our Protestant past make my profession a little bit saucier and more enticing?"

A young ordained woman complains about her lack of luck in finding a suitable date in Manhattan, concluding (with a whimper) that "a little white collar is not exactly a little red (dress)." More here. I really do not know how to respond to this one.

National DeLurking Week Cont'd.

We are still waiting to hear from many "lurkers"- for those of you who have not said hello, would you kindly scroll down to the appropriate post and do so, or consider making yourself known here? We want to know who you are! :)

While walking the aisles at Target...

Overheard a little girl (maybe 3 years old?) say to her mama:

"I want this for Christmas!"

Mama: "We just had Christmas..."

Girl: "I mean when we get a new Christmas!"

Therefore let us keep the feasts: the importance of observing the liturgical year

The commemoration of the feasts and fasts of the Church honors Christ by imitating Israel's mandate to mark holy days and seasons: "blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly..." (Joel 2). When the Church faithfully observes her traditional holy days and seasons, she enacts her confession that God Himself established boundaries between times as part of His creation of the very universe that is redeemed, in time, by Christ.

These "festivals" of the Church reflect the Christian's commitment to a living faith, whereby the basic repository of belief and prescriptions contained in our written texts may be transmitted lovingly, personally, and conversationally from old to young within the community, as that community strives to live and internalize its faith through vivid, active practices. The Christian feasts demonstrate the communal nature of Christianity's continual interpretation and enactment of God’s Word under the lively authority of tradition.

Secondly, the Church's festivals answer the unique challenges of being Christian in the contemporary world. Festivals answer the challenge of living in diaspora among the nations, by providing a universal pattern of celebration that unites Christians from various cultures and backgrounds. Festivals answer the challenge of connecting the Christian's life and faith with the historical past, in as much as each festival serves to synthesize diverse accounts of history with theological and communal meaning. Festivals also answer the challenge of sustaining the Christian family and the rites of the Christian home by drawing on the resources of the home and family, and by affirming traditional family roles. Festivals answer the challenge of nurturing the Christian community by drawing it together in common sympathies for common remembrance; and most importantly, festivals answer the challenge of connecting the people with their God, in as much as each festival incorporates worship, and in as much as the festival itself becomes an act of obedience to God’s direct commands to consecrate certain days and events for holy commemoration.

Finally, we find the Christian festivals vividly enacting the integrity and inseperability of Christian public life and private worship. The feasts and fasts of the Church demonstrate the Christian's refusal to adopt a perceptual dichotomy between “public” life and “private” religion; according to the Christian worldview, all of life is sacred, and public duties and structures must themselves constitute acts of worship. In the Christian festival, the commemoration of God’s work takes public form; the community gathers together to celebrate as a public act, and commercial and political structures may themselves be caught up in worshipful commemoration through rest and celebration.

The Christian festivals are critical moments of connection for a people dispersed from Heaven, from one another, and from their God by their sin, in as much as the festival enables historic observance in modern times, and allows for the performance and remembrance of the commanded duties of holiness, obedience, and faith. On the whole, the traditional Christian feasts and fasts should enjoy a prominent place in the life of the Church, in as much as these celebrations extend the celebration of Christ's salvation into the public sphere, vividly bridge modernity’s gap between public and sacred life, reminding the Church of her status as a consecrated "nation" wherein no such gap may persist, and calling the Church's children into the contemporary realization of the ongoing tradition and dramas of Christ's people.

St. Jack

On the lighter side of things, I found a great blog for Comical Theologians who consider Jack Bauer to be a patron saint for something. And since I know MM is a big fan, I thought I would share the link The Blog is entitled The A-Team Blog, Defending the Country from Theological Terrorists. Classic. Great post currently up on the Theological facts of Jack Bauer (e.g., "The anti-Christ is hoping Jack Bauer won’t be left behind."). Are any other readers fans of the show? We have a group of Seminarians that are planning on watching the show weekly. Love to hear your reflections on the show.

“A just law is a man-made code that square with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of Saint Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of of superiority, and the segregated a false sense of inferiority... so segregation is morally wrong and sinful. Isnt segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, an expression of his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness?”

From Letter from a Birmingham City Jail, 1963

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Saint Macrina the Elder

There are two Saints Macrina, one the grandmother of the other.

Reminding us of the holiness and usefulness of the Church's families, St. Macrina was the progenitor and teacher of several of the greatest of the great Cappadocian Fathers of the Church, her grandchildren: Basil (Ep. 204:7; 223:3), Gregory of Nyssa ("Vita Macrinae Junioris"), and the panegyric of St. Gregory of Nazianzus on St. Basil (Gregory Naz., Oratio 43). Besides being the matriarch of a remarkable spiritual family (living in Pontus-in-Asia, modern Northern Turkey, by the Black Sea) Macrina herself was a disciple of the distinguished Bishop of Neo-Caesarea in Pontus, St. Gregory the Wonderworker (+270).

She suffered much for the faith, including loss of property, but transferred to her children and her grandchildren the love of Christ which sustained her. During the Diocletian persecution she fled from her native town with her husband, and had to endure many privations. She was thus a confessor of the Faith during the last violent storm that burst over the early Church.

"On the intellectual and religious training of St. Basil and his elder brothers and sisters, she exercised a great influence, implanting in their minds those seeds of piety and that ardent desire for Christisn perfection which were later to attain so glorious a growth."

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Culture of Life Projects V: Baby J...

Our former contributor Mrs. J and I used to stomp across the planet together and stay up all night just to watch the moon. This photo is of us wreaking havoc at Hillsdale College years ago. She and her husband have just announced that she is a new mother, with a magical little one to arrive this summer. Congratulations, best friend I ever had!

Review: The Dark Sacrament

I know, I know. Demonology is strange, dangerous, and can too often become the interested believer's tabloids- frivolous triumphalism, fluff, the stuff of sensationalism. Still...

I purchased this book- The Dark Sacrament: Exorcism in Ireland, 2006- last week in the bookstore at Trinity College, Dublin, because the youngish cashier behind the counter at the Book of Kells Exhibit was reading it- also because one of my favorite new professors is both Irish and a practiced exorcist when he is not attending to simple good works and the daily task of evangelism. I have to admit, I gobbled it up. The authors are believing lay people whose intentions are golden: to inform people about the real dangers of demonic influence and to pass on the Church's teachings on point. They canvass roughly a dozen stories of demonic oppression and the ensuing exorcisms by practiced clergy, all in Ireland, all in the past five years. At the back of the book they include the RC rubrics on formal exorcism and the prayers of St. Patrick, St. Michael, and also a Greek Rite that I have decided to memorize.

What struck me about these accounts was their uniformity: a lapsed Christian-young, old, male or female, married or single- delves just once into a oujia board, a seance, or a horoscope. In one account, all it took, apparently, was one night of blacking out from binge drinking, and in another, the refusal to pray for a departed relative who had died unprepared. A very strong and uncontrollable presence enters the person's life following a definite decision on the part of the person to engage the spiritual realm contrary to the church's teachings, and gradually gains, over time, the total annhilation of the person that it seeks- loss of sleep, disrupted relationships, insanity. Holy objects and holy water are no deterrent. The most effective exorcist is the modest, plain-spoken cleric or religious who fasts a lot, and who deals with the spirital invader with an on-site Mass or prayer service in the most matter of fact way. And in every case, the prayer of St. Michael really worked.

I dont know whether I actually recommend this book. Certainly it does not (nor was it intended) to offer anything more substantive in the Christian life than serious, symptomatic warnings, dressed up and narrated in a rather glossy way. But the whole thing is sobering. Apparently we Christians cannot be too careful.

Saint Michael, Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And you, Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into Hell Satan and the other evil spirits who prowl the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Lurker Alert!

... I hear around the Blogosphere that this is National De-Lurking Week or something like that. Seriously. So dear readers, will you show yourselves? We have so many readers who show up regularly on our stat counting database, and rarely, if ever leave a comment, and it is fun to know who is out there and why you read. Make up a name for yourself if you like, but please stop and say hello. Even if you are a regular commentor, kindly drop a line and let us know how we are doing... and make some suggestions! We love feedback.

Thank you and have a happy de-lurking week. :)

Apologize: Christians and the Empiricists

"The view which I put forward for your consideration is that the intention of a Christian to follow a Christian way of life is not only the criterion for the sincerity of his belief in the assertion of Christianity; it is the criterion for the meaningfulness of his assertions. The meaning of a religious assertion is given by its use in expressing the asserter's intention to follow a specific policy of behavior... it is the intention to behave which constitutes (for the outside world) what my be known of Christian conviction."

- R.B. Braithwaite, The Nature of Religious Belief.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"You will know life and be acknowledged by it according to your degree of transparency- your capacity, that is, to vanish as an end, and to remain purely as a means."

-Dag Hammarskjold

A dear friend of mine, a true Jesuit trainee, works tirelessly from the Philippines for human dignity in the name of Christ; she appends her emails with this message, so here it is, from St. Augustine via Hammarskjold and herslf.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Cool Blog.

Friends in the News

"MM, you have been slacking on the blog!"
These words in my inbox this morning. It's true and I am sorry. No one misses blogging more than I. Staying for a week on the outer boglands of northern Ireland has not helped, but this little Vocatum endeavor should be up and kicking again towards the end of this week, with some new contributor invitations going out to a lucky few, and (hopefully) another year of witnessing to Christ the Lord in the 'sphere.

But enough about me. Our friends have been remarkable busy since Christmas, and they deserve a little attention.

First, warmest congratulations to our contributor Eirenopoios, who was ordained an Episcopal priest in Christ's one holy Church in mid December. As his blog name suggests, this lovely man is sure to be an ideal, peacemaking pastor in the Church for the benefit of the waiting world, and I thrilled for him and for Mrs. Eirenopoios! (commentary associated with this new priest can be viewed at The Propoganda Box.)

Secondly, kudos, as ever, to Vocatum's brother-blog, Whitehall, where Fr. WB holds court. Fr. WB's impressive musings were deservedly nominated to win in the "Most Theological" category of the 2007 Anglican Blog Awards. Everyone who reads here should trot over there from time to time, digestion permitting.

And finally, a fond farewell to our erestwhile contributor Garland, whose writings here have landed him a position in greener and more august pastures, with those devoted souls who are busy shoring up the remains of Anglo Catholicism. We will miss him and wish him well!

Friday, January 05, 2007


"My own position at the threshold of Christianity was exactly the opposite of yours. You wish it were true; I strongly hoped it was not. At least, that was my conscious wish...One never knows all one's wishes. What I think one can say with certainty is this: the notion that everyone would like Christianity to be true, and that therefore all atheists are brave men who have accepted the defeat of all their deepest desires, is simply impudent nonsense. Do you think people like Stalin, Hitler, Haldane, Stapledon (a corking good writer, by the way) would be pleased on waking up one morning to find that they were not their own masters, that they had a Master and a Judge, that there was nothing even in the deepest recesses of their thoughts about which they could say to Him `Keep out! Private. This is my business'? Do you? Rats! Their first reaction would be (as mine was) rage and terror."

- C.S. Lewis, Letter to Vanauken I

... the greatest joy of staying in East Belfast, near the shipping docks where the Titanic was built, is that I am lodging across the street from the birthplace and childhood home of C.S. Lewis and his brother Warnie. This was an amazingly pleasant surprise; the dear man raised me. There was nothing else to do upon discovering this wonderful fact of his nearness than to venture out on as many expeditions in his footsteps as possible: to dinner at the Old Inn in Crawfordsburne, where Lewis honeymooned with Joy Gresham, and then to the glorious Giant's Causeway Coast, where I am sure he trecked, and stumbled upon his lifelong love affair with bracing winds, northerliness, and holiness.

Monday, January 01, 2007

A New Blog! (and a few small changes)

The internet has come into its own with my mother's new blog:

Virtuous Womanhood

You'll also notice that this blog has been updated. That's because I have taken the liberty of upgrading it out of the mire of Blogger beta into Blogger *new and improved*. With this small aesthetic changes are enacted as well as labels for the expeditious organization of previous postings (not sure how retroactive it is, though). Also, I have stopped posting under my screen name "Garland" (my middle name, if you must know), and am going with my full name, Timothy. It seems more honest somehow. All this to say, Happy New Year.


Various Catholic perspectives on Saddam's execution

I found this article, which presents different perspectives on the execution of Saddam Hussein by different Catholic moral theologians, to be very interesting. Read the whole thing.

St. Peter's Cathedral, Belfast

Yours Truly is in Ireland for New Year's.

I attended an evening Mass yesterday in this glorious Cathedral that sits in the western half of a city neatly and sometimes violently divided between Catholics and Protestants. The priest was young, the liturgy impeccable, the serice packed with young, old, and families, and the interior of this lovely place is the most elegant cathedral interior I have ever seen.

The rest of the evening was spent ferrying drunken questions and answers among presbyterians and Church of Irelanders on the staircase at a late New Year's Eve party ("She's a Theology Student! To the Lions!") One lovely fellow would simply come and go among his fellow interlocutors throughout the night, exclaiming over and over again that the Catholic Church was the only way to Heaven. Such times are a Blessing; I am reminded of how alive and well spiritual issues are in the hearts and minds of young people the world over, and I am challenged to work harder to "provide an answer" for the bit of hope that God blessedly keeps alive in my own heart. I was also encouraged by the state of ecumenism in this part of the world, and was reminded just how far Showing Up For Mass and Mentioning Jesus at a Cocktail party can go...