Blog Template Theology of the Body: February 2007

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Our Belief: It's what we've all been waiting for

Modern sociologists have suggested that throughout the history of humanity, the divine has revealed itself, from the simplest and most elementary forms, to the "supreme hierophany"- the claim that God is revealed by His incarnation in Jesus Christ.

"Human myths do not just reflect the cycles of life and death in nature; they reenact as well the great personal struggle that takes place in the life of each human individual: the drama of birth, life, and death as well as the hope of rebirth or redemption. No symbol manages to being divine life so near to human life as the figure of the savior-god, the divinity who even shared mankind's sufferings, died and rose from the dead to redeem them. Precisely because of this marked humanity, this type of god plays a crucial role in the history of religion."

Daniel L. Pals, 'Eight Theories of Religion'

“Christianity involves the most historically involved incarnation of the sacred.

One might even say that all hierophanies (manifestations of the divine) throughout history are simply prefigurations of the miracle of the Incarnation, that every hierophany is an abortive attempt to reveal the mystery of the coming together of God and man.

It does not therefore seem absurd in the least to study the nature of primitive hierophanies in the light of Christian theology. The whole religious life of mankind- expressed in the dialectic of various hierophanies- would from this standpoint, be simply a waiting for Christ.”

Mircea Eliade (1907-1986, the father of modern religious studies)
The University of Chicago
From 'Patterns in Comparative Religion'

Yet Another Empty Tomb... more on Jacovici and Cameron on the "grave" of Jesus:

Catch up at "specialists have known about the ossuaries for years...'The fact that it's been ignored tells you something,' says Dever, professor emeritus at the University of Arizona. 'It would be amusing if it didn't mislead so many people.'"

My own chief contention goes back to Christ's earliest witnesses, the apostles and martyrs. First, those who had walked with Jesus did not worship Him and honor His memory at a suburban grave site; they worshipped at the site of Jesus' empty tomb, as we have persisted in doing for centuries. The traditional site is now marked by the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, above. Why modern archeologists insist that they know more than the earliest Christians, Who Were There, is beyond me. It's Patronizing, Oppressive, Colonial, etc.

Secondly, the emerging Christian cult depended entirely for its credibility on a missing body. It stands to reason that the disciples, intent on propogating the Ressurrection story, would have had nothing to gain from burying Jesus- and later His "family"- in elaborate, marked graves such as the ossuaries at issue. In such a situation, propogandists BURN the body. Or hide it. At any rate, the disciples had nothing to gain either way- except death by torture.
And thirdly: where are the relics? We KNOW what early Christians did with the remains of those saints whom they loved...surely if there were bones of Christ to be venerated somewhere, we would have long known where to find them, housed in a cheery reliquary...

Evangelical Catholicism offers these issues, which will cast further Deep Suspicion on the Latest Sensation for the man on the street:

1. Fancy, fancy. Would Jesus, an itinerant preacher, or his father, a humble carpenter, be able to afford such a luxurious burial place where the entire family would be reunited at death?

2. But our fathers worshipped at the Sepulcher. Would not knowledge of this burial place by someone--anyone--eventually diminish the significance and sacredness of the empty tomb at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre? Surely someone during late antiquity would have known about Jacovici and Cameron's "real tomb", helping to dispel the myths surrounding that other burial site to which Christians had been flocking to since the early fourth century.

3. Another Messiah. Why would Jesus name his son "Judah"? By doing so, Jesus would be passing the messianic and eschatological hopes of Israel over to his son. Recall that the prophesies of the restoration of the Davidic kingdom and covenant were to be fulfilled in one man from the tribe of Judah. By naming his son "Judah," Jesus would have been identifying the messianic hope not in himself, but in his son. From an historical and religious standpoint, this is sheer nonsense. The cult developed around the person of Jesus.

4. Do we have remains? It seems as though it would be quite inconvenient for those who purport that they have, in fact, found the burial site of Jesus' family, should there not be enough or any remains to validate that claim.

5. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry. How common were the names in first-century Palestine that were found on the ossuaries? Is it not plausible, indeed, probable, that a number of burial sites may contain the remains of any combination of individuals named Yeshua, Marya, Yose? The names on the caskets are the most common names found among Jews at the time.

6. We have not heard of this before. Because we have absolutely no historical record of the groups of people who were persecuting the Christians in antiquity using this supposed burial site as proof that Jesus did not rise from the dead, could it possibly be a hoax contrived at a much later date? Considering the vehement attacks on Christians during the early Church, this finding would have provided remarkable ammunition for assaulting Christian belief.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"God will not be outdone by your kindness"

This is the time of the year when we are most struck by those who have given to the uttermost.

For instance, the phrase above- "He will never be outdone by your kindness"- appears in the footer of every email sent by a certain little nun who works at a university Catholic Center in Boston. She is one of my dearest friends; and she is also one of the most beautiful women I have ever known. She is from an old and noble family in the Middle East. When she answered the call to her heart to found her religious order, her family denounced her forever. When she left her country years ago, before the Iraq War, she knew that she might never see her family again; and in fact, her leaving her home to minister to students in the U.S. resulted in her bishop's ordering her never to contact any of her relatives for the rest of her life. You see, this sister has given to the uttermost.

I have not done so, but I have had my moments. So this is my little story. I was eighteen, freshly baptized, headed for lay missionary work, and enthusiastically ready for ANY sort of renunciation. So there it came: a series of revival services at a local church, an urgent call for funds for some sort of building campaign. I wore a beautiful gold bracelet that my grandmother had given to me, that her mother had given to her, that had been exquisitely handcrafted in the manner of a traditioanl Nairobi design especially for her when she fell in love with Africa as a young woman. It was a little thing, but it was precious; it represented my memories of my storied grandmother's adventures on safari, our tender conversations, my father's love for Africa, my own tentative forays into that continent in their footsteps. But the bracelet was valuable, and God's work needed money. Off came my heirloom bracelet, and into the collection plate.

Years passed. A full decade later, I began to think constantly of that bracelet. To be honest, I wanted it back. My grandmother died five years ago, and I miss her deeply; and that little bracelet has come to represent my own memories of people and places in Africa that I have known and loved. It started as a tentative little prayer several years ago; I wanted my bracelet back.

This of course was ridiculous. I had put the bracelet in an offering plate. The people and structures that had recieved my bracelet ten years ago had probably come and gone, and the church had probably pawned and profited from that random piece of jewelry. But just for fun, several days after this past Thanksgiving, I looked up that little church and phoned them. Did they know anything about a funny little gold bracelet that had appeared in their offering plate ten years ago? "Oh, no," they said. Hardly. All donated items of value were to be pawned as soon as possible. Furthermore, the church's staff had since changed hands. As expected. But later the same day, a sudden phone call: "ma'am, we have found a bracelet that matches your description on the floor of the church's safe. It must have been overlooked- it was hidden all this time under a pile of papers. You can come and pick it up this week."

So after a decade, I have my bracelet back. He will not be outdone by our kindness. Nor, apparently, will He lose that which we have entrusted to Him.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Saint Polycarp, A.D. 156: Bishop and Martyr

... one of those who would have known some of the original Twelve, and who then died for it.

An example of the Church's early episcopacy.

A heroic martyr who prayed the following at the time of his death:

"Lord God Almighty, Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, God of angels and powers, of the whole creation and of the whole race of the righteous who live in your sight, I bless you, for having made me worthy of this day and hour, I bless you, because I may have a part, along with the martyrs, in the chalice of your Christ, to resurrection in eternal life, resurrection both of soul and body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, among those who are in you presence, as you have prepared and foretold and fulfilled, God who is faithful and true. For this and for all benefits I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal and heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be to you with him and the Holy Spirit glory, now and for all the ages to come. Amen."

Eucharist without the wine

I experienced and learned something new yesterday. My wife and I visited a large Catholic church here in town for the second time yesterday. Since I'm not Catholic I obviously don't take communion, but when my wife went up to take it last week she told me that she couldn't find the stations where the wine was served. I thought she just must have missed it and so yesterday I told her to just follow the crowd (sometimes that actually is good advice!) and surely she'd find it. Well, she didn't. It turns out that this particular church does not serve the wine at all!

My first instinct was to say, "This can't be; this is wrong!" I also knew that they wouldn't do this unless it was permitted, so last night I looked up the rules, which can be found here on the Vatican website. The particular rule is in paragraph 102 and states:

"The chalice should not be ministered to lay members of Christ’s faithful where there is such a large number of communicants[189]that it is difficult to gauge the amount of wine for the Eucharist and there is a danger that “more than a reasonable quantity of the Blood of Christ remain to be consumed at the end of the celebration”.[190] The same is true wherever access to the chalice would be difficult to arrange, or where such a large amount of wine would be required that its certain provenance and quality could only be known with difficulty, or
wherever there is not an adequate number of sacred ministers or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion with proper formation, or where a notable part of the people continues to prefer not to approach the chalice for various reasons, so that the sign of unity would in some sense be negated."

I've been trying to figure out which of the exceptions this church is following. It is a very large congregration (and its going to get even larger if the number of children is any indication - this is a group that seems to take Catholic teachings on birth control seriously), so maybe they are concerned about the amount of wine required, but I've been to similarly sized Catholic churches that have served the wine. Perhaps they are worried about the access to the cup, since it is a relatively narrow church physically, but they manage to get everyone up front to receive the bread (did I mention that they also kneel?). The one explanation that I've considered (and rejected) is that communion takes a long time just with the bread and maybe they are just doing this to speed things along. In short, I can't quite figure out why they don't serve the wine.

But while I now know that the rules permit it, I return to my first instincts, which is that there is something wrong with this. I'm curious as to what others think about this. Have you ever experienced this? Even if it is allowed, do your instincts rebel against this in the same way as mine do?

James Cameron wants to sink Christianity

Time magazine is reporting that James Cameron, the director of the Titanic, is producing a documentary in which he claims that he has discovered the body of Jesus. I suppose we should take his claims seriously, but it is hard for me to take seriously anyone who gave me the three hours of sentimental dreck with Leo as the star. Of course, he IS also responsible for the Terminator series, so I guess I owe him a little respect...

No word yet as to whether Kate Schori has offered to narrate the documentary. (always good to get the snark out of me early in the morning)

Update: CNN has this report, which has a little bit more from scholars who think the claim is bogus. It is worth noting that there has long been a market for false antiquities in the Holy Land and some forgers have gotten very good at it...

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Weird, but....

"How Guatama became Catholic:" here.


Great Idea for Lenten Reading: The Long Road to Hope

For those of us who know and love Jennie Dangers, her new book- The Long Road to Hope-is out and available for all to enjoy!!!! - for those of us who have yet to meet this amazing woman: Jennie is a college friend who lives in Luwero, Uganda. She works on staff for the children's center for Ugandan orphans and young people that her parents founded almost thirty years ago; her family carved their ministry out of the Ugandan bush, on the killing fields of the former civil wars, and have made a little piece of Heaven available to "their" Ugandan children. I have spent a lot of time at the New Hope Children's Center, and I love it there. The children live and grow in family groups and recieve some of the best classical Christian education available in Africa; at night, when you walk among the huts of family groups doing chores and getting ready for bed in the amazing African starlight, you can always hear the sound of happy children playing drums and singing praises to God.

So Jennie's book is the story of her family's work with God to nurture His children and thereby change a nation. This would be an amazing book to recommend to young people (and especially young women!) who are interested in exploring a vocation to ministry or foreign missions.

The Long Road to Hope is available here. (All the profits from the book go towards career development programs and scholarship funds for the New Hope young people)


Friday, February 23, 2007

Pray for the Persecuted Church: Iraq and Iran

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


Apparently Churches in Iraq are slowly but surely going underground; Sister Olga Yacob, foundress of The Missionaries of the Virgin Mary, and staff at The Newman Center at Boston University, reports that in her home near Kirkuk, faithful Christians must never drive their cars to church in order to avoid identification, and that Mass schedules must be alternated to occur at different times each week, in order to avoid becoming targets.


Episodes of Christians being tortured by Iranian police are available at The Intercessors Network.

An Iranian convert to Christianity was kidnapped last week from his home in northeastern Iran and stabbed to death, his bleeding body thrown in front of his home a few hours later. Ghorban Tori, 50, was pastoring an independent house church of convert Christians in Gonbad-e-Kavus, a town just east of the Caspian Sea along the Turkmenistan border. Within hours of the November 22 murder, local secret police arrived at the martyred pastor’s home, searching for Bibles and other banned Christian books in the Farsi language. By the end of the following day, the secret police had also raided the houses of all other known Christian believers in the city.
According to one informed Iranian source, during the past eight days representatives of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) have arrested and severely tortured 10 other Christians in several cities, including Tehran...

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

The Musem of Biblical Art- at Yale!

For any readers and friends up around New Haven (and certainly for people interested in Biblical matters, art lovers, etc.), an open invitation to an interesting event for the Museum of Biblical Art, hosted by Fr. Bob Beloin at St. Thomas More Chapel at Yale, at 7 pm on Tuesday, March 6.

There will be a reception following a lecture by Museuam Director Ena Heller, in which she will discuss famous Christian imagery and sources in the Bible.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Because we are but men

"We are but men; and it is therefore a temptation incident to men that we should hold views at variance with the truth on any point. But to come through too great love for our own opinion, or through jealousy of our betters, even to the sacrilege of dividing the communion of the Church, and of founding heresy or schism, is a presumption worthy of the devil. But never in any point to entertain an opinion at variance with the truth is perfection found only in the angels. Since then we are men, yet forasmuch as in hope we are angels, whose equals we shall be in the resurrection, Matthew 22:30 at any rate, so long as we are wanting in the perfection of angels, let us at least be without the presumption of the devil."

Augustine, On Baptism, II.5

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Today is Ash Wednesday. In a few moments, I will walk into a peaceful church, kneel, pray, and receive my priest's thumbprint of ashes in the shape of a small cross on my forehead. He will say to me "remember, oh man, that thou art dust, and to dust you shall return." These are grim words. They are also true. And in the context of Lent, they are to me a great relief; they are the quiet reminder that my Lord and my God, in free love and compassion, also took on this dust for me.

"The prayer that accompanies the distribution of ashes comes from Genesis 3, where the divine judgment is pronounced over all human beings, who had become sinners. The divine judgment falls dark and hopeless over all: "For out of the earth you were taken; you are dust and to dust you shall return. This judgment is directed to the whole person: you are dust; the human person, therefore, and not just a part of his essence, is dust.

Dust- truly a splendid symbol. Dust, this is the image of the commonplace. There is always more than enough of it! One fleck is as good as the next, and all are nameless. It is the symbol of indifference; what does it matter whether it is this dust or that dust? It is all the same. Dust is the symbol of nothingness, because it lies around so loosely. Dust is the symbol of coming to nothing; it has no content, no form, no shape, is nowhere at home.

But God speaks to us: you- the whole of you- are dust. We are always in the process of dying. We are the beings who set our course for death, clearly and inexorably. And through our practical experience we come to realize this.

Dust doubtlessly has an inner relationship, if not an essential identity, with another concept of the Old and New Testaments: the concept of "flesh," the concept of the whole human being. It designates the whole person precisely in his basic otherness to God, in his frailty, in his intellectual and moral weakness, in his separation fro God, which is manifested in sin and death..

From this conclusion, however, we must understand the change that the sentence "the human person is dust" undergoes in the Christian economy of salvation. The good news of salvation rings out: "The Word became flesh." Flesh has become the hinge, the pivot of salvation. Since then, flesh designates not only the pivot and hinge of the movement into nothingness and death, but also the pivot and hinge of a movement that passes through death's nothingness and forlorness into life, into eternity, into God.

Ever since that moment, the sentence of terrifying judgment, "dust you are" is changed for the person of faith and love. The old sense is not abolished; the old sense must be endured and experienced in tears, in the bitterness of nothingness and deahth, in evil and dying, in the bitterness of limitations. But the downward motion of the believer, the descent with Christ into the dust of the earth, has become an upward motion, an ascent above the highest heavens. Christianity does not set us free from the flesh and dust, nor does it bypass flesh and dust; it goes right through flesh and dust. And that is why the expression "dust you are" is still applicable to us; rightly understood, it is a complete expression of our life.

When on Ash Wednesday we hear the words "remember you are dust" we are told then that we are brothers and sisters of the incarnate Lord. We are told everything that we are: nothingness that has been filled with eternity; death that teems with life; futility that redeems; dust that is God's life forever."

- Karl Rahner, Dust You Are

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What I'm Doing for Lent

A few years ago, I received an 11th century bronze Byzantine cross much like the one pictured above; and ever since, I have taken it from its box at Lent to wear every day until Easter.
This little cross is a thousand years old. Over highways and byways and seaways, it made its way from its provenance in Cyprus to a British jewelry shop- and when I wear it, with it glaring explicitly from my neck to make any instance of sin quite embarrassing, I remember that this is Lent, that Lent is the journey of a pilgrim over highways and byways, to the promised Resurrection of the Crucified Lord, in whose rising I hope for my own.
Lent is the time when Christians prepare to celebrate Christ's Resurrection for all the world to see. Lent is the time when we vividly recall that in His resurrection, our world cannot remain our home; rather, we are set at our baptism on a journey to His home. Lent is the time of pilgrims, who eat pilgrim food, endure a pilgrim's discomforts, think pilgrim thoughts of a soft and familiar home left far behind, of hard climbs ahead for the sake of arriving at the promised Kingdom where the Lord reigns who has conquered our death.
I am a Lenten pilgrim too, with my far-traveled cross around my neck. In the journey ahead, I will do what such pilgrims do- I won't be eating the sweet things that sojourners find on their tables. I won't be drinking the wines and spirits which become deadly at high altitudes. I will be far, far away from my daily dose of NPR and CNN, and so I will only have beautiful music to fill my ears and songs to sing to my Savior. Needing to streamline my burden for the journey, I will show up for an honest and thorough confession very soon, I will pay my parking tickets and take up the disciplines that have been lacking in my life, awaiting re-awakening. I will ask frequent forgiveness of my friends and family. Having only the sky to search as I tread my hiking trail, I will meditate on the healing virtues which can be mine through the grace of God. And because I travel this route with a pack of fellow pilgrims, both present and gone before, I will be following their time-honored example; on Fridays I will fast, I will remembering the Passion of our Lord on my rosary, I will stay put for extra hours of intercessory prayer for the people I love. ...And that will be my journey. Pray with me.

Monday, February 19, 2007


"Clearly, a Scripture torn loose from its religious matrix will inevitably be different from that same Scripture hedged about by rituals and rules, conventions and approved commentaries. Such a Scripture will become the Scripture of its context."

- Eric J. Sharpe

The Plan: to think, to imagine, to talk, to think some more, to think about talking, etc.

Anglo-Catholics are excited today. Habemus a Document and Dialogue, etc. etc. going on about plans for sad Anglicans to run to Rome- which, in the proper context, is as happy and consoling a prospect as Running Home to Mother ever was.

Fr. Christopher of Our Lady of the Atonement was the first Anglican priest to convert to Rome and thereafter establish an Anglican Use RC parish under John Paul II. He is a gentle and sober pioneer- a good one to ask about such tantalizing prospects. He says:

"It’s one of those things that would be amazing if it were true. Headlines are all over the place today in newspapers and on web news sites: “Churches back plan to unite under Pope.” The claim is that “senior bishops” (whatever that means) have agreed on proposals which would unite Anglicans and Roman Catholics. The media make it sound as though it will take place at the snap of the fingers and everyone will live happily ever after. If only. When we read a little deeper we find that a forty-two page report published by the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission states within it, “Anglicans and Roman Catholics are urged to explore how they might reunite under the Pope.” So apparently there is no actual “plan” to back, more like a “plan to explore.” And that would be very nice.

It’s a sad fact that Anglicanism is disintegrating faster than a sand castle at high tide. The American expression of Anglicanism, the Episcopal Church, is led by a Gnostic woman who can’t quite decide what Jesus came to do. The Archbishop of Canterbury is trying to hold together some seventy million people with no single accepted teaching about anything.’s silly to think there is some “plan” providing a way for corporate reunion. It’s a matter of the conversion of individual hearts and lives, and headlines such as the ones we are seeing today don’t help. They give a false sense of hope to those who might be on the verge of returning to the Church, and they add fuel to the anti-Catholic bitterness of those who would rather drink poison than “submit to Rome.”

The whole post is here.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Theology of the Body: Top 20 of "Best Group Blogs"

... at the 2007 Catholic Blog Awards. Tee-hee. I had no idea we had been nominated.

We came in slightly under our friends at "Shrine of the Holy Whapping" (the winners) and "Evangelical Catholicism" (the worthiest of contendors, in my opinion)

Congrats: Fathers, Brothers, and commentors!

Sometimes I call this 'a humble blog...'

An Anglican Communion Interim Arrangement

... To be precise, The Anglican Communion Institute has a PROPOSAL FOR AN INTERIM ARRANGEMENT WHILE AWAITING A CONCILIAR COMMUNION COVENANT. Read the whole thing here.

The proposal is for 1) discipline of the Episcopal Church, 2) some sort of partitioned-off grouping of various conservative entities on an interim basis, and 3) an orderly "covenant process" that will eventually cause a permanent re-ordering ...or "reconciliation." (?)

What Various Parties have sought in long-term and in a permanent fashion -- the creation of "constituent" and "associate" levels of "Anglicans," with constituent members being in communion within the Anglican Communion -- the ACI proposal seeks to do in a provisional fashion within TEC until the covenant process has been completed.

Uncomfortable Critiques, Mental Reservations, Etc.:

1. The authors appear to place trust in "some form of agreed negotiated settlement with the Presiding Bishop/815/HOB, etc."

2. The proposal asks those parishes which have left TEC recently and come under the oversight of an overseas bishop -- to "continue to give financially to those from whom they have distanced themselves."

3. The authors hold that "those provinces currently ‘holding’ departed parishes "to "transfer their parishes to the college for them to exercise jurisdiction and arrange oversight in the manner described above. They would refuse to ‘receive’ any other parishes and instead direct them to affiliation with the college." - This at a time when conservative parishes are generally leaving ECUSA not because they do not agree with their bishop, but because they have made the theological determination that the Episcopal church is likely "too far gone" to actually be a church at all, and they do not wish to be connected with it.

- Quoting generously from Sarah Hey, Stand Firm, HT T19, etc.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Global South Seven Refuse Eucharist

Archbishop Peter Akinola: "No comment" for reporters.

A number of the Global South Primates have not shared in the Holy Eucharist today with their fellow primates. They include Abp. Peter Akinola, Abp John Chew, Abp. Benjamin Nzimbi, Abp Justice Akrofi, Abp. Henry Orombi, Abp. Gregory Venables, and Abp. Emmanuel Kolini. They represent more than 30 million faithful Anglicans. They have released this statement:

"We each take the celebration of the Holy Eucharist very seriously. This deliberate action is a poignant reminder of the brokenness of the Anglican Communion. It makes clear that the torn fabric of the Church has been torn further. It is a consequence of the decision taken by our provinces to declare that our relationship with The Episcopal Church is either broken or severely impaired.

"Scripture teaches that before coming to sit with one another at the Lord's Table we must be reconciled. (Matthew 5:23-26 and 1 Corinthians 11:27-29) We have made repeated calls for repentance by The Episcopal Church and its leadership with no success. We continue to pray for a change of heart.

"We are unable to come to the Holy Table with the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church because to do so would be a violation of Scriptural teaching and the traditional Anglican understanding, 'Ye that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith' (Book of Common Prayer).

"This is a painful decision for us and also for our host and brother, the Most Rev’d Donald Mtetemela. He understands our painful dilemma and accepts our decision. Pray for the Church."

...When I heard some people saying, 'if I dont find it in the original documents, I don't believe it,' I answered them, 'but it is written there.' To my mind it is Jesus Christ who is the original document. The inviolable archives are His cross and death and His Resurrection, and the faith that came by Him. It is by these things that I want to be justified."

- St. Ignatius of Antioch, A.D. 80.

Pray for the Children of Sierra Leone

Appropos a recent viewing of Blood Diamond, and the proximity of our Anglican Bishops now convening in Tanzania: Sr. Tiziana of Apostles of the Interior Life informs me of the plight of hundreds of child soldiers kidnapped and forced into military service under drug-induced mind control in Sierra Leone.

Pray for the work of the Church and her missionaries in Sierra Leone on behalf of these children. Perhaps The invisible Children's project will take up their cause along with the plight of the little ones of Northern Uganda...

Top Ten Songs for a Tentative Saturday Morning...


1) Allegría Gipsy Kings
2) Feelin' The Same Way Norah Jones
3) Light Enough to Travel The Be Good Tanyas
4) Solo Por Tí Gipsy Kings
5) O sonno The Hilliard Ensemble
6) Fugue Bach
7) Cry Freedom Dave Matthews Band
8) Just a Closer Walk with Thee Garrison Keillor & the Hopeful Gospel Quartet
9) Eple (Original Edit) Royksopp
10) Crucify Tori Amos

Rules for this meme:
Open up iTunes. Start a new Smart Playlist. Select 10 songs at random with live updating. Here's the trick I figured out. Go to the view menu and only show "Artist." Then, if you select all the tracks and hit delete, it will give you a new list of songs. Copy and past your list in the comments.

Friday, February 16, 2007

News Flashes

... I have just learned about this great blog for coverage of the Primates meeting in Tanzania: have any of you checked out...

EpiScope: Looking Over the Episcopal Church-? It looks pretty hot.

The latest this morning is that today "seven conservative Anglican leaders refused Friday to take Holy Communion with the head of the U.S. branch of the church." As anticipated. More here.

Thanks to Pseduo-Polymath for the tip.

Case in Point- Christians and Homosexuality

Friends just returned from a friend's Episcopal ordination in CT last week. The presiding bishop? Bishop Gene, divorced partner to a gay relationship. His partner was with him. As part of the ordination homily, Bishop Gene regaled the assembled congregation with tales of their plans plans to proceed on to the Sundance Film Festival together.

Apparently the good Bishop stars in a Sundance-celebrated documentary about practicing homosexuals in the Church, which was produced to be shown to Sunday school children. You can enjoy a clip for yourself here, courtesy of Netscape.

In contrast to such shennanigans, the RC Church's statement on chastity and homosexuality goes as follows below; as usual, Rome provides us with a most comprehensive and Biblical treatment, which piques our curiosity in these days of Anglican debate.

"Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction towards persons of the same sex. it has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity (Genesis 19:1-29, Romans 1:24-27, I Corinthians 6:10, I Timothy 1:10), tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, and by the support of friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2357-2359.

(This author's most long-winded musings to date- occasioned by the film Brokeback Mountain-are available here)

Is it enough...

The full text of the Report of the Communion Sub-Group on the Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report re all things Same Sex is available here, thanks to Stand Firm in Faith.

Overheard: "If he wants to destroy the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury could not have chosen a more effective method than this sort of communique." Fr. WB points out, in a more moderate tone, that the Report's representation of attitudes on the ground towards the blessing of same sex unions, etc., "fails to reflect the reality of life in the Episcopal Church."

What do you think?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

This time next week

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 21. We go till Sunday, April 8, in drawing closer to our crucificed and risen Savior.

How are you planning to keep a holy Lent this year? ...I'm still thinking about it...

Our Belief III: It's Just So Obvious...

Modern philosophers agree that the principle of evidentialism- the assertion that belief can only be justified if it can be verified by empirical experiment or sense experience (as in, "I'll believe it only when I see it") -is self-referentially incoherent. That is, such a principle is not self-evident, nor evident to human senses, nor empirically verifiable.

Philosophers such as Alvin Plantinga go on to say that belief in God can be properly basic, or "foundational"- that is, belief in God can be justified without being supported by other propositions. "Proper basicality" is a relative thing; that is, certain beliefs are properly basic in certain circumstances. If I am walking in a garden the belief that “I see a tree” would be properly basic, but if I am sitting in the living room with my eyes closed, it would not be reasonably basic. For humanity alive in the world, the belief that there is a Creator God is properly basic, given our surroundings, and the fact of our religious experience. Religious experience can properly provide the philosophically defensible “ground” for justifying our acceptance of a particular belief. Plantinga calls such an experience “a justifying circumstance.”

Furthermore, one can say, “God has so created us that we have a tendency or disposition to see his hand in the world around us.” Humanity experiences guilt, gratitude, a sense of God’s presence, and a sense that He speaks. These experiences justify such beliefs as “God is speaking to me,” “God has created all this,” or “God forgives me.” Plantinga says, it is these “basic” propositions that then “self-evidently entail that God exists.”

- From Alvin Plantinga, University of Notre Dame

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Woman among Equals: Bishop Schori Faces the Primates

I have heard a strange rumor that the Primates of the Anglican Communion might not permit The Episcopal Church's Bishop Schori to sit with them in their meeting this week in Tanzania, thereby implicating her Questionable Morals and the validity of her orders.

As a woman, I feel for Bishop Schori as she faces this risk and the risk of many other gestures of approbation from her colleagues this week; to be shunned in their midst would be humiliating at least. The occasion of being publicly rebuffed by spiritual fathers is the kind of thing that women should be protected from. It strikes me in stark relief that with all the flack Bishop Schori gets from we conservatives, a double sense of responsibility for women's behavior should emerge in all of the Church's men. You see, it seems to me that the great women of the Church have followed men into places of great service and leadership. Scholastica followed Benedict; Claire followed Francis. Mary followed her Son. On some level, Katherine Schori has also followed the men who formed her into her current role, beliefs, and behaviors. At some point, it would have been a respected priest, a deacon, a professor, or a father who told her that the great practices of the Church do not really matter, that the commands of God are relative to their contexts, that the divinity of Christ is a little suspect.

I was reflecting on point about women's ordination in general this past summer, following Schori's election as Primate. Here is that resurrected post, below.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saint Valentine

Behold, what manner of love our God has given unto us...
I John

The stories are many, and all of them beautiful: the legend has it that the first "valentine" was a message sent from one Christian prisoner to another, indicating that the one would die in the place of his friend.

Dawn Eden on Chastity...

"From as far back as I can remember, I wanted to be married. I also had the feeling that I would be happiest if I reserved sex for marriage. This was confirmed for me once I lost my virginity. Having sex with men who were not married to me who would go all the way physically but not emotionally hurt me inside.

It hurt me, because I keenly felt the intense intimacy of the act that I was synchronizing my every motion and breath to that of my boyfriend, letting him get as close to me as was physically possible, literally under my skin. Such intimacy was painful when I knew that my boyfriend could, if he wanted, easily walk out the door afterwards and be out of my life and I could do the same if I chose.

No matter what people say about marriage not being certain — and I'm well aware of that because of the failure of my own parents' union — a sexual relationship outside of marriage, when either partner can walk away with complete impunity, is infinitely less secure.

The physical vulnerability I experienced in sexual intimacy was intolerable when coupled with the risk of rejection. So I created a dichotomy, to protect myself. The more I would open myself up physically to a man, the more I would harden myself emotionally, closing myself off in order to stay in control and not get hurt.

I told myself that I could always open myself up as the relationship progressed, once I felt secure. But that never happened and the very act of emotional detachment only made me less capable of sharing the love that I fervently wanted to experience.

Avoiding sex was out of the question, and not just because I enjoyed it. I believed that no man would marry me unless he had sex with me first.

For a man to forgo sex until he and I exchanged vows, he would have to love me so much that he would seek my greater good. I did not believe that any man would do that, because I did not believe a man would see anything in me that would be more important to him than his own sexual desire. My intrinsic value, I thought, was dependent upon my being willing to put out sans vows.

That all changed after I became a Christian at age 31 and began to explore chastity."

From National Review Online.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Guest Post: Fr. WB on Anglican Current Events

Although most of our readers are Anglican young people and clergy, I thought it would be helpful to have a synopsis from an expert on the topic of current Anglican deliberations, particularly in this week of the Anglican Primates' meeting in Tanzania. For those who are of other traditions, NB that the Anglican Communion is- at this very moment- dealing most publicly and theologically with some of the most poignant issues of our generation. Anglican current events are worth your attention and your prayers. Fr. WB refers us to the blogs Stand Firm and Titusonenine for news roundups and links, and Lent and Beyond for devotional commentaries, guides, etc., for those interested in following the news from the Primates' Meeting and from the Anglican Communion in general. Now- here is our friend and mentor, Fr. WB on point-

Hello friends. For those of you interested in Anglicanism and what's going on in the Anglican World:

Right now there is taking place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the triennial "Primates' Meeting" wherein the chief pastors of the 39 Anglican provinces worldwide (of which the Episcopal Church is one -- and a small one) meet to consider this and that, and to express the mind of the Anglican Communion on various matters. Noramlly they might discuss such things as the problems of poverty or AIDS, or to discuss mission initiatives, etc. etc.

The lion's share of this meeting, however, will be given to discussing what to do with the Episcopal Church in the USA, which has departed from the Anglican Communion's moral teaching on sexuality by raising to the office of bishop a man who divorced his wife and is living openly in an unchaste relationship with another man, and by permitting its dioceses to authorize the "blessing" of same-gender sexual relationships.

The Episcopal Church's actions have precipitated a crisis in the Anglican Communion around the issues of inter-dependence and autonomy, and of what it means for Anglican provinces in different parts of the world meaningfully to share a common life or a common faith. Many, and perhaps most, of the chief pastors of the 39 Provinces are of a mind that if the Episcopal Church wishes to act unilaterally, then it should be set free of the rest of the Communion, so that all may pursue what appear to be mutually exclusive agendas and mandates.

This has all been playing out in accute ways for the past four years, and seems to be reaching a crisis point, perhaps this week.

Lastly, I would urge all of you to say a prayer for the Primates of the Anglican Communion, that they would be given wisdom, humility, and charity. Pray especially for Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the "first among equals" among the primates, and on whom therefore falls a disproportionate weight and responsibility. This is a critical time for the Anglicanism in terms of Biblical witness. Pray that grace would abound, that unity in truth would obtain, "so that the world may know" that Jesus is Lord (John 17.23).

Monday, February 12, 2007

Word on the Street in Rome

... or, at least over cocktails with Gesu Jesuits following Vespertini at St. Anselmo last night... Archbishops, Poland, etc. Read about it here, if you have not already. (EVERYONE in Roma reads Rocko's blog...)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

And She's Off- Again

I am off to spend the weekend in Rome.
This is crazy.

For those of you who have expressed anxiety about my travel schedule (and consequently, about the state of my soul), let me reassure you with a brief apologia and a few of my reasons...

1) Airport Apostolate. I swear I have one. DO YOU KNOW how many people are more open to talking about spiritual things and hearing about the Gospel while in transit? Our Lord puts me to work on almost every flight, with very nice results, except when I am just too tired. Then He lets me sleep.

2) Student Universe. Anyone remotely affiliated with education (as a student or a teacher) is eligible for drastically reduced airfares from this amazing website. I never fly without booking with them. They are great because they sell seats that are pre-reserved by the airlines for students; thus you can purchase these seats at any time before your flight, and the routes are often direct between major cities- no crazy going to NYC through Amsterdam or anything like that. Check them out.

Also, I have not actually stayed in a hotel on any of my personal trips in years; this means that if you are staying abroad with a friend, or in an apartment shared with friends, and cooking for yourself most of the time, you can afford to be in Europe for a total cost of just a few hundred dollars. And in my line of work, can I afford NOT to go?-

3) Girl friends who are studying abroad need company. The children that we hope to have someday need to hear great stories. And I need to keep up with international news for the International Institution that I work with.

So I'm off! Saints Peter and Paul...

PS. For a great read on "Essential Travel for Theologians," see the post written at the excellent Faith and Theology blog. I also fondly remember reading Peregrinator's description of his journey to Rome last year. That trip precipitated his subsequent conversion, I heard...

Our Belief II: It's More Probable Than Not

Modern philosophers assure Christians that our belief is valid because our belief can be inductively supported by ample evidence.

In contrast to valid deductive arguments, wherein the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises, inductive arguments are those wherein the premises, taken together, simply and modestly make the conclusion more probable than not. In the inductive line of reasoning, the crucial issue is whether all the available arguments taken together, qua “all we know about the world,” cumulatively make it "probable" that God exists.

In terms of the probability calculus commonly known as "Bayes Theorem," belief in God can be expressed as an explanatory hypothesis which explains the existence of a variety of phenomena by showing that it is probable that they are the effects of the action of a personal agent who brings them about for certain intentions and purposes.

Philosophers have concluded that in light of the cumulative evidence, the proposition “God exists” is more probable than not- or, that the probability that God exists is greater than ½, given the evidence of human experience interpreted against the simplest hypothesis- the simplest hypothesis always being preferable.

The various occurent phenomena in our universe are such that the existence of God makes them more probable and more expected than if there were no God. Furthermore, religious experience, interpreted in light of the Principle of Credulity, (i.e., start with trust until you have reason to do otherwise) tips the balance of probability in favor of God's existence. Given that God's existence is already shown to be not improbable even apart from considerations of religious experience, it follows that in light of religious experience, we may conclude that the probability that God's existence is greater than ½.

In Short: theism is philosophically justifiable because of...

i. Its explanatory power- theism can explain almost anything!
ii. Its intrinsic probability- theism is a very simple solution!
iii. Its completeness as an explanation- (Why? Wherefore? - "God." - Enough said).
iv. Its provision of an ultimate explanation that is sufficiently expansive in scope. - Ditto.

- From Richard Swinburne, Oxford University

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Vocational Advice

Promise God that you will quit the whole thing if you start to lose your joy.

Do not ever pursue your work over someone you love (hell is seeing this
too late, among other things).

Don't get so serious about the battles that you cannot have fun, laugh, and play in the midst of the pressures. "The devil fell from the force of gravity," said G.K. Chesterton.

- From a friend.

The Way We Were

I hear so often from various fronts that the Church was "originally intended," from the beginning, to be an organic fellowship of believers, localized and self-governing, a democracy of individuals answering directly to Christ. - The idea is that the "monarchial" forms of church government- which we associate in post-Reformation times with the Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, and Orthodox communions- somehow "distorted" God's original intent for His people. The Reformation urged us to get back to the original, pure, unsullied "communal house church" and forget about the distorted "clericalism" and "procedures" of monarchial popery.

The problem is that when we do go back to enquire into the original modus operendi... way, way back to those Sources who walked with Peter, James, and John, and who may have actually known Christ in the flesh- we do not find any such notions as that of the localized presbytery. Instead, we find an irrefutable hierarchy of bishops, who represented Christ to the congregation, who were to be obeyed, and who answered- at least in spirit- to Rome. If we judge from three authoritative sources all dating to before AD 200, we see that the early Church believed the following:

1. That the institutionalized gathering of the Christian community was essential to the Christian life- not only for the glory of God, but for protection from Satan. Furthermore, refusal to submit to the Church jeapordized the Christian's salvation.

Meet together frequently in your search for what is good for your souls, for in the final days multitudes of false prophets and seducers will appear. Sheep will turn into wolves, and love into hatred…” (Didache, AD 50) “Try to gather more frequently to celebrate God’s Eucharist and to praise Him. For when you meet with frequency, Satan’s powers are overthrown and his destructiveness is undone by the unanimity of your faith...Where the pastor is, there follow like sheep. For there are many specious wolves who… capture those who run God’s race...If anyone is not inside the sanctuary, he lacks God's bread. Be on your guard; .... inside the sanctuary a man is pure; outside he is impure. whoever does anything without the bishop... does not have a clear conscience." (Ignatius, AD 50-117)

2. That the unbroken succession of the clergy from the original twelve Apostles, and the unbroken succession of the Apostle's teaching- ensconsed in "tradition" in the absence of a Canon of Scripture- was Christianity's strongest witness to the reality of Christ and the validity of the Gospel, and was also Christianity's strongest defense against the lies of the Devil:

"But, again, when we refer the heretics to that tradition which originates from the apostles, and which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the Apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition. It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own time. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth." (Irenaeus, AD 130-202)

3. That the Bishop juridically represented the people to God, and God to the people; as such, the bishop was to be honored and obeyed as God's authorized representative.

I hasten to urge you to harmonize your actions with God’s mind. For Jesus Christ- that life from which we cannot be torn- is the Father’s mind, as the bishops too, appointed the world over, reflect the mind of Jesus Christ. Hence you should act in accord with the bishop’s mind, as you surely do… wherefore, your accord and harmonious love is a hymn to Jesus Christ…thus He will heed you… therefore you need to abide in irreproachable unity if you really want to be God’s members forever. Let us then heartily avoid resisting the bishop so that we may be subject to God. Everyone the Master of the House sends on His business, we ought to receive as the One who sent him.”(Ignatius, To the Ephesians)..."you ought to respect (your bishop) as fully as you respect the authority of God the Father.” (Ignatius, to the Magnesians)...“When you obey the bishop as if he were Jesus Christ, you are living not in a merely human fashion but in Jesus Christ’s way… it is essential therefore to act in no way without the bishop…if we live in union with him now, we shall gain eternal life.” (Ignatius, To the Trallians)

4. That in some sense, the supreme authority of the bishop, as God's representative, derived in a special way from the church at Rome.

"Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; we do this, I say, by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also by pointing out the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those faithful men who exist everywhere. Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man depositing his money in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers." (Irenaeus, Against the Heretics)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Urgently Needed Suggestions

Friends- I know a dear couple who have given their lives ministering to death row inmates in Texas. Today, I just get off the phone with this dear couple. The husband is dying of cancer, and is in a lot of pain. What came up in our conversation was their interest in locating encouraging, comforting texts on Christian death to read together in preparation for his own death.

If any of you have any suggestions, please post them in the comments as soon as possible. Your suggestions will doubtless reach many more. Thanks.

Monday, February 05, 2007

"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood:" Christian Cannibalism?

A beloved anthropology professor made the claim last week that on accounts of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, "Christians practice cannibalism." So I had to put the following together from various sources. With all due respect, it is astounding what we academics get away with. Anti-Christianity slurs are the New Colonialism...

Is the Christian Eucharist “Cannibalism?”

What is the Eucharist? 
In the Catholic Eucharistic celebrations Christ’s Body is truly and “substantially” present, not in a natural way but in supernatural, miraculous way. The Eucharist of the Mass is the same occurrence as that of the Last Supper, where Christ changed the substance of the bread and wine, but not its form, into His flesh and blood. So, the form of the Eucharist, which does not change, is bread and wine.; but the essential substance of these elements becomes Christ Himself.

What is cannibalism? 
Cannibalism is to eat human flesh as food. In the case of cannibalism, the form of the consumed food is the flesh and or blood of one’s own species. But since the form of the Eucharist is neither human flesh nor blood it cannot be cannibalism.

Catholics eat the flesh of Christ and drink his blood in a sacramental way, not in a natural, physical way. It would have been cannibalism if a disciple two thousand years ago had tried literally to eat Jesus by sinking his teeth into his arm. This is not the account of the Last Supper. And Christians believe that our Lord is now in heaven, with a glorified body, which is “made present” under the appearance of bread and wine in the Eucharist. He is really and sacramentally present, but He is not physically present in the way that humans can be physically present to one another. Rather, Jesus is “substantially” and “miraculously” present in the bread and the wine. Furthermore, the action of eating and drinking effects only the properties of the bread and the wine, and not the properties of Christ’s humanity and divinity that are contained within them.

Jefferts Schori is as conversant on squids as on Scripture.

"The church's laws are broad but they are there, and beyond these lines you cannot go. Crossing boundaries has consequences."

- Katherine Jefferts Schori, 2/5/07.


Read the whole sad thing from USA Today's interview of today, Feb 5, "Episcopal church's new dawn," here. The good woman always leaves me so confused. But then, I am just a girl.

All bets are on regarding those of the African bishops who will a) speak to the primatess b) remain in the same room with her or c) listen to what she has to tell them about Dealing With Poverty and Sex! in their own countries at the upcoming gathering in Tanzania... I volunteer to play bookie.


Did anyone hear the popularly modified review of Modern Femminist Readings of the Tradition on NPR today? The commentator and Terry Grosse were hard at work going over the implications of Paul's commending a WOMAN in Romans 16: "Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was." Etc. So the conclusion is that Paul actually thought that women had worth and dignity and a place in the life of the Church- Amazing! Show stopper.

See a similar review from NPR here:

(THIS blonde theology student listened closely and then muttered, "oh brother, like, duh...")

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Of Corpses and Babies

With court approval, Israeli parents are using their dead son's sperm to inseminate a woman he never knew. It appears to be the first explicit legal authorization to make a baby using a corpse and a stranger. Argument from the dead man's mother: "He would always talk about how he wanted to get married and have children." After he died, "His eyes he told me that it wasn't too late, and that there was still something to take from him. … Then I realized it was his sperm." The family's lawyer says more than 100 Israeli soldiers have reportedly signed "biological wills" asking to freeze their sperm if they die while serving; some U.S. troops have frozen sperm samples before going to Iraq. Lawyer's spin: "We've created a victory over nature." More here. HT: Scott Brown Online.

Uh-huh. Yup. You could make a tear jerking movie about this stuff. However.

As I read this, I could not help but think that THIS is the sort of situation where the Church rests a cool hand on our feverish attempts to conquer our own mortality and our own fears- as though, in speaking for her Savior, she would say to us at such junctures, "remember who you are."

We are not baby machines. Children are not the machinations of our technological prowess. Babies properly incarnate the holiness of a vital marital union.

CF: "A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The supreme gift of marriage is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged "right to a child" would lead. (Thus) techniques involving a married couple and homologous artifical insemination are morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that entrusts the life and the identity of the child into the power of doctors and scientists, and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children. These techniques infringe the child's right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage."

- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2376, 2377, 2378.


...Hello. Johnny Cash and Papa Benedetto XVI.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Joe Jones

Stanley Hauerwas, who is officially the best theologian in the USA, thinks that one of the best theologian in the modern world is in this picture. There he is 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, February 02, 2007

"For you are sent... find out the wanderers
to be for sight to those who saw not,
and medicine to the weak,
according to the truth.

...As Christ therefore did not address His questioners in accordance with their pristine notions, nor did He reply to them in harmony with their opinions, but according to the doctrine leading to salvation, without hypocrisy or respect of persons."

- Irenaeus of Lyons, AD 120.

Pray for the Persecuted Church: Vietnamese Christians

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

My mother's friend (and one of my heroes), Jill Briscoe, spends a good deal of her time meeting in secret with the Vietnamese widows of pastors who have been brutally murdered for their faith. She recently shared stories of the abuse, rape, and continued persecution which these valiant Christian women suffer. We should pray for courage, for their joy, and for their persistence in practicing the forgiveness of the Lord whom they follow. We should also pray for their safety.

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

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Our Belief I: It's Good Science

Significant modern philosophers point out that Christian belief is justifiable and credible because the claims of (reliable, verifiable) science and religion are so similar:

1. Both must employ the use of metaphor for adequate reference and depiction.
2. Both are inevitably "imprecise," and yet are reliable in their predictions and descriptions.
3. Both rely on interpretive traditions.

- Janet Martin Soskice, Cambridge University

New Faithful Archive Update

I am pleased to announce an addition at the Archive- a syllabus for a little course called "Intro to Christianity," by yours truly. It's pretty good...