Blog Template Theology of the Body: November 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

...The Solution?

(According to Irenaeus of Lyons, AD 115-190):

"Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the (true) 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 her pre- eminent authority; that is, by the faithful every- where, 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 one 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...

...Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Church with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from her what is certain and clear in regard to the present questions?"

Adversus Heresies III

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Who to Serve First

The inspiring girls at Biblical Womanhood have been going at it lately about whether charity abroad is misanthropy at home, especially for devoted stay-at- home moms. As often happens, it's been decided before:

"All persons are to be loved equally. But since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special regard to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstance, are brought into closer connection with you. For, suppose that you had a great deal of some commodity, and felt bound to give it away to somebody who had none, and that it could not be given to more than one person; if two persons presented themselves, neither of whom had either from need or relationship a greater claim upon you than the other, you could do nothing fairer than choose by lot to which you would give what could not be given to both. Just so among humanity: since you cannot consult for the good of them all, you must take the matter as decided for you by a sort of providential lot, according as each one happens, for the time being, to be more closely connected with you."

- St. Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana I.28.

The Problem, then and now

“These men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition....And their wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing…For every one of these men, being altogether of a perverse disposition, depraving the system of truth, is not ashamed to preach himself… But, again, when we refer them 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 as for themselves.”

Irenaeus of Lyons, Adversus Heresies III.2.1-2, AD 115-190.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Swinburne is in DFW

Professor Richard Swinburne of Oxford, one of this blog's favorite apologists, has been in town this week. He will be delivering a (free) lecture at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth on Thursday, November 29. His topic will be “God and Morality,” an exploration of the extent to which moral truths are independent of the will of God, and the extent to which they depend on God’s will.

A panel of TCU faculty— Dr. Richard Galvin (philosophy), Dr. David Gouwens (Brite Divinity School), and Dr. C. David Grant (religion) will respond to Dr. Swinburne’s remarks, and will be followed by audience discussion.

The talk will be at 7:30 p.m. in Sid Richardson Lecture Hall 1 on the TCU campus.

More Here.

See you there!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Suggestions Needed: How to Help a Freshman?

Ok commentors, help me out. I from time to time hang out with a closely related young man who is plugging through his first semester of college. To my huge rejoicing, he recently confided that "he would like for me to make a devotional for him." Awww. What does he have in mind? It's obvious: prayers and Scripture passages for self esteem.

(Now is not the time for anyone to roll their eyes about psycho babble infiltrating catholic theology... this is such a cry of the modern kid's heart). Does anyone have any ideas of what to include in his personalized devotional?

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Motherland: Effectively a Pagan Nation?

Thanks to one of our readers for giving me the nudge on this fascinating article in the NYT, excerpted below. I especially like the reference to the Thatcher cabinet's political theology, which accords completely with sentiments that the Lady expressed in correspondance with yours truly a while ago. Enough for people getting misty-eyed about the possibilities of a national church. And by the way, what's the deal with the BBC's reporting about yesterday's protests at Oxford?...

From the NYT:

The authoritative Catholic paper The Tablet of London now writes that, some time before Christmas, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair will at last be received into the Roman Catholic Church by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

The historical resonances and political overtones of this are as significant as the event itself — which also illustrates again the great trans-Atlantic gulf. Not only are the English now a notably irreligious people; in striking contrast to America, religion plays no part in British political life.

(Blair) is set far apart from his compatriots. When an interviewer once tried to raise the question of faith, Mr. Blair’s press officer, Alastair Campbell, snapped, “We don’t do God,” and on that occasion at least he was quite right.

By contrast with the United States, whose First Amendment prohibits any establishment of religion, there is a Church of England “by law established,” with the queen as its supreme governor. And yet, while polls indicate that nearly half of Americans go to church each week, services of this established church are now regularly attended by fewer than 2 per cent of the English population, while the total for all Christian churches is around 7 per cent. (Islam is another matter: Muslims attending Friday prayers in Great Britain may soon outnumber all churchgoing Christians.)

We British not only don’t do God, we are effectively a pagan nation — and that goes for our politicians. Even when England was truly Protestant, that was more in terms of hostility to Catholicism than theological precision or zeal, and to this day the public displays of piety that are normal enough in America would be embarrassing here.

No British prime minister has been a Catholic, and it would have been politically very difficult for Mr. Blair to convert when he was in office (think of Northern Ireland, apart from anything else). A neglected footnote to our history is that a majority of prime ministers for the past century were by origin Protestant Dissenters, in the old term, from outside the Church of England: H. H. Asquith grew up as a Congregationalist; David Lloyd George a Baptist; Neville Chamberlain a Unitarian; Harold Wilson and Margaret Thatcher Methodists.

More to the point, only a minority of 20th-century prime ministers were Christians as adults, having any serious personal religion. The impious majority includes Winston Churchill.

Of course, Churchill paid lip service to the outward forms — christenings, weddings and funerals in church — and he would invoke the Almighty rhetorically. But neither he nor other British pols ever made an open parade of faith, certainly not in the way that United States presidential candidates are obliged to.

And it’s very hard to imagine an American equivalent of Norman Tebbit. As cabinet minister and Conservative party chairman in the 1980s, Mr. Tebbit was one of Mrs. Thatcher’s most effective lieutenants, a tough, populist right-winger — and a self-proclaimed atheist. Even the believing prime ministers kept politics and religion separate: Harold Macmillan was a pious High Churchman, and he used to say that if the people want moral guidance they should get it from their bishops, not their politicians.

For centuries, England was certainly infused with political Protestantism, in the sense of antipathy to the Roman Church. In 1780, London was swept by the “No-Popery” Gordon Riots (see Dickens’s “Barnaby Rudge”), and in 1850 Lord John Russell tried to prevent the re-establishment of a Catholic hierarchy in England. That tradition lingered longer than you might think.

Quando Tu, Ego

(This is an ancient wedding of the instances where Roman family law really got it right)

Augustine’s favorite popular descriptor of the Christian church, as we find in his sermons, is that of a virgin bride, contracted in marriage by the conflated covenantal/inheritance structure neatly summarized in the tabulae matrimoniales. The family law of the classical Julian age required laborious negotiations between the father of the bride and the prospective son- in- law, which ultimately designated their own covenantal exchange of goods (in bride price and dowry) that culminated in the body of the bride.

While the Roman law of St. Augustine’s time excluded the bride from the commercial negotiations in anticipation of her wedding, the law expectantly required the waiting bride to signify her public and free consent to the contract arranged between her betrothed husband and father. She showed her legal consent in multiple and recurring ways.

She would have worn her betrothed’s bronze rings, symbolizing the durability and frugality of the empire that her household would constitute. She would have clasped his hand publicly, face- to- face, in symbolic declaration of fidelity. And lastly, following even the ratification of the detailed deed of purchase by which she was bestowed upon her husband at his wedding, she had to pause one last time on the threshold of her husband’s home for her final and free public act of consent to his nuptial invitation, without which no legal marriage could take place. She said Quando Tu, Ego: whenever and wherever you are, I am then and I am there… wherever you are, I am.

I think it’s a fascinating statement, linguistically. Quando is a Latinate free-for-all. The word is a potential interrogative, carrying within it a multitude of ongoing questions: Who are you?... Where are you?... Who will you become? It’s also a relative adverb, conditioned by the data of times and places beyond control, relativized by a dozen possible particles that may alter its construal in grammatical structures. And the word is also a conjunction, situated tentatively in the immediate place between all that has gone before, on the one hand, and, on the other, the moment wherein the bride pauses for breath before her final statement.

The bride's response to this tentative, broadly contingent qualifier is so simple. For herself, she must speak with the starkest clarity of a unilateral promise that stands in relation to one contingency alone and none other. She alone seals the nuptial contract with the all-consuming self-reference of the singular being verb: I am.

Amen; the nuptial covenant is complete.

Patristics scholar John Cavadini has suggested that the Fathers work in images as much as they do in concepts. They find in every image of bride and groom the vivid reality of Christ's espousal to His Church, for which human nuptials are merely the shadowy metaphor. The Fathers find the Church in Eve, in the valiant woman of Proverbs 31, in Ruth; the Church is the one who follows the Lamb wherever He goes, saying, as we have heard it before, where you dwell, I will dwell; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Augustine finds an image of the Church in every Roman bride who seals her matrimoniales with her vow upon her husband's threshold.

The far-out exegetes in my life remind us that in Scripture, the precise exchange above- where you go, I will go, the Old Testament equivalent of the Quando Tu- occurs between two women, not between a nuptial pair. But the reality is that in the Christian faith, this declaration is not so much spoken as it is finally enacted. It is the Bridegroom Himself who utters the final words of covenantal consummation. The final act of (divine) consent is completed in His own body: it is finished.

Just as Roman customary norms understood that the bride was formed into a true, mature personal agent by conformity to her husband, Augustine locates the formation of the Church as Christ’s nuptial body upon His Cross- In Christ's case, a bride was born for Him as He hung on the Cross, and the Church was made from his side. With a lance his side was struck as he hung there, and out flowed the sacraments of the Church. (Ennaratione 56.11).

The consenting, responsive ego has, of course, already been spoken. The Holy Spirit has already hovered over the first fruit of the Father’s promises to the Son, when a timid teenage girl in Nazareth paused at the threshold of her spouse’s household, and, to conclude the long series of free acts of assent made by the symbolic gestures of her ancestors, gave consent to the terms once established between the Father and the Son: may it be to me according to your word.

(Mary, of course, did not know about Roman jurisprudence. She does not speak with the merely self-referential ego of the contracted bride; she speaks with the determination of an adjudicator: Fiat. It is, after all, God who has proposed to her.)

To all who will join her first act of consent, so that with her definitive “let it be to me according to your word, wherever you go, I will go,” we simply join in: “Amen.” The door to the Father’s household has already been opened, the nuptial Covenant has been ratified, the Word has been made flesh in the body of a bride, the marriage has been consummated on the Cross, its procreative purpose is already unfolding in the weary world as we are gathered, more and more, into Christ’s embrace. Consumatum est. You know how the rest goes. It’s just a matter of time.

…But the bride no longer pauses on her husband’s threshold. It is now He who stands at the door and knocks: Quando tu, ego.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Feast of Christ the King

Alleluia, King eternal,
Lord omnipotent we own;
Alleluia, Born of Mary,
Earth Your foot-stool, heaven Your throne.

Alleluia, Not as orphans
Are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia, He is near us:
Faith believes, nor questions how.
Though the cloud from sight received Him
When the earthly days were over,
Shall our hearts forget His promise:
I am with you ever-more?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Pope in talks over Anglican converts

... "Many Anglicans are hopeful that Rome will allow groups who convert to Catholicism en masse to maintain elements of their current identity." Here.

So I've been praying for this...

Favorite Hymn Meme

... Tagged by my childhood friend Mrs. J. She has the most beautiful blog out there.

The meme requires that you name your favorite hymn and chat about why it's your pick. Hmmmm. It was Mrs. J who taught and inspired yours truly about slowly, carefully figuring out a favorite hymn on the piano until you can really belt it out; I used to do this for hours, and now frankly, I pride myself on rarely having to use a hymnal (it's an ounce of mortification). I am prone to start singing these sermons in miniature spontaneously at random places, which tends to drive present company crazy. Case in point: in Heaven, I will sing in the choir. I don't belong there now, but someday...
My criterion for selecting a favorite hymn is exactly the same as the one used for identifying a best friend. It has to resonate with that thing in your soul that wants to run to Jesus. It has to have something of His own heart within it- not platitudes, not wit, not mere morality, not mere fascination-but heartbreaking, tender, joyfully bold and unadulterated love. Friend DZ's rendition of How Deep the Father's Love for Us really does it for me. So does Before the Throne of God Above, which I hear early in the mornings- it's a theological jump-start. The Nashotah House Hymn lately reminds me exactly of what I would like for people to say about me at my funeral (you can listen to it here). And of course, the St. Michael's Hymn- Christ, the Fair Glory of the Holy Angels- is one of the most perfect theological and pastoral statements I have ever heard. I sing it whenever I need fixing.

But my favorite hymn? It's a rendition of We'll Understand it Better By and By, sung by Congolese drummers in their native Lingala. It was authored by a poor African American hymn writer in the old days. It has sheer hope in it.

By and by, when the morning comes,
When the saints of God are gathered home,
We’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome,
For we’ll understand it better by and by.

I now tag every daily reader of this blog. Answer in the comments! Don't be shy. I also tag Taylor Marshall, J-Tron, and all of the great guys at Covenant Comunion.

Can't wait to hear... What is your favorite hymn, and why?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Another Retrospect: The Inclusive Worshipper

This post was perhaps the most fun ever in 2005. Since the original Inclusive Worshipper bailed on us long ago (he/she was a spoof commentator protesting those blatantly desexualized agendas that often masquerade as theology in the Ivy League), I've copied some of the (ok, heavily edited) related comments for your essentialist viewing pleasure. Close your eyes and imagine that you are in the hallowed halls of Yale Divinity School, fresh from a chapel session on re-imagining theologies of polyamorous enactments of cryptozoology in dialogue, or something very, very similar...

4:45 PM

B said...
I am an advocate for the inclusivity and non-opressionization of those of poly-ambi-opinion.

We reserve the right to self-disclose to whom we wish, and not to those whom we do not wish. Forced self-disclosure is the height of self-imposition. It is like forcing someone to do and/or be someone or something they may or may not want to do or be. Is that clear? Equals, not nice.

Give wo/myn some space. It is not as easy for us as it is for you: member of the privileged, hegemonic, normative, self-prioritizing ouber-class. We are people too. Don't place ODDS on identity. Allow an EVEN playing field. You can afford not to take yourself too seriously. You have all the power. Fundamentalist.

I can't believe you have the nerve to blog about God/(ess) love. Extend some our way. Yeah?


5:00 PM

MM said...
As flattered as the royal We find your presence and commentary at this heteronormative space where Christ is... Lord, please bear in mind that a) this is a crap shoot and b) Inclusive Worshippers probably do not even have egos, being in such a benevolent and gendered-continuum state O'blyss.

5:18 PM

G. said...
Inclusive worshippers deserve to become the bearer of the torch of the New Humour. Even I am not willing to go to such lengths of sublimated irony. I have heard of people who really think and say such things. Now, whether or not they go to seminary on the other hand, is another thing entire.

5:55 PM

Anonymous said...
Okay, here is what I think we know for sure: the definitive Inclusive Worshipper is probably a Unitarian, has more than one partner... she went to Smith College or perhaps Swathmore, she has short brown hair, wears clothes made out of hemp, smokes, and has trouble pronouncing the letter 'r'. Okay, maybe she can pronounce the letter 'r'. But, I think she would be reluctant to take the Eucharist. Go to Chapel tomorrow, sing your show tunes, and examine who stays seated during the mass. BINGO. That's her. But stay clear...contents my explode under pressure.

6:44 PM

MM said...
I think it discredits inclusive worshippers' sense of humor to assume they are serious. And I have NEVER met a woman this funny. I aspire to it, but its a long way away.

6:45 PM

Anonymous said...
To the vindictive and closed-minded writers of the above entries,

You all should be ashamed. Inclusive worshippers are wonderful persons with arms open to the world and a heart full of non-judgmental charity. If you want to know her true identity, look into your own hearts and see the loving, free-spirited, ambi-sexual person you've always longed to be. Then you will know her. You will see her deep within yourself, in your heart. That is where the truth lies.

Your rigid categories, gender assumptions, and archaic stereo-types belong with your kind - in the neanderthal age. Inclusive worshippers fly like... birds. You wallow in the mud of your own phalic ignorance.

Show up to the charter meeting of the SPA (Seminarian's for Polyamory Awareness) this weekend. We'd love to see you there.

9:10 AM

Anonymous said...
It has got to be a worries MM...people aren't that dumb.

12:29 PM

MM said...
Inclusive worshippers, thanks for visiting! You are welcome here. I am merely EXPERIENCING you as "funny," having been conditioned to react thusly by various Male Oppressors who comment here. I was actually hoping for more womyn. Again, welcome. Make yourself at home.

ECUSA Bishop Lipscomb to enter the Catholic Church


One of those instances of real religion

My brothers and I spent our Thanksgiving afternoon by the fire talking about this article.

Apparently a coalition of Christian families in central Texas, motivated by the stats indicating that over 30,000 orphaned children die or are handed over into prostitution daily, have gotten involved in "orphan ministry-" they have begun adopting orphans. They have formed an adoption support group called Forever Families, which has placed over 100 children from four continents in several dozen families since 2003. They sometimes work in conjunction with Campus Crusade's Hope for Orphans ministry; otherwise, the founding mothers are busy recruiting families to consider adopting at-risk older children because "believers don't adopt the way the culture does." Most recently, Forever Families was faced with the significant challenge of placing 30 Ethiopian children in adoptive (white) families. Within weeks, all but one child had been adopted.

The gist of the article is that burgeoning movements such as this one "will introduce the church in North America to authentic Christianity." I totally agree. My five siblings and I figure that if we each adopt an orphan as our own someday, we will have made a sizeable dent in the problem...

Pure religion and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit the fatherless in their affliction. James 1

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

For when we go into all the world

Christ has no body now but yours-
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
With compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes-
You are His body.


- Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

They'll still want to kill embyos, but...

Friday, November 16, 2007

To heck with turkey, let them eat chicken

It's nice that everyone has turkey on their mind, but I've still got fried chicken on mine. Last week I mentioned my chicken dinner theory and pointed to a few of my favorite places in Dallas. In a breaking story, the Dallas Morning News has revealed that Babe's is opening a new restaurant in an old city hall in Cedar Hill. Reading the story I am astounded at how a simple little chicken place can be such a driver of economic development in an old downtown.

By the way, I should mention that Bubba's has an agreement with the University Park police department to feed the people who are in jail there. So if you are really desperate for some fried chicken, just do something illegal....

A Homily for Thanksgiving...

An oldie, but a goodie, has been posted on the New Faithful Archive.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

It may be a civic holiday, but I have always loved it.

How convient that our Advent preparation for the Incarnation of God is so neatly preceeded by a day of thanks. Christians offer their supreme thanks at every Mass; the Church's prayer of Great Thanksgiving centers on God's one supreme provision in the sacrifice of Christ for us. The Church thus celebrates its own thanksgiving feast, the Eucharist.

The thanks-giving Pilgrims knew this. Here is the text of the Anglican prayer of Great Thanksgiving which the Pilgrims would have known, from The Second Prayer Book of Edward VI, 1552.

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

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

Queen Susan's Bow

This was another favorite from 2005.

In the spirit of the past week's gleeful engagement with Inclusive Worship at Yale, I am going to Broach an Issue.

I have heard various feminists cooing over one particular moment in the recently released The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (which I love): Susan Pevensie fires a well-aimed shot from her bow and mortally wounds the wicked little dwarf who is about to kill her brother in the Great Battle. This moment is notably absent from The Book, wherein C.S. Lewis points out that he would rather not have his women fighting in battles, for the mere fact that they are women.

Look, I am a joyful gender essentialist. I think that there are intrinsic gifts, responsibilities, and vocations inherently connected with being male or female, and I love being the latter, because it means being a mother and a sister and a daughter to the rest of the world, in a variety of ways. I think that a good solid patriarchy can be wonderfully advantageous to ambitious young women. I trust my father and almost always defer to his wishes; I intend to obey my husband someday, with God's help. I think that men are naturally inclined to lead and protect women, and I think that women should let them do so. But I am not one to shrink from battles.

Queen Susan, the Gentle and Accurate, takes up her weapon and defeats a demon, and with that she joins the generals Deborah and St. Joan of Arc as women who I, purportedly submissive and non-feminist gender essentialist, long to imitate. Why? Because we all know that Susan has fired her shot in a spiritual battle between the enslaving, death-dealing, demonic power of the White Witch (= "Satan" in the story), and it is on this sort of battlefield, truly we are all one, neither male nor female, in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3). Having delivered another traditonal household code in Ephesians 5, wherein women obey while men sacrifice, Paul turns immediately in Ephesians 6 to the weapons which all take up in order to deal out death blows to the Enemy of souls. This warfare is the prerogative of every Christian Person. And the offensive is not optional. It is on the battlefield where the Church is attacked by a ruthless enemy that gender is truly relativized in light of Christ's Kingdom, such that women as well as men must take up arms to deal death blows to demons.

Now, I worry. The camps wherein I find much sympathy for my traditionalist leanings as a woman have introduced so much of civic virtue into the Church that they have transferred Pauline household codes to the structures for lay ministry within their communities. And I worry when education programs for Christian children, like one located recently, categorize the virtues of "vision, adventure and evangelism" for young men, and provide training in such for young men exclusively, while young women are reserved for "contentment, home and friendship."

Was there ever a besieged army that cut its ranks in two at the height of a conflict? Why would the Church do such a thing? Why would the Church not promote her daughters in the gender-neutral Christian mandates to evangelize, to chatechize, to do systematic theology... in short, to do warfare?

Granted, Pauline household codes make a lot of sense when they serve the purposes for which they were delivered: to accomodate conventional morality, because in contributing to the Pax Romana Christians will be good witnesses for Christ...and honestly, market economies do really well when every working man has a wife making a home, preparing food, and producing well-mannered children. This kind of structure makes a lot of sense for a civic community, and Paul knew it and urged Christians to accomodate it. But the Church is no civic community. The Church is, in many ways, an army that needs every baptized person to bear arms in the context of its critical, eschataological Battle.

No, I do not think that the Church has the option of counting women in that apostolic succession which adminsters the sacraments and formulates doctrine. As Kalistos Ware has put it, "to no woman has Jesus said, 'he who hears you hears no woman did He make the promise to ratify in heaven what she has bound or loosed on earth." And, as Thomas Hopko concurs in On the Male Character of Christian Priesthood, that to speak of women being "excluded" from the Christian episcopacy is absurd and nonsensical, because "exclusion" supposes a possible and proper prior "inclusion," which does not in fact exist in the Christian tradition.

But neither do I think that the Church has the option of preventing women from passing on the Faith once delivered to the (male) apostles through preaching (at appropriate times and places), or engaging in pastoral ministry, or prophecying, or leading and initiating in the church, in as much as the church may require. If we are an army under attack, then we need all hands on deck.

...And I'll say it again: if a woman finds herself submitting in love to a tradition which requires her to remain silent or to speak very softly in the church, then by all means let her do so wholeheartedly; but let her carry a very big stick.

... "Women will be the most fruitful element in the Apostolate..."
Pope John Paul II

Onward, Christian Soldier-Persons.

Yahoo, Father

The Pope has has done two good things this past week: he has engaged in an unprecedented meeting with a Muslim leader at the Vatican when he conversed with King Abdullah of Saudi. The word is that the Holy Father unabashadly called for religious freedom during this meeting- because he can.

And yesterday, he publicly called all of Christendom back to prayer and obedience under the authority of Scripture, quoting the words of St. Jerome: "ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ."

I love my church.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"A Certain Amount of Theological Unseriousness"

Lux Intellectus wrote the most popular post for December of 2006:

Via Rod Dreher's blog, this video of a priest dressing up as Barney during Mass is making the rounds and I am interested in the response of others to it. Apparently this priest dresses up in costume every Halloween -- the script on the video implies that it has been happening for seven years and the priest talks about being dressed up as a six-foot pumpkin one year. It seems to me that this is all out of line.

On the other hand, you get a sense that the person who put this video together has an axe to grind and seems to have a certain masochistic view of Christianity. Or perhaps this is a person who has undergone deep suffering and does not feel like this particular priest is emotionally capable of dealing with it.

Anyway, I'd be interested in your responses.

By the way, for any of you who think that becoming Catholic will somehow insulate you from versions of theological Liberalism, I think this video serves as a nice reminder that a certain amount of theological unseriousness exists throughout the church...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Vocatum Retrospect I: Spiritual Direction

This was our most popular post in November of 2005.

YOU DESPERATELY NEED A SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR... These are the words of the dynamic and amazing Congregationalist Professor John Reist. He was right.

Fr. Paul Helfrich of The Brotherhood of Hope (a community of spiritual directors) agrees: "every believer has the right to be accompanied."

Spiritual Direction is the old monastic practice of mutual submission and guidance between Christians with regard to their prayer lives (think also, Scripturally, of Samuel and David in the OT... Blessed Mary running straight to Elizabeth after hearing The News... all of the care St. Paul devoted to his apostolic charges... the list goes on). It's now Rather Trendy. Anyone who finds a spiritual director commits to the huge privilege of plopping down in his Director's company at regular times to unveil the secrets and quandries and questions of his prayer life, vocational discernment process, and moral life. It's wonderful. It is not "having an accountability partner," nor is it the "headship" which gets tossed around in various Charismatic circles; rather, it is spiritual self-disclosure to one who is trained to listen capably, prayerfully, and reflectively, and who has a modicum of authority to suggest What You Should Do With Yourself.

I have had a spiritual director for the past four years, and I don't really know how I survived without one prior.

What you should all do: scurry off and find a good Dominican to be your spiritual director. They will probably take you, whoever you are. Otherwise, note that the Episcopalians have a really rich and expansive tradition of this sort of thing, although you have to find one who will still confess the Creed in its entirety. Methodists do spiritual direction really well. If you are a real Protestant, then you must be careful- say that you are looking for a "mentor" or someone to "disciple you" or something equally non-hierarchical, or They May Think You Are Nuts. (In general, they say that pastoral ability in the director is more important for good spiritual direction than intelligence or orthodoxy.)

So, who has a spiritual director? And if not, why not, for Pete's sake?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Vocatum

This week marks the second year of this blog's beginnings! And now we are two.

I'll say it once again... now, as then, first of all, welcome. This blog is provoked by the notion that the church exists to bring people to Christ. It is my hope that this little place will provoke encouraging reflection on the former and encouragement as to the latter. Whether you are evangelical or catholic, and preferably you are both, it is my hope that we will learn, critique, and inspire here about sharing Christ, in word and deed, in the church and for the world.

I am so grateful to our group of readers and contributors for the valuable opportunity to write and learn with all of you. Please keep it up! I am so blessed by you all.

I will be posting this week from some of our top-hitting older posts over the past two years. And, as a birthday present, would you leave a line in the comments and tell us who you are and how we can serve you better?

From the American People: Prevent Unintended Pregnancies

I've spent the weekend in meetings with people at the State Department. An organization that I work with is busy lobbying and coordinating local activism for an increased emphasis on maternal health in the developing world.

(In other words, we are shoring up the international centers for a culture of life before the next Clinton administration lambasts the third world with its tailored agenda for population control... but you did not hear that from me.)

The rampant lie that has got to be confronted, and quickly, is the international community's equation of "maternal health" with "the right to abortion on demand." Did anyone catch how eery and weird that idea is?

Cross- reference the top five priorities of one of our nation's most innocuous agencies, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Its goals are tenderly addressed to its readers from all of us- "from the American people." Apparently we have Five Key Strategies to Prevent Maternal Mortality. The #1 priority is to "Prevent Unintended Pregnancies with Provision of High Quality Voluntary Family Planning Services." (Read: this is a proposal for lots of abortion clinics and experimental contraceptive techonologies delivered to the homes of young women in African townships). At the bottom of the list, we find Priority #4: "Strengthen Health Systems," which involves good things like funding basic health care for poor women, training midwives, increasing monitoring of health services in poor hospitals, and providing basic nutrition and clean water to expecting mothers. And lastly? Priority #5: "Tackle the Social Determinants of Maternal Mortality:" supporting women's education, delaying forced marriage and early childbearing, and expanding access to income generation skills. You can see the whole thing here.

I don't mean to jump to conclusions, but is there not something rather wrong with our list of priorities for women in the developing world? At the bottom of our list are goals for their education and access to basic nutrition. At the top of our to-do list is a clause encouraging our own money-making drug companies to provide cheap abortificants to young women in troubled countries.

(Possible subtext? From the American People: "do whatever you like, but don't trouble us about your need to eat or read. And for God's sake, don't make any more of you.")

And by the way, three cheers for all the benefits of militant western feminism. Way to go.

This is not the heart of God for young mothers; this cannot constitute the "message" of any Christian in the West to other precious persons among the nations, because we understand that they are made in the image of the Father, and are called by the Holy Spirit into eternal fellowship with the Son. Good grief.

So, we are going to get busy. We are going to fight any western NGO that actively lectures its local constituency about what their contraception rate should be. We are going to engage the seductive ploys of our "reproductive health" people who whisk African young women who are training to be midwives off to gorgeous hotels in Geneva to be trained to perform abortions as part of their "maternal health strategy." We are going to question the bogus research that denies any connection between abortion and its long-term effects on women (breast cancer and ensuing premature births), and we are going to challenge stats that report infant mortality rates without including the numbers of babies who have died from their mother's abortions in the third world. In short, we are going to follow the money.

Furthermore: we are going to locate effective, local, true maternal health clinics on the ground in the developing world and work to increase their funding so that they can provide for maternal health without compromise: trained birth attendants, vitamins, ultrasounds, the life-saving antiobiotics that can be provided to at-risk mothers for $2 a day. We are going to question whether a mother's "right" to choose to kill her unborn child really ought to trump the child's right to take its first breath, or the physician's right to refuse to perform an abortion. We are going to applaud the Missionaries of Charity in word and deed. We are going to network young women in the developing world into their own communities for promoting advocacy, education and midwifery skills within their local areas. We are going to show the world what it means to love, rather than kill, the least of these.

(... I wonder how many anti abortion Christian homes have a spare room in which a needy, expectant mother could be cared for while she foregoes abortion and carries her child to term... I have been thinking a lot about this. These, days, everything matters.)

St. Francis of Assisi, 1226

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury,pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

Oh Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Palate Cleanser... Daylight Savings Time Dilemma...

"The exact time a baby is born can be thrown into logical quagmire when it lands precisely at 2 a.m. the morning that daylight-saving time ends.

"Was the bundle of joy born at 1 a.m. or 2 a.m.?" is a question that is confusing enough for nurses and physicians to answer in the delivery room before the days of fetal monitors and computerized systems.

But how about when twins are born — one 2 minutes before and one 2 minutes after 2 a.m. the morning that daylight-saving time ends?"

Read the whole thing.

End World Hunger By Becoming a Human Dictionary!

Check out

Thanks to the BBC World Service for the great interview with the founder!

My chicken dinner theory

I have a different chicken dinner theory: fried chicken is good! Since this blog is about proclaiming the Gospel, I want to offer my praise to the art form that is served so frequently in many churches that it is nicknamed the 'gospel bird'. Let's face it, crunchy on the outside, steaming moist on the inside, salty, greasy... is there really anything better?

So if you had an Anglican bishop in town and wanted to convince him of your point of view, where would you take him (or her, of course)? My vote would be for Bubba's, which several years ago was voted by Southern Living as the number two chicken joint in America. They soak their chicken in brine the night before and it always comes out of the fryer just perfect. Yum, yum, yum.

If you are looking for other ideas about where to get some gospel bird, there was a nice discussion of it on the Dallas Morning News food blog just recently. Definitely worth trying a few of those places.

And the NY Times just ran a nice piece on two chicken joints in New Orleans and how they are recovering post-Katrina. It makes me want to hop in a car and drive down there right now.

I'm always happy to talk about my second favorite food in the world, so thanks to Father Nelson for giving me an opening!

[By the way, I'm completely sympathetic to his point of view, so please don't view this post as a glib rejection of his point -- I just wanted to write about fried chicken. A couple of years ago, I wrote a long paper about the racism and colonialism that continue to haunt the Anglican left. Implying that Third-World bishops can be easily bought off is to engage in a very subtle, yet viciously toxic, form of racism that suggests that these bishops are not sufficiently smart enough or morally developed enough to have their own principles and stand by them. Making allies with people that agree with them does not indicate that they are morally corrupt, but rather that they think what is at stake is worth marshalling all available resources in pursuit of their goals. From an outsider's perspective (I'm not Anglican), what is hilarious to me is to watch how the Anglican left engages in these subtle forms of racism by implying that black people are easily bought off. I think what makes a lot of people uncomfortable is that the colonized are now becoming the colonizers -- and it's not so comfortable when the shoe is on the other foot.]

Thursday, November 08, 2007

What is the Chicken Dinner Theory?

The chicken dinner theory is a conspiracy theory first posited at the Lambeth Conference of 1998 as to why Global South bishops seem to support biblically traditionalist Anglicans in the U.S. The theory essentially surmises that the reason for the support of these bishops for traditionalism could not possibly be education or faithfulness, and therefore must be money.

Well, the chicken dinner theory has reared its ugly head again, this time as American liberals bemoan the intervention of Archbishop Gregory Venables in U.S. dioceses under fire. "Fr. Jake" writes:
The Southern Cone has about 20,000 communicants. My point is that the lack of churches suggests that this is a very poor Province. I cannot help but wonder if the temptation to pick up a few wealthy congregations, and now entire Dioceses, to the north is not fueling some of the outrage we are hearing from PB Venables.
When I posted in the comments that this theory is both racist and offensive, my comment was deleted and I was banned from further commenting. Ah, how I love the smell of raw fascism!

Private Litany of the Holy Spirit

Father all-powerful, have mercy on us.

Jesus, Eternal Son of the Father, Redeemer of the world, save us.
Spirit of the Father and the Son, boundless life of both, sanctify us.
Holy Trinity, hear us.

Holy Spirit, Who proceedest from the Father and the Son, Who art equal to the Father and the Son, enter our hearts.

Promise of God the Father,
Ray of heavenly light,
Author of all good,
Source of heavenly water
Consuming fire
Ardent charity
Spiritual unction
Spirit of love and truth
Spirit of wisdom and understanding
Spirit of counsel and fortitude
Spirit of knowledge and piety
Spirit of the fear of the Lord
Spirit of grace and prayer
Spirit of peace and meekness
Spirit of modesty and innocence
Holy Spirit, the Comforter
Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier
Holy Spirit, Who governest the Church
Gift of God,
Who fillest the universe,
Spirit of the adoption of the children of God, have mercy on us.

Holy Spirit, inspire us with horror of sin,
Come and renew the face of the earth
Shed Thy light in our souls
Engrave Thy law in our hearts
Inflame us with the flame of Thy love
Open to us the treasures of Thy graces
Teach us to pray well
Enlighten us with Thy heavenly inspirations
Lead us in the way of salvation
Grant us the only necessary knowledge
Inspire in us the practice of good
Grant us the merits of all virtues
Make us persevere in justice
Be Thou our everlasting reward.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Cleaning Out the DVDs...

This past weekend, my wife was again convicted about our DVD collection while praying the rosary. We have talked about this before, but have decided to wait. This past weekend, we did it! We cleaned out the collection. Anything that glorified idolatry, apostasy, murder, adultery, theft, and also simple coarseness in language, was dumped. This amounted to about two-thirds of our collection. On the blacklist: Ocean's 11 & 12, the Big Lebowski, the Die Hard Trilogy, the complete Friends, Rushmore, High Fidelity, and I Heart Huckabees, to name a few. We find all of these movies to be delightfully funny and extremely creative, but came to the conclusion that they do not aid our sanctification.

So, we took a huge bag to the Movie Trading Company, and picked up A Man for All Seasons, Dead Man Walking, the Pianist, Hook, and Annie in trade. Truth is, I don't think we're going to miss them.

Can We Do That?! The Church and Political Activity

With respect to Fr. Nelson's stimulating post below, and with regard to a few other recent conversations about the proper interaction of Church and State, I've decided to pull up some notes from my course in non profit organizations in law school. Fr. Nelson implicitly raises the question of what political action pastors and congregations can rightfully take without incurring the penalty of the removal of their tax exempt status. As the law in the USA stands, there is a fairly broad scope for the Church's political activity... as it should be. (This post should in no way be taken as legal advice. I'm required to say that)

A church may not engage substantial political activity: no substantial participation in spreading propaganda or otherwise attempting to influence legislation; no participation or intervention in any political campaign.

If you want your organization to serve a political purpose, you need to apply for 501(c) (4) status.

Legislation: 501(c) (3) of the Tax Code states that a tax exempt church cannot attempt to influence legislation through lobbying. But this prohibition on lobbying does not apply to:

1. Executive Orders
2. Regulations
3. Judicial Appointments
4. Public Opinion

BUT, the lobbying in question cannot relate to a particular piece of legislation. "Lobbying" is legally defined as either 1) Direct Lobbying (contacting legislative bodies directly) or 2) Grassroots Lobbying (encouraging the general public to influence legislation.) Furthermore, the church's lobbying activities cannot rise above 5% of the church's total activity threshold, although there is no clear standard.

With regard to political campaigning, churches are absolutely prohibited from participating or intervening on behalf of or in opposition to a particular candidate. In particular, a church cannot rank one candidate against another because the law finds that ratings, by their very nature, necessarily reflect the philosophy of the organization conducting such activities. However, the legal prohibition applies only to candidates. A candidate is legally defined as a person who has made an announcement as to his intention to run for office according to the requirements of state law.

What can churches always do to promote a political purpose?

They can educate their voters. (Hello, Magisterium)

Protestant Third Orders: The Kid Brothers of St. Frank

... founded by the late (and wonderful) musician Rich Mullins: "a dream to take the Good News of God's Love to the Native American reservation through the arts and music. Rich and his long-time writing partner and friend, Beaker, started Kid Brothers in the late ‘80s as a ministry to mentor other young men in the faith. In 1995, Rich moved to Tse Bonito, New Mexico, to put hands and feet to his dreams." Here.

Link Between Heart Disease and the Pill Found...

Turns out there's a link between atherosclerosis and oral contraceptives - a %20-30 increase in plaque per ten years on the Pill. Of course, the article concludes by saying that women shouldn't change their contraceptive regimens just yet, citing inconclusive evidence.

Pat Robertson... In Bed With the Milquetoast

God bless him... Rudy Giuliani. Believes in marriage between a man and a woman. Yet, he has been divorced twice and supports same-sex domestic partnerships to secure equal protection under the law. He wants to reduce abortion, but seems to have no desire to protect life. A while back, Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis said clearly that he would not allow him to receive the Eucharist.

And now we hear that Pat Robertson, founder of the ACLJ, and defender of the rights of the Chinese to have their "one-child" policy, (ooh, ooh... he thinks we should have just shot Hugo Chavez) rises to represent Christians by endorsing Rudy Giuliani.


This is where I just wish the Pope would stick his neck out there and openly endorse candidates.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Antony Flew's Conversion

One of our readers kindly pointed out to me this excellent article in the New York Times Magazine on the recent conversion of atheist philosopher Antony Flew. You can find "The Turning of an Atheist" here.

What's the big deal about Flew? (Bear with me- I am learning to be a theologian, not a philosopher) -he's one of the guys you can blame for retorts to your apologetic efforts that run along the lines of "don't even talk to me about God since you cannot prove that He exists." -Well, to be precise, we have A.J. Ayer to thank for that handy slogan; with his other Logical Positivist cronies, Ayer insisted that the human mind can only deal meaningfully with empirically verifiable stuff, so talk about God is ruled out from educated conversation at the outset.) Ayer’s proposal is that statements may be deemed “meaningful” if and only if they are either true by definition (as we find in logical truths/tautologies, such as “2 + 2 = 4,” or the proposition, “a bachelor is an unmarried man”) or if they are verifiable by observation (at least in principle). So, what you get is the attempt to live in a world where concepts of reality are neatly confined to that which is amenable to the process of gathering empirical data, investigating and critically assessing sense knowledge, and then organizing empirical data in theorems, by means of formal logic.

"What, you cannot do this with God?!- Game over." The Logical Positivist proposal is staunchly opposed to any and all "metaphysics," including statements about God. On Ayer’s model, metaphysical propositions can be considered neither “true” nor “false;” therefore they assert nothing, they “contain neither knowledge nor error,” and thus they lie outside the field of propositional discussion entirely. At best, metaphysical talk may become useful by its expressive property and its capacity to convey emotional or volitional dispositions. Ayer concludes that all metaphysical statements are nonsensical, because every genuine proposition must state either a tautology or an empirical hypothesis, and on Ayer’s terms, metaphysical statements can offer neither. Ayer argued that “the existence of a being having the attributes which define the God of any non-animistic religion cannot be demonstratively proved… there is no possibility of demonstrating the existence of God.” Thus, statements about God are deemed meaningless. When “God” is used as a metaphysical term, such a statement (on Ayer’s terms) can be neither true nor false, and could not even be significantly contradicted. Thus, Ayer urges that theological language has no meaning.

Enter Antony Flew! When he was an atheist, Flew made the generous move of restating Ayer’s criteria, but with a shift of emphasis to the mere "falsifiability" of a given statement; in other words, Flew lessened the burden of proof for religious people somewhat by urging that a statement could meet the standard of a meaningful assertion if a conceivable set of circumstances could demonstrate the statement to be false. (So, you don't have to prove the existence of God; you only have to prove that you have a means of reckognizing the possibility that God does not exist, in the event that He does not. Flew offered a critical set of questions for theological conversation: “just what would have to happen to entitle us to say ‘God does not exist?’ ... what would have to occur to constitute (for you) a disproof of the existence of God?” In other words, is the statement falsifiable? And if the statement is false, how would we know it to be so?

Note: Christians have to readily admit that the discovery of the body of Jesus is one of those things that would absolutely and finally undo our faith. Thus, our faith is falsifiable- and hence, meaningful on Flew's terms.

In the end, however, Flew had despaired of admitting religious statements as meaningful even on this generous criterion, because he reasoned that the believer’s faith would render religious statements immune to falsification; and if nothing could persuade the believer to reject his religious assertions about God, then his religious assertions would be be shown to have no fact content, and would be recognized as cognitively meaningless.

Flew proposed that “a verification of theism…can only be experienced by those who have already entered into an awareness of God by the religious mode of perception that we call faith… if this is so, it has the consequence that only the theistic believer can find vindication of his belief.”

And there you have it. Flew has experienced a verification of theism by the religious mode of perception that we call faith.

Sailing Home

“That there might be a way by which we could go, He has come from Him to whom we wished to go. And what has He done? He has appointed a tree by which we may cross the sea. For no one is able to cross the sea of this world, unless born by the cross of Christ. Even he who is weak embraces this cross; and he who does not see from afar whither he goes, let him not depart from it, and it will carry him over. He approached, that for us He might become this; and He became that for us, on which the weak may be borne, and cross the sea of this world and reach their native country, where there will be no need of a ship, for no sea is crossed…let these things suffice for the presence, and be ye edified in Christ; be ye comforted in faith, and watch in good works, and see that you do not depart from the wood by which you may cross the sea.” St. Augustine, Homilies on John 1, 2.

Monday, November 05, 2007

What is Liberal Fundamentalism?

A friend of mine recently mentioned that he "might become a Christian because he was so impressed by Liberal Fundamentalism..."! Does anyone know what this means?

(Here is what the Wall Street Journal has to say about it)

Christian Love, Pietist Style

Good stuff:

“If we can therefore awaken a fervent love among Christians, first towards one another and then towards all men, and put this love into practice, practically all that we desire will be accomplished. For all the commandments are summed up in love. …We must also practice this love; we must become accustomed not to lose sight of any opportunity in which we can render a service of love to our neighbor, and yet while performing it we must diligently search our hearts to discover whether we are acting our of true love or some other motive. If we are offended, we should especially be on our guard, not only that we refrain from all vengefulness, but that we may also give up some of our rights and insistence on them for fear that our hearts may betray us and feelings of hostility may become involved. ... that in such self-control we may hurt the old Adam, who is otherwise inclined, and that love may be more deeply implanted in our hearts… and if there is doubt as to whether one is obligated to do this or that for one’s neighbor, it is always better to incline towards doing it rather than leaving it undone. – The Pietists, Selected Writings.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

St. Winefrid, Virgin of North Wales

"With other pious maidens, she served God under the direction of St. Beuno. She suffered death at the hands of the tyrant Caradoc, at the place since called Holywell, and there many miracles even in our own day there witness to the sanctity of St. Winefrid..."

Look down upon me Jesus, where before your face I kneel and, with burning soul, pray and beseech you to fix deep in my heart faith, hope and charity...

More. Her story reads like something from Gawain and the Green Knight.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Food: How to Roast a Perfect Turkey...

Every year, around this time, I decide to do a test-run for Thanksgiving.

That's right - it's turkey time!

So, I turned to my favorite source for fool-proof recipes - America's Test Kitchen and Cooks Illustrated. This year, in the Fall Food Edition, they have what very well might be the perfect turkey recipe. I decided to test it out on All Hallow's Eve, and the results were excellent. Basically, it calls for a four-hour soak in a brining solution of saltwater (one cup of salt to each gallon of water). I bought a brining bag - basically a huge zip-loc - at Central Market and it did the trick. After the soak - towel the bird dry and cover nicely with 4 tbs of melted butter. You'll need a roasting pan for this one. Luckily, the outlets like TJ Maxx and Tuesday Morning are full of good roasting pans this time of year. I got mine at Costco. You set the turkey in the roasting pan breast-side down and roast at 400 F for 45 minutes. It looks awkward, and I have been skeptical of this method in the past, because you have to flip the turkey at some point. But, it works. So, after 45 minutes, you flip the turkey to the breast-side up position, and bring the temp at the thickest part of the breast to 160. Rest for 30 minutes, and you're done!

I must say that brining is the real secret, allowing for moist meat, the likes of which I have never tasted. Though it may be intimidating, it's really quite easy, and worth the work!

The things we love...

Baby Claire is the daughter of a dear friend. She took her first step this week. She is one of MM's heroes.

(You can always read what her daddy and friends have to say here.)

What are you rejoicing about this weekend?

Praying for those in chains: Revisiting Darfur

Remember those who are in chains, as though bound with them...

It's time to pray and act for the victims of genocide and rape who are suffering at this moment in the violence of intensified killing in southwestern Sudan.

Most of those targeted by the militant Islamic janjawede militia in this genocide are Anglican Christians.

Visit Save to get involved; I send donations to them, and I keep up with the latest news from the region through their free updating service. See also their option for "Communities of Faith" in order to get your church/small group/Sunday school involved in this crisis.

Yale Divinity School, circa 1965

A friend of mine stopped by YDS for a lecture on "sacred spaces" last week, and sent these remarks from two octagenarian nuns whose work involves remodeling churches and chapels for modern use and values: "I believe in you, I believe in me, I believe in humanity." Some of the enlightening remarks given are listed below...

"We are bringing into being environmental theology...ritual space exists as experiential context."

"Having removed the confessionals and the shrines there were valuable windows for the purposes of light...the same space under the balcony was to have intimate lighting, much like a pub, with chairs, so if you want a place to talk this would be it."

"We changed the structure of this Church. Instead of facing inwards, when you come in you now see the woods."

Shades of Nietzsche!... We have art so that we won't die in Reality... Tee hee.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Killing Women and Getting Away With It...

One of the new territories in the battle for a culture of life is new STD vaccines. A few months ago, the governor of Texas wanted to make the HPV vaccine mandatory for all girls at age 12. The proponents of these vaccines say that ultimately, women will be spared from cervical cancer caused by the HPV. The difficulty, of course, is that it assumes that girls 12 and older are going to be sexually active, and susceptible to STDs. The Church's word for this would be licentiousness. Nevertheless, the rhetoric on this has been rather dull. Basically, Texas moms are scandalized that the Governor would have such a pessimistic opinion of their 12 year old daughters.

But now, a turn in the road. We hear that recently three women, aged 12, 19, and 22, died after being injected with Gardasil, the leading HPV vaccine. If you go to this website, you'll see a number of deaths linked clearly to Gardasil, all in the last year. Both the FDA and Merck have denied any link between the vaccine and the deaths, but we know that this is typical of the industry. Early on with the Pill, women dropped like flies. Now the same thing is happening - all in the name of women's health.