Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What's this, still Christmas?

Yes, Virginia there is a Christmas past 12/25. Since the earliest days of the church Christmas was/is a season, not simply a day. Dec. 25 is the beginning of Christmas, not the end. The Christmas season lasts for 12 days, ending on Epiphany. Epiphany is a season that remembers the epiphanies of Jesus, his showing through, as God among us. St. John the Forerunner was the first to recognize Jesus, John lept in his mother's womb when Mary walked in the room. The Wise Men were the first non-Jews to recognize Jesus; but I digress. I wonder when we decided to celebrate Christmas from a season before 12/25 to a season after? I know I'm a liturgical fuss-budget, but why rush Christmas to be over? Doesn't Hallmark have much to gain in Advent cards? Actually, I think Advent and Lent are pretty much impervious to sentimental expression, don't see too many Precious Moments Advent figures (maybe the doe-eyed thing looking down as he walks east?) Anyway, I ramble. I hope all had a prayerful Advent that had protracted silence to think, and I hope you have a joyous Christmas until January 6!

Here's a great song from the Nightmare Before Christmas,

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas

Check out this awesome rosary that Brittany got me, I call it a baptismal rosary but it probably has another name and history, let me know if you know.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Jacob Marly in Purgatory

The Christmas Carol is a great story, but the theology isn't sound. I think we all would like to think that God will punish all the greedy and hateful people of the world, according to their sins. But Jesus messes all that up. Jacob Marly et al, don't get hell fire and damnation for their misdeeds, if they get it at all they get it because they've resisted God's grace. I don't think God's grace is utlimately resistable, so I think that everything gets saved (even the demons and Hell, as Origin would say). That's the whole point of the incarnation, of Christmas, all gets reconciled to God. So, for me, eventually, God gets us, even if we don't want God, which is our current state of affairs, the fancy theological term for this is apokatastasis, and it's not quite heretical, but almost. The simple point of the matter is that God is not Just, God is not Fair. And thank God for it! We will all be offended, surprised, and even glad for God's wacked out sense of inclusion. Come Lord Jesus!

Luke 2:7 translation and commentary

My translation: And she was giving birth to the son, the firstborn, and she swaddled him and layed him down in a feeding-trough, because there was no room for them at the inn.
All translation is a choice. I could have translated some of the words as "swaddling cloths" and "manger," the problem is I don't really have any experience with swaddling cloths or a manger, in fact the only times we use these words are in reference to the Nativity narratives. I have, however, experience swaddling my two children: also, I know what a feeding trough is, it's what your father-in-law fills with water and reads novels in. Another trick of translation is that the words, especially in Greek, have many meanings, for example: "the first-born" could just as well be "her first-born." Why the choice? In our eucharistic prayers we praise Jesus Christ as the first-born of all creation, the head of the Church, and the author of our salvation. In effect I translated it this way because I have an agenda. I wonder if other translators had agendas too? Nay...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Theology Geek or Geek Theology part Two

Yeah I'm a geek, so what? I love conlags and I know more klingon and esperanto than most people. It takes all kinds I guess, here's a guy who uses the klingon language to talk about Jesus.

'ach vaj 'oH ghaH ghobe' the DichDaq vo' lIj vav 'Iv ghaH Daq chal vetlh wa' vo' Dochvammey mach ones should chIlqu'.
Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Luke 2:2-3

αὕτη ἡ ἀπογραφὴ πρώτη ἐγένετο ἡγεμονεύοντος τῆς Συρίας Κυρηνίου. καὶ ἐπορεύοντο πάντες ἀπογράφεσθαι, ἕκαστος εἰς τὴν ἰδίαν πόλιν.

And it happened that a census was decreed during the Roman governorship of Cyrenius who was over Syria, and the whole world departed to register, each into his own city.

This one is for Andy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Luke 2:1

16 weeks ago I didn't know the Greek alphabet, here's my translation of Luke 2:1, more to follow.

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις ἐξῆλθεν δόγμα παρὰ Καίσαρος Αὐγούστου ἀπογράφεσθαι πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην.

It happened in those days that a decree came out from Caesar Augustus that the entire human race is to give their name in a registration.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy birthday to me.

Thanks to my friend and former bandmate Jake for sending me this, I really miss the ska band!

Wondering about Advent?

Around minute 9:00 is right on.

Compare and Contrast

I'm almost done (3 pages left) with my first semester of seminary. I've been thinking about how I used to feel at the end of the quarter when I was teaching, a mere 6 months ago! At the end of the quarter back then, I always felt that my well was dry, completely spent. The job of inspiring and correcting growth and development was tough work. I needed the three week break to fill up my creative tank. Then, I would watch lots of movies, write and read constantly, and veg alot. Now, I am not empty. I feel very light and free, not exhausted, but excited. I guess this is because I was the one being ministered to over the course of the semester instead of the one handing out at all times. I'm struck by the structure of support and challenge that is built up around the seminarians up here and back home. My family and I are being held up on all levels. We are very thankful and I can't wait for next quarter to start. A few days off will be nice, however.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sewanee Code, can you decipher it?

Christmas cd to whomever can decipher this:

After OT today I checked my email and got accepted into CPE! Then I checked my SPO and got a B+ from Dr.C, but I'm most excited about the A from Mother Gatta, good thing I got it checked over by Jim, I'm thinking of making a bracelet that says: WWJDD. After class I'll leave Hamilton, go to COTA for evening prayer, stop at McClurg, put in a few hours at DuPont, then on home.


I forgot to post yesterday. I will do penance of three posts today and ask forgiveness. Here's my recent paper for Spirituality for Ministry, I got an A.

Kataphatic and apophatic prayer are the two categories into which all prayer falls. Kataphatic prayer uses words, music, images, tactile sensations, smell, and taste. If creation, whether natural or artistic, is being used for the prayer, then it is kataphatic. Kataphatic prayer is the via affirmativa; it uses creation to say something about God. In kataphatic prayer, the one who prays describes, petitions, and speaks to God; every prayer that has ever been written or uttered is kataphatic. The history of the western church, its theology and liturgy, is almost exclusively kataphatic. The theological basis for kataphatic prayer is the incarnation. Since the incarnation, all matter is sanctified and suffused with the Holy Spirit, as Paul says this is how we are able to pray at all: in the Holy Spirit. Also, Jesus gave the model for kataphatic prayer in the Lord’s Prayer. Finally, the apostles encouraged the newly baptized to “continue in the teachings and the prayers.” The whole of the church is replete with examples of how kataphatic prayer is practiced: the daily office, the Eucharist, lectio divina, the rosary, and so on.
Apophatic prayer, in contrast to kataphatic prayer, is prayer that is wordless and imageless. Apophatic prayer recognizes that there are limits to human intellect and language. Whereas kataphatic prayer conveys attributes to God, apophatic prayer moves beyond attributes, beyond all constructed ideas about God. Apophatic prayer is characterized as the via negativa. It is associated with darkness because one is left with darkness when one has moved beyond all concepts. The theological basis for apophatic prayer can be found in the Scriptures. God, for the Hebrews, was unnameable. While the Hebrews applied many attributes to God, they understood that God was ultimately unknowable. Paul, when he writes that “we see but through a glass darkly,” understood the limits of human intellect and experience. He knew that more about God lies beyond our language and experience than within it. Far from being anti-intellectual, the apophatic approach to prayer simply recognizes the bounds of human understanding. Other theological writings on apophatic prayer are by Pseudo-Dionysius the Aeropagite, who wrote the classic called The Mystical Theology, and the anonymous medieval English writer of The Cloud of Unknowing. These texts lay the theological and practical groundwork for apophatic prayer: God is beyond what we can say about him, but beyond concepts of God there is a ground upon which to rest that is accessible to all Christians. Many methods of apophatic prayer have been developed, but apophatic prayer is quite simple--not easy, but simple.
The practice that I have found to be most fruitful is the one advocated by Anthony DiMello and Anthony Bloom. Essentially, one focuses one’s intention God-ward and watches. When a concept, thought, or feeling arises, one must be sure not to engage it. Apophatic prayer is a process of subtraction. Even ideas and feelings of God’s graces should be laid aside. Apophatic prayer is a new experience for many; therefore, it is advisable to follow the exhortation of the writer of The Cloud of Unknowing that those who engage in this kind of prayer should also be fully engaged in the life of the church and under the care of a spiritual director.
It must be noted, regarding apophatic and kataphatic prayer, that one kind of prayer is not superior to another. In fact, they feed each other; each enlivens the spirit of the other. Having a sense of the kataphatic helps to sustain and form the one who prays apophatically, and vice versa. It is important to remember that the two forms of prayer are both valid, and they need not be separated into hard-and-fast categories.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Christian Paradox

Here is the text from the Dean's Christmas card, it poetically shows the paradox of Jesus:

To save them, He came--the Creator of Mary, born of Mary; the Son of David, Lord of David; the Maker of the earth, made on the earth. He Himself is "the day which the Lord hath made," and the day of our heart is itself the Lord. Let us walk in his light, let us rejoice and take delight in it!
Augustine of Hippo, a sermon for Christmas Day

Friday, December 12, 2008

Our Lady of Guadalupe

The Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes once said that "...one may no longer consider himself a Christian, but you cannot truly be considered a Mexican unless you believe in the Virgin of Guadalupe."

This is not an Episcopal Feast but interesting from a liberation theology perspective. Link.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

To Santa or not to Santa.

So Brittany and I have been dealing with Santa, neither encouraging nor discouraging our culture's love of this guy in our daughter. So today I asked one of my professors about how she raised her kid with Santa. I expected a long answer about the pastoral concerns of leading your children along with a lie and how Christmas should remain the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, etc. Her response: We were big believers. Huh.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A prayer for the incarnation

Oh, courteous and homely God, we give you thanks, that you allowed flesh to be knit with your divinity in Mary, the God-bearer. So that we are drawn to you, inseperably. Being that you became us, so that we may become You. All in the subtle majesty of the Holy Trinity: Creator, Reconcilor, and Advocate. Amen

Monday, December 8, 2008


This contest will only work on the honor system: Watch the video below, with sound on. If you DON'T get goosebumps or teary eyed, you win a christmas mixed cd by me. I know it's a weird contest but I tell you what, if you want a cd anyway, even if you boo-hooed, let me know and I'll send one out.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I should be writing but...

It finally dawned on me about Advent and children this morning. Back story: Ava, DNA holder 1.0, is Fire. She is highly emotional in every positive and negative way you can think of. Music is never loud enough, stories are REAL. Jokes are side splitting. Anger is red in tooth and claw. So how do you teach this child about Advent, the waiting season? Make her wait. We have two Advent calendars, one with stickers one with little windows that hold chocolate. There are two children: Ava and Henry,DNA holder 2.0. This means that one gets the sticker one night and the other gets the chocolate: waiting. But best of all, Nana got them a Playmobil nativity set. Well, we hid the Jesus until Christmas. But Ava keeps finding Him. So now it's a kind of a game, but not. We hide him and give no hints and it is killing her. "Where's Jesus?" "I want Jesus!" Mommy, I really want Jesus, now!" Sounds like good Advent theology to me.

Friday, December 5, 2008

It's a Perfect Advent Charlie Brown

Place: St Luke's Chapel, old stone, dark, 100+ candles burning.
Time: Tonight at 7:00
Sounds: Piano, guitar, 58 voices singing in different languages.



Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


7:30-8:30 p.m.-went to a community Messiah sing, very cool, very intimate.
8:30-9:15-put kids to bed
9:30-12:15a.m.-beer and good talk with Eric S.:dude is good.
12:30-2:00 a.m-sleep
2:15-4:30 a.m. drive my Botswanan brother, KG, to Chatt-town.
4:30-7:00 a.m.-sleep!
7:00-8:00 a.m. get ready, Britt to Bible study
8:00-9:00 a.m.-drop kids at PMO try to do Creeds work, fail.
9:00-9:20 a.m.-muster strength to chant
9:20-10:30 a.m.-finish creeds work, chat with classmates
10:30-12:15 p.m.-choir/eucharist-bloody brilliant sermon from Chris Bryan.
12:15-1:00 p.m.-lunch with adorable children and desirable wife
1:00-3:45 p.m-Creeds class, wherein I consider my thoughts on apophatic/kataphatic anthropology and now ecclesiology. Big dork.
3:45-4:00 pm-walk to library, nice and cool.
4:00-4:30-get book,walk home.
4:30-5:00 talk with darling wife, go to sonic for home-cooked meal.
5:00-7:30 p.m. eat, wrestle, tickle, blog, pj's, kids to bed. Sleep soon...please.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A sense of humor is essential.

When talking about Bloom's Taxonomy with my teaching collegues over the past several years I added my own level above evaluation: humor. Humor demonstrates mastery and comfort with the dynamics of a given set of knowledge. Hence...

Quotable Sewanee #3

"They don't like me."

"They don't like you because you are so paranoid."

Monday, December 1, 2008

I saw it first...

You will click this link and not be disappointed.

Early birthday

I decided that we would have a early Josh-birthday celebration in Nashville. Since high school I've had a final or a finish-up-the-quarter-hecticness on my birthday, Dec. 15. Here are some pics of us at my favorite bar in the whole world. The place is Robert's Western World (Contest: free mixed cd of christmas music to whomever can name the very famous indie-country band from Robert's, Brittany is disqualified). I have an affection for Robert's because when I lived in Nashville for 2 summers, while doing my montessori training, I used to go to Robert's, at least twice a week and write papers and listen to music. Robert's has a great band playing all day with no cover charge. I love old school country music, I grew up listening to Bob Wills and his Texas playboys, and this band played alot of Bob Wills. From the pics you can see how utterly cool my kids are with just chillin' listening to the music. Henry could hardly conceal himself at times and Ava liked to put dollars in the tip jar, the band leader said, "This man is raising his kids right, look at how excited she is to hear Bob Wills." I love my family!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Quotable Sewanee #2

"He was born on third base, but he thought he hit a triple."


Welcome to Not So National Blog Publishing During Advent Thingy. I've decided to take on a little project of posting each day during advent. Advent is one of my favorite seasons of the christain year but I don't think most people know much about it, so for the next four weeks I'll add some theology and history, but mostly this will just be my blog, but daily.
Where the culture gets Advent right: preparing for Christmas. Advent is a time of waiting and preparation.
Where the culture gets advent wrong: Advent is a time of dark waiting, Jesus is not with us yet, in the wonderfully weird sense of theological time. This shows the psychological genius of the Liturgical Calendar: theologically and psychologically it is challenging and neccesary to ask what my spiritual director did: What is life like without Jesus? For many I suppose that question has never been posed. Really, what is life like without Jesus? Maybe for you life is no different. That may be just fine with you. maybe it's not, why? Perhaps asking this question will ask others, what is important about Jesus, what did he do if anything. This simple asking puts us in touch with all the early christians as they struggled toward a comprehensive picture of Jesus and his mission. I hope this advent you will ask hard questions, and rest in the darkness of those questions. Doubt and questions live with faith, not against them. Faith is not certainty. Faith is trust. When we trust another we are going out on a limb, there are no guarantess. But life is good when we trust.
I'll leave you with a photo of what advent is not: but entertaining as hell.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Atlanta Weekend#1 aka St. Joe voodoo child

So I was talking to the Dean of Students and his secretary about how we are selling our house, or not selling our house; and they suggested that I try Saint Joseph. "Huh?" Turns out that there is a hold over here in the "Episcopal Theme Park", a hold over from the Roman Catholic heritage and the cult of saints. So with Saint Joseph you procure a statue of him, bury him upside down in the yard and pray everyday until it sells. I put the call out to the seminary students here and received the requisite smart ass remarks including this gem:
I don't have a St. Joseph statue, but I do have a Jesus action figure that
I would be willing to lend you!
I do know people who have used St. Joseph when they sold their house and
they swear by the technique.
I say try it out, and if St. Joseph can't help you than I am sure that St.
Jude (the patron saint of lost causes) can help!

Here's a link Andy sent that must be seen to believed.
My favorite is "Saint Joseph, my real estate agent." It took less than two hours to find a 3 inch platic St. Joseph that "worked for us." As the responses rolled in I got more and more perscriptions about how to bury Old Joe. Here's what Britt and I settled on: Upside down, facing the house from the west, facing east. Interpret that however you like. The Baptist in me was and is prickling at all this. Saints? Statues? But I do believe in the communion of Saints, and that they can pray for us. So I thought of the act of burying Joe as a physical prayer. God knows our inmost desires, prayer is for us as much as for God. So I cobbled some words together and said something like: St. Joseph, you were homeless on the night of Jesus' birth, take our earnest desire to Creator God in the name of Jesus Christ, our friend and God. Amen. We'll see...

Friday, October 31, 2008

The theological basis for "lettin' it all hang out."

Was it the Commadores or Lionel Richie who sang Brick House? As far as I'm concerned, it could have been Saint Paul. We are in the midst of the Dubose lectures and we had the dance last night. I think I had more fun at the dance than I had at my prom or any of those Sorority formals back-in-the-day. There is something deeply satisfying about seeing people who you have struggled with weighty topics with shake, shake, shake.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Feeling tipsy

Homecoming is over as of 10:30 last night, for me at least. I bartended at two parties yesterday. The best part was probably hooking up with the band at the first party. They are a string band and were very pleased to hear that I play old time banjo. After their gig they asked me if I could play what they were doing. "Oh, yes!" So maybe I'll be in a band again (please God!) since my Blue Beat Combo days (miss y'all). Here's a picture of how I made tips: pimping the kids.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Advil, take me away

So there's this Sewanee tradition for the University alums:
1.) Graduate
2.) Make a boat load of money
3.) Buy an old house in Sewanee
a.)trick it out
4.) throw a party for 100 of your closest friends (50% of which must be doctors and "in finance.")
5.) Get the university to supply bartenders

So the tradition continues and now I am a part. Seminary bartenders are as perinnial as the fog up here.I worked two parties today and will work two tomorrow. The bummer part was that I had to work out in the cold tonight, no respect for the working class! The up part was that I worked with Gordon, who is something of a celebrity up here, quite the character. He's an ex-homicide detective so I asked him lots of procedural questions because I want to write a mystery for this year's nanowrimo. All in all the bartending is really fun and I get some tips. Wish me luck for tomorrow, in the mean time my dogs are barking and my back feels old...

Quoteable Sewanee #2

While writing my Creeds paper I stumbled across this gem from Cantwell Smith by way of Charles Hefling:
One's faith is given by God, one's beliefs by one's century.
And I add: chew on that for a while.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Quotable Sewanee #1

"Being a creature is not a sin, but being unhappy about it is." Dr. Cynthia Crysdale

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Home visit and holy crap I'm an A+ student!

I don't want to brag but I'm an A+ student! I can't help but get good grades: B, B+, A-, A+ (100%), and A+ so far. Not bad for a guy who failed seveth grade and barely eaked out a 3.0 in undergrad.

New subject: We went back to my home parish this weekend and preached, see below for sermon. It went really well and I loved catching up with everybody. A big surprise was that I loved the music. Nativity had a guest group come and do music, I guess you could call it a praise band (I'm not a fan of praise bands, to put it mildly)but these guys were great, they even did the doxology and sanctus as a band. My one critique is that at times it felt like a performance, not an interactive event. This was likely because the music was new and unfamiliar. Thanks again Nativity!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Draft for Sunday's sermon

Sermon for 10/19/08

Pentacost 23
Matthew 22:15-22

"Then he said to them, 'Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's.'"

I speak to you today in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen +

In this instance I do prefer the King James: Render unto Cesar [sic].

Unless you've been living under a rock or, say, on top of a mountain, then you know there has been alot of talk this week about rendering unto caesar. The presidential debates are essentially a ping pong match of how we should best render unto caesar and in some cases how caesar should render unto us!

Today's Gospel, as usual, is eerily apropos to what is going on in our lives. Let's look at what we have:
"Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher,we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality."

Aren't they nice? Buttering him up for the kill. The Pharisees were the religious establishment of the day, the score keepers, they were the theological and religious law experts. The Herodians on the other hand, were sell outs to the empire. The Herodians were Jews who supported Herod's rule, and were rewarded handsomely for their loyalty and political influence. So in this scene we have Jesus in the middle a nationalistic group who were ardent in their desire for religious and legal independence on one side, and on the other the much hated Herodians: collaborators who made money and power off the backs and blood of their kin. This is the dynamic.

Matthew goes on: Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites?"

Jesus sees what's going on, they are trying to get him into a catch-22. If he says, "Yes, we should pay taxes." Then the pharisees will skewer him as being in collaboration with the empire and also with idolatry, because Roman coins bore the emperor's graven image and words to the effect of "all hail the emperor, high priest and god."

Now, if Jesus had said, "No, we shouldn't pay taxes." Then the Herodians, the representatives of the empire, could have booked him for sedition.

How does Jesus respond to this damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't scenario? He says, "Show me the coin used for the tax." And they bring him a denarius. I can't help but notice how readily, how speedily, they produce the offensive item, I want Jesus to say, "You have this on hand? Oh, I see it's o.k. for business, just don't bring that idolatrous thing into my spiritual life." Maybe that's why he calls them hypocrites, they compartmentalize their lives. What's acceptable over in this sphere is not acceptable in that sphere and vice versa. How I conduct myself in my spiritual life has no bearing on how I conduct myself in society. I love God, but I have to consider what's mine! Jesus is my homeboy, but if you cross me, you're going down!

After some Socratic questioning Jesus concludes with "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." Jesus says to give to the emperor what is his because the coin bears his likeness and title. The emperor put his picture and name on the coin to say,"This is mine."

Then Jesus says give to "God the things that are God's." There it is. But what is God's? What are the things that are to be rendered to God? It's terrible in it's simplicity: we are. We are the things that are God's. Were we not "sealed as Christ's own forever" at our baptisms? Even more, we were Christ's at creation, because "through him all things were made" as the creed affirms. Indeed all creation will eventually join with Christ at the end of all time at the great banquet (in seminary we call it the eschatological banquet, it's the second coming, when Christ will marry himself to us in a new,complete, and utter way).

At baptism we are sealed as Christ's own forever. In fact, the chrism with which we are sealed, in the old usage, meant to seal, like a noble would seal, with wax, a document, to insure that it would not be tampered with. We are God's because we carry his seal, not unlike the coin, which bore the emperor's likeness, we bear Christ's image. We belong to God, we are the things that belong to God, that we should render unto him. We are. In our totality. We can give God everything, our faith, our doubt, our resentments, our joy, our anxiety, our bad psychology, give him everything, it's o.k. We were God's; before there was a "we" or an "I," or even a world. "Through him all things were made."

It's like the deeply theological hymn says: Oh, how I love Jesus, oh, how I love Jesus, oh, how I love Jesus, because he first loved me. Jesus Christ, God, loved us, loved everything first. This is not a transaction, we didn't cause God to love us. His love is simply a fact of life: the creator of the universe loves you, and you have access to that love, free! Isn't that exciting?

It kind of makes rendering to Caesar, sort of a joke.

Let us pray: BCP p. 252

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Fresh Air...

I've just finished this interview from Fresh Air. It is an interview with Katherine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA (or as my mother calls her the Arch-bishop, ain't no arch bishops in America, Mom!) I ususally think of Terry Gross, the host, as one of the most informed interviewers in the biz, but here she really shows some real ignorance. Now as I write that, I had an insight. There was one point in the interview where Gross asked a question about the divisions in the church and Bishop Schori wanted to clarify some things about the full humanity of Jesus, but Gross interupted her to say that the conservatives must see Jesus as only divine. Now, I know that Terry Gross can't be up on all the points of Christian christology, even a fundamental one like this (I could go on about this, I think if a poll went out into most churches this week the results would come back that most folks are heretics, along Nestorian or Gnostic lines). What got me about this interview was that Gross thought the issues at hand in the Episcopal/Anglican divide were more serious than sexuality. This is one thing that I've heard from more conservative episcopalians,"if the Episcopal Church doesn't proclaim Jesus as the Son of God, well then..." and on it goes. Where is this happening exactly? Maybe I need to get into New Testament to realize that Jesus is not Lord. That was a joke. Right?
I visited with some friends this weekend and they asked lots of good ontological questions about the affect of seminary on me. I think what is happening is that I've become more orthodox (small O) in my theology. Funny thing is that I think that Christianity, that is the understanding that God has made God's self available utterly to humanity in a historical person, and that the foundation of all being is Love, is clearly the most liberal thing in the world (and heaven).

Sorry for the stream of conscious...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Long time...

I haven't touched this blog in so long it was no longer in the history pull down! Update: we're in reading week, I've been reading and writing alot. Read Frederick Buechner's memoir: The Sacred Journey for my creeds class. It was top notch, required reading for modern Christians. Nativity! I will be preaching this Sunday, look for me.

Here's a song by my new hero:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Man

This video is eerily apropos to a discussion in Spirtuality for Ministry today...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Millenium Development Goals

If you look hard you can find Bishop Alexander of Atlanta and his lovely wife Lynn.

An overview of the MDGs

How to help with the MDGs

Ecumenical Councils

The first three hundred years of the Christian church was a time of sorting, vetting, and fighting over the doctrine of what the heck happened in the person of Jesus and what that says about God. The debate rages on...Click below to get a good laugh.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Render unto Cesaer...

Several pastors across the country have held a Pulpit Freedom Summer. In the reports I have seen and read, they all seem to support John McCain. Why not any Obama supporters? Anyway, the in and outs of IRS exemption are a little scary. Should we skirt the whole thing and do as Frank Zappa says in Heavenly Bank Account "Tax the churches, tax the businesses owned by the churches!" How can a church be prophetic (profetic?)While on the dole?
Read all about it?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Time and it's motion

I'm studying for my spirituality for ministry class and noticing (again and again) that time as we know it is just whack. I guess the idea of linear time sprang up sometime during the Enlightenment. But time is so clearly cyclical. Nature, mysticism, liturgy, and youtube all agree. Here are some meditations on time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'm collecting collects

Collect, pronounced collick (like the baby coughing thing), these are prayers and Episcopalians love 'em. These prayers have a set form (formula for those who only find value in spontaneous prayer). We learned about that form in our creeds class.

Here's the form:
1.)Address to God
2.)Description of God in specific terms of action or attribute
3.)A petition
4.)The result..."so that we may...)
5.)Mediation statement...by the Holy Spirit...Our Lord J.C. etc.

Personally, I found this to be a very meditative experience, that tooko longer than I thought. Also, as the article said that we read, I spent more time thinking about God than my own desire and petition, imagine that!

Here goes, I think I'll try to add an original or favorite collect about once a week.

Holy Creator, you have made yourself known to us in the flesh of Jesus the Nazorean. Sanctify, we pray, the work of our bodies. So that our labors may be a shining forth of your faith in us. Through Jesus Christ, our friend and God.

Who's got the guts to post their own?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesday Creed

Since my Creeds class is on Wednesdays, I think I'll post a creed:

We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created man and wanted man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the earth. We have known this High God in the darkness, and now we know him in the light. God promised in the book of his word, the Bible, that he would save the world and all nations and tribes.

We believe that God made good his promise by sending his son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left his home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing that the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He was buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, he rose from that grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.

We believe that all our sins are forgiven through him. All who have faith in him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love, and share the bread together in love, to announce the good news to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.

This is the Masai Creed from the Congregation of the Holy Ghost in East Nigeria,1960.
I love that this creed uses their worldview, hyenas, tribes, safari. I also like that it places Jesus in a tribe, we too often forget that Jesus was born a Jew, and lived as a Jew. It is very hard and cheapens his ministry greatly to separate Jesus from Judaism. To learn more about creeds listen and read here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I couldn't resist.

Such a beautiful sound from a simple idea:

Notes Part Deux

Here are my notes in raw form for the litugical year. First off a meditation: The liturgical year allows us to enter into the multi-faceted, multi-valent life of Christ. To simply focus on teh crisis event of Second Birth, i.e. being born again, dramatically narrows the focus of the gospels.

The Easter Cycle
1.) Ash Wednesday
a.)forty days of Lent
b.) Triduum=
1.)Maundy Thursday
2.)Good Friday
3.) Easter Sunday

2.)50 days of Easter
a.)Feast of the Ascension
b.)Concludes with Pentecost

Time after Pentecost, aka ordinary time, about 6 months.
a.) Green growing season
b.) A shift occurs towards end of Pentecost, Nov. 1= All Saints.

As the church year draws to a close we begin to meditate on the end of time (the eschaton){personally I'm a big eschaton fan,however I don't consider the end of time like the Rapture people do. Think Flow, zen, the end of time...}
During this time, the close of the year/time we naturally have Christ the King, which acknowledges the culmination of all things in Christ (proof that God is literally liberal.)

More to come...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Notes Part One

Here are my notes, enhanced through the wonders of the internet, from my Spirituality for Ministry class. The readings and lecture were on the Liturgical Church year and more generally about how Christians have encountered time and how the liturgical calander is a way for us to live with the communio sanctorum.

Notes from 9/16/08: Spirituality for Ministry: The Church Year.

The Christian Liturgical Year:
--why not simply celebrate Easter and Christmas? The fullness of life in Christ demands a more faceted approach. We can concentrate on all the many aspects of the Mystery of Christ.

--Mystery of Christ? Specifically, the Mystery of Christ refers to the events of the Gospels—but also the larger milieu of God. We can’t fully grasp the Mystery, but we can be grasped by it—think ocean (we can swim in it, but we don’t comprehend it’s depth.)

--the church year allows us to step into the gospel, it invites our meditation on the gospel.

Two main cycles at work in the Christian year:
1.) Christmas Cycle
2.) Easter Cycle

1.) Christmas Cycle—fixed date of 12/25
--took the place of the pagan holiday of Saturnalia, the winter solstice.
-a time of the return of the light.

-pagans used sympathetic magic (lights, greenery) to entice the Light back into the world. Many Christian prayers deal with light:
Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives…(BCP 213).

a.) Four Sundays of Advent
b.) 12 Days of Christmas-leading to Jan. 6-see below. The days of 3 Kings day, and the Baptism of our Lord, where earlier holidays than Christmas, historically.
c.)January 6-Eastern church=Baptism of our Lord (epiphany)

Western church=3 Kings (also an Epiphany but this holiday commemorates the Gentiles recognition of JC. Episcopalians celebrate both (naturally), Jan.6=Three Kings, and The Baptism is the 1st Sun. of Epiphany.
d.) Epiphany—up to 9 Sundays, Epiphany a showing forth of Jesus’ divinity and mission. See Hymn 135.
--Last Sunday of Epiphany-always the Transfiguration, which is the last epiphany—a proleptic experience of the resurrection. (proleptic means to remember the future (see Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse 5)).
The Transfiguration happens just before Ash Wednesday.

More to come.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ecce Quom Bonum!

Tonight was the first in what I hope will be a semi-regular event: Soup and Service music. We invited the Juniors over to practice our chants, then eat! Thanks to all those who came. Pictured: SB from the ATL, BS from Nebraska (former Presbytarian minister who's seen the Episcopal Light), and KWB from Kentucky (her voice is an exact clone of my friend Shannon C.)

Birth and slow death of a nickname.

During orientation we took the requisite Myers Briggs personality index. Mine: ENTP. When I took this test last summer,I had the same type, but the shrink moved me into ENFP after speaking with me, go figure. Here is me quoting myself, from over a year ago on this very blog: we (my priest and I)talked about my frustration in talking with psychologists and others whereby my personality type, ENFP on the Myers-Briggs scale, was used repeatedly to explain all manners of my behavior. Now it is my experience, and reading of many mystcs, Christian, Zen, and Vedanta, that the personality is a shell, a narrow tube which we mediate experience through. A relationship with God has a way of transforming that narrow view. Spirituality is always a process of unlearning the narrowness that our conditioning and ourselves have set upon us. It is natural for us to want to pigeon hole each other, but I think, the test is ultimately a good tool, but only that.

Anyway, I noticed that my scale for extroversion was rather high, 26 on a scale of 30. What is the extrovert/introvert spectrum? It's how we process information. I agree that I process information in public, but I'm not convinced that I'm a classic extrovert. But that didn't stop me from publicly asking about my score, but I was sly you see:
Set up: The facilitator just got done telling us that lower scores (0-10)meant the person was more balanced, so I asked:
"I have this friend, who scored 26 on E, does that means he or she in unbalanced?"
"No, we would just say that 'your friend' (she did the air quotes)is a FLAMING E!"

And so, the nickname began. The funny thing is, the lady who really likes my nickname and loudly proclaims it, is the most loquacious, garralous, extrovert I've ever encountered. Thankfully, after a month, the name is dying down. But I am coming to terms with my extrovertedness, if only BSB can forgive me for opening our house to about thirty people tonight to study our service music. And since they are coming, we might as well feed them...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's got a good beat and I can dance to it...

BSB, aka The Good Wife, and I are in the The School of Theology Choir (so is my class mate Andy). We had our first "show" today, at the Wednesday Community Eucharist. I think we did very well, and we are big, the choir was finished with the Communion hymn before even the entire choir was finished with communion, makes you scratch your head.

Re: hymns, here is my favorite: I Bind Unto Myself This Day (KARAOKE!)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Honey Moon...

Well, it's starting to feel like work. The classes are ramping up, papers are due, there are several other deadlines, and we are encouraged (is strongly welcomed a phrase yet?) to attend chapel at least six times a week. My personal goal is 8 times a week, because I've been a part of low church for so long I feel I need to go, just for the liturgy. The School of Theology offers three services a day: Morning Prayer, Noon Eucharist (full-on church with Communion), and Evening Prayer.

For the past two days, the last thing I needed for my time management was to go take a break for 45 minutes and go to church. But it is always an exceedingly healing activity for me. I'll need to remember this when things get really hairy. During orientation the Dean talked about the importance of physical health and how it can be maintained even in crisis, it is the same for our spirits, we need spiritual exercise, so we can weather this life. The truth, church is work. At the Eucharist, we meet God's past,present, and future, face to face. Why wouldn't it be work?

BTW, the photo is of Bede Griffiths, visonary monk, who knew something about spiritual exercise and discipline; and, apropos of nothing here is a quote of his to chew on: We're now being challenged to create a theology which would use the findings of modern science and eastern mysticism which, as you know, coincide so much, and to evolve from that a new theology which would be much more adequate.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I've got the need, the need for Creeds!

I had my first class today: Creeds. We will be studying the history, development, and neccesity of the Creed (and creeds). We have what seems to be a very good prof., mostly because she quoted Piaget, who has a warm spot in this old Montessori heart. The first exercise we had in class was to meditate, silently for 10 minutes, on what we believe. Then she asked us to write it down, without saying so, we were creating our first creeds. Here is mine, please excuse the almost utter lack of overt christian dogma (and exceedingly loose when it does), I thought the idea was to get to the very base of our beliefs:

There seems to be more than there is.
I believe our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin, and mind mediate experience.
I believe there is something Other, we deliniate and frame this Other as God; we do this dumbly.
I believe humanity has a special relationship with the Other and the Other with humanity. This relationship might be familial.
The Other, became wholly unified with humanity, somehow, in the historical person of Jesus of Nazareth.
I believe in the evolution of the spirit to greater freedom and non-attachment, these are our signs of solidarity with the Other.

There it is. Likely to change soon. Besides, the Nicene Creed wasn't written in five minutes.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Can we start already?

I'm just about oriented out. We are in the middle of a two day workshop from CREDO, which is a group from the Episcopal Church Pension Group. All the info is great but I want to start talking theology. I'd like to be in discussion, can we just commence with the larnin'?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Promised Land

Can a landscape be healing? Surely, that's why people go the beach, mountains, etc. Does this mean there are toxic landscapes? I won't go in on that at this time, but suffice it to say that I had no idea how healing simply being up here can be. Here's some pics of a drive down the mountain to get some milk.

Chapel of All Saints