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!!