Eric Carle: The Grouchy Ladybug
Alighieri Dante: Penguin Classics Divine Comedy #2 Purgatorio
Musa's version will be used for the blog series. It's good, readable, and has helpful notes for those who are new to Dante. (*****)
Most times when the lectionary leaves out a bit, it is usually a tale of woe or some such equivalent. This week's "official" reading is Luke 14:1, 7-14. Which of course leaves out verses 2-6. I wonder if the modern editors simply did not think that this passage "belongs" in this story.
The main story is about Jesus coming to a banquet at the Pharisee's house, and what he says there. The little interruption comes in the form of a miracle of healing on the Sabbath - the man with the withered hand. So it makes sense that this interruption is dropped from the reading, right? I mean, after all, we are never interrupted. At least not that we notice. By people who need help. As we are on our way to a banquet. On the Sabbath.
14:1 On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.
"they were watching him closely" - as should we all
- update: I'll have to finish this later; there is some sort of loud activity happening which does not sound as if the gift of charity is being exercised in its fullest expression by the younger members of the felix clan...
-update #2 (sept 1): wow, can you believe it took me two days to get the kids to quiet down? here's some of the notes
note to self: one of the things that sort of bothers me about the editing out of 2-6 in the lectionary version is simply that at the end of the parable, Jesus makes explicit reference to inviting the lame and the crippled; and yet a story which relates to one of them is edited out. It strikes me that to edit this passage on the basis of having covered the same material last week is to miss the point that last week's story focussed on healing on the sabbath in a synagogue, while this encounter happens precisely as they are going to a banquet - a banquet to which it does not appear the lame man is invited, which is exactly the point The editing treats the episode as merely another type of sabbath healing, which I suggest is insufficient. I suggest the editing also treats people in the gospel merely as "types" and not as persons - "we had a crippled healed last week, we don't need to cover that ground again."
Luke 14:1, 7-14
[blessed are those who are called to the wedding feast of the Lamb]
14:1 On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.
The very first line of this morning’s Gospel reading actually gives us something to think about: Luke tells us that as Jesus was going off to the Pharisee’s house to have a Sabbath meal, “they were watching him closely”. That is a rather obvious way of saying that they were paying attention to every detail of what Jesus was doing and saying; a cynic or a realist might say that they were spying on him.
But at least they go this right, whatever their motives might have been: it is important to watch Jesus closely, to pay attention to the details of what he says and how he acts; to keep our eyes attentively on him. We might follow their example, but with a different motive in mind.
14:7 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable.
It appears that Jesus is also paying close attention – he is watching how the guests tend to choose the “places of honour”. Not only are people watching Jesus closely, but he as well is watching them closely. Jesus notices the details of people’s lives – the guests who come to the Pharisee’s house, how they act, what they do. And Jesus is watching still – he notices the details of our lives.
14:8 "When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 14:9 and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, 'Give this person your place,' and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.
As Jesus is watching , he notices and comments on one general tendency which we humans have: - we tend to assume that we are more important than we really are. Surely there can’t be anyone more important than me coming to this banquet, right? I deserve this place of honour at the high table. I should be publicly recognized for the great person I am. I have the right to take whatever seat I want.
This is when self esteem crosses the line and becomes pride – the deadliest of spiritual diseases. Jesus shows us what happens when pride goes public. It results in the guests thinking that they are running the wedding banquet. They essentially try to take over what belongs to the host. Only the host can hand out the seats. yet these guests have such a high opinion of themselves that they expect everyone else to share that opinion. It is a case of “Look at me; I am important here and you all should take notice.”
But, Jesus goes on, what happens if the host should arrive and actually tell the guest: “You’re in the wrong place, I actually want someone else to sit here.”
In the kingdom of God things often work in an upside down-fashion. If you want a place of honour, you can only get to it by being humble. And if you live in humility, then you will end up being honoured. If you seek public recognition and glory and applause from others, you will end up without it. But if you seek only to love and to serve, you will end up getting glory and applause from the One who really matters – from God.
14:10 But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you.
How many of us would naturally choose to sit at “the lowest place”? And it is here that perhaps the highest form of honour occurs: the host comes and says “Friend”. What higher honour could there being than being called “friend” by the host of the banquet?
14:11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."
Here we see that there is a certain amount of paradox in the Kingdom of God, some things don’t work quite the same way that we would expect them to work. And the kingdom of God is full of these sorts of things: love your enemies; give away your possessions in order to be rich; the first will be last and the last will be first;
14:12 He said also to the one who had invited him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid.  But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
Jesus is warning us against the “what’s in for me?” syndrome. That is, our generosity can be conditioned by expecting something in return. And we won’t give, unless we are sure we can get something in return.
Instead, Jesus gives us another example of “kingdom thinking”, and a picture of grace. There are two senses: yes, Jesus does mean for us to invite “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind”. And to see ourselves as the poor and blind invited to the wedding banquet. In giving to those who cannot repay we imitate God, who gave to us what we cannot repay.
Gene Robinson, New Hampshire
Bill Atwood and Bill Murdoch consecrated bishops in Nairobi; to serve as missionary bishops to the U.S.
story at BBC, and all over the anglican blogosphere
One church, one faith, one Lord...
it was the early 60's. A time of social upheaval and revolution. Eyes were turned toward the new movements in music, literature and politics which were sweeping the Western world. But the cultural phenomenon which toppled Christendom once and for all came in a Trojan horse built in Austria. It was the release of the nefarious "Sound of Music", with its anti Christian slogans, which signaled the final assault on public morality.
Perhaps this is nowhere better seen than in the song "I Have Confidence". Just a cursory glance at the lyrics shows how far the decay had set:
I have confidence in sunshine
I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again.
We see in the first two lines quoted that the latent paganism which had inhabited the pre-Christian world is again on the rise. Appeals to the powers of "sun" and "rain" are obvious incitements to nature worship. Having confidence that "spring will come again" is an obvious reference to the fertility cult and the power of the "gods" to bring the cycle of nature to fruition again. No doubt this is intended to lead eventually to sacrifice, as it had in early Canaanite religions.
Besides which you see I have confidence in me.
Here of course Maria exalts herself as "goddess" - she is the sole source of her "confidence". There is no appeal to any form of deity beyond of the self. Like the apotheosis of Roman power in the persona and cultus of the Emperor, Maria has been elevated like a Caesar, into the realm of divinity.
I have confidence in confidence alone
Finally there is a descent into the nihilistic solipsism of sefl-referential existence. Not content to persuade the masses into nature worship, Maria encloses the principal of "confidence" back upon itself. This final act of defiance of both external dependence and responsibility toward anything which which might be considered an "other", is a sheer negation of the outward movement toward community which is the mark both of humanity as zoeon logon politikon (the animal that speaks and lives in the polis - the city), and the self-reflective life of the deus in sui as Trinity.
I going to write to someone, and let them know the truth.
The commemoration day of Saints Augustine is drawing near. You might say his feast is fast approaching. The only reason I am posting this is so I could make that horrible pun.
But for some real fun, how about a warm up to the festivities? Something I've been poking away at for a little while when the time allows. Not all the notes and refs are there, but I'll put them in at some point.
It will probably only be of interest to folks like Mind Your Maker, but you know, we all have our own idea of fun.
Wittgenstein thrice quotes from Augustine's Confessions in the Philosophical Investigations . He began his Philosophical Investigations with a quotation from book one of the Confessions, where Augustine described how he learned to speak. His critique of the "Augustinian Picture theory" of language, which extended to paragraph 64, provides "a convenient focus to present (in his new idiom) points of agreement as well as disagreement with his earlier thought." At paragraph 89, he quotes from book XI, and Augustine's famous dilemma about understanding temporality. We know what time is, but if we ask "what is time" we seem not to be able to explain it. And at paragraph 436, we find Wittgenstein again quoting from book XI. Concerning words, they are "manifest and ordinary, and yet the things themselves are too deeply hidden, and discovering them is new". As Augustine's description of language from the Confessions seemed a good point of departure for Wittgenstein's further investigations into the nature of language, so I propose to continue the relationship.
Wittgenstein, in his preface to the Tractatus, tells his readers the meaning and method of his work:
Its whole meaning could be summed up somewhat as follows: What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent... The book will, therefore, draw a limit to thinking, or rather--not to thinking, but to the expression of thoughts... (TLP, Ogden translation; Routledge, 1992, p 27)
From the outset of the TLP, Wittgenstein was convinced that the problems of philosophy stemmed from a "misunderstanding of the logic of our language" , a misunderstanding which was to be cleared once one understood that logic. Thus a correct understanding of his work will take into account both the meaning and the method of the TLP. How we arrive at the union of the two is done through an examination of language, or more properly, through language itself.
Wittgenstein further elaborated on the purpose of his early work in a letter to his publisher, Von Fricker:
“I would suggest that faith is everyone's business. The advance or decline of faith is so intimately connected to the welfare of a society that it should be of particular interest to a politician.”
Reading Wilberforce reminds me of that uncomfortable feeling I had when I first began to realize that Jesus fed the crowds not before, but after He delivered His sermon. Wilberforce’s Real Christianity is touted as “the book which helped end slavery in Britain”. Those of us used to political and activist writing might be surprised to learn that Wilberforce says very little about the “issue” of slavery. Instead, he addresses the spiritual state of the nation, believing that an authentic and lively faith in Christ was the chief cause for the social ills of his time. Wilberforce’s approach seem counter-intuitive to many of us.
In 1797 Wilberforce, a member of Parliament for the County of York, published a small book which has come to be known as "A Practical Guide to Real Christianity." The original title gives us a much clearer picture of what Wilberforce intended to accomplish with his work:
A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes in This Country, Contrasted with Real Christianity
It was a book that immediately caught public attention. Kevin Belmonte, an up-and-coming scholar of Wilberforce's text, notes that the book became an immediate "bestseller" of the time and went through five editions within six months. 15 more editions would be printed in Britain before 1826, and 25 editions would be published in the US. It was translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
A new, rather paraphrased edition has been prepared by Dr Bob Beltz [Ventura, CA: Gospel Light/Regal, 2007]. This new edition is simply titled "Real Christianity", and retains the thought and powerful message of Wilberforce's original text. One of the things I quite appreciate about Beltz’ versions is how he has retained the occasional emphasis with which Wilberforce wrote: italics and capitalization are kept in those passages where Wilberforce himself used them. This gives the reader a fuller sense of the passion of the original text. Some of what Wilberforce writes shows that the work is very much a product of his times, but the message of "authentic faith" is a timeless challenge to "cultural Christianity".
Chapter 1: The State of Contemporary Christianity:
Wilberforce intends his readers to understand that his book is addressed to those who profess to be Christians. His lament is one that might be echoed by many today: “I fear for the future of authentic faith in our country. We live in a time when the common man in our country is thoroughly influenced by the current climate in which the cultural and educational elite propagates an anti-Christian message”.  He places great emphasis on the Bible – he refers to it throughout the book. He is also clear in his opinion that “what we believe determines how we live”. Belief precedes action and determines its direction.  He challenged those who have “settled for cultural Christianity and remained ignorant or unresponsive to authentic faith”. 
Chapter 2: Current Ideas About the Nature of Man
Wilberforce immediately addresses what he sees as the root: “the majority of Christians overlook, deny, or at the very least minimize the problems of what it means to be a fallen human being”.  He asks his readers to take the problem of evil seriously. This means being conscious of sin as an expression of fallen humanity. He gives us two examples of the causes of sin. In keeping with much of the thought of his time, he refers twice to giving in to our “lower nature” and “appetites” [29, 33], and it is clear that he is working within the framework of the rational Enlightenment. However, he also challenges the materialist assumption that there is no “supernatural” agency involved in evil. Wilberforce warns his readers to take seriously the existence of supernatural forces that tempt and corrupt. He calls us to take into account how demonic activity is at work in the human heart”. 
Chapter 3: Understanding Cultural Christianity
Wilberforce begins with 11 “essential facts about Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit which the Bible teaches, and, historically, the Church embraced”.  His 11 essential facts seem to be a propositional form of the classic creeds. While he argues that “truths’ are foundational to authentic faith, the center of religion is a “commitment to Jesus Christ” . He then adds to this rationalist approach by expanding on the necessary role of emotion in authentic faith [47-54]. In a line that is worth pondering, Wilberforce states that “[e]motions must be judged by what arouses them . He then returns to the problem of “faulty thinking” about both the Spirit and the nature of God. His summary at this point is just this: “For those who attempt to reduce faith to a system of ethics, we respond with the words of Jesus: ‘The work of God is this: to believe the one he sent’” . What Wilberforce attempts to point out is that in his experience of contemporary society, those who practice a cultural Christianity of a system of ethics, rather than belief with ethics, fail to do justice to the ethics they proclaim. This is because without authentic faith, one has no power to rise above fallen nature [chapter 2] and actually put into practice the ethics that Christ taught.
Chapter 4: True Standards of Christian Behavior
“We say that Jesus is our Savour, but we forget that he also said that He is our example. he not only said ‘Believe in me’, but also, ‘Follow me.’”  And here Wilberforce encourages his readers to recognize that “the pursuit of holiness is a joy.” This of course has long been the secret of the Christian life – holiness and joy are not mutually exclusive, but inseparably intertwined. The great sin to which we are tempted is idolatry – anything which is in competition to our wholehearted love of God. Again, it is faith which precedes action: “It is almost impossible to live as Christ taught if we do not have a transforming belief that changes the way we live.”  A necessary part of this call to Christ-like behavior is self examination. Wilberforce refers to this process several times. [104 ff] it is the Christian equivalent of the dictum, the unexamined life is not worth living. And Wilberforce encourages us to be diligent and honest in our self examination.
He gives us a simple answer to the problem of our morality: “It is the neglect of study of the bible and reflection on the life of Christ that is at the heart of the practical errors of the majority of professing Christians.” [121 A rather simple remedy, but there you have it. If we were to focus our time and energy on just those two pursuits, I’m certain we, and our churches would experience transformation.
Chapter 5: Arguments for True Christianity
This is the shortest chapter in the book – only 7 pages in all. Here Wilberforce explains that he is “not trying to give proof of the truth of Christianity”, but rather it is in this chapter that he tells his readers that “Not only is the gospel intended for all of humanity, but it also has a special place among the poor.”  And perhaps this is exactly one of the chief “arguments” for the living in authentic faith: that the gospel is for the poor.
Chapter 6: The Current State of Christianity
Wilberforce next looks at the broader question of the influence of “authentic Christianity” in the culture at large. He is critical of a national Church which has become simply indistinguishable from the general culture.  He turns his attention away from the personal faith of which he wrote in the first 4 chapters, and instead writes more directly about the relationship of the institution of the Church to the institution of the nation politically. He describes himself as a patriot, but not a nationalist.  He takes some pains to show that at least on one point, the aims of Christianity and the aims of politics coincide – each is concerned to root out “natural selfishness” in order to “develop a proper sense of who we are and what our obligations are to our fellow human beings.” 
Wilberforce also recognizes, at least in part, that the political and economic systems of his day were not “naturally Christian”. In fact he goes on to compare the health of the Church in times of persecution with what he sees as a moral decay brought about by too much attachment to new found mercantile wealth. It is not that such recent “progress” is in itself bad (he praises the many benefits which have come with such progress), but he carefully asks his readers to think critically about the systems in which they find themselves.
Chapter 7: Practical Hints About Authentic Faith
Here Wilberforce turns his attention away from the larger political questions and back to the individual. He looks again at the importance of self examination, noting that it is one of our great problems that we do see our faults as clearly as God sees them, nor do we perceive their gravity. He gives some advice for those of younger years – both to men and women of marriageable age – also touches on the faults he has seen in the aged. Temptation is everywhere present; he stresses a need for constant vigilance in spiritual growth. Here in this chapter Wilberforce tells us that a social "benevolence" is the natural outcome of authentic faith. "Private" faith will have an impact on the public sphere.
For Wilberforce, the route to a transformed nation is primarily through transformed individuals. He calls cultural Christians to examine themselves and he urges them toward “authentic faith”. Wilberforce himself used the phrase “Evangelical Christianity” in his original text, and this book gives us a more complete picture of what evangelicalism should be about: a lively faith coupled with a benevolence for humanity, all for the glory of God.
Beneath my ostensibly suave exterior lies the heart of a stamp collector. It's true. And through my philatelic associations I recently discovered Oxfam's "Stamp Out Hunger" program. The program is a really simple way to raise funds to support Oxfam's projects around the globe. Anyone who gets a letter in the mail can participate.
STAMP OUT HUNGER
What do students from the Parkview Public School in Melville Saskatchewan have in common with a store in Iqualit, Nunavut, an insurance company in Ottawa and a manufacturer in Belleville, Ontario? They and hundreds of others are collecting used stamps and envelopes for Oxfam Canada's Stamp Programme. Even Provincial premiers and a former Prime Minister have donated stamps to help stamp out poverty.
How the money is raised
Those used stamps and envelopes can add up. Oxfam Canada volunteers raise about $10,000 annually by sorting and selling stamps to collectors. Over $130,000 has been given to Oxfam from the Stamp Programme since it started in 1980.
What you should save
- foreign stamps
- Canadian stamps
- commemorative stamps
- Keep the entire envelope if there are:
- clearly identifiable town/village postmarks
- registered/special delivery postmarks
Where should I send the stamps?
Once you've collected the stamps and envelopes they can be delivered to any Oxfam Canada office or sent directly to either:
250 City Centre Avenue
200 - 215 Spadina Avenue
So start saving those stamps. I'm going to contact a few fellow philatelists and see if we can help out with this project. If you want, you can also just drop off your stamps & empty evelopes at St Tim's church (145 St & 84 Ave). Just put it in our mailbox & mark the package "Oxfam".
There, wasn't that easy?
Grace Akallo was 15 years old when she was abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army from St. Mary's College in Aboke, Uganda. “Girl Soldier” tells the tale of her own ordeal, as well as shedding light on the history of the conflicts – political and spiritual - which have been part of the landscape of the “pearl of Africa” for decades.
Grace tells her story, which is ultimately “hopeful”, in short first person pieces. It is interspersed with the writing of Faith McDonnell, a Christian activist and author. I think the “back and forth” format of book does not work as well as intended, but I can overlook that fault for two reasons.
First, Grace tells her story in a style which emphasizes the role of prayer. Again and again she tells us how, in the midst of unthinkable evil, her heart turned to prayer. There is very little “shock value” writing. It is the bare bones of a Christian seeking God in the midst of a trial most of us could not even begin to imagine.
Second, I found Faith’s history of the conflicts enlightening. While I was aware of the general plight of the people of northern Uganda, I knew only a little of the history behind these conflicts. Faith supplies ample research and documentation for a novice to Ugandan history. It is remarkable. I’m not particularly prone to using such language, but if I was ever to point to something and call it “spiritual warfare”, then this is it. I found myself agreeing with her conclusion that “some battle is being waged that is beyond that of flesh and blood, beyond the world that we can see with our eyes.” 
I picked up this book yesterday evening and finished it somewhere around 2 in the morning. Every once in a while I would do some digging on the websites recommended in the book. As a father to 4 children, I can't even begin to imagine the nightmare that these children and their parents are enduring. The book offers a glimpse into this crisis, with a variety of resources and suggestions for those who are moved to prayer and action. The immediate humanitarian needs are enormous, as are the long term needs of reconciliation and forgiveness.
But as Archbishop Henry Orombi states in his preface to the book: "There is hope for Uganda because the Christ, who was born, walked our world and died as a sacrifice, is alive". 
Do children have a ministry beyond making the rest of us feel sentimental during church?
We often talk in our church about the "ministry of the baptized", meaning that we believe every baptized member of the church to have a ministry, a vocation. In the backs of our minds this often becomes "when they grow up and can do real ministry". But what if children have a real ministry, a real vocation, within the body of Christ now?
It is a subject which has been on my mind for a while - the ministry of children and fools. Partly it also comes out of my association with people with intellectual disabilities. I sense that there are two parts to their ministry (as there are two parts to mine). First is the broad ministry of presence: a more complete gathering of the body of Christ. But I find myself, and sometimes others, seeing their ministry as only a ministry of presence - a passive ministry by which they evoke certain responses or reactions in those around them, in those "regular" members of the Church. And perhaps for some that is the ministry to which they are called.
But what if they are called to other, more "active" ministries? The ministry of prayer comes to mind immediately. In our tradition, we have certain "intercessors" lead us in prayer each week, leading the "prayers of the people". What would happen if we discerned and encouraged, say, our children, to lead us publicly in prayer. And not in some sentimental sense of look-isn't-that-cute - now let's have someone pray whom God will really listen to. What if those in our midst with disabilities were encouraged in ministry beyond-evoking-feelings-in-us?
Just a thought. And in case you are wondering who the fools are...
There are a few directions I had been thinking of this week. Earlier this week we commemorated Bonhoeffer and Kolbe; two Christians who knew what it was to take up crosses and make enormously difficult choices. That got me thinking more about how suffering and sacrifice are often central to discipleship, as certainly as the Cross is central to the mission of Jesus. I don't recall hearing much preaching on the Cross (or delivering such) unless it is Good Friday or some such day, but I sense that these reading call it to attention.
 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!
We have two images of Jesus’ baptism in the Gospels. The first is his baptism in the river Jordan. We stand as observers and hear the voice of God declare that Jesus is the chosen one, the Beloved. It is often this first image which we think of when we hear the word baptism – the reassurance of God’s love. It is the image we most often turn to when we have baptisms in our church. We think of baptisms as benign at worse or joyful at best.
When Jesus speaks of baptism, his baptism, it is a powerful, even frightening and dangerous event. In Mark 10, Jesus also spoke about his “baptism”: James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ And he said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’
When Jesus talks about “baptism”, he does not speak about white dresses, presents from godparents and a light lunch afterward. He speaks of the cross: that “stumbling block” which somehow is at the center of his earthly mission. [And he also points to the resurrection, which is fully the time when “it is completed”.]
12:51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
My first thought of course is that we don’t need Jesus to divide families – we are perfectly dysfunctional as we are. How many families already experience such division – but over things much less important than the gospel of Christ?
These are words which we cringe to hear: Jesus the reconciler, the peacemaker, bringing division. We tend to forget that becoming a follower of Jesus sometimes has this literal cost. I can think of places I’ve traveled where becoming a Christian carries an enormous cost, certainly to the point of dividing families. We are so far removed from these situations that we think they don’t exist. They are historical or foreign to us.
Jesus calls us to examine our loyalties. These and other passages in which he challenges us: if there is a choice between allegiance to family and allegiance to Christ, will we follow him?
The reading from Hebrews gives us examples of others who were “baptized” with this baptism of Christ. Though they lived before his time, they too “took up their cross” by faith. They suffered. They died. And they by faith looked forward to "a better resurrection" [11:35].
“looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”
There's lots to fill out here, but my sense at this point is more and more leaning toward focusing on the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus: it's not just for holy week anymore. As the reading from Hebrews reminds us, the picture of the glorified Jesus at the right hand of God is via the cross.
I'll let you know.
The Crimean Stars Sanatorium in Alushta has devised a treatment called "wine therapy".
Dr Alexander Sheludko, who came up with the treatment, points out that medical research has shown that wine in moderation can be good for you. He boasts that hundreds of people have now had a taste of his medicine.
"Wine is a live product which contains vitamins. It has lots of compounds which are biologically active," he says.
There are seven different types of cocktails on offer.
The formula is simple - lots of dried herbs are mixed with lots of Crimean wine. Sometimes vodka is added for an extra kick.
Then all you have to do is sit back, relax and make sure you take your "prescription" three times a day for a week or two.
Small glasses of the drink are served from 0700 in the sanatorium's cafe.
from the BBC
note: I'm feeling a little (cough, cough) under the weather today. Anyone want to meet me at
Jeffrey's Wine Barthe local medi-center, say 7ish?
No photograph of him has ever been published, but those who know Daniel Miller say that he resembles his father. Some say it's the nose, others the mischievous glimmer in the eyes when he smiles, but the most telling feature, the one that clearly identifies him as Arthur Miller's son, is his high forehead and identically receding hairline. He is almost 41 now, but it's impossible to say whether his father's friends would notice the resemblance, because the few who have ever seen Daniel have not laid eyes on him since he was a week old.
Suzanna Andrews, writing in Vanity Fair (Sept/07) gives us a fascinating piece on playwright Arthur Miller, and his "deleted" son, Daniel.
...Only a handful of people in the theater knew that Miller had a fourth child. Those who did said nothing, out of respect for his wishes, because, for nearly four decades, Miller had never publicly acknowledged the existence of Daniel.
Daniel Miller lives with Down Syndrome. He was placed in an institution shortly after birth.
The Denver Post called [Arthur Miller] "the moralist of the past American century," and The New York Times extolled his "fierce belief in man's responsibility to his fellow man—and [in] the self-destruction that followed on his betrayal of that responsibility."
Out of sight, out of mind.
[dated August 14, 2007]
In any event, in anticipation of a response from the Primates and in light of the decisions of General Synod, we are planning a gathering for later this year – possibly November – to bring together like-minded Canadian Anglicans. Based on the Primates’ response, we hope at this event to be able to provide a specific way forward for those who feel they can no longer remain part of the Anglican Church of Canada...
Finally, it is critically important to keep in mind the context for all this:
• First, we are not alone. While we who are orthodox (i.e. biblically-faithful) may be in the minority in the Canadian Anglican church, we are part of the vast majority in the global church, where over two-thirds are orthodox. And, incidentally, while the liberal provinces and churches are shrinking in numbers, the orthodox provinces and churches are healthy, vibrant and growing.
• Second, the crisis is global. Canada is only one of 38 “provinces” in the global Communion.
• Third, it is a fundamental theological dispute – not merely a disagreement about sexuality. Issues of sexuality are merely symptoms of much deeper disagreements – namely the authority of Holy Scripture and the divinity of Christ. We uphold historic, biblically-faithful Christianity.
• Fourth, a global realignment has begun. This may well be another Reformation. It is not a matter of some “leaving” the Communion and others “staying”, but a complete realignment that will divide the Communion. On one side, will be the smaller liberal minority – largely wealthy Provinces likely Canada and the US. On the other side will be the orthodox majority – those who remain in the mainstream of historic and Biblical Anglican teaching and practice. Although in the majority, the orthodox are largely from less wealthy Provinces of the Global South.
full statement here. (and below, in case their site is down)
One of the more interesting series of conversations I had at our recent Anglican General Synod focused loosely on the emerging church stuff within the Anglican tradition. There are a number of people across the country doing fruitful things within the Anglican vocation, but with a twist of lemon. It is hoped that some of us might connect and contribute to renewing the way we do mission in our culture, and with our generation.
I've had a bit of an interest in things emerging for a while, mainly birthed from my time in ministry at a large university, and my association with some local ne'er do wells. Alice the Camel, faithful commentress on felix hominum, remarked that I am "ever sifting". While not all would agree with me, I suggest that there a a fair amount to be gleaned from some of the people, ideas and practices found in what has come to be labeled "emerging church."
An Emergent Manifesto of Hope: Key Leaders Offer an Inside Look
ed Doug Pagitt & Tony Jones Baker Books: 2007, and for those who count such things: 318 pages
EMH is a collection on short essays centered around the theme of hope. As Tony Jones writes in his introduction to the book, the limitations of such an approach are obvious: “How do you explain where you fit in the Emergent friendship in 3000 words? Or, worse yet, how do you describe your hopes and dreams for the future of God’s kingdom and your cooperation in it in as many words?” 
The essays are grouped under 5 broad headings; A People of Hope; Communities of Hope; A Hopeful Faith; A Hopeful Way Forward; and Hopeful Activism. Within the book you will certainly find things to love or hate – there are a variety of perspectives offered. Many of the contributors appear to be refugees from the Christianity of American modernism, especially of the evangelical variety, and there are a handful of authors with connections to the traditional “mainline” churches. As I’ve said elsewhere, the term “emergent” [or “emerging church”] is a catch all; you don’t really know what’s in the box just by reading the label.
I suggest that if you are unfamiliar with emergent, this book would give a good overview both of the variety of personalities in that conversation, and the breadth which is found within the movement. It will give you a flavour which you might not get from simply reading the critics, or from getting together with a few friends, and setting up some Celtic music and a bag of aromatic candles. One of the keys terms in the conversation is “friendship”. I suggest that the reclaiming of friendship as central to the Christian community is a breath of fresh air in an erotically driven age.
In the essay “The Art of Emergence: Being God’s Handiwork”, Troy Bronsink suggests that “we might view Emergent as a group, a creative agent in the midst of the church readapting prior symbols shared by postliberal and postevangelical Christians.”  One of the discoveries shared by several authors is the existence and importance of Christian community outside their previous experiences of “church’. This ranges from new ways of looking at neighbourhood to finding Christian community within prison walls. In this new awareness of community at least two authors expressed similar experience: “being agents for change while being continually transformed” [Maddok &Maddok, 88]; “Prison ministry is a type of spiritual formation that works both ways – it changes everyone involved” [Olson, 95].
Lest you think that community can only exist apart from traditional forms of church, Brian Mitchell, a Roman Catholic writer, offers this radical vision of community within the structure of the Diocese: “Every layer in hierarchical structure exists to serve the layer beneath, not the other way around. This is what separates true hierarchy from feudalism.”  He calls for a return to looking at the Diocese, not the parish, as the fundamental form of local community.
Several essays attempt to address the relationship between contemporary culture and the Christian faith. Ryan Bolger observes (rightly, I suggest) that it “is often very difficult for people to know the tendencies of their own culture.”  There is recognition that we are in a post Christendom era [165 ff], with a renewed emphasis beyond marketing models of church and into [caution: jargon crossing] missional living. “[W]e are going to have to let go of the attractional model – inviting people to come to us – and instead go to where they live, and to there, live out our faith.” [Taylor “Converting Christianity” 170].
A section devoted to “theology-shaped practice and practice-shaped theology” [171-243] is perhaps the most diverse section of the book. The topics range from rethinking the face of leadership, problems of inclusion all the way to a positive analysis of the value of Karl Barth’s thinking and methodology to the problems of contemporary culture. Here’s what Chris Erdman writes: [Barth] is like a jazz musician who knows the score so well he can freely improvise but without the foolishness of those naïve, would-be musicians who think they can soar in ecstasy without knowing their chords or being tutored by the tradition itself.” [“Digging Up the Past” 241].
In the last section, “Hopeful Activism”, I was most moved by Rodolpho Carrasco’s stories of Harambee Christian Family Center in East L.A. It reminded me very much of Jackie Pullinger’s dictum that we need to have “soft hearts and hard feet” in our service to the poor. All of the essays in this section draw out the implications of the previous section: examples of faith in action, touching the various incarnational issues of living as a human being, of a certain race, of a certain tribe, from bread in the mouth to kisses on the lips.
So what’s the nitty gritty? It is a good introduction to some of the people in Emergent circles, with enough variety in the choice of subjects and authors to keep you either engaged and provoked, or frustrated and simply shaking your head. The book is has a number of small gems popping up from time to time: I blogged one as my “quote of the day” a while ago. If you are already familiar with Emergent, you will probably recognize many of the names. And yes, there are a number of authors with whom I would disagree on some points, but there are others as well who have made me think more deeply about certain questions.
Bottom line: worth getting and reading.
An elderly couple threatened with deportation to wartorn Sierra Leone are being allowed to stay in Canada - for the time being.
A deportation order for Arnold and Pamela George has been stayed by a federal judge pending an investigation into whether their appeal was processed properly.
The Georges came to Edmonton in 2003 to be with their daughter, Arnolda, a Canadian citizen.
They were ordered to leave after Citizenship and Immigration Canada turned down their application for refugee status and an appeal based on humanitarian grounds.
Rev. Stephen Hallford of St. Peter's Anglican Church said the commissioner who reviewed the Georges's appeal "discounted (the) danger" they face as Krios, an ethnic and religious minority in Sierra Leone.
The Georges are active members of St. Peter's and the congregation has rallied around them in recent weeks.
from the Edmonton Sun
From last Sunday's reading, Isaiah 1: 17 "...learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow."
The following chapter was written for my first book "The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics" (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2001) back in 1999. Because the powers-that-be at Abingdon Press were predominantly supportive of homosexual unions, they did not want me to become “too practical.” They disagreed strongly with the policy decisions that I took in this chapter and so refused to publish it. I did nothing with the chapter because I was headed for a tenure decision and knew that my stances on these policy issues would further jeopardize my tenure—a tenure already (and ironically) jeopardized by publishing a book on the Bible’s view on homosexual practice that supported the official stance of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (with which my seminary was and is affiliated). After being awarded tenure in 2002 I more or less forgot about the chapter. However, a recent editorial in Presbyweb.com by the moderator of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. labeling as “A Deeply Pernicious Heresy” (Aug. 4, 2007) any attempt at withholding membership from persons who repetitively and unrepentantly engage in homosexual practice has served as a catalyst for me to release this chapter. It’s long overdue.
link to the "lost chapter" (pdf)
CHURCH POLICY AS REGARDS HOMOSEXUAL PRACTICE: MEMBERSHIP AND ORDAINED MINISTRY
A 'lost' chapter of my first book
(written 1999; publicly released Aug. 2007)
This particular sentence caught my eye: "They disagreed strongly with the policy decisions that I took in this chapter and so refused to publish it." A full and open dialogue needs to be full and open. During my time as a campus chaplain, I've had conversations with academics who have had similar encounters with publishers.
I'm trying out some custom css on the blog templates for a bit, so things could look a bit wonky over the next little while. It is a typepad feature I haven't really used that much, except for small things over at the pilgrim blog. So there will be some playing around with code, and if the place looks messy, I'll try to sweep it all up eventually and put it back together.
Details are now in place for the other Holy Land Pilgrimage we will be leading in 2008. June 2-14, 2008.
registration forms and itinerary in pdf to be posted soon... full details below:
Just a few thoughts I had been turning over this week. I know there are a few other folks out there and much better commentary resources, but I thought I would throw out this stuff and see what happens. Feel free to finish it up in the comments and send me a pdf before Sunday. I generally tend to work on my sermons out of the office - usually in a cafe somewhere in the neighbourhood. You can get into some good conversations with a laptop and a big honkin' Oxford Press bible on your table...
12:32 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
What is our image of God – we might read the words of Jesus as ominous warnings – which in one sense they are, unless we knew the comfort of Jesus’ other words; it is the Father’s pleasure to give us the kingdom.
33 Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
What is our response to the assurance that the Father is willing to give us the kingdom? It is to show the confidence that we do not need to accumulate stuff and material comforts. It is the besetting sin of our culture. What are you attached to? With what can you simply not bear to part?
35 "Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit;  be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them.  If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
39 "But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.
40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour."
What does it mean for the Son of Man to come at an unexpected hour? It has, I believe, at least two meanings. First and foremost is the literal return of Christ and the fullness of the kingdom, which has been anticipated from the earliest generation of Christians. St Paul and his companions believed that Jesus would return quite soon. And each time we celebrate communion, we “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again”. We say it each week – we repeat it in the creeds – until perhaps it becomes so familiar that we forget that it is an actual event, yet to come. We look for his coming again in glory. Or do we?
There is another sense in which the Son of Man comes at an unexpected hour. Jesus also tells us that we meet him in the least of his brothers and sisters. Perhaps the Son of Man will come to you today in an unexpected way, at an unexpected hour. This is when we “meet” Christ in those people we encounter. Both for good and negative sense. We meet Christ in the person who reassures us in our anxiety, who prays for us in our illness or trouble, who cares for us in our need. Sometimes the Son of Man comes at an unexpected hour. When the son of man comes in an unexpected person – the one who has the need, the one who is least, how do we respond? Do we have eyes to see Christ in others who are in need? Do we "give our alms" to the poor and to those in need?
How will Christ find us responding when he comes in those "unexpected hours"?
My sense is that people see this passage as implying either joy or dread. Jesus' teachings about his return certainly have a seriousness about them. But there is a difference between anticipating the coming of someone you love, and anticipating the return of someone you dread. If we love Christ, and have faith in Him, then his return will be joyful.
The Anglican Journal is offering copies of its "Anglican Journal Daily" - a quotidien report from GS 2007 in Winnipeg. News, photos, tidbits etc. You can get more info here.
As well, the Anglican Planet has a new issue online, with various takes, interviews and analysis on GS 2007. You can view it here.
I have had a number of people asking about the 2008 Holy Land Pilgrimages. At this point we have the details in place for "In the Footsteps of St Paul" (Turkey-Asia Minor - click here), and details are yet to come for a proposed "In the Footsteps of Jesus" pilgrimage (Israel-Palestine).
The Footsteps of St Paul pilgrimage will be limited to 20 pilgrims.
A friend sent me this take on the parable of the good samaritan - a sermon preached by Richard Holloway (former Anglican Primus of Scotland).
The original can be found here:
...I am also frustrated by lines like: The purpose of the Episcopal Church Center is to further God's mission, interpreted by the General Convention. In a democratic system we all know that ultimately the judge has more power than the law maker. The judge interprets and strikes down what they consider to be unconstitutional. The problem with this sentiment is that it now reads as if God has to get the assent of General Convention in order to proceed. Yes, yes, yes, I know there is interpretation involved, but this formulation gives the General Convention a form on infallibalism. General Convention speaks and the church does. The criteria should not be a vote of delegates but the understanding of the Church through the centuries. It is not like God's mission is written in code that must be deciphered. It is fairly straightforward: the Church is to partcipate in God's ongoing work of the redemption of the world started by Jesus and his death and resurrection and continuted through the work of the Holy Spirit until Jesus comes in glory to create the Kingdom of God. That should be the mission statement right there.
read the rest at Our Hearts Are Restless
The original statement is here.
Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, a Jew who converted to Catholicism and rose through church hierarchy to become one of the most influential Roman Catholic figures in France, died Sunday, the Paris archbishop's office said. He was 80...
World Jewish Congress (WJC) Deputy Secretary-General Maram Stern released a statement describing Lustiger as someone who "always knew what anti-Semitism, persecution and hatred meant for the Jewish people, and fought strenuously to overcome them. That is what he will be remembered for by many in the Jewish world."
Stern said: "Together with the late Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Lustiger was instrumental in fostering dialogue and a better understanding between Catholics and Jews, both on a personal and an institutional level. His efforts are a shining example to those who want foster mutual respect and understanding between religions and cultures."
from the Jerusalem Post
There is also a rather spirited discussion at the J'lem Post site. Can one be a "Jewish" Roman Catholic Cardinal?
you know, before I had kids, I would not have let my best friend touch one of my guitars.
how things have changed...
After making the announcement about Bishop Victoria's new direction this morning, I was reflecting on a time about 6 years ago. SJ was suffering from congestive heart failure in the womb; and Bishop Victoria spent time in prayer with our family, and with Alisa. They prayed the Magnificat together.
My soul doth magnify the Lord : and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded : the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him : throughout all generations.
He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel : as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed, for ever.
August 2, 2007
My dear, dear friends,
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
This letter announces that after ten years as your Bishop, I am resigning as of November 30th, 2007. Being Bishop of Edmonton has been a blessing beyond what words can express, and I am deeply grateful for your love, your prayers and the ministry we share in Christ our Saviour.
Just as the Holy Spirit called me to Edmonton in 1997, so I believe God is now calling me in a different direction. For over two years this has been present in my prayers and the time has come to say 'yes' to the prompting of the Spirit. Most recently I have become convinced that I am meant to resign as your Bishop before knowing what comes next. While this is a bit disconcerting, I am proceeding in obedience to what I believe is God's will.
Some will wonder if I have new health concerns, and others will ask if I am angry at the Anglican Church. The answer to both questions is no. I am well and I love our Church. I am an Anglican and hope to always minister in accordance with the grace and mercy of Christ our Saviour.
An electoral Synod will be held at All Saints' Cathedral, Edmonton on March 8, 2008. To begin the preparations for that Synod there will be a special Executive Council meeting on August 14th at 7:00 pm at the Cathedral. The Chancellor is writing a memorandum on what needs to be done to ready the Diocese for the electoral synod next year.
You will always be in my prayers and I know you will continue to live and minister the Gospel to the glory of God. I give thanks to God whenever I think of you.
(fyi: this copy was posted after the announcement in our local parish)
September 15, 2007
Cursillo volunteers who plan to participate on September 15, 2007 must complete and return the Volunteer Package, available below, before September 7. Final numbers will be reported to the project coordinator at Habitat for Humanity on September 7, 2007.
The forms may be submitted at an Ultreya (next one is August 17 at St Tim's).
Each volunteer must read, complete and sign the package, and view the 10 minute safety video at Habitat for Humanity's website.
Download forms at the bottom of this page.
And ps, you don't need to be a "member" of Cursillo to participate - everyone is invited to help. No building experience, special expertise or tools required.
We also have Bishop Victoria Matthews' "notes" from her teaching day with the Cursillo Community & beyond . She has graciously given permission to make them available on the web. The teaching notes cover topics related to the question: "How do Anglicans Understand Scripture?". She touches on the work of NT Wright and Rowan Greer, and provides great food for thought. (Remember that these are simply "notes" and not full lectures or papers)
Diocese of Edmonton Cursillo home page.