28 February 2006

Crystal Ball Gazing.

Al Kimmel makes a sad assessment of the Network future.
It’s hard, though, to see how Network dioceses can seriously and enthusiastically engage in evangelistic mission and church planting. Bishops and priests can declaim the imperative of mission and downplay, in un-Anglican-like fashion, the importance of the institutional Church; but the albatross of ECUSA is not easily escaped. Take down the “Episcopal Church Welcomes You” signs, if you wish; but everyone knows that Network parishes still belong to the Episcopal Church and that their property ultimately belongs to the folks in New York. Who wants to invest in new buildings that might one day belong to 815? Who in good conscience can summon the unchurched into communion, however impaired, with Frank Griswold and Gene Robinson? Network dioceses may be able to maintain themselves financially for a while, but eventually the old folks are going to die and the young committed folks are going to move on to ECUSA-free pastures.
Here's the whole thing.

Shrove Tuesday

The first of the daily Lenten meditations (for Shrove Tuesday) referred to below is up; click here and begin your Lenten cogitatin'. The Lent & Beyond site will have the each day's new meditation and a great many other Lenten resources & prayers as well.
Here's a piece of today's meditation:
As we consider Lent, let’s begin with the assumption that our imaginations are poor things, too stuffed with mashed potatoes to know all that God wants for us. We’re more like children who can only see the repressive and unwanted parental discipline but not the independence, the emotional and intellectual maturity that is the goal. We’re always down among the pigs, and every day begins with the realization that we can trust the Father. We’re a long way from home down a dry and dusty road, but the greeting at the end is beyond our imagination. In Lent, we fast a little, give up a little, for the sake of making room in our imaginations for something greater.

27 February 2006

Christ's Transfiguring Glory

Last Epiphany, Yr. B
St. Mark 9.2-9; 2 Peter 1.16-21
26 February 2006
St.Joseph of Arimathea

Sometimes it’s helpful to take a moment to remember where we are in the calendar of the Church. This morning, we come to the last Sunday in the season of Epiphany, the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday and the penitential season of Lent, leading to Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. In the current revision of the Lectionary – the list of lessons and Psalms appointed to be read Sunday by Sunday through the year – today, the last Sunday in Epiphany – we always read on of the Gospel accounts of that strange and glorious event in the life of Jesus we call “The Transfiguration.” The Transfiguration also, as most of you will know, has its own feast day, August the 6th. And so this morning we read,

After six days, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them, and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus.

Now, what was the Transfiguration? It is hard to say – in fact, when Jesus and these three disciples returned to the rest of their group, and perhaps Andrew asked his brother Peter where they had been and what had happened, I suspect Peter’s answer, leaving aside Jesus’ “gag order,” would have been something along the lines of, “I don’t know; I really can’t tell you what happened up there.”

It’s hard to say what the Transfiguration was, but we can say something about its character: it was wonderful; it was glorious; it was terrifying. Whatever it was that was going on – Jesus shining like the sun in glistening, blindingly white robes; Jesus having a conversation with long-dead saints – it was so wonderful that Peter at least did not want to leave: Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah. Peter wanted to stay, but we see a prime example of how things can be incredibly wonderful and incredibly terrifying at the same time; Mark (who was Peter’s assistant in Rome, by the way), tells us that Peter did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid.

And whatever it was, it was so wonderful that Peter was still reflecting on it, still thinking about it some thirty later when he wrote the letter we now call Second Peter, a portion of which we have read this morning. Peter himself was crucified upside down in the persecution under Nero in the mid-sixties, and in this letter he says that his death is imminent:
We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the father and the voice was born to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the Holy Mountain.

Peter writes in the midst of dark times; he and his church are suffering; many have, and many more will, suffer to the point of death for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And in the midst of this suffering and persecution, Peter reflects on the Transfiguration, and he is encouraged – so much so that he speaks of the great event and then says, You will do well to pay attention to this, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Peter the pastor speaks to us across the centuries and says, “if you find yourself in a dark place, if times are bad, if suffering is real and death appears imminent, try this: spend some time reflecting on Christ’s Transfiguration; it helps me to do so.”

So what is it about the Transfiguration that is so encouraging? Well, a great deal, apparently, or Peter would not have commended it to our contemplation. There is the significance of Moses and Elijah’s presence. There is the significance of the Father’s words from the heavens, This is my beloved Son, and his command, Listen to him. But perhaps we can begin with the obvious. You may have noticed that our Gospel lesson begins with the words, After six days…. Well, if you did notice that, I hope the first thing that crossed your mind was, “six days after what?” After all, it is clear that Mark is connecting the Transfiguration to an event that preceded it by six days – otherwise he wouldn’t bother with the time reference. So, what happened six days before the Transfiguration? Big doings. Peter, on behalf of the other apostles and for the first time, confesses that Jesus is the Christ: Thou art the Christ. Seems like that ought to have been a happy moment, a moment of triumph, but Jesus kills the mood. As soon as Peter makes the good confession, Jesus, Mark tells us,
Began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed.

And to make matters worse, he says the same will be true of his disciples:
If anyone would come after me, let him take up his cross and follow me. For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.

In coming to grips with the suffering and brutality and death that will accompany Christ’s mission into the world, God vouchsafes to Jesus and these three disciples an experience that will see them through, an experience that will not eliminate the sufferings they are called to, but will place them in a new perspective – a perspective that will transform their experience of suffering. St. Paul gets at much this same idea when he writes to the Romans,
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.(Rom 8.18-23 ESV)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. This fleeting glimpse of the Transfigured Christ was for these disciples a vision of the ultimate victory of Christ, of the glory that is to be revealed, a glimpse that would remain with them as they lived and died in what must have looked to anyone else like abject, utter, humiliating defeat.

I have a friend who loves to read mystery/suspense novels she checks out from the library. But because they are so, you know, suspensful, she cheats a little bit. The tension in the novels makes her so nervous, that she will turn to the end of the book and read the final chapters – and then, once she knows how things will turn out, once she knows that the tension will be resolved and the good guys will win, that there is an answer to the problem, then she can go on read the book straight through.

In the Transfiguration of Christ, God gives to three simple fishermen, and to us, what they and we need to keep living – and when the time comes, dying – straight through. He has shown them just a glimpse, as much as, perhaps a little more than, they could handle. He has let them peak at the last chapters – Christ in glory in the company of the saints. Between now and that glory lies the Cross – our own individual cross for each and every one who would follow Jesus – but on the other side of that cross is the eternal glory of the Father and the Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit. A glory that is shed upon the faithful who have saved their lives by losing them in Christ. A glory that, if we will ponder it like, and with, St. Peter, will transform our experience of this life. A glory that will begin to seep down into this life – even, and especially, in the midst of pain and suffering (cf. 1 Pt 4.14).
Brothers and sisters, You will do well to pay attention to this, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. +++

Lenten Reflections.

Karen Boyle has been doing a wonderful work of prayer in these last couple years of our Anglican difficulties, coordinating the prayers of many and providing meditations, reflections, and other grist for the prayer mill on her blog, Lent & Beyond. This year, she is coordinating and posting daily reflections throughout Lent from a large and (I would like to think!) distinguished group of Anglican priests and writers. Here's Karen's announcement:
We at Lent & Beyond are very excited to announce that throughout Lent 2006 we will be posting daily Lenten devotionals from Anglican bloggers (and a few non-Anglican friends) from all over North America, and even a few from overseas.

We have about 20 contributors who have signed on to this project (not counting the four Lent & Beyond bloggers: Karen B., Jill Woodliff, Tim Fountain & Torre Bissell). A list of some of the blogs/bloggers who will be contributing Lenten devotionals

All Too CommonFr. Binky (CaNN empire founder & ruler)
Brad Drell (Drell’s Descants)
Pat Dague (Transfigurations)
Fr. Richard Kew (The Kew Continuum)
Jeffrey Steel (Meam Commemorationem)
Fr. Patrick Allen (Mine Iron Heart)
Rick Harris (Stand Firm Alabama)
Fr. Rob Eaton (St. John’s Tulare, CA)
Townsend Waddill (Romans 12:2)
Fr. WB (Anglican Catholic Blog – a/k/a Whitehall)
And there are MORE! The above list represents those for whom I have specific posting dates nailed down. I’ll add additional names as their posting dates are confirmed. You’ll be able to find each day’s entry, along with other Lenten prayers and resources by clicking on the Lent 2006 category
If others are interested in participating or have suggestions for Lenten resources and prayers to post, feel free to contact us.

25 February 2006

Supper chez Hata

Susan's smooth & creamy cheesecake.

24 February 2006

Growing Opposition to the RCRC.

From the Living Church:
Growing Opposition to Affiliation with Abortion Rights Group 2/24/2006
The 75th General Convention will be asked for an up-or-down vote on the recent
decision by the Executive Council to approve membership for the Episcopal Church in an abortion rights organization. On Feb. 11, clergy and lay delegates to convention in the Diocese of San Diego asked General Convention, which meets June 13-21 in Columbus, Ohio, “to confirm or deny” the Executive Council decision to join the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) on behalf of the Episcopal Church. That decision was made during a regularly scheduled Jan. 9-12 meeting in Des Moines, Iowa. Although the resolution approved by delegates in San Diego took no position on abortion itself, debate on whether to disassociate from the Executive Council decision is under consideration in at least two other dioceses.
The Rev. Patrick Allen, rector of St. Joseph’s, Hendersonville, Tenn., told the annual convention in the Diocese of Tennessee that he was “profoundly troubled” to learn he was supporting an organization “which promotes an act we believe to be gravely contrary to Christian morality.” Speaking on a point of personal privilege, Fr. Allen said the Executive Council decision to join on behalf of the Episcopal Church served to “preempt dialogue, further dividing an already polarized Church by taking away one more plot of middle ground upon which we could meet and seek in charity to persuade one another.” With the deadline for filing diocesan convention resolutions already expired by the time he addressed council, Fr. Allen asked the standing committee and the bishop and council of the diocese to “give prayerful consideration to disassociating the Diocese of Tennessee from this unwise and unwarranted action.”
Disassociation from membership in the RCRC has already occurred in the Diocese of Springfield. On Feb. 11, the diocesan council approved a resolution “on its own behalf and on behalf of the Diocese of Springfield” to disassociate from membership in the RCRC. Under the canons of the Diocese of Springfield, the council is authorized to act on behalf of the diocese when the diocesan synod is not in session. The Diocese of Springfield held its annual synod Oct. 28-29.
(My full convention statement is here. - PSA+)

Network News.

From the Anglican Communion Network:
"One of the hopes we have is that eventually every Network parish will have an ongoing affiliation with a diocese or missionary effort worldwide,” said Bishop Robert Duncan. “This partnership with the Diocese of Singapore reminds us that we have Christian brothers and sisters everywhere. We are not an American denomination. We are part of the church worldwide." Here's the whole thing.

23 February 2006

The Seed of the Church

Today is the feast of St. Polycarp, disciple of St. John and Bishop of Smyrna. 1,851 years ago today, he was burned at the stake for refusing to deny the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He was 86 years old. Here is what he prayed that day:
"O Lord God Almighty, Father of thy beloved and blessed Child, Jesus Christ, through Whom we have received full knowledge of thee, the God of Angels and powers, and of all creation, and of the whole family of the righteous, who live before thee! I bless thee, that Thou hast granted me this day and hour, that I may share, among the number of the martyrs, in the cup of thy Christ, for the Resurrection to everlasting life, both of soul and body in the immortality of the Holy Spirit. And may I, to-day, be received among them before Thee, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as Thou, the God who lies not and is truth, hast prepared beforehand, and shown forth, and fulfilled. For this reason I also praise Thee for all things, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee through the everlasting and heavenly high Priest, Jesus Christ, thy beloved Child, through whom be glory to Thee with him and the Holy Spirit, both now and for the ages that are to come, Amen."
This past week, as noted below, the enemies of Christ broke into the home of Benjamen Kwashi, Bishop of Jos in Nigeria, hoping to murder him. Not finding him at home, they brutally assaulted his wife, Gloria, and other members of his household. Here is a paragraph from Bp. Kwashi's
letter written in the immediate aftermath of the event:
"The prayer of the Church is the biggest asset and heritage of the saints. We register gratitude to God for your lives and the sacrifice you make in prayer in our behalf. We are praying for you that our sufferings and specifically the humiliation, blood, tears and pains of Gloria may result in a great revival that will bring tremendous glory to God and to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ."
Praise God, "we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses," who are not only the saints in light - like Polycarp, but also those whom God is still raising up among us today - like Bp. Kwashi and Gloria.

And Now for Something Completely Different.

PBS is running a 6 episode series, "Monty Python's Personal Best." Not to be missed. Listings are here.
"Mr Mousebender: And I thought to myself, "A little fermented curd will do the trick," so, I curtailed my Walpoling activities, sallied forth, and infiltrated your place of purveyance to negotiate the vending of some cheesy comestibles.
Henry Wenslydale: Come again?
Mr Mousebender: I want to buy some cheese.
Henry Wenslydale: Oh, I thought you were complaining about the bouzouki player.
Mr Mousebender: Certainly not. I am one who delights in all manifestations of the Terpsichorean muse.
Henry Wenslydale: Sorry?
Mr Mousebender: [in a silly Northern accent] Ooh, I like a nice dance - you're forced to."
Also, I don't like spam. Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

22 February 2006

Attack of the Crunchy Cons

Look - there's a "Crunchy Con" blog (shocker).

More re ECUSA & the RCRC

06-06: Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC)
Passed without change.
“Resolved: The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego requests that the 75th General Convention(2006) vote to confirm or deny the action of Executive Council approving the Episcopal Church’s membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.”


More from Fr. Neuhaus re Gene Robinson

Bombarded by the irony-impaired, Fr. Neuhaus feels the need to offer some clarification (scroll to second item) on the item I mentioned below. He also places another irony in the fire.

21 February 2006

Crunchy Conservatives

I might be a crunchy conservative. Can I still eat meat? (Not on Fridays, of course.)

"Rod Dreher, a columnist and editor at the Dallas Morning News, is a self-confessed member of the vast right-wing conspiracy. As a lapsed Protestant who converted to Roman Catholicism several years ago, he is an unabashed religious and social conservative. He has little use for the morally relativist and libertine tendencies of modern liberalism. Too often, he says, "the Democrats act like the Party of Lust."

But Mr. Dreher is also a passionate environmentalist, a devotee of organic farming and a proponent of the New Urbanism, an anti-sprawl movement aimed at making residential neighborhoods more like pre-suburban small towns. He dislikes industrial agriculture, shopping malls, television, McMansions and mass consumerism. Efficiency--the guiding principle of free markets--is an "idol," he says, that must be "smashed." Too often, he claims, Republicans act like "the Party of Greed."

Four years ago, Mr. Dreher coined the term "crunchy conservatism" (as in crunchy granola) to describe hybrids like himself: political right-wingers with countercultural sensibilities. Now, in a book based largely on interviews and his own experience, he explores the type in depth. But "Crunchy Cons" is not a pallid work of sociology. It is a rousing altar call to spiritual secession from an America that Mr. Dreher sees as awash in materialism, consumerism and "lifestyle-libertarian" thinking."

Here's the whole thing, from WSJ's Opinion Journal.

News from Bp. Kwashi

Here is a letter from this godly bishop. For background, see below. And keep praying.

20 February 2006

Dust Thou Art...

Psalm 90 is traditionally ascribed to Moses, and there is no good reason to doubt that is actually the case. So wise and humble Moses and the faithful through the generations have sung,
Teach us to number our days,
That we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

“Begin with the end in mind” is one of the principles shaping Stephen Covey’s best-selling self-help book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and that is good advice whether one is starting a business, a round of golf, or a war. But it is just a variation on the ancient wisdom of the Church entrusted with the revelation of God. This “teach us to number our days” business is Moses’ poetic way of saying that we will all die, and he sees that the height – or depth – of foolishness comes in living as if that were not so, as if we would live forever. The way of wisdom is to begin and live with the end in mind.

Problem is, we live in a passionately death-denying culture. (Paradoxically, but predictably, it has also become, in John Paul II’s phrase, a “culture of death” – but that must wait for another Grail or sermon.) And before we can assess our days and prioritize our commitments with the end in mind, we need first of all to be reminded, to have it driven into our heads, that there will, in fact, be an end. And so, with Moses, we need to pray that the Lord would “teach us to number our days.”

The Lord does teach us, and he does so in and through our participation in the life of Christ’s Body, the Church. And in the yearly cycle of that life, we come, this year on the first day of March, to the Church’s annual memento mori: Ash Wednesday, when ashes are imposed on foreheads, and we each receive Moses’ wisdom, but in starker terms:
Remember, O man, that dust thou art,
And unto dust shalt thou return.

This is no exercise in guilt-inducing morbid introspection. It is a coming to grips with reality, with the intention that we will then better order our lives in accord with reality – which is to say, that we may live wisely.

In February, our parish buried the dear lady who had been our oldest member, Mary Hudgins, a woman who had her whole long life applied her heart to wisdom. When Mary was growing up, her father led the family every night in evening devotions from the Book of Common Prayer. Included in those devotions was this prayer, which well sums up the lessons of Ash Wednesday:
Make us ever mindful of the time when we shall lie down in the dust; and grant us grace always to live in such a state, that we may never be afraid to die; so that, living and dying, we may be thine, through the merits and satisfaction of thy Son Jesus Christ, in whose Name we offer up these our imperfect prayers.

May that become our prayer as well. I look forward to seeing you on Ash Wednesday as we together learn to number our days and apply our hearts to wisdom.

(The above is an article for the March issue of The Grail, our parish newsletter.)

And Away We Go!

One of the few highpoints of the recent Diocese of Tennessee Annual Convention was it's overwhelming re-affirmation of its "acceptance of and submission to" the Windsor Report. How do you think the Diocese of California feels about Windsor and the Anglican Communion?
Update: TitusOneNine has posted a statement from Susan Russell, president of Integrity, on the nominations; be sure to scroll all the way down to Canon Harmon's comments and the apt quotes he provides from Rowan Williams.

18 February 2006

Please Pray.

Bishop Kwashi's family (Jos, Nigeria) was brutally attacked last night. Canon Harmon has the report.

The Sally Fowler Rat Pack Lives!

Metropolitan, one of my all-time favorite films (a.k.a. "movies") is finally, at long last, after much waiting, out this week on DVD from the Criterion Collection. We just got it from NetFlix, and it is certainly on the list of to-be-purchased stuff. When can we look for another film from Whit Stillman? Who knows? - but here's a recent interview that at least indicates he is working on some scripts.
The movie is all talk; nothing blows up but one young man's Faurier-ist illusions!
Stillman's other two films (which form a trilogy with Metropolitan) are Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco.

17 February 2006

Addiction & Gene Robinson

Gene Robinson, the putative bishop of New Hampshire and personally at the center of our Anglican difficulties, is at present in a residential treatment center to deal with his alcoholism. Good for him, and I hope and pray he is successful in recovery. However, his letter announcing his personal state of affairs raises questions on the relationships between addiction, disease, and the will - and, yes, the relationships between addiction, disease, the will, and homosexuality. Reaction has been gracious and prayerful from all sides within the Episcopal Church, and no one wants to take his tragedy as opportunity to make ecclesiatical hay. Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, however, is a Roman Catholic and has sufficient distance to raise openly the questions noted above. Take a look:

"Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion, has been in alcohol rehab since February 1. There is this in his letter to his diocese:

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I am writing to you from an alcohol treatment center where on February 1, with the encouragement and support of my partner, daughters and colleagues, I checked myself in to deal with my increasing dependence on alcohol. Over the 28 days I will be here, I will be dealing with the disease of alcoholism–which, for years, I have thought of as a failure of will or discipline on my part, rather than a disease over which my particular body simply has no control, except to stop drinking altogether.

One has the greatest empathy for people afflicted with alcoholism, but the logic is intriguing. It is not a matter of will or discipline but a disease of his particular body over which he has no control. One might imagine a person severely afflicted with same-sex desires writing something like this: “I thought of it as a failure of will or discipline on my part, rather than a disease over which my particular body simply has no control, except to stop having sex altogether and live a chast life.” The self-exculpating dismissal of will and discipline as irrelevant to disordered desires is always a morally dubious step. Bishop Robinson will now be a recovering alcoholic. Good. If only he were also a recovering gay."


More Rosen

Christine Rosen (see next item down) has a reflection in today's WSJ OpinionJournal on the writing of spirtual memoirs. Here's a snatch:

"For whatever reason, many writers of spiritual memoir find themselves unable to move beyond anger or an eagerness to use their work as a springboard for a broader condemnation of people of faith. Writers of memoir generally must be true to their experience, of course, but spiritual memoirists face an especially daunting task. The faith they describe is not theirs alone--it is shared by many. That makes writing in good faith all the more challenging."


14 February 2006

50 to 1

I always look forward to an enlightening new essay from Christine Rosen, like this one from The New Atlantis. And now she has a book - a memoir of her growing-up days at a fundamentalist school in central Florida. I'm sure it's fascinating, and I intend to read the book. But the important thing to note here is that when I was in the eighth grade (Rosen was a mere third grader at the time), her fundamentalist middle school basketball team beat my fundamentalist middle school basketball team 50-1. I kid you not. Maybe it was all that clean, Keswick-movement living. Our fundies were great backsliders/repenters, and probably that hurt us. Anyway, it was one of the worst, most embarrassing days of my life. Late in the game, one of our players shot a free throw that sailed clear over the backboard and somehow managed to pass between two support beams which were, at most, a quater inch wider than the ball - a feat we attempted to replicate at every middle school, J.V., and Varsity practice through my senior year, without success.
Anyway, here's an exerpt from the book:

"The minister faces my mother while he speaks, his right arm occasionally waving the air above her head as if clearing away some lingering spiritual miasma. The assistant minister stands just behind her, murmuring and nodding, his hands clasped in front of him. "I command you, Satan, come out of this woman! Lord Jesus, I beseech you! By the mercy of God, heal her today!" She falls backwards, shuddering — her arms crooked at the elbow as if she is pushing a heavy object off her chest — into the waiting arms of the assistant minister, whose own arms had suddenly formed a perfect cradle to receive her. She twitches several times as she goes down, until she is, finally, prone on the stage, her arms now resting by her sides and her face a rictus of surrender. She is, in that split second, the object of the entire congregation's focused attention. She has been slain by the Holy Spirit. It all takes less than three minutes.

Eventually she makes her way off the platform and back to her seat. We hear a sermon, sing a few more songs, and pray, my mother giving her thanks to God for healing her — "Thank you for this miracle, Lord Jesus" — and then the service is over. As we file out of the church and into the hot afternoon sun, she announces "I won't need these again!" and ostentatiously tosses her prescription glasses into the trash can. I've never seen her so full, almost beaming, with certainty and happiness.

Later that day, as she drove Cathy and me back home to our Dad, I stare out the window, in a state of mild terror, as we hurtle along, the image of her lying on that church platform, utterly still, in my mind. My mother did not notice my fear. Instead, she replays over and over again the drama of how God had healed her. "Can you believe it girls? I used to have to wear glasses all the time, but now God has healed me! It's a miracle! Praise Jesus! Come on girls, say it with me—Praise Jesus!" We answer politely, all the while noticing that the car is weaving dangerously into oncoming lanes of traffic, glancing off curbs, and occasionally thwack-thwack thwacking the emergency lane ridges on the shoulder of the road. She can't see, I thought. But she believed she could."


New Web Reading

The latest Crisis is up, including, inter alia,

13 February 2006

Look - It's The Real Book!

05 February 2006

On Vacation


03 February 2006

2 Kings 2.24

Did you see "Grizzly Man?" Fascinating. But here's the Discovery Channel's summary:
Get an inside look at the life of Timothy Treadwell, as documented by filmmaker, Werner Herzog. Treadwell spent 13 summers in Alaska living with grizzly bears. He spoke their language, knew their moods, and survived unarmed among them.
Right - he survivied right up until the bears ate him and his girlfriend.

02 February 2006

Hey, Boo.

Wilfred McClay on Harper Lee, via the First Things site. Here's the whole thing.

"...Leaving aside its literary merits, which are not inconsiderable, it is a book that has made an incalculable difference in American attitudes on the subject of race. It was, and remains, a historical force. I think one could argue that To Kill a Mockingbird did for twentieth-century race relations, or at any rate for white attitudes toward blacks, what Uncle Tom’s Cabin did for white attitudes about slavery in the antebellum nineteenth century. And yet it is rarely examined as a work of serious literature, not to mention one whose convicting force changed the moral life of the nation."

Nice Gig.

Doesn't Hendersonville suffer for want of chicken wings? I'm willing to do my part.

The new Hooters restaurant may have gotten an unwelcome reception from some of the community's religious leaders, but tonight it will get a little help from above.

As part of a private opening party, Monsignor Isidore Rozycki, the head Catholic priest for the Greater Waco area, plans to bless the chain's newest location at New Road and Interstate 35. The public won't be able to attend the event. But they can bask in the divine dedication starting Tuesday morning, when the restaurant officially opens. (Here's the whole thing.) (Also, there was an hysterical bit about this last night on Letterman [source of most of my info about important world events]; unfortunately it didn't make the web highlights.)


01 February 2006

Dogma: the Hermeneutical Solvent

From R.R. Reno's provocative Preface to a new series of commentaries from Brazos, entitled (aptly enough), The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible:

"Is doctrine, then, not a moldering scrim of antique prejudice obscuring the Bible, but instead a clarifying agent, an enduring tradition of theological judgments that amplifies the living voice of Scripture? And what of the
scholarly dispassion advocated by Jowett? Is a noncommitted reading, an interpretation unprejudiced, the way toward objectivity, or does it simply invite the languid intellectual apathy that stands aside to make room for the
false truism and easy answers of the age?

This series of biblical commentaries was born out of the conviction that dogma clarifies rather than obscures..."


Network News

The Anglican Relief & Development Fund (ARDF), the outreach arm of the Anglican Communion Network, has disbursed over $1.5 million in grants in its first year of operation for aid projects for Anglican brothers and sisters in many countries of the Global South.

ARDF provides effective and efficient relief and development assistance for high-impact projects with measurable results. ARDF exists to change lives in some of the most challenging parts of the world in partnership with the spiritually-vibrant, but resource-poor Anglican churches in the Global South. ARDF-funded projects in
2004-05 have resulted in:

•34,500 people receiving medical care
•13,000 people receiving clean water and sanitation improvements
•39,400 people counseled concerning disaster trauma
•13,000 people educated on improved sustainable farming techniques
•32,600 people hearing the Gospel
•8,500 people tested for HIV/AIDS and counseled

Much more on the ACN Website.


Sleep Therapy

From the first in a new series from Books & Culture entitled "Christianity: a Counter-Culture for the Common Good."
Sleep more: this may seem a curious answer to the question of what Christians can do for the common good. Surely one could come up with something more other-directed, more sacrificial, less self-serving. Or more overtly political—refusing to serve in the current wr. Or more communitarian, making a commitment to street and neighborhood that overrides new job offers.

And let's be honest. Had I instead written a rousing essay calling all Christians to hold vigils against the death penalty next week, the very improbability that anyone would heed my call would let us all off the hook. One of the reasons you may be wishing I hadn't suggested we Christians sleep more is that sleeping more is something you can choose to do, or not do, this very night. The whole thing.