Tuesday, December 30, 2008
That is, I admit, the nice thing about not being in school. Nobody cares. No one notices that reading the Torah puts me immediately to sleep - I don't much care what the proper treatment of skin sores with discharge is - nor what the appropriate sacrifice should be; or that I think Aquinas to be frightfully boring. As long as I am in confession mode, I don't really care what the original Greek manuscript of First Corinthians actually said. Actually those poor souls charged with teaching my Bible courses probably suspect that last point and for their pain I am truly sorry.
I don't mind imperfect liturgies, nor bad homilies, nor talkative teenagers, and I am happy not to hear the phrase: "It's a matter of proper catechesis" - translated: if only the people knew better like we do... Try living life once more as the dumb oxen in the pews, it makes liturgy far more enjoyable. All this is not to say I won't be glad to immerse myself in the artificial womb of academia, where I can once more dream up far fetched ways to save humanity from itself. Let's face it, it's fun!
You see, its a matter, not so much of proper catechesis, as much as it is a matter of properly humble expectations. If you go into Christmas expecting a diamond ring, the lump of coal you actually recieve is a bit disappointing. If you go in expecting a boot to the head, the lump of coal seems a nice respite. If my professors start the semester expecting a hard working, and well-spoken scholar - they are in for some small disappointment. It's all a matter of perspective you see!
That is all for now, for now I am sleepy. I must go read me some Bible, and take me some rest. There is so many more goals to fail to reach tomorrow. It makes me tired just thinking about it.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
1. Put your iTunes on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. You must write that song name down no matter how outrageous it sounds.
IF SOMEONE SAYS "IS THIS OKAY" YOU SAY?
WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
Every Rose Has its Thorn
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE?
This Jesus Must Die
WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
867-5309 - Jenny
WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT OFTEN?
Mor a cheannaich
WHAT IS 2+2?
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Mo Ghile Mear
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
Fair and Tender Ladies
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
There Are Much Worse Things To Believe In
WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
You and Me
WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
King Without a Crown
WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Go to Sleep Little Baby
WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
Zydeco Gris Gris Rap
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
Do You Hear What I Hear
WHAT'S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
Turn, Turn, Turn
HOW WILL YOU DIE?
Oh Holy Night
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
Suzie Wants Her All Day What?
WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
Make Believe Town
WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
The Highlander's Farewell
WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED?
The West's Asleep
WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU?
The Little Drummer Boy
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
Henry MacDermott Roe
WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
You Took the Words out of my Mouth
Monday, November 10, 2008
That is a question often asked at times such as this. Convinced as we are that this act of replication was an ill-considered idea, we seek cosmic affirmation that breeding is a bad idea. In truth, these small children are to be raised in part by my brother, the same person who thought that peanut butter, tabasco sauce, and minced onion was a good lunch time decision.... But surely their mother will protect them!
Whatever awaits these two, whether prosperity or adversity - or more likely both in their times - I wish them and their parents the best of luck. I fear for their nutrition, knowing what my brother tends to regard as food, but I do not doubt that they are already greatly loved. I give them my thoughts, best wishes, and sincere prayers, and look very much forward to seeing who they will become. Godspeed tiny nephews!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I always wondered what it would be like to live in a place and in a way that one felt completely at home. Perhaps it is not possible. I grew up in Hawaii, as the child of wandering New Yorkers. Even moving back to the homeland, the feeling of being terminally out of place stayed. Then I take up theology and find that there, the place I felt most at home, most at peace, I was out of place. Even nowadays, theology is a male subject.
There is perhaps a positive side to my constant lack of belonging. It is an odd sort of freedom, an absence of loyalties to protect. I know that most of my thoughts and beliefs are my own, not passed down from times long past. Tradition is a less meaningful category for those of us who did not experience very many traditions in our childhoods. In Hawaii our family was almost completely cut off from the larger family. I did not know them. I knew nothing about the family outside of the immediate family. Perhaps this is why I never felt rooted in any particular place or situation. It certainly has colored my interpretation of theology - for good or evil and right now I am not certain which it is.
Yet assent to the existence of a personal God would, I think, suggest an intentionality to our own existence. Thus there is a vitally important reason I grew up isolated in Hawaii - a racial minority even! And then lived on the east coast as a cultural minority. How many of us really believe in that though? Can we say to the abused or abandoned children of the world that there was a reason they grew up in that hell? That God wanted them to experience that? Perhaps we have taken the analogy too far, and God permits far more randomness than our theory would suggest, and that God's call would be conditional on your not getting too screwed up by your own life circumstances.
Perhaps this too is vanity and chasing after wind.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Take it a step further. What is the priesthood? It seems to me we are missing something very important here in this definition. It is a total consecration of a person to God and to the Church. But you can be consecrated without ordination certainly. Certainly there is nothing essential about the priesthood in salvation. All that requires is the movement of God and the assent of a person. Possibly you can say that priests bring about the possibility of meeting between humanity and God. And possibly you would be right? So the priest is a teacher and nothing more? That does not seem adequate either though.
On the topic of teachers though, there is an analogy there I think. The materials the priest is given to bring Christ forth in the world is the Eucharist. They have bread and wine. The teacher is given flesh and blood. God calls us to ourselves, our true selves. It is a kind of transubstantiation that occurs, making Christ present in the lives of their students. Who am I to say that one is more real or more worthy than the other.
This is part of the answer as it stands now. This is my own way to live the priesthood in a Church that denies its possibility. Under the superficialities of materials and costume, can anyone tell me where the difference is between the minister priest and the rest of us? Not only teachers, though that is close to my heart at the moment, but also any Christian life faithfully lived out, will perform this cultic duty of creating space for God and humanity to meet, of embodying Christ.
In conclusion, I pray to the Father, "Lord, conform me to the heart of Christ, and then conform my companions to me."
Friday, August 22, 2008
I have a horrified respect for the school which is kind of cult-like - especially in the wide crazy eyed passion of some of the faculty. You WILL be assimilated! And freshman academy is a large portion of that assimilation. The kids are drilled in the one way to dress, the one way to take notes, and the one way to be a good little student. I can't help wondering how long I would have lasted before my rear was shown the door. I was a quiet student in high school, but not a good one. I was, I now know thanks to the freshman teacher academy, being quietly non-compliant.
Still I worry. Are charter schools a good idea? The question of urban public education, I confess, had not, until now, intruded itself into my thought processes. And I would be the first to admit that the school is effective, but it is also very small with a very large waiting list. Thus I have that one burning question of conscience, a grand philosophical quandary. Is it better to do greatest good for a few, or to do lesser good for the many? Are the money and resources being poured into this project worth it in the end? Is it in fact vital in the end? It brings to mind a quote from Augustine which a friend of mine uses as an email tag: "Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by accidents of time, or place, or circumstance, are brought into closer connection with you."
That being said, I have already been indoctrinated enough to know that I will make sure that "my" kids do well, even if nothing else happens! I have fallen in love with a number of the Freshmen, even if they do still intimidate me. In two weeks the rest of the school returns. Only I still don't know all the Freshman class' names. For those who enjoy a good comedy of errors, stay tuned! Updates will follow which should be interesting reading. Especially when I am forced to actually start teaching something!
Friday, August 8, 2008
I wrote this and sent it to my local diocesan newspaper which had an inexcusably weak argument against women's ordination. This is my attempt at a response. What do you think?
I write this without the expectation that it will ever see the light of day, but if I could help, even in this small way, to raise the caliber of the discussion, then I have done some good today. I am writing in response to an editorial piece on the group Womenpriests in the August 8 issue. To start my argument with all my cards on the table, I must confess I am sympathetic to these women who have gotten themselves ordained although I could wish they worked less on rebellion and more on actual change. Nevertheless, I do not fault a diocesan newspaper for taking the side of official Church teaching. What I do object to is your employing of such poor arguments to do so.
Your arguments, as presented in the editorial and as I understand it, are as follows. First that for ordination women are not valid “matter”, that Jesus did not ordain women at the Last Supper, and finally that ordination was “more than just a game of holy tag”. I will overlook the oblique quip equating those who question the Church’s teaching with Lucifer, since I believe I have sufficient material without such pettiness. Were I to be so petty I would feel called to chastise your use of quotation marks around “bishop” when referring to the Anglican Communion’s recent assent to female bishops. Agree with them or not, Anglican bishops are Anglican bishops, validly ordained according to the teachings and discernment of the Anglican Communion.
My main concern is with your major argument regarding proper “matter” for sacraments. This, if I may, is not the strongest presentation you could make. It borders dangerously on magical thinking. It is not a matter, so to speak, of gathering the proper ingredients and reciting the proper incantation. This sounds more like magic than sacramental theology. Rather I would argue these women are not truly ordained for a far simpler though less glamorous reason. In order for a sacrament to be valid the minister must intend what the Church intends. This is the same reason, of course, that a validly ordained priest can’t go into a bakery full of fresh baked valid matter and consecrate the store. The priest does not intend what the Church intends.
As for your second argument that Jesus did not ordain women, this argument frankly has always mystified me despite my efforts to understand (faith seeking understanding!). It does not seem to me that Jesus ordained anyone, especially in the modern sense. The twelve apostles were not the only ministers instituted by Jesus. I would bring to your remembrance the seventy sent out on missions. There is no indication that Jesus had the ministerial priesthood in mind at the Last Supper. The priesthood and all the structures of the Church are a product of the Spirit’s movements in and through history. There is a seamless evolution from the actions of Jesus and the movements of the early Church. We need not trace the priesthood to Jesus’ overt intentions. History and Tradition are important.
However, history gets tricky, which is perhaps why current arguments steer clear of it. You mention that male domination has nothing to do with Holy Orders, and in God’s economy it has nothing to do with it. Unfortunately the human history of this very issue is dangerous ground indeed. Historically male domination was not only part of the issue; it was the whole of it! The thinking then was that women were not valid “matter” because of their deficient natures. I need only reference Thomas Aquinas’ argument about this very issue – so much for it being a novel issue!
As a parting blow, and this is I admit my weakest point since this traverses the area of mystery, I question your assertion that historical circumstance would have no bearing on Jesus. If we take the humanity of Jesus seriously, than such things must have had an effect on him. Jesus was not God wearing a human suit. This is the wonder and marvel of the incarnation – that the second person of the Trinity truly entered into our humanity. He became truly man even as he was truly God. How this works is a mystery, and I would not presume to know exactly how and what Jesus thought, but to say with the certainty you employ in your article that Jesus would remain unmoved by his historical time does seem to me to deny the fullness of his incarnation.
In conclusion, the only argument needed, and really the only argument I consider valid, is one of obedience. In obedience to the light given to it, the Church at this moment does not allow this. Therefore to act contrary to this is not to be doing what the Church intends. It is not magic. God does not obey the commands of humanity because we have gathered the correct “stuff” but acts in loving communion with the Body of Christ, and the Church which was the natural historical expression of this heavenly reality.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Me and my cabin mates, which include the aforementioned three year old, decided it would be great fun to canoe on the nearby lake. I, for the record, wanted to take the row boat instead. It was a nice day, and the troops were happy as we set sail (set paddle?). Various groupings of people went out, usually with all the kids in the canoe. In hindsight, that may have been a mistake. As a final trip, I took the front, with the three year old at my feet, and two kids in the back of me, in front of the helmsman.
Our trip was going well, as we paddled by the swamps, and headed back to enjoy a day of possibly swimming. Along the way some friendly insect life came on board. Of course the rear child gleefully reported to her mate in front which of the friendly insects were on her back. Convincing the bug victim to stop wriggling took some time, and the canoe began to take on water. At that point the three year old demanded I give him the paddle. The helmsman decided to shift positions slightly, and even more water began to splash over the side.
At a certain point one realizes that one is doomed. That no amount of skill and hard work will do a bit of good. The time is usually when one wonders what one has in her pocket (it's amazing what goes through one's mind when one is under stress - one is afraid this proves that one is very shallow and petty). So there I was, in the middle of a Vermont lake with one child clutching my back while I clutch the small one, hoping their mother isn't gonna kill me, should we all survive... And my copilot rips off his life jacket and announces he is gonna tow us all to the shore. The bug informer appears for all the world to be enjoying herself!
It is a good thing all in all that this lake is not an isolated one, though I do wonder if my copilot would have made it. But our rescue came in the form of some nice locals with a power boat. We uploaded the children, including the unrepentant bug informer, and tied the canoe to the line, leaving us poor adults to hoof (fin?) it on our own (though a passing kayak gave me a pull for a time). It was quite the rescue operation!
Now was death a real possibility? Maybe, but I suspect not. Still it was funny floating there, almost completely helpless. What is worse, is to be obliged to be the help and support of the children, when all you can do is hang onto them, and make them think you are in complete control and not helpless in the middle of the lake. It is our inherent belief that everything will be all right. But that is not true. Things may go very horribly wrong. Sometimes all you can hope for is that you will not be abandoned in the middle of the lake, and that someone who appears to know what they are doing is holding you up. But for now, I must deliver our muffins to the crew of the powerboat.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Patience, Jen, we must have patience. Patience is a virtue after all.... We will sit quietly here and listen to the voice of God, and.... Ah heck it. Who am I kidding? I wouldn't know the voice of God at this point if God knocked me off a horse and shouted at me. Don't worry, I am well enough trained in theology to know whose fault that is. That's right it is my parents' fault (or at the very least the government's!).
Luckily though I have been thus far protected from dealing seriously with a religious vocation by a school loan debt approximately the size of the annual gross domestic product of a small nation. Therefore my current crisis of faith is merely an inconveniently uncomfortable bit of trivia. No doubt the good Lord put irresponsible loan officers in my naive path so that I would be saved from doing anything too rash. (Exactly what sort of income was she thinking an art major was going to pull in right out of college? It seemed so much easier back then. Just one of my stupider moves!) Obviously I was not a business major. However, I am certain that with an MDiv, the money will soon start rolling in.
Right now I am feeling rather like the field of weeds from two Sundays ago. The seed was planted, and grew up, and was choked by the cares and circumstances of actual day to day living and breathing. Eventually you must leave your mountain top and find some loaves and fishes to eat, and at least so far, Jesus has not been by to bring me my dinner. The thing is, weediness is a feature of everyone's field. How is it that the seed manages to grow in some of these weedy fields?
"It's not a cry you can hear at night, it's not somebody who's seen the light, it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah."
Its a strange and wondrous thing, is it not? This beautiful vision before us, more real and more beautiful to us than even our own selves. This other, this Lover, the Hound of Heaven. And yet the moment I reach out to touch this person, this very real person, suddenly there is nothing! God will not be mastered, and will never be possessed - certainly not by the likes of us. But sometimes I need to hold something of the mystery, even as this mystery holds us.
Ah well, must go and do something useful now.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Isaiah in today's reading promised that the way of the just was smooth, and judging by the glass like water my boat is sitting in, I can't really disagree. I need the good Lord to stir up the waters a bit, make my way a little less smooth, I am sick of this placid calm. (all the while I am aware of the maxim be careful what you wish for....)
Tonight's psalm comes to us from the prophet Clash: Should I stay or should I go? If you say that you are mine, I'll be here until the end of time. But you got to let me know. Should I stay or should I go?
All those listening and inclined to do so, should pray for this poor stranded mariner. Until then I await further instruction....
Sunday, July 13, 2008
And a bit envious. There really needs to be summer camp for "grown-ups"! Summer camp is wasted on the young. We need an opportunity to be ordered about by benevolent overlords who press us into service producing vaguely animal shaped beaded key chains. Or those God's eye things (never understood why those were God's eye - but they are fun to make). Or archery - there just isn't enough excuse these days for most self-respecting adults to shoot arrows at things!
Or how about the mess hall experience. Sitting in forced groups of not-your-friends peer groups as our benevolent overlords command us to sing for our supper. Suddenly a rumor breaks out that dessert is ice cream! The milk and the oranges are frozen, but the ice cream, when you finally get it is melted. Ah - those were the days!
And of course the evening prayer service would feature graham crackers and grape juice (hey, I grew up in the 70's and 80's - in some ways it was as bad as THEY say...).
So who's in?
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Now I have recognized the irony of my particular position. I am preparing for a life of ministry, a career where, one might think, a difficulty in communicating might be seen as a detriment. I had one prof. last semester comment that he thought that I was "on the shyer side of things" a comment made funny by its understatement-ness. (one of the side effects of the study of theology is the awful habit of making up words without regard for tradition or grammar). That same prof. said he thought I was a little less incomprehensible than when he first met me, so perhaps there is hope for the vocationally minded wall flowers.
I've complained before about not knowing what is meant by "God's call" - this objection made worse by the painful fact that when looking at the ideal candidate for a career in ministry I am perhaps the perfect photo negative! Now I have told God that this was the case, that God had the wrong number, and that I was going home - and then I would have one of those moments that made me a hopeless devotee of this arcane theological enterprise. So despite the probable harm I shall inflict one day upon the helpless faithful, here I still am. May God have mercy on me!
No important point being made here, just my way of relieving my own angst. Though it would be interesting to know if there are out there other shy ministers - or are they all extroverts out there?
Sunday, July 6, 2008
As you see, I am not a trusting soul. This makes some aspects of my education incredibly difficult. It is one of my fantasies, to be able to know what varied professors and fellow students really thought about me (not only is this silly, it is incredibly self centered!). Oh what a tangled weave we web! Not to mention the problem that graduate school in general, and ministry in particular slips into the grand art of naval contemplation so easily. We spend so much time trying to hear God's "still small voice" within us, we miss all the screaming outside our walls.
It does seem at times that the most Christian thing to do would be to stop all this education, and go and "do good" in the world. This is despite the profound effect in my own life people who have dedicated their lives to theological study have had. In a strange sort of way it isn't as glamorous as the grunt work. The results of your work, good or bad, are hidden from you, there is no immediate gratification!
Or perhaps this is just my way of justifying a basically cowardly spirit and an unwillingness to engage in actual ministry.....
It's time to get dressed for church now.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Does God react to her own handiwork in the same manner us poor copyists do? You see, at a certain point, the artist is no longer in control. The art takes on its own character. It makes its own demands. It may not have power over the artist, but it within its own context, it has its own kind of power. The artist has a vision of the final piece, but this is reached through a conversation of sorts.
Is this the nature of free will? Not so much that free will is a gift from God as much as an acknowledgment by God that the art will have its say? The greater the art of course, the greater the risk of failure, but never will art simply be a translation of the will of the artist. Materials and circumstances, the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to, will have a vote. This is the world as God has set it up, this his masterpiece! Could God have set up reality so that this was not so? I don't think so. Material is material (and in a certain way, spirit is material also...). As soon as pure will is projected into a real situation, reality will begin to shape that will. It is always a conversation.
Of course this is how love also works, in conversation. In a certain way the artist loves the art, in a more perfect way God loves her creation. But this love, this presence, is not a certain particularity. As much as some of us would prefer less an art as some demonstration of physics, with hard and certain rules. The problem I think is that God is a person, and made little persons like himself. A communion of persons, the traditional definition of the Trinity, always involves less certainty because there is more art.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
It is time for the wider world to know this! I presented it at a prestigious theological institution earlier this year - though it was not as well received as I would have hoped (not one of the professors requested my research notes!).
Thank you for inviting me to speak tonight on the influence of M. Goose in the eschatological and hermeneutic approach evident in Paul’s Corinthian correspondence. Because of time I must confine my remarks directly to the influence of Itsy Bitsy Spider. I refer interested persons to my exhaustive four volume work, First Corinthians, a Deconstructive Reconstruction of the Relevant Idiosyncratic Idioms Connecting M. Goose and the Verse School of First Century Palestine, published by University of Woolloomooloo Press.
First I should tell you that this text is not undisputed, despite Perry Deigh’s dating of our earliest manuscripts of Itsy Bitsy Spider to the first century of the Common Era. Perry Deigh’s main detractor would have to be Professor of Ancient Nursery Rhymes at
The figure of the spider, particular the itsy bitsy spider is one familiar to any student of ancient texts, particularly those of Babylonian origin, as a symbol of the personally depersonalized embodiment of kenotic individuality. The figure of the waterspout relates directly to First Corinthians as the obstacle to a life lived in holiness. Despite repetitive rain-sun cycles, indicative of the predictable randomness of daily life, the spider is called upon to traverse this water spout, on a journey to its own teleological eschaton.
Paul had this vision of apocatastasis in mind when dealing with the Corinthian community. I site in particular chapter 10, verses 31 and 32: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the
Thank you for your attention.
Monday, June 23, 2008
I am a theological student on leave, taking this year to recollect my marbles! (By the bye, anyone want to hire a partially trained theologian/artist? I'm very cute....). Once I have found all my marbles - or have collected myself a new set, I shall return (twice as victorious!).
By way of justifying the bandwidth, I have been, in the course of this year long experiment looking a lot at discernment sites, and have noticed a discrepancy. On the one hand, it seems as if even a slight inclination towards the priesthood is proof positive of God's personal call to you. On the other, (mostly on sites about women priests being the final ruin for all of civilization!), no one has a right to the priesthood and merely having a feeling is insufficient reason to claim a call. Now I happen to know this less enthusiastic position is closer to "church teaching" - but surely it holds true for manly vocations too!
While we are at it, what precisely does a call from God look like? I have always had the vision of someone (usually Pat Robertson - I have deplorable viewing habits) having tea with God. God said that you were to give me a job at our last tea by the way!
Probably enough for one evening.