Monthly Archives: April 2008

Lite Randomness

  • Had a nice cup of coffee with Fr. Chris yesterday while he was down on a whirlwind business trip. That’s one of the joys of blogging—when real connections get made that go beyond just text on a computer screen.
  • His talk about moving and work made me realize we’ll be doing that soon too. The academic job thing isn’t looking likely for the coming year so I’ll be looking in IT type things. I’m considering picking up a MySQL certification…
  • I wandered around the Anglican blogosphere yesterday. It can be a vicious little environment… Nevertheless, as much as I’d sometimes like to wash my hands of the larger environment and just focus on me, my family, and my parish home, things are happening out there that will be effecting the church for quite a while to come. Protesting about policies—or the next prayerbook—when it arrives at the local parish is too little, too late…
  • I got a call yesterday that one of our priests had died. Not entirely unexpected, but sad all the same. Of your charity, I bid your prayers for the repose of the soul of Fr. Bill.

Identity and Priorities

The reported words of the Bishop of Durham found in the Lead today gives me pause. If letters are going out, I wonder whether they go to the “Southern” Cone or to New York & Friends. I’ll not waste my time nor yours speculating—I imagine if the words are true, we’ll know soon enough.

The girls and I went to M’s church yesterday where there were two preachers. The first preached at the early service which was a set of baptisms of great significance for the life of the local church. The preacher was a visitor from the area who now holds a role at 815. The preacher at the second service was M. I was struck by the contrast between the two.

I don’t like judging a person on the basis of a single sermon or liturgical encounter, so I’ll try not to do that. Let me just say that the first preacher completely met my stereotypes of someone who works at 815: much emphasis on social justice. The church was mentioned several times but I came away uncertain what the difference was between the church and a social services agency.

M’s sermon focused on Jesus as the gate through baptism and the sacramental life in the presence of God as the meaning of “having life and having it abundantly.”

No matter to whom the ABC’s letters go, now is the take for the Episcopal Church as a whole to think careful about who and what it is. My own focus and my own gifts are not those best suited for social justice, but I see that as an important component of what we do deriving entirely from God’s call to us. But we are not a social services agency or an advocacy organization. We are a church. The deep mysteries of life, the beauty of holiness, the life hid in God—these are our core mission and the other things we do proceed from there.


Exchanges like the one yesterday always put me in a pondering mood. Also yesterday I noted on my stats page that someone had visited this old post and I got to re-reading the comment thread. The discussion there kept my thinking going along these lines:

  • How do we go about communicating the essential truths and varied riches of the Christian tradition both to those new to the church and to those who have been in it for decades?
  • How do we do it in such a way that communicates the doctrinal and propositional truths but foregrounds the contemplative and the mystical?
  • How do we invite others into the life hid in God–especially when we are still fumbling on the way there ourselves?

I’ve got some initial ideas but nothing terribly firm yet… What are your thoughts?

Christopher and Fr. Chris on the “Office Ideal”

Christopher has been doing some good thinking recently on the Daily Office (and also here) and it’s place in our daily life. His conclusion is that Cranmer’s twice-daily Office should be seen as an ideal. Fr. Chris agrees and sees additional offices as a calling for some but not necessarily the ideal for all.

I quite agree with them both. I always fight a more-is-better tendency when it comes to the liturgy in general and the Office in particular. But, in the interests of both predictablity and sustainability sometimes we—ok, I—need to remember and relapse into what Christopher calls “Benedictine simplicity done elegantly”.

On Gnostics as Proto-Feminists

I’ll point you to two things today. First, Dr. Deirdre Good has an interesting piece up at the Cafe today on women prophets in the first Christian century. It’s a good piece in what it says. I fear that it leaves a few things unstated but implicit. That is, it mentions little bits on women prophets from the NT, then notes that the Church Fathers spoke about some of these unfavorably but gnostic texts were more favorable. This leads one to believe that the Church Fathers and the Early Church in general were oppressive patriarchs and the gnostics were proto-feminists. The texts don’t bear this out…

[Correction: Dr. Good did not mention the gnostics; I had gnostics on the brain this morning from the article on Elaine Pagels mentioned below and did not read the article carefully enough before opening my big mouth… Rather, she mentions Philo (a Jewish author), the Montanists (a group claiming their prophets to be the incarnation of the Holy Ghost deemed heretical by emerging catholic orthodoxy), and the Protoevangelium of James, a popular Christian work later supressed for its denial of Joseph’s virginity.

Pagels, however, does suggest that the gnostic practice of calling God Mother as well as Father translated into social categories and adduces her evidence in chapter 3 of the Gnostic Gospels.]

Yes, the Early Church was born in a patriarchal culture and yes, the Church Fathers didn’t like the Montanists. This doesn’t mean the gnostics weren’t every bit as patriarchial–and sometimes moreso. And that’s what you find when you read gnostic texts. The idea that materiality is evil, a prison for the divine spark of the soul, leaves little place for women who are, as it were, the very source of the infection itself for in procreation they are little demiurges—prison-makers if you will—and each child they bear is another soul entrapped…

Also missing from Dr. Good’s discussion is the way that the NT orders of Widows and Virgins were continued within the Early Church up to the rise of monasticism where they joined their brothers and we had female monastics.
So I added a little addenda that points people to Jerome’s letters to show a vibrant community of women religious within the mainstream church supported rather than oppressed by the Church Fathers.

Add to this a nice article by Bruce Chilton that The Swain points us to on the mistakes of Elaine Pagels and the incorrect picture that many current Christians (especially Episcopalians) have about the gnosts as proto-liberal Christians.

Blogging Diversification

I’m starting a new blog. It can be found here. It will be my “professional” blog and will restrict itself to purely academic matters of medievalism and Scripture interpretation. There are occasional items that might get cross-posted here but, for the most part, they will be distinct.

I’m doing this for a couple of reasons.

One is so actual medievalists who come by on occasion won’t have to wonder if I’m actually going to say something they’re interested in or just rant some more about the Anglican Communion and its woes.  Dr. Nokes has probably heard more about Anglicans than he’d care to know…

Another is that with a separate blog for such material, I’ll be more likely to actually post material there.

Another is that it will allow me to focus this blog more on the direction it seems to be taking which has liturgical spirituality at its heart.

So–pop over, check it out; it’s still a work in progress, of course, but hopefully it’ll grow into something interesting too.

New Submission for the Journal of Advanced Toddler Studies

Tiko the Squirrel: Arboral Innocent or Indigenous Revolutionary?

Abstract: Dora the Explorer’s furry companion Tiko the Squirrel seems no more than a lovable addition to the show’s regular cast of characters. But does his Spanish-only linguistic stance and his distinctive indigenous outfit reveal a deeper anti-Imperialist agenda? Special attention is given to his place of residence: the “nut farm.” Comparisons will be drawn between this utopian agrarian collective patrolled by ominously uniformed ‘public saftey” officers holding signs of “rojo” and “verde” and Stalinist agricultural ventures. The paper will end with speculation concerning the identity of the anonymous donor who purported gave several thousand pounds of nuts to the government of Hugo Chavez.

Morning Thought

Zeus, who guided men to think,
who has laid it down that wisdom,
comes alone through suffering.
Still there drips in sleep against the heart
grief of memory; against
our pleasure we are temperate.
From the gods who sit in grandeur
grace comes somehow violent.

Aeschylus, trans. Lattimore, Agamemnon, ll. 176-183.

Medical Limbo

Yesterday the doctor told me that I could stop doing the daily IV treatments and go to oral antibiotics. You’d think that would make M and myself quite happy. Instead we were (and remain) vaguely uneasy.

That’s because he’s revised his diagnosis.

After my first MRI the radiologist, the orthopedist, and my doctor–the infectious disease guy–all said that the scan indicated osteomyelitis: infection of the bone.

After this second, the radiologist and orthopedist are still saying the same thing. My doctor has decided that it’s not really osteomyelitis, buit that it’s inflamation of the outer layer of the bone due to the infection. Antinflammatories should clear that up.

Except that I’ve been taking them all along for pain…

So—I’m off the IV antibiotics and on orals. My foot still has some swelling (but not as much as there was) and it’s painful to walk too much (but I couldn’t walk at all before).

What exactly’s going on?

If I had to guess, I’d say that my doctor knows the daily schedule is hard on all of us and he doesn’t know what else he can do to go after the infection. Thus, he’s scaling back to see if it comes back or not. I kinda feel like a guniea pig…

Needless to say, we’re still going to leave the pic line in just in case. M’s suggesting I push for a bone scan which would tell us for sure whether the infection’s there or not.

New Chant Book from the Romans

The New Liturgical Movement has an announcement up about a new chant book that the Catholic Music Association of America has put together. The key here is that it contains chant for both the Ordinary (Novus Ordo) and Extraordinary (traditional Latin mass) Forms.

Naturally, texts are in Latin but with English translations.

There is a section for seasonal hymns; sadly, office hymns are in short supply…