Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Excitement Never Ends


Tomorrow is May Day. I'm not really sure what that is, but I think it has something to do with spring and I'm sure it's essentially a bourgeois strategy to appease the workers and peasants so as to further delay the inevitable uprising. In Oxford both town and gown celebrate the occasion by listening to the Magdalene Boys Choir greet the rising sun from the top of Magdalene tower at around 5pm. The students in the group then distinguish themselves by jumping off the bridge into very shallow water, thereby snapping many ankles. There were fifty injuries last year, so they're closing the bridge for the event. Which is funny, 'cause half the city has to cross the bridge to get to the other half.


I was invited to High Table by a classmate on Friday, and after a little time sitting around and chatting, made a couple of attempts to go dancing. I think this was pretty normal: we heard that Club A sucked that night, so we tried Club B and couldn't get in for some reason. After a few minutes at Club C (which a friend had recommended), we ended up spending most of the evening at Club A. Which was "Filth." Ahem.

I'm still terrifically jet-lagged; last time I dealt with that rather poorly. I woke up at 5, read for a couple of hours, took some NyQuil that Meagan gave me and watched DVDs waiting for it to take effect. But in the meantime I decided I really wanted a cup of coffee. This was a bad idea, so I decided to offset it by taking another dose of NyQuil. This was a much worse idea. I don't recommend doing any of that. This time, I'm just going to be more harsh regulating my sleep.

I have no interest in basketball, but I'm having a lot of fun with Brad and Patrick watching the game behind me:
I love basketball in any shape or form, so I'd watch the play-offs regardless. Watching Brad's team lose is just the icing on the cake.
Okay, time for some linkage.

Theology and Spirituality

Peter has discovered Walter Rauschenbusch. If you're fascinated, check out my report from back in the day. He's also going to be my mentor. Be afraid.

To the Quiet: "Considering Silence" and "Solitude"

Peter White: "Homer Simpson, priest"
"If Jesus is my Lord, he cannot also be my boyfriend."
Church History

Terry Mattingly discusses denial of the Armenian genocide, and makes the unavoidable Holocaust comparison: "The History That Dares Not Speak Its Name."

Hell, why don't we all just present that the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, the Crusades, and the Muslim conquests of the Near East and of Spain just didn't happen so that we can all feel much better about ourselves?

The Way of the Fathers: "Light on the Dark Ages" and "Virgin Territory"

Get Religion: "Everyone Loves to Use the Word 'Glossolalia'"


Gladly Suffering Fools: "White House Announces New Secretary"
American Papist: "A Public Service Message"
Addison Road: "Be Informed About Your Safety!"
American Papist: "Why Ignatius Press Released a Hard Cover Edition of Deus Caritas Est"
American Papist: "Dancing iPope"

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Life Update


I returned to Oxford today; I woke up at 7:30am EST yesterday and have been awake since then. It's almost dinner time! I hope I adjust more quickly to the time change this time around.

I had an amazing vacation. The last four months was the longest time I've gone without seeing my friends at home, and I'd really started to feel that deeply. I've had an intense several months, and it's important to see some folks in person to talk about all of the things that can't really be explored or solved in letters or phone calls.

Mind you, I love Oxford and I love my friends here. I missed them while they were gone over the break. It's like a big party as I sit in the library and write this entry.

I've just had two copies of my essay bound, and they're ready to be submitted tomorrow morning. Hooray!

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Cyril on Baptism


After these things, ye were led to the holy pool of Divine Baptism, as Christ was carried from the Cross to the Sepulchre which is before our eyes. And each of you was asked, whether he believed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and ye made that saving confession, and descended three times into the water, and ascended again; here also hinting by a symbol at the three days burial of Christ. For as our Saviour passed three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, so you also in your first ascent out of the water, represented the first day of Christ in the earth, and by your descent, the night; for as he who is in the night, no longer sees, but he who is in the day, remains in the light, so in the descent, as in the night, ye saw nothing, but in ascending again ye were as in the day.

And at the self-same moment ye were both dying and being born; and that Water of salvation was at once your grave and your mother. And what Solomon spoke of others will suit you also; for he said, in that case, There is a time to bear and a time to die; but to you, in the reverse order, there was a time to die and a time to be born; and one and the same time effected both of these, and your birth went hand in hand with your death.

O strange and inconceivable thing! we did not really die, we were not really buried, we were not really crucified and raised again; but our imitation was in a figure, and our salvation in reality. Christ was actually crucified, and actually buried, and truly rose again; and all these things He has freely bestowed upon us, that we, sharing His sufferings by imitation, might gain salvation in reality. O surpassing loving-kindness! Christ received nails in His undefiled hands and feet, and suffered anguish; while on me without pain or toil by the fellowship of His suffering He freely bestows salvation.
Cyril of Jerusalem, Lecture XX (On the Mysteries II), "Of Baptism," circa AD 347

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Are We Idealistic?


I'm a lazy blogger lately, but I wanted to share here a contribution I offered to a discussion on Abbot Creech's blog. By all means feel free to read and respond there if you like (The title: "What do people want [from church]?"). One of his commenters moved me to think about whether or not we in our shared life, with all our talk about "community," can be called idealists, or if we might find ourselves talking about these great ideas that are essentially unliveable. I find that to be a common objection when I talk about these things, but the crux of the matter is that I see myself and my friends living in these ways right now.
I can see, and appreciate, the allure of the community model that you operate under, in that from the outside, it seems uncomplicated and easy on the surface.
I'm not ready to call our life as VBCC (or my relationships with the folks of hOME in Oxford) to be either easy or uncomplicated, and I never mean it to sound that way. I try to make truth and faithfulness as I understand them to be clear and obvious, but never easy or uncomplicated. Indeed, the whole shebang is about as un/complicated as you could expect a web of relationships to be. There just doesn't happen to be any Powerpoint. Loving each other is never easy, and the ways of doing this in concrete and not hypothetical fashion with real people with real "issues" and life stories is never obvious or easy. There's nothing in my own words about "life in the christian community" that I suppose will make that easy or obvious as such. Being dedicated to one another is never easy. But it is good, and it is healing.

I think we are, however, "People together of like minds, trying to live life and love God."

That should always be square one. But I like to think that we have no illusions: when we start doing that together in the real world with realy people (as we do!) then we see that it's not "easy," but none of us claim for even one moment that it is. It's just faithful.
Nothing of the big church stuff to get hung up on.
Well, there is a certain holy simplicity to it, in my not-so-humble opinion. ;0)
Then I realize that if I were to dive in, even in your community, there would be lots of things to distract and muck it up.
That's true. Now pay attention to this next part, because it's very important: that's the way it's supposed to be. One of the big conceptual and practical tests of our common life is whether and how we see to live with and in that muckiness in a loving and redemptive way rather than to try to escape the muckiness of one another's lives.


Someone once said, "I am neither an optimist or a pessimist. God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead."

Blessed Eastertide to you.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

The Hard Truth


From this evening's conversation:
This probably sounds bad, but I really think that people who don't receive the Eucharist regularly are essentially less saved.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Yip Yip Yip


I had a bowl of chocolate lucky charms for breakfast. It pretty much turned the milk to sludge. It was pretty awesome. And coffee, of course. And pancakes. The other Kyle and I are grilling lamb burgers for lunch in a few hours. I'm excited.
Caren: I have this mental image of you running around like a chihuahua whose owners just came home...
Definately. Yeah, pretty much.

Soon I'll post some readings from Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described. And maybe some stuff on fiddle back chasubles.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Holy Saturday

Christ in the Tomb

A Prayer for Holy Saturday

O faithful, come, let us behold our Life laid in a tomb to give life to those who dwell in tombs. Come, let us behold him in his sleep and cry out to him with the voice of the prophets: 'You are like a lion. Who shall arouse you, O King? Rise by your own power, O you who have given yourself up for us, O Lover of mankind.'

Click here for a short meditation on Holy Saturday, by Simon Jenkins of Ship of Fools.

"Holy Saturday" at Monastic Mumblings

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Simon Peter's Maundy Thursday Homily

Maundy Thursday

Okay kids, here's the promised homily: a narration from the perspective of Simon Peter.

Download the mp3 here (1.1 Mbs) or read the text here.

The scripture reference is here, if you're not familiar with the story.

Other good thoughts at
Coming to the Quiet
Monastic Mumblings

And some complaining at The Archer of the Forest.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Ooh, not done yet.

Apparently, gay people are so dangerous, that the "University of the Cumberlands" couldn't stand to have Johnson on campus for one more day, let alone the rest of the semester.

Lexington Herald Leader: "Reaction grows to gay student's expulsion"
Louisiville Courier Journal: "Student expelled from University of the Cumberlands for being gay"

Get Religion has commentary that I think gets to the heart of the legal/ethical issues.

I wonder if they're going to purge their entire theatre department next? Let's see some consistency...

Excommunication and Redemption

Holy Week

I decided to cut this out of my essay. There wasn't room. Thoughts, anyone?

Finally, we come to the question of how to face the problems that arise when living closely with real people in the context of Eucharistic practice. For people who seek to embody a serious commitment to shared life as the Church, ongoing practices of forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation must be learned. For those times when individuals or groups are at variance with one another and refuse to reconcile, or someone sins against the common life of the Church in a way such as Paul dealt with in the Corinthian church, it is helpful to discuss the redemptive role of excommunication.

We have said that the Eucharist is an eschatological observance that welcomes Christ as judge to align the community with the ultimate restoration of Creation. The Church is called to strive for organic unity and to care for one another, and those who refuse to share this responsibility stand under judgment. It is often supposed that excommunication an act of ultimate exclusion that declares someone to be unworthy to be part of a community. This reflects a misunderstanding of its purpose: excommunication is a way of taking love and sin deeply seriously. It is a discipline that continues the rite’s work of “dislocation:” the Eucharistic discipline does not allow us to cover over our sins against one another, as our acts of betrayal, evasion and abandonment in the community are given ultimate significance as failures to “discern the Body.”

Excommunication is a final resort meant to give testimony to the breech in relationship that already exists, and serves as a prelude to healing and reconciliation; only in such cases can it be redemptive rather than vindictive, and be what Cavanaugh calls “an act of hospitality.” This is why the possibility must be maintained even in a consumer society where anyone can simply leave and take up with another congregation. The very existence of excommunication as a discipline makes it clear that each communicant is actually important enough, and their actions matter so much, that their place in the church is a matter of concern to the entire community. The community may only impose discipline out of respect for the individual’s baptism, whereby the value of a person’s new life in Christ and unquestioned place in the life of the community is taken completely for granted. This keeps the discipline from being merely an act of shaming.

Rather than being a kind of retribution, the act itself must express the core unity of which we have been speaking. Rowan Williams has phrased the matter this way:
“We are part of a body whose failures are our common failures. It is always a temptation to say ‘We are the true church, they have abandoned us’ and yet even as we make necessary disjunctions and separations, there is a point at which we must remember in our prayer, this is our suffering; this is our loss, we are together in sin as well as in grace.”
If excommunication is a valid discipline rather than an act of destructive exclusion, there must always be a real relational cost involved to all concerned, with the restoration of offending members as the unquestioned goal. Excommunication is a way of judging ourselves so as to avoid the judgment of God. It cannot be prescribed for periodic offenses against love; such occurrences are to be expected. It would only be acceptable for persons who in the face of the community’s pained rebuke continue to engage in destructive patterns of behavior. John Colwell offers a helpful distinction: “only when such acts can no longer be deemed inconsistencies, only when the continuity of a person’s life has become discontinuous with the gospel narrative, does a claimed Christian identity become incoherent.” Any proper Eucharistic discipline seeks to bring the entire community in greater coherence to its basic truths.

Ultimately, an ongoing practice that recognizes the continual expiation of sins and the need for forgiveness and reconciliation in human relationships will give us “the means to acknowledge [our] blunders as part of our own story, but to see ourselves in a story where even our blunders are part of an ongoing grace, that is, are forgiven and transformed for ‘our good and the good of all the church.’”


William T. Cavanaugh, Torture and Eucharist, 243.
Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon, Resident Aliens, 129
Rowan Williams, "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church"
John Colwell, Living the Story, 185
Stanley Hauerwas, "Character, Growth and Narrative in the Christian Life," in The Hauerwas Reader, 249.

See also

Unity and Exclusion
The Minimum

Monday, April 10, 2006

Of Geeks and Nerds

Holy Week

Katey Creech has graciously explained "the difference between nerds and geeks:
Nerds are more school work/knowledge oriented. They would rarely waste their brain power on video games and tend to shower more often."
I think I can accept that. I think I can even skirt the edges from time to time with an odd round of Halo, and maintain my self-respect in terms of social skills and hygiene...
Geeks on the other hand do play video games as well as card games like yu-gi-oh and magic the gathering. They also care little about their appearance. They know random facts about swords, knives, anime, and odd things like that that are totally useless in life.
Um. Theology always gets to be called useful, because it's the queen of the sciences. Just so you know.


You know, I've realized that ecumenism gives me a terrible rash.

All this time I thought it was my laundry detergent.

Checking the Classifieds

In between some correspondance and revising my essay, I'm continuing to read Athanasius' Life of Antony. The thing reads like an exorcism manual. Now that's some professional development!

Matt says that each bishop in the C of E appoints a diocesan exorcist from among the clergy. And I think that's wicked cool.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Palm Sunday
"...the greatness of the great Christian saints lies in their readiness to be questioned, judged, stipped naked and left speechless by that which lies at the center of their faith."

- Rowan Williams, The Wound of Knowledge: Christian Spirituality from the New Testament to Saint John of the Cross, 1.

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Name Calling

Palm Sunday

Sometimes people will ask seminarians, "When you're ordained, will I have to call you 'Father'?"

And the only thing I can think to say is, "If you have to ask, you probably should."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Antony Receives Visitors

5 Lent

This was (believe it or not) a topic of conversation over coffee this week, and in lieu of commentary, I thought it would be much more fun to offer some primary sources.

S. Antony
But those of his acquaintances who came, since [Antony] did not permit them to enter [his cell], often used to spend days and nights outside, and heard as it were crowds within clamouring, dinning, sending forth piteous voices and crying, 'Go from what is ours. What dost thou even in the desert? Thou canst not abide our attack.'

So at first those outside though there were some men fighting with him, and that they had entered by ladders; but when stooping down they saw through a hole there was nobody, they were afraid, accounting them to be demons, and they called on Antony. Them he quickly heard, though he had not given a thought to the demons, and coming to the door he besought them to depart and not to be afraid, 'for thus,' said he, 'the demons make their seeming onslaughts againt those who are cowardly. Sign yourselves therefore with the cross, and depart boldly, and let them make sport for themselves.' So they departed fortified with the sign of the Cross."
The Life of Antony, ch. 13, +Athanasius of Alexandria. Written c. 356-362.

S. Athanasius
...Whereas formerly demons used to deceive men's fancy, occupying springs or rivers, trees or stones, and thus imposed upon the simple by their juggleries; now after the divine visitation of the Word, their deception has ceased. For by the Sign of the Cross, though a man but use it, he drives out their deceits.
On the Incarnation of the Word 47.2, +Athanasius

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. (One day) the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
- The Acts of the Apostles, 19.13-16.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Random Stuff

5 Lent

Tonight we had a larger group meeting of the 'home' community, to talk things over about worship, mission, and the beginning of the monastic chapter. Fun times. I've spent over eight hours today revising my essay, and I think I'm about to spend one more. It's been a good day; I like it when I have some clear direction in my work, and there's a concrete purpose involved.

Patrick and I just spent some time watchin' telly. Highlights included Frasier, South Park, and "Extreme Plastic Surgery." And lots of screaming. True to the title, the surgery was indeed extreme. Hence the screaming. Obviously.

We watched music videos on some of the 20-odd music channels. I remember when "Stacy's Mom" was popular back home; it was when I first arrived in Dallas in the late summer of 2003. I thought I was going to begin some positive (priestly) formation, and come to a safe place in terms of community. Oops. Nostalgia is a funny thing. I remember arriving at my apartment with Bonny and Steve, and calling my friends to tell them what a nice place it was. It even had a pool. I never used it much. I will still recovering from the accident, and had to be careful about how I treated my body. Oh, well.

You know, I still have divets in the sides of my skull. I only notice when I cut my hair short. They aren't visible, of course.

Hope and trust are funny things. I can get called cynical or foolishly idealistic by different people for saying the same thing. If I am what some people call idealistic, it's because I do hope and I do trust. Lots of people don't.

I like this way better. I have no idea why I decided to write this funky stream-of-consciousness post, but there it is.

Update, 02:45. I have finished correcting my draft.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Essay Writing

5 Lent

Jen and Anna are just chatting away as I bleed my life into my work. Check out my workstation. I'm sure that +Alan will be pleased to know that they share my workspace with an icon of the Blessed Trinity. I am a theology machine! Grrr!

Word Count for Eucharistic Ecclesiology (Updated whenever I get fidgety):

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
5,308 / 7,000

In the Eucharist, Jesus comes to create unity through the exercise of judgment in the community now, as the eschatological judgment and restoration is brought into the present (Cavanaugh 235-36):
"For those who are not in Christ, judgment likewise does not simply await the parousia; people are already getting sick and dying as a consequence of eating an drinking without discerning the body of Christ. Paul is not speaking metaphorically; the Eucharist can kill you. We must stress that it is not the church which disciplines, but the Lord who disciplines the church. Furthermore, this is not a matter for the 'soul' alone. Those who 'eat and drink judgment against themselves' feel the effects in their very flesh" (236).

- William T. Cavanaugh, Torture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics and the Body of Christ, Blackwell Publishers: Oxford, 1998.

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Sacrifice of Praise

5 Lent
John Paul II

Post-Modern Experiential Worship Kit
(Anglo) Catholic Version


1. Candle - for the invocation of the Holy Spirit, the flame of love that recreates us.

2. Crucifix - That we may ever meditate upon and be mindful of the Sacrifice of the Lord.

3. Icon of the Trinity: The Hospitality of Abraham - As the divine persons indwell and encircle one other (Gk. "perichoresis") as different but united personalities, the Holy Spirit catches us up into this dance, and enables our participation in the life of this divine community. Our prayers and praises comprise our "steps" in this dance. See also "The Sign of the Cross."

4. Censer - Our worship on earth corresponds to the worship in heaven.
"May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice" (Ps 141.2).

Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand (Rev 8.3-4).
5. Shorter Christian Prayer - Let us learn to pray from the psalter, and to do so with the whole Church.

Post-Modern Experiential Worship Kit
Reformed Version


The Greek New Testament.
...Give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching (1 Tim 4.13).

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