Thursday, September 28, 2006

An Update on Bp Schofield

An update from the Diocese of San Joaquin website, following up on something I've mentioned before:

"All Charges Dropped

Bishop John-David Schofield received a call this morning from Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold stating that the Review Committee met and voted unanimously to drop all charges against Bishop Schofield. The Review Committee also found that the use of Canon IV.9 (Abandonment of Communion) was an inappropriate use of canon law."

I hope that this is one of the first signs of detente in the Episcopal Church.

You can always hope, can't you?


Gregory of Nyssa on Christian Service

Some thoughts from the 4th century, on the gospel for Proper 21 (26):

"God never asks his servants to do what is impossible. The love and goodness of his Godhead is revealed as richly available. It is poured out like water upon all. God furnishes to each person according to his will the ability to do something good. None of those seeking to be saved will be lacking in this ability, given by the one who said: 'whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose the reward.' "

Gregory of Nyssa, in On the Christian Mode of Life (FC 58:157).

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Charlemagne's Bones

"Some years ago archaeologists discovered the tomb of Emperor Charlemagne of France. When it was opened for the first time in many centuries, the usual treasures of the kingdom were found, but in the center of the vault was a great throne, and upon it sat the skeleton of the ruler himself with an open Bible in his lap. His bony finger had been made to point t a certain verse of Scripture . . . "For what shall it profit a person if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" It is a timely reminder that our Western society needs to hear over and over again."

Ben Witherington III, The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001) 254. (Unfortunately the author does not cite his source on the story.)

This reminder is not just timely for Western society, but anyone meditating on the readings from the Revised Common Lectionary for Proper 19 (24), which is this coming Sunday.

Ben Witherington has a blog as well. Check it out.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Relics of St. Mary Magdalene Descend from Mt. Athos

Not on their own accord, but in a fancy golden box.

I am curious; when they say "the palm of St. Mary Magdalene," do they mean palm as in frond, or palm as in piece of her hand? Each equally possible, knowing the Orthodox fascination with bodies and body parts, particularly when they are inccorrupt.

Read the story here.

I do hope that Dan Brown is not associated with St. Mary Magdalene for too much longer, by the way.

"Out of Ur" on How Not to Preach

Out of Ur, the blog of Leadership magazine, has posted a two part series on preaching, critical of what the poster is calling "practical preaching," and it's worth a look.

Here's a bit of the first post:

"When our goal is to 'bottom line' our preaching, we look in our text for the 'so' and preach that conclusion. For example, our sermon drives home the truth that we need not be afraid. If we have been effective, our brothers and sisters go home with this outpost of truth established or enlarged in their thinking. But here's the rub. On Tuesday, when some frightening crisis looms in their lives, they may remember, 'the Bible says we are not to be afraid,' but they don't know how to be strong. They don't know the trail, the process the mind and heart follow to fearlessness. We exposed them to the conclusion without the thinking that makes that conclusion work."

And, a piece of the second post:

"The Bible spends much more time on shaping the spiritual mind than commanding particular behavior. We need far more training in the ways of grace, of spiritual perceptions, and of what God is really like, than we do in how to communicate with our spouse. Understanding the glory of Christ is far more practical than our listeners imagine. Properly preached, every sermon based on a passage of Scripture is fundamentally practical. Every author of Scripture wrote to effect change in God's people. It is our job as preachers to find the persuasive logic of that author and put that clearly and persuasively before our people through biblical exposition."

The author places a high value on what he calls "God's logic," and I'm not sure I follow his, mostly because "logical" is not on my list of adjectives to describe scripture in it's entirety. (Does that make me post-modern? It does to him.)

However, the idea that scripture is persuasive, and has a way of colonizing the mind with a truth sometimes alien to it, is well taken. Scripture, and the proclamation of scripture in preaching, has the possibility not just of showing us how to act, but how to think differently. By altering our very perception of the world and how it works results in a deeper kind of Christian living, and a Christian much more able to profess and explicate why he or she engages the world differntly.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Back in Canada, Where We're This Nervous About Religion

A story from the CBC:
Some fellow passengers are questioning why an Orthodox Jewish man was removed from an Air Canada Jazz flight in Montreal last week for praying.

The man was a passenger on a Sept. 1 flight from Montreal to New York City when the incident happened.

The airplane was heading toward the runway at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport when eyewitnesses said the Orthodox man began to pray.

"He was clearly a Hasidic Jew," said Yves Faguy, a passenger seated nearby. "He had some sort of cover over his head. He was reading from a book.

"He wasn't exactly praying out loud but he was lurching back and forth," Faguy added.
Sad, really, that prayer can make a person so nervous so as to kick a man off a plane. But check this:
"The attendant actually recognized out loud that he wasn't a Muslim and that she was sorry for the situation but they had to ask him to leave," Faguy said.
It boggles the mind. He wasn't a Muslim, so they actually weren't afraid that he would pray the plane out of the sky? But prayer is still so dangerous, or nervous-making, that he had to leave?

Pokes a hole in the "Canadians are tolerant" theory. Or perhaps a confirmation that we are tolerant and understanding of just about everything but religion?