Thursday, April 29, 2010

Marilynne Robinson

Since Marilynne Robinson is coming to KC here real soon, I thought I would post the very creative and moving opening paragraph of Gilead.

"I told you last night that I might be gone sometime, and you said, Where, and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I'm old, and you said, I don't think you're old. And you put your hand in my hand and you said, You aren't very old, as if that settled it. I told you you might have a very different life from mine, and form the life you've had with me, and that would be a wonderful thing, there are many ways to live a good life. And you said, Mama already told me that. And then you said, Don't laugh! because you thought I was laughing at you. You reached up and put your fingers on my lips and gave me that look I never in my life saw on any other face besides your mother's. It's a kind of furious pride, very passionate and stern. I'm always a little surprised to find my eyebrows unsinged after I've suffered one of those looks. I will miss them."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Parker Palmer

"In the tradition of pilgrimage, those hardships are seen not as accidental but as integral to the journey itself. Treacherous terrain, bad weather, taking a fall, getting lost -- challenges of that sort, largely beyond our control can strip the ego of the illusion that it is in charge and make space for true self to emerge. If that happens, the pilgrim has a better change to find the scared center he or she seeks. Disabused of our illusions by much travel and travail, we awaken one day to find that the sacred center is here and now -- in every moment of the journey, everywhere in the world around us, and deep within our own hearts."

Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak, 18.

Friday, April 23, 2010

For Sunday: Luke 10:38-42

Any thoughts on this?

"Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman name Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparation; and she came up to Him and said, "Lord do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me." But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rohr on Wisdom

"Without exception, all of the wisdom traditions would insist that this wisdom is given and not taken, waited for and not demanded, having much more to do with long-term willingness than mere willfulness."

Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (page 63).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mumford and Sons

I discovered Mumford and Sons through Jamie Smith's blog ... So, thanks to him for posting about them! I am really digging this band right now and I wanted to share just two of their songs for now.

The first one is called "Sigh No More." Here are the lyrics ...

Serve God love me and men
This is not the end
Live unbruised we are friends
And I'm sorry
I'm sorry

Sigh no more, no more
One foot in sea, one on shore
My heart was never pure
you know me
you know me

And man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing

Love that will not betray you,
dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free
Be more like the man
you were made to be.
There is a design,
An alignment to cry,
At my heart you see,
The beauty of love
as it was made to be

It starts out slow and builds towards this lyrically beautiful climax, not that I don't also love the way it sounds! There's not a really good video out there that I could find, but I think you'll get the point. Enjoy!

The other song is called "Little Lion Man." For some reason when I hear this song I think about my own son. Here are the lyrics ...

Weep for yourself, my man,
you'll never be what is in your heart
weep little lion man,
you're not as brave as you were at the start
rate yourself and rake yourself,
take all the courage you have left
wasted on fixing all the problems
that you made in your own head

but it was not your fault but mine
and it was your heart on the line
I really fucked it up this time
didn't I, my dear?
didn't I, my...

tremble for yourself, my man,
you know that you have seen this all before
tremble little lion man,
you'll never settle for any of your scores
your grace is wasted in your face,
your boldness stands alone among the wreck
learn from your mother or else spend your days biting your own neck

Here's the official video. Note ... if you read the lyrics you know that there's one word in there you might not want your kids to hear so make sure they aren't in the room when you listen.

Kathleen Norris, Metaphor, and the Book of Revelation

I recently read this in Kathleen Norris's book The Cloister Walk and absolutely loved it. The quote comes at the end of a chapter where she has been reflecting on the time when St. John's (the Abbey at which she is an oblate) read John's Apocalypse straight through one morning. She found that reading it lectio style made the vision and the metaphors come alive. Insightfully she notes that "the images of apocalypse are meant to make us uncomfortable" (213), that it takes us "beyond the bounds of language and custom" (214). But it's what she says at the end the grabs my gut, heart, and head.
"Dragons within, dragons without. Evil so pervasive that only the poetry of apocalypse can imagine its defeat. And to do that it takes us to the limits of metaphor, of human sense, the limits of imagining and understanding. It pushes us against all our boundaries and suggest that the end of our control--our ideologies our plans, our competence, our expertise, our professionalism, our power--is the beginning of God's reign. It asks us to believe that only the good remains, at the end, and directs us toward carefully tending it here and now. We will sing a new song. Singing and praise will be all that remains. As a poet, that's a vision, and I promise, I can live with."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

N.T. Wright and friends at Wheaton

When I first heard that a whole slew of theological brainiacs where going to be a part of a conference at Wheaton in April I soooo wanted to go. Alas, the Lord works in mysterious ways and prevented me from attending a conference and instead granted me a gift in visiting family in California as we mourned and celebrated the death of a grandma. Nevertheless, you could imagine how happy I was when I discovered that I could listen to many of the lectures online! Thanks to those who made it possible for us to glean from the conference through these audio recordings!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

National Day of Prayer

Is it really that big of deal that the White House canceled the ecumenical ceremony usually held at the White House? It seems that most people think the entire day has been canceled, but it hasn't. Only the ecumenical ceremony has. Why does this bother people?

Jennifer Knapp

It's hard for me to tell who knows about Jennifer Knapp or not. If her "coming out" is flying more or less under the radar, it is only a matter of time. However, given her interview with Christianity Today, I am certain that word is out. I wonder how people will react to her? How did you react to this? Did it shock you? Or are you not surprised that more and more Christians are coming out about their sexuality (Ted Haggard and Ray Boltz)?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sleep Talking Man

Have you ever heard of the blog called Sleep Talking Man? No? Well, here's what it is ... it's a blog about a man who ... get this .. .talks in his sleep! No kidding. It's pretty funny, go check it out. I will say, though, that he can be rather "colorful," as they say. So, if that offends you don't say I didn't warn you.

Here's how you can find this site. (1) Click the link about called "Sleep Talking Man". (2) Go to my sidebar and click the link "Sleep Talking Man." (3) Open up a new web page and type in the words

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Acedia & Me

A couple of weeks ago I started reading Kathleen Norris’s new book Acedia and Me. My introduction to Norris was in college where I had to read The Cloister Walk for class. I have to admit that I wasn’t that in to reading her stuff back then. Although I am certain that my disinterest had less to do with her than with me. CW is a spiritual autobiography of sorts tracking, as she calls it, her “immersion into the liturgical world.” She makes her way through the early church fathers such as Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil the Great, and Gregory the Great. She talks about the “mystics” such as Hildegard of Bingen. She also spends time working through the Rule of Saint Benedict. CW is a wonderful account of a Protestant becoming familiar with her own ancient tradition.

In Acedia and Me
she tackles a particular subject found all through the Christian tradition. Acedia is a difficult thing to define. The short version definition is lack of care. She says, “the person afflicted with acedia refuses to care or is incapable of doing so.” She likens it to a kind of “spiritual morphine” that not only stifles our desire for God and one another but our desire to take care of our selves (3). Suddenly nothing seems worth it. Making the bed every day is pointless since you will just climb back in at night and ruin what you have done. Worse is the loss of desire to sleep at night and wake up the morning. Modern psychology has often confused laziness and sloth and even depression with Acedia. Part of this has to do with the fact that Acedia as a word/concept went under the radar for so long. Perhaps what doctors and therapists have tried to treat with medication required a more “spiritual” form of direction. Norris always seems to go back to fixed-hour prayer and the Psalms.

Norris is not trying to establish an either/or between Acedia and whatever we have discovered through medicine and psychology. Rather, she wants to recover the idea that part of our depression, laziness, sloth, boredom, etc is not so easily resolved with medication, or even a swift kick in the pants. There is a formational aspect to health and wholeness that Acedia names quite well. Of course, naming is not the name of the game. Naming our conditions helps, but there is also overcoming them, which requires an end to which we must go, a self that is possible. At this point Norris talks about being the image of God

Acedia, however, is not to be confused with the dark night of the soul, as many call it. What troubled Saint John of the cross, and even Mother Teresa, cannot be labeled acedia. Lacking the felt presence of God is not Acedia, for often time we still long/desire for God and we maintain a sense of what we must do in this life in terms of caring for our others as well as ourselves.

So, that’s the jist of what she is talking about. It’s a good and timely read, I think. Shifting gears a little, I do want to leave with a quote that seems apt to our present digital/virtual age. On the one hand, I couldn’t help but wonder how many us just simply don’t care; I mean really don’t care. On the other hand, in light of the recent political divide in the United States, could it be that many are fighting of the despair of acedia because they hope for something better? Although this quotes ends on a somber note, it’s very revealing. Anyways ...

“When acedia has so thoroughly possessed us, making life seem so dull that only artificial stimulation can get our attention, it may be crazy to suggest that the ordinary rhythms of time, the passing of day and night, have something to teach us, or that there is a world to be revealed when the mall is closed, the electric power has failed, and it is too dark to see anything but shadows and stars. Cast back on our lonely, raw, and wounded selves, we may find the nobody is home.”

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Rising

Can't see nothin' in front of me
Can't see nothin' coming up behind
I make my way through this darkness
I can't feel nothing but this chain that binds me
Lost track of how far I've gone
How far I've gone, how high I've climbed
On my back's a sixty pound stone
On my shoulder a half mile line

Come on up for the rising
Com on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Left the house this morning
Bells ringing filled the air
Wearin' the cross of my calling
On wheels of fire I come rollin' down here

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Spirits above and behind me
Faces gone, black eyes burnin' bright
May their precious blood forever bind me
Lord as I stand before your fiery light

I see you Mary in the garden
In the garden of a thousand sighs
There's holy pictures of our children
Dancin' in a sky filled with light
May I feel your arms around me
May I feel your blood mix with mine
A dream of life comes to me
Like a catfish dancin' on the end of the line

Sky of blackness and sorrow (a dream of life)
Sky of love, sky of tears (a dream of life)
Sky of glory and sadness (a dream of life)
Sky of mercy, sky of fear (a dream of life)
Sky of memory and shadow (a dream of life)
Your burnin' wind fills my arms tonight
Sky of longing and emptiness (a dream of life)
Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life (a dream of life)

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

-Bruce Springsteen


And then there was something...