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Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

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The Oxford Movement’s sacramental interpretation of Scripture

The Incarnation is the mystery of human nature divinized, and the goal of the Christian life is “union with that mystery, whereby we are made partakers of the Incarnation.”[2] Learning from the Fathers how to see, as well as how and where to look, is a form of instruction in the character of that mystery, but this seeing, this reading, is also a way to come to share in, to participate in, the truth that is known. The basic insight of the incarnational approach is that the truth that is known is also the life into which one is drawn by participation, sanctification, and illumination.

C.S. Lewis offers a wonderful description of this desire for union, a desire for a sacramental or real connection rather than an external or nominal one:

We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words — to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.[3]

Recovering the patristic approach to Scripture is not just Bible-reading, but a means of progressing into what we learn to see. For the Tractarians, reading the Bible was a form of instruction, and also a means of sacramental participation with the Word who speaks in the words and who is manifest in the histories, people, institutions, and rites of the Scriptures. Newman, Keble, and Pusey affirmed the “real presence” of Christ not only in the sacramental elements, but also, in a different way, in the lettered body of the Scriptures.

Source: The Oxford Movement’s sacramental interpretation of Scripture

Very interesting:

The white male effect in the U.S., viewed alongside the similar risk perceptions of native Swedish men and women, suggests that it can at least sometimes be the different social place, identities, and experiences of men and women in the world, rather than some enduring dissimilarity of biology, that underlie sex differences in risk perception. This is a vital point since, as we’ve seen, it is these subjective perceptions that underlie sex differences in risk taking. The idea that women have evolved to be biologically predisposed to perceive greater risks to health is intuitively plausible, but appears to be simply wrong. As the researchers who first identified the white male effect point out: “Biological factors should apply to nonwhite men and women as well as to white people.”

http://m.nautil.us/issue/48/chaos/the-hidden-sexism-of-how-we-think-about-risk

His Holiness Pope Francis: Why the only future worth building includes everyone | TED Talk | TED.com

My Mother Wasnt Trash | | This Appalachia Life

This is one of the most powerful personal reflections I’ve read in a long time. Have your tissue ready.

My mother died the day she turned 55.

This Sunday will be my first Mother’s Day without her, but nearly a year after she died, I still find it impossible to be heartbroken over her passing. As I wrote in her obituary, she suffered from both mental and physical illness for much of her life. However, despite her struggles, she selflessly loved and supported those who meant the most to her. In so many ways, she loved those who society deemed outcast and unloveable, and through her relentless love of others, her relationship with God was readily apparent. While I miss her dearly, it would be selfish of me to wish that she were still alive and suffering rather than at peace.

I suppose that my mother is the single biggest reason that I have devoted much of my career to studying poverty. My mother was what some folks call white trash, and by extension, that made me white trash growing up too. Truth is, she never stood much of a chance of climbing out of the poverty in which she became mired the minute she was born. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother was (and still is) about as wicked a human as I have ever met. Mom and her sister mostly raised themselves, so it’s no wonder they got married and left their abusive home first chance they got. At 16, Mom married an alcoholic who beat her most every day until the night he came home drunk and she rolled him up in the bedsheets and beat the hell out of him with a baseball bat. Not long after, she got pregnant. Her firstborn child died before he was a week old. She named him Dustin David, and his loss laid heavy on her heart for the rest of her life. It was just one piece of a lifetime of heartbreaking burden that took a toll on her mental health.

Not long after Dusty died, she met my father and my conception hastened the bells of Mom’s second wedding. My father is a good man, but they divorced by the time I was out of diapers. After my father, she married a total of five more times, twice to the same man. She had the biggest heart of anyone I have ever known, but picking men was not among her gifts. She told me more than once that she didn’t think she deserved a good man. I was never able to convince her that she deserved a partner who treated her well.

Source: My Mother Wasnt Trash | | This Appalachia Life

500 years after Luther, the law/gospel insight remains almost true – Covenant

Good thoughts from Dr. Garwood Anderson. The Law/Gospel hermeneutic, as attractive and helpful as it is and can be, is rightfully only a tool, and becomes distorted when taken as foundational or intrinsic to the text as opposed to the human psyche.
-JBH

Five centuries this side of the Reformation, Zahl and his colleagues understandably find an urgency to repristinate Luther’s vision for the present hour. The law/gospel antithesis has both fallen on hard times in certain circles while, perhaps not accidentally, simultaneously enjoyed a revival in others. A substantial cadre of New Testament scholars doubts that Luther got this distinction quite right, and some think he got it quite wrong. Count me among the former. Reading Zahl’s article illustrates two things for me: the tremendous liberating appeal of this “almost right” understanding of the gospel and the grave hermeneutical consequence of being almost right in this way. I might say that the article demonstrates that the law/gospel antithesis has much greater psychological appeal than it has hermeneutical integrity.

Source: 500 years after Luther, the law/gospel insight remains almost true – Covenant

The Rev. Mrs. Fleming Rutledge is Not Ashamed of the Gospel | Mockingbird

Thank you Sarah Condon. Keep up the sin talk:

The Rev. Rutledge spoke of kerygma, which is to say, the proclamation of the Gospel. She pointed to scripture and clearly named Jesus Christ moving from “he did mighty works” to “my Lord and my God.” And finally, that woman preacher reminded us that our church is not a memorial society; it is the body of the Lord and Living Christ.I looked around, and we were all weeping: men, women, young, old, ordained, and laypeople.We needed it. And we needed her to say it.

Source: The Rev. Mrs. Fleming Rutledge is Not Ashamed of the Gospel | Mockingbird

Easter is bonkers – Covenant

Great thoughts from Father Mark Clavier on the strangeness of Easter–and therefore our faith–and the fact that we can infer from this that God is neither boring, nor cares much for boring people:

As I said, God can’t abide bores. If you want a bore, find the devil. Now, there’s someone tedious beyond endurance, which C.S. Lewis portrays so brilliantly in Perelandra. Look at his temptations in the wilderness. Utterly unimaginative — even a toddler could come up with food, angels, and worldly power. No, the devil is a bore. He’s self-obsessed, and we all know what it’s like to be stuck in the company of the self-obsessed.

Source: Easter is bonkers – Covenant

Evangelism of the weird – Covenant

Good thoughts on the necessary weirdness of the Christian faith by Father Jonathan Mitchican:

This past Epiphany, I blessed chalk during the Mass. It was the first time our parish had engaged in this particular practice. Each person who attended was given a piece of chalk to take home with them, along with a set of instructions for scrawling the formula for a blessing over the doors of their homes: “20+C+M+B+17.” It was a strange thing to do. People in the neighborhood would later stare at our doors and wonder. It made no sense to the world. Many people thought it was weird.To that I say, good. It is good that Christians are weird. The weirder we can be, the better.We in the West live in a culture in which Christianity is increasingly alien. Despite the fact that much of our cultural understanding of things like human rights and social responsibility is still loosely based on a Judeo-Christian ethic, our societies in America and Europe have become increasingly secular and hostile to Christian faith. Our culture’s priests today are celebrities and scientists (and the celebrity scientist is the most prized figure of all — witness the recent controversy over Bill Nye’s new show). Our houses of worship are football stadiums. Our creeds are sound-bite versions of political platforms delivered over social media and cable news.

Source: Evangelism of the weird – Covenant

Seven Stanzas at Easter: John Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

John Updike, 1960.

From “Elements of Rite: A Handbook of Liturgical Style” – Aidan Kavanaugh

This confirms my biases, so I thought I’d share it:

Churches are not carpeted.

While rugs and runners may occasionally enhance liturgical place by adding festal color, carpeting in quantity wearies the eye and muffles sound. Even with a good electronic sound system, which is a rarity, a carpeted church often has all the acoustical vigor of an elevator. The ambience of a carpeted church, moreover, is too soft for the liturgy, which needs hardness, sonority, and a certain bracing discomfort much like the Gospel itself. Liturgical ambience must challenge, for one comes to the liturgy to transact the public business of death and life rather than to be tucked in with fables and featherpuffs. The liturgy challenges what Quentin Crisp calls the general notion of Christianity as a consolatory religion, as something nice Jesus of Nazareth could say to those who turn to him for comfort.

Source: Elements of Rite: A Handbook of Liturgical Style – Aidan Kavanaugh – Google Books

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