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Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

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Climbing the ladder of God’s delight – Covenant

I’ve been blessed with many such moments. It’s one of the benefits of spending as much time as I do in the outdoors. Light always seems to be a vital element. My memory of Tryfan is matched by a stunning sunset in the Blue Ridge Mountains that painted the air beneath a carpet of clouds a fiery gold, but also by a walk through the English countryside when a ray of light pierced dark, foreboding clouds to pick out a small village from the surrounding gloom, and a spectacular morning spent sitting outside my tent watching the sun rise above Geirangerfjord. I’ve previously written about other encounters on Cadair Idris in Wales and on the Laugavegur Trail in Wales. To taste moments of such delight is the reason why I walk.

Delight: it’s an idea that has consumed me now for more than 10 years. My first encounter with natural delight — during a walk in Ivestor Gap in the Shining Rock Wilderness — changed my life. Because of that experience, I ended up leaving my parish ministry in North Carolina to move to the United Kingdom. Since then, I’ve gone out into wildernesses and the countryside with increasing regularity, spending as much time as I responsibly can soaking in the natural world and learning how to delight. If the good Lord should choose to save me, then he will have done so through delight.

Source: Climbing the ladder of God’s delight – Covenant

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

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

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

“…the various ways in which Christians try to reconcile the reality of evil to their faith in God ultimately tends to implicate God in evil to the point of evil being an aspect of God… If God could directly will evil, then God would in some sense be evil.” -David Bentley Hart

Episode 34 – David Bentley Hart: All Creation Afire as a Burning Bush

“What one does is what one is, and one’s acts are possibilities only because they’re resident in the nature one possesses.” –David Bentley Hart

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