Daily Archives: May 21, 2014
Any student who demands””and gets””emotional pampering from his university needs to pay a commensurate price in intellectual derision. College was once about preparing boys and girls to become men and women, not least through a process of desensitization to discomfiting ideas. Now it’s just a $240,000 extension of kindergarten. Maybe Oberlin can start offering courses in Sharing Is Caring. Students can read “The Gruffalo” with trigger warnings that it potentially stigmatizes people with hairy backs.
This is the bind you find yourselves in, Class of 2014: No society, not even one that cossets the young as much as ours does, can treat you as children forever. A central teaching of Genesis is that knowledge is purchased at the expense of innocence. A core teaching of the ancients is that personal dignity is obtained through habituation to virtue. And at least one basic teaching of true liberalism is that the essential right of free people is the right to offend, and an essential responsibility of free people is to learn how to cope with being offended.
Most people miss the point of the [Babbette’s Feast] film. It is not essentially about eating and food; it is about giving to others, it is about loving others, it is about reconciliation.
So it is with the Maundy Thursday meal that Jesus shared with his disciples. The food was important ”“ but the event was more significant than food. Jesus brought forward the Passover meal from the Friday to the day before. Jesus knew that this was truly his last meal. He would be dead by Passover. So his last supper, with his imperfect friends, was a Passover meal in which he was the lamb. He was giving himself away completely.
And like Babette, Jesus approached the meal as a servant. His is outer robe is taken off, Jesus vests himself with a towel and washes his disciples feet. They must have been completely overwhelmed and amazed, no one did that, except the lowliest servant, and Jesus was their leader. He did it when they were least expecting it, at the beginning of the meal, not when they entered the house as was the custom.
What he did was deliver a lecture about what his ministry meant, without saying a word.
Trinity School for Ministry is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Ridley Institute at St. Andrew’s Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC. With this new partnership, students can take classes towards a Master of Arts in Religion degree within a cohort located at the Ridley Institute. Courses will be taught by Trinity’s expert faculty both in person and online. The first class offered will be Introduction to Old Testament with Dr. Erika Moore.The class will begin with two days of teaching on August 28-30, 2014 and will continue throughout the fall. Registration is now open via Trinity’s website (www.tsm.edu/RidleyInstitute/register). The course is open to anyone who is interested, membership at St. Andrews is not required.
“We are thrilled by this opportunity to partner with the Ridley Institute” commented the Very. Rev. Dr. Justyn Terry, Trinity’s Dean and President. “Trinity has long desired to make theological education available to people where they are. This partnership will allow people in the Carolinas to have excellent, graduate-level teaching, combined with a community of learning, all without having to relocate.”
The women of Iran deserve to have freedom of choice about their chadors. It is a disgrace that their mullahs deny them a basic human freedom.
But almost no one in the gallery of gushing approval is raising her voice to defend Meriam Yehya Ibrahim who was condemned to death in Sudan on May 1. Meriam is eight months pregnant, but a court in Khartoum found her guilty of adultery and apostatising from Islam.
The case against her is an absurd travesty of justice by all standards except the standards of the fundamentalist regime which currently governs Sudan. Twenty-seven-year-old Meriam is the daughter of a Muslim father and a Ethiopian Coptic Orthodox mother. Meriam’s father deserted the family when she was a baby and she was raised as a Christian. She qualified as a doctor at University of Khartoum Medical School and married a Christian man from South Sudan, Daniel Wani. Mr Wani is an American citizen who lives in New Hampshire. They have a 20-month-old son and were hoping to emigrate to the US.
This is just wow–watch it all.
Christians believe that Jesus was immersed in the waters of the Jordan River by John the Baptist, who wore a cloak of camel’s hair and lived on locusts and honey in the desert wilderness.
But the Gospels are not precise about which side of the river the baptism took place on ”” the east bank or the west.
Although it might not matter much to a half-million annual visitors who come to the river for sightseeing or a renewal of faith, it matters very much to tourism officials in Israel and Jordan, who maintain dueling baptism sites, one smack-dab across from the other, with the shallow, narrow, muddy stream serving as international boundary.
As I recall””my memory is anything but faultless, but I’m relatively confident about this””the primary conclusion that I drew from this statement was that, as a member of the Church of England, Lewis was neither Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, nor Anglican. Which even now seems to me a reasonable conclusion, given the information I had and did not have at the time. How was I to know that “Anglican” was somehow related to “Church of England”? And if you had told me that Episcopalians””of whose existence I believe I had some nebulous awareness””were also Anglicans, I would have had no idea what that could possibly mean.
In any case, as a new inquirer into Christianity, I thought that the book seemed worth reading, and bought it, along with another one chosen with even less knowledge: a paperback commentary on Paul’s letter to the Romans by one F. F. Bruce. And on the choice of those two books hangs quite a tale, as far as the course of my own life is concerned.
I do not want to be careless in generalizing from my own experience in gauging Lewis’s religious position, but if, as I suspect, it is indeed relatively common, I want to suggest that one significant reason for Lewis’s widespread positive reception in the U.S. involves simple ignorance on the part of American audiences of what it means to be a layman of the Church of England. That is, Lewis did not fit into the known landscape of American religious life: the ordinary American Christian had to evaluate his work on the basis of what information was available””primarily that he was a scholar at a prestigious university and a bestselling author””and on the ideas themselves. And it may be that such readers were better positioned to hear what Lewis had to say than people, like Hugh Trevor-Roper and the readers of Sheed & Ward advertising and J. R. R. Tolkien, who for very different reasons believed that they had knowledge external to the writings that helped them to place and fix Lewis in a field of possibilities already known to them. This is what I mean by my title: “the uses of ignorance.”
A certain group of Catholic readers””let’s call them “Chesterton’s warrior children”””cannot imagine someone like Lewis writing the things he did and not converting to Catholicism at some point. And since they cannot grant the possibility that one can write like Lewis and be Protestant, they are forced to conjure up fanciful theories to explain Lewis’s Protestantism. The best example of this is the “Ulsterior motive” theory, which claims that Lewis never got over the deep-seated anti-Catholic sentiments of his youth. (These critics conveniently fail to note that his family never seemed to possess any strong anti-Catholic sentiments to begin with, given that their servants were Catholic and Lewis’s parents were not terribly committed to the more radical brands of Irish protestantism.) The warrior children manage to say this with a straight face, which is somewhat remarkable given that many of Lewis’s closest friends were, of course, Catholic.
Meanwhile, American evangelical readers tend to see Lewis as a proto-evangelical, a man utterly committed to classic creedal orthodoxy and utterly uninterested in delving any deeper than that. He is the mere Christian par excellance in their minds and represents a tacit endorsement of the evangelical tendency to avoid the thornier theological questions that usually prompt one to seek out a confessional identity of some sort.
Both readings, of course, miss the most basic fact of all about Lewis the Christian: CS Lewis was a conservative Anglican churchman. It’s perhaps fitting that amongst all the tributes, it the was the Anglican Alan Jacobs who made this point about Lewis’s identity while also drawing attention to its neglect amongst many of his readers.
Marina has it all. She has the job, she has the looks, and, depending on her mood, she has her choice of Frankie the acrobatic dancer, Harrison the revolutionary or Eric the actor.
Marina is using a service called Rent-A-Gent. Starting at $200 an hour, users can pick from a list of handsome, intelligent men listed on the service’s website to be their companion and either book online or call to reserve a “gent.” The men can serve as a date to an event, cook meals or even repair a sink.
But what they are not allowed to do is hook-up — no kissing, and definitely no sex, while on the job.
Marina ended up choosing Eric, whose Rent-A-Gent profile described him as someone who “loves the outdoors, culture and also active and social causes,” for a rock-climbing date — something she had never done before but always wanted to try.
The House also discussed the next steps in the process for conversations around Human Sexuality. In its discussion the House noted that the process of shared conversations needed to demonstrate primarily how the Church of England could model living together with issues of tension, where members took opposing views whilst remaining committed to one another as disciples of Jesus Christ – members of one church in both unity and diversity. The House agreed to a proposed process and timescale for the conversations with regional discussions taking place over the next two years. The House also authorised its Standing Committee to sign off the final arrangements and materials.
The House concluded its meeting with a discussion of the place of the Church of England and its Bishops in public debate. The House heard presentations which emphasised the need for the Church develop its confidence arising from its well-developed and sustained levels of service to communities across the country. The House also heard of the importance of sustaining the place of Bishops and faith based organisations in the public square at a time when confidence in the wider political process was being eroded and the place of faith based values was being challenged. The House heard how the work of Bishops and the wider church in its provision of foodbanks, partnerships with civic society, chairing economic and policy reviews, living wage and credit union work demonstrated the role of the Church of England at both a delivery and strategic level in areas of civic engagement, community cohesion and social justice.
Great Creator, source of mercy, we offer thanks for the imagination and conviction of thine evangelist, John Eliot, who brought both literacy and the Bible to the Algonquin people, and reshaped their communities into fellowships of Christ to serve thee and give thee praise; and we pray that we may so desire to share thy Good News with others that we labor for mutual understanding and trust; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Lord of all power and might, fill our lives this day with the joy of thy Word and the courage of thine apostles, that having caught the vision of thy Kingdom we may proclaim it with power and a glad heart, to the salvation of men’s and women’s souls and the creation of a better order more conformed to the pattern of thy Kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
–The Pastor’s Prayerbook
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
The bodies of at least 118 people have now been recovered from the sites of twin bombings in the central Nigerian city of Jos, the nation’s emergency management agency says.
The first blast was in a busy market, the second outside a nearby hospital.
No group has said it was behind the attack but Boko Haram militants have carried out a spate of recent bombings.
The Catholic Church teaches that all people are made in the image of God and that everyone has inherent dignity. No one should face unjust discrimination. But human experience, considerable social data, as well as our religious convictions, lead us to see clearly that children thrive best in a stable family grounded on the marital union of one man and one woman. Catholic opposition to same-sex marriage is not a statement about the worth of human beings who experience same-sex attraction, but a statement about the nature of marriage itself.
Pope Francis recently said, “The image of God is the married couple: the man and the woman; not only the man, not only the woman, but both of them together. This is the image of God: love, God’s covenant with us is represented in that covenant between man and woman. And this is very beautiful!” Marriage is beautiful indeed, and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference does not support this judge’s redefinition of this fundamental human institution. The PCC will further study the judge’s decision and is hopeful that an appeal will promptly be made.
It’s the perfect match: a major Orthodox cultural figure celebrated by a pre-eminent Orthodox institution. But the Arvo PÃ¤rt Project also opens up a more complicated issue: What does it mean to speak specifically about the religion of a composer whose music’s spirituality has been interpreted so broadly for so long?
“There’s this kind of universally accessible spirituality going on, and yet it evidently has some particular sources in the context that he locates his own prayer life,” said Peter Bouteneff, a professor of theology at the seminary. “It’s where he goes to church, it’s the texts that he reads, the ancient Greek fathers,” he added. “This is what feeds his soul, and therefore: Is there some connection between this universally perceived and universally accessible spirituality, and the particular foundations in Eastern Orthodoxy?”
It is a question that Mr. PÃ¤rt is not quite comfortable answering, though he will receive an honorary doctorate from the seminary. When asked about the religious content of his music, he responded: “I am actually writing music for myself, based on my own cognition. Because of that, it reflects values that are important to me.”
If you had been anywhere near the southern end of London Bridge… [recently], you might well have seen an unusual crowd of people emerging from one of the city’s oldest places of worship, Southwark (pronounced Suthark) Cathedral. Not just robed clerics from the Anglican and other churches and representatives of other faiths: there were also medical students of many ethnic and religious backgrounds and some of their teachers, plus a larger group of Londoners who were moved by the proceedings even if they did not very often frequent cathedrals.
What took place today was an annual service of thanksgiving, established in recent years to commemorate people who donate their bodies for medical teaching and research. For the families of some donors, it may be the first opportunity they have to acknowledge and celebrate their loved ones in a public setting. The service was in some ways quite conventional, with cosy old Anglican hymns such as “For all the saints, who from their labours rest…” But it also had some original features; medical students walked forward with flowers as a choir sang a “Funeral Ikos” or an anthem by the late Sir John Tavener, a religious composer who converted to Orthodox Christianity and was also interested in Sufism.
…the global stage hasn’t been a second-term refuge for President Obama; it’s been an arena of setbacks, crises and defeats. His foreign policy looked modestly successful when he was running for re-election. Now it stinks of failure.
Failure is a relative term, to be sure. His predecessor’s invasion of Iraq still looms as the largest American blunder of the post-Vietnam era. None of Obama’s difficulties have rivaled that debacle. And many of the sweeping conservative critiques of his foreign policy ”” that Obama has weakened America’s position in the world, that he’s too chary about using military force ”” lack perspective on how much damage the Iraq war did to American interests, and how many current problems can be traced back to errors made in 2003.
But the absence of an Iraq-scale fiasco is not identical to success, and history shouldn’t grade this president on a curve set by Donald Rumsfeld. Obama is responsible for the initiatives he’s pursued, the strategies he’s blessed and the priorities he’s set. And almost nothing on that list is working out.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.