29 December 2007

For the time Being, W.H. Auden

hat tip to "Inward Outward" blog...

By W. H. Auden

Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes—
Some have got broken—and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Leftovers to do, warmed up, for the rest of the week—
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted—quite unsuccessfully—
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off. But, for the time being, here we all are,
Back in the moderate Aristotelian city
Of darning and the Eight-Fifteen, where Euclid’s geometry
And Newton’s mechanics would account for our experience,
And the kitchen table exists because I scrub it.
It seems to have shrunk during the holidays. The streets
Are much narrower than we remembered; we had forgotten
The office was as depressing as this. To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.
For the innocent children who whispered so excitedly
Outside the locked door where they knew the presents to be
Grew up when it opened. Now recollecting that moment
We can repress the joy, but the guilt remains conscious;
Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.
And craving the sensation but ignoring the cause,
We look round for something, no matter what, to inhibit
Our self-reflection, and the obvious thing for that purpose
Would be some great suffering. So, once we have met the Son,
We are tempted ever after to pray to the Father;
“Lead us into temptation and evil for our sake.”
They will come, all right, don’t worry; probably in a form
That we do not expect, and certainly with a force
More dreadful than we can imagine. In the meantime
There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair,
Irregular verbs to learn, the Time Being to redeem
From insignificance. The happy morning is over,
The night of agony still to come; the time is noon:
When the Spirit must practice his scales of rejoicing
Without even a hostile audience, and the Soul endure
A silence that is neither for nor against her faith
That God’s Will will be done, that, in spite of her prayers,
God will cheat no one, not even the world, of its triumph.

In 1942, British poet W.H. Auden completed the words to a Christmas oratorio he called For the Time Being. This extended poetic work tells the Christmas story by interweaving modern scenes and speeches into the ancient narrative. It can be found in W.H. Auden: Collected Poems, edited by Edward Mendelson.

27 December 2007

Benazir Bhutto

There is a lot of news coverage of the assasination of Benazir Bhutto - appropriately so, in my mind. I found the following article, posted here by Ruth Gledhill of the London Times to be particularly interesting and helpful as I try to understand her life and work more fully. Below the excerpt from Ruth Gledhill's article I've posted a bit from the New York Times obituary.

Clearly she was an incredible woman and we have much to learn from her life and work. I pray for Pakistan and those who knew and loved Benazir Bhutto.


Benazir: 'I am not afraid of death'

Benazir_001_3 'I am not afraid of death,' Benazir Bhutto told me when I interviewed her for the Daily Mail in November 1985. She was just 31 at the time. 'My religion teaches that I will rejoin my father and my brother when I die. It is the living who have to suffer the grief and the pain,' she said. In an attempt to pay tribute, although nothing I can say will ever be enough,

You can find the entire article HERE .


Benazir Bhutto, 54, Lived in Eye of Pakistan Storm

Douglas E. Curran/Agence France-Presse - Getty Images

Benazir Bhutto in front of a poster of her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, after she won first parliamentary elections in 1988. More Photos >

Published: December 28, 2007

Charismatic, striking and a canny political operator, Benazir Bhutto, 54, was reared amid the privileges of Pakistan’s aristocracy and the ordeals of its turbulent politics. Smart, ambitious and resilient, she endured her father’s execution and her own imprisonment at the hands of a military dictator to become the country’s — and the Muslim world’s — first female leader.

You can find the entire New York Times obituary HERE.

26 December 2007

Christmas in the Empire - by William Willimon

I wonder how many of us have ever played a role in a Christmas or Epiphany pageant. Was it an animal (for me, a donkey), a shepherd, one of the Magi, an angel, Mary, Joseph...? One of my favorite writers is William Willimon, who is now a United Methodist Bishop and used to be Dean of the Chapel at Duke University. He offers a challenging and helpful reflection about where we (as Christians in the United States) might place ourselves in the story of Christmas. I have posted an excerpt below, and you can read the rest HERE.

Christmas in the Empire, by William Willimon

On Christmas Eve we read a story about how a poor couple named Mary and Joseph were forced by imperial political decrees to pack up, to journey across the countryside (even though Mary was expecting a baby), to hold up in a cow stable, all as the result of Caesar’s enrollment. The Romans had the most power, and the biggest army of any Western country ever to conquer the Middle East. How are you going to keep these Jews in their place if you don’t enroll them? So Caesar Augustus decreed, and cruel King Herod enforced, the order that everybody had to go to the city of his or her ancestors and get registered. Mary and Joseph were Jews, under the heel of the vast Roman Empire, the greatest Empire the world has ever known, with the largest army of occupation — that is until us.

When I read the Christmas story, it is unfair for me to read myself into the places of Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, or even the wise men. This was their home. They are under the heel of the Empire, their lives jerked around by imperial decrees.

I live in Rome with Caesar Augustus, or maybe in Jerusalem up at the palace with that King Herod, lackey for the Roman overlords. I’d rather see myself as one of the relatives of Mary and Joseph. I wouldn’t mind being one of the shepherds, out working the night shift, surprised when the heavens filled with angels.

But that is not my place in the story. My place in the story is as a beneficiary of the Empire. I am well fixed. I don’t live up in the palace, but I live in a home which -- with its modern conveniences and security -- the majority of the world’s people would call a palace.

Read the rest HERE.

Christmas Messages...

From Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury:

Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas Sermon

Eleven days ago, the Church celebrated the memory of the sixteenth century Spanish saint, John of the Cross, Juan de Yepes – probably the greatest Christian mystical writer of the last thousand years, a man who worked not only for the reform and simplification of the monastic life of his time but also for the purification of the inner life of Christians from fantasy, self-indulgence and easy answers. Those who've heard of him will most likely associate him with the phrase that he introduced into Christian thinking about the hard times in discipleship – 'the dark night of the soul'. He is a ruthless analyst of the ways in which we prevent ourselves from opening up to the true joy that God wants to give us by settling for something less than the real thing and confusing the truth and grace of God with whatever makes us feel good or comfortable. He is a disturbing and difficult writer; not, you'd imagine, a man to go to for Christmas good cheer.

But it was St John who left us, in some of his poems, one of the most breathtakingly imaginative visions ever of the nature of Christmas joy, and who, in doing this, put his own analyses of the struggles and doubts of the life of prayer and witness firmly into an eternal context. He is recognised as one of the greatest poets in the Spanish language; and part of his genius is to use the rhythms and conventions of popular romantic poetry and folksong to convey the biblical story of the love affair between God and creation. Read it all HERE.

Pope Benedict's Christmas Message

"God Finds a Space, Even If It Means Entering Through the Stable"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's homily today at Christmas Midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

"The time came for Mary to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn" (Lk 2:6f.). These words touch our hearts every time we hear them. This was the moment that the angel had foretold at Nazareth: "you will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High" (Lk 1:31). This was the moment that Israel had been awaiting for centuries, through many dark hours - the moment that all mankind was somehow awaiting, in terms as yet ill-defined: when God would take care of us, when he would step outside his concealment, when the world would be saved and God would renew all things. Read it all HERE.

Archbishop of York, Christmas Sermon

25 December 2007

What are we saying when we say "OMG"?

Take a look at this Washington Post article "Exclamation or Expletive, OMG is Omnipresent"... "OMG," or "Oh My God" and let me know what you think? Is this taking the name of the Lord in vain, something to take seriously and offer our considered response, or should all of us "religious" folks just lighten up a whole lot? What do you think?

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 25, 2007; Page C01

"Oh my God!"

The expression, once considered taboo in polite conversation, has become as commonplace as "that's cool" or "see you later" in American parlance. The acronym, OMG, is nearly as ubiquitous. Room-chatters rely on it, so do text-messagers. The search engine Yahoo now uses OMG as the name of a gossip-alert service.

It's a sign of a free-speech society, right? Say what you want when you want. But for many, the omnipresent phrase sounds like a sinful swipe at the Almighty. Or at least another iceberg of disrespect cracking away from the icecap of civility.

Rosie Brecevic catches herself mid-sentence and says, instead, "Oh my gosh!"

In town for the holidays, the kindergarten teacher from Colorado Springs is taking a break from shopping at the Pentagon City mall. "You try to pick a better way to say it," she says, especially this time of year and "in front of the little children."

Working at Sophisticat Boutique on Kenilworth Avenue, Vera Abel, in red shawl and long gold skirt, says she can't imagine anyone ever uttering the phrase. As she moves merchandise from spot to spot, she invokes one of the Ten Commandments: "You shall not call the name of your Lord God in vain."

The Rev. Patrick T. Gray agrees with Brecevic and Abel. Curate of the Church of the Advent in Boston, Gray preached a sermon on the subject earlier this year. He exhorted his flock: "There's one thing, or type of thing, that you'll never hear me say. And for some reason, it still makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable when I hear someone else do it. If I learned anything in my Baptist upbringing, it's that you never, ever say, 'Oh my God!' in casual conversation." He finds other words.

But others, such as Brian Gibson, don't see a need to hold back. Playing with his son at Clemyjontri Park in Langley, Gibson says, "I always say 'Oh my God!' " He's aware that the phrase occasionally rubs people the wrong way. "Some people are more religious than others," he says.


It's impossible to muddle through a day without hearing someone -- even on the public airwaves -- call on a higher being for a lower purpose. Just recently:

Hannah Storm cried out, "Oh my God!" during her final telecast as a co-host of "The Early Show" on CBS.

Read the res of the article, HERE.

What does the Lord of the Rings have to say about Christmas?

Every year as the days grow shorter in the Northern Hemisphere and we move through the season of Advent, into Christmas and then into Epiphany, I have picked up J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and read these books as I await the light coming back to the world. Lately, I have also taken the time to watch the wonderful film depictions by Peter Jackson, and I find that these books (and movies) transport me to thinking even more deeply about the Incarnation, about light and dark in the world, and about our mission in the world to bring light, and hope and love to places of darkness and despair. Largely, our mission (to me) seems to be that of the simple hobbits, for, as Galadriel says, "even the smallest person can change the course of the future"...

I was glad to see that over at "Stand Firm" one of their bloggers also reflected upon the Fellowship of the Ring and Christmas (and found a very interesting, and perhaps significant coincidence about when the Fellowship set off from Rivendell)...

From "Stand Firm" blog...but well worth reading!


What The Lord of the Rings has to say about Christmas

It's getting on for dusk on Christmas Day now here in the U.S.

It was a cold grey day near the end of December. The East Wind was streaming through the bare branches of the trees, and seething in the dark pines on the hills. Ragged clouds were hurrying overhead, dark and low. As the cheerless shadows of the early evening began to fall the Company made ready to set out. They were to start at dusk, for Elrond counselled them to journey under cover of night as often as they could, until they were far from Rivendell.

'You should fear the many eyes of the servants of Sauron,' he said. 'I do not doubt that news of the discomfiture of the Riders has already reached him, and he will be filled with wrath. Soon now his spies on foot and wing will be abroad in the northern lands. Even of the sky above you must beware as you go on your way.'

The Company took little gear of war, for their hope was in secrecy not in battle. Aragorn had Anduril but no other weapon and he went forth clad only in rusty green and brown, as a ranger of the wilderness. Boromir had a long sword, in fashion like Anduril but of less lineage, and he bore also a shield and his war-horn.

'Loud and clear it sounds in the valleys of the hills,' he said, 'and then let all the foes of Gondor flee!' Putting it to his lips he blew a blast, and the echoes leapt from rock to rock, and all that heard that voice in Rivendell sprang to their feet.

'Slow should you be to wind that horn again, Boromir,' said Elrond, 'until you stand once more on the borders of your land, and dire need is on you.'

'Maybe,' said Boromir. 'But always I have let my horn cry at setting forth, and though thereafter we may walk in the shadows, I will not go forth as a thief in the night.'

Gimli the dwarf alone wore openly a short shirt of settl-rings, for dwarves make light of burdens; and in his belt was a broad-bladed axe. Legolas had a bow and a quiver, and at his belt a long white knife. The younger hobbits wore the swords that they had taken from the barrow; but Frodo took only Sting; and his mail-coat, as Bilbo wished, remained hidden. Gandalf bore his staff, but girt at his side was the elven-sword Glamdring, the mate of Orcrist that lay now upon the breast of Throin under the Lonely Mountain.

All were well furnished by Elrond with thick warm clothes, and they had jackets and cloaks lined with fur. Spare food and clothes and blankets and other needs were laden on a pony, none other than the poor beast that they had brought from Bree.

The stay in Rivendell had worked a great wonder of change on him: he was glossy and seemed to have the vigour of youth. It was Sam who had insisted on choosing him, declaring that Bill (as he called him) would pine, if he did not come.

'That animal can nearly talk,' he said, 'and would talk, if he stayed here much longer. He game me a look as plain as Mr. Pippin could speak it: if you don't let me go with you, Sam, I'll follow on my own.' So Bill was going as the beast of burden, yet he was the only member of the Company that did not seem depressed.

Their farewells had been said in the great hall by the fire, and they were only waiting now for Gandalf, who had not yet come out of the house. A gleam of firelight came from the open doors, and soft lights were glowing in many windows. Bilbo huddles in a cloak stood silent on the doorstep beside Frodo. Aragorn sat with his head bowed to his knees; only Elrond knew fully what this hour meant to him. The others could be seen as grey shapes in the darkness.

Sam was standing by the pony, sucking his teeth, and staring moodily into the gloom where the river roared stonily below; his desire for adventure was at its lowest ebb.

'Bill, my lad,' he said, 'you oughtn't to have took up with us. You could have stayed here and et the best hay till the new grass comes.' Bill swished his tail and said nothing.

Sam eased the pack on his shoulders, and went over anxiously in his mind all the things that he had stowed in it, wondering if he had forgotten anything: his chief treasure, his cooking gear; and the little box of salt that he always carried and refilled when he could; a good supply of pipe-weed (but not near enough, I'll warrant); flint and tinder; woolen hose; linen; various small belongings of the master's that Frodo had forgotten and sam had stowed to bring them out in triumph when they were called for. He went through them all.

'Rope!' he muttered. 'No rope!' And only last night you said to yourself: "Sam, what about a bit of rope? You'll want it, if you haven't got it." well, I'll want it. I can't get it now.'

At that moment Elrong came out with Gandalf, and he called the Company to him. 'Ths is my last word,' he said in a low voice. 'The Ring-bearer is setting out on the Quest of Mount Doom. on him alone is any charge laid; neither to cast away the Ring, nor to deliver it to any servant of the Enemy nor indeed to let any handle it, save members of the Company and the COuncil, and only then in gravest need. The others go with him as free companions, to help him on his way. You may tarry, or come back, or turn aside into other paths, as chance allows. The further you go, the less easy will it be to withdraw; yet no oath or bond is laid on you to go further than you will. For you do not yet know the strength of your hearts, and you cannot foresee what each may meet upon the road.'

'Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,' said Gimli.

'Maybe,' said Elrond, 'but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.'

'Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart,' said Gimli.

'Or break it,' said Elrond. 'Look not too far ahead! But go now with good hearts! Farewell, and may the blessing of Elves and Men and all Free Folk go with you. May the stars shine upon your faces!"

'Good . . . good luck!' cried Bilbo, stuttering with the cold. 'I don't suppose you will be able to keep a diray, Frodo my lad, but I shall expect a full account when you get back. And don't be too long! Farewell!'

Many others of Elrond's household stood in the shadows and watched them go, bidding them farewell with soft voices. There was no laughter, and no song or music. At last they turned away and faded silently into the dusk.

They crossed the bridge and wound slowly up the long steep paths that led out of the cloven vale of Rivendell; and they came at length to the high moor where the wind hissed through the heather. Then with one glance at the Last Homely House twinkling below them they strode away far into the night.

So what on earth does this have to do with Christmas?

In Appendix B, titled The Tale of Years, we have a number of chronologies of various histories, including the chronology of The Great Years, which includes the years of 3018 and 3019 -- the time of the great quest of Frodo the ring-bearer.

And according to this chronology, in the year of 3018, December 25, "The Company of the Ring leaves Rivendell at dusk."

An interesting way to look at Christmas Day, isn't it?

Canterbury England celebrates the Feast of St. Nicholas

Feast of St. Nicholas from Canterbury England...

...and reflections by the Archbishop of Canterbury...


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

23 December 2007

From Advent to the Nativity: On the Way to Bethlehem

As I reflect upon the very short transition from the 4th Sunday of Advent (today) to Christmas Eve (tomorrow), I am living in the midst of Expectation (Advent) as I make the transition to the Incarnation (Christmas). [These feelings have even deeper meaning as we are expecting a child to be born later this winter!]

I was so glad to find that a poet friend of mine who blogs over at poetproph, has posted one of her wonderful and rich poems on her blog.

She writes:
The poem was originally from my book, Annunciations: Poems out of Scripture (Edwin Mellen Poetry Press, 2003). Here is a slightly revised version

On the Way to Bethlehem

The timing could not be worse
But it’s the law. My husband has to go,
Even though I’m well along.
You are lively within me, moving and kicking me.
Your kicking hurts. It wakes me in the night,
Reminds me, as I walk
More and more laboriously,
You are coming soon.

I suppose we are safe enough
After all, it was an angel who came.
Looking back, I have never doubted that.
My husband has been tender, despite my disgrace.
He is sure, too, about the angel.
So I suppose we have no cause to worry.
It’s only my aching back
The sharp pains from your tiny feet,
The smell and press of crowds, and all the delays.

The only thing that matters now, is bearing you safely
Into this messy world
And now even that I cannot control.
I did what I could do, but it’s all left behind.
At home, we had a place prepared for you.
I longed to see you soon.
Then I hoped you would come later, after our return
But now I know for sure that you will be coming
To a place we did not know.

I catch my breath at a sudden squeeze of pain.
My body recognizes the agony,
Already begun.

poetproph: On the Way to Bethlehem

22 December 2007

Article on our ordination in Richmond Paper...

Va.'s Episcopal Diocese ordains 16 new priests
The infusion comes a year after 25 priests left with 15 splinter congregations

Saturday, Dec 22, 2007 - 12:08 AM


(Read the Richmond Times article here.)

RT. REV. PETER JAMES LEE Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

A year after 15 congregations left the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, taking 25 priests with them, the diocese is celebrating the ordination of 16 new priests.

The priests were ordained in three separate services this week. They made up the largest class to be ordained from the diocese since the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee became bishop in 1985. They will join the 450 priests in the Virginia diocese, which has had a net gain of 100 priests under Lee's leadership.

"We have a vibrant group of new priests in the last 48 hours," Lee said to applause from the congregation that packed St. James's Episcopal Church on West Franklin Street in Richmond for Tuesday night's ordination service for five priests.

Four other priests were ordained Sunday at Grace Church in Kilmarnock by the Rt. Rev. Shannon Sherwood Johnston. It was his first ordination since becoming bishop coadjutor in May. Seven more were ordained Monday at Church of the Good Shepherd in Burke by the Rt. Rev. David Colin Jones, suffragan bishop.

After the service, Lee said he felt very encouraged.

"It's especially encouraging since a number of these new priests are in their late 20s and early 30s. They bring a variety of life experiences and deep commitment. We have people from small churches. We have people in big churches. We have school chaplains," he said. "Working with newly ordained people is a highlight because they bring such energy."

At the same time that the diocese is celebrating the ordination of new priests, it is involved in a court fight over ownership of church property with 11 of 15 conservative congregations that pulled out of the denomination a year ago. The churches that left were upset about the national church's approval of an openly gay man for ordination as a bishop and other matters. A Fairfax County Circuit Court judge heard arguments in the case during a five-day trial in November but has not issued a ruling.

. . .

During Tuesday's service, the ordinands promised to obey their bishop and others with authority over them and affirmed their belief in the Old and New Testaments as the word of God. They also promised to love and serve the people with whom they would work, to preach and to declare God's forgiveness. They acknowledged a belief that they had been called by God to the priesthood.

Presbyterian layman E. Carson Brisson, associate professor of biblical languages, and associate dean for academic programs at Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School for Christian Education in North Richmond, gave the sermon. He had taught some of the ordinands in seminary and they invited him to preach, said Louise "Weezie" Blanchard, a newly ordained priest who is associate rector at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church on Grove Avenue.

Brisson likened the new priests to a Bedouin shepherd who took her 15 sheep one at a time across a rain-swollen creek. Once the flock was safely on the other side, the shepherd spoke to each one by name. Brisson quoted Jesus' words: "I am the good shepherd because my father wants me to love my sheep, and that's what I do."

For Whitney Bland Zimmerman, who was ordained Tuesday and is associate rector at St. James's, Brisson's message was clear. "You love first. Everything else is second," she said.

Being ordained makes Zimmerman feel "deeply engaged in the community in a way that is so intimate that it's hard to describe," she said. The service is a reminder to her that her role is about serving God, not about herself, she added.

. . .

This week's ordination was the second for the priests. They were ordained deacons last summer. Deacons serve six months to a year in servant ministry, meaning they keep the church informed about the needs of the world. That is a reminder to the priests that their ordination is rooted in servanthood.

Johnston, who will succeed Lee as diocesan bishop when Lee retires, attributed the size of the ordination class "to the sense of commitment to mission that is very much alive in Virginia."

He added: "The Episcopal Church is an exciting church, a church that has a lot of attractiveness to people because of its history. Young people are responding to that."

The church is also "very tolerant of broadly diverse points of view. . . . I think questions that are so pressing in our society are being addressed by the church in a way that cannot be addressed in other discourses," Johnston said. "I'm encountering and experiencing the church in Virginia as being extraordinarily vibrant."

19 December 2007


Many thanks and blessings on all those who have supported me to this point in my vocation; I feel blessed to be a priest!

The Rev. Peter M. Carey

17 December 2007

Priesthood (almost)

Tomorrow I will be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church. This official process has taken 7 years, but I first started feeling a sense of call to this vocation nearly 30 years ago when I was about 8 years old ~I will say more about that in a later post. There is much I can say about the process, and I hope to do so, but at this point my mind turns to prayer, that I might be given the strength, wisdom and patience to live out this calling.

A prayer I love from the ordination service sends me into some reflection this evening:

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look
favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred
mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry
out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world
see and know that things which were cast down are being
raised up, and things which had grown old are being made
new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection
by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus
Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity
of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

As I have moved through the last week towards ordination I have re-read Archbishop Michael Ramsey's book, The Christian Priest Today, which is an excellent book, and offers much food for thought.

Also, I re-watched one of my favorite movies, The Mission, starring Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons (and Daniel Berrigan!)...watch a clip below for a taste of it, and then rent it!

Thank you for your prayers, your presence tomorrow, and for all those who have supported me along the way!

Peace and Blessings,


The Mission (excerpt)

16 December 2007

Elf Yourself...

this application has been making its way around the 'net, but here is my version of "elf yourself"...do you recognize anyone...maybe we just need Santa to help us get along!

Click HERE for a bit of humor...


15 December 2007

Archbishop of Canterbury's Advent Message

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has issued an Advent message that has already provoked response from a wide variety of people in the Episcopal Church and others.

You can read the entire message HERE.

Rev. Tobias Haller has THIS to say in response to the letter, and I found his comments particularly helpful as I am striving to read, mark, and inwardly digest the Archbishop's prose.
Well, the Archbishop of Canterbury has issued his Advent letter, strangely enough a day after his Christmas greeting.* The form and content of the Advent letter perhaps make it clear why it was delayed: it is no brief
greeting but a rather detailed examination of the situation in which the Anglican Communion finds itself. For the Archbishop of Canterbury it represents something of a breakthrough in clarity, even though the situation it
describes remains rather fuzzy; it is rather like a very sharp photograph of a painting by Monet — perhaps of a
cathedral in the late afternoon sun.
You can read the rest HERE.

Bishop Epting, the Ecumenical Officer of the Episcopal Church offers his early reflections on this letter HERE. A brief excerpt from his blog entry can be seen here:
"As always, with Rowan Williams’ writing, I shall want to take some time to parse it more deeply instead of making some kind of knee jerk response (of which there will be, I am sure, many!). He has rightly summarized our current difficulties as being every bit as much about the scripture and ecclesiology (especially the ministry of bishops) as about Christian ethics and the presenting issue of the place of gay and lesbian persons in the Church."
Read the rest HERE

Stephen Bates, the British journalist who writes in the Guardian, and also the blog Thinking Anglicans, has some interesting reflections on this Advent letter, read it HERE. An excerpt is below:
Archbishop slams the splitters
Stephen Bates
Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the worldwide Anglican communion, yesterday condemned attempts by conservative church leaders to undermine the US Episcopal Church for its support for gay rights and effectively refused calls to disinvite American bishops from next year’s Lambeth Conference of all the church’s bishops. Read it all HERE.

13 December 2007

Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams' Christmas Message

Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams' Christmas words of wisdom

12th December 2007

from the Archbishop of Canterbury's website

The Archbishop gave the following message today on the Chris Evans show on BBC Radio 2:

“One of the main things that Christmas means to me is that God actually likes the company of human beings, God starts living a human life in the middle of the world when the life of Jesus begins, and that suggests that as the Bible says - God actually loves the world, he likes to be with us, he likes us to be with him. And what flows from that for Christians, is the sense that human beings are just colossally worthwhile. God thought they were worth spending a lifetime with and all that spills over into how we see all kinds of human beings; the ones we don’t like or the ones we don’t reckon very much, the ones we don’t take very seriously. But they are all to be taken very seriously, they are all to be loved. And so Christmas, as I see it, is the very beginning of that sense of huge human dignity in all the people around us, and that’s what I think we are celebrating, that is the most important thing. I hope everyone listening has a very happy Christmas.”

11 December 2007

Three years ago this week

Adam P. Goren, RIP

My friend Steve, over at "Draughting Theology" has a post today about our friend and seminary colleague, Adam Goren, who died three years ago this week. Adam was a wonderful person and while I knew him mostly on the Flag Football field, his passion for life and joyful presence was wonderful and contagious. It sounds sorta trivial and not that profound that I knew him mostly from running into each other on the line down on the Trotter Bowl at football practice. He was strong, a good leader, and loved being at seminary and was on his way to be a wonderful priest in the Episcopal Church. As I am about to be ordained to the priesthood next week, I remember Adam and am sad that the church and the world missed out on experiencing more of what might have been a rich and long ministry among us. It was a profoundly sad time three years ago as we mourned the loss of Adam and my heart is heavy still. One of his good friends posted this entry on a blog entry shortly after Adam's death, and it is a fitting tribute.
This isn't a picture of Adam, but we are playing with the kind of intensity that he modeled

Rowan Williams on "God the Creator"

For my Christian Theology class, we are looking at "God the Creator", and what this means in its fullest sense, and are using Rowan Williams' Book, Tokens of Trust, as well as Gunnar Urang's An Inquirer's Guide to Christian Believing to begin to explore God the Creator.

"Faith doesn't try and give you an alternative theory about the mechanics of the world; it invites you to take a step further, beyond the nuts and bolts, even beyond the Big Bang, to imagine an activity so unrestricted, so supremely itself, that it depends on nothing and is constantly pouring itself out so that the reality we know depends on it. Creation isn't a theory about how things started; as St. Thomas Aquinas said, it's a way of seeing everything in relation to God. Whatever you encounter is there because God chose that it should be there."

07 December 2007

Bible Briefs from VTS

Ever looking for a brief introduction and discussion of every book of the Bible?

Well, you are in luck because Virginia Theological Seminary and Forward Movement Publications have teamed up to present short tracts that introduce each book of the Bible. I like the title, Bible Briefs, for these are short introductions, but also should be supportive (like briefs of another kind?)...hmmmm, I wonder if they thought about the double meaning....?

Check out the downloadable tracts HERE, on the VTS website.

Peace be with you,

The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Biblische Ausbildung: Bible Briefs

05 December 2007

Adam Sandler...

Happy Happy Happy Happy ...

A Day late, but here is Adam Sandler...always cracks me up!

04 December 2007

Dalai Lama on limit-setting ...

Back in the fall of 1990, the Dalai Lama visited my hometown, Middlebury, Vermont, for a symposium on "Spirit and Nature," which featured leaders and scholars from Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim world views. The question of how religion and spirituality might aid (or block) an environmental ethic was an important one then, and (it could be argued) the issue is even more important today. I had the pleasure of going to all the sessions, while on a break from my senior year in college. There is a book that was produced with transcripts from all the presentations and there is also a video that was produced by Bill Moyers by the same name, "Spirit and Nature."

I was excited to find this short clip (1 minute) on YouTube of an interchange between Moyers and the Dalai Lama about where reverence for the environment (in this case a mosquito) might have boundaries. What I find most wonderful about this interchange is not only the Dalai Lama's rich practice of his 'belief,' but also his wonderful spirit of humor, lightness, and playfulness ... check it out HERE. (Oh, and whoever loaded it on YouTube called it "the Dalai Lama kills a mosquito," however, it seems that isn't quite accurate...but I don't want to spoil the punchline...)

Do check it out; priceless.

03 December 2007

SPACE, the Final Frontier...

No, I don't mean Star Trek - space...for surely that is the final frontier (I always wanted to be an astronaut, but couldn't hack the 3D motion sickness)...but "Space" in our lives also seems to be the final frontier. How can we make space? How can we take the time for rest? How can we make the time and the space for Sabbath, which is, afterall, one of the commandments!? (sorry to sound so biblical and religious...!).

Can we make space for the angels to come to us as Mary did?
Can we hear God's voice among the cacophany of voices?

Henri Nouwen has some comments on space and time and such that I found helpful as I am striving to live into a Holy Advent:

By Henri Nouwen

Empty space tends to create fear. As long as our minds, hearts and hands are occupied we can avoid confronting the painful questions, to which we never gave much attention and which we do not want to surface. “Being busy” has become a status symbol, and most people keep encouraging each other to keep their body and mind in constant motion. Occupation and not empty space is what most of us are looking for. When we are not occupied we become restless. We even become fearful when we do not know what we will do the next hour, the next day or the next year. Then occupation is called a blessing and emptiness a curse.

Many telephone conversations start with the words: “I know you are busy, but…” and we would confuse the speaker and even harm our reputation were we to say, “Oh no, I am completely free, today, tomorrow and the whole week.” Our client might well lose interest in one who has so little to do.

02 December 2007

Corey Harris: Blues at the crossroads

I graduated from Bates with blues musician Corey Harris and his is a career well-worth following. He was recently named a McArthur "Genius" Grant recipient. This is an article on Harris in the Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch from today. A excerpt is below, read the entire article here.

Blues at the crossroads
'Genius' grant recipient is knee-deep in a career that is certain to leave a legacy
Sunday, Dec 02, 2007 - 12:03 AM

CHARLOTTESVILLE Beneath the unassuming exterior of Corey Harris beats the heart of a musical genius.

At least the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation thinks so.

In September, the foundation chose Harris as one of 24 people nationwide to receive a $500,000 "genius" grant from its Fellows Program, distributed over five years and to be used in any capacity. Others on the list range from a spider silk biologist from California to a neuroroboticist from Seattle to a water-quality engineer at Virginia Tech.

Mention the accomplishment to Charlottesville-based blues and reggae musician Harris, though, and he merely smiles -- proud, yet very humble.

He will likely never know who discovered and nominated him -- it's a secret process. His initial $100,000 will arrive next month, he said, and he's already thinking about long-term uses for the money.

"There is some research that I want to do, specifically in Ethiopia and Guinea. They're both places I've been to, and my goal is to eventually have a small place where I can not only learn music for myself, but invite people over . . . not for me to teach them, but for them to have a place where they can stay and be taught from people from that area," Harris said on a recent afternoon, sitting against a window in his small, neat living room.

. . .

Music, family and traveling are the touchstones of Harris' life. He doesn't watch TV, mostly because it bores him ("I'd rather read a book or listen to music," he said), but also because of a schedule that keeps him racking up worldwide frequent-flier miles.

His music -- an organic amalgamation of Delta blues, roots and reggae -- is greatly inspired by his travels. Last week, Harris jetted to Australia for three days to participate in the Adelaide International Guitar Festival. The past couple of years have included jaunts to Morocco, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia. In 2008, Switzerland, France, Spain and Turkey are all on the itinerary of places to perform.

But his more exotic forays are the ones that truly shape his songs.

Harris, who was born in Colorado and educated at Bates College in Maine, made his first trip to Africa in 1990, when he spent three months in Cameroon, later returning there and to Equatorial Guinea the next year for 10 months. He then landed in Louisiana for a few years, where he taught middle school French (he's fluent) and English.

01 December 2007

James Cone & Rowan Williams videos

I spent last year reading three theologians for my thesis at Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS): James Cone, Rowan Williams, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I was so excited that the Black Liberation Theologian, James Cone, was interviewed by Bill Moyers on the "Bill Moyers Journal" last week. You can see the four sections of the interview here, here, here and here, check them out! His is an important voice for all of us in the church to hear.

In addition, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams recently gave an important comment on World AIDS Day that can be seen here.