29 February 2008

Karl Barth on talking to each other in the church

Posted on the "connexions" theology blog...quite a great one to check out!

The posting is HERE.

Karl Barth on talking to each other in the church

In Karl Barth and the Pietists: The Young Karl Barth’s Critique of Pietism and Its Response (2004), Eberhard Busch suggests that for Barth there are at least two “prerequisites for being able to talk to each other in the church of Christ, and these two are inextricably linked. First, such a dialogue between Christians, even if it has the form of an argument with each other, occurs in the brackets of the assumption that both are in the church of Christ. This gives the discussion its true seriousness but also marks the clear boundaries of the argument. Barth once said that the person we should drop completely could ‘only be an arch-heretic who is totally lost to the invisible church as well.’ But he adds, ‘We do not have this ability even in the case of Christians who are perhaps under strong suspicion.’…. This approach has some immediate specific consequences. As a Christian I can criticize other Christians only if I am in solidarity with them. Furthermore, when I criticize others I can distance myself from them not on a tone of harsh indignation but only in a tone of sad dismay at a threat that had somehow turned into a temptation for me as well. And finally, believing that Israel’s shepherd does not slumber or sleep even in the church, I have to keep myslef open to the possibility not only that the ‘favorite voices’ I like to hear testify to the truth of God in the church, but ‘that we need … totally unexpected voices even though these voices may at first be quite unwelcome.’

“The other prerequisite for talking to each other and having an argument with each other is this: Even when I boldly stand up for my understanding of the truth, I can do so only by paying attention to the boundary that is drawn by the fact that God’s truth and my understanding of it are always two completely different things. At the very moment I forget this border, it will shift, and the border between my understanding of God’s truth and other Christians’ understanding of it will become absolute. At that very moment the other person and I no longer stand before our common judge, rather I become the judge of the other.”

Kim Fabricius

Hans Kung and Karl Barth talking with each other...

New position for Michael Battle

SAN GABRIEL - The city's oldest Protestant church just received a new face.

The Rev. Michael Battle, a theologian, author and a colleague of legendary Archbishop Desmond Tutu, recently became head of the Episcopal Church of Our Savior in San Gabriel.

Battle is not your average priest.

Raised in North Carolina, Battle decided to pursue the priesthood at the age of 12. He later went on to receive a bachelor's degree in theology from Duke University, and master's degrees from both Princeton University and Yale University.

It was when he returned to Duke to pursue a doctorate degree that he first met Tutu.

An avid opponent of South Africa's system of apartheid, Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. Battle set out to delve into Tutu's theology.

"Nobody had yet approached him to do a dissertation," Battle recalled.

The two crossed paths during one of Tutu's visits to the United States, and he agreed to work with Battle for the dissertation.

From there, Battle was invited to travel to South Africa with Tutu, who later ordained him as a priest.

"You sort of wander into something, and suddenly all of these magical things occur," Battle said.

Read the rest HERE.

Stanley Hauerwas on the Church

In his book on Nonviolence and Bonhoeffer, Stanley Hauerwas reflects on the Church:

“That the church is often less than it is meant to be is but part of the witness the church must make to the world on behalf of the world; for nothing is more importent for the world than for Christians to learn to confess our sins. Accordingly, Christians can never assume we have “finally gotten it right,” exactly because we worship the One who comes often into our lives as the stranger we had not anticipated. For Christians, truth can never be a possession but rather must be received as a gift. Christian tradition rightly understood is one long investigation provoked by the questions that must be asked by a people who worship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Hauerwas, 25-26

Barbara Brown Taylor: When the well runs dry

I read this essay over at the Christian Century and found myself (again) challenged and stretched by Barbara Brown Taylor...elements of it remind me of the great book by the Liberation Theologian, Gustavo Gutierrez, "We drink from our own wells: The spiritual journey of a people." Lots to reflect upon here

I've posted an excerpt. You can read it all HERE.

When the well runs dry

There were 15 people in my house when the well ran dry. It was Thanksgiving, and everyone knew that they did not have to flush every time. Those who were spending the night had learned how to take navy showers: turn the water on long enough to get wet, turn it off, soap yourself, turn the water on long enough to rinse, and turn it off again. If the water ever gets really nice and hot, then you know that you have left it on too long.

Everyone knew this, but we still ran out of water. When I turned the kitchen tap to fill the coffee pot after Thanksgiving dinner, all that came out was a long airy gasp. "We're out of water!" I yelled. People looked at me uncomprehendingly. Surely that one little secret flush had not made the difference. Surely that one extra minute under the showerhead had not caused everyone to go without water for the rest of the afternoon. But it had.

Someone went to the grocery store for plastic jugs of water. Someone else helped Ed fetch water from the creek to flush the toilets and water the animals. By evening, those still in residence had learned how to brush their teeth with four tablespoons of water. When our guest Kathleen got ready to leave the next morning, she said, "I have never been so grateful for running water before. I never knew I could get by on so little. Why do I let it run and run at home?"

Read the rest HERE.

28 February 2008

"Leap Year" from the Oxford English Dictionary

Leap Year

A year having one day (now Feb. 29) more than the common year; a bissextile year. {dag}to make leap year of: (fig.) to pass over.
1387 TREVISA Higden (Rolls) IV. 199 {Th}at tyme Iulius amended {th}e kalender, and fonde {th}e cause of the lepe {ygh}ere [L. rationem bisexti invenit]. 1481 CAXTON Myrr. II. xxxi. 127 Bysexte or lepe yere, whiche in iiij yere falleth ones. 1562 J. HEYWOOD Prov. & Epigr. (1867) 207 The next leape yere after wedding was first made. 1606 W. BIRNIE Kirk-Buriall (1833) 38 In civil entries to heritage, if it be for the better, men can make leap-yeare of their father and seeke farther uppe. 1704 HEARNE Duct. Hist. (1714) I. 3 That Year was called the Bissextile; and by us Leap-Year because one day of the Week is leaped over in the Observation of the Festivals. 1834 Nat. Philos., Astron. i. 44/1 (U.K.S.) The years 1600, 2000, 2400, would be leap years.

Please Nominate Postings: Biblical Studies Carnival 27

Please Nominate Postings: Biblical Studies Carnival 27

Blog Carnival 27
The upcoming Carnival of Bible Blogs will be hosted shortly on Blue Cord, Dr. Kevin Wilson's blog. Please given Kevin any and all nominations, by clicking here.

Biblische Ausbildung: Please Nominate Postings: Biblical Studies Carnival 27

27 February 2008

This had me cracking up - Can you picture Archbishop Rowan singing "Moonshadow"?

Another hat-tip goes to Andrew Plus...do check out Andrew's blog HERE.

This was just too good!

Morning Has Broken on Youtube

Stanley Hauerwas on Youtube (!) on Bonhoeffer....

You have got to love Youtube! Awesome.

Stan the Man speaking at UC Berkeley about Dietrich Bonhoeffer....

The Emerging Church...Post 3 ... The Search for a Definition

I have been intrigued by what is known as "The Emerging Church" for several years now, and my use of quotation marks is by no means an act of derision, I have a lot of respect for what I know of The Emerging Church, as it is described by Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, and others that speak from within the Emerging Church. I also am intrigued by and highly respect Jim Wallis of Sojourners and people such as Phyllis Tickle and Diana Butler Bass who are, perhaps, not "within" the Emerging Church, but have some respect for it and a good sense of it.

As my ordained ministry begins, I am pretty well entrenched within an institutional church (The Episcopal Church) and within an institution (St. Catherine's School) that falls within the governance of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. So, I am, I guess a "part of the system." As a long-time teacher, I tend to like some sense of order, and as a nearly life-long Episcopalian I tend to appreciate the benefits of tradition, hierarchy, and an ordered ecclesiology. However, I am fully aware that the way we've been "doing" church does not necessarily reach the majority of people today, and I am fully aware that our Episcopal Churches are (generally) not doing a good job of attracting and retaining members (otherwise known as Mission and Evangelism).

In seminary, my friend Steve was one of the folks who introduced me to The Emerging Church, and a course I took with Diana Butler Bass more fully introduced me to some of the aspects of The Emerging Church and also introduced me to the idea of the "Practicing Congregation" as one way to help move a congregation to deeper faith and community.

My task here, in the third post on The Emerging Church is to begin to find a way to define what The Emerging Church is, that is, to seek a definition. Part of the reason for this effort is because I have heard from several people their resistance to what they feel is "The Emerging Church" because it is "too conservative," or "too liberal," or "without a tradition," or "evangelical" (as if that was a bad thing...)

(The two other posts here on The Emerging Church were videos by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams on the Emerging Church, here and here)

As a starting point, I offer this introduction from the Wikipedia page on The Emerging Church as (perhaps) a beginning working definition. I hope to offer other definitions, and then to consider how The Emerging Church might interact with/intersect with The Episcopal Church, in which I am a priest. Already, there is an effort within The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion to find a connection with the Emerging Church, and a group of people call themselves "Anglimergent" - and I recommend checking out their network which you can find HERE.

From Wikipedia:

The emerging church (also known as the emerging church movement) is a controversial 21st-century Protestant Christian movement whose participants seek to engage postmodern people, especially the unchurched and post-churched.

"Emerging Christians" deconstruct and reconstruct Christian beliefs, certain culture norms, and methods in ways which will accommodate postmodern culture. This accommodation is found largely in this movement's embrace of postmodernism's postfoundational epistemology, and pluralistic approach to religion and spirituality. Proponents of this movement call it a "conversation" to emphasize its developing and decentralized nature as well as its emphasis on interfaith dialog rather than verbal evangelism. Some of the predominantly young participants in this movement prefer narrative presentations drawn from the biblical narratives over propositional, biblicist exposition.

Emerging church methodology includes frequent use of new technologies such as multimedia and the Internet. Emergent blogs are quite numerous, as are blogs of their opponents. They have not neglected more traditional means of communicating their ideas, however. Many emergent books and articles have been written, and leaders in the movement often conduct seminars. Parallel books, articles and seminars have been generated in opposition to the movement.

Critics of the movement are found mostly in some academic and evangelical circles. Some academics critique the movement for being without legitimate theological, historical and philosophical roots. Other academics like John Franke, Scot McKnight, F. LeRon Shults and the now deceased Stan Grenz have been vocal supporters of the movement. Conservative, evangelical theologians and pastors believe the movement's embrace of a postmodernist philosophy leads to unorthodox theology, relativism, antinomianism, universalism, and syncretism. These critics frequently equate emerging church theology with the liberal theology that has historically been at odds with Christian fundamentalism and Evangelicalism. Other evangelical leaders embrace the missiological insights of the movement.

Read the entire entry HERE.

So, what is YOUR understanding of THE EMERGING CHURCH?

Yet ANOTHER Covenant?

Dean Ian Markham of Virginia Theological Seminary mentions on his daily "Dean's Commentary" today that the VTS Student Executive Council is proposing a Covenant for Communication for the VTS community to abide by as they engage with one another and work to have dialogue. I applaud this effort, and Dean Markham's support of it. I found VTS to be a place where I learned a good deal about how to listen to and be in communion with those with whom I disagree in some key areas and while I was there, it became a project of several of us to strive to be in communion with one another while also affirming the unique aspects of our positions on several issues. By no means was it some utopian paradise of divergent views, but at least there was a divergence of views on several key issues (unlike some communities - parishes, seminaries), and I think that we all benefited from the variety of persons in that place.

Finding a way to come together at the Altar and at the Foot of the Cross seems to me to be the call of all Christians, it is not easy, and effective communication and an understanding that Christ binds and connects us one to another are vitally important.

I applaud Dean Markham, Student Body President Robin Gulick, the Executive Council and the student body - well done ...

You can read Dean Markham's post below:


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

At a Student Body meeting today, the Student Executive Council will be presenting a Covenant for Communication at Virginia Theological Seminary. Partly inspired by the hard work of the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, this is the student response to the need to commit to disagreeing with others in the Church in ways that are grounded in our core theological principles.

Robin Gulick explained to the community the vision that created this covenant statement: “Conversations at VTS and ongoing conversations in the Episcopal Church (especially as they occurred online) prompted the Executive Council to address the need for healthy communication in our community. The Executive Council decided to draft a covenant to guide our communication. We believe that a community filled with Christ’s love is in large part based on Christian principles of communication as guided by our Baptismal Covenant in the Book of Common Prayer. In order to foster a community based on mutual love and respect, we pledge ourselves to follow the principles set forth in the Covenant for Communication. We commit ourselves to these principles in order to set an example for the VTS community, and we call upon the students, staff, and faculty of VTS to commit themselves to this covenant as well. We do this so that we, together, might make Virginia Theological Seminary a place where all people can feel part of a community that truly shares the love of Christ.”

We thank the Executive Council for the hard work. And as Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary, I commit myself to this covenant. This world is not good at handling disagreement; and we need to make sure that we witness to Gospel values and live constructively disagreement.

The Very Rev Ian Markham
Dean and President

Emerging Church Post #2 ... (Rowan Williams on Emerging Church 2)

The Emerging Church...post #1 (Rowan Williams on the Emerging Church)

25 February 2008

"There was never a golden age..." quote from Dr. A. Katherine Grieb

A year ago, I was at seminary at VTS (Virginia Theological Seminary) and taking a wonderful seminar on Paul's Letter to the Galatians, taught by the Rev. Dr. Katherine Grieb. It was a challenging and a tremendously outstanding class and I learned an immense amount from Dr. Grieb. She is a great scholar, and a compassionate and caring person. She was an attorney before she became a priest, and has a deep knowledge of theology and the scriptures, she brings all this experience to bear in her work in the Anglican Communion. She recently spoke at the Diocesan Convention in Kentucky and spoke about the current state of affairs in the Anglican Communion ... a quote to note is this helpful reminder (that MANY of us overlook):

"There never was a golden age when everybody in the church agreed about everything."
-Rev. Dr. A. Katherine Grieb

I've also posted the entire article (from Episcope) below:

Church undergoes a 'family argument'

Episcopalian priest urges reconciliation
By Peter Smith
Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal
February 24, 2008

Kentucky Episcopalians heard a combination pep talk and Bible study yesterday from one of the leaders in efforts to keep the fragile Anglican Communion together despite what seem irreconcilable differences over sexuality and theology.

The Rev. Katherine Grieb told the annual meeting of the Diocese of Kentucky that divisions in the church are as old as the church itself, and Bible passages offer differing models on whether to split or stay together despite differences.

"We're having a family argument," said Grieb, a Virginia Theological Seminary biblical scholar and a member of a team drafting a "covenant" to hold together the Anglican Communion, which consists of the Episcopal Church and other national churches descended from the Church of England.

"There never was a golden age when everybody in the church agreed about everything," she said at the gathering at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in southwestern Jefferson County.

It’s all here …and here's a link to Grieb's excellent address to the House of Bishops last March--worth a re-read.

Article on Chimayo in the New York Times

The name of this blog, Santos Woodcarving Popsicles, came from a photo that I took in Chimayo, New Mexico in front of a shop that advertised selling these three items. The town is also famous for the shrine there, and for the healing properties of the dirt in the shrine .... an interesting article in the New York Times this week on Chimayo:

An excerpt below, read it all HERE...

February 20, 2008
Chimayo Journal

A Pastor Begs to Differ With Flock on Miracles

CHIMAYO, N.M. — “It’s not the dirt that makes the miracles!” the Rev. Casimiro Roca said with exasperation.

True, discarded crutches line a wall inside the Santuario de Chimayo, a small adobe church in this village of northern New Mexico known as the Lourdes of America.

True, tens of thousands of pilgrims walk eight miles or more to the shrine on Good Friday, some bearing heavy crosses and others approaching on their knees. Scores of people visit every day the rest of the year, many hoping to cure diseases or disabilities with prayer, holy water and, most famously, the healing dirt, which visitors collect from a hole in the floor inside the church.

Now the disparagement of the dirt was jarring, coming from Father Roca, who has devoted much of his life to creating the present-day shrine and is its revered eminence. At 89, he wears a beret that reveals his Barcelona origins.

Some 50 years ago, he took over the abandoned, nearly ruined site of the church, which was first constructed in 1816. He oversaw the rebuilding of the sanctuary — holy hole included — into the spotless place it is today, with bright paintings and statues inside and giant cottonwoods out back that he planted as saplings. It has become a stop for tour buses taking the scenic route to Taos as well as for local residents in search of solace or cures, and was declared a national landmark in 1970. Visitors bring their own baggies or containers or can buy little plastic containers marked “blessed dirt” at the church’s gift shop.

Read the rest HERE...

Cool Lenten Video

Hat tip goes to Andrew Plus:

24 February 2008

Thanksgiving and the Oscars

I have not always been a total fan of the Oscars. However, I have found that in the last few years I have really gotten into watching the Oscars - as I am right now. I once had a good friend who just LOVED the Oscars and always watched them with her mom - I coud not get into it at the time, but I have become a recent convert to joining in the spectacle.

I find them to be public liturgy, and they are really an amazing presentation. What I find most inspiring about the Oscars is the "I want to thank the members of the Academy..." The reason is that I think that these offerings are drenched with emotion, and also exhibit that sensibility that we seem to see all too rarely: Thanksgiving.

All too often, the really wonderful ones seem to be cut off by that infernal music -- I know we can't have the Oscars go on all night, but couldn't we offer a few more minutes to gratitude, to thanksgiving?

Offering thanksgiving for all that we are, and all that we have is, and can be, prayer. What if we each thought through what our "Oscar Speech" would be? Who would we thank, how would we thank them, how emotional would we become? And then, I wonder if we all should thank those people, if we should publicly thank those who have meant so much to us.

When I offer youth services, sometimes we ask the kids to come up with the "Asking" (petition) prayers and the "Thanking" prayers, and the kids offer up the earthy, real, and deep prayers emerging from their lives -- and they offer up wonderful prayers of thankgsgiving.

I love hearing the words of thanksgiving at the Oscars, and I think we would all do well to actually "Thank the Academy, and ....." more often.

22 February 2008

My first column at Episcopal Cafe

The folks over at Episcopal Cafe have asked me to write a monthly column for their blog. My first piece was posted today, you can read it HERE.


By Peter M. Carey

“It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
and I feel fine….(time I had some time alone).”

REM, It’s the End of the World as We Know It

As I enter this Lent, the pounding beat and the prophetic words of the REM song “It’s the end of the world as we know it” run through my mind. I yearn to cultivate a Holy Lent, but there is much to do, and many to-do lists seem to stand in the way. However, listening carefully to the song, one hears the reply, “and I feel fine” and then, very quietly, toward the end of the song, “time I had some time alone.” There is a hope in the song that even in the midst of a busy life that feels like the end of the world, one can find solace; perhaps finding a bit of time alone is a key to unlock the door to a Holy Lent.

And then I say, “If only I could get through all this “stuff,” then I could have a Holy Lent! I could pray more, read more, take a class, go to church more, be more holy, give up caffeine and sweets, and meditate more. If only I could get through my to-do list, if only I had not so many commitments, maybe I could lead a Holy Lent!”

I wonder, if we are already feeling overwhelmed with projects, could Lent be a time when we just try to do one thing?

I have used this concept of “one thing” in my life as a teacher and coach and found it to work pretty well when people are feeling overwhelmed. In the midst of coaching a junior varsity soccer team after a terrible first half, when we were already down 3-0, I asked my team to agree to one thing that we would do better in the second half. I asked them to think of only one thing to concentrate on, such as communication, or movement off the ball, or pushing hard forward on the counter-attack. One thing—we had something to find unity around, and we had a goal on which to concentrate as we crawled out of a deep hole. In that case, we found a way to struggle back into the game, which ended in a tie that felt like a Super Bowl victory.

For this Lent, for those of us who are in the midst of multi-tasking, email flooding, blackberry buzzing, children running, bosses calling, grocery shopping, doctor visiting, there may be just one thing that we can do.

For that one thing, I would suggest “attention”.

That one thing is to strive to be attentive to the now and the here of our lives. If we have the courage to be where we are, we can cultivate awareness, we can cultivate attention. Attention to what, one might ask. Well I would make the claim that when we cultivate attention, when we turn aside from our to-do lists, from our cell phones, from our multitasking, even for a moment or two, several times a day, we are offered the gift of knowing God’s presence. God does not “come to us” only in times of calm reflection, but is ever present, what theologians call “prevenient grace.” God is with us always, if only we have eyes to see and ears to hear.

I take wisdom from the words of the deranged prophet figure in the 1984 film, The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai across the 8th Dimension: “Wherever you go, there you are.” And, so, here we are. It is here and now that God breaks into our lives, not in some other place or time. It is here that God is, not only in mountaintop experiences, not only when we go away on retreat, not only in the midst of nature, not only in the midst of a concert hall, not only in the exhilarating rush of endorphins when we exercise. One of the Desert Fathers said: “Your cell will teach you all you need to know.” This does not mean that we all have to become monks. For the monk, the cell was his everyday place; it was his place of work. This going to one’s cell was not a retreat from the work of the monk, but was encouragement for the monk to go to his place, to seek God in the everyday place.

Rowan Williams claims in his book, The Trial of Christ, that “hardest place to be is where we are,” for if we want to turn our selves toward God, we must first work to be fully present, which can be hard when our minds leap forward and back, and we multitask ourselves away from where we sit. Cultivating attention may offer us a deeper sense of beauty, if we have eyes to see. As Buddhist master, Thich Nhat Hahn claims, “The present moment is a beautiful moment.” And if we truly embraced the present moment, we might, indeed see the beauty of this place, and even see God.

So in the midst of the messiness of raising three children under 5, God is there. In the balancing of the checkbook, God is there. In the waiting room of the hospital, God is there. In the boring meeting, God is there. In the frustrating traffic jam, God is there. Lent might be a time when even in the rush of our appointments and commuting and to do lists we can be attentive to the place where we are, and attentive to God.

As we cultivate a greater sense of attention, we might experience frustration, we might have to acknowledge our fears and our anxieties, we might be confronted with thoughts of the past, and our worries for the future. However, taking the time to turn and cultivate attention may give us eyes to see the beauty of nature, the wondrous diversity of people, and God’s presence even in those interruptions.

To be where we are, in the present moment, means that we cannot deny the cries of the outcast, that we cannot ignore economic injustices, that we cannot ignore the sin of racism that not only surrounds us but is also within us. And it is our practices of being where we are, and in the present moment, that move us to take on the challenge of the brokenness and sinfulness of the world, as it is, in this place, in our own time. We are empowered by Jesus Christ to be agents of reconciliation, to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. We are given the strength to be reconciled with each other, to seek peace.

However, before we take on all of these projects, we can claim the gift of attention to the here and the now of our lives. God is with us always, so we do not need to recover some past glory, or hope for some future rest. God is with us where we are, so enormous journeys are not needed to know God in our lives. In the messiness of the stuff of our lives, in the feeling of “the end of the world as we know it,” we can find “some time alone,” and cultivate attention to this moment, to this place, for this is a beautiful time and place. Do we have eyes to see it?

The Rev. Peter M. Carey is the school chaplain at St. Catherine's School for girls in Richmond, Virginia and is also on the clergy staff at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Richmond. He blogs at Santos Woodcarving Popsicles.

Hauerwas on Holiness

Some words from Stanley Hauerwas from his wonderful book on Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“Christians are not called to be heroes or shoppers. We are called to be holy. We do not think that holiness is an individual achievement, but rather a set of practices to sustain a people who refuse to have their lives determined by the fear and denial of death. We believe that by so living we offer our non-Christian brothers and sisters an alternative to all politics based on the denial of death. Christians are acutely aware that we seldom are faithful to the gifts God has given us, but we hope the confession of our sins is a sign of hope in a world without hope. This means that pacifists do have a response to September 11, 2001. Our response is to continue living in a manner that witnesses to our belief that the world was not changed on September 11, 2001. The world was changed during the celebration of a Passover in 33 A.D.”

The Anglican Communion Matters - Commentary by Dean Markham

Each day I read the commentary written by the Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary, today, I appreciated his brief and apt comment about the Anglican Communion and his assertion that it does matter...read the rest below, and read his commentary each day HERE.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Make no mistake about it, the Anglican Communion matters. My ordination as an Episcopal priest is recognized by 80 million Anglicans worldwide – the third largest group in Christendom (after the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox churches). Many members of the Episcopal church settle in our tradition having come from the West Indies and else where in the Communion: these people want to continue to be in the same church as their siblings. In addition, Christians are exhorted by our Lord to be united – and it is not our place to add to the division. And it is both a privilege and a challenge to live in a global world, required to live with the diversity of culture: in this respect we anticipate the heavenly kingdom.

So it is a great honor to have on the campus today the most senior officer in the Anglican Communion - the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon. He is the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office in London. Born and educated in Ireland, he became a priest in 1982. He was the Director of the Irish School of Ecumenics in 1999 and has an academic interest in medical ethics.

We are delighted that Canon Kearon and his wife staying with us on the campus. He will be offering today a ‘Fridays at the Seminary’ exploration of the Anglican Communion. And last night he participated in a student panel. We are grateful for his willingness to visit and hope and trust that this is the first of many visits to Virginia Theological Seminary.

The Very Rev Ian Markham
Dean and President

21 February 2008

New Blog: Seven Whole Days

My friend (of a friend) and fellow Anglican Priest Blogger, Scott, has a new blog that he's called "Seven Whole Days" which was taken from a wonderful George Herbert quote: "Seven whole days, not one in seven, I will praise thee." Scott is a voracious reader and is an excellent writer. Not only that, he is a prolific poster of blog entries, and I have enjoyed his insight, wit, and analysis of many of the goings-on in our church these days. Click HERE to check out "Seven Whole Days"...it is well worth a look!

Some of his recent posts are:

"In the case of an emergency notify an Episcopal priest"

"Did Jesus use machines"

and, "Emergent Superheroes"

In addition, he has a picture of an early bishop of Vermont (where I grew up), who later became Presiding Bishop and some unfortunate statements that Bishop Hopkins made in support of slavery - unfortunate, but important to read and consider the ways that the Bible has been misused to justify all kinds of oppression.

Secondly, Scott took a wonderful picture of my fellow VTS graduate, Archbishop Peter Akinola in Dar Es Salaam, who is blocking his face with his prayer book, or Bible. A very cool picture.

Cookie Monster interview on NPR

I just loved the interview with Cookie Monster on National Public Radio last week ... I am a big fan of Cookie Monster..., my only quibble is that now, the "new and improved," "nutritionally correct" Cookie Monster eats all kids of good food, not just cookies ... some of that 1970's aura around the "All Cookies - Cookie Monster" is gone, but I guess we all probably need to eat fewer cookies.

The Cookie Monster Rocks!

Check out the interview HERE or by clicking on the image above.

Sermon: Who were you meant to be?

Note, I borrowed the idea for the middle part of this sermon from an article written on the “Theolog” blog which is a blog sponsored by the Christian Century magazine. The author was Jonathan Marlowe. I utilized Jonathan Marlowe’s letter reflecting on being 39 as a model for my own. Jonathan Marlowe is pastor of Shiloh United Methodist Church in Granite Quarry, North Carolina.

The Rev. Peter M. Carey
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
27 January 2008

Isaiah 9: 1 – 4; PSALM 27: 1, 4 – 9; 1 Corinthians 1: 10 – 18; Matthew 4: 12 - 23

Matt 4:12

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 He left Nazareth and made his home in Caper'naum by the sea, in the territory of Zeb'ulun and Naph'tali, 14 so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isai'ah might be fulfilled:
15 "Land of Zeb'ulun,
land of Naph'tali,
on the road by the sea, across the
Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles--
16 the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned."
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."
18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea--for they were fishermen.
19 And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people."
20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
21 As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zeb'edee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zeb'edee, mending their nets, and he called them.
22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
23 Jesus went throughout
, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

Jesus had heard the news that his cousin John had been arrested, and so he withdrew to Galilee. Galilee was made up mostly of non-Jews in the city of Capernaum. Capernaum was a thriving Roman port city, a place of great diversity of goods, foods, peoples, and ideas. A rich place to begin a ministry; and perhaps a busy enough place to get some needed distance from those who arrested John. This move to Galilee also fulfilled the prophesy from Isaiah, “on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” Those hearing this story in the early church would see Jesus as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy, and would perhaps be puzzled a bit by Jesus’ move to the land of the Galileeans, mostly non-Jews (pagans) – those who the rabbis often argued about-would they receive the promise of the covenant?

In this area of commerce and industry, of diversity of opinion and ideas, of ships and merchants, of tax collectors and Roman legions Jesus begins his great invitation to those who would be his disciples. However, as he begins this work, he repeats the message that probably got John into trouble back in Jerusalem, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Repentance had a deep meaning for those who spoke Hebrew and Greek, and those Jews and Gentiles listening would hear these words and would hear Jesus saying: “change your mind,” “turn yourself around,” “get yourself oriented in the right direction,” “get oriented in the right direction so that you can have reconciliation with God!” This new orientation is the right response to the kingdom having “come near.”

In this port city of Capernaum, Jesus had been around boats enough to learn that one’s orientation is key. Setting one’s compass and one’s rudder is so important. A minor adjustment at the start of the journey could cause a person to end up in a radically different place. Just think how radical the directional change Jesus was proclaiming. “Turn yourself around!” Metanoia – Turn yourself around to God’s way.

With these challenging and radical words on his lips, Jesus encounters these fishermen. We have heard this story before and perhaps these words have lost some meaning. However, this encounter with these fishermen was unexpected and miraculous. Unexpected, because rabbis did not seek out students, neither did Greek teachers, philosophers, or most holy people of that time. Rabbis were approached by would-be students. By contrast, Jesus seeks followers, and calls them to follow him. While he is a Rabbi in many ways, he encompasses far more than just a Rabbi. Jesus comes near to these fishermen who are working. He comes near and proclaims that the Kingdom of God has come near. This encounter is miraculous because, well, he says “I will make you fish for people,” and they immediately follow him. We are met here with Jesus first miracle. His command, his word causes the fishermen to turn from their work, and follow. Jesus spoke a word, and then it was so. Not unlike the Creator in Genesis 1 who created by speaking, and it was so. Jesus is seen as far more than a mere holy man. When he comes near, the kingdom of God comes near, and when he speaks a word, people follow.

And, so we are here, perhaps we are working mending our nets, or throwing our nets out in the sea. Perhaps we are writing legal briefs, checking our Blackberrys, picking up our kids from school, grocery shopping, attending a seemingly never-ending meeting. I hear about the immediacy of the response of these people and I am a bit scared. Am I ready to leave it all behind? Is this even responsible? I may not even have the courage to step away even a bit, to follow the charismatic leader in a cause for justice. And I think of those people in every age who step out of their own circumstances, who re-orient themselves to God, and to their neighbors.

I was thinking this week of the example of those who worked to ensure voting rights for African Americans in the ‘60s. I was thinking of Martin Luther King and Mohandas Gandhi. I was thinking of Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges who worked to integrate a bus system and a school system. I think also of Jonathan Daniels who was an Episcopal seminarian from EDS who picked up his life in order to join the Freedom Rides in the 1960s. Jonathan Daniels worked for justice, and was martyred in the process. These seem to be steep bars to cross – tough examples for me, and perhaps for you as well. Looking through the long lens of history, it seems like it was easier back in Galilee. And, so I wonder about how I measure up….?

Martin Luther King was 39 years old when he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. This June, I will turn 39 years old. What have I done with my life, compared with what Martin Luther King did with his?

Well, not much. But that’s OK.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams once said that when he gets to heaven, God will not ask him why he was not Martin Luther King; God will ask him why he was not Rowan Williams. I figure when I show up at the pearly gates, there’s a good chance that God will ask me, “Why weren’t you Peter Carey?”

God will ask: why didn’t you do the things I called you to do? Why didn’t you do the things that I uniquely equipped you to do?

I may not lead a civil rights movement, but I can help people see that we should be judged on the content of our character, not the color of our skin or our sexual orientation. I may not win a Nobel Peace Prize, but I can live peacefully with my neighbor (especially since my neighbor at work is Howard Pugh!). I won’t give a speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, but I can do my best to preach here in this pulpit and at chapel this week. We sometimes focus on the great movers and shakers of history and forget that God usually works through ordinary people like you and me. What about you? What are you uniquely equipped to do?

Martin Luther King Jr. did not set out to be a great American hero. He set out to be faithful to God one day at a time. A scholar of the Civil Rights Movement reminded me that Dr. King began by just taking care of those people in his congregation, listening to their concerns, and then he tried to work for solutions. Eventually he found himself the leader of a nation-wide movement for freedom and equality.

The “change of orientation” that Jesus empowers us to do begins in our hearts and minds, and extends to our actions. We should begin with the little things—being faithful to our partners and spouses, patient with a friend, gracious with an enemy, merciful with those who need our help, and generous in giving. We shouldn’t be afraid to call a spade a spade. Where we see injustice we should name it. Where people are being treated badly, step in, voice your concerns. Where you see ignorance and hatred manifested in small but cruel jokes, have the courage to say something. It may not seem as exciting as a march to Birmingham, or a bus boycott in Montgomery, but you can do a lot, right here!

I doubt I’ll ever spend the night in a Birmingham jail, but I can visit someone in a Richmond jail and I can write letters to political prisoners through Amnesty International. I may never organize a bus boycott, but I can do my best to get to know all the members of our community. I won’t integrate a school system, but I can reach out to people who live across the lines of race and class. I may never preach against war before a national audience, but I can raise the question about the ethics of an ongoing and seemingly perpetual war. What about you? What can you do that emerges from your own specific concerns and interests? You have unique gifts and we need you to use them!

We read about Jesus calling people to repent, to “reorient themselves,” so that people might encounter God and be reconciled. We read about Jesus coming near to those fishermen, and calling them to leave behind their tangled nets and smelly fish, and their old, tired, narrow lives. They are empowered to turn and embrace the people they were meant to be.

We were not all called to be Martin Luther King, Jr, or Mohandas Gandhi or Rosa Parks, or Ruby Bridges or Jonathan Daniels, but we are called to be us – fully, without reservations, with courage and conviction.

I need my family, friends, this church, and this community to help me be faithful so that God won’t have to ask me, “Why weren’t you Peter Carey?”

How about you? Are you ready for the question?

18 February 2008

Dr. Esther Mombo spoke here in chapel today

Dr. Esther Mombo, the theologian, academic, leader in the Anglican Communion spoke today at our Upper School and our Middle School Chapels. I will post more about her talks, soon, but she gave inspired talks on "Growing up female in Kenya." With all the turmoil going on in Kenya, now, it was wonderful for our community to hear from this wise and wonderful woman about the life of girls and women in Kenya.

Upper School Chapel
Esther Mombo delivered a chapel message of hope about women in her native country of Kenya. This past Monday, Upper School students had the opportunity to hear Dr. Mombo speak in chapel about what growing up in a village is like and how she was able to get an education. She also spoke about the current conditions in Kenya during the time of political unrest. She said, "In the news, you see photos of men with guns, but you don't see pictures of women carrying water." She discussed the many roles and responsibilities girls have in Kenya, but she stressed that "being a girl in Kenya is fun." Dr. Mombo did discuss two particular challenges girls face: marrying early and HIV/AIDs. She suggested we could help girls get an education by sponsoring a student or by providing much needed school supplies to girls schools.

Middle School Chapel

Dr. Mombo spoke to the Middle School during chapel on Monday, February 18. Her talk was about a girl, Faith, who is growing up in the village that Dr. Mombo is from in Kenya. The girls learned what it is like for an eleven-year old to grow up in a small rural village in Kenya. The talk was followed by many good questions that the girls asked.

Dr. Mombo was visiting Richmond to speak at WomanKind, a symposium sponsored by St. James's Church.

More about Dr. Mombo can be found in many places, but here on the Virginia Theological Seminary site you can see a .pdf of her bio.

17 February 2008

Father Matthew takes on Confirmation!

Father Matthew strikes again!

Here's his (wonderful) take on the sacrament of Confirmation....

Great stuff!


quotes from my Facebook page...

There is a lot here, I offer them up without comment...what do you think?

"Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are."
~St. Augustine

"Let the beauty we love be what we do."

"This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

"I love the rain, it washes the memories off the sidewalks of life."
~Woody Allen

"Begin to see your self as gift, love it as gift, from God's hand, and learn how the neighbor too is a gift,
to himself or herself, and to you."
~Rowan Williams, (Resurrection, p. 38)

A church that doesn’t provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed - what gospel is that? Very nice, pious considerations that don’t bother anyone, that’s the way many would like preaching to be. Those preachers who avoid every thorny matter so as not to be harassed, so as not to have conflicts and difficulties, do not light up the world they live in.
~Oscar Romero, The Violence of Love


16 February 2008

Videos - The Rev. Peter M. Carey - on Youtube

Lookout soon for a new video on the way...while you're waiting, here are the one's I've posted so far:

Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas

Advent with the St. Catherine's Chaplain

Who Are you?...Introduction

Welcome to the St. Catherine's Chaplain's Blog

A Day at St. Catherine's

Powder Puff Football at St. Catherine's School

Bannard Chapel, St. Catherine's School

15 February 2008

"Did You Know" Video on Youtube

Ever feel like things have been changing a lot?
Wondering how come you might feel root-less?
Check out this video and ponder it.

Hat tip goes to Seven Whole Days blog!

Some satire from Tominthebox News Network

From the satire site, "Tominthebox News Network"....
15 February, 2008
This Week in Photos 2/15/08
A disturbed Rev. James Huchinson (left) is caught off guard
when Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams makes the
suggestion during a press conference that Great Britain consider
letting Klingons in the country impose the Klingon code of
honor amongst their own communities.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson makes a prank call to Presidential
candidate Mike Huckabee's office saying "Hey, do you know
that you're refrigerator is running? Better go catch it!"

An angry Fred Phelps, while
speaking at a Topeka city council
meeting, finally gets "fed up"
with the man man behind him
who kept whispering "Look at
that bald spot!"

14 February 2008

Episcopal Community Services - Philadelphia

This is a fine video of the amazing organization, Episcopal Community Services, associated with the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA

If you have a chance, see the good work that ECS is doing, and if you feel called, please donate to this great organization click HERE to view their website and donate.



hat-tip goes to Episcopalooza! thanks!!

Episcopal Community Services

12 February 2008

A helpful analysis of Rowan Williams' recent comments

Mike Higton, a theologian and writer who has written a book on Rowan Williams, (Difficult Gospel) and has edited a book of Rowan Williams' essays (Wrestling With Angels) has written a helpful analysis of the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent comments about Sharia Law.

I've posted his introduction to these comments and you can find his entire post HERE.

Thanks to Mike Higton for this helpful work!


Rowan Williams and Sharia: A Guide for the Perplexed

The stir surrounding Rowan Williams’ recent lecture on ‘Civil and Religious Law in England‘ has been quite incredible - not least for the depth of misrepresentation that has shaped so many of the responses. I doubt there’s anything much I can do to change that, but just in case there’s anyone still listening I’d like to offer four things:

One quick comment before I begin, prompted by a couple of e-mails I’ve had in the last few days. I’m not any kind of official spokesman for the Archbishop. Although I have written one book on him, and edited a book of his essays, we’ve met (I think) only three times, and not at all since 2003, and the last contact I had with him was a brief exchange of e-mails after the publication of Wrestling with Angels. What follows is simply my take on what Williams said, based entirely on what I know of his public statements. So apologies to anyone looking for behind the scenes insights - you won’t find them here.

Read the rest over at Mike Higton's blog.... HERE.

....the beginning drumbeats of the rhythm of the day

When you spend your days at a school you experience a rhythm of the day.

Some of the earliest universities in Europe were founded by religious orders, monks and nuns who understood that having a holy rhythm of the day was a way to live a Godly life.

Our own rhythm has elements of those early universities ... work, play, study, prayer, rest...

Walking to school today I heard the hustle and bustle of middle schoolers going to hear and see a musical recital of their peers, rushing off to Bannard Chapel, where we hold many of our recitals.

Walking into Turner Hall, Upper Schoolers scattered on the floors and benches doing last minute studying, drinking their coffee, or tea or juice, getting ready for the day by checking in with friends, cramming a bit for a quiz, and hanging up signs that announce a friend's birthday.

As I passed a colleague's room, girls were already working with pen to paper, taking a test or quiz.

Walking down the hallway, boys from St. Christopher's School and girls from St. Catherine's were queuing up to go into a national mathematics exam in the Library Lecture Room.

And then, walking up the stairs, first-year students were gathering together for the 9th grade class meeting led by their student leaders and by their advisors.

Turning the corner, I unlock my office door, and there is a pause, a break in the music, for a moment, before the rhythm begins again.

When you spend your days at a school you experience a rhythm of the day.

09 February 2008

A Gift of Love on Ash Wednesday

Last week was the final week in the season of Epiphany and the readings were all about the Transfiguration of Jesus, that strange and wonderful story when Jesus went up a hill and when he came down, the disciples all saw that he had been transformed. This week, I heard a wonderful homily in our chapel given by The Rev. Gary Jones, the rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church here in Richmond in which Rev. Jones reflected on whether Jesus had been changed, or whether it was the perception on the part of the three disciples that had been changed. It seems likely that (at least) their perception had changed, that they saw the reality of Jesus in a clearer way, not through a glass darkly, but clearly, as Jesus truly was - fully God, fully human. There are those moments, the homilist continued, when we see the world in this clear way, when we see the way that all the people around us are gifts to us, that they are beautiful, and we see that we are one in the Spirit together. Of course, these times do not always last, but they do happen, and are important to reflect upon as we move from the Transfiguration into Lent.

The Transfiguration is still on my mind because Lent began for me in a rather unorthodox way. This would be my first Ash Wednesday as a priest and in the midst of a terrible sinus cold, I went to our chapel to change the colors of the liturgical hangings over from white to purple, and I set out the ashes, ready to be blessed, and I did it all in a kind of a haze as I was still laboring under a low-grade fever and a stuffed head. That was Tuesday night.

I was ready, more or less, to lead three Ash Wednesday services for our school community and had ashes ready, more or less, for about 900+ students, faculty, and staff.

Well, sometimes (as the cliche goes) life happens when you're making other plans. In the middle of the night of Ash Wednesday 'morning' my wife awakened me to say that we'd better head off to the hospital, because our little girl insisted upon coming into the world on this holy day -- and perhaps also insisting upon coming into the world on a somewhat inconvenient day for her 'new' priest daddy!

So, at 2:30 am, I blessed the ashes, and emailed my fellow chaplain and chapel coordinator and gave some instructions...and we were off to the hospital.

Our little girl, Lily, was born on Ash Wednesday, and I (once again) saw the world clearly, remarking at the miracle of the care of nurses and doctors, cherishing my wife and her willingness to literally share her body for these many months, and the care and compassion of family who watched our two older sons (2 and 4) while we were at the hospital for the last few days.

I don't know how love can work like this, but it is expansive, and can grow deeper and wider than we can even imagine. As I watch my newborn sleep, I imagine just a bit of what God must feel as he watches us, and loves us too.

So, I enter Lent not having "done" Ash Wednesday in the traditional way, but, I have received the gift of perception, the gift of transfiguration, and the gift of knowing a bit of Godly love, even in our broken and hurting world. I pray I can hold these gifts lightly and carefully as I move through these forty days.

The first annual Bonhoeffer Blog Conference

I am a huge fan of Bonhoeffer, who is a theologian who challenges me and pushes me to places where I don't really always want to go in terms of the ways that I live out my faith. His theology is very "thick" and has levels of nuance that I cannot say that I fully grasp even after spending most of a year working on a M.Div. honors thesis that considered his work and the ways that it might relate to the work of Rowan Williams and James Cone. I realize now how daunting my task was last year to try to find the points of integration and the points of conflict between these three giants of theology, but a wonderful result of my investigations was that I have found three theologians who I will be reading for my entire lifetime, and who each challenge me and push me in some uncomfortable, but important, ways.

I found a link to an online "Bonhoeffer Conference" called the "First Annual Bonhoeffer Blog Conference" which I hope to check out and perhaps even offer a comment or two (we'll see how courageous I might be). If you have read any Bonhoeffer, you may, indeed find this to be an interesting "conference" to check out. It was advertised on the Inhabitatio Dei blog, which is a wonderful theology blog to check out, if you are so inclined.