29 September 2012

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

From "Fiat Lux": Join us to meet the "Nun on the bus" Sister Simone Campbell, SSS

Join us to meet the "Nun on the bus" Sister Simone Campbell, SSS

This Sunday, it gives me great pleasure to bring my dear old friend,Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, to St. Paul's. She will be preaching at the 8 am and 10 am worship services and taking questions at an adult forum at 11:30 am.

Sister Simone, who is a nun in the order of the Sisters of Social Service, is best known as the Executive Director of NETWORK, a Catholic organization that lobbies on economic and social justice issues.

She has become well-known as one of the targets of a Vatican crackdown on American nuns who Rome believes are too eager to disagree with church teachings on sexuality and gender while overemphasizing church teachings on social justice.

Come hear her side.

Sister Simone has been the public face of the “nuns on the bus” who toured the country this summer to draw attention to federal budget proposals that, in the view of the nuns, would harm the poor. She is also an attorney, and represented low-income people for 18 years in California, where she founded a community-based law center. She is fluent in Spanish, and is an accomplished poet.

read more at Jim Richardson's blog, "Fiat Lux"

From Dr. Cook, at the Biblische Ausbildung blog: Biblical Hebrew: A Compact Guide

My wonderful seminary professor of Old Testament, Dr. Stephen Cook, has written in his blog, Biblische Ausbildung, about a great little book which gives a guide to Biblical Hebrew.  As someone who knows the importance of ancient languages (but struggle mightily with them!), I wanted to mention this book, as well as Dr. Cook's blog as great sources for delving deeply into scripture.  Do check out Dr. Cook's blog, Biblische Ausbildung, and also the book "Biblical Hebrew: A Compact Guide"

Biblical Hebrew: A Compact Guide

IMG_5623In the photo above, some of my terrific students in upper-level Hebrew are taking a look at a handy new booklet Zondervan just sent me to examine: Biblical Hebrew: A Compact Guide, by Miles Van Pelt. It’s a neat reference booklet summarizing basic Hebrew grammar. It’s inexpensive too, listing for $19.99 and available on Amazon for $13. It appears to be a great practical tool for quick reference, and is recommended for all seminarians studying Hebrew.

Biblische Ausbildung: Biblical Hebrew: A Compact Guide: BIBLISCHE AUSBILDUNG

28 September 2012

Dr. Melody Knowles to Join VTS Faculty as Vice President of Academic Affairs

Dr. Melody Knowles to Join VTS Faculty as Vice President of Academic Affairs


Media Contact: Susan Shillinglaw
Tel: 703-461-1764
Email: sshillinglaw@vts.edu

Alexandria, VA  - At their September 24 board meeting, the trustees of the Virginia Theological Seminary unanimously approved the appointment of the Rev. Dr. Melody D. Knowles as the new Vice President of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Old Testament. Knowles, who is currently the Associate Professor of Hebrew Scriptures at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois, will join the VTS community part-time in February 2013 and will become the full-time Vice President for Academic Affairs on July 1, 2013. 

Dr. Knowles is an outstanding scholar of the Old Testament, and deeply committed to theological education,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president of Virginia Seminary. “As we enter a new phase of the Seminary's life, where program is the focus, Melody is the ideal person for this leadership role.” 

Knowles will be taking the place of Dr. Timothy Sedgwick who indicated last year that he would like to step down in June 2013 from the position of Academic Dean. Sedgwick has served his position with distinction and will continue to teach and write at Virginia Seminary. 

Since 1999, Knowles has taught courses on the religion of Israel, the Psalms, Hebrew, and the Bible in film. Her principal research interests include the reworking of historical traditions within the Psalter, women’s use of the Psalms, and the ancient practice of religion. She has also been involved in archaeological excavations at various sites in Israel, and has worked to make McCormick’s rich archaeological collection a visible and well-used educational resource for students.

Since coming to McCormick, Dr. Knowles was ordained in the Episcopal Church, USA, and has been active in congregations in Chicago and Poughkeepsie, NY.

Her published works include Centrality Practiced: Jerusalem in the Religious Practice of Yehud and the Diaspora in the Persian Period (SBL Press, 2006), and Contesting Texts: Jews and Christians in Conversation About the Bible (editor and co-author along with John Pawlikowski, Esther Menn and Timothy Sandoval; Fortress Press, 2007). She was also the lead translator of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah for the Common English Bible, and wrote the notes for the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles in the study edition of the CEB. She is currently writing a commentary on Psalms 107-150 for the Illuminations Commentary Series (Eerdmans).

Founded in 1823, Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church. The school prepares men and women for service in the Church worldwide, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas. The Seminary has significantly shaped ministry and mission across the Anglican Communion for generations, and with its diverse faculty currently serves students from more than 45 Episcopal dioceses, over 10 different countries across the world, and over 10 different Christian denominations, for service in the Church and the world.

Church of England fails to agree on successor for Archbishop of Canterbury

The body responsible for choosing the next Archbishop of Canterbury has failed to agree who should be the successor to Dr Rowan Williams.
Despite a three day session, aided by prayers invoked on Twitter with the hashtage #prayforthecnc, the 16-member committee has been unable to decide on who should take on the job that the present incumbent today implied was “impossible”.
A source told The Times that a decision on who should succeed Dr Rowan Williams was not expected soon. “A decision is not imminent," he said.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama to give lectures in Middlebury Oct. 12-13

His Holiness the Dalai Lama to give lectures Oct. 12-13

March 13, 2012
Update: Tickets to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama are sold out. Live video feeds will be provided to both Dana Auditorium and the McCullough Student Center Social Space during both of his talks.  Seating for these on-campus video viewing areas is free and open to the public, and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The lectures will also be streamed live online. This link will be live a few minutes before the lectures begin: http://go.middlebury.edu/dlstream.
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ― Do spiritual and religious traditions offer guidance that inspires action? His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet and winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, will explore this thought-provoking subject when he visits Middlebury College to deliver two lectures ― one to the campus community and another to the public ― on Oct. 12-13.
Middlebury faculty, staff and students may attend his talk, “Educating the Heart,” at 1:45 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12.  His lecture at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13, “Finding Common Ground: Ethics for a Whole World,” will be open to the public. Tickets for both events, which will take place in Nelson Arena, will be available through the Middlebury College Box Office.
The theme of his visit, “Cultivating Hope, Wisdom, and Compassion,” encompasses both of his lectures. According to Middlebury College President Ron Liebowitz, the purpose of the talks is to help people explore resources for hope, optimism and cooperation, while challenging them to lead lives of courage and engagement.
“We are deeply honored that the Dalai Lama, a man of peace who embodies these qualities, is coming to Middlebury,” said Liebowitz.
“The problems that face humankind today, and that this generation of students will be called upon to address, will necessitate not only knowledge and technological ingenuity, but also compassion, determination and sacrifice,” said Liebowitz. “These human attributes and virtues have long been fostered and sustained by the world’s religious, spiritual and philosophical communities.”
In a 2010 opinion piece in The New York Times, the Dalai Lama wrote, “Finding common ground among faiths can help us bridge needless divides at a time when unified action is more crucial than ever.”
“The Dalai Lama understands that the challenges we face in healing our planet require many peoples to come together as one if we are to be successful,” said Middlebury College Chaplain Laurie Jordan, who helped to organize his visit. “We are interested in exploring how activists and everyday citizens alike can draw strength from each other and from cultivating their own inner lives.”
The Dalai Lama’s visit this fall will be his third to Middlebury. He was previously on campus for two symposiums — in 1984 for “Christ and the Bodhisattva,” and in 1990 for “Spirit and Nature: Religion, Ethics and Environmental Crisis.”
A steering committee at the college has been working under the guidance of the Venerable Lama Tenzin Dhonden, personal peace emissary for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to arrange this fall’s events.
Born in Tibet 77 years ago, Tenzin Gyatso was named the 14th Dalai Lama when he was 2 years old, becoming the successor in a line of political and spiritual leaders spanning six centuries. In 1959 he escaped after a failed Tibetan uprising against China. Since then he has been living in Dharamsala, in northern India, the seat of the Tibetan political administration in exile.
In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent struggle for the liberation of Tibet. He also became the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems.
The Dalai Lama has received many awards, honorary doctorates and prizes in recognition of his message of peace, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion. The author of numerous books, he makes frequent speaking engagements around the world.
More Information
More information about the Dalai Lama’s visit is available here: http://www.middlebury.edu/studentlife/services/chaplain/hhdl.

25 September 2012

Dynamic Ecclesiology of Communion ~ Cheers theme ~ "where everyone knows your name"

Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you've got;
Taking a break from all your worries
Sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?
All those night when you've got no lights,
The check is in the mail;
And your little angel
Hung the cat up by it's tail;
And your third fiance didn't show;
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they're always glad you came;
You want to be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name.
Roll out of bed, Mr. Coffee's dead;
The morning's looking bright;
And your shrink ran off to Europe,
And didn't even write;
And your husband wants to be a girl;
Be glad there's one place in the world
Where everybody knows your name,
And they're always glad you came;
You want to go where people know,
People are all the same;
You want to go where everybody knows your name.
Where everybody knows your name,
And they're always glad you came;
Where everybody knows your name,
And they're always glad you came;
(fade out)

Feast of St. Sergius of Moscow ~ My "senior sermon" from 2006

Peter Carey  - Sermon – Feast of St. Sergius of Moscow  
25 September 2006
Virginia Theological Seminary Chapel

Experts at fear
We are all experts at fear, and we have been instructed to fear just about everything.   Terrorism, melting ice caps, contaminated spinach, fears for our children, fears that our church may not learn to speak one to another.  These fears can paralyze us and petrify us, and turn our hearts to stone.  We can be buried by these fears.

We need courageous hope.  Today we pray courageously in the psalm “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me out of all my terror.”  We pray this prayer so it may shape us, so it might give us strength and allow us to recognize the audacious, foolish and miraculous action of being “delivered out of all our terror!”  Setting aside our fears, seeking God, we begin to live the dream that God has for us:  “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me out of all my terror.”

‘Fear’ in text
So we turn to the Gospel, where we hear Jesus tell of the Kingdom of God … here must be the good news, after all …  but we hear a parable from Matthew in which sorting and judgment comes, in which a net is thrown into the sea, and picks up fish of every kind.  Upon the shore, the angels of the Lord sort the good from the evil, and place them into baskets and the bad will weep and gnash their teeth.  On first sight, this parable does not look like good news.  However, it should provoke fear of the Lord which is unlike earthly fears – it is awe of the Lord.  It might provoke a radical call to examine our lives, to see where our wills may be one with God’s will.  When we remember these parables of judgment, we remember that our very lives are dependent upon God.  In remembering God, we remember that all that we have is gift, and we remember that the one who judges us also loves us, and forgives us.

Hope Under Awe and Grace of God
Though our lives are assaulted by fears on every side we proclaim a life lived in Hope.  We live in awe of the Lord, so that we might remember God even in the darkest moments, even as our fears crush in upon us.  We may need to step away from earthly fears, we may need to look to God, and cultivate the awe of the Lord. 

One who lived in awe of the Lord was St. Sergius of Moscow who we remember today.  He also lived in a time of great fear in Russia.  The Tartars occupied Russia and the Russian people had to live under the oppression that any occupying force creates.  Sergius did a most audacious, foolish and miraculous thing of going to the forest.  As a 20 year old, together with his brother Stephen, he settled in the dense forests of Radonege with bears for his companions, suffered from fierce cold in winter, and the harshness of the forest.    There they built a chapel made of wood, where they could live amidst the fir trees, the bears, live in awe of the Lord.  In time, tales of Sergius rivaled stories of St. Francis as he befriended animals and became an icon of Russia.  However he was ever humble.  While he became a counselor to worldly leaders, and assisted in helping motivate the Russians to remove the Tartars, he never sought or accepted ecclesiastical posts.  One contemporary commented that, “he has about him the smell of fir forests.”   His simple chapel has now become the Church of the Holy Trinity, where the oft-depicted Rublev Icon sits.  He lived in Hope, and remained in awe of God.

In our own times of fear and anxiety, when the ways of this world dominate our hearts and our understanding, we turn to God.  We remember that God has already done that audacious, foolish and miraculous thing of becoming human, of delivering us from our terrors.  For God has sent his angels to “encamp around those who fear Him, and he will deliver them.”   The psalmist reminds us that God has besieged us with Grace; that God has stuck to us like flypaper; that God has encamped around us and will not leave.  Instead of terror and worldy fear, instead of weapons of death and destruction, God has sent his angel to surround us and deliver us from these fears that infect our lives   In order to recognize God’s encampment we may need to go to the woods (figuratively or literally), seek sabbath – practice prayer – cultivate courage -  we may need to commune with bears, we may need to go to the fir trees, and seek the Lord, rather than accept the assault of fear upon our very souls.  We may need to approach this table where a most audacious, foolish, and miraculous thing happens – where we have communion with our maker (and live to tell the tale). 

What I pray for you, and for me is to experience that grace that passes human understanding.  “For the things that are impossible with humankind are possible with God.” God has given us Grace to step away from earthly fears and to remember the miraculous, audacious and foolishness of God who will deliver all those who stand in awe.

24 September 2012

Wandering into the unknown

In the early Christian era, many Celtic Christians embarked on a kind of pilgrimage called a peregrinatio. Unlike the pilgrimages to the Holy Land undertaken by Christians in the Middle Ages, a peregrinatio proposes no specific relic to see, shrine to visit, or icon to venerate. Nothing allows the pilgrim to return home with a sense of ‘I’ve been there and done that.‘ Instead, a peregrinatio is a wandering into the unknown, inaugurated by the pilgrim’s inner conviction of fate and fortune. Essentially a peregrinatio represents travel for the sake of Love, initiated and sustained by the love of God. It calls the traveler to leave all that is familiar, to let go of security and any goals or desires for life except one; to find the place of one’s own resurrection.

—Karla Kincannon, from "Creativity and Divine Surprise" (Upper Room Books, 2005).

23 September 2012

For fun: James Bond travel journey ~ from Lonely Planet

50 years of James Bond: a dream 007 travel itinerary

  • Robert Reid
  • Lonely Planet Author
James Bond Island (Ko Phing Kan).
  • Udaipur City Palace on Lake Pachola.
  • Himeji-jo Castle and cherry blossom.
  • Jazz street performance, Fisherman's Wharf.
  • A fishing boat motors on clear waters off Jamaica.
  • Climbers traversing the Jungfrau glacier.
View gallery
Bond, James Bond that is, turns 50 on the silver screen this year. For those of us who leave room for a little glamour into our suitcases, he’s the ultimate travel guide, shaking it up in classiest hotels, casinos and worldwide settings mostly linked to a map of a once-was British imperial world. For the ultimate Bond fan on a mission, here’s a dream round-the-world itinerary hitting the best travel destinations over the 50 years of films.

Goldeneye, Jamaica

Start here at ground zero for 007. This North Coast hotel, near the so-called James Bond beach, feels like the sort of place he’d retire to, probably because he was ‘born’ here, when creator Ian Fleming – a British Naval Intelligence vet – lived here, shut the windows and set up in his bedroom to type out 14 007 novels. He chose the name James Bond after a birder authority he admired – and because it was so dull sounding. While here, detour to nearby Mammee Bay, where Ursula Andress, as Honey Ryder, appears dripping in brine in the first film Dr No.
By the way, Sting wrote the top-selling stalker song of all time ‘Every breath you take’ here. The hotel is now owned by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records. Bungalows run a mere $1200 a night (including breakfast, at least).

Jökulsárlón, Iceland

Its name – Icelandic for ‘glacial river lagoon’ – says it all, yet you’ll still reel from the site of luminous-blue icebergs drifting through a lagoon off the Ring Road on the other side of the island from Reykjavik. The icebergs, as seen in the 1985 film View to a Kill (the Duran Duran one) and the car chase scene of 2002 film Die Another Day (not to overlook Tomb Raider) can spend five years floating before they melt into the 600m-deep lagoon. Plan on visiting mid-May to mid-September, when boat trips get you on the water.

Stoke Park Golf Club, England

Sean Connery only came to love golf after shooting a pivotal match with Goldfinger in that 1964 film at this golf club – the course also appeared in the 1997 film Tomorrow Never Dies. The course, Britain’s first country club, is set on an estate with a 1000-year history, though much of what we see was designed by former owner John Penn, who sold millions of acres in Pennsylvania and used the money to transform this in the late 18th century.

Schilthorn, Switzerland

Try to ignore the fact that George Lazenby did his magic up here in the 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service for a bit. The 360-degree peak-top views can, on clear days, spot Mt Blanc in France and the Black Forest in Germany. It’s unreal. The slightly goofy revolving restaurant, seen in the film, is named Piz Gloria after Fleming’s 1964 novel. The name is a mistake – using the Romansh word for peak ‘Piz,’ though that Swiss dialect isn’t used in the area. The hike up is a workout – I know, I’ve done it – but you can opt instead for a cable-car ride up from Gimmelwald or Mürren, two highlight villages of the Jungfrau Region.

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

The Casino Royale of Casino Royale — actually the first of Fleming’s books, but only released as a true Bond film in the Daniel Craig era — is Grandhotel Pupp, originally built by Lords as Saxony Hall in the Czech Republic’s original ‘glam resort,’ a few hours from Prague. The film is set in Montenegro, but it’s all Karlovy Vary. And there’s indeed a casino here, as graceful as the one in which Craig’s Bond pulls his stunt with Le Chiffre who bleeds tears. Le sad.

Udaipur, India

OK, the film is sort of crappy (the name too), but the Roger Moore film Octopussy makes as compelling a case for visiting Rajasthan’s Udaipur as any Bond destination. Particularly the Lake Palace, which appears to float on the lake (perhaps because of Jackie O’s visit). Built in the 1740s of marble as a royal summer pad, it’s actually situated on Jag Niwas island and now functions as a luxury hotel, the Taj Lake Palace, with open-air courtyards and mango-tree-shaded pool. Rates start at 37,000 rupees (US$670).

Ao Phang-Nga Marine National Park, Thailand

It looks like paradise – a shallow bay of 42 limestone rock-tower islands jutting out of perfect turquoise water – but it’s no secret, particularly during December or January peak season. One popular ‘local’ is Francisco Scaramanga, who lived on Ko Phing Kan, or James Bond Island in the 1974 Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. It’s a highlight of the boat tours (a three-hour trip is about 500B per person, about US$16).

Himeji Castle, Japan

You Only Live Twice, the film in which Sean Connery appears to have four or five lives, is the ‘Japan Bond’ pic. Shot in 1966 and 1967, it was set in many locales of Japan, drawing so many Bond-chasing crowds it interrupted some shots. Three moats surround this castle – also used in a couple Kurosawa films – which appears as a (frickin’) ninja training site, and is Japan’s largest and most visited. It dates to 1333, was remodeled in the late 16th century, and survived heavy bombing in WWII.

Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

Sure, all the San Franciscans roll their eyes about the taffy shops, souvenir shirts, bus groups and those (delicious) clam chowder bowls served from a huge carved-out roll of sourdough bread. But wait, James Bond was into it. At least he was happy to meet a CIA agent Chuck Lee here in A View to a Kill (and it’s where Maud Adams walks by in the background as an impromptu extra, becoming the only Bond girl to appear in three Bond films). Not a bad place to sit, stare out at the Golden Gate Bridge and consider a globe-trotting journey, 007 style.

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/jamaica/travel-tips-and-articles/77502?affil=twit#ixzz27M80vOx7

23 September 2012 Sermon ~ The Rev. Peter M. Carey ~ St. Paul's Memorial Church

The Rev. Peter M. Carey
Sermon – 23 September 2012
St. Paul’s Memorial Church

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Our Collect today is one of my favorites.  I know all too well the ways that the anxieties of life get in the way of “those that endure.”  The stresses and daily tugs at one’s soul can bring us away from focusing on what is truly enduring and important.  And, our faith is not one of escapism, so we are not really called to just look to the future, or to the heavens, or to some utopian vision of the afterlife, we’re supposed to embrace the ways that the Kingdom of God is breaking into our world, even now.

Holding onto the things that endure, rather than every passing fancy offers me the sense that there is something enduring beyond what I may see in the midst of the comings and goings of my own life.  The daily successes and failures, the weekly stresses and anxieties, the yearly strivings and disappointments, are mere leaves in the river, floating along, while the love of God endures, and is the bedrock on which we can get a firm handhold in the swirling river of life.

However, this is often easier said, than done.

As wonderful as these words are, if you are anything like me, you may want a little flesh on these bones, you may want some supportive concepts and a bit more details to go along with the thesis statement.

And so, we are blessed today with several images that offer up some of the flesh for the bones, some supportive details for the notion that we should turn to the things that endure.

Psalm 1 contrasts the fate of the godly and the fate of the ungodly.  At the start, we learn of the happiness of the godly, they do not live as the ungodly do, rather they study and observe the Mosaic law “day and night,” and their well-being is like trees which are planted by streams of water.  They are prosperous in happiness.

“They are like trees planted by streams of water,

bearing fruit in due season,

with leaves that do not wither;

everything they do shall prosper.”

There was a tree planted near a stream in a field off a dirt road which I drove by dozens of times before I turned onto that road.  The oak tree was humungous, with healthy limbs and huge leaves.  When I finally turned onto the road I could not believe that I hadn’t turned aside before.  I parked the car and walked to the tree.  Laying down beneath it, I could hear the streams of water, and I looked up into those strong branches.  Like a child at the foot of his mother, I looked up and could not fathom the tree’s height or majesty.  There, I fell asleep, beneath the tree planted by streams of water.

And so, when we are anxious about earthly things, we might turn our thoughts to this image of trees planted by streams of water.  Water that provides for the spiritually thirsty, perhaps even the living water that God has given us through Christ.  Trees planted by streams of water, which bear fruit in due season, and with robust leaves that do not wither.  We can turn our thoughts to this image of trees, these ancient living things which often grow longer than we live.  These trees can represent the way that God’s love for us existed before we do, and will be with us always.

“For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.  And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.”

I was blessed in one of my teaching positions to be given a grant which paid for me to go on an Outward Bound class in North Carolina.  We were educators ranging in age from 25 to 75, and we tromped around the woods, rock climbed, endured several days of nonstop rain, spent time along on our solos, and it was challenging, and also uplifting.  One day, after a long walk through woods full of brambles and sharp thorns, our legs were scratched, we were thirsty, and were tired of the mud and the obstacles in our way.  After this long walk in which we lost our path, we finally emerged from the dark woods to see a golden rolling field, full of an autumn harvest of flowers and grass.  The rolling fields stretched out in front of us, but also awakened the harvest within ourselves, and we rejoiced at the abundant harvest.

James has set out to correct the sin of arrogance, and in the process, he tells his hearers the qualities of wisdom.  His understanding of wisdom is consistent with the Old Testament prophets, and of Paul.  If you are motivated by wisdom, then you will live out a life with gentleness, moderation, courtesy, and humility.  Turning to God, and remembering that life is a gift, not a right, that life emerges from God’s love, not from our own making allows us to tap into the deep wisdom of God.

Here, the image is one of a field full of a harvest of righteousness, but not solely one that we might see as we emerge from woods into a field, but also a harvest of righteousness sown within us.

Merton quote:
When we live superficially … we are always outside ourselves, never quite ‘with’ ourselves, always divided and pulled in many directions … we find ourselves doing many things that we do not really want to do, saying things we do not really mean, needing things we do not really need, exhausting ourselves for what we secretly realize to be worthless and without meaning in our lives.
—Thomas Merton

Our lives are full of the daily grind of things to do, places to be, families to feed, friends to care for, and in so many ways, we don’t really get the time we need to rest.   The prayer from Compline on page 133 reminds us of the ways that God does provide us rest, “we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness.”  In so many ways, we are pulled to and fro, and it can become easy to forget the bedrock that God provides at the center of our lives.    The human condition is one in which we can easily feel separated from each other and from God.  Our condition is characterized by the daily grind rather than the ever-present blessings of our lives.  We are truly “placed among things that are passing away,” but we are also given handholds, footholds in the swirling river of our lives.  God have given us the gift of “those things that endure.”  We have only the need to turn aside, to see the majestic trees on the sideroads of our lives. We have only to endure the brambles and thorns a bit, and we will see the rolling fields full of a harvest of righteousness.

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

20 September 2012

When we live superficially...

When we live superficially … we are always outside ourselves, never quite ‘with’ ourselves, always divided and pulled in many directions … we find ourselves doing many things that we do not really want to do, saying things we do not really mean, needing things we do not really need, exhausting ourselves for what we secretly realize to be worthless and without meaning in our lives.
—Thomas Merton

From Parabola Magazine

"Photograph by Trappist Monk, Thomas Merton. In his twenty-seventh year at Gethsemani Monastery, wrote to his friend novelist John Howard Griffin, in 1968, shortly after he received the gift of a camera: “It is fabulous. What a joy of a thing to work with.The camera is the most eager and helpful of all beings, all full of happy suggestions. Reminding me of things I have overlooked and cooperating in the creation of new worlds. So Simply. This is a Zen camera.”

Send out your light...

Camel's Hump, Vermont, from the East

Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Psalm 43:3

Archbishop of Canterbury succession race begins in earnest ~ from The Guardian (UK)

Archbishop of Canterbury succession race begins in earnest

Rowan Williams's replacement is to be chosen. Who are the candidates to lead the trouble Anglican communion?
Rowan Williams
The archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, steps down at the end of the year and it is up to the Crown Nominations Commission to put two names forward as his successor. Photograph: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP
Next Wednesday, four women and 15 men on the Crown Nominations Commission will gather for two days of prayer and horsetrading to replace Rowan Williams as archbishop of Canterbury. We know who they are, and when they will meet – but not where, so they can't be doorstepped.
Only three members of the commission, chaired by the former Conservative arts minister Lord Luce, are bishops. One of the women and two of the men have no vote, but are there to advise. Five, including one of the women, are priests. The rest are lay people. Almost all the parties of the church are represented and there is even Dr Barry Morgan, a Welshman, to represent the rest of the world for the first time in this process. They will pick two names to present to the prime minister, who is bound to choose the first, unless he proves unable to take the job.
The man they choose will have at least five jobs at once in his new post, and very little power in any of them. He is a bishop in Kent. He sits in the House of Lords. He chairs meetings of the bishops of all England. In some very nebulous sense he is also the leader of the Anglican communion, a worldwide body with no agreed doctrine and no discipline, which has rejected all attempts to supply it with either. If the Queen dies, he will crown her successor. When the nation requires religious pageantry, he must supply it and star in it.
"The next man has got to be able to hold together the Anglican communion, and to stare down the loony left and the loony right on sexual questions," says Stephen Kuhrt, a south London vicar who represents centrist evangelical opinion. "There are those who want a split as soon as possible, but the vast majority of Anglicans want a working compromise on sexuality. We need someone who can communicate a bit more on a popular level than Rowan, and is a bit tougher."
This time last year the two main candidates were John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, and Richard Chartres, the bishop of London. Neither filled the church with much enthusiasm. Sentamu wanted the job too obviously. Chartres has refused to ordain women. Both men are in their 60s, and Sentamu is not in perfect health. This matters because if one of the jobs of the archbishop is to run the Anglican communion – well, to head it, since it is not a body coherent enough to run – he must be in shape for the next Lambeth Conference in 2018, when most of the Anglican bishops of the world will come together.
During the Occupy crisis last year, Charters originally wanted the protestors cleared away, but after Giles Fraser resigned the bishop reversed position with blinding speed and conviction. Chartres is hugely experienced, having served as Robert Runcie's chaplain, and he can point to the fact that church attendance in his diocese has grown over the last decade.
Sentamu's qualifications are drive, intelligence and a gift for theatre. As a black African former asylum seeker he is able to praise British patriotism extravagantly. He seems at home as a columnist for the Sun on Sunday, where he writes things such as: "We shouldn't be shy about saying how great our country is." He inspires devotion in his staff but two people separately said to me he will never get the job because he sat on the appointments committee for five years, and some of his former colleagues there are determined that he should not. He has drifted out in the betting.
"John Sentamu is a great public face for Christianity in this country, but not a great manager of people," says Kuhrt. "Of course, in this job you do have to challenge the Captain Mainwarings if you want anything to happen."
Beyond them, candidates are less obvious. Among the younger bishops the bookies early anointed Christopher Cocksworth, bishop of Coventry, as favourite. He is an evangelical, ran a theological college, and he hasn't offended any powerful lobbies. But reports from his diocese suggest that he hasn't offended anyone only because he can't take decisions. Sentiment has quietly but decisively swung away from him.
James Jones, the bishop of Liverpool, who has just chaired the Hillsborough inquiry, is another possible caretaker choice. Although he has a firm evangelical background, he is sympathetic to gay clergy and an enthusiastic green. He had heart surgery last year, and though a fluent speaker, he lacks the star quality possessed in their different ways by both Sentamu and Chartres.
Graham James, the bishop of Norwich, is favourite everywhere of the steady-as-she-goes party. He is widely experienced – he worked in Lambeth Palace under the previous archbishop, Lord Carey – and widely trusted, as well as scholarly. But critics say he has the charisma of a tea cosy and exemplifies the benevolent but out-of-touch quality of a church cut off from the mainstream of English life.
Outsiders include Nick Baines, the newly appointed bishop of Bradford. He is active on Twitter, where journalists notice him, and he is both interested in the media and largely unafraid of it. He is an evangelical, which ticks one important box, but youth (he's 51) and inexperience should tell against him.
Another possible is John Inge, bishop of Worcester, a former public schoolmaster favoured by some centrist evangelicals. He is the author of an unlikely work of theology, Living Love, which takes as its starting point the detective novels of Alexander McCall Smith.
Liberals make wistful noises about Stephen Cottrell, the bishop of Chelmsford. He was the man with briefly the worst job in the church – brought in as the unimpeachably heterosexual bishop of Reading after Williams lost his nerve in the face of a concerted and international evangelical campaign and forced his old friend Jeffrey John, a celibate gay man, to withdraw from the post. That was in many ways the defining catastrophe of Williams's term in office, and his surrender ensured that bitter infighting over gay clergy would continue for the foreseeable future.
"Stephen Cottrell has got nous, native wit, and common sense. It is an impossible job, but we are ready for someone to say, when a crisis comes along, like the banking crisis, 'Look, this is bad' and to do so in a joined up, cogent, and clear way," says Rachel Boulding, deputy editor of the Church Times.
But Cottrell also has limited experience and is too friendly to gay clergy and gay rights to be acceptable to most evangelical opinion.
This leaves the dark horse, whom no one was discussing a year ago, yet now seems to lead the field: Justin Welby, the bishop of Durham. The reason why Welby was never discussed earlier is also the big strike against him. He wasn't even a bishop this time last year, but dean of Liverpool. He was only consecrated as bishop in the new year. This also means that he has made no enemies yet.
Welby is an evangelical; he's also an old Etonian. But people who might be repelled by either or both of these traits tend not to be in practice. He charmed Giles Fraser, for example. He is thoughtful about the Church of England's problems. If these were primarily financial, he would be the outstanding candidate. Not only did he have a successful career as an oil trader before seeking ordination, he turned around the finances of Liverpool Cathedral when he ran it.
None of the candidates will bring comfort to a Tory government. The most establishment candidates are Chartres and Welby. But Chartres is a Prince Charles-type Tory who wants less capitalism and more hierarchy. Welby has been an informed critic of the banks. Sentamu was stopped and searched eight times by the Metropolitan police while he was bishop of Stepney, and served on the Macpherson committee that accused the force of institutionalised racism.
Whoever he is, the next archbishop will face other large problems, even though the issue of female bishops will probably not be among them. It looks as if a form of words has been agreed which both supporters and opponents can accept, so that the first will be consecrated next year.
The struggle over gay clergy will continue for the foreseeable future. Opinion within congregations is slowly shifting as it has shifted in the outside world. But the long stalemate, punctuated by vicious little skirmishes, can only be expected to continue.
There is the slow international fissioning of the Anglican communion, where conservative Africans and Asians have been trying for years to throw out the more liberal churches of North America, with the Church of England caught uneasily between factions. It's difficult to see any compromise there except the peace of exhaustion.
With all these difficulties at home and abroad it's lucky that the Crown Nominations Commission believe in prayer, since prayer will work at least as well as horsetrading when it meets next week to choose its victim.