Tuesday, September 29, 2009


OK, people, bear with me here - I am sort of rocked by the synchronicity of the universe right now.

So this past Sunday at church, we heard readings from James (The Prayer of Faith 5:13-20) and the Gospel of Mark (9:38-50), and our Rector, Jim, spoke about the "main ideas" he took away from the readings and how to incorporate them into our lives. I am going to try to paraphrase. Because I feel like "it all makes sense"and I'm having an "aha" moment. Fr. Jim spends a lot of his sermons talking about how God loves us, and wants us to do God's work in the world to bring us closer to God.

13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. [James 5]

Fr Jim talked at length about how important prayer is, and how it really can help the sick and suffering among us. At our church we have a lay person (a massage therapist in the workaday world) who offers unction each week. This is a pretty unique aspect to this church and something I have come to really respect and admire. Many members of the congregation go to her each week and have "laying on of hands" to feel better.

And then he related the reading from James to the Gospel [Mark 9]:

38"Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us." 39"Do not stop him," Jesus said. "No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40for whoever is not against us is for us. 41I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward. 42"And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. 43If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.[c] 45And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.[d] 47And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'[e] 49Everyone will be salted with fire. 50"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other."
He admitted, as will I, that this message in the Gospel is not an easy one for many liberal Christians to hear because many of us do not believe in a hell full of fire and brimstone. We think (or I'll say I) I think hell is when we remove ourselves from God's presence, and engage in destructive (bad) behavior that hurts ourselves and others. That by NOT participating in prayer and by putting oneself away from God's love, that is sin. And that THOSE are the flames that eat at us. He talked about us being salted with fire.

I was sitting next to Josiah, who suffers from arthritis, and as Fr. Jim was speaking, I got a sense of Josiah's "inflammation" in his body, like his body is "salted with fire." And I prayed for him.

[I sometimes feel awkward about prayer - like me "just talking with God" doesn't really cut it. That I need to find someone else's words to "make it count."] So, I went online and I looked up St James the Greater (who is the one who wrote the letter above) and found this prayer:
Prayer to Saint James the Greater*

O Glorious Saint James, because of your fervor and generosity Jesus chose you to witness his glory on the Mount and his agony in the Garden. Obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending struggles of this life. Help us to follow Christ constantly and generously, to be victors over all our difficulties, and to receive the crown of glory in heaven. Amen.

That's beautiful. All of us struggle from time to time.

And then I found out that St James is the "patron saint of rheumatoid sufferers." Holy Synchronicity, Batman!

"Help us to follow Christ constantly and generously, to be victors over all our difficulties, and to receive the crown of glory in heaven. Amen."

* I'm not sure I believe fully in the idea that one should pray to saints as intermediaries. I was raised to believe that Jesus is the sole intermediary for us, that he is the one to pray to. BUT, the idea of the saints is appealing to me, and it "makes sense" to me too. And the idea that in their human lives, these saintly people understood people with similar concerns and could advocate for them, I love that! I still want to make the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, now more than ever.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

St John's Bible - I saw it!

So, Everybody, I got to see the St John's Bible at Old St George's Church in Philly today. It was AWESOME. This Bible version contains the 4 Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Lukle & John) plus Acts (the Acts of the Apostles, which people believe was written by the same writer as the author of Luke). All of the calligraphy was done by hand - by 5 writers. The artwork was done by 18 artists.

It's funny - it's a big red book, much like what I imagine Carl Jung's, Liber Novus, would look like. The images are so beautiful. There are several botanical or Audubon-esque figures of birds and insects. But some of my favorites were icons. Other favorites were very modern images - amalgams of symbols from the gospel stories in gold leaf and strong colors. I urge you to try to see the book if you can - it was free here in Philadelphia.

You can also see reproductions of the art, and buy note cards, etc. of some of the more striking artwork within. Some of my favorites from today were some of the Hymns from Luke, and the icons. The volunteer who was turning pages for me and La Prima as we looked at the book, agreed with me that one of the characters represented in one of the most striking icons (I think it was of the Last Supper*) was Rumi. I love that thought. Beautiful work.

* UPDATE: Upon further reflection, I think the image was of "The Great Commission" of Pentecost. An even more beautiful thought!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Carl Jung

I have been a fan of Carl Jung's since high school. I am so psyched to see this book! It looks amazing. The NYT article is pretty good. The quotation below is from the article, and is a quote from Jung who was speaking to a patient of his:

“I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can — in some beautifully bound book,” Jung instructed. “It will seem as if you were making the visions banal — but then you need to do that — then you are freed from the power of them. . . . Then when these things are in some precious book you can go to the book & turn over the pages & for you it will be your church — your cathedral — the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid or neurotic and you listen to them — then you will lose your soul — for in that book is your soul.”

Monday, September 21, 2009

Last Night on TV

On my friend Marie's suggestion I watched "Lewis" last night. I was only impressed by the last 15 seconds of the show. She also rated last night's episode a "B-/C+". Much more to her liking is the episode, "Life Born of Fire", which I will hold out for before I pass judgement on the series as a whole.

Anyway, after that there was a brief food/travelogue show on called, "Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie" which was featuring Turkish food, and the breaking of the fast, or Iftar, in Istanbul ["Turkey: Iftar in Istanbul"]. WOW! Now, I LOVE Turkish food. And watching this show was like a dream. The food looked amazing. And seeing Istanbul on TV, in all its glory - being able to show Josiah what I've been talking about all these years - was a real treat! It made us vow to get there as soon as physically possible. Yummy food too!

Here's the blurbage from the website:

Travel to Istanbul, an ancient Turkish city with a culinary past that weaves its way through the Byzantine, Roman, and Ottoman empires. During the holy month of Ramadan, locals fast from sunrise to sunset. Join a food author for the Iftar meal, the traditional feast when the fast is broken. Visit the famed 150-year-old bakery that makes Turkish flatbread pide, a mainstay of the Iftar, in a time-consuming, authentically traditional way. Discover the beauty of güllaç, a multilayered dessert studded with pistachios and pomegranates, and meet a family that has perfected the art of making Turkish delight, an early ancestor of the jellybean. In the Gourmet test kitchen, executive editor John “Doc” Willoughby prepares spicy grilled köfte, a Turkish street-food favorite that gets its irresistible flavor from a unique blend of spices.

Friday, September 11, 2009

George Krause's Work - Haunting

I just found out about George Krause on Morbid Anatomy. These are exactly the kinds of statues that I responded to SO much during my trip to Mexico.

He responds to the emotional-ness of the works as much as I do, read below:

More about the series, from his website:
"Saints and Martyrs pays homage to the anonymous artisans who fashioned the statues...These sculptures transcend most folk art," (Krause) says. 'They are not conceptually motivated. The sculptor felt the suffering, and it allowed him to create something beyond himself and beyond the repetitive forms usually handed down among folk artists. I am responding to the artisan's passion and his unique vision."
George Krause, A Retrospective, Anne W. Tucker

It's great, and more than a little creepy. Beautifully emotional.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

John Paul Jones

A friend of mine just shared this youtube video with me - it's pretty funny (contains explicit lyrics but otherwise SFW).

John Paul Jones [not the drummer] is the one who said, "We have not yet begun to fight!" which is the rallying cry I am trying to co-opt for the Environmental movement. Not too much success yet, but it's early going. Check out the "Serapis" flag.