Friday, October 29, 2010

Spirituality news!

So the friend of my friend, Rainn Wilson, has come out with a new book, SoulPancake. The website of the same name is where I got the idea to do my Lenten Spiritual Exercise. Boy was that life-changing! I found an interview with Rainn here. Great stuff!

Happy Halloween, Happy Samhain, Good Day of the Dead to you all!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Shout-Out

Here's a shout-out to Dr Walt Lowe, Professor of Systmeatic Theology, Emeritus from Emory, who taught a four-week seminar at our church this past month. (See the course description below.)

I had several "aha" moments throughout the course, but Dr Lowe's description of "how we know the Messiah has come" [as the 13th Century Jewish scholar said, "the world will smell different."] just spoke to me loud and clear.

One of the final thoughts Dr Lowe left us with was a quotation from Thomas Merton, whose icon I included here, by my favorite religious artist, Robert Lentz:

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"

Here's what the course was about:

The first session begins with a brief introduction to two major revolutions in twentieth century theology. These are the confessional theology of Karl Barth, who drafted the church's statement against Nazism, and the liberation theology of Jurgen Moltmann, many feminist theologians and a variety of other champions of the dispossessed. We sketch the present unfortunate situation in which each of these theologies views the other with considerable suspicion. Finally, to better understand this situation, we focus on how the two movements deal with the problem of evil and the good news of redemption.

The second session takes up the natural question, given the relationship above--namely "Where do we go from here?" The instructor's view is that a situation in which Christian theology constantly finds itself with one hand or the other tied behind its back is simply unacceptable. Fortunately, a new perspective currently in the process of opening up may point beyond the impasse. This is the new scholarly discovery of the formative role played by apocalyptic in the message and ministry of Jesus, and the writings of St. Paul. We will consider how many modern assumptions are challenged and transformed by this new development.

There is always a risk of getting carried away by the latest fad. Therefore the last two weeks will ponder some remarkable parallels between the possibilities just described and the greater orthodox tradition. We will do this through close reading and discussion of portions of Thomas Merton's marvelous summation of the tradition, entitled New Seeds of Contemplation. Members of the class are encouraged to obtain a copy from a library, local bookstore, or an understanding friend. Toward the end of the last session we will draw our thoughts together, with special reference to the life of the church and the presence (or absence) of Jesus.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dead Sea Scrolls in the News

The Dead Sea Scrolls will be digitized in an agreement between the Israeli government and Google. This is great news!

The scrolls were found between 1946-1956 in caves just north of the Dead Sea in what is now Israel. It's a dramatic story, and the scrolls' discovery has added a whole new dimension to Biblical scholarship. They are like a message in a bottle across the ages.

The trouble has been getting access to the texts. My awesome cousin was able to see an exhibit of 15 of the scrolls in St Paul, MN recently, but that has been one of the few opportunities the public has had to see these scrolls at all. In a few months, we will all be able to see them, and scholars can go to work.

For a glimpse into some of the information from the scrolls, and what kinds of conclusions can be drawn about Biblical times, I recommend the PBS Frontline video "From Jesus to Christ".

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Good stuff to remember down the pike

A FB friend just shared this article from the NYT with me, and I thought I'd re-post the list of stuff to remember when the going gets tough:

1 . Teenagers need to make dumb mistakes to get smart.
2 . Be ALERT but not ALARMED.
3 . Be compassionate and concerned but not enmeshed.
4 . Love them but do not worship them like idols or despise them when they let you down.
5 . Be observant without spying or prying.
6 . Pretend you have seven kids: Dopey, Bashful, Sleepy, Grumpy, Doc (the “know it all”), Sneezy (Does he have a learning disability? An undiagnosed handicap of some kind?), Happy (Is he too laid back? Where is his passion, focus, ambition and drive?) and that which ever of these seven appear in your child’s form on any given day, they are all just going through a phase
7 . When they come to you in distress, resist responding like a concierge, talent agent or the secret police. Assume that they are capable of figuring out — through trial and error — how to solve their own problems.
8 . Be forewarned that the college Common Application asks about “paid” employment with the word “paid” in bold. Remind yourself that ordinary chores and nonfancy paid jobs provide a great education in ordinary but vital life skills.
9 . Remind yourself that watching dumb YouTube videos is a healthful form of decompression and entertainment for teenagers.
10 .Remind yourself that they are unlikely to fulfill all of your dreams or all of your nightmares.
11. Remember that a snapshot of your teenager today is not the epic movie of her life.
12. Recognize that once they get to college, FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) laws don’t allow parents to see their child’s grades so it’s a good idea for students to learn the relationship between effort and outcome long before they go.
13. Plan parental obsolescence, raise them to leave you. The Talmud requires that parents teach their child how to swim.
14. Put the oxygen mask on yourself before you put it on your child.
15. Find support in other adults instead of letting shame or fear about your teenager’s twisting path cause you to isolate yourself.

It helped me to see this.

Monday, October 11, 2010


La Prima & I went to hear President Obama today in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. It was awesome! Bob Brady is a great cheerleader, I'll tell you what.

The Roots were there. And it was a great mixed crowd. You know, I realize that the President hasn't achieved all that my liberal, pro-ECOLOGY heart would want, but still, he's done a LOT. And a Helluva lot more than the conservative people would have done.

I think it's important to help him get stuff done, and vote the Dems in. I'm remembering my enthusiasm from the fall of 2008. Do you?

Monday, October 4, 2010

New Religious Art Exhibition

I love it when Religious Art is in the news! I just saw this piece in the Huffington Post and had to share.

From the article:

"Embodying the Holy," a new exhibition at New York City's Rubin Museum of Art, brings to light striking similarities between Orthodox Christian icons and traditional Tibetan Buddhist painted scrolls.

Martin Brauen, the museum's Chief Curator, said that the exhibition will "provide points of basic understanding of what connects the so-called East and West on a spiritual level." Elaborating on this spiritual connection, he said that Christian icons and Tibetan painted scrolls are "both representations of a reality that is beyond our human realm. They are depictions of a divine state of being."

I like the idea that the similarities in the art might show a connection between Jesus' "lost years" and the East. Did Jesus really spend time in India or Tibet before beginning his ministry in Palestine/Israel?

"Embodying the Holy" will run Oct. 6, 2010 to March 7, 2011.