14 April 2010

A Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury

… Your Grace, I have urged you in the past, and I will urge you again. There is an urgent need for a meeting of the Primates to continue sorting out the crisis that is before us, especially given the upcoming consecration of a Lesbian as Bishop in America. The Primates Meeting is the only Instrument that has been given authority to act, and it can act if you will call us together …

I have for some time been an admirer of Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda. He is a genuine leader in the Anglican Communion and is not afraid to speak the truth. You may find the full text of his letter here. (Click on it twice to get the full-sized text.)

Seven Stanzas at Easter

I intended to put this arresting poem by John Updike on my blog at Easter. Better late than never, I suppose—and it is still the Easter season. Christ is risen!

Make no mistake: if He rose at all

it was as His body;

if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules 

reknit, the amino acids rekindle,

the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers, 

each soft Spring recurrent;

it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled 

eyes of the eleven apostles;

it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,

the same valved heart 

that—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then 

regathered out of enduring Might 

new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,

analogy, sidestepping transcendence; 

making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the

faded credulity of earlier ages:

let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache, 

not a stone in a story,

but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow

grinding of time will eclipse for each of us 

the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,

make it a real angel, 

weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, 

opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen 

spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,

for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,

lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are

embarrassed by the miracle,

and crushed by remonstrance.

© 1961 by John Updike (Written for a religious arts festival sponsored by the Clifton Lutheran Church, of Marblehead, Mass.)

02 April 2010

Good Friday

Here is a lovely musical rendition of what we celebrate on Good Friday:

01 April 2010

An interesting perspective...

Here is an interesting video to bring you up to date on the world we live in today:

19 March 2010

The loser is the winner

Malcolm Muggeridge was one of the great British journalists and social commentators of the twentieth century. Whether it was Communism, the British monarchy, the “new morality” of the ’60s, the media, or a host of other issues, they were all fair game for his acid wit. Occasionally he even directed his attention to the church.

This happened most notably in a feature-length film, Heavens Above. It starred Peter Sellers as a bumbling Church of England clergyman who sincerely believed in the utter truth of every word of the Sermon on the Mount. When this led to giving away the parish silver and opening the doors to the poor, it soon led to trouble with the church hierarchy.

Muggeridge was one of those many people (like Gandhi) who had enormous respect for Jesus and his teachings, but not for the church. Eventually it was the witness of Mother Teresa (among others) that led him in his sixties to turn from agnosticism to embrace the Christian faith. He saw Mother Teresa, unlike so many who go by the name Christian, as one who actually lived what she professed.

Increasingly I wonder about the church in the western world of today, and how much—in spite of our professed orthodoxy—we have adopted a theology that is foreign to the gospel. We operate on a basis of power rather than weakness. Our model has become Rambo, not Jesus.

So we (and here I include myself) end up gauging the success of a church in terms of its budget or average Sunday attendance, not by the lives that are being changed for the better through the love of Jesus. We waste millions of dollars in prolonged legal wrangles over property, never imagining the powerful witness—and the enormous freedom—we might have by just walking away from our luxurious premises. We lament the church’s waning moral and political influence in the world while ignoring the Holy Spirit’s waning influence in our lives.

The apostle Paul wrote of a God who once said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” “So,” he continued, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”

Paul had learned (largely through the school of hard knocks) that the message of the cross simply does not make sense in the world’s eyes: that weakness should be the source of genuine strength, poverty the fount of true riches, and death the way to eternal life. Is this not also what Jesus taught his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, and then proved through his own death and resurrection?

Perhaps we need to be like those two disciples on their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus—to walk a few miles with Jesus and allow him to open the Scriptures to us. Perhaps like them we also will find our eyes opened and our hearts burning within us. May it lead us to embrace the foolishness of the gospel and to count it a privilege to be known as fools for the same of Jesus.