July 2010


In my daily office readings of late, in the Hebrew Scriptures, there has been a lot of talk about worshiping God alone, and keeping apart from the gods of other people.  God gets very angry when Israel worships other gods.  And I find myself thinking about my universalist religious approach (as opposed to exclusivist Christian approach) in this context.

And I’ve got to say at the start, I have real trouble believing that all of this comes from God. (more…)

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I have been enjoying “Holy Women, Holy Men (Celebrating the Saints)” — which replaces and greatly expands (and also edits) the old “Lesser Feasts and Fasts.”  We added just over 100 new names to our (optional) calendar.  And it’s been fun seeing who’s now included.  Harriet Beecher Stowe, the great opponent of slavery and the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (the best-selling book of the nineteenth century — Lincoln is supposed to have said, upon meeting her, “So this is the little lady who started this great war!”) is there.  (more…)

In my most recent post, I talked about what happens in baptism.  I categorized the post, among other things, as being about seeing God.  And it occurs to me that it might not be clear to others why I did so.  The short answer is that, for me, my relationship with God became a personal relationship through other people, through community.

Back when I was living on campus at school, I had a relationship with a woman.  In retrospect, it was not a mature relationship. (more…)

One of the things I take very seriously is baptism.  It is the normative practice for how we are incorporated into the Body of Christ and become Christians.  This doesn’t mean there is no other way to become a Christian.  The early Church felt that those who died for their faith before they could be baptized received a kind of baptism by blood.  Certainly there are babies who die before they are baptized (and we don’t consign them to limbo, somewhere outside of the community of faith).  Friends Meetings (Quaker Meetings) do not practice any outward and visible signs.  They are generally accepted as members of the Christian community.  (Massy Shepherd made a specific point of this back when I was in seminary.)  Still, it’s the normative practice.  It’s foundational for us. (more…)

Another theme I’ve been running with recently, here and elsewhere, is finding our ministry and seeing our faith in the everyday here and now of our daily lives.  The “Almanac for the Soul” also had a quotation that made me think more on this (“Yes, World” by Mary Jean Irion):

Sometimes I wondered if
I had any faith. (more…)

I’ve run into this poem by Rumi before.  But I’ve been talking about the limitations of what we know and looking for common ground, recently here and here, and not so recently here, and it really struck me.  What do you think?

Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.

I found that in “An Almanac for the Soul” by Marv and Nancy Hiles — which I picked up at the Bishop’s Ranch, a rather nice retreat center located in our diocese (and owned and operated by the Diocese of California).  The next daily entry in that same book comes from Arthur James, First Earl of Balfour.  It says:

Our greatest truths are but half-truths.  Think not to settle down forever in any truth, but use it as a tent in which to pass a summer night, but build no house of it, or it will become your tomb.  When you first become aware of its insufficiency, and see some counter-truth looming up in the distance, then weep not, but rejoice:  it is the Lord’s voice saying, “Take up your bed and walk.”

Anyway, these passages seemed to cohere with and comment on themes I’ve been running with.  They’ve given me more food for thought.

Having shared Jim Richardson’s thoughtful comments when this first broke, I thought this follow up in the Sacramento Bee was worth sharing.