In our calendar today, we remember William Temple (Archbishop of Canterbury, 1881-1944).  Other sources I use also commemorate Leonard (a 6th century hermit).  Very little is actually known about Leonard.  He seems to have been a Frankish noble, converted by Remigius, who chose to become a monk instead when offered a bishopric by Clovis. (more…)

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Is anyone else as shocked as I am that King David is known as a hero of the faith?  I mean, give me a break.  There’s really no getting around how badly he messed up.

He’s at war.  His eye falls upon the wife of one of his officers.  I imagine he’s something like a major in our world.  David lusts after his wife, he takes her, and he tries to cover it up.

When that fails, he arranges to have the officer murdered.  And he doesn’t seem to care about collateral damage.  A lot of other people die so that his death can seem to be of natural, or at least war related, causes.

It’s hard to think of anything much lower than this. (more…)

Saints are added to, and sometimes subtracted from, the calendar of saints days (optionally) recognized by the Episcopal Church periodically at our triennial General Convention.  Florence Nightingale, for example, was added for trial use (you have to be approved twice in a row to be official) at one convention and removed from the calendar three years later at the next convention.

In theory, this was because those who opposed her inclusion were not aware of the deep connection between her faith and her ministry in the world, and because they believed (inaccurately) that later in life she lost her faith. (more…)

Today, in the calendar of the Episcopal Church, is the day we commemorate Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1109.  He was born in Aosta, in northern Italy, around 1033 CE.  He left home as a young man, traveling north, until he reached the Abbey of Bec in Normandy, where at Lanfranc’s urging, he embraced monastic life and took his vows in 1060 — succeeding Lanfranc as Prior in 1063 and later as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093.  So he was roughly 27 years old when he finally settled down.

Anselm is probably best known for his ontological argument for the existence of God — which I studied way back in college.  Basically it says that since God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived, and since we have the idea of God (as unconditional being) in our mind, such a being has to exist (or there would be something greater) and we could not even talk about such a being if it did not exist outside of our mind.

I’m probably not doing a fair summary of the argument, possibly because it has always seemed a circular and unconvincing argument. (more…)

“… Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

“Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so …
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
and death shall be no more …”

I thought of these words, from Dylan Thomas and John Donne respectively, when my friend and colleague, Marcia, died just before this All Saints’ Day.  I think they capture some of the tension I feel between my sense of loss and anger when someone dies and my belief in the promise of fullness of life with God in the communion of saints. (more…)

Well, if I understand correctly, today would have been a second class feast for James Otis Sargent Huntington.  Except that today is Thanksgiving Day, which takes precedence, so the feast is transferred to tomorrow.  He is the founder of the Order of the Holy Cross, the first permanent monastic community in the Episcopal Church (and very concerned with putting the spiritual life into action in daily life — one of the reasons the Episcopal Church has been so involved in stuff happening in the world).  But what caught my eye is a reading from his “Bargainers and Beggars,” on gifts and giving (Grace), which connects in my mind (though it feels a bit archaic to me) with my last piece (“Free In Christ“).  Here is what he said:

It belongs to God to give; it is our part to receive.  That is a very simple and primary truth.  Let us not on that account despise it.  It is the truth which our Lord began in teaching his disciples, that is, in teaching the world, including ourselves. (more…)

Do I believe in angels?

I found myself asking this question this morning as I prepared to read Matins in the church office.  And I wasn’t sure I could answer the question.

Certainly I believe in angels in the root sense of the word, the idea that there are messengers from God. (more…)