A Refreshing Blend of the Old and New…

October 12, 2008

So this Sunday morning I opted for the early service at an Anglican church in an old neighborhood in Englewood and highly recommended by Susan and Doug (which means something is really going on there).

Filled with anticipation of what the morning might bring, I found the small church (in a building that formerly housed a Methodist church) and joined 20 others for worship and the Eucharist.  

The Old (as in not contemporary Evangelicalism):

Procession of the cross.  Vestments worn by the clergy. Sign of the cross. Short but meaningful and impacting liturgy.  Kneeling.  Older hymns.  Proceeding to the front for communion (wine not grape juice).  Standing during the reading of the Gospel passage. 

The New (depending on one’s perspective):

Contemporary songs capturing the heart of David for today’s generation.  Projectors with liturgy and lyrics.  Arms raised while singing and in prayer.  Comfy chairs.  Vocal prayers offered by almost everyone in attendance.  Blue jeans.

Whether it was the ancient story of God’s capturing David’s heart, or the contemporary rendition of redemption as related by the guest speaker.  Whether it was old hymn, ingrained in my being, or the contemporary beat and verbal expression of that same thanksgiving.  Whether it was the participation in the ancient ritual of the Eucharist, or the connection with many new faces and hearts as prayers were poured out.  Whether it was praying as Christ taught us to pray so long ago, or doing it while holding the hand of my new friend (relatively new friend) – or all of the experiences blended together.  Connected and rooted with with God’s people throughout the ages and stumbling through life today.  Like David before me and likely everyone in that room – I felt the pursuit of God and the grace and mercy that accompanies His relentless calling of us to the wedding feast.

…  my soul is restored, I will not fear, for the Lord is with me, my cup overflows, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever…


A Short Note On Sunshine

October 12, 2008

At night the sun’s rays are blocked.  Yes. The sun not directly felt, but warmth there all the same.  But the darkness of night does invoke a kind of separation from the light.  But the light is still there.  Certain things best done at night, sleep, rest, regeneration.  Waking in the morning can be a bit jarring, readjustment to the light.

But rising early and watching the sky slowly light up refreshes the spirit – a long stretch and yawn – revitalizing one to take on the day.  Or maybe not quite that, but rather a joining with the morning sky, settled, at peace, content, grounded.

On Mountains…

September 30, 2008

Funny thing about mountains…  there are no native signs pointing the way to the top, no loud speakers blaring “climb me”, nor does the persistent climber find herself rewarded at the top with a little medal.  And yet we are compelled, pulled, drawn to the challenge… to climb to the top.  To reach the apex, arms extended in the air in victory, not victory over another competitor, victory over our own internal struggles.

Yet we cannot live on the mountaintop, no protection from the elements, no place to grow food, no room to move and breathe.  We must live in the valley, knowing the mountain rests in the distance.  

So what of that journey up and down?  What to make of the stumbles along the way?  What to make of the moments when we fear we are lost?  What to make of the worry that we have not the stamina or have not carefully packed for the journey?  What to make of the amazing flowers that thrive close to the summit? Where does that exhilaration come from?  That extreme and powerful sense of happiness, no happiness is not the right word, connection with something.  Is it the stupendous view?  Is it the sense of standing on top of the world?  Is it the sense of accomplishment, success, discovery?  What of the tears at the top, tears of joy, tears of relief that the stumble along the way did not land in a steep and potentially deadly fall?

And what do we bring down?  How does life in the valley change?  Recently Erwin McManus criticized the Promise Keepers events (events that he participated in).  He appauded the experinece that was created, but criticized the events since the “men need more than an annual experience.  They need a process to help them become the kind of people they want to become” (WIE Aug-Oct 2008 p 68).  Perhaps his assessment of Promise Keepers is correct.  But do we need a 10-step program to retain what was gleaned on that mountain top?

Maybe the process isn’t a process, but a way of living.  Maybe we don’t seek the mountain top for the sake of the experience.  Maybe the external experience is simply a confirmation of the internal.  A reminder that we have learned to negotiate the rocky field.  That we stopped to think carefully about how to cross the river.  That we listened to our bodies and stopped to rest and drink water.  That we persisted to reach the top and not just that plateau that looked like the top.  That we sought advice from others on the best path to follow.  Maybe that rocky mountain high is simply confirmation that we carefully considered the options, picked the wise path, and persistently followed to it’s conclusion.  Perhaps that sense of serenity, contentment, and relief, is just the confirmation of choosing the right path.  And in choosing that right path, finding that we have changed, and changed permanently, and changed for the better.

Back to Blackburn

August 12, 2008

Wow!  Been a year since my last post.  But I am back at least today and perhaps later this week as well.

Lot to chew on in Blacburn’s “Being Good,”  but this is what caught my attention last night.  In making the distinction between an ethical climate and a moralistic one, Blackburn observes, “one peculiarity of our present climate is that we care much more about our rights than about our ‘good.’  For previous thinkers about ethics, such as those who wrote the Upanishads, or Confucius, or Plato, or the founds or the Christian tradition, the central concern was the state of one’s soul, meaning some personal state of justice or harmony.  Such a state might include resignation and renunciation, or detachment, or obedience, or knowledge, especially self-knowledge.” (p. 4).

Now I have no intention of specifically addressing his topic, rather I was struck by he emphasis on self-knowledge.  Yes we all know our preferences like technology (Mac), music (Terrence Blanchard) or ice cream (cookies & cream ice cream cake from BR).  But do we know ourselves?  Can we map the terrain of our own soul.  Or is it just a baffling place that sends us fleeing to the hills?

I once had an altercation with someone I like and respect.  It should not have blown up to the degree that it did.  It took a bit of digging and ruminating until I found ‘it.’  So now I walk away with a deeper understanding of who I am and a greater sensitivity to the humanness of those around me.

Lest I puff myself up too much, I must acknowledge that most days are spent following my preferences (and avoiding the mint chocolate Dips in the freezer).  I enjoy my family, friends, and work.  I pursue intellectual topics that I find stimulating.  Perhaps I should spend a bit more time with compass, paper, and pencil in hand.

Butter in the Fridge?

September 16, 2007

Quotes from Simon Blackburn’s “Truth: A Guide”

“…we can also describe ourselves as people who want to know what happened, or as people who want to find the truth, and a good thing too.” – p. 164

“And only what is true explains what happens.” – p. 184

A Satisfying Saturday Afternoon…

September 8, 2007

A cup of tea (English style), jazz in the background, deciphering Blackburn’s “interpretation” of Nietzsche!

Note:  The category “Simon Says…” refers to musings that sprung from Simon Blackburn’s Truth:  A Guide.

Minimizing Truth

September 7, 2007

“What is truth?” – is the classic question Pilate asked of Jesus.  Is truth something internal to me such that I determine what is true.  If I believe it, it is true.  Astrology is true.  Astrology is not true.  Relativistic confusion abounds.

Or is truth outside of me?  Is there some “other” out there?  A form. A logos. A God. A universal code to which all things must aspire?  Thus some more enlightened, whether it be in science, history, language, ethics, are more right in their assessment of what is true about the world?

Of is there really a third way, another lense through which to peer such that truth is neither inside us nor outside us.  Rather truth is just not.  Perhaps when we say “x is true” we are really saying “x is the case.”  And if I present x to the public sphere for investigation, the results will confirm that “x is the case.” 

For instance, the temperature at 9News in denver on Sept 7th at 8:24 am is 62 degress Farenheit.  I make that claim and you and your friends can go confirm that it is or it is not.  And interestingly, in the process you will not use an anemometer (mearsures wind velocity)or a barometer (measures atmospheric pressure).  You will use a specific instrument that measures temperature.  You will use the investigative tools that are germane or local to the issue at hand.  Moreover, in this instance, the measurement of temperature is to a scale that has been instituted by “just us humans.”  There is no other “temperature logos” out there – “just us.”

So if I take this minimalist conception and apply it to some of Jesus sayings, what do I find?  Often Jesus says “I tell you the truth…”  And in context he’s saying “this did happen or was said and you should go investigate the facts to indeed confirm that x is the case”  In this context (and yes I fully admit Jesus uses “truth” in may other contexts and I’ll get to that later) can this minimalist view of truth fit with Jesus’ use of language?