Thoughts for the week of 26 July

I have two things to share today.

The first is this quote from Mark Barrett, OSB, a monk of Worth Abbey in Sussex, from his book Crossing: Reclaiming the Landscape of Our Lives (US edition: Morehouse, 2001). I read this last night as part of my winding-down reading.

“Commitment is a response, not an initiative. Unless there is something that evokes from us a desire to be committed we will never be able to make that leap. Underpinning all commitments by men and women is the belief that God is committed to us. We can see all too clearly that in the absence of the rising sun of salvation, we do not have the confidence to leap on our own.” (p. 47)

The second thing is this. Back when I was much younger we had a choral recitation at my old grade school where we were made to recite in parts a poem called “The Creation,” by James Weldon Johnson. I later realized he was the one who wrote the hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” And now, I learned that “The Creation” was actually one of Johnson’s attempts to capture, on the printed page, the cadences and language of the African-American preachers of the early days. The tradition still lives on–surprisingly, in the way that then-presidential candidate Barack Obama gave his stump speeches.

“The Creation” starts at page 17 of this e-book, but the others are worth reading too. And if you can read them aloud, all the better. It’s more moving that way.

But wait! There’s more!

The first time I discovered this song, I found it to be one of the most moving tunes from Bernstein, alongside “Somewhere” from West Side Story and the first movement of the Chichester Psalms.

Have a great week everyone!

So here’s where the story continues

A friend noted that I have not been updating this space of late, so I will be happy to do so.

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One thing is clear: I no longer hold some of the same views I have had before after realizing how dangerous or untenable they are. It is not that I am afraid of being on the edge; rather, I realized that as “being on the edge” becomes nothing more than being on one side of a polarity, it becomes more and more difficult to find common ground.

So for instance, groups influenced by secular political categories that are running parts of the Christian world these days seem to be forgetting that what they believe (faith) is at some point distinct from how they act on it (order). When what they do, not what they believe, threatens the ability of Christians everywhere to witness to the Gospel, it should be possible to say “Slow down!” and ask for some time to think.

Whatever they believe, say, about sexuality, do have some common ground in that–at some point–they share a common discursive space (the Church) and language (theology) but start from different understandings that are influenced by the secular political order.

These understandings, of course, are where what they do arise. The danger is that if Christians do not reflect enough on what we do in light of what we believe and how to dialogue with those who think differently from us, what we do will not necessarily lead to what we hope to see realized. But it requires that we should, at least, agree to disagree on what we do in some things… and try to find where we can come to fuller agreement.

Which is why the shape of worship/liturgy has always been something I have thought about. The “worship wars” have come home to me sometimes where I sit. But I think it may help to understand that precisely the grammar of worship, as James K.A. Smith suggests in his latest book Desiring the Kingdom, may put into question the origins of understandings we may have about how the Church should act in the world and for whom.

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Incidentally, I came across this sermon from Derek’s wife, an Episcopal priest, which is a very good commentary on the Pauline statement on Christ being the image of the invisible God, in the light of Trinitarian theology. The same passage supplied the theological foundations for Jean-Luc Marion‘s own reflections on the icon and the idol in God Without Being.

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Here’s where the story continues: I think the shape of my own response to God’s call has become clearer of late. Where it leads me, only God knows.

SPECIAL REPORT: UP Law students attacked at Shakey’s Katipunan

At 1845 hrs today, a group of four unknown assailants entered Shakey’s Katipunan and injured two members of the UP College of Law Office of Legal Aid (OLA) team. The team was having a dinner meeting when the assailants entered the restaurant. Using blunt weapons, the assailants attacked two of the legal aid team. They escaped through the front and side entrances of the restaurant less than two minutes later, leaving on a green old model Lancer whose plate number ended in 742.

UP Dean Marvic Leonen believes that the attack may have been the result of a fraternity war between the Upsilon Sigma Phi and Sigma Rho fraternities. The team says that the assailants were unknown to them, but the assailants left behind one hood and several blunt weapons.

As of this writing, police are on the scene to conduct the investigation. 30

I was there when this happened.