Archive for May, 2007

“Reading Judas”

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

I am reading the book with this title about the recently discovered Gospel of Judas. The authors are Elaine Pagels and Karen King, both good scholars and reliable. This Gospel appears to have been written to oppose the martyrdom theology of the ealrly Church. It severely and angrily condemns those who advocate accepting martyrdom for their faith. It describes them as advocating and doing human sacrifice of adults and children. The Gospel of Judas, and some other early writings as well, advocate a view in which the body is lost and the God within survives and rises. There is no resurrection of the body.

Pagels describes these works as showing the conflicts and quarrels in the early Church. This reminds me that the history of the church is a history of conflicts and quarrels. The present conflicts in the Anglican Communion are nothing new and nothing different. As then, so now.

I also can see that the longings and hopes expressed and the questions raised by the “heretics” are nothing new. They are longings and questions we are still dealling with. We call them “new age” religions these days. The language about the god with in and the inner search for god are much the same. Again, as then, so now.

Pagels also says the the views of the “orthodox” were chosen to support episcopal hegemony. I would like to take a somewhat gentler view, given that what we have is that episcopal hegemony.

Pagels says:

Leaders like Irenaeus devoted decades of their lives to extablishing the structures of reed, canon, clergy, beleiving that the movement’s survival depended on them–and in some ways they may have been right, for there are limits to how many different views any group can accomodate, perhaps especially in times of trouble. But the recently discovered texts show us what was lsot when they consolidated these institutions and silenced so many early christian voices.

The question of “how many different views any group can accomodate” is precisely the question that lies before us in the Anglican Communion in these days.

All in all, worthwhile reading. I may need to go find some of the other writings from Nag Hammadi to read.

More Church

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

Sunday before last, at the adult ed I just listened, but it was mostly didactic anyway. Last Sunday there was more discussion and I was able to join in. I served as a complement to Fr Joe’s teaching, interjecting comments and contributions. I said my usual lain and simple stuff. Since the sessions were about the Trinity, simplicity was a good thing. 🙂 Anyway I let my light shine.

And it was well received. Several people came to me and thanked me and praised my contributions. Fr Joe thanked me too; it was clear he valued my contributions. It was a little like teamwork. But this was the last adult ed of the season. So that was the end of that for now.

So I am feeling impatient to move ahead. Next Sunday is the parish picnic. I will see if I can form some social relationships. I did put on a temporary name tag last Sunday. I also conversed with Nancy the Deacon. I told her much of my story and let on that I am a priest. Joe actually said that to the adult ed group last Sunday too. So I guess I am out of that closet.

I am also impatient to move ahead as a priest. I really should find opportunities to do spiritual direction. It’s one of my best skills and my holiest. I mean that in the sense that i learn and grow in the spirit and in a certain holiness in doing it. I am not sure that my apartment is fit to have guests. the only really comfortable furniture is in the bedroom. I don’t use the rest of the house, or at least the living room, that much. A relationship with a parish or center where I could use a room would be better. But it needs to be in a place I can get to without a car.

I should also connect with the diocese. I guess I really should write a letter to my Bishop, with a copy to the local Bishop. OK, get to work on that, quick smart.

A Weirdness

Friday, May 4th, 2007

I didn’t sleep well last night. I had a long dream about a dessert festival in which I ate small bits of a large number of sweet dishes, most of them chocolate. I was awakened by florid indigestion. At least it didn’t raise my blood sugar. 🙂

Cognitive Dissident

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

The principle, that religion is something we do rather then something we think or believe, raises another question for me, the difference between act and intention. Our acts result in what may not have been intended. “The helping hand strikes again.” This is true in systemic as well as individual instances; indeed I suspect it inheres right at the junction of the two. We all have good intentions for the world and its wellbeing, but collectively we are trashing our world. I am thinking not only of our physical environment, where it is now pretty obvious, but of the moral and spiritual environment. Advertising and the media look to me to have seriously degraded our moral environment. They use sex and greed to sell their product, and we become so inured to it that we stop noticing what it does.

We are also led to believe in our intentions and not look at the results of our acts. We believe in it when we “make nice,” what I call pollyannafication. All will be well if we intend well. This is a bamboozlement laid on us by our culture and its values. If religion is what we do, then maybe we are what we do. We need to be looking at the results and using them to critique our culture and its values. Repentance for our part in the depredations should form a part in this, and amendment of life as well.

What happens to our prayer in the midst of this culture? There are all the appeals to what St Augustine called our concupiscence. But what I notice is the noise. I ride the bus to work every day and the MARTA buses now have televisions. This is very distracting. Mostly I am trying to read and it invades my consciousness. God knows what it would be like to try to pray. And then there are the other people who are equally noisy. Lots of loud talk. And people on their cell phones. I call them yappies, people who need to be talking all the time in order to maintain self-existence.

The noise most affects the most fundamental prayer.
[what is prayer at depth?
[science and prayer
[intellect and study in prayer]


Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

The church thing is going well. My ride is vanishing for two weeks but I have made a discovery. One of the priests talked last Sunday at announcement time about the adult discussion group that takes place during Sunday School before the 11 am Eucharist. So there is adult ed.

I am continuing to experience relief from depression. It was clearly an important thing for me to find my way to worship again. I am reminded that religion is something we do much more that something we think of believe. We practice religion.

Years ago I was told that William Temple said that Christianity is the most materialistic of religions. So true. Sacraments with material means, bread and wine, water, oil, and physical touch. I needed to get to church, really needed it, for my survival as a person, as God’s creature.