Thursday, February 26, 2009

Words that resonate with my experience

Authorities I trust, from Wendell Berry to Sri Ramakrishna, all remind me that the particular is the only means we have for touching the universal. We arrive at what is true for all by committing ourselves to particular beliefs, tasks, persons, and places that are true for us.

Garret Keizer, A Dresser of Sycamore Trees: The Finding of a Ministry

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What the Fathers Sought most of all was their own true self, in Christ. And in order to do this, they had to reject completely the false, formal self, fabricated under social compulsion 'in the world.' They sought a way to God that was uncharted and freely chosen, not inherited from others who had it mapped out beforehand. They sought out a God whom they alone could find, not one who was 'given' in a set, stereotyped form by somebody else.

Thomas Merton, The Wisdom of the Desert

Monday, February 23, 2009

Great News for St. Andrew's

Lorne Calvert, former premier of Saskatchewan and a United Church minister, will become the principal of St. Andrew's college, the United church seminary at the U of S. Wonderful, wonderful news for the school.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Looking to Ash Wednesday

I love the blog The Painted Prayerbook. I love the way Jan Richardson sees the lectionary readings with a fresh eye and the connections she makes with art. And I love her art. Her posting for Ash Wednesday again prompts me to think in new ways about the day.

Here is a taste:

Ash Wednesday beckons us to cross over the threshold into a season that’s all about working through the chaos to discover what is essential. The ashes that lead us into this season remind us where we have come from. They beckon us to consider what is most basic to us, what is elemental, what survives after all that is extraneous is burned away. With its images of ashes and wilderness, Lent challenges us to ponder what we have filled our lives with: habits, practices, possessions, ways of being that have accumulated, encroached, invaded, accreted, layer upon layer, becoming a pattern of chaos that threatens to insulate us and dull us to the presence of God.

You can read the rest here.

Planning your day

My friend Lorraine just put this on facebook and I love it - gotta share:

"I arise in the morning torn between the desire to savour the world or save the world. This makes it hard to plan my day."

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I went to the Martha Retreat Centre today for a quiet day. I went after breakfast and stayed until a little after 3:00. The sisters are wonderfully hospitable. They provide you with a room and feed you good food and leave you alone so you can enjoy the silence. It went by so quickly I was stunned. The quality of silence there is really embracing...I love it there and don't know why I don't go more often.

I did have a moment though when I wanted to check something on the internet and was jerked by the realization that I didn't have internet access. I had a picture in my head of me sneaking into the office to 'borrow' their computer and then I breathed deep and let the impulse go. The funny thing is that now I can't even remember what seemed so important that I had to check it right then.

When I got back a friend had posted this link on facebook. I think that there is real truth to this story on the impact of internet access:

So please don't confuse what I have to say for that tired Luddite screed about how technology is ruining us. It isn't.

Except it just might.

Because of technology, we never have to be alone anymore. And that's the problem.

So for all sorts of reasons I'm grateful to the Sisters of St. Martha for their charism of hospitality and their gift of silence.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More on The Wrestler

Here is another take on the religious symbols in The Wrestler via The Revealer. Thanks to Bene for the suggestion.

The Wrestler is a movie all about redemptive suffering, as we see the central role that dramatized violence plays in the Ram's life. At a couple points this is made perhaps too clear, as in an early scene where Randy shows Cassidy the scars his career has left him with. She responds by quoting Isaiah 53:5 by way of The Passion of the Christ's opening epigraph: "He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; by His wounds we are healed." She makes the connection even more clear moments later, dubbing Randy "the sacrificial Ram," and later in the film we see a tattoo in the center of his back of Jesus crowned with thorns. Clearly, the film wants us to view wrestling as a spectacle of redemptive suffering.

Read the rest here.

Reading the Religious in The Wrestler

I just discovered this on-line journal Religion Dispatches and what I've read so far is neat. You have to love a journal with the by-line "exhilarating the breakfast table since 2008."

There is a fascinating review of the movie The Wrestler looking at the religious symbolism and the religious ideas published yesterday. Here is a little taste of it.

Cassidy and Randy each work double lives, between their bodies as commodities and their bodies that have to pay the rent and support their children. Somewhere in all the meat are identities, struggling for birth. Each carries multiple names: Cassidy is “Pam,” while Randy “The Ram” Robinson is actually “Robin Raminski”—his character’s complexity unveils at least three names, as The Ram, Randy, and Robin. Yet, as with religion itself, and multitudes of other social structures, the crux of the matter of identity is the human body in all its aged protuberances, its scarified flesh, its rotund, risqué, and otherwise resolute features.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Roger Ebert has a really wonderful blog post about dogs here. I'm wiping my tears now.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Smile and Wave

I haven't written much lately and I'm feeling the loss. I've been feeling so fragmented lately though from lots of different work things and a lot of people time. Some of these folks are going through hard times too. A friend told me that when she visits her grandmother in the nursing home her son walks in saying, 'smile and wave, boys, smile and wave.' Her boys are a riot and I love that they realize at a young age that many of these seniors brighten at the sight of boys with big grins. But the words took on a different meaning for me. I'm an extrovert - no doubt about that - but when I spend a lot of time with lots of people I start to feel like there is nothing holding me together at the core. And then I don't feel like I'm always present to people. Life becomes a bit of 'smile and wave boys.' Reading week has begun though and I'm looking forward to some quiet time working at home to catch up on admin work and get my lenten prep done. I was away ten days ago at a conference and I haven't finished unpacking yet so I'm hoping to get that done too. There will be time spent with folks in my week too but I'm hoping that after some time putzing in my house I won't be just smiling and waving.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Twenty Years Ago Today

Barbara Harris was the first woman consecrated a bishop in the Episcopal Church USA. She has always been a hero of mine!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Healing Simon Peter's Mother-in-law

I have to confess that the gospel for this morning has always irritated me. Jesus heals a woman and immediately she starts waiting on the men. But over at The Painted Prayerbook Jan Richardson gave me a whole different way to read this text:

Here is an exerpt:

Here we see the domestic Jesus, the intimate Jesus. Crossing from the house of worship into the home of Simon, standing at the bed of a woman whose body has been disordered by illness, Jesus conveys with his outstretched hand that there is no sphere that he does not control, no suffering that is beneath him to heal, no place where he does not desire wholeness and peace. He makes clear that his power is present in every realm, the home no less than the synagogue. He extends his healing to all, the woman in the grip of a fever no less than the man in the clutch of an unclean spirit.

There is no place, no person, unworthy of a miracle.

Read the rest here.