Sunday, March 29, 2009

proof texting

Hebrews 5:5-10

Our celebrant began his sermon with the opening lines of L. P. Hartley's novel The Go-Between: "The Past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." He was referencing today's lesson from Hebrews, in which over a third of the epistle quotes the Old Testament

He launched into one of his erudite discourses, analyzing the points taken from the liturgy for Yom Kippur, providing a thorough examination of the rights and regulations of the tribe of Levi, the Order of Melchizedek and Abraham, all proving that it was certainly okay for Jesus to be the High Priest as well as the slaughtered sin offering.

He spoke of this quoting practice as it applied to the writer of Hebrews. The writer felt strongly that his listeners needed insight into exactly what God had done in Jesus Christ, but today we might label it "proof texting" (finding a piece of scripture that seems to support what you've decided you already believe.) He told an amusing anecdote of a fellow who brought a finished sermon to him and asked him to supply a Bible text to support his thoughts.

But our celebrant went on to explain that the opposite approach "anti proof texting" is where we simply ignore the scriptural passages that don't support what we've decided we already believe. 

His implication was that both practices are lazy ways to approach an understanding of what God is doing in the world. They do not engage the text, they simply use or discard it. "Even disagreement is a form of engagement." he explained.

Ahhh now there's hope for me. I can tell.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Mark 8:31-38

Our celebrant this morning focused his remarks on Peter, acknowledging that in the lesson previous to today's Peter was the only disciple to proclaim Jesus as "Messiah", seemingly the only one to get it

How quickly things change... One minute you're flavor of the month, the next, you're Satan incarnate. But the point he was making was that Peter had certain preconceived ideas about what Messiah meant, and suffering and dying did not fit the job description. Expectations... such a problem. For all of us.

Our preacher took the concept further: how many times do we pigeon-hole groups (or individuals) with the sweeping generalizations of "they" always... fill-in-the-blank... ? We project our perceptions onto the other, and then can't handle it when they don't fit the projection.

We do it with God. 

If God doesn't conform to our image of who or what God should do or be, we say things like "I could never believe in a God who would... fill-in-the-blank. How do we know what God does or does not do? He acts in ways beyond our human comprehension. But because it is all beyond us, that's just too hard to take. So we place finite limits on the infinite. 

God-in-a-box. Doesn't work. Never has, never will, but we still keep trying. 

Thursday, March 05, 2009

commercial message

I'm not usually one to endorse or advertise products, but a friend at Jade Music (their website is here) or here, sent me the artwork for a great deal they're having this month: for one week only you can download 99 "relaxing" songs for 99 cents, the deal of the day at on March 24th. After that week, the price for the mp3 bundle goes back up to $7.99. 

For those of us who want to slow down during Lent, this could be a perfect way to get in the right frame of mind for that.

As a music publisher, Jade has a wide range of sacred and classical music, and this offer includes instrumental and chant music from their already published albums: Hildegard von Bingen, Bach, Vivaldi, Messiaen, Faure... the list goes on. If you want to hear some of their stuff go to youtube and you can listen to selections from their latest chant album.

Monday, March 02, 2009


I have always loved to travel... it's just in my DNA. Born into a Navy family, I was traveling cross-country from the day of my conception. I married Navy men, I was a Navy woman. I've never lived in one house or apartment longer than a few years. I don't even hate "moving house" like most people; in fact, if I don't move house, I have to move furniture to give me the illusion.

So this whirlwind trip to Wyoming has given me the moving bug again. 

Last night was the first night in a week that I've slept in the same bed twice. Not a problem, the bed-swapping... but the suitcase repacking has been another story. Each day I've had a new group to meet, a new set of materials to organize/bring to the table. And I keep mixing things up and forgetting. Some of what I need is always packed in my suitcase which is stored elsewhere in the back of somebody's car.

It has been a good exercise in letting go of expectations (my own of myself) and working with what I had on hand. My grandmother's words kept echoing in my ears... Yankees make do or do without

I prepared a lot for this trip. In advance. I had little speeches, hands-on exercises, audio-visual meditations, booklets and handouts, gifts for the various hosts and hostesses... and then everything just didn't want to work the way I planned it. I could be very smug and say I "handled it well" but the truth is, I have no clue whether I did or not. I got through it. And the best lesson was that I trusted it would be okay, be enough, and maybe it was.

We can only guess at the ramifications of our interactions with each other. I do know I've been given more than I gave, whatever that was... and I've got one more gig to go until I get back on the plane Wednesday. But for now, I'm catching up with what's been going on in the rest of the universe while I've been traveling...