Prayer: Listening in on the Conversation within God

For years I have been saying that “Prayer is God reaching forth to God” and drawing us up into that process within the Trinity. This is a quotation of someone, though I can’t remember whom (maybe Kallistos Ware?).

Fr. Robert Barron, Catholic Priest and director of Word on Fire, says (in this video) that prayer is quieting ourselves to the point where we can overhear the conversation that the Son and the Father, through the Spirit, are having, about you.

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Rowan’s Rule

I have finally finised Rupert Shortt’s Rowan’s Rule (man, it is tough to finish a book with an 18-month old daughter!). I have blogged about it here a few times, but, as I thought about what to say about the book sort of as a summary, I realized that the following quotation, found on the last two pages of the book (pp 424-425), would suffice. Written in Latin, this is the tribute, composed by Richard Jenkyns, of the honorary Doctorate of Civil Law presented to ++Rowan at Oxford University in 2005:

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, all is vanity; and in various places the Bible warns us that the glory of this world is deceitful and transitory. And yet the office of bishop has a certain splendour about it, so that the traditional nolo episcopari used once to seem somewhat insincere. But these days a prelate’s life is less gracious and more burdensome, and so that man is especially to be praised who has the chance to spend his life in the shady groves of the academe, and yet consents to undertake the business of administering the Church. Moreover, the Archbishop of Canterbury has to unite opposites: he holds the first place among the Queen’s ministers in the order of precedence, and yet is required to despise worldly success; he is most exalted and most lowly, the shpherd of shepherds, the servant of the servants of God. We are indeed fortunate that at a time when the Church faces difficult challenges, we have a guide and governor who exhibits so many virtues. His writings embrace both divinity and human life, since as well as producing profound and penetrating theological studies he has written poems of subtle and delicate feeling. The Latin vates means both bard and seer; he merits that label, since he writes abotu God with a poetic imagination, while his verse finds the spirit of God in people and places. “Behold the great priest:” he has the mind of a theologian, a saintly smile, the eye of a poet, and the beard of a prophet. He knows that an honorary doctorate is to be reckoned of small worth and to be classed with that vanity of which Ecclesiastes wrote; he asks not for our praise but for our prayes. Yet it is right and proper that we should bestow such honours as are in our power on a good and wise man; and so it is with sincere warmth that we offer him this pledge of our affection and symbol of our hope….

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Is Sex the New Food?

See this thought provoking article by Brooklyn Presbyterian minister Matt Brown.

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Goodbye, Starbucks.

The day before yesterday was my last day as a Starbucks partner (after three and a half years). On so many levels, I will miss it (partner discounts, unlimited espresso shots while working, the regular customers in my store, my many partner friends, etc.).

However, even in my two days of subsequent freedom, I am realizing what is so destructive about the life of a Starbucks partner. The lack of any long-term pattern in one’s day to day, week to week schedule makes it impossible to live by any kind of rhythm or routine or rule. This is just one of many ways in which our capitalistic, publicly traded “free market” lifestyle of unbridled, consumeristic desire destroys true shalom.

Our “standard of living” as (post-)modern Americans is at an all-time high, but our quality of life an all-time low.

I am thankful to be “post-Starbucks” for many reasons, but cheif among them is that I no longer have to open my store at 4:15 AM on this random day, and then close it at 11:00 PM on that random day, with no rhyme or reason or pattern to the scheduling madness.

Which means that I can renew my efforts to read, pray, meditate, and run in disciplined ways, like yesterday and today, when I was able to pray the Daily Office, meditate, and exercise.

For me this kind of rule or rhythm is the foundation of everything else I do.

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Pastoral Instincts: “Yes” and “Amen”

As I re-enter full-time pastoral ministry, I find myself wanting to say to people from the pulpit, “All of God’s promises to you are ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen.'” (2 Cor 1:20).

How do I know this? Am I just an “optimist” who should join the Optimists’ Club of Austin?

Here is how I know. Look at how that verse ends: “All of God’s promises are ‘yes’ and ‘amen’ in Christ.” Christ who is the crucified, risen Christ. This means that the fulfilment of God’s promises to you requires death, as we live into the reality that is Jesus Christ.

That is, we know that God’s promises to us are ‘yes’ and ‘amen’ because we know that we are in Christ, the one in whom we know that God’s promises are ‘yes’ and ‘amen.’

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Hooker, Herbert, & “Contemplative Pragmatism”

More from Rupert Shortt’s autobiography of Rowan Williams, Rowan’s Rule (p 346-7):

“Richard Hooker … thought that the ordering of the household of faith required what Rowan terms ‘contemplative pragmatism:’ ‘pragmatic’ because sin makes the Church more muddled than the tidy-minded are prepared to allow, but ‘contemplative’ as well, owing to the ‘hidden action of God beneath the generally unbroken surface of the world’s processes.’ Hooker habitually warned his hearers of what an inexact science theology is. As Rowan reminds us, George Herbert gave a similar warning about spiritual experience. In other words, there should be room in the Church for those hanging on by their fingertips, as well as for the firm in faith.”

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+Stephen Sykes on Anglicanism

“Bishop Stephen Sykes once gave a crisp account of why he feels both attracted to and repelled by Anglicanism. On the positive side, he listed four chief strengths: a ‘quiet and confident Catholicism,’ an openness to a range of spiritual traditions, the exercise of authority with consent, and a developing baptismal ecclesiology. His dislikes included ‘the triviality an superficiality into which our eclectic openness can fall,’ the proneness of Anglicanism to fashionable causes and ‘the all-consuming ruthlessness of the campaigners, for whom politics is all.” – Rupert Shortt, Rowan’s Rule: the Biography of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I was particularly interested in this comment about “baptismal ecclesiology,” since the absence of such a thing is one of the main reasons (you might say “the efficient cause”) of why I finally left Presbtyerianism.

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