Posted on: April 27th, 2012 On Humility & Courage (by Tarah Van de Wiele)

What an excellent little piece by my brilliant friend Tarah Van de Wiele.

In it she wittily defends the “pure,” theoretical character of academic theology.

I would only add, as a priest involved in academic study myself, that, in addition to the three justifications she gives for her continued pure research, theology is prayer.

Every time Tarah looks up a dusty old term in some thick lexicon, every time she penetrates into the dense obscurity of a footnote, every time she takes notes on her reading … she is busy at the work of that transformative catalyst called prayer or contemplation.

This contemplative dimension of study is important for me in particular because of the affect it has on my preaching, my prayer, my pastoral conversation, my service at the altar. Not so much in terms of new information factoids, but more in the sense of letting the connections, the fecundities, settle down into my soul.

One last point. Is this kind of contemplative transformation “practical?” Certainly not in terms of our secular world. However, for those called to and gifted for this kind of labor, it provides the sort of motivation, clarity, and power which God does, indeed, use to change the world.


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Posted on: April 16th, 2012 Jeremy Taylor & Gay Issues

Yesterday in my Christian Formation class at Christ Church I made the case that the Bible is not as clear as I used to think on matters of “homosexuality.” Next week I will argue, however, on the basis of Romans 1 as well as the “narrative arc of Scripture,” in harmony with the consensus of catholic tradition, that same sex practice should not be sanctioned by the Church.

Hence, same sex issues are on my mind & heart today. It is in that context that I read this morning in my personal study time this excerpt from Jeremy Taylor‘s A Sermon on the Marriage Ring:

Nothing can sweeten felicity itself but love. But, when a man dwells in love, then the breasts of his wife are pleasant as the droppings of the hill of Hermon, her eyes are fair as the light of Heaven, she is a fountain sealed, and he can quench his thirst and ease his cares, and lay his sorrows down upon her lap, and can retire home to his sanctuary and refectory and his gardens of sweetness and chaste refreshments. No man can tell, but he that loves his children, how many delicious accents make a man’s heart dance in the pretty conversation of those dear pledges; their childishness, their stammering, their little angers, their innocence, their imperfections, their necessities, are so many emanations of joy and comfort to him that delights in their persons and society.

But he that loves not his wife and children feeds a lioness at home, and broods over a nest of sorrows; and blessing itself cannot make him happy; so that all the commandments of God enjoining a man to “love his wife” are nothing but so many necessities of capacity and joy. She that loves is safe, and he that loves is joyful. Love is a union of all things excellent; it contains in it proportion and satisfaction, and rest and confidence.

Could an analogous sermon be preached at a same sex “wedding?” Hard (for me) to imagine. Perhaps my horizons need to be broadened? I’m open. Skeptical, but open.

I also was reminded this morning that Taylor staunchly resisted the “pro-divorce” views of that Presbyterian Puritan John Milton.

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