Posted on: January 23rd, 2009 Big Picture Outline of Acts

Here’s the big picture outline of the book of Acts we are using at St. Mark’s for our Sunday afternoon study group:

Outline of the Book of Acts

I.    Prologue: 1:1-5
II.    Initial Events 1:6-26
III.    Birth of the Church in Jerusalem 2:1 – 5:42
IV.    Beginning of Persecution: 6:1 – 9:31
V.    Spread of Christianity to the Gentiles 9:32 – 12:25
VI.    Paul’s 1st Missionary Journey 13:1 – 15:41
VII.    Paul’s 2nd Missionary Journey 16:1 – 18:23
VIII.    Paul’s 3rd Missionary Journey (primarily Ephesus) 18:24 – 20:6
IX.    Paul’s Journey to Jerusalem 20:7 – 21:17
X.    Paul in Jerusalem 21:18 – 23:35
XI.    Paul before Felix, Festus, and Agrippa 24:1 – 26:32
XII.    Paul’s Journey to Rome 27:1 – 28:31

If you would like a word doc of this outline, email me at

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Posted on: November 20th, 2008 Thoreau, Hadot, & Philosophy

“Nowadays, there are philosophy professors, but no philosophers.” -Thoreau, Walden

As usual, Thoreau is not far from the truth. If there are philosophers

today, and if Pierre Hadot is right, then surely they are priests, monks, nuns.

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Posted on: November 18th, 2008 Andy Doyle (and Anglicanism) on Scripture

It is wonderful to see our (ie, the Episcopal Diocese of Texas’) bishop coadjutor-elect Andy Doyle reflect seriously and faithfully on Holy Scripture. See here and here.

He is surely correct that, without the whole community of God’s people reading and grappling with Scripture on a day-in, day-out basis, we have little realistic hope to see God work powerfully among us in unity.

In fact, from everything I have studied and experienced, it seems to me that this is the primary difference between Anglicanism on the one hand, and evangelicalism and the Reformed tradition on the other, with respect to thinking about Scripture.

I have written here and elsewhere about how Anglicanism sees Scripture as having its primary context in the corporate worship of God. What I have realized more recently however is that the great vision of Anglicanism (to name three disparate examples: Thomas Cranmer, Philip Turner, and Andy Doyle) is to have the full people of God reading the Bible together in such a way that the narrative of Scripture — what is called the “rule of faith” as summarized by the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds — comes to saturate our lives.

Bishop Tom Wright provides a good example of this emphasis on narrative or story within the whole of the liturgy here (about half way through the video).

For Anglicanism, the least important mode of imbibing Scripture is what you might call “the library-based study of Scripture.” Important, yes, for scholars (doctors of the church, perhaps) or for someone who heard something in gathered worship who then wants a question answered or who wants to dig deeper, but secondary to the liturgical reading of God’s word, both in the mode of proclamation within the Eucharist, as well as in the more meditative, lectio divina mode of the Daily Office (whether in a community or in spatial isolation from the community).

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Posted on: August 27th, 2008 Goodbye, Edinburgh; Hello, Canterbury.

About nine months ago, I wrote a document (intended for various official and unofficial audiences) explaining my reasons for leaving the South Texas Presbytery of the PCA and pursuing Holy Orders in the Anglican tradition, in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

This list included three sets of reasons: theological reasons, “local / institutional / missional reasons” (having to do with the PCA churches here in Austin, and their missional outreach to the city), and “personal / providential / vocational reasons” (having to do with where Bouquet and I are personally in life, career, etc.).

Below I am pasting the theological reasons from this document. It seems that there is now, several months after demitting my ordination in the PCA (in my former presbytery), enough emotional distance between my Presbyterian brothers and me that it is not unwise to do this at this time.

The only caveat I would add is that, in addition to these reasons below, an additional “watershed issue” leading to my move was the nature of the church’s connection to the apostles. Beyond the standard PCA view that the church is apostolic simply in the sense that her doctrine is (hopefully) apostolic, I believe that the church is also apostolic in the sense that we have a living, organic connection to the apostles through the liturgy / sacraments and through the historic episcopate.

The current crises in the PCA have helped to clarify my views. I now realize that I am not comfortable in American Presbyterianism, which sees the principle of unity in the church as the system of doctrine known as the Westminster Standards.

Note: much of this conviction has grown out of reading Schmemann, Ziziuolas, and de Lubac, or rather the Fathers through de Lubac (and discussing them with others, I might add). And not just reading them, but reading them in the light of the current controversies in the PCA having to do with “the Federal Vision” and “the New Perspective on Paul.”

A. Liturgy / full sacramentality.

  1. We worship god through the material stuff of creation. (Adam in garden.)
  2. Thus, worship is radically embodied & participatory.
  3. Baptism is way more mysteriously important than our tradition seems to think.
  4. Liturgy is primary theology, which means that our theology is based not only on the Bible, but also on the liturgy. But American Presbyterianism cannot embrace this.

B. Ecclesiology.

  1. The church is an extension of the incarnation in and to this world.
  2. The church is a family, and therefore not bound by ideology / correct doctrine beyond the level of the creeds (see below: this makes me a non-confessional Christian).
  3. Bishops versus courts.
  • a. If the church is a family, then it makes sense that a person (like a father … or a divine Father) is what constitutes the church and holds it together. (Zizioulas)
  • b. If the church is unified primarily by doctrinal agreement, however, then it does make sense that it should be governed by “courts.”

C. All of this can be thought of as catholicity, as opposed to confessionalism.

  1. Catholicity does not downplay doctrine, but it does prioritize creedal doctrine.
  2. Confessionalism elevates sectarian doctrines, held by only one branch of the church, to the role of ecclesial boundary marker. I now know that I cannot embrace this.

D. All of this makes me a historic Anglican. As of right now, the Episcopal Church is the best expression of historic Anglicanism, given that:

  1. It is in communion with Canterbury;
  2. The Windsor Report provides a path forward for orthodox Christians within TEC. Note: Bp. Don Wimberly, bishop of TX, strongly supports the Windsor approach.
  3. My bishop is orthodox, and beyond this is even committed to the Windsor Process.
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Posted on: May 2nd, 2008 Watershed Issue #1: Church as Incarnation

In navigating the waters between Presbyterianism and Anglicanism, I have come to see that one watershed divide between the liturgical churches of the “great tradition” and more Reformational churches is the issue of whether the church is the continued incarnation of Christ on the earth.

I have come to land on the side of the issue that does affirm that this claim is an true characteristic of the church, that the church is incarnational in this way.

I offer below two patristic quotations (thanks to Doug Harrison) which testify to ancient precedent in seeing the church in this way. The first is from St. Augustine:

“The Body of Christ,” you are told, and you answer, “Amen.” Be members then of the Body of Christ that your Amen may be true. Why is this mystery accomplished with bread? We shall say nothing of our own about it, rather let us hear the Apostle, who speaking of the sacrament says: “We being many are one body, one bread.” Understand and rejoice. Unity, devotion, and charity! One bread: and what is this one bread? One body made up of many. Consider that the bread is not made of one grain alone, but of many. During the time of exorcism, your were, so to say, in the mill. At baptism you
were wetted with water. Then the Holy Spirit came into like the fire which bakes the dough. Be then what you see and receive what you are. — St. Augustine, Sermon 272 (quoted in Henri de Lubac Catholicism, p 37 – 38).

The second is from chapter 9 of the Didache (which I recently saw dated at 100CE!):

Now about the Eucharist: This is how you are to give thanks: First in connection with the cup. “We thank you, our Father, for the holy vine of David, your child. To you be glory
forever.” Then in connection with the piece [of consecrated bread], “We thank you our Father, for the life and knowledge which you have revealed through Jesus, your child. To you be glory forever. “As this piece was scattered over the hills and then was brought together and made one, so let your Church be brought together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom. For yours is the power and the glory through Jesus Christ forever.”

What’s more, I have learned in my studies of Anglican ecclesiology that seeing the church as the incarnation of Christ on earth actually presupposes much of what the ancient fathers & mothers of the church have to say about deification (or what Anglicans sometimes refer to as holiness).

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Posted on: April 28th, 2008 A Hymn … by me

One of the coolest things about ETSS has been the liturgical music class I have been in. In it one of our assignments was to follow the craft which Russell Schultz instructed us in, and to make a stab at writing a hymn for ourselves.

This is to be sung to the tune of “The People That in Darkness Sat” (common meter, ie, 86 86). It is inspired by Psalm 122.

The nations that in fragments lay
in times of stress and pain
endure the heaps of rubble cast
by power’s violent strain, by power’s violent strain.

Our race, our sex, our caste we deem
of great and costly worth
to greed and lust does not occur
the loss of mother earth, the loss of mother earth.

Enter that glorious city where
high lifted up all round,
the Mighty Victim, Prince of Peace
one with his people bound, one with his people bound.

What’s this, you ask? These gates, these walls?
and what comes of my pain?
Behold the paradox, the love
the Wounded Healer’s reign, the Wounded Healer’s reign.

This city rests on Zion’s hill
this temple glorious built
his body and his bride the same
see how love casts out guilt, see how love casts out guilt.

Now to the Father and the Son
be never ending praise
and to the Holy Spirit sing
within these splendorous gates, within these splendorous gates.”

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Posted on: April 19th, 2008 My Response to Collins’ Post


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Posted on: April 19th, 2008 Collins Aki on Liberalism and Christianity

My friend and brother Collins Aki on “Liberals and Christianity:”

For some absurd reason, conservatives feel that their party is the only viable platform from whence politics and religion can stand in harmony. Their reasons? Well, let’s see: They are pro-life, support the death penalty, “Strict-Constructionist” on the Constitution (which means, the Constitution does not serve the people, but the people serve the Constitution), they are heavily opposed to government spending—that is of course, not when it comes to spending on the military (which, thanks to Reagan—their Grand Puba—has made us the most indebted country in the world), but they despise government spending on social programs, they detest welfare of any sort, have, what we will call, “an insensitivity to undocumented workers”—that is of course, after they have finished working for them at a wage that is far less than their children’s allowance), oppose same-sex marriage, even so far as to “install an amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a women only”—so much for that strict-Constitution, fiercely defend their “right” to bear arms (hmnnn, what ever happened to “those who live by the sword will die by the sword”? Oh yea, that only refers to “swords”), and a variety of all other things. Now, you might think that I am making a “straw man” out of the conservative position and I’m not being fair. But one thing I will say about conservative is, they are very consistent, unlike Dems, who are always “dreaming” of change (so annoying!) and trust me, the above mentioned platforms have not changed in the last 30 years a la the Reagan Revolution (hell, for you history buffs, those positions go even further back than that, google Barry Goldwater).

But what is my point? Well, of course you know that presidential hopefuls Barak Obama and Hilary Rodham Clinton will be in town this week, debating and promoting heavily as the March 4th Texas primary approaches, and some of us might have some decisions to make. This is not about that, but this is about, those who are close to my circle who may have religious convictions, and either struggle with reconciling that with Democratic affiliations or those who are conservatives, and consider themselves Republicans because they think being a Democrat is for “liberal minded-secular-commi-bleeding heart-tree-hugging lover of gays”. Well, we are all that and more. But I ask you, Republicans, granted, we can disagree on various “ways” to run a country, but why is it that you think that the Republican party is the Christian’s party, and anything other than that is, well, betraying a Godly worldview?

Lets talk about “the sanctity of life”. Trust me, there is not enough time to carry out a discussion on the pros and cons of abortion. But we can still talk about “life”. The Republican feels that, illegalizing abortion is the Godly stance. That, it is the duty of the Christian to battle, as it were, for the “right to life”—regardless the situation. Again, we will not argue this. But my question is, why does that battle for “life” stop there? Why is the social conservative so adamant about the government protecting the “sanctity of life” when they loathe the government working to secure the “sanctity of living”? They weep for the “Child of God” in a mother’s womb, but will fight tooth and nail, if their government should tax more to spend on the programs needed to raise that child of God in a comfortable space (and no, government housing is far from that). To me that sounds inconsistent. Really, to me that sounds purely “political”, and when public policy is an “arm” of the Church or the Church an “arm” of public policy, one only needs to read the history books to see how that turns out. Anyone remember where the term “Bloody Mary” came from?

Speaking about government spending, if you ever want to see anything so utterly removed from the love of Christ and the origins of the church, try and sit down with a fiscal conservative and ask them what they think about programs like a universal health-care or serious government welfare programs and the like. The idea of “being taxed” more to help out “other people” is so utterly repulsive to them. These are the same people who speak about the catholic and apostolic church and the communion of the saints, but when it comes to the government taxing the wealthy a little more in order to help fund programs for the poor, all of a sudden, their Christ-likeness transforms. And why is this? Because at the end of the day, a conservative can not, in any way, reconcile his bottom line platform for government policy, which is always “let’s just maintain the status-quo” with a gospel that says, “peace on earth and goodwill towards all men”. And it is a shame, when the Church will play that same hypocritical role. You can’t weep for the unborn, while holding on tight to your shotgun with one hand and your excess cash in the other hand that could help the “already born” in poverty, and call yourself the “salt of the world”.

As succinctly as I can put it: I am a liberal, because I believe that government must be progressive. We live in a country that is not governed by God but by public policy (that means that, God doesn’t work in the White House, although he does govern the whole world from on high). Therefore it is the duty of public officers to implement laws that are the most prudent to make one’s life fair, safe and happy. That means a person’s choice must be respected so long as that choice is not reckless and irresponsible. Our government must be pro-active in assisting those who are without in order to equip them to be able to live just as everyone else does. In a word, the Social gospel is the general spill-over of the True gospel. General justice, general mercy just as God gave the Church specific justice (the death of Christ) and specific mercy (the saving and undeserving grace of Christ’s resurrection). For all those who claim to be a part of the Universal Church, never forget that the laws of that Church are found in the Holy Scriptures and are binding, only upon those who are part of it. In contrast, a public policy that governs a public people, is not, and listen closely, is not, governed by GOD, but by public officers, who take into consideration, what are the best policies for the sum of the people for which it governs over. Wisdom might be drawn from Holy Writ, but this is only in an abstract and in a general sense. So please, stop trying to make public policy an extension of the Church’s policy, because this has never done any favors for the name of Christ. A name, which has already designated where his House would be, and no, it is not on Pennsylvania Avenue nor on Capital Hill, but in the Church, and centered within the sacraments. Let us keep this in mind and may God save His holy Church and wise men and women serve our blessed Country!”

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Posted on: April 12th, 2008 Performing the Text (of Scripture)

Recently I had the opportunity to participate, as a part of the “altar party,” in a week of chapel services at ETSS. In one service I read the prayers of the people in Spanish, in one service I was a “torch bearer” (one who carries one of the candles during the processions to and from the altar, including as a part of the “tabernacle of the Gospel,” when the Gospel lesson is read, usually from within the middle of the congregation), and in another service I was the “server,” whose role is to help the presider prepare and then clear the table (handling the “gifts” and “oblations”) during Eucharist.

As server, it was important that I listen and watch for certain “cues” which would signal when I was to perform various actions. One of these cues was the Offortory Sentences, which basically begin the transition into that portion of the service which is designated in the Book of Common Prayer as “Holy Communion.”

On the day when I was to perform as server, as I was quietly preparing to perform my duties, I was meditating on these offertory sentences (called out by the presider), which in the BCP are:

“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and make good your vows to the Most High” (Ps 50:15); “Ascribe to the Lord the honor due his Name: bring offerings and come into his courts.” (Ps 96:8); “Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an offering of sacrifice to God.” (Eph 5:2); “I appeal to you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Rom 12:1); “If you are offering your gifts at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Mt 5:23,24); “Through Christ let us continually offer to God the sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his Name. But do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Hb 13:15-16); O Lord our God, you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power; because you have created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Rev 4:11); “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. For everything in heaven and on earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom, and you are exalted as head over all.” (1 Ch 29:11); “Let us with gladness present the offerings and oblations of our life and labor to the Lord.” (bidding)

And then it struck me in a new way: “Oh, wow, this is what it means to perform the text of Scripture.” You see, the text of the Bible, the words we have printed in our Bibles, are first and foremost words to be performed in the liturgy, at least that is how I am coming (and have been coming, for many years now) to see it. Let me say a few more things about this.

First, this implies that the Bible is, first and foremost, a liturgical thing. Its primary “use” is to be read and heard in the liturgical worship of the church. Certainly Cranmer saw it this way, which is why he placed so much emphasis on the Daily Office, a service which is organically connected to the (Eucharistic) worship of the whole people of God. Anglican priests, by the way, are not really required or perhaps even expected to have “personal quiet times” when they read their Bibles and pray and meditate in the solace of their study or prayer closet. But what they are actually required to do is to pray the Daily Office in public. This means that they are to try to gather around them members of their parish (even if only members of their nuclear family) and pray the Daily Office together. (A good example of this is George Herbert.)

Second, the Bible’s proper use is associated more with a dynamic action that takes place through time than it is with a static spatialization of words on a page. I have neither the time nor the energy to develop this idea, but it is directly related to Catherine Pickstock’s After Wrting: On the Liturgical Consummation of Philosophy, a book which shows up on my blog in various contexts. In particular, her treatment (and devastating critique) of Derrida’s reading of Plato’s Phaedrus is relevant here.

Third, the words of Scripture, as performed in the liturgy, including the offortory sentences above, actually accomplish something. They do, or perform something. They bring about what they say. They are not just speech (certainly not just propositional speech), but are in a sense “ecstatic.” They are “speech acts.” In the language of James Jordan and Jeff Meyers, they are “command performance.”

In this way, they are truly symbolic (in a post-Heideggarian way which keeps the res [“thing signified”] and the signifier bound together in unity), like a kiss or a handshake or the use of the bread and the wine in the Eucharist (all of which actually deliver, or actually all of which just are, what they signify).

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Posted on: February 29th, 2008 Boy Scouts, not the Church, needed to Fight Cultural Nihilism?

In recommending Texas Governor Rick Perry’s new book in defense of the Boy Scouts, Newt Gingrich writes that Perry “makes the case for why Scouting is more important than ever in combating the nihilistic forces of our culture and shaping young lives into service-oriented leaders.”

Scouting as the response to nihilism, however, is not compelling. Scouting has no body politic, it has no economic discipline of sharing, and most importantly it has no narrative of death (and resurrection).

One reason I love Radical Orthodoxy is that it is willing to meet nihilism on its own turf. It admits that, apart from Christianity’s original ontology of harmonious peace (rooted in the community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), there is no way to keep people from imposing a violent hegemony over others in our pluralistic culture.

Does Boy Scouts presuppose and affirm this understanding of creation, of the true nature of God’s world? I don’t think so.

When it comes to countering our culture’s forces of nihilism, Boy Scouts is scotch tape at best, and nostalgic, ghetto-izing power politics at worst.

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Posted on: February 28th, 2008 George Herbert, John Cotton, & the Public, Visible Character of the Church

For one of my classes at ETSS, I am reading John Wall’s edition of The Classics of Western Spirituality volume devoted to 17th Century “country parson” and mystical poet George Hebert.

One of the most noteworthy marks of Herbert’s spirituality, and indeed his ministry as a parish priest in Bemerton, is its public nature. As A.M. Allchin points out in his introduction to the volume, “The Country Parson is a man of the Church, the public and visible sign of God’s presence in the world.” (6)

Allchin and other Herbert scholars apply this principle to the way Herbert conceived of and practiced the discipline of daily devotion. For Herbert, the backbone and center of daily discipline is the use of the Daily Office from the Anglican prayer book. This, though, is not merely private, since it often takes place within a small gathered community (perhaps a family or a couple of friends) and also since the Daily Office is woven together in all kinds of ways with the other public services of the church’s gathered worship, including Holy Eucharist.

Allchin rightly points out that the public character of Herbert’s conception of daily devotion (which he faithfully modeled to his parish community in Bemerton) stands in stark contrast to the prevailing religious ethos which was beginning to dominate 17th century Stuart England.

Puritan Calvinists, stressing the importance of divine election as the true test of Church membership, encouraged individuals to evaluate their lives for signs of divine favor. The fragmenting results of such an emphasis are visible throughout England in the seventeenth century. For instance, John Cotton, the Puritan rector of Saint Botolph’s Church in Boston, England, for twenty years before he emigrated to America to become the minister at the First Church of Boston, Massachusetts, overtly rejected the claims of the visible congregation to be the true Church; instead, he stressed the authenticity of the invisible company of the elect and formed a separate “church” within his parish, made up of those who could meet his standards for inclusion.” (8)

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Posted on: February 24th, 2008 Thoughts on Preaching (Jn 4: Woman at the Well)

John 4 is probably my favorite story in the whole Bible. Truly, this story is (as the church fathers described the Gospel of John) a puddle that a small child can wade in, and at the same time an ocean that an elephant can swim — or drown! — in.

John 4, the story of the woman at the well, is the Gospel lesson for this morning, the third Sunday in Lent, based on the Revised Common Lectionary. (You can listen to my sermons, and those of our pastor John Ratliff, here.)

Here is my little sermon outline so far, though I do hope to preach this “narrativally,” and not so much like a bullet-point lecture.

Opening Question: “Why is this woman alone?” First, because she is excluded from her community in every possible sense (racially, gender-wise, socially, morally, theologically). Second, nobody wants to be with her (why would they, given all of that?) and she does not want to be with anyone (she feels the shame of exclusion). This is why, at “the sixth hour,” when the sun is directly overhead and there are no shadows, she is alone at the well performing a task which in that day was never done alone (drawing water).

Note: what might be viewed as evil in her life God was using for good. Just like Mary Magdelen, who was so mentally tormented and tortured that Mk 16:9 says that she had “seven demons” cast out of her. Only til you lose everything can you really find Jesus. Only then can he find you. You will never find the one thing til you lose everything.

Then I am going to look at three images which are intensely prominent in John’s Gospel, which are huge in this story as well.

I. water: we see a movement from subsistence to life-giving abundance, from well (v6) to spring (v15).

II. spirit (which is both Hebrew and Greek is the same word as “wind” and / or “breath.” (All correct pneumatology begins with this observation.) In John water is never alone: it is always coupled with spirit. If you read about water in John, look around, and you will find “spirit” nearby. This means the Holy Spirit, and in a real sense this life-giving water is precisely the Holy Spirit which Jesus gives to the church on the day of Pentecost (John’s version of Pentecost is 20:19-23 when be breathes of the disciples and says, “Receive the HS.”). Also, spirit, like water, is a fluid, and there is something about fluids which, gives them, as opposed to solids (think of a rock) a certain “sovereignty.” They flow, and seemingly of their own accord. “The wind blows where it will,” Jn 3:8. Like a branch flowing in a river, the initiative is with the fluid, not with the branch. The water initiates and does the carries. The branch in a sense is acted upon. So we see a movement here from static to fluid or dynamic.

III. Life. From tenuous to transformative. Wells can get clogged up but springs cannot be held down. They will overcome any amount of gunk you throw at them. Jesus moves this woman from a state of being interested only in physical water (like the people in chapter 6 who are interested only in filling their bellies — 6:26) to becoming a holistic sharer for others. There is a movement from physical to holistic and from self-seeking to others-sharing. At first, she just wants to avoid dying of dehydration, but by the time Jesus is finished with he she rushes back to the community to share her new-found wealth, her new found well spring of life (which is Christ). Note: she did not have to be coaxed, prodded, or externally motivated to do this (did she stop by the bookstore on the way back to her villiage to pick up a copy of Evangelism Explosion or “The Four Spiritual Laws?” No: instead she told her story. Those things would have only stifled that!

“Eternal life” (v14) is not unending life lived in the eternal state. No: it is the indestructible, uncloggable life of a spring. But not just that, it is “eonic life.” Life of the God’s new eon. It brings about a new world.

This is the point of the “sowing and reaping” part of this story. Look at what this eonic life does: it brings about the transformation of the world. We see it beginning to happen in this woman’s life and in the life of her village.

C losing Question: “How did this happen?” Where did she get that boldness? Answer: verse 16. See, why did Jesus, out of the blue, say: “Go get your husband.” Is he changing the subject? No: he saw that she was alone and immediately had the suspicion (as any case-wise counselor or pastor in that day would have) that her social isolation was the result of something having to do with … men.

How does this happen? Through liberation. She was in bondage. She was drinking from some other well, which had become her false hope, her addiction, and Jesus set her free.

He said to her, “Woman, go get your husband.”

He says to you, “Christian, go get your ….” Your what? “Christian, go get your bank account. Go get your social life where you’re in the inner circle . Go get your children. Go get your stainless reputaton.”

Go get them and do two things with them. Compare them to me (the quality of life they give you), and see that they don’t stack up to real abundant life. And then, lay them at my feet. I will raise them back up. I will give them back to you, but now in a way that is healthy, now in a way that facilitates your new divine, abundant life with me.

Jesus puts his finger right on the issue, right on the pulse of her heart, and what does she do? She repents. How do we know this? B/c look at what she does! She runs back to her villiage. What? They very people who excluded her? The very people who did not want to be with her … and with whom she did not want to be. (You see, repentance is social and public.)

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Posted on: February 19th, 2008 The Episcopal Church & Discipline

Phil Turner in this article, which was also an article in First Things, rightly states:

The Episcopal sermon, at its most fulsome, begins with a statement to the effect that the incarnation is to be understood as merely a manifestation of divine love. From this starting point, several conclusions are drawn. The first is that God is love pure and simple. Thus, one is to see in Christ’s death no judgment upon the human condition. Rather, one is to see an affirmation of creation and the persons we are. The life and death of Jesus reveal the fact that God accepts and affirms us.”

Question: is it possible to fully affirm the historic church’s understanding of the trinity and the incarnation, and to love and embrace the eucharist and baptism, and still to think this way? If so, then what else is needed, in addition to these things, in order for the church to be healthy? My answer (and apparently Dr. Turner agrees, based on his article): church discipline, which rightly understood is included in the very nature of the sacraments of baptism and holy eucharist.

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Posted on: February 3rd, 2008 Taking Jesus to the Streets of the City

Watch this video, a meditation in practical sacramentology, from the Catholic Diocese of New York, and be challenged. (If you’re like me, you might want to have a box of tissues handy.)

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Posted on: January 23rd, 2008 Best Running Trails in Austin

If I weren’t such a crappy blogger I would have photos of these trails. (Don’t hold your breath.) Also I should add that trails 1-3 are in close proximity to excellent pubs.

5. Bull Creek Greenbelt. After the six continuous months of rain last year, some of the trails have been a bit washed a way; still worth it though, in part b/c of the nice, flat limestone formation along the creek which stretches for several hundred yards.

4. Walnut Creek Park. Pretty easy to get lost running in these trails. Most are “single file” width (very bike-friendly), and often quite curvy. Nice variety of trails however. Lots of shade.

3. Shoal Creek Greenbelt. Renovations over the last few years have turned this into a pleasant, interesting urban trail which brings you through some of the coolest parts of downtown, including under two of the most recent high-rises. One can start at 35th St. and run all the way to 360 and Scottish Woods Drive, a trek of perhaps 15 miles, using this trail. My favorite spot is the St. Francis mini-grotto embedded into the water fall / rock wall just south of 35th St.

2. Town Lake. What can I say? A runner’s paradise for the views, the shade, the people. Easy access to Barton Springs pool for an after run dip.

1. Barton Creek Greenbelt. I love the variety of terrain in these trails. Hills, rocks, well-trodden flatness. The greenbelt has it all. Lots of shade, usually flowing rapids along the creek, not too crowded. Feels off the beaten track, but it’s really not.

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Posted on: January 22nd, 2008 Best Pubs in Austin

5. Dog & Duck. Second best fish & chips in town (the best are at BD Riley’s). Good optional choice of sitting outside or inside. Roughly 15 beers on tap.

4. Flying Saucer. Very cool bartenders. Knowledgeable about beer (and they enjoy talking about it!), but not arrogant. Excellent food as well. Roughly 70 beers on tap.

3. Draughthouse. The most hobbit-like place in town, in my opinion. Folks sitting out on lawnchairs, or in the beds of their pick up trucks, etc. Some of the bartenders can be a bit acerbic, but once you get on their good side (this can take years: you must be perceived as a good-tipping regular), the benefits of membership are bountiful. Maybe 75 beers on tap.

2. Gingerman. Only place I have ever seen Live Oak Pale Ale 0n tap (nor have I ever seen it in a bottle, mind you). Indeed, I have never desired a beer on tap that they don’t have (including two or three barley wines, to boot!). About 80 beers on tap.

1. Opal Divine’s (6th St.). I confess: I love Opal’s partly because of nostalgia, due to years and years of great conversation and good memories. But their food is great, and their bartenders & waitstaff are interesting and fun. Wednesdays are two-dollar Texas pint nights! Yeah! About 25 beers on tap.

Coming soon: top five best running trails in Austin.

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