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A minor


Friday, April 20, 2007

Fackre on the Center (1)
Today I read the following (and more to come) and was stuck by it such that I had to type it up and blog it. I hope you like it as much as I did.

The first feature of the center is its role as a bridge over the chasm between right and left. [...] The church of the center as "span" entails providing a safe space where otherwise hostile partisans can cross culture-war boundaries and speak to one another.

[...] The rise of ecclesial tribalisms cries out for a witness to catholicity. Honor the diversity, but attend as well to the Pauline counsel: "the eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you'" (1 Cor 12:21). A bridge-building center constitutes a meeting ground for civil conversation among disputants. Here the diversity is understood as charisms reaching out to one another, seeking a fuller body of Christ.

The church of the center in its bridge-building role, while an alternative to ecclesial war-making, does not gloss over differences. Bridge talk includes mutual admonition as well as mutual affirmation, the formula ventured by the recent North American Lutheran-Reformed dialogue. [Note 16 here references Keith F. Nickel and Timothy F. Lull, eds., A Common Calling: The Witness of Our Reformation Churches in North America Today (Augsburg Fortress, 1993), p. 29-32, 66.] The eye has every right to remind the hand that "standing" alone, a hand is an odd-looking body. And vice versa. As such, the invitation to mutual fructification is a model of diversity juxtaposed to the currently popular "theological pluralism." In the latter case, a plea is made to recognize the equal legitimacy of alternative understandings of the Christian faith, in popular lingo, "different strokes for different folks...you do your thing and I'll do mine." Theological pluralism, so understood, is a justification of the status quo. Paul's Corinthian catholicity rejects this static view, demanding an interactive diversity, one in which the "variety of gifts" are engaged in a demanding mutual encounter, learning and growing into and as the body of Christ.

The center as span is grounded deeply in the classical theological commitments, especially in the doctrine of the Trinity. The triune God as Three-in-One affirms the diversity and distinctions of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a perichoretic unity. In this "coinherence," God is not just loving; God is Love - Mutuality, Community, Sociality, Life Together. [Note 17: "So stressed in the recent works on the Trinity, as in Jurgen Moltmann...; Wolfhart Pannenberg...; Thomas Torrance...; Colin Gunton...; Catherine Mowry LaCugna...; Leonardo Boff....] And who God is constitutes what God wills for the world: community, shalom, a life together in freedom and peace. The church, the body of Christ on earth, is thus called with is many parts to live and work in a mutually enriching ecclesial koinonia - a church of the center performing its "bridge-work."
From Gabriel Fackre, Restoring the Center: Essays Evangelical & Ecumenical (IVP, 1998), p. 32 ff. (Currently available from CBD for $3.99!)

jon :: link :: comment ::

Friday, April 13, 2007

Catfish Festival Tomorrow
Just saw a commercial for the Franklin Parish Catfish Festival - the 21st Annual, no less. (My family is from Franklin Parish.) Apparently it was even in this month's Southern Living; see below. I don't recall ever going, and unfortunately tomorrow is already full. Maybe next year.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Sunday, April 8, 2007

"Clerical Fiction"
I ended a recent post by saying, "...I had to learn the hard way how to lighten up and read some genre fiction. More on this later...."

I'll still write more later, but for now, I refer you to John Barach's October 31, 2005 post on my genre of choice, "Clerical Fiction."

I'm still trying to think of the best term for the genre. John mentions the problem with "pastoral" (given that "the historical use of the word...call[s] up images of shepherds in Arcadia"), but I wonder if "clerical" might be just as problematic (conjuring thoughts of office work, secretaries, etc). Would "clergy fiction" be better?

jon :: link :: comment ::

Children in Church
I recently happened upon a church site with a good page on children. Here are some quotes from St Andrew's Episcopal, Grand Prairie, Texas:

John Westerhoff, a leading educator in the Episcopal Church believes that children are necessary in worship.

Relax! God put the wiggle in children...don't feel you have to suppress it in God's house.

Help your child find the pages in the prayer book. It is okay if they stand on the pew to see and sing.

Always remember that the way we welcome children in church directly affects the way they respond to church, God and Christ. Let them know that they are at home in this liturgy of praise and thanksgiving.
Very encouraging.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Fiction & True Confessions
Once upon a time, I was an English major. Then I lost my mind, moved to Moscow, Idaho, and tried to simultaneously attend two schools, studying theology & literature at the Christian liberal arts college and music, English & classics at the state university (while also working a job, eventually getting married & starting a family, and attending a church that was pretty absorbing). After the first day of class with the medievalist in the university English department there, talking with him about my various interests, studies, work, etc, he told me straight up that I was going to have to make some choices. I should have listened, but I didn't want to believe him. In time, of course, I moved back to Louisiana without a degree.

Anyway, once upon a time, I was an English major with thoughts of getting a PhD in English or medieval studies. I've long since abandoned such thoughts, which (what do you know?) has freed me up to read more fiction, among other things. Before, I seldom read much fiction, and what I did read was either really old - often ancient - or the sort of contemporary literary fiction that gets academic critics going. I did not read trade paperback fiction, and I certainly didn't read potboilers.

Part of reading more fiction has honestly been a survival mechanism, a means of escaping the stress of still working a job (or sometimes jobs) that I'd hoped to quit a few years ago. But part of it has also come from abandoning the stupid levels of vain ambition I used to possess (or be possessed by) and allowing myself to sometimes just read for fun now, rather than for assignments or a straining desire to better myself and my education. I realize this should be no big deal. Many, many people read "consumer" fiction - and not for work, but for pleasure or recreation. But I had to learn the hard way how to lighten up and read some genre fiction. More on this later...

jon :: link :: comment ::

Monday, April 2, 2007

The Unity of the Spirit
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:1-16)

This passage and the ones below prevent me from being part of any particular group that considers itself to be the true church at the expense of other Christians whose churches are less than true. I believe in the true church - one, holy, catholic and apostolic - and I believe that eventually the unity we possess will be better known by us and more apparent to the world. But I believe this unity is and will be a unity of the Spirit rather than an institutional unity. Not that I'm anti-institutional-unity or anti-institution: Key to the church's maturing spiritual unity, I believe, will be a renewal of unified citywide or metropolitan churches, with each city having its own overseeing bishop and each bishop recognizing the bishops in other cities as equals in office. Sure, primacy might be given to this or that bishop, but the first will be last and the last first, which means the bishop of Rome will recognize the bishop of Monroe or the bishop of Moscow, whether he happens to be a black baptist or charismatic (the sort of bishop I'd imagine for Monroe just from looking around right now, à la the CoGiC or someone like TD Jakes) or a white evangelical or academic ecumenist (e.g. Jim Wilson, Peter Leithart, or someone like I imagine Armand Larive was in Pullman).

All of this obviously keeps me from being Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Truly Reformed, Truly Anglican, Truly Lutheran, Truly Spirit-filled Apostolic, Truly Denominational or Truly Nondenominational. I long for unity with all of these folks, but until that longing is reciprocated in a way other than a desire for my conversion to their particular tradition, all I can do is pray and seek to cooperate with them as much as possible in light of our varying levels of impaired communion. And I trust that such cooperation will help us mutually grow up into the unity of the Spirit.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. (Philippians 2:3)

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:20-23)

jon :: link :: comment ::

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