Thursday, April 21, 2005

As Pope Benedict starts...

The crisis in the church today intersects the dilemma of contemporary theology in an intriguing fashion....Liberals, on the one hand, advocate a broad relativism of options, encouraging openness as the mark of tolerace. The result in practice, however, is often an eroding of commitment through theological indifference. The result is a Christianity that provides little more than supplemental activities and religious support for the values generally implicit in modern culture.

On the other hand, conversative sectors have been growing in number and appeal, in part because they exhibit faith as firm commitment and costly discipleship, providing a cultural alternative. Yet the result, in practice, is often allegiance to a historically conditioned dogmatism that fails to engage the majority of persons involved in the central sectors of contemporary life.

This convergence brings into crisis the function and nature of the church. We need the contributions of both factions, without their liabilities. The church of the future must be committed to a pluralism of alternatives, sufficiently viable to touch creatively the individual and social diversity operative in modern life. Yet these must be developed and offered not in an ethos of theological indifference, but as a call to profound commitment, leading to lively choice between alternative faith-styles.
Theological Worlds: Understanding the Alternative Rythms of Christian Belief, pp.11-12, emphasis mine

Sorry, this is not the end of the world:

...if the Pope's name had been Nicolae Carpathia, we'd all be eating our words, wouldn't we?

Incidentally, in an article posted on the Left Behind website, Jerry Jenkins dismisses NBC' s Revelations as "a mishmash of myth, silliness and misrepresentations of scripture." Ironic isn't it?
[via The Eagle and Child]

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Everything worth achieving in this temporal universe is reducible to an art.

[via Liberal Christianity]

At what point does stewardship of one’s gifts become personal ambition?

[via The Paris Project]

What makes this papal election so unusual is not the normal disagreement over specific issues. The odd part is that the cardinals disagree fundamentally over what the election is really about because they differ in their judgments of what are the most important issues confronting the church.

Ratzinger, who is German, spoke for the conservative side of a culture-war argument that is of primary interest to Europe and North America. When Ratzinger said on Monday that "to have a clear faith according to the church's creed is today often labeled fundamentalism," his words were undoubtedly welcomed by religious conservatives far outside the ranks of the Catholic Church. One can also imagine that liberals of various stripes shuddered.

But for the many cardinals here from the Third World -- 20 of the 115 voting are from Latin America, 11 from Africa, 10 from Asia -- the battle over relativism is far less important than the poverty that afflicts so many of their flock. Some of these cardinals -- Claudio Hummes of Brazil is a representative figure -- may share points in common with Ratzinger on doctrine. But for them the struggle against suffering and social injustice is part of their lives every single day.
--- from The Washington Post, via Jesus Politics

There's nothing more challenging than entertaining a critical crowd, and there's nothing more critical than a crowd of one.
[via Young Curmudgeon]

"The truth is not always the same as the majority decision."

[via Life Happens]

It's Not All Bad, Right?

The choice of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new pope on Tuesday, Jewish religious leaders say, is a sign that the warming ties initiated by Pope John Paul II between the Vatican and Jews will continue.

The Roman Catholic Church's leading conservative, the German Ratzinger was elected the new pope in the first conclave of the new millennium by cardinals intent on sticking to conservative policy. Ratzinger is the first Germanic pope in roughly 1,000 years.

"His election is confirmation of the cardinals on the issue of continuity," Rabbi David Rosen told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday. "There's not a single issue in which the new pope will not be in complete accord with his predecessor. After all, his predecessor appointed him to the most important theological post in the Catholic Church.

"This continuity will be reflected in Catholic-Jewish relations. He has a deep commitment to this issue. And his own national background makes him sensitive to the dangers of anti-Semitism and the importance of Jewish-Catholic reconciliation," said Rosen, the international director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee.
[via The Jerusalem Post]

When I heard about the new pope that was selected, it was the almost the same feeling as when Bush was 'elected' for another four years....Divine power is love, which is so contrary to political power. I wonder how much of the pontiff's power is divine as opposed to merely political? Perhaps divine power accounts for the constancy of the Catholic church? Perhaps political power accounts for it's stagnation?
[via Been There...Still There]

Monday, April 18, 2005

It's time for a last glance at some memorable pre-conclave stories as we watch the press try to handle the hours (or perhaps days) of waiting before the white smoke starts another blitz....

I wonder how many conservative Catholics have, these days, started listening to conservative Protestant radio, searching for niche-market news and commentary on the Culture Wars. If that percentage has risen in the past quarter-century, and I predict it has, then that would mean Protestant media leaders need to think about how traditional Catholics see and hear their work.
[via GetReligion]

The problem with attacking anything that has wormed its way into becoming a part of us (or our perceived and/or operational identities), is that we can't do it without taking a bloody hunk out of ourselves.
[via Quotidian Light]

[via Reflective Musings]

Isn't it amazing how underneath the left over decay of winter new growth emerges?


A professor of mine once mocked Tennyson’s poem “Two Voices” because the resolution was too simplistic: how could simply hearing the church bells and seeing a family on their way to church make the speaker choose life instead of death? But it is precisely in those simple things that we see hope. A star, a friend’s touch, a bell ringing us to rejoice.

Why do we keep struggling? Because we know -- by these signs that grace allows us -- that in the end is the beauty we have longed for all our lives.
[via Inscapes]

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The medium can be the mediocrity.

Friday, April 15, 2005

For Better and For Worse

Prince Charles' recent wedding to Camilla Parker-Bowles has generated reactions that range from outright disgust to banal indifference. Some consider it a mockery of two main institutions, whereas others regard it a testament to true love. Both groups have some merit, which partly explains the ambivalence surrounding this whole affair. If there was ever a sentimental scandal, this could be it.

There is enough here to intrigue anyone. Although Prince Charles is now wed to the woman he loves, it came after the failed marriages of both. Moreover, Camilla was Prince Charles' longtime mistress while his former wife Diana was still alive. (It doesn't help matters either that the public adores Diana.) Detractors highlight the dishonor and disloyalty, while supporters emphasize the struggle and perserverance. It seems at best a Pyrrhic victory.

Happy or Right

This is certainly not an ideal situation, yet many perceive it as though it needs to be. Those more inclined to focus on the romantic and the authentic embrace the couple. However, those more inclined to focus on the dignified and the honorable are unsettled about them. The initial question becomes whether they should be primarily happy or right.

At first, being happy would seem to be laudable here, since Prince Charles and Camilla appeared miserable without each other. Why would anyone argue against happiness, right? Yet something more is at stake here, including the dignity of the monarchy. The fact that it required betraying their prior commitments could demonstrate a misguided sense of entitlement and a major contempt for restraint. After all, happiness is not everything.

However, being faithful does carry definite risks. Was this road absolutely necessary for Prince Charles and Camilla? They only prolonged their agony by distracting themselves with others, which created more havoc and disappointment than was truly needed. Then again, Camilla's inherited role as a royal mistress had merely compensated for Prince Charles' unsatisfying relationship to Diana, and his apparent infidelity with Camilla only sabotaged her marriage. Nevertheless, following the right protocols only entrapped them both and caused more damage.

Divided Loyalties

The main losers here have been the former spouses, which were caught in the middle of this ongoing saga from the start. It has complicated their lives and cheated them out of a relatively secure arrangement. The lack of full devotion and involvement by Prince Charles and Camilla has contributed to a fair amount of wasted time and effort by their previous partners, instead of going somewhere else. This tended to hamper the progression of these relationships.

Yet this loss also applies to Prince Charles and Camilla, who were in unfortunate circumstances that repressed their fond desires for each other. Consequently, they reckoned with this frustration by maintaining their responsibilities while covertly cultivating their lives together. This strained their formal ties with their spouses until they broke apart. In some sense, this liberated them to start again, even though it intruded upon their first obligations.

Perhaps an appropriate analogy will demonstrate the intensity and complexity of their dilemma and the public unease. Suppose that Prince Charles and Camilla were really homosexual lovers that, due to the customs and culture of the day, encouraged them into marriages of convenience. They wanted a better deal, but that could disgrace their families and religions. On the one hand, there were obvious advantages in their current relationships, but it is somewhat unfulfilling. On the other hand, they could pursue a more satisfying alternative, yet it could have devastating consequences. How they choose is partly determined by their priorities. If they pick the latter option, it could be deemed either courageous or rebellious.

Plans vs. Persons

Trying to have it both ways in these situations only works for a while before unravelling. At some point, it just becomes an awkward compromise, as was the case with Prince Charles. The conflict then becomes a matter of what constitutes a suitable mate. By the royal and religious standards of the time before their marriages, Camilla was not considered particularly worthy for Prince Charles. As a result, they had to make other plans that definitely went awry later.

To some extent, some of the outrage toward Camilla stems from the fact that she descends from another royal mistress, which makes the present situation come across as rather indulgent. After all, mistresses traditionally were more for play and passion, not for purpose and propriety. Accomodating two individuals instead of one so that nothing is lost can seem quite greedy. Yet this is why some find Prince Charles and Camilla's wedding as resolving this predicament, since both are with the people they wanted in the format that suits them. They have it all now, don't they?

Some might argue that these imperfect circumstances does not justify a disruptive response. Prince Charles and Camilla's wedding appears to tarnish the elegant, stable and exclusive character of marriage itself to those that value it highly, tending to give the impression of being opportunistic. (They did have to circumvent the Church of England's guidelines in some way.) However, being dishonest and stifled by contrast does not evoke positive images either. This is comparable to gay people staying in heterosexual relationships for the sake of simplicity. It avoids one problem, but allows another to continue.

Second Time, Second Rate?

In marrying, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles have allegedly achieved a sense of harmony. Blending their lives together officially after much delay resolves much of the frustration that has plagued them for years. While this has reduced much of the burden from the past, it has not smoothed out all the rough edges for many. It primarily stems from the inadequate means we have to capture real and vital connections. In essence, this royal marriage is only partly redeemable.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

There are no boundaries.

If you're a closet racist...
Everyone is other.
Everyone is different.
Everyone is feared.
Everyone is fair game.

[via Unedited Ravings]

Since the Conservatives were Defeated Tuesday...

Poll after poll may show the Liberals falling, but few have showed the Tories picking up ground. Instead, votes are being parked with the NDP, Greens and undecided. That's a sign that a lot of voters aren't ready to give Harper the keys to 24 Sussex and if Martin could finally start "making history", he'd be able to lure a lot of the voters back. Perhaps a bold Kyoto plan would be that issue. At least it would make Harper run on a "pro-polution" platform. Personally, I think same sex might be the ticket.

Think about it, if we have a spring election, the same sex legislation will likely die and, even if it doesn't, Harper is on record as saying he'll bring in new legislation to support the 2002-traditional definition of marriage. I think SSM is an issue Canadians feel strongly enough about that it could give traditional Liberals and some NDP voters a reason to hold their noses and vote Liberal.

Right now, Harper is going to run on a "Liberals are corrupt" platform and Martin is going to run on a "some Liberals are corrupt" platform - that may not work out great for Paul. If he has some real left-wing issue to bring Liberal voters back to the fold, he stands a fighting chance. Otherwise, it could get ugly.

{from this post}
[via CalgaryGrit]

If it ain't broke, it's just easier not to fix it.

Faithfulness may be the shortest path to repression.

Monday, April 11, 2005

"Sincerity is not enough." We have heard from enough sincere people to last a lifetime already.
--Jon Carroll at

Putting some respect for the Pope into perspective:

The Russian Orthodox church, along with all the Eastern Orthodox churches, fought communism for decades, but our govt. hasn't recognized it. We were too busy sneaking evangelicals into communist countries to acknowledge the Orthodox church. I wonder if we'll fly our flags at half mast when the Patriarch dies.
---Tamara at The Door Magazine's Chat Closet

Thursday, April 07, 2005

I wish on stars
Only to watch them fall
So heavy are the hopes
That I gather on their shoulders
Like my tears
That seek
To bleed onto your clothes
Staining and remaining

[via Meh. Feh. Blah.]

Sigh...Could Dr. Phil be right, that life is about choices?

The Truth will still be true whether I choose it or not. I may think I made the right choice, but I cannot be certain; I have made a choice, that is all. Sometimes I haven't even made a choice--I simply take what is handed to me.

Choosing does not gaurantee accuracy, as is clearly shown by the myriad choices the earth's population makes. I cannot flat out say, "I'm right and you're wrong"; I need a high level of humility and to admit that what I really mean is "I believe I have made a reasonably accurate choice".
[via The Eagle and Child]

How we short-change ourselves through excessive frugality, pragmatism, and unwarranted silliness.
[via Heart of Canada]

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know when the best I can do is to stay up watching X-Files reruns with a bucket of KFC, a pint of Haagen Dazs, and a carton of Marlboros.
[via The Invisible Sun]

Boy, can I relate, minus the Marlboros (never smoked, don't want to). Recovering from a broken ankle takes a lot of energy.

Oh Lord, it's hard to be encouraged...when you're imperfect in every way...

it is hard to disappoint people all the time. as a pastor, and maybe it is just me, i seem to let people down all the time.
[via scott williams]

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Perhaps all we have in life are the little things inbetween the big and little losses?
[via Been There...Still There]


ruts that will drive you vulnerable to the unattainable, good and/or bad.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

[via The Invisible Sun]

I notice
that I am vulnerable
to death
and that sheds light on me.

The ground disappears from under my feet
when I feel strong.
I become weak, yet strong
when I have nothing to lose.

I sacrifice my senses
but regain them,
transformed by going under
in fear and need.

{read more}

One vs. Many

A good question at The Heresy:

Why does the life of a human vegetable get more attention than the hundreds of thousands in Darfur or the millions in Africa dying of aids?

Friday, April 01, 2005

Really Stumbling...

It is easier to be flimsy or rigid than firm.

It is especially easy to perceive firmness as rigid or flimsy instead.

Yet...sometimes we want so much to be firm that we turn rigid or flimsy.