28 February 2006

These Dreams of You

Seminary Dreams: A Snapshot of My Utter Confusion and Overload

Last night I needed a change in study position, so I sprawled out across the couch on my stomach with Ehrman's New Testament on my left and my computer on my right. I got part way through the discussion of the comparitive method before I started to notice that Ehrman was sounding a lot like my pastoral theology class I'd just been in a few hours ealier. Really, he was mentioning it was important to know when to refer texts to others, rather than get in over your exegetical head.

Then he moved into historical Christian worship. He explained that in the New Testament, chalices and cruets were divided into different Gospels so that each one could chart the progression of different eucharistic vessels. A Frankish noble showed up (in full armor mind you) to tell me about how the Fourth Lateran Council was harmful to those who were expecting to infuse their Christianity with their baby-eating. Who were they to judge? And by the way, Ehrman pointed out, Anselm had never read the Gospel of Matthew, so he didn't know that the sacrificial atonement thing would have been fine for the non-Isrealite Christians of the 11th century. Everyone can get into the sacrifical atonement, even Karl Barth. And he glared at me! There was an unidentified woman there who warned me not to question the ritual killing of Christians by medieval Jews because Luke and Mark had predicted it in code in their Gospels, and I knew then I was going to have to ask Loius Weil if that was right in our next class. But wait! Where am I doing field education????!!!!

And then I woke up. Really, these seminary classes are trying their damnedest to integrate themselves inside my head, but every so often there is a processing jam, and I end up wondering if Luke's gospel is related to Rahner's Anonymous Christianity, or spending 20 minutes trying to remember what the F pyx are. C'est la seminarie vie.

It makes for great dreams, though.

26 February 2006

modern monks

Remember the awesome 70's videos in your freshman religious studies class where the young tibetan boy wants to become a monk so he goes and camps out at the monastery front door, knocking and being refused, knocking and being refused, knocking and being refused? Finally, eventually, they let him in. Fast-forward-future -- he's indistinguishable from the rest, bowing and muching rice in time with the rest of the saffron colored crowd. For the cynical seminarian, this tidy arrangement probably sounds dangerously tempting.

Looking ahead to my field education year here at ye olde seminarrie, I've been church-hopping with the rest of the froshes ( read: juniors. At seminary we can't be freshmen, we are juniors, then middlers, then seniors. This is in line with the dining hall that can't be a dining hall, but rawther a refectory, daaahhhhling ). Since I've done time with the Anglo-Catholics, the charismatics, and the evangelicals, the biggies and the littlies, for richer and for poorer, the about-to-dies and the up-and-comings, I've been thinking, what am I looking for in field-ed? The answer that's come to me is anything-but-white. Anything but another sea of caucasian faces.
So, I head up to St. Augustine's -- where their mission is to reach the people of the African Diaspora. They're in a clergy hunt, so a no-go. Then a Chinese congregation where the financial crisis lecture dominated the bulletin, the sermon, and the announcements, and none of the 6 other people there had much to say to me. Today was a lot better, but they weren't hip to the field ed idea. They were the most welcoming church I've been to so far in the Bay Area though. I ended up having bbq pork danish for breakfast with them and rice, broccoli, chicken, egg lunch with them and two services! Word is there are some seminarians at another Chinese church out west, so I guess I'm going to knock again on the door of the non-whites next Sunday. I wonder what the magic Bay Area number of knocks is?

Another brand of modern monks on my radar is this new monasticism thing. It has gripped a couple of Matt's old evangelical homies into living communally in urban areas and working on social welfare. Some of these former suburbanite princes are self-avowed pacifists! A couple things for devotional pondering on these dudes, though: why are they pretending to be apolitical if they are also proudly claiming pacifism and challenging corporate domination? And why monks - isn't that a dude-only word? Is the evangelical patriarchy even harder to shake than its sacred cow of capitalism?

I gotta say it: God is like pajama pants - always even better than I remembered.

21 February 2006

He spoke with such authority

The diocese of California announced its slate of nominees for their next bishop yesterday. Two of the five are gay. Of course, everyone has an opinion. Titusonenine declares that the Anglican Communion has not yet been persuaded that this is an OK move for the Diocese of California to make. Furthermore, scripture doesn't permit this sort of thing.

Integrity released their own report, praising the slate for its diversity and reminding readers not to be threatened by those who warn against disobeying the Windsor Report, because it is a set of recommendations without biding authority. In the end, God is our authority, they say.

Matthew 22: 15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, 20and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"21 "Caesar's," they replied. Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Mark 1:21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.

What's backing you up when you speak? When you make your claims, especially your controversial ones, who are you counting on for teammates? Are they always the same, or do different controversies call for different authorities? In the end, how close do you feel to the authorities you invoke? How close do you think they feel to you?

In being a recently married person, authority comes up for me a lot. Why was I convinced that Christmas is for family, and that every Christmas must be full of traditions? On what authority do I know when is a good time to answer the phone and when is not? Heck, why do I insist that we flour sack towels are for dishes only and terry cloth towels for clean hands only? Things that were once normal or now up for debate. i like it and hate it, but I've learned to ask myself how I know something. And I've learned to be aware of how sensitive I am when certain authorities are called into questions, and where that sensitivity comes from.

The vows I plan to take as a priest are seconday to the vows I take to God. If I think the Church contradicts God, I've had enough Christian history to know that God is not the Church, and I will then be there with God, my conscience, and my trust in God and God's will is completely exposed. How is this different than the vow I take to my own conscience? God isn't my conscience either; I've lived long enough to know that. God, a conscience, and a Church do not a Trinity make.

In the end, the most persuasive arguments steer the Church's course. Who speaks with more authority? If the Holy Spirit isn't majority rule, what does General Convention tell us? Even more broadly, who speaks with most authority in my own life, and how do I live it out?

19 February 2006

Sunday's Friday Five Part Deux

Winter Olympics Friday Five

1) Which of the Winter Olympic sports is your favorite to watch?
--figure skating? the last ones i saw were when i was little.

2) Do you speak Snowboardese?
--I speak cute-guy-ease...does that count?

3) Define Nordic Combined. Don't look it up. Take a guess if you must.
--grudgingly getting on the nordic track while watching the toned muscles of olympiads scurry around.

4) Curling. Please discuss.
--I'm too busy straightening to curl right now. plase call back later.

5) If you could be a Winter Olympics Champion just by wishing for it, which sport would you choose for winning your Gold Medal?
--hockey - but only if i can play like the boys play.

13 February 2006

Sunday's Friday Five

1. How do you say goodbye to someone you will see again soon?
"talktoyousoon" (*wave, grin*)

2. What is your favorite foreign word for "goodbye?"

(OR... does "later-dude" count?)

3. Have you ever planned a special farewell for someone, or had one planned for you?
before matt and i moved to berkely, i planned my own farewell party at my office, which turned out to be a disaster. i organized a scavenger hunt that nobody understood, with four different locales for drinks and meals that nobody stuck to, and i lost matt for about half the night and wandered around downtown Columbia looking for him until around 1 am. All this the day before we fly out of town forever. everyone else got hammered and had a great time. the one oasis was an interlude of listening to jazz and drinking sake with Walt between gigs.

4. What is the hardest goodbye you have had to say?
when my sisters came to california a week after we moved, i realized what it meant to not want to say goodbye. we did one of those really dramatic airport goodbyes where you cry and wave until they are completely through security and then you text each other until they board the plane. I know, I know.

5. What is the most romantic goodbye you have seen in a movie?
i'll probably be skewered by my sisters, but the best goodbye scene is when BB kills Bill at the end of Kill Bill 2. When she cries and explains that she's "a bad person," I know that BB loved Bill and Bill always loved/will always love BB.

And a Bonus question for Musical Theatre geeks: Which Von Trapp child would you like to be in "So Long, Farewell?"
My childhood in a nutshell:

"I'd like/
to stay/
and taste my first champagne/...


*frowns, leaves*

12 February 2006

Eucharist Shmoocharist, Baptism Shmaptism

OK, I get it. So, the reason nobody wants to change the way we worship is because the way we worship is kind of old. I mean, by that, about 1600 years or so. I mean, I guess its KIND OF a long tradition.

OK, I get it. If I want to change the way we worship at the seminary I should take advantage of the full breadth of worshiping experiences available at CDSP. Tonight I went to our weekly Taize hosted by a student. It was beautiful. The chapel was completely dark, and candles lit our way to a circle of chairs. It was a delicious 20 minutes of silent meditation between two slices of chanty bread, slathered with group prayer and psalms. I get it. If I want variety, I should partake of the variety that's already ready already.

In other news, Dick Cheney shot someone.

11 February 2006

Amnesia for Anamnesis

Anamnesis. The memorial prayer of remembrance recalls for the worshiping community past events in their tradition of faith that are formative for their identity and self-understanding. The prayers of anamnesis in the various eucharistic prayers emphasize and make present the saving events of jesus' death and resurrection.

Epiclesis. The invocation of the active presence of the Holy Spirit in the eucharistic prayer so that the bread and wine may become the body and blood of Christ. The presider at the eucharist may extend his/her hands over the gifts at the epiclesis. The term is based on the Greek word that means "to call upon" "to invoke." The epiclesis typically follows the institution narrative, but it precedes the institution narrative in Eucharistic Prayer C (Book of Common Prayer page 371). The Roman Mass did not have an explicit epiclesis, although reform movements have added it. Thomas Cranmer placed the eiclesis prior to the institution narrative in the 1549 Prayer Book, but he replaced it with a rpayer for worthy reception of communion in the 1552 Book of Common Prayer. The epiclesis was not reintroduced in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Scottish reformers restored the epiclesis, and the Scottish Book of the 1637 included the petition that God the Father would "vouchsafe to bless and sanctify with thy word and Holy Spirit these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that they may be unto us the body and blood of they most dearly beloved Son..." The Episcopal Church followed the Scottish rather thant he English model with respect to the epiclesis. An epiclesis in some form has been included in the eucharistic prayers of the Episcopal Church since the 1789 Book of Common Prayer. The epiclesis in Rite 1 of the Book of Common Prayer is substantially the same as that in the 1789 Book of Common Prayer.


Anamnesis and Epiclesis: "God, we won't forget how you got us here if you'll help us believe what we're doing is meaningful."

02 February 2006

Just because I said so...

Dispensation: (1) The exceptional relaxation of a church law or penalty by the canonical authority owing to the needs of a special case or occasion. The dispensation must be for good cause. The church law remains valid despite the dispensation, but it is not applied to the case of situation specified by the dispensation. Members of the church not included in the dispensation continue to be bound by the church law as they were before the dispensation. The church can only dispense its own laws, not natural or divine law. Dispensations have often concerned the church's requirements concerning ordination, marriage, religious vows, and disciplines such as fasting. (2) The term "dispensation" may also refer to systems or periods of time that are relevant for salvation. The New and Old Covenant may be referred to as the New and Old Dispensations. Dispensationalism refers to a system of biblical interpreations which identifies seven periods or eras of Go'd relationship with humanity. These dispensations extend from the time of Innocence in the Garden of Eden to the coming of the Kingdom, the time when God's promises are fulfilled with Christ as King. The term "dispensation" may also refer general to the divine ordering of worldly affairs or a divinely religious system or code of commands.

In other words, dispensation gives Church authorities more authority beyond what they already have.

I've been granted a few dispensations in my own day. I've been allowed to wiggle through different requirements in order to make my own set timeline. What should my response to these allowances be? To whom do I owe gratitude? Most importantly, who is not being granted dispensations and why?

In church history, I see that I am, as a receptor of dispensations, a part of a sticky group of the rich whose privelege got them out of penance, punishment, and made them outside the system to which everyone else was (sometimes unmercifully) bound.

My primary question, though, is liturgical (for I'm a good Episcopalian). Who has the authority to grant dispensation in worship? I'm asking for the official answer, as I'm usually happy to take or grant any dispensation in worship that's suggested. Still, though, who can say? We have that chunky Book of Common Prayer with all its rules and regulations, doctrinal and liturgical and temporal -- but we often grant dispensations from the text. Sometimes here in seminary, these dispensations are nauseatingly exciting for some (giggles, and nods, and grins about omitting the Creed), and then there are other times when it is clearly inappropriate to deviate from the norm. These times are marked by the exchange of knowing glares and frowns and the embarrassment of others. The environment itself is the only authority i can distinguish at these times, though. Is it traceable to one person? to a group of people? To a past precedent?

When I'm out there, calling the worship shots, upon whom and what will I draw to make a case for dispensation in liturgy and worship? I'm no slave to the BCP, but the reality is many out there keep their rituals so tight as though it ensured the divinity of Jesus Christ. How to facilitate this conversation, if no similar conversation is taking place here?