resurrection

We see the Risen One when a green plant pushes its way through a concrete sidewalk.

We see the Risen One when our hearts are flooded with compassion for the Other.

We see the Risen One when our hearts are broken by grief.

We see the Risen One when our bodies are electric with the joy of a loving touch.

We see the Risen One when we dare to move outside our comfort zones.

We see the Risen One when bread is broken and wine is poured, on an altar, on a picnic blanket, on a kitchen table, on a diner counter.

We see the Risen One when our minds light up with the truth of new insight.

We see the Risen One when we cannot keep silent about an injustice.

We see the Risen One when we forgive and are forgiven.

We see the Risen One when we incarnate Divine Love in our relationships, in our breathing, in our treading lightly on the earth.

Advertisements

the tragedy of the cross

taizecrucifixThis week I was asked to share a sixty-second soundbite of my thoughts on the resurrection for the next YAK podcast. Could there be a more difficult task, or a more important task than that for a Christian theologian? With four-and-a-half-plus years of theological education and almost 27 Easters under my belt it is a task I ought to be able to carry out. The resurrection is really the defining event of the Christian religion, and any good theologian should have some kind of soundbite, suitable for public theologizing, that’s ready to drop at a moment’s notice.

And so after thinking about it for several days I decided that my own theology forces me to not just make a comment about the life-affirming message of the resurrection, or the belief in living out our collective Christian lives together as the resurrected body of Christ, but to start with the tragedy of the cross and the agony of Holy Week.

The beauty and wonder of the joy of new life and birth is lost if we don’t first live through the pain of life. It is cruel and tragic that a relatively young prisoner of conscience would be put to death for his beliefs. This reality though is that of many whose lives are lost for unjust reasons. I also don’t want to move too quickly through the pain of Holy Week because the holy times of our own lives often are not over in a week, the tragedies of abuse and violence seem unending at times. And Christianity has often been guilty of pointing only to the resurrection in the face of violence, or pointing to the theme of joyful sacrifice – theology that I’m a big fan of until it tells a woman and her children to keep returning to an abusive husband because it is “their cross to bear.”

If we do not take the time to live in the pain of Holy Friday and the hopelessness of Holy Saturday the joy of resurrection will be lost on us and the pain that is the reality of our lives, all our lives, which gives birth to joy, is numbed and left for nought. My resurrection soundbite will have to wait for tomorrow, for today I am still living in the despair of loss.

a beloved cat

This evening I got a call from my mom, who, through tears, told me that our beloved family cat, Tabitha, had passed away on the way to the vet. She had had strange seizures in the afternoon so they were taking her to the vet, but she passed on in the car on the way.

Tabitha

Tabitha was a fantastic cat. She was very affectionate and enjoyed licking people’s hands and faces as a gesture of kindness. She had a memorable half-orange, half-black face, a black and orange coat, a white underbelly and white paws. She would often roll over on her back on the floor as a way of saying “please scratch my belly”.

We got Tabitha when I was in highschool. She was very young when we rescued her from the animal shelter, and we all bonded to her quickly. She was a companion to my Dad when he lost his job and to my Mom when she had knee surgery.

She had a fondness for water and air bubbles. A classic Tabitha story is of the special water dish my Dad bought that had a water tank that, as the dish of water emptied, would fill the dish. They found that the tank emptied very quickly, and one day, upon finding water all over the kitchen floor, discovered why. Tabitha had figured out that if she splashed all the water out of the dish with her paws, new water would chug in and air bubbles would rise up inside the water bottle, very entertaining. A couple months ago, when my Dad bought an air purifier with a clear water reservoir, Tabitha was found staring at the air bubbles and attempting to swat them with her paw.

Another favourite story is of a fish that outwitted Tabitha. My aunt, who has several large fish tanks, was cat-sitting for us by keeping Tabitha at her house. One of the fish tanks sat on a table with a small ledge that Tabitha enjoyed sitting on to watch the fish go by. One particularly large fish, Basil, was very interesting to her, and as he swam back and forth in the tank, Tabitha would follow him. One day my Aunt was watching this and watched Basil swim all the way to the end and then turn the corner. Tabitha was so engrossed with watching him that she walked right off the end of the table. My Aunt was certain that Basil had done this on purpose.

Pets are like family members, irreplaceable, beloved, and bringers of joy into our lives. I am certainly grateful for all the licks and cuddles from Tabitha over the years. I am sad but I also know that Tabitha was old, and lived a full life. We have many fond memories of her and will treasure those for many years.

theologian as communicator

I’m thinking more about the task of the theologian, what role the theologian plays within a faith community. I’m also thinking about communication, for various reasons, with participation in a church committee on communication being one reason. The more that I think about it, the more I am drawn to thinking about the theologian as communicator. The theologian is engaged both as one receiving communication through reading various texts (and not just written words but also the texts of culture that surround us, things like advertisements, songs, the layout of city streets, and the faces on the bus during rush hour) and as one initiating in communication, through creating various texts.

And although the reading of various texts is a fascinating topic itself, right now it is the aspect of text creation that is most interesting to me. I’m thinking about Marshal McLuhan’s famous quote “the medium is the message” and I’m wondering what the media that a theologian typically employs says about what the theologian tries to say. There is a big difference between writing a set of dogmatics and writing a sermon, between writing a screenplay and writing a thesis, between writing a book and writing a blog entry. And yet theology is done in and through all of those media.

So which form, which medium, would provide the best, clearest communication of that which the theologian is attempting to communicate? I am inclined to say that it depends on what the theologian is trying to say. Barth’s 14-volume Church Dogmatics, for instance, are a clear example of one version of what a theologian ought to and can do, namely write an exhaustive account of God in the world. However, it is awfully hard to enter into dialogue with 14 volumes of work from a deceased theologian. It is a bit easier to dialogue with a theologian that one is sitting across the table from, or one that keeps a blog where readers can leave comments and receive responses from the theologian.

I see the value in creating large systems of understanding, but I also see the value in saying a few little things that create doors and windows for entering into a larger understanding or for creating a new understanding.

the task of the theologian

This weekend I found myself reflecting on what exactly the task of the theologian is. In the democratic and distributed Community of Christ milieu, specialization, professionalism and expertise in the theological field is often viewed with suspicion and even almost contempt. Appeal is made instead to the authority of individual experience, a person’s particular perception of God’s action in their life, often without a critical sensibility.

I struggle with this because I truly believe in the wisdom of all people, and the necessity of all voices, no matter how educated or professional, in trying to articulate theologies. But I also have found that I have learned some important skills and have gained and amazing insights from great thinkers that have fueled my own theological constructions.

So here I sit wanting to affirm the wisdom of all and yet also very aware of the special insight that the trained theologian can offer into theological discussion. Where is the balance? What is the task of the theologian? To listen? To speak suggestion? I’m thinking of Grace Jantzen who talked about the job of the psychoanalyst being to offer constructive new suggestions to stimulate creative problem-solving and new ways of seeing. I wonder about the theologian’s ability to offer such suggestions into the larger theological milieu. I wonder about how those can be offered without negating the wisdom of the people’s theologies and without being directive.

Thoughts?

(I don’t think this is the end of my musing on this subject, more to come…)

why i heart rob brezsny

Below is my horoscope for this week from Free Will Astrology. Could there be better wisdom for a pastor?
“The composer Stravinsky had written a new piece with a difficult violin passage,” writes Thomas Powers, quoted in the book Sunbeams. “After it had been in rehearsal for several weeks, the solo violinist came to Stravinsky and said he was sorry, he had tried his best, the passage was too difficult, no violinist could play it. Stravinsky said, ‘I understand that. What I am after is the sound of someone trying to play it.'” Keep this story close to your heart in the coming week, Aquarius. It will give you the proper perspective as you, too, go about the work of doing the best you can at a task that is virtually impossible to perfect.

possibilities SACRED ADVERTISEMENT
May you eat an unfamiliar dessert in a strange land at least once every three years.

May you wake up to salsa music one summer morning, and start dancing while you’re still half-asleep.

May you spray-paint Rilke poems as graffiti on highway overpasses.

May you mix stripes with plaids, floral patterns with checks, and yellowish-green with brownish-purple.

May you learn to identify by name 20 flowers, 15 trees, 10 clouds, and one extrasolar planet.

May you put a bumper sticker on your car or bike that says, “My god can kick your god’s ass!”

If you bury your face in your tear-stained pillow and beg God to please send you your soul mate, may you not slur your words in such a way that they sound like “cell mate.”

May you dream of taking a trip to the moon in a gondola powered by firecrackers and wild swans.

May you actually kiss the earth now and then.

May you find many good excuses to say what physicist Niels Bohr once did: “Your theory is crazy, but it’s not crazy enough to be true.”

the havoc that abstinence-only education wreaks

girlsreuterspicOk, so you probably do not know that I, Ms. Erosophy, am quite the avid reader-of and researcher-into anything to do with women’s sexual and reproductive health. This stems from my feminist education that revealed to me just how much women’s bodies are still controlled by patriarchal power structures and also from my own erosophic understanding of the importance of looking at people in a holistic way that addresses us as embodied, sexual selves.

This weekend a friend reminded me of the dire situation that many women in the United States find themselves in when it comes to being able to address their basic sexual health needs, with pharmacists being allowed to deny women access to contraceptives and women’s health clinics being held to unreasonable high standards in order to make their job that much more difficult. I was also reminded of the general ignorance of many people when it comes to understanding things like the difference between emergency contraceptives (i.e. Plan B) that are basically just a large dose of the classic birth control pill in order to prevent pregnancy, and an abortion pill (i.e. RU486) that actually terminates a pregnancy, both of which provide women with safer, healthier options for maintaining their reproductive health and freedom.

Of course, young women in the US (and I’m just talking about the US here because things are very different in Canada, and though some problems are similar, the US situation is much more dire, though on further reflection, the situation of young women in the developing world is even more dire and frightening…) are possibly the most ignorant population when it comes to their sexual health since so many have been schooled in abstinence-only approaches to sexual education.

I was dismayed and yet not surprised to see a Reuters headline today that reads “Quarter of teen girls have sex related disease“. Quarter. 25%. That is a lot. That is too much. That is what happens when people engage in irresponsible sexual behaviour without regard to their own safety. True, there is really no such thing as “safe sex”, but rather just “safer sex”, but still, there are so many preventative measures that can be taken if young people are taught what those are.

Young people are bound to experiment and want to test-drive their newly formed sexual selves, hormones are crazy things, and we all know this, and we have known this for a long time, so why oh why do people still refuse to equip young people with knowledge that can save their lives!?

And so that is my rant of the day, I don’t make rants often, so take note that this news story must have really hit my heart, else I would not have written about it.

Good websites with genuinely helpful sex education info:

sexualityandu.ca: sex ed from Canadian gynaecologists who really know what they’re talking about. There’s specific info for teens, adults, parents and teachers.

scarleteen: “Sex Education for the Real World” – A site that has been around for a very long time with tons of resources and answers to pretty much any question about sex that you could come up with.

Planned Parenthood USA: the classic source for information and safe places to go for help and info.

Planned Parenthood Canada (aka Canadian Federation for Sexual Health): ditto above for Canada.