June 10, 2007
Our next Transmission will be on June 20th, which is almost the summer solstice, and we’ll be doing it in Central Park (unless it rains, in which case we’ll be at Katherine’s). The solstices aren’t exactly Christian holidays per se, but they are sufficiently astronomical that they make their way into my religious traditions (some suggest that Dec 25 was picked for Christmas in order to coincide with the winter solstice).
In any case, in order to celebrate the longest day of the year, the day during which the sun is directly over the tropic of Cancer, the day when the eart is tilted most towards the sun, I thought it would be fun to examine the creation accounts in Genesis. Not only does this subject seem appropriately cosmic, but the recent opening of the Creation Museum in Kentucky has put the first few chapters of Genesis in everyone’s mind.
Maybe it’s because I’ve heard it since I was a kid, but I still get chills up and down my spine when I hear the words “In the beginning, whe God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from god swept over the face of the waters.” It’s just so beautiful There’s so much contained in these stories, in fact, that I’ll be doing a brief series on them here on the blog to prepare for the next Transmission.
This first one will be short since it has much introduction, but I just wanted to give a brief overview of what I’ll be doing. First, I’ll be holding myself to the first two chapters; The Garden of Eden stories are very powerful, but there’s so much to deal with in terms of original sin, gender roles, and patriarchy that I’d rather stick with creation. Second, I’ll be examining these stories with as many lenses as possible, but my interests are going to be theological, not scientific. As my New Testament professor told me, “the authors of the Bible didn’t always write down what happened, they wrote down what it meant.” That’s the attitude with which I’ll be exploring Genesis.
June 9, 2007
Usually, when people see faces in clouds, mildew, and grilled cheese sandwiches, they see the face of Jesus or Mary. Recently in Chicago, however, some people have found the visage of a former mayor set in tree bark.
Except, of course, for one stalwart woman:
“I see Jesus,” said Cathy Sansone, the membership director at the health club who says any resemblance to the late mayor is simply the “power of suggestion.”
Now personally, I’ve always been pretty contemptuous of these sorts of claims. Why would God make the effort to create an icon of the crucifixion in a bag of cheetohs and yet not make the effort to stop the violence in Darfur?
Recently, however, I’ve started questioning my cynicism. Even if God did not create these images, that doesn’t mean that people can’t see and experience God through these images. If my worldview allows for someone to experience God through a eucharistic worship service, through the first letter of Timothy, through a piece of art, or through a particularly magnificent sunrise, then why can’t I accept someone experiencing God through a vaguely face-shaped bit of water damage?
The church spends so much of its time trying to distance itself from the supernatural, sometimes we forget about awe and wonder. We’re so concerned about making Christian theology compatible with modernity that we forget that contemporary culture has already moved passed modernity. When so many of my fellow New Yorkers are seeking God in mystical pursuits like Sahaja meditation, yoga, alternative medicine, and therapy, perhaps we should spend less time demythologizing the church and more time affirming that God can be revealed in anything God choses, even a grilled cheese sandwich.
June 9, 2007
Not sure where or how I want to start this post to our group but having been on the east coast for a couple years now, being originally from California and having lived in London, my experiences of churches in these places has been really… eye opening…
I never realized till I left California (2 years ago) how different the traditional church there, is to my experience of church in other parts. A traditional church in California tends to have a group of people coming together in a strip mall shopping center where the church is renting some office space / store and has a number of chairs lined up side by side to look like pews. The people show up in anything from the really casual attire such as jeans and a t-shirt to slightly more dressy attire such as “business casual”. Or I think you call it “smart casual” if my memory serves. The traditional church in this part of the world tends to sing songs to a “rock band” in some form of contemporary worship and then the pastor will speak. This is such a contrast to “traditional” church in NY and England where there are pews and big gothic looking churches which remind you in their splendor how big God is in comparision with us. This form of traditional church has an actual priest in most cases who dresses in the traditional robes and communion is taken with real wine instead of grape juice. Having grown up in the first and not in the later, my concept of church tends to be more modern and contemporary in comparision with my later counterparts. In a church much like the second type that I speak of, I tend to get very uncomfortable and uneasy. It is hard for me to relate to and understand the ritual and liturgy of that style. I try to connect with it but I don’t know how. The thing for me here is that this style is not something I am accustomed to so I don’t understand why we need to go through each step of the liturgy to reach out and touch God because to me God is reachable whether or not we make those steps. If I want to speak to God right here and now I do not need to walk through each of those steps, I just simply call out. If I want to understand God’s thoughts and mind, I read the word. I don’t need an experience of God or have a ritual to tell me God is here with me, right here, right now.
June 4, 2007
John, who is planning the ritual says, “At the half-way point of 2007, this Wednesday’s ritual will involve resolutions – whether adjusting the ones we made on New Year’s Eve (pesky reality, always getting in the way of our best intentions!) or making new ones. We’ll also be contemplating affiliations with some comical stories about over-zealous monks, and an original song by Everett & Snodgrass celebrating Saint Francis’ ‘Canticle to Brother Sun and Sister Moon.’”
We‚Äôll be back at Bowie‚Äôs place after a long hiatus (please email if you need directions). There will be yummy food and some celebration for John (5/28), Isaac (6/4), and Bowie‚Äôs (6/6) birthdays. Please let us know if you are a gemini too!
Plus, Ian Mobsby, who hosted Bowie and Isaac at Greenbelt last year, will be coming from the airport to join us on Wednesday night – so get ready for a double-header because the next night‚Ä¶
THUR, June 7th
Hear an amazing and long-time Emerging leader in the UK, Ian Mobsby, talk about ‚ÄúTrinitarian Mysticism and Mission‚Äù at Trinity Wall Street. Just how can Rublev‚Äôs Icon and a Trinitarian ecclesiology enable us to be emerging, experimental, and do mission?
Ian is a founding member of Moot, an emerging church community in London, UK and has been doing emerging church stuff in the UK for the last 14 years, is sweet, and totally rad. Also, here‚Äôs an interview between Johnny Baker and Ian about his new book.
Refreshments and fellowship begin at 6:30 pm; the workshop begins at 7 pm ‚Äì FREE ‚Äì To sign up, please email us, Ali Lutz at email@example.com or call 212-602-0800.
June 1, 2007
After Wednesday night’s showing of The War Tapes at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (see 2 posts down), I wrote an article that includes some questions I’ve been bouncing around for a while… about finding religious responses to this war, perhaps even from soldier saints of the past. It’s been posted to Episcopal Life Online as an Opinion piece.