April 20, 2007
What can one say about the tragic shooting of 33 people at Virginia Technical Institute on Monday April 16th?¬† Why did it happen?¬† Where was God?¬† How can one still believe in a god of infinite love and power when we see so much evil going on?
First, I think that it is important to really realize how much suffering there is in the world.¬† On Monday, 5 US. and 13 Iraqi soldiers died in an attack in Iraq along with at least 51 other civilians.¬† 11 Iraqi children were killed in a bomb attack in Iraq over the weekend.¬† And all over the world people are suffering and dying.¬† On Monday approximately 1,400 people became infected with AIDS, 95% of them live in developing countries without ready access to medical care.¬† On Monday almost 3,000 children died of Malaria and 16,000 children died of hunger.
And tragedy can strike us on our own American soil as well.¬† Every year in the US. 1,500 children die due to abuse and neglect. 3,000 children die as a result of gun violence, 30,000 Americans commit suicide, and 160,000 Americans die of lung cancer.¬† These are all estimates, but this list of tragedy can go on and on.¬† It does not include those who die of accidental drug and alcohol overdoses, pollutant caused cancers, car accidents, etc. etc. etc.¬† When reading a list like this it is hard for the mind (and even harder for the heart) to comprehend.¬† The individual lives turn into statistics and figures, and even the figures congeal into one big ball of despair that just sticks like a lump in our throats.¬† We can neither swallow our pain nor let out our cries of anger and sorrow.¬† And so we become numb to the horror of it all and try to move on with the monotony of our lives.
But then an event happens like the shooting at Virginia Tech.¬† Comparatively the deaths of 29 students and 4 faculty should just be another drop in the bucket of our world‚Äôs sorrows.¬† But there is something different about this event.¬† It is not just the fact that the people involved were so young and their deaths were so senseless.¬† It is all of those things and it is because we can identify with these victims.¬† We have all sat in classrooms where we felt safe and secure, whether in college or high school.¬† The students and faculty who died on Monday were all people like us, who had no reason to assume they were in danger, and yet a force of unreasonable terror came and cut their lives short.
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February 16, 2007
The question I am left with is the question of her loneliness.
And I prefer to put it off.
It is morning.
Astonished light is washing over the moor from north to east.
I am walking into the light.
One way to put off loneliness is to interpose God.
Emily had a relationship on this level with someone she calls Thou.
She describes Thou as awake like herself all night
and full of strange power.
Thou woos Emily with a voice that comes out of the night wind.
Thou and Emily influence one another in the darkness,
playing near and far at once.
She talks about a sweetness that ‚Äúproved us one.‚Äù
I am uneasy with the compensatory model of female religious experience and yet,
there is no question,
it would be sweet to have a friend to tell things to at night,
without the terrible sex price to pay.
This is a childish idea, I know.
by Anne Carson, from The Glass Essay
post inspired by…
* The Sabbath Poems on Samir Selmanovic‚Äôs Faith House blog (Samir is moving back to NYC this summer to start an interfaith emerging community)
* Our V-Day conversations about God blessings erotic love, but also being lover for many Christian celibates through the ages‚Ä¶ (see posts below)
* My delight with Glass, Irony, and God (from whence this poem came)
February 15, 2007
Valentine‚Äôs Day House Church
SETTING: 2-bedroom apartment in west Harlem. seven folks arrived, cooked dinner, welcomed our new guest, ate snacks, then started ritual.
* kiss of peace
* ritual reading of Song of Songs
* prayer: bodies ‚Äì folks strike a pose, everyone follows suit, say a prayer
* prayer: love song lyric ‚Äì pass out selections from popular love songs that could be read to address a lover relationship with the divine. folks select one, read or sing it to the group. sing alongs welcome
* dinner, dessert, wine and good conversation
SoS RITUAL READING
* prep and procure the props
* make copies of readings in large font for participants to read
* when gathered, explain interactive component before each reading ‚Äì have people perform the asterisked ritual before, during, or after the reading
* afterwards, invite people to share how they heard God speaking to them in the text
I SoS 1:12-17 (from bible or TJS translation below)
* SMELL ‚Äì cedar balls and spices
Where you recline in light of noon
I‚Äôll fly to lie beside you soon
With Spices, wine and ripest fruit
Have my desire in finest bloom
Baptized in your divine perfume
The time is right, we‚Äôre wise but new
The time is right, desire consumes
Our couch is green, our rafters pine
Our house is cedar beams and grafted vines
The clouds our canopy on high
Our town this Eden ‚Äòneath the sky
Feel your left arm beneath my head
Your right my sheet, your side my bed
But I won‚Äôt sleep for love is ready
And I won‚Äôt rest till love is dead
II SoS 2:8-13
* VISUALIZE ‚Äì close your eyes, listen, and see the scene in your mind‚Äôs eye
III Song of Songs 4:9-16
* SMELL ‚Äì light incense
January 29, 2007
by Bowie Snodgrass
reflections from today on Isaac's post below:
We can not just ignore the id
we must bless our passions
G – d made us as animals
who can never know it all
You can't control the wind
you can set your sails
Jesus calmed the storm
he walked on the water
We need some original
thoughts about religion
More voices, more vistas,
vantage points and views
Good people with new ideas
calling in this fresh new reign
January 13, 2007
two poems from our Advent stations apt.church. I found them while cleaning up my place. written by two of our participants. collage below by Gareth, our friend from Moot.
In darkest despair
In brightest light
Oh holy star
Oh sacred night
I cry out to you Lord
Take this pain away
Bring unto us
The dawn of a new day
We are a forgetful people.
God is faithful ‚Äì
we forget. God sustains ‚Äì
we forget. God provides ‚Äì
we forget. God delivers ‚Äì
we forget. God’s ways endure
‚Äì we forget. God made us
in His image ‚Äì we forget!
January 5, 2007
My brother Sgt. A. Peter Snodgrass, who is serving his 2nd deployment as an Army Medic in Iraq, was friends with a soldier who was killed last week (the same week we passed the 3,000 US soldiers casualties mark). They had served together in South Korea and on both Iraqi tours.
AP Article w/ Photos: http://cbs4denver.com/local/local_story_003072103.html
“22-year-old Sergant John M. Sullivan of Hixon, Tennessee died last Saturday in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device went off near his vehicle while on combat patrol. Sullivan was just days away from returning home from his second tour of duty in Iraq to be with his wife and newborn son. His family said Sullivan volunteered for the patrol when a fellow-soldier got sick.”
“Hours after SGT John Michael Sullivan was killed in Iraq, his wife Michele gave birth to their little boy at Fort Carson. News of her husband’s death had sent Sullivan into labor.
‘I got a knock on the door and I told them, ‘don’t tell me,” said Sullivan. Her husband had been killed when a roadside bomb hit his Humvee. SGT Sullivan and his wife had planned to name their son Johnny Walker. Sullivan said they both thought it was a strong name everyone would remember. When SGT Sullivan died, his wife chose a different name so her son would always be remembered… and her husband would never be forgotten– John Michael Sullivan Jr.”
* Please pray for his soul, his wife, newborn son, parents (he was an only son), and unit in Iraq.
January 1, 2007
Many faiths and traditions,
my tradition and faith:
lately I can’t seem to have
one without the other.
Like the communion wafers
passed out as a meal,
and the unfrozen pita bread,
church has grown stale.
Too many 18th and 19th
century quarter notes.
The pipe organ was once
a technical innovation.
I’m not anti-establishment,
but let’s also establish
new mysteries to assure us
of Your Holy Presence
by Bowie Snodgrass
December 26, 2006
What will be your spiritual and wellness disciplines?
Where will you seek wisdom and creativity?
How will you strive for justice and peace?
How will you be hospitable and big hearted?
What will be your ministries in the world this year?
December 18, 2006
by Bowie Snodgrass
these short days are pregnant with expectation
of what is real, unrealized, and unrealistic
John proclaimed bold and true
the coming of the kingdom
- and ended up beheaded
the dangerous call of the gospel
- is unsettling
enough of settling down
I am poised for adventure
and like a lion – persistent in its pursuit
we are called – to roam and roar
he walks with a limp -
his eyes sparkle with insight -
she plays Bach with her feet -
hands strained behind her back
in New York City
we carry our worlds
in pockets and bags
enough of being earnest
it’s time to entertain
when it’s GAME OVER
agree to PLAY AGAIN
I am throwing down
- I am standing up!
preach in broad strokes
and live in the nuance
traditions are meant to be kept
stories are meant to be meant
something new is about to begin
now is a time to dance and sing
note: written after David Fleenor’s ordination; Bp. Packard preaching
December 11, 2006
Embracing Worship 2.0 ‚Äì an Architecture of Participation
by Johnny Baker, excellent column published in Church Times
Brian McLaren shared this poem with me at the end of October, after it was shared with him on a recent trip to Mexico City. It resonated with me so strongly that I recently got permission to publish the English translation (trans. by Amy Stabeno and Elisa Padilla). Many thanks!
Do You Know Someone Like this?
A poem by Pablo Alaguibe
Could there be someone out there,
who would be interested
in participating in an experiment
of Christian community
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