11 December 2008

St. Ignatius on Discipleship, part 1

The modern evangelical culture struggles to find balance in its application of discipleship. So this paper addresses the current need for the Church to produce true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ by listening to the voice of one who wrote on the subject shortly after the Apostles. While he was chosen because discipleship highlights his works, even some of his controversial material stands in the vein of his thinking on discipleship.

This paper also attempts to surface Ignatius’ ideas regarding baptism, Eucharist, martyrdom, and Christology, to the central theme of imitation, or discipleship. Understanding Ignatius’ concept of discipleship helps us understand his other, more misunderstood, ideas. We will understand Ignatius better once we place him within his own context and respect his insights on following Jesus. This paper’s impetus arises from questions any parishoner might ask after reading an Apostolic Father like St. Ignatius.

We will proceed by looking at the language of discipleship with the Ignatian letters. Ignatius’ use of terms and concepts will surface his thoughts, isolating several key areas that Ignatius connected to discipleship. Within each area to which discipleship relates, we will analyze the connection to discipleship from a theological standpoint. Next we will illustrate this link from the letters of Ignatius, noting specifically his use of language. Then from scripture we shall show that Ignatius was not advocating strange ideas foreign to Jesus or the apostles. Here we affirm that Ignatius, the supposed disciple of that ‘beloved disciple’,1 possesses unique insight to speak specifically to the area of discipleship.

Ignatian insight into discipleship can profit the evangelical Church in the twenty-first century. Evangelicals misunderstand Ignatius on many levels. Protestant scholars, in particular, have declared Ignatius defective in his understanding of grace and faith and thus to be an unreliable witness concerning Christian soteriology.2 Since soteriology [doctrine of salvation] impacts Christology, this seems a necessary place to answer the critics. This paper hopes to help Protestants value the writings of Ignatius. From the average Christian to the scholar, Ignatius suffers in our day because we judge him through a two thousand year lens, disregarding the situation in which Ignatius served Christ and his specific circumstance of writing. Martyrdom appears to be Ignatius’ chief chafe for modern readers. A single reading through his letters should raise the question of this death-wish. Some authors have been offended by his passionate desire for martyrdom and the lurid language in which he expressed it.3 This colorful and startling language hides from us his connection of discipleship and death. We must not allow this to occur, for his own words illustrate his emphasis. Moreover, some view the entire early Church era as consumed with an unhealthy desire for martyrdom.4 We tend initially to suppose that his desire for death was selfish, or even an unhealthy mental state. But a careful reading uncovers that he is equally inclined to dwell on the sufferings of Christ5 and the unity of the faith. In fact, that key connection illustrates how he views his own suffering as eucharistic.

Ignatius’ life remains a mystery to scholars. Our knowledge of him unfolds in reverse order from his martyrdom back to his earliest years.6 We can be certain of very little regarding his life. We have scarce information regarding Ignatius’ trial.7 But we do firmly believe that he was a Bishop in Antioch by the end of the first century. Arrested for an unknown charge, perhaps public disturbance [don't mess with Pax Romana] or maybe resisting emperor worship, he died in the Roman circus between 105 to 110 A. D. For sure, we know most about Ignatius from his own writings, which should be read mindful of his circumstances. In other words, all seven letters were written on a journey within a couple of months on the way to be sacrificed by the Roman Empire. Little wonder that following Jesus occupied Ignatius’ mind throughout these letters. And as the letters show, Christ and Paul had much to do with Ignatius’ ideas regarding discipleship.

1 However, most of the references from scripture will point to his Pauline connection.

2 Christine Trevett, “The Much-maligned Ignatius,” The Expository Times 93 (July 1982): p.299.

3 Ibid., p.299.

4 Bruce Tankersley, Class notes of this student in Church History, East Texas Baptist University, Fall 1994. I particularly remember wondering why someone would criticize ancient Christians for wanting to die for Christ when today people are persecuted and martyred continually throughout the world. Not only that, but what purpose does it serve to steer students away from imitating the Lord and His saints?

5 John MacQuarrie, “True life in death,” The Journal of Bible and Religion 31 (June 1964):, p. 200.

6 Even his earliest years can only be upheld by a tradition in the Roman Catholic Church. This tradition holds that Ignatius was the child whom Christ himself embraced while teaching the disciples to accept the kingdom of God like little children in Mark 9:36.

7 A. A. K. Graham, “Their word to our day, IV. Ignatius of Antioch,” The Expository Times 80 (Jan. 1969): p.100.

09 December 2008

Why St. Ignatius?

St. Ignatius, Bishop and Martyr of Antioch, was the focus of my senior paper at seminary in 2002.
Let me tell the story of why I chose him to research, and why that changed me.
For the sake of keeping it brief, one needs to read the short letters of Ignatius. There are but 7. Okay, now that you've done that read on. Either in 2000 or 2001 I completed a course in the Early Church Fathers. During that seminar-style class, every student had to produce a presentation on a character from that period. All the big names were already chosen--NO that's not true! It was simply by chance that my group assigned Blessed Ignatius to me.
When I presented material for his 7 letters I knew what kind of reaction I'd get. You see I went to Dallas Theological Seminary, finishing in 2002. The standard evangelical seminary student cannot be prepared for the shock of St. Ignatius. [that fact btw was an initial chisel for me to question the evangelical claims-more on that soon] Some of the students literally gasped aloud at the content of the Bishop's letters! [Okay it's time for you to go read them-gotcha] He, quite like N.T. Wright describes St. Paul, sounds more like a fanatical terrorist than a gentle shepherd to the 21st century Western ear. I knew my classmates would misunderstand him, but it was my job to explain him to them. That is very complicated.
First, the DNA of protestants is to distrust every notion after the death of the last Apostle. Ignatius' sick descriptions must have confirmed their disdain. [surely you've gone and read him by now!] Really, it's in the DNA. They don't teach that at most evangelical seminaries! But it lingers under the surface, controlling assumptions as we study the Bible, Theology and History. The Church, say they, held its breath until the reformation when the 'true' faith was recovered by (insert the father of your protestant tradition). So Ignatius' advice to the earliest believers must have been skewed because he never mentions 5 solas...just one.
Second, Ignatius is incredibly Catholic. Yea, that Ignatius. Chances are you know him by that reputation. He is the one who championed the local Bishop being central to true Christianity. Protestants don't operate with Bishops, so that sets his teachings at odds with something they hold dear--democratic or representative leadership. 'Bishop? Hmmm...catholics don't understand the Bible like the Spirit enables me to do so.'
Third, Ignatius is not romantic, but rather graphic. He never mentions having, or inviting, Jesus in your heart...or being His private friend when you are alone. He seems to enjoy the fact that he will go to the circus, though. Only, this circus will be his end... his flesh and bones food for animals. That presents another hurdle for protestants. We don't seek martyrdom...rather victory! God forbid that we should make sacrifices. In our worldview a willing scapegoat makes no sense [except for baby Jesus]. Protestant evangelicals don't make the crucial connection that my thesis will demonstrate.
That thesis posits that St. Ignatius contains the vital link for us to read both the New Testament [mostly SS. Paul and John] and the rest of the early Church. That link is what we would call discipleship. So when I had to find a paper topic later on, St. Ignatius just screamed at me from a previous semester. 'Come follow me! Find out why I've been misunderstood, neglected, and cast aside for other glamorous figures.'
Posts that follow will be the sections of the paper in much the same style and method as originally done. I have not changed the paper much, preferring to stick to the expectations of the course to which the paper belonged. I would not approach the topic just this way if I were to do it over. That will wait for another day.

03 December 2008

"Quivering" upper lip...and all that!

Be sure to check out my shared items feature located down the right column. Rather than posting a bunch of back-links to other stories in the main entry spaces, I put them there for your consideration.

This one could not be relegated to that position. It is a must read.

Hat-tip to The Ugley Vicar.

19 November 2008

Ad Fontes

When I started this blog I intended to write my thoughts on the blessed St. Ignatius of Antioch. You see from my title banner that he means a lot to me. While finishing my 1st master's degree I researched him and wrote a short paper describing his idea of discipleship. Soon I will publish that work here. I have been drawn to do that because we are going through Hebrews in my Sunday School class and have uncovered a lot of the same ideas.

12 November 2008

To meet a King

Here follows the story of a poor humble steward of the realm called Palsted that got a summons to meet the King.

[I like to think he sounds like C3P-O from Star Wars]

"Oh, I don't know what I will do," he said. "I've never met a king and I want to be sure to address Him, approach Him, and greet Him properly."
Not knowing how to prepare he called upon the wisdom of other stewards and merchants that he knew. Surely they'd help him get ready for this privileged meeting.
Some say "address him as if you are his equal and he will honor you. Stand up straight and give him a firm handshake. That way he'll know that you are worthy of the occasion. Be a 'man' because the king is looking for good sturdy men upon whom to grant favor."
Others to the contrary, "you must bow low to gain His inestimable favor. You are dirt and He is priceless gold--be sure you get that straight. You don't want him to have you arrested for audacious presumption in royal company!"
Perplexed, he went to the library and blew the dust off a book entitled, How to behave in the presence of Royalty. Splendid! A book that will tell me just how to pull it off. Page after page he could be heard sighing, "Deary me, those fellas have never read this book," and "Oh my word, I think I shall have to practice several times a day to get all this straight."
And that he did. Everyone he knew suffered through the fate of playing the king whilst poor Paslted practiced his approach. He stumbled quite a bit on the instruction concerning the proper bow to execute whilst kissing the signet ring. One note read, "the proper way to bow is to bend at the 3rd or 4th vertebrae of your back." No matter how hard he tried he could never seem to bend at the right spot. Making the most of his time, Palsted poured himself into the instructions that would surely meet the King's approval.

The Day finally arrived and Paslted was dressed for the occasion [another fable tells of his travails about picking out the correct vestments to don for this meeting]. Among the fanfare and pomp, Palsted began to feel his knees quiver. "Oh, I hope I don't look a fool and forget something really important!" he cringed. "But worse I hope I don't offend His Majesty with the appearance of being ignorant and unprepared." Just then the King's right hand came into Palsted's view. No time to think now, he simply reacted.
[story pans to a dreamy state in which we've all turned up to school or work in our underpants only]
"So sorry about that 6th-7th vertebrae thing. I guess I must have practiced to much. You know, I am nervous, your Grace."
"As you were, lad. It's good to meet you," the King replied.
"Since I have your company, could you direct me properly upon whether I smooched your signet ring correctly. I mean, is it the fourth facet from the left...or the right, clockwise or counter-clockwise?" On and on Palsted stammered over questionable minutiae until the guards had to escort him away from the celebrations.

I'm sure the King felt very flattered indeed when the poor guy stumbled over the procedure. But after a while don't you think His Grace had had enough of this foolish pandering.

This fable is my witty response to those that insist on "no more-no less" than what the BCP allows for in celebrating either Holy Communion or the Daily Offices. It's what comes to mind whenever I encounter what I can only dub rubrical fundamentalism.

Do let us know when you've removed all the fly scat from your pepper shaker.

17 October 2008

Troll Under the Bridge

This was written in response to things-as-they-are where I work. It is a place where happy evangelicals dutifully work for the salvation of every soul, usually oblivious to any other expression of Christianity. This usually comes out vividly when students write for on-campus newspapers about their summer missionary activities. I wanted to submit this to said newspaper, but I think it's much to threatening for that audience.

Troll under the Bridge

When we are young and impressionable, the big folks like to tell us fables, myths, and legends to pique our imagination. Those tales most often have a purpose too. So it is with the proverbial troll that lives under the bridge. Perhaps there was a widespread desire to keep young children away from bridges. Bridges are not safe for young kids-that is easy to imagine. More likely it was to protect the ‘kids’ from what was beyond the bridge. So it may have been common to protect our cubs by fear. "You know," goes the tale, "there is a troll under the bridge that will scare you/eat you/kill you/molest you. So stay far away from that bridge." We don’t need to know what a troll is to be afraid of the bridge. It works…both ways. We are saved by fear and enticed to imagine.

Then we grow and learn how the world works. There are no ‘boogy men’--at least not the imaginary kind. And that troll never has been caught by our eager eyes. We grow up to feel safe about ‘our world’ and physically safe from the danger of the bridge, er uhm the troll. Maturity leads us to ditch the myth but no one really ever tells us it's a myth. No one ever sits us down and says, "we just wanted to keep you safe and close, so we made up the story of the troll." Forget the Viking stories that we crib from, we simply use tales as best suits us.

I write this because of my great angst about evangelicals’ collective, deep-rooted fantasy. It's somewhat like the troll story I describe, but much more sinister. Whether it be the ‘Church of Christ’, the ‘Methodist Church’, or the ‘Roman Catholic Church’ we prevent our kid-goats wandering too far from the reservation by fear. We protect them by branding the other guys as heretics, cults, or anti-Christs. And this works too. I am particularly beleaguered by the attitude we foster about the Roman Catholic Church. I wish I had a dime for every time I heard the ole line about the Catholics being idolaters, magic peddlers, anti-Christs, and a vast cult bent on usurping the "true" gospel. Many coins would be from my own pocket, sadly. If I banked those dimes I could do a lot of good.

Imagination is a good tool unless we forge it with prejudice or stereotyping. I’m now convinced that’s what we’ve done with the Catholics. We’ve painted them with our own imaginative ignorance. We, in fact, weaken our own view of God’s power when we portray the Catholics as so very influential that they can prohibit the ‘true’ gospel from peoples’ comprehension. In other words, the legend is too weighty to stand up under the smallest scrutiny. All those ‘things’ adorning the gospel are imagined by evangelicals to cloud the truth and veil the Lord from the people. Most prejudice is simply ignorance. What we miss is that all the ‘adornments’ point to Him.

While I had hurled insults at Catholics, I had never stepped inside a Catholic Church in my life. So it is with many of us. Oh, I know, many people embrace Christ ‘personally’ after having been Catholic much of their lives. Others have a sprinkling of Catholic experience because of mixed family ties. In this latter case I bet they still operated with fear and prejudice when they attended that wedding, or that Baptism. I remember once in my college years being afraid that something would happen to me while attending a Church outside my approved list. Good grief! (Shocking as it may be, Dallas Seminary was not on that list either!) Remember what that troll will do to you!

But the more sinister aspect of our prejudice is doctrinal. We simply do not understand their system. We fearfully and ignorantly reject their Episcopacy, Sacraments, Veneration of Mary and Saints, etc. The best we can muster is, “We don’t need to know what they believe to be sure that they are wrong.” Yet, you cannot disagree with an unknown. Students of history are urged to suspend judgment until they learn history’s content. That doesn’t mean to chuck judgment entirely, but you must have the facts first. Only then can you discern. In fact, then you must discern. Be not afraid of the truth, but neither be unmoved by it. You are at seminary to learn, to forge the habits that will fuel your future. If your time here is only spent learning how ‘wrong’ others are, are you not becoming a prejudiced servant?

Fear keeps us out of the woods like the 2nd generation of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. We feel comfortable at the encampment, secure on the reservation. We don’t want to confuse our younglings with crucifixes, statues, smoke, tradition, stained glass, creeds, chants, wafers, alcohol, icons and beauty. We envision what terrible direction those things will lead their imaginations! Children are better served sitting and staring at the hymnal or the back of bro. Bob’s head. Or worse, we remove them from our company and let somebody else tell teach about the most important action in all creation, namely worshiping God. Even worse still, we remove them from worship for play and activity because they don’t understand everything that’s going on…they are stupid and unable to have, much less cultivate, faith. And they should never take communion for we are not ‘sure’ they ‘truly’ ‘believe’ in our ‘fill-in-the-blank-doctrines-necessary-for-true-spiritual-relationship-with-Jesus’. Yep, those Catholics are truly deluded and misguided.

Evangelicals champion the gospel. That name is from the Greek word for gospel, for goodness sake. Yet the gospel isn’t naked. It never has been. It has been clothed and adorned with beauty, tradition, order, dignity, and many other Catholic things. Neither are its recipients bare. We like to think that we are: that God wipes our slates clean at conversion, tabula rasa. Some folks get very near apostasy before they realize that grace’s landing strip needs maintenance. It is not tabula rasa, but tabula humanae. The human mind is vast. God created it that way. But today evangelicals usually see grace only as a heart and soul issue. I hope that you will engage your mind such that you fulfill your Lord’s summary of the Law, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” Regarding our estranged brethren in other Churches, I hope you will struggle to honor Jesus’ words concluding the summary, “And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these to commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.” This is especially true if you have family devoted to the Catholic Church.

Those of us that consider ourselves students of The Book would do well to appreciate the entity that for centuries preserved our Book. We would do even better if we considered their preservation of Scripture at least as authentic in devotion to Christ as our modern accretions. I implore you to move beyond folklore to fact. Call a cease-fire between those that damage one another. Most of all, carefully avoid friendly-fire. We have enough to battle with Islam and secularization crowding out anyone that bears the name of Christ. Sadly, most of us would simply rather believe in the truth of our own making. We much prefer the safe fantasy world that our masters confined us within.

O, Canada!

Next week I'll be in Victoria, BC, Canada for the General Council of the Reformed Episcopal Church, in which I serve. My family have to stay home. I can't help but lament this reality. I don't like to be away for that long. I'm torn, though, because I'm infected with wonder-lust.
I love to travel.

15 October 2008

The Latest with me/us

Okay, there are maybe 3 readers here & that's cool. "Thanks mom" would be a funny comment here but she ain't got that innernet thangy. So whoever you are-thanks for stumbling into my blog.

We finally found the end of our fertility treatment. Here's a rough recap.
Last year we decided for many reasons to try fertility treatments to have another child. So off we went to a specialist. After the first round we had a miscarriage followed by more blood work. That blood work uncovered a problem with our DNA. So we thought we'd try again with a little more treatment than the 1st time to counter-act the DNA issue. But it failed again with another miscarriage. These two events were very, very hard on the Mrs. [not to mention months of shots and pills etc.]. Still we wanted to see if more could be done so that we could have a baby. After all many, many patients endure multiple miscarriages on the way to parenthood. Well, the only way in reality [says the specialist] is to remove one of the two of us from the genetic equation. This is when it gets really hurtful. Donation, surrogacy, etc. became the only options. Surrogacy is for rich folk because it is cost prohibitive. So we're down to egg or sperm donation. At this point all I knew was that it made me uncomfortable. So I set out to find answers. Was this morally right? How would we deal with this in the long run? Could we go through with this?

Where do you go to find answers like this for such new medical treatments?! Christians are divided over this issue. Some say it doesn't matter, so go ahead and do it. Some don't like the idea, but have very little more than anecdotal reasons. The former group sound very uncritical, even un-reflective. The latter sound very critical and uncompromising. One thing is for sure--they all have Bible verses to share. So where is a detailed analysis of this issue? I'm afraid the Anglican Churches have shied away from the issue with typical via-media posturing. Evangelicals can't seem to reason outside of the specific Bible verses they've found...on one side or the other. Then I found the document put out by Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae. 40 years ago the Church foresaw issues like this. And though HV does not specifically address our particular issue, it does say where life is supposed to come from. It discusses the Sacrament of Marriage, the only origin of life ordained from God. It was only a simple deduction for me to decide that we could not 'remove one of us from the equation'.

So it is not a matter of my wife having a baby, rather it is a matter of us having a baby. Today we only hear the media and lobbyists speak of an individual woman and her rights. They've gone too far because neither man nor woman are in this alone, God gave us each other to produce more life within the marriage relationship. Turning the emotional corner together as a couple was really difficult. We had a lot of intense fellowship! What does a couple do when they cannot have a baby?

We already knew the answer. Our 1st child just turned 5 years old. We adopted him at two days old. He is ours. He is a gift...from God...from his birth-mother...from all those who prayed for us through those days. So what, you may ask, is the difference between adopting a child that is not yours & utilizing egg or sperm that is not yours?

That was the biggest hurdle. It seems like wisdom. If you adopted a child from someone else, then it can't be wrong to receive genetic material from someone else so that you can have a child. Love is all that is important, right? Well, I disagree. We are not dealing with 'raw materials'. Physicians are so used to speaking and thinking that way. If my deduction from Humanae Vitae is correct, we should not breach the covenant we cut for any reason, not even to create life. In the case of adoption we did not create the life, yet we redeemed it through adoption. Fertility treatment is for married couples, not individuals, and this couple went as far as a married couple can go with treatment. The two have become one flesh--we cannot undo that for the purpose of bearing children. Our calling is to adopt kids or only have the one, our burden is that we cannot produce our own. So we trust God to help us heal from this hurt [and the hurt of miscarriages].

Already we have turned our attention to the adoption process again. Our son may yet be an only child and we are coming to grips with this too. What ever the future holds we trust God and walk on. What else can we do? As a very dear friend often says, "Life is what happens when there are no longer any options."

01 October 2008

Bad humor

I am amused today to read this post from the Fort Worth
Via Media group.

We are indeed in different libraries, located in different cities [allusion to no longer being on the same page of the book].

11 September 2008

new feature

New feature on the blog. I subscribe to well over 100 blog-feeds that send delightful information my way. A new google feature gives you a window into that world. You can now see the items that I have marked to share with everyone. See the sidebar to the right to peer into my RSS world.

13 August 2008


A few nights ago we saw the Grand Prairie AirHogs baseball club in action.

When we got home my son had this to say about the overcast sky and bright moon.

"Dad, the moon is all blurry. It soaked up all the day-clouds, that's why it's all blurry."

I love the things that come to his mind!

12 August 2008

Meetings--how we all feel about them!

My wife began attending meetings recently to prepare for the school year. That last one took her away from home nearly all day. My son had a sit-down with Ronda about these meetings.

"Mom, why you have so many meetings*? Tell them you don't want to have so many meetings. At my four-year-old-school** we had 'meetings'...we did. We had 'meetings' about the Lego-toys."

Nobody likes a meeting where you get told how to act!

*as if two is a lot...well, they are meetings!
**big boy word for day-care...Ah, so many years ago!

29 July 2008

1st Funeral

My son had a pet frog. His name was Hoppy; he was a White's Tree Frog. Unfortunately the boy had not apprehended that frogs don't play football! Hoppy entered his eternal peace this day due to multiple contusions to his little legs.

So as I dug the hole behind the back fence, my son runs to tell mommy my instructions..., “Mommy, mommy, daddy needs his pray-book!” I hoped to capture the moment for my son and send Hoppy to heaven with all our best intentions. Coming back outside, I heard him telling mommy this prayer, “Jesus, send us another frog, that's the story of a frog.” So we dropped Hoppy in the hole and read the burial service for a child. Ahem, timely.

Moments later as I sat to write this tale I heard the boy screaming out front as if he'd broken a limb. No, no injuries this time. He's just found the answer to his prayer...a huge bull-frog on the front porch. His screams were sort of terror—marked as those frogs are—and half elation for the quick reply from Jesus. Only one problem...we forgot to specify that we wanted a TREE FROG, not a BUSH FROG!

Don't drop us another BUSH FROG, JESUS! This time we need a TREE FROG.

18 July 2008

Saint Augustine's throne

Inklings arise!
Share your favorite Inkling quote as we ponder the Lambeth gathering.

I'll start with...
“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renenwed shall be blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.”~Tolkien

"Fair speech may hide a foul heart.”~Tolkien

"Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes" ~Tolkien, FOTR (Three is company)

"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens"~Tolkien, FOTR (Gimli addressing Elrond, The Ring goes South)

01 July 2008

What we've waited so long for

I know what you're thinking...
A strange picture of a rugby football.
Well, that's what I thought too.

Kidding aside, this is the first shot of the 'coming one' in utero. We have a shot of him in vitro, but we don't know which one of the three he is. Anyway, if you look to the far right 'point' of this rugby football you'll see him protruding into the amniotic sac [dark area at center of picture]. Next Monday we go for the shot of the heartbeat.

31 May 2008


This is the lesson for Sunday. I usually pull from numerous resources online to create and localize these lessons. Sometimes material comes from Catholic sources & sometimes from protestant ones--so they need some adjusting to fit us in the Anglican Church. More often than not I can create a lesson that can be read to the kids. This one is not one of those. It is basically information to help the adults explain the Sacrament to kids. Also this lesson is not on an object per se, but this will likely never be a topic covered in Sunday School and it's a golden chance to talk about this because 1) It's Confirmation Sunday 2) our kids are younger than those going through catechism.


Our 1st Sacramental ceremony.

Since Baptism usually happens so early in a Christian's life, and since the Eucharist is a family/community Sacrament, Confirmation might be the very 1st ceremony that our kids go through that they can take personally.

Confirmation makes us a nation of priests because we all worship God as a holy nation, a chosen people, a royal priesthood. Confirmation is often described as ordination for lay people (non-clergy)! That is exactly right. We are all given the commission from the Bishop to take Christ and His Church as our very own, to serve Him just like we are ministers. The Bishop is involved in both Ordination and Confirmation. He places his hands upon each person that we might receive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Because the Bishop is necessary for Confirmation, Western Christians developed the practice of catechizing their kids first, awaiting the next visit from the Bishop.

Confirmation is also the renewal and confession of our Baptismal vows. When we were Baptized as babies, parents and Godparents spoke the vows on our behalf. Confirmation allows us to make the vows in a Sacramental ceremony in the presence of our Bishop.


What do we do when invited to eat over at someone's home? In most cases there would be three steps: When the time comes (1) we take off our old clothes and wash up by taking a shower or bath. Then (2) we dry off and put on our good clothes. Finally (3) we go to the place where we have been invited and there we join with our friends to talk, eat, & celebrate.

Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist exist in a similar relationship: At Baptism (1) we take off the old, sinful person and wash away Original Sin. At Confirmation (2) we are anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit and filled with His sevenfold gifts. Finally, (3) we are led to the Eucharistic banquet by Jesus our Host.


Have the kids role-play the three steps above [bath, dress, eat]. Encourage them afterward that when we are confirmed we are presenting ourselves to our Host with our best appearance [an act of faith]. There is plenty of material in the room to pretend through these three stages of the event [bath, dress, eat].

Next, have them pretend that they are in an ancient castle where the King is about to make someone a Knight. Have each one take turns receiving the honor of Knight-hood. [Adult may want to play the king to keep them from hitting one another—it happens!] This one might require a play-sword since the King usually pronounces the knight his status with the royal sword & with the knight-to-be on bended knee. This is a great analogy because Knights were the King's servants, ambassadors, and best warriors. When we go through confirmation we are accepting the challenge to serve King Jesus!

Children's Chapel

I've had the opportunity in my parish to develop object lessons for children. We use them during a sort of pull-out program called Children's Chapel. I want to share this week's to see if anyone likes it or otherwise dislikes it. If you comment, please do so on the lesson itself--not on the concept of the program of Children's Chapel. To help separate the two on this blog I'll make the Object Lesson another post from this one. First let me explain a little.
Our parish started this ministry last fall. We have adult volunteers take the children out of the Eucharist before the sermon (during the sermon hymn). We then guide them through an abbreviated liturgy with hymns and responses and prayers pulled straight out of the prayer book. We are not catechizing them, but then we are supporting that effort. We are not entertaining them, though the object lesson should be engaging for children. We are not teaching them another Sunday School lesson, though we are teaching them about our worship. So we try to stay away from playing without a purpose, teaching another Bible Story, or delving deeply into doctrine. It's a guided children's liturgy.
I like it for a few reasons. 1) It allows adults to volunteer for a worship related activity. 2) It allows the kids a momentary break but jumps directly back to a liturgy with guided instruction on a chosen aspect of the liturgy of the Church. 3) It allows visiting families the opportunity to experience formal worship without taking their own children in-and-out to calm them. I know what you may be thinking! But I clearly connect this to guests that don't know what to expect when visiting us. They may never come back if their own rowdy kids bother them the whole time...because our worship is quiet, ordered, and beautiful. Face it, people come from much different experiences and we could at least offer to transition them. 4) We are not trying to replace the family's role to train their kids to worship. This ministry is voluntary so different kids come on different weeks for vastly different reasons. But they always get the liturgy with some guided explanation 5) It allows kids a place to ask questions that they are dying to ask. 'Why do we do this?' 'What is that thing hanging over there?' 'Who is the man in that pretty window?' 6) For those who volunteer, it serves as a great incentive to do the same at home. It's okay to sit our kids down and have them listen to us read, pray, teach.
What do I not like about it? Well, there are only a few logistic changes I'd like to consider, but space doesn't allow for them-so we make do.

12 May 2008

God on the golf course

www.modernreformation.org has new articles on the 'new spirituality' that threatens the Church. Why should you take a look? Surely you've met folk that talk of communing with God while observing nature, listening to waterfalls, or simply driving a golf ball. What kind of communion...with what kind of god?
A few years ago I wrote a review of this article, in which Thomas clearly draws the connection from Gnosticism to Romanticism to our 'new spirituality'. What is Gnosticism, you may ask? Thomas' point is that you don't have to look at ancient writings to find it--it's alive and well today...too well. Basically it is the idea that knowledge of a secret truth [really private truth] is what we should look for in life. It teaches that the physical world is bad and that we should escape it to find our true selves at peace with the divine glob. My review expressed my frustration with his academic exercise that failed to alert the Church to the error lurking so close. The Church has dealt with this one many times. Today, though, they have big celebrities coming to their aid...cough...Oprah! Thomas went so far as to say that we should incorporate their thoughts into our discourse. That's where I jumped off the train.
So do you know people that claim to get in touch with the divine through private encounters with preferential [private] objects of worship? I sure do. These people generally disdain organized religion of any kind. Not only do they despise the Church & Christianity, but they abhor Catholic expressions like the Anglican, Orthodox and Roman Churches.
Our response should be to ramp up the confrontation only after we've endeared ourselves to them, showing them we are authentically committed to them. This will prevent us treating them as subhuman. They will make this hard for us to get across, pushing all our buttons & setting all our virtues on the grinding wheel. Their concerns about religion's abuses are understandable, but not insurmountable.
Our response should also be to embrace the Church all the more, committing ourselves to her life, well-being, and mission.

09 May 2008

This is Jeopardy!

This week the opening line could be..."This is Jesus!"

I have watched Jeopardy since I was very young. My wife knows that it's a life goal of mine to appear on Jeopardy. This week is the 1st of two weeks of College Championships.
I'm just shocked how many questions come from religion, Christianity, the Church, and the Bible.

One category was Get Your B.A. [answers alliterated by B. A.] & one answer was, "In John chapter 3 Jesus says that unless a man be B. A. he cannot see the kingdom of God" to which the question was...silence. Hmmm, I wonder if it's "what is BORN AGAIN!?"

My guess is they wanted to stump the college students since no one studies religion seriously anymore. Their answers support my assumption, unfortunately.

Unless we educate our younger generation about the faith, our Church is in, well, you know...

08 May 2008


This is worth a perusal
"We confess that we Evangelicals have betrayed our beliefs by our behavior. All too often we have trumpeted the gospel of Jesus, but we have replaced biblical truths with therapeutic techniques, worship with entertainment, discipleship with growth in human potential, church growth with business entrepreneurialism, concern for the church and for the local congregation with expressions of the faith that are churchless and little better than a vapid spirituality, meeting real needs with pandering to felt needs, and mission principles with marketing precepts. In the process we have become known for commercial, diluted, and feel-good gospels of health, wealth, human potential, and religious happy talk, each of which is indistinguishable from the passing fashions of the surrounding world.
...All too often we have prided ourselves on our orthodoxy, but grown our churches through methods and techniques as worldly as the worldliest of Christian adaptations to passing expressions of the spirit of the age.
...All too often we have traced our roots to powerful movements of spiritual revival and reformation, but we ourselves are often atheists unawares, secularists in practice who live in a world without windows to the supernatural, and often carry on our Christian lives in a manner that has little operational need for God.
...All too often we have been seduced by the shaping power of the modern world, exchanging a costly grace for convenience, switching from genuine community to an embrace of individualism, softening theological authority down to personal preference, and giving up a clear grasp of truth and an exclusive allegiance to Jesus for a mess of mix-and-match attitudes that are syncretism by another name.
...All too often we have abandoned our Lord’s concern for those in the shadows, the twilight, and the deep darkness of the world, and become cheerleaders for those in power and the naïve sycophants of the powerful and the rich.
...[earlier in the document] The liberal revisionist tendency was first seen in the eighteenth century and has become more pronounced today, reaching a climax in versions of the Christian faith that are characterized by such weaknesses as an exaggerated estimate of human capacities, a shallow view of evil, an inadequate view of truth, and a deficient view of God. In the end, they are sometimes no longer recognizably Christian. As this sorry capitulation occurs, such ―alternative gospels represent a series of severe losses that eventually seal their demise.
...In short, for all their purported sincerity and attempts to be relevant, extreme proponents of liberal revisionism run the risk of becoming what Søren Kierkegaard called ―kissing Judases-– Christians who betray Jesus with an interpretation.
...The fundamentalist tendency is more recent, and even closer to Evangelicalism, so much so that in the eyes of many, the two overlap. We celebrate those in the past for their worthy desire to be true to the fundamentals of faith, but Fundamentalism has become an overlay on the Christian faith and developed into an essentially modern reaction to the modern world. As a reaction to the modern world, it tends to romanticize the past, some now-lost moment in time, and to radicalize the present, with styles of reaction that are personally and publicly militant to the point where they are sub-Christian."

06 May 2008

"Do, or do not. There is no 'try.'"

The Vatican says that Anglicans must choose sides...protestant or Catholic. We usually call ourselves both!
"Does it [Anglican Church] belong more to the churches of the first millennium -Catholic and Orthodox - or does it belong more to the Protestant churches of the 16th century?"

If Rome is willing to live by those qualifications [1st Millennium vs. 16th century dogma] then we have something to talk about. I'm not trying to push an ultra-protestant agenda, but I'm being hopeful that Rome is willing to unify around the first Millennium of our common Faith.

"He [Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council of Christian Unity] said he hoped that the Lambeth conference, an event which brings the worldwide Anglican Communion together every 10 years, would be the deciding moment for Anglicanism."

Him don't know much about Lambeth, do he?

"Cardinal Kasper, who has been asked to speak at the Lambeth Conference by the Archbishop of Canterbury, said: "We hope that certain fundamental questions will be clarified at the conference so that dialog will be possible."

When said questions are not clarified, it is hoped that they will countenance the GAFCon structure. It will be a long, long summer.

Anglican Way Institute Conference

July 2008
Finding Grace through the Sacraments

Traditional Anglican Conference for young men and women.
Common Cause Partners, Reformed Episcopal Church, United Anglican Church, Anglican Mission in America, Anglican Province of America, Convocation of Anglicans in North America, Episcopal Missionary Church, Orthodox Anglican Church, The Anglican Church in America, The Diocese of the Holy Cross, FiFNA, ACiC, ACN, AAC, ANiC--you name the jurisdiction...this conference will appeal.

21 April 2008


"Whoa-ho-ho there partner"~Woody from Toy Story

comments please, I have my own but I'm reserving it for a while
[original link was deleted]

17 April 2008

Facing East

Some claim that we face east because Jerusalem is in the east. What a western perspective! Recently a participant in Sunday School mentioned this view to be the way it was taught to them. Well, what do Churches to the east of Jerusalem do? Do they face [or better, are they constructed] the west since Jerusalem is to their west?
Fr. Hunwicke turns on the light.

15 April 2008

If ever in northern Wales

yea, right! next time I'm on holiday I'll be sure to nip over here.

Blog Roll

For a while I'm going to be really busy completing a course assignment. Meanwhile I'll link to stories from some interesting blogs that I frequent. Hope you enjoy.

17 March 2008

Orthodox? You keep using that word...

C. Michael Patton, a classmate of mine back in seminary days, has a conversation going on about the kind of Orthodox we claim to be. I have pointed my readers to his blog before. When I posted on my choice to seek orders in the Anglican Church, he was kind enough to point his readers over here, and besides I read his blog daily--Usually good reading (but then, not all posts are Michael's!).

Chime in over at Parchment & Pen.

Kind of reminds me of that famous quote from Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride.
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. "

14 March 2008


In case you're thinking of reading George Barna & Frank Viola's recent book, let me save you the dime and the time. In my job I come across books from time to time. Mostly I just process them and push them on. Sometimes I cannot help but read their jackets, TOCs, and contents. This one I could not help. My summary of it's logic follows:

All those christians that wear clothing are children of Satan. You see, Satan brought evil into the world and Adam and Eve took it into their beings. Clothing is introduced to us because of Sin, i.e. a corruption of the way things ought to be. So since nowhere in scripture, particularly not in the New Testament, are we commanded to wear that reprehensible accretion called clothing we should NOT EVER do such a thing. To do so is Pagan. Take off your grave clothes. yuck.

Barna and Viola basically thumb their noses at all others who dare to think about Christianity, especially those clueless Church Infants [we normally call them Church Fathers], who brought every corruption from Roman society and Greek philosophy into our pure Jesusanity they could get away with. Anyone else have any ideas?...you're wrong because you're viewing it through your corrupt Demoninational lenses. You are so blinded. Thanks, I guess, for preserving the Bible [if in fact you did so without corruption] for me to learn about my private Jezuz.

09 March 2008

Nicely Done

I am not Roman Catholic, but I like this piece.
A little 'rocky' at the end, but good.

03 March 2008

Lost in Revision

Well, I could not help it. A little levity and satire follows. Don't read any further if you want Holy Stuff to read for your spiritual gut. You were warned.

At the online Anglican community at the bottom of my webpage, I've been a little outspoken lately about revising the language of the prayer book. Some folks support revising (updating) the language (but not theology) of the 1662 & 1928 prayer books that classical Anglicans hold so dear. I put forward a view that we should not do this because we will lose very many beautiful phrases and thoughts that shape us as worshipers. Lex orandi lex credendi and all that.

Mindful that aesthetics are at stake, let me post here some prayers following the translation advice over at www Engrish com. Go there for the rules. Read below the results.
Disclaimer! I don't think updating the language of the prayer book will necessarily produce the following results! Please understand that these examples are meant to overstate the case and be funny. Ahem.

General confession (from Morning Prayer):

Omnipotent God and most mercies deep father; We error, came off from the method like the sheep which is gone. We continued the many our itself central devices and craving. We happened vis-a-vis holy law. Those things we should do, us being canceled, you went away; And we us should do did those things; And there is no health in us. But, of O in our miserable offenders, there is a mercy mainly. The God of O of the people who confess extra their defect. The people who are recovery; Following to thy promise, it declared our main things to the Christ yes Christ's mankind. And subsidy, most mercies for that for O deep father; From now on, being fair in glory of thy holy name, and perhaps us calm life, you live. Amen

Nicene Creed:

I faith the God 1 omnipotent God of the father, am visible in the heaven, and the earth and the eye believe the manufacturer of all things which are not visible: And 1 being main, the son where Christ's yes Christ God is born simply; Before the God all world it is born from that father, very the light/write of God, very God of the light/write of God; It is born, it is not made; It is one substance where the father has been attached; Who where thing everything was made by: It comes, with Mary's the Holy Mother saintly spirit, manifesting, the person, and it makes, high with our people, someone for our rescues from the heaven: And and it was controlled our because under Pontius Pilate; He was buried to suffer,: And, 3rd day he rose following to Hebrews' Bible, stand for the second time: And being risen in the heaven, with the right hand of the father putting: And he comes with glory for the second time, is fast and judges the deceased; Someone's kingdom there is no edge? And I faith saintly spirit of the life which advances from the father and the son, believe the main thing, and the contribution person; It was worshiped together, praised someone of the father and the sons; Story it is high someone, with the predicator: And I believe one holy Catholic teaching and the apostle church: I recognize one baptism for pardoning the crime: And I search the revival of the deceased: And life of the world where it comes. Amen.

If that doesn't do it for you...

The Lord's prayer:

Our fathers who to the heaven are converted the thy name which is holy. Afterlife you. When with the earth there is a heaven, simultaneously, it ended your will. Our everyday pans give this day in us. When we who invade and us vis-a-vis us are permitted simultaneously, permit our invasions in us. And do to lead us to the temptation which is not, but give birth from badness. The kingdom, and power, and glory for your are and. Amen.

I feel better.

19 February 2008


I think I'll post some more poetry soon.
I have not got the energy to explain why I have not posted much.
I'll let the poetry speak for me; & to me.

06 February 2008

Comedic Gut-punch!

Ooooh, this one is good.

"In the 1930's, Reinhold Niebuhr famously observed that liberal Protestantism preached "a God without wrath who brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross." More recently, in one of my favorite lines, somebody whose name I cannot track down said that liberal Christians (among whom we should count Catholic progs) would rather be the world's missionaries to the Church than the Church's missionaries to the world."

Ouch. Read it all here. Scroll down to 2/4/2008.

04 February 2008


...not mine, Socrates' as recorded by Plato.

So Socrates is dragged into court by a man named Meletus. Meletus accuses Socrates of not believing in the gods of ancient Greece—knowing that it would bring shame and penalty to Socrates. Moreover, he accuses Socrates of teaching this heresy to the youth of Athens as well as accepting payment for the education.
Socrates demonstrates the earliest known legal defense in history. I'm told it is still studied today. It is quite a piece of work how he turns Meletus' accusation on its head. First he uses inclusion to show that Meletus accuses Socrates alone of corrupting the youth. He uses the analogy of horsemanship to illustrate this. Only a few people can tame a horse, but Meletus seems to say that only one man can corrupt what everyone else trains. Not only is this contrary to experience, it assumes that there is only one impious man, namely Socrates. Surely this is nonsense evil men surely existed or else the jury itself would not have been a precedent to call upon.
Next Socrates attacks Meletus' charge of atheism. He asks whether one can believe in spiritual things and not believe in spirits. Pluralism collapsed Meletus' argument. Of course spiritual things are derived from spirits, just as children of gods come from gods. Meletus cannot rebut this reality without being an atheist himself.
Next Socrates defends his modest appearance before the jury. He defends his virtuous life while refusing to fear death. He appears in court alone to defend himself without calling witnesses, allowing the jury to judge him on the basis of his own words. Strangely much of his argument is attributed to a sort of inspiration from a god. He appeals to vision he received from this deity in a very personal way. I am shocked to find this in ancient literature. The jury, however, convicts Socrates of atheism and sentences him to death.

Now my apology. I have only read the Apology that Plato records. I have not read anything about Socrates—in fact I'm trying hard not to go to secondary literature. I am in a History of Philosophy course because I have no substantial exposure to philosophy. These posts on readings from Cahn's Classics of Western Philosophy 7th ed. are my own thoughts before the presentation of the lecturer. I admit my status of a novice--yet I’m trying not to remain a dilettante.

I mean no offense, little masters!

This is a scream! It's a satirical piece on the emergent folk.

After reading the glossary you might understand why another blogger refers to the emergent crowd as "emerjerks". No offense, but it's funny.

16 January 2008

Not so "Golden Compass"

Well I'm buried under personal projects and activities. But I wanted to surface long enough to comment on Pullman's The Golden Compass & the movie adaptation. SPOILER ALERT!

I just finished reading the 1st two sections of Compass and I'm compelled to go no further. Here are my reasons. 1. I am too busy to do so. 2. I already know where the trilogy is going. 3. The movie adaptation did not follow the book closely enough. 4. No more movies are likely to be made in the trilogy.

Point 3 needs more information. I took my father to see it during Christmas (of all times) & was impressed with the animation. So was my father, except he was not impressed when he discovered that we weren't watching National Treasure. He had that movie in mind when I made the suggestion to watch Compass. I hope his congregation were not boycotting the movie! My bad, dad. I found the movie shamelessly grasping at the plot-line, rushing over details and transitions, & finally--did not finish the book. That's right! The movie only finished the 1st two parts of the book's material. The other big failure is that the movie adaptation seemed to mask the book's culprits (the Church) behind a flat & vague concept of grown-ups. Gotta hate those grown-ups! If the director did this to make a buck, it back-fired. The movie was too short compared to other recent hits (Narnia, LOTR) & only scored with its dose of big names and fancy animation. Where I come from we call that "lip-stick and rouge". That phrase means there is no substance so ya have to dress it up to appeal to a shallow audience.

I'm not saying the book is poorly written, though. I think it is a good read overall. But coursework and ministry are calling so I will put down the toys and pick up the tools.

Posts for a while will be my responses to material I'm reading for coursework. It will be philosophical material, but my treatment of it will be my own.

02 January 2008


The Journey of the Magi

'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For the journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins,
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death,
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

~T. S. Eliot