In medieval Europe, when books were copied by hand onto scraped hide; monks would painstakingly illustrate the first letter of important pages and fill the margins with figures and designs. Text was expensive and the illumination of texts was often a spiritual discipline that venerated the writings.
Back in 2004, on our honeymoon in Central America, visiting the remote sites of US-inspired massacres, I caught giardia, an intestinal parasite, and I held onto it for five years despite multiple courses of antibiotics. I spent many Saturdays napping, barely holding it together from the week. I felt like my insides were falling apart.
We think we know what we believe. We think that we believe in life after death or the resurrection, or in the virginity of Mary. But mostly, belief is what we say we believe when we're being grilled by a fundamentalist or reciting the Nicene Creed. Belief is social performance. We believe we believe something when we tell others we believe it.
I have always believed in magic. Perhaps I believe in magic because I would be bored by a world limned by quadratic equations. But more than that, I don't think we'll ever be able to map the complexities that arise from the simplest of rules. There will always be room for the mystery that has propelled humanity since the inception of language.
In college, I wrote a program to describe the behavior of ants. When they found food, they laid down "pheromones" as they carried it back to the hive. Other ants would follow the pheromone trail to the food, laying down more pheromones. Based on these rules, I expected my ants to behave like flesh-drugged zombies. But what boggled my mind was when the ants appeared excited by the pheromone trail. Behavior emerged from this incredibly simple system that I couldn't explain, even though I'd coded it. I was ignorant to the complexities arising from even the simplest of rules. How much more ignorant are we in understanding the infinite complexity emerging from the human mind? Or complexities emerging from human language?
The Grow Your Own Farm-to-Table campaign was a total success!!!! We raised $10,770, with another $1,000 and change pledged. That makes it possible to even build an iPhone application if grassroots folks want it!!! I'm overwhelmed with gratitude. So many of you responded with such generosity. So many of you helped by sharing and encouraging me. THANK YOU!!!
Definitely, I'm not one much given to joy. I'm far more likely to escape from normal with a fantasy novel than I am to delight in the cutting of vegetables and the washing of dishes.
I'm not so rare a bird as Brother Lawrence, who can practice the presence of God as easily as whistling. No, for me, practicing the presence of God in the midst of the ordinary is a thew-straining effort. Thews being what characters in fantasy novels strain when they're wielding a battle axe or rescuing a distressed maiden. Which we feminists no longer do.
Paper economy. The term reminds us that our economy was once literally based on pieces of paper. Economics is our society’s primary method of keeping track of value. The problem is that the economic system of value-keeping, the paper economy, is out of sync with the earth. We don’t need Wendell Berry to remind us that an ecological catastrophe has arrived. And yet the logic of paper, economic profit, is the primary decision matrix for states and multinational corporations.
Our scripture today sounds like a cacophony, does it not? All those voices. Job, scratching his sores in the ashes of his life with a shard of broken pottery. Elijah, splitting a bull into four blood-soaked pieces and calling down the fire of God to defeat the prophets of Baal. Sort of a my-God-is-bigger-than-yours. St. John of Patmos telling us that if we trust ourselves to the sword we will be slain by it. And then the Roman centurion. The boss. He recognizes power in Christ because he himself has power on earth. Heal my servant! he says My earthly power is profane next to yours. And Jesus does.
As a man who identifies as a feminist, I'm going to comment on this article from my own perspective. First, a little quoting is in order,
Kurt Willems asks whether or not nonviolence helps or hinders evangelism. I believe that some of our metaphors for personal change and God, when read in the context of a violent state, are rendered utterly terrifying to late modern people in the United States. That is to say, the church must differentiate itself from the State through nonviolence, or our concepts of God will be read as totalitarian and frightening.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NRSV
People have asked why I critiqued "Idolatry of God," and pointed out that Rollins' earlier works were much clearer on God. Oddly, there seems to be a criticism/dialogue phobia in the emergent church. As for me, I find spiritual and intellectual critique invigorating and healthy and was rather baffled by the strong response Micah Bales' post got.
So I found my old copy of "How (not) to Speak of God" by Peter Rollins, and started poking around (it was lost for the last few weeks).
They look like big, good, strong hands, don't they. I always thought that's what they were. Ahh, my little friends, the little man with his racing snail. The nighthawk. Even the stupid bat. I couldn't hold on to them. the Nothing pulled them right out of my hands. I failed.
-Rock-biter, in The Neverending Story
I love Peter Rollins' honesty about his dark night of the soul.
He's popularized a term for the intellectual position accompanying the dark night of the soul: a/theism. I interpret Peter's thought as being in relation to an experience of God's absence. [Note: corrected this paragraph's content from "even coined" to "popularized. Turns out another author coined a/theism."]
my books are my mind
spilled out in pages
scattered across shelves
i am sifting through my ancestors
the sacred and profane
remembering and forgetting
i am becoming
my path is a line of green
I am a thousand flames
from the black ink
is to divide:
the beating of a heart
it is 9 o'clock in the morning
and my brain is full of tongues
to a president's plan
for an ailing economy
a recalcitrant congress
ground finer still
by the pecking fingers of reporters
stuffed into the airwaves
like a sausage.
my dreams were cobweb
clinging in my mouth
in the light
as I waited for the snooze
my dream persisted
like hope but soured
a sharp toothbrush punctures
i elect Ira Glass
soft king of my ear
a small truth
into five acts
there is coffee
and I go
before the dawning fluorescence
i was predestined to arrive
a little late
i know how to empty myself
but where does it go?
time swept me
like the metro
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