Read Feathers and Bananna Peels first, here.

I've been thinking more about feathers and bananna peels.  Specifically, thinking about how this relates to the Trinity.

I've been thinking about it like this:  God the Creator is like the parent, watching the little girl play with the feather, observe it, blow it.  Enjoying the reaction, loving her for it, believing that she can learn from it.  And when she takes that experience of how the world works and starts to apply it with others, and begins tearing up the bananna peel with her siblings, he hopes she doesn't make a big mess.  And if she does, he hopes she cleans it up.  When she fights with her sibling over the bananna peel in the milk, he doesn't judge her for it.  He doesn't interfere.  He understands that those are part of the interactions that she needs to mature.  That she needs to learn how to negotiate with others in order to become a fully functioning adult.  He understands that it is difficult sometimes.  But he also knows that we are here– that we have to have full free choice in order to learn and grow.  And that when we make the right choices– when my four year old finally uses words instead of hitting to get what she wants– those are the moments when God is delighted with us.  Those are the moments that make it worthwhile. Read the rest of this entry »

This is part of a response I wrote on another blog.  I rather like it and decided to throw it up here, as it is past my bedtime so I just know I'm going to be running late in the morning and probably not able to post anything…

We all need the help and illumination of the Holy Spirit in order to guide us through Scripture.

The honest answer is this: I don't know what to do with the Scriptures that say some are excluded. Maybe after I'm through seminary I'll have a better answer. But for now I just sort of keep those on a shelf in a shoebox.

What I do know is this– I have known from the moment I was born that I could not believe in a God who ever let anyone suffer eternally. It has been intuitive for me that a God who created us had to create us out of love. That love had to be infinite, like the love I know from my parents. Infinite love cannot allow exclusion.

Somebody is bound to bring up judgement and so on. Justice for me occurs over a long period of time through the spirit. The title of my blog is "leaning towards justice"- a quote from my rector, who said that over time, the arc of history always leans towards justice. That is the judgment I believe in. That in the biggest picture God always wins (slavery is over, Apartheid came to an end, the Holocaust ended and Hitler's regime fell, women are gaining rights, and now so are gays and lesbians, etc.).

Just like I don't get involved in every childish sibling squabble between my kids, I don't think God necessarily "keeps a list" of every right and wrong here. But I do try to get my kids to learn from their mistakes. I encourage them to grow. To become better people. I don't force them to do that. I do it lovingly, as only a parent, teacher, coach, mentor, priest, can. And so does God, I believe. Read the rest of this entry »

You may have to be a parent to appreciate this post, so just a warning.  I woke up on this Memorial Day morning with my four year old daughter in bed next to me, and she had found a tiny little feather (maybe out of a pillow or something).  She was holding this feather, and just examining it and looking at it closely and scrupulously, as only a four year old can.  Then, slowly, she pulled it close to her mouth, and holding it tight, she blew it to see how the feathers would react.  She looked at it again, then she blew it again.  Over and over again she blew the little feather.  How great to be four years old.  Everything is new.  Everything is exciting.  Nothing is impossible- it is all just one big experiment.

Now, as I sit with my kids at the table next to me eating their breakfast (my son with his Frosted Flakes and my daughter with her Lucky Charms), my daughter is waving her spoon over her bananna peel saying "spoon spoon can make it into a witch" while my son is asking me about werewolves.  We watched Harry Potter last night.  Go figure. Read the rest of this entry »

I receive mailings from ETSS as an entering student.  I really liked this sermon as it discusses the need for community and partnership in the church in a way that I think is very helpful. 

The Commencement Sermon by J. David Grizzle, member of the ETSS Board of Trustees and Senior Vice-president — Customer Experience — Continental Airlines, Houston, Texas — given at the 53rd Commencement of the Seminary of the Southwest at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, Austin, Texas, on May 16, 2006

There are No Solo Practitioners in the Kingdom of God


Arriving from Lithonia, Georgia for my freshman year at Harvard in 1971, I felt that I was finally occupying the place for which I had been born, clinching the destiny for which I had been created; and I intended to put my full-blooded redneck trailer-trash roots behind me as fast and as fully as possible. I was a product of Harvard's enlightened affirmative action program, and humiliatingly, I had ridden three separate Greyhound busses 28 hours from Atlanta to Cambridge to start college because we couldn't afford the price of an airplane ticket. But every action I took after that bus ride confirmed to me that I was where I should be, doing what I should do, and that I could handle things on my on from this point forward. It was not until 30 years after my arrival in Cambridge that I began to learn the power of working with others as teammates. That's what the Bible readings for today are about and what I want to discuss with you this morning.

Winter came early my freshman year. I had seen ice and sleet in Georgia but never true snow, and it seemed fitting to me to celebrate its arrival by joining a group of other freshmen boys (and that's really all we were) on a march to Radcliffe — about a mile away, where all the girls were, to pelt them with snowballs. When we got to Radcliffe, because I had the loudest mouth, I started barking out instructions about how we were going to charge North House where there actually were a lot of girls apparently waiting to be charged. I thought I had made my plans perfectly clear and, more importantly, I perceived that all the other boys had acquiesced in them, when I yelled "Charge" and went running across the Quad. I assumed that on my heels were dozens of inspired followers. So confident of this was I that it never dawned on me to look back at my supporters until I was within pelting range of the girls.

Read it all.

What exactly is "progressive Christianity" anyway?  Well here is a group I know very little about who has defined it, in 8 very simple but articulate points.  I stumbled across them a few years ago but the 8 points have stuck with me.  Find them here.

By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who…

  1. Have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus,

  2. Recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other names for the way to God’s realm, and acknowledge that their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us,

  3. Understand the sharing of bread and wine in Jesus’s name to be a representation of an ancient vision of God’s feast for all peoples,

  4. Invite all people to participate in our community and worship life without insisting that they become like us in order to be acceptable (including but not limited to):
    believers and agnostics,
    conventional Christians and questioning skeptics,
    women and men,
    those of all sexual orientations and gender identities,
    those of all races and cultures,
    those of all classes and abilities,
    those who hope for a better world and those who have lost hope; Read the rest of this entry »

I was reading another blog yesterday and stumbled across this link.  I think it is highly informative and, when combined with the psychological perspective I offered a few days ago, describes precisely the path through which we travel– AND the place where so many of us get stuck in trying to lay out the “us” and the “them” when trying to categorize salvation.  Note:  The below article is quoted from the linked source, above, and is not my content.

James Fowler’s Stages of Faith in ProfileJames Fowler, Ph.D. is a developmental psychologist, a United Methodist layperson, and Director of the Center for Faith Development at Emory University. He is the premiere pioneer of the study of Faith development, and his book Stages of Faith (Harper & Row, 1981) is a ground-breaking classic. His work with Faith research is of great importance to the study of transpersonal psychology in that, he posits, faith (moreso than religion, or belief) “is the most fundamental category in the human quest for relation to transcendence.” (14) And the stages of faith development, regardless of where one finds them, or in what religious context, are amazingly uniform. Faith to Fowler is a holistic orientation, and is concerned with the individual’s relatedness to that which is universal, even though the religious context be relative, even arbitrary. Fowler identifies six stages through which pilgrim of faith invariably travels.

The first stage Fowler calls Intuitive-Projective faith. It usually occurs between the ages of three and seven, and is characterized by the psyche’s unprotected exposure to the Unconscious. Imagination runs wild in this stage, uninhibited by logic. It is the first step in self-awareness and when one absorbs one’s culture’s strong taboos. The advantages of this stage are the birth of imagination and the growing ability to grasp and unify one’s perception of reality. Stage one is also dangerous, though, in that the child’s imagination can be “possessed” by unrestrained images of terror and destruction from the unconscious, and the exploitation of the fertile imagination by enforced taboos and indoctrination. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning to fly

May 28, 2006

First FlightI took my daughter to see "Over the Hedge" yesterday.

It was a really cute movie, I thought, and had lots of really great lessons as most kids movies do.

But what really grabbed me was the short film that opened the movie.  It is called "First Flight."

It is so human.  The stage is set with a very uptight, hurried, middle-aged man late for work, trying to catch the bus.  His comb-over hair-do is giving him lots of problems, and his pens in his pocket-protector just won't stay straight.  He has lots of papers and post-it notes in his briefcase, and everything has to be arranged just-so.  He gets to his bus stop and waits for the bus.

His face is worn, drained from the stress of daily life, pained from too many years of trying to get to this bus stop on time, keeping his hair just-so, and his pens just-right.  What struck me about him at this point in the film is how many of us go through life just like this– never knowing anything different.  Marching to the same bus stop every day, following the same routine, doing the same thing, following the same tradition, just because.  We get worn down just from living not because we intend to, but just because we forget to keep trying to do anything different to feed our souls, our spirits.

So anyway- next he goes through a few unfortunate events with his pens, resulting in an inkblot on his shirt, and finally gets settled on the bench waiting for the bus.  But then he gets a surprise.  A baby bird drops out of the tree and lands on the bench next to him.  He tries desparately to ignore this bird– afraid of it even, but the bird will have none of it.

Long story short, he ends up loosening up, working with the bird to try and teach it to fly, and then the bus comes.  The audience is left in suspense as we think he has left the poor bird, but of course the bus pulls away revealing the man standing behind the bus to continue working with the bird– and then he really gets into it.  He puts his comb-over up into a tuff, post-it notes all over his body, and looks pretty much like a bird himself so that he can teach this bird to fly.  He neglects his tradition and daily routine so that he can build this relationship with this bird.

I thought this was just such a powerful statement on the state of affairs in our own lives.  Not only the obvious connection to the church– we obviously have a choice to make between getting on the bus our reaching out to those who need assistance in learning to fly in our religious institutions– but also in our daily lives.  How often do we make decisions to just go on with our daily routines, oblivious to the world around us?  For me it is so important to stay fully awake.  To fully absorb the wonder and texture of this world.  I've been the guy with the comb-over and the perfect pens.  That stability has its time in our lives.  But to stay there to the point where our faces are pained, drained of energy, and we are afraid of embracing the new relationships that the world has to offer is not healthy for us.  To give us new energy we must be willing to fly.  To teach others to fly.  To fly together.  Even when we don't look much like those we are flying with.  After all, it isn't really about seeing how many times we can get on the bus– its really about flying together and soaring through the skies.