New ‘Blog

12 October 2011

I have no idea how many people actually still check this ‘blog, or some people might still be subscribed.

But for those who liked this ‘blog when it was live, I am linking to my new ‘blog: The Urban Seeker.

Some of the pages on here will likely migrate over, or maybe just resurface as a post.


Before my Intro to the Study of Religion class this afternoon, my classmate Adrienne mentioned that the MDiv students were all writing a chapter from their spiritual autobiographies.  I told her that I was doing a bit of the same . . . .

As I said in my last installment,  this all still feels a bit puzzling.  On the one hand, it feels normal; that is, it makes sense to me, it seems like a natural place to be, and a normal thing to be doing.

At the same time, I have noticed lately a real unwillingness to recognize the ripples this is making: schedules, relationships, responsibilities, perspectives all need to be rethought and reconsidered.

Plodding forward as if today was June 12 and not October 12 is foolish.  And yet it feels as if it is the way I’m operating.  These are mistaken assumptions.

The road that I’ve taken to get here is not one that is entirely clear, and the next step isn’t either.  Much has changed since I started this ‘blog, and yet I am still who I am.

In a lot of ways, I think the best course of action is to face each day with great humility and obedience, asking, “What is to be done today?”  Or, to ask the tri-partite questions of obedience “What do I need?  What do others need?  What do the circumstances dictate, apart from the wants and needs of the people involved?”

Easier said than done.  I would really like some large-scale paradigm definitions, but they’re just not coming right now.  Or maybe it’s that the new paradigm is unparadigmatic.

So as some you know, I’ve started at the University of Chicago Divinity School in the last few weeks.

It’s gone well, but one thing that’s struck me is the unbelievability of it.

Have you ever gotten to a point, looked around, and wondered, “How did I get here?”

I’ve been wondering a bit about how I ended up in Divinity School, something that I would have never imagined six or seven years ago.

And yet, now it seems quite natural.  Normal.  The idea crept into my head half a dozen years ago, partly in conjunction with reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and partly from the perceived freedom of inquiry and exploration afforded by divinity schools.

It is a curious road.  I hope in the next little while to post some reflections on this road.

I see this as a successor to The Wingèd Man’s Faith Journey (here, here, here, and here).

So, I’m going to try to revive this thing. Expect a post soon. Maybe.

A pre-schooler on the potty pretending to be singing in church:

I hear the glory, the glory, the glory; I hear the glory searching for a snack.

Pet Airways is a pet airline

This is for real.  I guess it’s good for those who need to travel with a pet; I can’t imagine it’s more expansive than a hired dog-walker.

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It is in the Little Way that all ways converge. It is not in the big things: rituals performed, ceremonies adhered to, knowledge acquired. The Little Way is the way we treat all the little things, especially time, the littlest thing. Who can see it?

* * *

Today I received a startling email. A former student of mine wrote me and asked my forgiveness for his being so disrespectful and difficult in class.

I granted him forgiveness immediately, and I commended him for his honesty and maturity.

If only we all had that same courage to admit what we have done wrong and make amends.

Rule Resource

12 May 2009

Speaking to the Soul: Building a Trellis (by Margaret Guenther.)

I’ve been thinking about Rules of Life lately, and Derek has pointed out another resource. 

After only a brief perusal, I find that Guenther’s thinking about rules is my own.

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I mentioned before that I seem to be famous by proxy, in that I’ve known a bunch of famous people, but that I am not famous myself.  From what I can tell, it’s a common condition.

I knew Padre Alberto when he was just Albert, a seminarian at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary.  I met him when I was a youth leader at a retreat held at the seminary.  We were actually supposed to camp out that weekend, as the seminary has fairly large grounds perfect for a few dozen campers.  But there were thunderstorms the first night we were there and even a tornado warning, so the camp was abandoned and we all headed into the seminary for the night.  I slept with the other youth leaders in, from what I remember, either a small auditorium or a large classroom.  The younger retreatants were in other rooms.

Albert helped us get the younger folks situated, and then proceeded to stay up with the youth leaders and talk about all manner of things.  Albert was different from the other seminarians in that he was friendly, affable, —in a word, normal— while the rest of the seminarians were more or less socially awkward.  Having been around a few seminaries in my life, that’s a fairly normal situation, no offense to seminarians.  If I was a seminarian, I’d probably be one of the social misfits as opposed to an Albert.

Albert at the time was probably 23 or 24, meaning he was a year or two from ordination.  We really got along well, and I admired him.  Here was someone I could relate to studying for the priesthood.

That summer, I volunteered at Miami Children’s Hospital, and one day in the lunchroom I ran into Albert.  Today, I know that what he was doing was working on his CPE, at the time I just thought he was working as a chaplain.  I saw him several times and we would talk and were friendly.

I always remembered Albert, but thought of him rarely.  One day a few years ago I turned on the television, and there he was: “Padre Alberto” on a Spanish-language station dispensing advice.  By this point he was Father Oprah, the young, successful TV priest, adored by millions of Latina grandmothers who wished he was the son (but more likely, nephew or, more ironically, the son-in-law) they never had.

I was happy to see his success.  That he was in the media was no surprise, as he had been a DJ before seminary, and was active in DJing a little bit into seminary.

This whole controversy has made me very sad.  Not so much because I am disappointed in Father Albert, but because the paparazzi and media take advantage of it for gain and for the ruin of a person’s life and sometimes several persons’ lives.

Albert made a promise of celibacy, and I feel he should have lived it out, but at the same time he had no choice.  Either be a celibate Roman Catholic priest, or be no priest at all.  I cannot blame Father Albert, because the very reason I did not go into the priesthood was because I did not feel called to celibacy.

It is possible that he may have been felt called to celibacy at 23 or 24, but that by his 30s he realized not.  At that point, what choice is there for a priest, especially a good one?  I feel he probably felt trapped, but still called to priestly ministry.

Please pray for Father Albert and all those who know him and are involved in this.

Lately, as I’ve mentioned earlier, I’ve been reading Greek regularly for the first time in a long time.  I decided to start with the Gospel of Mark, since his Greek is “bad,” which is to say “easy,” since it doesn’t seem to be his first or most comfortable language.

Maybe it’s because I’m reading the Gospels not in English, but when I read it in Greek, the people in the Gospel seem much more pitiable and pathetic.  I do not mean those words in the usual, insulting way that we mean them these days, but in the sense that I am moved to feel sorry for the people around Jesus.  The apostles, notoriously hapless and clueless, seem even more country-bumpkin-ish in Greek, for some reason.  The Gerasene demoniac (whose story I read this morning) moves my heart to pity more than normal.  With his whole “I am legion for we are many” is usually in English seen as a kind of creepy, horror-movie line.  But in Greek it strikes me as a plaintive, oh-there’s-so-many-spirits-in-me-as-to-be-exhausting line.

But maybe that’s just me.  Anybody else have this experience?