The Territory of Together

I'm digging into Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "Life Together" now. If I hadn't read Bonhoeffer before, I wouldn't have gotten past the first few pages; but when he says things like this: "Spiritual love, however, comes from Jesus Christ, it serves him alone; it knows that it has no immediate access to other persons.", and this: "Where Christ bids me to maintain fellowship for the sake of love, I will maintain it. Where his truth enjoins me to dissolve a fellowship for love's sake, there I will dissolve it, despite all the protests of my human love," I feel like I'm in a theological bouncy castle. Yippee!

I need to think more about this, but I believe I'm beginning to see a different picture of community.

I forgot that "community" is such a buzz-word. I realized that I don't have to limit myself to any of the popular and trendy meanings of the word.

I remembered that the "C" in LC stands for Community, and so…


I finished reading the book “Holy Listening” and realized it had left behind a big old scruffy, flea-bitten dog of doubt sitting right in front of me demanding to be fed, or at least petted.

The book concludes with some thoughts about women as spiritual directors, and women’s changing roles in ministry in the context of the Episcopal Church. The author, Margaret Guenther, is an Episcopal Priest, and it was clear that she had very clear and unambiguous notions about the differences between men and women; both in the roles and rules that society imposes; and about the different ways that women vs. men approach relationships.

My ambiguity stems from a realization I had quite a long time ago, and it raised up its head again as I set down the book. This is the gist of it:

I cannot identify with either side of the gender polarization: neither male or female! I don’t recognize any aspect of myself in any of the masculine or feminine attributes, or talents, or habits that Guenther describes w…

Stinky Stuff

(I’m now engaged in the process of “reading for Holy Orders”; which is a prescribed course of study leading to ordination. I’ll be using my blog part of the time as a platform for my reflections on the reading I’m doing. The block I’m in right now is “Ecclesial Theology,” which is a fancy name for theological reflections written for (and by) the believing community for the purpose of expanding and enriching the mutual life of the church.)

I've started reading "Holy Listening" by Margaret Guenther, and I agree with much of what she says about how to listen, and what are the general characteristics of the relationship between what she calls "director" and "directee"; but I kept smelling a faint odor of something... something that smelled just a bit "off". There's a saying among Zen folks-- "The stink of Zen"-- which has something to do with a person having a set of ideas about Zen, and proceeding to discriminate based on those id…

Harp-Song 133

A song of ascents by David


What Good!


What Pleasance!

A family tree

of siblings

a nation living together!

As the good oil

on the head descending—

on the beard—

the beard of Aaron.

Falling down on

the collar

of his coat.

As the night mists

of Hermon fall

on the mountains of Zion—

because it was there that

Yahweh taught the blessing—

life into eternity.

This is another rendition of a psalm derived from the Hebrew Interlinear source online.

A couple of interesting notes: The word shbth, which is translated as “family tree,” is related to the word for the Sabbath— Shabbat. It also can mean “clan” or “tribe”; as well as “branch” or “a walking stick made from a tree-branch”.
The oil in the poem is the oil of anointing used to bless and consecrate a person for the service of God.
Also, there is a nice poetic alignment between ascent and descent; climbing up and raining down—  both actions infused with the living blessing of God.


Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for strength only, and not for solace; for renewal only, and not for pardon.

(The original from Eucharistic Prayer C in the BCP is: “for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal.”)

It struck me hard a few weeks ago, that I had been doing exactly that— presuming to come to God’s Table for courage only, and not for comfort; for adjustment only and not for absolution; for endurance only, and not for enjoyment; for patience only, and not for peace; for wisdom only, and not for wittiness; for restraint only, and not for relief.

Odd isn’t it, this bassackwardness? Maybe it’s due to my Asperger’s, and is related to my problem with the Golden Rule, which I have had to amend so that it reads more like this:

“Do unto others according to your best guess as to what they would do unto you, if they were doing unto you what they would want you to do unto them.”

My life has taken on a different aspect recently, due to …


All my life I’ve valued qualities like competence, poise, courage, and autonomy. The values that I developed had almost nothing to do with what anyone else thought or taught. Because I grew up undiagnosed on the autism spectrum, I had few friends, and a truncated relationship with those I did have. I played alone; I read alone; and I explored and learned alone. I don’t remember my elementary school teacher’s names, or the names of any of my classmates. The same goes for junior high school. I went to an alternative high school, and I do remember many of my teacher’s names, but only one fellow student’s name.

When I was young, I read, and read, and read; not just fiction and science fiction, but classic works on Stoicism, Taoism and Zen. I read The Golden Bough and Silent Spring. I read the encyclopedia, the dictionary, and the yellow pages. I am still an insatiable reader. Now that the internet is available, I poke around on there in the same way that I would browse the yellow pages …

Spirit or Breath, Ghost or Wind?

At lunch today I started reading “Voicing the Vision” by Linda L. Clader, and I had an interesting insight. My insight didn’t have much at all to do with her topic of homiletics, but I mention her book on principle since I like to give authors credit in all circumstances.

Anyway…. The sentence that kicked off my insight was this: “And the Spirit acts and moves and energizes on its own, in ways that…..”

I’ve lately been thinking a lot about the Holy Spirit, in particular the mis-translation of the Latin word “spiritus” as “spirit.” Both the Greek word “pneuma” and the Latin word “spiritus” mean “breath” or “wind” or “a moving force”. The Latin word for “ghost” is “larva” and the Greek word for it is “fantasma.” The original Hebrew word for God’s Holy Spirit is “ruach.” One of the Jewish Names-of-God is “Ruach HaKodesh” which literally means “wind (or “breath”) of the Holy One.

So, this unexpectedly popped into my head: In meditation we often focus on the breath.

Suddenly, I realized that t…