Showing posts from July, 2017

In Darkness, Understanding

(This is also not Lectio Divina. I dredged this up out of my archives, and added a few things.) I was reminded recently of something that spoke deeply to me in a fiction book by one of my favorite authors, Lois McMaster Bujold. She writes most evocatively about the divine, through the medium of the fantasy genre.
In the world of her books the gods take the form of five aspects of the divine: Father, Mother, Sister, and Brother, each associated with a season of the year, Winter, Summer, Spring, and Autumn, and the fifth aspect is the Bastard, the god of the unacknowledged, of unintended consequences and desperate causes.
At any rate, one of her characters, a Divine of the Bastard's Order, names the five theological aims associated with a devout pilgrimage as "service, supplication, gratitude, divination, and atonement." I was struck acutely by these words, and I’ve found considerable insight in reflecting on her list, most particularly in the first purpose, "service.&…

Going Sideways

I was watching classic Dr. Who last night, and the Doctor (#3, John Pertwee) recommended to Jo the benefits of “lateral thinking.” Jo takes him literally, and since they can neither go forward because there is an abyss in front of them, or backward because there are monsters behind them, Jo decides to literally go sideways down a corridor. She exclaims that Dr. Who is a genius, just as he is about to tell her that wasn’t exactly what he meant by lateral thinking. He just stops short and says, “I am?” and then accepts her assessment with a smirk.
1 Samuel 28:3-20
7 Then Saul said to his servants, "Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, so that I may go to her and inquire of her." His servants said to him, "There is a medium at Endor."
So, lateral thinking: The story of the witch of Endor is eerie. My translation goes all PC and calls them “mediums,” but the phrase “the medium of Endor” just is not evocative in the least. (Now we go sideways.) I just happened to read …

Let It Go

(Just a note: this is definitely not Lectio Divina. I was fishing around in my archives for inspiration, and just decided to post this one in its entirety.)

“Let it go” is a phrase predicated on the assumption that whatever-it-is actually is willing to leave, and is merely waiting on your permission to be gone from your life.
I can think of many things that keep on turning up over and over, and which simply scoff at each and every one of your attempts to “let them go.”
They are like your little sister poking you in the back seat of the car when you were a child.
They are the guy in the meeting who keeps clicking his pen.
In the case of events like rush hour, they re-annoy you every single day, without fail.
In the case of the death of a loved one, they are tidal waves that crash through your joy; your confidence; your peace of mind.
In the case of some chronic and painful condition, they are a corrosion that assails your health and well-being every waking moment.
In the case of some dread…

Whom Do You Pursue?

Okay, I’m going with koans today. The meaning of “koan” is “a public case.” A text intended to be debated in public. The literal translation of the word ‘koan’ is “judge’s bench.” It occurred to me that reading the Bible as if it was a quarry full of buried koans might be worthwhile. Many scriptural texts seem to slant sideways to me already. So. I’m going to try and follow the structure of classical koan collections, with a re-stating of the text, a commentary, and then an appreciative poem.
1 Samuel 24:1-22 14 Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A single flea?
David’s enemy is defenseless before him, pissing in the corner of the cave, but David only embarrasses himself by sneaking up to kill Saul and then just cutting off a corner of his robe. How could he do such a thing? So Saul gets away, only to have David chase after him, bow down on hands and knees before him, call him “my Lord,” and then yell at him about how stupid he is to chase after…

I Have Other Work To Do

“A Way of Living” Lectionary; Week of the Sunday closest to July 13 (I switched Lectionaries today, just because. This is the Lindisfarne Community Lectionary, Year One.) 1 Samuel 22:1-23 22 David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I am 'responsible’ for the lives of all your father’s house. Acts 23: 26-43 (his Excellency the governor Felix to Paul) 35 he said, “I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive.” Mark 3:19b-35 28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter;29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” (NRSV) 28-30 “Listen to this carefully. I’m warning you. There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven. But if you persist in your slanders against God’s Holy Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives, sawing off the branch o…

No One Knows When It Breaks

1 Samuel 17:17-30
29 David said, "What have I done now? It was only a question."
I’m not sure why this struck me. It sounded so familiar, and gradually I realized that I’ve heard myself say that very thing to myself too many times to count. There seems to be a bit missing from the first part; it feels like it ought to read, “What have I done to deserve this?” The second part is wistful and resentful at the same time. The implied meaning is, “How am I supposed to deal with the fact that you hate me simply because I exist? I haven’t done anything to you. I don’t hate you, why do you treat me like this?” I thought of my current effort, that of trying to find an apt way to respond to those who “hate” me; who show animosity, hostility, and belligerence toward me for no reason that I can see. People who are antagonistic by default, who make habitual threat displays; people who are just plain mean. I used to react with anger and defensiveness, until just recently I noticed that just …

Until the Day of His Death

7-11-2017 Tuesday (7-12 Wednesday)

1 Samuel 15:24-35
35 Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the LORD was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.
Acts 8:32-43 "Please come to us without delay." 39 So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them.
Luke 23:56b-24:11 Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
It’s been awhile since I’ve done the Lectionary. I may change the lectionary I use, switching to one that requires me to open a book and use my hands to turn the pages. At any rate, I am torn today between looking for a unifying theme, looking for a Jungian insight, or looking for the Zen twist. I’m …

One Lofty Star

1 Samuel 9:15-10:1
22Then Samuel took Saul and his servant-boy and brought them into the hall, and gave them a place at the head of those who had been invited … 27As they were going down to the outskirts of the town, Samuel said to Saul, "Tell the boy to go on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God."
Acts 7:30-43
30 'Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. 42 But God turned away from them and handed them over to worship the host of heaven,
Luke 22:39-51
41Then he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, 42'Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.' 43Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength.
vI went back a bit in the story of Saul, because I was intrigued by the oddly important role of the servant boy. Sure enough, t…