Thursday, September 27, 2007

Morning Prayer - Psalm

Summer Series is over. It's fall. Life is busy. Contemplative spaces are scarce. Acts of Hope is bringing back opportunities for meditation and prayer. This one is simply the Psalm appointed for today's Morning Prayer in the Episcopal Church. It had a timely ring as I read it. Then again, most Psalms do. The late Dorothee Soelle said you should eat a Psalm for breakfast every day. (I am paraphrasing, I have the exact quote somewhere.) Chew on this one.

Or as the old words say: read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.

Psalm 146 Lauda, anima mea
Hallelujah!Praise the LORD, O my soul! *I will praise the LORD as long as I live;I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, *for there is no help in them.
When they breathe their last, they return to earth, *and in that day their thoughts perish.
Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! *whose hope is in the LORD their God;
Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; *who keeps his promise for ever;
Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, *and food to those who hunger.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;the LORD opens the eyes of the blind; *the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
The LORD loves the righteous;the LORD cares for the stranger; *he sustains the orphan and widow,but frustrates the way of the wicked.
The LORD shall reign for ever, *your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.Hallelujah!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My bishop's response to the HoB statement

This just in from the Bishop of North Carolina.

Bishop Curry Responds to House of Bishops Statement

September 26, 2007

Brothers and Sisters,

The Statement of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church responding to the requests, questions, and concerns addressed to us by the Primates of the Anglican Communion is a significant accomplishment, a positive step, and a hopeful sign.

Our statement was crafted after two days in prayer and conversations with the Archbishop of Canterbury and other leaders of the Anglican Communion. It follows two days of work and worship in New Orleans and Mississippi to support the work of rebuilding by the church and community there after hurricane Katrina.

The result was that bishops holding different perspectives on the issues before us were able to find common ground. The statement was approved by a nearly unanimous vote of those present and participating. I am aware of only one bishop who was unable to vote in the affirmative. Liberals, conservatives, and those in between were able to find agreement in a context of mutual respect and fervent prayer. In finding common ground, we were able to discover the high ground.

Bishops Gregg, Marble, and I participated fully in the discussions and we support the actions of our House of Bishops. There is good reason to be hopeful that the response by the bishops will be positively received by the leadership of the Anglican Communion.

This is a significant accomplishment, a positive step, and a hopeful sign.

Keep the Faith,

Burma crackdown and cyberdissidents

Cyberdissidents in Burma in the current crackdown against peaceful protests. The ever-reliable BBC reports.

Also: more on the meaning of monks. (Catchy headline from the BBC, "Burma's Saffron Army." With information on the life and significance of monks, Buddhism in general, Buddhism in Burman, and related topics.)

Foodie interlude, part III

I don't eat cupcakes. I wasn't raised with cupcakes. I don't even like cupcakes. But this is too funny. Tolle lege. (Now someone will make a tolle-house cookie joke, I just know it.)

They didn't read this before starting their meeting

Anglican Underground had this to say at the start of the New Orleans meeting.

For the rest, I leave you to the sighs, commentaries, and gnashings of teeth on the various gathering places of the anglicanepiscopal blogosphere.

Including, of course, Grandmère Mimi of Louisiana.

Feast of Lancelot Andrewes

Lancelot Andrewes, one of the learned divines who produced the Authorized Version (a.k.a. King James Version) of the Bible, was naturally inclined toward order and uniformity. Commentators often compare him to his younger contemporary, John Donne, whom Richard Schmidt characterizes as "a volatile, earthy, and perhaps not always respectable personality." (I know, makes you want to run off and read Donne.)

And yet. Andrewes's major legacy to us is his Praeces Privatae, Private Devotions, organized with care in true Andrewes fashion. The Devotions are largely made of borrowed material (the Bible, the Prayer Book, ancient philosophers, sermons of the Greek and Latin church fathers, excerpts from liturgies of churches East and West, and writers both Protestant and Catholic from his own era. But they are Andrewes's own creation; no other could have created this rich quilt for his own and others' contemplation.

Schmidt, author of Glorious Companions: Five Centuries of Anglican Spirituality, writes in his essay on Andrewes: "One should read the Devotions slowly, in small pieces, searchingly, and with a hungry soul. Each day's prayers could easily be read straight through in ten minutes, but it is better to let a word or phrase sink in and filter through the mind.... The language and the topics referred to will sometimes (but by no means always) seem archaic, but the modern reader can easily make connections with her own life."

Andrewes apparently used the Devotions in this way. His own copy showed the wear of his hands' touch and traces of his tears

[From the 1840 translation by John Henry Newman. When Andrewes first wrote the Private Devotions for his own use, they were in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. The text was first published, in English translation, 20 years after his death. Lancelot Andrewes lived from 1555 to 1626.]

From an Order for Morning Prayer

Glory be to thee, O Lord, glory to thee.
Glory to thee who givest me sleep to recruit my weakness,
and to remit the toils of this fretful flesh.
To this day and all days,
a perfect, holy, peaceful, healthy, sinless course,
Vouchsafe, O Lord.

Teach me to do the thing that pleaseth thee,
for thou art my God;
Let thy loving Spirit lead me forth into the land of righteousness.
Quicken me, O Lord, for thy name's sake,
and for thy righteousness sake bring my soul out of trouble;
remove from me foolish imaginations,
inspire those which are good and pleasing in thy sight.
Turn away mine eyes lest they behold vanity;
let mine eyes look right on,
and let mine eyelids look straight before me.
Hedge up mine ears with thorns lest they incline to undisciplined words.
Give me early the ear to hear,
and open mine ears to the instruction of thy oracles.
Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth,
and keep the door of my lips.
Let my word be seasoned with salt,
that it may minister grace to the hearers.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Jena. Burma. Photos.



Monday, September 24, 2007

Foodie interlude, part II

A few days ago, 'round about Friday, I developed a craving for peanut sauce, the Thai or modified Thai kind. Don't ask me why. Some people have pregnancy cravings; this must have been a perimenopausal craving. At least it was healthy. And I figured I probably had all the ingredients at home already. I'm one of those people who keep fresh ginger in the house.

Too lazy to go poking through my three shelves of cookbooks (which I rarely use and mostly read for pleasure and inspiration) and not in possession of a Thai cookbook (I generally entrust Thai cooking to restaurants and to my friends who took cooking classes during their trip to Thailand), I went on the Web and found this. Easy. Here it is:

Peanut sauce

1/3 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
1/2 cup water
2 T soy sauce
1 T lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t grated ginger
1/4 t red pepper flakes (more or less, accoording to taste)

That's it. I didn't even mince the garlic, I just threw all the ingredients into my cheap supermarket food processor and voilà. Toss this with Thai rice noodles and/or tofu cubes, add a little parsley or fresh cilantro for color and vitamins, and there's your meal. I had consumed some raw and crunchy things earlier, but you can also put your veggies in there. I expect you can serve this with all manner of meat and marinate things in it and so forth, but I am a busy woman and I was hungry. I did have to grate the ginger, but it smells good and I only grated a tiny bit of the tip of my finger.

Of course, this will not work for you if you are allergic to peanuts.

I recommend making a double recipe right away. Then you can keep it in the fridge for the next night you come home tired from work and want something with protein and taste and zing. Also, if you've tossed whatever you've tossed into it and refriegerate it, it's good as a leftover and the flavors sit well with each other.

This will work either hot or cold. I've had it both ways. (Cue the Joni Mitchell "Both Sides Now" and change the words to foodie ones.)

I've made this twice (yes, in three days -- so sue me) and I modified it the second time because I didn't like the idea of so much soy sauce. I don't have high blood pressure or any problems with salt (except for the fact that having a salty meal at night gives one puffy eyes in the morning) but, as several of our mothers would say, why tempt the devil. So the second time around I halved the amount of soy sauce, added a little extra of the peanut butter (I use the organic crunchy kind, but I am a food snob and even my local supermarket now carries it and it's not expensive) and it worked just fine. I think I was a little under the required dose of ginger, but let me tell you, hand-grating two full teaspoons of ginger (or four if you are doubling the recipe) is an awful lot of ginger and an awful lot of grating. And fresh ginger goes a long way, so you can cheat a little. Bottled lime juice will work if you don't have fresh limes. As for the red pepper flakes, I used the recommended amount plus a few flakes and it had the right amount of zing. Don't use too much more or it will overwhelm the other tastes.

I usually eat a more Mediterranean than Asian diet (there is always, always olive oil in the house) but this was very nice, and may make it into some kind of regular rotation here.

The cat liked the activity but was supremely uninterested in the food. So that's another advantage: your cat won't eat it. Probably your dog won't either. Garlic and ginger are generally not a dog thing.

Foodie interlude, part I

I'm taking part of the Comments section from the Oduyoye post below to this post, since it went off, thanks to my fellow foodie Paul, in a foodie direction. (In fairness to Paul, a.k.a. the Byzigenous Buddhapalian, I should also say that he took Mercy Amba Ewudzina Oduyoye's quote into a post of his own on incarnation and related theological and existential topics.) Not that incarnation and food are unrelated! So here's a bit of the thread:
[I've added a few links in there.]

Paul said... Foodie alert! La Waters featured at the NYT and further comments from the Group News Blog:
September 23, 2007 11:23 PM

Jane R said... I confess I found the blog piece better than the NYT article around which it was wrapped. So thanks for forwarding. I'd actually gotten the NYT piece in a mailing from my local Slow Food organization (are we hopeless foodies or what?) courtesy of
Charlie Headington (the local permaculture guru, religion-and-ecology teacher, and old friend of Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, if you know them from their on and off Berkeley sojourns), who wrote of the Times article (and he's not usually snooty at all) "The writer is pretty clueless about food, but says some nice things about Alice. The same issue of the NYTimes has an article on backyard bees and a main editorial on the superfluity of ethanol from corn." So there you have it. I have to go correct 18 take-home exams on the 4th century and run to the office. But first, organic pecan granola. Hugs via the blogosphere.
September 24, 2007 9:02 AM

johnieb said... Thanks to Jane R. for the postings update and you both for the NYT link. Your slow food place does other than e-mail postings? Tomato-glutted (almost) in CT.
September 24, 2007 11:47 AM

Johnieb, that would be Slow Food Piedmont, the website. The Piedmont is the central region of NC in which I live -- the vertical strip between the flat coastal part of NC and the Western, mountain part of the state (where lj lives). Doxy lives in the Piedmont too, but the Northern part of it; I'm in the central part.

I just discovered a slow-food-blogger who appears to be local. She's here and the chard picture above is from her.

Reminder: my colleague Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, who is a priest in central New York State, has a wonderful foodie blog (listed to the right on the blogroll for the last several months and months), Cookin' in the 'Cuse, with luscious pictures, too. Hurrah for the cookin' rector, and for her love of sustainable and affordable food.

And this post is called Foodie Interlude part I because I have been wanting to post something foodie for two days now and have a nice little recipe waiting at home to share with you all. That will be Foodie Interlude part II. Later, tonight.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Marcel Marceau, RIP

Talking about his universal and lasting appeal, Marceau once said: " "Mime, like music, knows neither borders nor nationalities."

My childhood in Paris was punctuated, every few years, by trips to the theater to see Marcel Marceau perform, entirely in silence. I think the last time I saw him live I was a young adult, but I read in today's BBC obituary that he performed until very recently. He died Saturday at the age of 84. His main character was Bip (pictured above), a white-faced descendant of the harlequins of yore. Sad and witty, Marceau was, off stage as well as on, humane and plastic (in the sense of "flexible"), giving voiceless voice to the human heart. He must have listened to it well.

Happy Birthday, 'Trane

Today, September 23, would have been John Coltrane's 81st birthday. You can hear and see him play "A Love Supreme" and many of his other compositions here. Click your way around for other Coltrane-related material.
I'm not 100 % sure that the Church of St. John Coltrane (African Orthodox) is up and running again, as a few years ago they were facing eviction and then they vanished from view, but they have a very nice website now and this may be a sign that they are indeed alive and well. There are no dates (years, that is) on the website so I'm not sure. Janinsanfran, do you know? There are worship hours listed.

Words on the Church from Mercy Amba Ewudzina Oduyoye

A Summer Series post.

[T]he Church cannot describe itself as holy and mean that it is separate from the world and the world's agenda. Stating doctrines inside the church will not liberate unless the Church gets out into the streets, heals the sick and confronts the unjust. The Church is in the world that God loved, and has to work for the well-being of the world. Seeing that God's presence cannot be limited to organized Christianity, the Church does well to see where God is at work and to promote those salvific acts.
*************---Mercy Amba Oduyoye

"Shouting Underwater" - Walter Mosley on Katrina, New Orleans, and us

My parents pointed me to this fine article from The Nation by Walter Mosley, one of my favorite novelists.

It is short and eloquent. It is about Katrina, its aftermath, and all of us. Read it.

Photo (one of the rare ones of Mosley without his hat) by Alex Waterhouse.

You KNOW you need a break from obsessing about church politics: which "Princess Bride" character are you?

What a hoot. I turned out to be Inigo Montoya.

(In fact, in the movie Mandy Patinkin is my favorite character. And I read the book a gazillion years before the movie came out.)

Inigo Montoya

Which Princess Bride Character are You?
this quiz was made by mysti

Saturday, September 22, 2007

and how could I forget

... that I also promised posts on rodent ethics.

Really, earning a living takes far too much time and I'd rather be writing. (Which I know some people do for a living, but most of us who have tried and tried and tried and tried and aren't full-time journalists or technical writers or in the .00007% of the happy few who get book tours for their books and NY Times best-sellers cannot keep the rent paid that way.) And helping people to pray and be church. That one at least is a possibility.

I have returned from bringing Benedict to the Quakers, and am quietly at home with Maya Pavlova, and from this brief bit of solitude and silence I shall emerge, late tonight or sometimes tomorrow. Before this it is possible I shall surface with a Summer Series post -- remember them? I've been meaning to share some African women's theology with you all. It's the fall equinox so I'd better hurry up. Ah well, I had to start my "fall" work on August 14, so I get an extra day or two of "Summer" on my blogging and summer thinking.

(I just checked the NASA kiddie calendar, and it turns out we've got another day till this year's Autumn Equinox. NASA's handy educational site, by the way, is here. Go there for detailed help in contemplating the mysteries of the universe.)

Miss Maya Pavlova has had several encounters with a striped lizard in gorgeous hues of electric blue, or perhaps two lizards if the same one is not roaming under two different windows on two sides of the house, and she is resting up from her emotions, because the encounters were of course through a window, she being inside and the lizard out. Her tail was flicking, her nose was pointing, and she was making all manner of predatory little guttural cat sounds.

Friday, September 21, 2007

...and here's the large-size version...

...which I am going to post now, advancing the time on the post a bit so that it is dated Friday, cat-blogging day, which odd bloggers follow as if it were the very rule of Benedict.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Benedict to the Quakers

A happy interlude, albeit a working one, will be tomorrow, when I will have a contemplative day, mostly, facilitating a day-long session on Benedictine spirituality for a group of Quakers.

The group is enrolled in something called "On Being a Spiritual Nurturer" (run by the School of the Spirit) and it's what some would call a formation program for spiritual directors, except that the word director, which is already not too useful for Anglicans and Catholics and Methodists and U.C.C.-ers, is most definitely un-Quakerly.

So I'm one of the imported alleged experts in the program, and we're going to have a partly didactic, partly experiential time, complete with chanted Psalms (which I must practice) and a lunch with someone reading to us, various reflections on community and humility and hospitality, and, of course, lectio divina.

Since the day takes place at a retreat center in Durham, I will have a thoroughly Benedictine schedule and get up at an ungodly hour to drive up there.

And then I'll get back here in time for the beginning of Yom Kippur.

Constantly catching up; and some upcoming catch-up posts

I will nonviolently punch anyone who thinks that being a college professor is light work. Nuff said.

Here are some things I hope to write about, from the last few weeks. Maybe this weekend, maybe next week:

Albert Schweitzer, whose feast was two weeks ago.

Hildegard von Bingen, whose feast I also missed. I'm teaching some of her story and works next week!

Probably another saint or two.

Fun with Augustine: how I managed to get a group of 21st century undergraduates to get into the writings of Augustine, based on an idea I got in the shower.

One of the many reasons I love my teaching assistants and how the Irish saved civilization (with thanks to Thomas Cahill).

A few Benedictine musings (beginning with a wee post tonight).

Here are some things about which I will not write:

A vast list of matters that are making me cranky and how cranky they are making me.

On and on and on about how delighted I am with the new cat.

Why I think I am going to hate menopause.

The New Orleans meeting of our Episcopal bishops. For that, see various wise and resourceful friends
here (a good roundup of resources)
and here (some perspective, with a biblical springboard)
and here (some more perspective)
and here (prayers offered by a priest of the Global Center).

I will say that I am proud of my bishop, Michael Curry (whom a certain firm-thinking blog has already started excoriating for one of his statements - but I am vowed to Right Speech, a Buddhist practice useful to Christians, which I think I have already violated in this parenthesis), and pray the night prayer of the Church.

O God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we live in and the life we live: Watch over those, both night and day, who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never forget that our common life depends upon each other's toil; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

For Grandmère Mimi --and Grandpère: celebrate with the great Ella

As promised, a tune for Grandmère Mimi, who is 73 years old today and who understands about love, music, endurance, and gifts from God.

Take her for a spin on the dance floor, Grandpère.

Rumor has it it's Grandmère Mimi's birthday

A quick note in a swamped day (quelle surprise): Rumor has it that this is the day of birth of the much beloved wise woman of the Anglican blogosphere, Grandmère Mimi, who also has a sense of humor and exquisite taste. Bop on over and show her with blessings, prayers, songs, huzzahs, and shouts of joy, and wish her a hearty ad multos annos!

Later, much later, when the work day is over, I will post something musically appropriate. Meanwhile, I am confident that Grandmère and Grandpère can boogie just fine without my help.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Woman pursues mystery of Dachau album

You must read this story.

Morris Rosenberg, RIP

An old family friend and colleague of my father's and brother's has died. Morris Rosenberg, a former foreign correspondent in Europe and Latin America and lecturer in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill died of cancer yesterday at the age of 87. A gentle and courtly man, he was a consummate professional with a sharp mind. He leaves his wife Lucie, two daughters and a son-in-law, two grandchildren, a large extended family, and many friends and colleagues.

A local obituary is here.

His Chapel Hill faculty profile is here.

Upcoming movie on the Carter family (the musical one, not the political one)

I know the last thing you thought you'd find here was Carter-Cash kind of music, but this blog and I are impossibly eclectic and my friend Beth the fabulous documentary-maker has almost finished her movie on the Carter family, and there is a great picture of her with Randy Scruggs (I barely know who he is) on the info site for the movie. Hot if you're a country music fan, fun even if you're not.

If you haven't seen Beth Harrington's film "Welcome to the Club" on the women of rockabilly, you must. (It aired on PBS stations a few years ago and I think it's making the rounds again.)

Beth also has movies on Italian saints' festivals in Boston and Sicily, the Aleutian Islands, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, and a "creative nonfiction" autobiographical one called "The Blinking Madonna" which came out a little over a dozen years ago, around the time we became friends. It is set in Boston, Beth's original home. (She's now on the West Coast. Her beloved, now husband and still beloved, is a vulcanologist, and there are no volcanoes in Massachusetts, so she moved.)

Just a little p.r. for our friends. I'm biased, but honestly, Beth is terrific and has been nominated for an Emmy and a Grammy for past films and won all kinds of other awards. She makes great movies and she's one fine person. And you know you want to learn about the Carter family --and hear some fine country-roots music.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Feast of Dante Alighieri

I love the fact that the Episcopal Church honors Dante Alighieri with his own day. It helps us to remember him. It also reminds us that often our best theologians are the poets.

I wonder what would happen in the Current Anglican Unpleasantness if there were more poetry and less doctrinal disputation.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Rain! (& related religious resources)

Glory hallelujah. It is pouring rain after weeks and weeks of drought in this part of North Carolina.

This doesn't mean the drought is over, but it's something. The oppressive heat has also broken.

See this short, accessible article "Talking about the Weather" by ecofeminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether. (This comes to us courtesy of the Pacific School of Religion (PSR) at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), where Ruether is faculty emerita.) It's several years old, but the points it makes about climate change are even more important today.

How do we talk about the weather? What do we notice? How many weather-related items have you heard on the news this week, from around the world?

And here is a paper on water and the world water crisis, in PDF form (so you can print it out easily) and rather long, but clear, interesting, well-researched, and important, by another Catholic feminist theologian, my friend and colleague Marian Ronan, who teaches at the American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW) , which like PSR is a member school of the GTU consortium in Berkeley, California.

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has been very active in environmental issues in the World Council of Churches and has written a number of beautiful statements, on water especially. This one is in PDF form.

I wonder how many Episcopal people and congregations in our Diocese of North Carolina (one of three Episcopal dioceses in the state of North Carolina) know that we passed a resolution specifically about water in 2003. I knew about our environmental sustainability resolution of this year because I was at Convention in January, but not about this 2003 resolution (available via the Episcopal Ecological Network), which is from before my time in NC and is more than just a statement; it contains action suggestions for stewardship of water. Time to pull it out of mothballs, I think. (And to replace the mothballs with something more environmentally friendly ;-)).

TGIFriday cat blogging


Truth be told, Miss Maya Pavlova is currently on the desk here, alternately looking out the window for squirrels and coming over to wave her tail in my face. She has reminded me several times that she likes Fridays much better than the other weekdays, because I am at home most of the day and thus available for conversation with her.

P.S. This looks like the same picture as a couple of weeks ago, and in fact it was taken within minutes of that one, but it is different and is a close-up, so you can see Herself better when she is resting (which she is not right now -- she's giving me inquisitive looks.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cyprian of Carthage

All the parishes I know named St. Cyprian, Episcopal or Catholic,, are largely African American. On that last link, to the Mass of St. Cyprian related to Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. (whose CD cover you see at the right), click on the Responsorial Psalm link, "Proclaim God's Marvelous Deeds."

Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage in North Africa, comes to us today for his feast through the mighty pen of Padre Mickey of Panamá. Have a read.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11

O God who brought us to birth,
and in whose arms we die:
in our grief and shock
contain and comfort us;
embrace us with your love,
give us hope in our confusion,
and grace to let go into new life,
through Jesus Christ, Amen.

Written for funerals, this prayer by Janet Morley is appropriate for today's remembrance.

Never has it been clearer to me than in this moment
that people of faith,
in virtue of the Gospel and the mission of the Church,
are called to be about peace and the transformation of the human heart,
beginning with our own.
I am not immune to emotions of rage and revenge,
but I know that acting on them
only perpetuates the very violence
I pray will be dissipated and overcome.

Excerpt from “We are called to another way,” statement by the Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, Presiding Bishop and Primate, the Episcopal Church, September 11, 2001.

And sometime today, see and hear this.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ruether: look for Catholic creativity at the grass roots

I'm pasting the whole column rather than posting a link because the National Catholic Reporter usually has partial access only. (This month, exceptionally, you can get the full online issue for free, but we aim to be user-friendly here at Acts of Hope. Do poke around the NCR site, though.)

This short essay by Rosemary Radford Ruether addresses a related topic to that of the interview of Mary Hunt which I posted below. Read them both for insights into Catholic feminism and Women-Church. The occasion for both pieces was the recent 25th anniversary gathering of the Women-Church Convergence.

National Catholic Reporter
Issue Date: September 7, 2007

Creativity at the grass roots

Women-Church Convergence models religious community


If one reads only the news of official Catholicism, it might appear to some to be a depressing picture. I was recently asked by a Presbyterian leader if I “still” had any relation to the Catholic church. I said I belonged to a local parish half a block from my home. He professed himself astonished, evidently assuming I would be unwelcome in Catholic circles. I felt like saying, “Catholics are not as deadly as you think they are,” but did not. What I could have said is that half of my speaking engagements every year are with Catholic groups.

Although the news from the Vatican appears to be endlessly backward looking, from continual warnings against “relativism” to the reinstatement of the Tridentine Mass, there is astonishing creativity at the grass roots. Indeed the more the hierarchy of the Catholic church appears in stasis or backward retreat, the more freewheeling the creative initiatives that pop up on the ground. One forum for these alternative ministries is the Women-Church Convergence.

Women-Church Convergence is an outgrowth of the Women’s Ordination Conference. In response to the ordination of Episcopal women in 1974, Catholics organized the first Women’s Ordination Conference in Detroit in 1975. Support groups for the Women’s Ordination Conference developed around the country. The conference always defined its goals not simply as the ordination of women, but the “renewal of priestly ministry.” By that it meant a more egalitarian and communal model of ministry. But by the 1980s, some began to doubt whether the goal was the reproduction of any separation of clergy and laity.

In 1983 at the third national conference, the Women-Church movement was born. This movement called for women and men to gather in communities for liturgy, study, reflection and social justice work in which all members participate as equals, with no separation of an ordained leader from the other members. A vast variety of Catholic feminist ministries and liturgical gatherings developed over the next 25 years, some of them connected to each other through the network called Women-Church Convergence.

The member groups of the convergence are diverse. Several are feminist task forces of religious orders. Others are regional or national social justice organizations. This includes the Washington-based Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, which helps interested people form women-church communities. A major component of the convergence is local women-church communities in different cities or regions.

The question of women’s ordination versus the community as a whole as celebrants of the Eucharist has reappeared in new form in Catholic feminist circles with the development of the Roman Catholic Womenpriest movement. This movement began with the ordination of seven Catholic women in Austria in June 2002. It has now developed into an international movement in Europe, Canada and the United States, with an organized structure to prepare women for priestly ordination (see Several of the women ordained priests in 2002 were later ordained bishops and travel internationally ordaining other women.

Some of the leaders of the women-church movement, such as Mary Hunt, Elisabeth Fiorenza and myself, expressed doubts about this development as one that imitated the clerical structure and depended on the myth of apostolic succession. But this movement has continued to flourish, with 18 women ordained priests and seven deacons in the North American region by May 2007. Many of these women have long been involved in religious education and ministry. For example, Marie David and her husband, Jim David, direct Evensong by the Sea Retreat and Spirituality Center in Harwich Port, Mass. Jean Marie Marchant and her husband Ron Hindelang are co-ministers of Spirit of Life Community in the Boston area. Victoria Rue convenes two weekly Eucharists at San Jose State University where she teaches religious studies and women’s studies. Despite initial tensions, the Women-Church Convergence has embraced both styles of developing religious community.

The Women-Church Convergence held a national meeting in Chicago Aug. 17-19 with about 250 participants. Keynote speakers included womanist theologian Diana Hayes, who teaches theology at Georgetown University; Mary Hunt, cofounder of WATER; and Elisabeth Fiorenza, New Testament professor at the Harvard Divinity School. The opening address was given by Donna Quinn, longtime leader of Chicago Women-Church, reflecting on the 25 years of the movement. Much of the conference was devoted to workshops on different areas of women’s ministries, including work in immigration, racism and reproductive rights, liturgy, theological education, spiritual companionship and retreats.

Although many participants at the conference were longtime members of the convergence, about half were new to the movement. This included a group of about 40 members of the Young Feminist Network, Catholic women in their 20s and 30s who challenged the convergence to be attentive to the issues of younger women. The Young Feminist Network is a ministry of the Women’s Ordination Conference. The network pushed the convergence to develop a conference in 2009.

Clearly, if one wants to know what is going on among Catholics, listening to the Vatican and national episcopacies is a small part of the story. One needs to look at the grass roots.

Rosemary Ruether is the Carpenter Professor of Feminist Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif.

Copyright © The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111

Hi ho, hi ho, it's back to work we go...

... and are we (editorial we) ready? Nooooo. But we have to teach 4th century authors on the Trinity and 1970s authors in feminist theology (not in the same class -- one in the morning, the other in the afternoon).

Someone stole this off my office door over the summer

Click if you need to see a larger version.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows on Peace Talks Radio

Public radio is a wonderful thing. I always have the radio on when I am in the kitchen. I just listened to a moving show of something called Peace Talks Radio. The topic was a group called September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. The host interviewed three family members of people who died on September 11, 2001. They spoke of their loved ones, their grief, their anger, and their decision to work for peace. They are not judgmental toward families of other 9/11 dead who have chosen other paths. They are consistent in their witness. Have a look and a listen here.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. *--Matthew 5:9

"Being Church and doing justice are one and the same thing:" an interview with Mary Hunt about Women-Church

My old friend and esteemed theological colleague Mary E. Hunt has an interview on a webzine (new to me) called The Social Edge, a social justice and faith publication from Canada. The interviewer is Rosemary Ganley, and the occasion was the conference celebrating 25 years of the Women-Church Convergence and Catholic feminist ministries

Have a read. Mary is always witty, articulate, and thoughtful. (That link is to a PBS interview of a few years ago, read that too, it's well worth it.)

Mary and her partner Diann L. Neu are co-founders and co-directors of WATER, the Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual in Silver Spring, Maryland.

I'm going to lift the following quote from the interview and use it in class this coming week as an illustration of where the Women-Church movement in North America finds itself today. ... there is a new thing happening in 2007.The focus of these women now in ministry is the world, not the Church. ... They are not trying to change a recalcitrant and kyriarchal Church, but to embody liberation and commitment to a more humane world. This means to confront racism, heterosexism and economic and ecological injustice. They are struggling to be defined not by the official Church, but by their engagement in the needs of the world.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Psalm for today's Evening Prayer

One of the Psalms, to be exact. There was also Psalm 43. This is Psalm 42. SVO, what's your favorite musical setting of this?

Psalm 42 [Quemadmodum]

Like the deer that yearns
for flowing streams,
so my soul is longing
for you, my God.

My soul is thirsting for God,
the living God.
When shall I come and see
the face of God?

My tears have become my food,
by night and day,
while I hear it said all day,
"Where is your God?"

These things will I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I led the throng,
to the house of God,
with shouts of gladness and
songs of thanksgiving,
the multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down my soul,
why disquieted within me?
Hope in God; I will again praise you,
my help and my God.

My soul is cast down within me,
therefore I think of you,
frm the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep,
in the thunder of your water;
all your waves and billows
have swept over me.

By day you will send me
your steadfast love;
and at night your song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to you my rock:
"Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of oppression?"

As with a deadly wound,
my adversaries taunt me,
saying to me all the day long:
"Where is your God?"

Why are you cast down, my soul,

why disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall praise again,
my savior and my God.

[Translation: The People's Companion to the Breviary, Indianapolis Carmel. BCP and KJV translations here. Has anybody tried the St. Helena Breviary? How does that inclusive language version compare with the Indianapolis Carmel's version?]

Sniffles and a healing angel

I am sick so rarely that I cannot even recognize the common cold when it hits, though I do know what more severe flu-ish and bronchial things feel like. It finally dawned on me this morning that what I thought was a touch of allergy to some North Carolina tree (it felt worse outdoors) and exhaustion from a high-stress week in the land of academic politics was more like a bad cold and a sinus headache. So I am down for the count today, sleeping a lot and sipping herbal things and hiding out. I may even skip church tomorrow. Meanwhile, the mean BCP cat below is now all sweet and curled up by the computer with her nose between her paws.

I've also been falling down on the icon job here the last few weeks. Here is a lovely archangel Raphael. Raphael is a healing angel, so I expect we could all use this image. Click on it for a close-up.

Polychrome wood, Naples, late 16th century. Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© Museum Associates 1991

Friday, September 7, 2007

Friday cat blogging: sly BCP puss

Don' mess wit' me, boys, I gots da Prayer Book on my side.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Basic rights for immigrant domestic workers: ¡ Si se puede !

Well, hurrah. Domestic workers --the mostly immigrant women who clean your houses, diaper your babies, take care of your children, cook your dinner, serve as companions to your elders, and much, much more-- want dignity, decent wages, benefits... in other words, concrete, public, legal, and financial recognition of the value of their work.

Janinsanfran has the scoop on the newly-formed alliance of domestic workers here. Labor Day isn't just for barbecue. (With all due respect to bbq makers and eaters nationwide.) I am pondering why and how I find this a lot more worthy of attention and energy than the latest shenanigans in the Anglican Communion. A lot more worthy of my attention and energy in general and a lot more worthy of my attention and energy as an Anglican Christian.

Take away the immigrant domestic workers holding up the daily lives of all the people in this country who are currently embroiled in various Episcopal/Anglican tugs-of-war and see what happens.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

September 4: Paul Jones, bishop, advocate for peace

Grandmère Mimi at Wounded Bird reminds us that today is the feast of Paul Jones. Go and read.

See also this interesting biography of Jones at from the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. (You'll have to scroll down past the Desmond Tutu bio to get to it.)

Mario Cuomo on the Constitution and the current war(s)

Always good to hear from Mario Cuomo. Also good to remember the Constitution of the United States. Remember the Constitution? See today's op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Happy Danes, gloomy Danes, and Nikolai Grundtvig (today's feast)

Who in the world is Nikolai Grundtvig? And what's with "Happy Danes" and "Gloomy Danes"?

Read all about them at the ever-reliable Daily Office site of Mission St. Clare.

Did Grundtvig and Kierkegaard get along? Find out here.

There; don't you feel better?

P.S. I mean no disrespect -- in fact, one of the delights of the Episcopal calendar, with its ecumenical and multidisciplinary celebrations of motley holy people, is that it honors in Grundtvig someone who was both cleric and hymnwriter. One of the biographies describes his claims to fame as "poet and divine." I wouldn't mind that descriptor myself. We have a wonderful tradition in the Anglican heritage, that of parson-poets and priest-novelists and bishop-hymnwriters. Some of our best theology, perhaps our best, is that found in our poetry. If you haven't read it already, have a look at my mentor and friend Bill Countryman's The Poetic Imagination: An Anglican Spiritual Tradition.

September 1's feast: Making Medicine (David Pendleton Oakerhater)

Saturday was the feast of Making Medicine (later David Pendleton Oakerhater), Cheyenne of Oklahoma, deacon and missionary, sundancer and minister to the Cheyenne Nation during one of the most painful times in its history.

Labor links

Janinsanfran has posted some good Labor Day images (with song) and updates. Have a look and a listen.

Solidarity forever.

Which reminds me, I need to re-up my membership in the National Writers' Union (NWU - UAW Local 1981, AFL-CIO).

Interfaith Worker Justice: the new labor-religion alliance

This organization, one of my favorites, has been around for a decade and a half (it used to be called the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice) and is based in Chicago, a long-time center of labor activity, and indeed labor-and-religion activity (think Monsignor Jack Egan, Monsignor George Higgins, and the Chicago Jewish Labor Committee). Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) has branches and chapters all over, including in the Oakland/ SanFrancisco Bay Area, where I was involved with it, and where there is now also an affiliated group called Seminarians for Worker Justice.

On Labor Day Weekend IWJ also has a "Labor in the Pulpit" (and yes, in Muslim and Jewish, not just Christian, congregations) event,* which I think is how I first encountered this group.
*******I see it's now "Labor in the Pulpits, Labor on the Bimah, Labor in the Minbar."

Have a look. You need to know this group exists. Have a look at the resources and information in the left-hand column. You'll notice items related to immigration, the Katrina aftermath, Congress and the minimum wage, and the recent IWJ national conference.

The dreaded Wikipedia is pretty accurate on the subject of IWJ and has some interesting information.

But do go to the primary source.

Rodent Ethics, part I: Maya Pavlova Catches Her First Mouse

Actually it's Rodent Ethics Part II or III, because I began composing a post on rodent ethics a while back, when the mice first appeared on the premises in my lovely house on the edge of the woods.

But I never finished it and this is the first inkling our avid theological readers have that I have been hard at work on the intricacies of rodent ethics. And you thought I had forgotten that this blog was about deep theological and spiritual matters.

(In fact, the blog has felt a little lackluster to me of late, but see below for recent reflections on community.)

While the rest of the U.S. is contemplating barbecue (barbeque, bbq), I am contemplating feminism and abolitionism in the 19th century. Also the Council of Nicea, which another class dealt with this morning. Yes, Guilford College is laboring on Labor Day. And on every other Monday holiday except for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I am at school from 9 to 6 today, because after class I have office hours.

Miss Maya Pavlova, however, has caught a mouse. She did so first thing in the morning. I wrote this with great glee to a few family and close friends, and one wise friend responded that Maya, naturally, had bbq on the brain. She was damn well going to celebrate Labor Day even if I could not.

But I must get back to Sojourner Truth and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. More later, with deep discourses on rodent ethics. Have a lovely day, all y'all.

You'll have to wait till tonight or tomorrow or the coming week to hear what happened to the mouse and to read, at last, the mousie episodes that led up to this one. 'tis a long saga.

At least you know she's not just a pretty face, La Pavlova. Or just a pretty set of arched feet.