Saturday, March 31, 2007

This one is funny if you're Jewish...

... and (or) a veteran of many Seders.

If you're not a veteran of many Passover Seders, it won't make sense.

If you are, put down that mug of tea or it will go pffttttttttsshhhhhgllllrbbbggghh all over your keyboard.

The Two-Minute Haggadah
A Passover service for the impatient.

Opening prayers:

Thanks, God, for creating wine. (Drink wine.)

Thanks for creating produce. (Eat parsley.)

Overview: Once we were slaves in Egypt. Now we're free. That's why we're doing this.

Four questions:
1. What's up with the matzoh?
2. What's the deal with horseradish?
3. What's with the dipping of the herbs?
4. What's this whole slouching at the table business?

1. When we left Egypt, we were in a hurry. There was no time for making decent bread.
2. Life was bitter, like horseradish.
3. It's called symbolism.
4. Free people get to slouch.

A funny story: Once, these five rabbis talked all night, then it was morning. (Heat soup now.)

The four kinds of children and how to deal with them:
Wise child--explain Passover.
Simple child--explain Passover slowly.
Silent child--explain Passover loudly.
Wicked child--browbeat in front of the relatives.

Speaking of children: We hid some matzoh. Whoever finds it gets five bucks.

The story of Passover: It's a long time ago. We're slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh is a nightmare. We cry out for help. God brings plagues upon the Egyptians. We escape, bake some matzoh. God parts the Red Sea. We make it through; the Egyptians aren't so lucky. We wander 40 years in the desert, eat manna, get the Torah, wind up in Israel, get a new temple, enjoy several years without being persecuted again. (Let brisket cool now.)

The 10 Plagues: Blood, Frogs, Lice-you name it.

The singing of "Dayenu":
If God had gotten us out of Egypt and not punished our enemies, it would've been enough. If he'd punished our enemies and not parted the Red Sea, it would've been enough.

If he'd parted the Red Sea-(Remove gefilte fish from refrigerator now.)

Eat matzoh. Drink more wine. Slouch.

Thanks again, God, for everything.


Hat tip to my friend Phil for this one.

And for more serious Passover-related material, see here, a few posts ago. More coming in a day or two about Miriam's Cup, the orange on the Seder plate, and other matters ancient and new.

John Donne, poet, preacher, priest (1572-1631)

Yes, John Donne wrote both this and this.

And more.

Today is his feast-day.

by an unknown English artist. c. 1595

Iimage courtesy of the BBC and executors of the estate of Lord Lothian.

Friday, March 30, 2007


Richard posted a sermon that nourished my soul a few days ago. Read it. Or listen: there's also a podcast of it available on the page where the text is. 'tis a good season to remember the call to contemplation. Pull away from doing, producing, performing. Listen. Be.

Holy Week begins Sunday.

But the sermon -- which is also a good reading meditation -- is for every day, too. Thank you, brother Richard.

Friday cat blogging: sun walk

No, I've never met this one, I found him/her on the Web. Handsome feline, and lovely sun. Rich vegetation. Balance. Relaxed attentiveness. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Exodus, Cargo of Hidden Stories"

That's the title of the latest installment of the fine radio show Speaking of Faith.

Passover begins Monday evening, and this program about the stories inside and around the story of the Exodus is good preparation. Whether you are Jewish, Christian, or neither, there's probably something for you in there.

Those of you who know African American religious history, or even just some of the Spirituals, will remember that the Exodus is a powerful theme in slave religion. It also crops up early in Latin American liberation theology.

Sometimes you just need a militant archangel

I have a vow of nonviolence, but sometimes, only the archangel Michael does the job. You know, with the sword and the dragon. He is a good guardian and defender for dissertations and for all manner of other nasty obstacles. How do I reconcile this with the commitment to nonviolence? Why, I don't.

I also developed a great fondness, over a dozen years ago, for the "angry Psalms" (the "smash my enemies" ones) but that is another story and I have chronicled the why and how of this in When in Doubt, Sing.

(Which HarperCollins let go out of print, and that is yet another story, but someday there will be a paperback from another publisher, in fact there should have been several years ago, but all this is more stories than I can bear to tell right now.) (Later note: Now there is a paperback! You can find it here or at another online place or get your local bookstore to order it.)

So here, for those in need of such things, is Michael the Archangel. In fact, several Michaels. Take your pick. Saint Michael and All Angels, pray for us. And help us slay those dragons.
(Cross-cultural note: the biblical traditions have nasty dragons but Chinese traditions have auspicious ones. In fact, I was born in the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese astrological calendar. But I digress.)

This one is at the top of Mont-Saint-Michel. It's an aerial photo, you'll never see him from that close unless you are a bird. It's a fairly modern statue, since the original and several of its successors were destroyed by the elements, time, and the French Revolution.

If you're really desperate, you can invoke the whole heavenly militia.

This one is like a deity straight out of India.

Arturo Olivas made this one.

And here's your classic icon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Nutty week / Theotokos

It's one of those "Oy! Academe!" weeks.

And some of our friends here, including Padre Rob, like Coptic icons, so I figure we could use one of the Theotokos right about now. I could, anyway, and perhaps you will find she speaks to you, too.

This is from the El Seryan Monastery. (In some places it's spelled ElSereyan.)

More later today or early tomorrow with one or more keep-the-nasties-away images of one of the guys at the bottom -- either George or Michael (if he's on horseback, it's probably George) zapping the dragon.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Keeping out the riffraff

Ha! And you thought this was going to be about the church.
In case you can't read the fuzzy print: the posters say "PSYCHICS' MEETING - YOU KNOW WHERE - YOU KNOW WHEN." (If you click on the image, you can see a slightly bigger version.)

Sunday, March 25, 2007


I know, it's the 5th Sunday in Lent, but March 25 is the feast of the Annunciation, and instead of the Fra Angelico painting (which I do love), I am offering this Coptic icon for your meditation.

... and a multicultural ideologue (Fox News, cont'd)

This according to an even more dubious source.

Because I do a fair amount of publishing and speaking (though much less than I used to) I Google my name every few months just to check up on things. So I did this about a week ago and found that my name had appeared on one of those dreadful right-wing blogs I never read. quoted, are you ready, my Fox News interview. (That'll teach me. I am going to spend the rest of Lent repenting the infamous thirty seconds I gave to Fox.) My quote was, mind you, about as mild as could be and really didn't say much. But the Pipeline took it as an opportunity to refer to me as "a multicultural ideologue."

At first, because I have a finely tuned McCarthyism radar, I was upset. Then I laughed, because I'd been stupid enough to give an interview to a media outlet that is unreliable (Fox) and is treated as a reliable source by an even more unreliable (but scary) outlet (Pipeline) -- and because, well, I suppose I am a multicultural ideologue. I mean, heavens, I teach a course in African American religion and theology! I support my school's international film festival! I just put a map of the Caribbean up on one of my course websites! I'm supervising a senior thesis on Our Lady of Guadalupe! I teach students about the monastic rule of a 6th century Italian named Benedict! I make them read a book on the Sabbath written by a notorious 20th century rabbi! I remind them that the New Testament wasn't written in Jesus' daily language! I chair a regional church anti-racism committee! Where will all this end?

That said, despite what Pipeline implies, I said absolutely nothing in the interview about Palestinians. In fact, I was careful to note in the interview (though I think Fox didn't use that part) that our unfinished work on campus involved being welcoming to persons of many nationalities AND also not stereotyping athletes. (This in the wake of an incident that is often described as "football players" vs. "Palestinians.")

I also just noticed upon reading the piece for the second time that Pipeline also called me a "faux academic." Damn, all those years getting advanced degrees for nothing. ;-) Here I thought I was the real thing.

I'm going to go and do penance now.

Apparently, I'm a pundit...

This is silly, but it was fun to take the test.

You Are a Pundit Blogger!

Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.
Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Another Episcopal P.S., two other perspectives; and yesterday's saint

I often disagree with Fr. Tony Clavier, but I respect him and when I have time, read him with care. Haven't had much time in recent weeks, but I just read his response to the U.S. House of Bishops' recent statement(s) and think it is worth a read especially for the perspective he brings from outside the U.S. (He's in the U.S. now, has been for decades, but is originally from the U.K.) I'm not entirely in agreement this time either, but paying attention to our U.S.-centered perspectives and to the way in which we all read each other's rhetoric is important.

I would, though, refer him (and you) to this response from what Padre Mickey calls "The Global Center." This is a Brazilian response from the Rev. Cônego Francisco de Assis de Silva, a.k.a. Padre Xico, and rather different from the one above. Read 'em both if you have a few moments.

Enough omphaloskepsis for now.

Don't forget to remember Oscar Romero and all the martyrs of El Salvador today. (See previous post.) (P.S. And do stop by Caminante's place for a powerful post on Monseñor Romero.)

And no, I didn't forget that yesterday was the feast of Gregory the Illuminator. See a full and rich post on him (WHO was Gregory the Illuminator, you are wondering, and how come we have remembered three Gregorys in the space of a month?) here. Hat tip, again, to Padre Mickey.

Feast of Oscar Romero

"The church would betray its own love for God and its fidelity to the gospel if it stopped being . . . a defender of the rights of the poor . . . a humanizer of every legitimate struggle to achieve a more just society . . . that prepares the way for the true reign of God in history."

"You can tell the people that if they succeed in killing me, that I forgive and bless those who do it. Hopefully, they will realize they are wasting their time. A bishop will die, but the church of God, which is the people, will never perish."

On March 24, 1980, Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero of San Salvador was assassinated while presiding at Mass.

Christians around the world (including Episcopalians and other Anglicans), remember him and the thousands who were killed for their faith and commitment to human rights during the years of dictatorship and civil war in El Salvador, the country whose name means "The Savior."

Friday, March 23, 2007

You are home to the exile

You are home to the exile
touch to the frozen
daylight to the prisoner
authority to the silent
anger to the helpless
laughter to the weary
direction to the joyful:
come, our God, come.

a prayer by Janet Morley
from All Desires Known:
Inclusive Prayers for Worship and Meditation
expanded edition (1992)

Friday cat blogging

Another memory of Sensei.

Read this book

We just had the author here.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

World Water Day (and women)

Today (for three more minutes) is World Water Day. Jan at Happening Here has a great post (with photos) about water in rural Nicaragua, which she and her partner just visited.

Episcopal good news P.S.

One more link: the Bishop of Central Florida, John Howe, who is known for being –if you want to use the not so helpful terms “liberal” and “conservative”— very conservative, also came out with a good thoughtful statement. Worth a look! It will surprise some.

(Lord, have mercy though; I hope it is his editor and not he who doesn’t know the difference between it’s and its. Professor Jane is not amused.)

The link comes from the Titus One:Nine blog, where you will see, if you have the stomach and the time, that the comments responding to Bishop Howe’s pastoral letter are not quite as irenic as Bishop Howe’s statement.

Needless to say, the Episcopal blogosphere and several major newspapers are busy analyzing, dissecting, and speculating.

Meanwhile, I spent the day with both church- and Guilford-related matters of race, history, truth-telling, reconciliation, and related questions in the American South.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Episcopal good news

This post falls under my Exception Rule.

Bishop Gene Robinson has issued a fine pastoral letter which you can find at Elizabeth Kaeton's blog. (Scroll down a bit -- I can't figure out how to link just that post without linking the others from today, so you'll probably get Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams remonstrating first.)

And the bishops of the Episcopal Church have come out of their meeting with a fine statement, too, or rather three resolutions, the third of which is worth a very careful read. As always, Jim Naughton's analysis is helpful. You may want to read Jim first, but there is also an ENS* story.
*******************Episcopal News Service

The bishops also wrote a "Message to God's People".

Both Bishop Gene's and the House of Bishops' statements highlight what I have been grousing about (off-blog) for weeks now, which is that the Episcopal Church has a distinctive polity (form of church governance) which is BOTH lay- and bishop-driven and that we need to remember this and to remind others (in the Anglican Communion, in the media --hello?!-- and in the world around) that this is the case. AND the Anglican Communion is made up of AUTONOMOUS churches. I won’t discourse here on the meaning of “being in communion with each other” since many of my colleagues are doing it. (See “Blogging Anglicans” to the right.)

So, that's my polite rant and cheer for the day. More later on other matters. Peace out.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Healing Waters, cont'd

Here's a link to the first installment in the "Healing Waters" series on NPR's "Day to Day" about war veterans and fishing.
Capt. Eivind Forseth
Photo: Project Healing Waters
Story on NPR's "Day to Day" produced by Hearing Voices, a collective of independent radio producers.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Speaking of the war... Veterans and the Healing Waters Project

I heard a great teaser on NPR today about a series that will air beginning tomorrow on "Day to Day". It's about veterans and fly fishing. Very moving.

Yes, we can be against the war and support the troops -- and care for the veterans who come back wounded in body and spirit and want to return to life.

Listen tomorrow. There's a website for the project, but the voices on the radio and the sound of water will bring it home. And remember many NPR stations have live streaming audio. I also just found a way to the "Day by Day" audio archives. So if you miss the show at the time it airs, you can listen to it the next day -- I think it takes a day to get online. You have to go through the NPR broadcast schedule (a.k.a. program stream) and click your way around.

There's also a brief multimedia clip about Project Healing Waters here.

Feast of Saint Joseph

I have great affection for St. Joseph. I have a reproduction of this icon by Robert Lentz --which has the logo of the distributor in the lower left corner, sorry, it's a copyright thing-- in my home. I love the tender pose with Jesus and also the two doves. (Why two doves? This was the Temple offering of the poor. Families of greater means offered for sacrifice much larger animals.) And unlike most images of Joseph in Christian history, this one depicts a younger Joseph. Not a bad idea since Joseph, like Mary, was probably pretty young when Jesus was born.

The Catholic Worker movement also has a fondness for Joseph the Worker.

Note: The Catholic Worker website is down right now, but this site has some good information on the CW. Remember though, it's a Christian anarchist movement, so it's decentralized, and nothing replaces a visit to a Catholic Worker house or farm.

Father, husband, protector, worker: Joseph was a man of peace.

Four years ago today the U.S. war in Iraq began.

I found on the Web this image, which the site says is a detail from a statue of Joseph with doves. It seems apt for today. The website invites its viewers to meditate on the image. So I invite you. Peace be with you all.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Still in Nashville; quick conference update

This is one of the best academic conferences I've been to, which is to say that it is a) heavy on the connections to reality b) collegial and friendly and c) academically excellent. A real treat and very nourishing. I've been taking notes and will blog about it, probably sometime after my return.

I'm in a rare insomnia on Saturday night. Usually I sleep very easily (if you see a late time on a post, which you often have and will, it's that I worked a long day or stayed up voluntarily) but it ain't happening right now.

Once I'd given my presentation on Friday night I was able to be selective about what I attended. The conference was packed with seminars and talks, but one can overdose. So I tried to pace myself. Stay tuned for brief (maybe) reports on the First Amendment and education about religion in the public schools; the interface of health, gender, sexuality, religion, and health; three civil rights leaders you've probably never heard of AND an appearance by one of my heroes, the Rev. James Lawson(one of the senior Civil Rights Movement leaders, still at it, and who happens to be at Vanderbilt here in Nashville this year) (see also this interesting piece on his visit to one of my alma maters); intelligent design and the ongoing conversation between religion and science; and various creative pedagogies. And, at last, the promised info on my "Health, Spirituality, and Justice" course, which was actually part of what I spoke about in my presentation. (The paper I gave was pedagogical rather than theoretical, though of course there is plenty of theological thinking behind the course design.) I also got to hear briefly some wisdom about writing from womanist biblical scholarRenita Weems.

Also, there is a French(-style) bakery in downtown Nashville with good organic multigrain bread.

Life is good.

But I haven't been near the Grand Ole Opry. I'll have to come back sometime for that scene. Wait a minute, I don't even like country music. But I should learn about the culture and give it a chance. (For now, I am listening to the "Ave Gracia Plena" CD by the Cambridge singers directed by John Rutter on my computer.)

Susie's running for president

A child, Susie, is running for president to highlight the needs of children (her biggest fan is Marian Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund, which looks like it is behind this campaign) and especially the fact that we have NINE MILLION children in these United States who have no health insurance. You read that right. That's about one in nine children. Most of these children live in households with two parents, at least one of whom is working.

What's wrong with this picture?

The campaign to publicize this is aiming to collect nine million signatures to point to the nine million children.

Make sure you read the web-based fact sheet.

The Children's Defense Fund is here.

Richest country in the world. Nine million children with no health insurance. Billions of dollars for war in Iraq, which will be four years old next week. Kyrie Eleison.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Did I mention I love Dave Walker?

That's Dave Walker* of The Cartoon Blog and, by whose kind permission I reproduce this cartoon. (This counts as an "occasional" personal-use-on-blog reproduction, if I read the permissions info correctly.) Long may he draw.
* Not to be confused with (the also fabulous) David Walker, my Oberlin classmate, who is a professor at... Oberlin.

Nashville bound

No, not for the Grand Ole Opry. For a meeting of scholars. Believe it.
P.S. That is not a picture of me.

Thich Nhat Hanh in Vietnam

Meanwhile, Thich Nhat Hanh, beloved Zen teacher and peace activist, has returned to Vietnam for a visit.

You can see that I needed a double dose of the BBC after my up-close-and-personal visit with Fox News. :-b

Hot, not good news

Winter warmth breaks all records.

Thoughtful adventures in Ghana, and a proud mother hen cluck

Indulge me, friends. I want to cluck with pride about one of our wonderful students. (Clucking twice, because Blogspot and the internet just ate the long post I finished writing due to one tiny piece of broken code. AKH! Now I remember why until a week or so ago I always wrote long posts in my word processor first and did a cut and paste. So I've just reconstructed this post.) Rachel is on semester abroad in Ghana. We usually don’t allow students in their final term go on study abroad –though we very much encourage study abroad during the students’ middle years here— but the college did allow it in this case, so Rachel will miss her own graduation this spring because she won’t be back from Africa. She is enrolled in courses in Cape Coast, though she has a bit of an opportunity to travel to Accra and elsewhere, and she has a great host family. She has been a stellar student, and she is now blogging from Ghana in her customary thoughtful way. Her blog has been on my blogroll on the right since day one, but in case you haven’t had a look, do – or just click here. The blog is mostly a way for her to communicate with her family and friends, but since blogs are in the public domain and her writing is so interesting, I am taking the liberty of recommending it.

Rachel is a keen observer and has a wonderful ability to reflect on her own experiences as well as the lives of those around her. She’s also well aware of the (post-) colonial dynamics and the realities of race and gender involved in her being a white, blonde intellectual from the U.S. who likes to read and dance and is residing in Ghana for just a few months -- and right around the time of the 50th anniversary of Ghana's independence. Although one of the theologians whose work* I teach and have studied for many years, Mercy Amba Oduyoye, is Ghanaian, I’ve never been to Ghana, and I am learning a great deal about daily life in its cities from Rachel’s “dispatches from the field.”

Rachel is also a devoted Methodist Christian, with a vocation to ministerial leadership, and the major reason for today’s cluck of pride is that Rachel writes in today’s post that she has been accepted at Candler (the divinity school at Emory University in Atlanta, a fine school of theology) with a full-tuition scholarship for next academic year. Hooray for Rachel! And blessings aplenty.

* I want to note that I am not endorsing by making this and a few other of the links on this page. (I encourage you to shop at your local independent bookstore, or if you shop by mail, to use the nice folks at, who function with a network of independent bookstores, sell used books but some new ones too, and have plenty of religion books.) But I’m using them here because for some of their books they have that nice “Search inside” feature so you can look at the Table of Contents and other bits. Those of you unfamiliar with the work of Mercy Oduyoye could start with this one. And one must always read her work in the context of the broader theological project of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians, which she founded. Two of her colleagues from the Circle have recently edited a Festschrift in her honor (she turned 70 a couple of years ago), on the subject of women, religion, and health. Have a look.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fox News

First, a laugh. With a groan.

Newsweek had this, courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; I thank them both for it.

As for what *I* think of the FoxTube, you really don't want to get me started on this one. I don't even watch TV news any more, and those FoxFolks aren't worthy of being called journalists most of the time.

So why did I say yes to a quick interview today? Vanity or nostalgia for my Media Girl persona or inability to keep my mouth shut or misplaced sense of responsibility or just not thinking? There I was, walking out of the office after class to go for a quick lunch before the first meeting of the afternoon, and there they were again, at one of the major campus intersections. I think the college laid down the law a few weeks ago that only a limited part of the campus would be available to media. We've had a situation here, as you may have read or heard. (The local alternative weekly has been attentive to many aspects of the story.)

Wouldn't you know this would be the ONE day I left the house without makeup. And while I usually dress up (a little - this is a rather informal setting) on the days I teach, I was almost running late, and the weather was warm and I figured the students in my seminar would enjoy meeting outside, in which case we'd be sitting on the grass, so I'd better wear clothes that would survive that close encounter with God's green earth. My buddy Victoria, a.k.a. PeaceBang (whose blog I visit often and participate in pseudonymously) will not be amused when she hears about this. Oh the horror. At least I was wearing earrings.

As for the interview, it was all of a few seconds long, and I refused to answer the question right off the bat; I took a few moments to think. Came up with the appropriate comment. Tried as usual to reframe the issue in a couple of sentences. That was it. Kept my glasses on, which I don't usually on television, but this called for the pundit look, and besides, they're new.

Much better coverage of course here and here. Those two were older stories, but they were pretty good. The New York Times short one a month ago was terrible. hasty, superficial, full of clichés. Our student newspaper, impressively for a group of young people who had strong opinions and were in the heat of it all, initially did a genuine job of reporting.

Today's news is brief and the local paper promises more for tomorrow.

I come from a media family. So as the daughter and sister of journalists (of whom I am immensely proud) I can't help but be interested in the news and how it is reported, and how its reporting is changing. I write, I had a radio show for a while here on campus, I used to co-host a radio show in Boston, I was a regular guest on a tv show there, and I have been both interviewer and interviewee on and off, most of my adult life. I've also been at a lot of events that have been covered by newspeople, and that's an interesting one too. You're in a demonstration or a liturgy and then you read about it, or watch it, or hear about it on the radio, and sometimes you wonder whether you and the reporter (or commentator) were at the same event. Sometimes not. I've also been a participant-observer a lot.

Given the complexity of the situation here in the aftermath of the fight, and the high emotions on campus, I have felt it is more my job to serve the situation as an educator and (not my official job here but it's part of who I am) minister (and many, many faculty, some more than I, have been confidantes and sounding boards for students during the past weeks), so I have stayed away from the TV types, intentionally, and spoken only to one or two very carefully chosen media folks, never from television and usually on background.

So how are things at Guilford? Not sure I can do it justice here in blog-land. Calmer. Still soul-searching about the causes and consequences --personal and systemic-- of the January 20 attack (or fight, or altercation, depending who's talking). Mostly, this week, people are just back from spring break overwhelmed with overwork. Next week we continue the teach-ins and happily, Tim Tyson, whose book Blood Done Sign My Name I've been reading, is coming to speak.

I don't see this as a short-term reporting space. And what we're doing on campus is, in any case, a long-term piece of work, as I told the Fox people. Just because the DA dropped the charges --and the college internal judicial hearings concluded before spring break-- doesn't mean that the hurt or the questions go away or that the need to examine a host of patterns, attitudes, relationships, and policies disappears. Not very sexy or TV-worthy stuff, but it's what's there and there are real humans and institutions involved.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming. And lipstick in the morning.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I have studied many philosophers and many cats.
The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.

Hippolyte Taine (French philosopher, 1828-1893)

Wednesday cat blogging (because I'll be on the road Friday)

I don't know who started this Friday Cat Blogging thing, but I like it.

This is Sensei, guarding the old laptop as usual and watching for birds out there. I miss him. He died last Palm Sunday. Almost a year.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

When he came (1)

Too busy with the non-leisurely life of academe to post about my course as soon as I'd planned, but meanwhile, here is one of my favorite poems by Dorothee Soelle (German spelling Sölle), which I have read and shared for (akh! am I that old?) three decades now in many settings.

When he came [a series of ten poems]


He needs you
that's all there is to it
without you he's left hanging
goes up in dachau's smoke
is sugar and spice in the baker's hands
gets revalued in the next stock market crash
he's consumed and blown away
used up
without you

Help him
that's what faith is
he can't bring it about
his kingdom
couldn't then couldn't later can't now
not any rate without you
and that is his irresistible appeal

Can you name the eight Millennium Development Goals?

Not trying to be professorial here. Just wondering.


True confessions: I'm a literalist about this little piece of the Bible.

Heartfelt meeting of hearts, minds, hands, and oh yes, they're Anglicans

Bishop Marc (Andrus, of the Diocese of California, my former home) and a team of lay people and clergy are in South Africa. They are (all of them, not just Marc) blogging about their observations and experiences. Well worth a read. This is a blog in many voices, so don't just read the latest post.

The occasion for the South Africa trip is the TEAM conference. TEAM means Toward Effective Anglican Mission and the website for the conference is here. The Episcopal News Service is covering the conference here.

Richard at Caught by the Light noted a few days ago that this is where the heart of the Anglican Communion really is.

Have a look at the links. We're talking hungers of the world here, and people from 30 of the Anglican Communion's 38 provinces, together to make a difference in addressing these hungers.

Oh, oops, am I talking about Anglicans again? More in my next post(s) on life back in teaching-land and my wildly interdisciplinary course on health, spirituality, and justice. But I have to post a few things on the course website and get a handout ready for tomorrow. Yes, it's 11:30 p.m. and my work day isn't finished yet. Spring break must be over!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

It's been a good week...



... and I don't want to go home.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Mother and Child, Chad near Darfur


Photo credit: Travis Fox, Washington Post

Story here.

Click photo to enlarge.




Today is International Women's Day (and the commemoration of Edward King)

I am still in quiet mode at an undisclosed location ;-) through the end of the week, but I commend to you the biography of Edward King, whom the Episcopal Church remembers today and who is not one of your better-known saints. You can find info about him at the Daily Prayer website. Just scroll down and click “about Edward King.” (Speaking of King, greetings to any of you from Ripon College Cuddesdon who may be reading this.)

And, of course, it’s International Women’s Day.

The U.N. gets a bad name these days, but have a look. Did you know the U.N. had a cyberschoolbus?? (Note: It has a section on the Millennium Development Goals. Though you can look elsewhere on the U.N. site at the one for grownups too.) For your children, or friends who are children, or friends who have children, here’s this cyberschoolbus resource for International Women’s Day. (It’s actually not a bad FAQ for adults!)

Only reading this in the evening? There’s always the weekend. Make this International Women’s Week. We do that with Earth Day at Guilford College, where I teach.

And the World Council of Churches is in the middle of its Decade to Overcome Violence. Overcoming violence against women and children is one of the themes in this decade.

And let’s not forget the Green Belt Movement...

... or the Grameen Bank and its microloans, which serve mostly poor women.

In a hurry? Nice FAQ on the Grameen Bank here.

The unrelated but sort-of-related Grameen Foundation is here. Similar purpose.

Don’t forget the women closer to home and organizations like Oakland's Women of Color Resource Center (when you go into the site, you will see some International Women’s Day resources), Raleigh, NC NOW, the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV),* and the Women's Lunch Place in Boston. There are similar resources all around the world. (Shoutout to Padre Mickey and the Lovely Mona in Panama and a salute to the Hogar de Niñas.)

********(Yes, men do suffer from violence in the household, though the overwhelming majority of victim-survivors are women. Note the NCCADV's "2006 Man for Change" award! Men can become partners in this work. There are also resources for both women and men at the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault, NCCASA. )

The Indigenous Women’s Network is here.

And remember the arts!

There is an International Women's Day website with a gazillion resources, and I am not sure who runs it – it’s a .com, not a .org, so that might mean it’s a profit-making group. Anyone know? I haven’t had the time to do the research.

There are lots of resources on, for, and by women in churches and other religious and spiritual communities, but that reminds me, I must get back to my writing...

Peace be with you all.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

And now, the (Anglican) women speak.

(...) “The women of the Communion have, I believe, moved from bewilderment to outrage at the ways in which a small cabal of leaders have continued to insist that the issues exercising them alone over human sexuality are inevitably to preoccupy us as well," said Jenny Te Paa, an Anglican UNCSW [United Nations Commission on the Status of Women] delegate and ahorangi, or dean, of Te Rau Kahikatea, the College of St. John the Evangelist in Auckland, New Zealand.

"The arguments are all a male ancient power play for territory and ownership of space, be it physical or theological," agreed Phoebe Griswold, a UNCSW delegate from the United States. "The women's ways forward have to do with working for the welfare of creation and the full flourishing of humankind.” (...)

What the Primates have failed to realize, Te Paa said, is that "the priority focus for Anglican women always has been the pressing issues of life and death, which are daily facing too many of the women and children of God's world. How can we compare the needless horrific suffering of women and girls being brutally raped when collecting firewood or water with the endless hysteria of male leaders wanting to debate whether gay men have full humanity or not?"

For the Anglican women, the mission to work together to heal God's world takes precedent over their theological differences. In their statement, they pledge to live out reconciliation for the sake of a suffering world.

"This sisterhood of suffering is at the heart of our theology and our commitment to transforming the whole world through peace with justice," the statement says. "Rebuilding and reconciling the world is central to our faith." (...)

Margaret Rose, director of the Episcopal Church's Office of Women's Ministries [said] "Women have a gift to offer the Church today that insists true unity comes in diversity."

The emphases are mine. You can read the whole story and see photos here.

There is also a companion story on Anglican girls here.

From the Anglican Women gathered at the 51st Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

March 3, 2007

In the name of God, Saviour, Redeemer, and Giver of Life.

We, the women of the Anglican Communion gathered in New York as the Anglican Consultative Council delegation to the 51st Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and as members of the International Anglican Women's Network representing the diversity of women from across the world-wide Anglican Communion, wish to reiterate our previously stated unequivocal commitment to remaining always in "communion" with and for one another.

We remain resolute in our solidarity with one another and in our commitment, above all else, to pursue and fulfill God's mission in all we say and do.

Given the global tensions so evident in our church today, we do not accept that there is any one issue of difference or contention which can, or indeed would, ever cause us to break the unity as represented by our common baptism. Neither would we ever consider severing the deep and abiding bonds of affection which characterize our relationships as Anglican women.

We have been challenged in our time together by the desperately urgent issues of life and death faced by countless numbers of women and children in our communities. As a diverse delegation, we prayerfully reflected on these needs.

We thus reaffirm the conclusion of the statement presented by our delegation to this year's Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women:

This sisterhood of suffering is at the heart of our theology and our commitment to transforming the whole world through peace with justice. Rebuilding and reconciling the world is central to our faith.


I'm proud to say that Jenny Te Paa and I were classmates and friends in a seminar on “Theologies from the Underside of History” at the GTU about a decade ago, during our time as Ph.D. students there. Thank you, Jenny, for your ongoing ministry in Aotearoa New Zealand and in the Anglican Communion.

My Big Fat Dissertation is on a closely related topic. In one of my sources, a 1996 article by Ghanaian Methodist theologian Mercy Amba Oduyoye, are the following statements:

When women get together to face societal problems, nobody discriminates along the lines of religion; the spirituality derived from all religions is tapped. …

“By their fruits you shall know them.” That, for me, is the plumbline for visible unity. ...

[In Africa] What the churches do, whether separately or together, is what identifies them, and in the eyes of outsiders, unifies them.

From Mercy Amba Oduyoye, “The Church of the Future, Its Mission and Theology: A View from Africa” (Theology Today 52/4(1996): 494-505)

Again, emphases mine.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Tears in God's bottle

Morning Prayer, Second Monday in Lent.

A sentence I'd never noticed before:

Psalm 56, verse 8:

You have noted my lamentation; put my tears into your bottle;
are they not recorded in your book?

Friday, March 2, 2007

Taking some quiet time...

... during spring break, which begins tonight. Probably won't blog.

Plenty to read already here on the blog, though. Enjoy the links. Talk amongst yourselves.

* breathe *


Take time to breathe. Practice mindfulness.

Not surprisingly, NPR has (re-)discovered Jon Kabat-Zinn. Some nice info here, next to the audio link, about mindfulness practice and pain management.

But you don't need to be in pain to benefit from this kind of practice. It's just that some people don't discover or practice mindfulness till the really nasty stuff hits their bodyminds. (Not a misspelling. Some folks use this hybrid word, including someone I know, a yoga teacher who once worked with Kabat-Zinn.)

I've read Kabat-Zinn for years, and had some students read Wherever You Go, There You Are this winter. They loved it and tried some of the mindfulness practices, diligently. Have I been as diligent as they?

I'm going outdoors to listen to the birds.

* * * * * * *
More links:

Center for Mindfulness in Health Care, Medicine, and Society at U. Mass. Medical School

Interview with Kabat-Zinn on the website of the Kwan Um School of Zen, the branch of Zen where he got his start in mindfulness practice -- yes, mindfulness is a Buddhist thing, though Kabat-Zinn has taken the practice and adapted it "without the Buddhism," as the NPR piece says. Some of you may have programs based on the U. Mass. one at your HMOs.

Short review of Wherever You Go, There You Are

You can order tapes and CDs via Kabat-Zinn's website.


Purim starts tomorrow (Saturday) evening.

Radical Torah always has interesting commentary.

And someone has turned Megillat Esther (the biblical book of Esther) into a graphic novel.

Purim's text is the book of Esther, and you can't really get a full sense of it in its Jewish liturgical context just by reading it, but in case you're curious and want to read it and don't have a Bible handy, here are the NRSV version and a translation by Jewish scholars.

For ongoing news on the Nigeria anti-gay legislation (and related matters Anglican)...

... the place to check is Matthew Thompson's blog.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Feast of David of Wales

Happy Feast of Saint David. Here's a little information about him, directly from Wales. You don't have to read the Welsh in the left-hand column if you don't want to. His real name was Dewi, but it got anglicized.

Speaking of navels... (a new word)

Two posts ago, I wrote something about the overcontemplation of our Anglican navel, and lo and behold, into my inbox lands my Word-A-Day word (which I don't always have time to look at) and the word for today, March 1, means "contemplation of one's navel." Here it is. (As I say to my students in class, "Fancy word alert!")


On the more poignant side of word-learning: I found one of the adult students (not mine) weeping in the classroom next to my office because she didn't understand one of the words on her course evaluation form. (She was in a course taught by a colleague from another department which is an "intensive" ending this week, before spring break, so they were already at the evaluation stage.) The word was "aspect," as in "What were the best aspects of the course?"

Another word episode: We are beginning the study of the Rule of St. Benedict. A first-year student, male, age 19 or so, asks me this a.m. in class what the word "contemplation" means.

Midterms corrected. Grades all in. Good night.

Letter to Nigerian Senate leaders from U.S. faith leaders

Thanks to Matthew Thompson over at Political Spaghetti for this one.

Don't let this keep you from writing and phoning, though. Auntie Jane sez. Numbers do matter in these instances.