Friday, January 30, 2009

Theology and Theosis

The older I get, the less I care about the former and the more I care about the latter. And the older I get, the more I realize how unrelated they are. And the older I get, the less inclined I am to want to talk about either one.

Here are some wise words about this from Fr. Stephen Freeman (in the midst of an exhausting - and in IMHO, fairly fruitless - theological discussion in the comments section of a recent post).

"... To pierce in knowledge to the very heart of God is not a proud thing, but a humility that few know (certainly not me). But I read the words of the humble and trust what they say as they speak out of the fullness of the Church.

I met a monk in the Holy Land, whose Orthodox monastery, since the 4th century has produced many martyrs. His statement to me, 'We are monks. We have no enemies.' That, is a Christian. But if you do not know God in such a manner, you should be careful about lecturing others about Who God is and How He is. Simply quoting the Scriptures is not an assurance of knowledge. Humility includes listening to the testimony of the saints through the ages whose lives have shown us the fullness of the reality they knew. It is to be respected..."

He's said a mouthful.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Cold is Getting to Them

I'm not sure what in the name of entertainment would make 3 perfectly sane (well almost perfectly sane) Minnesotans bundle up, drive out to the lake, fill up a little sled with jiggle sticks, tackle boxes, 5-gallon buckets (with cushions, of course!), and an ice auger, and get out of the nice warm car, fill the little sled full of gear, drag it way out onto the frozen lake, make a coupla holes in the ice, and sit on their buckets and look at the holes - for a long time.

A long, freezing cold time.

A long, freezing cold, boring time.

Why would any sane Minnesotan do that?

I'm guessing DearHusband's wondering the same thing:

I like to fish and all, but I don't like to fish that much.

Nobody should like to fish that much.

They didn't catch anything.

Not even a cold.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Seeing Christ and Ourselves

Shamelessly (but respectfully) nabbed from Steve at Pithless Thoughts:

Who Do You See?
"When did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and come to you?" (Matt. 25:37)

The reality is we see Christ every day. The omnipotent, self-existent, eternal Creator of all took on our human flesh with all of its fallen limitations and needs. God entered the death imprisoned world as a hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless infant. Like all of us He needed food, drink, clothing and shelter even as an adult, even as God.

The homeless are an icon of the fallen nature of our true humanity and the dependence we have on others for even our basic human needs. The homeless in reality are a mirror for our own wandering, our own hunger and thirst for something beyond ourselves, our own prisons, our own shame and nakedness that makes us hide behind our masks and avoid love and communion. We avoid eye contact with the person holding the sign because his face is our mirror, if we look into it we might be convicted of who we really are: compassionless, merciless, unforgiving, judgmental, angry, respecter of persons, proud, stingy and ungrateful.

But the homeless person IS the sign. He is the sign of the Kingdom come upon you and he will be with us always because we always need to be pointed toward the Kingdom. Will you turn away? Will you obey the sign and walk the path toward it?

(Thanks to Allan Boyd for the image from his blog on ministry to the marginalized and hopeless:
The Living End please check it out.)

I Am Not Horrified

Yet another thing I read today which makes me feel a little like this:

Each Sunday in the liturgy, we pray, "I believe, O Lord, and I confess that thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who camest into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first..."

"I am first..." - that doesn't mean that we take a position somewhere behind Rick Warren ... or anyone else.

Not only am I not horrified ... I'm pleasantly surprised. And glad he was there.

As far as I'm concerned, there was no more important place for this bishop to be at that time.

Monday, January 19, 2009

That Artisan Bread Thing That's Going Around

It seems that many of my regular reads have recently discovered and used the "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day" recipe, made popular in the book of the same name. I'm not sure which blog I saw it on first, but eventually saw it on lots of blogs I read. It looked like something worth trying, and so with a free day today, I gave it a shot.

I used the recipe found here, and as it promises, it was easy, indeed! No kneading or anything! It looks like mine turned out pretty well, but the proof will be in the eating, and we'll try it tonight at supper.

There are only a couple of slight modifications I'd make. The crust looks pretty serious! Now I like a good crusty crust, but I have a feeling that eating this crust will be downright LOUD. Rosko suggested that for a toothier crust I could eliminate the steaming from the baking process and bring the temp down a bit. I may try this with our next loaf (the dough for which is, of course, in the refrigerator ready to go!)

Another thing I would do differently is cut back on the amount of corn meal I placed on the peel. The recipe said "a liberal amount" and I might have gone past liberal to "generous." So when putting the loaf into the oven to bake, I got a bit of corn meal on the bottom of the oven, which of course, instantly burned and stunk.

Finally, the recipe suggested that to bake a loaf, I cut a piece of dough off of the huge lump of dough which is about the size of a grapefruit. Well, I'm not certain how many folks come to the author's table, but the loaf looks a mite small for our family of 4 bread lovers. Next time I'll hack off a piece that is perhaps closer to the size of a cantaloupe.

For anyone who hasn't yet tried this recipe, and who may not have a baking stone, here's a tip: Several years ago we bought 4 cheap, unglazed ceramic tiles from the local home improvement store - and they work just the same way - and are alot cheaper than a baking stone!

So to all of you bloggers who talked this recipe up on your blogs, I extend my thanks. I think we're going to get some good use outta this!

Looking for a Home

Looking for a dog? Know anyone who is?

This one needs a home.

Rescued by a friend of a friend, he's a young neutered male, 1-3 years old. Looks sort of English Setter-y to me - might be a mix. I assume this guy is currently being fostered in central MN (St. Cloud area).

If anyone's interested in learning more about him, I can get you details.

Catching Up

It's been a busy couple of weeks and amidst my various activities, I've found little time (and OK, little desire) to post. So I'll do a little catch-all catch-up.

Stopping and Going
In the category of who got the most expensive Christmas presents this year at our house, the award goes to - our cars. We'd been driving the van for awhile assuming that the grinding we were hearing when we stopped was simply ice caught up in the wheels (it's happened before!). But it turned out that the brakes in the family van (which DearHusband drives) were completely toast! So just after Christmas we had the whole brake system replaced. Stopping is good!

My own car, which I've had for a number of years, was still maneuvering on it's original tires. I knew a year ago that they were getting pretty worn, but not wanting to replace any treads before the old ones were completely gone, I put off replacing those old tires until it was absolutely necessary. Then the snow came - and after sliding around for several weeks, I realized that it had become absolutely necessary. Going is alot easier (and safer!) now, and it is also good.

This is Your Dog on Drugs
Upon picking our dog Ollie up from the groomer recently, we were informed that he has a tumor of some sort on his abdomen. We were surprised to hear this, but not surprised that we hadn't noticed it, as our dog is very hairy. So once again we called upon our veterniarian sister-in-law to come and have a look. She advised us to give him 4 Benadryl (which he happily ate in a tablespoon of peanut butter) and then they came over for pizza, beer, cards, and a quick biopsy. He was sleepy enough that she simply had to roll him over on the living room floor and stick the needle in. She prepared a couple of glass slides and said that it looked like a simple fatty tumor, but that she'd look at the cells at work the next day and let us know. Turns out it is a simple fatty tumor - nothing to worry about, she said, as older big dogs get these alot. If it becomes troublesome in any way, either to him or to us, we're to bring him in and she'll remove it (but chances are that it will just grow right back again, as older big dogs often get a little lumpy.)

Book Release
OK, it wasn't a real book release, but our completed church cookbooks have finally arrived, and they're selling like hotcakes! It's kind of a nice little book, containing a variety of recipes which represent not only a little of the ethnicity of our little church, but which are also typical midwestern fare... "More than Jello Surpise," as our priest wrote in the book's introduction. In order to get the best pricing possible, we had to order 100 of them, which is alot for our little parish. But I'm pleased to see that folks are buying them - I'll breathe easier when the bill is paid - though we sold almost enough books in the first week to make the first of the two payments on it.

Same Time Next Year
In January, the congregation for which I work holds an annual Conference on Liturgy, inviting a guest keynote speaker and a couple of workshop presenters to spend a day in conversation about liturgy. Some friends of ours from northern Minnesota come and stay with us each year at this time so that he can attend the conference. They also use the occasion of this annual visit to shop and visit other local friends. They are our favorite houseguests to have, as they are delightful folks - and so low maintenance! They know where things are at our house and make themselves at home, requiring little of their hosts. So it was good to host them again for a few days last weekend. It's always good.

Hymn Festival
Each year Cantor Colleague and his poet-spouse present a hymn festival at my former fellowship - he plays and directs the choir, and she provides commentary on the hymns. We were delighted to attend this hymn festival yesterday afternoon, and to visit with them at our house for an informal supper afterwards. The theme of yesterday's hymn festival was Sts. Peter and Paul - it was a great hymn festival with thought-provoking commentary and creative hymn presentation - and every once in awhile it's just good to sing some of those hymns which were so formative for me. (I love this photo of my colleague, taken by my friend, Mark. On our first visit to this parish, YoungerSon, then age 5, wanted to go up to the balcony and watch him play. I told him he could go up during the postlude - after which he also got to try out the organ!).

So we come to the end of a fairly busy spell at the Transposzing house of chaos. I am blessed to have the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday off from work today. My modest goals for the day include: hanging out in my jammies with some coffee for a bit longer, giving a first go at "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day," and making dinner this evening - thinking I'll give the chef a break today, too!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


... beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things ...

... and taketh the beloved's car and filleth up its empty gas tank on a dark night when it's 20 degrees below zero (and the beloved wast not moved to removeth her bum from the warm car to doeth it herself).

I am thankful for such love - and for warmer weather today.

Friday, January 16, 2009

St. Nicholas

Information about St. Nicholas can be found here.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

What I Don't See

This link will take you to some photos recently taken at our church by a friend of our parish, who is a talented photographer (click on the photos themselves for a very detailed view). Beauty in two forms - in icons and in photography.

From a clinical standpoint, the photos are highly educational as well as beautiful. How amazing to note the impact of a strategically placed single brush stroke in a particular color. Much of the beauty I see in these photos is also in the freedom and confidence of the painted lines (a freedom and confidence to which I aspire, but toward which I have a long way to go!) What a reflection of love for God and for the art of iconography.

Yet perhaps what I appreciate most about these photos is that they allow me to see details of icons I see - and at which I intentionally look - every week. I'm simply amazed at what I've missed. I look and I look - and yet I really don't see. In a way, these pictures serve as a bit of a metaphor for everything that I look at every day - but don't really see.

This photographer seemed to see in a single visit what I have missed at each of the hundreds of times I've been at church.

So thanks to Jeff (the photographer), and to Nick (the iconographer) and to Fr. Jonathan (who forwarded the link), for this eye-opening view.