Monday, March 31, 2008


Could one aspect of repentance be learning to ask different questions, even different kinds of questions?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Sound of Thoughts

"The Lord's majesty is also worshiped with dampened and soft voices. If thoughts are only sounding there, it causes such a clamour that God can hear it Himself in heaven."

(Sadly, I've lost the attribution info! I hope it turns up. But the quote is so wonderful, I couldn't resist including it.)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Making Do With Incomplete Information

"In life, as in cosmology, making do with incomplete information is as much an art as a science, and the style with which we fashion decisions may be as important as whether they turn out to be right or wrong."
Kathryn Harmon, You Are Here.

Leaving Room To Be Wrong

"If you will let people be wrong,
most of whatever love is
may begin. "

John Ciardi, from "In Fact"

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Might it be possible to interpret the intensity, the duration, and even the danger of life--particularly, of life in God--as invigorating--wonder-inciting rather than as a cause for discontent, despair?

Might it be possible to regard the perilous, the provisional, the incremental, the perplexing, and the paradoxical/ambiguous/painfully unresolved as allies rather than as enemies?

This morning it occurs to me that the rawness and damage of defeat are more praiseworthy than the smooth surfaces and "successes" of the unchallenging familiar.

In practical terms, what does this mean ? It might mean that I should cut back on complaining for one reason only: it erodes my zest for holy adventure in all of the realms of experience, from the most macrocosmic to the high and windy mountain chasms of the "merely" momentary.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bursting Free

This is James Croak's "Pegasus: Some Loves Hurt More Than Others"--1982, life-sized, mixed media. Here is what Croak says of it:
"In Greek mythology, after Pegasus threw Bellerophon to fall back to earth, he turned and said, 'A bitter ending awaits those who seek pleasure beyond what is right.' I liked the myth's implicit morality but wanted to translate it into a contemporary context so my secular Pegasus breaks through the top of a 1963 Chevy low rider. These cars are worshipped but their owners live tragic lives."
Barbara Bloemink, in the interview from which the above statement is exerpted, calls the piece "...the perfect visual metaphor for the notion of artists as outlaw hero, breaking out of the confines of conventional conformity."
I look at this image in another way as well--it reminds me of how tempting it is to treat ourselves and each other, and of course, God, as objects that function well or poorly or not at all, but objects nevertheless, and how do you deal with objects? Impersonally! You replace part A with part B, or tinker with this or that, or do some kind of large-scale overhaul, in hopes of getting the desired results. No mystery, no astonishment. But the horse bursts free! How wild and unpredictable life is life, an ever-sacred danger. May we conduct every interaction, even our own intra-actions, with the light, respectful energy such glory requires.

Cartoon Theology

It's evident from the wrinkles on the page that I've
had this cartoon for some time!
We all want to be somehow rendered exempt from suffering, just as this deluded chicken imagines that its particular death can be any less messy and out-of-control than that of any of its kin.
Jesus, on the other hand, didn't seek to cut corners or find loopholes, but rather, participated fully in all levels of our experience, even those which are messy, miserable, and out-of-control.
Maybe any given individual will be granted a serene passing--
that is, after all, one of the things we pray for. But maybe not. And at some point in life, every person will find him or herself suffering indignity and panic, with no way out but through.
Maybe my complete unwillingness to gracefully accept this is part of my own indignity...

Apophatic Theology in Cartoons (2)

"...This knowledge is apophatic because the God who now is perceived cannot be defined; he is experienced as a reality which transcends all possibility of definition."
Dumitru Staniloae
The Experience of God

Monday, March 17, 2008

Apophatic Theology in Cartoons (1)

It's true that the woman in this cartoon doesn't seem pleased with the man's aspiration for their relationship, but I think that as a matter of fact, he has a point.

It can be a joy--deep wordless rest--to spend time with God (or with other people) without any identifiable agenda, purpose, or content ("filler").

A very few minutes of this is all I'm up to, at this point, though, and not all that frequently!

But God is patient.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Alternative to the Kingdom of Heaven

Taste and See!

Resignation, stoicism, calculation, dutifulness, and mechanical thinking--I am slowly and painfully learning that none of these do justice to the hilarious, exuberant invitation to "taste and see that the Lord is good."

"My hunch is that about 5 percent of what we think we know about God (our theology) is genuinely helpful in our pursuit of holiness. As for the rest, I've a sneaking suspicion it's a clever human plot for sidestepping the divine will," writes Mike Mason in his book The Mystery of Children. "Ever since Augustine much of Western Christianity has been built upon rational, propositional truth. But children have little use for carefully reasoned logic. They sense that truth by nature is not propositional, it is alive... Offering children rational truth instead of the real thing is like trying to pay off the Mafia with play money."

Friday, March 14, 2008

Nearer Than We Imagine

"What a shame it would have been to
miss God while waiting for Him."
from Run by Ann Patchett

Thursday, March 13, 2008

How Can We Tell Where We Stop and God Begins?

Paul Tournier on Refraining from Judgement
"In theory, each of our thoughts, feelings, and actions may be the expressions of the automatic determinism of our physiological, psychological animal reactions, as well as the effect of a spiritual inspiration, free and creative. But often we think we are acting on inspiration when we are the puppets of our automatic mechanisms. And often, too, the particular style which our natural temperament gives to our behavior hides its spiritual source. It is easier still to be mistaken about other people! We must therefore abstain from judging others, that is to say, we must renounce the claim to be able to make from outside a diagnosis of how much of their behavior derives from the Spirit and how much from nature. Even where we are ourselves concerned, we never know ourselves completely... At one moment we find that there is something God-given in what seems the most natural of our reactions, and at the next we discover something still human in what we have thought to be our most genuine spiritual experiences."