Sunday, April 30, 2006

tagged! a meme! a meme!

Via MM. I love these things.

Accent: I like to think its Robert-E-Lee Southern, but it isn't. I'm usually told I "don't have an accent," which means its probably General American. Except perhaps when I'm with my family.

Chore I Hate: Chores in general. Laundry is always irritating.

Dog or Cat: Definitely dog. I dream of a Chocolate Lab named Jeb, who one day will fetch my ducks, and keep cats away.

Essential Electronics: Laptop, cell phone (only phone), ipod at library and on airplanes.

Favorite Cologne: I don't know. Probably Spikenard, if I ever found it. Or something that smells like Christ Church Incense.

Gold or Silver: Silver chalices, golden patens.

Hometown: Griffin, Georgia; Portsmouth, Virginia.

Insomnia: sounds fascinating.

Job Title: Curate / Assistant Chaplain / Student.

Kids: see MM's response.

Living Arrangements: Boring. Apartment.

Most Admirable Trait: Not qualified to answer. Ask MM if you're interested.

Number of Sexual Partners: What kind of meme is this?! None, thank you.

Overnight Hospital States: None so far, Thanks be to God.

Phobias: Can't think of any. I'm not overly fond of snakes.

Quote: Nomine Conservus. Also: Si je puis. I guess those are more motto than quote.

Religion: Christian, obviously. Specifically: Catholic. Anglican. Episcopalian. In that order.

Siblings: None. A healthy number of first cousins, though, to many of whom I am fairly closely attached.

Time I Wake Up: It varies wildly. Lately around 8:30.

Unusual Talent or Skill: Juggling.

Vegetable I Refuse to Eat
: "Refuse" is a little strong. I'm not very keen on cooked carrots.

Worst Habit: Who knows? Stubbornness?

X-Rays: X-Ray Vision! Hahahahahahahaha!!!!!!

Yummy Stuff I Cook: Sometmes I put a dill pickle on a piece of bread, with mayonaise. I call it a Bachelor Burrito.

Zodiac Sign: I never can remember. Hippopataumus or something. That stuff is Satanic.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

lectionary central

I've added a new link to the "links" section in the sidebar, to Lectionary Central.  A terrific resource!  Browse through it.  Its got all the (traditional, Western) readings and collects for each Sunday in the year, along with links to commentaries and sermons from the Fathers, Caroline Divines, Oxford Movement Folks, the Wesleys, etc. etc.

john zahl's top fifty movies list

Check it out.  What do you think?  From the movies I have seen on the list, I'd say its a pretty good list.  Cf. my best movies of 2005 list.  Summer's almost here, you students and seminarians out there, you're going to be renting some movies (I hope).  May as well rent good ones.

my goodness

Methodist membership drops for 36th straight year.

an interview with lord carey

Read it here.  There's also an interview with some Australian who doesn't like him.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

an unfortunate translation

This is on the offical webpage of His Most Divine All-Holiness the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch, where there is a section about St. Andrew the Apostle, the founder of the Church at Constantinople:

"The Apostle Andrew was from Besthaisda, son of some Jew named Jonas, and brother of the apostle Peter, the peak of the Disciples of Christ."

(The problem is bad English.)

scholars discover 23 blank pages that may as well be lost samuel bekett play

From the Onion.

First saw at CB4P.

christ have mercy upon us

In my inbox this morning, from my school's email listserv:

Anyone interested in going with me on a one-day, all-expenses paid trip to
Washington, DC in August?

On August 28 (or thereabouts) I will be going to Washington, DC to attend a one-day conference hosted by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights. The conference is a meeting of leaders/representatives of pro-choice seminarian student groups. I will be going to represent (XXX) Students for Reproductive Justice, which is a group that kind of exists only on paper right now, but will be a living, breathing [bitterly ironical choice of adjectives there] organization next year. It will be an exciting opporutnity to meet seminary students from around the country who are intersted in reproductive justice -- and I would love the company (not to mention another person to brainstorm SRJ events for next year!)

Please contact if you are even tentatively interested.

c.s. lewis went to confession regularly -- so should you

C.S. Lewis did not write much about sensational sins like murder or adultery or drunkenness. Rather he concentrated on more everyday failings such as tale bearing, ill temper, sloth and cowardice. He shows how seemingly small matters can have great consequences, separating a person from other human beings and ultimately God himself.

Lewis wrote as a man painfully aware of his own past sins and his present sinfulness. After his conversion, it took him a few years to muster the courage to make an auricular confession to an Anglican priest. About his first confession, he wrote (on October 24, 1940), “It was the hardest decision I have ever made.” From that time on he made regular confession to a priest.

Read more here.

from the interview with alice linsley

In case you missed it, here is an interesting excerpt from the Pontifications interview with Alice Linsley, a former ECUSA priest who recently (and very courageously) renounced her orders, having come into personal agreement with the witness of the Undivided Church on the question of the ordination of women.  Read the whole interview here.

I also think Ms. Linsley's second answer below is very astute and telling.  Feminism would probably not have been necessary if men had taken seriously and undertaken faithfully their responsibilities as men, as husbands and fathers, in the first place.

Question: Where do Evangelicals who support women priests go wrong in
your view?

Response: The irony of Evangelicals is that they say they believe in the
authority of Scripture but then allow cultural accommodation in their
interpretation of Scripture. This happens because they do not maintain
the proper tension between Scripture and Tradition, as did St. Paul and
the other Apostles.

Question: What made you go for women priests in the first place?

Response: The failure of men to lead in my family and in the
congregation. God uses those who are available and willing to serve.
When a generation of men fails in service to God, God allows females to
serve. This is his permissive response throughout Scripture and history.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

the forum: the pagels imposture

by Father Paul Mankowski, SJ
special to

Apr. 24 ( - Two weeks ago, at the height of the Gospel of Judas mania, a Google News search of "Elaine Pagels" plus "expert" scored 157 hits; she was the media's prime go-to person for a scholarly read on the import of the Coptic manuscript. Pagels was most often cited in stories such as the following from the NYT:

Elaine Pagels, a professor of religion at Princeton who specializes in studies of the Gnostics, said in a statement, "These discoveries are exploding the myth of a monolithic religion, and demonstrating how diverse -- and fascinating -- the early Christian movement really was."

I am going to demonstrate that Professor Pagels's media reputation as a scholar is undeserved, her reputation as an expert in Gnosticism still less so. The case for the prosecution will require some careful reading. Those who want to follow along with the sources at their elbow should find a copy of Pagels's 1979 book The Gnostic Gospels (NY: Random House). Those who have some Latin and a library handy may want the Sources Chrétiennes edition of Irenaeus' Adversus Haereses (ed. Rousseau & Doutreleau, Paris: Cerf, 1974, 1982) and can bookmark page 278 of Vol. 211 and page 154 of Vol. 294.* Others can get most of the gist from the translation available in Vol. 1 of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), with a finger in pages 380 and 439. OK, to work.

Pagels's The Gnostic Gospels is in large measure a polemic against St. Irenaeus (approx. 130-202 AD), Bishop of Lyons and a Father of the Church, and is aimed in particular against the defense of ecclesial orthodoxy offered by Irenaeus in his work Against Heresies -- which was written in Greek but which survives, for the most part, in an ancient Latin translation.

In a chapter called "One God, One Bishop," Pagels is concerned to show that the doctrine of monotheism and the hierarchical structuring of the Church were mutually reinforcing ploys designed to consolidate ecclesiastical power and eliminate diversity -- specifically, the diversity that Pagels finds in the Gnostics whom Irenaeus was at pains to refute. Pagels claims that Valentinian Christians (disciples of the Gnostic Valentinus) "followed a practice which insured the equality of all participants" and put the bishop Irenaeus in a double-bind situation by ignoring his orders.

Read the whole thing here.

a crazy woman!

Father Peregrenator has unearthed Fred Phelps' (of "God hates fags" fame) daughter. Apparently she's also insane.

Monday, April 24, 2006

the diocese of pennsylvania is dysfunctional

These guys have problems. (I think their main problem is wearing a mitre.)

oratio ante colligationem / prayer before connecting to the internet

OMNIPOTENS aeterne Deus, qui nos
secundum imaginem Tuam plasmasti, et omnia bona, vera, pulchra,
praesertim in divina persona Unigeniti Filii Tui Domini nostri Iesu
Christi, quaerere iussisti, praesta quaesumus ut, per intercessionem
Sancti Isidori, Episcopi et Doctoris, in peregrinationibus per
interrete factis et manus oculosque ad quae Tibi sunt placita
intendamus et omnes quos convenimus cum caritate ac patientia
accipiamus.  Per Christum Dominum nostrum.  Amen.

LMIGHTY and eternal God, who
hast created us in Thy image and bade us to seek after all that is
good, true and beautiful, especially in the divine person of Thy
only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee that,
through the intercession of Saint Isidore, bishop and doctor, during
our journeys through the internet, we will direct our hands and eyes
only to that which is pleasing to Thee and treat with charity and
patience all those souls whom we encounter.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Find more Latin / English prayers here.

vatican preparing statemenet on condoms and aids

ROME (Reuters) - The Vatican will soon publish a statement
on the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS, an issue
highlighted by a call from a leading cardinal to ease its ban
on them, a Catholic Church official said.

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, the head of the Vatican's
Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, declined to reveal
the contents of the document in an interview published in
Sunday's la Repubblica newspaper, but said Pope Benedict had
asked his department to study the issue.

The former archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria
Martini, who was standard bearer for a moderate minority in the
conclave that elected the Pope last year, called for a reform
in an interview published in Italy on Friday.

The Vatican opposes condoms as a form of contraception, but
several cardinals have said in recent years that using them is
a lesser evil if the alternative is infection with AIDS.

"This is a very difficult and delicate subject that
requires prudence," said Mexican-born Barragan.

"My department is studying this closely with scientists and
theologians expressly assigned to draft a document that will be
issued soon," he said.

The Catholic Church, which runs many hospitals and
institutions to help AIDS victims, opposes the use of condoms
and teaches that fidelity within heterosexual marriage,
chastity and abstinence are the best way to stop the spread of

It says promoting condoms to fight the spread of AIDS
fosters immoral and hedonistic lifestyles and behavior that
will only contribute to its spread.

In his interview with the weekly L'Espresso, Martini backed
up his call for a change in condom policy by referring to cases
where one partner in a marriage is infected with AIDS.

"This person has an obligation to protect the other partner
and the other partner also has to protect themselves," he said.
The Church disapproves of sexual intercourse outside marriage.

Read the whole thing here. Interesting.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

god or the girl

The A&E show "God or the Girl" just ended. I watched most of it. The guy I liked (pious, normal, intelligent, UVA alumnus) went to seminary. The two guys I didn't like, didn't. I didn't start watching it early enough to see the fourth guy, who dropped out I am told.

Read more here.

archbishop williams: 'doubtful mysteries blind us to real faith'

Let’s ask ourselves why we’re sometimes more comfortable with such
stories about conspiracies and stories about mystical gurus. Is it
perhaps because when we turn to what the Bible actually says, Jesus
challenges us pretty seriously? What if this is a story we haven’t
really listened to before? And what if everything could be different
because of this particular story?

That’s the question we ought to be asking at Easter. What if this
surprising character in the New Testament is not just another teacher,
another guru, but someone who really could change the world? Everything
truly can be different because of the real story of Jesus, the Son of

Well, that is the real front-page story, bigger than any story about
the discovery of a lost document and ultimately more exciting than any
number of conspiracy theories.

And that’s perhaps why the Bible story is still being told two
thousand years on, by people who have discovered that the world and
their lives really have changed.

Read th whole thing here.

hints for happy marriages

Read the whole thing at Zenit.

Interview With Father Michael Ryan, Philosophy Dean

ROME, APRIL 16, 2006 (
Within a happy marriage the positive comments should outnumber the
negative about 5 to 1, says an experienced marriage counselor.

Legionary Father Michael Ryan, who is also dean of philosophy at
the Regina Apostolorum university in Rome, spells out other points of
advice in his book, "The Last Straw: Ways to Overcome the Stumbling
Blocks in Communication Towards a Stronger and Happier Marriage"
(Circle Press).

In this interview with ZENIT, Father Ryan touched on some of the advice he gives married couples.

Q: In your book you say that many marriages break up because of
misunderstandings and comparatively small things which could have been
avoided. What are these things and what should be done in order to
resolve them in time?

Father Ryan: Marriages break up when there is hurting going on in
the relationship. It is very difficult to persevere in the company of
somebody who is sour and unpleasant.

In a nutshell I would say that we must avoid in every way possible
hurting others with words or actions. Second, we must foster the
atmosphere in which one can express to the other what is hurting. And,
finally, we must accept the fact that we can hurt others even when we
don't intend to do so.

As a general rule we must monitor frequently our relationship in
order to cure as soon as possible any problem that may arise, even in
spite of our good will. Each person is different and the sensitivity of
each person is different.

Therefore, there is no set list of things that can cause problems
to a marriage. Each man and women must become aware of what hurts a

The dangerous aspect of all this consists in the fact that we can
hurt others without us realizing that we are doing so. This leads to
the accumulation of pain which then can easily spill over.

Q: How can married persons cultivate a form of dialogue necessary
for addressing problems or disagreements in an open but delicate way?
When is the right time to speak about difficulties? How can you say the
truth without hurting another?

Father Ryan: First, we should not be "complaining" all the time
about everything. It is important to reserve our complaints for really
important issues or for issues that have hurt us in a special way.

Remember that the proportion between positive and negative moments
in marriage must be always about 5 to 1. For each negative moment, for
each criticism I allow myself to issue, there should be another five
positive inputs. Our toleration for negativity is very short.

Then, when I must address a negative subject I should always begin
stating my love for the other person. This is like stretching a safety
net below us before we begin our delicate act of complaining, opening a
bleeding issue.

With this I am saying that however we may get engaged in a
discussion, there must be no doubt about our love for each other. That
will not be touched.

Third, we should treat one subject at a time. Sometimes when we get
angry we spit out many issues and this only confuses the whole
relationship. One critical issue at a time!

Finally, try not to get personal in the sense of accusations. Try
to use what is called the "I messages." Instead of saying that "you are
a horrible person," say, "I feel that you are a horrible person."

The difference might seem small, but the second way is much better
because you are stating what you feel and not hammering the other on
the head directly.

Q: Love and pain go together. The more one loves, the more one gets
hurt if the loved one doesn't seem to react in the expected way. How
can love prevail over pain? How can each other's understanding become
more sensitive? How can one stop being selfish and egoistic?

Father Ryan: This is certainly the greatest challenge for love. I
don't think it is always a question of being selfish or egoistic.

It is a fact that we can love others when we feel that we too are
loved. Even with God this is the way and this is what St. John says to
us in his Letter: It is God that loves us first.

Q: But how do we get beyond this vicious circle, when love in the other is lacking?

Father Ryan: If we were only instinct, then there would be no way
out. But we are also intellect and we can understand what the good of
the other person means and we can love that good for him or for her.

But we will be able to overcome our own pain more fully if we get
inspiration for love from above, from the source of love. This reminds
us of what John Paul II says in his "Letter to Families": If we want to
love, we must be united to the source of Love, with the big "L."

Q: How can the deep feelings for each other felt in the beginnings
keep growing instead of dying down? How can they transform into true

Father Ryan: The couple must become aware of the phenomena of
change and growth. It is very important to get off to a good start.

This means that the first years of marriage must be intense and
full of loving commitment. Then they should renew their commitment
often, every year or at least every time that life is going to change
in an important way.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

happy birthday!

Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith! Happy Birthday to you!

Friday, April 21, 2006

hu's on first?

The reason I am having uncharitable feelings today is that the president of China is here. His thoroughgoing persecution of the Christian faithful (and others) would make even liberal ECUSA prelates blush. Anyway, there are secret service all over my library, and you can only get into it the back way. This is causing a great deal of anti-China sentiment to well up within me. Why is the yuan still tied to the dollar??? Inquiring student-priests want to know!


Here are some pro-China demonstrators (who apparently were bussed in from NYC):

And some Falun Gong protestors:

Read more here. See more pictures here.

And here is a good perspective on China, in my view (particularly given what China has done to my library access).

Its funny that Hu's visit to the White House began with a big faux pas: the White House announcer referring to China as "Taiwan" -- sort of.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

rowan ++ on abortion and the culture of 'choice'

It is now far easier and more fashionable to defend the moral otherness of animals, or even of the inanimate environment, than to persuade people of the appropriateness of defending unborn humans in this way, although there is intense clinical pressure to identify the foetus as a quasi-child whose welfare the mother is obliged to foster. The reductio ad absurdum of would-be legal definitions of foetal rights only serves to pinpoint the bizarre confusion British and American society tolerates in this area, where the defenders of the moral status of veal calves and rainforests seem to find no problem with the moral invisibility of certain categories of embryonic humans.

Read more here, at First Apostle's blog, including this about the Archbishop's book:

As a registered Democrat, I am always a bit reticent to admit that I am pro-life, and there was even a time when I experimented with not identifying myself as such. As I read over the Archbishop’s profound exploration of choice, however, I am emboldened to stand firmly in opposition to abortion.

Buy the book here.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

he is risen, alleluia

O Queen of Heaven, be joyful, alleluia;
Because he whom so meetly thou barest, alleluia,
Hath arisen, as he promised, alleluia:
Pray for us to the Father, alleluia.

V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia
R. For the Lord is risen indeed, alleluia

Let us pray.
O God, who, by the resurrection of thy Son Jesus Christ didst vouchsafe to give gladness unto the world: Grant, we beseech thee, that we, being holpen by the Virgin Mary, his Mother, may attain unto the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

new section in the sidebar!

Friends, I have added a section of links toward the bottom of the sidebar. It is called "Prayer and Devotional Books" and has links to, well, prayer and devotional books for you to purchase. All have the endorsement of your humble Father Blogger. Some are more highly endorsed than others. I will doubtless be adding to the list over time.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

pentagonal, copper, peace pole

That is what is being installed in my school's Jeffersonian quadrangle. Can you think of anything better to spend thirteen hundred and seventy dollars on? I can't. Not only will it look great, but it can be used (if it please God) for Tether Ball too. The website very reassuringly asserts that the pentagonal, copper, peace pole is "made by an artist." Here is a particularly informative quote (from "an artist"?):
It is too easy for something like peace poles to appear to be an insubstantial fringe. So I make peace poles that legitimize the message, peace poles that are wide and tall and made of materials that exude substance and endurance, peace poles that will last long enough to be a legacy.
What a relief. I was getting so sick and tired of peace poles that "appeared to be an insubstantial fringe." I'm so happy that this one not only will "legitimize the message," but will be wide and tall and made of copper.

'honor killing' brother jailed (in germany)

A 19-year-old Turkish man has been jailed for nine years and three months by a German court for shooting his sister in a so-called "honour killing". Ayhan Surucu had confessed to shooting his sister Hatun Surucu, 23, at a bus stop in a Berlin suburb last year. Two other brothers were cleared of charges of conspiring to murder her. Prosecutors said the brothers felt dishonoured by their sister, who lived on her own with her son after leaving a cousin she had been forced to marry. The death of the 23-year-old shocked Germany and led to street protests by Turkish...

This is one of the sickest things about Islam as it is not uncommonly practiced. Read the whole thing here. Read more here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

holy week recovers celebration of penance

Read the whole thing here. The whole thing is very short. I especially like the following point made by Cardinal Stafford:
The cardinal pointed out that this is the answer for the many people who wonder if it is possible to forgive, especially when it is a question of wicked crimes, such as violence against children or the mass killing of innocents.
Don't ever let anyone tell you that Jesus's message is that sin isn't real, or that it doesn't matter. What the cross shows is the horrible and extreme reality of sin. Otherwise where is the victory? Where is the power of the cross, if not in its triumph over sin? If there is no sin, then why did our Lord suffer and die? Why is he now and forever "Jesus, who was crucified" (Matthew 28.5)? If sin is false, then the cross is a false victory.

And, along with what Cardinal Stafford said, it is cruel to deny sin. How can you tell some poor twelve year old Rwandan girl, whose family was hacked to death in front of her, who was raped and left for dead, that there is no such thing as sin? Saying such a thing would be laughable if it weren't so cruel to those victimized by sin, who have become (like Jesus) intimately acquainted with sin's horrible reality, who have been "made perfect through suffering" (Hebrews 2.10f). MM has said this many times, and I believe it.

Monday, April 10, 2006

an interview with louis dupré

Because I had dinner with him last night, here is an interview with Louis Dupré that is well worth reading. I excerpt a bit from the beginning and a bit from the end below. But do read the whole thing here.

Even today ties still exist between Christianity and culture in Europe and more so in the U.S. But on a more fundamental level the West appears to have said its definitive farewell to a Christian culture. Little of the old hostility remains. Our secular colleagues are happy to recognize the debt our civilization owes to the Christian faith to the extent that the faith, having been absorbed by culture itself, has become simply another cultural artifact. Christianity has become an historical factor subservient to a secular culture rather than functioning as the creative power it once was. The new attitude of benign atheism was, I think, prepared in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries by the three most prominent secularizers of the time, Marx, Freud and Nietzsche.

. . . . .

To speak of the religious experience may lead them into the most dangerous corner of all. The communication of personal feelings or the appeal to the feelings of the congregation subjects the divine message to the constantly changing tides of the human heart. The pastor’s task is an objective one: to preach the Word. But what the minister preaches is not an objective fact, a moral exhortation or an intellectual doctrine. It possesses an inner, radiating beauty that illuminates the objective message and warms the heart of the believer. To bring out this aesthetic quality of the Word requires more than eloquence or a solid acquaintance with theology. It summons the pastor to be a spiritual person, penetrated by the encompassing presence of the Word, by its mysterious force and by its sublime symbols.

The pastor ought to be a person acquainted with that inner silence in which alone the Word can resonate. Pastors should also be capable of detecting the symbolism both of words and of earthly events—the analogies of faith—through which the deeper meaning of the divine mystery discloses itself. This, I suspect, may be far more important than being timely or relevant. Those who attend services come to hear what is different from ordinary life: what is the same they may learn far better from journals at home.

Louis Dupré was for many years T. Lawrason Riggs professor of the philosophy of religion at Yale University. A graduate of the University of Louvain in Belgium, he has received honorary doctorates from Loyola College, Sacred Heart University and Georgetown University as well as the Aquinas medal from the American Catholic Philosophical Association. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a foreign member of the Royal Academy of Belgium. Besides studies on Hegel, Marx and Kierkegaard, he has published works on religion (notably The Other Dimension: A Dubious Heritage and Transcendent Selfhood) and on modern culture (Passage to Modernity).

worst sermon ever?

This might quite possibly be the worst sermon I've ever read. But it explains why certain quadrants of ECUSA seem cursed and lifeless. Because Christ Crucified is not there. He's very explicitly unwelcome. Read the sermon. Pray for the woman who preached it. Pray for the Church.

Friday, April 07, 2006

oh boy... here we go again: the gospel of judas / an invective

As if the Davinci Code weren't enough. Here comes more fuel to the fire. They have unearthed the "Gospel of Judas," which looks like another Gnostic text from the same temporal and geographic vacinity as the Nag Hammadi texts. That is, these seem all to have come from groups of earlyish (2nd - 4th century) quasi-Christians in Egypt. Their brand of quasi-Christianity developed in a very esoteric way, on, and then beyond, the margins of the Christianity taught by the Apostles and handed on elsewhere (Rome, Ephesus, Alexandria, Antioch, Smyrna, Jerusalem, and Canterbury [just kidding]).

What is so annoying about the coming-to-light of this "Gospel of Judas" is that the media will swarm about, misreporting the history and significance of it. And there are so many people now who are anxious to believe that the mainstream of Church teaching is factually incorrect, which belief Dan Brown is largely responsible for making cool. I mean, its much more exciting to believe that there is a "secret tradition," guarded by an elite group of tolerant, liberal magicians, than it is to believe that what the Church has taught is pretty much how things happened. But the overwhelming proponderance of historical evidence supports the latter, more boring view. So people invent conspiracy theories.

What's really kind of annoying is that there is a cottage industry of largely politically-motivated quasi-scholarhsip, enabling and promoting a brand of quasi-Christianity that loosely associates itself with the Egyptian Gnosticism evidenced by the Nag Hammadi texts, and now apparently the "Gospel of Judas." It is all very tendentious, mostly fueled by secularist feminism and the homosexual agenda. But the secular media, as might be expected, but nonetheless annoyingly and naively, seizes consistently on this brand of scholarship. The NY Times article cites Elaine Pagels:
"These discoveries are exploding the myth of a monolithic religion and demonstrating how diverse — and fascinating — the early Christian movement really was," said Elaine Pagels, a professor of religion at Princeton who specializes in studies of the Gnostics.
"Exploding" and other forms of the word "explode" seem to be very hot right now among academics on the cutting edge of nonsense. For my part, I hope "explode" displaces "liminal" and "subvert" in the top spot of the list of Most Fetishized Academic Sillyisms. I think maybe they got it from the exploding parliament scene in V for Vendetta.

Anyway, one of Pagels favorite pastimes (apart from "exploding" things) is seizing upon the most localized and marginal of early Christian communal nuttiness, and elevating it to evidence of some vast (imaginary) multivalent pluraformity among primitive Christian belief and practice. The fact is, even granting divergent strands of Hebraizing and Gnosticizing elements here and there (especially, for some reason, in Egypt), early Christian belief and practice was surprisingly cohesive and consistent -- the near monolithicism Pagels wants so badly to explode. And surprisingly in keeping with what has emerged as the orthodox faith. I suppose that's how it came to be the orthodox faith. It was always mainstream and dominant -- which of course makes it a prime target for revisionsist and postmodern critics: "did someone say 'mainstream' and 'dominant'?!?!?! Call the Thought Police!!!! They must be exploded!!!!"

I am pleased, though, to see this acknowledgement in the Times article:
The consensus of scholars is that the four canonical gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — were probably... written within the first century.
I.e. well over a century before even the (lost but hypothesized) Greek version of "Gospel of Judas," and over two centuries before the Coptic version. Also well before any of the other Gnostic Texts, and well before pretty much every single one of the other apocryphal gospels.

Anyway, it is a very exciting discovery, notwithstanding all the misguided huppla. But not because it sheds light on the "real" (secret) version of Christianity, surpressed by the white, male, heteronormative, Catholic oppressors; but rather because it sheds light on what a particular sect of early, marginal gnostics in Egypt believed.

If you are interested in all of this stuff, I highly recommend Father Raymond Brown's Introduction to the New Testament. It is a terrific overview of the history and background of the various books of the New Testament, as well as of much of the apocryphal material (including the Nag Hammadi stuff). Its engaging, easy to read, and fascinating. Brown is extremely learned, orthodox, and situated well within the mainstream of serious Biblical scholarship.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

christian brethren elsewhere

If there is one thing that is obvious from this picture, it is that certain elements of Ethiopian Orthodoxy are really interesting. I wish I knew more.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

coptic daily office

This is an interesting site. It seems to be the Coptic Orthodox Daily Office in English. Its a bit abstruse, and I wonder whether they use the entire thing printed as it is when you click on each office. I.e. that's a lot of psalmody.

in library; please excuse non-prolificacy

Dear frisnds, for the next few weeks I will be sequestered in the library, laptop humming, trying to hammer out the requisite end-of-term pages. I intend for there to be a drop in my blogging activity. Please pardon. See you on the other side (and now and again in the interim, I'm sure).

Saturday, April 01, 2006

one year ago today...

One year ago today, Pope John Paul II died. What an incredible thing that was.

Holy John Paul, pray for us!

father peregrinator on the priesting of women

Father Peregrinator has interesting posts, arguing from scripture and tradition, about the priesting of women here and here. He raises an interesting question about the consistency of conservative, Evangelical Anglicans. And there is a horrifying picture of something trying to be a stole.