Category Archives: Tohu-Bohu

Praise from the Dark Stream

The Suspicious Miracle of the Tarnished Cross. A guest post on faith by David J. Dunn

David J. Dunn is a good friend whose friendship helps sustain my faith. He also writes my favorite blog on the Huffington Post and one of the sharpest Christian Blogs on the internet providing keen and refreshingly Christian insights on on otherwise boringly controversial topics. Here he offers some particularly helpful reflections on imperfect faith.

My Sullied Cross

My Sullied Cross

This is the cross I received at my chrismation. It’s tarnished. It is always tarnished. It was bright, shiny, and new the day that I first received it. It became sullied almost immediately afterwards.

It’s not that I haven’t tried to polish it. I have actually tried to polish it several times. The dark smudges will go away for a couple of hours, but by the time church is over, the imperfections of my cross will reappear. I have decided that that’s way the it’s supposed to be. I think God is trying to tell me something. I am an Orthodox Christian. I should believe in miracles. A common miracle in the Orthodox Church is weeping icons. Icons that drip myhrr. I have never seen a weeping icon, but my cross won’t get clean. Continue reading

“Never Forget” and “Do this in Remembrance of Me:” Thoughts on how we remember September 11th.

 

The cross on the World Trade Centre site

The cross on the World Trade Centre site (Photo credit: almost witty)

Today my FaceBook feed is wrought with variations and recollections of the event of September 11th from twelve years ago.   The personal recollections have shrunk from previous years and some simply share a photo or state, “Never forget.”   Seeing that phrase repeated over without more context has begun to trouble me, and not just a little.   What is “never forget” supposed to be shorthand for on this kind of anniversary?

On one hand I think it is referring to a kind of remembering that simple tries to honor those who have suffered, especially the handfuls of people who were not merely victims, but heroes who sacrificed themselves for others.  It is good to remember heroic lives. There are, however,  other kinds of remembering too, which may be mingled in there as well.  Some ways of remembering may be the very spiritual disciplines of a never ceasing war.   It strikes me that the real challenge we face is is not just to remember, it is learning how to remember, how to tell the story in such a way that is about speaking the truth, but it is also about speaking the truth in love. Continue reading

Shouting at the Bishop: Why agreeing to disagree is not a Christian response to the culture wars.

Chess bishop 1000.jpg

Chess bishop 1000.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few years ago I found myself protesting a certain national politician’s photo-op tour of a shelter for people who had been displaced to my city by hurricane Katrina.   This particular visit seemed a little more self-serving and crass than usual, so much so that it had folks from all-kinds of political persuasions hrumphing a bit.  I was certainly hrumphing. In fact, not that this was the first time, but I made have made a weeeee bit of a scene.   Well, actually I am quite sure I did as I received a pretty direct smack down from the Bishop in the very next diocese-wide newsletter.   Continue reading

How to Kill a Moment of Grace with Two Quarters and a Pack of Gum.

I am almost never disappointed by a ride on the bus in Austin.   To try to explain why is as hard as to try  to explain what is amazing at Burning Man or Burning Flipside. There are too many un-photographable moments and too many unrealistic stories you have to experience  to make you a believer.   But this particular story has bugged me for days, and keeps changing the way I see relationships.  Now to be fair, I was already cranky.  I spent one and a half hours each way on the bus for an errand that should have taken a half hour and took three.  Even so, this seemingly insignificant moment was heartbreaking.  It was kindness turned against itself.  It was a moment turned against grace.   And it was executed with two quarters and a pack of Big Red gum. Continue reading

Welcome. Let us Work Toward a Hard Goodbye. — Living well in the discovery and the loss of friendships.

“Well,” Fr. Francis said, “That is a relationship and relationships go through transitions.”   Of all of the things I have been mulling over in trying to make sense of a painful friendship, this one made the difference.  It was so simple, and apparently truthful because it made my gut ache. Continue reading

“Put a Sock-Puppet in It,” Ancient wisdom that it is better to make a sock puppet than to be one.

This is a guest post of mine on an otherwise lovley and insightful blog, “Knitting Benedict: The Rule…by hand.”  This is one of my favorite blogs to regular.   There is hardly a better way, than I can imgaine, to glean wisdom an ancient book of instruction than by taking small bites of it and chewing slowly while working with your hands on small stuff.  ”Work and pray,” says saint Benedict.

I am in the middle of forging a batch of sock puppets. As I do I cannot help but see the contrasts between the kinds of toys I am fashioning and a stern bit of advice from Benedict’s rule: don’t speak unless spoken to. Continue reading

Five Things I Will Never Give Up for Lent.

Lent is pulling into the station and Holy week is just about to begin. I think there are lessons and moments of clarity I have discovered this year just by slowing some things down and cutting some things out. Part of what I have learned about the careful dance between God’s grace and our participation is the difference between trying to make things happen and making room for God and others to do things in us. I offer these in hope you can learn from my mistakes.  These are some of my lenten attempts that, surprisingly, have proven to be enemies of grace. Continue reading

Rinse and Repeat:  How to find God …in the kitchen sink.

Dishes

Dishes (Photo credit: Martin Cathrae)

Until this year I have not been good at keeping New Year’s resolutions.   I think I always swear to things which are a little out of reach in order to exempt myself from success. The voices in my head say, “Let it slide. After all, no one keeps New Year’s resolutions anyway…I guess I’ll just keep these 10 extra pounds for now.”

To my great surprise this year has been different. In fact it has actually caused a shift in my spirituality that I have been longing for.  I think it is good news for all of us.  My resolution is this:  rinse and repeat.

Continue reading

Eat at Joe’s: A beautiful story of what happens when a band of misfits and atheists get their hands on the feast of St Joseph.

It is a habit in some parts of the world, to celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph with an elaborate feast, some theatrics, and a lot of charity.   Some dear friends of mine decided that last night would be a good night to throw our own feast with our friends from Burning Flipside. One doesn’t have to know the burner community very long before one realizes that there are a good portion of the community, thought not all of it, with total indifference or  heated antipathy toward religion and specifically the Christian Church.   Having heard some of their stories, I don’t blame them, not a bit.  So while most people didn’t really even notice or care about the religious significance of the event, I did, and one more piece of this particular outpatient was welcomed home. Continue reading

Then I Looked Up: The shocking revelation that plants and souls like to grow.

This year's first.

When I moved into this place its outside looked very much like my inside did.  The branches of the tall trees drooped to the ground as if to hide the house everyone knew was there.  The house kept dark. The yard looked very much like a bad case of male patterned baldness, only growing around the edges.   The backyard was in no better shape.  It was waist high in un-welcomed greenery and while I am not absolutely positive I think some of that greenery was, how shall I say, questionably legal leftovers from the previous tenants.  Toward the south was a fairly ominous twisting of dead limbs that once was a tree and now became a kind of outdoor dandruff, flaking down  little by little when provoked by even the smallest breeze.   Yeah.  My heart looked like this house.  Things were growing where they shouldn’t and things refused to grow where they were needed.  So when I started purging the untamed overgrowth, I became nervous I would never get the good stuff to live where I wanted it to. Continue reading