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Archive for June, 2004

The First Years at Ozark Christian College

My five years at Ozark Christian College are a period in my life to which I look back with nostalgia, thanksgiving and joy. There were struggles, to be sure. At one point, as will be explained, I considered leaving. But even knowing what I do now, I would not hesitate to redo that period of my life. Indeed, it is precisely because of what I learned, and the mentoring I received, that I eventually came to where I am now, on the threshold of the Orthodox Church.
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Third Sunday After Pentecost

After the Holy Communion takes place, during the Divine Liturgy, the Priest and people pray:

PRIEST: O god, save thy people and bless thine inheritance.
CHOIR: We have seen the true light, we have received the heavenly Spirit; we have found the true faith, worshipping the undivided Trinity: for He hath saved us.

That response of the choir, and all the congregation, seems to us, in our day of divided Christendom, at best triumphalistic, and at worst terribly judgmental. One certainly doesn’t make comments like that among polite ecumenical company.

Who, after all, can really claim to have finally arrived at the truth? At best we can only claim to have made the best possible guess that we can. And to claim that one has the “true faith”! What about those who disagree? Do they not have the true faith?

But this liturgical hymn is the Faith of the Church, and has been sung for centuries.
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Senior Year Decisions

Through all these things a good solid foundation of faith had pretty much just been laid when the summer of 1985 came around. My parents, after several weeks’ separation, made another attempt to reunite. And they decided to try to get jobs back in our hometown area so that we could move back to our hometown. This would enable me to graduate with the class with whom I’d grown up. As much as I had hated to leave Augusta, I was ambivalent about returning. There was excitement to see my friends again, but I was not enthusiastic to leave my first real church home.
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A Definition of Manhood

The following is a reply I posted on Tripp’s blog, but I wanted a larger group to read and critique it. It is given in the context of a discussion on Ephesians 5.

The essence of manhood, is, personhood, which highlights the always already communal nature of what it means to be a man. Thus, men, being essentially persons, have an essential equality with women, whose essence is also personhood.

But manhood cannot simply be reduced to its mere essence, because manhood is also always already embodied. There is no such thing as manhood in the abstract, but only men. And here biology and personhood are united, two natures, as it were, in one person. Men, as persons, share an essence with women, but are also different and distinct, because as embodied, they have different traits and characteristics which arise from their biological embodiedness.

Thus, in conception, men play a biological role that is distinct from that of women, and therefore, they embody conception in a different way than do women. Similarly, the nuture that men give their children are distinct and different from women. But yet at the same time, their nurturing shares an essential similarity in that both men and women are always already in community, and so also the children they conceive and bear.

Now beyond the obvious biological traits are the more controversial ones. Clearly Scripture embodies distinctive roles in the family. There is an essentially similar submission, but because of the embodied personhood which men and women possess, their roles are distinctive.

Why I think my definition commends itself over yours is that it has obvious symmetry between the definitions for manhood and womanhood, it is clearly modelled on conciliar Trinitarianism, as well as on the Chalcedonian definition of Christ as the new Adam.

What think ye all?

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Gretchen Wilson sez it best in Redneck Woman (Note: Website midi starts playing when you access the site):

Well I ain’t never
Been the barbie doll type
No I can’t swig that sweet champagne
I’d rather drink beer all night
In a tavern or in a honky tonk
Or on a 4 wheel drive tailgate
I’ve got posters on my wall of Skynard, Kid and Strait
Some people look down on me
But I don’t give a rip
I’ll stand barefooted in my own front yard with a baby on my hip

Cause I’m a redneck woman
I ain’t no high class broad
I’m just a product of my raisin’
And I say “hey y’all” and “Yee Haw”
And I keep my Christmas lights on, on my front porch all year long
And I know all the words to every Charlie Daniels song
So here’s to all my sisters out there keepin’ it country
Let me get a big “Hell Yeah” from the redneck girls like me
Hell Yeah
Hell Yeah
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Starting from Cane Ridge II

Renewal of Faith

I was born at the time of the split in the Disciples, so my upbringing in the Stone-Campbell churches reflected the difficult feelings resultant from the split. My understanding of the Church was staunchly anti-denominational, and, to a degree, anti-intellectual, both reactions to theological liberalism and to the denominationalism that forced out most of the former Disciples churches.

As is often the case with young believers, my teen years proved a difficult time, especially concerning faith and morals. Although I would not have denied the central Christian doctrines I had been taught–such as the divinity of Christ and the Trinitarian understanding of God–in terms of moral behavior, I succumbed to those fairly typical temptations of teen years: lust, drunkenness, lying, and mistreatment of other “weaker” teens. Being a year-round sport letterman, I fit in with the “macho athletic” crowd, got into some fights, and picked on other kids. At the same time, being in the accelerated study program, I was held to higher expectations, and was fairly frequently in outright rebellion with my teachers and other authority figures. Although drugs made inroads among my peers, by my own parents’ involvement in my life, as well as the mercy of God, I was kept free from drug use. Too, I’d seen the effects drugs had had among my own family members, losing an uncle to the downward spiral drugs inflict, and so had a strong influence against using drugs.
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In a recent exchange over on Tripp’s blog regarding servanthood and fatherhood, there’s been an exploration regarding what Paul says in Ephesians 5 on the relationship between husbands and wives and what it means to submit. At one point, one respondent asked me “Where in the Gospels does it say that men and women are spiritually distinct?”

My post today is not about wives and husbands, but about this idea that the Gospels somehow trump the Epistles. There’s an understanding that somehow the Gospels reinforce modern enlightened understandings (on marriage, sexuality, etc.), whereas the Epistles, especially the Pauline epistles, contradict in some way, the Jesus of love, inclusivity and tolerance.
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The Second Sunday After Pentecost

We’re now into the Apostles’ Fast, the variable-length fasting period between the Monday after All Saints (for Orthodoxy, the Sunday after Pentecost) and the feast of the Apostles, Peter and Paul, on 29 June. Our men’s group at All Saints parish wanted to go out to a pub after our last meeting, which is today, but because of the fast, we did it last Sunday. While all the rest of America has been cranking up the grill and getting back into barbecue-form, the Orthodox take a few weeks off to discipline the body for the sake of the soul.

Pretty crazy, if you ask me.
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Following are excerpts from the text of President Bush’s tribute to Ronald Reagan

We lost Ronald Reagan only days ago but we have missed him for a long time. We have missed his kindly presence, that reassuring voice and the happy ending we had wished for him.

It has been 10 years since he said his own farewell, yet it is still very sad and hard to let him go. Ronald Reagan belongs to the ages now, but we preferred it when he belonged to us. . . .

Ronald Reagan believed that everything happens for a reason and that we should strive to know and do the will of God. He believed that the gentleman always does the kindest thing. He believed that people were basically good and had the right to be free. He believed that bigotry and prejudice were the worst things a person could be guilty of.

He believed in the golden rule and in the power of prayer. He believed that America was not just a place in the world, but the hope of the world. And he believed in taking a break now and then, because, as we said, there’s nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse. . . .

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Following are excerpts from the text of Margaret Thatcher’s eulogy:

Ronald Reagan’s life was rich not only in public achievement, but also in private happiness. Indeed, his public achievements were rooted in his private happiness. The great turning point of his life was his meeting and marriage with Nancy.

On that we have the plain testimony of a loving and grateful husband: `Nancy came along and saved my soul’. We share her grief today. But we also share her pride – and the grief and pride of Ronnie’s children.

For the final years of his life, Ronnie’s mind was clouded by illness. That cloud has now lifted. He is himself again – more himself than at any time on this earth. For we may be sure that the Big Fella Upstairs never forgets those who remember Him. And as the last journey of this faithful pilgrim took him beyond the sunset, and as heaven’s morning broke, I like to think – in the words of Bunyan – that `all the trumpets sounded on the other side’.

We here still move in twilight. But we have one beacon to guide us that Ronald Reagan never had. We have his example. Let us give thanks today for a life that achieved so much for all of God’s children.”

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