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Archive for July, 2004

I going to have to break this speech out soon:

I understand that you little guys start out with your woobies and you think they’re great… and they are, they are terrific. But pretty soon, a woobie isn’t enough. You’re out on the street trying to score an electric blanket, or maybe a quilt. And the next thing you know, you’re strung out on bedspreads Ken. That’s serious.

Micheal Keaton in Mr. Mom (1983)

Yes, Sofie has a “woobie.” Well, that’s not what we call it. But she has developed an attachment to a blanket. It’s a thin little blanket Anna’s aunt, Verna, had made for her older daughter, Anna’s cousin. It got passed down to the younger daughter, then found its way to Anna, when she was a baby. Anna’s mom kept it. And now, Anna’s blanket is Sofie’s.

So many things go better with Sofie’s blanket. Oh, say, bedtime, for instance. No blanket? Restless Sofie (even with bippy). Blanket? Sofie’s out in minutes. Need to take Sofie away from Anna after nursing in the morning to play? If the blanket’s in hand, nary a whimper. (In fact, this morning, Sofie held on to the blanket the whole time she was up–only a short forty-five minutes before she went back to bed.)

Sofie’s already got a certain technique for holding the blanket. One corner bunched up in her left fist (though she does most things right-handed now), if she’s sitting on a lap or sleeping. If she’s on the floor, it’s one corner in one hand, the corner on the opposite diagonal in the other, wrapped around her shoulders like a shawl. (How she figures these things out, I have no idea.)

This blanket attachment is a new and very sudden thing. One night Anna lay it over Sofie when she put her to bed. Next thing you know, Sofie’s hooked on woobie. I try to tell myself, it’s only a recreational thing. She’s not dealing or anything. But I know better. Nine times out of ten, woobie is only a gateway: the bigger stuff is on its way.

Maybe they’ll give her some colorful key chains in woobie rehab.

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A Change of Foundational Thinking

So, from the fall of 1989 through the end of my schooling at Ozark, significant changes were occurring, changes which involved a major restructuring of my worldview as well as major changes in my theological understanding. These changes were mutually reinforcing of one another. A change in theology would entail a revision of my worldview, and vice versa. In time, I moved from a naive modernism, to something of a chosen anti-modernism, to eventual postmodernist understandings, and beyond postmodernism to Tradition and orthodoxy.
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Starting from Cane Ridge VI

The Discovery of Liturgy and the Longing for the Historic Church

I returned to campus in January 1990, intent on finishing my degree, but becoming more conflicted about my developing worldview understandings and the tenor of the intellectual climate at school. One of the classes I enrolled in was Professor J K Jones’ “Practical Ministry” class. As the name may lead one to believe, it was very much about the practical aspects of ministry: conducting weddings and funerals, administering baptisms, pastoral calling, taxes, personal finances, sermon preparation, time management, and, most important of all, the minister’s personal worship discipline. To facilitate that last, we were required to purchase Bob Benson’s and Michael W. Benson’s, Disciplines for the Inner Life, a devotional book that is very much modelled on the daily office. There was a weekly theme, with lectionary and readings. A structure including an invocation, a psalm and a benediction. It was liturgy—though I didn’t then know it.
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The Union of Faith and Reason in the Heart

I have previously written about how it is that faith and reason have become divorced from one another in human understanding, such that it is generally agreed among thinkers today that the only real knowledge that counts for anything is the knowledge of the mind, of reason. But that is demonstrably false. I have spoken about how faith is, indeed, productive of knowledge, though of a different sort than reason, and how there need be no divorce between the knowledge produced by faith and that produced by reason, but rather how the knowledge produced by each can complement and reinforce one another. I wish now to address how it is that faith and reason can be united in the heart, and on what grounds this union takes place.

But I must confess at the beginning: my words will be more from theoretical understanding than from personal experience. For I am only beginning to have some insight into this union, and have not yet begun to faithfully practice it. Further, wherever I am in error, according to the wisdom of the Church and her Scriptures, then I need correction. It is my intent to summarize what I understand the Church to teach, not to assert my own theory.
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Ecclesiola

Anna and Sofie have headed eastward to visit her mother who’s recently relocated to Michigan. (A quick phone call just now confirmed the safe arrival, and Sofie’s relatively good handling of the trip from her car seat in the back seat.)

Although I don’t like it when my women leave town (even for such good and worthy trips as visiting family), still, since I’m pulling fourteen hour days this week (my final stint), it’s a good time for them to be gone.

This morning, while Sofie nursed and went back to sleep with Anna, I prayed the morning office. (I have many more serious and critical intercessions to make of late.) I prayed for their safe travel. I would have gone down to the street and prayed over the car, but couldn’t find an appropriate prayer for a vehicle. But as we all left the house together this morning (me to work, they to family), we gathered for a moment to pray. Anna held Sofie in her arms. I blessed us with a small hand cross a missionary gave me at Vespers Saturday evening, then prayed extermporaneously for their safe travel, for an angel companion to guide and guard them, and for a joyous return. I then venerated the cross, gave it so Sofie to kiss (who has learned to kiss and whom Anna and I are both teaching to kiss the icons), and then Anna, too, kissed the cross.

A great way to start the work day and to head off on a trip. The Lord be praised.

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Kissing is such a wonderful thing. (Thank you, Captian Obvious.) I thoroughly enjoy kissing my wife. I love kissing my daughter. And in the last four years since I discovered Orthodoxy, I have found kissing icons, crosses and the Gospel (among other holy things) to be a worthy and natural way to worship God.

I was always a bit circumspect to venerate the icons at home whenever Anna was able to observe me saying my prayers. God certainly knew that I worshipped him through the honor I gave his saints. Anna may well have been pretty weirded out by it. But then she started going to worship with me. I couldn’t not venerate the icons at Liturgy. So I did. And I guess she just got used to it. (She did ask me about it once. I assume my answer satisfied her.)

Well, in the last few weeks, Sofie has learned to kiss (including blowing kisses, which I always find joyous!). I just took it as natural that we should teach Sofie to kiss the icons. So, while we were waiting in line during Communion to receive Father’s blessing, Sofie and I were near the icons. I bent down and kissed the icon of Christ. I looked at Sofie and said, “Kiss?” I then held her so that she could kiss the icon. She was a bit hesitant, not knowing for sure what she was to do. I kissed the icon again, and said, again, “Kiss?” She placed her hands on either side of Christ’s face, and lowered herself to kiss the icon with a resounding smack.

Now, I didn’t really discuss this with Anna. It’s just something we do at Church. So it was neat this past Sunday to see Anna taking Sofie up to the icons, to bend down and kiss them herself, and say to Sofie, “Kiss?” Upon which, Sofie being now practiced, our little girl did.

Yep. This is how we learn the Faith.

God make us worthy parents. May Sofie soon come to the laver of regeneration.

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The Eighth Sunday After Pentecost

From today’s Gospel (Matthew 14:18-21):

And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

This text not only drives home the sacramental nature of the Christian life, it mercilessly reveals how we Americans have made of the economy an idol. And idols are meant to be toppled.
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An Individual Renaissance

The academic year that began in August of 1989 did not give any obvious portents of what was to come. Earlier that summer my girlfriend and I had broken up and I ended the student youth ministry I had served for a couple of years. During the summer I had worked on the grounds crew at the local refinery and done some supply preaching to area churches. Toward the end of the summer I sold my first car for a new Ford Tempo. When the school year began, I ended up changing my major to the more solid five-year theology degree (since I already had most of the classes I needed for it). I dated a little bit at the beginning of the semester. And I worked at odd jobs that I could pick up around town.

But two things did happen in the first month that started the process of change that was coming. I saw the movie Dead Poets Society, and was invited to an informal study group led by a local minister and adjunct professor at the college.
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When I got home Tuesday night from teaching class, Anna and Sofie were soon pulling up in the car from their day-long adventures up north and then over west to the burbs to see my cousin and her new baby, who were in the area for a visit. It had been a long day, for me, for them. I was hot and sweaty from the humidity we’ve had. (Though nothing compared to when we were in Baton Rouge.) I haven’t been getting a lot of important things done, being at work all day, then at class in the evening. I’ve been short on sleep and sick these past two weekends. I’m a wimp. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.

But when I finished bringing the stuff up from the car, Anna and Sofie were sitting in the chair in the front room. And when I said “Howdy” to my little girl, her bright blue eyes lit up, a smile went across her whole body (because when babies smile, they use their whole bodies), and she giggled. She pointed at me in her quirky, thumb-and-forefinger, hand-at-the-tilt way she has. She startled telling me about her day in the babble-tongue that is her language. She paused, waiting for me to answer. I said, “Is that right?” And she babbled some more.

Yep. This is the good stuff.

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The Ends of Abortion

If you have the stomach for it, read this article from the NY Times, When One Is Enough. (Link requires free registration.)

My boyfriend, Peter, and I have been together three years. I’m old enough to presume that I wasn’t going to have an easy time becoming pregnant. I was tired of being on the pill, because it made me moody. Before I went off it, Peter and I talked about what would happen if I became pregnant, and we both agreed that we would have the child.

But the point of legalized abortion, is that one can always change one’s mind.
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