Addenda

What We're Reading

18 Mar

Housekeeping as Liturgy

Category: What We're Reading
By: Amy L. Graeser
Published: 03/18/07

One of the paradoxes of contemporary life is that homes are equipped with labor-saving appliances and yet people do not have time to cook and care for the home and its members as did past generations. Work that should be (with appliances) easy to complete is often pushed aside for either the sake of time or because it does not seem important. In a lecture given recently at the Center for Christian Study in Charlottesville, Virginia, professor Margaret Kim Peterson examines this paradox and establishes a theological framework explaining the importance and practice of keeping a home economy. . . .

One of the paradoxes of contemporary life is that homes are equipped with labor-saving appliances and yet people do not have time to cook and care for the home and its members as did past generations. Work that should be (with appliances) easy to complete is often pushed aside for either the sake of time or because it does not seem important. In a lecture given recently at the Center for Christian Study in Charlottesville, Virginia, professor Margaret Kim Peterson examines this paradox and establishes a theological framework explaining the importance and practice of keeping a home economy.

Peterson's lecture is the last in a four-part series titled "Focusing on the Family: Biblical, Sociological, and Ethical Views of Parental Authority." In her talk she discusses practicing hospitality in the home and what it means to think about the home as a sanctuary. She states that the work of the household is the most important work people could do. She also explains how to think about housekeeping in terms of litany and liturgy. Her talk—along with the others from the series—is available here. Her book on the topic is forthcoming in April 2007 from Jossey-Bass and is titled Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life.

Other MARS HILL AUDIO guests who have discussed hospitality, the economy of the home, the effects of the Industrial Revolution, and theology as a guide for living include: Christine Pohl, Miroslav Volf, Lendol Calder, Allan C. Carlson, and Dorothy Bass. Another guest who has written about the type and quality of kitchen appliances in homes is Christine Rosen; her article, "Are We Worthy of Our Kitchens?" is available online. Many thanks to Amy Gilbert, Lynne Heetderks, and Elizabeth Straight (all residents of Charlottesville) for bringing the lecture to our attention. [Posted March 2007, ALG]

25 Jan

Miroslav Volf, The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2006)

Category: What We're Reading
By: Amy L. Graeser
Published: 01/25/07

"Although the book may be hazardous to recent conventional 'wisdom' about the memory of wrongs, it is, I believe, good medicine for our cultural health and personal flourishing. The warning appropriate to this book isn't like the one on a life-endangering pack of cigarettes—it's like the one on a life-enhancing bottle of medicine apprising the taker of the temporary discomforts that accompany its curative effects." Miroslav Volf, The End of Memory . . .

"Although the book may be hazardous to recent conventional 'wisdom' about the memory of wrongs, it is, I believe, good medicine for our cultural health and personal flourishing. The warning appropriate to this book isn't like the one on a life-endangering pack of cigarettes—it's like the one on a life-enhancing bottle of medicine apprising the taker of the temporary discomforts that accompany its curative effects." Miroslav Volf, The End of Memory

Theologian Miroslav Volf's disclaimer about his new book, The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World, comes at the end of his detailed discussion of the necessity for and practice of remembering well the wrongs one has suffered. Volf, a guest on Volume 56 of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal and author of Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation, writes: "Freedom from guilt requires that the light of truth shine into the dark corners of our lives, whether in this life through uncoerced confession, private or public, or at the doorway to eternity during God's final judgment. The same is true in regard to the wounds caused by wrongdoing. We must name the troubling past truthfully—we must come to clarity about what happened, how we reacted to it, and how we are reacting to it now—to be freed from its destructive hold on our lives. Granted, truthful naming will not by itself heal memories of wrongs suffered; but without truthful naming, all measures we might undertake to heal such memories will remain incomplete" (p. 75). In The End of Memory, he engages the call to remember both public and private atrocities for the sake of the victims. While remembering is necessary for healing and justice, he notes that if memories are not redeemed they can actually increase suffering and injustice rather than alleviate them. Volf draws on various sources—including theologians and stories from within the Christian tradition, along with his experiences of interrogation as a Yugoslavian soldier—to establish a case for a right way of remembering. He also develops guidelines for how to remember and when to forget.

His challenging discussion is informed and accessible, peppered with stories and metaphors. The contents of the book comprise three parts and ten chapters, a postscript, afterword, acknowledgments section, and index. Part one is titled, "Remember!" and includes the chapters "Memory of Interrogations" and "Memory: Shield and Sword." Part two, "How Should We Remember?", includes the chapters "Speaking Truth, Practicing Grace"; "Wounded Self, Healed Memories"; "Frameworks of Memories"; and "Memory, the Exodus, and the Passion." Part three, "How Long Should We Remember?", includes the chapters "River of Memory, River of Forgetting"; "Defenders of Forgetting"; "Redemption: Harmonizing and Driving Out"; and "Rapt in Goodness." [Posted January 2007, ALG]

8 Jan

Thomas Hopko, Christian Faith and Same-Sex Attraction: Eastern Orthodox Reflections (Conciliar Press, 2006)

Category: What We're Reading
By: Amy L. Graeser
Published: 01/08/07

"I use the expression 'same-sex attraction' in my reflections because I find the term 'homosexuality,' except in its most general usage, not very helpful. It seems more accurate and useful to speak of persons with same-sex feelings and desires that have a wide variety of causes, forms, and expressions. I reflect on how these same-sex attractions and emotions relate to Christian faith as understood and experienced in Orthodox Christianity. And I especially try to reflect on how they relate to love, as revealed by God in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in the Church." Thomas Hopko, Christian Faith and Same-Sex Attraction: Eastern Orthodox Reflections . . .

The behavior of various churches towards clergy and others who are attracted to members of the same sex has garnered much attention in the public square particularly since the early 2000s. MARS HILL AUDIO responded to the attention through interviews with scholars and theologians who illustrate the issues at hand, along with their theological, social, and legal implications. The conversationalists are Robert Gagnon (volume 68), Stanton L. Jones (v-50), Christopher Wolfe (v-49), and Hadley Arkes (v-22). Adding a pastoral perspective to the conversation through printed word is Father Thomas Hopko, Dean Emeritus of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York. In Christian Faith and Same-Sex Attraction: Eastern Orthodox Reflections, Hopko offers a theologically rich but easily accessible essay in how to think faithfully about, and in how to live alongside of, people with same-sex attractions. Hopko's work, with its nugget-sized chapters, is anchored firmly in the Orthodox tradition but bears wisdom for all branches of the Church.

Before addressing the particularities of the experiences of those who have same-sex attractions, Hopko establishes the framework for his discussion. In chapter one, "Christian Faith and Same-Sex Attraction," he explains who Christ is. In chapter two, "Christ and the Church," he explains that Christ's body is the Church and what that means for the Church's members. In chapter three, "A Three-Dimensional Experience," he describes the threefold reality in which the Church lives, namely that God created the world and all therein as good; that it has been corrupted through human sin; and that the crucified and risen Christ redeems and sanctifies all that has been afflicted. Supported by that foundation, the following twenty-four chapters of the book explore the realities listed in their titles and how people with same-sex attractions engage, or could engage, them. The chapters note how such engagement, although it taxes these souls uniquely, is similar to that of all those who are seeking God and sanctification. Father Hopko makes applications in the chapters that are based on his theological principles; some readers may dispute the applications even while agreeing with the principles.

The chapters are titled: "Same-Sex Attraction"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Goodness"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Passion"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Sin"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Choice"; "Same-Sex Attraction and God's Will"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Sanctity"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Asceticism"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Scripture"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Blessed Mourning"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Joy"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Friendship"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Sexual Activity"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Sexual Knowing"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Children"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Civil Rights"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Death"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Theology"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Religion"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Church Community"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Sacraments"; "Same-Sex Attraction and Pastoral Care"; "Same-Sex Attraction and the Counseling Process"; and "Same-Sex Attraction and Christian Witness Today." [Posted January 2007, ALG]

17 Nov

"The Critical Distinction Between Science and Religion"

Category: What We're Reading
By: Amy L. Graeser
Published: 11/17/06

The relationship between science and religion is a popular topic on the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal; guests who have contributed to the conversation include Tim Morris and Don Petcher, and John Polkinghorne. Joel James Shuman (who discusses a book about Christians and medicine on Volume 81) has also contributed to the discussion, albeit not within the context of the Journal. . . .

The relationship between science and religion is a popular topic on the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal; guests who have contributed to the conversation include Tim Morris and Don Petcher, and John Polkinghorne. Joel James Shuman (who discusses a book about Christians and medicine on Volume 81) has also contributed to the discussion, albeit not within the context of the Journal. In 2002 Oxford University Press published Heal Thyself: Spirituality, Medicine, and the Distortion of Christianity, in which Shuman and his co-author, Keith G. Meador, study how religion is misrepresented when it is used to measure health benefits, how faith, approached as a servant of better health, is robbed of its true meaning. For a recent article-length recognition of this idea of faith being reduced to something other than what it is, see Richard P. Sloan's "The Critical Distinction Between Science and Religion" in the November 3 issue of The Chronicle Review. [Posted November 2006, ALG]

4 Oct

Holy Writ Exalted in Verse

Category: What We're Reading
By: Amy L. Graeser
Published: 10/04/06

Earlier this year, "New on our desks . . ." featured two short annotations of books about how to read the Bible. Peter Enns wrote about taking the Bible on its own terms in Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, and John J. O'Keefe and R. R. Reno studied how the Early Church Fathers understood Scripture in Sanctified Vision: An Introduction to Early Christian Interpretation of the Bible. . . .

Earlier this year, "New on our desks . . ." featured two short annotations of books about how to read the Bible. Peter Enns wrote about taking the Bible on its own terms in Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, and John J. O'Keefe and R. R. Reno studied how the Early Church Fathers understood Scripture in Sanctified Vision: An Introduction to Early Christian Interpretation of the Bible. Some of the realities presented in both works are ancient and have been attended to by souls throughout the ages, as is evident in two poems by Anglican priest and poet George Herbert (1593-1633). His two poems that wonder at the glory, intricacy, and power of scripture, titled The Holy Scriptures I and II, are provided below. Many thanks to Lois Westerlund for drawing our attention to the works. Lois recently presented a four-part lecture series called "'True Beauty Dwells on High': The Poetry of George Herbert" at the Center for Christian Study in Charlottesville, Virginia. [Posted October 2006, ALG]


The Holy Scriptures I

Oh Book! infinite sweetness! let my heart

Suck ev'ry letter, and a honey gain,

Precious for any grief in any part;

To clear the breast, to mollify all pain.

Thou art all health, health thriving, till it make

A full eternity: thou art a mass

Of strange delights, where we may wish and take.

Ladies, look here; this is the thankfull glass,

That mends the looker's eyes: this is the well

That washes what it shows. Who can endear

Thy praise too much? thou art heav'n's Lidger here,

Working against the states of death and hell.

Thou art joy's handsel: heav'n lies flat in thee,

Subject to ev'ry mounter's bended knee.


The Holy Scriptures II

Oh that I knew how all thy lights combine,

And the configuration of their glory!

Seeing not only how each verse doth shine,

But all the constellations of the story.

This verse marks that, and both do make a motion

Unto a third, that ten leaves off doth lie:

Then as dispersed herbs do watch a potion,

These three make up some Christian's destiny:

Such are thy secrets, which my life makes good,

And comments on thee: for in ev'ry thing

Thy words do find me out, and parallels bring,

And in another make me understood.

Stars are poor books, and oftentimes do miss:

This book of stars lights to eternal bliss.

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