Friday, September 30, 2005

St. Jerome

I see on LutheranChik's Festivals and Commemorations sidebar that today is the feast of St. Jerome.

For a long time I've imagined St. Jerome as a very gruff man -- obviously very learned but more than a bit cold. So much of what I've read about him has to do with him feuding with various other churchmen of his time. And then you have the influence of Luther on my opinion of Jerome. Luther would occaisionally cite Jerome's opinion in support of a point he was making, but hardly ever without also noting what a worthless chowderhead Jerome was in general.

But as fate would have it, this week I was reading Mario Masini's book Lectio Divina wherein he quotes frequently from St. Jerome's Letter to Eustochium. What a jewel this is! It has me reconsidering what kind of man Jerome might have been.

Jerome wrote this letter to Eustochium, whom Masini describes as the first Roman noble woman to take a vow of consecrated virginity, to encourage her in her newly chosen way of life. One of the remarkable things about the letter is the flourish with which he employs the Song of Solomon in describing the monastic life. Here are two of the passage which Masini quotes:
Be then like Mary; prefer the food of the soul to that of the body. Leave it to your sisters to run to and fro and to seek how they may fully welcome Christ. But do you, having once for all cast away the burden of the world, sit at the Lord's feet and say: "I have found him whom my soul loveth; I will hold him, I will not let him go." (Song 3:4) And He will answer: "My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her." (Song 6:9)

Do you pray? You speak to the Bridegroom. Do you read? He speaks to you. When sleep overtakes you He will come behind and put His hand through the hole of the door, and your heart shall be moved for Him; and you will awake and rise up and say: "I am sick of love." (Song 5:8) Then He will reply: "A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed." (Song 4:12)
Is this really the same Jerome noted for his constant bickering? His friends must have been baffled by the side of him his rivals saw.

A few other blogs (none of which I have seen before today and therefore cannot vouch for) which are celebrating St. Jerome's feast:

AMU Life
Liberty, Order and Tradition
The Church Militant
Paleo Judaica

And a blog which I have seen before:

Aardvark Alley

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Great, now I've got two dead blogs....

September has been largely a lost month for my blog as I've been extra busy at work and been preparing an adult Sunday school class based on For the Life of the World in my spare time. My non-blogging productivity during this time doesn't bode well for the future of my output here, but I intend to pick it back up, and it'll probably suck me in full throttle again.

But the time away has me rethinking what I want my blog to be. I'm not entirely satisfied with the overall direction it's taken. I'm not the sort to post on the details of my daily life in the manner of a public diary. I've strayed into the political realm from time to time, but the path from there to whiny, ill-informed temper tantrum is just too short. At other times, this has been an extended book report (I've still got more to say about Rabbi Kushner's book). That's fairly useful for me in developing my understanding of what I've read and may be something I continue. I'd like to get more into exploring the Bible and sharing what it says to me.

We'll see. I can't promise it will be more interesting than the silence of the past month, but I'll probably do something.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Seeing Poverty

This week's Speaking of Faith program is very good. It's called Seeing Poverty After Katrina (click the link to read more and listen).

It talks about how government programs aimed at helping with racism and poverty have led to a situation where the poor are hidden in neighborhoods the rest of us never see. Ex-FEMA director Michael Brown is quoted as saying of the hurricane relief effort, "We're seeing people we didn't know existed." And, of course, that's the problem more generally. We don't help the poor because we don't know them.

This may be insensitive...

...but I just had to share it.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Friday Beer Blogging

OK, I haven't had this one yet, but I'm making the pilgrimage north today to see my beloved Baltimore Orioles take on the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field, and you can count on me having at least one Curve Ball Ale -- maybe more since I'm taking the bus back to my hotel. Look for it to be enjoyed with hot dogs.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Blame. Why does it always have to be blame?

In today's SoJo Mail, Wes Granberg-Michaelson blames the devastation of Hurricane Katrina on our misuse of the environment and the gap between rich and poor.

In the statement, Granberg-Michaelson says, "When I see the devastating effects of Katrina, I don't simply regard these as an inexplicable 'act of God.' I also focus on the sins of humanity. We've disobeyed God's clear biblical instructions to preserve the integrity of God's good creation, and to overcome the scourge of poverty. In the aftermath of Katrina, we desperately need not only compassion, but also repentance."

Is this really any better than "Repent America" blaming the disaster on the wickedness of New Orleans? Yes, the poor and the sick were ignored by upper and middle classes that hopped in their nice new cars and said, "you should all leave too" as they drove away. But is this really the best response right now? One of the chief complaints I hear about Sojourners is that they make everything an excuse to harp about social justice. I feel that here. If your only tool is a hammer....

Earlier in the week, I received an e-mail "from Howard Dean" which said, in part, "The federal response over these crucial first days has been totally unacceptable. There will be a time for a full accounting of the preventable part of this disaster, and those responsible will be held accountable. It will be soon." This e-mail at least claimed to be primarily about passing on information about what I could do (primarily sign up at to host hurricane survivors), but being an e-mail from, it just couldn't pass on making a jab at the Republicans.

This kind of reaction make me sad. It hurts. It's not just that they are the manifestation of the darker side of humanity. It's that it's a manifestation of this darker side being so deeply ingrained in us that we think we should take it out and show it to people -- as if it will help.

I remember the morning of the 9-11 attacks, one of the broadcasters, I think it was Peter Jennings, talking in strong terms about how the responsible parties would receive swift justice. And I was thinking, "For God's sake man, can't we mourn a while before we start taking revenge?" And then over the next days and weeks and months it just got worse until it seemed like our whole country had become one gigantic angry mob.

Nine-11 was an easy case. We had a nice, well-defined enemy to hate. Not so with Katrina, but that doesn't stop us from looking.

Has anyone seen a "theologian of the cross" type response to this?


It occurred to me this morning, and I wouldn't be surprised if someone else has commented on this previously, that Martin Luther was the world's first blogger. It has been estimated that during his life Luther was the author of anywhere between a quarter and half of all printed material in Europe, and they say the printers began printing the first pages of his essays before he had even written the last pages. Straight from his mind to the printed page with no editing, rethinking or revising -- is this not the essence of blogging?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Not Curvatus in Se Enough

The traditional Lutheran diagnosis of the human condition is that we are "curvatus in se" -- turned in on ourselves. I've always thought this was a very good description, but it occurred to me today that in a peculiar way some Christians are not curvatus in se enough. Specifically, their ability to detect sin seems to utterly lack this curvature.

I saw on LutheranChik's blog today a link to a group of "Christians" who are blaming the devastation of Hurricane Katrina on the sin of the victims. The director of the organization quoted himself (I'm guessing) as saying, "Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city." I'm speechless. Well, almost -- really I just don't want to make public statements of the nature this provokes me to.

The group's website claims that they desire "to adhere entirely to the teachings of the Bible." I must have missed that part in the Bible that teaches us to say, "See, I told you God didn't like you" to people who have just experienced devastating loss. Aside from what bad theology it involves, this is just such an unimaginable lack of compassion that it must be literally painful. It's definitely painful to read, but I mean it must be painful to the person who wrote this filth. How can he not see it?

But this is just one example of a big, ugly wart on the public face of Christianity. I'm not going to accuse individual Christians, conservative or otherwise, of being generally guilty of this sort of thing -- to do so would be a denial of the Holy Spirit -- but somehow this self-righteousness manages to bubble to the surface. And everyone, Christian or otherwise, sees it and says, "Eeewwwww!"

Is it possible to be so curvatus in se that you can't see yourself?