I have spent much of January engaged in the ways of the world or organizing my photos.  It has left me with little time to blog, but with no shortage of opinion….as if that surprises anyone.  To catch up, I will weigh in on a little of what I’ve been thinking and reading.   Granted the reading has been online and all of this is only my opinion of such things, so take it all with a grain of salt if you give it any consideration whatsoever.  And if you are someone who just stumbles across this and have no interest in one more person’s half baked ideas, I suppose you can discontinue reading.  Let’s begin….

  1. Romance is the best place to understand community:  Okay this has more to do with life than any reading I’ve done and it has nothing at all to do with romance.  Let’s just say that when it comes to the likes of congregations, workplaces, and neighborhood affairs, the passionate romance is a good training ground for all other communities.  That we have to live in community and that such a thing always runs hot and cold and involves changing one’s mind a dozen times a day….I think I made my point….larger communities are no different than any other interpersonal relationship.
  2. Quoting Anais Nin is not always good practice:  Years after it was published, I wanted to see some of the hubbub about The Purpose Driven Life.  Granted I have never read this book as it skews too evangelical for my taste, but I know it stirred a little controversy amongst religious conservatives.  I was surprised that much of it surrounded quoting Nin.  Granted if I were a Pastor I would never quote Nin in a sermon, but surely a book is another matter.  Obviously that is not the case with a lot of folks.
  3. “Tree of Life” is a good place to find out about confirmation bias:  I have decided it is time to watch “Badlands” and “Days of Heaven,”  two movies by Terrence Malik that deal with fierce landscapes with their  biblical imagery and the route that peculiar couples take getting through those.  In getting ready to do this I reread a lot of reviews of “Tree of Life.”   This is one of those love or hate movies.  I loved it, best film recommendation I ever got.  It is also a movie very spiritual in nature and has left many a folk trying to figure out what that spirituality is.  Depending on who sees the movie and whether they love or hate it, confirmation bias kicks in to make one’s spirituality affirmed by this movie or becomes the place to prove that your “correct” spirituality is not Malik’s “incorrect.”  Some of what I’ve read….”most Catholic movie,”  “mainline nonsense,”  “spiritual but not religious,” and “agnosticism wins out.”     My only take here is if you have not seen this move, make sure you do.
  4. Love in the age of social media:  A lot of my conversations have involved my so-called distrust of social media when it comes to the formation of relationships.  To put the record straight, I take no issue with such things, though I do think that relationships that never get to the point of hard work, dialogue, and a respect of differences are not really relationships.  Propinquity doesn’t count for everything, but it is still important.
  5. What makes for a marriage:  Society is wrestling mightily with this question.  History shows us marriage has never been simple to understand.  Just look up the years 1215 and 1563 to get a perspective of how recent our understanding of the thing really is. I am familiar with the language of “the relational and the reproductive.”  If both are necessary components for marriage, then one has to ask themselves how many marriages are “true” or at least “fulfilled.”  Did the likes of Joseph Campbell and Jan Erdman with their anam cara approach to life have a “fulfilled” marriage and do relationships that never transform from friendship to family, even if a ring is present, make for a proper marriage?  Loaded questions, no easy answers.
  6. NCAA sanctions are a “good” thing:  I love OSU football.  I hated the sanctions, but thanks to the messed up BCS system, OSU did not find itself where it did not belong this year.    Can’t we just go back to the old way of doing things when tradition and bowl games meant something.
  7. The most quiet religion story of 2012:  Are the Lutherans next?  When the possibility of a Lutheran rite within the Catholic Church finally reached the Vatican late last year, the possibility was not immediately dismissed, though it was hard to see how serious it could be taken.  Unlike Anglicanism, Lutheranism has a theological patrimony to deal with. How far that can deviate from the bulk of the Catholic Church made the topic a no-go for a long time.  There are now however Evangelical Catholics that recognize the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church and seven sacraments.  Add to this Catholic scholarship is addressing how much of the Augsburg Confession could be retained by anyone coming into the Church and the issue is suddenly gaining more credence.  Last week, the Lutheran World Federation weighed in on it and they were about as happy as the Anglican Communion when they dealt with the issue.  Those are the facts of the matter.  As to the opinion part of this, I can only ask why?    Outside of theology, there is nothing in Lutheran culture that needs to be excluded in a Catholic parish.  Granted you won’t kneel on receiving the sacrament or hear Bach blared from an organ every Sunday, but I’m sure parishes can make accommodations to have kids parade  around with stars and candles every December.
  8. The Annoyance of Culture Christianity:  See the above and ask yourself how much of this is about the loss of Gospel-centric practice in the magisterial Reformation churches.  Then look at those who have come into the mainline because Catholicism did not accommodate their progressive understandings.  I do not chastise either of these parties, but it makes me wonder what role theology plays anymore in what has become the spiritual marketplace.  Actually I know annoyed is a strong word and I have just described a couple of the very few people who will ever read this far into this post, but it is still a question I ask myself, even though I no longer question anyone’s sincerity about conversion.  That is one of the places “where I have changed my mind.”
  9. Can’t it be Easter already:  Finally, what I think about the most…the cold dead winter.  I’m at a department meeting yesterday and one of the Instructors mentions his class studied the Shackleton expedition.  I could almost shudder as I thought of leaving work and going into the cold, though it wasn’t very cold.  There is something about fierce landscapes that I love, but the cold is my ultimate nemesis.  It is a good exterior to put on oneself to hide true feeling and passion, but it is not anything I desire in the way of weather.  I know I make for a very poor Nordic person in this regard, but it is just the way I am.   In the landscape of the arctic and the tundra, one can imagine oneself relying on their wits and even being able to touch the sky. Such places I have visited and the feeling produced is intense, but as for a dwelling place, I will take the peace of the valley with its Garden and its Tree.

Image:  When you publish a post that is all over the map, it is hard to find a picture in the public domain that works for you. If you know about Joseph and Jean Erdman-Campbell , you will understand why this comes close.