Bramantino, “The Risen Christ” (1490). My friend Marly Youmans and I were talking about this on Twitter last night, and I can’t improve on her description: “A beautiful quality of estrangement from the ordinary. Marmoreal—almost architectural! But a stranger substance. Moon-metal!”
"This magnificent ritual [of the Great Vigil of Easter], packed with deep and ancient symbols, gathers into one celebration the essence of Christianity…. The fullness of the faith is found in this great liturgy…"
Two hours to go for me. Can’t wait.
(photo via Beth Maynard)
Rachel Herrmann, “My First Year of Teaching.” This essay is brimming with useful ideas for me, a second-year teacher.
By far the most significant surprise has been the realization that teaching is not like writing a dissertation. That statement may sound idiotic to anyone who’s been teaching for a long time, but although I felt somewhat prepared to teach, I hadn’t considered the extent to which I wouldn’t draw upon my research for my teaching.
I don’t neglect exciting quotes or ideas from my research; I use them in class frequently. But students want to hear material presented in a way that is simply different from scholarly writing. Students want statistics that give them a firmer sense of what was happening in the past, or a basic map, or a chronology of events. A representative quote, even if amusing, doesn’t always suffice. They’re also not always comfortable with historians’ tendencies to equivocate. When I offer them both sides of an argument I try to be explicit about the fact that I’m doing so, and I try to point out the ways in which they could use both aspects of my argument if they were writing an essay.
Martin Luther famously distinguished between a “theology of glory” and a “theology of the cross.” In the former you find yourself substituting a crown of thorns and a body of nailed flesh for a more palatable scene. But with a “theologia crucis,” you can call a spade a spade. You can look grief and loss in the face and identify them for what they are. There’s room — maybe even a literal room that you set aside in a basement — for rage and sobbing and protest and fear and horror. The great English-American poet W. H. Auden once heard a lecture in which, as Edward Mendelson recounts the scene, the speaker said that, “Jesus and Buddha were the same in effect: they were both attacked by spears, but in the Buddha’s case, the spears turned into flowers.” Auden bristled at this, shouting from the back of the lecture hall, “ON GOOD FRIDAY THE SPEARS WERE REAL.” If those spears were real, we can admit the spears we’ve felt are real, too. There’s no need to pretend we’re smelling roses when all we feel is metal piercing skin. Good Friday enables us to name the pain and face it.Duke Divinity Call & Response Blog | Faith & Leadership | Wesley Hill: Anger room (via invisibleforeigner)
Michael Brendan Dougherty
As we move in to Palm Sunday, the ironies become crushing. We come into God’s house as religious people, as pious people, and together with our priests we spend our Holy Week acting exactly as priests and pious people have: as cowards and sadists, who would fail to recognize God even when He stands in front of us. We drag Him and mock Him like Lynddie England leading a prisoner through Abu Ghraib. Our Holy Week liturgies are just like that sickening selfie: we dare to throw incense before God’s altar, and the smoke rises with the same humiliating insouciance as her lit cigarette.
We gather at the edge of sanctuary, which is the symbol of the heavenly Holy of Holies, and re-enact the part of the vicious mob in Jerusalem who called for the death of God for the sake of God’s name. We become the Roman torturers who mocked the King of the universe with a crown of thorns. We play the roles of the screaming and vain religious men, who work themselves into a fury. Our pastor intones the hysteria of the chief priest who condemned God Himself as a blasphemer. We once more present to God (and to ourselves) the bitter betrayals, laziness, and weakness of the Apostles after whom our priests are modeled — and who too often imitate their bad example.
And after all this, our own Via Dolorosa, we are finally prepared to hear the words, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.”
He did not merely ask men to turn the other cheek when smitten on the one, to go the second mile when compelled to go one, to give the cloak also when sued at the law and the coat was taken away, to love our enemies and to bless them; he himself did that very thing. The servants struck him on one cheek, he turned the other and the soldiers struck him on that; they compelled him to go with them one mile, from Gethsemane to the judgment hall, he went with them two, even to Calvary. They took away his coat at the judgement hall and he gave them his seamless robe at the cross; and in the agony of the cruel torture of the cross he prayed for his enemies, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”E. Stanley Jones
In my view, a genuine pro-life political position takes its commitment to human life seriously, and is therefore willing to commit to supporting the lives of mothers and children rather than simply their births. I do not believe harsh punishment is the way to address the challenges facing mothers and infants that tragically conclude, at times, in abortion. Yet penalty seems to be the one way those operating under the “pro-life” banner feel comfortable expressing their commitment to life, which is why I find the usual rightwing anti-abortion approach underwhelming and incomplete. Compassion isn’t cheap, and it’s defined by its longevity: If we are to take seriously a cultural commitment to life, which I believe we should, then we’ll conduct ourselves with mercy and sensitivity to the difficulties that bring women to choose abortion, and will commit ourselves to concrete political change aimed at reducing those struggles.Elizabeth Stoker (via ayjay)
This is my commonplace book and sometime-journal.
I blog at SpiritualFriendship.org.
My book is here: Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.
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