Reading Week, Snow and Packing

Today I am grateful for reading week - a week toward the end of the term in which classes at Seabury are suspended so that students can get caught up on reading, researching, and writing. I spent most of the day packing for my mini-retreat to northern Wisconsin - specifically, Delta Lodge in Iron River (no phone, no television, no traffic). I have an entire box of books packed - and about 3 boxes of food (I clearly have my priorities in order!).

Andrea and her sister, Mary, are coming too. They will not be studying; they will be skiing. I am bringing my skis too, but don't anticipate much ski time. I'm writing a paper on the rhetoric of Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa - that's about as much detail as I have at the moment (hence, my thankfulness for reading week!). In any event, I will also be without internet connection - who knew that was even still possible! - so this will be my last post for a while. Happy Reading everyone!


Service and Submission

"Imprison me within Thine arms,
And strong shall be my hand."
- George Matheson

Dean Hall, in his sermon today, spoke of our desire to be forgiven and reconciled for what we have done and our simultaneous desire to keep on doing exactly what we've been doing that led to our seeking forgiveness in the first place. Folks, it's a trap! While recognition of our wrong-doing is a good first step, if we stop here, we have not changed. We need to submit our will to God - "thy will, not mine be done" and be willing then to seek out and do God's will. Yes, this means being open to change - changed thoughts, actions, changed selves.

On Ash Wednesday, I wasn't ready to go here, but today, in light of some readings for my Spirituality for Ministry class, I feel it is time. Service and submission have received some really bad press from our society - dare I say it? - our narcissistic society. We want a path to self-actualization that does not involve effort on our part. We want to be fine just as we are. Well, friends, it just ain't that easy. . . but imagine the freedom if we are willing to travel this path. . .


On Gratitude

Ash Wednesday may seem an odd day in which to write about gratitude and yet, many of our actions (or non-actions) seem to arise out of an unwillingness to embrace God's love for us. As Marjorie Thompson writes, "Our first act of hospitality to God is to receive what God gives. How distressing for God to offer grace so freely, only to have us refuse or ignore it!" She then goes on to list the many ways in which we close "the door on divine love" by allowing "ourselves to become distracted and preoccupied. . . [by] decide[ing] that we are unworthy. . . [by] convince[ing] ourselves that we must first prove worthy of receiving something. . . . . It takes genuine humility to receive God's gifts."1

Today, I am grateful for:

  1. My partner, family, and friends who are a continuous source of support and encouragement;
  2. The cool, damp, freshness of snowflakes as they land on my face;
  3. The privilege of being a full-time student;
  4. The writings of Gregory of Nazianzus who - sarcasm and all - fill me spiritually;
  5. Time off from classes; and
  6. The love of God no matter what I do, no matter what I think, and no matter who I think I am.

In Lent we often talk about abstaining from xyz (chocolate, caffeine, swearing, etc.). We frequently frame this as a "giving up" of something that we like. This Lent, I propose giving up something we don't like - an attachment that keeps us from knowing and experiencing God in our daily life. And so, I commit to abstaining from withholding my gratitude.

1 Marjorie J. Thompson, Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), 125.


The Unmoved Mover

As I recall from Dr. Loyal Rue's History of Western Philosophy classes at Luther College which I took in 1989 or 1990, Thomas Aquinas was credited with the "unmoved mover" proof for the existence of God. A quick search on Google demonstrates that the Catholic Encyclopedia deems him the author as well.

I just read Gregory of Nazianzus "Second Theological Oration - on God" in which he asks, "what is it that moves all things, and what moves that, and what is the force that moves that? And so on ad infinitum. . . . "1 Does anyone know why this is not referenced as an earlier source for this proof for God's existence?

Yes, I do know that Aquinas was in the West and Nazianzus in the East and yet, it seems that one might have at least mentioned him. . . Mind you, I am equally excited that I still remembered this little "fun fact" about Aquinas!!!

1In Christology of the Later Fathers, ed. Edward R. Hardy(Louisville: Westminster, 1954), 141.