Aw shucks, you flatter me . . .

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Go Ezekiel!

June 29th marks the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul and the appointed text from the Hebrew Scriptures is Ezekiel 34:11-16. I love Ezekiel! He makes you work hard, he gets you mad, and he doesn't give in or give up. He has a message to speak and by gosh and by golly, he's going to get the Word out!

Thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. . . . I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.
Do you know how amazing this is?! First of all sheep are flighty, particularly when they are scared (which is often). Second, they can see 270 degrees around without turning their head* so it is tricky to "sneak-up" on a sheep. Even if you think you are walking in their blind spot, their keen sense of smell will alert them to your presence (hmmm. . . to ponder, does God have an odor ). Moreover, when you approach a sheep, it's natural instinct is to walk away from you (logical enough).

So, let's see if we understand this correctly. God is not only going to gather all these sheep, but God's going to do this on a dark and dreary day. Then, once they are all together, God's going to make them lie down! Wow, I know people who can't do this with highly trainable dogs! And, what's more --- once God has gone to all this trouble, instead of being exhausted and cranky, God's going to take care of the sheep. They will get not just adequate care; no they are going to get the best pastureland available.

Uh-oh, and then there's that last part: "the fat and the strong I will destroy." On the one hand this could be a plug for Slim for Him and other trendy Christian diets; on the other hand, this could be Ezekiel at Ezekiel's best - the message remains strong: If you are fat and strong (compared to the other sheep) it is likely because you aren't playing by a fair set of rules. God's rule is about justice (and, mercy - again see what love the shepherd shows to the sheep) and, hmmmm, is Ezekiel suggesting our rule ought to be that way too? Just a thought.

1I wonder if Lewis Carroll noted the irony when he put these words in the mouth of the Sheep in Through The Looking-Glass: And What Alice Found There, "You may look in front of you, and on both sides, if you like . . . but you can't look all round you - unless you've got eyes at the back of your head." I suspect he did know this - he was a pretty smart cookie!


Dog days of summer. . .

Seems that the hot, humid days of summer have sapped me of my creative energies (or perhaps my research paper is taking all of my unique thoughts - that wouldn't be so bad). In any event, quizzes seem to be all I can muster and so, at Raisin's suggestion and, again, with nods to Beth, I offer myself:

You're Catch-22!

by Joseph Heller

Incredibly witty and funny, you have a taste for irony in all that you see. It seems that life has put you in perpetually untenable situations, and your sense of humor is all that gets you through them. These experiences have also made you an ardent pacifist, though you present your message with tongue sewn into cheek. You could coin a phrase that replaces the word "paradox" for millions of people.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

The description suits me. Now, I should just read the book - or maybe, reread (it seems I read this in a college American Literature class some years back. . . ).

Let's hope the creative juices return in time for my two summer preaching gigs: July 27th (9am) and August 14th (8am and 10am) - at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Park Ridge. Hope to see you there!


What kind of Christian are you?

Thanks to Beth and Ryan for this quiz!

You scored as Neo orthodox. You are neo-orthodox. You reject the human-centredness and scepticism of liberal theology, but neither do you go to the other extreme and make the Bible the central issue for faith. You believe that Christ is God's most important revelation to humanity, and the Trinity is hugely important in your theology. The Bible is also important because it points us to the revelation of Christ. You are influenced by Karl Barth and P T Forsyth.

Neo orthodox


Roman Catholic




Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Classical Liberal


Modern Liberal




Reformed Evangelical




What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

Given that I am clearly influenced by Barth and Forsyth, I guess I best get busy and read something they've written! (O.k., in fairness to me, I have read excerpts from Barth). I also wasn't surprised to see the Wesleyan influence so high on the scale given my years at Boston University's (United Methodist) School of Theology prior to my time at Seabury.

I'm looking forward to finishing my research on Rachel Speght and Amelia Lanyer as this accomplishment will mark the official beginning of my summer vacation!


Just Duh!

I have always considered myself to be something of a technology nerd. Mind you, I was more current when I was 20 something than I am today (Beth, Si, and AKMA clearly reveal the novice that I truly am). In any event, I was shocked - no appalled - yesterday when I discovered that my laptop has a DVD player (I assumed it was a CD-drive). This means that the independent study I have (not) been doing could have been moved forward while I've been at the library by listening to the required DVDs on my laptop. . . but no, I've been trying to fit them into my "at home" schedule which simply never worked. This also means that I am no longer the techno-geek I was once (or, equally likely, that I've simply become oblivious to all things observable)! The good news in all of this? --- I have a DVD player in my laptop! Huzzah!


The Evil One

I learned in Systematic Theology yesterday that our Presiding Bishop does not have any quelms about referencing The Evil One - and, in fact, did so in an NPR interview shortly after he was made Presiding Bishop (while I was unable to locate the NPR interview, I did find additional confirmation of its broadcast in this sermon). An MSN search for "Griswold" and "The Evil One" provided this interesting article (thereby reminding me of my preference for Google which first provided a sermon preached by Bishop Griswold on February 13, 2005 sermon at St. David's Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas just prior to the meeting of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council in which he uses the phrase "the evil one" (lower case decision made by the website editor or by Bishop Griswold? - my guess is the editor).

On the whole, it seems much more common "these days" (whatever that means - I'll let you set the parameters), to hear folks speak about the "powers and principalities" (though a search on Google tells me my assumption is wrong: 235,000 hits on "powers and principalities" vs. 553,000 hits on "evil one") rather than "The Evil One".

O.k., revised thought: why do I prefer "powers and principalities" rather than "The Evil One"?
Is this more palatable than "the evil one", "satan", or "the devil"? Am I embarrassed by the prospect of letting folks know that I think The Evil One does, in fact, exist? Or is it simply too much for my very rational (so I like to amuse ourselves believing) mind to accept belief not only in an "invisible" God, but in an "invisible" Devil too? Ooh. . . my favorite: or is it that a "what" rather than a "who" seems more controllable?


It's Over . . . Sort of

Folks keep asking, are you done with the term yet. Well, here's the answer: yes . . . and no. Yes, I am done with going to classes; but no, I am not done with the term. I opted to take a 2-week extension on my independent study on England in the Age of the Reformation so that I can give some undivided attention to my research topic --- poets of the Reformation.

Folks also keep asking, what are you doing this summer. Well, here's the answer: working 15-20 hours / week at the SWTS / GETS United Library and coordinating a half-day workshop called "Faith, Family, and Addiction" which will occur on Saturday, November 5th at St. Mary's in Park Ridge in conjunction with Advocate Medical Group's Addiction Medicine experts. In addition, I have a few trips planned - a couple of weekends to Altoona, Wisconsin (near Eau Claire) to visit my dad; 10 days in Massachusetts (the Berkshires) for a personal retreat; and, right before classes begin in late September, a trip to Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

So. . . are you done with the term yet? and what are you doing this summer?