God and MoneyI

I can’t help but think as I read more and more about the financial “crisis” of Jesus’ teachings on money and the Kingdom….. There is something rich in that.

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oh yes!

This time tomorrow I will be in philly with A….. so excited!  I haven’t been there for almost a month, I miss A like hell, I miss Philly, surprisingly.  Can’t wait for the stories about what we do.

Now, as long as I do lots of homework on the train ride down….

For your reading pleasure

The Kingdom of Heaven

Francis Thompson

WORLD invisible, we view thee,

O world intangible, we touch thee,

O world unknowable, we know thee,

Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!

 

Does the fish soar to find the ocean,

The eagle plunge to find the air–

That ask of the stars in motion

If they have rumour of thee there? NOt where the wheeling systems darken,

And our benumbed conceiving soars!–

The drift of pinions, would we hearken,

Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.

 

THe angels keep their ancient places;–

Turn but a stone, and start a wing!

‘Tis ye, ’tis your estranged faces,

That miss the many-splendoured thing. But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)

Cry;–and upon thy so sore loss

Shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s ladder

Pitched betwixted Heaven and Charing Cross. 

 

Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,

Cry,–clinging Heaven by the hems;

And lo, Christ walking on the water

Not of Gennesareth, but Thames!  

anyone else see this?

SO i was in the gym this morning, running running running, and CNN was broadcasting Bush’s speech with the new prime minister of Pakistan, talking about how they were dialoging because America and Pakistan were interesting in spreading prosperity, presumably from us rich countries (aka USA) to them poor folks (aka pakistan).

all of this while the economy is going to heck in a handbasket.  Who needs the prosperity again?

Time to put on your thinking caps

Since Harvard is supposed to be a place where smart people go, they like to make sure that they have sufficiently schooled you in how to think like a smarty pants before you leave.  Thus enters the …DUN DUN DUN…. thesis.

So this year I am responsible for…. you guessed it… thinking something creative and interesting about a topic of my choosing as a way of proving that I know how to do that critical skill they call “reasoning”.  It has been something looming in the distance for two years now, and since it is here and I can’t avoid it any longer, I had to pick something.

 

But what to choose?  There is so much out there that is interesting and worthy of writing about.  Worse even, I often feel the temptation to feel grateful to know a little bit about a lot of things but not specialize enough in any one to feel confident writing about it in depth.  In other words, it feels like I am feeling out uncharted territory with a faulty compass while my colleagues blaze around with a tom tom. Maybe that is carrying it a way a bit, but you get the idea.

 

So anyways, after lots and lots of waffling around and thinking about it, I think I have finally settled on my topic.  And if you are willing, I would love to get feedback, ideas, questions, anything you can throw at me in regards to what I am thinking.  Because the best thesis, the best question, as we all know, isn’t a lecture but a discussion amongst colleagues, one that is generative and that honors the voices of all that come to the table.

So here it is– let me know what you think!

What I am interested in is the following question–how do we (the church) move beyond talking about hospitality to doing it?  What sort of doing will achieve the desired result?  What kind of intention is required?

How would I answer the question in a thesis?

How might a church respond practically (aka communally, liturgically) to the realities of the people within their community?  My answer will explore a practical theology of hospitality, specifically interested in transforming liturgy to engage the people as the work of the people rather than as remote from them.  The formation of this practical theology will explore the history of the reformed church, liberation theology, as well as the emergence of radical fringe groups centered around ideas and ideals of hospitality.

Laboring On

I am beginning to think I am being followed by the Laborers in the Vineyard. 

As you may or may not know, this was the NT passage selected for the exegetical exam on the Presbyterian Ords.  So as you can imagine I spent quite a bit of time with the sucker for about 5 days, learning quite a bit about it.  Since then the passage has continued to crop up in my midst; its in the books I read, the churches I visit, blogs and more.  In fact, I am beginning to think that perhaps the exams were more than providential in choosing that passage.  I mean, who knew that I was going to end up saturated in this particular verse?  Certainly not the committee that chose it.  but there it is (I guess you could make the case I just notice it because it was there…. a convincing argument but I doubt it.)

Anyways, today it cropped up in church.  I decided to visit Harvard Memorial Church this morning because Rev. Dr. Barbara Brown Taylor was slated to preach.  If you don’t know who this woman is, she is an adjunct at columbia theological seminary and butman professor at piedmont college.  We were required to read her book, “The Preaching Life,” in my introduction to ministry studies class at HDS.  I enjoyed her sermons quite a bit and was therefore inspired to forego my own church for this one.  

Leaving aside my experience of how Harvard does church, the texts for the day were…. Jonah ch. 4 and the Laborers.  Oh laborers.  It was a great sermon, to be sure.  It was also interesting to hear the laborers juxtaposed with Jonah’s whining in chapter four.  It was a way of looking at the passages and hearing the Jewishness of Matthew that I didn’t expect and certainly hadn’t thought of before.  The message was fairly predictable: God’s graciousness is hard to accept, scandalous in its seeming denial of justice and righteousness, etc etc.  the focus was on our anger and whether it is right to be angry when good things happen to bad people… which is a good question to ask, I think, and a question that has an easy answer unless it is happening to someone who isn’t you, or you feel wronged by God’s grace to another… which totally happens, I believe, more often than we would like to admit.

Anyways, she was great, her sermon threw me back a month to ords, and the music was beautiful (Harvard has an amazing choir that sings good ole’ hymns 15th-17th century style… pretty awesome to just sit and listen in the midst of it all.)

So yea…. still trying to sort out what the laborers might have to teach me next.  I am convinced that they refuse to go away, perhaps in part because I will always have a reason to see myself in them, and I guess I am okay with that.   And I don’t mind being reminded in good sermons, that’s for sure.

…..

In other news… lets see.  The NY Times is back to running pieces on presidential politics in balance with the economic crisis…. so i am back to feeding my habit.  Some really interesting opinion pieces in there today, like here and here and here.  I have to say it is hard to NOT read the myriad of polls and opinions out there… but it definitely is pretty awesome to realize the amount of info there is to be read every day.

eating words, drinking the spirit

God must read blogs….. or the minds of those who write them.  This day has turned out to be quite the opposite of lonely– as I wrote the previous post, many familiar and friendly faces emerged from my surrounding environment…. later that afternoon I found myself in the company of a combination of new and old faces at Professor Gomes’ tea party, hearing the passions and interests of others and drinking their enthusiasm in for the new year… as I journeyed to the bookstore to buy a text book, I ran into a new face and we made plans to visit the Harpoon Brewery on Saturday…and as I slogged up to the third floor of Andover to pick up a packet of readings, I ran into old friends who have since graduated along with current students, and later found myself enjoying conversation over a decent ale at the local university pub.  Life is good.