Tuesday, May 27, 2008

three views...one?

Last week I finished reading Three Views on Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism from the Counterpoints: Exploring Theology series edited by Stan Gundry. It was highly informative and thought-provoking, and I feel the need to reflect on it here.

These five authors addressed the question, "Are Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism compatible?" Each wrote an essay to which the other four responded, and then he wrote a concluding argument in response to theirs. One of the authors was our own Bradley Nassif, and I must begin my evaluation by saying that Professor Nassif did a fantastic job of keeping the two views in balance and debating with his peers in the most loving fashion imaginable. Kudos to him!

I do not want to say that the others were entirely unfair, as I understand that a question of this nature is a nearly impossible attempt to combine a wide variety of factors to form one small and somewhat unclear conclusion. There were many pages full of praise for one another's work and I believe the word "irenic" was used no less than four times by one author describing another. A great many beautiful comments resulted from this discussion, giving some hope for unity. However, despite these small glimpses of agreement (or, at least, appreciation), there were a great many pages filled with confusion on both sides. This confusion generally resulted from a misunderstanding or misdefinition of an author's opinion, or a misstatement of doctrine or misreading of patristics. It was disheartening and a bit frustrating at times to read these authors as they argued over points that could have been cleared up with a helping of patience and a closer investigation of beliefs and doctrine.

I believe that there is a greater issue here that was only very lightly touched on in a few of the responses, and that is that the question at hand is not the appropriate question to be asking and answering. The question posed to these men was, "Are Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism compatible?" If we truly believe as I think we do that Christ intends the Church to be a loving body, caring for itself and the world, then the question that we must ask is, "HOW can Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism (and Catholicism, Emerging, Fundamentalism, etc.) begin to better understand and love one another in a Christ-like manner, above all of the doctrinal issues that separate us?" I do not want to diminish the importance of the doctrines and elements of church structure that are the beginning of many ecumenical arguments, but I do think that these elements might best be held lightly in one hand while the other works to establish healthy, holy connections with other branches of the Body. Your little finger does not say to the rest of the body, "Well guys, I think I'm going off into the world on my own until Christ returns--see you later!" For the good of the Church and for those outside looking in and seeing the turmoil resulting from our current diminished state of ecumenical dialogue, we absolutely must begin to regard our brothers and sisters with less skeptical eyes and with love.

It is likely that I will write more on this later.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

a small rant

Okay, so I'm sure this is a complete cliche on the blogosphere right now, but I MUST say something about gas prices. Four years ago, I was paying around two dollars a gallon and I thought that was a lot, but four dollars? Really? In a few months, no one is going to be able to afford to do anything, or buy groceries, or leave their houses. In case you haven't noticed, prices have gone up on everything because it costs more to deliver the product in the first place. So, no one can afford to drive to the grocery store, or buy groceries, or drive to work to make money to pay for gas to drive to work...

HOWEVER, despite all of this nonsense, good has come of the gas "crisis." At least for me. I now ride my bike everywhere possible (work, store, library) and have seen many others doing the same. I noticed a bunch of people riding their bikes to school with their kids--families that would normally drive their kids to school. And, when I ride my bike to work, I see all kinds of birds that I haven't seen in a long time like red-winged blackbirds, goldfinches, black-capped chickadees, and cardinals. Beautiful! I hope that in this time of low economics, our country's families are able to grow closer and develop comraderie as a result. It sounds naive, and it is, but hey, I'm still allowed to be a little optimistic!!


Saturday, May 24, 2008

hi there

My, my, it has been a while! It's amazing how busy one can become with work and travel and reading/writing. I just finished an eleven-hour shift at my low-paying grease job, and had hoped to work on my similarly low-paying but much more prestigious writing job, but I think I'm finished for the day. Looks like I'll be getting up early to work on that...but I love to get up early.

I miss my parish. I think it's funny that I now call it "my" parish, as I've only been there two months and it is just about the least likely place for me to go. The last I wrote about All Saints' was after my very first Sunday there, and I am still enthralled. Actually, here is the progression of adjectives: dumbfounded (in a good way), smitten, intensely curious, and romanced. It's a bit of a scary place I'm in since I've found myself thinking and even subconsciously making and defending arguments from an Eastern Orthodox perspective, or at least what I know of it. I miss worshipping in that way...I'll be back soon, I hope. Actually, I think I might be able to go next week if I work out my sleep schedule appropriately (I'm going to a wedding and returning to the city about two hours before the Liturgy...)

Anywho, here is the new plan. My priorities are now as follows (I'm so grateful to have enough to do to NEED priorities): working, writing, administrative duties for Threshold/VIP, reading, and crocheting. This list is obviously not exhaustive, but it consists only of my personal activities, not social engagements. If I were to include those, the list would be ridiculously long. You're probably already bored, so I'll stop now! =)

I shall read so that I can wind down a bit. Until we meet again!


Sunday, May 11, 2008

summer plans

It's summer now. I'm officially home in Plainfield and looking forward to a summer full of activity, since that seems to be the only way for me to live! =) Needless to say, I already have a bunch of plans:

1) Work. At what used to be a Quizno's. I've been there three years and this will be my fourth summer, so I'm a little tired of the space, but I definitely have some SWEET privileges there--I make my schedule, decide what I'll be paid, and basically run the store. Nice.

2) Ride my bike to work to save money. I may be going to Israel for a dig next summer, so I definitely need to start saving for that, but I'm also going to be visiting my friends in Chicago as much as possible. Also, after riding my bike a ton all summer, I'll be so cardiovascularly in shape you won't even be able to handle it!

3) Read. My friends and I are reading C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy and I'm STOKED!

4) Learn. I'm researching sexuality in light of our being in the image of God. Therefore, I shall be wrestling my way through Theology of the Body. Yes!

5) Learn Greek. I tried last summer to teach myself NT Greek but got stuck at grammar because I barely knew English grammar. With my newly-developed understanding of English grammar (thanks to Joel Willitts and the lovely Sentence Diagramming book for this) I think it will be at least somewhat simpler. If any of my biblical studies colleagues are reading this and want to give me a hand, it would be much appreciated...

6) Crochet. I still have a little bit of birthday money left and I want to use it to buy materials for prayer shawls. I think that crocheting prayer shawls is a very neat way to minister to people that we don't see every day, and I could think of a few folks who I could give them to. It should be fun!

That's about it for now. I need to finish unpacking...


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

end of semester update

Wow! It's amazing to look back at that list from two days ago to see what I've accomplished thus far in finals week! Here's what's left:

1) Three to four pages on "Auf dem Flusse" for Theory IV

2) Three finals

3) One meeting

4) One million coffee dates

5) Packing up the car

6) Singing for Baccalaureate and Commencement


Yes! I'm going to make it! And for the rest of you dragging yourselves through finals, Good Luck!


Saturday, May 3, 2008



It's almost over! Here's what stands between me and summer vacation:

1) Three more (out of 12) pages on same-sex marriage for Dialogue II

2) One more (out of 7-8) pages on Handel's "Ombra mai fu" for Baroque

3) Three to four pages on Schubert's "Auf dem Flusse" for Theory III

4) One (of two) performance of Carlisle Floyd's "Susannah"

5) Four more classes

6) Three finals (Baroque, Aural Skills III, and Lyric Diction II)

7) Three meetings

8) One million coffee dates

9) Packing up the car

10) Singing for Baccalaureate and Commencement


I shall be slowly crossing these things off the list as the week goes on. Keep up!