What is marriage?

    Saturday, May 23, 2009, 2:48 PM [General]

    At the moment, I am preparing to be married this coming December. It's an exciting but hectic time of my life, and I never seem to have enough time to get it all done, with a new career, a new city, and just trying to be myself. From my perspective, though, I try to think of it as a novitiate period.

     

    Because the way I see marriage is as a religious vocation, equivalent to any religious community. It's a monastic calling, in a manner of thinking.

     

    Consider the parallels. When entering into either, you take a vow of community and poverty (that is, you will own nothing and share everything) and of chastity (not "no sex" but "appropriate sex", or what we think of as fidelity). Once upon a time, we women also took a vow of obedience, which has now been replaced - thank God - by a mutual vow of honor.

     

    Consider also the habit the nuns wear (or used to, in any case). In some orders, the novitiates wear a gray habit and switch to black upon taking final vows. Just so, we wear a less-harsh engagement ring that marks us as set apart before putting on a plain wedding band that signifies our being off the market permenently.

     

    Being married really is a stepping out of many of the ways of world. We stop dating other people and end the promiscuity we may have enjoyed in our youths. We (all too often) enter a new social level, and may even stop seeing our single friends entirely. We no longer make all of our own decisions and live the carefree, individual lifestyle we had as singletons, because suddenly our actions impact another person just as much as they impact ourselves. The ways and attitudes of the larger world are no longer suitable to our new lives in community.

     

    I like this way of thinking. I like it because it feels true and weighty to me. It elevates marriage to something higher, and it reinforces the idea that marriage is a commitment, an absolute. You take the vow and nothing but the most extreme crisis imaginable can get you out of it. Even when you want to quit and walk away, you can't, because you made a commitment.

     

    And that's how I see it.

    3.2 (1 Ratings)

    Who was Jesus?

    Thursday, April 2, 2009, 4:43 PM [General]

    Jesus was a guy. He as born very poor in an oppressed, foreign-occupied land and culture. His parents' marital status is questionable (I can give you Biblical evidence of that one, if you like), but he had a career as a carpenter until he became so convinced by his situation that he had to go out and help people that he left his work behind. In my opinion, he was inspired by the plight of the Roman-oppressed folk around him. He went out and told about the right way to live - not the right way to believe, a methodology he condemned - and eventually he attracted the wrong kind of attention and was executed by the occupying forces. That's it.

     

    His followers were at first crushed, but soon plucked up their courage and went out to continue the work Jesus had begun. This is what "resurrection" means - the resussitation of his mission, not his body. He wasn't concerned with what happens when we die, but rather what happens while we live.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    What is God?

    Thursday, April 2, 2009, 4:41 PM [General]

    When I think about what and why I believe, I am often met with doubt. Many of my friends are aetheists, agnostics, and non-practicing Christians, and it's tough for me to identify the cause of my faith for them.

     

    I'm something of an unorthodox Christian. I read the Bible, I read books about the Bible, I go to church every Sunday and some weekdays, I wear a cross on a chain around my neck; yet I don't agree with almost any of the basic tenets of mainstream Christianity. I don't think the divinity or non-divinity, the virgin or bastard birth, or the resurrection or mortal death, of Jesus matters as much as what he came to tell us about. I don't think evolution and creation are at odds - in fact, I see science as a tool of God, ever opening up the world for us to know God better.

     

    What is God? Certainly not a corporeal being, an "old man with a beard" hanging out in the sky, waiting for the Hubble telescope to snap a pic. He doesn't answer our prayers in a direct, magical sense. He doesn't even have a prefered religion, or a favored people.

     

    If you ask me, God is much more like the Force, as in "Star Wars". God penetrates us, binds us, fills the entire world. He is everywhere and yet imperceptible by the senses. And while we're at it, Jesus is like Yoda: not the Force itself, but so deeply in tune with the Force that he might as well be. He gets it while the rest of us are just grasping at straws. He is at peace with God, and he can help others become that way, too.

     

    Yet let's not stretch the metaphor too far. As I said, God isn't magical. We can't influence him directly, as if praying the right way might achieve our desired goals. Jesus didn't lift sunken planes from the bog or do martial acrobatics that would get him a slot in the Cirque de Soleil. He just understood and was at peace.

     

    We can choose to study the ways of the Force. We can be good, powerful, peaceful Jedi. We can help other learn to be that, too. And we can influence our world in amazing ways. And I guess that that's the kind of Christian I am - the Jedi kind.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Question of Theodicy

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009, 11:00 AM [General]

    Now, I feel certain, is a time of great fear and worry for a lot of people. Jobs are lost every day, and many of us have been laid off. If we were already unemployed or underemployed when this mess began, the prospect of improving our situations is practically nil.

     

    I fall into this latter category, of folk who were underemployed when the economy broke. After college, I wasn't completely sure what I wanted to do when I grew up, so I sort of floated around at odd jobs. When I became ready for a reall "grown-up" job, the economy was in full tailspin, and the possibilities for such a career were sadly slim.

     

    A few good opportunities have come along, which I grapsed with both hands, but they are slippery fish and managed to wriggle away. Another very good plan just fell in on me this morning. Now I'm beginning to wonder if I will ever get on my own two feet.

     

    So here we are, with a question of theodicy. If God rewards the good and punishes the evil, why would he punish the good? Isn't that going against His very nature? I don't doubt His existence, or His goodness -- I just wish I could get a glimpse into His plan, just for a moment.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Welcome

    Monday, March 16, 2009, 1:25 PM [General]

    I'm an Episcopalian. I believe that the Kingdom of Heaven is here, now, and that we are the body of Christ. We are his hands, his mouth, his ears, and the time to use those faculties to serve God's people is right now. Let's get started.

    0 (0 Ratings)

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