Blogging, Blessing

Seven months or so ago, my eldest son John talked me into blogging.   He thought since I write a lot anyway, and send those writings as emails, a more effective way of communicating was to blog.   He even convinced me to read NAKED CONVERSATIONS: HOW BLOGS ARE CHANGING THE WAY BUSINESSES TALK WITH CUSTOMERS, which he lists on as one of his favorite books.  (He also had me join as well!).

The blog has become the place where I do most of my writing these days, and it has become a way for me to communicate with people I know, as well as with people I’ve never met.  I get comments from those who agree with my opinions, those who make very perceptive comments and criticisms of what I’ve written, and those who hold positions contrary to my fundamental beliefs.  I’ve enjoyed a few debates with other bloggers over the existence of God, and the relationship of truth, science and religion.   I’ve used the blog to express what’s on my mind, not to make dogmatic statements, but to express how I react to the world around me, and to invite others to join the conversation.   For I truly see the blogs not as my final word on anything, but as real conversations which means I also learn from what others say as they often bring to bear pertinent ideas which I have ignored or missed.  And they are so kind as to gently and privately point out when I am not clear and when I am clear but wrong!  But they do it so as not to offend or embarass, which means that many of them are decent, God loving humans.

As a result of this blogging, I was “quoted” today on National Public Radio’s webpage:   I’ve also had one of my blogs translated into Russian, and one appeared on an Argentinian webpage.   

I admit I would have never begun this if not for my son, who gets the credit or blame for creating this blog. 

A good friend of mine, who is of Serbian descent, told me the Serbian word “blag-”  (pronounced like blog) has the meaning of a “blessing.”  The discipline of writing has always been a blessing to me.   Like the seed which the sower scattered I hope that some of my meditations will also prove to be good seed that finds good soil in which to take root.

Thoughts on the Church and the Parish

Three Thoughts On the Church and the Parish

We cannot see the Church as a sort of aesthetic perfection and limit ourselves to aesthetic swooning.  Our God-given freedom calls us to activity and struggle.  And it would be a great lie to tell searching souls: ‘Go to church, because there you will find peace.’  The opposite is true.  She (Mother Maria Skobtsova) tells those who are at peace and asleep:  ‘Go to church, because there you will feel real anguish for your sins, for your perdition, for the world’s sins and perdition.  There you will feel an unappeasable hunger for Christ’s truth.  There, instead of becoming lukewarm, you will be set on fire; instead of pacified, you will become alarmed; instead of learning the wisdom of the world you will become fools for Christ.'” (Fr. Michael Plekon) 

Overall, a Church that crucifies instead of being crucified, that experiences worldly glory instead of the glory of the Cross, a Church that falls to, instead of overcoming, Christ’s three temptations in the desert, is a secularized church.  Such a Church is destined to accommodate a fallen society and to encourage it to remain in its fallen state; it spreads disappointment and despair to those who seek something deeper and more substantive.”  (Metropolitan Hierotheos) 

“We can never attain to life in the Kingdom without reaching out as Jesus himself did, to meet the needs of those about us, and to embrace them with understanding, compassion and self-giving love.  This is the work of every Christian, but it is also the work of our ecclesial communities, our parishes.  The Way into the Kingdom of Heaven, for ourselves as individuals and as members of the Body of Christ, is through an authentic stewardship of love.  Without it, once again, our parish life degenerates into the life of a social club, which serves neither us nor God’s world.”  (Fr. John Breck)

St. Paul: Love is Regarding Others First

For St. Paul love always means having regard for others first and foremost. This “other-regard” is St. Paul’s definition of what it means to love.   In this St. Paul clearly follows the biblical distinction between love (which is always other oriented) and self-love (in which a person is most concerned about what benefits the self).   ” ‘Other-regard’ holds together a number of values often recognized as key in Pauline ethics, namely, love, love of neighbor, social humility, renunciation of status, etc. and provides a general label which encapsulates what Paul denotes as the essential content of the imperative…In these cases, notably regarding food, Paul presses for conformity not to specific rules of ethical practice (eating, not eating, etc.) but to the metanorm of other-regard…It is indeed this other-regard which requires that believers cease to judge  or  condemn the other, for holding an ethical stance they regard as inadequate or sinful, and instead adopt a stance of tolerance and acceptance.”   (David Horrell, Solidarity and Difference: A Contemporary Reading of St. Paul’s Ethics)

St. Paul “defines Christian love as self-giving: ‘through love become servants to one another (Gal 5:13).  The same definition that Paul gives in relationship to Christ’s love in [Galatians] 2:20 is replicated here in relation to Christian love, with love being defined in each case as self-giving service for the benefit of others.”  (James Dunn, The Cambridge Companion to St. Paul)