I do wish to remain a part of the scripture discussion blog. I know I haven’t been posting as much as I used to. Part of the reason might be one thing David mentioned – that I wonder if you guys are getting tired of hearing my catholic pov over and over. The other thing is that I’m struggling, as usual, with personal problems, and those get all wrapped up in religious issues. That can make it hard to write, but I still want to try.
I’m not sure I have any suggestions about how we should proceed. I appreciate both an analytical and a contemplative/emotional approach. The question that arises for me is, I guess, whether the scriptures touch me in some real way that matters, and if so, if I can express that … for my own clarification and for a sharing with others.
A copy of this posting will be sent to everyone on the membership roles for this blog.
This blog has become a bit slow — partly due to my inattention and partly due to this being the summer season and partly due — I think — to the social-dynamics here. While all are welcome, not all participate. Now some may just lurk and enjoy reading other people’s postings without comment. That’s actually okay — though it would still be nice to hear from you all once in a awhile.
I also fear those of us with strong theological positions are repeating ourselves — I rather suspect much of what I say here — most of you could predict the overall sense of it before you read me.
I also worry those of us who approach matters analytically and from an issues perspective dominate. People with a more emotive approach to faith or a more contemplative approach to scripture reading may feel excluded.
If any of these concerns are even partially correct — I’m sorry now. What I really wanted was a safe place for folks to come together and have a conversation about how they read scripture.
My plan at this point is to remove everybody from membership. This is not punitive. Its about clarifying who wants to participate and how. As soon as you are removed from membership you will receive an invitation to join. Your choice. Accept the invite or decline.
Once you decide to rejoin I would appreciate a posting to the skripture study blog expressing what works for you best about this group — and how we can make it better for you.
I certainly hope at least some of you will rejoin. But if you don’t — thank you for your presence here in the past. Sometimes a group outlives its usefulness. Sometimes they need to be laid down.
Well everyone seems to have posted something ‘cept me. My favourite poem is TS Elliot’s Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock and while I think there’s spiritual content — its longish needs digging and am not sure it fits in the same category as Rumi.
Instead let me post George Fox’s Epistle 10 — which I think offers up an interesting spiritual practice — one I’ve found especially hard to put into practice.
X. (10) To Friends, to stand still in trouble, and see the strength of the Lord
Friends,Whatever ye are addicted to, the tempter will come in that thing; and when he can trouble you, then he gets advantage over you, and then ye are gone. Stand still in that which is pure, after ye see yourselves; and then mercy comes in. After thou seest thy thoughts, and the temptations, do not think, but submit; and then power comes. Stand still in that which shows and discovers; and there doth strength immediately come. And stand still in the light, and submit to it, and the other will be hushed and gone; and then content comes. And when temptations and troubles appear, sink down in that which is pure, and all will be hushed, and fly away. Your strength is to stand still, after ye see yourselves; whatsoever ye see yourselves addicted to, temptations, corruption, uncleanness, etc., then ye think ye shall never overcome. And earthly reason will tell you, what ye shall lose; hearken not to that, but stand still in the light that shows them to you, and then strength comes from the Lord, and help contrary to your expectation. Then ye grow up in peace, and no trouble shall move you. David fretted himself, when he looked out; but when he was still, no trouble could move him. When your thoughts are out, abroad, then troubles move you. But come to stay your minds upon that spirit which was before the letter; here ye learn to read the scriptures aright. If ye do any thing in your own wills, then ye tempt God; but stand still in that power which brings peace.
Here’s an old article in Theology Today – Poetry and Theology by Patrick D. Miller …
… The images of poetry speak to startle and puzzle us, to provoke us and cause us to think. They set the imagination free, opening the reader to theological possibilities that might be less acceptable or even unthinkable in the essay mode. Images, dreams, personal experiences, sensual realities-all these aspects of our life that are often filtered out of theological work are front and center when poetry is the medium of faith’s expression ….
Below are three poems, all pretty different, that illustrate this …
* The Angels
They all have weary mouths
and bright souls without marge.
And a yearning (as for sin)
sometimes haunts their dream.
They all seem so alike;
in God’s garden silent they remain,
like many, many intervals
in his power and melody.
Only when their wings spread out,
they are the awakeners of a wind:
as if God with his broad hands
of a sculptor went through the pages
of the beginning’s dark book.
* O Deus Ego Amo Te
O God, I love Thee, I love Thee –
Not out of hope of heaven for me
Nor fearing not to love and be
in the everlasting burning.
Thou, Thou, my Jesus, after me
Didst reach Thine arms out dying,
For my sake sufferedst nails and lance,
Mocked and marred countenance,
Sorrows passing number,
Sweat and care and cumber,
Yea and death, and this for me,
And Thou couldst see me sinning;
Then I, why should not I love Thee,
Jesus, so much in love with me?
Not for heaven’s sake; not to be
Out of hell by loving Thee;
Not for any gains I see;
But just the way that Thou didst me
I do love and I will love Thee:
What must I love Thee, Lord, for then?
For being my king and God. Amen.
* O Taste and See
The world is
not with us enough
O taste and see
the subway Bible poster said,
meaning The Lord, meaning
if anything all that lives
to the imagination’s tongue,
grief, mercy, language,
tangerine, weather, to
breathe them, bite,
savor, chew, swallow, transform
into our flesh our
deaths, crossing the street, plum, quince,
living in the orchard and being
hungry, and plucking
In Blake’s early career he was largely an
aphoristic poet. To begin looking at the man
I’ve selected a few aphorisms that seem to
me most creative:
How do you know but ev’ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight, clos’d by your senses five?
Eternity is in love with the productions of time.
The most sublime act is to set another before you.
Every thing possible to be believ’d is an image
Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believ’d.
And this from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell:
The ancient Poets animated all sensible
objects with Gods or Geniuses, calling
them by the names and adorning them with
the properties of woods, rivers, mountains,
lakes, cities, nations, and whatever their
enlarged & numerous senses could percieve.
And particularly they studied the genius
of each city & country. placing it under
its mental deity.
Till a system was formed, which some took
advantage of & enslav’d the vulgar by
attempting to realize or abstract the
mental dieties from their objects: thus
Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales.
And at length they pronounced that the Gods
had orderd such things. Thus men forgot
that All deities reside in the human breast.
From Plate 13: (Ellie’s favorite)
I then asked Ezekiel. why he eat dung, & lay
so long on his right & left side? he answerd.
the desire of raising other men into a
perception of the infinite.
From Plate 14:
If the doors of perception were cleansed
every thing would appear to man as it is:
infinite. For man has closed himself up,
till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks
of his cavern.
Opposition is true Friendship.
For every thing that lives is Holy.
If you want to look at the whole load try Larry’s Blake.
For years, copying other people, I tried to know myself.
From within, I couldn’t decide what to do.
Unable to see, I heard my name being called.
Then I walked outside.
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.
Yes. Acts of the Apostles is grinding to something of a halt.
We are a group than likes to rastle with issues and Acts ain’t providing it and folks have fallen away and its summer time and most of us would rather be setting down in the back gardens smelling the flowers listening to birds and contemplating the Almighty in the present works of nature.
Two suggestions: one in the short term and one in the longer.
Short Term: we take up something else — something short(ish) and flexible and maybe non-canonical. A member who has remained quiet over the last few months has a deep appreciation for the poetry of Rumi for example. But there’s Gerard Manley Hopkins (a Jesuit — right Crystal) or Basho (haiku). I’m open to suggestions here — but I’m looking for something that will not be too long a commitment and will not require that you’ve been following for months in order to comment meaningfully.
Long Term: At the end of July — sooner if consensus warrants — I cancel everyone’s membership and then immediately invite them to rejoin. Thus giving folks who are no longer here the option of not coming back — or choosing to return on their own terms. I’m going to be gone August 4th through 13th — someplace far far far away from computer access.
These are just suggestions. If alternatives present — I will abandon them or modify them as needs be.
A brand new posting on one of Crystal’s postings from back in March. commenting on Acts 5:1-11 — Ananias and Sapphira.
They leave an email — its up to anyone to email if necessary — but I’m willing to bet the exchange won’t be all that productive.
What I find interesting is the line — if you can’t believe all of it your can’t any of it. I really would like to know where that comes from. It holds scripture up to a standard that nothing else on this planet is capable of living up to — including scripture itself.
Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord.
Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.” At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius. The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea; this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.