Monday, February 18, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I recently read Andrew Beatty´s article The Pope in Mexico: Syncretism in Public Ritual which has really reawakened a few strong sentiments for me. The article essentially looks at the canonization of Juan Diego by the late Pope John Paul II from three perspectives and shows how political, religious and indigenous orthodoxy are contested and expressed in this three day event in Mexico. Juan Diego (whose authenticity as an actual person is highly in doubt) is said to have seen the Virgin Mary as a morena (a dark woman). According to the tale this apparition was denied by the Catholic establishment of the time – interested in preserving the Marian image as white and spotless (but more importantly European in ethnicity). After several appearances the virgin of Guadalupe was recognized as a symbol that the indigenous tribes were welcomed into the church. So the pope comes to canonize this likely fictitious character. The canonization is a personal achievement for the pope who holds special sentiment for the virgin of Guadalupe.
The article gives a fabulous picture of how intricately woven together politics, indigenity and religion (in this case Catholicism) and yet how contested and perpetually redefined they are. Although Beatty is far too intellectually clever to say it outright – it is clear that he firmly believes that there is no such thing as orthodoxy in any context politically, religiously, culturally, principally.
And for the most part I agree.
What I find interesting is that the preoccupation that the Christian community has with defining and rediscovering orthodoxy. I am not convinced that this is a worthwhile venture. There are two forms that this typically takes – from my humble and increasingly irrelevant view. First, there is this propensity to reclaim the original church doctrines and practices. This pursuit of orthodoxy suggests that there was something innately pure about first manifestation of the church which can in fact be reclaimed because it is the ideal standard. Second there is a strong urge to encapsulate the essence of Christian theological orthodoxy. That is to say that there is a strong effort to define with great precision what is and is not truly Christian.
What complicates this second objective is that the plethora of branches that the 'kingdom' has divided into. What is orthodox to Evangelicals could never be orthodox to Anglicans etc. So essentially, this pursuit of defining orthodoxy becomes little more than a thinly veiled exercise in trying ever so hard to get one's own ideas accepted as commonly held in a particular context. What complicates the first objective is that the 'original' church is anything but pure or original. It is very clearly a mixture and a deeply contested one at that (i.e. Peter and Paul and the foreskin issue). This is the motif of the church for its entire history: contestation over orthodoxy. And besides its contested nature - the early church is anything but pure. It is as an exemplary version of what the church should be a very messed up (the word messed is a derivative of mix) one.
This notion that there is no orthodoxy is an unsettling one at first. There is a lot in traditional church culture that moves us to consider that there is a pure orthodoxy whose boundaries we are loathe to cross for fear of 'losing our faith'. And that was me and still is often. But I am refreshed when I look at Jesus' teachings. I see that he was very intentional to avoid statement that provoked rigidity. In fact he explicitly denounced people who held to the various incarnations of 'orthodoxy' (a.k.a. the Pharisees).
So some will say if we have no orthodoxy can we say anything significant about faith. Their question reveals just how much value we have placed on the process of defining and reasoning our way through our faith. It is rare to find people who honor the role of revelation in an authentic way. I don't mean the kind of revelation that comes through tongues or frenzied 'spirit-filled' worship. I also don't mean the unfettered revelation of money hungry TV personalities.
We need leaders who negotiate the culture of our day with heritage of faith we have been given (messy as it is) and clear connection to commune with God is real un-contrived ways. Such a person I would follow and do. We need more people leading our churches who have the art of negotiation. I am privileged to have a number of people who I trust who do that for me…
Monday, February 11, 2008
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Friday, February 8, 2008
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
with my eyes glued to the primary results - i find this song intriguing on many level. Out of no discourtesy to the U.S. reader of this blog, I post this as what I think is a brilliant peotic enterprize. It's rare to listen to something so direct and yet poetically satisfying. and regardless of your ideology our fate as Canadians and even as inhabitants of this planet are tied in significant ways to the policies and direction of our neighbor to the south.
what do you think this guys is getting at with the line...
"soaking the body of Jesus in blood"?
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Cindy's young dyslexic chick wandered off one day and joined a flock of ducks as an act of rebellion.
So they had hired Stu. And basically it became very clear what his job was – help the chicks turn into decent hens and roosters. Hens that laid eggs and meshed well with the life of the coop. Roosters who… …Well nobody knew what roosters were supposed to be like. Keep them out of trouble. That was his main job. Too many times he felt like all he was doing was chicksitting – but he was diligent at his job. He used his training to plan activities and programs that helped the chicks navigate the dangers of the new cultural stresses. He hung out in the chick barn and even went to the incubator every so often. He established a real connection with the birds. He became an expert counsellor and helped many a chick get their life on track.
Stu had a flaw. He thought his job was supposed to help all the chicks that came into the barn even the ones who were ear marked to go and live in other barns. He didn't care – he worked with them all. After all, he figured, the birds who would leave the comforts of this coop would need extra care and attention as they would not have all the supports that the 'home' birds would have. Well that did not sit well with the hens – they did not say much to Stu because they were nervous that he would leave and then their chicks would have no left to care for them.
That's how things had evolved. Stu had come in as a Saviour and in effect the parents had let him do just that –save the chicks. This meant, conveniently, that the hens began to evacuate their role as parents' altogether. So although they did not appreciate everything that Stu did with and for their chicks, they had really come to depend on him. And if he ever sensed that the hens were not being supportive enough he'd take on the weekly pep and remind the hens of all the horrors of chick culture. Round and round it went like that.
That's why he was thinking about change…