Thoughts on a rainy wednesday afternoon.

General Convention / Religion

I haven’t had as much time to write in the past couple of days as I might otherwise have had. My time has been taken up with the sort of mundane chores with which anyone who is preparing to leave for a two week conference is familiar. I’m figuring out what to pack and what to leave behind. Wondering what I’ll wish I had brought, and how to replace it if I really need it. My inbox is being filled with invitations and announcements of special programs and I’m dutifully putting them onto my calendar. I’m finally making up the checklists and info sheets that I’ve been meaning to get to all week.

When I read what people are writing at the moment on the HoB/D list and in the larger blog-sphere, it seems I’m not alone. We all appear to be doing the same thing. Finalizing plans. Responding to questions in the off-hand distracted way that we all do when we’re focusing on something else. And starting to worry about what we might be getting ourselves into.

It’s a funny thing isn’t it? I’ve told so many worried people in my ministry over the years that they should give up their worry to God and try to settle themselves into the moment, and now when I need to hear my own words, I’m suddenly hearing impaired. My mind is distracted with a hundred various what-if scenarios. What will I say, what will I do? And what difference do I think I’ll make (or can I make) in all this anyhow?

But I can’t simply let go. There are chores that need to be taken care of, parish tasks looked after, plans for the rest of the summer to be made. I (and probably the rest of us) don’t have the luxury of going and sitting in the chapel for an hour or two, centering ourselves in Jesus and his strength and the calm of his presence.

I know what needs to be done, but I can’t do it. I can’t work and pray at the same time Рat least not in a way that would work for me. I’m certain others could manage it, and there have been times when even I have done it, but today is not that day.

How extraordinarily paradoxical.

I do find myself thinking of paradox a great deal. The idea that a Church can not contain two different world-views seems to be becoming more and more commonly accepted. So many people so desire and want precision and clarity that a muddle or a fudge just won’t do.

I may be chasing after a mirage, but truth be told, I think a fudge is our only hope.

Trying to construct a single shared world-view right now might be possible, but we’d be building a house on shifting sand. The intellectual world is evolving and changing constantly around us. If we find a place to build a shared way of thinking, there is little guarantee that the axiomatic ideas used in the building won’t be discarded by the rest of society. (Which would leave us with a carefully constructed quaint edifice and no way to speak to the world in a way that it could understand.)

Bishop Bob Duncan has said recently that we are in the midst of a new Reformation. He’s right. The same sorts of profound paradigmatic shifts that were driving the enlightenment and the first reformation are happening in our day. We know not yet what we shall be, but we know we are journeying into the regions beyond.

I find myself simply marveling at the power of Jesus’ stories right now. They have managed to be timeless, culturally independent and relevant. Each generation has approached them anew and found in them something that speaks directly to where people are in their lives. They are fresh and relevant no matter what the intellectual model du jour might be.

Of course it was easier for him. Jesus was God and Man at the same time. Fully integrated, yet not co-mingled.

Now that‚Äôs a paradox if ever there was one. How come we can be so comfortable with that, while saying that we can not abide paradox in our day? (By the way, as I recall, the language to describe the dual divinity and humanity of Christ was a fudge…)

Mo. Laura, the associate priest here in our parish was formed in the Russian Orthodox Church before she began her journey to the Episcopal Church. She is always chiding up about our discomfort with paradox. The Orthodox live in paradox Рeven revel in it. It’s not an intellectual scandal to them at all. Why does it have to be to us? Are we so very Western?

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...