It’s getting to be time to start planning how I shall observe Lent. Usually I try to pick up an extra spiritual habit rather than put something aside – though I’ve made exceptions over the years.
This year I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to focus on two books for the six weeks of Lent and make my way through them in a very careful and thoughtful way.
The first is St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. We’ve been reading from this epistle the past couple of weeks in Morning Prayer and I’m finding myself more and more intrigued by Paul’s critique of Peter’s actions regarding accommodation of the circumcision party’s observance of the Law in the early Church. I’m just finishing up Gary Wills book “What Paul Meant” and I’ve rekindled my fascination with St. Paul. It was my reading Paul’s writing in a good translation (the Revised English Bible) years ago that formed my understanding of what it means to be a “centrist” or moderate in the Church. But the Letter to the Galatians gives evidence that there are things upon which the Apostle would not compromise. I think…
Anyway, I’m off to find a really good commentary on Galatians. Any suggestions?
Secondly I’m going to read through William Webb’s book “Slaves, Women and Homosexuals”. (I’ve already blogged about this book before.) The point being that anyone who wants to make a case for the acceptance of women into the clergy, gay and lesbian people into the full life of the Church and the absolute prohibition of slavery can’t easily make a proof-text based scriptural argument. Rather the argument has to be focused on the full teaching of the Bible, the characteristics of the Kingdom of God and the development of God’s self-revelation to humanity. This book is supposed to be one of the best places to encounter such a line of reasoning.
A friend of mine told me a year ago that the Archbishop of Canterbury had remarked to him that the Episcopal Church has yet to make a fully convincing argument that there is scriptural warrant for our actions to fully embrace the ministries of women and gay and lesbian Christians. According to his report, the Archbishop says that such an argument can be made, but we’ve not yet done it. I’m not sure that what the Archbishop is true about us not making the argument but if there’s a way to make our presentation to the rest of the Communion stronger, then I’m very interested in learning how to make that happen. Hence the choice of this book for Lent.
What about you all? Have you planned your Lenten disciplines yet? What are you going to be doing?