Thursday, May 24, 2007

More, yet ...

When Christ calls us,” Bonhoeffer famously wrote in his book Discipleship, “he bids us come and die.” What an ironic statement of the Gospel: Is not the Gospel a call to life? Is it not a word of joy and hope? Isn’t it the story of the triumph over death? What’s with this “come and die,” anyway?

In that pithy, eminently quotable little clause is the sum of what I am trying to say about “submission.” To believe the Gospel – and that, in other words, is the summons of the Gospel – is to change, to “repent,” to become a new creation. (No, Brother Paul, not by one’s own efforts by the in-dwelling of the holy-ing Spirit – a phrase I have picked up from Prof. Mary Solberg – who is given free, gratis, on good faith from God the Father.) I think this is a not-so-well articulated fundament in all the various expressions of Christian faith. “To be in Christ is to be/come a new creation.”

To see Christ is to see God; that much we can agree on. To hear the summons of the Gospel is to hear the call to be in Christ, to become as Christ, to become one with Christ. And what is the distinctive thing about Christ in the pictures we have of him? It is his willingness to go even to death in order to remain faithful to God. Beneath the radical critic of society and the Judaism of his day, behind the welcomer of lepers and tax collectors and ladies of the night, between the crushes of crowds and the moments of retreat, at the heart of the miracle-worker and signs-giver was the man Jesus who gave all of himself over to the correct worship of his Father – i.e., of God. Infusing all Christology and soteriology must be the clear vision of this 1st-century Jewish man and the life he lived. His being and his doing or living may not and cannot be separated; the “two natures” doctrine is more than a theological nicety.

What we see if we bother to look is The Faithful Servant at work (and play) abroad in the world. The Second Member of the Trinity did not count equality with God a thing to be “grasped” or savored or held over others’ heads, but emptied himself of whatever glory and worship he was dui to appear in the form of a servant. And to quote Luther: What does this mean?

It means that to be faithful to Christ and through him to the Father who graciously sent him is to submit to his ministry and to his example. We who claim his name are called to follow the path he trod in submission to the will of his Father. That path eventually led to his death, a not uncomplicated and non-controversial fact that has irritated theological thinkers for two thousand years. But even that death must be seen as faithful yielding to the will of the father, even though he clearly would have preferred to have been spared the suffering (“If it be your will, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.”).

Now it can hardly be said that Jesus was a wallflower or a milquetoast or a shrinking violet – and I’ve run out of clich├ęs. His submission was a discerning submission; it required him to decide in every situation whether a given course of action would be faithful to his Father or betrayal. And so he stood up to the “lawyers” – who I gather were the theologians of his day! – and to the uptights; he violated commonly accepted prescriptions on Sabbath activity and hung out with many who were considered unclean (although, in formulating our ethics, let’s not forget that he dined at many houses of apparently well-to-do types as well); as one friend put it, “he upset the hoity-toity by his hanging around with the hoi poloi.”

In all of this, he didn’t assert his own, deserved privilege. We read of no instance where he said anything like “I’m the Son of God; I can’t be expected to do that.” Instead, he read his Bible, he said his prayers, and as he met situations on the road, he dealt with them in the way fitting to the nature of the God about whom he read and to whom he prayed.

As I said, he bad mouthed the Pharisees and rebuked those who claimed to be holier-than-thou. But he didn’t push back for his own self-interest. He openly invited and welcomed many whom the religious establishment of his day warned against as unclean. But he also rejected any claims by even his closest friends to “seats of power” or to positions of influence. And when he was confronted with the final demand, that of his life, he responded the same way: He didn’t resist; he didn’t rebel; he didn’t take up arms; he didn’t seek the protection of his friends. Nor did he march forthrightly forward in the model of noble hero. Despite the slap to the faith of his followers, even though he brought down mockery and derision on all that he had stood for, he walked the Via Dolorosa to the cross in order to meet the final enemy on his own turf and there defeat him – not with swords or wits or ransom, but with the integrity and full force of godliness.

If we keep this model before us – and I think it important to accept Jesus as a model, whatever else we may develop in our Christologies – then our complaints against or concerns about submission can be placed in context. As I said, the Gospel is a summons to death. But it is a death of our old self, not a physical death (at least not initially; it may become such). We are called to “repent” – which is a call to reorient our thinking, our “knowing” (as the philosophers are trying to teach me to say), our sensitive spots, our lives. To die to self, which is the summons, is a call to remove oneself from the judgment seat and to allow God to sit there. It is to take one’s marching orders from him – not from one’s own previous sense of self, not from one’s political or ideological cronies, not from the wider culture within which one resides. It is to abandon claims to “count” in favor of a willingness to serve others. It is to stand up to a culture that says “You should come first” by saying “No; God must come first.”

To be even more personal than I have been up to now: It has taken me most of a normal lifetime finally to discover the desert Fathers and Mothers – those amazing and often bizarre creatures who sought solitude in the deserts in order battle the evils of this world and win a victory for Christ. Even though I have had wonderful experiences in monasteries and can claim to have been trained by one of the greatest of monks (Fr. Godfrey Diekmann at St. John’s Abbey), I am by nature distrustful of monasticism, mainly because I think it posits a kind of duality to Christian life – the hard life for monks, who get tempted to spiritual pride, and the “ordinary” and less-than-demanding life for the rest of us, who get tempted to spiritual ennui. And so I have resisted getting too friendly with the desert people in our Church’s history.

I am now, however, growing to appreciate more Anthony and Moses and Mary of the Desert and Mary Magdalene (who wasn’t technically one of the earliest hesychasts, but is treated in somewhat that fashion within the tradition – cf. Harlots of the Desert by Benedicta Ward). In part it is the guidance of such scholars as Ward and my friend John Chryssavgis, who lay out a kind of hermeutical lens for reading the sayings and stories. But part has also been, I think, the intervention of the Holy Spirit who has helped me to hear in their voices the crystalline call to set aside concerns and submit to God (however imperfectly I – or anyone, I suppose – might succeed). I see beyond the retreat from the world, which also bothered me a lot, to an alternative engagement with the world.

One of the things that I am learning – to my discomfort still – is that “activism” in the name of the Gospel is a dangerous thing. While I do not feel called to be quiescent, I find that my activism – whether broadly political or ecclesiastical – often devolves into my playing the world’s power games, and I lose touch with the proper ends and means of such activism. To cite a lowly example: I’m a liturgical perfectionist and it drives me crazy that my congregation, which holds itself out as something of a model of careful and reverential liturgical practices, does stupid things in sloppy ways – certainly not all the time, but often enough to make me bite my nails. For years, I have been a pain in the neck of the parish’s Worship Committee and pastor and cantor, by drawing shortcomings to their attention. But it dawns on me slowly that even though my motives may have been pure (and who among us can know), I was serving God less than my own standards and preferences. I was losing the ability to worship, to focus on what God was doing on Sunday and on how I was responding, because of my “critical” eye and ear. And so, in an effort to bring my soul back to the altar, I have resigned from the Worship Committee and resolved to focus on what’s happening more than what’s not.

I acknowledge that that is a minor thing – except for those who will be happy to know that I’ve left the committee, for whom it will be a reason to rejoice. But it is one illustration I can offer of what it means to submit, that is: by the power of God to set one’s own interests aside in favor of more serious attention to the work of God on-going in the world.

I’ll try to say more about the “activist” side of the story in my next post.

NOTE: Thanks for sticking with me in my process of thinking through a new idea about the Christian life. This is new stuff for me, in a sense. I am coming to terms with some new vocabulary as a result of my reading and talking with more Eastern Orthodox people. My friend C, as I have indicated, gave me this new word – and I do love new words. Another friend, Fr. John Chryssavgis has inspired me by the warmth and steadiness of his life and by the erudition and reverence of his books. At this time, Vigen Gouroian, an Armenian Orthodox theologian, is providing some guidance on the ethics component. And I find myself being drawn to Meyendorf and some others through the tricky marketing ploys of Light and Life Publishing – a local publishing and supply company which parks its stock on steel shelves by title, thus forcing one to browse to find something.

Of course, I perceive all this stuff through Western eyes and ears. I do not have Eastern liturgies in which to immerse myself while thinking and praying this through. And I’m not sure that I want that right now; I’ll settle for my recordings of Russian, Armenian, and Greek liturgical music.

But please know that while I write most of this is the indicative mood, I intend it to be considered in the interrogative. I do not claim final insights. What all y’all are helping me with here is to think through the nature of faith from a tack that I’ve not taken before. It’s a little less German, I think.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A little more on "Submission"

These reflections are going to be piecemeal; I'm not able to get a systematic handle on how to treat the issue I raised earlier -- that of "submission." Here, I comment on some of the "back text" to the discussion.

I think modern people -- including Christians -- have trouble with any notion of submission, because the very idea of subordinating one's own will or thinking or action to that of an authority outside oneself is anathema to the modern mind. Now, I'm no philosopher; certainly you know that if you've read even one of my previous posts. And I'm not a theoretical theologian -- or even much of a theologian according to some of my friends. But this idea makes sense to me.

By "modern people" I mean those people who live in the "West" (I don't know how much influence modernity has in the so-called "East") who have been influenced by the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment, broadly construed, was an intellectual movement (originating about the 18th Century, I think), influenced by and influencing the development of scientific methods, that sought to subject all aspects of life to scrutiny -- and to scrutiny carried on in a particular way. It was a project to subject all truth claims to some kind of so-called objective or scientific verification. (You see the connection to science.) It was, at root, a negative reaction to all forms of tyranny -- whether over minds or bodies -- and so argued, in its fundamentals, that at base, the only judge of truth is observation.

In a crude form (because I am not a philosopher, remember), the Enlightenment said this: "I will not rely on anything that cannot be demonstrated. Unless I can confirm something with my own eyes and according to the rational terms of my own mind, I will not buy it. Since external authority is the antithesis of this approach to knowledge, I reject that external authority insofar as it denies me the ultimate authority to make my own decisions."

Now, much good came from the Enlightenment break-through: Science was able to assert the kind of independence that it needed to advance knowledge. (Yeah, I know: That thesis begs all kinds of questions about the ethics of scientific research and its results.) And without the Enlightenment, it is unlikely that we Lutherans would have come into being, for Luther benefited from the advances in humanities research and in academic freedom that were facilitated by the new attitude. The "great republics," including the US, have sprung from Enlightenment-enlightened political thinkers and activists.

But foundationally the Enlightenment is built on a self-contradiction. If we reify the Enlightenment, we have her saying to people: "Bow to no principle that arises from an authority outside yourself." But of course, that statement is itself a command coming from an authority outside the auditor. (I owe that insight to Stanley Hauerwas, who is frequently able to crystallize an idea with lucidity and a great Texan accent.) So the Enlightenment is an ideological position, built on an assertion of external authority, as strong as the Pope's or whoever's. (Thomas Kuhn makes that point in spades with respect to science in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions -- on of the most significant books for shaping how I think.)

Furthermore, the Enlightenment places the individual at the center of his or her own universe. In essence, the Enlightenment makes everyone his or her own god. If I am the master of all I consider, the judge of relevance and truth, then I am god, and no amount of revelation will change that. I must "think for myself"; "I'll be the judge of that."

We who read these words have all benefited from the Enlightenment, and we have all been warped by it. We are inclined to distrust external authority; we are inclined to resist pressure or influence (especially when we feel that it is being applied); we want to be self-determinative; we glory in activism and decry passivity; we hope to and appreciate "thinking for ourselves." I admit that I appreciate it, if somewhat grudgingly, when my fourteen-year-old daughter asserts herself to challenge my statement of fact or "questions authority" or decides to think for herself and not go along with the crowd. Thus for the benefits of the Enlightenment. If, as I contend, it has been a mixed blessing, it has contributed to the evolution of the human person.

There are, however, problems that inexorably arise -- especially in the context of Christian faith: To Enlightenment minds and hearts, talk of "submission" sounds like reversion to the Dark Ages of credulity, fideism, meekness, and Rover-like rolling over. We attach to the word overtones of self-denial (which properly understood, it is), dehumanization, powerlessness. (It need be neither of those, of course, as I intend to argue.)

I think such an attitude is especially evident in an essay in the Trelstad collection I mentioned earlier by Rosemary Carbine, "Contextualizing the Cross for the Sake of Subjectivity." She analyzes the cross from the standpoint of women's "resistance" to suffering. Carbine argues that such resistance, in various forms, is a requisite of women's becoming fully human. Liberation is living free from the imposition by others of suffering (which she doesn't really define, as far as I can see). Agency -- i.e., being active and not being passive or accepting -- is key to her understanding of what it means to be human.

And that seems to be common thinking in our time. We value taking independent stands with respect to church teachings and practices. We want to vindicate our "rights" in such things as sexual ethics, same-sex marriage and ordination, fetal research, and abortion -- to name only a few. We must be "true to ourselves" -- as though that identity is something we develop on our own or with others whom we select.

But absent from such thinking is an appreciation of the "place" of community -- because the individual is the subject of Enlightenment thinking -- and of legitimate authority -- because no external authority is legitimate if it frustrates my self-actualization. Absent, in other words, is knowledge of the Church.

The Church depends on a doctrine of revelation, on an understanding of truth that comes from outside ourselves: We do not discover the Gospel on our own, we do not understand Jesus outside the Church, we cannot interpret the Scriptures outside the community of faith. The Church is the repository of the Church's revelation, and to be Christian involves bending one's will and mind to that revelation. Now, it's not as severe as it sounds -- especially in these days when the Church and her "teachers" have had to learn how to deal with the Enlightenment context. But it is a harsh reality that Jesus is not whoever we want him to be. And the Good News has factual and specific content; it is not just any word that makes us feel better or less anxious or stronger. And properly to hear that word and be able to speak it to others, we must "submit" to that revelation.

As Christians, we are called to "obey" God, to submit to his ways and will. We are not encouraged to make our own way, to make our own decisions on the basis of our own principles, to live how we want. The second chapter of Genesis makes that abundantly clear, it seems to me. And the Sermon on the Mount speaks the same insight into the Christian context. And therein lies the key to "submission."

At its root, submission is nothing more than to respond to the Gospel. Philip Watson once characterized Luther's theology as "Let God be God." And to do so requires submission. To hear the Gospel, we must submit to its harsh word -- viz., that our attempts to live, to love, to worship are inadequate, wrong, and sinful. Only by letting God be God will we know the salvation that has been made for us. It is free for the taking, but it is expensive to us, because it costs us our Enlightenment-bolstered self-assertion -- as Bonhoeffer so brilliantly described in Discipleship.

But so to hear the Gospel is already to hear a counter-cultural message. For the culture is Enlightenment-formed, and it encourages the exact opposition of self-sacrifice. In the culture of the Enlightenment, self-assertion trumps -sacrifice, autodidacticism is superior to being taught, acting is more human than listening, asserting makes more sense than discerning.

And that's why it's so hard to read or hear talk about "submission." It seems somehow unnatural; it seems to encourage weakness (although read the writings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers and see just how much weakness was involved!). It sounds like what the tyrants always want: sheep who follow meekly lowing. Oh, we describe it in various ways. But fundamental to all of our objections is the pattern of thinking planted in our souls by the Enlightenment.

So having laid the blame where I want it to lie, I intend to say some things about what submission is NOT. Then, I hope to draw you out in some conversation about what differences this discussion will have for our lives of faith.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Disappeareds

Click here for a fascinating, horrifying, and touching word-and-visual slide show, on, that deals with how to memorialize those who have been "disappeared."

The crimes of those who are snatched by government or paragovernment units and imprisoned or killed are stunningly difficult to address: How do you prove the crime when, by definition, the victim has disappeared. It's a legal horror, but it's an even greater assault on humanity. Professor Bill Cavanaugh dealt with that profoundly in his doctoral dissertation at Duke, later published as Torture and Eucharist.

Christians must learn about this tactic, its history and practice through the world. And American Christians must reflect seriously on the phenomenon because it is practiced by our government. The whole "enemy combatant" designation, along with the ultra-secrecy of homeland-security law, is premised on making some people simply disappear, never to be heard from again. If we deny any knowledge of someone we hold in detention, if we arrest and deny contact with outside counsel, if we ...

It is no longer necessary to say "if" because our government does it. And we USAmerican Christians should speak up to stop this -- when practiced by our government and when supported or not opposed by our government. We must speak the Truth to caesar.

I was struck, during the recent debate among Republicans running for President, by this: John McCain spoke against torture. Now, even I (who distrust him in the extreme) acknowledge that on this, he has moral and personal authority to speak. He aptly characterized the arguments over whether to torture as "not about them" but "as about us -- who and what we are as a culture." His comments were met with utter, and I mean complete, silence by the crowd assembled. On the other hand, when Mitt Romney began calling for even more torture, he was wildly cheered in the middle of his remark. That was a chilling and frightening moment for me.

I confess to a guilty pleasure: I watch the TV serial, 24. Now, this is a show that I ought to hate -- and I actually just burn with anger during the show. It is produced by an ultra-right-winger (profiled in a long recent article in The New Yorker) who wants the very things the show toys with -- pre-emptive nuclear strikes against Arab countries, racial profiling of (and indeed outright racism against) Arabs, torture at the whim of covert operatives, suspension of civil liberties for the sake of protecting our liberty (you figure that one out). And all of that gets acted out in fascinating, psychological, and gory detail.

Curiously, the show demonstrates the futility and wrongness of the very things its producer wants to promote. Torture, so far as I have seen, has produced no good results: The one being tortured gives the torturer what he thinks the torturer wants to know, not the truth. The "good guys" end up being deluded; many of the Arabs are shown to be patriots.

Maybe the producer was spoofing in the TNY article; perhaps he's really a liberal radical in camoflage clothes. But I find it fascinating that the pattern to this cultural icon is so clear.

Is this perhaps an illustration of the Christian assertion that Truth Will Out?

With respect to torture and disappeareds, the Truth Will Out. That which is hidden will be revealed; those who are lost will be found and reclaimed. We know that because there was One who was tortured and killed (apparently legally within the constraints of the law of his day), but who was not abandoned to death by the One who sent him. Biology is not destiny, and neither is any of the tricks we try to pull to secure our position in this world.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Another sign of the End?

My wife is fond of saying, when something outrageous crosses our path, "Well, that clinches it. The End is near." Well, with respect to recent news out of Britain, I think she may be right.

A British company is marketing a pregnancy test that will tell you, even before the sixth week of pregnancy, the sex of the fetus. Now, I ask you, what can be the possible point of this? Oh, I know the usual answers: The company's is the lamest. They say that this will help the potential parent/s get a jump on shopping for gender-appropriate clothes, wall coverings, and the like. (And if you buy that, well, have I got a deal for you.) I've not heard anyone yet raise a more reasoned argument: There are certain genetically transmitted diseases and disabilities that are gender-linked, and early detection of the gender of the child may help with early intervention to deal with the potential issue. (I'm really dumb about genetics and medicine, so I don't know whether there can be any such intervention before six weeks.)

But let's be honest: The primary reason for this test is to allow people to learn early on the gender of their coming child so that they decide whether they want to keep a child of that gender. Even though the company is not marketing their kit in -- say -- China or India, where boy babies are much preferred, I cannot help but see that area of the world as a real cash cow for them. And in the more "developed" areas of the world, this will be yet another manifestation of the culture of choice.

We are rapidly moving in the direction of designer babies: Choose the hair color, the height, the body structure. Why not the gender? Learn early enough and rejecting a bad roll of the dice is much easier than later.

Call me paranoid -- you wouldn't be the first! -- but can't see any good's coming from this development.

And on a related note, has any of you engaged in conversation about this or other biomedical ethics issues with your faith families? We're not doing it at my church, and I think it may be time.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Mea culpa -- now edited to reverse a mistake

Thank you to those of you good friends who check back for my ramblings. I have not been loyal to the blog, even though I have about 60 posts running in my head. The fact is that I have been busy: I have taken a short-term second job as a contract lawyer, and my time is filled with that work (not to mention the interminable demands for chauffering raised by my 14-year-old daugher!). In addition, my laptop died (again?) so that my time to ruminate online is restricted by the need to share the two remaining laptops in our home. (I'm hoping against hope that mine can be revived -- especially since we're now a wireless household and I can take the thing into the backyard and putz on it while enjoying nature's splendor.)

I'm in process of reading Cross Examinations: Readings on the Meaning of the Cross Today, edited by Marit Trelstad (who teaches at PLU). Much of the first section of the book deals with feminist/womanist critiques of "the cross". Now I'm not sure what they mean by "the cross" -- keeping in mind Juergen Moltmann's observation, "At the beginning of Christianity there are two crosses: One is a real cross, the other a symbol." The feminist/womanist scholars (and I'm only slowly getting a handle on the term "womanist") object that the cross has been used to justify a kind of passivity in the face of suffering that has led women to accept abuse, marginalization, low self-esteem, and the rest of the gamut of well-known issues.

Reading some of the essays raises for me the age-old (and utterly contemporary) question of the place of experience in theology. I have raised the ire of many of my friends who are women by suggesting -- no, insisting -- that God's name "Father" is non-negotiable. Despite the bad things that "fathers" have done, that experience in no way changes the biblical witness (a) that Jesus said to call on God as "Father," thus establishing "Father" as a name and not as a metaphor, and (b) that fathers are to be evaluated by the standards of love and benevolence of the Heavenly Father and not the other way around. Most of the feminists I read in the Trelstad book operate from a rather standard epistemology that posits experience first and doctrine second. That means that I develop doctrine -- and I argue, twist the biblical narrative -- to fit my experience. (Please be aware that I don't claim that approach is unique to feminists of any age: It has been a rather stock approach to the treatment of theology throughout the life of the Church. On a less significant level, Constantine finally gives the church legitimacy in the Empire and so the leaders of the Church -- which has a more concrete structure than it had before -- start dressing like leaders of the Empire. Of course, they also began to adopt more and more of the "leadership" mentality -- a development not unproblematic in our own time!)

In response, I want briefly to sound one tone, which I hope to meditate on more systematically over time. I was brought to this insight by my friend, C, who has flown the Lutheran coop -- something she thought she'd never do. (We'd discussed this in the past: Her husband and children are Orthodox, but she couldn't leave "Bach" behind. Well, she discovered that her misgivings were promptings of the Spirit. So after an appopriate period of discernment, she was christmated and is NOW -- a previous oversight had this read: "not" and that is most certainly not the case; she is as happy as clam there -- happily ensconced in the congregation that is the proud guardian of the icon I reference in my previous post.)

C has helped to see that "submission" is of the essence of Christian faith. Before anything else, the call of the Gospel is "Submit to God." From what I can tell, all of Lutheran theology has been aptly summarized by the phrase, "Let God be God!" (Thank you, Watson.) In fact, all of theology gets at that call. What got Adam and Eve in trouble? It was the failure to live securely in life given them by God. They felt the need for self-assertion; it overruled the very clear mandate from the Creator to submit to his rule and avoid the one -- only one -- tree. "Repent and believe the Gospel" is a call to submit to the judgment of God. It happens to be a gracious, forgiving, reconciling judgment. But the only way to appropriate that judgment is to submit to the jurisdiction of the Heavenly Judge. (See how I work my legal and theological training together.)

What does it mean to submit or to be submissive? I think that's an important question. I've raised it here in one or another context -- e.g., arguing that gay people must submit their own senses of justice and vocation to the discernment of the Church, which functions by virtue of the Holy Spirit, while praying for a more acute perception by the Church on the issue of same-sex relationships. But it is more than a question; it is a fundamental approach to the life of faith.

I hope to continue to talk things over with C because she has given me the "watchword" by which I can summarize my view of faith: submission. We will discover, I think, that to be submissive is not necessarily to be meek, passive, wallflower-ish, "non-agential" (to quote the nasty neologism formulated by the womanist scholars). But it is to acknowledge that one's will or one's experience or one's desires or one's "agency" is not the determining factor around which Christian faith revolves. The priority of the will of God is the sine qua non of Christian faith. Fortunately for us, that will is a benevolent, saving, reconciling, strengthening, upholding will. That's what makes the Gospel "good news."

In a future post, I intend to deal with Paul Althaus' The Divine Command (from 1966 -- a classic!) in which he distinguishes between God's command and "law" (in what he argues is the Lutheran sense of the term). Thus, the Ten Commandments are not "law" in the Lutheran sense (in fact, I have also learned from another source that Luther never once referred to the Commandments as "law"); instead they are the expression of God's intent for the Creation to which all creatures are called and from which no creatures are released. By my reading (and as I have claimed in talks I've given on the Ten Commandments -- delivered before I read Althaus), the Ten Commandments are a distillation of the will of God according to which we are summoned to live in freedom. In other words, they are indications of how to live the saved life we are offered. The life of faith is submission, inter alia, to life according to the commandments. But more on the Althaus later.

For now, I shall try to pay closer attention to this enterprise and to respond to any comments you make. I'll offer more on the meaning of submission (and on both the Trelstad collection and the Althaus monograph). Give me feedback.

Peace to you.

I SHALL NOT DIE, for I am within the Life. I have the whole of life springing up as a fountain within me. -- St. Symeon the New Theologian.

A new super icon

My friend Cha has been boasting (in a very refined, humble way) about the new icon that her Russian Orthodox congregation have been installing on the ceiling of their church building. Well, a mutual friend of ours, Dash, has posted some amazing pictures that she took during the installation of the icon. (As she explains, the icon was written on canvas; the canvas was cut up so that it would fit the barrel-vault of the ceiling; it was plastered in place; then the iconographer filled in the spaces created by installing flat canvas on a vaulted space.)

Please view the pictures here. I expect that you'll be inspired.