Contributors to our blogs are faculty, alumni, and students of Seminary of the Southwest sharing their reflections from the context of a community of faith. We hope you enjoy reading, and we invite your comments.
The evening of Holy Saturday my wife and I walked in procession with our children toward Christ Chapel. The Sanctuary was hazy with incense and dark like the Holy Saturday Tomb, like the face of the deep at the beginning of the world.
We waited there with Noah, with Abraham and Isaac, with Moses and Miriam, and with Isaiah and Ezekiel. We chanted the psalms together at the tomb of the Messiah and the tomb of the world. We asked for deliverance and reminded God of all those promises, knowing God’s faithfulness, but trying to forget for a little while so as to remember again.
Reflection from a member of The Episcopal Church delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW)
On Easter morning we find Mary crying in the garden outside the empty tomb. She is so confused by the resurrection that at first she doesn't recognize Jesus at all when he asks her why she is weeping. It has always struck me as interesting that Jesus doesn't tell her not to be afraid, nor does he tell her to dry her tears. He asks her, "Why? Why are you weeping?" In asking that question he lets Mary find her own voice to explain her distress. Jesus knows it will be vitally important to the future of this fractured community that they find their voices--because they are the ones he is counting on to tell a cohesive story of hope to the world.
“So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Mark 16:8
Historical critics used to argue that the tradition of the discovery of the empty tomb by the women followers of Jesus was secondary to the resurrection appearances to the male disciples and that it was these scenes, when Jesus appears to talk and eat with the disciples, that are the source for resurrection faith. However, Jane Schaberg’s work has persuaded me that the faithful women, prepared by their experience with Jesus, would have been provoked to insight by the shock of the empty tomb.1
As a young seminarian in my early twenties, I loved the BBC comedy The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. In this hilarious satire, Reginald dismantles his life as a successful businessman. The lines between his fantasies and his reality become blurred to the point where Reginald starts saying and doing things that are increasingly outrageous. Then Reginald fakes his own death and begins an alternate life free of responsibility and social convention. At age 23 I often wondered why this series delighted me so very much.
The pounding rain was the least of our problems, though we didn’t know it at the time. My son and I were traveling home to Austin after a week on the coast. I gripped the wheel and squinted into the watery I-10 corridor as Gabe pretended to read. Some cars poked along with us. Others bullied their way by in a hair-raising blur.
As we approached Katy, just west of Houston, the rain let up. I could breathe again. Tentatively, I accelerated. Buildings emerged from the mist. Gabe began to read for real. I moved back into the fast lane. Everything would be fine!
A summary of a paper presented to the Central Texas Colloquium on Religion
The Central Texas Colloquium on Religion began five years ago as a celebration of the many scholarly conversations that move around under the umbrella of religious studies. It will come as no surprise to those who know me that I think theology has a place under that umbrella too. Just as theology is something less than it could be when it lacks the methods of textual analysis, historiography, and sociology, religious studies is prone to a certain blindness without the input of theology.
Slate Magazine dubbed 2014 “The Year of Outrage,”1 and I’m inclined to agree.
We were outraged when a London block installed anti-homeless spikes, and when Khloé Kardashian wore a Native American headdress.2 We were outraged when we read the Senate’s torture report outlining CIA practices of systematic prisoner abuse and we were outraged when we read about Lena Dunham’s childhood sexual experimentation.3 We were outraged by Bill Cosby; we were outraged by gentrification and income inequality; we were outraged by Ferguson; we were outraged by the Austin based “Strange Fruit PR” firm who foolishly chose a name that echoed a 1930’s Billie Holiday song about lynchings. We were outraged by Fox News and/or by Jon Stewart’s satire of Fox News. We were outraged by Rolling Stone’s UVA rape story, then we were outraged to find out that they got their facts wrong. We were outraged that iTunes gave away U2’s new album for free without asking us. And by “we” in all of these examples I mean something like “social media” or “the internet”—“the internet” construed as a kind of corporate consciousness and increasingly a corporate conscience.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” - John 15:12-13 NRSV
“Do you have time to talk? I would like to discuss something that is really important to me.” The stomach drops. Instinctively, you expect a difficult conversation --the “difficult” conversation with a friend.
The United States needs such a conversation. We need an honest, heart-wrenching conversation about race in America, and yet, it is the very conversation that we Americans run away from the most. It seems there is no way to have a true dialogue, a true sharing of experiences between members of different races in this country.
If you secretly (or not so secretly) enjoy Ash Wednesday as much as I do, you’re probably very familiar with its central chorus: Remember you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. But have you ever given the logic of this line any thought? If so, you may have realized that it makes no sense at all—which is exactly what makes it so compelling.
For starters, check out the verb tenses: You are dust, and to dust you shall return. This admixture of present and future tense confounds our understanding of both time and identity. If we are something—dust, Girl Scouts, conspiracy theorists, vegetarians—how can we “return” to being that thing? We already are it. We don’t need to circle back to it in the future.