This post starts off talking about babies, but it’s really about prisons and what you can do about them. Actionable items at the end!
Our Lord Jesus Christ breaking every chain.
Having a baby is an emotional roller coaster, even when you’re not the one whose body was playing host. When our twins were born six weeks early in January, one was in the NICU for one week, one for three. Shortly after the first came home, they moved the little one to a different part of the hospital for babies who were considered low-risk. We did not think much of the low-risk part of the NICU. The main part was a much more loving environment. There were more babies, more family members, and it seemed to us, more attention from the very gifted nurses. The low-risk ward seemed very much like an afterthought. It was a converted patient room on the recovery floor with six or seven babies in incubators tended by two nurses. With a few notable exceptions, we did not find them to be as good as the nurses in the main ward. There were fewer family members coming and going. It seemed that our little baby was just in a glass cage all day, except when we were able to come take him out. I speak of how it seemed, not of how it was. Objectively, the care he received was perfectly adequate. Continue reading
Nazi book burning.
My translation of Oskar Maria Graf’s 1933 open letter, “Verbrennt mich!” Kristel and I read this in a German class forever and a day ago. The current political and cultural climate in the United States made me think of it.
The global presence of the Anglican Communion, with each color indicating a different province.
Those of you in the Episcoverse, who are the only people likely to care about such things, have probably already seen the Primates of the Anglican Communion’s non-announcement of the suspension of The Episcopal Church from various roles in the Communion (for the non-Anglican crowd, a primate is the head bishop of each church or province in our communion). Needless to say, I think this resolution is wrong on all points and the primates who sponsored and voted for it have made a huge mistake. Further, I am hurt and furious and struggling with all sorts of thoughts and feelings about the people who have done this. I think that this whole thing reeks of the structures of colonialism, and I suspect other motives on the part of many players. But I am struggling to love the primates and think well of them, and though I have some suspicions about their motives and various other factors in play, the only person whose sins I am intimately acquainted with is myself. I am also implicated in the colonial structures at work. So, I merely offer ten questions, more or less in reverse order of importance (yeah, I know, bad form in the age of tl;dr). Okay, fine, there’s also a concluding observation. Continue reading
Augustine weeps in the garden before his conversion in Confessions VIII.
You’re no misanthrope.
You just knew that all good things
Come from God.
Stealing pears or repenting
Of stealing pears;
Making love to a woman
Or feeling like you’ve lost a rib
When you send her away;
Building a church
Tearing down a church
(or maybe just a sect)
You knew that what was good in it
If anything was
Was from God.
Maybe you had no love for pears
And maybe you just wanted a
But God gave you that restless heart
That one that wanted to conspire
When it couldn’t yet commune.
You called your kid God’s gift,
And said you had no part in him
But the sin.
But surely God gave the bed you lay on
If God gave what came from that bed.
You knew that lust
Was just love misdirected
And not always too far
Off the mark.
You knew yourself
Loving and loved
And you knew how much love could hurt
How much you could hurt
Your poor mother
Your poor mistress
That poor kid of yours
How much your
Drunk abusive father
Could have hurt you
And maybe did.
You knew how much goes wrong
When love goes wrong
So you made it all hang
On love that can’t go wrong.
And if unconditional salvation
Means unconditional damnation
Who are the damned to complain?
All good things come from God
Only from God.
You knew that.
But I think you also knew
That maybe you didn’t know
Just how good God is.
All Souls Day, 2015
© 2015 Kyle Rader
A mural in Beit Sahour, the village of the shepherds in the nativity story.
I think I’ve been here long enough now to write something. Take it for what it is: the experience of a privileged outsider who does not speak for Palestinians.
I’ve spent the last month in Palestine. Specifically in Bethlehem, which is in Area A of the West Bank. Area A means that it is under Palestinian control (Area B is under Palestinian civil government but Israeli military control. Area C, which comprises about 60%–and which includes all the major roads between cities–is under Israeli military control). The occupation is brutal.
I had the chance to preach yesterday at my Madison church, Lake Edge Lutheran. Yes, I’m Episcopal. But we’re officially friends. Which is convenient, since I’m married to a Lutheran PK. The local background you need for this one is that in March, an unarmed black teenager named Tony Robinson was fatally shot by a police officer. The DA announced on Tuesday that there would be no charges. You can listen to the audio on the church website, or read the manuscript below.
A protest related to the shooting in the Wisconsin capital.
This, a repost of sorts from eight years and two blogs ago, is the sermon that I preached at my grandmother’s funeral (July 11, 2007). I used a lot of the same images in a discernment paper recently, so it’s been on my mind. And since I haven’t had time to write any new posts of late…
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? -Job 38:4-7
I’ve gotten some push back on Facebook to my last post, seemingly from some people who hear me saying something rather different from what I mean to be saying. In particular, it seems that my language connotes something different to people whose frame of reference is some of the cruder versions of substitutionary atonement than it does to me. I understand how people who have been hurt by human abuse of the idea of divine anger might not find my affirmation of God’s anger helpful. As I told the person who challenged me on a friend’s wall: if this is not the time for you to be thinking about reclaiming divine anger, please don’t give the matter another thought. In fact, go read some Julian of Norwich!
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth.” -Romans 1:18
William Blake’s “A Vision of the Last Judgment”
The first post I wrote for this blog was about love and anger. I stand by everything I said in that post, but I’ve learned more since then. I wrote that I believe God is leading me to be more attentive to my anger, and often to let it go. Like the feelings associated with my depression, sometimes my anger is just a wave on the surface of my being. It comes and goes. I acknowledge it, but shouldn’t chase it. It doesn’t touch the deepest part of me, what the Hebrew writers called the heart.
But sometimes it does.
“Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:33)
Jesus’ teachings about forgiveness are perhaps the most difficult bit to chew in the New Testament. After calling what he took to be Christianity’s teachings on sexuality its most unpopular, C.S. Lewis repented in a later chapter and wondered if it might be the commandment to forgive instead. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful possibilities afforded by Jesus, and also one of the most abused. And on the face of it, it is possibly incoherent. Can there really be an obligation to forgive? Is that what Jesus said or meant?