Author Archives: Kyle Rader

About Kyle Rader

Kyle is a theologian and postulant for holy orders in The Episcopal Church, and currently a Visiting Research Scholar at the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life at Columbia University. He received his Ph.D. in theology from the University of Chicago Divinity School and lives in New York City with his spouse and two kids. Visit Kyle's contributor page for a longer bio and CV.

What Is Communion (and other questions)?

Provinces of the Anglican Communion

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

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
Cheap thrill
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

Processing Palestine

A mural in Beit Sahour, the village of the shepherds in the nativity story.

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.

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Business as Usual

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.

A protest related to the shooting in the Wisconsin capital.

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Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?

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

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Addendum to “Boiling Anger”

The Vision of the Last JudgementI’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!

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Boiling Anger

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.

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As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us

“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?

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Time and Creation

Now this is interesting. A new theory–the plausibility of which I am not in a position to assess–suggests that there was no Big Bang. The universe is spatially finite, but temporally infinite. So there was no “beginning” to the universe:

“In cosmological terms, the scientists Persistence of Memoryexplain that the quantum corrections can be thought of as a cosmological constant term (without the need for dark energy) and a radiation term. These terms keep the Universe at a finite size, and therefore give it an infinite age. The terms also make predictions that agree closely with current observations of the cosmological constant and density of the Universe.”

Of course, if I understand relativity correctly (my main sources being Star Trek and Wikipedia), it is also perfectly possible that the Big Bang was not the beginning of the universe in any absolute sense, only of space and time as we know them. So what physics calls “the universe” may be simply one event within a macro-universe or multiverse. Like I said, I don’t pretend to understand any of it. I just think it’s cool.

But what does it mean for Christian faith?

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Duke University and Franklin Graham

Having just learned of Duke University’s cowardly and ill-considered decision to rescind its invitation to its Muslim student group to broadcast the Friday call to prayer from its chapeltower, and especially after reading Franklin Graham’s foolish comments, I wish I could tell you that these people are not true Christians. Unfortunately, I cannot. To be sure, their actions in no way embody the teachings of Jesus or follow from our doctrines. No, this is not what being a Christian means.

A minaret in Fez, Morocco, as seen from the roof of the building where my wife and I lived two summers ago.

A minaret in Fez, Morocco, as seen from a rooftop. My wife and I lived in Fez two summers ago. The experience of the adhan from dozens of mosques echoing all over the old city is something I will treasure all my days.

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