[Rough Draft]

A weblog about god, doubt, insomnia, culture, baseball


william stringfellow

my anglican thought seminar started us w/ hooker and wesley and temple and all those guys, then there was a name i'd never heard: william stringfellow. upon reading portions of a keeper of the word: selected writings of william stringfellow, i have a new hero.

(seth, if you're reading this, go out and buy this book right now)

i won't give you all the biographical details (if you're curious), but he was a harvard law grad that moved to harlem to work w/ the poor, and instead of becoming a priest he just went about writing theology. perhaps the fact that few of his books are currently in print says something about how his message was received by the "powers and principalities" in the world (a topic he addresses repeatedly and with skill). nevertheless, i find him an original thinker who left us a cogent and quintessentially american theology.

just to give you an idea about how he thinks, some snippets from an essay about the circus (that's right) as eschatological community:

the circus is among the few coherent images of the eschatological realm to which people still have ready access . . . . this principality, this art, this veritable liturgy, this common enterprise of multifarious creatures called the circus, enacts a hope, in an immediate and historic sense, and simultaneously embodies an ecumenical foresight of radical and wondrous splendor, encompassing, as it does both empirically and symbolically, the scope and diversity of creation . . . . it is in the performance that the circus is most obviously a parable of the eschaton. it is there that human beings confront the beasts of the earth and reclaim their lost dominion over other creatures. the symbol is magnified, of course, when one recollects that, biblically, the beasts generally designate the principalities: the nations, dominions, thrones, authorities, institutions, and regimes (see dan. 6).

there, too, in the circus, humans are represented as freed from consignment to death. there one person walks a wire fifty feet above the ground, another stands upside down on a forefinger, another juggles a dozen incongruous objects simultaneously, another hangs in the air by the heels, one upholds twelve in a human pyramid, another is shot from a cannon. the circus performer is the image of the eschatological person -- emancipated from frailty and inhibition, exhilarant, militant, transcendent over death -- neither confined nor conformed by the fear of death any more.

now why can't i think like that?


shindell sighting

i went to church tonight. to my kind of church, that is. and maybe nobody else there had church, but i did.

i've been waiting to see richard shindell @ the birchmere for months, since way before we moved to alexandria even. we walked in just as he was sitting down w/ his guitar, the lights already down, and as soon as i heard him start singing i had tears in my eyes. i know, i know: it's weird that this guy has that effect on me, but something in his voice just tears me apart.

the whole show was wonderful. tears made frequent appearances (still weird). but why was it like church to me? i can't explain it, really. i know a little of richard's story, not much. i know he went to union theological seminary for a bit, but it didn't take (he lived in a zen buddhist monastery for a while, too); i know he has a daughter he sings about ("grey green" on vuelta); and i know his songs are just shot through w/ grace. just listen to "transit" sometime, and you'll see what i mean. i have this feeling that i'll sit w/ him in the new jerusalem someday (assuming i make it; he's got his ticket, i'm sure of it) and listen to him play for hours.

so, god met me @ a bar tonight. thanks, richard.


the fast god chooses

so every now and again i fast, and i feel all spiritual and holy. maybe i have soy milk w/ my special k, and i feel pretty good about myself. but today i got slammed by a sermon tim keller preached about isaiah 58:

is not this the fast that i choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house,
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

that stings. not only does my fasting from meat and dairy probably not even strain me very much – esp. in light of the surprisingly authentic tasting veggie dogs @ the vts lunch bar – but i’m not loosing bonds on anybody. ok, so i don’t live in palestine, but i can do more than blog about sabeel; i can most certainly give more than i do to the poor; and i can loose some of the bonds of oppression that i see all around me, even in my own life – oppression by addiction, by materialism, by the past, by the sins of pride, selfishness and lust. once i commit myself to these things,

then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the lord shall be your rearguard.
then you shall call, and the lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say,
here i am.

(quotes from isa. 58.6-9 nrsv)


cowboy comeback

since we live 5 minutes from d.c., i am in a sports no-man's-land. last summer alternated b/tw the "nats" (stupid name; i watched them only when they played atlanta) and the orioles (very good name, but i watched them only when they played the red sox). hockey? forget about it -- caps all the time (i'll watch when they travel to the b's). saturdays? virginia tech (good, but choke in big games, and their new unis suck), uva (boring), maryland (maryland??!?) and navy (it does beat watching rutgers every weekend when we lived in boston). now, every sunday finds me flipping aimlessly through channels featuring the teams that i hate (eagles), i hate more ('skins), or i merely disdain b/c they wear ugly purple and black jerseys and have a strange fixation on lord baltimore's little coat of arms or crest or whatever that thing is (ravens). the only thing worse than the tv coverage is sports radio, which runs the gamut from john thompson and "smokin' al" coken to "riggo." (kornheiser is pretty good.)

oh, how i long for weei!

all that to say this one thing -- it's worth living here and going through sports limbo for a year just to hear the sports talk shows today after the final 3:04 of last night's philadelphia surprise. tee hee!



i've made a particularly close friend here @ vts whose father is director of the palestinian liberation theology center called sabeel. arabic for "the way," sabeel "strives to develop a spirituality based on justice, peace, nonviolence, liberation and reconciliation for the different national and faith communities [and] works to promote a more accurate international awareness regarding the identity, presence, and witness of palestinian christians."

father naim ateek's community forum @ vts last week (conveniently coupled w/ an opportunity to spend time w/ his son and daughter-in-law) was moving and thought-provoking, and i urge you to stop by their website sometime to read fr. ateek's paper on suicide bombers, the call for morally-responsible investment, their response to christian zionism, and maybe even consider becoming a friend of sabeel. i believe it is incumbent upon christians to think and pray through these issues. i know i am, thanks to sari and his father.


john daker

ladies and gentlemen, i give you: john daker. i have no doubt dennis will object that it is staged, but i think it's wonderful nonetheless (especially the beginning of the 2d line of "that's amore"). thanks, brian.


halloween @ vts

my all-time favorite butterfly, kitty cat and red hot chili pepper (in no particular order)
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