Monday, March 26, 2007

Make Me Think

I've been nominated for a Thinking Blogger Award by Christian Husband, Recovering Soul, and Therese In Heaven. I'm truly flattered, and honored that folks like that count me as thoughtful. But, since, the protocol of the award is such that I'm not supposed to nominate the people who nominate me, I'd better hurry up and get this posted, while I still have some folks left whom I can nominate. . .

Here are the rules pertaining to the Thinking Blogger Award:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. (Optional) Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.

See, all three of the folks who tagged me are folks whom I'd be happy, even eager, to tag. XH challenges me all the time to think through what I believe, and be able to articulate it to someone who might not share all of my prior assumptions. RS and Therese are an absolute breath of fresh air in blog-world for their commitment to their marriage, and for their determination to tell the truth about the real nature of marital infidelity. But, according to the protocols, I'm not supposed to nominate any of them. So, let's see if I can come up with five nominees without them. . .

1. FTN. His was the first blog I followed regularly. His newer readers might not even know that he started his blog to talk about his commitment to stay out of porn and masturbation, but that's how I met him - while surfing for some not-too-grody porn (ahem!). FTN, my friend, you challenged me to do better, and for that I thank you. Over the last year or so, you've also become a good friend. And for that, I thank you even more.

2. Flutterby. She blogs very poignantly about her own interior life and struggles, but I would nominate her for a TBA on the strength of her comments on FTN's Blogger Bible Study alone. She brings some amazing insights to the table in that one. . .

3. Different Kind of Girl. OK, technically, her name includes the prefix, 'For a'; lots of folks call her FADKOG, but that seems a little too 'Rage-Against-the-Machine-ish' for me. I hardly knew her before we spent a week together in FTN's Real Blogger World House, but I've come to know her for a real kickass friend. She writes very well about daily-life, marriage-and-family stuff, which means we share a fair bit of turf. It's been a pleasure gettin' to know ya, DKG.

4. Emily. Another RBWH veteran, altho I'd known her for a while before that. She's another blogger with a real ear for the poignant in human life. Sometimes her posts just break my heart, but she's a woman of real substance, and the integrity with which she comes at her life is highly admirable.

5. Finished Last. He's only become one of my regular reads in the last few months, but I really appreciate his posts. He's brutally honest with himself; I'm sure he's a very poor liar, and I mean that in the most complimentary sense. I must be drawn to poignant blogs; his definitely falls under that description, too. Anybody who has Charlie Brown for his icon deserves some kind of attention. . .

I want to make a couple of honorable-mention shout-outs - first to KJ, who started my blog for me nearly a year ago; she's not blogging anymore, but I wish her well (and her husband, and their marriage), wherever she is, and whatever she's up to. Also O272 (yet another RBWH vet), who still technically has a blog, but seems to have gone on hiatus. She was the master (mistress?) of the incisive question, and I always looked forward to her comments.

Gee, that wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Thanks again to the folks who tagged me - I sincerely mean it when I say I'm flattered. And those of you whom I tagged - YOU'RE IT!


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

An old hymn, from the 4th-century Liturgy of St. James (translated from Greek into English by Gerard Moultrie):

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Let all mortal flesh keep silence
And in fear and trembling stand.
Ponder nothing earthly-minded,
For with blessing in His hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood.
Lord of lords in human vesture,
In the body and the blood.
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of Heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of Hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six-winged seraph;
Cherubim with sleepless eye
Veil their faces to the Presence
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia, Lord Most High!


Friday, March 2, 2007

Holy Shit

And [Jesus] told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Let it alone for one more year, sir, while I hoe it and manure it. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, cut it down.” (Luke 13:6-9)


It being Lent, I am in a ‘penitential’ frame of mind – taking a ‘spiritual inventory’ of my life, and trying, with God’s help, to address areas of weakness and sin. This Parable of the Fig Tree has always had a certain poignancy to me.

There are many ways in which this parable has been interpreted over the centuries, but I’ve always tended to read it as though the fig tree is me, and my life. And I ask myself, have I borne fruit? When my Master comes to me, does He find the fruit that He’s looking for?

And I get a certain chuckle from the last couple verses. Loosely re-translated (call it the DJV – Desmond Jones Version), the vinedresser (the Holy Spirit?) says, “Let me whack on it and throw some shit on it, and see if it bears fruit.” And I get a wry smile at the metaphorical notion that our lives become more fruitful when we get some shit thrown on us. Maybe we get humbler, as the ‘shit’ that comes our way breaks down our pride. Maybe we finally begin to address some weakness or character flaw when the ‘shit’ that gets thrown at us makes it apparent. Mother Theresa said that ‘there is no spiritual growth without suffering’, and whether she had this parable in mind or not, this is essentially how I tend to understand her. Throwing some shit on my garden makes it more fruitful; is it possible that the ‘shit’ that gets thrown at me has an analogous effect on my spiritual life?

And, I look at the shit that’s come our way over the last few years, and I hope so. . .