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Showing posts from April, 2012

2 anxieties

During the course of my reading this last term, I came across a really great article.  You know, the kind of article that makes you say, Dang, I wish I had written that.   The title of the article is "Facing the Abyss: Hans Urs von Balthasar's Reading of Anxiety."  I didn't even know Hans (my main theologian for doctoral studies) was into anxiety!  Well, I thought I would share a few of the thoughts that the author of the article, Anthony Cirelli, brings to the topic.  I wish I had said these things, but I didn't.  All credit to Hans and Tony.

To summarize, Balthasar suggests that anxiety happens because of the void between infinite divine freedom and finite human freedom.  Anxiety in the Old Testament occurs in two distinct ways. On the one hand, it occurs when one turns away from God, only to be greeted by the torturous and searing loneliness and meaninglessness of life apart from God.  On the other hand, anxiety is experienced when one is approached by God, as…

rules of improv

I was watching the show Celebrity Apprentice last week (artificially created, overly dramatic reality tv, I know, but it has its moments) and on that particular episode the teams had to perform in an improv puppet show (for adults) with members of The Jim Henson Company.  Interesting stuff.  The cameras followed the team through puppet-making, improv lessons, and learning how to be part of a live show.  Of course, the most fascinating part for me was seeing professionals (and amateurs) do improvisational theatre.

The rules of improv are pretty simple.  Don't think up a scene ahead of time; instead, be in the moment and react to what is happening.  You don't have to be funny; place the emphasis on creating an interesting scene and a consistent character; funny will follow.  Be specific and avoid open-ended questions which add nothing; vague questions end up putting the burden on your team members to carry the scene.  Make your team members look good; this invariably makes the …

tyrant

I have been reading An Unquenchable Thirst by Mary Johnson, which is a memoir of her 20 years as a sister in the Missionaries of Charity (the order founded by Mother Teresa).  Like all monastic orders, the MC's have a Rule which governs the life of those dedicated to its mission, and this Rule is based on vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience.   Poverty can mean anything from no curtains to changing where you sleep every month.  At the heart of this vow is Mother Teresa's insistence that one not forget the poor.  Chastity is interpreted as not touching another person, avoiding particular friendships, and embracing virginity.  Here, the primacy is put on intimacy with Jesus instead of with another person.  Obedience means that the voice of your superior is the voice of God; this is meant to teach submission to the Absolute.  As Mother Teresa often says, "Let God use you without consulting you."

Rules are funny things.  While they are meant to convey the practical a…

did you call me?

For one of my courses this semester, I have been reading a lot of Paul Ricoeur, a French philosopher.  I am the first to admit that reading Ricoeur is not for the faint of heart.  Fortunately, the long, arduous road through his philosophical meanderings proved to be totally worth it when I got to the last two articles.  One of them was called, "The Summoned Subject in the School of the Narratives of the Prophetic Vocation."  One of the sections in this article explores the topic of vocation.  I pulled out some of his points and fleshed out the ideas for a short talk last Sunday.  Though Ricoeur is using Old Testament prophets as an example, I believe these principles apply to us all.

Before I get into Ricoeur's points, let me offer a brief explanation of the term, "vocation."  This word carries a sense of "spiritual calling," and has its root in the same word as "voice."  Much more than a career path one chooses, a vocation is a call that on…