Saturday, September 24, 2011

Homecoming

I brought my little camera but have not yet figured out how to transfer pictures from it to the iPad, but I am working on it...when I remember to get it out of Buddy's car. An interesting photo essay may follow shortly :-)

One verbal post from the McCallie headmaster after the Blue Tornado put the scare into Baylor (boo!) School for Boys and Girls, coming back from a 31-7 deficit at half time and falling short in a final push in the last minute to end 34-28: "I could have been a little bit happier but not any prouder."




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Location:the Ridge

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Being Faithful at Vanderbilt

There is a lot of craziness right now about religion at Vanderbilt. Here are two examples:

From the students' perspective, the bigger event is the "Tailgate Evangelism" video. It seems that everyone has seen it. It consists of about 10 minutes of drive-by viewing of frat row before a football game this fall. There is commentary by the passengers on the iniquity that they are witnessing. Eventually those in the car start broadcasting their thoughts to the revelers. One young party goer was gracious enough to invite the "evangelists" to come party. I doubt that any hearts were moved closer to a commitment to Christ.

The other situation is more serious and more complicated. It is all "lawyer driven" and couched in policies. Somehow from this legal and policy perspective, Bible studies embody discrimination on campus but not rush. Go figure.

Anyhow, I am used to craziness and am not too concerned about either situation.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mercy

Mercy is the key to the mystery of humanity. Christians proclaim a merciful and humble God because we have to. There is no other way to make it through the day. There are so many different theories of how to make things right, and yet there is only one that works: mercy. When we complain about suffering, God replies that He has suffered too...for us. When we struggle under the weight of sin, He takes it away.

We can always show mercy. We can bow down as He did, retaining not a shred of human respectability. Even our sins become essential in the proclamation of the triumph of God's mercy because how else would we come to know His mercy but for our need of it?

So relax and lighten up on all the straining after perfection in yourself and in the world: mercy makes sense of the world and of life -- but it takes humility.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Musings on St. Philip's Heart

I started a post about a month ago that I put away and found again. Here is a paragraph from it:

"A much better story of the heart is that of St. Philip Neri's heart. As Pentecost drew near in 1544, St. Philip was praying in the catacomb of St. Sebastian, as he did for long stretches of time, when he experienced a fireball entering his mouth and settling in his heart. Divine charity had hunted down St. Philip's heart, which literally expanded and broke his ribs! St. Philip's heart had no trouble loving. I want a heart like that. But mine is too selfish and unloving."

Loving or unloving: the choice of the heart. St. Philip chose to love. This choice made him love-able by God in this remarkable way. It also made him love-able by all those people who flocked to him. But the choice to love came first and then was perfected by being loved more.

Today, I choose love. I will do so only imperfectly, but I will not wait to love perfectly. If I do choose love, I will be loved perfectly by God -- and imperfectly by others. I will be hunted down for love. Here is another quote from that unpublished post:

"Our hearts are made for loving. They are not made for not loving, although we can use them that way if we choose to. But they are not happy not loving. Hearts don't really know what to do with not loving. I remember the title (and not much else) of one of those strange unhappy books they had us read in high school: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Anyhow, that title seems to me to be so strange in that it misses the point of the heart: to love."

I need to let my heart be hunted rather than to hunt. I must choose this. There are two wonderful poems that I can think of that make this point. One is Donne's holy sonnet Batter my heart, three person'd God. Go read it. Along with classic over-the-top Donne imagery, the poet portrays reason as a weak and treacherous viceroy who obstructs the king of love entering his domain of the heart. The other poem is Francis Thompson's The Hound of Heaven. It is a much wordier and more tortured (yes, even more than Donne) poem, but here is how it ends with God the hunting hound speaking to the hunted narrator: "Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me." Choosing to love really does make us as vulnerable as a hunted animal. But vulnerable to being loved!

St. Philip has it right. Sit still and love God. Another name for that is prayer. You are much more likely to be hit by a fire ball of charity that way! It is really possible to resist the love of God and the love of others, even in our reason. That makes for an unhappy story. But when we give over our will to love, watch out!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

College Life

Vanderbilt won it's opening game last night. Even though it was stiflingly hot until almost the end of the game, I toughed it out! There were great fireworks at the end. Let's keep hoping that the much proclaimed new era is here under Coach Franklin. I will be there for the UConn game, for sure.

Anyhow, almost as interesting as the game for me are all of the cultural trappings, which at Vanderbilt take on a unique appearance. I was so happy to be walking over to the game with two of our FOCUS missionaries -- Elizabeth and Jerome. This was the first Vanderbilt football experience for both of them. Each of them has expressed to me a desire to find a way to propose Jesus Christ on fraternity row. I thought that they should see what they would be up against so we walked to the stadium down Kensington past the pre-game parties of KA, LKA, SN, ZBT, ATO, PDT, and last but definitely not least SAE -- I wish that I had a Greek font! At the game, we were right next to the student section so there was more to see!

It was not really a pretty sight -- beyond all the sun dresses! But what really struck me was the thought that had this been 1981, rather than 2011, Elizabeth and Jerome would have seen me in that crowd; and it would not have been a pretty sight either! I kept thinking what my student leaders would have thought of me at their age! From my perspective as chaplain, I see what is wrong in the picture; but maybe I can help Elizabeth and Jerome to reach out because as ugly as it is, there is something spiritual driving at least part of that mayhem. I remember it.

It is a funny balance to strike. Would that they not be like me then -- but how did I get here but from there? I was at the game in my clerics, of course, but proudly wearing my sorority stickers!

1st UCat priest

Fr. Josh Altonji and some UCat friends in Birmingham!

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