Easter Eve Saturday: Celtic - Barbarians ‘R’ Us

My tribe is in decline, our clans fragmented. Perhaps we will offer salt and yeast in the next ‘Dark Ages’ of deconstruction before reconstruction. We might still trust with passion and compassion that it’s worthwhile trying to share what’s true and good and beautiful about humanity and divinity. We might try to represent the best of both.

Will our children have faith? Probably the better question, as Brueggemann turned it around, is ‘Will our faith have children?’ God knows and hasn’t told me. What word do you have for our hearts, give us ears to hear.

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Good Friday: Orthodox - Byzantine solutions

On this Good Friday, at the end of Lent, pause to wonder at the meaning of ‘orthodox’ and ‘heretic’. We have challenged the claim of any one true set of cognitive propositions as ‘orthodoxy’. If power is the capacity to effect or resist change, and religion can inform and express desirable change, then we have to confess our sins of abuse of power

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Maundy Thursday: Roman - Constantine’s Conversion and Christendom

Did the Roman Christians convert the barbarian pagans, or did the engagement with those tribes change the centre of gravity of the western church? From a Coptic point of view, the imperial shift to Constantinople veered away from the apostolic origins of the faith. Some would say that the church split every 500 years: Copts at 500, Orthodox at 1000, Protestants at 1500. Phyllis Tickle and others would say we’re due another.

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Wednesday of Holy Week: Coptic - African and Asian

Our co-religionists in Asia and Africa have coexisted for 2 millennia outside the religious arrangements of the Orthodox or Byzantine, the medieval and Tridentine Roman, and the European Protestant communions. In our own unfamiliar post-Constantinian, post-modern era, we find ‘heretics like us’. Their history of co-existence with Islam since the 7th century may instruct our own better adjustment to our 21st century.

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Tuesday of Holy Week: Martyred - Persecuted, not Perfected 

This remains a devotional, parochial Lenten study.  I do not seek to meet the standards of the academy.  I do look forward to scholars doing their job of historiography, to retell these stories in our generation.  Nor do I set out to speak in the ecclesiastical episcopal voice setting the boundaries between ‘us’ and ‘them’.  I am inviting ‘heretics like us’ to reconsider our neighbours and their commitments to resist or effect changes in their home communities and, when forced to migrate, in our shared home here. 

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Monday of Holy Week: Jewish or Christian or Muslim 

In the seventh century, those who followed Muhammad, as part of the new ummah, and those who remained good Jewish and Christian neighbours, reworked their faith life.  Yemen was a Jewish nation, and Mecca and Medina included established Jewish and Christian communities.  Arabs read the shared myths of Genesis, and traditions of Abraham and Ishmael as origin legends for clans and tribes, their own and others.

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Lent: Day 34 of 40 - Benedict

Choices to put assets into charitable trusts resisting the claims of governments are made by Bill Gates and other billionaires, as a flip side to their corporate interests inflating their private interests beyond the control of the same governments. They keep control, by naming beneficiaries. Social entrepeneurship is hardly a new Benedictine Rule but our trust law is rooted in these old orders.

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Lent: Day 32 of 40 - Gregory

Gregory won in the west, in his lifetime, and left a legacy for ages to follow. Ironically, when he was 30, Mohamed was born, the beginning of a new age that would sweep over the east, through northern Africa, and into the same Iberian peninsula Gregory had coaxed into Trinitarian Roman orbit.

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Lent: Day 31 of 40 - Justinian

Justinian is not remembered for his wife, a dancer or ‘courtesan’ 20 years his junior, whom he picked up at a circus performance – but for a legal code, Corpus Juris Civilum, which is a key basis for modern civil law in Europe and in the province of Quebec. He didn’t write it, or anything else – he was a politician, good at administration, more than flighty theories.

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Lent: Day 30 of 40 - Boethius

We live in an anti-intellectual age, and in an anti-institutional culture, with a smug consensus dismissing our theological heritage and religious traditions. Our glib liberal assumptions about ‘progress’ are barbaric, in relegating all old things to the trash, while valorizing ‘novelty’ as our greatest virtue. Degenerate elites, who purport to be the legitimate heirs and successors of our culture, but serve only themselves, are worse.

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Lent: Day 29 of 40 - Clovis and Clothilde

Clovis king of Franks, and Clothilde queen of Burgundy, made a marriage and an alliance against neighbouring tribes such as the Allemani. Her terms included his acceptance of a Trinitarian catholic faith rather than holding firm to his Arian origins. This is a crucial turn in making what we call France as a regional nation and people rooted in ‘Frankish’ tribes – and shaping other roots echoed in the French name for Germany, ‘Allemagne’. Clovis was baptized 1500 years ago. How has ‘Christianization’ gone so far

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Lent: Day 28 of 40 - Patrick

What if West Indian, Asian and African immigrants to Canada, whose Protestant roots were nurtured by colonial missionaries of the 19th century, are offering us the focus we’ve lost in our modern ‘establishment’ age?  Perhaps our welcome of ‘intercultural ministry’ will save our souls!

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Lent: Day 27 of 40 - Cyril of Alexandria

Can you recognize that pattern anywhere around you in our world or our century? I do, as leaders of ‘free world’ nations champion individual consumer culture and defend our privilege and wealth in the name of ‘Judeo-Christian values’. Those leaders in religion, business and politics, over-schooled and under-educated products of the multiversity, with no memory deeper than the last annual report, and no hope beyond the next quarter, destroy us.

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Lent: Day 26 of 40 - Nestorius

The eastern school of Antioch had always preferred a cruder incarnation in flesh to the sophistry of Alexandrian abstractions of ‘logos’. Rather than deriding the biological implausibility of virgin birth, we might do better to try to ask why people keep this Marian piety alive in their understanding of divinity, and of humanity.

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Lent: Day 25 of 40 - Pelagius

The moral majority, or values voters, who rate individual personal responsibility and choice high, with room for God as a helper rather than a saviour and regenerator or our depraved and degenerate condition, are Pelagian. Many of our ‘conservative’ contemporaries are ‘liberal Pelagians’.

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Lent: Day 24 of 40 - Augustine

Augustine’s Confessions are popular as an early psychodrama of the individual ego struggling with concupiscence and virtue. Baptised by Ambrose, he tried monasticism, but became bishop of Hippo (now Algeria) for nearly 40 years, as Vandals surrounded and ultimately sacked the city. (The Vandals get a bad rap as a by-word for plunder and theft – they may not have been worse than the Roman exploiters of Hippo).

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