lundi, janvier 25, 2016

Is schism ahead for the Anglican Communion?

In spite of its move to punish the shrinking (yet relatively wealthy) Episcopal Church for gay-ordination and marriage-advocacy, and a symbolic attempt at unity as the Canterbury gathering ended, thunderclouds are on the horizon for the Anglican Communion.

mardi, janvier 12, 2016

In 2016, PA politicians, advocacy groups remain divided over refugee/immigrant issues

dimanche, janvier 03, 2016

"Augustine": Robin Lane Fox's extraordinary biography (my review in the Philadelphia Inquirer)

mardi, décembre 29, 2015

"Vatican Prophecies": a primer on miracles, exorcisms, apparitions and other supernatural phenomena

An interview with  writer John Thavis, an expert Vaticanista who takes us behind closed doors as the Holy See looks into testimonials from the four corners of the world, employing medical experts, skeptics, theologians and an army of experts to decide whether these occurences are illusions - or miracles.

vendredi, décembre 25, 2015

And strangely fell our Christmas Day

To-night ungather'd let us leave
      This laurel, let this holly stand:
      We live within the stranger's land,
And strangely falls our Christmas-eve.
Our father's dust is left alone
      And silent under other snows:
      There in due time the woodbine blows,
The violet comes, but we are gone.
No more shall wayward grief abuse
      The genial hour with mask and mime;
      For change of place, like growth of time,
Has broke the bond of dying use.
Let cares that petty shadows cast,
      By which our lives are chiefly proved,
      A little spare the night I loved,
And hold it solemn to the past.
Alfred Lord Tennyson In Memoriam CV

It wasn't until I escaped the house late this afternoon and strolled towards the elementary school across the street that I finally felt a sense of peace settle over me.

Grey light (there had been just a few breaks of sunshine throughout the day) erased the line between afternoon and dusk.   The rain which had come down intermittently throughout the day made the ground soft under my feet. At the end of the school driveway, several people (I couldn't distinguish teenager from adult) tossed a ball back and forth between them.

As evening came on swiftly, I found myself almost alone on the path, yet more at home than I would have been in a house full of people.

Christmas is tough, harder this year than in many past, and there have been numerous challenging ones. For years, after the death of my brother and then, in swift succession, my mom, it was almost impossible to rejoice.

The birth of my two children allowed space in which to construct a few family traditions - the creche, the simple ornaments my mother had lovingly collected, the huge tree which sat in our brownstone music room replaced by a less spacious, ambitious pine.

But a marriage also provides a ready-made family.  In the years since the kid's dad and I separated, we have maintained a husk of those traditions - but what we have lost, perhaps what we never had, is the joint effort, the spiritual anchor, that binds a family celebration together.

The holiday also raises a host of discomfiting questions - why don't we fit in anywhere? Who are our friends? Where is our "tribe"? If I was less of a loner..if I had joined the HSA...if I was a more conventional Christian, if I volunteered more...

I want my little family to be desired, to be desirable - never an object of someone's second thought. At the same time, I know that there are many like us who, for whatever reason, whether it's a lack of local family, divorce, or unconventional lifestyles, don't fit the boxes.

I have a feeling that my son will find his tribe.  There is a cost for patrolling the periphery, as an old friend who used to work at the Inquirer used to call it - and I often don't think it's worth the cost.

At the same time, walking by the cars lined up in the subdivision a few blocks away, the aroma of Christmas dinners perfuming the damp air, lights twinkling in the fast-growing darkness of this winter season, after a challenging day in which we skated on thin ice, an afternoon which could have been a catastrophe...I reclaimed the mantle of the solitary observer stalking the habitat of those who find solace in each other's company.

Equivocal comfort indeed. But for tonight, it would probably have to do.

lundi, décembre 14, 2015

That day I had "the talk" with my son

In a time of terror and anti-Muslim rage, this mom, a Christian of Jewish heritage, had a frank conversation with her son, a teenager in high school. If they attack your Muslim friends, you must stand up and defend them, I said.

jeudi, novembre 26, 2015

Keeping the faith in an anxious American moment

A conversation with University of Pennsylvania chaplain Chaz Howard about fear, gratitude, new generations, and how this Thanksgiving differs from the norm.