Tuesday, September 25, 2007

dressing the part

Walking my dog this morning, I saw a man in a very good suit getting into his banged up old car after leaving his small house, evidently on his way to work. The suit didn't match the car or the house, but I have a feeling it matched the surroundings of the office. And I wonder if the trappings of our corporate culture allow people the daily illusion that their lives are full of richness and elegance. I'll have to think about that some more because of course many people go to soul-deadening jobs and don't see any elegance to it at all, but there's a way in which the swankiness of the surroundings seems at odds with people's lives.

I remember when the company of a friend of mine had their annual holiday party or anniversary party and they had ordered a cake in the shape of the company logo from a fancy bakery--3 dimensional, not just the logo on top. There's something about all this, I can't get my mind around it. There's some seduction going on here, that "in my office I can be rich and elegant" while struggling to make ends meet. There was something about that man leaving his house before it was fully light, carefully wiping off the back windshield without messing up his fabulous suit that made me think that business is offering a fantasy of wealth that makes it hard to recognize where the truth lies.

More on this later, perhaps, as this thought is clearly only partially digested.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Reading Scripture

Of course I've got half an eye on New Orleans where the Archbishop of Canterbury is meeting with the House of Bishops (doesn't everyone?). The article in the Chronicle today sums up the situation as follows: "The Episcopal Church is the Anglican body in the United States and has a more liberal view of Scripture than most Anglicans overseas. Tensions over Bible interpretation erupted in 2003, when Episcopalians consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire." (emphasis my own, of course)

First of all, I find it interesting that your basic secular newspaper a) capitalizes Scripture and b) clearly makes the assumption that by Scripture we mean what many other denominations refer to as the Bible.

Now, secondly, I'm not sure that it is correct to say that the Episcopal Church has a more liberal view of Scripture than others. For one thing, the Episcopal Church does not have a single perspective on Scripture; there are some who read Scripture very literally and narrowly, and others who read Scripture with a particular emphasis on its cultural and historical relevance and place.

For another thing, I'm not sure it's so much a liberal view of Scripture than it is a liberal view of people and issues that then inform the reading of Scripture. Likewise with a conservative view of Scripture: which came first? The reading of Scripture, or the reading of issues?

I'm speaking as a convert, someone who started from a more conservative position and found that the people and issues didn't match the position. I read Scriptures differently because of my understanding of the issues, not because I so much changed the way I read Scriptures.

The most painful thing for me in all of the arguments in the Anglican Communion is the constant refrain that the liberal side of the issues doesn't respect Scripture. Perhaps other things should be more hurtful, but it is this dismissal of my love of Scripture that I find hardest to bear.

Autumn sets in

After the first flurry of the start of the program year, I'm starting to feel the wonderful rhythm of fall, my favorite season of the year. This year, I have the opportunity to do some gardening, an activity I haven't been able to indulge in for at least eight years. I had forgotten what an active season fall is, such a season of promise, as I bought bags of bulbs and prepare to tuck them away until springtime. The whole season of fall seems to suggest digging in. It's not at all a passive season, but it's a season to start when results are still far off and full of potential. And for whatever reason, I feel very good about this year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Paris Dreams

I am going to Paris in a couple of weeks and suddenly it seems that Paris shows up all over the place. Views of Paris, references to Paris, things from Paris. Here I am in my usual cafe having tea and a croissant (and I plan to have tea and a croissant in a cafe every morning I am in Paris) and on the walls are large paintings of scenes of Paris. Were they here before? I have no idea. Perhaps they are not here now, just showing up in my minds eye because I see Paris everywhere. An imaginary city, lurking everywhere.