06 May 2009

This blog and a few words on my perspective

It's been a while since I've had a blog separate from my parish sermon blog, the Blog of the Good Shepherd. I will be using this space to offer brief thoughts about the Gospel, discipleship, and the life of prayer from the perspective of a baptized Christian and Episcopal priest who is committed to following Jesus Christ in the way of Francis of Assisi.

The Latin of the url comes from the Rule of the Franciscan Order (the regula bullata of 1223).

Regula et Vita Minorum Fratrum haec est, scilicet Domini nostri Jesu Christi sanctum Evangelium observare vivendo in obedientia, sine proprio et in castitate.

"The rule and life of the lesser brothers is this, namely to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without anything that is our own, and in chastity."

My own commitment as a member of the Third Order of the Society of Saint Francis is to live the spirit of the evangelical counsels in a way that is consistent with my other vocations as a husband, father, and parish priest. The heart of the matter is evangelium observare, which I have translated as "living the Gospel." Jesus Christ came in the flesh. He suffered and died in the flesh. He rose again in the flesh. Every word and deed of Jesus points us to a new and renewed relationship with God, with our human neighbors, and with all God's creatures. Living the Gospel has to do with accepting everything as God's good gift. By living without anything that is our own, we actually possess everything. The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. And we are set free to participate in God's great act of generosity, both in the creation of the world out of nothing and in the gift of God's Son, who became poor for us.

I believe that we are at a crisis point in the life of the world and that simplicity, sharing, and love must prevail if we are going to live up to our baptismal commitments to our brothers and sisters. As the First Letter of John tells us, you can't love God, whom you don't see, if you don't love the brothers and sisters you do. This love is active. It involves transformed social relationships. In the early Church it led to communal ownership of possessions (see Acts 4). Love cannot be an otherworldly abstraction.

One of the things I am very interested in is how we sustain a pluralistic conversation within the Church and where the boundaries of acceptable pluralism lie. I believe that love leads us to a reverence for our neighbor, even the neighbor with whom we passionately disagree. I disagree with the idea that anything goes. Interesting discussion has arisen lately over the consent process in the episcopal election in Northern Michigan. I count myself as one of those generously (and radically) orthodox Anglicans who wants a real conversation within the broad stream of credal orthodoxy but who does think that the apostolic rule of faith provides real limits on what counts as Christian. For a sermon of mine, on this topic, see my article "Touch me and see," at the Episcopal Cafe.

For a recent effort to articulate what is implied by Generous Orthodoxy (I borrow the phrase from Hans Frei), written by my friend Christopher Evans, and endorsed by a number of inclusive minded Episcopalians, including myself, see "Comprehension in Generous Catholicity."

Instructions for endorsing that statement are provided near the bottom, as is the list of current endorsers.

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