Friday, October 31, 2014

Stanley Hauerwas in a mournful sermon on Reformation Day in 1995:
Protestants look over to Christian tradition and say, ‘How much of this do we have to believe in order to remain identifiably Christian?’ That’s the reason why Protestants are always tempted to rationalism: we think that Christianity is to be identified with sets of beliefs more than with the unity of the Spirit occasioned through sacrament.  
Moreover, once Christianity becomes reduced to a matter of belief, as it clearly has for Protestants, we cannot resist questions of whether those beliefs are as true or useful as other beliefs we also entertain. Once such questions are raised, it does not matter what the answer turns out in a given case. As James Edwards observes, “Once religious beliefs start to compete with other beliefs, then religious believers are — and will know themselves to be — mongerers of values. They too are denizens of the mall, selling and shopping and buying along with the rest of us.” 
There are quite a few problems elsewhere in Hauerwas' sermon. But in the spirit of this section and in the spirit of Christian unity on this day that celebrates disunion, I'll leave aside the other parts.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dealing with the past

Henry Brown, a slave from Richmond:
The next day, I stationed myself by the side of the road, along which the slaves, amounting to three hundred and fifty, were to pass. The purchaser of my wife was a Methodist minister, who was about starting for North Carolina. Pretty soon five waggon-loads of little children passed, and looking at the foremost one, what should I see but a little child, pointing its tiny hand towards me, exclaiming, “There’s my father; I knew he would come and bid me good-bye.” It was my eldest child! Soon the gang approached in which my wife was chained. I looked, and beheld her familiar face; but O, reader, that glance of agony! may God spare me ever again enduring the excruciating horror of that moment! She passed, and came near to where I stood. I seized hold of her hand, intending to bid her farewell; but words failed me; the gift of utterance had fled, and I remained speechless. I followed her for some distance, with her hand grasped in mine, as if to save her from her fate, but I could not speak, and I was obliged to turn away in silence.
I used to read these kinds of stories as though they happened in some distant and entirely alien civilization.  And in so many ways the past is just that. But I'm finding each year that the past crowds in on me more. It may be past but its echoes are not yet gone.

Sometimes my students ask me questions that run something like this: "When did America fix racism?"

I wish I could assign Ta-Nehisi Coates' "The Case for Reparations" in response. It is absolutely worth your time, no matter what you think about the idea of reparations.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Father Glenn in his sermon for Trinity XVI:
 ...none of us can enter into the other person’s interior life no matter how much we love one another, no matter how much we wish to know one another, no matter how much we wish to be known – it is simply impossible. This is how we are created; it is not a matter of the sin or the fall, it is a matter of being human, of being a living soul. What is a matter of the sin, sickness is what we have lost: That there was a time when there was no loneliness in the world. Once there was a time when man’s interior life was filled with sweet communion between him and his Creator. (What is impossible for man is possible with God.) But now all that remains is God’s omniscient presence, which is the theologian’s way to say that God is everywhere. So yes, God is in my soul by definition, but the knowledge of God’s presence without Christ is the experience of ultimate judgment not of mercy and peace. But in the beginning there was no loneness. In the beginning God and man shared a communion of love in which man was known and cherished inside and out by his Creator. But our communion of love with our Creator was lost in the fall and man experienced himself as thrown and alone in the world. This loneliness still lingers in us till we come to Jesus the Messiah. 

Read the rest here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

An Hilarious Health Care Story

My insurance provider, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, won't cover some bloodwork I had done because they think I am still covered by my previous insurance provider... Anthem HealthKeepers.

So Anthem BlueCross BlueShield is trying to force Anthem HealthKeepers to pay for the bloodwork. And, somehow, they have no way to verify in-house that I am not actually covered by Anthem HealthKeepers anymore.

So I, hilariously, have to get my employer to get Anthem HealthKeepers to send ME a letter to verify when my coverage with them ended. I then have to send that letter TO Anthem BlueCross BlueShield.

And they say health care is inefficient.


It gets hilariouser.

Anthem BlueCross BlueShield doesn't even have the phone number for Anthem HealthKeepers.

"You'll have to Google that," she said.

So I did, and I called the number listed on the HealthKeepers website.


Which turns out to be the number for Anthem BlueCross BlueShield.


So much hilarious.

Anthem BlueCross BlueShield fowarded me to the wrong HealthKeepers company ("We are Legion Anthem, for we are many" amirite?) who then gave me a phone number to call that was supposed to the right HealthKeepers company.

But that turned out to be an air conditioning company.