Friday, January 28, 2011

Liturgy: The Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

It's a little cliche, but I'm inclined to think that the greatest philosopher the world has yet seen is St. Thomas Aquinas, that brilliant fat man. Today, in the liturgical calendar, is his feast. His thoughts, along with Aristotle's have been one of the strongest influences on my own philosophy. I encourage all of you to read him, or at least read about him, and may your minds be lifted up to God. In the words of the liturgy for today's feast:

Almighty God, you have enriched your Church with the singular learning and holiness of your servant Thomas Aquinas: Enlighten us more and more, we pray, by the disciplined thinking and teaching of Christian scholars, and deepen our devotion by the example of saintly lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Life/Philosophy/Theology: Why I am a Vegetarian

Yes, for those of you who don't know, I am now a vegetarian. It's something I've considered before, and rejected. Rejected because I didn't want to be a burden to my family. But now I'm on my own, and it's a real possibility.

But why do it?

There's many reasons to give up meat - health, protesting the killing of animals, the price of meat, the desire to feel superior to others, etc.

I suppose there's a mix of all of those in my decision, but there are two specific things I wanted to share.

First, there is the matter of respect for life. Of all of the things in God's creation, life is perhaps the most incredible. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with killing and eating animals, but I do think it needs to be done with respect. I don't think we do that anymore. We've industrialized the consumption of animals, and have thereby turned life into pure product. I think this is a problem, and I've chosen, as much as I can, not to participate in it.

Of course, there's a certain hypocrisy here, since plants are also life, and I do continue to consume them.

I have further chosen to make the giving up of meat into fast dedicated to God, and thereby a prayer. We typically think of prayer in mental terms, and that's a very important part of prayer, but it isn't everything. God is the creator of matter as well as thought, and just as we can direct thoughts to Him, we can direct actions. A little bit of discipline is a good thing in a life, and I have dedicated this discipline to God.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Liturgy: Two Meditations on Epiphany

Today is the Feast of Epiphany. As Fred Clark over at Slacktivist pointed out, this seems like a strange name for a holiday. How does one schedule an epiphany? The answer is that epiphany, in this sense, does not mean precisely deep revelation in the sense it means today. Rather, it derives from a term which signified the appearance of a god to men. Thus, Christ's appearance and His revelation as the incarnate Deity was an epiphany. Of course, it was also an epiphany in the current sense, since in Christ "dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily"(Colossians 2:9)  and so the mystery of God was made known to the world. Here are some meditations on what this glorious day symbolizes.

The Suffering of Job

Job is a confusing book. All to often, individuals try to reduce it to a theodicy - an explanation of why there is suffering in the world, but I think it resists that move. Job's friends and the youth Elihu offer explanations of Job's suffering, but then God shows up... and He doesn't give an answer. He says, "hey Job, I'm God, I made stuff."

It's awfully confusing.

Fred Clark, who is perhaps one of my favorite bloggers, recently did a post about Epiphany. In that post, he discusses an idea that God learned something from His incarnation. As often with Clark, I disagreed with his primary premise, but he made a very interesting connection in his post I don't think I ever would have made.

Job suffered, and God appeared. Yet, despite His revelation He remains mysterious, He doesn't give an answer to Job's suffering.

Then God became man, Jesus died on the Cross, and Job's suffering was answered.

The Last Shall Be First 

One of the events celebrated on Epiphany is the the visit of the Magi. Three wise men from faraway lands came, and bowed before the baby Jesus, demonstrating His kingship, the manifestation of God to men. Wealthy men came from faraway lands and bowed before the Nazarene son of a carpenter. The poorest of the poor lifted up above all mankind.

Truly, the last shall be first.

Life: Back in the Saddle

Life has been a bit crazy lately, mostly in a good way. On December 10th I hoped on a plane, flew to England and had an absolutely amazing time with some of the coolest people in the world, in addition to finding out a lot of very useful information about going to seminary there. I did end up getting stuck stranded for four extra days by the snow, but that's not really so bad (and got to fly back first class as a bonus).

When I got back home, I very quickly had to move out in order to live closer to campus (I'm having to live without a car now), and classes have now started for me. 

All that to explain my absence. I'm back now, though, and have a new piece in the works. I've also got something special lined up. Tune in .