Monday, December 17, 2007

Various and Sundry....

Over the last two weeks I've been planning on blogging about a number of topic. Alas, December being the most hectic month at my home, I've decided to just touch on each of these topics, however briefly, with the express intention of expanding on each of them over the next month. I promise. Really, I mean it this time. Here they are, in no particular order of importance but the order in which I will comment about them:

  1. Liturgical practice as understood by a Pentecostal theologian and its relation to worship in the church.
  2. A critique (and edited version by yours truly) of Martin Luther's "A Simple Way to Pray".
  3. A discussion of praying the "hours".
  4. A plug for, and discussion of, the movie "Into Great Silence".
  5. An interesting article from The Journal of Lutheran Ethics about the "Greeley Principle" and the role of the Lutheran Church for post moderns.
So, off we go...

Liturgical Practice via Pentecostal Theology:
I came across this link from some other blog (can't remember where now) and was impressed with comments about liturgy like this:

The traditional liturgy doesn't exist primarily to foster interpersonal relationships. It operates on a very different paradigm. In the liturgy we are, in a very real sense, objectively recognizing God for who he is. And in the midst of proclaiming who God is, we encounter God. At the end of the day, we may not be particularly drawn toward individuals, but in a good liturgy, we are drawn to God. We recognize him for who he is.

Now that's really about as good as it gets. When describing liturgy for those who might not understand liturgical whys and where fores, one could not do much better (and probably worse) than to use that quote as a staring point.

A Simple Way to Pray:
Again, I'm not sure how I came across this, or even why but Luther's advice to his barber on how one might pray has all the earmarks of Luther's writing for the laity: Simple, straightforward, folksy and practical without being childish or corny or trite. All the versions I found on the web were html only and the formating was, well, let's just say it left something to be desired. So I spent some time doing a little formating and editing to make it easier for me to read (see sidebar on the right). I hope it is helpful for you.

Praying the Hours:
I'm not quite there yet, but God willing, I'll get to a point where I am at least praying the hours in the morning and night; more than that will be frosting on the cake. Why would I want to do this? Well, the subtitle of my blog states the reason fairly well: fuller communion with Christ (God). I've come to realize that two activities are essential for a Christian who wants to be more than superficially religious: Reading Scripture and prayer. The former has not been much of a problem; the latter has. So I'm trying to start slowly (maybe with the help of Brother Martin) in this activity. Currently I'm using this link for the daily readings and Psalms. There is a beautiful Lutheran breviary by Phillip Pfatteicher called The Daily Prayer of the Church and it's a wonderful book. However, it's a tad intimidating so I'll wait to buy that when I'm ready.

Into Great Silence:

If you are religious of the liturgical bent then you must see this movie about the Carthusian monastery "La Grande Chartruse" and the monks who live and work and pray there. There is a reason why it has garnered so much praise (both religious and non-religious). First, it's visually stunning; parts are filmed in high definition film that are so clear it makes your jaw drop. There are montages that convey so much symbolism I've had to watch it twice to digest even half of the meaning. Second, the life these monks live is really awe inspiring, (I can't say I would want to live this way my whole life but I do feel a pull towards this type of quite life). These monks really are God's athletes. Third, their devotion to prayer is quite motivational. And I need all the motivation I can get.

The "Greeley Principle":
Follow the link above to an article by David L. Miller about how the Lutheran Church has dropped the ball in the role it should be playing in regards to our spiritual growth. He brings up a number of good points that I will tease out in a later post (I promise) but please pay attention to his assertion that contrary to what some in the church believe, there is a strong desire to know and experience the transcendent which is proved by the number of "spirituality" books one can see in bookstore or the ubiquitous Wayne Dyer that comes on once or twice a year when public television wants money. The church is ready made (by definition) to show people that this is indeed possible and the church has the way. But read it for yourself.

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