I want to add another book to discuss from time to time, as it works itself out. This one is Broken Lights and Mended Lives; Theology and Common Life in the Early Church by Rowan A. Greer. The author was on the faculty of Yale Divinity School and an ordained Anglican priest. Learning about the faith and practice of the early Church can be of benefit. I realize that we cannot copy their faith, or their practice, because their world was far different from the one we inhabit. However the young Church was a vital one, full of the excitement of something new which they felt to the depth of their being.
Greer’s book is a reflection of this. Today I would like to consider the direction Greer wants to take us, showing what he wants to do, and how he intends to do it. He talks about this in the first page of the Preface where he says
the only thesis of the book is that theology in the early Church was always directly or indirectly concerned with the common life of Christians. From one point of view theologians attempted to put into words the corporate experience of the Church. The Christian story, continuously repeated in the reading of Scripture and in the liturgy, found its focus for the Fathers of the Church in the victorious Christ, the new humanity. …. From another perspective the Fathers sought to use their ideology to explain and to shape the everyday life of Christians. To study the dialogue between theology and common life is to realize … that no broad thesis is possible save to argue that there was a persistent concern with the dialogue.
Now — just for a comment: If we would stop and think about the possibility of prayerfully considering and meditating on the above quotation. Perhaps I’m being far too simplistic, but it seems to me to hold tremendous power and possibility. Are we in our theological considerations attempting to put into words what it is that is happening as we repeat again and again our ancient Scriptures and conduct the liturgy in worship services? How is the victory of Christ happening today in our services? How is humanity being made whole? And just how is this affecting our common life? I have a feeling that we need to consistently talk to each other, in our churches, about what we believe is shaping our life together. We need to find some intentional ways of doing this. Greer, at this point is not doing this. It is my own idea.
He goes ahead to explain his approach by saying that he treats the Fathers of the Church sympathetically. He does this by attempting to enter into and imagine the world of the early Christians on its own terms. He also states clearly that he himself is a convinced Christian. Therefore he admits that he is not an impartial observer, and thus not totally objective in his study.
It may seem that I’m spending too much time on explaining his approach. But the remainder of the book cannot be properly understood without this understanding. In the next posting about Greer’s work, I want to explore this further.
Chicago happens to be one of my favorite cities. One of the reasons I’ve grown so fond of it is because of its relative nearness to where I live. I can hop an Amtrak train from Elkhart, Indiana in the morning, then spend the day walking around, taking pictures. Then take a return train that evening. It also means that some of the photographs can be taken after dark, an excellent time for urban pictures. I focused this visit on Chicago Union Station and the area around it.
Each of these photographs are linked to my Flickr account. By clicking on it, you go to the Flickr website and my photostream. These were taken on 11 September 2014. When spring arrives, I’m planning another trip.
Click on a photograph for full size version of the picture, plus meta information, etc.
Waiting for Train
Waiting for a late arriving morning train to Chicago at the Amtrak Station, Elkhart. (I’m not in this photo)
Elkhart Amtrak Station, Outdoors
Waiting for a late arriving morning train to Chicago
South Loop Lighting Up
The Chicago South Loop area as darkness begins to make its arrival.
Corinthian Columns outside Union Station
Near Union Station
Corinthian columns outside Union Station
Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches near Union Station
To the Trains
Descending to the trains at Union Station
See my Flickr Photostream
“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” — Charles Dickens
This just about sums up today and the last few days. Some small signs that winter may be pondering leaving us for a season, but has not quite made up its mind. I’m no longer a big fan of winter. Maybe this comes with age. I endure winter.
However we have two bird feeders filled with sunflower seed. As a result we have more birds this season than ever before. We can watch them out the kitchen window, and they put on quite a show. At times there are well over one-hundred birds. Our visitors are Northern Flicker, common woodpeckers, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Blue Jay, Northern Cardinal, Chickadee, Purple Finch, American Goldfinch and more.
I’ve purchased more sunflower seed this winter than prior seasons. The birds are eating more poundage in seed than our fifty pound dog consumes in dog food.
However this year we have some unwelcome quests stealing food — squirrels. Fat squirrels. Hoping for help in ridding my feeder area of these rodents, I checked some web sites on what eats squirrels, thinking maybe I can invite quests for supper. I found What Eats, which gives a list animals which enjoy fresh squirrel. We already have coyotes, owls, foxes, and hawks. However the one I’d never heard of is a Fisher. Looking at a map, I doubt they are found this far south in the US.
My favorite outdoor pastime is landscape and nature photography. Normally during the winter I do not go out often to do this. But sometimes I take my camera out the back door, walk around a bit, and snap some cold photographs. Below are two of them.
By clicking on the the photo a much larger image opens.
When thinking of winter, this hymn always comes to mind:
In the Bleak Mid-Winter
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.
— by Christina Rossetti: