Tuesday, November 30, 2004


Advent is the time of promise; it is not yet the time of fulfillment. We are still in the midst of everything and in the logical inexorability and relentlessness of destiny. To eyes that do not see, it still seems as though the final dice are being cast down here in these valleys, on these battlefields, in these camps and prisons and bomb shelters. Those who are awake sense the working of the other powers and can await the coming of their hour.

Space is still filled with the noise of destruction and annihilation, the shouts of self-assurance and arrogance, the weeping of despair and helplessness. But round about the horizon the eternal realities stand silent in their age-old longing. There shines on them already the first mild light of the radiant fulfillment to come. From afar sound the first notes as of pipes and voices, not yet discernable as a song or melody. It is all far off still, and only just announced and foretold. But it is happening, today.

Read the rest of this piece by Alfred Delp, who wrote it in a Nazi prison shortly before he was hanged for "treason."

(with grateful acknowledgment to Daily Dig, from Bruderhof.com)

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Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Charles Henderson from CrossCurrents, the excellent journal of the Association for Religion and Intellectual Life (USA), writes:

'Given spam filters that ruthlessly monitor content with a real of imagined relationship to the topic of our Fall issue, I hesitate to describe what lies in wait for those visiting our website or opening the pages of our latest issue. If you are interested either in the relationship between religion and sexuality in general, or the current state of the debate about this topic in religious communities or academic circles worldwide, our essays are essential reading.

'As editor Catherine Madsen puts it in her strong editorial: "When religion looks at sex from a distance, purging the erotic from its speech or explaining it away as tame allegory, it forfeits a measure of its civilizing power. The line in the old Anglican marriage service—long gone, of course, from the new one—was "with my body I thee worship." Worship meant something parallel to honor or adore in those days, not yet something exclusively religious, but the very shift in meaning underlines the validity of the instinct; if we cannot worship our lovers whom we can see, how shall we worship God whom we cannot? A language of adoration cannot be a language of inexperience, real or feigned. It can only be a language of experience, in which spirit is at home in flesh."

'Looking at sex from a distance, purging it from our pages, or explaining it away, is definitely not what we are up to in our Fall issue.'

The full index of text-available feature articles from CrossCurrents back issues is certainly worth checking out, too.

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Monday, November 08, 2004


I have been away for the past fortnight in China, taking part in an official British and Irish church leaders' visit to China Christian Council (Protestant) and Catholic churches and seminaries under the auspices of CTBI. Further news and reflection will follow. In the meantime, by a happy coincidence, the Guardian newspaper in Britain has begun a weeklong series of articles on the country, written by a 15-strong team of top-notch journalists. The special reports are here.

The first set (today) included a very brief reference to Taoism. It will be interesting to see if there is mention of the impact of the two fastest growing religious movements in the new China, Christianity and Buddhism. Following the (lamentable) impact of religion in the US presidential elections, the secular media here has woken up again -- in another periodic fit -- to the importance of religious belief in public life across the world. But I wouldn't be surprised if it is substantially overlooked in its latest coverage of the Pacific rim.

Old habits of ignoring things die hard...

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