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  • Stable abnormal. (I joke that most of us live this way, right?) That’s the latest status with the twins. Doctors still aren’t sure what’s going on with their situation, why their blood flows aren’t normal but aren’t yet impacting their development. It makes no sense. There is nothing like hearing these half-frustrating, half-comforting words from a different doctor every week. My husband joked at last week’s appointment that at least we’re contributing to science with all this baffling data we’re contributing. With a sympathetic shrug, the perinatologist admitted he was right. Nothing like being the medical mystery of the moment. Experts keep reminding us that 80% of mono-di twins (our identical kind that share a placenta) are born healthy. They just have no way of knowing whether we’ll fall into the 80%. Or the other 20%. And serious complications can arise up until the very end. So for now, they are...

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  • Journeys Home

    Since last All Saints Day, I've been reading about different saints and significant people named on four different church calendars. Here is an interesting story for February 9 from the third century, quoted from the Orthodox Saints site."Sapricius the priest and the layman Nicephorus lived in Antioch of Syria. Though they were the closest of friends, a disagreement between them led to estrangement and then to outright enmity. In time, Nicephorus came to himself and realized that reconciliation and love among brethren are precious in the sight of the Lord, and he sent to Sapricius to ask his forgiveness for Christ's sake. But his messengers were turned away, and Sapricius coldly refused any reconciliation. At the same time he violated the Lord's commandment by continuing to serve at the altar without seeking to make peace. Nicephorus finally went in person and threw himself at Sapricius' feet, but even this had no effect."Soon, persecution of Christians broke out, and Sapricius was...

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  • The image and quote come from Oné R. Pagán’s blog BaldScientist. The quote really is a great one. There is no approach to reality that bypasses mystery. Whether one posits that the ultimate first cause is a divine mind that simply exists, or a law of physics that simply exists and which keeps bringing universes into existence, mystery is not eliminated. And the challenge to formulating a coherent worldview is finding the balance between eagerness to push back the boundaries of what we can explain, while also learning to live with the fact that some answers will simply not be found in our lifetime, if ever.Stay in touch! Like Exploring Our Matrix on Facebook:Exploring Our Matrix

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  • Michial Farmer and Nathan Gilmour answer your queries and insults. [2:50- 6:20] Calculus, engineers, and mathematical education [6:20 – 11:40] Oldies and Neo-Calvinism/Emergent [11:40- 16:50] Medieval thinking and interactive sites [16:50- 39:05] Nathan and Michial fight about the Eucharist [39:10- 44:50] The Brothers Karamazov and other novels [44:55- 52:05] Radical Orthodoxy vs. Radical Theology [52:05- 59:30] Ya’ll and forbearance and comments on Silence

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  • Luke 4:1-13 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)4 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” 5 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” 9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and...

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  • Country Parson

    So the guy says, “Hey, you’re here every year aren’t you?  Where do you play golf?”“We don’t play golf.”“You don’t play golf!?  What do you do if you don’t play golf!?”So I told him that we swim, take long walks, go to galleries, are involved a local church, visit with friends, read, whale watch, mess around Up Country, stuff like that.  He just looked at me as if he doubted that such a waste of time was even possible.Jesus said that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  I think its normal to think it has something to do with money.  In fact I remember someone saying that a look at your check book would show where your heart is.  My checkbook, or it’s modern electronic version, would put my heart close to the dry cleaners, lawn service, grocery store, favorite restaurants, and travel adventures.  Not very informative.  Maybe the golfer was on to something.  Tell me where you spend your time, and I’ll tell you where your...

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  • [From Feb. 16, 2010 archive]My soul is cast down within me; I am weary, O God. Nothing I tried today worked out.  I could not prevail. But suddenly I realize I have been acting as if you are a stranger to me, as if I do not know what you have done. Have I forgotten, in my desert place, the mountains and cool waters where I have found you in the past? Teach me to remember my experience of you there; and teach me to rejoice in you, even in the desert. Lectionary Readings Ps. 42, 146, 102, 133 Prov. 30:1-4, 24-33 Phil. 3:1-11 John 18:28-38 Selected Verses Ps. 42:6b-c My soul is cast down within me;            therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,            from Mount Mizar. Prov. 30:1b-c Thus says the man: I am weary, O God,            I am weary, O God.  How can I prevail? Phil. 3:1a...

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  • Available Light

    To practice means that you do something you can do in order to do something that you can't. For example, if I decided I wanted to run a marathon, I would know that despite my best intentions I can't run 42 km but I can run, if I was determined maybe 1 km. So I would practice. I would run my 1 km and I would run it again and again until I improved and the distances I could run increased. I would keep on doing what I could do until, eventually,  I was able to run 42 km. And if I wanted to play the Waldstein Piano Sonata, which currently I can't,  I would need to do, repeatedly, those pitifully small things I can do on the piano often and regularly enough until my skill level increased to the point where I could play Beethoven.As it is with running and playing music, so it is with our spiritual lives, which is why we have spiritual practice.  The Kingdom of God, says Jesus, is as close to us as our own hand. By that, I think he means that the goodness and power and...

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  • The first Sunday in Lent is coming up.  Right after we smear ashen crosses on each other's foreheads, we tumble into that Sunday morning where Jesus goes to the wilderness and is tempted by the devil.There are three temptations, which is to say, I suppose, a trinity of them.  I have often tried to crack the code around these three:  turning a stone to bread, going after worldly power and jumping off the pinnacle of the temple.  Are they three temptations unique to Jesus, the Son of God or does some version of these temptations afflict all of us?  I know that I am not able to turn a stone to bread, no matter how hungry I am, and it is hard to imagine myself jumping off any real height (although you may be more courageous or foolhardy in this regard).  When I think of the word temptation, it is not these three situations that first come to mind.I am tempted to buy things I do not need, for reasons that I cannot always express.I am tempted to hold back when...

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  • I am grieved to learn (via Kim Fabricius) that my dear friend Alan Sell, who had been quite unwell for some time now, has died. In an email sent to United Reformed Church ministers (current and retired), Helen Lidgett (Synod Clerk, East Midlands Synod) stated: I am deeply saddened to report the death of Rev Professor Alan Sell. He died peacefully, content, and with great dignity at 9.00 pm on Sunday February 7th in Willen Hospice in Milton Keynes. Details of the Green Burial and Thanksgiving Service will be forwarded shortly. Our thoughts and prayers are with Alan’s wife, Karen and their family. Alan’s qualifications were: BA; BD; MA; DD; DLitt; PhD; HonDD; Hon DTh; FSA FRHistS; He was ordained in 1959 and had a very fruitful and world-wide ministry: 1959–1964: Sedbergh & Dent 1964–1968: Hallow, Worcester & Ombersley 1968–1983: Theological Lecturer & Professor in UK 1983–1987: Theological Secretary WARC 1988–1992: Theological Lecturer & Professor in Canada...

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  • Deuteronomy 26:1-11Lent has always been my favorite season of the church year. I attribute it to being fed a steady diet of sad country western songs as a child and having a fondness for hymns in a minor key. Or maybe it was that all the effort put into Lent, the shrouded cross, the purple banners, the symbols of pain and suffering, just made church more interesting. I do know I first came to love Jesus during Lent because the story was so sad and Jesus did it all for me though I’m sure as a child I didn’t understand why. That is what is happening in this text. The giving of first fruits is connected to the story of Israel’s beginning so they will understand why they offer first fruits at all. We were treated harshly in Egypt but God heard our voice and saw our affliction and did something about it and so we do something in return. That distinction, the doing something in response to something , is what makes this a story of grace and not just paying for a piece of property. It is the...

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  • Today we begin a quiet, but seismic, shift in the governance of our faith community: half of the new administrative team is made up of folks who have come on-board over the past seven years while the other half is comprised of those with longer tenure,  One third are under 40, one third from the 40-60 group and one third are in their early 60s. Half of the council are self-described former Roman Catholics while only a quarter are what used to called "cradle Congregationalists." All of the members of this team are active in the worship life of the church. They have chosen to be active in our ministries and are committed to a new phase of renewal. I note these things because::+ First, this team is not bound by the constraints of sentimentality. There is ample institutional memory, to be sure, and the newer members bring a respect for tradition, too. At the same time, there is a fresh perspective about who and what we might become that is free from the legacy of being first....

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  • Allan R. Bevere

    The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore-- on the contrary, they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him "meek and mild," and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies. Those who knew him, however … objected to him as a dangerous firebrand.-- Dorothy L. Sayers, A Careless Rage for Life

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  • Rev. Jeff Hood

      Dirt has been a constant companion. Like air, you’re constantly breathing it in and exhaling it out. When the bus arrived, I passed through the red fog to the climb up into my seat. Before I could even think, the driver looked at me and said, “Why do you remain silent about what’s going on here in Zimbabwe? We’re living in hell. How many more people will have to disappear or starve to death before your people will care? Talking to you could get me killed.” My stomach turned. There is no way to explain the silence of the world when it comes to Zimbabwe. When I mentioned that I was trying to write as much as I could, the driver shot back, “You must try harder. You are the only chance we have. Everyone here is terrified.” I didn’t ask many questions. Why should you when you already know the answers? After much listening, I managed one before I got out, “What does resistance look like here?” The driver didn’t...

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  • As I started research for my Doctor of Ministry thesis, one of the members of the Thesis Committee suggested that I read a book called The American Jeremiad.  The suggestion was that perhaps America isn’t changing in such a dramatic way as I was suggesting, but rather the words of William Reed Huntington, Brian McLaren, and others were merely a rehashing of the old fashioned jeremiad, the prophetic voice of John Winthrop aboard the Arbella that the American enterprise was God’s Kingdom come, and that any moral failing on the part of the Puritans that were making their way to New England, would bring about not just the failure of the nation, but the failure of God’s dream.  I ultimately disagreed with this argument, but in reading Sacvan Bercovitch’s dense prose, I came to realize where much of the prudish, moralistic bent that makes up vast sections of American society comes from. As Americans, moralistic thought has been in our DNA since before the Arbella...

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  • John Vest

    Raphael’s Transfiguration filtered through Instagram Yesterday I preached on Jesus’ transfiguration at Three Chopt Presbyterian Church here in Richmond. My focus was on the relationship between Peter’s doctrinal confession at Caesarea Philippi and his experience of Jesus’ transfiguration soon thereafter. (Contrasting doctrine and experience is definitely one of my current themes.) In a sermon several years ago I talked about Peter’s impulse to create a shrine after his experience as analogous to institutional religion. This wasn’t really my focus yesterday, but it was certainly in the back of my mind. At the beginning of the worship service Three Chopt’s associate pastor showed an interesting video on transfiguration from The Work of the People. Part of it compared Peter’s desire to mark this remarkable occasion with our tendency to market the good things we experience, which draws us away from living in the moment of the experience....

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  • I’m not sure how many of my blog readers took my advice and went to see the musical Amazing Grace after I blogged about it back in 2014. It subsequently made it to Broadway, and at that point several other Patheos bloggers mentioned it.Now its run is over, but a CD of the music is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com. I’m looking forward to owning a copy. I thought I should spread the word about it here too, for those who may have been looking forward to the release of Amazing Grace (Original Broadway Cast Recording)!Stay in touch! Like Exploring Our Matrix on Facebook:Exploring Our Matrix

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  • I completed the Built for Change manuscript on Saturday. At 58,000 words and 11 chapters, it is a project I’m very pleased with. It is practical, filled with stories of change. It is probing, using Scripture, tradition and reason to respond to a range of important questions about fresh expressions innovation. Is Jesus an innovator […]

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  • Journeys Home

    Berthe Morisot, "Refuge in Normandy" (1865). http://www.themasterpiececards.com/famous-paintings-reviewed/bid/63166/Famous-Paintings-of-Berthe-Morisot

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  • The Blue Room

    One of my life lessons is this: the hard thing is the easier thing. I’ve written about this before, but the idea is that doing the harder thing often benefits you in the long run, because cutting corners almost always costs you more than just doing it well the first time. Major disclaimer: the fact that this […]

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  • Anglobaptist

    Here I sit and here I ponder. Here I scribe and here I wonder. Can enough be said that says the things yet unsaid? Can I write All The Things in such a way where only the few words on the page insinuate what is not written? Brevity is the scholar’s bane. Relatedly, since when did forty pages become “brevity”? And yet, here we are. Sonic Theology rests on my desk. The introduction taunts me again. What is the theological language that the protestant Christian West...

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  • Allan R. Bevere

    I'm with Scot McKnight on this.___One of the most notable features of American evangelicalism in the last generation has been a powerful surge toward "social justice." At times it is no different than the old-fashioned social gospel, at times it simply catches up to mainline Protestantism-- and most of the time evangelicals have completely ignored the rigorous and comprehensive thinking on "social justice" on the part of Roman Catholics. Whatever one makes of it-- and I'm both deeply appreciative of the commitment to justice and at the same time concerned that it becomes far too political-- one can't deny the radical commitment to social justice on the part of evangelicalism. In the days of fundamentalism, so the story goes, social justice fell off the table.But what does social justice mean?What is the most common meaning at work when you hear “social justice”?___The entire post can be read here.

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  • Edges of Faith

      Today, I’m pleased to share with you this post from Anna Howell, a long-time reader of my blog and Moonshine Jesus Show podcast listener. Anna is a twenty-four-year-old Episcopalian from Upper South Carolina who dreams of one day getting a postsecondary education in religious studies. In the meantime, she blogs at www.sulfurfreejesus.wordpress.com and is a moderator [Read More...]

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  • Tamed Cynic

    It’s exactly a year ago the GI doctor called me the night after my CT scan and asked if I was sitting down. I missed Ash Wednesday last year. The year before immediately after the Ash Wednesday Service I ran to Safeway to procure a few (non-meat) products for the first dinner of our Lenten fast. I was standing in line in the small, Soviet-esque Safeway near my house, about 4 people back. I could hear the bagger and the teller whispering words like ‘what’s’ and ‘going on’ and ‘holiday’ and ‘apocalypse’ and ‘probably’ and ‘something’ and ‘in’ and ‘Revelation.’ They were staring at the black, greasy cross on my forehead. When I got to the checkout, one of them asked me furtively: ‘So, uh, is it like a holiday or something? Or did you go to a funeral?’ Thinking that would certainly be a memorable (and probably psyche-destroying) funeral, where we grind up the dearly departed and wipe him on our collective craniums, I replied: ‘It’s Ash Wednesday.’ ‘Oh, right!’ Long pause. ‘What’s...

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  • Download or Stream this Episode Those with ears to hear have heard, no doubt, that liberals and conservatives in American politics have polarized federal politics in unprecedented manners, with even one procedural vote threatening the produce a primary challenge from candidates who promise not to lapse in their partisan purity.  Many Americans not of the Senatorial profession, many of my friends among them, no longer identify as “conservative” or “liberal.”  Roger Scruton wants us to reconsider.  In his recent book How to Be a Conservative, available in paperback from Bloomsbury Continuum, Scruton presents conservatism as a philosophy of affirmation, granting the truth in capitalism and nationalism and environmentalism and liberalism without making any of the above a state ideology.  Christian Humanist Profiles is glad to welcome him on the show to discuss the new book with us.

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