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Showing posts from October, 2014

Sermon Mark 12:38-44

One fine day in April of 1872, Gerard Manley Hopkins hypnotized a duck. Hopkins, you remember, is the prone-to-scruples 19th century High Church Anglican-turned-Jesuit poet and author of such memorable poems as “Pied Beauty”—“Glory to God for dappled things”—and “God’s Grandeur”—“the world is charged with the grandeur of God/It will flame out like lightning from shook foil.” As a close observer of the splendors of creation, Hopkins was deeply concerned with the process of perception. Why is it that sometimes the world seems charged with God, and other times seems lifeless and dead? Why do we feel God’s presence so strongly one day, and sense only God’s absence on others? One way Hopkins answers that question is by examining how enslaved our perception is to habit. And that’s where the duck comes in. On that day in April 1872, Hopkins conducted a rather strange, proto-Pavlovian experiment. He held a duck by the neck with one hand and drew parallel chalk lines on the table in front of…

Homily on Mark 5: 21-43

The headline boomed in bold all-caps—Archibishop Discusses Hell! Well, I couldn’t resist. After all, it’s not everyday that you get to hear an Archbishop talk about the Lake of Fire and eternal damnation! Curiosity peaked, I rolled up my sleeves, and started reading. My concept of hell, I suppose, is being stuck with myself forever and with no way out. Whether anybody ever gets to that point I have no idea. But that it’s possible to be stuck with my selfish little ego for all eternity, that’s what I would regard as hell.[1] For Williams (and I think he is spot on here) hell is the loss of relation. We are created to be persons in relation, not just individuals, and there is a very real sense in which to cease to be in relation is to cease to be at all. Indeed, the Greek for person is prosopon—literally “toward-the-face.” True personhood consists of facing the other, of being face-to-face. So Sartre was wrong; hell isn’t other people, it’s being faceless, being stuck with myself …