Monthly Archives: January 2010

Meet the neighborhood Episcopalians: ‘their light, airy ways’

The following excerpts give a hilarious view of Episcopalians. It’s from an essay entitled “Parish Streets” by Patricia Hampl. The essay is not exactly recent, but Hampl captures the cultural trappings of Episcopalians.

“Lexington, Oxford, Chatsworth, continuing down Grand Avenue to Milton and Avon, as far as St. Albans — the streets of our neighborhood had an English, even an Anglican, ring to them. But we were Catholic….

“We were like people with dual citizenship. I lived on Linwood Avenue, but I belonged to St. Luke’s….

“Not everyone around us was Catholic. Mr. Kirby, a widower who was our next door neighbor, was Methodist — whatever that was. The Nugents across the street, behind their cement retaining wall and double row of giant salvia, were Lutheran, more or less. The Williams family, who subscribed to the New Yorker and had a living room outfitted with spare Danish furniture, were Episcopalian. They referred to their minister as a priest — a plagiarism that embarrassed me for them, because I liked their light, airy ways.”

New Yorker subscription? Check.

Spare Danish furniture? Check.

Light, airy ways? Check.

Yep. Episcopalian.

Noah’s flood probably didn’t cover the entire earth

Data from various scientific disciplines provides a clear indication that Noah’s Flood did not cover the globe of the earth. Before considering that data, however, we must first determine a rough earliest probable date for the Flood. If the Flood is an actual historical event, it must touch down in the empirical data of history somewhere.

So begins Paul Seely’s guest post at Science and the Sacred, entitled “The Flood: Not Global, Barely Local, Mostly Theological, Part 1.” Click the title to read more.

NC State 88, Duke 74

It’s a religious issue — a bit of ecstasy.

But how does the Good Book look?

Bible Design Blog, as the name suggests, is a site dedicated to the physical form of the Good Book. Innovative design, quality binding, that’s what it’s all about. If you’re looking for information about a particular edition, the right-hand column includes an ever-expanding list of reviews and features.”

Check it out here.

London Postcard: Here’s what the UK needs

Roughly between Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square in London, I found indisputable proof that people everywhere just want to be … eating fried chicken.

Marty Peretz: Will the murder of seven Egyptian Christians, outside a church after Midnight Mass for Coptic Christmas, be assigned to ‘isolated extremists’?

Actually, I don’t think we are going to hear the phrase “isolated extremist” again, at least not from the president. In fact, the more we hear from him from now on, the more entangled and united the terrorist international is likely to appear. The shock of Detroit has probably been most traumatic for Obama himself. He really did believe that the world of Islam was a civilized order, and he simply can’t believe it now. Or can he?

But the Copts won’t get much attention. After all, they are Christians. What “progressives” worry about the survival of a Christian church or, for that matter, of pious Christian lives? [emphasis added]

Read the rest of Marty Peretz’s post on The Spine blog for The New Republic here.

London Postcard: A 30th Anniversary

Thirty years ago today, the U.K. punk band The Clash released “London Calling” in the United States.

London Postcard: ‘People living in darkness have seen a great light’

I spent a few hours at the British Museum two days ago. Primarily, I was looking for ancient images of gods, goddesses, angels, demons, and monsters among the numerous collected pieces from Babylon, Assyria, Greece, Cyprus, Rome, and Celtic Europe.

I had never really thought about how much imaginations and perhaps experiences were common in the ancient world, at least when our ancestors turned their thoughts to the supernatural. They seemed to see related images in their minds’ eyes.

Monstrous deities, as well as monsters assembled from various parts of different animals, were incarnated by ancient peoples in terracotta, bronze, and various types of stone. Winged human-like figures were fairly common — people have been imagining something like angels outside of, and in some cases long before, Jewish and Christian cultures represented angelic beings in art and literature.

Sometimes, ancient people would wear amulets to protect themselves from a certain demon or evil god. Sometimes, they would wear an image of the same grotesque creature they were seeking to deflect.

There seems to have been many gods, goddesses, and demons for some ancients cultures to remember; imagine trying to keep up with the god for good crops and the demon that attacks childbirth and the goddess of protected travel and so on.

Into this grotesque and horrific situation of beliefs and practices, Jesus enters human history. This is why the Christian believes that “people living in darkness have seen a great light” (Matthew 4.16). The true God “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1.14). Instead of a grotesque, unseen beast that must be bribed with sacrifices and spells, the God who was born into human history was fully human as well as fully divine.

Even though Jesus’ ministry largely addressed the Jewish beliefs and practices of his day, we know from his dealings with the Samaritan woman (John 4), and from the statement made by the Roman soldier at the crucifixion (Matthew 27.54), and later from the testimony and writings of Paul, that salvation was from the Jews but not exclusively for the Jews. Jesus was offering freedom and peace to those bound to fierce, vicious, grotesque gods outside of the Jewish heritage.

Instead of living in fear and attempting to placate gods through sacrifices and spells and amulets, ancient peoples now had the possibility of peace with God through faith in a sacrificial, atoning, redemptive death — a God who said, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11.30). Granted, the believers in this new faith struggled to spread the message, but a new era had dawned. “People living in darkness [had] seen a great light.”

The Queen of the Night, an ancient Mesopotamian goddess (possibly intended to be the goddess Ishtar or Ereshkigal),, between 1792 and 1750 BC.

Imdugud, a monster with a lion's head and an eagle's body, was the symbol of the Sumerian god Ningirsu. The panel dates to around 2500 BC.

An amulet with the figure of Lamashtu, from around 800 BC, Mesopotamia. Lamashtu preyed on mothers.

According to the British Museum, this is probably the earliest known mosaic of Christ. Dating around the 4th Century AD, the mosaic was found in a villa at Hinton St Mary in Dorset.