Dancing on the Head of a Pin

There is a legend of St Thomas Aquinas asking "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" At this blog we ask all questions dealing with our faith and spirituality. Some are down to earth, rubber meets the road questions, while others are more lofty...like, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A little R & R

Typically at Dancing on the Head of a Pin, R&R means religion and reflection, but for the next seven days, it will mean rest and relaxation. Your humble blogger will be on vacation until next Thursday seeking to become a darker shade of pale. To keep your R&R (religion and reflection) up, try the Rev. Frank Logue's blog. If I can find an internet connection in sunny Florida, I'll post something, but until then, I'll see you next week.

Steve

What Book of the Bible Are You?

For those who have a lot of spare time, there are those who create all sorts of quizes. I found this one "What Book of the Bible Are You?" At the very least, it is interesting...I turned out to be Romans.

You Are Romans
You are Romans.

Steve

Monday, May 23, 2005

Sunday's Sermon

Yesterday was Trinity Sunday. St Augustine once said that
"If you don't believe in the Trinity you will lose your soul, but if you try to understand the Trinity you will lose your mind!"
The Trinity is a mysterium tremendum - a tremenous mystery. In the sermon on Trinity Sunday, there was no explanation of how God is three in one - one nature shared by three persons, or how each hypostatsis relates to the other (yikes)...instead we focused on the creative power of the Trinity. God, out of sheer love, created the universe and all that exists therein. God, out of sheer love, calls us to him, so that we may emerge as new creations - dead to rebellion, alive to love.

Click the title for the link.

The Trinity

St. Gregory of Nazianzus, also called "the Theologian", entrusts this summary of Trinitarian faith to the catechumens of Constantinople:

"Above all guard for me this great deposit of faith for which I live and fight, which I want to take with me as a companion, and which makes me bear all evils and despise all pleasures: I mean the profession of faith in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I entrust it to you today. By it I am soon going to plunge you into water and raise you up from it. I give it to you as the companion and patron of your whole life. I give you but one divinity and power, existing one in three, and containing the three in a distinct way. Divinity without disparity of substance or nature, without superior degree that raises up or inferior degree that casts down. . . the infinite co-naturality of three infinites. Each person considered in himself is entirely God. . . the three considered together. . . I have not even begun to think of unity when the Trinity bathes me in its splendour. I have not even begun to think of the Trinity when unity grasps me. ."


- From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Friday, May 20, 2005

Theologia Habitus Est

If I were to claim a motto, it would most likely be the above Latin phrase, "theologia habitus est" - theology is a way of life. The word "theology" comes from two Greek words, "theos" (God) and logos (word). Theology, therefore, is words about God. The task of theology involves thinking, speaking, and writing about God. When should we think about God? When should we speak about God? When should we write about God? The goal is that this task would permeate our life in such a way that it is second nature; it is a way of life. This is one of the reasons this blog exists - to engage words about God daily. This blog serves one purpose in two ways - it hopefully promotes your thoughts about God and it helps me focus on a habitual engagement of the Divine. Theology is not something reserved for seminary graduates or people in long, flowing robes - it is a task for each of us. With God's help, it will be a task we seek out as it because our way of life.

Steve

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Blessed Virgin Mary and All Thy Saints

This week Anglicans and Roman Catholics released a document that clarified the role the Virgin Mary occupies in both Churches. The document for the most part affirmed agreement between the largest Christian body (Roman Catholics) and the third largest Christian body (Anglicans) about the person of and devotion to, Mary. The main difference lies in the word dogma. Anglicans may, if they desire, believe that Mary was born without the stain of original sin, and that she didn't die but was assumed into heaven like Enoch and Elijah. But Anglicans do not have to and Anglican Churches certainly do not say this belief is necessary for salvation. Roman Catholics, on the other hand, hold these doctrines to be dogma "definitive teaching of the church which is to be believed by the members of the church" (An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church).

One interesting comment in the document concerned the intercession of Mary (and other saints for that matter) in prayer. The document states: "Asking the saints to pray for us is not to be excluded as unscriptural, though it is not directly taught by the Scriptures to be a required element of life in Christ." The idea of asking saints to pray for us is typically rejected immediately by Protestants, but think about this: do we not ask others in our church, family and friends to pray for us? Upon close reflection, we might come to the conclusion that there is not much difference. Furthermore, most everyone I know has talked to a deceased loved one - either at their grave site of in some other context. If we think our deceased love ones can hear us and care for us in heaven, surely Sts Peter, Paul, Stephen, and the rest (including the Virgin Mary) hear and care for us as well.

For Anglicans, this is certainly not required and will never be imposed on anyone. But it is the traditional practice of the church, and deserves a second look.

Steve

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Was Moses at the Last Supper?

According to an article on beliefnet.com, 1 out of 10 high school students thinks so. The article aruges that there are so many biblical references in Western culture that a working knowledge of the Bible is necessary for students to understand classic literature and Western symbology. The article uses the opening line of "Moby Dick" as an example: "Call me Ishmael." Unless students understand that Ishmael was the son of Abraham and his wife's servant who was ultimately banished, they are immediately lost on the first page. Biblical literacy is not important only for high school or college students - it is important for all Christians. I remember very vividly getting my haircut in an old fashioned baber shop five years ago where the gentlement beside me and his barber started talking about religion. The gentlemen getting his haircut said with pride,"I don't know much about the Bible, but I believe every word of it!" I'm not sure God wants us to approach our faith in that manner. God wants us to love him because we know him. If we are illiterate about the Bible, we are illiterate about God. Dust off that leather bound book and read a few pages. You might be surprised what you find. Click the title for the link to the story.

Steve

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

When in Rome....

For the past five weeks we have provided a study on what it means to be an Episcopalian. We have called it the "Mirror Course," because in this study we are essentially looking in a mirror and discovering where we came from, what we believe, how we live, and why we do the things we do. At noon and at 6pm we will look at our traditions and customs. Why do we make the sign of the cross? Why do we kneel when we pray? Why are our services so structured? For many persons entering an Episcopal service for the first time, these questions may dominate their experience. As we will explore today and tonight, there is a reason why we have kept these customs and traditions. Similar to sacraments (our topic last week) these traditions and customs are outward, visible, tangible acts that speak to a deeper spiritual truth. To fully understand the Episcopal ethos, it's important to understand our "manual acts" of prayer. We meet at 12 noon and 6pm in the parish hall. For .pdf copies of our handouts, click the title to link to our website.

Steve

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

No such number...(Return to Sender)

Archeologists have discovered an ancient manuscript of St John's Revelation and noticed the traditional number of the beast, 666, is actually 616. This isn't exactly new. There have always been texts of John's Revelation that read 616. Numbers were also associated with letters in Roman society. A = 1, B = 2, and so on. 666 was thought to correspond with Caesar Nero. According to an article on beliefnet.com, 616 corresponds with Emperor Caligula. In any event, the interesting bit in the article was from the high priest in the Church of Satan, 'By using 666 we're using something that the Christians fear. Mind you, if they do switch to 616 being the number of the beast then we'll start using that.' In other words, it's not about numbers or letters, it's about opposition to God. Click the title of this post for the link to the article.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Out of date

A friend sent me an email concerning the lack of entries on this blog. He was right. Keeping a blog up to date every other week or so does little good for anybody. The same is also true for our faith. Keeping it up to date every now and then is not what God has in mind. It is very easy for us to update our faith once a week on Sunday, or every other week. But what happens Monday thru Saturday? How are we connecting with Christ constantly? There is a wonderful Russian classic about a man who heard a sermon on St Paul's statement that we should "pray without ceasing." The Russian pilgrim took it seriously and spent years trying to discover what this meant, traveling all over the country seeking wisdom from holy people. This was his life mission and nothing else was important. The story is a great example of taking our faith seriously and daily, not just every now and then.