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Tell me why

by Andrea Elizabeth

I need to know why. In my region the answer is the Brazos. I think. I live south of town but I cross the Brazos watershed line to traffic with humans. My dealings with people are in the Trinity watershed, but my heart is in the Brazos. My stillborn son, Isaac, is buried in the Brazos watershed west northwest of my house. Perhaps some of his molecules entered the ocean from there. If I were to resurrect him, maybe I’d have to canoe that way to find traces. But Possum Kingdom Lake is upstream from the cemetery and that is the northern boundary of my interest. The Brazos watershed goes up to the New Mexico Rockies, but upstream from PK lake is foreign to me. The southern boundary to me is Lake Whitney, around Waco, even though the river flows to the Gulf of Mexico. My turf is western central Texas. I like the Colorado and Pecos basins next. West of Austin, though the Colorado also flows to the ocean. My interest in the Pecos is from Ft. Davis to where it terminates in the Rio Grande, Judge Roy Bean’s turf. This area does not include Amarillo, Lubbock, or Midland to the west, nor East Texas nor Houston – the oil areas. My areas are thinly grassed cattle ranches with rugged hills, and even mountains if you include Big Bend, which I do. It’s named for the big bend in the Rio Grande that give Texas it’s elbow. I kind of like ranches but they may be more of a con in this area because of the overgrazing that made it even less grassy. And the barbed wire. If there’d been less people and less greed, I would have liked the shortlived free range cattle drivers’ impact on the land. But wouldn’t buffalo have suited better? They mostly stayed in the plains of the panhandle though.

Maybe it’s the aspergers in me that likes the unspoiled natural landscape better than the populated areas. What I like about them is the stability. People live so short and change their mind and move so much. The rocks are the only really stable, local inhabitants. But they have slowly changed because of the rivers. The rivers also change because of sediment deposits and erosion. It’s a constant tension between rocks and water. The stable banks of the river are the rocky hills, and the looser banks are the flood plains on the other side.

Back to Isaac. He didn’t flow upstream to PK lake, and he probably flowed past Whitney, so why the concentration between them? He touched the water let loose from PK lake, and maybe he was more confined by the Whitney dam than the Granbury one. The town of Granbury is built really close to the lake’s edge, so the dam lets more water out to maintain a constant level.

I can’t move from this section of the Brazos River Basin. I’d be leaving Isaac behind. What about my other kids? They don’t want me to move from this house, so I have their permission. Dostoyevsky’s Zosima says don’t forget your other kids. Why was the mother so drawn to her dead baby? One, death of a baby goes against a mother’s anatomy. Baby nurturing is what our bodies are all about. The rest of child-rearing is a gradual series of letting go. To have it cut off abruptly at the woman’s most secretory stage is a violence beyond bearing. Truly. It’s what makes things like the Grand Canyon happen. But the Grand Canyon is beautiful. Ripped up humans not so much. Why do people love to post videos and pictures of ripped up humans heroically coping so much? I’d rather see Palo Duro Canyon, the only respite from those lifeless, rockless, flat Texas plains. I suppose the broken rocks and exposed sedimentary layers that somehow have survived the rain give me hope. They aren’t crippled, they aren’t stoically overcoming, they are just being where and how they are.

The second reason women are so attached to their dead babies, besides the breaking of the most attached relationship in humankind, is that babies are holy. Even though the dead ones break their mothers’ hearts, they will always be innocently attached before the world and hormones tear them apart.

I’ve heard that there’s some dislocated rocks in America’s northern plains that are miles and miles away from their associated crops. Perhaps a melted glacier dam broke suddenly and swept them down. I feel bad for those rocks and want to bring them back to their families.

Ancestry showed I have 99% roots in the UK and Western Europe. But perhaps the mass that all moved to the south and then west conglomerating from me to the west to Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi were enough of a cohesive upheaval that it compares more to plate tectonics than to abduction. Feels that way. I’m a first generation Texan, and I do have genetic memories of the Old South, but they are with the past and the trees that remember, not the grass that fades. But the thin grass of my zone remembers and survived the cows. I have one clump of long blue grass near a cedar tree in my front field that I love. Last year someone mowed it down before it could make flowers and I’m afraid it may be extinct.

Why don’t I love the azaleas, dogwoods, and lush grass of the southeast? They have it too easy. The sun and wind haven’t beaten them to dust. They don’t have seeds that lay dormant for years until a 7 year rainy season. The late rainy season that swells a few thick rings in the gnarly oak trees. Do I want it to rain more than it does in west Texas? Yes. Because the terrain is unnaturally suppressed by the cattle overgrazing. Its life is a delicate balance that was tipped to dry. It needs a little more tipping to wet. And the seeds are just waiting. But the rocks don’t want it to rain too much. The Palo Pinto mountains probably saw violence, and it left it’s mark that I don’t want to be erased. Too much rain will cover it up.

The Force Awakens rewatch

by Andrea Elizabeth

It just occurred to me that all the white males in this movie are losers and the winners are non-white or female. I googled “Force Awakens white males” and yes, it’s a thing. I’m still going to watch the new series because I’m not prejudiced against non white non males. Though for some reason I’m not into Po’s character. It feels contrived and like hey, if you liked Luke you’ll like me. Not so much. Probably because he wasn’t introduced as thoroughly as Luke was. He’s just “the best pilot”. So? Anyhow, surely they wont make Luke continue to be a loser in the next episodes.

I’m catching some of the National Park documentaries on PBS on this fine Resurrection day. It is hard to listen to the white exclusivity in the rich movers and shakers of the early 20th Century. But reverse prejudice just because of skin color and gender sounds like revenge too late. In dealing with slavery and native genocide it’s hard to know what to do with the descendants. On one hand they had nothing to do with it. On the other there are some lingering effects that they inherited. On someone else’s hand there is something about being a representative species. We can’t help but remember how horses bore our burdens when we deal with their individual descendants today. It affects how we treat them. We do want to apologize and respect them for it even though they may never have known hardship. Things are connected. But I don’t think we need to make people pull wagons and carry heavy horses on their backs to fix the past or even fix lingering demeaning treatment. But you can’t say punishment is wrong in general either. There is something to poetic justice. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.

PTSD people are not amused

by Andrea Elizabeth

He almost convinced me here

Some may object to the notion of a cruciform God and argue that in the discussion of God’s holiness, we cannot forget God’s majesty and power. Here John Webster is helpful, because he rightly defines God’s holiness, not as pure majesty, but as “majesty in relation.” Because God’s majesty and God’s relationality cannot be separated, we must understand God’s majesty in light of God’s revealed relationality. We do not simply hold the majesty and relationality of God in tension; with Paul, we must see them in convert, a unison revealed in the power of the cross. God is not a god of power and weakness but the God of power in weakness. As Webster also reminds us, we must always keep divine activity and divine attribute together: God’s actions are self-revelatory, the expression of God’s essence or character. Thus if the cross is theophanic, God must be understood as essentially cruciform.

You can see though that he does not have a concept of energies, only essence, therefore in his view weakness must be essential as does majesty. And anything that contradicts essential weakness is idolatry-not God. And then he blows it by going there:

The Idolatry of “Normal” Divinity

In light of this first theological conclusion, we must affirm that the “normal” “civil” god of power and might is an idol, and it must be named as such. This god is not the Lord God revealed in Jesus Christ [I’ll insert “essentially on the cross”] and narrated in the theopolitics of Phil 2:6-11. The “normal” god of civil religion combines patriotism and power; this is the god of many American leaders and of many Americans generally. (This god has, of course, had many other incarnations in human history.) Most especially idolatrous…is military power incarnate, whether in the crusades or in Iraq or at Armageddon.

Oh brother. I bet he considers idolatrous our icon of St. George defeating the dragon, or of military saints, or of Christ harrowing hell, or of the Transfiguration where only a few were invited to see his glory. I bet he doesn’t like locks or gates around heaven. Does he not think that not saying no will lead to vandalism, rape, murder, and blight (see This Old House in Detroit)? Yes Jesus suffered most of these things, and so did the martyrs, actually though there seems to be a line around rape. That torture in particular was avoided either by the will of the Saint or by divine intervention. Not that Christians haven’t been raped, but if they are it is seen as heinous and of no benefit and that all efforts should be made to prevent it.

Man, I’m so disappointed.

Iraq had a lot of problems, including stories of WMD and possible oil interests. But it must be seen in light of 9-11 and al qaeda. Notice he didn’t mention Afghanistan in his list. One could say that justly fighting in a war mandates unselfish motives or self-defense. It is true Christ did not offer self-defense, but you have to consider context. His time had come. He offered himself at that moment. He was protected at other times. You’ve got to know when to hold em and when to fold em in Kenny Roger’s words. There is a time for peace and a time for war if you want to get Ecclesiastical. Good grief. Lefties can be so simplistic. Let’s have an open door, open arms, blind policy of self-giving. Go for it. Bye.

Regarding “He emptied himself”

by Andrea Elizabeth

from Inhabiting the Cruciform God by Michael Gorman, ch 1

What Crossan and Reed call “the normalcy of imperial divinity” forms the basic assumption lying behind the concessive use of the participle in 2:6. Nevertheless, two fundamentally different senses about what is being conceded are possible. One implies that Christ’s condescension was a contravention of his true identity, while the other impies that it was the embodiment of his true identity. Option one would be something like this

Although Messiah Jesus was in the form of God, a status that means the exercise of power, he acted out of character – in a shockingly ungodlike manner, contrary in fact to true (imperial) divinity – when he emptied and humbled himself.

In this reading, Christ, in effect, reounced his deity, or at least some aspect of it. He acted abnormally for one possessing equality with God. That is, the for of God that Christ had (and thus also essential divinity) is in fact one that would never condescend to the humiliation of incarnation and crucifixion. To do so would in fact be ungodlike.

Option two would be something like the following:

Although Messiah Jesus was in the form of God, a status people assume means the exercise of power, he acted in character – in a shockingly ungodlike manner according to normal but misguided human perceptions of divinity, contrary to what we would expect but, in fact, in accord with true divinity – when he emptied and humbled himself.

In this reading, Christ exercised his deity. What is out of character for normal divinity in our misguided perception of the reality of the form of God is actually in character for this form of God…

In other words, such a form of God (and thus also essential divinity) is in normal human perception one that would never condescend to incarnation and crucifixion. Normal human perception of deity is such that the story of Christ is counterintuitive, abnormal, and absurd as a story of God.

In the next few pages he talks about how the second option is better, and that God doesn’t “throw his weight around”.

I think I’m seeing how he’s setting up the “nonviolent” conclusion of the book.

How about it’s both!? Humility and power are two energies that God can use. Maybe he’s arguing from Absolute Divine Simplicity, if it means what I think it means, which is God has to act one way (See the Energetic Procession blog). Some like to hang on God is love for this, but love is a more complicated attribute. Anyway, I think ADS also means the western ordo theologaea of Attribute then Activity then Person. The Eastern OT is Person then Activity then Attribute. This allows the person to act freely, and the full range of possibilities define what a Person is. You know, feminists could use the eastern OT.

I am not ready for Pascha

by Andrea Elizabeth

It’s the preparations and the lifting of fasting rules that are overwhelming me. Basically I don’t need to eat to stay alive – but I do need protein for my back muscles. So meat will make that easier. But with meat and dairy comes ice cream, deserts that aren’t too muchly troubled by substitutes, and a feeling of deserving more volume. I’m really thinking of skipping the paschal feasts both because of the crowds and the burden of making and eating and not eating all the food.

Do you hear what I hear?

by Andrea Elizabeth

Michael Gorman in Inhabiting the Cruciform God has a beautiful rhythm to his writing:

“The narrative of [Phil] 2:6-8 has been rightly described as one of “downward mobility.” Joseph Hellerman argues that it is a “cursus pudorum,” or downward-bound succession of ignominies, constructed in contrast to Rome’s cursus honorum, the elite’s upward-bound race for honors….”

And I went down to the river to pray

Gonna lay down my burdens, down by the riverside

Go down, Moses, go down to Egypt lan’. Tell ole Pharoah to let my people go

We fall down, and we get up

Adam fell, Christ went down, now we go down to get up. This implies that we started as up after the fall. You could say we go down to admit reality, but the fact that it can be a choice means there is some upness to us. If the fall was death, then the fact that we are alive substantiates the idea that Christ was crucified before the foundations of the world and that he raised all men with himself. I suppose our mixed bag of up and downness, because we do still stumble, is a result of both realities. When we voluntarily go down we are like the one out of 10 lepers who came back to Christ to say thank you, and like his disciples who chose to more personally and completely unite themselves to him. We go down because Christ went down. We go down for him because he went down for us. But if we stay up are we really up? If we live a life of wanton pleasure and self pursuit with no thought of God, are we up? Most people find it ultimately unfulfilling, they say, and there are pitfalls, but some may do all right and not regret it I suppose. Maybe they’ll be punished like the rich man who ignored Lazarus. Or maybe they’ll get their own island in heaven and keep drifting further and further off in mercifully allowed self-imposed ignorance a la The Great Divorce. So why go down?

Because Christ is there.

Can you hear the frustration?

by Andrea Elizabeth

“Although we must strive for appropriate historical and philological precision, we must also learn to live with semantic overlapping and ambiguity in this rich tapestry of intertextual threads. This poetic intertextuality means that there may be words, allusions, and echoes that stand in creative tension with one another.”

Chapter 1 of Inhabiting the Cruciform God by Michael Gorman: Kenosis in Philippians 2.

The above reminds me of this

 

Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Narrative Soteriology

by Andrea Elizabeth

I caught the above title by Michael Gormon that was dropped on Facebook. The introduction found in the  Kindle sample explains that the four chapters  deal with our participation in Christ’s kenosis, justification: participating in His crucifixion (He says justification is a very debated topic currently.), holiness, and nonviolence. I’m interested in his appeal to the Eastern Church for his explanations of theosis and wonder if I’ll agree with his last point. Apparently he is a Methodist, so maybe he’s joining Wesley in looking east.

Dracula 2: bloodsucking

by Andrea Elizabeth

I’m probably Captain Obvious for mentioning the plot line about lust for blood. Perhaps Dracula is a perversion, but not the opposite of what people need. What if Protestants are starving for blood and Dracula provides like the magicians who turned their staffs into snakes just as Moses did. God is the originator of the unbloody fountain of immortality, and Dracula is the satanic or man-made version of it.

John 6:53-58, KJV

53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

Dracula

by Andrea Elizabeth

I wish I’d jotted down my thoughts as I’d read because I don’t think I remember them all or their development. The first thing that struck me was that the first main character who goes to Dracula’s castle is a Protestant, and I thought his point of view would be the defended one. But it’s not. Harker criticizes the Romanian people, who were probably Orthodox, for being superstitious in their belief that a physical crucifix would protect him, but later it does.

She then rose and dried her eyes, and taking a crucifix from her neck offered it to me.

I did not know what to do, for, as an English Churchman, I have been taught to regard such things as in some measure idolatrous, and yet it seemed so ungracious to refuse an old lady meaning so well and in such a state of mind.

She saw, I suppose, the doubt in my face, for she put the rosary round my neck and said, “For your mother’s sake,” and went out of the room.

I am writing up this part of the diary whilst I am waiting for the coach, which is, of course, late; and the crucifix is still round my neck.

Whether it is the old lady’s fear, or the many ghostly traditions of this place, or the crucifix itself, I do not know, but I am not feeling nearly as easy in my mind as usual.

Van Helsing, the Dutch professor, is kind of what I expect from a Priest when a person comes to the Church for healing. He accurately diagnoses the problem, understands and respects spiritual and symbolic realities, will use appropriate physical weapons, and can converse with modern scientists and psychiatrists in an understanding way. Was Bram Stoker that smart?

Wikipedia’s history of his childhood: “Stoker was bedridden with an unknown illness until he started school at the age of seven, when he made a complete recovery. Of this time, Stoker wrote, “I was naturally thoughtful, and the leisure of long illness gave opportunity for many thoughts which were fruitful according to their kind in later years.” He was educated in a private school run by the Rev. William Woods.[5]

After his recovery, he grew up without further serious illnesses, even excelling as an athlete (he was named University Athlete) at Trinity College, Dublin, which he attended from 1864 to 1870. He graduated with honours as a B.A. in Mathematics. He was auditor of the College Historical Society (the Hist) and president of the University Philosophical Society, where his first paper was on Sensationalism in Fiction and Society.”

This is an interesting analysis regarding the book’s treatment of modernity vs ancient spirituality. But then it goes into too much of a feminist criticism of Victorian morality. I do think they have somewhat of a point in how all of the moral burden is put on women however. But purity itself is not an outdated contrivance.

This research paper goes into more depth about the use of Catholic sacred objects and prayers.

My last point is that the conversation about killing people, like Lucy and even Dracula in the end, points to their deaths being meant to set them free from further damning themselves through their actions. There is an Orthodox teaching that God sometimes mercifully kills people, even introducing mortality itself, to prevent them from going too far in ruining other people’s lives, and by that I mean to take the world too far towards the point of no return. Sure seems things are constantly on the brink though.