Thursday, January 26, 2017

Regarding Terrorism and Refugees

I made this statement over a year ago. I still believe it is the more faithful way.

Statement from Bishop Matt Gunter to the Diocese of Fond du Lac
Regarding Terrorism and Refugees
[November 20, 2015]

The recent attacks in Baghdad, Beirut, and Paris have confronted us again with the fact that “the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God” are real. That evil has captivated and corrupted the imaginations of the people who perpetrate such wanton and callous killing and destruction. Let’s be clear. ISIS does not represent all of Islam. The religious ideology of ISIS and those like it is one corrupted by the evil powers of this world. And it is bent on destruction.
In baptism we renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God (Book of Common Prayer, p. 302). How might we do that in such dangerous times?

No doubt resisting this evil will include military and police action. We must pray for wisdom, care, and discernment for those charged with making decisions and acting in these areas.

We must also be willing to acknowledge and address the root causes and history of the turmoil in the region where ISIS flourishes that has made it fertile ground for such a misbegotten ideology to flourish.

Hard as it is, we must also pray for those whose imagination and actions have been shaped by the ideology of terror. As disciples of Jesus we must dare to pray “for our enemies and those who wish us harm, and for all whom we have injured or offended” (BCP, p. 391). We must not forget that they, too, bear the image of God and are loved by God.

And we must beware of the temptation to which we are all subject to cooperate with the evil powers that corrupt and destroy. We experience the effects of evil as suffering whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. Instinctively we react with the desire to strike back and put an end to the source of the suffering. And it brings with it the temptation to constrict our compassion in defensiveness. But, this logic leads us to live in fear, anxiety, and suspicion of others. It is the same logic as those who wish us harm. For the sake of our own souls we need to take care not to live by that logic. It is not the logic of Jesus.

The logic of Jesus is love and mercy. Not sentimental or naïve love, but clear-eyed love that is prepared to take up the cross and follow the way of Jesus in self-denial. There is no doubt that in times such as ours this love involves risk. These are dangerous times and there are those who wish us harm. But, I do not see how we can be faithful to Jesus and not risk the love and the mercy that flow from belief in him. Can we ignore Lazarus at our gate (Luke 16:19-31)? Can we pass by those beaten and abandoned alongside the road (Luke 10:25-37)? Can we neglect showing hospitality to strangers knowing that thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2)? Can we say to those who come to our door in need, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and not supply their bodily needs (James 2:16)? If we do we will be acquiescing to those very evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy.

We live in dangerous times. There are evil powers in this world which corrupt and destroy. And so, there is no absolutely safe way to love with the mercy of Jesus. But our neighbors, Christian and Muslim, from Syria and beyond have been robbed and left alongside the road by the very evil powers we must resist. Part of that resistance is to welcome some of the victims seeking refuge from that evil. It is my hope that the people of Wisconsin and the Diocese of Fond du Lac will do so. We must do so wisely and with care. And we should do so trusting that God honors such love and mercy. Especially in dangerous times.

Under the Mercy,

The Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter
VIII Bishop of Fond du Lac

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Top 10 Posts of 2016

Here are the ten posts that received the most attention in 2016. Three had to do with things Anglican/Episcopal. The other seven are each from the series on mercy and delight that was my main focus on the blog for the second half of the year. That whole series seems more pertinent than ever as we move into 2017.

      Though it did not quite make the top 10, I am including this follow-up post on loving your enemies.


And just for good measure, here is #11:

Monday, January 2, 2017

Delight – Don't Forget About Delight, a Reading List

I've been posting regular thoughts and quotes on delight which, along with mercy, I think is at the heart of the Christian and message of God's grace and love and how we should live in light of that grace and love. I expect to occasionally post more on the topic, but I am going to take a break so I can focus on some other things.Below are the lyrics of a song by Bruce Cockburn. If you are interested in reading more on delight, there is a reading list after the song.

Don’t Forget About Delight

Amid the rumours and the expectations
And all the stories dreamt and lived
Amid the clangour and the dislocation
And things to fear and to forgive

Don't forget
About delight
Ya know what I'm saying to you
Don't forget
About delight
Ya know

Amid the post-ironic postulating
And the poets' pilfered rhymes
Meaning feels like it's evaporating
Out of sight and out of mind

Don't forget
About delight
Ya know what I'm saying to you
Don't forget
About delight
Ya know

Though you find yourself alone and stranded
With no friend to take your side
On the endless road afoot and empty-handed
Where the wild-eyed Cossacks ride
Don't forget
About delight
Ya know what I'm saying to you
Don't forget
About delight
Ya know

Spring birds peck among the pressed-down grasses
Clouds like zeppelins cross the sky
Anger drips and pools and then it passes
And I say a prayer that I

Don't forget
About delight
Ya know what I'm saying to you
Don't forget
About delight
Ya know
 – Bruce Cockburn

Reading list on Delight and Related Concepts:

A great short introduction to the theme:
Stewards of God’s Delight – Mark Clavier

A serious theological engagement with the topic:
The Beauty of the Infinite – David Bentley Hart

Another serious theological engagement:

A wonderful book on Christian spirituality:

What the world as we know it reveals about God:
A Joyful Theology – Sarah Maitland

A classic be one of the great medieval English theologians:
Showings – Julian of Norwich

A 17th century collection of meditations on delighting in God and creation:
Centuries of Meditations – Thomas Traherne

The poetry of Mary Oliver often expresses an attentive delight in creation

C. S. Lewis’ spiritual autobiography focuses on an understanding of longing and joy:
Surprised by Joy – C. S. Lewis

This essay by Lewis makes important points about engaging one another with delight:
The Weight of Glory – C. S. Lewis

Charles Williams was a theologian of God’s delight
Charles Williams, Selected Writings contains these essays:
The Way of Affirmation
Natural Goodness
The Way of Exchange
The Index of the Body

These two longer works are also good:
The Figure of Beatrice – Charles Williams

Romantic Theology – Charles Williams

Finally, this by a 19th century Russian Philosopher/theologian
The Meaning of Love – Vladimir Solovyov

More Mercy and Delight: