In a recent BBC Broadcast, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, talking about the terrorist attacks in Paris asked of God, “Where are you in all this?” To me, the answer seems fairly obvious, Calvary. Yet, I too must admit that I’ve had doubts about my own faith. Calvary and the terrorist attacks in Paris are both beyond my comprehension.
I think this illustrates an important idea about faith. It is often said that the opposite of faith is not doubt, the opposite of faith is certainty, or that the opposite of faith is fear. I do not believe that the terrorists in Paris were people of faith. I particularly, I do not believe they were people of faith in the God of Abraham, like me Jewish, Muslim, and Christian brothers and sisters are. They were people who had given themselves over to hateful certainty aimed at destroying faith by creating fear.
To me, the bigger question is, where is God in the responses to the terrorist attacks. God seems to be particularly missing in the responses of many politicians that claim to be Christian. Echoing my response to Archbishop Welby’s question, I respond that God is in the welcoming of mother giving birth and placing her baby in a manger because there was no room at the Inn; that God is in the flight of a parents taking their baby son to Egypt to protect their son from being killed by a ruthless political leader; that God is in the story told by the son, years later, explained the idea of being a neighbor by talking about a Samaritan man taking care of a victim of violence.
In each of these stories, there is an important theme, that of ‘journey’. I’ve been thinking a lot about my own journey this past year as I’ve struggled with the question of where does God want me to be in all of this. One friend talked about her desire to walk the Camino de Santiago, a famous pilgrim’s journey in northern Spain. The Camino has become a metaphor I use for my own journey.
Online, I’ve participated in #Rhizo15 and #DigiWriMo, two explorations into writing and teaching online that often talk about maps, journeys and getting lost and yesterday, I stumbled across an online meditation, in a blog called, Walk With me on Our Journey.
Today is the last Sunday of the liturgical calendar, where we celebrate Christ the King. Next week, we start the new liturgical calendar with Advent, a time of waiting and preparation for the coming of Christ. We start a new journey from waiting for the incarnation and grieving the crucifixion to celebrating the resurrection. Many, during Holy week will journey through the Stations of the Cross, a journey through grief, a journey to Calvary, a journey to the terrorist attacks of Paris, and a journey that ultimately brings us to Easter.
I am distracted. It has been a long week, which isn’t over yet. This morning the sky is still grey and the remaining leaves are still orange brown. I am still going to bed early, not sleeping well, and waking up early. Perhaps it is good that #NaNoWriMo and #DigiWriMo take place in November, after we change back from daylight savings time. I am awake early, which is often my best writing time.
But I’m still distracted. I glance at the time. Do I have enough time to write a good blog post before I need to get in the shower and get on with my day?
I spend a little time reading about William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury during World War II. Today is his feast day in the Episcopal Church. I should spend more time reading about him and reading the lessons appointed for this day.
We’ve been talking about cartography in #DigiWriMo and I’ve been thinking about Songlines, about the dreaming track. Writing digitally is part of my dream time. It is the pile of stones I leave along my path.
I think of such piles of stones and I think of cairns and burial monuments.
In her blog post, Kate writes about the markers as a way of saying “I was just here. We all were.” I think of the monument friends put up digitally after a friend’s son died. “Isaac was here”. I joined in, both in my writing, and physically. My wife and I drew “Isaac was here” in the sand on Cape Cod on the day of Isaac’s funeral.
As I read Kate’s words, I think of the idea of becoming, by being, of saying something, and by saying it, making it happen. We become connect to others. We pay greater attention. I’m reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, “An Altar in the World”. Currently, I’m reading the chapter, “The Practice of Paying Attention”.
It is a hard discipline in this over stimulated world, especially for those of us who probably would have been diagnosed with ADHD when we were younger.
I’ve managed to pay enough attention long enough this morning to write this blog post, but probably not enough to give it a good editing. I’ll hop in the shower, and then head off to work, trying to keep my eyes open for traces.
Let’s suppose that in some parallel, there is another #digiwrimo blogger equally dazed by dawn, walking on the other side of the valley. Equally somnambulist in reverie.
As I read his blog post, I started composing a comment as a response, oxygen for his blog as he journeys. But I got to the quote above and thought, I am the parallel. I had been writing about the fog where I live, as a comment to a friend’s Facebook post about fog, and in my own short poem
As the mist lifts,
the remaining leaves
now brownish orange
cling to the trees.
Yes, I too, “too think of blogging as creative catharsis and personal archaeology”. Yet my writing is not academic writing. I write as a social media. Although, today, I’ll go speak at a junior high school career day about being a social media manager.
As to adding comments to the stuff I wrote prior to the 1990s, in 1983, after I had been on the Internet for a year, but not sharing my personal writings there, I’ve started putting some of that online. 1983. I haven’t been back to see if people left comments, and the project got put on hold when we packed up my journals and moved.
Fifteen years ago, Kim and I made vows to love, comfort, honor, and keep one another, in sickness and in health. A year later, we vowed to see that our daughter Fiona would be brought up in Christian faith and life. These are important vows, sacred vows, but they are not the only important sacred vows that were made on those days.
After Kim and I made those vows, the whole congregation was asked, “Will all of you witnessing these promises do all in your power to uphold these two persons in their marriage?”
They answered, “We will”.
Likewise, when Fiona was baptized, the whole congregation was asked, “Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ?”
Again, the answer was, “We will”.
Over the past fifteen years, we’ve had more than our share of sickness. I write this as Kim continues to recover from sinus surgery. Over the past fifteen years, there have been plenty of times when those who attended our wedding had the opportunity to act on their vows and support us in our marriage and in our raising of Fiona. To those who have kept their vow to help us keep our vows, “thank you”.
Kim and I have likewise made similar vows to others and done what we can to support them. Yet, to me, it is about more than just the vows that we make, in person, at a baptism or wedding. We are part of the very body of Christ. By making those vows, we join with the vows made at all weddings and baptisms and we have spent time honoring those vows by upholding friends torn by grief or addiction, even though we were at their weddings or baptisms, not in person, but as part of the body of Christ.
I am writing this as part of a broader context. Besides being members of the body of Christ, I am also a member of an online community of writers, the participants in #DigiWriMo. Yesterday I started a discussion with Kyle Matthew Oliver about Digital Cathedrals. How is the sacred manifest online? How does it relate to what we are doing in #DigiWrimo? Kevin Hodgson jumped in with a great tweet:
“That idea of the journey to discover who we are through writing is key. We help each other along the way.”
For many, the language of liturgy, church, and religion may be a barrier, so I’ll take Kevin’s tweet, and rework it to the Liturgy of #DigiWriMo, something I hope will be accessible to people no matter what their faith structure.
“Will all of you participating in #DigiWriMo do all in your power to help other participants discover who they are through their digital writing?”
On the first two days of #DigiWriMo, I managed to put together four different, fairly long blog posts. I haven’t stated goals, like 50,000 words for the month, a blog post a day, or anything like that. Instead, I’ve set off without any specific goals, other than to write and interact.
Today, I read through various posts and none of them particularly gave me grist for the mill. Probably the closest was Kyle Matthew Oliver’s blog post, #DIGIWRIMO POST: ONE WORLD, ONE LIFE IN THE DIGITAL CATHEDRAL. It was exciting to see another #DigiWriMo participant interested in topics like this, but I didn’t find anything that I felt compelled to react to.
My one random reaction was to mash up the title of two books, The Digital Cathedral, which Kyle refers to and The Cathedral and the Bazaar. The Digital Cathedral, The Digital Bazaar, and … What about the digital hermitage? The Digital Camino? Perhaps all of this returns to the discussions of cartography.
This weekend, I am going on a church retreat, and we’ll be reading a chapter from Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, An Altar in the World. Should I be thinking about An Altar in Cyberspace? I checked the book out of the library. It seems like I keep running across people suggesting I should read some of Barbara Brown Taylor’s books, so I’ll read a little now. Then, I really should try to get to the online book study group that I’ve barely been keeping up with.
Postscript: After writing this, I went to check Facebook and found a sponsored post from Amazon highlight The Posthuman and An Altar in The World. Clearly, Amazon is paying attention. Can we learn anything from this for a digital church strategy?