Dec 24 2010

Miriam of Nazareth

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

     Miriam of Nazareth, mother of Jesus the Son of God, has been the focus of my Advent meditations since my high school days. Then I always got to “be” her in the church Christmas play. All I had to do was sit there and look serene. I never had a line to say, but being somewhat of an actress, I always tried to imagine her character and how her face would appear to those who came to worship Jesus and then try to project that image. The costume I wore was always blue and made of fine material. There was not a knub or snag or tear anywhere in it and certainly no blood or signs of my having just gone through labor and the birth of a baby in the stable. Why wouldn’t a woman look serene under those made-up conditions?
     As time went on and I lived with the words of the Magnifcat, I came to believe that there was more to Miriam of Nazareth than the beautiful Madonna I had tried to portray. She must have been very aware of the conditions of the world around her and social justice was on her mind. Even as she “pondered these things in her heart” she must have been thinking  what the birth of her precious baby boy would mean to the world.
     Over the years I have read the passages in the Gospels where she is mentioned and have come more and more to see her as a woman of great strength and conviction—how else could she have raised such son. Then one day, not too many years ago, I discovered the passage in Acts which says she was among the people gathered in the upper room at Pentecost. Imagine that! She wasn’t afraid to gather with people who were under suspicion by the Roman government and the Jewish authorities. And maybe, quite likely, she was one of the ones who spoke in tongues.
     Legend has it that the Disciple John took her with him—I am going to say it this way: she and the Disciple John moved to Ephesus where he most surely preached and taught. And if he did, she must have too. What a picture develops when we take away the trappings of a rich, well-cared for, untroubled new mother and look at what little we know of her life! Generations have revered her as the Mother of God, but however true that is, she is more importantly an example for all of us who so desire  to follow. She was a person who gave her lifeself so completely to God that she risked her life and her reputation to do what God called her to do.

No responses yet

Nov 23 2010

Aardvark

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

This blog has absolutely nothing to do with the aardvark which the dictionary tells us is a burrowing African mammal that is active chiefly at night eating ants and termites.  I chose this title because I hate it that when a someone  googles my name the first word that comes up from my blogs is “abomination.”     

     I want people to read that blog because it is a good one, but I just don’t want that to be the first word people see.  So I chose Aardvark. I could have chosen Aachen, a city in Germany, or Aar, a river in Switzerland, or aardwolf, a South African animal that also  eats ants.

    I could also have just labeled this blog “AA” or “AAA” like plumbers and electricians and taxi companies do in order to come first in the phone book. However,  I chose aardvark because it was the first word I thought of that would come before “abomination” in an alphabetical listing of my blog titles.  So please read the Abomination blog, but don’t let that be the first word you think of when you think of me.  Think: aardvark.

No responses yet

Oct 24 2010

Loosing My Mind

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

Dorothee Soelle,one of the world’s best known and most widely read theologians,  reports that someone once said to her, “They who do not lose their mind over certain things have no mind to lose.” (The Silent Cry, pg. 255)  What that says to me is that I do have a mind!  What is causing me to lose it these days is all the political jabber about how badly  the Democrats and President Obama are going to lose in the upcoming elections.

It is causing me to go insane because I believe  that everyone should be given a chance to do the job they have been hired for. In this case the job they have been elected to. Maybe, just maybe, more and better things could be accomplished if  the myriad of critical words that spew forth from the TV and from the newspapers would focus instead on  the accomplishments of Congress and the President.

What is at stake is the future of our country and the richness (not financial-wise) of our heritage of being one nation with regard for one another.

No responses yet

Sep 30 2010

God-Sophia

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

Any name we use for God is a metaphor.  Even the names father, judge, king, lord are metaphors.  A metaphor is a word we use for something that we have not seen or cannot describe so we use as a parallel something that we have seen or heard.   For instance, many people who have been in  a tornado say  it sounds like a big lcomotive coming down the railroad tracks. They can think of no other words to describe the powerful sound of such a dangerous storm.  There is no way any human being can describe God in her fullness. Thus, we use metaphors when we want to talk about or talk to God. 

Using the name Sophia for God has roots in the Old Testament, the apocrypha and Gnostic Christianity  where God was identified with wisdom. The Hebrew word for wisdom is  hokmah.  The Latin word for wisdom is sapientia. The Greek word for wisdom is sophia.   Wisdom is the most developed personification of God’s presence and activity in the Hebrew scriptures.  “The fact that these words are feminine in gender does not by itself settle any argument about the nature of the Spirit; however, the Bible itself consistently depicts Wisdom as female.  She is described as sister, mother, female beloved, cook, hostess and numerous other roles associated with women’s work. These are the means by whichWisdom fill the world and interacts with nature and human beings to lure them along the path that leads to life.”  (Learning a New Language, Speech About Women and God.  54.)  This quote is from the book I wrote about using expanisve language for God. If you want to read more about Sophia  the book is available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. or you can have your local book store order it for you.

No responses yet

Sep 24 2010

Ear Candy

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

Violin music is not usually ear candy for me.  I appreciate it’s indispensability  in ensembles, but as a solo instrument, I usually find it something to be listened to in order to get to the real heart of the work.  With one exception. A friend in Chicago invited me to a special performance of a German composer’s work–I can’t think of his name right now.

The first piece was a violin solo. The minute the violinist played the first note I felt the sweetest sensation! I wanted to cry during her whole solo.  It made me feel so good and peaceful  that I could only think what a  different world this would be if we could all hear music like that every day. Afterwards my friend told me that she was playing a Stradivarious!

That was probably twenty years ago and I still think of the beauty of that moment. This morning I was reading The Enchantment of Everyday Life by Thomas Moore.  In the chapter entitled “Noise and Silence” he suggests we should have “ear police ” protecting us from disturbing sounds in our neighborhoods. “The result would be an advance toward enchantment even in our cities, for the ears are the most intimate organs of the soul.”

He writes: “Sound is one of the most direct and simple means we have at our disposal for enchanting life and caring for the soul.  There is no reason why we could not tune our world, keep it at pitch, and allow only the most forgiving dissonances.  The soul would then be ready for joy and pleasrue, and not be crimped into protective postures in absolute horror at the noise we allow to be characteristic of civilization.”

“The soul would be ready for joy and pleasure.”   We could enjoy ear candy.

No responses yet

Sep 03 2010

Sophia in the Bible Part III

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

In Learning a New Language I wrote:  “Sophia is described with similar passion [as in the book of Proverbs] and color in the Jewish Apocrypha  in the books of the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus orThe Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach, and Baruch which were included in the first translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek, the Septuagint.  These books were rejected by the Jewish communities of Palestine and by rabbinic authorities of later times. The Aprocrypha is printed between the testaments in many editions of the bible today and is accepted as canonical by the Roman Catholic Church.   Because Protestants do not accept it as cannonical, it does not have the same authority in Protestant theology and is practically unknown to a large segment of Christianity. In contrast to the Jewish communities and rabbis who rejected them, they were accepted by the early Christian community as being appropriate for guiding its life and thought.  They were part of the expression of the faith in the days of the early church.  As first century Christians tried to express their experiences of salvation in Jesus Christ, they searched the Hebrew scriptures and the Hellenistic culture for ways to proclaim the Good News in speech and in writing.  In the process of that search they found frequently used names such as Son of God, Son of Man, Messiah and Logos, but theyalso found the names Wisdom/Sophia.”

This passage from  the Apocryphal book, Wisdom of Solomon, sends my spirit soaring every time I read it.  It is in chapter 6, verses 12-16.  It is surrounded by equally elegant verses about Sophia.

Wisdom is radiant and unfading,
and she is easily discerned by those who love her,
and is found by those who seek her.
13 She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her.
14 One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty,
for she will be found sitting at the gate.
15 To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding,
and one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care,
16 because she goes about seeking those worthy of her,
and she graciously appears to them in their paths,
and meets them in every thought.

Indeed, she is seeking us and she appears to us in every aspect of our lives when we fix our thoughts on her.

No responses yet

Aug 27 2010

Sophia in the Bible

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

When the writers of the Hebrew scriptures wrote about Sophia/Wisdom  they were not writing about a goddess.  They were writing about God.  The word they used  for wisdom was hokmah.  When their writings were translated into Latin, wisdom became sapientia and when the works were translated into Greek the Greek word for wisdom was used: Sophia.

In an early stage of the personification of Sophia/Wisdom Job, in his agony,  cries out in the twenty-eighth chapter   wondering where Sophia is.  The answer is that human beings don’t know their way to her, but God does.  Her next appearance is in the Book of Proverbs where she is characterized as the giver of life (Prov.4:13).  In Proverbs 8  she appears as a street preacher  where she announces that she has knowledge, insight, and strength that she wishes to give to her hearers.  She tells them that her words are more valuable than the finest gold or silver, that she loves those who love her and promises that those who seek her will find her.  All  she says echoes the words of Yahweh.  Chapter 9 goes on to liken her to a construction worker, butcher, vintner, sender of prophets and compelling hostess.

All  these passages show Sophia to be a personified figure who moves towards human beings with tests and challenges.  In her book, She Who Is, The Mystery of God in Feminine Theological Discourse, Dr. Elizabeth A. Johnson describes her with these words:  “She is a beneficient, right-ordering power in whom God delights and by whom God creates; her constant effort is to lure human beings into life.”

In all my years in church and seminary I was taught nothing about Sophia.  When I read She Who Is a whole new way of responding to God opened up to me.  It has enriched my spiritual life immeasurably.  As I prayed through her thoughts I felt a longing to share these riches with others. As a result of  her  poetic-prose  theology, I wrote my first book, Learning a New Lanaguage, Speech About Women and God.   Both of our books are available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

The revelations about Sophia in the Bible don’t stop with Job and Proverbs.  She appears in surprising places and not as a Greek goddess whose worship is thought by some to be an abomination.

No responses yet

Aug 26 2010

Sophia and Abomination

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

There is no way that these two words should be spoken of as related!  Saying that worshipping Sophia is an abomination is to totally ignore how opposite the two words are.  I guess if you are someone who can only understand God as a God limited by gender and as a jealous and narrow God, it might be an acceptable thought for you. Worshipping a goddess would probably be an abomination, vile, shameful and detestable.

On the other hand if you are searching for expansive names for God that will enrich your spiritual life and draw  you nearer to Her, it would be hard to find a better metaphor  than Sophia for God.   Her traits include: righteousness, wisdom, love, communication,  creativity, protection, generous and truthful.   She has also been named the mother of Faith, Hope and Charity.  Sophia gives these gifts to us. If we worshipped her, not as a goddess necessarily, but as an authentic name for God, She would flow through us to  overcome the despair, confusion, and suffering that frame human life.  Not only is Sophia a good name for God in a world community sense, but aslo as a personal, divine companion. She teaches that  clear vision and understanding line the path that leads to the discovery of the meaning of your life.

Worshipping the One God, Yahweh, was the most important aspect of the early Hebrew people.  Abolishing the worship of idols was the cause of the day. But the sacred written words they have left us and the  scripture Christians hold sacred as well are full of Sophia wisdom.   How that can be will be my blog for tomorrow.

No responses yet

Aug 25 2010

An Abomination

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

Recently I was told that worshipping the goddess Sophia is an abomination.  If I wasn’t so involved with Sophia, I would have let that comment pass without a second thought–just that the speaker is hide bound and missing a great spiritual experience.  But since I regularly use “Sophia” as one of the names for God that I use in my prayer time, I have been driven to think about the meaning of abomination.

When in doubt always go to a dictionary. So here is what an online dictionary told me about the word: it is a noun meaning intense loathing, detestation.  It is a vile shameful, or detestable action, condition or habit.

After reading that definition and pondering it for awhile I think that when someone says something is an abomination it could mean that they have an intense loathing or detestation for something. That makes it seem like abomination should be a verb. In this case the woman who inspired this blog was saying that such worship is vile and detestable and that anyone who does it should be ashamed. 

My list of abominable things would include  pedophilia, rape, torture, murder, war, prejudice, oppression.  Somehow, worshipping Sophia doesn’t fit in with those abominations.  Not even close!  More tomorrow on Sophia and what She has meant in my life.  Not goddess Sophia, but rather the God who is the Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer of all that is and should be called by many names.

No responses yet

Aug 05 2010

Sweet Relief

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

For three years I have been writing a book about prayer titled From Heaven to My Heart, God’s Journey With Me . For six plus months I have been looking for a publisher and being rejected. Finally, about a  month ago I decided to self-publish it as I did my first book, Learning a New Language, Speech About Women and God.  My time since then has been consumed with manuscript preparation such as formatting and editing.

What a sweet relief! An hour ago I emailed the revised material to iUniverse.com (the publisher I chose) and now it will move into the design stage.  I hope it will be available from Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com by the second week of October.

My book writing experience has convinced me that when God puts a thought, such as writing a book,  into my heart  She will help me accomplish it.  How else could I have stayed with such projects. The first book took me eight years to write!

It  was all hard work and  now I need to keep working hard to find peole who will buy them. After all my purpose inwriting them was to help people find a life with God that is rich and meaningful.

P.S. Can you believe it?  I am already thinking about the next one.

No responses yet

« Prev - Next »