Sample Text

Why a name like incurvatus in se?
“...our nature, by the corruption of the first sin, is so deeply curved in on itself that it not only bends the best gifts of God toward itself and enjoys them...or rather even uses God himself in order to attain these gifts, but it also fails to realize that it so wickedly, curvedly, and viciously seeks all things, even God, for its own sake." (Martin Luther, WA 56:304)
It would seem natural, then, that anything on this blog is going to be curved inward... towards myself.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Soul Searching (Christian Smith)

Soul Searching is the landmark study documenting the religious beliefs and practices of American adolescents.  It is exhaustive in scope, comprehensive in detail, yet it is an extremely readable book that should be a part of the library of every pastor living throughout the United States, and should call for the attention of those working with adolescents within the church.  But it should not stop there: this book should not only form, but should be given a place to transform the way in which Christian leaders plan and interact with adolescents.

Reasons Why You Should Read Soul Searching

As one who is regularly involved in the lives of youth and their families on a local church level, I have interacted with the most popular resources pertaining to youth ministry throughout the past several years.  To my disappointment after reading Soul Searching, I was reminded that nearly all of those books make assumptions about what adolescents believe and how they act without providing the social statistics to reinforce or refute those claims.

The major benefit of spending time with this book is that much of the data discredits the majority of popular literature published by religious organizations and publishers, as one will soon discover when reading this book, for example, that adolescents are not as hostile towards religion as adults may imagine.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

An Introduction - Reflections from St. Anselm

There are many ways that I could begin.  My mind still feels consumed with my last 24 page project that is due next Wednesday, but despite that, I could not help but think back to St. Anselm from his Monologion and Proslogion.  Even though my brain exploded when pouring through this text a number of years ago, the way in which he broke into thanks at seemingly random times still captures me today.  In the circles that I was running with at the time, I was a rebel for being captivated by Anselm, but I suspect that the crowd that I am running with today just thinks that I am a dork.  That's much better than being a rebel with a cause.  I can totally live with that.  (But my wife thinks I am cool.)

Anyway, at one point, Anselm wrote,

"Oh my Lord and my God, you who have fashioned me and refashioned me, tell my longing soul what you are besides what it has seen, that it might see purely what it longs to see.  It strives to see more, but beyond what it has already seen it sees nothing but darkness.  Or rather, it does not see darkness, for 'in you there is no darkness'  (1 John 1:5); it sees that it cannot see more because of its own darkness.  Why is this, Lord, why is this?  Is its eye darkened by its own infirmity, or is it dazzled by your splendor?  Surely it is both darkened in itself and dazzled by you.  Indeed it is both obscured by its own littleness and overwhelmed by your vastness.  Truly it is both pinched by its own narrowness and vanquished by your fullness.  How great is that light, for from it flashes every truth that enlightens the rational mind!  How full is that truth, for in it is everything that is true, and outside it is only nothingness and falsehood!  How vast it is, for in one glance it sees all created things, and it sees by whom and through whom and how they were created from nothing!  What purity, what simplicity, what certainty and splendor are there!  Truly it is more than any creature can understand."  (Anselm, Monologion and Proslogion With the Replies of Gaunilo and Anselm. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1996, pg. 109)

I am specifically reflecting on his words, "[my longing soul] sees that it cannot see more because of its own darkness."  This poses the paradox: "is its eye darkened by its own infirmity, or is it dazzled by your splendor?  Surely it is both darkened in itself and dazzled by you."

I, though much less of a man that Anselm ever was, share his predicament: my longing soul is both darkened in itself but at the same time, mysteriously, is completely dazzled by God.

So, I will finish with these words of Anselm that we should all know, which are, "I do not seek to understand in order to believe.  I believe in order to understand."  (ibid, 99)

Anselm spoke of it, too, so I guess that I really, really am curved in on myself... but, I will still believe in order to understand.  Any help that I can get along the way will be greatly appreciated.