Archive for November, 2015

The Light-Hearted Saint

Monday, November 30th, 2015

As Advent begins and Christmas approaches, it’s worth reminding ourselves yet again that “Santa Claus” is a folk version of a possibly-real folk Christian saint: St. Nicholas, who was known for his charity and his love of children.

It’s also worth reminding ourselves that while our Puritan founders didn’t allow Christmas to be celebrated because of its alleged frivolity, the frivolous aspects of the holiday–like visits to Santa Claus–are among the most joyous parts of the feast.

And it is a feast. The Feast of the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ. A very serious holy day, true. But, at the same time, a feast to lighten the heaviest of hearts. Let us prepare our souls for the visit of the Light-Hearted Saint–and the Holy One for whom he stands. —J. Douglas Ousley

Is The Christian Century Christian?

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

I am a long-time subscriber to The Christian Century; I even published a couple of pieces in the magazine. For decades, it has been the leading chronicle of liberal Christian opinion. Some of the biggest names in mainline Protestant circles regularly write for the Century.

I won’t deny the possibility of prejudice on my part, but I find the journal increasingly aggravating. Its politics reflect without exception the left-wing of the U.S. Democratic Party. Its theology reflects the most recent victim ideologies of the day.

Even though many writers give nods to tradition, they invariably tend to go beyond what Christians used to believe in order to offer an improved version. The problem is, their version is always blowing in the PC wind, and it is always an attenuated rendition of the ancient Christian faith. The only explanation I can think of would be that the editors and writers are trying to impress their agnostic intellectual friends in secular political circles with their progressive views.

The long time editor (and former Democratic Congressman) John Buchanan is finally retiring. Perhaps his successor will be more independent and imaginative in his opinions. —J. Douglas Ousley


Monday, November 16th, 2015

Already left-of-center voices in our church are warning of “backlash” against Muslims and “demonizing” the Islamic terrorists.

I wouldn’t challenge the idea that Christians are in favor of peace (though I wonder more and more about Muslims.) But if the Paris attacks weren’t demonic, what were they? —J. Douglas Ousley

The Church That Gives Blessings

Friday, November 13th, 2015

As I was returning a book to the library in a club that I belong to, the librarian saw me and asked me a question. She knew vaguely where my parish was located and she asked, “Is your church the one that gives blessings?”

Apparently, the librarian had been walking by the church one morning and seen our Associate Rector on the steps, offering to pray with passers-by if they desired. Each time Adrian has done this, a dozen or more people have stopped. I urged the librarian to get in line if she needed a prayer sometime.

I can’t imagine any better nickname than “the Church that gives blessings.” —J. Douglas Ousley

Most Reverend

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Last Sunday, Bishop Michael Curry was installed as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. In written form he is now addressed as “the Most Reverend Michael Curry.”

Up to recent times, American Presiding Bishops hadn’t used this form of address, which is appropriate for archbishops such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby Instead, Americans had gone by the title, “the Right Reverend”–the slightly less pretentious form of addressing a bishop.

But now the office and title have followed the general culture trend of inflating and magnifying social positions. What Jesus would have made of all this is anyone’s guess (and I say this as one whose written title is “the Reverend Canon”!)

In any event, Bishop Curry strikes one in person as a humble man. And his introductory video talks about following Jesus. Fortunately, one can be a disciple with no title at all. —J. Douglas Ousley