Archive for March, 2017

The Pleasure of the Text

Friday, March 24th, 2017

The noted French literary critic, Roland Barthes once wrote a book entitled, The Pleasure of the Text (Le plaisir du texte.) As the title indicates, the book describes the many joys of reading.

Our new Incarnation Book Club has been experiencing some of these joys. Our most recent meeting featured a spirited discussion of Muriel Burbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

One of the protagonists of the novel is a concierge in an upper-class Paris apartment building. Unbeknownst to the tenants of the building, she is an autodidact who is far better-read than any of the people she is subservient to. Happily, in the end, the concierge emerges from her shell and becomes the real and happy public self she was meant to be.

Most of us have a tendency to retreat into our private selves from time to time. Burbery’s book reminds us that the public selves God gives us can also bring us pleasure. —J. Douglas Ousley

Preaching to Ourselves

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Lent can be wearying. It can often seem longer than 40 days and 40 nights!

But one way to make the season more productive is to ask ourselves, what is this Lent teaching us? Are we learning to be more patient? This Lent, I’m watching what I eat more than usual and abstaining from meat, and I am reminded once again how much I love what I eat and how strong my appetite is. I’m grateful for that, of course, but I know that I need to reign myself in as well.

The very long Gospel readings teach us how complicated religion can be. Our faith isn’t simple or simplistic; it requires all that our minds can put into it.

Finally, Lent may seem long, but it does pass. And the passing time reminds us to measure our days and be grateful even for the challenges our days bring. —J. Douglas Ousley


Still On the Fence

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

As I mentioned last week, the Vestry planned to discuss the current political climate during our annual Quiet Day on March 11.

The discussion did indeed take place, and while there were no startling opinions or conclusions, I felt the dialogue was very worthwhile. Both conservatives and liberals were able (gently!) to let off steam. And the group generally agreed that in the midst of so many passionate views, our parish should remain officially neutral.

I recognize that there are good arguments for taking a stand against or in favor of the current government. But precisely because there are arguments on each side, I’m inclined to think that the best place for us as a parish remains on the fence. —J. Douglas Ousley


Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Our Vestry has its annual quiet day this coming Saturday, and I have been asked to lead a discussion. The topic of the discussion is how parish life is being affected by the change of administrations in Washington.

Certainly, a lot of people are asking a lot of questions these days. Christians are not unusual in finding the current political scene perplexing. Many Christians who are conservative politically are finding it hard to confess to their liberal friends that they are Trump supporters. Many Christians who are liberal politically feel an alienation and a desperation that they haven’t felt in years.

I myself am trying to maintain a neutral stance in order to be available to people in both camps. I’m sympathetic to both sides, though I find the uncertainty in Washington troubling.

One thing we can be sure of, though: our President and the others in authority with him need our prayers!–J. Douglas Ousley