Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I have wandered...

over to ...

I will keep this site but will no longer be adding to it. I have migrated most of my postings and the majority of responses to the new site.

Please join me in my new home, which I hope will be fairly stable.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The New Website...

Well, is slowly shaping up. Aesthetics are almost there (unless I decide to do a late-night redesign), but I still have to migrate this blog over...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Habemus Papam: We Have a Pope

Preface: I thought against writing this. Not because I didn’t feel called to speak on the issue, but because I have Church History readings to complete and I am very far behind. Who has time to blog? But as I thought about it further I realized that this is the perfect time to blog, that I have the chance to engage with history as it is being made, to reflect on what is happening. With that said, I’d like to offer an extended reflection on Ratzinger’s election to leadership of the Catholic Church.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Cardinal Bishop of Surburbicarian Sees of Ostia and Velletri-Segni, and prior Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was named Pope by the College of Cardinals today. He has taken the name Benedict (XVI), and is the first German pontiff since the 11th century.

I was raised Catholic, so the issue has some personal relevance to me; I’ve long argued that there is a certain sociology and psychology to being raised Catholic that is hard to move away from. I’ve long ago left the Roman Catholic Church, but my spiritual roots lie in Catholicism. And as a seminarian, a budding religionist, the issue of the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church should have some professional interest to me as well. Beyond those areas of familiarity, though, I am not necessarily qualified to speak with authority on this issue; I only marginally followed Ratzinger’s career, and issues of Catholic ecclesiology or polity are beyond my scope.

To be sure, I am distressed that Ratzinger is the new pope; distressed, but hardly surprised. Pope John Paul II has been naming conservative cardinals for over two decades, and at the same time, dismissing and silencing theologians whose voices were too liberal or progressive for him. The college of cardinals is not a random sampling of theological persuasions, and the pool was skewed toward the right.

The man who has been chosen was not merely a conservative cardinal; John Paul II’s right-hand man (no need to use inclusive language here), the enforcer of Catholic orthodox doctrine. In fact, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF)—the institutional descendent of the Inquisition—Ratzinger has officially weighed down heavily on the many issues of importance to me, to liberal Catholics, and to those Catholics who have personally suffered from repressive orthodoxy.

Take, for example, his view on Catholic voters:
A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate's permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.

(2004 memorandum to Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, D.C.)
So much for freedom of conscience.

But before I can bemoan too loudly the new pope, let's look at the realities. There wasn’t going to be any other kind of pope.

Even the talk of the possibility of a pope from Central America or Africa wasn’t going to give us a theological progressive. Sure, we might've ended up with a non-European, and multi-culti Peregrinato rejoices in that prospect. But like I said: JPII has been “stacking the deck” with his conservative cardinals from early on; liberation theologians (those who identify the struggle of the poor against oppression as intrinsic to the Gospel) have been silenced, and the religious leaders--not just the Roman Catholic cardinals-- from the southern hemisphere are conservative across the board. The same is true with the Anglican communion.

And consider the following from the Christian Science Monitor:
"I thought it would be him," said Georges Barimousirwe, a Catholic seminarian visiting Rome from Congo. "He is very severe; we need a man who can put the church back into its place."
True, this is one quote, but I'm going to submit that it is representative of the theological ethos south of the equator. Philip Jenkins wrote about this global theological shift in "The Next Christianity":
In the global South (the areas that we often think of primarily as the Third World) huge and growing Christian populations — currently 480 million in Latin America, 360 million in Africa, and 313 million in Asia, compared with 260 million in North America — now make up what the Catholic scholar Walbert Buhlmann has called the Third Church, a form of Christianity as distinct as Protestantism or Orthodoxy, and one that is likely to become dominant in the faith. The revolution taking place in Africa, Asia, and Latin America is far more sweeping in its implications than any current shifts in North American religion, whether Catholic or Protestant. There is increasing tension between what one might call a liberal Northern Reformation and the surging Southern religious revolution... (The Atlantic vol 290, no. 3, Oct. 2002)
Were people really expecting anything different? A person of color is not necessarily a liberal. An African pope would quite possibly give us a different cultural perspective, but his theology would still have been theologically conservative, and doctrinally ultra-orthodox. (Let's remember that St Augustine of Hippo was, in fact, from North Africa, and this Carthaginian Bishop shaped Christian theology for centuries.)

And, also to the point: This is not a step backward. Ratzinger--pardon me, Benedict XVI--wil be following the footsteps of JPII. It is not like the Church has lost a pioneering crusader for theological reform, another John XXIII. It will be more of the same, a continuation of the old policy that has alienated Catholics, driven some from the Church, and driven many away from a life of faith entirely.

This is where the Church was heading. No one can be surprised.

I feel obligated to end on something other than pure gloom. In doing some research, I learned that--according to one vegetarian website, at least--Ratzinger is quoted as saying:
That is a very serious question. At any rate, we can see that they are given into our care, that we cannot just do whatever we want with them. Animals, too, are God's creatures . . . Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.
What’s my point? That the Inquisitor-turned-Pope is really a good guy because he cares about the bunnies? That this makes up for his gays-are-evil stance? Not at all.

But it does help me to find something of virtue in him, something I can connect with and say that his theology is not absolutely bankrupt. Certainly, as the defender of orthodoxy, he has spoken vehemently against things of vital importance to me—gay rights, gay marriage, the ordination of women, and so on. Hell, he even opposed Turkey's joining the European Union. (No room for a Muslim country in Christian Europe.) But seeing this, I have to recognize and accept that his theology is complex and not one-sided, and as such is one of many faithful representations of the spectrum of Catholic theology. There's still some room for grace in there.

There's no telling what the future holds for the pontiff or the Church. I'm not a soothsayer, and I'm not a skilled enough interpreter of Catholicism to discern a trajectory out of what happens here. I can only hope and pray that Benedict XVI exercises wise pastoral leadership--for his sake, and for the sake of the many Catholics whose lives he will have an impact on.

For now, I can only look at this situation the way I look at any challenging situation in life: I expect the worse; but I also hope for the best. And reality will probably be somewhere in between.

Pax vobiscum.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Inquisitor named Pope

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Cardinal Bishop of Surburbicarian Sees of Ostia and Velletri-Segni, and prior Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith*, was named Pope by the College of Cardinals today. He has taken the name Benedict.

For those hoping for progress and reform of the Roman Catholic Church: keep hoping:
He was also strictly traditional on issues of sexuality and the role of women in the church, which won him support among some Catholics but alienated others. Similar disagreement exists over the next pontiff's stances on issues such as birth control, stem cell research and the ordination of female priests. (CNN, 4/19/2005)
Unless he pulls a surprising John XXIII on the Church, don't expect much progress.

*It is worth mentioning that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was founded in 1542 and known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition. (Yes, *that* Inquisition. It just changed names in 1908.) Oh well... at least he thought the Church should apologize for the execution of Giordano Bruno.

Monday, April 18, 2005

peregrinato's logo?

Working on designs for, specifically the logo/header.

I've liked the Aquiline typeface ever since I saw it. When I began playing with logos, there was something about the P on it that screamed to make it a chalice. Funny that--I accept the chalice as the denominational logo of the association, and I recognize it is a part of much UU visual proclamation and ritual (though not at my church); but I've never been very chalicocentric. (Yes, I'm making up words.) I'm certainly not opposed to it, don't get me wrong. But I saw the P in this font, thought "chalice" and went with it. Also, I'll add..the flame for me is more about Holy Wisdom, Sophia, and maybe I'm just in a pentecostal kinda mood.

Comments welcome.

Update: looks like this (or a subtle variation) will be what I'm using on, with just the single "P" for a square avatar.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

"Linguistic Profile"

via Terrance

Your Linguistic Profile:

45% General American English

30% Yankee

20% Dixie

5% Upper Midwestern

0% Midwestern

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Unitarian Universalist Pneumatology

Just musing here, and noting a direction for future reading and reflection.

In today's class (Foundations of Christian Spirituality) we discussed charistmatic and pentecostalist spirituality, and there were guest speakers in class, two African pentcostostalists. The liberal Christian in me balked at some of the assertions, but I was intruiged by a major premise: that the Christian believer is marked by a relationship with the Holy Spirit; that the Holy Spirit is neither "the Force", some impersonal abstrace energy, or some esoteric power of 2000 years ago, but is the living presence of God. To have this relationship, one would be on fire and empowered. And the worship that accompanied this proclamation was very charismatic: the Holy Spirit was invited into the room, healing was prayed for--it was dramatic, and emotional, and not the philosophical, emotionless-to-the-point-of-dour worship that would befit the descendents of the Puritans. (Look, I've been to larger gatherings, and sometimes there is life and energy, but sometime's its on the level of a Donny & Marie concert.) If you don't know what I'm talking about, perform a sociological experiment: go to a charismatic worship service, and for a short time turn off your theological filters. Just observe the emotional investment in the two types of worship. You'll understand the difference. Do we need to turn off our heart to engage our mind?

But that is a major digression.

The real point is that I began to think about UU pneumatology. Is there one? I might suggest that there isn't a clearly defined theology of the holy spirit, but the Holy Spirit might really be the only survivor of the Trinity in Unitarian theology. This is really a draft of an idea and not a full-fledged paper, but I can't quite get away from this thought. Are UUs really closet pneumatologists?

Many UUs do not resonate with God the Father. Some decry patriarchal language; for some, the image merely conjures the bearded old man ready to smite anyone who angers him. ("Don't eat from that tree!"). Even many theist UUs won't dwell on "God the Father" but will talk about the Creator, the Holy One, and might alternate between male/female language.

A great number of UUs certainly do not resonate with the Son. Some will accept the prophetic teachings of Jesus, and some will actively embrace them. (The well-worn, "religion of Jesus, not about him" comes to mind here.) Some will toss the entire person out because of wounding by institutional Christianity. Many will come to their own unique theology of who the figure of Jesus is. There is a constant re-evaluation of the figure of Jesus for religious liberals. (And we're still talking about Jesus here, not even the Logos.)

What about the Holy Spirit? UUs don't really talk much about the Holy Spirit, but Spirit-language is often the safest theological language to use:
Spirit of life, come unto me. Sing in my heart
all the stirrings of compassion. Blow in the
wind, rise in the sea; move in the hand, giving
life the shape of justice. Roots hold me close; wings set me
free. Spirit of life, come unto me, come unto me.
(Spirit of Life, hymn 123 in Singing the Living Tradition)
Is there such a thing as a UU pneumatology? There isn't much literature on it that I'm aware of. There is the following from Kate Erslev's UU Identity (2003), a small group ministry resource for young adults:
UU Pneumatology: Going Outside to Feel the Wind and the Sun
For UU’s, we might describe “spirit” as the immediate presence of the Spirit of Life that is in each of us and in all things. The 19th century Unitarians spoke of God as ever- present. Emerson described the “over-soul” as a sense of God as all permeating as opposed to a sovereign king, punishing father, white, abled and old. Our pneumatology is described in the first source as “That which is directly experienced, transcendent, mysterious and wonderful, in all of us.” Do we cheat our pneumatology if we are afraid to use the word “God?”
James Luther Adams has also written somewhat of pneumatology and the Age of the Spirit for religious liberals.
We should recall the elements of the conception of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. The word pneuma denotes the rushing wind of God, manifest at Pentecost, which in immediacy gathers the ecstatic band of believers into the unity of the eschatological community of the Spirit.... As a winnowing wind, the Spirit sets aside traditional and legal authority in favor of the pneumatic authority of the apostles, prophets, and teachers. (Adams, 1991. An Examined Faith. Boston: Beacon, p. 340).
The Spirit was a key motif of the Radical Reformers, Adams continues, who
cherished the free winds of the Spirit and the inward koinonia pneumatos. All of these things are implicit in the experience of "the inner light" and in the great value placed upon voluntary individual decision.; and they provided the soil from which the associational...type of church evolved, a church that is a voluntary assocation based on personal decision... (p. 342)
Adams sees the "Age of the Spirit" as one of the first moments of liberal Christianity, with its concept of the autonomy of believers and the individual experience of the divine.

What does that leave us then? Is there a UU pnemuatology? Is it an untapped resource, or is it a vestigial theological organ? (Or am I just wrong on all accounts?) At the moment I'm inclined to wonder whether Unitarian Universalism has an implicit crypto-pneumatology that serves to unite those who consider themselves theists. (Also, what would happen to this rational faith if it tapped into some of the devotional fire of the charismatics?)

This needs some thought. I'll come back to this next year when I'm studying systematic theology...

CLARIFICATION: I have been to some emotional and spirit-filled UU worship, so I'm not trying to speak about all UU worship. I'm just talking trends and comparing norms (which are sometimes statistical fictions), and there is a real, vital energy to charismatic worship.

Friday, April 15, 2005

A sad day.

From Katherine, via Scott/Boy in the Bands.

"Howard Clinebell, Jr. died this morning in Santa Barbara, CA. As we all remember, Howard was a beloved Professor of Pastoral Psychology and Counseling at CST for nearly 40 years. His life, teaching, ministry and writings have been widely read and appreciated around the globe. His Basic Types of Pastoral Care and Counseling is the most widely sold book in the field of PC & C and his Care and Counseling of the Alcoholic (based on his dissertation at Union Theological Seminary) broke new ground in the early 1960’s. Most of all, we have lost a good friend. Howard, may you rest in peace, dear friend." (William Clements, professor of pastoral counseling at Claremont School of Theology)
Sad news for the pastoral counseling community. Although Clinebell has not authored much new of late--that I'm aware of--his legacy is tremendous. He (along with Bill Clements) are among the reasons Claremont School of Theology have such a first-rate reputation for pastoral counseling. It is a school I visited last year, and I gave serious thought about transferring there. But this is about him, not me.

Rest in peace, and thank you for your contributions to the work of the Church and the community of faith.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005 the Big Time...

Well, he did it again.

Terrance just had to get his blog mentioned again over at CNN. I guess the first time wasn't enough...

But seriously, good job!

I don't expect CNN will ever be reading my blog, since the path to ministry in Unitarian Universalism isn't exactly a hot topic in the US, nor are pictures of my dog, or reviews of books on prayer and spirituality. Ah well.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Peregrinato Dot Com

Well, I now own I am puzzling over what to do with it. Current thoughts are to move my blog over to its own site and move from blog*spot's software to wordpress, which is what the Joneses are using for their blogs. Blog*spot is very good for free blogging; but I'm starting to hit its limits in terms of what I can do with it.

I'll be sure to let my two readers know what I'm doing. Whatever it is, it won't happen immediately. I have a semester to finish and sleep to catch up on.

Update: Ugh. Blogger/blog*spot does not have an export function. So once I move over to WordPress, I have to start from fresh and/or manually move each posting over. Sheesh. Hopefully I can Google something more efficient.

Avast Ye Padme Hum!

My Unitarian Jihad Name is: The Cutlass of Enlightened Compassion. (Get yours.) If ye see the Buddha on the road, kill him, ye saffron-robed scallywags!

According to the schismatic First Reformed Unitarian Jihad, however, my Unitarian Jihad Name is: Brother Shining Fist of Compassionate Humanitarianism. (What's yours?)

If you have absolutely no clue what I'm talking about--and I'll bet you don't--please read Philocrites, "We Are Unitarian Jihad."

Friday, April 08, 2005

Read any good books lately?

In a moment of bibliofrenzy, I took the MFC Reading list and turned it into a "So you'd like to..." Guide at

The MFC Reading List is part and parcel of the process of becoming a minister credentialed by the Unitarian Universalist Association. In addition to the graduate theological degree, the internship, Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), &c., candidates for ministry have to complete a reading list relevent to Unitarian Universalism and liberal religion.

I've taken the MFC List and converted it into a Guide at Amazon so that other seminarians can add books to their wish lists, etc. I did it to make things easier for everyone, so it is my hope that this will actually come to some use. I realize that by patronizing I'm not supporting the UUA bookstore, but given the benefits of such Guides, personal Wish Lists, etc., using Amazon really seemed to be the smarter thing to do. (To be honest, I tend to prefer, but that's another matter entirely.)

The genesis of this project began with me turning the MFC list into a Wish List on my account (last night), and then realizing that my fellow UU seminarians at Wesley could benefit from it (this morning). At this point I've now realized that it could actually serve a broad community, thus my presentation to the public.

With that said, feel free to visit my guide, So You'd Like to... Become a Unitarian Universalist minister.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Requiescat in Pace

Karol Wojtyla, known more commonly as Pope John Paul II, religious leader of the Roman Catholic church, died Saturday, 2 April 2005.

For now, I'm reading blogs and observing what's being said in the "blogosphere" regarding the man's death. It is clearly bringing up very strong reactions. See, for example, the discussion taking place over at the Republic of T (under the provocative title of Alien) or over at the Socinian.

I'll have to chew on this for a while, post a few responses to other people, and provide something a little more systematic and detailed here.

For now, I will simply refer readers (both of you) to what seems to be a promising article at The Economist, and close by echoing the words of the Rev. William Sinkford, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations:
Our hearts go out to faithful Catholics everywhere as they mourn the loss of their beloved spiritual leader. We honor the example that John Paul II set in our religiously pluralistic global community by reaching out to other faiths in a spirit of peace and reconciliation. In our still violent world, John Paul never failed to witness on behalf of the innocent victims of conflict and war. His deep compassion will serve as a lasting legacy and tribute. (Sinkford, 2005)