There is no need at all to make long discourses; it is enough to stretch out one's hand and say, “Lord, as you will, and as you know, have mercy.” And if the conflict grows fiercer say, “Lord help!” God knows very well what we need and He shows us His mercy.
Abba Macarius

«— Lenten Dinnner
—» Jargon Does Not Communicate

Asbury College Names First Woman President

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Asbury College presents our 17th President Dr. Sandra C. Gray

Asbury College named Dr. Sandra Gray as its first woman president yesterday. Gray is scheduled to take over as president on July 1.

Gray takes the helm of the college after serving there since 1989. She most recently led the college as provost during the search for a president.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:16 am

«— Rewiring the Voting Booth
—» To Vote or Not To

Irony at Asbury

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I started smoking when I was a student at Asbury College. Asbury prohibits smoking, drinking, dancing, and hanging out with anyone who’s hip. It is ironic because, in a sense, Asbury’s rules were the catalyst for my smoking.

My reasoning was this: I was very depressed over being amorously rejected by a classmate of mine, and I wanted a good buzz. Two or three beers beyond tipsy. (I rarely even get tipsy, by the way. This was a point of weakness, not a habit of mind.) The rules being what they were, I risked automatic expulsion on the spot if I was caught. So I decided instead to get a pack of cigarettes to get my buzz on. Still outlawed, but I would get counseled and offered help to quit if caught but not expelled.

I don’t blame Asbury for my habit, but it is still funny that I smoke because I went to Asbury.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 12:19 am

«— Photos
—» Transparency: Better Than Annoyance

To Havdala

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I do not know whether you read my blog or not, but I do not have a Blogger account, and I do not really want one. I do, however, have my own blog.

I resonate with your doubting. When I attended an evangelical Protestant college, my friends were all the outcasts. They were all on their way out of Christianity, or at least to a not-so-conservative brand of it. In retrospect, this is ironic because my direction theologically and philosophically was somewhat opposite, with some resonating harmonies. You can see, if you read this blog, that my journey has taken me into the high-country of the most conservative of Christianities — though I have far more liberty now than ever before.

I found fellowship with the pagans because they were more interesting. They were real. If they had doubts, they didn’t hide them. (And they had better taste than the praise-chorus–lapping majority of the student body.)

That is why the struggle with doubt is something that I associate with real, honest people. I have a nagging distrust of people who have never struggled. It seems to me that some form of struggle in this arena is necessary for strength. And my own life has not been without its own struggle.

I always find it sad when I learn that someone stops struggling and decides to let the waves overwhelm them. The lack of struggle is death. I do not mean only that they become pagans; it is equally sad, perhaps more so, when the struggle chokes their spirit and they become mummified, trapped inside a religious sarcophagus — smiling, happy, and dead.

I am weeping for you, Havdala, not because you are struggling, but because the tone of your post is so desperate. I recognize that despair; I can touch my own scars and remember the pain of despair. I’ve heard that sound before, and it bodes ill. It sounds like you are about to give up. It sounds like death.

I am praying for you, that you will get enough fresh air to continue fighting. Speaking of fresh air, perhaps you should consider taking a break from all things religious, to catch your breath. Return to the struggle when you have the strength to fight.

It looks like this: any doubts, any contradictions, any wounds you have received over the course of your life — you shelve them and distract yourself instead of dealing with them. Personally, I would distract myself with beauty: walks in the woods, visits to art museums, tours of gardens and such. Beauty is very spiritual for me. The important thing is that the distraction be meaningful to you and truly distracting.

Superficially this sounds dishonest; it sounds like running from the fight. In fact, the fight continues unconsciously while you regain your strength. When you return to the struggle — because you cannot escape the struggle indefinitely — you will find issues are clearer, and you will have the strength to take on the Hydra once again.

This is ideally done in the midst of a community that is praying for you; you attend prayers as you are able, without any expectations being made of you. However, sometimes even this is too much. It also helps if you have someone with whom you can talk about these issues — a nun, a priest, or a matushka can sometimes be especially sensitive to the needs of those who struggle.

Whatever you do, I am praying for you.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:34 pm

«— The Trinity and the Incarnation Displaced, Etc.
—» Shocking

Not Much of a Leap

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Update: Dawn corrected me about Erich’s blog. It has been corrected below.

Update 2: Dawn has a blog, too. Her blog and Erich’s both have been added to the ever-growing pile in the right column.

I should not be astonished anymore to find Asbury College alumni popping up in Orthodox settings, yet this one somehow amazed me. Joel Klepac was always happy. Happy, happy, happy. I could never tell if it was true joy — which is different from happiness — or that shallow mask evangelicals wear, sort of a Jesus-freak version of a stiff upper lip. I finally visited In Communion, the website of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, and I find that he has an article entitled, “Eucharist and the Dying Poor,” front and center in their spring issue.

I also recently found Notes from Underground, the blog of Erich Lippman. Erich was a classmate in several philosophy classes under Dr. Michael Peterson, and the president of the student body.

Asbury College is a Christian liberal arts college, positioned in the Wesleyan Holiness religious tradition. The Priest David Rucker, priest-in-charge at St. Athanasius Orthodox Church in nearby Nicholasville, KY, is fond of saying, “It is not much of a leap from Wesleyan Christianity to Orthodoxy.” Indeed, of all the forms of Western Christianity, Wesleyans have the fewest things to renounce in the Orthodox service of reception.

As many of you know, most of the contra mundum bloggers at St. Athanasius are Asbury alumni. Fr. David, quoted above, is himself an alumnus of both the college and Asbury Theological Seminary.

So, who else is out there? Blog or no, leave a comment and shout out that you’re Asburian and Orthodox!

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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:51 pm

«— Pride Cometh
—» Teleological Evolution

Class Nomenclature

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The new name of the incoming freshman class at Asbury is Steadfast. Good Lord. Another name incapable of being made singular. “Hello, my name is Jane Foo. I’m a Steadfast.” This follows on the heels of several other similar class names: Commissioned, Agape. But the best was still Redeemed. “Hello. I’m a Redeemed.” I propose that the class of 2008 be named the God class.

“Hello. My name is Joseph. I am a God.”

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Filed under: — Basil @ 9:08 am