I leave to return to America in twelve days.
I have my final exam tomorrow, then a bit of dissertation work for the summer, and then, simple as that, I'll have a masters degree. These things seem so loud until they are, and the quietness of them sneaks up on you.
And there's a cake to bake for the shop today. There is sugar work to be done. And something to do with infusing apples with whiskey. Something like that. I'm still toying with that idea.
Where was I?
This summer will prove interesting. I'll travel a bit. I'll go east and see a certain woman; come September, I'll go north and sit face to face with a tangle of friends never before known in that way. Then there's the work to be done. I'll be a part-time intern for the Anglican Dioceses of the Western Gulf Coast---another story for another day---and then, well, as you may know, writing a book.
That last little bit means my time and the measure of it I have must be devoted a bit more specifically in the coming months. In light of that, I'm reopening my guest post queue. While I'll have a new post for you on Mondays, I'm devoting Wednesdays to a beautiful idea my wonderful friend Nish gave me: memories of memorable meals.
If you've been here for any length, you know that this space is a space where good food is respected, where the important things of life happen over poured wine, and where the muddling work of faith is most often known around a table.
Tell me your stories of those table moments. I want to see what you'll share, what little pieces of the true tumble forth. What sticks in your mind as a moment where the true was made known around a table? What were you eating? How did someone hold their fork, look at you, tilt their glass?
Maybe it's but a very ordinary moment.
Maybe it's the moment from which all else came.
There are everlasting meals and moveable feasts in all of us, in the storied places, and I want to hear that story ring out from you.
I already have some wonderful people lined up, like that certain woman, and Nish Weiseth, Alise Wright, and many more people whose writing I love deeply. Count yourself among them?
If you'd like to submit a post for consideration, then please do the following:
- Tell me a story in this post. Whatever kind of story it is, it should be a story.
- Keep the post between 600-1000 words.
- Attach a photo and bio with any links you'd be interested in featuring.
- Submit by 5 PM CST on Wednesday, 5 June, to prestonyancey @ gmail.com
I'll notify those selected by 12 June. Please understand that I can only run this series for so long and many may submit, but I'm very eager to read your words and will get back to you as soon as I am able.
Look for my post, next week, the first in the series.
Love from a pile of exam study, and from shredding courgettes for yet another cake,
For a few years in my undergraduate, I attended a church that I will politely call the Church of the Windowless Resurrection.
It was a church consumed with its own questions and its own frantic belief that doubt was the most virtuous aspect of non-faith.
Each week was a hodgepodge of frantically poor theology and each week my heart burned violent with grief because of it.
I have never felt the need to defend God, but I have seen far too many people trapped in the bondage and burden of bad theology that when I hear it spoken my skin crawls and my hands shake.
I want to tear down all the oppression and nuclear bomb the landmarks of the old order.
And so I would get loud.
Clever by a half.
I spun words white hot and wounded the misguided children of God and in that became one of them myself.
God came back last Friday.
He wasn't gone as long this time as the time before. I woke with a feeling in my bones that I knew what I was to do without knowing what it was, the itchy touch of purpose whispered against flesh.
I read 2 and 3 John, emailed my best friend about the NRSV's rendering of the endings, "to speak face to face," asking him if there was something happening there about the Old Testament language of face to face.
I read Wisdom 9 because I missed the lyricism of the deuterocanon.
Then I read the appointed readings for the day.
But you, mortal, hear what I say to you; do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you. I looked, and a hand was stretched out to me, and a written scroll was in it. He spread it before me; it had writing on the front and on the back, and written on it were words of lamentation and mourning and woe. He said to me, O mortal, eat what is offered to you; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. He said to me, Mortal, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it; and in my mouth it was as sweet as honey.
What can I say that is true of what happened when I read that passage? That I knew and yet did not know, that I felt the sudden prick of awareness of what He was calling me out of and into.
I have been given something specific, I have been given a particular task. That is mine to eat. No other. And I must return to anchoring myself in that.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post for Deeper Story about how our stories cannot be our dogma. They cannot be what we use to determine doctrine and best practices. I offered examples of setting up blog posts and scholarship when they were anything but, warned of the dangers of laying claims where we have little room to make them.
I was careful to never once say that I had the right to make pronouncements about dogma.
Though I never once mentioned that I am in divinity school, that I am in a masters programme and entering a PhD in the autumn, it was surprising how many people latched onto those facts as evidentiary of what inspired my words. They discredited my point by parodying my meaning, asserting the tiresome and age-old foible of evangelicals that academics are in ivory towers, privileged, and removed from the real world.
I may be an academic, but that does not define who I am.
Over the past few months there have been increasing instances in which friends in the online community have asked me to weigh-in on a theological question or a translation issue. More often than not I was willing to accommodate, but I am wary to continue.
What I study in divinity school is the interaction between the arts and theology. I do not study Biblical languages. I do not study the Bible. I do not study biblical history, second temple Judaism, or theories of justification in Paul.
All of that has been learned on my nightstand.
My collection of books that I am reading consistently, the dinner table conversations I have, my best friend whom I email more often than not---there is no relation between the 2 and 3 John and the Old Testament wording, by the way---and my rigorous undergraduate training in the Christian tradition. I learned Greek in undergrad and keep up with it now, and am learning Hebrew on my own, reading the Psalms in chicken-fried French to edify my own wayward heart.
While this means I know a thing or two about Scripture, I have no interest in being set up as an authority of the Text.
That's not who I am.
I've been praying about this blog a lot more lately. My posts have felt off, or, at least, the tensions of who I am and what I am doing have felt off.
When I read Ashleigh's wonderful post last week about a return to simple blogging, there was a moment when I thought that maybe this was about me. Maybe this was my answer. Maybe what I was supposed to do was return.
But it didn't quite fit. It's a perfect idea, a beautiful one, but it is not for me.
It was Friday, Ezekiel, when I realised who I am and what my books and my blogs and my daily conversations really are.
I am someone deeply, fully, impossibly indebted to a tradition that is larger than anything I have ever done or could do.
I live in the houses of the interpreters.
In the words of Augustine and Catherine of Siena, in Thomas Aquinas and Simone Weil, in Barth and Tillich and von Balthasar, in Beth Moore and NT Wright and L'Engle, and scores and dozens more that litter my book shelves, line the margins of my soul, have storied my own story.
Do not think me a biblical scholar. That is not who I am. (And pay care, here, that this is a post about me, not about all of us.)
Think me a translator.
What has been written on my scroll, what I have been given to consume, is a habit of translation.
I sit in the houses of the interpreters. I go from place to place and listen. Question. Wonder.
Then I come here or to manuscript pages or to my dinner table and I share in the common language what it is I have seen. That is my return to the simple days of blogging, to share what big ideas I have been leaning on and into and through.
My stories do not determine dogma, but, goodness, you better believe they are influenced heavily by a deep knowledge and love of it.
That is my place. That is my joy. And I must stop fighting against it to wade into conversations that are not for me to speak to. They are for me to read about, ponder, and dwell in.
I am content in that.
But how will they know? How will the bad theology ever end?
When the blogs are written and the Hebrew is abused or God made a monster and the people enslaved again to ways that are parody of the true?
Do you still believe in God?
Of course I do.
Then I guess you have to believe that if He found you, then He can find them too.
I admit, some days, my response is, Isn't it pretty to think so?
But then on other days, like today, with the sun cresting the sea, it is Timshel.