Who Am I?

Baptists, Eucharist, and History 10 – Justin Martyr on Administration of the Mysteries

Posted: July 25th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Church History, Eucharist | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Now we will move forward several decades and reflect on Justin Martyr’s First Apology. This places us right in the middle of the second century. There are few left alive at this point who personally encountered any of the apostles, but there are still those few. There are now many who have been taught by those who were directly taught by the apostles. Hopefully that places some perspective on where we stand in the thread of history. As always I recommend you read the entire apology. In this post, however, we will focus first on Chapter LXV.

But we, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation. Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to genoito [so be it]. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.

I want to focus here on the structure and order surrounding the thanksgiving or eucharist. It is only for the baptized. The one who presides over the assembly offers extensive prayers over the bread and wine. (The one who presides, consistent with earlier, contemporary, and later writings is probably best understood as the episcopos (bishop) or one of his presbyters (priests).) The people then all assent as their participation. Then the deacons hand out the eucharist, keeping some back to carry to those who could not be present, typically the ill and infirm.

If a person has had any exposure to any modern liturgical Christian practice, I feel confident they will recognize the connection to the above in the liturgy of the Eucharist. I have personally experienced Luthern, Episcopal, and Roman Catholic liturgies over the course of my life. And I have listened to a number of occurences of, but not yet been in, the Orthodox Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. And I immediately sense how the description above is continuous with all the liturgical traditions. There is much less connection to the non-liturgical traditions like my own SBC. Even before we delve into what we mean in the Eucharist itself, our practice around it seems … disconnected from history. We see that again in Chapter LXVII where the weekly worship practice is described.

And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.

Here we see even more strongly the structure of the liturgy. We see that first the Holy Scriptures are read and then the one who presides instructs and exhorts. Today this is often called the Liturgy of the Word. (It’s also interesting to note that the “memoirs of the Apostles” were being read. This almost certainly refers to the Gospels.) Following the Liturgy of the Word, we see the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This form is preserved to one degree or another within the liturgical churches. Among the non-liturgical churches? Not so much. It’s also worth noting that the Liturgy of the Word is similar in form to the synagogue worship. So basically we see an adaptation of synagogue worship in which the Gospels are read along with Torah and the Prophets and then the Eucharist — something new and not from Jewish synagogue worship at all in origin — is added as the focal point of worship.

The First Year – Celiac Disease and Living Gluten-Free

Posted: June 20th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews, Celiac | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The First Year – Celiac Disease and Living Gluten-Free

One of the books I picked up on celiac (and by far the best so far) is a book by Jules E. Dowler Shepard, The First Year – Celiac Disease and Living Gluten-Free. Jules has celiac and shares her story in the book. In a guide intended for those who are newly diagnosed that’s a critical factor. As she describes things to do and how to work through all the issues we encounter, you know she has been there. She’s not just imagining them.

The book is formatted so that it could be read and followed over a period of adaptation lasting a year from your diagnosis. I suppose some people might read that way. I’m not sure. I definitely don’t. I’m a sponge. I read it the first time over the course of a couple of day, marking pages of particular interest as I went. I’ve since referred back to it a number of times.

The days of the first week are focused on providing the history and the most accurate current information available on celiac disease. The information is easily the most current and most accurate of any book I’ve read. It’s also extremely thorough without ever being dry or overwhelming for someone who just received a pretty major disease diagnosis requiring a fairly dramatic life change.

The book is divided into sections on learning and on living. The sections on living include a wealth of recipes and extremely practical advice for a wide array of situations: birthday parties, business lunches, handling college, eating out, and talking to friends and coworkers about celiac. I highly recommend this book. If I had three thumbs, I would give it three thumbs up! As it is, Jules with have to settle for two thumbs. 😉

The foreword is by Alessio Fasano, MD, the founder of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland. (I recall that my father did some of his education at the University of Maryland, but I don’t remember any details.) For additional historical information, details on the research done by the center, and studies underway, I recommend watching the following video.


The Art of Being in a Crowd When Alone

Posted: June 5th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Faith, Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Art of Being in a Crowd When Alone

I’ve been mulling my thoughts from my earlier post, The Art of Being Alone in a Crowd, off and on in the back of my head all week. I realized there is another shift under way. It’s actually been developing for some time now. I have a hard time telling if it is or will be as dramatic a shift as the one that originally shaped me and which Putnam and others have explored. Nevertheless, I do believe it’s significant. Further, as I consider my own children (who range in age from 12 to 27), I realize that only my younger two have been more or less fully shaped on the other side of this latest shift.

Much has been written, of course, about the advancement of communication and technology. Whereas we used to call a place hoping to find a person, we now expect to be able to call a person directly without any concern for that person’s location. We are ever increasingly interconnected in ways that break down some of the barriers of distance. “Social media” and “Web 2.0” are two of the most frequently overused labels for this enabling technology. I’m quite familiar with all of the technology. It is my field, after all. And I’ve been utilizing it in one form or another as I choose throughout much of its development. However, I’ve mostly considered the technical and the social aspects of the technology. I’ve not paused much to consider the cultural ramifications.

After I wrote about cultural adaptation or perhaps maladaptation of those often labeled “postmodern” I realized my younger two children largely do not share the same formation. Oh, many of the same forces are present. Large extended families still tend to be absent from their daily lives and the lives of all whom they know. They tend to physically live in communities of strangers who do not largely share awareness and care for all the children of the community — at least on a day to day basis. People remain highly mobile and move in and out of their circle of connection. Much remains the same. But much has changed as well. They’ve never known a time without a computer with an internet connection. Cell phones, even at times when they have not had one, are simply a part of the fabric of their reality.

And so their manner of dealing with the realities of postmodern life is different. They’ve established and rely on interwoven and multilayered networks of interaction. They do not necessarily have the depth or physical solidity of the older ones, but there is certainly more tangibly present and available than through the first half or more of my life. They rely on the constant feedback of those interconnections. In some ways, their lives are less me and more we. And this has altered their cultural formation in ways I’ll call the art of individualism within the context of the crowd. This network is not defined by school, by sport, by neighborhood, by club, by church “youth group” or by any other readily visible grouping. Rather it incorporates what it can take from any and all sources forming a different network for each child, though often sharing much in common with others. Where they attempt to interact in settings that have few connections and which resist their efforts to construct them, I’ve noticed they tend to be less comfortable.

Now, I’ve taken those technologies and incorporated them pretty effectively (I think) into the structures of my life. But that doesn’t really significantly alter my core formation. It reshapes it some, just as any significant shift will. But I’m still completely comfortable “Bowling Alone”. I’m not sure those shaped by this latest sociological shift would be. But their’s is not really a return to the structured bowling league of old or the fraternal organizations or the like. It’s more dynamic and shifting. Visible groups form and change and dissolve as needed by their members. Groups are dynamic and easily created. And that’s natural to them in ways that it is not natural to me.

There is no real point or conclusion to this post. It’s mostly just an observation that led to a little greater awareness on my part. It’s an open-ended thought which is still developing in my mind.