Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday Five: First Week of Lent

1. Did you celebrate Mardi Gras and/or Ash Wednesday this week? How?
I celebrated Mardi Gras by not going in to the office. Our church does not have a Shrove Tuesday Pancake supper. So I had a nice supper by myself and enjoyed an easy day.

2. What was your most memorable Mardi Gras/Ash Wednesday/Lent?
When I entered religious life, I entered in New Orleans. The school where I taught had many members who were part of crews and so I celebrated my first Mardi Gras in New Orleans watching the parades from a fancy home above the parade route as a guest of one of my students. My novice mistress was a New Orleans native and wanted us to experience the joy of her home town before we went into our canonical year of novitiate. It was more fun seeing the holidays through her eyes. Mardi Gras is so much more than just the craziness of Bourbon Street.

3. Did you/your church/your family celebrate Lent as a child? If not, when and how did you discover it?
I was in my twenties when I first came to Christ. I spent my first Lent preparing for baptism. I was baptized at the Easter vigil so I was able to live into the liturgy as it was originally intended. I made a retreat at a local convent for the Holy Triduum and went from the retreat to my parish for the Baptism. It was in a humble little church in a poor part of town. Some of my students were present and that was fun. I will never forget that experience—and how sweet Christ was on my tongue when I first received Holy Communion.

4. Are you more in the give-up camp, or the take-on camp, or somewhere in between?
I am definitely one to take on disciplines rather than give up things.

5. How do you plan to keep Lent this year? I am taking on the reading of John Carroll’s Constantine’s Sword. It is not a pleasant topic. But I feel that I must come to grips with the anti-Semitism that Christianity and the Church have engendered over the centuries and figure out how I can address it in myself and in the Church. Carroll has taken on this journey in this book, a journey he had to address in himself and face in his Church. I as a Christian cannot ignore it any longer otherwise I continue to be a victim of my own history.

Through Biblical study I have come to understand the places where Judaism and Christianity began to split. I continually grapple with Jesus’ desire to teach us how to be faithful Jews –faithful to the God he called Abba. But I am not that certain that all that the Church has extrapolated either from Scripture or from theological discussion has provided us a faith that can be lived honestly in the light of the Holocaust. I continue to struggle with the Gospel of John and its love juxtaposed with the exclusion of the Jews.

Over the years, much of the theology that has spoken to me most readily of God’s love has come from the pens of Martin Buber and Abraham Heschel. I am in no way Jewish yet their descriptions of God speak most eloquently of my experience of God than many Christian theologians. So wading through the pain of the Jewish /Christian journey for the past 1700 years is appropriate. I hope it will prepare me better for Holy Week and the drama of th


Sally said...

Wow- that is brave Lenten reading you have taken on there- I pray you are blessed through it!
As for MardiGras in New Orleans- must have been wonderful to see through the eyes of one who understood.Great play :-)

Songbird said...

Thanks for the book suggestion, muthah+.

Rev Dr Mom said...

Constantine's Sword is one of the books in my to-read stack. I just heard him speak at the Trinity Institute, and was he ever powerful.

Susannah Heschel was there, too, and I bought a book she edited of her father's essays.

(I posted about the conference at Episcopal Cafe)

Mother Laura said...

How awesome you got to live your first Lent as baptismal prep. I was always jealous of a friend who was baptized as an adult in college with an American Baptist congregation. It was at night, in someone's swimming pool, with candles and flowers floating in it and a simple Eucharist as we stood around after and all laid hands on her. She could barely swim so it was intense for her and another friend and I held her while she had and described an amazing mystical experience afterwards in her dorm room.

Anonymous said...

I'm working with 2 families on baptismal preparation during this season. It's awesome!!!!! It just fits. Liturgically... this is the first time Lent has spoken to me. Great play.

Diane said...

wow, that's a great book selection! And I've also heard about one called "Preaching the gospel without blaming the Jews" (at least I think that's what it's called).

Diane said...

just wondering how you are doing on those red hymnals.

Betsy said...

Did you know that Oscar-nominated director Oren Jacoby has just made a documentary with James Carroll of Constantine's Sword? It's being released in theaters this April and will be available for special screenings before it comes out on home video. To find out more go to

Betsy West, producer, Constantine's Sword

Jane said...

I saw the movie (Constantine's Sword) and it was fabulous. If you can see it you really should!