Archive for January, 2007

‘Into My Arms, O Lord’

I just came across a beautiful post from Sean Carroll at Cosmic Variance: the lyrics and video of a great song by Nick Cave.

Nick Cave – Into My Arms

I don’t believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do
But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to you
Not to touch a hair on your head
To leave you as you are
And if He felt He had to direct you
Then direct you into my arms

Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms

And I don’t believe in the existence of angels
But looking at you I wonder if that’s true
But if I did I would summon them together
And ask them to watch over you
To each burn a candle for you
To make bright and clear your path
And to walk, like Christ, in grace and love
And guide you into my arms

Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms

And I believe in Love
And I know that you do too
And I believe in some kind of path
That we can walk down, me and you
So keep your candle burning
And make her journey bright and pure
That she will keep returning
Always and evermore

Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms

Thanks Sean.

3 comments January 20th, 2007

Similar Posts for your Content Feeds

The beta versions of the post plugins have been tweaked a fair bit in the last week or so and new options added to all of them. Recent Comments, in particular, has improved.

The main news though is a brand new plugin, Similar Posts Feed, which works alongside Similar Posts to add a list of related posts after each entry of your blog’s content feed.

January 19th, 2007

Pray-as-you-go

Speaking of Jesuits and podcasting, Peter Scally, SJ was here in Loyola Hall over the New Year — for a Jesuit meeting in preparation for next year’s General Congregation of our Order — and in spare moments recording anyone he could catch to use as voices for Pray-As-You-Go. The curious among you can listen to your’s truly speaking the sessions for January 22-26.

Peter does a really good job gathering text and voice, resonant silence and fine music into a place of prayer.

3 comments January 17th, 2007

In Our Time: The Jesuits

Melvyn Bragg‘s Radio 4 programme In Our Time covers all sorts of interesting subjects in fascinating depth for a 45 minute show. Last week the subject was ‘Mars – the search for life on the Red Planet’ and in recent weeks the topics have been:

  • Borges – the life and work of Argentina’s best loved short story writer
  • The Siege of Constantinople – the end of a thousand years of the Byzantine Empire
  • Hell – its representation through the ages
  • Indian Maths – laying the foundations for modern numerals and zero as a number
  • Anarchism – a question of authority?
  • The Speed of Light – a cosmic speed limit?

Quite a range! His approach is simple and effective: get three experts on the subject and contrive a conversation.

Why do I mention this now? Because tomorrow’s programme is on the Jesuits. If you want to listen to it you can hear it live online or download it for later listening. You can also sign up to receive a regular podcast.

I have no idea who this weeks experts are, though I have reason to believe they don’t include a Jesuit — which seems a little odd, so I might be regretting providing publicity!

1 comment January 17th, 2007

Sunday Week 2 Year C

Readings: Isaiah 62:1-5; I Cor 12:4-11; John 2:1-11

Here’s a quiz for you… How many times does Mary appear in John’s gospel? … Trick question: the answer is none. The ‘mother of Jesus’, however, appears twice. Isn’t that a strange way to tell the story? It’s not that John didn’t know her name – so something else must be going on here.

In fact, the way John tells the story today, the mother of Jesus is quite an ambiguous character. She has her eye on the dwindling wine supply and she has faith in her son to be able to put it right. And though Jesus seems quite rude to her with his ‘Woman, what is that to you or to me’, he still goes ahead and works a wonder with water and wine. But then John doesn’t mention her again until she stands with the other women at the foot of the cross.

So is she the hero of our little story or does she miss its meaning? I think John is trying to tell us she falls somewhere in between. She believes in Jesus and his power and she wants him to use it but she hasn’t grasped the one essential thing about her son. Nowhere in John’s gospel does Jesus do anything that anyone asks him to do. The one person he listens to is God. No one else.

And I think it’s the same here: the mother of Jesus asks for a domestic face-saver and Jesus tells her off — it isn’t his hour; instead of a conjuring trick Jesus gives a sign, he lets his glory be seen. He doesn’t do what his mother asks; he does what God says.

That’s why I think John never names her. Jesus is not defined by his parentage; he isn’t who he is because of his mother but because of God. And that goes for Mary too. As John writes it she isn’t important in her own right but only in her relationship to Jesus. And that’s true for each of us. Whatever the joys and gifts and blessings and burdens we have through family and friends, through history and experience – none of that is our identity, none of it names us truly. Our only true name rises from our relationship to Jesus. …

There’s another unnamed character in John’s gospel: the Beloved Disciple. The Beloved Disciple is there with the mother of Jesus at the cross. We tend to think that John means himself when he writes the Beloved Disciple but I think he means you and he means me. That is who we are. That is our true name. We are only known by who we are to Jesus – each of us is that Beloved Disciple. ‘Beloved of Jesus’ is our only true name.

12 comments January 14th, 2007

New Versions of WordPress Post Plugins

Version 2.0.0 beta of Similar Posts, Random Posts, Recent Posts, and Recent Comments have just been released. They each have their own page now; they have been tested to work with the upcoming WordPress 2.1 release; and each plugin has its own independent admin options page.

Some functionality has been re-jigged, a lot of new stuff added, and the output is now much more configurable. Check the help page for the full details.

1 comment January 13th, 2007

Feeds Fixed

I noticed about an hour ago that this site’s feeds were not working and hadn’t been working since around December 20th. After checking the source and then deactivating all my plugins one by one I found the culprit and zapped the error.

So… feeds should be working again … and I learned a little more about how WordPress works in the process.

January 12th, 2007

How To Make Blix Theme Ready for WordPress 2.1

Just a heads up to those out their in blogland who, like me, use Blix by Sebastian Schmieg as their WordPress theme.

The upcoming version 2.1 has made some change which mess up Blix’s handling of its navigation bar. The fix is simple and I post it here to allay anyone’s nerves who begin to panic when their pages seem to disappear.

In the Blix theme folder there’s a file called BX_functions.php and somwhere about halfway through is a function BX_get_pages…

function BX_get_pages($with_content = '')
{
   global $wpdb;
   $query = "SELECT ID, post_title, post_name FROM " . $wpdb->posts . " WHERE post_status='static' ORDER BY menu_order ASC";
   if ($with_content == "with_content") {
      $query = "SELECT ID, post_title,post_name, post_content FROM " . $wpdb->posts . " WHERE post_status='static' ORDER BY menu_order ASC";
   }
   return $wpdb->get_results($query);
}

When you eventually upgrade to WordPress 2.1 you will need to make two small changes to this function. Find the text WHERE post_status='static', which occurs twice, and change it to WHERE post_type='page'. That’s all there is to it.

66 comments January 11th, 2007

Best Contemporary Theology Meme

A meme! A meme! No one’s ever hit me with a meme before. Kaloo kalay… Actually I hate the whole idea of memes — at least the philosophical idea that ideas are analogous to viruses. This on the other hand seems more like an invitation than an infection so I’ll pipe down.

Crystal at Perspective infected me but it seems the source of the contagion was Patrik. The task as it has developed is to name three of the most influential works of contemporary theology, and three lesser known books that should be widely read.

I pondered that for a while and decided that in my reduced state what I could do was scan my bookshelves for the books that have fixed themselves in my mind and shaped my theology. I have to wriggle around the task that way because most of my choices aren’t exactly theological! Another plug for the interdiscipinary task of theology…

Anyway … in alphabetical order, six good books:

Elaine Scarry (1985 ) The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World
Scarry does a fascinating job pulling together reports of torture, theories of war, Marx and Freud, and the God of the Hebrew Bible to shape a way of talking about creativity and the imagination. It’s a book that I’ve never found a direct use for in my own writing but it sits there reminding me my theorising has to be adequate to the body’s experience of pain and beauty.
Hans Urs von Balthasar (1981) Mysterium Paschale: The Mystery of Easter
Of all Balthasar’s rich writing this little work captures for me the heart of his enterprise. My liturgy teacher taught the maxim that the best answer to most theological questions was always ‘the paschal mystery’. Balthasar takes that more seriously than most and finds the heart of this heart: the enigma of Holy Saturday. What do we do with Christ dead?
Louis Dupré (1993) Passage to Modernity: An Essay in the Hermeneutics of Nature and Culture
I don’t know how you can do theology today without taking some stance on what Modernity is or was, how it came to be, and where we are now in relation to its issues. Dupré’s analysis in terms of the relationship between nature and culture is a beautifully written enlightenment. It doesn’t hurt that he explores Ignatius of Loyola as a response (in his eyes flawed) to modernity’s splitting apart of the two.
Alejandro García-Rivera (1999) Community of the Beautiful: A Theological Aesthetics (Michael Glazier Books)
I must declare an interest here. Alex supervised my own research and many of the long and exciting discussions from that time find themselves echoed on the pages of this book. It’s an exploration of theological aesthetics from the angle of the poor in a quest to undo the divisions our culture is heir to. Beautiful and creative and dripping with ideas.
Lewis Hyde (1979) The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World
The concept if ‘gift’ finds itself at the heart of many contemporary theological appropriations of postmodernity. I haven’t found a better approach to gift than Hyde’s. His subtitle in my US edition is far more promising than the one above–‘Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property’.
Stephen Toulmin (1990) Cosmopolis: Hidden Agenda of Modernity
‘Modernity’, hmm, you might be seeing a pattern here. Simmer together Toulmin and Dupré and season with Hyde… Cosmopolis gives, I think, the best account of the modern and the postmodern–and all in good, straightforward, Anglo-Saxon prose.
James Alison (1998) Knowing Jesus
This isn’t Alison’s best or best known book–I have a soft spot for all his work–but it does get to the core of a Girardian approach to theology and shows its strength in a brief book I find myself giving away to all sorts of people.

Oops, neither alphabetical, nor six, nor all that ‘contemporary’… I’ve mutated a meme…

1 comment January 11th, 2007

Still Going…

Happy New Year!

Contrary to the suspicion of several enquirers I haven’t given up writing here — I’ve just been relapsing a little with the CFS.

My useful hours have been spent doing spiritual direction, reading (ever so s l o w l y ) a very good book by Wendy Farley, The Wounding and Healing of Desire: Weaving Heaven and Earth, which I hope to review for The Way, and working on the next release of my WordPress plugins. Some of that should figure here soon

January 11th, 2007


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