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Archive for the ‘faith’ Category

Adding Life

Luke 12:25-26
And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest?

This was part of the reading today at church.  A lot of times I feel as though I worried my husband to death.  I didn’t mean to cause him any anxiety but often I did anyway.  I was so worried about his health.  I was so worried about how to take care of him. He saw all of that.  My anxiety didn’t exist in a vacuum. My husband was my best friend.  He was with me most of the day and he saw how stressed I was.  Just like I felt like a failure for not being able to take care of him he felt the same about me.  He used to tell me over and over again to trust God who promised to take care of us.  I was still anxious as if that could hold everything together.  And with all of that worry between the two of us he still died at 45 years old.  I couldn’t change a thing.

Part of me wants to scream that this is important so of course I should be worried.  I should worry because…  Why?  I worry because almost nothing is in my control.  I worry because part of me isn’t sure if God really loves me so I hold onto fear.  I worry because I think I know better.  The reason I wanted to join a convent isn’t because I thought I was holy.  I know just how weak my faith is and I am a coward.

To put it in the most blunt terms, sometimes I desire to be a god.  That is the most arrogant and awful desire I have.  Unfortunately, it’s a thought many people have but never articulate.  It is so easy to fall prey to the desire to be a little god and control everything.  We think we know better so we refuse to trust God.  This can all manifest in terrible doubt, anger and anxiety.  This arrogance can manifest in the belief that we can control the most dangerous situation because we are just that good.  There is one major flaw with all of this.  We are all just flawed humans.  I can’t control when I will die anymore than I can will ten million dollars into my bank account.  Worrying about either won’t make a difference.

I have a dream that occurs at random intervals.  The details are always the same.  In the dream I die.  It is always dark and there is always music.  It is a perfect song that I can not describe in any terms.  I know there is light there where the song is but I can’t see it.  There is always a voice (that isn’t a voice) in the darkness.  The voice tells me that as long as I believe I am a god I will never hear that music again.  Then, I wake up.  It doesn’t matter why this dream happens (subconscious thoughts or random firings of neurons).  I am just thankful for it.

What I’m saying seems harsh to some people.  However, it is all the same reminder.  The first part is that I can not save myself and attain perfection any more than I could add to my husband’s life through the magic of anxiety.  The second part is that God does love us.  He sent Jesus to die for us so we can have eternal life.  I am redeemed through Christ’s death and through Christ I will see my husband again.  No matter what happens to this body that future is secure.

All of this doesn’t mean I won’t worry again.  It is likely that anxiety will trouble me all of my life.  I will sin again in many ways.  I will need more reminders throughout my life.  I give thanks that I can repent and receive forgiveness.    I give thanks that I will not be swallowed by that arrogance, doubt and fear.  I give thanks for God’s mercy and love.  I also give thanks for songs that remind us of this love.

If you are interested in the spiritual adoption of a pastor contact me at  Upon receiving your email I will send you the name of a pastor.  And if you wouldn’t like to email me please feel free to adopt a pastor on your own.

What Does It Mean To Adopt A Pastor
Paul prayed for those who were partnered with him in the Gospel (Philippians 1:3-6).  He also asked the congregations to pray for him and his workers (1 Thessalonians 1:25).
This adoption means you pray daily for the pastor you are given.  Pray for their strength, faithfulness, health and welfare.   You do not need to write to them, email them, friend them on Facebook or give them anything other than your prayers.  It also does not mean you neglect the worship of God in your own church or neglect the care of your own pastor.  This prayer is meant to be part of the vocation of the faithful in Christ.

If you are a pastor who would like to specifically add your name please contact me at the address above.  And a great thanks to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix for the idea.

I have been going through my husband’s documents.  He had begun writing a few interesting pieces.  Drama in theology and scripture had always been a topic that had fascinated him.  He had hoped to do more work in that area.   My husband was mildly dyslexic.  I have tried to correct the major errors that I found as this was an unfinished work.  However, I found it interesting and it reminds me of speaking with him and how he tied together his love of the great philosophers and his love of God.


Theological Tropes:
The Structure Of The Spiritual Life

An attempt at a systematic theology by Rev. Gerard T. Sparaco


The origin of this present inquiry began more than twenty-five years ago with my first encounter with Plato.  The reading list for the fall semester of Freshman year at St. John’s College is dominated by the author.  Following Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey in seminar, the first work we read was Meno, followed by Phaedo, Theatetis, The Statesman, and of course The Republic and the Symposium.

Reading these works for the first time were one of the most confusing and frustrating experiences in my life.  There were two issues specifically that intrigued me.

The first was the very form of Plato’s writings.  Instead of laying out his philosophy in tightly argued prose, he chose rather to write in dialogue, as if he were writing a play.  Each interloquer played his particular role, asking questions and answering the questions Socrates posed to them.  These were  real people from the fourth century BC Greece whose identities were well know at the time of writing, but who were largely lost on readers today.

And sometimes, it seemed to me, the topic of the discussion would meander and take various unexpected twists and turns.  (But in general, it was far from what I was expecting philosophy to be.  later in the semester, when we began to read Aristotle, I felt more at home. )

Insight into why Plato chose the dialogue form for his writings was a topic of discussion.  It is meant to replicate the so-called “Socratic Method.”  Through questions and answers leading to even more questions, the reader was firmly placed in the process of enlightenment, to be trained how to think philosophically.  And, a productive way to read the dialogues is not necessarily to “capture” the concepts (to use an image from Theatitis), but to place yourself in the roles of the people in the dialogue other than Socrates.

This ran against what I was doing.  I wanted to try to understand everything Socrates was trying to say and truly understand his philosophy.  But, once I began to imagine myself as Meno asking about whether or not virtue can be taught or Alcibiades speaking about love in the Symposium, it made much more sense.  I was brought back into fourth century Athens and Socrates became more real to me.  It was written in dialogue form, one that mimics drama.

In  the second year of St. John’s we moved away from the Ancient Greeks into more familiar territory.  Much of the fall semester was occupied with copious readings and seminars on the Old and New Testaments with prolonged discussions on the Gospels.

What struck me about the gospels was all of the questioning.  This is most obvious in the Gospel According to John which is a series of questions.  Yes, Jesus preached more than he questioned, but the questions Jesus asked lead to the revelation of his very identity as God.

But much of my early reading of the Gospels, even during my time in seminary many years later, focused upon the words in the gospel as doctrinal propositions.  I focused upon the languages and tried to find the meaning behind the words, and thus understand why doctrines were formulated from such words.

It wasn’t until much later when I saw the forest for the trees.  I never really questioned why the gospels were written as they were.  The Evangelists, in wanting to proclaim Jesus Christ, didn’t write prose documents detailing their beliefs and decisions and teachings.  Rather, they chose to write about their witness of Christ in the form of a dramatic narrative with dialogue at the heart of the story.

As such, instead of focusing primarily understanding the words of Christ as sedes doctrinae, it became more productive to read Scripture as if I were one of the interloquers.  Instead of imaging myself as Christ, I put myself in the role of Peter, John, James, Judas, etc, and see Christ as they saw him.  In short, by placing myself in the narrative in one of the minor roles, Scripture began to open much much more to me.

Much reading the dialogues of Plato by placing yourself in the role of the audience, so does reading the Gospel as one of the initial disciples of Christ reveal a much more clear understanding of who Jesus and what he has done for us.

This revelation should initially teach us that the spiritual life, the one where we follow the Lord, is basically dramatic in form with Christ as the substance.  In popular theology there existed mystery plays and others that would deal with the lives of the saints to edify popular piety, but Christian theology never really paid much attention to the dramatic narrative nature of revelation.

Early Lutheranism practiced an early form of narrative theology.   This can be seen chiefly in Martin Luther’s appreciation for music an hymnody and the seventeenth century theologian Johann Gerhard, who wrote his Examination on The Suffering And Death Of The Lord as a five act play.

It wasn’t until the twentieth century when narrative theology began to be formulated.  The earliest articulation of this hermeneutic arose out of the historical-critical method of biblical interpretation including Davis Strauss and Rudolf Bultmann.  They viewed the bible as literature and appreciated the literary form and style.

But their agenda of “demythologizing” scripture actually served in detracting in any real attempt at narrative criticisms.  Instead of inquiring into the literary merits and themes of Scripture, their work served only to speculate about the motives of the authors.

Narrative criticims as a viable hermeneutic was formulated by George Arthur Lindbeck

Advancing further, theologians began to look at the totality of the written works, and to notice similar patterns and themes in scripture.  Ultimately, an full-blown theological aesthetic was formulated by the Catholic theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar.

Ultimately, an full-blown theological aesthetic was formulated by the Catholic theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar.

(There is a break in the pages.)

What also struck me as strange was the constant discussion of “love” and “beauty.”  My prejudice as a seventeen year old wanting to read philosophy was that it dealt with big concepts such as “truth,” “God” and “being.”  It seemed to me at the time all this talk about “love” and “beauty” were a regression into junior high school discussions of crushes and the like.  But I learned that the heart of the Platonic dialogues is that “beauty” is a quality of being that reaches into you, changes you though love, and makes you a better person.

(There is a break in the pages.)

The importance of narrative criticism as a valid method for Scriptural hermeneutics.  Bathasar’s theo-drama.

His basis in Catholic theology lends a heavy emphasis upon a particular ontological foundation.  But the issue for Lutheranism is our basis upon a forensic theology.  Martin Luther’s Babylonian captivity of the church.