- acknowledge the place of Mary in sacred Scripture and ponder with her the great things that God has done in salvation history [yes, of course, to both of those ideas, at least from where I sit]
- study the witness of early Christianity regarding Mary...[I'll agree to this, as well]...
- promote mutual knowledge and appreciation of various traditions in devotion and spirituality related to the Mother of God in both the East and West..." [my Roman Catholic and Antiochian Orthodox committee colleagues distinguished "veneration" and "adoration", so I can go there as long as Mary is God's-bearer and not God's-mother...]
- offer ecumenical prayers for Christians of all traditions who still are victims of persecution and violence...
- publish locally or regionally updated registers and biographical notes regarding recent witnesses to the faith unto death; this can be done ecumenically, reminding everyone that the shedding of blood is a common inheritance of all Christian traditions."
In my first blog on the book I said, "I'm curious about the implications and resonations of the word spiritual with a lower-case "s". Even non-church people often talk generically about spiritual aspects of existence (and hey, everyone's heard "I'm not religious but I'm spiritual" far too many times)..." One of our members sort of equated "spiritual" with "prayer," so I'll leave that alone for now.
We also had a short-go-around about ecclesial communities and valid sacraments/eucharist, as well as my own near-craziness about Catholics under Rome's aegis not qualifying their name with Roman; to that Fr. Vince, a retired *Roman* Catholic priest, told us he had been ordained a priest (in other words, lots of church experience) when someone in England or elsewhere in the UK asked him if he was "Roman Catholic," and he'd replied, "No! I'm Irish Catholic!" He told us that was the very first time he'd ever heard Roman Catholic!
During August 2004 in Culture Bound (Culture, identity, home, belonging, etc.) I wrote:
As those cultural anthropologists insist, each of us inhabits a range of cultures; more than a single culture encumbers each of us. We see, hear and feel; we remember, dream and hope through the senses our cultures have given to us and we've inadvertently received; and to some extent, our cultural identities constrain and limit us.From July 2007, here's my blog about my experiences at the Orientale Lumen conference. Although I'm considering seriously attempting to ferret out the claim of the Antiochian Orthodox Church as the only, most true church, though they credit Roman Catholic and other Orthodox church bodies with valid sacraments because of apostolic succession, last July I found the Orthodox Eucharistic liturgy very eastern, highly un-western in style and expression. Clearly I have a habit of bringing Pastor Martin Luther into a lot of my blogs and live-talk, and Luther famously lists as one of his marks of the true church prayer and hymn-singing in the vernacular--in spoken, visual, symbolic and cultural speech people in the pews can comprehend! But of course there's valid argument for liturgies that are more formal and elaborate in terms of music, visuals and gestures sometimes helping people more easily imagine the Reign of Heaven here on earth, assisting their belief and trust in something "other than" the mundaneness of routine everyday existence.
Regarding various varieties of theology and expression, again I'm considering my own experience as someone who didn't grow up in the Church or on its peripheries; I first met Jesus, the Church and the Spirit within a context powerfully related and completely relevant to my own cultural background, passions and hopes: a small, very urban, passionately worshipful, liturgically variable, socially and politically activist community that demanded, expected and guided my full participation and commitment in all those areas. How many times have I told myself (probably) none of the congregations I've formally served on staff nor any I've attempted to get involved with since then wouldn't have attracted me at all, because I'd have been unable to discern the reality amidst the unfiltered and uninterpreted apparent clutter. And although these days I'm a good-enough cultural anthropologist, know sufficient theology and understand the Western (and the Eastern) Churches' historical liturgy so I'm able to get a clue to the texts, actions and meanings I experienced during the Orthodox Liturgy, I cannot imagine any person who's a product (literally) of Western culture and sensibilities comprehending Orthodox Liturgy as much more than an Adventure in Anthropology or in Comparative Christianity.