Archive for October, 2007

Anselm’s prayer to St. Peter

I’m reading through The Prayers & Meditations of St. Anselm still, I decided not to skip the prayers to the saints after all. They’re honestly fairly idolatrous, but there are still some amazing portions so I’ll read through. This morning I read a prayer to Peter. In part it read:

The runaway returns
and asks forgiveness for his errors and disobedience,
He shows to the good and healing shepherd
the gashes of wounds, and the bites of wolves,
which he ran into when he strayed,
and the neglected sore places
that he has had for a long time.
He begs him to have mercy while there is still life in him,
and he prays more by showing his need
to the merciful shepherd
than by any beseeching.

It ocurred to me how great a mercy it is that God continually rescues us from sin. Imagine a man who goes for a hike in the woods and is attacked by a mountain lion. He is injured, bleeding and unable to escape to safety. Imagine his gratitude if he were rescued from death.

When we sin and God does not abandon us fully to our sin but grants us the sweet gift of repentance, how much more grateful ought we to be. Is it not true that our enemy roams about like a lion, roaring in search of an opportunity to destroy us? Read the rest of this entry »

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Having heard the voice of God…

I was cut to the core this evening by a sermon from Erwin McManus called ‘Prayer: Spiritual Activism.‘ He tells of his 13 year old son who was continually asking Erwin how you could hear from God, or what it was like to hear God’s voice. During the summer, Erwin’s son went to camp and got in trouble for threatening to beat up another camper. His son refused to acknowledge that he was wrong and seek the other boy’s forgiveness. The camp called Erwin to come take his son home.

When Erwin arrived, he asked his son if he would ask the other boy for forgiveness. His son said no. He asked his son why and he said “Dad, you said I never had to do this Christian stuff if I didn’t want to and I don’t want to. I want to go home.” Erwin told his son that if he wanted to go home he should go pack his bags, hoping the boy would relent. His son went and packed. When he was done, he came back with the bags. Erwin told him to load them in the car if he wanted to leave, hoping again that he would relent. He didn’t.

After the car was loaded he took his son to a place in the trees and sat down with him. He told his son, ‘You know you should really stay here and work this out.” His son said “I don’t want to stay. I’m not going to.” Erwin asked, “Is there any voice inside of you telling you what to do?” “Yes,” his son said. “What is it telling you to do?” Erwin asked. His son said, “It’s telling me to stay here and work it out.” Erwin asked him, “Can you tell what that voice is?” And his son said, “Yes it’s God, but I’m still not going.”

Is this not us? What is God’s will we ask? And yet we are unwilling to obey. When we have not honored the gift of hearing from God we wonder why He will not continue to speak. As it says in Hebrews our disobedience causes our heart to grow hard and our ears to grow dull. We continue in this process until we are living as if we were deaf and God were silent. Then we curse Him for His silence.

As G. K. Chesterson says, obedience is the opener of eyes.

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Another thought on ‘Reviving the Tribe’

A follow up on my last post, ‘Reviving the Tribe

Here’s another thought. Eric Rofes is saying that becoming infected with HIV is a decision that we must respect. People must decide for themselves whether receiving body fluids from potentially HIV positive partners is more valuable to them as a sexual or spiritual part of their life than remaining alive is. The question arises whether the larger society is then responsible to provide treatment for men who seroconvert as a result of this decision.

Put another way, having unprotected sex of the sort Rofes is discussing risks health and life and also a great deal of money. Is the community responsible to subsidize that risk? Can someone demand that their community pay whatever it costs for them to have the sex acts the person feels they need to be fulfilled?

In the end, I think the answer is that a community owes sick people treatment. We can’t watch folks suffer without mercy. We must provide treatment to people suffering from AIDS. If we as a community take responsibility to provide treatment for these HIV positive men, then even if their decision to risk infection is educated, it is not a decision that affects only them. Unless they are able and willing to take responsibility to provide their own medical care, then they are only taking partial responsibility for their decision.

If they expect their community to join them in assuming responsibility for the risks of their personal decisions, can the community not express a degree of risk it is willing to accept and a degree it is not willing to accept?

The personal is political.

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Eric Rofes: Reviving the Tribe

reviving tribeSo I’ve been reading Reviving the Tribe by Eric Rofes. He was an HSU professor who passed away last year. He’s a long time gay activist and thinker who used to head the Shanti Project, an organization responding to the AIDS crisis centered at the time in the Castro in San Francisco. Before that he headed a leading AIDS-response organization in L.A. These were some of the most turbulent years in the gay community and he discusses the community’s response to AIDS during this time, drawing parallels to the Holocaust and the Atomic bombing in Hiroshima.

He helped me understand how AIDS felt to members of the gay community in a way I never did before. He tells the story of that culture from the early ’70s through the outbreak of the epidemic and the early fallout; the initial response and then the evolution of response as it became clear that AIDS wasn’t going away, in fact was going strong through the ’90s. He discusses what it felt like when he first heard of ‘gay cancer’ and then GRID, he discusses the impact of Stonewall and so forth.

Finally, he tries to reconceive a means of addressing the epidemic. I’m really startled by his view of AIDS prevention. He is critical of an approach to prevention that emphasizes safe as opposed to unsafe behaviors. For example characterizing unprotected sex with an HIV positive partner as an ‘unsafe behavior’ is problematic for Rofes. That’s startling. I was startled by that anyhow.

He argues that exchanging body fluid is an act with more value for some gay men than staying alive. Read the rest of this entry »

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