Today is St. Patrick's Day. I'm not really big on observing the day, but I am fine with the celebration. Yes, I do get the disconnect between remembering a great saint of the church who sacrificed much in his life because of his faith, with inebriation and strange tavern games that would embarrass its participants if they were sober. Nevertheless, remembering the life of a saint with more than quiet reflection is a good thing. There is a place for such reflection, but there is also room for joy and laughter. Jesus speaks of the religious leaders in his day for not being happy with those whom God has sent. John the Baptist came in austerity eating bugs dipped in raw honey and they said he was demon possessed. Jesus came and spent his time eating and drinking with the "wrong" people and those same leaders accused him of being a drunkard and a glutton. If the great saints of the church point us toward God, then by all means let's remember and celebrate their lives with moments of quiet prayer and reflection and with the kind of party that truly honors their life and faith and not using the day of observance as just another excuse to fall into a state of unconsciousness.
"Vanderbilt University enacted a new non-discrimination policy that forbids campus religious groups from asking student leaders to affirm the group's doctrinal commitments." Seriously? How does one respond to such nonsense? I assume that those individuals at Vanderbilt who developed this policy are Ph.Ds. This just confirms my contention that at times, "Ph.D" can stand for "Pile it higher and Deeper." I wrote a post this week on the moral problems with an emotively individualistic culture. That post certainly applies here. Tish Warren offers an excellent response to what is frankly an embarrassing policy and ought to be so to everyone who works at the university's divinity school.
We are fully into the throes of March Madness. With the major upsets we have seen already, there is a reason it is referred to as "madness." If the highly seeded teams always won, it would be referred to as "March Inevitable" of "March Expected." That's not very interesting.
Why is it that we want our politicians running for office to be "common folk" like us? I've never understood that. Very few of them are "common folk" anyway. They all have more money than most of us. I truly do not care if those running for political office cook their own burgers on the grill, drive their own automobile, or do their own grocery shopping. I simply want those in office to do what needs to be done to fix what is broken and to keep their hands off of those things that are working well without them. Whether or not they were born in a log cabin or walked to school uphill and barefoot in the snow both ways means nothing to me.
A scientific study suggests that people with wandering minds may have sharper brains. Does this mean I should ponder while I wander?
Speaking of pondering-- in this season of Lent I have been reflecting on the value of fasting from social media and technology in general. I know it is impossible for most of us to extract ourselves completely. I do depend on email and text messaging for what I do as a pastor and a professor. But with the unseasonably warm weather we are experiencing this week in NE Ohio, I have thoughts that it would be a beneficial and centering thing to put down the computer and the social media apps on the cell phone, and just enjoy the outdoors and relive, for a little while, the days when none of this stuff existed. We did manage not only to survive, but to thrive in those primitive days. And when we think about it, will our lives be much less enriched if we don't know who one of our Facebook friends is having lunch with or at what coffee shop he or she has checked into while blogging about random and not necessarily connected thoughts?
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is stepping down. With everything happening in the Anglican Communion right now, Williams has had a thankless job. I have admired the archbishop's keen theological mind. Whether he has been a good archbishop or not, I am not qualified to say. I will say this-- the next archbishop needs to have, to quote Williams, "the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros."