Odds and Evens

  As we start Lent, here are some links for your thoughtful reading, beginning with one of mine and getting better after that.


    “Death and AI and Resurrection” takes off from a political ad in the 2022 election featuring a teenaged boy, who had been killed in a school shooting, asking the viewers to vote against gun violence on his behalf since he is unable to vote himself. The ad was made by the use of AI. I reference an essay in The New Atlantis that argued this is a moral-line-crossing done by AI, that the dead should be allowed to be dead. I wonder why, which leads me to some interesting thoughts by Herbert McCabe (and a link to a sermon of his, on BBC TV in the day), on how our anger at human death reflects our desire for the resurrection. It’s all too much, surely, for a mere thousand words, but I had fun writing it. https://humanlifereview.com/death-and-ai-and-resurrection/


    “‘Lord’ Is an Indispensable Word” is by an Episcopal priest on the tendency to avoid the word “Lord” in our more recent prayers. Fr. Adam Linton writes: “To call Jesus Lord . . . doesn’t come naturally to any of us. That we should be able to call him Lord, with all that this is meant to mean, is itself God’s gift: a gracious, providential, and mysterious gift; given to us through the power of the Spirit. There’s a reason that the church’s earliest creed — and still its most fundamental creed — is precisely ‘Jesus is Lord’ (Rom. 10:9).” I have noted the tendency to avoid this word in contemporary hymnody and some praise music; it is, I think, a tendency worth resisting. But more so, knowing we have the gift of calling upon our Lord is worth prayer and wonder during Lent. https://covenant.livingchurch.org/2024/02/01/lord-is-an-indispensable-word/


    Canadian priest Dane Neufeld begins “Consecrated Reading” with a childhood memory of finding, early in the morning, his father in his recliner reading his Bible. He wonders what unintended message he sends his children if they find him reading his Bible—from his cellphone. They obviously won’t know that he is reading Scripture; the image they will have is no different from one of him catching news or scrolling ads. His essay interestingly teases out the good and the bad of technology. A sample: “Though it would be difficult to measure, it is not clear to me that the proliferation of Bible apps and online Bible platforms have increased or deepened scriptural knowledge among God’s people. The opposite actually seems true: we have become scattered, distracted and impatient readers of Scripture, at a time when a singularity of purpose is most needed.” I thought: maybe I should, at least for Lent, read the day’s Scriptures from a physical Bible. https://covenant.livingchurch.org/2024/01/31/consecrated-reading/

    Finally, I recommend a reading of “Uncle Tom or New Negro? A Black Episcopalian’s Reflections on Booker T. Washington.” The Rev. Dr. Brandt Montgomery starts with the basic disagreement between Washington and W. E. DuBois. Montgomery’s view is not simply dismissive of Washington as an accommodationist, but neither does he agree with him completely. He sees no reason DuBois and Washington (and their respective followers) could not have worked cooperatively, writing that if such had happened “The Black community could have seen much earlier how the struggle for full equality needs both the technically minded and the intellectual and how one’s pull toward the other does not determine if one is ‘Black enough.’” I first met Montgomery when he was the seminarian at Saint Thomas in New York City, and I continue to be impressed by his work. (And I would say this even if he didn’t give me a shout-out!) https://covenant.livingchurch.org/2024/02/06/uncle-tom-or-new-negro-a-black-episcopalians-reflections-on-booker-t-washington/


    Out & About. Harold Fry receives a note from Queenie, the first he has heard from her in twenty years. She is dying. He manages to write a note in return: Thank you for your letter. I am very sorry. That’s all. How British, one thinks. He puts it in an envelope. He walks to the mailbox at the end of his street. But instead of mailing it, he keeps the letter and walks on to the next mailbox . . . and then to the next. With no other preparation and for reasons he himself cannot understand, he has set out to walk from his home in southwest England to her hospice in Scotland. We will discuss The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, a novel by Rachel Joyce, on March 10 at Good Books & Good Talk. Read it and come to our discussion at 5 p.m. that Sunday at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Dallas.

    Lenten Programs. Two churches are having special programs based on my little book A Post-Covid Catechesis, and I will be at the first class of each next week. Tuesday, February 20, St. Stephen’s in Sherman, Tex., at 6 p.m., I’ll speak and have Q&A on God as Creator. Similarly on Wednesday, February 21, at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Dallas, where the class will be at 7 p.m., preceded by Stations at 6 and light supper at 6:30. Everyone is welcome to either of these (and both will continue weekly, for five sessions). The point of the book and these classes is for us to grasp five basic Christian teachings that are important for our time.



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The Rev. Canon Victor Lee Austin. Ph.D., is the Theologian-in-Residence for the diocese and is the author of several books including, "Friendship: The Heart of Being Human" and "A Post-Covid Catechesis.: