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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Is it a Homily?

I will be speaking at my brother's wedding. He has asked me to do the talk, which is maybe a homily, for 3-4 minutes. The service will be very minimalist--I don't believe there will be any other readings or spoken portion other than the vows. It is also a secular service with the officiant chosen by the wedding planner who is employed by the facility where the wedding will be held.

My brother and his bride-to-be do not attend church, although they have worked together to feed the homeless at Paz de Cristo. My brother is fiercely anti-religion. I believe his fiance is much less so.

So, everyone, but especially my clergy friends, what do you think of this as an outline.

Open: Joke about how Jeff only wants me to speak for 3-4 minutes so I don't have time for [quick comments about their past together]; nor do I have time for [quick notes about their future together]; I can only talk about today.

Body: What I can say about today is that this is a sacred event. And of course, sacred is a religious word suggesting that something is blessed by the presence of God. But religion doesn't make this, or any other wedding, sacred. That word just points to what we can all clearly see.

First, that this union is blessed. That means it is more that a good thing . . . [Talk about how great the bride and groom are, and how great their union is]

Second, that blessing is recognized by the presence of others . . . [talk about the role the family and friends play in making a marriage work]

Finally, present in this union is something more than the sum of its parts. [talk about the profound transforming effect of Love and Marriage] As they say, "To love another person is to see the face of God." Jeff and Susan are plainly privy to that today.

Thoughts? Suggested reading? Pitfalls to avoid? What do you think?

Also, any tips for speaking to non-church folks on such topics?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Augustine on Science

One thing that continues to jump out at me while reading the Great Books is how common "modern" ideas are. Augustine is writing in the fourth century, so I was interested to read what he has to say about science.

An important background point is that Augustine's Confession is not only a story about how great his conversion to Christianity was, but also how evil everything he did in the past was. He seems to hate his father for having the nerve to provide him with a top notch liberal arts education. Even his love for his mother is limited to her praying for him to become a Christian. I don't find Augustine to be particularly lovable.

Book IV, chapters 15 and 16 give his thoughts on science. For Augstine, he compares Christianity to a variety of other world views. For whatever reason, he seems to take science and Manichaeism as a pair. He basically observes that science is better at describing the natural world than the Manichaens. So, why not go with science. Then, he think Christianity is better than the scientists.