25 October 2012

Frosty shorts

Fall day at Moscow
Theological Seminary
Fall day at Moscow Seminary
AVP exercise: "atomic eggs"
"Atomic eggs"--edge of success
Our first days and nights of frost are behind us. We have a couple of warm (35-40 degrees F.) days ahead, says the weather report, and then we expect to say hello to our fifth winter in Elektrostal.

We can't complain. Fall gave us a farewell gift during our Friends House Moscow board meetings last weekend: a beautiful sunny Saturday in a friendly location, the Moscow Theological Seminary of Evangelical Christians/Baptists, near the FHM location on Moscow's east side.

The next day was colder and greyer, but still pleasant enough for an outdoor Alternatives to Violence exercise in the seminary courtyard: gently landing our "atomic eggs" on narrow bottlenecks through slow and careful group coordination (see photos).

I've been following Friends United Meeting's "40 Days of Prayer for the Future of Friends." The two entries that have fallen on Sundays have been fertile themes for me to take with me to Moscow Meeting for us to consider together. On the 14th I read the account of Jesus inviting Peter to leave the boat and meet him on the water, and invited all of us to consider the queries in the 40 Days booklet. I'm especially interested in what the "boat" represents for us, and what keeps us in it.

Last Sunday, the 40 Days entry asked us to look at Matthew 18:18-20, a passage that I often remember when I think about how small some of our Friends meetings are. ("...Where two or three are gathered....") But this time my attention was caught by the queries:
  • What among Friends/FUM/our yearly meeting may need to be bound by Christ’s healing grace?
  • What spiritual threats or entanglements among Friends/FUM our yearly meeting may Christ need to loose and set free?
  • What in our church/meeting/worship group may need to be bound by Christ’s healing grace?
  • What spiritual threats or entanglements in our church/meeting/worship group may Christ need to loose and set free?
  • What in me may need to be bound by Christ’s healing grace?
  • What spiritual threats or entanglements in me may Christ need to loose and set free?
Another person who spoke at the meeting told a funny/sad story: Someone overheard two tourists in central Moscow. One was pointing and saying to the other, "Look! That's the Pussy Riot cathedral." Our Friend said, "Yes, the building formerly known as the Cathedral of Christ the Savior has been renamed, and Christ has been put in the background." With two young women in prison, it's not hard to think about "binding and loosing" in very concrete terms--and not just about the women.

Today's page in the 40 Days prayer booklet really jumped out at me, in the New Living translation: "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." Have we made our case?

Our churches and meetings should be laboratories of love, where we can practice a completely new mentality of reconciliation to take into the world. How badly that is needed is well expressed by Brandon Filbert's "Rector's Corner" blog entry yesterday from St. Timothy's Episcopal Church, Salem, Oregon. "The loud-mouthed and arrogant tone of much atheism is but a mirror held up to the Christian record."

Friends House Moscow has a page on Facebook.

"Quaker Bankers, Tithes, and a Chocolate Factory."

"The Ways Halloween Is Truly Evil."

Report from Friends World Committee: A member of German Yearly Meeting of Friends will be the new head of the European ecumenical Church and Peace network.

For what they're worth, here are three items on recent developments in Russian politics: "An Abduction, A Scandal, and a Tipping Point"; "Vladimir Putin's Ever-Decreasing Circle of Friends"; and "Putin Foe 'Torture' Allegations Spark Russia-US Row."

"The Line, the 47%, and the Food Stamp Professor." "So this tenured professor who holds four advanced degrees from two Ivy League institutions with a fifth advanced degree on the way, shared with a group of undergraduates that he had once been on food stamps. That I wouldn’t have made it through my education without government help – through food stamps, free lunches, Pell grants, and government-backed student loans."

Peter Chattaway speaks my mind about the absurdities of Ridley Scott's Prometheus.

Susanne Kromberg sent me a joyful report: Harry Hole isn't dead. Until I get official confirmation, I'll continue reading between the lines of Robert Birnbaum's fascinating interview with Harry's creator, Norwegian crime fiction writer Jo Nesbø.

Something a bit different from my normal dessert fare:

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