Posts Tagged ‘canon’

I Don’t Go in for Hierarchy

June 29, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve been reading the first few chapters of Touching Heaven the last few days. There’s something in it that sticks in my craw.

In a word, it’s hierarchy.

So, first, some context: the book is about Orthodox Christianity, written by a guy who grew up Protestant and later (I assume) converted to Orthodoxy, spent some time with some Russian monks. A lot of what he says is good to my ear: the role of mystery, the way the liturgy makes faith tangible, the pitfalls of a faith that exists only in the vacuum of the mind or the pages of books, the startling experience of God in one’s practice. I like that he puts more importance on silently reciting the Jesus prayer while gardening than on the attempt to climb the rungs of church leadership.

The thing I get stuck on is Read more…


Canon is Community Food

July 11, 2011 Leave a comment

“A canon provides answers to the two basic questions of life – ‘who are we?’ and ‘what should we do?’ – in ever changing circumstances and situations” (Oxford Study Bible, page 94). In other words, canon is myth. No, it’s the literary or oral vehicle of myth, while myth is the story itself. And as long as we’re on definitions, let me add that mythos is the spirit, the ephemeral quality contained in the myth: the content within the content. Mythos is encapsulated in myth, and myth is both carried and stabilized in canon.

This makes me wonder: what is our – my – canon?

And the question following on its heels is, to which community do I belong? For canon is a community food.

Gotta Sink an Anchor

January 29, 2011 2 comments

“In these first centuries of the common era both Judaism and Christianity gave shape to and defined the authority of collections of writings that formed their respective Bibles or canons of sacred writings” (Oxford Study Bible, page 47).

Is this true? I had no idea that Judaism waited so long to canonize its scriptures. It’s strange to think of Christians and Jews on a parallel track to found themselves, to make a way not to forget themselves in a shifting world. It was a time when you could no longer trust culture. Too much was changing; you couldn’t trust yourself to pass the traditions to your children, and you couldn’t trust them either. It was time to textualize: this book, this will tell us what is true and what we are. What a sad time.

And yet, part of what they were doing I hold in common: “engaging the past in search of identity for the present and direction for the future” (ibid.).