kassia: (Default)
Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 07:11 am
your steps are the Way,
that's all.
there is no Way -
one makes Way by walking.
Walking makes a Way,
and turning, to see the path behind,
that is never returned to.
there is no Way -
only wakes on the water.

son tus huellas el camino,
y nada más;
no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace camino,
y al volver la vista atrás se ve la senda
que nunca se ha de volver a pisar.
no hay camino,
sino estelas en la mar.
by Antonio Machado
kassia: (syriac)
Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 05:18 pm
For many folks, the idea of a virgin birth (and after, remaining
virgin!) is very hard to understand. It is not the normal way of
things. All we understand about biology does not permit it – it is so
incredible that the virgin birth is the highest exhibit in the mind of
those who assert that adhering the Christian faith requires
disbelieving plain facts that are evident to everyone. The pop
atheists of the current day don’t like this at all. I don’t really
like it myself. I believe in the scientific method, and that humans
can have a common understanding of reality. So this tenet of our faith
requires some careful consideration for me on what kind of God we
believe in.
When many of the “new atheists” talk about disbelieving in God, they
disbelieve in a very specific kind of God: one that is either
worthless or cruel. The key point in their arguments is this: if God
were all-powerful and kind, we would not suffer. Since we do, God is
either weak or mean, and the notion of God as weak is unthinkable. If
God were weak, why would we worship?
We have in the nativity an even bigger paradox than that of the virgin
pregnancy, one that is often overlooked but features prominently in
Orthodox hymns. The crazy thing about the gestation of Christ is that
a girl, a human person, holds God inside her body, and it is not so
overwhelming that it kills her. What kind of God could this be? It’s
sort of a very small God, a tiny, single-cell God, that splits into a
fetus, inside a womb, and is born an utterly dependent human, the
weakest kind of human on the planet. Cell by cell Divinity divides, a
fetal Ancient. Then, eventually, God is born, and screams in shock at
his first breath.
So, we have a weak God. A God who comes into the world completely
powerless. A God who screams and nurses and can’t control his bowels.
A God that Needs -- a God that needs, in particular, a mother. And,
because all our feasts work together in unity, we know that later in
the story, we have a God who suffers. What kind of God is this, and
what does it tell us about suffering, and about power?
One thing it says to me, that helps me make sense of why we suffer, is
that being in a position to heal another’s suffering is a great gift.
It is a privilege and an honor for the Theotokos to take care of God,
to be able to take care of God! Perhaps it is so good to help one
another, that it is worthwhile for us to suffer just to give one
another that opportunity. So when we ask, “why is this happening to
me?”, an answer could be “so that someone can have the gift of helping
me, and that I can have the gift of accepting that help”. Because the
gift of Christmas is God coming into the world in need of help,
because This is how we show love – we take care of each other when we
are suffering, we provide for each other when we lack for something,
when we Need.
Another thing, and this is even harder for me to work with in a
kyriarchal world, where power is supposed to convey safety and freedom
from suffering and all kinds of good and pleasant implications, is
that power is not worth having. Power is not as important as love. We
worship a God that chooses love, and comes into the world weak as a
baby. All the things we value and think we will have, if we can just
get enough power (in particular, money, which is how we, in our
capitalist society, get power), God rejects, in favor of love. It’s a
different kind of safety: we are safe not because we have enough power
that others are afraid to hurt us, but because, if we have love, when
we hurt, we will take care of each other, and it will be ok. It’s a
different kind of freedom: we are free, not because we have enough
power to do what we want without consequence, but because we don’t
have to be afraid of getting hurt, because, if we have love, we will
take care of each other, and it will be ok.
The idea that power is not worth having, that love is more important,
that suffering doesn’t need to be avoided, this is even crazier than
the oxymoron of a virgin birth. This is the revolution of our faith,
and it is necessarily dangerous to those who have power, to those who
have placed their trust in power. And I ask you, as I challenge
myself, to dare to claim this mystery, to carry love for each other
through the darkness of winter and into the coming year, and to see
all the pain and sadness and suffering that life brings as
opportunities to show each other that love, and to remember our God,
who chooses to be weak, to show us love.
kassia: (Default)
Sunday, November 20th, 2011 08:08 pm
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel's Justice by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel's Mercy by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel's Chosen by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel's Avatar by Jacqueline Carey
kassia: (Default)
Saturday, September 17th, 2011 03:01 pm
Sacred trash : the lost and found world of the Cairo Geniza by Adina Hoffman
Clarifying the Natural State : A Principal Guidance Manual for Mahamudra by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal
The Tribe of Dina : a Jewish women's anthology by Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz
kassia: (Default)
Monday, June 6th, 2011 07:12 am
Kraken by China Mieville
Skim by Mariko Tamaki
The Taoist experience : an anthology by Livia Kohn
Counsels on the spiritual life by the Hermit Mark
Among Women by Nancy Rabinowitz
Encountering Women of Faith: St Catherine's Vision by Kyriaki Karidoyanes FitzGerald
Keep your wives away from them : writings by and about Orthodox LBT women by Miryam Kabakov
Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa
Anticancer : a new way of life by David Servan-Schreiber
kassia: (Default)
Monday, February 28th, 2011 05:38 pm
Two Nations in Your Womb : Perceptions of Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages by Israel Jacob Yuval (concerning the co-development of Judaism and Christianity)

Demonizing the Queen of Sheba : boundaries of gender and culture in postbiblical Judaism and medieval Islam by Jacob Lassner (concerning the co-development of Judaism and Islam)
kassia: (Default)
Monday, January 31st, 2011 06:39 am
an abbreviated selection

The Ways That Never Parted : Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages ed. Adam H. Becker, Annette Yoshiko Reed

Explorations on faith and practice along the Jewish-Christian Continuum, during the time when both rabbinic Judaism and orthodox Christianity were defining ourselves. I'd've preferred more archeology, and some examination of the Ethiopian evidence (having its Christian foundations in late antiquity, and being the most "Jewish" of the extant Christian traditions), but well worth reading anyway.

The hyena people : Ethiopian Jews in Christian Ethiopia by Hagar Salamon

Speaking of the Ethiopian evidence, here is a short and excellent study about the modern relationships between the Bet Israel and their Christian neighbors.
kassia: (Default)
Friday, December 31st, 2010 12:44 pm
Mission of Friar William of Rubruck : His Journey to the Court of the Great Khan Mungke tr. Peter Jackson - A Franciscan monk becomes a court pet of the Mongols! Fascinating study in cultural anthropology and eurocentrism, told in a most entertainly colloquial fashion, by a jester who may or may not be entirely in on the joke.

The Secret History of the Mongol Queens : How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by Jack Weatherford - When women ruled the world! Also, Mongols! They live in gers! They don't eat plants!

Sex Working and the Bible by Avaren Ipsen - Prostitutes read the bible, with very useful insights.

Our Man of Patience by Anees I. Baroody - Finally, the book of Job makes sense.

Feminist theory from margin to center by bell hooks - Readable and sensible and realistic feminist theory. altogether excellent.

She Who Is : The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse by Elizabeth Johnson - Now that much of the boring groundwork has been taken care of (Women are persons! God isn't male!) we can get around to doing some real feminist theology. Here it is.

Duties of the Heart by Rabbi Bachya ibn Paquda tr. Daniel Haberman - Practical Jewish philosophy in trusting God and living well.

Tao te ching : the classic book of integrity and the way, a new translation by Victor H. Mair based on the recently discovered ma-wang-tui manuscripts - What can be said about the old man? He had it just about all figured out.

Christ the Eternal Tao by Hieromonk Damascene - Aspires to much in the east-west spiritual synthesis department and accomplishes some of it.

The Jesus Sutras : rediscovering the lost scrolls of taoist christianity by Martin Palmer - interesting interpretations of Medieval Eastern Christian Chinese documents. A good companion to Saeki, especially if you can overlook the evangelistic dogmatic syncretism.

kassia: (Default)
Friday, December 31st, 2010 08:47 am
The Tao of Health, Longevity, and Immortality : the teachings of immortals chung and lu tr. Eva Wong

Holding Yin, Embracing Yang : three taoist classics on meditation, breath regulation, sexual yoga, and the circulation of internal energy tr. Eva Wong

Orthodox spiritual life by Georgios I. Mantzarides

Understanding the Fourth Gospel by John Ashton

The Forgetting Room by Nick Bantock

Girl Genius vol. 1-9 by Kaja and Phil Foglio

The Jesus Sutras : rediscovering the lost scrolls of taoist christianity by Martin Palmer

Women, race & class by Angela Y. Davis

The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader" by C. S. Lewis

Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world by Jack Weatherford
kassia: (Default)
Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 06:33 am
Thirst by Mary Oliver - recommended

Mother Gavrilia : The Ascetic of Love by Nun Gavrilia (D. Georgiou) tr. Helen Anthony - recommended

The Earliest Christian Hymnbook : The Odes of Solomon tr. James H. Charlesworth

The Inner Teachings of Taoism by Chang Po-Tuan tr. Thomas Cleary

The Cloud of Unknowing ed. Patrick Gallacher

Practical Taoism tr. Thomas Cleary

Fellow Workers with God : Orthodox Thinking on Theosis by Norman Russell - "Grace is not a 'thing' we receive. It is God of his [sic] own free will meeting us in ecstasy. It restores us to our integrity and wholeness, making us complete persons." - recommended

The Christian Buddhism of St. John : new insights into the fourth gospel by J. Edgar Bruns

Taoist meditation : methods for cultivating a healthy mind and body tr. Thomas Cleary

Cultivating stillness : a Taoist manual for transforming body and mind tr. Eva Wong
kassia: (Default)
Sunday, October 31st, 2010 11:43 am
Goddess Initiation : A Practical Celtic Program for Soul-Healing, Self-Fulfillment & Wild Wisdom by Francesca De Grandis
Christ the Eternal Tao by Hieromonk Damascene
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
The Ratchatcher : a lyrical satire by Marina Tsvetaeva tr. Angela Livingstone
Redeemer - friend and mother : salvation in antiquity and in the Gospel of John by J. Massyngbaerde Ford
Tantric Practice in Nying-Ma by Khetsun Sangpo tr. and ed. Jeffrey Hopkins and co-ed. Anne C. Klein
The First Paul : reclaiming the radical visionary behind the church's conservative icon by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
Mark's Other Gospel : rethinking Morthon Smith's controversial discovery by Scott G. Brown
kassia: (Default)
Friday, October 1st, 2010 11:45 am
Sister outsider by Audre Lorde
Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron
The Inner Teachings of Taoism by Chang Po-Tuan with commentary by Liu I-Ming tr. Thomas Cleary
Octopus : the ocean's intelligent invertebrate by Jennifer A. Mather, Roland C. Anderson, and James B. Wood
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
Makers by Cory Doctorow (Engaging enough to keep me reading, one installment after another, on my iphone. sort of richard powers meets douglas coupland.)
Chazown : define your vision. pursue your passion. life your life on purpose. by Craig Groeschel my review
The Legend and the Apostle : the battle for Paul in story and canon by Dennis Ronald MacDonald
Immodest Acts : the life of a lesbian nun in renaissance italy by Judith C. Brown
kassia: (Default)
Tuesday, September 7th, 2010 06:09 am
St. Kassia is known for two things: being a smart ass, and writing amazing hymns.

When evaluating bridal candidates, Emperor Theophilus baited her with the words "from woman come evils". Her comeback? "but from woman come blessings" (presumably refering to Eve and Mary, respectively). He chose another (Theodora the Armenian, who turned out to be a particularly capable ruler), and Kassia went on to lead a convent, writing hymns so astounding that her name has stayed attached to them: the earliest works of any composer whose name we have.
You can hear some here.

In the words of Theodore of Studium:

"You have again favoured us, most honoured Madam, with writings so able and so learned as to fill us with admiration and with thankfulness to the Lord. Especially as all this wisdom is found in a quite youthful maiden! I cannot say that you have attained to the standard of the ancients, for we of the present time, both men and women, fall far short of our predecessors in knowledge and in skill. But among those of to-day, you shine pre-eminent. Your speech is beautiful beyond all temporal beauty, and what is yet more excellent, your life accords with your speech, and in neither is there any uncertainty of foot."

Icon by the hand of Elena Kisterovoy
kassia: (feet)
Friday, September 3rd, 2010 02:55 pm
from [info]kaph

The Meme: List the first 15 books you think of that have had the greatest influence on you. (This should be fast -- no more than 15 minutes!)

not necessarily recommendations, and in no particular order

1. foucault's pendulum by umberto eco
2. beginning to pray by anthony bloom
3. the heliand
4. the glass bead game by herman hesse
5. the god who is there by francis schaeffer
6. sensual orthodoxy by debbie blue
7. the sign and the seal by graham hancock
8. science and health by mary baker eddy
9. practical mysticism by evelyn underhill
10. everyday zen by charlotte joko beck
11. wonderful ethiopians by drusilla dunjee houston
12. the christian bible
13. eye, brain, and vision by david h. hubel
14. vehicles by valentino braitenberg
15. thirst by mary oliver
kassia: (syriac)
Friday, September 3rd, 2010 12:11 pm
The late Roman Catholic priest Raimon Panikkar
kassia: (Default)
Saturday, August 28th, 2010 07:36 pm
The Path of the Just by Moshe Chaim Luzzatto tr. Yosef Leibler
Practical Taoism by Thomas F. Cleary
The kindness of God : metaphor, gender, and religious language by Janet Martin Soskice
Gender and the Nicene Creed by Elizabeth Rankin Geitz
kassia: (Default)
Saturday, August 21st, 2010 07:02 am
Tao te ching : the classic book of integrity and the way, a new translation by Victor H. Mair based on the recently discovered ma-wang-tui manuscripts

Taoist meditation : methods for cultivating a healthy mind and body tr. Thomas F. Cleary

A Study of the History of Nestorian Christianity in China and its Literature in Chinese : together with a new English translation of the Dunhuang Nestorian Documents by Li Tang
kassia: (Default)
Saturday, August 14th, 2010 11:44 am
Seven Taoist Masters : a folk novel of China tr. Eva Wong
A woman's place : house churches in earliest Christianity by Carolyn Osiek and Margaret Y. MacDonald with Janet H. Tulloch