Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wade Into the Water

I love the gentle and insistent tone of this version of the late 19th century spiritual Wade Into the Water.

We can be unwelcoming, if not downright judgmental, toward those who work in God's name outside of our own institution and with those who are on the margins. I've read a number of examples recently which support a teaching of the Church by saying that it is justified because the people who have violated it are old, have bad voices and poor taste in liturgy (see this one). I'm tired of a Catholic debate that lowers itself to mocking and jeering.  "Is it not a great cruelty for us Christians, members of the body of the Holy Church, to attack one another?" suggested St. Catherine of Siena.  Enough.  Enough. Enough.

But the prophets among us wade into the troubled waters regardless, and for the most part, they are uninterested in wasting breath on debates and somewhat more focussed on breathing life into the places God walks in "distressing disguise" (to quote one such, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.)

As we wade back into ordinary time, where are the troubled waters, where are the distressed, and am I willing to wade in to fish them out?


  1. First, from my daughter's 2009 Willamette University graduation:

    "Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
    Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

    Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Bernice Johnson Reagon, who for more than 45 years has been a major cultural voice for freedom and justice – singing, teaching and speaking out against racism and organized inequities of all kinds.

    She recently retired after 30 years of performing with Sweet Honey In The Rock, the internationally renowned a cappella ensemble she founded in 1973. She produced most of the groups recording including the Grammy nominated Still The Same Me.

    Her work as a scholar and composer is reflected in numerous publications and productions on African American culture and history.

    Dr. Reagon is professor emeritus of history at American University and was the recipient of the 2003 Heinz Award for the Arts and Humanities for her work as a scholar and artist in African American cultural history and music."

    Her rendition of Wade in the Water during her speech blew the commencement ceremony OUT of the water as she urged the graduates to stir up the waters.

    1. THAT would have been an amazing moment....

  2. Second, I read the link and a few of the comments, as many as I could stand. I have no personal dog in that fight (well, other than the women I know called to the Catholic priesthood who would make brilliant priests, which I guess is actually a Great Dane-sized dog) but it is heartbreaking to read the self-serving justifications espoused by people who need to plunge into the water.

    1. I didn't read the comments, I simply can't. And I keep thinking that regardless of the Catholic Church's stance on their own practice, in some way this sort of thing mocks the work of women pastors in other denominations as well. Do we not respect the Presbyterian ministers?

    2. I think that various Scriptural passages resonate differently with people, or groups of people, depending upon their OWN inclinations and dispositions. The church as the bride of Christ is a lovely metaphor -- but it loses its sheen when it is used to hem God and God's people into gender-specific categories as if those categories take priority over the great universality of God's embrace: male and female we created them; in Christ there is no male or female; you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood.

    3. Avery Dulles SJ has a classic book called "Models of Church" which explores some of the different ways in which one can understand how we are "church" in this world, and how these ways have shifted back and forth over time.

      To my knowledge, there is no reason given why "Bride of Christ" trumps "Body of Christ" in this context.