July 9, 2020

My Gear (Part 1)

From left to right:

A custom made metal cross given to me as a gift many years ago in high school by my good friend and mentor Tom Meacham. The cross is empty and says, “He is Alive!” Tom was my introduction to Anglicanism, C.S. Lewis, all things Inter-Varsity and many good times.

Anglican prayer beads I bought two years ago. I use them to pray the Jesus Prayer, Lord’s Prayer and for various people. When I feel a bead, I think of a person. It’s a great way to focus prayer away from distractions and to a simple, physical action. I love the cross.

An olive wood carving of Jesus Denise gave me for Christmas. He is carrying the cross, and it reminds me that there is no bottom to his forgiveness. “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”

My Alan Creech gear. I keep this in my pocket. Just feeling it in my hand during the day is a reminder of Jesus and the need to pray for my students, family, etc. Both rosaries have the cross of St. Francis, who is a very important inspiration to me as I think about living a “Jesus shaped” spirituality.

A St. Benedict’s Cross that I bought at Gethsemane monastery almost two years ago. It was a very special day I spent with my son. When I see it I think of my children and rejoice that they know and love Christ who died for them. I also think of a particular monk who has been a spiritual friend in absentia for a long time. I wear this cross when I preach during Holy Week.

None of this is “Catholic.” It’s all just a way to remember Jesus, be more focused and prayerful.

The evangelical wilderness is a lonely place. The post-evangelical journey is enriched with reminders that we have a better past than the ugly views of one another we’re sold on the internet. How terrible a thing it is to reject one for whom Christ died and to say, in the place of God, that a person is cut off from Christ. Let them grow together and God will be the judge of all of us. Kyrie.

I thank God that my Baptist tradition does not teach salvation by denomination, but by faith in Jesus alone. While we may not be in the same congregation or at the same table, we can affirm and encourage one another’s faith. Don’t we ALL need to hear the Gospel?

More gear later.

COMMENTERS: What’s your gear? What’s the story? Have any pics on flickr or elsewhere?

Comments

  1. Radaghast,

    I think you grew up in the same neighborhood as my wife. One of the more endearing things she said while we were dating:

    “I was in fifth grade when I found out you could be anything other that Catholic or Jewish!”

    Peace
    @GNW_Paul

  2. Have been watching this site for several weeks now and find it totally refreshing! Having been a Baptist all my life until recently, I never gave much thought to my “gear”. After looking around me, I actually have quite a bit. I even have a rosery somewhere (I remember my mother bought it at a garage sale…she thought it was a pretty necklace.) There are several wall crosses, a procelin “Faith” angel ( I couldn’t afford Hope, Love and Joy to complete the set), a Thomas Kinkade print of Jesus, a picture of Jesus praying that I bought at Knox Berry Farm when I was 12 and has always been with me, a jar of sand from the Sea of Galilee that a friend brought back from a visit, a wood burned plac with the Lord’s Prayer on it, a ten comandment charm braclet that I’ve had since I was a kid, lots of cross necklaces, a couple of crucifixes (cause I wasn’t allowed to have one as a kid), a picture of two children crossing a bridge with a gardian angel in the background that hung in my room as a child and hung in my kids room as well (but most of the glitter has fallen off the angle wings), a red wood slice with Jesus knocking at a door painted on it, a ship with “the will of God will never take you where the grace of God cannot keep you” engraved on brass sails. a “widow’s mite” that I got free with a trial subscrition to Human Events and yes, even a velvet painting of Jesus praying in the garden (it got wet the last time I moved and is somewhere in the garrage…

  3. Bob Brague says

    I don’t have any “gear” to report.

    If that makes me a terrible person and a seriously deficient Christian in the eyes of some, so be it.

    Nothing I have read on this thread so far makes me want to start carrying “gear” either.

    Where is the scripture that says, “You shall know them by their ‘gear'”? I keep forgetting.

    I hope this doesn’t come across as judgmental. I’m just confused as to the need/desire for “gear.”

  4. Bob – I am with you. I do not understand the need for “gear”. Not that it is wrong, I just do not get it.

    Oh well.

  5. Bob and Brian:

    Where did anyone say a person “had” to have anything on here? Where did anyone say you’re a bad Christian if you’ve got nothing? What do you think we’re doing here? Trying to tell you how to live or pray? Check again please.

    People are telling their own stories of things that are meaningful to them. We’ve done it on here with Bibles and maybe we’ll have CCM night soon.

    Make an effort to see what is and is not being said. If you don’t relate, that doesn’t mean it’s a put down of you. Just make an effort to read and not say “well it must mean I’m a bad Christian.”

    >If that makes me a terrible person and a seriously deficient Christian in the eyes of some, so be it.

    I cannot believe I am reading that sentence. WHERE on this thread are you getting that?

    The right to be different. It’s a wonderful thing. I’m happy that you are who you are and have not read one word that anyone ought to be like anyone else.

    ms

  6. ***Throwing things****

    ***Dog running***

  7. Imonk:

    This is the bad thing about blogs and email.

    I do not think or fell I am “bad” Christian at all because I have no “gear”. The thing I agree with that Bob said is that I do not understand the need or the desire. Thats all.

    If people can grow closer to the Lord with “gear” or without “gear” both are great, because our Lord is Great!

    Dont throw things.

  8. If it was just your comment, Brian, I wouldn’t even notice, but Bob’s line is the sort of line that makes any kind of diversity in the body of Christ someone’s enemy.

    “You charismatics make me feel inferior when you raise your hands.”

    And so on.

    Talking to one another about a meaningful place, experience, or possession is not judging another person’s spirituality, and I’m disappointed that Bob would feel he has to couch this in terms like “if that makes me a terrible Christian…”

  9. Ky Boy but not now says

    Martha
    “The Mormons were fine with the ‘God be with you’ part but couldn’t on doctrinal grounds say ‘and Mary’ so they had to find another method of saying “Hello” before they could even begin proselytising Irish speakers.”

    Just curious but is this greeting used by both RC’s and Protestants?

  10. I hear ya. Nowhere in this thread does anyone judge anyone. That is what makes it a great thread to read.

  11. Radagast says

    GNW_Paul,

    That exactly how I felt when I lived in New York up to age 11…

    And we had a number of yamakas [sp.] lying aroungd too…

  12. Larry Geiger says

    The Ten Commandments on a wood and brass plaque in our foyer.

  13. Radagast says

    Brian,

    Some of us just like “smells and bells” meaning that some things whether it be for seeing, or for smelling or for hearing cause my brain to take notice and think of God/Jesus or something I read in scripture. So, to me, gear is cool. Actually smells are cool too (maybe we could do something along those lines) and that is part of the reason why I have a secret affection for the eastern church – and don’t forget about the bells.

    But Brian – it isn’t a neccesity. Oh – and my love of history plays a part too…

  14. ProdigalSarah says

    I think that even as children we make use of our senses in learning in varying ways. My husband is so visually inclined that he has to look at a coin to tell what it is. I always found that odd because I know by touch. I am sure some could identify a coin by the sound it makes when it hits the floor.

    I routinely place my fingers around my little cross and think Christ Lives! Thank you, Jesus! Another person might feel the same by looking at an image in a book or smelling the scent of a candle or incense or listening to a church bell or hymn.

    I think the same is probably true when quieting our minds for prayer. I usually rely on music, but being one who is more inclined toward touch, the prayer beads really interested me. Growing up Southern Baptist I don’t think I was ever introduced to anything that might be considered a prayer aid that I could touch. About the only religious decoration in our home was praying hands.

    I think it’s helpful to keep open to learning from other traditions. If open to worshiping with all our senses we can find what helps us most, individually.

  15. Bob Brague says

    iMonk,

    Maybe I just said it wrong. I don’t really feel “deficient” — more of a “What am I missing here? Why do so many have “gear”? Why doesn’t my corner of the Christian world see the necessity in it? Why does theirs?”

    Maybe my thinking is warped. Maybe yours is.

    Maybe I’m making it worse.

    I’m certainly not against diversity in the body of Christ. So is it a cultural thing, ya think?

  16. Austin – yes, sometimes I do wonder “Hey, when are we going to have the evil institutional Eastern Orthodox with all the secret societies and world-domination plots, eh? I mean, they’ve been around as long!” When is Dan Brown going to write The Rubliev Code?

    Then again, it’s probably a compliment in horror films when the fearless vampire hunters visit the local Catholic church to stock up on monster slaying items (though I wince at the misuse of the Host in these films). Funnily enough, the most outraged I was was with “John Carpenter’s Vampires”, because they used the Cross of Cong and never either alluded to the fact that it was Irish and had absolutely nothing to do with the creation of vampires – I was sitting there going “Hey, that’s the Cross of Cong! They’re using a real cross instead of inventing their own! That’s ours! Cheek of them!”:

    http://www.cushnieent.force9.co.uk/WebSitePhotoGallery/cong.jpg

    In the main, what makes me roll my eyes are silly little errors that they have no excuse for not getting right (e.g. having a bishop wearing a rosary around his neck instead of a pectoral cross; getting the habits of religious orders completely wrong; things like that). The ‘evil institutional church covering up the Real Truth about Christ and plotting to take over the world and send us all back to the Dark Ages’ just makes me yawn because, really, what can you do with that kind of attitude? All the explaining in the world won’t drive it into their thick skulls that maybe, just maybe, they might be the slightest bit offensive?

    As when they were filming the follow-up to “The DaVinci Code”, “Angels and Demons”, in Rome and were all upset and hurt because the Vatican wouldn’t give them permission to film in churches. Goodness me, whyever could that be? Hmmm? Oh, that mean old Catholic Church – so unreasonable! 😉

  17. Ky boy – not a lot of Irish speaking Protestants, but there are some (I think). A lot to do with the history of our two islands and their relationship (basically, it’s The Eight Hundred Years) 😉

    I don’t actually know – that’s a fascinating question. I’ve never heard any objections from the Church of Ireland side; indeed, in my secondary school history book from way back in the late 1970s was an example of an Elizabethan primer, which had Latin, English and Irish in it – kind of a helpful translation of common phrases for the Protestant catechist amongst the wild Irish, and one of the phrases was indeed “Dia dhuit” – but they didn’t give the response.

  18. My “gear”

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/wiredance/3409801989/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/wiredance/3409803567/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/wiredance/3410613580/

    1st is my desktop, cluttered with stuff as usual, kinda having my rosary and my crucifix in the foreground.

    The crucifix I got from my father, he was raised as Roman Catholic, but attends at the local Baptist church, he got it from a friend of his (who, for some reason has a few more of these, though he’s not even Christian afaik), and then my father gave it to me.

    The rosary is a Catholic rosary, I bought it as an aid for prayer a few weeks ago, simply to keep me centered. I was also thinking of praying the Protestant rosary as found here: http://www.pathguy.com/rosary.htm – I could never pray to Mary, but I just love having a tool to keep me focused, and to pray in a way I never was taught to.

    Looking around I also find 2 Bibles and Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History on my desktop, plus in the bag I carry I have a short book with selected prayers & songs etc. of St. Francis of Assisi.

    I’m also Baptist (supposedly). Not from the USA, so SB-NBC distinction here…

  19. My gear:
    1) Mariner’s Cross (Crucifix for the nit pickers)
    2) Emmaus Cross

    I tend to wear message (silent witness) t-shirts a lot. Current favorites
    Return of the King (of Kings)
    (Front) Christianity is not a religion
    (back) Religion is humans trying to work their way to God

    Christianity is God Coming to men and women through a relationship with Jesus Christ
    “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever beliveth in Him should not perish but, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

  20. Martha,

    Now I have to go look up the Cross of Cong…

  21. Radagast, Wikipedia has done all the heavy lifting already:

    “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross_of_Cong

    The Cross of Cong is an early 12th century Irish Christian ornamented processional cusped cross, which was made at the behest of Turlough O’Connor (d. 1156), King of Connacht and High King of Ireland. It was designed to be placed on top of a religious staff or crosier. It was made for the Cathedral church of the period that was located at Tuam, County Galway, Ireland. The cross was subsequently moved to Cong Abbey (an Abbey located at Cong, County Mayo, near the border with County Galway), from which it takes its name. It is also a reliquary, designed to hold a piece of the purported True Cross. This gave it additional importance as an object of reverence and was undoubtedly the reason for the object’s elaborate beauty.

    Today the cross is stored in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin, but was previously stored in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin. It is considered one of finest specimens of metalwork and decorative art of its age in Western Europe.”

    Which is why I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it re-imagined (that’s the kindest term for what they did) as the ‘vampire cross’ in the film.

    On the one hand, I was delighted that the art department knew of this important art work, on the other hand, I thought it was dashed cheek to use it in such a way (now, had they used it as a famous vampire-dispelling cross, I might have been more gruntled) 🙂

  22. I spent many happy years as a Quaker (now a RC), so I can understand why someone might be baffled by others’ use of religious “props.” Ultimately, I think, most of us would agree that if your heart is right, the props don’t matter. As for the possessions we’re describing — it’s not a case of “needing” them in order to practice one’s religion — it is more like, these are mementos, pieces of art, something to hold onto or look at as a reminder.

    Some people do come to depend on the props more than they should. I’ve seen some pretty wild statements out there that sound more like magic than Christianity. But in my experience, it’s not that the objects produce the attitude but vice versa — people who are not ready to simply trust in Jesus make up elaborate rituals that they believe will somehow protect them from evil.

    As for my own “gear” — I don’t think about them much, but there are a few crosses in my house, a blessing tacked up next to my door and a palm-leaf cross over it. I wear a San Damiano cross on a chain as a routine part of my “underwear.” I also have a copy of the Liturgy of the Hours in my nightstand (though I don’t read it very often). And several Bibles in the bookcase, including a KJV given to me when I was 12 and a couple of modern translations.

    Interestingly, while I am a medieval historian researching the history of rosary and Christian prayer beads, and while I am a Catholic, I rarely pray the rosary myself. Because of the history project, I have quite a collection of beads of various forms, but it’s hardly fair to count them as “gear” {grin}.

    I’ve written a series of essays on Protestants and the Rosary that some may find of interest:
    Part I: Protestants and the Rosary
    Part II: Worship, honor, and the Virgin Mary
    Part III: Addressing saints
    Part IV: Can Protestants hail Mary?

  23. sue kephart says

    I have the ‘temptation in the desert’ icon by Br. Lavrans of Gethsemani Abbey. It was given to me by my husband when I made my commitment to the Lay Cistercians. It,of course, has a story regarding my own seach for Holiness.

    I also have the famous Holy Trinity icon. I have quite a number of cross necklaces which I almost always wear. Because I am a Christian.

    As far as the Rosary goes: I am not a RC but I don’t see the difference in RCs or others praying the Rosary and Praise and Worship Christians singing Praise songs over and over. They are both mantras.

  24. Well, I’ve not seen the cross, but I have stood and walked around in what’s left of Cong Abbey. 🙂

    Brian – on the defensive thing, for me as a Catholic I’ll answer – it’s what I like to call PTESD – that’s Post Traumatic Ecclesiastical Stress Disorder – it’s when you hang around a lot of “hyper Protestants” (I say hyper because they’re certainly not all that way) and get proverbially shot at, have to dodge so much polemical grenade shrapnel, etc. for so long, when you are back in the world and somebody throws question at you that’s just normal in their head, to us it sometimes sounds like an AK-47 round going off – we hit the floor and start shooting back – auto pilot. It’s not a good thing, but may be a little bit helpful as an explanation.

    Peace to all in this house! what was that!!?? hit the dirt!!! Oh, sorry – crap! crap!

  25. Mike, I love this thread. Very interesting. I didn’t think I had much gear, but, when I looked around I realized we had amassed quite a collection: Several rosaries from Rome, blessed by JPII, a 30+ year old rosary, my first given to me by a friend and out for repair, a 1 decade one from Guatemala and a gold rosary bracelet from a friend. Also, a couple of Alan’s rosaries soon on the way to my son and grandson. I have an icon of Our Lady of Tenderness in the entryway, OLPH in the bedroom along with the Pantocreator, both from Greece, an egg with Our Lady Hedegira from the Czech Republic, who looks into the kitchen where I spend a lot of time and 2 paintings on glass with Our Lady on one and St Michael the Archangel on the other, also from the Czech Republic. a small, ceramic Our Lady Protegenos my son bought when he was 8 for Mother’s Day. A small image statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe from Guatemala, a copy of the Presentation from a 12th Century altar from Heiligencreuz in Austria. Every bedroom has a cross, Christus Rex or Crucifix. Also in the entryway, an icon I embroidered of Jesus with the surprised sheep that reminds me He is always there. This along with several bookshelves of theology, spirituality and devotion, not to mention Bibles of various translations in 2 languages. Interesting to make an inventory and realize how important religious art, imagery and symbolism are in our home.

  26. Bob Brague and Brian, Thomas Howard, from Evangelical Royalty, wrote a book called Evangelical is Not Enough. He gives an excellent description of symbolism, the use of symbolism in worship, and why human beings respond to symbols.
    If you wonder if you might ever be interested, you might want to look at a picture of an icon called the Pantocreator. There are many versions, like the one Michael has on this blog, but also many different ones. There is a lot of symbolic information in it, but also, centuries of prayer inspired by it. You might find the experience interesting. You don’t worship the icon. Each part of the picture tells you something about the Person who created the world and our relationship to HIm. You “gaze” at it, you don’t stare at it and you don’t worship the icon. Just a thought. AnneG in NC

  27. I kind of wish I had a cross or something to wear around my neck … just as a reminder sometimes. Then again, many people who don’t even know who Christ is wear crosses, so I don’t want to be like them.

    I’d rather people saw Christ in my actions than on my neck.

  28. http://www.flickr.com/photos/9305363@N08/3415347038/

    Description under picture. I have far to go to catch up with the rest of you, but I think I have the cutest bear!

  29. MAJ Tony says

    Anne G: it’s actually “pantocrator” or “pantokrator” (no “e”) [greek Παντοκράτωρ] meaning “Almighty” or “All-Powerful.”