I don’t get sin.

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

April 23

Ugh. Last night was “rehearsal night” for confirmation. It was alright. It’s exciting and scary and mundane. It’s like becoming what you become. Unfairly, as a candidate for confirmation you basically have to say that you believe everything that Catholic church claims about God. I don’t really know everything that the Catholic church claims about God, so that’s kind of tough to say. I suppose if I’m going with what I think I know the Catholic church claims about God, then I’m good. Anyway, it’s a weird feeling, and I understand why a witty teenager might back out.

But I don’t know. Whatever.

It’s so wrong, the way I’m going through this process. The more I think I know, the less I know. One of my friends was like, “This is where you are now, and that’s all you can be true to.” True. Very true. I can’t worry about the past, or anticipate the future, I just have to be where I am with God, and the Catholic church is it. Not perfect. Not “believing” everything. Just being true.

Then there is this confession thing. A good practice, but, again, whatever. First, I’m pretty sure I’ve committed no mortal sin. Because, well, it’s really difficult to do this. I have my issues, my day to day struggles, that have always been. Then I have these distinct moments of venial sin action—again, everyone does this. I do wrong, knowing it’s wrong (maybe a lie, not being generous, cheating, stealing, swearing, being mean, gossiping, anger). Then there are accidents of the same thing.

I’ve always strived to be good. Never actively choosing to step out of grace with God. And maybe that’s a sin too—perfection. Selfishness. Thinking I can do everything by myself, but I need reconciliation. I need to express my imperfection and my need for God.

That’s the short story. The strange thing is rehashing all of this in my mind. Because, I also honestly believe I am forgiven. I don’t need to go to a priest. I get it. Some do need this. And it’s a good practice. A super good practice. It’s better then the cry-fest every Sunday at Evangelical churches reminding us about how terrible we are.

Advertisements

17 Years of Post-Baptismal Sinning: What to confess?

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

April 15

It’s less than two weeks to confirmation. At some point before confirmation, I’m supposed to do reconciliation, also known as, confession. I’m not sure when or how. I think I can handle that. I was also thinking about what I’m supposed to confess. One thing I was reading told me that if it’s been a long time, I should write it down. Is it weird that I’m not sure what I need to confess? I’m not sure if it’s because I feel no remorse, or I feel already forgiven. I want to believe the latter.

It feels inauthentic to be like, “Yeah, I lied, or wasn’t very nice a couple times. I lusted. I didn’t care for someone when I should have. I was selfish. I didn’t give enough when I could have. I was judgy of someone when they didn’t deserve it…”

How specific am I supposed to be? Even above, I started thinking of my issues a little deeper. What do I struggle with most?

Not always being totally honest about my feelings. I do that a lot.

Coffee Interlude: Cake, Jasmine, and Bourbon

This is what I’m roasting and drinking. Four coffees from Sweet Maria’s, and I really like all of them.

Honduras Ocetepeque El Jutal.

I bought 5lbs from Honduras. I liked what the flavor profile looked like: cinnamon, buttery, walnut, and good all the way into Vienna roast. This one I like to refer to as “Coffee Cake”, though it is subtle. I imagined that the bean would show well and be versatile in the levels of roast, the way it is brewed, and if I happen to infuse it with whiskey (which I did, and haven’t tasted yet). Crowd-pleasing coffee.

Ethiopia and Rwanda

I also wanted to venture out into some African Coffees, and I bought beans from Ethiopia (Ethiopia Shakiso 2lbs) and Rwanda (Rwanda Karongi Gitesi 2lbs) that are nicer in the lighter roasts. Most people I don’t think are used to a good African coffee. They tend to be a bit more acidic (citrusy), and don’t lend themselves as well to darker roasts. At the same time they can be very complex with spicy, fruity, and floral notes. I haven’t been able to get a good test on the Ethiopian that I bought, but it is definitely more tea-like with hints of jasmine coming through, it is sweeter, and if you’re paying attention you might think of cherry cola while you drink. It’s an interesting cup, and I can’t decide how I feel about it.

The Rwanda, I think, is my favorite right now. It starts out a bit caramely, honey, tea, and finishes lemony, but in a muted way–like a custard. The roasted beans even have a less classic coffee smell, it’s way more complex, kind of bready sweet flowers. There is a lot you could imagine with this coffee. But it’s not exactly the classic nutty chocolate flavors most people like.

Donkey Decaf Espresso

Donkey espresso decaf (2lbs). This stuff is what I use for my afternoon latte. It’s made to be roasted a bit darker, and with a decaf bean, it looks darker than it was actually roasted. Even with my mediocre (at best) espresso pulls, this bean gets good crema, and taste very strong: bitter, chocolate, nutty, dying to be mixed with milk. SM recommends mixing it with another bean, but I think it’s pretty great the way it is. It’s the closest thing to rocket fuel I’ve drank in a while, and that’s saying a lot from a decaf.

Booze-infused coffee

Booze-infused coffee. I’ve been experimenting with small batches of booze-infused coffee. I’ll let you in on the 6 step process.

  1. Look in liquor cabinet.
  2. “Oh, this is almost empty.”
  3. Look in coffee cabinet.
  4. “Oh, I’m running out of this bean.”
  5. Mix booze and coffee
  6. Soak and stir for a week (1oz/1lb)
  7. Roast
  8. Morning smells like I’m an alcoholic.

I’ve done rum+guatemala (FAV-think bananas foster), rum+el salvador, scotch+guatemala, bourbon+costa rica, bourbon+guatemala, maple whiskey+costa rica, and maple whiskey+honduras. The next infusion will be 3-5lbs with Knob Creek Maple Bourbon turned into a nitro cold brew. It’s a serious experiment.  

I’m already picking out my next beans. I’m still a little shy of the Indonesian region, but I’ll work my way there. I’ll probably pick out a 5lb bag of central/south and 5lb from Africa. Every time Sweet Maria’s sends out their newsletter with the list of new beans, I’m tempted, but I have to get through what I have.

Buy some.

If you’re in Tampa 8oz coffee + dozen eggs $10. Everyone else $8 plus shipping. Venmo (@Paige-Cargioli) or Facebook is great for orders and/or payment. First come first serve. 

Three Weeks to Confirmation

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

April 6

Three weeks to confirmation. I started thinking about how this whole being Catholic thing is going to go down. I have no idea. For me, even though I wasn’t raised Catholic, it feels like the whole “come home Catholic” thing. But it’s not like I’m coming home Catholic for me, but for all those who hated and were violent and divisive Christians before me. Having an Italian heritage means that half of me is very Catholic/Christian, probably since Paul in Rome. Or likely, being that I have red hair, my Italian side probably goes back to some barbaric pagans… Anyway, the other half of me is not at all Catholic, generationally, anti-Catholic. I know on both sides no one was perfect, and all sides probably did something wrong. But all sides did good too. I’m here, aren’t I?

I realize how flawed this thinking is. I’m not perfect either.

Like something far back inside of me is being healed somehow for someone(s), and the Saints are rejoicing. I’m not simply reconciling for myself, but for many many others in my line who couldn’t. And that’s ok, because eventually, it will be healed, and I have to hope that to be true, and try to embody that as best I can.

Catholic Confirmation: Get it over with

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

March 29

Lately, I’ve been of the attitude of just “getting it over with” when it comes to becoming Catholic. I can’t decide if this good, or bad, or normal, or abnormal. I mean, all the depth is still there. I’m not a totally jaded Catholic yet. I’m just the normal Christian. Whatever that means. Along with my feelings of wanting to just get it over with, I am excited. I do feel a little afraid. I do believe I’m doing the right thing, even though I don’t sound like I am. I know that this is good.

I talk about it sometimes like I’m annoyed I have to do it. This is probably more human experience, as opposed to a parental brain-washing encouraging you to do or not do something you will never fully understand. “Welcome to the One Holy and Apostolic Church.” Like with anything you love, or you have to work for, that intense directed hard-working passion—it get’s old, annoying, and repetitive quite often. But you still love it. You still want it. You’re not always totally sure why you do what you do, whatever that thing is, that makes you move and keep moving, but you always know that it is good.

It’s not always perfect. You don’t always feel perfect. But you know. If you make a mistake, it’s not going to be the end of the world. It’s learning and growing.

I feel like there are so many wrong things with some of the above statements. Like, it’s just another way of saying, “Follow your heart.” But just remember, your heart is not perfect. And no, you also can’t perfectly know the heart of God, and have your hearts perfectly melded in the same direction (because you’re human surrounded by humans). However, that is what the kingdom is—working for that melding of our direction and God’s direction… until the work is done… mistakes and all.

I am in a super transition state. In addition to literally moving to another state, I’m getting confirmed, getting married, getting a new job, and planning to walk across Spain all summer. That’s not even including my hobbies of preaching and podcasting and social media and writing and counseling…

I remember that I wrote, not too long ago, that I really didn’t want to do anything that I didn’t want to do anymore. What do I want to do? I want to help people. I want to learn more tech and promotion skills. I want to have time to write, vacation, and be with family.

One of my co-workers was complaining about life, and he said something along the lines of, “You’re life is figured out!”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“You’re getting married, moving to Florida. You’ll pop out a couple kids. And you’ll stay at home and have some sort of popular blog about making your own baby food or something!”

“You think so….”

It was kind of weird. I thought it was mostly weird in that he seemed convinced and maybe even jealous. Personally, I think all those things sound great. But I can’t count on that. I keep writing. I do my thing. But I’m not consistent. I have a million other things in my mind taking me away from what I’d like to focus on. It’s the battle of feelings between “I have to do this” and “I want to do this.”

Even writing this right now, I’m procrastinating. What will this amount to? Probably nothing. But I want to do it. My being depends on it.

All Tables Are Open to You

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

March 26

I preached again last week. I wrote about twice as much as I actually preached. Steve was there, and he was very encouraging. It was fun, again.

It is also really tough. I get harder on myself every time, and everyone says I get better every time. I don’t know. There are always so many holes in preaching. You can’t talk about every detail, and you can’t go too deep. Is preaching even really necessary? It’s like the equivalent of the elevator speech. Which sounds awful. One because, it’s selling something, and two because it could easily be embellished and shallow.

That’s been my struggle. I don’t want to embellish or be shallow. I don’t want to sell something. I want to try and teach something. I want to try and encourage/challenge. I want a positive introduction to what Christianity should be, what the kingdom should be, where the means are the ends.

The more I think about it, the whole homily part of church seems out of date. Originally, to teach and catechize people, that wasn’t in a worship service space at all. Ha. I sound so Catholic. All that teaching and talking is outside of worship. But this learning is also worship.

I think about my pentecostal leanings, and their preaching style is like worship. It’s like this idea of God literally speaking through whoever is preaching. Like the preachers word is the Bible. The pentecostals preach like they are speaking for God, like they are God, and they say things that they think God might stereotypically say, “I love you. But obey. Are you really obeying? Repent! Believe! You’re terrible, I love you again!” Yada Yada. Now that I look back, that’s a weird God stereotype, voice and message…

A lot of preaching is exegesis— Without using too many outside resources, what is the message here and now? There is some room for teaching historical context and criticisms, but the pulpit is not the best place to do that. Exegesis is tough. Thankfully, with the lectionary, you can pick a little bit and go for it. But five exegetical pages can easily be written on about three to five verses in the Bible. That’s why whenever someone is preaching on a large chunk or going back and forth in the Bible, I find it exhausting.

That was my challenge last week. I took a lot of material, and I could have preached on anything I wanted. The texts were ridiculously rich, and my sermon could be boiled down to Jesus’ treatment of the woman at the well and on how that’s like Paul’s reconciliation in Romans. I hardly touched on anything.

As I read my sermon, over and over, I felt like I was repeating myself: Reconcile this, reconcile that. I wanted to talk about everything. And I ended up getting some good points out, muddled with some lesser points… I still don’t know how I feel about the sermon.

The Saturday before I preached, my Presbyterian-ish friend was like, “So you’re becoming Catholic.”

“Yeah. Well, I’m getting confirmed. Like I wasn’t Catholic before…”

“Oh, well, yeah that’s true.”

“It’s ok. That’s how we say it. I’m also preaching tomorrow.”

Awkward wide-eyed pause, “How does that work?”

“Sometimes I preach at another church.”

More friends arrive breaking conversation. End scene.

Another presbyterian friend of mine said, “Yeah, it’s pretty cool. Once you do it, pretty much all tables are open to you.” He get’s it. That’s what I’m aiming for.

So, I preached on Sunday, and it was good and fun, and everyone was saying how they’re going to miss me when I move to Florida. Steve had an amazing suggestion: Women in Preaching Podcast. That’s right: WIP.

I think I’m going to do it. I started making a list of as many woman as I could think of who do preach, or have preached, or might be interested in preaching. I’ve come up with 30 people I know. Twenty more and I’ve got the year covered with sermons.

It’s a really good idea. Normal-ish average religious people haven’t busted into the podcast scene yet. The cool preachers are all busy writing books and running churches, so I figured, why not create a kind of online church.

June 13, 2016

 This is the first inception of the WIPodcast. I had the podcast for about a year (2014-2015) and then couldn’t sustain it any longer. It cost money, and took time and skills, and I had bigger fish to fry. I had to work.

It was a lot of fun doing the podcast, and I loved talking with people, hearing their stories, and putting it altogether. I’ve considered doing it again, but the time and money aren’t jiving with me right now. As I see it, there is still a huge need for more women’s voices in (well, everywhere) the Religious Podcast Media world. It’s wide open. No one is there except bunches of white dudes who do Crossfit and/or have beards.

It’s crazy to me that there is still a need even over a year since I put WIP to rest.

Sermon 3: The Woman at the Well

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

March 23, 2014 Preach it.

SERMON 3

As I’m sure, many of you are aware, the story of the woman at the well invites all kinds of cultural judgment for the time.

From the get go: passing through Samaria could be judged because Jews don’t do that. Another scandal is that the scene takes place at Jacob’s Well which connotes a provocative tone—this is where Jacob met his wife, and I imagine was kind of like the Samaritan version of the Harding “three swings and a ring.” Did you meet that girl down by the well?

Then there’s the fact that Jewish Male Jesus is talking to a Samaritan Female. Double counts of taboo! The gospel of John invites our scoffing. Jesus is doing this all wrong, and the woman doesn’t deserve any second of attention in the story or in the gospel. But here is is.

Being a Christian, I have a tendency to judge. I started making a list of people that I had in the past thought less of or as utterly wrong… Like

Catholics. Pentecostals. Those speaking in tongues people. LGBT people. Fornicators. Clappers. People who eat in the building. Women praying out loud. People who don’t dress up at church. Atheists. Spiritual not religious people. Jews. Mormons. Muslims. People who swear.

I’ve changed though, I’ve gotten over many of those judgments, now I judge: Uneducated. Ignorant. Poor. Lazy. Unforgiving. Jobless. People who hate LGBT. People who hate women. Abusers. Sowers of dissension. Anyone who is stuck and can’t change. Protesters telling you you’re going to hell. Street preachers. People who don’t know everything I know. People who don’t give enough. People who are educated, and still don’t agree with me! People who got the job that don’t deserve the job. Internet trolls. People who own iPads and don’t know how to use them.

Somehow my second list seems more judgy than my first list…

I have also been, at one point or another, judgy of Paul on the same counts. If you talk about Paul to any liberated woman or any person who doesn’t buy into heteronormativity, you may catch an eye-roll, or some sort of motion of disdain. I am guilty, and still guilty sometimes.

Paul is often thought of as moody, inconsistent, bossy, and a woman hater. He talks to us about things that I don’t want to talk about. Lot of rules come to mind. Or whatever guilt I might harbor in the cobwebs of my soul.

His writings are rarely him telling a story, and if they are, it’s some sort of seemingly narcissistic heroism by himself. In his writings he praises some. He rebukes others. He writes dogma and doctrine. He makes one statement and immediately contradicts it. He deserves to be judged… by me.

And then there’s this whole thing other thing that he talks about: Reconciliation.

Imagine trying to culturally combine the groups and individuals that I mentioned on both my lists above, and then get them to love each other, and genuinely work together. There you have it, Paul’s challenges to the Roman church merging Gentile, Jews, and whoever else. Now back to the woman at the well.

The gospel of John has set a scene for scandal. The rules are all being broken. If you look closely at the reading, and were listening to this story in it’s cultural context, you’d be able to see how gender, culture, religious, and political boundaries were being dismantled.

Jews were passing through Samaria when they don’t usually do that, Jesus is talking to a woman at a hot pick up spot… And as the conversation goes the woman has a tendency to evade his questions and only assumes fleshly needs and desires as Jesus converses with her.

Jesus asks for water and the woman asks him why he’s talking to her…

4:7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”

4:9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)

Samaritans and Jews aren’t even supposed to share buckets in common!

You know, Jesus was probably actually thirsty. He asked her for a drink, and then tells her he has all the water he needs. It’s like they’re speaking two different languages. Jesus just wants a drink, and she seems to want to argue. Even so, Jesus clarifies by saying that he has living water and the woman says, “You don’t even have a bucket,” still assuming that the water is literal water.

Jesus tries to explain that that’s not what he’s talking about and eventually asks her to go get her husband. And she evades by saying that she has none, at which point, Jesus calls her out on her having five husbands.

Jesus knew her, in all her dark parts of herself, and still spoke with her. By giving culture and customs no power, by refusing to argue, he broke down this cultural barrier between male and female, as well as the barriers between the Jews and Samaritans. He asked her for water/for help. He shared with her in his own weakness, along with connecting to her own hurt. He shared with her his humanity being famished and his divinity acknowledging her hurt.

The story of the woman at the well is an invitation to love, to care for, and to know one another deeply, far beyond our differences. There are some implicit themes of God’s reconciliation in this story, and if you notice, there are some powerful key words in Paul: justice, peace, grace, hope, love, and reconciliation. Paul is particularly concerned with breaking down barriers between the Jews and Gentiles. He wants them to see that not one of them is more or less sinner or saved. But it’s tough to discuss reconciliation without also having a conversation about forgiveness.

Forgiveness and reconciliation tend to be buzzwords in conversations on violence, and political and religious unrest in post-conflict regions. From a political and psychological perspective no one is totally clear or agrees on what reconciliation is, if it’s truly possible, or how to do it correctly.

Forgiveness and reconciliation aren’t mutually exclusive, but there are some agreed upon differences. Reconciliation is almost always between multiple parties, forgiveness on the other hand, can be done within yourself (without a literal meeting or conversation). Those involved in reconciliation have to be available, conscious, and willing. It involves literal meeting, conversation, and effort for all parties involved. Reconciliation may be working towards forgiveness, but is mostly conflict resolution ending in tolerance at minimum, and restored relationship with forgiveness at best.

These current definitions of reconciliation don’t really match God’s reconciliation that happens in Romans with Paul. Because this restoring of relationship with God happens without our full awareness or any response whatsoever. It reads, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us… while we were still enemies, we were reconciled to God.” It seems more like forgiveness.

In the story of the woman at the well, Jesus approaches and engages her in a way that assumes there are no cultural barriers, almost as if they already have a deep relationship, with or without her awareness.

Psychologists who study forgiveness usually define it as “letting go of negative feelings.” But many times they’ll also include that forgiveness allows for positive feelings toward the transgressor. So you let go of negative feelings and you give positive ones. When we allow for God’s forgiveness in ourselves and with others, there may be some transformation at work in the other person without our own full awareness.

I don’t know if any of you have ever had this happen in your life where forgiveness becomes necessary, and you do it. Full on letting go of negative feelings and letting in of positive ones—such as compassion, empathy, seeing them as human. And soon enough, the other person changes. It doesn’t always happen, and maybe it’s just your perspective that changed, its difficult to know. I want to believe that even without an intentional literal intervention, if I choose to forgive, transformation will occur in me and in you.

That’s what is happening at the well, and while we were enemies, God still loved us, Jesus still gave his life, we were reconciled, and our relationship with God was restored. We have this ability to extend God’s reconciliation to others, and we ought to extend that love to others. Something like love, when it’s at it’s fullest potential (whether it’s in the form of reconciliation or restorative justice, or peace, or forgiveness, etc.), there are no different types. Love just is.

In Rome, Paul is working toward, not just reconciliation, but a mutual love and cooperation between Christians, and between Christians and their culture. God through Jesus and the Spirit is the ultimate mediator of all of this. And Paul teaches that “No human sin is sufficient to separate us from the love of God that saves us.” This makes it easier, for me, to reconcile with Paul in myself.

In God’s reconciliation, in Paul and at the well, God recognizes and affirms “You are a part of me and I am a part of you.”

The Samaritan woman is a story of Jesus acknowledging the dark corners of her life, and still loving her. He takes himself to a place where he could be assumed as one of her many husbands. And she says that Jesus told her everything she ever did. Not that he was the messiah, but that she was known and still a part of kingdom… And all of her, every part of herself.

Lent is a time to think about these parts of ourselves that don’t get along. Or that I think are not acceptable. That are ignored. Or that I don’t want to talk about. With God’s help, it’s a time to raise our awareness in order to help reconcile pieces of ourselves that are also a part of other people. God, through Christ, begins and mediates that reconciliation in me and everywhere else.

God does the real work, with or without my awareness. It’s freeing to know that we’re finite, we can’t do it all, we won’t do it all. But reconciliation is all the more powerful when we name it, when we notice the ignored corners of our own lives, and let God be there and work there. Welcomed or unwelcomed, conscious or unconscious, God will reconcile with us, God will help reconcile us with each other, and God will reconcile the pieces of ourselves that we don’t want to reconcile.

Everytime I judge the way I judged in the beginning of my sermon. Everytime I call someone else wrong, or unworthy, I’m really calling myself that. I judge myself, because I know that if I dig deep enough, I’ll find that I do the exact same thing that that other person or group is doing that I don’t like.

Because I am a part of you, and you are a part of me.

DONE

March Sermon Musement

That’s kind of a strange testimony. It’s kind of like Paul’s reconciliation. Before we even knew what hit us, Christ knew us, and still chose us. Jesus put himself in an equally awkward situation with us, seeing us fully for who we are (even as we try and avoid it), so we can see ourselves. Before we did anything to earn anything, God took care of us. Maybe I’m a Calvinist…I have a protestant parent, and a catholic parent. I am protestant and I am catholic. And so are both of my parents. That was something that needed to be reconciled within themselves.

My church upbringing combined with being the oldest child caused serious struggles not telling people what to do. I have really good advice. I don’t want to make anyone feel weird or guilty or uncomfortable, but at the same time I want them to realize it’s okay. This happened, or you did this, and it was terrible, horrible, and you and the community should deal with it (we all have a responsibility). But there’s also nothing we can do (but acknowledge there is nothing we can do), and God does.

I feel like I’m doing the same thing Paul is doing, and I don’t like it. It’s like he says, “You have to do something. But you can’t do anything.” Everyone has sinned, and you can’t do anything about it. You can’t get out of this. God helps. That’s what Paul is trying to do, he’s trying to get the Jews and the Gentiles to get along and realize, God leveled the playing field, not one deserves salvation.

I imagine it was difficult for Paul, just like it’s difficult for us to understand, obedience, while good, is not the only way.

Sermon 1: Paul

This is what I was thinking about originally but didn’t quite finish.

I’ve noticed that it’s kind of cool, at one point or another, in a theology student’s career to hate Paul. Maybe not everyone goes through it, but I know I did. If you talk about Paul to any liberated woman or any person who doesn’t buy into heteronormativity, you may catch an eye-roll, or some sort of motion of disdain. I am guilty, and still guilty sometimes. Paul talks to us about things that I don’t want to talk about. Black and white rules come to mind. Or whatever guilt I might harbor in the cobwebs of my soul. His writings rarely are story, and if they are, it’s some sort of seemingly narcissistic heroism by Paul. He praises some. He rebukes others. He writes dogma and doctrine. He makes one statement and immediately contradicts it.

Paul is often thought of as moody, inconsistent, bossy, and a woman hater, but if you read Paul through the lens of reconciliation, which is his concept, then the rest of his writing is a bit more palatable. It’s as if he’s figuring it out as he writes it. Paul is trying to understand how to manage his own culture in the creation of a new culture in Christianity. He is aware that he is living in a world where Jesus broke the rules (like in the story of the woman at the well), not to make more rules—not to keep people in bondage, not to control leadership, not to exclude. So, even amidst all the household, church, and cultural rules that appear to be upheld by Paul, he still speaks of this reconciliation.

He’s got a lot on his plate. He has to make sure the churches don’t go too far off the mark (whatever that is), while also allowing for healing grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation in a melding of very different cultures. Paul’s confusing circularity, ought to be a comfort as we attempt to understand reconciliation in our own culture.