i'm back

Apr. 17th, 2009 09:06 am
2eclipse: (Default)
in minnesota again.
with not a whole lot more resolution than when i left. dealing with the family was not as difficult as i feared, my one aunt mostly behaved herself. i got some good time to talk to my folks and my cousin michael, who i haven't seen since i was 12 and with whom i have much in common. also got to chat a lot with my second cousin cynthia who is vagely nuts, but in a completely delightful sort of way. and she's an anthropologist, so of course she's interesting.

the service itself was questionable. i had theological reservations about the pastor, who made a few good points and tried very hard, but clearly had not kept up with the latest in exciting methodist theology. the siblings had squabbled over how they were going to put together what they were going to say and who was going to say what, but it seemed to work out alright. my cousin skyler spoke with great poise and dignity about his love for our grandpa.

i also got to meet the resident crazy in our family - a "christian" preacher so fundamentatlist that the fundamentalists hate him who runs a sort of cult of personality and has gained notariety for his willingness to stand behind ideas which he has no ability to back up scripturally(to say nothing of rationally). for those of you who really want to be scared by his ridiculousness, abandon all hope ye who enter here.
i actually spoke to him. i couldn't resist. for me, fundamentalist baiting is a bit like bear-baiting. and i BEHAVED myself! didn't bring up gay rights or abortion or feminism or any of the things for which i am surely going to hell. he offensively told me about the book he gave to my father (who is pretty scornful of it) and that my father could EXPLAIN it to me (and by the way that's some GALL to be passing crap like that out at my grandpa's funeral)!!!! at which point i told him i had MY OWN seminary degree. after which i was peppered with all manner of questions regarding my faith - which apparently i passed with flying colors. he actually APPROVED of me!! it was very amusing to me but also doubt that i am any kind of good xian if i could get along with him in a room for 5 minutes. in my ideal universe my mom and i are God's answer to people like him and beat them down with dildos when they try to beat people with faith instead of letting them make their own choices and find God gracefully in their own way.

today i am tired.
and i managed to stretch my back in a way that made a crunching sound this morning and which now sends shooting pain along my spine, temporariliy disabling my ability to breath every time i move my head or arms the "wrong way. suck.
i'm very glad it's friday. i was going to go to a cabaret with susan tonight, but i think i will cancel in light of back pain.
2eclipse: (Default)
i went to the st. paul cathedral for service this morning.
it was very reverent and the quality of everything done was impeccable.
that said, i would expect more emphasis on the resurrection instead of the crucifixion on EASTER of all days, even in a catholic church.
still glad i went.
2eclipse: (Default)
every year for lent i give up meat. every other year i give up alcohol as well.
i do this in part for health reasons - even though i am free range only when it comes to meat, i feel clensed by the practice of annually reducing my meat intake by so much.
i do this in part for ecology reasons - it is more sustainable to eat less meat.
i do this in part because the process of choosing food for each meal without eating something keeps me mindful and disciplined. i become mindful of the choice, and how all my choices echo out into the world. i am mindful of God and the nature of sacrifice and the nature of relationships and how they require maintenance and work, and how i want to fight my tendency to forget God and others and become wrapped up in my day-to-day life. i feel clensed in my body - purged of toxicity. i remember that i want to stay aware of my life and not let it pass me by unnoticed, with choices made thoughtlessly.
when lent is over it feels a real celebration of life. a celebration of the bounty God has given his children on this planet. a celebration of relationships and the work they involve, but also the payoff that for once is greater than the work put in. the law of conservation of energy/mass is true everywhere except in love. it is the one thing that can produce more than is put into it.

now you might ask why don't i live this way all the time if it makes me feel so clean?
in truth it is because i believe the novelty and purposefulness of it is why it works. if i lived this way all the time, it wouldn't mean as much to me during lent. but there is another reason as well. my friends jerad and rachel reminded me yesterday that every sunday during lent is a "little easter"; a feast day when we are not required to fast or adhere to whatever resolution we have made. this is something i knew, it is part of the teachings of john wesley and many other theolgians. what i didn't know is that it goes further than permission to eat whatever i want on sunday. it is considered blasphemous to CONTINUE to fast on sunday; to refuse to take part of the bounty God has provided. to acknowledge the gifts God has given his children.
now surely this doesn't mean all vegetarians should eat meat on sunday, nor is it liscense to do things that are destructive. this is not about the specific thing anyone does for lent. this is about giving oneself permission to take part in the joy of life and acknowledging the good creation all around us. it is about rest and it is about accepting that God's love for us continues through the lean times. with the discipline of relationship there is reward and love. in every night there is the promise of dawn. there must be balance even in discipline. so many people see lent as austere and morbid, but truly it is a celebration of our potential for change. God has made us capable of fixing the things in our lives we want to make better, and given us a season to remind us to pay attention.
2eclipse: (Default)
HAPPY CARNEVAL EVERYONE!

it's shrove tuesday! the day on which we must do many things for which to be shriven!
i love the coming of lent and look forward to it every year.
it feels cleansing to me to give up meat and booze and focus on my spiritual life.
i also love shrove tuesday.
my favorite one so far was one i celebrated with[livejournal.com profile] jtheta and [livejournal.com profile] durlindana over at eli wiggin's apartment in annapolis.
there was much booze and lentil salad. it was very good.
2eclipse: (Default)
my dad - who is an 80 year old minister who grew up in the bible belt during the depression - said something to me when i was in college. he said. "i don't believe it can be wrong to be gay because i don't believe a loving God would put a bunch of people on this earth and condemn them to be lonely."

i don't think that's necessarily true. i think God does put people on this earth in circumstances which prevent them from ever having a satisfying romantic relationship(some forms of retardation or other disability for example, can, but do not necessarily prevent romance, and some conditions kill before ever allowing someone to hit puberty) - and some people like catholic monks are called to a life of celebacy (usually including free from romance).
but something about what my dad said struck a cord of truth for me. i do believe in a LOVING God, not a persecuting God. i don't think it is okay for humans to persecute one another and i do think that's what the mormon church did with their money. hiring someone to do it instead of doing it yourself doesn't make it christian.
and it is also an issue of skewed priorities. even if homosexuality is wrong (i remain unconvinced), there is very little in the bible against it. where as there is a LOT about hate, and poverty and kindness to one another. why aren't we spending our money on that? i am pretty much appalled by what the LDS church did.
2eclipse: (brainy chic)
yesterday i cut out of work early and drove out to lake minnetonka to meet ross and crew. lots of people i haven't seen in a while there, though notably missing were heidi (scott's wife), brandon and [livejournal.com profile] planetjake. they were missed.
i normally have trouble swimming in minnesota lakes. they are just too cold for me. yesterday it was 90 degrees out and it just felt fabulous to be in the water. unfortunately the lake-weed thought so too and so did the little fishes that kept nibbling on me and tickling my feet. still it was great to have an afternoon at the lake.
ross and i had mary mitchel over for dinner and chilling afterward. she is truly a delightful and fascinating lady. i'm glad i had the chance to meet her. she had a lot to say about faith and starting her own non-profit and working in new york. i wish i could introduce her to [livejournal.com profile] vale797. i think they would be fast friends. she is the only person i've ever met who's life is as weird and random as his.

i have been thinking a lot about survivalism recently; talking about it with [livejournal.com profile] sunmother and finding a whole group of like-minded paranoids over on ravelry, appropriately called the chicken littles. does anyone else here have apocalyptic nightmares?
productive paranoia? - be warned this is very rambly )
2eclipse: (eclipse)
yesterday i was listening to an interview on the craftlit podcast with heather ordover. she was talking to the two guys who wrote plato and a platypus walk into a bar, a book about philosophy in humor....and these guys are not only into philosophy, they are into theology as well. could we say this is up my alley? why yes, indeed we could.
anyway, they got into a discussion about faith vs. belief and how heather runs into people who say jews don't believe in jesus....which is a flat out ridiculous statement. jews certainly believe there was a man named jesus who lived about 2000 years ago. the romans have records of crucifying him. jews don't believe jesus was the son of God. this is an entirely different statement. which just goes to show that christians are as guilty of not saying what they mean as everyone else.
however, they went on in the interview to talk about whether there is a difference between faith and belief. and this is what was interesting to me, because there is this lovely and brilliant british theologian named e.p. sanders who talks about this exact issue.
english comes from two languages - anglo-saxon and normon french. in many cases this adds great richness to our language due to having many words for the same thing. we have words like pork and beef in addition to swine and cattle. the germans use the same words for both the animal and the food form. as sanders points out, calling our food swine-flesh, as they do, would strike english speakers as gross.
however, there are places in english where one form of speech has simply driven the other out. the case of faith and belief is one of them. we have no verb form of faith. "to believe" has taken its place. we can say "to have faith". but this is passive voice and misses out on the strength of what it means to BELIEVE in something. but in truth, "to believe" has the connotation of opinion, and faith does not. faith is more like the knowledge that comes from the heart, rather than the head. we have faith that our loved ones love us...and it isn't just from their actions, there is faith involved. we have faith in the direction of our govenrment (or maybe not just now). we have faith that people can change...these are not mere issues of opinion. certainly they are issues of opinion, but they are not MERE issues of opinion. there is something else behind what we feel when we care passionately about something we cannot prove. when we see something in a person, but we cannot say what it is. it is knowledge of the heart, not of the head. it is faith.
2eclipse: (Default)
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

this is a passage i would love to see christians remember. christians on the right and christians on the left.
God stands at the door and knocks.
He does not force.
He offers us the gift of his love and companionship.
He waits for our hard hearts to turn toward Him.
He blesses us in our struggling with understanding Him.
and He waits.

for those of us on the right, how can we say to someone, "you are not my brother." how can the eye say to the hand, "i don't need you." how can we refuse to be in conversation with those who are our brothers and sisters in christ - even when they take bible stories metaphorically instead of literally, even when they take members of the same sex for their partners, even when they teach their children gnosticism and universalism and unitarianism and refuse to be orthodox, when they worship their own independence instead of God, even when they seem to make choices with no sound reasoning....
for those of us on the left, how can we say to someone,"you are not my brother." how can the eye say to the hand, "i don't need you." how can we refuse to be in conversation with those who are our brothers and sisters in christ - even when they take bible stories literally and try to shove them down our throats, even when they wound we who love those of the same sex, even when they teach their children materialism and nationalism and idolotry of every kind that does not hurt their pocketbook, when they worship their own independence instead of God, even when they seem to make choices with no thought to their heartlessness.
God did not do so when He was with us and He does not do so now. He stands at the door and knocks, and waits for you and i to open the door.

x-posted to [livejournal.com profile] christianleft and [livejournal.com profile] christian_geek
2eclipse: (spring)
so i had my sleep study on friday.
i was nervous. i got to see ross for about a hour before i left because he had to work late. he is feeling sick and i am concerned for him.

the sleep study was...more annoying than anything else. )
they wake you early for these things and that's annoying. you run through the tests again before they unhook you. then i went home, showered, watched some movies with ross and napped. the shower failed to remove the gak from my hair so i was messing with it and combing it out most of the day. my head still itches a lot. it was a good day with ross, but we were both tired. we were supposed to go to a party at [livejournal.com profile] oneonajourney's...and i was really sorry to miss it, but ross was feeling ill and has serious tech craziness for the rest of the week.
love and friendship )
yesterday it rained all day. i decided it was a perfect day to spend at the library. i left while ross was still sleeping and headed over. it was exactly the right thing for me to do. i picked up a biography of abigail adams, a biography of johannes kepler (and his mother who was apparently tried as a witch!), the first sharing knife book by louis mcmaster bujold, the sequal to a chris wooding book i read last winter, and changing plains by ursula leguin. not a bad haul.
i had hoped to have susan over for dinner, but she didn't return my phone calls. so i made tortellini and a wine sauce with fresh garlic, roasted red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes. i chatted with my parents about all kinds of theology. it was lovely.
i found a UNITED METHODIST MONASTARY about an hour from where i live, up near [livejournal.com profile] eltanin in st. joseph minnesota. i didn't know there was such a thing. i am very keen to go visit and drag my folks up there the next time they are here. they have a program for oblates. i wonder how impractical it would be for me to become an oblate to a place an hour away... also i found out about a new theologian i want to explore, sister joan chittester, a benedictine nun in erie, pa who practices disobediance as obediance and advocates for catholic conversation about ordination of women. very enticing. i meant to look for one of her books at the library, but i forgot.
today i have my phone interview with progressivefuture. wish me luck.

friday it was 60 out. my daffodils are beginning to come up.
saturday it was in the high 50's.
sunday it rained all day.
today it is snowing.
more snow/rain predicted for the rest of the week. sigh....go figure.
2eclipse: (Default)
i have been thinking recently about the nature of my pacifism.
i believe that a government that subscribes to pacifism wouldn't be a government very long...but i feel the damage people do to themselves by acting violently as real as my own heartbeat. i look around at the way we treat others and i think people are killing their souls. it hurts me in a very deep way that we do not publicly acknowledge the truth of the damage we do to ourselves when we hurt others. everyone thinks, "sucks to be the guy who was hurt," but no one talks about the evil and the suffering present with the perpetrator. i don't say this because i want us to make excuses for people who commit evil, but because i want us to think about our own actions and the damage we do to ourselves with our lack of perspective.
i am pacifist in large part because i am deeply afraid of that kind of damage. i believe in its power. i believe that God made us for community with one another and that when we harm each other, we go against our very purpose in a way that kills a part of us.
i like bonhoeffer's theology because it seems to me that he understands this. i also like bonhoeffer's theology because it challenges me to push past my own fear and stay in conversation with God instead. i am challenged by his act to acknowledge that there are things worse than the soul death of one person. i may not be able to think of an occassion where i might justify acting violently, but bonhoeffer forces me to acknowledge that if i live my life in flat accordance with principle, then i am living my life by principle and fear of doing wrong, and not necessarily by the will of God.
i don't think there has ever been a just war. not even world war II. but i do think bonhoeffer's assassination attempt on hitler may have been one of the only just uses of violence in the history of mankind. i plan to continue to adhere to pacifism as a moral stance because i like the perspective it gives me and i think i need the discipline. the struggle is going to be staying in tension about it....because i am beginning to see how faith, if it is going to stay a relationship; if it is going to stay true to the goal of understanding God and being faithful to God, has to go two ways. obedience to a principle is one-way only. relationship is about staying active and keeping the conversation alive.

There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture, and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to mistrust, and this mistrust in turn brings forth war. To look for guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God's commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross. - Deitrich Bonhoeffer
what do you think?
x-posted to [livejournal.com profile] christiangeekand [livejournal.com profile] christianleft
2eclipse: (brunette)
so [profile] lonewolfnight and i watched saving private ryan last night. he'd seen it before, but it was a first for me.
and i know that i'm late in the game. and that this movie is 5 years old now. i have not bothered to cut for spoilers for that reason. let me know if you need me to adjust that.
and i know everyone was talking about how great it was when it came out and that ya'll have probably done all your big thinking about it.
but i am thinking about it today. in part because i am bored at work and at part because it was really good. i liked it WAY better than thin red line (which i also saw for the first time recently).
my grandfather said it was the most realistic war movie he'd ever seen.....and that statement was with me in a hardcore way at the beginning of the film when everyone was getting blown to bits. decimation is the term we use for losing a 10th of a population and we think that is a huge deal. it is a huge deal. but this looked more like keeping a 10th of the population and losing everyone else. why don't we have a word for that? it makes me want to ask my grandpa if that is what he meant by his statement. if he lost 90% of his company in france.
the main thing i really liked about this movie was not that the acting was great (and it was), and it isn't that it did a great job provoking questions about mercy in times of war (and it did), and it isn't even how well it points out how badly an idiot can mess things up by making decisions based on sentimentality or election strategy (and it does) it isn't even the profound and wonderful recognition of how people are damaged by the killing they do and not just the injuries inflicted on them (which about made me fall over with gratitude for the writer and director).
the main thing i like was that it wasn't just about private ryan. private ryan was a metaphor for every man, woman and child. this movie raises the question of how can anything be worth such sacrifice - and keeps poking at it all the way through. because those silly, sentimental relationships is what people fight wars for in the first place, or at least the ability to have them on their own terms. and when ryan says, "why me, why not any one of these guys here".....i kept thinking, yeah, why any of us. why is ANYTHING worth that. 
i'm a pascifist. so of course i am going to push that issue as hard as it can go in my brain...but it isn't often that i find a piece of pop culture that goes in that direction all by itself. especially in the context of the questionable mercy issue. i like it that i don't know what the right answer is. i like it that i know i would have let the german go in that place, but also that i don't know whether or not that decision would have been right. the Bible says, "be wise as serpents and gentle as doves." how do you be wise when faced with a situation like that?
maybe that's why i cling to a pacifistic principle. so i won't have to face that kind of question and take the risk of being wrong. i know that my reasons for hating violence are pure and that if i avoid it at all costs, the blame for violence goes on the other guy and not on me. if i allowed room for even a little bit, i don't think i would be confident i could draw the line in the right places. that feels like God's job and not mine, to draw that line.
2eclipse: (Default)
i thought this was really neat.

the paper is done at a full 10 pages. i got 3 hours of sleep, but it is done. i am still hoping they let us off work early today so that i can go over it for editing before i have to e-mail it in, but at least it is written.
i am worried that i don't talk enough about the stuff we studied in class.
but here's my problem.
they want a personal narrative.
they want me to answer 4 questions: what is God up to? what is my role as a missional church leader? how have my experiences with jesus prepared me for that role? and what is the role of the church in missio dei?
AND they want me to cite class readings and notes as much as possible.

my answers to these questions have very little to do with the texts we read. i can say how i'm going to use the skills and concepts we studied in class - but not in the context of a church, because unlike just about everyone there, i'm going to be working outside the church. and while i might end up in a lay leadership position, i am currently what the class would call an "inside stranger" in my congregation, which essentially means i attend, but i have no power to enact change. i am not one of the people actually running things who gets consulted on what happens. i could do an analysis of my childhood church from the perspective of the texts...but that isn't what they asked for and doesn't answer the questions they asked.
so i did what i could in terms of tying my story into class texts. i'm just worried that it isn't enough.
2eclipse: (Default)
someone on the [livejournal.com profile] christianleft community asked about finding joy in christ. i thought this was an interesting question so i am posting my response here.



did you know that john wesley accused himself of insufficient joy to be a good christian?

for me a lot of the joy i experience is about understanding and radical love. and i like my understanding complicated so i went to seminary to get it and finished an emphasis in systematic theology. i didn't used to understand the significance of Christ in christianity and so now i like to remind myself frequently of the many ways that Christ is God in solidarity with the least and lost and that means hope even for me. i know that i am not worth such a sacrifice...and i am reminded that love is not about what people are worth. it is an irrational thing. i am overpowered by the idea that God could love me that much. that He could love my screwed up friends as much as i love them. that there is hope for all of us because of what happened on the cross. and when i read moltman or wesley or even some of my class notes i tear up with overwhelmed feeling that something so miraculous could happen and that God loves us enough to make it happen. a really good sermon will do this to me too, but less reliably. as i read more and spend more time meditating on the mystery of our salvation, the joy of Christ comes to me more easily. instead of being confronted by joy only when i am reading or having theology crammed into my brain, i experience that joy when i correct my thoughts down a more christian path or when i give granola bars to homeless people or when i help a friend through a hard time. i suspect that this could get to be like a runner's high and that truely good christians are really joy addicts.
2eclipse: (eclipse)
yesterday I listened to speaking of faith on NPR. Krista was interviewing Barbara Kingslover (author of the poisonwood bible) about the ethics of eating. Barbara and her family moved to southern Virginia (god help her) and made a project of eating for a year only those things they could grow/raise themselves. It seems the family has written a book about the experience, called animal, vegetable, miracle.
In the interview, kingslover talked about how we in this country have forgotten to ask questions about where our food comes from and what it takes to get it to us. She brings up hurricane Katrina and addresses the fact that it isn’t simply the government’s responsibility to provide infrastructure….but that the tragedy was also a result of the vulnerability caused when an area cannot support itself on what it grows. She asks the question “how long can we live like this and expect to not pay a price” in light of how much of the world’s resources we are using. Some people give up meat in order to eat more sustainably. She gave up bananas, citing the use of fossil fuels to provide them(for transport and refrigeration). She did some thinking about it and decided it wasn’t cruelty free in light of the resources being used.
I find myself convicted by the points she brought up. I love sushi! How much of my food comes from china or japan? How much of my food comes from California instead of being grown locally? It used to be that almost all the food a community consumed was grown locally and organically. Now it has become a “special” thing to eat that way. We import exotics from overseas while the farmers around us are struggling! How many fossil fuels are burn to bring me the food I eat? I am very interested in reading this book….and in talking with ross about what we can do to change our eating habits. I agree with her that we have a responsibility to think about the overall economic and ecological impact of our habits, not only locally, but globally.
I am also torn up about it…..because some people have allergies and some people have such strong dislikes of certain foods that they need more specialized foods. If everyone started being more conscious about what they ate to the point where there was no market for imported foods, the prices on those items would go up proportionally. Is it really such a smart thing to shift the market in this way?
2eclipse: (everybody)
there is a really fascinating discussion going on over at the<lj comm="christianleft"> community http://community.livejournal.com/christianleft/
i am really enjoying the things being said about how we prioritize and understand faith.
2eclipse: (rachel - sleep)
just got off the phone with my adviser. she has finished reading the paper and was immensely supportive. she thinks this will be a strong paper
she also thinks i need to rewrite my introduction (in the form of adding to it) and state from the beginning my theological foundation in the imago dei. she says i've done a good job with the "what" and "how", now i need to work on my "why".
i also need to narrow my focus at the end of the paper. i have said what specific actions need to be changed and how, but i haven't said what the theological implications of those actions are.
the good news is that the bulk of the paper is in good shape - i just need to fix the beginning and the end.

she is a sharp lady. the second of those two things will be easy to fix. the first one....writing introductions is always difficult for me. creatio ex nihilo n' all that. in this case though, i'm not starting from nothing. that should make it somewhat easier.

[livejournal.com profile] sunmother sent me some great revisions along with a section of questions that bothers me because i ask them too - but which i think belong in a separate paper. i have started incorporating her suggestions into the paper and most of them are vast improvements. i hope to get my friend corrin's editing back this week and send something close to final to dr. mitchell this weekend.
2eclipse: (rachel - sleep)
still not done.
today was a productive day though. about six pages done.
i am at 40 pages and 11,386 words. that's right folks, i'm actually going to have a paper that is over the minimum required limit!
i'm actually a bit disturbed by how much i still have to cover. i am just about done explaining how freedom impacts our understanding of poverty (pretty central to the argument). i stil have a very big objection to handle(theodicy), the benefits of seeing the imago dei in one another, and probably some other things i'm forgetting before i can write my conclusion.
sigh.....
tired...

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