Friday, December 29, 2006
Sitting in a convention hall with 20,000 college students is a sight to be had. I am in
I hate competing for a good thing. So, I am here to recruit people for DOOR programs – I love DOOR, I want everyone to love DOOR. However, there are 1500 exhibitors that love their programs. What is the best way to say – I love DOOR – but please I will be ok if you go somewhere else?
No matter what holiday – Christmas, Easter, birthdays or even sometimes major deadlines – the summer busy season officially over, a major project over, a sermon finished and preached – I sort of want to ask the question – now what? After I have spent major time and energy planning or enjoying or doing – I feel sort of let down until the next big thing happens.
So, its December 26, I spent Advent to prepare spiritually, used the internet to prepare the gifts, took 12 hours to drive to Ohio and back, and now did I really get anything out of Christmas? Is it a let down?
As a former pastor and now an active member of Church, I could tell you the “right” answer – yes, Christ was born in my heart again. I am not sure that would be the true answer this year. Instead, I think I learned more about how to think within the Christmas season.
I am awaiting to go to Palestine in January – that has become my focus this advent; and I am still in it….I am preparing for it out of my love and hope in Jesus I am waiting to act on my faith in the upcoming month. I am acting out our advent theme “What are we waiting for?” With the emphasis on the What, as in What the heck are we waiting for?
Sunday, December 24, 2006
(I learned how to make an official link from here - so from now on you should be able to just click on the address I give.)
What is interesting is that I have seen many of the movies that the article mentions as ones that raise controversy because they take the Bible story and imagine a bit. In fact my favorite movies - Dogma, Life of Brian, Saved, Contact are all movies that take the Bible seriously enough to make fun of it. I find these movies not to be against faith but rather trying to live out faith in human ways.
Mentioned in the article are some cleaned up stories from the Bible that have recently been made into movies. Leading this venture is the new FOX Faith network/company. They recently released "One Night with the King" and out currently is "The Nativity Story". I haven't seen the later, but I did see the former. Believe me, I find the stories of the Bible to be amazing feats of storytelling in order to let me understand truth. One Night with the King I think showed both the beautiful and ugly side of the Esther story in a way that I hadn't experienced before.
That said, what I like about the previously mentioned religiously humorous movies is that they use faith as a starting point - they look more like my life - they doubt (Dogma), they think the cheesemakers are blessed instead of the peacemakers (Life of Brian), they judge (Saved), and they struggle with faith in relationship with the other stuff that they can prove to be true (Contact). Faith is important to these movies and to me - I think about faith a little more when I watch these movies - and my hope is that others do too......so bring them on and lets not worry if they are following the correct line of Biblical thought or proper theological doctrine.
In case I don't write tomorrow....May the chaos that surrounded the first Christmas, infect your life in healthy ways this year and next.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Praying for the Peace of Jerusalem
by John Nichols
| Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they that love thee shall prosper. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will say now, peace be within thee. For the sake of the House of the Lord our God I will seek thy good.|
The world's great religions preach peace.
So it is ironic that at the root of so many of the conflicts in the Middle East has been an emotional, at times irrational, determination by the followers of different faiths to control the soil to which they trace the roots of their particular practices of religion.
Nowhere are those conflicts more bluntly in evidence than in Jerusalem, a compact city that is home to structures, traditions and living faith communities that are the touchstones of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. With the approach of the Christmastide that is so linked to the city and the region surrounding it, surely it is appropriate to ponder what it might mean to sincerely seek after the peace of Jerusalem.
We neglect the question at our peril. The struggle among these religions has poured too much blood on the ancient stones of the streets of Jerusalem. And that bloodshed influences the politics not just of Israel and Palestine but of the Middle East and the world. Yet for the most part, contemporary political leaders who profess to be the children of Abraham cannot seem to recognize that they are called, first, to seek peace--not property, ideological reassurance or tactical advantage.
It is troubling that President Bush, who claims a deep Christian faith, is so very unwilling to listen to the former President whose devotion to the teachings of the Nazarene has earned him the Nobel Peace Prize and other honors awarded those who devote their lives to promoting reconciliation and redemption.
Carter's new book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid (Simon & Schuster), is an urgent plea for the United States to play a more useful role in promoting peace in the region. To do so, Carter argues, the United States must stop "squandering international prestige and goodwill and intensifying global anti-American terrorism by unofficially condoning or abetting the Israeli confiscation and colonization of Palestinian territories."
Carter's book has been wrongly characterized, mostly by those who have not read it, as an attack on Israel. In fact, it is a call for the United States to respect the fact that most Israelis and most Palestinians want peace. "As I said in a 1979 speech to the Israeli Knesset, ‘The people support a settlement. Political leaders are the obstacles to peace,'" Carter explains. "Over the years, public opinion surveys have consistently shown that a majority of Israelis favor withdrawing from Palestinian territory in exchange for peace ("swapping land for peace"), and recent polls show that 80 percent of Palestinians still want a two-state peace agreement with Israel."
Carter, who successfully negotiated a lasting peace agreement between Israel and Egypt and who has remained highly engaged with Middle East affairs over the past twenty-five years, is not naïve. He knows that a roadmap to peace requires travel through difficult territory. He has taken his hits for being honest about what must be done. But when he prays for the peace of Jerusalem, he means it.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
The jist is that the more college students become devoted to God; the less likely they are to be okay with challenging typical notions of religion. How interesting....I understand from some experience.
When I went to college, a Christian college, I assumed life would be hunky dory and we would all be Christian students together. Not so. You can ask my roommate how well I adapted to having non-Christians around....I am fearful to say not well.....but I think she still loves me to this day through all the stuff we put each other through those first two years.
Partially because I just like being a student, I loved studying about the Bible and actually most other things except math. I didn't have a huge reaction when learning all the theories of how the Bible got written, or that Paul might not have written all the letters that are attributed to him, or was the Bible metaphor or not.....I liked grappling with those sorts of things. However, I remember in Bible classes and theology classes students who were in every Bible Study on campus would start worrying that our professors were indeed leading us down the wrong path by studying about faith too much.
I obviously love studying about theology, faith and all that is in that category - I have two degrees in it. But even in seminary, I heard the statement "we shouldn't study the Psalms, they should just speak to us." I was put in this world to learn so if I get to learn more about the history of my faith and more about the important words of the Bible - goody!
However, for many people as alluded to in the article...faith is about right and wrong, faith is about God providing answers. So to make people more confused as a professor's goal was (in the article) not about providing a solid foundation for faith to most. Hey, I love rules and love even to follow them - but the more I learn about faith the more I realize it is less about rules and more about love and following the spirit than some rigid rule book in the sky.
I would love to know people's opinions about this and on the article.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
He got me more than a pair of socks. I also got some ipod accessories just in case I get the ipod on my Christmas list was also given to me (if not, it may be just the push I need to buy my own) and a mini massager that he has seen me enjoy at Nadia's. Luckily, he didn't steal it from her - just got me one just like it.
This after I opened them and looked at him like he was out of his mind - you got me socks! What?
I love them - almost as much as crocs and sour patch kids. He just knows I am a practical girl forget the romantic stuff with me, unless is it flours (see previous post about Dreams and Strangeness).
Monday, December 18, 2006
I highly recommend this special for one main reason: It shows that not all Christians are alike. That may seem obvious to some; but since Christians are often thought of as all republican or as all conservative or all any which way. It is nice to see a somewhat well rounded piece on different folks who are focusing on different ways to be Christian.
I am not ashamed to say I am a Christian (at least I try not to be); but I worry about how people think they know exactly how to box me when I say I am. That is why I am all for the idea of getting the message out that there are Christians who are dedicated to following Jesus that don't look like the stereotypical Christians on TV.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
I went a party last night and then to a concert of a friend's at a bar. The lead singer is my friend, and wow is she good!!! She can sing.....wow she can sing. The band's name is matchfactory. They have a website matchfactory.org. They will be a Lily's in January - a little bit of blues, a little bit of rock, and a bit of oldies - they rock. Go Aimee! The cool thing is that I get to sit next to her in church choir most of the time - unless I am singing tenor but that is another post.
Today, my previously mentioned friend family had a day of making peanut balls (which I grew up calling buckeyes, but these are about triple the size of those) and spice packets to give to people. I thank God for them - I know I have said that before on this blog but I do. They are great people.
See, that is almost normal, right? (maybe I need to analyze my need to be normal!)
Saturday, December 16, 2006
I went to "We have a dream" at Ariel Community Academy. A play based on Martin Luther King Jr's life put on by lots of young people directed by their teacher and my friend Eric. It was way cool - but as those that know me well or not so well that topic will always be exciting for me. This was Jim's first entry into my life as a pseudo school teacher. I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else. Well, other than CMLC's Christmas program to support my other friends Nadia and Melissa....I guess i am not so normal after all.
Then, we decided to try to do something really normal...go to the movies. (Now, that IS normal right??!!??) We went to see stranger than fiction. Awesome movie. Really awesome!!!! Not really a romantic comedy, but when Harold brings Anna flours (not flowers) that may go down as the most romantic gesture in a movie ever!!! Speaking as someone who loves to bake, being brought lots of different kinds of flours - rye, barley, soy is so adorable. (But actually probably more expensive than actual flowers.)
Really weird happening: Before the movie, I was asked my age and then given a movie trailer to watch and evaluate because of my age (Jim was too young :) ). So I had to answer questions before viewing about if I had ever heard of certain actors. The first was Tyler Perry!!!! Jim started laughing and I started jumping up and down. I am probably his biggest fan, ever!!! I had actually read about his new movie - Daddy's Little Girls and was answering questions on it by chance at a theatre that probably doesn't have the demographics to even show that movie when it comes out. I was happy to help Tyler out! (By the way, Tyler Perry is the guy that if I ever met him I would be rendered speechless, and then beg to be his wife!)
I have this desire to be normal - but I am sure I don't have it in me....oh well!
Friday, December 15, 2006
I get a scrapbook magazine by accident and while I read it and think how Betsy (my super scrapbooking sister) could improve on the layouts. I was struck by one that had a simple picture and then a whole bunch of journaling of I am statements. I have seen other things like this…Amy had one for grandma at Thanksgiving. Jim has one on his pitiful not kept up blog (kidding, its ok Jim). So after yesterday’s bit of vision I decided to write my own. And of course, it is ever changing and growing list....
I am passionate.
I am a woman and therefore a daughter, sister, mother-like.
I am a baker.
I am scared to fail.
I am a teacher and a learner.
I am a sour patch kid addict.
I am a believer.
I am loyal.
I am real with people, sometimes too real.
I am a hard worker.
I am a pastor.
I am kind.
I am independent.
I am a hugger.
I am trying to be healthy.
I am working to end racism and classism.
I am salmon, portabello mushrooms, and pesto.
I am a hard worker.
I am a friend.
I am one of those people who loves what she does each day.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Socks is my adorable, black and white yet bossy, loud, demanding cat. She has the rule of the roost most of the time since I don’t spend too much time at home. Her favorite places include the cabinets above the oven, my bed when the afternoon sun hits just right, and my laptop when I am trying to type. Which leads me to a point – Socks knows how to tell me she needs attention.
Socks is indeed the loudest cat I know. She meows in high definition. She meows mostly to let me know things like “Hello, pay attention to me.” I can hear her starting from the main door of my building from two stories below where she is. She needs about 5 minutes when I come into the door to just have me hold her or her hold me depending on the day. If I don’t give her that, she is known to do the head butt which has knocked a glass out of my hand or meowing fast and loud or even sitting on whatever I try to do so I can’t do it until I give her some attention – then she goes on about her business usually in another room.
Now, before you judge me and say “oh, another single woman has turned into a cat lady”. I need to mention that I am not the perfect candidate to have or even want a pet. I am not home enough nor desire a cat that badly. However, I will do anything for a friend – and some friends needed me to take a cat. So I did. Nevertheless, I am glad to have Socks at home to beg for attention when she needs it.
Last night at Bible Study I led a game that requires silence and that one gives and receives. This game does not let you ask for what you need, but rather has your team members have to figure it out. We had a wonderful discussion afterwards about this community notion – good and bad. I said at one point – I like this because this means the community is taking care of me, knowing what I am good at and what I am not and giving to me what I need. The group said that we as a whole should get to know people enough to know how to help without talking about – a great idea.
When I got home to a screaming cat who I hadn’t spent enough time with in the last few days I realized that I could become more like her too. I could start alerting people when I needed taken care of or when I needed help. I won’t start meowing, but maybe I could just be honest to say – I have no idea, please help – or – I need a hug.
There are people in my life (hopefully you know who you are) that know me well enough to know what I need most of the time, I would love to grow in depth with you all as well as add to that number of people. Yet, I like to know myself. So, maybe I can be more like Socks and just ask for it. I need applause; I need a hug; I need to know that I am being a good human; I need you to carry my laundry up (which I do for the next strong person that comes to my house); I need a break, but I need someone to affirm that; I need someone to go through this with me.
Sure this sounds selfish, but I may just be able to be a better person for the rest of society if I can articulate what I need to do just that.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
We Are The Message
By Jerry Levin
I recently received a question from a reader who wanted to know, "What
is CPT doing over there to share the Gospel of Jesus?"
The following was my answer.
"I'm not sure exactly what you mean. I thought our reports made it
clear that we share the Gospel of Christ by trying to exemplify its
meaning. It's something we do every day. By our actions CPTers witness
what kind of followers of Jesus we are trying to be. In so doing, we
demonstrate, we hope, the power of nonviolence, the power of Gospel
love, sacrifice, and hope to the terribly oppressed Palestinians, as
well as our solidarity with and thanks to the many Jewish Israelis
with whom we work who are standing up along with us in the West Bank
for their Palestinian neighbors. They too are demonstrating that they
understand His message.
"But that's only part of what we do. Through our reports we hope that
fellow followers of Jesus elsewhere in the world will take seriously
to heart the words and pictures we send back of the desperate
conditions under which Palestinians are obliged to live debilitating
minute by debilitating minute. We hope that these readers in turn will
be encouraged to take part in the struggle in their home countries to
influence an end to the oppressive occupation that is tragically so
similar to the Roman occupation two thousand years ago and the
Crusader conquest a thousand years after that.
"Some of the Palestinians we are trying to stand with, by the way, are
Christian. But can you imagine? Where Muslims with whom we interact
daily are concerned, we don't have to say a thing about the Gospels.
By our willingness to risk standing with them, they get the message
powerful and clear.
"Here's something else that may be difficult to imagine; but it's
true. Many many of the Muslims whom we try to help are already living
the kind of life that Jesus taught. They put their trust in God
[Allah] unhesitatingly. They admire, respect, and love Jesus greatly
(They call him Issa.). They pray much more often and regularly than
many Christians do. And when they do pray, they seem to be far less
interested in what God can do for them and much more in what they can
do for God. Powerful sentiments for a people in the Holy Land from
whom much has been taken with nothing given back in return.
"Finally our experience here and what we know is taking place in the
United States convinces us that an extremely fertile ground for
sharing the Gospel of love is back home amongst millions of
Christians, some of whom are the nation's most powerful political and
religious leaders. By their actions they are tragically complicating
the lives dangerously of the very people here in Palestine and Israel
whom they would like to see become followers of Jesus too. Clearly a
"I hope this explanation helps."
Monday, December 11, 2006
Last night, I read an article in Wired called The New Atheism (November 2006). I don’t read too much about Atheism, but it was a great article to get an introduction to this line of thought. My understanding is that interviews with the three men, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett provide insight into atheism as would interviews with three leading Christian theologians into Christianity.
Sam Harris has recently written a new book, Letter to a Christian Nation. In the article there is a quote that struck me about talking to Christians. “Nonbelievers like myself stand beside you dumbstruck by the Muslim hordes who chant death to whole nations of the living. But we stand dumbstruck by you as well – by your denial of tangible reality, by the suffering you create in service to your religious myths, and by your attachment to an imaginary God.”
I could argue the reality of God, I could draw from my 7 years of studying for degrees in religion, I could prove the importance of religious traditions such as baptism and communion, I think I might be good at that even….but instead I will just say…
I understand my faith as something that I can no longer really explain. I can tell you what I believe – the importance of peace to my theology, the importance of fighting for economic justice and racial justice, the importance of community to my theology. But the base of how I know God loves me, I can’t explain. I think maybe I would have tried before, but I know that it so deep that I just can’t explain it anymore.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Saturday, December 9, 2006
Oh well, I think I have enough food that we won't starve here at DOOR - but I maybe ease the situation by just going out for Chicago Style Pizza - love that Chicago is famous for pizza, that means I can justify serving pizza!!!!!
Fun times....always fun times...
Friday, December 8, 2006
I hate waiting. Right now, I am waiting for a DOOR group to arrive for the weekend. I can’t wait for the weekend to start – we are going to have a great time eating some good Mexican food, then serving at two agencies, attending a hip hop church tomorrow and another church on Sunday. Can’t beat it – it is a lot of fun (Not to mention the teaching/learning moments that will occur.) I am ready for them…but I am 1 ½ hours early. So because I couldn’t wait, I wait.
Now, back in the day, I loved waiting tables. I got to interact with people, food, and assemble some type of order through it all. There were lots of benefits being a waitress, but none of them had to do with sitting around. Instead, this job with waiting in the title was a very active thing. I was at the service of people, that sort of waiting.
So which kind is Advent (the season of the Church year we are in)? I love Advent. Partially because it is engrained in me as a little kid to like it. Advent at the core is a time of preparation…a time of waiting. But it is not…no, not boring waiting like I am enduring right now – but instead active waiting. We even know the love, joy, peace and compassion that we are waiting for – Jesus.
Advent is strange that way. I mean, we as Christian folks know Christmas is coming, that Jesus is going to be born on December 25. We even know that Good Friday and Easter are coming in the Spring. And yet, we are asked every year at this time to prepare and wait.
So let us wait, for the One who bring Hope, Joy, Love and Peace into our lives each day – even today.
Thursday, December 7, 2006
There is a book the basically says in 300 pages what I believe about community and family. The book is Bowling Alone : The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam. Putnam starts with the idea that there used to be ways to connect in American society for one bowling leagues. My parents talk about church and grange halls being places that they spent their time growing up. As society has changed, so is how our society relates.
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
So I have been thinking a lot about belonging. Some of this thought has to do with how much I feel so loved and supported by my church family. The love I feel from and for them I have only experienced before in a family setting. They worry about me; they expect me to do some stuff and encourage me to do stuff I have never thought to do. They just held a fundraiser for my upcoming Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation, and while we raised plenty of money the more important part of the event was the interaction the congregation and I had with each other. Challenges, Encouragement, and Love. My church takes this belonging thing seriously. I belong there, I can’t imagine not being a part of this ministry called
The other big thing that is making me think about belonging is my new relationship with Jim, my boyfriend. It is strange to see that in print, but it is more strange to think about how much this relationship makes me think about who I am. I know how to be a good employee, usually good daughter and sister, a listening and helpful friend, a productive member of society, a passionate believer of Christ. I know how to belong in my roles helping me feel comfortable and happy with my life. I don’t have any clue how to be a good, helpful, loving, life giving girlfriend – therefore I don’t know how to belong in this new role. Jim tells me I am doing fine…but part of the issue for me in giving up some independence is not knowing how to belong in a new way.
Luckily, I belong to God – as we all do. So, while I have almost idolized belonging to my church and worry about belonging in a relationship – I know that God will help bring me to a place of understanding of how to belong in all the areas of my life.
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
So, I went to a new class tonight at
My first inclination was to say “Hey, this isn’t church!” But it was my decision to join a
I think that is the best thing about community is that challenge to be together – and the challenge to be together. I did better pilates because I knew I needed too for the sake of the class. A great example of people usually are better people as a result of being in a community.
Monday, December 4, 2006
God - I can only hope that I keep God first...I try most of the time to keep this important piece in my life. While I don't think the only way to experience God is my way, I am sort of in the business of church. I have a degree in religion; a master's of divinity and work in a church rooted ministry; of which I am way to passionate about - it is sort of my life, actually. I am privledged to be able to focus on God for a job - and I give thanks for that almost everyday. I won't be quiet about this God I love.
Chicago - I love my city, the neighborhoods, and the fact that I get the opportunity to live here. I am quite passionate about sharing the joys and the pains of this city with anyone who will listen. I won't be quiet about this place I love.
Sour Patch Kids - This is silly, but I am addicted to these little candies. I can even tell a fresh bag from a bag that has been on the shelf a little too long. I am sure I will post about that soon. I won't be quiet about this candy I love.
If anything - I can promise I am not quiet about the things that I love - so I hope you keep checking for new posts.