Sunday, February 29, 2004

[poetry from Poetry of Life]


Time marches on
leaving me in a depression of the mind
yearning for home and the friendship
of others.

Many years have I floated
without anchor
searching, seeking,
yet another home.

Unsatisfied with self and others
living in discomfort
waiting for parole
of the soul.

[turn here]

[quote seen at Grace's Lent Blog]

Fast from discouragements; feast on hope.

[a bit of hope here]

Saturday, February 28, 2004

I was at an Art Cafe [put on by Darren and Cathy] at Lakeview Church yesterday. I recited three of my poems. For your reflection:



Terror Lost/Found

Thursday, February 26, 2004

(excerpt from an opinion piece in the most recent First Things)

Ultimately, The Passion of the Christ is about witnessing and bearing witness. On one level, the film is calculated to make us want to turn away and go home. At the outset, Jesus tells his disciples in the garden that he doesn’t want them to see him in such a condition. He worries about what they are soon to see: a suffering servant who looks like anything but a king, and whose tortured body will seem quite beyond repair.

Thankfully, as the scenes become harder and harder to watch, the viewer is offered an example, a guide as to how we are supposed to react to the increasingly disturbing images. This comes in the form of Jesus’ mother, brilliantly played by the Romanian actress Maia Morgenstern. Though Mary is the person most affected by these shattering events, she also understands better than anyone the necessity of what her son must do, and she consents to his mission and her own role in it. She in turn shows the audience what they must do. During the scourging, we see Mary with her head lowered, barely able to support herself as she hears the incessant beating of her son. As we think to ourselves, “no mother should have to witness such a thing,” she gathers her strength, lifts her head, and continues to look. If she can, we can. Then, in the harrowing pietà scene at the end of the film, Mary looks directly out at the viewer as she holds the body of Christ, reminding us with her glance that we, too, have been witnessing these events, and that it is now we who are called to bear witness to what we have seen. Like Caravaggio’s Deposition, Gibson’s film places the bulk of responsibility on the viewer.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

(noticed on Urban Onramps)

Mr. Gibson's film leaves out most of the elements of the Jesus story that contemporary Christianity now emphasizes. His Jesus does not demand a "born again" experience, as most evangelists do, in order to gain salvation. He does not heal the sick or exorcise demons, as Pentecostals emphasize. He doesn't promote social causes, as liberal denominations do. He certainly doesn't crusade against gender discrimination, as some feminists believe he did, nor does he teach that we all possess an inner divinity, as today's nouveau Gnostics believe. One cannot imagine this Jesus joining a New Age sunrise Easter service overlooking the Pacific.
(quoted in this post from an Op-Ed piece by Kenneth Woodward in The New York Times)

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

(seen at The Living Home)

Here's the bottom line: you will not convince anyone unless how you conduct your life backs up your language. It doesn't matter how long you rant, how good you spin it. We are a generation that is tired of gimmicks and sales pitches. We want to see the reality of it, the everyday living of it (yes, the high's and the low's). If you are not serious about engaging in that, than we aren't interested in your negativity.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Defeating Words

Recently Andrew wrote a post that has created some discussion. Was it sloppy, or just sexist?

Andrew's post contains this promising part:
RE: Women and emerging minstries. Obviously there are more women in leadership and ministry teams, having been decentralized, are more mixed in gender.
However, it ends this way:
I am looking over the coming summer at the people who have told me they are going overseas on pilgrimage or mission, and again, i am looking at a large group of GIRLS! Not much equality there. Where are the men?
That started some controversy! In a follow-up post, Andrew clarified that "girls" referred to " teenage girls", but the damage was already done.

What happened? Let's deconstruct the post, starting with the word "girl". The word "girl" can express two different attitudes, either playful and affectionate or casual and dismissive. It can also imply immaturity or dependency.

Therefore, what Andrew intended to mean:
Even though there's more balance of genders with leadership and ministry teams, there's a lack of men in pilgrimage or mission teams. Why?
could come across like this instead:
There's a balance of genders with leadership and ministry teams, but there really should be more men in pilgrimage or mission teams, since even women can do it.
(See the difference in tone?)

Does Andrew's clarification about "girls" meaning "teenage girls" make any difference? No. The problem is that the word "girl" can be equivocal, depicting either women in general or young women in particular. If his post was exclusively about adolescents, it could have been appropriate. Since the rest of the post refers to women in general, it doesn't eliminate the problem.

If that's not bad already, it gets worse. Andrew uses "girls" here in the context of women being disproportionate with a certain specialty, sabotaging a more positive (or neutral) impression of the women involved. Moreover, there is no usage of the word "boys" anywhere in the post, even where the word "girls" is mentioned.

Ironically, the post's intent was exhorting men to participate in some responsibilities women seemed more likely to do, so there weren't discrepencies between women and men. Yet with writing this uneven, it could be discouraging or frustrating to many women, even if only slightly. What's a women to do when she sees Andrew's post?

Of course, being a guy myself, it's easy to consider giving Andrew some leniency, noticing his good intentions. However, it's also easy to forget that good intentions are not enough, especially when writing about others not like you. That's why sloppy writing by men about women (even indirectly) could be self-defeating for men and alienating for women. It may only be a short slide to sexism.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

(noticed at grrrl meets world)

Fear, the rational kind, is a critical part of our ability to survive. Sensing real danger and acting appropriately is an instinct that has served our species well throughout the millennia.

But irrational fear is a killer. It throws off our survival compass. It makes us reach for a gun when we hear a noise in the middle of the night (and you end up shooting your wife who was just on her way to the bathroom)....

Fear is so basic and yet so easy to manipulate that it has become both our best friend and our worst enemy.
[from Dude, Where's My Country? by Michael Moore]
(seen at

"The most profoundly creative way to overcome enemies is to make them our friends. But this involves a series of painful acts. A constant decision never to achieve our goals by destroying or humiliating others."

- Dom Paulo Cardinal Arns

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

(noticed at listening after dark in this context)

I'm not sure why I always internally put everything through my weights and balances. I'm not sure where my measuring system came from. I always want things to be balanced, polished, perfect. I crave order and rhythm. Part of that is not wanting to disagree with people, or at least not wanting them to disagree with me. I want people to agree with me, to like me, but not to be like me. I like to be different and unique;I want others to respect my differences and agree with my opinions. It makes sense, but it doesn't.

This morning in church, my pastor (while talking about relationships and the importance of differences in people) mentioned this quote: "If two people agree about everything, one of them isn't necessary."

(noticed through They Blinked via Self-Desconstructing Text)

it's funny how so much of our pain stems from our desire to control things
to own them...

i woke up from a quick nap to find all the snow sliding into the gutters as rain, and inexplicably wanted to cry.

change is a scary thing, because often it means loss.

you can't communicate with snow, renegotiate your relation to it, discuss its presence or absence

i've found most relationships to ultimately be of this nature, as well.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

[seen at Jordon Cooper]

...idealists are often lonely. Of course we are beause it hurts us each and everytime our ideals are sold in for the pragmatic solutions that undermine them. It's even worse because it isn't evil people that sell out your ideas, they are your friends and people you trust. That is what makes it worse. It is easier to withdraw and keep the ideas to yourself than it is to share them and see them die a thousand deaths that no one can see except yourself.

[seen at Been There...Still There]

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

--Dr. Seuss

[seen at Jordon Cooper]

It takes your enemy and your friend, working together, to hurt you to heart; the one to slander you and the other to get the news to you.

-- Mark Twain

Saturday, February 14, 2004


(seen from Ponder this)

Valentine's cards, unfortunately!

Being Valentine's and all...

Just want to thank the new people who have entered me into the blogroll. Welcome Becky, Scotty, and John I. Carney everyone!

Of course, I won't forget the ones who started it all: Thanks to Laura and Leighton (on the list).

If our awareness of differences and our commitment to competition is at the heart of our relating, we are blind to each other's experience and world of meanings. Comassion has no home in such relating, for compassion is born of the knowledge that we are made of the same clay, that we hold our humanness as a common gift for whose co-creation we are mutually responsible. We do not cling to any sense of superiority, but become as all people are....[pg. 110]

Compassion is not a matter of skill. It is a matter of passionate risk-taking. Unless we understand this, we cannot hope even to begin to know what hunger and thirst after justice is all about, and we thus take refuge in righteous-sounding words about justice, rather than "justice-ing." [pg.111]
---from Poets, Prophets and Pragmatists: A New Challenge to Religious Life
by Evelyn Woodward

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Went to the Worship Freehouse on Sunday at the Black Duck. It was a time to connect with others and realize the cracks and edges that occur when you only blog without meeting up at some point.

One of the things that helped me relax was the relatively equal proportions of men and women. (Thanks to newcomers Becky and Angela...) I find that when people like me (male) are disproportionate in a gathering, I get quite self-conscious, almost apologetic.

Interestingly, the conversation (with Scotty, Wendy, Becky, Angela, and Leighton) turned to women and Paul (from the Bible) at one point.

Leighton blogs about it:

I found it difficult not to respond being that I like love Paul. We engaged in a brief debate in which I did a miserable job of convincing anyone that Paul wasn't a misogynist and a sexist. Becky made a very good point. How do I know that I'm not picking the stuff from Paul I like and simply ignoring the stuff I don't like because it would be offensive. She didn't say it like that, but I think I am communicating it correctly.

Being a guy makes it easier to like Paul. He didn't say guys weren't allowed to teach or were supposed to be quiet in church.
I'd add that it's extra pressure when you're a guy and around Christians who expect and want you to conform to a certain standard or understanding of Paul and women.

So for all the women, I should say the "Man Prayer":

I'm a man,
but I can change.
If I have to.
I guess.

However, I did suggest two books on the subject. Here they are:

Not that I didn't feel awkward about this, of course. It's comparable to the struggle I (as a man) go through if I consider opening a door for a women. Either way I act seems not quite right.

Yet Wendy related the challenges of Christian women, whether about discouragement (however slight) or acheivement. Moreover, Becky mentioned some unworkable rules from Bible Colleges. It only contributed to my frustation as a male trying to find ways to share and care with Christian women.

Leighton has a relevant blog about this, referring to a Hermeneutics class with women one time:

I don't fully understand what it means to be discriminated against because of my gender or the color of my skin. I know that it sucks and it is frustrating. I know that some women in evangelical Christianity have an internalized sense of inferiority...

I really didn't know how to interpret this and I was at a loss at how this could be rectified. I even sat down with the prof and talked about it a couple of times. In the end the class was great for me but it could have been so much better.
However, the least I can do is thank the women who came to the Worship Freehouse and allowing us men to be with them.

Monday, February 09, 2004

(seen at Randall Friesen)

When somebody starts a conversation with "I hate to complain, but..." you know it won't go anywhere but.

(referred by Jordon Cooper)

Whether the controversy of the moment is sexual ethics, (civic or communal as shown in the Massachusetts ruling and the recent Anglican Bishop appointment) religious tolerance or cultural difference (both seen so acutely in the various subtexts of the "War on Terror") how we cast the story around the conflict, how we go about speaking with the combatants begins in the manner in which we think about the world and in the end is the deciding factor with regard to whether or not we in fact have loved our enemies, our neighbors and the stranger at our door.
--from They Blinked, in this post

Sunday, February 08, 2004

The Frustration is...Mutual

(Considering the recent emergent/pomo discussions about men and women lately... see here or here to read the conversations...)

Friendship and freedom imply a concern for the belonging needs of a person as well as for his or her need to be separate but related individual. The practice of hospitality is demanding because it involves a constant going out to the other without possessing him or her and demanding a return in kind. [p. 116]

What values and attitudes and ways of seeing must permeate my perception, not just of you, but of the whole of reality, so as to transmit acceptance and valuing? Affirmation does not mean pushing the affirmation button and producing a kind or praising statement, though a kind and praising statement that issues from a genuinely appreciative person has a dimension of credibility that distinguishes it in quality from a more superficial and tritely bland "charity". Affirmation never merely pats people on the head for a job well done. Affirmation is deeply about the worth of the person, and the worth of a person does not rely solely on deeds and performance. [p. 125]

...we shall not be healed by having affirmation practiced upon us. That is condescension, which exacerbates the inner loneliness. The healing, the unlearning and new learning, indeed the conversion required to change our unaffirmed emptiness is a long-term drinking-in of the spirit of affirming others. They offer us much more than the pseudo-affirmation of do-gooders, who must walk softly around our propensity for hurt, so as not to offend or challenge us. Affirmation is not about avoidance of hurt. It is about loving. Love gets to know us, to know what we can and cannot bear, risks stretching our capacity for relationship, challenges us to enlarged being. It loves, but is not soft. [p. 129, bold emphasis mine]
--from Poets, Prophets and Pragmatists: A New Challenge to Religious Life
by Evelyn Woodward

Friday, February 06, 2004

When you don't care about your enemy, you become your enemy!

Idols seem to offer so much on the surface (check out Isaiah's discourse on idolatry - it's a wonderful dialogue on this!). They even tie into a legitimate need: sex, food, companionship, needing to be needed, etc. But the bad thing about idols is that they enslave you. Instead of meeting a real need in a legitimate way (or "the way" that Chris Marshall talked about yesterday), idols meet the need in a way that causes an increased inward focus and an intense hungering of the idol. Golem is a good picture of this. He loved the ring and became obsessed with it - the Lord of the Rings plays this out magnificently. Idols end up destroying you. [seen at The Red Pill]

In the classic Arthur Miller play, The Crucible, we get a glimpse into what happens when complex problems are reduced to "God" and "the devil." Fallible human judges are given the status of infallible authorities. Hysterical and jealous girls are seen as instruments of the devil. Middle ground and more subtle analysis are not allowed. In the end, innocent people die. Terrible things are done, and anyone who doubts is in league with darkness. This is a story about us. Like it or not, it happened because the critics- of preachers, particularly- were silenced.
[seen at The Internet Monk within this article]

Thursday, February 05, 2004

(seen on the Worship Freehouse's blog)

The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a buildling filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind, and creativity will instantly fill it.
- Dee Hock

(seen at

There is a lot of road crossing to do. We are all very busy in our own circles. We have our own people to go to and our own affairs to take care of. But if we could cross the street once in a while and pay attention to what is happening on the other side, we might become neighbours.
(Henri Nouwen)

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

(seen at Hardcore Poetics via IdeaJoy)

In these quite hours I find my solace,
as though I am privy to something the sleeping world is not.
A silence.
A peace.
A consciousness equitable to everyone else's dream,
where I process knowingly what they lose with sleep.
- it is untrue, perhaps. But I do experience
the hours that everyone else forgets.

[read the rest here]

More to Love...

(seen at scott)

it struck me last night that valentines is just around the corner. i was in 7-11 with a friend who is recently single and as we passed the inevitable card rack he burst out, a little too loudly, "valentines sucks!" might be valuable to remember your friends who are alone on this most romantic of holidays and remember to drop them a line or give them a hug. they might appreciate it more than you could imagine.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

(seen at Jen Lemen in this context)

someone wrote me an email recently, wondering why all the fuss over positions and power when the small things are what really matters. he cited mother teresa as a hero, and went on to make more points along the same lines. i didn't really disagree, but i think that in these conversations we sometimes get stuck in the either/or position instead of the both/and, and so [read more here]