Saturday, January 29, 2005

We think that we understand the human soul so well, when in truth we shrink back from honest expressions of grace at every step. What are we so afraid of?
What makes us think that we've got the answers? Why is it that because we think we're right, we justify rudeness towards others who think differently than we do? What makes us so arrogant as to assume we can see plainly the log in our own eye, and so are free then to take aim at the speck in our neighbours?

Over the past few years I've watched as those close to me have taken sides on issues large and small (actually, most of them were quite small) and deliberately walk away from relationships that were once mutually life-giving.
[via Unedited Ravings]

As Iraqis go to the polls:

There's a paradox about war: along with all the terrible things it is, it's a kind of intimacy -- an almost Biblical knowing. A nation or an individual may go to war in a state of ignorance and prejudice, but will come out of it forever changed and married, having swapped a great deal of cultural DNA....Now, Iraq. No longer far away and alien, the Iraqis have become strangely dear to us. By blundering into their country, liberating and killing them, violating their homes and rebuilding their schools, we have haltingly come to know their intelligence and deep emotion, their amazing courage, their hospitality and pride. Now we are holding our breath as they risk their lives to vote, to grasp the bloody gift we've given them and send us packing. .
[via AmbivaBlog]

Was Dobson's comments better than reported?

So a pledge to respect, not to condone, endorse or advocate, but to respect all people, including gays, is dangerous? I think the media did Dobson a favor in garbling his intended meaning. What he really meant turns out to be worse than accusing SpongeBob of being gay.
[via I am a Christian Too]

Friday, January 28, 2005

[I couldn't resist posting this! Thanks to Mainstream Baptist for the link!]

Bikini Bottom – In an emotional press conference today, Mr. Spongebob Squarepants divulged for the first time that he is, in fact, a hermaphrodite. “I wanted to keep my sexuality private, but given all the accusations lately that I’m homosexual, I just had to come clean” he stated in a tearful statement. “I’m a sponge, and sponges are hermaphrodites. I didn’t choose to be both male and female, that’s just the way God made me” the cartoon character said.{read more here}
[via I am a Christian Too]

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Don't forget that remembering can lead to variations of things one does not want to repeat.

Moving away is only to the boundaries
of the self. Better to stay here,
I said, leaving the horizons
clear. The best journey to make
is inward. It is the interior
that calls. Eliot heard it.

[from Groping by R.S. Thomas, quoted at Finking Out Loud]


The greatest Christian form of blackmail and complacency.


Gestating Hope

Tell me, what is hope to you? I've been reflecting on this for a year and a half, and yesterday it occurred to me that while I have understood hope from a theological perspective, I have not practiced it as a way of life.....We were all wishing for hope, none of us having much.

For me, hope is about taking real risks, something I’ve rarely done. Trying to gestate triplets was a real risk, and I handled it with despair and panic. I hedged my bets all along, saying, “If the babies are born…” or “I just have a bad sense about this whole thing…” I had a cloud of fatalism and doom hanging over me every day. When I cried, it was often about myself and my lack of control. “I’m not good at this!” “I can’t do this!”

I normally only get myself into situations in which my excellent performance is a high likelihood. I have taken what, in other peoples’ eyes, seem to be significant risks, but they weren’t for me.
[via The Paris Project]

Subliminal Messages (or "Acting on Principle")

About Dr. Dobson's problems with SpongeBob:

It's rather unfortunate, if you ask me, and one has to wonder if Mr. Dobson isn't getting a little crochety as he ages.

I think Dobson's claim is silly. I'm not a psychologist, but I thought we'd given up on the subliminal messages hype a long time ago, back in the days when we tired of the "backward masking" issue (that is, the recording of messages that can be played when a record is spun backwards). Thinking back on my childhood, I didn't notice what type of relationship Ernie and Bert had (I suppose that's why they're subliminal messages)--I just thought Ernie's laugh was funny, and I liked how Bert furrowed his brow when Ernie annoyed him. Even when I watched a (at the time) 'no-no' adult TV show (such as "The Golden Girls"), most of the sexual innuendo was completely beyond me, or I just wasn't interested.
[via The Eagle and Child]

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Who's A Cartoon Now, Huh?

Dr. James Dobson needs to be less...absorbent about SpongeBob Squarepants:

Earlier this week, Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, launched a diatribe at SpongeBob SquarePants. The lovable sponge, along with a cast of other children's characters, appeared in a video remake of the disco hit "We Are Family," which Dobson alleges is trying to insidiously promote gay tolerance. The video's creators say it's meant to carry a message of multi-culturalism and racial tolerance and does not have anything to do with sexual proclivity.
[via Church Marketing Sucks]

Here's the video in question.

Tim Ehrich:

Turning us against each other works because we don’t know each other. It is a consequence of living indoors, within isolated subgroups, and in homes where reality is experienced through a television remote control. If we experience our fundamental diversity at all, it is as a nuisance, as categories that we are compelled to endure, and as caricatures.
We tend to live behind barricades, especially in religion. We don’t listen to each other, we accept cartoon-level depictions of each other, we embrace negative stereotypes as if they were truth, we allow leaders to sell us on campaigns that build their power but leave us unfulfilled.
People theorize monsters into being, without actually knowing real people and discovering common worries and joys. We draw stick figures and then destroy them, as if that were Godly work. We throw Scripture fragments at each other, as if shabby scholarship revealed God’s will. We don’t know each other at any depth. Those who are goading us into holy war don’t want us to know each other. Exploiting our deepest faith yearnings only works if we stay behind the barricade.
[via Jesus Politics]

Monday, January 17, 2005


When not knowing is better than not caring.

From the poem After A While by Veronica A. Shoffstall:

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security.
[via Reflective Musings]

Friday, January 14, 2005

The thoughts that would have not otherwise occurred, bring doubt to the mind. The doubt that came to the mind, tested the fragility of relationships. The fragility of relationships is what leads to the cracks in trust.

[via English, August]

I do not lack for anything. All the tools are ready, dusted and clean. They await my procrastinating soul to just sit straight and push the boat along the stream of a new life, fresh and personal.

[via Mottled Memories]

The Wittenburg Door (formerly The Door Magazine)

Including the article Remembering Mike Yaconnelli by John Carney, an interview of Martin Marty by Ralph Asher, a new cartoon by Which Circle? and some things to reform by Ole Anthony.

In a time like ours, where fear takes on an apocalyptic dimension, it is extremely tempting to join a small group that calls non-members useless, dangerous, or evil and offers a unique sense of belonging to those who follow the rules.

But whether through distance or closeness, fear prevents us from forming an intimate community in which we can grow together, everyone in his or her own way. When fear separates or joins us, we can no longer confess to each other our sins, our brokeness, and our wounds. How, then, can we forgive each other and come to reconcilliation? Distance allows us to ignore the other as having no signficance in our lives, and closeness offers us an excuse for never expressing or confessing our feelings of being hurt.
---Henri Nouwen

From Parking Lot in the post About Seeing, Part 5:

A “what if” question is tasty, and demonstrates exactly an important power of “seeing:” once you see a desired future, you can’t put it back in the bottle. As Thomas King says about stories of transformation, you can do a lot of things, but you can’t say you didn’t hear it. Jonathan Schell, in The Unconquerable World, argues that this quality of real vision is what makes the democratic impulse so strong in people: once participatory democracy is unleashed on the world, it cannot be refuted. Taste freedom or inspiration once, and it’s hard to deny its full emergence.

“What if” questions bring the sophisticated process of seeing to a very practical point. I find that increasingly, my work is about helping people shift from one place to another. Any kind of transformation process requires this kind of forward viewing in order to provide some idea of where we are going. So I am finding “what if” questions, and the accompanying challenge to individuals - passion AND responsibility, remember - to see themselves in that new future to be useful in just about every context, be it planning, consultation, community building or organizational development.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Today, most of us live in a shattered world. A world of disconnected bits and pieces, so it is no longer easy to recognize our place. And when we can't see the connections, we fail to recognize causal relationships and therefore feel no responsibility.
-- David Suzuki in Planet S, emphasis mine

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

We must develop habits that will enable us to remember.
-- from The Long and Short of it: Ten Questions for an Aid Worker via beyond magazine

[Thanks Jordon Cooper for the link!]

Sunday, January 09, 2005

I have also decided, though, that it does not really matter to me whether God does intervene in such events – I cannot know either when or why such an intervention would occur. Such an action would serve God’s purposes, not mine, and I cannot possibly understand those purposes – I am not God, I am limited by time and space and intelligence and perspective. Maybe there is a perfectly good reason why thousands of human babies had to die on the planet Earth on the day after Christmas 2004; why entire families had to be wiped out. I cannot know it. Any attempt by me to “create” a purpose would be at best pure speculation and at worst wishful thinking. I am sure that it is no coincidence that those who are quickest to attribute motives to an infinite deity appear to be those most likely to adopt the most mean-spirited motives possible to vindicate their own pre-existing views.
[via A Progressive Christian]

From this post at Jordon Cooper:

An expression of "we have done what we need to do", I think we are missing the point. I hope it is a start. A reminder that there are Darfur's that are happening and the west as well as the church has to step up to the plate and respond to humanitarian crisis all over the world.

I was chatting with Leighton via MSN Messenger tonight and I asked why it is that we respond with overwhelming support to Asia which was a disaster that the world could not prevent yet the world just ignores humanitarian disasters that we can protect (Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Darfur).

A Time For Everything (or Much Need, Little Time)

What does it change, this Tsunami? Humans beings are vunerable. People suffer. Did that really begin on December 26? I hear they are asking, "Where is God?" which is similar to the thought I had there toward the end when my mom was asking for her husband's gun.

Don't get me wrong. I do wonder about all those without homes, or neighbors to go to. But I ponder more these days about my mom's cold body beneath the frozen earth.

Even the Bible says, "Let the dead bury the dead."

{from this post via Been There...Still There}

Friday, January 07, 2005

Who doesn't hate resolutions? What are they but yardsticks with which to gauge our failure at self-improvement?

[via Feeble Knees]

Truth has a way of seeping through like winter cold, even when we're busy running around stuffing rags in the cracks just as fast as we can. When you write, it seeps in faster. There are too many potentially frightening and painful things in my psyche for me to be entirely comfy with this, so all too often I find myself stuffing the cracks with near-compulsively frantic activities: nibbling, playing mindless computer games, blog surfing, napping, doing housework quickly rather than deliberately, taking too-fast walks, or pacing the floor restlessly. Anything to not think, to not feel what I'm afraid might be waiting for me just outside, digging little claws into any available crevice and prying for all it's worth.
[via Quotidian Light]

[Wendy] Farley - "Tragedy is the price paid for existence."

[Nancy R.] Howell- "Compassion and redemptive power resist the dehumanizing, tragic conditions of suffering,..."

Shaken up

It leads me to believe that our society has stooped to the point where it needs to be bombarded with images and video in order to be stirred into action. I say that countries should keep the money coming, just redirect it to where it is still required. Heaven knows there are more than enough people still suffering.

[via An Alberda Onlne]

Thursday, January 06, 2005

[from this post]

The very inexplicability of sad events like the tsunami, like the AIDS crisis or even like the cancer death of the father of one of my daughter's 2nd-grade classmates last week are, to me, reminders to focus on our obligations to one another, not to the infinite; to honor the creator, if any, by honoring creation itself and hoping that's good enough.

--Eric Zorn, quoted at Holy Weblog]

...the question of goodness--though our foremost value currently--should not be at the forefront of our intentions....

Perhaps, then when national disasters happen the US could respond accordingly. Not doling out a mere 35 million dollars and recieving the branding of, "stingy" by folks on the international scene. Also, perhaps recognizing though that the restraint of a great nation goes along way as well. Iraq, I suspect, would not have developed into quite the international quagmire that it did had the US excercized restraint equal to its greatness.

Our obsession with all things good, and by virtue, all things evil. Has trapped America into a color and nuance blind tailspin. We strap on the goggles of goodness and look for evil and erradicate it. Obliterating all traces of good along with the little evil that may have existed.

This good / evil dichotomy may prove hurtful.
[via a badchristian blog]

I am sick of hearing arguements against, or for, God (in whatever form or tradition) being piggybacked on the deaths of so many people that most of those talking the loudest have never met, seen, or given a single thought of love or hate towards in their entire lives. Sure, a disaster like this is terrible, but we all act as if this brings up some kind of new issues when in reality it simply them on the front page of the newspaper. How many people die every year of aids? malnutrition? Should I go on? So what, this new natural disaster simply provide a way for people to yell louder about their particular position that they already held before, and probably will hold afterwards?

Certainly, there are questions to be asked, and attempts should be made at answering them. But lets at least try to remember they aren't new questions, and more people dying doesn't make them any more or less intense (no disrespect meant for those who have and are bearing the brunt of this latest tragedy).
[from this post via The Road to Daejeon, emphasis mine]

What would Jesus Listen to?

[via The Invisible Sun]

Calculating the Cost

How much is too little for the tsumani victims?. [via The Eagle and Child]


While relief is necessary to help people immediately affected by the crisis, it's not going to solve their greater problem - long term employment, the devastating hit to the overall economy. The media isn't helping either - the inbred urge to sensationalize paints a picture that may be worse than it is.
[via small dead animals]

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Putting the tsumani help in perspective:

Imagine if every day the headlines in every newspaper in the world and every television show was: "29,000 children died yesterday from preventable diseases and malnutrition" and then the rest of the stories alternated between detailed personal accounts of families where this devestation was taking place, and side bar features detailing what was happening in advanced industrial countries, like this: "all this suffering was happening while the wealthiest people in the world enjoyed excesses of food, worried about how to lose weight because they eat too much, spent monies trying to convince farmers not to grow too much food for fear that doing so would drive down prices, and were cutting the taxes of their wealthiest rather than seeking to redistribute their excess millions of dollars of personal income." If the story were told that way every day, the goodness of human beings would rebel quickly against these social systems that made all this suffering possible, suffering far far far far far in excess of all the suffering caused by tsunamis and other natural disasters.
--Rabbi Michael Lerner, The Tikkun Community

Thanks to Mainsteam Baptist for the reminder!

There are times I worry, anticipate that every motive I've possessed over the past year will only bury me deeper in this grave. I'm being buried alive, but there's no bell for me to ring.

... I tried to be apathetic and it was difficult. The first tear had fallen and the others wanted to follow. But I wouldn't allow them. I conquered. I always obliterate it before anyone can see it ensnare me.

[via Llama Drama]

"The world is too small now, isn't it?"

[via Bene Diction Blogs On (if the previous link seems off then try here instead]

Life goes on, with or without grubby admirers standing around watching... with or without me, beautiful moments disappear.

[via Greenhorn]

Sunday, January 02, 2005

For the past

If sadness gripped you in the last year

[via Deluded Wine]

Release into comfort-
this auspicious connect;
dawning of promises

[via Been There...Still There]

[a poem I wrote yesterday]


Time is filled--

as the sun will rise tomorrow
and the sun will set today
while it stays without rest

Still, it patiently traces the spinning world
As it circles the hearth that enlightens.

it almost feels like home
so far, far away
out of orbit

In the meantime the moon
Becomes a pesky fly to swat
As we chase the fading past
From our position.

It would be a crude and cruel joke
If we were really surprised--

if only we could laugh it off
if only we could cry it out
if only the ponderous pace
could lead us astray.

It all seems vain when time gets full.