Sunday, December 27, 2009

Obligation to Overspend...

A topic on the minds of many at this time of year is, “How am I going to pay off the credit card bill this time?” If you’ve put yourself into a hole by overspending at Christmas, you’re not alone. You’ve got social expectations to meet, and if your pocketbook doesn’t live up to your sense of generosity, you’ll find yourself in a hole. You’re also going to need a plan to climb out, especially if you’ve never been good at money management. {more...}
[via Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff- Site News]

Not Half-Perfect, but Learning...

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is standing still and learning to be
astonished. {full poem, by Mary Oliver}
[via The Eagle & Child]

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Star Wars Holiday Special "Changed" Christmas forever (enjoy it here, if you dare!) Will it do it to Hannukah?


Christmas at Sea
by Robert Louis Stevenson

The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seaman scarce could stand;
The wind was a nor’-wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.

They heard the suff a-roaring before the break of day;
But ’twas only with the peep of light we saw how ill we lay.
We tumbled every hand on deck instanter, with a shout,
And we gave her the maintops’l, and stood by to go about.

All day we tacked and tacked between the South Head and the North;
All day we hauled the frozen sheets, and got no further forth;
All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread,
For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.

We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide-race roared;
But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard.
So’s we saw the cliff and houses and the breakers running high,
And the coastguard in his garden, with his glass against his eye.

The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam;
The good red fires were burning bright in every longshore home;
The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out;
And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about.

The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer;
For it’s just that I should tell you how (of all days in the year)
This day of our adversity was blessèd Christmas morn,
And the house above the coastguard’s was the house where I was born.

O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces there,
My mother’s silver spectacles, my father’s silver hair;
And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely elves,
Go dancing round the china plates that stand upon the shelves.

And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me,
Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea;
And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way,
To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessèd Christmas Day.

They lit the high sea-light, and the dark began to fall.
“All hands to loose topgallant sails,” I heard the captain call.
“By the Lord, she’ll never stand it,” our first mate, Jackson, cried.
. . . .”It’s the one way or the other, Mr. Jackson,” he replied.

She staggered to her bearings, but the sails were new and good,
And the ship smelt up to windward just as though she understood;
As the winter’s day was ending, in the entry of the night,
We cleared the weary headland, and passed below the light.

And they heaved a mighty breath, every soul on board but me,
As they saw her nose again pointing handsome out to sea;
But all that I could think of, in the darkness and the cold,
Was just that I was leaving home and my folks were growing old.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Minority Report

How would you feel if I told you that a country was passing a law that would severely restrict the rights and freedoms of Christians? That the government of a country, which was entirely controlled by followers of another religion had decided to band together and do something about the “Christian threat”? What if they published the names of people they suspected to be Christians in the newspaper, and encouraged the public to harm them or refuse to associate with them? What if they passed a law so that if you were caught practicing your faith in your own home you could be thrown in jail for 7 years? What if they made it a law that if your neighbour found out you were a Christian they were forced to report it to the police or face 3 years in prison themselves? What if that law had a provision in it that if you were caught multiple times you could be put to death?

How would you feel? Angry? Sad? Would you be motivated to do something about it? Would you ask your member of parliament or senator to approve sanctions against the country treating your Christian brothers and sisters in such a way? What would you do?

Now stop. Because it IS really happening right now. In Uganda.

But there is one difference, which is why you probably haven’t heard about it.{continue...}
[via Bridging the Gap]

Accentuating the Real?

Whose responsibility is it to censor happiness?

Is it the voice or the ear? Or should the positive be censored at all?

[via Desperate for changing, starving for truth]

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Inclusive or Inciting?

[via Orcinus in this post]

[Also, for a counterpoint: The Paranoid Center, via Reason Magazine]


Injustice and civility cannot coexist. Being civil is a function of being free. When our discourse abuses freedom by demeaning others, it is something that affects not only the freedom of those tho[sic] whom it is directed, it affects the freedom of those who make such utterances.

Justice is a holistic concept. When one person suffers injustice in a civil society, all suffer injustice because the system has been broken. Those within such a system are now captive to their own need to exert power over others....

It is no longer civil because our discourse does not serve the end of living together and working together so that we all may prosper. It is a discourse tearing this down as it incites division and hostility only for a small minority to serve their own selfish gain.

The key to what we wish to be is that to which we direct our attention and hence that which we consume. If we want to achieve truth, beauty, and goodness, then these are what we need to consume. Listening to the poison thereby consuming it gives it power. When we attend to something we feed it. Perhaps it's time to fast. {full post}
[via Notes From Off-Center]

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Not Just Expanding Territory...


That's not Lou Dobbs' preferred word for illegal immigration, since we don't tend to think of trespassing as a particularly menacing form of crime and people like Dobbs -- the CNN anchor fearfully obsessed with illegal immigration from Mexico -- want to portray these aliens as more of a threat than the word "trespasser" seems to convey.

But there's another reason you won't hear that word from Dobbs or from his role models on Fox News or the other members of the frantically xenophobic anti-immigrant mob, like the birthers, deathers and tea-baggers or the demagogues who stoke their cowardly anger, like drop-out Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin or South Carolina's Rep. Addison Graves Hansen Huntington Wegener Ricketts Parkinson "Joe" Wilson* -- the congressman who said he was overwhelmed by his emotions when he heard the president excluding illegal immigrants with what he regarded as insufficient viciousness. ("You lie!" Wilson shouted, after Obama said illegal immigrants would not receive federally funded health insurance under his health care reform plan. Obama's statement was true, but Wilson fears such immigrants might not also be aggressively prohibited from purchasing private health insurance, and the idea of them doing so keeps him tossing and turning all night.)

The main reason that none of these Very Angry, Very Scared people wants to use the word "trespass" is that it reminds them of church.

There's this prayer we Christians say in church, at every service, whenever we get together....{full post}
[via slacktivist]

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Does That Attract Undecided People?

"...and then suddenly your favorite hero's image would just go, 'bing'."

[via Uncle Jay Explains]

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"At least we're annoyed together...and no 'butsies'."


Ze Frank on Labor Day and Socialism

Friday, July 17, 2009

One Good Thing To Digest For My Birthday

(UPDATE: Follow her posts via this link)

Since this happens the day of my birth, feel free to support this lady in lieu of gifts and so forth. (Feel free to click on the blogathon pic on the sidebar as well):

Why am I reading this?

I am Twyla, I live in Saskatoon, SK, Canada, and I just graduated from my B.F.A Honors in Fine Art and moved into the work force and away from home. My internet handle is newsong, and I am an avid online journaller. Blogging has infiltrated my daily life, and I write not only about my experiences, but about my thoughts on many intellectual and personal topics. For two years I blogged for a charity called Not For Sale, an active group spreading awareness about modern day slavery and supporting groups that aid in the mission to abolish it. This year I am tackling a new kind of slavery - a mental illness affecting many people, and one that I myself was victim to for many years. This post is asking you to support me in Blogathon 2009 and my cause by sponsoring the charity I have chosen, and spreading the word about this event. Read on!

What on earth is a blogathon?

Blogathon 2009 is made up of an organized group of bloggers who, starting at 6am PDT on Saturday, July 25th, 2009, (which is 7am Saskatchewan, SK, Canada time, where I am based) will be writing a blog post every half hour for 24 hours - a total of 48 posts each. Many bloggers including myself choose to theme their posts, do a little bit of prep ahead of time for big projects, or offer incentives for different sums of money donated. Each blogger chooses a charity where donations can be made online, and in my case offline as well. There are over 200 bloggers currently registered with all sorts of charities. Our motto? Stay up late. Make a difference....

What charity are you supporting?

The charity I have chosen to sponsor for this year is called Looking Glass and is based in Burnaby, B.C., Canada. Like my previous charities, it's about a type of slavery. But for me this year is about something much more personal. Some of you who know me well may be aware that this year I realized I had and was subsequently diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder. I am on a fast road to recovery after a lot of prayer and support from friends and I have begun learning how to deal with the many aspects of the disease and the habits it created in me.

Binge Eating Disorder is a mental and physical illness characterized by compulsive overeating in which people consume huge amounts of food while feeling out of control and powerless to stop. Often it is caused by the initial impulse to seek solace in food when it is the most available pleasure. People with binge eating disorder struggle with feelings of guilt, disgust, and depression. They worry about what the compulsive eating will do to their bodies and beat themselves up for their lack of self-control. They desperately want to stop binge eating, but they feel like they can’t. According to the National Institutes of Health, 2 percent of all U.S. adults suffer from compulsive overeating—making binge eating disorder more common than bulimia or anorexia. {get introduced...}
[via Deperate for changing, starving for truth]

Saturday, July 04, 2009

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.
-C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Critical Patriotism

As I write this, it is already 04 July 2009. It’s Independence Day, the anniversary of the day (04 July 1776) when American colonists declared their independence from the U.K. It’s the birthday of this republic, the United States of America, although our current form of government did not set until 1790. Throughout this land on Sunday, churches will be filled with pastors giving sermons on freedom or on “God and country,” etc. Most of them will be pretty bad. Some of them will be positively idolatrous–reducing the God of all creation to a tribal deity that somehow cares more for this nation than others–a truly blasphemous idea.

Some preachers will do better....

A Christian patriotism must be an “eyes wide open” critical patriotism that is always calling for repentence and reform. Because Christians can never forget that no nation, no government, is anywhere close to the standards of the Rule of God. Our first loyalty is to that other “kingdom” (forgive the patriarchal language, the political meaning comes through better) which is not from this world–but which will overthrow the Powers and Authorities of this world. We are loyal first to the “God Revolution,” and second to the global church (the scattered People of God) and third to the whole world, in and out of the church, as God’s beloved creation. Only after that, as a lesser loyalty, can we be lovers of our own nation and government.

Nationalists and jingoists, therefore, will always find Christians to be suspect. We will not appear patriotic enough for them. Too bad. {full post}
[via Levellers]
The American view has tended neither toward the death of God nor His reconfiguration as the foundation of some American civil religion. Writers often discuss the American civil religion, but generally describe it as some variant of Biblical religion with an active God.

From the beginning, Americans have not grappled in the same way with the contradiction between intense personal longings and impersonal science or theology. Consider our Declaration of Independence. The theoretical core of the Declaration—on self-evident truths, unalienable rights, and instituting government—speaks of “Nature’s God,” a Deist creator, the source of the impersonal laws of nature. Christian members of the Continental Congress insisted that two other references to God be added to the eminently modern Jefferson and Franklin’s draft, and so the rousing conclusion, ending with “sacred Honor,” speaks of a Creator-God as the “Supreme Judge” of us all and as the source of “divine Providence.” Thanks to this legislative compromise, the Declaration offers up a “Nature’s God” Who also knows and cares about each of us. Through most of our history, such compromises between modern and Christian Americans have considerably reduced the distance between Christian and modern views of the person’s natural and theological environment. {full post}
[via The New Atlantis]

Independence Day: Celebrating Courage to Challenge the Situation
[via The Situationist]

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Geometry of Love, If You Imagine...

And so there I was, awkwardly trying to convey why I find this reassuring, why I find "We can't know" so much more pregnant with hope than "We don't know," when I suddenly realized that I hadn't yet named the reason or the source for that hopefulness, and that trying to do so might sound like nothing more than one more hollow, funeral-week platitude.

Flatland is a fine little parable as far as it goes, an invaluable illustration of geometry and physics and of finite creatures' inability to grasp the infinities that surround them, but it has little to say about love. And while there is much that we do not and cannot know, if you want to know what I think or guess or believe or hope, it is this: The universe is governed by love.

"Love?" the tesseract says. "That's nonsense. There's no such thing as love, only ..." {full post}
[via slacktivist]

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Lots To See

[via Indexed]

Friday, June 26, 2009

Toxic to Democracy: Conspiracy Theories, Demonization, & Scapegoating
by Chip Berlet

A Brief History of Modern Fantasy Literature, p. I

A Brief History of Modern Fantasy Literature, p. II
[via Levellers]

Mere Mortals

Our kings and queens have changed quite a bit over the years. We’ve shifted from having political rulers as our kings, to crowning our artists to be our kings and queens. Which seems to be the way people go, isn’t it? I mean a while ago I read a quote that said “Artists are the prophets to this generation.” Think U2 and Sir Paul, and even individuals like Madonna. They speak to these generations of the needs of life be it in me or in Africa. Perhaps the next step is that artists are the Kings and Queens to this generation. I mean it’s happened before right?

Prophets are never enough, besides they get noisy and rub the wrong way. What we want is a king, to tell us what to think, what to do, how to dress, how to behave. I think in more ways than we care to admit, Michael Jackson was a king.

It helps us to be reminded that these kings are mere mortals.
And so we recognize that indeed, the king is dead.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Star Trek: Science Fiction for Progressives
[via Levellers]

Making an Impact

When you see a title "My Favorite Story About My Mom" there are certain expectations. Images of hugging and flowers come to mind. Perhaps the smell of your favorite home-cooked meal, or knowing that mom will always be there for you. Yes, these are tender memories. Yet, they have nothing to do with my favorite, now iconic, story about my mom....{continue...}
[via Stacy from Louisville]

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Patriot’s Bible and Justified Torture
[via Christus Victor Ministries]

Otherwise Unheard

Nature does not obey the call of the drum -
and yet, in the dissonant resonance
emerge harmonies otherwise unheard. {full poem}
[via frenetic peace]

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Benign and Objective Translations?

Before I go on, there's a bit to say.

First, Hitler translates Hebrews. His is an entirely neutral and benign and objective translation too. His supreme German is dynamically equivalent to the original Greek. There's not a hint of a whiff of the horrors of holocaust in it. No propaganda. No agenda. No bias. No racism. No rhetoric. No sexism.

No? You don't believe that? {continue...}
[via Aristotle's Feminist Subject]

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Who's Really Innocent? Who Deserves Salvation?

I was reminded of how conservative Christians seemed to find Mel Gibson's Passion film meaningful mostly because of the ill-treatment that Jesus suffered during and before the crucifixion. I found it very interesting that those who pointed to the Roman's mistreatment of Christ were the most silent or even approving of Bush's torture regime. Not a new observation, but in yesterday's conversation, this idea was articulated most clearly when some one noted that perhaps conservative Christians saw a difference between torturing the Son of God and torturing someone who openly wanted to kill innocent people. I think that statement reflects a lot of the belief in conservative America....

Thinking about these two thoughts--the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, and the issue of how we respond to others (yes, even those who profess to do evil)--and I have to say that I think the conservative theology is missing a pretty key element. I am no theologian, but isn't the power of the Easter story that Jesus gave himself as a sacrificial lamb for all of humanity? Isn't it based on the idea that he didn't deserve to die, but we all do? That we do not deserve grace or salvation, but he extends it to us anyway?

To go from that story to suggesting that it might be ok to mistreat others based on what they "deserve" strikes me as missing the point. {full post}
[via Streak's Blog]

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sympathizing With Our Weaknesses

Hebrews 4:15-16: "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

This passage indicates that Jesus in "all points" was tempted as we are, so I would like to make the following point. A spirit being (God) taking on physical form and human weakness (flesh) must die. This is a suicidal impulse, but a suicidal impulse with a purpose . . . to learn what it means to be human. {source}
and elsewhere
Indeed, if Jesus was truly tempted by every possible human emotion, then he must have been tempted by the thought of nullifying his existence, of laying down the guardianship of human life. In this sense, the cross might have been Jesus's relief from suffering, as well as his redemption of suffering. Jesus was able to give into thanatos finally, because through death of flesh came the birth of new spirit. Now, I'm not suggesting people go out and start killing themselves to emulate God....We are the aftermath of Christ's suicide, and no mentally ill person should feel ashamed for having had thoughts that tempted even Christ himself. {source}
[via Against Biblical Counseling]

As Christ Also Loved...

[via Emotional Abuse And Your Faith, from this post]

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Our Own Kingdoms

We live in a world with political and economic systems that continue to crumble. We have religious and theological ideas and structures that are insufficient to make sense of it all. Jesus knew this over 2000 years ago. It is why he came to reveal and found a Kingdom that was not dependent on the Kingdoms of the World. Humanity rejected that message and rejected that Kingdom not because they first hated God, but because that Kingdom threatened the stability of their own Kingdoms and asked everyone to give up their own self-preservation in these Kingdoms in order to pursue a different one of God's creation. Clinging to their own Kingdoms, they killed Jesus - an act which is the ultimate expression of human sin and idolatry.

If we fuse and confuse our own Kingdoms with that which Jesus came to found, and if we cling to our own Kingdoms to maintain some kind of privilege status in the world, where we will go when they crumble either through human error, or by the very wrath of God that ripped open the Temple curtain on Good Friday? {full post}
[via Notes From Off-Center]

Legacy of Rwanda's genocide: more assertive international justice
[via The Christian Science Monitor, HT: Kruse Kronicle]

Matrix Revisited

Monday, April 06, 2009

There Will Be Resistance, But...

As a preacher, I never know what to do with Palm Sunday. It's fun to sing and dance, but I know where things lead. Making a big deal about Jesus' triumphal entry seems rather beside the point, when I know that Good Friday is on the horizon.

But the Gospels tell this story nonetheless, maybe as a reminder to us that we're often fickle, getting pulled along by the crowd, this way and that. In that telling of Jesus' story, we find him riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. To us riding a donkey might not make an impression, but for first-century Jews, it may have called to mind a prophetic word of hope. It's quite likely that Jesus intentionally acted out Zechariah's prophetic word that one day a king would ride triumphantly into the city on a donkey, bringing with him the promise of peace for all nations, even as he extended his rule to the ends of the earth (Zech. 9:9-10).

So, as the people began to hear that the teacher from Galilee was riding into town on a donkey, they must have wondered – Is this the one? Indeed, is this the one who will wrest dominion from the hated Roman oppressors and restore freedom to God's people? With those thoughts in mind, it's no surprise that the people responded by shouting hosanna and by spreading palm branches out in front of him.

As we consider this scene, we need to consider another one, because it's quite possible that as Jesus was entering the city through one gate, the Roman governor was riding into the city through another gate astride a war horse. So, here we have it – two visions of reality. One vision lifts up peace, while the other focuses on domination. We're fickle. We'll give peace a chance, but only for a moment, because when push comes to shove, we're likely to embrace Caesar. It's safer, after all!

...The message of Holy Week, which we enter this morning, is this: Whether it's sticks or stones, or names, we have been called to a ministry of word and service, and no matter what comes our way, God is there to sustain us in our ministry. As we go forth into the world, we don't go alone. There will be resistance, but God and not Caesar will prevail. So be strong, stand firm! {full post}
[via Ponderings on a Faith Journey]

Palm Sunday: Anti-Imperial Street Theatre
[via Levellers]

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Generosity...and Markets

There are two basic questions every society has to wrestle with: “How many of which things shall we produce today?” and “On what basis shall things be distributed?” Theologians almost invariably dwell on the second question to the exclusion of the first. The mindset is that material goods simply exist. The only obstacle to abundance is greed and lack of generosity. If we were just more giving, then inequities would just melt away.

But material goods do not simply exist....

The basic question is not generosity but how rather how do we create a mutually advantageous cooperative venture that both justly produces and distributes abundance. Generosity and markets are essential to such a venture. {full post}
[via Kruse Kronicle]

In Religious Dress

The Bible is a rich field of story and image, the most fertile bed of the imagination of the West. I have no problem with allegories and analogies drawn from Biblical models. But it seems to me a perverse misreading of the Bible to treat its stories as if they were themselves allegories of politics in religious dress.

I was once in a group of earnest young people wrestling with how to understand the mystical experience of God. One young man, not really in sympathy with the project, said it would be easy to find out: just go into the desert and fast for forty days. If you had a mystical experience, then it was real. This was such a perversely backwards way of understanding mysticism that we were left speechless. If you go into the desert and fast, but are not earnestly seeking God, you are not recreating the absolutely vital core of the desert mystics' experience. {full post}
[via Gruntled Center]

Friday, March 20, 2009

To An Impossible Situation That Shouldn't Last Forever

I'll give the pope some credit here. He's certainly right that getting men to stop cheating on their wives en masse - as is the custom in many African ethno-linguistic groups, especially those in which having sex with a nursing mother is a cultural taboo - would certainly abate the spread of HIV. As would ending the practices of polygamy, marrying off twelve-year-old girls, and the use of rape as a weapon of war.

But the pope doesn't know what he's talking about. Only someone who's never set foot in an African hospital would claim that condom use doesn't help fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Because it does. It works. When a country increases access to information about and reduces the cost of condoms, its HIV rate goes down. This is not in dispute. It works especially well when you hand out condoms in conjunction with campaigns that encourage teenagers to abstain and husbands to be faithful to their wives. But access to condoms is a key part of the strategy.

...The reality of the situation pushes aside ideals and pontifications from on high. It forces an immediate, imperfect response to an impossible situation.

It would be great if the pope's vision of fidelity replaced the need for condom distribution in much of sub-Saharan Africa. The cost-prohibitive nature of all forms of contraception and disease-prevention mean that these programs are almost completely dependent on donor financing. That money won't last forever. There will have to be long-term, local solutions to these problems. But those kinds of cultural changes take a lifetime to implement. Given that there is no evidence that condom distribution increases promiscuity - or the HIV/AIDS seropositive rate - in sub-Saharan Africa, it's ridiculous to claim that these programs do more harm than good. And the at-risk people of Cameroon and Angola and Kenya and the Congo can't wait for norms to shift. I wonder if the pope thought of that. {full post}
[via Texas in Africa]

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stereotypes and Status

As many of you know, Mark Driscoll, pastor of the Mars Hill Church in Seattle, has been causing quite a stir among Christian writers, thinkers, bloggers, and church leaders. I thought I'd wade into these waters as a Christian research psychologist and offer up some thoughts on Mark Driscoll.

The aspect of Driscoll's ministry that I'd like to focus on is Driscoll's thesis regarding the place of masculinity within Christianity. This "Macho Man" emphasis is the most provocative and controversial aspect of Driscoll's ministry....

When you listen to Driscoll much of what he is talking about has more to do with traditional gender role interests than agenic personality. Changing the oil in my car, shooting guns, and loving NASCAR are, stereotypically, male gender role interests. And Driscoll has a point that none of this is intrinsically unChristian. The trouble comes when issues of gender role interest get confused with issues of agenic psychology. Loving Monster Truck rallies is a separate issue from psychological needs for power, control, and dominance.

Here's my point. People tend to confuse gender role interest and agenic personality motives. If "Joe Six Pack" shows up at church and gets the vibe that he "can't be a man" what, exactly, does this mean? That to be a Christian you can't drink beer or go to Ultimate Fighter matches? It seems to me that the feminine/child metaphors of Christianity are pushing back against agenic strivings rather then stereotypical gender interests. But this is not at all clear to many male believers. The two issues--gender role interests and agenic motives--are often conflated. This leads to a great deal of confusion about if "real guys" have a place at church....

A lot of the reaction to Driscoll isn't even about gender. We are actually talking about the little discussed fissure running through many churches: Education.

I see this everyday in my own church. The educated teach, preach, and have the public leadership roles. The uneducated are marginalized. Worse, if you are an uneducated male, you are force-fed those feminine metaphors. Educated males, being chickified, don't mind or even notice the feminine metaphors. But Joe Six Pack notices the metaphors. All this creates a disjoint in the church. Two groups of males who find each other alien and weird. So when Joe Six Pack wants to start a Wild at Heart study the chickified church leader just blinks uncomprehendingly. Or, if you are me, turns back to his knitting...

Let me offer up this little test for your reflection and experimentation:

If you hear a man trash Wild at Heart or Promise Keepers that person very often has a graduate degree. {full post}
[via Experimental Theology, HT: Notes From Off-Center]

Making Preparations

William P. Young's The Shack is one of those Christian buzz books right now, and in spite of the overblown comparisons by Eugene Peterson (it will not have the same effect on culture as Pilgrim's Progress? did for Bunyan's culture), I decided to read it in the interests of knowing what it is about and how to handle it. I was pleasantly surprised by the book, which presents a unique allegorical way of thinking about God. I would not recommend it as a theological text, but it is an interesting read for people who have traditionally put God in a box. It made me think about some of the ways in which I relate to God, and it is the kind of text to which I expect to return in the future, as I can see that it might have emotional or spiritual significance in various life contexts. But The Shack did make me think about the nature of allegory.
Allegorical texts always have a certain risk to them: will they will be appropriately subtle and crafted; or will they be limited by cultural expectations and concerns? There is always the possibility of this dichotomy in using allegory: Tolkien deliberately avoided using allegory because he wanted to infuse his texts with deeper significance, and he thought that allegory removed that possibility; Lewis used allegory because he thought it allowed him to reach those deeper truths. Some allegories have really spoken to me: {continue...}
[via Life of Turner]

A Few Lessons from THE WATCHMEN
[via Levellers]

Friday, March 06, 2009

Gaining Meaning

This may not be a year to observe Lent -- if you can help it. Lent is about self-denial, about giving things up. Many Americans, indeed, many worldwide, are being forced to observe this Lenten practice. {continue...}
[via Ponders on a Faith Journey]

When You're Going Bananas...

Oh the Bananamanity!
[via Picture is Unrelated]

Five Reasons Not To Give Up Something for Lent
[via ThinkChristian.NET]

Thursday, March 05, 2009

About My Ambivalence

So we are one week into Lent. I posted on Ash Wednesday about my ambivalence regarding how to observe the season this year. At this point in my life, I feel the need to build up faith instead of eliminate random habits in the name of discipline. But I really didn’t know how to do that. I finally decided to spend the season simply being more aware.

Now of course being aware could just be a euphemism for doing nothing - and it just well might be. It’s easy sometimes to open our eyes to the world around us and then fail to act upon what we see. That’s me most of the time these days. But when I’m at the point that my main goal some days is just to make it to the end of the day without having gone utterly insane from being trapped inside the house with screaming children - to open my eyes and get past my self-absorption seems like a good place to start.

So being aware…{continue...}
[via one hand clapping]

the difference between “i suck” and a truly humble heart
[via the carnival in my head, HT: Faith Dance]

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You Might Not Be Repentant If...

You might not be repentant if...

You gave up your virginity for Lent....

You might not be repentant if...

You think "fasting" means going over the speed limit. {full post}
[via J-TWO-O]

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Unspoken Obligation

I mean as married people, people that have been blessed with the gift of marriage, “complete people” if you will as evidenced by that incredibly accurate line in the move Jerry Maguire, we kind of have an unspoken obligation to get our single friends married off as fast as possible. (I prefer to get my single friends married "up" instead of "married off" because then they can say things like "I out kicked my coverage" and "I married way over my head" or the lazier but still accurate, "my wife is way hotter than me.")

But you've got to be subtle about these sorts of things....

Ultimately, the single friends you're trying to force, no strike that, encourage into marriage might remind you that in Christ, their lives are complete. If that happens, just pretend you hear you're wife calling you, "What's that? My wife needs me? My awesome, always happy, super hott with two t’s wife needs me?" And then slowly back away.

We'll get that single person next time. Oh we'll get them indeed. {full post}
[via Stuff Christians Like]

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Because There Is A Saint in Valentine's

How have we gone from a beheaded priest to a giddy worldwide day of romantic love? In a word: the widespread conviction that love is a dizzying sacrifice.

If we ponder the primary Valentine’s Day symbol, a human heart pierced by an arrow, then the connection may be easier to see. Jesus himself had famously warned that if you wish to find your life you’ll need to lose it first. Many a Romantic artist has said the same: the self must clear out for the spirit of creativity to enter. Loss of self is perceived as fulfillment of self.

Now enter the lover in love, long venerated by poets and rhapsodes of all stripes, starting with the lyrical Lesbian, Sappho herself. The lover who tries to leave reason in control, she warns, does not follow her god to the end. It is the very chaos of love, the swirl of love, that may link our modern Romantic musings to the Greeks…mediated to us, ironically enough, by the martyr-rolls of the early churches. {full post}
[via Religion Dispatches]

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Suffer Well by Depeche Mode

Where were you when I fell from grace
Frozen heart, an empty space
Something's changing, it's in your eyes
Please don't speak, you'll only lie
I found treasure not where I thought
Peace of mind can't be bought
Still I believe

I just hang on
Suffer well
Sometimes it's hard
It's hard to tell

An angel led me when I was blind
I said take me back, I've changed my mind
Now I believe
From the blackest room, I was torn
You called my name, our love was born
So I believe

I just hang on
Suffer well
Sometimes it's hard
It's hard to tell

I just hang on
Suffer well
Sometimes it's hard
So hard to tell

Friday, February 13, 2009

Turning Our Love Inward

It is we, in perverse irony, who are never fully actualized in a celebrity culture.

Soldiers and Marines speak of entering combat as if they are entering a movie, although if they try to engage in movie-style heroics they often are killed. The difference between the celebrity-inspired heroics and the reality of war, which takes less than a minute in a firefight to grasp, is jolting. Wounded Marines booed and hissed John Wayne when he visited them in a hospital in World War II. They had uncovered the manipulation and self-delusion of celebrity culture. They understood that mass culture is a form of social control, a way to influence behavior that is self-destructive....

The fantasy of celebrity culture is not designed simply to entertain. It is designed to keep us from fighting back, even, apparently, in death. {full article}
[via Alternet, HT: Mainstream Baptist]

Complexity of Valentine's Day

With all the attention given today to the bicentennial birthdays of Darwin and Lincoln, it's easy to forget that this is also Valentine's Weekend. In today's edition of Sightings Wendy Doniger of the University of Chicago writes about the complexities of Valentines Day in India -- and it's effect on women. Of course, western expressions of sexuality and religion have, over the years, effected views there. So, take a read: {continue...}
[via Ponderings on a Faith Journey]

Enriching the Future...

The reception of Darwin’s ideas has been mixed. On the one hand, almost the entire scientific world accepts the neo-Darwinian synthesis of evolutionary theory. Almost no field of modern science would be able to function in quite the same way without evolutionary thought. On the other, Darwin’s popularity among non-scientists, especially people of faith, has been mixed from the beginning. He had his defenders among Christian theologians from the outset, but also his critics. In earlier generations, most of those theological critics concentrated on the challenge of Darwinian thought to teleological and cosmological arguments for God’s existence, for the goodness of Creation, the uniqueness of humanity and of purpose to human existence. In recent decades, however, these larger questions have been downplayed in favor of biblical literalism and of pseudo-scientific attempts to justify that literalism via such oxymoronic schemes as “creation science,” and “intelligent design theory.”....

Ironically, it was Abraham Lincoln who, even in the midst of our nation’s greatest struggle for survival (both physical and as a nation of freedom and equality for ALL), created our National Academy of Sciences. He sought not only to preserve the Union physically, but to enrich its future through promotion of scientific inquiry. Origin of Species was only published in 1859 and The Descent of Man was not published until 1871, so it is unclear if Lincoln had ever heard of any of Darwin’s researches or theories. (Lincoln was self-taught, but widely read. He won his law license and admission to the Illinois Bar completely through self-study.) Yet, I think Lincoln would be disappointed that the United States today, though in many ways far more advanced than in Lincoln’s day, would take knowledge and scientific inquiry so lightly that only 39% of the public is completely convinced of biological evolution via natural selection.

Many Americans are reading more about Lincoln this year in honor of his bicentennial. It’s a good idea. But take some time out to read Darwin, too. {full post}
[via Levellers]

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Big Yellow Taxi, Bruckner's Symphonies and Scholarly Confusion Between Orality and Quantum Mechanics
[via Exploring Our Matrix]

Some routine is just a continuous loop of play.

Proverbs 12:9
Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant,
than pretend to be somebody and have no food.{continue...}
[via 97secondswithgod]

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Being sacrificial and being stolen is all about supply and demand.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Curiosity, Determination, Optimism

Why get worked up over a machine that was slowly shutting down?

It wasn’t the machine itself that we loved: the metals, the mechanisms, the scientific equipment. It was the human spirit that had sent it there, so many miles from our home, not for profit or war or necessity, but simply because there was a chance to discover something we’d never known before. So many people had dreamed, had planned, had worked to put that bit of metal on that frozen surface, and the light of the human spirit shone as bright as any star. The freezing chill of Martian winter may have caused the machine to shut down, but the spirit it embodies is still there, as strong as ever, burning bright with curiosity, determination, and optimism. {full post}
[via Deluded Wine]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day of Reckoning

President-elect Barack Obama is quite different from Reverend King. Obama has never been a pastor; he did not grow up in the segregated South; and Obama has been elected to a political office, while King held a prophetic office (by personal conviction and seeming acclamation). Yet four years may provide a sad resemblance. The chances for disenchantment seem eerily similar. If 2008 hearkens back to 1963, will 2012 be reminiscent of 1967? As so many politicians and pundits have commented, Obama will become President with more crises on his hands than fingers. His followers voted for “change” but what will change mean in manifest form?

The potential for dashed dreams and unfulfilled prophecies is high. How shall we avoid disappointment? How can we not get stuck in a nightmare of a dream? If “Yes We Can” sounds as distant in 2012 as “I Have a Dream” did in 1967, where will we turn for help? Perhaps we should turn to the words of another American prophet, W. E. B. Du Bois, and link them to the vision of King. Du Bois, who died only a day before King’s epic speech, called Americans not to dream, but to wake up. “Awake, awake” he implored Americans as the prophet Isaiah had for the Israelites. Seeing the “day of reckoning” at hand, Du Bois charged Americans to “put on thy strength.” King and Du Bois knew – and President-elect Obama knows—that faith takes works, hope demands honesty, and love needs justice. {full post}
[via Religion Dispatches, HT: Ponderings on a Faith Journey]

What Kind of People?

Tomorrow we welcome in a new President, Barack Obama, and bid farewell to another -- George W. Bush. I'm not a fan of the exiting President. I'm one of those who thinks he ranks at the bottom of the list, though where is hard to determine. Some Presidents simply didn't live long enough to make a mark (William Henry Harrison). James Buchanan was one of the most experienced Presidents ever, but he sat and did nothing as the nation moved toward dissolution. Warren G. Harding and Herbert Hoover, both did poorly. Where in that anti-pantheon will Bush fit, history will have to determine.

But at the same time, it is possible to say that we might not have been the best of people either.
We are a people given to a sense of exceptionalism, a sense that we are inherently good, and it's difficult for us to look inside and see anything else.

On the day before Inauguration Day, Martin Marty takes a look at this issue -- not so much about Bush, but about us. What kind of people do we wish to be? I think its a question worth pondering. {continue...}
[via Ponderings on a Faith Journey]

How Barack Obama Won

Something Big

[via Indexed]

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Next Symbol

With the fall of the Soviet Union, the world was left without a cold war nemesis for many years. The void is arguably still there, although “Muslim countries” have essentially taken its place as the nemesis of the West, at least in the eyes of radical conservatives (if we’re to believe the blogosphere and airhead news stations)....

The Soviets and Bush both earned their roles of global scorn buckets, but their disappearances leave an uncertain future for haters and alarmists everywhere.

Who or what will become the next symbol of global tyranny and mismanagement? Is Obama doomed to fill this role, or do you think it will be someone else? I think it will easily go to some figure other than Obama or someone in his government. The question is, will it be someone already familiar to Canadians and Americans, or will it be a new creation? {full post}
[via Abandones Stuff by Saskboy]

Monday, January 12, 2009

Not A Useful Narrative

Israel should be seen as any other nation state trying to defend itself, and should be held accountable for when they, like other nation states, over-react and cause more harm then they have to in war. In other words, the counter narrative here is not to see Hamas as some kind of "freedom fighter" going against an evil colonial regime, but to see Israel as over-reacting--perhaps understandably, but still over-reacting to terrorism. As one writer noted (lost the link) Israel has fallen into a rather dysfunctional way of responding to their enemies, and seem to have decided to respond with hatred to hate, and with killing to loss. One TMP writer compared this conflict to the Spanish Civil War where many Americans and Brits imagined (correctly) that Franco was a terrible enemy, but missed that those fighting for the Communists were hardly better. When George Orwell tried to point that out, he was shunned by those who wanted to see those battling Franco as good.

Not comparing Israel to either side, actually, but merely noting that in this particular war, good versus evil is not a useful narrative, and, I believe, stops us from getting to any kind of genuine solution. {full post}
[via Streak's Blog]

Since It's Almost Over...

President Bush's Legacy: One of Our Greatest Presidents
[via Jon Swift]

Friday, January 09, 2009

Why it is important not to love the God of the Bible
[via Ancient Hebrew Poetry]

Perfect Places To Live Out Love

“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”

And that’s it, isn’t it? We spend our time dreaming about how things could be, could’ve been, should be. We feel trapped in whatever circumstance we’re in. But the truth is that the could and the should don’t matter. The circumstances don’t matter. Those aren’t the things that trap us. It is the love and freedom which we allow (or don’t allow) for ourselves in those circumstances which traps us.

In so many ways I’ve got the “ideal” life. Yet, I’ve created this wonderful, seemingly inescapable, web of self-doubt, self-loathing, and guilt, that the “ideal” life is not ideal at all. And it’s only when I allow myself to love and be loved, allow myself the freedom to make mistakes and live and commune with others fully, that the “ideal life” will be achieved.

The “ideal life” comes when our thinking changes. When those things — demands, obligations, fears — that used to trap us and rob us of what we really wanted are, instead, viewed as the perfect places to live out our love. My kids and all of their demands and inconveniences are not preventing me from experiencing life, they are the gateway to a better kind of life than I could possibly imagine or have ever hoped for. The thing that trapped me the most can set me free. {full post}
[via VanderMeander]

Friday, January 02, 2009

Unclean but Touchable

Earlier this month we witnessed the Shoes Heard 'Round the World, when Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi chucked both of his shoes at President George W. Bush during a Baghdad press conference.

This prompted a slew of articles helpfully explaining that al-Zeidi was expressing anger at Bush -- as though his gesture had somehow been open to any other interpretation. When this quaintly exotic foreign man called the president a "dog," these articles further explained, this was also meant to express contempt. In the Arab world, the articles all said, shoes and dogs are regarded as unclean....

So here's an invitation or a challenge for the New Year: Sign up for the scavenger hunt. Take the Big List of the unclean and the untouchable and turn it upside down and inside out. Seek out those people instead of avoiding them. Touch them and let them touch you. {full post}
[via slacktivist]

From the Best Thing That Ever Happened...

But what hurt the worst was knowing
that I haven't loved well.
We are all one day from sterilizing laundromat washers
from HIV
from unemployment
from loneliness
from love
from the best thing that ever happened.
I'm sorry that I didn't remember.

Maybe in 2009. {full post}
[via biscotti brain]

What I've Become, What I've Appreciated

Welp. 2008 is almost gone. I hear echoing in my brain the many sermons I’ve heard over the years that go something like this, “Some of you have had the best year of your life, and some of you have had the worst year of your life . . .”

I’ve experienced some of both, but that’s for the violins, and I’m not into violins tonight.

What I am into is what I’ve become and what I’ve learned to appreciate this past year. I’ve become much more pessimistic and cautious. And what I’ve learned is to appreciate the endless energy and optimism and hope of youth. As I’ve become more callous, I’ve become more thankful for those who have yet to experience anything in life that would curb these qualities.

I’ve learned that energy is not wasted on the youth even though they lack wisdom gained from experience and are often reckless. {continue...}
[via Recon's Black Ops]

If we are suffering illness, poverty, or misfortune, we think we shall be satisfied on the day it ceases. But there too, we know it is false; so soon as one has got used to not suffering one wants something else.

- Simone Weil (1909 - 1943)
[quoted via Notes From Off-Center]

Unchanging Resolutions

We make resolutions because we recognize that we are not where we need to be. We become lax, lazy, tired. We fall out of good habits and into bad ones. Our good intentions never get realized. We are constantly shifting, reshaping, reforming, and it's probably not in a good way unless we reshape ourselves with purpose and determination.

God on the other hand will be making no new year's resolutions....

This New Year's as you think about all the changes you anticipate in yourself and in your life, be thankful that God's new year's day will be just like all the days that preceded it.

What do you think about that? What are you pondering this New Year? {full post}
[via The Church of No People]

The Dream Was My Path and It Ends

Life is gone, but the eyes can not see,
The ears do not hear, the faint cry of worth.
Like smoke wisps on the breath of a failing heart,
Watch as what was to be and what would be-

I’m dying, but you’ll never mourn.
I’m dying, but you’ll never see.
The dream was my heart and it’s dying.
The dream was my path and it ends.
{full poem, No Eulogy}
[via Of a Pastoral Wannabe]