"Post no less than your required postings in connection with the Week Four Online Discussion. This week your Leading Statement should address the following hypothetical:
You are a pastor or lay professional in charge of outreach at Our Redeemer Church. The chairperson of the Social Concerns Committee approaches you and relates that the committee is undertaking a study of morality in relation to homosexuality. She says that the group has been engaged in an increasingly heated debate about the authority of the Bible as it bears upon this issue.
Some in the group point to several passages in the Bible that condemn homosexuality and say these passages settle the issue. Others say this “hard boiled” approach does not square with modern ideas on this issue, which are much more tolerant, and more in line with Jesus’ command to love the neighbor. If we take these early biblical ideas as binding, they say, we may as well go back to requiring women to be veiled and quiet in church. Others are beginning to despair and think that the Bible is a “mess” and not any help at all.
Assume that you will be required to attend a meeting of this group to discuss the nature and degree of the authority of the Bible in relation to this issue. Assume also that the group will not be satisfied with just a description of the range of possible positions, but will require you to state your own personal position (NOT with respect to the substantive issue of homosexuality, but with respect to the nature of the authority of the Bible and its appropriate use in relation to this issue).
There are obviously some pastoral and congregational process issues involved in this situation, but these are not the point of this exercise, and do not use them as a means of avoiding the primary issue of biblical authority.
Well, Week Four discussion will be interesting, to say the least…
“2 days after PJ’s death a group of my friends, comics and depressives and recovering alcoholics – undertook a mission of compassion. They entered the home of our dead friend and they cleared out all the pornography. Every Playboy and VHS tape. All of it. They wanted to spare these good folks any more pain then they were already dealing with. That to me is the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God on earth, that we might clear out the pornography from our dead friends’ homes before their nice small town parents come to settle their son’s affairs. It’s small, it’s surprising and it’s a little profane but it’s the real thing.”—Nadia Bolz-Weber.
Do those things, god damnit, because nothing sucks worse than a girl who reads. Do it, I say, because a life in purgatory is better than a life in hell. Do it, because a girl who reads possesses a vocabulary that can describe that amorphous discontent as a life unfulfilled—a vocabulary that parses the innate beauty of the world and makes it an accessible necessity instead of an alien wonder. A girl who reads lays claim to a vocabulary that distinguishes between the specious and soulless rhetoric of someone who cannot love her, and the inarticulate desperation of someone who loves her too much. A vocabulary, god damnit, that makes my vacuous sophistry a cheap trick.
Do it, because a girl who reads understands syntax. Literature has taught her that moments of tenderness come in sporadic but knowable intervals. A girl who reads knows that life is not planar; she knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointment. A girl who has read up on her syntax senses the irregular pauses—the hesitation of breath—endemic to a lie. A girl who reads perceives the difference between a parenthetical moment of anger and the entrenched habits of someone whose bitter cynicism will run on, run on well past any point of reason, or purpose, run on far after she has packed a suitcase and said a reluctant goodbye and she has decided that I am an ellipsis and not a period and run on and run on. Syntax that knows the rhythm and cadence of a life well lived.
Date a girl who doesn’t read because the girl who reads knows the importance of plot. She can trace out the demarcations of a prologue and the sharp ridges of a climax. She feels them in her skin. The girl who reads will be patient with an intermission and expedite a denouement. But of all things, the girl who reads knows most the ineluctable significance of an end. She is comfortable with them. She has bid farewell to a thousand heroes with only a twinge of sadness.
Don’t date a girl who reads because girls who read are the storytellers. You with the Joyce, you with the Nabokov, you with the Woolf. You there in the library, on the platform of the metro, you in the corner of the café, you in the window of your room. You, who make my life so god damned difficult. The girl who reads has spun out the account of her life and it is bursting with meaning. She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold. You, the girl who reads, make me want to be everything that I am not. But I am weak and I will fail you, because you have dreamed, properly, of someone who is better than I am. You will not accept the life that I told of at the beginning of this piece. You will accept nothing less than passion, and perfection, and a life worthy of being storied. So out with you, girl who reads. Take the next southbound train and take your Hemingway with you. I hate you. I really, really, really hate you.
- Charles Warnke, “You Should Date an Illiterate Girl”
I think I’ve reblogged this before, but it’s always worth posting.
And I’ve seen an alternate ending floating around:
“I will not play tug o’ war. I’d rather play hug o’ war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.”—
"Paper has more patience than people..." and perhaps more power.
I’ve started writing again, just in the past few weeks - not blog posts (as you know I’ve barely touched my blogs this summer!) but story sketches and unfinished poems. I never really stopped writing, but I know I didn’t write for fun this whole last year of school. But CPE’s been hard, and I’ve felt the need to process more than usual, so suddenly I’ve wanted to write again.
“Rowling wrote Hermione to eschew stereotypes. She doesn’t end up with the hero; she is never there to function as Harry’s love interest. She prefers Arithmancy to Divination in school. Hermione is also a total badass, despite her prim and proper reputation. (…) So often, female characters are allowed to be aggressive or rebellious, but in exchange are stripped of any traditionally feminine qualities and instead are forced to pick up traditionally masculine traits. However, Hermione is never made to do that. Most notably, she is written to be highly logical AND emotionally expressive, a combination not commonly afforded to most of today’s leading ladies.”—Liz Feuerbach, The Women of The Harry Potter Universe (via writingadvice)
“When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.”
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh (Gifts from the Sea)
In spite of my inflected northern accent and my tan retardant skin, there was a time I considered myself a product of the south. Betrothed to a man born downstream of the Mason-Dixon, I spent summers netting crabs down by the water and digging up moonshine buried under the backyard shed. We took low country road trips through once confederate towns where chivalry dictates business and gas lights illuminate cobblestone streets. Here, I developed a love affair with one particular genteel southern town situated at the longitudinal point where the pavement of Maybank Highway crumbles from gravel into sand before her center line trails off into the Atlantic Ocean. This is a place where moss trees grow plenty, dripping their downy tendrils of fir to form living tunnels along back road, one-lane highways. This is a place where perspiration and porches marry sweet tea and phonographs. A place where I first learned about tides, two high and two low, who ebbed and flowed with as much predictability as day fading into night.
As a believer in faith, free will and self-guided destiny, I’ve never paid much attention to horoscopes or cosmic star alignment. I’ve never had my palms read, my aura assessed or my oracle interpreted. I’m not even sure what crystals do, but any curiosity I had was ruined when that fame-starved tabloid kid from The O.C. started talking to them in season four. But lately, I’m having a difficult time explaining the universal energy that’s calling so many of us in different directions. Tell me you feel this, too? I can’t help but feel like something larger than our latent desire for change is nagging and pushing and pulling us to respond. Something is inspiring us to act. To run, move, risk, pack, invest or concede. I don’t have to look far to see it playing out all around me.
To my left, a new friend has packed her life neatly into a trailer full of boxes hitched behind four wheels and a dream, and embarked upon a cross-country emigration for a Good Man and a chance at Real Love. To my right, an old friend has traded a corner office and a steady paycheck to chase her lifelong passion, prepared with nothing more than a sharp pair of scissors, a modest client list, a good eye and a coliseum of potential. The courage and confidence of these two women is unshakable.
There are countless others who are leaping without nets, stepping out into the dark and untethering themselves from the consolations of certainty. Casualties of the government shutdown, victims of the tornado, targets of budget cuts, patsies and pigeons of love unrequited. Some of you didn’t invite this change at all, but here you are, hopeful. I know I am hopeful. My soul is awake and I’m ready to feel again. Alive and present and engaged and ready to dance in the spectrum of life that takes place in the vast gulf between sadness and rage. It’s time to rejoin the living.
On Friday night, I walked out the door of this familiar suburban home, offered up my token teenage pre-curfew whereabouts and told my mother not to wait up. The last month has been stacked with plans and people and boats and beers and has been busier than any other summer month on record. I kissed her goodbye and promised to wear sunscreen and she interrupted the methodical rocking of her old weathered chair to lean into me and whisper, “You have a good life, you know.” And she’s right. I have a pretty great life, actually, it just took me a few weeks of slogging through the mire to feel this again.
Relationships are like tides. At their highest point, they crash into the shore in a wave of anticipation and coat our limbs with hope and promise. We float above the surface, buoyant with optimism, drifting fearlessly in our sturdy boats carved out of love. But the mistake is thinking we can stay here forever, that we can stay in any nostalgic, fleeting moment for any long period of time. But still, we will try. We will dig our heels into the sand and demand to stay Right Here, in the sea of predictability, bobbing comfortably in the safety of her flow. Because eventually (twice a day, actually) her ebb will drag us back out to sea, fill our lungs with water, leave us exhausted and alone and cursing God for trusting we could swim at all. Or maybe, cursing the partner who kept the life raft for himself.
But there is progress in treading water together and in not allowing your heart’s investment to be pulled below the surface. The real sign of strength in a relationship comes in our ability to ride these tides, to sense their rhythm and ultimately predict the moments when the waters will turn and then prepare with all our might and encourage each other to paddle.
Godly men imitate Christ—who praised the gentle and the peacemakers, who stood up for the exploited and abused, who showed compassion for the downtrodden, who valued women, and who loved his enemies to the point of death.
Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.
Today, I got caught off-guard by a patient’s question.
I should be used to the fact that patients want to know about this smiling short-haired brunette who shows up in the midst of their pain (physical and emotional) and says “Hi, I’m from Spiritual Care…”
But every time the patient suddenly turns to me and says, “So, where do you live?” ”Do you have brothers and sisters?” ”Are you in school?” ”Did you grow up here?” I go… Durrrrr…what do I do again? Because I just get into the moment and sort of forget myself.
Today a patient said:
"So are you married or what?" (He was very direct. It was a stitch.)
I answered: ”Yes, I’m married.”
(I guess technically the state of Minnesota would like me to say “I am ‘or what’.”)
(My Tumblr is about as random as my own mind - but not quite, because that would be terrifying - but there’s one thing that’s predictable, and that’s that if it’s posted on the HumbleWalk or Sarcastic Lutheran blogs, I’ll probably repost it. Today’s nothing different.)
As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.
That’s why I force myself to talk to little girls as follows.
"Maya," I said, crouching down at her level, looking into her eyes, "very nice to meet you."
"Nice to meet you too," she said, in that trained, polite, talking-to-adults good girl voice.
"Hey, what are you reading?" I asked, a twinkle in my eyes. I love books. I’m nuts for them. I let that show.
Her eyes got bigger, and the practiced, polite facial expression gave way to genuine excitement over this topic. She paused, though, a little shy of me, a stranger.
"I LOVE books," I said. "Do you?"
Most kids do.
"YES," she said. "And I can read them all by myself now!"
"Wow, amazing!" I said. And it is, for a five-year-old. You go on with your bad self, Maya.
"What’s your favorite book?" I asked.
"I’ll go get it! Can I read it to you?"
from Lisa Bloom’s “How To Talk to Little Girls,” in The Huffington Post
This gets me thinking about how I talk to the little girls in my Sunday School class - and yes, I have complimented them on how cute their dresses are.
Perhaps I will make a list of things to talk about instead.
You’ve been fearful of being absorbed in the ground, or drawn up by the air. Now, your waterbead lets go and drops into the ocean, where it came from. It no longer has the form it had, but it’s still water The essence is the same. This giving up is not a repenting. It’s a deep honoring of yourself.
“The latest Gallup poll shows that, for the first time, a majority of Americans favors marriage rights. And support will continue to surge thanks to demographics: among 18-to-34-year-olds, approval is now an overwhelming 70 percent. If Gallup polled high-school students, it would need a category called “Why are you even asking?”—Bill Keller, “Solving the GOP’s Gay Marriage Problem”
"You didn’t mention God.” - a comment on my first chapel talk
For a year I’ve not written the word, baptizing a Jewish G-d in the name of doubting what I have proclaimed.
We speak too casually of Who is so deep and wide. We speak too cruelly of Who is the source of Love. So I would not speak anymore in His name.
Who is this God of whom I dared not speak or write?
Warrior red in tooth and claw, slaughterer of Egypt’s children, raining fire on Gomorrah?
Guider of the invisible hand leaving well-crafted watches in woods?
Distant clockmaker, great Physicist, puller of atomic strings?
Omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, First Mover, Prime Being, He beyond all knowing?
Never did the gods of white and western men find permanent thrones in my heart’s gold chapel.
For years I supplicated Son and Spirit alone, denying space to the Father of the fathers, to a Mighty Hand in the face of mighty evil, to Exclusivity in the face of experience, to Judgment in the face of injustice.
For years I have called upon the Son who suffered and the Spirit who soars, more sure of pain and prayer than of power.
I wonder now if in my resistance to war and whitewash I have been praying to God all along.
“Ours is a God who breaks all the rules, who turns expectations on their heads, who demands more than we could possibly achieve. Ours is a God who breaks all the rules, who turns expectations on their heads, who gives us more than we could possibly ask. Let me say that again: our is a God who demands more than we could possibly achieve but gives us more than we could possibly ask. In that grace, the incredible, the unbelievable, the unattainable is the center of our faith.”—Rev. Dr. Eric Barreto, “Ours Is a God Who Breaks All the Rules”
“So I stood up and did a handstand on my Guru’s roof, to celebrate the notion of liberation. I felt the dusty tiles under my hands. I felt my strength and balance. I felt the easy night breeze on the palms of my feet. This kind of thing – a spontaneous handstand – isn’t something a disembodied cool blue soul can do, but a human being can do it. We have hands; we can stand on them if we want to. That’s our privilege. That’s the joy of a mortal body. And that’s why God needs us. Because God loves feeling things through our hands.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love
“If Christians’ only desire is to fight the culture wars and score political points, then they should continue to lean on empty rhetoric. But if they truly care about the family and the Bible, they’ll begin caring for children who desperately need a home.”—
Jason Locy, “My Take: On adoption, Christians should put up or shut up”
Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? This grasshopper, I mean - the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down - who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. I don’t know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
“God could not be reached for comment by press time, because, a spokesman says, he was helping a baseball player hit a game-winning home run, giving an old churchgoing lady the winning lottery numbers, making sure that a plane made it through the turbulence okay, helping someone survive a heart attack, and also, just for fun, creating a new animal that’s like a cross between a leopard and an alligator.”—"[G-d] Caught Backing Multiple GOP Candidates for President"
I went to Saint Olaf planning to become a choir teacher. I declared my major in Music Education well before I bought extra-long twin bed sheets. I took the requisite exams, signed up for the correct first semester classes - keyboarding for three hours a week, theory for the same, individual piano and voice lessons. I slaved over theory homework, once spending three hours diagramming chords before going next door and having Sarah look over it only to say: ”You did this all wrong.”
You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let thesoft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting– over and over announcing your place in the family of things.
CPE doesn’t so much send us out into the real world but throws us out there. We walk into rooms full of strangers and smell the smells of sickness and accident. It has never occurred to us that we may not have the stomach for this, and we learn to keep vomit bags in the car or locker. We are, with all our puppyish best intentions, nevertheless inflicted on the people we hope to help, trying desperately not to let our profound awkwardness and insecurity cause the people to whom we hope to minister more stress than they are already under. We are expected to be deeply present and also to be invisible. After a long, exhausting day we rush home in the brutal heat to shower away the smells of the hospital and to prepare dinner, then to sit at the computer and get our verbatims done. We launder our work clothes and fall into bed for six hours’ of sleep before rising at dawn and girding our loins for another go in the trenches of ministry.
We attend supervision group with mentors who pointedly question us and with peers who– if they’re good and caring peers — call us on our pretensions or challenge our theology. If we cry about our failures, we are quietly handed and tissue and expected to give our attention to the next person in the circle. We learn that it is not about us, but about those whom we serve, and we learn to cry not for ourselves but for them. We learn to swallow our shame and move on, and it is in this that we learn that God is the only minister and we but pale imitations and weak vessels. We learn that it is not we who minister but we who are privileged to witness to, and to speak on behalf of, the presence of the living God in our midst. We learn that we are fools but that God is real, and thus our vocation takes on a deeper dimension of mystery and awe. Oh, and plus… we pay a buttload of money in tuition to earn that dimension of awe!
She was driving me home from a birthday party. I was sitting in the backseat, strapped into whatever contraption was used for toddlers in 1988. I’d received a balloon animal at the party - some sort of blob with wings - and was playing with it.
Mom was struggling; she’d been raised Catholic but had left the church in ‘69, and we didn’t worship anywhere at the time. I’d been baptized (Roman Catholic, by my uncle Father Maynard) and she was trying to figure out how to raise me with a sense of Christian faith without a lot of dogma and doctrine.
Somehow the topic of G-d came up; she doesn’t remember how.
I responded and referred to G-d as He.
Mom looked in the rearview mirror and said:
"Emmy, do you think [G-d] is a boy?"
I looked at her and replied:
"Mom, [G-d] is like my balloon animal. If you look at it this way, it’s a butterfly. But if you turn it this way, it’s a bee."
Mom apparently pulled over, looked at me, then looked up at the sky and wondered Who is this child and where did she come from?
She decided she was going to have to read a lot more books.
And that, according to my mother, is when she knew that I was going to end up in the service of G-d.
There’s something about watching an artist create and interpret right in front of you, without the safety of editing, that feels so incredibly human and living; but human and living as an expression of the imago dei. This creative impulse, this “love and enthusiasm for something, and in a direct, simple, passionate and true way” so that “you try to show this beauty in things to others” is a direct mimic of the GOD in whose image we were created. This is the experiential essence of GOD, the very breath of resurrection; to constantly create, rebirth, interpret, bring to life those beautiful things that must be shared with all that GOD loves.
So it begs the question: why do we sanitize our process? Why do we insist on a kind of sterile perfection that comes from over-thinking, over-doing, over-editing, over-designing until the heartbeat of our expression is weak? Why do we equate artistic excellence with a final product instead of a deep and honest process?
This process is a kind of prayer and a kind of Gloria, praise of divine revelation. How fitting and appropriate to welcome it with all of it’s messy and dangerous expression into our worship.
”—Jodi Renee Adams, “Your Brain on Improvisational Worship”
We all know a few neanderthals. We know guys who still act like Mad Men characters. Others who still make cat calls as a woman is walking down the sidewalk.
And then there are the theological neanderthals - a judgmental accusation for sure - but in our hearts we believe it’s true. The people who say they take the Bible literally but we know they don’t. The ones who spew theology that’s been refuted for generations. I for one totally judge people who still point out the verses that “prove” that I cannot serve the church because I have ovaries.
… I would like to confess before you and God that I am impatient with my brothers and sisters in faith. I am probably most impatient with “people who should know better.” The neanderthals? They don’t bother me as much as those who’ve had opportunities to move and grow but they chose not to do it. It seems just fine where they are on the journey- often parked at a very comfortable rest stop.
”—Jan Edmiston, “Evolution Week: Confessing Snarkitude,” at A Church for Starving Artists
And I thought, doesn’t the Church have anything better to do? Isn’t this exactly why people never turn to the Church when they are in real spiritual need? The world — people, real human beings — see the Church as a bizarre organization full of angry people bent on putting society into a strangle-hold to preserve some artificial traditional values as though they originated on Mt Sinai. Is this what the Kingdom of God has become all about? People so focused on gaining power over others, controlling TV, schools, making laws about who other people can or cannot love and build families with? Since when has Jesus’ commission been to become the “God police”? No wonder nobody outside the Church takes the Church seriously.
After five days back in the house of my childhood, caring for my sick father, I see now my teenage attraction to sci-fi and fantasy.
I grew up a loner; even when surrounded by friends I felt separated from everything. I felt uncool and purposeless. I wanted to connect with G-d but couldn’t bridge the gap. And I bore the burden of a father who was very sick - mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Being able to slip into a totally different world was intoxicating.