Monday, November 14, 2005

impossible balancing act

Ever since motherhood, I have been approaching life as a balancing act. I’ve been searching for the magical formula that will give me just the right balance between home-life, family-life, career-life, volunteer-life, church-life, etc. When I get too much of one and not enough of the others, I start feeling out of control, unbalanced. I lose track of some of the balls. I feel I need to regroup and try to figure out the formula again. And usually the new formula works for a time, it’s fresh, it’s fun, and it’s exhilarating!

And so my life has had this pattern of trying to arrange the balls just so, putting them up in the air, juggling them for a while until I start losing some of them. I’m at the end of a cycle again and it’s been family-life that has suffered. As I was discussing my dilemma with my pastor, he suggested that searching for balance probably wasn’t the answer. Apparently, I need to rethink my whole strategy for life!

I recently heard an interview with a soldier. He said it was sometimes very difficult to compartmentalize his soldier-life and his home-life, especially when he is on the cell phone with his wife and she’s talking about her “bad” day with unruly kids and he’s thinking about his “bad” day cleaning up dead bodies. Compartmentalization was necessary for him to focus on the task at hand or he might get shot. But the cost is high as it wreaks havoc on relationships because the whole person is never completely present.

I struck me that this is what I’ve been doing. I hadn’t been thinking of it as compartmentalization, but as I’m juggling, I’ve really been assigning out pieces of myself to get the tasks done. And when I’m working on one task, another part of me is usually occupied with lists that need to be completed for other tasks. I’m rarely wholly involved with the task or relationship or situation at hand.

So I think my new strategy for life is wholeness. Now I need to go figure out what that means.


Just started a new family hobby called geocaching. I'm totally hooked!

Friday, November 04, 2005

our endangered values

Heard a really good interview on NPR with Jimmy Carter. He has a new book out - Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis. In the interview he talks about (and I found myself agreeing with):
  • separation of church and state
  • women in church
  • intelligent design
  • fundamentalism

A fundamentalist believes I am uniquely related to God. And my own opinions are derived from heaven and they must be therefore right. And anyone who disagrees with me, by definition, is wrong. Because I speak for God, therefore I must be right. And anyone who disagrees with me is not only wrong, but inferior. - Jimmy Carter's definition of a fundamentalist

Oh and he also adds that fundamenlists are usually male and tend to subjugate women - no wonder I've got a problem with them.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

resident evil

article I'm working on for this weekend's TJ blog

Then he called the crowd again and said to them, 'Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.'

When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, 'Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?' (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, 'It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.' - Mark 7:14-23 (NSRV)

Every day, scientists are discovering susceptibilities to physical and mental illnesses that are encoded in our make-up and that outside influences can either increase or decrease these susceptibilities. In raising children, you discover that your child is born with a personality and that outside influences can help bring out the best or the worst in that personality.

Jesus also reminds us that evil resides in us, that it is part of our make-up. We cannot blame outside influences for the existence of this evil. What outside influences can do is make it very hard for us to overcome our resident evil. Outside influences give us plenty of opportunity to feel justified in our evil intentions, where we can hide them under the guise of retribution, security, or righteous indignation.

But what can we do to keep this evil in check? Frankly not much without God's help. We have been given a path to follow in Jesus and his life. We have been given words of wisdom to consider. It requires a tremendous attitude adjustment from the expectations of society. Instead of being encouraged - "don't worry, be happy", we're instructed - "don't fret". That seems like a weak response to evil, but I think it means that we shouldn't let the evil out in the world, feed our resident evil or it will lead to our undoing.
Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him;
do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
over those who carry out evil devices.
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
Do not fret - it leads only to evil.
For the wicked shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land. - Psalm 37:7-9 (NSRV)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

separation of church and state

Why, oh why can't Matt Santos be president. I suppose the fact that he's a fictional character on The West Wing could be a problem. I just watched the episode (Mr. Frost) where he talks about his stance on the separation of church and state and I just wish real politicians could sound so reasonable.

Here's an excerpt from a scene of Matt Santos on his views of the separation of church and state from

Santos is speaking about education to a classroom full of parents and teachers. He finishes his speech and starts to take questions. The first one comes from a tenth-grade science teacher, who asks him bluntly, "Do you believe in the theory of intelligent design?" Santos tells her, "As a Catholic who attends church every Sunday, I do believe in God, and my faith tells me that there was a designer
behind it all." The next question comes from an English teacher at the school, who asks Santos whether he believes in the theory of evolution. Santos tells him that he thinks it would be pretty hard to teach much of science without evolution, and that he does believe in it. He continues, "I don't think it's contradictory to believe in science and believe in God." The English teacher goes on to ask whether Santos thinks that intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution in public schools. Santos: "Absolutely not. One is based on science, and one is based on faith. Intelligent design is not a scientific theory. It's a religious belief."

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Listened to interview on Fresh Air with Peter Manseau, the author of Vows. Liked some of the things I heard:

  • celibacy is about the way the church thinks about sex, the body and women

  • there is nothing defensible that women cannot be priests

  • his practice of faith is to learn other people's stories of faith

NPR interview - A Family of 'Vows': The Son of a Priest and a Nun
Peter Manseau's website -

searching for God knows what - part I

My husband and I recently watched In Good Company. The film is about a young executive on the fast track. In a corporate merger, he takes over the management job of someone much older and more experienced and that older person is demoted and has to work for the young guy. The young guy is all about his career, his house, his car, and his status to the detriment of his marriage, his social life, and his health. The young guy is not as ruthless in pursuit of the bottom-line as his superiors, but he feels the pressure and does what he feels has to be done (firing employees and having his team work longer hours). Through a relationship with the older man's daughter, the young man begins to understand the goals he has set for his life may not bring true fulfillment.

I didn't get it while I was watching, but I realize my career at IBM mirrored many aspects of the young man's career. I was on the fast track. When I became a manager, I was younger than any of my employees. I was all about making it in a man's world, high performance appraisals, being respected, and a strong work ethic. I thought I was fair, but in retrospect I think I was pretty ruthless. I didn't understand people who didn't put career first. If I didn't respect the ideas of someone else, I would railroad over them if they were in my way or I would simply ignore them. The rewards were promotions, praise, and travel, but the drawbacks were a failed marriage, lack of social skills, and an unhealthy lifestyle.

I'm lucky; I'm living my second chance. But I sometimes miss the rewards of my previous life. I wonder why it is so difficult to be satisfied doing good work without desiring praise and to make sacrifices instead of wanting more. I've started reading Donald Miller's Searching for God Knows What and his interpretation of the fall from Genesis blew me away.

Reading Genesis has always been a problem for me. I can believe in the science of evolution. I have problems with a universe created in 6 days, a Garden of Eden, Eve created from Adam, a tree of life, a serpent that speaks, the fall of humankind. And, of course, it irks me that Eve bears so much of the burden for this fall. So, I have been categorizing this story as a myth devised to explain creation in ancient times and ignoring it. Donald Miller has me thinking about it again.

Man is wired so he gets his glory (his security, his understanding of value, his feeling of purpose, his feeling of rightness with his Maker, his security for eternity) from God and this relationship is so strong, and God's love so pure, that Adam and Eve felt no insecurity at all… But when that relationship was broken, they knew it instantly. All of their glory, the glory that came from God, was gone… All of the insecurity rises the instant you realize you are alone.

If man was wired so that something outside himself told him who he was, and if God's presence was giving him a feeling of fulfillment, then when that relationship was broken, a man would be pining for other people to tell him that he was good, right, okay with the world, and eternally secure. - Searching for God Knows What, pgs. 70-71

I do believe there is something missing in our make-up that we are looking for to make us whole. It's the basis of religion. Scientists have puzzled over it. B.F. Skinner thought it could be generated with behavior modification. Maslow put it at the top of his human needs hierarchy and labeled it self-transcendence. Sigmund Freud described it as our unconscious mind. All these explanations provide insight into this missing element, but none have thoroughly explained or fixed it.

So I can appreciate the idea that we're wired to know our creator, to understand our creator's will for us, and to find fulfillment in this relationship. I get that somehow our connection to our creator got damaged or broken. I don't understand how this happened, but I see that it causes us to not feel whole. It's obvious to me that we spend our lives looking for wholeness, fulfillment, and security to fill this void. It explains a lot of stupidity in the world.

I'll leave you with Donald Miller's synopsis of this stupidity in the form of a visiting alien's report on humans.

Humans, as a species, are constantly, and in every way, comparing themselves to one another, which, given the brief nature of their existence, seems an oddity and for that matter, a waste. Nevertheless, this is the driving influence behind every human's social development, their emotional health and sense of joy, and sadly their greatest tragedies. It is as though something that helped them function and live well has gone missing, and they are pining for that missing thing in all sorts of odd methods, none of which are working. The greater tragedy is that very few people understand they have the disease. This seems strange as well because it is obvious. To be sure, it is killing them, and yet sustaining their social and economic systems. They are an entirely beautiful people with a terrible problem. - Searching for God Knows What, pg. 92

Thursday, October 20, 2005

embracing diversity

I went to a same-sex wedding celebration at a Unitarian Church this past weekend and it was amazing. The diversity represented at this church and at the ceremony was awesome. There were different ages, different races, different couples and family types, all experiencing a religious ceremony in an encouraging and non-judgemental way.

I have been to a few Unitarian services in the past and found the lack of a single theological foundation uncomfortable for me (they pull pieces and parts from a range of theological and philisophical thoughts). However, their commitment to embracing diversity is solid and something my church, my denomination and well, practically ever other denomination out there needs to learn from.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Honduras mission trip

I think I found the message I was searching for in "Heaven's Here On Earth". The video is my interpretation based on video footage and images from a recent Honduras mission trip (no I wasn't there).

Thursday, October 06, 2005

is this real?

My hubby showed me this link this morning and at first I thought it must be an internet spoof, but maybe not. Anyway, interesting read.

Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible

Thursday, September 29, 2005

heaven's here on earth

You can look to the stars in search of the answers
Look for God and life on distant planets
Have your faith in the ever after
While each of us holds inside the map to the labyrinth
And heaven's here on earth
We are the spirit
The collective conscience
We create the pain and the suffering and the beauty in this world
Heaven's here on earth
In our faith in humankind
In our respect for what is earthly
In our unfaltering belief in peace and love and understanding
Look around
Believe in what you see
The kingdom is at hand
The promised land is at your feet
We can and will become what we aspire to be
If heaven's here on earth
If we have faith in humankind
And respect for what is earthly
And an unfaltering belief that truth is divinity
And heaven's here on earth
I've seen spirits
I've met angels
I've touched creations beautiful and wondrous
I've been places where I question all I think I know
But I believe
I believe
I believe this could be heaven
We are born inside the gates with the power to create life
And to take it away
The world is our temple
The world is our church
Heaven's here on earth
If we have faith in humankind
And respect for what is earthly
And an unfaltering belief in in peace and love and understanding
This could be heaven here on earth
- Tracy Chapman

I just rediscovered this song and I find myself listening it to it over and over again, like there's a message in it for me that I'm supposed to decode. Thank goodness for headphones.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


I found a post about GodBlogCon 05 and it sounded interesting, so I went to their site. But then on the site I read this and was completely turned off.

Because GodBlogCon is a Christian conference, participation will be also be limited to those who affirm the historical and Biblical Christian faith.

I guess I can't go because I'm not sure what that even means. And why do they feel the need to exclude on that basis anyway - not up to a challenge?

.. many Christian institutions have a system by which you find out whether you're in or out. Sometimes it's rules; sometimes it's a certain belief system. - Richard Foster, The Making of a Christian interview at Christianity Today

Why do so many Christian institutions feel the need to exclude?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


I love the idea of a new kind of conversation, so I tried it out myself. Yikes - it's kind of scary putting my writing out there for scrutiny.

So I love this idea because I had it myself this summer. My family of origin (mom, dad & brother) are collaborating on a book and I setup a blog to post our writing and as a mechanism to give feedback since we're not in close proximity to one another. At some point, we think we'll also make it more widely available to get feedback from others. The theme of the book is a family album of reflections on counter-cultural themes in Christianity. Sound interesting?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Enemy Women

Just finished Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles. It's an interesting read that intersperses actual correspondence from the Civil War with the tale of a young southern woman's journey during this period in history.

The world was in truth made of jackstraws. The world was very combustible, the human body was partible in ways heretofore unimagined. What held the civilized world together was the thinnest tissue of nothing but human will. Civilization was not in the natural order but was some sort of willed invention held taut like a fabric or a sail against the chaos of the winds. And why we had invented it, or how we knew to invent it, was beyond him.

Source: Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles, pg. 297

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

nothing worthwhile?

behind your eyes, you hide a thousand sighs
behind your pretty smile
there’s nothing worthwhile that makes you happy
there’s nothing worthwhile, fills you completely
there’s nothing worthwhile that touches deeply
there’s nothing worthwhile that brings you peace

Nothing Worthwhile (Rachel Fuller)

I find I am constantly asking myself, how in the world did I get caught up in this Christianity thing again. As a religion, it still has so many problems: gender discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, intolerance, extremism, hypocrisy, and the list goes on. Have I been somehow brainwashed by my parents, by my pastors, by my church community, by my addiction to reading emerging church blogs?

When I listen to the song Nothing Worthwhile by Rachel Fuller, I keep coming back to Christianity (being a follower of Christ), as my spiritual path, being worthwhile and that the truly worthwhile things in my life all require work and sacrifice (and thus the occassional need to re-justify them to myself):

  • being a spouse is worthwhile

  • being a mother is worthwhile

  • being a follower of the example Jesus set is worthwhile

While juggling these things can sometimes make me feel sad, unfulfilled, lonely and in turmoil, because they are worthwhile they also bring me happiness, fulfillment, connection and peace.

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Jesus & Hospitality

Images for this weekend. Source photos downloaded from the Houston Chronicle.

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Monday, September 05, 2005

A Walk in the Woods a.k.a. Exercising My Demons

I wish the demons could be exorcized, but I’m afraid that all they got was a good workout. We are on our "active" vacation (tie-breaker tennis match, hiking Mount Rogers, cycling the Virginia Creeper). And even though I’m a little sore this morning it has been a good time. However, earlier in the weekend, I was in a funk. I think my brain’s defense mechanisms had finally broken down in the face of the Katrina disaster. The images I’ve seen and the articles I’ve read have been horrifying. I read an article one morning that put me over the edge. It was about the abysmal conditions at the SuperDome and the depravity that some humans beings had resorted to. During my walk in the woods, I began processing some of the thoughts and emotions that I was struggling with.

Of course, I am angry that disaster planning for Katrina has seemed so poor and disaster relief so late. I want to yell at God and say fix it. Can’t you see people are suffering? Go and open people’s eyes to the good they could be doing or to the bad they should stop. But then I realize that would take away our gift of free will.

What really scares me is when I imagine if it had been me and my son stuck in New Orleans. What if the conference we had attended last week had been there? What if we were stuck in the SuperDome? My demons have reminded me that I could probably sink to depths unknown to protect my son.

What has struck me about New Orleans is how fast order has broken down and chaos has ensued. Just a matter of days. Is our orderly existence really so fragile or is it virtual reality? I think the demons must be at work here. I’m not talking about little red guys with horns, I’m talking about denial in the face of disaster, the scales on our eyes that show us only half-truths, and the blinders we put on to get through the day unscathed by reality. Because of our free will we are capable of almost anything.

I’ve seen a rich man beg
I’ve seen a good man sin
I’ve seen a tough man cry
I’ve seen a loser win
And a sad man grin
I’ve heard an honest man lie
I’ve seen the good side of bad
And the down side of up
And everything between
~ What It’s Like (Everlast)

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

not laboring day weekend

Tom and I are going away for the holiday weekend. I love these little escapes from parenthood back into couplehood. I’m usually the trip planner and I probably would have planned something on the relaxing side, but Tom planned the whole itinerary, which means there will be lots of activity: tennis, mountain biking, hiking, etc. If I can avoid "breaking a leg", it should be a great time!

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

back to the laundry

Actually my mom's visiting and she did the laundry yesterday (yeh!).

But I am back from the Global Mission event and my son's back in school and I'm back to my part-time, low-paying, pretty enjoyable technology consulting gigs.

While catching up on my blog reading, I found some words about my blog @ Very cool - Thanks Brother Maynard!

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fear factor

One of the sessions I attended was titled "In Your Face: Teaching and Learning About Poverty" lead by a dynamic leader who was definitely in your face. In this way, he helped the group come to the following conclusions about hunger education:

  • When we try and educate about hunger, we face the fear factor - the brain’s natural defense mechanism to tag unpleasant information as fearsome or dangerous and our natural instinct of flight, fight or freeze in face of that danger.

  • Most hunger education programs are tame. They tell stories about what we’re doing and making us feel better to keep the money flowing, but in fact the money alone is not enough.

  • The more we study hunger, the harder it is to do something about. Instead do something first, and then figure it out.

  • Give people the opportunity to participate by modeling and inviting to work with you.

  • If we are honest with ourselves, there is hunger because of us. We need to stop thinking of hunger as a problem out there. It is a by-product we cause by our consumption and waste patterns.

  • Change doesn’t happen until faced with "death". That sounds pretty drastic, but someone else reminded me this week that change most often occurs after experiencing death, divorce, disease, destruction. Why wait?

We've all seen the man at the liquor store
beggin' for your change
The hair on his face is dirty, dread-locked,
and full of mange
He asks a man for what he could spare,
with shame in his eyes
"Get a job you fucking slob," is all he replies
God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in his shoes
'Cause then you really might know what it's like
to sing the blues
Then you really might know what it's like
Then you really might know what it's like
Then you really might know what's it like
to have to lose
- What It’s Like (Everlast)

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Friday, August 26, 2005

hope and despair

One of the realities of living in this post-modern world is living with paradox. It is confusing and seems to require a combination of perseverance, knowledge, and faith to deal with it. Most of the time, I find myself lacking.

Today I experienced the paradox of hope and despair. The day started with hope:

  • from an African theologian, I learned a good definition of sharing. Sharing is not “I don’t need it, you can have it”. Sharing is “I need it, but I see you need it too – let’s share”.

  • From the Director of ELCA Global Mission, I learned that mission is about restoring community. It’s not about us vs. them. It’s about taking a good look at your community and realizing that it is wanting, needing, missing, broken. That a broken community realizes it can only be made whole again by going out and restoring.

  • From a couple of young adult missionaries to Argentina for a year, I learned that that being away from everything that made your life comfortable means that you understand more than ever that God is in control, that you must live on your faith alone, that you will learn and receive more than you can give and that it is the journey with others that is important.

  • From an ELCA Mission Director, I learned that "If God wants you to do something, God has already given you what you need to get started".

And now onto despair. After this full day, I was wiped and decided to take a break at the hotel room - the really, nice up-scale hotel room. And I turned on the T.V. and found myself surfing the news channels – the big city, murder, mayhem, bad news channels. Could I be more confused and conflicted?

So, I’ve decided these are some things I need to ponder:
How do I get to the point that I am not just sharing from my wealth, but I am sharing the things that I need too?
How do I ensure an outward focus in my life? How do I encourage that in my community?
How can I break away from my comfort zones?
And what does God want me to do?

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

no more laundry

Well not forever, but I'm taking a break and attending a Global Mission event with my son. I'm hoping it will bring out some inspiration and creativity.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

women's social rights?

I just read this and I'm speechless and pissed and sad.
MR. GERECHT: Actually, I'm not terribly worried about this. I mean, one hopes that the Iraqis protect women's social rights as much as possible. It certainly seems clear that in protecting the political rights, there's no discussion of women not having the right to vote. I think it's important to remember that in the year 1900, for example, in the United States, it was a democracy then. In 1900, women did not have the right to vote. If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we'd all be thrilled. I mean, women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy. We hope they're there. I think they will be there. But I think we need to put this into perspective.

Yes, someone actually said this on Meet the Press - see transcript.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

war games

For family movie night this past weekend, we watched War Games.  I have always credited this movie with getting me interested in computers.  Now that I’ve seen the movie again, I’m not sure what my motivation was – learning how computers work or saving the world?

So yesterday, in some parking lot, my 7-year old starts this conversation:

my son – are nuclear warheads real?
me – yes
my son – have they ever been used?
me – yes
my son – when?
me – during world war II, the United States dropped 2 nuclear bombs on Japan
my son – what happened?
me – lots of people died and soon after the war ended
my son (pause) – so it’s good the war ended, right?
me (longer pause) – it was good the war ended, but I don’t think it was good nuclear bombs were created or used
my son – has anybody else used them
me – they have been tested, but not used against anybody
my son – who has nuclear weapons
me – mostly the United States and Russia, but some other countries do as well
my son – will anybody ever use them?
me (oh boy) – remember the point of the movie war games was that if nuclear bombs were used in war today, the outcome would be that nobody could win because the destruction would be too high, so most countries say they have nuclear weapons as a way to ensure they don’t get used against them (try explaining the concept of deterrence to a 7-year old, it doesn’t even make sense to me)
my son – are we making more?
me – no, I think we are trying to get rid of some because we finally figured out we had too many
my son – where are they aimed, Russia?
me – I guess most of them used to be because we thought Russia was our biggest enemy, but they probably aren’t anymore
my son – so where are they aimed?
me – I don’t know

So, it turns out ignorance is not bliss – maybe that’s why I didn’t sleep well last night.  Time to do some research – here I come wikipedia.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Word to blog

Being married to a geek is tough.  Especially when you’re a geek wannabe.  No really, I think I’m pretty geeky, but I can’t compete with the hubby.  Anytime I think I’ve found some cool tool or techie tip and I share it with the hubby, it’s old news to him.  I think the only time I’ve scooped him is on this category thing, but then he doesn’t blog so what does he care.  Now I’m trying Word to blogger – thanks honey!

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trying delicious bookmarklet

I'm liking the categories. Now I'm trying out the Super-Fast Delicious Bookmarklet to make tagging faster.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005


In Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz, he describes one of his aha moments vis-à-vis a lecture he attended about the power of metaphor. The example the professor starts out with is cancer. When we think about cancer, we think about war metaphors like battling cancer or fighting cancer. Apparently this has an unhealthy affect on cancer patients who can feel more burdened and frightened than they should because they feel "that they have been thrust into a deadly war… because of the war metaphor, the professor said, we are more likely to fear cancer when, actually most people survive the disease."

I think the war metaphor is also overused in the context of Christianity. Last week we heard about from Ephesians 6:16-17 to "take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." How about the lyrics "Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war", or the Christian Coalition tagline "defending our godly heritage". And don’t even get me started on the anti/pro language thrashing around out there. Sometimes the war metaphor is hidden under the guise of saving souls for the kingdom.

My problem with the war metaphor is two-fold. First, I find it frightening and not at all appealing. I think it can cause people to feel more burdened and frightened than they should feel about Christianity. But what I want to focus on here is that it implies winners and losers. You know you are a Christian – way to go, you are on the winning team. Not sure, so sorry – you lose. Oh and did I mention, you are now the enemy.

This week the transformation journal theme is Jesus and Perseverance. So, it’s not about winning a war, it’s about staying the course, doing your best, moving forward. It’s not about defense or offense, it’s about humility, leading by example, learning. And while there is a prize to strive for, it is not at the expense of someone else nor is it exclusive - it's available to everyone.
"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained."
- Philippians 3:10-16

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Sunday, August 14, 2005


Originally posted by me @ on July 8, 2005.

I found this week's tj difficult to get through. Like Job 2:7-10 - So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!"

He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said."

I recently read Sarah Laughed by Vanessa Ochs and I appreciated her take on Job's wife.

"Job's wife encourages you to give God a piece of your mind. Speaking the truth when what you have to say isn't nice shouldn't weaken your faith. It should sustain and if necessary, transform it, for it has kept the conversation - which might have been shut down - open. The alternative would be to cease conversation altogether, to hang up on God. That is the dark, lonely place you don't want to be."

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a Montessori approach to church

Originally posted by me @ on May 9, 2005.

I’ve been trying to follow discourse on the emerging church. It seems to be a bit of a moving target and it takes a lot of blog time to just skim the surface. But an examination of the strengths and weaknesses from Frank Viola @ caught my eye. Especially, what he states as the primary weakness –

The emerging church phenomenon has wonderfully articulated some of the major flaws of the modern church, yet like all of its predecessors, it has failed to identify and take dead aim at one of the chief roots of most of its ills.

I firmly believe that the taproot of most of the problems that plague the church in modernity is the clergy system. To put a finer point on it, Protestant Christians are addicted to the modern pastoral office. The pastor is the all-purpose religious professional in the modern Protestant church, both evangelical and mainline.

Please note that my critique is not an attack on pastors as people. Most pastors in the emerging church are gifted Christians who have a heart for the Lord and a genuine love for His people. It is the modern pastoral office and role that I believe is profoundly flawed, and few of us have ever questioned it.

Let me unpack that a bit. My experience in this country and overseas over the last seventeen years has yielded one immovable conclusion: God’s people can engage in high-talk about community life, Body functioning, and Body life, but unless the modern pastoral role is utterly abandoned in a given church, God’s people will never be unleashed to function in freedom under the Headship of Jesus Christ. I have had pastors vow to me that they were the exception. However, upon visiting their congregations, it was evident that the people did not know the first thing about functioning as a Body on their own. Neither were they given any practical tools on knowing the Lord intimately and living by His life. The reason is that the flaws of the modern pastoral role are actually built into the role itself.

The pastor, by his mere presence, causes an unhealthy dependence upon himself for ministry, direction, and guidance. Thus, as long as he hangs around delivering sermons, the people in the church to which he belongs will never be fully set free to function on their own in a church meeting setting. Further, the pastoral office typically destroys those who populate it. Jesus Christ never intended for anyone to shoulder that kind of enormous responsibility and power.

Well that is a lot to digest, but for some reason, I keep thinking about this observation of pastoral leadership. If you have been listening to Pastor John and Deb describe the new ministry structure: the fractals and leadership models, then you know Peace is headed toward empowered leaders and teams. It is an exciting time, but I think it will also be very challenging. I believe it is so difficult for even the best-intentioned pastors to equip his/her members because of the way we, the lay people, grew up learning.

I am by no means a Montessori expert, but having experienced vicariously the results of such an education on my son, I can begin to appreciate how this “radical” approach to learning could be helpful in the church. Here are some characteristics of a Montessori education and how I think they could relate to church.

Stages of Development
Montessori recognizes and values the unique needs of children at different developmental stages and integrates this understanding into the educational environment. The community of the classroom provides a safe and secure place for children to develop self-esteem and confidence, while they learn to be responsible and caring members of society.

Church leaders recognize people are at different stages in their faith journey and provide appropriate building blocks for growing faith. The church provides a safe and secure environment for exploring faith.

Child Centered
The Montessori approach challenges the conventional methodologies wherein teachers 'fill' children with knowledge. The Montessori teacher acts as a guide, an inspiration and a remover of obstacles, so children can follow their natural inclinations to explore and grow.

Church leaders act as a guide, an inspiration and a remover of obstacles so that members can follow their natural inclinations to explore and grow their faith.

Montessori philosophy emphasizes functional and intellectual independence as crucial to human development. Montessori encourages children, from the earliest ages, to use their practical and intellectual skills to meet their own everyday needs and pursue academic learning. Montessori communities promote self-sufficiency in social relationships as well; providing tools and language for children to solve conflicts and negotiate peacefully.

Church leaders encourage members to use their skills to meet the needs of the church. The church community promotes and encourages self-sufficiency.

Process versus Product
Montessori utilizes a guided discovery approach to learning. Montessori guides (teachers) present lessons to children as 'keys' to open the door to learning. Learning outcomes come about naturally, often spontaneously, sparked by student-driven interest. Montessori allows the process of learning to unfold authentically until the child is ready to demonstrate mastery.

Church leaders allow people to explore their faith authentically in a non-judgmental environment.

Skills for Life
Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just though listening, watching or reading. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation self-discipline and a quest for knowledge that lasts a lifetime. Montessori schools group children in different age groups, forming communities in which the older children mentor the younger children

The church community forms small groups where learning and mentoring take place.

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Misc. Images

Here's a set of sermon slide images I've created throughout the past year based on bible readings. At the time of creating these I didn't keep track of where the original images were downloaded.

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Romans images

Here's a set of sermon slide images I've created throughout the past year based on Romans readings. At the time of creating these I didn't keep track of where the original images were downloaded.

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Matthew images

Here's a set of sermon slide images I've created throughout the past year based on Matthew readings. At the time of creating these I didn't keep track of where the original images were downloaded.

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Isaiah images

Here's a set of sermon slide images I've created throughout the past year based on Isaiah readings. At the time of creating these I didn't keep track of where the original images were downloaded.

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Corinthians images

Here's a set of sermon slide images I've created throughout the past year based on Corinthian readings. At the time of creating these I didn't keep track of where the original images were downloaded.

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Sabbath images

image originally downloaded from stock.xchng

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I've added categories to the blog using these steps from FreshBlog.

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tempting quotes

I've recently finished Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. It is a very good read.

The theme of the transformation journal this week is Jesus and Temptation. Here are a couple of quotes from Blue Like Jazz on how we get tempted to turn our back on God.

"If you believe something, passionately, people will follow you. People hardly care what you believe, as long as you believe something. If you are passionate about something, people will follow you because they think you know something they don't, some clue to the meaning of the universe. Passion is tricky, though, because it can point to nothing as easily as it points to something."

"Here is the trick... Satan, who I believe exists as much as I believe Jesus exists, wants us to believe meaningless things for meaningless reasons. Can you imagine if Christians actually believed that God was trying to rescue us from the pit of our own self-addition? Can you imagine? Can you imagine what Americans would do if they understood over half the world was living in poverty? Do you think they would change the way they live, the products they purchase, and the politicians they elect? If we believed the right things, the true things, there wouldn't be very many problems on earth."

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Temptation images

Two of the sermon slides I made for worship this weekend:

image originally downloaded from flickr

image originally downloaded from stock.xchng

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

witness II

I’ve been caught up with labels lately: conservative vs. liberal, modern vs. post-modern, churched vs. unchurched, believer vs. seeker. Labels carry a lot of baggage that don’t necessarily apply, but that doesn’t stop us from using them. They are such a convenient way of categorizing someone and therefore trying to understand them.

When I think about what it means to be a Christian, the labels I immediately stumble on are believer vs. seeker. If forced to pick between calling myself a believer or a seeker, I would have to say that I am a seeker. Belief for me is fleeting. It's like the wisp of a smoke ring hanging in the air and then melting away. I can see it for a moment, but then it's gone and there's only the memory of it. I think that's why I blog, to make remembering easier.

Many churches are trying to reach seekers. My church is trying to reach seekers. This week our theme was Jesus and Witness. As a seeker, it makes me cringe. When I think of witness, I think of evangelism and when I think of evangelism, I think of tele-evangelists or Jehovah's Witness or worst of all hypocrites. I can't speak for all seekers, but I can tell you what kind of "witnessing" I’m looking for.

Respect my journey. Walk with me on my journey. Engage me where I am. I think my Dad provides a great example of this. He's a retired professor of theology and a Lutheran pastor. He has known since my college days that I was disillusioned with Christianity. But he respected my journey, he didn't try to block my way or change my course, instead he provides unconditional love, support and examples of Christ-like behavior.

Please don’t try to save my soul. My soul is not yours to save and I don't think you should really be worried about it. Jesus did not ask his followers to make "believers" out of all nations, he asked them to make disciples. I think one of my favorite hymns provides a good outline for making disciples by remembering:

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love

Let me be authentic. I question everything. If you know my son, it appears this may be hereditary. I need a safe environment to be authentic in, to raise my questions and doubts. I need to be comfortable showing my weaknesses, flaws, and spiritual struggles. Only then will I be able to grow.

witness I

Wow - what a bold statement! Again I found this on the journey

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

flickr test

Originally uploaded by alfarman.
My favorite blog is the journey. He is always using great photos from flickr, so I had to try it out myself.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

The vast majority of the people in the world do not live as we do. If "we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of only 100 people, it would look something like this:"

There would be
57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 North and South Americans
8 Africans
30 white
70 nonwhite
6 people would possess 59% of the world's wealth, and all 6 would be from the United States
80 would live in substandard housing
70 would be unable to read
50 would suffer malnutrition
1 would have a college education
1 would own a computer
A vast majority of the world barely survives while we thrive. Right now, 1.2 billion people in the world currently live on about $1 a day. What does it mean to pray "Give us this day our daily bread" when we possess so much already? We must consider more seriously our solidarity with the poor and hungry around the world.

Source: Theocentric

the forgiveness project

Amazing stories of forgiveness at the forgiveness project.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

what's your theological worldview?

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.



Classical Liberal


Modern Liberal


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan




Neo orthodox


Roman Catholic


Reformed Evangelical




What's your theological worldview?
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Thursday, June 09, 2005

rising ceremony

Today, I went to the rising ceremony at my son's school. It is a really neat tradition where the kids rising to the next level are taken through an arch by the children at that level. This year a poem read by a middle school teacher really got to me (and I always forget to bring tissue):

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children."

And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

-- Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


We are currently preparing a message from the Transformation Journal on Jesus and Work. This has struck home for me this week on two fronts:

1) I read a blog entry - volunteer webmasters should quit. Well this is what I do, so I was curious and there are definitely some valid points. I feel blessed that I am able to do as much volunteering as I do and I enjoy the "work", but maybe because I came from the corporate world, it is sometimes difficult to feel like I'm doing legitimate work - I really don't like getting asked what I do for a living. I also feel like I walk a fine line with the level of empowerment I'm given or perceive that I have to make decisions. I have decided to start tracking my hours and invoicing the church, so we all have an idea of what I'm contributing.

2) I just started reading Father Joe based on comments I read at Theocentric. Up to page 53 and so far so good. Here's a quote related to work:

But work in the Benedictine tradition, enjoyable or not, exalted or humble, is in no conflict with the spiritual. Indeed, it too is prayer, a principle best expressed in the classic Benedictine dictum Laborare est orare - "To work is to pray." There is no separation between work in the sense of secular, non-spiritual toil and the spiritual in the sense of uplifting relief from its tedium. Benedictines were the first people in history to claim that work is sacred.

Source: Father Joe by Tony Hendra, p. 45.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

chart God?

Found this on a the journey blog recently. I know I am guilty of trying to chart God, layout a plan, create a formula. I guess that's why on our journey to our call, a transformation takes place that is a mystery to us. I think it's how we get from knowing the call to living the call.

"...for so long religion was my false gospel. But there was no magic in it, no wonder, no awe, no kingdom life burning in my chest. And when I get tempted by that same stupid Christian religion, I go back to the beginning of the Gospels and am comforted that there is something more than the emptiness of ritual. God will ignite the kingdom life within me, the Bible says. That’s mysticism. It isn’t a formula that I am figuring out. It is something God does.

I think we have two choices...terror or awe. And this is precisely why we attempt to chart God, because we want to be able to predict Him, to dissect Him, to carry Him around in our dog and pony show. We are too proud to feel awe and too fearful to feel terror. We reduce Him to math so we don’t have to fear Him, and yet the Bible tells us fear is the appropriate response, that it is the beginning of wisdom. Does that mean God is going to hurt us? No. But I stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon once, behind a railing, and though I was never going to fall off the edge, I feared the thought of it. It is that big of a place, that wonderful of a landscape...

Too much time is spent trying to chart God on a grid, and too little is spent allowing our hearts to feel awe. By reducing Christian spirituality to a formula, we deprive our hearts of wonder."

Source: Blue Like Jazz, pp. 203-205.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

the fundamentals of a liberal

I just found this blog and this post jumped out at me -
excerpts from "The Fundamentals Of A Liberal" by D.L. Dykes, Jr. posted @

Now, I don't like labels, and especially when they are put on me by somebody I don’t particularly take to … of course, labels are not important, but what we believe is terribly important. Therefore, when a label is used to express a doctrine or a belief, then that label becomes very important. If some kind of decree were sent out and we all had to have a label of either fundamentalist or liberal, or if I were going to be stood up against the wall and shot if I didn't choose one or the other, then in spite of my dislike for labels, I would have to be called a liberal. But I would immediately insist that I have a right to my "fundamentals" as a liberal. In the light of this introduction and from this particular point of view, what are some fundamentals of a liberal?

  • First of all, the first fundamental of a liberal is that God is all goodness and total love; and therefore, he never punishes or rewards.

  • The second fundamental of one liberal is that all of God's creation is good, and evil is the misuse of that good.

  • The third fundamental of a liberal is that Jesus is what all men are meant to be.

  • Another fundamental of a liberal is that the Bible is a book of truth, not magic.

  • The fifth fundamental of a liberal is that every person is entitled to experience God in his own way. The only God I have is the God I have experienced.

  • Another fundamental of a liberal is that the kingdom will come with Christ in the hearts of men, and not on "clouds of glory."

  • Finally, another fundamental of a liberal is that salvation is accepting the grace and the unconditional love of God as revealed in Christ on the cross.

Let me also hasten to say that no one person, no group of people, no large gathering of people can go to an auditorium somewhere and vote "yes" or "no" and determine the fundamentals for all of us. Sooner or later, we all must determine our own fundamentals. Nobody can do it for us.


Sunday, April 17, 2005

getting out of the boat

I asked my son what he learned in Sunday school today and he told me it was about some fishermen. To paraphrase my son – "some guys had been fishing on the right side of their boat all day and caught nothing. Then Jesus came along and told them to try their nets on the left side. Then they caught something like 150 fish!"

When I put this story together with the one from today's sermon (Jesus and Faith) of Peter getting out of the boat, I was struck by another characteristic that faith requires: tenacity, patience, endurance. Getting out of the boat is a huge step, but not only are we often going to sink, we’re going to fall flat on our face in failure. And if we continue to listen to God’s call for us, we’re going to do it over and over again. It would be so great if we could get things right the first time, but we’re human, so I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Working with technology I deal with failure all the time, whether it’s user-errors, software bugs, networks offline, printer jams, and hardware meltdowns. Debugging the problem usually involves trial and error. It can get quite frustrating if I spend a day debugging a problem and get nowhere. But this failure doesn’t stop me – I keep going until some solution is worked out. It might not be the solution I had hoped for, but it’s my job to get technology working. Why does it seem so much easier to give up on God’s call, especially after a failure? I think it may have something to do with our expectations of how we think we should be feeling and others should feel about us after taking up God’s call.

Today I found an example of someone who has gotten out of the boat and is living as a missionary in Africa. It’s not what he expected, it’s difficult, it’s dirty, it’s overwhelming, but it’s what God is calling him to do. His story here.

Friday, April 15, 2005

7 differences between a believer and a disciple

Interesting take on differing worldviews from Victory World Church.

1. Believes in Jesus as Savior but lives for himself.
2. Goes to church to learn about God's Word says.
3. Seeks to know God through religion.
4. Is accountable only to themselves.
5. Serves God based on convenience.
6. Seeks the benefits of God.
7. Chooses path of life that seeks to go higher.

1. Believes in Jesus as Lord and lives to please God.
2. Goes to church to do what what God's Word says.
3. Seeks to know God through relationship.
4. Is accountable to everyone.
5. Serves God based on conviction.
6. Seeks the presence of God.
7. Chooses path of life that seeks to go lower.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

meyers-briggs deja vu

Found this online meyers-briggs type personality test. I took it and it seems my default personality settings have really not changed much since the last time I took a test like this (15+ years). On the one hand, I'm a little surprised. I don't feel much like the person I was 15 years ago. I have a family now, I've actually mellowed, I feel I've grown spiritually, and I hope I've grown wiser and more patient. On the other hand, it is comforting to know my core personality remains intact and I hope I've learned how to grow beyond some of the negative traits that come along with the package that is me.

spring walk - deep thoughts?

I just came in from a walk in my neighborhood on this beautiful spring day! I brought my camera because I'm trying to gather a collection of digital images to use in various projects. During my walk, I was struck by some of the amazing landscaping folks do around here. We are struggling with this ourselves, our lawn is about dead and we have that "natural" kind of in the woods feeling, which seems kind of shabby upon close examination. We don't garden. And I don't mean to pick on gardeners today, they are some of my favorite people, but here I go anyway.

I am a self-confessed control freak. Not about everything, just most things. As I was walking I was struck by how much work, effort and probably big bucks are put into landscaping and also by how much people are willing to do to control their environment. You can clearly see property lines, where the landscaping ends and the "natural" forest resumes. So, is our need to define borders and control the environment within them (eg. gardening) just another manifestation of our desire for and illusion of self-control? Or it could be, I'm just full of it today.


Found a little tech tool nugget called imarkup by reading about newsmashing @ slate. Of course, when I sent a sample to my hubbie, he had already heard about it (and I thought I could finally scoop him on the geek front).

Anyway, it is a nifty little concept - marking up webpages with your comments (sticky notes, voice commentary, graffiti) and sharing with others via e-mail. Unfortunately, I'm not sure it's worth $39.95 (after 30-day free trial) - especially when it can't be linked in blog-dom.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

the scandal

I just read about a new book called The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience from It Takes a Church blog. I haven't read the book, but I read the excerpt from the website and it really speaks to one of the most uncomfortable aspects of Christianity for me to deal with and that is the level hypocrisy (mine and obviously others).

Friday, March 25, 2005

Easter image

Easter cross Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Passion/Palm image

Image I created for Palm/Passion weekend using images from and PaintShop Pro. Posted by Hello

Monday, March 21, 2005

catch up

Today I'm playing catch up.

  • Reading blogs. It is amazing to me how devoted and consistent some folks are in their blogs. I've added some new blogs I am trying to keep up with in my blog roll. Also found this nugget ala tony pierce, which apparently is well known, so I'm glad I finally stumbled upon it.

  • Writing. I'm collaborating on a book with my dad and brother. It's very cool to see their insights.

  • Working on websites. Just trying to keep that content minty fresh or at least not stinky. Another find this week was

Thursday, March 10, 2005

faith and action

"You know I have the Lutheran curse. Conviction without action has no meaning for me. Yet what is conviction? How do we identify it? Is it to be found in the heart, or in the intellect? And what if it is only to be found in the one and not the other? ... I had no conscious faith, but if I acted, then the faith would surely follow. ... Perhaps that is how faith is born, I thought: by action and not by contemplation." Absolute Friends by John le Carre

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. It seems sort of like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg? As James said (James 2:17) faith without works is dead and as the author of Hebrews implies (Hebrews 11:6) works without faith is not pleasing to God.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

the dance continues

Okay, maybe I am naive in thinking that blatant sexism and discrimination is not a bigger issue than the subtle form.

There is currently a discussion at open source theology on female ordination and leadership in the church. Reading some of the responses really got my blood boiling, but others gave me hope. Obviously, the dance continues.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

the dance

In his sermon this weekend, my pastor talked about some of the more blatant ways society undermines women. I think that it is subtle sexism and discrimination that will cause the most problems for the Lutheran Church, middle-class America and our daughters and sons.

For example:

Sexism comes in many different forms, including blatant, covert, and subtle sexism (Benokraitis & Feagin, 1999). Blatant sexism is defined as obviously unequal and unfair treatment of women relative to men, whereas covert sexism is defined as unequal and unfair treatment of women that is recognized but purposefully hidden from view. Both blatant and covert sexism are intended, but only covert sexism is hidden. In comparison to these two forms, subtle sexism represents unequal and unfair treatment of women that is not recognized by many people because it is perceived to be normative, and therefore does not appear unusual. Sexist language is an example of subtle sexism in that it consists of speech that reinforces and perpetuates gender stereotypes and status differences between women and men.

Subtle discrimination is so woven into the fabric of an organization's status quo, that even women who feel the impact of these insidious, indiscernible barriers are often hard-pressed to know what hit them, say the writers and professors at the Center for Gender in Organizations at the Simmons Graduate School of Management.

A girl, forming her identity "also experiences herself missing from pronouns in scripture, hymns, and prayers. And most of all, as long as God "himself" is exclusively male, she will experience the otherness, the lessness, of herself; all the pious talk in the world about females being equal to males will fail to compute in the deeper places inside her." (Sue Monk Kidd, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter)

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Monday, January 31, 2005

transformation journal

I have created a transformation journal blog, to support an effort at my church to get folks sharing their ideas online. The transformation journal was created by Ginghamsburg Church and is a "guided" one year roadtrip with Jesus. Because it involves daily reading, many of my posts here have been reactions to that reading. So far I've been posting some of the same content in both places.

BTW, Ginghamsburg Church does some amazing things to foster faith, community, and commitment. I'll have more to say on my experience at one of their conferences later.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

comfort zone

Once upon a time, there was a woman who lived very comfortably. Against her better judgment, she joined a small group. This small group was encouraging it’s members to share their faith journey. The woman was not comfortable doing this, but decided to get it over with sooner than later. Driving home and for many days after, she had this feeling that she had exposed too much in sharing her story. Sort of like the feeling you get after having that dream where you forget to put your clothes on. Turns out she had left her comfort zone. From then on, she found that she was often asked or called to leave her comfort zone. To continue the journey, the woman must learn to live more uncomfortably.

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Monday, January 10, 2005


Have faith in me when I say that the Father is one with me and that I am one with the Father. Or else have faith in me simply because of the things I do. John 14: 11

I believe in miracles, but I’ve always had a difficult time believing some of the miracles described in the Bible. I always thought that believing in these miracles was a requirement to be a “true” Christian. As I read this text, I think I have a different understanding. The miracles Jesus performed were not for my benefit. That is not what I am charged with having faith in. The miracles Jesus performed seem to be directed at those around him who could not believe what he said. I am being directed to have faith in what God is saying to me now or at least to have faith in what God is doing in my life. I think I can try to do that.

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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

no regrets?

What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul? Matthew 16:26

What is a Christian? Is it someone trying to live his or her life by the example set by Christ? I’m afraid that some of the more public figures claiming Christianity are not following the example so well and this causes non-Christians to remain skeptical. Unfortunately, I can’t have much affect on how others behave.

So, what does being a Christian mean to me? I’m not always sure. I wonder at the definition when Jesus says “to save your life, you will lose it”. I’m often caught between faith and doubt. Thinking about all the death and destruction from the tsunami got me wondering about how precarious living actually is. I really could go at any time, but am I ready? What regrets would I have if I were pronounced terminally ill? You don’t hear about terminally ill patients regretting not making more money or being more successful. The regrets are usually about not spending enough time with family and not doing something “meaningful” with their life. How would I live my life differently if I had a near death experience? One survivor from the tsunami talks about a few days ago being another lifetime. How profound that change must be, almost like losing a life and getting a new one.

Maybe having no regrets is a good litmus test for being Christ-like. Maybe growing in Christ feels a little like a “near death” experience.

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