Thursday, June 14, 2007

what's your worldview?

You could take their test or you could take ours?

On theirs I 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. What's your theological worldview? created with QuizFarm.com

On ours I scored as a different drummer.

What about you?

this I believe

This is my response to a chapter from my dad titled The symptom is corruption, but the syndrome is idolatry. Comments are appreciated; the good, the bad, but not the ugly.
I hear that you refuse to worship my gods and the gold statue I have set up. Now I am going to give you one more chance. If you bow down and worship the statue when you hear the music, everything will be all right. But if you don't, you will at once be thrown into a flaming furnace. No god can save you from me. [Daniel 3:14-15; CEV]
I’ve been doing a Bible study on the book of Daniel. One of the first lessons you encounter with Daniel has to do with the fiery furnace. I can remember the story from Sunday school as a child and now as it did then, it always prompts the question: would I, like Daniel's 3 friends, be prepared to face the fiery furnace instead of bowing down to a false god? Beth Moore puts it this way: “I don't have to wonder what I'd do if placed in the position to die in order for one of my children to live. No discussion. No need to pray about it. It's done.” I agree that’s a no-brainer. She goes on to ask if I've predetermined that same loyalty to Christ. I honestly don't think I know. I’m afraid that I do bow down to the false gods of my own Babylonian culture without much conscious thought. It’s ingrained in me.

Maybe the question is difficult to answer because my beliefs have really never been put to such a test and probably never will be. I don’t live in a culture where I could literally die for my beliefs. But I do live in a culture that could suck the life out of me for them and so I worry about what I believe. Beliefs are important. They define who we think we are and how we think about the world around us. But are there truly beliefs worth dying for, worth killing for, worth siding with the poor, the lost and the lonely for? It seems to me that belief does more to divide and conquer than it does to bring us together to address the corruption and idolatry surrounding us. I like the way John Mayer describes it in his song called Belief. "We're never gonna win the world, we're never gonna stop the war, we're never gonna beat this if belief is what we're fighting for".

So if belief isn’t what we should be fighting for, what is? What is worth standing up for instead of bowing down? I think it’s based on the relationships we build and the love we share. Archbishop ├ôscar Romero didn’t die for his beliefs; he died because he was in relationship with his community in El Salvador. Because of his love for his community and for his God, he stood up and spoke out against injustice.

We’re trying something new in Charlottesville, VA. It’s called IMPACT (Interfaith Movement Promoting Action by Congregations Together), a grassroots initiative bringing a diverse group of congregations together to live out our religious traditions’ call for justice. So far there are 25 local congregations involved that range in size from 20 to 1,500 people, including Protestants, Catholics, Unitarian Universalists, Jews, and Muslims. While the concept of grassroots interfaith organizations that address social justice issues is not new in this country, it is certainly new to Charlottesville and Albemarle County. I’m not sure any of us knew what to expect from this first year.

It has been a tremendous learning experience for me. As a member of IMPACT, I’ve been part of a community that determined what social justice issues to focus on, researched the core issues associated with the injustice, and identified solutions to address some of those issues. We met with public officials to explain our findings and express our desire for change. Before this experience, it was easy for me to believe that a particular party or a particular political figure was the “root of all evil.” But more often than not during these meetings, what I discovered were blind spots and ignorance and a desire to come on board with the solutions if it was the will of the people. We started building relationships based on addressing social justice issues within our congregations, within our research groups and with our public officials. Because of those relationships over 1300 people packed the high school auditorium at the first Nehemiah Action meeting, where we presented proposed solutions and many of our public officials were willing to sit up front and respond to the will of the people.

This was clearly not business as usual and there are still some politicians who don’t understand why this organization can’t work within the established processes. There are still some congregations that won’t participate in this organization because of their belief that they shouldn’t work with non-Christians. I don’t understand that. It makes belief sound dangerous to me. It is so much easier for me to state what I don’t believe. I don’t believe in discrimination based on religious beliefs or political association or sexual orientation or gender or race or age. I don’t believe in war. I don’t believe in oppression. I don’t believe in genocide or ethnic cleansing or poverty.

So, what do I believe? I believe in evolution. I believe in miracles. I believe in doubts. I believe in love. I believe that when I can somehow ignore what the world thinks is important and practice having an attitude that is “the same as that of Christ Jesus,” I may then, on very rare occasions, briefly understand what Daniel’s friends understood and I will stand up instead of bowing down.

Why do I find it so hard to write it down? As a Christian, there’s usually an expectation that certain beliefs are non-negotiable. These are called articles of faith or creed and they usually define what it means to be Christian. I’ve always had a difficult time with them. Does that make me a heretic? As an American, I am called to stand up for my country and believe in our unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But at what cost to human rights and the environment around the world? Does questioning our public policies make me un-American?

back in Texas

I've been hanging out at the Georgetown library today working on the book. What a nice break. It's hot in TX. I know - I've become such a wimp living in VA.

We talked with a self-publisher yesterday about the book, a local outfit called TLCGraphics. I've now got a deadline to get done, so somehow between summer vacations and no school, I've got to get going.

I'll be publishing excerpts of the work in progress here and hope somebody will comment (yeah, I'm talking to you).

Sunday, May 20, 2007

building bridges

You see postmodern culture does not trust the maps of this world, where our words don’t match the actions in the world. Postmodern culture is leery of doctrine and beliefs. God is not unimportant, in fact, God is talked about and written about more than ever, but religious institutions are viewed as dangerous. There was a time when church was viewed as a safe sanctuary, but now it is more often viewed as surrounded by barriers.
read more

Thursday, May 17, 2007

some days hope dies


Today it died for me after listening to a story on BBC News - woman tells of Congo murders. This is an extremely disturbing story of torture, murder & rape. It's not some twisted fictional story, it's so much worse.

I'm a big fan of the sci-fi series Serenity. In this series there were a group of characters called Reavers. They were depraved beyond belief and anytime they came up in an episode I'd have to fast forward or leave the room.
Reavers ain't men. Or they forgot how to be. They're just nothing. They got out to the edge of the galaxy, to that place of nothing, and that's what they became.

Is that what we're becoming? Are we forgetting how to be human, lost at the edge of nothingness? God, please grant me a measure of hope again.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

published at last


Well, it's a first step anyway. I've got a very short story published in my alumni magazine @ http://tlu.edu/torch07s_wilkens. Can't wait to get my copy in the mail.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Stop Violence Against Native American Women in the US

I heard about this issue on NPR's All Things Considered on April 24. I was appalled to learn about the level of sexual assault experienced by American Indian and Alaska Native women and the lack of protection and due process that these indigenous women, as all women, deserve.
Federal government studies have consistently shown that American Indian and Alaska Native women experience much higher levels of sexual violence than other women in the United States. According to the US Department of Justice, more than 1 in 3 American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped during their lifetime. Indigenous women are being denied protection and there is a systematic failure to punish those responsible for these crimes. - Amnesty International

Please Take Action Now!

Friday, April 20, 2007

numb


Numb, that's how I'm feeling this week as the bad news piles up:
- 4/16, VT massacre, 33 dead
- 4/18, highest death toll in Iraq, 233 dead
- 4/19, supreme court decision to ban a medical procedure called intact dilation and extraction
- 4/20, the guy in front of me at a stop light casually tossing a lit cigarette out the window

Father, forgive us, for we do not know what we are doing.

more on the side effects of numbness here

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

to my code monkey

awesome technology


The US Holocaust Memorial Museum and Google Earth have come up with a truly awesome use of technology. Get a mind-blowing perspective of the crisis in Darfur using google earth. You'll need to go to the ushmm to download a Darfur layer for google earth. Google has updated the satellite imagery for this area, along with providing icons that identify destroyed villages, displaced persons and multimedia content to tell individual stories.

The actual satellite imagery is pretty detailed as well.
The satellite imagery of Darfur and Chad was taken between 2003 through 2006, some imagery shows what the village looked like before the attack. In other cases, villages may have been rebuilt by returnees or occupied by others. - ushmm.org
The image above is of the Abu Shouk camp, which was just what it looks like, a tent city in the middle of a desert.
As violence in this part of the remote region of western Sudan increases again, there is an expectation at Abu Shouk—and across Darfur—that no one will be heading back to their villages any time soon. In the face of that reality, the camp has undergone a slow transformation from a settlement of plastic-covered shelters hastily constructed with branches, to a community that has many of the trappings of permanence—and home. - oxfamamerica.org

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

perspective


As I was stumbling upon some sites tonight, I found the future of our world: a small glimpse into a timeline of epic scale. Then I stumbled upon what must have been the Dogwood Festival fireworks blinking outside my 2nd story window. I love watching fireworks. Not a big fan of hearing them, so seeing them from a distance works for me. My favorite are the ones launched high in the sky, bursting into a large globe with the ends twinkling out on the way down. The timeline music provided the perfect background. The timeline info provided an interesting perspective. Our existence is so fleeting. Is humanity going to continue to burn hot and fast and explosive leading to the inevitable grand finale?

deep thoughts or bedtime?

stumbled upon


As if I need another online addiction, but StumbleUpon is too cool.

feeling trapped?


via

Monday, April 09, 2007

3 more days



Julie @ emerging women asked for easter reflections. I didn't have an easter reflection until I heard Three More Days by Ray Lamontagne today.

Easter came and went and I didn't feel it. Maybe it was the unusually cold weather and the boy searching for Easter eggs in the snow. Maybe it's the Easter bunny, I mean how does he fit into Holy Week? Maybe it was the pms. Maybe it's because I'm stuck on Good Friday. Good Friday? What is up with that name? What kind of greeting card society are we living in?
The origin of the term Good is not clear. Some say it is from "God's Friday" (Gottes Freitag); others maintain that it is from the German Gute Freitag, and not specially English. Sometimes, too, the day was called Long Friday by the Anglo-Saxons; so today in Denmark. - www.newadvent.org

But I digress. I'm stuck on Friday. I'm still waiting. I know what's been promised, but 3 more days can seem like an eternity. It's like that when you first fall in love with someone and you can't bear to be apart 3 hours let alone 3 days. It's like that when tragedy strikes or when you are waiting for test results or waiting for a call. Three more days could drive you insane. Three more days could convince you that you were imagining things. It could send you spiraling into depression or encourage you to pretend a thing never happened or lead you to discount promises made. Three more days and you could be acting like "it" never happened. I'm going to try not to do that. I'm going to try to wait and study and pray and be a wife & mother and be part of a community and not act like "it" never happened.
Three more days
Girl you know I will be coming home to ya darling
Three more days
Girl you know I will be coming home to ya darling
I know it's wrong to be so far from home
I know it's wrong to leave you so alone
I've just got to getcha this good job done
So I can bring it on home to you
So I can bring it on home to you
- Ray Lamontagne

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. - Matthew 12:40

Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." - John 2:19

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. - Matthew 16:21

"Sir, we remember what that liar said while he was still alive. He claimed that in three days he would come back from death. So please order the tomb to be carefully guarded for three days." - Matthew 27:63-64

"We had hoped that he would be the one to set Israel free! But it has already been three days since all this happened." - Luke 24:21

music that doesn't suck - part I


This post was inspired by flagrantdisregard's 50 songs for kids AND their parents (or 50 songs for kids that aren’t utter crap). We're always looking for music to listen to with the boy. Between the music Tom & I listen to, the boy has inherited some pretty eclectic tastes, here's a sampling of some of his favorites:
Ants Marching by DMB
Channel Z by the B52's
Help by the Beatles
Hot by Smashmouth
Peaches by President's of the United States of America
Shark Attack by Split Endz
Soun tha mi Primor Amor by Kinky
The City by Los Lobos
The Tale of Mr. Morton by Skee Lo
Underground by Tom Waits
other music that doesn't suck
- the boy practicing piano & the original music he creates
- the boy and Tom working on songs together (got to get a recording of it)
- we've been fans of 91.9 since moving to C-ville, I mean who can argue with commercial-free radio that plays such a wide variety of musical styles
- we're also now fans of 106.1, love the music, love the my corner playlists (mine was played a few weeks ago), love that they actually identify title & artist for every song they play, hope the commercials don't get too annoying (wasn't pleased with the tequila commercial)
- I like using pandora.com to "discover" bands I've never heard of before, but apparently internet radio is in jeopardy because of new royalty rules (that would suck)
- I've tried listening to spiritfm, because I must admit that I do like a good praise song, but I just can't handle the lack of diversity. I like the Christian music created by Ken Hymes, find some recordings here
- Praise Night at Peace, it's an open mic format that's fun for the whole family, they even got me up singing and I can't carry a tune (okay, that probably did suck ;)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

restoration


I love a metaphor. One of my "jobs" is to come up with sermon images that get projected during worship. It's so much easier to find/create images when a metaphor can be found to represent the material. I've been working on the Easter images today and the theme is restoration. I'm giving the images an "old movie in need of restoration" kind of look to help convey the idea of restoration. I was looking for a Last Supper image and read how this masterpiece has been through many restorations.
Leonardo, always the inventor, tried using new materials for Last Supper. Instead of using tempera on wet plaster (the preferred method of fresco painting, and one which had worked successfully for centuries), he thought he'd give using dry plaster a whirl. His experiment resulted in a more varied palette, which was Leonardo's intent. What he hadn't taken into account (because, who knew?) was that this method wasn't at all durable. The painted plaster began to flake off the wall almost immediately, and people have been attempting to restore it ever since. - arthistory.about.com

So here's a metaphor that popped into my head. The Bible is a masterpiece that was created using the invention of the written word versus the tradition of oral history used for centuries before. The intent was to harness the rich and diverse collection of stories, history, wisdom, poetry, prophecy and first-hand accounts of God's work in the world, but the medium had some unexpected drawbacks. The most obvious is the problem of translation. I mean there are 20 English translations on biblegateway. Apparently there are even much debated, different styles of translation like formal equivalence, dynamic equivalence, and paraphrase. Like paint flaking off a masterpiece, there are words that become obsolete and are in need of having their meaning restored. I wonder how many translations have been misguided attempts at restoration? Other problems have come from the medium itself.

Print made us more individualistic
Thanks to the individualistic bias of the print age, we miss many of the biblical metaphors of the church because we assume these images are directed at individuals... In fact, nearly everywhere in the Greek New Testament where Paul says, "you", it is the plural "you all". - Shane Hipps, Hidden Power of Electronic Culture, pg. 96

Print introduced us to the concept of objectivity
We presume the Bible presents an objective set of propositions that everyone will discover if they just read it properly. This inflated sense of objectivity, fueled by printing, breeds an unfortunate and arrogant illusion of omniscience. It leaves little room for subjective experience and the work of the Holy Spirit. - Shane Hipps, Hidden Power of Electronic Culture, pg. 55

Just another random thought - good night.

the impact of IMPACT

Finally my latest excuse to delay working on the book is behind me. IMPACT's Nehemiah Action was held 3/15/07. It was a great event on many levels: the amount of participation exceeded the capacity in the MLK Performing Arts Center (well over 1350), the coming together of so many different faith communities unified in addressing social justice issues in the community, and the participation by many public officials.

While the concept of grassroots, interfaith organizations addressing social justice issues is not new in this country, it is certainly new to Charlottesville and Albemarle county. I'm not sure any of us knew what to expect from this first Nehemiah Action.


Highlights:

- I am so grateful to, Angela, our organizer for keeping us on track and getting us to this point.
- I am thankful to Peace for exceeding our attendance commitment.
- I realized again how blessed we are to have Pastor John as guide and mentor on our journey. The Worship God Wants set the tone.
- The City Councilors agreed to call this a public meeting. City Councilors Norris, Taliaferro & Lynch and Mayor Brown participated. Way to go City of Charlottesville!
- Albemarle County Board of Supervisors (BOS) would not agree to call this a public meeting. Five BOS came to check us out, but because of their process, they wouldn't all participate. Only Slutzky and Boyd participated. Change is the name of the game for Albemarle County.
- Norris was an enthusiast yes across all solutions. Because of his involvement with PACEM, he knows this crowd and he speaks with integrity. What can I say, I'm a big fan.
- Taliaferro was a strong yes across all solutions. His anecdote about meeting people that lived paycheck to paycheck and that just didn't seem right - was right on.
- Lynch's "yes, but" was weak. The environmental speech seemed ill-timed. I'm sure you wouldn't get an argument from many in the audience about its importance, but that's not why we were there.
- Brown's "no, but" was even weaker. We know the issues are complex. We know the County is not doing it's share for affordable housing. That's why we proposed solutions that were small steps in the right direction. That certainly seems better than no direction at all.
- Slutzky's "yes" was appreciated. He seems to be the lone Albemarle County BOS member that comprehends the severity of the affordable housing crisis.
- Boyd's "further study" was disappointing. There has been lots of studying done already, here & here. Not to mention the investment in research done by IMPACT's affordable housing research team members. Even the county has studied it here and concluded it doesn't do enough.

What did we accomplish?

When I started on the affordable housing research team, I hoped that we would accomplish the following and I think we made a good start:
- City to acknowledge and put in place measures to address affordable housing issues short-term and long-term.
It looks like the City will adopt Charlottesville Affordable Housing Investment Program (CAHIP) into its budget

-City to show commitment to addressing affordable housing issues by reflecting it in the city budget.
City has added additional $420K for affordable housing for 0-30% AMI into its budget

- Leverage existing programs and services and their ability to generate dollars from city commitment.
Additional $420K can be leveraged by non-profits

- A regional approach and commitment to addressing affordable housing: Charlottesville, UVA, counties.
Creation of a Regional Affordable Housing Task Force was proposed, the only affordable housing request made of the county, and even this seemingly "weak" solution is being resisted.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

gather the women - part III

I still haven't finished Urgent Message from Mother: Gather the Women, Save the World. Everytime I read a few pages, I get mad and frustrated and sad.

I'm going to have to finish it now, because I was invited to a gathering of women in Charlottesville, Women United in Philanthropy and I feel some hope.

The topic was local poverty, especially as it relates to families. Most of the presentation just reconfirmed what I've been learning through the affordable housing research committee of IMPACT.
- 15,000 below poverty in C-ville MSA
- self-sufficiency standard for VA says family must earn twice the level of poverty just to meet basic needs (housing, food, power, transporation, childcare & healthcare)
- that equates to 2 full-time workers earning $11.51
- average wage for low income worker is $7.07
- 18,700 people (point in time) on public assistance
- public assistance program is TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and many at just above 100% of poverty don't qualify for this assistance

While these are depressing stats, the encouraging thing is that more people in the community are becoming aware of the problems and want to do something to address the injustices.

Monday, February 12, 2007

discipleship matters

It was a year in the making and now the Discipleship Matters Conference is over! It was an awesome event, but I must admit I'm so glad it is behind me now. Maybe I can get back to some more book writing & blogging.

why use electronic media in worship?
- here's a link to my small part of the What Do You Mean, Contemporary? workshop.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

middle-aged activist

When I pictured my career path in college and especially during my days at IBM, it didn't include many of the things I've become: mother, volunteer and writer. Over the last year another unlikely role has become part of me; I have become an activist.

It provides the same level of income my family has come to expect and my previous experience has prepared me for:
There are some jobs people do just for the money. Then there are jobs people do purely for love. Being an activist is one of the latter. - Career Cruising

and of course, there's always the job security:
In the end, the activist’s job is done if more people become aware of the activist’s cause. There are always more people to convince, so the job is never done. - Career Cruising

My cause is affordable housing and my activity is part of a non-profit, faith-based, grass-roots organization called IMPACT. Many updates and some site redesign will be coming to promote awareness.