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Salt and Light

It was raining all day and it’s been cold for the last few, so, as I’m extremely sensitive to cold (my whole body aches to the bone and it takes me hours to warm up again), I stayed in while my husband went to church last night.  I poked around in the archives of our church’s website and read the text of a homily preached at the beginning of last month, on the first section of the Sermon on the Mount after the Beatitudes: Matthew 5:13-20.  Coincidentally, I’d been thinking about what it means to be salt and light…or, rather, what salt and light actually are – lately. Continue reading Salt and Light

How Much is Enough?

timeGoing deep takes time.

I recently got into a fight with a friend about busyness in which I used the line, “You are not a victim of your schedule.”  She responded that her availability does not dictate how much values me.  I disagreed: you MAKE time for what’s important, you HAVE time for what’s left.  She responded that there are a lot of things I don’t know and that she can’t always control her schedule.  “Yes,” I said, “there are lots of things I don’t know.  But that’s not my fault.”  I know, right?  I wince, too, just retyping that. Continue reading How Much is Enough?

Putting the Ocean Back in Devotion

As my birthday gift to me, I took the day off from work and study to enjoy what has been the nicest day in 2014 so far outside.  I spent some time at a beach, though not as much as I would have liked because, the way the sun works where I currently am is the opposite from where I grew up, so even on this golden-ray-full day, it was still nippy.  Even though the sun is a giant ball of fire.  Sigh.  Anyway.  It was warm enough to be on a shoreline for a bit.  I wrote.  I read.  I stared at the point where the water and the sky meet, though it was, on this day, a bit hard to tell the two apart.  Both were trembling with this amazing shifting light. Continue reading Putting the Ocean Back in Devotion

Go Deep (aka, Fishers of People)

Last night was our priest’s final liturgy as the rector of our parish .  (It feels weird saying”our” as we’ve only been going there since October and, honestly, I don’t quite feel like we fit [yet] but that’s partly me.  It takes me an inordinately long time to open up to people and by the time I do, I feel like people have forgotten about me.  But I digress.)  I was surprised by the emotion I felt, but not surprised by the emotion in the room.  The liturgy felt slower than usual, more drawn out, more deliberate.  It lingered, as if heavy, in nearly every way.  Perhaps this was deliberate…tonight’s take-away was “going deep.” Continue reading Go Deep (aka, Fishers of People)

“Feminism”

Reading the Bible as a citizen of a super power is a lot like reading the Bible as a man, especially a white one.  Or, at least a lot like experiencing the benefits of sexism in biblical interpretation and implementation in contemporary Church.  To be sure, I find Scripture, particularly the Old Testament, as having a ‘preferential option for the male;” as but one example, “the oldest law code of the Torah, the Book of the Covenant (Ex. 20:22-23:33)…differentiates sharply between men and women”[1] and the men always come out ahead.  I probably don’t need to list off all the passages in Scripture, Testaments Old and New, that can and have been used to suppress, silence and demean women and their God-given gifts.  Nor do I need to regale you with ecclesiology or Christian history, not that Christians have the corner on sexism or anything.  I may not even need to point out that the seeming trend in liberation of any kind seems to be that a member of the oppressed minority group is the main spokesperson while members of the majority group (be it whites, straight folk, men, etc.) remain silent even if they are not “actively” oppressing anyone. Continue reading “Feminism”

Unity

Some theologians think that agency  is the mark of the image of God in humanity: that is, being free is being imago dei.  We bear the image of God in our freedom to command our own destiny in a way that plants and animals do not.  But this sounds more like self-actualization to me than bearing the image of God and anyway, this construal of freedom is still about the self, not freedom for the other.  Even if bearing the image of God were about freedom, as long as that freedom is defined with self as the center reference point, it is not about bearing the image of God. Continue reading Unity

Freedom

Yesterday’s sermon was based on part of the portion of Scripture known as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:17-37).  It began by stating that the desire for freedom – to think, to assemble, to feel, etc. – is not merely an American standard, but one of the marks of being human.  The homilist then stated that Jesus didn’t care about our freedom; He takes the law, already a “restriction” on our “freedom,” and “makes in harder,” further reining us in.  Indeed, we are not permitted to feel whatever what we want: Jesus equated anger with murder, lust with divorce, name-calling with anger.  In our Americanized take on freedom, this sure looks like a whole lot of rules…a whole lot of barriers to freedom. Continue reading Freedom

In honor of Valentine’s day: excerpts from a final about friendship

Nerd Alert: this post has footnotes!  What follows is about three pages (gratuitously long, I know) of a five-page answer to one of my final exam questions last quarter:

“Many people have said much about love,” writes 7th century Christian monk, Maximus the Confessor, “but only in seeking it among Christ’s disciples will you find it, for only they have the true love, the teacher of love…therefore, the one who possesses love possesses God since ‘God is love.’”[1]  On this secular holiday that has commercialized and commoditized romantic attraction, much to the detriment and distress of the un-partnered, many people are saying much about love.  Love is a red, red rose, or sending (if you’re a man) or getting (if you’re a woman) a surprise bouquet of 12 of them.  Love is a box of chocolates.  Love is an expensive night out with a member of the opposite sex.  Love is, our culture would have is believe (especially on this day), expressed through money. Continue reading In honor of Valentine’s day: excerpts from a final about friendship

Self Defense

punch

I took a self defense class for women last night.  While it was therapeutic to punch some pads to practice the moves we were being taught to get away from a hypothetical attacker, we were practicing moves to get away from a hypothetical attacker.  I found myself holding back tears for most of the class.  Afterwards, I debriefed at a friend’s house (who was also in the class).  A bunch of anger came up that was “unrelated” – about classes, lack of feedback before being handed a midterm, lack of or changes in structure, etc. Continue reading Self Defense

The Good Samaritan

I grew up, as most church kids did, hearing the parable of the Good Samaritan, seeing it in all its flannel-graph glory.  It was clear who we were supposed to like the most in the story, who we were supposed to want to be.  The two men who passed by the half-dead traveler were as bad as the robbers, and were certainly not neighborly to anyone.  The traveler was beaten and robbed of all his possessions.  Only the Samaritan was good.  Only the Samaritan paid it all (willingly).  If the goal was to be a neighbor – and it was, because Jesus says so (never mind any of that stuff about relationship or eternal life) – then it was your job to strive with all your might to be a Good Samaritan, a neighbor, if you will, to everyone. Continue reading The Good Samaritan