30 November 2005

Have I Been Living In a Bubble?

I think the answer to that is, Yes. I have been living in a bubble. It's been more like a cloister. But still it's been a safe happy place. I've disturbed it lately. I've rippled the pond. I think this is a good thing, but I'm still more than a little sad by what I've found.

As a result of being sick earlier this month, sitting in my chair and extended hours of playing on my laptop I found some new blogs to read. I think I've said that before. I've spent quite a bit of time at a certain political blog with a definite bend to the left. Some things I agree with, others, not so much (as with everyone you meet). It can be sort of harsh at times, and hard to swallow. So small doses are often in order. As with our little community, there is a community of people who flock to this space and comment.

Here's what is currently burdening me as I read this blog and the comments therein.

Because of my past church affiliation, I know a lot of people on the "right" both politically and religiously (if that's a word). I know a lot of "fundamentalist" Christians. Almost to a person, they are gleeful that George Bush is in office. To them, he can do no wrong. It matters not that he lied to get us into this war in Iraq. Their words of explanation are many for that. For all of his perfidies and those of his associates, they have explanations or sometimes no explanation, for he can do no wrong they think. And I am stunned, for similar misbehavior on the part of other politicians of a different political party have brought forth streams of invective from these people; they have heaped tons of criticism and judgement for similar misdeeds from others of another party. But not for George Bush or his associates. Apparently his claims of salvation, of being Christian, are enough to buy their undying loyalty.

But it is far more damaging to the church to have these people in power. After reading this blog for a while, I read comments that range from "they prefer to live like children", people in the church are accused of not wanting to take any responsibility for anything, we have a "get out of hell free card" that absolves us of wrong doing, we've been called stupid, facile, evil, commentary reminding us of what a "certain Jewish carpenter" might have said. The world knows these leaders are behaving like serious hypocrits and they are drawing the line out to the rest of us as well.

The problem is that I wonder sometimes if they might be right. I wonder if most of the churches, or the people in the churches might just be like George and his associates. Or Jerry and Pat and all the rest. They must be. Because no one is standing up and saying anything about it.

The only people saying anything about Jerry Falwell's vile Take Back Christmas campaign are people in the world. And Christian's flocking to his backside, Christian's claiming a false sense of persecution.

No one stood up and said anything about Pat Robertson's shocking "contract" on Venezuelan president Chavez last summer. That was anything but Christian. Christians everywhere should have loudly and summarily distanced themselves from Mr. Robertson and the "faith" he was peddling. That was not Jesus he was talking about, and we needed to be loud and clear about it.

I think we need to be more careful about who takes the national microphone and speaks for the Church. But then I think, who has control of that? I wonder who is standing in the wings with a big hook and allows people out on stage to take the mic? Who is it that lets Jerry out there but not Jim Wallis? Pat but not Tony Campolo? Who determined George Bush's faith more palatable, more tangible than Bill Clinton's?

My point is that we've got a lot to overcome if we're going to speak so these people can hear us. And now we also have to overcome the burden of prevarication as well. Into a generation that is already mistrustful, these leaders are sowing more seeds of distrust from the church itself. And I find myself traversing the pendulum between anger and heartbreak.


Among my many hats, one is that of teacher. I teach my lovely children from home. We do this is what used to be the dining room. It's now the schoolroom. We have a whiteboard and everything ... there are lots of maps on the wall, including one from Australia that's upside-down in orientation, bookshelves with books, all of that. I bring my laptop in and do my work, while the children do their school work.

Last night we had our Design Team meeting here at the house. This is the team that puts together the worship service at my church each week. The church formerly known as Mars Hill (but we don't know what to call ourselves now).

This morning when we came into the schoolroom, the children were delighted and I was dismayed to find that our beloved AwakeFriend had written the following message on the whiteboard:

November 30, 2005
The teacher is only allowed
to blog for 3 hours today

AND ... LightGirl has been asking after my activities. As if she or LightBoy is going to control my activity! And, I'll have them know I'm doing research for our service on Sunday ... I'm providing some of the content and I need to have something to say. And I need to find music for the Eucharist ... ETCETERA. So ... there. This is certified "holy" work I'm doing.

They just want equal access to the computer ... but the evil teacher mommy has control of the keyboard.

29 November 2005

Praise God ...

... from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Raise Him above the heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.


For some most excellent news ...

28 November 2005

Life's Big Unanswerable Question

The biggest question out there is this:

why am I the only person in the house who knows how to change the toilet paper roll?

and it's corollary:

why does everyone else in the house know how to leave exactly enough on the roll so it looks as tho they are NOT leaving it empty?

If anyone can answer that, please let me know.

In the Waiting Place

A dear friend is pregnant with twins, but she has had a scare this weekend. Some indications are that one twin may be trying to make a precipitous and untimely entry to this world, which would mean also his or her exit as well. The tests at the hospital were "inconclusive" and so my friend and her husband were sent home to wait and see. It reminded me of an early pregnancy (just before LightGirl) and child who came and went in so short a time. That life that lasted no longer than a breath but which I hold with me forever. I remember too the hopeful, prayerful waiting; the minutes that became elastic and stretched into hours that would not pass.

I pray with my friends this weekend and into this week:

The compassing of God be upon you and your babies
the compassing of God, of the God of life.

The compassing of Christ be upon you, all four of you
the compassing of the Christ of love.

The compassing of the Spirit be upon you, and babes too
the compassing of the Spirit of peace.

The compassing of the Sacred Three be upon you,
the compassing of the Sacred Three protect you,
the compassing of the Sacred Three preserve you.

26 November 2005

A Word on Words and The Word

Well as you can tell I've been thinking a lot lately about words and specifically the Word or scripture. And then I thought about this.

Some people think words are a simple thing. It's black and white. Simple, right?

I'm a quilter. It's never just black. Or white. Let's look at white, for example. I can't go to a store and just buy white fabric. There are all kinds and shades of "white." When I get together with my quilting friends and we are talking about a design we spend a lot of time trying to agree on the shade of white we're talking about at any given time. Or here's something you may be more familiar with. Imagine you want to paint a room. You've just walked into Home Depot's paint department and found the paint chips, now pick some "white" paint. How many shades of "white" are there? To say, "several," is putting it mildly.

It's that way with words too. Every word has different nuances and shades of meaning. Every person hears each word within a range of those nuances and shades of meaning. Each person brings their own particular history, cultural heritage, biases, etc. to each word they hear or see. When you string words together into sentences and paragraphs, the range of meaning that a person can bring to those sentences and paragraphs grows exponentially.

All of those thoughts led me to this: every person then brings all of their own prejudices, particular history, cultural heritage, shades of meaning, etc. with them when they read the Bible. So when I read the Bible I read something a little different than what you read. It's a little different than what LightHusband reads. And so on. This is good. It also makes sense. In the same manner that I don't look like LightHusband (thank GOD!), or walk like him or talk like him, I also don't read like him. I am a unique creation of a God who loves me. So is each person on this earth, so it makes sense that we would each come to HIs Word with a unique perspective. Those with the expectation that we would come to the Bible and each read the exact same thing and hear the words in the exact same way are being very unreasonable ....

... in the most reasoned manner possible.

Identity vs. Authority pars tres

And then I re-read my last post and realized how negative I sounded. I'm still carting around a lot of baggage from 14 years in a conservative, evangelical church. The church I am a part of now is not like this at all. I'm very fortunate to have found this community to be a part of. I'm grateful and really enjoying this new experience.

I've been mulling over this new concept presented by Mr. McKnight. This idea of the "identity" within Scripture. This concept that we might begin to find ourselves in the community that is presented in the Bible, but that it's only the beginning. That the Bible is only one place to find God and that He cannot be wholly contained therein. That is not **all** of who He is, it is only a partial revelation, as it must be. Scripture itself makes this abundantly clear. Here is a key quote from his post:

I’m suggesting we use the term “identity.” The term “authority” is that of power — it tells us that we are “under” something. The term “identity” speaks of the Spirit who is at work — in the world in God’s redemptive work, in the Church as the community of faith, and in that community as it tells the story of God’s redemptive work. And I’m not suggesting that we understand “identity” as filling the same spot as “authority,” but that we learn to see Scripture (not so much as the Authority) but as what gives us our Identity because through it God’s Spirit speaks to and guides us.

I'm enjoying this new idea and wondering what paths it might take me down. I will admit to having a problem with the word "authority." It has usually been used in such a way to say, "Stop asking questions." I don't think God is threatened by questions. If He could create the universe, a few questions from someone who loves Him and is earnestly seeking Him, cannot possibly be threatening. Even in Scripture He treats questions with respect. The Psalmist does quite a bit of questioning and we're told to memorize those poems.

So, yes, I'm glad to add a new metaphor or paradigm to the family. I think "authority" can move over and let "identity" join him at the table. I think it would be good for both.

Identity vs. Authority pars duo

It's the "day after" in many ways today. And I'm in recovery mode. The house is clean from the Thanksgiving Extravangza and we've got loads of leftovers so I can relax! So I am sewing and relaxing. It's heavenly. I've been following a conversation on another blog during the day today. It's been fascinating to me; it might not be to you. It's about how we (that would be the collective "we") look at the Bible. So if this is interesting to you, read on. If it's not, you should just click through to another blog, or go get a drink of water, or something because the rest of this post will be boring for you, unless you're my mother (or generally just like me) and like reading what I write, but in that case we should make a phone call and get you a "special" white jacket with extra long sleeves.

In any case, you should read that post and the comments on that blog first before you go on ... or not. It will give you some context for what I'm talking about here. Mostly I'm writing this post because I'm a big chicken. I had a lot of thoughts that I **almost** posted over on his blog. But every time I wrote them down, they sounded really small and not erudite enough to play in those waters. So I'll just play in my little pond and stay out of that big ocean.

So the mysterious "other" blog belongs to Scot McKnight, a somewhat famous, published author, theologian and teacher. He is smart. He is trained. And the people who comment on his blog are also smart and trained, or at least they write as tho they are. I am not. But I kept having some thoughts that I wanted to write down and share and I was too chicken to share them on his blog. But I can share them here, on my tiny little blog, in my itty-bitty little corner of the blogosphere.

Mr. McKnight offered up a new paradigm for the Holy Scriptures. His new paradigm is that we might look to them for identity rather than (or perhaps in addition to) authority. This has caused a great deal of comment. You really need to read his words on the matter. He speaks very well on the issue. Some of the comments on this issue have been blistering. Some of the people reading his blog have been terribly offended that he might assault the "authority" of Scripture. Which leads me to want to say to them, "well, my experience has been that the people who are most concerned about the authority of Scripture are usually the people who are most threatened by the questions that these discussions raise." And thus far, that has indeed been the case.

I clicked through to an article on the right for one of Mr. McKnight's "Recommended Reading" about the emergent church and Orthodoxy and found myself reading an article about the Eastern Orthodox Church. Here is a quote from that article:

First, without a Pelagian controversy, the conviction that every individual is morally and spiritually helpless never took hold of the Eastern Christian imagination. Further, without an Augustine who wrote graphically about hell, or an Anselm who sharpened the west's understanding of sin as a capital crime (a far more punitive view than Augustine ever imagined), fear of divine wrath and the consequent need to soothe the terrified consciences of those who despaired of their eternal future did not become a driving force behind either theology or piety. Salvation remained participation in God's restoration of the world, as it had been in the patristic age, rather than becoming individual rescue from hell, as it did in the second millennium in the west. God and "man" were not at odds with one another quite the way they became in the medieval west.

Now from what I know, (and I went to college with the daughter of an Eastern Orthodox priest who gave me a Bible so that I could do well in my Old Testament survey class) they use the same Bible that we use. The Bible Lydia gave me, that came from her father, was your basic King James version. There was nothing special and Eastern Orthodox-y about it, I don't remember that there were any extra books or anything.

So, if they are using the same Bible, but coming to some different conclusions about how sin and salvation operate, then isn't it just possible that those are culturally conditioned? And if they are culturally conditioned, then what indeed is the "authority" of Scripture to which we constantly refer?

You see I don't have any problem with the Bible being the inspired Word of God. But I do have a problem when it comes down to it being a book of rules and regulations because it was written a very long time ago in a culture that was very different from ours and becomes much like a phone conversation that we can only hear one half of. If we're not also hearing from God in this conversation and making His activity in our life actually transcendent to scripture then I think we've sort of declared that He's dead and made ourselves gods in His place. I think that's what people do when they get so locked into the "authority" of Scripture. But maybe that's just me ...

25 November 2005

Identity vs. Authority

For a new look at an old book click here. But only if you want to read about some fairly dense theological debates.

23 November 2005

Nothing Is New Under the Sun

On our last shopping trip to Costco, I picked up Jimmy Carter's newest book, Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis. It has become my bedtime reading and it's quite good. I've always had an enormous respect for Mr. Carter and thought that his biggest problem when he was president was that he was, perhaps, too good for the job. By that I mean he was, and is, too morally upright to perform in that position. But that's for another discussion.

He begins the book with a description of his faith and his faith journey throughout his life. It's very interesting. It also becomes very clear that he is most distressed with the Southern Baptist Convention, the church of his youth. In fact, he and Rosalyn have left that church. When I was first reading about it, I thought it was anger and there is certainly some of that. But the further I've gotten into the book, the more I'm becoming convinced that he is also heartbroken over how the church is misrepresenting God and Jesus to the world. One of his comments was particularly interesting. He said (and I'm paraphrasing, because I'm supposed to be cleaning for the Thanksgiving Extravaganza, NOT blogging) that the church is not supposed to be administered by CEO's with top-heavy bosses, that the church should take it's direction and model from Jesus who came not to be served but to serve.

And then I read this today in my Book of Celtic Daily Prayer. It's St. Columbanus' Day today and this is an excerpt from his Letter to a Young Disciple:

"Too many of our models for authority are ones of hierarchy or domination. We think of rulers and leaders as those who are over other people and supported by them. Instead of a pyramid model where the few dominate the many, in God's Kingdom it is more helpful to picture a huge saucer into which is thrown all the people of God in all their giftedness, from the least to the greatest. Those more strongly gifted for ministry will not rise to the top, but sink to the bottom where they may undergird and provoke the rest of the people of God."

Hmmm ... in the 600's A.D. they were struggling with these same issues. I shouldn't be surprised, and a part of me isn't. I'm glad to know that Jimmy Carter is a latter-day Columbanus, calling us to a higher plane. I'm also slightly relieved to know that these problems have been around for a long time. But, you know, I wish it weren't so egregious. I wish we'd made some progress in the intervening 1400 years.

22 November 2005

Memory Lane ... Tuesday

The comment that my mother sent in for the post about profanity reminded me of this memory of her parents (my grandparents). Read those comments to get a feel for my mom's attitude about profanity and words that hurt because then you'll have a better understanding of the house that I grew up in. But maybe I'll describe a little of it here too.

Because neither of my parents especially believe in God they do not ascribe to the theory that they should keep His name holy. So I heard his "name taken in vain" fairly frequently (shall we say). It is a well known family story that when I was three I thought the family dog's name was goddamndog (all one word). Because I heard this and the "JC" heard spoken in times of high emotion frequently, I picked it up and so also used them as words spoken to express emotional distress. I didn't know any better and thought them better than sh!t or the F word and all of the other curse words, for which I and my friends came up with an elaborate system of hand signals, only one of which any of you would now recognize.

When I was 9 I went to visit my mother's parents for about 3 weeks. Now (as you know from my mom's comment) they had somewhat different standards than my mother. So before I left, she sat me down and told me of how it would hurt their feelings if I were to go around saying g-d and j-c all the time. So we came up with what we thought were acceptable alternatives, "jeesum crow" and "goll dang it" or "golly" or "darn it". And off I went to spend time with my beloved grandparents. And I did love them; almost worshiped them. I thought they were wonderful and they returned the favor.

So I was very, very careful to not disturb them and their tender ears. I did not want to hurt their feelings with my harsh words. I didn't know why those words would hurt them, but I was not going to test those waters. I carefully used jeesum crow, goll dang it and all. But one night, not long after I arrived, my Grammy came up to kiss me goodnight as I was reading my book before bed. She sat down on the side of my bed and said, "Now, darling, your grandfather and I know how hard you are trying to please us. And we know that your parents do things differently than we do. But when you say those words, jeesum crow and goll dang it, we know what you **really** mean and that hurts us, so please don't say them any more."

I was stunned.

I mean ....


Okay, I really didn't think that because I was only 9, but I would have if I'd known about it. I did NOT know what to do. I just remember thinking a 9 year old's version of, "She's pulled the rug out from under me." Now I had NOTHING. What was I supposed to say? What words was I supposed to use to express emotional distress??? She never did tell me that and I still don't know.

21 November 2005

Postmodern Boxes

Upon overhearing one of many deconstruction conversations in our home, Lightboy had this to say:

"There's a problem, Mom. You can't put God in a box. Cause He'll just, you know, float out of it."

Why, yes, I think He will.

20 November 2005


I'm on the team that plans, prepares and then puts on our worship services at my church each week. Sometimes it feels like circus of fools running around (my apologies to all my friends on the team reading this) chasing after our own shadows. But then there are the days when I know that God is working here. I know that most Sunday mornings because we always show up with only about two thirds of a service, so I'm quite sure that He provides the other third. But today something very special happened. Today we had a wedding. But it was more than that. Let me tell you the story.

The story began back in August and yet it also began two and a half years ago, and then it also began thirty years ago. Here's what I mean. In August we (the team) had to begin thinking about what we might prepare for a fall series. It began to be apparent that we should think about working our way through the Sermon on the Mount (that teaching that is recounted in the gospel of Matthew chapters 5 through 7). And at the same time, a young couple in our church made the decision to get married and then they did in a very short amount of time (like 6 weeks).

On the first week of our series this young couple was not present to hear where we would begin because they were in the bride's hometown ... getting married. The second week of this series they were again not present because they were ... on their honeymoon. So they did not hear about our focus on how Jesus talked about living in the kingdom meaning being a life lived without manipulating others, a life lived entirely depending on God for His sustenance in relationships.

Today we finished our look at the kingdom by focusing on this couple and their wedding because Jesus often talked about his relationship to his church using the metaphor of bride and groom. And for some reason it seemed to fit. At the end of the service we asked this couple to recount their courtship and renew their vows for us. It was a beautiful picture of God moving among us to hear how they had committed to being friends for a year before dating, despite the (now) husband's intense romantic interest in the woman. As they told their story, the words, "living without manipulation," came to mind. They learned, in the crucible of their early relationship to live in the Kingdom and completely unwittingly presented to us a pure example of what that life looks like.

God is so good sometimes it just takes my breath away.

19 November 2005


I'm recovering from this dread disease, but it's not going as quickly as I'd like. I've had to get a second round of antibiotics. I knew this would happen. It came about the other day when it felt as though someone were stabbing me in the ear with a knitting needle every time I blew my nose. I'm beginning to more and more slowly improve, tho. But I'm still spending a lot of time on my computer.

I've discovered that there are a LOT of bloggers out there. "No, DUH!" you say. I know. Or I should have known. I did know in the back of my mind. But I've been finding them. There are lots and lots and lots of blogrrs. Some of them are really, really good. Most of them are not. But here is a nearly universal discovery I've made. Through blogging we (the collective "we") have come to a place where we can now curse in print and "get away with it." It can be printed in decent society and no one will bat an eyelash. Here's how it's done. People write it like this: WTF, or wtf. I've seen it done in some very respectible places now. I've even seen this: WTFWJD (think WWJD and you'll get it). And of course, that left me howling with laughter.

I'm not sure what to think about this. Print media seemed to be the last bastion where profanity was only used in "certain" appropriate conversations in novels. And you knew when you were going to come across them. Now I think it's going to surprise us everywhere. Not, as most of you know, that I have a particularly clean mouth. But I just wonder how this will change us. Where will this take us? I'm not sure it's a good thing.

18 November 2005

Two Birthdays and an Anniversary

When I first wrote this, I was going to put a picture in this spot. It's a picture of me and my brothers and all of our cousins on my mother's side of our family. I was 7 when this picture was taken, making my youngest brother about 3 (and the youngest cousin) and my oldest cousin was about 15 or 16. But the picture was on a hard drive of LightHusband's that crashed last summer. So you'll just have to imagine it. And you won't be able to find me in it. My mother is looking for it and if she finds it, I'll post it.

Look at those cherubs. Aren't they cute? Well ... they're all grown up now, all with children of their own. That's the first, last and only time we were all together in one place at one time. I'm glad we've got this photo, taken in December 1968. Can you find me in there? Two of my cousins celebrate their birthday today (brother and sister, but not twins; they are separated by 4 years), and our mutual grandfather died 25 years ago last Friday. I meant to write about that then, but I was sick and the words wouldn't come.

Grampy O. (as we all called him) was larger than life to us. Or at least to me and I daresay I'm speaking for my cousins and brothers too. He loved life and he loved to tell stories. He left us with a lot of stories too. Some were true. Like the story of how he helped bring penicillin and antibiotics to all of us. He almost died of sinus infections during World War II and was among the first civilians to be treated with penicillin. He had holes in the bones in his face where the infection had taken hold and had to be removed, the skin covered it, but you could seen them.

Then there was the time when, as a boy, he tried to sell dandylion greens to the only "colored" woman in his hometown in Rhode Island. He had been told this was a good idea by his neighbor, a sea captain. Somehow it led to him being painted green from head to toe. I suspect that's the part he made up over the years.

We never lived very close by to my grandparents but through letters he was an enormous influence on me. He had emphysema for about ten years or more before he died and was limited in his physical activity. So he wrote letters. Long letters to many people, I suspect. I was one of them. They were always full of love, hope and encouragement. I still have many of those letters and I love to read them.

I remember the night he died very clearly. My mother's phone call came on my friend's pale blue phone and suddenly the familiar surroundings of her room were surreal in the face of death. I suspect his death did not come as suddenly to my mother as it did to me, being an oblivious nineteen year old. But I remember wondering how I was ever going to walk again under the weight of that pain.

14 November 2005


While I was sick (and I have to say that I'm still recovering, because I have to take it slow and I have to remind myself of that), life pretty much went on in a normal fashion for the rest of the family. Except for me barking at them from my chair. One thing was different, but this was pre-planned and would have happened whether or not I was sick. LightGirl and LightBoy are taking a class this year called Kids Can Make a Difference. It's taught by another homeschooling mom in a nearby town to help kids understand about poverty and hunger in the world and what they can do about it now and throughout their lives. Usually they go to class in the afternoon, but last week they went to a food bank with their teacher of an evening. This was a good experience for them. The shocking part for me was when they came home, LightGirl came through the front door as an adult.

Maybe I was dizzy from all the (you know) in my head, or the drugs, and she has gotten taller. But when she walked through the door, an adult came walking in. It was quite startling. I commented on this to my own mother and she laughed and said, "Oh I remember the first time that happened with you. The problem is that then you expect adult behavior too and that's a lot longer in coming."

I've also noticed lately that when LightGirl stands next to me she has an adult presence to her now. She is less ephemeral and more solidly here. She is more willing to take me on, challenge me, run her iron against mine and see how it works; can she best me without bending or breaking? Sometimes I let her win, so that she knows how. But I make her work for it.

Then this morning she came downstairs and said, "Mom, I have no clean clothes." Making it very clear that she has peeked out over the edge of the nest and decided that the drop is too far for the moment and she does not trust her wings.

12 November 2005

I'm Schroeder ...

... which Peanuts character are you?

10 November 2005

Name Game

Day Four ... and ... I think I'll change chairs today. I must warn those who live next to me that I am not pleasant. Altho I don't think they need much warning. They are just giving me a wide berth which doesn't make me any happier. This is doing nothing for my spiritual formation either. I have never been a very patient patient. I remember that my mother would exclaim in exasperation, "Your brother sleeps when he gets sick! And then he gets better. Why don't you ever sleep?!!" Well ... ummm ... I would if I could. Instead I'm awake and whiney. I understand now why that was so frustrating for her.

My church is, and has been for about a year now, going through a process of renaming itself. This process has taken the form of an ongoing conversation that has had long gaps. The conversation has restarted recently and been quite lively. We really need to have a new name by the first of the year for some logistical reasons, so now there is a deadline. This has added to the liveliness of the conversation. Many names have been suggested, some funny, some serious, all interesting.

Momentum seems to have gathered around this: Wayfarers Fellowship. Except that ... well ... it's unwieldy. And "Fellowship" is uncomfortably too Christian-y for many of us. There are many who would like a term in its place that signifies a gathering, but which doesn't quite so loudly say "church." So, insert the word "Table"? So we could have: Wayfarers Table? I really like this name. I like the images of journeys that it conveys. I like the idea that anyone is welcome to join us at the "Table" ... anyone ... at any stage of their journey may come and sit for awhile at our table. For any while that they choose.

But then ... Wayfarers conjures up images of things Celtic for some. And that is true. And in the broad, popular sense it might not be sensible to be associated with things Celtic, if there are those who find it offensive.

On the other hand, we are at heart a very Celtic church. And this would be true if we never said one more Celtic prayer, never again played a Celtic song. It has nothing to do with Celtic crosses, or liturgy, or shamrocks or St. Patrick or even hobbitses (bless 'em). Look at the heart of our church and the things that individuals here are concerned with and you will see a latter-day incarnation of the church in Ireland of the 600s A.D. It was an outpost, concerned with a "purple" gospel (that is, both the sin within and the sin without). The church in Ireland was at odds with the church in Rome, but still considered itself fully a part of it. The men and women of the church in Ireland
accepted all who came and were concerned with learning and taught those who came to see God in everything and everywhere.

So I think that whatever we call ourselves, in our heart we are a Celtic church ... and that has very little to do with popular literature, and very much to do with where God is calling us as a body.

My Favorite Color

LightGirl is always after me to declare my "favorite color." It's a question she asks often, "Mom, what's your favorite color?" I've found that difficult to answer in the past. It depends, you see, on what I'm using the color for. For instance, I love yellow, but I can't wear yellow ... it makes me look sick. I have a strong preference for red, but sometimes it can come on too strong and it should be used sparingly. So, you see, a favorite color depends on what you're doing with it. But I think, now I might have a favorite. And I think it might be purple.

09 November 2005

Spiritual Formation

So as it turns out I'm on sick day number three. It takes awhile to kick bronchitis, sinusitis and two ear infections ... even with a good antibiotic. And I'm getting bored. I still have no energy, but now I'm sitting here thinking about all the things I need to be doing, but have no energy or am too dizzy to do. And I'm bored. There are only so many websites and television programs and then one gets a bit stir crazy. Especially when you have things that you really want to do.

As it turns out I have a friend. Yes, one friend ... for all you chucklers and chortlers out there. He has been elevated to the most high "Director of Spiritual Formation" for a national ministry. This makes LightHusband and I grin because we've been friends with him for quite some time and a title such as "Director of Spiritual Formation" is sort of ... well ... formal for this friend of ours. There is perhaps no one I know more deserving of it ... but still ... it's sort of like suddenly being related to the president or something.

In any case, in his new role our friend is developing some resources for his ministry base to help with their "spiritual formation." And yesterday he sent us (among many others I am sure) a form to fill out asking us some questions about our "spiritual formation." I was glad for the diversion, because, as I may have mentioned, I'm bored.

Here was my "out-of-the-box" description of spiritual formation:

I think that most people think it can be done in the classroom, or in the sanctuary during the weekly sermon/lecture. But really, I think it only happens in one-on-one relationships (not necessarily mentoring relationships) but times where people are working things out in the nitty-gritty of life in community. I think that most spiritual formation happens in the context of community, not in individual spiritual disciplines. Mostly because that's where we get tripped up, and screw up and find out just how puny and withered and small our version of love is. And if, in those moments, we can be really honest with ourselves and then turn to Christ and in Him find the courage to be just a little bit more like Him ... those are the moments when spiritual formation happens. But maybe I'm being a little too unrealistic.

And here was my friend's response:

THAT IS A GREAT description of what I would say is an indicator, fruit - if you will, or determiner of how well you are "progressing" in the journey. You see there may have been a day when you didn't even realize that you were screwing up?! Or there may have been a day you began to realize you were screwing up and just felt GUILTY... then came the day you were screwing up and you realized you needed to Call out...

What I believe individual and corporate exercises or disciplines help us in our Spiritual Formation in being the conduit or the medium through which God's spirit rushes in and begins to actually do the work that forms us and morphs us...

So ... what? Why am bloggin about this? Because I began to wonder as I sit in my chair with just enough energy to be bored, what is this that we call spiritual formation? How does it happen? In what context? What do you think? Mostly I'm asking out of my own curiosity. But if you'd like to help my friend out on an official basis, drop me an e-mail and I'll put you in touch with him, and you can fill out his form too.

08 November 2005


On his last birthday we thought it would be a good idea to give LightBoy an aquarium. He thought it was a good idea too. We've had great fun stocking this tank. It is what is known as a community tank. That is, there is no one fish ... we have lots of different kinds of fish. And snails. LOTS of snails. When we started we only had two snails. For some reason it never occurred to us that the snails might reproduce. But they have. Cheerfully (I guess). Plentifully. Often. Now we have many little snail-lets cruising around the tank. Little Garys for those of you Sponge-Bob fans.

So we called our local aquarium supplier to ask them to take our overflow. We thought maybe they could sell our snail-lets. We didn't want them to buy the snails; we are willing to give them back. But here is how the conversation went:

LightHusband: "We bought two snails from you several months ago. Now we have about 50 snails. Can you take some of them back?"

Aquarium Supplier: "Well, we have too many snails too. We recommend a product called 'Had-A-Snail. One half cup in your tank and all your snails will die."

LightHusband: "oh ... well ... thank you then."

Anybody want a snail? We have a few ...

07 November 2005

A Change of Heart

So I'm taking a sick day today. It's sort of hard to do when you're a stay at home mom who homeschools. But here's how. You sit in your chair wrapped in an afghan with your laptop and refuse to move. Okay, so I moved long enough to go to the doctor's office. He pronounced me very sick ... with bronchitis, sinusitis and an ear infection. I had a fever and everything. For those who don't know me this well (and they are few) I almost never run a fever as far as the doctor is concerned because my "normal" is about 97.6. So when I get up to everyone else's normal, I'm running a fever ... but I can never convince the doctors of that. But today I had a bona fide fever ... 100.7. I'm not particularly happy about this, but at least I have my lap top to keep me entertained and nothing important on my schedule. This is the kind of illness that makes me heartily wish I'd never read Stephen King's The Stand.

While I was waiting at the doctor's office I picked up the latest issue of Christianity Today. We used to subscribe to this but let our subscription lapse a number of years ago for a variety of reasons. I still like the magazine, but it has far too much advertising. One of my favorite parts is The Back Page, a column which is shared by Chuck Colson and Phil Yancy. They are two of my favorite authors. This may come as a surprise to a lot of you. But I happen to really like Chuck Colson. I used to work for him ... well ... really his ministry, Prison Fellowship. This month the column was written by Chuck. I realized as I read it, that I've missed reading him. He is a very strong writer; concise, strong arguments. He was a good lawyer for that reason. It's what got him in trouble, after all.

The title of the column is Machiavellian Morality. You can get to it by clicking on the title. I'd suggest reading it. It's pretty good. In it Chuck revisits Watergate and particularly the uncovering of Deep Throat earlier this year. He talks about how it was revealed that Mark Felt was Deep Throat and the led to a rash of interviews, etc. for him (Chuck). He was asked over and over again whether or not he thought Mr. Felt was a hero. He replied that he did not think so. That Mr. Felt had several options of how to reveal the information that he had and that he had chosen the path that was illegal. Of course, Mr. Nixon and his merry band were also doing illegal things too, Mr. Colson included. And Chuck does not gloss over that. But he is clearly saddened by the fact that of all the lessons we could have, should have and would have learned from Watergate, the most important have been completely lost. That is that the ends do NOT justify the means.

I thought it kind of funny (not ha ha either) that we just looked at this yesterday at my church. We engaged with the part of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:17-48) where Jesus talks about how to treat people. Just how are we to make decisions like the ones Mr. Felt and Mr. Nixon and Mr. Colson made 30 some odd years ago? What standards are we to use? Jesus didn't give us a whole lot of wiggle room. And Chuck owns that. He owns that he made bad decisions and so did Mr. Felt. He wishes they'd done a better job. He wants us all to reconsider how we make our decisions and hark back to a sterner morality. One that is more black and white. He has very good reasons for this. I understand them. Especially in light of what Jesus has to say on the subject and his expectations of us. I found myself agreeing with Mr. Colson ... which wasn't as spectacular as you might think.

But here was the rub, as they say. The problem I keep running up against. Too often what I find (and I don't necessarily think this is the case with Mr. Colson), is that churches and leaders ask people to make these behavioral changes without making any changes in their hearts. So it becomes a whitewash. I think that's what Jesus may have been referring to when he called the Pharisees, whitewashed tombs ... beautiful, empty graves. I think being able to do the right thing, for the right reasons even in very, very difficult circumstances must begin in someone's heart and not in their head. That even if you know what the right thing to do is, if your heart is not in the right place, even if you do the right thing without the right motives, it becomes an empty act, an act of death. That eventually the reality of who you really are will leak out around the edges. So, I guess what I'm really saying is that Machiavellian Morality is what we're left with until we start convincing people to change their hearts. And I'm not really sure what to do with that. It's too big for me.

Who Won?

LightBoy was invited to a hockey game yesterday. Our friends from Canada are devoted fans. They get tickets every year to Washington Capitals games when the Caps play Canadian teams. They had an extra ticket yesterday and offered to take LightBoy with them. He was very excited. They picked him up at the appointed time and off they went. Upon his return, he burst through door waving a piece of paper and yelling, "Look what I won." He had a gift certificate for free Chipotle's burrito. He could barely contain his excitement. Then we asked, "So who won?" His reply: "I did. I won a free burrito."

Long pause as we bite the insides of our cheeks to keep from laughing out loud.

"No, honey, who won the hockey game?"

"Oh ..... that. ... I dunno."

01 November 2005

Announcing ...

... my brother!

He now produces jam under a private label for King Arthur Flour. Check it out ... this is my family's jam (Side Hill Farm) packaged for King Arthur. Way cool ... way to go bro; big sistah's proud.