27 December 2005


Boxing Day, that's the day after Christmas, was very quiet for us. We sat around. I emptied out my sewing area and set up my new sewing table. Whoo hoo. I've never had a "for real" sewing table. You know, the kind that's made to fit an actual sewing machine. I've been sewing since I was 8 years old and I've always had a sewing machine on a regular table. So now I feel as if I've "arrived." Now I'm for real myself. I've been sewing for 33 years and quilting for 9 and now I'm real. Hmmm ...

In the evening we discovered that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was on Pay Per View. Since the LightHusband had not seen it with us in the theatre, we decided to "rent" it and watch it together as a family. So we did. We ate popcorn for dinner. And juice (to make it healthy). I ate some of the chocolate that was in my stocking from Christmas morning. It's hard to watch this movie and not lust after chocolate.

I realized some things that I hadn't particularly noticed the first time around. First, it seems to be trendy to slap moviegoers upside the head with psychodrama these days. This was the case with Narnia, and I noticed it here too. In Narnia we were given all sorts of psychological reasons why Edmund was angry, resentful and bitter and thus betrayed his siblings. In, Charlie, we're given all sorts of psychological reasons why Willy Wonka is a disturbed chocolatier. Roald Dahl never wrote those into the story. C.S. Lewis never wrote any reasons into his story. Both preferred to let the reader use their imaginations to come to their own conclusions. However, moviemakers do not. They obligingly fill in ALL the blanks for us. I find this trend disturbing. I do not want all the blanks filled in for me. I like to be able to think, to imagine, to be encouraged to use my brain. I recognize that this movie is primarily aimed at children, but I want my children to be encouraged to think, to imagine and to use their brains as well. I do not want all of their blanks filled in either. I want them to struggle with the story a little bit, to have some questions unanswered that they must think about and wonder about. It's what helps them to grow.

The second thing I noticed about the movie was how redemptive the storyline is. And it started me thinking about stories in general. All of the really great stories are about redemption on some level. About taking evil and making something good out of it. Or about good defeating evil. We always want the white hats to win. So the classics, the stories that have stood the test of time, have something of redemption in them (I think). I think it has to do with that bit by Blaise Pascal about the God-shaped hole in us. Or maybe it's just the part of us that longs for our Creator whether or not we know Him or Her. I'm not sure what exactly it is, but I think it's that piece of the author or the artist that is calling out to the song of creation, that song we no longer hear, but can only imagine.

23 December 2005

Dear Dad

Happy Birthday!

Today, 74 years ago in a house on Althea Street, West Springfield, Massachusetts, you made your entrance into the world. You were born into a family of older half-siblings, little space, big heart, courage, intelligence and grace.

When I was young, I thought for sure you should remember the Depression. Now I realize how silly that is. You probably remember WWII, but the Depression is no more real to you than the 60's are to me.

You were about to turn 30 when I was born, about to graduate from college, about to begin your life. Except you had also already lived a good life too. Served in the USAF in Alaska, been a carpenter, gone to Community College, terrorized your mother, bedeviled your sister, read to your blind grandmother, and occasionally, begrudgingly obeyed your father.

You are neither part of the so-called Greatest Generation nor the Boomer Generation and I am glad, for you are unique. You have taught me to think for myself, stand against the tide, and speak truth into a whirlwind. As I grow older and learn to find my voice, I am discovering in it echos of yours and I am proud to claim it.

One of your grandchildren recently declared, "Grampy ... he thinks, that what he does." So, Dad, have a Happy Birthday. I hope you get to think!!

Love, your favorite daughter ;-)

22 December 2005

Poetry Thursday - Angelou

Amazing Peace (A Christmas Poem)
by Maya Angelou

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Floodwaters await in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and gray and threatening.

We question ourselves. What have we done to
so affront nature?
We interrogate and worry God.
Are you there? Are you there, really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension,
Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the
bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightening sleeps
quietly in the corner.
Floodwaters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children.
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they
walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth, brightening all things,
Even hate, which crouches breeding in
dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by
its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait awhile with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you to stay awhile with us
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to
each other.

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues the coming of hope.
All the earth's tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.

We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Nonbelievers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves,
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation:

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul

21 December 2005


Spoiler Alert - I'm going to complain!

Update - Here is a review at Amy Loves Books that says it even better!

Okay ... I'm probably the only "Christian" in the land who is complaining about the latest, greatest thing since Jesus. But yes, I'm going to. This movie is a Disney travesty of the book. I say this as an aficianado of the "real" Narnia. I say this as someone who gaped with anticipation at the trailers a year ago. I say this as someone who was breathless for three years running each December when a new Lord of the Rings movie came out. But this movie was a dud.

It began in the beginning. I don't need to be hit over the head with foreshadowing of why Edmund is angry, impulsive and "sinful." Clive handled him more delicately and one would think that using the medium of the big screen the writers for Walt could have too.

Beware Narnia lovers everywhere, when you attend this movie the credits roll "Based upon the book by C.S. Lewis," and should have read "Loosely based..." The screenwriters took great liberties with the book and did nothing to enhance it.

Other complaints have to do with techniques used to film Aslan's resurrection from the dead. I'm sorry, Lewis didn't have Thomas Kinkade in mind when he wrote that scene ... mostly because Kinkade had yet to be born. In fact, there were several scenes in the movie that Kinkade seemed to have painted and that made me want to (well, I'll stop there in the interests of decency).

The Stone Table was not based upon Stonehenge ... no how ... no way. That does not make any sense. UPDATE: I forgot ... This was a huge oversight on the part of the screenwriters. They are not mythologists, that is clear. It bugged me to no end. You DON'T ride Unicorns!! Ever. No one ever rides unicorns. It's ... like ... a rule and it cannot be broken.

And here's my final critique. However, I must also critique the book here, because this was faithful to the book. It was the scene where Aslan presents himself to be sacrificed. In the movie and (to a lesser extent) in the book, all the forces of evil come out to celebrate and participate in the killing. But here Lewis (in the book) gets himself mixed up. Because if Aslan is the Christ-figure, Lewis knew as well as I know that evil didn't kill Christ. What killed Christ was, as Edmund Burke said, good men doing nothing. Evil men did not come out and party at the cross. Good men and women did. Men and women like you and me. The people who cheered and jeered Jesus on the via Dela Rosa and at Calvary were not twisted evil figures, they looked just like me ... and you.

19 December 2005

A Cat Far From Home

Yesterday we splurged, the LightFamily and I. We went to a local tree lot and found us a tree. We got a Christmas tree. Yes we did.

This morning we tidied the livingroom and cleared out a corner and put up the tree and let the branches fall out as the tree warmed up.

This evening we giggled and danced and hung the ornaments. We tripped over boxes. We drank hot chocolate and ate horrible oversweet store-bought Christmas cookies and listened to Christmas music. Then a song came on via iTunes and said I to the LightHusband, "This is really good, but I wonder if the Stray Cats ever did a Christmas song?" He said, "I don't know."

So I grabbed the laptop to investigate the iTunes music store and discovered that the very song that was playing was Nutcracker Suite ...

... by Brian Setzer!

HAH ... can I pick em? or what!!

18 December 2005

Sharon's Christmas Prayer

this is an audio post - click to play

This poem came from a
blog I've been following for a bit now.

15 December 2005

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

No, I'm not (for once) talking about U2. At least not overtly. LightHusband and I were talking again. Yep, it does happen. But we were talking about that certain something, that je ne sais pas, that sets the emerging cohort apart from the rest of the institutional church. We were trying to get our arms around it. This discussion stemmed from a number of things. Not the least of which was a discussion on an e-mail loop we belong to where there's been an ongoing discussion of the existence of absolute truth (whether or not it exists). We've also been doing some reading in the blog-o-sphere and found a rather wide range of opinions out there about literally everything under the sun!! If you can think of it, someone has blogged on it. I can almost guarantee it.

In any case, one of the things we finally were able to put our fingers on was this. Well, I feel I have to back up here, and give a few definitions first. I want to define at least one term. That term has to do with generations. For the most part I'm going to speak in generalizations. I hate to do that; generalizing paints in such broad brushes that it leaves no details and wipes all the beauty and grainlines that are necessary for good dialog. It packages people into boxes and puts labels on them. I don't like to do that, because I really believe that for the most part, most of us are a messy mix of a lot of different things and when you put a label on a person you create a wall that prevents communication. But, with all of that said, I'm still (here) going to use some labels for some people groups because it's going to make the telling of this a whole lot easier. And when all is said and done, it's all about me ;-), ain't it!

So, one of the terms I want to use has to do with moderns and post-moderns. Or I might use baby-boomers and gen x. I'm not sure what to use here because sometimes I empathize with one group and sometimes with the other. Altho on the whole, I have to say I'm more often post-modern, but I really don't know what that is. All I know is that most often it's spoken of pejoratively. Or as if those who are post-modern might believe in the boogey man. But I'm neither of those things. So, I'm going to stumble through this as best I can with some very limited terminology. Hopefully, you'll stumble through it with me.

I'm part of a cohort group which is finding out that for some things there are no answers yet. That science, technology and logic and reason can only take us so far. That when we get to the edge of that knowledge we come to a cliff and beyond the edge of that cliff there's a vast realm of mystery. Do we know how vast the realm of mystery is? No. Do we care? Some do. Some are just fascinated by the mystery itself. Some are just sitting on the edge of the cliff kicking their feet on the rocks. Some are standing on the edge of the cliff, hollering into it and hearing their voice echo back. Some are watching the clouds go by. Some are casting about to find a path down into the canyon. There are many different ways of approaching this cliff at the edge of our knowledge, but we're all embracing the mystery for what it is. This doesn't mean we eschew the knowledge (truth?) that we already have. It does mean we're exploring that knowledge in light of the mystery.

The cohort group (moderns, baby boomers, whatever-you-want-to-call-them) who go before mine, get to that cliff at the edge of knowledge and are convinced that the wonders of science, technology, logic and reason can build a bridge across it. Can conquer it and tame it and make it useful for humankind. No matter that the process might forever change and ruin the canyon, destroy the mystery. It must be brought under the thrall of humans for our use/abuse. They are threatened, for some reason, by those who just want to embrace the mystery. They must attempt to conquer the mystery or ignore it, but embracing it and exploring it does not seem to be an option they wish to acknowledge.

I'm not certain that either way is the "right" way. I just know which one is working for me. And I know that I'd like the chance to explore without being called names. I know that I'm an adult and I'd like to be trusted as one. Most of all, as a Christian, I extend grace and mercy to my brothers and sisters in the faith and I'd like to have a little come back this way. I think that's an important part of being the Body to one another.

So while I still haven't found what I'm looking for, I'm enjoying the journey. It's all part of embracing the mystery. I'm hollering into the canyon and listening for the echo ...

14 December 2005


Back when I was sick last month (as you may recall) I spent a lot of time in my chair, and on my laptop prowling the internet. I won't tell you that it was all fun and games, but I found some new acquaintances that I'm getting to know in the blog-o-sphere. I'm really enjoying this experience. I set out to find some women who had some similar faith paths as mine. It turned out to be not so easy for a time. But then I found this young woman, who practices the Quaker faith. I have long been drawn to the Quaker expression of faith, so I really enjoy reading her blog. Her most recent post is very interesting. I think you would all enjoy it here. She is looking for people's posts about the Emerging church/conversation and the Quaker church (but not necessarily both together, if I understand her correctly), and if/how the emerging conversation fits within other denominations. So read her yourself, she is engaging and delightful.

Yep ... I'm Procrastinating

The Cure Shares Your Taste in Music

See their whole playlist here (iTunes required)

13 December 2005

Kids Say the Darndest Things

The City Girl recounted how her daughter attempted to raise some Christmas shopping money and it had me in stitches. I remember LightGirl doing much the same thing one year. But it also made me think of this.

It's right up there with the popcorn stand that LightBoy is going to set up on the sidewalk outside our house. He's going to hire his friends that live down the street to work at it. He's told me he needs me to purchase some lunch bags to sell the popcorn in. Then he also needs a barcode scanner so he can scan the prices. That's what he told me. He's just dying to get a barcode scanner. Today he's decided to sell his Bionicle creations on Lego.com so he can get a bar code scanner. He got mad at me that I posted the photograph of his Bionicles on my blog. Really ... he very nearly burst into tears when I showed him the post. Which surprised me. I thought he'd be happy that I was showing off his creations. Then he critiqued my blog because I didn't tell enough about each creation.

But what he really, really wants in life right now is a barcode scanner and to develop a business plan. I'm not kidding.

Kids ... oy.

Reading Material

This article, by Scot McKnight, is an excellent rendition of the gospel for all of us. A must read. But, do yourself a favor and give yourself plenty of time to let it gestate, and ponder it well. There's a lot there that will sink in and give you a breath of fresh air.

12 December 2005

When The Cat's Away ...

... the mice do play. So tonight was my quilt guild meeting. As I left, my loving LightHusband asked what he could do while I was gone. "Well, that basket of laundry needs to be put away." was my reply. Upon my return, the basket had not moved and this photo was in my e-mail in-box. Hmmmm .... I think LightBoy out manuevered me.

11 December 2005

Peace ... Pax ... Paz ...

There are a lot of ways to say it. But keep praying in this season of peace for the American, British and Canadian hostages in Iraq. While you are praying for their release, for their aid and comfort, you might also pray for all of the prisoners of this war. Pray for the prisoners who have been held in Guantanamo Bay for almost 3 years now with no charges against them, they are all husbands, brothers, fathers, and grandfathers to someone. Pray for the prisoners of war who are held in other prisons that they would be comforted, and given peace.

"If the enemy incline to peace, then make peace with them and trust in God; surely He is One that hears and knows all things" Al-Quran.

"But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven." Jesus

Here is a website with information about all four hostages and, specifically information about Tom Fox, the American peacemaker being held in Iraq.

10 December 2005

Kingdom View

So most of you know how much I love U2. Yes ... I do. But there is a reason. The band has heart and soul. And if anyone ever tries to question their faith, point that person to this article. Cause U2


... even if we are old.

Family Tree

This is my great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Ramsdell (with my great grandmother and my great uncle Paul and my Grammy Charlotte on his knee). He was father to my paternal grandmother. All I knew about him for all of my growing up years was that he was a Baptist minister. But it was said in such a way, that I saw, in my child's mind, a hick back-country preacher raging under a revival tent somewhere in the woods of Maine:

58. Thomas Jefferson6 Ramsdell (Mary Mehitable5 McGlauflin, William4, James3 MacLachlan, James2, John1) was born in Lubec, Washington, ME 13 November 1859. Thomas died 6 June 1953 in Hampden, Penobscot, ME, at 93 years of age. His body was interred in South Paris, Oxford, ME.

He married twice. He married Katherine Mary Ellis 13 May 1896 in Calais, Washington, ME. Katherine was born 28 December 1876 in South Paris, Oxford, ME. Katherine died 19 December 1906 in Caribou, Aroostook, ME, at 29 years of age. He married Minetta Joy Kitchen 30 December 1908. Thomas graduated from Colby College in 1886, Newton Theological Seminary in 1889, and received a Doctorate of Divinity from Colby College in 1912. Thomas held pastorates in Maine at South Paris, Caribou, Calais, Charlestown and Burnham. He retired on 24 March 1939 after 50 years service. One of his most outstanding career achievements involved presiding over the meeting on 8 Oct, 1915 which fused the Maine Baptists and the Freewill Baptists into the United Baptists, split since 1780.

Then, when LightGirl was about a year and a half old, I went and spent a day with my great uncle Paul (it was about 2 years before he died). He told me about my great grandfather and his passion for the church and his love for God. He told me about his own passion for Jesus and for children. I've never forgotten that day. Uncle Paul gave me something, even tho we brought him lunch and left with our hands empty. He passed something to me and I haven't forgotten it, but I don't have it firmly in my grasp yet, either.

The thing I'm really wondering about these days tho, as I read about more and more divisiveness within the Church, is that I have this family history of reconciliation and I wonder what I'm supposed to do with it. The story is buried in family papers that I have in my basement. I need to find them. There is something in that story that I need to have. I don't know what it is. Pray for me as I dig through the past to find the present.

Because here's the thing. As I've been following the discussions out in the blogosphere between the "institutional" folks and the "emerging" folks, I keep thinking that somehow everyone is missing the point. We've forgotten that collectively we are the Bride of Christ. We've all forgotten that collectively, we “are.” Collectively. We are collectively supposed to be a community of one in Christ. I don’t know quite where else to say this. But it breaks my heart right now, that of her own doing, this Bride is dressed in rags. Is it any wonder that the world has no interest in her?

On Being All Things to All People

There were 3 good arguments that Jesus was Black:

1. He called everyone brother .

2. He liked Gospel.

3. He couldn't get a fair trial.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Jewish:

1. He went into His Father's business.

2. He lived at home until he was 33.

3. He was sure his Mother was a virgin and his Mother was sure He was God.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Italian:

1. He talked with His hands.

2. He had wine with His meals.

3. He used olive oil.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was a Californian:

1. He never cut His hair.

2. He walked around barefoot all the time.

3. He started a new religion.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was an American Indian

1. He was at peace with nature.

2. He ate a lot of fish.

3. He talked about the Great Spirit.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments the Jesus was Irish:

1. He never got married.

2. He was always telling stories.

3. He loved green pastures.

But the most compelling evidence of all - 3 proofs that Jesus was a woman:

1. He fed a crowd at a moment's notice when there was no food.

2. He kept trying to get a message across to a bunch of men who just didn't get it.

3. And even when He was dead, He had to get up because there was work to do.

And everybody said,


08 December 2005

Taking the Plunge

I held my breath, squoze shut my eyes, and plunged in today.

I bought my first Christmas gifts of the 2005 Christmas season.

Last evening I had a bad moment. I sat at the dinner table full of anticipation for my quilting bee. Quilting bee is that gathering of quilting friends that I am part of that meets twice a month on Wednesday evenings. Every December we have a Christmas party and exchange small gifts and eat food and talk and laugh and do a little sewing. It's fun and quirky. But last evening as I sat in anticipation of going to bee I had a cold shiver run down my spine, because it suddenly occurred to me that it might just be the Christmas party that night and I had ....


Not one gift. Not one card. Nothing. I had just that morning of the 7th turned the calendar to December.

I looked at LightHusband and under the chatter of the children said, "I think I'll have a slice of humble pie tonight." and he looked at me and said, "what?" So I repeated myself and then explained my predicament. LightGirl thought I ought to dip into my stores of fabric and quickly (with my remaining 10 whole minutes before my ride appeared) put together some fabric pieces for my friends. What she doesn't know is that tho my stash looms large to her, it is tiny compared to most of my friends. LightBoy suggested some of our hot chocolate. But I just knew I had to have that helping of humble pie. And I was already full.

So I gathered my things together, my needle, my thread and my handiwork, my show 'n tell for the evening, my courage to face the music. Then my friend who drives appeared in the driveway. So I kissed everyone goodnight and off I went, fully prepared to have my pie and eat it too. But I knew it wasn't going to taste good.

You know what does taste good? Grace. Grace is quite tasty. Even when you're full. For you see, I found when I got in the car, our Christmas party isn't until the 21st!

So today I began to purchase gifts for nieces and nephews. It doesn't seem as overwhelming as it did yesterday when I thought I had to eat humble pie. After a helping of grace, it seems easier somehow.

07 December 2005


Here is a silly fact about me. I love getting the mail. This once caused quite a to-do between LightHusband and I. But that's another story. I really love getting it out of the box and going through all the items. Someday there just might be something there for me, or for someone in the family. Something real. Most days tho, it's just junk. This time of year the Christmas cards start coming and I like that. These days tho, I let the children get it from the box, with the proviso that they bring it to me and then I get to go through it and, of course, throw most of it away.

Last week, however, a rude shock arrived. Someone has decided that we should receive Jerry Falwell's National Liberty Journal. At first I thought it was just a mass mailing we'd somehow gotten on as the result of another list we're on, the result of an overzealous friend. But no, it's a real subscription and I have no idea how we got it. I hope it's not the same overzealous friend. Because it's being sent back, cancelled. I feel violated.

The other day I was in the grocery store and saw the Christian book kiosk turned to a very fundamentalist book and thought, "Look, what a rainbow our faith family is." And then thought, "Wow, I really must be healing, I'm getting past the hurt of the past 4 or 5 years." More and more I am able to honestly have those thoughts and feelings. Really. I am.

But then this happens. Someone tries in one way or another to tell me what to think or how to think and I'm back at square one. That's been the whole problem all along. I'm more than capable of thinking for myself and that was what brought the whole thing down on my head.

So the pretty story is that several years ago, God called to LightHusband and I. We didn't quite know what to do with that for awhile, so we piddled around and dinked around and finally left our church of 14 years. But it was on good terms and we found this great new, small church that meets in a coffee shop and we're much happier now. And we really are. But if you look carefully when we tell that story, you'll find that behind my smile my teeth have been ground down to nubs.

The only part of that story that's really true is the end. We really are happier now at our little church that meets in a coffee shop. Oh yeah ... the beginning is too. God did call us out, and maybe if we'd just left that church instead of trying to change it, we wouldn't have gotten so hurt. But the problem was that we believed all of Jesus' teachings about church being a family (or is it Paul's; or maybe a combination). This was the church we had both come to know Jesus in and this pastor had shown us the way. We believed we should stick it out. God had given me a calling to teach adults and now these two things (the church and my calling) were clearly in opposition to one another. The pastor told me that my calling was not from God; the elder in charge of education told me many things that I have chosen to forgive but suffice it to say that they were mean and hurtful and meant to keep me in my place, but not intended for reconciliation in any way. There were meetings and letters. And I've read this too many times on the blogs of others to think that I'm special anymore.

The evangelical/fundamentalist church has had a great time for the past couple of years sitting back sniggering up it's sleeve at the problems that the Catholic Church is having with priests and sexual immorality with altar boys. But I want to ask, is treating your lay leaders and pastors like this any better? I really don't think that the Church can leave piles of human refuse in it's wake and claim that it's doing anything good. Just because this behavior isn't technically illegal doesn't make it morally right.

We were fortunate, LightHusband and I, to have a small group (3 couples) of friends from our church who walked the journey with us. We lost most of our friends from our former church. Friends and family of 14 years. It felt and many times still does feel like a divorce. But in the midst of it all, God was so good and gracious to us and put us in a place where we could heal. Where we wouldn't lose Him. Where we could grow again. In a place where there were streams of living water that we could drink deeply from. A place that we walked into and immediately we were known and accepted for just exactly who we were. Really, our second week, someone who we'd just met that day said, "Where have you been? We've been waiting for you."

In things essential, unity; in doubtful, liberty; in all things, charity.
Imitation of Christ by Thomas aKempis

It seems to me that the "essential" things are Christ's resurrection, His Lordship; the details identified in the Great Creeds (Nicene, and Apostles, etc.) and that all others are "doubtful" and thus we should all grant one another liberty to explore those things. In any case, it would seem to me that being charitable in all things means that there would not be these stories of pain and suffering caused by the church popping up all over. That arguments over who has the "most" authoritative view of Scripture, of God, of whatever, would not be happening. That conferences would be open to all Christian brothers and sisters speaking. But they are not.

I am very tempted to speculate as to the reasons for this. But it would be just that: speculation. And then I would be engaging in the very activities that I am decrying. So I will end with this thought.

In the end, the only thing that will matter is Jesus' judgement of our lives. The only measure we have of that are His words. I believe that His call to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind soul and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself", should occupy much more of our individual and corporate time and attention than it currently does. There is enough "work" to fill a life within that sentence. Additionally, His words regarding judging others, I believe, are critical. He spoke about removing the plank in our own eyes, before being concerned about the mote in our neighbors; about the dangers inherent in judging others because it raises the bar on ourselves. Entwined throughout all of His teachings and the behavior he modelled for us was a consistent ethic, that is that love is not manipulative, it does not strike out, it allows for the free will of the other, and above all it is seasoned with grace, mercy and humility. Woe will be to us if we ever forget that.

06 December 2005


My StaplerFriend has been doing a lot of thinking lately about faith and the spectrum of belief. He has raised some interesting issues about those who believe that they have found the absolute answer to life, the universe and everything (42, if you've read certain books, although it's much more complicated and they have great long credos and articles of faith they'd like you sign up for and you can read one here, seriously) versus those who think that everything that anyone has ever thought has merit of some sort. Thinking of the first sort feels as tho one's feet are bound in concrete, thinking of the second as tho one were standing on jello. Both foundations leave something to be desired.

Of course, reading the posts done by my StaplerFriend caused many conversations between LightHusband and I. And then I got to thinking.

Too many authors and thinkers (beginning with the Enlightenment) present issues in a straight line, with pros on one end and cons on the other. More usually, conservative thinking is presented on the "right" and liberal thinking is presented on the "left." Centrists are, not surprisingly, in the center. So with this dichotomy, authoritarian thinkers are on the right, and mystics are on the left and the further one is in either direction, the further out one might place oneself on the spectrum.

But here's the thing, there's only one "person" who might rightfully be placed at the center of this spectrum; who might be at the perfect middle. That would be Jesus. He embodies the perfect combination of both authoritarian and mystic and every other ism besides. So then the question becomes how to decide for oneself where one stands on the spectrum.

This is where it gets messy. Because I started to think about the whole spectrum idea and decided it's somewhat lacking. The whole straight line idea is sooo ... I don't know ... two dimensional. On some issues, I'm definitely to the left of center; some far left, some just a little, some just to the right and I move as I learn and take in new information. So I thought about concentric circles. Jesus is still at the dead center and people are closer or further away from Him depending on their "orbit." We use this paradigm to loosely describe membership at our church. Some people have a close orbit, others further out. Some come every week, some rarely, some we only see once or twice a year, some we never see and only hear from via e-mail. Some just listen in from the outer edges at the coffee shop we meet in (they think we don't notice them, but we do; we just respect their privacy). But I didn't like this paradigm for belief, because once again it doesn't do an adequate job of describing me on any given day because I move so much on so many different issues.

I thought about a spiral. This is kind of a both/and; it uses the line AND the concentric circle. I think it allows for more movement. But still, really, it's too clean. What it doesn't allow for is any human-ness. It doesn't allow for any mistakes or any grace to work it's way through our lives.

What I think works best is a colander of spaghetti. Unfortunately, I will not be able to sell this to any book publishers because it will not sell well. This does not make for any lovely graphics and neat side bars. But I think it does adequately describe the line our faith/belief takes as it winds around center point of the person of Jesus. Maybe church is a whole colander of people thrown together, with their lives winding around Jesus and each other and sticking together. Maybe the best churches are the ones where the cook rinsed the pasta, so the noodles can easily move. Maybe grace is a really good sauce that permeates each strand.

Maybe I need another cup of coffee this morning.

05 December 2005


I'm perturbed. Downright grumpy. Of course, it may have something to do with the weather. It is foreboding, the sky leaden. We're expecting snow. That is good. The kids are excited and I supposed we'll have a "snow" day. Altho, that's lame ... how can you have a day off for snow when you homeschool? But everyone needs a break for fun. So, if it snows, we'll have a fun breakfast and do something different.

But still ... I'm low. And then this ...

I went to boil my carcass. Well, not my own carcass, but the leftover turkey carcass from the Thanksgiving bird. It was too big for my stockpot. So I got a bigger one. And I do need a bigger stockpot. Here is a minor rant against the evils of modern technology. I hate that when I come home with a new kitchen appliance and I want to use it right away I have to spend a half an hour scrubbing a large wad of gluey goo off it. There's no need for that. Especially with something like a stock pot. You want me to see the label? Um ... the pot has a lid. Put the label INSIDE the pot. No glue. No mess. NOTHING. I'm happy. The manufacturer is happy. Everyone is happy.

Cause right now, I'm not happy.

And I've got wrinkly fingers from trying to get that stupid goo off.
I hate that goo.

02 December 2005

You Better Watch Out ...

01 December 2005

Taking the Mountain ...

... to Mohammed

this is an audio post - click to play


As some of you may remember, LightHusband and I went to Montana last summer. We went for the weekend. You can read about it and see the pictures here. We went because some good friends gave us their free-tickets-to-anywhere-in-the-US and they took care of our children for us.

Well, it's payback time! So now Mr. Friend is working in


for two weeks and Mrs. Friend has gone to join him for the weekend. And LightHusband and I get to have their three lovely daughters for the weekend. They are delightful. We love them.

It makes for a houseful, a tableful and an organized shower schedule!