30 January 2006

January Thaw?

It was warm out today. After the LightChildren finished their school work they went outside and jumped on the trampoline. I love that part of homeschooling.

29 January 2006


So for a multiplicity of reasons I am indulging myself in a day on the sofa watching television. I discovered that BBC-America is running a Python-a-Thon. Eight hours of Monty Python's Flying Circus that began at noon today. While funny, they are even more bizarre than I remember. I can't decide if they were on drugs, or brilliant, or both. In any case, we're all enjoying it.

One thing that has really struck me during this extended bit of television watching is the commercials. I've been noticing how filled with fear they all are. That fear is selling these days. Fear on the internet. Fear about having accidents. Fear about whether or not one has the proper insurance. Fear about one's body. And it made me start to wonder if all the drug companies who sell anti-depressants are somehow in cahoots with the ad agencies. Hmmm??? Well ... that's silly, but fear is definitely for sale on the airwaves and I don't think it's funny at all.

23 January 2006

I'd Rather Not Know ...

So LightBoy took the reins this evening. He cooked dinner for us this evening. We had a lovely gourmet feast. It consisted of frozen chicken breast patties, sugar snap peas and bread. I was refused my request for milk because we were low.

I was called to the set table. Dinner was on my plate. I sat down and gave my wonderful son many compliments on this fine cuisine. As we clasped hands around the table and prepared our hearts to say a blessing for the meal so lovingly prepared, LightBoy said, with a big grin on his face, "You know the two knobby things on the bottom of the toilet seat? If you put a ketchup packet underneath each one and someone sits on the seat, they'll squirt 'em on the back of their legs!!"

I just don't want to know how an almost 9 year old boy comes by this particular piece of information...

Frodo and Samwise

I got back yesterday afternoon from my weekend retreat. I spent it with a bunch of women. First, I have to do something important. I have to say this, out loud, in public: My mother was right. I told my mother last Thursday that I was going on a sewing retreat for the weekend and she said, via e-mail, "I admire you throwing yourself in with a bunch of women for a whole weekend. I couldn't do it. Maybe I couldn't do it with any unknown group. I find myself getting impatient with many people's denseness more and more lately."

I should have listened to my mother. But I don't want to focus on the issues that she was right about. It is sufficient to say that she was right. I did have an enjoyable time and I got a lot of sewing done and made a lot of progress on a couple of quilts that have been burning a hole in my brain.

One of the things I've learned about myself over the years, is that in some settings I'm a multi-tasker. For instance, if you ever come to my house and see me cleaning my kitchen with great vengence, I'm probably angry about something and need to move in order to think and process. So I clean, and think, and talk (perhaps yell ... perhaps). Depending on the issue I may even move on to another room.

Another thing that really facilitates thinking for me is sewing. It frees my mind to have repetitive tasks. Quilting is an art form that involves many repetitive tasks. I was paper piecing yesterday. This is an activity which is particularly repetitive (and I had 50 blocks to make), so my mind wandered quite a bit. I found my mind wandering, as it sometimes does, through the paths and bogs and heaths of Middle Earth. The Lord of the Rings has fascinated me and captured my imagination since I first discovered it as a teenager. I've read it in whole or in part countless times ... and when the movies came out 4 years ago ... well ... I was captivated all over again. For the first time ever before or since, movie makers got a book right. Well almost ... they forgot Tom Bombadil and some other large-ish parts ... but did you see Minas Tirith, Rivendell, the Mines of Moria? Overall (in the movie), Peter Jackson achieved what no one has ever done; taken a complex book and really put it up on the big screen.

In any case, I got to thinking about Frodo and Samwise. Frodo was given an almost unbearable burden. One that took him on a journey fraught with danger. This journey caused him pain and he suffered wounds that would never quite heal. Samwise Gamgee was his faithful friend who stuck by his side at every turn, the friend who had his back, even when Frodo didn't want anyone to have his back. The journey began with just the two of them and they picked up the Fellowship as they travelled for a while. But eventually it became clear that the only course for Frodo would be to travel to Mt. Doom with his painful, heavy burden, alone with only Samwise for company on the slow, tortorous journey. The Fellowship with Gimli's ax, Legolas' bow, and Aragorn's sword was left behind to wonder and wander for a bit. Actually, for the remainder of the story.

I spent a good deal of time thinking about the Fellowship ... Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Meriadoc, Peregrin. Without the Fellowship to distract the Forces of Darkness from Frodo, he would not have been able to complete his task. Even tho, the Fellowship had been broken up and redistributed throughout Middle Earth, everyone had different "jobs" to do. Those were necessary in order for Frodo and Samwise to get to and then up Mt. Doom. I'd always grieved the break-up of the Fellowship, but now I saw it was a necessary evil.

So as my hands did their work; the stitching and cutting and pressing, I realized that there are some journeys on which we must travel somewhat alone. I've been on one or two; as have we all. And somewhat painfully, I'm standing watch while other friends travel a similar journey now. But when we receive an all but unbearable burden and find that our journey's path takes us up the steeps of an all but impassable mountain, it's good to know that we have a fellowship with their metaphorical axes, and bows and swords, fighting to keep the forces of darkness distracted long enough so that our wounds, while painful, won't cut quite as deeply. To know that we have friends who are searching the horizon for signs of our presence, who will light the watch fires when a battle must be fought, who will send in the eagles to pick us up when we can go no further. I realized that if it weren't for these small "f" fellowships, many journeys would end in disaster. That we manage our journeys up and down our large and small mounts of doom, precisely because of these small "f" fellowships of which we are all part. We who are in the fellowships must do our parts, not really knowing what those roles are or why, or how our role will effect the outcome. And of course, the truly nice thing about all of this metaphor is that we do not have to pass out of direct contact as Frodo and Samwise did when they were engulfed in their struggle to achieve the summit of Mt. Doom.

20 January 2006

The Problem with Pain ...

... is that it cannot be actually shared or taken on by others for even one moment. That is perhaps the most agonizing part for friends and relatives. They must stand at a slight distance, knowing the agony,but only in part, weeping. Cycling through the hours of wishing they could take the pain on themselves, make things better, and the bitterest pill of all is that there is nothing to be done, except stand against the darkness ... pray our friends into the light ... and extend hope.


Here are some things I love about blogging. I get to think. I'm a lot like my dad. I like to think and I love to write. I don't know if he likes to write. But I do. So I get to write and I know that people will read it. Sometimes they even like what I write. Or they challenge me and get me to think more clearly or fine tune my thinking. These are good things.

Here is the one thing I hate. Once I push the "Publish" button I feel like I'm back in college in a class (as a student). I just stood up to give an oral presentation and discovered I'm not wearing any pants. Now, please, my readers, do not go too far with that mental image. But I'm trying to deal with that tension.

I think this is what it stems from. Many of you know LightBoy. You may have noticed that he has a certain tendency to let whatever thoughts that are in his head come out of his mouth with great enthusiasm. Yes ... well ... never let it be said that apples fall far from trees. And when I was a child those traits were much less tolerable than they are today, especially in little girls. My grandfather was fond of fixing me with his steely blue eyes, and very sternly saying, "Children should be seen and not heard." repeatedly.

So it comes as a great surprise to me that the words I write are not constantly offensive to almost everyone. Except LightHusband; he is biased and I pay him off. But ... still ... everytime I push the "Publish Post" button, I feel as tho I'm out waving in the wind, waiting for someone to take shots at me. But I love to write ... But I hate to publish. Love ... Hate. Unbearable tension.

So you may have noticed that I created a psuedonym for myself. I may change it. Right now it's Celtic and means The Lady of Light. That seemed sort of fitting. I'll see how it feels for a few days. I may change it to something else, or decide that I'm just being terribly silly afterall.

That's It!

"... the inability to foresee potential negative outcomes ..."

I read that phrase somewhere yesterday. I don't remember where, so I can't properly quote it to you. But it stuck with me.

"The inability to foresee potential negative outcomes."

We had quite a conversation over at my BrickFriend's establishment earlier this week about the evils of the marketing machine in this country taking advantage of the poor and disadvantaged causing them to want things they cannot afford. In the case of the African-American underclass, it's "bling." He wrote quite a piece and then the comments are all quite good. But (as my dad was fond of saying at dinner) "something" was missing.

That was it. The poor and disadvantaged in our country and particularly the poor, disadvantaged, from the inner-city do not have the ability (or are not taught, given ... whatever) to foresee potential negative outcomes. So they remain easy prey for shysters and their own proclivities for "bling" or simple human laziness. They cannot foresee the potential negative outcomes in "easy" credit, and 7 year payment plans for crappy cars (even if it is a knockoff SUV), or that $600 a year is far too much for a $10K life insurance policy. They cannot foresee that those terms are a form of imprisonment. The elderly usually cannot either.

We wonder why there needs to be more enforcement of the laws, or more laws.
I think maybe we just need to take care of (mentor) our neighbors. Now I just need to find them ....

19 January 2006

Church Model

You scored as Servant Model. Your model of the church is Servant. The mission of the church is to serve others, to challenge unjust structures, and to live the preferential option for the poor. This model could be complemented by other models that focus more on the unique person of Jesus Christ.

Servant Model


Mystical Communion Model


Sacrament model


Herald Model


Institutional Model


What is your model of the church? [Dulles]
created with QuizFarm.com

Cats vs. Dogs

The results of a discussion over lunch about the relative values of cats versus dogs as household pets:

Dogs reflect humans back to themselves as they wish to be.

Cats reflect humans back to themselves as they really are.

18 January 2006

Unintended Consequences

I belong to the "team" or group that puts together the service each week at my church. This team is known at our church as the Design Team. When I drive home from these meetings I always phone LightHusband to tell him I'm on my way. Then he knows not to worry about the lateness or anything. For a long time we met on Tuesday evenings. That's a really good night to meet. There are conflicts on Monday nights and Wednesday nights and if we wait til Thursday there's just not enough time left in the week to get everything together. But then one of our members ran into a serious conflict on Tuesday evenings. It's just a temporary conflict and so we are dealing with it. But here's some weird fallout. It just so happens that trash pick up at our house is Wednesday mornings. LightHusband had fallen into the habit of using my late Tuesday evening phone call as his cue to take the trash out to the curb. Well ... we're not meeting on Tuesdays and the trash is piling up!! He needs a new cue.

What Didn't Happen On Sunday ...

So ... here's the thing. The post below (What Happened On Sunday) describes our church service this past Sunday. But what happened on Sunday was only about a third of what I planned. Now I've been known to bite off more than I can chew before, but I usually don't overdo it by that much. However ... when the Spirit moves, you need to get out of the way.

Here's a little of what we didn't do. We did talk about what Amos would have had to say to our nation (from a racial perspective). I admit there are many perspectives I could have chosen and I chose race because of the date. We didn't talk about what Amos would have had to say to the body of Christ in North America. That's the second third of what I wanted to do. The third third was meant for our church body alone and hopefully one day we'll get to it.

Below are some of my notes about the charges that God levelled against Israel (through Amos). He was concerned about their lack of charity, justice and mercy. He was particularly upset because they were uncaring about the poor, the widows and the orphans and in that had broken their covenant with Him, yet they were carrying on in their sacrifices and worship as if nothing had happened. As if all were well. Now, I see that this is a problem with the body of Christ in North America. But I am usually too quick to point a finger and I remember the adage that when you point a finger there are three pointing back at you. So read my notes. Read Amos ... and then ... let's talk in the comments about what Amos might say to the body of Christ today in North America.

1. Luxury - means to use what we have only for our own enjoyment and to ignore the needs of others ... being irresponsible in the way we use our wealth, wasting it on futile pleasures instead of using it for the good of others and glory of God ... I wonder where hoarding it falls into this picture?

Amos gave this message to “cows of Bashan” wives and children of wealthy leaders ... cows being fattened for slaughter ....lead away to the butcher

2. Hypocrisy - if the heart isn’t right, the sacrifice means nothing (see Cain) Amos used “holy irony” ... go ahead attend church, but with that attitude (your heart isn’t serious about knowing God or doing His will ... it’s just playacting and you’re only doing it to be popular) you’re only sinning more .... on the surface things looked good ... people flocked to altar at Bethel, but sacrifices were unclean, hearts were disobedient, worshipping idols, etc. bragged about freewill offerings, boasted about sacrifices ....

Questions .... where is prayer? who gets the glory? does the fruit remain or is it gone with the meeting is over and the enthusiasm dies down? Are we overwhelmed by the holiness and the glory of God, or are we just applauding religious celebrities?

3. Obstinacy - God set before Israelites life and death ... they chose death (to worship idols) ... spurned his love.

Can you have religion without righteousness and justice? Or is it just hypocrisy? What is justice? What is righteousness? What is hypocrisy in worship and why is it wrong?

Now how does the Body of Christ in North America look? What do the rest of you see?


What Happened Sunday ...

So ... last Sunday (Jan. 8) we began a series on the minor prophets at my church. They are called minor only because they wrote short books. We began our series with a bang of a service where there were 12 prophet stations (with a nod to Grace for the idea) where we all got a taste of each prophet and his message brought to us by a different member of our church.

This immediately past Sunday it was my turn to give the message or "content" (or "non-sermonic exploration" as we irreverently call it). I say "turn," but I asked for this Sunday, because it was Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday and I loved that man and I wanted the chance to give a message on his birthday. I didn't care what prophet got put on that Sunday. The Design Team (this is the team that I'm a part of that puts together the service each week) gave me ... or maybe God gave me ... the book of Amos. So I read Amos. And I read Amos again and I loved Amos. Then I read MLK's speeches again and my universe shifted. Suddenly I knew where his vision of justice came from!! It wasn't all from Jesus (although certainly he started there). It wasn't all from Gandhi (although that's where he got some of his non-violence from). But Martin Luther King, Jr's vision of justice and mercy and racial harmony came out of the Old Testament and it came from the prophets!! And suddenly I realized that Jesus had been preaching a very old message all along. It was nowhere near as revolutionary as I'd always thought it was. What I mean is that I knew it wasn't that revolutionary, but now I **knew** it!! Does that make any sense??

Dang! I love it when God grabs your shoulders like that, shakes you up and makes you see things fresh again. So I wanted my peeps to hear it that way too. So I tried to "channel" Amos to grab their attention and get them to hear what God might be crying out about in the world today. So what follows is the "rant" I opened up with to give my church the experience of having a prophet in their midst. If you should stumble through here and don't know me, please try to understand the context of what you are about to read. Please make sure you've read the Book of Amos before you comment here. I am not necessarily advocating all of this.


God roars out of Israel
He shouts from the rooftops of Jersusalem
Fields dry up and mountains crumble when the voice of the Lord roars past ...

Hear the voice of the Lord in the Lion’s roar!

1. I’ve told Wal-Mart 3 times and NOW they are on my last nerve! I am just DONE with them - for oppressing the poor, creating shoddy products that are costly and keep the poor under their thumb and forcing people to work on the Sabbath, I will take their owners and lead them away in chains f

2. I’ve told Exxon 3 times and NOW they are on my last nerve! I am just DONE with them - for taking advantage of misery and death to earn more money more money more money; they will die poor and on the streets

3. I’ve told China 3 times and NOW they are on my last nerve! I am just DONE with them - for enslaving her people, abusing them in factories not fit for dogs, for treating them like grain in a threshing machine; I will march her kings to Taiwan and South Korea to live out their days in imprisoned there abused in their minds as they have abused others.

4. I’ve told Sudan 3 times and NOW they are on my last nerve! I am just DONE with them - she deports whole towns; her leaders are greedy for land; they enslave and rape women and children; for this she will burn and see my justice complete.

5. I’ve told Saddleback Church 3 times and NOW they are on my last nerve! I am just DONE with them - spreads apostasy in that abomination of 40 Days of Purpose. So many unwittingly choose death through that, and they gather wealth into their coffers building large fancy temples while the poor starve under their fat noses. I will strike those buildings down unto the foundations.

6. I’ve told Willowcreek Church 3 times and NOW they are on my last nerve! I am just DONE with them - they water down My message and because they try to be all things to all people they have become nothing to everyone. They are an empty shell full to overflowing of dead people who think they are alive. I will scatter them to the four winds in the hope that they may find Me and then find life.

WHY DO YOU LOOK SO SMUG? Do you think you’re any better than these?

I’ve told you three times and now you’re on my last nerve too. I’m done with you. What makes you think that working at a homeless ministry one day a month absolves you of your sin?

How many homeless do you walk by on your way to work? Do you know their faces? their names? Do you look the other way?

I said to you, sell everything to follow me ... have you done that yet?

What do you do with your time? When do you feed the poor among you? Or do you just sit and bemoan it to each other while feeding your well-fed faces and children? You have time to exercise, but not to clothe those without jackets in winter. You have time to play games, but you don’t have time to work a soup kitchen? Hah! I have time for you now and you will spend time in eternity wishing you had spent your time on the things that are important to Me.

You cows of Fairfax who think you can come here each week to prove your goodness to each other and the world are merely showing me the blackness in your hearts. You do not change ... you keep doing the same things and they are NOT the things of My Way. You cannot follow me if you will not pick up your feet and walk.

Yet you run to follow these fancy musicians and slick talkers ...their music is filthy trash in my ears.

You just don’t get it, do you? If you cannot have the same priorities in life that I have then you are not about what I’m about and I will not know you ... I will not call you by name ... I will turn my face from you and condemn you to the everlasting pit.

I’m talking to you ... You’d better hear me now!

LightHusband told me to work myself up into a real lather and get angry. But when push came to shove ... I couldn't do it. I'm a failure as a prophet. A real prophet-weenie. Or prophet-mallow. I looked out at the people (my peeps) and as I railed, they curled up. I got three sentences into the part about them (Israel in the real Amos) and I could go no further. My heart is too soft for the prophet business. So I cut it short, left off a big chunk and finished early, mostly to make my stomach stop hurting. Because I'm a chicken. LightHusband was disappointed. He still is. He'll have to live with it.

Then we talked all together about Amos and his picture of justice and most importantly what does racial justice look like. We began by looking at the Remember Segregation website. No, we began by listening to a portion of "I Have A Dream." and then looking at the website. The website is a shocking reminder of how blatant segregation was. A lot of ideas were thrown around. I liked this one ... racial justice will include giving hope to each generation that they will grow up and be able to have opportunity. I've been thinking about that a lot since Sunday and how we've done away with the blatant signs of segregation, but we still withheld hope from so many children and parents. We're not so much closer to that dream of measuring people by the content of their character.

The beauty was that in our lily-white church this one particular Sunday, a man with very dark skin came to partake in the worship of God with us. I gave him the last word in the discussion for no particular reason other than that he raised his hand and we were over time and it seemed like the right thing to do. He reminded us that in the church we are neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus called to bring His Kingdom here on earth. It was lovely.

17 January 2006

What She Said ..

Another fine post, not just about women, but more general commentary about the emerging church from the Urban Abbess.

16 January 2006

What About Women?

Some of you have been wondering where I've been, what I've been up to, why the long silence? Well ... I was getting ready for church yesterday. I did a lot of prep for that talk yesterday. I hardly used any of it. It's alright, I'm going to blog it later!

In the meantime, I owe some of you book titles and books about women in ministry after reading the Grassy Guy's post and comments. Sorry, I should have gone back to that sooner. I feel pretty strongly about women in ministry (obviously). As in ... women should be in ministry doing whatever God calls them to do. God called me to teaching. At our former church I went to the elder in charge of Christian Education and told him I had some ideas for Adult Sunday School classes (in response to his pleas for teachers). He told me that there wasn't any room for a women's only class. I told him I didn't think these classes were necessarily designed for women only. Then it all broke loose. He became really angry with me when I told him he didn't know what it was like at the back of the bus.

Here's the problem, I was arguing with him with one hand tied behind my back. Oh, how I wish I'd read the prophets. Or at least Amos. I wish I'd known then what I know now about God's vision of justice and how our vision of justice is so small and half-hearted. I doubt it would have changed anything, but I would have had all three legs on the stool of my argument. His mind was made up and unchangeable and there was nothing for me to say. But I wouldn't have sounded so petulant and small; my argument would have carried more weight. Not for me, necessarily, but for someone else in the future. Who knows?

That's the Evangelical/Fundamentalist Church for you. Supposedly the Emerging Church is going to make that all better. I have my serious doubts about that. So far the men are all talk and little action on that front. On my good days I believe that it is innocent, that they just don't get it. They don't understand, and can't, what it's going to take to allow women into the circle. Most of them are 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation Christians whos' families openly resisted the feminist conciousness-raising during the 60's and 70's. They come out of the Christian ghetto where it is openly believed that men and women cannot be friends without falling into bed and sin together somewhere along the line. Their circles simply do not include women and never have. Their blogs have a paucity of women. Some have one or two that they have picked to show that, "Look, see. I've got some friends who are women!" Then they've got a long list of men (some of whom they do not even know!) on their blogroll. But they won't put women they don't know on the blogroll. Men make the cut by having good content. Women make the cut if they are known; a far higher and more difficult standard. On my bad days, well, I'm slightly paranoid, so I should probably keep those thoughts inside my head. But to end, here are a couple of good posts on different blogs speaking to this topic. I guess it's appropriate that they came out near the day that we've set aside to remember Martin Luther King, Jr. who started us on our quest for social justice. So go read them, one by the Abbess of Monkfish Abbey and the other by my Quaker Friend.

UPDATE: So, the LightHusband read the above and asked me a couple of pointed questions (darn him) like, what about your AwakeFriend? And, well, that's the problem with early morning writing and age. One gets confused sometimes. In my head I'd lumped together some comments I'd made on the posts I've linked to above and this post. In one of those comments, I mentioned some "notable exceptions." And, of course, our AwakeFriend is a "notable exception." And not just because he's our friend. Or maybe he is our friend (in part) because he's a notable exception. But because he has done a lot of thinking (I think) about this or maybe he's just thought about how he is going to treat people in general and does not treat women any differently. So for that I applaud him. And thank him for the support he so generously bestows on all of us (regardless of gender) in his sphere of influence. There are others out there too who are trying to break down this wall. I wanted to be sure I said that and didn't make it sound all bad!

I think the hardest part to overcome is the segregation between praxis and home life. Men have traditionally segregated their lives into many compartments and the compartments stay separate. Women's lives are much more integrated. You can see see this very clearly in their blogs (for the most part). Many men's blogs are about one topic (for the emerging church the topic is theology or church or something similar) and that's what they write about. If they get an overwhelming urge to write about other things too often, they start another blog. Women's blogs are about everything all mixed in together. Men (generally speaking) find this frustrating. Men will also find that last idea frustrating. Generally. So they don't frequent women's blogs because they can't be sure what they'll find there. For me, my theology IS wrapped up in what I do all day and that might be teaching my children, making a quilt, helping a neighbor, running errands, being nice to a clerk, any number of weird quirky things. There's metaphor there, but you might have to dig for it.

I'm sure I'll come back to this subject again someday. Maybe later on today if LightHusband keeps asking me more hard questions. Why can't he just ask softball questions anyway?

UPDATE 2: Here's a thought that I had while making congo squares to take to my quilt guild meeting: I also want to point out that I'm talking in this post about the Emerging Church/Conversation in general. So, don't any one of you who reads this think that I'm pointing at you saying, "Hey, Mr. Man, you don't take me seriously." Especially if you're one of the men who go to my church ... this is not about you.

11 January 2006


They say that definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different outcome. So it stands to reason that the reason I've been feeling so insane lately is that we've been continuing in our same patterns in the LightHouse, but nothing has changed. It's a mess!! In fact, it's gotten beyond mess to I cannot stand it any longer. My new theme song has become "The Lady With the Spinning Head," by U2 and while I know that Bono was singing about gambling, it's my theme song because in my mind I just see me with my head spinning around and around and around wondering which pile to pick up next. Being creative and smart and slightly ADD ain't no fun when you live in a mess and no one sees it but you.

So as they also say, if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. So I finally broke down and did it.

I joined FlyLady.

We've just got to get some routines around here.

But I refuse to wear purple leotards when I clean ... that is just too scary for words. For right now I'm just getting laundry done.

And, yes, I am keeping my sink shiny. Got a problem with that?

03 January 2006


So, have you ever been talking away to someone about a subject and suddenly discovered that while you thought you were both talking about the same thing, in reality you were both talking about something completely different? Usually you come to this realization as the result of an embarassing faux pas on the part of one or the other of you. Depending on the relative importance of the subject matter, you might laugh. Hilariously, if you've really made some big mistakes.

On the other hand, I was thinking the other day about how this can really impact our communication. I've come into a lot of contact lately with people from other countries; not just other countries, but markedly different cultures. And I began to think about how we use words to describe concepts that do not necessarily have direct one to one translations. This leads to conversations where the conversants are both think they are talking about the same thing, but they are talking about very different things.

Let's take the idea or concept of marriage. To those who come out of western European culture, the word "marriage" conjures up a fairly specific paradigm which involves a man and a woman meeting, courting, having a period of engagement and then going through a ritual which sometimes involves a Christian church or sometimes just a ritual with a clerk of the state. In any case, when speaking with people of recent western European decent you may be relatively certain that you are both on the "same page," so to speak.

There are cultures in the world, however, where marriage is viewed somewhat differently. Where the rituals that surround it are different. In some cultures the decisions are made entirely by the parents of the so-called "bride" and "groom." They are then brought together for the first time (sometimes) on the wedding day. The rituals have nothing to do with a Judeo-Christian-Muslim ethic. The rituals are much more (what we would consider) tribal or primitive (which sounds pejorative, but I have no other words to use) in nature. Once those rituals are completed, the couple is then married.

Now, let us consider what might happen if someone from this culture were to find themselves suddenly in our culture, without any of their family here. They meet another person of the opposite gender also from their culture and they complete (as best they are able) the rituals of "marriage." Certainly we all would agree that in the eyes of the state they are not married because that requires a marriage certificate and we understand that. But that is not what I'm talking about here. When these people refer to themselves as being "married," are they? In their understanding, they are, in fact, married. They have completed the rituals just as surely as LightHusband and I did when we got married 17 years ago in the Old West Church. The only missing ingredient is the stamp of permission from the state, I'm talking about the idea or concept here. So (minus the state issue), are they married? Or not? What is it in fact that makes this couple "married?" Do we look at them and see a married couple or two people just shacking up?

I'm asking that question for an important reason. Because as you can see, ideas about marriage don't always translate one for one across cultural boundaries. We think they do, but they really don't. Neither do ideas about sexual mores within and without marriage; even among Christians from different cultures and different times. And these ideas have changed dramatically throughout history, even during the years when the texts of the Bible were being written. So my point is this, if we can get this confused about just one simple idea like marriage, it's just possible that we've gotten a lot of other ideas from the Bible muddled up as well. I'm not saying that it's all nonsense, but I am saying that when we hear someone spouting "absolute Truth," we need to start asking ourselves a lot of questions about what they are saying.

Unholy Trinity of Pajama Horror

You know you've hit on a bad combination when your otherwise oblivious husband responds to your loungewear combination with shock and awe. I'm particularly proud of this one!!

01 January 2006

Happy Birthday


On this day, twelve years ago, you made your entrance into this world. You joined us a few weeks earlier than we anticipated you would. And you've been ahead of your game ever since.

I stood in awe yesterday and watched you skate around with your friends. Seemingly, it was just a few short years ago that you could do nothing, not even hold your head up. Now you have the stature and strength of a woman. It struck me yet again how the process of parenting is a process of giving away. Of giving myself away and of giving you away a little at a time until you are ready to be all your own. That you began life completely dependent upon me and little by little, but with ever larger steps you are gaining independence. What is interesting to me is that I need to learn how to let go slowly ... that is the job of parenting, it is actually letting go.

I've spent your first twelve years teaching you many concrete things. How to walk, how to talk, how to be polite, how to eat, how to tie your shoes, how to sew, how to clean, how to read, how to write, how to garden, how to cook, and many other things as well. Now I have six years left to make sure you know and use the ephemeral things. And there's only one really important thing that I have to pass on to you, my lovely daughter. It is the dearest prayer of my heart that you catch it one day. That when you grow up, you will follow after Jesus and love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

Happy Birthday, my favorite daughter!