Friday, January 29, 2010

A Weather Surprise, sort of

We do not get much snow here. We should get more than we do, but the mountains tend to shield us from the snow from the northwest (Nashville gets it) and Southwest (skirts by to our south.) But today, the reports came true, and we got alternatively beautiful fat snowflakes, pelting pellets of ice, and freezing rain. It started before lunch and is still going on.

I was at work and the snow rescued me from a training meeting. It took me oer an hour to get home, and on top of that I had to stop at the grocery store--not bright, but I got out with the bags I needed and inched my way home. One side of the interstate (I went over it, not on it) was a parking lot.

Once I got home, I couldn't resist it. I got out our never-used sled and acted like a big dumb overgrown kid sliding down the street and then the yard. In between I went for a good long walk around the subdivision and observed the snowmen-makers and children enjoying their first snow playable snow in several years. It was cold and I got wet but it didn't bother me at all, which is odd because I don't do wet cold well.

Of course, there has been an epidemic of car accidents (do people not slow down?) and everything is locked down. It's 30 degrees outside and we've had three inches--I know, I know, laughable if one has lived north of here, but I'll take what I can get. I am going to sip hot tea and enjoy a good book.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pirate Church

If someone said, "we do not want black people at our church," they would, rightly so, be judged as racist, unChristian, unbiblical, ungodly, and uninterested in true evangelism. Then why has it become common for churches to segregate by age, that is, to be designed only for teens and twenty-somethings? Or only for a certain niche? Here in North Georgia we have cowboy churches. I know some people who attend them. From what I understand there are also biker churches in some parts of the country.

Christianity Today has a good article on age segregation at its website http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/january/27.62.html Whose idea was it not to have a cross-generation body of Christ? I guess the same people who thought only cowboys can worship with other cowboys.

I can't help thinking about a former boss of my son's take on this subject. My son did an internship with a local newspaper, and the editor was sort of Ringgold's answer to Dave Barry, the humor columnist. Quite a funny and insightful writer, when this young man found out about cowboy churches in our area, he proposed the idea of a pirate church. Everyone would have to say ARRRRGHHHHH and wear an eye patch, but only the pastor would get to wear a pirate on his shoulder.

The body of Christ--locally and globally--should look like heaven as portrayed in Revelation 4, which is my favorite vision of heaven.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

News Flashes

There was an article on Fox News this morning about how humans might eventually be able to run 40 miles an hour (and that the fastest human now runs 28 miles per hour). That falls into the category of "and what good would that be?"

We live in a society of great obesity because people aren't exercising period, so reaching the limits of human endurance seems kind of silly when most people won't get off the couch and go for a walk (this is one area where I can be self-righteous, as I walk 2-3 miles a day; that's really not enough but it's something). Until we can get people to live healthy lifestyles, health care reform is missing the point.

The Republicans might be overreaching about the Scott Brown victory. They can't bank on a sweep in November. By them the mood might be calmed down, especially if health care reform goes in a different direction and the job market improves. I want to feel sorry for President Obama but have to remember he himself wildly overreached in wanting to "fundamentally transform America." I figured out why his speaking since the inauguration has been so lackluster. As president, one has to talk about something other than oneself. He does great when he talks about himself, his vision, his dreams; he is less inspiring (to say the least) when it's not about him. Ironically he said in a speech yesterday "This is not about me." HA! He's just now figuring that out, I guess. Can we say "buyer's remorse"?

The last two times we got take-out at our favorite restaurants, we got sick. I guess we won't be going there again. I can't handle that kind of pain!

I am reading Mark Noll's 1990 book, Religion and American Politics. Fascinating stuff. I am going to start studying identity theory as well.

I have been contemplating going on a mission trip with my church. Now this is a hard decision. First, the money: would it be better spent in another way? Second, my motivation; I can't get my head around why I really want to do this. Third, timing; it may work out quite well, actually. Fourth, money again; my son just told me his college tuition was going up quite a bit next year, and my pay is not. Fifth, health. Yeah, I'm okay there. I can handle a trip like that. Sixth, my husband. I just don't know if I should be so worried about going off all over the world just to make myself feel connected to my church. I would really prefer to visit friends on the mission field.

A friend who sends me email things sent me one about Idiot Sightings; one of them had to do with cashiers who can't make change. This skill is not taught to young people any more, so they can't do the simple math involved (it's just adding). I feel the same way about gps systems. Young people won't be able to read a simple map. Plus, who wants a car talking to them?

I am on a committee to hire three new English teachers. We received resumes from some very accomplished people. However, I have to wonder about the research going on in higher education. One candidate's dissertation is about mast--- in some literary period. Oh, my. I can't even talk about it in polite conversation. Unbelievable. Obviously, we chose not to interview that person. However, some of the letters we received showed that academics don't know how to write business letters (a cover letter should not be three or four pages long).

Do they just show old Westerns on AMC on Saturdays?

I received a phone call this morning from a group wanting me to give money to Haiti relief. I sent money the first day, so I would like to be left alone. Money is not the problem down there. Lack of American generosity is not the problem down there. Haiti's culture and lack of infrastructure is (are) the problem. Not being able to get the massive supplies to the people is the problem. No viable government in Haiti is the problem. Their history of political corruption is the problem. I stand by what I said earlier--raze Port-au-Prince and start over, and get the orphans out of there. Too many Americans want them.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Update

Well, my post of two days ago is now history. Someone on facebook referred to the ignert b--- in Massachusetts that ruined health care reform for the rest of the states. Ha! Based on the polls, they saved us from health care reform. Ah, we'll never know, I suppose. But it's an interesting development.

I just finished judging a speech contest at my son's old high school. It is remodeled and I wouldn't have recognized it.

I start taking cholesterol medicine tonight, along with lots of omega-3-type pills, garlic, diet, and exercise. Now I'm old.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Massachusetts

I have to shake my head in wonder that a Republican may very well win Teddy Kennedy's seat. I also have to wonder if this is an unexpected answer to the prayers of all of us who were appalled by the debacle of health care reform and cap and trade. That is self-righteous, though.

The Democrats in Washington are experiencing the consequences of political hubris. They thought they could slam through too much, too fast, and the American people just said no, we're not ready to change that quickly, we don't want the government to have that much control over our lives (as if it didn't already).

As I've written before, if we do not take advantage of our liberty to live responsible, frugal, proactively healthy lives, we will live under tyranny.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pro-life

I teach a small Bible study class and, in order to have a plan, I use the Lifeway material. I study it but then go off in the direction that the text is sending me. This week the lesson (as always on the third Sunday of January) was about being "pro-life."

My thesis to the class was that to be pro-life is to be pro-people; that you really aren't pro-life if you aren't pro-people, as the book of Mark shows Christ to be. It is easy to say, "I'm against abortion," or "I'm against Roe v. Wade" and to vote that way and talk against more liberal/progressive/secularist politicians who support abortion on demand. It is something else to be totally and truly pro-life.

Translating faith into real, wise, effective, loving action is the great challenge for the Christian today, at least for those with a good theological background. (of course, the majority of professing Christians have minimal Biblical knowledge, nonexistent theological knowledge, and negative numbers level when it comes to knowledge of their faith traditions.) It is easy to hide, to recuse ourselves from action. Action does not have to be revolutionary, showy, large; it needs to be intentional, visible, committed, consistent, followed-through-on, and done for its own sake, not for our self-aggrandizement.

I am reading Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain. He is/was a phenomenal writer, moving, and makes me see prayer in a different light, although what he writes often gets under my skin. His choice to go into a contemplative life is perhaps good for the literary world, but that avenue really makes little sense to a dyed-in-the-wool Protestant like me. (Neither does his choice to be in a monastery where silence is the goal, and yet he writes so much--what's the difference?). It is easy for me to criticize that he was hiding from serving the real world in a monastery, but I have to remind myself that we hide from serving the real world, just in noisier ways (as in behind Facebook, blogs, TV, and movies).

Merton is encouraging me to simplify, simplify, simplify. That is part of being pro-people and pro-life as well. So instead of reading five books at a time, I'm going to read one book at a time. I was doing five at a time because it seemed more intellectual to say you are reading five books at a time (people-pleasing pretentiosity) and that you can feed your ADHD-ness that way.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Excellent Literary Analysis of "The Shack"

I have written about The Shack elsewhere on this blog. http://partsofspeaking.blogspot.com/2009/07/shack-revisited.html

Here is a far better critique from Books and Culture.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2010/janfeb/iamnotwhoyouthinkiam.html

Friday, January 15, 2010

I wish

Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson would keep their mouths shut for just one day. The earthquake in Haiti is no time to make political points, for heaven's sake. They do not speak for me.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Romance

When I teach Humanities I look forward to getting to the Romantic period. Now here’s a period you can sink your teeth into. You can name its characteristics and point them out easily in the art and definitely the literature. I always use Wordsworth’s poem “The World is Too Much with us” to start it off.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; (1)
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, (2)
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus (3) rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton (4) blow his wreathed horn.

I will not bore one with my lecture, but the characteristics of Romanticism include emphasis on emotion, primitive people, the unconscious, devil and demons, and exotic middle eastern lands and a turning away from or rejection of industrialism, rationalism, and classicism. Artists were now using art as a way to protest as well as express, and artists were considered a better class of people. Above all, Romanticism changed the Western view of nature.

Although we live in modernity, I think we live in the shadows of Romanticism. I blame Romanticism for a lot, although we can attribute some good to it. It did lead to better treatment of children, in a way. Our music (rock, blues, jazz) is more romantic than classical. The Green Revolution is Romantic. Our liberal view of the government as nanny state is Romantic. The more I look around, the more I see the Romantics are too much with us.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti

I hope everyone who reads this goes to the Red Cross, World Vision, or Salvation Army site and gives some money to help Haiti. I sit in my comfortable, warm bedroom clicking away on a computer and watching bad television while millions are wandering in the chaos on that poor, benighted island. I hope you will give of your/our abundance.

I can't help saying that it is hard/imossible to understand why God allows that pain and deprivation. Even if good eventually comes out of it, a better life in Haiti, it is cold comfort to the people there now. I sometimes think it would be best to just move everybody out of there and start from scratch.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Here We Go Again

One of the reports on Sarah Palin is that she said something like her being nominated to VP position was "It is God's plan." I'm not getting that exactly right, but that's the gist. Of course, the news media would act like, "what a ridiculous thing for her to say." I beg to differ.

If she had lived 200 years ago, of course, it would not have been seen as an odd statement. It is simply a statement of her faith that God controls her life, not that she is more special than everyone else. The media doesn't understand that when a Christian talks about herself being in God's plan, the statement is about God's sovereignty and plans for everybody, not about her. It's the same thing when a Christian says she hears God's voice; it's not because God is talking to her, but because God is speaking to everybody but most aren't listening.

But of course secularists think we are all nuts and psychotic to think this way and worse to say it, especially in non-religious situations.

On the other hand (and there usually is one), I do find it offputting when people do that!

Am I the Only One?

I am reading a book with vignettes about Christian martyrs throughout history. The ones from recent history have something in common: Islam is the culprit. While there are some instances right now where repressive, Marxist, or Hindu-inspired governments are behind the persecution, for the most part it is done by Muslims--either governments or individuals.

It seems to me that the western, and some of the nonwestern world, is in a codependent relationship with Islam. We are like a wife of an alcoholic--excusing, enabling, and allowing the behavior of the drinker even while he makes our own situation miserable. Why do we have to be treated like criminals just to fly on a plane? Because of Islamic terrorists. Why are anti-blasphemy laws being passed in Europe? Because of Islamic terrorists. Why is the press afraid to treat Islam the same way it belittles Christianity? Because of Islamic terrorists. Why is religion presented by the clueless news media as a corrupting and violent influence, when there are no reports of radical Methodists or Presbyterians? Because of Islamic terrorists. It's even as silly as the fact the ridiculous movie, 2012, shows the destruction of famous sites but no Muslim ones. Why? Because we can't risk offending the Islamic terrorists.

As is often said, All Muslims are not terrorists, but almost all terrorists are Muslims." If the plane had blown up on December 25, the end result politically and practically would have been no different (thankfully, those people are safe; how must it feel to know that you've been saved from that fate!) except that President Obama will feel less effect.

I have Muslim students and have respect for them. Their families have often come from other countries at great sacrifice and have worked hard to establish themselves here. Muslims are like the rest of us in this country, wanting the best for family, wanting to contribute, build businesses, and often serving in the military. So this is not about them, but about how we have caved into an insane minority. I don't think I'm the only one feeling this way.

I also don't think I'm the only one who is flabbergasted by the cluelessness, or the cynicism, of the media, and this includes everyone except real newspapers. The big stories yesterday:
1. Mark McGwire and steroids
2. Simon Cowell going off American Idol
3. Sarah Palin going onto Fox
4. The balloon boy's dad going to jail
5. The nonsense about Jay Leno and Conan the Barbarian, oops, O'Brien (what kind of a name is Conan, anyway?)
ad nauseum. What do any of these have to do with my life? your life? None whatsoever. What important news got passed over to present these? Does the news media present these (which I would argue shouldn't even be presented, really, except on the back back page) because:
a. they think we are too stupid to care about or understand anything else?
b. they think those really are the most important stories (possible)
c. those stories serve to advertise their own programs.
d. they don't want us to know the truth about the "leaders" they want to support.

I visited with a dear friend last week who is a missionary in a small South American country. She educated her children on the field and had two babies there. She amazes me. I can imagine her perplexity if she reads a paper or watches the news here, when she comes home every four years. Or she probably has figured out by now that the media is hopeless; I'm wondering when I will?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Feeding the Five and Four Thousands

There are three narrative accounts that appear in all four gospels: John the Baptist, the feeding of the five thousand, and the passion and resurrection. Passion Week usually, and rightly so, gets the most attention of these three, but the other two probably don’t get enough. Of all the characters in the Bible, we probably have the most trouble figuring out John the Baptist, and of all the miracles in the New Testament, we probably overlook or underrate the feeding of the five thousand the most. Yet even in Mark, the narrative arc that concerns it goes on for more than three chapters, 6-8.

You can’t read the account in Mark, Matthew, or Luke without making reference to John 6, because it is there that Jesus expounds on the feeding. We also see that the miracle is central to Jesus’ Jewishness (the connection to Messiah), to spiritual understanding, to Psalm 23 and to David and to himself as shepherd-king, to evangelism beyond Judaism into the Gentile community, and legalism of the Pharisees. There’s a lot there in those three chapters. But food and sustenance in the symbol of bread is pivotal.

7:1-23: The opposition is growing, and although we haven’t seen the Pharisees in a few chapters, they have caught up with Jesus (who is really moving around, and geography is key to understanding Mark; close reading shows how often Jesus walks or sails long distances). These Pharisees have come from Jerusalem—either locals who had gone on a trip and gotten the word to pursue their opposition, or more elite Pharisees coming from headquarters. The Pharisees are concerned about diet and rituals surrounding food—washing of hands, done in a special way.

Actually (v. 5) they confront Jesus about “his disciples” (do they watch these people’s every move?). Jesus is loyal; notice that while he will confront and rebuke his disciples, he doesn’t throw them under the bus (what a metaphor in use today!). He turns the question to the real issue, what’s in the heart. In short, he says, “it’s what in your heart and what shows in your treatment of others, not what’s in your stomach.”

I recently read an article about “food is the new sex.” In the past, we as a culture had strict rules about sexual behavior. Now those are thrown off, but everybody (who don’t care who they sleep with) is worried about food—where it comes from, who grew it, what’s been sprayed on it, how it’s cooked, how many grams of nutrients in it. Now, I appreciate stewardship of the body, but I have to wonder about a vegan who is sexually promiscuous. Legalism thrives.

Jesus specifically hones in on a practice of the Pharisees, and their adherents, of ignoring the needs of one’s parents by claiming money was dedicated to the temple, thus violating the Ten Commandments but trying to look good to the religious elite. I think this is one of the most apt applications in the New Testament for people today.

Jesus is not, by the way, saying to throw out the Mosaic dietary laws. I believe he followed them to the letter, just not the Pharisees add-ons.

In v. 24 we encounter an interesting observation: Jesus wanted something but he couldn’t get it. That is one of those verses that cause us to contemplate. Were there other times Jesus wanted something and didn’t get it, for whatever reason? And what does that mean? Jesus didn’t know everything at that time, and he learned—we can’t deny that.

Not only did Jesus have people visiting him from hundreds of miles off, he traveled a great deal for that day, especially into Gentile territory. The woman who approaches him in v. 24-30 is a Gentile with a request, the first mention of a Gentile in Mark. They are up here in Tyre and Sidon, on the Mediterranean. Again the conversation revolves around food. Jesus’ remark is hard to understand without the context. Jews called nonJews “dogs” at that time, so he may have been using the word to see how she would react. He obviously had every intention of helping her, so he’s not calling her a dog. These are little dogs, pets kept in the household, but even so, dogs to Jews were not like dogs to us. This miracle of course shows two things: his power over distance (he is not some local god), and that he excludes no one but the faithless. This incident probably infuriated the Pharisees, but since Jesus and company were in Gentile territory, the Pharisees probably weren’t there.

v. 31: Jesus leaves the coast and travels to a Gentile area on the other side of the Jordan, and the miracle of healing a deaf-mute is recorded. It is interesting that he performs two miracles of healing sensory disabilities in a row, with a reference to spiritual deafness and blindness in between.

In chapter 8 we read of a repeat miracle; the main differences are the number fed, the number of baskets taken up, the “seed” amount of food, and the location. Otherwise, we might wonder why it’s there twice. I think there are a lot of reasons, when you look in the context. First, the disciples didn’t get the whole point the first time and are still struggling in their understanding. Second, the place. The first feeding was done in the Jewish part of Palestine, and the twelve baskets would have been symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel: there’s food for them, in other words. The second feeding was done in Decapolis, a pagan, Gentile area; the number seven there was symbolic of the seven tribes of Canaan who were sent there after Joshua’s conquest. The seven of the second would have been symbolic that there was enough food for the Gentiles, too.

Third reason for two stories: The Pharisees come ask him for a sign I v. 11. Good grief! What do these people want? Jesus sighed, and said, NO, I’m not doing tricks here, folks, just so you can reject them. I’ve done plenty already. In the Bible generation doesn’t always mean a twenty-to-thirty year life span. Generation could mean group of people, ethnic group as well. Jesus didn’t do miracles to show off, but to meet human need and prove his authority, period.

Fourth reason, of course, is for more teaching. They are all back in the boat, and now they get into a fuss over “who forgot to bring lunch?” It’s really a little funny in retrospect, but not at the time. Side light: people back then ate a lot more than we do, and slept a lot more to. They were in constant movement—they had to have more fuel and sleep. Ten hours a day sleeping was not excessive, and 10,000 calories a day was not either. Jesus hears their discussion, of course, and says, v. 8:15, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” Leaven in the Bible is symbolic of sin, not because leaven is bad, but because of its attachment to the story of the Passover (the bread was not to be leavened, raised, so the Israelites could get out of Egypt quickly and take the bread with them, so basically they were eating biscuits instead of yeast bread. To wait for the leaven to work would have been sin and meant their destruction.)

I think the leaven of the Pharisees is legalism in all its manifestations (which is not, by the way, whether somebody goes to the movies or not) and the leaven of Herod is the sensuous way Herod lived, as we saw in chapter 6. Other says the reference to Herod is there because there was a Messiah cult built around Herod, which is hard to believe, but we do not have to look very far in our own time for cult figures. Even Michael Jackson was one in his heyday.

The disciples think Jesus is rebuking them for not bringing bread, but that is not his point. He is perfectly capable of turning that loaf into hundreds of them—didn’t they just see that? The question is not physical bread but spiritual sustenance, truth of the Word, which they don’t understand—blindness and deafness is still choking them.

To finish it off, he heals a blind man immediately upon the docking of the boat, and unlike any other miracle, it takes two steps (not tries). The disciples are gradual in their spiritual sight, just like this man is gradual in his physical sight.

So, it is not surprising that the next part of the narrative is a revelation deeper into Jesus’ identity. Now they are ready for understanding what kind of Messiah he is—but that will still take a while. V. 27-38 are really another lesson for another day, but we have the awesome declaration by Peter about who Jesus is, followed by Peter falling on his face. Yes, you are the Messiah, Jesus, but are you sure you get this Messiah-ship thing? seems to be what Peter is saying. It’s time for them to start understanding the future and what they will be facing—opposition—and the rest of the book of Mark focuses on the passion and resurrection.

I am supposed to make an application here—the “so-what and the now-what.” There are many, but these stand out to me:
1. Jesus takes care of the physical and the spiritual sustenance, but don’t get them confused. The physical world will not be around forever, and eventually everything you “own” will belong to someone else anyway. Keep your eyes on the spiritual sustenance.
2. The bread is for everybody—don’t hog it!
3. Jesus is patient as we understand slowly and make setbacks in our understanding, and he doesn’t throw us under the bus.

Friday, January 08, 2010

When God is Silent

Before I get into the title, a few observations. One, I am using this blog as a kind of memoir as well as a traditional blog; that's why I get off the original topics of communication theory at time (although this post is a theological look at communication). Two, it was 15 degrees this morning in Ringgold and a wane sun is shining through my windows and I don't see how I can leave the house but would really like to get some exercise. Three, Alabama won! but it was rather sad about Texas' qb. However, that's football--any given Sunday, anybody can get injured at any time, all that stuff. It could have been Mark Ingram and then Alabama would have lost. Four, I would like for my son to go back to school, as much as I love him. Three weeks at home is too long. Five, I've been reading Calvin and it's amazing how deep and specific and analytic he is. Six, I am fasting from Facebook for a while. Seven, someone wrote a comment on my blog a while back that was just nasty. Oh, well.

My response to the title is that it is an impossibility. I don't believe God is silent, ever. My reasons:
1. He spoke creation into existence, He spoke through creation (Rom 1), and Creation still exists. Conclusion: He is speaking.
2. He speaks through the Scriptures, and the Scriptures still exist. Conclusion, He is speaking.
3. Just because someone is speaking doesn't mean He is being heard. So whose fault is that? The listener (the non-listener) or the speaker? Now, there's a good question here. As a rhetorician, I would say that part of the responsibility does lie with the rhetor, but in a free society, the audience can still choose not to listen to the rhetor, no matter how skillful he/she is. And listening doesn't just mean exposure, but reception. I have to conclude that if 1 and 2 are true, that the problem is not the lack of God speaking, but the lack of our listening, which again is exposure and reception. We are exposed to a lot of God's speaking, but we aren't receiving.

Of course, God speaking is not just the words on the page but the Spirit speaking through them. We need all three (but not in equal measure, of course) for reception of revelation: the Word, the Spirit, and ourselves: our openness, our effort, our understanding (that's why Christians need to be taught how to study the Bible, I firmly believe that). So, the argument could be turned around by a skillful debater to say, "Unless the Holy Spirit does the work, can we truly say God is speaking?" But of course that assumes He is not, and it seems that it's pretty hard to make blanket statements about whether almighty God is doing His job or not.

4. Personally, I don't understand the issue of "when God is silent." I think when people say it they mean two things.
a. That God is not answering their prayers. And some of Scripture does seem to imply that God is obligated to answer our prayers, but as the cliche goes, No is an answer just as Yes is. So failure to get what one wants seems like a low-level criteria for deciding that God is mute.
b. That the person accusing God of silence is not "feeling God's presence." First, I don't know why we should place so much importance on feeling God's presence, as if our feelings were a basis for accusing God of silence and thus of apathy toward us. Second, an overconcern for one's need to feel God's presence at all times may tempt more than teach.

Many Christians get bored with their spiritual lives and are seeking for something "deeper" and "more meaningful" and "closer in its intimacy with God." And that boredom may lead them to look in other directions. I have had friends who became charismatics because they were looking for something more meaningful and intimate, and others who have gone in the direction of beautiful, liturgical, high-church worship--Episcopalianism, Orthodoxy, or Roman Catholicism. I don't deny them their choices to do so, but I often wonder how they could overlook the problems associated with those avenues. And I do read Catholic and Anglican writers to get their viewpoints, and often they write elegantly of the Christian experience--at least those who convert to those groups, not necessarily those raised in them. And of course, there are those who move, unfortunately, toward New Ageism. What's worse, they look at those of us who remain in nonliturgical worship, or non-charismatic worship, as if we are stuck, unenlightened and untaught, in our old low-church, sola scripura ways.

I say all this because I am reading a study on prayer for women and some of it is very concerned with our experience, our feelings, and our fear of silence. Maybe it's my temperament, but if we get away from remembering that prayer is as much intercession (for others) as it is about feelings (for myself), I tend to think we are in trouble. How much am I praying about myself and how much about others? What should the ratio be? (is there such a thing as a ratio in prayer?) And in the same vein, am I looking for new ways to feel closer to God--a new book, a new conference, a new guru--or am I looking for ways to have beautiful feet to bring good news to others. One thing that can't be denied from reading the gospels is that those who follow Christ are to be actively searching to meet the needs of others versus looking inwardly. We are not Buddhists, and Buddhism has nothing to offer the Christian.

By the way, speaking of Buddhism v. Christianity, good for Brit Hume. It's great to see God working in someone's life and giving them the courage to speak truth to power.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing

Corny title about the weather. We have had an inch of snow and you would think it was an avalanche. It didn't really affect my schedule, except I got to come home early rather than sit in my office waiting for non-existent late registrants, since the college closed at 4:45. It was kind of pretty outside. But I wasn't feeling well; the week of cold has gotten to me, I guess, I'm not used to it, so I took a nap. Now I feel rambunctious.

One week into 2010, and I have been able to celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday with her for the first time, visit a friend home from the mission field, get in good shape, almost finish a newsletter, teach the word, watch the nursery, read, work a week at school, advise several students, spend time with my son before he returns to college, help the BCM, exercise (but missed three days!), and walk with God. I am slowing down but that's still a good week.

Watched a bizarre movie last night, The Scarlett Empress. I took it at face value and 40 minutes in couldn't decide if it was intentionally bad or just bad. Creepy, campy, over-the-top, Mel-Brooksish. Found out it was intended to be all gothic visuals. It succeeded; really weird. I got tired of it and went to sleep. Sometimes you find a gem on TCM but this was not one of them; it was precode and very sexual in connotations. Left a bad taste in my mouth, as those often do.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Good, Holy, Blessed Friday 2017

When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died, my riches gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride. F...