Showing posts from March, 2013

Thoughts on the New Pontiff

Needless to say, I am not a Roman Catholic, so my thoughts on Pope Francis I do not come from expertise in all things papal, but I do like this one's style.

He is pushing away the overdressed look of the office and pulling toward him the downtrodden, washing the feet of women in prison and AIDS facilities.  I just realized that his name, Francis, might come from Francis of Assissi, the saint of the simple life. 

We can all learn from him.  Of course, as a dyed-in-the-wool Protestant I don't accept a human head of the church, but I wonder if he himself sort of questions it. 

What do we call the Saturday after the Cross?

For a wonderful essay on this subject, go to my friend's blog:

Adult Education Issues and Older Adult Learners

Reflections from the Valley of Vision

As I wrote earlier, I have been reading the Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers, but it took me a couple of weeks to get past the first page.  Every line is rich.  Some thoughts.

Let me find . . . thy joy in my sorrow.

Over what am I sorrowful?  I am sorry, but am I sorrowful?

That young people die often from sinful decisions.
That children are abused and killed from the womb on
That my mother is facing a deadly disease
That my husband is imprisoned in mental illness
That our country is run by liars.
That the church is not holy and is pursuing pleasure and cultural relevance instead of obedience
That so many Christians face real persecution every day of their lives
That the rich of the world--like me--hold on to their wealth more than to God.

A "reblog" from a friend

A friend, former student, and now pastor wrote this blog post.  Very appropriate.

I love Santa Claus and think it's wrong to treat this "incarnation" of a great saint as if he's the devil.  But the EASTER BUNNY?  Please.  Run the other way, churches.  I love the picture on the blog of the Easter Bunny in clerical garb.

Chrisitianity Today: Whither Goest Thou?

About ten years ago when I was attending a large Presbyterian church in our city, one of the editors from Christianity Today spoke on a recent book of his about William Carey.  As an amateur historian, I had to go, but I had another reason.  I was going to get to meet one of the editors of the magazine that had sustained my faith.

I approached him afterward and told him how much CT had meant to me.  He laughed and said that he more often hears angry comments, so he appreciated it.  I was very sincere and let him know I was very sincere.

Why was I sincere?  Because at a time when I was entrenched in a branch of the church that was stifling, emotionally and intellectually, reading CT allowed me to know that other people thought like me and there was hope for thinking persons of faith.  That's the short version.

When CT went online, I stopped getting it in the mail and started my daily trek to its website to read its articles.  It still sustains me in many ways, and I often post link…

Waiting in the Chemo Room

My mother has cancer.

That is the defining fact of my life right now.  Although it doesn't have a direct impact on me every second now, it does affect the structure of my week (must have Wednesdays free), my planing of the future (like vacations, and my emotional health.

I take her to her chemo.  She is on her second 6-month cycle now.  The first did not change her condition, only kept it stable.  The chemo drug she is taking now is much stronger and is affecting her symptoms, although she has lost her hair.  She does eat pretty well, though.

Sitting in the chemo room with the other patients is part of my life.  I spend at least three hours there; during some of her treatment, which runs about six hours (lab, premeds, actual chemo infusion) I go get some lunch, do her errands, do my errands.  All the patients are on different protocols, so we do not see all of them every week; whether we do or not is a bit random.

However, they are a community in that room (the second of two at th…

Bait and Switch Salvation

I wonder sometimes if Christians sit in church and listen to a sermon about totally committing one's life to Christ in service or sacrifice and think, "did I sign up for this?"

How many people come to Christ, pray the prayer, and wonder if there was a bait and switch going on?

What am I getting at?  I am getting at soteriology, the doctrine of salvation, and more specifically, how we present the salvation experience, or conversion, to people.  "Ask Jesus into your heart," "Admit, believe, confess," "Pray this prayer" and you will be saved. 

There is, of course, no way that a person before conversion can really understand the full ramifications of their decision, but for it to be a real decision, they need more information than they are usually getting.  The Bible does not prescribe any prayers or confessions to become a Christian--it's an individual matter with the core of confession of Jesus as Lord (Romans 10), trust in him to the exte…

Baptist Reflections

I attend a Baptist church, Southern Baptist even.  This does not mean I embrace everything about Southern Baptist churches.  I could make a lot of comments on things I don't like, but that's not the point here.  The point is what I do like, what is endearing and even more, reflecting of the real gospel, in my thinking.

Baptists have built in servanthood in their churches, innate humility.  That is hard for some from more hierarchical churches to see, and I've experienced plenty of arrogance especially from men directed at me just because I was a woman.  But I noticed today when we were being served the Lord's Supper.  We were being served it.  The deacons brought it to us.  In other churches, the people go forward to the priest.  There is something symbolic there, of both the gospel and the idea of leadership.  The leaders serve.  The people do not approach the leaders as if the leaders were holy shrines.

Baptists baptize after conversion.  It is an active choice, and …

Jesus Had a Dysfunctional Family

In teaching about the last sayings of Christ on the cross this morning, I noticed that Jesus gave the care of his mother to his trusted disciple John.  Where was his family?  Matthew tells us clearly he had four brothers, and even names them--James, Judas, Simon, and Joseph.  Was it because they were in Jerusalem and the rest were back in Nazareth?  Were the others poor and not able to take her in?  Is this the act of the oldest son?  Were his brothers stepbrothers or halfbrothers?

Or were his brothers just not responsible people?  Were they jealous, angry, spiteful toward Jesus and their own mother for some reason?  Did they feel shame in their small town because of Mary's "surprise" pregnancy?  All this is conjecture, but the fact remains--Jesus had drama in his family.  In one incident in the gospels, recounted at least twice, his family wanted to collect him and take him home during public miracles and teaching.  The text implies they thought he was acting crazy. 

Do Dogs Have Sin Natures?

I am trying to get more readers for this blog, and I thought that heading might bring in some viewers.

Bloggers either have to have a theme (mine is vague) or a big name (not me) or provocative posts. 

Maybe the first question is whether people have sin natures?

In some respects, that is one of the most evidence-based theological concepts.  Even people raised in the best of circumstances do terribly things (Hitler was from a middle-class family with a loving and indulgent mother).  Babies start rebelling against authority pretty early.  On the other hand, a lot of what we call sin is not sin, and I think people should feel a real sense of their own personal sinfulness for conversion, not just a general, ethereal "we're all sinners whether we feel like it or not" belief.  It's too easy to pass them one off.

But traditional Christian theology says we are all born in sin and will transgress God in real life eventually, given the time. 

So what does this have to do with …

Being Defriended on Facebook

Most of the time when I am defriended on Facebook, I don't know about it.  I currently have 1031 "friends" on Facebook (I know, that is ridiculous.  I do not know who some of them are, and I'm pretty sure they don't know me).  But yesterday I had 1032.

My son defriended me.

Why?  He posted something about buying a new notebook computer, and I responded, "You bought another computer?"  He took it as me being critical, or controlling, or something, and defriended me.  We were all eating dinner yesterday and I let him know how angry I was about it, and he really didn't have an argument, and his daddy and grandma joined in the censure.  I told him he would pay for it.

It hurt me a lot, but it's probably for the better.  I don't need to stalk him.  He's an adult, let him be an adult.   I will also stop following his tweets.  When he figures it out, I'll have a long chat about gratitude, about all the extra hours I worked to put him throug…

Catching up on Random Thoughts

Did Mark Twain really say/write all those things that get attributed to him?

I don't know if I will watch Downton Abbey next year.

A woman in my Bible class told me Omaha, Nebraska, is very diverse.  Who would have thought that?

I tried to read John Rawls' book on justice.  Worst book ever written.  Even Habermas is easier to read and makes more sense.  So many times these tomes have very few ideas but a lot of pages, and the ideas are really simple (and often wrong).  His:  Justice if fairness. There is so much wrong with that idea I don't know where to start.  Justice only tangentially has anything to do with fairness.  It has to do with rightness.

I do not like our president any more, or less, than I did four years ago. 

Our gifts, especially our talent gifts, can become such idols in our lives and we must fight to subsume them to the worship of God.

A friend who is a humorist was using humor, as he often does, in talking about something, and I told him he was not bei…

My Recent Reading

Elsewhere I posted on one of my recent reads, The Secret Confessions of an Unlikely Convert.  I am also reading a lot of doctoral material, primarily; Quiet; Great Expectations and Anna Karenina; Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Sermons; and The Valley of Vision.

Having given up television for Lent allows more time for the eternal and at least the cerebral.

The first page of The Valley of Vision is below.  I have not been able to get past it.  This reading is not for the faint of heart.  It is for people who want to stop and ponder the depths of the Christ experience for a while.  '

Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious …

A Song to Change Your Life

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath-
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev'ry bitter thought,
Ev'ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
"Finished!" the vict'ry cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Son of God-slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

How Much Introspection Can One Person Take?

What a title.  But it's how I feel right now.

I am in a doctoral program at UGA in Adult Learning and Organizational Leadership.  Let me say from the outset that its rigor is kicking my butt and I should be working on my papers and dissertation prospectus right now rather than blogging, but it's been a while since I've posted here and there are also some thoughts I want to put up for Holy Week.  Also, I spent 10-12 hours yesterday on doctoral work and need a break. 

Secondly, let me say I thoroughly enjoy the classes, the content, and the profs.  They are genuinely committed to our cohort, incredibly knowledgeable, and excellent teachers.  My cohortians are fabulous.  This is all sincere.

However . . . one of the practices, philosophically, of the program is that we are put through the processes that we read about.  In a sense, we are guinea pigs (the profs are using us for research, but that's ok--the dissertation we have to write employs action research so the profs…

Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith

I recently bought and read this book, having seen an article about it on the Christianity Today website.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  At first, I didn't believe it.  It sounded too good to be true, like someone had made up the story or embellished the details to make the conversion more dramatic.  But it is totally true, and she was a lesbian English professor in feminist studies, etc. who came to Christ. 

Dr. Butterfield is totally honest in the book, and I was quite enthralled by it until about 2/3 in.  She is honest about her own past, her own motives, her own mistakes as an early Christian, and the mistakes made by her friends and counselors during her early Christian walk.  For the first half I thought this would be an excellent book to give a nonChristian, especially one dealing with GLBT issues.  And I still think the first part is an endearing and searing testimony to God's power; she calls her conversion a "train wreck" because it was so unplanne…

The Sayings of Christ On--and After--the Cross