Friday, February 29, 2008

My First Political Posting Ever

I discovered today (watching Tyra Banks) that Huckabee hates carrots. Bush hates broccoli. Coincidence? Or something deeper and darker?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Friday Bullets

  • I sat down this morning with my daily routine -- something from the Bible, something from a book of theology (usually pretty heavy stuff), prayer and again I'm sniffling and headache-y and the theology stuff just slid right off.
  • I wonder how much of the sniffing and sneezing and headache-y is from the rapid and sudden shifts in temperature we've been having. It's been very cold the last few days, but hasn't seemed that cold because the air is so dry. Then it will warm up a little and the humidity will rise and it will actually seem colder. My skin is dry; the insides of my nose is dry. (Yeah, I know, complain complain.) The weather affects me sometimes so very deeply, I don't think I'm altogether aware of it. I'm sure it affects others as well.
  • The girls have been dragging in the morning -- usually just a few minutes late, but earlier this week, they were 15 minutes late getting ready for school. It's gotten better -- Chaos was only about 6 minutes late this morning; Entropy about 7. It is getting better -- but we are still working on getting systems in place so that we can cope.
  • I'm going to go get them the book "7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens." I like Covey's take on things and I've read the first few pages of this book -- I found it amusing and entertaining. Maybe it will help ... maybe not.
  • I've been looking for a book for days. I remember reading it. I remembered that the author's name began with a "Ke," that it was "The something Self." I remembered that it was a "stages of life" book, like Erik Erikson and James Fowler, with a twist of Winnicott thrown in for fun, but heck if I could remember more.... I found it! Yeah! It's Robert Kegan's book "The Evolving Self." I don't think I still have a copy -- time to look for it at a used bookstore or Amazon.
  • I just took about 16 cubic feet of books off the shelves in the living room to list on Amazon. Pounds and pounds of books.
  • I sometimes get discouraged that things don't happen fast enough -- but I realized today that I've come a long way. The shelves are getting more manageable. I don't think that I'm progressing in Karate -- but then I realized that at the beginning of the year, I did about 10 crunches in 2 minutes (pitiful, I know). I now can do 25 -- it's getting better. I believe one day I'll do the 50 crunches required. Even though I'm not losing weight at this like I would like, I am getting in better shape. My shape is still round but it's not quite as round as it was....
Update: I took the belt test tonight and I'm now a yellow belt! Woo hoo!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Roses and compost

In the garbage, I see a rose
In the rose, I see the garbage,
Everything is in transformation,
Even permanence is impermanent.
-- Thich Nhat Hanh, "Present Moment, Wonderful Moment: Mindfullness Verses for Everyday Living"

But so have I seen a Rose newly springing from the clefts of its hood, and at first it was fair as the Morning, and full with the dew of Heaven, as a Lambs fleece; but when a ruder breath had forced open its virgin modesty, and dismantled its too youthful and unripe retirements, it began to put on a darknesse, and to decline its softnesse, and the symptomes of a sickly age; it bowed the head, and broke its stalk, and at night having lost some of its leaves, and all of its beauty, it fell into the portion of weeds and outworn faces.
-- Jeremy Taylor, "Holy Dying" (1651 -- A parallel book to his 1650 "Holy Living." This Christian devotional book greatly influenced John Wesley's teachings of Holiness of Heart and Life.)

The Rose.

How fair is the Rose! what a beautiful flower!
The glory of April and May:
But the leaves are beginning to fade in an hour,
And they wither and die in a day.

Yet the Rose has one powerful virtue to boast,
Above all the flowers of the field!
When its leaves are all dead and fine colours are lost,
Still how sweet a perfume it will yield!

So frail is the youth and the beauty of man,
Though they bloom and look gay like the Rose;
But all our fond care to preserve them is vain,
Time kills them as fast as he goes.

Then I’ll not be proud of my youth and my beauty,
Since both of them wither and fade;
But gain a good name by well doing my duty:
This will scent like a Rose when I’m dead.
-- Isaac Watts, "Divine and Moral Songs" written around 1700 or so.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

There is a solitude of space

There is a solitude of space

a solitude of sea

a solitude of death, but these Society shall be

Compared with that profounder site,

that polar privacy,

a soul admitted to itself,

Finite Infinity.

-- Emily Dickenson

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Actually, I'm not being antisocial

I'm just feeling "flu-ish." I am heartedly getting tired of catching every single bug that comes my way. I've taken a couple of days of rest and feeling a smidge better. Tomorrow is a little busier, but I'm not going to push it.

I know, this was so last week

Humorous Pictures
Enter the ICHC online Poker Cats Contest!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Bullets

  • I stayed up too late (2:00 am) doing my two different eighth grade projects. (Poetry and Simple Machines.) Middle school is difficult for all of us -- the school day runs 9:30 am to 4:15 pm. The kids don't get home until 4:30 at the earliest. Dinner is at 7:00 on the nights we are home, karate at 7:30 twice weekly, choir at 7:00, music lessons at 6:00. Then the homework! Next year Chaos will be at school from 7:30 to 2:15, Entropy will have the hours 9:30 to 4:15. So the stress will be a little better for Chaos, probably worse on the Mommy who has to make sure all things get done.
  • We are all coming down with something -- upset tummies, sore throats, runny noses. They are home today, drinking tea, eating rice and candied ginger slices. I swear my eyes are not tracking together. So today is a day of rest and moving slowly. (Note: the staying up to 2:00 am was for naught -- the kid stayed home.)
  • To tackle the decluttering today, I've decided to do a couple of drawers (one at a time.) Dump out the contents on the drawer on the table and dispose of all items -- keep, donate, throw away. I may even take pictures.... Decluttering, just like a diet or a budget, is a continual and ongoing process. It's not that you can't slack off for a couple of days, but it is a life decision and not a band-aid of some sort. It has to become habit and a way of thinking about the world.

Morning Prayer -- St. Francis of Assisi, Brother Sun, Sister Moon

Most high, all-powerful, all good, Lord!

All praise is yours, all glory, all honor

And all blessing.

To vou alone, Most High, do they belong.

No mortal lips are worthy

To pronounce your name.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through all that you have made,

And first my lord Brother Sun,

Who brings the day; and light you give to us through him.

How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendor!

Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and Stars;

In the heavens you have made them, bright

And precious and fair.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,

And fair and stormy, all the weather's moods,

By which you cherish all that you have made.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water,

So useful, lowly, precious, and pure.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire,

Through whom you brighten up the night.

How beautiful he is, how gayl Full of power and strength.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth, our mother,

Who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces

Various fruits and colored flowers and herbs.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through those who grant pardon

For love of you; through those who endure

Sickness and trial.

Happy those who endure in peace,

By you, Most High, they will be crowned.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death,

From whose embrace no mortal can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin

Happy those She finds doing your will!

The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks,

And serve him with great humility.

--St. Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tomorrow Night Lunar Eclipse

Article here.

Chaos and Clutter

Thermodynamics is a funny subject. The first time you go through it, you don't understand it at all. The second time you go through it, you think you understand it, except for one or two small points. The third time you go through it, you know you don't understand it, but by that time you are so used to it, it doesn't bother you any more.
-- Arnold Sommerfeld

Life is filled with chaos and clutter. The third Law of Thermodynamics would imply that creation itself strives toward complete entropy. Randomness rules. For housework, it means that the interior of my house looks like a tornado just blew through. There is a sea of books on the floor (at least they are in boxes), paper bits everywhere, candy wrappers (Valentine's Day colored this time) and just random stuff. And this is not including the Christmas decorations (boxed up, thank goodness) that are in the foyer. I have had two different people come to the front door and ask if we are in the middle of moving. Sigh.

Here's what I know about clutter: it grows to fill (and overfill) the given space. I even know HOW to deal with clutter: every item has to have a place. And it must be in it's place, or chaos will rule. So the gameplan has been:
  • Find a place for everything and put it in it's place.
  • If there is no place for the item them:
    1. Give it away.
    2. Sell it.
    3. Trash it.

Seems simple, yes? Except there is another axiom: everyone in the house has to be on board with the plan. It is impossible to do this cleaning up of the common spaces without total cooperation from the family. Also, there needs to be communication with what exactly the standards are for a clean common space.

I think we need to do this with our lives, as well: with our time and with our mental energies.

So today, I will be (again) trying to declutter my life. I have to deal with all the stuff in the common spaces today because it's driving me crazy. ¡Adelante!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Theology of Space

PBJ in the comments of the previous posting says:To have very little would be liberating....but....
what would we do to fill up the emptiness or "lack of". At times I have found myself wanting to be free of something that is taking my time and when I am something else just fills in the space before I know what happened.

Very good observation and one I have made myself. I find myself doing that, as well. Dropping one activity/item and just picking up another. If I had my druthers, I would fill time with only those activities that are 1) positive 2) recharging and 3) constructive as well as the thing that truly must be done because it's part of life (laundry) or part of my Christian witness.

As for things -- I am paring back one level at a time. For instance, I own a lot of china -- maybe 11 sets? And am inheriting more. I am going to look at each set and ask myself some questions: Do I need this? Is this set something of value for me personally (sentimental)? Is there someone I know who can use it or who needs it more than I do? Is this something I can set aside for the children? I've given away one set of china and before this is over, I hope to give away a couple more sets.

And my "Adventures as a Book Owner" -- I probably own 10,000 books right now. 1299 (as of today) are listed on Amazon and I've traded away about 1500, so that brings the total down to about 7200 books. What I've realized: books are really easy to obtain. If I want a book, odds are there is someone out there wanted to sell that exact book, usually used, usually really inexpensive. So I'm continuing in Book Owning Reduction. I hope to own only 5000 books by the end of the year, if not less. The ones I'm keeping: my theological library, my first editions and my Aerospace collection. And that's about it.

Tom DeMarco has this book entitled "Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency." Amazon says this:
Another entry in the small but growing management library that suggests purposely slowing down and smelling the roses could actually boost productivity in today's 24/7 world, Tom DeMarco's Slack stands out because it is aimed at "the infernal busyness of the modern workplace." DeMarco writes, "Organizations sometimes become obsessed with efficiency and make themselves so busy that responsiveness and net effectiveness suffer." By intentionally creating downtime, or "slack," management will find a much-needed opportunity to build a "capacity to change" into an otherwise strained enterprise that will help companies respond more successfully to constantly evolving conditions. Focusing specifically on knowledge workers and the environment in which they toil, DeMarco addresses the corporate stress that results from going full-tilt, and offers remedies he thinks will foster growth instead of stagnation. Slack, he contends, is just the thing to nurture the out-of-box thinking required in the 21st century, and within these pages, he makes a strong case for it.

Infernal busyness -- that's not just in the corporate workplace, but in the pastoral workplaces as well. Heck, it our entire life. My tagline yesterday for my Facebook account was a quote from Veggietales:
"I'm so busy, busy, frightfully busy
More than a bumblebee, more than an ant.
Busy, busy, horribly busy
We'd love to help, but we can't!"
Why are we so horribly busy? Because we equate busyness with value or worth. A busy person is worth more. But without "room" in my life for creative and artistic endeavors, I am not fulfilling my God-given purpose; to live into the Imago Dei, the Image of God (the Image of Christ) -- a God who creates and who is "Slack" one full day of creation. I have to make that room; it is not going to happen automatically. I have to clear the space in my daily schedule and not allow anything to fill that space. I HAVE to. Or else, something vital within me may die.

I'm particularly fascinated by the Jesus Sutras because of this: it may bridge into Feng Shui and may help me articulate my "Theology of Space." Space, time, spirituality, intellect, physical placement of things, our physical body: they are all part of the same thing -- God's good creation. Most Christians would automatically shudder at such a concept; most of the ancient Hebrews would understand it. We Christians separate the physical from the spiritual from the intellectual. This is more than vaguely Gnostic to me: it implies a dualism that I am convinced does not truly exist. Spirit IS physical IS intellect; if not of the same essence, then at the least each influences the other strongly. My intellectual and spiritual stress will make me physically ill. My disordered physical environment impinges on my spiritual life. How can it NOT?

DeMarco equates slack with that one space left in a tile puzzle. That "slack" is necessary in the puzzle. Without that space, we cannot ever hope to solve the puzzle. But our infernally busy minds see that space and think, "Ah ha! I can do MORE by just putting in one more thing in my day." But that one more thing locks the puzzle -- leave zero room to move; no wiggle room, no slack, no flexibility.

I am going to learn to be and rejoice in being "Slack."

Tile Puzzles online

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Bullets

  • Johnny the Cat (Cat in Black) is ruining my furniture. He's treating the chairs in the living room as scratching posts. Of course, the cat has a scratching post that I've shown him multiple times, rubbed catnip on and so forth, but the forbidden living room chairs are just so much more attractive. So I'm going to have to get slipcovers -- or make them.
  • I found a set of retail racks on FreeCycle. I've got to get ready to have a garage sale here and an estate sale elsewhere this Spring. I'm aiming for April. I hope we make it.
  • I've recycling to do today and bags to take to Goodwill. Amazon packages to prepare and mail. Books to list. Today will be a "do lots of manual labor" day, not a day of thought and reflection. Although I will admit, without the manual labor days, I don't have much to think about and reflect upon.
  • I do wonder today if I own my possessions or if my possessions own me. To have very little would be liberating. Why do we love things that can't love us back?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Consuming: Cat, Theology and Culture

A reposting of an earlier post (December 2005) vaguely edited.
Seems appropriate for a week where I seem to be blogging about cats, theology and culture.

I watch cats. It’s a cheap form of entertainment and probably healthier than watching TV. I have been honored by the acquaintance with two different cats who are little gluttons – always eating more than they need. Squeaky topped the scales at 25 pounds and Hercules at 31 pounds. When these cats play with wadded up balls of paper, it’s not the little pitter pat of tiny cat feet that drum across the floor, but the thud-thud-thud of baby elephants. I had always been told that animals could regulate their own caloric intake. Why then did these cats get so very large? Why didn’t they know what was enough? Fascinated, I watched them for a while and took a “history.” Squeaky had been lost at one point, slipping away from my father-in-law’s car when they were at the vet. He had a collar and eventually was found and brought home, but not until Squeaky had suffered terrible deprivation – he lost more than half of his body weight until the normal 12-pound cat was 6 pounds. For the next year or two, Squeaky ate. Everything that was placed in his bowl and then he would beg for more. After two years of unlimited food, Squeaky topped the scales at a whopping 25 pounds – twice what he weighed as a normal adult cat and four times what he weighed as a lost waif.

Hercules, on the other hand, has always been large. He was born to an inside kitty and he himself is an inside kitty. His weight as an adolescent was a nice big number, but as he became more spoiled and petted, he began to eat. Again, there were unlimited amounts of food in his food bowl and he was bored. As an indoor cat, he had no prey. Cats are predators. Their essential nature is one of a hunter. To stimulate their body and mind they chase paper balls and milk-cap rings off our gallon milk jugs, but indoor kitties are thwarted. They cannot express their essential nature. They cannot fulfill their God-given purpose. So Hercules ate. Perhaps I am anthropomorphizing the cat, but maybe Hercules is trying to fill the void left by eliminating his routes of expressing his essential nature – his God-given purpose.

Our society is a society of gluttons. We never have enough. We don’t have enough information. We saturate ourselves with CNN, internet news services, newspapers, magazines, periodicals. We purchase every book that is published. We consume information. We never have enough information. We also don’t have enough money. We never stop to consider the essential nature of money – what money is and what it represents in our lives. We are greedy for more – trading away essential parts of our nature for the pursuit of little bits of cold hard cash. We are an overweight society, a self-anesthetized society; drugging ourselves with food, alcohol and drugs both legal and not. We try to fill the void. Some great theologian called this void a “God shaped hole” – I don’t remember who, one day I'll look it up. Some try to fill that hole with a God shaped after their own image – this is the way I think of some Evangelicals and Fundamentalists – and the way I think of some Liberals, too. A God-shaped God might be too radical. A God-shaped God might require more than mere consumption. This sort of God might call for formation and transformation of ourselves. A transformation that is uncomfortable and one that is alien to our society and culture.

A radical God might require radical transformation. Radical is a funny funny word. On one hand it comes from the Latin word “radix” meaning root or source. So a radical God would be a God that is rooted – one that is rooted in creation, rooted in the nature of the universe, rooted in something perhaps we cannot express except in blinding flashes of art or poetry – a God that is truly the source of all that is. On the other hand, radical means departing from the usual or customary. A radical God would require radical transformation. Transformation that is neither usual or customary – a revolutionary change in the way we do business, even the business of doing education and church.

We are a society that over indulges. Squeaky and Hercules occasionally both overindulge to the point to which they vomit. Most of the food they eat comes right back up, mostly unchanged. Moistened a bit, chewed a bit, but unchanged. The little that does make it to their digestive system does become changed. The food becomes transformed into energy for the cat’s bodies, changing the raw elements of the food into raw elements of transformation itself. The food nourishes the cat and becomes transformed into chemicals and sugars that course around in the Cat’s bloodstream, imbuing change in every part of the cat. Fueling the cat, giving the cat life.

We consume. How much of what we consume becomes something that transforms us? How much is spewed back out essentially unchanged? Moistened a bit, chewed up a bit, but unchanged? How much of what we gorge ourselves on is essential to life? How much is not even capable of being digested? Are we filling ourselves up with things that can truly nourish us? What does this mean for those of us who are ministers? What is essential for spiritual growth? What is needed for true transformation of life and spirit? How do we feed our people? Who should we try to feed? What do we feed them? Do we give raw information? Are we facilitators, educators, force-feeders? How do we communicate?

How can a Christian Educator, a Christian Minister or Preacher or Pastor approach the task of Christian Education as transformation? Especially, how can we move our people along this path of spiritual transformation in this age of overindulgence? What shape then is our vocation as we, ourselves, move along this path?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Jesus Sutras

From the Jesus Sutras:
Many people came to this place to honor John and learn from him. When Jesus arrived, John led the Messiah to the Jordan to be baptized. After the Messiah had bathed and come out of the water, the Cool Wind came from heaven in the form of a dove and landed near the Messiah. A voice from the void spoke: "The Messiah is my son. All the living creatures in the world must obey him. His purpose is to do only good." The Messiah then showed everyone that the way of Heaven was to follow the Lord of Heaven. This meant that all living creatures in the world below must stop serving other gods. As soon as anyone heard these words, they must stop serving other gods, renounce evil and do good.

For the sake of all living beings and to show us that a human life is as frail as a candle flame, the Messiah gave his body to these people of unwholesome karma. For the sake of the living in this world, he gave up his life.

After the Messiah had accepted death, his enemies seized the Messiah and took him to a secluded spot, washed his hair and climbed to "the place of the skulls," which was called Golgotha. They bound him to a pole and placed two highway robbers to the right and left of him. They bound the Messiah to the pole at the time of the fifth watch of the sixth day of fasting. They bound him at dawn and when the sun set in the west the sky became black in all four directions, the earth quaked and the hills trembled. Tombs all over the world opened and the dead came to life. What person can see such a thing and not have faith in the teaching of the scriptures? To give one's life like the Messiah is a mark of great faith.

The Jesus Sutras are a body of work that was discovered in the Mogao cave near a remote Chinese monastery in Dunhuang. This was a place that was near the Northern Silk Road in China -- a very ancient trade route. The earliest dates to 635 CE. They were discovered more than 100 years ago and were recently translated into English (1998). They consist of two different types of literature; doctrinal and liturgical. The doctrinal scrolls reflect Nestorian Christology; a splitting of the person of Christ and is not today considered Orthodox theology. The scrolls contain an early "Harmony of the Gospels" based on Tatican's opus of work.

I find them fascinating. I read them and find them oddly familiar and then strikingly different. I wonder if they just got some of the stories scrambled or if there are idioms that I am missing -- for instance, the details denoting time in the crucifixion account -- and the odd washing of Jesus hair. Is this a scrambling of two different stories?

I find the use of the word "karma" fascinating, as well. From Wikipedia:
It [karma] is usually understood as a sum of all that an individual has done, is currently doing and will do. The results or 'fruits' of actions are called karma-phala. Karma is not about retribution, vengeance, punishment or reward; karma simply deals with what is.
Karma is not a word I would use when discussing Christianity. It is not in my lexicon of orthodox doctrine; yet what other word would do in Chinese? I don't know enough about the language to venture a guess -- maybe there is not a word to describe the word "sinful." Yet its use here makes me think and ponder. The image of a the fragility of a candle flame is beautiful -- so easily is human life blow out. The candle flame gives light, but a small flickering light and this small light cannot hope to illumine the world. Yet all of our candles shining together -- that would be a beautiful sight.

The stories of Jesus presented here are not of a deeply developed theology; they have a beautiful "folk-tale" quality. Were these stories, as garbled as they are, sufficient? Do they contain the "Gospel in a nutshell?" Perhaps -- they knew enough to call this new religion "The Religion of Light." It is an awesome and powerful thing to think of these Taoist Christian fourteen hundred years ago struggling to find the words to express the Gospel in a way their culture would understand. I respect that struggle.


Latin vernaculus native, from verna slave born in the master's house, native

And how is it that every one of us is hearing their words in the language which was ours from our birth? -- Acts 2:8

I've been thinking a lot about putting things in the vernacular -- in language that will communicate in "spirit and truth." I was amused by the LOLBible yesterday -- bits are really funny; like Luke 2
Oh hai, Jebus iz bornd

1 'Roun dis tiyem, Caesar Augustus wuz like, "I can has cenzus?"2 ('Coz while Quirinius was Teh Boz of Syria, is invisible census!)3 And all teh doodz went home for teh saying, "I is heer!"4 So Joseph went from Naz'reth to Judeeah to Bethlehemm whar David wuz bornededed, 'coz David wuz hiz graete-graete gran-daddie,5 An Mary went wif him, 'coz she was gonna be married wif him an she was preggerz.6 When wuz time for teh baybee,7 it wuz a boy, so he wuz wrapd in blanket like burrito an placd him in fud dish, cuz innkeeper wuz liek, no room here kthxbye!
It reminds me of the Valley Speak Bible of 20 years ago ... a placing of a sacred text into a very "common" tongue. Some people think it is profane. I certainly wouldn't use it in the pulpit or for serious study, but it does cause me to pause and think about the text. Some would place Petersen's "The Message" in this category, but I don't know about that. RLP has a really funny video where a "King James Only" pastor preaches an entire sermon based on a particular way of translating a phrase from the Hebrew Scriptures -- specifically the way KJV uses the phrase "he who pisseth against the wall" verses the NRSV "male."

Certain congregational contexts probably would not tolerate the LOLBible very well; to appreciate things like this takes some room and flexibility. Could something as silly as the LOLBible lead to true transformation of heart and life? Could something like the LOLBible communicate the heart of the Gospel?

The portion that I quoted yesterday contains what some call the "Gospel in a nutshell" -- John 3:16. Is there enough contained in that nutshell and in that translation for transformation? Luther claimed that the Gospel in a nutshell was that Jesus "is the Son of God who became man for us, that he died, he was raised and that he has been established Lord over all of us." Can something as silly as the LOLBible communicate that?

I've long wanted to do a documentary on the history of the English Bible. The Vulgate was translated early on by Jerome, but it was centuries before the Bible was translated into any vernacular language. There are debates about why this is so. Some say that the message was too precious to be entrusted to the vernacular. Some say that by keeping it in Latin (by then an archaic language), anpriest could "control" the gospel and subsequent interpretation and application. Until the printing press, having the Gospel in the vernacular wasn't that important. I have recently read a book that traces the history of the English versions; it was a bloody and controversial thing. We still fight over what translation to use.

Alongside these ponderings, I've also been reading "The Jesus Sutras" by Martin Palmer. I realized that Christianity spread down the Silk Road in the 6th century AD; I didn't realize that it left footprints. The Sutras are interesting in that they reflect a significant portion of what we would consider orthodox thought; but they also reflect influences from Asian cultures and religions. Some would claim that the Gospel is "despoiled" by these influences. However, have WE not despoiled the Gospel in the same manner? Is not our version of the Christian faith just as contaminated by European culture and mythology?

The LOLBible is just the latest of a long history of contextualizations. Somehow I believe that the Gospel itself is self-correcting. And who knows? Maybe someone reading the LOLBible will hear the Gospel with fresh ears -- and actually HEAR it for the first time. Stranger things have happened....

Edited: Oh my goodness! Thanks to JWD, I have now ordered the Manga Bible! (One note: it opens the wrong way....)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

John 3:1-17; Lent 2A; LOLBible Translation

John 3:1-17

1 Naow dis guy Nicoteneus iz a lvl 64 Pharisee and leeds teh Je\/\/s.2 He comez to teh Jesus in teh nites and he sez "We knoes u comez frum teh Ceiling Cat and we knoes u pwn."

3 An Jesus sed, "Ceiling Cat has invisible haus, u gots 2 borned agen 2 see it."

4 Nicoteneus sez, "D00d! How doez dat werk?"

5 Jesus sez, "is da truth, u hafta be born agen wif waterz an spiritz an stuffs.6 Flesh givez birf 2 flesh, but teh spirit gives birf to spirit, k?7 Y r u so konfoozled?8 Is lyke wind, it doz its own stufs an u dunno how it werks, but is all ok, amirite? Is like that!"

9 Nicoteneus sez, "I doez not get it." :(

10 "Den ur not gud teecher," sed Jesus. "Lez flame tnak his b4se!"11 "Ok, iz da twoof. We says sum stuff dat we sawed, and teh peeplez is still konfoozled.12 I ben talkin bout teh stuffs on urf and ur still lyke, 'whut?' so whut bout Ceiling an stuffs?13 I iz da only wan whos gone to Heaven so u haves 2 trusts me, mkay?14 I gots 2 b lifteded up lyke Moses an his snakedy thingy,15 coz if u beleeves ur not gon be ded! Eternal lifes, u can has it!

16 So liek teh Ceiling Cat lieks teh ppl lots and he sez 'Oh hai I givez u me only kitteh and ifs u beleevs in him u wont evr diez no moar, k?'17 Cuz teh Ceiling Cat not snd hiz son 2 take all yur cookies, but so u cud maek moar cookies 4EVAR!


Monday, February 11, 2008

A Reflection on Cats

Funny Pictures
moar funny pictures

Funny thing about cats. Johnny Cat is in the bedroom prison -- and not wanting to escape. It seems that he's scared of Old Woman Cat. Old Woman Cat is definitely not taken with him -- she's actually drawn blood. Johnny has a nice big gash on his face that abscessed and drained; not pretty. He's scared to death of her. Of course, Old Woman Cat likes the kitten food and has discovered that we keep a nice big bowl of it in our bathroom. So she digs under the bedroom door until she can open it (really need to adjust that strikeplate; too easy to open) and then chows down. Of course, the kitten food is going to kill her -- too much protein and salts.

Somehow, this all reminds me of church. (Big surprise, right? My husband tells me that I look for theological meaning in everything. He may be right.) It's the "older members of the church" vs. "the young whippersnappers" dilemma. Those who want to change vs. those who want everything to remain exactly the same. We've had multiple cats before; we even have integrated new cats in an existing cat household. It can work. They even ate from the same bowls and I was able to find a food that would nourish them both. But I am wondering if that is the exception rather than the rule. How do you integrate a young active cat into a household that has a grumpy old kitty? I've done it by enforcing very rigid boundaries. Is that what it takes? Boundaries and patience? They are finally almost able to tolerate each other's presence in a room; Johnny is wandering the halls. I use a little kitten food to "flavor" the old lady food and both seem to enjoy it. Johnny is growing and I am supplementing his diet with vitamin "crunchies." It's probably too much to hope that one day they will nest together -- but I can hope. Of course I'm an idealistic optimist. It's my greatest strength -- and my greatest downfall.

I could just give up, I suppose. There are certain people in the household who LIKE to see them fight; who pick sides and root for their side. "Yeah, Johnny! Get her across the face!" In fact, I think sometimes that's our basic human nature. But it's not going to lead to peace in the household. I think I will then just remain faithful and patient. Watching and waiting for the Kingdom.

And, by the way, I don't think I was talking about cats here.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Ash Wednesday

I burn the palms from last year
A year gone with its dreams.
Burnt offerings to a God who tells me today
Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

The brazier is warm from the fire called down
Which consumes and I wonder what fire is really
What is it that can change hope and joy to ash?
Charity and comfort to soot and smoke?

Broken promises, harsh words, betrayed trust
All part of this broken bit of creation
Fractured and pieced together,
The bits and pieces creating a mosaic of beauty, but not completeness.

The body of Christ has been rent and torn
Dismembered by its own limbs
Joints wrenched from their sockets
Bruised and Dislocated

Are my dreams but chimera?
Illusion, pipe dreams that smoke
An expectation of prospects that cannot be?
Or are they the substance that makes my life worth living?

Still, I will be obedient.
Hoping that in obedience there is comfort
Lessons to be learned,
Reconcilations to forge.

I look forward to that day of reconciliation
Where fire cleanses and the fire forges
Where the touch of a coal will purify
And the dross of self will be burned away.

But today, I wait.
The smoke, flame and heat pace me
The silence that never is really silent will be my voice
The stillness will be my friend

Today in obedience, I will wait
And the ash will mark me, branding me with the imprint of my own sin.
The blemish of the cross will stain me
And the weight of that cross will sustain me.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Picture 22 of 365 for 2008 -- Shift in Perspective

This was one of the "decorations" on our Christmas tree this year. Sometime after Christmas, the kids noticed that the tree was covered with hundreds of little baby preying mantis. We left the tree up for a while as their "habitat" and didn't take it outside until it looked as if they finished hatching.

Entropy told us, "God decorated our tree!" This statement is an example of what we call "Entropy-isms." I don't remember all of them. I probably should write them down as they occur. Last year she got in trouble at school when she took her hands and put them on either side of a kid's face and turned it away from her. When asked, she said, "But that's where the noise was coming from." Yesterday, she told me, "I want to live in a trailer park because trailer park kitties are SO BEAUTIFUL."

She has such a different perspective on life. Maybe that's one of the things Jesus meant when he said, "Let the little children come unto me" and "unless you are as a child, you cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." Maybe we need to shift our perspective and not see preying mantis on a Christmas tree as pests to kill with bug spray, but God's own decoration. Maybe we need to not vilify trailer parks as bastions of poverty, but see them as a place where there are really beautiful kitty cats. She honestly believes that those kitties are a blessing. A shift in perspective.

Snow White Test

I just took the "Snow White Test" to see what personality type I am in meetings and (big surprise!) I'm "Happy."

Here are some of the characteristics:

Some Strengths which Happy may exhibit in a Group Meeting:
  • Happy is very likable, warm, and energetic
  • Happys are supportive of the leader, group members, and task at hand
  • Happy responds quickly to request from leader to do an exercise or help out
  • Happy promptly completes any assignments given
  • Happy nods affirmatively and expresses positive interest
Happy-dwarf people are people persons - they love people. They are warmly interested in others and tend to watch, listen and pick up specific, detailed information about others. They want to like people, and have a special skill at bringing out the best in others. They are extremely good at reading others, and understanding their point of view. Happy's strong desire to be liked and to maintain a pleasant environment makes him highly supportive of others. People like to be around Happy, because he has a special gift of invariably making people feel good about themselves.
Nothing I really didn't know already...

Monday, February 04, 2008

Monday Bullets

  • My internet is all flakey again today. It's been flakey for a while -- Just found out that I missed some email messages. My ISP was taken over by another company and I knew that there would be some difficulty during the transition, but I really get frustrated by missed email messages. I would switch to an online generic service, but I'm afraid some of those database are a little to open for me -- that they are "search-able." So I'll stick to the flakey service for a while longer and see if it clears up.
  • Because of the flakey service, I dropped out half-way through a lectionary study I was leading on Second Life. I'm sure they understand because others have dropped out halfway through as well, but it just as I was getting to the good part, where I tie it all together in a flash of brilliance. (Not really. But there is always hope for that!)
  • And I also missed my self-imposed deadline for shipping out today's packages; I couldn't get online to get my postage printed out. I guess I'll have to actually go to the Post Office to do it. Haven't done that in weeks.
  • I've received dozens of phone calls today from people soliciting votes for tomorrow. I'm tired of it. Don't call me -- it's guaranteed to backfire on you. I've a list now of people I'm NOT going to vote for.
  • I've started to work again in the garage. I've kept the dishwasher and washer and dryer going today. I'm trying to reclaim two boxes of towels/bedspreads/sheets from my husband's grandparent's house. It's good to see how yellowed and dusty old bedspreads bleach out and clean up so nicely.
  • There was an avalanche in the garage near the books listed on Amazon. It's funny -- I deal with sorting and getting rid of stuff here in the house, sorting and getting rid of stuff in the LH's grandparent's house and sorting and getting rid of stuff at church. Same task; different places. It echoes my own internal "clean-up."

Just down the road a bit

Just down the road a bit, a few neighborhoods away, a young man of 18 beat his adopted mother and father to death on Friday. No one knows why -- he's been arrested and will be tried as an adult. In another state and another town, another young man killed his parents, as well. And in another state, a man killed several people in a shooting associated with a robbery. In a way, I can understand the motivation of this last killer better than I can understand young men killing their parents.

This first young man's Dad was an associate principal for a school I actually attended many years ago. I can imagine the ride there, the layout of the building. I saw their house on the news -- it looks to be in a neighborhood like mine, in a house that my family could be living in. What causes this? I see it as evil -- where does this evil that contaminated this young one come from?

This is not the first time that something like this has had me befuzzled. Early in my teaching career, I had a student kill his next door neighbor, stabbing her dozens of times. He was caught as he returned to the scene to retrieve a part of his own finger that he had cut off. Where does this evil come from?

Today I think of all of these young people and their families.

Note: This is posting 1350. Interesting. I didn't think that I had that much to say. =o)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Four People Died

Four people died last night -- homeless people. They didn't have a place to stay and they basically died of exposure. I'm sitting in my nice suburban house, warm and fed, preparing to go to my nice warm church while there are four people, two men and two women, all over 50, whose cold bodies are now laid out in a cold morgue refrigerator.

I'm not feeling warm and fuzzy right now.

From Monk and Neagle:
Nowhere to live, nowhere to fall
he used to have money, but he’s wasted it all.
His face is a photograph burned in my mind,
but I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

He sleeps under stars, that’s all he can afford
His blanket's an old coat he’s had since the war
He stands on the corner of Carter and Vine
But I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

He may be a drifter, he’s grown old and gray
But what if he’s Jesus and I walk away?
I say I’m the body and drink of the wine
but I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

She’s twenty-nine but she feels forty-eight
She can’t raise three kids on minimum wage
She’s cryin’ in back of the welfare line
but I pretend not to see her for the twenty-first time

She may be a stranger tryin’ to get through the day
but what if it’s Jesus and i walk away?
I say I’m the body and drink of the wine
but I pretend not to see her for the twenty-first time

This is a call for a change in my heart
I realize that I’ve not been doin’ my part
when I needed a Savior, I found it in Him
He gave to me, now I’ll give back to them

Drifter or stranger, father or son
I’ll look for Jesus in every one
’cause I am the body and drink of the wine
and I’m thankful there’s more than the twenty-first time

Friday, February 01, 2008

Things That Make Me Happy -- Friday Edition

And for which I am grateful.
  • Friends at choir who share my love and enthusiasm for music.
  • My accompanist who is also a friend.
  • Hot tea with lemon. (Or tea with cream. NEVER hot tea with lemon and cream.)
  • Ecclesiastes and John.
  • Star Trek episodes in the afternoon.
  • Being able to play music anywhere I am -- iPod, CD's, really kickin' speakers in the living room.
  • Microwave ovens.
  • Clean panties. (This is for Mindy)
  • Long hot soaks in the bathtub.
  • Books. Any and all.
  • Glass and other sparkly things.
I think this is my last day to do this. I've needed an attitude adjustment and this has helped. This time of year can be such a downer; there seems to be no end in sight. Gray moods; gray skies. The trees are a study of gray and black trace-work on a gray sky; even the little birds that are wintering over are gray. The world today seems to me to be a study in shades of gray. But it occurs to me that black and white are sometimes harsh colors; gray is soft. I think of Lent being the "gray" season -- I know that the official liturgical color is purple, but I think gray suits me better. Gray is the color of the ashes. I can't believe Ash Wednesday is next week! Time to prepare for Lent. The traditional thing is to "give something up" for Lent. I'm thinking rather of "taking something on" instead. What? I don't know yet. I'm thinking.