Monday, May 30, 2005

Two Words

Thank you.

I'm taking a break for a couple of days -- catch you on the flip side.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Four Years Ago

Four years ago today, at 4:15, I received the phone call that I was needed at the hospital where my mother was a patient. By the time I arrived, she had been dead for 20 minutes. I wrote this piece a few months later -- please comment today. If you are a lurker, de-lurk. I honestly would appreciate some feedback today (and am not afraid to beg for it!) Thanks.

This past Sunday, the lectionary was in John. Phil taught a good, comfortable sermon. I had already had an exciting day -- an early start, a stalled car, a small fender bender, singing a solo at the offertory. I was looking forward to an interesting, comfortable sermon. Phil chose to teach about Nicodemus. I identify with Nicodemus. I too come to Jesus under the cover of night. I too do not ask the questions that burn within me, but ask obliquely, skirting around the issues. Jesus’ words in John 3:16 are salve on my soul. It is the first verse that I memorized as a child and the first verse I taught my children. Phil went on to talk about the growth of Nicodemus in Chapter 7 and the last time we hear of Nicodemus in Chapter 19: 38 - 42. Phil read:

... Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. ...

Phil turned to the congregation and asked ‘Have any of you ever prepared a body for burial?’ I raised my hand slightly remembering the day I did Polly’s makeup and lipstick, because the funeral home didn’t do it correctly. I remember straightening my grandmother’s scarf around her neck as she laid in her casket and powdering her nose like she liked it. I recalled combing my father’s hair and tucking his favorite drumsticks in his hands and a picture of the children in his pocket.

Then it struck me in the solar plexus like a blow -- I was struck at the root of my being. A scab was torn away that had been growing for several months and I gave an audible gasp.

Myrrh and aloes. My God, my God how can I bear it?

Her last week was also the last week of school. Monday and Tuesday, I was busy with getting things done for the end of school. I spent some time with her that last week, not much. On Wednesday, I was busy with embroidering bags for the teachers at the school. Thursday I took her to the hospital for her operation. We were running late. I dropped her off at the front of the hospital, parked the car and didn’t catch up with her until right before she went into the operating room. She was excited about the surgery and was looking forward to having more mobility. She didn’t ‘want to be a burden.’ When they took her off to surgery she said ‘Yippee!’

I meet Father Doug in the waiting room of the hospital and we talked about all sorts of things. About cameras and church, genealogy and theology. There were other people in the waiting room as well and I made small chit-chat. I was a little anxious but buried my anxiety with talking. Dr. Greenwood came in and told me that the operation went well. I remember his hair being damp with sweat from the cap he wore during the operation. I showed him my pictures of the kids and he pulled out his wallet and showed me pictures of his. In a little while, I was told what room Mama was in and I went on up.

She was not doing well. Her leg was bound to the continuous passive motion machine and her arm in an IV with an on demand morphine pump. She was groggy and disoriented. The pulse/ox machine kept going off like a klaxon. I was depressed and felt alone. I wanted Bill, but he was in California. I sat in that damned chair and worried. The klaxon would sound and I would tell my Mama to breathe. This just seemed to go on and on. I left only after it seemed that she was breathing better. I came home, ate and took a nap and went back after just a few hours. She drifted in and out of sleep. The program we were watching was about a plane – ‘Stardust’ -- that was lost in the Andes over 50 years ago and now is emerging from a glacier. The narrator made a comment about how one minute they were relaxed having cocktails and the next they were dead. Mama made a casual comment about how easy that would be instead of suffering. I left her sleeping -- I was worried but I thought that we had reached the end of the bad spell.

Saturday Bill got home very very early. I was tired but I hustled around getting ready for Lauren’s birthday party. I remember Mama being there when Lauren was born and how depressed she was. She had no light in her soul. She was vacant and empty and lost. I remember finding her on the floor of her living room, sobbing and sobbing about losing my father. Since 1996, the year from hell, my Mama’s light had been rekindled. She was learning to live. She was looking forward to the summer. She was happy and content.

We got all the things ready for the Birthday party. We went to Pottery Bayou and all the kids painted little animals, we sang songs, we ate the cake, we opened the presents, we went home. I was tired. Amy was at the party, as was Joshua. She was tired and looked it. By this time, we both needed a break. Sunday, the 27th -- I can’t even remember if we went to church. I wanted to stay at home in the afternoon but we went to see ‘God’s Man in Texas’ that afternoon. Later that evening we went to the hospital. It was a good visit. She looked better. She loved on her grandchildren, kissing and hugging. I brushed her hair and washed her face with some cool water. She complained about her dry skin on her arms and legs. I got some aloe out of my backpack and smoothed a thick layer on her skin. I rubbed it on her face and let it soak in for a while. Then I spread a layer of the frankincense and myrrh lotion I had made for Christmas on top of the aloes. There was a lot of gold glitter in the lotion -- her skin sparkled in the light.

We talked about the year from hell -- 1996. My mother taught me to see the good that intermingled with the bad. Her life verse was Romans 8:28 ‘For all things work for good for those that love the Lord....’ My mother and I counted the blessing that arose from the adversities that we encountered in that year from hell. She taught me this. We talked that night about me going back to school -- to seminary. We discussed what a call from God could be and what it could mean. I kissed her good night and left for home.

We received the call at 4:15 am.

I rushed to get dressed and to the hospital. I ran all the red lights I could, except for the one in front of the Lawrenceville police station. I put my head on my steering wheel and cried and prayed. I prayed the bargaining kind of prayers. Oh God, not this! Not now!! I looked over down a side street and saw First Baptist’s steeple bathed in the light of a floodlight. I picked up my head and continued to drive to the hospital.

It was too late when I got there. Her flesh was still warm. There were gold sparkles on her skin and the odor of frankincense and myrrh in the air.

Aloes and myrrh. Myrrh and aloes. My God, my God how can I bear it? Just like Nicodemus had with Jesus, I prepared her for death.

Father Doug had his stole and oil and anointed her, but she had already been anointed.

The next few hours were a blur and the scab began to form.

It has been 3 days since the scab was ripped away from the wound and I am healing again. It is ripped away again and again and I know eventually the scar tissue will form. I take it one day at a time and remember the words that Jesus spoke to Mary and Martha before Lazarus was raised:

"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."
I say, ‘Lord if you had been here, my mother would not have died.’

Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."
Jesus tells me, ‘Your mother will rise again.’

Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
I say, ‘My God, My God. Aloes and myrrh!’

Jesus said to her
Jesus says to me
Jesus says to us, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

Oh God, I do believe but help me in my unbelief!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Begging is occuring....

Chaos and Entropy want to go to the annual Duct Tape Festival. Actually, it kinda appeals to me as well. I think they will stick to their guns about this. They want to tap(e) into the full potential of this festival --

Hat tip to Xpatirated Texan's Riding Herd on the Blogosphere.

Grace, Grace, God's Grace

When I prepared to go in front of the Board, I was asked an interesting question. I was asked to look out the window and find a person. Then the interviewer said “Tell me about that person, theologically.” I thought for a moment and I said, “This is a beloved child of God, made in the image of God. That image is sullied by sin and the cares of this world, but God still sees it and we should honor it. God has surrounded that person by His prevenient grace so that she hopefully will eventually know of that grace personally and crave to live a life modeled after Christ. It’s our job to help her experience that grace and find her way to Christ.” And I really do believe this.

I found out later there are two different types of answers – mine and the alternate answer “I see a sinner in desperate need of the redemptive power found in the blood of Christ. She needs to have Jesus shared with her and accept Jesus into her heart.”

It really is two different views – intertwined sometimes, and not really distinct from each other, but different and equally valid. One is a doctrine of total depravity and the other is the doctrine of Imago Dei. Both affirm the centrality of Christ, both affirm discipleship and modeling our lives after Christ. To me this has been a intellectual distinction, as I begin to explore this world theologically. (OK, the process has taken more than 20 years, maybe it’s “I continue to explore this world theologically.”)

I was sitting in a large cafeteria recently (within the last month) with a group of other pastors from my denomination. We were a rather quiet group. Suddenly the noise level went up several decibels – we were invaded by a youth group. The kids were exuberant – laughing, joking around, loud, enthusiastic, colorful and joyful. I looked at them and rejoiced at the work of God in their lives. Their mood was contagious. One group broke out in song spontaneously – some Michael W. Smith praise chorus. I could see them as beloved children of God, surrounded by a great cloud of witness, surrounded by God’s grace. I smiled to myself and hummed along.

I turned back to my group and the other three at my table had such sad expressions on their faces. One said, “Look at all those lost souls. It makes my heart heavy.” This comment brought me up short. Yes, I could understand that viewpoint, but it certainly was not the first thing I thought of. It does make my heart heavy sometimes when I think about children, especially my children drifting off the path, slipping down the wrong road, turning to the dark side. Yet my heart was heavier when I realized that these pastors were not rejoicing in the beauty of these children and not rejoicing in the work that God had already performed in their lives.

Maybe that is why we have such struggle with people who live lives that are different than ours. Why some can embrace Gay and Lesbian couples into their churches and some cannot. Why some can embrace women clergy and some cannot. It’s about our personal soteriology and how we view grace – and if we really believe if God’s grace is sufficient.

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured,
there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.
Grace, grace, God's grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God's grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin!

Found at Hymnsite.


from a camera, through which I could not see. Makes framing the shots very interesting.

Chaos holding the kitty.

The ktty's new spot. She hasn't moved in a week, except when we pick her up. Note the similarity between today and last Friday.


from a camera that I couldn't see through the viewfinder, because it was wonky. Even so, the camera took great pictures. I even could do lens tricks that the Dimage just won't do.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Dealing with Stuff

I’m a little angry right now. I bid on a camera on eBay – I’ve been wanting a Nikon D70 to replace my Nikon 8008 film camera and my Dimage digital. I’ve been shooting nothing but digital now for two years, it seemed a waste to have all those autofocus lenses just laying around….

And again, I typed a 9 instead of an 8 when I bid – my bad. But that’s OK. When the camera arrived, it was labeled “reconditioned.” That’s OK – I expected that. But the prism/viewfinder is skewed. Not OK. The viewfinder looks trapezoidal instead of rectangular. Definitely not OK. I called their customer service department. I want an exchange and was irritated that I can’t take this camera to Florida when I had planned in plenty of time. I offered to purchase another camera, pay the $10.00 for Saturday delivery if they would charge my card for another camera and then chargeback the price of the camera when they received the original camera. Instead, there was an elaborate bait-and-switch – somehow the salesperson wanted me to purchase a “pro-package” instead of this identical camera and it was going to cost me an additional $80.00. Plus shipping. It would have cost me maybe $130 all told.

Needless to say, I will not be returning to their website or eBay store for another purchase.

BTW, the Wesleyan Christian Advocate will be using one of my pictures on the front page for their next edition (June 2). Yeah! And I am going to carry my new camera to conference in a few weeks to take pictures for the paper. Yeah! It feels like it’s been so long since I had a real camera….. This kind of stuff drains my creative energy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Theology from the Back Seat

Driving my 13 year old nephew to school this morning.

Him: I’ve been thinking – why do creationist and evolutionists fight so much?
Me: What do you mean?
Him: Well, they both think that only they are right, but they can both be right, can’t they? I mean, they get so mean and nasty. How can a real Christian be that nasty?
Me: Yeah, it bothers me too that sometimes Christians get so nasty.
Him: Yeah, I mean, what happens to their witness? I wouldn’t want to listen to them!
Me: I wouldn’t either. So (opening the can of worms) what do you think about creationism and evolutionism?
Him: (thoughtfully) I really don’t know. I think God did it all, you know, but He used the tools he had. I mean, look at the crucifixion. God used humans to do it, right? Humans made the cross and the nails and the whips and humans put Jesus on the cross, right? But that doesn’t mean that God wasn’t there, somehow. He just used the tools that He had. And like, God used dirt to make Adam, right? He used what he had. And He used physics and gravity to help make the planets. Maybe God used that creation stuff because that was the tool He had. Does that make sense?
Me: (It took me over 30 years to get that – wow.) Yeah, that makes sense.
Him: But you know what bothers me?
Me: What.
Him: I can’t prove that God exists.
Me: (You and me and 2000 or more years of theologians, kid.) Yeah, that bothers me too, but you know what?
Him: What.
Me: What are the kinds of things you can prove?
Him: Well, like science stuff and math stuff.
Me: You’re doing some Geometry, right?
Him: Yeah.
Me: And you can prove, without a shadow of a doubt that a triangle’s angles add up to 180 degrees.
Him: Yeah.
Me: And the base angles or an Isosceles triangle are the same measure? And that the two acute angles of a right triangle add up to be 90 degrees? And lots of other stuff?
Him: Yeah.
Me: Well, think about your Mama. She learned all that too – does she still think about that? Or did she close the book and put it on a shelf and let dust collect on it? Don’t you think a lot of people do that with stuff they can prove? Did you know that there are things in Geometry we can’t prove?
Him: Yeah, like that squaring the circle problem the Euclid found.
Me: Exactly. And did people close the book on that? Or are they still working on it and worrying with it and puzzling over it and thinking about it?
Him: (Eyes getting big in the rear-view mirror) Who-o-o-oa. (Long Pause)
Him: Maybe God doesn’t want us to be able to prove that He exists. Maybe if we did, we could close the book and put it on the shelf and never ever have to think about God again. Whoa. (I roll to a stop and he gets out.)
Me; Exactly. Love you. Have a good day.
Him: Whoa. (Getting bag and walking away. Then he turns and says) Hey, Thanks!
Me: (to myself, as I drive away.) Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Buddy Jesus

Susan Rose
and Mark have made their own Buddy Jesus. So here's mine, complete with halo and communion elements.

Notice they each have the same beard, all three have different hair, mine is in white, Mark's in everyday garb, and Susan Rose's a nice period costume. Mine and Mark's have a halo (denoting a high Christology?) and lighter skin. Mark portrays Jesus next to himself, Susan Rose portrays Jesus at the Sea of Galilee and I show Him at the Last Supper (but of course!)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Another Rule to add to my list of rules/things I have learned.

You can control what you say. But you cannot control what people hear and to whom or how they repeat it. They will add their own agenda or garbage.

Conversation in Living Room folding Laundry

Chaos: Mama – why do some Mamas only clean house?
Me: Only clean house?
Chaos: Yeah and feed kids food. (long pause) Mama, I think God is a woman.
Me: Why?
Chaos: Cause it’s easier to see God as more loving, caring and wise and stuff. (Huh, did she hear me talking or something?)
And men are only thinking about sports and beer and stuff and how much money they are going to make. And women are more complex because they think about more sides of stuff. But that’s only jocks, nerds think about computers all the time and ham radio. And that’s all they talk about at the supper table.
Me: You mean like your Daddy?
Chaos: Daddy thinks about how much money he’s going to make and computers and math and airplanes. But then again, you Mama only think about God and exegesis and big French words I don’t understand. Oh yeah, and writing papers and the kitty and blogging. (Theology is "big French words?")
Me: Huh. (I wonder if her Daddy was a minister, would she see God as male?)
Chaos: Maybe God is like a worm – he’s like both a male and a female, at the same time. Or maybe He doesn’t have a body – he’s like a ghost. (God the Ghostly Worm. Well that's one name I didn't come up with.) We were talking about how Jesus was like God and he rose from the dead and you know how the Muslim people like worship another person, but he died and he stayed dead. That was Muhammed, right? Does that mean he was just a really good prophet? He wasn’t God, like God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost.
Me: So what about God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost?
Chaos: Oh, that’s easy, He’s just multi-tasking. (All those years of debate, all that History of Christian Thought: Of course, God's just multi-tasking! Beautiful!)
Me: Huh. So Daddy doesn’t think about God?
Chaos: I don’t know. Yeah, but he’s just not so *obvious* like you.
Entropy: (Slow on the uptake) Hey, God is a man!
Me: Why is he a man?
Entropy: I don't know, He just is. Mama! The kitty is licking the fireplace! Silly, Silly, Silly, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty! (song of own composing)
Me: (fetching cat out of fireplace)
Chaos: Woman!
Entropy: Man!
Chaos: Woman!
Entropy: Man!
And so on.

Now *this* is more like it.

An Idealist. Yes. That's more like it. Without us Idealists, how would we know where we are going? Much better.

You scored as Idealist. Idealism centers around the belief that we are moving towards something greater. An odd mix of evolutionist and spiritualist, you see the divine within ourselves, waiting to emerge over time. Many religious traditions express how the divine spirit lost its identity, thus creating our world of turmoil, but in time it will find itself and all things will again become one.



Cultural Creative














What is Your World View? (corrected...again)
created with

(BTW, I *hate* non-standard HTML. Hate, hate, hate. (I've had to diddle with this three times now) (of course I say this because I have an idealistic view of the Web -- everyone should comply to the standards (even if they don't like them)))

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Oh My!

I don't read my religious news feeds for a few days and I almost missed it -- Benny Hinn is upset that 4 million dollars is "wasted" and leaves Nigeria annoyed. He just didn't get enough converts or healings, I guess. I understand from the news feeds that he kept saying "4 million down the drain!" during the crusade. 3 million was spent on food and lodging -- Wow! Food and lodging for whom? For Hinn and his "infrastructure." At least the local economy was boosted. But it causes me to wonder -- How far would 4 million dollars go in feeding *the hungry* in this large country?

reference here.

::You will be assimilated::

Is it futile to hope for change? or Is resistance to change futile?

A quote:
The two men stood elbow to elbow with a single focus on the operating table-two men who could not share the same lunch table in the Hopkins cafeteria.

This is a line from a documentary about the Blalock/Taussig Shunt: about blue babies, discrimination and three dedicated people: Dr. Alfred Blalock, A white privileged brilliant surgeon and Dr. Vivien Thomas, his black high-school educated assistant, and Dr. Helen Taussig, a near deaf woman. These three dedicated pioneers deveolped modern heart surgery procedures. The movie “Something the Lord Made” produced by HBO films has to be one of the most intriguing and moving movies I have seen for a while.

A young black man goes to work for a disillusioned young white surgeon, -- a surgeon who did not get the residency he wanted and who had a brush with death in 1929. In the year the movie opens, 1930, the world was in chaos – the banks failing and jobs hard to come by. Vivien Thomas’ hopes are crushed before they have even chance to flower. He takes a position at Vanderbilt University’s Medical School and become the assistant of Dr. Alfred Blalock. He never obtains a degree – or the recognition he deserves. After many years of discrimination, he leaves to sell antacids to black doctors. He comes to an epiphany – he could do the work he loves and receive no credit or be denied the satisfaction of doing useful, meaningful work. He goes back to work for Dr. Blalock knowing that he would never be a surgeon himself – at least not for humans.

The movie resonated with me. I understand those complex emotions. Funny I should see this movie the week I have these same emotions swirling around in me. These little blue babies would not have been offered any relief without all three of these players around the table – the bitter white man, the black man who could not even enter the front door of Johns Hopkins and the deaf white woman. It took all three to fix a broken heart. Without all three, these damaged hearts, which typically were too “two sizes too small,” received an opportunity to grow – which offered an opportunity for the entire body to grow. It took all three to offer life.

There are persons who gather around the table today. Some are broken people themselves. Some will never have their recognition; some will never themselves be heard. But it takes us all to bring the body to growth. And there is grace to be found in that.

To quote and article in The Dome from Johns Hopkin, said by Andrea Kalin, the author of the PBS special “Partners of the Heart”
I could see Vivien over Blalock's shoulder, the two in a rhythm no one else could follow, in sync with an almost unwritten code. I wanted to describe and show this partnership-without dictating it. Still, the irony of the day just slaps you in the face. Vivien knew he played a valuable role. Was he bitter? No. Was there pain, was there disappointment? Yes.

I suppose the task is to not become bitter. Yes, women have been in the ministry for 50 years. Yes, we have come a long way. Is the treatment of women in the UMC always fair? Will it ever be completely, across the board fair? I don’t know. Is resistance futile? Will change, true change, come?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

This and That

First, I would like to welcome my good friend Dave to the Blogosphere. He has some reflections on that movie everyone is talking about. The Loving Husband and I are going to wait a while to see it. Sleep seemed more important somehow this week...

It actually started me thinking about the Trinity thing again ("Luke, I am your Father.") The names "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" do have something that "Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer" don't have -- the familial relationship. It's an intimacy that just isn't there when you reduce it to their "job titles." The trinity thing just isn't easy. It's easy to reduce it to the statement that my Christian Thought prof did -- "It's a mystery" but to do that without examination and sitting in tension for a while seems like the easy way out.

And if the names in the trinity are a statment about relationship, even called the first person in the trinity "Father" is limiting -- saying that the parental role can be reduced to a single dad. Being a mother and being very close to my mother, I do really relate to a parent that nurtures -- and that role would be left out in this title.

It was Entropy's birthday yesterday, but Chaos went off to camp last night. We will have to celebrate as a family later. She wants an entirely different (another) cake. And a cake for her class on Tuesday. That will be a total of 3 cakes. A trinity.

And does anyone know of a good debugger for Javascript for the Macintosh? I am getting so very frustrated with checking my code one letter, one phrase at a time for error. I have a Collect 'Bot in the works that should give better results than the Prayer 'Bot, but am having a dickens of a time debugging the silly thing.

The emergent convention is winding down (and the kids tell me my garb is decidedly 'emo' more than half the time), the Festival of Homelitics is over, and my real live senior pastor is worshipping with Real Live Preacher tomorrow and having lunch. I am feeling a twinge of that green thing called jealousy. It's that "left out" thing again that I struggle with. Sigh. I think that I will drink a little coffe and have a pity party for myself before I get to do those exciting things on *my* agenda -- take the girly to karate, go get the recall on my car taken care of, laundry, dishes, vacuuming and general housework.

I did go get new widgets and thing-a-ma-bobs this week. I got a keychain hot spot detector, so I can tell where there is wifi, a jumpdrive, a new flash card for the keychain, a miniSVGA to SVideo dongle, a power inverter for the car (so I can plug in any household appliance that doesn't draw too much current (like the laptop)) and widgets to plug my iPod into my cassette deck in the car. Ah, the delights of shopping. =o)

I may have more later....

Friday, May 20, 2005

Friday Catblogging

Here's a picture of Little Kitty where she does an impersonation of a seat cushion. She does it well, does she not?

Walter Wink

Songbird reminded me of an article I knew I had seen -- it's by Walter Wink and you can find it here. It's a different way of seeing some of the sayings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

To quote:
"Something seems terribly wrong here. Turn the other cheek sounds like supine cowardice, the refusal to confront someone who is doing evil. It’s being a doormat for Jesus. It strikes many as suicidal, as an invitation to let someone wipe up the floor with us. Battered women have all too often been told by their pastors that the Bible requires them to turn the other cheek when they are being pulverized by their husbands or lovers."

A very interesting article.

I think I realized that there was something else going on in the passage about "Turn the other cheek" when I did an imaginative "blocking" of the text (blocking is something actors do to a scene -- it's a diagram where they would stand and move). The full text reads "But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." For most people to strike you on the right cheek, they must use the back of their hand -- the way a master would hit a slave or an oppressed person. To turn the other cheek is to invite that person to strike you as an equal. This passage is not about becoming more passive -- but a challenge to the system.

To combine all this with my thoughts about Trinity Sunday -- I don't think I can say "Father, Son and Holy Ghost" ever again without thinking about these issues. I make a real effort to use "Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer" instead (ignoring my Loving Husband's suggestion "the Old Woman, the Dude and the Spook" which he points out is balanced.....)

What other names have you used for the Trinity?

Midnight Musings.

Rob from unspace writes in my comments (first quoting me)
"I was privy to a conversation a while back where an abused woman had been told by her pastor "well, you just need to submit to your husband..." !!!! What!!!!"

. .
. . .
. . . .

Aaaaaarrrgh! How can any person say that?

I would love to take that person to the morgue for an autopsy on an abused spouse. I'd love to have that person in the back of an ambulance to watch as medics attempt to salvage an abused person's life.

What would this person say to an abused 2 year old? "You have to submit to your parents?"

Why would they say that?

The conversation happened at a homeless shelter -- the woman eventually scraped up enough courage to leave, but not without encountering some really bad moments.

It's considered "biblical" to teach this. It's proof-texting at its worse. Things like "Blessed are the peacemakers and those who suffer for righteousness sake"; "it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body goes to hell"; "love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you"; and "do not resist evil" from the sermon on the Mount read with the Pauline epistles -- the last part of Ephesians, the household codes, for instance Col 3:18 "wives, submit yourself to your husband" or Eph 5:22 which says the same.

By doing this, if the woman is beaten, she can take comfort that she is "suffering for Christ." She usually will blame herself for her own abuse. She may feel guilty about even thinking that her abuse is bad. She will feel that if she leaves her husband, she is not being a good wife and has violated her marriage vows -- "for better or for worse." She may leave Christianity, rejecting the Church and its teachings.

This type of reading of the scripture is given more often that we might consider. It also neglects the verse Col 3:19 where the mutuality of the relationship is given stress.

Another thing to consider: abuse takes on many faces. Physical and sexual abuse is very visable in our society, but other types of abuse exist. Some suggest that the self-abuse of women trying to obtain the "perfect" body and the dysfunctional body image that results is a product of an abuse -- we see a transformation from "I-thou" relationships into "I-it" relationships. A woman's posture and body language is restricted. Girls are not allowed to place their bodies in natural postures - "ladies don't sit on the floor" "Ladies don't hold their books that way" -- this a sort of abuse. The way our society demands that "girls don't fight" cause the "mean girl" problem. (I think that boys in those middle school years can take our their aggressions in a physical manner, but girls are not allowed to fight. Hence they use what tools are left -- usually their tongue and their placement in their small groups.) The way society requires woman to adorn their body to be considered beautiful. All this is done, they say, voluntarily. Yes, but we do it at what cost?

Likewise, men are forced into roles by society -- forced to play the games, to act in certain manners, to even think in certain ways in order to "get ahead." They play the rules set up by the good ole boy network in order to gain status and position. Yet a man will have certain freedoms that a woman will not have. And we ask ourselves, are these strictures placed on women intrinsic or imposed? If a woman does not conform to the societal norms of beauty, posture and attitude, affirmation is withdrawn from her -- perhaps even love from her fellows (including women). She becomes a social outcast.

A quote (I don't remember the entire citing -- I am bad a keeping citations) from Susan Hagood Lee, ‘Witness to Christ, Witness to Pain: One Woman’s Journey through Wife Battering’, from the book Sermons Seldom Heard.

From my earliest years, I was a faithful churchgoer, enjoying the religious ambience, awed by the loving and all-powerful God that I believed watched over me. Then I married a man who, once the wedding ring was safely on my finger, began to abuse me. The crisis was both personal and religious. Where was God, when one month after our wedding, my husband first blackened my eyes, . . . when he punched me in the stomach when I was pregnant, . . . when he broke my nose because I wanted to see my family? And what did God expect of me, a wife, who had vowed at the altar to love and cherish my husband through good times and bad?

My course of action seemed clear. God’s will, as the Bible instructed, was that I stay with my husband, forgiving him, when he hurt me, countering his evil behaviour with my love, cooperating with God’s plan of salvation for him. (pages 11 - 15)

Another good article is from Susan Thistlethwaite called "Every Two Minutes." And Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza wrote a few articles.

Well, that was long.

There are other like musings today on the web:
rhymes with kerouac had an interesting posting about two women looking for shelter -- I wondered what they had been through.
Fish has had violence hitting too close to home today.
From the Morning has posted recently (but must have been a while ago) about the abuse problem from a Christian man's perspective.
And Anj's posting really resonated.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Eye Meme

Without eye makeup or skinny glasses. It was hard to get the camera to focus.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Prayer Bot

Version 1 is finished.
Try it out here.
I'll jazz up the html later -- to get a new prayer, refresh the screen. Sometimes the results are amusing.
Please let me know what you think.

OK, sometimes really amusing. I just got this one:

Blissful and Unearthly Yahweh, who restores our true nature - Shake On and Thumbs up our witness of faith in this world so that we may extol You forever my God and King and acknowledge you to be the Lord. In the name of Your Son, who is our Theistic Father and Mother of us all. Amen.

Blissful and Unearthly Yahweh??
Theistic Father and Mother of us all??
Shake on and thumbs up??
And it's a little run-on.

James Cone was right

James Cone was right. (Well, I think it was James Cone. It wasn't Cornel West, to whom race matters.) I am now convinced that God is a big, overweight, middle-aged black woman and boy is she mad.

Several things have aided me in developing this opinion. I heard an interesting sermon at my progressive, liberal school in which the speaker did a very bad (but traditional) reading of Genesis 2. The exegesis was so very upsetting to me that for the first time, I almost got up and left the room. No one else felt the way I did -- but I was the only middle aged woman in the group. Had the speaker done the same type of traditional readings on some of the household codes in Paul's writing, he would have been blasted by the African Americans in the group. However, my point was not even understood to be a point. The reading is so ingrained in our society.

Second, I attended a conference recently in which a participant prayed using the phrase "Father God" repeatedly. He tsked, prayed "Father God we just...." and then a petition then a tsk then "Father God we just..." and so on and so on about a hundred times (slight exaggeration there). After the third repetition, I realize how a person who was abused by their father would feel by that repeated use of the phrase.

Third, I was privy to a conversation a while back where an abused woman had been told by her pastor "well, you just need to submit to your husband..." !!!! What!!!!

Then this last week, I witnessed the Good-Old-Boy network at work. It is disheartening. (Because this is not an anonymous blog, I can't blog about it.) And now I know that God is a big, overweight middle-aged black woman. And she is mad. She's got sparks flying from her eyes and she's a mama coming to look after her children. Watch out.

Here's something She's mad about.
And another.
And another.
And another.
And another.

Chaos and Entropy

The kids wanted their pictures a la South Park. So here they are, Chaos and Entropy.

I really have ramped down from a month ago. It's still a retreat kind of time. The girls will be in school until next Wednesday and so I am setting my own agenda. I am having a hard time thinking difficult thoughts. It's like I have thought all I can think for a while and my brain is on vacation.

I did start facilitating a new class on prayer on Monday night. (I know, I end two really long and difficult Disciple classes and what do I do? I start a new class!) It's amazing to me that I am considered a "prayer expert" when I feel so far from that. I have spent a lot of time thinking about prayer and I try to spend time in prayer every day, but does that make me an expert? It just seems to point out to me what I don't know -- I talk convincingly about types of prayers and prayer time and journaling and I do some of these, but I begin to think that with all the reading, study and contemplation I have done, I haven't even begun to scratch the surface about "Prayer."

I realized that I use the same phrases and thoughts over and over, to the point that they become rote. I try to read the Lectionary texts a couple of weeks in advance and write a prayer based on what is revealed to me in those lections and then try to pray that prayer for a week. I also began to collect bits of collects. I am keeping a spreadsheet with these bits and pieces and am writing a "CollectBot" or "PrayerBot." By placing these bits and pieces in new configurations, the prayers seem to be fresh and new -- and not as rote. Of course, sometimes they are a bit silly or disconcerting, but maybe there is value in that as well. Off to finish my 'Bot.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Me and the Loving Husband

Me, my skinny glasses, my cross and iPod. The LH with his microphone and earphones for listening to his ham radio. Are we beautiful?

hattip to Sara from Going Jesus

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Cultural Creative

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

What is Your World View?
created with

Dear Emergent

Hey, St.Phransus, Emergent emergent emergent
or rather,
• The rainforest layer that includes the tops of the tallest trees.
• An aquatic plant having most of its vegetative parts above water. Also, a tree which reaches or exceeds the level of the surrounding canopy.
• as in an emergent property: one which cannot be observed locally in the subsystems, but only as a global structure or dynamic. We limit the usage to an emergent property or structure and not as an emergent system.
• macrophytes grow on water-saturated or submersed soils from where the water table is about 0.5m below the soil surface (supralittoral) to where the sediment is covered with approximately 1.5m of water (upper littoral).
• a type of plant rooted in shallow water but supporting stems and leaves that reach and grow up out of the water; cattails and arrowhead are emergent plants.
• Refers to a property of a collection of simple subunits that comes about through the interactions of the subunits and is not a property of any single subunit. For example, the organization of an ant colony is said to "emerge" from the interactions of the lower-level behaviours of the ant, and not from any single ant. Usually, the emergent behaviour is unanticipated and cannot be directly deduced from the lower-level behaviours. COMPLEX SYSTEMS are usually emergent.
• living things which exist in two layers of an ecosystem, such as sedges, grasses, and other vegetation which emerges from the water
• coming into existence; "a nascent republic"
• Emergence is the process of deriving some new and coherent structures, patterns and properties in a complex system. Emergent phenomena occur due to the pattern of interactions between the elements of a system over time. Emergent phenomena are often unexpected, nontrivial results of relatively simple interactions of relatively simple components.

Jonathon, are you ready for unexpected, nontrivial results??

(John, cool posting. Made me giggle.)
And I wish I could go. Sigh. Post early and often.

Lunch with Zan Holmes

A great day -- two sermons from Zan Holmes. Here's a picture from lunch with myself, Zan Holmes and my Disciple crew -- not very flattering of me but at least I didn't have anything in my mouth -- it was just moving.....

He'll be at the Festival of Homelitics tomorrow in Chicago -- if you have a chance, he'll be preaching.


I'm excited today because I am going to Haygood Memorial UMC in downtown Atlanta to attend worship and listen to Dr. Zan Holmes preach. He's a person I admire -- his preaching skills are legendary. After worship, then lunch, then a few more hours listening to Dr. Holmes and the band "Wild at Heart." Woo Hoo! I'll let you know what he preaches about (hmm... should I grade him with my little form? Why not? His and others like him are the standard.)

Friday, May 13, 2005

Boogle Glog

I have started today (with the encouragement of my eldest) the new Boogle Glog which is intended to celebrate Slerbal Vips. Hopefully, it will be a place of random silliness, especially the tips of the slunge that we make in the pulpit. If you wish to join team Boogle Glog, drop me an email at with your information.

The worse I have ever uttered was *supposed* to be the word Bishopric -- it came out Bishop's prick. Bad, bad, bad.

I'm having problems

With where I usually host my pictures.... So I am trying Snapfish.
Here's a picture of the Kitty post-baptism. Or rather, baptisms. Plural.

Did it work?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

I just got outbid

on Ebay. Thank you God.

I want a new camera -- I placed a bid on a camera, but put a "9" instead of an "8" and didn't notice it until just now. Bad eyes, late night. I didn't notice it until I got outbid. And now I have been outbid with less than 10 minutes to go. And the people of God said "Amen."

BTW, do any of you use a digital camera? I have a Minolta Dimage that I really like, but I am itching to use my Nikon lenses. I used a Canon this weekend and got some glorious shots because I could do little lens tricks. (like this and this (notice the fuzziness of the background). I miss the flexability of my film camera -- especially being able to stop up or stop down and being able to push or pull the film -- much less shorten or lengthen the field with the lens. I miss it and I just can't do it with my current digital camera. I also miss being able to put a flash off to the side. I really want this but I can't afford it (like, who can???) Or even this. But this would be just really awesome.

I have some money put aside, but for some reason keep hesitating to buy it. Maybe it's my inner brat crying out "I want it NOW" that's causing me to hesitate.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Healing Service

Dearest Lord, Creator and Giver of all things,
look upon us tonight as we gather together.
With all our heart, we take refuge in You, who are God most high.
With all our heart, we take refuge in Christ,
our redeemer from our sin,
who restores our true nature with His perfect and mysterious Word.
With all our heart, we take refuge in the One
who embraces our universe, who responds with
steadfast love in all places and at all times,
who hears the cries of our hearts.

We have come from afar and some have waited long and are weary. Let us sit side by side and share of Your living Bread, Your living water. The bread that will still our hunger and the water that will quench our thirst. We sit together in stillness and share of Your Spirit that draws us together in unity and peace.

Dearest Lord, touch us tonight and give us Your blessing.
Touch our brows, touch our heads, touch our hearts and
do not look upon us in anger.
Offer us mercy in our affliction,
offer us kindness in our suffering,
offer us light in our darkness
offer us courage in our fear,
offer us our true face when we are ashamed,
offer us peace when our spirits will not be still.

Lord, sanctify our lives, renew our worship, empower our witness, restore our unity, remove from us all pride, heal our bodies, heal our spirits, heal the divisions which separate Your children and bring us to unity in Your Spirit and in Your peace.

Tonight we had a healing service. I prayed this prayer at the beginning of the service. I jotted it down earlier today without knowing the content of the service – the scripture and the sermon. But it fit exactly right. It’s humbling to realize the depth of the movement of the Spirit. I realize over and over that there is so much I don’t understand – and that I never will.

There weren’t many people there – only about 30, but it was a moving experience. I never really anticipate my reaction to this type of service. We light candles, we sing simple hymns, we have a responsive reading, a sermon, Communion and then anoint with oil and laying on of hands. The church is getting so large that I don’t know all our congregants. However, once you have prayed with a person that intensely and laid on hands in that manner, not only can I feel the palpable presence of God -- I have entered into a new phase of relationship. There is an intimacy and vulnerability that is beyond my ken. When we gather around a person and lay on hands, and speak prayers, there are connections made and the relationship I had with that person is transformed.

I realized tonight that my black robe with the full sleeves look something like wings and when I place my hands on either side of a person’s head and drop my forehead to touch theirs, my posture is rather like a hawk ‘mantling’ – a hawk protecting her young or guarding her food. And when I close my eyes, I can sense the presence of God mantling me – protecting me and guarding me, enfolding me and letting me dwell in the Spirit. So, Matt, I think I’ll keep the robe.

Here is a picture I took on Monday of a Female Harris Hawk mantling.

Devils and Dust

Now every woman and every man
They want to take a righteous stand
Find the love that God wills
And the faith that He commands
I've got my finger on the trigger
And tonight faith just ain't enough
When I look inside my heart
There's just devils and dust

I got God on my side
I'm just trying to survive
What if what you do to survive
Kills the things you love
Fear's a powerful thing
It can turn your heart black you can trust
It'll take your God filled soul
And fill it with devils and dust

What are the things that we do to survive? So many of them really do turn our heart black. Senior Pastor will be be preaching on Pentecost this Sunday, to no small surprise, but with a twist -- He's using a hermenutic of taking our "I can't" and saying that with the Spirit I can't, but the Spirit will. So often our attempts will fail. Even the the best of all possible worlds, words are mistaken, feelings hurt, our selfish (read human) nature will emerge. The Spirit will cleanse and polish away all the grime.

BTW, I am enjoying my new CD....

For Saint Casserole

I have been practicing Saint Casserole's favorite therapy. Here's the picture. There is nothing like reclaiming something from tarnish and decay....

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Prayers of the People for Pentecost

This is one of my first pastoral prayers, written many years ago. It's not as good as I remembered, but I also remember my earnestness and anxiety as a fresh young "minister" delivering this prayer.

I don't remember if I borrowed anything from anyone -- I don't think so. But if I did and if you recoginze a phrase as yours, please let me know and I will give credit where credit is due.

Almighty God, Creator of all things,
For fifty days have we celebrated the fullness of the mystery of your revealed love.
See your people gather in prayer, open to receive the Spirit's flame.
Speak through us, O Lord,
that others may listen,
and the very nature of the world be changed.
Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer.

Yahweh, Center us in your love
that our work might be for justice.
Lift the weariness of this life so,
that we may rise and dance, dance again to your great song of life.
Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer

Lord of Life and Love,
Fill us with your life-giving breath, your Ruah so that we may feel
the fire of your Spirit deep inside our chests,
its warmth diffusing throughout our whole being;
strengthen our faith that we might abide in your presence, to do your work,
comforting us and sustaining us when that work is hard, and lonely, and long.
Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer

Adonai, Fill our voices with your heavenly song, Let your beauty shine forth.
Let your holy fire shine forth from these eyes of ours,
that we might enlighten the darkness of these times,
and glimpse the birth of your new creation,
Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer

Jesus our Messiah, See your people gather in prayer, open to receive the Spirit's flame.
May it come to rest in our hearts and disperse the divisions of word and tongue.
With one voice and one song may we praise your name in joy and thanksgiving.
Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer

And burn, Spirit, with your fire,
burn away the little idols we’ve made in our own image,
those things we’ve looked to for security, for peace, for happiness.
Burn a clear path for our repentance,
that no obstacles might stand in the way of our embracing the truth of the good news for our lives and for the world.
Then we can rejoice and worship and dance in the joy of the truth, and then, too, will the world see in us a more faithful and compelling witness.
Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer

Spirit of the living God, fall on me;
Spirit of the living God, move me;
Spirit of the living God, fill me;
Spirit of the living God, seal me.
Spirit of the living God, consecrate me to do your will,
Spirit of the living God,create in me a soul burning with Your endless Love and
Seal my soul as Your own, that Your reflection in me may be a light for all to see.

All of this we pray, in the name of the Son, who, with the Father, sent You, our comforter, the Spirit of Holy Adoption, into our hearts that we might truly pray, -- Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name...

My First True Hate Mail

Or hate comment -- and meant to be such.

I have received mysterious comments before, but usually the hurt and sting of them was unintentional. Email and comments can be misread very, very easily. I usually assume that the person who posted it was another beloved child of God and was made, like I, in the image of God (Imago Dei) and that a hazy reflection of God can be seen in that person. And that to dishonor that person would be, in some small way to dishonor that image of God. Yeah, I'm really idealistic.

I know there are times I am to call people to accountability -- but I try to do a call to accountability in love, not in harshness.

So when a person intentionally means harm or hurt to another, it really confuses and bemuses me. It makes me really sad. Well today I received an email from Haloscan that read:

"It means the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church will continue to teach the truth and heretics such as yourself will be disappointed." Signed by one Andy, with no email or homepage.

I had to search my blog to find the posting that he posted on and it was a rather reflective one about the new Pope. It was not a stinging rebuke or a condemnation -- I was just wondering what this Pope will mean for this hurting and broken world.... The original posting is here. Is this posting so easily misread?

I guess what shocks me is the ease that "Andy" used the word "heresy." I confess the Nicean creed -- as does he, if he is a Catholic. I am rather Orthodox in my theology. The most radical part of me is my belief system is that I am not orthodox in being ordained as a woman. One of my best friends (who is very active and on staff at the local Catholic church) and I have talked long hours about this -- we both have realized that the role of woman in the ministry is different that the role of men. My position is much like an abbess in a 12th century monastery, with eucharistic privledges. This is something I am still thinking about -- not a fully developed thought, but in progress.

Heresy? I wonder that this world is so ready to consign so many of its member to the flames of hell....

(p.s. does anyone know how to find the original posting when Haloscan sends a mail like that and also does anyone know how to track down IP addresses??)

Sunday, May 08, 2005

A Big "I Forgot"

I'm going to have to blog tomorrow, or even Tuesday, as I had a Disciple closing yesterday, Church today and a big "oops" is on the schedule tomorrow. I forgot that I am supposed to chaperone the 5th grade field trip to the Butterfly Gardens -- 3 hours away. I have to be on the bus at 6:30 am and we will not be home until 6:15 pm. Me, my daughter and 175 fifth graders. What fun... whoopie.

I am wondering what else I have fogotten......


Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Theology from the Back Seat

Get a License

Entropy: Mama, mama, mama, did you know that you need a license to GO FISH!!! To go fish!!

Me: Yeah, baby. I knew that.

Entropy: Mama, mama, mama, did you know that Mr. Dave had to go get a license to PREACH?? Did you know that?

Me: Yeah, baby.

Entropy: And mama, mama, mama, did you know that you have to have a license to DRIVE?

Me: Yeah, baby, I have both a driver's license and a pilot’s license. Did you know you have to get a license to get married?

Entropy: (Very dramatic) NO WAY! Really, to get married? Do I have to get a license to pet on bunnies?

Chaos: Oh, that’s just silly.

Entropy: Petting bunnies is not silly!! (singing song of own composing) Bunnies are so funny, bunny, bunny, bunny, funny, funny, funny, yeah, yeah, yeah, Huh!

Chaos: (in a very thoughtful manner) Mama, when you and Mr. Dave and Mr. Phil baptize babies, is that a license you give the parents?

Me: No baby, it’s a certificate saying that the baby was baptized into the church and that we have promised to raise the baby up in the church and love that baby and teach the baby all about Jesus.

Chaos: Oh. (long pause) Mama, that’s really sorta like a license though, isn’t it? We are giving God a license to give that baby lots of love and we are giving Him permission to love that baby extra special hard so that the baby will grow up loving Jesus her whole life long.

Wow. I have never heard a better explanation of baptismal regeneration and prevenient grace. I am sort of convinced of the doctrine of total depravity – just watch the TV show “Cops” or “Nanny 911” and you will see what I mean. But I also believe that we are made in the image of God (imago Dei) and that an echo of that image remains. I believe in both baptismal regeneration (in a Methodist, not Catholic manner) and prevenient grace AND the conversion moment.

And now I love the idea of baptizing babies so that God will love them extra special hard so that they will grow up to love Jesus. I know my babies do – and I know Jesus loves them.

Now that we are home -- they are trying to catch Little Kitty to baptize her. I hope they choose to sprinkle and not dunk....

Friday, May 06, 2005

I'm home and will blog more later...

but here's some pictures. First, since it is Friday and I have no cat pictures from the week, here is Chaos holding a bunny and Entropy holding a duck. Both are in the traditional "but why *can't* I keep it" pose. The begging and pleading did not work.

And a picture from Simpsonwood.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

His hands shook

His hands shook as I answered the door,
His hat twisted in his hands,
his hair streaked with white, his eyes with red,
He frenetically moved down the stairs and
then up as he assisted his slow moving sister
who comported herself as a Madonna
her countenance patient and
possessing the scars of long lasting pain,
Her motions deliberate and slow,
she descended into the depths of the building.

Seated in the two blue wingback chairs,
He choose to stand and moved around the room
attracted first to one thing and then another,
like a bee who cannot find nectar, he dipped into
one thing and then another until he finally came to rest
in a hard straight backed chair, uncomfortable and unsatisified
but by choice.

Her eyes were liquid, soft and accepting
her voice quiet and studied
the invasive questions I must ask were
answered with more patience than they deserved.
Her loneliness in midst of company evident in her
Weakness and her consuming hunger.
Her numbness from pain causing her stillness.
Her acceptance of her condition from long experience.

His pain more manifest,
A caterer by trade, yet he could not fulfill his calling
By responding to her hunger, for the need was too deep
And the aftermath too violent.
His answers were eager, quick.
His movements birdlike and rapid,
His hat suffering indignations in his hands,
Twisted and abused. They were opposites,
They were brother and sister.

Where do I answer this call?
How do I fulfill the need?
I can give a box of food -- I can offer a moment of kindness
Respite, solidarity.
I contemplate the ancient questions that have no answer --
Why do God’s children suffer? Why do I have so much and
They so little? Oh God, where do I go from here?