How I Am A Failure (March Synchroblog)
Mar 14th, 2008 by Sonja

This month’s synchroblog was to have been posted on Wednesday evening for those us who live in the current iteration of the Roman empire … the U.S. I failed. We’re to write this month on neo-monasticism. I was excited about this subject; it is near and dear to my heart. But my thoughts failed. A more appropriate description is they scattered like chicken when a thunderstorm is coming. And I could not round them up (chickens do not like to be rounded). Friday morning came and technology failed. Our internet provider is fritzing AGAIN!

So here I am in a new (to me) independent coffee house. With my plain coffee. I just looked up and saw this sign on the wall: “Behind every successful woman is a substantial amount of coffee.” No. Lie. It’s inspirational. So here are my random scattered thoughts on neo-monasticism (in no particular order), followed by the links to my fellow synchro-bloggers, who wrote much more engaging articles than I did and I know this because I read theirs first.

I love the idea.

It scares me to death.

Those who embark upon it need to be very careful of not turning the idea of community into an idol. This is much, much easier than you’d think.

I have friends with whom I dream of beginning a neo-monastic community. We’ve drawn up plans and everything. The plans include a large communal kitchen, vats for brewing organic Belgian beer and textile arts, music and recording arts, a foot bath and plenty of room for just hanging around. We do some things together. We hold a common purse (sort of). We hold some things in common. We raise our children together. The children (all 7 of them from three families) call all three of the mothers, “Mom.” I am “middle Mom.” There is also “short Mom,” and “tall Mom.” There are only two dads. Both are bald. But only one wears glasses.

We eat together at least once a week. Sometimes more than that. We keep each others children in times of crisis (of course). And when things are going well. The children know the expectations at all the houses equally. So do the adults. We all clean each others kitchens and bathrooms (or at least instruct the children to do it, because they are now old enough 😀 ).

All of that sounds wonderful.

But I think I’d be a failure in a neo-monastic community. I’m too selfish. I like having my own time to myself. Even in my own family (of my, LightHusband and LightChildren) I’m too mean and grumpy for my own skin. I don’t know how I’d manage with other people around. I love the idea of a “rule of life” and the routine it implies. But I don’t know how I’d manage with it. I think I’d have to ease my way into it.


Phil Wyman at Square No More: SynchroBlog on Neo-Monasticism
Beth at Until Translucent
Adam Gonnerman at Igneous Quill
Jonathan Brink at
Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes
Bryan Riley at at Charis Shalom
Cobus van Wyngaard at My Contemplations
Mike Bursell at Mike’s Musings
David Fisher at Cosmic Collisions
Alan Knox at The Assembling of the Church
Sam Norton at Elizaphanian
Erin Word at Decompressing Faith
Sonja Andrews at Calacirian

Kingdom of Heaven
Mar 9th, 2008 by Sonja

LightHusband loves gadgets. He especially loves electronic gadgets.

I may have mentioned that I lost the battle over the large screen television. Did I mention that? He got a lovely bonus this year. I lost the battle. When we got the television, we got a new gadget to go with it. It’s called Apple TV.

Apple TVApple TV is a network device designed to play digital content originating from the iTunes Store or another computer onto an enhanced-definition or high-definition widescreen television. Apple TV can store content on an internal hard drive or stream it across a network from another computer running iTunes on either Mac OS X or Windows.

LightHusband thinks this is the coolest thing since sliced bread. I am much more understated.

However, last night we were able to go to iTunes on our television screen. Did you see that?? On our television screen … which is as hugelynormous as a small wall. So, we’re at iTunes. We look for movies. We find movies. We search them for a few minutes and find one that looks interesting. We rent it. For $3.99. It downloads. In less than TWO minutes we are watching the movie. No driving. No boxes to lose. No movie to return (or not … ). No fines to pay … and trust me – we ALWAYS pay fines, because we are 12 and not that organized. We/I can watch that movie as many times as we/I want in 24 hours. For three dollars and ninety-nine cents. Amazing.

So, we rented Kingdom of Heaven, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, Eva Green, and Jeremy Irons. It came out in 2005. It was an excellent movie … but beware. It is not for the faint of heart or queazy of stomach. It is a movie which does not hide the violence or filth of the times from the viewer. I wondered if Orlando Bloom washed his hands at any point during the making of this movie as I watched.

It was thoroughly enjoyable. However, without some knowledge of history and/or the religions involved I’d imagine a viewer would be thoroughly bored. But I loved the fact that for the first in history there was a movie made about the Crusades in which the thoroughly evil people were not the Saracens but the Knights Templar. Those radical fundamentalists who could not live except when they were killing innocents of another race. Hate and fear had twisted their faces.

If you love history, the history of Christianity and/or Islam this is well worth a watch. It is historical fiction and the writers have played with some of the history. However the main characters are all real people who were in and around Jerusalem. Who played a part in the fragile peace of Jerusalem in between the 2nd and 3rd Crusades. Who’s to say they didn’t believe they were bringing about a kingdom of heaven?

Dec 17th, 2007 by Sonja

I haven’t posted in a while. I think it might be the longest while ever. This is not a good record to break. But I suspect that all will live and probably thrive. I finally gave up and just marked “all as read,” in my Googlereader. Some of you will go unread into the dustbin of history. I feel really badly about that … I really do. But I was overwhelmed. Completely. Still … all will live and probably thrive. Such is the stuff of life.

Some really good things have happened lately. My blog, that would be this very blog that you have cast your eyes up now, was accepted into The Daily Scribe. It happened several weeks ago and you may have noticed the shiny new logo in my sidebar. I try to keep it gleaming and crisp because I’ve still got a shine on too about the whole thing. Wander on over to the village square and check them out … what a bunch of fabulous writers and thinkers are gathered there.

We’ve managed to have a few gatherings in our home to celebrate Advent. This has been wonderful and gentle and most of all expectant. The most amazing thing was being able to pray through Isaiah 35:1-10 using lectio divina with 7 children ranging in age from 8 to 14 last evening … and only 5 adults. And, both children and adults got something out of it. I’m still amazed. The kids are loving it too. This is even more amazing. I love watching God at play among the people.

This weekend was so hectic. Four hockey games, a hockey party (for LightGirl’s team), Advent gathering and yes, we squoze in time to breath and eat. The party for LightGirl’s team was so much fun. We had it here at the house. 11 girls, 2 boys and assorted parents. I planned lunch, a couple of activities and lots of time for talking and giggling. One of the activities was building gingerbread houses with ye olde standby … the trusty graham cracker. I didn’t think the girls would buy into it. But it was their favorite thing. They begged to get started and were completely into it. Much more than I anticipated 12, 13 and 14 yo girls would be. I still have their creations proudly displayed on the breakfast bar. I don’t have the heart to properly dispose of them. They are beautiful. LightBoy and his friend made gingerbread tanks (of course!) … after doing the appropriate research! Hilarious.


LightBoy is feeling the tension of not playing the war games, but is being good. He did, however, get a war movie at Blockbuster the other day. He couldn’t help it he said and swatted his eyelashes at me. Today at lunch I joined in mid-conversation when I overheard his father exclaim, “What are you going to do? Behead them and blow them up?”

“What?! Behead and blow what up?”

“No, Mom … I want to get Barbies at the Dollar Store to make angel Christmas ornaments.”

“Oh … well … you can’t do that either. Barbies … whether they’re at the Dollar Store or elsewhere are made by slave girls in China and we can’t support that. So you can’t get a Barbie. Or a knockoff. You could just Google how to make an angel ornament and make one like that.”

My poor, deprived children. They get great, creative ideas and their deranged socially alert mother shoots ’em down and makes them create out of recycled soda bottles and tissue paper … it was the saddest angel ornament you ever saw. I think Sam the dog might “accidently” eat it. That would be a shame. Maybe I will give him a little bit of guidance tomorrow.

I spent today fighting with my blog to upgrade it. Tomorrow I can do fun things like make cookies and angel ornaments with my children. Today I had to fight with technology. Maybe tomorrow I will be in a better mood. Tomorrah is a bettah day, after all.

The Law
Sep 16th, 2007 by Sonja

Bill Kinnon (of the Ends Achievable) has a great post on digital rights management this afternoon. He’s talking about the general shift in attitude of the music and other industries to considering that their customers are stealing the products they are selling. It’s really sort of sad when you consider it.

It makes me angry when I purchase a song from iTunes and the only place I can play that song is on my iPod or the specific computer I purchased it on. I know that someone is going to come on my blog and stick up for the artist and their rights to be paid for the song. Trust me as I write this piece there is almost no one more empathetic to the rights of an artist to be paid for their work. If the musicians were actually getting a piece of that pie, I’d be sympathetic, but the reality is that the music companies are getting the large portion of that money, not the musicians. If I pay $.99 per song, how much is the musician getting? Really …

Here’s what the whole post got me thinking about though. Last month our guild had a speaker come in to talk to us about copyright law and quilters. I didn’t get to be there because … I’d just come home from the hospital (remember that fun?). In any case she spent the entire evening telling our group of kindly little old ladies about how they were breaking the law when they used a pattern more than one time. Or shared it with a friend. Or some other horrible offense. Again, don’t get me wrong. I design quilts and some day I hope to publish designs. But as an artist it would be my fondest hope that people would share those with each other. If I found out that people thought enough of my doodles to share them with each other, I’d be THRILLED. I certainly would not swear out a warrant after them. Now though, there is a current of fear in my little guild that never existed before. My wonderful ladies worry about whether or not they can make their quilts and give them away. They are fussing about things they don’t need to fuss about. All because someone had a little bit of knowledge and decided to pass along some fear.

It’s rampant these days. Have you noticed? Fear sells. It sells cars. It sells insurance. It sells politicians. It sells whatever someone wants you to buy. But it sells. It’s not how we used to sell things here … but it’s how we’re selling things now. Fear. Our greatest desire lately seems to be safety. So we’re listening to the people hawking fear.

Happy 2 to Me
Jul 7th, 2007 by Sonja

The other day I unwittingly wrote a post about the significance of 07.07.07 to the world … or not. Then I was browsing through my blog (her)story and came to the rather startling discovery that whether or not this date is significant to God, life the universe or anything … it’s significant to me. It’s my blog anniversary. My second. So, happy 2 to me.

I’m in a different place this year, than I have been the last two years. Both in physical and emotional space. The last two years as I wrote here, I was back in steamy Virginia anticipating my trip north to Vermont. To sit on the porch and hear the waters of Lake Champlain lap up on the shore. Today, I’m on the porch listening as I write. It is a balm to my weary soul.

I do so love it up here. My mother and my favorite aunt have been here too. We’ve been out gallivanting together. We did lunch and shopping (a first for all three of us together). We worked out together, found a quilt store together, jaunted off down curvy, hilly dirt roads to find strawberries together … all with me driving (and my mother directing 😉 she knows the roads better after all). It’s been a grand adventure. And I’ve been soaking it up to remember down the years.

We’ve been retelling the old family stories from when I was a child and from their childhoods as well. Stories I’ve heard at least a million times, but now I’ve heard them a million and one. Funny, though, there are one or two I haven’t heard and this time I’ve told a few of my own from my childhood that LightMom hadn’t heard, or added my own perspective to a well known story that brought gales of laughter, or in one case a sense of relief. It made me think of this quote (which I first saw over at Mak’s place, but later read myself in Relevant magazine, by the grande damme herself, Anne Lamotte):

One of my deepest beliefs is that every single thing that happens to you is yours. You get to own it, and you don’t have to keep others’ awful secrets for them anymore. You don’t have to be such a good son or such a good daughter that you can redeem their lives…If people don’t want you to write about them, then they should behave a lot better. It’s amazing when someone tells the truth.

All of which brings me back to my blog anniversary. The italics in the above quote are mine. I added them because I wanted my readers to pay attention to those words. Which, in the end, is why any writer adds italics to a bit of writing.

This is also a good day, three days after the celebration of the anniversary of our national Declaration of Independence, for me to celebrate my own declaration of independence. In a very small way. So here it is …

This blog is mine. It’s all mine. I write what I think about. What I write is public. I never, no never, write with the intention to hurt or threaten any one. But, as you might recall from my post last night, the truth is only threatening to those who wish manipulate it for their own ends. If anyone who reads this blog doesn’t like what they read, they can not read it … they can move along to another blog or another website.
But … if people don’t want you to write about them, then they should behave a lot better. I’m just sayin’ … that’s all.

Gremlins Meant It For Evil …
Jul 1st, 2007 by Sonja

… but I used it for good!

Imagine my dismay when I saw this in the space where my blogroll used to be …

WordPress database error: [Incorrect key file for table ‘wp_linkcategories’; try to repair it]
SELECT link_url, link_name, link_image, link_description, link_visible, link_category AS cat_id, cat_name AS category, wp_users.user_login, link_id, link_rating, link_rel FROM wp_links LEFT JOIN wp_linkcategories ON wp_links.link_category = wp_linkcategories.cat_id LEFT JOIN wp_users ON wp_users.ID = wp_links.link_owner ORDER BY link_name

… as I was scrolling down through my blog one day last month. It was horrifying. Not so much in a real gut-wrenching “your daughter has just been attacked” kind of way, but more in the “oh no … I don’t know what to do now” kind of way. So I did the kind of thing I’m really good at … I ignored it and hoped it would go away all by itself. But it didn’t.

It mocked me every time I scrolled down to check. It laughed in my face and giggled at my incompetence. Waggled its ears at my consternation. Pheh. So I took all the wind out of its sails and stopped checking. Hah! That’ll fix it’s wagon … that dreadful code.

I mulled it over and thought for a while. Then I decided to take my links (blogroll) out of my sidebar altogether. I’ve moved them you see to their own page. I called the page, Beacon Hills after the mountain top signal fires in the Lord of the Rings. It seems fitting, given the name of my blog. Then I thought, “I’d love to have a dynamic blogroll. I wonder how hard that would be.” So I did a Google search. I found a way to hitch up my GoogleReader to a widget in my sidebar (HT to ZeroBoss) . So the links that are listed on Beacon Hills are providing the sustenance for the posts listed in my sidebar as “beacon hills” via sonja. It’s so Web 2.0 I can hardly stand myself. You probably can’t stand me either 😉

He Is Alive!
Apr 8th, 2007 by Sonja

Who am I?

I am the unsung disciple. One of the 10 who’s names are not mentioned in the days after the crucifixion and miracle. You have heard the story of John and Peter and that bastard son, Judas.

We are so afraid. It has settled into our midst like bad meat brings a stone in the stomach. If we could vomit, would it be better? We talk and ask endless questions to which there are no answers. What have we done? We have given our lives to a lie. How do we make this right? How do we face our fathers? our mothers? How do we get this time back? Andrew’s mother died a year ago and he did not mourn her or bury her. How does he tell his father of his sorrow?

Then we are angry. We have given our lives to a lie. This Jesus was to be the once and future king. Instead he did nothing to defend himself, he walked to his death like a criminal. What have we done? What shall we do? How do we make this right?

The women are in the next room crying and hugging. They can go back. They will find men to care for them. We have given everything away and now it is all gone. All of it. Where is our king? Dead.

But who is coming into the room now. Well, this looks like him and sounds like him.

But it cannot be! He was dead not three days ago.

The excited talking and laughing and greeting. It makes the past couple of days disappear. But … maybe not. Thomas is asking the questions that are on all of our minds, but we dare not ask. He is still angry and betrayed. Truth be told, so am I. But I want this new/old reality so badly I can taste it. I am willing to go along with everyone else and be happy. But I still have these questions. I still feel betrayed by the leaving. I’m still angry. I still do not know how to live. When will we know those things?

Thomas seems to understand that. He is braver than I am and willing to face Jesus; ask him the hard questions we all have been asking these long days and nights. Peter and John … well, they came in with Jesus. They always do. I don’t know whether to admire those two for their holiness, or despise them for their sanctimony. But they are glued to Jesus’ side, like they cannot draw breath unless they copy him. They have no questions, they never do.

Me … well … He is alive again! But I still don’t know how to live.

Science In/And Faith
Apr 4th, 2007 by Sonja

This is beautiful:

I have found there is a wonderful harmony in the complementary truths of science and faith. The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. God can be found in the cathedral or in the laboratory. By investigating God’s majestic and awesome creation, science can actually be a means of worship.

Read the rest of the article about Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute.  It’s at and is entitled, Collins:  How a scientist can believe in God.

“… science can actually be a means of worship.”  What a powerful statement of faith in the beauty and wonder of creation.  I’m awed.

Mar 27th, 2007 by Sonja

I remember catching toads when I was young. They were much easier to catch than frogs. Frogs, after all, lived at the edges of ponds (so they had easy escape routes) and they are slippery. Toads live pretty much anywhere and they are bumpy. They are risky because they might pee on you, but fascinatingly grotesque. Thus, when I saw this provocative headline, Toad the Size of Small Dog, it was a must read.

I had visions of The Wind in the Willows, or a small boy having caught and fed a toad in order to enter the Guiness Book of World Records. But, no. This was a toad found and caught in the “wilds” so to speak of the suburbs of Darwin, Australia. It’s a case of toads gone bad. Toads wrecking the local eco-system. Toads brought in from South America in the 1930’s to control the beetle population, but they demolished other things too. So now they catch the toads, kill them and reprocess them to make “a great fertilizer.”

I began thinking about this. In a certain sense this is a very funny article about large men with large flashlights tiptoeing about stalking toads in the deep dark night and I’d love to write the screenplay for the comic movie about it. In another sense this article is about how little we know and understand the delicate balance of nature and science. We think we get it, but we are like the 5 blind men describing the elephant. Except we’ve just got the trunk. We understand one part of the elephant’s trunk and are making decisions about the whole elephant based upon our knowledge of his trunk, or a little piece of his tail. But we do not understand how the whole elephant fits together and moves and grows and lives.

I also began to think about how much of the damage that’s been done in and on the earth and to each other has come about because of our impatience. We are impatient to grow more food faster. We are impatient to live perfect happy lives. We are impatient with illness and sadness. We are impatient gray skies and cloudy days. We are impatient with hunger. We are impatient.

I am also beginning to think that it’s pretty likely that we passed the point of population sustainability sometime in the 1800s. I know that means that I should not be writing this. And likely 7 out of 10 of my readers should not be reading it. This is a harsh reality. But then so is the reality that many people in the developing world live out day after starving day.

iPod …
Jan 9th, 2007 by Sonja

… it’s the new cellphone.  The word on the street was that Apple was set to release a new cellphone based on an iPod later this year.  But later is the new sooner according to this Time article.  I find it only slightly ironic that the advertising at the top of the page is for a Motorola “broken” cell phone.

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