Making Up For Lost Time
Apr 2nd, 2009 by Sonja

Well, that’s not entirely true … only because one can never really make up for lost time.  But I’m on a mission to get myself back on some kind of track and get some writing done.

I have some plans and ideas in my head for real, live honest to goodness posts.  Yes, written by me and posted here.  Believe it or not.  I may be coming back from my own dead head.

And I’m going to be regularly posting Ooze reviews once a week.  On Fridays.  That just seems like a good day to do them.  So be watching this space tomorrow where I’ll be reviewing two CD’s.  Books begin again next week.

Maybe I’ll even write about my whacky idea to turn our suburban manicured front yard (sloppy and ragged can be considered a manicure … it’s just not a good manicure 😉 ) into a Virginia meadow.

Virginia meadow
Photograph by Paula Sullivan

See, I think this will be a good idea on many fronts. We won’t have to mow except for twice a year, thus reducing our gas usage and carbon emissions. It will attract song birds, humming birds and honey bees, thus it would be a haven for small creatures that need space in urban environments. Plus, it would be pretty. Who can argue with pretty?

The Cost of a Life – Part Three
Dec 18th, 2008 by Sonja

Lightbulbs in clamshell packagingOne of the things that both amazes me and frustrates me about life these days is plastic.  And not just any plastic, but the hard plastic packaging that manufacturers use to protect their products; it’s commonly called clamshell packaging.  It is so frustrating to get into that we now need a special instrument just to open our products when we get them home; simple scissors will no longer do.

A further disturbance in the force arises when this packaging is used to secure and protect so-called “green” products, such as these flourescent light bulbs.  I’m not certain, but to me it seems that all of the energy saved by using such light bulbs is off-set by that used in the packing of them.  Not to mention the breakage that occurs as you attempt to free the bulbs from their captivity (UPDATE – photo credit: Beth Terry @ FakePlasticFish).

On the other hand, I think this packaging is amazing.  It’s lightweight, strong and virtually indestructible.  If it weren’t so blasted difficult to get into once it has been sealed around a product, it would be a nearly perfect package.  It’s other problem is that it is lumpy and awkward.  When giving the product as a gift, you can’t wrap them easily.  I far prefer boxes for their tidy square corners and the precise way they can be wrapped.  The wrapping paper industry has accommodated the advent of clamshells by producing gift bags to be used with tissue paper.  These bags can be used one or more times, cost very little to produce and may be sold at a much higher price.

So the clamshells have become ubiquitous.  We don’t think too much about them anymore beyond cursing them as we attempt to get our prizes out of them.  But why do we have them?  What purpose do they serve?  To me they are a shining example of how we humans have become subject to the machine.  Allow me to explain.

Before the Industrial Revolution things were made one at a time.  Slowly, precisely and by hand.  The producers were known by their consumers for the most part.  Production and consumption were closely tied together.  Blacksmiths who couldn’t make a good nail lost business, regardless of how good their horseshoes were. This was because more people needed nails than needed horseshoes.  Blacksmiths were known for how good or worthless their product was.  They were also known for how fair they were.  This was true of all tradesmen and women.  The good, honest fair tradesmen and women made honest livings, others … not so much.  Young people were taught the trade one or two at a time by an older mentor in an apprentice relationship.

Then, about a hundred years ago, Henry Ford introduced the assembly line into the manufacturing process and life as we know it changed for good.

Don’t get me wrong.  There was a lot that was good in the ideas that came with assembly line manufacturing.  But as we’ve discovered in the intervening century, progress is not all it’s cracked up to be either.  I’d much rather not travel with these accommodations any longer (Photo by Shorpy – the 100 year old photo blog)

Road to Culpeper - 1920

It reminds me of the Thomas Hobbes quote about life for humans being nasty, brutish and short.

The problem, though, with assembly line manufacturing and the clamshell packaging that has resulted from it, is that it begins to treat human beings as a product of it’s own process.  Humans, creations made in the image of God, begin to be seen as products of human creation.  We see this both during the process (employees of the production company – workers on the assembly line) and the perception of the consumers who will purchase the product.  It does not suit the efficiency of the process to consider humans as individuals … whether during the process of production or during the process of consumption.  If we begin to see humans as individuals, with unique needs, unique desires, unique hopes, unique dreams, unique failures and unique successes, then they may no longer be relied upon to purchase cloned products that are spewed by the millions off assembly-lines by robots and purchased by robots.  Even though much of the labor that goes into assembly lines has now been replaced by artificial intelligence, and robots, there remains a need for human interaction with the process … eyes on.  To catch the errors.

We are not robots.  We are not clones of one another.  There is no one size that fits all … even when it comes to automobiles.  Can we turn back the clock?  No.  Not a chance in hell.

Dear Sarah
Sep 8th, 2008 by Sonja

Unbelievable.  I scarcely know where to begin.  I should be glad, you see, that a woman is running for Vice President.  I want to support you.  You are, after all, a woman.  You are my age.  You have children the age of my children.  We even share the same moniker … Hockey Mom.  We are both Hockey Moms.  I’ll bet you even managed your kid’s team, the way I do.  Well, then again, maybe not the way I do, but we’ll get to that later.

Here’s the deal.  I can’t support you.  You don’t even know me, so this won’t matter at all to you.  But that’s okay.  I’m just using this letter format as a cute form within which to express my ideas.

There was very little chance that I would have ever voted for your ticket in the first place because of your running mate’s slavish adherence to the disastrous war in Iraq.  But I was hoping that Senator McCain would choose someone with experience, strength, wisdom and stability to bring to the ticket that I could give serious consideration to.  Instead, we are presented with … um … well … you.  You represent none of those things.  You may have that facade, but you  are like the movie set of a fictitious western Gold Rush town … all fizz and no bang.

Your candidacy is offensive to me and many other women.  It is patently obvious that it is an attempt to manipulate us into voting for someone we may not otherwise vote for, simply because you have breasts and ovaries.  I did not vote for Hillary Clinton on that basis and I won’t vote for you on that basis either.  I don’t know who is making the decisions in the Republican party, but it is insulting and offensive that they think so little of women voters.  Most of us would rather see a person in office who is carrying out decisions that we are interested in, than someone who looks like us.  As a woman, I am offended.

Your candidacy is offensive to me as a historian.  You seem to have no sense of the office or of your place in history.  Several months ago you candidly admitted you do not know what the Vice President does.  Yet, here you are putting your family on the line and in the spotlight for what can only be seen as personal gain, if you have no understanding of the office.  The office of president and vice president should never be sought for personal gain … read what George Washington had to say on this matter.  Or John Adams.  Or Abraham Lincoln.  Or John Kennedy.  Or even Ronald Reagan.  I would suggest, dear Sarah, that you take some time to study the difference between being smart and being wise.  It takes very little to be smart, most anyone can do it; especially if one has a good speech writer and the chutzpah to deliver as you seem to.  But it takes some time and study and dedication to become wise.  This is what we need in the Vice Presidency, wisdom.  You are smart, and you proved at the convention that you can be a smartass, but you are not wise.  As a historian, I am offended.

Your candidacy is offensive to me as a citizen and as a political watchwoman.  From looking at your history in government, you seem to have little sense that the primary role of a mayor, or a governor or a Vice President is to be a civil servant; with emphasis on the word servant.  This hearkens back to your lack of understanding of history, Sarah.  My guess is that you eschewed history classes as an undergraduate and just partied.  Here is a very short course.  What seems ubiquitous and unremarkable in 2008, was radical and unorthodox in 1776.  It was this … that the nature of government is to serve the needs of the people rather than the reverse.  It was this unlikely sentiment that got Thomas Paine, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Washington, and all of our other founding fathers into such hot water with England.  You seem to have forgotten that ideal and believe that being in government is to serve the needs of those in government.  Hence, you left your tiny town of Wasilla in state of outlandish debt, you clearly have no idea how to run the state of Alaska (evidenced by the line item vetos which make little sense) and I shudder to think what would happen if you were given the keys to office of the Vice Presidency.  As a citizen, I am offended.

Your candidacy is offensive to me as a Christian.   You understand so little of what our government is intended to be that I scarcely know where to begin.  But I’ll begin with scripture, Sarah.  With the Gospel of John and your acceptance speech.  In the Gospel of John chapter 13, we find Jesus saying this, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  My dear Sarah, as a Christian and disciple of Jesus Christ, would you please point me to the place in Scripture where Jesus is shown making fun of people for their choice of citizen action?  Where He makes jests at the expense of another person for any reason?  I’ve studied the Scriptures fairly intently and I can’t find it anywhere.  But I will acknowledge that I may have missed something.  I would also like to bring the following to your attention:  the two Great Commandments as Jesus spoke of them in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 22 ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  In what fashion may it be considered loving of your neighbor, to call him a racial epithet?  How is it loving the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your  mind, to stand before a convention hall filled people and lead them chants the way you did the other night?  In many ways that you might not have forseen you have become an icon for the Christian way in this country.  You must bear that mantle with wisdom and respect.  Or we will see more articles written like this:

Democrats are not the enemy of course, but even if they are, I saw no expressions of Christian love for them.  I saw plenty of sarcasm, put-downs, mocking, and bitterness.  Palin mocked Obama’s decision to serve others as a community organizer.  Giuliani, a very wealthy and cosmopolitan man himself, made fun of Democratic elites.  I heard misleading statements and flat-out lies.  Palin falsely suggested that Obama wants to read a captured Bin Laden his rights–of course, this is preposterous and Obama has never said this, but it didn’t stop Palin from spreading misinformation.  On a more mundane level, she also suggested she had sold an expensive government plane on eBay–it didn’t actually sell on eBay, but McCain is now falsely claiming that it did sell on eBay–at a profit (also not true).  Of course, McCain is no stickler when it comes to the facts–he falsely claimed in his own speech that Obama will raise your taxes, leaving out the important caveat that 95% of Americans get tax cuts under Obama’s plan.  Mike Huckabee fired off a zinger about Palin winning more votes in her mayoral election than Biden garnered as a presidential candidate.  Sounds great–unfortunately, it’s a lie.  I am no theologian, but I vaguely remember there being a commandment inveighing against this kind of thing.

With follow on comments such as this:

 Try to make a list of 5 great things that religion has done to significantly increase the happiness and well-being of humanity. Now make a list of 10 terrible atrocities that have been committed in the name of religion. Which list was easier to make? The Republicans suddenly make a lot more sense if you stop assuming Christianity has anything to do with love. Christianity is nothing more than the sum of the actions of all Christians. (emphasis mine)

Dear Sarah, remember that little bit I dragged out of the gospel of John … they will know us by our love.  I don’t care what you want, or what you think, or what you love.  You are vastly unimportant to me, because I do not know you at all.  Except for this.  I do know that for millions of people now, you represent Jesus.  What kind of Jesus will you be?   Getting laughs, applause, and/or votes by telling lies (no matter how small), and belittling others is unacceptable for those who claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.   Thus far, as a Christian, I am offended.

So, we come to the end of this small exercise.  To say I am disappointed in your selection as the Republican vice presidential candidate would be a gross understatement.  I am offended by the misogyny and manipulation that the Republican National Committee is attempting with your selection.  I am terrified by the betrayal of our historic national values that is at stake.   We are indeed at a turning point in the history of our country; I wonder how many people really understand this.  How many will look back and say, “I wish I had …?”

Respectfully yours, Sonja

Fully Known And Fully Loved – August Synchroblog on Poverty
Aug 13th, 2008 by Sonja

“It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” Mother Theresa

That’s a pretty well known and ubiquitous quote by Mother Theresa.  It’s been co-opted by the folks who believe that life begins at conception and would like to pass laws to that effect in our country.  I still remember the sense of shock I had the first time I saw it on a bumper.

I know people who’ve had abortions.  Some are very close to me.  Is that really what they’d done?  I had to think it through.  I knew their reasons very intimately.  Most had gone on to have children later in adulthood.  Having the child would have been disastrous for both child and mother at the time of the pregnancy.  Some of the pregnancies were the result of rape, others the result of very protected intercourse but the protection simply failed.  In every case, mothers (and fathers) go on to mourn the loss eternally.  It is a drastic decision made during a time of crisis in a situation that is kept secret in most cases.  Very few terminated pregnancies are made known before they are finished.

It seems to me that it’s become far too easy to make snap judgements, and reduce a nuanced topic, such as abortion, to a pithy sentence and slap it on a bumper sticker to make your sentiments known to everyone else.  So I was wondering the other day, which was the real poverty?  Who is impoverished?  Where are we now that we have polarized ourselves into tidy camps.  Right and left.  Red and blue.  Take it or leave it.  For us; against them.

Then LightHusband sent me this story about a feral child discovered in Florida a few years ago.  Beware if you read the whole story.  It’s very graphic and full of lurid details about the filth the little girl lived in.  Terrible really.  It’s likely that her biological mother is ill and or at least terribly self-centered.  Because of the neglect she suffered, this girl may never be able to talk or communicate on a meaningful level.  Her brain may never develop past six or seven years old in terms of her ability to process information.  No one really knows.  There have only been two or three feral children in recorded history.  One in France in the 1880’s and another in California in in the 1970’s that were reported in this news story.

Don’t for a moment make the leap that I am suggesting this child would have been better off aborted.  Not at all.  No, I am suggesting that we are all impoverished for not knowing.  Not knowing our neighbors.  Not loving our neighbor.  When we do know, we do not take their hands and walk with them, we call CPS.  We rely on the law to transform, rather than relationships.  We want to make laws, call policemen, stand at an arm’s length away and point out the flaws in one another.

What struck me most about this story was the unknowing.  The secrecy.  The darkness.  The lack of love.  That is the nexus that this story has in common with mothers who face the choice to terminate a pregnancy.  They make choices in secrecy, without the love and support of most of their network, in crisis; hard, difficult choices that hurt everyone including themselves.

The biological mother in the Florida case had been trying unsuccessfully to keep her family together.  She failed catastrophically.  When the little girl was found both mother and daughter were nearly in a catatonic state but with different origins.  The mother was arrested and convicted for breaking various Florida laws concerning child welfare.  She was given a suspended sentence with the proviso that she rescind her maternal rights.  So the little girl has been adopted into a home with very caring parents, who are doing their best to help her develop on a more normal trajectory.  In many respects the story has a happy ending.  The little girl is learning, growing, loving and is loved.  Her biological mother is alone.  Alone with regrets, blame and an empty home.  Many would say that she earned all of that and then some.  Maybe my heart is too soft.  But then I read Larry Vaughn and I wonder what might have been …

My theme becomes concrete: What would it be like to be known fully and loved completely? Most people know of this tension. Most adults, anyway. Fortunate children know what this is like. But because they don’t know anything different they take the situation for granted. Somewhere along the way to adulthood we start putting price tags on people and become capitalists of humanity. We also pick up a few undesirable qualities along the way.Another meteor.

I am known and I am loved. But not completely. I think my brain would melt from sheer pleasure if the confluence of these two principles ever occurred.

The air is brisk and I cannot hear another sound except for my breathing.

Another meteor.

And then I feel it. I am being watched. My anxiety rises. You have had this feeling before, haven’t you? Out of necessity I have become good at paying attention to my surroundings. It is a casualty of my profession.

I look around expecting to see a deer or a raccoon. Maybe a person. Maybe (it’s 2:00am) the dead owner of the abandoned house. Nothing.

Another meteor.

My anxiety ebbs but the feeling of being watched doesn’t.

I used to enjoy watching my girls play when they didn’t know I was there. Sometimes they would talk to their dolls or draw pictures or play house. Sometimes they would sing silly songs or have conversations with the air. I always felt a sense of magic when I could witness this play unnoticed. When they played without an audience I always got a sense of purity. Whatever they were doing or saying was complete truth. If you’re a parent you know exactly what I am talking about. Like the feeling of sneaking into the movies, I had a sense that I shouldn’t be here. I wasn’t invited to the tea party or the dance or the play. But as a parent, I couldn’t look away. This always, always made me smile. I tried so hard to be quiet. Partly because I didn’t want to interrupt the beauty. Partly because I didn’t want the tea party to end, which it surely would if my presence were made known.

Another meteor.

My feeling of being watched begins to transform. My mind begins to slow down and I stop thinking about thinking about thinking. I am quiet. And still. And small.

Another meteor. Another tear of St. Lawrence.

I am being watched. And the person watching is smiling. Hiding behind a cosmic door. Peeking around the corner.

Another meteor. Another tear.

I am not alone.

Another tear.

My brain begins to melt.


This is a synchroblog on poverty. Please read what my fellow bloggers have to say on the subject below:

Little Green Men (June Synchroblog)
Jun 19th, 2008 by Sonja

Green men It’s the latest fashion craze …

With the price of gas, now it’s financially wise …

And after years of eschewing the environment Christians are now flocking to the so-called green movement in droves.

Can I say this in my outloud voice?  I’m just a little bit cynical.

No, make that a lot cynical.  Cynical to the point of illness.  You see, I’ve been an environmentalist literally all my life.  I could just say, “I grew up in Vermont,” and most of you would understand.  But it was more than that.  I grew up understanding the devastating effects of pollution.  I’ve been cutting the plastic rings that encircle beer/soda cans since they came out … to protect water birds.  I cleaned road sides as a child and now as an adult I look at the trash on our roads and remember the animals who live in what has become a toilet.

We are a wasteful society and trash culture.  When we look at ourselves in the mirror, our culture of efficiency and productivity on one side of the coin, has created waste, trash and selfishness on the other side.  We cannot have low prices without using people and resources in ways that are abusive in the end.

We have had the technology for smarter cars and using less gas for thirty years.  Yet for the last ten years we have driven larger, and larger cars.  Look in any church parking lot, what do you see?  SUVs and minivans … an armada of them.

Look inside any church, what do you see?  An ocean of cheap plastic clothing.  Polyester, nylon … both derivatives of petroleum.  Made cheaply and at the expense of someone’s life in another country.   But here in the US?  We have been “good stewards” of our individual budgets.  Each family member has far too many clothes bought cheaply at the local deep-discount store.

I read on the wall of a Mennonite grocery store, “The cost of something is that amount of life which must be exchanged for it.”

Too often we have looked at our individual budgets, incomes and outgos and thought we were being “good stewards” of our money.  But have we been good stewards of our lives and of the lives of others?  Have we measured the cost of things in terms of the life that has been expended on it?  We look at cost in terms of dollars.  What if we began looking in terms of life exchanged?

What is that call on our lives?  Then perhaps, Christians truly would be little green men.


There is small handful of us posting a SynchroBlog on Green Spirituality. The posts may not be up and running until Thursday afternoon:

Is it All About the Green? by Phil Wyman
Rediscovering Humanity’s Primal Commission by Adam Gonnerman
Turn or Burn? A New Liberal Hell? by Cobus van Wyngaard
Little Green Men by Sonja Andrews
Bashing SUV’s for Jesus by David Fisher
Saints and Animals by Steve Hayes
When Christians Weasel Out of Their Environmental Responsibilities by K.W. Leslie
Green Christian Manifesto by Matt Stone
God So Loved, by Sally Coleman

Otherwise Occupied
Apr 10th, 2008 by Sonja

desdemona ... part one

Last September BlazingEwe and I had a brilliant idea.  There was some fabric involved.  It was speaking to us and telling us what kind of quilt it wanted to be.  So we told our guild that we’d design and execute the guild’s raffle quilt for 2009.  In January we handed out kits and directions for 80 blocks.  In March we got most of those back.  Saturday we triaged those blocks.


Forty of them need work.  Need to be taken apart and resewn.  About 2/3’s of those must be re-cut and resewn.  The photo above is half the quilt.  We’ve been working for a week now.  That photo was taken on Wednesday.  We’ve done a lot more since then.  Many of the holes you see in the photo have been filled.  But there is still a lot to do in this half.  Then we still have another half to put up on our design wall and pick apart, then resew.

I have no life.  I have this quilt.  It has to be done and ready for the quilter by May 7.  We have been to the quilt shop 3 times for fabric.  We drove a two hour round trip to get one piece of fabric because … well … it’s a long story.  It was our favorite piece and we had to have it.

All of this is to say, I am otherwise occupied for the time being.  I am sporadically working on a few posts here and there.  So you’ll hear from me now and again.  But I’m busy making a vision come to life.

In the meantime here’s a great project for the spring.  Get involved counting bees and planting sunflowers … be part of the Great Sunflower Project.   Let’s have a sunflower contest.  Everyone get some seeds and we’ll all plant them on the same day … how about May 1?  Then we’ll see how tall our tallest sunflower is on September 1.  I’ll send a prize to the grower of the tallest sunflower.  Let me know in the comments if you’re in.

Wurst Case?
Mar 7th, 2008 by Sonja

The next time you fear and/or expostulate that your government just may be spending your tax dollars in a less than useful manner, you might consider Switzerland.

There’s a crisis in Switzerland … of epic proportions. But the sturdy Swiss are taking steps to manage it. In January a multidisciplinary task force was created. People from the field, from industry, from banking … all were asked to report. Now in March the Economy Minister reports that steps are being taken, but a plan B must be implemented.

What’s the crisis, you ask? Why there is only enough bovine intestine for the national sausage until the end of 2008.

Great heavenly day! What will the world come to without ample supplies of cervelat on hand?

Of course … it strikes me that just perhaps there was a time in Swiss history that they produced cervelat (the national sausage … so maybe it’s been around for a while) without Brazilian bovine intestine. Where did they get it then? Maybe that’s a place to look …

All The Things I Want You To Know
Jan 31st, 2008 by Sonja

Or at least some of them.

Did you know that camels don’t really store water in their humps? It’s really fat. They store water in their bloodstream and can drink up to 50 gallons of water at once. They can go as many as 7 days between stops at a water hole. Here’s the real kicker: “The famous line … “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” is possibly a mistranslation, where the original Aramaic word gamta ‘sturdy rope,’ was confused with gamla, ‘camel.'” (from p. 93 of The Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd & John Mitchinson) … now that makes more sense. As a quilter I know that putting a sturdy rope through the eye of needle is just about as impossible as a camel, but at least the analogy makes more sense. Or maybe Jesus was just being sarcastic.

I had my hair done today. It was long past due and I didn’t realize it was making me sort of insane. I love it again … it’s all stripey. My hairdresser called it tiramisu. I love my hairdresser. She’s fabulous. She’s also from Ghana. We get along like long lost best friends. We chatter away when I’m there. No one else talks. We talk about big things and little things. She regales me with tales of growing up the youngest of 19 children in Ghana. I love the stories. I tell her about growing up the oldest of 3 in Vermont. She loves those stories. Today we traded tales of uncomfortable clothing … I hated itchy wool and had to wear it all the time. She had over-protective older brothers who pegged rotten fruit at unwanted suitors. The suitors were unwanted by the brothers not by her.

We talked about the unrest (to put it mildly) in Kenya for a while. She called it a fire that will not go out for a long time to come. I think she said, “It’s been lit now and it will not go out.” She’s worried about her home country and whether or not this will spill over the borders to harm her people. She was mostly concerned about the influx of refugees. I asked why she wasn’t concerned about the government. Her response? All the politicians are supported by women. Apparently, in Ghana the money is held by women. I have to track that idea down. Next time I see her I also have to take her some tiramisu … she didn’t know it was a real dessert.

I found a way to give so it will help real Kenyans who are in need. This assistance will to go help feed, clothe and assist refugees directly displaced by the current unrest/coup d’etat. I’ve participated. If you feel called to participate, please also help. This will go directly to help out women and children and men who have lost everything to the politics of power:

Displaced KenyanIf you would like to help financially you can by sending a check payable to Soul Sanctuary and mail it to:
Soul Sanctuary
187 Henlow Bay
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3Y 1G4
****Mark on the check KENYA
Or you can use PayPal off our website

If you use PayPal, please email me ( ) with the amount so that our accountant will add the gift to “aid in Kenya.” ALL DONATIONS OVER $5 will be issued a tax reciept.

(ht: Bill Kinnon)

From the post at SoulPastor:

Again, thank you so much for your prayers. This country needs God’s help. As do we. Thank you!

Today ******* was quiet. We heard very few shots fired. There was one incident at night, but that was when the power suddenly went off at the police station and the refugees there thought the Kikuyu were coming to get them and everyone started screaming. The police shot into the air at that point but all then went quiet when they got the generator running.
The first time ******** ventured into town we were struck by the bizarre situation. The town appeared to be mostly back to normal. People were in the streets, the taxis were running again, the market was open, many shops were doing brisk business as people came into town to refresh their dwindling stock of supplies. Along the streets were some shops which had been broken open and all the personal effects burned outside: tables, chairs, even bicycles and refrigerator coolers. (They even burnt one …. woman’s expensive Toyota Landcruiser!) How would the displaced people feel – those whose lives have been threatened, who have lost everything, may even have had loved ones hacked to death – if they would see the other tribe members just getting on with their lives as though nothing had happened?

In one of the poorer areas of town we came across an unusual sight. Amongst the narrow trails between the houses there were many piles of burnt personal effects outside poor people’s houses. The paths had been cleared of the boulders but these were still strewn along the road side as though in preparation for the next wave of violence. But as we drove behind one house we saw on one pile of ash all kinds of furniture and other personal effects. You couldn’t help wondering why the things had not been burned. Did the youths run out of petrol? Or had they expended their hatred? Or did they maybe break into the wrong house?
We didn’t see the smoke clouds billowing up from the town neighbourhoods like yesterday. Only one huge plume of smoke was evident. But even that makes you wonder if something is about to blow up again. Everybody is very much on edge so the smallest thing is enough to make you wonder if the violence is about to start up all over again.

On another note … is it just me, or is anyone else sick and tired of Viola and Barna’s Pagan Christianity yet? It’s not even out and it’s been reviewed and discussed more than the proverbial dead horse. From what I can tell (no, I have not read it and with all the hoopla, I’m not likely to either), they’re not saying anything new here folks, so what’s the big deal? It’s just me, but I tend to run fast and far from books that get so popular.

Some things appear innocuous, even beautiful. But they are dangerous and deadly. We need to avoid those activities when made aware of them.

There’s a fairly amazing discussion going on over at Grace’s. It’s been happening for well over a week. It began in a fairly raucous manner, but the keel has been righted and redemption has reared it’s beautiful head. It’ll take some doing to wade through all of the comments. It all started when Grace pointed out a blog with some stringent commenting guidelines. You need to read her post and some of the following comments, then read this amazingly gracious and humble comment from the blogger she originally pointed to and read the continuing conversation from there.


Last, there’s a discussion going on in various places that I’m aware of in the blogosphere concerning standards for modesty. I had some things to say on the issue but they were edited out of recognition in one place because of the mores of the blogger. I won’t comment on that except to say that it’s a shame because that editing controlled the direction of the conversation. Here’s my take on modesty … unedited except by me … Standards of modesty are almost purely cultural. There have been times when a woman’s ankles were considered provocative. Other times when it was her forearms. During the Napoleonic era and AnteBellum era the breast was not nearly as sexually charged as it is now, so it was considered quite fashionable (and not a sexual statement) to wear very lowcut dresses, while the legs were completely covered up. This is why it was so provocative for dance hall girls to kick their legs and reveal them for brief moments of time. See? What is perceived as provocative and/or modest changes according to custom and culture across time. My point is that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we each are responsible to Her in how we present that temple to the world. We are not sex objects. We are not evangelism toys. We are temples. We are children of God. We are creations beautifully and wonderfully made. And I’m well and thoroughly fed up with being told I must dress to please anyone but Him. In the words of Beatrix Potter, “Please sir (or madam), I am no longer in the habit of being lectured to and thankfully I no longer require your approval or anyone else’s.” (ht Bobbie)

Best of 2007 – My Personal Favorites
Jan 1st, 2008 by Sonja

Today is LightGirl’s 14th birthday. I write that in a much more understated manner than I feel. What the h e double hockeysticks happened? Where did the time go? How did thirteen whole years go by so fast? Why is she wearing so much makeup? So many, many questions with no answers. I feel all gulpy inside. Some days I want to hold her close and make certain that nothing bad ever happens. Most days I know that’s not possible; I have to know that she has a good head on her shoulders, a sprout of faith, and the best I can do as her mom is to prepare her to handle life with grace and aplomb. The rest is up to her. But I still feel all gulpy inside.

So … in order to deal with that feeling of gulpyness here is a list of my personal favorites from last year. These are not necessarily the posts that got the most hits (in fact some of them barely got any), or the most comments (again, most of them got zero), but they are my favorites because they are the posts that I still think about. I may revisit these ideas this year in other forms, you never know …

On The Ways of Geese – perspectives on leadership
Losing Ground – decision making
My Vision – for faith communities
Shavuot-The Feast of Pentecost the Megillah of Ruth
Slice It, Dice It, Anyway You Want It … social, cultural constructs for looking at the Bible
Book Review – Organic Community – surprise! A book review.
Christendom? Post-Christendom? – a look at labels.
Critique, Criticism and the Gong Show – what’s love got to do with it?
On Creating Space – what do hockey and church have in common?
Living Within The System and Non-Violence – a look at living in the world but not being of it.
Good Gifts – every parent desires to give good gifts, but what are they?

Changing the World
Nov 14th, 2007 by Sonja

As some of you might know I’m married to a shutter bug. LightHusband has been known to take a photo or two. In another life he was once rather affectionately (or so we thought) known as “The Sniper” because of his delight in snapping photos. Now he takes literally thousands of pictures of hockey players. Those that play with the LightChildren that is. He does a great job with it too. Enough so that when the “professional” came to take the team photos this year, I took secret delight at the high standards the hockey moms and dads had for him … that had been set by LightHusband.

In any case, when Brother Maynard mentioned that he’d found a website of 100 photographs that had changed the world, I was intrigued to say the least.  I wanted to see these photographs that had managed to change the world.  Because I’m always interested in the things that can change the world.

It was, in any case, the Life website and the 100 photographs that their photographers had taken that had changed the world … in their estimation.  The introduction and their rationale is well worth the read.  The photographs themselves are revealing and stunning.  They trace a bunch of our shared history for the past 150 years … that period of time during which we have had photography available to us.  It is a site that I really cannot recommend enough.

Here is the thought that kept echoing through my head and I cannot shake.  It hasn’t given me nightmares … yet.  But I’m bereft with it.  These photographs that changed the world.  I’m not so certain that it was the photographs that did the changing … it was that they captured the moment that a change began.  And here is the thing that causes my soul to quake … was how many of those moments were moments of utter and depraved violence.  They captured the worst moments of evil and depravity.  Some of the photographs are seemingly innocent.

There is the photograph of the first “Marlboro Man.”  I never knew he was originally a real cowboy, a foreman on a 320,000 acre ranch in northern Texas.  He rode into town once a week for storebought shave.  But there is violence underneath that photo … the violence of using a human as an icon to make money on addiction and ultimately death.

There is the “Earthrise” photo … capturing the moment the earth rises over the horizon of the moon during the one of the trips to the moon in the late 60’s.  It remains one of the most beautiful photos ever taken.  But we still do not know the effects of our pollution when taken into the realms of outer space.  We take it there and blithely dump it as we did for so many decades into our oceans thinking they were limitless.

Take only photographs and leave only footprints … is that truly possible?  Can we really leave only footprints behind?  Or do we make more of an impact on our environment than that.  I wonder about the implications of the curses in Genesis 3.  What did God mean by them?  How far down have we gone?  Can we ever change the world?

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