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.

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

Won’t Get Fooled Again (July Synchroblog – God’s Politics)
Jul 22nd, 2008 by Sonja

Won’t Get Fooled Again … The Who

first recorded 1971, the above was filmed in 1978, lyrics below:

We’ll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgment of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again

The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that’s all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain’t changed
‘Cause the banners, they were all flown in the last war

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
No, no!

I’ll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I’ll get all my papers and smile at the sky
Though I know that the hypnotized never lie
Do ya?

Yeah!

There’s nothing in the streets
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Is now parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again
No, no!

Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

Well, by now you’re thinking that the old girl’s finally done it … she’s gone completely off her rocker.  Left her last marble far behind.  What on earth does this classic rock song have to do with politics and God and the election of 2008?  For me … everything.  It’s the refrain echoing in the air, just out of hearing, every time I hear a person of faith speak about politics these days.

Here’s a short course in US politics.  This country is not democracy.  We have a republic.  That is, we elect representatives to enact our (the people’s) will in terms of laws and spending.   In a true democracy, we would all come together to do this ourselves.  We would all vote directly on every single piece of legislation that Congress currently votes on.  So we have what is known as representative government.  See how easy that is?  We speak through our representatives.  At the federal level, this means our Congressional representatives (based on state population) and our Senators (2 from each state).  The congressional representatives (legislative branch) are up for election every 2 years, the senators every six.  In the mean time, we also elect a president (the executive branch of the government) every four years.  Now, to complete the system of checks and balances, our Founders threw in the judicial branch of the government; the Supreme Court.  The justices are appointed by a sitting president and serve for life and/or until retirement … whichever comes first.  The Supreme Court oversees the laws enacted by the legislative and executive branches to ensure that those laws are within the scope of the Constitution.  Likewise each of the other branches have veto power over the other two.  No one branch of the government has enough power to run things on their own.  All three must get along with each other in order for our government to continue functioning.  They all three simultaneously hold a carrot and a stick for each other.

If you look around you, you will see a similar pattern echoed in your state and local governments as well.  Three branches (executive, legislative and judicial) each simultaneously holding a carrot and a stick for the other two.  They will have different names at different levels, but you look; they’re there.  This is because our founding parents (don’t fool yourselves, the wives had a lot of influence on the men), were profoundly persuaded of the notion that humans need governance of themselves and of their worst inclinations in order to provide space and the ability to bring out their best inclinations.  In other words, if one could curb the greed for power with a system of checks and balances it might be possible to allow the best side human nature to blossom.

So that’s the short course on political systems in our country.  I hold a bachelor’s degree in political science and international studies and have been fascinated by study of politics from a young age.  I’ve been intrigued by politics and movements the way some people watch soap operas.  What will happen next and the speculation is a source of endless enchantment for me.

I’ve begun seeing posts here and there lately which encourage Christians especially those attempting to find a new way in the world to think about not voting in the coming election.  This is cloaked in language which helps those people feel subversive, powerful in meekness, and even Biblical.  Here’s the thing though … it’s none of those things.  Not voting is losing your voice and it’s playing right into the hands of the empire.  Here are my thoughts on why Christians should vote and vote carefully in each election.

My first thoughts are that all Christians need to take a course in critical thinking.  This is critical.  As an adult convert (at the age of 30) who went to a regular liberal arts college and learned the art of critical thinking and discourse, I have been regularly appalled at the lack of critical thinking that I see amongst the brethren and sistren.   It is why so many are now so bitterly disillusioned with President Bush.  Those of us who are critical thinkers saw him for who he was back in 1999; a charlatan.  But most Christians only heard what they wanted to hear in 2000 and again in 2004.  Having done that, and been so badly burned they seem unwilling to trust any politician again.

They need to listen for themselves and read for themselves what the candidates are saying.  Do not rely on the media reports … do not rely on Fox News or CNN or anyone else.  The internet is rife with the ability to get the speeches whole cloth.  Do this for yourself.  All you have to do is get one or two of the whole speeches and you will have enough to have the tenor of the candidate.  For instance,hen the story broke about Barak Obama’s pastor (Dr. Wright), I searched YouTube until I found his entire sermon and found the little bitty clips in context.  They meant something then and were not nearly as offensive.  If you know anything about the African-American church in this country, then you can understand where they came from.  If you don’t, then shame on you.  You have some homework to do.

Christians also need to understand the political process in such a way as to get beyond a single issue or even two issues.  Politicians, especially at the national level, must be more nuanced than that.  However, those same politicians are not above using and abusing naive voter blocks who may be lead around by the nose with a few well-chosen words.  We also need to understand the milieu in which we live.  We need to understand the vast difference between Israel of 4000 years ago and the United States of now.  There are some similarities, but we are NOT God’s chosen people.  Nor is this God’s chosen country.  It is different.

Here is the point I’d like to make the strongest.  We are not electing a king.  Ever since the time of Samuel (1Samuel 8:4-8) the people have been asking for a king.  When Jesus came as Messiah no one recognized him because they were looking for royalty and He was a peasant.  Now today in our country even those not in the church are still trying to elect a king every four years.  We try … every time … we keep looking for that savior who will make the country right again.  This time, this vote, is going to set us on the right path.  And it never happens.  It never will.  We are eternally disenchanted.  Every four years we keep waiting for a coronation, but we have an inauguration and we’re let down once again.  Because we do not have a king.

That’s a good thing.  We have checks and balances on aristocratic power and authority.  We, the people, have a voice.  As Thomas Jefferson wrote:

“Governments, wherein the will of every one has a just influence… has its evils,… the principal of which is the turbulence to which it is subject. But weigh this against the oppressions of monarchy, and it becomes nothing. Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietam servitutem. [I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.] Even this evil is productive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of government, and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs.” –Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787. ME 6:64″

“… nourishes a general attention to the public affairs.”  You see that’s the most important part of the quote.  In order for our republic to function, it requires a general attention to public affairs.  That means more than voting.  We cannot simply vote and walk away from the process, thinking our job is done.  Even so look at the statistics from the last presidential election:

In the presidential election of November 2004, the 64 percent of voting-age citizens who voted was higher than the 60 percent who turned out in 2000 (Table A).2 This was the highest turnout in a presidential election year since 1992, when 68 percent of voting-age citizens voted.3 The overall number of people who voted in the November 2004 election was 126 million, a record high for a presidential election year. Voter turnout increased by 15 million voters from the election in 2000. During this same 4-year period, the voting-age citizen population increased by 11 million
people.

The registration rate of the voting-age citizen population, 72 percent, was higher than the 70 percent registered in the 2000 election. The last presidential election year to have a higher registration rate was 1992, when 75 percent of voting-age citizens were registered to vote. Total registration in the November 2004 election was 142 million citizens, an increase of 12.5 million registered citizens since the 2000 election.

That’s pitiful.  Not even 2/3’s of the voting population in 2004.  And if you read the full report the breakdown of the statistics is even worse.  When you begin looking at age, education, and race the numbers are incredulous.  Those who use their voice in our country are white, rich, well-educated … and old.

It’s a self-selecting voice though.  We all have this voice.  Every single one of us.  Every race.  Every gender.  Education level doesn’t matter.  Hell, you don’t even have to be able to read.  The empire is hoping that these trends will continue.  Evil despises change.  And if Christians bow out now we will allow evil to have it’s way.

The really subversive and Biblical thing to do?

  1.   Read the report I linked to above; here it is again called Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2004  
  2. Pay special attention to portions devoted to who did NOT vote.
  3. Get involved in voter registration drives for the other (that would be uneducated folks, hispanics, african-americans, anyone who doesn’t look like you)
  4. Help someone get to the polls on election day … maybe help more than one

These are the ways that we work against getting fooled again. Just bowing out of the system or not thinking about it ensures that evil wins … again. And the new boss will be the same as the old boss. Like or not, we do owe a few pennies to Ceasar as well as some to Jesus.

UPDATE:  The discussion here got far too personal and filled with ugly slurs that are not becoming for those who claim to follow or be disciples of Jesus Christ.  Because those who were participating in the conversation cannot seem to restrain themselves, I’ve closed comments.  7:30 EST July 23, 2008

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This is a synchroblog … here is a list of others who wrote about this fascinating subject today

Phil Wyman at Phil Wyman’s Square No More
Lainie Petersen at Headspace
Jonathan Brink enters The Political Fray
Adam Gonnerman explains The Living Christ’s Present Reign
Sonja Andrews at Calacirian
Mike Bursell at Mike’s Musings
Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes
Steve Hayes on God’s Politics
Matthew Stone at Matt Stone Journeys in Between
Steve Hollinghurst at On Earth as in Heaven
KW Leslie tells us about God’s Politics
Julie Clawson is Singing the Songs of Zion in Babylon
Dan Stone at The Tense Before
Alan Knox asks Is God Red, Blue, or Purple?
Beth Patterson at The Virtual Teahouse
Erin Word discusses Hanging Chad Theology

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.

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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

Missonal Synchroblog
Jun 14th, 2008 by Sonja

Blind Beggar (Rick Meigs) has put out a call for a synchroblog on Monday, June 23 to discuss the idea, the topic, the notion of missional. The word is losing it’s boundaries and becoming a catch-all word that people use because they think it’s the latest cool ministry word to throw around.

I’m going to add to his invitation here because he just posted the list of potential bloggers. As of now, there are 18 (eighteen). Seventeen men and me. Ladies, I’m feeling very lonely and sort of overwhelmed. Now, you know most of the men are going to post treatises that are wonderful (but long and, ahem, boring 😉 ) on definitions and complaints and they will “fix the problem.” We need to bring some balance to this mix. Some of our wonderful right-brain thinking. How do women view the concept of missional? It is a highly relational term. Hello!! This is our ballpark, jump in and write your thoughts on that concept. If you want to use poetry, or story or have a video … all the sweeter.

So, my girl friends, please either visit Rick’s blog to sign up and let him know you are participating or let me know in the comments and I will keep a list here for him.

Human Wrongs (May Synchroblog – Bloggers Unite For Human Rights)
May 15th, 2008 by Sonja

Bloggers UniteThis month we Synchrobloggers have joined forces with Bloggers Unite For Human Rights and are blogging about our thoughts concerning a Christian response to humanly inspired evil in the world.

As I thought about this topic over the past couple of weeks, I wanted to simply use Jesus’ words about murder, lust and love in His most famous Sermon showing us His glimmering, shining Kingdom on a Hill. But those have been twisted over the intervening centuries. And lost their power to those who will not hear.

I thought about using Paul’s words as he echo’s Jesus. But those too have been mangled and lost over the interveningcenturies. They have been dulled to those who will not hear.

I thought about using Peter’s words as he too was shown the way of Jesus … made vulnerable in a harsh and cold world. But that way has been lost in the tangle of overgrown vines, stubbly rocks and slippery mud.

We cannot hear the clarion call of freedom, we cannot see the tear stained faces of broken Eikons, we cannot smell the top of a new born baby’s head … the hope and the freedom there, we cannot taste the rain on our tongues anymore. Of what good is the Gospel to us? If it is no good to us, then of what good is it to anyone? If we are unwilling to bring freedom to all, then we ourselves are bound up with those who are in chains.

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Please check out what these other bloggers have written on this worthy subject:

Justice is Holy – April Synchroblog
Apr 16th, 2008 by Sonja

I could write a lot on this. But my observation is that there are two main branches of Christian action. There is the personal holiness branch, which is characterized by the legalistic how to remain pure and upright before the Lord activities, and there is the social justice branch, which is characterized by how to do good works. The twain do not meet. Nor do they look one another in the eye. One tends to be quite conservative, the other quite liberal. They also call each other nasty names in private, when no one is listening. Or so they think.

There is a problem though. Both parts are necessary for a holistic walk with Jesus. I don’t think it is possible to be personally holy without concern for social justice. Nor can one have concern for social justice without personal holiness. I think it was best said by David Thewlis in the movie, “Kingdom of Heaven,” in conversation with Orlando Bloom:

Hospitaller: I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of god. I have seen too much religion in the eyes of too many murderers. Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What god desires is here
[points to head]
Hospitaller: and here
[points to heart]
Hospitaller: and what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man – or not.


Holiness is in right action and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves …

Who are those who cannot defend themselves? Why … interestingly, they are those who benefit from social justice ministries; women, children, single moms, impoverished, immigrants … the lowly and down-trodden. It is giving a cup of water to the least in society for no other reason than that it is the right thing to do. And, by the way … it is a holy act.


This post is part of a synchroblog … Here is the list of socially concerned, and maybe even active individuals who are going to be blogging together on this subject Wednesday, April 16th:

Phil Wyman at Square No More – Salem: No Place for Hating Witches
Mike Bursell at Mike’s Musings
Bryan Riley at at Charis Shalom
Steve Hayes writes about Khanya: Christianity and social justice
Reba Baskett at In Reba’s World
Prof Carlos Z. with Ramblings from a Sociologist
Cobus van Wyngaard at My Contemplations: David Bosch, Public Theology, Social Justic
Cindy Harvey at Tracking the Edge
Alan Knox at The Assembling of the Church
Matthew Stone at Matt Stone Journeys in Between
John Smulo at JohnSmulo.com
Sonja Andrews at Calacirian
Lainie Petersen at Headspace
KW Leslie: Shine: not let it shine
Stephanie Moulton at Faith and the Environment Collide
Julie Clawson at One Hand Clapping
Steve Hollinghurst at On Earth as in Heaven
Sam Norton at Elizaphanian: Tesco is a Big Red Herring

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.

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Phil Wyman at Square No More: SynchroBlog on Neo-Monasticism
Beth at Until Translucent
Adam Gonnerman at Igneous Quill
Jonathan Brink at JonathanBrink.com
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

Put A Little Love On It – February (Photo) Synchroblog
Feb 12th, 2008 by Sonja

LightUncle Cranking out some love ... or ice cream.

Crankin’ out the love.

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This post is part of the February Synchroblog. This month we’re posting photos with very little explanation. We’re leaving it up to you, the viewer, to bring your own context, perceptions and voice to this project. Below you will find a list of links of the other blogs participating this month.

As for me, I would be delighted if you’d tell me the story of this photo in my comments. Many of you know that I am married to an amateur photographer and I have access to literally thousands of photographs. But this spoke to me of love. In what ways do you see love in this photo?

Phil Wyman at Phil Wyman’s Square No More
Jenelle D’Alessandro at Hello Said Jenelle
Billy Calderwood at Billy Calderwood
Sam Norton at Elizaphanian
Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes
Mike Bursell at Mike’s Musings
Julie Clawson at One Hand Clapping
Steve Hayes at Notes from the Underground
Sonja Andrews at Calacirian
David Fisher at Be the Revolution
Erin Word at Decompressing Faith
KW Leslie at The Evening of Kent
Paul Walker at Out of the Cocoon
Reba Baskett at In Reba’s World

Fools Rush In – January Synchroblog
Jan 15th, 2008 by Sonja

As I mentioned in my earlier post, we watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation a couple weeks ago. The whole Vacation series with Chevy Chase are rapidly becoming favorites with the LightFamily.

I was struck by a number of things in this movie. As must be obvious because I can’t stop talking about it. The thing I want to write about here is both the differences between Clark and Eddie.

Clark is Mr. Suburban Everyman. He has dreams and visions life that seem to come from a combination of Norman Rockwell, Currier & Ives and advertising aimed at suburban bliss. So he plans, he works, he cuts the grass once a week. He lives the right kind of life. It’s not too competitive; that is reserved for the next door neighbors (and you’ll barely recognize Julia Louis Dreyfuss in this role). He saves for a rainy day. His wife and children know how to dress and behave. In fact, their family looks very much like many of the families populating many churches across white America. What Clark wants most for Christmas is to have his extended family around him … and his Christmas bonus to purchase an inground swimming pool for the backyard. The swimming pool will be a good investment, good stewardship as it were.

Then cousin Eddie with his wife and children show up to join the holidays. It’s a surprise.

“Surprised?” Clark says, “Why if I woke up tomorrow morning with my head sewn to the carpet I couldn’t be more surprised.”

His face and body language are all too clear … this is an unwelcome surprise. From his perspective, Eddie is a fool. And … Eddie is. Eddie hasn’t worked in ten years “… waiting on a management position.” His oldest son is not with them this Christmas. He is out in the world, starting his career … with the carnival. Next year he hopes to be a barker for the Yak Woman. Everything Eddie touches seems to get dirty or fall apart and his fashion sense made even my 10 year old boy cringe in embarrassment. As the movie progresses we discover that the family has fallen on hard times and Eddie has lost his house. They are now living in the rustbucket RV out of necessity, Santa will likely only visit Clark’s children unless Clark and his wife provide for Eddie’s children, etc.

I can’t stop thinking about Eddie. Everything about him was repulsive to me. He was stupid, illiterate, foolish, unplanned and unlearned. He slurped his eggnog. Wiped his mouth on sleeve during a more formal event when napkins were present … and was uncaring. But most of all he was a grasshopper. Think about that for a moment.

If there were a fable to describe the North American church it would be the ant and the grasshopper.

Ant and the Grasshopper

The Ant and the Grasshopper

An Aesop Fable retold by Rose Owens

One summer day a grasshopper was singing and chirping and hopping about. He was having a wonderful time. He saw an ant who was busy gathering and storing grain for the winter.

“Stop and talk to me,” said the grasshopper. “We can sing some songs and dance a while.”

“Oh no,” said the ant. “Winter is coming. I am storing up food for the winter. I think you should do the same.”

“Oh, I can’t be bothered,” said the grasshopper. “Winter is a long time off. There is plenty of food.” So the grasshopper continued to dance and sing and chip and the ant continued to work.

When winter came the grasshopper had no food and was starving. He went to the ant’s house and asked, “Can I have some wheat or maybe a few kernels of corn. Without it I will starve,” whined the grasshopper.

“You danced last summer,” said the ants in disgust. “You can continue to dance.” And they gave him no food.

Fools, or those we perceive as fools, are not suffered lightly. The Eddies of the world are given a “kick in the pants if you don’t,” as my mother used to say. But … being an ant requires that we become very, very busy. Ants are planners, builders, kingdom (with a little k) creators. North Americans, westerners, and especially western Christians aspire to be ants. We’ve made it into an art form and given it much thought. Indeed, there is an entire book of the Bible (Proverbs) devoted to admonishing us to follow the way of wisdom rather than suffer the folly of foolishness.

Have we interpreted God correctly on this? Or are we re-interpreting something which cannot be found anywhere in Scripture? God helps those who help themselves. Grasshoppers live for the moment, they fly where the wind (Spirit) takes them. They do not spend every waking, living moment planning and investing for the future when they will die. They live. Think about that … they live.

How will you live for God? As an ant or a grasshopper?

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This is part of a synchroblog on fools and calling … please read what the other grasshoppers had to say this month.

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