On Being Free
Nov 11th, 2010 by Sonja

As one of the three women who work together to get the synchroblog going each month, it’s really pitiful that here I am … bringing up the rear in November.  But something was stopping me from writing this month.  Oh, I have plenty to say on the topic (Voices of the Marginalized) and there were/are many directions I felt I could take.  Yet every time I wanted to write, I couldn’t.  There was a time when I would have fretted and fussed.  Sat down and made something up.  But if I’ve learned anything over the last five or six years, I’ve learned how to wait.  How to be patient.  How to let things percolate and bubble to the surface.  And last night as I was drifting off to sleep, I finally knew what to write about.  So here I am this morning … a couple days late, and a couple dollars short.  I hope you find it worthy.

Marginalization results in an individual’s exclusion from meaningful participation in society and it’s source is many. Economic circumstances, illness, disability, geographical location, gender, sexuality, race, religion are all dominant sources of individuals being marginalized. Sometimes it’s easy to see holidays or certain systems from a position of power or privilege. * As God’s people, what does it mean to see the world through the eyes of the marginalized?

  • What is it like to be one of the marginalized?
  • How can we be part of bridging some of these gaps?

Here in the LightHouse we’ve been discussing some particularly knotty extended family issues over the last week or so.  This has been an ongoing conversation that has ebbed and flowed around work schedules, hockey schedules, and our emotional barometers.  We have worked it around to a place where we realized we are not free to say, “No, this or that will not work for us.” within this relationship.  Well, I suppose we are free to say that, but the emotional damage to the relationship will be very high.  In order to maintain the relationship, we are required to affirm the other party’s desires, no matter what else is going on with us.

It struck me as I was drifting off to sleep last night, that this is the quintessential difference between those who are in and those who are marginalized.  Those who are in have power, are equals and may say yes or no to whatever they please.  They have the freedom to choose their lives and their horizons.  Those who have been pushed to the edges do not have this freedom, they are required to say yes in order to maintain their relationship with those in power around them.  Their choices/our choices are then limited by what they are given to say yes to.  A relationship between equals will allow negotiation; it will allow for a yes OR a no.  A relationship between a powerful and a powerless will only allow for a yes and negotiation will be minimal at best.

What this means is that those who are marginalized in our country are not free.  They are bound by invisible bonds.  The ties are tightly woven and they are kept in place (in some cases over generations) just as surely as those of a plantation owner in the Antebellum South.  We tell ourselves that now we no longer capitalize on human suffering, but is that really true?  Perhaps if we took a different perspective on the relationship of power and wealth vs. poverty, we might begin to see how much of our power grid really does still capitalize on human suffering; on some humans having less than others and on a zero-sum paradigm of the world.

And as I was thinking all of this through, I remembered the words of the Apostle Paul again, in the letter to the church at Galatia:

All of you are God’s children because of your faith in Christ Jesus. And when you were baptized, it was as though you had put on Christ in the same way you put on new clothes. Faith in Christ Jesus is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman. (Gal. 3:26-28)

That is the gospel of freedom.  That we would all be free to make our yes be yes and our no be no.  To be equal with one another.  That in the end, our relationships with one another will not be driven by who is powerful and who is powerless, but by love.  And our mission during our brief stint here is bring the Kingdom to the dusty corners that we find.  Help those in our path see new horizons and find ways to speak; to say no when they need to and yes only when they want to.  To have healthy relationships based on love, rather than warped relationships based on fear or power.

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As I wrote above, this is a synchroblog post, and no synchroblog would be complete without a list of juicy links for you to read at the end.  Please take some time to read what others have written on this important subject.  Thanks!

The Cat Is Climbing Out of the Bag
Jan 2nd, 2009 by Sonja

Cat Almost Out Of Bag - MTIf you’ve been reading me during the last couple of weeks, I’ve alluded to something being up.  That I’ve been busy with a big project.  It’s really big.  It’s a tribe.  Missional Tribe.

And the cat is climbing out of the bag.  Bill (Kinnon) has been writing about it.  Rick (Blind Beggar) Meigs has been writing about it.  Peggy (Virtual Abbess) Brown has been writing about it.  The rest of my fellow Instigators (Brother Maynard, Kingdom Grace, and Brad -FuturistGuy- Saargent) have been more demure.

Our beta test period is almost done.  Our virtual space is going live on Epiphany.  January 6.  Be looking for Missional Tribe then.

Missional Tribe is a social networking space with a purpose.  As Rick wrote:

It is a space for “… those involved in any aspect of the missional movement can gather for virtual communitas, will launch. It is a space where story and praxis is given emphasis over the theoretical and conceptual. It is a kinship of diverse people who practice “the way of Jesus,” a way that informs and radically transforms their very being. It is a place where the great conversations around the missional paradigm can be brought together so they are evergreen and accessible.”

So … be looking for more information here early next week.  I’ll be posting more about it then.

Feelings …
Jul 29th, 2008 by Sonja

You may have noticed I haven’t been around much lately.  There’s been a bunch going on off-line and so I haven’t been on my computer as much recently.  Some of you may remember a quilting class I took almost two years ago?  Well … yesterday I finally finished the quilt top.  Almost.  I still have to put borders on it.  I have to find that fabric which is somewhere in the house.  But I finished the hard part.  The tedious part.  The part that was making me slightly nutty.

I’d learned what I needed to learn and could have moved on.  I really did not need to finish the quilt.  But I had a picture in my head that needed completion.  Of course, it was not small.  It’s never small.  These pictures are always big.  Bigger than life.  This quilt will be big enough for a queen size bed … almost.  I could have learned what I needed to learn in a wall hanging.  But that picture was not enough.  So I did an enormous quilt … it will be almost 9 feet square when I’m done.  It’s an old habit of mine …

My grandfather (on my father’s side) used to look at my plate at the end of a meal and say, “Hmmm … it looks to me as though your eyes were bigger than your stomach again.”  And left me to puzzle it out.  He was forever saying mysterious things like that.  He couldn’t just say, “Shut the door, please.”  He’d say, “Put the wood in the hole.”  Then us kids would sit there in a puzzlement while he grinned like the Cheshire Cat.  He’d hand out hints like lollipops, slowly and one at a time, until we figured it out.

All of that is to say, I’ve been taking on things that are perhaps too big and too much all my life.  My eyes are bigger than my stomach.  I don’t know when to quit.  I’m learning though the lessons have been hard, hard won and slow.  So I’ve been sewing a lot lately.  And a lot of the sewing has been of the tedious nature.  Repetitive.  There are parts of quilt-making that I love and other parts I endure.  The sewing tiny bits part, I endure because of the end result … which can be spectacular.  There is a zen to it, to be sure, but sometimes it’s just boring.  So I have the television on for distraction.

Now, if I’m going to have the television on … it has to be certain shows.  Basically, it has to be a show that I’m really not terribly interested in, so that I can just listen along but not get too distracted.  Otherwise, I’ll stop sewing and pay attention to what’s on the television.  TNT is a good network for me to have on … they have on shows that I can listen to, but not actively watch (mostly).  Especially on weekday afternoons.  Two hours of Law & Order, then two hours of Charmed, then dinner mixed in with more Law & Order in the evening and I get a lot of sewing in.

Charmed (if you’ve never seen it) was a show on WB (which is now defunct),  … about three witches who were good witches and fought demons.  They were sisters.  There was a whole mythology surrounding them.  Alyssa Milano played one of them (Phoebe, the other two were named Piper and Paige[sometimes] and Prue [in the beginning]).  Now if you find anything concerning magic offensive, you won’t like this show.  I find it a great way to have spiritual conversations with my kids.

A couple of days ago one of the episodes was quite interesting.  The sisters had grown very weary of fighting demons (it’s the last year of the series) and want to have a “normal” life.  I find this desire interesting since they were born to fight demons, so for them they have a normal life.  But that’s another blog post.  In any case, events have transpired so that they have tipped the balance of power in the world almost entirely to good with the help of some beings called “avatars.”   However, there are still a very few people who still have some latent anger that they can’t cope with and those people are simply “disappeared” by the avatars.  Here’s the interesting thing.  When that happens, those who love the people who “disappear” don’t grieve, they just go about their business a little bit blue and say things like, “Well, it’s for the best, you know s/he is in a better place after all.”

Two of the three sisters lost someone they loved; one of them lost her husband who has been a fixture on the show for the entire series.  He planned it as part of the way to tip the scales back.  Because by now he and the third sister have realized that having everything good has unleashed a set consequences that they knew nothing about (the “avatars” are not good and all, you see).   Now the third sister, Phoebe, has to get Piper and Paige to realize that they are not feeling anything. She has to make them understand that feelings are important.  She eventually does this and casts a spell to give them their feelings back.  The scene that followed as they embraced grief was astonishing and well done.

The whole episode made me think about our church and our culture.  How much do we value feelings?  How much do we value showing an even temper in the worst of times?  How many times have you heard someone say “after all s/he is in a better place” in the face of the death of a loved one?  with a brave, wavery chin?  We try so hard to find a silver lining in all of our clouds that we don’t feel the rain on our faces.   How can we feel and embrace those feelings?  How can we love each other in the midst of life’s rollercoaster which can often put us at odds with one another?  This makes it all terribly difficult … but then … we were never told that the way would be easy.  Just narrow.

Take a minute, and feel the rain on your face.  Be unafraid and unashamed, for the God of all comfort will be with you even unto the end of the age.

Unwritten

Shall We Dance – Perichoresis v. Hierarchy
Jun 30th, 2008 by Sonja

PDL Banner

One of the places I follow along loosely is Porpoise Diving Life.  The editor is Bill Dahl.  He’s a very interesting guy with a neat purpose for the site.  But he needed to take this year off and do some writing, reading and growing.  So he asked around for some help to keep things going.  I think it’s been a great success.  Each month a different person has stepped forward to take the helm and organize the content.  The result has been startling, refreshing and riveting.  Like the difference between cold clear mountain spring water and fizzy sassy mineral water.  Both taste wonderful and slake your thirst, but they have a remarkably different feel in your mouth.

Patrick Oden (of Dual Ravens) and I decided that we’d handle the wheel for month of August.  Patrick is also the author of  It’s A Dance, a wonderful conversation about perichoresis … the dance of relationship between the Trinity and us.  I fell in love with the book.  Then I read The Shack and we had visions of doing something that would cross-pollinate the two books.  But that never took off.  So we’re focusing, instead, on the differences between perichoresis and hierarchy.  And best of all … we need you.  Yep.  You.  You with the great ideas, poems, photos, stories, articles, etc.

You see it’s like this:

The Trinity is hard to understand.  It’s far too complex to have been made up, and no where do we have it explained to us with any kind of absolute understanding. We’re faced with the fact there’s one God, and yet there is the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  They’re all different.  But there’s only one God.  Unity and Diversity.  Three in One.  How does this work?  Well, there have been a lot of suggestions over the centuries.  The latest prevailing attitude has been to see the Trinity as a hierarchy. The Father, then the Son, then the Spirit.  But that’s not quite right, because there’s a lot of discussion in Scripture that doesn’t make it all that neat.  The Father gives all his authority to the Son, who sends the Spirit, who had already sent the Son.  It’s unusual.

Add to this the fact it’s not the kind of relationship we’re used to dealing with in organizations. They love each other. It’s the love and the relationship that is the bond. God is love. There’s no intimidation or manipulation or ambition or dissension. There’s just relationship.  And this kind of relationship has been given a name. Perichoresis.  Basically this is a big word to say something not that hard to understand, but almost impossible to live.  Instead of being a hierarchy, the persons in the Trinity are continually circling around each other, interwoven, interdependent, interpenetrating. Or to put it more simply… the relationship is kinda like a dance.

When the idea of hierarchy really was getting attention it was thought that churches should be modeled on this.  So, churches became about authority. From Father to Jesus to Apostles to Pope to Bishops to Priests to the People.  Some churches are still like this either explicitly or implicitly.

Notice who is left out. The Holy Spirit.  Paul tells us the Holy Spirit works in all of us, and makes a very interesting metaphor.  We’re not a hierarchy.  We’re a body.  Yes, Jesus is the head. But we, the Church, are to be a body. Gathered together in unity, expressing the diversity of the Spirit who works through all of us in different ways.  We too are a unity and diversity.   However, we still aren’t comfortable with that. The Trinity doesn’t have sin or ambition.  We do.  In our gathered communities we still tend to manipulate or seek authority or otherwise intimidate others and try to prove we’re somehow better. This seems worth considering.  Not leadership or organization topics. Rather ‘dance’ versus ‘power and manipulation’.  Perichoresis versus hierarchy and power.  This isn’t only something for those high in the hierarchy to consider.  We all face this.  We all use the tools at our disposal to gain an advantage, stand out, and sometimes push others down and aside.

When we use the tools at our disposal to engage in power and manipulation to subdue others in our presence … by whatever means, we are negating the power of the Gospel in the very space that the Gospel is to be transcendent.   So … how should we dress, act, engage? Well … that’s up to you and your particular dance with the Holy Spirit. See, none of us is the same. The rules are all the same, yet they’re all different. All we can do is ask questions of each other … where do you live? How do your neighbors dress?  What is your context?  What are the local standards? What is welcoming amongst them? How do you create a welcoming environment in your space, where you are free to proclaim the Good News to people so they will hear it from you?”

Please consider writing, musing, considering music, church liturgy, and other forms of God’s call in our lives that has been distorted by grabbing power rather than dancing with the Trinity.  We’d love to have articles, poems, stories, videos, paintings, photos,  … anything that you create that speaks about the Dance.

If you feel that that tug on your sleeve calling you to join us, please let me know in the comments and I’ll get in contact with you with more details about the whole process.

The Clothes Make The (Wo)Man
Jun 9th, 2008 by Sonja

This photo is from the on-line gallery of Phillip Toledano (thanks to fellow Scriber, Ben).
Fashion

Sit with that photo for a minute. Allow your emotions to bubble up and give them names. Let them have their own stories just for a moment or so. See what those stories might be, if you don’t just shove the emotions down or wave them aside or tell them what to do.

Now, think for a moment about how intimidated you feel when standing in the presence of someone who is dressed “to the nines.” How intimidated you feel when you walk into a room or space and suddenly you realize … you are not dressed the same as everyone else there. You’ll never be able to dress like everyone else there.

Now you have the sense of modesty that Paul was trying to instill in Timothy when he wrote, “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” His concern was not for sexual purity, but that the women would set a tone of hospitality and welcoming.

Our clothes tell people something about us. They tell a story about who we are before people ever get to know us. When we use those clothes to engage in power and manipulation to subdue others in our presence … by whatever means, we are negating the power of the Gospel in the very space that the Gospel is to be transcendent.

So … how should we dress? Well … that’s up to you and your particular dance with the Holy Spirit. See, none of us is the same. The rules are all the same, yet they’re all different. All we can do is ask questions of each other … where do you live? How do your neighbors dress? What are the local standards? What is welcoming amongst them? How do you create a welcoming environment in your space, where you are free to proclaim the Good News to people so they will hear it from you?

That Gender Thing (Again)
Mar 31st, 2008 by Sonja

Married To The Sea

marriedtothesea.com

Well … that’s pretty damn offensive, isn’t it?  Grabs you right by the lapels, shakes you up … and screams in your face.  But it doesn’t happen in the Protestant Church, so it’s meaningless for us … right?  We can laugh at it and go home.  Those foolish Catholics … if only they’d let their priests get married, they wouldn’t abuse children anymore … they could have sex when they wanted to.

I’ve got some news for you.  It’s not about whether or not the priests get married.  Child molesting is almost always about power.  It’s about institutions.  It’s about turf wars.  We have the same problems painted in different colors here in Protestant-land.

Keeping women out of the priesthood, out of teaching, fighting these gender wars … it’s about power.  It’s about institutions and it’s about turf wars.  You can layer the color on as thick as you want, but the base problem is that the men who are in power do not want to share.  For them it has become a zero-sum game and when women win, they lose.  They cannot see any other outcome.

Most of the battles currently being fought in the Church are ultimately about control.  They are about who will control the information.  Who will control the people.  Who will control access to God.  What a mind-rape.  It’s offensive and bears the mark of being against God, if I’m not mistaken.

God does not manipulate.  She is not overbearing.  He does not beat us up.  God is love … anything else is a clanging gong (have you ever heard one?  It will bend you double in pain).  God is love.

I Have A Dream …
Feb 9th, 2008 by Sonja

Those are some famous words, spoken to outline a deeply held and righteous dream of a culture. Many of us have dreams that are not so famous. Yet just as closely held. They speak of who we are and who we are meant to be. My beloved grandfather used to tell me, “If you never have a dream, you’ll never have a dream come true.” So I used to dream big dreams and hold them close, believing for sure that at least one would come true some day. None of them did. As the years went my dreams grew smaller and smaller and now I don’t bother much at all. I have a few scattered hopes left, but my dreams … well.

Late last year you may recall that I read and reviewed It’s A Dance by Patrick Oden. There’s a link to the book in my sidebar (over to the left there and down a little). I was quite enamoured by it. You can read my review here. Over the past year or so Patrick and I have developed a good cyber-friendship and corresponded with some regularity.

Shortly after It’s A Dance, I read The Shack by William P. Young. Now The Shack has gotten a much wider acclaim than IAD, so I did not write a review and I may not have even mentioned it here. However, I was deeply moved by it and am reading it a second time. What struck me though, was how much the two books were alike. The authors knew nothing about one another … nothing at all. I know that there are very few people who have read both books. Certainly very very few who read them back to back as I did.

Slowly, an idea was born that somehow the two books or the ideas in them, or the authors … or somehow in someway they needed to be together. But I kept putting the idea away. Because it was is impossible. I know Patrick. I don’t know Mr. Young. Don’t know him from a hole in the ground. And I’ve got no background with which to talk to him. No entree, so to speak.

Then the impossible became probable. Today, through a series of far out events, I am going to meet William (Paul) Young at the home of a friend. Sort of. The friend of a friend (whom I have met before and know) is having an open house and the guests of honor are Mr. Young and Wayne Jacobsen (another of my heroes). I don’t know if anything will come of this. Or if my hope is a silly hope. But if you read this and it crosses your mind today, I’d appreciate the prayers.

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.

(Un)Conditional Love? (part 2 in my series)
Jan 13th, 2008 by Sonja

(Part 2 in my series … Part 1 is here at Pushing My Own Envelope.  I don’t know yet whether or not there will be a part 3 or more, I’m waiting on the muse for that.)

One night a few weeks ago, we all snuggled down together as a family and watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation together. I had truly forgotten how obnoxiously hilarious that movie is. But there was one character who had completely fallen off my radar screen. Aunt Bethany. Remember her? She was the elderly aunt who showed up on Christmas Eve having wrapped up her cat as a gift. Yeah, I’d left her behind too. I looked her up a minute ago, the actress who played her was the same lady who played the voice of Olive Oyl in all the Popeye cartoons for 30 years.

In the movie no one quite knew what to do with her. The actress did a marvelous job with her part, prompting LightBoy to comment that it must have been fun to play that role. This was my favorite scene. Clark reveled in having the family together for Christmas Eve dinner. Everyone gathered round the beautifully set table, dressed, and primped. He did honor to his aunt by asking her to bless the meal:

Her response is priceless. She knows what to do … sort of. When told that she is the speaker, she then knows that something important should be spoken, so she gathered all of her wits and recited. She recited the first thing that came to mind. The Pledge of Allegiance.

Clark was devastated. My heart broke for him. He wanted a blessing. He wanted blessing on the food, on the day, on the family, and most of all on him. He wanted to know that he was loved. But Eddie, well, Eddie the hick … he knew how to respond. He stood up and clapped his hand right over his heart, his whole body ramrod straight at attention. Yep. Say the Pledge and Eddie knows what to do. No one else quite did though. They did not know where to put their eyes. There were some uncomfortable wiggles. Sideways glances. Then everyone settled in and accepted the Pledge of Allegiance as the blessing for Christmas dinner.

When she done, Aunt Bethany smiled shyly at a job well done and Clark began to cut the turkey. And that was yet another disaster neatly averted.

You have to feel sort of sorry for Clark. He’s clearly going insane straining against increasing odds to pull off some sort of Norman Rockwell Christmas for his family … capped by a swimming pool gift at the end. He’s giving himself a serious case of post-traumatic stress disorder and most of it is caused by his own set of expectations.

As I watched and later reflected on the film, I wondered how the story would have changed if Clark had just gone with it. In some cases, he did. As he did with the blessing to hilarious results. But in real life (irl) we don’t. We call this planning. We plan for things so that there won’t be snafus or messes to clean up. We don’t want people to be exposed to the Aunt Bethany’s and the Eddie’s of real life, so we plan and give out scripts …

We explain our expectations to people so that they can meet them. We script life, worship, events, parties, etc. so that when the time comes for a blessing we don’t get the Pledge of Allegiance or something equally messy. Real people misunderstand what is expected and/or asked of them in critical moments and they make mistakes. But here’s the thing … our culture has zero tolerance for mistakes. We have a zero tolerance for reality; for the texture and nuance of human-ness.

This is why movies like Christmas Vacation remain at such icon status. We laugh and wonder why no one is like this anymore. Reality television is a huge hit because mistakes get you “voted off the island.” Err at work, and there are hundreds more like you to hire in your place. Mess up in a relationship? Your significant other will find someone new. There are other friends, other relationships out there. Make a mistake, and you’re gone, done, finished, finito. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Church. Why … it’s Biblical to vote people off the island, doncha know? Just cover your behind by making certain that they’re unrepentant.

No wonder so many people are taking pills to cope. I heard just the other day of yet another friend taking up the pill train of anti-depressants and another friend who is investigating the possibility. A sister-in-law is on them and another ought to be but isn’t. I do not have enough fingers to count the friends who take them. Maybe I need to use my toes too.

As I consider this intersection of culture, expectation and reality I begin to wonder how it effects our emotional state. (Or is that affect? I never get that right.) We are in many, many respects a culture devoid of grace. We talk about love, but we have none. We talk about tolerance, but there is none. The roots of so very many of our problems may be found in a lack of love, respect and honor for our fellow human beings as individuals. We talk about large groups, but we cannot get along as neighbors on a cul de sac or street corner.

The other day I wrote about hope being necessary to the process of peace in Kenya and many other “hot spots” world wide.  But I’m beginning to wonder … I think hope may also need to be restored here at home too.  I think hope may look different for us.  Hope looks like clean drinking water, food, education and liberation in Africa.  Here, hope looks like real tolerance, and unconditional love, and acceptance of a messy blessing on Christmas Eve.

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?

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