Monday, August 30, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
At just 165 pages there is no way Phyllis Tickle can take on the fullness of the topic of the Great Emergence, BUT I did find this book very helpful in beginning my own process of understanding what is going on and why and how it has happened before. The mark of a good book may very well be how many other reading suggestions you take from it and my queue of books about the Emergent movement now forms to the left. Next up? Moltmann... but I digress.
I found the time this book takes to restate history is time well spent. Admittedly, no one would confuse me for a scholar, but some of the connections Tickle made were needed to shed light on where we are in the arch of history. I have so many friends and colleagues who define themselves by using the term 'emergent' that it was helpful to know where in the spectrum that falls and how, in a way, this shift in religion and culture is repeating history.
Three other things I found especially helpful:
1)The dichotomy between believe-behave-belong (mainline) vs. belong-behave-believe (emergent). p. 159
2) Resistance to a new movement is actually needed. p. 139
3) When an emergence occurs, the standard bearer (my phrase) improves. p. 17
I am the Head of Staff (old model) of a large, traditional (it's all relative) congregation in the PCUSA (mainline). There are a lot of great things going on at the church, but there is nothing anyone would confuse for 'emergent'. That said, we are mission oriented and a wonderful community and growing! Where do we fit in?
Friday, August 27, 2010
Yesterday I returned my middle child for his second year of college. He's an experienced dorm resident, having spent two years at a boarding high school. In the lounge at the end of his floor I found a suite of This End Up furniture that took me back to my years in the Theta house at William and Mary. I remember polishing that furniture with my sorority sisters every spring, just before we headed off for Beach Week at Nags Head.
Mindful that many others are heading off to further schooling or delivering their loved ones to the institutions that provide it, here are five questions about dorm life.
1) What was the hardest thing to leave behind when you went away to school for the first time?
You know, if you ask my first roommate I didn't leave all too much at home. I could get philosophical and say my friends, my childhood but really I was READY to go.
My sister really has the funnier story in that when she told her roommate that a new modem was coming in the mail, she groaned and wondered where they were ever going to put that.
2) We live in the era of helicopter parents. How much fuss did your parents make when you first left home?
Please. My Mom had my room converted into a hobby/guest room before I was through Freshman orientation.
3) Share a favorite memory of living with schoolmates, whether in a dorm or other shared housing.
I lived in a dorm all four years and was Resident Advisor with my friends in the dorm my senior year. We just laughed and laughed and laughed and the nicknames and the Saturday Night Live skit reenactments can still make me crack up when I think about them.
4) What absolute necessity of college life in your day would seem hilariously out-of-date now?
A college issued phone plan, complete with the card code we had to put into our phone!
5) What innovation of today do you wish had been part of your life in college?
You know, I was going to say the internet, but I barely graduated on time as it is. :) I was very happy to be one of the few with a personal computer - not just a word processor - in my room. Thanks Mom and Dad!
Bonus question for those whose college days feel like a long time ago: Share a rule or regulation that will seem funny now. Did you really follow it then?
Hmmmmmm...... I am happy to say I don't think I'm old enough for this one. :)
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Now that the class is over I would admit that it was an 'okay' idea. CS Lewis is great and varied in his offerings. The Screwtape Letters offers a really good glimpse into the author's ability to use fiction to explain religious doctrine. Although, I hear he wrote a series of novels that do that as well (paging Aslan).
What I appreciated the most about this book was Lewis' sense of humor. His keen intellect and wit are spun perfectly together in this book written in letter format from the the perspective of one bureaucrat to a lesser-ranked bureaucrat whose business just happens to be evil.
It's a relatively quick read with short chapters that offer the reader the opportunity to either keep up the pace, reading for general story and tone, or really dive deep into the beautiful language and prose that CS Lewis uses to tell this story.
If you're looking to dive into a classic or just get to know CS Lewis from a different perspective, I highly recommend this book.
Friday, August 20, 2010
2. What is hard to let go of?
This one goes in the decluttering of the mind category - a) feeling like I am not doing enough and b) feeling like I have disappointed someone.
3. What is easy to give away?
Love. And the bonus is it usually gets returned with even more value than you gave it away.
4. Is there any kind of stumbling block connected with cleaning out?
The pure mass of incoming stuff which is only going to rise as The Boy enters Kindergarten with all of its assignments and notes home.
5. What do you like to collect, hoard, or admire?
Ummmm...... to-do lists. I collect and hoard them, I don't necessarily admire them.
Bonus: Tell us about recycling or whatever you can think of that goes along with this muttering about cluttering.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
I'm sure it can all be rationalized away, but I have found it to be a helpful and sometimes even enlightening exercise. The word I pulled right before leaving on vacation was 'play'.
Last week I went to see my Spiritual Director where a large part of our conversation was about the unease I was feeling about my position as Head of Staff. I love the church and feel called here, my concern is that:
I am not getting enough done,
I don't know enough people,
I'm not seeing far enough into the future,
I'm not being emergent/traditional/visionary/missional/hospitable/spiritual/practical enough.
Her words in return were helpful, including the words of wisdom I posted yesterday that begin with: Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
In a classic turn of 'Take my advice, I'm not using it' - I had forgotten what I have said to so many others who feel like more should be getting done in their 1st, 2nd, 3rd years of ministry - building relationships and trust takes time. I love my emergent friends, but sometimes their constant buzz in my ear has me anxious to push because I don't feel like I am doing enough. At times like these I need to remember to step away from the Twitter feed. :)
The Spiritual Director also reminded me of how much is new in my life.
New living arrangement.
New job description.
New school system.
New ways to relate.
New, new, new, new, new....
I mentioned that it was hard to find balance and contentment with all of these new things. She mentioned that in some traditions the symbol for balance is a hummingbird. A hummingbird looks balanced, but of course a closer look will show how much work is going into keeping that balance.
It was so helpful meeting with her. No easy solutions. Balance will take work. But hopefully her reminder of how much is new will be enough for not just my mind to hear, but my heart to hear also. Above all, trust in the slow work of God...
The day after meeting with her I returned to my office, I put back my previous angel card and accidentally pulled out two more instead of one. Once I read them I knew I was to keep them both and will walk with them for awhile.... trying to keep my balance, of course.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
And so I think it is with you.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
Friday, August 13, 2010
1. What is the weather like where you live?
I believe the theological term is: ass-hot.
2. Share one thing you love about this time of year.
The fresh veggies and fruit.
3. Share one thing you do NOT love about this time of year.
The hot and the humid.
4. How will you spend the remaining days leading up to Autumn?
Getting ready - mind, body and spirit - to send The Boy to full day Kindergarten in (gulp!) 2 weeks!
5. Share a good summer memory.
A recent one is our trip to the beach this summer. It was our first attempt at that type of trip with my sister and her family and it was just about everything we had hoped it would be. I look forward to many more in the future.
Bonus: What food says SUMMER to you?
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
This past spring I coached t-ball. Well, ‘coach’ is a little strong.
This past spring I told a group of five to 7 year olds in matching uniforms that they had to wait until after the game was over before they could have snack.
I am new to the parent side of the t-ball world, but previously had done my time sitting on the bleachers of my neice and nephews’ games. For me going as an aunt meant that I quickly moved past the charm of how cute those t-ballers looked in their uniforms and began to wonder how I could help those kids…. so that the game would end and we all could eat snack.
It was there that I wondered if it would make any difference to teach the kids to get into the ready position. The ready position is a baseball fundamental, where you bend your knees, balance on your toes, get your glove down and your free hand close to the glove in order to use two hands to field the ball. I thought if I could teach the kids this fundamental then whenever the ball was about to be placed on the tee, we could yell, “Ready Position!” and our meandering herd of snack feasters would turn into ballplayers.
We had mixed results. Some of the kids were really good at it. Some were good at it once you called their name… repeatedly 5 to 10 times. Some of them would instantly respond to the call to be in the ‘ready position’ no matter where they were on the field… or which way they were facing. And some of them…. well, some of them were the reason we had a rule on our team that you were not allowed to eat grass.
The most recent lectionary texts from Luke are all telling us in one way or another to get ready. I like this past Sunday's because it seemed to have a softer edge than this week's. Call me crazy, but I like the idea of the master coming home early to find the slaves ready, and then serving them a big feast. I like the idea of getting ourselves into the ready position in order to receive a blessing rather than judgment.
Being in the ready position means that our fists cannot be clenched, our arms cannot be folded, our minds cannot be shut and our hearts cannot be closed.
Are we ready?
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
- I like this slightly less spooky version of being prepared. Those passages where 2 are working in the field and one just disappears sounds like an M. Night Shyamalan plot to me. Next week's apocalypse and a passage in November pack a serious punch too. Those all have their merits to them and knowing me I won't shy away from them, but I do like this one where the reward for paying attention is a big feast with the master!
- Any feast mention in the Bible reminds me of my Dad. The man would pull up at the end of a buffet table, using his walker that had a seat on it, so that when everyone else had finally filled their plates and were getting their drink they had to set their plates down to the man gulping down potato salad.
- Do not be afraid, little flock, for it si your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. YAY!
- Sell your possessions, and give alms.... Awww, MAN!
- Two things from the Hebrews passage connect with my Luke thoughts here: First, the simple yet beautiful explanation of faith: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction o things not seen.
- And then: all of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. The passage lists Abraham and Sarah who certainly saw the promise of heirs fulfilled, but they did not see the promised land. Our faith is not be in this world, but in the God who created this world. Good theory but you cannot tell me the one time we hear about it is the only time Sarah laughed. Abraham and Sarah lived a hard, convoluted earthly kingdom life - and they were blessed!
- How often do we allow our earthly kingdom worries to have the last word?
- What is seen is not all that is.
- Again the emphasis here is on being ready, but in order to receive the blessing.
- Being ready means being open to God and the blessings that are to come.
- Being open also means being vulnerable.... hmmmm, not sure I want to go there.
- How do you feel as you watch the news? I have to turn it off. It's too gruesome. Our political climate is toxic. The body count in Afghanistan and Iraq is ever-rising and if they do come home they are not being treated well. And the horror headlines that the local news chooses to share are just heartbreaking. It seems if they can find something that happened to a child, they rush to say the words on the air. It's easy to feel that we live on the brink of disaster.
- But instead we live on the brink of blessing.
- Not sure I'll use the news ramble, it's an easy hook though. There is someone in our congregation who told us that when she doesn't like what or who she is seeing on the news she puts it on mute and prays for them.
- Back to this 'be ready' vibe. No one can be perpetually on alert. It's impossible and in fact, if you try you will end up being the exact opposite.
- I know in the early stages of sermon writing I am all about finding ANYTHING else to do other than my sermon, BUT once working on it I do reach points where I have to walk away. It is then, usually in the car or shower that the thoughts and the ideas will gel. If I had stayed hunkered over papers and laptop it never would have come.
- So is this more about keeping ourselves open to God's surprises/blessings rather than being about being hyper-vigilant?
- You can't be open and ready to receive God's blessings if your fists are clenched... if your eyes are shut... if your mind is closed.... if your heart is hardened....
- Is life about taking? Or is it about giving and receiving?
- Do I list some of the attitude.adjustments that folks might make. I usually like to leave things more open-ended than that. If I did though I might include: writing the first check to God, rather than what is leftover; create space for what is important - God, family, self; Prioritize what's important to God over what's important to the world.... Egh. Too preachy.