Welcome Home

Mad props to http://admschnder.com/ for the use of his original art. Thanks!

So I haven’t written much lately. You may have noticed. You may not have noticed. But oh well, here I am again.

Last week I went to see a production my friend was in of In The Heights. I have to tell you I was completely unprepared for my experience. My one regret is that I didn’t see it earlier in the run so I could urge more friends to go see it. As it would happen lovelies, we went to the very last performance. It was at the Rose Marine Theater in Fort Worth and it was stunning.

Before the performance the Artistic director came out and welcomed us home. He invited us to a place where we were all welcomed. We were all celebrated. We all belonged. And then, he said this, “You have friends who become family, and though you may not always be friends you will always be family.” I have rolled this around and around. And I totally get it. I was in theater and chamber singers in high school and I experienced this in that context. When you perform with people, when you pour your heart and soul into a shared emotional experiences you give and take little pieces of each other and they change you. You become family. And though I am not really day to day friends with many of these folks anymore, they are still my family. They are part of me.

Isn’t that how it is with life? We give and we take pieces of others and exchange them for pieces of ourselves and like chemistry, we become something different. When we give ourselves fully to the art of life and the sharing of that art, that life… we change each other for the best. When we rip and tear off pieces of the other and give back pieces of hate, or bitterness or judgement we change each other as well but in a very different way.

We must learn, as these performers did, to hold our heart outstretched in our palms and offer it unselfishly, gloriously to the other. I beg you, I need the beauty you are. When I am able to take hold of it, it makes me freer to hold my soul out to another. It changes the very cells of my body.

As we were riding home, Kent and I were trying to describe the feelings we were having. And we talked about Litmuss Lozenges. If you have not read Because of Winn-Dixie, go do it. What are you waiting for? Anyway, Litmuss Lozenges…

” . . . I lay there and I thought about how life was like a Littmus Lozenge, how the sweet and the sad were all mixed up together and how hard it was to separate them out.” –Because of Winn Dixie by Katie DiCamillio

And Kent said, he had been thinking about how all of life, all of our experiences, sweet and sad, make us who we are. The scraps and bits we collect of each other. The scars we absorb and the scars we inflict. And it is melancholy. Sweet and beautiful and sad and stunning. And we agreed that though the consequences of our sin, as far as separating us from God, will be done away with in the new heavens and new earth, we will always bear about, like Jesus himself, our scars.
We just finished Six Feet Under. And although we wouldn’t recommend the series for everyone, it provided a vivid picture of life and death. Often when people pass away they are identified by their scars. How poetic. Aren’t we all? We are identified by the marks we leave on each other. How sweet and sad and beautiful and stunning.
So if this is your first time here or your millionth time here, welcome home. You belong here. I celebrate you. I hold out my heart in the palms of my hands and invite you to change me. Welcome home.
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Good Stuff for Spring Break

beach-readsI know. I know. I have been M.I.A. for waaaay to long. I sadly have not had time for writing but I have had time for reading. Here are some I think are worth reading from the last few weeks to see you through the Spring Break holiday.

Enjoy my lovelies. I’ll see you on the other side.

Will Evangelicalism Last

For one thing “Truth” is not rational abstraction — a concept, doctrine, or idea you can write down — especially not one which you conveniently have right and everyone else conveniently has wrong. Truth-as-a-rational-abstraction constitutes a denial of the incarnation (and big chunks of the New Testament). Doctrines and theologies can point to the truth but they are not themselves the Truth. The Truth has been revealed to us in and through Jesus Christ. Truth is a person. Jesus is the Truth.

How Being a Pastor Changed My Thinking on Homosexuality

Several things clicked at once: These guys had burdens placed upon them by others(people like me) that had nothing to do with Jesus. Jesus said his interpretation of religious Law, his yoke, was easy and his burden light (11:38). His opponents, the religious leaders, accused him of abolishing the Law (5:17) and ignoring their pet scriptures about holiness and who was “in” and who was “out.” The fundamentalists of Jesus’ day were threatened by his message of an easy yoke, and they made his followers out to be “abolishers of the law.” In response, Jesus  commanded his followers to out-love, out-pray, and out-give his detractors (5:21-7:27).

Is Abolition Biblical?

I wanted to share these initial thoughts because I think it’s important to remind ourselves now and then that we’ve been wrong before, and that sometimes it’s not about the number of proof texts we can line up or about the most simplistic reading of the text, but rather some deep, intrinsic sense of right and wrong, some movement of the Spirit, that points us toward truth and to a better understanding of what Scripture really says. 

But That’s What the Bible Says

And this is the sad thing.  That we’d rather live with cognitive dissonance, believing that women are somehow equal but yet somehow lesser– or that they are to be restricted for no reason, but that God is still just– than to believe it’s possible we’re misreading our Bibles.

We’d rather restrict women and have the Bible be “clear” than admit that we just might be wrong.

How Sesame Street is Undermining Biblical Values

I know, you might think I’m overreacting, but the Bible is very clear on the role of bears in human relationships. They are meant to be voracious killing machines. I mean, the ONE COMMAND God gives specifically to bears is to “Arise and devour much flesh.” This attempt to anthropomorphize and humanize bears strikes at the heart of everything the gospel teaches about bears.

Feminism and Me: When I cannot cook but I am still a person

The first time I began to wonder if perhaps the evangelical narrative of gender roles I’d absorbed needed a little tweaking, I was 19 years old and finishing my first year of bible college, and I was in love with him. I sometimes like to think that he was in love with me too (a story for another day), but only to the extent that a heart as superficial as his could possibly be. One morning after a particularly intense cup of coffee the night before, I woke up to a novel in my inbox which basically boiled down to “I like you but you are unsuitable because you are initiatory in your relationships with men and also you cannot clean or cook.”

Jesus is my favorite feminist.

Not only in the message,
but in the messenger.

He chose her.

He commissioned her.

He gave her the privilege of delivering the very first Resurrection sermon.

To a room full of men.

CHASE AND THE ONION MAN

You and I, we have a lot of love to share. Maybe that man doesn’t have much. Maybe we offered him some today. People who behave badly still need love.

The Bible Isn’t The History You Think It Is

The situation not unlike a modern newspaper, which combines news with opinion, puzzles, comics, etc. The news can be accurate even if the comics are not. The same is true for the different parts of the Bible.

I stopped guarding my heart ten years ago.

All relationships invite our hearts to walk through disappointment and joy, the more intimate the relationship, the greater the capacity for both those things.

The Irony of Christian Celebrity

What if a desire to “make an impact” is just a form of grasping for immortality?

What if a quest for influence is actually another way of chasing fame?

What if efforts to “expand the Kingdom” are really monuments to our entrepreneurial skills?

What if, in the name of building platforms to proclaim the Gospel, we have elevated people into Christian celebrities?

What if we’ve added God to an already crowded house of idols—the idols of fame and success?

 

Stop (and dance) in the Name of Love

What is this all about you ask?

The ONE BILLION RISING campaign began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. On 14 February 2013, V-Day’s 15th anniversary, activists, writers, thinkers, celebrities and women and men across the world will come together to express their outrage, strike, dance, and RISE in defiance of the injustices women suffer, demanding an end at last to violence against women.

A global strike
An invitation to dance
A call to men and women to refuse to participate in the status quo until rape and rape culture ends
An act of solidarity, demonstrating to women the commonality of their struggles and their power in numbers
A refusal to accept violence against women and girls as a given
A new time and a new way of being

Today women and men all over the world will rise and dance to show their solidarity with women around the world in their struggle to end gender based violence.

I just found out about this movement today so instead of attending a planned event I would like to dance with you my lovelies, right here. Right now.

Play the video and let’s dance.

Let’s dance and show the world that women are not possessions, women are not objects to be used, women are not less than.

This is my dance.

This is your dance.

This is the dance of every woman and every man who loves women.

As the song says lovelies,

We dance cause we love

Dance cause we dream

Dance cause we’ve had enough

Dance to stop the screams

Dance to break the rules

Dance to stop the pain

Dance to turn it upside down

Its time to break the chain,

oh yeah

Break the Chain

Today is Valentine’s Day. A day to love and be loved. A day to celebrate all that love is and all that love does. Today we will give gifts in the name of love, we will send messages to the ones we love. And today my lovelies we will stop in the name of love to dance on behalf of love.

Today may we be one step closer to stop(ping the violence) in the name of love.

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Do You See What I See? Beyonce, Jesus and You.

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So it seems the blogosphere is all a buzz about Beyoncé’s halftime extravaganza at the Superbowl this weekend. I have seen comments ranging from allegations of soft-core porn to whole posts celebrating her performance as a triumph of female power. I am fascinated that people can watch the exact same thing and yet see something entirely different.

Isn’t it the same way with Jesus? We all have access to the same scriptures and yet we read something entirely different; Some people see Jesus the MMA fighter, some see the smiling Jesus who never raised his voice; Some people believe Jesus is looking for ways to exclude and some believe he will include everyone.

How can this be so?

Ultimately isn’t how we view both Beyoncé and Jesus determined by the same things?

Are you a man or a woman?
Did you grow up in a Christian home?
Are you a dancer? a performer? an athlete?
What is your personality?
Was your family rich or poor?
Are you from the United States?
Were you bullied? Were you the bully?

I could go on and on.

I know a lot of you are thinking right now, “What I think about who Jesus is has nothing to do with any of those things. I just believe what the Bible says.” If that is you I would ask you this…Are we not all the sum of our combined genetics and experiences? Can we when coming to a person, any person divorce ourselves from who we are? If we are all (as I believe we are) created to reflect different aspects of God‘s beauty, fierceness (especially in Beyoncé’s case) and glory can we not all learn from each other? We are all so complex. There is so much more to Jesus or Beyonce or anyone else than meets our individual set of eyes. What is for sure is that you don’t see what I see. Because of this we should recognize that when we accept forgiveness for ourselves we must also overlook each other’s shortcomings, lack of understanding and sometimes flat out sin so that we can find the beauty of every angle of who he reveals himself to be in each of us.

Does that mean we stop seeking truth since we all see with different eyes? God forbid. Does that mean that you and I reflect God in different and beautiful ways? Hell yes!

What we must do is remember this: Judgement is not our job (since we can’t see the heart). Convicting of sin and righteousness is also not our job. Loving people is our job, so is bringing reconciliation.

So instead of asking “Do you see what I see?” maybe we should start asking “Can you see what I see?” When we start trying to look at others through Jesus’ eyes I think we will find we see them in a much different way and loving them will be easier. And when we start trying to look at Jesus through other people’s eyes, genetics and experiences I think we will find more truth about Jesus as well.

Mad Men (and Women) of Christianity


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I know we are way behind but my husband and I just started watching Mad Men from the beginning on Netflix. Last night after watching the second episode, Kent turned to me and said, “Do you know why I like this show? Besides the great acting, writing and to-the-t period stuff?”
“No,” I said, “What?”
“This show is a perfect illustration of what people mean when they say they want to go back to the good old days. It’s how guys like Driscoll and Piper wish it was.”

I have been thinking about this ever since he said it last night.
At the time my mind immediately went to another blog written by Ben Ponder, editor-at-large for mediarostra.com which I read a while back. In it Mr. Ponder asserts that,

“Family” is the euphemistic code du jour for “Evangelical Christian.” “Focus on the Evangelical Christian” and the “American Evangelical Christian Association” didn’t have the same zing to them as their familiar twins. The watchword for these organizations is the preservation of “traditional family values,” which are, in a nutshell, white American family values from a period of 1939 to 1964. The family values constituency longs for a return to the virginal time before the Civil Rights movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement, the Vietnam War, the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs, John Lennon, and Rock Hudson made the world a more complicated place.
When I read the Bible, I get the distinct sense that Jesus wasn’t interested in saving the nuclear family from a windy onslaught of liberal opinions. I rather get the impression that he was concerned with diving headfirst into the unvarnished messiness of the human condition and saving us—as individuals, as families, as communities, as people—from our own unhinged self-absorption and festering lovelessness.

I also remembered a scene from Modern Family which I told you all about in The Will of the People. The scene takes place between Jay and Gloria.

“Jay: This weekend we’re going up to Pebble Beach. I’m gonna meet a bunch of guys I played high school football with. Man, those were the good old days.
Gloria: Yeah, unless you were a woman, black, Hispanic, or gay.
Jay: But if you were a straight white football player you couldn’t have a bad day.”

I am sure most of the folks nostalgic for a time gone by prefer to think of it like Leave It to Beaver where everything is clean and sanitized and the worst you have to worry about is Eddie Haskel and his mischievous ways. Mad Men is a more unvarnished look back that doesn’t gloss over the messiness of life. Honestly lovelies, neither is a perfect picture. They are both fiction. However we are talking about a real period of American life that is often pointed to by christians in general and evangelicals in particular, as a time when things were simpler, better and frankly closer to what God intended. After all, the marriages and families I see in the Bible look just like the Cunningham’s on Happy Days. 😉

Personally, I have no desire to go back to the way things were.

Christian Piatt wrote a great article about a year ago titled: GOP Nostalgia? Only Christian White Men were Better Off Back Then in which he said in part,

The fact is that, unless you’re a white, Christian, straight male, there’s little to look back to and say “yeah, I was better off back then.”… To call for a return to the good old days is, in some ways, a marginalization of those for whom history has meant progress. For the majority of Americans today, turning back the clock means losing ground, acceding power or opportunity and returning to a time of greater imbalance and division.”

Sadly, the church, whom I love seems to be stuck in a nostalgic longing that is really nothing more than a mirage. It offers the illusion of a cold drink of water but for many they find only a mouthful of sand and the scorching wind of shame. Heck even some of us raised in the church who know how beautiful and life-giving our communities truly can be, all to often have found our mouths filled with sand rather than the cool and refreshing living water.

Those who feel their privilege slipping away continue to grasp at an unhealthy nostalgia responsible for keeping the church on the wrong side of history way to often. It is what makes and has made people justify slavery and segregation or oppose women’s suffrage, a woman’s right to own property, interracial marriage, women in church leadership and gay marriage. (Even when people believe they are excluding people because of unrepentant sin I still call B.S. as we often hold the door open with a big smile for people who continue to stumble when it comes to gluttony, lust, gossip and lying while slamming the door in the face of homosexuals under the guise of “unrepentance”.) When people perceive their place of privilege is slipping away, rather than rejoicing that others will share in the freedom and forgiveness which they have enjoyed, often defend and set up barriers that push people further away from Jesus. Once again, someone else addresses this issue of priviledge much better than I can. I encourage you to read The Distress of the Priviledged by Doug Muder. He explains it like this:

As the culture evolves, people who benefitted from the old ways invariably see themselves as victims of change. The world used to fit them like a glove, but it no longer does. Increasingly, they find themselves in unfamiliar situations that feel unfair or even unsafe. Their concerns used to take center stage, but now they must compete with the formerly invisible concerns of others.

Then this morning as lady luck or Sarah Bessey would have it, I woke up to a post which exposes another facet of the mirage with a fierce and brave vulnerability. In Which I am Damaged Goods is a post way too many of us could have written. Sarah shares a time when she was served the sand of shame and judgement rather than the living water of love and forgiveness. She was taught that because she was a woman who had been sexually active she was damaged beyond repair and that she should be thankful if there was a christian man out there who would have her as a wife. While this may seem at first blush unrelated to a nostalgia for an earlier time, rest assured, it is. It is nostalgia for a time when a girl who gets pregnant (not the boy of course) would be sent away “to camp” for the summer or a divorcee would automatically be viewed as desperate, a home wrecker or “hot to trot”. “Oh Myyyyy,” as George Takai would say. With just a few google searches you can find church leader after church leader (including women) who will state unequivocally or simply subtly imply that women’s sexuality and/or women in general are something to be feared, suppressed and even demonized. Tertullian went as far as describing woman as the root of all evil. This is yet another mirage of sinking sand that brings death, shame and bondage rather than life, reconciliation and freedom. A current hotly debated question in the church is, “Why are young people leaving in droves?” Perhaps it is partly because they are tired of receiving a glass of sand when they are begging for water.

Please lovelies, let us remember this, Jesus came not to condemn (John 3:17) but to bring freedom and forgiveness.

This of course is just one example. The non-drinkers exclude the drinkers, the men exclude the women, the heterosexuals exclude the LGBT community, the races exclude each other, the hits just keep on coming and love loses –or so it seems. As a friend of mine (I can’t remember who, if it is you send me a note so I can give you credit) said in a Facebook post this week, many in the church upon arriving at the banquet to which they themselves were uninvited have set themselves up as doorkeepers, judging who is and who is not worthy to enter. Do they not see the irony? None of us were invited –yet we got to come in. And now here they sit callously turning away those whom Jesus would let in. Let that not be me. I say swing wide the doors; Come in. Taste and see that He is good.

As always my lovelies, I remain hopeful. Behold, Jesus is making all things new. He is NOT making all things the way they used to be. He is making all things NEW! Make no mistake, love will win. Look around. There are more and more people who shout and whisper and sing, “Come in! Come in! All are welcome. There is enough living water for us all.

LORD JESUS, May my judgements never push people away from you. Please show mercy to those who having already received grace for themselves would push away others whom you came for. Forgive them, for they know not what they do. AMEN.

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As we were driving home I was reminded of the song Pieces of You by Jewel.  It drove home the point that we are all connected. When we exclude, shame and hurt each other we cut off our nose to spite our face. Any damage we do to each other, we do to ourselves.

She’s an ugly girl, does it make you want to kill her?
She’s an ugly girl, do you want to kick in her face?
She’s an ugly girl, she doesn’t pose a threat.
She’s an ugly girl, does she make you feel safe?
Ugly girl, ugly girl, do you hate her
‘Cause she’s pieces of you.

She’s a pretty girl, does she make you think nasty thoughts?
She’s a pretty girl, do you want to tie her down?
She’s a pretty girl, do you call her a bitch?
She’s a pretty girl, did she sleep with your whole town?
Pretty girl, pretty girl, do you hate her
‘Cause she’s pieces of you.

You say he’s a faggot, does it make you want to hurt him?
You say he’s a faggot, do you want to bash in his brain?
You say he’s a faggot, does he make you sick to our stomach?
You say he’s a faggot, are you afraid you’re just the same?
Faggot, Faggot, do you hate him
‘Cause he’s pieces of you?

You say he’s a Jew, does it mean that he’s tight?
You say he’s a Jew, do you want to hurt his kids tonight?
You say he’s a Jew, he’ll never wear that funny hat again.
You say he’s a Jew, as though being born were a sin.
Oh Jew, oh Jew, do you hate him
‘Cause he’s pieces of you.

365: looking forward to 2013

mapWell, I did it. A whole year of blogging. It has been quite a ride let me tell you. 2012 was at once an amazing year of greatness and a year of painful loss; for example this year I celebrated 25 years of marriage to my amazing best friend and this year we buried his Dad.  What a dichotomy.

As you may or may not have noticed (I like to think that at least some of you noticed) I have not done much writing in the last several weeks. Believe me it hasn’t been for lack of material or ideas but rather because life has been a bit on the full side. It is funny and I never would have believed I would say this before starting this blog on a complete whim…but I missed writing. A LOT.

I would like to close out the year by saying thank you to all of you who have read and commented, subscribed and shared and liked my Facebook page. You have turned what was a little spark of an idea into something beyond what I would have imagined. Because of you the site has reached 32,945 page views and has been seen in 152 countries! Holy crap!!

You have also made 794 comments and shared my page 348 times. Thank you.

This year I wrote 110 posts covering politics, religion, sexuality, equality, art, science, poetry and lots of personal stuff.

Here are your top 20 posts by number of page views:

  1. God and Homosexuality: Parts 6 and 7 – Pornoi, Arsenokoitai and Malakoi
  2. Pray Away the Gay?
  3. What is Traditional Marriage Anyway?
  4. God and Homosexuality: Part 1
  5. So She Did. A Word of Encouragement to Women…and Men.
  6. God and Homsexuality: Part 4 – “Eunuchs Who Have Been So From Birth”
  7. Why I Love Being a Woman
  8. Why Do Christians Curse the Silence?
  9. Dear John Piper, Would You Like a Ride on my Toboggan?
  10. Today My Daughter’s World Changed and It Broke My Heart
  11. If all are Martha Stewart where is Amelia Earhart?
  12. Sometimes I Grow Weary of the Fight
  13. Homosexuality and God: Conclusion
  14. Memes the Word.
  15. Raped Too Much?
  16. Boys Will Be Boys?
  17. The Closest Friends I’ve Never Met and an Unladylike Manifesto
  18. I Choose Chow Fun’s
  19. Your Existence Gives me Hope
  20. Why I’m Voting for President Obama  (a guest post by my awesome husband)

I am also going to include here some links for posts you may have missed that I think you may want to revisit (as they say on American Idol, “In no particular order.”).

Here is to the next year my lovelies and here’s to you. May it be our best year yet.

i can’t live with that

 

hold me closer

i can’t feel you yet

tighter

i need to forget

or maybe to remember

that i’m not dead yet

please don’t let go

it is too much like dying

and i cant be without you right now

i can still see the box closing

on a friend too young to die

if you let me go

it feels like i may lose you

forever

i cant live

with that