Saturday, December 22, 2007

the rebel jesus

all the streets are filled with laughter and light
and the music of the season
and the merchants windows are all bright
with the faces of children
and the families hurrying to
as the sky darkens and freezes
they'll be gathering around the hearths and tales
giving thanks for all gods graces
and the birth of the rebel jesus

well they call him by the prince of peace
and they call him by the savior
and they pray to him upon the seas
and in every bold endeavor
as they fill his churches with their pride and gold
and their faith in him increases
but they've turned the nature that i worshipped in
from a temple to a robbers den
in the words of the rebel jesus

we guard our world with locks and guns
and we guard our fine posessions
and once a year when christmas comes
we give to our relations
and pershaps we give a little to the poor
if the generosity should seize us
but if any one of us should interfere
in the business of why they are poor
they get the same as the rebel jesus

but please forgive me if i seem
to take the tone of judgement
for i've no wish to come between
this day and your enjoyment
in this life of hardship and earthly toil
we have need for anything that frees us
so i bid you pleasure
and i bid you cheer
from a heathen and a pagan
on the side of the rebel jesus

- jackson browne

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

christmas in a different light

I have always loved Christmas. The music, the food, pretty lights and glittery ornaments. I'd rush around buying gifts and wrapping them. I'm one of those people who goes out after the holiday and buys up tons of shiny, sparkly wrapping paper goodness- to use it the next year creating elaborate packages. These fun things along with quality time with family and friends have always made the season something I greatly enjoy. But over the last couple of years, Christmas has lost a bit of its luster.

It's not because I dont still love the aforementioned activities- I do. But my worldview is changing. I'm a born and bred midwesterner, daughter of republican small business owners- who grew up believing that the American dream was the be all end all of human existance. The thinking always was, at least in my mind, that God favored the United States and that our system of capitalism and democracy was the *best* in the world. I firmly believed that poor people were poor because of laziness and did my once, twice or three times yearly volunteering at a homeless shelter, nursing home, whatever- because, after all, that was some kind of effort.

I dont begrudge my parents anything- they're wonderful people. I had a happy,secure childhood and was ( and still am) quite blessed. But as mentioned in the previous post, I'm learning that the kingdom of God looks like no government or societal system here on earth- including America's.

So, back to Christmas. As my eyes are opened more and more to the needs around me, the once a year charity surrounding Christmas makes me ill, quite frankly. I'm torn because in a way, yes, any charity is 'good'- people need help. But at the same time, what in the world is wrong with we Christians that we aren't doing that all year long? Why are we throwing huge expensive pageants in our multimillion dollar sanctuaries furnished with plasma screen tv's and state of the art sound equipment? Why do we buy a cheap gift for an Angel Tree kid and think somehow that's teaching our children a lesson in loving others? Why do we count on government agencies to make up for our laziness and apathy?

If I sound bitter, I promise I'm not. I'm just broken hearted..the way things are right now is just not right. As mentioned in the previous post, there are those who believe ' another world is possible.' For a long time I ascribed to the thinking that the earth is just a cesspool spiraling down into destruction, and the only hope was to accept Jesus and pray to be 'raptured out' of this mess ASAP. I still believe my only hope is Jesus, but I believe His message is not only about self salvation, but about living out God's kingdom here on earth. That His message is about reconciliation, healing, compassion- action on the part of those who love and follow Him.

So I suppose after all of this rambling..the question remains, what can we do to bring God's kingdom about-not just pay lipservice to charity at Christmastime. Maybe there's a much bigger problem out there than the battle waged over ' Merry Christmas' or ' Happy Holidays'. Maybe it should be how we live, how we act-rather than talking about what we supposedly believe.
I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.
Matthew 25:40

another world- is it possible?

Shane Claiborne, one of the “new monastics,” offers some fresh images of God’s new order that might help us find a place to begin the journey towards a more authentic, whole-life faith. In his book The Irresistible Revolution, Shane describes an impromptu demonstration on Wall Street, during which he announced to the surprised crowd:

Some of us have worked on Wall Street, and some of us have slept on Wall Street. We are a community of struggle. Some of us are rich people trying to escape our loneliness. Some of us are poor folks trying to escape the cold. Some of us are addicted to drugs and others are addicted to money. We are a broken people who need each other and God, for we have come to recognize the mess that we have created of our world and how deeply we suffer from the mess. Now we are working to give birth to a new society within the shell of the old. Another world is possible. Another world is necessary. Another world is already here.

As we begin to identify the aspirations and values of this “world that is already here,” we will realize how counter they are to the values of empires of every age. Jesus strongly reminds his followers that we will never find the good life of God by seeking life but only by losing our lives in service to God and others.As we begin to identify the aspirations and values of this “world that is already here,” we will realize how counter they are to the values of empires of every age. Jesus strongly reminds his followers that we will never find the good life of God by seeking life but only by losing our lives in service to God and others.
-Tom Sine

Sunday, December 16, 2007

one dimensional faith

"More and more reflective Christian leaders are beginning to realize that for the millions of young adults who dropped out of their churches in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the Christian religion appears to be a failed religion. And for a reason not unlike the one expressed by the young healthcare worker from Khayelitsha: it has specialized in dealing with ' spiritual needs' to the exclusion of physical and social needs. It has specialized in people's destination in the afterlife but has failed to address significant social injustices in this life. It has focused on 'me' and ' my soul' and ' my spiritual life' and ' my eternal destiny', but it has failed to address the dominant societal and global realities of their lifetime: systemic injustic, systemic poverty, systemic ecological crisis, systemic dysfunctions of many kinds.

When young adults from churchgoing backgrounds lose confidence in this version of the Christian religion to address the pressing issues of our world, their faith becomes more and more privatized and personalized and therefore diminished. They may or may not continue to practice it, but they will almost certainly become less enthusiastic about sharing it with others.
As a result, those on the outside of the Christian religion find fewer and fewer enthusiastic proponents, and there seems to be less and less reason to accept or even consider it- apart from threats of hell, which lose their effect when those making the threats seem a little defensive, deranged, out of touch, manic, or embarassed of their faith"
- Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change
In the first few chapters, the author is setting up this idea as the basis for the book. I love it, because these are things I've thought for years. Growing up, I noticed a very ' me' centered church setting, it was all about personal spirituality and growth. Don't get me wrong, personal spiritual growth is of utmost importance. Howver, the means of attaining that spiritual growth could be different. I've read that the first reformation was about beliefs- what to believe and why. Luther led the way for this. But a second reformation of sorts, one concerning deeds and much overdue. It as always struck me as very bland and one dimensional to only be concerned about people's eternal destination, while paying little to no attention to their present concerns. Jesus didn't do things that way.He addressed what was going on in that moment, as well as eternity.
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him' Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
James 2:14-17

baby, its snowing outside

Well, it seems that mother nature has decided to dump approximately 5-6 inches of snow on us. Thankfully I thought ahead and visited both the book and video stores this afternoon before the real blizzard began. I've got to work tomorrow, and have been out late the last few nights, so I decided tonight was going a time of staying in and getting things done.

I was quite domestic. Not only did I do two loads of laundry, cleaned the living room and bathroom, and did a bunch of dishes. Then I decided to bake. For no apparent reason, when I'm shut in at home, I cook. Tonight I made a cherry pie, a first for me- complete with a double crust with fancy designs in it. Cooking is something I enjoy, but baking isnt really my forte. When you make a nice dinner, there is room for interpretation. Add a little of this, a little of that, and you just might wind up with something really neat. Baking, on the other hand, requires more precision. Maybe its the non conformist in me.

The pie turned out reasonably well, minus a few mishaps attempting to put the foil strips on an extremely hot pie plate- who thought of that anyway? Then I made cranberry sauce, another first for me. While grocery shopping this week I saw cranberries for sale and thought I might find a use for then. Turns out, they're pretty much only good for sauce. Oh well. After the cooking adventures, I settled in to watch some videos and dig into my book splurges. One is by Brian Mclaren, the other by Richard Foster.

I realize that this has been a post full of fluff, but fear not- I will return to my usual soapbox diatribes soon..the books should give me much to think about.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Turkey what?

Sunday night, after working 2nd shift, I made an emergency run to Walmart ( I hate that I went there but it was the closest place..grr). When I walked in the door I was greeted by a huge Christmas tree, complete with lights blazing and ornaments a-plenty. As I walked further in the store, Christmas decorations, Christmas clothing, Christmas wrapping..Christmas everything- was everywhere.
Maybe I'm one of the last people to notice and/or care- but where did Thanksgiving go? The funny thing is that in years past I remember retailers trying to make a *small* attempt to aknowledge the holiday. Now they dont even pretend to try.
The second the clock strikes midnight on October 31st, the Christmas shopping season is here.

Herein lies the problem- I'm not ready. I'm still enjoying my pumpkins, and the leaves- the leaves that just started turning vibrant colors, I might add.

Bah humbug.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Can I get a change-a-looyah?

My mom and I had a tradition- on the day after Thanksgiving, otherwise known as Black Friday, we'd take the Amtrack up to Chicago and spend the day shopping. We'd fight the crowds from approximately 10 am until 3 pm, until the sidewalks were so crowded that you couldnt move without running into someone.

Why we did this? I dont know, to be honest. In years past we've gotten smarter and gone sometime later in the season, when people werent insane. Even so, I always have to run out sometime during the day on BF, to see if I can score some deals.

This year- no more. I've made the decision- I'm going to not do a single bit of shopping the day after Thanksgiving. The insanity of this whole thing became crystallized last fall when I (briefly) worked at a retail jewlery counter. There were hoardes of people waiting in line, pushing, complaining, fighting over items throughout the mall. Besides wanting to strangle someone, I was just saddened. Is lining up en masse to get the latest whosiewhatsits-that-nobody-will-care-about-by-next-year, something I want to participate in? No thanks.

More 'Christmas' simply reduced to mass produced, material goods? In the good ole' USA, that seems to be the case. I'm not sure I'm ready to go as far as a complete Buy Nothing Christmas, but I want to simplify the holiday season and make the focus on being thankful for the blessings God has given me, and extending love to those around me and in this community at large.

I love Reverend Billy. I wish he'd come to Illinois and do some cash register exorcisms.

( If you dont have a clue what I'm talking about and think I've lost my mind, watch the clip below and check out the Church of Stop Shopping at Hes a satirist who, along with his 'choir', preach against consumerism and commodification- and is the featured actor in the new Morgan Spurlock documentary, What Would Jesus Buy? I saw a pre screening of the film this summer at Cornerstone- its great!He also happens to be hilarious.)

Prepare for the Shopocalypse!

as the holiday season approaches...

Experiments in Frugality

Between classes and work, I'm a pretty busy person. Money is stretched thin, and many times my paychecks are spent before I even receive them. But I'm going to be in school for the long haul, and after the wedding Adam and I will still both be students. So I've found this an opportunity to learn creative ways to be

I had never even been to a garage sale until I moved away for college. They amused me for a time, until Adam introduced me to the *Estate Sale*. An addiction was born. Beautiful items in a big fancy house, from decades of collecting? I was in love. Soon I was buying up china, tablecloths, books, and all kinds of gorgeous things that I had no place for. My tiny little apartment couldn't take anymore!

Many times- since I'm all about the deals- I'll wait until the last hour or so of an estate sale, when items are typically 50% to 75% off. I had a thought- why not try ebay? I knew nothing about collectibles or what they are worth, or what is even considered a collectible. So last March I listed my first batch of items, and through lots of trial and error, have found a fun way to earn some extra income.

It took a while to get the hang of it, and I bought my fair share of items that had flaws because I hadn't examined them well enough. Shipping was also a lesson in the school of hard knocks- I ate profits a time or two. But by summertime I was earning on average, $100-$150 a week- not bad for a hobby. This allowed me to enjoy my 'sailing', and use it in a lucrative way, instead of just filling up my home with things I didn't need.

All in all, I've earned a few thousand dollars since I started the ebay habit. I don't have time to sell full time right now, but every once in a while I'll list some things and make a quick $100.

Oh, and I have managed to add a few extremely cool pieces to my collection along the way. Some things I just couldnt part with.

So if you're looking for an inexpensive way to get a shopping fix, check the paper for garage and estate sales. You never know what treasures you might find.


The other day I was talking with a good friend and, unfortunately, politics had to rear its ugly head. I guess its inevitable; considering there is a presidential election coming up in the next year. This is my first attempt to get back involved with ridiculousness that is our political system, after my decision to ' opt out' after becoming extremely jaded a few years back.

For those who dont know, I grew up a diehard Republican/Fiscal Conservative- Ann Coulter quoting, Bush poster waving, the whole bit. Liberals were snakes, and Conservatives might have a few bad apples but they were ' better' overall.

Then, I went away to college, and I met this guy named Jesus. I stayed true to my Conservative roots for a while, but soon various inconsistencies began to pop up. Things were suddenly...messy. Jesus was talking about loving our neighbor, turning the other cheek, loving and serving the poor. Sure, I was prolife, but the idea that 'pro life' applies only to abortion and not the death penalty, not the mentally/physically/developmentally handicapped..didn't seem to jive with a consistent ethic of life. And environmentalism- only tree hugging liberals care about matters such as pollution, global warming ( because its just a myth, right?).
I came to realize these things, I became extremely frustrated. To be a good Christian, you just -had- to vote Republican, because Democrats were anti-God, anti-life. Yet I could plainly see Conservatives who didn't give a hoot about people, and caring for those in need of help- they wanted votes. So say you're pro life, vote for a few pro life things, and bada bing bada boom- you've got the Christian vote.

Even more apparent was how full of crap BOTH sides were. Its about climbing the ladder, about saying what you need to say in order to get votes.I realized this, and just gave up. (Hence my opting out). I just hid my head in the sand and pretended none of it was going on.
Then I found this book called God isnt a Republican or a Democrat- Why The Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesnt Get it- by Jim Wallis. Ooh- so there are a few people who notice this too. I then found Sojourners magazine, discovered Gregory Boyd, Shane Claiborne and various other Christians who were addressing these social issues often ignored by Christians. I began to have some hope.

Fast forward to today- I'm still frustrated, and I still dont trust any of the political candidates farther than I can throw them. But I'm starting to navigate the mess of issues, and starting to form where I stand. I'm okay with not voting straight ticket, and I dont fully endorse either party. I'm an independent- and I'm going to vote my conscience, where it ends up being red or blue- or a mix, and ends up being purple.

I've learned that its okay to take the red letters in the Bible seriously..that Jesus wasnt just joking when He mentioned money and the poor over and over. It doesnt make me a communist to care about the poor, nor a wimpy liberal to care about the environment. It IS pro life to care just as much about existing children and their welfare, as I care about the welfare of the unborn. It's okay to be a Christian and be disgusted by how our money-loving culture has turned people into a commodity, that we put profit over human lives and welfare.

So here I am, a born-again, evangelical, missional, progressive, conservative/liberal, anti death penalty, green, pro life, pro religious freedom, pro separation of church and state, homosexual loving, semi pacifist ( still working that one out), unfinished, still growing , neither-red-or-blue-probably-more-purple-than anything- Christian.

good stuff

Matthew 9:9-13
As Jesus was walking on from there he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him' follow me.' And he got up and followed him. Now while he was at table in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples,' why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?' When he heard this he replied ' it is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. go and learn the meaning of the words

mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice

..and indeed I came to call not the upright, but sinners.'

Here is revelation bright as the evening star: Jesus comes for sinners, for thos as outcast as tax collectors and for those caught up in squalid choices and failed dreams. He comes for corporate executives, street people, superstars, farmers, hookers, addicts, IRS agents, AIDS victims, and even used-car salesmen. Jesus not only talks with these people but dines with them-fully aware that His table fellowship with sinners will raise the eyebrows of the religious bureaucrats who hold up the robes and insignia of their authority to justify their condemnation of the truth and their rejection of the gospel of grace.
This passage should be read, reread, and memorized. Every Christian generation tries to dim the blinding brightness of its meaning because the gospel seems too good to be true. We thinks salvation belongs to the proper and pious, to those who stand at a safe distance from the back alleys of existence, clucking their judgements at those who have been soiled by life.
In effect, Jesus says the kingdom of His Father is not a subdivision for the self-righteous nor for those who feel they posess the state secret of salvation. The kingdom is not an exclusive, well-trimmed suburb with snobbish rules about who can live there. No, it is for a larger,homlier, less self-conscious caste of people who understand they are sinners because they have experienced the yaw and pinch of moral struggle.

-Brennan Manning - The Ragamuffin Gospel

wedding progress

At long last, we were able to find a place to have the reception. Who knew it would be so difficult? Everything was booked at least a year, up to a year and a half in advance. Oy.

Anyway, without further ado:

The Gateway Building

( if the weather is right, and hasnt frozen, we'll get that fountain out front- the city runs it)

The room is on the top floor and has a balcony that overlooks the fountain below, as well as the river, and the bridge right next to it.

The date is October 25th, 2008. I also have my dress :

So far, we have the church, reception, dress, photographer and food lined up. Next I need to decide what the colors will be. Problem is, I've got a whole bunch of colors I love, but need to narrow down. I love sapphire blue, dark green, dark purple, silver, cranberry,etc etc. One thing I know I want is to go with jewel tones over a more 'traditional' palette of fall colors. The church we're getting married at is actually my mom's home church, and where she and my dad were married.( aww, I know) This church is big, made of gorgeous stone, and is littered with stained glass windows and beautiful woodwork that my grandpa did himself. For their Christmas eve candle light service, they have these big candelabras that attach to each pew, and we're going t use those. My goal is basically a warm, glowing fall ceremony that feels really cozy.

Lately I've seen some neat dark colored hydrangeas, and some green orchids that are something different. This is fun, but there are so many things to think about! Yikes.

I'm curious, what did you choose for your wedding colors and flowers? Or, what will you choose?

Er, that book review....

I read the book, but sorta forgot I was going to write a reivew.
How about a summary?
The book was great; funny and insigntful. The author does a good job of following the ' food trail' so to speak, of corn and beef. Don't read this if you dont want to know where food REALLY comes from. Now, dont go thinking this is some kind of blood and guts diatribe, because it's not. Pollan just does an extremely thorough job of following the history of food, the details of how/where its grown or raised, how its transported, processed, and ultimately, ends up on the dinner table.

I am a child of the corn. No, I'm not kidding- I grew up in the middle of a cornfield. But despite my many years of exposure to farming, this book gave me a whole new perspective on that lovely yellow maize. I guess as a corn fed midwesterner, I never really considered the history of commercial farming, and how it evolved into market it is today.

Pollan examines the inner workings of commercial farming, organic farming, grass pasture farming, and throws in a chapter of hunting and gathering.

I wont lie, in the end I wanted to go run out and buy 50 acres somewhere and start my own farm, complete with chickens, cows, goats- maybe even an alpaca or two.

Then, back to reality. The book really does support eating locally, supporting farmers markets and and family farms. All good things. At the very least, it caused me to think even more about moving toward foods that are less processed, and with fewer chemicals. And I'll never look at high fructose corn syrup the same way again.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Inagural Post

Well, its a new day, and a new blog. I still love my Xanga, and will update it, but thought it was time to experiment.

I ventured into Barnes & Noble, and as usual could not leave without a few purchases. For my first post I think I'll do a review of one of said books.

The Omnivore's Dilemma- A Natural History of Four Foods
- Michael Pollan

To be continued...