Thursday, June 6, 2013

Weekly Smorgasbord

The week's links:

On Faith:
Posted: 28 May 2013 08:25 PM PDT
"There is a hero: The hero is the guy who is so in love with the world, He would come for her and die for her. He would turn the other cheek and speak the truth and keep coming back until he won the girl, even though she continually cheats on him. She's the one he wants. He's christ. The girl is humanity itself. She gets confused by the world and by religion. The world says screw it all. Religion says submit to my earthly power and you'll find security." 

Posted: 31 May 2013 09:59 PM PDT
"And if they don't make a decision at an early age, like my middle two? I will not despair. Some of my favorite believers are those who came to know Jesus in high school and beyond. It could be that the same independence and forthrightness that hold God at arm's length now will be flipped one day into a fierce devotion. Who better than the strong to lead a revolution?"
Posted: 31 May 2013 09:11 PM PDT
"But this sadness. It's a knowing. It's heavy and it settles on me. It forces me to recognize that I'm not whole yet. And the world is not whole yet. And I desperately want everything to be whole." My counselor shared this passage with me from a book called Practicing the Presence of People by Mike Mason: "Sadness is one of the Beatitudes: 'Blessed [or in some translations, 'Happy'] are those who mourn, for they will be comforted' (Matthew 5:4). This suggests that sadness is very, very close to happiness. One could almost say that to the Christian they are the same—or at least that there is not true happiness without its wistful tint of divine sadness, and no sadness that does not stand on the doorstep of happiness." I love the kindness of this idea. I love that Jesus' words are, Happy are the sad people. Maybe the sad people are the healers and the prophets. Maybe the sad people have been given a gift to see the world as it really is. And when we see the world, when we see ourselves as we actually are, we understand how desperately we need God to come and bring healing. We don’t have to pretend anymore. We get to need God."

Posted: 02 Jun 2013 10:36 PM PDT
"[T]here is an implied, and quite unwarranted, positivism: we imagine that we are 'reading the text, straight', and that if somebody disagrees with us it must be because they, unlike we ourselves, are secretly using 'presuppositions' of this or that sort. This is simply naïve, and actually astonishingly arrogant and dangerous. It fuels the second point, which is that evangelicals often use the phrase 'authority of scripture' when they mean the authority of evangelical, or Protestant, theology, since the assumption is made that we (evangelicals, or Protestants) are the ones who know and believe what the Bible is saying. And, though there is more than a grain of truth in such claims, they are by no means the whole truth, and to imagine that they are is to move from theology to ideology. If we are not careful, the phrase 'authority of scripture' can, by such routes, come to mean simply 'the authority of evangelical tradition, as opposed to Catholic or rationalist ones...Why is authority like this? Why does it have to be like that? Because God (as in Acts 1 and Matthew 28, which we looked at earlier) wants to catch human beings up in the work that he is doing. He doesn’t want to do it by-passing us; he wants us to be involved in his work. And as we are involved, so we ourselves are being remade. He doesn’t give us the Holy Spirit in order to make us infallible—blind and dumb servants who merely sit there and let the stuff flow through us. So, he doesn’t simply give us a rule book so that we could just thumb through and look it up. He doesn’t create a church where you become automatically sinless on entry. Because, as the goal and end of his work is redemption, so the means is redemptive also: judgement and mercy, nature and grace. God does not, then, want to put people into little boxes and keep them safe and sound. It is, after all, possible to be so sound that you’re sound asleep. I am not in favor of unsoundness; but soundness means health, and health means growth, and growth means life and vigor and new directions. The little boxes in which you put people and keep them under control are called coffins. We read scripture not in order to avoid life and growth. God forgive us that we have done that in some of our traditions. Nor do we read scripture in order to avoid thought and action, or to be crushed, or squeezed, or confined into a de-humanizing shape, but in order to die and rise again in our minds. Because, again and again, we find that, as we submit to scripture, as we wrestle with the bits that don’t make sense, and as we hand through to a new sense that we haven’t thought of or seen before, God breathes into our nostrils his own breath—the breath of life. And we become living beings—a church recreated in his image, more fully human, thinking, alive beings...That, in fact, is (I believe) one of the reasons why God has given us so much story, so much narrative in scripture. Story authority, as Jesus knew only too well, is the authority that really works."
Posted: 02 Jun 2013 09:26 PM PDT
"I've said it before but Whenever I am in a real mess of pain, when a relationship has ended or I am in some kind of emotional suffering, and some well meaning Christian says "Well, when God closes a door, he opens a Window" I start immediately looking around for that open window so I can push them out of it. Which is to say, I don't find ignoring the difficult reality of our lives in favor of some kind of blindly cheerful optimism to be hopeful I find it to be delusional....The Easter hope we have, brothers and sisters, the hope that never disappoints has nothing to do with optimism or the avoidance of suffering, is a hope that can only come from a God who has experienced birth, and love and friendship and lepers and prostitutes and betrayal and suffering and death and burial and a decent into hell itself. Only a God who has born suffering himself can bring us any real hope of resurrection. And if ever given the choice of optimism or resurrection I'd go with resurrection any day of the week.  This is the God of whom Paul speaks.  And the Christian faith is one that does not pretend things aren’t bad. This is a faith that does not offer platitudes to those who lost children this week to suicide or a tornado. This is not a faith that produces optimism it is a faith that produces a defiant hope that God is still writing the story and that despite darkness a light shines and that God can redeem our crap and the beauty matters and that despite every disappointing thing we have ever done or that we have ever endured, that there is no hell from which resurrection is impossible. The Christian faith is one that kicks at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.*

On Family:
Posted: 31 May 2013 09:48 PM PDT
"My siblings have certainly seen me at my worst, and I've seen them at theirs. No one has bolted. It's as if we signed some contract long ago, before we were even aware of what we were getting into, and over time gained the wisdom to see that we hadn't been duped. We'd been graced: with a center of gravity; with an audience that never averts its gaze and doesn't stint on applause. For each of us, a new home, a new relationship or a newborn was never quite real until the rest of us had been ushered in to the front row." Loved this on siblings. I'm so thankful for my sister and for the precious brother-sister relationship that I get to witness the development of every day.

On Parenting:

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 09:57 PM PDT
"It's not surprising that well-intentioned parents cultivate cognitive intelligence and individual achievements as assiduously as we do. These are, after all, such important markers of success in modern-day America. But our focus on outcomes is leading us to look at milestones all wrong -- as a series of boxes and achievements to check off a list on our way to a goal. We focus on our kids' ability to read when they are at an age when we should be focusing on their kindness and character. We worry about overburdening them with chores because they have to do their homework, when we should be cultivating self-help skills that will make them self-reliant, and sending them a clear, unambiguous message: yes, academic achievement is important, but becoming kind and responsible is, too. These are all milestones we don't want to miss."
Posted: 28 May 2013 09:02 PM PDT
" Extensive screen time is linked to a host of problems for children including childhood obesity, sleep disturbance, and learning, attention, and social problems.  And time with screens takes away from other activities known to be more beneficial to their growth and development.  This applies to children of all ages. *  For preschoolers, watching just 20 minutes of a fast-paced cartoon show has been shown to have a negative impact on executive function skills, including attention, the ability to delay gratification, self-regulation, and problem solving." 

This is why we TRY to limit their exposure.

Posted: 02 Jun 2013 09:20 PM PDT
"Of course not, but as long as the narrative continues which articulates that men lack what it takes to nurture and raise children; as long as some argue that the cultivation of children is the domain of women only, we will continue to produce dads who believe they risk their "man-card" by trying....Loving parents – male and female – nurture because that's what loving parents do. There is no "nurture gene." Mom's staying home, rather than dad, is a lifestyle choice. If you're incompetent in caring for your children, please don't drag my entire gender along with you."

On Friendships:

Posted: 28 May 2013 08:36 PM PDT
"If I hadn't told them I was afraid, they may not have known to cheer. Now before you get the wrong idea, I want you to know something about this group of women - these other wives and I are not best friends. We don't have Bible study together or go on vacation with each other's families. I like them, I respect them, I love to spend time with them. But we hardly ever see one another and it honestly would have been easier and more comfortable for me to not let them see me cry. After that evening with them, I reminded myself of this: Don't insist your encouragement should come from a particular person or group of people. Be open to receiving God however (and through whomever) he may want to show himself."

On Education:
Posted: 31 May 2013 09:19 PM PDT
Great ideas!

On Becoming Happier:
Posted: 28 May 2013 09:07 PM PDT
Great list.

On Being Minimal:

Posted: 31 May 2013 09:17 PM PDT
Bookmarking this and probably sticking it to my NYC fridge next year :)

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 10:07 PM PDT
"Stop the glorification of busy. Busy, in and of itself, is not a badge of honor. In fact, directed at the wrong pursuits, it is actually a limiting factor to our full potential. It is okay to not be busy. Repeat this with me: It is okay to not be busy."  

On the Showcasing of Amazing Talent:
Posted: 02 Jun 2013 09:12 PM PDT
How incredibly beautiful.


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