Saturday, February 21, 2015

Weekly Smorgasbord

Well, this is a pretty big list. I think I say this every time, but I need to get back in the routine of actually doing these weekly instead of like monthly. Anyway, it's lots of stuff, but lots of GOOD stuff. Enjoy! 
On Faith: 
Posted: 10 Feb 2015 10:08 PM PST
This is so very fascinating to me. Partly because I assumed many (though no all) were specific to our specific Episcopal church that we've fallen in love with. Turns out, I guess not. Sorry in advance for the truly excessive quoting, but this resonated in a huge way. 
- "The way it anchors my faith when no act of will on my part can. I don’t always believe the words of the Nicene Creed. But I say them anyway. Sometimes they’re more a confession of desire than conviction, a statement of what I desperately hope to be true. When I struggle to believe, the rhythms and patterns and prayers of the liturgy are like an anchor. It’s as if the rest of the community—those around me and those who came before me—are saying, “It’s OK. We’ll carry you through this part Faith is no longer dependent on me willing it into being...
- The way it embraces orthodoxy without rigidity.The other day my priest (who takes Scripture and theology about as seriously as anyone I’ve ever heard preach), referred in passing to Adam and Eve as our “mythic forbearers". No one broke out the pitchforks. There were no murmurs or protests. No angry blog posts. No one accused him of “getting the gospel wrong.". For many of us, it’s a refreshing change. As Lindsey Harts wrote after hearing an Episcopal homily on God’s sovereignty in relation to the Big Bang, “It was the first time I hadn’t heard the Big Bang being bashed in a church setting. Anglicanism has long been known as the via media, the “middle way” between two traditions. The Episcopal Church has also helped me navigate the middle way between unbelief and dogmatism...
- The way their worship can be deeply moving without resorting to emotional manipulation.Sometimes I need to worship in the midst of my brokenness and confusion—not in spite of it and certainly not in denial of it..
- How the “shared cup” matters more than “shared dogma.” I have spent a lot of my life trying to get my theology right. I’ve spent years believing all the “right things” in order that I might belong. So it was jarring when a good friend explained to me that the sermon (the meat!) was not the center of Anglican worship. It’s the Eucharist, the common table around which we all gather...
- The way everyone is welcome as a full participant, even children. My 4-year-old is welcome at the table every week. She is able to receive the bread and the cup even before she’s made a profession of faith. This sends a powerful message: God’s grace is for her, too. She is no less a part of the body of Christ just because she doesn’t fully understand yet what that means.One Sunday shortly after our daughter began receiving communion, we were milling about during coffee hour. (If there was a number 12 on this list, it might be coffee hour.) As we were talking with our priest, our daughter began solemnly placing a goldfish cracker into each of our hands. [Graves did this EXACT same thing and I know it's something he never would have done if he wasn't taking communion weekly, with an short explanation every single time courtesy of  our beloved priests, Jake and Ben]...
- How at the altar, we’re all the same. It’s been said the ground is level at the foot of the cross. I don’t think I’ve appreciated that quite as much anywhere as in the Episcopal Church."
Absolutely spot on as far as what we've experienced in the city at Calvary. 

Posted: 13 Feb 2015 07:24 PM PST
"I am convinced that as a species, we experience a lot of frustration. I think frustration is an emotion unique to humans. And the deepest sources of our frustration comes from our desire to control and to plan. We decide that things should go this way, at this time, according to these plans. We desire to control our destinies. We desire to control our surroundings. We desire to control other people. And few of those things ever work. Whether you are a pastor or a parent, you have probably discovered that you cannot control other people. Yes, it's maddening. But I have also become convinced that I have discovered the antidote for my need to control:I have come to believe that all things truly do work for good."

It's funny because I feel like I have discovered/experienced this on a new level lately. With one friend in particular, this has been the ongoing theme of our conversations lately. I'm sure I'll always want to fight to be in control, but the more I believe this, the more it helps.

Posted: 13 Feb 2015 05:49 PM PST
"If we are so afraid of what Fifty Shades represents, then why don't we do something better to get people's attention? Why don't we practice some radical forgiveness? Why don't we lay down our positions of power in a radical way? People will always fantasize, but I wonder if people experienced from us the kind of love that Jesus showed to people, that they wouldn't feel the need so much to dream of another life. I wonder if people would lose interest in all the stuff floating around us every day. The world pretends that love is many things. It's not greeting cards. It's not hugging strangers in exchange for free food (thank you very much, McDonald's). But I wonder if it would be possible to make a world where people didn't bat an eye at something as trivial, as passe, as boring as Fifty Shades of Grey."

On Love:
Posted: 10 Feb 2015 10:38 PM PST
"Love didn't happen to us. We're in love because we each made the choice to be." This is so fascinating. I don't believe in soul mates, but I'm a little skeptical that one could fall in love with "anyone" given the right set up. So, the middle of the road, I guess. I wouldn't say I willed myself into falling in love with Peyton, but it happened very differently than my previous boyfriends. I've shared this before, but I genuinely thought he was a complete goober (and too old) when Minnie spotted him at Briarwood and said "WHO is that handsome boy smacking kids with towels?" But over the years, I realized he was the kindest and most selfless person I had ever been friends with, he was one of smartest and most hard working people I knew, and he would make a REALLY GREAT father. And falling in love with him felt very natural.

On Parenting:
Posted: 10 Feb 2015 10:15 PM PST
I've noticed something about the parents of teens and twenty-somethings who are high functioning and healthy. I'm talking about young adults who you sit and talk to and wonder how they got so wise, self-controlled and winsome. I've noticed they all have parents who have a distinct, unique, and rare quality about them. It's not a quality you'd expect, but I promise it's the common denominator. And here it is: Healthy and high-functioning people often have parents who do not hide their flaws, especially from their own children."

On Marriage:
Posted: 11 Feb 2015 08:41 PM PST
Good tips!

On Words and Writing:
Posted: 11 Feb 2015 08:15 PM PST
"I've been playing with words and thinking about word economy. The word economy is in a bear market, I think. We say so little with so many words. I am a regular offender."
Posted: 11 Feb 2015 07:55 PM PST
Oh my gosh THIS.
Posted: 11 Feb 2015 01:28 PM PST
I've actually done this from time to time- mainly just when I was looking for a word to replace one I didn't love in a sentence. Anyway, I think it's a fun exercise. And it's a good way to potentially expand your vocabulary, too!

On Something Women Need to Hear:
Posted: 13 Feb 2015 01:04 PM PST
To make matters even more stressful, we constantly measure ourselves against each other's progress, which is a truly dreadful habit. My sister, Catherine, told me recently about a conversation she'd had with a sweet neighbor who -- after watching Catherine spend an afternoon organizing a scavenger hunt for all the local kids -- said sadly, "You're such a better mother than I will ever be." At which point, my sister grabbed her friend's hands and said, "Please. Let's not do this to each other, okay?" No, seriously -- please. Let's not. Because it breaks my heart to know that so many amazing women are waking up at 3 o'clock in the morning and abusing themselves for not having gone to art school, or for not having learned to speak French, or for not having organized the neighborhood scavenger hunt. I fear that -- if we continue this mad quest for perfection -- we will all end up as stressed-out and jumpy as those stray cats who live in Dumpsters behind Chinese restaurants, forever scavenging for scraps of survival while pulling out their own hair in hypervigilant anxiety."

On Early Retirement:
Posted: 11 Feb 2015 10:56 PM PST
And all of a sudden you're not fixing you broke ass dishwasher and you're contemplating line drying all your clothes. Good thing the Renaissance Man is going to retire early.

On Hospitality (Sort of a Different Look at It):
Posted: 11 Feb 2015 10:55 PM PST
"She doesn't rush into the pauses, she sits in the hush and lets me collect my pain, ease it out slowly like a prayer. She asks good questions but doesn't expect easy answers. She's gentle and slow, a presence willing to sit in the dark cold night to show she's with me. Still she comes. I didn't see her hospitality in the tea cups or the comfy couches, the home she keeps decorated and spotless. I don't see it in the things she does or the ways she serves, although I know it's there too. I know she does those things with a frenzy of energy and intention. But I've seen lots of people do those things. Maybe for some people it's easier to check off a list, drop off a casserole, set up the good china and make a roast. But it's hard to sit with someone's pain, let it roll off their slumped shoulders and drag it across yours so you can stand together. And that's what I needed most.I see her quiet hospitality in the space she makes, the hollowed and holy quiet. She reminds me of the Gospel when I open the door and slide into the passenger side as wrecked and empty as I am. I see it when she’s willing to sit in the discomfort of being unable to fix me with a meal or an errand or a Bible verse. I see it when she’s willing to keep coming back to love me through the darkest nights. I saw Jesus a little more clearly when we were sitting in her minivan at McDonald’s at 3:00 a.m."

This is a beautiful, and different, picture of hospitality than what I often think of. It really resonated. So often we need someone just to sit with us in our despair and so often that is, I think, one of the hardest things for another human to do.
Posted: 13 Feb 2015 06:00 PM PST
"But we can bring him into our home. We can bake him a cake and buy him shoes. We can show him love, love, love, and maybe his glasses will start to turn all love-tinted and maybe then he'll look out and see truth and he'll begin to listen for the only voice that can tell him anything at all."

On Saying Goodbye:
Posted: 10 Feb 2015 10:11 PM PST
Ugh. Another goodbye I'm not excited about saying. I'm glad we're not caught up on this season of Parenthood with the rest of America (though I fully intend to rewatch/watch the entire -series). I just don't think I'd have the emotional reserves to handle it.

On Social Media and Shaming:
Posted: 13 Feb 2015 07:24 PM PST
"Still, in those early days, the collective fury felt righteous, powerful and effective. It felt as if hierarchies were being dismantled, as if justice were being democratized. As time passed, though, I watched these shame campaigns multiply, to the point that they targeted not just powerful institutions and public figures but really anyone perceived to have done something offensive. I also began to marvel at the disconnect between the severity of the crime and the gleeful savagery of the punishment. It almost felt as if shamings were now happening for their own sake, as if they were following a script."

On Sexual Ethics:
Posted: 10 Feb 2015 10:29 PM PST
Pretty creative. And to go ahead and clarify, I certainly hope Annie and Graves will choose to abstain until they are married. That is absolutely what Peyton and I will share with them is our conviction. But I also don't believe in abstinence only education, especially in settings that aren't distinctively Christian (i.e. public schools).
Posted: 10 Feb 2015 10:27 PM PST
Ugh. Look, I know it's hard when your heroes fall. But this keeps getting worse and worse. Or rather, more and more keeps getting brought into the light. Shine the light in the hard places and don't shame other people when they do.

On Ethical Eating: 
Posted: 10 Feb 2015 10:24 PM PST
"Locally Laid is directly challenging the egg industry status quo. We move fences all spring, summer and fall, and fill waterers and feeders; it's incredibly demanding work to get birds out of doors. And it all costs more...But here's why we risk your umbrage. When our perfect double entendre breaks through the media clutter in which we're all steeped, we leverage it. With that second look from a consumer, we educate about animal welfare, eating local, Real Food and the economics of our broken food system. We all vote with our food dollars every day and we respect your decision if our playful moniker keeps you from buying our eggs. It was just important to me that you understood everything that was going on behind that name." 

This is pretty great.

On Birth and Writing:
Posted: 11 Feb 2015 10:56 PM PST
"But I believe right in my marrow that the voices and experiences of us regular mamas, having babies, are just as valuable, just as real, just as spirit-filled as any other metaphor."

This is a beautiful post by one of my long time favorites and resonated so deeply.

On Workplace Risks:

Posted: 10 Feb 2015 10:30 PM PST
This is interesting and sad and something I didn't even know was a problem.

On An Amazing Story You Have to Check Out:
Posted: 12 Feb 2015 03:11 PM PST
"A couple days back, I posted the portrait of a young man who described an influential principal in his life by the name of Ms. Lopez. Yesterday I was fortunate to meet Ms. Lopez at her school, Mott Hall Bridges Academy...'This is a neighborhood that doesn’t necessarily expect much from our children, so at Mott Hall Bridges Academy we set our expectations very high. We don’t call the children ‘students,’ we call them ‘scholars.’ Our color is purple. Our scholars wear purple and so do our staff. Because purple is the color of royalty. I want my scholars to know that even if they live in a housing project, they are part of a royal lineage going back to great African kings and queens. They belong to a group of individuals who invented astronomy and math. And they belong to a group of individuals who have endured so much history and still overcome. When you tell people you’re from Brownsville, their face cringes up. But there are children here that need to know that they are expected to succeed.'"

Amazing. This principle is such an inspiring woman.
Posted: 12 Feb 2015 03:10 PM PST

"One of the coolest things about this fundraiser is that it originated with a young man on the street, who chose to tell a stranger about the love and appreciation he had for his school principal. His name is Vidal, and I had a chance to reconnect with him during my visit to Mott Hall Bridges Academy. He could not possibly be a more polite or charismatic young man.'I want to own my own restaurant,' he told me. 'When I was little, I used to watch my mom cook. Then I started cooking for myself when I was nine. I’d get the ingredients myself at the corner store and make something for my brothers. I just thought it was a good thing for an older brother to do. I can make curry chicken, jerk chicken, curry goat, fried rice, macaroni and cheese, and all kinds of stuff.' 'What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment?' 'Getting publicity for my school.'” 

This made me cry. I don't care where you live, if HONY doesn't inspire you, your heart is probably made of ice.
Posted: 12 Feb 2015 03:08 PM PST
On January 19th, I met a young man on the street named Vidal, and I asked him to tell me about the person who had influenced him the most in his life. He told me about his principal, Ms. Lopez, and he explained how she had taught him that he mattered. Over the next two weeks, I learned the story of Ms. Lopez and her school, Mott Hall Bridges Academy. By hearing the stories of MHBA students and educators, my eyes were opened to the unique challenges facing a school in an under-served community. Ms. Lopez taught me that before a student is ready for academic training, they must be made to understand that they deserve success. And that can be the hardest battle in education. Ms. Lopez always said that there was no place her students did not belong. Recently we received an invitation that proved just that.

So, so awesome.
Posted: 12 Feb 2015 03:08 PM PST
And then Brandon asks the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES when he felt the most broken. And he answers honestly and eloquently. And Ms. Lopez knows she's not alone in having wanting to give up on what seems so hard and what seems to not be working. And Vidal now sees two very important people say "This is hard and some days you feel like a total failure. But you could totally influence lives or run the country. Or be featured on HONY and raise a shit ton of money by advocating for yourself and your peers." And it all makes sense.

On Sitting at the Bar:
Posted: 13 Feb 2015 07:17 PM PST
Good tip.

Noteworthy Quotes from the Week:

"I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe. I know what torment this is, but I can only see it, in myself anyway, as the process by which faith is deepened. What people don't realise is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross."
-Flannery O'Connor

"The gospel of grace nullifies our adulation of televangelists, charismatic superstars, and local church heroes. It obliterates the two-class citizenship theoryoperative in many American churches. For grace proclaims the awesome truth that all is gift. All that is good is ours, not by right, but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God. While there is much we may have earned- our degree, our salary, our home and garden, and a good night's sleep- all this is possible only because we have been given so much: life itself, eyes to see and hands to touch, a mind to shape ideas, and a heart to beat with love. We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh. We have the power to believe where others deny, to hope where others despair, to love where others hurt. This and so much more is sheer gift; it is not reward for our faithfulness, our generous disposition, or our heroic life of prayer. Even our fidelity is a gift. 'If we but turn to God,' said St. Augustine, 'that itself is a gift of God.' My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it." 
-Brennan Manning

"All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well." 
-Julian of Norwich. 

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Lord, please restore to us the comfort of merit and demerit. Show us that there is at least something we can do. Tell us that at the end of the day there will at least be one redeeming card of our very own. Lord, if it is not too much to ask, send us to bed with a few shreds of self-respect upon which we can congratulate ourselves. But whatever you do, do not preach grace. Give us something to do, anything; but spare us the indignity of this indiscriminate acceptance.” 
― Robert Farrar Capon

"Here is a vocation that will bring you more satisfaction than if you became a millionaire ten times over: Develop the extraordinary skill for detecting the burdens of others and devote yourself daily to making them lighter.” 
-John Piper

"I believe in romance. I believe in the love between a man and a woman. I believe that love can be sustained for a lifetime. I believe in falling back in love over and over. I believe in making up. I believe that good marriages are wed of soft hearts and hard heads: a tenderness to love and be loved and a tenacity too bone-headed to quit. I believe that laughter lasts longer than sex. I believe that many people marry people they do not love.I believe that desperation gets confused with affection. I believe that many couples divorce that could have made it. I believe that God can resurrect hearts that are stone-cold dead and create love between a couple ex nihilo. I believe that couples can put in their fifty years like a prison sentence with souls that have been divorced for decades. And that Jesus sees right through it. I believe some fights are worth having. I believe that laziness is the leading narcotic of romance. I believe that neglect is a form of infidelity. I believe in the power of repentance to jump start a dead heart. I believe the most important synonym of the word love in a marriage is forgiveness. I believe in working it through, crying it through, even fighting it through, then I believe in putting it behind you. For keeps. Love resists the inundating urge to bring back up the old with every new offense. I believe that getting godly counseling is an act of courage. I believe in the immeasurable power of mutual respect. I believe that cynicism about romance is as unhealthy as believing in fairy tales. But I do not believe in teaching our little girls that their worth will be measured by the love of a man. Unless that man is Jesus. I do not believe in staying silent in a culture that says girls are as valuable as they are desirable. I do not believe it is helpful that our constant go-to compliment to a little girl is how pretty she is. She is also smart. And strong. And thoughtful. And artistic. And creative. And well able. I do not believe in perpetuating the myth of happily-ever-after in marriage. I believe in teaching our adolescents that we can have love-ever-after, devotion-ever-after, hope-ever-after, and faith-ever-after but only if we don’t faint-ever-after. We prepare soldiers for real war but leave young couples ill-prepared for real marriage. I don’t believe that realism has to remotely equal pessimism. I do not believe in teaching our girls that men are gods or devils. I do not believe in marrying a man who won’t date you. I don’t believe in making love to a man who won’t kiss you. For what any of this is worth. One last thing in case you’re still reading. I believe that great marriages are great but that a good marriage can also be good. Amid the blur of magazine headlines and blog articles about how to have a great romance, a great marriage, great sex, great kids, great families, great jobs, great relationships, and fabulously great futures with great impact, save a little room in your heart to believe that good can also be good. Because life’s just not always great. But, man, it can be good." 
-Beth Moore
"Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, 'Do it again'; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, 'Do it again' to the sun; and every evening, 'Do it again' to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we." 
-G.K. Chesterton
"Obama made a (very understandable) historical mistake that many people made when comparing the the Christian Crusades as being analogous to Isalm Jihadists. But do not let that one mistake distract from the other evils he mentioned that have been done in the name of Christ, such as the brutal murdering and oppression of African Americans under Jim Crow laws by a 'Christian' region. The Gospel calls us sinners who are being transformed in a process, and yet when it comes to history, it seems many people want to act as if the Church has been saints when its flaws come about. Yes, ISIS and terrorism have perpetrated many evils, and the religion of Islam as a whole has historically been a more of a violent and oppressive than the religion of Christianity. That doesn't mean Islam is inherently a violent, terrorist religion. But more important than that, it does not mean affiliation with Christianity makes us immune to sin. But when we fail to acknowledge the sins of our 'tribe' when we wish to point to sins of the other 'tribe,' we act counter to the truth of the Gospel which first calls us out to acknowledge our own sins, not others.So to act as if Obama's comparison is entirely wrong is not the truth, but it is the flesh within us that seeks to justify ourselves rather than accept our status as fellow sinners in continuing need of the transforming grace of God. More than that, it is potentially partisan politics that is more concerned with criticizing a disliked figure and blinding ourselves from and denying our history of injustice, to whatever degree it is true. But the Gospel is full of light and does not hide or deny the truth, but brings it to light, owns up to sins, and calls us to a new way of life."
- Owen Weddle 
Noteworthy Images from the Week:


1 comment:

Bech and Marley Evans said...

I fell in love with that Julian quote not too long ago. And that Chesterton quote is one of my favorite things ever written. When Jack (and someday Gil!) asks me to do something yet again, I try to think about that quote.