Friday, August 21, 2015

Weekly Smorgasbord

A big batch of links! I'm still behind on sharing these. Hopefully I can get caught up soon!

On Faith:
Posted: 15 Jul 2015 02:48 PM PDT
"Later, I would return to faith, but not to the faith of my childhood, with its expectation that surety could be had by a man or a woman. (Again, it could be that Surety has us.) I’d return to the church different, because this sense of not knowing—my “agnostic sensibility,” I now say especially to my friends who are not religious—is something I carry with me, even as someone claimed and sought first by the Christ I confess...He may be speaking from a political angle, from a sense of wanting to see right done in the world—and I want this, too—but I write firstly out of a desire for honesty, not knowing what it might bring about. I want to be honest before God and before my neighbor, even and especially when that entails admitting profound doubt. Because where else could we start than with truth-telling? Where else could we begin to be freed? He continues:“It seems not inappropriate that I take my inner atheist with me to church every Sunday. The atheist within me is as noisy as my stomach, even when I am standing in the Communion line.” You and me both, buddy, I thought before it occurred to me to write anything about it. And then I thought, Us and how many others?"

It's taking just about everything in me not to quote the entire thing here, but this is one of the best things I've read in awhile (maybe just because it's so relevant). I was talking to a friend (well, my best friend) this morning about how I think one thing Protestant Christianity struggles with is that we are afraid (terrified, even) to embrace the mystery of God. I've actually had this conversation with several people recently. I know that's been true of myself in the past and mystery and uncertainty still bother me deeply and threaten to undo me, if I'm being truthful. I want to be in control, I want to know the right answer, and I want people to think I'm a good, mature Christian. [And I want that for the man I love. Sometimes, I'd rather have that than honesty and that's a terrible place to find yourself.] Saying I don't have all the answers feels like a betrayal of my faith. But I look at the Cross and it really doesn't matter if I have them all. It is finished. It is enough. It is sufficient.
Posted: 23 Jul 2015 04:00 PM PDT
"As people of faith, we may believe our options are limited: Polarize ourselves from each other by taking hard stances, or avoid the ugliness by insulating ourselves in personal safety. By taking hard stances we divide ourselves from others, instead of drawing each other into a Kingdom of love and grace. Conversely, by insulating ourselves, we risk surrender to apathy. What if there is another way? What if, when engaging the news in our context, we first create space to meet with God in the midst of a hurting world?"
Posted: 22 Jul 2015 09:17 PM PDT
"Most days, if you're aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-lady who just screamed at her little child in the checkout line — maybe she's not usually like this; maybe she's been up three straight nights holding the hand of her husband who's dying of bone cancer, or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the Motor Vehicles Dept. who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a nightmarish red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it's also not impossible — it just depends on what you want to consider. If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is and who and what is really important — if you want to operate on your default-setting — then you, like me, will not consider possibilities that aren't pointless and annoying. But if you've really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer-hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars — compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things.
Posted: 26 Jul 2015 07:55 PM PDT
Russell Moore is probably in my top five favorite Evangelical voices. And this is one of the best things I've read on the subject so far: "The first step is to recognize that sexual abuse is not merely sexual immorality. Sexual immorality, any sexual contact outside the bounds of covenantal marriage, is sin and comes under the just condemnation of God's law. Immorality is a matter of a sin against God and, usually, sin against others—a spouse, the other party, and so forth. Immorality, by itself, is dealt with in terms of a call to repentance and the sort of discipleship it takes to overcome sinful patterns by the power of the Spirit and, where possible, to restore broken relationships...Sexual abuse is immoral, but it is far more than just sexual. Sexual abuse is an act of violence, in which one leverages power to sexually violate the helpless. The resulting aftermath is not just a guilty conscience awaiting judgment on the part of the perpetrator, but a victim who has been assaulted.
Posted: 22 Jul 2015 08:41 PM PDT
"It became clearer to me over time that it is necessary for collegiate volunteers to re-prioritize and re-evaluate our approach to aid so that we use our resources to empower countries to develop themselves according to their own standards and not continue to hinder them with our own. The "mission trip model" has been praised for the individuals willing to sacrifice their time and money for impoverished communities, doing as Christ would. However, without knowledge of language, local culture, societal nuances, and the economical framework of the community, this type of "voluntourism" is sometimes wasteful at best, and possibly destructive to the community at worst."

On Family:
Posted: 22 Jul 2015 08:51 PM PDT
"I guess it's true, because what tore my heart out was this: Before the fifth and last time my husband had sex with another woman, trying to convince himself (and her) that he wouldn't go through with it, he said to her, "There's no place I'd rather be right now, but…."
Posted: 18 Jul 2015 12:41 PM PDT
"Those whom we hope to shape and influence for Christ need more than information, they need spiritual formation, a process which requires time, attention, leaning in, making mistakes and then learning from the correction. I want to be someone who doesn't just speak of grace, but takes the time to work alongside others in sowing it in real time, with real sweat and tears. I want to be someone who doesn't just tell my children to forgive, but takes the time to train them by example: naming my faults, asking for their forgiveness, doing more than brushing off slights, but doing the hard work of acknowledgement and reconciliation before them."

On Rest:
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 03:54 PM PDT
"I hurry when I believe in the lie of "not enough." That I'm not enough, that I haven't done enough or that there is not enough time. Mark Buchanan also observes, "Most of us live afraid that we're almost out of time. But you and I, we're heirs of eternity. We're not short of days." This perspective allows me to stop hurrying and grants me permission to fully attend to whatever moment I'm presently in. It's only when I center myself in the truth that I am unconditionally loved and Jesus has already accomplished it all that I can receive the gift of rest. The deeper I am drawn into his love, the deeper I enter his rest. For at his heart IS rest. So these days, I'm learning to fully engage in each moment without rushing onto the next thing. I'm learning to make a cup of tea and drink it while it's hot. I'm learning to leave some things for tomorrow. I'm learning to pause and actually play."

On Minimalism:
Posted: 30 Jul 2015 01:34 PM PDT
"I find that more often than not, I'm swayed by the ambience of the store and my particular mood when I'm there. It looks amazing at the store, but it just doesn't work in my home. I might be with friends or my mom, and it'd be a fun experience to buy jewelry with them—but once I head home, I don't regret leaving behind those earrings. Or that chipped teacup looks really cool in the flea market booth, but once I'm in my car, I can think back to it and honestly say "meh."" Really great ideas.

On Teachers:
Posted: 26 Jul 2015 08:00 PM PDT
"I'm writing in my journal. When I was in 11th grade, I had an English teacher named Ms. Lois Bricklin who required us to write in a journal every day. Then at the end of each marking period, we were supposed to turn in our journal. For the first two marking periods, I wrote all my entries right before the journal was due, and then backdated them. But for the third marking period, I actually made an effort to do it every day. By the fourth marking period, I was hooked. I haven't missed a day in over 30 years. It's like brushing my teeth. I turned 50 in January, so my latest entries have been very reflective. I've been questioning whether I'm living the life that I wanted to live."

On Literature:
Posted: 22 Jul 2015 09:02 PM PDT
"Instead, I think Watchman is best read as the first imagining of Mockingbird. It's the seed, but it's not anywhere close enough to be called a first draft. Watchman is heavily biographical, opening with a twenty-something girl returning to Alabama after a long absence in New York City—a journey Lee herself made, perhaps with similar results."

Posted: 28 Jul 2015 03:21 PM PDT
In many ways, Atticus's subtle racism in Mockingbird is the story's brilliance. Go Set a Watchman, in comparison, is unsubtle—but its passion and roughness are its charm. Where Mockingbird is polite, Watchman is rude. And Maycomb deserves some rudeness. In Watchman, Lee quits being subtle about sexism, too. Tomboy Scout has grown up to be Jean Louise, the kind of woman who jokes about her period and offers to have an affair with her boyfriend rather than committing to marriage. Her boyfriend watches her sleep and thinks "he was her true owner, that was clear to him." Interesting read.

On Poverty:
Posted: 26 Jul 2015 07:39 PM PDT
"And yet, no one has ever accused me of being a bad mother. Money covered my many shortcomings. Those late permission slips could be faxed in because I had a landline and a fax machine, and because I was fortunate enough to send my kids to an adequately staffed school that had the time to help out busy parents. And because we could afford it, my husband and I went to specialist after specialist until we found the best care for our daughter. In many small ways every day, middle-class resources eased the pressures of raising three kids. I'm proud of the people my kids grew up to be, but while some of that is a result of them being inherently terrific human beings who were loved and supported, it also comes from simply having enough money and resources to keep our busy lives running relatively smoothly."
Posted: 31 Jul 2015 02:04 PM PDT
"The first thing I learned was that I was not a volunteer on the playground of the projects. I was a student. My job was not to fix things. My job was to learn. My job was to listen. Take note. Grow. And then be better."

On Happiness:
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 01:57 PM PDT
Interesting graphic.

On Saying Less:
Posted: 23 Jul 2015 09:12 PM PDT
"It's not easy to shut up. Saying less means surrendering my control. But the trade-off of control allows room for others to speak up. When I say less, I depend less on others to define and root me. In the silence, it is ok to be wrong, ok to be misunderstood, ok to be unfunny or irrelevant. I can keep more of myself by defending less of myself. I can walk away with glowing secrets in my pocket, words saved for later...Instead I breathe and hold my tongue, letting it wriggle and quake in my mouth, swallowing my words rather than my foot. I wait for the urge to pass and let pregnant pauses give birth to more than I could imagine or create on my own."

On Life:
Posted: 23 Jul 2015 09:02 PM PDT
"8. SET GOOD BOUNDARIES. Choose whose feedback matters, and whose opinions don't. Protect your personal time and your personal space. Don't make yourself accessible to people you don't need to be accessible to." So interesting.

On Stress:
Posted: 18 Jul 2015 01:00 PM PDT
"My life is a landscape of summers; a soundtrack of flip-flops and fireworks, a language of flowers...The watermelon was a dud, but the blueberries are perfect and yes, I choose it. I choose bare feet tracking dirt across my floors, and I'll sweep them, I will. But I won't mop. The messes don't matter. There's big work to be done, but not today. Today, we rest. We play. We struggle into the mundane. We do it together, just like we did all those summers ago."

On Introversion:
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 10:22 PM PDT
"And the more Cheek and his colleagues, including graduate students Jennifer Grimes and Courtney Brown, thought about it, and the more self-described introverts they interviewed, the less correct this one-size-fits-all definition seemed. There's not just one way to be an introvert, Cheek now argues — rather, there are four shades of introversion: social, thinking, anxious, and restrained. And many introverts are a mix of all four types, rather than demonstrating one type over the others."

On Cats:
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 10:30 PM PDT

On Regional Differences:
Posted: 03 Aug 2015 12:56 PM PDT
""The borders of my eleven American nations are reflected in many different types of maps — including maps showing the distribution of linguistic dialects, the spread of cultural artifacts, the prevalence of different religious denominations, and the county-by-county breakdown of voting in virtually every hotly contested presidential race in our history," Woodard writes in the Fall 2013 issue of Tufts University's alumni magazine. "Our continent's famed mobility has been reinforcing, not dissolving, regional differences, as people increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities."" Very interesting.

Noteworthy Quotes from the Week(or Month):
"I like peace. I crave peace. I want peace — in my relationships, in my ministry, in my life. But sometimes I want peace so much that I sacrifice progress for the sake of peace. And I’m learning that’s a mistake. If I make my primary goal to keep the peace, I limit the opportunity to address things that need to be addressed. I shy away from addressing conflicts. I’m trying to remind myself daily it’s not the absence of conflict that determines whether or not my relationships are healthy. It’s knowing how to handle the conflicts that will inevitably arise. It’s desiring to make progress even if it costs me some peace. It’s realizing peace and progress don’t often hold hands and operate simultaneously." -Lysa TerKeurst

"It just struck me. Old Bob Marley and Julian of Norwich prayed the same prayer. Sing along: everything's gonna be alright; everything's gonna be alright; (and all manner of) everything's gonna be alright." -Seth Haines
"God has modeled to us that words breathe worlds. What you say shapes life."- Donald Miller
"Welcome to the valley of the shadow of death...thank God grace reigns here." -Tullian Tchividjian
"I love that my feed is filled with my #LGBT friends celebrating as well as my friends who feel today is not worth celebrating.  If your feed only looks one way then you probably need to go make some new friends.
It's better that way." -Carlos Whittaker
"Sacraments are not (and should never be considered!) the property of the State. For or against, no court decision has ever obligated God. But God obligates our kindness." -Preston Yancey
"The Apostle Paul and I in Conversation:
Me: Paul, gay marriage was made legal today in all 50 states of America. As followers of Christ how should we respond? 
The Apostle Paul: “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:4-5).
Me: Well yes Paul obviously I should be doing that, but shouldn’t I be doing something about the fact that gay people will be getting married in all 50 states?
The Apostle Paul: “I have written you in my letter (to the Corinthians) not to associate with sexually immoral people but I did not at all mean the people of this world who are immoral. For if I meant not associating with everyone who was sexually immoral in this world then you would have to leave this world! I wrote to you saying that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother or a Christian but is sexually immoral. With such a man or woman do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church who are sexually immoral? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)
Me: Yes but Paul won’t gay marriage sweeping across each and every state hurt the growth of Christianity in this land.
The Apostle Paul: Have you not studied the demographics, multiple religions, and sexual cults of Ephesus, Corinth, or Rome when I first planted churches there? In Corinth we were less than a 1% of the population when I planted that church and what was the percentage of Christians in the Roman Empire 300 years later?
Me: Ok good point. This gay marriage issue still seems like it is so important though.
The Apostle Paul: Did not the brother of the Lord, James say: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress.” (James 1:27)? Did not the Lord Jesus Himself say that the true characteristics of His Kingdom here is to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, comfort the sick, and visit those in prison (Matt 25:34-36)? How concerned are you for all the children who died today in the world of starvation or the homeless in your city or the sick who are in need or the unjustly oppressed through trafficking, or fleeing their home country because of war and genocide?
Me: When you put it like that this gay marriage ruling does seem like it should be pretty low on our priority list of concern.
Me: One more question. If you just could say in one sentence what Christians should be about in a pagan land what would it be?
The Apostle Paul: “I would determine to know nothing among them except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2)" -Justin Bass
"Yeah...Some general rules now that the gay marriage verdict is out...
1) Be nice...simple as that. People on every side can get very personally hurt over language.
2) Realize that there are not two sides to this issue but many sides to this issue...I've never even really shared my own views because they're too nuanced for me to really spell out in any non-book size detail. But understand that everyone is not confined to opinion boxes.
3) Understand that everybody here is invested in this issue for a variety of reasons: emotional, relational, personal, theological, and cultural. You may disagree with one's reasons, but let's get out of the game of assuming that everybody should be able to immediately extract themselves from those contexts and move them to a new position that is more "enlightened."
4) Don't use the word bigot...if you use that word, you are only trying to rhetorically shame somebody into accepting your view...and that itself ironically makes you the bigot. So let's just take that word off the table please...
5) For my pro-gay friends, remember that this is not just a cultural journey but a personal one. After all, even in the 90s your more moderate to liberal politicians were not where they are now. Even our current president had his own evolution on the if you are asking for people to come to your viewpoint, allow them the time to journey there personally instead of trying to force it with legislative action...It's not going to happen overnight. Also, remember just because somebody doesn't agree with you doesn't mean they don't love you.
6) For my anti-gay friends, realize that this is a very complex issue for many and one that is loaded with all sorts of relational and existential feelings. A big part of our identity is our sexuality and there are people--I've known many--that really genuinely struggle with it. It's more complicated than a "choice." Also, it's probably worth re-considering how far your view of government legislated morality is really rooted in a Christendom model of Church-State...America isn't and has never been a Christian nation, so lets let the expectation that it should uphold Christian ethics go. We've enslaved people, massacred ethnic groups, demonized people based on race and gender, and we've made a massive medical practice out of killing unborn children. So this is not the "tipping point" of cultural morality.
7) Oh yeah, be nice." -Randy Hardman
"Here is what I genuinely don’t understand about the argument against civil rights for same-sex couples: The argument holds that because some citizens believe that their religion forbids same-sex marriage, it should be illegal for everyone. Okay. Some citizens believe that their religion forbids remarriage for divorcees (Matthew 19). Should we make that illegal? Some citizens (and MANY citizens up until the 1970s - correction: 1990s - ) believe their religion forbids interracial marriage. Did the Supreme Court overreach when it declared in 1967 that state laws banning interracial marriage were unconstitutional? Still others believe their religion teaches the sole purpose of marriage is procreation. Should it be illegal for infertile people to get married or couples over 60? Nothing about yesterday’s decision forces people with religious convictions against same-sex marriage to perform those marriages. That freedom is preserved, just as it remains totally legal for a church today to refuse to marry an interracial couple. Yesterday's ruling simply allows for those who do not share that same religious conviction to enjoy the same civil liberties that the rest of us enjoy. Furthermore, is it not a more serious violation of religious liberty to tell a same-sex couple whose religion allows for, and in fact celebrates, marriage that they cannot practice that religious conviction because some of their fellow citizens do not agree with their particular expression of it? Civil rights aren’t up to a vote. They aren’t up to public opinion. Civil rights are part of what it means to be an American citizen. Theological arguments around marriage set aside for another day, I simply cannot find a single compelling argument in support of denying civil rights to LGBT people that does not rely on an unhealthy marriage (sorry!) between church and state. " -Rachel Held Evans

"Cosby did not give women drugs "for sex". He gave them drugs to make it easier for him to commit rape." -Sarah Schwartz (via Twitter)

"Honesty before God requires the most fundamental risk of faith we can take: the risk that God is good, that God does love us unconditionally. It is in taking this risk that we rediscover our identity. To bring the truth of ourselves, just as we are, to God, just as God is, is the most dignified thing we can do in this life." Gerald May

Challenge and dismantle the accepted standards of 'normal' bodies and dare to look into the different and say, “Here, I see my Christ.”- Preston Yancey 

Noteworthy Images from the Week (or Month):
Lots of links and yes, I'm still behind on these, too. Trying to catch up!
Not gonna lie, one time I legit vomited because my precious grandmother let me eat all the peanut butter I wanted straight from the jar. I am thankful my children have grandparents that would do the same.

Hope you enjoy and learn something new! 

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