Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Weekly Smorgasbord

A pretty good list of links, if I say so. You'll notice a couple of Advent themed ones that I somehow missed before Christmas but were way too good not to share.

On Faith:
Posted: 27 Dec 2015 10:53 AM PST
"And I wept for lack of clarity. Because my white, American, 21st century heart was confused. I had nothing like peace. Where I, having been born a Christian- Because history and technology and lots of blood and colonialism and imperialism, (and blatant disregard for the environment) have built for me an empire within which I am fortunate enough to live relatively conflict-free (and through a series of many wars and mandates and conversions by sword live where the culture is "Christian") and thus ride this wave all the way to the pearly gates? So within this bubble, in this tiny speck that is earth in the ocean of an infinite universe, I have been born into privilege and handed an "ancient" text about faith and so my eternity will not be hellfire? Some days, I was stuck there. Thomas, demanding proof. I'm not trying to be cynical. But we're talking about infinity, eternity, and vastness beyond my understanding. And I had religion lessons to teach. Children to raise. Coffee to pour and words to write. And if He is He, God must be bigger than all of that. As such, I struggle with the preciseness of our faith."
Posted: 07 Jan 2016 10:29 AM PST
Another beautiful poem from John Blase.
Posted: 04 Jan 2016 11:07 PM PST
"One of the most important aspects of my Christian faith, for me, is that because of God's grace, I am already enough. I am beloved. I am wanted. There is nothing I could do to become more loved. There is nothing that I could do to become less loved. I don't have to be good. I don't have to be better. And yet, the clock strikes midnight and the calendar page turns, and it's new in some vague way…and there's a part of me that loves that. There's part of me that wants something new for myself here in the first hours of the brand new year."
Posted: 04 Jan 2016 10:01 PM PST
"Certainly others bear much deeper scars, but even the most painful religious experiences cannot simply be discarded. They must be confronted, molded, repurposed. It's a messy, sacred process. This is why, in the wake of my last book release, I so strongly disliked headlines about my "leaving evangelicalism for the Episcopal Church." While I'm happy to acknowledge that I've switched denominational affiliation, there is much about evangelicalism that I joyfully bring with me through the doors of St. Luke's Episcopal Church and which the people there joyfully receive. Very little of my faith has involved leaving and arriving. The vast majority of it has involved wrestling, meandering, stretching, struggling. As the saying goes, it's a work in progress. My spiritual GPS has yet to chirp, " You have arrived.""
Posted: 03 Jan 2016 04:04 PM PST
"The world knows little of Advent and will be, I fear, all worn out by the evening of December 25. The traditional twelve days are too many when the feast began in mid-November. But the earth has one sermon that has never lost its power." When spring returns, even the weary world rejoices.
Posted: 23 Dec 2015 10:30 PM PST
"It never occurs to us that Christ is stronger than the "piss" of our lives. I looked at the men in the study and said, This is the scandal of the Incarnation. This is the scandal of Christmas. That God descended into the piss, shit and darkness of your life. And the piss, shit and darkness did not overcome it. I know, I told the men, that this is so very hard to believe. That Jesus goes into the darkest. most disgusting, most defiling corners of our lives. This, all by itself, is hard to believe. But even harder to believe is that Jesus is stronger than that polluting, shameful, defiling darkness. That is the scandal of Christmas."
Posted: 23 Dec 2015 09:50 PM PST
"Almost all of our theology – and therefore our practical lives – has its roots in what we believe about the nature and character of God. It all tracks back. And really, if we want to know what God looks like, we can look to Jesus. That's what the Bible tells us. Jesus was meant to clarify, to answer the questions, to clean up the dirty window through which we kept trying to behold the holy. Hebrews 1:3 states that Jesus is "the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being." So I didn't learn how to practice joy until I learned to practice grief, and I didn't learn how to do either one of those things well until I learned that God can be trusted."
On Story:
Posted: 26 Dec 2015 07:53 PM PST
"So whatever blend of stories and emotions 2015 is leaving you with, remember that these are but pages in a book that is yet unwritten. Feel hopeful as you cling to the real truth that God is in the business of redemption and restoration and the telling of a good story. The book is a beautiful mess that is moving toward something and we all influence the plot line and play a role in the character development of our friends and neighbors."

On Waiting:
Posted: 27 Dec 2015 10:32 PM PST
I hate the powerlessness of hope. Waiting to find out what comes next is uncomfortable, unsettling, hard. And yet as I listen again to the long cherished story of Advent, I remember that those who wait are always in good company. Elizabeth had longed to become a mother for most of her lifetime. Anna had prayed for years for God's kingdom to come to Jerusalem. Even Mary, with her angel visits and promises from God, had to watch and wait, year after year, as her miracle baby grew into the dying Messiah. The stories we tend to tell are the ones with action, climax, conclusions. But life—real, faith-building, character-shaping, soul-growing life—happens in the waiting, where it's hard and lonely and unclear. Advent reminds us that our waiting is not in vain. God is working behind the scenes to make the world right. He's answering prayers and fulfilling promises in strange and surprising ways. Because only God could bring kings and shepherds to the same stable. Only God could grow new life in a virgin's womb.

On Writing:
Posted: 27 Dec 2015 11:36 AM PST
"Sometimes, I still catch myself wanting to write whimsical bits of details. I catch myself spinning poetic lines about the crystal-glazed windows on all the cars that have yet to move this early autumn morning. And the way the fog settles in the Skagit basin covering everything but the jagged North Cascades that refuse to tuck under that heavy, misty quilt. I want to write about the man in the burgundy sedan with the shaggy hair who seems to be singing along to his favorite band for the entire hour we travel parallel to each other and the woman who I caught putting on her mascara while driving 70 miles per hour. I want to write about these tiny moments—about people I've never met and about the way that makes me feel. And I really believe in that. I really believe in the power of poetry and movement and those teeny tiny split seconds that can be spun into whole pages, because that is what writers do. But on the other side of things, I still need to communicate and punctuate. So I am learning the art of doing both and all the while I am trying to write my way into healing."

On Social Media:
Posted: 27 Dec 2015 10:31 PM PST
"If anything, this is where social media has become so destructive. It gives us the forum to share our beliefs and opinions without apology, and then it offers us the option of erasing those we disagree with. Before we know it, our online world is nothing more than a group of people affirming our deeply held beliefs and opinions, something that only serves to more deeply entrench us in our positions and alienate us from those who think differently."

On Neighborhoods of the Past:
Posted: 07 Jan 2016 10:17 PM PST
"There was once a vibrant neighbourhood in Manhattan known for its stores signs and newspapers written in Arabic, the smell of fresh Baklava wafting from caf├ęs, mothers wearing veils watching their children from the stoop playing in the street. Little Syria existed just south of the current location of the World Trade Center, roughly in present-day Tribeca; the cultural hub of America's first middle eastern immigrant community."

Super interesting.

On Years of Uniforms:
Posted: 03 Jan 2016 10:36 PM PST
Really cool photography. The soldiers' inventory is the most interesting to me.

On Music and Movies (for laughs):
Posted: 03 Jan 2016 03:21 PM PST
"Let's look at that hair. Let's look at Taylor Hanson banging on the keyboards in a way that bears zero relationship to the backing track of the song and Zac in a Playskool commercial on the drums. They're all hailing a cab now: Zac appears not to be riding in the booster seat that is required for him by law? "
Posted: 04 Jan 2016 10:29 PM PST
"…gorgeous, lush setting" = insanely violent and about a small Asian country "Highly anticipated" = based on a YA novel "A classic all-American story" = Tom Hanks' eyes twinkle a whole bunch Hysterical.
Noteworthy Quotes and Thoughts:
"Is there any difference between friendship and human love or charity? 'On the contrary; there is a vast difference; for divine authority approves that more are to be received into the bosom of charity than into the embrace of friendship. For we are compelled by the law of charity to receive in the embrace of love not only our friends but also our enemies. But only those do we call friends to whom we can fearlessly entrust our heart and all its secrets; those, too, who, in turn, are bound to us by the same law of faith and security.'" -Aelred of Rievaulx

"I sincerely worry that our current school culture will one day be considered on the wrong side of history. That eventually enough research will emerge that people commonly accept that an 8-hour school day followed by hours of homework is detrimental to young minds, and that standardized testing will be widely viewed as responsible for some of the worst educational practices in history. But what do we do in the meantime? That is the question." -Kristen Howerton [I mean, there are things I worry more about us being on the "wrong side of history" on, but this is one of the (many) reasons we chose to homeschool. Especially when our children are very young, I don't feel comfortable with them spending so much of their days in a traditional classroom with work on top of that to complete when they arrived home.]

"My 2016 wish for the internet: A revival of common sense, basic human respect, reason, and an ability to handle nuance. These four disciplines would reduce FB drama by 99%. We can do it. We don't have to poke holes in every sentence, derail every post, argue every straw man, and find offense where there is none. Some thoughts can stay in our heads. We can give people the benefit of the doubt. We can acknowledge that not every facet of every idea can be covered in one status update. We can use discernment to extrapolate someone's basic idea without chasing silly rabbit trails ("If we only say yes to things that inspire and excite us, who will clean the toilets?" ...sigh). We can write to people the way we would speak to their faces. We can disagree without launching shame grenades. We can even disagree silently (!!!!!).
We can use our words for good! We can say lovely, kind, encouraging things online to each other. We can give out atta boys and atta girls. We can act like nice people we would want to be around. We can rally together for great good. We can dive into complicated justice issues together with respect and commitment.
I promise to work really hard on these things on this page. I will treat you respectfully, and I will do a better job of blocking people who cannot treat me (or you) with respect. I will be a better host for conversations and try to make this a safer space for us to wrestle and talk through hard things and disagree like adults.
Common sense. Basic human respect. Reason. Ability to handle nuance." -Jen Hatmaker

"There is a whole wonderful realm of relational intimacy that our culture misses out on by loading all of its human-closeness eggs in the basket of specifically sexual intimacy. We tend to refer to these latter relationships as “romantic,” and yet perhaps our sense of romance here is a bit impoverished. Perhaps there is room for a kind of romance with our beloved friends: doing for one another the little deeds of affection that we often associate with a lover wooing his or her espoused, things like writing letters that affirm the beloved’s virtues and beauty, attending carefully to the things that delight their soul and spontaneously and gratuitously fulfilling them, forbearing with their irritating eccentricities while dwelling on their excellences, overcoming their occasional coldness with a deeper kindness." -The Rev. Mac Stewart [Such a good word. We do ourselves and others a disservice when we elevate romantic relationships too much and don't recognize the merit in the platonic, yet intimate relationships life (and God) has to offer.]

Noteworthy Images: 

Noteworthy Videos:
"We're putting the peninsula in your mouth without any strain on the environment". LOLOL.

Such a kind gesture. And I love how he actually put his shirt and hat on the man (whom he said "his body looked sick") instead of just handing it to him. Sweet Samaritans in our beloved city (and probably also Babykins #3) made me teary.


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