Saturday, February 13, 2016

Weekly Smorgasbord

Another large helping of links. This week's links include wasted years, historical amnesia, pain and illness, Winter, banned books, and kudzu.
   On Faith:
"Friend, Maybe you needed to know that today. Maybe you needed to know that at your lowest, Jesus bent down — all the way from heaven — to find you and save you. Jesus is more than a flicker at the end of the hallway. He is more than a light at the faraway door. He is not Someone whom you have to strain to reach. He is at the doorway. But is also with you in the hallway. He IS the way. God is faithful, even when we have been broken down into so many pieces that we feel utterly faithless."
"Your Father God is a good, good Father and all you need to do is curl up next to Him and breathe in and out; you don’t even need to say anything. It’s enough and it’s the best and if it’s my favorite part of a day filled with gifts and blockbusters and all the razzmatazz the marketing world could cook up for us – if this moment right here, at midnight, this moment my son isn’t even aware of – if this is the best, the BIGGEST HIGHLIGHT Of my day – how much more must our Heavenly Father thrill when you come and curl up exhausted at the end of the year and just breathe in and out next to Him."
"So, together, we organized an event called “Southside Evangelism.” Our church is located in “Southside Columbus.” It is a historic, diverse neighborhood bordered by downtown, the Mississippi University for Women, and the Tombigbee Waterway. This neighborhood, our neighborhood, became our aim. Our goal was to simply remind them that we are neighbors, and we would like to get to know them." 
I so love this PB and his message and I also adore the idea of Mississippi Episcopalians evangelizing door to door with pecans. [Also the priest at this church is a former Biking Club buddy's baby brother. I love FB because I get to keep up with folks like him.]
"When we familiarize ourselves with only one side of the debate (typically the side ultimately found to be just) we miss the full depth of the argument and, worse yet, slip into a sort of historical amnesia that allows us to believe we too would have chosen the side of good on account of its seemingly obvious virtue." 
Peyton shared Neil Carter's article that she mentions with me awhile back. My thoughts were mostly "low anthropology, all day every day" but I think RHE makes some very good points here. Let's be willing to examine (all parts of) our pasts and examine ourselves. [ETA: low anthropology-- in other words, no shit Christians are often found on "the wrong side of history". We miss up quite a bit. It *kinda* points to our need for a Savior. That doesn't trouble me too much at all.]

"Sometimes what we’re holding onto isn’t really an anchor for our soul — but an idol for our destruction. Sometimes when it feels like God’s breaking our anchor — He’s really breaking our idols —- what we were holding on to more than we were holding on to Him. Sometimes God allows all our anchors to break —- so we know the only unbreakable anchor we have is Him."
"Christians fear the freedom we have in Christ, not only for others but even for ourselves. We are terribly concerned that life apart from the law is no life at all, only chaos, and so we have attempted to bury grace underneath a fiction that it can be married to the law to give the gospel structure. Understand this fear clearly– it is the fear that Christ’s own word of forgiveness, his promise of life, cannot deliver what it says, but must be reinforced to protect us. We pretend that some blend of law and promise still deserves the name freedom. But it is not so. Jesus Christ and his forgiveness need no supplementation, and his freedom needs nor tolerates any hedge around it. It’d be nice if his people remembered that now and then."
On Love:
"If justification by information breeds exhaustion, and justification by flip phone breeds self-righteousness, then justification by grace through faith breeds love. Which brings us to the final part of the equation. Because there are those who are looking to technology to inform them of something more than just their acquittal. They are looking to scratch an itch even more nagging than the one for acceptance. I’m talking about love. And that’s where cynicism ends and compassion takes over. The digital wind howls, with singular purpose, a tune that is neither new nor particularly informative. It is one we all know: acknowledge me, affirm me, love me. This is the age-old cry of the human heart, a cacophony not of fact or opinion but of need." 
This is LONG, but so interesting. Wanted to quote the whole thing.
On Peace:
"Sometimes I think I want peace but what I really want is calm. Calm is quiet rooms and alone time. Calm is slow movements, deep breathing, and zero percent chaos. Calm, when you can get it, is a gift. But it’s not the same as peace. Peace is hard-won, the child of justice and courage. And anyone who has fought for justice with courage knows that peace is not the same as calm."
On Calling:
"Instead, a calling is more about becoming the person you were meant to be. It’s about becoming the best and truest version of yourself. And the journey to becoming that person could take many shapes and forms and paths. But for most of us, there are often some common denominators in that journey: Suffering. Discontentment. Relinquishing the need for control. Forgiving. Accepting others, and yourself – warts and all. Surrender."
On Sacraments:
"So much of evangelical Protestantism, both mainlines and charismatics (the Catholic and Anglican charismatic movements, which tended to pour more spiritual significance into the Sacraments, not withstanding) has tended to drain the spiritual or metaphysical reality from the Sacraments. Whether from the Zwinglian influence on a non-sacramental view of the acts instituted by Christ as “ordinances”, or the cessation of regular celebration due to the influences of Revivalism and a lack of ordained clergy on the American frontier, true sacraments have largely been absent from the evangelical Protestant landscape. In the absence of “true” sacraments, people have adapted new ones. The Spirit of God was always at work in and through music and singing, that’s not in question here; however the privileged position these acts of worship now enjoy may really more a function of our prescription rather than God’s. The same might also have been said in earlier times about preaching. The safest guard against an anthropologically centered “worship experience” is the guardrails provided by our Lord in the Sacraments of the church."
On Family and Home:
"There is no one right way to live life in a home. No one size of routine or rules or order fits all…. But the more carefully we plan our days, the better our homes will provide us with freedom and enjoyment as well as purpose and accomplishment. … Familiar rhythms and routines give structure that provides leadership and personal care to all who live there. When children and guests know what to expect, they also know how to ask for their personal needs to be met and understand what part they play in the life of the home."
On Perspective:
"As I move through life I’m learning to intentionally allow things into my life that will grow my perspective in the gray areas. And let’s be honest, a lot of life is gray."
On Self-Care:
"The question of, “What is the real deadline here?” is the exercising of some self-care and preservation—a little pushback to test the deadline and to give yourself time to make a sound decision."
On Gender:
"First, reform does not work when cloistered away in elite communities. A sense of perspective, and a sense of human limitation and weakness, and a sense of the weight, not of history only but of the human condition, gets lost. Perspective is thereby lost and a movement may have all the superficial energy in the world, but none of the deep, abiding conviction, entirely resigned yet infinitely resolute, possessed by the great movements for change of the past."

On Diversity:
Excited about these ideas!
On Pain and Illness:
"In my outings on crutches, I've noticed people reacting to me in a way they haven't since I was pregnant. I have a theory now (and I'm sure I'm not the first) that people are the nicest to people with obvious short-term injuries or medical conditions, such as pregnancy, crutches or casts. Less so than they are to people with long-term injuries, like walkers or wheelchairs or canes. And illness, forget about it. Nobody wants to be in the same room with someone ill: Even if it's not catching, we're afraid we'll catch it. Some part of it. Maybe the fear part. It makes sense, I suppose. We don't like to think about our own mortality or how we would feel if it were us in the wheelchair instead. Crutches or a cast denote temporary conditions, ones we think we could probably live with, and that the otherwise healthy-looking person sporting them seems like us."
On Winter:
"Without the stress of cold in a temperate climate, without the cycle of the seasons experienced not as a gentle swell up and down but as an extreme lurch, bang! from one quadrant of the year to the next, a compensatory pleasure would vanish from the world. There is a lovely term in botany — vernalization — referring to seeds that can only thrive in spring if they have been through the severity of winter. Well, many aspects of our life have become, in the past several hundred years, “vernalized.” (Even those who live in warmth recognize the need for at least the symbols of the cold, as in all that sprayed-on snow in Los Angeles in December.) If we didn’t remember winter in spring, it wouldn’t be as lovely; if we didn’t think of spring in winter, or search winter to find some new emotion of its own to make up for the absent ones, half of the keyboard of life would be missing. We would be playing life with no flats or sharps, on a piano with no black keys."
Humor Worth Sharing:
"Commonly Banned: Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson. Ban Instead: Rope swings over rain-swollen creeks; heartbreak."
Photography and Art (and Information) Worth Sharing:
"Unattended in the deep South’s ideal climate, it grew virtually unchecked and is today estimated to cover nearly 7.4 million acres, causing a loss of $100–500 million per year in forest productivity and costing $1.5 million per year to repair damaged power lines."
 How talented is our friend Nia? I always think it's so fun when she gives us a little peek at the process behind her craft.
Noteworthy Quotes:
A question worth asking often: "Is my theology consistent?"If I claim to be pro-life, do I only mean anti-abortion?How do I feel about IVF? Surrogacy? Access for persons with disabilities? Racism? Economic inequality? Misogyny? Refugees? Immigrants? Native peoples? [...list continues for quite awhile...] End of life care?To be theologically consistent and to be pro-life is to commit yourself to the flourishing of individuals at every stage of their lives, because that is the common cause of God, who suffers long so thatnone would be lost. Anyway, it's a question worth asking often, politically and generally." -Preston Yancey

Noteworthy Images:

Hope you enjoy the round up!

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