Friday, February 19, 2016

Weekly Smorgasbord

 This week I don't have any fun images or great quotes. I do, however, have a handful (or twenty) posts/articles to share. This week's list includes contemplation, house parties, outfits (on screen and in stores), confidence in parenting, and a progressive vision for the Benedict Option!

On Faith:
 Experimental Theology: A Jesus Hobbyist 
"So who stopped to help? Those on their way to preach a sermon about the Good Samaritan? Or those who had the time to help? Overall, the results of the study revealed that the biggest factor in helping was having the time. The relevant statistic from the study was (% who stopped): The Low Hurry Condition: 63% offered aid The High Hurry Condition: 10% offered aid And, incidentally, some seminarians in the high hurry condition literally stepped over the groaning person on the way to deliver their sermon on the Good Samaritan."

"Then God whispers, “It is no longer your blood that saves and keeps you, but mine.” This is true, not only in the best of or worst of times but also in the most mundane of times. God’s salvation and provision is not reserved exclusively for moments of total chaos and catastrophe and doing. His mercies are new every day – even on the days that seem blisteringly slow, like something out of a terrible first draft, the in-between times. A day like today."

"Contemplation is paying attention to my world–open to its messages or just appreciating the way my child feels heavy and soft in my lap. It is walking quietly in the woods–eyes and heart wide open. This is my heart beginning to wake. Contemplation is a way of being in the world. It is a way to practice being. As Madeleine L’Engle said, this time of simply being is that “time in which God quietly tells us who we are and who he wants us to be. It is then that God can take our emptiness and fill it up with what he wants.” Contemplation doesn’t require many answers. It isn’t just something to do. But it offers rest for the weary, drink for the thirsty, nourishment for the hungry soul. Contemplation is found in those green grasses and still waters the psalmist sang about. Contemplation is Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening. When we stop running, stop trying to do everything, when we just stop, we make space for God to do God’s thing in our hearts–to undo us, to remake us, to wake us up, and break our hearts wide open. Contemplation isn’t a formula, although you could approach it from a “Just Do It” mindset. Without a heart of surrender, it might become another task: Sit in silence for 10 minutes. Check."

"And why do we need the Ben Op? Because of the corrosive effects of modernity upon the Christian faith and community. Keeping my eye on progressive Christians, some of the corrosive effects I've mentioned in the first three posts include: 1. Statism The belief that the state is the sole and final arbiter of social and moral affairs and thus reducing Christian social action to taking control of the state. 2. Individualism A fierce commitment to radical autonomy and independence making it impossible for us to form communities that participate God's ongoing story of covenantal promise and fidelity. 3. Functional atheism Pervasive doubt and agnosticism, along with an inability to articulate anything particularly or distinctively Christian in prophetic contrast to the prevailing liberal and humanistic consensus. "

"When we are talking about a progressive vision of a Ben Op we aren't talking about physical, geographical withdrawal. Again, in contrast to the Ben Op of the Pharisees, that's exactly what Jesus didn't do. Jesus was radically in and available to the world. And, thus, any Jesus-shaped Ben Op will look exactly like that. More on that in the next post. So the withdrawal we are describing here isn't geographical, the withdrawal is psychological. Theologically, a better word might be renunciation. If Christianity is going to become a locus of resistance to Empire we have to be formed into people who renounce--opt out, psychologically withdraw from--the way Empire defines success and significance. In the empire I live in that means opting out of the American Dream."

"Enjoying God is the strongest proof that the gospel is real and enough. So cook that gourmet meal, paint that picture, sing that song at the top of your lungs. Write poems on the backs of receipts and scraps of paper with your to-do list. Play in the snow and make angels with your arms spread wide like worship. Run till your heart pounds in your ears. Each fresh peaches and burn the good candles on a weeknight. Decorate your house with pops of color and wear flowers in your hair. Master the perfect smoky eye or laugh until you cry and it’s all messed up. Go barefoot on the beach or in your garden or the cold hard floor. Let your feet feel the ground beneath you and know you are planted deep, loved by a good God, standing again today by grace. Take notice.."

"We are a culture of many words and many teachers but few genuine listeners. Just as it is impossible to love God apart from loving our brothers and sisters (1 John 4:20-21), let me suggest that the very seeds of cultivating the practice of listening to God are hidden within the folds of our everyday conversations. In order to enter into the depths of prayer we have to frequently and intentionally posture ourselves before God in silence and with a receptive spirit. However, our fear of such silence is viscerally connected with the next dimension of prayer... He is neither deceived about what a mess you and I are, nor is he unaware of the depths of our selfishness and character flaws. God had full disclosure before His choice was made, and He chose us anyway. His commitment to us is not in danger of wavering if He finds out some unsavory truth about us for which we are bound in shame. He already knows these things about us and loves us enough to embrace us all the same. Prayer is intended to be the space where we come into contact with our own brokenness and simultaneously are embraced by the scandalous love of God. There is no other spiritual discipline that can at the same time inculcate such humility in our own self-assessment and exuberant gratitude at the sheer graciousness of God’s love revealed through Jesus Christ."

On Love:
"Unarmed love is the only way to combat fear, the only rival for a rejection letter. More than three-day weekends and homework limits, students need to be told every day that they are loved regardless of their sweatshirts, because they are. They are loved more than their GPAs can merit, more than their bookshelves full of awards can express. Which is something they probably tried to tell me at youth group, that one time I went."

On Parenting:
"Now I don’t claim to have much advice to offer on this journey of motherhood, but I will offer something I believe so strongly to be true: when we start worrying more about our reputation than what our children need from us, well, that’s a walk into crazy town that none of us have time for. Mom-fidence gives us permission for something different. When someone asks us a question about our family, we tell the truth. I’ve been practicing my own honesty, and instead of projecting insecurity about what anyone thinks, my answer is becoming much more simple: “Yes, we had three kids in three years. It’s totally crazy and so much fun. We might even have more!” That’s mom-fidence."

On Church:
"It’s sometimes hard to tell, but my sense is that this is still sort of ‘normal’ American Christianity: serious but not doctrinally obsessed, trying to be contemporary/relevant (sometimes to a fault) and taking everything in moderation (except trying to be relevant, which can be measured by the number of different styles of head-mounted microphone the worship leader goes through in a year). Notes for 2015 are that their seminaries seem to be drifting leftwards, as are the recent graduates. They have so much excitement and energy, though, that the old-guard conservatives are probably happy, overall."

Super interesting, I agreed with everything here in so much as I know about the various denominations listed.

On Hurry:
"To gain the luxury of laughing over shared silliness and the comfort of simply sharing space with my favorite people, can I resist the greed and impatience of a life that is lived to the ticking off of tasks?"

On Productivity:
"I don’t think I could ever be someone who writes for hours and hours at a time, all the time. I do a little work at a time, on an inflexible routine, trying not to overthink it, until I have a big chunk of pages. A lot of them are probably garbage, but if I worry too much about that I’d have a lot fewer. Sometimes I roll my eyes at myself as I’m going, like, this whole page is stupid and you know it. But I rarely delete more than a few sentences as I write a first draft. I’ll do that later. I’ve never stared an empty page into perfection."

On Culture:
So fun and interesting. Although, I would say American girl seems to be Southern or a Valley Girl or something. I think New Yorkers (and probably most people in more urban areas?) are more like Paris chick.

On Hospitality:
"Philip woke at eight the next morning and started the percolator. Around nine we decided that we wanted to treat everyone to coffee in their rooms, so I assembled the trays with pretty mugs and sprigs of holly and cream and sugar and, each carrying one, we ascended the stairs, grinning at one another like children. We delivered their coffee with bright greetings, and Philip started the fires in their rooms so that they could relax in bed for a while before breakfast. I told them we would eat in an hour: already the sacrosanct aromas of my mother’s Christmas Morning Breakfast Casserole, reserved for only the most special of occasions, was filling the air with invitation."

These are such beautiful and lovely images and so far from my reality.
 On Books:
"The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Vanderkam praises the novels’ “harder edge,” calling them “a story of survival” and “one of the best portrayals, ever, of an American family’s wrenching journey into the modern economy.” I think she’s right—and I also think that’s why I eventually shelved Ramona. See, as a child I was frightened by the thought of parents squeezed by circumstances beyond their control, of near-empty refrigerators and potential divorces and unsure affections between family members. Such subjects simply felt too big for me."

On TV:
Great analysis and the video was so fun to watch!
On History:
"Customers can use the knobs and buttons to control the slides as they browse the index of products. The personal desktop computer won’t be invented for another 12 years."

On Clothes and Fashion:
"Cheapo stores are usually enormous and overwhelming, with all kinds of crap mixed in with decent stuff. So shop with an event or purpose in mind — “I need a new going-out top” or “I’d like a day dress that I’ll wear all summer.” Focus on scoring basic items that are in style now, since that’s what these low-cost stores can do really well. There’s no need to drop major cash on a striped shirt or a nautical tote or a bold-colored skirt at a high-end store when you can just as easily get one at H&M."

Good tips.

 On Obnoxiousness:
"When parents of young children aren’t filling you on what they feed them, they can generally be depended upon to be humble-bragging about how much they drink or smoke pot. And it’s not just parents. It begins in college and then never stops—upper middle class white people ages 30-45 can’t really think of any way to reasonably funny about the stress in their lives without talking about how much they drink or smoke pot and, if they are not currently doing a lot, how much they used to do, in addition to cocaine."

Humor Worth Sharing:
"8. I ate or didn’t eat the foods while pregnant and requested that someone jab me with a fork during labor and breastfed my son while he was on his first date, and he still can’t see an ad for Sea Monkeys without needing to be hospitalized for his shellfish allergy."


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