Monday, March 7, 2016

Weekly Smorgasbord

 Some links for this week. This list includes vulnerability, baby Christians, Barbie, and hippie houseboats!

On Faith:
"For myself, I believe maybe there is a way to find the contentment I am so desperate for without denying the desires of my heart. The Israelites never stopped dreaming of the land flowing with milk and honey, even as they collected their daily portion of manna in the desert—just enough for today. As I cross this wilderness, I can complain mightily like the Israelites did, and attempt to shore up more than my portion of manna, out of fear of it never being enough to satisfy my hunger. Or I can trust that this is a good gift from a good God, a God who knows me, knows my heart and my soul, knows I don’t experience this unexpected slowness of life as a gift yet, but nevertheless knows just what I need in this season. I can choose to experience this season as one of abundance rather than of scarcity, and in doing so, maybe I’ll discover that I was created and prepared and trusted for such a time as this."
"The problem with the “comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable” preaching motto is that it starts with a false disjuncture as its premise. No one is really comfortable much or even most of the time, and everyone is afflicted in some fashion all the time. The preacher’s task is not to afflict the comfortable. It’s to listen, intuit and interpret where the people who walked on broken glass to get to church are already feeling afflicted by the Law so that the Gospel can be spoken to them in ways that offer real comfort."

"For Bonhoeffer, the “vehicle” of the moment was a box sent for Whitsuntide, but I see others scattered throughout my kitchen even now: a jar of homemade caramel sauce from our small group, a tiny handwritten letter from a friend, a crayon portrait by my daughter."
"All of the efforts we make: scripture study, church attendance, prayer, is for naught if its main objective is to make us better and wiser Christians. The whole point of those things is to help us see our sin for what it is, so that we might live in constant astonishment of the forgiveness we have been offered. We take our consolation there."
"Let my heart hang by a thread. Let me be wrecked. Let my body tremble with fear. Let me rail at God and curse and cry and be awkward and say all the wrong things. Just don’t let me run."
On Friendship:
"But one of the most important things I've learned is the value of a friend who looks you in the eye and says, "Me, too." And that's why I could have cried when my mom friend affirmed my Velveeta. She's the kind of friend that I want. Partly because she can organize my pantry someday, but mostly because she gets me and loves me just the way that I am. I was silly and wrong to assume for even one second that she would judge me or make me feel lesser than her."
On Life:
"I stopped making my bed. I let a $10 coupon expire because the ten-minute drive felt insurmountable. I threw out my back. "You need balance." "You need margin." "You need to rest." "Your family needs a break." Those are phrases commonly said to me, and I finally conceded they were right. So, I read lots of books and drank lots of tea. I didn't go anywhere. Without meaning to, I nurtured myself into a low-grade, situational depression. I saw it with sudden clarity in the shower - the most productive think tank known to man or at least to me. I depend on the bang and clutter of community and the warp-speed of the everyday. I pulled on jeans, raged at my lifeless hair, made the bed, and re-entered the world around me. I drove to Target and bought $13 eye cream. I played "art class" with Silas, and let him teach me how to paint."
"What if instead of digging our feet into the sand and trying to hold our place in a supposed spot of safety, we allowed the sea-change to bring about something beautiful through the death of something old? What feels like decay and death often brings what is rich and sometimes strange."
"A new study, which a guy my age finds quite depressing, reveals when we adults are happiest in life, and it’s when we’re in our early twenties. Happiness levels then decrease for roughly 40 years, increasing again around age 65. After their early twenties, “people are at their happiest again around the age of 80,” the researcher reports. Why? The study found that young and old people place less importance on “money and jobs,” the primary woes of that weigh heavily on working-age adults. Housing also plays a prominent role. “As people get older, the house itself becomes more important, as does the area it’s in.” Translation: In our competitive, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses decades, we aren’t happy unless we have a big house on the right side of the tracks. Most of our lives are spent in an infinite, angst-ridden loop of Pretty in Pink."
"when you live alone, the droop of plant leaves, a black sock pocking out of my blue dresser, or an avocado that ripened overnight, all this stuff provides a rare, brief harmony: the consolidation of my things, all mine, in a space befit for staring off as I skirmish with a sentence on my screen or wait for water to boil. The only person who might interrupt my thoughts is me...Living alone, I’ve described to friends, is akin to waking up on a Saturday and realizing it’s Saturday. That flighty jolt. That made-up sense of repartee with time. Abundance felt from sitting upright in bed; the weight of one’s duvet vanquishing, by some means, all accountability. Rarely travelling for half of last year and staying put in my new place all to my own was akin to the emotional clarity yielded from those first few sips of red wine, or from riding the subway after a seeing a movie; riding it the length of the city only to forget that this train dips above ground as it crosses the East River, suddenly washing my face with sunlight or in the evening, apprising my reflection in the train’s window with the tinsel of Manhattan’s skyline."
On Simplicity:
"So when faced with the tension between a desire (I want to slow down, to press pause and soak in this moment right now) and a perceived requirement (but I need to sweep the floor, attend a meeting, fill out this form) what do we do? How do we bridge that gap? We stop anyway. There is no secret to slowing down other than to just… stop. You have to make the decision to press pause for yourself. Let go of the expectations. Give yourself permission to stop, even though it may not be a perfect time to do so. Because there never is a perfect time."
On Writing:
"I want to say that certain “Urban” titles are conflating a Black experience with problematic stereotypes, but then again: if these titles are written by Black people for a Black audience, what right does my light-skinned self have to police a narrative thousands of readers have found at least palatably realistic, and often five-star enjoyable?...It’s a funny thing, to be in the position of checking one’s privilege when history and personal experience have largely conspired to tell you there isn’t much to check. But I’ll say it: in one sense I’m a privileged Black lady. I wasn’t raised in anyone’s idea of a ghetto, and I probably shouldn’t be writing stories as if I have any idea what that’s like. When words tumble out of my own head, they tend not to include fraternally meant n-bombs."
On Social Media:
"In the course of “real-life,” plots unfold slowly and self-understanding is gained through hindsight and protracted self-reflection. In the game of internet celebrity, players engage in a constant and self-conscious cycle of meaning-making, in which even the most mundane artifacts of daily life can be cast and recast as necessary elements in a continuous and consumable personal plot. The question is not “If the well-plated piece of quiche from the trendy café goes unphotographed, did it ever really exist?” but rather “If the quiche goes unphotographed, what did it ever really mean?” An Instagrammed still life of juice in a mason jar becomes an affirmation of one’s commitment to simpler living. The hashtagged #newhaircut represents the laziest turning of new leaves. On the internet, every new post is an opportunity to steer the narrative in real time. The internet affords us a luxurious new kind of self-making in which “patience” need not be a virtue. Change your profile picture, update your interests—the new you can be you today."
"If it all boils down to manliness, though, then it’s kind of insulting. Not toward me and my brethren, but for women. Linking LOL and the smiley to a lack of testosterone implies that anything written with less than Comp 101 formalism is automatically “girly.” Obviously, that’s an insane argument to make. It’s not as though dropping an LOL is in the same inherently feminine league as writing squee or using an angle bracket and 3 to make a love-heart. In all likelihood, the real problem with emoticons and LOL-ing isn’t that they make men seem girly, but that, when overused, they make us seem like tools." 
This is sort of a different thing but one that has been coming to mind often. These days, my dad honestly shares his emotions most authentically through Emojis in our texts (he's in his mid sixties). Is this bizarre to admit? I'm thankful for it, this weird quirk, because I know that while a tear face may be tongue-in-check it's also a window into his soul. And it's what I have right now.
On Abortion:
"I can confidently say that not a single one of my patients wants to be there. If we somehow removed the emotional content and just looked at everything else, abortion is an experience that is at least a little physically painful, and expensive both financially and in time investment." 
I disagreed with literally probably 95% of this, but it was very, very interesting (as well as heartbreaking, of course) to read about from this perspective. I try very hard to do that- read outside my own perspective.
On Barbie and Beauty Standards:
"It seems it was finally time for Mattel (Barbie's parent company) to listen to consumers and give them the realistically-shaped dolls they'd been asking for since the last century. After two years of development, we're meeting them for the first time." 
Barbies are really not my thing, but I just sorta love these!

Humor Worth Sharing:
 8 Headlines That Sound Like Upworthy, But Are Simply Attempts To Express My Withering Contempt For That Collective of Neo-Liberal Douchebags - The Hairpin
"A Grown Man Gets Teary-Eyed Watching A Doe And A Fawn Standing On His Lawn At Dusk. The Way He Uncovers The Truth About What He Sees Will Change How You Look At Weirdly Shaped Tree Stumps Forever"
"Something Twee With Miranda July Or Maybe Demetri Martin Person-on-the-street interviews made up of fun, life-affirming questions, followed by a decoupage project."
Fascinating Places Worth Sharing:
"Gate 5 refers to the houseboat community on the site of a WWII era ship building company in Richardson Bay, Sausalito. After the war, thousands of people flooded into the waterfront area to work in the new shipyards. Housing was scarce, but since they were building ships anyway, the laborers got crafty and began salvaging materials from old boats to create their own make-shift homes. Not soon after, struggling artists and hippies got wind of the alternative lifestyle and liked what they saw."
Step inside the Incredible Speakeasy Hidden behind an Umbrella Boutique | Messy Nessy Chic Foxglove-6-1067x1024
Foxglove-3-1500x1000"The dining room looks like the inside of a retro-futuristic first class jet while walking through the hallways feels as if you’ve boarded a 20th century luxury ship."

Noteworthy Quotes and Thoughts from Others: 
"I feel the need to clarify for some people that my consistent, hardline about Trump doesn't automatically make me a voting democrat. While it's true there are many issues I lean left on, there are many I lean right. One might even point out that a consistent theology will do this to you, because neither side is championing the cause of Christ exclusively. That's not what political parties in America do and it's not what our country was founded on. I'm hard on Trump and the extreme right because the places I do agree with Republicans are too important to be hijacked by the morally bankrupt. So I speak out. I speak out because I'm not going to tell you who to vote for, but I can tell you with conviction the one person to not if your cause for voting is in response to your faith." -Preston Yancey

Noteworthy Images:

Via my friend Amanda:
"Today's the day that we annually shine a light on human slavery. I believe that we do have the power to end it in our generation. Instead of being overwhelmed by the problem, may we consider steps we can take in our own lives.
1.) Look at the labels inside your clothes. Where were they made? Who were they made by? We need to ask ourselves these questions. We need to ask retailers these questions. If that one thought overwhelms you, then just consider buying LESS. The more we (as a consumer population) demand, the more companies will try to mass produce. They cannot do this (while maintaining a LARGE profit margin) if they pay workers an actual living wage. If I buy a pair of flip flops for $3.00, (yes, I've actually paid that before), I must ask myself who took the financial hit. Most of us could live on less than 1/2 of what we own anyway! Be creative, reuse, buy local or buy fair trade.
2.) Do not, IN ANY WAY, support the porn industry. (Awkward social media convos anyone?)
What is watched in secrecy has an impact on actual HUMAN beings who are in situations against their will. Again, the bigger the demand, the more the industry will meet the need by any means necessary.
3.) Know where your coffee comes from. (Ouch! That one stings me the most!)
Look for a fair trade logo. If you don't see it... it's not.
I'm seriously not judging anyone. I'm just saying that we ALL have the ability to implement change. Let's not ever say that we didn't know how. If we all took ONE step, a major impact would be seen and felt. We are well resourced, educated, and ambitious. Let's use our gifts for GOOD!"

Heartbreaking and beautiful- may we be reminded in our darkest hours that the heavier suitcase holds the infinite merits of Christ:
"When you think of the global problem of human trafficking, what image comes to mind? For me it's Josephine Bakhita (1869 - 1947), born in Darfur, Sudan and kidnapped as a child. She was sold into slavery, and in the course of a few years had three owners who did unspeakable things to her mind, body and spirit. She was sent to Italy to be the slave of a wealthy girl during her education, but refused to return to Africa. Her first "possession" was a crucifix, and she took refuge among Christians in Italy, becoming a Canossian Religious Sister in Italy, living and working there for 45 years. In 2000 she was declared a saint by John Paul II.
This is a sampling of St. Josephine Bakhita's spirit: "I travel slowly, one step at a time, towards eternity, because I am carrying two big suitcases. One of them contains my sins, and in the other, which is much heavier, are the infinite merits of Jesus. When I reach heaven I will open the suitcases and say to our eternal Father, 'Now you can judge.' I'm sure I won't be sent away! Then I'll turn to St. Peter and say, 'Close the door, because I'm staying.'" Her indomitable, trusting spirit has staying power in my mind as the symbol of all women who have been and are being subjected to human trafficking, and the spur for me (and us) to "close the door" on this sordid aspect of human history."

And a little humor:


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