Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
To all my nonbelieving, sort-of-believing, and used-to-be-believing friends: I feel like I should begin with a confession. I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians. Christians who have had so much to say with our mouths and so little to show with our lives. I am sorry that so often we have forgotten the Christ of our Christianity.
Forgive us. Forgive us for the embarrassing things we have done in the name of God.
The other night I headed into downtown Philly for a stroll with some friends from out of town. We walked down to Penn's Landing along the river, where there are street performers, artists, musicians. We passed a great magician who did some pretty sweet tricks like pour change out of his iPhone, and then there was a preacher. He wasn't quite as captivating as the magician. He stood on a box, yelling into a microphone, and beside him was a coffin with a fake dead body inside. He talked about how we are all going to die and go to hell if we don't know Jesus.
Some folks snickered. Some told him to shut the hell up. A couple of teenagers tried to steal the dead body in the coffin. All I could do was think to myself, I want to jump up on a box beside him and yell at the top of my lungs, "God is not a monster." Maybe next time I will.
The more I have read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination. But over the past few decades our Christianity, at least here in the United States, has become less and less fascinating. We have given the atheists less and less to disbelieve. And the sort of Christianity many of us have seen on TV and heard on the radio looks less and less like Jesus.
At one point Gandhi was asked if he was a Christian, and he said, essentially, "I sure love Jesus, but the Christians seem so unlike their Christ." A recent study showed that the top three perceptions of Christians in the U. S. among young non-Christians are that Christians are 1) antigay, 2) judgmental, and 3) hypocritical. So what we have here is a bit of an image crisis, and much of that reputation is well deserved. That's the ugly stuff. And that's why I begin by saying that I'm sorry.
Now for the good news.
I want to invite you to consider that maybe the televangelists and street preachers are wrong — and that God really is love. Maybe the fruits of the Spirit really are beautiful things like peace, patience, kindness, joy, love, goodness, and not the ugly things that have come to characterize religion, or politics, for that matter. (If there is anything I have learned from liberals and conservatives, it's that you can have great answers and still be mean... and that just as important as being right is being nice.)
The Bible that I read says that God did not send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it... it was because "God so loved the world." That is the God I know, and I long for others to know. I did not choose to devote my life to Jesus because I was scared to death of hell or because I wanted crowns in heaven... but because he is good. For those of you who are on a sincere spiritual journey, I hope that you do not reject Christ because of Christians. We have always been a messed-up bunch, and somehow God has survived the embarrassing things we do in His name. At the core of our "Gospel" is the message that Jesus came "not [for] the healthy... but the sick." And if you choose Jesus, may it not be simply because of a fear of hell or hope for mansions in heaven.
Don't get me wrong, I still believe in the afterlife, but too often all the church has done is promise the world that there is life after death and use it as a ticket to ignore the hells around us. I am convinced that the Christian Gospel has as much to do with this life as the next, and that the message of that Gospel is not just about going up when we die but about bringing God's Kingdom down. It was Jesus who taught us to pray that God's will be done "on earth as it is in heaven." On earth.
One of Jesus' most scandalous stories is the story of the Good Samaritan. As sentimental as we may have made it, the original story was about a man who gets beat up and left on the side of the road. A priest passes by. A Levite, the quintessential religious guy, also passes by on the other side (perhaps late for a meeting at church). And then comes the Samaritan... you can almost imagine a snicker in the Jewish crowd. Jews did not talk to Samaritans, or even walk through Samaria. But the Samaritan stops and takes care of the guy in the ditch and is lifted up as the hero of the story. I'm sure some of the listeners were ticked. According to the religious elite, Samaritans did not keep the right rules, and they did not have sound doctrine... but Jesus shows that true faith has to work itself out in a way that is Good News to the most bruised and broken person lying in the ditch.
It is so simple, but the pious forget this lesson constantly. God may indeed be evident in a priest, but God is just as likely to be at work through a Samaritan or a prostitute. In fact the Scripture is brimful of God using folks like a lying prostitute named Rahab, an adulterous king named David... at one point God even speaks to a guy named Balaam through his donkey. Some say God spoke to Balaam through his ass and has been speaking through asses ever since. So if God should choose to use us, then we should be grateful but not think too highly of ourselves. And if upon meeting someone we think God could never use, we should think again.
After all, Jesus says to the religious elite who looked down on everybody else: "The tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom ahead of you." And we wonder what got him killed?
I have a friend in the UK who talks about "dirty theology" — that we have a God who is always using dirt to bring life and healing and redemption, a God who shows up in the most unlikely and scandalous ways. After all, the whole story begins with God reaching down from heaven, picking up some dirt, and breathing life into it. At one point, Jesus takes some mud, spits in it, and wipes it on a blind man's eyes to heal him. (The priests and producers of anointing oil were not happy that day.)
In fact, the entire story of Jesus is about a God who did not just want to stay "out there" but who moves into the neighborhood, a neighborhood where folks said, "Nothing good could come." It is this Jesus who was accused of being a glutton and drunkard and rabble-rouser for hanging out with all of society's rejects, and who died on the imperial cross of Rome reserved for bandits and failed messiahs. This is why the triumph over the cross was a triumph over everything ugly we do to ourselves and to others. It is the final promise that love wins.
It is this Jesus who was born in a stank manger in the middle of a genocide. That is the God that we are just as likely to find in the streets as in the sanctuary, who can redeem revolutionaries and tax collectors, the oppressed and the oppressors... a God who is saving some of us from the ghettos of poverty, and some of us from the ghettos of wealth.
In closing, to those who have closed the door on religion — I was recently asked by a non-Christian friend if I thought he was going to hell. I said, "I hope not. It will be hard to enjoy heaven without you." If those of us who believe in God do not believe God's grace is big enough to save the whole world... well, we should at least pray that it is.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Which brings me to why I feel inspired to write this blog. I am currently reading Belong to Me written by Marisa de los Santos. The book is so good I could cry. I smile. I laugh. I bite my nails. At times I even want to slap a character or hug a character. It is a book that draws the reader in and makes them become emotionally involved in the lives of the characters. The character development is incredible. I am at the end of the book (sadness) and everything is falling into place in such a lovely way. I keep yelling things out like "oh man. come on Dev," or "I could just jump in there and give you a big bear hug little clare," or "holy shit this writer is amazing." Then I look around to make sure no one heard me yelling at the book, relieved to find myself in my parents 'empty house.
Speaking of empty house. I LOVE IT!!! Both of my brothers have moved out and although I am sad that my mother and father are going through the first stages of the empty nest "what to do with my life now" I am having a blast in a brother-free house. To be honest my brothers are slobs (what brothers aren't) so the house is clean, smells like yummy pie and is oh so quite. It is amazing. Also, I have a confession, I have been sleeping in my little brothers room. John's bed is just so darn comfy. I mean, I jump in that thing and waller around like a pig in mud. I feel the urge to holler out "John, I'm in your bed. come try and stop me," then I laugh an evil laugh and continue to waller. Every part of this house is so peaceful. Down stairs is like HEAVEN. The buck stove is burning some logs, the yellow walls call out "peace be with you," the furniture gives me a lovely welcoming grin "oh jess, I have missed you. pop a squat and let's chat." I have free roam of this house. I feel like I am an only child again. Maybe I'll just move in!!! Free child care. Free dinner. 5 achers of yard. PEACE and QUITE!! Holy crap that sounds AWESOME.
Ok, I am clearly enjoying this being sick way to much at the moment.
Now, for the explanation of why I am actually here instead of at home being sick. My husband sent me away. He has been so behind in his school work because of me :( He works over 40 hours, helps with the kids, the house and goes to school full-time. So, when my parent's offered to pick me and the kids up he jumped all over that "GET OUT OF THE HOUSE SO I CAN STUDY FOR MY MIDTERM." Although at the time I felt rejected, I am really loving this predicament that I am in. Study away husband of mine I am living the good life.
well, off to enjoy the rest of the day. when I am finished with this coffee I think I might enjoy a glass of wine. sssssshhh I found some in the fridge. that will totally help with the flu. RIGHT??
Monday, October 12, 2009
I can not get this video out of my mind. Such a powerful song. Such a powerful video. Just think of the small things. The fact that most of our clothes are made in sweat shops. So? What can I do? Buy clothes only made ethically in the united states or buy only second hand clothes. Lets even think about our food. How ethical is our food? Did you know that that hershey puts child slaves to work? Yeah. Buying hershey's chocolate is supporting slavery.
America, it is inescapable, we are saturated in an unethical life style of unethical products. How does this not blow your mind? How can you stand to walk into a super center and not feel dirty. Even christian book stores are saturated. Look at those little crosses made in china. CHINA?? REALLY??? The same china that imprisons and tortures Christians. You say you don't support communism but you're buying their products. Last I checked buying something from someone is supporting them.
In short what I am saying is there are a lot of unethical practices going on. BUY LOCAL. Support your LOCAL farmer. support your LOCAL clothing store. You don't believe in slavery, sweat shops, Communism? Then STOP SUPPORTING IT! This is a massive life style change that doesn't just happen over night. But let's start now! America, the GREAT nation?? Whatever. When you think about how we are USING and EXPLOITING other countries to live these lives of LUXARY doesn't that make you sick? Makes me sick. Let's do something about it!
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Let me just start out by saying WHERE IS THE FALL WEATHER?? I am sitting here in the living room with the fan on and the windows open, dripping in sweat. Explain this to me. I am not one to complain about warm weather but I am ready for it to cool off.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
This is just a picture of me acting out what I might look like when the stress test is over.
After the test we had to rush across the way to another hospital to see ANOTHER doctor. "YAY hospital hoping is F-U-N!!!" I am a bad patient and I thoroughly enjoy spinning around in the Doctors stool before they come in. First of all, spinning is great fun. It's something you never grow out of. Second, I enjoy watching the doctor try to scoot up to the table only to realize that they have to spin the stool down. The whole time making grunting sounds and saying something like "man, how many spins."
AFter the spinning, if any of you decide to do this, you must quickly jump up on the exam table and look all innocent. It is great!!! I throw the "Hey, Look at me. I would never mess up your stool" look. Works like a charm. And have no fear people. They have to knock before coming in. So, if you are in the middle of a spin you'll have plenty of time to jump up and give the innocent look. PS: I do this to Paul and Anna's Doctors as well. I'm an addict.
I have a problem. When I get bored I snoop. Look what I found though. A year's supply of tissue! I was so excited but Roger caught me filling up the backpack and assured me that our insurance would not in fact pay for it.
The next grand adventure was getting the echo (an ultra sound for your heart). I love echos!! I just have this fascination with looking at the inside of my body. A part of me would love to be able to hold my heart in my hands as the Doctor explains every detail to me. But since I know there is no way under the sun that that can ever happen I take advantage of resources that are put in front of me. I sat at the desk "Explain this to me! In great detail."
So, my new doctor, whom I just met today explained EVERYTHING to me!!! It was the first day meeting her (she's a SHE! A female cardiologist. EXCITING!!!!) but I can already tell she is going to be great! She truthfully answered each of my questions and explained things to me in a "not dumbed down for the patient" way. She understood that I have been doing some research and teaching myself little things about the heart and desperately wanted to learn.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
The crazy wild cat Anna also had a lot of fun. She was talking to herself the whole way. It was as if she was telling us a big long story about something. She also enjoyed eating the dirt and tried desperately to sneak a rock into her mouth.
These of course were everywhere and paul thought they were funny looking. That is until we told him what they meant. I guess he thought the little man was having fun.
After hiking to Chimney Top we decided to hike to princess arch. This hike was a bit nuts with Anna. We had to take turns climbing down and up and handing off the kids. "You got her?' "YEAH, toss her to me." But I must admit that it was totally worth it.
So we put Paul's rain boots on and let him splash in the puddles.
The next day, Saturday, we got up early and went to the farmers market to by some yummy local produce. Then we grabbed a quick lunch and headed to the park for a picnic. After paul and Roger played pretend baseball on the REAL baseball field "look mom, the sandlot!" we headed home to rest. On the drive home we decided "Hey, let's go to the drive in tonight." So, we took naps and baths and around 8:30pm headed out to the drive-in to watch Ice Age. On the drive there we were blessed with a gorgeous sunset. You know the ones that turn the sky an orange and pink color. "mom, that is the setting sun!!!" "Yes Paul it sure is!"
We had a great time watching the kids play under the screen before the movie and cuddling when the big dinosaur seemed like he was coming out of the screen. Anna thought it was the greatest thing EVER and Paul didn't stop smiling.