28 December 2011
The book is not actually written by Ms. Palin although it's sort of confusing since her ghostwriter/helping hand/co-author/whatever they are called isn't easily found. So, for about the first half I was thinking, "Hey, she's not so bad actually." Anyway, the actual physical writing was done by Lynn Vincent, a bestselling conservative author, whose other works I've never read. It's just your basic memoir and recounts the life of Sarah Palin from childhood till a time after the election of 2008.
There wasn't a whole lot of earth shatterment in the book. Nothing really surprised me, but I did learn something about myself, and I could possibly extend this to most of my fellow Americans. We. Love. Gossip. It's kind of disgusting. I can remember most of the Palin incidents in and around the 2008 GOP campaign and laughing along with everyone else. As I read each of those incidents explained I found myself a little ashamed for judging a woman (according to her own testimony, a fellow believer) whom I had never met just based on what I saw on the news. I'm not going to go all conspiratorial on my readers. I don't think there is a giant liberal machine otherwise known as "newsmedia" (for the record the Occupyers think the news is owned by the right-wingers, so they get it coming and going), but I do think that sometimes when we hear something bad about people we are inclined to (if not outright believe it) take the "where there's smoke there's fire," mindset.
What I found particularly heartbreaking was some of the comments made about her children and husband. There really is no reason for this. None. Zero. I am a person who thinks that if a man (or woman) can't be faithful to their spouse, it will be hard for them to be faithful to a country (Yes, Mr. Clinton, that's you), but if it's an unconfirmed rumor floating around about a minor child, everyone who ever printed it or talked about it should be ashamed of themselves.
I don't think I necessarily got a kick out of listening to the stuff about her family, but I do remember the Katie Couric interview and thinking Ms. Palin must be the stupidest person on the planet. Now, her rendition of the interview was that she let Ms. Couric's attitude (or perceived attitude) get to her and she stopped answering the questions. And she even says she regrets this. She also says that parts of her answers were left out. I don't claim to know what actually happened, but I should have realized there are two sides to every story.
Anyway, I'm not recommending this. I only felt sort of ho-hum about it. It was a bit campy, and in some places kind of dragged (unless you are the type of person who finds minutiae of Alaskan-made policies fascinating), but I do think there is a valuable lesson to be learned in reading biographies, and yes even memoirs (as self-serving as they can potentially be). You are allowing a public figure the chance to defend herself (or himself). And it keeps you kind of humble. I was glad for the lesson.
12 December 2011
In 2012 I am beginning a new project. I plan on reading all of C.S. Lewis's works. All of them. No exceptions. Poetry, prose, theology, and fiction. I'm very excited about it. I am actually so excited I've already begun to get a head start on it. I picked up Weight of Glory most recently. Which, as it turns out is only one of a series of lectures my copy contains.
I just completed Why I am Not a Pacifist and I found myself very uncomfortably confronted with some things that I have been taking for granted. I'm very much a pacifist though not in the official political sense. I engage in confrontation only when it's necessary and only when it's someone I deeply care about. I believe nations should try every means possible to avoid war, using it only as a last resort. I don't relish violence or fighting at all, but I do adhere to Thomas Aquinas's just war theory. I only do this; however, when I'm really pushed up against a wall. C.S. Lewis in his typical way pushed me up against a wall.
The concepts of war and peace are very big concepts and easy to get emotional about. Lewis strips off all of the emotional baggage and attacks merely the actual logistical and theological reasons for a strong pacifist belief. I was left at the end of lunch break just staring off into the distance digesting it all. I'll probably still hold to the belief that nations should try every means possible to avoid war, but I'll be a little less shoot from the hip about war being hell from now on.
The lecture titled Learning in Wartime is fantastic too. If you have read The Screwtape Letters you'll recall the letter from Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood chastising him over being "delirious with joy" over the war. Wormwood is exceptionally excited because he thinks the war will make it easier to capture souls, but Screwtape knows better. He knows that war opens up new more eternal questions, causes men to act selflessly and turn to God in their fear. Learning in Wartime re-opened some of those thoughts and gave me fond memories of The Screwtape Letters. I think that will be the first in my 2012 Lewis Marathon.
Learning in Wartime specifically addresses the pursuit of learning and creating and beautifying the world during a time of war. His main point is that for a Christian, we’re always at war, a bigger and more eternal war. So we should go on living our lives and practicing our arts and vocations and exercising our skills for the glory of God. It’s a very uplifting and surprisingly relevant essay.
Before I go let me leave you with a quote from Learning in Wartime that I found particularly close to my own thoughts, but naturally worded much better. "The war creates no absolutely new situation; it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun." I'm actually still right in the middle of the collection of essays so I don't have much to say on the book as a whole, but I'm really enjoying it. I may update again after I’ve completed it, but I’m reading so many things right now it will be a mercy if I can write much about them at all.
 Lewis, C.S. Learning in Wartime Sermon presented at Evensong in St. Mary the Virgin , Oxford, England, October 22, 1939
05 December 2011
Beginning in January we'll be reading Beyond Opinion by Ravi Zacharius. This is very exciting for me because I've wanted an excuse to read one of his books for a very long time. So, I'll be posting what I think of the book on here and you can feel free to join in too! As I've said before, I'm very technologically illiterate, so if you want more information on this go to Carrie's blog. I'm just here for the party.
02 December 2011
Yo so in view of Gods mercies
We remove our worldly uniforms and throw on crucified jerseys
Holy and acceptable, Ruled by the divine
Jesus, being transformed by the renewal of the mind
Yes, you was designed, obedience to the scriptures
With love as the key ingredient in the mixture
The Godly man’s picture, under the new covenant
Mindful of God, we submit to the government
Not passing judgment, on weaker brothers
Instead we spread love to ‘em to keep ‘em from stumbling
When we do this, God will truly then smile
Because Christ is glorified through Jew and Gentile
The God of peace, at his judgment seat
Will soon crush Satan under our feet (No Doubt)
This is just an overview, go and read Romans through
And I pray the God of Romans will grab a hold of you
29 November 2011
My friend Carrie, whose awesome blog is amazing and hilarious and fabulous and informative allowed me to review a book for her, hooray! I read Dan Philips The World-Tilting Gospel which was absolutely fabulous! So, yay my first review (kinda)! You can catch it over at her blog now.
20 September 2011
I was commenting on a blog about modesty and the female gender (Yes, reader you may now feel free to groan, roll your eyes, or bang your head on your desk), which I felt went too far. This shouldn't really come as a surprise, since they usually do. Sometimes I feel that Conservative Christians go a little Hojatoleslam Kazem Seddiqi on people while discussing this particular topic. It's not that I am not sympathetic. I often feel a little overwhelmed by so much skin shown by my fellow females, and do find myself wondering what they are trying to do and whether they truly respect themselves. However, I do not think one can count bikinis as something that is causing the entire WORLD to fall apart. Nor I do not think the bible has a specific skirt length or standard swimsuit which is "allowed." And I think anyone who attempts specifics is adding to the scriptures. (Proverbs 30:5-6)
Anyway, on this particular "modesty" blog I decided to share the above thoughts (minus the slight sarcasm, I wasn't really out to offend just converse). This turned out to be a mistake much later, because this particular set of people has deemed jeans as immodest. This was a little much for me and clearly wasn't the forum to air my ideas on.
I should backtrack because many of you are probably wondering why I would even follow a blog this...I don't want to say radical, but it's the only word that comes to mind. I hope everyone reading understands that I would call myself a Conservative Christian, but I also usually hope to use that label without any baggage attached to it, whether positive or negative. I know that is virtually impossible though. Anyway, I was invited to follow this blog, by the daughter of one of the contributors because we had agreed on some other issues on yet another blog. (Perhaps I'm more "in" the blog community than I thought) So, I began to follow it and there were some good posts and some bad posts. Rather, there were posts I heartily agreed with and posts that caused me to frown. The modesty post was half agreement/half frown.
Now for the troll. This is a person who deliberately follows this blog just to wreak havoc. In fact, in his own blog he called the contributor whose daughter I have cyber-friended, a fool. So, when I posted what I hoped was a fair comment in a rather cheerful tone I was shocked to find myself impaled by this person's utter contempt and misplaced anger. He mocked my need to be a "strong and independent woman" (personally I was a little flattered, but confused since I never used those words); he told me I was closed off to people suggesting modest clothing because I just thought I was "too cool" (oddly enough I had just thanked the contributor for sending me a website with "modest" and nice looking clothes); and he told me that I was completely immodest because he was "reading my post with his eyes open" (another confusing statement since...I didn't really mention what I wore and I believe the troll lives in Ohio).
So, I did what every other rational thinking curious person would do. I went to his blog. Ok, so maybe most rational people would avoid his blog knowing he is crazy or attention seeking or bitter or just obnoxious, but no. I went to his blog. It reads like a parody of Glenn Beck really. In fact, I think he probably thinks of Glenn Beck as some sort of "leftist" or "stateist" (yes, this is the kind of person who makes up words like that). In fact, I would suggest he and Sarah Palin get together and make up their own conservative vocabulary, but I don't think even she is as radical as he is.
One of the first blogs I read was called "Strong Women" or something like that. It was pretty much what I expected. He basically got on yet another blog written by women for women and posted outrageously disgusting/provocative/insulting comments. And when, inevitably, the women became offended he suddenly began whipping out words like: fools, twits, skanks, and (my personal favorite) harridan. I'd normally just pass by someone like this, but it pains me that he calls himself a believer. As a believer myself, I hate to see someone like this claim to carry Christ's name stamped upon his heart and behave this way to people. So, I wrote a long response to his post asking him how he justifies this type of behavior. Asking him what exactly the problem with being "strong" was. Asking him why he was so angry and just hated women so much. And then I got to the captcha, which was emp1ty. It must have been speaking to me. Telling me that anything I had to say would be swallowed up in the vacuum of this guy's hatred (of something/one). I'm not sure how much stock I put in modern day signs, but I do believe God is in control of my life and He knew what that captcha was going to be. I think it was cathartic to write out all my questions and concerns over this guy, but in the end, a troll's a troll. All of my well-intentioned, or ill-intentioned words would be empty in the long run. It was better to erase the whole post, and rant on my own blog.
"How many have I seen to fall into sin by speaking, but scarcely one by keeping silent; and so it is more difficult to know how to keep silent than how to speak. I know that most persons speak because they do not know how to keep silent. It is seldom that any one is silent even when speaking profits him nothing." - Ambrose
08 September 2011
"No one can get even the slightest taste of right and sound doctrine unless he be a pupil of Scripture." 1.6.2
"Errors can never be uprooted from human hearts, until true knowledge of God is planted therein" 1.6.3
30 August 2011
24 August 2011
Ok, so here's the truth. I just found out how to create links on Blogger and this was my practice run. For one so young as I, the internet is still a strange mysterious place. But seriously those were some killer bars and you should check out David's photos.
19 August 2011
Anyway, what my siblings and I found hilarious on this particular occasion was thinking about what would happen if that one person muttering while you prayed, disagreed with your prayer. Think of it this way, "Father God, thank you that we can come before you, in the home of ____. (mhmm!) Thank you for every person in this room and the love you have shown (Amen, yes Lord Jesus) toward us. Help us all to be able to reflect that love to the community we live in (yes Lord). I lift up to you the leadership of ______ Church. Particularly Brother Jason (?...er...). Father, I pray that you bless him (noooo) and his family (NO Lord!) and help them raise the funds to embark on their trip to Uganda (nuh uh nope)...." As you can see we don't get out much, and this topic of conversation went on for quite some time amidst much laughter.
But a few Sundays later I found myself in just such a position. Not that I'm one of the people who murmur along with the prayer, but I found myself disagreeing with a small portion of my pastor's prayer. It concerned a person and his family who were seeking a certain calling, (This is a real person hence the vagueness of the post) and I didn't believe the calling was right for him. He's had some interaction with my family and so far to call it "less than satisfactory" would be an understatement. So, I just...stopped praying. I sat up straight and opened my eyes and stopped praying in my heart. Now, I'm unsure if this was correct. I wonder what the protocol is in situations like this. I know I'm not wrong, but should one offer a counter prayer, or is what I did fine?
Really that is the most minor of minor points though. I figure if God has overcome death (our ultimate enemy) He'll know how to handle an unsuitable man holding an important position. Either He will put obstacles in the way of the situation or allow it to come to happen. Either way He knows what He's doing. Obviously for us who can't see the whole picture it is hard to listen to a prayer about it silently, but "we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
However, please note how nothing can quite beat the humor that just comes out of real life, and how closely linked are comedy and tragedy.
28 June 2011
In her usual emotive and dreamlike way of writing Ms. Voskamp takes the time to stop and wonder over her two daughters and the special extraordinary ordinariness of a sisters' bond. The post could very well be about my two littlest sisters and the special friendship they have. But for me it was a bittersweet post because it was what my older sister and I should have been. We were inseparable in our childhood and into our teen years. We would laugh forever and we would fight often. I cannot count the times I was "banished from her room forever." I will never not laugh at the time I squeezed toothpaste in her hair. And when I was a baby she taught me how to scream in epic battles on the linoleum in the kitchen. But for all those times of fighting we had enough love to smooth it over, and enough laughter to cover the multitudinousness of our sins.
She was my best friend until I was nineteen years old, and even when she began to pull away from me I resisted turning on her too much because I believed this too would pass like the banishment, like the toothpaste, like the screaming fights. But it didn't. The shadow of a man stood between us. To this day, I cannot tell you why her husband hated me and my family. I cannot tell you what started it, and I cannot tell you how it progressed or why. As far as I can tell it stemmed from our concern over my sister and her family distancing themselves from the church. Whatever the cause her husband broke apart the bond of sisterhood, and I believe we both lost pieces of ourselves or at least bled some of our souls at this breaking. Like all things in this fallen world that God deemed unnatural, this brokenness won't be healed until Christ returns to gather me in his arms and heal the wound.
I don't often talk about this because to be honest I don't always think about it. The proverbial "they" say that time heals all wounds and that isn't true. Time just rubs the wound enough to create a callous or a metaphysical band-aid till Christ can heal us. I guess the sweet beauty of Ms. Voskamp's post opened the wound just enough that I can share a bit of myself. Thanks for listening.
02 June 2011
Anyway we also got to play a game where we were given three cards and a bunch of different scenarios. If we felt the scenario was inappropriate at all times, we held up the red card. If we thought it was appropriate any time we held up the green card. If we felt that it was maybe ok in some situations we held up the yellow. Hint: Most of these scenarios involved yellow cards. This game did effectively liven up the otherwise dreadfully boring training session, but I balked when this scenario flashed up on the powerpoint: Quietly attempting to convert your coworkers to your religion.
Ok, so first of all I would like everyone to know that I’m a dreadful coward. Why the Lord chose me to be an ambassador for Him I have NO idea. I held up a yellow card and didn’t explain myself. I didn’t speak up for what I believed at all. I could have held up a green card just to bring attention to that fact (the room was evenly split between red and yellow) and have the speaker ask me why I thought it was appropriate. What my heart was screaming was, “Is it appropriate to save your coworker from an oncoming semi!? How is this different!” But I sat silently frowning at the speaker instead.
Second, the scenario itself has so many issues just in the way it was worded. Take the word “quietly,” for example, why would this word be used except to imply an underhanded sneaky way of trying to open your coworkers eyes to the glorious grace experienced in the knowledge of Jesus and what He did for us (for shame!). Or the word “convert.” We Christians believe that we are incapable of converting someone. We can only share the good news and the Holy Spirit is the one who creates the change. And to top it all off there is that pesky “religion” at the end. One of my coworkers (who at the very least had courage enough to speak up) said that he didn’t care for the word because it was “not a religion it was a relationship.” At this point, I must admit I became a little distracted and began mentally throwing invisible dictionaries at the back of his head and silently pleading with him to tell me why it couldn’t be both. I won’t go into how obnoxious I find this phrase here, but here is a link to an excellent blog post I found on this very topic (http://www.revelife.com/717806229/relationship-or-religion-why-not-both/ )
Third, what ought one to do in a situation like this? It is true that it would be inappropriate or hostile to “attempt to convert” your coworkers after the style of say The Spanish Inquisition or the style outlined in the Qur’an (Surah 9:5). So in that sense a yellow card is perhaps called for. Unfortunately this is not the type of “attempt to convert” given me in the scenario. The scenario said “quietly attempting to convert.” This is, in fact, referring directly to what I as a believer do when I am sharing the good news about Christ. I guess I could have just said my religion (yeah, I said religion, go click on that link and find out why) is more important to me than my job and held up the green card. I could have said I loved my fellow man too much and held up the green card. I could have said all the things I said in this blog with a shaky voice and sweaty palms and held up the green card. Instead, I held up the yellow card and said nothing. It was an appropriate color for the cowardice I felt.
17 February 2011
03 February 2011
So far I have learned that Lutheran are perfectly fine with not knowing more than I am comfortable not knowing. They believe there are things that don't square up in the bible, and that God works out the kinks. Example, God saves you from the beginning of the world and nothing can change that because it's His will, but you can lose your salvation.
Also, historically there was a push in the early 1900's (I think) to unite the Lutheran church with other evangelical churches, and it is understood that they lost some of their distinctness in the push. So, maybe an historical grudge? Or, put more gently, maybe they are afraid if they accept any other church to be a true church it will put them into danger of extinction just like it did in Germany.
As far as the Eucharist, if I can sum this up (and I probably can't), the Lutherans believe a partaking of the bread and the wine is communing with Christ on a spiritual AND a physical level, whereas we think it's only on a spiritual level. So, as a Lutheran you would believe that if an unbeliever took the bread and the wine he is partaking in Christ, and as a Reformer you would believe the unbeliever is just taking bread and wine and that's all. To be fair, their view of the Eucharist makes more sense to me, but apparently I can't believe that without believing the whole thing. :sigh: Complexity.
There have been many questions that have come to mind through all of this. Like, if the bible is God's revelation to us, why wouldn't we be able to understand it? Or, what does it matter if the unbeliever took communion and partook of Christ since he still doesn't believe? Or, why this seeming antagonism from Lutherans? I certainly don't have any for them. I guess I'll keep looking into this.
31 January 2011
Also discussed was the continuation of the internship of our first intern. I was surprised so many people were in favor of letting him go. I thought he was doing a fantastic job considering his youth and personality. What really got to me was how people wanted him to find another job AND continue to work for the church pro bono. Some were saying he should be happy to engage in volunteer work (preaching and leading the youth group). I felt I could hardly control myself. Surely, they realized that an unemployed man, barely being supported by his wife having to work full time with a young baby, will hardly want to volunteer to preach AND lead the youth group. It seemed outrageous to me. I voted to keep him on staff, but in the end we all (those who wanted to keep him) had to settle for letting him go with the chance of a stipend for his work. I feel that’s only fair. I would rather my siblings be in a youth group led by a consistent teacher who has been able to put time and study into what he is doing.
A motion was at one point on the floor to redirect the funds for keeping the intern on into the deaconal fund. This would almost double the amount of money in the account. It was voted down because we were paving our parking lot and we would only have 36,000 left in our savings if we did. Apparently we’d rather have 46,000 sitting in savings rather than help the needy in our congregation. Yes, that is all sarcasm. I have no idea what we need 46,000 just sitting in an account. We are a church, not a business. To be fair to my fellow members, we have never had a need that wasn’t met. There was apparently at the end of the year a need that exceeded what was in the fund and we did end up dipping into savings. So, it isn’t like we at any point had to turn anyone away in order to let money sit in our savings, but I thought voting down that motion was a little stingy on our parts.
Some of the things we do in our congregational meetings seem so funny. We have to do things in an amazingly structured manner. We have motions and then someone has to second them, and then we discuss. Sometimes there is an amendment of the first motion and someone seconds it, then more discussion. Then we vote on the amendment, and either keep the amendment or go back to the first motion. It sometimes gets very confusing, like the discussion of the stipend. I think a lot of people thought we were just giving our intern the money to use not to pay his bills, but to buy supplies for the youth group. I am glad we do this though. I mean, I’d hate for us to be too lax with the minutes and have something come up and be funded by the church that we, the congregation never intended.
I do have a bit of a gripe with some of my fellow church members however. I do not understand why we have 90 communicant members and 40 of us showed up. I understand that it’s long. I understand that it’s boring. I understand that sometimes it is unpleasant. But we are supposed to be united and that means having an interest in the future of the church. We need to be there to hold one another accountable, and to show our leadership that we want to see the church surviving and the truth prevailing. More than half of our members didn’t seem to care, and even some of the members left about half way through…at least one left right after the installation of the new elders and deacon. I think I will never understand this attitude. The church is not there just to serve us. The church exists because of the Holy Spirit in us keeping us together, but we can’t just give up caring and sit back and “let the Spirit take it.” God uses human instruments, and we all have to do our part. And it’s really just once a year. If we have not grown up enough to sit through a long Presbyterian style meeting once a year, perhaps we have not grown up enough to be members.
Honestly though, I am very blessed by Westminster and the folks there. Obviously there are improvements we could use just like every other church. I think the Lord is active in so many hearts and minds and in the work we do. I try and pray daily for the leadership and future of Westminster, and I hope we continue to grow and to stand firm in the faith. (1 Corinthians 16:13)