Friday, October 28, 2011

what lifts you? 5

Today Sally hosts an easy and quick what lifts you 5.

"Serving Suggestions" from Sally "...I'd like you to share 5 things:

1. A Scripture: it might be a verse or a whole book! Lots and lots come to mind right away, but for right now I'll choose Revelation 22:1-5 and Colossians 1, 1:17b, "In Christ all things hold together."

2. A piece of music: Something like "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"... just as for scripture, I could list a couple dozen, but energetic, not-too-serious and danceable is the general style.

3. A place: the beach and the desert and the inner city that carry within them the history of this planet, the history of many people and the power to remind me I belong.

4. A person/ group of people: the assembly gathered around Word and Sacrament... that's been sustaining me during these too many bleak years. A fun party with great food, thirst-quenching drink and intelligent conversation is a close second.

5. something you do: "Designing!" On my facebook page and other places I've quoted from an ad for papers and boards I found in an old design or trade mag, "In the beginning...a small bell chimed. Creativity! It chimes like a small clear bell at the heart of the human spirit..." and it still does!

Have a wonderful Reformation Sunday or Pentecost 20!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

energetic anatomy

Energetic Anatomy by Mark Rich on Amazon

energetic anatomy coverHaving this book come my way after I agreed to review it for the author has to be a serendipitous event! I could describe this discussion and application of the human energy system (HES) as east meets west meets east, as an integration or re-integration of traditional, indigenous, tribal and folk ways into contemporary, over-rationalized western life, a combining of natural and spiritual—it is all that and more.

I've been slow writing a review because Energetic Anatomy is full of descriptions and actual ways of helping heal your own body, emotions, spirit and psyche and at the same time helping heal your own corner of the universe and I knew I needed to read through and work through the illustrations, explanations, exercises the author provides. However, doing so will take a long time, and given that I expect to live with this book and learn from it for years to come, I'm posting this review now.

Mark Rich inscribed my copy, "Live in wealth, health and love!" and I hope to begin doing so soon. I'm not imagining a single handbook of 150 pages holds all the answers to everything, but everything I've read so far will help heal mind, body, emotions and ultimately relationships with others and with the earth.

The book is a convenient size to hold and heft, but I wish it were set in a larger type face. It includes a comprehensive index and a list of additional resources for those seeking them.

my amazon review: more than auras and chakras, more than east meets west

Saturday, October 15, 2011

blog action day 2011: food!

This year Blog Action Day happens on world food day, and I'm doing some terra firma theology for the event. In scripture, terra firma on which we and other land creatures spend most of our earthbound lives and where our food is grown by ourselves or by others also is tierra santa - holy land. For this post I easily could draw upon a lot of posts from this blog, since most of my theology is theology of creation, theology of the land, the God and the people who live physically, emotionally and conceptually attached to the gift of land.

blog action day 2011 - foodLast year for the topic of water I wrote, "As Christians we are People of the Book that begins with waters of the first creation and ends with rivers of the new, a book in which water is a persistent image." In the Hebrew scriptures the journey into the land...into the land...into the land forms an incessant theme; the garden of the first creation ultimately becomes the city of the new creation that begins in the garden of resurrection. From the earliest Pentateuch source we read about God forming the first human from the dirt of the ground and naming him A-dam, after that dirt. Later on the New Testament shows us the new Adam, Jesus of Nazareth, who reveals the divine to us most fully and completely, and like the first Adam is born out of the stuff of the earth.

In the book of Genesis in the Old Covenant scriptures, we read about Joseph's brothers betraying him and selling him into Egypt. After he spends time in prison, Joseph becomes a community leader and sits in authority at the right hand of the Egyptian pharaoh; from that position he helps distribute life-restoring grain to a hungry people. In the gospel accounts in the New Covenant Scriptures, we read about Jesus of Nazareth, who like Joseph is sold and betrayed into the ultimate prison, the ultimate bondage of death and is resurrected to new life before ascending to sovereignty at the "right hand" of God. From there, like Joseph, through his followers he has charged to be his continued presence on earth Jesus distributes life-giving grain to a starving world.

Water was the subject of last year's Blog Action Day and this year it's food! The faith and practice tradition I follow celebrates both water and bread as central to our understanding of God's gracious actions and presence in the world.

Early in the pages of scripture, God gives plants and trees and seeds for food and commands the people to care for and steward the land and the rest of creation. Central to the formation of Israel is the divine promise of deliverance from slavery and that the people would be led to a land "flowing with milk and honey," a place with pomegranates, figs, olives, vineyards, a land they would cultivate and steward in freedom rather than in grueling slavery. Scripture gives human creatures a place within the created order and a call to steward, maintain, treasure and support the rest of creation; the commandments that relate human creatures one to another and to all creation are critical for the planet's survival. The Creator God covenants with all creation, and as creatures in God's image, so do the people of God.
Therefore keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you. Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. Deuteronomy 8:6-11
The Gospel of Jesus Christ has no national or cultural boundaries; it is "good news" of victory of life over death for all creation, yet the good news must becomes incarnate, embodied and enfleshed within particular local cultures. In the church eating events are commonplace and have achieved close to a level of caricature. Potlucks, Christmas Teas, Ice Cream Socials, Barbecues on the Bay, monthly Friday evening parties or potlucks...

Through its witness, scripture brings humanity a call to help initiate justice and redemption for all creation and an ultimate vision of the eschatological feast in which the entire earth is healthy and restored, living in mutual covenantal dependence. The Lord's Supper, Holy Communion, the Eucharist - sometimes simply referred to as "the sacrament" - is the proleptic, preliminary yet full realization of the time of redemption of all creation. It's a vernacular meal and a nutritious one! The eucharist is slow food, it's cooperatively grown and produced food, it is nourishing and it is memorable. Just as waters and rivers become holy water in baptism, in the Lord's Supper, Holy Communion, solid earth, terra firma, becomes holy land, tierra santa.

Scripture moves from the waters of the old creation to the rivers of the new; the narrative of scripture moves from the garden of the first creation to the city of the new creation. That "end time" of the no more of cycles of war, violence, famine, hatred, deceit and deprivation will be a time of the fullness of redemption for all creation, not solely human creatures. The eschatological, "final things" feast of the Eucharist is sign, symbol, realization and reality of "will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?" When the disciples asked Jesus that question, he told them to wait right there in Jerusalem (the center of the known world at the time) until the Spirit engulfed and engaged them with his power to enact redemption on earth. [Acts 1:6-8] The pre-exilic writer who's sometimes referred to as 1st Isaiah, Proto-Isaiah or Isaiah of Jerusalem brought a necessary vision for whole food and covenantal living:
In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Isaiah 2:2-4
Body of Christ, Amen!!!

twitter hash tags: #BAD11; #food

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

october synchroblog: down we go

Each month we get a chance to together on a single chosen topic. It's Synchroblog Time! Here's the Wordpress blog.

I'm yearning for the dignity of participating in life to an extent related to my abilities and I'm longing for the redemption of love...

On to this month's topic with introductory ideas from the page and site:
Independence. Success. Upward Mobility. Security. Comfort. In subtle and direct ways, many of have been sent a message by the world (and sometimes by the faith systems we have been part of) that life is about moving up–away from pain and suffering and toward comfort, stability, and put-togetherness. This kind of living is much different than the kind of life Jesus calls us to in the gospels. ... Jesus consistently modeled going down... into the low and messy places of people’s experiences–intersecting with the lepers, the lonely, the outcasts, the marginalized. He calls us to a life of humility, love, and interdependence. ... Where do you see Jesus calling you downward? What does it mean to you? How is your faith being stretched and challenged on the journey down? ... Are there paradoxes to be explored?
"Are there paradoxes to be explored?" I'm living in a huge paradox as I look back at the past too many years and try to fathom how I got to where I am (in terms of my level of accomplishment) and cannot imagine how I *ended* up so lonely, without opportunities and without the sense of hope Jesus' death and resurrection demonstrates and Christianity calls us to. I wonder if my heart ever will mend. Pain, hurt, loneliness and praying for death. What is hard? Almost everything, yet how many times have I told myself and anyone who'd listen for a moment that in spite of everything, in every area of endeavor I've accomplished far more than ever I'd imagined I would?

Most often I type my posts in TextEdit, which sometimes auto-corrects in embarrassing ways, sometimes in interesting ways. I thought I was typing are there paradoxes to be explored, but likely got at least one letter wrong and it changed to paradises to be explored! Given that the biblical paradise is here, now, and earthbound, I'm wishing and hoping that was a sign of the future, esp as I work through a blog for this year's Blog Action Day, with Food as the topic!

I did go "into the low and messy places of people's experiences" with trips to the plasma center, hanging at the day labor place (okay, only 2 or 3 days there, not only was it cold winter and I had to be there by 6 a.m. they had almost nothing for women), figuring out the food distribution schedule at all the charities and a long string of other fun, enlightening, not-fun and sometimes denigrating activities that I'm still here to remember. As part of an intentional plan, I'd start worshiping and hangin' out some at a local church where I'd read the bulletin and the newsletter to find ways new to me and proven by me that I could serve and contribute, and almost constantly got comments like,"it would be better if you didn't; we can't let you; someone else is going to do that; we're not going to do that; you don't want to..."

When simpler, less complex, people remind me, "God laughs at our plans," I can tell you some downward movement was good for me. For example, though I hadn't always had good jobs, I'd never had a crummy job. But God calls us to live out our baptism in community, and no, contrary to what assumptions a few folks have made, I haven't waltzed or jogged into one local church after another and announced my background, interests, qualifications and immediately started volunteering to do everything. I've taken it slow and easy, usually trying to connect with groups and activities that might interest me and where I know I could contribute. It's not at all that I need people to be my cheerleaders; it's that doing any of the activities I feel called to do require an invitation or at least permission. Even if I were someone who enjoyed playing the piano for recreation, fun and pleasure, with the years I've spent practicing, the teachers I've had, the repertoire I've learned and my sheer joy at performing for an audience, how can it be vain and idle to want to do so again? I'd love to teach art again... teach and preach again. Is it so impossible to allow and encourage me to design a few Sunday bulletin covers? I did more music and more design when I was on pastoral staff than I've done since!

Recently I've watched Amanda Knox come "home" to Seattle. She'd gone to Italy as an exchange student where instead of doing much school she was tried and convicted of a crime, incarcerated for four years and then exonerated on appeal. On the one hand I've been amazed at the amount of human support she's received, but on the other hand, no one can live alone, no one can survive without community to hold them up, to be a mirror (distorted or not) to help show them who they are... This is a military town and we frequently see homecomings and farewells as part of the news and in all this I get the message we're supposed to be attached to other people, to love them, to miss them, to be excited about seeing them again. Part of being human is to have people in your lives who are attached to and love you, who think of you and miss you when you're apart, who long to see you again and who are excited about reuniting with you whenever that happens. At almost every graduation, ordination and related event speeches thank those who've journeyed alongside the graduate, the ordinand or the politician, explaining the success, achievement, accomplishment isn't theirs along; it's shared and it's been possible because it's not been solo and solitary. Everyone has rough patches, many if not most of which fade into near-oblivion when things start improving. Downward mobility?

As scripture reveals, as the history of the people of God in every time and place demonstrate, and as this month's intro insists, God "..calls us to a life of humility, love, and interdependence." No one can be themselves without the mirror of a faithful, loving community that's not threatened, not threatening and that's unafraid to tell the truth. God calls us to live out our baptism in community and in the world; our lives begin and keep returning to the assembly gathered around Word and Sacrament. Interdependence. Jesus asked the guy by the Bethsaida pool, "Do you want to be healed?" And the guy replied, "There is no one to pick me up and put me in the pool after the angel stirs the waters." My situation exactly, and the lack of community literally has been dehumanizing. Another paradox that's both gift and not-gift is that most likely no one perceives me as someone whose life is in tatters and splinters. Of course, if someone was close enough to me, spent time enough with me and heard enough from me...!

To conclude I need again to quote from Robin and Linda Williams' "Don't Let me Come Home a Stranger":
When the ties no longer bind. Lord save me from this darkest fear
Don't let me come home a stranger
I couldn't stand to be a stranger

In this place so far from home, they know my name but they don't know me
They hear my voice, they see my face; but they can lay no claim on me...
"they know my name but they don't know me...

What does this feel like? What I imagine a cat or dog abandoned at the animal shelter and expecting a death sentence feels.

...I'm longing for the redemption of love... and I need to learn to tell my story. Amen? Amen!

Other October synchroblog participants:

What am I Wearing?

On Segullah, Kellie wrote about What Are You Wearing? …and that's what I'm considering.

The site name, "Segullah" – סְגֻלָּ֔ה – in the Hebrew Bible is a valued possession, a treasure.

What's my online brief "about me" ID these days? Usually something close to "life in beta—living baptized, bringing a vision of the New Creation, shattering stereotypes, scattering ideas … outsider theologian and insider designer: 'theology is my worldview; designing for the desert is what I do.'"

desert spirit's fire autumn 2011Remember "you are what you eat"? In many ways you are what you wear, at the moment you're wearing it and in the way your style often sums up a lot of your ethnic, class, economic, religious and other culture. Without much doubt your total style locates you at a time and place in history, within your own individual history and the history of your ethnic, class, economic, educational, religious (if any) and other (if any) groups. Aspirational? Sometimes!

I've described my typical style as including and conveying hints of coastal, seashore, urban, retro, funky, casual, vintage, preppy, prairie… I love blue denim and more often than not I wear cargo pants or a short denim or skirt. I love hoodie sweaters and jackets; I love long skirts and long dresses, too. The color palettes of most of the clothes in my wardrobe are desert and beach hues: brights, pastels, or natural colours, never black, almost never darks. This is Southern California (didn't I mention coastal? and whenever possible I wear sandals instead of real shoes. After an African-American tradition, I always wear a silver bangle baptismal bracelet. I am what I wear: I am baptized; I am in Christ.

When I wrote about Ted Kennedy I said a little about what it means to live baptized, to wear your baptism. In that blog I explained,
baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we are dressed in forgiven, sinless righteousness and each of the baptized wears a baptismal calling to a life of justice, a call to a journey to the cross if – "when" – necessary; to speaking and acting prophetically against the political, economic, social and cultural establishments. In the Spirit God calls and enables us to talk the talk and walk the walk. Figuring out and discerning a specific career path can be tough, scary and difficult, but we all receive the same baptismal call to lives of justice and equality, to living the Magnificat… Luke 1:51-55
life stuff buttonBut unless I'm dressed for church or a rare out-to-dinner or party event in a favorite dress or skirt, I'm usually in casual clothes that probably are typical for this beachside coastal desert. After all, I'm a designing, urban Californian. I wear a silver bangle bracelet that constantly helps me remember "I am baptized." Baptized into a gospel without national boundaries, a way of being and of living that can be and needs to be contextualized into local culture and expressed in local spoken languages and ethnic (class, educational, aspirational…) accent. In scripture, the Pauline and especially the deutero-Pauline movement is not from a solitary, isolated atomized individual into an undifferentiated Body of Christ; it's from solitary, disconnected individuality to uniqueness and particularity within the gathered Body of Christ.

What does that mean? I can wear cargos and sweater, someone else can wear dashiki or dreads, a stetson or a kilt. Whatever we wear and however we live out our baptismal call to serve wherever we find ourselves, God's call and gracious invitation to help enact justice in the world, each of us brings varying abilities – "varieties of [practical, spiritual, intellectual, creative and lots of other] gifts" – for listening, for programming, for administering, for teaching for cooking or baking; all these have a place in some places, many of them in most places. Each of these needs to be spoken – contextualized! – with a local accent.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

So this is Justin Bieber!

Belieber!: Faith, Fame, and the Heart of Justin Bieber by Cathleen Falsani

Belieber! book cover"Voice of a Generation," the title of chapter 10 suggests. Even four or five years ago, there wouldn't have been a book that included verbatim twitter feeds and hashtags. Even four or five years ago, there was no Justin Bieber phenom. After all, the popular Canadian-born performer and world-class tweeter is only 17 years old! Worthy Publishing encourages readers who like the book to join Facebook and twitter conversations and offers a model tweet; all this demonstrates a bit of the way social media has become a constant and a given in most of our lives.

Cathleen Falsani currently writes for Religion News Service and is an editor for Washington, D.C. based Sojourners. Exactly like her, I'll confess I'd never consciously and intentionally listened to any of teen idol singer Justin Bieber's songs until I read this book. I needed to know what he was about, so I popped onto YouTube and checked out several songs with listenings/viewings into the many millions, figuring those must be the best-known. All of them were energetic, fresh, and pleasant, though not particularly sophisticated. The video part clearly was directed toward people in their early- to mid-teen years. Although I loved and resonated with a whole lot of the experiences Cathleen wrote about in Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace and expect to re-read it more than once, if *they* hadn't sent me a review copy of Belieber! most likely I wouldn't have considered reading it.

Cathleen's journalistic credentials literally shine through the material she presents. She conveys basics about Justin's parents and grandparents, a little about his upbringing, his first musical and spiritual experiences in a local evangelical church community, his first home-produced YouTube vids and onto Atlanta, Georgia and Scooter Braun, his manager and now caring older-brother figure discovering him. Needless to say, then ensued the young Canadian's trek toward stardom and the concerns that arise as anyone, famous or not, moves through adolescence into adulthood. To help place non-teens into the picture frame, the author nicely parallels today's Bieberites with her own experience as a young woman infatuated with Bono and the band U2. In some detail she chronicles how her own life and work likely would have been very different had she not encountered and become smitten with U2's activist, justice-oriented style of Christianity and their dedication to worlds and to peoples beyond their own Ireland.

Every chapter of this book is about Justin Bieber's spiritual and musical lives, because this young man is well-reputed to be a committed Christian and at least some of the hype surrounding him centers around the style and substance of his commitment to Jesus Christ. Due to his hectic-nonstop ultra-celebrity schedule, Cathleen was not able to meet Justin Bieber before this book was published, but she gives reasons she's pretty much convinced the young Bieber guy is personally, morally and Christianly real, genuine and authentic, is being mentored and managed well, and is surrounded by people who truly care for and about him and his future.

Sixteen pages of full-color photos in the center of the book would help entice Beliebers (as Justin's followers often are called) to buy the book; pull-quotes from Bieber fans throughout the book also add appeal and even some credibility. End matter in Belieber! includes a list of Justin's favorite charities and a list of Cathleen Falsani's, along with "what you can do suggestions" for each one. The author also provides 20 mostly God- and spirituality-related questions for possible conversations between adults (teachers, parents, pastors) and children or youth and maybe even conversation among friends of any ages. I also appreciate the inclusion of endnotes.

Belieber! on Worthy Publishing

my Amazon review: So this is Justin Bieber!

Friday, October 07, 2011

lovely things 5

Songbird hosts today's things we do for love friday 5 and suggests we list:

1) Something you did for love that was a hit:

There probably are quite a few, but I got the impression my grandmother really appreciated the garage door opener I got her for a Christmas present. After all, opening a heavy, 2-car garage door is too much for almost anyone, and though my grandfather could be extremely generous with $$$ and other gifts, he also had a tendency toward false economies when it came to material accoutrements and household appointments.

2) Something you did for love that was more of a miss:

Back in former city, I'd offered to make birthday dinner for a former friend. It was Sunday afternoon and I knew she always made extensive rounds visiting relatives after the church she attended was over; I also knew she always always, always was very late to everything—that is everything except her early morning shift as a highly skilled, experienced, well-regarded RN at University Hospital. I assembled and cooked an amazing recipe I'd semi-invented, allowing more time even than birthday guest would have needed for when it would be simmered, marinated and ready to serve and enjoy. At this point I don't recall quite how late she got there, but it was very very late indeed. We sat down to eat, she took a forkful and announced, "this is cold!!!" At that point I asked, "Would you like to wear your dinner?" Long long, story, and codependent moi always makes too many excuses and allowances for people, but she ended up dumping me because... who cares at this point? it's really funny in retrospect!

3) Something someone did for love of you:

A friend I recently reconnected with on Facebook via LinkedIn blogged about me—what a gift! We've talked on the phone several times and she asked if I'd read her blog, explained that I was the "dear friend." What. a. gift!

4) Something you *wish* someone would do for love of you:

I so wish people would remember me when they make their guest lists the way they used to, that they'd realize although the years of social isolation have made me strange to others and a stranger to myself, that what they may or may not perceive of my abilities and levels of accomplishments do not threaten them but could be gifts to them and in their worlds and (if they're pastors or church musicians) could enhance their ministries.

5) Something you've done for love of God:

As Martin Luther would insist, although "...I cannot by my own effort or understanding but the HS calls, gather and enlightens..." somehow I've been able to trust, persevere and keep on keepin' on despite everything, because I know God is trustworthy and faithful in spite of me. And I trust it will turn out best for me and for those in my future, too. Trusting? No, knowing God's final answer and response always is resurrection!

Bonus Something I'm doing for love of me:

it's gotta be my ongoing decision and attempts (1) to tell myself my current situation is far from okay; (2) to start telling my story; and (3) to ask people for what I need. Scary, because I've been trying to do all that for a while and it hasn't borne much fruit at all.