Friday, December 20, 2013

Bible Readeez

Legal note – "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this product for free from author, publisher, distributor, or publicist in hope that I would mention it on my blog, and was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: 'Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.'"

Bible Readeez cover
Bible Readeez, The Word Set to Music. According to the website, this Bible Readeez CD-DVD set brings us The Bible's Greatest Hits.

Bible Readeez playlistI am loving this scriptural set of "Learning Disguised as Smiling," especially because it's all-around plain, simple, and unpretentious, along with being refreshing and refreshingly low-tech. DVD images and text are formatted in basic Powerpoint/Keynote slide show style with nothing fancy, no flashing lights, no fantastic effects or transitions, just nice nature images or drawings accompanied by song and scripture text. Kids or adults can watch and learn by singing key scriptures—some in RSV, others in KJV. Bible Readeez brings us Corinthians 13:4-13, Beatitudes, Psalms 23 and 100, the Genesis 1 creation story; the First Christmas account from Luke 2. You also get a catchy Books of the Bible song (I never learned one, so maybe this is one of the standards?) and "Amazing Grace," a song I consider sorely theologically lacking, but most people like it. Besides singing along with the songs, you can listen and read along with a separate reading of each scripture. You, your kids, family, friends, neighbors, various assured significant others also can sing along with either a slower or a 90-second Book of Common Prayer – "trespasses" – Lord's Prayer.

On Amazon you can download a single MP3 of any of the songs or readings. I wish the trifold package anchored the DVD and CD discs more securely, although they stay put well enough when you close the container.

Nota bene: Readeez not only come in scriptural versions, "Readeez are a new way to learn reading, math, ESL, spelling and other useful things. A Readee is a short video, usually musical, where you see and hear every syllable at the same time. We call this SyllableSync. More than 150 Readeez have been produced so far. Readeez were created by Michael Rachap."

my amazon review: simple and refreshing

Sunday, December 15, 2013

advent day 15: rejoice!

Rethink Church's daily prompt for Advent 15 is "rejoice."
Today, the Third Sunday of Advent, is Gaudete or "Rejoice!" Sunday.

advent day 15, rejoice

Sunday, December 08, 2013

advent day 08: wisdom

Rethink Church's daily prompt for Advent 2 is "wisdom." My wisdom is from one of the songs we sang this afternoon at Lessons & Carols at University of San Diego:
O come, thou Wisdom from on high,
who orderest all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

advent day 08, wisdom

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

advent day 03: peace

Rethink Church's daily prompt for Tuesday of Advent 1 is "peace." My peace is a picture of palm trees along Mission Bay Drive a couple weeks ago, after some huge resolution in my life—back to the California I knew and loved!

advent day 03, peace

Monday, December 02, 2013

Advent day 02: bound

Rethink Church's daily prompt for Monday of Advent 1 is "bound." My bound is "by water and the word," with this image of a baptismal font.

advent day 02, bound

Reign of Christ to Advent 2013

Reign of Christ to Advent 2013
I'm writing this on 16 March 2017 that's Thursday of Lent 2, but posting it for early December 2013. As I did some computer housekeeping a couple days ago, I discovered completely unedited photos I'd taken and at the time called the folder 2013novdec, with keywords: rubios, mexican, mission bay drive, grand ave... and others.

For blogging I'm labeling this "what I learned in..." although I hadn't started that linkup back then, and when I checked Emily P. Freeman's archives, I noticed she was posting monthly learnings but hadn't started creating a graphic for each month; you know I'd've grabbed one if she had (though it's many years later). Intro to telling my audience here's a series of eleven illustrations for the days beginning with Reign of Christ, ending with Blue Christmas on Advent 1, 2013.
Rodeway Inn Pacific Beach porch

• Reception Desk / Dining Room patio porch at Pacific Beach Rodeway Inn, San Diego, California.

Rodeway Inn Pacific Beach dining room Rodeway Inn Pacific Beach dining room

• Breakfast supplies and dining area at the PB Rodeway Inn, Sandy Ego, Cal.

Rodeway Inn Pacific Beach surfboards Pacific Beach San Diego Palm Trees

• Since this is Pacific Beach, we need surfboards and a vision of palm trees—here they are!

Pacific Beach Rubios Mission Bay Drive Pacific Beach Rubios Mission Bay Drive

• Ralph Rubio's fish tacos are a true San Diego institution; here's Rubio's on Mission Bay Drive with Taco Tuesday sign in the window.

All Saints Flowers

• Flower on the Fence at All Saints University City, aka "Church On the Hill."

University City pathway to Store University City pool complex

• Surrounding the University City rowhouse where we were international and intercontinental housemates!

Clairemont Lutheran Chapel

• Blue Christmas at Clairemont ELCA, aka "Church Around the Corner."

Sunday, December 01, 2013

advent day 01: go

Rethink Church has a daily prompt for Advent; for Advent 1, Ad te levavi, the word is "go."
My go is "into the darkness," with this image from the Blue Christmas service on the evening of Advent 1.

advent day 01, go

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving Day Food 5

Deb hosts Thanksgiving Day Food 5 on the revgals site

1. Turkey: love it? hate it? self-basted? fry it or roast it? Tofu-turkey? Tell me more. (I’ve only had one roasted turkey come out totally delish so I’m fishing for your tips!)

Neither love nor hate, but I enjoy turkey: oven-roasted (not deep-fried), and on my plate a little light, a little dark, some nicely browned skin, lots of gravy.

2. Stuffing: bagged? homemade? sage? sausage? cornbread? oysters? nuts? Got any inspiration for me?

"Stuffing inside the turkey," "dressing outside in a separate dish." Half corn-meal intensive cornbread, half white bread. Onions, celery, maybe mushrooms. Not too heavy on sage or other seasonings.

3. Cranberries: When we celebrated Thanksgiving in Europe one year, our French friends thought we were nuts to choose a very sour berry and then load it with sugar. (Let alone the stuff that comes out of a can in a blob of gelatinous ooze!) What do you do with cranberries?

Either one of those cans dumped wholesale into a dish, or cranberries and oranges ground up with sugar added.

4. Potatoes: (Boil ‘em, mash ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew…) What’s your pleasure?

On T-Day, mashed with some lumps, and lots of gravy. Any other day, I'll l take my taters any old way. I love them!

5. Pie: I’m married to the Pie Man. Anything but coconut pie floats his boat. What do you make? (or buy?) Pumpkin? Pecan? Apple?

I enjoy most pies (especially love graham cracker crust), but for Thanksgiving, pumpkin / squash pie is best.

BONUS: A recipe that you’ve tried out and will make it to your table this year.

pumpkin pie squares
I've long enjoyed Bisquick Pumpkin Pie Squares and have taken them to countless Thanksgiving Feasts.

Friday, November 08, 2013

random 5 again

Karla hosts again for another ultra-random 5.

1. What's up? How are you?

Today I'm full of hope for the future.

2.If you were a Panda Bear that could speak O.k., even that is too random for me. You are moving to a new office. You can only take five books with you (pretend there is no thing such as kindle, nook, etc.). What would they be BESIDES teh Bible, which is already written on your hearts, yes?

1. Random pick of almost anything by Walter Brueggemann.
2. Dawn Without Darkness. I noticed there's now an amazon review (which I intend to do soon) by the photographer. Way back in the day I borrowed Dawn Without Darkness multiple times from the church library, and the pastor finally told me I could keep it.
3. Since it's best to play these fives quickly to keep them fun, would it be too too too theology geeky to include Book of Confessions and Book of Concord? This is my blog so that's my call, and I'll say it would be fine.
4. I'm also a big fan of Jürgen Moltmann, eternally, endlessly hoping for realized eschatology in our lifetime. I'll include one of his classics, The Church in the Power of the Spirit
5. I used to love the poetry and wisdom of Markings by Dag Hammarskjold, and need to reacquaint myself with it. I have a hardcover copy the head librarian let me take when the library where I worked way back in HS was "condemning" books.

3. If you had a superpower that could give you a five hour retreat, and you could go anywhere in the world to spend those five hours on retreat (because you have superpowers, ya’ know?), where would you go?

To an uncrowded beach on either coast of the USA, any island (Bali?) or any country anywhere, to luxuriate in the sand, ankle-splash in the water, dream underneath the sky, enjoy a picnic lunch. I love the desert, I heal and thrive in the desert, but my retreat needs to include water.

4. What piece of music, song, hymn, etc. are you diggin’ right now?

My blog about What is this Place?

5. Use the following words in a sentence (or two): Tangle, dribble, hook, Panda, shark, smile, worry, island.

With a loud smile, the Panda watched the polar bear dribble a ball (did you see that polar bear on YT or on TV?). Meanwhile, on the island pier, I tried to un-tangle my fishing line, but without real worry, as I had zero desire to hook a shark.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

The Prophetic Imagination

The Prophetic Imagination on amazon

prophetic imagination book cover
We need to quit imagining prophets as only foretellers or social / political protesters, because "Most of all, [prophets] understood the distinctive power of language, the capacity to speak in ways that evoke newness 'fresh from the word.'" Newness that springs from trustfully covenanting rather than frantically consuming. An alternative way of being that emerges from being satisfied with relative scarcity that's actually shalom-full "enough" for everyone in the community.

If this easily readable, "slim volume" has an ongoing theme, it's that only when we acknowledge people, possibilities, and opportunities are forever gone, and begin grieving their loss, will the paradoxical possibility of new life from death arise. In fact, in Yahweh's terms, history – newness that marks the end of uninterrupted forevers in the manner any imperial (political, economic, educational, religious) establishment measures and regulates time [chronos] – always begins with barrenness and bereavement. Read and trust the scriptural witness!

This is radical stuff about newness from the ground up, "life in the shape of death" in the final no to sin, exploitation, empire, consumerism from the Calvary cross that at dawn on the day of resurrection becomes yes to life! Just as in his later writings, in this vintage book Brueggemann reminds us we experience that newness in baptism, then relive it in the eucharist. The Prophetic Imagination is vintage Brueggemann, and it still doesn't get any better than this.

my amazon review: Classic Brueggemann

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

In Man We Trust: the Neglected...

In Man We Trust: The Neglected Side of Biblical Faith by Walter Brueggemann on Amazon

in man we trust Most likely I picked up a hardbound copy of In Man We Trust in perfect condition with no dust jacket, no bookplate, or owner inscription from a free books shelf or bin at divinity school. I've recently reviewed and blogged a few other books by Walter Brueggemann, so here's another, this time it's a first reading of the ©1972 book for me; there's a later 2006 edition.

Particularly for those of us within the theological and ecclesiastical traditions of the Reformation who tend to run with a Paul – Augustine – Luther theological focus and a Heilsgeschichte theological perspective, a strong emphasis on human freedom, responsibility, capability, and competence doesn't quite ring true. Wisdom literature? For sure I'm neither the first nor the last to believe on some level that Proverbs and Ecclesiastes don't really belong in the biblical canon—or in a third or a fourth canon, either. Although Brueggemann discusses Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes to some extent, more than anything he reminds us we discover the same ethos along with material from similar sources in the "J" or Yahwist Pentateuch source—supremely in the life and style of King David, to a more limited degree in the social, religious, and economic styles of United Monarchy bookends Kings Saul and Solomon. Beyond that, the author points out the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth (particularly in Matthew's gospel account) reveals Jesus as Son of David, as a King like unto David, and in human wholeness, freedom, and a rare ability to seize the day – including the day of resurrection – very much as the New David, dancing in the face of death.

We confess we follow the Way of the crucified and risen One. What does it mean to take his name upon us? An arduous journey to the cross? Possibly for a literally select few. What about assuming the fullness of responsible, responsive, humanity? Everyone in the Western world does not spend their days hung up with sin and guilt; in fact, even most protestants aren't mini-Luthers. This viewpoint isn't necessarily one to assume in place of Paul – Augustine – Luther; it's complementary to it in the sense of completing or rounding out, as a way to balance our days. At least since the late twentieth century, fewer and fewer have been walking that walk. Between a little too much, "God, be merciful to me, a miserable sinner, I'm here to claim forgiveness again" amongst church-going adults, and too many parents coddling their kids, absolving their offspring of taking charge of their own lives, every one of us could benefit from the wisdom literature's exploration of wise, fruitful living. You could call this celebration of human freedom, responsibility, capability, and competence a kind of "possibility thinking," and why not?

"They cut me down, and I leapt on high; I am the life that'll never, ever die. I am the Lord of the dance, said he."

my amazon review: an important perspective

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Russell Shorto: Amsterdam

Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City, by Russell Shorto on Amazon. Today, 22 October 2013, is the book's publication day!

Amsterdam cover Russell Shorto knows his Amsterdam! He knows the social, economic, political, and religious history of the city; he has done a lot of research (of course you need already to know what something is about in order to know what to look up and discover more about), and brought all of it together extremely well.

I love Amsterdam, city of canals, and city of bicycles. I've loved the city since before I first ventured there. I love landing at Schiphol and the sound of church bells. I love that some of my progenitors were Dutch. I even love the cold wind blowing off the North Sea. And I love how Russell Shorto describes the city's human scale, its dual emphases on the individual and on a fully collaborative society that accomplishes virtually nothing without getting it done together. I had to read this book!

In school most of us learned something about how humans working together claimed The Netherlands from the sea; ocean trade routes and trading in commodities; speculative financial markets; exploration and settlement of "new worlds" formed part of most high school and undergrad curricula. How interesting it was to read biographical sketches of at least a dozen truly historically pivotal Amsterdammers like Rembrandt and Spinoza and van Gogh―with each account of each life exactly the correct length.

The author articulates ways all these and many more aspects of living in Amsterdam (and truly, of being Dutch) contributed to the development of an almost unimaginably diverse and complex world within a world that, in general, has been a safe place for differences.

Amazon send me a prepublication "bound galley," so I don't have end notes or index, but I will take advantage of the splendid bibliography. Five stars for sure, and a keeper for my own bookshelves.

my Amazon review: Amsterdam Panorama

justice is important; food is essential

October Synchroblog

October synchroblog
October synchroblog: what is social justice, really? Really, what is social justice?

Defining terms, I'll take "social" to be all or most of the people in a given geographical area or population cohort. Such as? Everyone in Current City, since for the most part, people are most interested in local concerns. I'll run with "justice" mostly as distribution of goods and services (implying also bads and disservices) in terms of who gets what, when, how, why... however, at least this time, I'm not equating justice with equality.

Hebrew bible scholar Walter Brueggemann tells us, "Justice is important, but food is essential." How powerful it is that we celebrate the fullness of redemption with a literal "Holy Communion," coming together around a table that's a festival of thanksgiving, a Eucharistic meal, a foretaste of the "Messianic Feast"? A time and a place where the land has been healed, crops are healthy (non-GMO), everyone contributes in some way to the food on the table, and everyone enjoys the feast. The gospel accounts – especially Luke's – tell about Jesus eating and celebrating with friends, disciples, strangers, and outcasts. And about giving his body for the life of the world.

Basic human needs include food, potable water, sleep, breathable air, and community. For the past year I've been participating in an ongoing weekly Thursday evening story about food freely offered to all comers at Church Around the Corner. Some of us arrive early to help set the table, make lemonade, slice, dice, sauté, bake, and grill. Lately we've been serving rather than having guests serve themselves. For a couple of hours, non-church neighborhood folks, usually some from one or more of the nearby homeless enclaves, regular church participants, and anyone else who stops in becomes part of this "family meal," as the sign in front of the church building describes it. Most everyone already has access to safe water, some place to sleep, air that's not actually toxic, and sometimes a ready supply of good food (although sometimes not so ready and not so good). Each Thursday we also offer that essential of community, a place of safety and belonging—if only briefly.

Who gets what, when, how, and why? Anyone who stops by gets a multi-course meal, conversation if they want to talk, an invitation to return, even questions about why we're doing this answered. We let them know they are so very welcome at Sunday worship, also! Why is Church Around the Corner providing good food for everyone? Partly to follow the example of Jesus, as part of their desire to live a Eucharistic lifestyle beyond weekly Sunday morning liturgy, partly because their position in that neighborhood mandates they reach out and serve their neighbors—all or most of the people in that particular neighborhood.

Justice is important, but food is necessary. Social justice is about getting a little more than those essentials, but making basics easily available helps begin freeing people to seek, to be open to opportunities for other aspects of justice.

Other October Synchroblog Participants:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Stasi Eldredge, Becoming Myself

Becoming Myself: Embracing God's Dream of You on Amazon

becoming myself coverAuthor Stasi Eldredge's Becoming Myself mostly keeps women readers in mind, but really, this book could benefit anyone of any gender or chronology beyond ten years old or so. It's from Christian publisher David C Cook, and I feel Christians ranging from conservative evangelical to the more theologically and socially liberal mainline can relate to Becoming Myself. I expect to read this book a few more times (yes, it was that good, and that helpful!), and I'd encourage women – and guys, too – from almost any or no faith perspective to read and benefit from the author's wisdom.

Describing how she has triumphed, prevailed, and changed – by looking to the witness and examples in scripture, and especially to the witness and example of Jesus Christ – Stasi necessarily includes a whole lot of autobiographical material; real life experiences rather than abstract ideas fill the paragraphs and pages. At least one reviewer mentioned that Stasi's not a professional psychologist, psychotherapist, or counselor, but she has learned to revisit past situations in healthy ways, and to benefit from scriptural and proven psychological insights.

The content and general style of Becoming Myself encourages a person to look inward, to look back, to assess and to affirm the pain, the messiness, the failures, the what might have beens, in ways that acknowledge what has happened—because you know you can't change what you don't acknowledge! A good psychotherapist or counselor can help with this kind of "inner work," but in the end, you actually do it yourself, as you clear out the old to make space for different, healthier behaviors. Stasi Eldredge's Becoming Myself can help with that journey! There's also a study guide and a Spanish-language edition of the book.

my amazon review: help and hope for the journey

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September Synchroblog: Loving Nature - Is God Green?

September's synchroblog Loving Nature: Is God Green? is a near-perfect fit for my own theological propensities, so I'm participating this time!

Our hosts suggested a few ideas:
1. Does God really love creation? If so, what does that mean?
2. How did “green” become synonymous with "pagan pantheist"? Or maybe "Godless liberal"?
3. Should churches be thinking and talking about things like energy usage, divestment of pensions invested in fossil fuel, environmental policy, sustainable food sheds, deforestation?
4. What did Paul mean in Romans 8 when he spoke of a groaning creation?
5. How does our eschatology shape our view of ecotheology?

green beauty with red houseHere on desert spirit's fire, a "festival rejoicing in all creation," I've blogged about this general topic many many times; this time I'll pick up 4 and 5, and make a collage by adding few ideas of my own. If this sounds familiar to readers of this blog, that's because I've kept on keepin' on with the same ideas.

Despite current interest in ecological theology emphasizing the redemption and integrity of all creation – not solely human creatures – a lot of teaching and preaching in the Church still focuses on humanity, which in some ways may not be all that "off," given that so much of the rest of creation is in need of restoration, revitalization, and resurrection from death primarily because of human sin and failure to steward creation.

In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul insists all creation waits for redemption because true children of God, humans who authentically mirror and embody the Divine Image in which they've been created, care for the earth differently, in a manner that reflects their Divine Nature. In the witness of scripture all creation is mutually covenanted and covenanted with heaven; all creation carries within itself breath of the Divine and breathes the Spirit of Life.

Romans 8:19-23, NKJV
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
Scripture tells us the God of heaven and earth chose to make dwelling-place, Shekinah, to pitch a tent, a portable dwelling, to live and journey alongside creation.

John 1:14 MSG
The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish.
basic house greensChristianity proclaims God's definitive self-revelation in Jesus of Nazareth, in a body formed from the "stuff" of the earth. Jesus the Christ, the one whose body his followers would become... as the God of heaven and earth still chooses to make Shekinah, to live right here in the 'hood.

My particular Reformation theological tradition emphasizes the ongoing Divine presence and God's continued self-giving in the sacraments. Baptism and Holy Communion are lively signs to the world of our seeking and working for justice for all peoples and all the earth everywhere. Sacraments also signify the sacredness of all life as they form a microcosm of the promised time of the fullness of redemption for all creation. Real food comes from the earth, and for celebrating sacramental ordinances we use flowing water, juice or wine from the fruit of the grapevine, and (ideally recently homemade) bread baked from natural ingredients, so we need to be friends of the earth to continue celebrating sacraments.

Revelation, the last book of the bible, foretells the reconciliation of all things, of the lion lying down with the lamb, of people from east and west, from north and south, gathered around the welcome table of the Messianic Feast. The garden of resurrection has grown into a city, where the river of life and the tree of life provide for all creation.

Revelation 22:1-5 NRSV
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
God has spoken to church, society, world, and to each of us with many "if - then" cautions, warnings, and promises. If you keep the commandments, if you are faithful, if your actions do justice to others, if you steward creation well, then it will be well with you and with yours, the earth will begin to heal. The greener we become, the greener Planet Earth will be!

Other September Synchrobloggers:

Friday, September 06, 2013

let's eat! 5

let's eat! 5 on the new revgals site

1) Is there a food from a foreign land whose reputation led to trepidation when you had a chance to give it a try? Did you find the courage to sample it anyway? If so, were you pleasantly surprised or did you endorse the less than favorable reputation that preceded it?
Short answer: I'd never been inclined to try calamari, and at my first interview weekend in a Former City, I went out to Saturday evening dinner at an Italian bistro with my host family. After he finished the side salad, my host commented, "I've always enjoyed the salads here, but this time the added calamari made it just about perfect." So I realized I'd done it. Although I'm adventuresome about food from plants and trees, I'm close to vegetarian (a little meat or fish once or twice a week), and would not willingly try anything like candied ants or fried grasshoppers.

2) What food from your own country/culture gets a bad rap?
It seems to me that a whole lot of basic USA vittles a whole lot of us took for granted when we were kids, and that most of today's working class kids still eat on a regular basis, no longer are acceptable "among the" highly educated high achievers.

3)Of what food are you fond that others find distasteful?
I love brussels sprouts—with fresh lemon juice, fresh butter, shredded parmesan, swiss, or similarly nutty cheese; I've seen enough negative brussels-sprouts related status updates to know they aren't popular with many peeps. On the other hand, although I loved broccoli when I was in HS, I'll eat it these days, but don't much crave or relish broccoli, no matter how it's prepared.

4) Is there a country’s food, not native to you, that you go out of your way to eat?
I consider myself at least a moderate foodie, and will go out of my way to enjoy again almost anything I liked the first time around. But, I typically have major conniptions if or when the second tasting isn't exactly the same as the first.

5) What is your guilty pleasure food?
Not sure I have one! Really!

Bonus: What was your most memorable meal (good or bad), either because of the menu, the occasion, the company, or some other circumstance that makes it stand out?
Back in Former City, every single Sunday after worship "Meal," every holiday or other party feast with the Tongan Church was to die for, as was their hospitality. They told me, "We have the gift of music and the gift of food." They also had the gift of hospitality.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Finally Comes The Poet

Finally Comes the Poet, Daring Speech for Proclamation by Walter Brueggemann on amazon

finally comes the poet cover Walter Brueggemann found this book title in "Passage to India," from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. This world has become "prose-flattened," so an alternative mode of addressing and encountering became the subject of the 1989 Lyman Beecher Lectures at Yale Divinity School.

Poetry isn't necessarily rhyme, metaphor, or simile, but poetry is the same type of alternative to conventional verbal expression that resurrection is to the reign of death. Israel spoke of the prophet, Greece of the poet, but both poet and prophet spoke and gave (in the Spirit they still speak and still give) the world jarring, angular, prodding, probing, redemptive words.

This is Brueggemann, so you won't be surprised to know he reminds us "Word has its habitat in Sacrament. But it is to say more. It is to say that all our talking and listening is out of baptism and into baptism." (page 85)

In some ways Finally Comes the Poet is mostly a book for preachers and for those who regularly attend to preaching, but it's also a book for every one of us wherever we are. For the preacher in her or his daily sojourns to the mall or the grocery store or the watering spot. For every one of us who gathered around Word and Sacrament last Sunday, who now gather around colleagues at the office, grandkids at the kitchen table, second graders in the classroom, "bound in covenant to the life of God" (page 85), inspired to speak and evoke a lively and life-giving alternative to the reign of death.

So let's not be prose-flattened? Let's all be and become the poet for each other!

my amazon review: Finally Comes The Poet

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Rivers by Michael Farris Smith

Legal note in accordance with Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR. Part 255: I received this product for free from Amazon Vine with no requirement to write a positive review.

Additional blog material not included in my review:
You know I had to choose this book! I was born in the very deep south of the USA; as a little kid I lived with my late Dad while he taught forestry at Mississippi State—although I never really knew him, his obit says he worked in Gulfport those last couple decades of his life. Besides, Rivers is loaded with biblical and theological imagery. So here's my take on Rivers, by Michael Farris Smith.

Rivers book cover In the dark, murky, weather events and human interactions in this soon to be published book by Michael Smith, we find some apocalypticism in the natural world as we've known it unfurled into chaotic disarray, though very little apocalyptic in the literary sense of veiled, coded, communications. Is "protagonist" still a viable word? If so, it sounds too pretentious for something set in the Southern USA, too mannered for anything on my book shelves, so I'll refer to Cohen and Mariposa as the main characters.

Cohen's name connotes priest, a mediator between earth and heaven; Mariposa is the resurrection symbol of butterfly. The quick-moving narrative is biblical, it is southern, in some ways it's even a little southern religious. But not tent revival meeting, crickside baptism religion. Religious mostly in symbols of night, darkness, dawn, violence, blood, water, death, birth, resignation, and redemption. In the scriptural symbol of house as sheltered dwelling, house as lineage and continuation of one's name and presence in the world.

At book's opening we learn that Cohen, like his father before him, framed houses. Cohen's wife Elisa and his unborn daughter named Rivers both are dead. On horseback, on foot, in a truck, anyway he can move an inch or a mile, Cohen aims for Gulfport; along the way, he becomes entangled and intertwined with a couple dozen folks. He's no longer physically framing houses, and the daughter who promised Cohen's future is gone, so Mariposa needs to enter the story. Due to violent circumstances and mortal injury, Cohen eventually dies, but (of course) not before Mariposa becomes pregnant with Cohen's offspring. Was it not inevitable that amidst the end of the world as many had known it, a child from Cohen, whose name suggests connecting heaven and earth, would come into the picture to offer a future and a hope because of Mariposa, the butterfly that emerges from the caterpillar's tomb? Did it not need to happen that Cohen again would frame a house, this time one that bore his DNA and carried his lineage?

As much as I enjoyed Smith's writing and his Southern Impressions, and appreciated how he skillfully painted one scene after another, I was a little disappointed that Cohen and Mariposa were the only clearly drawn characters, but that may have been intentional. Also, this book was just about the correct length. If environmental. southern, or (semi)-apocalyptic fiction is one of your pleasures, I hope you'll consider reading Michael Farris Smith's Rivers. Thank you.

my amazon review: new from Michael Farris Smith

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Deep Memory, Exuberant Hope

Deep Memory, Exuberant Hope: Contested Truth in a Post-Christian World by Walter Brueggemann on Amazon

deep memory, exuberant hope coverThis is the third and final offering in a trilogy of reflections on our lives together by Walter Brueggemann, published by Fortress Press at the end of the last century, beginning of this one.

In memory and in hope, "We are forever re-imagining and retelling and reliving our lives through the scandal of Friday and the rumor of Sunday." Preaching as sub-version: a life-giving word within a death-dealing situation. Staying in Egypt is not our only option, and remember, [the exilic] 2nd Isaiah "funded Handel's Messiah!"

In this last book of the series that began with The Covenanted Self, and continued with Texts that Linger, Words That Explode, Walter Brueggemann asks why on earth anyone would want to "delete YHWH" [page 119] in relating these stories, these sagas, if you weren't proclaiming YHWH's agency and part in them? Well, if it weren't for YHWH, we wouldn't be reading or talkin' about any of these mighty acts of creation, liberation, homecoming, and resurrection because they wouldn't have happened; we couldn't begin to envision the possibility of daily bread for which we do not owe empire. In fact, if you do leave YHWH out of everything, "...not much that matters remains."

All three books in this series would be outstanding preaching and teaching resources; they even include detailed endnotes, as well as author and scripture indices.

my amazon review: deep memory, exuberant hope

Texts that Linger, Words that Explode

Texts That Linger, Words That Explode: Listening to Prophetic Voices by Walter Brueggemann on Amazon.

In the first book of this 3-book series of collected lectures, The Covenanted Self, Brueggemann discussed creation in covenant with Creator—especially regarding the life-giving words of the Ten Commandments of the Sinai Covenant and their later interpretation by Jesus of Nazareth as the Great Commandment to love God, Neighbor, and self. texts that linger words that explode coverIn Texts that Linger, Words that Explode, the second group of considerations of (mostly) texts from the Hebrew scriptures, the author emphasizes prophetic words, warnings, and promises from the Hebrew bible, relates them to the "fully-texted" [page 8] community of the New Testament, and insists upon the ongoing necessity of obedient, covenantal life in our own commodity-saturated context.

It's a logical continuation to contemplate dangers and outcomes of not following the Spirit of the Sinai Covenant, of not living justly with one another and with all creation, of not making God and neighbor a priority, of succumbing to temptations of fear, anxiety, and those still-present spurious allurements of consumerism and bling. As he almost always does, Walter Brueggemann reminds us the baptized, gospeled, "fully texted" community in which we gather around word and sacrament is the foundation of our own lives in resistance to death-dealing temptations, in embrace of resurrection-risking obedience. It's impossible to highlight and cite the 80% – 90% of everything in this series I found interesting and important, so I trust you'll consider reading these books for yourself. Deep Memory, Exuberant Hope, is the third and last book of this series.

my amazon review: words that linger, texts that explode

Friday, August 30, 2013

first times 5

For the very last time ever on blogger, Mary Beth hosts first times five.

1. first "place" - apartment, dorm room, home with a new spouse, the first place where you really felt like a grownup:
my undergrad habitat on Clark Street with its "first floor" (continental terminology) location atop Anastasi Bros Banana Warehouse. A 2 minute walk to the Prado with statue of Paul Revere on horseback, another minute to Old North Church of Paul Revere fame, "Christ Church in the City of Boston."

2. first time away from home. Construe this any way you want. College? Girl Scout Camp? Study Abroad?
How about my first solo flight as a passenger to DTW – Detroit Wayne County airport – to visit relatives when I was in 8th grade.

3. first job in your field of endeavor (so, not baby-sitting, unless you are A Professional Baby Sitter today):
A few paid free-lancing design gigs during HS.

4. first time hosting. Again, construed broadly, this could be a dinner for the in-laws, your first time to have guests for a holiday meal, etc.:
The first party I hosted during high school. Making the guest list, planning the entertainment (music and games), determining the menu and creating the food.

5. Your first love. That can be a person or something else!!:
Mine relates to (3): color! line! pattern! design! I wanted to design textiles! I was about 4 years old.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Covenanted Self

The Covenanted Self: Explorations in Law and Covenant by Walter Brueggemann on Amazon

covenanted self cover The Covenanted Self is the first of a three-book series of Hebrew Bible-focused articles that continues with Texts that Linger, Words that Explode, and concludes with Deep Memory, Exuberant Hope. In a formal sense, "Covenant" in the title mostly refers to the brokered-by-Moses Ten Commandments of the Sinai Covenant between Yahweh and Israel. We first hear the words of the Decalogue in Exodus, and then again in the book of Deuteronomy, where we also read accounts of real people working out life in obedience as dangers to their own freedom and threats to the Lordship of YHWH surround them. And now, as a baptized people, we follow the commandments in our own daily journeys of life together at home, in church, in nearby community, and in the larger world.

Whatever the context then or now, there or here, Brueggemann emphasizes how those flexible, dynamic, yet explicit guidelines for just, sustainable, life together within the spirit of the law could not run more counter to the consumerist debtor economy most of us in the West were born into. We need to trust God's promise depends upon grace, but also upon our obedience. The book includes excellent endnotes, an author index, and scripture references.

my amazon review: The Covenanted Self

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Finding God in a Bag of Groceries

Finding God in a Bag of Groceries: Sharing Food, Discovering Grace, the book, on amazon, by Laura Willis.

finding god in a bag of groceries cover How many people have found meaning, purpose, and pleasure in ministries that involve food—stacking and distributing boxes, bags, and cans, providing or hosting a meal to guests? Contributing to the annual letter carrier's food drive? If you've been there, done that, you'll enjoy reading about this ministry that began as a "small pantry start" at a rural church in Sewanee, Tennessee, and grew to a sizable enterprise, while always engaging each individual and each family as unique. I love how the people in each chapter come as alive on the pages as those in almost any novel! Finding God in a Bag of Groceries will resonate with anyone who has volunteered for municipal thanksgiving dinner. Folks who have gone with their church a day or two each month to help with lunch at St Vincent's, Salvation Army, or Father Ryan's. If you've helped out with federal commodities in the church gym or Nearby Christian Center.

Although Laura Willis barely references chapter or verse of scripture, her actions and words demonstrate a living sense of ways people who give food – and people who receive that essential stuff of creation – discover the presence of a gracious Creator in the Spirit-led disciples who minister food. She's not preachy at all, and freely admits the steepness of her own learning curve at some junctions along the way. Excellent choice for a church council, session, consistory, or vestry, for the board of directors at Nearby Christian Center to study and consider.

my amazon review: essential ministry

Friday, August 09, 2013

VBS 2013 day 5

Pictures from the last day, day 5 of Vacation Bible School at Church Around the Corner, "CAC." These open full-size in a new browser tab or window, "depending on your settings."

vbs 2013 names
vbs 2013 singing vbs 2013 cupcakes vbs 2013 wall sitting
vbs 2013 singing vbs 2013 sitting
vbs 2013 towels vbs 2013 markers outside
vbs 2013 friday towels vbs 2013 friday leaving vbs 2013 church sign

Thursday, August 08, 2013

VBS 2013 day 4

A few pictures in order of their happening at day 4 of Vacation Bible School at Church Around the Corner, "CAC." Just as with the other VBS pics, these open in a new browser tab or window.

vbs 2013 kingdom rock poster vbs 2013 under the tree
vbs 2013 bagels
vbs 2013 circle time vbs 2013 markers outside
vbs 2013 talking vbs 2013 tree outside vbs 2013 finale