Friday, July 26, 2013

keeping cool friday 5

Deb hosts today's 5 about keeping cool. She asks us simply to...

Tell us your favorite:

1. Cool treat
vanilla ice cream, or anything that includes vanilla ice cream: fruit or berry cobbler; cake; pie...
ice cream
2. Cool drink
iced tea and/or lemonade

3. Cooling-off place
The beach in the early morning, or – more realistically – late afternoon. When I lived in the Salt Lake Valley, driving up one of the canyons or going for a hike in Millcreek Canyon could be cool and cooling, too.

. Cool clothes
Shorts that aren't too short, or a short skirt, and a tank top. I always need to have a long-sleeved sweater with me.

5. Best alternative to air-conditioning
Sitting under an umbrella or canopy on the porch, patio, deck, balcony, or veranda when there is one; otherwise, going to the park and sitting under a tree. Sometimes, chillin' at the ballpark: major league, minor league, local league, little league.

Share a photo of your favorite hot weather "chill out" spot?
Why not this this one?

california day

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

desert spirit's fire is 11!

life stuff button

desert spirit's fire @ 11: part 1

Today is my 11-year blogoversary! Facebook friend Sasha posted this status a few days ago because she needed some ideas for a class assignment: "If someone asked you to put 7 items into a bag, that described a little bit about who you are; what items would you put into that bag?!" What a great writing prompt, and how appropriate for an anniversary post. My "little bit about who" I am is mostly about my creative endeavors and efforts (pictures later):
1 art supplies: sketch pad; markers; crayola crayons; pencils; an eraser; sharpies; triangles, ruler, french curves. 2 camera and (paper) calendar. 3 notebook with wide lines for journaling and other writing on one side only of each page; ballpoint pens in red, blue, and black. 4 a book to read; right now I have at least three by Brueggemann almost totally unread, so one of those will go into my backpack. 5 a bible, so I can check scripture references for writing, drawing, and designing—read and study some, too! 6 I realize this prompt is more about durable goods, but I need to include snacks: iced tea; sandwich; salad; a couple pieces of fruit. 7 a long-sleeved sweater or sweatshirt... being too cold is the only thing more miserable than being hungry.

desert spirit's fire @ 11: part 2

This week also is RevGalBlogPals' birthday, and they're hosting a carnival! Two questions:
1. What's your birthday tradition?
A great meal, preferably with friends or acquaintances; failing that, a yummy meal by myself. I also love to celebrate my baptismal birthday in a similar way.
2. If you were blowing out the RevGal birthday candles, what would you wish for us? What's your dream for RevGalBlogPals?
I'd love to meet a few RevGals IRL; I've noticed how much closer and how much more interested in each others blogs and other activities the gals and guys who've met each other are. In general, I'd like the blog itself and the ring activities to keep developing, changing, and evolving as they have.

desert spirit's fire @ 11: part 3

Finally, last Sunday afternoon, Tara at Praying on the Prairie inspired me to list ten current blessings:
1 Although I'm planning to move northward in a few months, for this interim, I've been trying to create my own 3-point parish. My first blessing is the church where I'm supply organist a couple times a month. They finally excitedly welcomed a new pastor after a long interim of about 2 years! 2 "CAC," aka "Church Around the Corner." 3 "COH," that's Church On the Hill... up the hill a piece from here. 4 My two kittehs, AlleyMalibu or AM, and Roxy. 5 I need to begin believing I'll be able to create a new normal. I am starting to believe I'll find a new normal of meaning and purpose. 6 An abundance of the fruit of the earth: good grub and refreshing drink. Local fresh berries, tomatoes, corn, peaches, nectarines, lettuce and more have been the best. 7 Eucharist every Sunday. 8 Given how sadly uncreative my writing and reflections have become (I'm thinking that will change once I have a real life again), I've especially been enjoying reviewing some books for The Speakeasy; I also appreciate being an amazon vine reviewer. I trust the authors appreciate it, too! 9 Tomorrow truly is another day. 10 My new phone—today I celebrated by finally getting a smarter phone. For about 30 seconds I actually considered going for an iPhone (MacFanatic here), but realized my very lightweight 14 MP Nikon has more photo, video, and sound capabilities than the iPhone, and I really don't need all those apps.

desert spirit's fire @ 11

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Coming Interspiritual Age

Legal note - "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this product for free from The Speakeasy 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.'"

Link Love:
The Coming Interspiritual Age by Kurt Johnson and David Robert Ord on amazon


on Facebook
The Coming Interspiritual Age coverWhat a wealth of information about secular history, about anthropology, about world and indigenous religions, about individuality, and about our common humanity this book contains! It includes enough material for a lifetime of study and learning, and as you read, you might find yourself remembering certain books, classes, and professors, or you might find yourself suddenly interested in a new-to-you concept or era. To help navigate, and to assist your future topical study, useful End Matter (don't you love that term?) includes:

• Appendix I, Synopsis of the Developmental Periods
• Appendix II, Magic-Mythic and Apocalyptic Views of 2012
• Appendix III, Interspiritual Multiplex Resource Website (please note: no "www")
• Bibliography of "Books and articles consulted or referred to in The Coming Interspiritual Age"

Authors Johnson and Ord tell us "Generally, the expression 'spiritual world' refers to the entire dimension of consciousness, including the 'spirit realm' or 'astral realm' referred to in virtually every religious tradition." [chapter 14] They remind us some religious styles and traditions are closer to "revealed';" others could better be described as "consciousness" religions, though each has elements of the other; both types are important and complement each other. The late Brother Wayne Teasdale insisted, "Everyone is a mystic." Everyone participates on some level in the mysteries of this world and worlds unknown. Beyond this planet earth, within this globe, in some wholly other ethereal realm? Maybe all of those.

From the start, the authors remind us of the ultimate non-dualism of the interdependence of all creation, despite most of us operating most of the time detached from the other than us. Ultimately, it's about our "primary interspirituality, shared consciousness and heart, right here, right now." [chapter 28] That fact partly explains why, to quote Ari Ariyaratne, "We who have been born Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, or any other faith can be very comfortable in each other's temples."[chapter 10] However, please be warned, interspirituality is not syncretism, not a blend or a blended religion. [chapter 18]

The Coming Interspiritual Age... "coming age?" That era is both here and now, and yet to come, very much in the sense of Jesus of Nazareth's earthly ministry and the eschatological lifestyle to which the Spirit summons and enables the present-day Church of Jesus Christ. We're moving into "...the collective―the world of 'We,' including all that's transcultural, transnational, trans-traditional, and world-centric." [chapter 23] Consider this book for a study group, as the basis of a university, community college, or continuing education course, possibly as a discussion document for an ecumenical or interfaith group. Outstanding!

my amazon review: Interdependent Spirituality

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Gospel Deeps

Gospel Deeps: Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus on amazon

Jared Wilson and /or the church he serves are affiliated in some way with:
The Resurgence

Gospel Alliance New England

• Jared Wilson pastors Middletown Springs Community Church in Vermont

and he has his own site:

Jared Wilson dot com
For what it's worth, Jared Wilson is from a theologically altogether more conservative background than I am. Complementarian gender roles in marriage, all-male church officers, a less sacramental worldview—these differences and others could become obstacles for me in some conversations. However, in this book, Pastor Wilson lines out, explains, and scripturally grounds the multifaceted depth, height and breadth of the person, position, and power of Jesus Christ in a manner virtually no Christian could dispute, and without once leaving a solid trinitarian perspective behind in the dust.

With easy-going prose, not many theological technicalities, and an easygoing conversational manner that truly makes me want to meet him in person, in fewer than 200 pages Wilson reminds those who've been absent from church for a while, those who've been attending Sunday and weekday worship faithfully, pastors who preach the gospel, how it's all about Jesus, because ultimately it's also about God's total loving claim upon all creation; I especially appreciated chapter 8, "Cosmic Redemption." A scripture index at the back is useful, also. Very definitely a very high recommend!

my amazon review: deep excellence

Friday, July 05, 2013

Independence Day 5

In the Spirit of 1776, today Pat R hosts Independence Day 5

In honor of the 237th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence [USA] ... we'll be looking at all kinds of "independence," so please join in!

july summer banner
1. How does one typically celebrate your native /adopted land's Big National Holiday?

I've lived in the US of A all my life, and since our BNH is in July, that almost always means hot summer everywhere. Picnics and barbecues at the beach or in the park are the most usual way to celebrate, with as much red, white, and blue as possible. Weather, humidity, and local ordinances permitting, a major fireworks display at the end of the day is a given. I love those kinds of familial and familiar celebrations, and I love how The Fourth of July spells Americana Summer.

2. How do you personally celebrate the holiday described in #1? Any unusual twists on the typical celebration? Is it something you enjoy or endure?

I always enjoy celebrating per the above description, but hanging out at home, and watching A Capitol Fourth on PBS works for me, too; that's what I did again this year.

life stuff button3. What does the word "independence" mean to you, whether in a political or personal mood? How has that understanding changed throughout your life?

You've got freedom, liberty, independence, each with its particular and peculiar subtleties. You have endless theological debates over human agency, free will, the bondage of the will, and grace—irresistible, prevenient, or other than either. Everyone one of us is interdependent all of the time, but for the sake of this Friday 5, I'll go with Janis Joplin's famous "Freedom's just another word for [almost] nothing left to lose," because that's [almost] what I'm sensing now, as I plan to uproot from this habitat within the next few months and take off for the semi-unknown everything and head northward.

4. When did you first feel that you, personally, had gained independence? Was there a 'rite of passage' you would like to share?

Just as for many people, I've experienced a series of minor events along the way: first apartment and my pride in being able to pay the rent every month; first vehicle I financed (though that was a bit scary, scary enough I paid off the note considerably ahead of time); first apartment lease I [co]signed; possibly first solo (as a passenger) flight, though I was 12 or 13, not remotely an adult. On some level I'm feeling freedom and relief that I'm independent and unattached in terms of significant otherness or a similar relationship, so it's my choice to pursue No. 3.

5. Tell us about your favorite "indie" film, music label, book store...

When I lived in Salt Lake City, I loved to visit Sam Weller's; apparently they moved to a nearby part of the city eighteen months ago, and it's now Weller Book Works, but they remain part of the literal indie bound network!

july summer avatar

Monday, July 01, 2013

Body & Soul: Reclaiming the Heidelberg Catechism

Body & Soul: Reclaiming the Heidelberg Catechism on amazon

With a 3,000-mile wide profusion of "church starts" along with older churches in the USA trying to reinvent themselves after a retail consumer model, how timely is this thoughtful, faithful, handbook by Princeton Theological Seminary's President M Craig Barnes! The front part offers real-life applications of the catechism's exposition of scripture, with full text of the Heidelberg Catechism, including scripture references, at the end.

from a decade ago internet conversation:

• participant 1: "You can't ask kids to memorize catechism these days―their fragile egos!"

• participant 2: "But catechisms are useful for bopping kids over the head!"

• participant 3: "How about bopping them over the head with the entire Book of Concord?"

• me: "In good UCC style, I'll bop them over the head with the Book of Concord and the Book of Confessions; that'll make a dent!"

Ya think so? Author Barnes explains the inspired genius, power, and place of the church's creeds, confessions, and catechisms; he describes a trio of conversational voices that emerges with: (1) scripture itself; (2) representative(s) of the faith community in the "contemporary context" of the church; (3) the catechism (or the confession or creed that's at hand) as a teacher of the Word. After all, in Churches of Reformation heritage, we affirm those documents as faithful expositions of scripture. Being grounded in the faith our ancestors in every place and time confessed and lived helps free us "...from the anxieties of the self-conscious life." [page 28] Our Holy Spirit-created individual faith "is always the common faith of the church." [page 58] High school age confirmands frequently write their own Statement of Faith, but as Barnes points out, how terrible it would be if some loner stood up in church, and rather than reciting one of the historic creeds or more recent corporate statements of faith, s/he announced, "I believe I will win the lottery this time." Creeds and catechisms shape each of us into the to-die-for faith and practice of two millennia, the trust in the Lordship, in the saving person and work of the crucified, risen, and ascended Jesus Christ, in the "Strong Name" of the Trinity.

Barnes reminds us how Yahweh gave the Ten Commandments to the nascent Israel after they left Egyptian slavery, while they were still journeying to promise-landed freedom. In the Reformation traditions – as well as in most Mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic churches – the assembly gathered around Word and Sacrament on a Sunday or Festival continues its baptized, eucharistic lifestyle when it returns to its weekday / workaday routine. Amidst temptations of idolatrous excesses and (apparently) innocuous diversions out there in the world that sometimes dares profane life and liberty, "the commandments teach us how to keep our freedom." [page 116]

Probably my fave part of Body & Soul is on pages 101-103, where the author tells about his city grandmother setting her dinner table with lace, linen, china, and candles in the dining room, his country grandmother serving country fare on a red-checked tablecloth in the kitchen, with manners, demeanor, and conversation around each table parallel to those settings. He says city grandmother would love how we often carefully set the Lord's Table with fine linen and silver, dress in our best, sit, stand, and sing at proper times. But, he says, even more of our Eucharistic theology is about the kind of joy and "sheer delight" found at his country grandmother's.

A few years ago I taught Book of Confessions in our Adult Sunday School Class, welcoming the opportunity to reread and rethink those essentials, if in not much more than basic outline form. And yes, a decade after that conversation, I'm willing to bop a few kids over the head and suggest they learn the content of the Heidelberg, Luther's Small, or another catechism. I am ready to stand at the front, back, side, or any other door of a few nearby "new" and "reinventing" churches trying to ingratiate themselves to church-shopping consumers. Every one of us needs to know the faith we have inherited, the ecumenical creeds all Christians share, the catechisms and historically-conditioned confessions. What better way to begin than by reading M Craig Barnes easily readable, not very long, yet very convincing Body & Soul: Reclaiming the Heidelberg Catechism?

my amazon review: my only comfort, our only comfort in life and in death