I don’t know what I believe….

In light of atheism, etc! Here’s what I don’t know……

katyandtheword

When I worked at the Psychiatric Hospital as a chaplain, one of the things I would do as often as possible was a Spiritual Assessment: Basically to get a feel of someone, their faith, and how it may or may not support them.

 

 

One of the questions was “Do you feel hope?”

 

And more than once the answer I got was, “no, not really, maybe someday I will.”

 

i.e. I’m hoping for hope

 

To me, this is the essence of the Christian question….

 

When a father brings his son in Mark 9 to be healed, Jesus says he can only be healed by belief, and the father says “I believe, help my unbelief”

 

 

 

In PCUSA we have a great deal of rules and order. We have systemized theology so that we have a complete (well complete as humans get get) picture–we…

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Books that are not as well known(ish) but loved by me

Like Tamora Pierce, Kristen Cashore, Robin McKinley, Patricia C. Wrede, J. K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Peter S. Beagle, George McDonald, The Ordinary Princess, The Princess Bride, The Hobbit, Neverending Story, Serephina, Eona, etc. (for my traditional list see my ultimate fairy tale list)

Susan B. Dexter: Warhorse of Esdragon and Winter King’s Wars
Warhorse of Esdragon: heroes who find a magic horse that empowers them to be better! Winter King’s Wars: Reluctant Hero, falls in love, saves the world

Of Two Minds (Point Fantasy)Of Two Minds & More Minds by Carol Matas and Perry Nodelman: Prince who only lives in his mind, Princess who can make her imagination real, an arranged marriage, what’s not to love!

The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley: Sylvia is stuck in her story, and wants it to change. (SuperWhy for adults??)

Nobody’s Son by Sean Stewart: Young Man follows a fairy tale to marry a princess and discover how love defines you

Dave Duncan: A Tale of King’s Blades (The Gilded Chain, Lord of the Fire Lands, Sky of Swords, Paragon Lost, Impossible Odds, The Jaguar Knights): Parallel Worlds, Alternative Endings, all in a world of Three Musketeer + Magic…

The Seer and the SwordThe Seer & the Sword & The Healer’s Keep by Victoria Hanley: Landen is defeated by his enemy and vows revenge, but the princess is nice + secretly she’s a seer….

Claidi Journals (quartet) by Tanith Lee: Claidi finds a journal and starts an adventure outside her protected world

Wren (quartet): Sherwood Smith: Her best character, this magic girl saves the entire kingdom with her magic

To read about how I read fantasy theologically look at my post on the popular fantasy or my analysis of the best fairy tale ever Beauty and the Beast

Where is God???

 

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”

When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. –Matthew 2:1-12

 

When the wise men asked Herod where God was, they were not asking an idle or philosophical question. Instead they believed that Christ was present on earth, and were actively seeking his location. Today when we ask where God is, it tends to be a more philosophical question. Where is God when we feel alone? Where is Christ when tragedies happen to children in Connecticut? Where is the Holy Spirit when the catholic (world) church is so divided, and seems to split at the drop of a hat?

 

First, I don’t have an easy answer to these hard questions. What I do know is that God has a plan, and God’s plan does not include death, tragedy or violence. However, everything is not as good as God is, and God’s plan is not the one we hold primary in our lives (unfortunately). Secondly, if you are angry at God, then do so! God knows what to do with your anger. Did you know that 2/3rds of the Psalms are about being angry at God! (Note how we often assume that the anger is God’s–God is angry at us, or sinners, or other random people–maybe the problem is that we are angry with God and we cannot admit it…(for more on this watch the movie “Saved” see where one girl clocks another with the Bible…)

(Note the girl’s response is the hold the Bible and say “this is not a weapon” i.e. real love)

Life is unfair, and God created us, God allowed us to make choices and sometimes that hurts…

On the other hand, the only way to avoid hurt, is to stop loving, to stop caring about the people in our lives, the wars that don’t effect us and the children we didn’t get a chance to know. Grief, anger, sorrow, despondency, depression, emptiness—all of these feelings legitimize those relationships in our lives. They are real feelings, because the people we mourn were real people, and whether we are mourning the loss of someone through a death or a falling out, those relationships have meaning in our lives, and it is our privilege to feel complex and important feelings about the relationships.

 

Finally, it is important to remember that anger is energy, and the best thing to do with that anger is to channel it into something. If we (instead of debating guns for instance) focused all the anger and grief that we have from Sandy Hook into helping other children in unfortunate circumstances—those who suffer violence in their neighborhood everyday, or those who are stuck in the foster system with no way our, or those who live in poverty. Think of what we can do. Do you think Martin Luther was angry? How about Martin Luther King Jr. or Elizabeth Cady Stanton? They used those intense feelings appropriately. And our job is the same…to get off the tv, the internet and the office conversations. Remember Fred Rogers aka Mr. Rogers said that whenever a tragedy occurred on the news, his mother would remind him to not just look at the tragedy, but to note the helpers.

 

How many helpers are there in the world as compared to the sick and abusive? And can we be those helpers to. Where is God in all this? Part of the answer is that he is with us, showing us how to help.!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

Katy’s Ultimate Fairy Tale List

First off if you need to know anything about fairy tales I recommend references by Maria Tartar, Jack Zipes and www.surlalunfairytales.com, Jane Yolen is fairly good as well (although she is focused on feminist fairy tales)

Secondly, here are all of the fairy tale things I love

Please note that fairy tales are meant to be oral i.e rewrites are not only allowed, they are within the VERY essence of what makes up a fairy tale–so even bad fairy tales are valid

TV:

Disney: Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Tangled (although they are Disney-fied they are still valid)

Once Upon a Time (obviously),

Jim Henson’s StoryTeller

10th Kingdom (which is usually only about $15 to buy),

Fractured Fairy Tales in Rocky & Bullwinkle,

Nickelodeon’s Grimm Fairy Tale Classics, Fairy Tale Theater

Ever After (Go DaVinci)

Belle and La Bete (The Original French movie in Black and white)

Books

Golden Book of Fairy Tales http://www.amazon.com/Golden-Book-Fairy-Tales-Classics/dp/030717025X (my first love of fairy tales)

The Color Fairy Tale Books by Andrew Lang (of course), my second love fairy tales

Gateway books

Alice and the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Peter Pan by James Barrie

Wizard of Oz L. Frank Baum

so-called-adult-fairy-tales

“The Golden Ass” The last myth and the first fairy tale

“Fables” the comic book (precedes Once Upon a Time the TV show with some similarities)

Enchanted Forest Series & Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede

Deerskin, Beauty, Spindle’s End, Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley

Beast by Donna Jo Napoli (excellent)

Beastly by Alex Flinn (pretty good)

Zel by Donna Jo Napoli

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (so amazing and better than the movie)

Just Ella Margaret Peterson Haddix

The Godmother’s Apprentice by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (the sequels aren’t as good)

Five Hundred Kingdoms series by Mercedes Lackey (inconsistant, but fine)

Ash & Huntress by Malinda Lo

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Goose Chase by Patrice Kindl

A Well Timed Enchantment by Vivian Vande Velde

Other

Arthur Rackham’s Illustrations

Maxfield Parish’s Illustrations

Kingdom Hearts video games

Wicked “the musical”

Into the Woods “the musical”

Beauty and the Beast on Broadway

Non-angsty vampires…GO

If you want to talk eschatology a good post-apocalyptic book is the way to go. A great post-apocalyptic book about vampires is even better. In this book the vampires don’t angst (they are in fact rather nonemotional as compared to humans). And the adult–that’s right she is not a teenager–finds her life interrupted by vampires, and having to deal with the consequences. Like all Robin McKinley, this is a reread but the reasons why I love this book are (in no particular order)

1. The main character is an adult

2. Its not about happily ever after or tragedy, its about dealing with the problems in your life–the good, the bad and the ugly

3. The vampire casts a mirror on the human life and choices ultimately make up how “good” you are (remember this book was pre-Twilight so the whole vampires can be good thing was only started here)

4. There is absolutely no longing to become a vampire.

5. It deals very closely with how one human being confronts the end of her/the world!

6. The main character is a baker who loves sunlight (how non-angsty can you get!!)

Read it if you like Twilight, read it if you hate Twilight.

Next “No Man is an Island” I love reading good new books!

Being Christmassed

“That’s What Christmas is all about Charlie Brown” last night, in the face of tragedy, we put on Charlie Brown Christmas to 60 people. Many of them children: children who laughed at Snoopy, marvelled at Linus’ blanket, and tried to tell Charlie Brown where to get his tree “It’s over there!” It was a moment of innocence and hope. With all of Charlie Brown’s searching for hope it is ultimately understand Christmas “and the angels were singing Glory to God in the highest and on earth Peace and Goodwill toward Man.” Charlie Brown who is so often mistreated and depressed is able to be “Christmassed” (yes that is the verb for feeling the true meaning of Christmas–and it often sneaks up on you). And because Charlie Brown found hope in Christ, I did too…I also went through his hopelessness, his loneliness–ending in the sad, dead tree being alone on the stage. But, then the heavenly voice came down, then Angels started to sing about the glory of God. And when hope seemed to be God, the tree was resurrected, decorated and brought back in all of its glory. If a tree can be resurrected then surely brave teachers, small children here and in China can be too!

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers

Hopefully we too can be part of the helpers

What I read Now!!

My current comfort books definitely include the following

Dave Duncan “A Man of His Word” series: a faun and a princess, both journey halfway across the world, oh and there’s a whole world of new theology!!

Anne Bishop “Shalador Lady” and “Shalador Queen” plus the “Queen of Darkness” series–ok its dark, has lots of sexual whatevers, but I think the theology is amazing, the characters are real, the women are strong and yes it plays with the heaven and hell ideas, there is a STRONG idea of Call and how one fulfills it in life plus the writing is good. (plus the Shalador books totally talk about leadership with a session)

Sunshine by Robin McKinley–my love affair with Robin McKinley continues (Pegasus will probably joins this list as soon as she finishes it). Sunshine is vampires (no werewolves), mixed with a baker. Its totally my best friend Chloe and I combined into one character. Oh, and its post-apocalyptic. If you love Twilight, read it. If you hate Twilight, read it. Just read it, its amazing.

 

Ever notice that fantasy books do a really good job with sense of call! The heroes always feel called to do something, and they know its right and they pursue it no matter what!!

That’s What Christmas is All About…

In a devious plan to do ministry, I convinced my session to put forth the money to sponsor a performance of “Charlie Brown Christmas.” Although we are not the first church to do it as a show, we may be the first ones to do it as a Food Drive (maybe laying the groundwork for years to come?). We are taking in cans and donations for a food pantry

After much agonizing over the casting (ie I don’t know where the theater people live yet) we finally have a cast! Anyway we read through the play and are now working on character development (which is so totally THEOLOGY disguised as analysis HA)

We explored Charlie Brown’s search for the meaning of Christmas. Its not that he doesn’t know what Christmas is about, but that he can’t feel it alone…and in the lack of all his companions feeling it (ie commercialism) means that he has nowhere to grasp onto it.

For 3 years in seminary I worked at a Psychiatric Hospital. When I was there I did assessments, and during these assessments we would ask if the patient had hope (since hope helps recovery). Many patients said that they didn’t have hope….but they were hoping for it. Hoping for Hope! That is, what I think Charlie Brown is doing.

In fact, I believe that is why we need the church, to be a placeholder for those times we don’t feel hope or love or faith. If we don’t have the wherewithall to do it, the community does it for us until we are ready!

Anyway, if you notice, Charlie Brown is looking for that feeling. Watch Charlie Brown Christmas, where is the first place he goes after he confesses to his depression? That’s right smart people, his mailbox. He is searching for some kind of connection.

In fact, I think the reason why Charlie Brown agrees to direct the play is because Lucy tells him she would help him giving him some sense of direction…the problem being that even in the midst of the crowd, Charlie Brown is ignored, unnoticed and worst of all lonely

In fact, anyone who struggles with depression or is dealing with a loss knows that there is this kind of loneliness that can be felt in the crowd. Some churches are starting to hold “quiet Christmas” or “Blue Christmas” services for those people who don’t in fact enjoy the holidays, but want some place to be emotionally present in the season.

This is not just a problem for people who are in sad circumstances…In fact, in this day and age loneliness often looks like business–between social media and work running around like crazy we are all too busy for Christmas. This loneliness, however, is part of what Christ came to deal with. Christ came to be Emmanuel–God with us–so we would never have to be alone again.

It is only thru a personal connection fasciliated by the love of Christ (yes I’m talking about the famous “That’s what Christmas is all about speech”) followed by some quiet time of real contemplation (one might even call it prayer) that Charlie Brown is able to realize the meaning of Christmas.

The meaning of which was meaningless, until all of his friends connected with him as well!

And that, my friends, is what Christmas is all about

So if you are in the Albany, NY area Dec 14 & 15 @6pm and Dec 16 @4pm come down to New Covenant Presbyterian at 916 Western Ave–and share with us the true meaning of Christmas!

I firmly believ…

I firmly believe that humanity is no better or worse that it used to be….I think humans like to believe the myths of “human progress” or “the world ending” because its hard to find purpose if we aren’t running towards or away from something. Of course, what we should be running towards is God and what we should be running away from is evil. Also, we tend to look a “the world” from our own individual perceptive and judge it accordingly (when we’re up the world is better, when we’re down the world is ending) However, I think that we are human, we have ups, and downs. We have flaws and we have gifts. It may be easier to believe in a change, but I think that that truth is humanity will always remain human, and part of humanity is that need for relationship, the need for love in our lives.

Huffington Post article disappoints (takes fairy tales at face value)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-carl/once-upon-a-time_1_b_2214370.html?utm_hp_ref=books

and

and my comment for said article…

I agree fairy tales are important and told early. However, I feel it is flawed to say “who wants to hear the tale again.” The whole point of fairy tales is their oral nature (short, not many details so we are able to fill in). That’s why we tell the story over and over again. When we retell these stories we are doing what the genre begs us to do…so please don’t discount the power of the fairy tale

 

Sigh…seriously they are SO missing the point