My God, Your God, let’s call the whole thing off

Ok, recently there was an article in The Atlantic about the state of religion in America. Some salient quotes include

“They found that young non-Christians have profoundly negative views of Christians. For instance, among 16- to 29-year-old non-Christians, Christians were viewed as “anti-gay” (91 percent), judgmental (87 percent), hypocritical (85 percent), sheltered (78 percent) and—surprise—”too political” (75 percent). In 2010, respected academics David Campbell and Robert Putnam’s landmark book, American Grace, concluded that partisan politics was directly to blame for the rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans. “The growth of the nones,” Campbell argued, “is a direct reaction to the intermingling of religion and politics in the United States.”http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/02/the-changing-face-of-christian-politics/283859/?utm_content=bufferd0f38&utm_source=twitter.com
and the one that is about where I am “the sudden need to make clear that they were “not that kind of Christian.” Pastors increasingly found that a partisan politics was pushing people away from faith and causing tension among those in their churches. ”

Recently I posted something about Christianity on “The Facebook”. It was an article by someone who said they wanted to be Christian, because most of the world is Christian and it is high-handed to assume the world is wrong. (It sounded a little….um….condescending in tone)

Anyway, I posted it on FB because, it was interesting/good food for thought (despite the tone). I did that usual pull a quote from the article to highlight it thing.

Unfortunately, some people (who granted I hadn’t talked to in a while) thought I was the one who was being condescending…I got some comments basically amounting to “I know your religious, but I think this whole God thing is ridiculous–and this article shows why” subtext: I can’t believe how crazy you are.

It made me sad. I mean, granted that the quote looked like it was from me, but still, they THOUGHT I WAS THAT WAY TOO!

I’m religious, I love God, I have three children, I’m only 30….

Yet I am also an intelligent, fantasy-loving feminist, who believes in LGBTQ rights.

I think I can do all of it at once, and I dream of the day when I find other people who feel the same way I do.

So far, not so much….

Haven’t really found them…

I have found a lot of “you can’t be a real pastor because you are a. a woman b. don’t condemn people to hell”

and a lot of “Oh your religious, right, can’t take that seriously so….moving on”

To “Fantasy isn’t religious, your crazy”

don’t forget “church is boring”

and finally “Religious people are the cause of all wars, and if your religious it MUST be because your a bigot”

The thing is, my God isn’t really the same as most people’s God

and it makes people uncomfortable.

Here’s how I feel about religious beliefs

1. Every relationship with God is different, maybe yours doesn’t look like mine, but thats ok…

2. Atheism is ok. In reality I don’t “get it” so its hard for me to be more than “ok” with it, but I think “ok” is pretty good, and more importantly, pretty honest, and I try not to get worried about it, because its up to that person/God to work it out, not me.

3. If your peddling hate and call it Gospel, that is where I draw the line. It hurts me, I mean actually physically gives me a stomach ache, when people purvey hate and call it Christ’s way. How can anyone even think this is beyond me…Jesus Christ hung out with the NONRELIGIOUS and AMORAL people of the time, because Jesus loves everyone, if you can’t get that, I don’t think we can really converse about beliefs

4. I’m not sure I can believe in a God that would send Gandhi to hell……seriously, that is how it is for me

5. And finally, If/When I face God I would MUCH rather get in trouble for Leaving the door way too wide open than too closed. I’d rather be in trouble for letting the wrong people into God’s house than keeping the right ones out. 

So that’s my God, it might different than yours…but I don’t see how denigrating each other can help……

besides, think of all the good we could do if we could band together against those things that all humans agree are wrong….

And if it happens in church, that would be awesome, because that happens to be where I like to go….

Good Deeds

Good Deeds

“If you run now, without a moment’s rest, you will still be in time to warn King Lune.”
Shasta’s heart fainted at these words for he felt he had no strength left. And he writhed inside at what seemed the cruelty and unfairness of the demand. He had not yet learned that if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one. But all he said out loud was:
“Where is the King?”
The Hermit turned and pointed with his staff. “Look,” he said. “There is another gate, right opposite to the one you entered by. Open it and go straight ahead: always straight ahead, over level or steep, over smooth or rough, over dry or wet. I know by my art that you will find King Lune straight ahead. But run, run: always run.”

YAY The Horse and His Boy is my FAVORITE NARNIA BOOK!!!!

General Service Announcement

General Service Announcement

“This is a general service Announcements reminding everybody that the best treatment for dementors is CHOCOLATE…in light of the sad events in Boston, in my professional and pastoral opinion I recommend CHOCOLATE for everybody” (Should you be someone who is unable to do chocolate, Cookies may be substituted). Chocolate may not fix our sadness, but it reminds us of the good that does exist in the world and encourages to act out of love not fear.

PS Check out today’s Lectionary Reading from the Bible–remember the opposite of love is not hate but fear, hate grows out of fear
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”
1st John

What if the Good Samaritan was really conflicted…????

You know what, “helping” people isn’t always as clear cut as it seems. There seems to be no real way to be a “hero” in bad situations so often you are making the best decisions that you can (you know those times when there is no “right” thing to do or say, you just try to make better instead of worse decisions). Some of those choices are fun like “Should we have children?” for (most) people there isn’t a “right” answer, its just that one solution seems to be “better” than the other…

Then there are the situations where you are helping people. In helping people, its important that you are

a. actually helping (in my family we say it isn’t really helping if a person doesn’t want help–think about that in terms of life, family, addiction, etc.)

b. Setting clear and consistent boundaries (ie making sure you take on a good level of responsibility and that the other person is clear on where their responsibilities lie)

c. You can be sane after the help is given, because sanity is a really, really good thing.

This leads me to the good Samaritan story. What if the person who was left half-dead on the street had some situation where it wasn’t clear that helping him was the best thing to do…maybe it gets the helper into trouble, maybe there had been a story of someone helping a half-dead person earlier that week and getting beat up for it. What if the Good Samaritan knew he would be reviled for helping this Jew. (I think this is something like Jean Val Jean helping Javert, or maybe a Gay person-who is known to be gay-helping Rush Limbah or somesuch evangelical who categorically hated homosexuality)…

So much for being a hero, heh?

But it makes me wonder about Jesus’ call to care for our neighbors, when are we really helping them? How much are we called to sacrifice? What situations are “too much” and when are we neglecting our Godly duty to help others by crossing the street and getting on with the business of our own lives, which already loom so heavy…….

When your heart is breaking….

Yesterday my heart broke….It was a difficult day with sad decisions and a good look at how temptation effects our lives….

Isn’t it interesting how it is easier to believe and remember evil than good? (for more on Good and Evil look here)

If you preach a sermon 90% about gospel and 10% about sin, most people remember the sin portion.

Why is evil so much easier to connect with? I think some of this has to do with our insecurity. Ted talk The Power of Vulnerability tackles this issue with storyteller/researcher Brene Brown.

In fact a lot of people I know don’t believe in Hell (Christians obviously included)…

So why then are the “less happy” endings more believable??? Why is it that “truth is hard” is the “real world” mantra

I don’t think life is shit and we struggle through it the best we can. I don’t think life is brutish, nasty, short. I think there is MORE than that.

But when my heart breaks, when difficult decisions are made, when people don’t show love and care towards one another, when people-hate-the-sin-not-the-sinner, when they fall back on smile-Jesus-Loves-you, when they use religion (as the TED video says) to provide answers instead of exploring faith), when people struggle with addiction, when parents don’t take good care of their children….

When these things happen, when its clear that the world is not perfect because of our self doubt, it is important to remember Jesus made us and loves us exactly the way we are…

Jesus believes that we are equipped, as those made in God’s image and as co-creators, to spread the good news…

https://i0.wp.com/radiofreebabylon.com/RFB%20Images/CoffeeWithJesus/coffeewithjesus500.jpg

How do we know this? Because Jesus spent time as one of us. Jesus went to the desert and endured the Devil telling Jesus …you are not good enough, you are not a success, you can’t help in God’s work, you need (food, drink, success, fame) Me, the devil, to get there…Matthew 4:8-10 (Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”). And Jesus says, no, the way is through love and God, its through knowing myself as an intricate, important and beloved part of God’s plan and I don’t need to be perfect/in control/married/successful/rich to do that…I just need to be grounded and centered on God (Matthew 4:10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.) Take that evil. Yes, evil exists, yes life is difficult, no I don’t think we have to accept the chains of temptation, we don’t have value our “Success” the way the world does. Instead we can depend on God (we don’t need to dull the pain or even control it), we can know Christ has been there, understands that we stumble and loves that about us, because we are stumbling on his path, we are doing the best we can, and we are created in his image. We participate in Lent, so that we can participate more fully in Easter–we participate in Lent, because its a part of life, but we also participate in it so we can acknowledge that EASTER wins!!! All the time, everytime (even during Lent, Easter creeps through on Sundays!!!) Easter like Christmas, needs to be lived (see my post on Being Christmassed for more)

comic

Please note: I discuss heartbreak and difficulty as a tangible part of life (for more look at Anne Lamott’s thoughts here)

BUT: The Good news has written the ending for us, and we can Participate in God’s Celebration…we don’t have to just watch or hum along to God’s Concert–we can party and scream all the words<<——–THIS IS THE MESSAGE, try to remember this, don’t walk away already forgetting the good news

Good News: Jesus is the Savior

Better News; So you don’t have to be (subtext you get to help!!)

So the hard decisions were made, I am continuing to pray, to live into hope, to put into practice God’s love and care and to trust that my participation although it feels small is important and that the love I show has had meaning…and really knowing that heals my heart even as its broken (just as God heals are brokenness in a broken world)…I wonder if this is how Christ feels when he makes loving and difficult decisions on our behalf…Good news JESUS is the savior….Jesus loves ALL of us, no matter what. Amen.

Review “A Wrinkle in Time: the Graphic Novel” Adapted & Illustrated by Hope Larson (and written by Madeline L’Engle)

I am a total fangirl of Madeline L’Engle, she is most likely my favorite self-named Christian Fantasy author (as opposed to Lewis or Tolkien or the like)…so A Wrinkle in Time I bought with my oft hoarded holiday gift cards.

so when my 4 and a 1/2 year old son saw The Invention of Hugo Cabret on the floor and was fascinated by the fact that grownup books can have pictures. Immediately I t

600 × 230 – hardcoversandheroines.com

old him some adult books are entirely pictures, they are called graphic novels, and I showed him A Wrinkle in Time. He then asked if we could read it.

1600 × 902 – yafictionbookreviews.blogspot.com
499 × 329 – stoppingoffplace.blogspot.com

I’m a “Why not?” parent, and said “well we can try…” uncertain of its quality, his interest and our schedule (reading a chapter a night is a big commitment)

Bulletpoints of A Wrinkle in Time

1. The pictures were totally used to “fill in” the story. I have an ongoing theory that all remakes of classics (Oz, Narnia, Lord of the Rings) tend to be better if they were done by children who grew up with the tale, because reading things as adults–we just don’t connect the same way, and we tend to put our own values and systems on instead of exploring the world that is presented (Harry Potter comes to mind, the first movie the director said re: Dumbledore’s Office “what was fun was we could do whatever we wanted, and create it from scratch…um…excuse me isn’t there a perfectly perfect BOOK to refer to argh, a guess that’s another post for another day.) Hope Larson definitely got the world, genre, passion and feel for L’engle’s tale

2. This is what I always pictured a “graphic novel” to be, its a real novel, told in graphics (comic books are great, but they always sound shorter to me). At 383 pages and multiple panels a page (1-10panels) the story is given the breadth, width and depth to be a deep telling of the truth that is in the books

3. She gets stars: Stars are a L’Engle thing, Larson, totally uses it, bonus points galore.

4. My four and a half year old was entranced, wondering when they would finally get to rescue first Meg’s father and then Charles Wallace…He was very disciplined about the one chapter thing, telling me it was “so exciting” to wait til the next day (like me he’s a sick person who enjoys delayed gratification–this makes us really great readers, we will willingly believe whatever you tell us because we like not knowing the real answer)

5. When we finished the book, Franklin (my son) wanted to know if we could pa-lease-read-it-starting-at-the-beginning-tomorrow-night-RIGHT? (needless to say we went a reserved the graphic novel of The Hobbit at the library ASAP)

Katy’s Review 4 out of 4 stars

Franklin’s Review 60 out of 4 stars

PS: The story of love’s triumph over nothingness is amazing, and I can only pray that Hope Larson has been engaged for A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and not someone else–because, hey, I trust her….She was able to show me Aunt Beast, Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Whatsit without messing with their alien/mysterious natures!!!

Other pictorial interpretations of Wrinkle in time

1024 × 570 – warlord-of-noodles.deviantart.com
718 × 1023 – ebay.com

762 × 1048 – nastasiarocks.deviantart.com

400 × 279 – bookiewoogie.blogspot.com

356 × 500 – thisrecording.wordpress.com

180 × 229 – wanderingeducators.com
158 × 224 – sfpl.org

A True Story

A teacher and a nurse are left with a faltering church. The teacher is practical and into appearances and the nurse is into rule following and order. Both women help to run the church for 40+ years. In all probability should either of them not have been there the church probably no longer exists.

Neither woman likes the other (in fact there are rumors of the women’s mother’s hating each other), but they are there the two pillars of the church. In walks a policeman. The policeman is new, and yet he gets to irritate both the teacher and the nurse. The teacher hates how he wants to lay out everything in rules, the nurse hates that the policeman likes to always be right.

A new pastor walks in and insists that God wants all these people to be a church.

The people all wrangle, manipulate, yell and complain.

But the pastor says that God put everyone in this church for a reason.

Much more goggosomen,grumblings murmuring and mutterings occured (See John 6:35-51 about goggosomen)

Then the pastor insisted that the church continue to be a church

Then an argument broke out, it might have been between the policeman and the teacher, or the teacher and the nurse or any combination of said participants.

Words were said, aggression became passive for some and active for others.

And in the end the pastor looked at her scripture, threw out her sermon and preached on the Golden Rule in light of the fight that had taken place not ten min before service.

Jesus commands us to love God, anyone who has loved a person with depression, addiction or bad days knows that love is hard work. Happily Ever After is just the beginning of the commitment.

That is what we are doing here as a church–we are vowing to be together forever, to love no matter what and to work on our relationships.

Who here doesn’t have relationships they need to work on? Church is a place to work on those through the empowering and life-changing love that is personified in Jesus Christ.

And every Sunday, every time we gather, whenever two or three gather in Christ’s name–the tone should be that of a wedding, for we are renewing and living out our vow…

The story doesn’t end happily ever after–because the church is too busy, too busy renewing their vows, working together and attempting to love one another no matter what.

Because whether or not the church needs us, or whether or not the God needs us…

The church wants us, and God wants us….God wants to love us, God wants us to reflect that love unto the world so that our entire being is changing…..

And that is something the pastor will avow to till the end of her time!

Image

(funny thing, all these professions are public sector jobs, note the above comic portrays a teacher, a policeman and a nurse)

Deuteronomy 6:4-94Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. 7Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 8Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, 9and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

 

 

Mark 12:28-34

28One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; 33and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ —this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question

Me: “Who does Westley (m…

Me: “Who does Westley (my 2yr old) say hi to?”
Congregation: “Everybody”
Me: In fact he’s quite militant about it. If you say hi once, you are doomed to continue to say hi to him all day!

Best synopsis of my sermon about welcome today. Text: Mark 9:30-37

30They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” 32But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

33Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”