Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Two weeks or more since my last post. I feel like a real slug. I know I have the excuse that it's been Christmas, but everyone has that excuse, so it really doesn't count. Part of the reason that I haven't written is that everything I can come up with is trivial, so who else would want to read about it, or so substantial that I don't have time to sit down and really think it out.

I've been going to therapy for carpal tunnel syndrom the last three weeks. There's this local physical therapist that seems to have come up with some kind of new treatment which seems to be pretty good. My doctor says that since she's been sending people to him she hasn't had to send a single person to surgery. I'm not a medical person, so I'm sure I don't know, but I do know that as soon as I started at his clinic most of my symptoms disappeared completely. So I'm pretty hopeful that I may get out of this thing without any cutting--always a good thing. Send me an e-mail if you want any more information about it.

That's pretty much it. Since I had to work something like 16 hours on Christmas Eve organizing the luminary candles for the church, I got Monday and today off. (The whole church staff did.) But, it's back to work tomorrow.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

I'm baaak. I have lots to talk about--a local Christian store censoring the Blind Boys of Alabama, the latest post from Sojourners, my son getting his first wrestling pin, my daughter getting elected Best Actress--lots. But I can't right now because I'm supposed to be cleaning house, comething I feel like I haven't done in a month. And, around this place, when I don't work, no one works so the place is a wreck. I just have to say that I did finish my final and turn it in, although it was probably the worst paper I've ever done in my life. And, even though I started working several days ahead, I still ended up doing most of it the last day. It was horrible. But it's done, and life goes on. In this case, (as it is in most cases) that's a good thing.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Kind of a wierd day. Check in day with the doc this morning to make sure the blood sugar is OK and then ended up talking about carpal tunnel most of the morning. Looks like I'm in for some hand therapy for the next two weeks or months. Fun.

I did get to release a book into the wild today. That's always a fun thing for me. It's a real rush when someone reports picking it up on the Bookcrossing website, so now I'l wait and see.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

OK. I'm feeling better now. I'm still discouraged, tired of my job, but I'm rested so I at least feel a little more able to cope. Thanks for your concern.

My next big challenge is my final paper for my Intro to Theology class. The last big paper I had, the mid-term, I put off until that morning and finally e-mailed it into the professor without even proofing it. (I still can't believe I did that.) I'm not going to do that with this paper. I'm not. So, even though I haven't started yet, I am going to start today. That gives me one week. I'm going to do this. Right? Right.

I think finals are the hardest not because they are the longest, but because at this point I don't care all that much any more. I still love the class, but all I really want is for it to be over. I'm tired of having this hanging over my head. I just want to be done so I can move on to Christmas or something. Of course, just give me a couple of weeks and I'll feel the same way about Christmas. What is there about us that always needs to move on? Is it because of our temporal natures? Why do we always want to move on? Is that with everything, or only when we get close to seeing the end of something? Is it universal, or just a Western thing? (Why am I so full of questions today? Maybe because it's easier than coming up with answers.) All I'm sure of is that I bet that I keep my blog entries up to date for the next week because that will give me an excuse not to work on my paper.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

I am so discouraged tonight. One would think that after 4 days away from my job and my kids (I'm a youth director) I would be happy to be back with them, but I'm not. This morning with the kids wasn't so bad--I won't talk about all my Sunday school teachers who didn't show up--but by this afternoon I didn't even want to be around the kids. Everything they did made me irritable. I can't see the potential anymore, it seems, just the annoying bits. I feel like a drill sergeant more than a minister and I know they feel it, too. I desperately need to be somewhere else, I just don't know where to be, where to go. But I do know that this is not fair to me or them. We both need and deserve better. If something doesn't change soon, I'll be damaging them, not helping them.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

OK. So the bad thing about Blog Explosion is that in reading all those other blogs makes me realize how disappointing--or at least boring it is to check in with a familiar blog and find out that nothing has changed since your last visit. Maybe that will make me be more consistent. The only problem is, I'm not sure that my life has that much blog-worthy material. Today let's just settle for some random thoughts:
--My daughter, who is going to college next fall got a scholarship for for $2000 a year for getting her ACT score up to 30. Weeha! Now that's something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
--My son, however, has 27 missing assignments in math. The crazy thing is, even with not turning in that much work, he is still carrying a C in that class. I guess that's more to be thankful for in a strange sort of way.
--I haven't been reading for fun much lately because of my job and my graduate class. But I need to get a novel going soon. I'm feeling a real itch to release another wild book. If you've never heard of a wild book release, check out a www.bookcrossing.com. It involves registering a book, labeling it, and then leaving it somewhere for someone else to pick up and, hopefully, register the catch. It's free, it's fun, and it gives you some kind of unaccountable rush to see it in action--kind of like what my friends who are into the Geocacheing thing must feel on their little treasure hunts. Does anyone else out there do wild book releases? Have you ever caught one? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of it.

Gotta run. Time to pick up the boy (the one with the math homework challenge) from wrestling practice.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

I am totally exhausted. Our youth group just finished doing 2 major fundraisers in 2 weeks. (Don't even ask about the calendar considerations that got them scheduled back to back.) My life has been totally put on hold for the last 2 weeks, so now I get to spend some time picking up the pieces--the first one of which will have to be catching up with my graduate class. Oh, and I guess I had better get something together for my son's birthday.

Actually, I have several amusing stories (read: rants) that I could share about some of my volunteers and parents, but won't because some of you know who I am. In fact, I'm seriously thinking about creating another blog just for my evil twin. Yea, I could do that. But then my respectable self/blog would probably die from neglect. Besides, if I give a voice to the evil twin, do you think it will grow stronger? (This is sounding really flaky now. I must be tireder than I thought.)

I think I'll just go to bed now, before I say something truly stupid.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Jim Wallis writes in the Sojourner Magazine newsletter:

A post-election poll conducted by Zogby International a few days later confirmed that when a list of specific issues was asked, the results were quite different. When asked which "moral issue most influenced your vote," 42% chose war in Iraq while 13% said abortion and 9% said same-sex marriage. The "most urgent moral problem in American culture" resulted in 33% selecting "greed and materialism," 31% "poverty and economic justice," 16% abortion, and 12% same-sex marriage. The "greatest threat to marriage" was identified as "infidelity" by 31%, "rising financial burdens" by 25%, and "same-sex marriage" by 22%. See the full Zogby poll

As always, things are much more nuanced than we are led to believe by the media and those who prefer to parrot sound bites than to think for themselves. What this whole debate is that there are vast numbers of moderate and progressive Christians who are horrified at the things done in the name of our religion, who don't support what's happening in our country and who didn't vote for Bush. And many, many of us live in Red States, but that doesn't define us.

For more on Sojourner's Magazine, check out their website at www.sojo.net.
OK. I can see how this new little 'pastime' of mine could easily take over my whole life--well, maybe not everthing, but you know what I mean. Yesterday, everytime I thought I would take a minute to post, I thought that first I would just surf 'for a few minutes.' Well, you all know what happened. 'Just one more click.' This is as addictive as a slot machine.

My other problem is now I've started looking at everything as blog fodder. I drive around musing about what witty, insightful or mundane things I should natter on about today. Nothing is sacred. My family and friends would be horrified. (Which is why only a select few know about this little spot of mine. Certainly no one, or almost no one, from my job will ever get the address from me.) The problem is, I toss around so many ideas that I can't settle on anything.

But, my friend came to the rescue with an e-mail she sent me for Very Good Looking Damn Smart Woman Day that included this motto:

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arrivingsafely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid insideways, chocolate in one hand, margarita in the other.

I like it, but it probably won't fit on a t-shirt.

Oh, and one final word for today. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to all the kind people who commented or e-mailed me your encouraging words about my little blog. I really appreciate you taking the time to do that. I would reply personally to all of you, but I haven't quite figured out how to do that yet. I'm still working on it. So, thanks again.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

I'm so excited. Someone has actually read my blog. Actually, thanks to Blogexposion (www.blogexplosion.com), several people have apparently surfed through here--I don't know if they read anything or not. But one person commented. A real live person! Woo hoo! Of course, now I'm all nervous about posting again. What if I let them down? What if they come back and decide I'm just boring? What should I say next? (Is this the blog equivalent of stage fright or just me freaking out?)

Oh well. It's cool to have readers, even if they think I'm boring. I've learned a lot about blogworld since I've been on Blogexplosion--mainly how many truly articulate people there are out there looking for an outlet, even if they just want to natter on about their day to day life. (Of course, this kind of makes sense since people who really struggle with writing will look for a different kind of outlet, duh!) I kind of like just randomly floating around blogworld checking out what's going on with other people. I just hope that blogs don't fade out like the old CB radion fad did. I would miss it. But I'll worry about that later.

Now I have to shut up--for 2 reasons. One is that I'm at work and need to be conscientious and all that. The other is that I still have a paper due for my theology class at 2:30 and I haven't even started yet (unless you count laying awake last night thinking.) So, I guess I had better get going.

BTW, if you have comments or suggestions, or just want to let me know that Blogexplosion sent you here, I would love to hear from you.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Steve Waldman in his On Belief on Beliefnet ("Perverted, God-Hating Frenchies vs. Inbred, Sex-Obsessed Yokels ") makes this statement:

On both sides, discourse now moves swiftly from disagreement into demonizing, from contrast to caricature. The worst motives are always assumed. Both camps have polemicists who win popularity, ratings, and book sales by devising ever more clever ways of ripping the eyelids off their opponents. We all know the visceral satisfactions of hanging out with our home-team blogs and watching the TV or radio stations that fit our worldview. Our politicians and pundits happily supply us with the voodoo dolls and the pins. But we'd be smarter not to use them.I’m not saying the conflicting values aren’t profound and important. But I am saying that if we choose to find the legitimate underpinnings of our ideological opponents' arguments, we can. It may not be as much fun, but it is more patriotic.

I think he's really on to something here. It seems that with more and more individual activity on the Internet and more and more targeting of the public media--radio, television, magazines, etc.--people only hear, much less listen to, folks that already agree with them. They only notice the home team. We have so many communications options these days that we don't have to hear anyone that doesn't already agree with us unless we want to. How can you learn that way? How can a person think? What how can they stretch their thinking or step back from their assumptions if all they expose themselves to only reinforces what they already think? Have we become a nation of cowards, afraid to hear anyone or anything that doesn't agree with us because they might say something worth considering? How sad that so many of us are so afraid or so lazy.

I agree that it's much more fun to go at our opponents with daggers and flame throwers. But at some point we have to listen to other ideas or we really will slip back into the Dark Ages that so many fear. Only this time it won't be because of a lack of education or opportunities, but from a lack of courage.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

I can't believe it's only been a week. It feels like much longer since my last post. So much has happened, but not much that I feel like talking about. The youth group at our church had their annual auction today and as youth director it has consumed most of my life for the last week. It actually went well, only a few hitches, but we really didn't make as much money as we have in the past. That, plus the usual post-event letdown and general fatigue from being up most of the night getting ready has left me a little bummed. Funny how so many big, or at least intense events, leave you with this big letdown afterward. It's like you always have to pay. Maybe that's just the way of life. For every good thing, or big thing, you always have to pay.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

I am so tired, I can just barely focus enough to type. Sundays are really hard when you're in church work. It's not at all unusual for me to have a 10-12 hour day on Sunday. Of course, having infinite flexibility for hours during the week kinda helps to balance it out. My problem is that that same infinite flexibility seems to mean that I'm free to work all the overtime I can squeeze in, whether it's a good idea or not.

Balance is just such a challenge in our lives today. The people I know who seemed the most balanced don't seem to be nearly driven enough to survive in today's society. I think I'm just pemanently warped. At least I'm not alone.

Oh well. I'm obviously rambling. I have homework and housework to do, but I don't think I'm really coherent enough to do anything. I expect that I would actually have to re-do it all tomorrow, so I think I'll give up and actually go to bed at a reasonable hour. What a concept.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

I'm finally coming back after the elections. I really didn't want to post before, during or after the elections because I was frankly scared about being too emotional on-line about the whole thing. I am truly disappointed, but not surprised abou the results--both nationally and locally. Bottom line, for me, is that obviously the majority of people in this country are not yet in enough pain to face the fear and pain involved in change. Unfortunately, I really think that they pain level is going to rise exponentially in the next 4 years. I just hope we all survive.

The good news was watching my daughter's excitement as she voted for the first time. I know several first-time voters, actually, and they were all really thrilled and a bit overwhelmed at the responsibility. And, even better news, several of their friends who couldn't vote yet were jealous. I hope this bodes well for us as we look to a new generation that may take their responsibilities as citizens more seriously that some generations have in the past. I just hope they don't get too jaded too quickly.

Monday, November 01, 2004

I've been doing a lot of knitting lately, making scarves for an upcoming craft fair. Not too long ago I was working on a new pattern--just developing it really--not sure where it was going or what it would look like, but letting it just come from my fingers. I asked my daughter what she thought of the new scarf, and she replied, "I don't know. I need to wait and see what it looks like when it's done. Right now I can't tell if it's supposed to look that way or if you just made a mistake." What an interesting perspective. Often in the pattern that God knits of our lives, we can't see the pattern yet either. Often it feels like a mistake. But as a designer, I know that there are never mistakes in a design, just new directions to go and new opportunities to take.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

OK. Nothing to say today, but I'm going to say it anyway because I am going to get regular about this.
  • I am totally burned out in my job (and since I'm a minister of sorts, that's a really bad thing). I desperately need a change, but no matter how hard I keep flailing around, I can't find a way out.
  • My daughter is getting ready to graduate high school and go to college and I am not ready. I think she is, but who really knows.
  • My 13-year old son is 8 inches taller than I am. How much influence can you have at that point?
  • My husband is stressing himself out to the point of physical damage. How can you help someone not kill themself the long way?

All this is so whiny. I obviously need to start thinking about something other than myself. But the coming elections are too terrifying to even contemplate. I don't know if I will be relieved or depressed when they are over--probably depressed since I always manage to vote for the loser, especially in a Presidential race. It's been hard, too, to watch my daughter think about voting for the 1st time in this election season. The campaigns have never been so nasty, the choices so narrow and depressing, individuals so hateful and intolerant. Whatever happened to civil discourse? Loyal opposition? Actually listening before (and after) you made up your mind. It's been very discouraging for her--and for me as well.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

This is the greatest election commentary that I've seen to date:
I just got this via e-mail and I think it's really good. I'm so tired of every friend or relative I've got feeling the need to blanket me with whatever sappy, ill-conceived or vicious political (and sometimes religious) propaganda that they've run across that it's a delight to get something valuable.

A new confession of Christby Jim Wallis Because of a deep and growing concern about an emerging "theology of war" in the White House, the increasingly frequent language of "righteous empire," and official claims of "divine appointment" for a nation and president in the "war" on terrorism, I have joined with several theologians and ethicists in writing the following statement. A climate in which violence is too easily accepted, and the roles of God, church, and nation too easily confused calls for a new "confession" of Christ. The statement names five key points of Jesus' teachings, while rejecting false teachings that nullify his message. It has been signed by more than 200 theologians and ethicists - many of them from theologically conservative seminaries and Christian colleges. We share it with you and ask that you send it to friends and present it to your churches if you resonate with its concerns and convictions.
Confessing Christ in a World of Violence

Our world is wracked with violence and war. But Jesus said: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God" (Matt. 5:9). Innocent people, at home and abroad, are increasingly threatened by terrorist attacks. But Jesus said: "Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you" (Matt. 5:44). These words, which have never been easy, seem all the more difficult today.

Nevertheless, a time comes when silence is betrayal. How many churches have heard sermons on these texts since the terrorist atrocities of September 11? Where is the serious debate about what it means to confess Christ in a world of violence? Does Christian "realism" mean resigning ourselves to an endless future of "pre-emptive wars"? Does it mean turning a blind eye to torture and massive civilian casualties? Does it mean acting out of fear and resentment rather than intelligence and restraint?

Faithfully confessing Christ is the church's task, and never more so than when its confession is co-opted by militarism and nationalism.
A "theology of war," emanating from the highest circles of American government, is seeping into our churches as well.
The language of "righteous empire" is employed with growing frequency.
The roles of God, church, and nation are confused by talk of an American "mission" and "divine appointment" to "rid the world of evil."
The security issues before our nation allow no easy solutions. No one has a monopoly on the truth. But a policy that rejects the wisdom of international consultation should not be baptized by religiosity. The danger today is political idolatry exacerbated by the politics of fear.

In this time of crisis, we need a new confession of Christ.

1. Jesus Christ, as attested in Holy Scripture, knows no national boundaries. Those who confess his name are found throughout the earth. Our allegiance to Christ takes priority over national identity. Whenever Christianity compromises with empire, the gospel of Christ is discredited.

We reject the false teaching that any nation-state can ever be described with the words, "the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it." These words, used in scripture, apply only to Christ. No political or religious leader has the right to twist them in the service of war.

2. Christ commits Christians to a strong presumption against war. The wanton destructiveness of modern warfare strengthens this obligation. Standing in the shadow of the Cross, Christians have a responsibility to count the cost, speak out for the victims, and explore every alternative before a nation goes to war. We are committed to international cooperation rather than unilateral policies.

We reject the false teaching that a war on terrorism takes precedence over ethical and legal norms. Some things ought never be done - torture, the deliberate bombing of civilians, the use of indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction - regardless of the consequences.

3. Christ commands us to see not only the splinter in our adversary's eye, but also the beam in our own. The distinction between good and evil does not run between one nation and another, or one group and another. It runs straight through every human heart.

We reject the false teaching that America is a "Christian nation," representing only virtue, while its adversaries are nothing but vicious. We reject the belief that America has nothing to repent of, even as we reject that it represents most of the world's evil. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

4. Christ shows us that enemy-love is the heart of the gospel. While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8, 10). We are to show love to our enemies even as we believe God in Christ has shown love to us and the whole world. Enemy-love does not mean capitulating to hostile agendas or domination. It does mean refusing to demonize any human being created in God's image.

We reject the false teaching that any human being can be defined as outside the law's protection. We reject the demonization of perceived enemies, which only paves the way to abuse; and we reject the mistreatment of prisoners, regardless of supposed benefits to their captors.

5. Christ teaches us that humility is the virtue befitting forgiven sinners. It tempers all political disagreements, and it allows that our own political perceptions, in a complex world, may be wrong.

We reject the false teaching that those who are not for the United States politically are against it or that those who fundamentally question American policies must be with the "evil-doers." Such crude distinctions, especially when used by Christians, are expressions of the Manichaean heresy, in which the world is divided into forces of absolute good and absolute evil.

The Lord Jesus Christ is either authoritative for Christians, or he is not. His Lordship cannot be set aside by any earthly power. His words may not be distorted for propagandistic purposes.

No nation-state may usurp the place of God. We believe that acknowledging these truths is indispensable for followers of Christ. We urge them to remember these principles in making their decisions as citizens. Peacemaking is central to our vocation in a troubled world where Christ is Lord.