Sunday, March 30, 2008

The wool of a black sheep is just as warm

"I always try to keep faith in my doubts, Sister Margaretha." - Reverend Mother, Sound of Music

Today Girl Intern Abby did a GREAT job of leading us in a discussion of what it means to have doubt and is it really a bad thing. The passage for the 2nd Sunday of Easter is the story that has come to be known as "Doubting Thomas," but that is probably a bit harsh. The community was very chatty today and there were a lot of really good points made about what it means to doubt and what Thomas' situation really looked like. Some of the things said were:
  • While Jesus did say, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe," he didn't say, "Cursed are those who have not seen and who do not believe."
  • Thomas questioned the disciples but they had already seen Jesus and before they saw Jesus they weren't exactly paragons of faith
  • Doubt is what puts people on the faith journey, so bring it on!
  • The story of Thomas has been used by the church to discourage people from asking questions by demonizing doubt
  • Thomas was being rational, not necessarily disbelieving
The folks were really chatty today, in a good way. A ton of prayer requests, too. There's a lot going on in the world. Apparently the price of rice has doubled? Who knew? Let's change that!

Bruce was out today on a much-needed family break, and so what was great about today was that our community was so responsive to Abby. It really showed how much they've grown to care about her and accept another voice in the "pulpit" (music stand, more accurately). I also had a great time singing with Megan - such a great girl. Say a prayer for her grandmother, Doris, who is having surgery tomorrow.

Interesting that doubt would be the topic during a week when I have greater certainty about many things. More later...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Movie Meme

Movie Meme "borrowed" from Random Laundry. Here goes:


Bold the movies you've seen; italicize the ones you've seen part of:

1. The Godfather (1972)
2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
3. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
4. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)
5. Pulp Fiction (1994)
6. Schindler’s List (1993)
7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
8.The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
9. Casablanca (1942)
10. Seven Samurai (1954)
11. Star Wars (1977)
12. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

13. 12 Angry Men (1957)
14. Rear Window (1954)
15. Goodfellas (1990)
16. Cidade de Deus (2002) [City of God]
17. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
18. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
19. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
20. The Usual Suspects (1995)
21. Psycho (1960)
22. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) 23. Fight Club (1999)
24. Citizen Kane (1941)
25. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
26. North by Northwest (1959)
27. Memento (2000)
28. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

29. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
30. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
31. The Matrix (1999)
32. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
33. There Will Be Blood (2007)
34. Se7en (1995)
35. Apocalypse Now (1979)

36. Taxi Driver (1976)
37. American Beauty (1999)
38. Léon (1994)
39. Vertigo (1958)
40. Amelie (2001)
41. American History X (1998)
42. No Country for Old Men (2007)
43. The Departed (2006)
44. Paths of Glory (1957)
45. M (1931)
46. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
47. Chinatown (1974)
48. The Third Man (1949)
49. Leben der Anderen, Das (2006) [The Lives of Others]
50. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
51. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

52. Alien (1979)
53. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
54. Laberinto del fauno, El (2006) [Pan's Labyrinth]
55. The Shining (1980)
56. Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2001) Spirited Away
57. The Pianist (2002)
58. Double Indemnity (1944)
59. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
60. Forrest Gump (1994)
61. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
62. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
63. L.A. Confidential (1997)

64. Boot, Das (1981)
65. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
66. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

67. Untergang, Der (2004)
68. Aliens (1986)
69. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
70. Raging Bull (1980)
71. Metropolis (1927)
72. Rashômon (1950)
73. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
74. Modern Times (1936)
75. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
76. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
77. Sin City (2005)
78. Rebecca (1940)
79. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
80. Sjunde inseglet, Det (1957)
81. All About Eve (1950)
82. Some Like It Hot (1959)
83. City Lights (1931)
84. Amadeus (1984)
85. Vita è bella, La (1997)
86. On the Waterfront (1954)
87. The Great Escape (1963)
88. Touch of Evil (1958)
89. The Prestige (2006)
90. The Elephant Man (1980)
91. Jaws (1975)
92. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
93. The Sting (1973)
94. Nuovo cinema Paradiso (1988)
95. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
96. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
97. The Apartment (1960)
98. Braveheart (1995)
99. Blade Runner (1982)
100. The Great Dictator (1940)
101. Strangers on a Train (1951)
102. Batman Begins (2005)
103. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
104. Ladri di biciclette (1948) Bicycle Thieves
105. Salaire de la peur, Le (1953) Wages of Fear
106. High Noon (1952)
107. Ran (1985)
108. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
109. The Big Sleep (1946)
110. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
111. Notorious (1946)
112. Back to the Future (1985)
113. Fargo (1996)
114. Oldboy (2003)
115. Unforgiven (1992)
116. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
117. Donnie Darko (2001)
118. Ratatouille (2007)
119. Mononoke-hime (1997)
120. Cool Hand Luke (1967)
121. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
122. Yojimbo (1961)
123. Per qualche dollaro in più (1965)
124. The Green Mile (1999)
125. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
126. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
127. Notti di Cabiria, Le (1957)
128. Gladiator (2000)
129. Battaglia di Algeri, La (1966) The Battle of Algiers.
130. Annie Hall (1977)
131. Die Hard (1988)
132. Into the Wild (2007)
133. Ben-Hur (1959)
134. The Deer Hunter (1978)
135. The Sixth Sense (1999)
136. It Happened One Night (1934)
137. The General (1927)
138. Platoon (1986)
139. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
140. Life of Brian (1979)
141. The Killing (1956)
142. Smultronstället (1957) Wild Strawberries
143. Amores perros (2000) Love's a B'tch
144. Finding Nemo (2003)
145. Diaboliques, Les (1955)
146. The Incredibles (2004)
147. V for Vendetta (2005)
148. The Wild Bunch (1969)
149. Heat (1995)
150. Children of Men (2006)
151. Brief Encounter (1945)
152. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
153. Juno (2007)
154. The Princess Bride (1987)
155. 8½ (1963)
156. The Graduate (1967)
157. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
158. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
159. The Night of the Hunter (1955)
160. The Big Lebowski (1998) Dude.
161. Crash (2004)
162. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
163. Stand by Me (1986)
164. Gandhi (1982)
165. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
166. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
167. Snatch. (2000)
168. Harvey (1950)
169. Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
170. The African Queen (1951)
171. Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
172. The Thing (1982)
173. Trainspotting (1996)
174. Gone with the Wind (1939)
175. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
176. Wo hu cang long (2000) Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
177. Belle et la bête, La (1946)
178. The Gold Rush (1925)
179. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
180. Groundhog Day (1993)
181. The Conversation (1974)
182. American Gangster (2007)
183. Scarface (1983)
184. Patton (1970)
185. Duck Soup (1933)
186. Toy Story (1995)
187. Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922)

188. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
189. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
190. The Terminator (1984)
191. Cabinet des Dr. Caligari., Das (1920)
192. Sleuth (1972)
193. The Hustler (1961)
194. Umberto D. (1952)
195. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
196. Stalker (1979)
197. Glory (1989)
198. Ed Wood (1994)
199. King Kong (1933)
200. Grindhouse (2007)
201. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
202. The Exorcist (1973)
203. The Lion King (1994)
204. Hotaru no haka (1988)
205. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
206. Spartacus (1960)
207. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
208. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
209. The Lost Weekend (1945)
210. Stalag 17 (1953)
211. Magnolia (1999)
212. The Lady Vanishes (1938)
213. Lola rennt (1998) Run Lola Run
214. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
215. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
216. Frankenstein (1931)
217. Out of the Past (1947)
218. Big Fish (2003)
219. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
220. Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
221. Casino (1995)
222. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
223. Toy Story 2 (1999)
224. Mystic River (2003)
225. Du rififi chez les hommes (1955)
226. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
227. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
228. Hot Fuzz (2007)
229. A Christmas Story (1983)
230. Ikiru (1952)
231. Mou gaan dou (2002)
232. Manhattan (1979)
233. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
234. Young Frankenstein (1974)
235. Dial M for Murder (1954)
236. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
237. Rope (1948)
238. Once (2006)
239. Roman Holiday (1953)
240. Quatre cents coups, Les (1959) The 400 Blows
241. The Searchers (1956)
242. In Cold Blood (1967)
243. Ying xiong (2002)
244. His Girl Friday (1940)
245. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
246. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

247. Samouraï, Le (1967)
248. Strada, La (1954)
249. Harold and Maude (1971)

250. Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972) Aguire, The Wrath of God

Million Dollar Friday Five

There appears to be a resurgence of the old daytime staple--the quiz show. Except they are on during prime time, and a great many of them offer the chance of winning one million dollars.

I think it started with Regis Philbin and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" but now we have a half dozen or so.

This week's Friday Five is the One Million Dollar Question. It's simple. What are five things you would want to do with a million dollar deposit in your bank account?

1. Start an orphan care ministry in Bungoma, Kenya
2. Travel to Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia and Fiji
3. Put a chunk away for my niece & nephew's college fund
4. Spend about 6 months schelpping around Europe
5. Spend another 6 months traveling in North, Central and South America

There's a trend. Pick up on it?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Open-source Homiletics

My next time up to preach @ MBCC is on May 11th. That date may ring some bells because not only is it Mother's Day, but it's also Pentecost. Last year, Pentecost fell on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. Seems as though the Holy Spirit is tired of so much attention and is hiding behind Hallmark and we-have-the-day-off-but-don't-know-why holidays. Nice try, but I'm on to you, Spirit! As mentioned in an earlier post, my sermon title is, "Your Mother is On Fire." My plan is to talk about the role of the Spirit as an encourager and nurturer, the birth of the church, etc. I'm planning to work in some info on my favorite Hebrew word, ruach, which means "compassion" but comes from the word for "womb."

However - I'm also looking from some insights from my readers. Do you have a favorite painting, poem, quote, thought, song, book, whatever, on the Holy Spirit? I'd love to hear it and when I'm all done, I'll post the manuscript and show you where your input was incorporated. Thanks!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Quiz of FOUR Proportions, from AZ

This is from my friend AZ - she sent it as an e-mail, but I'm blogging it, just to save time - consider yourself tagged - link to your blog in the comments.

A) FOUR PLACES I GO OVER AND OVER:
1. Folsom & Embarcadero
2. 1040 Mariposa
3. Phoenix, AZ
4. Target

B) FOUR OF MY FAVORITE PLACES TO EAT:
1. Naan & Curry
2. My house - I'm a good cook
3. Ponzu
4. Crepevine

C) FOUR PLACES I WOULD RATHER BE RIGHT NOW:
1. Italy
2. Paris
3. New York
4. London

D) TV SHOWS I WATCH OVER AND OVER:
1. Heroes
2. Grey's Anatomy
3. Lost
4. Project Runway

E) FOUR CAUSES ABOUT WHICH I AM PASSIONATE
1. HIV/AIDS Orphans in Africa
2. Empowering women in developing countries
3. The church as an advocate for the less fortunate
4. Education as an answer to most every issue

F) FOUR BOOKS (or authors) I REALLY ENJOYED READING
1. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaleen Hosseini
2. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
3. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
4. The Life You've Always Wanted by John Ortberg

G) FOUR THINGS THAT REALLY ANNOY ME
1. Being stared at
2. Laziness
3. Stupidity
4. Repetitive (esp. high-pitched) sounds
H) FOUR THINGS I LOVE TO DO ON A WARM, SUNNY DAY
1. Walk
2. Read in the park
3. Go to the beach
4. Walk around downtown
I) FOUR COLORS I LOVE
1. Deep blue, almost navy
2. Aubergine
3. Apple Green
4. soft Pink

J) FOUR TASTES I LOVE
1. Yellow curry
2. Sweet & Savory
3. Tomatoes
4. Lemon & Capers

K) FOUR SOUNDS I LOVE
1. Foghorns
2. My niece saying anything
3. Rain - when I can stay home
4. Good British accents

Easter Highlights

Nice weekend overall. I finally regained the ability to walk today after that pilates reformer situation. Wow. I was hobbling about like an elderly woman for a while. Saturday and Sunday were absolutely beautiful - warm, sunny, gorgeous. This weekend has included some great times with friends, church, relaxation, and life maintenance - overall, a good one.

Here are some highlights:
  • The aforementioned weather
  • Giggling with baby Simona at church
  • Trader Joe's with Kenny
  • The beach with AZ, KT, Ty & Kenny
  • The peppermint fudge brownies I made - yikes, they're good.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kissing some Presbyterian Meme

Some DORK actually developed a meme specifically for Presbyterian Church (USA) folks. So, only to not crush his geeky little ego, and since he's the boss of me, I guess I'll participate.

The rules are pretty basic

  • in about 25 words each, answer the following five questions;
  • tag five presbyterian bloggers and send them a note to let them know they were tagged;
  • be sure to link or send a trackback to this post;

presbyMEME 5

  1. What is your earliest memory of being distinctly Presbyterian?
    Here's the thing. I'm not Presbyterian. I'm only doing this so I don't get fired. If I ever feel distinctly Presbyterian, however, you'll be the first to know. I did go here in college - does that help?
  2. On what issue/question should the PC(USA) spend LESS energy and time?
    I think all denominations need to get out of self-preservation mode. They're all on the decline - get over it. Stop trying to save yourselves and realize that the only way to be first is to be last.
  3. On what issue/question should the PC(USA) spend MORE energy and time?
    I would like to see any denomination that has the resources that the PC(USA) has spend them on how they can truly bring the Kingdom of God to this world, feeing the poor, healing the sick, bringing value to those whom society has cast out.
  4. If you could have the PC(USA) focus on one passage of scripture for a entire year, what would it be? John 15:1-8 1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

    5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

  5. If the PC(USA) were an animal what would it be and why?
    Is ostrich with their head in the sand too harsh?
Extra Credit: Jesus shows up at General Assembly this year, what does he say to the Presbyterian Church (USA)?

Jesus doesn't go to meetings. He told me.

Tagging 5 Presbyterian bloggers....Hmmm...Ok. Kind of don't know 5 Presbyterian Bloggers. I know Ladyburg. She can do it. Who else? Hmmm... I know Presbyterians and I know Bloggers, but I don't know Presbyterian Bloggers. Do you see my dilemma? I'll try Cheesehead, although I don't know for sure if she's Presbyterian or not. Yeah, I'm out. If you're a Presbyterian, though, and you read this, consider yourself tagged.

It pays to sit next to the folks in Loss Prevention

Today I took a little lunch break to stimulate the economy over at our Flag Ship Store. Not too much, mind you - I'm being careful about that, but just a couple of things I actually did need. One of the items was a pair of brown dress pants that were on a pretty deep sale. As I left the store, I set off the alarm, but no one stopped me and I assumed that they forgot to desensitize one of the soft tags, because that's what we're using now in almost all of our clothes. When I got back to the office I was transferring my items from one bag to another and I noticed that there was one of those actual plastic sensors on the leg of my pants. Blast! Fortunately for me, I'm two cubes down from the on-site rep for that company and she had the thing to take the sensor off my pants. Another good day at the Khaki Khonglomerate.

PS - I went up to this "Tea" thing we had to celebrate a new brand store opening in London and totally unwittingly cut in a huge line and grabbed some shortbread. Yikes - sorry!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Wikipedia Wormhole

Does anyone else do this? I suppose I am giving away my lack of interwebs savvy, but one of my favorite things to do is to go to Wikipedia and look up stuff, like films, actors, authors, cities, etc. This evening, after I watched All About Eve on TCM, I decided to look it up and after using my FAVE Firefox add-on, the Cool Iris, to look up several of the cast members and director, I was led to German actresses, writers, and after reading the tragic life story of Peter Lewellyn Davies, I ended up at Huntington's Disease. Just me?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Five Time Change

Our first week of Daylight savings is under our belts and with an early Easter Season, time seems to be moving very quickly. This week's Friday Five from RevGals is one centered on time:

1. If you could travel to any historical time period, which would it be, and why?

Probably the antebellum through Reconstruction South - fascinating time in history.

2. What futuristic/science fiction development would you most like to see?

Jet packs

3. Which do you enjoy more: remembering the past, or dreaming for the future?

I'm a dream for the future girl.

4. What do you find most memorable about this year's Lent?

The conversations with God and the centered feeling of intentionally taking time to meditate each day

5. How will you spend your time during this upcoming Holy Week? What part do you look forward to most?

More of the same, really - reading, meditation. I have grand plans for various services around the city but I don't know if those will happen or not.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ever wonder where they keep the most incompetent people in the world?

Never fear, I have found them and the good news is that they're keeping them all in one place. CPS Human Resources is the home of the World's Most Incompetent People, rivaling the DMV and the Post Office for worst customer service rating.

I had the great privilege of spending today, my one year anniversary at the Khaki Khonglomerate, becoming a Notary Public - well, beginning the process at least. After spending a soul-killing 6 hours in a "class" with Harris, a seasoned notary who has encountered every kind of notarizing anomaly and has handled them all with ethical adroitness befitting the office. We finished the course at four and our class of well over 100 was put in the hands of the folks at CPS for the purposes of proctoring our 30-question exam. The room-clearing and registration process took an infuriating hour and twenty minutes because of their bumbling, shuffling, disorganized incompetence. There were only 3 people there to handle our group, and they claimed that 2 of them didn't show. Not. Our. Problem.

It would be fine spiritual remuneration for me to have not passed because of my serious case of test rage, but it was truly awful and if in another 4 years when my commission expires and I have to do the whole thing over again, I may just quit.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Off the Radar

This weekend was chill and wonderful and I went off the radar and enjoyed some relaxing me time. I get one of these Saturdays about 4 times a year, so I cherish them when they come aroud. I've decided that henceforth, unless absolutely necessary, I will no longer make plans for Friday nights. I don't like to be obligated to go anywhere after a week of working and other events. I am tired. I want to chill and clean out the DVR, so - memo to my adoring fans: Friday nights are MINE!

Saturday was errands, cleaning and laundry. Sunday was church, baking and a Law & Order marathon. Tonight the Lilster is coming up from LA and we'll have a girls night watching our favorite '80s comedy, Big Business.

I absolutely revel in these weekends of solitude and leisurly-paced life tending. Based on some of my conversations with God this Lenten season, I feel that I won't always have these little luxuries. This is a year of change for me, to what extent I only have a small hint.

As I languished this morning in my time change fog, I was reveling in my weekend and reading my daily Lenten meditaiton from Small Surrenders and the last sentence hit me - Is my heart open to God's transforming love? Mmmm...maybe. For years I have said yes to that question, with a clear view toward being formed in the image of Christ and a desire to deepen my relationship with God. Now, as God is asking me to stretch my definition of transforming love, I'm finding myself in a place of trepidation. As I don't know what this is going to bring or change, I'm realizing that it's not as easy to surrender now as it has been in times past and I'm working on digging deeper into those issues. Suffice it to say I am trying to enjoy the time I have and be open to what may come. Spring forward.

Monday, March 03, 2008

MUNI Etiquette Question

Let's say you're on the N Judah coming home from work in the evening. You're lucky enough to have a seat, because you get on before most of the thundering herds. As more and more people crowd on there are several who are standing directly in front of you - in close proximity to your face. When, if at all, is it appropriate for you to tell the gentleman in front of you that his fly is open?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Reactions to the Weekend

Last weekend I was in Portland, OR, for the Women's Convergence meeting and I've been processing my thoughts about the event since. I'm still not sure that I'm done with that, but here are my thoughts so far:

1. First, let me begin by saying that I met some freaking awesome women. Beth and Traci made it all worth it. I loved Angie from The Bridge. I didn't get her e-mail, so if any of you have her info, please send it on. Thanks. There was definitely a desire to worship and serve God, and there was an emphasis on actively showing the love of God by serving the poor and marginalized.

2. It was very generationally diverse, but not at all ethnically diverse. That surprised me, given that Oregon isn't exactly a haven of white power. I was really grateful, however, for the perspectives of the older women there and to see how they resonated with what could be considered a "younger" model of ministry and worship. Many times, the ethnically diverse groups are of the same generation - hopefully some day we can find a way to achieve both. The one African-American woman there, Donna (need her e-mail too) commented on the various shades of white, which was pretty funny.

3. For me - and this is only for me - there is a fine line between supporting someone in their pain and assisting someone in marinating in their pain. At some points, I feel the line was crossed. Yes, we need a safe place to express our pain and feel supported and encouraged. For me, that's in a one-on-one relationship like spiritual direction or therapy. There were times at this event when it seemed like some of the women had been holding in all their issue for the express purpose of vomiting them out in public at this event. It made me feel sorry for them that they don't have any sort of outlet in their regular life and I hope they took advantage of the spiritual direction sessions that were offered. Also, many of these women already knew each other and I was really the outsider, so this may very well be part of their normal gatherings.

4. I was also not into being asked to focus on rejection during communion. Actually, no - that's not what communion is about for me. Jesus was rejected by people but that really wasn't the purpose for his death. And, because of God's grace, I've moved to a place of healing from my rejection and don't need to keep coming back to it. I would prefer to celebrate the redemption of inequality and the supportive people (especially men) who we have in our lives rather than the idiots who try to keep us from expressing who we are.

5. I can be inspired by the life of a woman who did not grow up in a dung heap. We heard a lot of stories about women around the world who have beaten horrific odds or who are still in the midst of difficult circumstances and have survived and even triumphed.* The stories that were the best were of the women from around the world, particularly Africa, who live in a constant state of ebullient hope, regardless of circumstances. At camps, retreats, and other religious gatherings there is a phenomenon called "Top That Testimony." Not unlike other competitive sports, it involves trying to top the levels of debauchery displayed in the previous stories to show how merciful God is as to have brought the person out of it. I am not suggesting in any way that the stories we heard were fabricated. I am suggesting that stories don't need to contain the most extreme poverty, abuse, violence, etc., to be inspiring. Here's the thing - if "inspiration" means "God-breathed," and we are all the temples of the Holy Spirit, or "breath of God," then all of our stories are inspiring, no?

*at the end of each story we were asked to place a bead on a piece of wire and make a bracelet that would remind us of the women. Whatever. My kingdom for a women's even that doesn't have you make anything.