Friday, April 25, 2008

An Old v. Modern (Postmodern?) Friday Five


This week I had a conversation with my dad and he is very excited about a DVD teaching series that his church is using called The Truth Project. He loves it, and that's great. I will confess that I can't look past the fact that it comes from Focus on the Family (of which I am no fan) and see what, if any, benefits it might have, particularly given its rigid definitions of "truth" and "worldview" and the equating of "postmodern" with heresy. I find it ironic that the modern perspective has decided that all that is of their generation is good, whereas the postmodern generation looks back even further to gain context. But whatever. That's another post. I know that my dad is an intelligent guy and he'll listen but will also question and he and I can probably have some good conversations about it, so there you go.
So then today comes our Friday Five challenge - modern conveniences and generational transition. It's bumpy territory, but territory that we can navigate with grace and compassion, if we so choose.
As for the questions!
1. What modern convenience/invention could you absolutely, positively not live without.
Many of them, for I am, what some would call "high maintenance" (though I prefer the word "specific"). They are, in no particular order:
  • Telephone
  • Television
  • Hairdryer
  • Microwave
  • Washer/Dryer (more specifically, the guy who comes to get my laundry and brings it back to me clean)
  • iPod
  • Dishwasher
  • Computer
  • Scanner
  • Electricity
  • DVR - favorite of all time - changed my life
  • Cars
2. What modern convenience/invention do you wish had never seen the light of day?Why?
I'm not opposed to the cell phone, per se, but what was unfortunate for our planet was the rapid proliferation of cell phones without the development of proper cell phone etiquette. It seems as though people somehow believe that if they're on the phone they are invisible and inaudible, and that is just not the case. People have the most private conversations in the most public places. What's more, they obliviously give out very personal information very loudly and then are stunned by the incidents of identity theft. Cell phones are great for parents, single people on road trips, relationship maintenance, doing business, but dude - the world is not your phone booth.
3. Do you own a music-playing device older than a CD player? More than one? If so, do you use it (them)?
I do not. In fact, I don't own a dedicated CD player. My computer and I think my DVD player play CDs, and I do have a CD player in the car, but these days I'm all iPod.
4. Do you find the rapid change in our world exciting, scary, a mix...or something else?
I'm all about it. I was born in the early 1970s so I have only known rapid change and I'm one who tends to go with the flow on that issue.
5. What did our forebears have that we have lost and you'd like to regain? Bonus points if you have a suggestion of how to begin that process.
There was a book that came out about 15 years ago called Margin and I think that it pretty much sums it up. It was not the "In my day..." rant of a grumpy senior citizen, but rather the contemplative melancholy of a wise doctor who has seen a change in his patients over a lifetime. I think that we have lost the ability to breathe, step back, relax, contemplate, and be. Just because the world moves quickly doesn't mean we're at the mercy of its current. We are humans with the ability to make decisions and build lives and relationships. We have to make the conscious decision to be fully human which means acting and not reacting, carving out time and space for others of the species and take time to do good.
The only way I know how to start that process is just to do it. I know it can be a scary thing, but seriously, start by sittiting still for 10 seconds and build it up. It can make a world of difference and bring you back in touch with what it means to be created in the image of God.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Delightfully Overheard

Setting: Shopping at Giant Flagship with co-worker Stasha, poring over a table of fitted dress shirts. Skinny Corporate Wannabe comes gliding by while talking on her cell phone in her best Valley Girl:

Skinny Corporate Wannabe: "That could make you, like, SO powerful!"

Stasha: Clearly she's talking about spinach. What else could it be?


Setting: Park near Chloe's house, Dad and Chloe walking together in the grass.

Chloe: Hey, Papa

Papa: Yes, sweetie?

Chloe: Did you know that elephants are sometimes called pachyderms?

Papa: Umm....yeah....

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Five - 24 Hours

Yesterday Revhrod had the 24 hour flu. She had been told by the people who had it first that it really was a twenty-four hour bug. And so while she dealt with all the blech of the flu, she kept reminding herself that morning would come and she would feel a lot better.

This is certainly a strange way to start out a Friday Five but it made me think about what I might like to do if I knew it would only last for 24 hours. There are no reality boundaries to these imaginings. So here are the five things for you to consider...

1. If you could dramatically change your physical appearance for 24 hours, what would you do?

I think I'd become a man, just to see what it's like and to see how I'd be treated differently.

2. If you could live in another place for 24 hours where would you go?

"Someplace warm, where the beer flows like wine, and beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano....ASPEN" (bonus points if you can guess the movie)

Seriously, probably anywhere that it's culturally appropriate to take naps.

3. You get to do somebody else's job for a day...

I'd like to try being a personal shopper, I think.

4. Spend the day with another person from anywhere in time and space...

I'd like to go back a few generations and spend time with my Mennonite family in Prussia and see what their lives were like, particularly the women.

5. A magical power is yours. Which one would you pick?

Definitely flying

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Horton

Hey Folks - Tomorrow night our Spirituality & Film group from MBCC will be converging upon the Metreon to see the 8:00 showing of Horton Hears a Who. We'll meet in the Food Court at 7, hang, then see the film. Afterward, we'll have coffee/dessert and discuss some of the spiritual themes in the film. No need to be an MBCCer to go - just come on and enjoy a fun flick!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

John Adams

This weekend I took some time for myself to relax and recuperate from some work drama this week (note to readers and self: if I wanted to deal with communication breakdowns and emotional interactions, I would get married) and part of that time was starting my recorded but yet-to-be watched mini-series John Adams on HBO. I was always a big history geek - well, let's face it - no need to use the past tense - I am a big history geek. I really dig American history, particularly the Revolutionary War period, the antebellum south and World War II era diplomacy issues. Geeking out just thinking about it. I knew, then, that obviously I would enjoy John Adams so I set the DVR to record but I wasn't feeling compelled to watch it. I sort of slogged through part one. It gave good background info and I've seen both the A&E Biography of John Adams and Founding Brothers. (That's right - you heard me. I've seen them both. Shut up.) However, I didn't necessarily find part one terribly compelling. Not one to give up easily, I went ahead and went for part two and this one really made the series come alive for me, and I'm really looking forward to working through the rest of the seven-part series.

Paul Giamatti plays John Adams with a doughy churlishness befitting the second president. He is obnoxious and not well-liked, a fact of which he is aware, but does not mind, until he is met with the great diplomat Ben Franklin, played with quirky sparkle by the inimitable Tom Wilkinson. Wilkinson lights up the screen with his frankly humble, but wryly shrewd Franklin and makes me wish that we could expect a follow-up series with him in the title role. The wise and witty Abigail Adams is played with characteristic brilliance by the great Laura Linney. For me, a great performance from the perennial Oscar-nominee is a foregone conclusion, and Linney does not disappoint. The other founders look as though they've just stepped off the currency printing plates of our various bills, David Morse with his prosthetic nose and wooden teeth and Stephen Dillane as a finely featured Jefferson. Morse serpentines gingerly over the line between reserved and stoic and 2-dimensional and boring - my jury is still out on his performance. Dillane's Jefferson is a stark contrast to Sam Neill's offering in Sally Hemmings.

It's a great thing to take speeches and correspondence from nearly 2-and-a-half centuries ago and make them come alive enough to appeal to a post-modern audience. The beauty of this series is its relevance to today. Adams was considered guilty of a blind hope for wanting independence from tyranny. Sound familiar?

Live-Blogging Church


11:10 - We always start a bit late. We use a countdown program that counts down 5 minutes and is supposed to start at 11, but whatever. It all works out.

11:11 - The band leads "You Are Worthy of My Praise." Bruce is explaining what we're doing. We're in a series on Creation - our place in the world. Last week we looked at Genesis 1 and this week it's Genesis 2. As part of that we're offering people some options for expressing their own creativity. We have tables all over with clay, pipe cleaners, legos, and painting. There are some folks live-blogging as well, which is what I'm about here. I'll share my thoughts as I have them.

11:17 - We're doing announcements and apparently we're doing a membership class called "Exploring your Inner Bobblehead." This is what happens when I miss a staff meeting.

11:26 - Confession. I proofread it, so hopefully I didn't miss anything.

11:27 - I didn't. Whew.

11:28 - forgiveness and passing the peace. We don't usually do it and I really wish we did. Usually we do the confession and move on. Sometimes it feels like, "You suck. Now think about how much you suck. Now here's the scripture." I'm into the whole absolution thing.

Scripture: Genesis 1:16 - 2 & Gen 2:15 - 25

11:33 - Beginning sermon. Here's how I'll do this: our sermons are interactive, so I'll type up Bruce's main points and some of the comments and answers given and then I'll italicize my own thoughts.

Since the scripture is the "rib story" so we'll see how this goes.
Bruce is talking about the moderator race and asking what it means to have a church for the future and what do we need to change today. Just because we paint and use legos in church doesn't mean we are immune from getting stuck in tradition.

Understanding that God is in the midst of people that I don't like should transform the way we interact with people. He said more stuff, but that one is important for me. I tend to see people I don't like or those with whom I disagree and not necessarily see God in them. I think they're evil.

So, we're at the Rib story. How do we respond to it?
1. It's poetic. Mystery of God...yada yada
2. See - this is equality or see, they're different

Why are there two stories?
- one is general, one is detail
- large sections added later
- different traditions
- strand theory - strands of writings - JEDP, basically

What can we get out of the 2nd creation story?
- God doesn't want people to be alone, building of community, community has purpose
- domination, if man came first, man rules over everything, including woman
- God saved the best for last
- mutually complementary relationship
- what does it say to our relationships as we move out of our family's homes

Read alone and interpreted on its own without looking at the whole of scripture is dangerous. We have to look at the breadth of scripture and the character of God to interpret all passages.
Basically, Bruce took the road of broadening the view and asking what we can do to expand our view to honor the presence of God in all creation. I'm glad he did that rather than focus on the gender issue, because it's easy to get focused on that small stuff and I appreciate him taking it out and making it bigger. At the same time he's pushing us out of our comfort zone and encouraging us to see outside our own walls.

12:02 - Sermon and discussion over. The band leads "Hear Our Praises" - one of my favorite Hillsongs and really fits with the theme. At this point we also give our offerings and have some time for reflection.

Here's my reflection:
Going back to the creation stories in scripture and the way people interpret them - I grew up going to Christian schools and was taught a literal interpretation of Creation, young earth, etc. We had very conservative textbooks from Pensacola, where they grow the crazy. As I grew and developed my own hermeneutic, I stopped caring about whether or not the story was metaphorical or literal. The bottom line is that we weren't there and to focus so completely on that is a distraction from the gospel. I would much rather see it as a reflection of the character of God than a literal description of the beginning of the world.

I believe God is capable of creating the world in 6 literal 24-hour time periods, or of directing an evolutionary process over centuries. Who cares? The bottom line is that while I believe that God directed the creation process but I don't know how God did it, and I'm ok with that.

My favorite interpretation of the Creation story is from Phyllis Trible as she looks at the literary structure of Genesis 1. There is a parallel structure where God separates air from water, air from land and water from land and then fills them with heavenly bodies, fish and birds, plants and animals, and then humans. The idea is that God is all about taking things that are empty and filling them with joyful, abundant life. That tells me about God's character and how God works in the world and I'm happy to have that view of the story rather than a view that restricts the interpretation to actual creation.

12:07 - Community prayers. We've had a lot of people have illness, death and tragedy lately and it's made our prayer times heavy, but really lovely as we carry burdens for each other.

12:12 - We close with the prayer that has been progressively written on a white board today during our service as part of our creative activities. People have come up and written a line as they felt led during the service.

12:13 - we are closing with "You Are So Good to Me." Also a fave.

Thanks for being with me during the live blog. Here are some photos of the service:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Me Meme

My Indiana Friend Beth, whom I met in Portland tagged me for this meme. As a narcissist, it appealed to me on many levels, so I went with it.

here are the rules:

a. post the rules at the beginning.

b. answer the questions about yourself.

c. tag 5 people you know and let them know in their blog comments that you tagged them so they can participate.

here are the questions:

1. what was i doing 10 years ago?

I was living in Phoenix working for my dad and working at a local church as the Children's Arts Coordinator. A month later I'd accept an opportunity and hastily move to California and end up in San Francisco where I remain.

2. snacks i enjoy

Peanut butter on apples, cucumbers and tomatoes with lots of salt, pita chips

3. five things on my to-do list today

1) Count my points for Fat Camp

2) Print out my tax returns

3) Take Anni to the airport

4) File some paperwork at home

5) Change the sheets on my bed

4. things i would do if i became a billionaire

I'd pay off my parents' and brother's debts, give a chunk to the babies for their college funds, travel, fund an orphan care program in Kenya

5. three bad habits

  • procrastinating
  • over-analyzing
  • leaving clothes everywhere

5. five places i have lived

Phoenix, AZ, St. Davids, PA, San Francisco, CA, Mill Valley, CA, Flagstaff, AZ

6. jobs i have had:

Baskin Robbins

Family business - print shop

Circulation Supervisor in a theology library

Music Teacher

Office Manager

Children's Ministry Coordinator

7. things people don’t know about me (well, some people do):

  • I had a 1989 V8 Mustang fastback my senior year in high school
  • I have been in most of the contiguous 48 states
  • I have an irrational love for Bruce Boxleitner
  • My only childhood scar is a large dent in my right butt cheek from falling out of a tree at the age of 6 and landing on a tree root that was sticking out of the ground
  • I've had Dallas Willard's home phone number in my cell phone since 2001 and can't bring myself to delete it (but I've never used it - he called me for a conference I was coordinating, long story)
  • I eat with my fingers a lot more than I should
  • My jammies have to match - top and bottom - or I can't sleep
If you read this, consider yourself tagged!

Olympic Torch Psych

As the world knows, the Olympic Torch made its only North American stop in San Francisco on Wednesday. My building is right on the torch route and we had a bird's eye view from our 5th floor offices that face out onto the Embarcadero. When it was obvious that both the pro-China and pro-Tibet factions had been duped by the clever Olympic committee and SF Police, they left the scene and caught up with the torch runners and their security detail at Lombard & Van Ness. I am mystified as to why such a controversial Olympic host country would choose San Francisco to visit. Granted, we have a very high Asian population, but hello - protest capital of the world. Whatever. Here are my pictures of the scene on Wednesday as seen from our offices. It also features our view - jealous much?



Monday, April 07, 2008

Reflections on the Wiikend

This weekend was a flurry of activity with a good balance of moments of rest. It was really great to connect with friends, share great meals, and generally enjoy the time. Here are the highlights:

Friday
  • Dinner and hanging out with Lara. We made a great dinner of seared tuna and salmon, steamed broccoli and salad - delicious.
  • I played the Wii for the first time - created a Mii and everything. I played bowling and some Super Mario Universe game. I was never so much with the video games even when they first came out and we had Atari and Colecovision at our house, but this was kind of a good time.
  • I payed TEN DOLLARS for two pints of Ben & Jerry's. Damn you corner store - damn you!

Saturday

  • Slept in and enjoyed a delicious breakfast. I love a lazy Saturday AM breakfast. My routine is to eat breakfast while watching The Soup from the night before. Joel McHale is the funniest person alive.
  • Went to the Annie Leibovitz exhibit at the Legion of Honor. Photography is my favorite medium because I really love the realism of it and no one captures people in both natural and staged situations like Annie.
  • Got a facial. I have the best facial lady in the free world. More than once I woke myself up by snoring during the process. So don't care though - it was fabulous.
  • I had dinner and hung out with AZ. We had french bread pizzas and caesar salad and chocolate chip raspberry fruit bars for dessert.
  • After dinner we watched The Last King of Scotland. Well-deserved Oscar, Forrest! You played the crazy better that Jack in Cuckoo's Nest.

Sunday

  • Church in the morning, which was great. We had a great crowd there - only 6 fewer people than Easter - and that was with some regulars being out. I'll write more on our current series on Creation later.
  • Steering Committee Meeting. I have no power - I just have to sit there, so therefore, I will say nothing.
  • I had some time to chill in the afternoon and watched the season finale of New Adventures of Old Christine. That show is absolutely brilliant.
  • Sunday evening I attended a performance of Caroline, or Change in Mountain View. Such a fantastic show - more of a folk pop opera than a musical. One scene in particular was toward the end when Caroline recognized the need for change inside herself, both to benefit her and her children, and it is set in such a way that echoes the scene from Gone With the Wind when Scarlet vows to never be hungry again. In this case, however, it was a woman dealing with internal demons rather than external, and pleading with God to change her and submitting to God's leadership, rather than telling God what God should do. It was very moving and all the performances were excellent.

That's all, but that's a lot. As you might imagine I'm dragging a bit today, but it was all worth it. Good times.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Touch My Monkey*


I have a new favorite brand of shoes - Naughty Monkey. They are ridiculously cute and fun - maybe not for every day but certainly for many of them. I was first alerted to the brand by a co-worker who purchased this same shoe, but in a nude color. Then Pink Shoes wore another pair for Easter. Today I ordered my first pair - shown above. My next pair is shown below - LOVE THEM!!!




*I went to high school in the 80s. It couldn't be helped