Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Children Learn what they see

(I gotta vote "creepy")

Now I don't quite know why this creeps me out as much as it does - but this is an example of how children learn to worship.  I guess they don't have a video of a darling little cherub learning the Kyrie...but this is why children need to be in the pew not in the nursery or in "children's church"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Carribean Black Bean and Pumpkin Soup

I found this recipe on the internet and made it tonight.  At first, I thought it tasted strange but the more I ate it, the more I liked it.  There are a lot of versions of this....

Here's the way I made it. 

1 onion, chopped coarsely
1 acorn squash peeled and chopped
1 Buttercup squash, peeled and chopped
1 granny smith apple, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 jalapeno, sliced 

toss all the above ingredients with salt, pepper and a little butter and olive oil in a pan.  Roast at 375 for about an hour.   Puree the entire mixture together.  Put the puree in a pan and add the following ingredients

1 can coconut milk
2 Tb brown sugar
1 cup cooked black beans

Bring soup to boil, stirring and then reduce heat and cook about 3 minutes--then add

juice of 1/2  lime
chopped cilantro

Serve with a little cream drizzled on it.  I think I will make this again

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Easy A" - Funny, Entertaining but also a little Disturbing

Sneaking off the the afternoon matinee is getting to be something of a habit for me these days.  I saw a trailer for this movie and it sounded like fun.

First you have to get past not believing that Emma Stone, who plays the main character, Olive would go totally unnoticed in high school.  But she does.  Until she makes up a story about losing her virginity to explain why she didn't want to go camping with her best friend.  She is overheard in the bathroom by good girl Jesus freak Marianne who spreads the story all over school.  Suddenly Olive is noticed by everyone.

Now some people like Roger Ebert in his review, find it difficult to believe that such a story could be such a big deal in today's high school.  Well I've been to Ojai (where the story takes place) and I've been in small towns and while perhaps exaggerated, it is not totally unbelievable.

The name "Easy A" come from "The Scarlett Letter",  which Olive and her classmates are studying in English.  Olive decides to take full advantage of her new found notoriety, sews a scarlet A on her clothes and plays the part of the fallen woman to the max.

This is where it began to disturb me.  First she agrees to pretend to have sex with her gay friend who is being bullied.  Once everyone thinks he's been with her, he's accepted and popular.  Ew.  This movie came out before the rash of suicides by young gay victims of bullying but still...

Then she agrees to do the same for all the misfit and geeky boys in the school, in return for gift certificates to Pizza dives and home improvement stores.  You can tell she's clearly uncomfortable with this but doesn't know how to get out of it.

The movie purports to be about the importance of reputation but to me this is about using women for sex.  She is being used by these boys for her sexuality just as surely as if she had actually had sex wit them.  And she's being used to enhance their reputation so that they can have real sex -- that is, use other girls.

The other thing that is disturbing about this film is how utterly useless all the adults in Olive's life are.  Her English teacher expresses concern but can offer littler other than "you'll figure this out".  The guidance counselor hands her a handful of condoms and shoves her out the door.

That scene was a great illustration of how I believe we have let girls down in this culture.  Instead of teaching them independence and self-worth by who they are and what they can accomplish, we teach them their self-worth depends on their "purity" or we hand out birth control so they can continue to seek approval by using their sexuality.   The purity and the birth control people are handing young girls the same message - "Your value is in your sexuality --either save it as the only precious gift you can offer your husband or give it away but just make sure you don't get pregnant or an STD"

Even her parents, who are cool and supportive have nothing to offer her.  When Olive finally finds herself over head and confides in her mother, her mother simply says "You are smarter than me, you'll figure your way out of this"

So Olive is left alone to figure this stuff all by herself.  Is this how teenagers feel in our world?  That adults are totally useless to them?  Have we so abandoned our young people?

Oh and don't get me started about how the church lets her down.   From the snotty judgmental Marianne to a Bible that confuses her more than helps her, to two churches, there is no help for her from the church.  We can whine and moan about how Christianity is portrayed in the media or we can ask "why do people have the perception the church cannot help this girl?"  What help have we offered young people trying to find their way through this culture of sexual exploitation? 

I think this would be a good movie to take youth groups to --or rent when it comes out later -there is potential for some really good discussion. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Some Good News for a Change

The miners came out of the mine
Shod with infinite paths
And eyes of physical weeping,
Creaters of the profundity,
They know, from the ladder's intermittent sky
How to climb down looking up,
They know to climb up looking down

César Vellejo
Quoted by Arturo Fontaine, In Chile, Love Moves the Sun and Stars

Friday, October 8, 2010

Living Lutheran

This is the new blog in town done by the ELCA - with ELCA bloggers.  LIVING LUTHERAN  It has ssome good stuff and nice to get us ELCA bloggers together.  Disclaimer - yes they reposted me last week but that's not why I'm recommending it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Social Network

Lately I'm discovering the joy of (and cheapness) of sneaking away for an afternoon matinee.  My excuse is that I need to keep up with the culture by seeing what everyone else is seeing. And Facebook fan that I am, I had to see the story of how it came to be.

I did have some warning by feminist critics of the misogyny of this movie.  Women basically exist in this movie to be screwed.  Sorry for my vulgarity but that's how it needs to be said.  I understand this is about college boys and they can be single minded on this subject but I have faith in young men and believe that even they do, somewhere in there, have less superficial relationships.

Interestingly enough, I believe it is the movie's protagonist, Mark Zuckerberg, who was the least misogynist character.  This despite the fact that according to the story, the whole Facebook thing began when his girlfriend dumps him for being asshole and then he proceeds to be even more of an asshole by saying cruel things about her on his blog.

But Mark Zuckerberg  (in the movie anyway) is neither a misogynist nor an asshole.  He's a genius with no social skills.  There is speculation that he has Asperger's syndrome.  Having a son with Asperger's, I saw the familiar signs and all I could feel for the movie character you are supposed to hate was sympathy.  The more of a jerk he was, the more I felt badly for him.  We think we don't act like assholes because we are good people.  We just have learned, through non-verbal and other informal ways how NOT TO ACT like assholes.  Some people don't learn that.  We are not better than them.  We have just learned to lie better.

Even Mark's relationship and eventual betrayal of his only friend Eduardo Saverin is more complicated than it seems.  Despite Saverin's loyalty and obvious love of his friend, he was ill prepared to deal with the growth and vision of his friend's project then called "the Facebook"    He was out of his element trying to be a business manager with an already outdated textbook business model.  Mark tried to warn him "I'm afraid you are going to be left behind".  Even under the best of circumstances, you could see that this was not going to end well.  These were 20 year old BOYS with no life experience, one of whom, never really understood how to be a friend, despite his longing to have them.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

This Month's Newsletter Article

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast,* but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly,* but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love
I Corinthians 13
We live in a time of transition, turmoil and anxiety.  There is conflict, division and incivility, not just in politics but in our churches.  People lament the lack of respect while at the same time refusing to respect those with whom they differ.  Stands are taken.  Lines are drawn.

And yet even in the certainty of the rightness of our stand, the security of our boundaries drawn, there is a sense that something is not right.    Despite how right we know we are, we sense that all this stand taking and line drawing is in fact, not pleasing to God.

We can cite scripture chapter and verse to prove our point but 
“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”
We know with all certainty that our stand is correct and true, our faith does not waver and yet 
 “if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
Perhaps we have made great sacrifices for our beliefs but still

“If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast,* but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
“But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.” 

All the things we argue about and which divide and cause us such anxiety will come to an end.  It is only love which is eternal.

We yearn for clear answers and certainty in this world but 
“for now we see in a mirror, dimly,* but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known”

Why does the world scorn the church?  We can point fingers and come up with all the faults and sins unbelievers, but we still must answer the question, what does world see when it looks a the church?  Does it see love?  Is there an unbeliever such as the pagans in the time of the early church who can point to us and say “See how they love each other?”

God came into the world because of love.  God loves the world, sinful, confused and divided as it is.  God loves us, sinful, confused and divided as we are.  It sounds so simple and trite to simply say “Love one another” and yet if we are looking for commandments to save us – this is the one which will save us.  Love one another.  Love will save us.  Love already has saved us.

May God’s love continue to heal and transform us and empower us to love each other and the world in a way that heals and transforms.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Barking at Torah readers?

What I don't know about contemporary Jewish practices could fill a few books. Like who knew that it was customary for people in the synagogue to "bark" corrections to lay readers reading the Torah during worship? In this article, The Competitive Sport of Barking at Torah Readers – The Sisterhood – Forward.com , Elana Maryles Sztokmans discusses how the difference of the effect of this odd practice on boys and girls.  Boys (as in every other endeaver) are taught to ignore this harassment and continue reading as though they never heard it.  Girls haven't had this training and they end up crying in the bathroom after the experience.

Now I agree with Sztokmans' point that the whole practice of publicly humiliating  your Torah readers should be done away with.  But you know, learning to take public criticism in stride, learning to continue in public without acknowledging rude behavior, not taking everything so damn personally,  NOT dissolving in tears at every single perceived slight is something we need to be teaching little girls (and boys too).   And I don't know that there is a kind and gentle way to teach that.  But probably standing in front of everyone in the synagogue or the church is not the place for it.

St. Francis' Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord,
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather's moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure.

Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
Mother Earth
who sustains and governs us,
producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.

Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon
for love of You and bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace,
By You Most High, they will be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.
No second death can do them harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,
And serve Him with great humility.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A day in Assisi

"and dees ees St. Francis preaching to dee birds"

In 2004, thanks to a big chunk of my husband's life insurance, my kids and I took a 3 week trip of a life-time to Italy.  We did it on our own, took the train all over.  It was great.  In honour of St. Francis of Assisi, I invite you to read about our day in Assisi.  We rented an apartment in Rome for a week and too a day tour (it's about 3 hours away by bus).  Was not the highlight of our trip so you should probably read the whole trip blog :-)

Marburg Colloquy & World Communion Day

On October 1, 1529, Prince Philip brought Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli together in an attempt to reconcile their theological differences.   He was trying to unify all the Protestants in a political alliance against the Holy Roman Empire.

Out of 15 theological points, Zwingli and Luther were able to agree on 14.  But the last one was the sticking point.  They could not come to an agreement regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  Both rejected the Roman Catholic understanding that the bread and wine actually changed substance.  But Luther insisted while it was still bread it was also in some way, Christ's body.  It was as Jesus said "Take and eat, this IS my body"  

Zwingli just could not 'see Jesus' body in that bread.  The bread "signified" Christ's body.   Philip's hope for a unification of the two parties were dashed.  And Luther behaved VERY badly, refusing even to shake Zwingli's hand.

Today is World Communion Day, which I've never bothered to investigate what that actually means.  Probably not a good day to talk about the differences in understandings of Holy Communion.  Supposedly we've worked that all out with the Reformed tradition and the Methodists now.  I confess I have not studied the agreements, but I'll take the word of those who worked on it that our agreement on the Sacrament is sufficient.

My argument has always been we should all be able to come to the table together, regardless of how we understand how it works.  After all, does anyone imagine the twelve disciples had a clue, much less a shared understanding of what was going on at the Last Supper?  I still pretty much believe that although I did have an experience several years ago that showed me why some agreement is helpful.

It was my first year at my new parish.  Come Palm Sunday I was told we always did a joint service with the Methodist church in town and this year arrangements had been made for a drama group to enact the Last Supper.  Well enough.  Then it was suggested we have communion and the the other pastor and I preside.  This was before we had an agreement with the Methodists for table fellowship.  

I said as much to the planning committee and was told "We ALWAYS have communion together-what is your problem?"  Oh dear --first year here and I'm refusing to commune with my neighbors.  That won't do.  I called up my bishop and asked what I should do.  His answer was no answer, I was on my own on this one.

Well since I had always thought it was stupid that we couldn't all commune together anyway, I agreed.  The experience was jarring.  The Words of Institution were not said.  And I was simply handed the bread without the words "the body of Christ, given for you"  And I wished I had not agreed to preside.  I felt I could have participated as a member of the assembly but I should not have been "presiding".  

I had much more respect for Communion agreements after that.  

Oh and after that my congregation told me they had "never" had communion together with the Methodists at that service before.  We never did again under my pastorate.

On that note - Happy World Communion Day!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Five - Sometimes it's Just a Job

The RevGalBlogPals are talking about the Job

1) What are a few of the tasks that you find tedious/energy sucking in your ministry position? Please note I said 'tasks' not people :)
 Come around February every year I have to fill out the dreaded Parochial Report.  Is there a pastor that enjoys that?  I get knots in my stomach just thinking about it.  Number numbers numbers swimming in my head and they never come out right.  It doesn't help that no treasurer has ever done his/her report the way the form asks.
It used to make me cry until one day I called up a synod treasurer and asked if they checked if my numbers were correct.  "No" he answered like I'm stupid  ~ "All we have is what you give us.  Oh so I could like, make up a number and nobody would know?  
Ever since then it's been much less stressful because I make up numbers.  They are close so the ELCA is getting good picture.  But it's a made up number. 

2) Is there anything you could do to make one of them better?
Yea.  Have the secretary or treasurer do it like I hear happens in some churches.

3) What are a few of the tasks that you find energizing in ministry?
I just love to teach--especially people that want to learn.  Nothing gives me a buzz like hearing "Oh gee pastor, nobody ever explained it like that before.  That really makes sense"  
I like teaching confirmation unless I get one of those classes where they just stare at me blank eyed.   I'd rather have kids talking and asking crazy off the wall questions and poking each other than the glassy eyed stares.  Fortunately I have had more of the talking crazy questions spitball throwing classes than the dreaded silent ones.

4) If given a quarterly spiritual day, how would you want to spend it?
I would go  to a Benedictine retreat center, read those books that I can't read at night (my usual reading time) because they are too deep and they put me to sleep, walk a labyrinth, eat delicious healthy bread made by nuns and sing the Psalms with them.

5) If given a quarterly spiritual day, how would you actually spend it?
No really I'd do that if I could.  If I couldn't, I'd read a couple of chapters of my deep book and then take a nap.

BONUS: What would your Dream Ministry job include?
Adults excited about a church history class.