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Showing posts from July, 2010

counter culture

Within the last 2 days, I have been reading The Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, the book of Luke, and The Life of Evelyn Underhill by Margaret Cropper. The one thing that stuck out to me in all three of these books was how counter cultural Jesus was.

For the most part, our tendency is to want to be in the majority, to have our Christian values pervade society. We like Christian universities, Christian politicians, Christian musicians and actors, and Christian mentions in the media. We like it when our values and beliefs are respected and we are able to exert influence on what happens around us. We don't want immorality and excessive violence on TV. We don't want other religions or atheism invading society and influencing our laws. We want the freedom to do what we do and to have society applaud and imitate us.

What we sometimes forget is that Jesus was counter cultural. He was in the minority. Politically, he was seen as a dangerous revolutionary. Religiously, des…

the real thing

Cat mugs, cat towels, cat notepaper, cat pajamas, cat books. Though I don't openly display all of these items in my home, I do own them. However, for the most part, I did not acquire these kitty goodies for myself. They were all gifts from people who like me and know that I like cats. I guess some of them might secretly be cat lovers, too. And I appreciate the kindness that is behind all these gifts, but there is one major difference between most of the people who buy me these cat items and me: I have the real thing. And living with the real thing day in and day out is quite a different story from the, "Awwwww, how cute" response that a cat t-shirt or a kitten key chain evokes.
This week in my readings on mysticism, one author suggested that the more intimate the mystics became with God, the less they relied on symbols, liturgies, and rituals. Very interesting. As their relationship with God deepened, they didn't need a trigger to remind them that God was pres…

showing up

I am in month 2 of a reading course which will take about six months to complete. It will form the basic building blocks of the research for my MA thesis, which I hope to complete next summer. I have chosen a topic that is dear to my heart and that I believe I will enjoy learning about for a year, but some days, like today, I don't really feel like picking up a book on mysticism and taking notes. Today is one of those "just show up" days.
And that is worth more than we give it credit for in our present day and age. In fact, it is a rare thing in many ways. I was in a class a few semesters ago where about half the class did not show up on a regular basis. I don't know how they expected to do well, or maybe they didn't. One of the strong images from my childhood is the presence of my mother when I came home from school every day. For the most part, she didn't do anything special or amazing, but she was there every day, and that counted for a lot.
I have been…

attention

I sang at our weekly gathering of Church on Sunday night. Well, I sing every Sunday, but this time it was in front of a microphone. It had been a few weeks, so it was great to set up the keyboard, let my fingers flutter over the notes, and lift my voice to join with Dean's to tell of the wonders of an astounding God. The first song that we rehearsed in the sound check, one that I happened to sing the lead in, starts out very low and ends up really high, just on the edge of my range. I should have known better than to begin with that, especially without a warm-up. I squeaked, cracked, and strained my way through it and by the end, was feeling pretty sorry for anyone who had heard the sound check. I hoped I would do better when the time came to sing in front of everyone, but I wasn't too hopeful.
We ran through the rest of the songs, and then I headed off to the bathroom. My throat felt a bit raw and I berated myself gently for not singing and practicing more consistently …

simple

It was a warm and sunny day yesterday, so Dean and I walked to the grocery store and bought a few items. It gave me the greatest delight, for some reason, to tend to the small details of life like selecting a piece of fruit and buying toilet paper on sale, and to do it with a very agreeable companion. On Saturday I awoke with intense gratitude that I had arms and legs, air to breathe, eyes to see, and ears that could hear. What a wonder to be able to experience the world by moving through it, self-propelled. And what a plethora of vibrant and variegated sensory amazements awaits me everyday.
I am a simple person at heart. I do not need much to be happy. I rarely go shopping for clothes (gifts and clothing exchanges account for much in my closet) and could eat the same diet of cereals, fruits, salad, and tea every day. I regularly give things away to avoid the feeling of claustrophobia that comes upon me when I see a stuffed closet or a crowded room. I believe I might have made …

unplugged

It has been a pretty hum-drum past few weeks or even months. Nothing really exciting has been happening in my life, and I haven't been really happy nor really sad. Just somewhere short of a shrug. Which, if you know the dramatic flair with which I tend to jump and tumble through life, is a bit abnormal for me. I usually get REALLY animated about even the smallest things like a penny on the sidewalk or the idea of drinking a cappuccino. Maybe I am tired. Maybe my summer reading course is draining the emotional life out of me. We all have these seasons of numbness, even us drama queens. Why should I expect anything different, even in my interaction with God? I know that Jesus will not come out of the heavens every day to do an interpretive reading of the Bible for me, nor is it realistic of me to expect chills every time I pray for someone.

I was on the subway last night and as is my custom, cracked open a book. This particular evening I read about a guy who was finding himself respo…

ingredient

I am learning how to skim read. I love it and I hate it. I like the speed at which I can get through information, but I hate not being able to savour each page. There is no time to stop and oooh and aaah over thoughts and ideas that tickle my imagination and curiosity. If they have nothing to do with my thesis topic (as undefined as it is), I must move on...quickly. Sigh. It's like only being able to sample one ingredient from a recipe. Or perhaps like looking through a whole book of recipes and notating each time baking powder is used and in what context. Does that really give me a good grasp of the fluffiness of this magic powder, dormant until it is mixed with other ingredients and exposed to intense heat?

A list of ingredients by itself is not that mouthwatering: cornmeal, iron, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, vegetable oil, whey, cheddar cheese, hydrogenated vegetable oil, corn maltodextrin, sour cream, artificial flavour, monosodium glutamate, lactic acid, colour, c…

mornings

I am not a morning person. This simply means that, as a general rule, I do not usually function at peak capacity during the first few hours after I wake up. On the contrary, some of my most productive and creative times are between 10 pm and 2 am. And being a student with a fairly flexible schedule, I have been known to keep those kinds of hours. This makes for some interesting scenarios when interacting with the rest of the mostly 9-5 world.

Yes, people have called me at 10:30 am and woken me up. When I hear that familiar ringing and it rudely snatches me out of my unconscious state, demanding immediate attention, I leap out of bed. I say some practice 'hellos' just to get the kinks out of the vocal chords and try to sound sane and coherent when I press the talk button on the phone. It doesn't work all that well. People can just tell if you've been sleeping. I used to get embarrassed about it, but then I realised that if I called them back at 1:30 am when I was wide aw…

bigger than

Sometimes I forget that God is bigger than anything else. My mistakes. My accomplishments. My future. My words. My past. My lack of skills. My relationships. The actions of others. World events. He is just bigger than it all. When I tend to focus on the minor stuff of life, I need something to help me jettison the small-mindedness and see once again that this ginormous God I belong to is leaps and bounds beyond everything. One of those helpful somethings is truth.

Truth is not a set of facts. Jesus said that he was the truth, so if I know what Jesus looks like, I know what truth looks like. But if I don't know what truth looks like, I can easily get confused, overwhelmed, deceived, or discouraged. Truth is consistent and alive, but not totally predictable (which is why I need to keep searching Him out and getting to know him better). And truth is bigger than my thoughts, my ideas, my understanding, my perceptions, facts, arguments, feelings, accusations, you name it. Truth cuts thr…

helpful

I helped two people move this week. Well, "help" is a rather strong word. I showed up for a few hours and did some small tasks. I carried boxes, rearranged things to make room for more stuff, and tried to be encouraging and calming. It seemed like very little. I am used to carrying more of the load, I guess, but here's the thing: you can pay someone to move your stuff for you, but you can't pay someone to be your friend. And I guess I am learning that I don't have to exert a lot of sweat and expend great amounts of effort to be someone's friend or help them out. I just have to show up on a consistent basis, be there at crucial moments, and then stand, walk, sit, listen, cry, eat, or laugh with them.

I finished reading Good to Great by Jim Collins this week. He said many things that got me thinking. And I believe that I have a lot more clarity regarding how to move forward with certain situations in my life, especially groups that I am involved in. Here are a f…