Monthly Archives: April 2013

Analysis vs. Awareness

“this is the day that God has made.” [psalm 118]

really-this day? the one with wars and poverty and divorce and addiction and betrayal? this one?

yes, this one.

this one because there’s a difference between analysis and awareness.

analysis pulls things apart, looks for cracks in logic, points out the inconsistencies. …

awareness doesn’t ignore or gloss over the very real questions and pains of this day, it transcends all of that analysis with the very straight forward acknowledgement that whatever this day is, it’s a gift to be embraced and engaged and maybe even enjoyed.

via rob bell • how about a short sermon?.

Everything we didn’t wish

Stoled from the Slacktivist, who is quoting Ezra Klein:

Gun control has emerged as an unusually clarifying test case for how Congress really works. On one side of the ledger is most everything that we think moves Congress: Public opinion, a national tragedy, the president’s bully pulpit, elite opinion. On the other side is everything we wish didn’t move Congress: a powerful but increasingly controversial interest group and, arguably, the minority’s natural incentive to foil the majority’s agenda.

Guess which side is winning?

via Smart people saying smart things.

Worrying about “Acting like Men”

Rachel Held Evans is discussing patriarchy and the role of women as teachers in the Christian church:

Perhaps we could push beyond these legalistic gender roles if we spent less time worrying about “acting like men” and “acting like women,” and more time acting like Jesus.

via The Absurd Legalism of Gender Roles: Exhibit C – “As long as I can’t see her…”.

I think her formulation would work pretty well for lots of other tribes within Christianity beyond just men and women: rich and poor; Republicans and Democrats; citizens and immigrants; mainline and fundamentalist, 7-day and evolutionary creationists. Perhaps we should spend less time “acting like X” and “acting like Y,” and more time acting like Jesus.

AND we could act like Jesus toward some groups outside the typical evangelical church too: Muslims, atheists, homosexualsPerhaps we should spend less time “acting like Christians” toward Y and more time acting like Jesus.

Capacity to be Hurt

Terrific perspective from Rachel Held Evans, who receives a good deal of angry criticism about her blog posts and who spent the Lenten season folding origami animals out of those angry emails.

… I am a real human being, living a very real life, with a very real capacity to be hurt, to be loved, to heal, and to forgive.

And so are my enemies.

via What I learned turning my hate mail into origami.

Shame is a bully

I tried this week to shame my two oldest kids into good behavior. I tried to make them ashamed of how they were acting. Or perhaps a better description is that I tried to make them want to avoid behaving in a way that they would regret and be ashamed of.

That’s a method of parenting I normally try to avoid. I picture myself attempting to lead my children in the right direction. I don’t want them to simply fear punishment or the consequences of behaving selfishly. I want them to want goodness. I want them to notice that I choose the good path when parenting them, and when a spanking would be the quick and easy way to force compliance with some point I instead invest my time encouraging them to get on the good path with me. I hope they one day say, “I’m glad dad spent that extra time.”

But occasionally I don’t meet my own standards, like this week, when I tried to make them ashamed of what their angry words to each other and their shoving match said about them.

And that’s what made this quote so poignant when I read it. And I’m still pondering its implications.

Shame is a bully and Grace is a shield.

via A Holy Experience – What Christians Need to Know about Mental Health.


Two stars so far

Very interesting idea here. Using a new (and quite possibly unfounded) form of analysis, these scientists posit that simple forms of life — the beginnings of our DNA — may have developed around a predecessor star before our Earth and sun ever formed. They manage to pull in Moore’s Law and also the Fermi Paradox in their article. Fascinating idea!

Moore’s Law and the Origin of Life | MIT Technology Review.

Neglecting the depths below

This author evokes an image of the ocean with it’s turbulent surface and its unsearchable depths. The full article draws a contrast between the external causes and the internal reasons that lead people to commit tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing.

The attempt to psychologize everything tends to result in an emphasis on the causes of a person’s action. But people act not just as a result of causes (mental illness, depression, drugs, etc.); they act for reasons. And those reasons do not fail to reveal important things about the person’s view of the world, including his or her beliefs, no matter how splintered or convoluted, about God, about human beings, about life’s mission, about the nature of happiness, about his or her own place in the universe.

The contemporary world is marred by the terrible habit of neglecting the importance of beliefs. Because we exist on the rushed and distracted surface of life’s waters, we have neglected and forgotten about the depths below. We are more pragmatic and short-term in our approach to life’s problems than those who came before us. And it hasn’t served us well in times of crisis.

via The question that never gets answered: What is wrong with people? | Parchment and Pen.

The ocean metaphor reminds me of similar imagery used by David Wilcox in his song Underneath. That link has lyrics and a button to play the song for free.

The thought of the process

In this excerpt the author does a good job pointing out that personal revulsion to an idea may make for great rhetoric but is still a lousy argument against same sex marriage. Or against your parents having sex.

To describe homosexuality as ‘unnatural’ – particularly from our culture which is almost defined by our deliberate disconnection from nature seems like the ultimate odd argument; driving a car is unnatural, eating food from a box is unnatural, even living in a house is unnatural – but how is a committed personal relationship with another human being ‘unnatural’?

And many things might strike us as ‘disgusting’ or disturbing if we think about them. … [C]an you recall your first recognition of your own conception?

I’m guessing that the thought of the process that brought each one of us into existence was not, at first, terribly appealing or comforting.

via Are there Any Solid Arguments Against Same-Sex Marriage? – Red Letter Christians.

An enthusiastic yes!

When it comes to preventing rape, “No means no” just doesn’t cover every case. A woman blacked out from drugs or alcohol no longer has the capacity to say no. Yet many teens and (unbelievably!) adults believe that sex with her while she’s unconscious isn’t rape because she didn’t say no. We need to emphasize that “consent” means a woman positively assenting to any sexual activity. That should be taught as a vital part of any sex education.

This from a high school teacher in Atlanta talking with her class about the rape of an unconscious teen in Steubenville, Ohio:

If you want to keep teens from being rapists, you can no longer assume that they know how. You HAVE to talk about it. There is no longer a choice. It is no longer enough to talk to our kids about the mechanics of sex, it probably never was. We have to talk about consent, what it means, and how you are sure you have it. We have to teach clearly and boldly that consent is (in the words of Dianna E. Anderson) an enthusiastic, unequivocal YES!

What came next, when the idea of a clear yes came up, is the reason I will always choose to teach freshmen. They are still young enough to want to entertain new ideas. When we reversed the conversation from, “well she didn’t say no,” to “she has to say YES!” many of them lit up. “Ms. Norman,” they said, “that does make a lot more sense.” “Ms. Norman,” they exclaimed, “that way leaves a lot less confusion.” When one of the boys asked, well what do you want me to do, get a napkin and make her sign it, about four girls from the back yelled, YEAH!

What happened in Steubenville makes me sick, but we are kidding ourselves if we think that it is not representative of what is happening in basement parties after the homecoming game all across America. Our kids want to talk about it. They need to talk about it. We need to have conversations about consent that are not centered around what should have been done, but are instead centered on what will be done in the future.

via The Day I Taught How Not to Rape | Accidental Devotional.

If we don’t teach our kids how to navigate this terrain as they’re becoming sexually aware then we can’t expect them to become sexually mature. All we can do after the fact is shake our heads at the tragic course they charted for themselves.

From Darkness to Light

Prayer from a fellow depress-ee.

Glory be to God, who has shown us the light!

Lead me from darkness to light.

Lead me from sadness to joy.

Lead me from death to immortality.


via something broke me | + alancreech.