"Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, but it is the only answer."--Dorothy Day


All at Once.

So it's been a bit since I've posted anything. I've started no less than 5 posts, but could not make any sense of them, so I quit. Right now, as I find myself reading several things at once, my mind is a bit muddled.

Every time I go to Austin, I come back with no less than 5 new books. Part of my circuit there is the book stores, so I hit Book People (a wonder in itself), the Half-Priced Books on North Lamar and the Goodwill near my old apartment that has an impressive, but very unorganized library. This time I can back with Mrs. Dalloway, Franny and Zooey, The Corrections, something called Total Happiness (an independently published book that was quite good until the end) , The Irresisitible Revolution, and Are Men Necessary? by Maureen Dowd (who is an op-ed columnist for the New York Times.) And now I am in the process of getting through all of them.

I started with Are Men Necessary?, which is a commentary on feminism, politics and the rise of cosmetic surgery in America (among other things). And then I moved on to The Irresistible Revolution, which is pretty amazing. And in addition to these two, I'm reading Financial Peace Revisited as part of a class I am taking. Reading The Irresistible Revolution right after Are Men Necessary?, has filled my head with thoughts of revolution, and the means to combat some -isms (i.e. material-, rac-, sex-, etc.), and to bring about others (i.e. optim-, femin-, liberal-, etc.). And then I read about attaining financial peace and am told that I should work toward "wealth building" and that I should have the means to buy a boat should I so choose (I won't, because boats make me nervous, but the choice is there). But the voice in my head responds "Savings, Retirement, Boats, Houses, Cars? But people are sleeping in the park across the street from my office. Something is wrong with this." I feel like I'm simultaneously living in two worlds.

I had been told about The Irresistible Revolution by some friends, but am just now getting to read it. The author, Shane Claiborne, is part of The Simple Way community in Philadelphia. He and several others have opened a community center and live there along side the residents of one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. In the book he tells stories of protests, and important trips to India and Iraq, and of using joy and love to show the world there is another way. That conflict can be solved without violence, that poverty can be overcome when we care for each other, that dying people can be given dignity even if they cannot be saved. This gives me hope that my generation of Americans is looking at the World differently and seeing what has to be done to make it just, and safe, and peaceful.

So now I am wrestling with and trying to reconcile these two worlds. I find money very tricky, and am made very anxious by its presence in mass, but also by its absence. I have lived my entire life in a place of financial struggle (though I know very well that I and my family are among some of the wealthiest people in the world), and can see the great potential of finally winning this battle. I simply must hope for the discernment to know when enough is enough, and to use what I have to do what is right.



Today is my first day back from a very nice vacation. I was off for a week and spent 4 of those days in Texas. I enjoyed the heat, did a significant amount of car singing, spent alot of time with my wonderful friends, and got to see two of my favorite people get married (to each other). I got to go to Kerbey Lane, and Book People, and both of my favorite grocery stores. And at one point got so lost in the suburbs/woods as to confirm that I can never live there. Trees make me nervous.



I made a vague statement a few posts ago about having decided not to believe in Hell any more. I promised I'd come back to it, and have decided to do so today. When I was in high school, my best friend was Catholic. He told me once that his mother thought she was going to Hell for not believing in Hell. Isn't that a wonderful paradox?

A few months ago, I heard an oldish episode of This American Life, that spoke of Carlton Pearson, a Baptist minister from Oklahoma, coming to the conclusion that there is no Hell separate from that we have created for ourselves (and others) here on Earth. This was what solidified it for me, but there much more to it. Here goes...I cannot see the point in living your life, working and loving, sleeping and eating, running and walking, simply to achieve a place in Heaven, and thus leave an empty spot in Hell. First, there is nothing man can ever do to earn a place in Heaven. And I do believe, that under this same umbrella of grace, there is nothing man can do to take himself out of God's favor. I don't believe that this is something we earn by being in the right place, at the right time and being given the gift of knowledge of God and Christ. For so many of us, our Christianity is merely happenstance. I was born into a family that for generations had been a part of the church. I lived in a community where church was cool, and thus we went. The church I went to in college was about a 5 minute walk from my dorm, so there was no excuse for me not to go there. And the people I met there happened to be similar people to who I was at the time, and some of them have remained so. Now I am trivializing these things to make a point, but I don't discount God's hand in any of this. I'm simply saying, what if one of these things had not been so, and I had never come to know God? Is the sum of these circumstances enough to make me worthy of Heaven? Or maybe it's just that we should live our lives in love, doing what is best for our fellow man, trying to live a good life, and hope for the best. Or maybe know for the best. That God is on our side. That He loves us wholly for who we wholly are. That He has prepared a place for all of His creation. And that we will all be welcome there.


"Wisdom is a Woman."

Last night, as CCfB's regular minister was away on a very arduous trip to Jamaica, my friend Jen was in charge of teaching class and later preaching. When I walked in she asked me to read a scripture and said, "It has be read by a woman. You'll see why." The scripture was from Proverbs 8, and is the embodiment of Wisdom speaking in a female voice. I was greatly amused to be the voice of wisdom.

Growing up in the Church of Christ, I always knew that I would never be called upon to lead the church anywhere. Even then, I didn't have very many close female friends and found it difficult to relate to woman on any level, and thus could never see myself as a teacher of the fabled Ladies' Bible study, and I am not patient enough, nor knowledgeable enough, to being called upon to mold young minds. I remember in junior high and high school there were months when the boys were separated from the girls during Bible classes, and we always wondered what the other was talking about. The girls in my youth group were close enough to the boys that we got the secret out of them. While we were talking about sex, and why we shouldn't have it, they were being taught to be church leaders. In the coming months they would do sermons on Sunday nights, and lead singing and pass communion, while we sat in the pews and remembered the reasons you should never touch a boy on the knee.
Upon moving to NYC, I had my first experience with a gender inclusive church, and found it slightly intimidating, but also so freeing. To sit in a pew and listen a beautiful, honest prayer given in an untrained female voice. To see my friend Laura lead singing while holding her little girl on her hip. And last night, to hear Jen speak with such great understanding, while periodically stopping to tell her daughter hello.