Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Blue Tea meme

Okay, Jane tagged me.

She writes:

It was started by a lady who has a blog called Blue Tea. (Thus the name!)
According to the original poster, the rules for this meme are: “Devise a list of 5-10 courses you would take to fix your life. It’s more fun to be in classes with friends, so include one class from the person who tagged you that you’d also like to take. Tag five.”

Child Development - I'm hoping for more recent developments, because half of the stuff I learned was rubbish (I'm feeling British today, apparently), and I don't remember the other half.

Woodworking and Home Repairs - I am completely inadequate at this stuff and it scares me.

Arts and Crafts - The same as the above.

Personal Finance - 'nuff said

German - I LOVE German, but I haven't retained enough of it

Guitar - its sittin' in my closet

Music Theory - I love it, just don't understand the nuances and what a composer is trying to convey through his music by doing this or that.

Church History - At least beyond "...and the Bible ends there and then (huge gap) and then Martin Luther became a monk because he was caught in a thunderstorm, ran under a tree, and prayed to St. Anne for safety -- and promised if he lived he'd become a monk...and NEVER stand under a tree in a lightening storm....when he was a monk he started reading the Bible. He became mad at John Tetsel who was selling indulgences so he posted the 95 theses...'here I stand I can do no other'....he married Katherine Von Bora" (huge gap) the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock to find a place where they could practice their religion in freedom and then they tar and feathered each other and burned anybody they thought was a witch. And then the liberal professors left the St. Louis seminary and formed what eventually became the ELCA. And that leaves us at today...."

I'm with Jane on Organic Gardening. I'm wondering if the master gardener class at the extention would do that. A gentleman in our congregation who has a big beautiful old John Deere tractor is going to till for me next year!!!

Domestic Arts -- I hate sewing. But I do wish I was better at it, at least to give my daughter a chance to learn to like it...and even my son. Oh well, I love to cook. Viva la Food Network. But are culture is so robbed of the feminine artisanship of creating a good home that used to be valued. I value it, but I feel incompetent at just about all factors of it.

HTML - So I could make my blog look like what I want and I could fix that dumb list link that I know freezes up everybody's computer for a minute when they get on my site and Jane's....GRRRRR

I went for the full ten. Can you tell I'd rather be in a class than just about anywhere else???

So I tag Designated Knitter, Laura, Kim, Polly, and my husband - though he doesn't blog and is taking classes at the seminary right now.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Happy Birthday Chris!!!

Can you believe it?????? This darling 1 week old is

this 11 year old!!!!
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Saturday, October 27, 2007

7 Things About ME

A while back I was tagged for this...7 Things About Me. If you haven't done it yet...consider yourself tagged!

1. I don't like using the phone. Ever since my behaviorism professor in college demonstrated how it was operant conditioning and that we will put our lives on hold any time it rings, I have come to despise it. I like the computer better. I can deal with communication on my time, and I don't feel like I am interfering with someone else's life.

2. My truly "happy place" is Dodger Stadium. It can be peaceful and calming, it can be raucous. I can feel truly alone there, or part of a huge united community.

3. I own a Catahoula Leopard Dog, and he is amazing. (he looks like the third puppy down...but BIGGER now)

4. If I could go back to college again, I think I'd take all the classes that interested me, and then look back after a few years and see what major I am closest to.

5. I once dated a guy primarily because he had a red 1965 Mustang (in the end it wasn't a great idea. He wasn't a great guy, and cars that don't have air conditioners are not a good idea in Las Vegas in the summertime).

6. My sweetie and I met at Arrowhead Lutheran Camp where we were both camp counselors (and last I heard, yes, it is okay). I'm glad he liked me back, because I was his boss, and the statute of limitations is up on sexual harassment.

7. My camp name was "Dewey." Short for Morning Dew. People got a kick out of that because I am NOT a morning person, but I argue that Dew just lays around all morning, and then in the afternoon it is off doing other things. It fit. And they wouldn't let me have "Bobkitten." Meowwrr.

Okay, if you are reading and you haven't done this yet, I tag you. I know I'm way behind on the trendy memes at the moment. And this includes you, Designated Knitter and Not Worthy!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Feeling Foreign

I know there are people who are not Lutheran who read this blog, so I'm giving you a warning. I am going to show my confessional Lutheran roots here (they are brunette with streaks of gray...oh wait, wrong roots).

Fifteen years ago, if you'd told me I would be liturgical, I would've laughed in your face. I was raised with the liturgy, and found it drab compared to the contemporary services I'd attended. Even several years after I understood and agreed with why the liturgy should be used, I still struggled with the reality of it. But once I had kids and had it memorized so that I could concentrate on the words and what they were saying (believe it or not, like with meditation, memorization actually helps you dig into the meat of the service, it doesn't make it more rote), I really began to appreciate the beauty of it, and (gasp) sometimes it even provokes an emotional reaction, it is so beautiful or applies so readily to where I need God to speak to me.

I'd been in the contemporary worship scene. I'd loved it. But I had also been in situations where the law that is so often involved with it obscured the gospel and left me feeling condemned because I didn't feel anything, or I was aching for the gospel and it wasn't there - because it was so fixated on what I was doing for Christ. The liturgy gives me both, and it unites me with Christians who have been worshiping that way for almost 2000 years, and Jews had done so before that. Christ was liturgical. It takes everything away from me and instead, it becomes about Christ feeding me with His holy Word, line after beautiful line.

Last Sunday I was in an LCMS church that uses blended worship -- not really our choice, we were requested to be there by a friend. Blended worship is often utilized by Lutheran churches to give the service a liturgical "format" so that it feels vaguely familiar to Lutherans, but is supposedly relevant to strangers coming into the church. Anything that might be offensive was removed. The wording to the confession was mellowed, and the absolution, rather than being the pastor pronouncing absolution because he forgives us our sins, he merely assures of that we have been forgiven. There was no creed. Thankfully, there was no communion either at that service.

Since there is such a focus on what a stranger to the Lutheran church experiences when they come into that congregation, I thought I'd share what a person who embraces liturgical worship feels like in such situations. Because I too was a stranger there.

While the words were up on the wall because of the Power Point projector, I felt like an alien. The words which were committed in my heart were different. The musical responses were not the same. Rather than something that openly and richly in few words proclaimed the glory of Christ, instead, simple repeated chants like "Oh Christ you are glorious" were repeatedly sung. He is glorious, I'll grant that. The liturgy instead though, in as short a time explains WHO is glorious, WHAT He did that is glorious, WHY He is glorious, and even sometimes HOW He did something glorious and WHERE He is now...and that we will be with Him there, too (WHO, WHAT, WHY, WHEN, WHERE, and HOW....traits that my 7th grade English teacher taught me were necessary for judging whether a non-fiction piece was really doing its job in conveying important information).

During this service, I struggled with my sinful flesh more than I usually do in church. I didn't want to be snobby. I didn't want to just say "oh, this modern stuff is crud." I could believe that the liturgy is a superior vessel for proclaiming the gospel but still could try to focus on the Word of God that was there. But it was SO hard. Like I said, the substance of what was conveyed was so much less. But it was there. The Powerpoint presentation told us where we were in the service, but it seemed like it could just as easily stated "Kyrie - Lord Have Mercy" as it could've said "anthem" and then the strangers and members alike are educated. The gospel lines in the liturgy were replaced by lines that were about what I am doing for God. The sermon, while I do believe I was blessed and edified by it, again contained about 5 lines of gospel, and it was the token "Jesus does this in our hearts." I was exhausted by the end of the service, because I wanted so desperately to honor God in the service and not miss His Word because I resented how dumbed down the service was. Even the benediction was law. I went out knowing that I had struggled with myself, that I was partially fed, and while I do think these observations are accurate and good, I could not unmingle my sinful self from it, and the pastor's efforts to do His job were so confused that he did not make that task easier for me, instead he bound my conscience.

I am not writing this to offend anyone who uses contemporary worship or blended worship. I hope that it is clear that while I have no intention to embrace these types of worship, that I really tried to receive God's Word in the venue that was there before me that day. But there is a different purpose in contemporary/blended worship than there is in liturgical worship.

Contemporary is about individual experience. When I was in a Christian Contemporary church , you close your eyes, sway to the rhythm, raise your hands, and are open to where the music and the message take you (btw, the way you could tell this was Lutheran is that no one was raising their hands). It is also about what I am doing for God. Liturgy is a "we" experience. While you are still an individual, everything is God feeding His people, and His people's joint response to being fed. This is the same response through the ages right up to this time, and along with the saints in Heaven. I am there being fed by God along with the rest of the body of Christ, in heaven and on earth. The spiritual reality of that is a much greater sense of awe than I ever felt when I went to a really good contemporary service where my soul did not feel weighted down by my sin.

I honestly don't know why I am writing this. Maybe just to let those of you Lutherans who embrace blended worship that in your appeal to be more "relevant" or to "reach out to the community," your rejection of a common manner of worship actually does cause pain to some who come in and sit in the pews. When we walk out at the end and never come back, it isn't because we are snooty. It is because your rejection of something so precious to me and to the history of our church breaks my heart (the liturgy does not alienate those who are young in the faith, by the way. often, it gives them a clearly different culture than the one that they are leaving, and it is a blessing). When I see that LCMS cross on your sign, I should be able to go in and feel at home. I should receive proof that every Sunday we are raising our voices together, even in different locales. The expression of your congregational personality should be in your handshake and your smile, maybe in the flourishes of your church musician, in the manner of your pastor, and how you show love the love of Christ.

The best way that I know how to explain it is this:

I had a good friend in school who for various reasons decided that she was going to change her first and last name to try to give herself a fresh start in life. Whatever the reason why she wanted to do this, and she chose to look at it optimistically, a fresh start and all that -- her family was really hurt. Her father considered his name to be a gift to her...and she was rejecting the name they gave her at her birth. The new name made her seem like a stranger. She didn't understand why her family would struggle with this or see this as a rejection of them. No matter how much they tried to understand, they still felt rejected, and she saw this rejection as a lack of support for her. This wasn't a situation where she was walking away from cruel, domineering parents. I couldn't help but look at what she was doing and because of the price, see it as extreme...she was attempting to throw away her whole identity -- including a lot of things that were good, in favor of something that was nebulous and undefined. Yet she didn't see that she could be a great person (and in fact was a great person) and still hold on to the things that tied her to her roots. She was (and she would admit this) too scared to dig deep to find the person she really was within that context.

That is how I see contemporary and blended worship in the LCMS. Throwing away the liturgy is throwing away precious gifts that unite us all together. With that, often comes a simpler - but a shallower form of worship...and also along with that, other things are lost, too. Soon, the Lutheran understanding of communion fellowship, the office of the ministry, and sometimes even Scripture itself is lost, and while the name Lutheran might be there, all the parts that make the name Lutheran mean something are gone.

Rather than throwing out our all the traditions and rituals of our "family," it would be wiser to find the definition of who we are back in our family tree. It gives a context.

I just know, sitting in that pew last Sunday, I became painfully aware not of the shallowness of the service...but of what has been lost to this congregation...and so many others.

Wow!! A Few Minutes Alone!!!

Things have been busy here...and that is an understatement. I have been working again, which is a task that seems to simultaneously preserve and jeopardize my sanity...but it is a part time job with a sporadic schedule that works well with my husband' no children are neglected during this venture.

We also went to the Indiana District Pastor's Conference, which was very nice. I love this district's conference. It is so family friendly. The hotel lends to that very well, too. Last year, it wasn't in Columbus, and the location was VERY missed.

Now, we are all fighting colds because of two weeks of eating fast food and of course, a contagious virus that has managed to infect all of us. Zicam - save us!!!

In the last couple of weeks, I have had so many things that I have wanted to blog about. So I am so tempted to just dump it all out there, but I can't do that. They'll all be back from Walmart soon ;)

Friday, October 19, 2007

More from Harry Potter

This article just made the presses within the last couple of days

Albus Dumbledore is gay

And this is directly from the lips of the author.

A while ago, I wrote a post expressing my concern about the ending of the last Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. **SPOILER ALERT** It is clear in her stories that Harry Potter is a Christ figure. He is meant to save everyone from the evil Voldemort by sacrificing himself. It is made clear in the last book that Harry must die in order to defeat Voldemort. Yet Harry does not die. In the end, it is stated by Dumbledore that it was only important that Harry was willing to die in order to defeat Voldemort. He passed out when Voldemort attacked him, and then regained consciousness. A veritable *swoon theory* in action.

When I posted my concerns, I was reassured by my Lutheran theolgian friends that Rowling clearly is a Christian, and the sacramentology that is throughout the books clearly show that. She is writing more in a Tolkien sense rather than a C.S. Lewis sense - less literal, less willing to make the story a tight allegory, even though Harry's walking into Voldemort's camp was so clearly parallel to Aslan walking into the White Witch's clutches.

Okay, I could see that as a possibility. She didn't want to make Harry into Christ. But it still troubled me. There are too many people who wear the label Christian who don't believe that Christ died and rose again. I expressed that I wished I knew where her beliefs were. The only thing I could find was that she was Church of Scotland, which is a liturgical, sacramental church that also is known for its all-inclusiveness of beliefs and its encouragement that everyone "work it all out for themselves and decide where they stand on Scripture, etc.."

When Rowling issued that pronouncement, those possibilities became much less possible to me. If she is willing to make an admirable father figure - a Merlin or a Gandalf - and make his sexuality an issue when it NEVER had to be, she was showing her true colors. Yes, I know that it doesn't specifically state that she doesn't believe that Jesus died and rose again, but it does show that she is willing to snip God's Word into the bits and pieces that she wants to take and create her own gospel, her own God.

And that destroys other people's faith. We live in a world where it is hard to take God's word at face value. When we hear that someone may go to Hell because of the sins that they are embracing and placing above God's Word, it is hard for us. But we know perfectly wonderful people who live with each other in a non-marital sexual relationship. We know really great gay people. etc. How could God want to damn them. Truly wonderful characters in literature do that for us as well. Albus Dumbledore is a wise, loving man who fought for the good of all and sacrificed himself to the utmost. Yet he was being gay can't be all that bad, right? So our flawed human reason goes, if it is not trusting in God's Word.

Not only that, but she did something that is despicable in literary criticism. Many times anymore, when you look at strong friendships between two people of the same sex in classic works of literature (or in the Bible, or in history), the literary critic, the academic rushes to say that they are a clear indication that it was a gay relationship. Rowling intentionally set up a relationship that showed nothing more than a friendship between two young men with similar dreams - and then later, looking back at her own work, she points out that she intended this to show forth as a homosexual relationship.

I am not a Harry Potter attacker. I have read every book and eagerly awaited each one as it came out. My son is reading Sorcerers Stone now. I see a lot that is worthwhile in these books. However, truly good children's fiction often has two messages - one that the children enjoy, and one that is meant to be picked up later. It has become clear that Rowling fully intended to propogate a liberal agenda at the same time that she is telling us a wonderfully imaginative yarn full of social morality and good and evil. Yet in that good vs. evil, she is constantly using things that sets us off balance - things that we typically associate with evil -- and she makes them good. And in some ways -- she is taking things that have been typically associated with good -- the wise, fatherly wizard that keeps us safe by his power and presence (Merlin, Gandalf - who both did have to go away and let the battles be fought) -- and associating them with things that have through time been considered evil -- and then she took the most important thing of all -- and portrayed it as paltry compared to what it really and truly was.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Good News!!

Our congregation voted to switch to Lutheran Service Book by unanimous vote. It was peaceful and fun, and the most controversy was whether to get our church name imprinted on the covers...and that final decision was simply "if we have enough money in time to get it."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Back in the Swing of Things???

I'm a working mom again.....

In August, I was walking across the street to the grocery store, contemplating our tight finances when I just prayed that God would provide. Right at that very moment, a field manager from the university that I have worked for doing field interviewing for social science studies left a message on an answering machine to offer me a position on one of the studies that was coming up. After she told me about it, I quickly said yes. It is interesting and it is incredibly flexible so those two traits make it a good position to have when you share a car with a pastor and homeschool as well.

Anyway, I spent the last week in a conference hotel for training. The training was about as interesting as trainings go, but it was a week in a hotel room all to myself, where I didn't have to cook for anyone, do dishes for anyone, do laundry for anyone but me, and the bed was comfy and the food was beyond words -- and all of it was free. In fact, I was getting paid to be there.

The only arduous side, I didn't have any contact with the outside world, and by that I mean the Internet. So I didn't get to see what my husband was spending, I didn't get to talk to friends, check my email, or BLOG!! (gasp). On the other hand -- I was amazed at how simple life could be. :)
(and I got to see my friend Cheryl!!!)
So here I am, starting to get appointments to conduct interviews, canning apples with my kids (the Saturday before I left, we were invited to a parishoner's house who has an apple orchard and came away with a few butter and apple sauce are slowly but surely accruing in my pantry), and trying to figure out how I find time to do the stuff I love to do on the computer (like blogging), when I am already working from a computer half the time.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Back to Blogging....

Sorry, I've been away at a work training with NO access to a computer that wasn't restricted from the internet.....but, its back to the real world now...

I saw this on Barb the Evil Genius's Blog.....How could I resist???? says I'm a History / Lit Geek.  What are you?  Click here!

Woo-hoo!!! There is nothin' better!!!