Saturday, June 28, 2008

Another Magazine Arrives

Okay seriously people... American Handgunner?

Could I hate anything more than cooking and guns? My roommate says, "You hate porn..." so yes, I guess, it could be worse.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Are you an average reader?

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed. Well, let's see.
1) Bold the books you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Star the books you're reading/have read some of.
5) Copy, paste, & repeat.

I only bolded and starred cause I got tired of guessing whether or not I would REALLY get around the reading the books. And I got frustrated trying to decide if I LOVED the book or just really liked it. :) So I've only done 1 and 4 in the requested list. (I did parenthetically note if I've seen the movie). Even with those two though, it appears I am above average. But certainly not close to the 100 mark...

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen (seen the movie)
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (seen the movie)
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling * (seen the movie)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell *
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott (seen the movie)
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller *
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (seen the movie)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (seen the movie)
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy *
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis. * (seen the movie)
34 Emma - Jane Austen (seen the movie)
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (seen the movie)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy*
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (seen the movie)
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding (seen the movie)
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (seen the movie, listened to the musical)
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray (seen the movie)
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (seen the movie and musical)
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White (seen the movie)
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery-
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas *
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (seen the movie)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (seen the movie)
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo * (seen the movie and musical)

Thursday, June 26, 2008


We’ve been hearing a lot about hope and change in the media recently have we not? Every politician walks a fine line between guaranteeing change and offering hope while maintaining the integrity of reality.

Reality is a war in the middle east coupled with impending war against several other nations. Hope is bringing home the troops, peace talks that bring about peace, and restful, civil nations.

Reality is continual increases in teen pregnancy – 13, 14, 15, 16 year old mothers and fathers. Hope is higher self-esteem, healthier perspectives on sexuality, a decrease in pornography use, and safe sex or abstinence.

Reality is flooding in the Midwest along the Mississippi. Reality is fires in the West. Reality is parts of the south still suffering from Katrina and Rita. Hope is a government that is prepared for Mother Nature’s attacks, more relief workers and financial aid, provisions for the poor who can’t make a comeback, a deeper respect for our environment, and heeding the warnings of global warming.

We hear a lot about hope and change and sometimes it’s hard to swallow all that when we face reality every day.

And reality isn’t just about facts and figures and statistics and status-quo. Reality isn’t just economics and politics and environments. Reality is how we feel and what we think and how we will make it through the uncertainty of each day when our turn comes in the game of life. How do we manage delighting in the daylight with fears that come with nightfall? That’s reality too – the untangible reality – the feeling of awe at the birth of a child, the assumption of responsibility when peering into a Grand Canyon, the power of peace when peering at all the stars and solar systems in the evening sky.

But with much beauty comes much fear. So what’s the point of hope?

Is it just to make us feel better? Is hope the prozac of our spiritual angst? Is it the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down? Is hope what causes people in Pentecostal churches to jump up and down and fall over laughing? Is hope what keeps people giving to charity when we know we “will always have the poor” among us? Is hope what keeps us saying our prayers at night and doing meditations in the morning and yoga after work? Is hope what keeps us out of hell?

Well… yes.

Yes, yes, I’m not sure about the hell thing, and yes.

Because I think once we claim hope, once we agree with God that rescue is coming, that soon we will be done, and we warn the world to watch for us coming, this hope, this desire for change, for salvation, this hope becomes in us not an esoteric idea to be discussed in theology class, but a real, living, potentially-tangible, but certainly unexplainable something inside us. While Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see, at some point I believe that hope hope goes from being a concept to something concrete. Something we don’t understand but something we can feel.

God loves us. Hope has come.
We can make a difference. Hope has come.

Hope became Human. Something about God becoming a man, God becoming one of us, makes hope tangible. And some of us got to touch it. Some of us got to see the face of God incarnate, look into the eyes, touch the garment of the cloak, feel the wounds, wash the feet with tears, some of us were there. And the rest of us have the great stories God left for us. And we have the Spirit that moves in us and reminds us that hope has come.

Hope has come.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

So jump. Shout. Scream. Laugh. Cry. Study hard in school. Get involved in politics. Volunteer to help out in your community. Pay your taxes. Give even more money away willingly. Forgive your enemies. Pray for peace. Practice safe sex. And for the love of God, tell your friends about the hope you have in Jesus Christ. Tell your story of hope…

Frederick Buechner writes, “For Christians, hope is ultimately hope in Christ. The hope that he really is what for centuries we have been claiming he is. The hope that despite the fact that sin and death still rule the world, he somehow conquered them. The hope that in him and through him all of us stand a chance of somehow conquering them too. The hope that at some unforeseeable time and in some unimaginable way he will return with healing in his wings.”


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Theta Iota Rho...

Not many women probably say that they received a muumuu for their thirtieth birthday.

But I can.

Tonight, my roommate and I were lured to a friend's house under the pretense that said friend wanted to invite her Reverend friends over and discuss how one can help further the call of female ministers.

Ugh. A really busy week, but okay. I agreed to go to this a long time ago. So, we were off.

When we arrived, two other friends (non-reverends) were getting out of their car. This should have perhaps tipped me off. It didn't. I mean, don't most experts in Congolese government want to discuss women in ministry?

"Can I take your purse?" our host said. "No thanks, we're just heading off to have dinner anyway, I'll just keep it."

She took all the other purses to the back room.

Once inside, we waited for the third reverend to show up and when she did, I expected that we would be off. Instead we all just sat looking at our host who was exchanging glances with two other women in the room. "Should we tell them?" she asked.

The four of us not involved in the eye exchange (the three reverends and the Congo expert) exchanged glances of our own.

As it turned out, the four of us were not invited over to discuss the future of women in ministry (or to play dominoes as African Queen was told), rather we were invited by our "sisters" to celebrate belatedly, our thirtieth birthdays. Yep, All four of us had turned 30 within a month of each other and the sisters thought that rather than let us wallow in misery, they would invite us into the sisterhood of the over-thirty and offer their wisdom to us, and yes, initiate us into their club.

No wonder they took away the purses. They held our car keys and thus our means of escape. And as our hosts scurried into the back room to get ready for whatever they were up to, we realized I still had mine. "Hide it. We might need it!"

Now, I can't tell you all the workings of the Sisterhood, they're secret you know, but suffice it to say, we four initiates received "robes," wisdom, and even a plaque. We sang songs, were advised on crow's feet and encouraged to do something monumental and challenging in honor of this year, like say, run a marathon... riiiiiight.

But, truth be told, our friends made the thirties look really good. And for all the guffawing, we had some serious moments too: failure comes in this decade, unfulfilled expectations, health issues... It was a very tender, insightful time.

And afterwards, we all stood in a circle with arms crossed (right over left) holding on to each other's pinkies and heard that great poem by Jones (i think) about growing old and wearing purple. I love that poem.

And then we went to Luby's.

In the muumuus.

O god.

At least we wouldn't run into anyone we knew at Luby's. That was for sure.

But we still got plenty of looks. And two little kids who were leaving as we were coming, turned around and went out a different door. Geez. Did we look that bad?

Yes. Yes we did. Muumuu should be spelled Moo-Moo because most of us looked like fat cows. (I say most because one of us was granted a muumuu that was actually okay save for the wings underneith the armpits and one actually owned a muumuu and it was cute on her too).

Needless to say, I will not be posting pictures.

But thank god for surprise parties and friends and turning thirty.

This will be the best decade yet...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Beresheth Tonight

“Live into the paradox,” my professor in seminary used to say. I’m pretty sure we were arguing about free will juxtaposed with God’s providence. The old “did God make me do it?” question. Or it could have been a discussion over the fine line between works and faith. Fruit and no fruit. How salvation by grace works with a God who says you can tell who loves God by their fruit … but works don’t save you.

Tricky. Very tricky.

“I got your paradox right here…” I used to mumble beneath my breath. Such confusing conversations. No wonder theologians are always pictured with grey hair and spectacles, it’s maddening thinking about all these confusing topics and going around and around and around about them with your colleagues. And it’s not like they pulled this theological stuff out of thin air. I mean, it’s in the Bible. Most of these conversations are based on conversations that take place in the Bible. What do we interpret this story? What did Jesus mean by this? What is Paul saying when he wrote that?

“To lose your life is to find it” – please! “The last shall be first.” What does that even mean?

And beyond Jesus’ metaphors and hyperboles and parables, there are other confusing parts of our Christian faith too. I was trying to encourage myself yesterday by writing scripture down in a notebook when I should have been listening to a lecture when I realized I didn’t believe what I was writing. “You shall mount up on wings as eagles, you shall run and not grow weary, you shall walk and not grow faint.” While often embossed on a pillow or hung on your bathroom wall, this verse I discovered as I was re-writing it in my journal does not make me feel better. And why? Because I feel tired; I feel faint. Because I don’t feel like an eagle in the sky, I feel like the little rat on the ground that the beautiful, hungry eagle is about to swoop down and eat!

And as for prayer. O Lord! “Ask and ye shall receive” is about the biggest load of bullock I’ve ever heard. Everyone knows that prayer doesn’t work like that. There’s no formula, no guarantee. And unless we’re privileged in society, we usually end up disappointed anyway. And what if God doesn’t even want our petitions? What if that’s not what prayer is about? Why did Jesus say that then? Ask and ye shall receive…

And we’re back again to the mystery of God. For the ones that love God are not guaranteed an easy run of it. We aren’t all eagles flying freely in the sky. Some of us are stuck in a rut, in the valley… You’d think that a God who loved you might shower a little grace down your way. Living in poverty, getting a divorce, failing Chemistry, not finding a job, battling anorexia, wrecking your car, getting your girlfriend pregnant, losing your home, fighting addiction, dealing with depression – for the joy of the Lord being our strength, sometimes this world sure is hard.

I’m just saying…

But I suppose it’s at this point that all my know-it-all, goody-two-shoes Christian acquaintances would say, “Well, God only gives you what you can handle and while you may not feel like you see God’s grace in your life – you don’t know what God’s saving you from right this very minute! His grace is sufficient.” I know it’s sufficient theoretically… theologically… but that doesn’t mean I’m having a good day!” I want to scream back. “All I’m saying is that if God loves me He might want to shower me, His beloved child, with blessings or something! At least a boyfriend!”

Ah, but I am ridiculous and God is mysterious. And yes, life is hard. And I will have the same run of the mill life as you with or without God. It’s just that I get to go with God.

Some people may tell you the world is black and white, but don’t believe them. It’s grey. In fact, it’s better than grey, its chalk full of colors blending and mixing and complimenting and sometimes turning brown.

Our God is a mysterious God and She will not be boxed in, nor will She allow herself to get all figured out by some small-minded Americans.

I’m working out my faith right now. I admit it. Doug talked about tension in scripture last night at Midweek Moorings and I’m having a heck of a time in my personal life right now and sometimes the only confession I can get out of my mouth from my very weak but trying-to-be-faithful heart is, “God is mysterious, and I love Her.”

And I will try to walk humbly with God. I will believe in an amazing God that I don’t understand, an ancient text that I don’t always relate to and a Holy Spirit that I can’t always follow.

And I will live into the paradox, despite my desperate need for stability. And I will love God. Love the mystery of God. Love Jesus who oddly enough is God incarnate. Love the Spirit who breathes new life in me when I never deserve it.

Amazing grace.

I Hate Hail

Hail damage on car: $800+. Deductible: $1000. Getting your car repaired: No.

Hail damage on roof (but only on the metal tubes) $400+. Deductible: $1000. Getting your metal tubes repaired: No.

Hail damage on kitchen window: $160. Window coverage: $100. Getting your window replaced: Yes with the $100 check they wrote me. Does anyone know where I can get a new window for under $100?

Hail damage to tree in front yard: no clue. Insurance coverage: None. Getting the big ol' broken branch out of the tree: No idea. Any suggestions? No, a ladder won't reach it.

As if the hail storm weren't stressful enough with the sound and the trees falling and thinking I'd lost Zorba in the storm, crying and not sleeping all night, none of the damage to my "stuff" was "bad enough" to do anything except lose me money. I guess I should be thankful there wasn't more damage done. Except that the damage done isn't getting fixed cause I'm not paying for it all by myself. Which means my car and my house and my life are getting more ghetto by the minute.