Saturday, October 27, 2007

Emerging adulthood

To anyone working in ministry with 20 and 30 somethings, I highly reccommend Christian Smith's article "Getting a Life" in the Nov/Dec issue of Books and Culture. It's given me a lot to think about and hopefully will spark a whole series of related posts.

You can read the article here:

Item the first: The mere premise of the article came as a huge relief. The whole idea of "emerging adulthood," this extended, weird, in-between time . . . this difficult transition of coming to feel like an adult and expect to be acknowledged as one by someone 30 years my senior . . . The fact that these issues are not just not unique to my husband and me, but are in fact epidemic in our demographic means that we're not just making them up. They're real. How to think about these things, how to deal with them, how the church needs to minister in this context . . . all these thing hopefully forthcoming.

How to win the bean bag toss

So I took my kids to the annual elementary school Halloween carnival last night. One of the games is a bean bag toss where you throw the bean bags through holes in a decorated board. So I took three bean bags and was showing my 19-month old how to do it. Tossed one through a whole. She looked at the board. Looked behind the board. Saw the bean bag lying on the ground. I handed her a bean bag. She carefully walked behind the board and set it on the ground next to the other one. I showed her how to put the beanbag through the holes. She stuffed a few through. I clapped. then I held out the bowl of prize candy so she could choose one. She took a bag of malted milk balls . . . and stuffed them through the hole . . .

Monday, October 15, 2007


Okay, so this is sort of stupid. But it made me laugh, and isn't this so like what Jesus says about laying up eternal treasure? That we have not much clue about what is really worth what and Satan's constantly trying to cheat us out of the good stuff . . .

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Meme Non-Response

So my husband Rob tagged me for this meme that’s going around on the book "Unchristian". Gee, thanks, dear. You know just how much time I don’t have. The rules of the thing are to list three negative perceptions about Christians and name one thing that Christians ought to be known for. I started working my way back through the blogs of people who had participated, trying to consider what I wanted to say, and something started to bother me. I wasn’t sure what. It was one of those “something’s niggling on the back burner of my soul” type of things. When my intuition knows what I think but it hasn’t bothered to coalesce into words yet.

I started cutting and pasting. Going through blogs, taking what people had said on the meme, putting it all into one large document where I could look at it all together, even if my stupid dial-up connection decided to spaz out again from having more than three windows up at a time. Started to feel insufficient. A lot of bright and articulate people have replied to this thing. What did I have to add that hadn’t already said? Started to feel annoyed. The constraints of the meme seemed to demand that the answers people gave to the question “What ought Christians be known for?” would be vague, nebulous things. The sort of spiritual aspirations that sound great in as over-arching principles for everyone everywhere, but how do I tell if I’m doing that right now?

Which then gave way to my natural cynicism with the question: “If everyone who blogged in response to this meme had used that same amount of time to practice the things that they were blogging about, what would the results look like? Do we even know?” I saw some phenomenal answers to the last point of the meme, the positive, what Christians ought to be known for: Radical love, living what we believe, shalom, generosity. But how do we get there? How do we change the cultural perception of all Christians, everywhere? The only way possible. One Christian at a time. And that means you. That means me. It means that making sure something happens today in the one life I have any power over—my own.

So this is my response to the meme—I’m reversing it. You’ve all shown me that we know what the church ought to look like. At least, we know how she can look better than she does. So let’s start in on her make-over, beginning with our own lives. Look at the thing that you said that Christians ought to be known for and do something “above and beyond” this week to enact it. Love extravagantly or radically or ridiculously. Be a peacemaker. Work to bring harmony where there is discord. Make a point of donating that time or money to something that you’ve always meant to get around to donating to. Do it with the intentionality of serving Christ and in order to more be the sort of Christian that you want people to think of when they think about what Christians are like. And if you’d like to post about the results on your blogs, I’d love to read about it. By the grace of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, let’s see how much we can let God do in our lives.

I tag Rob.

Tag whoever tagged you and also whoever you tagged.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Anger, forgiveness, and spiritual maturity

I watch my 4 year old and 19 month old. The toddler holds out her prized stuffed animal to her big sister, showing off how incredibly wonderful Bunny is. The preschooler thinks Bunny is being offered, grabs it, and saunters off. The toddler panics, screams and clobbers her sister, rescuing the security Bunny. And the preschooler howls, justified, because her little sister can hit pretty hard and because, at age four, she knows that hitting is against the rules. And here I have, in a sense, two wronged children, both of whom were in the wrong and neither having done anything wrong. Both thought they were acting reasonably. Neither understood the other’s reaction. Both were hurt in the exchange. Both are angry. And what do I say? “Tell her you’re sorry. Give your sister a hug. She didn’t understand.” Not, note “you didn’t get hit that hard. Deal with it. What are you crying for anyway?” Nor: “Yeah, she hit you. Go ahead—hit her back.”

Which is all to say, I think that learning to forgive is part of growing up in Christ. Which from my POV is pretty cool. In forgiving, we practice letting go. We practice unselfishness. We practice looking for the bigger perspective. And we practice truth-saying. Because it is impossible to forgive a wrong that isn’t truly named in the first place. I can see myself growing that way. Getting bigger, wiser, more mature, and I don't think that it's just pride talking here. In order to fully grow up into the women that God wants us to be, we need to grow.

I think an awful lot of the time we’re like small feral children, blundering around with each other, trying to protect our own little security bunnies of pride, wealth, ego, etc. My seven year old knows enough to not try take Bunny out of the toddler’s sight. She understands that there’s only so much she can expect from a 19 month old when Bunny is threatened. That’s a step of maturity. And eventually, the toddler will grow up enough that she won’t have to haul Bunny everywhere. But she’s not there yet, nor can I expect it. But I can start to teach even her forgiveness. “Look. Your sister didn’t understand. Here’s Bunny back. He’s fine. I’m sorry you got scared.” Heaven forbid that Bunny ever gets lost in the airport.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Coffee Randoms

The pop-hiss penetrates
dreams of sex, dogs, and undercover missions
a moment before the thick pungency
tickles one nostrilprods a single eyelid open to
shut. Fifty watts piercing
an undilated pupil.
I listen to my pot sputter
and complain, and think about not
getting up,
drifting on
undulating aromas, across time
and space--E-mc2, Star Trek
sling shot effect--
At forty degrees chill crawls
up my blue jeans. The feeble fire isn't
any good, and my sweatshirt
is insufficient.Seven-thirty, and bluck sludge arrives
bearing heat.

I don't want to crawl out
from under my itchy warm
wool blanket.

Eleven A.M., I wander down
familiar stairs
to grab the last mug
left for me, warming
and drink it with the crossword

I want to get up when I get up.
Whipping bitter chill turns
ears painfully present until I
step through double doors
to organic chemistry--
the oxygen steals electron density from
the hydrogengives it a delta plus
making aldehydes highly reactive--
I sip steaming lifeblood,
bitter heat burning my tongue
struggling to stay awake in
the deepest, softest

My bed is awfully wonderfully soft.

"You smell like coffee," my
boyfriend's roommate tells me,
the way someone would say
"You smell like cigarettes."

The smell soaked into
the carpet by the third week of school,
along with a couple of
Rorschach coffee-blots.

I blink hard and
the clock still reads
four thirty-seven, A.M.
My tears sting
I consider the stacks of homework--three
classes down, two to go on my side;
two down and a paper to go for
my roommate who is staring
at her computer.
"Ready for the next pot?"

My half concious muscles protest but
I roll out of bed
my bare feet hit silky-synthetic carpet
catch my own scent
and pour half a pot of coffee in
my Bengal tiger mug.
The heat soaks through my fingers
and a stray drip hisses on the warmer