Saturday, March 17, 2012

Where I've Been: What I've Learned

I've been to Kozy's Pizza, where I learned how to swear creatively; sing along with P!nk; make seven different steak subs at once; work 12 hour shifts. I learned how to talk about Jesus; I learned how to NOT evangelize anyone EVER because it is SCARY.

I've been to New England Camp Cherith, where I learned how to shoot weapons; make 13 year olds believe I was cool; preach a sermon; light a campfire. I learned how to be a Christian; I learned that Christianity was sort of a big deal.

I've been to UNH where I learned that there were other people in the world who liked to argue until they were out of breath; that there were other people who really really wanted to know what made reality tick; that  I didn't have to take crap like "you think too much" from people; that Christianity maybe didn't make sense, philosophically and that that was complicated DON'T THINK ABOUT IT.

I've been to Montana where I learned that if you want peace, it's going to have to be inner; that if you want friends, you're going to have to know what makes a good friend; that if you want to be skinny, you can't eat Lucky Charms five or six or seven times a day; that if you want to look cool, you'll probably have to give up doing everything that you love and it definitely won't be worth it.

I've been to L'Abri where I learned that sitting with questions is more important than having answers; that reality is what happens when all the technology dies; that real friends are worth fighting for but sometimes not worth dying for; that Jesus is more solid than anything else in the world;  that until you stop trying to make something happen nothing real will ever happen.

I've been to a monastery and learned that you really only need toast and apples to survive; that music is better when it's rare; that really life is best with a book and tea and sunlight; that Europe is nice but America is home.

I've been to Kentucky and am still learning.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


here is what i used to send through the washer:

bobby pins, spare change, candy wrappers, receipts, tissues, pens

here is what gets sent through the washer now:

bobby pins, candy wrappers, pens, construction staples, thin slices of vinyl siding, pieces of door hinges, stub ends of construction pencils, drill bits, hay, bits of gravel, tiny screws, big screws, trim nails, roofing nails, decking nails, allen wrenches, and safety glasses.

god help the washing machine.

Monday, March 12, 2012

rambles, letters, boggarts

this started out as a little intro to another blog post that started out as a letter, but it's a thought on its own, so here it is.

i've found that i think and process much better when i'm writing letters than when i'm trying to blog. i think it's partly because i'm trying to communicate something important to me to someone important to me - i have something that i want them to know and to understand. i'm not "writing", i'm trying to share a little piece of me with them. i have them in my head while i write. blogging and writing personal essays has always been really challenging for me (more so than academic essays or letters), because i'm not always sure why i'm writing what i'm writing. i can't find a "tone" and end up being really flippant or really pompous. it never sounds or feels like me. it has the distinct, stale aftertaste of make-believe.

i guess that this all comes down to the "authentic self" and where exactly that self is located. i hope that it's at least "hidden with christ" but when you step out of your prayer closet into the world - does your authentic self stay hidden in the closet while you act whatever part the present audience seems to like the best?

this pulls around to my boggart analogy (because i'm never going to be too old or too self-righteous or too cool to use harry potter metaphors). a boggart is a magical being that assumes the shape that the person facing it will fear the most. but the problem is that when it's in a room with a lot of people, it gets confused and CRACK! changes from CRACK! thing to CRACK! thing to thing until it pretty much blows up from confusion.

does anyone here feel like a boggart some days? you walk in a room with a lot of people, and you aren't sure what person you're supposed to be for them all so CRACK! you start changing until you sort of blow up. but that's not a problem if you take your authentic self out of the closet when you leave.

there have been very, very few people in my life that i have breathed a sigh of relief around, because finally i am not a confused and lonely boggart but a real, robust, complete human that i recognize as the self christ sees. and when i write them letters, or walk with them, or drink coffee, or sit with them and listen to adele, there's nothing that i have to be except - me, with all my silliness and selfishness and funkiness.

but i don't write yet out of that centeredness. i'd like to.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

affirmation baggies

our house has a line of paper bags stuck up on the wall, all in a row, with the name of a housemate on each one. they are our "affirmation baggies", and whenever anyone wants to say something nice or encouraging or comforting to someone else, you write it on a pretty notecard or a sticky note or the back of an envelope and stick it in the baggy. last week we had the first week of Workfest, which is when all the alternative spring break kids get down here and help us build houses and learn about appalachia and have a lot of fun. we gave them all affirmation baggies, too, so at the end of the week everyone on the crew had little notes of praise and encouragement and love bursting out of our bags. and it was, actually, really encouraging reading them after the kids had left, and knowing that what i did that week affected them in some way.

today in church we started singing, and i was thinking about affirmation baggies, and then i wondered if our praise and worship isn't sort of like index cards into god's affirmation baggy. he doesn't need affirmation, but he likes it, just like we do. and there's nothing wrong with us enjoying being praised - and nothing wrong with god loving our praise, too. it's a gift we can gift him (back to gifts!).

so today i got to stuff affirmations into god's baggy, and it just seemed so much more healthy than going into worship trying to feel good or be lifted up or inspired. i was there to give god a gift - i hope he was as happy with his bursting baggy as i was with mine last week.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

gifts and obscenities

this was originally a letter i wrote to a friend, but it's pretty much what i want to say about this, so i'll keep it.

I'm reading a beautiful book right now called "Free of Charge: Giving and Receiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace." Essentially, it's about gifts. Giving gifts, receiving gifts, gifts from God. It's made me look at a lot of things differently - for instance, I've been thinking about my volunteer house. And of course, L'Abri, because everything kind of makes me think about L'Abri.

One of my favorite memories of L'Abri was when one of the workers told me that I could swear as much as I wanted while I was there. It sounds silly, but I was pretty angry, confused, and lost when I landed in Greatham, and when Esther passed the ketchup and told me that I didn't have to change my vocabulary to be welcome, it was, ridiculously, transformational.

Well, here at my volunteer house we are not allowed to swear. And it drove me crazy at first. I don't like institutions much (this is another story that I've been recently discovering and will share soon) and I don't like institutions that restrict my behavior. (The no-drinking thing is its own kettle of fish that I will also tell in another story).  But I've been thinking about it recently, and I've been particularly thinking about the concept of "being offended," since the official reason that we don't swear at the volunteer house is because it might offend someone. Now this is all well and good, because it's important to respect people and honor their boundaries however we can. But as I've been reading this book about gifts, I've been thinking more about "political correctness" and "offending" people, and I've been wondering if there is something that's missing.

Maybe "not being offended" isn't a right that we are all born with - it's a gift that one person, in love, gives to another. When I choose not to swear around someone more sensitive, I am giving him a gift. It's a love offering from me to him. But when he treats it as a right, then it's annoying as hell. When a parent treats your "best behavior" in the house as a right that  is owed to them, instead of a gift that is freely given out of love, then it's a commodification of what should be a free-will exchange. Similarly, when Esther gave me permission to curse my wee little heart out at L'Abri, she was giving me a gift. She said that it was all right to be me, in all my offensive crudity. Unfortunately, at the time, I took it as a right. But it was a love offering, too.

So how can both sides be a gift? Well, I think that maybe every time we show grace to someone we are giving them a free gift. And sometimes other people give us that gift and we receive it, and sometimes we give the gifts to other people. It's a perpetual momentum of gift giving and accepting.

The illness of our society, I think, is this demand for things. We demand political correctness and compassion and non-offensiveness - all good things! - but the demand itself negates the beauty of what love is. It's a gift, not a right. When we demand it, we're stripping away what makes it so beautiful. How many people doyathink walk around all day enraged at being offended, but never appreciating when someone doesn't offend them? I guess it's a perspective thing. Maybe we should go through the day expecting to give grace to other people (to be givers), and then when other people give grace to us (and we can become receivers) then we can be delighted and receive that love as a gift.

So this is what has been on my heart lately. I hate being so easily offended. I'm going to try and see love as more of a gift and less of an obligation.

Friday, March 2, 2012


Jackson House spent *ahemwaytoomuchtimeahem* (in my opinion) standing on the porch watching the dark cloud roll in - CNN playing on a loop of storm chaser footage - the weather radio blasting high pitched frequencies and beeps and automated voices saying things like "stay away from winDOWS" - everyone's laptops buzzing with radar maps and weather blogs - then our tornado watch changed to a tornado warning, and we went into survival mode.

Survival mode in Jackson House means filling the bathroom with Temperpedic mattresses; filling the bathroom closet with Milky Way Minis, fruit, and Cliff bars; everyone loading up bags with passports, Social Security cards, important pictures, and the most expensive things we own (me: contact lenses and GPS); and all nine of us snuggling down with our weather radio and The Bourne Identity. It got really hot in the bathroom, and we all ate too much candy.

It looks like damage in Kentucky wasn't as bad as it could have been, or as they were predicting. It was looking pretty sketchy there for awhile.

Also, New England doesn't do silly things like have tornadoes. Time to be heading back soon? We'll see.

How nice

Nothing as cozy as driving down the road and seeing a dead coyote hanging from its back leg from a tree in someone's yard.

Some days, Kentucky seems stranger than others.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


"If someone spits on the road in Kentucky, and it freezes, schools are cancelled." - A Kentucky Saying, related to me by the librarian today 

I would like to saw that this is an exaggeration, but I feel like it's really not. 1/4 of an inch will have every county in a three hour radius shut down.

Partly, this is silly. Especially coming from New England and watching UNH buses in ditches on the side of the road while five feet of slushy, icey, wintery mix piles up and schools waffles and hedge and haw and then compromise with a "2 HOUR DELAY". Curtailed operations were just a beautiful dream to be awoken from at 8am by your alarm clock, to clean two feet of snow off your car and follow three salt trucks and two plows down backroads to show up late to a class that started right on time, as usual. Bummer.

So sometimes Kentucky seems ridiculous. All schools closed, CAP vehicles grounded, nobody leave their houses because there is ONE AND A HALF INCHES OF SNOW EVERYWHERE! NOBODY PANIC! EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL!

But conversely, the roads here are so crazy, narrow, and windy that it actually does get super dangerous to drive on them. I heard (also from the librarian) that a couple years ago ABC News made a jab at Jackson County on national TV for having one of the highest school closing rates for snow in the country. And then they sent a crew down here, and drove them down some "hollers" with 180 degree curves on the edge of mountains dropping into ravines, slick with that much-mocked 1/8 of an inch of snow - and ABC retracted their apology.

So all this to say that yeah, we skipped church this morning, because "snow was coming in." Me and L, from Wisconsin, swapped stories about how back in the day, back home, we would never ever skip anything because of snow, forget about potential snow. We're becoming real Kentuckians!

Monday, February 13, 2012


Today Steve flipped the switch in the closet and the light went on!

It went on because me and T had strung hundreds of yards of yellow wiring through the beams in the ceiling; because we drilled holes in studs and strung wires from room to room to room to room, nailing them to studs awkwardly with sideways hammers; because we stripped out the ends of the wires and fastened together black wires and white wires and connected up ground wires, and coiled them all back up in the little box that we also had to hammer in; because we stripped wires and coiled the edges around little screws on the sides of the light switches and painfully tries to twist hard wire into tiny spaces; because we crawled on ladders in little spaces and screwed above our heads to hook up funny colored wires to funny colored screws inside a funny shaped light fixture; because we put in light bulbs.

That's where the magic came from. Not magic at all - just a lot wires and screwdrivers and funny angles and frustrating spaces.

But alternatively, I feel like dancing around the lights like Tom Hanks in Castaway, bellowing "SEE WHAT I HAVE CREATED!"

Saturday, February 11, 2012


What do you do when shit hits the fan?

Be thankful. All the time.

About what, Mary C?

Everything. Anytime. If you're bored, be thankful - lonely, be thankful - fat, be thankful - angry, be thankful - resentful, be thankful - tired, be thankful.

What does that mean, in real life, Mary C? "This paint is getting all over the ceiling, what a pain" - so do I thank God that I have arms to paint at all?

No, it doesn't have to relate to the thing you hate, or the person you're angry at, or the situation that is making you lonely. It doesn't mean intentionally finding the good in a bad situation. It just means, whatever you do, just be thankful. Thank God for the fact that there is a sky. That music is real, that emotions are good. Thank God for Harry Potter; for improved handwriting; for peppermint patties; for Calvin and Hobbes; for living in a house with a piano; for Michelle Obama; for warm February days; for Jayne hats; for telephones; for the ability to go running.

And thank God for that while you're bored out of your mind putting up siding, or resentful about a friend, or achingly lonely. Just thank God. Thanks for everything, Jesus.

This is important because it puts everything into God's perspective. Now you aren't seeing the world from your POV, you're switched. You've entered into God's reality. You have transcended your own little moment of misery or self-indulgence or pride or boredom and remembered what is true about the world:

that God is good, that He gives good gifts, and that HE LOVES.

And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazel nut , lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, 'What may this be?' And it was answered generally thus,'It is all that is made.' I marvelled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nought for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.

In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second that he loves it. And the third, that God keeps it.
- Julian of Norwich

Friday, February 10, 2012

Two Cats

I got to run the Bobcat last week at work! We were filling up our porch floor with cement, and Steve had to level out the cement and make it all fancy and flush and whatever else he was doing with that framing square and 2x4. So I got to drive the 'Cat back and forth across the 12 inch deep mud that was Kentucky yellow clay (I probably will never get it out of my clothes, and definitely will never get it out from under my fingernails), filling the bucket up with cement from the truck, then dumping it into the porch frame thing we had made with concrete blocks.

It was so super awesome! First of all, because there is a lot of power in that tiny little machine. When you whirl and push all of the levers and gears to make it turn around, you can feel it pushing against the mud it's stuck in and pushing itself right out. Amazing. Secondly, it was nice to be at work and using my brain. It's hard to keep track of what all the levers do, and remember which way makes the bucket go up and which way makes it go down. (This is really important when hauling cement!). So I made little jingles that I repeated under my breath in the cab: "HEEL-UP TOE-DOWN HEEL-UP TOE-DOWN!" and didn't dump out a single load of cement in the wrong place! There were def some moments where I thought that I might knock Steve out by lifting up the empty bucket too energetically, but we both made it through alive.

The cement dude was super-duper nice, too. Every time I wheeled the Bobcat back to his truck, he grinned and gave me a thumbs up - then halfway through, he got out of his truck and gave us all peppermints! It's silly how a little thing like that can really make the whole day shiny. Above and beyond, Mr. Cement Dude.

But the best part was later, when it was starting to get really chilly, and my fingers were really numb and starting to hurt from the wind, so while he was pouring cement from his pour-spout into my bucket, I blew on my fingers a little and sat on them to try and get the blood flowing. When I came back for more cement, he crawled out of his cab and gave me a pair of black cotton gloves. "I know it can get real cold working that machinery!" he told me. "You go ahead and keep those! And keep up the good work! You're doing great for your first time on it!"

Blessings all around.

But this isn't the end of the story of The Cat. Because this story is not about one cat, but two cats.

Because after meticulously leveling the cement; after scraping all the edges of the porch with strange metal tools; after running trowels around the inside edge to give the cement a nice soft corner; after brushing the top of the cement with a special broom to give it grooves:

we showed up the next morning to a set of dainty pussy cat footprints that stretched from one corner of the porch to the other.

It was hard to stop Steve from heading to the hills to track down and kill the offending critter.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dial a Deal

There is a radio program on Kentucky radio called Dial a Deal, where nice people can call in and announce on the radio what they want or what they need. It's like the original Craigslist except much more fun. People sell their old freezers, beans from their gardens, and shovels; people call in looking for guard dogs, tires for trucks, and moonshine. (Legit. This happened.)

A couple times during Dial a Deal we get TRIVIA QUESTIONS! which are sometimes local ("What is the courthouse in McKee made of?") and sometimes more broad ("What is the state bird of South Carolina?"). If you win you get your pick of whatever 12 pack of soda tickles your fancy, to pick up at your convenience at the local Fill-Ups.

Today's question was historical. "What famous English sea captain first spotted the state of Washington in the 16th century?"

In all fairness, I had no clue what the answer was. But also in all fairness... I was pretty sure that the answer was not Long John Silver, Captain D, or Captain Kirk, all three of which were guessed when the phone lines started ringing at JR Richard's office. Buahahahaha.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

bearing burdens

some thoughts from Christmas break.

bearing burdens, big Egg boxes and Home Depot and, long and narrow umbrella shapes and shoe shaped and yes, egg shaped. Christmas in a box, from the have-muches in California and Wisconsin and Maine to the have-lesses in Kentucky, and they are full of Barbie dolls and pocket knives and Axe body wash and everything that makes Christmas nice.

so many boxes! huge boxes weight 12 pounds and wee little boxes make my back crack. you bend down to heft up this ginormo box and it's like picking up an empty milk carton and feeling it fly up in the air because you used too many muscles. and then when you balance three of these feather boxes, everyone is so super impressed with your massive muscles. but you aren't using muscles at all. and then when you are bent all over double with a tiny shoe box full of bullets or gravel or whatever the hell they put in it, people are probably thinking (if they bothered to think about it) that you should at least be carrying three or four shoeboxes because they don't know that your box is full of bullets!

So life. We all watch each other carry around our crap. Sometimes it is very large, sometimes it is very small. We judge each other's crap, and we judge how much crap other people can carry gracefully. But we don't know how heavy it is. We don't know if the Big Crap that she has is a box of gravel or a box of feather pillows. We don't know if that shoebox has shoes or wrenches. So we judge people and how strong they are or how fast they move based on the size of the burden that they're carrying, but really, we don't know how heavy the burden is. It's wisest not to waste time judging other people's burdens at all, I think.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

run for all that is holy!

today i got off the couch, put on my running gear, shoved my ipod into a sock, and ran out into the rain.

here is what happened when i ran further than three miles for the first time in two years, and here is what i learned while i ran them.

mile 1: eeeeeeeeeh i am so wet and so cold and so slow and damnit, tim is passing me because he is running too and he's running so faaaaaaaast eeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhhhh.

mile 2: waaaah, i'm blind because my glasses are all wet and my ipod is playing "i will walk by faith, even when I cannot see" which makes me suspicious that jesus is laughing at me.

mile 2.1: glasses off. useless anyway. i will go for three miles and then i will go back home and go back to bed.

mile 2.4: more ipod mockery. "god of creation, take my breath away.' mr. crowder, when your breath is literally taken away, you will not sound so smug about it.

mile 2.5: tim is passing me again. WARNING! "that crazy black dog that's chained up by the dip in the road is untied today!" oy vey! i will run in the other direction with great alacrity!

mile 3:  i like running without my glasses! i am in a running super zen. i can't really see anything, but i'm running. i can feel myself moving, and i don't think i've noticed that before. i'm in a weird running zone where nothing really exists except me and my heart and my legs and cold rain on my hot face and lots of fuzzy, beautiful colors everywhere. there are so many sensations and so very few thoughts. i am going to go for 4 miles today!

mile 4: "your love flows like water rushing over me" - another phrase sounds a lot better in a song than it feels in real life.

mile 4.5: wherein i learn that no matter how hard it rains, you still can't catch enough water in your open mouth to stave off dehydration.

mile 5: well, now i have done five miles. but this is not as far as i could go if i kept running. if i keep running, then i''ll go farther. logically, it's valid.

mile 6: road feet rain dry mouth wet hair thump thump jennifer knapp road feet breathe in breathe out road rain WOOF WOOF! wet hill mud road rain thump thump isthatstumpabear? road feet rain

mile 6.5: oh. holy. son. of. road. can't. oh. crap. oh. crazy. legs. come. on. COME. ON. FOR. THE. LOVE. OF. ALL. THAT. IS. BEAUTIFUL.

mile 7 - i am queen of all that i behold. 

mile 0: on the couch. they can bring me my food here all weekend. pretty sure i won't ever move again. three cheers for recreational running: running neither to something nor from something! the heights of ridiculousness and the pinnacle of meaninglessness! but it seems like the act of conquering the body - reigning it in, harnessing its often surprising amount of power, and using it -  seems to have meaning in and of itself. Bring it.

"If you are going to win any battle, you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do... The body is never tired if the mind is not tired." -General George S. Patton

Friday, January 27, 2012


if some nice old lady tells you that "You're real stout! I used to pack that much, too!" she is really saying "You're real strong! I used to be able to carry that much, too!"

Some other nice Kentuckyisms:

"Tomorrow it'll pour the rain for sure" = It'll pour

"Call me if you don't care" = Call me if you don't mind

"You'uns" = South: "Ya'll," New England: "Everyone"

Thursday, January 26, 2012

's a small world after all

"Jim Scott is coming to do the plumbing inspection later this week,"

"Jim Scott, family runs that store on the edge of 89 and 2004? His brother-in-law was just by my place cleaning the gutters,"

"Yeah, his daddy and mine used to hunt together back in the day,"

"Mmmhmm, way-uhl, get that inspection done and I'll have Mac's dry-wallers come by later on then,"

"Mac's a great guy, married my wife's li'l sister back in '89,"

"Yup, that was a great wedding, over on the Grady farm, they'uns sold that years ago,"

"Yessir, think they sold it to Derek John's uncle if'un I recall,"

"Shady deal, that was a shady deal, I told Derek not to touch that place, but ever since he caught up with my niece he's been impossible to talk sense to,"

"Your niece and Derek? I thought your niece was still going with Jim Scott."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


"in repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and rest is your strength."

quietness is my word for 2012.

what is quietness? not silence because silence is a negative thing. you're silent when you have nothing to say or when there isn't any music on or when the lawnmower next door finally shuts off. silence is absence. quietness is presence. the presence of active waiting, active stillness, active peace. quietness is what is created after silence is carved out. sometimes quietness even has noise in it.

i think that quietness is Spiegel im Spiegel  with a cup of tea and How Green Was My Valley.

quietness is walking with a friend and listening to spring with each other instead of talking.

quietness is turning off the television.

quietness is listening without judgment or fear when you're being criticized.

when you're rejected by people, and you take the time to breathe and understand that it's them, not you - you are quiet. when you have good news that other people don't have, and you keep it inside because that's OK, too, you're quiet.

quiet happens at night when you stop worrying and give your mind permission to fall asleep. quiet happens when you stop letting other people define and identify you, and sit at peace with the identity that Christ has stamped on your forehead. quiet happens when you know who you are.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I Say Philosopher, You Say - Evangelical!

"Switching denominations is anti-ecumenical" - Utopian Dreams

If you really believe that denominations all point to Christ, and you switch denominations, then you are searching for something besides Christ.

I flirted with a lot of different denominations last year, and fell in love, particularly, with the concepts behind Catholicism and Anglicanism. I spent a month in an Anglican monastery and ooooh my goodness, it was beautiful.

So I went to an Episcolean church here for a month, but -

Kathleen says regularly that we need to listen to God's voice wherever God speaks to us. So I waited patiently for God to speak to me in a brilliant, historical Episcopalian service - I waited for God's spirit to move in me in during the liturgical worship - I waited for the theologically intricate message to reveal deep, unspoken truths to my soul.

I spent a lot of time waiting.

Then I visited a Pentecostal Evangelical church. And damnit, if God didn't speak to me during some silly, dancing in the aisle, anti-intellectual song that repeated the chorus 14 times and said "I FEEL! I FEEL!" again and again, and was everything that I have trained my philosophical brain to hate.

So God speaks to me through Evanglicalism. So what?

Maybe we are called to grow where God places us. I want to go to a "cool" church that I can murmer "mmm! mmm! Yes! We can't discard the historicity of the Trinitarian belief any more than we can move on from our pseudo-Germanic roots as a nation!"

Called to Evangelical.

I disagree with so much of the Evangelical church. I feel antsy when they talk about church history, evolution, politics, Biblical interpretation and literalism, women, and homosexuality. 

But the truth is, I've found that the Evangelical church is full of love, grace, and compassion. I believe that the tenants of Evangelicalism - rooted in absolute personal devotion to the person of Jesus Christ, absolute belief in the reality and importance of the Bible, and the centrality of being involved in the world socially and politically - are beautiful and true. Sure, I disagree with how many Evangelicals believe "absolute authority" translates, and I disagree with how many Evangelicals have chosen to become involved in politics. But the spirit, intention, enthusiasm, and purpose is there. And I'm a Christian because of Jesus, and Jesus finds me in the stadium seating of a carpeted mega-church.

Maybe those of us that are raised in denominations that we come to hate and reject need to think about what "ecumenical" means to us. Maybe we are called to where we are placed, and maybe we are called to transform it. I read The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, and when I finished it, I felt confirmed that I'd never go back to the Evangelical church.

But what happens to the church if all the philosophy majors leave Evangelicalism for Catholicism and Lutheranism and Episcopalianism? For that matter, what if the charismatic worshipers leave Anglicanism for Pentacostalism, and what if all the anarchists and revolutionaries leave Catholicism for Unitarianism, and what if the feminists leave the Baptist churches and join the UCC?

I guess that sometimes people have to get out of an oppressive place (I'm not exactly sure what a feminist would do in a Baptist church, quite frankly), but I think that it should be the last case scenario. Instead of going where we're most comfortable, maybe (maybe) we should try and bring our perceptions and ideas into the church that God placed us in. I think of my activist anarchist friend who is steadily fighting for justice in the Catholic church, and I praise God for him. And I think of my gay friend who is quietly fighting for equality in the Evangelical church, and I praise God for her. Would it be easier for both of them to boot it over to a denomination that already accepts their POV and identity? Sure. But I think that both of them bring grace and truth into the denominations that God has placed them in, and that that grace and truth can only be brought by them.

So I guess that I'll keep being a philosophy major noisily fighting for intellectual discourse in the Evangelical church. Can you be a non-Biblical-literalist feminist philosopher and survive in a Kentucky Pentecostal Evangelical church? I dunno. The Evangelical tradition has a lot to teach me still about grace, humility, patience, and Jesus Christ, and I would hate to leave it now. Even as a philosopher feminist.


My New Years resolution was to blog three times a week. I've started late, but I want to keep it up this time. I've disconnected my blog from Facebook, so this is the last time I'll link from the FB. I'm changing my blog again - it was too stressful pulling work anecdotes out of thin air, and storytelling isn't really my favorite thing, either. So I'm just going to ramble, for my own sake, to keep my writing veins from freezing. I want to keep it up until May, when I leave Kentucky. It's my thirty minutes of exercise, except it's for the words in my word cupboard. If I keep them in the cupboard all winter, they won't be very good for hiking in the summer - totally out of shape, flabby thighs and all.

Hope some of you are still around! Love hearing from you when you are.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Monastery Reflections: 11

Monastery Reflections from my time there last April

There's no entertainment here. So little things are delightful. While we stood silently behind our chairs before breakfast this morning, we saw rabbits outside on the hill. It was lovely! I could have watched for hours! And this happens every day - yesterday there was a sunset, the night before the moon was out. There's a tree, there's a bird, there's a ladybug on my blade of grass. How have I never seen any of this?