Sunday, April 29, 2007
I wasn't sure how many people would be out to watch, but there were a few. I had a few friends specifically who I knew were running and I was keeping an eye out for. The race started at 6:30 this morning and I was going to watch at mile 25, so I went out about 9am. I missed the fastest finishers, but that was okay.
The whole experience was quite moving. There were quite the variety of participants. There were the full marathoners, the half-marathoners, and relay teams. By the colors of their numbers you could tell who was who. It also designated who were first time marathon runners. There were also those running for a variety of causes. Several runners came through carrying flags of the different branches of the armed services (yes, carrying a full sized flag on a pole through a marathon). Two soldiers in full fatigue uniforms and packs were going through the course (photo below). Several schools (including OC), business, and non profits were out (Relay for Life had a great showing). Since it is the Oklahoma City bombing memorial marathon, there were many people wearing signs that read, "Running in honor of ________". Ages ranged from high schoolers to 70 year olds. This will sound terrible, but I was amazed how many old people were out there! :) I don't know how you can be 65 and up and do a marathon still! And look good doing it!
There were also a variety of athletic abilities represented. Since I was near the end (and also at the top of a hill), I saw the spectrum. Some were finishing strong. Others obviously had serious cramps or blisters. There were tears. There were friends helping each other. There were smiles when we told them they had 25 miles behind them. :)
It was a great experience. So many participants were so grateful for us being out there to cheer, but really they did my heart a lot of good and inspired me to tackle some dreams of my own. However, I did suffer a minor injury. When I got home I had the worst crick in my EVER. I still have it. I guess three hours of clapping might do that to you. :) Congrats to everyone involved!
Saturday, April 28, 2007
The primary texts used to explain the view Churches of Christ (and other churches, of course) have towards women's roles are letters from Paul to the church in Corinth and Timothy (I Corinthians 14:26-40 and I Timothy 2). I'm going to try to keep this as short as I can, because sometimes your point can get lost in too many words.
Let's look at these passages. The interpretation used here by people who believe women should remain silent is a very surface-level, literal one. People read this and think, "Well, it seems simple if you just read what it says." And it does seem that way. But If you look to even the surrounding verses, I think it becomes clear that it can't be interpreted simply.
Take the I Timothy passage. The related passage begins in verses 11-14 about quietness, submission, and authority, but then takes a somewhat strange detour in verse 15 stating that "women will be saved through childbearing". At that point I think it becomes clear that there is more to this passage than meets the eye. Because if we continue to read with that simplistic interpretation , then we must then deduct that the salvation of a woman depends upon whether or not she has children-- beyond that it seems as though she must physically bear the children to be saved.
One friend said that in reading this, he would rather be more stringent in following this passage (referencing raising hands in prayer and not "dressing to impress"), and I completely agree on those points. But I don't know anyone who would agree that only women who have physically given birth to a child will be saved. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, this would eliminate quite a few women from even the option of being saved-- pre-pubescent, unmarried, the infertile or those married to infertile men, etc etc. I am not trying to be crass or claiming to have some great understanding, but just trying to point out the flaw of the hermeneutic.
To briefly touch on the passage in I Corinthians 14, I think that if you look at the context, you'll see that the entire passage is relating to a worship service that I think most Christians would find pretty foreign today, complete with the speaking of tongues, multiple prophecies, revelations, and everyone leading their favorite song. :) Again, not claiming to have superior understanding, just pointing out the inconsistency of the interpretation.
I have a few more things to say about women's roles, and I'll get to them soon. But here are some great resources I think you should check out if you're interested.
Mike Cope, from Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, gave a great lesson on the subject of women's roles when their church announced that they were going to push towards gender justice in their church. His sermon is located here. http://highlandchurch.org/dl/32.mp3
Gal328.org, Gender Justice and Churches of Christ is a great resource for people and churches looking to learn more about the importance of women being allowed to share their gifts.
PS-- Some people have told me they've tried to leave comments but they don't show up, and I really don't know why that's happening. Just don't want you to think I'm censoring you or anything. :)
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
My old Japanese stomping ground. Mashiko Heights was my apartment building, and Namekawa Cho Gakko was the school I worked at.
Eu deixei meu coração aqui. This is Itu. Please note that when I broke my toe, I had to walk from the "Portal Bus Stop" to the "Gonçalves´ House". Yeah, now you feel my pain!
Aaaaeeee, que triste! :(
This is for my dad and great-aunt and whoever else in the family reads the blog. :)
What a cool toy, huh?!?! It's the strangest thing; I look at those roads and buildings and I honestly feel like I'm at any one of those places again.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I love spring, in case I haven't mentioned it here. Each couple of weeks brings some new blooming plant, and it's such a renewable joy in my life. Here are the mystery plants that were beginning to grow in my front yard when I moved in:
My next door neighbors who apparently don't live there (I've never seen anyone actually at the house) have a beautiful backyard, wildly growing garden. There are several big rosebushes blooming right now. I felt at liberty to take pictures because it hangs into my back yard:
And for vanity's sake--
Also, I'm pretty sure my mother would be the only one who cares to see this, but here are pictures of my bedroom since I have semi decorated it.
I think it's pretty! The color scheme is tan/beige/cream and lavender. I even "made" my curtains myself!
Alright, I'll try to get back to the hermeneutics stuff soon. I hope my mom enjoyed this. :)
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I've seen churches thrown into a tizzy when a 10 year old boy is baptized, because suddenly the grown woman who has been teaching his Sunday school class must submit to his authority.
I've seen the room checked and double checked before a women gets up to speak at a Ladies' Day event, just to make sure there are no men in the room.
I've seen women flounder at the idea of praying out loud because they've never been given the chance to practice.
I've seen my alma mater implement a thing called "convocation" to follow the last amen of chapel, in order that women may speak, whether on topics spiritual or otherwise.
I've seen an eldership ask the father of my friend to speak on her behalf about her mission experience rather than allowing her to speak for herself.
I've seen a group of my friends and sisters in Christ cry as they honestly described how growing up "submissively" led them to wonder if God loved them as much as men and if they're really as valuable as men in the Kingdom of God. And I've wondered that myself.
There are things people dispute in religion that I honestly don't care much about. Musical instruments, praise teams, kitchen or no, and although I have opinions on those things, I'd never "fight" for them. Gender justice is important to me, because as the last example shows, I think it begins to form how women believe God views them.
One last example.
My church has these classes for kids, maybe in the sixth grade or something. The boys go to Timothy class and the girls go to Lydia class. One Sunday night each year is devoted to letting them demonstrate the things they've learned. For girls, this means they stand up for about 3 minutes while a man (not even their teacher) reads off the list things they've studied, while the rest of the evening is young men delivering mini-sermons, leading singing, reading scripture, or praying. What do you think the girls are taught about their importance in the church through this experience? What do you think a lifetime of experiences like this teaches?
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
They’ll call you right, they’ll call you left,
they’ll call you names of all your friends.
You never know what you’ll have to do.
Baby don’t let ‘em, don’t let ‘em put a name on you.
There’s no categories just long stories waiting to be heard.
Don’t be satisfied when someone sums you up with just one word.
Blindfold your heart and feel for a clue
Baby don’t let ‘em, don’t let ‘em put a name on you.
In an interview, Derek explains that he believes Jesus was a "moving target" of sorts... every time the Pharisees thought they had him figured out and tried to trap him, Jesus surprised them by not fitting the mold they created. I'd like to think I'm the same way. My goal is not to be an activist for the sake of fighting or wanting change for the sake of change, but to live a life glorifying to God and value people as God does. I hope you can see past the fact that you may initially disagree with me on something(s) and try to see that maybe I have a "story waiting to be heard."
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Let me say first that I appreciate the respect, support, and honest questions, especially from those who read and tried to understand the whole message of my post rather than one paragraph. This is a conversation I want to have (hence posting it on the WWW), especially because many of you are my friends and Christian community. Your opinions and these exchanges are important to me.
Sadly, my laptop went to the shop yesterday and will be there for a few days, so I'm not able to respond as timely and as well as I'd like. Right now I'm posting at work (on my lunchbreak), so I'm hoping I won't get in trouble for that. Besides, I'll need some time to organize my thoughts.
Let me reiterate that I do really appreciate and respect those who've left comments of genuine interest and support.
Let's pray that we all can reach a more Biblical perspective. ;)
Sunday, April 15, 2007
I'll be more honest with you now about the thought processes I was going through then. First of all, I was really struggling with whether or not to stay in the Churches of Christ. I've thought about leaving for years, but in Japan and Brazil that wasn't really an option, nor was it something I would have chosen to do at that point. There's only one reason why I would leave the Church of Christ, in a denominational sense, which is the treatment of women. I can handle the other quirks that make the CoC what it is because I believe they're based primarily on traditional and preference (and poor hermeneutics) which is, well, whatever, but I have problems with the subjugation of women like I have problems with racism or nationalism. It is a "tradition" that places women in positions of inferiority and unworthiness within the body of Christ. Sexism in the church is destructive not only to women, but to the image of God.
So that's the primary mental/spiritual battle I was struggling with at the time. :) Long story short, a couple of weeks later I decided that I was going to stay with the church I went to throughout college, Memorial Rd. Church of Christ. Although it seemed like the clear answer and was subsequently my ultimate decision, it wasn't easy. For one, I think MRCC qualifies as a megachurch. It's big. And after being at small churches for the past couple of years, it was hard to readjust to that. I think the key at a church like that is to find a community within the larger community, which is one of the reasons I am there. I am part of a weekly Bible study group (who I've referenced here before) who is like family to me and has been for almost 4 years. I also am part of a Sunday Bible class that I love and feel loved within. Also, even though the majority of my history at MRCC is wonderful, it also is some baggage to me in a sense. There, I'm usually known as that girl who was really sick, or who went to Brazil, or who worked in the international ministry. Not bad things, but I really wanted a chance to start fresh at this point.
Now you may be wondering, justifiably so, "What about all that 'subjugation of women' stuff you just talked about? Did you change your mind about that?" No, no... definitely not. But from my perspective now, I see reason to have hope for change in our tradition (CoC). If it's a choice between going or staying and trying to help this tradition that I love and that has brought me to my place of faith now, I'm going to stay. I don't know if that will always be the case, but right now it's where I am.
One strange thing for me right now is that I'm not involved in any type of organized "ministry", I don't think. I guess it depends on how you'd qualify ministry. It feels kind of strange, but good. Of course this won't last forever, but as I've been in this time of re-evaluation and transition, it seemed alright for me to take a "sabbatical" of sorts.
This is pretty long, and if you've read it all then I give you my heartfelt thanks for your interest. Just wanted to let you know where I am on the whole issue of church.
Friday, April 13, 2007
As of tonight, I think my life has been taken to the next level. :) In case you haven't noticed, I happen to be a big fan of Derek Webb. Really, I'm a big fan. Big fan. :) I saw him once in concert before, back before I even knew his name. While he was in Caedmon's Call they came to OC for a concert. Anyhoo, tonight was the big night! He came back to OKC and I got to see him!!!
So yes, I drove through the monsoon and met my DW Buddy and it was AWESOME! :) Derek was singing at a local church as part of a workshop weekend to talk about, inspire, and celebrate art in the church. So the first half of the concert was actually a question and answer conversation with Derek about the importance of quality, honest art in Christian community and how Derek views his own artistic process. That was funny in itself, because he compared writing a song to a passionate make-out session. He says you know it's great when it's happening and when you finish you know want to do it again, but you really can't remember much about what actually happened. Yeah. :)
Then Derek played an acoustic set of some of his "classic" songs and a couple from his new CD, The Ringing Bell, which I have been bad to not promote on here! Although it physically debuts on May 1, if you pre-order online now, you can download it now, then receive the CD and a "graphic novel" by mail on May 1. I'm not sure what the graphic novel is about yet, but the CD is awesome. It's available in it's entirety streaming at www.TheRingingBell.com . Derek's CDs always have a prevailing theme... the church, social justice... this one is peace. Great songwriting, and this one is a rock album so it's not as "ballad"-y as the other albums. Anyway, it's great. Really, I'm not kidding. Rather than overwhelm you with why I love each song, I might just post about them as they move me over the next few weeks. The lyrics are available here.
Needless to say, I'm on a music high. :) By the way, the great photos are by Josh Kingcade.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
The link to Dorothy Parker was mine in case you don't know who she is. Well, when I first read it, I got pretty miffed right off, because if you want to call me out on something I write on the blog, that's fine. But to do it anonymously is pretty low, IMHO. You have to own up to what you write. Then I became even more angry because the way that the comment was written made me think that they actually knew me... you know, using my name and talking about me and Auvrey like they knew us. So I was going through my head trying to think of who would have a secret grudge against me and Auvrey.
Wow Ann. Close call! Good thing you didn't join eHarmony and try communicating with any of those other matches that looked like they "had potential" or you might have missed on the opportunity to slag off this bad one. You and Auvrey ought to start a new blog called "The New Dorothy Parkers."
But thankfully, I didn't really have to question long, because I have this great little tool on my blog that gives me statistics for who all visit here. So all I had to do was go there, look up the time the comment was left, and I had my answer.
The first clue was that it was from Pasadena, California, which surprised me. I don't know anyone there, and have never gotten a hit from there. But it all made sense when I saw the ISP (internet service provider). eHarmony.com . And eHarmony is based in Pasadena, California. I kid you not-- the person who left a nasty, anonymous comment on my blog was accessing my site from an eharmony server!!!!!!! eHarmony has found me out!!! And I feel guilty because I've tipped them off to Auvrey, too!!! Oh, the humanity!!! Exclamation points!!!
What throws me is the link that was left on the user name. Was it just a red herring, or is eHarmony connected to this Hedonistic Imperative in some way? Who knows, I may have just busted the truth about eHarmony wide open. :)
Let's see if they comment on this...
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Anyway, I filled out an eHarmony personality profile way back when I lived in Japan. I never actually joined (i.e., paid), but since then I have received notifications for matches with eligible young bachelors every once in a while. I never paid much attention to them.
These days, now that I'm just a single gal living in the US, I've been thinking more about wanting to leave the whole single demographic, so I started paying attention to my eHarmony notifications. The process is this: eHarmony sends you a note saying you and fella XYZ have computed as compatible, and you are allowed to see the other person's "Introductory Page", which has basic info and answers to a few broad yet significant questions you would want to know about someone you date. In order to communicate you must join (i.e., pay).
Well let me tell you, although I have received a few matches I thought could have potential, I received a one recently that made me question the validity of the entire Dr. Neil Clark Warren, 29 dimensions of compatibility system.
The first red-flag was within the first question-- "What are you most passionate about?" This is really your chance to succinctly and clearly tell what your life's purpose is. With most of the matches I receive, the answer is something to the effect of God, my relationship with God, Jesus or something involving spirituality. Maybe it's a little predictable, but when you're considering a person for a relationship, that kind of predictable is good. Well this guy broke that mold.
MIC (Mr. InCompatible) , an air force pilot, responded, "I really enjoy flying...raging around low to the ground in a jet is tough to beat! Not to mention it's even better in formation...or starting with your wingman at your six and trying to spit him out in front of you...really any time we're out flying around having fun (and yeah, all this is while we're teaching students the basics of flying, so we're not really wasting any government tax dollars, haha)." Alright. Well, it's good that he enjoys what he does, but to me the entire answer had the same tone of a 8 year old boy playing with his GI Joes. That's just unsettling. No military jargon necessary to impress this girl.
Well from there MIC continued to confirm the growing doubt of eHarmony's compatibility ratings. When asked to comment on the last book he read, he said, "I haven't read anything but news, flying stuff, and textbooks for a while, so I'll go with the best book EVER: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. It's set in the future and we've got spaceships and stuff. Through no fault of our own we're fighting a galactic battle against these aliens that are rather insect like. The survival of the human race depends on our success. So, to get the best minds as the commanders, children are screened and selected to go to a military academy where they play games of increasing complexity...the adults running the school set up running the whole battle with the aliens like a giant video game, (no more space)". I've got nothing against SciFi, and I even looked this book up on amazon.com to see what it was really about (and apparently it's a really popular book), but what made me laugh out loud was the way in which he talked about this book. Why on EARTH does he go into the first person when talking about the story? To me, that might have to be a deal breaker. And please also note that he actually ran out of room in his over-eagerness to tell this story.
BUT, the kicker for me was in the last question. eHarmony provides a place for you to share any additional info you'd like-- a last thought that you can carry with you about this match. All MIC had to say was, "party on wayne!" Yes, I can just see MIC and I some day, sitting on our front porch in our rocking chairs, and I loving take his hand, look into his eyes, and say, "You had me at 'party on wayne!'".
I don't doubt MIC is a good guy. He seems rather harmless, but what gets me is that of all the people in the eHarmony system, I am supposedly extremely compatible with him. Maybe I am and I'm being over-critical, but I have my doubts about Dr. Warren now.
I haven't even mentioned another guy I was matched with who referenced Ronald Reagan 4 times in his introductory page.
Just in case I might forget that I'm alone and have no hope of finding love on my own, eHarmony sent this nice reminder to me tonight:
Did you know you have several men who are waiting to communicate with you?
Our matching system has found several highly compatible men for you—men who match you well on the important inside qualities.
We know you've searched for a caring guy to share your life. We know that reaching out to these men might be hard, but we don't match you unless we're sure you have a deep and profound compatibility.
Your Soul Mate may be waiting and we don't want you to miss out on meeting him.
eHarmony Customer Care
See, they care about me. :) Needless to say, I won't be joining eHarmony anytime soon. I guess I'll just have to rely on the providence of God like they did in the olden days. Or maybe I should hang around more water wells or threshing floors. :)
Sunday, April 08, 2007
In Christ's resurrection we can have that joy. Portuguese uses the same word for a hope and expectation-- esperança. And we have esperança today and every day for the future of a world redeemed through Christ's final salvation, and assurance of the salvation of our souls today.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then can condemn? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
What does that day of emptiness do for us? If God is above time, why couldn't it have been an instantaneous victory? And we have those moments in our own life, after the initial hurt when we're left cold and alone, and the light at the end of the tunnel hasn't appeared.
I have absolutely no explanation or understanding of this, aside from the ways of God being much higher than myself. Still we wait for the third day.
Friday, April 06, 2007
Tonight I serendipitously ended up going to a memorial ceremony of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. It organized and run by the Rwandan students at my alma mater, and although I missed a documentary they showed, I arrived to hear the young peoples' testimonies. As one student talked about his mother leading his family in daily prayer, then about the day she was killed, the words written of the crucifixion scene flashed through my mind-- "when darkness reigned."
Suddenly it seemed to make a little more sense. I believe today is a day of grief. We grieve the pain and price of sin. Whether it's the sin of others, our own, or the sins of a fallen world.
When I think about the scene of the crucifixion, I think we can find ourselves in times of darkness like those there. The Roman soldiers, working on behalf of an evil and oppressive system. The Marys, watching the one they love more than anyone suffering and unable to do anything. The criminals hanging with Christ, reaping the consequence of death because of their sins-- one bitter, one repentant. Pilate, powerful but apathetic. The beloved apostle, trying helplessly to stay strong and support those he loves. Peter, anguished with realization of his own guilt. And Jesus-- innocent, but betrayed and abandoned.
I believe we all have "dark nights of the soul." The moments when the face of God seems to be hidden. Maybe you can relate to one of our friends here. Faith is a painful birth. Similarly, grief is a natural and healing process. So today we grieve. But thankfully, we know how the story ends. Sunday is coming.
"Weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning."
Thursday, April 05, 2007
You see, at work the computer I use only has 1 album ripped to it. I don't know who put it there-- it wasn't me-- but it has had a profound impact upon me. It's the Love album from The Beatles.
I've always been a fan of The Beatles, along with every person of good taste in the world, but growing up my mom was a responsible parent and I was only exposed to the fun and sunny earlier stuff, rather than the psychedelic, groooovy stuff of the later years.
In case you don't know what the Love album is, it came out in 2006 and was produced by Cirque de Soleil. Producers remastered a lot of The Beatles songs and mixed and matched drum riffs, guitar parts, melodies and beats with different songs. I don't know how to explain it well, but Wikipedia sure did a good job, so you can look there.
Anyway, mix the Beatles' later years with the Cirque de Soleil, and you've got a funky CD. And I love it. I walk around singing Strawberry Fields and Lady Madonna and I Am the Walrus and all kinds of songs that surely no sober person could appreciate. I'm not sure what this new taste says about me. Anybody else like the groovy years of the Beatles? Anybody actually NOT like the Beatles? I shouldn't even ask, because I know you guys have good taste. You read my blog, right?
Now, please click on the picture below and crank up Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
There are several reasons. First of all, I've been in a big, fat time of transition in my life and I've been the dreaded b-word-- busy. And I don't have internet in my apartment yet, so I'm kind of limited on time I can actually post.
But probably the most honest reason as to why I am generally writing a couple of sentences and slapping down a picture is that I really feel emptied out. To say that my life's been in a fair amount of turmoil for the past three months-- the past year-- the past two years-- the past three years, is really an understatement. I suppose that could be the greatest cop-out of all, whining about how extended life-trauma is the cause of my blog-blockage.
It's not that I don't have anything to write. I have plenty of things I'm thinking and feeling, but I don't know that a blog is the best way to express them. I have done my best and worked very hard to not let the blog be a place for me to be passive aggressive, or rail against society or the government or religion, or just curse the world and die. So maybe that's why you haven't seen much profound thought on here from me lately.
So, here's a lengthy post that essentially says I'm not writing anything interesting. :) But I thank the readership for sticking with me and at least feigning interest. I'll try to think of some witty observation about a mundane occurrence to write about next time, you know, like Jerry Seinfeld. :)
So tune in next time. Who knows what you'll get.