Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday Reflections, Again

I heard Kevin Costner say in an interview that "everyone prostitutes himselfno matter what you are doing. It's convenient that actors most seem like prostitutes, selling their behavior for money. The truth is, however we all do that on some level."

The rain is falling outside. Medieval philosophers said that everything in this world is composed of a form, an essence, and a purpose. The form of the rain is what? The very water perhaps. The shape of the thing we see is the form. So, the clouds warn us of rain coming. The rain falls on our gardens and our rose beds.
What is the essence of the rain? Perhaps it is the sort before and after? Perhaps it is the sullen peace that accompanies rainy days. The essence is not what we see of the thing, but it is the thing without being seen. The rainy day is the diminishment of the sun, the accumulation of moisture in the clouds-- the scientists call it "precipitation," a precipitous word in itself. Dan Peterson would find it fitting that the "essence explanation" is incomplete.
Then, there is its purpose. To make green our yards, to color our gardens, to swell the rivers-that is what the rain causes. Are those its purpose ? Why does the rain fall? We parents know that the explanation "Because God Said so" is incomplete, an evasion from details. Why does the rain fall? The scientists believe that if we knew it, we would be as God. Philotheologians know better: we are not the Rainmakers.

I wrote Friday night until 6:00 a.m. on Saturday. I composed pieces to other pieces, starts to stories, and even a couple of endings to stories not yet begun.
Am I a writer because I do things like that? I don't think that is why. I'm beginning to wonder if

Time to stop. You know why.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunday Afternoon Reflections

Lynné and I (Youssef) are planning Thanksgiving to be a triplex-oriented event. I cannot remember who extended the invitation, the tenants or landlords, but I know that whoever received it embraced it. We will cook turkey together, play Monopoly together, and perhaps the following day observe the shopping madness together. What fascinates me is how communal the idea is. It might not observe some of the traditional boundaries--family first, 'over the river and through the woods'-- but it at the same time institutes something that might not have existed prior. Heart and hearth.

Now, I'm observing a church that may be having growing pains. (I say "may" because I don't know since I'm not a veteran member.) The inspiring talk referred to the command to love thy neighbor, and how "forbearance is not love - although forbearance comes from God's mercy." The struggle in the church comes from the implimentation of the idea that you don't want to simply be spiritual on Sunday. The idea includes such things as "We must remain believers in every aspect of our lives. It is in this way that the light within us draws non-believers to us." Include in that, too, the line "I preach the gospel all day long--and I only sometimes use words."

Here are my thoughts, synthesized from the two events outlined above.
- I can believe we are called to be Christians in all areas of our lives. It would be very difficult to convince me otherwise.

- Christians realize their faith through worship, fellowship, and discipleship with other believers. Even Bonhoffer, who described in "Living Together" the non-essentiality of Christian fellowship, recognized the luxury and the benefits of Christians being a part of a church. The Church, I am asserting, is an essential part of the Christian's life. Not only do we share in Christ's light burden, we are part of Christ's body.

- There is a paradoxical trend happening in my present days. The first half is towards distancing. Reference urban sprawl, reference children leaving their homes at 17 or 16 to live with roommates, reference the unknown impetus behind American children to disassociate themselves from their families as quickly as possible. The second half is towards connectivity. Cellphones, transit systems, the perseverance of the automobile (despite its fuel costs), and the believe in a "smaller world" all contribute towards that sense of connectivity. Now, I believe these two "movements," if I can use that term loosely to describe something without plans, I believe these two movements happen in conjunction. They are related in the same way that a dog-on-a-leash's distance from its grounding peg is related to the tautness of the rope.

- If we are called to be Christians in all areas of our lives, and being a Christian entails being a church-member, then we are called to be churchmembers in all areas of our lives. That sentence sounds a little silly, (and I wrote it hopefully so that I avoid the logical fallacy of "post hoc proctor hoc.") but I'm thinking about all of the things that come with being a churchmember: the doctrinal statements (I kinda have to say that), the most recent Biblical assertions (that is an observation, not an experience of mine), even the Church's identity... "We meet in a house." "We have an excellent worship team." "I sign for our congregation." "Our church is upgrading buildings." "We're orchestrating a ban of Harry Potter books." These are some base examples.

- The commandment of "Love thy neighbor" has not been interpreted to mean exclusively non-believers, last I heard. "Thy neighbor" could be sitting in the pew next to you, not just the guy who lives beside you. Yet we are called to love both of them, showing them the deepest kinds of love: "that which gives its life for his friend."

- I am leading to a point. Just let me get there...

- The paradoxical trend I outlined above has the effect of superficializing and compartmentalizing relationships. Both of those "-izings" are contradictory to the Christian ideas I outlined earlier: That Christian-hood should spread to all areas of one's life and that loving one's neighbor means giving one's life to save one's friend. Let me say that again, but in a different way. Superficializing a relationship is opposed to developing a love for a friend, a friend whom you would die to save. Compartmentalizing your relationships contradicts the Holy Spirit's goal of spreading the yeast of the gospel through one's life.

- Knowing two things about one's velocity (a: that you are heading south, b: that you are wanting to go north) should inspire some form of action, like turning around.

- We can conceive of opposites to the two sides of the paradoxical trend. First, a culture could exist that teaches the necessity of other community members. That culture would believe that one's youth and one's assent and one's age need not be spent in different places. The other opposite is that a culture could exist that believes in face-to-face communication. This culture could believe that men grow together when they participate together... as iron sharpens iron, one might say.

- I've tipped my hand with that last phrase. The cultures I described are one and the same as the Christian culture. Not just the apparent Christian sub-culture we have. I've described the Christian culture that we read about in the letters of Paul and Peter and that we envision when we say we want to go to church.

- ... oh, I'm tired of the bullet points. I believed at one point that the bullet points would help people organize my words as they read them. Maybe that's so, but I'm so sick and tired of having to mince my words so that the average reader could pick apart and understand my ideas. No more, I write. Here, at this point, my form has broken down because I am tired. I will nap soon.

We should choose to live near our church and its congregation. If we Christians truly want to attract people's interest in what has changed our lives, then we should try to live our lives together, allowing the open invitation. What I believe we will find by creating a spatial community of believers is that people will be drawn simply by virtue of the "in-crowd" principle. Imagine that snotty group in high school, the cool people, who would not let you in.. but you so badly wanted in. What if that group had been excited about letting you in, showed you the secrets to their happiness and success? The key of deep relationships lies in the Trinity, says John Eldridge in Wild at Heart. The Trinity wanted man to join its perfect harmony, not because something was missing, but because perfect harmony welcomes and desires others to join its peace.

I conclude this unpolished post with my poorly paraphrased bit of Scripture. Jesus came so that we could live a more abundant life.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Lily's 10 months!

Lily helped her Daddy rake the leaves!

She's had a little cold lately so for her 10 months pictures I thought it would be best to take them when she was wearing her new nightgown and bunny slippers (especially since she wore them so much while being sick!)

I held her while she took her naps so that she could breathe better.

She loves to look at her books and her favorite is her "Frog in the Kitchen Sink" book (I do all the voices ;)

The only way I could get her to stay still enough for the pictures was by putting her on our little foot stool. She loves to climb onto the stool and even though she kept falling (though now she's got it figured out) she kept getting back on it again.

She also just cut her fourth toothe! (If you look closely you can see one top toothe in the picture above.)

keeping the home (and mind)

A friend told me about a home management binder that she started using (to buy an e-book on how to build your own binder go here I only have one baby and can't seem to keep the house clean and everything running smoothly. I thought perhaps it was because of the baby but when I think about it everything was the same before she was born... it just wasn't as big of a deal. Now... what with her "helping" me do everything by pulling whatever is around her and dumping it on the floor I seem to be having a hard time cleaning and keeping the house nice. Anyway, I've just started my binder so we'll see how it goes, but so far I'm excited about it all. Though I changed a few things to fit me better... she has you make a master list of times to do everything... and... well... I really can't do that. BUT I did write down the important times of things like meals and Lily's nap times and I put what I'd like to do inbetween them (without times) so that those parts could be more flexible depending on how the day works out.

I'm also reading a book called
The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had by Susan Wise Bauer
I'm really enjoying it and excited to start the reading projects. I'm going to incorporate the study of liturature with my binder. :)