Clinging to the Cross

The statement in my Twitter profile “clinging to the cross” isn’t much about comfort to me – eternal protection of my soul by God, or even hope in better things to come in this life or the next, and hopefully not just a platitude to ease my conscience and feel better about my screw-ups.
It is a desperate reach for meaning, to find my identity in trying to follow the lead of the supreme act of love and reconciliation recorded for us. To love as he loves, and love who he loves. If there is hope, it is that the hell we’ve created for ourselves and passed down on earth can be redeemed, and this reality isn’t final or unchanging. If there is confidence, it is that Truth has revealed itself in a life and demonstration of love which draws everything to itself. If there is comfort, it is that my path is both clear and not final, and the abuses in my past can only win if I don’t learn and pass on the love that subverts the corruption that enabled it, and break its vicious cycle.
This is what my faith means to me today.

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Tradition, Means, and The End

Saw something interesting the other day. Folks, meet Mr Nicholas Barbon. Or, as the Mr and Mrs Barebone called him, Nicholas If-Jesus-Christ-Had-Not-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned Barebone.

nickbarbon

Appropriately, he was one of the pioneers for the fire insurance business. Nothing like selling fire insurance along with hell-fire insurance, eh?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Barbon

Now giving names of this sort wasn’t too out of the ordinary back in puritan days, so, although it’s mildly hilarious, it’s not news – just something I’d forgotten was a thing. My first (completely serious) reaction though, upon seeing the message his parents were trying to send to their child and others, was “Hmph. If you really wanted to be a witness you’d have made that his first name. What are ya, ashamed of Jesus? Don’t go hiding your light under a bushel, now! Lord wants all of us, not just a little piece tucked away!”

Now that whole reaction is absurd, yes. But this highlights something for me: don’t we do this already? Haven’t many churches, church folks, and communities done this, bluntly or subtly?

Continue reading Tradition, Means, and The End

A Thought on “True Grit”

The Coen brothers,  who also happened to have filmed a lively documentary of the Soggy Bottom Boys which they graciously allowed me to appear in,  came out awhile back with a remake of the classic John Wayne picture “True Grit” which I’ve found quite moving, with Jeff Bridges and Hailey Steinfield delivering excellent performances. “Grit” being an appropriate word,  as the story is hardly rainbows and dramatic rides into the sunset. Just like I like ’em.

I’ve seen the movie I think 3 times now, most recently on a camping trip with family.  This last trip,  one of the climactic end scenes struck me (If you haven’t watched the movie and are worried about spoilers, go get the darned thing and watch it).

Continue reading A Thought on “True Grit”

Battle of the Sexes?

A few years back, we bought some newly married friends a game called “Battle of the Sexes.” I think we played it twice with them, and I regretted ever buying it and playing it. Maybe some of y’all have heard of it and love it, but it’s about on the same level as Monopoly to me. I hate it. But it is instructive and sad in how it reveals how disconnected the genders often are. I don’t know if stereotypes are a cause or a result, or both, of this disconnect.
I’ve heard that generalizations, and their crazy uncle Stereotype, are useful as a kind of shorthand to quickly give a picture of an entity or group. It’s usually understood that there’s variation within the object of discussion. For instance, you might say that “The Republican Party is for _____”, with full knowledge that not everyone who is a registered Republican lines up just so, but that the Party is characterized by _____. We usually all understand that.

Here’s a question that’s been bugging me though. Just how useful are these generalizations relationally? Continue reading Battle of the Sexes?

In Layman’s Terms….

What place does “authority” have in the life of the Christian? It’s a loaded question to me, and I’ll admit, in my low moments, I want to answer it by running screaming from the room shouting “IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU!” over and over again with my ears plugged, but that’s not really helpful for dialogue. There is a place for authority in our Christian lives, though I believe it looks nothing like what I grew up with, and certainly doesn’t deserve the ears plugged screaming reaction all the time. I’d like to ramble about that for a few paragraphs.
Continue reading In Layman’s Terms….

Easter, Apathy, and Empathy

Religious holidays have always been a strange place for me. My first church was decidedly not on board with any of them, except Thanksgiving and 4th of July (see what I did there), to some extent. Thanksgiving was a “Puritan” holiday, and we went all out in honor of it. Christmas was not celebrated, and Easter certainly wasn’t – both in their eyes claiming pagan origins, and we shouldn’t eat meat offered to idols, etc. I don’t really care to get into that – there’s good, godly folks on both sides of those lines, and that’s on your conscience before God which side or the other you fall on in that discussion.

For me, the issue goes a bit deeper, in that I feel very much disconnected to the spirit of these holidays, no matter their origins or practice.
Continue reading Easter, Apathy, and Empathy

“I never have been very good at puzzles….” Part 2

Part 1

Oh god, how can I even begin to describe what we felt pulling up? To us, it was HUGE, about, oh I don’t know, 500 members? (Side, it always makes me laugh when someone describes a church as small and says it has about 100 members: you don’t know small until you attend a 20-person church where your family is half the membership.) After the funeral-style dirges we were used to, the music was upbeat and fast-paced. There was a large choir, all hymns or southern-gospel style songs, the preaching was from the KJV. Everything reeked of tradition, but there were cushioned pews, carpeted floors, a nursery, Sunday school, and ohmygosh PEOPLE!! We made quite the entrance in our 15-passenger royal blue van and 9+ kids in odd fashions, and the members were drawn to us instantly. They were, and still are, an incredibly friendly bunch (to their own kind anyway). They made us feel welcome, wanted to find out about us, the young people actually tried to talk to us. It was, dare I say it, magical. We were…..appreciated!! Sought out!! Treated as if we were important and someone of worth!!! When you spend your entire life feeling marginalized and shut up, that feeling was like crack. I don’t think we visited anywhere else after that, but jumped right in. Except for my dad, who realized we would all have to be baptized in order to join. The pastor was fairly adamant about that.  

So picture this, if you will. 9 children, ages ~6 to 23, all getting baptized, one after the other. Standing in a looooooong line at the front of the church, while all the members came by and congratulated you. Feeling very out-of-place in your bulky sweater that was two-sizes-too-big, a calf-length elasticized skirt with a floral print, chunky sandals, no jewelry or makeup or nice hair while all the girls your age are wearing modern clothes and heels and perfectly styled hair. JUST PICTURE IT. Then cry a little for 18-year old me who grew up in a bubble and was becoming painfully aware of just all the ways she did not measure up.

That was….May, I think. For a few months, I got to hear all about the church’s connected college. I then went to their youth camp in Tennessee, which….I kinda want to cry myself now.

Continue reading “I never have been very good at puzzles….” Part 2

“I never have been very good at puzzles….” Part 1.

Intro

I love puzzles.

Puzzle1

Pretty much everyone who knows me is aware of that fact, I think. I can spend hours doing them, till my neck feels crooked and my feet have fallen asleep multiple times and I can no longer see straight.

Puzzle2

Sometimes I branch out, and make a building.

Puzzle3

Or maybe a whole new shape.
Puzzle4

And that title isn’t quite applicable, actually. I am quite good at puzzles. Order out of chaos. One piece at a time.

I’ve always loved Coldplay’s song “Talk,” which says “Do you feel like a puzzle / You can’t find your missing piece?”

My life feels like a puzzle. But not because I’m missing a piece. Or the stereotypical, “You’re in the middle of putting together your puzzle of life and while it doesn’t look right just now, it will form a beautiful picture once it’s complete!” Complete with sunshine and rainbows and birds chirping.

No, more like….I put a puzzle together in the dark. Someone handed me pieces and said, “This piece goes here. This piece connects with that. What do you mean it doesn’t feel right, that’s how it is and don’t you dare question it.” Fine, this piece goes there. This is how that is. This is truth, because you said it was so. Continue reading “I never have been very good at puzzles….” Part 1.