Archive for June, 2010

28
Jun
10

6 days

In 6 days Darling Daughter and #1 Son, the Captain, will exchange wedding vows. The very next day 40 relatives and friends will descend upon my sister’s home where she is hosting a reception for the happy couple. I am not much thinking about any of this just now. I have too many vicissitudes of life sprouting on my shoulders. What happened to the golden years? I am now in that time period when life is supposed to be easy and pleasant. That is what was promised back when I was growing up. My body says it should be so, but the news and the mail and the world says something very different. Ten years ago I expected to live to be 90+ and not skip a beat. Today I am wondering what happened to the beat. I think the rhythm is completely different. There are days when I do not even understand the beat, let alone want to skip along with it.

Darling and Captain will begin a new song. I pray their lyrics do not lose their sweetness…that the God who dwells within them always has a place at their table.

And to Miss Green and Miss Pink, my new grandchildren…you are the sunshine on a cloudy day.

23
Jun
10

dancing in the aisles

I became a Christian in a Mennonite/Brethren, Christian (communal) community, called Reba Place Fellowship. When I got there it was beginning to develop various gifts of the spirit and soon became a charismatic church. Because of this, my Christian formation was tinged with an openness to the mystical. The year was 1972. Communes were popping up all over the place and many people—young and old—were searching for spiritual dimension. It was the time of hippies with long dresses, long hair and ripped up jeans, Jews for Jesus, Jesus Freaks…and communes, both secular and non-secular.

In the 8 years I was there, the church fellowship grew from 28 to approximately 250. We lived in extended households of anywhere from 8 to 20 people. We lived a Jesus-centered, discipleship life, practiced the giving and receiving of counsel, and the reconciliation procedure outlined in Matthew 18:15-20. We were far from perfect, in fact, we weren’t even hitting the mark 50% of the time, and bad things happened as well as good.

I left there in 1979 after some very painful experiences. During the decades that followed I received confessions from those that hurt me and I granted forgiveness—the 2 requirements for reconciliation. We are now reconciled and I choose to separate the good from the bad. I don’t forget the dark side, I just set it aside because, 40 years later, I see that the light side was good…very good and not something I have found since. It was real communal living—maybe something like Israel’s kibbutzim—and it was 24/7. I like to refer to this affectionately as, the Reba Boot Camp. (Whoops, I think my tongue just got caught in my cheek 🙂 )

What I want to say about this time is that it was a living, breathing experience. One could say that I learned Discipleship Christianity by the immersion method. I don’t mean language, although there is a language to be learned and understood, but more like being rough stones in a rock tumbler. I don’t know how I could have understood the concept of discipleship if I hadn’t lived this way. And I don’t think I could have managed the dark elements without the charismatic experience that taught my heart to swell, my feet to dance and my voice to praise. I don’t think I could have managed without those very high times of God in me.

The Charismatic Movement of the time certainly had its pitfalls, but for me it was a path to the sense of knowing (gnosis) that I enjoy today.  I have not found a Mennonite congregation that will walk this path with me. Mennonites sing, but they don’t dance and they don’t sway to the music and they don’t say “Praise God” and they certainly don’t shout, “Hallelujah”! But when we sing, we do it well…4-part harmony. So when my congregation sings a really uplifting or soulful song, I am swinging and swaying, praising and happy. No one joins me, but so far none have made comments, for which I am grateful. One of these days when the mood is just right I’m going to grab someone and hop up to the front of the sanctuary and just do it! (Might have to be running a fever to do this, but you never know.) It’s something I think about doing and wish I would do, so maybe one day the holy spirit will just hop into my shoes and move me on up there fearlessly…maybe when I’m too old to think straight.

Mennonites are Anabaptists. Many in the denomination today came to it because of its peace and justice values (reconciliation), but that is just part of the faith. In community I lived the 3 core values of Mennonite Anabaptism—Discipleship, Community and Reconciliation. In the newly revised booklet by Palmer Becker, What is an Anabaptist,  these values are summarized in the following statements:

1) Jesus is the center of our faith.

2) Community is the center of our lives.

3) Reconciliation is the center of our work

I don’t know if it’s all that easy to live the first 2 values outside of some form of community. Life can be very tough. Anyway…I’m glad I learned what I did and am what I am…and don’t have to do it all over again!! 🙂

14
Jun
10

abominations, anathemas, absurdities

Leaving aside for the moment,  joyous occasions such as described in my last posting—Family Plan, June 10—I have another concern to share with you. This is one I personally walked a road of hot coals for in 2008/09. I have referenced my experience many times (sometimes overtly and sometimes not) since this blog began on June 29, 2009. (If you like, you can check the archives for these accounts.) The issue remains contentiously stuck in the minds of many. Some reasonable persons just get blind-sided.  What follows is at least humorous.

On her radio show recently, Dr. Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. It is worthy of mentioning, however briefly, that Doctor Laura has a doctorate in Physiology (the study of the body); she is neither a psychologist nor a psychiatrist. She did however, earn a post-doctoral certification in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling. You can read her bio at http://www.biography.com/articles/Laura-Schlessinger-9542197

The following response is an Open Letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a U.S. resident, posted on the internet and currently traveling extensively and humorously along its currents:

Advice From Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination…End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Law and how to follow them.

1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. Lev.25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2. The passage clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev.11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

7. Lev.21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev.11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? – Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev.20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God’s Word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan,

James M. Kauffman, Ed.D., Professor Emeritus
Dept. of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education
University of Virginia
405 Emmet Street South
PO Box 400273
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4273

10
Jun
10

family plan

Many, many months ago, while Darling Daughter was grieving over the break-up of a year long romance (a handsome man with commitment aversion). I gave her my best advice which was to pray for the right person to come into her life. I had done this myself 30 some years before with positive results. It was the best I had to offer. So what happened? One Sunday at her church, during the passing of the peace, the man sitting in front of her turned around to perform the accustomed handshake, hug or whatever, and both were smitten: love at first sight. Very romantic, I would say.

Now this is no ordinary answer to prayer because DD is in her early 40s. The baby clock had ticked itself down to unlikely and she had given up all hope of ever having her own family. I in concert with her, had entirely given up hope of ever being a grandmother. Young readers will not understand this granny thing. I didn’t until I entered my 7th decade, when I began to sense that grandchildren would be even better than cats. And that’s saying a lot!

Well, to make this story a bit shorter…this man turned out to be a widower with 2 young daughters—not divorced—widowed. Dear God, how kind of you to bring an entire family into Darling’s life. Just add water, stir gently and set in the sun to bloom. This is all very exciting for DD, the children (Miss Green and Miss Pink) and the prince…not a frog…whom I shall call #1 Son until I come upon a better name. I have several favorite youngish male friends who are dear to me, but no actual sons, so clearly he is the first and receives a crown or something.

Wedding preparations are underway for July 3. Ms. will turn into Mrs. Big Dawg and I will become grannies and except for the messed up world we live in, shall live happily ever after. We are off and running. Last week, Saturday, the girls came over for the first granny visit. We had mac and cheese in bunny shapes which they loved…“Can we have more?” Then BD and I did arts and crafts with them and had a lovely time. Immediately after they left BD and I went out shopping for supplies for the next visit and set up their own cabinet in my studio. Are we crazy or what? I will not be able to resist showing pictures, so stand by. Here we go…

Miss Pink on the left—5 1/2

Miss Green on the right—8 1/2

#1 Son (a.k.a. the Captain)

Darling Daughter

Balloons have no names

This photo was taken after Miss Green’s violin recital.  Great, huh?

And here is Miss Green in a pensive pose after playing Perpetual Motion brilliantly.

09
Jun
10

immigration prayer

Recently an Open Letter written by MennoNeighbors to my denomination—Mennonite Church USA—urging the leadership to stand fast in opposition to Arizona’s proposed immigration law, came along for signing. The letter asks the Church to rescind our agreement to hold the 2013 Conference there, as we have many latino/latina members who will not be welcome or safe should this bill become law. This is not the only raison d’etre for this stand, but it is a good and timely one. We are aware that many states are watching to see if they might do the same.

As usual there were a lot of opinions floating on the listserve about how it should be written/worded, but eventually it got done. On the day of its last signing an email circulated with this prayer. It seems that First Mennonite of Denver piloted a group prayer project on various themes led by Randy Macy, who plans to add music and record them, then send CDs to politicians in Washington and beyond. This particular prayer was written and submitted by Theda Good and Dawn Kreider.

Prayer for National Security and Immigration

God, Creator of all peoples on earth

We in the United States are a gathered people
With ancestral roots in many lands
Whose descendants navigated terrain and sea
To reach this land we have come to call home.

Many sought new fortunes
Or an escape from oppression
But this land was already inhabited
And in searching for a new home
Our ancestors too became oppressors
Violating the freedoms of those here before them.

Forgive the past acts of violence
Towards natives who already had
What our antecessors were searching for
Forgive our arrogance for believing
That manifest destiny made this land ours
And our unwillingness to now share this land

Millions now migrate to this land
Seeking the same opportunities sought by our ancestors
Many have borne children
Who are United States citizens
Alien parent and citizen child
Both created in your image
All of us equal in your eyes

Give us the ability to see
The aliens in our midst the way you see them
Grant us the wisdom to fairly address their complex issues of
Citizenship, health care, education, and social welfare
Help us resist the temptation to legislate them further from their dreams
Instead let us offer them the decency and compassion
Each of your children deserves

Forgive us for not loving our neighbors as ourselves
Give us wise, just and humble leaders
And give all who live in this land
A will to live in peace with one another
On 9/11 the security of our homeland was threatened by attack.
Our leaders then declared war on an abstract enemy
and old testament justice prevailed
an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth
turning the other cheek was never an option
Instead we used violence to ensure peace and security
We could have chosen life instead of more death, to listen to our enemies,
to try to understand their desire to destroy our empires

God, help us identify what loving our enemies on a national scale entails
and to recognize our part in fomenting hatred and violence in our world.
As we cannot claim to be innocent;
forgive us for not loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Help us O God to see that all peoples of the world truly need each other —
Give us wise, just and humble leaders
And give all who live in this land a will to live in peace with all peoples on earth.

God of mercy, hold us in love!

Theda Good and Dawn Kreider

11/18/2009

09
Jun
10

prayer for the earth

I received a response to yesterday’s posting from my dear friend Dancing Queen, who has many friends in many places. She sent me 2 messages requesting prayer. One is a 4-minute video Four Years Go: A Campaign to Change the Course of History, and the other is the statement below from  the Native American, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe. I am not familiar with all of the belief systems of the world, but I do believe that the God I know has no borders and manifests to all peoples in myriad ways. In short, I believe in One God, with many faces. I hope this will not offend my Christian brothers and sisters, for I am assuredly Christian in commitment and practice.

This is the chief’s call to prayer for our earth, which has sustained human life for eons:

A Great Urgency

To All World Religious and Spiritual Leaders

My Relatives,

Time has come to speak to the hearts of our Nations and their Leaders. I ask you this from the bottom of my heart, to come together from the Spirit of your Nations in Prayer.

We, from the heart of Turtle Island, have a great message for the World; we are guided to speak from all the White Animals showing their sacred color, which have been signs for us to pray for the sacred life of all things. As I am sending this message to you, many Animal Nations are being threatened, those that swim, those that crawl, those that fly, and the plant Nations, eventually all will be affected from the oil disaster in the Gulf.

The dangers we are faced with at this time are not of spirit. The catastrophe that has happened with the oil spill which looks like the bleeding of Grandmother Earth, is made by human mistakes, mistakes that we cannot afford to continue to make.

I ask, as Spiritual Leaders, that we join together, united in prayer with the whole of our Global Communities. My concern is these serious issues will continue to worsen, as a domino effect that our Ancestors have warned us of in their Prophecies.

I know in my heart that there are millions of people who feel our united prayers for the sake of our Grandmother Earth are long overdue. I believe we as Spiritual people must gather ourselves and focus our thoughts and prayers to allow the healing of the many wounds that have been inflicted on the Earth.

As we  Honor the Cycle of Life, let us call for Prayer circles globally to assist in healing Grandmother Earth (our Unc’I Maka). We ask for prayers that the oil spill, this bleeding, will stop. That the winds stay calm to assist in the work. Pray for the people to be guided in repairing this mistake, and that we may also seek to live in harmony, as we make the choice to change the destructive path we are on.

As we pray, we will fully understand that we are all connected. And that what we create can have lasting effect on all life.

So let us unite spiritually, All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer. Along with this immediate effort, I also ask to please remember June 21st, World Peace and Prayer Day/Honoring Sacred Sites day. Whether it is a natural site, a temple, a church, a synagogue or just your own sacred space, let us make a prayer for all life, for good decision-making by our Nations, for our children’s future and well-being, and the generations to come.

Onipikte (that we shall live),
Chief Arvol Looking Horse
19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe

Early this morning I sat in a sunny spot on the porch and prayed in the way suggested. Then I turned on the computer and checked the oil spill map for progress. There is some progress, but the area is still huge. You can check the site yourself every day if you like. You can change the graphics to get a satellite view, a terrain view, or a hybrid view. Just click:  If It Was My Home – Visualizing the BP Oil Spill and add it to your browser’s favorites. The website is designed and updated by Andy Lintner, whom you can contact by clicking on his name at the bottom of the home page.

I confess that I could not look at the animals again—too painful. I used to have a lapel button that said something about preferring cats to people. I tossed that out a long time ago, but those pictures of oil laden birds unable to free themselves, brings the message of the lapel pin to mind again.

If you are curious about Chief Arvol, just Google him and you’ll find many blogs to choose from. In a month’s time Called by Name will likely be one of them.

08
Jun
10

oil and the big picture

Today I was going to write about my new grandchildren and then about Arizona immigration 101, but in attempting one more time to cull through my over-stuffed email in-boxes, I came upon an email from my sister that I had set aside last week. The subject line reads: Visualizing the BP Oil Disaster. When I first received her email on June 5, I looked at the link and was properly amazed. But I was so thoroughly caught up in my episodic grief and mourning that I didn’t go beyond. Today I went beyond and I am going to share this horrific piece of human carelessness.

This is a picture of the size of the disaster as of today, June 8, 2010. Big, isn’t it? Think of all the animals and plant life that will perish because of our greedy life styles…our captains of business who cannot manage to live on less than 7 figures per year. My world…your world…our world is so messed up. I think of Jesus’ ministry here on earth and what he had to say about kingdoms and power. He came to reform a power system not of God’s design. Nothing seems all that different, just worse. We still have Caesar thinking he is king of the world. Quite a few of them, actually. King(s) of the world. I wonder sometimes how long we can keep this world—this planet going with so little nurturing love of it.

See the big picture at Visualizing the BP Oil Spill Disaster Scroll down and read the text. Be sure to see number 5, Is the oil really hurting anything?

I am sick at heart. I don’t understand how God can still love us. Maybe it’s time for another flood?

Grace is completely undeserved.




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