Monday, July 21, 2008

bad housekeeping...

sometimes my kitchen looks like this

and my living room looks like this

nd my son's room looks like this

All in one day.
These types of days make me really tired.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Thunder Thighs

So enough about shoulders...

When we were dating, my lover, in a moment of awe and admiration, referred to my hips as “Thunderous”. Apparently he was unaware of the negative connotation of “Thunder Thighs.”

And for your entertainment, Lucille Clifton’s brilliant poem,
"Homage to My Hips"

these hips are big hips.
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top

Thursday, July 17, 2008

bare shoulders.

Bared shoulders.
They are taboo... not allowed growing up; I still only feel comfortable baring them in my own home, and never when I will be around most of my friends or family.
My skin, something to be hidden, it's exposure guaranteed to bring the wrath of God or the unwanted attention of man. (Taught as a young child; anecdotal stories of women raped because of what they wore... "and let that be a lesson to you...")

The stigma of sluttiness. The shame of nakedess. The reality of using one's provocatively shown skin to gain favor in a male-dominated culture where sex sells flipflops and rotisserie chicken and can buy promotions and fame.
All the messages bare shoulders can say; sexually available, secure in my sexuality, desperate for love, I love my body. I want your body, I am trying to get some sun, it's a hot day... or for me, most obviously to my peers; I'm not wearing garments.

(Of course, not all tank tops are equal, the sporty bright blue thing I am wearing in this pic with black Victoria's Secret bra straps showing is not saying the same thing as the militant feminist bra-less look in a faded gray tank. Just saying...)

Better cover up.

unexpected mail...

in which I get a surprise (un-birthday) card from a dear friend whom i have never met in real life, but whom I have depended upon for some time... thanks Mel, YOU'RE THE BEST!

(sneaky internet stalker... she got my address from a careless pic I posted that had my info on it. LET THAT BE A LESSON TO YOU!!!)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Take This Bread

So, as a follow up to God's Problem, where the question of human suffering and biblical interpretation led Bart Ehrman to agnosticism, we will read Take This Bread, the spiritual memoir of Sara Miles.

Sara was raised a secular atheist. A chef, an activist, a writer... religion, particularly Christianity, was the farthest thing from her mind. Then one day, out of curiosity, she stepped into a church, participated in the eucharist, and was changed forever. In her own words, "Mine is a personal story of an unexpected and terribly inconvenient Christian conversion, told by a very unlikely convert: a blue-state, secular intellectual; a lesbian, a left-wing journalist with a habit of skepticism."

But the inconvenience of it all didn't matter. it happened, and she couldn't ignore it. As a chef, the core of her life was food, and feeing others, that act of 'eating God' spoke to her in a profound way, and in the scriptures she found a powerful spiritual doctrine to correspond:

"Poking around in the Bible, I found clues about my deepest questions. Salt, grain, wine and water; fig trees, fishermen and farmers. There were Psalms about hunger and thirst, about harvests and feasting. There were stories about manna in the wilderness, and prophets fed by birds. There was God appearing in radiance to Ezekiel and handing him a scroll: 'Mortal,' he said, 'eat this scroll,' and Ezekiel swallowed the words, 'sweet as honey,' and knew God.

And then in the New Testament appeared the central, astonishing fact of Jesus, proclaiming that he himself was the bread of heaven. 'Eat my flesh and drink my blood,' he said. I thought how outrageous Jesus was to the church of his time: he didn't wash before meals, he said the prayers incorrectly, he hung out with women, foreigners, the despised and unclean. Over and over, he told people not to be afraid. I liked all that, but mostly I liked that he said he was bread, and told his friends to eat him...

I couldn't stop thinking about another story: Jesus instructing his beloved, fallible disciple Peter exactly how to love him: 'Feed my sheep'... It seemed pretty clear. If I wanted to see God, I could feed people."

And so that is what she did, opening food pantries in her town to feed the needy. Because that is what Jesus wanted her to do, feed his sheep.

Sara covers many themes in this book; conversion, faith, spiritual discovery, scriptural interpretation, political activism, 'good works', the difficult but necessary path of being 'one' with god's people, women in the ministry, etc...

Here is Sara Miles This I Believe essay about her conversion, and you can read excerpts from her book here, here, and here.

We'll discuss this book Aug 13 at The Exponent. I can 't wait to see what you thought.

God's Problem

Discussion of this book is taking place at the Exponent. For more about the book, Dave Banack of Times and Seasons reviewed it, as did Chris Hedges of the Harvard Divinity School. You can also read and/or listen to the NPR interview with author Bart Ehrman.

God’s Problem is about Bart Ehrman’s problem reconciling a belief in an all powerful, all loving, actively involved God with the reality of the enormous suffering in this world. The book is extensive in its scope, and I find myself scanning my notes (several pages worth) and not even knowing where to begin. There are his textual criticisms of the various biblical passages where he contests authorship and origin, there are his extensive explanations of the various biblical answers given, and of course, there are his logic-driven rebuffs to those answers.
In tackling this problem of suffering, Ehrman did an excruciating job of detailing what is meant by that word, giving us gut-wrenching reality checks, the numbers and visuals of ‘suffering’ (i.e., 11 million dead in the Holocaust, 2 million dead at the hands of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, 30 million dead from the 1918 flu epidemic, every minute five people die of malaria, every minute 25 people die of water-related health problems, every five seconds a child dies of starvation, etc, etc, etc…). This book was not just about personal trials and learning experiences, he is talking about the extremities of human suffering that are prevalent throughout the course of human history. Those billions living in pain and dying in horrific ways, was it because they had sinned? Or as a test of faith? Or because of cosmic forces of evil?
God’s Problem brought up all sorts of emotions, challenged many of my assumptions, and left me with more questions than answers. His scriptural knowledge is impressive (I am also enjoying his book Misquoting Jesus), the contradicting explanations for suffering that he writes about have been on my mind a lot lately and his crisis of faith is one that I understand very well. I did find myself occasionally frustrated by the rigidity with which he held to an all-or-nothing view of the bible’s explanation of God. While rejecting the conservative Christian view of the bible as the literal word of God he still stubbornly refuses interpretations that are not solidly rooted in the bible. For example, Jesus as divine and suffering on our behalf, or a God that is less-than omnipotent, or an eternal reward in heaven… those are all concepts that he finds attractive, but not substantiated by enough biblical authors to be in consideration as answers; “…for a biblical scholar like me, I have to admit that it still seems problematic.” (pg 272.) I also found his ‘solution’ in the last few pages to be simplistic and shallow. However, given that the point of God’s Problem is to show how the bible explains suffering, once can hardly fault Ehrman for being rigid with what it says, or for not going beyond the scope of the book by expounding upon how we can alleviate suffering (a complex topic all of it’s own.)
This was a fascinating read, and I can’t wait to hear what you thought of it.

What parts of this book stuck out to you the most?
What arguments did you agree with? Which did you disagree with? And why?
Anyone up to challenging or expanding upon Ehrman’s textual criticism of the biblical authors?
What are examples of LDS scripture and doctrine on suffering, and how do they correspond to the biblical answers Ehrman talks about? Do they shed additional light on the subject?
And, of course, feel free to add anything else you’d like to share about the book or the topic.

(By the way, reading this book made me very excited to begin our next book, Take This Bread, which will be introduced in a few days. Sara Miles, raised an atheist, doesn’t have Ehrman’s burden of ‘biblical scholarship’ and as such finds a powerful interpretation of divinity in the bible, as well as a personal calling to help alleviate suffering in her community.)