Monday, February 28, 2005

thanks to our annual 'bring out your dead' oscar party last night, i am not exactly excited about exploring the first four chapters of the Book of Order tonight.

especially since i left it at home this morning...

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Dogwood Blue: Am I Going to Hell?

i remember the day i became a christian. i was 13 and i was brushing my teeth. i put down my toothbrush and thought, i accept jesus into my life as my lord and savior. then i went back to brushing my teeth.

a little bit later, while i was dressing, i had another thought. 'wait. what if that wasn't real? what if i just thought that because i know i'm supposed to? how do i know that it took?' so i did it again. and waited. i did it through dinner, before sleep and kept waiting for some kind of sign that, ok you did it, you're saved, you're not going to hell, you won't be left behind during the rapture and you won't have to wear a burning 666 in your forehead. (i was a baptist, you know?)

this went on for weeks, until i was baptized (which was such a frightening thing for me my father had to put me under twice.) then i just relaxed into it for the next few years - until college, when the questions started again. this time i started asking myself, 'dude, what if you only became a christian because you were scared of hell? does that count? isn't that coersive? does coersion negate choice?' and then that got me started in this loop of free will vs. being a puppet, blah blah blah.

then in grad school, i took a break from all that dithering. i could feel my orthodoxy chipping away, chunk by chunk. whoops, there goes not smoking. oops, beer sure is good. whoa, so that's an orgasm. (there was no way i was going to be the oldest virgin in america, no way) then came the period of serious darkness and nihilism in my life when it seemed there was no way of getting back to God.

and then i joined this church here in chicago, after 3 years of skeptically reassessing why i believe what i believe. and this question of being hellbound - i have no idea. wouldn't it be funny, though? wouldn't it be the greatest joke ever?

i asked my dad about it, who told me he's constantly approached by his congregation asking the same thing. 'am i really saved? am i really going to hell? how do i know this is true?' after all this time, we are still searching and afraid and blind. grace is in front of us and we still hesitate to take it.

i wish i could continue like this for a while, but the banana i just ate for breakfast gave me gas, i think. gotta go.

Monday, February 21, 2005

tonight was my first deacon training session. lovely people, wonderful presbyterian trivia. did you know there are approx. 2.4 million presbyterians in the u.s.? 173 presbyteries in the nation? 17 synods?

did you also know the books of confession and order weigh approximately 8 pounds?

hm, yeah.

next week: how to serve communion.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

1st church blog awards

Evangelical Underground

i was pretty interested in this until i saw who he linked to...michelle malkin, the rabid pinay who thinks it was good the u.s. govt interred japanese americans.

no thanks.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

letter to my father

(here's a letter i wrote my dad last week while in the throes of a mild faith crisis. just thought i'd share it. we all go through something like this, right?)

Dad -

[snip - stuff about his 61st birthday]

I'm writing because of a bit of a crisis I'm going through, and I've been going through it for a while now. It's about faith and how Christians practice it - on the most basic level. It's not about scripture or doctrine or anything intellectual, but about basic Christianity. I realize that I'm more progressive in my ideas than most others; I tolerate gays and lesbians, I actually think the poor should be taken care of, I oppose this administration and its policies, I drink a little, I smoke a little, and no - I'm not a virgin, either.

So I realize all that. I realize that more traditional Christians would probably look at me and think, She's not really saved. Whatever. I look at them, and at all the screaming fundamentalists and self-righteous church people, and I see how unloving they are. How narrow and smug and unlike Christ they appear to be and I get angry. I get really angry. And sad. But mostly angry. And I feel disgust that they could call themselves Christians when their hearts are so small and their brains even tinier.

You know, like the Dobson/gay sponge bob thing: why can't Christians stop hiding behind scripture. We all know what those 7 verses say about men laying with men. We all know it. Just say what you really think and TEN let's see how Christian you are. Dobson should say it: "Gay people are disgusting and shouldn't be allowed to live around decent folk. We don't want them in our schools, neighborhoods, churches. They don't deserve families, they don't need to work around us. They shouldn't be tolerated at all. Shun them, hate them, disavow them because they are sinners of the worst kind of sin."

Why can't the church say what it really means, deep down underneath the piety and the churchiness? Why can't the church look into its own heart and say the things that live there? SAY IT! The veneer of righteousness over this dishonesty and callous unconcern makes me sick.

I still pray and I still go to church and I'm still faithful (despite various struggles, whatever) and I still Believe, but I have to admit that looking at these people who would rather save an embryo than care for the woman who's carrying it, who'd rather let the poor sink to the bottom, who'd rather impose their faith on others while lining up to protect the interests of the rich - I look at all this and I start thinking that present Christianity is all a joke.

It's not that I'm suddenly going to turn into an atheist. It's just that I'm beginning to harbor some really harsh feelings and thoughts about my 'fellow' Christians. I wish they'd shut up. They're ignorant, selfish, anti-intellectual, racist, misogynist, self-righteous, hateful and generally wrong about a lot. Am I wrong about a lot? Probably. When my reckoning comes, I'm sure I'll be totally surprised with stuff. But you know what - that's MY burden. That's MINE. Not anyone else's.

In May, I'm going to be officially a deacon (you can't forget that you said you'd come to Chicago for it); one of the things I'm looking forward to is volunteering for intercessory prayer. We have a little chapel and every Sunday a deacon volunteers to sit there, waiting for someone to come in for prayer. Everyone avoids that duty, but I actually want to do it. That's how I'd like to see my faith - a quiet thing waiting for someone to join in so you can partner and petition together. It's a community of shared burdens.

What I see around me is so different than that. There's no shared burden.

Ach. I guess I just want you to tell me that these people who are making me hate my own faith are just a tiny minority. That most Church people aren't like this.

Love you,


Thursday, February 10, 2005

my people and the GOP

i love my community. i really do. for all our issues and problems, we have a healthy dislike of lying. we have an almost paranoid fear of history repeating itself. and we have a healthy distrust of the GOP.

though recent conventional wisdom would like to show that GOP inroads in the african american community is growing, a long term view of those numbers would indicate otherwise.

yes, there are black ministers crowing about gay marriage but the armstrong williams scandal (our folks don't like steppin fetchits) and the recently demonstrated presidential ignorance of the civil rights act of 64 just keep reinforcing our ideas about republicans and black folk - the two just don't mix.

(quiet as kept, if those black ministers agitating against gay marriage would just turn around and take a look at who's really directing their choirs, sitting at their organs and in their congregations, they'd have a different point of view.)

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

President Discusses Strengthening Social Security in Florida

quick. our president has begun speaking in tongues!

THE PRESIDENT: Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised.

Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

Okay, better? I'll keep working on it. (Laughter.)

Monday, February 07, 2005

black baptists stand up: whoa

Iraq war brings unity for black baptists - news from ekklesia

found via jesus politics.

i'm heartened and wondering why i haven't come across this news before.

bad girl

found this post on new link waspjerky. it's awesome to find such contrarians in the church today.

who knew?? uncovered feet=exposed genitals!!
that's hotter (i.e., more problematic) than a pirate romance.


Friday, February 04, 2005

stupidity travels

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Milan bans Da Vinci parody

when i took art history classes at the University of Large Midwestern-ness what always fascinated me were the backstories. like, who modeled for these masterpieces.

wanna know who modeled for these things? prostitutes, other artists, bums and friends of the artist. in other words, in the 'original' painting of the last supper, i'm pretty sure no one was thinking about higher things like spirituality. i'm pretty sure the chalice on the table was actually used to quaff some wine and maybe the bread was left over from the evening's debauch the night before? you think the PAINTING is actually holy?

get a grip, people. it's art. and this is several removes from art - it's advertising. if your faith is so weak you can't take a parody why not become a hermit? crawl up mountain and sit there alone. all alone. no 'offensive' images to make you think badly of a painting of a scene in the bible.


Thursday, February 03, 2005

they break it, we own it.

I avoided the halting, robotic tones of our POTUS last night. I couldn’t take it. Last year, my distaste of the POTUS drove me nearly insane. I’m determined to hold on tightly to mental health so I told A—that we weren’t watching it. Not when everything he says is lies and stupidity.

Bitch, PhD has a nice summary of what this crap ‘ownership society’ means – “you’re all on your own, fuckers.” Think your employer owes you anything? Think again – pay for your healthcare all on your own – you own that. Think insurance companies have an obligation to insure you? Think again. You own it. Think your government has an obligation to make sure its citizens face the future with some kind of net in place so they don’t end up beggars in the street? Too bad – you own your own future so you better make damn sure you can afford it.

That’s what ownership means – those who can afford to survive. Those who can’t – too fucking bad. I wonder if anyone knows what an ownership society looks like.

So what are we (those of us under 55) to do? Most likely we’ll stare blearily at the numbers flashing in front of us and we’ll say, ‘Dude, I don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.’ We won’t realize that the benefits our meager suck-ass jobs give us are on the chopping block in about 4 years. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be 39 – too old to suddenly refinance my quite comfortable pseudo-middle class life.

This morning a coworker and I were trying to figure out the details of this Social Security plan on the front pages of the WSJ. Some questions – is this mandatory? What do they mean when they say ‘voluntary’? Like, what happens if, in 2010, I say to the government, “Screw you – keep my money where it is and when I’m 60 I better see it.” What happens then? Where are they getting their numbers? What happens if I die – who gets my benefits then? Where does my money go? Would my beneficiary get survivor benefits? What about disability? Would I be able to roll over whatever money they’re talking about into my current Fidelity 401(k)? I’m totally confused. And if they want to start doing this with fucking health care insurance, I’m totally screwed because that’s already a labyrinthine tale of “Huh?”

Our City on the Hill is beginning to look like a Besieged Fortress, lit on the inside while the growing masses get hungrier and angrier down below. Certain communities are used to this. For them, society has always been like this. They’ve always lived on the margins. But we’re not used to it, are we? We’ll freak out. When the middle class starts looking more like the poor, I’d like to see who’ll be left to take our side. When are we going to wise up and start asking ourselves ‘In whose INTEREST is it to dismantle what little social safety nets we have?” Who profits? (Think the long game, people – long game.)

Do we want to wait that long or is there something we can do NOW to stop this hysterical juggernaut into insanity? (Remember when the world maintained an appearance of rationality? Remember when we didn’t dread every new sentence emanating from our Fearless Leader’s mouth? Remember when life was actually good, or at least not like some horrific Ayn Rand novel)?

I’d really love to see us stop being sheep. Really. Stop it.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

the E word - again

The Revealer: It's the Movement, Stupid

this is the issue of time that still sits on our kitchen counter. i avoid it. it's going to give me an ulcer.

how about compiling a list of the top progressives of faith who aren't necessarily evangelical? like, what about john buchanan, the pastor at my church? (cough)

(i'm totally aware that i automatically position evangelical as 'conservative' opposite 'progressive.' sorry. force of habit. and stultifyingly accurate.)

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Dude Where's My Retirement

Dude Where's My Retirement

in all this political mumbo-jumbo i've noticed that no one really pays attention to Gen X or younger. all the issues are cast around people my parents' age or older. (hence, gay marriage being such a bug a boo.)

so, for us, a guy has created this website to get the word out about what social security privatization will do for us. the site's new but spread the word if you can. (all two of you who come here to read stuff.)