At the Festival for Faith and Writing two weekends ago, I went to a poetry open mic and heard an amazing poem called “Garish Dawn” by a woman named Carrie Beyer who has a website here that you should check out. One of the best things about the writers’ conference was my discovery of rich, deep Christian poetry. I got really cynical about poetry shortly after I graduated college and couldn’t get any of mine published in literary magazines. It all seemed like uber-pretentious, obscurantist drivel (if you don’t know what those words mean, it’s people writing crap that only a very small percentage of the population can understand). Anyway, this poem is awesome; It’s about Mary’s reaction to finding out she’s pregnant with Jesus. The one word I didn’t know was “garish,” which just means really bright and loud. There’s a lot of other Christian poetry that is way more thoughtful than trashy Christian pop lyrics but accessible and understandable at the same time. Please go to Carrie’s site and support her! Continue Reading
A couple of weeks ago, at Wheaton College, a very interesting dialogue happened. The campus had organized a speaking event for ex-gay activist Rosaria Butterfield whose story of converting from a leftist lesbian university professor to the homeschooling housewife of a conservative evangelical pastor has made her very popular in the conservative evangelical speaking circuit. LGBT-supporting Wheaton students held a “demonstration” outside the talk that they said wasn’t a “protest.” They held signs saying things like “We’re all loved by God,” “Rosaria’s story is valid, mine is too,” and “I’m gay and a beloved child of God.” Their demonstration was called “More than a single story.” After Rosaria’s presentation, she talked with the LGBT students. Both sides were able to respect and show grace to each other. It was a beautiful witness.
In the blogosphere, the key to building a platform is to make other people think your platform is bigger than it really is. Because people don’t want to read your stuff unless you’re already popular. What this means is you have to figure out ways to create hype and buzz about yourself. But particularly if you’re in the Christian blogosphere like I am, you don’t want to do it in a way that looks arrogant. So that’s become the source of an epidemic of “humble-bragging” among Christian bloggers. It’s always more obvious what you’re doing than you think it is. So I’m wondering if rather than pretending to be humble, it’s actually less obnoxious to go ahead and boast openly in the fullness of your zany, wild hubris like Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman did on Sunday. Continue Reading
My wife and I wanted to watch a light film at home this past Saturday night and then go to bed early. We made the mistake of putting in the movie North Country, which came out in 2005. It was inspired by a landmark sexual harassment case that took place in a Minnesota coal mine. As I was watching the film, I was shocked by how mercilessly the protagonist Josey Aimes was treated by her co-workers, her family, and even the other women in the mine who were victims of the same sexual harassment. I said to my wife, “This seems a little bit over the top,” and she said, “Oh no, this is what women really deal with.” As I saw Josey standing up for her dignity with the whole world against her, I thought a real test of my Christian morality would be if I had the guts to stand up for her if I were working in that mine.
I have been reading Margaret Farley’s Just Love: A Framework for Christian Ethics, the book that got the Vatican in a tizzy over renegade nuns several years ago under the grand inquisitor pope. To be fair, Just Love is more a feminist critique of Christian sexual ethics than it is a Christian sexual ethics, but the critique is apt and worth listening to. While Farley doesn’t fortify herself with Biblical chapter verse citations, her perspective makes sense to me when I consider sexuality under the lens of “I desire mercy not sacrifice.”
The turning point in my Wild Goose experience happened Saturday at about 5:30 pm or so. The band in the photo above, called Ears to the Ground, was on stage at the performance cafe. I had been grumbling in my head that the schedule seemed to be a lot more flexible on Saturday than it had been on Friday when I played. But then this band started a song with the most amazing vocal harmony I have heard in a long time. And I had to close my eyes, because all my internal acrimony had been interrupted by beauty. And when I sat down with members of the band at dinner an hour later, I realized they were the ones God had brought me to Wild Goose to meet.
Wild Goose has been an interesting phenomenon so far. The theme of this years’s festival has been “re-membering the body.” To this end, there have been several random people going around passing out cards inviting us to engage in random acts of hospitality like sharing food with strangers. But it’s such a hard thing to transcend the well-trod paradigm of American culture where we sit in our lawn chairs as a crowd of individuals who aren’t making any effort to know each other and only share in common our adoration of the rock star on the stage. What would have to take place to create an environment in which strangers really could re-member the body of Christ together?
God broke me today in a really good way. You see I’m a recovering cynic who relapses at least several dozen times a day. Nothing is more insufferable to me than an overly cheerful person. Somehow I’ve been programmed to presume that cheerful people are disingenuous. But then there’s my friend Beth Anderson who smiles more than just about anyone I know and is also absolutely genuine to the core. She preached a sermon to us at our provisional retreat this morning about God’s perpetual Pentecost that melted my cynicism. I just hope that it sticks. Continue Reading
Do you think these human beings matter to God? They certainly don’t matter much to us. About a hundred prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are now engaged in a hunger strike. But don’t worry; the prison guards won’t let them die. They force-feed them through tubes in their noses. Apparently one detainee has been force-fed daily since 2005. Continue Reading
I had an outbreak of worldviewism today on my Facebook page today after I shared my post on privilege and Biblical interpretation. Worldviewism is a school of thought within the evangelical world, particularly among the homeschoolers and tribulation preppers, that divides the world into thought-systems (there are often said to be four) which are completely self-enclosed, disconnected, and incompatible with one another. Your task as a Christian is to make sure that your Christian worldview hasn’t been infiltrated by traces of other ones (except for capitalism which isn’t one of the other three worldviews since capitalism is just the way God created the world to work ;-)). Continue Reading