Oct 26, 2008

So much to write! So few quiet hours.

I need to vomit everything onto this blog and I sincerely hope you will not get hit by the spray.

We bought a house!  It's a cute little two bed, two bath in Edgewood which is on the East side of the city.  We're still in the city but in a neighborhood, or "the hood" which is what our neighbors have proudly welcomed us to.  It's a place where people smile and say hello but if you stand at your kitchen window at certain times during the day, you may see a drug deal go down.  It's a place where your neighbors offer to help you with your yard work followed by the assurance that they won't charge you much.  I like it a lot and I'm looking forward to seeing  what our place will be in this community.

Craigslist!  Is my new favorite thing.  I sold most of our big furniture on it before we moved (almost all of it for more than I paid for it at yard sales), then I've furnished most of our new house on it.  I've also learned how to make a few bucks here and there on it.  I bought a lamp, ottoman, rocking chair and side table for $40, then sold the rocking chair and side table for $50.  Yes!  I love getting paid $10 to take a lamp and ottoman.

We're visiting new churches in our area.  We love our church in Austell but we're just too far away now. We need to be a part of a congregation that is in our community.  

I got nominated for a "Suzi Award" which I would like to say is like an Atlanta Tony, except that it's not.  Because nobody's really heard of it, not even people in Atlanta.  But I was nominated for featured actress for "The Last Schwartz", nonetheless.   Here's the list

Anybody else ready for this election to be over?  I'm so sick of hearing "coverage" of 4 people talking in circles around ridiculous issues and acting like their policies are so different from the other guy/gal/changer/maverick.  I'm sick of hearing people say "free health care, yay!"  As though they have no idea that they still have to pay for it (or have never been inside a post office).   Or saying we just have to vote against someone who supports abortion.  As though there aren't hundreds of other issues that affect millions of fragile lives.  I'm sick of not hearing any, ANY third party coverage simply because those parties don't have money.  They don't have the cash to buy the media like Republicans and Democrats do and millions of people will vote for "the lesser of two evils" simply because they don't know there's something that they can actually believe in out there.  So I'll be angry at whatever the outcome is on November 3rd but I will be so flippin' happy it's over.

Lastly, and this deserves a post of it's own which will come later, I said goodbye to my little brother, Joel, for two years.  He's serving overseas and left about two weeks ago.  It was a sad and exciting weekend of goodbyes.  My whole family (all 7 of us - 8 including Eric) were able to be together which was wonderful.  I cried probably 4 times over the weekend which is a lot for me.  There's a connection between siblings that can't be described or likened to any other relationship.

Next time, I will narrow my focus and write something more than vomit.  For now, thanks for helping with the clean up.

Sep 5, 2008

The Ultimate Love-Hate Relationship

Politics and I have a love-hate relationship.

I love picking my guy/gal and rooting for him/her much like I did the U.S. women's gymnastics team at the Olympics. Except somewhere, deep down, I'd like to believe my life will be affected by the winner of this one.

I hate that maybe it won't be. Or if it is, we'll just fight over who to blame it on.

I love yelling the logical fallacies and screaming against the ridiculous rhetoric until my throat is sore and the T.V. is covered in my saliva.

I hate the conventions. The lies. The painted faces. The lack of free speech.

I love the faces of politician's children who hate it almost as much as I do and I can hope that maybe the next generation won't be so fake.

I hate that this will never be.

I love that I have friends (mostly from a church I have attended at some point or another) who are staunch, hard-core, 'til they die Republicans and friends (mostly from a theatre I have worked with at some point or another) who are staunch, hard-core, 'til they die Democrats.

I hate that they would never really have a good conversation with each other.

I love that they say the exact same things about each other, in the exact same spiteful tones, and I just laugh and laugh and laugh and wish they could hear their counterpart.

I hate that they wouldn't recognize themselves in the mirror lying at the political line.

I love being a mostly-libertarian in that world. Because Republicans just nod about that. They don't really know what it means and don't care unless they hear we don't think the federal government should be in charge of abortion and gay marriage. And democrats feel it is their post-modern duty to be cool with whatever works for somebody else. As long as that is not Republicanism.

I hate that we all think we are right but somebody has to be wrong because we can't all be right and we can't even try everybody's way because we don't have time so somebody has to give in or loose or die and we all have to try the ideas of whoever won the most power by telling the prettiest lies and it will still never work because we live in a world filled with pain and sadness and sorrow and run on sentences and mostly self-centeredness but at least...

I love that politics make me look forward to heaven.

Because then, it will be done. Where there is no Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party, Independent, Communist, Socialist, etc. And we'll finally see Right.

I love that Right won't look like anything I've ever, ever, ever seen before.

Sep 4, 2008

Fall's Fingers

This morning I awoke to the fingers of autumn pulling back the veil of a humid Georgia summer. It was a thick veil. One you'd see on a bride full of shame or sadness who wished to remain hidden. But the groom, beautiful Fall, forgives her oppressive stinginess and blaring judgments and begs to slowly open the veil a bit more. She gives in. And Fall, in all his soft loveliness, cools the harsh rigidness of Summer's days and not only forgives but forgets.

Aug 26, 2008

The Path to Fairyland

Some of you know I took a trip recently to Prince Edward Island with my bosom friend Laura Kate. My expectations of the trip were extremely high but I could not have even imagined a more lovely, gorgeous, imaginative, home-away-from-home, heart-breakingly-delicious, so wonderful it awakes an unquenchable thirst, and restful trip than the one we experienced. We saw the L.M. Montgomery sights, the "Anne" sights (though not the overly touristy ones), and lots of gorgeous scenery with red cliffs pushing their way into clear blue oceans and grass covered hills bathed in tall, swaying patches of Queen Anne's Lace and Golden Rod. I hope to write more of my experiences, though I could never cover it all.

Laura Kate gave me a copy of The Story Girl for my birthday which is a lesser known L.M. Montgomery tale written not long after the publication of the first Anne book. The author claims it was her favorite. Today, I read this paragraph and have probably read it about five times since:

There is such a place as fairyland - but only children can find the way to it. And they do not know that it is fairyland until they have grown so old that they forget the way. One bitter day, when they seek it and cannot find it, they realize what they have lost; and that is the tragedy of life. On that day the gates of Eden are shut behind them and the age of gold is over. Henceforth they must dwell in the common light of common day. Only a few, who remain children at heart, can ever find that fair, lost path again and blessed are they among mortals. They, and only they, can bring us tidings from that country where we once sojourned and from which we must evermore be exiles. The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and story-tellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland.
Lucy Maud Montgomery - The Story Girl

I think, in Prince Edward Island, the door to fairyland is much easier to find. Especially for those of us who have grown old and have considerably dimmed eyesight. But there is a door here in the city, behind the smog, under the sirens, beneath the asphalt, below the poverty line, and far far away from anything resembling glamor, it is there. It's knob needs a good polishing and cobwebs have overtaken the frame. One might almost be afraid to open it. But if you can find it, bring us the tidings and the tales.

And we will thank you.

Aug 3, 2008

If the Only Thing We have to Fear, is Fear, What do We do with Crane Death?

Every morning I face my fear. It looms above me, literally and figuratively, as I walk to work. It is a thing called a crane. It makes me scared because of a thing called “crane death” which happens when somebody doesn’t put the crane on quite right and the crane comes crashing hundreds of feet down to the sidewalk and anybody walking on it. If somebody is walking on that sidewalk, that is how “crane death” occurs.

I am walking and I am usually reading a book because that’s called killing three birds, no make that four birds, with one stone (exercise, getting to work, reading, and showing the Iraqis or Saudi Arabians or Cheney's that I don’t need their oil) which also today is called multi-tasking because dead birds are politically incorrect. When I get to the cranes, my pace picks up a little. I try to keep reading but the words go blurry. I look up because maybe if I see the crane begin to fall, I can run and avoid “crane death”. I look down because maybe if I don’t know “crane death” is about to happen, I’ll never know and just die instantly in peace. At all times I picture my body three feet in front of me. Though I am standing it has been squished down to about two inches. Flesh, bones and intestines squeeze out and wrap around the gigantic pieces of metal which have just acted as my soul’s train to heaven. That’s what “crane death” looks like in my mind.

I am probably more afraid of drowning than I am of “crane death” but I don’t have many opportunities to drown. I don’t swim to work, I walk. “Crane death”, seems much more imminent.

I am also afraid of roaches. Though lately, I have become more angry at them than afraid of them. When I see one in my apartment, I scream like a burglar has just entered. If my husband is home, I run to wherever he is and keep screaming and shivering until he has found the roach, killed it, flushed it, and given me a nasty look for hurting his ears. If he is not home, I turn into a raging banshee. I grab the can of Raid and a shoe and both drown and beat it to death. While I flush it down the toilet I yell, “this is where I put my own human waste! This is your end! You don’t mess with me. You come into my house, this is how you leave!” This death is probably much worse than “crane death”. To be drowned, poisoned, squished and flushed is not a nice way to go.

I do not normally affirm the killing of bugs if they are outside. If bugs could read, this would be my message for them:

Dear Bugs,

Outside is your home, inside is my home. If I am outside in your home, I will not bother you. If you are inside in my home, I will kill you. I will poison, drown and beat you to death. You have ALL of outside. That’s really a lot when you think about it, if you can think. I come to your home sometimes because it’s the only way I have to get places. But when you have so much home, it doesn’t seem like too much to ask. Me? I have a little two bedroom apartment. Please do not come in. You’re not welcome and you might die.

Love, Bethany

So my fears of late have been “crane death” and roaches, because I face both of them nearly every day. They are both things that I really cannot control. They are both things I cannot reason with. They are merely things of which I have irrational fear.

Last week when I was walking to work, I realized I could take a different route. There are lots of ways to the Woodruff Arts Center from 4th St. and I could use a different one. But then I didn’t want to, because this way every day I face my fear. I say, “crush me if you want to. I can’t poison you, drown you, or beat you.” So, I’ll just look my fear in the anthropomorphic eye that I’ve given it (it’s a green eye) and keep walking right under.

What are you afraid of?

Jul 17, 2008

Blue Like Jazz

The infamous book somewhere between "Evangelical" and "Emergent" written by Donald Miller which swept my generation with its ideas and sincerity. I finally read it.

Hi Bethany, welcome to 2003. So glad you could make it.

Nearly everyone who asked me if I had read it (which is nearly everyone I have ever known) gave me mixed reviews. "I don't agree with everything it says" or "read it with a grain of salt." So I finally sat down last weekend, pen in one hand, salt shaker in the other ready to pummel this beast of Christian literature* to the ground. And I have to say, I loved it. Here is why:

1.) It was a book where words became art. He told stories in a way that you saw them, you felt them, and then you thought about them. Many authors are happy to accomplish one of these aspects, let alone all three.

2.) The style was "memoir" not "systematic theology". I love memoirs. I've never read one by a Christian before. It was a new experience. I also love systematic theology when the mood is right (candles, roses, a glass of wine) but the expectation of the book is completely different. Now I know that all Christians are and should be theologians. If not, they usually seem a little flaky. Like Miss Teen South Carolina or those really good Pillsbury biscuits. But when I started reading this book for what it was, a memoir by someone who desires to have and live good theology (a term which of course is a bit subjective), I began to enjoy it as a tale of another person's life. What he learned from it. What it makes me think about and around and over. Not a book about what one should think.

3.) It was written with love and humility. Looking at where "Don" is coming from, it seems like he could have written a very sarcastic and angry book. Like the book I would've written. Instead, he is careful to write with a loving and non-judgemental attitude which proves very effective considering his final premise is "hey, loving (and liking) people is really stinkin' important."

4.) He's friends with someone named Penny. And that's a cool name. Though now it makes me think of LOST. Still.

5.) It made me think about a lot of things but it also made me feel something. It's hard for a book to get to my heart these days. Especially one qualifying as Christian literature*. I don't know what it is about me. Somebody told my husband they thought I was a "hard-ass". I guess I don't really know what that means except that maybe it's hard for a book to reach all the way through my head to my heart. So maybe I am one. But I wasn't when I read Blue Like Jazz and that's gotta mean something.

Maybe I didn't "agree" with every word he wrote or every conclusion he drew. I can't think of a book where I have. I can also assume that Donald Miller's purpose in writing the book wasn't to have a bunch of people agreeing with him. I imagine, rather, he had a lot of things that he needed to write. He really needed to write them. So he did. Then he hoped people would read the things he wrote and maybe think about some of them and maybe relate to some of them and maybe just enjoy some of them.

Or maybe that's just what I did. Me and my pen and my salt shaker.

*by "Christian literature" I mean a book written by an author who is a Christian, not that the literature itself is saved and going to heaven when it dies. Just to clarify.

Jul 13, 2008

Consume or Be Consumed 2.0

It turns out that ample research would be a good thing before posting a blog.  Primary sources are probably better than secondary.  As I looked into this Willow Creek deal a little more today I decided to watch the videos featuring Bill Hybels and Greg Hawkins.  Their thoughts were not nearly as "180" as I had been lead to believe.  

Greg Hawkins is still using charts and marketing techniques to try to understand the kingdom of God.  He mentioned the word "Scripture" (the same mention I put in the quote yesterday) but didn't actually cite any Scripture in the 13 minutes I watched him try to explain how they would take their church to the "next level".

Bill Hybels had a very revealing interview about his thoughts on the buzz around what Willow Creek was actually saying with their research.  If you don't want to watch the whole thing I think I can sum it up in one question and answer:

Interviewer: Controversy and misinformation has been swirling all around this Reveal thing since last October, in fact there was a blog, from the Out of Ur blog (the blog I cited yesterday) that was titled "Willow Repents".  How'd you react to that?  Repent of what?

Hybels: Well, that's how I reacted to it.  (He laughs.)  I wondered, what horrible, immoral thing have I done?  (He laughs some more.)  I think it was a poor choice of words, actually, because we have made strategic adjustments on an annual (or) every other year to try to be more effective in building an Acts 2 church.  I don't think when you make a strategic adjustment it qualifies under the word "repent".  I think every evangelical knows that's kind of a loaded up term and I think someone wanted to get some action on a blog and I think it was very unfortunate and quite disingenuous to title the article that way.  But such as it is, I will be the first to say, we learn and grow at Willow.  We make no apologies for wanting to get better...

I don't think anyone is asking them to apologize for getting "better", do you?  And yeah, repentance is a huge term loaded with lots of connotations like admission and need and sin.  And yeah, you better believe I have a hell of a hard time doing it.  But if finding out that you, as a church, have not truly helped believers out of the milk drinking stage of their faith (and have held out your model as one that all churches should follow), is not reason for some serious repentance, then what is?  

That would be my question for Pastor Hybels: of what should one repent?

"Building an Acts 2 church," he says.  It's interesting in Acts 2 that the first thing Peter tells the church to practically, relevantly, immediately do (because that's all that matters right?) is to "repent."  Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins...  

"Do"ing church.  That's the buzz word.  The phrase we use for building the kingdom.  "How we do church," you hear it all the time.  The disciples of Christ in Acts 2 don't really "do" church.  They live church.  They devote themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  They sold all their crap and shared everything they had left.  They met in each others' homes.  Maybe the point is to stop "doing" church and start building the kingdom.  

Living the kingdom.

But first we, I, must repent.