Saturday, October 03, 2015

03 October: Capture

31 days of free writes oct 01, capture

Day 3 of Kate Motaung's 31 days of free writes, October 2015 edition. As usual, we get to write for five minutes, literally free and clear without edits.

Saturday 03 October: Capture

When I discovered the blog button pic for today featured a camera with the word capture, for some reason I came close to raging because it was so ordinary, predicable, so totally conventional. Of course when I take photos I sometimes think in terms of a "capture" of that scene, that moment, that time – in order to capture a memory – but can't people allow themselves flights of fancy?

Today my words about capture relate to people who believe they can capture, contain, restrain the God who more than fills heaven and earth. The idea of a domesticated, contained, captured – captivated? – god was one of the reformer Martin Luther's main theological currents... scripture and our own lives show us a God whose presence and actions are free, elusive, unpredictable, unconventional, and often very very strange from a human perspective. More Luther: "God without strange work is God without proper work!"

The bible brings us a complex history of God's presence and of human attempts to capture, to contain God. Remember the Jerusalem Temple? God did not want to be like those other divinities of the Ancient Near East, closed up in a little box that was the mini-image of the earth and the heavens. After the destruction of the Temple, at least for a while people realized the actual expansive, boundless creation that includes earth and heaven truly was God's temple, place of residence. Had captured God? ...

• • • • • • • • • • end of 5 minutes • • • • • • • • • • 

Short version wrap-up: with a camera, a sketchpad, a shopping bag or other artifact, we can capture a scene, memory, emotion, a product or a purchase but we cannot capture God, yet God has come to earth, captured each of us, and made a home with all creation.

Another observation: I started this post with my anger that was close to rage about how conventional people can be, yet spoken and written language and words (and actions) absolutely carry expected, everyday, conventions of meaning and reference. In other words, what's so bad about the expected? Communication already is hard enough, and would be even more crazy-making if we needed to question and mine the meanings more than we already do behind everything everyone wrote or spoke. I remember my own blog post late last December when I commented on my delight at the female teenager thurifer at the Christmas Eve liturgy and how moving it was especially to watch her censing the gathered assembly. I wrote effectively I'd captured a picture of her, but didn't have permission to post it. What's wrong with that? I'm saying I took her picture. So simple, plain, pure and clear. So conventional, easy to understand, simple to capture.

October 2015 31 days of free writes

Friday, October 02, 2015

What I Learned in September 2015

Each month Emily Freeman hosts What I Learned in... September 2015

what I learned in Sept

1. Surprise! I haven't been annihilated!

kitchen flowers

2. I was so correct that I needed to be back in A Big City.

Wilshire looking west wilshire and westwood 2
wilshire & westwood

3. Dinner from The Taco Lady at the corner of this street is comidas sabrosas, and only $2.00 for a basic chicken or beef taco with abundant condiments!

taco time
taco time

4. During July I started Mindfulness Meditation every Thursday early afternoon at the Hammer Museum; it's been an inspired idea and practice that in September I resolved to continue.

hammer museum banner

hammer museum atrium

5. Finally looking outside myself long enough to realize this very street where I currently live will be an amazing resource for a gallery – or more likely several galleries – of house photographs.

urban fare logo

catalina street house

urban fare logo

6. Not a new learning, yet a life-giving remembering—grace is my star word for this year 2015.

year of grace

Thursday, October 01, 2015

five minute friday: family

31 days of free writes oct 01, calling

This month I'm participating in Kate Motaung's 31 days of free writes, October 2015 edition. Fridays still are Five Minute Fridays, and today we get an extra special Five Minute Friday―Family. I love alliterations!

Friday 02 October: Family

Everyone has psychological, emotional, and related stuff relative to their original biological or adoptive family or families of origin. Defining family can be tricky. In the world of design where I reside a lot of the time, we talk about font families, so that would include every possible variety of a given typeface: bold; italic; light extended; medium condensed; heavy, etc. Some designers name their slanty letters italic, some fontographers call theirs oblique. A typeface "family" means they have enough similarity in style they visually and practically cohere when you use them together—you could say they recognize each other. We sometimes talk about a vegetable family, a flower, or a plant family. The word "familiar" includes the word family. When we speak of being familiar with a place, a concept, a literary or musical work, we mean a degree of recognition of its style and presentation. Familiar with a person we're not necessarily biological related to?!

Even if you grew up in a close to ideal erewhon world, exactly like everyone else, you still have stuff to sort through regarding your family.

• • • • • • • abrupt end of 5 minutes. I won't round it out this time • • • • • • • 

October 2015 31 days of free writes

01 October: Calling

31 days of free writes oct 01, calling

Series Intro:

This month I'm participating in Kate Motaung's 31 days of free writes, October 2015 edition. At times I can be a little defensive, so please remember I haven't edited any of these (yet), though some may turn out to be starter dough for future blog posts. BTW, Kate suggested we could use the one-word prompts that actually were crowd-sourced this time, and that's what I'm doing. Alternately, bloggers could choose their own topics, or fit the prompts into a specific theme. Exactly like Five Minute Fridays, we get to write unedited for five minutes. Simple as that. Scary as that!

Thursday 01 October: Calling

Maybe especially in the church, the concept of having a call or a calling has sacred status. Sacred? Holy? Set apart? Yes, because in many, possibly in most cases, at least related to an assignment within the church, people sense God is the ultimate source of that claim on us, on our time, on our talents. The formal calling may come to an individual from an officially constituted call committee (in the case of calling a pastor or other authorized church staff), from a pastor or church council, session, bishopric, or other configuration of church leaders

But people outside the church and the churches often have a sense of being called to a certain career, to a particular path, to a designated task. Whether or not they're formally religious, whether or not they're spiritual, "other," or one of those recently publicized nones, they've assessed what they're good at doing, their education and experience, and they've looked at the needs around them. They've considered what counsel others have given them, and they've claimed a calling to participate in life, to serve the community and the world in a certain way.

If there's a call, there must be a caller. Right? In the church we claim God ultimately calls us, extends those callings, even though most often reach us through the voice and agency of other humans. If there's a calling, there's a caller, and then there are those who have been called. You know the famous passage from Romans that talks about us humans calling on the Lord?! Interesting stuff!

Romans 10:12-15a, NRSV

12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13For, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." 14But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 15And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent?

So we humans are the callers, and God is the called—the One with a calling!

October 2015 31 days of free writes

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

CEB bible review

CEB bible coverLike most Student Bibles, this edition of the Common English Bible translation of the OT and NT scriptures is supposed to be mainly for teens and very young adults, but nothing in the features that include a literary and historical intro to each book, quick facts, wrestlings with, articles by the "diverse group of biblical scholars" would exclude any competent readers of any age, though with a few exceptions, I'd guess about ten years old would be the lower limit. Section descriptions and chapter numbers in red (ruby, as in rubrics, maybe? Good ecclesiastical color, also the color of the pentecostal reign of the Holy Spirit) help to visually demarcate where you are and what you're reading next. Besides National Geographic-sourced maps at the end that alone almost are worth acquiring the bible, there's even a map index! At the back of the book we also get an article index along with where to find well-known and lesser-known bible passages.

Over the past couple decades I've enjoyed discovering and exploring newer translations and versions of the OT and NT scriptures. The Common English BIble has more literary color and style than others I could name, specifically the Contemporary English Version – CEV – and Good News Translation – GNT. I've referenced the CEB quite a few times in my lesson preparation (yay for internet saturation and ascendancy!), but haven't spent sufficient time to give it a more thorough theological assessment, though I imagine and trust it doesn't carry the burden of conservative evangelicalism that the New International Version – NIV – does, especially in its New Testament. CEB logoNot surprisingly, I checked online and their claim of diverse contributors is very true, with Roman Catholic, Mainline Protestant, and more Conservative Evangelicals adding up to an ecumenical group. Did I mention students and youth ministers? They also formed part of the total team.

Although the type is fairly small, it still is readable in good light. This isn't exactly high quality India Paper, but it's thin enough that the close to 2,000 pages of these scriptures are compact enough to tote around in a backpack without causing undue stress on your actual back. Ideally I'd like wider margins so I could make my own notes, and I haven't yet done any highlighting or underlining—which I'll be doing with colored pencils rather than markers. To sum it all up, I'm delighted and joy-filled to have this new bible.

my amazon review: ecumenical and resourceful

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Doubt

Five minute Friday shifts from last week's easy-to-write about "celebrate" to this week's single word prompt of doubt. As usual, Kate Motaung hosts; as always, we write unedited for five minutes.


"Do not doubt; only trust." Mark 5:35

In the world where the new testament scriptures originated, trust and faith was the expected response to the grace and favor someone might give you. We know from the scriptures – especially from the apostle Paul – that the ability to receive and respond to God's grace, to God's favor, the ability to trust, to lead a life of faithful response, witness, and testimony is in itself a gift of grace. Scripture and the Church testify first of God's grace and God's faithfulness–not nearly as much of human faithfulness. So why do so many of us get hyped up with the the excitement of it's all going to be fine, discover themselves actually living and responding with joy and excitement, and a scant few minutes later, become overwhelmed with doubts? Doubt that God or anyone else truly cares; doubt that I'm any good, that the world or the church – or the world of the church –has a place for me. A calling to me.

It seems to be a major aspect of what we sometimes call the human condition: despite grace, finding ourselves again in creaturely brokenness and bondage and doubt, yet at the same time still redeemed by grace to walk in trust. Left to our own devices and everyday druthers, we can see little other than the negative side of situations and other people, the negative inside our own selves. We tend to choose not life but death.

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Seems to me the reformer Martin Luther had something to say about that.

In Mark 5:36 that opened my free write, the Greek in what we commonly translate as "do not doubt," actually is "do not fear, only trust."

This evening I listened to about half the songs in my YT worship play list; it includes Kent Henry's gently rocking "No Condemnation," with text from Romans 8:1:

There is therefore now no condemnation
For those who are in Christ Jesus
For the law of the Spirit of life,
in Christ Jesus, will set you free
From the law of sin and death

BTW, because I've gone through my blog and hopefully deleted all YT links because they come and go so unpredictably, I'm not linking to the song, but it's easy to find.

glorify thy name 5 minute friday icon

season of creation: eucharistic prayer

Season of Creation 1B, Earth Sunday Season of Creation 2B, Humanity Sunday Season of Creation 3B, Sky Sunday Season of Creation 3B, Sky Sunday

Although I wrote this season of creation eucharistic prayer for RCL year A, it would be fine for any time that especially emphasizes gifts from the heart of the earth or the agricultural cycle. I truly didn't think to post it earlier, but here it is for this coming Mountain Sunday, and for more general use, too.