May grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord! desert spirit's fire is an ecumenical celebration of God's Word Incarnate, Jesus Christ, and a festival rejoicing in all creation—welcome!
Rethink Church's daily prompt for Tuesday of Advent 1 is "peace." My peace is a picture of palm trees along Mission Bay Drive a couple weeks ago, after some huge resolution in my life—back to the California I knew and loved!
1. Turkey: love it? hate it? self-basted? fry it or roast it? Tofu-turkey? Tell me more. (I’ve only had one roasted turkey come out totally delish so I’m fishing for your tips!)
Neither love nor hate, but I enjoy turkey: oven-roasted (not deep-fried), and on my plate a little light, a little dark, some nicely browned skin, lots of gravy.
2. Stuffing: bagged? homemade? sage? sausage? cornbread? oysters? nuts? Got any inspiration for me?
"Stuffing inside the turkey," "dressing outside in a separate dish." Half corn-meal intensive cornbread, half white bread. Onions, celery, maybe mushrooms. Not too heavy on sage or other seasonings.
3. Cranberries: When we celebrated Thanksgiving in Europe one year, our French friends thought we were nuts to choose a very sour berry and then load it with sugar. (Let alone the stuff that comes out of a can in a blob of gelatinous ooze!) What do you do with cranberries?
Either one of those cans dumped wholesale into a dish, or cranberries and oranges ground up with sugar added.
4. Potatoes: (Boil ‘em, mash ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew…) What’s your pleasure?
On T-Day, mashed with some lumps, and lots of gravy. Any other day, I'll l take my taters any old way. I love them!
5. Pie: I’m married to the Pie Man. Anything but coconut pie floats his boat. What do you make? (or buy?) Pumpkin? Pecan? Apple?
I enjoy most pies (especially love graham cracker crust), but for Thanksgiving, pumpkin / squash pie is best.
BONUS: A recipe that you’ve tried out and will make it to your table this year.
2.If you were a Panda Bear that could speak O.k., even that is too random for me. You are moving to a new office. You can only take five books with you (pretend there is no thing such as kindle, nook, etc.). What would they be BESIDES teh Bible, which is already written on your hearts, yes?
1. Random pick of almost anything by Walter Brueggemann. 2. Dawn Without Darkness. I noticed there's now an amazon review (which I intend to do soon) by the photographer. Way back in the day I borrowed Dawn Without Darkness multiple times from the church library, and the pastor finally told me I could keep it. 3. Since it's best to play these fives quickly to keep them fun, would it be too too too theology geeky to include Book of Confessions and Book of Concord? This is my blog so that's my call, and I'll say it would be fine. 4. I'm also a big fan of Jürgen Moltmann, eternally, endlessly hoping for realized eschatology in our lifetime. I'll include one of his classics, The Church in the Power of the Spirit 5. I used to love the poetry and wisdom of Markings by Dag Hammarskjold, and need to reacquaint myself with it. I have a hardcover copy the head librarian let me take when the library where I worked way back in HS was "condemning" books.
3. If you had a superpower that could give you a five hour retreat, and you could go anywhere in the world to spend those five hours on retreat (because you have superpowers, ya’ know?), where would you go?
To an uncrowded beach on either coast of the USA, any island (Bali?) or any country anywhere, to luxuriate in the sand, ankle-splash in the water, dream underneath the sky, enjoy a picnic lunch. I love the desert, I heal and thrive in the desert, but my retreat needs to include water.
4. What piece of music, song, hymn, etc. are you diggin’ right now?
5. Use the following words in a sentence (or two): Tangle, dribble, hook, Panda, shark, smile, worry, island.
With a loud smile, the Panda watched the polar bear dribble a ball (did you see that polar bear on YT or on TV?). Meanwhile, on the island pier, I tried to un-tangle my fishing line, but without real worry, as I had zero desire to hook a shark.
We need to quit imagining prophets as only foretellers or social / political protesters, because "Most of all, [prophets] understood the distinctive power of language, the capacity to speak in ways that evoke newness 'fresh from the word.'" Newness that springs from trustfully covenanting rather than frantically consuming. An alternative way of being that emerges from being satisfied with relative scarcity that's actually shalom-full "enough" for everyone in the community.
If this easily readable, "slim volume" has an ongoing theme, it's that only when we acknowledge people, possibilities, and opportunities are forever gone, and begin grieving their loss, will the paradoxical possibility of new life from death arise. In fact, in Yahweh's terms, history – newness that marks the end of uninterrupted forevers in the manner any imperial (political, economic, educational, religious) establishment measures and regulates time [chronos] – always begins with barrenness and bereavement. Read and trust the scriptural witness!
This is radical stuff about newness from the ground up, "life in the shape of death" in the final no to sin, exploitation, empire, consumerism from the Calvary cross that at dawn on the day of resurrection becomes yes to life! Just as in his later writings, in this vintage book Brueggemann reminds us we experience that newness in baptism, then relive it in the eucharist. The Prophetic Imagination is vintage Brueggemann, and it still doesn't get any better than this.
Particularly for those of us within the theological and ecclesiastical traditions of the Reformation who tend to run with a Paul – Augustine – Luther theological focus and a Heilsgeschichte theological perspective, a strong emphasis on human freedom, responsibility, capability, and competence doesn't quite ring true. Wisdom literature? For sure I'm neither the first nor the last to believe on some level that Proverbs and Ecclesiastes don't really belong in the biblical canon—or in a third or a fourth canon, either. Although Brueggemann discusses Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes to some extent, more than anything he reminds us we discover the same ethos along with material from similar sources in the "J" or Yahwist Pentateuch source—supremely in the life and style of King David, to a more limited degree in the social, religious, and economic styles of United Monarchy bookends Kings Saul and Solomon. Beyond that, the author points out the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth (particularly in Matthew's gospel account) reveals Jesus as Son of David, as a King like unto David, and in human wholeness, freedom, and a rare ability to seize the day – including the day of resurrection – very much as the New David, dancing in the face of death.
We confess we follow the Way of the crucified and risen One. What does it mean to take his name upon us? An arduous journey to the cross? Possibly for a literally select few. What about assuming the fullness of responsible, responsive, humanity? Everyone in the Western world does not spend their days hung up with sin and guilt; in fact, even most protestants aren't mini-Luthers. This viewpoint isn't necessarily one to assume in place of Paul – Augustine – Luther; it's complementary to it in the sense of completing or rounding out, as a way to balance our days. At least since the late twentieth century, fewer and fewer have been walking that walk. Between a little too much, "God, be merciful to me, a miserable sinner, I'm here to claim forgiveness again" amongst church-going adults, and too many parents coddling their kids, absolving their offspring of taking charge of their own lives, every one of us could benefit from the wisdom literature's exploration of wise, fruitful living. You could call this celebration of human freedom, responsibility, capability, and competence a kind of "possibility thinking," and why not?
"They cut me down, and I leapt on high; I am the life that'll never, ever die. I am the Lord of the dance, said he."
Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City, by Russell Shorto on Amazon. Today, 22 October 2013, is the book's publication day!
Russell Shorto knows his Amsterdam! He knows the social, economic, political, and religious history of the city; he has done a lot of research (of course you need already to know what something is about in order to know what to look up and discover more about), and brought all of it together extremely well.
I love Amsterdam, city of canals, and city of bicycles. I've loved the city since before I first ventured there. I love landing at Schiphol and the sound of church bells. I love that some of my progenitors were Dutch. I even love the cold wind blowing off the North Sea. And I love how Russell Shorto describes the city's human scale, its dual emphases on the individual and on a fully collaborative society that accomplishes virtually nothing without getting it done together. I had to read this book!
In school most of us learned something about how humans working together claimed The Netherlands from the sea; ocean trade routes and trading in commodities; speculative financial markets; exploration and settlement of "new worlds" formed part of most high school and undergrad curricula. How interesting it was to read biographical sketches of at least a dozen truly historically pivotal Amsterdammers like Rembrandt and Spinoza and van Gogh―with each account of each life exactly the correct length.
The author articulates ways all these and many more aspects of living in Amsterdam (and truly, of being Dutch) contributed to the development of an almost unimaginably diverse and complex world within a world that, in general, has been a safe place for differences.
Amazon send me a prepublication "bound galley," so I don't have end notes or index, but I will take advantage of the splendid bibliography. Five stars for sure, and a keeper for my own bookshelves.
Defining terms, I'll take "social" to be all or most of the people in a given geographical area or population cohort. Such as? Everyone in Current City, since for the most part, people are most interested in local concerns. I'll run with "justice" mostly as distribution of goods and services (implying also bads and disservices) in terms of who gets what, when, how, why... however, at least this time, I'm not equating justice with equality.
Hebrew bible scholar Walter Brueggemann tells us, "Justice is important, but food is essential." How powerful it is that we celebrate the fullness of redemption with a literal "Holy Communion," coming together around a table that's a festival of thanksgiving, a Eucharistic meal, a foretaste of the "Messianic Feast"? A time and a place where the land has been healed, crops are healthy (non-GMO), everyone contributes in some way to the food on the table, and everyone enjoys the feast. The gospel accounts – especially Luke's – tell about Jesus eating and celebrating with friends, disciples, strangers, and outcasts. And about giving his body for the life of the world.
Basic human needs include food, potable water, sleep, breathable air, and community. For the past year I've been participating in an ongoing weekly Thursday evening story about food freely offered to all comers at Church Around the Corner. Some of us arrive early to help set the table, make lemonade, slice, dice, sauté, bake, and grill. Lately we've been serving rather than having guests serve themselves. For a couple of hours, non-church neighborhood folks, usually some from one or more of the nearby homeless enclaves, regular church participants, and anyone else who stops in becomes part of this "family meal," as the sign in front of the church building describes it. Most everyone already has access to safe water, some place to sleep, air that's not actually toxic, and sometimes a ready supply of good food (although sometimes not so ready and not so good). Each Thursday we also offer that essential of community, a place of safety and belonging—if only briefly.
Who gets what, when, how, and why? Anyone who stops by gets a multi-course meal, conversation if they want to talk, an invitation to return, even questions about why we're doing this answered. We let them know they are so very welcome at Sunday worship, also! Why is Church Around the Corner providing good food for everyone? Partly to follow the example of Jesus, as part of their desire to live a Eucharistic lifestyle beyond weekly Sunday morning liturgy, partly because their position in that neighborhood mandates they reach out and serve their neighbors—all or most of the people in that particular neighborhood.
Justice is important, but food is necessary. Social justice is about getting a little more than those essentials, but making basics easily available helps begin freeing people to seek, to be open to opportunities for other aspects of justice.