Friday, October 26, 2012

bookshelves 5

Deb hosts today's "...let's talk about the books in your life:" Here's the 5:

1. STUDYING: What is your favorite book or series for sermon prep or study? Or have you moved from books to on-line tools for your personal study?

I still love all four volumes of The Gospel in Solentimane, and also truly appreciate the extensive and intensive range of online resources. Since currently I'm doing more design than theology, if I'm in a software or layout or coding quandary, I usually find a solution online.

2. IN THE QUEUE: Do you have a queue of books you are longing to read or do you read in bits and pieces over several books at a time? What's in the queue?

I have a couple of books from Mike Morrell's new Speakeasy reviewer's bureau waiting for my attention; I also have at least a half-dozen others in various categories I've barely opened.

3. FAVORITE OF ALL TIME: What's one book that you have to have in your study? Is it professional, personal, fun or artistic?

My keeper categories include some classic urban/city-related books; a few art books with full-color illustrations (I gave away just about all the art books with exclusively B&W pictures); some graphic design specials; everything by Walter Brueggemann I've ever bought (incurable Brueggemaniac here!); quite a few in the cat-related category.

4. KINDLE OR PRINT? or both? Is there a trend in your recent purchases?

For books I think I'll reread, print for sure, but otherwise e-books rock. Especially if they're free!

5. DISCARDS: When's the last time you went through your books and gave some away (or threw some away?) Do you remember what made the discard pile?

I've been making a list of books I've recycled in our community book exchange; recent donations include about a dozen (duplicates!) Crayola coloring books; Jonathan Edwards, Basic Writings; The Parables of the Kingdom – C.H. Dodd; Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus – Norman Perrin; Fear and Trembling / The Sickness Unto Death – Kierkegaard; Purity of Heart Is To Will One Thing – Kierkegaard; Moral Man and Immoral Society – Reinhold Niebuhr; The Nature and Destiny of Man – Reinhold Niebuhr; The Destiny of Man – Nicolas Berdyaev; Radical Monotheism and Western Culture – H Richard Niebuhr…

BONUS: Post a picture of the present state of your study.
books wide

I need to take a current pic, but I love this one from one of the parsonages where I lived! Technically it's the dining room; eventually the only other furniture in the room was a 9-drawer chest I bought unfinished at our church thrift store and colorblocked… need to get a current pic of that, too.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Come Worship With Me

Come Worship With Me: A Journey through the Church Year on Amazon

come worship with meCome Worship With Me is a big, bright, coffee-table sized book for kids of any age and for adults who want to learn more about journeying through a liturgical year from Advent to Advent. Pastor Ruth Boling wrote the text; Tracey Dahle Carrier designed the pictures; Geneva Press published it. Your church library, preschool library, and kids' bookshelf all need this book!

Instead of human creatures, Come Worship With Me features mice of different ages and complexion colors. This is mainline, mainstream First Church on Main Street, with red carpet, blue walls, and tall, multi-paned windows that bring sunlight into the building during daytime hours, shine incandescent and candlelight out to the night. Pew racks hold copies of The [red] Hymnbook published in 1955 by a group of four Reformed church bodies and newer blue bibles with an approximation of the current PC(USA) logo on the cover. Author and illustrator explain "what's going on" at each juncture of the church year very very well; they maintain almost perfect balance between symbol and symbolized. I described the mice's church as "mainline"; most people from Reformed, Lutheran, Methodist, and Catholic backgrounds could relate to the book's liturgical and sacramental narrative; those from other traditions still could learn from and appreciate most of the content. Truly the only serious omission was not a single baptism celebrated during the course of the church year—at least within these pages!

Making almost enough content for a separate book, five pages at the back of the book illustrate several dozen "Christian Symbols and Crosses," and provide scriptural references along with historical meanings. Symbols also include some natural images less commonly connected with church such as owl, dandelion, spider, thistle, pomegranate. This is a excellent resource for my own liturgical art!

You might enjoy reading author Boling's comments about Come Worship With Me on the book's Amazon page.

my amazon review: bright, biblical, and ecumenical

Friday, October 19, 2012

church and/or politics 5

Today Jan hosts church and/or politics 5. She probably doesn't need to explain why, but I always like to include the host's rationale for a particular topic, so here's Jan's intro:
Churches of different denominations are working towards having Consecration Sunday for tithing commitments to be made. As these are being planned in various churches, our local community is opening up national voting for early voters before Election Day. All this seems to be coming at the same time as we all ponder WHO to vote for!

So for today's Friday Five, share about your thoughts and/or struggles about this time in church and/or political time of the U.S. nation: Think of five aspects of either or both that you want to bring up!
A little over a week ago I wrote (actually a day late) about the October synchroblog topic, faith and the public square, and expressed some of my thoughts on this subject; if you have a few minutes, I'd love you to read that post that backgrounds these 5 additional ideas. Directly related to this Friday 5, I know some of the history behind the USA not having an established church, as well as a little knowledge of the sad theological and practical outcome of countries that do have established religion, and I think it's a horrendously bad idea.

1. I'm blogging in green, because the health, safety, welfare, and integrity of planet earth set the stage for the well-being of all the critters who make it their dwelling-place; my candidates need to emphasize or at least do their best to provide for sustainable living that's as green as possible.

2. The church where I first became involved was ABC-USA (talk about separating religion and politics!), and from within that small, activist community I first began learning (I'm still trying to learn) to interpret scripture in a comprehensive way. Both Old and New Covenant Scriptures reveal God's passion, interest, and concern for every aspect of being human; in our own lives we sometimes emphasize one, sometime another.

3. The First Commandment to have no gods other than YHWH, and Jesus' Great Commandment to love God, neighbor, and self are at the center of it all—the rest is commentary, though in any case living out those commandments can be very confusing and difficult, close to impossible when anyone tries to pretend this is a binary world.

4. No matter how strong and vehement your own historically-informed or immediate reaction to the other political side, please try to hear and understand their perspective and please do not engage in rude rhetoric, esp online where misunderstandings abound and where no one can retrieve a single word once it launches into cyberspace.

5. Whatever your choice of candidates for whatever position, whatever your confusions or convictions about ballot initiatives and propositions we have here in the Western part of the USA, please read and listen to as much as you can tolerate from different sources, please pray about it, please vote!

Monday, October 15, 2012

blog action day 2012: the power of we

Some of why we're blogging about The Power of We this year:
Firstly, the popularity of your suggestions; Community, Equality, Transparency/Anti-Corruption and Freedom, in our theme poll.
Secondly, The Power of We is a celebration of people working together to make a positive difference in the world, either for their own communities or for people they will never meet half way around the world.
blog action day 2012Recently I heard a story about the "ubuntu" philosophy and lifestyle of some African tribes: an anthropologist put out a basket of fruit and told some African kids the first one who reached the fruit would win all of it. When he signaled them to run, they joined hands, ran together toward the fruit, and then sat down together to enjoy the fruit together. When the anthropologist asked why, they replied, "Ubuntu. How can one of us be happy if the others are sad?" Ubuntu can be summed up "I am because we are."

As parts of the world first became more industrialized, later on more interconnected through transportation and media, then still later on instantaneously and sometimes anonymously connected via the world wide web, people seemed to lose awareness of our true human interconnectivity and our need for one another at basic levels of clean water, nutritious food, clean air, and community. It looks as if southern California's almost built-in literal a-no-nym-ity, or "namelessness," has extended throughout the rest of the world into every one of the more developed, post-industrial countries during the last couple decades of the twentieth century and the first two decades of the twenty-first. too frequently we read and hear about university age and younger people who have lost the practice of compassion, haven't yet learned to relate to others beyond a surface level—the result of spending every waking hour plugged in, tuned in, which actually equates to what we used to call "tuned out" back in the day.

Again this year I'm participating in blog action day from my theology blog... as the church we gather to celebrate sacraments of baptism and holy communion. With its recurring confession "I believe – I believe – I believe," the Apostles' Creed is the historic baptismal creed, but after baptism, we, us, ours become the baptismal words, as we learn to live in covenantal community. Celebrating sacraments requires human interdependence, makes working toward clean water, nutritious food, and clean air necessary. On behalf of all the world, "we" the baptized gather together to celebrate eucharist, creating a world where justice, equality, safety, sufficiency make their home, a planet without violence, without need or deprivation of any kind, a place where love and mercy reign—a foretaste of the fullness of the time of salvation promised by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, if only for a single hour at a time! In liturgical actions and afterwards, the church lives out ubuntu; at its best, the church knows none of us can be happy when others are sad—I am because we are.

blog action day 2012: #powerofwe #bad12

Friday, October 12, 2012

random 5 again

Today's 5 is another random one, again hosted by revkjarla; I've illustrated it with a set of my random drawings, rotated in non-random ways.
balancing 1 balancing 2

balancing 4 balancing 3
1. moments of blessing this past week include serving as one of the organists for a memorial service that happened in the wake of a truly tragic death; helping prepare Thursday evening community dinner at church across the street; having my entries to St Mark UMC's fall digital art show almost ready (I used to enter both fall and spring shows every year, but haven't been able to lately due to my own brokenness); listening to rain thunder on the roof and streets yesterday morning; receiving quite a few in the new recommendations feature on LinkedIn; more, more, and more!

2. the first things that come to mind when I read or think "when I was a child..." include fresh flounder, fresh garden tomatoes and cukes, fresh strawberry shortcake on fresh biscuits with fresh cream butter topped with lots of whipped cream made from ultra heavy (fresh) cream.
3, 4, and 5. If you were the host of a t.v. talk show, what three people would you like to interview on your first show, and what would you ask them.
3. the late pianist Glenn Gould; I'd ask about how he developed his idiosyncratic musical and personal styles; I'd tell him at first I adored his first recording of the Goldberg Variations, but then only could listen to his 1982 version.

4. I gotta include an artist-designer—make it Paul Rand! I'd tell him how much I admired the clean economy of his work and ask what (if any) other style phases he cycled through. Note how his name is rand, the beginning of our keyword random.

5. a leopard from the South African savannah... I'd ask her or him how it feels to be feline and free.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

october synchroblog: faith and the public square

In this Pentecostal reign of the Spirit, God is constantly at work in individuals, groups, institutions, and in the church. In plain theology, nothing is outside the sovereignty of Jesus Christ; there are no checks and balances. The Constitution of the USA says religion shall not be established nor the free exercise thereof interfered with, and along with many others, this country has a long history of institutional separation with functional interaction between church and government.

As soon as humans moved from hunter-gathering into settlements, they became political creatures. People gradually discovered more-or-less organized ways to engage together to define local and national boundaries, regulate trade, make laws for commerce, and provide for citizen safety. You get the idea!

We're blogging specifically about "faith and the public square." A theocracy? Probably not a good idea for many many reasons, though we know they originally modeled and still hold New England Town Meetings after the biblical model of the summoned assembly, the ecclesia. But a king like the rulers of those other nations? That's also a bad idea. In elementary school we heard about taxation without representation being tyranny and learned to recognize good government as government for the people, by the people.

Baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we renounce sin, death, evil, hatred, and the devil; we embrace God's values of love, justice, freedom, truth, and resurrection. We begin a lifetime of living in the world and for the world as the prophets called us, as Jesus showed us. Living justly and acting rightly includes protecting and providing for society's most vulnerable, creating good overall working conditions, feeding the hungry (not with leftovers, but with good stuff), stewarding creation well, campaigning to depose bad guys from crooked leadership and elect better ones. In some cases a lone individual can make a real difference; at other times, a group or more intentionally political effort yields better results. Beyond voting on election day, anyone's direct engagement with governmental processes varies tremendously in terms of how, when, where, with whom.

Whatever any individual Christian's involvement in bringing their faith, values, and voices to the "public square" concerning commerce, trade, immigration, education, or other concerns, almost everyone celebrates Holy Communion together.1 The Lord's Supper, the Eucharist, is God's sign of the new covenant of love, justice, and reconciliation in Jesus' blood; it is Passover, Exodus, Jubilee, and more. We celebrate the Lord's Supper on behalf of all the world, which (of course!) includes individuals, groups, institutions, agencies, and other entities. Jesus commanded us, "Do this!" This religious ritual? Yes. In doing so we create a microcosm of a redeemed world, of the new creation. "Do this?" Pour out our lives as Jesus did, break bread to feed a hungry world, break our bodies open to mend a broken creation. As we keep celebrating the sacred togetherness of Holy Communion in more-or-less organized ways to help heal the planet and heal ourselves, we make a serious religious and political statement, whether or not we frequent that "public square" to assert our theological and political claims.

1 The Religious Society of Friends - "Quakers" - and The Salvation Army are the two denominations I'm aware of that have no formal ordinances/sacraments.

Other October synchroblog participants include:

We The People by Wendy McCaig

Pulpit Freedom, Public Faith by Carol Kuniholm

Plumbers and Politicians by Glenn Hager

Conflating Faith and Politics by Maurice Broaddus

You Cannot Serve Two Masters by Sonja Andrews

Would Jesus Vote by Jeremy Myers

I am a Christian and I am a Democrat by Liz Dyer

5 ways to make it through the election and still keep your friends by Kathy Escobar

God’s Politics? by Andrew Carmichael

Why There’s No Such Thing As The Christian Vote by Marta Layton

Friday, October 05, 2012

5 about art

life stuff buttonFor today's all about art Friday 5, Pat Raube hosts because she's "...on the organizing committee for an all-women's art show that opens tonight! This means life has been about hanging paintings, arranging sculptures and assemblages, and doing everything we can to make sure we show off the women's work to its best advantage," so she asks "...reflect with me upon art and the role it plays in your life (and ministry!)."

1. I need to take a pic of my favorite piece of art in my home, boats in the harbour (not sure of the exact title) but I'll link you to the artist, Elizabeth Berry, and tell you I found a perfect, framed, large print of the wonderful painting for $8 at Goodwill.

2. These days I don't have a consistent place of worship, though finally I've been doing some organ and keyboard supply, and none of the sanctuaries/chapels have anything very interesting. However, the church where I'll be this coming Sunday again asked me for some art to include in the bulletin (they print everything on folded, legal-size paper and often have extra space because of the mechanics of needing a certain number of pages), so that helps a little. In the past I've designed so many banners, bulletin covers, event flyers and would love to begin doing at least a little again.

indiana love3. For public art, I still love Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture. I'll give a shoutout to my own contest-winning street banner from last winter. university city street banner

4. Among the very very many pieces of art that speak to my soul is Lyonel Feininger's "Church of the Minorities." Feininger church

5. The last time I created something beautiful, just for me? I truly don't know. I'm at such a serious place of brokenness and dysfunction... however, I've re-digitized two of my favorite paintings from the past and plan to enter them in the annual fall show that begins next weekend at St Mark's United Methodist. In the interest of time I won't grab a pic of either right now, but they're bright, splashy, and wonderful.

PS I'm an art contributor to textweek, and I have a Facebook page featuring some of my own liturgical and other art: suntreeriver design. Sun, tree, and river are persistent images throughout scripture, and in more secular terms, the sun is earth's star; trees are its lungs; waterways are this planet's circulatory system. Time limits my writing much more about my own artistic involvement with the church on this quick Friday 5, but maybe I need to do that soon.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Edward R Brown, Our Father's World

Our Father's World: Mobilizing the Church to Care for Creation, by Edward R Brown, © 2008.

With fewer than 200 pages, Our Father's World is a handbook individuals, groups, classes, or committees could study to increase their own awareness and participation in caring for all creation as well as helping create opportunities for others around them to do so. Ed Brown cautions us the environmental crisis is a crisis of population, of prosperity, of poverty, and of spirituality. He essentially writes from and to a North American context, yet clearly describes an interdependent world where contentment with micro living space in one city effectively may degrade waters and forests in another country some distance away. Although he does not propose a one-size-fits-all creation care and environmental stewardship solution, the author wisely says we need to get beyond apparent symptoms. He describes creation as "sacred" rather than divine [page 49], creation itself as sacred worship space—a theme presented at several points in the book. I especially enjoyed chapter 8 on "Creation-Caring Worship," with suggestions as to how we can sing and pray alongside creation.

The book is in two basic sections: The Message, "Why the Church Must Care for Creation"; and The Mission, "Mobilizing the Church to Care for Creation," and without a doubt, we need to do this together. I love his words at the end of chapter 6, Ambassadors of Redemption: "It's this very hybrid character of the church that allows it to bring something unique to the real problems of the environmental crisis. The church can deliver spiritual power to practical problems."

Brown comes from a relatively conservative evangelical background rather than a fundamentalist or mainline one, but I cannot imagine any person of any or no faith tradition not appreciating his analysis and his ideas for helping solve the crisis. This is a book for all generations!

Author Ed Brown is founding executive director of the 501 (c) (3) Care of Creation.

And, I just discovered the blog: Our Father's World

my amazon review: biblical, practical, and hopeful