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Showing posts from 2010

World AIDS Day

I want to say that I don't personally know anyone struggling with HIV or AIDS, but I assume I don't. I could very well come into daily contact with someone(s) who have the disease and know it or who haven't yet been diagnosed. I have never forgotten the first time had a strong reaction to the reality of AIDS. In 2008, I was reading Bryce Courtenay's book, April Fool's Day ,  about his son's struggle with HIV/AIDS. His son was a hemophiliac and contracted the disease through blood transfusions. Bryce detailed the frustration of dealing with politicians who wanted to stop research into what became identified as AIDS as a way to punish homosexuals, who were presumed to be the only sufferers of the disease. Courtenay lays bare his own struggles, confusion and fear about his son's struggles, as well as tangentially touching on the political issues around the diagnosis and the way his son, Damon, is treated in hospitals because of prejudices and misunderstanding

Victory Lap

I had hoped to do a more in-depth post today (perhaps in the 50 Essential Passages group), but life has intervened. It always does. Thus, I'd like to take this moment to congratulate myself on completing National Blog Posting Month! This post means that I did write or post something for every day of the month. Back on the 1 November, I thought this would be challenging. Then a personal friend died and I was helping with the funeral and what had previously seemed like a pleasant challenge became daunting when I was tired and grief-stricken. Yet, I plunged on with the project, though I told myself I could quit and nothing would happen. Committing to daily blogging has helped me in a couple ways. First of all, I tend to have great ideas about posting, particularly about news items, but I think them out until I'm sick of them and the news is old. Then I decide there's no point in commenting. The pressures of daily blogging made me go ahead and comment. This means you get

Embarrassing Freedom

It's the least wonderful time of the year. I've already been hit with one memo from the American Family Association, urging me to boycott Dick's Sporting Good's stores for promoting a "holiday shop" instead of a Christmas shop. Within days, Dick's caved to the pressure and changed their website to read "Christmas Shop". And so AFA has another "victory" in the "War on Christmas". Well, I call, "Baloney". While the AFA was fighting the good fight against pluralistic advertising, the US State Department issued its Annual Report on Religious Freedom. (Executive summary linked here .) This lengthy document covers the oppression, repression and struggle of believers of all faiths around the world. The report details how governments, juntas, militaries, private groups and others restrict religious freedoms, withdraw permission to practice from certain groups, kill, injure or imprison missionaries and charitable worker

Sunday Poem: Christ's Hands (Teresa of Avila)

Christ's Hands Christ has no body now on earth but yours,  no hands but yours,  no feet but yours.  Yours are the eyes through which is to look out Christ's compassion in the world;  Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; Yours are the hands with which he is to bless people now.  - Teresa of Avila  Teresa of Avila. "Christ's Hands". 1000 World Prayers . Marcus Braybrooke, ed. John Hunt Publishing, Ltd. Hampshire, UK, 2003. p. 147

Saturday Art: Iona Flowers

9/05 Julia (Dunlap) Seymour

Friday Five: Pie Edition

Friday Five: Pie-ola!!! Please answer these five questions about pie: 1) Are pies an important part of a holiday meal? Well, I love pie, but I don't make them. Thus, pie is not a crucial feature of a holiday meal at my house. Again, though, I love pie. So, if you're coming over, I'll probably ask you to bring dessert. Bring pie.  2) Men prefer pie; women prefer cake. Discuss. I feel like this is a mood thing for me. Sometimes I want pie. Sometimes I want cake. Since I don't make pies, that craving may typically go unfulfilled. I do like cake, though. Creamy chocolate frosting, dense poundcake, squishy angel food. Mmm, cake.  3) Cherries--do they belong in a pie? No, they belong in a cobbler. Except apple, I prefer all fruit in cobblers (no bottom crust, thicker top crust) to pie. And I like Apple Brown Betty better than apple pie.  4) Meringue--if you have to choose, is it best on lemon or chocolate? What is this "better"? It's dessert. There might b

In Control

There has been a lot of buzz lately about Pope Benedict XVI and his stance on condoms. The pope has a new book out, called The Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times. The book explains the pope's thinking on some controversial issues, but has not necessarily clarified the Roman Catholic Church's position to the fullest extent. In a tiny section of the book, the pope mentions condom use by prostitutes to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS.  Even sight unseen, many hailed this as a change to Vatican policy, a sign that the RCC was relaxing its stance on birth control. However, as Vatican spokesmen have clarified in the past few days, this has nothing to do with birth control- it's about disease prevention. Furthermore, this does not express a change in position, but a hope that a person willing to protect another person from a deadly disease might be moving along a moral path that would end with appropriate sexual behavior (i.e. abstinence unti

A Pain in Year A

This week is a curious limbo in the church year. Even though is the week that follows Christ the King and, thus, the last full week in the church year, the Advent preparations are underway. It's like the week between Christmas and New Year's, you might not quite be ready to pull down that tree (and you shouldn't until 6 January), but you're ready to get on with the New Year and whatever that will look like. This year, though, I experience a little hesitation. For churches that are on a lectionary cycle, meaning sets of readings prescribed through three years, this Sunday is the beginning of Year A- the year of Matthew. Matthew is not my favorite. I adore Mark, the quick pacing, the sparse detail, abrupt beginning, the equally abrupt ending.  I savor the slow, unique parables of Luke, the inclusion of women and children, the surprise appearances of Samaritans and righteous Gentiles. I enjoy the special perspective of John- the classic verses, the unique metaphors, th


Iced in today, I never left the house. I did some work while Dear Son napped (and I napped a little myself). In the spare moments, I thought about the dinner I will be cooking on Thursday. We're having friends over, a couple we've know for a long time and their 9-month old daughter. I'll be cooking the turkey and a few of the side dishes. Of all the things to consider when we had a baby, I didn't realize I wouldn't be able to the hostess with the mostess any more, at least for a while. You just can't pull out all the stops when you are sitting down every few minutes to help put shapes in a shape sorter or to read a Sandra Boynton book. Again. Nevertheless, I pondered a few alternate cranberry recipes today. Considered variations on mashed potatoes. Reflected on the nuances of green bean casserole, which I love. I moved the turkey from the freezer to the fridge to begin thawing. I've pondered brining, but my husband doesn't like juicy turkey (I know!)

Sunday Prayer: Psalm 103 (NRSV)

Bless the  Lord , O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the  Lord , O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits— who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The  Lord  works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The  Lord  is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion for his children, so the  Lord  ha

Saturday Art: He Qi's Peace Be Still

He Qi is a Chinese artist who paints biblical scenes in a distinctive, modern style. This picture is from his website,  here .

Friday Five: Unexpected Thanks

Name five things that were unexpected in your life that you are now grateful for. My husband : When I moved to Nome, AK, I was set on staying for a year, maybe two and then going to seminary, from grace to grace. My prior dating experience said to me that I was probably not a person who would get married. It wasn't about standards, but that I just didn't seem to meet a guy who could keep up with me, much less occasionally set the pace. One night in October 2002, a guy spoke to a friend of mine in the Anchor Tavern in Nome and I turned around on my bar stool to join the conversation. Four days later, I ran into the same guy when he was flying Senator Ted Stevens to the island of Little Diomede and I was going along as a reporter. We ran into each other again at my house Halloween party and then off and on until he asked me out on 2 January 2003. And I guess we've never looked back. But I never saw it coming.  My son: Yes, I know how it happened, but we weren't try


This morning I decided to come up with new lyrics for Old 100th or the Doxology for use during our children's service. I love "praise God from whom all blessings flow", but it's hard to explain some of those concepts to a 3-year-old. I was trying to keep the same scan (number of syllables in time to the music), but I kept trying out different sentences. This floated to the top of my consciousness several times today until I finally solved the problem. At one point, I was showering at the gym when I realized, I was singing to myself, not opera-style, but loudly enough that people nearby could hear me. I didn't stop, though, but kept going. The novelty in this sentence isn't that I kept singing, it's that I was doing it in the shower at the gym. The gym that I have managed to visit every day this week. Like so many people, I've made many resolutions about getting in better shape. I've joined gyms before. And I've never made it past about a

To Preach

Revhipchick discusses her "conundrum of preaching" here and I confess I could relate to many of her comments about wondering about how to preach. There have been many times where I felt tingly because I knew what I was preaching was so true and so focused, probably the best I could do as a human being trying to receive and channel the Spirit. And no one said anything afterwards. No one blinked. No one fell out into in the aisle, slain in the Spirit. No one shouted, "Amen." So maybe I was wrong. Then there are times when I feel like my examples aren't meaningful to me, the connections are so-so, the upshot feels a little platitudinous and people love it. I see eyes surreptitiously wiped and receive comments days later about how people are still thinking about the sermon. That's when I know it's not all me. It's not even mostly me. Yet, with preaching, it can feel a lot like mostly me doing the work. I've asked people what they'd lik

One in Five

Our society, in general, does not deal well with grief. By our society, I mean mainstream, contemporary American society- the only location from which I am (semi-) qualified to speak. After the funeral ends, we may make a couple obligatory phone calls. We may make an effort to visit the bereaved. Yet, more often, we think about how we should do something, anything, and then it remains undone because we worry about what to say or what to do. When we are grieving, we often are surprised at the length and depth and breadth of the feeling of loss. The world doesn't stop turning and, yet, nothing feels right. Nothing will slow down to mark the time-stop we feel. And that feeling goes on for a long time. That being said, we do at least have some ways of acknowledging the death of people and  more and more frequently there are rituals to marks the death of pets, changes in life, anniversaries of grief, etc. Yet there are pockets where it's very difficult to publicly acknowledge

Two Favorite Authors

I needed a NaBloPoMo prompt today: Who's your favorite author, why and what work of  his or hers would you recommend reading first? I'm going to give two. These authors are currently my favorite, non-theological writers. When I enjoy someone's writing style, I tend to ravenously consume all their works and monitor their website for upcoming works. The two authors I'll discuss, in brief, today are Tony Horwitz and Bill Bryson . (Links are to their respective websites.) I was first introduced to Tony Horwitz through Confederates in the Attic  (Pantheon, 1998). Intrigued by the grimacing Confederate on the front, I began reading the story of how the author dug into his own love of Civil War history to find out why the War Between the States continues to have skirmishes (so to speak). Horwitz's style might best be classified somewhere between travel writing and historical expose´. I have pressed Confederates  on every reading friend I have. I think it's well-

Sunday Prayer: After the Turbulence of the Day (Camara)

AFTER THE TURBULENCE OF THE DAY After the turbulence of the day, thank you for sending the peacefulness of the night. How blessed the peace of the night, so still, that the very tones of mountain and skyscraper lose their jutty, harsh aspect and bathe in thrilling stillness. Let us not ruminate upon the disagreeable scenes of the day. Let us not rehearse injustices, bitter, hard words, coarse actions. Mindful, Father, of your infinite patience with us, your infinite goodness, we ask you to help us never to harbour a single drop of hatred, or resentment, or bitterness against anyone. Fill us with your limitless mercy. --- Helder Camara Camara, Helder."After the turbulence of the Day".  Robert Van de Weyer.  The HarperCollins Book of Prayers. HarperSanFrancisco, 1993. p. 82f

Saturday Picture: Stonehenge

2005, taken by Julia (Dunlap) Seymour

Friday Five: Winter's on the Way...

The Friday Five prompts come from here . SingingOwl writes that she needs to plan ahead for the winter activities and seek a little inspiration. I just chuckle because, though it might technically still be fall, winter's been in my neck of the woods for a while. 1. What is your favorite movie for watching when curled up under a wooly blanket? Something sweet or funny. I don't like violent or scary movies. When people hear that, they often tell me that I need to toughen up. I just point out that I have actually seen people die and I'm tough enough. I don't need that in my escapism. I also love to have a mini-marathon of television episodes. Frasier and Big Bang Theory bring on the giggles and make me feel cozy. 2. Likewise, what book? In my quest to reach 1,000 new books, I hardly re-read these days. However, Bill Bryson's travelogues In a Sunburned Country (Australia) and A Walk in the Woods (Applachian Trail) always make me happy to read them again. And, of cour

Lost in Translation

At a recent ecumenical event, the following translation of the 23rd Psalm was used. It comes from the New American Bible. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul. He guides me in right paths for his name's sake. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side With your rod and your staff that give me courage. You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come. As I was organizing the paperwork, I kept looking at that last line and blinking. For years to come? Years to come? I don't know about you, but I'd like forever. Period. And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever . I have no concept of what forever is like. I've sat throu

Et tu, Spiritu?

The previous post about David and Jonathan got me to thinking about Saul. There is a certain sadness to the story of Saul. He's anointed by Samuel to be Israel's first king. (1 Sam. 9-10) Unfortunately, Saul can't always follow God's directions and doesn't destroy the Amalekites with the thoroughness that God demanded and expected. (1 Sam. 15) His failure to trust and obey causes God to regret choosing him as king and God's regret puts Samuel into mourning, because he had high hopes for Saul. (1 Sam. 15:10ff) Long story less long, just before David enters the scene, we read the scene between Samuel and Saul, wherein Saul finds out what's happened: Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, I pray, pardon my sin, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord.’ Samuel said to Saul, ‘I will not return with you; for yo