SARcasm











{December 1, 2013}   Church Reflections

One of the true blessings I’ve had through my work at my church over the last few years has been the opportunity to lead worship from time to time when our minister is away. I thought I’d share my reflections here for those who might be interested in what a progressive Christian worldview might represent. I encourage anyone with a bit of time on their hands to listen – not so much because I’m an especially good preacher, but more because I’d love to share as widely as possible the reality that there is another way to ‘be Christian’ … to be a progressive, affirming, loving person who takes Jesus’ message of radical inclusivity (the Samaritans, lepers and tax collectors of our day) in a 21st century Emerging Christianity. I’d be extremely flattered by anyone willing to listen, and familiarize themselves both with my own faith journey, and how faith can, in fact, inform a progressive world view.

CLICK HERE to listen to my reflection on Christ, Gandhi, and peaceful conflict resolution.

CLICK HERE to listen to my reflection on radical forgiveness.

CLICK HERE to listen to my reflection on discipleship in a progressive Christian context.

CLICK HERE to listen to my reflection on the power of prayer.

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{December 1, 2013}   What I’ve been up to!

So while I have been the invisible blogger for the last 20 days and well I know it, I wanted to share why, as you know, being the narcissistic type who wants to share the entirety of my existence because the people out there care so damn much. 🙂 So let’s see …

First of all, my birthday boys – I was so busy the last two weeks celebrating their birthdays with them in, you know, the real world, I didn’t have time to report back on the festivities here online … which you know, means it didn’t really happen lol. Ari and Little Tyke’s birthdays are 9 days apart. We actually ‘met’ LT on Ari’s birthday, when he (LT) was 9 days old. This year, we celebrated both in grand fashion. We had a massive friends-and-family birthday party for Little Tyke, and Ari and I spent the weekend away in Lake Placid for his b-day (with thanks to my folks for the babysitting services). It was a lot of work, but oh so much fun. 🙂 Happy birthday to two of the bestest men on the planet. Big hugs.

Ari and Little Tyke.

Ari and Little Tyke.

The boys and the Menorah.

It’s also been “Christmukah”, as you can see by the tree above, and the Menorah below. Being a mixed faith house, we celebrate both holidays, and this year Chanukah was early, so we’ve been hustling to get the house decorated and get some shopping started before/as Chanukah began (we’re on the 4th night of 8 as I type this). We exchange small gifts over the week and a day, each person gets two nights on which they get a gift. These tend to be smaller gifts, since we also exchange gifts at Pseudo-Chanukah with my in-laws, and Christmas of course, but they’re nice treats, often those little things you don’t think to buy for yourself, and the boys love the lights and the singing and dancing. So far, a reading light, a book, socks and a card game have been purchased. The last gifts of Chanukah for the boys tend to be their Christmas jammies.

So we’re having fun with all those celebrations … off to the Santa Clause parade tomorrow, although the boys have already met the man.

Boys and Santa Claus.

 

And last but not least this of course means a busy time at church. Not only did I lead church service earlier this month (of which I am probably unseemly proud and will be sharing my reflection in a later post), but it’s obviously one of the busiest times of the church year. Today I volunteered at our fantastic Bazaar, and tomorrow kicks off the Advent season; my family will be lighting the first Advent candle, I help organize a potluck after service, and I am in the process of preparing for our annual Christmas pageant. It’s a wonderful and exciting time of year … and it’s one of those ironies that often at the times you most want to share what’s going on in your world, is when you have the least time available to do so. But the above is my month in a nutshell. And I do hope as we gear up for the Holidays that you are enjoying your Chanukah, that you do enjoy your Christmas, and that all of my American friends are enjoying their Thanksgiving weekend and Black Friday sales.

God bless.



{October 15, 2013}   Thanks-Giving

The bad news over the last 3 weeks is that I have been far too busy to blog. The good news is, a lot of what has kept me busy the last few weeks has been good stuff – family and friends, busy-ness professionally etc. But I have struggled to see that. The work I try to do on mindfulness and gratitude has been a bit of a failure. Instead of seeing ‘look, I worked every day last week, which means professional contacts, professional fulfillment and yes, money,’ for example, I saw ‘OMG when am I ever going to get my marking done and clean my house?’. And then, along comes Thanksgiving weekend. And there is nothing like fun and uninterrupted time with one’s family on beautiful fall days to remind you that even – and perhaps especially – in the midst of the crazy, there are so many blessings to be found.

So – at the risk of sounding like one of those obnoxious folks bragging about how wonderful their life is in the midst of others who might be struggling – I would like to take the time to practice some thankfulness and awareness that there are two sides to everything … and that perhaps Thanksgiving (even a bit belatedly) is a good time to look at the brighter one. So – despite my grumbling at times the last few weeks – I am thankful for …

  • Babysitters! And family who enjoy sharing in the freedom of sitters!
  • My family and friends – never before in my life have I felt so surrounded by loving and supportive people, and been so aware of it. It brings me great joy.
  • Especially my little foursome here – we’ve all of us had some cranky, tired, and some ‘just get us through the day’ moments over the last three busy, sick, tired weeks, (illness, new teachers, changing schedules with me working etc.) but I also realize a lot of it is a sign of new growth, new learning, new phases, and we have all been growing TOGETHER as a team … and that’s a cool feeling. And I am thankful that we are a family of strong people with minds of our own, even our littlest ones.
  • Fulfilling work! I am so happy being reminded each and every week why I do what I do at my church, how helpful eLearning is to my students, and even the supply teaching river has been flowing a bit more fully this year (a HUGE part of the busy-ness). It’s been busy, but it has been fun, challenging, aggravating, wonderful, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
  • Health. Between all of us, we have spent two of the last three weeks ill, and it is absolutely amazing to have finally shaken off the bug and to have a home full of healthy people again.
  • The lessons of patience. There is a particular, and very important, phonecall I have been expecting for a week now, and am still waiting. And while I perhaps dislike the suspense, I realize time passing might be a good thing, to teach me patience and to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone.
  • Special occasions. Thanksgiving is such a wonderful and inspiring holiday, and with Halloween and two of my three boys’ birthdays coming up, and the Holidays not far behind, here begins a few of the happiest months of my year … cheer in the cold of fall and winter.

Whether you are in a time of peace and comfort, or struggling at this moment – or perhaps, as so often in life, a blessed and difficult mix of both – what are YOU thankful for?



The above is a catchphrase of Marcus J. Borg. In the insanity of the last couple of weeks of adjusting to the new school year, job interviews, getting the house back in shape after having been away, it has also been time to prepare for a book group I am participating at church this year, which begins Monday. The theme of this book study is “Beloving the Bible”, and how we see this central text of our faith. The anchor book (well … ahem … one of them), is “Reading the Bible Again for the First Time”, by the above author. I was supposed to read 3 chapters of it for Monday. I have so enjoyed this book that I went well beyond those chapters, finishing it today, and have to say it served as an amazing reminder that Borg has, over the last few years that I have experienced his theology, had an amazing way of putting into understandable, readable words, thoughts I have had a hard time grasping and expressing for some time in my Christian journey.

As a progressive Christian, it can sometimes feel lonely out there – the non-religious in my network struggle to understand how I, a good solid liberal/left-wing progressive, can be a Christian. Some Christians, however, might question how I can be a passionate, praying, church-going Christian while still believing in marriage equality, women’s bodily autonomy, and disbelieving the factual, historical accuracy of some (OK, much) of the Good Book. Borg not only helped me understand that there were others like me out there, he helped me find language to express it – the understanding that stories can be ‘true’ – deeply, powerfully true – whether ‘factual or not’, and that in fact to narrow our view of the Bible so rigidly that it only has value insofar as it’s factual actually robs it of some of its most richest meanings … that despite Christianity having been an entrenched power in many ways for centuries, it actually started out, and is at its core, an egalitarian, power-challenging, anti-Imperial movement in favour of radical democracy. That there is, in short, more than one way out there to be a Christian, and to read the Bible.

On that note, I wanted to take the time and share my “Goodreads” review of this book, and add preface it by saying again what I can’t emphasize enough at the end of this review: that anyone who wishes to understand Christianity in particular or religion in general – for better or worse, good or ill, admiration or critique – should read this book, as it is accessible, not a hard read despite the thorny subject matter, and important in forming ANY understanding of the Bible, and Christianity in general, be it to critique or to praise … beginning with the reality that, just as there is no one way to understand the Bible, there is no ONE Christianity. Thus, my review:

“I absolutely love Marcus Borg, as he’s able to take some complicated concepts that have made Christianity in particular (and, probably, religion in general) either a damaging stumbling block, or a compulsive mania, for so many, and demonstrate how it can make sense, be tolerant – beyond tolerant, even radically inclusive and compassionate – and still meaningful. The subheading for this book, “Taking the Bible seriously, but not literally” sums it up in as pithy a nutshell as I can manage.

Looking at both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, at the Law, Prophets and Wisdom, at the Gospels, Epistles and Revelation, not only does Borg show how these can hold deep and guiding wisdom and truth, even if at times their imagery is more metaphorical than factual history, Borg makes sense of the deep history of the Christian faith while bringing it in line with up to date understandings of the world, realizing that some truths and realities are timeless, while contextualizing others in their thousands-of-years-ago history.

And best of all – incredibly readable. Don’t let the dense and (perhaps – yawn – boring-sounding?) subject matter overwhelm or deter you. Borg is accessible, readable, funny and intelligent, and I very much believe there is much to be learned for anyone – secular or religious, atheist or “True Believer” to glean and learn from this book. It might not change anyone’s mind – in my case, it didn’t so much change my thinking as provide me a foundation, a basis, context and language for where I’m already at in my faith journey – but it will provide a perspective that perhaps goes under-heard and under-represented in terms of the voices speaking loudest on behalf of “Christianity” today. While it might not change your thinking, it will inform it, both about the Bible itself, and your understanding of how you and others think about it.”



{February 17, 2013}   Bad Blogger, and Update

Hi everyone,

So even the best intentions can run into madly busy weeks and months! It’s been nearly three weeks since I last posted – bad blogger! But it has been absolutely insane. Work has been quite the thing on a number of fronts – several interviews, tests, putting feelers out there with some response but no tangible success yet on one front, but things going so very well with my online teaching and church. It’s the Lenten season which means book study time and I’m excited about that, and we began this most solemn of times on the Christian calendar today with Communion, and a message that all are invited at Christ’s open communion table, and by extension to share his journey to the cross, and the period of rebirth and new understandings that followed.

It’s been a fun few weeks/weekends as well, as we have been able to babysit for friends, skate on the canal (Little Tyke’s first time on ‘big boy’ skates was ‘not so easy, but I do it’ – a good attitude we’re encouraging very strongly from our sensitive perfectionist), we’ve gotten LT’s first report card, and he’s become a “Zipper Expert” at school learning how to do up his own zipper all by himself. Little J, who has been known from time to time to have something of a temper, has also been playing really nicely with his friends and his brother. And both got to spend some time on the first Valentine’s cards they’ve really gotten to participate in. Nice. We could have done without some plumbing and flooding issues we’ve had, but those are now resolved and all’s well that ends well … right?

This weekend, however, takes the cake for fun. After a very busy week with much to do work- and ‘around the house’-wise (reorganizing our basement after the above-mentioned flood), my in-laws came up for a visit. They are awesome, by the way. They facilitated us being able to take Little Tyke to his first birthday party invite, where he had a great time. We also got to head out to Winterlude, the big February carnival here in Ottawa-Gatineau area, play on the winter playground and ice slides, have hot chocolate and beaver tails, and … oh so much fun. Before – get this – Ari and I got to go out to a lovely steak dinner for a belated Valentine’s date, and to the movies to see Zero Dark Thirty. I recommend it strongly by the way – although perhaps not at 10:30pm when really tired. It does take some mental energy to follow, and we managed and enjoyed it – but barely, in terms of a few moments of ‘What just happened?’ that I think wouldn’t have occured if we’d seen a matinee, or even an early show. Good stuff though.

And today, after a fabulous morning at church as described above, we had an ‘in’ day, making cupcakes with “Grandma V” and a game of Chutes & Ladders with LT. And now we’re heading into the dinner hour with boys who are just the right kind of tired lol, playing with all their newly-laid-out toys in the basement that’s been off limits to them for a week, and with a wrestling PPV just hours away. YAHOO!

I promise there won’t be a break between blogs that long again, and I will get back to posting about news/important world stuff and not just personal updates – it has been an EXTREMELY busy end of January/beginning of February, however, and I appreciate a really lot your bearing with me. You’ll hear from me again in the next day or two, and until then, be well. XOXO



{January 7, 2013}   Where does God Live?

In church yesterday we were talking about darkness vs. light, and God/Jesus as a guiding light. In Sunday School, we read the story of Samuel and Eli, where God was calling Samuel in the darkness of the middle of the night. Given this is a tale set in the Temple of Solomon, where the Ark of the Covenant (believed to contain God’s most holy name/God ‘himself’) resided, the Ark was often referred to, using the term (in a tongue and cheek fashion) “The box where God lived.”

The second or third time this came up, one of my ‘students’, who had been carefully listening to this point, could no longer contain herself.

“But God doesn’t live in a box!”

So true, and I have never been so proud of a student ‘calling out in class’. As the children’s minister at a progressive church, if there is anything I want my kiddos to take away with them on their spiritual journey, it is just that in a nutshell: that God does not live in a box. That that message has hit home made me so happy yesterday … just one of those moments of being so glad and blessed for just what it is I do.



et cetera