Friday, September 12, 2008

At the Wall Declaration

There's been a lot going on, about which I really can't go into detail, but I think it's important that Evan and I share this as a first step towards accountability with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
What I can say is that we like where we are -- Ohio. The Midwest suits me fine, and Evan's ok with it, except for allergies. We LOVE our house, which I think is rare in pastoral ministry. It's not extravagant, but it is an absolutely beautiful old house that has pretty much everything we want, little that we don't want, and just enough room for the future. Evan has also benefited immensely from his time at UTS. It has been the medicine he has needed at several critical points.
That said, the suburban lifestyle that we have had to adapt to here has been a struggle. I don't think this is particular to Ohio, but it is very different from the urbanized or the rural cultures of our previous churches. It is subversive and deceptive, particularly when it comes to living a Christian life, and I think both Evan and I have been at some loss in how to live the way we feel we have been called and continue to minister to people with such different values and priorities.
I don't say that demeaning or arrogantly. But this has been our growing observation, even as we continue to deepen our relationships with the people we've met here.
However, we've hit a wall. And we've both needed a new measure of grace to know whether to climb over, dig under or build a door. Thankfully, God has placed a few people in our lives that have given us encouragement to keep going, even if they have not told us what we need to do. They have also challenged us.
And to that end, we have made a decision to begin truly living by the priorities and convictions of our calling. And we will live with the consequences of them. We have concluded that if we do not reclaim some of these things, we will not survive.

Therefore, we declare:

1. Sabbath will be observed in our household.
2. Further simplification of our necessities and our luxuries so that we may give more to others in the local and global community.
3. The Christian calendar will be our mark for time.
4. Greater focus on our educational and professional goals as they support our call serve the Church.
5. Our practice of specific behaviors (ie. detachment, lectio divina, OSL, etc.) that will allow us to continue in our vocational ministry.

These are five broad declarations that have many specifics already attached to them. Those are things that probably don't require posting on a blog site. But I just wanted to let you know, that we may be saying "No," to somethings now, and "Yes," to some other things that we would not have not too long ago.
I hope that you will pray for us as we begin to reorient our life toward this recovered vision our life in Christ.

God Is Not Just Interested In Your Soul

"The gospel at its best deals with the whole man, not only his soul but his body, not only his spiritual well-being, but his material well-being.  Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial."
--Martin Luther King, Jr.   from A Testament of Hope, ed. by James M. Washington

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Your Mama's Nuts!

OK, I know I'm going to make some people mad, but I've got to just get it out there and if you don't understand then fine, whatever. This is also going to ramble a bit . . .
First an example:
Some of you may know that as I've gotten older I've actually become more "liberal." I use that term very loosely because I am not liberal theologically. Neither am I fundamentalist. But I tend to approach politics the way I approach church. As much as it pains me sometimes, I tend to honor the faith or political persuasions of my fathers. I think there is something to be said about blessing being passed down through generations honoring God. When I'm fencewalking I tend to go conservative politically as well.
All that to say, I was kind of excited about Sarah Palin as McCain's VP pick. To this point, McCain kind of creeped me out. I'm not big into military service being the sole character qualification for President, even if it's an amazing story. I perceive McCain as an opportunist and barely conservative.
But, I like Sarah Palin.
First, she's a reformer. It is possible for those with a conservative bent to expect reform within an institution. Does "conservative" mean anti-change? I don't think it has to.
Even better, she's a reformer of her own party. It seems pretty easy for Dems to hold Pubs "accountable," and vice versa, but how many are willing to look internally, admit wrong and clean house?
Of course, it helps that she's a woman. And not just a man in rainbow's array of women's pantsuits. She actually wears dresses and her hair long. That cracks me up. Plus she's like a baby machine, which is very disconcerting. She's been criticized and picked apart endlessly for this fact. Which is quite funny (not funny ha ha, of course, but your know, funny queer) considering our uterine abilities are what make us women uniquely useful to society.
Unlike Hillary, who displayed her frigid femininity in a very over-population-conscious token Chelsea, Sarah just can't stop producing these babies!
That admiration might seem strange coming from me -- childless -- with only passing desires to bear children. I mean, how many times have I heard or heard implied the wisdom that is apparently immediately bestowed on a woman who has born a child? Give me a break.
But more than this child-bearing ability, is Palin's ability to be a GOVERNOR of a state and the mother of a five-month old SPECIAL NEEDS child at the same time. Unlike so many women in my age group, Palin has not abdicated her responsibility or role within the community because she bore a child 5 months ago or has four others following behind.
Admittedly, one factor that has kept Evan and I from having children is that we have an inkling that we would not be able to serve the Church with the same depth or bredth that we currently do. Children are a commitment of money, time and love that we would, at this point, rather offer the Church than anything else. Furthermore, the sad fact is, men do not have to answer for their families in the way women do - whether it's in professional, academic or ecclesial worlds. But Palin has challenged that notion for me. Must I sacrifice my potential intellectual and societal contributions for my potential children? Palin suggests I do not.
So Mothers, tell me I don't understand. No, you don't understand. Tell that to Sarah Palin.