Friday, February 26, 2010


love emily katz. everyone should have a friend who will wait outside reading work power point slides to make sure we have a spot in this fantastic restaurant. love flour and water. the pizza was fantastic. the conversation, even better. she's one of those people who reminds me that, however easy it is to get distracted from the things that matter in life, they're always there waiting for you when you turn back to them.

thanks girl.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

praying for a hotel room

We were in Venice. It was the fall semester of my junior year, and I was traveling with thirty-five of my new best friends. My sister had just flown out to visit me during fall break in Salzburg, and once that was over we all reconvened at our typically European (read: tiny and with wafer-thin mattresses) hotel just a few bridges from St. Mark's.

It didn't take long for everyone's stories about fall break to tumble out . . . She cut her hair, which was jarring to the rest of us who had seen her daily for months. They went to Innsbruck and illegally rented a car, enjoying the thrill of doing something forbidden to us during these three months. He fell more in love with the girl who was also on the trip, and she continued to pretend not to notice.

She went to Ireland with her parents, and they decided to come back to Venice with her. She had always been unpredictable, so we had no idea what to expect from her parents. I don't remember, now, what they were like then. But I remember this. Apparently, all of Venice was booked. Not a pensione to be found. So they prayed. They huddled together, the three of them in a corner, and prayed that God would give them a hotel room in Venice where they could stay the night.

He did, I think, or they did, or whatever. They found a place, is what I mean.

But what does that mean? What would it mean of God that prayers for hunger to end, for a mother's life to be saved, for a family to be lifted out of poverty would all fall on deaf ears, or that the answer would be 'no, not now,' and that this family prayed and were not only heard by the Lord but were cared for? Perhaps this is all unknowable, and part of the mystery of God's character that really confuses people. Or, perhaps they just got totally lucky.

Either way, all I really know is I don't get it. I do get that we are meant to bring all that concerns us before God, so praying about a hotel room doesn't seem like a bad idea in itself. But in some ways, to me, it seems more like superstition - rubbing a lucky charm and repeating my wish over again until I believe that my efforts led to the positive outcome I wanted all along.

All of this came to mind for me because I saw that someone had written on Facebook about her iPod being found. "God is good all the time!" she said."Oh, the power of prayer!" And I just don't know how to respond to these kinds of comments. Why would God bring you back your iPod, but not get me on an earlier flight at the airport? Why would God save your child with cancer, but let your friend's child die? Is it because of prayer? Is it random? Some combination of the two, or is it how we pray, or our motivation for prayer? These aren't rhetorical questions - I would really love to know . . .

In the meantime, I'm going to pray for a nice dinner with my friend emily

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I have changed his name for the sake of privacy, but the details remain the same. I want to share with you the story of a man in my yoga class. It is a story that I know admittedly little of, but holds an odd interest for me nonetheless . . .

His name, let's say, is angelo. He is probably in his early to mid thirties, with short but shaggy brown hair, the kind i'm sure he spends a lot of time on but wants you to think is effortless-looking. (no judgment here; i'm in the same camp)

He loves to do headstands. No joke. Every time we are in the same class, he always requests 'inversions.' For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it means a headstand. Yes, you stand ON YOUR HEAD. Me, not so much with the headstands. But Angelo has a mean headstand in his practice (that's how you say it. "If you have an inversion in your practice, you may take it now." me, i lay on the floor with my feet up against the wall.)

So angelo gets up on his head - look mom, no hands! - and balances there like it's the easiest thing in the world. he's not afraid that his shirt is going to fall over his head, leaving him blind and with pale tummy exposed, because he doesn't wear a shirt. maybe he'll walk in with one on, but it reliably comes off at the five-minute mark.

when class is over, just as surely as the shirt has been removed, angelo will find some unsuspecting yogi and ask him or her for a ride home. i'm not sure how he gets to class, but he always wrangles some hot young woman to drive him home and suggests they get together to meditate, but always at her place, his place is too small.

he is an interesting figure. part of what i don't get is, how as a Christian do i respond to people who are just kind of weird? or seem weird, to me? i'm uncertain about this. the other part i don't get is the shirt. honestly? we get that you're proud of your six-pack, but checking out your armpit hair in warrior one makes me want to gag.

Monday, February 22, 2010


last night i finished the book i'd been reading all weekend - prep, by curtis sittenfeld. and now, i feel that kind of deep sadness that i feel when a good book is over, and it can never be read for the first time again. or like someone i love has moved away, and i don't know when i'll see them again.

maybe more to come on this book later - i need to think through a way to revise what i've already written about it in a less maudlin way. but suffice it to say for now, you should read it. it isn't what you'll think it is. actually, it's everything you'll think it is and then more than you knew you remembered about certain times of life.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

tender, chickified church guys

"You get around Paul when he was a young guy, you got around John the Baptist or Elijah, , these dudes seem pretty rough to me, you know they don't look like church boys wearing sweater vests and walking around singing love songs to Jesus. guys like David are well-known for their ability to slaughter other men. I kind of think these guys were dudes. heterosexual, win a fight, punch them in the nose, dudes. the problem with the church today is that it's just a bunch of tender, chickified, church guys.

When you walk in [to a church], it's sea foam green and fuchsia and lemon yellow, the whole architecture and aesthetic is kinda feminine, the preacher is feminine, the music is kind of emotional and feminine - why aren't we being innovative? Because . . .


(Caps mine).

Really, just don't know where to start with this one. I can hear a very rational voice in my mind telling me to let it go; there will always be people out there on the fringes of any social movement or religion who you disagree with. That's fine. Just disengage. They want the power that you're giving them by reacting, don't give it to them.

And that's all fine and good, and probably why I don't go around seeking out incendiary videos like this in my spare time. But when I come across them, when I come across this kind of teaching, I don't want to ignore it.

It strikes me first that God, in his infinite wisdom, did not divinely grant the gifts of innovation, creativity, strategic thinking to men only. I know many incredibly innovative women, and believe that it would be nothing less than a denial of God's work in them to say that we have to wait for young men to show up before we can innovate.

Read what follows below, which is excerpted from a booklet Driscoll put out called Church Leadership:

Without blushing, Paul is simply stating that when it comes to leading in the church, women are unfit because they are more gullible and easier to deceive than men. While many irate women have disagreed with his assessment through the years, it does appear from this that such women who fail to trust his instruction and follow his teaching are much like their mother Eve and are well-intended but ill-informed. . . Before you get all emotional like a woman in hearing this, please consider the content of the women’s magazines at your local grocery store that encourages liberated women in our day to watch porno with their boyfriends, master oral sex for men who have no intention of marrying them, pay for their own dates in the name of equality, spend an average of three-fourths of their childbearing years having sex but trying not to get pregnant, and abort 1/3 of all babies – and ask yourself if it doesn’t look like the Serpent is still trolling the garden and that the daughters of Eve aren’t gullible in pronouncing progress, liberation, and equality (p. 43).

If anything could get my blood boiling more quickly, I don't know what it would be. Both because of his glib treatment of significant sociocultural pressures, and the wholesale dismissal of over half the American church population as leaders and influencers in our churches.

As if, it might be fair to say, as if women in the church ought to be defined by the covers and content of magazines in line at the checkout stand. As if women impregnate themselves recreationally and categorically turn down help from their partners who offer endless support because men never run away from the unexpected responsibility of being a father; as if Adam, in the Garden of Eden, bore no responsibility for taking the fruit from the woman and the Serpent is surely not running amid his kind! We are naive and empty-headed, good for looking nice and pouring into our husbands but in a 'seen-and-not-heard' kind of way. As if emotion has no place in the church. As if Jesus himself did not show emotion. Women are gullible and easy to deceive, Driscoll says. And he has every right to think that. And while again I don't buy into this wholesale writing off of all women, and I believe that categorizing ALL women in ONE group makes no sense, EVEN IF IT WERE TRUE, doesn't our God work through broken and weird and gullible people? Or is that just too much for him?

Of course, that isn't true. Women, as a group, don't exist in such a way that they can be characterized by traits. Neither can men. There is no male or female, not anymore, not since Jesus. And if I remember correctly, Jesus, our savior, is the one who let the children come to him when all the men around him said not to. Jesus told Peter to sheathe his sword in Gethsemane, and then put Malchus's ear back onto his head. Jesus reminds us to walk farther than we are required, to be compassionate to those who hurt or cannot care for themselves, to submit to him just as he submits to God. Ours is not a gratuitously violent God, not a God who would belittle those on the margins, not a God who would deny anyone her or his place in his Kingdom for any reason.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Just go read this

From Michele's blog, while she's talking about a friendship that ended:

Drop your expectations.

Remember that people cannot give you what they do not have.

In a nutshell, that’s what happened with my friend and I. I realized that she could not give me what she did not have to give. I still grieve that she didn’t have it; I wished she had it like I wish for my children to have character or my husband to have success. (He already has character.)

And believe me, I still endeavored to get from her what she couldn’t give in all kinds of different ways, all the way up until the end. Coercion, dishonesty, pity, indirect communication—I tried it all.

Sometimes these kinds of “friends” in our lives go by another name: Gaslighters.

The term comes from the 1944 movie Gaslight, where the evil husband tricks and manipulates his wife into thinking she is insane. From the film’s title, gaslighting” acquired the meaning of ruthlessly and deviously manipulating an individual into believing something other than the truth for one’s own purposes.

Our relationship worked because on some level, I had decided that I needed to tolerate anything, and that I had the power to fix anything. I made up a vision of myself as able to transform any situation, if only I did things right. All the times she made me doubt myself, wonder if I was crazy, even feel safe to an extreme degree–were all part of my quest to prove to myself that I was better than the circumstances. In reality, I was being compromised in ways and with consequences that I am still discovering to this day.

To anyone with gaslighters in your life, even now: you have an opportunity to show yourself a great deal of compassion and accept that there’s no shame in having made a mistake, or even several mistakes. The sooner you can find someplace else to sling that self-blame, the more likely you are to find your way out of the darkness of confusion and fear and into the light of grace and truth. If you need help, ask for it. Grace be to you.

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