weekend fast from consuming

February 27, 2006

stairwell accompaniment:Colin Hay

discussions from my husband and i–ragamuffins, indeed.

It has been an observation of ours that the American church experience follows a fairly consistent model. It consists of several stages that play to differing emotions. My husband and I both grew up in the church and have been (positively/negatively?)affected by this model. The first stage caters to the feeling and ecstasy of the spiritual encounter and is normally brought about through what is usually referred to as “worship”, singing and music. This time typically builds the tempo and gains the audience’s attention. The music often has a crescedo effect on the emotions which brings about focused attention, intense excitement or activity and then slows down to set the stage for a speaker. And in this second phase of the American worship experience the speaker brings about a mellow, often sobering state of a medium tempo message which plays to the intellect. In Protestant circles, this message often ends by appealing to the emotions and exposing guilt in unresolved sin. The last stage takes the energy of this guilt from the crowd and heights it through very emotionally gripping, weighty music which often drives individuals to a decision-making point or “spiritual epiphany”. Recurrently, this decision-making point involves making a move toward the alter for renewal and new resolve. And now this model spiritual experience is so intertwined with the physical experience (the environment, stages and emotions) and in many minds, this physical model of spiritual expience is replicated in small groups, and even individual devotional times. And the fear here is that the individual may begin to believe that spiritual encounters only happen within this model. And we move from Christ enhabiting all aspects of our lives to being encapsulated within this set spiritual architecture. So now there is this life within the model and there is a life outside of the model when truly, there should not be this dichotomy. Not to say that the model itself is wrong or ultimately ineffective or that it doesn’t serve well to help individuals grow in their relationships with Jesus Christ. We are concerned that the model is never explicitly recognized as simply an architecture and is not necessarlity authoritative as the only authentic model to spiritual experience that exists. It is somehting that should be recognized and we ought to be able to discern that our daily lives and our daily devotions should not have to follow this emotional profile. Spiritual experiences should be “allowed” in a full range of emotions: sadness, joy, frustration… Our spiritual decisions are not made in a single, sweeping, all-or-none emotional decision. On the contrary, it entails daily, decision-by-decision, moment-by-moment experiences. And God is not limited to being experienced through specific emotions. We both have struggled with limiting our spiritual experiences by modeling them to the American church model and expecting that it will mirror the emotions felt during a typical church service. We have failed to recognize that our spiritual walks do not look like this and, in fact, will inevitably contain a wide variety of emotions, decisions and attitudes that are not typically seen, felt or recognized on a Sunday morning. So it is a move from the American church’s spiritual model to a more universal approach to spiritual growth. One that is applicable to different cultures, different languages, different personalities and different backgrouds. The importance is not on environment or technology or comfortability. As Christians we have the freedom, whether as a congregation or individual, to move outside of this model and into a more wide, inclusive approach to a personal God. Should my approach to moving closer to God look like Josh’s? It does not. We aren’t at all downplaying the fact that community within the Christian faith is vitally important! We simply hope believers can recognize that spiritual experiences have moved to become both a cultural as well as a spiritual experience. Can we separate the two in order to recognize that the cultural aspect does not contain the authority?


on holiday

February 21, 2006

stairwell accompaniment:stevie wonder- i was made to love her
weekend roadtrip

midwest.wicked cold.arch.630feethigh.caving.climbing.sliding.hiding.thai.union station.chocolate cake.tv.redezvous.old friends.with new babies.homemade breakfast.art museum.indian food.Numinous.midwest.

narrow your search

February 14, 2006

stairwell accompaniment:Counting Crows

the things i struggle with. innumerable. but a major one over the past few years has been my thoughts and actions and attitudes toward the church. and i’ve continually worked to move from the The Church attitude and closer toward the bride of Christ(!) line of thinking. a difficult process full of baggage and selfishness and my failure to have “contempt for contempt” rather than the contempt for anyone or anyone who injurs me in any way i’ve become accustomed to. the bride of Christ. and i’m realizing that i can’t third-person this concept. do i not call myself a follower of Chist? if so, am i not also the body of Christ? so my hope for myself (as my part in that bride) and for the bride (big picture here) if that people would never come to this bride with a genuine desire to learn and walk away feeling as if we’ve made it too difficult for them to choose Jesus. do we act as an obstacle to Jesus, holding too tightly to our favorite presentation of “the gospel”, our learned words of religion, our irrelevance to actual life? do we contain too much of our own opinions and conviction and too little of Jesus Christ? He offers the invitation to a light burden to those who labor with heavy ones. this sounded absurd to me until i realized that the heavy burden is the result of resisting the call of Jesus. and understanding what a light burden feels like in actuality can only take place after obedience to follow. He asks nothing of us without giving us the strength to perform yet we refuse to allow His strength to prevail as we lift the earthly weight of doing it on our own to feel strong and in control.
an innumerable struggle of equal importance has been my quest to understand grace more fully the way Jesus lived it out. i am slowly moving away from equating grace’s infinite cost with infinite usage. away from grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. away from grace as justification of sin without justification of the sinner. away from following the consolation of grace rather than follow Christ. away from the secularization of christianity through what dietrich bonhoeffer would call “cheap grace”. and finding refuge in a grace that is continually sought after. continually asked for. i am continually knocking on the door of grace.
perpetual student with innumerable struggles and a light burden.

February 13, 2006

stairwell accompaniment:Postal Service

brunch at the market saturday led us to this comedic romanticism characterized by three elderly men reading their personal poetry. entertaining.

this weekend i orchestrated a surprise birthday party for my husband. he’s unbelievablly compliant and easy-going. surprising him is ridiculously effortless.

opening our tiny (read:cozy) apartment to few dozen friends and family and leslie sharing her art and Carli telling personal stories about traveling somewhere and never making it to her destination and not regretting it and Brian laughing. loudly. and parents in the kitchen turned pizza factory and matt asking for marriage advice. and dave thinks that gnomes are adorable and chad. black is back. the community we long for.

and today i’m dreaming of sleeping in the sun. warm afternoons.

morning shots

February 9, 2006

stairwell accompaniment:death cab for cutie

sir ethan simply because with a name like ethan, a “sir” must preceed:

although some might suggest i’ve a newfound obsession with babies. and more specifically, baby toes, i argue. i’ve a newfound obsession with the new cameragadget. previous three babies posted about (hambone, selah and sir ethan) were all births i attended/assisted/doula-ed this past year. more to come. pictures and births.