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Archive for October, 2009

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Someone in this household got a very important letter in the mail yesterday. This someone was Dave, and the letter read:

Dear David,

I write to advise you that you are now eligible to graduate from the University of St Andrews with the award of Master of Letters Bible and Contemporary World with Distinction in the Dissertation.

Needless to say David is very very happy, and I am very proud of him. We are excited that we will be able to celebrate in style in January when we travel to Boston to hear the US premiere of Macmillan’s St. John Passion, which is the piece that Dave wrote his dissertation on.

On friday night we went to the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s performance of Samuel Beckett’s play Wating for Godot. Another perk of being part of the University community is cheap (usually $5) tickets for performances such as this, when tickets for the general public sell for $25 to $30. I had read the play for a class a few years back so was familiar with it, but this Harlem-based company’s “bracing and immediate” adaptation included such delights as a random cover of Billy Jean, dance moves included. The play itself is kind of depressing with it’s ecclesiastic themes, but poignant all the same, and laden with allegory.

Yesterday we had a very autumnal outing planned with a group of friends for someone’s 30th birthday. We were supposed to go pumpkin picking at a local farm complete with hay rides and maybe even cotton picking. I was pumped to say the least. Then the rain started. And didn’t stop. All day. So we opted for games and food at someone’s house instead. Cranium, which I LOVE, was one of the games we played. Despite my best efforts to enshroud my slight competitiveness in order to not demolish these newly-hatched friendships, I failed, and was found out. But it made for a fun and interesting game, which, might I add, my team won. And to top it all off I was introduced to someone at church the next day by one of these new friends as follows..

“Rachel, this is Hannah. She moved here a few months ago. She’s really competitive. And the best humdinger ever!”

Looks like this might be the start of a reputation in these parts. Oh goodness.

The trees are turning all kinds of awesome colors, it’s so beautiful! And here are some cookies that I made this past week: Pumpkin white chocolate.

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Last night Stanley Hauerwas was publically interviewed by an Anglican Priest/News Anchorman (weird combination, I know) in the divinity school. I had heard Dr Hauerwas speak in chapel a few weeks ago, which was a great experience as expected. The sermon was on a passage from 1 Corinthians and was fairly straightforward and not particularly controversial. His language was appropriate for a church service and his countenance was that of a minister, not a professor. Last night, however, we were able to get a glimpse of the Hauerwas that has become legendary in theological circles for certain slips of the tongue. Hauerwas the Texan was fully present last night as the interviewer asked him questions pertaining to “being a Christian in today’s world.” Aside from many  typically rich, challenging, profound, and elegant reflections on being a Christian in the modern world were the Hauerwasian one-liners that make Hauerwas the legend that he has come to be. Here are my favorites from last night (please excuse some of the language):

On Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens: “Dawkins and Hitchens simply represent the fact that Christians have become so stupid that they have ceased to give the world anything interesting to think about. It’s not atheism that’s killing the Church, but sentimentality.”

On Christian marriage: “The problem with most sex is that it’s not very intimate…Our spouses get to know us better than we know ourselves, and it just scares the shit out of us.”

On health care reform: “If you live a crappy life there is no reason that you shouldn’t die a crappy death.”

On the recent developments between the Vatican and Anglicans: “I think what Benedict did was absolute shit…They just can’t give up on England. Why they would want England beats the hell out of me”

On the south: “Southern civility is one of the most calculated forms of cruelty I can think of.”

Of course, all of these soundbites were part of much broader and deeply thought-out reflections on the particular issues, but the one-liners are always the fun part. Yet, despite such fun, I was reminded last night just what is at stake when I call myself a Christian and proclaim Jesus as Lord in a world that has no time for God. Here is a passage from Hauerwas that is perhaps more insightful than a mere soundbite:

“Do  I think the truthfulness of Christian witness is compromised when Christians accept the practices of the ‘culture of death’–abortion, suicide, capital punishment, and war? Yes! On every count, the answer is ‘Yes’…Christians betray the grammar of the Christian faith when we try to answer the charge of circularity by divorcing what we believe from the way our beliefs are embedded in the church. In short, I am suggesting that Christians in modernity have lost the ability to answer questions about the truthfulness of what we believe because we have accepted beliefs about the world that presuppose that God does not matter. The problem for Christians and non-Christians alike is the Christian inability to live in a way that enables us to articulate what difference it makes that we are or are not Christian.” -from With the Grain of the Universe

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North Carolina State Fair

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The Family

     For as long as I can remember I have been interested in family dynamics and human development within the family structure. I could talk for hours on end about relationships throughout the life cycle, the societal development of the family, or birth order. I actually wrote a 15 page paper back in college on that very topic. I took many interesting classes (in the psychology, sociology, and human development departments) on family life and parenting. I often regret majoring in psychology as I gained more of a scientific analysis of brain development and human behavior, as opposed to behavior within the family system which I was more interested in. I did however, take some interesting and thought provoking classes that tended to lean more toward a study of the individual within the system of the family and society as a whole.  

     One of these classes was The Sociology of the Family. What sparked this post was a visit to my old blog (now my baking blog) where I wrote a post about this class. I was in a very different place back then and was somewhat more naive, but I still enjoyed reading how passionate I was about the topic. I still am. In a society where family is taking the backseat to technology and busy schedules, I want so much to help people realize what an intregal part the core family and the surrounding community of people plays in a child’s life.

  Although the Nature/Nurture debate is practically over, we’re pretty sure it’s both : ), both aspects are much more convoluted than we like to think. Think about it; in the nurture camp alone we have influences such as parental attachment, parental style, birth order, sibling spacing, family dynamics as a whole, peer relationships, schooling/education, and the child’s exposure to events and experiences both within and outside of the home. It’s so overwhelming it can almost make you wonder if you’re capable of raising a child into an adult. Almost. All that to say, I love this stuff. And I’m thinking about quenching my thirst by seeking some more education. Maybe. Just maybe.

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Ten Thousand Charms

     One thing we have been very conscious of since attending All Saints AMIA church is the fact that it is made up of mostly white, and mostly middle class people. Looking back, that has been the case for most of my church going over the years, and seems to be the case for the majority of churches in America. This stark division was illuminated more so for me this weekend as we attended the performance of The Hallelujah Train with the “spine-shaking Pastor Brady Blade, Sr.” who presides at Shreveport’s Zion Baptist. It was an event that Duke put on and was headed up by Brian Blade (the pastor’s son) and his band, as a way to recognize his father and the work God is doing through him and his vocation. This man sang/preached/danced his heart out and was backed by the Zion Baptist church choir and The Hallelujah Train jazz group (who were about as funky as you can get). And let me just say, he definatly shook my spine! Apparently he has been preaching for over 50 years.

     Now, this wasn’t exactly a church service, it was a performance. But the word of God was preached through those songs in a powerful way and I’m not gonna lie, I danced and clapped and swayed till my feet hurt. My soul was awakened to the joy of the Lord in a way that I haven’t experienced in a long while. As we sat there amongst people from all different backgrounds and colors, I praised the Lord.  I praised the Lord for restoration, and for diversity. I long for a place where there REALLY is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, man and woman. In Christ, of course, this is the reality. But it seems not so in the churches we attend, the social classes we enevitably belong to, and the friendship groups we choose. For now, we can try to be more aware of this, and more open to change.  We can learn to be unafraid of those who are different to us, for we are told that perfect love casts out fear.

     In church this morning we talked about loving our brothers and sisters. I found it interesting to think about how we don’t choose who those ‘brothers and sisters’ are based on what we’re comfortable with. Surely ‘brothers and sisters’ encompasses more than the young white middle-class heterosexual couple who we were sharing our row with in church.  Surely. At the end of communion we sang a hymn that stayed with me. The chorus speaks volumes into where we can find the kind of place I’ve been longing for. Maybe the arms of Christ is the only place where we will truly encounter such rich love and acceptance for ourselves and each other.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.
  

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Haiku.

Barack Obama

Winner of Nobel Peace Prize

Maybe we can change.

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