juxtaposed-finding-sanctuary-on-outside-daisy-rain-martin-paperback-cover-art1Juxtaposed is a well-told memoir of a sexual abuse survivor. Despite being abused by her stepfather, a minister in the church, Daisy Rain Martin still believes in God. She won’t tell you how or why, really, just that it’s a part of who she is. Martin isn’t here to tell anyone how to survive, how to get out, or how to deal with the aftermath. She just tells her own story.

I’m not an abuse survivor, so I can’t particularly relate to that subject, but I do recognize good storytelling, and I’m sure there are many others who can relate.

I don’t debate creation vs. evolution, because I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church, which doesn’t teach that they’re mutually exclusive, either (one of many things I’m thankful for from that church). When I received my first grown-up Catholic Bible, I devoured the introductions and additional material, which included information on literary genres and forms used in the Bible.

The Allegory: A figurative story with a veiled meaning. Read Genesis 2, 3; 4, 1-16; 6-8; 11, 1-9. For centuries, these chapters have been misunderstood as inspired lessons in science. The Bible does not teach science; it teaches religious values. It uses these folktales to teach a lesson.

So it kills me when people are upset about something really cool like the confirmation of the Higgs boson particle because it doesn’t line up with what they think the Bible tells them.

For instance, here’s a cool article I read about the Higgs boson and the concept from the Standard Model of physics that the visible universe only constitutes four percent of the actual universe (The Missing 96%” –Higgs Boson Will Help Unravel Mystery of the Invisible Universe). Whoa! I think it’s really cool that our universe is more complex than we are able to currently comprehend. But look down at the comments, where people start the God vs. science debate. Argh!

First, one without God:

It’s all made up. 96%, 99.9999%… It doesn’t matter because how can you say how much of UNDETECTABLE stuff is actually missing?

That’s just someone who doesn’t understand science, I think. And it’s answered by another commenter:

…we can detect dark matter [the missing 96%] through gravity, which is how we know it’s there.

Then we have

That’s an awfully big statement to be made if you don’t bring the word God into the calculation.

The origin of matter has been solved? Put all your theories together and then ask, where did that come from?

Good question. I think God is part of it. I think these theories can be valid AND God can be behind it all. Not everyone agrees, though. And this is a science article, not a religion article, so…no discussion of God! That doesn’t mean God doesn’t exist.

Then there’s  guy who posts a short BASIC program which I think is some kind of Bible fortuneteller program, and then he uses it to post Bible quotes. Parody, I think. And there are even a couple of people who appear to be actually discussing the science.

Oh,  here’s one I really like:

What if there never was a beginning at all, and things have always existed ? We make a huge assumption — a hidden one so big it is like the elephant in the room — when we ask how things “started.”

This is a great question to ponder, both in relation to science and to God. After all, Christian doctrine (I’m not sure about other religions) says that God at least has always existed. Is everything that exists a separate creation by God, or is it all a part of God and has therefore always existed? And if E=mc2 means that matter and energy are equivalent and neither can be created or destroyed, does that mean that everything has always existed, too?

ANYWAY, why can’t we all just get along? Why is science so threatening to some believers, and why is religion so threatening to some non-believers?

I got a free PDF of this book for blogging purposes, but I liked the first chapters so well that I paid for the actual ebook so I could finish reading it on my phone (which is where I seem to do most of my reading now).

I also told my husband that this book could have been written specifically for him. And then he read it and agreed!

Being Jesus In Nashville started off as a bit of a gimmick – Jim Palmer was going to do a modern version of In His Steps, the 19th century classic that first asked, “What Would Jesus Do?” He was going to apply the question to his own life and write about his experiences. Simple enough, right?

But it turned into a book that his publisher declared “outside the bounds of biblical, orthodox Christianity.” And he suddenly found himself without a publisher. So this book is now self-published.

What happened? It’s hard to explain quickly – but really, it’s right there in the title. Jim asks whether a person, like himself, can BE Jesus. Not just be LIKE Jesus — BE Jesus. That’s the controversial part. But he’s not saying I’M GOD, WE’RE ALL GOD, either.

It’s worth reading just to try to make sense of it all. Palmer’s written a couple of other books, which he refers to during this one. I rather wished I had read them before, but I don’t think its necessary, either.

Find out more about Being Jesus in Nashville (and how to buy a copy on Amazon) at Palmer’s blog.

I guess I didn’t notice that this is really a book for pastors. I am neither a pastor, nor currently a church leader, so it didn’t exactly speak to me. It is full of good information and ideas, though. The first section is about power; how power has traditionally been used (or in some cases, abused) in the church, and how pastors can change that. The second section deals with servant leadership, and the third is a practical section about prayer, scripture reading, following the ancient monastic vows of povery, chastity and obedience, and becoming a servant leader.

I found the practical information most helpful — it was a good reminder to add some structure to my spiritual life, with concrete ideas for doing so.

I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to change the way you pastor.

kmcdade:

Excellent post on why the church needs to change its stance on human sexuality.

Originally posted on We Your People, Ours the Journey:

General Conference logo, United Methodist Communications

When speaking of sin, we often separate into two categories: sins of commission (what we have done) and sins of omission (what we have left undone).

It’s about to get real frank up in here.

I asked to be placed on the Church and Society 2 legislative committee for the United Methodist Church General Conference this year. This committee deals with all petitions and resolutions that refer to a very limited portion of the Book of Discipline, mainly the section entitled “Human Sexuality.” Packed into this little section are some of the most controversial and difficult passages of our church polity: our stances on family, marriage, sex outside marriage, health care (yeah, I don’t know how that got in there), pornography, abortion, and homosexuality.

Yep, we’re the sex committee. And I asked to be placed here.

Why? Simply stated, I believe that these little sections contain the worst…

View original 1,125 more words

Before reading this book, almost everything I knew about Justin Bieber came from Glee. Or secondhand from Twitter (I don’t follow Bieber, who’s a fairly prolific and honest tweeter). And maybe a little bit from my kids, but they’re not huge fans either.

So Bieber’s story was completely new to me anyway, but reading it with a spiritual twist, and from the point of view of a woman my own age, put it into a good context for me.

Cathleen Falsani (author of The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers) admits that she was only minimally aware of Bieber before writing this book. She became interested after seeing a February 2011 Rolling Stone article titled “The Adventures of Super Boy: God, girls and boatloads of swag.”

And indeed, Justin was open about his faith in the interview. This is the one where he talked about homosexuality (he thinks it’s none of his business) and abortion (he’s against it, but also says “I haven’t been in that position, so I wouldn’t be able to judge that”).

But faith is part of his overall story, too, especially from his mother’s point of view. Much of the book really discusses Justin’s mother’s faith, rather than his own.

Falsani takes us through Justin’s history starting from before he was born to a teenage mother, through his childhood and into his current teen years. She recounts events that are probably familiar to the true Beliebers, like how he became a YouTube sensation, and how he ended up with a record deal.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to directly interview Bieber or people close to him for the book. So the information is coming from other interviews, and from Twitter. In fact, the advance copy I read includes several pages of tweets by Justin and his mother.

What’s clear is that Justin Bieber has grown up surrounded by faith, and that it’s part of who he is. I’d also say that’s he’s still very young, and his faith is still developing. Right now, he’s got the faith he’s grown up with; the faith of his family and friends. Like other young people, he’s still going to have to figure out whether this faith is authentically his own, and something he can live out as an adult.

ADDENDUM: I had my 11-year-old daughter read the book, too. She said that a lot of it was things that she already knew from Bieber’s movie. She also didn’t like reading pages and pages of tweets. She thought some younger people and teens might be interested, but that this book was geared more toward adults.

 


This book has a SQUIRREL on the cover. I have no idea why. Somebody should figure that out. [update: my husband reminded me that there's a story about a squirrel in the introduction. I was too busy thinking "SQUIRREL?!" and thinking about this.]

The subtitle is The Art of Not-Evangelism. I love this. I have never felt like traditional, getting-people-saved evangelism was an effective tactic. Actually, I’ve never felt like the whole philosophy of “let’s convert people and get them to attend our church on Sunday” was a good one. So this book is right up my alley.

According to Medearis, “making disciples of all nations” doesn’t mean we have to get everyone to go to church on Sunday, subscribe to a certain set of theological beliefs, or recite a certain prayer or prayers. It just means helping people to develop a relationship with Jesus and to follow Jesus.

And that’s it. It’s about Jesus. Not about Christianity or any other religion.

I loved it. It’s well-told and easy to read.

Here’s a sample:

Visit Carl Medearis’s blog.

Buy this book from Powells.com

Author Karen Spears Zacharias blogged about Lady Gaga yesterday. I like Gaga’s music, but I’m not an über-fan or anything. I only noticed the blog post because a Twitter friend tweeted about it.

Zacharias says that “Lady Gaga’s a Fake & You aren’t great” (capitalization hers). Specifically, she finds Gaga’s over-the-top appearance and performances fake.  Zacharias says that this is nothing new — it’s been done before, by artists like Madonna. And she points out that Gaga isn’t just like the rest of us — she comes from a fairly privileged background.

Lady Gaga 2011Okay. I can understand that. I frequently find Gaga ridiculous. I do recognize that she’s not the first to embrace the outrageous (and that “Born This Way” sounds an awful lot like “Express Yourself”). And I would agree that Lady Gaga doesn’t have a real rags to riches story.

But she goes on to say that the message of songs like “Born This Way” is wrong, too. That Lady Gaga’s going around telling people how great they are, and to embrace their greatness, and that this is somehow wrong.

Apparently, teaching kids to value themselves leads to “self-obsessed, pot-smoking, whoring-around delusional little monsters.”

Really? That’s what encouraging self-esteem leads to? Huh. I guess I’d better pull my kids out of Girl Scouts.

Zacharias suggests that we embrace humility instead, and “appreciate the wonder of being ordinary.” After all, we can’t all be stars. Most of us are, and will continue to be, ordinary.

Absolutely! Humility is an excellent quality, and a Christian value — but I think it’s possible to have a healthy sense of self-esteem and humility. It’s not either/or.

And ordinariness? Yes. I am ordinary. I’m not a genius of any kind, although I do have my own talents and gifts. I was born this way, and I can embrace that. I think that goes along perfectly well with the message of “Born This Way,” which is to embrace who you are! You don’t have to apologize for your race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, hairstyle, OR ordinariness.

Finally, Zacharias makes a big mistake by playing the Hitler card.

But imagine for a moment a world in which future little Hitlers, Pol Pots, Stalins, or Osama Bin Ladens go around singing the chorus of Gaga’s Born this Way:

I’m beautiful in my way
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way
Don’t hide yourself in regret

Karen, megalomaniacs are going to be crazy no matter what pop songs they listen to. Songs that encourage people to value themselves simply aren’t going to create dictators or terrorists.

Don’t like Lady Gaga? Fine. But the idea that encouraging people’s self-esteem is somehow bad for society? I don’t get it.

If you’ve ever done any therapy, you’re probably familiar with the idea that we all live by scripts. Sometimes we’re living out scripts that are unhealthy, even though they’re familiar.  Author Frank Viola suggests that as Christians, we need to look at the scripts we’re using to live out our Christianity with a critical eye, because not all of these scripts actually come from God. He exhorts us to re-center on God, and let Him revise our lives.

Revise Us Again: Living from a Renewed Christian Script is short, to the point, and full of good examples, including some humorous stories and some that will probably make you cringe.  If you’ve read and liked Viola’s other books, you’ll appreciate this one, too.

I saw this posted on Twitter today: Dear Church. A Letter From the Searching.

It’s not from an actual searcher. But please read it. It’s a good reminder that this is likely where many visitors are coming from. They’re looking for SOMETHING; not necessarily thinking “Gee, I really need to get SAVED.”

Meet them where they are.

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