Monday, June 18, 2007

To the Beach!

Well, I'm closing up shop here today and will be off on vacation for a couple weeks. Feel free to peruse the archives while I'm at the beach. Maybe send some good vibes to our cat, Felix. He has a dear friend staying with him while we're gone, but he sure will miss us terribly. And, boy, will we ever miss him, too.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Random Ramblings - 8 Things Meme

Thanks to Diane, I was tagged for the Eight Random Facts meme that's been going around like the common cold at a preschool. First I have to post the rules, then dig right in to eight things you never wanted to know about good ol' me. :)

1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.

3.At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Here goes:

1. I lived in the same house until I graduated college. Shortly after I was married, my parents divorced and consequently sold the house. One Saturday, Dad told me I had to go up to the attic and sort through the relics of my entire childhood: children's books, my schoolwork through the years, stuffed animals, pictures, old projects, toys, clothing, you name it. I got up there and felt totally overwhelmed. I selected a Rubics Cube (which I think technically was my brother's) and Monopoly. I gave up everything else that was there. Stupid. Every now and then, before drifting off to sleep, I walk through the entire house again in my imagination, trying to remember as many details as I possibly can.

2. I was in San Francisco for the very first time one week after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. While there, I bought a copy of Martin Buber's I and Thou in a used book store on Haight Street.

3. I took the train across country when I was a junior in college. Jim got on the train in Minneapolis/St Paul and sat next to me. He was fifty years old and had been riding his bicycle across country. He was on his return trip when he got word that a friend had died, so he cut his trip short and was taking the train the rest of the way back to Sacramento, California. In Portland, Oregon, we had a five-hour layover. He bought me lunch and we spent a couple hours in Powells, a massive used bookstore in the years before Borders or Barnes and Noble. He lit my cigarette with a Zippo lighter despite the blustery wind as we walked back to the train station. I got off the train at Klamath Falls, Oregon. I turned and waved. I never saw him again. I guess if he's still alive now, he would be over 70 years old. Wow. That just occurred to me at this moment.

4. At the end of fourth grade we picked the instruments we wanted to learn to play the following year in band. I chose the tuba. My parents didn't let me play it because, they said, "Only boys play tubas." So I ended up playing the clarinet which was, I suppose, sufficiently girly. The other day Monk came home and told me he chose the instrument he wants to learn to play next year: the flute. I was astounded to find myself thinking: "Only girls play flute." I can't believe I thought it. Awful. I promise I'll never say it to him. Truth is, now that I'm an adult, I think my parents weren't so concerned about me playing the tuba because I was a girl as they were worried that the tuba was so very big, and I was so very small--it surely would have crushed me!

5. I lived at the beach with some girlfriends for a summer in college. Every morning my best friend and I would eat Cheerios and drink orange juice for breakfast. No matter what brand of orange juice we would get, I would have a complaint: "This orange juice is too sweet," or "This orange juice is too tart," or even something as vague as "This orange juice just doesn't taste right." Around the beginning of August, my friend turned to me and said very gently and lovingly, "I don't think you like orange juice." We laughed until our bellies hurt. She was absolutely right.

6. In high school I was enthralled with Shirley MacLaine and Richard Bach. After giving things some serious thought, I decided at the time that in a previous life I had been Lady Jane Grey, the nine-day queen.

7. When my hair is long, I dance like Snoopy. I don't know how to dance when my hair is short.

8. My parents bought a piano for us when I was little. I think it was a square grand piano--very, very old. And extremely rare. An ancient man used to come and tune it once a year. When the house was sold, the piano went with it. The picture below is the closest one I could find that looked like our old piano.

Wow. Funny how many of these random things are from a long time ago. Let's see. I tag: my brother, Amy, SpiritMist, Canticles, RevEm, RevMaria, and you if you want to play!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday Five - Hit the Road, Jack(ie)

Time to do a little dreaming. This week's Rev Gal Friday Five has us taking a little trip:

Suppose you were told to pack some essentials for a trip to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Describe your location, in general or specific terms
I would love to go away to a little cabin, nestled in the midst of some very tall trees. Somewhere where it will get hot enough for a swim during the day. But cool enough for a fire at night. A place where you can smell the pine trees. Drink coffee out on the porch in the morning. No other human-made discernible sounds--just the sounds of birds, wind, insects, maybe the lap of the water if it's close enough. -sigh-


1) What book(s) will you bring?
A White Teacher Talks About Race

2) What music accompanies you?
I hear only one song in my head at the moment, as I imagine sitting in the cabin: Norah Jones' singing Come Away with Me.

3) What essentials of everyday living must you take (as in the health and beauty aids aisle variety)?
Other than toothpaste, toothbrush, and other basic hygiene items? Nothing. Okay, maybe mascara.

4) What technological gadgets if any, will you take with you or do you leave it all behind?
I'd leave 'em all behind except my cell phone. If I have my laptop with me it will be open in front of me. Gotta leave it behind if I'm really going to get away from it all. Otherwise, it all comes with me.

5) What culinary delights will you partake in while there?
Oh, what a lovely question. How about some wine. Maybe even a bottle of champagne for one night. And maybe make some pasta with shrimp, garlic, olive oil, and hot pepper for dinner one night. Maybe make a pot of chili one day. Let's see. Fresh strawberries. Peaches. Granola in the morning. Coffee, of course. I wouldn't mind picking up hoagies from a deli one day for lunch. Some pretzels for snacking. Maytag blue cheese, pears, and french bread one evening while dinner cooks. How about some s'mores over the coals at night? Mint juleps. Or mojito. French toast one morning. We could make salmon one night, wrapped in foil with some asparagus spears, maybe some dill, lemon, and butter, all cooked together in the coals. Oh, life is so good. Ain't it?

As a bonus question, what makes for a perfect day on vacation for you?
Waking up whenever we wake up--no alarm. Reading. Going for a hike. Canoeing. Conversation. Writing. Cooking a simple meal. Quiet.

A Question of Anonymity, Part 2

I am very appreciative of all of you who generously responded to my question about how you feel about writing a blog under your own name or anonymously or pseudonymously. (Thanks, Songbird, for that word! I couldn't come up with it no matter how I wracked my brain when writing the original entry!) :)

I'm also thankful for my conspiracy-theory-prone brother's long and stern email to me on the subject as well. :) He is a very good big brother to me. (When I wrote him an anxious note, hoping he didn't take offense at the way I described him in my blog entry, he wrote back that, far from offensive, he took it as a compliment! He's so great!)

I think what most impressed me as I read through your reflections is that writing under your real name does not expand the subjects you're able to address; rather, it more likely restricts them even more. As I sat with your responses, I realized that the question may be less about anonymity than it is about the genre of blogging itself. It is a wonderful place to do some reflection, but not the place to do all reflection, by any means.

I definitely resonated with Tripp Hudgins's comment: "Blogs are public. Ministry is public." On some level, the degree to which I have chosen a public living out of my faith journey makes my pseudonymity on this blog seem almost self-contradictory.

Nonetheless, I suppose that for now maintaining this thin veil of disguise (however penetrable it ultimately is if one is determined enough to find out), seems like the wiser choice. Perhaps, like Rev. Dr. Mom eventually I may decide to start a second blog (disconnected from this one) in which I write under my professional (and therefore already public) identity.

So, thanks again to all of you for helping me think this through!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Question of Anonymity

I am thinking about 'coming out' on my blog--that is, deciding to stop being anonymous and go ahead and write with my name attributed to the words here. It's only a recent consideration, so I don't know yet what I'll decide. (And I know my conspiracy-theory-prone brother will not be pleased that I'm even thinking about this!)

I noticed, however, that it was very difficult for me to write anything on my blog over this past year as I got deeper and deeper into my professional roles as an associate minister and as a teacher. I found that much of what was consuming my thoughts and energies had to be off-limits from blogging. Mostly because I wanted to continue to protect my anonymity--not because anything I wanted to write would reveal something about my students or congregation.

I'm wondering if I went public, if I would find it easier to write? Or more difficult?

I'd be interested to know what others' experiences with this has been. Especially if you've made the transition from anonymity to public identity.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Faith Guiding Our Votes

I was sadly disappointed, for the most part, in the Sojourners sponsored CNN event Faith Guiding Our Votes, broadcast on a special edition of The Situation Room last evening. I can't imagine Sojourners was that pleased with it either.

For the most part, the questions asked by Soledad O'Brien, the moderator of the event, still represented a narrow-minded, deeply personal understanding of what it means to be a person of faith. I was astounded to see her lead off the event with a question posed to John Edwards: "Do you believe in creationism or evolutionism?" When Edwards answered immediately: "I believe in evolutionism," O'Brien followed up by asking: "So does that mean everyone who believes the world was created in six days is wrong? And their pastors are wrong?"

O'Brien's closing question for Edwards was downright salacious: "What is the greatest sin you ever committed?"

Barack Obama was offered the most relevant questions--in terms of faith and politics--when O'Brien asked about the war on terror and Israel/Palestine. Even there, however, the trajectory of her questions were sensationalist rather than searching: "Does God take a side on the War on Terror? In other words," O'Brien follows up, "Is God on the side of the U.S. troops?"

Obama raised the level of the evening's discussion by drawing on communal understandings of faith and responsibility, quoting from Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln several times.

When Hillary Clinton took the seat, O'Brien sank to an all time low. Without hesitating, O'Brien immediately asked Clinton "Did your faith help you through the difficult time of your husband's infidelity?" Soon after, O'Brien giggles after asking Clinton an equally personal question: "It's just us girls talking." What?!

These questions have absolutely no bearing on Hillary Clinton's campaign for the presidency. And, like Edwards' "worst sin" question, they were questions borne out of an utter lack of sophistication on issues of faith. I couldn't help but think of Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter in each of these instances--the public shaming of individuals in the name of religion.

What was most discouraging about it, I think, is the overprivatized notion of faith--that matters of faith are only deeply personal and have no public purpose. To my great disappointment, questions of faith were not expanded in last night's forum, despite Jim Wallis's persistent effort to reintroduce the issue of poverty each time the microphone was handed to him.

I had expected that Sojourners would have had more say over the entire selection of questions posed to each candidate--especially when each person was only given a total of fifteen minutes to speak. Unfortunately, they didn't. And in my view, the intersection of faith and politics was muddied all the more.

Here is CNN's summary of the event.