July 18th, 2009

that's not incense

[on prayer] "what do I love when I love my God?"

[I posted this to WGC about a week ago but never crossposted it here.]

In reading Blake Huggins' recent blogpost "Prayer (still) does not change things," I found a lot which resonated with me (and some that didn't fit with my personal journey) and a lot to chew on.

if theology is primarily about developing a sound and coherent word (logos) about God (theos) — however limiting and finite it may be — what could be more important than prayer?  If I am feebly and delicately trying to develop ideas about God, about the divine, about that which is beyond me and that which consumes me — which is what I have devoted the remainder of my life to doing — what could be more weighty and significant than my ideas about addressing the divine, than my approach to communicating with God, than the way in which I, to borrow from Brother Lawrence, practice the presence of God?

This is what I am trying to get at: prayer says more about our theology and our ideas of God than we realize; indeed, I would go so far as to claim that how we view prayer in some sense determines what we believe about the nature of God and vice versa.  If God is a deus ex machina, a mechanistic deity, a Big Daddy in the Sky who pulls strings for good people and cuts strings for bad people, then we will pray in a certain way.  And, like my example above, how we pray will reveal an understood theology whether we overtly claim it or not.  If we really want to “do theology” well and uncover all those areas in which the residue of our tacit assumptions about God still remain, then we had better take prayer seriously.

What can we do, then, in developing a theology of prayer but return to St. Augustine’s age old question in book ten of the Confessions:  what do I love when I love my God?  Is that not the ultimate question of prayer?  Does that penetrating question not guide all our prayers and all our tears, all of our weak attempts to address that which calls us into being?  To paraphrase Jacques Derrida, what can we do but re-inscribe that question into our own context and our own language?

[My note: See also Blake's earlier post in which he talks about (among other things) relationality in reflecting on the question "what is it that we love when we love our God?  Who is it that we love when we love our God?"]

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gonna be a fireman when the floods roll

[kidney donation] "Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors."

Last Monday morning, an email came through on the listserv of the local UCC church I attend about writing letters to Legal Seafoods and The Cheesecake Factory.  (The email says, in part, "Legal Seafoods and The Cheesecake Factory restaurants in Greater Boston subcontracted with local companies that hired these workers to clean their restaurants. The cleaning companies then refused to pay the workers for both regular and overtime hours, cheating them out of weeks of hard-earned pay. Our mission and justice partner Centro Presente is leading a campaign seeking fair treatment for the workers.")

It occurred to me that probably plenty of CWM folk would be interested in workers' rights issues, and I continue to feel frustrated at the lack of information-sharing between congregations.

What I've been hearing about these past however many weeks at CWM (my primary church) is the trans-inclusive Massachusetts ENDA [and hate crimes bill] and environmental stuff.

At midweek service at aforementioned UCC church last week, the pastor had flyers for the Hearty Meals outreach at the American Baptist church down the street.

Then later I was thinking about how it probably makes sense for individual congregations to only focus on a few mission outreaches


Later that day, I read an article in The Atlantic about kidney donation (which I didn't realize until I hit the end was by Virginia Postrel).  Excerpt:
Living with a single kidney is almost exactly like living with two; the remaining kidney expands to take up the slack. (When kidneys fail, they generally fail together; barring trauma or cancer, there’s not much advantage to a backup.) The main risk to the donor is the risk of any surgery. The kidney can now be removed laparoscopically, using tiny incisions and a fiber-optic camera to guide the surgeon, thus avoiding the huge abdominal slice and lengthy recovery time that used to be standard. Kidney donors don’t have to be close relatives of recipients, but they do need to have the right blood type. And kidneys from living donors tend to last many years longer than kidneys from deceased donors.

Since the current transplant system extols altruism, one way to end the list would be to find more altruists. With, say, 50,000 new living donors, deceased donation could easily pick up the slack. Again, the numbers aren’t that big. The Southern Baptist Convention includes 42,000 member churches; the United Methodist Church, whose Web site earlier this year featured the quote, “As United Methodists, we’re life savers,” counts more than 34,000 U.S. congregations. If each congregation produced just one new living donor, the waiting list would disappear. But kidney donation is a more visceral mission than mainstream religious groups want to contemplate. The only sect to adopt kidney donation as a formal cause is a tiny Australia-based group called Jesus Christians; instead of lauding them, critics point to their donations as evidence that they’re a cult.
I still refuse to officially join any church/denomination, but my home church is "wicked Methodist" (TM me), and in recent months I've noticed myself having "you are of my people" reactions to people mentioning having grown up United Methodist, so I was particularly kicked by the mention of the UMC.
no happy endings

[marriage] "Maybe it's more like Silly Putty and the plastic egg it comes in."

Dave Chen recently linked to the Salon article "It's hot! It's sexy! It's ... marriage!: Am I the only person who actually enjoys being hitched these days?" by Aaron Traister | Jul. 15, 2009.

It's a really good article.

Marriage (and long-term committed relationship) has been a topic of conversation recently in a couple of different arenas.

Probably my favorite line from the piece is: "Maybe we shouldn't treat the institution and its dirty little companion as some sort of precious Fabergé egg that is either shattered and worthless or pristine, untouchable and priceless."

One of the things I remember actually liking from Lauren Winner's book Real Sex was her pointing out that we have this idea that if you're not rapturously In Love with your partner All The Time then ur doin smthg wrong.

[update] catching up / getting back in the habit

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I woke up around 6 this morning and was confused as to why I hadn't turned my alarm on.  And then I remembered that it's Saturday.  I went back to sleep a few more times -- which is probably what I should have done on Tuesday.  I was still feeling kinda tired during much of the day, though -- I suspect part of that is that I didn't get optimal-quality sleep what with it being warm&humid.

I did some returns/exchanges at the Pru, went to Sears and actually obtained pants that don't suck (Lee jeans ftw, as usual).

I stopped at ArtBeat.  Failed to find CWM.  Did see FCS.  James put a lei with a purple heart on me.  I walked around and thought I saw all the booths (though as I said, I didn't see CWM anywhere).  I think I should do ArtBeat with a companion -- I wasn't feeling all that motivated to actually stop at most any of the booths... though part of that is also that there were lots of people and it was kind of hot out and I was already carrying stuff.  [P.S. Dad, I didn't get you anything from this booth, but...]

When I got home, Melissa commented on the fact that I was wearing a lei.  I explained that I'd gone to ArtBeat and at the table for the church I attend Wednesday evening service, someone had put on one me.  Thinking of Comstock*, I said, "So yeah, I got lei'd at church."
Melissa's friend N. said something like, "That's horrible."
Melissa: "No, that's beautiful."
*Comstock House in the quad at my alma mater had a Get Lei'd party every year.

Later, during a conversation about ADD, Melissa said to N: "Did you really just get distracted by a shiny object?"


I was reading the Amazon reviews of Harry Potter's Bookshelf: The Great Books behind the Hogwarts Adventures by John Granger and the first one I read mentions "Gothic stories whose influence actually puts Harry in a role usually given to heroines" and the second one mentions "the chapters on Gothic elements in Harry Potter (Snape as Heathcliff and Harry as gothic "hero/ine")"  So if Harry is a gothic heroine and Snape is Heathcliff...
you think you know...

[8 things] true facts about me

From a recent-ish Magpie Girl post:
All this joy and confusion has got me to wondering: “What are the core things I know about myself?” In the face of expectations from family and friends, what do I know to be true? Furthermore, what do their response to my presence tell me about myself? So here’s *8Things I Know for Sure About Moi.
My attempt:

1. I am a bright, brilliant, beloved Child of God (and I am beautiful to behold).

Okay, I feel less "for sure" about the "beautiful to behold" part, but I am certain that I am loved by God.

2. I have strong caring, protecting, nurturing urges towards those I love.

3. My attraction to people is not dependent upon the other's sex/gender.

It's funny, I ping that queer people are "my people," but I don't even think about my sexuality as a Thing (possibly because the people I have been mutually interested in have been male and thus heteronormatively acceptable -- and yes I know that elides the way in which each of those relationships is/would be socially unacceptable in a different way).

4. Stories are tremendously important to me.  I love tellings-and-retellings (vampire mythos, fairy tales, the Bible), and also I craft stories to make sense of my and others' personal history.

5. The Christian story is specifically important to me.


Feel free to suggest additional True True Facts about me.

Also, please feel free at any time to ask me to clarify anything I say in here.  [Feel free to email me (hermionesviolin@livejournal) or LJ-message me if you'd rather do that than leave a comment.]  I tend to assume that everyone has all the relevant context, which of course they don't always.  And anyone is welcome to comment on anything, I just ask that you be respectful.