Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stuff I've Been Reading

Hi everybody (please imagine that in Doctor Nick's voice and response appropriately)! Enjoy my favorite links from around the internet this week.
  • David Hayward over at nakedpastor had two really phenomenal posts this week. Take a minute to enjoy separation and where is the love.
  • I'm trying very hard not to be political this year, but I did like this article at Slate about claims of attacks on Rick Santorum's faith. Loved this: "This is a dodge. And when you make a dodge of faith, you cheapen it - not the least because you make the plea seem like just another political move." I think this is good for all of us to remember, political or not. We need to be careful about how quickly we jump to yelling that we're being attacked.
  • Knox McCoy just keeps topping himself. Last week I pointed you to his new e-book. This week, I want to let you know about his brilliant new idea, the My Bad Project. This is a chance for people to apologize for the times that they've been jerks in the name of Christianity. Check it out and consider how you might contribute.
  • Jeff Goins wrote a very thought-provoking piece about online friendship this week. This is an area that interests me a lot, so it was good to read his take on it. 
  • Matthew Paul Turner wrote a beautiful prayer for Lent
  • My Twitter friend PastorEmJ shared a gorgeous piece about her first grey hair at Joy Bennett's blog this week. She made me cry (and wish that she blogged regularly).
  • I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. But I've got to say, this Awkward Family Photo is just...wow.
What have you read/written/watched/listened to this week that moved you? Leave a link in the comments!


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Friday, February 24, 2012

Guest post at LeighKramer.com


I know that everyone things that they have the best "how we met" story, but the truth is, Jason and I win. I absolutely love our story, so when Leigh Kramer asked me to participate in her This is How We Met blog series, I was all over it. (And by all over it, I mean, turned it in a week late - sorry Leigh!)

Here's a short excerpt from my piece:
For my entire life, I’ve hated the heat. I am absolutely miserable when I’m hot and most people don’t want to be around me. It’s certainly not when you’d want to meet me because I am not at my most charming when I’m sweaty and gross. 
It was a hot Friday afternoon in June of 1992.  I had just graduated from high school and was just days away from celebrating my 18th birthday, officially marking my journey to becoming an adult. 
Part of this move to adulthood was that I was putting off the angst of looking for a boyfriend. I had played that game with little success in high school, and wasn’t interested in continuing it into college. I was perfectly content entering college as a single woman and was looking forward to finding myself.
Head on over to Leigh's site to read the rest and to see a picture of us that was taken within minutes of us meeting for the first time.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

BlogHer Book Club Review: The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith

This month the BlogHer Book Club is reading The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith.

I love memoirs and this was by far one of the most unique books in that genre that I've read. Rather than telling her story in a linear fashion, Claire shares bits and pieces, broken up. Claire at 18. Claire at 22. Claire at 14. Each section gave us a better view of the pieces that we had seen before.

I also loved that because it was, in part, about losing parents, the disjointed story-telling actually helps set the mood. She deals honestly with depression, addiction, and grief. The dialog is all shared without quotes, so the story has almost a free verse form to it.

The pain of losing a parent, let alone both, is one that I have not had to experience. Because Claire lost her parents at such a young age, it affects all of her other relationships. I found the way that she described her interactions with others because of her loss to be powerful.

If you're looking for a unique and affecting memoir, I definitely recommend The Rules of Inheritance. And be sure to stop by BlogHer for an excerpt and for discussions inspired by the book.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith for the purpose of review and I was compensated for my review, however, my opinions are 100% my own.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What Are You Getting for Lent?

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Lenten season. I think there are generally two questions asked today.
  1. Do you need a Tylenol with your coffee this morning? 
  2. What are you giving up for Lent?
The first may only be applicable to the residents and visitors of New Orleans, but among church-going folks, the second is common.

'Lent Logo 2008' photo (c) 2008, jezobeljones - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Lent is often seen as a time of denying ourselves as a way to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made at the cross. We fast from pop or television or social media or sweets or coffee in order to share in the suffering of Christ.

The practice of the fast can be beneficial. When you want to reach for that thing that you're abstaining from, it's a good reminder to pray for those who have less than you or who are hurting during this season or whatever it is that you've chosen to pray about. And self-denial is a good practice anyway, especially in a culture that can be very me-focused. Remembering that it's not all about you is a good thing.

But while I do appreciate the fast, I think focusing on what we're giving up is the wrong way to go. Instead, I think we need to think about what it is that we hope to gain from our fasting.
  • patience?
  • empathy?
  • humility?
  • discipline?
  • peace?
Knowing what we're giving up for Lent is easy, but knowing what we're getting for Lent? That's going to actually help us change.

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What are you hoping to gain this Lenten season? 


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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dinosaur Disappointments

'Jurassic Park' photo (c) 2008, Dave Walker - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Growing up, my dad was my primary source for books that were worth reading. He introduced me to some of my very favorite books and authors. One in a long list was Michael Crichton. My dad and I were fans of Jurassic Park and when we heard that it was going to be made into a movie, we couldn't wait to see it. The release was on my dad's birthday, so I made plans to take him to see it to celebrate. Our expectations for this were through the roof on this.

But as we sat there, in the air conditioned theater, our fingers slick with butter from the popcorn, we couldn't help but feel disappointment. Sure, there were some great effects, the sound was amazing, and it's hard not to love Jeff Goldblum, but compared to the book, the movie just didn't measure up. The world that Crichton created was richer and more complicated than Steven Spielberg could ever hope to replicate.

Disappointment happens any time our experience doesn't match our expectations. Sometimes it's an acceptable disappointment, like when a movie doesn't deliver.

But sometimes it feels more profound; more dinosaur-sized. A friendship betrayed. A trust broken. A promise not kept.

These disappointments can weigh us down. We have to choose, time and again, whether to offer a second or third or two-hundred-forty-seventh chance.

More often than I'd like to admit, I find that my disappointment extends to God. Times when I feel like he isn't living up to the promises that he has made based on the actions of those who claim to follow him. In those times, I love these words from the Psalms that remind me that I'm not alone in my struggle, and that there is a greater promise that he has made to each of us:

Answer me quickly, Lord;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go.,
for to you I entrust my life.
(Psalm 143:7-8, NIV)

God's love is unfailing. If you've experienced disappointment with God, know today that his love is unfailing. And it is big enough to take down any other disappointments you might experience.

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Have you experienced disappointments in your faith? What encourages you? What movie has left you feeling the most disappointed?

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This is a part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival hosted by Peter Pollock. You can read more submissions and add your own here.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Looking for Guest Posts

'Guest Pass' photo (c) 2005, Paul Downey - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I've been guesting out a good bit (you can see a list of all of my guest posts here), but it's been a while since I've hosted any guest posts here. I feel bad about that, and would like to change it.

I'm always open to guest posts about unexpected relationships, faith, significance, but right now I'm specifically soliciting guest posts about cross-gender friendships. Do you have a close friend who isn't the same sex as you? Is your spouse in a cross-gender friendship? Have your thoughts about these friendships changed? What have you learned from your opposite-sex friendships?

If you have something to contribute to the conversation, shoot me a message. I'd like to run these pieces over the next two months, so please have a submission to me by next Friday (March 2). You can read my posting guidelines here. You can email your submissions to me here.

I look forward to hearing and sharing your stories!

And if you're interested in signing up for the Sacred Friendship Gathering, there is still space available. Stop by this page for registration information. And if you're going, be sure to let me know so we can hang out. It's just $50 and it's going to be a really great time!

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Stuff I've Been Reading

Hey all! Hope you've had a restful weekend. Here are a couple of links to get you through this last day.
  • Jamie Wright had an awesome piece just last night about being a Christian tourist. Oh my word, this is one that's going to stick with me a long, long time.
  • Sarah Moon wrote an absolutely gorgeous post about why women matter
  • On a related note, Dianna Anderson wrote an important piece about why feminism matters.
  • Shawn Smucker and his family set out on their four month bus tour of America. You simply must subscribe to Shawn's blog. He is such an amazing writer, and I'm sure the next four months are going to be something worth watching.
  • If you've wondered about transracial adoption (and even if you haven't), be sure to check out the series that David Nilsen wrote about that topic this week.
  • Friend of the blog Knox McCoy released a new e-book this week. If you've been considering writing your own manifesto, don't write another word before you download A Manifesto About Manifestos: A Manifesto, as it has all the tools that you need to write a successful manifesto. Manifesto!
  • Finally, I want to take a minute to thank you so much for your support of my post on Thursday. Thanks to the Christians who posted at Hemant's and to the atheists who posted here - stepping out of your comfort zone is never easy, and I love that you were willing to do that. Huge thanks to Hemant for generously offering me a voice on his blog. And to my regular readers, thank you for allowing me to write about things that aren't necessarily safe without fear. That is a gift to me that I don't take for granted.
What have you read/written/watched/listened to this week that moved you? Leave a link in the comment section!

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Guest Post at FriendlyAtheist.com

The story of Jessica Ahlquist is not a new one. A young atheist asked her public school to remove a prayer from the wall. They refused. The issue went to court, the young woman won (of course, because she is 100% correct in this case), and all hell broke loose. Florists refused to deliver flowers to her. She received death threats from her (largely Christian) community. She needed a police escort to school. State representative Peter G. Palumbo called her "an evil little thing."

I'm a firm believer in cleaning up the shit in one's own house, and my Christian friends? We've got a big steaming pile of it in our living room that we've all been stepping around. I spent a morning searching for Christian blogs that addressed this issue and came up empty.

We have failed. Miserably.

Today I'm posting over at Hemant Mehta's blog, Friendly Atheist, offering my apology to the atheist community and to Jessica for not speaking out about this sooner. I always appreciate your comments, but I would love it if you would show support for Jessica as well. She (and others) deserve to know that we don't support this kind of behavior.

If you also choose to speak up on your blog, please let me know here so I can read what you have to say!

Now, head on over to Hemant's and let's stop being silent.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Simple vs. Spectacle

On Sunday night, Jason and I watched the 54th Grammy Awards. I kind of have a crush on Adele, so I wanted to hear her come-back performance. And wow. She did not disappoint.

'Adele' photo (c) 2009, CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Honestly, when I said above that we watched the Grammys, that's not really true. They were on and I also had my laptop beside me so I could follow the awards on Twitter. It was entertaining to watch various reactions to the performances (and performers) during the program.

Tweets after Adele's powerhouse performance were all very complimentary. Statements about her voice, her hair, her dress - all pointed to people being impressed with her ability to come out and perform without any gimmicks, just her voice.

You can add me to the list of people who loved how simple her performance was. There is something wonderful about enjoying a performer bare their soul in such an honest and soulful way. It feels very intimate, and it allows us to connect with them in a more meaningful way.

'Lady GAGA, GMA Concert, Lady GAGA, GMA Concert, Lady GAGA GMA Concert,' photo (c) 2011, TJ  Sengel - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/However, I am also an unabashed fan of Lady Gaga and her performances. A really great spectacle can be a lot of fun. Meat dresses, floating in a glass cage above the stage, an entire cast of people singing and dancing behind you – I like this just as much as I do the simple performance.

Simple versus spectacle. This seems to be a regular disagreement that we encounter in the Church.

People who like things simple scoff at those who like the big performance. It’s too showy. It’s too “me” focused. It’s too phony. It only cares about comfort and not about any kind of actual change.

And it’s just as bad on the other side. Those who like the spectacle will shake their heads at the folks who want to scale things back. It’s not relevant. It’s not connecting with enough people. It’s not taking advantage of all of the different kinds of ways that artists express themselves.

From my perspective, there are legitimate complaints on both sides. It’s true that the bigger and more bombastic your performance, the less you are going to be able to connect with people one-on-one. And it’s true that the more simplistic you are, the less you will be able to take advantage of the artist who expresses themselves through light design or dance.

I'm perfectly fine with personal preferences. They are part of what make us unique individuals. But as part of the same body, it's important for us to look for the positive in what our brothers and sisters are doing and support that. We can have our disagreements about style, but we don't have to denigrate one in order to build up our favorites.

That's simply the kind of spectacle that no one likes.

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Do you fall more to the simple or spectacle side or somewhere in the middle? What is something positive you can say today about the "other side" of the simple/spectacle divide?

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Post at Provoketive.com

You may have seen the video of the dad who shoots his daughter's laptop to teach her a lesson. Today over at Provoketive, I'm talking about why I don't like it and why I think we need to examine our parenting in this digital age.

I'd love it if you'd head over and share your thoughts!

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My Funny Valentine

'Happy Valentine's Day ' photo (c) 2008, christina rutz - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
My husband and I are truly the least romantic people ever. When we woke up this morning, he rolled over and said, "Here's to yet another Valentine's day not celebrated with you."

I love that guy.

Regardless of how you feel about Valentine's day, I think we all like to laugh. So here are a couple of my favorite Valentine laughs.

So what's your favorite funny, silly, nerdy Valentine? Any personal stories that you need to share, this is a safe place. More or less.


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Monday, February 13, 2012

Interview with Dan Brennan

One of the best books that I read last year was Dan Brennan's book Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions. In it, he discusses the history of cross-gender friendships. I've been in touch with Dan and am really looking forward to meeting him in April at the Sacred Friendship Gathering.

Today I'm happy to be sharing an interview I did with Dan about his book, about the conference, and about overcoming cultural biases against male-female friendships.

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Alise Write: Why did you settle on “sacred” for your description of cross-gender friendships?


Dan Brennan: First, I wanted a description which connected with a reverence for God’s presence in the midst of the relational experience but also something beyond a specific tradition like evangelicals, Protestants, Catholics, or Orthodox. I wanted something which suggested there were God-honoring parameters for intimate friendships within marriage and community. Second, I wanted something that spoke of a deep sexual reverence and integrity within marriage and community.

My intention was to explore something that would be considered provocative, controversial, and out of the box. But love can be provocative and still be sacred. Jesus was definitely provocative. Sacred fit for not just the friendship angle but for the passion angle. In our hyperromantic culture, passion in romance is good or sacred. Passion in friendship is suspicious or inappropriate. I wanted to challenge that cultural bias.

AW: What kind of push-back from the evangelical community have you received because of your stance on cross-gender friendships? Where have you found encouragement?

DB: On the push-back question, these are some responses I've received. I’m na├»ve. I haven’t come to grips with the danger story and the slippery slope. I don’t understand the pastoral issues involved. I don’t have a clue how many pastors fall into sexual sin. Don’t use your freedom for your own personal agenda. Friendship is defined by the church/community. I have to be willing to die to my cross-gender friendships for the sake of the church/community.

Some of my greatest encouragement has come from people who have read my book and have felt like a whole new world of freedom has opened for them. Some have felt so isolated from their community or wrestling with shame for innocent but close friendships. I have so many stories now of people sharing with me their tears of joy and relief.

I must not fail to mention though, I’ve received such ongoing encouragement from those closest to me as well as my friends who see good in this. The deep blessing of Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions is the community of friends it has birthed.

AW: In the book you note that there is a difference between those in the evangelical tradition and those in the Catholic tradition when it comes to cross-gendered friendships. What can those of us in the evangelical community learn from our Catholic brothers and sisters?

DB: There is a rich stream of cross-gender friendship stories in Catholic tradition. Not all Catholics would embrace intimate friendships with the opposite sex beyond marriage. Many Catholic communities feared any closeness between men and women. Nevertheless, there are a number of sacred cross-gender friendships among Catholics throughout history.

Next, Catholics appeal to the Trinity as a Communion of Persons. That community is Love. And both men and women are created in the image of God who is this Partnership of Love. What this means for Catholics is that we, as men and women, single or married, find our deepest meaning, happiness, and fulfillment when we imitate a life of ongoing intimacy and communion (God’s image and our identity) with others including our cross-gender friends. We were made to be in communion with each other. This oneness for us includes marriage but also happens outside of it (singles) and beyond it (transmarital).

Third, I believe Pope John Paul II’s books on Love and Responsibility and Theology of the Body have much more depth cultivating an attraction for the sacred and the beautiful in male-female friendships than typical evangelical books on male-female relationships. In Love and Responsibility he puts forth his foundational principle: “A person must not merely be the means to an end for another person.”

In other words, we should never treat persons as instruments for achieving our own agendas. This has immense implications for cross-gender friendships. This is foundational for a life-giving, holiness and reverence between the sexes in marriage and friendship.

AW: How have your female friendships shaped your view of your relationship with Christ?

DB: I’ve experienced the deep beauty of Christ in my female friends. I’ve discovered a profound beauty in Christ through my female friends. My language has changed in the sense that the reality of beauty has become part of my daily vocabulary I use to describe other things. I attribute that to seeing the beauty of Christ through my friends.

To elaborate on the beauty of Christ, I was shaped by Eastern Orthodox David Bentley Hart’s explication of beauty. To see the world (and your opposite sex friends) as beautiful from God is a “moral education of desire, the redemption of vision” as he puts it. Christ’s beauty comes through my friendships.

I’ve also come to see Christ’s heart for deep freedom and justice for women. As my friendships with women deepened, I read and reread the Gospel stories where Jesus engaged women, talked with women, touched women, and revealed himself to them. Jesus interacted with women in a way that was utterly different from the sexism in his culture.

AW:  How do you think that sexism in the Church plays into cross-gender friendships?

DB: In Christian tradition the telos of any healthy, life-giving friendship is not sacrifice, but mutuality, equal-regard, oneness, and unrestricted flourishing. If you were a male that is. Only on rare occasions have women had that opportunity. For men what has distinguished friendship from marriage was a voluntary choice to enter into a relationship freely with a telos of unrestricted flourishing and equal regard.

Sexism in the Church undermines cross-gender friendship when there is no freedom for unrestricted mutuality, unrestricted flourishing, equal-regard in love and oneness in marriage, friendship, or community. It is friendship with a telos that offers a deep relational and communal path out of centuries of institutional and social sexism in marriage, community, and leadership.

Sexism happens (from either gender) when we are unable to seek the full good and beautiful of the other’s particularity because of conventions and rules of the old order. Love compels us to move beyond sexism to embrace a deep ethic of responsibility to openness, beauty, and mutuality.

Women perpetuate sexism when they see men with nothing but sexual intentions beneath the surface. When they are unable to enter into a deep communion of mutuality and trust with men (husbands or friends) they were created for and use them for their own purposes.

Men perpetuate sexism when they seek to dominate women, fear them as sexual temptations, or avoid intimacy with them because of their own immaturity. In the current evangelical sub-culture men are taught to win women by intense romantic intimacy or avoid intimacy with them altogether. At the heart of sexism is seeing the other as a sexual object and not able to see them as a whole person with gifts, freedom, and dignity. Certain romantic scripts perpetuate sexism in our churches.

AW: How would you encourage people to move beyond the danger myth with regard to cross-gender friendships?


DB: If we are followers of Christ my first response would be to read afresh the Gospel stories of Jesus as he encountered and engaged women. By no means am I advocating a simplistic WWJD approach. But as followers of Jesus, both men and women, we are to be imitators of Christ. This is what sets us apart from all others. He never used others as a means for an instrumental end. This is why he called disciples his friends and why he was a friend of sinners.

Second, I would encourage men and women to cultivate an attraction for the good and beautiful in members of the opposite sex. We are nuturing an ethical responsibility by beginning to nurture an attraction for the good and the beautiful toward our spouses, toward our cross-gender friends in the appropriate context. God has poured out a distinctive and utterly unique beauty into those particular people we meet who are members of the opposite sex. You may have to start slow and be patient. You may have to practice. But begin cultivating an attraction for the good and beautiful in your opposite sex neighbor.

AW: Tell us a little bit about the Sacred Friendship Gathering. Who is this for? What are some of the topics that will be discussed?

DB: This is for everyone who wants to nurture goodness and beauty in cross-gender friendships in their marriages, churches and community. God’s goodness can be tasted and his beauty can be experienced in cross-gender friendship. We don’t have to compromise a deep sexual integrity within our marriage or cross-gender friendship. If you are interested in sexual integrity within marriage but wishing to extend it beyond marriage into friendship and community, this gathering is for you!

We’re going to have some seasoned perspectives from those who practiced cross-gender friendships. They’re going to share some powerful stories from their own experience. We are going to talk about healing, intimacy, leadership, and wholeness. We are also going to have some time for Q & A and to hear other stories too.

Seating is limited by design. We want this to be something special and significant for all who come. Don’t wait until the last minute to register. We want to reach out to all who are deeply interested in this and want to gather together for this ground-breaking event.

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Thanks, Dan, for sharing with us today! Register for the Sacred Friendship Gathering here. You can follow Dan on Facebook or on Twitter or check out his blog. And be sure to pick up a copy of Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions for much more about this topic.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Stuff I've Been Reading

Winter finally came to us this weekend. I know that Phil told us it was headed our way, but still.

Anyway, I've got some hot links (hott linxx?) for you to check out today. I hope you find something that will spark some interesting conversation.
  • This post by Lauren Dubinsky was one of my very favorites of the week. I've read a lot of posts on the "love the sinner, hate the sin" problem, but this one addresses it in a truly beautiful way.
  • Elizabeth Esther lives in California and voted for Proposition 8 in 2008. She has written before about her change of heart, but I particularly liked her post this week following the most recent court decision.(By the by, congrats on the agent Elizabeth! YAY!)
  • I love Adele and her stunning voice. And I also loved this article about the scientific reason why Adele's song "Someone Like You" makes you cry.
  • Shawn Smucker did it again this week by writing a brilliant piece about how we are frequently immature in our thankfulness
  • In the continuing discussion about what it means to be "feminine" or "masculine," Ed Cyzewski brings a bit of sarcasm to the table. But you should not assume that table is in the kitchen.
  • If you're still looking for a gift for that special someone for Valentine's Day, be sure to check out these gems over at Cake Wrecks. Something to melt their heart, for sure.
What have you read/written/watched/listened to this week that moved you? Link it up below!

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Tell Me About You #5

'Refrigerator magnets' photo (c) 2006, Windell Oskay - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Things have been feeling a little bit heavy around here lately, so it's time for some fun. Which really means that it's time for another post that's all about you. These are always some of my favorites, so let's get to it!
  1. How many keys are on your key ring? How many do you actually use?
  2. What hangs on your refrigerator? What dark secrets does that reveal about you (or obvious truths, either one)?
  3. The Walking Dead finally returns on Sunday night. When the zombie apocalypse happens in real life, what kind of weapon will you be using?
I'll see you down in the comment section!

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Writing Opportunities at Civitas Press

As you may know, last October I published a book of essays about depression with Civitas Press called Not Alone. I also had a piece in the first Civitas community project, The Practice of Love. I'm thankful, both as a reader and a writer, for the good work that is going on over at Civitas.

I wanted to let you know about a few other projects that they have in the pipe right now.

My friend Tamara Lunardo is still accepting submissions for her book, What a Woman is Worth. This book is a collection of stories about the value of women in the Church and in society. Tamara is specifically looking for submissions from women of color (edit: Tamara said that she's really looking for women outside of the white, straight, middle-class American Christian upbringing). Based on the blog carnival that she hosted, I have no doubt that this is going to be a powerful book and I can't wait to read these stories.

Jeremy Myers, who contributed a story to Not Alone, is compiling a book of stories about involvement in the church called Finding Church. He is looking for submissions in four categories: 1) Leaving Church, 2) Returning to Church, 3) Reforming Church, and 4) Changing Church. I absolutely love this idea and I'm excited to see how these stories work together to give different perspectives about the Church. The submission deadline for this is April 30.

And finally, I am still accepting submissions for my project with Civitas, Not Afraid. In this, I'm looking for stories about overcoming fear and finding a sense of significance in the process. I've extended the submission date to March 16th. Most of us have had to face fear at some point and when we do, we overcome through love - loving ourselves, loving the other person, loving God. If you have a story about beating fear, please consider sharing it.

Getting to see your name in a publication can be an exciting thing and I'm thankful for the community projects at Civitas that give folks a chance to get a foot into the publishing world. I know that a lot of you are writers as well, so I encourage you to check out these opportunities!

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Quotes from Judge Reinhardt's Majority Opinion on Prop 8

'Rainbow Flag' photo (c) 2008, Kevin Wong - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

"We do not celebrate when two people merge their bank accounts; we celebrate when a couple marries.~page 39

"The court found, among other things, that (1) marriage benefits society by organizing individuals into cohesive family units, developing a realm of liberty for intimacy and free decision making, creating stable households, legitimating children, assigning individuals to care for one another, and facilitating property ownership; (2) marriage benefits spouses and their children physically, psychologically, and economically, whether the spouses are of the same or opposite sexes; (3) domestic partnerships lack the social meaning associated with marriage; (4) permitting same-sex couple to marry would not affect the number or stability of opposite-sex marriages; (5) the children of same-sex couples benefit when their parents marry, and they fare just as well as children raised by opposite-sex parents; (6) Proposition 8 stigmatizes same-sex couples as having relationships inferior to those of opposite-sex couples; (7) Proposition 8 eliminated same-sex couples' right to marry but did not affect any other substantive right they enjoyed; and (8) the campaign in favor of Proposition 8 relied upon stereotypes and unfounded fears about gays and lesbians." ~page 18


"A law that has no practical effect except to strip one group of the right to use a state-authorized and socially meaningful designation is all the more 'unprecedented' and 'unusual' than a law that imposes broader changes, and raises an even stronger 'inference that the disadvantage imposed is born of animosity toward the class of persons affected.'" ~page 46


"A preference for the way things were before same-sex couples were allowed to marry, without any identifiable good that a return to the past would produce, amounts to an impermissible preference against same-sex couples themselves, as well as their families." ~pages 71-72


'Protest against a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage' photo (c) 2011, Fibonacci Blue - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/


"By emphasizing Proposition 8's limited effect, we do not mean to minimize the harm that this change in the law caused to same-sex couples and their families. To the contrary, we emphasize the extraordinary significance of the official designation of 'marriage.' That designation is important because 'marriage' is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults. A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but to the couple desiring to enter into a committed lifelong relationship, a marriage by the name of 'registered domestic partnership' does not." ~page 37


"In order to explain how rescinding access to the designation of 'marriage' is rationally related to the State's interest in responsible procreation, Proponents would have had to argue that opposite-sex couples were more likely to procreate accidentally or irresponsibly when same-sex couples were allowed access to the designation of 'marriage.' We are aware of no basis on which this argument would be even conceivably plausible. There is not rational reason to think that taking away the designation of 'marriage' from same-sex couples would advance the goal of encouraging California's opposite-sex couples to procreate more responsibly." ~page 60

"All that Proposition 8 accomplished was to take away from same-sex couples the right to be granted marriage licenses and thus legally to use the designation of 'marriage,' which symbolizes state legitimization and societal recognition of their committed relationship. Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for 'laws of this sort.'" ~page 5

'Love One Another' photo (c) 2008, Eric Norris - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

You can read the full majority opinion here.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

You Romance Me

'Romantic Heart form Love Seeds' photo (c) 2011, epSos .de - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

You know how to romance.

Sure, there are the easy things,
like flowers picked up at the grocery store
when I ask you to stop and get the eggs that I forgot to buy.
Or the gold earrings you chose for me that I wear almost every day.

You say the obligatory
I love you's
and
You're beautiful's
that make me smile and blush, even after 15 years.

You know how to romance according to the books.
You compliment, you serve, you defer.
You follow the rules of romance.

But you color outside of those heart-shaped boxes.

You shower me with laptop batteries
and ninja t-shirts
and Terminator DVDs.

You whisper sweet nothings like
That's terrific bass
and
Hey baby. I'm, like, pretty tall
that make me laugh and love you more deeply than I could imagine.

You know things that the books could never tell you,
not in a million years,
about how to make me weak in the knees.
So you've added pages.

You know how to romance me.

++++++++

Do you have any "unique" expressions of romance with your spouse? If you're not married, do you and your friends have any special things that might not look fun to anyone but you?

++++++++

This is a part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival hosted by Peter Pollock. You can read more submissions and add your own here.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

John Piper's Consistency

'Left out' photo (c) 2008, Kevin Dooley - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Last week, John Piper gave a talk at a pastor's conference where he said that God gave Christianity a masculine feel. Needless to say, a number of people, women and men alike, took issue with these statements. The blogosphere was alight with posts about why his statements are wrong, how they hurt women, and how they give an incomplete view of God.

I absolutely support these posts. When a portion of the Body of Christ is marginalized, it's important to stand up and say, "No, you shouldn't do that." I am thankful that more and more people are standing up for women in the world and especially in the Church. Each time I hear a prominent male leader say, "Women can't do this," I'm hearing more and more voices responding, "Yes, they most certainly can."

I wish I was surprised by John Piper's comments, but ultimately, I'm not. This is the same man who, two and a half years ago, said that a tornado that went through Minneapolis was a sign from God that the ELCA was in trouble for approving sin by allowing the ordination of gay and lesbian ministers.

That comment had significantly less push-back.

John Piper believes that his stance on both of these issues is biblical. He can easily point to verses that support his views both about the roles of women and about homosexuality. I am certain that he would say that he hates neither women nor the LGBT community and that his statements are strictly about maintaining the integrity of the Bible.

The thing is, if we allow one part of the Body to be marginalized and dehumanized, we open the door for others to experience the same thing. 

When we don't stand up for gays and lesbians in our churches, we are saying that they don't matter.

When we encourage our congregations to vote against rights for gay and lesbian couples or workers or students, we are saying that they aren't worth as much as straight people.

When we make jokes at the expense of gay people, we create a circle and put them clearly on the outside.

It can be easier to get riled up when we see an injustice being done to half of the Church. It's much harder when we don't even know if our congregation even has any gay people. (Hint? It definitely does.) Why stick our necks out for a group that is so small? Why risk the backlash of standing up for a group that has largely abandoned the Church?

John Piper has been consistent with his statements that are exclusive. My challenge today is to make sure that I am equally consistent in my statements to be inclusive.

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Stuff I've Been Reading

Thanks for stopping by today for another list of good reads here and the blog. I love sharing the writing of others with you every Sunday. I hope there's something here that you find enjoyable as well!
  • There were a lot of replies to John Piper's piece about the "masculine feel" of Christianity. But I think my favorite was Landon Whitsitt's about being a mama's boy. This one left me undone.
  • I loved this article at Slate about artist Lilly McElroy who literally throws herself at men. Don't miss the horribly awkward video at the end of the article.
  • The lovely and talented Jennifer Luitwieler posted a fantastic piece about container words - words that we use to classify other people. Her husband leaves a great comment as well, so be sure to check that out.
  • Rachel Held Evans's post about the slippery slope was just amazing. She puts into words what I (and many others) have experienced in a truly beautiful way.
  • Kristen Tennant wrote a great post about sex in advertising last week. I missed it in last week's round-up, but it's worth reading.
  • I absolutely loved this take on James 2:17 that Michael Perkins wrote this week. Ouch.
  • With today being the Super Bowl, be sure to watch this video with Tripp and Tyler to get some quick etiquette tips for your super bowl party.
  • I also want to let you know that I've extended the submission date for Not Afraid until March 16. If you were considering contributing but ran out of time, you've got six more weeks to get it done. I'd love to hear your stories about overcoming fear. Check out this site for the project document and details about what I'm looking for and please spread the word in your community as well!
What have you read/written/watched/listened to this week that moved you? Drop me a link in the comment section!

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saturday Evening Blog Post: January 2012 edition


Elizabeth Esther is once again hosting her link up of your favorite post from January.

While my Tim Tebow post was definitely my most popular of the month, my favorite bit of writing in January was my poem Empty. If you missed it before, I'd love for you to check it out.

Now head on over to Elizabeth's place and link up your writing from last month! And feel free to leave a link here as well, so I don't miss it at Elizabeth's. Have fun!

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Friday, February 3, 2012

We're All Stories

'Tardis' photo (c) 2008, AntToeKnee Lacey - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Both Netflix and my daughter have been trying to get me to watch Doctor Who for quite some time now, but despite my geeky ways, I spent a long time resisting the recommendation. But a few weeks ago I finally gave in and started watching the show. And of course, they were all right. I have absolutely loved it.

As we were wrapping up our viewing of the fifth series, one quote grabbed me. The story-line is convoluted, but basically The Doctor is speaking to his future companion while she sleeps as a little girl. He's telling her the story of their travels through time and space. He's about to step through a crack in time that will mean that he never existed, that he will just be a figment of her imagination, a story that she made up.

And then he said the line that made me run back the recording.

We're all stories, in the end.

The only way for him to exist again was for Amy to remember the stories and realize that they weren't her imagination, but that they actually happened.

The stories are what made him alive.

I love this. 

When I think about those closest to me, it would be easy to classify them and move on. But what has enriched my relationships with them has been discovering their stories. Taking the time to sit with them and hear about their childhood. To listen to what their upbringing was like. To discover not just what they think, but why they think it. Spending time together, learning about their opinions, their convictions, their hurts, their dreams, their joys, their disappointments, their lives. Their stories have made them more real to me and have deepened our friendships in countless ways. 

Much of the time we attach labels to one another, sometimes as time savers, but often as ways to simply dismiss people. Oh, he's a conservative. Oh, she's a feminist. Oh, they're Christians. Whatever group that we can use to categorize and cast off.

But we're so much more than that. We're the stories that brought us to this viewpoint. We're the experiences that shaped our thoughts. We're nuanced, intricate, winding tales.

You're more than a label or a classification or a brand. You're a story.

We're ALL stories, in the end.

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Have you taken the time to find out the story behind the label of someone else? How has that changed them in your mind? And what's your favorite Doctor Who quote?

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Guest Post at SeePrestonBlog.com

Every now and again as a writer, you have the opportunity to be a part of something that is just beautiful and today is one of those days for me.


Preston Yancey has organized an amazing thing at his blog. Fifty-four writers spending a month talking about the Church. But not griping - we're writing about what we like about the Church. It can be easy to write about the parts of the Church that annoy me, but it is a joy to write about the things that I like about the Church, especially my home congregation. Here's a bit from my piece:
As a self-identifying emergent-type Christian, one would likely expect that I attend a small, hippie church somewhere. Maybe an Episcopal congregation, or even a house church. On Sunday mornings, I probably wear jeans and big wool scarf and a stocking hat that I knitted while I was sitting around, talking about Rob Bell’s newest book, drinking something dark out of my French Press. 
But that’s not my church. My church isn’t small or quiet or understated. My church is big and loud and fairly over-the-top. Because I go to a megachurch.
I'd love it if you'd head over to Preston's to read the rest of my piece. And please, be sure to check out the other posts in the series. There is a lot of goodness going on over there. You can follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #ATLT.

Thanks for sitting at the Lord's Table with me today.

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