beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
So in a Facebook group for young clergy people, there was a discussion about what to do for your Easter Vigil service if it's raining and you can't start the service with an outdoor fire. Suggestions were mostly practical, some better than others, ranging from "get a boyscout to figure something out" to "drag a hibachi grill inside the church narthex" to "put some rubbing alcohol in a stainless steel bowl and set that on fire (but don't forget to put a tile under it to absorb the heat)."

My favorite came from a friend from seminary: "This is a perfect time to get those Left Behind books out of the church library...."
beatrice_otter: Dali's Christ of St. John of the Cross (St. John of the Cross)
For those of you who don't know, The Shack is a best-selling book about Christian faith, and particularly how we deal with loss and grief, and lots of Christians love it and some Christians hate it and it just got made into a movie, and I wanted to know if I should take my youth group to see it.  Having never read the book, I asked my fellow pastors in an online forum.  Most said it was great, not perfect but with some really great things to discuss, and one was vehement that it was a horrible, destructive, and misleading theology and view of God.  So I asked him why he thought that, since everyone else thought it was great.  His key arguments:
  1. It uses feminine imagery for God, which contradicts Scripture.
  2. God is only loved in the book, never feared, and in Scripture he is always feared.
But, uh, dude,
  1. The Bible uses feminine imagery for God in several places, and particularly maternal--Jesus describes himself as "a mother hen" who wants to gather his chicks into his wings, in the Hebrew Scriptures God describes Godself as a nursing mother a couple of times ... yeah, God-as-woman is a small part of Scripture but it's woven throughout.  Denying the maternal and feminine aspects of God are the thing that truly contradicts Scripture.
  2. The greatest commandment as given by Jesus is to LOVE the Lord your God.  Not fear, LOVE.  And you know what?  He got that from the Hebrew Scriptures, he's quoting there.  So while the idea of fearing God is in Scripture, so is the idea of loving God.  Also, Biblical ideas of what it means to "fear" God are not what we talk about when we talk about fear.  It's a sort of awe-filled respect and awareness of vulnerability that we don't really get in English.
So his two major arguments against it are COMPLETELY bogus.  And wrong.  And, actually, make me more inclined to take the kids to see it, not less.  He notes other problems that (if he's right about them) are definitely issues, but ones that I think we would benefit from discussing, so again, a reason to take them to see it, not to avoid it.
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
Every Tuesday morning I meet with a group of pastors to study the Bible passages assigned for the upcoming Sunday.  And this Sunday's passage is about the healing of the woman who had been "crippled by a spirit" for 18 years and unable to stand upright.  And I mentioned that people with disabilities are, demographically, by far the least churched people in America, partly because of accessibility issues and partly because of texts like this--either they go "and why haven't I had my miracle cure yet?" or they get really uncomfortable with the priority on asking for miracles (and using them as inspiration porn) rather than accepting them into the community and accommodating their needs.

Possibly this was a bad idea, because it started people off talking about the very things I had just told them many people with disabilities find offensive.  As in, I had to break in at one point and say that I knew a lot of people with disabilities of various kinds, visible and invisible both, who would stand up and walk out if they heard a sermon preached like that.  And, granted, in my rural context, you are far less likely to encounter disabled people who have enough contact with the disability rights movement to have the vocabulary for why they don't like or resent certain things, and so they're much more likely to think "it's just me being weird, everyone else thinks it's great, I shouldn't make a big deal of it."  That doesn't mean they'll like it or appreciate it.

It was hard to tell what a couple of the pastors there thought, but one of them was all "but we have to make it relatable to the rest of the congregation who don't have a disability!" as an excuse, and another was all into the "everyone has a disability!" approach.

Without time to prepare ahead of time, I am not as articulate as I am when I can sit down and write things out.  It was very frustrating.

beatrice_otter: Hobbes says "God must have a funny sense of humor" (God's Humor)
"Interesting" things pastors get in the mail: offers to give my congregation free "voting guides" by someone who thinks that the national debt is the absolute most critical issue facing the nation (second only to the government "subsidizing" anything else he dislikes) and that anyone who disagrees is either a Calvinist or an "Islamist." And claiming that using his voting guide could result in a gift of $10,000 to my ministry.

This guy also wants me to show a DVD to my congregation about how "atheists, gaytheists, and lawless thugs have infiltrated the IRS for criminal harassment of churches." And assures me that anything I may have heard about churches losing IRS tax-exempt status for endorsing particular politicians is only "ridiculous misinformation" spread by "noisy atheist groups" to "gullible clerics."

It kinda has the feel of somebody taking a Nigerian scam email, diehard Tea Party frothing (not any of their actual serious discussion points, just the froth and slogans), and a Bible, throwing it all in a blender, and sprinkling cheerful glitter over the resulting incoherent mess. The smiley faces throughout add an ... interesting touch.

beatrice_otter: Grammar (Grammar)
Okay, I'm actually not writing all that much.  But it feels like I'm writing a lot.  For the last couple of years, I haven't had much urge to write stuff.  I'm still telling myself the same amount of stories at any given time, just not writing them down.  So my fic output has been mostly "oh, hey, I should write more and that sounds like a fun ficathon, so I guess I'll sign up."

In the last month I have:
  1. Started a new WIP (Remix of Going Native by [livejournal.com profile] rapfic )
  2. Started a new story which I hope will be medium length and finished relatively soon (Cyd Charisse as a Vulcan)
  3. Finished two WIPs (one not posted yet) ([community profile] treknovelfest vignette about Spock and Saavik hasn't been posted, but Teal'c and General Hammond on Ash Wednesday has)
  4. Opened up several other WIPs and got creative juices flowing again with them (Superman Returns future fic about Kara (Supergirl), the sequel to Unreal Things, a couple of others).
  5. Started what I thought would be a short story but will probably end up being a lot longer (Jim Kirk and Carol Marcus)
  6. Had wonderful inspiration today for one of the WIPs I hadn't opened up to start thinking about finishing. (Today I took a Prepare/Enrich class, which is a one-day seminar to help pastors use the Prepare/Enrich system of marital/premarital counseling.  And I had a lot of good ideas on what to do with a Star Wars AU WIP--Anakin doesn't turn, instead he and Padme settle down with the twins on a tiny backwater planet where they are both bored out of their skull and after a few months of living together Padme realizes their relationship has SO MANY PROBLEMS and drags Anakin to couples counseling.  Which, yeah, communication: NOT THEIR STRONG SUIT.  Which is kinda weird for a Jedi and a politician, if you think about it.)
And I ask myself, where did all this come from?  Why haven't I had this kind of inspiration and drive to write in the last several years?  It doesn't seem to be tied to mood or activity levels.

At this point, I don't really care whether or not I finish anything new.  I'm just excited to be writing.

beatrice_otter: Dali's Christ of St. John of the Cross (St. John of the Cross)
If you have any interest in the topic of Christianity and homosexuality, this is a very interesting and thoughtful lecture by Bishop Dave Brauer-Rieke of the Oregon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, making the case for inclusion and welcome and against literalism.  He does a very good even-handed explorations of the Biblical texts at stake and why the common usage of them as knee-jerk "homosexuality is bad!" proof-texts is, at best, problematic.  It's a 95-minute podcast with accompanying powerpoint, but it's well worth listening to.

Hope Homosexuality Hospitality

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