Monday, November 28, 2005

thanks

i am thankful for fresh bedsheets and puppy snuggles.
for long times alone on the mountain in tennessee where the sky was peeled back like an orange and bright stars seemed a reachable distance. i am thankful for my journals, pages once blank stained and splashed with thoughts and records of thoughts that zap me back to that place and time, that feeling. i am thankful for late nights with niki and making movies with ryan. i am thankful for red and flowered sheets sleeping in allie's bed even though mine was a few feet away. lord of the rings and harry potter singing me to sleep. for our friendship. i am thankful for tearful moments. for moments where i feel alone in the world for Him to see...and the distance between us bows and I feel his eye on me. for moments when he seems so real and so close that i can see nothing else for his hugeness. I am thankful for long laughs with jason, and all our good memories. for his moments of softness and the hints of something we once had. for tenderness. I am thankful for tenelle, for how my guises drop when I'm around her. for chai tea and peanut butter graham crackers and references to jokes 3 years old. for 1217. i am thankful for my mom's unpretending. she is never false. she is never repetitive, she is never surfacey. she is honest. she has taught me about honesty. i am thankful for big diet cokes with lots of ice and how music becomes so different when it is played so loud that it drowns everything else out but that lump in your throat. i am thankful for sunburns and summer, for new clothes and family. for dancing, square and otherwise. for the cha cha slide and hardwood floors that we slid over on pillows. for allison and the image of alf tied up to a bedpost that is forever burned on my mind. i am thankful for losing all my friends in one year, and rebuilding up from there. i am thankful for the moment with rob and the deer. for other small and huge romantic moments with people who are now strangers, but still dear to me in that moment: for old friendships that are now far away but still special. for new friendships and a new jason and amber. i am thankful for a job, even one that is not very ego-stroking. I am thankful for the lake, the sting of sun and the taste of lakewater hair whipping about in the wind as we fly over waves a thousand years old. bouncing of tubes and each other and breathing a little deeper and a little slower and taking it all in.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

w strikes a pose


mr. w maxin and relaxin in high style.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

fred's thoughts: a long quote to follow a long blog



i reread this tonight, because it seemed apropos in light of my last entry. i pieced together some highlights of the chapter....it's frederick buechner's thoughts on the matter of god's existence.

"If God really exists, why in Heaven's name does God not prove that he exists instead of leaving us here in our terrible uncertainty? Why does he not show his face so that at last, a despairing world can have hope? At one time or another, everyone asks such a question. In some objectifiably verifiable and convincing way, we want God himself to demonstrate his own existence. Deep in our hearts, I suspect that this is what all of us want, unbelievers no less than believers. And I have wondered sometimes what would happen if God were to do just that...

...We all want to be certain, we all want proof, but the kind of proof that we tend to want---scientifically or philosophically demonstrable proof that would silence all doubts once and for all----would not in the long run, I think, answer the fearful depths of our need at all. For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-by-day lives who may not be writing messages about himself in the stars but who in one way or another is trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around down here knee-deep in the fragrant muck and misery and marvel of the world. It is not objective proof of God's existence that we want but, whether we use religious language for it or not, the experience of God's presence. That is the miracle that we are really after. And that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get...

...God speaks to us, I would say, much more often than we realize or than we choose to realize...His message is not written out in starlight, which in the long run would make no difference; rather it is written out for each of us in the humdrum, helter-skelter events of each day; it is a message that in the long run might make all the difference...

...But I believe that there are some things that by and large, God is always saying to each of us. Each of us, for instance, carries around inside himself, I believe, a certain emptiness--a sense that something is missing, a restlessness, the deep feeling that somehow all is not right inside his skin. Psychologists sometimes call it anxiety, theologians sometimes call it estrangement, but whatever you call it, I doubt that there are many who do not recognize the experience itself, especially no one of our age, which has been variously termed the age of anxiety, the lost generation, the beat generation, the lonely crowd. Part of the inner world of everyone is this sense of emptiness, unease, incompleteness, and I believe that this in itself is a word from God, that this is the sound that God's voice makes in a world that has explained him away. In such a world, I suspect that maybe God speaks to us most clearly in his silence, his absence, so that we know him best through our missing him.

...These words that God speaks into our own lives are the real miracles. They are not miracles that create faith as we might think that a message in the stars would create faith, but they are miracles that it takes faith to see--faith in the sense of openness, faith in the sense of willingness to wait, to watch, to listen, for the incredible presence of God here in the world among us."

excerpts from the magnificent defeat, "message in the stars" by frederick buechner

the god movie


well, i didn't think i would start off the blog bat on such an emotional topic; but i needed to process all this.
i also do not have the attention span, generally, to read other people's lonnnnng bloggings, so will also not be offended if no one chooses to commit to the 27 hours it will take to read this in its entirety. i tried being concise. it didn't work for this topic.

my friend ryan, who is doing a documentary on the baptist pastor fred phelps, asked me to accompany him to this screening of a movie called "the god who wasn't there" by director Brian Flemming, who calls himself a "former fundamentalist." if you can't tell from the title, the movie is a documentary that mocks religion--- christianity, specifically, and stands on the fact that many christians don't know much about what they believe, why they believe it, or the history their beliefs stem from.

the interest in this movie overwhelmed the tivoli, and when the original 1-time-showing sold out the day before, they had to add a second showing (which filled up in no time) because of the high volume of people itching to see this movie. lines upon lines...young and old, waiting to see this movie and ryan and i right in the middle of them.

we got there a good 45 minutes early, and had lots of time to people-watch. it was such an odd experience, i was watching everyone mulling around...wondering why they had come...what they hoped to hear or confirm...wondering what their story was...and who God was to them.

the movie consisted of a brief 6-minute slapstick rendition of the life and death of jesus, right down to jesus' flogging (which was represented by a 2 second shot of a man boinking jesus on the forehead with what looked like a little piece of wheat).

then it went on to interview 4 very intelligent, charming, and likable athiests and 2 bumbling, audacious, and inarticulate christians...(one of whom, to give you an idea, has started a website called "rapture letters" that offers a post-rapture service to anyone who would like an EMAIL (of all things!) to be sent to their non-believing loved ones after they themselves have gone on to heaven. because, as we all must assume, there is no email in heaven. when the loved one recieved the email it would remind them to repent and come to heaven, too.) i know.

but, as ryan said, that is the documentarian's right. the director chose to convey HIS belief through clear, compelling speakers and chose to undermine the beliefs he refutes with end-times entrepreneurs, cyclical reasoning and question-dodgers.

after the movie, there was a short Q&A with the director. (the first showing was followed by a panel of theologians & scholars discussing and taking questions. but we just got the director). i was expecting a range of emotions from the people who stood up to ask questions, but was surprised when the overwhelming majority said: thank you for making this film.

one man was especially memorable. he was old, gray hair and shabby pants. he was sitting right in front of me. he stood up and said, "I want to thank you for making this film. I am a son of a missionary, was raised baptist, and it took me 60 years to break free." More gratitude, more gushing.

another man made a very similar comment: "It's taken me 70 years, but I can finally say: I do not believe in God." This greeted with applause that pierced my heart and shook my insides.

i felt alone in that auditorium...close to tears and aching. ryan made the point that it was like being on the outside of an inside joke...which I imagine is how many non-christians have felt their whole lives- in a circle of believers using "churchy" terminology or when they visit a church, feeling like they don't belong, that they don't get the joke, or worse: that they are the joke.

we were the joke tonight.

i am trying to be concise, here, but i can't really describe how it felt to leave there. i felt attacked, and in every sentence i began to form afterward with ryan as we tried to pick apart his message, i heard the voice of the simple-minded christian bumblers in his film, using emotion to try and combat "reason." it made them look foolish. which is exactly how the director wanted me to feel. questioning myself, and my reasoning.

it was like hearing your closest friend be cruelly made fun of behind their back and you are too ashamed to say anything. all the darkened faces tossed back in laughter as they watch a mockery made of christ's death. the defining moment of your heart's life simplified to absurdity, to fluff, to jibberish. not just meaningless, but humorously so.

still: here's what i am taking away:
(now that i have processed for a week)

i think he is right to point out that a large percentage of christians don't know much about the God they believe in. they don't know his history, and many don't even know much about his character, though they may profess to doing his work. (i.e. fred phelps) He drove this point home in the movie by taking a random poll of people coming out of a Billy Graham conference. He asked everyone who Jesus was to them, and then asked them a question about the history of the church and the spread of Christianity. People smiled and could name who God was to them, but tripped up on the second question, tossing in vague answers before they hustled by the camera to their safe cars.

so this challenged me to know more, to be immersed in all parts of the story and not just my own. to be active and authentic, we should be exploring the bible and history and other perspectives so that we do not come to think that OUR bubble is how life is and always has been. We need to understand ourselves as we relate to history: to biblical times: to other cultures, countries, belief systems. We need to not have blinders on. we should be knowledgable about the facts. but not depend on them to prove our case.

because evidential facts are not what make me want to believe in God. my heart is what makes me believe in God.

the heart. the yearning. which is abstract, and unprovable. how do you prove it when something significant has taken place in your heart? how do you prove you love someone?

doesn't it say something that a desire to believe in God is so deeply ingrained in us? so ingrained that the men that stood up celebrating their atheism said it was a 70-year long battle of resistance. to finally speak those words and to give up hope.

so that's what it boils down to. hoping. or ceasing to hope.
no one can prove their case one way or another. so we the hopeful must be more inclusive, and less afraid. we must be more vocal, and less sure. we must be willing to hear in order to be heard. and we must continue to hope. not just for ourselves, or for God, but for everyone's sake that they would experience the joy and peace of knowing him.

for hope does not disappoint us.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

happy birthday ashley!


this evening, i pay tribute to one of my dearest, longest friends (since 2nd grade ms. lebbin/brown's class), miss ashley maren post. the birthday girl is pictured here with the love of her life (besides cy), the Itialian waiter we met on our study abroad trip, Anas, who loved her instantly. and who can blame him?

happy birthday, wonderful friend!
i miss you here in kansas: see u at thanksgiving!

Monday, November 07, 2005

we take the cake



i felt it pertinent to share (before Halloween gets too far in the past) about a recent victory that my friend tobe and I enjoyed at work. there was a cupcake decorating competition at Hallmark. and tobe and i put our best effort forth, staying up to an unreasonable hour the night before carefully crafting about 16 (semi-ugly and uglier as the night went on) Halloween cupcakes. at about 130 we threw in the towel, convinced that victory was not in reach.

but...as fate would have it, we WON-yes you heard me, 1st place-which included a gift certificate for 6 dollars to the Hallmark cafeteria. woo hoo! pictured left is the lucky devil that we have to thank for it all.

wilbur the wonderdog




i am pleased to introduce you to my wonderful dog, wilbur. if he were to post a blog and pen his profile, he would tell you that he is 8 months old, and loves the ladies. also enjoys apples and tomatoes, digging in sand, and chewing on my hands WAY before it's time to wake up. other interests include hairbrushes, allie's dog paylee jane, piano music, the occasional humping spree, and car rides. and long walks on the beach. (or sidewalk)

he makes me happy. : )
hope he makes you happy too

the first blog is the deepest

hello, bloggers everywhere. i have succumbed to the pressure from one alexandra andrews and have decided to post a blog. she is probably the only one who will read it. not sure i will have anything of interest to say, but at least it's another place to hang my wilbur pictures. i also enjoy the word in all its forms: (blog, blogger, blogging, bloggeriffic)...stay tuned for more variations.