Singing happily along

Today I decided to hang out with a couple of my friends, seniors Esther and Josh, and go to Reba Place, because it sounded interesting in the email they sent out about it. But by this morning I had forgotten the details of the email (such as that it’s a Christian, largely Mennonite community in Evanston). So when we got there, I didn’t really know what to expect.
First, we did church. The service was globally focused, as in they were very aware that their congregation was just part of the world-wide body of Christ. The people were diverse and they didn’t were bonnets or aprons or black suspenders. We shared in communion with them. I shied away from the common-goblet and opted for a dixie-cup.
Afterwards there was a potluck. Mennonites cook good food. We talked about England, studies, and migration of ethnic groups throughout Chicago.

Then we went to the house where Tatiana and Chico live along with seven other young adults. We rode bikes (which they had taken off the streets and fixed up) to their garden plot which they rent from the city. We talked about our economical choices and how they affect the environment and those working in third-world countries. They shared with us some delicious cookies.
We all know that the food we eat comes from places all around the globe. What we buy at the grocery store has been shipped, using expensive resources, for thousands of miles. And it’s often still cheaper than the stuff grown locally. Which means that the laborers who raise our tomatoes so we can eat them fresh (although fakely ripened) in the dead of winter are getting paid next to nothing.

Unlike the rest of us, Tatiana and Chico allowed this information to affect there daily choices. They and their housemates eat organic, fair-trade, and locally grown food. And their grocery bills have actually decreased because they are making use of plant proteins and shopping wisely. Because meat is an inefficient use of land and energy resources, they don’t buy it.
They told us what they struggle with about communal living and what they’ve learned from their struggles. They showed us that consciously striving for holy living means being different, radical, set-apart. It’s in the definition.

What a beautiful day to sit at a picnic table in a flourishing garden, talking about things that matter with people who aren’t just talking. It makes me want to sing.

Sadly listening to Joy

Too many people go home on weekends, creating an anti-climax for those of us who don’t. Wandering around campus, I found several small pockets of activity: a group watching a movie, a group playing cards, and another group watching a movie. Today I don’t feel like doing much, so I shouldn’t complain about there not being much to do.

It’s not like I didn’t do anything. I finished my homework (for Monday). I batiked in the laundry room (we’ll see if it worked later). I observed some soccer being played. I ate ravioli that tasted like cigarette butts (I was wondering what that pseudo-familiar, disgusting taste was when Elvis told me that they tasted like cigarette butts, and I took another bite and said, “You’re right.” The cafeteria ladies don’t put as much love in their entrees on weekends.). I went for a walk with someone who can’t tell the difference between an oak and a maple (talk about diversity!), but she reminded me that I don’t know what an almond tree looks like. I cleared some papers off my desk.

So now I am just sitting here, listening to George Winston play “Joy,” his rendering of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” It’s funny how if I was in a more cheerful mood, I would find his arrangement particularly pleasant and peppy. But tonight, it sounds like a sympathizing lullaby.

Whenever you are feeling blue
Would you rather listen to
A song to make you tap your shoe
Or something blue along with you?

Clarity

I love how, even if I don’t yet know what church I’m going to attend, I do know of one that I am definitely not going to attend. That was made very clear this morning.

So we (a couple friends and I) decided to attend this church this morning because Trinity’s choir was singing there and it was almost as fast to walk there as to walk to my car in the far parking lot. We didn’t even have to cross a busy road, and the choir sung beautiful songs beautifully.

The sermon was on the Proverbs 31 woman. I thought “This will be good. I need to learn more about what precisely the biblical role of a woman is, both in her family and in church.” The pastor prefaced his message with, “This is a hard passage to preach on” and “I am only the messenger.” Sounds like humble things for someone who is about to get nitty-gritty about the truth of the Bible to say.

He started by telling a few jokes. A few too many jokes. I turned on my particularly skeptical ear when he said that “Proverbs is some old-lady’s drawer” (referring to the way it jumps from topic to topic) and that nobody really likes Proverbs except for teacher’s pets. He was basically saying that the reason Proverbs does not often mention God by name was because it was written as a way for humans to be their own gods.

He went on to say that a Proverbs 31 woman is indeed hard to find. “Impossible.” “Ridiculous” “The dream of Proverbs is the modern church’s nightmare.”

I thought, “What can he mean? Is the Proverbs 31 woman so far beyond our reach that we should be afraid?” I waited for him to make his point clear. He did:

“Proverbs 31 presents a warped view of the role of a woman. Where are the children in this passage? Don’t they have chores too? The woman shouldn’t have to do everything. This passage presents her as having no value except what she is worth to others; what she can provide for her family. And the husband, sitting at the city gates. The Bible doesn’t say this, but he was actually playing poker there. Women shouldn’t have to do everything. Women today think they need to do everything. Look how busy families are. Everyone is trying to be the best, as if that will get them into heaven. Where is grace in all of that? It’s like all these ‘servant leaders’ today. They are all just trying to look good. No. Grace is all we need.”

Yes, I agree that families get over-involved as they try to be successful. Some ‘servant leaders’ need a lot of help with the service part of their job. But grace is no excuse for sloppiness. The possibility of taking pride in achievements is no excuse not to achieve.

The pastor finished with these words: “Take Proverbs 31 and tape it to your mirror. Look at it every day. And say to yourself, ‘No. That is not how I am going to live.’”

Hmm. Just a messenger?

He prayed. The choir sang a beautiful song glorifying the triune, hard-working God who inspired Proverbs. The pastor gave a few more announcements: “Consider hosting for the progressive dinner,” and “Make sure to stay for the congregational meeting to see how you can get involved.”

I had hoped that he would have made some things clear in his sermon. I guess he did.

you need more sleep

when you are trying to fight off millions and billions of college germs. I think that every third person around here would define themselves as sick. It’s kind of funny when someone laughs and it just comes out as a wheeze.

My general strategy is to drink earl grey tea, which I first became familiar with at Lifest back in jr. high. Not only does it taste good and warm you up, it gives the illusion that you don’t really need to sleep.

I need new eyes

That movie I just watched was so stupid. There were a few funny jokes, but sleeping would have been a much better use of my time. It makes me mad that the world thinks all that junk is so funny. It makes me madder that Christians think whatever the world laughs at is funny. It makes me maddest to know that I just voluntarily wasted my time letting it soak in.

My friend Amy gets mad when she sees people walking around wearing t-shirts that say “Gay? Fine by me.” I would too. But just because I am on a Christian campus and most everyone believes homosexuality is wrong doesn’t mean I don’t hear gay humor. Like I said, many Christians think whatever the world laughs at is funny.

I may not tell gay jokes or laugh at gay jokes, but there are plenty of other sinful, destructive habits I’ve laughed at. Mostly drugs and alcohol. Those things have been “funny” for so long that joking about them is “harmless.” But imagine joking around about alcohol in front of someone who has faced abuse because of it. Not funny.

When will I learn to look at sin through God’s eyes of judgment and sinners through God’s eyes of love?

my first speech in speech class

There is something magical about toast.

It’s easy to understand how it is made. A slice of bread is inserted into a slot in a squarish appliance, where it is surrounded by coils of wire that become hot when a current of electrons passes through them. The wires warm the air around the bread until the outside surface of the bread is dry and golden. That’s what turns the bread into toast. Then the toast pops back out of the slot, ready to be enjoyed.

The aspect of toast that is so magical and mysterious is not the process, but the end result. Toast is completely different than bread, although it is made up of the same fundamental elements in roughly the same configuration. A standard or even sub-standard piece of bread can be turned into a delightful piece of toast. Like I said, it’s magical.

Think about it this way. If you were a glob of raspberry jam, or whatever your favorite flavor is, wouldn’t you feel honored to be spread on a piece of toast? Wouldn’t it feel good to be so close to so much warmth and stability?

Toast has been called “bread transfigured,” a “super-conducting breakfast,” and a “slice of calmness.” Every day in this nation, more than 75 million people eat toast. Twelve million toasters are sold every year. People sing about toast, make up jokes about toast, and write cookbooks about toast.

In days of old, spiced toast was used to flavor wine. And since drinking wine to the health of an honorable individual also added to the wine-drinking experience, the word toast gained a second meaning.

So I propose a toast to toast. In honor of the best way to enhance bread without adding calories, here’s to toast!

It was so loud.

The general consensus was that the thunderstorm at Trinity last night was the loudest that anyone had ever experienced. In a really good thunderstorm, you’ll hear one of those exploding, cracking, feel your ribs rattle type thunders. Think of the biggest, baddest, closest, scariest one you’ve ever heard. I heard about ten of those last night, and many more that were up there. Ask anyone. It’s true.
I love thunderstorms. Even when they make me whimper and lose an hour of sleep.

Shh.

You’re supposed to be quiet. That’s why I came in here. A quiet place to study. Plus the internet isn’t working in my dorm, thanks to the lightning. But some people don’t know how to shut up, even when they are in the library.
Oh good. They are done with their group meeting, which means I can concentrate again, so I better get back to work.

hard to believe

It’s hard to believe that those terrorist attacks took place half a decade ago. That was not one, but two “phases” of life ago, if you count schools as phases, and I very much would. I was in jr. high. High school was in the future, and I never spent time thinking about college. Now it takes an anniversary to make me think about jr. high.

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