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Friday catblogging

CatsindownFoster (in the foreground) and Bette (in the background) raise their heads momentarily from the sea of down in which they're immersed.

What a life!

March 25, 2005 in Cats | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Christian genre music

I've taken up Dave Paisley on his very generous offer to send up to three people a copy of Third Day's worship album Offerings.

I can't remember the last time I bought a album of Christian genre music, by which I mean not just an album made by musicians who are Christian, and whose faith comes across in their work (Switchfoot and U2 being good examples), but albums on labels that define themselves as Christians and are marketed primarily through Christian bookstores, mailings to churches, and such.

Come to think of it, I do buy just about everything I can get from Wild Goose Worship, and it's probably because when I think of Christian genre music, I think of musically bland and overwrought tunes that sound like Top 40 love songs with God-language inserted (sometimes rather awkwardly). Of the top of my head, this kind of thing is what I'm thinking of:

Jesus, my Lord, you're the most
moving deep inside me with your Holy Ghost
and my life will never be the same
'cause everything's wonderful since you came

Maybe I have a career ahead of me writing naff worship tunes.

Anyway, you get the idea.

And Dave's offer made me think that maybe I've been unfair to Christian genre musicians in assuming they're all like this. So, Christian genre music fans, other than Third Day's Offerings, what have I not been listening to in my musical snobbery that I'm really missing out on? What outstanding, musically and lyrically interesting Christian genre music is out there that doesn't treat Jesus like one more romantic attachment who magically makes my problems melt away and my life a never-ending series of ecstasies (except for the bridge, where we fight and make up as the key changes and I revert back to ecstatic adoration)?

And do you have any favorite Internet radio stations that play this kind of excellent Christian genre music?

This could be fun ... all kinds of new music to experience!

March 25, 2005 in Music | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

a good reason never, ever to move house

CoffeebeansroastedThe independently owned coffee roaster and espresso bar that's a block from my house and is open 24 hours a day (!) now uses only organically grown fair trade coffee.

Life is very, very good.

I do roast my own coffee, partly because it's fun and partly because it costs less than half as much as pre-roasted (and I drink a LOT of coffee). I use an air popcorn popper that I bought for $7.88 from Target and triple-certified (organic, shade grown, fair trade) coffee beans that I mail ordered from Seven Bridges Cooperative (who also do organic home brewing supplies for beer -- something I'd like to try one of these days). I don't always have time (it takes a little over an hour to roast a pound of coffee) or energy to do my own, though, so it's really, really nice to have a place that's an easy stroll from my front door (and open 24 hours!) that does organic fair trade.

March 21, 2005 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

AKMA’s Random Thoughts

Change is on my mind, and AKMA’s Random Thoughts offers some wise words in a post "Speaking of Change":

Church should be the place we learn how to change, for we don’t simply know the ways we need to change on our own. Our life shared with God and the saints should shape our wisdom to recognize appropriate and inappropriate change. Life in church should help us let go of mere nostalgia, and should protect us from novelty-mongering. Church should help us understand that what we like isn’t the measure of all things, nor is passive subjection to strictly extrinsic autocracy. If we live the gospel, then the gospel will always be characterized by change (at the same time that it remains recognizably the same gospel, not “another gospel”). In order to avoid our running aimlessly or beating the air, and to avoid our disguising our stubbornness as piety, church should be a place where we learn how to change. And how to disagree about how we should change.

March 21, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ecclesiastical (Somewhat) Dialect

The Cat's Cradle has a wonderful post on how beautiful, useful, and attractive Ecclesiastical (Somewhat) Dialect can be. Enjoy!

March 18, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Friday catblogging

FosterstereoFoster appreciates a good stereo almost as much as I do. I'm sure that her love of music is wholly responsible for this being one of her favorite places to lounge.

March 18, 2005 in Cats | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The sturdy, reliant, self-destructing pastor

This article from the United Church News talks about a trend that I don't actually find all that surprising: "religious leaders are prone to significantly higher incidents of substance abuse, obesity, financial difficulties and depression. Clergy now rank among the illustrious 'top ten professions' associated with heart disease." I wouldn't be at all surprised if the data for lay ministry professionals were similar, save for more financial troubles due to lower compensation and worse pension plans.

I'm thinking that it might be wise to add some items to my to-do list for Holy Week ... items like:

  • take a walk
  • sleep in one morning

... and perhaps most importantly:

  • remove at least three other items from the to-do list

March 18, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

dreaming of zombies (and U2)

I often dream of zombies, though these dreams rarely are what I'd call nightmares, as the zombies always turn out to be not much of a problem.

For example, once I dreamed that I turned on the television and found that zombies were on the loose, but I suddenly remembered that ordinary household salt would instantly dissolve them, and it turned out that our entire pantry was full of salt. I made a circle of salt around the house and filled some squirt guns with salt water, and then I sat down to watch some Law & Order (funny how detailed these dreams sometimes are), knowing that I was perfectly safe inside, and that I could always take a squirt gun out if I needed to buy a few ingredients for dinner.

This time, I dreamed that the world was pretty much taken over by zombies, except that Karen and I had taken up residence in a huge house on a massive estate, and all of our friends and lots of other interesting people were there. We had a garden and some cows for milk, solar-powered generators that could supply electricity indefinitely, and generally were having a good time of it, as the very extensive grounds (there were woods and fields and lakes) of the estate were surrounded by a simple chain-link fence, which was more than enough to deter the zombies. Occasionally, we'd picnic on a hill from which we could see the zombies congregating beyond the fence, and then something else would catch their interest and they'd move on. I remember thinking how peaceful and pastoral even congregating zombies could look from a distance as I poured myself another glass of Chardonnay (which I don't drink very often -- was that supposed to be the nightmare part?).

The other dream from last night that I remember was that U2 were playing on the grounds of a university. I didn't have tickets, but I wandered up to the arena just to see if I could get in, and they just let me in, so I wandered up to the best seats to see if I could get there, and nobody objected, so it looked like I'd be able to stand right next to the stage in any spot I chose. I remembered that I was carrying my guitar, and that I probably wouldn't be allowed to have it with me during the concert, so I was trying to decide whether I should go back to my car to put it in the trunk, taking the risk that I wouldn't be able to get back in. I had just about decided to stay where I was and risk that I'd be told I had to go back to put away my guitar, but I didn't feel all that concerned about it, since: a) I was going to see U2 twice on this tour already, and while this extra time was a nice surprise, I couldn't really complain if it didn't work out; and b) I was quite confident that nobody was going to be upset about the guitar, though it was going to be a bit of a pain having to carry it around the whole night.

But then the alarm went off. Karen said that she knew how the dream ended, and it was with Bono walking past and seeing me, and inviting me to stow the guitar backstage in a safe place. Works for me, though my fantasy ending would probably involve being asked to jam with the band as well (ah, those Joshua Tree tour days, when an audience member would be pulled up on stage to play guitar on "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" ...).

U2 have been showing up a lot in my dreams of late as well. I wonder whether one of these days there will be a crossover dream, in which I'm trying to get floor seats for a Madison Square Garden U2 show, but I'm not at all worried about it because my competition consists entirely of zombies who aren't so good with clicking their way through Ticketmaster sites, and because they dissolve when rock music plays.

March 11, 2005 in Dreams | Permalink | Comments (10)

new toy!

Foster_1Our old digital camera gave up the ghost a while ago, after several years of loyal service, and on Wednesday, our shiny new Canon Powershot S70 arrived. Cameras have definitely improved over the last few years! I was especially pleased to see how fast it is. Our old camera took several seconds or more to warm up when it was turned on, and to write to the memory card after each shot. The new one is ready pretty much immediately, and can take a photo a second. I immediately sprang into action to take far, far too many photos of our cats. Meet Foster, who is the best spiritual director I've ever had.

March 11, 2005 in Cats, Pictures | Permalink | Comments (3)

Five Questions

Kathryn of Good In Parts introduced me to the "five questions" meme, in which she asks me five questions for me to answer on my blog, and then up to five people who volunteer get questions from me. So, here are the five questions she asked me:

1) Tell us about your favourite poem. What is it and why is it special for you?

Oh my. I love poetry, and I don't think there's any way I can pick just one poem. Right now, I'm really into "spring song" by lucille clifton (she doesn't use any capital letters -- I haven't gone all Internet-trendy here), which I cited in my most recent entry on the lectionary blog. That poem both sums up and stimulates the hope that I want to shape everything else I see: the truth that God is redeeming the world God made and loves, and no power can stop that.

And there are two other poems that are important to me at the particular (and peculiar) place I'm in at the moment:

You and Art

Your exact errors make a music
that nobody hears.
Your straying feet find the great dance,
walking alone.
And you live on a world where stumbling
always leads home.

Year after year fits over your face —
when there was youth, your talent
was youth;
later, you find your way by touch
where moss redeems the stone;

And you discover where music begins
before it makes any sound,
far in the mountains where canyons go
still as the always-falling, ever-new flakes of snow.

    -- William Stafford, Sometimes I Breathe

... and this one ...

The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

    -- William Stafford, There’s a Thread You Follow

I've loved these poems for years, and can almost quote them from memory, but they have a particular resonance for me at the moment, probably because of a whole cluster of things going on: my current position is ending and I'm not sure where I'm being called to next, but at the same time, I haven't been able to drum up much anxiety about it. I just have a sense that things are coming together, that there's a call from God in all of this and it's just taking some time to discover what it is. There's a thread here, a dance my feet find, a rhythm to what might at first seem like just clattering.

2) You have the chance to interview ANYONE in the world, living or dead, for an in-depth feature. Who do you choose and why?

Oh, it would have to be St. Paul. Talking with him might really complicate my dissertation, but I just wouldn't be able to resist. I could finally ask him what the heck he meant by "because of the angels" as a reason given in 1 Corinthians 11 that women should keep their heads covered. I could ask him to issue a few clarifying statements on some of those troublesome passages used in debates about sexuality and women's leadership. Can this interview be as long as I want? Can I record it?

3) Tell us about one thing that really made you smile this week.

Tickets went on sale this week for the third leg of U2's Vertigo tour. This was the second ticket presale for fans; the first time around, I got seats so bad (and expensive!) that I passed on them. I thought I wasn't going to get any this time either, as the presale was announced at the last minute, and at the time tickets were to go on sale, I was supposed to be giving a presentation for a class at a nearby university. But my partner, Karen -- brave Karen, noble Karen, Karen of the fingers so nimble on a keyboard -- generously volunteered to try to get the tickets for me. It was NOT fun for her. She doesn't like things with time pressures, and although she knew that I wouldn't blame her if she couldn't get tickets, she knew that I really wanted them.

She got tickets for me, and GENERAL ADMISSION (not only the cheapest, but also the best -- floor seats, with a chance of being in the first fifteen rows) tickets at that) tickets at that, and a pair of them for each of TWO concerts (one in Washington DC, which is the closest gig to where I live, and one in New York City, where a good friend lives who loves U2 almost as much as I do.

I was wandering around with a wide grin on my face all day.

4) You've suddenly found a gap in your diary, an unexpected day to yourself. How do you spend it?

Wonderful! If Karen's free and the weather's good, we'll go to the National Zoo in Washington to see the new cheetah cubs, get some good Mexican food for lunch, and we'll go to Vespers in the National Cathedral before heading for home. If we're up for going to to dinner, I think I'd vote for the tapas place a few blocks from our house. We just went there last night, but it's a great place, with a very, very good wine list, and we always have a delicious, relaxed meal there.

5) What is your favourite part of worship? (I know this isnt an original question, but I really enjoyed answering it myself for reverend mommy)

This question might be even harder than the one asking me to choose a poem!

I love the service of Compline, and especially this prayer:

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

In the Sunday Eucharist, my favorite moment might be this part of the prayer of thanksgiving after communion:

Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord.

... especially when it's followed up with a REALLY good delivery of the dismissal, one that really makes me feel commissioned to take into the world the good news I've experienced in the Eucharist.

And I really love preaching. I love that it's actually part of my job to connect deeply enough to something that God is doing in the world that I can communicate a sense of that to others. Every time I preach, it gives a boost to my prayer life, and the deeper my prayer life is at the time, the better my preaching.

And that's the five questions! If you'd like me to ask you five questions for you to answer on your blog, just post a comment to this entry, and I'll email you the questions and instructions.

March 11, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack