Monday, August 29, 2005

The Church's Place

My church has just had our last service in our current building. We are moving into a much smaller, newer venue that is completely different. West End is 100 years old, while Taft is a refurbished building in a different part of the city. If you spend any time in church you hear a lot about the church being the Body, the people, and not a building or a place. Though I hear that all the time I realize that my conception of church is greatly tied to place.

Each church I have been a part of has been defined by where they meet... my grade school church that was named after the rock formation next to it, my high school church with the orange carpet on the run down side of town, my college church that met in a high school, and now my church that is moving from a historic building into a coffee shop.

I think this is a testimony to the fragmentation of the Church, that I conceptualize it as several different bodies tied to a certain locale instead of a catholic and far-reaching community. Though it's only natural for a church community to take on its place and tie that place to its identity, I think to a certain extent we should be wanderers, ready as a family to pick up and move together, to stand on a street corner or in the desert and function as a Body. That we should extend across our places and be one with all the believers in the world.

This church is the redeemed and those in need of redemption... no walls to keep me in or keep anyone else out...every single tribe, tongue and nation...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Story of Five Minutes

(Apologies to Kate Chopin)

She stood waiting for the bus. A man, who looked to her to be half crazy, approached her and handed her a little, stapled bundle of papers that looked like a comic book from the 1980s. She thumbed through the five spiritual laws, or maybe there were four, and listened to the man drone on about saving grace and rescue from damnation. He said a Name…

Without her consent, her mind drifted to a place that dreamed of better times. There her apartment, where she lived alone, wasn’t so cold. There the job she hated was better and less deprecating. There she didn’t feel alone because someone always walked with her. There the poor boy that begged on the street corner by the bus didn’t have to sleep in a dirty alley. There today’s rainy day was a clear one, and the sky was always blue even when it was grey.

She wandered in this dream to a place where she actually felt fulfilled. This place was more like a state of being, one that she owed entirely to someone besides herself. She felt loved and was loved. She never had a need to feel guilty because she was forgiven and could forgive. She always had a reason to be glad and to share that joy.

Here she was a part of something. Other people knew her name and valued who she was, what she could give. No one lived alone and no one was left out. Everybody meant something for their own part.

And then she heard a voice, calling her name. Distantly, now becoming clearer. And then she felt her heart start to come awake, come alive, and she felt her heart embrace the dream. Her name was louder. The calling was sweet, the calling was nearer…

The thunder clapped overhead and she came back to herself as she ducked further under her umbrella. She acknowledged the rain and the sky that was always grey. The bus pulled up, the crazy man was still talking. She let the papers fall, sighed, and hurriedly stepped into the bus, ignoring the calling, forgetting that someone offered her better times, offered her a sky that was always blue even when it was grey.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

System of an Upstart

Meddling in the confusion of all we do not understand, trying to break the system or enforce it, we press on knowing that life is worth more than ourselves. La lucha finds its home in me as I beat against the current, trying not to be swept up into it and lose myself. Centering myself on the better way, where the best idea is to be lost entirely in One who is greater. Bringing myself to try, to move one day and linger the next. Why not allow all those connected with fear to open wide their hearts to mediocre miracles, the kind that get us through the day and allow us to reach for what is good and pure and worthy. Following the truth, panting for the light. Where rules and interconnected roadblocks meet circumvention and perseverance, and means justify ends. Finding it so impossible that I have to surrender, not to the system or to myself but to You. Losing myself for You and in You. Running with weariness this race marked out for me, and I will live abundantly.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Feminist Mistake?

I just received Mary Kassian's The Feminist Mistake in the mail and though, admittedly, I have not read it yet, I flipped through it and pondered on the title for some time this morning. Has feminism been a mistake? Where would church and culture be without 20th century feminism?

Well, I must say that I call myself a feminist, and did so before I knew what it meant... back when I began college and gave a lecture to any males who dared to open a door for me. Many years and countless conversations and books later, I still call myself a feminist, somewhat more informed of what it means but still a bit confused. The thing about feminism is that everyone defines it differently. The way I define it, feminism means that women have the right to choices. Whether that choice be lifestyle, or employment, or health, or whatever. Now there are a lot of choices I don't agree with, of course, but I do agree with the concepts of rights for women.

The feminist movement has diversified quite a bit since its inception, particularly since the women's liberation phase in the '60s and'70s. Take, for example, Feminists for Life, one of my favorite organizations. They are a pro-life feminist organization encouraging women to carry their babies to term and then equipping them with the knowledge and resources to care for themselves and their child. For instance, the college outreach program fights for more on-campus housing for single mothers so that young women don't have to drop out of university.

Here's my question: would FFL exist if it were not for the feminist movement, or does it exist because of the feminist movement? In other words, do we have an organization initiating the right to choice for pregnant women (meaning beyond abortion) or one responding to feminist clamor for abortion rights?

I am inclined to think that feminism has done both harm and good, but has not entirely been a "mistake." I think women have been struggling for rights for most of history and I think we now have to sort it all out, to wade through all the dialogue and theories and issues to find what really matters.

Friday, August 19, 2005

I am She

All these things I want to be.
All these stories I want to create.
All these people I want to become.

She reads and she waits and she ponders.
Caught up in the reverie that is her song.
The idea takes over and she waits.
The final idea is the beginning.

The only time to be anything is now.
I was a wanderer and you were a child.
Take the bleeding hearts and make them one.

She finds the time to wait.
Taking over the restlessness that instills.
Fighting the anger and ranting and raving.
The thoughts get muddled and she waits.

I taught the world to listen and I left.
Battles to fight and wars to win and I want peace.
Take these sisters and show them mercy.

She dreams in reverent freedom.
Finding the reality of these penetrating songs.
Still whispering liberty to all she sees.
She herself sings like a child.

She calls the name of Most High.
Wants to find the answers but most of all peace.
Be at one with herself and all these questions.
What time to bring the news of redemption.

She bows, she curtsies, she rests.

I underestimate You all the time.
I regather my strength in You.
I last long enough to find You.

The final idea is the beginning.
I am she who wanders and thinks
And rants and raves and writes
And dreams and longs and wonders
And stops and rests.

I am she who stops and rests to

Freedom may come in tireless work
But it comes first in Rest.
Free me.

I am she who stops and rests.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


The Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack will most likely enter your head sooner or later, so you may as well get it over with now.

Lynn Davidman's book on why many women are choosing Orthodox Judaism stirred up some irony, as far as I see it. She follows women in two different settings, the liberal Lincoln Square synagogue in NYC and the very conservative Bais Chana residential institute in Minnesota . Lincoln Square primarily attracts career women who want to do something socially and intellectually stimulating, while Bais Chana brings in women who desire live with other hasidic Jewish women for three months, take classes about Jewish faith, and learn about womanhood in the Orthodox sense (this facility even arranges marriages for single women who request it).

Here's the irony: these are women who are choosing traditional, religiously defined gender roles. For Bais Chana participants, they are choosing long skirts and submissive lifestyles. For NYC residents, Lincoln Square offers a more liberal interpretation of Orthodox Judaism but still requires that men and women worship on different sides of the room. There is much more to it than this, I'm over-generalizing I'm afraid, but it struck me that the women in this study for the most part came completely on their own volition, many times to the chagrin of their families and friends.

I think this is a perfect example of how 21st century feminism should be sure to include traditional women. There is an element of choice that has long gone unnoticed in the way many women live out their lives in "traditional" gender roles with fulfillment. We can all think of stay at home moms who love their lives or pastor's wives who play the piano and also love their lives. I am quick to judge these women because I have made decisions that do not fall immediately into the June Cleaver stereotype, but I have realized how beautiful tradition is in many senses. Not tradition for tradition's sake, but for the meaning behind it all. Further, I hope that the feminist movement will continue to see the agency and influence "traditional" women possess. Every woman has a voice, regardless of who wants to acknowledge it.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Something New

Desperate times call me to be desperate; desperate enough to want You, to want change, to want joy. I'm such an island sometimes, floating not so freely in a sea of confusing waters. I just know I want to be new. I want to be so new that I recognize more of You, and I decreasing in rapid secession to increase You. I am strong and ready to be strong, to break free and to understand the broader purpose for the story in which I play a part.

My hope comes from You. Streaming down in the sunlight and dancing on the hills You pour out hope on those who fear You. I'm the redemptive song, even when I don't feel like I have the strength to work out anything with fear and trembling. You consume all the parts of me that I hate, You embrace my darkest parts and shine Your light so brightly that I cannot look away.

Joy will find me even still, hiding in the corner and afraid of the cold, I will rise and overcome because You overcome.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Break and Stir

The sky breaks and bleeds and cracks
And I’m Yours.
Feeling remotely
Out of touch,
Grasping at straws
And leaving out the others.
I am more than affliction,
Suffer more from
Than from
I am alone for no good reason
Incapable of taking back
My own faults,
Discussing them for worth
Unhinging them for indecision,
Riding on the waves
Of my own island
Recovering the uncontrollable
And thrashing about
When I need to.
Still my heart
Stir it up
Make me lonely
So I crave You
Your body.
Breaking so many cycles
To be whole.
Picking up the beautiful mess
Coping with it,
In the endless skies
That bring me hope,
Cracking and breaking and bursting open
With good things.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Unveiled Faces

The Muslim Veil in North America discusses the meaning, impact, and interpretation of Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab (veil) in Canada. According to the authors, most women choose to wear the veil because they feel it is part of being a good Muslim woman. There is a great deal of fluidity of interpretation for these women, some of whom reject the veil as old-fashioned and culturally inappropriate to those who see the veil as vital to Muslim faith.

My only real experience with veiling stems from my visit to Israel and Jordan, where I saw varying degrees of hijab on most Muslim women, and an American friend of mine who lived in Pakistan and wore the veil as a cultural precedent, who felt very lonely behind it. This book helped me to learn more about the meaning of hijab and what it means to different women. Unfortunately, women who wear the veil often come under scrutiny and persecution. I have a great deal of respect for women who wear the hijab because it is brave, particularly in a society where such attire sticks out. Further, the devotion veiling requires is very commendable.

The subject of veiling made me think of the verse in 2 Corinthians 3:18--"And we who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the spirit." Am I, either by physical statement or faithful devotion, reflecting the Lord's glory? If I am being transformed into His likeness, I don't want to hide behind myself, but to reflect that glory.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Living feels like dying sometimes, fighting to be awake and alive. All the beautiful, messy people filing down toward the Cross and redemption and all the things that make them whole. I'm lagging behind, watching the tide ebb and flow and staying out of it completely. Where I sit I see the tragedy and the chaos and wonder why I try to comprehend You, wonder why I trust You as I do. Wake me up, help me to live and to die in all the right ways. I'm the reason things come undone, why things stay wound up so tightly that only You in Your strength can break me out. It's the tide and all the people and Your love that give me the courage to stand and walk forward, to join the Narrow Way and try not to go it alone.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Prayer for Families

"Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who settest the solitary in families: We commend to thy continual care the homes in which thy people dwell. Put far from them, we beseech thee, every root of bitterness, the desire of vainglory, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh... and so enkindle fervent charity among us all, that we may evermore be kindly affectioned to one another; through Jesus Christ our Lord."

From The Book of Common Prayer

Friday, August 05, 2005

No Place for Abuse

I just read this book by Kroeger and Nason-Clark for my sociology of women in the church class (yes, that's an actual course, I sort of created it with a fantastic ex-nun turned married sociology prof.) The authors expose rampant abuse against women in the evangelical church and encourage the Church to respond appropriately. The basic premise of the book is to condemn abuse, acknowledge fear, and offer choices to those in abusive relationships. No Place for Abuse represents many of the findings of the International Task Force on Abuse of the World Evangelical Fellowship. The task force was formed after an African woman bravely stood up at one of the world meetings and asked when the church was going to recognize abuse. "Some of you men in this very room are abusing your wives!" she said.

It made me rather sad to see statistics and narratives on women who are abused within the church. It also made me realize again how important it is to intervene in those situations. We often think that it's none of our business, or that it will get better, but that's just not the case. The Bible condemns abuse, abuse does not speak to the character of God, and we are called to defend the defenseless.

For more information on the task force on abuse go to


Thursday, August 04, 2005

How Pretty Am I?

Drawn to the sides
Of every white robe,
Dirty and somehow ashamed…
Can’t face Your sacrifice,
Can’t anticipate Your grace.
Turning to be healed
I interpret Your message,
Embrace Your fight.
I want to come alive
Like I know I can,
I want to believe
Like I know I was made to.
I’m somewhere inside,
Confused as ever,
Dressing the scars
And finding the Source.
Because all this life
Means more than me,
And I’m abased so
You can rise,
Help me rise higher,
Rise above,

(LAK, August 3, 2005)


I've had pretty wretched insomnia several nights this week. It's for a combination of reasons, but I'm running out of things to do. Here's a few things that have kept me occupied:

1.) Set up a blog
2.) Watch romantic comedies
3.) Plan vacations I'll never be able to afford
4.) Play mind-numbing card games on the computer
5.) Read, write, or revise school related material
6.) Make a game of scanning the room with my eyes (without moving my head)

Any better ideas? I'd love to hear 'em!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Here's a new poem to start it all off...


I think I will fly.
Standardizing Your calling
Will not bring me fulfillment,
But I will trust You
To bring me hope.
Four corners of the world
And I will go,
If only on the wings of others.
I’m too stubborn to sit here,
Too hungry to leave,
Desperate to be Martha
Because she accomplishes something.
Remembering those promises
You gave me to memorize,
To burn into my heart
For every season.
I’m the battle,
Part of the problem,
Part of the solution,
Scrambling to believe
That You mean what You say.
I keep holding to the ideas,
Holding to Your coattails
But not to You.
Trying to ride the wings
Of the dark,
Not the dawn.
I know these words
That accomplish nothing,
These songs
That bring me closer.
So I’ll cling to You
To know You
Or just to be near You,
Flying on Your wings
In the midnight sky
Where I hear Your voice
And follow.

(LAK, August 1, 2005)

Here I Am

OK, so I'm blogging now. It just seems like a good idea. So expect to hear some rambling, see some writing, and answer some questions. Blessings!