Saturday, July 28, 2007

New Monasticism

Here is Shane Claiborne of this movement called The New Monastics. It is on NPR's Speaking of Faith.


Here is their website. There is so much there that J and I have talked about, like real community, service and so many things we that seem lost in the church we are in today.

I will be looking more at this! Eyebrow raised........

I love the fact that he talks about community in a real way, food in a real way, conservation and making good decisions about consumption...

He talks about people who are burnt and wrung out on church as it has been (but still believe there is God), he talks about people who think they are doing good because they buy organic or recycle because people want so much to do the right thing (even if that organic thing was flown in from Chile) and it goes for the same people who won't listen to Metallica because they think it will surely ally them with the devil...

He talks about how some christians (the leader of a major Evangelic organization recently got in trouble because he bucked this particular dogma) believe the environment is really a non-issue, and what really needs to be controlled are those homosexuals and abortion. He talks about going overboard with this patriotism in the church, as if it belongs there. He even talks about the Amish.

He talks about the Martin Luther King/Mohandas Gandhi response to violence and "the scandalous love" required in the way of nonviolence. And burnout...

The Simple Way

McKenzie Study Center & L'Abri

Tonight J and I talked about a "movement"(?) called the New Monastics.

We talked about issues of faith, and the questions and where they ultimately have to lead a person... He is doing alot of thinking. I am happy about where his thoughts are leading him. I am happy when I can connect them to conversations that we have had about making a life of service something that may be a reality for us... God willing, right?

But later tonight, I remembered this place I came really really close to living. The year was 1992 or maybe 1993. I was going to PSU and planning on transferring to University of Oregon. I had my housing lined up. I had everything ready except for registering for classes.

But then I got sidetracked, opted to stay in Portland (probably a good choice).

But the place I was set to live was called The McKenzie Study Center. I didn't know it at the time, but apparently their whole mission was based on the idea of L'Abri--a place to teach and learn and stay and gather. I was going to live there.

And that was long before I knew of Francis Schaeffer and I didn't know much about CS Lewis, but this little McKenzie Study Center was all about these guys. These guys who are now the reference points of people who we seek to understand and study...

How very cool, even then, as a new little Christian, I was attracted to these things.

On another note though, I am sad that I am missing the L'Abri conference at Willamette University.

Monday, July 16, 2007


My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
the utterance from my heart will give understanding.
Psalm 49:3

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14

Maybe it was because I watched that movie The Good Shepherd, which is marked by the silence of it's main character.

Or maybe it was a presentation by a guy that talked about silencing all those phones and blackberries and mp3 players and radios and TV's and computers and stereos that fill our life with noise.

Or maybe it is because my own mouth cannot be trusted. Unless I plan what I want to say, or at least weigh its importance, my mouth only gets me in trouble. I am poor at not speaking my mind or heart. I try to get better. I guess the silence makes me uncomfortable, like I have to fill it up with some witty thing. But there is no witty thing, the best thing is silence.

And the silence allows a chance to think, and a chance to listen.

I come from a family where we are all talking over each other and laughing. And eager to put in our bit.

When really the most powerful thing to offer at times is a smile or a laugh or just some deafening silence.

I guess if there was one thing I would like to practice more, it would be silence, and smiling.

Monday, July 09, 2007

On Sunday, I had a chance to go to the baptism of a student. When a person is a teacher, they get to witness young people who are inspiring to everyone around them, and even the teacher. This young lady, in her positiveness, inspired me. Her baptism was the best I have ever seen!

I had to drive out to Lewisville Park in Battleground Washington, about an hour drive almost. I was with my 2 years old. I hadn't brought the money for parking, I usually don't carry cash and I had given my last 3 bucks to a little girl who was selling bookmarks door to door to go to bible camp.

So, there were a few spots by the entrance that were free, the only glitch being that I had to push my daughter over rocky trails in high heels to get to where the baptism was. I hoped it would be close to the entrance, but it wasn't.

This was a Russian baptism. I saw a few of my former students there. In the church, women were not allowed to wear makeup, many wore skirts to the ground and their head was to be covered.

I have never said this about anyone, but L's dad (L is my student) actually has a countenance and appearance of an apostle. He saw me standing there and sent one of his many daughters over to translate and people from the church over to welcome me. I have visited enough churches that I know how rare this is, and it was appreciated.

The area we were at ...a grassy clearing right infront of the very calm waters of the river that ran through the park. The back drop behind the water was large trees, the river was serene. We all stood on grass, and the choir was elevated slightly on a large step.

The service began with them singing some traditional hymns.

L was dressed all in white. All the baptism's I have seen have been in the little baptismal in the church sanctuary. I remember mine, I had no idea what to wear, and the water was overheated, stagnant. It made me want to to be baptised again, even though it was an utterly frivolous notion.

A preacher spent too long preaching after the choir, and shortly thereafter, everyone crowded around as L and another fellow went into the river and were dunked, one by one. L's mom and sister wrapped her in towels and she went back, probably to change clothes and dry off.

I had to leave after that because my daughter needed some attention, but I wished I could have stayed longer.


Friday, July 06, 2007

This is an amazing book, and also a challenging read. I am here.


John 8: 3-11 (New International Version)

3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

11"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

My whole family line, particularly on my dad's side has a particular trait.

It is called being very, very critical.

Before I tamed this beast, it raged in my life, thinking that since I could see and criticise, I was clearly of better vision and judgement than those around me, and therefore I must obviously be superior.

I realized in my life that criticism is probably the most abhorrent quality a person can have. It tears people down. And usually the critic built themselves up on the ashes of what they had attempted to level. I decided that my ability to be critical was not really an asset, but rather something that I had to reign in mightily, and quash to the best of my ability.

It actually was easier than I thought. All it takes is love. Yes, it sounds corny.

But a live and let live attitude, turning my head, shrugging my shoulders, a smile and then knowing that we can reap what we sow, whenever the critical beast came up, I knew it was an opportunity to quash it. It was an opportunity to show love, compassion, empathy. And that is always good for me to practice.

Now, when I get the urge to be critical, I usually put the bit in my mouth. I know the old self righteous feeling, I have seen it in my dad and grandma before they layed someone to waste with their corrosive commentary.

I think it is normal for a person to be abnormally disturbed by things at times of their lives that may not matter one whit to others. Like a manager might be sensitive to people who come in late, but a coworker probably wouldn't care as much. Or a person in a rush is less patient with the person in line who has unusual needs and calls for a managers expertise, whereas the same person in no rush wouldn't care.

As a mom, I am more aware of things I used to never care at all about. Like people who smoke around my kid, or swear around my spongebrained 2 year old.

Where am I going with this? People judge other people based on an entirely unique criteria all their own.

Christians judge other people too, on their Christian criteria. Dancing, smoking, drinking, swearing, church attendance, dress, ways money is spent, gentleness, politics, job, attitude are all areas where Christians generally feel free to call judgments down on other Christians and non Christians as well.

I seldom here a sermon talking about not judging other people. I seldom hear the pastor talk about "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

In the American church it seems like some passages aren't talked about as much as others are. I like this passage alot.

First, it is so very very freeing. Knowing it is not my job to make a choice or decision about whether what someone does is wrong or to be condemned. But it is also convicting, because when I am grouchy, I know I will be tempted to be less than gentle. It's a nice reminder "Hey man, that's not my job,"

It is a chance to respond with love, a chance to DO something that shows how the Lord has changed my heart. I don't have to be that way I was before, I am a new thing now. And that in itself is like worship and obedience. It is where the rubber hits the road with my faith, and that is a beautiful thing.

Sometimes some ideas come up alot. Judgment is one that comes up to me alot. I know when I am being judged, sometimes I can tell someone thinks I am judging them.

My overall solution to all these scenarios is to just forget about it. Eventually it will all work out.

So my thought about judgment is, what about grace? Provided the offense isn't against the law (national or natural), what about being a peacemaker. We aren't called to judge people for the mistakes and choices they make. I say down with this idea of making decisions about whether a person is "worthy" of our company or not. We aren't called to be judges, we are called to be servants. Blessed are the peacemakers, not the critical and judgmental.