Thursday, January 22, 2009

on a more entertaining note

on a less weighty note from my last post of recommendations...

grant and i are currently addicted to 30 rock, the tina fey sitcom that's won massive numbers of awards. we bought seasons 1 and 2 in shenzhen last time we were there, and it has been my favorite evening activity for a week now. we've finished season 1 and part of season 2. absolutely hysterical.

my favorite part of our set of discs is that each disc starts with the FBI anti-piracy warning.
ironic really, if you notice where we bought them...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

new books

at the national youth workers' conference in pittsburgh last fall, i was able to hear a lot of great pastors, writers, theologians, etc teach in seminars and in general sessions.  two who stuck with me were margaret feinberg and phyllis tickle.

at the conference, i bought one of margaret feinberg's books: the organic god.  loved it.  if i had to pick an author that i'd love to sit down and have coffee with, she might be the one.  her basic question is "Why do you love jesus?"  now think about that for a few seconds...
it's much harder than you anticipate.  i can think of all the proofs, 
examples, reasons that god (and therefore jesus) love me, and i can think
 of reasons why i worship him... but love him?  that opens up an entirely different picture of jesus all of the sudden.  what i liked about this book was it took you back to some of the basic characteristics of god and who he is.  check it out... i'm hopefully going to start reading another book by her soon.  (sacred echoes)

next interesting book i just finished: the great emergence by phyllis tickle.  
this one is probably a bit more polarizing than my other choice.  her premise is that we are in the middle of a semi-millenial "rummage sale" by the church.  when it's over, we'll have a new expression of the church as we know it, as well as a re-formed and re-traditioned version of the church that 
we previously knew (in this case, protestantism and roman catholicism).  i appreciated how she looked at seemingly unrelated cultural phenomena and pointed out how they have changed the church over the past century.  from inventions such as the automobile, to philosophies ab
out life and the soul: all of them have (in some way) affected christianity.  the other thing i appreciated was that she didn't make a judgment about whether or not this "emergence" is wrong or right in culture or in the church.  simply that it is, and as a church we will have to learn how to understand what it will be and how it will affect christianity as we know it.  
am i an "emergent" or an "emerging christian?"  (because these apparently have different meanings, though i'm still unclear on the difference).  maybe?  probably?  i'm not exactly sure, though i do feel that my theology and my practice of religion tend to be a blend of denominations and practices.  do i believe in the authority of scripture?  
yes.  do i believe that faith alone saves?  yes.  but do i also believe that we need to be the living embodiment of jesus's teachings?  yes... and if that puts me in the category of "social justice" christians, then so be it.  do i have liturgical leanings?  at times, yes.  based on my very limited understanding of this "emergence," i probably fit, as i can't clearly be categorized in one "quadrant" of the north american christian map.  (see the image, taken from her book).

anyone else have any thoughts on books for me to read? :-D

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

my monthly ramblings

Good grief, my ability to upload blog entries in a timely fashion is terrible.

Christmas this year was lovely. Lots of time at church and with friends. As much as a downer as it is to be "working" on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (and I don't even have to preach!), it really is a blessing in disguise. In this strange city of warm weather, commercial focus without cultural/spiritual significance, and leaving for vacations, church services that I'm "required" to attend become a centering experience. From a family service with "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," to an all candlelight evening service, and then back again in the morning for a celebration of Christmas Day, I felt like I was able to really live and experience the Christmas story in many forms.

Grant loved his iphone. I'm such a nice wife ;-)

We left for Vietnam on Christmas night with some friends. There was a hat tournament in Ho Chi Minh City that we went to last year also. Lots of fun, sunshine, and ultimate :-D Grant's team won, and my team did alright :-P Following the tournament, we went to Mui Ne, a beach town nearby. VERY relaxing, and there were about 12 frisbee people there (more or less, depending on the day) who we hung out with.
It was a good holiday indeed.

I've had an interesting month of learning, discussing and thinking about church, ministry, theology, etc. It's been fun, challenging and overall good times. It's also helped me learn to be gracious with people who have differences from me. Difficult lesson, really, but super important. Some days I wish that I could do that all the time - read, think, discuss. I know, I'm an eternal scholar at heart.
I'm really excited for our upcoming "Faith Discovery Course." It's a chance for our students to meet with a mentor and prepare for baptism or confirmation. So far we have 8 students doing it! Keep them in your prayers :-)
As opposed to Grant's last blog entry about the "cold" warning, it actually has gotten cooler lately. This morning, temperatures were in the 40's across Hong Kong, and there was a frost warning even! I know that most of you in the States think I'm a wuss, but I am eternally grateful for space heaters in my flat and my office!
I've been dreaming and thinking a bit lately about the future, in several ways - leisure time and professional time! Various ideas and thoughts I've had (most have been briefly discussed with Grant!)
*doing a summer around Europe next year by rail (unpaid leave maybe?)
*planning a huge excursion the summer we decide to leave (no idea when)
*perhaps going to school for a teaching license - it makes Grant more marketable, and gives me a "practical" skill if I decide to change professions
*being more diligent about writing - journaling, blogging, etc (probably more in the journal than the blog)
*ditto on the reading
*what is my life calling? I'm not convinced that it's youth ministry forever, though I'm not questioning the call God has on my life at this moment. Part of me really wants to know what might be next! I suppose it's better that I don't know, so I can't get over excited looking forward and forgetting where I am.