Monday, June 6, 2011


I'm not sure where to post this actually...but I think as Christ followers we should probably have a different definition of what is "Beautiful" than that which the media is trying to sell us so I'm posting this here. Be forewarned, there will be links included which contain language that many conventional Christians find objectionable.

I regularly follow the blog of my friend Jen and THIS post caught my eye today as I was catching up on my reading. I have struggled most of my life with my weight and with my body image. I'm actually currently trying hypnosis to help me overcome some very self-destructive patterns around my weight. In some ways I suppose speaking on this issue is hypocritical but who better to testify than one who knows the story all to personally?

I am also the mother of a teenaged daughter and I see her beginning to struggle with her own ideals of beauty and beginning to feel like she needs to change herself not so she will be healthier but so she will feel comfortable wearing a bikini. And I wonder how I have failed her. And then I come across THIS and THIS and I realize the kind of craziness that I am up against. EVERY single magazine geared to women or girls has articles on how to be more what society calls beautiful and in order to stay in business they have to keep creating an ever changing standard and a steady demand. They do it so effectively that part of treatment for the epidemic of eating disorders includes a ban on the purchase of women's magazines.

Inspired by this youtube video by Katie Makkai I have started my own rebellion. As I grapple with my own issues and try to help my daughter avoid issues of her own I have become very conscious of looking for role models that are not merely pretty. I have observed that many of us are far kinder in our assessment of others than we are in our assessment of ourselves. I belong to an amazing group of women, an intentional online community called GCM, and every so often there will be a thread asking us to post photos of ourselves. We are from all over the world, all different ages, shapes, sizes and ethnic backgrounds, and yet invariably in that thread someone comments on what beautiful women we all are. Few of us would be considered classically "beautiful" and yet in all our diversity we ARE beautiful.

Each of the women that contributes here is beautiful.

I am creating a playlist for my daughter's ipod. Among the songs I want her filling her mind with are these: Who Says? - Selena Gomes, F'ing Perfect - Pink, Firework - Katy Perry, Just the Way You Are - Bruno Mars, Fingerprints of God - Steven Curtis Chapman, Beautiful - Christina Aguilera

I find it both telling and sad that only one of those songs comes from the "christian" genre. I think we do ourselves and our God a huge disservice when we buy into the idea that we are worthless worms. If we are created in the image of God how then can we ever be anything less than beautiful?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

and when human hearts are breaking

I woke up at 8 a.m. to a knock on my door, which is unusual since most of us sleep way past that if possible.

I opened the door and all I hear is "Cameron's dead" and suddenly I'm crying, and my dear friend/one of my freshmen is crying because her sister is now gone, and her parents are there to take her home.

She was 16. A sophomore in high school. Died in a freak accident while on an exchange trip.

I can't stop crying. All I've done today is cry, send a cookie bouquet, call my mom, send 15 emails to relevant people, and watch nature documentaries with my freshmen while we talk about how much this sucks and how those who would like to can get to the memorial service.

(I live with freshmen-did I mention that?)

It's at terrible moments like this that I just feel so angry. But at least she died instantaneously. That is something to be thankful for. She died happy, having an adventure, with a dear friend by her side...but she's gone. Leaving behind her best friend/sister and two incredible parents, a huge family, and many, many friends.

However, it's at terrible moments like this that I remember what an amazing community I live in. I emailed my professor telling him why I would not be at our 9 a.m. class. I emailed administrators telling them how we were handling things regarding our other freshmen. I emailed people I had meetings with canceling them. And somehow this network has emerged, supporting our close-knit hall and especially supporting the girl whose sister died. It's this quiet web of offers of help, of understanding, of absolutely incredible people, and I am so grateful for it.

And I am thankful to have gotten to know her while she was alive. Even if it was only building with legos, watching Survivor, and cooking Thanksgiving dinner together, I feel blessed to have known Cameron.

My apologies if this isn't particularly coherent. It's been a long morning.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Persecution = Discipleship?

I'm looking for a source that this is paraphrased from

(paraphrased) The badge of discipleship is persecution, if u are not being persecuted u haven't been transformed by the Gospel- J.Wesley

This was posted by a friend on his facebook page a few days ago. This is a young man that I love and respect but I had an instant check in my spirit when I read this. As I pondered what it was about this quote that bothered me so much I realized that it was this idea that true discipleship ALWAYS engenders persecution. Could this be the reason for the absurd persecution complex that the American church continually seems to fall prey to? If it is being taught that persecution is the mark of who is and who is not a disciple then of course the devout are going to be seeing persecution everywhere. Yet the considerable contributions of the Wesley's aside this is NOT what our Lord said the badge of our discipleship was nor should be.

Yes our Lord says that we will be persecuted and hated in this world...but He NEVER says that is how the world (or we) will know we are his disciples. In John 13:34-35 He says: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

When we make our suffering and persecution the mark of our discipleship we set up the very us vs them dynamic we see in modern American Christianity that says that how much we are hated is the best measure of our so called orthodoxy. Is this not what we see today? Christians PROUD of being hated? Christians seeing being hated not as an indication of how badly we have missed the mark of showing Christ to the world but rather as an indication of how correct we are in our theology? God help us!

I have been concerned about the effect of this persecution complex on our collective psyche for some time now. I am catching glimpses of where it logically leads and it is not somewhere I want to see us go. Did this persecution complex + a climate of increasingly violent political rhetoric = the Tuscon tragedy in January? Is it not what is being used to motivate the extremism of the Tea Party elected officials in their actions in recent days? Is it not what allows some of us to believe that "speaking the truth in love" = telling our LGBT brothers and sisters that they are "incompatible with Christian teaching"? If we truly believe that how much we are "persecuted" is the measure of our "success" as disciples then does it not stand to reason that we will act in ways that engender "persecution"?

How might we act differently if we took to heart our Savior's command? How might we treat others if we truly believed that our discipleship should be measured, can ONLY be measured, by our LOVE? Would we not be on the front lines of defense where oppression of others happens rather than leading the charge for that oppression? It seems so simple to me. So obvious. What we believe to be the mark of a true disciple is what we are going to be aiming at. Consciously or not. We've raised up a generation with the idea that we are at war with our culture rather than with the idea that we are to be about loving others and through that love allowing God to redeem our culture.

The world, the one that we seem so quick to write off as condemned,is what John 3:16 says that God so LOVED that He sent his Only Begotten Son and it goes on to specifically say that He didn't send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. Thy kingdom come on EARTH...have we forgotten that? Why do we think we can transform the world through our "orthodox" interpretation of scripture and our fixation on "moral" behavior? How do we not see that its all about LOVE. Its all about GRACE. It always has been.

Persecution is a function of living in a fallen world. It is not a goal to seek after as a measure of whether or not we have been transformed by the gospel. The Lord himself said that the measure of that is LOVE. May thus be said of all of us who follow Christ.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Conventionally Unconventional

I live in this world where I'm more unconventional for being a Christian than for being a Christian of an unconventional variety.

But the whole issue with being an unconventional Christian assumes that there is some sort of structure that is what one might call"the basic level conventional Christian." And that's not true. There are all sorts of Christians. Lumping them all together under the claim of convention just seems silly. And lumping ourselves as outsiders also seems kind of silly. Yeah, I don't necessarily fit in at most churches, but there are plenty of genuine Christians with whom I fit in just fine. So I don't go to church when I'm home because I find a lot of things really disgusting (like performative "worship" services...but that's a different story for another day)? No big deal. There are tons of people out there with whom I do fit in. We are a convention of our own presumed unconventionality.

Some Christians handle snakes. Some Christians paint to worship. Some Christians sit in silence. Some Christians believe in gay rights. Some Christians believe in abortions. Some are card carrying NRA members. Some are die hard liberals. Some believe in power of the mega church. Some believe in the home church. Some believe in prayer chains. Some believe in quiet meditation. Some believe in adoption. Some believe in literal Biblical interpretation. Some Christians are frustrated with the "church" as a whole.

And some don't do, feel, believe, or experience any of those things at all. In fact, they do bunches of other things.

Christians encompass all kinds of thoughts, stances, and actions as parts of their faiths. Even within this presumed world of conventional Christianity, there are those who would look at another "conventional" Christian and consider that person unconventional. I feel weird drawing a line between an "us" and a "them," or even just in the implicit construction of such a line, because frankly, we're just one line among many. We're a tiny piece of a religion already so fractured that to even grapple with all the pieces would take thousands of years.

But I admit I like being a part of the tiny piece, though not for the sake of the tiny piece itself. I am conventionally unconventional. Like a hipster of Christianity though not at all ironic, though goodness knows it pains me to make such a comparison. I don't find myself particularly unconventional these days in the sense that while I do deviate from what is a loud majority, the culture of unconventionality is becoming so prevalent that my . I'm just me, doing my own thing. As my best friend says, "you do you."

And the personal convention-what it means for you to "do you"-now that's what matters.