03 December 2007

new army!!



Haha, I stole this from Angela's facebook. I have way more school spirit here in Oxford than I do back at home...can you blame me?

18 November 2007

Blackbird

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
all your life
you were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise,oh
You were only waiting for this moment to arise, oh
You were only waiting for this moment to arise



Trying to figure out why this grabs at my heart so right now...

11 November 2007

"Waiting on the Lord"

Today at the Taize service at University Church (St. Mary's is the proper name, but there are so many St. Mary's around this city Oxfordians can't keep them strait and rename them) I had a neat little vision, so to speak. There was probably less than twenty of us sitting in the back chapel admist the enormity of this huge Norman-style cathedral, the lack of mass creating this intense echo that a slight cough or rustle of paper reverberated throughout the whole building. We sang our hymns in rounds, we sat in prayerful silence, and, for me at least, felt the somber reality that so few were worshiping in so large of place lay over me like a light blanket. I could go on about how empty cathedrals feel in Europe because so little hearts are turned towards them and the God the house, but my newly self-proclaimed religious belief is Hope: the audacious, absurd, and sometimes reluctant hope in the Lord, so my focus will be on the hopefulness of the situation. But anyway, the emptyness of the building and the faithfullness of the congregants gathered and the title of the hymn--"Waiting on the Lord"--gave me a slight vision of the early church, sitting together in small groups, unwelcomed or rejected, by the "outside" world, waiting on the Lord, their Hope and Vision. Granted, I don't know if our congregants are "growing in numbers everyday" like the 1st century church did, but I really believe the faith of the parish is strong and their devotion sincere. The name "gregory"--which comes from the Greek word "to wait, to be viligent"--kept coming to mind. As I recall from my Life and Teachings class last year, "Gregorio" (?--I guess? I surely wan't Gregory) was the most common name amongst 1st century Palestinian Christian as they were constently anticipating the return of Christ.
One time my dear friend Misty told me that what we are to do as Christians is simply wait--we anticipate the coming Kingdom of Christ while operating like it's already here. Regardless if you think that we are waiting to move from this reality to enter into a more "real" reality, or if you think the New Jerusalem will be on this Earth, we still all need to be operating as if we are experiencing this reality now--which means loving, giving, praying like there is no tomorrow. And living in the faith and hope that God will come, will act, will respond to our faithful actions and humble prayers.

22 October 2007

Epiphany in the Library

I was sitting in the library tonight, quite unproductively, when God graced me with one of those precious moments when the greatness of eternity reveals itself slightly in the temporal experience, and I got "it". I was thinking about equality, and what that means in the world's standards in politics, economics, and society, and whether that holds ground in society and, especially, in Christianity. So, this is what I figured out; the argument isn't fluid, and there is so much more I want to add and consider, but this is the philosophical/theolgical garble that came out, for your enjoyment.

There is no equality in God's Kingdom--none at all.
There is only vast, ever-expanding inequality: first, starting with Christ, Who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, made Himself unequal with His bretheren, placing their needs and concerns before His own. You see, we are very much unequal with God, in all Glory and Wonder, understands inequality with far more depth than we can ever imagine, becoming its manifestation as Immanuel.

We are to respond by promoting inequality amongst our sisters and brothers: not considering eqaulity with their selves something to be grasped, we are to put ourselves in the most unequal positions before them as our Gracious God allows it, responding and acting to their needs and cares with so much more urgency and attentiveness than our own. Equality, in the sense that everyone is taken care of only occurs when we are all prioritizing the care of others before ourselves. We do not promote the rights of others in the Kingdom; we live out the rights of others, without demanding or giving a second thought to whether our own rights are being taken care of. The Kingdom of God is radically equal, for equality is only gained when all are made unequal with each other.

12 September 2007

Oxford journals 3

This one's a little heated; I hope the don't get offended. No, wait, in fact, I do... ;)

12. September. 2007
Today, I don’t think I’ve ever been so frustrated after a lecture in my life. I briefly mentioned in my previous journal entry that most of the information and lectures we’ve received have been focused on rich, or royal, white men and how they’ve influenced this culture. In our lecture today on “What America thinks of the World”, we were told that our civilization was built on the backs of giants. That’s not true; actually, Britain’s—and later the United States’—economic, industrial, and imperial successes were not due to the cleverness of intellects, admirals, and kings. They came from the enslavement of African natives; the oppression of Irish, Welsh, and Scottish people; the agonizing labor of the working class during the Industrial Revolution; and the genocide of the indigenous peoples who lived in the Americas. (And the women who were forced in their narrow and rigid gender roles, and were not considered innately equal to men in the eyes of God.) I have been struggling at times while being in this country and studying at this esteemed university: though I understand what a great opportunity it is to be here among the greats, I cannot but help to think of all of those in this very country, let alone around the world, that cannot be here because they operate in such a rigid and determining class perspective. At times, I cannot, in good conscious, justify being here.
Now I know that the above verbal rampage is very revealing of my worldview: I am a young, idealistic college student who has learned a lot about life, but has experienced very little of it. I know that my perspective must seem na├»ve and socialistic to my elders. But I have just spent the last two years of my life learning that the victors and the oppressors write history; and that so many people’s stories and experiences have been lessened or silenced. I feel that as a disciple of Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate voice and comfort to the oppressed, that it is my duty and calling to give a voice to these people, whomever they are. I have not been hearing the voices of these people here in Oxford, but only small murmurs as they are casual mentioned in passing.
I had an opportunity to study in South Africa this semester in a brand new program established by my University. I decided not to go because I did not like the way the program was set up, but also because I was accepted to this program in Oxford. I just wonder if I am justified in turning down an opportunity to experience South Africa to live and study in the country that held it in it’s regime for so long.
My friend wisely reminded me today that every place has its history and its demons. Also, my British Civilization book often made me wish my country (who’s social ills I could write about for pages) enacted some more civil services and environmental actions, etc. I suppose my naivety and youthfulness has shown clearly through this journal entry. I know that my experience here while studying this society and history will give me much wisdom, and a deeper perspective on life, faith, society, and the endeavors of humankind. I just pray that my wisdom and experience don’t replace my passion for change with complacency.

Oxford journals 2

6. September. 2007
This city is spectacular. I’m not sure why places that are old—and, at times, dilapidated—carry this sense of wisdom and legitimacy. It sometimes feels like these quaint stone buildings and cobblestone streets have knowledge and insight preserved in them, and we are privileged enough to walk among them, hoping that their secrets will be transferred to us. I know logically there is no more wisdom in the buildings of Christ’s Church College than in trees pressed to make this paper, but I cannot help but be rejuvenated by this connection to the ancient. Well, ancient by my standards. The stark difference in how the British see history and time and how we Americans see it, as taught to us in the first lecture by Dr. Schuettinger, is probably the most insightful piece of knowledge that I’ve gained thus far, because it’s completely shaping how I interpret these lectures on British history. The British seem to actually learn from the past, or at least remember it. As we learned in our lectures today on British History 1485-1660, and 1660-1800, the fact that the intrusion of Charles I on Parliament in 1642 was still fresh in the memories of 18th century Britons two hundred years later, and that still today the effects of that invasion is evident in the fact that British police officers don’t carry guns, is astounding to me. I can’t comprehend consciously living my life according to what happened two hundred years ago, still living in the strong memory of it. Right now, without straining the Rolodex of American history facts stored up in my mind, I cannot think of any event that occurred in 1807 on the North American continent that I feel so strongly connected to that it affects how I perceive the world today. Fifty years ago, perhaps, but not two hundred. American culture is always one that is moving forward, which I think is to our benefit, but will also be to our demise. This fact about Britain surprised me, for I had always presumed that it was a much more progressive state than mine; maybe not as progressive as they are in Continental Europe, but progressive nonetheless. Though surprising, I was happy to learn this fact, as I have always had an affinity with all things old. I really hope that I can use this British perspective on the world when I return home, yet retain some of my very American optimism.

Oxford journals

'ello! I'm here in Oxford, which would seem to encourage more blogging, but I am actually keeping a journal as a class assignment. So, I thought I'd put the more invigorating ones up here, thus keeping up on my homework and keeping everyone up-to-date with my doings here in Europe. Here is the first one I wrote for my journal. I'll also try to add pictures if possible; if not, visit my facebook page!

4th September 2007
I feel that more introduction is needed for this journal to explain this journey thus far, but I’m not sure what I can give at this point. My mind is in a turbulent whirlwind, my body is aching with fatigue and jet lag, and my heart is attempting to interpret and embrace everything in this new, beautiful, and exciting place. I am concerned that I’ll never collect my displaced parts and put them back together in time to run this seemingly impossible race of scholarship here at Oxford. I feel that my mind, body, heart, and soul are in no acceptable state to be given: I need more time to read my text, to interpret my surroundings, to be at peace with all of the things that I’ve left behind. But, as Dr. Tisdale said in our Orientation meeting this morning, those are the things that God desires of me—they are the worthy sacrifices He expects me to joyfully give in path of discipleship that I have chosen.
I suppose what intimidates me most is the fact that I feel so unprepared—and frankly, unworthy of participating in this program. I am just not sure I can do it. Much of what Dr. Schuettinger spoke of during the introduction to the Oxford Academic System resonated with what I would express my educational experience to be: I am able to not only get by, but succeed academically based on my ability to repeat facts and ideas that have been given to me by my educators. I guess God fashioned me to get good grades in the American higher education system by giving me the uncanny ability to retain odd information such as dates and theorists and page numbers, and the gift to write my way out of almost anything. Upon hearing how different the educational system in Oxford is here—and, also, how much more effective it is—I cannot help but wondering if I really am as great of a student that I have always believed. I confess, I always struggle to critically thinking and analyze all information and opinion that is placed in front of me; I have interpreted this as my desire to learn more of a subject that I am unfamiliar with, but perhaps I am simply taking the easy path towards a degree. It’s interesting, and slightly amusing, that the American higher education system greatly reflects how much we highly value efficiency over quality: the more degrees we can crank out, the more people are filling the needed jobs in the workplace, and if we do this quickly, the more stimulated the economy. Also, my innate reaction of fear and offence to the concept of my writing and research being mutilated on the spot during my tutorials also reflects my homeland’s desire to ensure that all in the younger generations feel good about themselves, regardless of the quality of work or personhood that they produce. (This, however, I am not so sure I quite disagree with just yet—not everyone is fashioned to be scholars, yet everyone holds immense value in society and in the eyes of God.)
My prayer for my time in Oxford is that God transforms every aspect of me into the woman He wants me to be, and that I am always seeking to glorify Him and be an agent of shalom on this earth. I am slowly beginning to understand that to do so, I have to sacrifice this bizarre blend of ethnocentrism and treasonous cynicism that I am constantly experiencing to Him. I must interpret my experience through God’s perspective, allowing Him to illuminate all that I am learning and encountering.

19 June 2007

thoughts on a survey

This is a response I wrote to my dear friend Krystle Locey's question that she posted on facebook. Knowing Krystle, she would definately post a question that is really light-hearted and uncomplicated, like, oh I don't know, why are you a Christian? I liked my answer ('cause, you know, I'm bloddy brilliant, if you haven't noticed), so I decide to preserve it e-preserve it on my e-journal, aka'd blogging. Mmmm, yeah.

19.6.2007

Krystle's question: "A simple question for everyone. I just want an honest answer. Don't give the theological jumble, don't regugitate the Sunday school answer. Get to the heart of it (whether that means you give a good or bad reason...be honest with yourself).

Why are you a Christian? I mean, really, why are you a Christian?"

A few months, even a few weeks ago, I would have a really hard time answering this question; forcing all of the hardened layers of socialization and indoctrination would have been exhausting and I'm not sure I would have been up to the challenge. I have definatley been at a point in my "walk' where I needed to pause, and even sit down beside the path in the grass for awhile. But this year, certain books, classes, experiences, and divine interventions have prompted me to get up again, and continue to walk with a little bounce in my step. So, here it goes:

To answer why I am a Christian is exceedingly easier than answering why I believe in and trust God: God is the great big eternal Someone that humans have a knack for misinterpreting, while Christ is the Immanuel, the God incarnate, the point in time and eternity when the realm of God and realm of creation meet (speciba to Karl Barth). I believe in Christ because of what I just mentioned, I follow Christ because I believe in my own and the world's need for redemption, which is a concept that is so intricate, complex, and more beautiful than I can imagine. Discipleship is more than paying back a debt--it's engaging in a dynamic relationship that results in complete love and wholeness.

18 June 2007

thoughts, quips, and other general tools used in bouts of writing

Prolouge: So, I've recently come to face the ugly fact that I really really really like writing and I sorta want to do it someday. It's ugly because nothing save sharks and horror movies staring evil, demon-possesed children frightens the shit out of me quite like the idea of captial-W Writing. It is so frightening because it is not my life and limbs or my eternal soul that is at stake, but my pride--I'm actually quite terrified of failing. So to remedy this fear, I've decided to bear myself--er, my soul, rather--to the world to face inevitable scrutiny and rejection. Enjoy.

Also, fyi: I want to write, not type, so these will be abridged journal entries. For some reason, there is a more intimate connection between the hand, ink pen, and crisp sheets of unadulterated paper than the fingers, plastic key board, and an lcd screen (thanks to LJ for reminding me what that exactly is).

So, yes. Mmm-hmm. ok.

16.6.2007

The distance of life and the time it takes to pass through it (which are christened the "journey of life" by poets and profiteers who appeal to the sentiment of wonder and purpose in us) has a funny way of administering it's tricky yet beautiful realties on us--which are also notably christened "life lessons"-- in ways that are so simple their beautiful intricacies are rarely unearthed and appreciated. These small and delicate connections that thread individuals to individuals, experience to reality, thought to truth, and love to everything is why I want to write.
I have wanted to work out why I have this passion, that burns or is patiently dormant, and why it is that I am paralyzed by the fear of actually attempting it. Do I really have something that is so important and impressive that I simply must do the world a service and share it with anyone who is willing to listen? Is this merely self-indulgence? I fear this because I have constantly been laboring throughout my life to find the one thing that sets me apart--that makes me both great and unique--so that in the midst of the anonymity that I so often find myself in I can feel valuable. These fears and self-doubts are what have kept me from sharing my writing, or even attempting to do it: I just don’t want to face the crippling disappointment of failing again at something I want so dearly, just because I’m simply not good at it.
But writing because of sheet adequacy is not what makes it a great and timeless pursuit. Rather, it is a courageous discipline that organizes the chaotic mess of the human mind and experience, linking the unrelated to each other, and discovering the patterns or holes which the less eccentric eye would overlook. Writing, along with the creative and mystifying discoveries that are revealed by it, links everything together like patchwork. Slowly but surely, words and phrases, theories and fallacies, pull the threads, drawing the pieces closer together, enabling us to glimpse more clearly into the truth that we all seek: the purposes and mysteries of God.

Yet as big as my words and phrases sound, they are empty of the depth and wisdom that is given to us by our overly-generous Creator. I had a moment today when all of the pieces fell to place as they so masterfully do when God decides to provide us our “life lessons” as I half-mindedly picked up my small copy of Karl Barth’s “The Call to Discipleship”. I had hurriedly thrown the book aside a few months ago when reading it because it, frankly, freaked me out. The parallel splendor and aggravation of Karl Barth is his tendency to masterfully express his views on faith and Christianity in such a way that you get kicked squarely in the jaw with unsettling conviction after spent thirty minutes simply trying to interpret just what he’s getting at. The whole process culminates in you rubbing your incredibly sore jaw but feeling quite pleased with yourself for being clever enough to understand someone that operates at this level of intelligence.
My equivalent encounter with this violently candid theologian brought light to mine—and in my opinion, the contemporary American mainstream Christian Church’s—audacious insistence on laying down conditions for our “Christian walk”. We culturally cannot and will not dream of fully accepting Christ’s conditions for following Him (what with His nerve to ask us to sell everything and give it to the poor, for one); instead, we forcefully squeeze our faith into nice marketable packages of self-help and eternal fulfillment. We advertise the secret to a “life more abundant”, assuming that the terms of this abundance are what we conceive would satisfy us most. I hate this reality, yet I fear leaving it: it’s comfortable, it makes sense, and it’s under my control.
Yet this illegitimate discipleship is not worthy of the Kingdom of God: the impossible realm where individuals are expected to recognize and then surrender their natural allegiance to the social and cultural ties that determine their understanding of reality. Yeah, frankly, this scares the shit out of me. Reading the words of my favorite theologian impaled me with fears and doubts of my desire to follow this Way, to do this Will, which I am clearly instructed that I cannot half-ass.

Faith is a tricky process, and I am slowly learning just how complex it is. Faith is not only believing in what you shouldn’t, but whole heartedly trusting your life and soul into its care. The road to faith is paved with faith itself, and the path to God can only be traveled with daily, tiny surrenders to His illogical Will, somehow being ok, and even rejoicing in it. The wordless beauty of the complexity I think best illustrates my muddled feelings towards writing: the only way down the path to being a Writer is, well, to be one who writes. Religiously. As mind-numbingly simplistic as this sounds, it speaks eternal depths to my fears, anxieties, and second-guessing about my abilities. I can only do it if I try, which is very much unlike the rich young ruler who doubted his ability to release himself from all of his possessions, power, and privilege to follow the One to whom he belonged to before he was even called.

Maybe this doesn’t make much sense to others, or maybe it’s something the world figured out together and I just happened to sleep in that day. But maybe working something like this enables me to pull one thread just a little tighter, allowing us all to see a little more clearly.

29 May 2007

A more extensive answer to the trivial Blogger Profile quesiton (a.k.a. "I'll give you 400 characters!")

I wrote this answer to a silly blogger question in my profile, and I was not allowed to keep it at it's length. Unfortunately for me, I enjoyed the length and the content that created it, so I decided to fight the system and make a blog containing my extensive answer to the question. Here goes...

Blogger Profile quesiton: "How is an ankle unlike a consequece?"

My answer:
Hmm...I would venture to say that an ankle is very much like a consequence by means of imagery in the song "Red Right Ankle" by the Decemberists. Here are the lyrics discussed:
This is the story of your red right ankle
And how it came to meet your leg
And how the muscle, bone, and sinews tangled
And how the skin was softly shed

And how it whispered “Oh, adhere to me
For we are bound by symmetry
And whatever differences our lives have been
We together make a limb.”
This is the story of your red right ankle."

Ievitable connectedness is the theme of the construction of this ankle: the parts are 'bound by symmetry' together; they cannot function on their own. Consequences are indeed the ineviable connection between our decisions: they are also 'bound by symmetry' in that the consequences of our decisions mirror the decision itself in the grandness and importance of our decision, what area of our life it is affecting, and the people involved in the decision and the consequence. Also, our desicions are 'adhered' to our consequences much like the elements that compose an ankle are, for we cannot have consequences without decisions, and decisions cannot be made without consequences.

The end.

25 March 2007

i will write someday soon, i promise.

but until then, here's a little Jackson Browne to hold you over:

"Still I look for the beauty in songs
To fill my head and lead me on
Though my dreams have come up torn and empty
As many times as love has come and gone"

10 February 2007

prayer

may i be so small to myself that my ears are closed to my own self-obsession and open to hear the whimpers of the suffering

30 January 2007

redemption

I believe redemption is this:
It’s the liberating, exhilarating knowledge that no matter how many times I’ve been fucked over, I’m still pure. Men can touch me as much as they want, and that will no longer affect who I am; my actions and those actions done against me, no matter how profane, can no longer hold captive my heart and my person.
Men do not define me anymore, neither through pain or pleasure. My person is whole in itself when that self stands before God and says, “You are abundantly and entirely more than enough”. I am free: free to discern, free to say no, free to be strong. I am redeemed.

Just a portion of my heart was in this captivity; or at least, I would like to believe so. If it was just a portion, it was a very big one. It was big and strong enough that upon realizing this, I am close to tears, joyous tears that stream down my checks as worship to my Redeemer. I can finally hear Him say, "No matter what they've done to you, you are still ok. You're still ok. You're still ok. You're still ok...."

20 January 2007

thoughts on a lazy saturday afternoon

finishing college is becoming more daunting to me as of now then i have ever imagined it to be. and its not because of my heavy class load or financial burden or anything of that nature, but its because finishing college is coming. soon. sooner than i am prepared for. this truth provides much anxiety and sleepless nights for me because the picture of my life i've had for years is starting to come to a close. the film strip is coming to an end, and now i'm looking at the last few frames, vainly trying to imagine what the next roll of film is going to look like before it's put on the projector and i have to start viewing it before my own eyes.

and i know, boo-hoo, poor me, i have the whole world before me and i'm upset that i have so much to choose from--i should be excited, not apprehensive, i should be exhilerated at my choices, rather than intimidated. i should be a lot of things, but i am rarely any of them. i should give all of this up and move to Africa or inner-city Los Angeles; i should be devoting every moment of my time to serving those around me; i should put this new MacBook down and walk out of my appartment with artifacts that betray my wealthy status this very minute and just DO something. but i'm not. (and neither are you, because you sitting here reading this right now.) i'm backing down from my previously-held soap-box from which i proclaimed my devotion to changing the world, i'm chumping out, i've switched my focus, and i'm doing this because i've realized that i can't do a single thing for another person--or at least one that is significant to echo in eternity--if i don't know who i am before God. and I hate that i feel like i have to compartmentalize the two, but this is what i have to do for now. I was faking it before, I'm just praying that when this whole process is over, my goodness will be genuine.

so that's why im afraid to finish college, because i still don't know who i am, and isn't that what you are supposed to do when you go to college? i feel like ive been unravelled more since i've come here; hopefully, though, it will be for something better, something more complete. maybe the thread will unravel to a stool, the more true me; or maybe my thread or yarn was too systematical, too manufactured on its spool, God needs to unravel it so He can knit something beautiful.