Monday, November 27, 2006

Pies alegres

The best musical I've seen in years. But, of course, like all musicals, it has some serious character/story/continuity flaws. Nevertheless, as my brother-in-law says, "it's amusing."

If for no other reason, you really ought to see Happy Feet for the amigos. You'll know who I mean.

As for the flaws . . . I'm glad I'm not the only one who saw them.


The annual question: what are you thankful for?

And my answer this year is weird. I mean, I could say that I'm thankful for my husband, my friends, my church, my family, my dog . . . it's all true. I am thankful for all those things. But this year, as everyone around me seemed to be thankful for the things I would usually mention, I was just thankful for Thanksgiving itself.

I am thankful for the break--for the time when pretty much everyone in the country decided to take it easy, hang out at home, or spend good times with friends and family. I have a hard time resting when I know people are working and trying to be productive without me . . . so as I continue to live this grown-up life in which I go to work five days a week, I'm beginning to appreciate holidays so much more. This holiday, for me, was Sabbath. I was freed up to rest--or at least, to not work--and I am so thankful. Heck, I'm thankful that I live a life that I can be grateful for.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Discovering my heritage

I have been told all my life that I resemble Jodie Foster, but finally a computer confirms it. She and I just have this connection; I've always loved her acting--she's feminine, but never girlie. And thanks to Jodie Foster and the Very Large Array, we now know that if there's no other intelligent life in the universe, it's a pretty big waste of space.

It's good to know my celebrity roots.

Friday, November 10, 2006


If you believe the U.N., Norway is the best place on earth to live. Their literacy rate, healthcare, income, and education levels all soar above most other nations, making Norwegians some of the healthiest and wealthiest people in the world.

But maybe not the most blessed.

Apparently, even with all of those wonderfully high living conditions, they seem to be quite the whiny lot, and are at a bit of a loss to find solutions for their crowded healthcare system (which, though they complain about it, allows them to live some of the longest lives on the planet).

I watched a short film yesterday called Rich, featuring Rob Bell of Mars Hill. I've seen quite a few of these nooma films, and I really appreciate their thoughtful, fresh, artful approach to the Christian faith.

I liked this one, too, but one thing really stuck in my mind:

I see these bumper stickers that say, "God bless America," and I think, "God has blessed America."

The film goes on to remind viewers that our world--the world in which most of us have cars (even if they're crappy) and have enough to eat each day--is not the world. I grew up hearing this just about every day, and I think it's something we all need to realize. People everywhere are starving, dying of diseases that are totally and completely curable, and by and large that is not our reality here in North America. Therefore, we have the great freedom--and responsibility--to share what we have in order to feed, clothe, and give shelter to the poor around the world. Of that I am certain.

However, I'm intrigued by what "the best place to live" and "blessed" really mean to the U.N. and to Rob Bell--and to the rest of us. The world's most healthy and comfortable nations (again, according to the U.N.) are Norway, Australia, Ireland, Sweden, Canada, Japan, and the United States. Yet the people living in each of these nations are some of the unhappiest--and most secular--on earth.

Rob Bell looks around at America and says, "We are blessed."

I'm not looking at statistics here, but it seems to me that materially, yes--we are. But the Church in our corner of the world is diseased, and spiritually, its people are starving and naked. When I look at the Church in the rest of the world, I see people who have learned to trust in God for their next meal; to serve Him despite violent consequences; to worship Him joyfully; and to live contentedly in community.

Yes, I know that is a bit of a rose-colored view of the global Church. I know it is not all like that. But it seems to me that what many call blessing is actually a curse.

A curse, interestingly enough, that we are supposed to share with the rest of the world. I have been told so many times that
  1. I am evil because I have too much stuff and my luxury is at the expense of the poor.
  2. Poor people around the world are righteous and will inherit the Kingdom.
  3. I should give poor people my stuff because I have too much and they don't have anything.
There is biblical support and truth to all of these statements. But when I put them together, this is the very disturbing logical conclusion I come up with:

If we rich Americans give away all our stuff, poor people will now be rich (and therefore as spiritually destitute as we currently are), which is no better than the current state of things.

Because "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," I must conclude that our wealth, our comfort, and our abundance are not necessarily a blessing. Wealth is probably not inherently good or bad, but combined with our human nature, it can be toxic to our spiritual well-being. With this knowledge, we must be very careful not to recklessly dump our wealth on the poor; so in fact our responsibility as rich Christians is that much heavier.

Not only must we be generous and compassionate, but we are also called to help the recipients of our gifts to keep from becoming as apathetic, faith-less, and enamored with the things of this world as we are.

Otherwise, we're just playing a global game of hot potato with the hazardous material of wealth.

I don't envy the poor. I never wanted to live in a war-ravaged land led by tyrants who starve their people. I don't want my children to wear rags. I just think we should remember that God draws near to the poor--and it is, perhaps, easier for the poor to draw near to Him. But they are blessed. Jesus said so.

As for those of us who eat three (or four) meals a day and sleep in comfortable beds . . . I'm not quite so sure.

All I know is that we have work to do, and we better be prayerful, careful, and quick about it.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Where have I been?

I'd like to say I've been blog-fasting, or something so noble-sounding as that. It's so rare in our culture to truly refrain from anything--even for a short period of time--so I would like to be able to justify my absence with such a self-controlled explanation.

I suppose, in some ways, without being aware of it I have been fasting, now that I think of it. I've been praying and reading the Bible more, and perhaps, in making that a high priority, other things (like blogging) have gotten squeezed out. Whatever the reason, it's just been hard to find the time recently. But (for now, at least) I'm back.

In other news, Mr. Incredible now has a blog. I'll wait to share the URL until he's ready to make a public appearance. He can be rather shy; family legend reveals that, when he was learning to talk, he kept his silence in public and practiced alone in his room until he was able to speak in complete sentences. Hopefully, since his first blog posts are far from rudimentary or incomplete, he'll be O.K. with people reading his blog sometime soon.

I've got lots of things on my mind, but they'll have to wait till the weekend, when I have more time to type away! For now, I must focus on planning the next issue of Seek, putting together a daily prayer guide, and pulling a whole lot of web content out of thin air.

That probably doesn't sound like fun to most people, but actually I think I might enjoy it.

Printed inside my carton of blackberries this morning

To the question of your life,
you are the only answer.
To the problems of your life,
you are the only solution.

Oh, yeah, that's a great thing to teach the next generation.