Thursday, February 28, 2008
Previously, I had years of encouraging spiritual formation through programming. I was always surveying small group material and trying to find the best teaching videos because people had such little time for prep. They would grow if I found the right study guide and a video to put in their hand. Now I know (and Willow Creek Church has confessed after a thorough study) that spiritual formation cannot be programmed. Information is wonderful and vital but people need to experience authentic relationships committed to love and community in order to experience the gospel.
Our small group has kept the focus on getting to know each other and laughing together while doing things like watching “Napoleon Dynamite” and eating tater tots. We have no programming but have had great discussions. We are building community and genuinely like/love each other. I have no doubt that if someone voiced a frustration that the entire group would give their time and energy toward dealing with it. That doesn’t happen in a church. Focus is on the task, the event, the numbers, the publicity, and so on… with little energy left on the intentional focus of working through disagreements. I know there are exceptions in churches and it is not as black and white as I am describing it here. I’m just sharing my own personal experience in more than one church.
I know some people think we left because we wanted our way with how things were done on Sunday mornings. The truth is that we would have never joined in the first place and encouraged others to join if we had been told from the beginning how Sunday mornings were really going to go. We were very clear about our hopes and dreams for a church that drew in others already disillusioned by their past experiences. Now we stand outside with the rest of the disillusioned and hold out hope that somehow it’s still possible to find ways to love God and love each other.
Monday, February 18, 2008
We have seen other exhibits at the museum but none has ever made an impact like this one on me. I moved from display to display with the words “fearfully and wonderfully made.” The design and interdependence of each system spoke of an “otherness” to me. I can still see the “skeleton” of just the arteries, veins and capillaries of the body from head to toe. Yes, capillaries which were an amazing mesh of red strings. We were also taken by the “map” of the central nervous system laying out the main nerves that run from the brain to the limbs. I am way past experiencing a childlike awe that comes from a new discovery but these exhibits threw me back to that feeling. Its one thing to look at a diagram in a book or a model but its surreal to actually see the reality of what lies under your own skin mirrored in front of you.
There was a section of the exhibit that contained different stages of fetuses. There was a warning and an exit so you entered this section by choice. I don’t regret going through that section because it only confirmed my stance against abortion. Of course, I do acknowledge the gray areas like the 10 year old who just delivered a baby as a result of rape. But this exhibit is yet another tool that reveals that life is visible in a matter of days.
Then there’s the ethical question of whether or not these bodies should have been used in this way. We did not see the special on 20/20 about the exhibit but Chuck had taped it. We weren't aware of the articles such as this one from ABC News. We watched the 20/20 segment later that day and debated whether or not we would have gone. Chuck is sure he would not have and I am still on the fence. As a teacher I saw it as one of the best teaching tools that I have ever seen. I really have a desire to take much better care of myself than I do. I don’t smoke but there were lungs of a smoker next to a plexiglass case where several people had dropped their packs of cigarettes after viewing the black lungs. I could see this giving the younger generation a new regard for their bodies and some even encouraged to pursue a career in a medical field. I can only hope that these people were treated with dignity and respect. I suspect that was not always the case. It was apparent that there was a reverence and respect around each body as people spoke in whispers and refrained from touching what is now plastic. Hopefully, these bodies will bring honor to the souls that once rested in them.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Bekka is part of the band, R~U~Us, along with Chuck Wiggins who played brilliantly, I must say, and I’m not just saying that because we’re married. I am also proud and amazed by the arranging he did of these pieces and his creation of musical charts for other instruments such as the cello. This was a new musical stretch for him and it worked. Of course, Big Red, the digital accordion made a couple of appearances to our delight.
Janet Metter, the beautiful cellist player, (a beautiful lady and a beautiful cello player) is such a wonderful addition to Bekka’s music and R~U~Us. I was telling Janet that the cello really connected with the intensity of the song lyrics. It gave voice to the depth of meaning. I don’t think I could hear the songs without the cello now.
Steve Metter, “the Sleeve”, is a really cool guy (and husband of Janet) and he looks even cooler when he’s playing the bass in R~U~Us. Steve is a serious bass player with a great sense of humor - wonderful combination during a tense music practice. Just ask Steve to explain the meaning of the word “coda.”
Yvan Verbesselt, the drummer, has been our friend for years. It has been amazing to watch the process of Yvan stretching himself from playing the zydeco washboard to a full drum kit. He has come a long way and continues to accept each musical challenge as it comes along. Of course, he has the help of his beautiful wife, Martine, whom we are grateful to have a long friendship with as well. You can catch Yvan with the Cajun band, Lagniappe.
I sang back-up vocals on a few songs. I think I hit the right notes somewhere in the 50% range. Next time I’m going for 75%! Not to make excuses but I have had problems with my throat this winter and have recently found relief with a nasal spray and Prilosec. Apparently, I’ve had enough acid reflux to create a mild asthmatic cough which kept my throat constantly irritated. Who knew?
Anyway, it was unfortunate that the weather kept some away but I hope more performances are to come and you get another chance. The combination of these wonderful musicians with a vocalist who has performance running through her veins is not to be missed. In this day and age of pop vocalists achieving celebrity status you have to shake your head and wonder why? Bekka revives my hope that someday we’ll lose the “American Idol” image of instant celebrity and support those who have earned their stripes and have the pipes!
You can catch Bekka at the HamSlam at Miami Hamilton Downtown. You can also catch some of us at Creativa (formerly known as the FreeSlam) at Tanze Performing Arts Studio in Fairfield.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)
Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.
The book that is almost touching my computer is "Pagan Christianity? Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices" by Frank Viola and George Barna. I mentioned this book in a previous post.
(He's discussing the common terms for clergy in the fourth century....) So did "Master of Ceremonies," and "Grand Master of the Lodge." All of this reinforced the mystique of the clergy as the custodians of the mysteries of God. In short, by the end of the fourth century on into the fifth, the clergy had become a sacerdotal caste - a spiritually elite group of "holy men."
I know I'm breaking the rules but my eyes hit this quote and I can't let it go. On the previous page there was a quote by Karl Barth: "The term 'laity' is one of the worst in the vocabulary of religion and ought to be banished from the Christian conversation." I'll just let that speak for itself.