Monday, July 12, 2010

Revising expectations, or Wasn't This Supposed To Be Relaxing?

When I set my crazy Shabbatical reading schedule I had no clue I'd be adding in the Renovare Institute reading as well. August should be okay, but being a fulltime mom this month is making that level of reading and notetaking more trouble than I want right now.  So I'm taking out the books that were wonderful tangents and keeping just the Sabbath-focused books.  Here's the new schedule, with Renovare books listed after Shabbatical books. 
7/11/2010--Catch-up and travel
Divine Conspiracy, ch 6-7

7/18/2010--Mudhouse Sabbath, Lauren Winner
Divine Conspiracy, ch 8-10

7/25/2010--Catch-up and projects

8/1/2010--Catch-up and projects
Testament of Devotion, ch 1-2

8/8/2010--The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time, Judith Shulevitz
Testament of Devotion, ch 3-5

8/15/2010--Catch-up and projects
The Great Omission, ch 1-11

8/22/2010--Catch-up and projects
The Great Omission, ch 12-20

8/29/2010--Living the Sabbath, Norman Wirzba and Wendell Berry-- 

9/5/2010--Catch-up and projects
Gospel of the Kingdom 

9/12/2010--Start work on new preaching series: Christianity for Grownups
Gospel of the Kingdom

Friday, July 09, 2010

Divine Conspiracy, Chapter 3

If I can get my youth to read and absorb this chapter, I will feel my ministry time has been worthwhile. In it, Willard describes a world saturated with God, and a Jesus who is, in fact, intelligent and wise. Think you already believe that? Try these on.
  • The universe is an "all-encompassing, all-penetrating world, interactive at every point with our lives, where we can always be totally at home and safe regardless of what happens in the visible dimension of the universe."
  • Space is to God as skin and flesh are to us: physical homes for spiritual beings. Empty space isn't.
  • God is neither the old man in the sky nor is God in your heart.
  • Self-care is not about health care or self-actualization: it is about living with the present reality that you will never stop living. (Great Mickey Mantle example, btw.)
  • Jesus was and is the smartest man in the universe. No, I did not write "wisest" or "gentlest" or "most honorable": smartest. Someone who perfectly understands human relationships and God and molecular structures.  Jesus has "cognitive and practical mastery of every phase of reality: physical, moral, and spiritual....He always has the best information on everything and certainly also on the things that matter most in human life."  He is, therefore, the only one who certainly lives in "the real world" -- that is, ours.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Divine Conspiracy, Chapters 2-4, sort of

I've written up my notes on chapter 2 here, and am working on 3-4. Chapter 2 is the argument set against the 2 main streams of western modern Xn theology. I'm pretty familiar with it, so didn't take a lot of notes, but the gist is there for you.

But I haven't started my notes on 3 and 4, and here's why.

  • Last night Wonderful Husband gets home about 10 pm to find me sitting with DC open in my lap, reading light on, book darts on the table, 2 pens in one hand, cup in the other, teary-eyed. We exchange pleasantries; he gestures toward my soggy voice. I wave DC at him, whereupon he responds, "ah", and goes upstairs to get settled.
  • This morning at 5:15 I was at Peet's with DC and darts, highlighting and notetaking furiously, sometimes laughing out loud, sometimes staring into the ether.
I am constantly awed at the depth and smarts of this book, and continually astonished at how Dallas Willard captures firefly inklings in words.  You know those moments of insight and clarity that shine and slip away (or go poof)? He articulates them, each page so dense with these little lights that my highlight winds up more like daylight than flashlight.

So in my constant care and concern for you, I have resisted simply copying chs. 3-4 and posting them. Notes will come. Soon.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

For your amusement: me in a filbert shell.

This is the self-introduction I just sent off to the Renovare Institute. I hate writing these things so do them as quickly and offhandedly as possible.

I am a disciple, pastor, wife, friend, and mother -- a happy combination I never expected and no one would have predicted. (Okay, maybe the friend part. But really: none of the rest of it.)  I have been a pastor 12 years, a wife 12 years, a mother 2.5 years. For 9 years I was a philosophy teacher; for 3 an editor of legal texts and 3 more a specialized paralegal; for 3 a nonprofit PD and ED.  I hold 3 master's degrees and no PhD, which probably makes me either a dilettante or impatient. Those are some of the resume highlights, if you want to call them that.  I also had multiple tattoos and piercings before they were hip; have raised goats and now have chickens; and waitressed the graveyard shift in a diner in the Castro (San Francisco). That's some of the local color.

Here's the real stuff:  the question that has powered every major decision of my life, every educational focus, every political action, every search and research has been, simply, How should one live?  No other question has ever really mattered. I would have done that PhD by now if that were a "legitimate" research area.  But "how should one live?" isn't about research, but about choices, discipline, circumstance, and trajectory. In my particular case, it's also about the Object of my gaze and the teachers God puts in my path whether I'm ready or not.

Which is why I'll see you all in October.

Schedule update

The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of TimeI was going to start reading Judith Shulevitz' The Sabbath World today, but it's due back at the library in two days and someone is waiting for it.  I'll reschedule it for later this summer, and we'll continue with Heschel's The Sabbath for a couple more days.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Meeting the Sabbath

The SabbathAttached to my computer monitor are two small reproductions of icons. They happen to be Mother of God Directress and Christ the Lifegiver, but nearly any traditional icon would have done.*  Icons are intended to be windows; both their production (known as "writing") and their contemplation give us sight beyond sight, a glimpse of the eternal reality.  On my monitor they remind me of (Orthodox) liturgy, which intends to duplicate that of the angels in the heavens, instantiating their worship on earth, binding the heavens and the earth in one glorious song. To be present to the icon or to the liturgy is to stand in a hyperthin place, on the very boundary between the material and the eternal, basking in and reflecting the heavens' golden glow.  When I take notice of the Mother of God and of the Lifegiver, for a moment I step out of today's technological duty into the real Presence of God.

There is in Heschel's Sabbath a same beauty that glimmers, pervading and perfuming the universe.  Heschel's prose is redolent of Sabbath itself, pointing as it does beyond description and into Reality.

As I consider what keeping sabbath might mean for me and my family, two themes assert themselves: rather than being a cessation from certain activities, sabbath is a presence to be met, and like any beloved guest, welcomed and cherished; and sabbath is a "sanctuary in time" -- reminding me that time is a most precious commodity.

If I do nothing but consider these two themes and live them out, our sabbaths will become icons as powerful as the ones on my monitor, and with God's grace, our lives come to resemble a divine liturgy -- the work of the people of the Heavens.

My in-progress notes on the book are here.

*Yes, I am excluding the lovely contemporary icons at St. Gregory of Nyssa and the Cathedral at Los Angeles, as well as many of those produced by Bridge Building Images, among others.  Their purpose is enshrinement, rather than revelation.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Divine Conspiracy, chapter 1

The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In GodThe first book in the stack for the Renovare Institute is The Divine Conspiracy ["DC"] by Dallas Willard.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, or have reviewed my Facebook fan pages, or have spent much time in my sermonizing, you know my deep respect for Dr. Willard.  He has pierced a thick veil of greyness that suffocates modern understanding of Jesus, revealing the ease and depth of the life within the Kingdom of the Heavens.
Re-reading DC chapter 1, I am again astonished by all I have forgotten about my Lord and about God's plan for each one of us (which is the universal plan, lived out uniquely). Willard describes how truthiness has replaced truth, how the din of clever quippery drowns out the simplest of facts. Then, he states the simple fact: we are petty rulers of the kingdom of our selves invited through Jesus to be powerful participants in the Kingdom of God.   Here is a gist, in a few quotish paraphrases: