Wednesday, March 24

That Old-Time Religion, or, Orthodoxy Tonight

I went to catechesis at the Orthodox Christian church again tonight. It always blows my mind. In a good way. It always creates disequilibrium... *sometimes I get grouchy!!* :-)

I never knew that Augustine had been influenced by Gnosticism. I never knew that the duality of reality inherent in the Gnostic heresy (flesh and spirit are totally separate, the flesh is completely inferior) was the seedbed for the doctrine of original sin. Makes total sense with everything else I know, though.

The Eastern Orthodox view is that God created both flesh and spirit, that both are good. Sin is and will definitely (and soon) influence a child; but a child is not evil by very nature.

What if Dr. Warren was right? What if our salvation did not HAVE to be by substitutionary atonement? When you have original sin and are guilty before the day you are born, what else is there but to be judged and found guilty? Jesus' blood paid for our guilty, sad-sack selves. (This idea was introduced by Anselm.)

What if we are living in something that is in actuality much more like a hospital than like a courtroom? *This idea comes from St. Basil, one of the two great writers of the Christian Liturgy; the song-prayer that ALL of Christendom sang as ONE for around 1,200 years?? (and longer.)* What if sin has made us all very sick?? What if Jesus invites us to be made well and whole? What if the blood of Jesus is more like a transfusion than it is like money??

What if the main show was NOT the Crucifixion, but the empty tomb??

Tuesday, March 9

Pretty in a Jar

So, I have this stuff I call "Pretty in a Jar." It's the powder with the minerals; you girls know what I'm talking about. This powder does not work miracles, but it can improve a lot. It cannot change your face. But it can give a little smoothness, a little glow.

Feeling loved is like that. I can see this today. I see it in:

* a news story about a couple about to celebrate 75 years of marriage.
* a situation where understanding is needed, not information.
* a friend who has a new boyfriend.
* a wife who calls when life hits. Life is so *ARGH* sometimes; it does a number on couples.
* a wife who is told by her husband after years of marriage that she is his best friend.

I'm sure that this principle works both ways; but I've only ever been a female. I have to write from that perspective. You see, there are two different things. One is being loved. Nothing is more valuable than that. Real love is what holds the galaxies together.

This blog entry is not about real love at all. It is about feeling loved. Ideally, feeling loved is accompanied by real love, but it isn't always.

When I was a little girl, I went to my grandma's house all dressed up. When she complimented me, legend has it that I replied, "I likes to look pretty sometimes!!" Now I realize that it’s not just me. All of womankind is this way.

If I could take all the husbands and boyfriends of my friends into a room and chat, if I had just one thing to say, I would say this: When your woman feels loved, it is Pretty in a Jar. A man's love literally makes a woman prettier. I cannot describe how true this is. The prettiness comes from the inside and radiates out all over the woman. I’ve felt the ‘pretty power’ myself on occasion. When a woman feels loved, it does not change the face of life. But it smoothes things out; gives it a little glow.

Thank you for the glow that you give us. We likes to look pretty sometimes.

Saturday, March 6

Thoughts on Silence

by: Unknown as published in the book With Open Hands
by Henri Nouwen

Silence is night
and just as there are nights
with no moon and no stars
when you're all alone
totally alone
when you're cursed
when you become a nothing
which no one needs--
so there are silences
which are threatening
because there is nothing except
the silence
there can be nothing except
the silence.
Even if you open your ears
and your eyes
it keeps going on
without hope or relief.
Night with no light, no hope
I am alone
in my guilt
without forgiveness
without love.
Then, desperately, I go looking
for friends
then I walk the streets
a body
a sign
a sound
for nothing.

But there are also nights
with stars
with a full moon
with the light from a house
in the distance
and silences which are peaceful
and reflective
the noise of a sparrow
in a large empty church
when my heart wants to sing out
with joy
when I feel that I'm not alone
when I'm expecting
or remember
a couple words
from a poem I read lately
when I lose myself in a
Hail Mary
or the somber voice of a psalm
when I am me
and you are you
when we aren't afraid of
each other
when we leave all talk to
the angel
who brought us the silence
and peace.

Thursday, March 4

Silent Auction of Sadness

I went to the most horrible silent auction tonight. It was at the school where I teach. All types of folks were invited to the auction; not just the school staff types.

Before the auction started, we were read the things that an elementary school is supposed to BE in order to accomplish what it must do; educate. (I could wax dogmatic and talk about the future of our nation, the hearts and lives of precious children...)

We were then given a bidding sheet. On the sheet were services/programs that the elementary school department of USD 259 currently provides. On that list:

* 5-day school week
* All-day Kindergarten
* Alternative Education (think behavior disorder programs)
* Art
* Assistant principals
* Class size (research shows that small class size is profoundly and directly linked to achievement)
* Clerical
* Counselor
* Custodial
* Field Trips
* Foreign Language
* Latchkey
* Learning coaches
* Magnet schools
* Music (orchestra)
* Music (vocal)
* Librarians
* Nurse
* Para-educators
* Parent Involvement Workers
* P.E.
* Pre-Kindergarten
* Professional development
* Professional Learning Communities
* School building budget (classroom supplies, equipment, etc.)
* Social Worker
* Summer programs (enrichment, latchkey)
* Team time
* Transportation (includes any district bussing)
* Technology

For our bids, each person was given fifteen red dots. We were asked to decide which of these positions and services we value the most. Chart paper with each of the categories above was placed at the front of the room.

You see, the state of Kansas has a budget shortfall. Its checks to fund schools are running late to districts around Kansas. During the middle of this school year, several million dollars in current-year budget money was taken away. (Around $13M?) From USD 259 alone, further projected cuts for the 2010-2011 school year are about $25M.

I learned today that cuts of that magnitude mean that USD 259 could take all of the monies used for salary from unrestricted funds, from administration all the way down… and still not be able to cover what the state is asking of USD 259 alone (and all districts are affected) to make up its deficit.

At our auction, we had the opportunity to voice our values. We took each of our fifteen stickers, and placed them on the programs and services that we think most essential… the ones that if they WERE cut, would hurt kids the most.

I appreciate the way USD 259 has been handling these choices; at multiple times and in multiple places, the district is providing opportunities for all in the community to provide input into what matters most about schools. These meetings will happen at every school across the district. The data will be compiled, and it will give USD 259 another avenue to get an idea of what the community values most about schools.

I am the least political of all God’s creatures… True story! I felt that this was one opportunity to give input that I knew I could not miss. My heart felt like lead as I made my bids… and left some things behind.

Education is the profession that creates all others.

Please educate yourself, and let your voice be heard.

Wednesday, March 3

Maritime Moment

Ever love a place just because it is so different from your own? I come back to this picture time and again...

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