Tuesday, November 8, 2011

3 Month Recap

Needless to say, my life has changed dramatically in the last 3 months.

When I first began to look at the potential of grad school, my heart was warmed by the thought of a blank map and a willingness to travel anywhere I might desire.

That, of course, led me to Ft. Worth, Texas. And, of course, that was unendingly frustrating for quite some time, but I do love my school and I am getting used to 70 degrees in November.

While being frustrated that I was going to Texas, that move landed me a great summer job in a surprisingly refreshing island of blue amidst the sea of red. Also, my best friend was moving to Texas, so that was nice too. At least if I wasn't going to be too far from home a little piece of home could come with me.

Right before the move that friend and I started dating. So my plan to tackle the city as a newly blossomed single adult changed slightly to excitement that at least we would be close to each other.

And then, not quite 5 months after making the move which was supposed to be my declaration of freedom and opportunity to become a real person-- I realized I had fallen in love and needed to join my life to that boy's life as soon as possible.

That's the basics-- and if I've learned anything, it's this: don't even bother trying to plan your life. If I had things my way I'd be living somewhere on a coast and who knows what else. But somehow I ended up in Texas and God knew what was going on the whole time. This is never how I expected my life to go and I am unendingly happy. God's plans are so much bigger and better and surprising and perfect. So trust and look and walk ahead in faith.

So I've stopped planning. I figure, playing life by ear has worked pretty great so far and God has certainly provided.

This much I know: in 277 days my last name will change and we will start our new family here in this season-less state that I never thought I'd ever call home. And one year from there-- who knows where we'll be?

I thought I wanted an adventure. But God knew that first I needed a partner to adventure with me.

Here's to the unknown, the sweetness of surprise, and a life commitment to my best friend,

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sola Scriptura is impossible

The more I live, the more I am convinced that there is no such thing as "scripture alone." Every reading of scripture is an interpretation. Every translation of scripture is an interpretation. No matter how objective I think I might be, I still come to the text as a 21 year old, white, female, middle class, graduate student, who thinks a certain way, and has lived a certain experience-- all things which will necessarily influence how I read the text.

Even Martin Luther, the espouser of the doctrine, is perhaps the best example of all. Certainly he read into Paul his experience the Catholic church and his distaste of legalism. If you ask N.T. Wright, we've all misunderstood Paul ever since.

Just a little something I've been thinking. Comments welcome.

Here's to embracing the entire quadrilateral.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I don't know why I even try.

This always happens. I start something so good and then reality gets in the way and I have no followthrough.

Well, I have been in grad school for approximately six days now and I have already learned a few things. First and foremost: I underestimated. This is, of course, my general tendency. But the reality is-- as my father likes to say-- the higher you climb up the degree ladder, the more it consumes your life.

Let me back up and give you the good news.

I have class only on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, beginning each at one o'clock in the afternoon. This is, I do believe, the perfect schedule.

However, having now been to my third graduate level class, I realized that taking 12 hours means that I only get to pick about two things to care about other than school. In other words, my new life resolutions are basically out the window.

The reality is, I'm thus far trying to be disciplined enough to get up and study in the morning so that for my break I can go work out. This is necessary because if I am not intentional to go run on machines I will spend my entire day sitting-- as that is generally the best position for reading, translating, writing papers, and going to class.

Also, I have a boyfriend that lives only a little over an hour away that I would prefer to see on occasion.

So between trying not to eat terrible things, working out, the boyfriend, and school I'm basically maxed out. There is no time (or money) for once a week coffee shop ventures or newsweek or local politics.

I am standing by my commitment to do my dishes (a much easier task now that I have a dishwasher!) and make my bed... at least as soon as I get the bed slats from IKEA, but that is another story.

So friends, as much as I have enjoyed a summer of trying to keep up with the world and thoughts of publishing devos, etc., I think that the realities of being a good blogger are unrealistic for my life right now. I honestly have no idea how people do this grad school thing with spouses and children. It's mind-boggling.

It's not you, it's me.

Ok. I am kind of breaking up with you. But! I may still post on occasion should the Spirit still move. I am apparently taking a PhD seminar on Ezekiel so I'm sure that I will have plenty of fodder, I'm just afraid proclaiming it to cyberspace has dropped down my list of to-do's.

I think I had a point when I started this, but thinking about my massive reading list it dropped from mind.

In other news: I'm trying a new pork recipe tonight so wish me luck. :)

All my love.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Reject Fear

Sometimes, I think that Christians treat Jesus as some sort of cosmic 401k.

Which place would you like to be after  you die? Would you like to be sure that you don't end up in the terrible one?

I am so tired of this. It misses the point on so many levels.

For the first, if someone turns to Christ only because they are afraid of Hell, I doubt they'll stay there very long. Rather, I think this leads to the "faith" which only causes a person to doubt their salvation over and over and over again-- afraid that they may have missed one of the crucial steps to secure their place in Heaven.

Fear has no place when it comes to Christianity because God is love and perfect love casts out fear.

What is the other option?

I think this comes easily when one looks at the realities of Heaven and Hell. Heaven is the best place imaginable and Hell the worst (and beyond, for both). But why? Heaven is only good because it is the fullness of God's presence and Hell is only terrible because it is an absence of God's presence.

I cannot come to Christ seeking Heaven. I can only come seeking Christ.

The good news is if we seek Him and His kingdom, all these things will be given unto us as well.

But there's more good news. If the only good thing about Heaven is the presence of Christ, then I already have that. Not to say that this world could ever be Heaven-- it can't. But the thing I will have in full there, I experience more and more every day that I am here. Heaven is now, it is a reality in which I live.

All I'm trying to say is this: do we focus on the afterlife at the expense of focusing on the person of Christ? Does Heaven become just another gift we seek instead of the Giver?

Just something to think about.

All my founts are in you, Jesus.

Here's to embracing life now.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Harry Potter and the Identity of Christ

I have been looking forward to writing this post for quite a while now, but I wanted to wait until I saw the last movie to gather my thoughts. Fair warning, I will try to avoid spoilers, but no promises. So, sorry in advance if you haven't read/seen the end yet, this post is all about the end of the series.

Ironically, the Harry Potter series has helped me come to a better understanding of something that has always been hard for me to come to terms with-- namely, the humanity of Christ. It is easy for me to understand that Jesus is God, that he should be worshipped, that he has been exalted to the right hand of the Father, etc. That's probably why John is my favorite gospel, its Christology is the highest (and it tells the best stories!). I really didn't even realize this was a problem until I took life of Christ my junior year at OBU. But it turns out that although I would have of course affirmed that Jesus was both 100% man and 100% God, I didn't really have any conception of what that actually meant.

So how has Harry Potter helped? It's actually easier for me to see in the movies-- partially because they simplified some of the stubbornness of his character-- but Harry's struggle with his identity and what he must do for the good of the wizarding world seems to have some definite parallels to the way Jesus must have wrestled with his identity.

When Harry was a baby, it was prophesied that he would be the chosen one, that his identity and destiny were intimately tied up with that of Voldemort-- and thus, the fate of his entire world. As he learns more and more what this means, he finally comes to the point where he must choose to die in order (basically) to save the world. He must lay down his life willingly and for those whom he loves. In the movie, I watched him struggle with this new revelation in a way that reminded me particularly of Gethsemane. Thinking, "I don't really want to do this, I'm terrified, but I must."

Of course, the parallel isn't perfect. Although Harry and Jesus both make their sacrifice out of love, I think obedience to God is an important part of Jesus decision which does not really occur in the Harry Potter series. There is not a divine figure in the series, and although Dumbledore comes closer than anyone else, Harry is not sitting on the steps of Hogwarts thinking, "Not my will, but yours." There is a sort of obedience component to Harry's actions since Dumbledore is the one who told him what would be necessary, but it's not as if Harry's sacrifice was a plan that Dumbledore had up his sleeve the whole time. Rather, circumstances more than anything dictates the choice which Harry must make.

So although Jesus' quest for his own identity was probably not quite as messy as Harry's (and he had the Holy Spirit to help him figure it out), I do think that at times I forget that dying on the cross was an actual terrifying decision that Christ had to make in order to be obedient to that which God had called him to be. Of course, now would be a good time to include my favorite cinematic rendition of this moment. It comes from The Miracle Maker-- yes! Claymation Jesus! This scene is actually cartoon because whenever something is happening in Jesus' head (for lack of better term), like the temptation etc., they do it in drawn-animation instead of claymation (which is, of course, one of the most brilliant aspects of the film to me). Also, ironically, Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort) plays Jesus. Video won't let me embed, so find it here:


I should say, it's not as if Jesus was just some Joe Blow who became the savior of the world. From his infancy, random people would pick up the baby Jesus and talk about the Lamb of God. Probably his talk about the bird and the bees with Mary was interesting to say the least. For sure, he and John the Baptist both had it figured out by his baptism when God reaffirmed it, and I'm assuming he knew something by the time he's blowing rabbis' minds in the temple at age 12.

But as a human, Jesus wrestled with his call just like the rest of us. He constantly sought time with his Father in order to do his ministry and he did everything he did by the work of the Holy Spirit. And at least once, he sat in a garden and said, "Are you sure God? This is the way?"

It should be noted, the struggle is real. It is not sinful-- it is even expected! But at the end each of us must follow our savior's example and come to the conclusion, "Not my will, but yours be done," at which point we pick up our crosses and follow him.

Sometimes, I forget that. But Harry Potter reminded me. That's all I'm trying to say.

Oh, if you'd like someone who disagrees with me totally, you can find it here. I think he misreads Harry's return and that he comes back because of the greater magical power of love, but whatever. Just a little something to spice up the discussion.

All truth is God's truth.
Here's to using my baccalaureate education to the best of my ability.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Too Legit to Quit.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have legitimized myself as a blogger. This is my first post from my new MacBook Pro... or as I have been calling it, my iToy. I absolutely love it. Here's the very first thing I did (because, obviously the most important thing for a new computer is a desktop picture):

So as soon as I figure out how to use iBlog or whatever it is that could make this place snazzier, maybe I'll make this place a little snazzier.

Here's to owning way too much computer for my purposes.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pacifism and Safety

Long story short, living alone in a big house has got me thinking about safety. Is there a way to protect myself while maintaining my commitment to non-violence?

I suppose I should back up. Last weekend I heard what sounded like someone trying to get in my backdoor twice. After calling the police and having a mild panic attack, Scott talked me down and a very big (and nice) officer came and checked out my backyard. There was nothing there and the officer also drove around the block a couple times so I felt safe enough to go to bed.

Now, I know that I did the right thing, calling the police and having them come make sure everything was ok. But I had been in kind of a terrible position. I didn't really have anything to protect myself-- not even a baseball bat. The officer said I should consider getting a gun-- but I don't really believe in guns and as my mother said, "Unless you also plan on getting shooting lessons you have no business owning something you don't know how to use."

Very well put.

Further, I don't know that I could ever point a gun at someone-- even if my life was in danger. Call me stupid, but don't forget that it takes me a good 15 minutes to squash a bug. (That happened to me AGAIN, btw. I really need to grow a pair.) So even if the gun wasn't loaded, I don't think I could be intimidating pointing an empty gun at someone anyway.

So until then, I ordered pepper spray and I am always sure to lock all of my deadbolts. Also, I'm considering finding a place to take Krav Maga lessons. It's always been my dad's preferred method of self defense, and I heard it did wonders for J-Lo's bottom when she was preparing for her role in Enough. I call that a win-win.

But even in my rejection of guns, I can't help but wonder-- can a pacifist really embrace pepper spray and martial arts? Is it enough to settle for only non-lethal methods of self-defense?

I can't help but think of the words of Jesus, "Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it." (Luke 9:24 NRSV)

Now, because my mother reads this, I'm putting up a disclaimer now. If someone breaks into my house, I'm going to pepper spray them and call the police-- and figure out the theological implications of my decision later.

And ultimately, my life is always in God's hands and every breath I take is by his grace. So above all, I trust him with my safety.

But, just because I trust God to give me my daily bread doesn't mean I'm quitting my job and saying, "I don't need a paycheck, God will take care of me." And just because I trust God to protect me doesn't mean I'm going to leave all my doors unlocked and put a sign out front that says, "I live alone, break in at will!"

So where do I come out in the end? Unsure. But ready with some pepper spray, prayer, a cell phone... and possibly a new work out regimen.

So what should a Christian think about self defense? Where is the balance between practical and faithful? Thoughts?