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My apologies, a substantial correction to the Calvinator post.  I got a little carried away with poking fun at my Presbyterian classmates.  Today we talked about the Puritans.  As it turns out, Calvin was a big influence on the Puritans.  The Puritans didn’t so much want to protect themselves from the state altogether as to reform the Church of England’s relationship with the state.  They found the problems to be beyond repair.  They took off to the “New World” because they wanted to more or less start from scratch and recreate the Calvin model without the immutable problems of the church in England.  Presbyterians, maybe you weren’t completely dissing Calvin to miss the lecture in for the the Thanksgiving holiday.   

And a further note, we also discussed the Anabaptists.  I’m getting an idea of where the  present day differences of worship expression came from.  Babies versus adults is a question of whether you are baptized into a community (Calvin) or baptized as an outward sign of living according to a a certain faith (Anabaptists).  Curious.  We don’t persecute adult baptisms these days, but it is interesting to see the roots of these issues.  Oh golly-  Heaps to think about and finals demand the end of mind wandering for the next week and a half. 

Peace all.  

P.S. I realize that I don’t always explain my wacky terms and references- like “baptasm”.  Sorry guys, too many random thought to explain.

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First a quick word on the temperature.  I’m freezing!!!  As only a So-Cal weather wimp can.  Outside this morning isn’t that cold actually, but last night’s temperature is still rattling my bones.  Brrrr….  This cold feeling reminds me of my first night of real chill in Nepal.  I took a shower in an outdoor stall at night.  Steam was pouring out of it, but I’m pretty sure that the water temp was cooler than my body’s.  Brrrr!!!!

Golly, but this isn’t about the weather.  Unless you consider the Church of England something you can take the temperature of.  Last Thursday my class took a field trip to hear the Church of England’s Bishop Graham Cray speak on “turning the ocean liner.”  (By ocean liner, he was referring to the Church of England)  I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about what is going in churches in England.  As is true here as well, the shape of church is shifting.  Have I compared the new expressions of church to charter schools yet?  Well churches seem to be popping up in new forms much like charter schools here in California- prolifically.  They are pioneering avenues of reform for often no longer adequate systems.  Anyway, what struck me as particularly lovely about the lecture, was that the bishops and leaders of the merry ol Church of England are advocating for and equipping these “fresh expressions” of church.  Sweet.  It is as if the state department of education is partnering with all the charter school upshots.  Reform is being advocated for from the top, and the those starting something new don’t have to slink around as if they are breaking the rules and rebelling against what came before.  The new expressions can learn in partnership with the wisdom of what has hundreds of years of history and experience.   (I think I discussed what the fresh expressions are looking like in the last blog, so I won’t go into here.)  Hooray for flexibility, imagination, and creativity!  Hooray for mentoring and aged wisdom and partnership!  I guess the temp of the Church of England may well be quite warm with life.  God bless them!

Here’s some of what I was especially enjoying discussing in class on Wednesday…  

The lecture was on what Jesus taught and exemplified…  Breaking down social barriers.  Shared life through shared meals.  Living out Christ’s ethics as a community of believers within the greater community declares God’s Kingdom.  Leadership is washing feet not seats of honor.  The enemy is not Rome or peoples or governments, but Satan.  Great ideas to think about, discuss, and live out!!

Alright, and here’s some of what I didn’t dig in class.   We viewed clips of a television investigative special on who Jesus was.  I realize that I am terribly biased against television news.  Pet peeves-ville.  I should do some investigative introspection on why that is.  When the report started playing eery music behind someone’s simple response to a question, I felt like I was on the “Haunted House” ride or watching the old school “Ripley’s Believer It or Not.”  The message came across as a bit manipulative to me in general.  I had a hard time taking the “news man” to be the objective voice of reason that he is portrayed to be.  I think I see news  shows as too overtly sensational in general.  I get all concerned that the average viewer just takes this sort of thing in as the Truth.  I guess what really bothers me is that this sort of program comes off as objective when it’s just as much subjective perspectives as any op ed. (It wasn’t being presented as the truth in class.)  Let’s agree, discuss, disagree, but let’s not just passively soak it all in.

Two veins of thought running here.  Which one will I go with?  

I’m listening to a little Citizen Cope after a heated discussion and wondering if it will bring the temperature down.  Naw, but it is mellow especially when followed with Jack Johnson (not everyone’s favorite, but I’m fond of him.)  

Which brings me to the nature of the discussion with my neighbors. Disagreement and politics.  As a nation we chose our president this week (congratulations Obama!) and as the state of California we voted on a myriad of emotion charged issues.  Now folks get to sort out their high emotions and put away the attempts to convince, maybe, and hear one another out on why they cast their votes where they cast them.  

Campaign season was rough and full of convictions and condemnations.  I chose to stay away from the media fray as much as possible.   There are some things that I view as persistent but avoidable forms of undesirable input. Advertisements fall pretty high on my list.  I mean the ads for cars, whiter teeth, slim figures and quick solutions in pill or bottle form or whatever prepackaged “You are the center of the universe” American Dream stuff gets flashed at you every six minutes on tv.  

Ads weren’t the only input I was avoiding this election season.  They’re just the standard fare.  The news shows however.  Sheeze.  Are you disheartened  by adults behaving badly too?  Grown adults in suits and skirts with hair in place treating each other to heaping servings of complete disrespect. And the formula of political news shows seems to be that each person is given enough time to say something that really get the other person/people angry and not enough to time or lack of interruption to convey a clear line of thought. This isn’t discourse, this is cacophony.  What to do?  Turn it off?  Flee!!

And so back to where I started.  My neighbor, to whom I immediately gravitated upon meeting (he must be my cousin Nate’s long lost twin), and I had a post election discussion tonight.  We still disagree on the same political points, no surprises there, but I feel like I understand where he’s coming from and where the points of disagreement lie a bit more clearly now.  And I also found common ground in the midst of where we disagree.  I think our discussion helped us to refine one another’s reasoning on the whole situation called voting, ethics, conviction and all.  Well, I can’t speak for him, but the discussion was redeeming for me.  And the sweet thing is that I feel relationally safe in our strongly felt disagreement.  No one declared the other a fear-monger or demon, heretic or hater.  These sorts of discussions could end that way.  

So my thought is that we can work on being safe people with whom to enter into disagreement and discussion.  And as Obama steps into the presidency, we each will be getting the chance to discuss differences and points of commonality with the celebrating and the disappointed.  And hopefully we’ll be taking and making opportunities to put our voting convictions into daily action as well as engaging in conversations to find and develop common ground with those holding varying views.  Here’s to conversations in which we can listen and give space to understand other’s convictions and motivations and graciously communicate ours.  That’s my polemic for pursuing reconciliation and forward movement in the midst of the post-election fray.    

And one more thought.  Many people of prayer have rallied over this election.  So to people of prayer, let’s keep persisting in prayer for the world, our politics and our president regardless of how we all voted.

 

Shoot!

The Baby

 

 

The Boy

 

So here I am daily hardly being able to stand it.  You try going to program overviews with course options like “Child Soldiers” and “Poverty and Development” or “Relief, Refugees and Conflict”.  Or how about this one, “Globalization and the Poor.”  I’m giddy from the center of my core.  Not like I’ll take a class and save the world giddy, but I just can’t believe  that I get to study subjects that I’m used to just reading articles aobut.  As one Prof put it today, who spent 20 years working with World Vision, “We won’t necessarily be able to give you answers, but we will be able to help you better articulate the questions.”  There is a beauty and purpose that is not of our design that is woven of our haphazard good intent and action, but oh to be able to step back and begin to understand some of the pattern and more intentionally and purposefully join in!  I’m looking forward to this.  

Metanarrative.  I want to look at the story about the story, so to speak.  I’m looking forward to being self-reflective about the actions being taken, about the serving process in regards to areas where service is most needed or lacking.  (Did I  mention that I hope to become more articulate?)  

Well my dear dear pal E. Jayne just arrived, so I had better away.  More to come of course.