Thursday, November 30, 2006

Recreating the Church

This is an idea that seems to float about in the emergent conversation. These words get bandied about. For example, Makeesha writes: "Can we create a new and more effective Body of Christ that better glorifies the multifaceted beauty of our Living Lord?"

From an Orthodox perspective, any such question MUST be approached in the forum of personal repentance, I think. I have to ask: Can I become a new and more effective servant of Christ who better glorifies the multifaceted beauty of my Living Lord? And that is why I go to confession. And that I way I engage in the ancient disciplines of the Church. That is why I learn to fast, pray and give alms both in time and money. That is why there are intercessory prayers offered up on behalf of all.

But the idea of recreating the Church...this doesn't sit well with me. Who are we, to take such power into our own hands? Who are we to stand in such judgment on our brothers and sisters? Because the Church is not just the ones I see when I go to a certain place on Sunday morning, or Saturday night, or whenever. It includes those who have already fought the fight and who are interceding for us in heaven. We are one body, and to speak of "recreating" something as holy and precious as the Church of Christ, whom He has made His pure and spotless bride, is presumptuous.

Now, if we want to use different language, and challenge the people of God to works of mercy, to purer lives, to living the gospel in new and deeper ways, this I can wholeheartedly endorse. But missional living is nothing new. It may be a new word to define a certain phenomenon, but I would offer up St. Juliana of Lazarevo, St. John of Kronstadt, St. Xenia of Petersburg, St. Herman of Alaska and espcially St. Maria (you know, the one in Paris) as a examples of missional saints. The list could go on and on. This is nothing new. From where I sit, intentional community is room temperature, and saints such as these are those we strive to immitate.

The Church, then, does not need something new. She needs something ancient. She does not need us to recreate her, but rather WE need to be recreated by the great physician and healer, Christ.

So perhaps we agree in principle, but not in the language being used.

Talk to me.

Taking on the Hydra

I've decided to educate myself about all this somewhat new-fangled "Emergent/Emerging" stuff. I got some friends, you see, and have been engaging in coffee shop discussions. New words like "missional" come up on a fairly regular basis. It's time I find out just what my new friends are talking about.

I say "somewhat new-fangled" because it was Eleven years ago that I graduated seminary, and this stuff was nowhere on the radar screen back then. I seem to have escaped into Eastern Orthodoxy just in time. But I will admit that I've studiously avoided the rumblings in the blogosphere these past few years. I realize I'm not hip, or up to date, and quite honestly, if asked, I'd be hard pressed to give a definition of just what it means to be "post modern". Does secretly wishing I had a tatoo count? I doubt it. And dang it, I own neither an ipod nor a laptop (but my husband does).

And without actually going out and spending money on actual books, I'm having a hard time grasping the concepts...and maybe that is the point. Perhaps this thing really is as multifaceted as it seems. I keep schlepping myself over to the Emergent Village in hopes of reading something of substance but all there seems to be are short blog posts concerning conferenece registrations. Bleh. I suppose I may have to actually download some mp3's and listen in. The very thought!

So, I was reading up on missional and my reaction was "...well, DUH!" what else would the Church be? It's like our little crowd here in the greater Lexington area emerged out of evangelicalism and into intentional (Eucharistic) community, (read: Orthodox), long before the movement began. History repeats itself and neither were we the first to trod that path, and the least I can say is that the Emergent crowd have perhaps some valid criticisms of the Evangelicalism from whence they sprang. Much of it seems quite reactionary, though.

So, yesterday while blogreading I read an article (deemed useless by some and helpful by others) by a fellow I've never heard of named Brett Kunkle entitled "Essential Concerns Regarding the Emerging Church". This of course written from an Evangelical perspective. Oddly enough, my reaction to the article was strange. He contrasts Evangelical orthodoxy (notice the small o) with some of the Emergent thinking floating through the ether, and what I noticed was that much of what is Evangelical orthodoxy were the very points the questioning of which drove me into the Arms of the Orthodox Church. So, I am intrigued. Like here is a great conversation waiting to happen. Ooo, listen to me. I'm already picking up on some of the lingo. And I do like coffee.

My point would be, there are some points of departure and commonality worth exploring. My invitation to those Emerging would be: Don't dismiss out of hand the notion of exploring a Church that has managed to be trans/super-cultural, enculturated variously in both time and space and yet consistent in it's praxis and belief, while remaining personally transformational to millions of Christians for two thousand years. It might just be relevant in this time and place, post-modern though it is, as well.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


You see, I've had the same hairstyle since Junior High. That was 1982. Well, to be precise I've had the same three hair-do's since Junior High. Either it's shoulder length or longer with some layers (also known as growing out a short haircut) or it's a bob of some form...or something in between. The only variation has been length. I never had the "Rachel" or that cute flippy hair cut that is so "thirtysomethingmomish". No variety, no updates...nothing to be done.

Until now. I always despaired that my hair (which is not the MOST curly hair in the world, but is very very stubborn in its own right) was the sort of hair that I would style and then as soon as I go out into humidity or weather it reverts to it's evil curly incarnation. Until now.

Enter, the ceramic plated wonder by Revlon that has become my new best friend!

Before (which of course has to be taken with NO MAKEUP and a fairly ugly shirt:

And After. This literally took me only about five minutes to do! Well, and maybe another two or three for "mom makeup".

And me being a bit silly with the whole "pouty mouth" thing...

I just can't say enough how thrilled I am. And my hair stays like this all day. It is soft, no hair spray required. I'm probably the LAST woman in America to discover the brilliant wonder and manifestation of healed communion between God, humans and nature that is a ceramic hair straightener. Well, there you have it, folks.

Monday, November 27, 2006

My Weekend in Chicago

Heard on Sunday morning at All Saint's Orthodox Church in Chicago:

"Today the Virgin cometh, cometh unto the cave, to give birth to the Word, who was born before all ages. Begotten in a manner that defies description. Rejoice therefore O Universe, if thou shouldst hear and glorify with the angels and the shepherds. Glorify Him, who by his will shall become a new born babe, and who is our God, before all ages."

Seen under an overpass: A water mark, surrounded by flowers, turned into a shrine, that looked remarkably like a water mark and not very much at all like this:

Also seen:

U-505 captured by the American's off the coast of Africa during WW2, the capture of which brought into our hands the enigma code machine and 900 pounds of code books and documents, helping to win the war on that front. I have a thing for submarines, so this was very very cool!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

His name is Nick!

And he's been living naked in my sewing cabinet for quite some time now. I made him last spring, I think. Today he got an outfit, and will be coming to Chicago with us, and gifted to my nephew, who is turning two. Young enough for a "boy doll" I think. Timely, since he'll be a big brother next summer.

The coveralls are from old shirt scraps of my husband's.

And yes, the consensus of the relatives is that I should bring the germs with me to I will. No fever this morning, but after lunch my temp started climbing again. Now that Nick's outfit is finished, I think I'll go take a nap.

Oh, and my pumpkin cheesecake is BEEE-U-TEE-FUL!

Should I stay or should I go?????

I got the flu. The gut clenching, 101.5 fever (which is more like 102.5 for me, since I tend to have a low body temperature), will-myself-not-to-vomit, black tea 'n toast kind of flu.

And according to multiple friends and accquaintances who have/had it, it's a doozy that won't just go away in a day or two.

The pediatric version seems to be limited to dia...I can't ever spell that word...and/or vomiting with no fever. The adult version seems to be what I have. So all the kids had their diawhatever last week and seem to be over it. No one slowed down in the least whilst affected.

I thought I had a quickie version because last Friday I woke up with bad nausea and all that goes with it, but as the day wore on, I was better. So my weekend was normal. Then yesterday at the crack, there is was again. This time with a vengeance and a fever.

Problem is, my sister is having her baby today and I was supposed to Doula! Waaaah. No question. I'm not going anywhere NEAR them with this bug. So, that's a big diappointment.

The other thing is, we are supposed to travel to Chicago for Thanksgiving. Do I stay or do I go? I have no turkey (well, does ground turkey count?) in the house, etc. This morning I got up and fetched some Ricotta cheese from Kroger so I can make that Sugar Free Pumpkin Cheesecake I've been planning on making and taking with me. It takes like two hours of baking and three hours of cooling in the oven and then MORE time in the refrigerator before it can be served. I was going to make it yesterday but discovered my ricotta was moldy. Bad news. And then dh forgot to get me the cheese last night. Oh, well. So in my pj's this morning I went out, and the trip to the store was enough to convince me that I'm not well yet.

Do I stay or do I go? I hate disappointing my sister-in-law. I'm thinking of sending my family and staying home alone.

What would YOU do?????

Monday, November 20, 2006

Old Song Lyrics On My Mind

There is no better place
than to be here and to look upon Your face
In your Church
or all alone
no better place than to be before Your throne
God of comfort
Lord of mercy
Love that knows no bounds
I adore You
worship and bow down
worship and bow down

--From the Cassette "High Praise" by Don Francisco from back in the late 1980's.

Fun Meme

One word, and only one word, so here goes!

Yourself: Creative
Your partner: Lovable
Your hair: curly
Your Mother: outspoken
Your Father: bearded
Your Favorite Item: varies
Your dream last night: insomnia
Your Favorite Drink: Wine
Your Dream Car: paid
Your Dream Home: clean
The Room You Are In: bedrofficom
Your Ex: gone
Your fear: foolishness
Where you Want to be in Ten Years? healthy
Who you hung out with last night: Molly
What You're Not: Outgoing
Muffins: Cranberry
One of Your Wish List Items: Patristics
Time: bandits
The Last Thing You Did: reading
What You Are Wearing: mismatched
Your favorite weather: crispy
Your Favorite Book: romance
Last thing you ate: triscuits
Your Life: quiet
Your mood: lazy
Your Best Friends: precious
What are you thinking about right now: people
Your car: black
What are you doing at the moment: blogging
Your summer: poolside
Relationship status: Married
What is on your tv: Nothing
What is the weather like: Cool
When is the last time you laughed: yesterday

First Snow

A runty Kentucky snow, but oh how the kids are excited! It will probably be done by noon, but nonetheless they are some giddy kids.

I've already been reprimanded for not having hot cocoa mix on hand.

And THIS fascinates me:

""Treeologist" L. H. "Dick" Frymire of Irvington in Breckingridge County using a handed down, top secret formula, has studied the leaves, bark and interior readings of his Japanese maple weather tree, along with decades of weather data, in compiling his day-to-day snow predictions for the Ohio Valley and parts of the Mississippi Valley, give or take two days depending on your location:" has predicted "tracking snow" for November 19th. Today is November 20th. This prediction was published in September, I think. I printed it off of the local Library website from an article posted there.

Interesting. Very very interesting!

Friday, November 17, 2006

These Days

Just nothing much to write about that's blog worthy. No big thoughts. Just lots of quiet and snuggly blankets while fall pelts against the windows and I sit a crochet, or talk to my kids.

They grow so fast. My eldest is proving as adept at hand crafts as I am, and has fashioned a clever and lovely pair of mittens with some yarn and a crochet hook. I've been crocheting lately, too, like I mentioned.

My current project: Inspired by a century old pattern, and with finely spun recycled wool yarn ($2.50 sweater from the thrift store unraveled. A GREAT way to get cheap yarn in natural fibers!) of a soft fawn color I am making a shawl. Irish crochet crackle stitch with roses and rose leaf motifs.

How To: What I do is make the edging, then baste that to a piece of fabric or pattern paper ( plan on using a sheet, it won't come to any harm in the process). Then I baste the motifs where I want them, then connect them all with irregular chains and picots. When all is done I take the basting out, and do my blocking (Hand wash the piece and pin the edges onto a board to shape it as it dries) and the piece will be done. Not a single thing is technically too difficult about this. I can do each element. I've just never done a crochet project of this scope before. But I'm doing it. I promise to post a picture when it's done. Perhaps some when I've at least got the motifs and edging basted to the base...right now a progress shot is useless since all it would be is a ziploc baggie full of roses and a bundle of crocheted picot lace edging.

I am trying to still and quiet my soul these days. I'm thinking that there is so much of vanity in me. So much of that which wants to impress people or "be somebody", or say the right things on this blog or when I'm talking with people and that needs to die.

Contemplating what I listened to the other day: "The Word of the Cross" CD Lecture by Fr. Thomas Hopko. Good stuff, that.

Giving the kids the day off from Home-school today, since I was up in the middle of the night as the stomach bug that's going around started manifesting itself in my body at 4 am. Oh, joy!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Book Review: Straight Up, by Lisa Samson

I don't normally do book reviews on this blog. But I promised I would, so here goes: Straight Up by Lisa Samson can definitely be categorized as Christian fiction, but it's a different sort of Christian fiction from the normal, smarmy and preachy fare that I at least associate with the genre.

The story features several very interesting characters: an alcoholic Jazz musician, some radical Christians living their faith close to the streets, transformation, surrender and some really good cobbler and perhaps a surprise ending. The plot is anything but formulaic (which is refreshing, to say the least) and the prose is brilliant.

The brain bender for me in all this, is that the book is set in my corner of Lexington, KY. How cool is THAT? By the end of the book I felt like I should be able to put on my sneakers, walk a mile and meet the characters in their haunts.

I was up very late at night turning the pages of this book by Lisa Samson. It's one that somehow preaches without being preachy. And coming from me, that's a big compliment.

Here's a link to the author's blog: Author Intrusion

Thursday, November 09, 2006

McDonalds and Me

As many who know me, or who read this blog know, I've been on a health journey for the past few years. Of course, compared to many I am very much a novice. As of this writing, for instance, I have no plans to give up artificial sweeteners, but I do limit and vary what I use. My favorite by far is not even an AS, but is a natural product called stevia. Unfortunately, it only is good for things like drinks...and is hideous in cooking. Fortunately, homemade low carb meatloaf does not require Splenda or stevia or anything else like that, and neither does a nice vat of vegetables. You get my drift.

I had this epiphany one time. I don't remember if it was in my pre-sugar free/caffeine free/low or smart carb days or my post-sf/cf/lc days. But this memory lurks:

I was in the drive through. I HAD to have a snack (this is a good indicator that it took place BEFORE I got my hypoglycemia under control). I looked in the rear view mirror and in the car behind me was a very chubby woman. Then I realized, I looked very much the same, and I wondered...and I pondered...and I changed. Last time we went through the mcd's drivethrough we got a round of pies for everyone. It was after Church, late and the kids were hungry. We do that about four times a year. So, not that big a deal. And what did I get while we were there? Nothing. That's right, and I also lived to tell about it. I actually survived with a growling stomach for the forty minutes it took us to get home.

So why couldn't the rest of the family also survive, you ask? Well, for one thing no one else is overweight but me, and for another, we wanted to put the kids right to bed as soon as we got home. You know the drill if you have kids. It was just one of those days.

I just finished reading the book: "Don't Eat this Book" by the guy who did the "Supersize Me" movie. Now I want to see the movie.

For some reason, even the water at Mcd's tastes like fat.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

He Got a Job!

A job is a good thing. It means Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the ability to blog more in the coming months! As you can see, my priorities are so very very straight.

For those in our parish: Molieben (Thanksgiving prayers) offered at 6:15 pm this Saturday, before Vespers.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

I've been preparing Sunday School lessons for the teachers each week this fall, since Sunday School started last September. We are working out way through Genesis, and I am humbled. I'm the "storyteller" and then the kids break up into age groups and have some activities with their teachers. I've been doing a little work up each week on the story and if I can find it, patristic commentary, and hearing how these stories are presented in other Orthodox materials for kids.

I stand in awe at the faith of Abraham, Enoch, Noah, Isaac, etc. These people had a trust in God far greater than mine, and I am humbled. They were waiting on the promise, and I HAVE the promise, yet I am in awe.

How can Adam carry on upon the earth by the sweat of his brow after knowing paradise?
How can Seth fill his brother Abel's shoes?
How can Enoch walk with God?
How can Noah build a boat on dry land?
How can Abraham leave his family to go live among wicked pagans?
How can Isaac lay down on the wood that he himself carried to the hill?
How can Rebecca go with a stranger?
How can Jacob see heaven?
How can Joseph resist evil and pursue good in the midst of suffering?

How did these men and women KNOW God? And this without Holy Scriptures?

One of the things that has stood out to me is that there is always continuity. Lifespans overlap. Stories get told. Faith is passed from parents to their children. There is continuity. Holy Tradition. And a God who seeks us, seeks to be known by us. Constantly seeks a relationship with us. Not a God who abandons, but a God who promises, a God who fulfills His promises, and a God who woos His people.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit!