Tuesday, June 30, 2009

do this...but not that (again)

i felt the need to write a "part 2" to my recent post about rituals. it wasn't quite complete, my thoughts not completely hashed out. i've received responses from my friends josh and jim , and i thank them for their thoughts.

in my other post, i came across as if i am totally against rituals, and that i think they are useless. i actually feel the opposite. i have quite often witnessed people using ritual to enhance their life, be it spiritually or otherwise. and i think that's the difference, if it's used meaningfully or not. when a ritual is used with a sense of sacredness, there is an inherent beauty to it. it can give that reminder, that it's not just about us, it's about the people & things that have gone before us...and will come after us. it gives that sense of place and purpose. along with that comes humility. i think of meditation, buddhist mantras and the 5 pillars of islam as some of these that can be used in this way.

on the other side of the coin is what i typically think of when i hear "ritual". i think of people of faith doing something only out of a sense of obligation, habit and practically without thought. the way i've experienced going to church on sundays, reading the bible, praying, etc within the christian context. it has often felt like if these (and others) are not done, then god's gonna get getcha and god won't love you anymore. as if you have to earn god's love. this is contradictory to what is commonly taught that "god is love" and god's love is unconditional. when ritual is done this way, it loses the sense of connectedness and purpose that the ritual exists to create in the 1st place.


sunday was a momentous day for the US men's national team. they faced Brazil in the Confederation's Cup Final. why was this big? because it was the 1st ever time the US made it to a FIFA sanctioned final. FIFA is the international governing body of world football. they also organize the World Cup. it was also big because at the end of the 1st half, the US was beating Brazil 2-0. 2-0! do you know how crazy that is? the US, which is ranked #14 in the world, leading the #5 ranked Brazil. not to mention a few days earlier the US defeated Spain 3-0 in the same competition. Spain is ranked #1.

back to the game. at the end of the 1st half, the US had everything in their favor. they were controlling the game, they had momentum, they were shutting down the Brazilian offense, not to mention penetrating the Brazilian defense. the US defense was working beautifully as a unit. it was amazing to see. but then, the 2nd half happened. Brazil quickly scored their 1st goal, followed by a 2nd. then, with less than 10 minutes to play, they scored their 3rd.

what happened? the US has a lot of growing up to do. they lack consistency, stamina, and the ability to hold their own against the world powers of football for 90 minutes.

if you missed the game, you missed history. hopefully the US will take the lessons they learned from this match and use them as they gear up for the World Cup next year.

Monday, June 15, 2009

do this, do that...but not that

i recently showcased my penchant for being on top of the most recent trends by reading william p. young's book "the shack". yes, i know. it came out well over a year ago and the buzz has all but died on it. that's why i was being sarcastic.

while it is not the most well-written book, it does make some great points about religion, our relationship with our creator, faith, and a whole host of other issues. kudos to william young for making his portrayal of god in the novel an african-american woman and the holy spirit an asian. i've never been able to relate to the traditional pictures of god or jesus. you know, like these:

while there is nothing inherently wrong with these images, it bothers me that these are the default images. the image of god shows an angry one, while the image of jesus shows someone who is emotionless and staring off in space. apathetic. these are not qualities i admire. shouldn't our creator be more commonly displayed as loving, caring, empathetic, relational, etc? these images show distance. not to mention both are portrayed as white dudes. that's likely not accurate.

one of the bigger things i took from "the shack" was on the topic of ritual. i know for most of my life, christianity has been displayed as mainly that. following ritual. read your bible, pray (on your own and before & after meals), go to church weekly, etc. you probably know the drill. while, at points, this was driven home as a way to develop a relationship with god, jesus & the holy spirit, it never worked for me. as a result, i was constantly stuck in this rut of never feeling like i had a relationship with "the trinity" (a term i struggle with since it never appears in the bible), so i always thought i was a bad christian.

there's a point in the book where mack, the main character, is sitting & eating dinner with god, jesus & the holy spirit (try wrapping your brain around that one). instead of doing the normal devotions at the end of the meal, they go off and do some gardening as a way of developing relationship. i found that incredible. that reality that we find god in everything. not only creation, but our relationships with others, the blessings we have (both tangible and intangible), those moments of peace in the midst of a crazy day.

on a deeper level, this pointed to the grace god gives. that relationship with god does not have to be done in any specific way. what works for me and my personality type may not work for you and yours. that's the amazing thing. god relates to all personality types, no matter how you function.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Diversity Quiz

This quiz comes from Lee Mun Wah - a leader in diversity issues. Check out his website.

This is a small sampling of clich├ęs that folks use all over this country, not knowing that they are sometimes offensive and can shut someone down from talking about diversity issues or experiences. Circle the ones you have used and put a check mark around those that you have no idea why they might be harmful. Think of who you might ask if you wanted to find out why they were harmful.

  1. I don’t see color. We’re all just human beings.
  2. We have more similarities than differences.
  3. I think deep down we’re all the same.
  4. Racism/sexism happens all over the world.
  5. I think some people use diversity as an excuse.
  6. I think identifying into groups only further divides us.
  7. There are lots of other diversity issues other than race and gender.
  8. I’ve never seen that happen before. Are you sure it happened?
  9. Why does everything have to be so politically correct?
  10. I was just joking. You’re being too serious!
  11. Things are a lot better than they used to be. Don’t you agree?
  12. We’d hire more women and people of color, but are they qualified?
  13. I love everyone.
  14. Do you really think it’s that bad?
  15. I’m so glad you’re not like one of them.
  16. You know, you’re a credit to your people.
  17. You don’t see other races complaining.
  18. I think its reverse racism/sexism.
  19. America is the best place to live.
  20. Some of my best friends are colored.
  21. You speak such good English, where did you learn it from?

* Excerpt from Lee Mun Wah’s upcoming book, Let’s Get Real- What People of Color Can’t Say & Whites Won’t Ask

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Such Significance

I love how this photo conveys monumental dreams for all people but especially and specifically African-American young men. And whether or not you agree with Obama's politics, this photo is incredible at helping young African-American young men have something to hope for, to aspire to, and to be a role model. Very moving!

Tell the Stories of the People of Guatemala

This was the one request that we received when myself and several seminary classmates went to Guatemala in January of 2002. Here is a recent story of more corruption in this country.

Pray for the people of Guatemala.