I love to read- and I love buying books. I have never been a library type of person. I think it's something about the deadlines; or maybe that I have to give them back after I'm done... I don't know. And frankly I don't care to give it much more thought than that.
A few days ago I got some new books in the mail- some I had found in footnotes of other books I had been reading, and some looked interesting from my "recommended for you" list on Amazon.com. I began going through my normal ritual of holding and smelling each one (kind of like some folks do with a new box of crayons) and flipping through the pages to see if anything jumps out at me that I need to attend to this minute. Then I put them on the table and longed for morning to be here so I could start one of them.
Later in the day I talked to Beth (who is, by the way, very much the "library type") and she was telling me about the new book she is reading. Of course it had all the markings of a great read- (she is the smartest person) and she went into detail; selling me on both the storyline and characterization. I glanced at my stack of "to read" with the packing slip, still attached halfway to the bottom book, gracefully dangling off the table.
"I got some new books today too," I said. And gave her the titles. I guess I should mention at this point that I have read possibly one fiction book in the past five years. (Outside of children's books, that is) My bookshelf is filled with non fiction books; instead of titles like "The Girl With the Pearl Earring" and "Water For Elephants", there are titles like "Self Deception and Wholeness in Matthew and Paul," or "Violence and the Sacred."
Beth and I had a good laugh at our differences. She is like my lifeline to many things- she keeps me abreast on all things current in literature, politics and world events. I relay ideas on composting and theology of scapegoating. (In an augmentative style of course... ) And every now and then I get a hankering for a good story that hasn't been watered down or "tech"ed up by movies. But the truth is, I love what I read. Even if it seems 'unbalanced' to some- or 'too dry,' to others.
I thought about the years that I spent my spare time trying to keep up with best selling authors, classic novels or "must read" fiction. And although much of what I read did form and shape my thinking (everything we do has a part in building who we are) I am finding myself at a place where in my spare time, I read what I like. Give me a cup of coffee and a theology book and I'm happy. Afternoon tea with a 'how to homestead on a quarter acre' paperback and I am in heaven.
What are you reading lately? Are you enjoying yourself? Just food for thought...
I've been noticing over the last few days that many people on Face Book are going to try giving up social networking for Lent. I'm guessing the reasoning behind such decisions have to do with the amount of time people spend on those sites; time that could otherwise be spent doing something else more constructive. An admirable quest to be sure- I'm all for living more of life than watching life play out on a screen. (well, except maybe for movies but you know me...)
But I'm wondering, if in giving something time consuming up for Lent will enable us to have time for other things, what will folks planning on filling that "extra" time with? Anything that we "give up" will be replaced by something. So unless we think through what we will do in the time we have freed up, we may find ourselves in a bit of a quandary come Ash Wednesday.
And this has less to do with FB than it does the whole concept of giving something up for Lent in the first place.
When we decide, hopefully with some forethought, assessment of lifestyle and hopefully prayer, to alter our lives for seven weeks, what is the reasoning for doing so?
No answers, just food for thought...
I have a passion for movies and especially for finding theological themes in movies. That's the disclaimer. Not that I am a movie snob- (even though my Netflix queue may say otherwise. Some of the categories on my queue include "Critically Acclaimed Visually Striking Cerebral Movies" or "Controversial Understated Emotional Foreign Dramas.") I'm more like a movie geek. I like obscure, somewhat heady movies with deep characterization and rich story.
So when I recently watched the old 1980's version of Pippi Longstocking with my grandchildren, I did not expect to find anything remotely reflective about it. The plot is thin and the acting even worse- all the children speak too fast with little or no believability; the adult cast is somewhat better (Eileen Brennan being the obvious bright spot) but overall sadly lacking...
However, there one bit of dialogue that happens very quickly, that caught my attention. Pippi and the two neighborhood kids are going shopping. As they are about to enter a "cleaning supply store," the children ask, "What are we buying today, Pippi?" A wide smile appears on Pippi's face and she answers "A grand piano!" The kids quickly interject "They don't sell pianos here, Pippi." But Pippi's smile remains... "They might today!" she says.
They might today!
I think I want to adopt that as a personal motto! Too often I go into a situation, expecting it to turn out....well... exactly as I expect it to, and nothing more. And more often than not, I am correct. But by holding on to my own expectations, I don't leave room for the Spirit to surprise me. Heck, I don't even leave room for people to surprise me.
Yet, I profess to believe in the God of surprises; the God who promises to go beyond everything I can dream or think or imagine!
Today holds the promise of being something more than I expect. But perhaps I need to hold the door open for grand pianos to be found in cleaning supply stores. Perhaps I need to drop what I know to be true; what I think about the world, and instead look for what God is saying and doing in the world.
What would life look like if we all dropped our expectations; of people, of situations, of God... and just lived, watching and waiting for God's leading and movement in our lives? How different would I respond to things that happen in any given day if I were free to act without anticipating the outcome? And how would it affect the people with whom I interact?
Would they perhaps be free to drop their walls as well? I don't know... but they might today!
Food for thought...
I have a friend who is "angry with God." She has been through more sorrow and hurt in her life than I could imagine, and some of that hurt has (sadly) come from the church.
Her major complaint is that God is uncaring; and her anger stems from God's absence during the most difficult times in her life. From her experience: She hurt- she prayed- God didn't show up to tell her things were going to be ok- and they still aren't.
I'm reminded of The Dark Night of the Soul- Saint John of the Cross, almost every time I speak with her. And most of the time, at the end of our conversations, I walk away with an increased sense of helplessness. I can't prove the presence of God in someone's life (nor would I presume to do so) and telling her my own story seems futile.
In our most recent exchange, I told her I was praying for her, so that she would know she isn't alone in her suffering. In my mind I hoped that it would bring comfort. Instead, she asked- "how does it feel to believe in a God that is silent? How does it feel to have someone else get more love from that god and show it off when you are hurting by praying for you?"
My translation of that statement: "God loves you and not me- don't rub that in my face."
I wonder how many others have been hurt by the "I'll pray for you" statements Christians toss around so cavalierly- as if it would mean something other than "I have an 'in' with God and maybe I can convince him to help you too."
Just food for thought on today's journey...
Welcome to my website! I'm a pastor in Central New Jersey at a wonderful church- and we have a great website: www.rockyhillchurch.com , but I wanted to have a place to put things that I write, dream about, or struggle with theologically and share them with anyone who might be interested.
Theological Stew is a work in progress, and it may take some time to get things organized in a way that makes sense. For now, please be patient,but if you feel like commenting, feel free :) I'd appreciate the feedback as I add ingredients.