Saturday, September 29, 2007

Lifehouse Skit

This video has been circulating the Internet. It is a five minute youth group skit set to the song Everything by Lifehouse. The first two minutes are a little "happy-hands-esque," if ya know what I mean? :) But the last two minutes hit on such an undeniable truth of the gospel. Of course I cried. But that doesn't mean much, since I cry during Full House reruns...(a little on the emotional side). Although even Will teared up, and he doesn't cry that much.'s definitely worth the watch....ENJOY!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Shake That Groove Thing!

"Dancers are the athletes of God." ~Albert Einstein

I just wanted to share my favorite dance routines from the last season of So You Think You Can Dance. I am the whitest, non-rhythmic gal you will ever meet, but I love watching other people dance and when it's done right, it is so powerful and moving.

This is a contemporary piece choreographed by the gifted Mia Michaels. She constructs such beautiful movements.

The video below is Lauren Gottlieb, one of my favorite girl dancers this season, performing a Wade Robson creation to Waiting on the World To Change, by John Mayer

This is a Danny Tidwell's solo of the same dance. This boy can JUMP!

This is a really funky dance created by Wade Robson. It's a contemporary jazz piece with a good ole' fashioned "good vs. evil" theme.

I love the two dancers in this piece...the moves are really intricate and different.

OK, I don't like to interpret art for other people, but if a viewer doesn't know the background to this piece, it could be perceived as a little cheesy. The choreographer, Mia Michaels, lost her father to cancer a few months ago, and this piece is an homage to her father, how she envisions reuniting with him in heaven....very sweet.

"To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking." ~Agnes De Mille

Feminists For Life: Not An Oxymoron!

Recently, I have been asked about the link on my side bar: Feminists For Life. To clarify, it's not Feminist For Life as in "I will be a feminist for my entire life," but feminists taking a stand for life, namely unborn life. It is a feminist pro-life organization (no, that's not an oxymoron) that engage in creative and practical endeavors to bridge the gap of injustice between struggling women and the sanctity of unborn life.

The Feminist For Life website seeks to reclaim the old-time feminism of being pro-woman without being anti-men or anti-family. They seek the reemergence of a feminism that sought after equality and justice for women in the work place, the home, and society without emasculating men, without shunning femininity, or without demeaning family life. Feminists For Life keep tabs on the latest pro-life gains and provides information about charity organizations and emotional, financial, and educational resources for women experiencing unplanned pregnancy to give them a REAL options that don't include taking the life of their unborn child. They aim to get ALL the information to women about the physical and psychological effects and risks of abortion. They reach out to college campuses across the country. I admire this organization because they have broadened the pro-life movement beyond just lobbying Washington and protesting abortion clinics. They are meeting the needs of desperate women, arming them with the truth coupled with support, fighting for job security, equal pay, adequate housing, health care, educational opportunities and other vital resources to equip women to successfully raise their children and lead full lives.

The Feminists For Life website also tells the story of early feminists like Alice Paul, Elizabeth Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, all of whom led movements for women's suffrage and other women's rights and were also adamantly pro-life. The site is a helpful reminder of the true roots of feminism and a fantastic resource for getting involved in the new pro-life movement.

"When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit."--Elizabeth Stanton, founder of The Women's Movement, 1873.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Real Outcry Against Sodom

I compiled the following rather lengthy study on the destruction of Sodom a few months ago, but held off on posting it because a debate on the topic of homosexuality unexpectedly transpired on my blog. So, I decided to let the dust settle and wait for a more appropriate time to emerge. Since I just finished listening to yet ANOTHER dishonest sermon on the subject of Sodom, I felt it was time to post it. Please read ALL the way through before bombarding me with comments. Thank you.

"It is not enough to rage against the lie, you have to replace it with the truth."--Bono

If you were to ask most evangelical Christians "What was the sin of Sodom?" I guarantee most would unflinchingly answer, "homosexuality." I want to examine the story of Sodom because I am utterly ashamed of how many preachers (not all) abuse, edit, and twist this account to single out gay people, elevate their sin above the rest of our "normal" sin, and perpetuate the lie that there is some sort of extra fiery judgment awaiting them. Every time there is a gay person on TV or a gay parade, it is always noted as a sign that America is "a modern day Sodom." While an honest and comprehensive study of Sodom in the scripture will definitely affirm that America is headed down the same path as Sodom, it is not for the reason most people think.

The Genesis account DOES NOT name the specific reason for Sodom's destruction. God speaks to Abraham and says He is going to destroy the city "because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave," (Genesis 18: 20). God sends two angels to rescue Lot and his family and that is when the mob of ALL the townspeople of Sodom, not just the men (Gen. 19: 4), surrounded Lot's house and demanded to "know" God's messengers. Lot unbelievably offers his daughters to the angry mob, but the angels strike the crowd with blindness and Lot and his daughters escape before God destroys Sodom.

While this vile scene epitomizes the extent of Sodom's wickedness, it was NOT what brought on their destruction. God already decided to destroy the city before this incident and sent the angels to rescue Lot and his family. God said to Abraham BEFORE that their destruction was in RESPONSE to the massive outcry against Sodom. The angels repeat this by declaring in Genesis 19:13: "For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.”

Old Testament scholar Inge Anderson makes a good point by noting:

"Saying that the last recorded acts of the Sodomites -- the demands for same-gender sex -- are proof that they were destroyed for homosexuality is like saying that a condemned man cursing his guards on the way to his execution is being executed for cursing the guards. Sodom was judged worthy of destruction before the incident with Lot and the angels."

But what exactly brought on Sodom's judgment? Why were so many crying out against Sodom? Exactly whose outcry was God answering? Genesis 14 describes that Sodom and other cities had just engaged in brutal warfare, savagely pillaging surrounding cities and shedding innocent blood. It makes sense that the surviving victims of such heinous violence cried out against Sodom for their war-mongering, violence, and lust for conquest. In turn, Sodom was also invaded and pillaged, caught up in the cycle of warfare and violence.

Even those who insist that it was the incident between the angry mob and the angels that brought on Sodom's destruction, homosexuality is NOT the only sin at play during this scene. Let's start with the obvious: RAPE. Rape is NEVER permissible, whether it's homosexual rape or heterosexual rape. The townspeople weren't after consensual adult sex, but savage, degrading rape. Anyone who knows anything about rape knows that it has more to do with power, dominance, and humiliation than it does with sexual lust. Besides the intent to rape, there is another obvious sin going on. The people of Sodom did not want to rape mere mortal men, but ANGELS. In a sense, they wanted to commit bestiality, because it was inter-species sex, (ick). Sexual union with angels is forbidden for all humans, men and women alike (see highly debated Genesis 6).

Some biblical scholars speculate that the Sodomites' motives for demanding sex with angels has to do with something other than just lust. Some point out that it was not unusual for foreigners in ancient lands to be raped as a means of humiliation and control, as well as to discourage other foreigners from settling in or traveling through a city's territory. Also, ancient armies used rape as a means of interrogation. It was their way of torturing strangers, foreigners, and enemies to get them to give up information. This would be especially common for a city on high alert after warfare. Other scholars point to Sodom's well known idolatry and deeply held pagan beliefs (other grave sins) as their motive to rape the angels. Ancient pagans believed that they could absorb a divine being's power and immortality through sexual intercourse (hence temple prostitutes, who represented goddesses, and sacramental sex rituals). If the people of Sodom suspected that Lot's guests were divine, it would explain why ALL the townspeople were there. If the gathering was meant solely to engage in a same-sex orgy, I find it hard to believe the men would invite along their wives and children.

Regardless of their motives, there was more going on than homosexuality. Actually, out of all the sins going on in that scene, homosexuality is the least disturbing one, yet it is almost always the only sin ever mentioned when referring to Sodom.

Sodom is mentioned over 50 times in scripture and only once are their sexual sins explicitly pointed out, with ZERO explicit mentions of homosexuality. Jude 1:7 is the closest verse you will find :

"As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."

The phrase translated as "strange flesh" in the original Greek reads: "sarkos heteras." Ironically, our English word "heterosexual" is derived from "heteras." Anyway, the meaning is a bit ambiguous. The term definitely refers to sexual perversion, but it's unclear whether this passage is referring to homosexuality, fornication, promiscuity, pedophilia, pornography, adultery, rape, temple prostitution, bestiality (in this case, sex with angels), or all of the variations of sexual immorality.

But the point of this post is not to deny the presence of homosexuality in Sodom, the goal is to reveal ALL the reasons for their demise to better understand the heart of God, to be accurate in our representation of His Word, and to realize that ALL of us have something to learn from Sodom. God directly reveals the REASON for Sodom's destruction in Ezekiel 16:49-50.

"Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abominations before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit," (NKJ).

Another translation puts it like this:

"Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. She was proud and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen."

There is no getting around this verse. It clearly and specifically lists the sins that did Sodom in.
Now, one could argue that the reference to "abomination" or "detestable" sin was homosexuality, but I'd like to point out other sins that have earned the "detestable abomination" status in scripture. The seven deadly sins are a good place to start:

Proverbs 6:16-19: a lying tongue, haughty eyes, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes. feet that are swift in running toward mischief, false witnesses and a sower of discord among brothers.

All of the above are abominations in the eyes of the Lord. Clearly, homosexuality was not the only sin of Sodom. God hates ALL sin; it is man that creates the hierarchy order that places sins into special categories. It is man that creates systems and mindsets that shun one group of sinners and embrace others. It is man that builds obstacles to the grace we have been freely given. Now, before the stone throwing begins, I am NOT implying that homosexuality was not existent in Sodom. It would be foolish to assert that while the people of Sodom were bloodthirsty, greedy, lazy, idolaters, and thieves, their sexual practices were impeccable! :)

However, the first time I read Ezekiel 16:49, I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head. I felt utterly betrayed by the countless sermons given on Sodom and Gomorrah that NEVER mention the clearest verse in scripture describing the real reasons for their destruction. It is much easier to make Sodom and Gomorrah SOLELY about homosexuality, because it's a seemingly far off sin of the outside world. It's an easy scapegoat. It gets our focus on how perverse other people are. "See how loathsome those homosexuals are that God rained fire down on them," I've heard that said verbatim. But in actuality, pride, gluttony, laziness and ignoring the needs of the poor are sins certain corners of the church has all too often been accomplice to. What arrogance to sit in our pews or preach from behind pulpits labeling gays as sodomites, when we can be just as much a "sodomite," if not more!

Isaiah 1:9-11, Jeremiah 23 and 49, Lamentations, and Matt. 10:14-15 collectively correlate Sodom sins to: perversion of justice, cruelty and neglect of the poor, oppressed, orphaned and widowed, shedding innocent blood, inhospitality, greed, pride, falsely prophesying, lying in God's name, abusing power, neglecting God's flock, leaving the hungry unfed, causing others to err, making up visions, and cannibalism (eww). None of these passages mention any type of sexual immorality as the REASON for their judgment.

In 1 Corinthians 6:8-10, even Paul makes a separate distinction between homosexuality and the sins of Sodom. He lists various types of sinners that will not inherit the kingdom of God (obviously, no sinner will inherit the kingdom of God because believers will cease to be tainted by any sin, made perfect by Christ’s blood), but he lists homosexuals AND sodomites. If those terms are synonymous, why list them twice? Many biblical scholars confess that Jewish and early christian writings did not associate Sodom with the sin of homosexuality until 1700 years after Sodom's destruction, when the Roman Empire openly embraced man on boy pedophilia. In ancient Jewish literature, such as the Ethics of the Fathers and the Talmud, there are many references to Sodom. The phrase "middat Sdom" was used. It may be translated as "the way the people of Sodom thought." It meant a lack of charity and hospitality towards others; ignoring the needs of the poor, etc. In the ancient Middle East, a person's survival could depend upon the charity of strangers. To help strangers was a solemn religious duty of paramount importance. See Leviticus 19:33-34 and Matthew 25:35, 38 and 43.

America may indeed be the modern day Sodom, not because 3-5 percent of the population is gay, but because America makes up 6 percent of the of the world's population and consumes 43 percent of the world's resources. Out of the 22 industrialized nations in the world, the U.S. is DEAD LAST in the amount of aid we give to the poor, giving less than 0.15 percent of the federal budget, when the INTERNATIONALLY AGREED UPON MILLENNIAL GOALS are 0.7 percent. Now, in light of what God reveals to Ezekiel, "The sin of Sodom was that she was full of pride, overfed, and unconcerned, nor did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy," who are the real sodomites today?

Preachers who harp on the sin of homosexuality while omitting the rest of Sodom's sins are performing a grave disservice to their listeners. This trend has contributed to the disproportionate disdain for homosexuals and the stirring of hatred and cruelty towards them. It also contributes to concealing the fact that too many corners of the church (hi, prosperity gospel!) resemble the other sins that played a pivotal role in Sodom's destruction. It spurs on the mindset of special sins. But if we read the scriptures honestly and see what the entire outcry against Sodom was, we in the church just might have to admit that we are guilty of the sins of Sodom, too. We'd have to admit that we would share in the same judgement as Sodomites if it were not for the GRACE of God that is available for ALL.

Have we neglected the poor? Have we been idle? Have we been greedy? Have we been proud? Have we been arrogant? Have we been INDIFFERENT? Suddenly, the terrible destruction we reserve in our minds for homosexuals hits a little too close to home. Are we not Sodomites as well? Let's hold the mirror up to where it should always be, on ourselves, on the church.

Every story in the Bible should be approached and processed in a way that asks, "What can I learn from this? How do I resemble this? What things in my own life need to be changed or challenged?" Preachers who have reduced the Sodom account to the destruction of homosexuals have robbed their flocks of the story's full meaning and the chance to evaluate themselves in light of that meaning.

"The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off."--Gloria Steinem

"Truth is generally the best vindication against slander."--Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I don't have children like most of my other blogging buddies and many of their posts are pictures of the fun things they do with their little darlings. My life is very different-instead of homeschooling, cooking, and chasing after kids, I work and go to school. Unfortunately, those activities don't make for cute pictures. But I do have dogs that I cherish. Some would say TOO many dogs, and they are probably right. But I completely love my dogs and enjoy the time I spend with them. Anyway, here are some recent photos of some funny moments with the pups.

The Ambiguously Gay DUO!
(SNL fans know what I mean...and it's a joke, so everyone just unclench)

Sam (white and red guy) and Scrappy (lil brown guy) are our two inside dogs and are the best of friends. They do EVERYTHING, sleep, wrestle, etc. etc.

Luna (black and white girl) and Caspian (tawny guy) are the dogs we've had since Will and I have been married. If you want to get technical, Caspian is a bastard, cause we had him out of wedlock! :) Aravis (the black girl) we got from a shelter when we moved down here.
Luna, as you can see, is OBSESSED with playing ball.

Above, are Roonwit (lil tawny guy) and Aravis (the black girl). They are, well, sort of "married." They are ALWAYS together...playing, running, wrestling, and know. They are surprisingly monogamous for canines. It's kind of sweet and just one more reason why I am convinced that God gave dogs the ability to love. This is Cappuccino and Roonwit. Cappa is Roonwit a Aravis' lovechild :)

This Mocha. Roonwit and Aravis' other lovechild. He is one of the sweetest dogs. He used to be painfully shy and didn't really care about interacting with people. But one day he got caught up in our hammock, really bad. His back legs where tangled up SO TIGHTLY and he couldn't get out. He was yelping and Will heard him and saved the little guy. Ever since that day, Mocha became a "people dog," giving lots of hugs and nuzzles. Very CUTE!
This is Jewel (Luna's daughter) chilling with scrappy.

This is Susan (Jewel's sister). She is our smallest outside dog, yet she has the biggest mouth. :)But she is very sweet and playful.

So this is our canine clan. One of my favorite things to do is sit on my trampoline and watch the dogs play tag and run in circles around the full length of our fenced in yard. Giving such sweet creatures a safe place to reside where they can run and play as much as they want is so mysteriously satisfying. Sometimes I'm actually jealous of my dogs (and I say mine, cause they have good lives, while sadly so many others do not) They are so care-free, with no worries and without any concept of death or evil. But I digress.

Anyway this my little canine family. They're a huge part of my life, so I thought I'd share.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

So Many Beautiful, Invisible Faces

It is a poverty that a child must die, so you may live as you wish"--Mother Teresa

"Invisible Children" is a compelling documentary that has sparked a youth movement across America and has served as an alarm clock to awaken the many of us asleep in the comforts of our freedoms. This documentary tells the story of the displaced children, trapped in the middle of a vicious 20 year civil war. Not only are these children starving, sick, separated from their families, and bombarded by death, but they live in constant fear of being captured by the rebel armies, who will either force these children to become soldiers or kill them. The rebel groups kidnap children as young as five and torture, threaten, and brainwash them until they do the rebels' bidding of stealing, killing, and terrorizing. If these children resist, the rebels kill them. If the children escape, their names are put on a list and hunted by name for the rest of their lives.

The unique aspect of this documentary is that it is kind of a fluke. The filmmakers, three boys in their late-teens/early twenties, kind of spontaneously traveled to Africa with a camera purchased on E-Bay, hoping to find a story. Three kids, who haven't even graduated college or have any professional experience, have sparked a massive grassroots movement for peace in Uganda and have raised the money and awareness to get African children the help they so desperately need. In a world where everyone told these naive and semi-goofy boys that their endeavor was impossible, they have achieved more than they ever dreamed of, simply because they were willing. Their lives have been forever changed by tending to the poorest and most vulnerable. After the documentary was released, they started a non-profit organization, also called Invisible Children, to raise money for Ugandan children. I do not know whether these guys are Christians or have become Christians, but I do know that they have encountered Jesus in the least, the lost, and the last.

"'He plead the cause of the afflicted and needy; Then it was well. Is this not that what it means to know Me?' declares the LORD. " Jeremiah 22:16

The following video is a trailer for the documentary and the second video is a montage of some of the success stories of the children who have been helped by the Invisible Children organization. To find out more information or to get involved visit:

Monday, September 17, 2007

I've Been Kissed!

"The Church is the Light of the World, and like all lights, it attracts bugs. You're a bug, I'm a bug, we're all bugs!"--Tony Campolo answering the accusation of hypocrites in the Church.

Ahh...yes. Not only did my dream of meeting, talking with, and thanking Tony Campolo come true on Monday, but I also got a big bear hug and a kiss on the cheek out of it! (I know, you're all jealous!) Will and I trekked down to Alpharetta and had the best time together. Tony Campolo spoke at Birmingham United Methodist Church (really great church with an exceptionally welcoming congregation). I cried through most of the service, even though I have heard most of the stories and illustrations that Tony Campolo shared. He speaks so passionately, that I could not help but be moved. After the service, we got to talk with Tony Campolo, and being that I rehearsed what I wanted to say, I didn't babble like a complete idiot. It's a wonderful feeling to be able to express gratitude to a person who has impacted your life.

The message was primarily about his new book, "The God of Intimacy and Action" and the meaning of John 14. He spoke much about the different types and methods of prayer, yes there are more ways to pray than asking God to fulfill our Christmas lists. :) Anyway, the central theme to his message was bringing life to the world, not through power, but through sacrificial love. He then went out to recount the actions of Jesus, who never used His power for Himself or to coerce others, but won people through sacrificial love.

He then went out to discuss the Church's role in fighting for justice on the micro and macro levels and the correlation between love and justice. "Justice is love translated into social policy," said Campolo, which I thought was a fascinating way of looking at justice.

I am happy that Will and I got to share this experience together and hopefully we'll be able to work towards social justice, too.

If anyone would like to listen to Tony Campolo messages for free, right from their computer, you can visit the link below:
My personal favorite is "The Church: God's Instrument For Changing the World"

Follow Up On Beliefs about Environmentalism

I came across this pithy, yet insightful article written by Anglican Bishop Nicholas T. Wright about the role of environmentalism within the Church and the illogical beliefs that too often lead to its dismissal

God's Power Does Not Excuse Human Despoiling
By Nicholas T. Wright

It all depends what your ‘faith’ is. If you believe that the present world of space, time and matter is basically trash, from which we are supposed to be rescued, then who cares?
But if, with Jews and Christians, your ‘faith’ is in a good creator God who has promised to set the world right at last, dealing with its corruption and decay and setting it free from all that to become even more gloriously what it already really is, then of course you will cherish and celebrate the natural world and care for it in all kinds of ways.

Put it like this (what follows is based on Romans 8.18-26, one of the central passages in one of the central Christian texts of all time). If I said, well, I find it difficult to struggle against sin – but one day God will save me and make me totally his, so why bother in the present? – if I said something like that, every pastor worth their salt would tell me that what God intends to do with me in the future must be anticipated, as best I can in the power of the Spirit, by me in the present.

Now, Paul declares that God will set the whole creation free from its slavery to corruption, and will do so under the glorious rule of his redeemed people. If we say ‘Well, that’ll be fine when it comes, but for the moment there’s no point bothering to do anything about it ourselves’, we stand rebuked in just the same way. You wouldn’t say of the person you love best in all the world, ‘Well, one day we’ll be married and I can be kind to him/her then, I needn’t bother for the moment.’ In the same way, to say ‘Well, God will do whatever he wants with this world eventually, but for the moment I can continue to pump carbon emissions and other harmful gases into its atmosphere,’ is simply illogical.

By the way, it is deeply shocking to us in the UK to discover that some American Christian leaders are being forbidden by their denominations to speak on this topic at all. The day when business interests dictate to the church what preachers may and may not discover in God’s word is the day when idolatry has taken over.

Wisdom in Odd Places

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Best Show!

The last few months, Will and I have been watching ABC's LOST on DVD. We had heard really good things about it from some friends and wanted to watch a show that would interest us both. We were not disappointed. It's definitely one of my favorite shows ever!

Forty-eight people survive a plane crash and are stranded on an island somewhere in the South Pacific, but they come to find out, it is no ordinary island. What's sounds to be a bit of a silly Gilligan's Island theme, is really so much better. From the first moment of the very first episode, it is immediate action and intrigue, beginning with the survivors waking up to a fiery plane on a beach with mass chaos all around. LOST is in the mystery/suspense/fantasy genre with REALLY complex characters whose pasts intertwine with the present and whose storyline's intersect. They are constantly struggling with their own humanity and battling with their past identities and their chances for change. Even though some of the circumstances, twists, and storylines are far-fetched, the "reality" or "relevance" lies within the raw humanity and inner conflicts of the characters. So, the fanciful elements actually compliment the characters and what seems to be bizarre nonsense at first, eventually makes more sense and serves a meaningful purpose.

Since the cast is so large, each episode singles out a particular character and reveals part of their past and how it connects to what is occurring in the present on the island through inserting a series of flashbacks. The island itself becomes a character, shrouded in mystery and possibility. The writing tends to have dark undercurrents (not horror movie dark), but there is always MORE going on or something DIFFERENT going on than how it first appears. It keeps the viewer guessing, surprised, and invested in the characters. The cast is SO good, featuring diverse characters of different nationalities, ethnicity, and worldviews. There are Americans, Australians, English, an Iraqi, a wise-cracking smart redneck, a rock star, a pregnant girl, a Korean couple that can't speak English, and a slue of other interesting characters that all stretch far beyond these simple descriptions. The contrasting identities play off each other and help develop and change each character.

WARNING: I never like to recommend something without also telling what could be possibly offensive, so I don't have to hear about later :) There are some supernatural elements to the show, which offend some people, but it doesn't enter into the 'demonic realm' or anything. There are good, bad, and in between characters, thus these characters, even the good ones, tend to mess up, make complicated decisions, and do some bad things. There are elements of violence (although not gory), betrayal, deception, etc. But there are also elements of redemption, forgiveness, restitution, and change. In three seasons, there has only been a handful of inappropriate sexual moments. It's on ABC, so there is no nudity or actual sex happening, but there are some innuendos, suggestions, and alluding to the fact that sex has occurred. But this show is not driven by characters sleeping around or even "love stories," but there are a handful of storylines that do deal with subject of sex.

The cast is so intriguing and so complex....Here are some pics, some character you might recognize such as Matthew Fox, from Party Of Five and Dominic Monaghan, who played Pippin in Lord of the Rings

This is my absolute favorite character, Sayid! I have such a crush on him. :)

Here's the promo for season 1. I would post promos or clips from season 2 and 3, but I don't want to spoil it for people who might want to start watching! :)

This is my favorite LOST montage
WARNING: The following montage contains clips from ALL 3 Seasons of Lost, so there are a MAJOR SPOILERS. If you are planning on watching the show (Marissa Lawrence, I'm talking to YOU!), you definetely SHOULD NOT watch the following clip.

If interested in watching this show, most Blockbusters or Movie Galleries have seasons 1 and 2 available to rent. Amazon also sells them fairly cheap, especially if you buy it used.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Count Down Begins

"Christianity is not called to conservatism, but to change. Jesus came into the world not to conserve the system that was, but to change the world into what it ought to be."--Tony Campolo

This Monday (Sept 17), Will and I are going down to Alpharetta to see Tony Campolo, who will be speaking at a Methodist Church. I've pretty much read every book that he has ever written and listened to his audio sermons, but this will be the first time I'll be seeing him in person since I was a kid. I'm pretty sure this will be an emotional experience for me, since God used one of His sermons to open my eyes to the teachings of Jesus at a time when I was literally on the verge of throwing in towel of my faith. And now that I have somewhat of a grasp of those teachings, all I have to do is learn how to better live them. Yikes! Anyway, if I meet Tony Campolo, I plan to thank him for being a voice for a new generation of Christians fed up with a prevalent christianity tainted by power and politics. Oh, and I'll probably be babbling, blubbering, and making a complete fool of myself :)

Anyway, if anyone of my Georgia based readers would like to go with us, all are welcome. Just let me know!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Just How Foolish Are We?

The foolishness of the cross (1 Corithians 1:18) is a concept my flesh constantly wrestles with. It's an ironic statement really, revealing more about humanity's foolishness than God's. His wisdom so supersedes ours that the best way it can be explained to us is as "foolishness." It's a concept that calls for radical sacrifice, radical grace, radical vulnerability, and the radical theology of the Sermon on the Mount. The foolishness of the cross consumes all the micro and macro issues of our time: family, marriage, community, poverty, charity, justice, abortion, war, environment, capital punishment, economic ethics, nationalism, imperialism, capitalism, politics, government, church, prayer, personal faith and relationship with God and each other....oh how the list goes on. And all of this, for the believer, must fall at the foot of the cross and at the mercy of its foolishness. The following article that appeared in Sojourners Magazine is about how the foolishness of the cross takes shape in the body of Christ that is on a pilgrimage through this world singing "Thy Kingdom, Thy Will be Done, ON EARTH as it is in Heaven."

The Foolishness of the Cross
A reflection on the cost of discipleship.

By Joe Roos

In the gospel of Mark, Jesus speaks of the cross and ties it to the meaning of discipleship: "If any want to be my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" (Mark 8:34).

Think for a moment what the cross meant for those who were listening to Jesus and for those who were reading Mark's gospel some 30 years later. Ched Myers puts it this way: "The cross in Mark's day was neither religious icon nor metaphor for personal anguish or humility. It had only one meaning: that terrible form of capital punishment reserved by imperial Rome for political dissenters." Myers goes on: "The cross was a common sight in the revolutionary Palestine of Mark's time; in this recruiting call, the disciple is invited to reckon with the consequences facing those who dare to challenge the hegemony of imperial Rome."

With this ominous invitation, the cost of discipleship got much, much bigger. Embracing Jesus means embracing that cross. Mark doesn't say it, but I suspect that after these words, the crowds around Jesus got smaller.

Paul takes up the theme of the cross in his first letter to the church at Corinth: "For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18). Taking up the cross and following Jesus not only entails great cost, it is also viewed by the world as an utterly foolish thing to do.

I attended some of the first meetings held at Sojourners out of which the organization Witness for Peace was formed in 1983. Witness' first office was in the same building as Sojourners. Today, Witness for Peace is a grassroots organization of people who work for changes in U.S. policy and corporate practices in order to support peace, justice, and sustainable economies throughout the Americas. But at its birth more than 20 years ago, its singular founding purpose was to literally stand between the guns of the U.S.-supported contras and the Nicaraguan peasants at whom the guns were pointed. Two people from Sojourners were part of the first Witness for Peace team that went to Jalapa, Nicaragua, along the border with Honduras, where the contras were encamped.

Initial U.S. press coverage of Witness was not very positive. To most journalists, what Witness was doing made no sense. After the first team went to Jalapa, I remember a political cartoon that ran in the Los Angeles Times. The cartoon caricatured people standing along the border in front of contra guns, holding a sign that said, "Witness for Peace." The caption read, "Witless for Peace." When I first saw it, I laughed out loud. I loved it. The cartoonist, without knowing it, had hit upon a fundamental truth of the gospel, exactly as 1 Corinthians says: "The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." To stand in the way of bullets like that, to risk getting killed over something not directly affecting you, seems like one of the craziest, most foolish things anyone could do. Witless indeed!

RIGHT-WING TALK SHOW host Rush Limbaugh doesn't get it either. In November 2005, four members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq were abducted. Like Witness for Peace, Christian Peacemaker Teams are committed to reducing violence by "getting in the way."

Limbaugh's response to news of the abduction was more crude and cruel than the LA Times cartoonist's response to Witness' presence in Nicaragua. He first called it a publicity stunt, but then said if the kidnapping was real, "I like it. I like any time a bunch of leftist feel-good hand-wringers are shown reality." Unreal, crazy, witless, foolish. Standing up to this system of violence may have made the hostages fools and outcasts to some people in the world, but for those who believe in the power of the gospel of peace, it makes sense. The foolishness of the cross is far more real than Rush Limbaugh's version of reality.

There is something inherently paradoxical about the cross. William Stringfellow, in A Simplicity of Faith, stresses that at the heart of the gospel is a "sense of absurdity—an instinct for paradox—a conviction that truth is never bland but lurks in contradiction." To lose your life is to save it. Unless a grain of wheat dies, it can not bring life. To take up the cross is to embrace the power of God. It doesn't make sense; it's foolish—unless you see it from the eyes of faith, from the converted heart. For believers, it is the very power that transforms lives.
Shortly after describing the foolishness of the cross in verse 18 of 1 Corinthians, Paul goes on to quote from the end of Isaiah 29:14. Verses 13 and 14 in Isaiah are more compelling together, and in their entirety:

The Lord God said: Because these people draw near to me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote; so I will again do amazing things with this people, shocking and amazing. The wisdom of their wise shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning shall be hidden.

When following God becomes reduced to following commandments by rote, be ready for God to shock.

Søren Kierkegaard, the great Danish theologian, addresses this point beautifully. "Christianity," he writes, "has taken a giant stride into the absurd. Remove from Christianity its ability to shock and it is altogether destroyed. It then becomes a tiny superficial thing, capable neither of inflicting deep wounds nor of healing them. It's when the absurd starts to sound reasonable that we should begin to worry." He goes on to name a few of Christianity's shocking, absurd assertions: "Blessed are the meek; thou shalt not kill; love your enemies; go, sell all you have and give to the poor."

Even embedded in the Ten Commandments is the absurd, the foolish, the paradoxical. The Ten Commandments don't begin with "Here are ten commandments, learn them by rote," or "Here are ten commandments, obey them." Instead, they begin with a sweeping announcement of freedom: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery" (Exodus 20:2). We will probably always think of the declarations that follow as the Ten Commandments. But we could, and probably should, think of them as invitations to God's liberation. Because the Lord is your God, you are free to not need any other gods. You are free from the tyranny of lifeless idols. You are free to rest on the Sabbath. You are free to enjoy your parents as long as they live. You are set free from murder, stealing, and covetousness as ways to establish yourself in the land.

But that's not how we think of the Ten Commandments. When the late Kurt Vonnegut was interviewed on National Public Radio about debate on placing the Ten Commandments in courthouses and the like, he responded by saying: "Why the Ten Commandments? I haven't heard any of these people talk about putting the beatitudes up [on the walls of government buildings]." He continued, "'Blessed are the merciful' in a courtroom? 'Blessed are the peacemakers' in the Pentagon? Give me a break! Not exactly the stuff of Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney."

IF I'M HONEST with myself—perhaps if we are all honest with ourselves—there are ways in which we, each in our own way, resist the foolishness of the cross. The cross, Paul says, seems like foolishness to the part of us that is attached to the world, the part of us that is perishing. The cross is God's foolishness and is wiser than our wisdom. The cross is God's weakness and is stronger than our strength. Yet to the part of us that is inculcated with the assumptions and values of our culture, the cross doesn't make sense. Rarely do we choose to be foolish or weak.

Will Willimon has asked some good questions about this foolishness of the cross. What kind of sense does it make to worship a God who, instead of rescuing us out of trouble, rescues us by entering into the trouble with us? A God who, instead of helping us to avoid pain, heals us from our pain by entering the depths of our pain with us? A God who, instead of fixing things for us, addresses them by becoming weak with us in our weakness?

But this is the foolishness of the cross. All of us know pain and grief and disappointment in our lives. Our human wisdom wants a God who will heal us and make us feel better. The foolishness of the cross is a God who enters into our pain and bears our pain with us. To the part of us that is human and perishing, this is incomprehensible and we want something more. But to the part of us that is being saved, it is the very power of God.

And even more foolishly, this very same God expects us to do the same with each other: to enter into each other's pain, to bear each other's burdens and those of the world around us. To the world, that is an utterly foolish way to live, but to those who embrace the cross, who take up their cross and follow Jesus, and who are ready to lose their lives to save their lives, it is the only way to live. It is the power of God within us.

Each of us bears the responsibility, daily, of taking the cross more and more upon our selves, losing ourselves and finding ourselves in the process.

If we want to take Jesus seriously, if we want to go deeper in our discipleship, we must follow in the way of God's foolishness. That's where God calls us to be.

As Frederick Buechner writes: "In terms of human wisdom, Jesus was a perfect fool. And if you think you can follow him without making something like the same kind of fool of yourself, you are laboring not under the cross, but a delusion."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Bitterness Saves the Day!

Just kidding. But I was almost killed today while driving home by the most agile deer I have ever witnessed in my life. There I was, a few houses down from my house, minding my own business and indulging a fantasy of telling off someone who offended my friend. When my mind wonders off while driving, I tend to drive slow...really slow...grandma slow. So, all of a sudden, in the middle of my imaginary rant, a huge deer jumps OVER the front hood of my car, only inches a way from smashing through my windshield. You did not misread, the deer did not run in front of my car, but catapulted CLEAR over it. If I was going any faster, there is not a doubt in my mind that the deer would have crashed through my windshield and pierced my brain with a hoof or something. I slammed on my breaks and two baby deer trotted out after their mum. So, while I probably shouldn't have been dwelling on sticking my nose in someone else's business, I think it might have saved my life. Oh, and God in His mercy and split-second close theatrics steered me clear of tragedy, too. :)

Monday, September 3, 2007

Ahh. Back When Feminism Was Cool

I've been sick all weekend, bound to the couch with a box of tissues, a stack of books, and the remote control. HBO was showing a slew of historical movies, like JFK with Kevin Costner, about the investigation lead by D.A. Jim Garrison to uncover the conspiracy to assassinate the President and Cry Freedom with Denzel Washington about apartheid in South Africa. Since I was on a historical kick, I popped in one of my very favorite and semi-obscure movies: Iron Jawed Angels. The film is based on the true story of suffrage-activists Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, who campaigned for a federal amendment to the constitution, granting women the right to vote during the 1910s.

I discovered this movie last year when I had to watch it for my American History class. We were studying the over 60-year long suffrage movement, led by three generations of very diverse feminists. Alice Paul and Lucy Burns were third generation feminists: bold, educated, and idealistic, dedicated to a federal amendment to put an end to the injustice of 20 million women who were denied self-government and were still taxed without representation. Alice Paul, Lucy Burns and other like them rejected the the slow and tiresome task of state by state campaigns, which after 60 years, only produced 9 states that allowed women to vote. I love this film because it tells a true story, of which not many people are aware. Sure, most people know women won the right to vote in 1919, but how we got there is a little sketchy.

Besides the creation of three sub-plot characters, the movie maintains a high level of fidelity to the historical account. Every character, demonstration, protest, parade, arrest, presidential speech, and newspaper article depicted are real, right down to the very words on the signs that suffragists held up as they protested. I've watched this movie several times with different people and every time a certain part arrives, everyone asks, "Did that really happen?!" And that's why this movie is important to watch: 1919 was less than 100 years ago, and to realize the hardships women endured because they wanted to vote is an important and shocking part of our history. The first time I watched this film, it made me want to go out and vote in every election available. Voting is a right I have taken for granted because I did not realize how much women had to sacrifice and struggle to get it.

Being this is an HBO film, there is some bizarre cinematography that I could have done without. The film makers mix contemporary music into the film, which I enjoy, but others have said it distracts from the time-period. The first half of the film tends to be a little slow, but once World War I breaks out, the history comes out in full force.

WARNING: For the sensitive crowd, there is one inappropriate scene with Hillary Swank in a bath tub. There is no nudity, you only can see her face and legs. However, this montage is unimportant to the rest of the film and if you find it offensive, just fast forward when you hear the Sarah McLachlan song start to play and you will not miss a thing. :)

Anyway, once again, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and felt inspired by the courage of these women to persevere for what they believed in. It's also a good reminder that it only takes a few dedicated people to change the course of history.

Here is a photo from one of the protest signs in the movie and the corresponding one from real life:
Here is the trailer for the movie: