Friday, August 18, 2006

Rambling Around

I've been cleaning house and putting together teaching materials today, which means I've been on the computer a lot. Floor-washing and notebook organizing require a break about, oh, every five seconds or so for those of us operating out of an ADD context. So I've been rambling around the house, the internet, my own mind.

The house doesn't look so bad, but the yard needs some work. Tomorrow night we are celebrating the Lovely Daughter's turning 19 on the 19th with as many friends as we can scrounge up -- a lot of them are out of town. Once we pick Chicago Son up at the airport tonight, our three children will be together for the first time since Christmas. Advice To Parents of Children Who Will All Be In College At The Same Time: either they all choose schools on semesters or they all choose schools on quarters. A blend DOES NOT WORK.

I read
this online today, in a comment to a review of an Anne Lamott book:

"I remember thinking "wow, here's a liberal with a genuine experience of Jesus." (I didn't know that was possible...) Needless to say the book blew the doors of my conservatism wide open."

I hope the gentleman doesn't mind my quoting him. I couldn't decide whether to chuckle or weep, but he hit on a topic that's been on my mind lately. Partly because my Presbyterian Church is in such a stew over Certain Issues and those who disagree with me would, as far as I can tell, like either to see me align myself with them or to cast me and my ilk out as apostates of the worse kind. The language gets pretty harrowing. And depressing.

Partly because I am wading through my own call to ministry and it's hard, in ways that are probably fairly atypical. Most people getting ready to visit their Committee on Preparation for Ministry are young, energetic, musing over their own college loans rather than those of their children, their own love lives rather than their concerns over a three-times widowed and once-divorced parent. Probably not so many have spouses, children, parents all pretty much oblivious to the work of the spirit.

And partly -- oh yeah, that "liberal with a genuine experience of Jesus" stuff. Ayh-yep. Surprisingly enough, c'est moi, ordinary middle-aged midwest mom. I was looking at myself in the mirror at the drugstore today as I picked up a prescription for Son Who Has Returned from Spain with yet another fungal infection due, apaprently, to pesticide-doused fruit. Linen capris, teal t-shirt, flip-flops, bright red-and-sparkly toenail polish, chin-length haircut. I look just like every other woman I know (except for the ones who can stand to sit still for highlights and manicures). I've been told recently that I make it quite clear about where I stand politically (not in an abrasive kind of way, just in a clear kind of way) -- and, like many people around here, I feel pretty middle-of-the-road but I keep hearing my views, religious and secular, described as "radically liberal." So here I am, liberal mom/lawyer/teacher with a genuine experience of Jesus. I guess a lot of people, including a lot of my friends, find something anomalous in that. To me -- it feels powerful and quiet.

And as a result, something else I read touched me today -- you can read it for yourself
here. I was struck by the remark that "what we do [in church] is increasingly strange and unfamiliar to a watching world," and by what followed it. I do a LOT of things on a daily basis that reflect my faith and its power in my life, but most of them would not be apparent to anyone else. And I suppose they would seem strange and unfamiliar, which became particularly clear to me last week-end when I visited some of my extended family and realized how far apart our priorities are -- in ways that were immediately obvious to me but I'm sure are invisible to them.

I was also struck by the workplace example in the above piece -- and it gave me a much-needed boost as I get ready to return to teaching next week. I've been feeling a bit down about that, as it will mean coming face-to-face with the conflict in Lebanon in ways that I am able to avoid as long as it is August. I need a way of being in the world, as we all do, and it seems that we Presbyterians, despite the chasm that divides us over some matters, do share something transformative at the core of our lives.

Well. I have to feed the dog and decide whether the damage I did to my back at the gym and on that 1600-mile-drive precludes a walk. I think it will take a l-o-n-g walk to shake off this end-of-summer wistfulness.


jim said...

Don't mind it one bit! Thanks, and I'll be checking in on your blog every once in a while.

I see you have a link to Tulane University. I did a Master's in Health Admin and lived in NO nine years prior to seminary.


Kathryn said...

Lots to think about here - your post and in following the link. The possibility of being in a post-Christian culture is a new concept to me. I do find traces of it in my life though as people express surprise at my interest in my church, religion in general, and nurturing/exploring my spirituality. All completely irrelevant concepts to many of them and church/religion is viewed as backward and unenlightened.

Cynthia said...

I love this entry, and it really struck home with me. I was talking with a friend from church yesterday, and she said about our church that our small but significantly growing membership is all a bunch of misfits who don't fit in anywhere else but at our church, we're like a hand in a glove. I'm not the only one who went to this church and found it so different from any other church environment they'd ever known but recognized it as a spiritual home. What we're doing is seen as strange, and so much of it is a large part of our daily lives. I've never thought about this being a post-Christian culture, and I have to admit that I pull away from that concept like moving away from fire. I want to completely reject it, but I realize the point it's making. Maybe a post-church culture. Anyway, thanks for putting my mind in motion.

Quotidian Grace said...

Thanks, GG. Great post. I was also struck by Russell's post yesterday and it made me realize the great gap between the unchurched and someone like me who grew up in the church and never left it.

I really wish I could have been at the PGF meeting, too. I find the PGF focus on mission much more appealing than the navel-gazing of most of the other conservative Presby groups. I'll be interested to see how this group develops and hope they will be a force for good and unity in the church.

Russell Smith said...

I'm humbled and thankful for the link. Thanks for your thoughtful meditations -- and thanks for the great Iona pictures. I know coveting is a sin -- but dagummit, I'm jealous :)


Purechristianithink said...

I found the quote, "I don't get it, why do you all get together and sing", particularly sad. Not only for what it reveals about the unchurched, but about what it reveals about the atomization of the whole culture. Christianity aside, human beings have ALWAYS gotten together to sing. Always. You can hardly find a traditional culture in which collective music making was not an important element. The fact that "coming together to sing" seems odd and wierd reveals not just the Church's waning influence, but a profound shift in human consciousness, I think.

peripateticpolarbear said...

Good providence at COPM, and by the way, the 'average' inquirer is 42. You're in very good company.

lightyears2venus said...

Yes, lots to respond to here. St. Augustine said singing is praying twice (or something along those lines). I've been suspecting that I'm slightly ADD for some time and ramble all the time, too. Yet another connection with you. Your daughter is lovely, indeed. Isn't it a daily miracle to have produced (made all by ourselves!) a beautiful young lady. I look like "just like every other woman I know", too, but my daughter is drop-dead gorgeous--or at least to my eyes--and I marvel at her all the time. Enjoy your family time. People who don't think there are liberal Christians are just dolts with blinders on. We're everywhere. I was feeling neutral about the start of school, but now that I'm back in school in full swing, I'm re-energized! You will be, too. On the other side, I'm so excited and envious of your exploration of change. Best wishes always,

Lisa :-] said...

End of summer wistfulness...experiencing a little of that myself, these days.

You go right ahead and BE a liberal Christian. I'm convinced Jesus would be branded a liberal by our conservative leaders...

Virginia said...

I think "post Christian" culture is an inaccurate statement. Christianity is not going away. We are, however, becoming a more pluralistic society, with one or a few Christian denominations not having the monopoly they once had on dictating everyone's life choices, thoughts and practices - a monopoly that at one time allowed and encouraged a real negative stigma to be placed on other less traditional practices of faith and spirit that are now becoming more accepted.

As someone who exist outside the Christian faith, I can say that Christianity is alive and well in our culture and isn't going away any time soon, and from my perspective, is still the predominate practice.

Peace, Virginia