There Are More Than Two Ways to Say Tomato

Memory Monday

That Armish blue cheese a few weeks ago really got me thinking–about accents in general and about accents local to me in particular.

Even though I mostly grew up here, I do not have a local accent. I have a flat, boring, Midwestern television accent, more or less. (I definitely heard some Minnesotan-leaning vowels in the beginning of my sermon, which is weird, because I have never lived in Minnesota.) This is probably because my parents also have that accent, also more or less, but I can’t begin to tell you why theirs are like that, because both of them originated in states known for accentual distinctions, and Grandma M boasts what I call an “Old Rhode Island” accent like you have never heard before or since.

When our family moved from Honduras to New England, TheBro was little enough not to have been conscious of accents until then, but he knew about different languages. He knew that in Honduras the language was Spanish, and in the United States it was English, so when Grandma M read, in a story before bed, about the beahs going to the mahket, he said with maybe a little bit of condescension, “Grandma. In Spanish we say maRket.”

These were the beahs in question. I remembah.

These were the beahs in question. I remembuh.

Having started (and largely continued) my life in terror of doing, saying, or thinking something wrong, my brother’s “mistaken” correction mortified me. This felt need not to make any mistakes is also what prevented me from learning actual Spanish at all during the six very formative years we lived in Honduras, and it is, I believe, the real reason I did not pick up the accent of the area where I have spent most of my life, and why I haven’t picked up any other ones, either. (I am also dismal at mimicking any–to the current dismay of three of the Youth Group girls who are in a play where one of them needs to fake an Irish accent and was hoping I could provide some coaching.)

They'd be better off with one of these...

They’d be better off with one of these…

It has to be admitted that around the same time TheBro was still trying to discern the true differences between English and Spanish, my parents were getting our new house ready while we stayed with the Grandparents M, and that sometimes they would come back after these preparations and joke about the accent native to the area we were about to move to. Because at age almost-eight I took everything my parents said intensely seriously, I assumed there was something inherently wrong with this accent, and/or that if I spoke in that way, I would be laughed at. Since being laughed at was one of the worst things I could think of, I immediately became very vigilant to keep from picking up any local linguistic idiosyncrasies.

Sometimes I regret it, but on the other hand, if you remain something of an outsider, you can sometimes notice funny things that a local wouldn’t necessarily pick up. For example, my Paul doesn’t believe me when I point out that there is a very localised sub-accent within our county which not only removes r‘s, but puts them in places where they aren’t. (Waste not, want not, I guess.) But I know this because not only is there Armish blue cheese, but I have known multiple people from Our Fair City’s county who speak this way. (This happens in some parts of the UK as well.) The most notable was my Sunday school teacher, who taught us about Mary and Mahther” in the New Testament. I used to sit around on Sunday afternoons mulling over this phenomenon which, even as a young child, amused me greatly.

It was also funny to me when one day during a sentence correction exercise in third grade, one of my friends posited that the error in the sentence was that idea was spelled without an r. You know, as in, “I have an idear.” Conversely, it turned out that vodka really IS spelled and pronounced vodka, and not vodker as I had assumed, based on my knowledge of dropped r‘s.

Nowadays, I wish I could at least plausibly imitate this accent, but although I can tell you when someone (like Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips, for example, for all he filmed the opening scenes at our airport) is butchering it . . . I also butcher it when I try. So you won’t hear me trying. You might hear some other people trying to get rid of it, though.

(N.B. There are surprising variations even on New England accents, so the ones in this video aren’t exactly local to me, but they’re close enough that you’ll get the idea. Plus I just love this video.)



Sometimes you just gotta get back to your roots, I guess.

This morning, after having Uncle Phil and the Girl Cousins–as well as Mom and Dad–over last evening, my Paul and I went to Mom and Dad’s to join the whole crew for plätter (Swedish pancakes) for breakfast. Grandma was always the extended-family-gathering plätter maker, but she’s not doing as well as she used to, so Mom’s carrying on the tradition, much to our delight.

Grandma can still play the piano and sing, though, as you can plainly see. This hymn is one to which Uncle Phil wrote the words.

Now we know where he got it in the first place. (Grandpa could also sing.)

Grandma was pretty happy to have her youngest son and all her granddaughters with her today.

Grandmother and granddaughters

Grandmother and granddaughters

She kept saying what a nice surprise it was. “This might be the best time I’ve ever had in my whole life,” she said. “Except, I suppose, the day I got married.” Let’s admit that her memory isn’t the best anymore, but still–she didn’t even say one word about having been to Sweden, so it must have been a pretty good day.

It WAS a good day.

It WAS a good day.


Afterwards I went back to my usual environs and had supper with five of my classmates from my Small Christian School. Some of us have not seen each other for (ahem!) 24 years. We are planning our first class reunion ever for, you know, next year when the length of time we haven’t seen each other is more five-ish.

Because it was a Small Christian School, we share a lot of memories, and some of them go back long before high school. It was fun blending stories of things we all remembered (or had forgotten we remembered) with stories of things we’re doing now. It seemed inordinately wonderful to see each other again. Our graduating class only had 24 kids in it, and it seems like we’ve all been through kind of a lot, but that things are settling down for most of us these days. We laughed a lot.

Impromptu reunion "committee."

Impromptu reunion “committee.”

Sometimes, I guess, you just gotta get back to your roots.

Family Friday

Family Friday

Today is kind of a big deal. Today Uncle Phil and the Girl Cousins, and Mom and Dad, were here for dinner. Uncle Phil and his daughters live many states away, and the other Girl Cousin on Mom’s side of the family (a.k.a. Travel Cousin) lives a few states away, and Mom and Dad only live 15 minutes away, but it’s astounding how comparatively little we see them, so having all of them here was pretty exciting.

So exciting that I took this barely-blue milk of magnesia bottle that my Paul pulled out of the ground the other day, and put some marigolds in it in front of the fire pit for a decoration. I'm not sure anyone saw it before we had to move them so we could put a fire in the fire pit, though.

So exciting that I took this barely-blue milk of magnesia bottle that my Paul pulled out of the ground the other day, and put some marigolds in it in front of the fire pit for a decoration. I’m not sure anyone saw it before we had to move them so we could put a fire in the fire pit, though.

We had supper on the boat.

Uncle Phil and the Girl Cousins...would make a good name for a band? Well, at least these three would make a good band.

Uncle Phil and the Girl Cousins…would make a good name for a band? Well, at least these three would make a good band.

Then we had dessert around the bonfire.

The bonfire which looks like an Adventure Time character.

The bonfire which looks like an Adventure Time character.

We talked a lot–mostly about things rarely talked about in our family. Like farting. It was a good time. I’m gonna go now, so I can rest up and hang out more with these awesome relatives tomorrow. G’night!

Wilderness Tensions

Theology Thursday

Here is the sermon I was telling you about yesterday. This was Round One. Round Two went better, partly because the people in the second service are more apt to laugh at jokes, and partly because I had already made it through this here trial run. (Please feel free to leave comments on the video itself, and/or thumbs up and down.


Also here (in case you couldn’t decipher my mumbling) is the sermon I was telling you about yesterday.

Wilderness Tensions – Exodus 16.2-16

Who here has been on a road-trip? How ‘bout a LONG road-trip? How ‘bout a LONG roadtrip with super whiny kids? The story from the passage that Don read for us today is, in a way, about a really really long road-trip with really really whiny kids. Going on this trip together are God, Moses and Aaron who are God’s spokesmen, and the rest of the Israelites. They’re all traveling together through this bleak desert, and every time something doesn’t go the way the Israelites want, they start whining, “Are we there yet?”

As you know, in the Bible passages of the past few weeks, God has just set the Israelites free from 400 years—400 years—of slavery in Egypt. The thing is, they don’t know what to do with their freedom. And, if the truth were known, they don’t know what to do with God, either. In fact, even though they’ve seen the plagues in Egypt, and they saw the Red Sea split in half, and right before this story God cleaned up some brackish water for them so they’d have something to drink, they seem to have forgotten all about God because now their bellies are rumbling and they’re blaming Moses and Aaron. They’re kind of being drama queens about it, too—

The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wildernessThe Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you [Moses and Aaron] have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Listen to what they’re saying. They’re saying, “We had it good in Egypt!” [They didn’t—they were being tortured there. For 400 years.] “If God had any part of this, He would have just let us die there.” [It’s pretty clear from the preceding stories that God is the reason they didn’t die in Egypt.] “YOU guys are interfering jerks who dragged us out of luxury to this horrible place to starve to death.” [There was luxury, but the only one of them who ever experienced any of that was Moses.]

I think if I were Moses and Aaron I might’ve at least thought of saying to the Israelites, “Seriously, guys? You are a pain in the . . . neck! We would not be doing this if we didn’t have to. This totally was not our idea!” I guess they’re a little more mature than I am, because they don’t say that in so many words. But they do say, “Okay, people. God hears you. God is going to feed you. But please understand, you whiners, that when you think you are complaining about us, you are really complaining about God.”

That same night, God sends quail so the people have, you know, protein to keep their strength up, and the next morning, God covers the ground with this flaky bread substance they’ve never seen before, which they can gather to prepare for their families to eat. The end.

Good story, right? But what does it have to do with us?

We could probably preach sermons on this one passage for a couple of weeks, but one concept kept coming back to me as I read over and studied this passage, and that is that God wants to know us and be known by us. God wants to be an active, integral, irreplaceable part of our daily lives. God wants us to come to Him when need something. “Give us this day our daily bread,” anyone?

A few weeks ago some simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting videos appeared on the Internet, of soldiers airlifting Yazidi refugees out of Iraq. This is the closest present-day parallel I can think of to what God did for the Israelites in the book of Exodus. But the Exodus story goes beyond even that extreme rescue. Because instead of just getting the people out of Egypt and then leaving them to get on with life, God stays with them, leads them, protects them, provides for them. This is what God wants to do for all people. We were created in God’s image, to reflect God to the world through our relationship with God. This is why God rescued the Israelites, and this is why God wants to rescue us from a life of slavery to our own selves or our own circumstances.

The Israelites in this passage knew about God. They had been praying for 400 years to this vague “God of our ancestors” concept, that He would rescue them. But because up to that point they had had so little personal experience of Him, it appears they didn’t recognise His work in their lives when He began actually answering those prayers. So they put it all on Moses and Aaron.

Moses tells it like it is: “What are we, that you complain against us?” he asks in verse 7. And in verse 8 he says it again: “What are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.” And then in verse 9 he says, “Draw near to the Lord, for He has heard your complaining.”

There are two words in that verse that sum up one of the main messages of this text: Draw near. “Come a little closer,” God is saying. “You guys obviously don’t know Me yet. All that complaining you’re doing? Is not against my leaders. It’s against Me. But don’t worry. I hear you. Draw near.” God wants to know us and be known by us. It just might be that when we’re going through a hard time and looking around for someone to blame, God is right there, saying, “Come over here, child. Stop freaking out. This is happening in your life because it is the only way I could think of to get you to just stop, and get to know Me. Draw near.” He wasn’t going to let the Israelites starve to death. That had never been His intention. But He allowed them to get hungry so they’d have the opportunity to get close.

There are two reasons I can think of that the people would have blamed Moses and Aaron and assumed those two men had led them into the wilderness to starve them to death. Either they didn’t know who God was, or they knew exactly who God was.

The Israelites had been passing along stories about this God for centuries—stories of how God had chosen their ancestors, stories of what God had done for their ancestors. But until God started sending plagues to Egypt, they hadn’t experienced God personally and directly themselves. They had probably heard very accurately about some of God’s characteristics—God is creator, God is good, God is holy, God is just. They were starting to experience God’s power. But if that’s all they knew about God, they might have been afraid to be honest and complain about God Himself because . . . what it if God got mad? We’ve seen God mad. Or maybe God just doesn’t care. Maybe this problem isn’t big enough for God to bother with. God took care of all the big stuff, but this is just humdrum “we gotta eat, people” problems and God has more important things to deal with. Because we know God is good, and if that’s true and He’s still involved, how can we be in this terrible situation? We’re so hungry! A good God wouldn’t put us in this fix. Must be Moses’ and Aaron’s fault.

It makes sense, right? And don’t we do that sometimes? Some of us have been going to church our whole lives. We’ve heard the stories. Maybe we’ve even experienced a few things that we can point to and say, “God did that!” But the stories and miracles have nothing to do with normal life, and normal life has struggles which have nothing to do, we think, with what we know about the goodness and love of God. We might complain about our lives—we might complain a lot, and sometimes we might even have good reason to—but there’s no way we would come right out and blame God for our difficulties. That would be disrespectful, and we know that at least God deserves our respect.

We say, “I’m going to get established in my job, or my family, or my hobbies, or even my volunteer work, and then maybe I’ll have time for God and church.” Then, when things don’t go our way, we blame other people, or we might even blame ourselves, but we don’t draw near to God because . . . if we’re honest with ourselves, we just aren’t totally convinced God cares that much. We think we have to get our lives figured out on our own before we can “draw near” to God. We don’t want to bother him with this normal life stuff. If we keep going like this long enough, we become spiritually as hungry as these Israelites were physically hungry, there in the desert. We’re absolutely starving, but we don’t know what to do about it—so we just complain.

But God does care about the basic stuff of life. In verse 12, God tells Moses to say to the Israelites, “At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.” God has heard the cries of His people, and He is planning to satisfy their hunger as He satisfied their thirst in the last chapter. But they’re going to get hungry again, and they’re going to get thirsty again, and God really wants them to know who He is, because God is the one who has led them to freedom, and has rescued them from their enemies, and has quenched their thirst, and will fill their stomachs. He will do that for us, too, if we take our concerns to Him.

You might, if you read it a certain way, even hear God’s pain and longing when He tells Moses, “You’ll all get to eat—and then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” Maybe you didn’t know it when I sent the plagues . . . or when I split the sea apart . . . or when I purified the water for you, but after this? Then you will know who I am . . . “ God isn’t needy like the Israelites were in this story, but if you love someone deeply, it’s natural to long for them to love you back.

On the other hand, maybe, just maybe, the Israelites had a hunch about the kind of God they were dealing with. Maybe they did believe, but they didn’t want to draw near because they were afraid of what getting close to that creative, powerful, good, just and holy God would mean. Maybe they wanted the freedom, but not the upheaval to their lives that a relationship with this God would entail. They had seen some upheaval—plagues and a divided sea are kind of drastic first impressions!

I think we can understand this from our own lives, too. We can get quite comfortable with the idea that we are God’s children, but we’re maybe not so comfortable with the idea of having to interact with this Parent of ours. He might ask something difficult of us—something that interferes with our plans, something that might even change how we see ourselves and God and others. So we keep to ourselves as much as we can.

This apprehension is a little justifiable. In this passage it’s clear God expects something of them. God does fill their hunger . . . but He attaches some strings. He gives them a specific way and time that they are to gather this new wafer-like Manna bread. In verse 4 God comes right out at says He’s giving the Israelites a test. Sounds like a set up. What kind of loving God is that?

So yeah. Maybe God is just playing games. But I think what God is really doing is providing one more way for His people to learn and understand just who He is and how much He does love them. Obedience is not a popular word in our society, and that’s because among us humans, the concept is often abused. The Israelites already knew about obedience. They had been obeying their Egyptian slave drivers for centuries. That kind of obedience comes from fear at worst and duty at best. That kind of obedience negates relationship. It’s the kind where you just work hard and put your head down and hope you don’t get noticed.

But obedience from relationship is almost completely the opposite. It is not born of fear, but of trust. If you are a parent you know this. When your kid obeys you gladly, you love it, not because you have power over them to make them do things (I hope!), but because by obeying you, they took you at your word, trusting that you had their best interest at heart. In this passage the people haven’t even had the opportunity to disobey God about the manna yet. So I think what God is upset about here is their dishonest avoidance. They were hungry, and they were upset, but instead of taking their issues directly to God, it’s like they were kind of talking behind His back.

God so longs for people—the Israelites, but also all people—you and me, too—to “know that He is the Lord our God,” because if we know that—really know that, on the basis of an open and honest relationship with God, we will obey because we already know God’s heart. We already know that no matter what happens, He’s got us. We already know we can trust God—so that when God asks us to do something, we “obey,” not because we’re being ordered to, but because we trust the God who is telling us.

This, by the way, is what “faith” means. It means trust. And trust is practical. Trust does something. It isn’t something that is just in our heads. It isn’t a label. It’s an action. It means when God nudges you to help serve in the food pantry downstairs, you say yes because you know God’s going with you there. It means when you start to wonder if maybe you haven’t been totally honest in your business but that getting honest is going to have negative repercussions, you start cleaning up the mess anyway, because you know God will be with you as you do it. It means if you feel like you should probably be reading your Bible more but you don’t have one spare second in your day, you find one, because you trust that God will help you fit everything else in that needs to get done that day. It means going out on a limb for Someone who we are discovering is both loving and powerful enough to free us from our own personal slavery, deliver us from our enemies, quench our thirst, and fill our hunger.

Here’s the difference between our story and the Israelites, though. Even though I believe God wanted the Israelites to be honest about who they were really upset at, they really did have middle men: Moses and Aaron. It’s a lot easier to blame someone you can see than someone you can’t, and God had already been speaking through those two guys. But in the time between their story and ours, God became one of us, in the person of Jesus. We have the perfect middle man—someone who both perfectly represents God (because He is God) and us (because He became human). We really have no excuse not to draw near to God, because He has already drawn near to us. And here’s something interesting—not only is Jesus our mediator, like Moses and Aaron were to the people of Israel, but He tells us Himself in the book of John that He is our “Bread of Life.” He is our fulfillment. He is what we are really seeking. As we get to know Him, we will get to trust Him. If we bring Him the pieces of our lives, our hunger and our thirst—and even our disobedience—He will take those pieces and make something whole and fulfilled and trusting out of them.

Sometimes our relationship with God begins with—or at least contains—a time of tension. We all have ideas of how we want our lives to go. We might prefer that God gets to know us by following us along in our plans, instead of the other way around. It’s when we “draw near” to Jesus and honestly bring Him who we are, even if that means complaining to or arguing directly with Him for a while—without the other “middle men” of blame-shifting, false respect, or avoidance—that we can get to know and experience who God is. God is love, and that love is not always easy, but it is always trustworthy, and always glorious. He is the Bread of Life.

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’” 10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 The Lord spoke to Moses and said, 12 “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”

Present-day glory in the clouds

Present-day glory in the clouds


Wwwednesday – Work

Before tomorrow’s post, which is going to be really long, I should probably explain tomorrow’s post.

A week ago yesterday, I came back into work after mostly a week of vacation, and sat down in RevCD’s office for our weekly staff meeting, and she said, “Do you have anything pressing to discuss? Because I have a question for you.”

I did not have anything pressing to discuss, although I did have a list as long as my arm of things I needed to accomplish, having just gotten back from mostly a week of vacation. Turns out though, that sometimes there are more important things than Arm-Lists.

It also turns out that this was one of those times.

Every year, our congregation does something of a “church swap” with a church in inner city New York, and this past weekend was our week to go down there. I haven’t ever made it, because it’s always right after my Summer of Many Work Excursions Involving Overnight Chaperoning, and I’m always still recuperating from these travels at the time of this New York trip. But RevCD was going, and our usual pulpit supply people were also going, and someone (not RevCD, in truth) might have not managed to find someone to preach at our church on Sunday, so would I do it?

Sometimes I imagine this is most people's reaction to being confronted by a sermon, whether or not they have to give it.

Sometimes I imagine this is anyone’s reaction to being confronted by a sermon, whether or not they have to give it.

I said I would do it, but the last time I preached a real sermon I had over a month to work on it, and this time I had less than a week. And it’s not like I do this every week so I can just come up with them off the top of my head or anything.

I spent all day Wednesday writing that sermon.

Something wasn’t quite right about it–the flow or something–but I reread it until the entire thing sounded like gobbledy gook (kind of like when you say one word over and over and over and it stops sounding like the language it is–you do that, right?). Then on Saturday I took it out again and rewrote it three more times.

Then on Sunday morning I was getting ready for church and realised what the sermon was missing, so I threw my computer in my backpack, zipped on over to church, rewrote the thing again, printed it out on the church printer, put it in my Ringbinder-for-Sundays, and, a few hymns and prayers later, preached it. Twice. Although not at the same service. Tomorrow I’ll let you know what I preached.

And after all that, somehow even the Arm-List got done.

Coffee with Jesus

The Tuesday Reblog

This is a reblog not using the “reblog” function. We discovered the awesome Coffee with Jesus comic strips about a year ago. This one reminded me of my post on Thursday (even though that one was more about theology than politics), so I had to share it with you.


Walk On . . . In or Out

Theology Thursday

Note: No pastors I currently work with or am related to were referred to in the making of this post. Hopefully none were harmed, either.

Twice in my life, I nearly walked out in the middle of a church service. Only twice, but definitely twice.

(credit: Matt Hobbs)

(credit: Matt Hobbs)

One of the times, I was listening to a theologically conservative pastor, and the other time I was listening to a theologically liberal one. In both cases, the reason I almost walked out was because each one said something in one sentence which I thought was so theologically erroneous and dangerous I was surprised my ears didn’t fall off or my brain shrivel up inside my skull. In both cases, the reason I didn’t, in fact, walk out at all was because I loved people in those churches. I’m not talking gushy, romantic, possibly sketchy love. I’m talking about the kind of appropriate love you have for your friends, the people you know personally and in whose interests you take an interest.

I am telling you about all this because back in July I had an idea (it happens, occasionally) which I posted into this blog and which got a fair amount of feedback (well, for Jenn stories, anyway) from both sides of the theologically liberal/conservative aisle. And, with respect, People on Both Sides of Said Aisle, I’m not entirely convinced the commentators representing either group really understood the idea I was trying to convey. The idea as I stated it (and am still stating it because I can’t think of a better way to do so) was

Conservative (by which I mean fundamentalist and/or evangelical) seminaries should require their students to take at least six month internships at liberal (by which I mean mainline and/or progressive) churches, and liberal seminaries should require their students to take at least six month internships at conservative churches.

Let me say back to you (because this is, reputedly, a good listening skill), what I hear you saying you hear me saying vis à vis the above idea and its attendant original post:

Conservative churches and liberal churches should get over their differences and unite in tolerance and harmony.

Depending on the aisle-side on which you’re sitting, there may be implied boo-hisses or huzzahs connected to this summary . . . of an idea which isn’t actually what I was talking about. (The fact that people at opposite ends of the spectrum think I’m saying the same thing I’m not saying makes me concerned for my communication skills, but . . . maybe that’s why I’ve never been Freshly Pressed.)

For this specific idea I was talking solely about seminary students. Spending some time worshiping in and serving a church of a different stripe from one’s church of origin may have value for any churchgoer (I would argue it did for me before seminary was even a thought), but I’m not delving into that at the moment. I was only trying to say that people who feel a vocational call to serve the church, and are already investing time and money in theological thought and learning, really ought to be exposed to the (or an) opposite “brand” of Christian theology in real life, by real people who hold it, instead of being given at worst an alarmist or dismissive run-down, and at best a two-dimensional synopsis of the “opposing” views.

I think the value to the student and the people influenced by that student’s future ministry would be enormous, and (running the risk of repeating myself) I believe the three main benefits are as follows:

  1.  A stronger personal faith. Maybe it’s just me, but my relationship with Jesus grows deeper, and my interaction with (and I hope understanding of) the Bible grows sharper, and my trust in God’s heart and intended outcomes grows stronger when I have to wrestle with what I believe. I don’t have to wrestle too much if Prof SysTheo tells me about a view of the atonement that I don’t agree with and he doesn’t agree with either. (Although it has been noted that I don’t always agree with the material Prof SysTheo presents as somewhat more acceptable–and he’s an awesome enough professor to be okay with that.) But when I manage to resist the urge to walk out on either Liberal Pastor or Conservative Pastor, I do have to think about what they said and what I’ve always been taught and figure out which of the two views I actually hold and why.
  2. Humility. I’m a firm believer that once you notice you’re humble, you’re not, and I already know I’m not that humble anyway, so maybe this is theoretical. But I can tell you that when RevCD opened the pulpit to me to preach on John 3 (a notoriously evangelical passage), I saw what humility in the face of differing views looks like, and it’s pretty compelling. (There’s also this blogpost about the kind of humility I’m talking about, described a lot better that I can say it.) Genuine humility allows people the seminarian or pastor disagrees with to feel heard anyway, and also opens potential for real, meaningful–and potentially life-changing–dialogue, without the student’s own ego getting in the way of the Good News.

    This approach? Really not necessary.

    I’m going to go ahead and suggest this kid’s face negates what the dude in his left hand is doing.

  3. Love. When I didn’t walk out of those two sermons all those years back, it wasn’t because I thought what was said didn’t matter, or wasn’t dangerous, even, but because I did (and honestly still do). It was because I knew and cared about people in each of the churches represented. If I had walked out in either case, I may or may not have caused a scene, I only possibly would have made a statement (and probably not the one I wanted to make–again), and I indubitably would have shut down any opportunity to relate Jesus’ love to my friends in either of those churches in any meaningful way. From the perspective of one who has been ministered to, I can say that I receive such ministry much better if the person doing the ministering actually knows me, and loves me where I am and whether I stay there or not. If all I’m being handed is propositions, I get fed up pretty quickly–and this is me, a person who lives largely inside her own cranium, speaking. If all I’m handing to other people is propositions, the relationship is over before it starts. But if I remember that God loved the world so much He became one of us, who certainly weren’t on track with Him, to save us through relationship with Him, then I can enter any community He leads me to, for however long He leads me there. I can start to let Him love the people around me, through me. I can trust Him to bring us both into the state of mind and heart that He wants for us.
He'll sort it all out.

He’ll sort it all out.

Adding My Voice

Theology Thursday

I was going to write a new post about Today, and/or something magnificent for my 500th post, because this is my 500th post at this blog, but I think I already said everything I needed to about 9/11/2001, three years ago. In case you missed it then, this is what I said. It’s not entirely untheological.

That's a Jenn Story

Ten years ago today, I was in another country.

I had been living in that other country for over four years by then, and I didn’t yet know that within four months I would begin to feel unequivocally that God was calling me back to this one. I thought the following year I was going to apply for dual British/American citizenship, and I was going to settle in London for the rest of my days. I was getting ready to officially change my church membership over to the church with which I had been working all that time.

On the specific day in question, my Travel Cousin was in London with me, on account of traveling. It was early afternoon and we were going to see Cymbeline at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Neither of us knew anything about Cymbeline except that it was in the Shakespeare canon, but I had promised…

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Stuff I Think About

Wwwednesday – Wondering

What if the power of suggestion was only part of the reason you yawn when you see someone else yawn? What if the other reason was that, because they were expelling more carbon dioxide at once, and you were inhaling it, you needed to yawn both to take in more oxygen and to expel the excess CO2 yourself.

Of course, the fact that you just yawned after looking at this picture kind of negates that possibility.

Of course, the fact that you just yawned after looking at this picture kind of negates that possibility.


Today my Paul and I went to local orchard to get our first cider (not the hard kind, but Europeans, it really is still cider) of the season which, at this particular orchard, you can get for five cents a cup out of a barrel stuck in the wall.

Yet another reason why New England in the autumn is awesome.

Yet another reason why New England in the autumn is awesome.

You can also buy it in gallon containers, of course, but why would you go anywhere else if you can also get instant gratification like this?

Right next to the spigot was an upright glass refrigerator selling all kinds of cheese, including this one:

We get a little bit confused about our r's heah in New England.

We get a little bit confused about our r’s heah in New England.

Armish? Is that like the slightly more warlike cousins of the pacifistic Pennsylvania Dutch? We may never know . . .


On the way home from the orchard with the cider spigot and the Armish blue (not bleu) cheese, we saw a woman dancing her dogs. I mean dancing. She had two dogs on leashes, and earbuds in her ears, and she was literally dancing down the street. My Paul and I both burst out laughing and then remarked to each other how refreshing it was to see an actually happy person acting happy. In public. Which immediately made me wonder what it says about our society when the first reaction at seeing someone acting uninhibitedly happy is to laugh at them. Or is it our society? Or is it just me?

Conflict in Literature

I’m reblogging this from the Community Storyboard, where it was posted by Melanie Jean Juneau, who got it (directly or indirectly, I suppose) from Grant Snider, as indicated. Seems about right. And it’s got me thinking . . . but that doesn’t take much, I guess.