Friday, June 19, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 104)

1. I had a few ideas for posts this week but time escaped me. Hopefully that means I will have several things next week.

2. First off, I love that papal encyclicals get trailers now.


3. I have not read Laudato Si yet, but I am planning to shortly. I hear it quotes other bishops as well, showing the many people and groups that are concerned for how we damage the environment in hollow pursuits.

4. So far, I’ve heard positive things, but it doesn't seem like there is any earth-shattering revelation. (Earth-shattering=unintended pun.)
5. Speaking of summer blockbusters, I saw Jurassic World this week. I really, really liked it. So much that I’m thinking of seeing it again next week. I rarely see a movie twice in theaters (can't even remember when I last did). $5 Tuesdays at the local theater and unemployment are starting to pair nicely.

6. The two major flaws in the movie are in the main female lead. 1) She has a straight bob for much of the beginning that suddenly turns perfectly wavy once she’s running around. No hair does that. And what conditioner is she using that keeps hair wavy but not frizzy in Costa Rica? 2) Running in heels. So much running in heels.

7. As for the tragedy in Charleston, there isn’t much I can say. It’s horrible and evil and sadly becoming too familiar. I think Jon Stewart expressed it best.

Friday, June 12, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 103)

1. I’m not posting regularly because I have no regular schedule because I have no job and it sucks.

2. I am getting bolder with what I consider “qualified” and “experience” to mean when I write cover letters and apply to jobs. I’m also getting more creative with snarky comebacks to questions like, “Found anything yet?” and “Well, what do you want to do?”

3. If the church here had perpetual adoration (or any adoration hours), I’d be putting in some solid time there.

4. Instead, I’m reading writers like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Camus, which is just adding to Lost Gen depression and existential angst. Good choices of literature; bad choices for mood stabilizers.

5. A dose of good theology and comic strips could probably help.

6. Several high schoolers and alum from my alma mater will be singing in St. Peter’s at the Vatican today! Wishing them safe travels and a wonderful time! (and secretly praying for their conversions.)

7. Since I am not in Italy, I’m just looking forward to the new season of Orange is the New Black and the $5 movie day at the local theater. Excitement can come in many different levels.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Um... She Also Worked in Flax... Maybe

For some unexplained reason, one of the stories used for VBS last week was Rahab. I’ll admit, when I saw her on the list of Bible stories for the week, my first thought, “Wasn’t she a prostitute?” I didn’t really know anything else about her story other than that she’s the prostitute who is listed in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus. So, how are we going to tell the kids her story? And how are we going to tie in a craft with her story? It seemed rather random and ridiculous to throw Rahab in between the VBS staples of Moses and David.

To quickly recap Rahab’s story: Joshua sends two spies into Jericho. Rahab kept an inn/brothel in the city, so the spies went there for a room and to gather information (and maybe recreation). Soldiers show up looking for the spies, and Rahab hides the two men under some flax and barley drying on the roof. She says that she had heard of their people and knows that God is on their side. She makes them promise that when they take Jericho to spare her family; she will mark her window with a red rope. The walls of Jericho fall, and Rahab’s family comes into the Hebrew fold. (Josh. 2; Josh. 6:22-25)

So the VBS-appropriate version of Rahab’s story is that she dealt with flax, dying material and making rope. She also ran an inn, so the spies were staying there. Ok, craft time is a lot easier when her profession is dresses instead of undressing. But then I read the script in the pre-packaged VBS material. Rahab had a “bad reputation” and was “treated poorly” by others. Only, the Bible doesn’t say that she is mistreated/outcast. It’s a reasonable assumption on prostitutes would have been regarded, but you can’t cut out the cause and leave the effect. And it completely whitewashes the spies “who slept there.” If we’re cutting out the part about Rahab being a prostitute, then we shouldn’t add assumptions about how she might have possibly been treated for being a prostitute. 1. It makes no sense in saying she was marginalized if you don’t say why. 2. It actually changes her story from one of a Canaanite who recognized the Hebrews as the chosen people to one of a woman who found an escape from bullying.

The characterization of Rahab reminds me a lot of Mary Magdalene. She also carries the post-contemporary label of prostitute and woman of bad reputation. The difference of course is that she wasn’t even a prostitute. But both are the “harlot redeemed by faith.” Only, I don’t think their stories are that tidy. Rahab was a harlot with faith. She lied to protect the spied. She continued to run her inn/brothel while securing the safety of her family. She did some bad things and some good things concurrently, because she’s human. But because she’s a human woman, the prostitute thing is going to be the part that sticks in history’s memory, instead of the representation of Gentiles coming into the fold of God’s chosen people. And a story of sex, spies and sieges will be filtered down to bullies, bravery, and barley.

As an aside, the red rope is Rahab’s story is interesting to me, because it reminds me of two symbols. First, the red light district. Did red lights indicating brothels come from this story? Second, the Passover. Everyone else is slaughtered, but her family is spared because of the marking on her home. I think the rope can both be a red light and lamb’s blood.

Monday, June 1, 2015

From the Midst of Fire

Snapchat meets VBS crafts
Yesterday was the first night of VBS. While my rant against boxed, themed VBS programs is likely forthcoming, for now I’m focusing on the stories the kids are learning about each night. Sunday started with Moses and the burning bush. And while VBS is taking place at a Protestant church, I couldn’t help but appreciate that the first reading in the Catholic liturgy for the day had Moses saying: “Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?”

Growing up, I always encountered God the Father. In finding Catholicism, I’ve encountered the Son, the incarnational God. And while I’m more open to the Spirit than I used to be, it still seems like the person of the Trinity with whom I have the weakest relationship/understanding. The Holy Spirit makes me think of Pentecostals and charismatics and not the calm organization in which I thrive. But the Spirit moves in calm too. Its’ reach is much wider than I give credit. It is in a dove; it is a wind; it is in fire.

The story of the burning bush is one that is so often taught to kids that I had not revisited it in some time. So while working with the kids yesterday as they painted their own burning bush, I was impressed how they knew that the fire burned, but that the bush was not consumed. Fire is so often depicted as a positive in Christianity; it is a shame that it has gotten attached to a depiction of hell as well. Holy fire is how people face God when they could not otherwise endure his presence. It is illumination and revelation. It is energy and spirit.

Later, the Israelites follow a column of wind in the day and a column of fire at night while in the desert. While sometimes I wish God spoke to be in grandiose, clear ways like columns of fire, I also know that I would not react well to sudden, big revelations. I do not think I am strong enough. I prefer to encounter the Spirit a little at a time, inching cautiously closer. In the seventeenth century, the French Huguenots adopted the burning bush as their symbol for enduring persecution, along with the motto, “I am burned but not consumed.” Perhaps that is the attitude I need to adopt. I cannot dictate when or how the Spirit speaks to me. If it is in loud, uncomfortable ways, I may feel burned, but I will not be consumed. I will be purified. I will be forged. As Moses noted, what could be greater than hearing God speak from the midst of fire and living?