Monday, December 20, 2010

Great Book!

La Segunda and I have been (re)reading this book over the past few weeks - we can't put it down! Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, by Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson. The pictures are amazing. But what has captivated me is the book's description of prayer. I think this book captures "how to talk with God" perfectly. In my experience, it's not easy to hear God's voice, but oftentimes, when I look back, I can see where I felt God's guidance. Harriet seeks God's help and we can see how he guided her. This is the best book I've seen for children or adults, that describes prayer so well.

Here's the review from the Powell's Bookstore site:

"In this gorgeous, poetic picture book, Weatherford (The Sound that Jazz Makes) depicts Harriet Tubman's initial escape from slavery and her mission to lead others to freedom as divinely inspired, and achieved by steadfast faith and prayer. The author frames the text as an ongoing dialogue between Tubman and God, inserting narration to move the action along. On the eve of her being sold and torn from her family, Tubman prays in her despair. In response, 'God speaks in a whip-poor-will's song. 'I set the North Star in the heavens and I mean for you to be free.' ' The twinkling star encourages Tubman: 'My mind is made up. Tomorrow, I flee.' The book's elegant design clearly delineates these elements — Harriet's words in italic, God's calming words in all caps drifting across the pages, the narrator's words in roman typeface — and makes this read like a wholly engrossing dramatic play. Nelson's (He's Got the Whole World in His Hands) finely rendered oil and watercolor paintings, many set in the rural inky darkness of night, give his protagonist a vibrant, larger-than-life presence, befitting a woman who became known as the Moses of her people. His rugged backdrops and intense portraits convey all the emotion of Tubman's monumental mission. A foreword introduces the concept of slavery for children and an author's note includes a brief biography of Tubman. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

On my Mind

Last night I watched War Dance, a beautiful documentary about children in Northern Uganda, on a recommendation from a dear friend. I know a little bit about Uganda from a blog I read, "the Journey", but I had no idea how gorgeous the landscape is. Both the movie and the blog start with pretty simple ideas: children from the war zone preparing for a dance competition, a missionary taking in abandoned girls and forming a family through adoption. But the messages of hope, resilience, love and strength that pour out of both are astounding.

I also got my alumnae magazine in the mail over the Thanksgiving holiday. One of the features was on the recent conference that was held there: "Heritage and Hope: Women's Education in a Global Context". Reading the article, the speakers all seemed to have some good things to say. And then I came to the highlights from Nicholas Kristof's Keynote:
Kristof expressed his distress over the political polarization between US Christian evangelicals and secular feminists, particularly in the area of reproductive health that prevents them from joining forces to combat such abuses as human trafficking.
"There are a lot of Christian evangelical groups in Sudan and Congo that have done fabulous work," he said. "At the end of the day, everybody believes passionately that 14-year-old girls should not be kidnapped and locked up in brothels."
Squeamishness over talking about sexuality also concerns him. "One of the impediments to girls' staying in high school that most people have learned about only in the last decade is the difficulty of managing menstruation," he said. "Girls never raised it with school authorities or aid workers before because the subject was taboo. If you can keep a girl in high school by providing her with sanitary pads, that is such a cheap intervention." pg 25, Alumnae Bulletin, November, 2010
That stopped me cold. He is SO RIGHT. I feel that polarization a lot. As a liberal Christian, I can see both sides of each coin. And meanwhile, there is work that all of us could be doing. We can't do everything, perhaps, but we could do something, instead of arguing amongst ourselves. Right? What can I do? What can we do? What do you think?

P.S. There are [of course] a bunch of non-profit organizations that have sprung out of the above-mentioned projects. Half the Sky, out of Nicholas Kristof's work, Shine Global which supported War Dance, and Amazima Ministries which grew out of "the Journey". Go check them out, and see if they appeal to you. Maybe these groups are the way forward for action.

Monday, November 15, 2010

P.S. on Vampire Post

P.S. I had a thought after writing the vampire post that maybe the whole deal with vampires is they are focused on satisfying their own desires, completely independent from others. [In Twilight, one of the things that makes the Cullens so unusual is that they have formed a "family". And also, they do not kill and drink the blood of humans, only animals.] They live in isolation and from gratification.

I think the idea of vampires has taken hold and taken off at the same time that people have pulled back from religion, or a spiritual life that is outward-focused. Instead of trying to work for something greater than themselves, people are fixated with their own needs and wants.

Need time to mull.....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vampires & Christianity

A Facebook friend just asked for opinions on this WashPo article. I had to take some time to collect my thoughts - it's been a busy day - and I felt like Arnold Horshack ["OOoooh, Oooohhhh!!!] I have a lot of ideas about vampires.

The gist of the article is that vampires are the mirror image of Christianity, and the subtext is that Mormons are in the thick of it (I'll get to that in a minute).

I agree. Here's how I see it in the breakdown, Christianity vs. the vampire myth:

Blood: First things first. Christians "drink Jesus' blood" every time they participate in communion (the ritualized remembrance that Jesus gave his life for us, to redeem our sins, and to show God's enduring love for the world.) Through this blood, we humans are given everlasting life.
Vampires drink blood to survive - it is the only nourishment they can handle. They can never get enough, and must feed. Some vampires are called immortal, some "undead." Only through death/killing* are able to drink blood. To become a vampire, they need to share blood, or be bitten by another vampire, often, it seems, through trickery. [To me, this "shared blood" imagery has always reminded me of AIDS, "Share the love, don't share the needle."]

Love/Lust: Love is important to Christians (as it is to most religions), but we are explicitly told that through Christ's blood we have proof of God's love. We must "‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength and with all your mind.’(Deuteronomy 6:5) And, ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself." Luke 10:25-28. This is a chaste love, or a love that encourages us to help others (feed the poor, help the sick, etc.) It is not carnal love; lust is considered a sin.
But for vampires, lust is a great tool. Like the image above, a succubus is similar to a vampire - seducing humans to (spiritually) weaken them. Vampires use lust to lure their prey and feed. The opening scene from The Hunger [nsfw], one of my favorite movies of all time, shows this. I thought Twilight handled teenage desire so well. I mean, the books are terribly written, but you get it! And I thought the first movie was excellent at showing lust: [sigh], Edward.

Human Weakness/Vampire Strength: Humans are weak. We struggle, especially with lust, and generally with things we desire.
Vampires use lust and our other desires to ensnare, but they also have "super-human strength."

Light/Dark: Christians talk about "seeing the light." Each of us "has the light of God within us."
Vampires move in the dark, and can't go out into the light. In some vampire stories they will be burned if they go out into sunlight, or will turn to stone. In Twilight, they sparkle. What can I say there, other than the author, like me, grew up in the age of Disco?

* Which brings me to Twilight. I was not aware of the specific reference to Mormonism in vampire lore that is described in the WashPo article, but it does make Stephanie Meyer's take a little more interesting.

Edward Cullen is her vampire hero. He turns most of the dichotomies I've described above on their heads. He's a "vegetarian" vampire, meaning, like "Louis" in Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, he feeds only on animals, not humans. Edward inspires terminal lust in Bella Swan, but refuses to let her act on her wild desires. He begs her to reconsider her wish to "become like him" because he is "concerned for her soul." He believes he is damned to hell for his undead state. The Cullens, like all vampires, have incredible speed and strength, and some of them even have "super powers." Edward's is that he can read other people's and vampires' thoughts - all except Bella's. And lastly, yes, he sparkles in daylight, but he also wants to help humans. He's one of the good guys.

I usually agree with Jung, and I think that vampires do "embody aspects of ourselves that we reject, hide or are ashamed to confront." But now, with Edward being so darned good, what are we to do with this myth?

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Fractal Escape

As a way to escape all my disbelief about the political spin and general ridiculousness that surrounds us in our pop culture, I have turned to Math.

Surprised? Me too. But, with the recent death of Benoît B. Mandelbrot, the man who "discovered" fractals (or at least was the most recent person in modern memory to be able to cogently describe the difficulty of measuring non-straight lines.)

HERE is a great way to make your own fractal images, and wow is it fun!

Enjoy! Thanks BoingBoing for the link.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Spirituality news!

So the friend of my friend, Rainn Wilson, has come out with a new book, SoulPancake. The website of the same name is where I got the idea to do my Lenten Spiritual Exercise. Boy was that life-changing! I found an interview with Rainn here. Great stuff!

Happy Halloween, Happy Samhain, Good Day of the Dead to you all!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Shout-Out

Here's a shout-out to Dr Walt Lowe, Professor of Systmeatic Theology, Emeritus from Emory, who taught a four-week seminar at our church this past month. (See the course description below.)

I had several "aha" moments throughout the course, but Dr Lowe's description of "how we know the Messiah has come" [as the 13th Century Jewish scholar said, "the world will smell different."] just spoke to me loud and clear.

One of the final thoughts Dr Lowe left us with was a quotation from Thomas Merton, whose icon I included here, by my favorite religious artist, Robert Lentz:

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"

Here's what the course was about:

The first session begins with a brief introduction to two major revolutions in twentieth century theology. These are the confessional theology of Karl Barth, who drafted the church's statement against Nazism, and the liberation theology of Jurgen Moltmann, many feminist theologians and a variety of other champions of the dispossessed. We sketch the present unfortunate situation in which each of these theologies views the other with considerable suspicion. Finally, to better understand this situation, we focus on how the two movements deal with the problem of evil and the good news of redemption.

The second session takes up the natural question, given the relationship above--namely "Where do we go from here?" The instructor's view is that a situation in which Christian theology constantly finds itself with one hand or the other tied behind its back is simply unacceptable. Fortunately, a new perspective currently in the process of opening up may point beyond the impasse. This is the new scholarly discovery of the formative role played by apocalyptic in the message and ministry of Jesus, and the writings of St. Paul. We will consider how many modern assumptions are challenged and transformed by this new development.

There is always a risk of getting carried away by the latest fad. Therefore the last two weeks will ponder some remarkable parallels between the possibilities just described and the greater orthodox tradition. We will do this through close reading and discussion of portions of Thomas Merton's marvelous summation of the tradition, entitled New Seeds of Contemplation. Members of the class are encouraged to obtain a copy from a library, local bookstore, or an understanding friend. Toward the end of the last session we will draw our thoughts together, with special reference to the life of the church and the presence (or absence) of Jesus.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dead Sea Scrolls in the News

The Dead Sea Scrolls will be digitized in an agreement between the Israeli government and Google. This is great news!

The scrolls were found between 1946-1956 in caves just north of the Dead Sea in what is now Israel. It's a dramatic story, and the scrolls' discovery has added a whole new dimension to Biblical scholarship. They are like a message in a bottle across the ages.

The trouble has been getting access to the texts. My awesome cousin was able to see an exhibit of 15 of the scrolls in St Paul, MN recently, but that has been one of the few opportunities the public has had to see these scrolls at all. In a few months, we will all be able to see them, and scholars can go to work.

For a glimpse into some of the information from the scrolls, and what kinds of conclusions can be drawn about Biblical times, I recommend the PBS Frontline video "From Jesus to Christ".

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Good stuff to remember down the pike

A FB friend just shared this article from the NYT with me, and I thought I'd re-post the list of stuff to remember when the going gets tough:

1 . Teenagers need to make dumb mistakes to get smart.
2 . Be ALERT but not ALARMED.
3 . Be compassionate and concerned but not enmeshed.
4 . Love them but do not worship them like idols or despise them when they let you down.
5 . Be observant without spying or prying.
6 . Pretend you have seven kids: Dopey, Bashful, Sleepy, Grumpy, Doc (the “know it all”), Sneezy (Does he have a learning disability? An undiagnosed handicap of some kind?), Happy (Is he too laid back? Where is his passion, focus, ambition and drive?) and that which ever of these seven appear in your child’s form on any given day, they are all just going through a phase
7 . When they come to you in distress, resist responding like a concierge, talent agent or the secret police. Assume that they are capable of figuring out — through trial and error — how to solve their own problems.
8 . Be forewarned that the college Common Application asks about “paid” employment with the word “paid” in bold. Remind yourself that ordinary chores and nonfancy paid jobs provide a great education in ordinary but vital life skills.
9 . Remind yourself that watching dumb YouTube videos is a healthful form of decompression and entertainment for teenagers.
10 .Remind yourself that they are unlikely to fulfill all of your dreams or all of your nightmares.
11. Remember that a snapshot of your teenager today is not the epic movie of her life.
12. Recognize that once they get to college, FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) laws don’t allow parents to see their child’s grades so it’s a good idea for students to learn the relationship between effort and outcome long before they go.
13. Plan parental obsolescence, raise them to leave you. The Talmud requires that parents teach their child how to swim.
14. Put the oxygen mask on yourself before you put it on your child.
15. Find support in other adults instead of letting shame or fear about your teenager’s twisting path cause you to isolate yourself.

It helped me to see this.

Monday, October 11, 2010


La Prima & I went to hear President Obama today in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. It was awesome! Bob Brady is a great cheerleader, I'll tell you what.

The Roots were there. And it was a great mixed crowd. You know, I realize that the President hasn't achieved all that my liberal, pro-ECOLOGY heart would want, but still, he's done a LOT. And a Helluva lot more than the conservative people would have done.

I think it's important to help him get stuff done, and vote the Dems in. I'm remembering my enthusiasm from the fall of 2008. Do you?

Monday, October 4, 2010

New Religious Art Exhibition

I love it when Religious Art is in the news! I just saw this piece in the Huffington Post and had to share.

From the article:

"Embodying the Holy," a new exhibition at New York City's Rubin Museum of Art, brings to light striking similarities between Orthodox Christian icons and traditional Tibetan Buddhist painted scrolls.

Martin Brauen, the museum's Chief Curator, said that the exhibition will "provide points of basic understanding of what connects the so-called East and West on a spiritual level." Elaborating on this spiritual connection, he said that Christian icons and Tibetan painted scrolls are "both representations of a reality that is beyond our human realm. They are depictions of a divine state of being."

I like the idea that the similarities in the art might show a connection between Jesus' "lost years" and the East. Did Jesus really spend time in India or Tibet before beginning his ministry in Palestine/Israel?

"Embodying the Holy" will run Oct. 6, 2010 to March 7, 2011.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Unexpected News, Follow-up

So, I got this suggestion of another image for St Mary, from one of my faithful readers in response to my "Unexpected News" post. Anyone else want to send in a suggestion?

This is the one I thought of (below) "Migrant Mother" by Dorothea Lang.

UPDATE: Here's another image suggested by a reader, "Madonna of the Streets" by Ferruzzi.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Unexpected News - St Mary the Virgin

Sometimes the Universe keeps sending us messages, and it takes a while for us to get around to acting on them.

Frequent readers may remember that I have become more and more radicalized over the past few years, and have become interested in "Liberation Theology." I say "interested" but I haven't cracked a book about it, and I don't really know yet all that the term means, except that I got a glimpse yesterday, and am inspired.

Our church's pastor is on vacation this summer, and yesterday we had one of my favorite fill-in priests serve: Fr. Richard Smith. He's the one who closes each mass with a benediction that is his re-phrasing of part of Paul's letter to the Romans, which I absolutely love. Anyway, yesterday our church celebrated the Feast of St Mary the Virgin (something that never would have happened in the parishes I grew up in, which were "low church, Episcopalian").

Fr Smith talked about how the Virgin Mary is pretty unrecognizable as a person - she has "become a What not a Who." He said most of what we know about Mary is tradition. But in the Gospel reading yesterday, we "hear her voice" in the Song of Mary [the Magnificat, Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:46-55).] I guess I've never paid much attention to the words before, but here they are:

46And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers."

Fr. Smith went on to talk about the parts that I've highlighted by quoting from Robert McAfee Brown's book, Unexpected News: Reading the Bible with Third World Eyes. He read about a conversation between a priest in South America who was talking with some local parishioners about Mary. You should read the chapter yourself [pgs. 86-88], go and read it now and come back, I'll wait.

As you know, I'm a huge fan of religious art, and I've seen zillions of images of "Mary of the holy pictures: standing on a crescent moon, wearing a crown, rings on her fingers in a blue gown embroidered with gold." But, after reading and hearing "her" words (above) would she really be like that? I paraphrase Brown's book:

"The Mary that said that God 'has exalted those of low degree' would not have left all of her friends so she could stand on the moon." "The Mary who said God 'Has put down the mighty from their thrones' would not be wearing a crown." "The Mary who said God 'has sent the rich away empty' would not be wearing rings on her fingers." .... "Father, it may be awful to say this, but it sounds as though Mary would look just like me! My feet are dirty, my hat is old, my hands are rough, and my clothes are torn..... I think she'd be more at home here in the slum with us than in the cathedral or the General's mansion.... I think her message is more hopeful for us than it is for them. They are mighty and rich, but she tells them that God puts down the mighty from their thrones and sends the rich away empty.... And we are at the bottom of the heap and very hungry, but she tells us that God exalts those of low degree and fills the hungry with good things." Priest: "Now let's see, how could we begin to help God bring those things to pass?"

There were tears running down my face. There is a lot of suffering in the world. What can I do to feed the hungry? I am keeping my eyes open for more holy pictures of Mary, and see what she looks like. Who is pictured there?

And I will read all of this book.

Another take on the same idea: Mother of the streets.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Adirondacks 1 video

We saw this scene first, walking over a small bridge at the start of our hike. The source of this water is the beaver pond from the other post.

Adirondacks 2 hike video

This is the beaver pond we came to after a beautiful hike in the Adirondacks.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Green Mosque Design in UK

Cool new mosque design in Cambridge, UK. I like it. Here's a description from Green Prophet, Treehugger's source:

Stunning skylights mean that the mosque will be naturally lit throughout the year, the building is well insulated and temperature will be carefully optimized by heating or cooling using energy efficient technologies and locally generated energy from ground source heat pumps.

The overall design will enlarge the existing community garden, create a new permeable green edge around the structure with trees as well as providing bicycle racks at street level and car parking in the basement. The £13 million project building, which will accommodate up to 1,000 men and women, will also include a cafe, a teaching area and meeting rooms for use by the local Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

“The new mosque will be a real neighbourhood as well as a spiritual centre, easily accessible by public transport and on foot, with facilities for formal and informal community group meetings as well as a leisure destination,” said Winters.


There's more interesting reading on Green Prophet about a community garden project in San Diego, USA.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hindu Religious Art

I just found out about this beautiful new book, Ramayana: Divine Loophole, by Sanjay Patel on Huff Po, of all places.

Awesome godmother Lakshmi had picked up the Little Book of Hindu Deities for the girls. So this is the follow-up. I am entranced by the images.

I bet La Segunda would love this. I think she has learned some of these stories in her Bharatanatyam dance class.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

If I were traveling to Southern France......

I would definitely visit this place! I found it on a visit to Terry's awesome blog. I especially like the frescoes and artifacts. Beautiful.

I really like this almost-ancient style. I think the 10th Century was a good one for Christian religious art.

Check it out!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Two Things

For one thing, the oldest images of Jesus' Apostles have apparently been found in Rome during an excavation in Santa Tecla's catacomb [don't you want to know who St Tecla was? I sure do!]

In other news, I just met with the vestry of my church (like a non-profit board of directors) who OK'd my "discernment process" to become a lay chaplain. This is GREAT news! I will meet with a committee (to be named) to work through my "calling". I am very excited to be taking this first step. You all heard it here first!

Thank you, all, for the support and encouragement. I couldn't do it without you!

P.S. I am really going to work hard to blog more, I promise. Hopefully I'll have more news shortly.

Monday, May 31, 2010

From our Brief Trip to Hickory Run State Park

So beautiful:

It's like something out of LotR. We are almost done with our second marathon viewing of the movies.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Lenten Art Project.... Finally!

Here it is, finally. This is the final outcome of my Lenten Project that I undertook. I was thinking of it as a "study" for a collage, but I'm not sure the collage will actually get done. I basically envisioned this image a long time before I got it down on paper.

Thanks to Leili for suggesting this project.

Friday, May 7, 2010

It's been awhile...

I haven't posted in a while, sorry about that. Life is taking over at warp speed, I guess.

One piece of religious art news I have though, is that I just found out a dear friend loves "annunciation" images! I had no idea. We've talked about all sorts of things over the years, how did we miss religious art!? Anyways, my favorite among annunciations is the one by Daniel Gabriel Rosetti. I have a black & white print of it on my wall at home, which makes the image even creepier, more goth. I love the look on Mary's face.

A photo of my Lenten project will be coming soon - I just need to charge the batteries in my camera!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Religious Art in the News!

A friend of mine pointed to me to the recent "News OK" story about a controversial St Damiano Crucifix recently commissioned for a church in Oklahoma.

This led me to check out other crucifixes, and I'll post some here. While I think this issue is really about artistic style, it hints at a larger issue within religious art that I find fascinating: the humanity of Jesus. Jesus' life as a man has been pondered and argued about for millennia, and that's probably not going to change. But I want to read, The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion, by Leo Steinberg, on the subject. But think about it: if you are an artist, trying to portray the humanness of your subject, then you will want to be accurate, right? I mean, Jesus was a Jew, and he was circumcised, so....

Here's the mini-review from the Amazon site about Steinberg's book:
Originally published in 1983, Leo Steinberg's classic work has changed the viewing habits of a generation. After centuries of repression and censorship, the sexual component in thousands of revered icons of Christ is restored to visibility. Steinberg's evidence resides in the imagery of the overtly sexed Christ, in Infancy and again after death. Steinberg argues that the artists regarded the deliberate exposure of Christ's genitalia as an affirmation of kinship with the human condition. Christ's lifelong virginity, understood as potency under check, and the
first offer of blood in the circumcision, both required acknowledgment of the genital organ. More than exercises in realism, these unabashed images underscore the crucial theological import of the Incarnation. This revised and greatly expanded edition not only adduces new visual evidence, but deepens the theological argument and engages the controversy aroused by the book's first publication.

But most of the time, nowadays, when we see a crucifix, Jesus is tastefully draped in a cloth, with his privates covered. We are comfortable with that. In the "controversial" icon above, he is covered, but it is the image of his abdomen that looks suspiciously like a penis that has people upset. I think, if you look at a lot of religious art, you see this type of depiction of Jesus' body a lot, and it's not a big deal. But, I may well be in the minority on this point. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Kurt Schwitters

My cousin sent me an example of his work today - Beautiful!!

I've received some feedback on my blog post about my planned Lenten Practice for this Lent. "Are you familiar with the work of
Kurt Schwitters?" Well, I was not. Wikipedia has a fascinating entry all about him, and his political stance (against Hitler) during WWII. He is quoted as saying:

"In the war [at the machine factory at Wülfen] I discovered my love for the wheel and recognized that machines are abstractions of the human spirit."[4]

"In the war, things were in terrible turmoil. What I had learned at the academy was of no use to me and the useful new ideas were still unready.... Everything had broken down and new things had to be made out of the fragments; and this is Merz. It was like a revolution within me, not as it was, but as it should have been."[5]

He is best known for his collage work. I've posted an example below. Keep journeying Soul-Searchers.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Spring! Where are you?

"Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul." ~The Koran

This post is a round up of sorts. I am getting tired of Winter, as are many of my East Coast friends. We've had a lot of snow, and it's all frozen and yucky now. I can't get my car in and out of my parking space without getting stuck, which bugs me, seeing as how I'm a New Englander and all. Yesterday as I was walking around, I felt that Spring was in the air - I could FEEL it. But today, it's blustery and cold out. I've been thinking of all those Daffodils under the snow and ice, and how GLAD I will be to see them bloom.

I'm also dreaming about our recent trip to the UK and how beautiful and green it was in Cornwall in December! Part of that trip included an amazing tour of Westminster Abbey, where we saw the tomb of Eleanor of Castile [image]. She sounds like an awesome lady, impressive that her husband (Edward I of England) had crosses erected for each place her body stopped on the journey back to London after her death. There was a beautiful stained glass window of Eleanor and Lady Margaret up in the rafters of the Abbey.

And of special note, I had a stunning conversation w/La Segunda recently which I will recount here:

me: I love you.
La S.: Why did you say that?
me: Well, we were quiet, and I wanted to tell you how I felt.
La S.: Well, I think you should say, "we're alive, we're happy, and we love each other."


[image from: Idle Speculations]

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lent 2010

It's almost Lent, and I just started to think about what my practice will be for Lent this year. As you know, Lent is my favorite time in the church calendar. I like the reflective nature of it, and the drama of Palm Sunday just can't be beat - so moving. Anyway, the customs around Lent are described at wikipedia:

There are traditionally forty days in Lent which are marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance. The three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigour during Lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbour). Today, some people give up a vice of theirs, add something that will bring them closer to God, and often give the time or money spent doing that to charitable purposes or organizations.[8]

I wasn't coming up with anything inspiring, until I took a look at a friend's post on SoulPancake. You should check it out too. It's kind of more of a meme than a Lenten practice, but this is what I'll do:

Now, the opportunity: Draw on your innate creativity and make a collage that represents your soul over the past year.

No one else can tell your story like you can. Here are some guidelines to help you get started:

1. Make a list of your highlights, low points, and learning experiences of 2009.
2. Find some old magazines, bits of paper, small objects or photos and cut out the images/words that resonate with the experiences on your list.
3. Layer the images and words and attach them to a surface (using glue, wire, tape—whatever).
4. Upload your collage here and tell us how it felt to tell your story using art.

Can you muster the courage to share the life of your mind, soul, and emotions?

So, I'm going to do that project. And, I'm going to continue to work on prayer, because I'm starting to feel like it's really effective! I'm not sure yet on the fasting.... I don't think I can handle a Facebook fast, but I will probably focus on eating better. For the "almsgiving" mentioned above, I am still working on raising money for Haiti.

On a similar note, I just got a link from another friend about facing "mid-life" and how to cope with change. That the lived life means facing change, and the fear involved.... it's a thought provoking article, especially coming ahead of my BIG birthday coming up.

Image from religious imagery in culture

Friday, February 5, 2010

My Big Birthday Idea

Hey All,

So, I'm turning the big 4-Oh next month. Yes, that's right, 40 years old. And in honor of my big day, I've set up a fund-raising site for Partners in Health, an organization that does amazing health work around the world, but also has been on the ground in Haiti for over 20 years.

My birthday wish is to raise some money for them so they can continue their health programs. Please go check out my page!

Thank you!

"God gives us humans everything we need to flourish, but he’s not the one who’s supposed to divvy up the loot. . . You want to see where Christ crucified abides today? Go to where the poor are suffering and fighting back, and that’s where He is. " - Paul Farmer, Partners in Health Co-Founder, quoted in Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World, by Tracy Kidder

Monday, January 25, 2010

Winter in CT

Here are some scenes from our time in CT over the Xmas holiday:

The Connecticut River in Winter.

The fields on the way to the River.

The Thicket.


Imaginary Friends

Apparently La Segunda's imaginary friend, Chacky, died yesterday. He was on a boat and fell overboard, and then was eaten by a shark. Curly appears to be unharmed. I asked La Segunda if this death was permanent, and she said yes. When I checked today, Chacky was still dead.

I remember when my imaginary friends left my life. I was about 6 or so, and they left for an extended trip to Alaska and never came back.

Curly is still around, and I hope to get updates about her. I heard about both Chacky and Curly on the walk to school last week, and everyone was in excellent health. I am saddened to hear of Chacky's demise, as I'm sure you are too.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Jesus in India?

Hi All! It's been a while. I still have some more images/video to post from December. But my friend, Hiphopopotamus and Rhymenocerous just got back from another trip to India and posted this and I had to share!

She is on an amazing journey. I hope to be able to post more about her trip, but will whet your appetite with this gem.

It may well be a fable, but I love the idea that Jesus' "lost years" were spent learning in the East. It makes a great story, whether it's true or not.