In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Harping on Cleveland Too Much?

I was asked about more details about Cleveland, so I'll share them here.

We arrived on Thursday. My other two colleagues went to explore the sights, while I met up with a friend from Belgium. She's not Belgian, but she and I were exchange students in the same year. It's been ten years since I've seen her, and I've never seen her in the US. When I first saw her, she said, "You cut your hair." Yes, about nine years ago!

We had lunch for three hours, and caught up. It was great! Then they came to see our film,

On Friday (I still get these days mixed up) we slept in, which was nice. Then we did go to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It was pretty cool, but J was the one who was REALLY excited for it. I just humored him.

Then, we drove to Austintown, near Allentown. That's where J's friend, DoubleP lives (it's amazing how everyone can be identified as blog-people. He also came to the show on Thursday, and he wanted to show us his home and his church. For some reason, church people like to show off their churches...and all three of us really wanted to see it (church nerds that we are).

Then, we drove to eat dinner and drink margaritas with my other colleague's sister-in-law. Then, we hurried back to Cleveland for our second showing. This one was even more full than the first, and we got to talk to people for a lot longer than the first night.

No crazy people talked to me that evening. We went to a bar afterward, and some people who saw the film told us they wanted to sponsor campers for the future. So, I guess it was a good trip!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Back to Slogging and Blogging

I'm back. I realize I haven't posted anything for almost a week, so I thought that I'd put something up here.

I think most of my posts are about how I'm too busy. Right now, I really can't complain, because my other half is much busier. As I mentioned before, he is a full-time student. We both had spring break last week, and he didn't get through most of the stuff he wanted to get done. Now, we are back at school, and he still has a list of things to get done. Taxes, re-renting the other half of our duplex, fixing our computer network at home, etc. These things are still on the to-do list, and now assignments are coming back in.

I feel bad, because there is very little I can do to help out. I looked at the list, and these are all things that I don't feel competent to do. Actually, tonight I'll do some painting on the other half of the duplex...that's about it. I can't even do my own taxes until he's finished his. So, all I do is nag at him. He's doing the best he can, but life keeps getting more complicated all the time.

Here's the real rub: He believes that there will be a time when life will be calmer. I don't buy it anymore. There will always be some sort of stress or crisis going on. Even when things are good, we can find something to worry about.

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus preaches about worrying. Worrying doesn't help anything, but it also seems to be uncontrollable. We know that we will be taken care of, but we also know that there are things that we have to take responsibility taxes.

Lent is a good time to think about worrying. It shows us the baggage that we carry around needlessly. If we want lives that are simpler, more focused on our walk with God, then we need to find out what else is taking our brainpower. If I'm crippled because of taxes, or the other half of the duplex, then I'm not refining my life. I'm simply maintaining.

I didn't expect to get this deep in this post, but I guess I've gotten here. I don't often edit my posts, so I'll let this one stand as is. But I'm going to be thinking today about what other clutter I have in my mind and my heart.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Cleveland Rocks!

I apologize for all my loyal fans (grandma and mom) for not posting more. I've gotten wrapped up in things. Per my last post, the consumption of all things RENT has taken quite a bit of my time. I got the DVD's out of my house, so life may return to normal.

We've been updating our computer network in our house. Both of our computers have been acting really poorly...mine especially. This new system should take care of the problems for quite a few years. On the downside, I wasn't able to be on the computer yesterday. I'm not sure I would have even been on the computer, but I'll offer that as my excuse.

I'm also getting ready to head out of town. Tomorrow, I'm heading to the Cleveland International Film Festival. The movie about The Naming Project Summer Camp is showing there. We decided to go and support the movie, and hopefully, give more information about the 2006 camp. It's going to be a strange trip. We arrive in Cleveland at about 10:30 in the morning tomorrow. We have a movie at 5:00, and we will have a discussion after the film. Then, we have all day Saturday (to see the sights of Cleveland). There is a second showing at 9:45 Saturday night. THEN...we fly back at 7:30 on Saturday morning. Not a lot of time for fun, and none of us know what to do in Cleveland anyway.

Anyway, if any of you are near the Cleveland area, we'd love to see you at the showing. You can find more information at the Cleveland International Film Festival Web Site. In case you don't know, the film is called Camp Out. Good times!

What else? I'm not sure. I'm trying to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. I need to finish my taxes. Maybe I can get cracking on that tonight.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

I'm Obsessing

I make up the weekly topical schedule for The Naming Project. Every so often, we watch a film. Sometimes it's a documentary, and sometimes its just a silly movie with no point. I scheduled in a showing of RENT, since I like the movie and I think it's a great discussion provoker. So, I moved the film to the top of my Netflix list. I'm not big into buying movies, so I figured this would be the way to go.

Anyway, I watched it tonight...for the first time since I've seen it in the theatre. Wow. It still moves me. I watched the whole thing, and then watched the commentary over the film a second time. Keep in mind that this movie is over two hours long, so I spent at least four hours in front of the TV today. That's not something I normally do.

I'm still mesmorized by this film. I connect with it very strongly, even though I'm very removed from their situation. I love to see this community of friends move through a year of their lives together. We see the ups and downs. We see how they commit to one another, and how they break those commitments. Maybe that's what gets me more than anything else. This is the sort of community I crave...and the sort of community I have.

I was a plan of the play, so I sort of mix the two in my head. Of all the characters, I connect most strongly with Mark. He's the sort of observer. He keeps his emotions in check, even through the most difficult of times. He doesn't quite know what he really wants out of life. He wants to capture life on film, but doesn't always know how to fully live it. I've felt that way...not always, but often enough that I can recognize it in someone else.

If you have not yet seen the movie, I continue to recommend it. Go with an open heart and mind. You will love it.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Snow Day...Part II

It's happened again. We have gotten more snow this week than we have gotten all winter. It's like a cruel joke, we are less than a week away from spring, and we have 9 inches on Monday and at least another 6 inches today (and it's still snowing). My other half is getting light compensation for doing the neighbor's driveway. He just got in from snowblowing the block. We are going to try to get to work later. It's not so bad that I get to stay home there is a free lunch happening today at work. Can't miss that, can I?

Last night, I visited a large church in a southern suburb. They are doing a series called "Wet Socks". They want to talk about things that make you uncomfortable. So, I came to talk about homosexuality and the church. It was a good conversation. I was pleasantly surprised that a large suburban congregation is this open to conversations. I drove back in the snow last night, just as it was starting. It was a slow ride back, but I made it.

Winter is not my thing. I more of a summer person, so I'm wanting spring to get here. This snow thing is wearing on me a little.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Snow Day!

I'm having a snow day today!

My mom was flying through yesterday. In fact, our plan was to meet her for breakfast while she had a layover in Minneapolis. Instead, she called and said that she got bumped from her flight and was going to stay in Austin, TX for an extra day. Later that day, she called back and said that she was getting shuttled to San Antonio for a flight last night. I was going to pick her up and she was going to stay overnight at our place.

Her flight this morning was to be at 9:00, so we had to get up at 6:00 to get her there. When we looked outside, there was 5 inches of snow, and it was still coming down. I think by now we have at least 8 inches. The airline said that their flight was going as scheduled, but we decided that we couldn't leave the house without getting stuck. So, my mom is here for an extra day.

My college tells me they are open, but I'm sure a lot of people are stuck at home like me. I'm going to wait until about noon to see if the roads look any better. In the meantime, I can take an extra day to do some small projects. The other nice thing about my mom being here is that we can continue to plan for our Italy trip, which is coming up in a couple of months.

I'm going to enjoy this snow day! Almost as much as I'm enjoying the photo at the top of the post!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Alternate Living

Today, the newspaper had a story about living green. I'm personally trying to make an effort to be more thoughtful in my spending choices. I'm not there yet, but I'm trying.

Someday, I'd like to ride my bicycle to work, shop exclusively at our co-op or farmer's market, and live in a house heated by the sun and powered by the wind. This is a long goal, but I'm discovering more ways to make my money work for the whole world.

So, here follows a list of sites to consider when you are making some spending choices:

Buy Blue
This site was actually started by Democrats who wanted to do something after the 2004 election. They will help you track which political parties corporations donate to. They also track environmental record, human rights, an community responsibility.

Better World Club
This is the alternate to AAA. I did not realize that AAA lobbied for expansion of roads and automobile driving. Since I'm a strong supporter of public transportation, I'm going to try to move to Better World Club. They have the same benefits as AAA, but offer discounts on hybrids and bicyles, plus environmental clean up.

Working Assets
This is a variety of services, including long-distance, credit cards, and wireless communications. They donate a lot to activism. Check them out.

Peace Coffee
There are several fair-trade coffee brands, and I must confess, I'm not much of a coffee drinker. This is the one that I'm thinking most about right now. They do shade-grown coffee, and they try to deliver coffee on bicycle. Not bad, huh?

St. Martin's Table
This is more of a local one. St. Martin's Table is the backbone of the Community of St. Martin in Minneapolis. The Community is an ecumenical gathering of progressive Christians who are working to make the world a better place. Their lunches consist of a choice of two or three soups, two salads, and two or three open faced sandwiches. The servers are all volunteers, and the tips go to a hunger-related cause. It's great food, made very simply. AND...they have a fabulous bookstore.

OK - so my list isn't all that long. I'll probably move these links to the sidebar. If you have recommendations, I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I Am a Political Animal...maybe a possum.

Tonight, I atteded my Democrat precinct caucus. I've never been to one of these before, so I didn't know what to expect. My other half wanted to come, but issues at home kept him from being able to attend. So...I head there on my own.

First of all, let me say that sometimes I think the political process is designed to take all the interest/passion out of people. We spent way too much time talking about our procedure, and very little discussing any issues...and it's mandated to be that way.

Somehow, I found myself at a table with a bunch of other clueless young adults. We spent a lot of time a)looking confused, b)exchanging expressed giggles at the conversation, or c)telling the moderator where he had last left his notes or important documents, which was then followed by a suppressed giggle.

I had no intention of involvement beyond attendance at this caucus meeting. At the meeting, they told us that our caucus could elect 46 delegates and 46 alternates to the Senate Precinct Caucus (or whatever it's called). We were then informed that there were 43 people present at the meeting. Hmmm. Interesting. One woman had a fit because we were holding separate elections for this Senate District, City, and County. Apparently, before the Senate District people also attended the City and County meetings. She was sure riled to find out that the rules had changed. In the end, we decided that we would go around the room with the sign-in sheets. Then, people could volunteer to be a delegate or an alternate. When they came to me, I didn't want to look like someone who didn't want to do anything (which is exactly what I was/am), so I said I would be an alternate.


Of course, it came around that there were 36 delegates and 4...COUNT THEM...4 alternates. Of course, we accepted all the delegates and us four alternates. Someone asked how we would rank the alternates. Huh? Guess what, the alternates just because delegates! Crap. Now I have to do something.

We finally got to the exciting part...the resolutions. Yet, we found a way to take the excitement out them as well. The first two resolutions were about procedure. Procedure! What about the issues? Well, we finally came to the issues. They were pretty much issues that I agreed with (against torture, supporting sex education, etc), but they were not my passion issues. I wondered if I would be one of those people who idly stood by while my passions were ignored.

I got a moment of inspiration, so I asked to borrow a scrap of paper from someone else at my table. I hastily scribbled a resolution on it, and raised my hand to present. Then (with my heart pounding), I stood up and read my resolution. I didn't have time for any "whereas" statements, so I just dove into it.

Be it resolved that the DFL actively oppose any constitutional amendment that would only define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

For the first time, the group cheered. There had been enthusiastic nodding for other resolutions, but this one finally got the crowd excited. I just stood there and nodded, dumbly. There was no speaking against the amendment. When we voted, only two people voted against (although one of the votes was from a man wearing rainbow suspenders).

For the remaining resolutions, there was applause. We live in a progressive area, so this didn't shock me too much. We came out against torture, we supported housing programs, etc.

So, I participated. It certainly wasn't a perfect experience, but I do feel good about my action. Now, if I can just get out of that next meeting...

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A Project Completed!

Well, I've gotten comments from some of you (including my grandmother) about when I was going to update this blog. I've put it on hold until I finish my other writing project. Well, I just emailed off my draft, so I am now free of the writing project. I don't feel great about the product that I emailed off, but I'm sure this is just the first opportunity to re-work things. At least, I'm hoping so.

The project was harder than I thought it would be. I expected to be able to dump information into slots. While it still is that, I need to make sure that things match. Bummer.

My other half and I also spent some time strengthening our relationship. We spent a lot of time focused on each other. We both acknowledge that we get too caught up in all the responsibility we both have, and often we make the other person suffer. This was a good weekend for reconnecting with one another. We've talked more than we have in quite a while, about a WIDE variety of subjects. It was good for our relationship.

My goodness, that's about it. It feels like I should have done more this weekend, but I really haven't. I guess we had a Sabbath weekend.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What is the Church?

Happy Ash Wednesday, everybody. I'm sure that most people are going to be blogging about Ash Wednesday, so I'll write about something a little different.

I got hired to write a couple of sections of curriculum for Augsburg Fortress. It's a discipleship curriculum across the life span. My sections are within the senior high age range. It seems that most of the format is to have a bunch of quotations and then questions. In fact, each section heading is a question. I like questions, and I like asking questions that really don't have good answers, so this is perfect.

However, I'm having a challenge with some of my topics. My two sections are entitled "What does the word "church" mean in the first place?" and "Who's in charge of the Christian Church?".

They want the quotations to be from all over the place, historical, political, ecclestical, theological, popular culture, etc. It's been hard to find quotations that fit under these two questions. I've also had a hard time finding scripture to answer the first question, especially since they want everything related to the book of Matthew. There is more "church" language in there, but it never defines what the church is...even Acts doesn't really do it that well. I've gone into explaining ekklesia as a definition for church, but it sort of stops right there.

As you can see, I'm a little stuck. If any of you have any advice for me at all, I'd be happy. Quotes and relevant scripture passages are welcomed! I'll keep looking tonight, and maybe inspiration will hit.

Oh, did I mention I'm supposed to have this turned in by the 6th of March. Yup, that's Monday. I guess I know what I'll be spending this weekend doing.