Being Bored (is brilliant!)

24 Feb

It’s been almost one week since my little Lenten experiment started, and it’s been very strange.

Although, obviously, I’m not like one of my friends who cut herself off from (GASP) the whole INTERNET, I do feel cut off from people. I wasn’t posting much, I guess, but I was following along with people’s lives each day, and I’ve missed that.

What I’ve figured out, though, is that I mostly miss the novelty. Think about it: if you go to FB, Twitter, or Instagram, there is almost ALWAYS something new. And I mean brand new, up to the second, just happened. There’s always something to see, to react to, or to click.

My brain went into withdrawal from this, a little bit. The novelty is addictive more than the actual content. Now that I’m not consumed with what’s happening right NOW, I can observe what’s happening today. Maybe what’s going on this week. What my favorite writers have to say every now and then, as opposed to every second.

I’ve also had a sensation that I haven’t had in a long, long time…the other day, I got BORED.

Remember boredom? When you don’t know what you should do, and you feel kind of blah, so YOU INVENT SOMETHING IN YOUR HEAD.

I was kind of expecting this, because one of the reasons I did this little experiment (besides being called to it) was this article abut how we just don’t get bored anymore: Bored and Brilliant.

After almost a week of some kind of withdrawal, boredom, and maybe even a little depression, I’m starting to make stuff up in my head. Not just 140 characters, but long and creative things that had taken a backseat to short and instant.

So far, I highly recommend this little break. Part of my plan was to get outdoors more, but the weather is not cooperating. Hope to update on that next week!

Peace,

CP

ETA: These blog posts are set up to auto Tweet and FB on my church pages, but I won’t be checking either website, just FYI.

Leaving and returning

17 Feb

I have not been blogging for many months now. But I am returning for a few reasons. I’m fasting during Lent from social media of all forms (for me), Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Unlike some friends, I’m not doing a total electronics fast; it’s Lent, and I’m a pastor in need of SOME distraction and entertainment from electronic sources.

But I was finding that I resented social media, and that it was clouding the things that I was doing. It was taking me out of moments I was experiencing because I was trying to figure out how to capture it, how to give it 140 characters, how to be witty and share things but not TOO much.

That’s not how I want to be spending my time.

I want to write MORE, not less. I don’t want to be pithy and witty…I’m not a pithy person by nature, and I’m more ridiculous than witty.  I’m embarking on a new project about pastoral identity in a few weeks that will deserve much more than a short update, and I want to share it, but not in a sound bite.

I got a new camera that’s better than a phone, and I want to use it to take beautiful pictures for my own enjoyment (and maybe this space).

So for Lent, I’m leaving, but also returning. It feels good. I don’t know about what anybody else is called to do during Lent. I think Christians are called to fast from something or to add something, but I don’t know what that is for you, so no judgment here.

I hope that you also have a fruitful 40 days. I’m excited about this new adventure. It feels like freedom, and that’s something to which to pay close attention.

Blessed Lent.

-CP

The Book of Ruth and the Bechdel Test

12 Aug

In church last Sunday, I didn’t know what was going to happen when during the reading part, two women stepped up to the altar and another to the pulpit. They began to read parts from the first chapter of the book of Ruth, one as the narrator, one as Ruth, and one as Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi.


When Ruth said to Naomi, who has just been cranky and bitter with Ruth in her grief, “No, wherever you will go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people will be MY people, and your God will be MY God,” I began to cry.

I didn’t exactly know why until this week I was reading further in the book of Ruth for my sermon this weekend, and remembered the Bechdel test. This test is, briefly, passed, if two named characters who are women speak for any length of time about something other than a man.

It is shocking how many TV shows and movies fail this test, and it’s even more shocking when you read the reasons given for this…that the “audience” (you know, the dummies like me who consume the media) won’t pay for it if women are talking to each other about….well, “whatever it is that woman talk about.”

In recent years this has been proven to be false, because of movies like Frozen, The Heat, Brave, and Pitch Perfect, which grossed a stunning amount of money as well as the others that passed the test. Nevertheless, when you start looking at it, it’s exceedingly rare both in pop culture and in the Bible to see a story that passes the test.

And I think the reason I started crying in church is the same reason that I started crying in the movie “Brave,” that it’s so rare to see someone like me depicted on screen or in a story having a complex life, conversations, relationships, friendships, with women. You know, like we’re PEOPLE. And when I started thinking about it, my favorite stories both in the culture and in the Bible are the rare ones where we get a glimpse into womens’ lives, not just as they relate to men, but as they relate to each other and as they are portrayed as full human beings. Like I said, it’s shockingly rare.

The only other stories that questionably pass the Bechdel test in the Bible are:

1. The apocryphal book of Tobit, in which a woman is reproached by her father’s maids (who are unnamed)
2. The gospel of Mark, when the women murmur to each other, “Who will roll the stone away?”
3. The gospel of Luke, when Mary and Elizabeth see each other and talk about their pregnancies (this one is arguable, because they are talking about boy babies, but I’m going to give it a pass because it’s such a long conversation about more than romantic partners)

That’s it.

We KNOW those stories are there. We know that, behind all those lists of kings and thrones and wars and power-grabbing, there were women, having full, complex lives. But we don’t hear the stories.

All the better to rejoice when we do, whether it be in Orange is the New Black (not for the faint of heart) or the Book of Ruth (ALSO, not for the faint of heart! Hello, Chapter 3!).

We can be bitter like Naomi, or we can go ahead and tell the stories that we can, and tell them wherever we can, and tell our own, too. And give our time (and our money) to those filmmakers who are brave enough to tell the truth about womens’ lives.

A story of children

17 Jul

Kara’s blog: A Beautiful Life

One of my dearest friends had an encounter that I wanted to share with you. I realize that it’s now a political situation, but it’s also about childrens’ lives. I can’t stop thinking about these children… I have met parents in Central America, and they do not love their children any less than American parents do. For a life to be so bad that you would send your baby to risk terrible things in order to have a small chance at a better life….it has to be pretty terrible.

I’m proud of the the Lutheran Church, because our shelter has housed these “border children” long before it was in the news. Because no matter what you think politically, these are children in danger, and we’re called as Christians (and also as human beings) to care for the least of these.

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On my 39th Birthday

1 Jul

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The older I get, the more I’m coming to realize the truth of this poem, and how Jesus never talks about “up in heaven.” Instead, he says “the reign of God has come close to you today!” My family went to Wild Goose this weekend and it comes home to me when I’m outdoors all weekend, listening to people talk about the work that’s being done and the work that’s yet to be done. I keep hearing, especially today, WHAT WE NEED IS HERE.

Lutheran Lent Part Two: BEST LENT EVER!

17 Mar

I’m having the best Lent EVER.

That’s a relative term, you understand.

Lent is usually fraught with all kinds of things…general busy-ness due to the sheer volume of worship services going up by 30% this year plus regular kid and family business.

And I usually tend to add on some kind of discipline that weighs on me, like a physical discipline or fasting from something or whatever it might be, so you can add in guilt to the equation. Even if I don’t “cheat” from whatever it is that I’m doing, I sure end up thinking about it a lot.

This year, in my quest to just BE, I’ve found out two things.

One, sometimes BE-ing is hard. I have indeed been tempted to turn this into a “have-to” kind of thing, like scheduling ten minutes to just BE. I’ve been hard on myself when my mind races, because I’m not just BE-ing like I said I would. Ridiculous. But true.

Two, it’s also been really awesome. By releasing myself from some weird pressure to DO something, I’ve created space for those things to actually happen. I’m enjoying sermons, both mine and not mine. I’m showing up on my yoga mat and running when it’s not crappy outside, just for fun.

I don’t know if I’ll do this every year, because I think disciplines are good…I think they help us convert and shed our skin to a NEW way of being, if that’s what needs to happen.

But this year, this is GOOD. I watched my favorite movie the other afternoon between meetings and was not at all surprised to see this wisdom at the end. I can do that too!

Ash Wednesday for Lutherans

5 Mar

sunsetSo, this year for Lent, I’m doing NOTHING.

Let me explain. One of my wonderful sister friends who is also a pastor is in a new parish this year. When you get into a new church, especially when they haven’t had a pastor for a while, they tend to want to DO a lot of things.

I think this is our impulse for Lent as well. Even knowing all the extra things I have to *do* in the 46 days before Easter (YES, there are 46! The Sundays count!), I still have the urge to add something on or give something up. This is fine. Some years, this has really worked for me.

But I don’t know about this year.

I said recently in a sermon that it’s been four funerals and a wedding in the first two months of the year, and that is true and exhausting. One of those funerals was my stepbrother, who was 36 years old. I’m tired, and I just simply don’t want add anything on or give anything up.

But that’s okay.

My prophetic friend who has the new church? She decided that instead of DOing, that maybe they should just BE. Maybe before jumping into adding new programs or making all kinds of plans that they should just simply BE together, in the presence of God.

She envisions Bible study and prayer, not as part of a program, but as part of being Jesus to each other. Simply BE-ing.

For this Lent, this seems right to me. I want to just BE. I’m going to show up for worship and lead it sometimes. I’m going to show up on my yoga mat each day. I’m going to read my scripture and meditate on what it means for that day. I might even fast. But the second that any of those things turns into a “HAVE TO” or a “MUST” or a “JESUS WON’T LOVE ME UNLESS I” I’m quitting. I’m going to stop, and just BE.

This strikes me as very Lutheran. It’s hard, but all we have to do for God to love us is BE. That’s it.

Years ago, a spiritual director and friend told me that if I couldn’t talk to God, maybe I could envision God as a color, and just sit in the presence of that color.

I saw the color of the sunset, reds and golds and oranges, and even though I couldn’t talk to God at that time in my life, I could sit there with God. I could move into God’s presence, that beautiful color. I could BE.

And so if this year is like that for you, this is what I invite you into: Don’t DO anything. NOTHING! Just BE.

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