Monthly Archives: February 2013

Lent 2013…week 1

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Today I read Deuteronomy in its entirety as part of “Read the Bible in 40 Days”.

In the past I have loved Deuteronomy. I love the promises that God makes. I love the retelling of the story of the Exodus and the Wilderness Journey. This is still true. I do still love those parts.

But I don’t like some of the other parts…and I’m learning that it is not only ok..but good…to admit that there is scripture that I just don’t understand or like. I don’t like the stuff that basically says that when a virgin is raped she has to marry her rapist. listen…don’t start. I know all the “God was taking care of her” and “she’d have had no other options” stuff as well as anyone. It doesn’t mean that I like it. It also doesn’t mean that it feels incongruous with God’s nature. I can’t help it. It is troubling. And I will no longer pretend that it isn’t.

How is cutting off the hand of a woman who grabs a man by the balls the same as using two different units of measure in a business deal? CUT OFF HER HAND??? Uh…how about cut off the penis of the guy who rapes the virgin?

Look…I know that my expressing this is troubling for some but I’m just telling it like it is for me at the moment.

I can say one thing for sure.

I love God. That hasn’t changed. But unlike many of my lovely religious friends, I find that as time goes on I understand less and less and that there is a lot more to it than I can wrap a nice neat little bow around.

This is the same way I feel about poverty, abortion, homosexuality, etc. There are REAL PEOPLE attached to these things. For me this is not about simple theology and some nice orthodoxy that you can explain away to make yourself feel comfortable with what the status quo is for evangelicals. Loving people is messy. PEOPLE ARE MESSY. Being in the mud with the So-Loved is hard and I won’t pretend that I can answer all the questions that they have since I can’t even get answers to the ones I have…and I’m a lover of the Word.

Reading the entire Bible in 40 days is a chance to read fast and almost like a novel. With the speed come ups and downs in my relating to the character of God. Today… Deuteronomy…provided both. Ups and Downs.

Bring it on Joshua…let’s see what you got! 😉

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Lent 2013…Day 1

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“We tend to think of Lent as a time of sorrow and repentance and grief, and that is one of its core ideas. But we don’t grieve in order to heighten our capacity to grieve or repent so we can focus on our ability to repent. If Lent has its proper impact, it will form us spiritually — and to be formed spiritually is to grow in love of God and love of others.”
–Scot McKnight

I love challenges. I also love celebrating things. So of course I love celebrating challenges. For me this is one reason why I participate in and celebrate Lent.

The other reason is because I love the lead up to Resurrection Day!!

Two years ago I became a Vegan for Lent and it changed how I view animals, compassionate living, and my beliefs about Christian stewardship. Last year I took up Hot Yoga for Lent and it has brought me joy and given me a practice that allows me to center myself on God and on sharing compassion and love with my neighbors. Each time I’ve celebrated, I have either added something to my life or given up something I struggle with and been surprised by the way that it is able to increase my love for the Divine, kindness towards myself, and compassion for others.

This year I’m trying to give up some things and take on some things in an effort to celebrate in both ways.

Lent 2013
1. Read the Bible in its entirety in 40 days (Join me? http://margaretfeinberg.com) 
2. Daily Meditation including setting intention each day
3. Putting my Complaint Free Bracelet (Get one? http://www.acomplaintfreeworld.org/) back on and re-instituting this practice
4. Giving up swearing 

For those of you who can’t see it, each of these things has an element of sacrifice including significant re-prioritization of my time, loss of camaraderie that comes with complaining and gossiping, and the pleasure I feel when I swear either verbally or in writing. 🙂

To track this I’ve downloaded an app on my iPhone. Each of the above elements have been given a monetary value and at the end of Lent I will be cutting a check (Uh…by check I mean…getting them some money because I don’t know where my checkbook is) to Bridgetown. They will get $ as a blessing for each of the times I properly do #1 and #2 and $ each time I blow it for #3 and #4. This could be a sizable donation given my potty mouth! 🙂

I look forward to walking through the Lenten season with my friends and readers.
xoxo

For the troublemakers…

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“If there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that serious doubt, the kind that leads to despair, begins not when we start asking God questions, but when out of fear, we stop.” –Rachel Held Evans in Evolving in Monkeytown

When did asking questions become a sin punishable by death in Christian circles? And when I say death I mean…the death of one’s status as part of the community or the death of one’s right to be part of the discourse.

So often I’ve been told that I should be cautious in voicing my doubts or concerns for fear of causing a non-believer to miss the message of Christ or being responsible for the stumbling of another Christian. I long ago gave up trying to edit my true thoughts. I spent years trying to silence myself for the sake of others. But even in my honesty, I was still careful. Cautious not to ask the very hard questions. Trepidatious about asking the questions that I really wanted to ask.

In being such a careful “leader” sometimes I not only didn’t ask the questions of my friends and community, I also stopped asking God. And when you stop asking God, trouble will find you. Asking God the difficult questions involves going deep with the one who has the answers. I’ve noticed that when we stop asking, it usually means we’ve:

  1. Stopped being curious out of boredom or frustration or whatever
  2. Decided we have all the answers
  3. Started believing everyone else’s bullshit that THEY have all the answers and are being super quiet so they don’t find out we have doubts, questions, and anxiety over the contradictions of the Bible

Systematic theology and apologetics have made us all very good STUDENTS of the bible, but has made us suspicious of the movement of the Holy Spirit and our emotional response to Divinity. Our ability to make a case for everything we believe is great. But our ability to trust our feelings or intuition is always suspect. My generation of Church Kids learned to argue before we learned to listen. We are experts at casting aside the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs of another with a mere hand wave and a memorized scripture. We are no longer lovers of humanity…flawed, dirty, messy humanity. Instead we stand in judgement of those who have questions, who doubt, who were born in another space or time that didn’t allow them to be raised with our Christian worldview. So sure are we of our rightness that we’ve wrapped our politics, our generosity, and our love of others up in doctine, dogma, and have hiked our way up to moral high ground in search of purer air. Meanwhile Jesus was touching lepers, spitting into the mud to heal the blind, regularly annoyed with church folk, and unabashedly disinterested in politics.

So is it all REALLY that easy? Is loving God so simple and neatly explained that we can put it in a box and wrap it with a snappy little red bow?

It isn’t for me.

It’s okay with me if it is for you. As a matter of fact, I’m happy for you. Maybe you are more intelligent, have the capacity for greater spiritual depth, and are  exponentially more faithful than I. I am fully able to get behind that idea.

Instead of being the smartest, deepest, and most faithful of all leaders…you’ll have to excuse me while I just keep pushing the limits, asking the questions, and try to find some mud to play in with the messy folks. All I have ever known to do is lean into the moments where God is both real and real close.

Lean On Troublemakers…

NOTE–Anyone who wants an understanding of where I am today can get a good feel for that from the book quoted at the top of this blog. Held-Evans and I have walked similar enough journeys that it might be insightful for my family and friends who are curious about where I stand today. If you REALLY want to know…for the simple reason of loving me and wanting to understand me more…I’ll buy you a copy.