Category Archives: just thinking

Where are the Normal Christians?

Wesley Memorial Church, a Methodist church in ...

Wesley Memorial Church, a Methodist church in Oxford, where the Wesley brothers studied. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Slate.com by Mary Elizabeth Williams

You see them on the news every night. Extremists. Hate groups. The lunatic fringe. And you cringe every time some new radical or abusive psychopath makes the papers again, because you know that strangers and even friends are going to be wary of you now. You suspect they’re afraid you’re like that too. You feel caught in the crossfire between the frightening, hateful fanatics who call themselves by the same name you do, and the bigots who tar you all with the same brush. You’re a Christian.

“The bad news is that we’re all part of the same body,” says Amy Laura Hall, an associate professor at Duke and the creator of Profligategrace.com. “The bad news is that somebody like George W. Bush and I are part of the Methodist church, and he’s condoning what I and many in the community say is torture. But the good news,” she continues, “is we’re part of the same body. Therefore we have a responsibility to keep engaging in political discourse, and conversation with people on all opposing sides.” Not that it doesn’t get exhausting, battling the scorn from both within and without.

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What Do You Want to be Free From in 2012?

On Moody Bible Radio, they’ve been asking people to look within and pinpoint what is something they want to be free from. It’s a good question to ponder.

Here are some things I’d love to be free of:

  1. Memories of the bad job I walked away from and the courage to report the illegalities and bad practices I discovered there.
  2. Worry of what my future will hold and fears of what others may think as I plan my career. That I lose the fears that God won’t provide for me. Of course, He will! But I need that idea to deepen in my heart and mind.

Steve Jobs’ Death Made Me Think of This

Japanese temple bell of the Ryōanji Temple, Kyoto

Image via Wikipedia

Meditation XVII
by John Donne

PERCHANCE he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that. The church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another. As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all; but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness. There was a contention as far as a suit (in which both piety and dignity, religion and estimation, were mingled), which of the religious orders should ring to prayers first in the morning; and it was determined, that they should ring first that rose earliest. If we understand aright the dignity of this bell that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to make it ours by rising early, in that application, that it might be ours as well as his, whose indeed it is. The bell doth toll for him that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet from that minute that that occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God. Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? but who takes off his eye from a comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this world?

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee. Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbours. Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current money, his treasure will not defray him as he travels. Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another’s danger I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

I also remember that he as adopted. That his life was an inconvenience for his birth mother. I’m so grateful she chose adoption.


Marge Mercurio: 8 Gifts

Marge Mercurio: 8 Gifts: a good post on eight gifts we can give our friends, neighbors, colleagues, anyone really. Making the world a better place one gift at a time.


Masks

Various Balinese Topeng (dance masks), Taman M...

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a wonderful post on how we live with and must remove the masks and labels we all wear everyday. This experience of having youth don masks as they participate in World Youth Day 2011  in Madrid. I liked how when the participants wore their masks out and about, which  created curiosity, inviting questions. Also, for the wearers it would give them a physical experience that would teach them about the effects of “wearing a mask,” the emotional, relational and psychological effects.


A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings

On Wednesdays, Judy, creator of an inspiring blog, A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings encourages participants to list their blessings, to give thanks for the five things in the past week and then link to Judy’s blog.

Be sure to also check out her other blog and her website when you visit.

This week I am thankful for:

  1. Dark chocolate
  2. Old time movies like The Agony and the Ecstasy
  3. Corn on the cob (sweet corn)
  4. My acceptance to A Room of Her Own, Writers’ Retreat in August
  5. Friends who still write real letters

A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings

On Wednesdays, Judy, creator of an inspiring blog, A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings encourages participants to list their blessings, to give thanks for the five things in the past week and then link to Judy’s blog.

Be sure to also check out her other blog and her website when you visit.

This week I am thankful for:

  1. Graham Greene’s masterfully written The Heart of the Matter.  It’s beautifully written.
  2. Hazelnut cappuccinos – though I have to be sure that I cut back on them.
  3. The sound of rain as one falls asleep.
  4. Blogs – they make me find so many good ideas, beautiful thoughts and images. They’re a great creative outlet.
  5. Sunny days in June.

Act One Reflection

I organized a prayer partner program for this year’s Act One participants. I had this when I went and was a pray-er the year after and it was such a good addition to this program. Catholicism didn’t train me to write up original prayers. Other Christians and Catholic clergy seem to do this much better, but I gave it a shot.

2011 Act One Pray-ers,

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I’m so grateful to all of you for volunteering to pray for an Act One Writer or Executive. I believe this is a great opportunity to build and strengthen our community.

First an admission, I’ve written several screenplays and stories, never a reflection like this. It isn’t a role I’ve ever had or one that I’ve had any training for. The perfectionist in me is sure it won’t be right, but here goes.

As I write this, I can’t help but think of my own feelings as Act One started for me in 2005. I had a strong faith that it would be a great experience and it was, but it was also demanding and challenging. I was both blessed and tested in ways I didn’t expect. God, I am so thankful that I was able to join this community and develop my writing through it.

So many moments come to mind, and I’ sure this years Act One classes also have new ideas and goals etched in their minds. I remember Dean Batali saying that working in Hollywood was like Nehemiah. How true. In Hollywood we are missionaries who must create and defend simulataneously. Few callings require that on a daily basis. Let us pray for Act One classes, their needs for strength and vision throughout the weeks ahead.

Another thought in the forefront of my mind is that we’re celebrating Pentecost today. What better time to begin a new class of Act One? If anything Act One’s writing and executive programs’ missions are to carry out the work of the Holy Spirit. Film and television are certainly media to “unbabel us” as Pentecost did and does.

Frank Cottrell Bryce, whose credits include Millions and Coronation Street, reminds us that “Cinema was made for transcendence.” How true. That’s what all the dramas and comedies that compelled me to join this profession did. Yet we know how often these media are squandered as they demean and discourage with low grade programming. Let’s pray that these programs prepare our partners to rise above the low standards, to create works that lift up our audience.

It isn’t easy to live one’s faith in Hollywood, many coworkers just don’t know how to respond. As Bryce explains:

the people I work with do tend to be surprised when I say I’m a Catholic. Or rather, when I say I’m a Catholic they assume I mean I’m a lapsed Catholic, that I’m just the same as everyone else but with a slightly more exotic childhood. And when I say, ‘no’, well it’s not that anyone’s ever taken issue with it but there is always that moment of surprise that tells you they had an image in their head, and it wasn’t you. And because people are polite you never quite know what that image is: did they think I was going to be St. Francis – poet, environmentalist, genius – or did they think I was going to be [a nutcase]?

Yes, we’ve all been there and this year’s class maybe has and probably will. Let’s pray that they let the Holy Spirit guide them through these times.

Flannery O’Connor once said:

The poet is traditionally a blind man, but the Christian poet, and storyteller . . . is like the blind man whom Christ touched, who looked then and saw men as if they were trees, but walking. This is the beginning of vision, and it is an invitation to deeper and stranger visions that we shall have to learn to accept if we want to realize a truly Christian literature.

Wow, can I do that? Can we?

With God’s help, by working together executives and writers, I’m certain we can, but I often I feel too small or not ready. I believe that God can do miraculous things through this community of Christians dedicated to offering our very best fruits to Him and for our world.

Let us pray for our partners that they take up this challenge and support each other with sincerity and humility, that they are open to the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives this summer.

Amen.


Pentecost!

 

 

I love Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down upon Christ’s disciples. For me it’s as important as Christmas or Easter. Without this event, I doubt Christianity would have taken root and spread as it has throughout the world. Thankfully, no one’s commercialized it yet. It is a holiday for the mature and should be. I know I didn’t understand with much depth Pentecost till I was older. And I think that’s fine. As I child, I learned what happened and as an adult I’m learning the depth and power of what happened and how it’s still happening in our world in ways we can and can’t see.

Acts 2:1-11
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,
but they were confused
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,
“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,
inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,
as well as travelers from Rome,
both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,
yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues
of the mighty acts of God.

Today Fr. Mark Link has a good reflection on his Stay Great site. And this reflection by a bishop in Kenya was so apt.


Thank Heaven for ~

A few blogs I’ve visited participate in a weekly thanksgiving meme. They do this on Wednesday and I’ll start that as well, but there’s no time like the present so I’ll start my thanks today.

Dear God,

Thank you for:

  • little girls, we do grow up in the most delightful way
  • our ducklings, they seemed to have hatched early this week
  • chocolate, especially dark chocolate
  • Gothic architecture
  • Evelyn Waugh’s marvelous writing
  • the witticisms 3 year olds constantly come up with
  • my friends with scathing wit
  • my two job interviews this week
  • Dallas Willard’s writing

It’s been a hard week in some ways, but a good one in many as well.

Gratefully,

Susan

P.S. “Gratitude is riches, complaint is poverty.”

For more bloggers thanksgivings, try A Thankful Women, Thoughts on Grace, or Four Blessings Academy.