Thursday, March 26, 2015

Documented

So this weekend I had more free time than usual (I think I'm finally like not actively "moving" anymore!) and it's spring break here at the university so our workweek is a bit lighter, and so of course I spent it on my couch. I did also ride my bike all over town (to work! Like a real Davis resident!) so technically I just spent like...a lot of time on my couch.

Fortunately, the focus on my passion planner this week is "L E A R N" and my to-do list includes "use that brain for excellence, girl" and so the time on my couch was only like 1% March Madness, #OnWisconsin. I dug into the long list of documentaries that have been piling up on my Netflix queue. [PS! Somewhere along the line they changed it to say "My List" instead of "Queue" and I find that to be very uninteresting.]

I started almost embarrassingly with two films that I should have watched a few years ago when they were new but have somehow just never gotten around to because I am terrible. But now I am less terrible because I have viewed and loved them and learned from them!


This was so fascinating. It features impressive women from multiple generations of feminism and leadership in media, politics, and education. It discouraged me--tragic statistics about young girls, in particular--but encouraged me, as I think about what I am capable of and what we are capable of. Watch it.


This made me weep. It is absolutely deserving of its Academy Award nomination. The infamy of sexual assault in the US military has been front and center for a while now; I'm hopeful that we will not continue to let our veterans down. Watch it.

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I had on my queue the famous miniseries documentary Half the Sky, and I watched about a half hour of it before I started to feel...icky. It has a lot of red flag "white savior" things going on. I read Nick Kristof's columns, usually, and I think that he and Cheryl WuDunn (his wife and colleague) do excellent work to raise awareness and bring human trafficking to the global stage. And so I want them to keep working, because I want women to be liberated around the world. But I don't want the Western world to believe that homogenized brown women are liberated by white men. I've been told to read this book (by great white women I love) a number of times, and have just always felt...icky. If you don't know anything about human trafficking, watch this. If you want to learn more, find sources written/produced/headquartered outside the white, Western world. And then share those with me.

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Werner Herzog is weird, and I have a weird fascination with media about prison/crime (my favorite book is Truman Capote's In Cold Blood) and so I saw this on a "best docs on netflix" list sometime ago and grabbed it. It was weird. It's the story of two men who were convicted of murder--one sentenced to death, one to life imprisonment. Herzog talks to their families, mostly, and there are these silences and staring...it's haunting and it feels very real. Maybe don't watch it.

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Makers: Women Who Make America

This was a three-part PBS miniseries documentary situation, and I watched all three back-to-back because it's CRAZMAZING (as the great April Ludgate-Dwyer might say). I learned so much about the history of feminism in the United States, for better and for worse. There's so much more to learn (my favorite thing to learn!) and I am scouring the universe for more rad women's stories. I think this documentary is reasonably self-aware about its limitations as far as inclusion of women of color, gay women, transwomen, etc., as it moves through how the movement itself addressed the wide variety of American women. We can always do better. So many of my heroes are on film here (HRC, Sanda Day O'Connor, RBG, Gloria Steinem) and so many women whose legacy I didn't even know I was made of. Watch 'em all.

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This blog doesn't have a whole lot of "engagement" going on, but I am all about the crowd-source, so,  let me know what great documentaries you've been watching--or books you've been reading, let's be real--about subjects that bring you to life. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Walking the labyrinth always reminds me of every other labyrinth I've walked. It will, of course, always bring HTLC to mind, since our journey was much longer than the labyrinth itself.

I remember a labyrinth at Yolijwa, and a cloth one in the Family Center at Bethlehem, and making one from masking tape on a retreat with BLCYM, and one at an RMS gathering, and the one CLU built after I graduated, and those "homework" labyrinths we walked in Denver...and then finally walking ours, just days before I left. How poignant was that?!

What I loved about this one at The Bishop's Ranch was how many views there were from each turn—perched on a hill in the Russian River Valley, one can see for miles between the evergreens. One space took my breath away. 



Between branches, a vineyard is visible, and beyond it, rolling green hills. What luck to be here in verdant February, when everything is beginning to flourish with rain and sun.

You never know where the labyrinth is going to lead you, but you're free to let it because there's only one path. You don't have to choose a road, so you're completely free to listen and watch. What a gift.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

O Lord, throughout these forty days...

Working for the church makes the liturgical year weird and awesome. On internship, I sat in worship planning meetings for Advent in October, and for Lent in January, and got really messed up on what was happening when. But once we really were in each season, we were really in each season. It was excellent. This year, I got a new ministry job in the midst of Epiphany and so Lent is suddenly here and I'm diving right in!

I happen to love Lent. I love Lent because I am a speedy person. I am oriented toward the future at all times, which maybe we could argue is eschatologically appropriate or something, but that sounds really boring. Lent is, to some degree, oriented toward the future (death, Easter) but what's really crucial about it is that, during the 40 days, we're just supposed to sit. Sit in the knowledge of our own mortality, sit in the knowledge of our own sin, sit in the knowledge of our own suffering, sit in the knowledge of the suffering we inflict, sit in the absolute muck of humanity. That's why not everyone loves Lent. That doesn't sound, umm, fun. But what it does sound like is an opportunity to stop thinking about what I can add to my to-do list, and instead think about what has happened and what is happening precisely now.

Much of the spirituality of Lent is quiet (to the point of silent), reflective, and deep. It's a time to read scripture, read poetry, pray, sing, serve--like we always do!--but with a markedly different ambiance.

Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, on which I will say "remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return" before marking foreheads with a mix of oil and ashes. Remember that you are connected to the entire history of humanity, the entire history of life. Remember that you are God's. Remember that you are. That's not a simple task, and it needn't be. We have 40 days to linger in the knowledge and the promises of God.

How do you intend to keep a holy Lent?

I read this piece about the white church committing to black history for Lent. I'm convicted, and I'm giving it a try.

This year, I signed up for Jan Richardson's online lent retreat for the first time, and am really looking forward to it. It costs money, so it will not pair well with your Lenten budget, should you be going that route, haha.

For the past few years, I've been writing daily thank you notes as a Lenten practice and I'm not about to stop--it's an incredibly rewarding experience, even if no one writes back; half the fun is making the list of people to send notes to, and realizing I have far more than 40 dear friends.

I've been considering this minimalism challenge for a while, and though it's only 30 days long, it might be worth exploring for Lent. You could probably come up with 10 more ideas once you got rolling.

Here are some more ideas:

Lent Madness Saint Bracket
Luther Seminary's Lenten Devotion
Random Acts of Kindness
Progressive Christianity's Lent Course for 2015
Lent Journaling Prompts

Monday, January 19, 2015

I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.

Just got home from seeing Selma.

Lord, have mercy.

I can't stop thinking about the babies. Those little girls, just talking about getting their hair wet at their baptisms and—BOOM—silenced. How senseless. How disgusting. How terrorizing, inhuman.

Adults who marched—to their deaths, for some—had, at the very least, consented to demonstrate, consented to stand up and defy injustice and risk their lives for freedom. But those babies. Those precious girls. It won't leave my head.

At one point, Dr. King phoned Mahalia Jackson and she sang to him, late at night:

Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.
Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me on.

I wept. I sang, silently, along. What else can I say? What else can I do? Take my hand, precious Lord.

I resonated so deeply with every gospel call in the film. Of course I did. That's why they said those things. That's why we say those things. We quote our scriptures and sing our hymns to remind ourselves that we are not alone. We are not the first to seek the comfort and encouragement of God, and we will not be the last.

I cannot say, like was said to Corretta, that I come from a legacy of courageous black folks who survived and pushed forward—and were beaten and murdered—to prepare the way for me. But even as a white pastor, I do come—quite directly—from a legacy of courageous white folks who heard Dr. King's cry and stood by his side to march—from Selma to Montgomery, in fact—to seek the same justice for their friends and neighbors.

The two pastors who raised me were—and are—tireless advocates for racial equality in the United States. They taught me to use the power and privilege I have to defend and promote the gospel—and with it, every child of God.

For Pastor Bill, Pastor Ray, Dr. King, and all who share the faith, I proclaim the Gospel of liberation, equality, love, and justice.

That is my call. That is my vocation. That is my challenge. That is my job. Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New year, same me.

Happy New Year!

We get to say that for like the entire month of January, right? Great.

If you read this blog, you're pretty much guaranteed to also be part of my regular life, and so you know what's up. You know I'm in the midst of an employment waiting game that felt way more appropriate during Advent and now is delaying my new-year urge to do a new thing! I've been saying for these last few months that, "as the Spirit moves, so shall I." Who knew she was so slow? :)

Because I have a lot of free time and not a lot of money, I'm doing a lot of reading. This is certainly glorious. And because my dearest friends and family know me so well, they gave me almost exclusively books for Christmas. Books on books on books. Look at them, in all their wordy glory:


And because I'm me, there's a bookmark (well, a dog-ear, really) in four of them already. Not to exclude the two John Green books J and I are still moseying through. And the two political volumes I started at least a year ago and swear I'll get back to one of these days. Some things never change, I guess.