I have got to be one of the worst bloggers out there. I post a lot, I post a little, I post irregularly, repeat posts, post so often you can’t keep up, post so infrequently you wonder if they’ve finely put me in a corner with a straight jacket. But, much like toe fungus, I do keep coming back. And I think I’m finally ready to come back from my latest bought of silence. Maybe. Ask me again in a week – I might change my mind again.
So, call your friends, notify the media, sit by your inbox in anxious anticipation, The Upside Down World is back in business. In the meantime, if you haven’t visited the site in a while, there are somewhere in the range of 700 old blog posts just waiting for you to explore. Odds are good that you’ve missed a few. Maybe you’d like to review Theological Concepts, Spiritual Parenting, Women and Christianity, Christians and Evolution, Hell, The Book of Job or perhaps just read a bit more about me. I’ve heard some good stuff about all of them. And I just updated the Spiritual Parenting and Christians and Evolution pages for the first time in eva.
Also, quite a lot of you have downloaded or bought copies of The Upside Down World ~ A Book of Wisdom in Progress and The Upside Down World’s Guide to Enjoying the Hard Life, but not many reviews have been left. If you have read either of these books and would be willing to leave a review, I’d be mighty appreciative. If you haven’t read them, well, what are you waiting for?
So, that’s it. I think I’m actually back for real and I’ll be blabbing at y’all again soon!
I was once offered a job simply on the basis of how I said my name. People sometimes stop me and ask if I sing. I had a teacher who let me into class without a late slip if I would say my name for the class. Such is the great power of my voice. Which I, of course, think is weird. If my voice is so great, shouldn’t I have more money than I do? It just seems like the two should go hand in hand or something. Ah well.
Anywho, as I may have mentioned already, I was a guest, along with a dude named Thi’sl and a dude named Joshua, on the Moody Radio call-in show Up 4 Debate over the weekend discussing the church and it’s handling of racial issues. And I’ve had several people ask for the link to listen to it online. So here it is. Right here. This is the link. Click it.
Obviously the issue of race and the church is a huge one and we just barely scratched the surface on the show. Hopefully I will get a chance to write some more thoughts on race and the church in the next week or so. If my brain will cooperate.
In the meantime, go listen to the dulcet sounds of my amazing voice. I don’t recall saying anything incoherent or ridiculous, but I’m too chicken to listen myself and find out. And I think I’m OK with that!
Here’s a fun fact for you: the last time I was out of the presence of a child for 24 hours straight was 10 years ago when my husband and I travelled without our kids to help a friend plan their father’s funeral. Before that, it was two years earlier for the same friend’s wedding. Before that, it was the week I took off before giving birth to my oldest. 19 years ago. And I have come to the conclusion that being in the presence of children continually for years on end constitutes a form a torture.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. Most of the time I even enjoy them. But you can never fully relax around kids. You can’t start a project and feel comfortable knowing that you’ll have the time you need to complete it before a child needs your attention. You can’t even just allow yourself to become absorbed completely in something without running the risk that you’ll discover that your child decided to entertain themselves by emptying a king size down comforter all over your bedroom.
I’ve been trying to find ways to get away from my kids for years, but lacking resources and/or generous friends who want to give me the keys to their vacation home and money for transportation to get there, it has not happened. So this summer, I decided to take an impromptu sabbatical to recover a bit. I told my kids that I was on “pretend vacation” and taught my kids to bother and manipulate each other instead of me. I spent time with them (I called it “visiting”) on my schedule rather than theirs.
Mostly I just sat and thought and thought and thought and thought. In between thinking, I sought out a few other adults and just talked and talked and talked and talked. It was good for the soul. I learned a lot, in fact. And as you may have noticed, I didn’t write at all. Because writing is much harder than talking.
But today the kids went back to school. Not only did the kids go back to school, but my youngest started preschool. Which means that for the first time in 19 years, I am going to be at home, without kids on a regular basis. So, no more writing like this:
You would not believe the problems I have had getting online the last two day. Seriously. If anyone would like to send me $400 to upgrade my internet, that would be so awesome. It took me about 4 hours to get ours working today. Yesterday, it just randomly fritzed out about 20 times. So, yeah. That kind of makes it hard to be consistent. We just paid $900 for car repairs on our only vehicle, so unless some of our hard work finally pays off soon, that’s not going to change.
And if you want to get me a laptop, that would be helpful as well. Having to share a computer with three little girls whose only moments of sitting quietly happen while watching the videos on that computer . . . it’s not an ideal arrangement. We have no cable and you can only buy so many DVDs. And did I mention that they are actively into something every single waking moment of the day? Do you know what it’s like to have 3 different people who each need your attention at least every 5 minutes for 16 hours a day? Yeah. Like I said, it’s not an ideal arrangement.
I keep telling my kids that we’re like athletes training with weights on. You know- like the baseball players who put weights at the end of their bats while warming up so that when they go to bat, they’ll be swinging harder. We keep pushing forward with all these obstacles blocking our path and it may look like we’re failing from the outside. But let something break our way and we’ll have such finely developed skills that we’ll just take off like nobody’s business.
At least that’s the theory, anyways. I think it’s a pretty good one.
When I was 14 I gave up swearing for Lent. And I actually broke the habit entirely for a few months. But that summer I got a job working in a hot, humid greenhouse with a bunch of crabby old ladies who smoked and swore all day long. I’m glad to report that the smoking didn’t rub off on me. I tried giving up swearing again for Lent the next year, but after a few days I decided that it didn’t really count as giving something up if you just kept doing it anyways. So I switched to chocolate. Which is just as well. I happen to love swearing and consider it a valuable life skill. (Recently I left a comment on a blog explaining why I have no problem being a swearing Christian and the first person who responded told me that I should take a logic class before deigning to speak again. He signed his name with his degrees behind it. It was quite amusing all around.)
So anyways, I no longer give things up for Lent, but I do often try to pick up a specific Christian discipline for the season. Now, I know that some of you come from church backgrounds where Christian discipline involves spiritual abuse and lots of meetings with the pastor. Rest assured, that’s not the sort of Christian discipline I’m talking about. Rather, Christian disciplines are simply specific practices which one engages in with the intent of deepening your faith life. It could be fasting, praying the Jesus prayer, engaging a spiritual director, using the book of common prayer, meditation or walking a prayer labyrinth to name just a few examples.
This year I’m going to be doing morning and evening offices through the season of lent – and I’d like to invite you to join me. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Daily offices or Divine hours as they are also known come out of monastic communities which structure their day around prayer services which take place at set hours each day. The practice is said to date back to the Apostles and comes out of the Jewish practice of saying prayers at set times. (For example, in the Book of Acts, Peter and John visit the temple for afternoon prayers. – Acts 3:1) Aside from monastic communities, the practice of “keeping the hours” as it’s sometimes called, is often associated with high church Episcopalians. But any Christian can use/do them. In case you were wondering.
Basically an office is a prayer service which includes prayers, readings from the psalms, scripture, maybe a meditation and a hymn. Some communities use the same prayers each day while changing the scripture readings each day. Others use different prayers or cycle through a set of prayers over the course of a week or month. If this all sounds confusing – it’s not. Unless you’re the poor soul charged with actually putting these services together. For those of us who are simply showing up to join in, it’s very easy. So easy, in fact, that you don’t even have to leave your house. Hell, you don’t even have to get off the computer! There are a variety of places which put up the day’s readings and prayers online. You can just read along at your own pace in your own time. Some even include audio files if you would like to listen or recite them out loud along with a prayer leader.
Of course, this may all sound a wee bit high churchy for some folks. And perhaps you’re wondering why you ought to do such a thing. Well, let me give you three reasons:
Back in college I briefly dated a guy who taught me how to drive a stick shift. We borrowed my friend Romi’s little Ford Escort and drove around deserted back roads so I could practice. I was awful. My date was very sweet and patient but after several hours of me stalling at every stop and losing speed as I struggled to find the next gear and the occasional grinding, he finally said, “I don’t want to make you feel bad, but it seems like you should be catching on by now.” Shortly after that, I dropped him off and drove back to my dorm without a single hitch. I never had another problem driving a stick shift after that night.
The story always makes me laugh because it’s so typically me. It’s like I have to make every mistake possible before I can figure out the right way to do things. And then I’m golden. The downside is it’s probably best to steer clear of me when I’m learning something new. The upside is that on the other end, I can tell you about any mistake a person can make and how to find your way out of it. And it’s in this spirit that I wrote The Upside Down World’s Guide to Enjoying the Hard Life.
If there’s a counter-productive, neurotic or unhealthy way to approach life, it was probably a habit of mine at some point in the past. In this book, I share 45 of my favorite ideas, practices and attitude adjustments which have allowed me to overcome my worst tendencies and enjoy my often difficult life. The essays are quick, easy to read, good humored and practical. No lectures or theological treatises. Just lots of ideas for how to be more mindful, self-compassionate, forgiving, happy, grateful and at ease with yourself, your life and the people in it. There’s even an index to help you find which essays to turn to when struggling with everything from anxiety to guilt to forgiveness to relationships and more. Continue reading
Well, I kind of forgot that the bill for our internet was coming due and wound up pretty much entirely off-line for the last week. But I’m back online now, so I’ll be getting the next essay in our Hell Week series up within the next 24 hours. And if that doesn’t fry my brain to badly, I’ll even get a Bloggy Linky Goodness up tomorrow. Oh joy of joys! If you have a post you’d like considered for inclusion, please email it to email@example.com now.
I wanted to add a quick note about these posts: the things I am writing are the conclusions I have reached based on extensive research. Which is not to say that my conclusions are new or unique – far from it! In coming to my conclusions, I have relied heavily on the work of others who have documented in great detail the basis for the claims of Biblical Universalism. Because of time constraints and the nature of blogging, I simply cannot provide full or even adequate supporting details for everything I have said. However, in each post I have provided links to books and essays which do contain a large quantity of documentation for the claims which I am making. If you have read anything in these essays which you find doubtful or even incorrect in substance, I would strongly encourage you to make use of the links I have provided in order to view a good sample of the actual information I have used to make my claims. In addition to the links I have provided (which admittedly are not the most readable books and essays in existence), I would highly recommend taking a look at the work of Thomas Talbot (website), Gregory MacDonald (website) and Robin Parry (website). (There are others, but these three and particularly modern and accessible.) You can also check out the Evangelical Universalist Forum if you are looking for people to discuss the details of biblical universalism.
If you missed any of the previous Hell Week posts or want to enjoy their wonderfulness all over again, here they are:
Well, it’s been a slow week around here as you might have noticed. Next week will be different, but you’ll have to head down to the bottom of this week’s Bloggy Linky Goodness to find out more about that. In other news, I shaved my legs and pits for the first time in months. Most exciting thing to happen around here in a while, I tell ya!
But I do have some good writing/reading for this week’s Bloggy Linky Goodness to share with y’all:
Radical Practice Needs Deep Roots in Doctrine I love synchronicity – great minds think alike and all that. This beautiful post by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove at The Everyday Awakening explaining the gospel, suffering, atonement theology and more reads like if you took my own posts on suffering, the church and the sacrificial death of Jesus and put them into one post with much more skill and clarity than I have. Really great stuff. Continue reading
Look at me – it’s been one week exactly and here’s another addition of Bloggy Linky Goodness, right on schedule. I’ve read some really great writers this week. In fact, too many great writers; they’re feeding my insecurities. But that’s my problem, not their’s. So, without further ado, here is this week’s Bloggy Linky Goodness, pre-screened and pre-enjoyed for your convenience!
My 2 Great Guys A great post from regular reader and commenter O.R. Pagan/The Bald Scientist about one of those moments that parents of kids with autism cherish. I hope you’ll go check it out. And say “hi”. You guys are too quiet!
He Said/She Said I just discovered this blog – good2begone – and I’m loving it. (I spit my drink out reading about his stepdaughter saying Lincoln lived in a “login” in another post. That’s quite an accomplishment.) This post looks at the differences between men and women’s communication styles. Continue reading