Friday, December 29, 2006

Answers to previous post...

These are the books of the Bible to be found in the previous post.... in no particular order... :)

Kings, Exodus, Peter, Malachi, Numbers, Revelation, Hosea, Daniel, Nahum, Philemon, Lamentations, Genesis, Timonthy, Titus, Ruth, Acts, Samuel, Hebrews, Esther, Joel, John, Judges, Mark, Luke, Job, James, Romans, Matthew, Chronicles, and Amos.

Good luck!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

30 Books of the Bible

There are thirty books of the Bible in this paragraph. Can you find them? This is a most remarkable puzzle. It was found by a gentleman in an airplane seat pocket, on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, keeping him occupied for hours. He enjoyed it so much he passed it on to some friends. One friend from Illinois worked on this while fishing from his john boat. Another friend studied it while playing his banjo. Elaine Taylor, a columnist friend, was so intrigued by it, she mentioned it in her weekly newspaper column. Another friend judges the job of solving this puzzling so involving, she brews a cup of tea to help her nerves. There will be some names that are easy to spot. That's a fact. Some people, however, will soon find themselves in a jam, especially since the book names are not necessarily capitalized. Truthfully, from answers we get, we are forced to admit it usually takes a minister or scholar to see some of them at the worst. Research has shown that something in our genes is responsible for the difficulty we have in seeing the books in this paragraph. During a recent fundraising event which featured this puzzle, the Alpha Delta Phi lemonade booth set a new sales record. The local paper, The Chronicle, surveyed over 200 patrons who reported that this puzzle was one of the most difficult they had ever seen. As Daniel Humana humbly puts it, "the books are all right there in plain view, hidden from sight." Those able to find all of them will hear great lamentations from those who have to be shown. One revelation that may help is that books Timothy and Samuel may occur without their numbers. Also, keep in mind that punctuation and spaces in the middle are normal. A chipper attitude will help you compete really well against those who claim to know the answers. Remember, there is no need for a mad exodus, there really are 30 books of the Bible lurking somewhere in this paragraph waiting to be found.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Chanukah

Chanukah began this evening at sundown. And although I am clearly not Jewish, I would like to wish my Jewish brothers and sisters a Happy Chanukah. May we all learn from a small group of people, lead by a noble family of priests, who defeated one of the greatest armies in the world. In opposition to the "in thing" that they knew was wrong, they stayed true to their faith and G_d's Holy Teachings.

To recognize that this other group of people, in faith, are remembering a faithful time in their past does not mean I am going against Christmas by anymeans. We are not to compete with one another and no one has to demand "Seasons Greetings" or "Happy Holidays" from one another. There may not be be a direct connection between these two holidays, but there is a connection in our one, shared G_d. And because we are all G_d's children - I wish them a pleasant, spirit-filled, holy time to celebrate Chanukah.

I know I've shared this with many of you - but I also want to take this moment to share the video I made about my trip to Poland. These are just some of the 400 photos I took while I was in Poland studying the Holocaust this summer. It is accompanied by a song called Eli, Eli - a Hebrew song written by a Hungarian Jew murdered because she was trying to save 100's of other Jews.

(You may have to click the middle play button a few times)

The Holocaust in Poland

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Before you even start to read this message, I want to make sure that I tell everyone - this message is a message sent in love and grace and in faith to God. I am not trying to be negative towards anyone who does not share my views, and I hope that you don't take it that way. Instead I hope that we all realize there are always times when our faith is tested and asks us to stretch ourselves to new understandings and new love!
I recently received ANOTHER forwarded email :) that caught my attention and made me want to write about it. I know that my friends and family like to send me a lot of forwards and jokes about being from the leftist persuasion (I'm not a democrat or a republican because I'm a free thinker and don't want to ascribe to a title, but if I HAD to, then sure, call me a democrat) because its fun to joke with each other about that sort of thing. But on the other hand, the ones that are most disturbing to me, are the emails and books, and comments, and news headlines that talk about "the left" being anti-Christian, or that there is no such thing as a Liberal Christian. It is in fact my Christianity that CALLS ME to be "a democrat", which I'll write more about that in a minute... but here's the forwarded email....

"How the 'Left' Stole Christmas"
Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand
See the PC Police had taken away,
The reason for Christmas – no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say,
December 25th is just a "Holiday".
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CD's from Madonna, an X Box, an I-pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken and Fonda
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas – was no where to be found
At K-mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate "Winter Break" under your "Dream Tree"
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holiday!

This is possibly the worst presentation of what someone thinks Christmas is supposed to be about EVER - whoever wrote this claims that the reason for Christmas can only be seen in public school plays, retailers, Targets, Lowe's K-Mart, Staples, Penny's and Sears - that because public retailers public schools, and public buildings, are allowing other religions to also celebrate during the month of December, that by simply saying a generic Happy Holidays - that, THAT is what is taking their Christmas away? I'm sorry - I thought Christmas HONESTLY had NOTHING TO DO with Christmas lights or Christmas trees or holiday pageants? Yes, I appreciate them all and I celebrate using them all, but the last time I checked - the reason for the season was THE BIRTH OF CHRIST - which is conveniently mentioned no where in here? They mention that the Senate is trying to eliminate Jesus from all public matter - is that really their concern? If we would practice a little Christianity in our own personal lives a little more, maybe we wouldn't rely so heavily on seeing it on every public corner? Maybe if we concentrated on REALLY following the Prince of Peace, the great Redeemer, the One who will bring the oppressed out of oppression, then WE won't have to concentrate so much on where we see "Christmas" in retailers and children's public schools? Maybe we should listen to Jesus when he says LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF - not LOVE YOUR CHRISTIAN NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF - If we want to be respected for who we are as Christians and be able to celebrate our joy in that (that is how we want to be treated) then we as Christians, BECAUSE JESUS ASKS US TO, should treat others how we want to be treated. Maybe they don't practice what we practice, maybe they don't find Joy in what we find joy in, but if we want the respect and the freedom to celebrate OUR HOLIDAY then grant them (Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Agnostics etc) the same respect that they should be able to celebrate THEIR HOLIDAY. And above all, I would assert that the reason retailers are offering "Holiday" sales etc and not specifically Christmas anymore, is NOT because they are trying to be PC, but instead it is ALL ABOUT THEIR BOTTOM LINE - They want to capitalize on ANY and EVERY gift giving type holiday that is celebrated in December, and to not offend anyone who might celebrate those holidays to the point that they don't buy their gifts from THAT retailer!

Senate - this country was brought about on the stance of RELIGIOUS FREEDOM - it is NOT religious freedom to say that you have to put up with our majority Christian views simply because it is the majority. Yes it is the majority of us (in the USA) that are going to celebrate Christmas. But have we completely forgotten that the reason we are Christian is because "we" were once Jewish? Why is it fair to ask them, our Jewish brothers and sisters, to put up with the bombardment of Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, when they don't believe in it? And a common misconception that Kwanzaa replaces Christmas is completely incorrect. Kwanzaa is a time for people of African descent to celebrate their heritage wherever they are in the world. It was started because of a suggestion that African-Americans need to celebrate their culture and heritage even though they are no longer living in Africa etc. HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT WE HAVE REVERTED BACK TO THE SAME MINDSET AS THE LATE 1700'S ENGLISHMEN WHO THOUGHT THE AMERICAN REVOLUTIONISTS WERE CRAZY? How is it possible that people can call themselves Christians, yet NOT listen to the message of justice and peace and NO OPPRESSION that Jesus talks about?It is my calling to follow Jesus, as a devout and faithful Christian, that asks me to be from "the leftist persuasion," and to respect others in their own wishes and celebrations. It is in listening to God's call to LOVE ALL GOD'S CHILDREN - REGARDLESS OF ANYTHING - that asks me to be such a "crazy" liberal!! It is in my response to Jesus Christ that I feel the need to rid this world of ANY OPPRESSION - even from Christians who claim they are doing the work of the LORD! And although it may not seem like the oppression we are all used to hearing about, NOT allowing someone to celebrate their own faith or heritage simply because they are bombarded with Christian Christmas messages, IS OPPRESSION. I'm not saying DON'T celebrate your faith and heritage, but rather allow others to also celebrate theirs. Send out your MERRY CHRISTMAS wishes and accept their HAPPY HANNUKAH or HAPPY KWANZAA wishes with grace and love, the grace and love that asks us all to remind ourselves that we are all, indeed, God's children.

I promise, we can, if we choose to be, if that is for you, act as liberal Christians. They do exist! :) I exist, I am here, pinch me, I am real. I live for the life of all people, regardless of ANYTHING and try to live as Jesus would have had me live - as a CONSTANT example of God's love for ALL OF GOD'S PEOPLE - no matter what they want to celebrate during the month of December.

Monday, December 11, 2006


What is it about differences that make people automatically associate them with worse or better? To simply say something is different from this or that, does NOT mean that either one is worse or better. I'm sure we can all agree on that when we say that blue and red are different colors - neither one is worse or better (not speaking about college colors, or anything of that tyep - strictly colors red and blue). However when we get to things like people and their differences, those differences all of a sudden become better or worse? Why is that? What makes the fact that I am different (just different) from my boyfriend Michael, an automatic benefit or detriment to either one of us? I would gather that it is fear. And even though I can pinpoint it - I'm not saying I understand it - but I'm saying that we need to tackle that fear. Why are we so afraid to admit that we are different from one another and embrace those differences and that diversity? Why are we afraid to admit that we have different color skin as some of our friends and that we also have differen experiences in life that our friends, or our friends of a different lifestyle? Why are we afraid to admit that we might simply have a different sexual persuasion than some people? Why are we afraid to admit that women are simply different then men? Not worse or better? JUST DIFFERENT? By admitting that we are different - somewhere along the existence of humanity - different has come to mean worse. Why can we not simply embrace diversity for the blessing that it is? I don't want everyone to be the same - THAT IS BORING - And maybe some of us claim that we do embrace diversity - but do we really? Can we really embrace the difference of a homeless person who wants to remain homeless? Can we embrace it and celebrate it if that is their life choice? Yes, we are called to offer help to those who are in need, but what about those people that enjoy the nomadic life - why is their difference bad? And why is our stationary, suburbia, cookie cutter life style better than theirs? WHY DOES DIFFERENCE CREATE FEAR?
When I was little my dad had a "remedy" of how to stop being afraid of the dark. He would make us walk all the way across the basement in the pitch black, and back without anyone holding our hand - and he would make us do that so many times until we weren't afraid of the dark anymore. We have "remedies" for fear. Fear can lead to courage. I jumped off a bridge and bungee jumped - maybe that was helping to get rid of my fear of heights. We have remedies for fear - so HOW DO WE GET RID OF THE FEAR OF DIFFERENCE?

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Nativity Story

I should really be writing a sermon that I have to preach in class on Thursday (memorized/from notes nonetheless) but I figure if I'm getting this "throat thing" anyway - I probably won't be able to preach, so maybe I'll have more time to write/work on my sermon anyway? :) At any rate - I went to see the movie "The Nativity Story" with my boyfriend and my roommate and was actually pleasantly surprised. Sidenote - my sermon that I am writing is on Matthew 2:1-12, which deals with some of the same things that this movie covers, so it probably wasn't so smart for me to go see it because I'm confusing some of my research with the movie - but hey - maybe it will help with my imagery?!?!? At any rate - part of me expected to go and be terribly offended by the grossly incorrectness of the movie - that it tried to portray things that Biblical scholars completely disagree on, or things that Jews might find offensive - but it was not that at all. I had read a review of this (granted it was in a slightly biased newspaper) but a review that said it was very good. They said that it was anti-climactic and that the only comic-relief provided in it was in the wise men (which they do make me laugh) and also that Herod was not as mean as he could be in this movie. In my opinion, the people who wrote that article are simply products of the modern cinema gone bad. The story is not supposed to be climactic and blockbuster in the sense that it is exciting and filled with suspense. It was not a tense movie, leaving you wondering what would happen around every turn, but the story itself wasn't supposed to be like that. The story itself was about a lowly birth from a common woman and a fairly unknown, but religiously devout man, in a humble place in a city that wasn't the capital or wasn't the market place etc. Yes there were some suspenseful parts that gave you insight into what life must have been like in that time period - but the story itself wasn't meant to be crazy and stop time in its place. That is what many of the scribes and priests of the time complained about and were confused about. The people were expecting a Messiah in the sens of a great leader who would lead a nation politically, possibly coming in riding on a white horse, a powerful man bringing instant change to the nation. But that is not what God had in mind, that is not what happened, so I commend the director for her portrayal of this movie. It didn't make me upset by anything like that, but it also didn't come across as if it were from a crazy conservative Christian view trying to convert the modern world. I appreciate a visual interpretation of this event that doesn't involve children in bath robes with towels around their head. (Although that is always fun to watch, I just appreciated this depiction because it seemed as real as one might be able to make it.) At any rate - I recommend it for those of you who were considering seeing it anyway - not that its going to change your life or be the most dramatic, best movie you've ever seen. And as that one commentator did mention, its not as if we all don't know the ending of the story anyway... :) But in the end, I'm happy I saw it - now back to this sermon!

Friday, December 01, 2006


Previously I had convinced myself it was ok that I wasn’t writing on my blog as much. I wrote on my blog last year a lot more because I found myself with more down time that allowed me to do that. And although it is helpful to report and also work through things that are going on in my life by writing about them, I convinced myself this year that it wasn’t important enough to devote enough time to, that I was simply turning into an exhibitionist showing off what I’m doing to (sometimes random) people outside my immediate daily life. (Those in my immediate daily life get to find out what’s going on with me anyway because I talk to much in general and they have to hear about those kinds of things whether they want to or not!) On the other hand, I didn’t admit to myself how important it is to have some sort of outlet to work through obstacles troubling me, or to work through some of my thoughts on this crazy life-changing experience I’m having here in seminary. Although I’m sure there are some more “technical” or scientific ways to reflect on and mull over the many goings on of my life, I wouldn’t admit to myself that writing a blog is actually an ok, and fairly productive way to also do this. I mean, I know its not as if I’ll be publishing a book of my deepest and most profound thoughts, but its helpful to type them out, write them out and reread through them so as to grow and become a better person. (I don’t mean that in a pejorative way, rather I think everyone should always try to better themselves throughout their entire life, no need to sit complacently as the world happens around you!) At any rate – I’m back, I’m returning to the life of blogging and hope that I will continue to get a response. Because more than ever, an important part of blogging is asking others to respond to your thoughts and help you work through things with a more objective view of someone not directly involved. Don’t worry though, I’ll still probably post a few funny forwards of emails and some good pictures. But nonetheless, I’m overall….BACK (whether you are reading or not!) :)