Sunday, December 23, 2007

Cookies--for eating!

We love to decorate Christmas cookies...a family tradition that survives even if it's just one or two doing the decorating. Here are our creations this year:

Saturday, December 15, 2007


January 7 will find our second daughter on a plane to The Netherlands for 6 months of training and service with YWAM, Youth With a Mission. The video explains about the base in Amsterdam, where she will be spending part of her training.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lydia Supplee, Junior Piano Recital, Pepperdine University, November 17, 2007

Click on the title above to hear Lydia play Debussy's Estampes (La Soiree dans Grenade). She comments in her program notes that Debussy "greatly admired the habanera vocal pieces by Ravel, which inspired him to write this Spanish dance of his own. The piece is permeated by lush melodies and harmonies...which paint images of Grenada, Spain."

After the recital...sightseeing (Rodeo Drive)

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Over at experimental theology, Richard Beck quotes Peter Rollins' How (Not) to Speak of God:

"As we have seen, we ought to affirm our view of God while at the same time realizing that that view is inadequate. Hence we act as both theist and atheist.

This a/theistic approach is deeply deconstructive since it always prevents our ideas from scaling the throne of God. Yet it is important to bear in mind that this deconstruction is not destruction, for the questioning it engages in is not designed to undermine God but to affirm God. This method is similar to that practiced by the original cynics who, far from being nihilists and relativists, were deeply moral individuals who questioned the ethical conduct they saw around them precisely because they loved morality so much. This a/theism is thus a deeply religious and faith-filled form of cynical discourse, one which captures how faith operates in an oscillation between understanding and unknowing."

For more of Rollins and Beck's interesting commentary, read the post here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

back again

It's been awhile ...especially if a friend who doesn't necessarily read blogs all that much tells me I need to update. So I'll begin again with where I tend to camp in the fall semester, in the writings and life of C.S. Lewis. The sonnet below is one of my favorites, not because of the style or quality, but for what Lewis says. He expresses much of what I have been exploring in the last year, that our thoughts and words of God, about God, necessarily contain the lie, are "flashy rhetoric" because we are limited by ourselves; we are "self-imprisoned". Another reason why we need each other's stories. A postmodern calvinist tree hugger friend often says that God constructs our reality. And deconstructs.

As The Ruin Falls
-- C.S. Lewis

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.
Peace, re-assurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin:
I talk of love—a scholar’s parrot may talk Greek—
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.
Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack.
I see the chasm. And everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile, and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.

For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains
You give are more precious than all other gains.

Monday, September 10, 2007

radical orthodoxy

Yesterday, I heard a Presbyterian pastor (PCA no less) say something that astounded and encouraged me.

Regarding deducing Biblical principles: "Our deductions are fallen deductions."--Dr. Jim Urish

He was urging for a gracious interpretive stance. This recognition of the limits of modern rationality is popping up all over, and in places where it's least expected.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Fortunate Fall

The whirlwind has started again. It must be fall. But I love this season. And I have 42 interested and interesting Honors students and 18 CS Lewis students. These quirky, smart, not always rule following young people remind me of why I love teaching. It's the interaction of questioning minds, with lots of laughter along the way. It's the surprising epiphanies that come from the students.

Like one from Rachel, one of the Lewis students. We decided to have class in the school garden because we had just gone outside for a fire drill and we couldn't bear to go back inside. It was one of those edge of the season days, warm but smelling of fall. We were talking about how Autumn was often a medium for Lewis' joy, those ephemeral timeless moments when Heaven broke through for him. Rachel said the bitter sweetness of fall caused that longing for her too.

Bittersweet...a great description of fall. (Like dark chocolate!) The sharpness in knowing that the golds and reds and achingly blue sky are here for just a moment. This dying season surely speaks of grace, of the "fortunate fall" in a way that is "too definite for language".

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Interpretive Pluralism

I've been reading much lately about the limits of language to fully express truth, whether that truth is transcendent and spiritual or physical and scientific. You might recognize the phrase "limits of language" as postmodernism, for years anathema in religious circles.

But more and more theologians are affirming some of the validity in what's termed postmodern. From authors such as Shane Hipps, Mark Dricsoll, and Donald Miller at the popular level to academicians like James K. A. Smith and Barbara Brown Taylor, the message is the same: as finite beings, we can know most fully only our own view (and that incompletely). With everything else, it sure helps to have the community of faith, past and present, as we grapple with interpretation.

So what does that mean for revelation or Scripture? Here are a few answers to that question from some favorite authors:

"...whenever people aim to solve their conflicts with one another by turning to the Bible: defending the dried ink marks on the page becomes more vital than defending the neighbor. As a general rule, I would say that human beings never behave more badly toward one another than when they believe they are protecting God....I know that the Bible is a special kind of book, but I find it as seductive as any other. If I am not careful, I can begin to mistake the words on the page for the realities they describe. I can begin to love the dried ink marks on the page more than I love the encounters that gave rise to them. If I am not careful, I can decide that I am really much happier reading my Bible than I am entering into what God is doing in my own time and place....Neither I nor anyone else knows how these stories will turn out, since at this point they involve more blood than ink. The whole purpose of the Bible, it seems to me, is to convince people to set the written word down in order to become living words in the world for God's sake. For me, this willing conversion of ink back to blood is the full substance of faith."
--Barbara Brown Taylor
Her point, it seems, doesn't diminish the Word; rather it incarnates it.

Lauren Winner says: "I am much happier, much more comfortable, much more trusting, and much less terrified, when I know that it's me, the Holy Spirit, and 2000 years of church reading, arguing, teasing out, all together."

And finally from Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?, Smith distinguishes between interpretive pluralism and deep directional pluralism (which he still maintains is interpretation): "Wherever there is interpretation, there will be conflict of interpretation or at least differences of interpretation...a kind of pluralism and interpretive difference is inscribed into the very fabric of created finitude, such that we all see the same things but from different angles and locations....In both Eden and the eschaton, we find interpretive pluralism that is rooted in this plurality of perspectives. As a factor in the conditions of a good creation, this kind of pluralism is something we must embrace as good."

He goes on to say that the deep dircectional pluralism--in which we interpret what it means to be human and our place in the universe--is endemic to our post-fall condition, that is, we will and do have dichotomous answers. But nevertheless all is interpretation. No answer is objectively true, "acknowledging the interpretive status of the gospel should translate into a certain humility in our public theology. It should not, however, translate into skepticism about the truth of the Christian confession. If the interpretive status of the gospel rattles our confidence in its truth, this indicates that we remain haunted by the modern desire for objective certainty....rather [than] on the convictional power of the Holy Spirit (which isn't exactly objective)..." Smith, as well, hails the need for the community of faith to wrestle together toward truth.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Communal Worship

On congregational worship:
"...once everyone was seated and the first hymn began, it was foretaste-of-heaven time. Our bread was given, not earned. We had nowhere else to go and nothing else to do but sit there together, saying sonorous words in unison, listening to language we did not hear anywhere else in our lives...Although we could have sat quietly with Bibles on our laps and read these things to ourselves, we took turns reading them out loud to each other instead. The words sounded different...from the mouth of a young mother than they did from the mouth of a widow. This was because the words did not come straight off the page. They percolated up through the silt and gravel of real people's lives so that the meaning in them was fluid, not fixed. Listening to one another read Holy Scripture, some of us learned what is meant by 'the living word of God.'"
--Barbara Brown Taylor in Leaving Church

Monday, August 6, 2007


For all you chocolate lovers, from D.W. Congdon:
"I consider myself a connoisseur of many things: microbrews, pipe tobacco, foreign films, indie music. But recently I have been gravitating toward artisan chocolate. Not the stuff you buy at the supermarket. Not the bland, mass-produced Hershey’s bars (though I still love my Reese’s Pieces). Not sugar-injected chocolate that has lost any trace of the original cacao beans. No, artisan chocolates are to Hershey what microbrews are to Budweiser. They are crafted by small chocolate makers with unique flavors and ingredients."
Read the rest of his theology of chocolate here.

And more from Ben Myers: "To enter a little French or Swiss chocolaterie – the sight! the smells! mon Dieu, the taste! – is one of life’s most sublime experiences. The development of existentialist philosophy in France and of neo-orthodox theology in Switzerland can, in my view, be traced directly to the quality of the chocolates of those regions. (On the other hand, the dour humourlessness of the Religious Right in America can perhaps best be explained by unwrapping a Hershey bar.)"
Here are the rest of his musings.

And more: a Willy Wonka Version (WWV) of Galatians 5.13-26 or "chocology".

Personally I prefer dark chocolate. Is that because as a depraved being that's all I will choose? Or is the white chocolate masquerading as the good (wolf in sheep's clothing and all that) and only the regenerated can tell the difference? Maybe it's context that determines meaning. So it's all in the reading of the text, or the eating of the text.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Noticing Beauty

Several months ago the Washington Post's Gene Weingarten asked Joshua Bell, one of the nation's great violinists, to conduct an experiment. Would Bell be recognized or even noticed playing his music on his Stradivarious in a D.C. Metro stop during rush hour? (Thanks to Lydia for showing me this amazing video).

Beauty out of context. Though just days before tickets to his concert were going for $100.00, only a very few stopped to hear a master play on a master instrument. Would I have been one of them? I think I might have been one of the crowd tuning out. I've been thinking lately about Sabbath rest and wondering if, for us in this age of information overload, the rest should be from...information. From blogs and e-mails and newsgroups and facebook and google and ipods and reality shows. Maybe then we could again hear and see and smell and touch and taste, tune in to the real show, to the sacred in any context.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Hipps' Website

I forgot to post this link to Shane Hipps' website, where he promotes his book using "soundbytes" of contextless information that scroll over a flat screen. Your choices to read about the book, author, reviews are on a remote. Cool intentional irony.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Medium is Message

Shane Hipps, author of The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture: How Media Shapes Faith, the Gospel, and Church, maintains that not only is the message profoundly affected by the medium, but also the recipient of that message. Like Marshall McLuhan, one of the first voices to equate medium and message, Hipps notes the power of media inherent in its form, irrespective of the content. In the first section of his book, he provides a way to perceive the actual effects of technological mediums through insightful analysis of past Western engagement with the media of its time. Then he unpacks the possibility of intentionally, rather than blindly, utilizing technological medium for the purposes of the kingdom of God in community, leadership and worship. He offers a descriptive and a prescriptive, context and counsel, for operating as the body of Christ in our media drenched culture. Definitely recommended.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Celebrating in Estes Park, Colorado my parents' 50 years together....blessing generations!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I have it again...which doesn't surprise me anymore, but does bring some guilt. Because I know my life is easy...really easy in fact. Especially compared to females under the Taliban (Hosseini's gripping 2nd novel) or friends in my close circle who've lost mothers and spouses and health.

But I'm not the only's endemic in our culture, despite the constant choices presented to us every minute. Maybe partly because of those. Maybe our youth have it because they are not allowed to have freedom and responsibility (see previous post).

There are those who definitely have more extreme cases than others...the types that Jon Krakauer writes about. They climb very tall mountains. They sell all to live alone in a remote land. Some of us just start a blog.

I've noticed that after about a couple of years of college, right around 20, it often shows up. My oldest has it. So on a whim I bought her Erik Mirandette's The Only Road North. I knew nothing about it, but because it had to do with adventure and Africa, I thought it might appeal. Did it ever.

He writes about his service in Africa, his choice when restlessness descends on him after two years at the Air Force Academy. He chronicles about his naive, yet heartfelt response to the destitute refugees in Morocco and his strong desire to see the countries from which they were fleeing. This compulsion led him and his brother and best friend on a journey by dirt bikes through the heart of Africa. A riveting account of persistence, adventure, joyful comraderie and almost unbearable pain and grief, the book deals with hard stuff without giving easy, canned answers. Some of the difficult questions Mirandette asks:
Would he choose differently had he known the outcome? Why did he feel so alone when facing death? Where was the God of "the valley of the shadow of death"? Was the cost worth it? And knowing who he is (an adventurer at heart) would he be satisfied with any less? Does restlessness have something to do with purpose? Is the cost greater if the restlessness or call is ignored, anesthetized?

Friday, July 20, 2007


Read a controversial article (at least in education circles) here. (Thanks to Wittingshire). The concept of adolescence being a relatively new phenomenon is something I first came across in homeschooling circles years ago.

My current experience with high school students (generally most turn 16 sometime during the school year) is that once they get a license there's a marked change in their maturity...especially if they have to hold a job to pay for gas and insurance. Suddenly they can relate, even if it's just remotely, to JeanValjean's struggle to sacrifice.

Which brings me to a related topic regarding the huge shift in the way 21st century students learn. But more on that later.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Medieval Help Desk

Check out the you tube video (thanks to Per Caritatem). Kind of how I'm feeling as a new blogger...

Monday, July 16, 2007

This Blog

I have lots of words that run constantly through my mind. Doubts and questions. Trying to make sense of the rapid changes in technology and how my very thought process is molded by it. So my oldest daughter, her blog, got me into the blog scene where I hope to post some of those thoughts and process the questions.

Fallback words are powerful. They are the words that remain in my mind when nothing else is there, the words I fall back on almost subconsciously, the words that speak back what I believe on an elemental level about God, myself, the world, and my place in it.

Usually they are the words we've lived with for a long time.

My grandmother, when she was in the midst of chemotherapy, heard a man's voice sing hymns in a rich baritone over and over in her mind. She called him Buddy. Some say he was her angel. Maybe. But she had lived with those hymns most of her life..."Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,..." "Tell me the story of Jesus. Write on my heart every word." Her fallback words.

Lauren Winner says in Girl Meets God that through "sitting with liturgy," her habitual prayer, that "words of praise to God are becoming the most basic words... they are becoming the fallback words."

The most fundamental word can be and will be ultimately His...or...Him.