Oct 30, 2008

Over The Pond (5), Day 1 -- O'Hare Again

Here we are, getting ready to board the flight to London Heathrow. I seem to remember a witty opening post for OTP (4), but I'm a bit tired. Plus we're about to board, so I'll have to make this quick.

In some ways, I was well-prepared for this trip. I did laundry and packed early, made good progress on my schoolwork, and lined up my UK contacts well ahead of time. (... this is the sound of the other shoe falling through the air, dropping, dropping...)

Other Shoe #1: On Tuesday evening, my computer began having mysterious problems. When I took it to the repair place, they hunted and mumbled and finally said some confusing things, with one word standing out -- "motherboard?" Oh no, even I know that's not good. They weren't totally sure, and recommended I see how it goes, but we might have big problems down the line.

Other Shoe #2: Yesterday, my lower back began to hurt, pretty badly. I stretched and iced and heated, and iced and heated again. Finally, I called my doc and said something to the effect of "I'll be on a plane for over 8 hours tomorrow -- have mercy." They did and provided Flexaril, which is helping but makes me very groggy.

At least both of them broke before I left the States -- that's something!

I'm off to buy a pack of gum and some Altoids before I get to the UK and they cost me $5 apiece.

Oct 27, 2008

Over the Pond, vol.5

This week, don't miss the exciting season premiere of Over the Pond, now appearing in its 5th season. Debut is scheduled for this Thursday, October 30th.

To catch up on seasons 1-4, check out the labels in the sidebar.

Oct 15, 2008

The Ordinary Radicals tonight!

Tonight at the Kentucky Theatre, our community's foundation is sponsoring a screening of The Ordinary Radicals: A Conspiracy of Faith on the Margins of Empire. Read below for a synopsis of the film:

In the margins of the United States, there lives a revolutionary Christianity. One with a quiet disposition that seeks to do 'small things with great love,' and in so doing is breaking 21st Century stereotypes surrounding this 2000 year old faith. 'The Ordinary Radicals' is set against the modern American political and social backdrop of the next Great Awakening. Traveling across the United States on a tour to promote the book 'Jesus for President', Shane Claiborne and a rag-tag group of 'ordinary radicals' interpret Biblical history and its correlation with the current state of American politics. Sharing a relevant outlook for people with all faith perspectives, director Jamie Moffett examines this growing movement.

Click here to view the film's trailer. The film's director, Jamie Moffet, will be present for live interview and Q & A after the showing.

Where? The Kentucky Theatre, 214 East Main Street, Lexington, Ky.

When: Thursday, October 16th, 7-10pm

Tickets are $7.50 and may be purchased at the door. You may also purchase tickets in advance by calling 859.231.7924 or 859.231.6997

The evening is also a fundraiser for Kentucky Refugee Ministries, with 100% of the door proceeds going directly to them.

And, you can check out the article in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Oct 14, 2008

Oct 10, 2008

More Random Political Thoughts Which Require Your Feedback

As I consider how our country is becoming increasingly polarized in our public discourse, I've begun reading a book called Patriotic Grace: What It Is and Why We Need It Now. It's written by a former Reagan speechwriter, and it calls Americans -- liberal and conservative alike -- to "see each other anew" and "face our common challenges together." Anyone out there read it? Care to comment? I'll report back as I go. In that vein, I've been increasingly intrigued by the apparent and unlikely friendship between commentators Rachel Maddow and Pat Buchanan. This article seems a good example of how people with radically different political positions can actively and positively participate in political dialogue. (Plus, it's just fun to watch them dig at each other energetically yet good-naturedly.)

One columnist I've been reading lately is Kathleen Parker. Although we differ in many areas of political thought, I'm beginning to admire her work quite a bit. She's taken some heat for her criticism of Gov. Palin (which are here and here), and while I tend to agree with her critique, I'm more taken with the thoughtful, nuanced voice she brings to the discussion. Take a look and see what you think. Let me know. Don't be afraid to disagree.

Speaking of Kathleen Parker, here's an interesting article about the possibility of Obama making a significant connection with voters in an area very dear to my heart, Appalachia.

And on a final and admittedly trivial note... Ann Coulter is an intelligent, extreme, and beautiful woman (whose views are MARKEDLY different from my own and likely always will be). I just saw her on a Fox News panel, and will someone please tell her to tone down the eyeliner???

Oct 6, 2008

Politics and Radical Inclusion

I've been trying to gather my thoughts on all these issues into one coherent post with logical flow, but I've given up. Here are my thoughts; I just want to get them posted.

A friend of my sister's said, "Wow, Maria's blog is getting pretty political." If only she saw some of the other blogs out there...! But in all fairness, this post and this post I did on Palin weren't exactly moderate in nature. (Although this post about Obama and McCain had a much more conciliatory tone.) This is the first election cycle here I've been more than a casual observer and participant. (Ok, I'm still a casual participant, but I'm observing much more intentionally.) And I'm trying to figure out how to hold opinions thoughtfully and strongly while holding more tightly to the people whom I love and respect, and to the character of Christ which we try to cultivate in our community.
At our fellowship time last Sunday, our friend Will led us in a discussion of politics. What do we think of politics? How does the process make us feel? How does our participation in the body of Christ affect (and effect) our political involvement? One text we discussed was Matthew 18, and how Jesus' instruction to treat those who sin against us "as Gentiles and tax collectors" is actually a call for radical inclusion (since Jesus tended to hang out with Gentiles and tax collectors). I wondered how such radical inclusion would shape the manner and content of our increasingly polarized political discourse. Can we have close friends and family who vote differently? How do we relate to someone who believes passionately about something with which we disagree? What hope is there for us to journey together towards our common goals?

A good friend of mine, who's a lifelong and rabid (er, devoted) fan of the University of Georgia, said something which struck me as quite insightful. "So many people," he commented, "seem to be Democrats or Republicans the same way that I'm a Dawgs fan." It's a great analogy, startling in its clarity and evocation of an almost blind devotion to a certain allegiance. While this is entirely appropriate in the realm of sports (Go Cowboys [despite Terrell Owens]!!), it's hardly conducive to thoughtful political conversation. How do we, as participants in the kingdom of God, reduce the stridency of our discourse and genuinely seek that radical inclusion that we find in Scripture?

I'm not sure. I don't have a tidy theological answer. What I do have are 2 close, close friends and several family members who will certainly make a different choice on Nov. 4th than I will make. And I'm committed to them, just as committed as to the folks with whom I largely agree. I don't hate them, they don't hate me. We love and respect each other. How do we find the courage to sit down with someone and say, "Tell me why I should care about this issue. Tell me why you are voting for this person. I may not agree, but I want to know. And I'm really listening." And how do we have the grace to answer this question, not with arrogance and hubris, but with a passion tempered by humility?
What do we do? I want to hear what you think.