Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dealing with Bible Passages on Submission

This week I am participating in Rachel Held Evans'  "Submit to One Another: Christ and the Household Codes" synchro-blog. Although I kinda wonder if it should be "Paul and Peter and the Household Codes" because Jesus speaks of marriage making two people one flesh, not one subordinate to the other. (And also against divorce, which frankly I have a harder time with unless it's to compassionately rescue abandoned wives from their shame and sheer poverty as a result of divorce.)


Ephesians 5:21-6:9 so got my goat as a young adult (between 16 and 21) that I refused to read it if I was scheduled to read that Sunday. Nothing so dramatic as declaring this for all to hear, I would refuse and call in sick. (I know, very passive aggressive of me and to be completely honest, I'd make my mother call in for me.)

This young feminist (me) who hadn't yet found her voice was disgusted at how out-dated this was. The times they have a'changed and why didn't the church acknowledge this? I chose for it not to be a part of my theology.

It meant that when it came time to marry, I chose alternate vows than the ones in the prayer book. "Obeying" my husband just wasn't something I was interested in. Especially when he wasn't vowing the same back.

Marriage, I learned, had more to do with respect and loving the other than any ancient set of vows. It took me a while to learn the truth of that. It wasn't something I'd been taught

It wasn't until I took the four year course Education for Ministry (for lay people) that I had to "deal" with it. Various parts of the intense bible study had caused struggle and dilemma for myself and other in my EfM group, but this one was tough. I didn't even want to acknowledge these letters (and those that said a woman should be silent in church). However, I made peace with it via Colossians and through an introduction to the Roman household codes (the latter I'll leave to others to talk about).

The Colossians passage is actually kind of nice. There's a simplicity to it without turning one spouse into God and the other into a virgin bride like Ephesians does.

Because it's mutual, equal. Husband to wife, wife to husband. Love each other, respect each other, see Christ in each other. That's what mutual submission is, otherwise somebody ends up a doormat.

By the way, Personally I think it is hilarious to hold Sarah up as an submissive spouse when she so often told Abraham what to do (1 Peter 3:6). The two of them make a team more often than not with one or the other taking the lead. I do wish the discussion they had about Sarah being his sister (twice) had been recorded. Just sayin'.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Icon Writing #4: Day "One" Complete

Yesterday's icon writing was only a couple of hours. We have made it officially to the end of day one of the workshop! Today required a lot of detail work, filling in the small spaces.

We started with hair -- and discovered that the container was faulty and our paint had dried up! So we mixed a new batch of hair color and while I was doing that, Helena mixed more halo red as we were a bit worried we might run out once we started shading.

Lots and lots of layers of halo red later, as well as the storm blue color that just loved to lift right back up again and "Day 1" of the icon writing is complete.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Staying in the Moment #6: Ladybird

Ladybird, ladybird
Under the brim of my hat
You're so out of focus
But I can tell that
You're headed to my hair
And not to the light.
Ladybird, ladybird,
Go on -- take flight!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Icon Writing #3

It's our second day at writing an icon and we haven't finished all that the students had done in their first day.

yes their faces and hands are green. This is sankir.
This is not because of stopping to snack on roasted red pepper hummus, raw garlic spread with dill (yum!) with rosemary and onion flat bread or stopping to make potato skins. Well, hardly all that. We also mixed some more sankir (green) paint because we worried we might run out. We didn't.

All the layers of thinned paint (think milk consistency) takes for ever to put on. Especially the oxides which look streaky and take forever to lay down an even color. Why not slap it on at it's original consistency? 'Cause then you get dried acrylic ridges and what not which can make it tricky to layer color smoothly over the top.

And I had the lifting of paint problem again. Said "Goddammit!" aloud when the one at the end of the pointy finger appeared out of nowhere and made Helena giggle. So it was time to go help prep and then eat the potato skins, letting the paint dry long enough for me to tackle layers over this.

I don't know why her Indian Red Oxide sleeve is purple in this. It must be the light hitting the
paint in a certain way...
We spent the first hour or so in silence, and then I put some music on.

Amongst our playlist today:

  • The Benedictine Nuns of Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation, Le Barroux chanting in Latin
  • Rachmaninoff Vespers: All-Night Vigil by Tenebrae
  • Duarte Lobo - Requiem For Six Voices by Peter Phillips: Tallis Scholars
Yeah it was monastic chanting heavy, but there were a few Good Sam choir pieces in there too, some even in English. We did not quite make it to Monteverdi's Vespers for the Blessed Virgin as I thought we might, but maybe next week.

Just have the storm blue, halo red and hair base to go (and the background but we'll be doing that a bit later) before we start layering different colors on top of these.

In the schedule I made up for us one June afternoon, I have us doing "hair" next week. I don't think so. We might get to the doo-dads however.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Staying in the Moment #5: Squirrel!

Eyes absorbed in the holy,
In layers of paint
To reveal a saint.

I look up--
Grey and still,
Is it fake?
The head twitches.


It's a horrible photo. It was late afternoon and I used my iPhone (may take better camera this week). He looked unreal until those little ears twitched and I did a double-take. No idea what the little guy was watching, but I watched him and finally mentioned him to Helena who wanted to spray water at him 'cause he's been eating her plants. (No idea from this angle, if said squirrel is actually a he or a she...)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Icon Writing #2: Just beginning...

The idea of icon writing is that you are copying from life, from an image that has been drawn and redrawn since St. Luke. (Photos taken with my iPhone whose camera lens needs a cleaning)

major blocks sketched (some lines were erased after this photo)
 Given that icons can be recognized by the styles (Russian Orthodox are quite distinctive) and by the materials used, being identical is not important.

What is important is the prayer that goes into it -- which for me is a mix of silent wonder at the layers of paint going on and muffled cursing when paint goes where it shouldn't.

Our workspace: I'm on the left, Helena on the right.
Putting on super-thin layers of paint requires patience because if you try to rush, this happens:

The paint lifts and then you have to be even more patient in putting layers over it because then it will lift more.

We only got two colors down in this session: the dark red base color of her veil, and the tiny parchment.

We're working on this one day a week. Getting done by Advent may turn out to be a bit optimistic!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tiny: Staying in the Moment #4

tiny bird
sipping at the fountain
if it dips too deep
a green silver flash

(written July 30, 2013)

The bird was a hummingbird, which is just about impossible to take a good photo of, especially if you've nothing to hand but an old iPhone.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Icon Writing #1

Last Saturday I started writing a new icon with a friend. Technically, we haven't actually started yet. 

We needed to mix the paints with names like Halo Red and Sankir. This really didn't take all that long, we spent some time moving furniture, rewarding ourselves with guacamole (hey there was piano moving involved!) and poring over the instructions.

mixing Sankir

Then we mixed paint. The Halo Red took three attempts before we got it right.

Sunday, we start in earnest and I'll be continuing to share our progress as we go.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

God's Love Stories (a link list)

Apologies, I thought I'd added all the links but I guess not, so reposting for y'all.

Here are stories that have touched or reminded me of God's presence in our lives...

  • the Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts-Schori on Amos' basket of fruit, the story of Mary and Martha of Bethany: "We all struggle with being fully present to the moment, and we bring different attitudes and reactions to each encounter.  Jesus tells us to travel light and be radically open to encountering God, who is present and active all around us, if we will only notice."
  • a beautiful post on "And What We Have Left Undone" by Sarah at Whispers Upon the Journey.
  • a video interview with Liz Lamoreux (one of these days I'll have to go to one of her retreats) at Transformation Talk. It's worth finding the 35 minutes to sit and listen to Liz tell her story.
  • Rachel Held Evans on "Why I Can't Stay Angry (even if I want to)". A must read.
  • "On Communion" at On Afternoons and Coffeespoons gives me ideas.
Monday brought a whole host of amazing, heart-deep posts:

God is also in the funny:

Monday, August 5, 2013

Flicker: Staying in the Moment #3

Bright Yellow
I stop, try to find its path
Lilting up
On warm currents

Head turn. 

Written July 9th, 2013.

(no photo. The butterfly wasn't staying still for me.)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Faith Fridays: Starting at the Beginning

Working at a synagogue has opened a fresh interest in my faith's "parent" religion, and I've come to realize that there's more than one side to the Christian story. This fresh awareness has prompted mutterings of "Jesus didn't come up with that idea, the prophets before him did" (not to mention the sage Hillel) and other similar mumbles.

I recently finished reading When Christians Were Jews (That Is, Now): Recovering the Lost Jewishness of Christianity with the Gospel of Mark by Wayne-Daniel Berard and while the book has some issues (the fondness for a few crackpot theories which are contested in scholastic circles), I got some fresh insights into the earliest Gospel and the Christian faith. 

May my Jewish friends forgive and correct me if I get any of this wrong. I am still very new into my studies and the more I read, the more I find what I first felt was authoritative to be less so. That was the case with this first book, although it has some really neat stuff in it.

(1) If you're not familiar with historical-criticism method of the bible, you're not gonna like this: Mark's Gospel is biased against Pharisees (Jewish group that today's rabbinical Judaism sprung from). You didn't know scripture could have biases? Have you read Chronicles lately? It's not that there isn't history in Mark's Gospel, but that there's a definite bias. This gospel, as the others were, was written to speak to the Christians (Jesus Jews) of that time. (This is being echoed by the current book I'm reading which is John Dominic Crossan's Who Killed Jesus? Answer: it mightn't be who you think it is.)

In a nutshell, after the Rome destroyed the Temple in 70 C.E., there were two Jewish parties left standing: the Pharisees who thought living by Torah was more important than the Temple, and the Jesus Jews who thought including everybody (no matter if they were considered unclean by Torah or not) was more important than keeping Torah. Jesus is quoting Isaiah on that last one. (And that's really really really simplified.)

(2) Christians would still be Jewish today if it wasn't for that power struggle between the two groups. The author's argument is that we still are.

(3) Both sides spent so much time proving how different we are in writings and rulings from various councils on it -- and in horrible ways and ultimately Christians have spent centuries committing atrocities upon Jews since becoming the Roman Empire's official religion -- that we've forgotten how alike we are.

This was borne out by my reading of The Idiot's Guide to Jewish Culture and History and The Idiot's Guide to Judaism both by Rabbi Benjamin Blech. These were simplistic summaries of the Jewish faith but made some things really clear in how much we Christians have carried Jewish faith with us, despite the schism between Judaism and Christianity, and how much we have lost, by trying so hard to prove that we are different.

What do we have in common? Super briefly, because I've gone on long enough, two things. 
  1. "...the Lord is our God, the Lord is One." (the Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4,  Mark 12:29); and,
  2. "...you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mark 12:30-31, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18, the sage Hillel, Matthew, Luke, Romans, James)
'For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” ' (Galatians 5:14)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Skunk Stories

For my Facebook friends, there's a sequel to recent Facebook status updates, repeated here.

July 24: Before letting dogs out, we check for skunks. There was a small one on the far side of the patio. I leapt back inside, then crept out to shoo it off (aka make just enough noise for it to move, not to spray). I stamp my foot, say "go! go on!' which a certain dog takes as permission to squeeze his way out the back door. There was indeed then sufficient shouting and movement for the skunk to be on its way. And not spray us instead. This is what I mean by a close run thing.‪#‎reallycloserunthing‬

Skunk Adventures, Part the Second. July 26: Again on the far side of the patio -- I spotted its tail sticking out behind the chair. I ask it to go away and it obligingly does, heading up the slope. I let the dogs out, advising said skunk to stop moving otherwise my dogs'll notice it and sure enough, a certain dog does. It barks at the hillside, heading for where the skunk was. He gets yelled at, dragged back ... No spray and I send my apologies to the skunk. Although its probably very confused about me now 'cause its heard me yell and be nice. *sigh*

Part the Third, July 30: The skunk again was at the back of the patio. I backed up, made sure the door behind me was closed. "Hey skunk, could you--?" 
The skunk heads up the back slope. I see the black and white fur appear and disappear. I wait a moment or two longer until I can't see or hear it.
"Ok skunk, be quiet now, don't move."
I let the dogs out stand between them and where the skunk was, hoping radiating unconcern and we all make it back into the house without incident.


Photos are from previous skunk visits (the current skunk is smaller) when my dogs and I would sit behind the back door's protective glass and I would coo and the dogs would growl and occasionally bark.

By the way, I don't mind my backyard being a way station for wild animals. Just so long as I respect their space, they can sleep under out patio and eat as many Japanese beetle larvae as they want ( even if this means having to occasionally replant).