Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Virtual Postcard from Southern California

Here we are on our extended vacation in Southern California, land of earthquakes, mudslides and oppressive heat and smog. The last time we visited in the summer it was August and unbearably hot and smoggy. This feels like a different place.

So far the postcard I am sending you this week is beautiful, full of palm trees, mountain views, perfect temperatures and good air quality. Also no earthquakes, thanks be to God. If it weren't for the outrageous real estate prices, cost of living and the San Andreas Fault, I might be persuaded to live here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Travelling Mercies

We are preparing to travel to California to vacation with my husband's side of the family. We will be gone for nearly three weeks. My husband doesn't believe in going on any trip that requires air travel that is less than ten days...so three weeks is just about right for us. Blogging will likely be sporadic.

I must admit nervousness about air travel and also being on the West Coast with all of that insane earthquake activity right now. So I pray my way through my fears...

Here is one wonderful ancient prayer that I am going to print out and tuck into my reading material on the plane.

                            Lorica of Saint Patrick

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation

St. Patrick (ca. 377)

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Okay, I admit it...I am a PBS and NPR geek, as you may have noticed from my recent posts. It's Sunday afternoon and after listening to Prairie Home Companion on the way home from church, I flopped on my couch and flipped on my local public television station to watch Operatunity on Great Performances. It's a BBC production of an English National Opera talent search for an unknown, untrained opera singer to perform professionally with the company. I'm not very knowledgable about opera, but love all types of good music and so enjoyed the many performances. The rehearsal process is most fascinating and it makes me nostalgic for my acting days. Do check it out if you get a chance. It's terrific.

Micah Girl

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Crazy Story

This American Life, another of my favorite Public Radio story shows, is an addictive collection of stories narrated weekly by Ira Glass. Today is one about a young, rebellious, Hasidic Jew who becomes a Rocker...

My Experimental Phase
Stories about people taking a shot at a whole new life. A man who's living like someone in 19th century Poland – no television, no pop music, no MTV, no English – jumps two centuries forward and turns himself into the rocker pictured second from the right. Broadcast the weekend of June 17-19 in most places, or available via RealAudio next week. 

What a wild cross-cultural story. You can click over to the site for a RealAudio listen if you didn't hear it today.

Micah Girl

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Hard to categorize?

I had a surprise with the results of this quiz. I need to read some Wesley and see why I seem to resonate with him so much! My postmodern score was not as high as I expected... And neo orthodox? What's that all about? I actually think my postmodern experience of faith--coming to Christ as a teen in Young Life, attending an Episcopal Church in college, becoming a member of an Evangelical Covenant Church until seminary and then joining my current conservative evangelical denomination as part of my call to collegiate ministry--has made me hard to peg theologically.

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavily by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox




Reformed Evangelical






Roman Catholic


Modern Liberal


Classical Liberal


What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

Micah Girl

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Power of Story

I was watching a videotape of a Prairie Home Companion broadcast yesterday afternoon. Garrison Keillor is one of my favorite storytellers and I love to listen to his radio broadcast every week as we drive home from church. To watch a video of a radio broadcast grants you an behind the scenes peek at how it all comes together. I always imagined that Keillor read the News from Lake Wobegon from a script, but apparently he memorizes this long 20 minute monologue each week. As he paints a word picture with his voice you are transported to his imaginary Minnesota town. Watching him speak, a self-described quiet person, you can see clearly he is not a television broadcaster or an actor. As he delivers his monologue he absent-mindedly plays with the buttons on his shirt and runs his finger through his hair like he's thinking alone in his study. And yet the mellifluous tone of his voice and the confidence with which he weaves his story is riveting. Garrison Keillor is brilliant. I long to be able to tell a story like that.

I've recently read through Jan Karon's Mitford Series which is often compared to Keillor's writing with its well drawn and quirky small town characters. Her writing is sweet without being cloying and the world she paints makes me want to move to the hills of North Carolina. Now that I've read all her current books, I am looking for a new writer to feed my story addiction.

When I was an actor, one of my teachers told us that all good actors could tell a story, and there was an exercise where we were supposed to get up a tell a story about our lives. I don't remember it very well, because I think I blocked it out. I've always longed to tell a good story, to paint a vivid picture, but I give up when it cost me something-pride, privacy, pain. Although I've always longed to write fiction, I always stop myself because I fear that I can't make up a good enough story. But then I realize that really good fiction writers are simply tellling the truth in story form and are not making it up although it is indeed a fiction. It's not unlike good method acting--you tell the truth in the scene while playing someone else.

As a minister and teacher, I have a very important story to tell--the beyond all time love story of God and humanity. The unbelievable tale of a Creator who would take on the form of his creature to tell them how to live and die and to pay the price for all the ways they have messed it up for millenia. I minister to college age students-Millenials, Mosaics, Generation Y, postmoderns--whatever you want to call them. And I am stretching to learn how to tell them life changing stories. I am also wrestling with finding ways for them to tell their stories to one another and to build an authentic community of people who tell the truth to one another and invite their friends to know the Truth as well.

As a mom and a homeschooler I read stories all the time to my kids. We use Sonlight, a literature-based curriculum which allows us to read living books to the kids to teach them all they need to know by story, not by the dry rote of a textbook. I've learned so much through my kids' stories--things about the human condition, about redemption and about culture. Children's literature has to tell a good story, because a kid won't sit on your lap to hear a lecture.

So part of this blog--the very random thoughts of a creative woman--is dedicated to me learning the discipline of writing. (Part of it is rants, part of it is thinking out loud on the emerging church, part of it is personal devotional, part of it is just typical blogtastic navel-gazing.) But above all I want to learn how to tell a good story like Garrison Keillor.

Micah Girl

Friday, June 10, 2005

Lauren Winner's review of Bret Lott

One of my new favorite authors, Lauren Winner, has a review of one of my other favorite authors, Bret Lott, at Christianity Today. Both of these writers write with clarity, honesty, passion and real-life faith. I want to be like them!

Micah Girl

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Official Response to Critics of Emergent

Check out the Response to Recent Criticisms by Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Spencer Burke, Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, Andrew Jones, Chris Seay. These are some of the most vocal emergent voices and it's posted by Tony Jones over at Theoblogy.

There is lots of great stuff here in response to the criticism that is being leveled against the emergent conversation by every quarter. I especially like the following exerpts:

...(W)e would like to clarify, contrary to statements and inferences made by some, that yes, we truly believe there is such a thing as truth and truth matters – if we did not believe this, we would have no good reason to write or speak; no, we are not moral or epistemological relativists any more than anyone or any community is who takes hermeneutical positions – we believe that radical relativism is absurd and dangerous, as is arrogant absolutism; yes, we affirm the historic Trinitarian Christian faith and the ancient creeds, and seek to learn from all of church history – and we honor the church’s great teachers and leaders from East and West, North and South; yes, we believe that Jesus is the crucified and risen Savior of the cosmos and no one comes to the Father except through Jesus; no, we do not pit reason against experience but seek to use all our God-given faculties to love and serve God and our neighbors...and yes, we affirm that we love, have confidence in, seek to obey, and strive accurately to teach the sacred Scriptures, because our greatest desire is to be followers and servants of the Word of God, Jesus Christ. We regret that we have either been unclear or misinterpreted in these and other areas.

But we also acknowledge that we each find great joy and promise in dialogue and conversation... We are radically open to the possibility that our hermeneutic stance will be greatly enriched in conversation with others. In other words, we value dialogue very highly, and we are convinced that open and generous dialogue – rather than chilling criticism and censorship – offers the greatest hope for the future of the church in the world.

... (W)e believe that they [critics]would also find much to celebrate and find many of their suspicions relieved when they see our high regard for the Scriptures, for truth, for worship, for evangelism, for spiritual formation, and for our fellow Christians – including our critics themselves.

Instead of engaging in fruitless quarrels with our critics, we urge those who find our work helpful to pursue spiritual formation in the way of Christ, to worship God in spirit and truth, to seek to plant or serve in healthy and fruitful churches, to make disciples – especially among the irreligious and unchurched, to serve those in need, to be at peace with everyone as far as is possible, and to show a special concern for orphans and widows in their distress. We should keep careful control of our tongues (and pens or keyboards), and seek to be pure in heart and life, since this is "religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless."

With millions suffering from hunger, disease, and injustice around the world, we hope that all of us – including our critics – can renew our commitment to "remember the poor" (Galatians 2:10) rather than invest excessive energy in "controversies about words." "They will know you are my disciples," Jesus said, not by our excessive disputation, but by our love. Words and ideas are essential, for they often set the course for thought and action, and constructive dialogue is needed and worthwhile, but we cannot let less productive internal debates preoccupy us at the expense of caring for those in need.

This is great stuff. Click over to read the whole thing--it really clarifies things for those who have ears...

Micah Girl

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Summer Rhythm

"The Wish to be Generous"
by Wendell Berry

ALL that I serve will die, all my delights,
the flesh kindled from my flesh, garden and field,
the silent lilies standing in the woods,
the woods, the hill, the whole earth, all
will burn in man's evil, or dwindle
in its own age. Let the world bring on me
the sleep of darkness without stars, so I may know
my little light taken from me into the seed
of the beginning and the end, so I may bow
to mystery, and take my stand on the earth
like a tree in a field, passing without haste
or regret toward what will be, my life
a patient willing descent into the grass.

As my summer rhythm overtakes my frantic semester's pace, I have been spending much time in the yard. My vegetable garden promises to provide me with tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, pumpkin, cantaloupe, strawberries, and more as the season progresses, if only I can keep it nourished with water and keep the weeds at bay. I've moved my perennials to the slope on the side of my driveway and hope to hold in the soil there while framing the yard with some beauty. We have our ten Arbor Day Foundation trees nestled in the garden at the back of the house growing and awaiting their fall transplanting. We have been nurturing them for well over a year and a half since they were mailed to us--a thin package of sticks with bare roots--now healthy little saplings. And I go out in the dirt and the hours pass as the children play in the yard or help me dig and plant, and I feel renewed.

Yet just a Berry states in his poem, "All that I serve will die, all my delights..." My plants, my trees, my beautiful children. I want my life to be neither hasty nor regretful. I pray that my life will be generous because it is not forever here, and I want to live in peace with God and neighbor.

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