Interindependence

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This is my first contribution to a fantastic monthly synchroblog. The theme for August is “connection”. 


“It’s crazy to me” Lydia began. “This city’s so big, eight million people, and I keep running into my mother in the most random places.”

“Crazy.” her husband Jim agreed – dutifully adding an exclamation point to Lydia’s thought. 

Second only to plotting the best taxi route, telling big-city-small-world tales is a favorite pastime of New Yorkers. Our foursome was sharing such stories along with our tapas. 

In this particular genre, Lydia’s chance encounters were not so remarkable. She is her mother’s daughter. They eat at the same restaurants. They shop at the same stores. Running into each other seemed entirely unsurprising.

My husband the truth-teller was about to point this out. “Well…you know…” he started.

I jumped in before he had a chance to burst Lydia’s bubble. “I know exactly what you mean.” With that, I had just declared my turn to tell a story.  Continue reading →

The Hope of Shalom: We Will Walk In Good Company

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The events in Gaza are heartbreaking and infuriating. I’ve attempted to write this post for a week, and every day I’m at a loss for words. Every day the death toll climbs. As I’m writing this (August 1), more than 1,500 human beings have died in this conflict – the vast majority of them Palestinian civilians.

I’m overwhelmed by the images – the bloody bodies, many of them children, limp, being carried by anguished families.  I’m overwhelmed by the destruction – entire city blocks leveled; seeing it has triggered my 9/11 PTSD.

I completely empathize with Christopher Gunness, a United Nations relief official, who cannot contain the sadness:

The destruction of human life has to stop. I, like so many others, feel utterly powerless.

We want to know who to blame. We want to know who’s at fault. We want to know who’s wearing the white hats, and who’s wearing the black ones. That is, I think, a very human reaction, especially in our hyper-polarized world.

But the moral righteousness and condemnations from social media and the blogosphere are dangerously uninformed and maddening. Continue reading →

When Did We Become Enemies? A Note to Preston Sprinkle

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Preston,

I read your blog post this morning where you said this:

And I believe in grace. Not just the “doctrines of grace” but “incarnating grace.” Showing favor (grace) unconditionally (biblical grace) to people of every sexual orientation. If believing in the doctrines of grace doesn’t move you to love your enemies, then you don’t really believe in the doctrines of grace. You endorse them. Sign off on them. Nod your head when you’re reading Calvin’s Institutes. But until we love the unlovable, we fail to incarnate grace and imitate the one who died for His enemies.

So gay people are your enemies? We’re the unloveable people you are called to love? Is that what you really believe? Is that what you’re teaching your students at Eternity Bible College? Is that what you’re teaching your children?

When did we become enemies, you and me? Continue reading →

Freezing & Asking: The Seasons of My Life

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On a summer Saturday in 1986, my seventeen year old self was working in a mall. Technically it was the basement of a mall. I was the stock boy in a retailer’s warehouse. Customers would make their selection from merchandise samples on the showroom floor, the cashier would then take their order and send the hand-written slip to us basement-dwellers via pneumatic tube (the kind they used to have at the bank drive-through), and I would pull the stock from the shelves and send it upstairs on the conveyor belt.

I punched my time card out for my lunch break, and I made a beeline for the mall’s record store.  I had just discovered Philip Glass’ Songs from Liquid Days. It’s a song cycle he wrote using the lyrics of (mostly) major pop stars of the time – Paul Simon, Suzanne Vega, David Byrne, and Laurie Anderson. It was recorded with some of my favorite performers including the Roches and the Kronos Quartet.

I thought it was just about the coolest thing I had ever heard.

When I got back to work, I freed the cassette tape from its cellophane wrapper, popped it into the Alpine sound system, and turned the volume up to number 11. Auto-repeat allowed me to listen to the tape over and over and over.  I couldn’t get enough. The contrapuntal strains ascended the conveyor belt, along with hair dryers and alarm clocks, arriving on the showroom floor above.

The store’s red-faced general manager burst into the basement and bellowed “What’s this shit you’re listening to?” He wasn’t really looking for an answer and I remained silent under his anger. “Whatever it is, turn it off!” Speechless, I nodded. “Now!” he yelled. Continue reading →

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