Friday, December 31, 2004


Have your kids discovered this new version of the popular computer game Sims?

The graphics are incredible! Three-D everything and all these choices about looks, hair, clothes, personalities, wants, needs, desires.

My kids have this to say about it:

"I created only two people: a divorcee and a kid. I don't know how anyone manages seven people in a family. Too many needs to keep track of."

Gee, I wonder. How does one keep track of that many needs? I'm still working on it...

I am so stressed out with my teenage girl character. She has to study to get good grades because her dad's need is for her to succeed in school. But her need is to have a social life and to eat right, get enough sleep and exercise. There's no time to do homework! I'm always so happy when it's the weekend so I can get her to study.

Jon's comment: Hey maybe we could get teens to play this game. They'd learn so much about how we feel.

Newsflash: Teens are playing this game. So perhaps there's hope for us! Empathy for parents from teens... sounds like a good ad campaign to me.

My characters have "romance" as a need. But that means they don't want babies. So they end up doing the "woo-hoo"s. That means they kiss and stuff and then they float into the sky and little hearts and clouds explode. Or they get in a jacuzzi together.

Yikes! Maybe a little too much empathy for parents... Pretty sure they're learning more than I did when I used to play dating Barbies in 7th grade. Think so? Uh, yeah...

The kids together created a version of our family and I look hot! I'm tall (taller than Jon) very curvy and am wearing a great red top with fitted jeans...

Wonder what the password is.... Woo-hoo.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

125,000 and climbing

I feel the need to honor the dead by posting the growing tally of victims from the tsunami. It keeps me aware of how fragile life is, how necessary to live each day conscious of the gift that it is.


that would be like UCLA, OSU and USC being wiped off the face of the earth... in a day.
like half of Butler county (Ohio, where we live) disappearing

I certainly hope there is no masked euphoria in the prophetic corners of christendom that see this tragedy as a sign of the end times...

Am I emo or what?

Johannah says: I think it's so funny when adults do stuff and think it's cool, when teens have been doing it for so long that it's no longer cool.

(On the subject of whether or not shooting pictures of one's feet is showing mad skills)

Conversation with Caitrin

"Kids, I'm going to take down the tree. Is that cool with everyone?"
"No problem, Mom."
"Fine with me."

Thud, thud, thud, thud.... Bam! Double doors fly open.
"Mommy, don't take the tree down." Sobs, tears, hair in face.

"Sweetie, what's the matter?" Pulling her close to me.
"It's just that I love Christmas. I wait all year for it to come, it's the only good thing about winter and it's oh... vvver... t-t-too f-f-fassst." Sob, sob, holds onto me.

"We had a wonderful Christmas, didn't we?"
"YES!" Agony in her voice. Big smile, wet cheeks, tight sqeeze.

So we spoke about picking the tree out, decorating it, and opening gifts.

"We need the tree down by Sunday, but until then, you get to decide. You let me know when you're done with Christmas. Until then, it's stays up." It's Caitrin's ninth Christmas. Nine Christmasses. That's all.

I kissed her on the forehead. She put both arms around my waist. We stood looking at the white lights and glass balls together. I'm glad it's still Christmas a little while longer

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Lost and Found (Faith in the bloggosphere)

So I'm trotting around reading other blogs... (late to the party but still wanting food...)

On one blog, a gal who I'll call Mary, made the comparison that just like rescue workers look for the lost characters on the TV show "Lost" (and those characters can't claim to have "found the rescue workers"), God finds us when we're lost. We don't find God. Mary challenged the notion that we find God.

The set of comments following this post said things like "I know I wasn't looking for God when God found me." Hmmm. We all nod. But has anyone unpacked what that means? Were you hanging out at a mall, shopping for lingerie when God popped into Victoria's Secret in human form and said, "Hey, it's me, God." You drop the black panties you were looking at and say, "Wow! Not what I was looking for..."

This kind of talk about God just mystifies me.

I would so much rather think about God in ways that don't reduce Ultimate Reality, Absolute Mystery to a character in a story about me.

Don't worry—Adam Clayton is all right

Apparently Adam Clayton (U2 bassist) was vacationing in Thailand when the tsunami hit and the world of U2 fandom understandably panicked. But he is okay. Tour is still on. (Tix on sale mid January; CD cover now profile artwork.)

Meanwhile the death toll in Asia is climbing toward 60,000.

I've already heard people credit God with their narrow escapes... I wish God had offered just a tad more warning to a much larger pool of people.

And I am sick of talk radio discussing the economic impact of this tragedy on Americans. Please. Someone, show some true sympathy for the victims.

I wish I lived in Indonesia so that I could hug people I loved and grieve with friends.

I wish I could hop a plane and hand out blankets and clean water.

I wish we could do more.

We can send money.

World Vision
Red Cross

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Role of Belief in Christian Faith

The conservatives I know make belief in orthodox tenets of faith an essential component of genuine commitment to Christ. Yet I've noticed in my life and other people's lives that beliefs fluctuate. You can't actually control what you believe. If I asked you to choose to believe in Santa Claus, you couldn't do it. You could pretend, but you couldn't conjure it up.

Yet is belief a required component of Christian faith in the 21st century? Should commitment to practice and living out the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth trump confession of specific, revelatory beliefs (with specific definitions)? Could confession of faith have to do with "life lived" - a practical confession, rather than a mental assent?

The focus on "belief" as a measure/yardstick of faith is the stumbling block for me. I don't see how we can require belief, cause belief, inspire belief or even "create a context of belonging so that belief grows within that context." (That's a paraphrase of what I read in a blog today.)

When I talk about being Christian, I am hoping that we have similar goals that cluster around the life and teachiings of Jesus of Nazareth. How someone explains the resurrection (symbolic, linguistic, literal, bodily, not-bodily but still real, mythological...) is a discussion that I don't see as relevant to living as Jesus did. It may be interesting. It may have an impact on how one relates to God. But is it a necessary passage through which one must go in order to "be in the club" called Christianity?

Do we limit, then, who can identify with the objectives of Jesus, with "kingdom living" or "the reign of God" when we make a set of beliefs with specific definitions a criteria for orthodox faith?

In other words, what do conservatives want to do with those who can't bring themselves to believe in the revelatory aspects of historic Christianity yet still find themselves attached and drawn to Jesus and the portrait of life he paints and the mission he calls us to?

I see a few options and wonder which of these any of you (who are more traditional in belief) might suggest:

1. A person who doesn't actually believe (as in, I just don't find belief in myself) *chooses* as an act of will to confess belief without the corresponding experience of believing in order to remain in the family of Christians.

2. A person who doesn't believe chooses not to admit that fact and participates in Christian community without violating/challenging the beliefs of the "believing ones" and without revealing that at core, she doesn't believe.

3. A person admits to not believing and therefore stops associating with Christians or Christianity and acknowledges that while she admires the teachings of Christ, she has disqualified herself from being a Christian and ought to move on to other things.

The fourth option is the one I'm exercising (which I'm getting the feeling is unacceptable to conservatives):

4. A person admits that she is limited in knowledge, can't conjure faith for whatever reasons (philosphical, theological, practical, scientific, historic, personal, emotional) and in "unbelief" continues to stay engaged in Christianity as an act of faith, in commitment to the values and mission of Christian living as expressed in the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

I've learned that I can't commit my life to beliefs because beliefs change. Information changes, modifies and impacts belief. To be committed to a set of beliefs means to filter all information through that grid and to resist the impact of new information. Iow, for me, it means to live in fear. I can commit my life to values and I can use my life for action. It's in this way that I see myself as wholly Christian.


Pushing Papers

I have paper aversion.

It's almost New Year's Day and I have these various forms to fill out... They call my name in the middle of insomniac nights, they peek out from the files on my desk, they crowd my consciousness when I'm trying to concentrate on reading...

Passport apps for six people—do you know what a nightmare this is for a chaotic random like me? I have to have photos of the right size and background, birth certificates for six (including one from the embassy since firstborn was born abroad), social security numbers, birth dates and places for my parents (like I remember), and I have to decide if two of my kids have red or auburn hair.... Then we have to truck down to the post office en masse during Jon's work hours to actually submit said forms. Performance anxiety!

Securities trust forms for my five kids who were given stock (woo-hoo!) in their names accidentally (booo...) which means that I must fill out five forms to put them in my name and get them signed with a Medallion Stamp (WTH is a Medallion Stamp, s'il vous don't mind?!?). That is why said forms have been left unattended in a hidden file since their arrival in my mailbox in September.

Medical bills that are supposed to be paid by insurance but that weren't which now require me to call a gazillion phone numbers while sitting on hold for a zillion minutes waiting for someone who doesn't speak English to come on the line to tell me that I am talking to the wrong person for this particular problem... And don't I have copies of my co-payments, Insurance card, old bills etc., etc.... Oh yeah, sure, right. Let me just dig through the tons of paper that bury this house and: Oh here it all is!

Uh yeah. That could happen.

Now if I could just push these papers over a cliff, maybe I'd get a decent night's sleep again.

Monday, December 27, 2004

My friends are safe

They checked in with the embassy in Malaysia and so we are relieved. Not that all's well where they are. But we are thankful for the good news.

Lighting candles and saying prayers

My friends are staying in Malaysia visiting family over Christmas. They had plans to go to the beach the day after Christmas... which happened to be the day of the earthquake. No one has heard from them since.

"We see the sea come forward," he said, describing how he ran and then swam from the 40-foot wave, grabbing onto catamarans for life support. "Everybody was running, but God saves little." (from the New York Times)

Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Big Wave

"To live in the presence of death makes us brave and strong," Kino's father replied. "That is why our people never fear death. We have seen it too often and we do not fear it. To die a little later or a little sooner does not matter. But to live bravely, to love life, to see how beautiful the trees and mountains, yes, and even the sea, to enjoy work because it produces food for life—in these things we Japanese are a fortunte people. We love life because we live in danger. We do not fear death because we understand that life and death are necessary to each other."

...The big wave and the sorrow it had brought had changed him forever. Never again would he laugh easily or talk carelessly. He had learned to live with his parents and his brother dead, as Kino's father had said he would, and he did not weep. He thought of them every day and did not feel they were far from him or he from them. Their faces, their voices, the way his father talked and looked, his mother's smile, his brother's laughter, all were with him still and would be forever... He valued deeply everything that was good. Since the big wave had been so cruel, he could not bear cruelty, and he grew into the kindest and most gentle man that Kino had ever seen. Jiya never spoke of his loneliness. He did not want anyone to be sad because of his sadness.

Seemed appropriate today.

The International Red Cross is raising funds to aid the victims.


Christmas in Asia (Why not me?)

If ever there were a time for a lament, it is now. How long must we sing this song?

Sri Lanka: 3,225 dead
Indonesia: 1,873 dead
India: 2,000 dead
Thailand: 257 dead
Malaysia: 28 dead
Maldives: 10 dead
Bangladesh: 2 dead

Source: Government officials

From the NYTimes:

Most Powerful Quake in 40 Years Triggers Death and Destruction

Published: December 26, 2004

The worst known death toll so far was in Sri Lanka, where a million people were displaced from wrecked villages. Some 20,000 soldiers were deployed in relief and rescue and to help police maintain law and order. Police chief, Chandra Fernando said at least 3,000 people were dead in areas under government control.

Thank You Note to Johannah

My favorite Christmas gift took me by surprise.

Most years, the kids go in on one present for me and one present for their dad. We parents shepherd them through the process to help them shop, spend our money and select a gift the other parent would want (the failed gift known as " magazine rack" will not be mentioned ever again on this website to protect the recipient as well as the giver). Two years ago, the older kids took over this job and now spend their own money and shop together. Love that! This year our kids gave me the book The Spiral Staircase by Karen Armstrong. Perfect gift.

But there was another gift under the tree for me. Johannah used her own money and her own time to pick out something she thought I'd like. In an American Eagle gift bag, gently wrapped were two treats for my often dried out hands (midwestern heaters do a number on my skin).

The first is sandalwood sugar scrub from the Bath and Body Shop:

She also gave me cucumber melon body wash:

The thing is, I got all smooshy and cried. I'm sure she doesn't know why.

But I do. The teen years are every bit as exciting and wonderful and terrible and scary as the toddler years, only these kids can date and drive.

Yesterday I knew deep down that we're cool with each other, that she and I have a bond. And it was just amazing to see the understanding of giving unfold in one of my children in that specific, generous way. Just like first steps.

It really is the thought that counts.

I love you, Johannah, and thank you for giving to me.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Snug and happy on Christmas

Merry Christmas to all our dear family and friends.

Deep in snow (it looks like Aspen around here), all electrical outlets still conducting electricity for the essentials (TVs, DVD players, X Box and Computers), cinnamon rolls and coffee on the table and everyone lounging in pj's, we are feeling very Christmas-y.

I like this definition of Christmas (from friend and pomoxian Dave Blakeslee) and thought I'd share it here:

Christmas at its best is about patient waiting drawing to a close, hope finding its fulfillment, with the promise of even better things to come gaining credibility because we've seen with our eyes and heard with our ears the manifestation of God's presence among us.

Backslider Misses Christmas Eve Service

Engrossed in her selfish life, mother of five spends the day shopping for food for her over-fed family of seven, battling the last-minute, pagan shoppers at the local Meijer's. She actually spends time wondering if her excessively indulged children have enough gifts under the tree so that they won't feel jilted this year, even though Italy looms in the near future as their real gift (an extravagant middle class vacation, not exactly a missions trip).

Yet in the back of her mind, knowing that she would give donuts to the poor (fire fighters) after singing the spirit-of-Christmas hymn "Silent Night," while holding a white lit candle circled by a paper doilie (along with 800 conscientious Christmas participants) gave her the sense that she was not a complete fraud, succumbing to the pressures of a secular, gifted Christmas.

Alas, this year, the real Christians pulled a fast one and changed the service time from 6:00 to 4:00 p.m. catching hypocrite, once-a-year attendees in their shallow Christmas spirit. We are already one hour too late.

I am she. I am a Christmas fraud.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Eight cardinals today!

That's right: three bright red males and five females.

And like kids, they would NOT sit still for a photo so I have no proof. And if you know birders, it's all about proof, baby. Very competitive lot, those tight-lipped, binocular-toting, keen-eyed birders.

But I know in my heart, I saw them. (ha HA to all the neighbors who lost their wintering pairs... wicked cackle, muahahahahahaha....)

Cue camera. Set, Action!

The two middle aged lovers tramp through the snow, shoveling the drive, laughing in the glinting sunlight that plays upon the sparkling crust. Then one of them eyes the camera, shows a mischevious look and slowly forms a large snowball. Cut to the snowball flying through the air and smacking her lover square in the back. Startled, he stands up, turns and the next snowball pelts him in his manly chest.

She ducks under a bare bush, coyly pretending to hide from his fury, knowing of course that he is likely to return the snowballing favor when, "whomp!" Snowball smacks her on the tush.

She laughs uproariously and prances across the smooth surface... the fight begins. Snowballs fly, feet stomp through the snow, awkward limbs drag overly-clothed bodies toward each other in a dance-like movement. Cue slow motion and romantic music.

He throws; she ducks. She giggles. She throws. He takes one in the chops and mocks anger.

He charges, she darts but gets her foot stuck as it plunges through the crust.

He catches her by the wrist, pulls her toward him, plants a wet kiss on her mouth... and shoves a large snowball down the back of her jacket.


Wouldn't that have been nice?

No, instead this middle-aged couple stomped through what seemed like thirty feet of snow on a never-ending sloping drive contemplating how to shovel it without a snowblower. I began digging us out when Jon decided to ask the neighbor for his snowblower. Think Mike Mulligan and the steam shovel competition. (I did lose, drats.)

We shoveled and blew snow for nearly two hours until the daylight completely vanished and we still had snow left to shovel. Highlights included a shower of snow dumped on my head by my mischevious middle kids who pushed flakes off the little roof outside my bedroom window. Ha ha. I did get them back when I innocently asked them to come to the door. Ha HA!

I actually thought about how nice snow is, how great it was to be out of doors, how gorgeous the sunset is after a storm (brushed magenta across the sky with the bare-branches of trees against it) and what fun it is to be living in the midwest...

That is until two hours had passed and I was aching, in pain, tired and couldn't lift one more huge shovel full of the white stuff.

I entered the house hungry and tired and burst into tears. Is this what happens to people who run marathons? I think so. And I think this is why I don't run them.

But I do like snow... just don't really care much for shovels.

P.S. I should mention that I did manage to get that nice kiss out of my manly man in spite of not having a snowball fight.

Snowed under

I didn't even know they had third degree emergency warnings for snow. I mean, I'm well familiar with smog alerts of the 15th degree, being a veteran San Fernando Valley, Californian and all. But snow? They give tickets for driving (or if the police smile and let you by, they write really nasty notes and stick them under your windshield wipers if you happen to "slide" off the road...) And then they fine you the big bucks.

So we aren't allowed to drive. Ha! Fat chance. Can't get out of the driveway. We've got at least 20 inches with a nice crisp crust that poor Rocky falls through each time he tries to chase a bird or pee. Noah's car (which is really his dad's old car) is wedged under a drift that rides all the way up the front tires.

We watched a car try to back its way up the hill since it had rear-wheel drive. A poor younger fellow was conscripted to dig out the tires the whole way while the driving dude kept gunning it to the floor (and only moving inches at a time). Said conscripted fellow had to jog and sink, jog and sink to keep up with the squealing, spinning tires in motion.

We still owe Jacob twenty bucks for all the shovelling he did last night (for which all evidence is gone).

I love snow.

P.S. The birds are so happy. No squirrels! We had a total of six finches on the feeders (three gold in olive winter drab and three house - two red-breasts).

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Kids as of Thanksgiving

Noah serving Mochaccinos:

Johannah's iPod ad:

Jacob wins:

Liam in the sunset:

Caitrin battles the cold:

Our California Fashion Model Photographer Friend

The poinsettia tree comes from our botanical gardens and the photographer in the photo is our very chic very swanky friend, Patricio. (He spent Thansgiving away from trend-setting southern Cal to experience the heartland with us.)

Still shaking...

My two brave kids wanted to sled on a big hill near the house because we got a blizzard today. We hopped in the van and snuck into the crawling line of traffic and headlamps where no snow-dozers or salt trucks have been. (Apparently salt trucks did not make the budget this year.)

As I snaked my way onto the correct road, I suddenly realized what an incredible idiot I am! A deep valley before a susequent mountain (in Cincinnati, anything taller than a two story house is Mt. Everest) dropped beneath me and rose beyond me. I watched a small white sedan skid down the far slope sliding side to side to get traction.

My stomach rolled and my ears rang.

So super-driver that I am, I jammed my foot on the brakes (Jon I know, I know... never slam on brakes; I need genetic reprogramming)... and instead started sliding. That "no-traction" squooshy feeling is worse than the first drop on Son of the Beast at King's Island. I gripped the steering wheel tighter because usually when the brakes don't work, my grip is powerful in its own universe (as in creating an aura of "halt"... Ohmmmm).

Must have worked. We stopped - thanks and praise to the Non-Material Layer!

My scalp is still tingling. My arms are numb. Poised at the top of a steep hill, I had to decide how to get the H-E-double toothpicks out of there without sacrificing my children and van to the snow gods.

We maneuvered to the left into the oncoming traffic lane trusting to our size as a deterrent to any other cars wanting a piece of us.

I successfully pulled the maroon boat around with minimal slippage and we inched home, shaking, swearing never to leave home again when it's snowing.

The kids decided to brave the hike to the "big hill" without the aid of a van-come-sled. Their noses were rosy. :)

On the bright side of snow, three female cardnials and one male are hanging out at the bird feeder today as are finches in winter drab, titmice and lots of sparrows. I love birds in the snow.

Pulse... 79. Much better.

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Christmas Letter

After an average year of soccer where two of our kids each scored a goal and neither team won any regional tournaments, our youngest decided to study ballet and chose not to be in the Nutcracker, quote: I don't like to perform.

Our older kids both took a full load of courses at the public school for the first time... and then promptly dropped either one or all their courses because they didn't feel like working that hard. No one is getting straight As (caveat: though Johannah is carrying her heaviest load as a homeschooler yet and no thanks to me, is great at algebra!) and all of them enjoy hours online reading Live Journals or playing games like Solitaire, or X Box Live (Halo 2 rocks, apparently).

Husband spends time bonding with the boys by wielding his own controller and shouting edifying-to-their-relationship comments like: "Hey, you said you wouldn't snipe me! Get out of my face!" and stuff like that. The boys laugh their heads off as they crowd for the kill.

We have not taken any trips abroad, nor have we added on to our house, no one won the lottery and we haven't earned many miles on our American Express Cards.

However our votes counted in the recent election, and I'll bet you can't say that. We're in Ohio. (Lawyer's footnote: these votes are subject to change pursuant to the wide-spread voter fraud being ferreted out by crack reporters and third party, sour grapes candidates...)

And we did get a new dog, well, not new exactly and not a pure bred dog either but he is a real dog and it only took one failed attempt with pet rescue to get him... we aren't bad pet owners really and that site that shows a white bunny shivering in the neighbor's backyard under a woodpile is not *our* bunny, well at least, we don't think so.... because we think our bunny is dead.

For those who must know the "achievements," they follow:

Noah (17) - works at B&N in Starbucks division, plays RPGs with friends and has successfully grown his hair to mid-back length. Also is cast as Orlando in Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival's high school production of "As You Like It."

Johannah (15) - competed with Lakota West number one color guard, goes to clubs to watch her favorite bands, hangs with friends and reads lots of books/online journals.

Jacob (13) - sells cookies and used the money to go to Space Camp, sells more cookies for future house/villa in Santa Barbara where we will retire in his back nine, knows all things LOTR and is 13 - his social life just ramped up by a ratio of one thousand.

Liam (10) - X Box expert, WarCraft afficianado, LaCrosse and basketball playin' fool! We're reading Harry Potter aloud together and he helps me count birds for the Project Feeder Watch.

Caitrin (8) - dancing and singing foo'. She's a ballerina, a soccer player, a best friend to Sarah, can thread a needle and sew a button, READS!, and creates objets d'art with materials found in our own home.

Jon - works at Setting Pace, is a new X Box gamer, also gorgeous hunk after Atkins, twenty year partner who still thinks I'm hot. Need I say more?

Julie - grad school in theology, business that is growing, homeschool that is an ever-shifting shape, and finally a system to get housework done. I know - housework systems are a tad overdue, but c'est la vie of a mother of five (who are always home, constantly at home, never away from home...)

We're happy. How are you?

Merry Christmas to all of you!


Sunday, December 19, 2004

The upside-down squirrel

I have this nemesis who hangs upside down on my bird feeder. You see, I watch birds, not squirrels. But most days, I end up throwing ice cubes at the squirrels instead. One of them is particularly impervious to my threatening glower. Come to think of it, so are most of my kids.

Today we had snow in the early morning so the birds came out once the sun broke through. The squirrels had competition and the birds were so hungry that they wouldn't take the ornery bushy tail-shaking "none for you" for an answer. The red breasted house finches alighted on the perches and my most ornery squirrel sat on the branch above waiting his turn. Now that is something to write home about. :)

Just finished my Christmas shopping. So nice to know that everything is done. Now it's time to enjoy sitting at the computer working my tail off before New Year hits, er, I mean, it's time to look at tree lights and sing carols and decorate gingerbread men. We'll see which part of me wins.

It's me!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Theology for humans

When it gets right down to it, what matters most is people. We use all kinds of tools to prod them and fix them and catalyze them into action. We guilt them, manipulate them, love them, make fun of them and coddle them. We give them big ideas to work on, goals to achieve, rules to follow, important things to do, entertainment to passify or enrich them...

And we study people. We've examined them the way modernists do, inside and out, probing all the openings, all the way into the unconscious. Think about that! We mess with the part of a person that she can't even control.

Tonight as we drove home from the play "Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol," I wondered what it would be to study theology not in order to get more clarity about God, but to find a way to aid humans in being exactly what they are - oh so very human. What if doctrine and theology weren't centered on how to make better people, more saintly people, but instead, took human beings into account. What if theology forgave people for being so human, so messed up and inconsistent and limited in knowledge and ability?

I started imagining exploring what it would look like for the work of theology to focus on humans from below (not just God from below). Can we permit people to change midstream, to course correct their thinking, practices, ideas, amibitions and yes, even their beliefs? What if we stopped using Bible characters as apologetics for saints (and all the excuses we have to make for those characters in order to help them achieve sainthood status) and instead just listed all the ways they were humans... who didn't get thrown under the bus in the end after all?

I'm interested in a theological practice that allows people to make use of their doubts. I would love to be in a church where the pastor asked the congregation on a Sunday morning: "How many of you stopped believing in God this week?" and that question wasn't merely rhetorical. Or what if he/she said, "Today is for the lamenters. If you are raging against the injustice in our world, we're going to engage in a group lament. Ready, start screaming."

Wouldn't that be wild?

And what would happen (would the ground really open and swallow us whole?) if we changed our minds every week. What if one week we believed God was divinely intervening and another were certain the whole idea was made up to keep us in check when our parents weren't watching?

Where is the creativity in religious expression (I don't mean new dances or liturgical tricks)? I mean, really new openness to humans as human beings?

A friend had this to say to me today and it moved me:

I see here 'a theology of paradox' in your pointers for reconstruction. A theology that sings and laments, a theology that is full of mystery and must be explained to some degree, a theology that is a shadow of reality that is often unseen. In other words, 'an apophatic, kataphatic, doxological, analogical, theology of lament.' The only thing I would add is a theology that is stripped and naked hung up for the whole world to see. In other words, a theology of cruxis as Luther says...

In addition to cruxis (whatever that is that I don't yet know), I'd add a theology of bare naked honesty (you know, the kind of honesty that embarrasses, makes you avert your eyes, that stops you short). If we don't start from the ground of being called honesty, there is no God in the house.