Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I've moved!!

No, not to San Francisco ;) Not yet anyway!

I've moved from Blogger over to Wordpress. I like the features and templates a bit better. Make sure to change your RSS feeds if you use a blog reader.

Here's the new address:

And don't forget about our other blogs:


Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I've been discovering the joy of contentment lately...and it's not like my life is full of sunshine and roses right now, either. I've been processing a lot spiritually and mentally, on top of preparing for some huge life change (the big move).

Content with less
The biggest thing that I've noticed is that I don't feel the same need to have new things that I used to. I still like shopping (especially for yarn and other craft stuff) but because we've been watching our pennies a bit more closely, I've realized that I don't really need much. I probably have a year's worth of yarn at least if I just put my mind to actually using it. And when I do decide to spend a little money on something, it is more often than not something I will use and enjoy, rather than a frivolous purchase.

Since I'm spending less, the desire to actually buy new things has been quelled a bit. I've been finding myself re-purposing items, finding new ways to use old things, and realizing how little I really need even of the things I have.

As I've been sorting out our belongings into what we really want to keep and what we don't need, it's been a joy to give things away to people who will use them and enjoy them more than I will, or use them for a better purpose (like sewing supplies to a woman who teaches kids to sew, or kitchen items to my sister who runs a house for international students).

The goal with our move is to end up with less stuff than we have right now so we don't move crap we'll never use or don't need. And in the process, I've found that there is peace is minimizing and getting rid of the distractions that clutter not only physical space, but mental space as well.

I don't have the same desire to bigger and better things. With a 425 square foot apartment, I do hope that we'll have a slightly larger place considering our menagerie of musical equipment (electric piano and music production equipment) that takes up space, but I don't have a desire for a huge house or anything. Just something that suits our needs and allows us to offer hospitality to the hundreds of people who want to come visit us! LOL

Content with unrest

A lot has been going on. This is a huge move for me, considering I've never moved further than 5 miles from my childhood home. It's the first time I'm moving out of my beautiful hometown in the nearly 24 years I've lived here. It's a bit scary. It's caused tension and lots of unrest.

There are things in our lives that aren't perfect and never will be. There are issues coming to the surface, and there are difficulties to work through. There are things that have to be put on the backburner. But despite the impending changes, and the desires to work towards other changes (like getting more toned and less flabby), I feel content about where we're at. It doesn't need to be perfect. There is joy in the journey and I know that God has us close to Him.

This honestly really surprises me because I can be such a perfectionist and such a stress-case. And while I still am at times, something has shifted in my spirit to where I recognize that I am right where God wants me, in my imperfection, and He will bring it all to good. I just need to look at what He's doing and step into the center of His will for me. He knows what I need and when. He knows when I'll be ready for the next thing He's got going on.

And I am finding that there is contentment in just holding His hand as He makes sense of all the craziness.

Friday, June 15, 2007

July Synchroblogs

I'm not participating again this go around, but here are the people who are!

Mike Bursell muses about Untouchables
David Fisher on Touching the Pharisees - My Untouchable People Group
Adam Gonnerman with Quickened Pen
Michael Bennet writes Nothing more than the crust life
Jeremiah at Models of church leadership and decision-making as
they apply to outreach

John Smulo talks about Christian Untouchables
Sally Coleman shares on The Untouchables
Sam Norton talks about Untouchables
Steve Hayes on Dalits and Hindutva
Sonja Andrews visits the subject here
Fernando A. Gros speaks up on Untouchability And Globalisation
Phil Wyman throws out the Loose Lips - A "SinkroBlog"
Josh Rivera does his stuff with the Untouchables

Friday, May 18, 2007

I am a blog addict!

Yup, I have created another blog on top of the two I update regularly.

I designed it to keep family and friends updated on what's up as Nathan and I get ready and move to San Francisco. I'm gonna start by giving info on our preparations (apartment hunting, visiting the schools and whatnot) and then what comes up after we move. Hopefully both of us will update it, depending on what's going on.

(I also have an option for people who want to get the info via email if that's easier for ya.)

I will still be regularly updating this blog and "Work in Progress" through the summer, and hopefully beyond since these are more personal ones.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Counter-Hegemony: Borat Meets Jesus

SynchroBlog May 2007: Christianity & Film

I'm coming up on finals week, so I don't have time to write an original post, but a recent paper I wrote for my Sociology class dovetails nicely with the theme this month. I've been considering posting it anyway, so I guess it was meant to be!

There is one particular scene that this post is mainly referring to, which you can see here (it's about 4 minutes long and this clip is PG): Jesus Saves Borat

The fictional character Borat, particularly as played by Sacha Baron Cohen in the movie ”Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”, has generated both controversy and laughter since he first started gaining widespread popularity before the movie’s release in 2006. Some people love Borat and appreciate how the movie pushed the boundaries of what is culturally appropriate in America under the guise of Borat - a foreigner who is unabashedly open about his personal, political, and culturally-influenced thoughts and ignorant of the cultural norms and “politically correct” way to express oneself in our culture. Others however have been offended by what was interpreted by them as outright bigotry, prejudice, misogyny, deception and/or exploitation, or the glorification of such behavior.

While I personally thought the movie was hilarious overall, when it came to the church scene where Borat becomes “born-again” and starts speaking in tongues, I could not help but feel offended because of my own faith, my spiritual foundation within conservative Christian beliefs (and the conservative Christian culture in which I grew up), and the church community I currently am a part of which is part of a charismatic denomination. I've known some who have been offended by the movie on a personal level based on their faith (both Christian and Jewish), but also many who found it enjoyable in its humor as I do.

Borat, the character, is everything opposite of the “approved” cultural values and norms within our society. He is politically incorrect in his words and actions, he is racist, views women objectively, has no manners (according to American standards), and shows open disdain for his wife and family – but he doesn't violate our cultural norms intentionally. In this way, he is a symbol of counter-hegemony within our society in his total openness and transparency. But is the movie progressive in its treatment of Christianity and Pentecostalism?

Many Pentecostal and charismatic churches are made fun of and derided for their physical actions: raising hands, jumping up and down, running through the aisles, being “slain in the spirit” (a spiritual phenomena that occurs when a person is so overcome by the Holy Spirit that they cannot function – often encouraged, sometimes forced, by a spiritual leader who prays over someone while touching their forehead, shoulder, or chest – that is depicted in the movie), and being vocal in their praise; all actions that the church scene in Borat highlights. Within highly Pentecostal circles, the body is used to express spirituality in a way that is outside the mainstream. On the other hand, mainstream Christianity (the hymn-singing, don't dance in the aisles variety) is typically given more respect than Pentecostal Christianity and highly respected, upper-crust members of society would more likely be seen in a mainstream church than a Pentecostal one.

The fact that the makers of Borat chose a Pentecostal revival meeting goes along with many of the themes in the movie that correspond to the body: an extended scene where Borat and Azamat chase each other around a hotel naked, multiple scenes where Borat openly ogles, propositions, or makes derogatory comments towards women, awkward situations with feces, etc. Much, if not all of the humor in Borat is related to the “lower” parts of body in some way or another, including the revival meeting. Borat utilizes crass, gross, and bodily humor to not only provoke laughter, but draw attention to the subjects that are taboo in our culture at large, as well as taboo within the specific sub-cultures in America where the character Borat finds himself throughout his journey.

However, is Borat progressive in its counter-hegemony within the context of the church revival scene? I believe it is, even within the sub-cultures of Christianity and Pentecostalism. Christians, particularly conservative ones, have a tendency to take themselves too seriously (I know because I have and still sometimes do). I consider myself a devout Christian, but it's my personal opinion that humor that mocks aspects of Christianity can be educational because it forces us to look at some of the apparently “weird” things we might believe, say or do and consider “why?” It also gives us insight as to how others view Christianity and how some people can feel very alienated if they're not familiar with the norms and values of Christian culture.

Additionally, it points out the faults of some within Christianity. As viewers, we all know that Borat isn't really speaking in tongues as the preacher prays over him. It begs the question of whether everyone else is just making it up as well. Is it necessary or beneficial in that context, or alienating? Is there a way to be true to our beliefs and values while relating to American culture? If Christians as a group would be more open to laughing at themselves and learning from what culture is telling us, we might actually find that there is something to learn, get off our high horses, and laugh at ourselves.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

May 16th Synchroblog: Christianity & Film

It's that time! And this month I'll be participating again :-)

Below are the contributors. Posts will up at each blog at some point Tuesday evening through Wednesday (I'll probably be posting mine around 5pm PST so I don't forget to put it up tonight).

May Synchrobloggers:

Steve Hayes ponders The Image of Christianity in Films
Adam Gonnerman pokes at The Spider's Pardon
David Fisher thinks that Jesus Loves Sci-Fi
John Morehead considers Christians and Horror Redux: From Knee- Jerk Revulsion to Critical Engagement
Marieke Schwartz lights it up with Counter-hegemony: Jesus loves Borat
Mike Bursell muses about Christianity at the Movies
Jenelle D'Alessandro tells us Why Bjork Will Never Act Again
Cobus van Wyngaard contemplates Theology and Film (as art)
Tim Abbott tells us to Bring your own meaning...?
Sonja Andrews visits The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Christ in Spaghetti Westerns
Steve Hollinghurst takes a stab at The Gospel According to Buffy
Les Chatwin insists We Don't Need Another Hero
Lance Cummings says The Wooden Wheel Keeps Turning
John Smulo weaves a tale about Spiderman 3 and the Shadow
Josh Rivera at The Rivera Blog
Phil Wyman throws out the Frisbee: Time to Toss it Back
Sally Coleman is Making Connections- films as a part of a mythological tradition

Monday, April 30, 2007

Free Hugs

I am constantly amazed at where God has taken me the last few months. Never would I have thought I'd end up in the County Psychological Health Department, but that's where I've found myself the last couple days, visiting my friend who ended up there due to a mess of circumstances (no, she's not crazy). Her experience has taught her some tough lessons, and it's opened my eyes as well.

It was interesting to find myself in a place that holds the people that society so often forgets about. The budget they have is minuscule - who thinks of giving resources to the Psych Dept? I didn't even know where the place was, much less what it looked like or what resources they have. And who is going to support these people who are in desperate need of healing?

A thing as simple as as flowers, or fresh underwear can bring joy and the touch of cheer that someone needs in their process of healing. Heck, just having someone visit is a big deal! A lot of the people there are on the fringes of society already - criminals, those with spiritual and mental illnesses, outcasts, people who may have little hope.

Sometimes the little things can mean so much to a person - more than you may ever realize.

Nathan and I have a very tight budget, especially as we're preparing for our move. It's scary to have to rely on God to provide on a month-to-month basis....and our incomes are pretty stable at this point. But I've been reminded lately that I need to be sure I'm not so scared for my well-being that I don't give to those around me, both in time and in resources. I know that as I give of myself to those who need a touch of God in their lives, God will provide the emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, and financial strength I need to keep going.

It's in those moments of giving of ourselves that we really connect with God and find ourselves right where God wants us - reflecting His image.

Along this vein, I was downtown with my mom and sisters yesterday and we walked by a man holding a sign that read "FREE HUGS". I didn't take him up on his offer, but I did give him a thumbs up. Then I came across this video, posted on another blog. Go to the Free Hugs Campaign website and read the story behind this movement. This video moved me to tears - if a simple hug can change a person's day, imagine what we as followers of Christ can do to encourage people! We carry a hope that goes beyond the world we see in front of us.