Tuesday, November 27, 2007

my monsters

My current obsession with making things from old, felted sweaters continues.  Tonight, these monsters told me they wanted to come out of some sleeves.  (Is making a monster out of a sleeve like having a trick up one?)

Oh, the fun.  It's like a creative wonderland in my living room.  These guys are just the tip of the iceberg (if an iceberg would last long in front of our cozy pellet stove).

Anyhow, the three of us send happy greetings from City Heights.

[Though it's a lovely time of year from gardening in San Diego, our garden is sort-of on hold.  The nice folks at City Farmers Nursery told us that the reason we're feeling frustrated with the growth of vegetables out there is that there are, like, no nutrients in our soil.  We have our list of happy organic amendments to add, but 'til we get our act together to do that, we're just grateful for the one chard plant growing, alongside two scraggly broccoli plants, and some garlic that's sprouted.  I hope the garden isn't jealous that my attention is turned toward felt.]

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

the dangers of corn

While I've been concerned for a while about the state of our food and farm economy, and particularly troubled about the way our system encourages over-raising of corn, which provides an excess of useable grain, requires intensive chemical inputs, feeds the coffers of agri-business as the expense of small growers, destroys the fertility of our land, and does all of this by using government subsidies, today the dangers of corn seem to have come to new immediacy.

Apparently, an Iowa family has been injured and lost their home in an avalanche of corn, from a nearby storage bin.  Mounds of corn are dangerous is so many ways.

For more on mounds of corn, check out the new documentary, King Corn (see below). 

Saturday, November 17, 2007

messes and cleaning up

I decided it was finally time to try roasting the big, orange pumpkin that has been so much fun in my yard and on my step.  But when I cut into it, I found lots of sprouts!
I'm not sure whether sprouted pumpkin seeds mean problems for pumpkins or not, but this pumpkin didn't smell anything like I think pumpkins should smell.  (Not awful, or rotten--just sort of earthy and sprout-like...)  Ultimately, I decided that one of the butternut squashes from my garden would rather be roasted and made into soup.

And, while I wasn't scooping pumpkin bits into and out of the sink, I thought it'd be fun to try making soap.  Here's one of my first two batches: a honey-oat soap.

Unfortunately for me, I have to wait three more weeks to try it out and see if it's yummy to use.  Ah, the challenges of life.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

buying less, doing more good

I'm feeling called to use this year's Advent season as a time to challenge consumerism.

Not just to be a grinch, but because we need to remember that things are and are not good for: when they add beauty to the world, sustain life and build what I'd call God's kin-dom, things can be very good. More often, though, they distract me.

So, this year, I'm gonna try to give better gifts. I love to make things, so that's going up at the top of my list: things I can enjoy creating that others will find useful. (Using recycled materials would be even better, though I also have no problem with simply using up the containers of materials I've been accumulating and storing away...) I'm also keen on thinking of gifts that might help build relationships with other people--finding ways to give the gift of time together, and good things to do in that time. And, of course, giving "alternative Christmas" gifts--donations to worthy causes--in honor of people.

I think it's gonna be fun.

Wanna join me?

I was delighted by the Advent Conspiracy website (thanks for the tip-off, Er). I can jump on that bandwagon. Or, better, find my own solar- or human-energy powered vehicle to ride along that route. ;)

Buy less. Worship more. Give more. All that.

snail mail gone awry

This postcard arrived in our mailbox yesterday. I'm baffled.

Westport, Connecticut is a long ways from San Diego, California.

CA and CT are only one letter apart, but otherwise... Our street address has 4 digits. One is a zero, but that's hardly a similarity. We live on a numbered Street. Not a named Road.

How this reached our box is beyond me. We decided it deserved an envelope and a new shot at making its destination. I mean, someone's waiting for their postcard from Botswana!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

everything is connected

Somehow, everything is connected. My thoughts haven't all connected yet, today. See if you can follow a trail through this.


First, I've been pondering a video I watched from leaders at Willow Creek Church. I often resent Willow Creek things, as I grow tired of hearing how we United Methodists can beat ourselves up because we're not like them. (As in, not drawing huge crowds. Not growing.) On bad days, I feel like we're about 15 years behind them--just now telling ourselves what we should do now that they tried back then.

So, I'm intrigued by these new questions they're raising today--about rethinking how we do church. They define the mission of their church much like the UMC's official mission: making disciples of Christ. They further definite that as helping people grow in love of God and in love of other people. (A pretty darn decent definition.) Their new realization is that all the programs of the church (worship, small groups, classes, caring programs, service opportunities) don't really help people grow in love of God and love of other people. In fact, the people who define their love of God and others as most central to their lives are least satisfied with church programs.

They're challenging us to definite discipleship as more than showing up at church. And our "job" as churches as more that putting splendid programs together.

Diana Butler Bass, whose work on the practices of our faith I've admired for quite a while, commented on this in a blog entry at Sojourners.

On good days, I'm aware that many of our old, tired "mainline" churches are still doing some of these things that really matter: allowing people to participate in growing a deep faith that will sustain and nourish them as their faith deepens. I hope we can hang on to that. Or find it anew. Maybe we can use it in partnership (even) with the Willow Creeks of the world.


As a pastor, I feel really lucky to get to share moments of stirring honesty, reflection and hopefulness as I talk with folks willing to share their spiritual journeys with me. This week, I got to spend time with someone whose life and work I admire a whole lot--someone who really gets the "love God and love neighbor" thing. She's especially good at loving neighbors who are poor, and at choosing to offer herself to those who have suffered injustice.

She does this, though, separate from church. She's seen how churches can be. Her love of God, though, will not let her go, nor will her ever-growing love of neighbors.

And then I see people in my church--people who come regularly, and even have leadership. My heart breaks when I see them fall far short of the vision of divine love that's possible, and not even seem aware that they're missing out on anything.

I know, it's dangerous to judge. But this week, set next to these ideas from Willow Creek, I'm wondering how we fall so short in really giving the people who come to church a vision for the Kin-dom of God.

(I hear the words of one of our faculty members at the Youth Theology Institute back when I WAS a youth: "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald's makes you a hamburger." And I want to figure out how to help.)


Though I've never bought hamburger at the carniceria on the corner, I love their cow logo. It's detailed enough to feel elegant, and yet SO SIMPLE. It gives me pleasure as I turn onto my street.

Just below it, though, is a "Water Center." Nowhere do I see as many "water centers" and water stores as in my poor neighborhood. It feels vaguely dirty to me that people are capitalizing on insecurities of water safety, in a neighborhood where so many immigrants come from places where there really is not safe drinking water in the tap or the well.
I want to live in a country where we know there is and will always be safe drinking water, readily available in taps in our homes and in drinking fountains on our streets and in our parks. I'm tired of the bottled water market telling us we need to buy plastic bottles of water. Too much plastic (and too much oil). To much transportation waste.

So I make a point of drinking from glasses filled straight from my tap, in my big kitchen window on the street. A witness for our water supply. And a prayer that we will invest in our increasingly dilapidated water system. Everyone should have access to safe drinking water.