Prior to this academic year, I thought that there were certain criteria for being a Room Mom. Specifically, that you needed to be blonde, not tall, have had a previous career in JV cheerleading, be “good at” Pintrest, have the organizational skills of a C.E.O, and perhaps have married someone who enjoys shopping at Michael’s Craft Store on the weekends. Retrospectively, I have to admit that I’m not sure this is a real person.
So you can imagine my surprise when an email with the subject line “Introduction to Room Mom Responsibilities” landed in my inbox. After all, I am brunette,…
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Follow, poet, follow right
To the bottom of the night,
With your unconstraining voice
Still persuade us to rejoice;
With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;
In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.
Wow, strap in—this is a heavy one. Last week, an article in The New York Times provided some insight into the life and times of Paula Cooper, with whom journalist Amy Linn had made personal contact last spring.
When she was fifteen, allegedly drunk and high, Paula robbed 78-year-old Ruth Pelke and stabbed her 33 times with a foot-long butcher knife before ransacking the old woman’s house and taking out her ’76 Plymouth for an afternoon joyride with schoolmates and snack cakes. That was thirty years ago, 1985.
Of the four girls present and involved in the brutal murder, Paula was the only one to receive an electric-chair…
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From the Lutheran theologian Robert Jenson in his short book entitled Story and Promise:
Jesus took away from his hearers the possibility of neutralizing God’s futurity, of mitigating its threat and challenge by cutting out a time of their autonomous own in which to plan and prepare for it, and getting it—even a little bit—into present control. He asserted God’s future as uncontrollable and free—as God’s and so as true future….
That is, Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom unconditionally; he left no time to fulfill “if…” clauses. This is what got him into trouble, for it made his message socially and religiously revolutionary. If there are no conditions to be fulfilled for participation in humanity’s fulfillment, then in the end the righteous man has no advantage over the sinner, the respected man no advantage over the proletarian, the believer no advantage over the unbeliever….
Jesus did not merely proclaim to the poor, the publicans, and the sinners that in God’s future they would be new men, he treated them then and there as the new men they would be. His message had nothing in it of ‘pie in the sky by and by.’ This is the point of one of the most pervasive recollections about Jesus’ actions: that he ‘ate with publicans and sinners.’ In all cultures, eating together is an expression of fellowship; in oriental cultures, it creates permanent brotherhood; and in Israel, because of the table prayers, it creates brotherhood before God. Jesus’ chosen brothers before God were the outsiders.
We regulate our relations with our fellows by what they have been; if a teenager is hooked on dope, we do not encourage our children to make him a friend. Jesus did the opposite: he brought his fellows into his life not in terms of what they had been, but of what they would be. And not in terms of what it could be predicted they would be, on the basis of a ‘little bit of good in everyone’ or of what he planned to reform them to, but in terms of what they could be only by God’s miracle. He enacted God’s future as his brothers’ own present.
We have Connor Gwin to thank for the following reflection.
There is something happening in America. The pace of life has increased to an almost breakneck speed. New technology allows people to be working all the time – pardon me as I check my Apple Watch – while new social media networks allow people to connect in more ways to those around them.
Newspapers are filled with stories of death, dismemberment, suicide, and record profits for major corporations. Amazon is running modern-day sweat shops in the heartland of America, just so I can have that new book on my doorstep in two…
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I’ve always had respect for the players and coaches in any sport who use the first person plural when they’re interviewed after a win, and the first person singular when things went poorly for them or their team after a loss. Derek Jeter was like that, so were Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw and Buc’s Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy. That vantage point is counter-intuitive. To sit at your locker in front of a reporter after a loss and continually answer every question with “I…..” after a loss, but “We…..” after a win, is a discipline that very few in…
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This morning’s devotion comes to us from Bonnie Poon Zahl.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me…(John 15:1-5, ESV)
When we think of being “pruned” by God, it’s easy to think of minor cuttings, small challenges that do us good, but perhaps harder to think of the severe changes that might drastically affect our lives in too painful a way.
To the gardener, however, pruning a plant looks like cutting off living branches—taking significant lengths off of a perfectly healthy branch to encourage new growth. This is true of what Jesus is saying, too: being pruned oftentimes feels very painful, as if some large part of you that was once deeply connected to life has been severed. It can feel as though one’s wounds have been left raw to face the elements. It can feel like God has deliberately disconnected Himself, and one’s protests are met only with silence.
We can take heart from Christ’s words: God prunes every branch that doesn’t bear fruit, so that it will be even more fruitful. Every saint who has been “fruitful” has dealt with the emotional loss of having been pruned. The Gardener is lovingly ruthless. He severs parts of our connection to the vine—even connections that do not appear in need of pruning—so that we can bear more. Because He abides in us and we in Him, we can be certain that even the most painful pruning experiences are for the sake of His great love.
1. This week, The NY Times made the astute observation that the new buzzword, “moment,” reflects something significant about the human condition. You need only glance at headlines to see how the word is being used—as far as media coverage goes, a “moment” is usually something trending, anything that garners fifteen minutes of fame. It could be a celebrity or a musical group; there are election moments and hurricane moments and Kanye moments. The article explains:
No nexus of events is too large or heterogeneous — no geopolitical weather too swirlingly turbulent — to avoid being reduced to the…
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