Saturday, October 24, 2009


Blogging to you live from CCDA.

John Perkins is teaching about 1st John 4 and stopped to get on his "hobby horse" about prosperity gospel. He said, "If you send me five dollar, the only thing I can promise you . . . is that I will have five dollar."

Dad and I have loved the preaching of John Perkins this week because he is an 79 year old man who wrenches every bit of meaning and color from this language that we all speak. He'll go into a piece of text and say, "Listen at this," and say some of the most brilliant things, followed with a joke about his wife of 58 years with an impish grin in his eyes. He nearly bounces as he talks. It is a joy.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Blogging live from CCDA.

Yesterday was a big day. By about 6:00, I was exhausted and it was difficult to process messages any further. I'm on the hunt for a job, so I am talking about that constantly and these reminders that I am adrift accumulated and weighed me down by the end of the day.

Lots of people here have also known me for a long time and so I am also talking a lot about being married. I am trying to be transparent in my responses and the reality is that right now, marriage terrifies me. There are so many ways I can screw it up.

A couple of my online newlywed friends speak in entirely authentic ways about how magical being married feels to them. It is sparkly and neat. Sweet A. wrote about how special it was to fall asleep next to her new husband while looking at their chuppah and I thought, "Wow. That is absolutely not my experience."

And yet, being married to Jacob is the right choice.

To back up a little, I asked Jacob shortly after the wedding if he felt any different and he agreed that he didn't. My theory is that the process of planning this wedding brought up a lot of big issues that had to be worked through as if we were already partners. And like with so many other things, when you behave as if something is already true, it becomes true. By the time we got married, the ceremony simply confirmed a partnership that already existed. Now, don't get me wrong. I hate it when men say to women, "What's the big deal? We're already married." I know they are saying the same kinds of complicated ideas like the one I just wrote out but, you know, they're boys. Like Hermione says to Ron, "Just because you have the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn't mean we all have." So, in my best moments, I have grace for those types of statements. But in my human moments, I would shout at Jacob, "Then why I am spending all of this time and energy planning this f---ing wedding event?" I don't even want to think about what happened when he -out of an earnest desire to cheer me up and makes me feel loved at a time when planning was particularly hard- formally slipped the newly delivered wedding band on my finger when I wasn't looking, just for practice.

So, that being said and the goodness of our partnership affirmed, I want to be honest about the fact that these first six weeks are muchmuch harder than I expected them to be. I am plagued by the idea that if we do not set up the right dynamics now, the rest of our marriage will be like the leaning tower of Pisa, or actually, like the thousands of poorly constructed buildings that have fallen into rubble over the history of human civilization. I don't remember feeling this way during my first marriage (which wasn't actually toppled by this problem) so I wonder if it simply a natural fear of all divorcees in new marriages. There is no naivete of the possible pain keep us from flinching.

So, one of the topics of contention between us is the division of domestic labor. I like cooking us dinner and doing the laundry and hosting the parties by choosing the dishes and the tablecloths. I read all sorts of family porn blogs and dream about creating a nest of bright colors and textures to stimulate and nurture our children someday.

However, I've been looking around at the mothers at this conference, which makes me doubt my visions. There are about 2,500 people at this conference. Our society is still rampant with assumed gender roles and the folks here are no different than the larger society. Also, there are probably women here like me who really want their role as primary caretaker. There is daycare here for children who are old enough to be potty-trained and so the only children I really see are infants and toddlers. And 25% of the infants are held and comforted and walked up and down during the plenary session by their fathers. This is great. But 100% of the toddlers are being chased out in the foyer by their mothers. Something happens from the age when a child's needs are simple (being held, being warm, being dry) to when they begin to develop the difficult combination of a will of their own and mobility. It seems like the mothers have become experts in comforting their children as they grow but the fathers have devoted their time to other pursuits. (I know this is hetero-centric but I'm fairly certain their are no homosexual families here at this evangelical conference.) I fully support families that choose this kind of task differentiation and specialization. Like I said, I want it for my own family. At the same time, I fear being the kind of mom who has to always miss out on a speaker or an experience because Jacob and I have painted ourselves into a corner and Jacob cannot take responsibility for our child. I want us both to remain at least competent in any task that the other has primary responsibility. I don't want Jacob to ever feel alone in any of his tasks and I don't want to be stuck in my role.

Combine this resistance to getting stuck with my desire to set up the right patterns now and I fight with Jacob a lot to get him to validate my at-home work while I'm unemployed and even to get him to share it with me, even though it brings him no joy. I am brittle and snap very often.

Add to this, though, my desire not to make Jacob conform to my way of doing things and there is much more than a teaspoon of an emotional range. I see too often relationships that have lost their intimacy because the wife demanded that the counter-tops be disinfected her way and that the diaper be fastened completely straight. I hear my friends talk about this and see the rolling eyes of their husbands behind them. And the women usually win that battle but lose the war for closeness. The guys always put the milk back in the same place in the fridge but feel like strangers in their own homes. I don't want that for Jacob and I, but, as my dad points out, once I want him to take ownership of domestic tasks, I've already crossed the line of coercion. Then, it is about the tricky work of balance. This does not ease my sense that we could really screw this up in the next few months.

To be fair to myself, Jacob gets to determine some community standards, as well. We keep kosher. We live in the condo he bought in a neighborhood he chose. The house is, for the most part, furnished by his sense of aesthetics. He has expressed implicit desire for me to take ownership of these life habits while still giving me freedom within those constraints to do it well. There is nothing that says he can't step up to my requests with the same acceptance that I have stepped up to his.

And I have every indication that he will. He is, again and again, a good partner: willing to examine his motivations and to look out for my interests, willing to challenge me when necessary and show me that he's listening and thinking about when I least expect it. Last night as we talked about my experiences of the day, he spoke out loud my insecurities that cause me to yell at him so much. He spoke with forgiveness and understanding. He compared it to his own insecurities and assured me that we would find a way heal both.

Yesterday morning, I was standing at the breakfast table of friends of my father who have been married for at least 50 years. He complained about his food and the service and twice his wife said, "You're grumpy today." Both of them spoke with an underlying light-heartedness but both were also very serious in their complaints. I long for that security in our marriage. He could be himself utterly in relationship to the situation without fearing that it would affect how she felt about him. She could call him on his behavior without expecting it to change or worrying that he would take offense.

It is a beautiful thing: marriages that have been proven by the test of time. My parents have one. My grandparents had one. This couple had one. I think I have the making for one and it is that faith that keeps me going through my brittleness and complete lack of honeymoon sentimentality. I can't wait to get back home to my husband tomorrow night and that is proof enough that we made a good choice 6 weeks ago.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Blogging to you live from the CCDA conference.

John Perkins
just said, “We have over-individualized Christianity.” He is speaking out of 1st John, Ch. 1-Ch 2:6

He is saying that this scripture points to the idea that God is transforming the world by kneading together people to sharpen each other’s lives. (Dude, he’s old and awesome and totally allowed to mix metaphors.)

This is an idea that is extremely important to Emergent Christianity. Once we say that the Bible is not a rulebook but instead worthy of study as a holy book of stories about people who struggle with how to align themselves with God’s plan, the ethical world at first seems a little fuzzy and, frankly, scary. Alluva sudden, not only to we have to do it right, we have to figure out what right is. And right changes from situation to situation. There are not many Emergents who deny that there is absolute truth somewhere. Most of us try to distance ourselves from relativism with nearly slapstick comedy. I think many of us have been hurt by someone responding to our testimony of hard-earned theological rebirth with, “But that’s just relativism.” How dismissive. How hurtful. So, we tend to affirm the idea of “right.” However, like God, right (as opposed to wrong) is a lot larger than our churches or our scripture can contain.

So what keeps us from haring off onto a path that leads away from God? How do we avoid getting lost in the woods during our explorations?

Community. John just read the verse, “My children, I am writing this so that you won’t practice sin.” If we have friends who are close enough and love us enough and make our lives bigger because we love them so much, they can help us keep moving in God’s direction. Conversations with these folks over dinner or coffee or at potluck help us craft a spiritual practice that does not involve sin. Experiences lived together with other people helps us see the world through their eyes so that we can understand better why an action might seem right to them but odd to us. The better we know each other’s patterns, the better we can help them determine right for their situation. The better we are known, the better someone can help us determine if what feels right is actually right. “When we obey God, we are sure that we know God.” In this case, obedience means living in community.

This is an old concept. Post-modern folks from Christian backgrounds often have to struggle with the words “accountability” and “submission” because traditional churches that focus on the Bible as a rulebook use those words to create an institutional framework to help folks follow the rules. Real community often grows within this framework but often people have been confronted about their spiritual practice and their lifestyle choices without actually being known by the people who are confronting them. How dismissive. How hurtful.

I love CCDA. I have grown up with its community development values ground into the moral lens through which I view the world. I love hearing John Perkins say that we need to live in community as a means to transform not only ourselves but also the world because sometimes I struggle with this community of people because they are overwhelmingly old-school Evangelical, concerned about winning souls for heaven. Justice and alleviation of the strife of poverty and even repairing the systems that cause poverty are the means by which these folks save souls, as well as a spiritual practice for them. It’s sometimes hard to feel at home in this altar-calling, praise-teaming, women-in-the-foyer-with-the-toddlers community. But when John Perkins says to them that we have over-individualized Christianity, I think maybe I could belong here someday.

Monday, October 12, 2009

nuChristian by Russell Rathbun

For the first time ever, a publisher read something I wrote and asked if I would be willing to read an advanced copy of a book and make a review on my blog. Pretty cool, huh?

So, the author is a guy named Russell Rathbun and I have met him before. I wrote about it over on the up/rooted blog. Then, he had come to Chicago with his co-pastor Debbie Blue and one of their congregants, Linda Buturian. I bought and read both of the women's books but, for some reason, was not drawn to Russell's book, even though my pastor and several other folks that I know liked it quite a bit.

The publisher tells me this about Russell:
Russell Rathbun, MDiv, is a founding minister with Debbie Blue of House of Mercy, a pioneering emergent church in St. Paul, Minnesota. Rathbun is also the author of Mid rash on the Juanitos (Cathedral Hill Press, 2009) and the critically-acclaimed Post-Rapture Radio (Jossey-Bass, 2008). He lives with his wife, two kids, and dog KoKo in St. Paul.
At the time I met them all, I wrote this about him:
Russell started out the conversation by describing their church, which they formed when they got out of seminary because they wanted a church where they would actually want to attend and that their friends, who were artists and stuff, would also want to attend. Russell, who looked like he would fit in quite well in Wicker Park with his black cowboy shirt with embroidered banjos and funky glasses, pointed out that their church had been around for 12 years, which is ancient for an emergent church.

I liked watching the energy of the two pastors: Russell and Debbie. Both were a little twitchy and awkward. Obviously, they wanted to be there and had such beautiful, honest and vulnerable things to say. But, part of that honesty and vulnerability involved allowing themselves to be the self-proclaimed introverts that they are, even in front of a group of strangers. As someone who has been trained to pull out my most charismatic identity when addressing groups of people, I admire their courage to simply be themselves.
Now, Russel has written a book as a response to David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons' book, unChristian. I haven't read the first book, but Russell has written this small chapbook to be part of the conversation that unChristian has started.

The basic premise of unChristian is to look at detailed survey data and determine how non-Christians in their late teens to early 30s perceive Christianity. Although I have my reservations about Barna statistics, the method is one with which this little University of Chicago graduate is very comfortable: ask a bunch of multiple-choice questions to a huge bunch of people. Then, figure out trends in the data.

What Kinnaman and Lyons figure out is that Christianity has a huge image problem amongst young adults. This is not a surprise to many of us. As a Christian from this demographic, I constantly encounter people who are clearly surprised and intrigued by the inclusive religion I practice that fully acknowledges that human beings are imperfect and that God doesn't really seem inclined to change that, even after someone has made a profession of faith. Christians who practice in a religion that preaches rules and that conversion will fix everything that is wrong in your life tend to be pretty loud, dominating mass media with TV shows, guest appearances on conservative talk shows, books and advertisements for megachurches. Folks like the people at my church are quieter and have smaller in population size. Kinnaman and Lyons document this imbalance of awareness by documented public opinion. They find that non-Christians in their late teens to early 30s think that "Christians are only interested in 'saving souls;' they are hypocritical, anti-homosexual, sheltered, too political and judgmental." Russell seeks to explain these complaints to more traditional Christians and suggest some ways to counter them. The book is entitled nuChristian and is available here.

What is most valuable about this book is the perspective that Russell is taking (I suppose using correct journalism means that I should use his last name. But I've met the guy! It feels weird. I'm going to go ahead and keep breaking the rules.) Russell is not writing this book for people who do not like the church. He is not trying to convince anyone they are wrong for thinking such things. He is also not writing for an audience full of emergent Christians: preaching to the choir, as it were. Russell seems to be trying to explain to folks like his own father what is going on with this new generation of young people and to insert his own experiences as a pastor to these folks as illustration for how these young people can best be assisted in living lives that are more spiritually fulfilled. Personally, this book is most useful to me as a resource to hand to someone I love who is a Christian but who just doesn't understand why I am so excited about emergence.

I think it is most useful as that kind of resource because Russell speaks the language of more traditional Christians. I think he must be in his 40s (about a decade older than the folks he is writing about) and he traveled the traditional path to pastorhood, even though he started a ground-breaking church once he graduated from seminary. I don't know how to say this but the rationale behind a lot of the things he says is very Jesus-y. Also, his vocabulary sets up a dichotomy of spiritual identity. He talks about Christians and non-Christians. I am much more comfortable with talking about spiritual identity as a continuum since I believe that we're all moving forward and backward on our paths in relationship to God. To create an arbitrary milestone that everyone has to have crossed and can never go back to in the form of saying the words, "Now I follow Christ" seems unnecessarily exclusionist to me. But I am not the target audience of this book. Folks who have never tried to wrap their heads around that idea (and many other emergent ideas like how culture affects church life or Christianity as something other than a rules-based religion) are the audience of this book. And I think Russell reaches out to those folks well because I can't connect with some of mechanics he uses to get his message across. I am too deeply entrenched in the post-Modern mindset that he is describing to be an effective translator. It's like listening to your own voice mail. The things Russell says are accurate just like it is actually my voice talking but because it coming from a different context, I get agitated at its unfamiliarity. However, my agitation is the price I pay for recommending this book as a resource to Modern-thinking folks about why emergents are the way they are.

My father read "Chapter 6: Sheltered from God's Children" and brought up what I think is the only weakness in the book's focus. He said, "I can't tell if Russell wants me to be more like a nuChristian or not." nuChristian is Russell's word for folks who identify as Christian but who are part of the post-modern generation and, therefore, different than Christians that have come before. My dad's confusion is totally understandable. To Russell's credit, he publishes a conversation he had with his father and it turns out the generational misunderstanding is common.
DAD: It seems that there are a lot of differences. In some ways you are saying to be able to reach out and minister to these new generations, I have to change my theology.
ME: I don't think I'm saying that.
DAD: It sounds like it. I have to change what I think about homosexuality , abortion, politics, the Bible, salvation . . . [laughs]. . . about the belief in absolute truth.
ME: That does seem like a lot of things. But I am not saying that you have to change what you think about these things. I am just suggesting what I think most postmoderns think about these subjects. And I am not trying to suggest that they all think the same way on any particular subject, I am trying to talk more about how they approach things.
I'm looking for a final quote where Russell clears this all up and there isn't one since the way we approach things is often entangled in what we believe. So, folks with Modern perspectives like our dads are always going to feel that if their approach has to change, so will their beliefs and it is always scary to consider one's beliefs changing since then we will probably have to change the way we live our lives, which is always uncomfortable. And isn't changing the way we live our lives equivalent to changing our approach to things?

It's a difficult task to resolve that circularity of intent and I do not blame Russell for being unable to do so. There were several brilliant moments in the book where he put concepts into words with a clarity I envied. Because of that, I do recommend the book as a great resource for folks outside of the movement or the generation or for folks inside the movement or from the post-Modern generation who need some help in translating their experiences.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

One Great Month

Yesterday, I had lunch with an old friend of mine. He is getting married in a little over a month and I loved listening to him talk about how excited he was about his wedding. None of this my-job-is-to-show-up bullshit. We reminisced about my first wedding when there was an entire CD burned (this was before iPods) entitled, "To give Marty a heart attack" full of funk songs that this 6'3" guy with a wrestling manager's build wouldn't be able to resist. "He was sweaty," is how my friend remembered it. Then, he talked about why he liked the DJ they were probably going to go with. At some point in the conversation, he said the words, "I HAVE to send you a picture of the favors; they are perfect!" He told me about specific vows that he was particularly excited to agree to and how he was looking forward to the way certain family members would react to the audience-participation nature of the ceremony. He almost cried when he talked about his fiancee's dress and how beautiful she looked in it.

This is a beautiful thing in this world of ours.

Yesterday, Jacob and I went to Social Security to change both of our last names to a hyphenated common name. It was hard for him. He used the word, "trepidation." He acknowledged that my desire for this was mostly to mend the world by being ground-breakers by modeling new options for families that want an alternative to a societal norm based upon a belief that women and the children they produce are property. We decided this months ago after long nights of discussions that included some shouting and tears. We think the choices anyone makes are good as long as they are good for them but we want a world where every choice is actually an option that folks can choose without getting weird feedback. That's only done by making an option mundane instead of exotic, which means folks like us have to do more than just talk about changing the world until we reach a tipping point. Although Jacob agreed to this and his new Social Security card will arrive in the mail in two weeks, he needed to tell me yesterday while we waited on uncomfortable chairs, anxiously watching the early-model LED "Now Being Served" board, that he was doing it 80-90% because he loves me not because he's passionate about changing the world this way.

Both of these kinds of grooms are beautiful things in this world of ours. Weddings are important. Marriage is important. We do newly-created families a disservice when we delegate all of the hard work and excitement over to the brides. I am looking forward to this wedding in November because both partners will be fully present in the party that they are planning. I am looking forward to the rest of my marriage with a deep-seated conviction that Jacob is fully committed to this thing that I never had with my first husband. It helps me move past the last of my fears that history will repeat itself and I will be left alone and devastated again. With those fears so clearly unfounded, I can commit MYSELF fully to this relationship rather than sandbagging parts of myself in case I need them intact to survive another divorce.

To celebrate our one-month anniversary, I made Jacob this mix and since my music collection comes more and more from legitimate sources due to Jacob's beliefs about intellectual property, I was actually able to publish it as an iMix. You can purchase it for yourself here.

January Wedding by The Avett Brothers
Sing by Travis
Sweet Revenge by John Prine
Cinnamon Girl by Neil Young
You've Made Me So Very Happy by Blood, Sweat & Tears
Let's Get It Started by Black Eyed Peas
Dance Me to the End of Love by Misstress Barbara
Sexy M.F. by Prince
Let's Get Married by Al Green
Let's Get It On by Marvin Gaye
Hit the Spot by Leslie Mendelson
Love Will Keep Us Together by Captain & Tennille
Knocks Me off My Feet by Stevie Wonder
In My Life by Nina Simone
At Last by Etta James
Married by Judi Dench

I call it "One Great Month" and last night we danced around to it as I finished our celebratory dinner of "well-cooked" beef stew, fresh bread out of the bread machine and fruit salad. I'll be listening to it for at least a couple of days on repeat because I like it so much. It's so danceable in the middle since it's an electronica version of our favorite Leonard Cohen song, which is Jacob's favorite genre even though I hate it. It reminds me of our wedding when I was so awe-struck at how well The Beatles' "In My Life" applied to my life and I sang it to Jacob. When Judi Dench sings, "And the old despair that was often there suddenly ceases to be for you wake one day,look around and say: 'Somebody wonderful married me,'" I cannot remember feeling any other way.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Do It Together

Just in case you're putting me up on a pedestle, let me tell you that I was not my best self today. I did not love another like I would want to be loved.

The day started off well. I was really moved to read a bride write about a friend who helped with her wedding. It perfectly described my best friend Susan: "She didn't say, "What can I do, what can I do?" She just stood quietly by with her ears open and her mind working and stepped in as needed." I don't think I knew what a gift that was until it was put in just that way. I think back on all things I did myself because I was pretty sure that it would be more work to get someone on board and explain it and risk possible complications (which would suck time and energy) than it would be to just churn it out. Also, I had lots of people offer to help but when I asked some of them, they said, "Well, that's not really the kind of help I had in mind," either with words or with their behavior. Humorously, they often signed off the email or the phone call or the visit in which they declined to help with, "But let me know if you need anything!"

This did not bother me at all, actually. At another stage in my life it might but mantra of always trying to assume goodness first and try to puzzle out extenuating circumstances that caused the deviation later seemed to work with these cases. They were quickly forgiven for not bending to my will. Plus, maybe I didn't give folks enough permission and affirmation so that they felt like they could just step in and offer to do something specific. Also, lots of people did help when I asked. A roomful of yarmulke-covered heads is proof of that.

But Susan? She was the kind of friend who also listened and stepped in. And I love her for that.

I also love my friends Jake and Jess. They comment quite a bit around here so if you read the comments, you've probably already experienced their enthusiasm. When they came over the weekend before the wedding to help get stuff done, I had fallen into the pattern of assuming this was another ingenuous offer, which is completely contrary to the evidence of their lives and personalities.

So, after hanging out for a little while and shooting the shit and enjoying this dynamic because I assumed this was what I would be doing all afternoon, Jess looked at me and said, "No really. We want to help. Put us to work." So I did. Jake and Jacob made the quilt square display board. Jess worked on the final yarmulkes with me and we all made tablecloths.
So, when my chuppah stand went missing, and it was a three hour round-trip to rent one and I couldn't find anyone to do the same to return them on the day after Labor Day, I knew that if I called Jake and Jess for help, they would not let me down.
Here is Jake building my chuppah four days before the wedding while I looked on semi-helplessly from a pool of despair that I was wallowing in. Even with his own exhaustion from nursing school and frustration over design obstacles, he assured me that it was no big deal for he and Jess and Rachel and Cory to stain it on Saturday morning and assemble it on Sunday morning and disassemble it on Sunday night.

See how good it looks?See the yarmulkes, too?

So, you would think with all of those thoughts of love and cooperation floating around in my head, I would be primed for keeping my ears open, using my smarts and stepping in to help others, right?


Again, I started off well. On my way to my therapy appointment, I stopped at my brother and sister-in-law's place to use my spare key and drop off the chocolate ice cream I had made her. It smelled a little funny when I first walked in but my brother smokes and they have a dog that swims in Lake Michigan and they cook Indian food so I thought it was just a fluke combination of those elements. After I deposited the quart of ice cream in the freezer, I went to go say hi to the dog who was emotionally stuck to her bed (this is actually not all that weird: she's a rescue pit bull). On my way there, I notice a giant, stinky, runny, oddly gray pile of dog poo in the middle of the hardwood floor. Poor Beatrice had been so sick and not that I looked at her, she wasn't wagging her tail and she was ducking her head instead of looking at me expectantly for love, like she usually does. It was huge. More than the volume of ice cream I brought. And - the longer I was there - just as hugely disgusting to smell. It was starting to make me heave a little.

Because of my thoughts this morning, I really wanted to stay and clean it up. It was what I would have wanted someone to do for me. I even started to problem-solve about finding something to scoop it up with since a paper towel just wasn't going to cut it. Then, my eyes really processed the pool of liquid excrement surrounding the pile and between that and my olfactory experience, I was practically pushed out the door by my self-preservation instincts.

Not a good neighbor. As Anne Lamott would say, Jesus is sucking down a little medicinal whisky right now because he's so disappointed.

Poor Beatrice has to experience unfounded doggy shame all day and my brother had to clean it up. I called him at work to apologize and warn him what was waiting for him. (Can you imagine having a bad day and coming home to that without warning?) I then promised that I would never do that to Baby Shashi once s/he gets born.

Laugh all you want but some days we just cannot be our best selves. I thank God that Jess and Jake and Susan and all the other folks who helped with my wedding had better days then than I had today.

Monday, October 05, 2009


Last week I was working at my dad's office on a grant proposal for his organization. I love doing this because our desks are right next to each other and we can talk while we work and, more importantly, I can hear how he makes his phone calls. I have been taking advantage of this set-up for almost 15 years and almost all of my professional mannerisms come from observing my dad talk on the phone with colleagues, donors and strangers.

Last week, someone called him mistakenly because the name of his organization is similar to the name of another organization. Instead of graciously taking his leave when the mistake was discovered, the caller kept my father on the line for 15 minutes, describing the work he does and asking questions, trying to get my father on board anyway. Dad is polite and gracious but kept making faces at me and shaking his head. (This is the exception to my use of him as a role-model; I know that I am not yet skilled enough to pat my head and rub my belly on the phone: my facial expression will be belied by the tone of my voice.) When he got off the phone, he bemoaned "you young people, you zealots." I deserved to be lumped in with that guy. I'll talk about my church or the Jewish community's response to interfaith marriage until someone's eyes glaze over. I hope that when I get a job, it is one that serves a cause that I can also get excited about.

But today, I read this quote in my Geez magazine, from the Orthodox saint, Isaac the Syrian:
Someone who has actually tasted truth is not contentious for truth . . . once he has truly learnt [what truth is really like], he will cease from zealousness on its behalf.

It seems that my dad is wiser than he looks. I look forward to seeing the world from his perspective at some point in my life. If God is ineffable and unknowable and we can only catch glimpses of her through our peripheral vision, like watching the invisible wind move the trees or like Moses being allowed to see only the afterimage of God's passing, then how could we put that experience into words that we were certain enough about to fight for. As a zealot, I ignore the needs of others and try to manipulate them into believing what I believe, if only through the hope that they might lend the argument credence simply because my passion and enthusiasm is unlikely to be utilized on behalf of a dumb cause. Someday, I will trust that my work is worth doing, even if no one else joins me, because I finally trust that God would not tell me to do something if it were not worth doing and I will desist from my zealotry. Saint Isaac trusts that God will show all people truth and that their normal interactions will pass it back and forth between them. Zealotry is simply another way of making ourselves more important to the process of redemption than we actually are. God redeems us and the world. We are lucky enough to be invited to join in the task but our participation is not at all necessary. The work will get done either way.

Thank God for that since I do a pretty terrible job of mending on most days. Maybe one day, I'll be as good at it as my dad is.