1. 01. prisons

    I moved to California last week, and this past Sunday I went to a new church for the first time.  Apparently the pastor’s been preaching through Hebrews, and on this particular Sunday he preached on Hebrews 13.

    His message covered verses 1-7, but my eyes stayed on verse 3 which says, “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison…”

    Continue to remember those in prison…

    I’ve read Hebrews 13:3 many times before, but I always took it to mean going to visit people who were incarcerated — whether because of persecution or because of a crime they’d committed.  I grew up as a middle-class white girl in Amish Country, and I never personally knew anyone who’d been to prison and so, because I didn’t have any connection to incarcerated people,  I always thought the verse didn’t apply to me.

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  2. 02. I have news for you

    I have news for you.

    Before you get too anxious or excited, NO, I’m not pregnant or engaged, I didn’t win the lottery, and my book is not (yet) on the New York Times bestseller list.

    The news is — I’m moving from Portland, Oregon to Santa Barbara, California at the end of this week.

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  3. 03. And The Oscar Doesn’t Go To…

    In honor of The Oscars, I thought I’d compile some of the funniest movie reviews I’ve read over the past year.  Enjoy!

    Endless Love

    Endless Love lives up to its name. It’s purgatory.” David Edelstein, Vulture

    Endless Love didn’t have to be this godawful.” Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

    “This movie has no idea how letters of acceptance work, how airports work, how relationships work.” Alonso Duralde, Linoleum Knife

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  4. 04. love your (straight) neighbor: 10 reasons why I agree with governor brewer’s veto

    This week Jan Brewer, the governor of Arizona, vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to customers on religious grounds.  The bill was proposed in response to businesses in other states that have gotten into trouble for refusing to sell cakes, flowers and other goods to gay couples who are getting married.

    The law was vetoed because it violated people’s civil liberties, and also because it was really vague.  Though the bill was mainly supported by business owners who wanted the right to refuse service to LGBT customers, especially those who were getting married, it could’ve had broader (and, I would add, disastrous) consequences.

    I was relieved that the bill was vetoed, though a lot of my Christian friends were disappointed.  I respect others’ views, but I’m convinced for many reasons that Governor Brewer made the right decision.

    Two caveats before I tell you why.  The first is that I’m not talking about religious institutions here (synagogues, churches, mosques, etc.)  I think that’s an entirely different matter, and deserves a separate conversation.  The second is that I welcome dissenting opinions, but please be thoughtful and kind in your comments.

    That being said, here’s why I agree with Governor Brewer’s veto.

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  5. 05. “not blue” is not a color

    Construction on the bridge that spanned the Golden Gate Strait, the entrance from the Pacific Ocean into the San Francisco Bay, finished in 1937.  It was the largest suspension bridge in the world at the time, and it was beautiful.  The San Francisco Chronicle called it “a 35 million dollar steel harp.”

    At the end of construction, the only decision architects and engineers had left to make was what color to paint the bridge.   Everyone had a different opinion about what color the bridge should be, but the one thing they all agreed on was this: the bridge could not be blue.

    A blue bridge would too easily blend in with the sky above and the water below, which could be disastrous for planes and large ships.  So the initial answer to the question of what color the bridge should be was “Not Blue.”

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  6. 06. don’t pet the snakes

    This weekend I read the story of Jamie Coots, the preacher who refused medical treatment after being bitten by a rattlesnake, and died later that night, because he thought handling snakes was as serious a command as “thou shalt not commit adultery.”  And if you didn’t get bit by the snake, or if you survived the snake bite without medical care, it proved your faith in God and His approval of you.

    The story struck a chord with me because when I was in high school, I spent a few summers at a camp in the heart of Appalachia.  I met kids who came out of churches like that.  Their preachers not only handled poisonous snakes, but also taught the kids superstitious theology, like if you stared into a fire too long, it meant your soul was going to hell.

    The girls from these churches all wore ankle-length dresses and could not wear anything else, even when they were going swimming.  I watched them jump into the pool in long dresses that ballooned up like parachutes when they hit the water.

    When I read about the preacher who died this weekend, my heart sank.  Not just because it’s asinine to pick up a rattle snake and dare it to bite you, but because of all the other implications this theology has on people.

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  7. 07. saint valentine was single

    When I was in college, the single girls in my dorm had nicknames for Valentine’s Day.  The pessimistic ones called it S.A.D., which stood for Singleness Awareness Day.  Optimists like me preferred to call it Independence Day.

    In college, and then in grad school, I thought it was only a matter of time before I met the man I would marry.  However, here I am at the age of 35, still single.  I have lots of friends who are single, too, wondering if and when they’ll ever get married.  They watch shows like Say Yes to the Dress and Platinum Wedding, longing for the day when they’ll get to walk down the aisle to the strains of Here Comes The Bride.

    One of my best friends got married right after we finished college, and now has three children.  She was recently mourning that her middle child can’t stand vegetables, and it’s a challenge to get him to eat them.  This week we were talking about a study I recently discovered.

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  8. 08. 63 Percent

    I frequently travel to speak at events, and afterwards I shake hands with a lot of people.  One of the most common things they say is, “Why’s a pretty girl like you still single?”

    I know they mean well, and in a way it’s sort of a compliment that they think I’m good marriage material, but it drives me crazy.  Because the real answer to their question is not, “I don’t know” or “There’s a shortage of good men out there” or “I’m too busy for a relationship right now.”  The real answer is, “Because you’re not setting me up with anyone.  Sixty-three percent of married couples meet through mutual friends, so if you haven’t introduced me to anyone, I’m probably still single because of you.”

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  9. 09. who told you?

    It’s Black History month, which makes me happy because we get to celebrate beautiful, creative, brave people.  And it makes me feel a little sad because for a long time, the dominant culture in America oppressed, abused, overlooked and discriminated against those same people.

    I’m hopeful that we continue to repair relationships and restore communication with the races and cultures we’ve mistreated in the past, to create a society where we celebrate diversity rather than discriminating against it.

    But here’s the thing.  I don’t think we can have diversity in a vacuum.  We can’t just decide to embrace different skin colors, and then reject other areas in which human beings are created differently.

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  10. 10. still

    In between Christmas and Lent is the liturgical season called Ordinary Time.  The tinsel and lights have been packed away.  The presents have been unwrapped, the New Years’ resolutions have been made (and, quite possibly, already broken).   The snow from our white Christmas has melted and a stark bleakness takes its place, as if the world is coming down from its high, waking up after the peace-love-hope-joy bender we went on over the holidays and won’t go on again until next December.

    It feels like the world has woken up from a dream state, and now we’re reckoning with reality, and retracting our optimism.

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