what we're about

Attempts to illuminate our brief mortal existence

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


It's snowing here, on December 1 in central Indiana. A powdered sugar dusting lay on the ground when I took Landon to work before 8:00AM. Now, several hours later, it's still coming down. From the window the flakes look a little bigger, and the wind is blowing them around more.

I'm a little fascinated by weather, and by snow in particular. Walking outside during snowfall or dashing through cold rain always gives me a strange feeling of otherness. It's a feeling of being present in a system that is in no way dependent upon me for it's continued function. Living as I do in the city, I'm surrounded by the changes that we humans have made to the natural landscape in order to be able to survive and thrive on the surface of our planet. Weather is a reminder to me that some things we simply cannot keep out. No matter how many streets and houses and buildings we put up, it is going to snow on them, and rain on them, and the wind will blow around them. Weather gives me a feeling of otherness because it's not part of our system; it just is. This, in turn, reminds me of humanity's true position in relation to this planet, and of the fragility of everything that we have built up to counter our dependence upon it. In the end, we are part of a huge system that will go on no matter what we do. Even a nuclear wasteland will have weather, and even if we never figure out global climate change, and most of the earth becomes uninhabitable to humans, it will still be there. It'll just be different. It's been different before. It can do it again. We're the ones who can't handle it.

Is there anything that reminds you of the otherness of this planet that we occupy parts of? Do you find this thought encouraging, or depressing?

Monday, November 1, 2010


I wrote this Saturday evening.

I've felt a little embattled and unstable recently. Today I did two things that seem to have helped restore my balance: I sang with the choir at a funeral, and I finished The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.

The service this morning was in memory and thanksgiving of the life of Reid Nolte, a man who I didn't know at all (but wish I had, having heard and read what others had to say about him), so the effect had nothing to do with personal connection, and everything to do with the liturgy we sang, read, and heard. The hymns and some of the prayers especially pointed to the ultimate stability of our life in Christ. I was reminded that what we see is not all there is, that death – which looks so much like defeat – is really victory, that I am one of a great unity of all those who have ever followed Christ, and that the end of our struggle is already guaranteed. Someday, my sight will be clear and there will be rest and victory.

I have read The Blue Sword at least half-a-dozen times since discovering it in my teens. It is a companion book to The Hero and the Crown, which was written second but stands chronologically first. The Blue Sword tells the tale of Harry (Angharad) Crewe, a twice displaced woman. First – following the death of her parents – her brother relocates her to the military outpost where he is stationed, on the very border of the Homeland empire. Second, and inexplicably, she is kidnapped into the life of the Hillfolk on the other side of that border. At it's root, the story is one of a life snatched from it's expected trajectory and set inexorably on another course, pushed and pulled by an insistent Fate whose guiding mechanisms are persistent but not always clear. Harry eventually makes a sort of peace with the forces using her, her blood, and the Gifts it has given that she didn't ask for, but in the process she spends a lot of time dazed, confused, and resentful. Harry gives me hope because in the middle of her confusion, stubbornness and pride she keeps putting one foot in front of the other. She reminds me that it's all I can do, actually – make the next right choice.

The pattern is much bigger than my life, what I've been given is what I need, and the end is already assured. Today, that was enough.

What reminds you of the stable base to life?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Confession of a Most Drastic and Startling Nature

My generation: earbud junkies. Landon pulls them out while we're waiting for or riding the bus. The girl talking on the phone has one in her free ear. The kids streaming across campus hither and yon have theirs securely tucked in, attaching them to the shiny ipods, generic brands MP3 players, or double duty cell phones riding in pockets and backpacks. It all makes me feel a bit left out. Not that I don't have earbuds. I have a really cool orange pair that Landon gave me for my birthday (incidentally, those are the ones that are likely to be found in his ears). And it's not that I don't have an MP3 player. I actually have two – our little black generic model, and my phone that holds a micro SD chip crammed with music and a few podcasts. It's not even that I don't like listening to stuff; I love music, and I have expressed intentions of using “down-time” wisely by listening to educational or thought-provoking podcasts. It makes me feel left out because I can't do it.

I have had a dark secret for some time now. I've suppressed my suspicions of it for much of my life, and my certainty for the past several years. I've been ashamed and confused, struggling with feelings of inadequacy and incompetence. Only recently have I begun to embrace this secret; to hope that maybe it wasn't just a crippling. Maybe, just maybe, it was a nudge towards a way of organizing my life that would be more conducive to my sanity. In any case, coming to terms with it has made my life easier. "What," you may be wondering, "is this dark secret with transformative possibilities? And what has it to do with orange earbuds and listening to music while walking?" Here it is. Marina's secret that makes her unfit for life in the 21st century: I can't multi-task.

I can't knit while listening to a lecture. I can't read a book to a child and keep track of an adult conversation. I can't listen to music while I write anything important. I can't even read a challenging book and listen to music at the same time. I can't (earbud alert!) be present in the outside world while piping Regina Spektor directly to my eardrums. I have trouble cooking and conversing simultaneously. Not to mention concentrating on eating and speaking in equal amounts. Not only do I feel guilty for lacking a much-lauded feminine quality, but I have to admit to using time in a scandalous manner: I do one thing at a time. I know. I'm ashamed of it, too. And I sincerely apologize for all the productiveness that you, the wider world, have been gypped of by my handicap. But honestly? Get used to it. I've fought this long enough. I'm ready to embrace my one track mind.

When I'm walking across the pedestrian bridge, or waiting at the bus stop, or riding the bus I will no longer feel ashamed of doing just that, instead of ingesting music or educational podcasts. Walking around with speakers stuffed in my ears makes me antsy, and gives me a feeling of hiding inside my own head. In addition, the long spaces between events that are a compulsory element of my current transportation modes are proving remarkably effective at keeping me sane. Some people may be able to mainline Switchfoot and have their brain treat it as background noise. I find this impossible. Music grabs my mind and makes it think. It's when I dedicate brain space to nothing more than the background noise of a city going along its business, or to taking in the amazing sight of the variety of people who get on and off the bus, or to whatever lazy thoughts it wants to bring up that my mind has a way of unraveling its own kinks and getting back in working order.

When I'm eating ice cream, sitting on the floor beside Landon, who is busily engaged in his homework, I will not allow myself to think that I need to be reading a book in order to make this time worthwhile. The ice cream and my husband are enough; if I try reading at the same time I won't enjoy those. Seriously - ice cream is its own experience, especially Edy's Rocky Road.

I will never again try to play Scrabble and have a serious online conversation at the same time. I will not allow myself to feel like I have to carry on a texting conversation and a real one simultaneously. I will do whatever it takes to not get sidetracked by conversations that are not my own. I will write down tasks for later so that I can concentrate completely on what I'm doing now. This is for now, that is for later. I will not attempt to listen to Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! while doing anything else.

Since I don't want to appear naive, I have to put in a disclaimer: I'm not sure how long this can last. I've heard often enough that being a Mother (especially of young children), which I intend to be at some point (and they have to start young) is a case study in the necessity of multi-tasking. Even closer than that looms the prospect of working again, and then going back to school (plus working?). But I'm going to hang on to the habits that I'm trying to put in place now: I intend, as much as possible, to declutter my life to the point where I can do what I need to do effectively, instead of doing a mediocre job on all the things that I would like to do. We'll see how this works out.

So, shocked yet? Or is there anyone else who would like to confess to secret inabilities to do two things at once?

P.S. If you love to multi-task, and find yourself to be quite effective at it, please don't take offense at any of my descriptions of behavior that I eschew. I'm not condemning you for your earbuds and multi-track minds, just confessing that I am incapable of following your example. I'm actually jealous, so go ahead and feel superior.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Result number one

I recently read Crazy Love, by Francis Chan. It was sent to me by a friend, along with a highlighter, because "you might need it." I did use the highlighter. I found the book challenging and oddly encouraging. Not that it said much that I hadn't read before, but it said a lot of things that we can all stand to be reminded of, and made me consider if I've been actively pursuing life in light of Christ's love, or just sort of drifting along on whatever I learned the last time that I read a book like this. This is the first in several (I'm not sure how many) posts about things I learned or remembered reading this book.

I had an epiphany the other day. I had an epiphany, and I had an encounter with God, both of which were unexpected at that moment (was washing my hands in the bathroom - not generally a time and place when it is considered "the thing" to have epiphanies and encounters). My brain had been poking and prodding at a vague disquiet that I had been experiencing for several days. The disquiet was brought on by a chapter in Crazy Love listing several of God's attributes. They were all very orthodox and biblical - holiness, omniscience, etc., so I wondered why they bothered me. Maybe I just didn't like thinking about them. Maybe I wasn't comfortable with that God and preferred a more manageable God. Maybe maybe any of a long list of heresies. So I poked, prodded, and turned the feeling as I went on with my life, until the epiphany burst upon me at the sink.

God has a personality. More like, God is a personality. It's odd how this surprised me, but it did. It's another one of the things that I've always known but never realized. I was honestly so startled by this that I found myself sputtering to the towel in my hand: "God has a p...per... personality." And as though the words had made it real, I felt it. I felt God as a completely separate Person pressing against my consciousness. A person who loves and hates, laughs and cries, feels joy and sorrow, greed and generosity, and the whole host of emotions like me. But not just like me, because I feel those things finitely and in part. He feels and is those things infinitely and completely.

It's odd how much of a difference it makes to think of interacting with a person, instead of a list of attributes. Quite a startling sort of thing. Mr. Beaver's description of Aslan takes on a whole new significance: he's not safe, but he's good.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Purity of Heart

If your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.

Matthew 6:22

The grace that is there to be given to me in the exercise of my gifts comes only when my eye is “clear”, or single. I have to be focusing on one thing; my goal has to be the right one, my motivations have to be pure, and only then does the grace come. My body is full of light. Understanding comes easily, and my mind gracefully digests the knots of information, untangling one fine strand after another until they are laid out clearly for all to see. I am too easily distracted by other thoughts, thoughts of fame and glory sometimes, but usually thoughts of a quiet scholarly acclaim from those among whom I most desire to find acceptance, and when that happens I lose the clarity. My mind goes fuzzy, and although I can work, it just doesn't feel right. It might get good marks, but it lacks a soul. When I'm trying to be clever or scholarly or even just plain brilliant it doesn't work. To be full of light I have to take my eye off of those goals, and fix it on Jesus Christ, the embodiment of the work of His Kingdom, and accept the ends that he has for my work.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


She used to come to see us when she was little,

Running around in the dusk in the parking lot

Outside of town.

She loved us then, and was impatient in her waiting,

Sitting on the parking curb with the sparklers

All burned up.

We came then, and she both feared and thrilled to us,

As we burst our globes and fountains and trees

Of light and colour.

She saw us one year in Columbus from a distance,

As her Dad drove the car along the outerbelt

While we exploded.

We were strange shapes then – ringed planets and UFOs,

And smiley faces that disappeared gradually

Into the night sky.

She grew old enough to become impatient with us

As we came in mere ones and twos and threes

Above Plain City.

She grew older still and drove the busy streets early

Into Columbus with her youth group, and set up their chairs

Along the curb.

We filled the sky that night, and burst inside her heart

With our light and noise, and the sheer volume

Of our presence.

But she had changed, and something had broken inside her,

And we tore away a curtain that protected her

From herself.

She feared a lot of things that got inside her then,

Not just us, but perfect music and friends and things that she

Was meant to love.

She came again to see us in Columbus, and never

Told even herself about what had happened

That first time.

But she stopped seeking us out so eagerly,

And for a few years watched us from a distance,

If at all.

It was in Plain City that we finally saw her again,

Sitting on the firehouse lawn with her new husband,

Her hand in his.

She was preoccupied that year, and she forgot

The evening before too long, but we didn't hurt her

Like before.

She was in Indiana a year later, a new place

For us and her, but not for us and her newest siblings,

Who loved us.

They brought her along to watch us, driving

In the big van to the park, where she remembered

That she was excited.

And we came again to her there in twos and threes,

So she could trace our flight from the ground

To the top.

And we shattered our brilliance into the sky

For her and the people that she loved as she sat again

With her husband.

She was newer when she came to us again,

And her heart could love us again and thrill

To our transient beauty.

She was dazzled and happy when we were done,

Not broken now, or afraid, or busy hiding herself

From what she loved.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

On leaving, and the maintenance of vision

With apologies to Alyssa, and the rest of the Lehmans, who are more sad about the hole that we leave behind than we are about the adventure we have moved on to. We do love and miss you greatly.

It's time for us to grow,

And I am glad

That we can do it cleanly.

We can move out of

This space without

Breaking it wide open.

One change paves the way

For all kinds of

Different, all kinds of change.

I was standing in the doorway, taking a last look at the apartment where Landon and I had lived our first year of marriage with all its attendant joys and struggles. The rooms were empty, just like the first time that I ever saw them. Gold carpet from the 70s in the living room, with its faux wood paneled walls, and the tall tall windows that I loved so much. I could picture the same thin blue carpet in the bedroom, the same purple sheers on the windows. It was all the same, but I felt it so differently from my first glimpse. The first time I saw the apartment it was full of ethereal dreams, but in the past year Landon and I had packed so much real, solid living into these walls that even in this emptiness I still felt that life emanating from the surfaces. And so I wondered why I wasn't more sad. Sad to see the space without “us” in it. Our books and little end tables gone, the burnt orange chairs (also from the 70s?) carried off to their long home, the walls and end tables bare of our pictures. Shouldn't I be shedding tears at the thought of leaving? Didn't the thought of never seeing this place again warrant more than a tiny lump in my throat and a slightly melancholy sigh?

The reality was that I was excited. I had barely turned the key for the last time and left it in the mailbox before I left behind my sadness for building anticipation. I couldn't summon tears at the sight of my beloved apartment because I knew that it was time to move on; the Wind had whispered that it was time to go. Landon and I had learned what we were there to learn. We were growing restless here, and I was excited that our growth could be accomplished cleanly, slipping out of this space instead of breaking it open. I looked forward to a bigger city, a new way of doing life, and a more challenging space to live in. A week later, I find that I already need to remind myself of that excitement, and that clear-eyed way of looking at the move. I'm still excited, but excitement about an overarching Reality of things gets so easily bogged down in the thousand concrete aspects of accomplishing it.

First, there's the sheer hard work of taking a nebulous, dreamy vision of a new life and making it a reality as best we can with what we have. Getting boxes unpacked collides with the reality that we have less space here than we did there, and we may have to make some hard choices about what we can keep and what goes. A desire to organize our apartment quickly has to face up to the reality of acquiring furniture which has to face up to the reality of what we can and cannot afford. None of these are insurmountable obstacles, but it takes discipline to not lose sight of where we're trying to get to in the effort of getting there.

Second, there's the indubitable fact that needing to be a more grown-up, disciplined person doesn't automatically make me that. I've been given more space in which to grow, but I still need to do the hard work of aiming myself for that growth. I am afraid of change and growth because they are inherently beyond my control. I can't choose what God is turning me into, and so I am tempted to cling to what I am already. I may not like it all that much, but it's safe. This is a paralyzing fear; it tempts me into non-action. I have to work hard not only to be the person that I need to be in order to fill up this new space that God has given me, but also to overcome my fear of becoming that person.

Third, and overall, the situation that we're in leaves us vulnerable. There is much that is at risk when we move beyond the conforming but protective powers of familial expectations and cultural familiarity. We have to find a new church which will inevitably shape us, meaning that it needs to be chosen with care. We have to gather our own circle of friends and acquaintances which is a daunting task, but a a skill that we cannot fail to learn. We have to develop our own pattern of living and our own expectations for how we use our time and money because we are more than ever outside of what our cultural background speaks to. All these choices could bring unhealthy influences into our lives, and if we aren't listening closely to the Spirit, or wielding enough wisdom we could make choices that we will regret years down the road. I am afraid of all these things even as I rejoice in having these choices, and this fear, too, leaves me vulnerable. It puts me on edge; I snap at Landon more easily, and I sink more quickly into my own peculiar mixture of obsession and depression. I flounder as I try to find the expressions of our essential unity in these circumstances. This fear, too, blinds me to the Reality in which we live, the Reality that we are where we are because God has called us here. That He has been faithful with His call in the past, and will be in the future, and that I cannot wander too far off the right road before He brings me back.

Ultimately what kept me from the sadness that might seem due at leaving a beloved situation was trust and love, and that is what needs to keep me from unduly longing for the security that we left behind. That security would be stifling to us now; I may not see it right now, but I know it, and I have to believe it. Only this Truth can set me free from the fear that has dragged me down in the past week. It is only this love that can let me hold dearly the memories of that past year without wishing to go back to them.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Excuses, excuses

Been busy. Moving. Settling in. Post coming. Soon. Don't go away. Please.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Learning to Just Do Something

You're watching a movie. Better yet, you're watching Lost. Shannon is lost in the jungle, and there's a suspicious noise coming from... somewhere. The camera whizzes in a circle, barely focusing on any particular spot, seeing everything and nothing, giving us a dizzying sense of impending but invisible doom, until she drops in an exhausted heap.

This is a pretty good picture of the way that I sometimes feel while trying to make a decision about the veracity or viability of an intellectual assent and the lifestyle choices that inevitably follow. Sometimes I feel so over-warned, so attuned to all the dangers of every point of view and possible consequences of every action that I just want to drop in a heap and wait for the monster (uselessness, lost potential, "depart from me, I never knew you,") to come out of the trees and eat me. Unlike some people, I don't seem to be able to narrow my vision enough to simply pick a likely path and follow it, trusting that if I am off course I will eventually be corrected. Either I don't choose (II Timothy 3:7, anyone?), or I hold myself back, stopping short of wholehearted commitment, so that if (when?) it becomes obvious that I chose wrong I can say "I always knew it!" Reticence about jumping to conclusions serves me well in some cases, but it too often runs beyond intellectual caution into mere self-protection. Why, in this day of so many choices and resources, would I act like this? And is there any hope of overcoming this tendency?

In examining the "why", I discover that part of my problem lies in the very existence of these many options, each with their own inadequacies. Reading on my own coupled with a good Bible college education has given me at least a broad, if not always deep, understanding of a lot of theological (and to a lesser degree intellectual and philosophical) positions. It has also exposed me to a lot of different viewpoints on those positions and traditions, with one person taking apart what the last person presented so favorably. Most dangerously, for my particular weaknesses, I have heard story after story of personal spiritual damage that came about in the context of a person's adherence to, or upbringing within, almost any Christian tradition. This is what I mean when I say that I am "over-warned." In every good thing I see the potential danger.

"Potential danger?" you say, "but all that you have to do is avoid the extremes. Learn from the example of other people and avoid whatever leads to the unwanted result." This is sound advice; unfortunately, two more tendencies that play into my "why" make it difficult advice to follow. First, I spend much of my time seeing double. The action part of me wants to evaluate things in black and white, while the decision making part is seeing them in shades of grey. I want to find ideas and positions to which I can commit myself unquestioningly, but have as yet found none that are safe for me to embrace wholeheartedly. I want to be given absolute lines and categories on which to base my actions, but at the same time I recognize the failures of every single human system of absolute lines and categories. Second, I see "unwanted results" in almost every person's life. I can't seem to determine a fool proof way to avoid one person's error without realizing that that course of action would place me in the way of a different error all together. And therein lies a whole new but connected aspect of my difficulty with decision making.

I have a problem with unknowns. I want to see the whole road before I start walking down it. Before I declare myself to be beginning down a path I want to know exactly where and how I'm going. I want a full knowledge of any objections that anybody could have to a belief or course of action, and all the applicable refutations. This means I don't naturally know how to accept a learning process. I don't want to just start walking, confident that the Holy Spirit won't let me stray too far on one side or the other. It's not enough for me to know that it's okay if I fall down as long as I get up. I want to study until I know how to do it right the first time. This is obviously an impossibility, and I know it. I want to be able to move past this, into a joyful acceptance of trying and failing, doing it wrong so that someone who knows better can teach me to do it right, and realizing that growth sometimes means outgrowing things. I want to, but I'm held back by two more obstacles to my free exercise of choice: fear of man, and a frantic fear of failure.

Yes, I'll admit it: I am afraid of what people think. Not all people, just people whose opinions I care about, and people who might be able to argue with me. I'm willing to hold a position against the crowd as long as I feel like I have the superior position, butI have a desperate fear of getting into an argument and not being able to answer the objections thrown at me. This is especially true when the issue is one where I know that I don't agree with them, but can't marshal my defenses at a moments notice. It's not just an inability to prevail in debate that I fear. I have a particular dread of developing what my Dad has termed "blind spots"; areas where everybody else can see that you're wrong, but you just can't see it yourself. I've seen these develop in individuals, and I believe that churches and denominations have them as well. I don't want somebody else to be able to look at me and say "Wow, she's sincere and does well in some areas, but she is totally missing the boat on these things here." I think that this could be an honest fear if I were afraid for God's sake, and for the sake of His Holiness. Then it would drive me to more prayer and greater humility. Since, however, I am mostly afraid for my own sake it simply drives me to frantic mental contortions as I attempt to be certain that whatever I'm about to do or profess to believe doesn't leave me vulnerable in any areas. This is why stories of people's personal wounds at the hands of the devout are so potent for me. They illustrate the results of blind spots, and feed my fear of falling into them.

My fear of man and my fear of failure are connected. After all, to fail is to fall short of someone's standards, necessitating the existence of a "someone." But my fear of failure is a little broader than simply a fear of looking foolish or ignorant; it's a fear of ultimately getting it wrong. Just as I don't mind holding an opinion in the face of a majority if I believe the evidence to be solidly on my side, I don't mind looking a little nuts to people as long as I know that my end result will validate my choices. Unfortunately, this is a little like knowing how to avoid every possible danger on any particular path. Usually it's simply not possible. This is what really makes me frantic sometimes; knowing that when I look back on life, my feelings of fulfillment or regret will be the sum of the choices that I'm making now. Right now. And I hate regret. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a fool proof way of avoiding it in this life.

Throw all of the above together and you have the recipe for frantic immobility. So many options, and so many possible ways to get it wrong. Is there any hope? Can I at least begin to see a way out? Thankfully, yes.

I am beginning to realize that the key to my way forward in these moments lies in recognizing what should be my worst fear. In all of my options, one contains not just a likelihood, but rather an inevitability of regret: not choosing. If I don't choose something, I actually choose to walk the path of least resistance. I've been there, and I know where it leads: duplicity of personality, unsteadiness of conviction, and a desperate need for distractions. This is what I am fighting against when I come to these moments. Experiencing this paralysis is one of the worst feelings that I know; in that moment I feel completely helpless and utterly alone. Memory tells me, however, that it is not the worst thing that could happen to me. I've had a tiny taste of the worst, and these moments are actually evidence that I'm going the right way. They mean that I'm fighting back instead of letting myself be seduced into oblivion.

Not only am I learning to see the positive side of my struggles, but I'm learning that I can fight back. I can take stock of my bedrock realities: God is there, and I'm moving toward Him. I can remember the things that I have decided for sure, and use those as a measure for these lesser decisions. And I can remember that there is grace. Grace that I can only be aware in the times when I need it. Grace that I can lean on when I don't know for sure if I'm choosing the right way, grace that grants me the faith to know that as long as I'm moving God can be ordering my road so that it brings me to Him.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A quick one

I do realize that it has been an obscene amount of time since I posted something. I shall give out my excuse of 5 days away from home, followed by a weekend, followed by trying to pull my life back together post-absence, and then attempt to move on. In that vein, here is a little collection of somethings for you all.

- Something odd: I read this Maureen Dowd column and did not feel like hurling the computer in frustration. This is either a sign of maturity on my part in being able to recognize possible truth in the most unlikely of places, or a sign of the impending implosion of my sanity. Those two options have little to do, by the way, with my reaction to the contents of the piece, but rather to the author. We do not have a good history, Ms. Dowd and I. The piece itself is rather dreary but at this point I find it difficult to argue against.

- Something urgent: If you have not done so, you must read Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate arguments for the relevance of Christian Doctrine, by Dorothy Sayers. If you don't agree with a word she's saying, at least read it for the brilliance of her wit. It's one of the few serious books that I spend a lot of time laughing over. And I do think that you should agree with some of the things that she's saying, and that all of it should be much thought about.

- Something to think about: consider ice cream and whole grains to be specific examples of more general categories of Events (or treats) and Spaces (or "normal life"). Now, in an ideal world would we be able to have all the ice cream that we want, whenever we want, with no ill effects? Or would we instead not desire ice cream at all and take perfect delight in a steady diet of whole grains and other completely healthy foods? Or does neither of those options constitute an ideal? Do let me know what you think, because without your input I might get my conclusions wrong in the paper that I'm writing.

Friday, July 16, 2010

On Wondering

I laid wide awake the other night sifting the day through my mind, turning it over, shaking it to see what rattled, holding it up to the light to catch a different angle; suddenly, my mind snagged on a bit of Jeff Dunn's post over at iMonk.

You mean,” said Lucy rather faintly, “that it would have turned out all right—somehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?”

To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan. “No. Nobody is ever told that.”

Oh dear,” said Lucy.

But anyone can find out what will happen.” said Aslan. “If you go back to the others now, and wake them up, and tell them you have seen me again; and that you must get up at once and follow me—what will happen? There is only one way of finding out.

“To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan, “No. Nobody is ever told that.”

“Oh dear,” said Marina.

This lesson may be self-evident to some people, but I'm just beginning to learn it. When things aren't going “right” (by my definition, of course) I tend to look back at the moments when I considered other decisions, or was pulled towards a course of action that I didn't take; I could spend (and have spent) years agonizing about “what could have been” if I had taken the other fork, made the other choice, or followed the other voice. If I had made all the right choices and said all the right things at the very beginning, my relationship with Landon would never have hit a rocky moment. If I had followed every hunch and compulsion and possible whisper of the Spirit in looking for a job, I would have found something fulfilling that would further my vocation. If I had handled my morning correctly, my afternoon would never be this stressful, choppy, and unproductive. But Aslan says that this is not mine to know. Not only that, but I know from experience that none of my “if-only”ing is necessarily true.

When I try to follow every voice inside of me I end up being pulled in half-a-dozen incompatible directions. There were times dating Landon when I said and did exactly what I thought I should and it ended up hurting us both. Sometimes the morning is messed up through no fault of my own – things just happen. Looking at this I realize that I fell for yet another lie while I was busy not believing it. I have been a vocal critic of the idea that if you just do x correctly, y will work itself out like you want, yet I wasted the first year of my marriage acting like I believed just that. I frantically rearranged, redefined, and reworked things in my head so that I could believe that the present was exactly what I wanted, because if it wasn't it meant that I really had done something wrong. Wasting time like this is an awful things to do. Thanks be to God He has pulled me out of it.

In the past weeks, God has been in the process of waking me up, shaking me up, and setting me on my feet. By His grace He has shown me so many things that affirm my choices of the past few years. Remembering that I am dust, and need much strength, He has let me see some of the good things that are coming out decisions that I doubted, especially in areas of work and school. Knowing that I need a booster He has proven to me that when I take two seemingly incompatible things that I know to be true, He can eventually resolve it for me. He is showing me what is appropriate and necessary remembering, in contrast with useless speculation and regret about the past. And He is in the process of showing me what it means to follow His voice in the present without an exhaustive review of the possible consequences. It's amazing to see validation for my choices unfolding in front of me, along with proof that if I did make the wrong decision He is capable of redeeming it. It's a little embarrassing that my faith is weak enough to need this, but it's incredible to see it happen. I feel as though I'm growing into a walk where there is no “what might have been,” there is only “what's next?” As my husband and I enter this season of defining, searching, and growing, I am more excited than I have been in a long time. Maybe I can finally learn to follow Aslan by myself, without needing other people to see Him as well. Maybe I can learn to scramble off of the cliff without knowing where the path is, just trusting that it is there.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


The sacrament

Reduces us.

Boils us down

To our Essential.

Flesh and blood,

Finite spirit.

We touch flesh

To touch spirit.

And need the finite

To find the Infinite.

I've said things like this before. I know I have. But it makes sense to me now in a way that it never quite did before. Possibly a matter of experiential v. intellectual knowledge. In any case, this is the second post of mine "discovering" something that I get the feeling so many other people knew already. Does anybody feel like they're watching somebody learn how to walk whose been analyzing walking for a long time?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Christianity and Climate Change: Part 2

My wife and I recently listened to a recording of a lecture entitled “Christianity and Climate Change: Understanding the Range of Responses.” The speaker was Janel Curry, Dean of Research and Professor of Geology, Geography, and Environmental Studies at Calvin College, and she gave the lecture in October of 2007 and again in May of 2008 as part of Calvin College's seminar series on Christian perspectives in science. If you are interesting in exploring the relationship between Christianity and science, the web page for the seminar series is an excellent resource.

This is part 2 of a 3 part series.

In my last post, I looked at the first factor in Curry's framework – eschatology. This post will discuss the second factor – integration. Integration represents a tradition's formulation of the relationship between God, nature, and humans. To illustrate a highly integrated worldview, Curry relates the story of a farmer in Iowa who told her that the number of birds on his farm had decreased during the 1980s farm depression. Curry's analytical mind quickly jumped to changes in land use patterns as an explanation for this phenomenon. She asked the farmer about her idea, and he responded by saying that it was the “state of humanity” during that time that caused the number of birds to decrease. The farmer viewed nature and humans as integrated, not as two unrelated things.

Curry discusses two traditions that have a high level of integration in their theology – Reformed and Catholic (can you tell yet that she is from Calvin College? :). The Reformed tradition views people and nature as tied together because they are both parts of God's plan for Shalom. Redemption in this tradition is all-encompassing, not just limited to humans.

The Catholic tradition also has a high level of integration. Curry specifically points to the National Catholic Rural Life Conference as an example. This organization views nature and humanity as being very closely related. Their website states the following: “...creation has an integrity and an inherent value beyond its utility or usefulness for human beings. Human beings are meant to be responsible stewards of creation, and indeed we can say that we work in harmony with God as co-creators. Just as God is one, the web of life is one and we are its caring stewards.”

Traditions with a low level of integration are dualistic – they emphasize the gap between humans and nature. Curry specifically points to her research involving seminary students. Baptist seminary students tended to conceptualize nature, humans, and God as very distinct entities. Some viewed nature as something that God does not directly interact with – instead, God interacts with humans who then interact with nature.

What are the implications of integration? A higher level of integration leads to the idea that all choices, even ones about the environment, have spiritual implications. Choices of what cars to drive, where to buy food, what companies to support – all of these have spiritual implications. There is nothing that is “outside” the realm of spirituality in a highly integrated tradition. Also, somewhat obviously, a high level of integration leads to high value being given to the earth. This relates back to eschatology and the accompanying views of nature. If nature is integrated along with humanity in God's plan of redemption, then nature will hold more importance then it will if it is viewed only as a neutral stage upon which God interacts with humans.

Here are some important questions for you to think about and respond to relating to integration:

  1. Is the earth worth saving? Does it have any intrinsic value? Or is it just a “backdrop” for the salvation of humans?

  2. What is the extent of redemption? Is it limited to humans?

  3. Do choices relating to the earth have spiritual implications?

  4. What is your vision of what the human/nature relationship should look like? What is the vision of your tradition?

Eschatology and integration. Two down, one to go :). In my next post, I will finish with a discussion of the responsibility factor. Interestingly enough, the Mennonite tradition will make an appearance in this one :).

Note: The focus of this series is not on climate change in and of itself, but rather on responses to climate change. Please do not try to argue about the science in the comments. If you are interesting in learning more about climate science, the following resources may be helpful: NASA's Earth Observatory, a website by Scott Mandia, and the IPCC AR4 FAQs.

Monday, July 5, 2010

My dilemma and resolution

As an intellectually inclined, married, conservative Mennonite woman, I have a bit of a dilemma. As dilemmas go it's not such a calamitous one. It is simply this: my future has more or less been decided. See, being an intellectually inclined Mennonite woman can come with its challenges, but it is, for the most part, rather wide open (barring ordination, basically). Add "married", and all the wide-openness disappears; I will, of course, be a stay-at-home Mom. Since Landon is in school right now, and we don't have children it is perfectly acceptable for me to keep going to school, or work to support us, but the purpose of school at this point is suspect, and the job doesn't need to be anything with possibilities for future progress - I'll only need it until we can settle down and be a real family. The problem is that I'm a little uncomfortable with that. And I've been thinking some seditious thoughts lately.

Could it be that I don't have to give up my intellectual aspirations in order to maintain my stance on scripture (since I'm not willing to do the reverse)? When the Bible talks about God creating woman, did he have a specific role for her in mind in a societal structure that we think of as "the home", or did he have a specific relationship in mind between her and her man?

Being a stay-at-home Mom of multiple children is one of the most difficult jobs that I can imagine anyone doing. I know of no other job that has 24/7 hours and no paid vacations (while the rest of the family goes on vacation, Mom takes her work her). I rise up in the figurative gates and call my Mother blessed for the inhuman amount of stuff that goes into a day in her life. Being a parent is important (Mother or Father), it is something that I look forward to, and I don't want to imply that without something "else" a person is, ipso facto, unfulfilled. I have, however, begun to wonder whether our idea of what it means to be a godly wife and mother has been more influenced by scripture or the idealizations of our culture.

I recently read a book by Leora Tanenbaum, entitled Catfight: Women and Competition. While I would never recommend this book as a Christian view of women and femininity (Tanenbaum is Jewish, and her viewpoint is nonreligious), it has proven to be extremely thought provoking. Her perspective on feminism, work, and parenting differs almost completely from the viewpoints that I have grown accustomed to hearing; much of it would not be popular with most of the people that I know, and I find myself out of agreement with her on various point. On at least one point, however, she provided me with an epiphany.

In her chapter on motherhood, Tanenbaum explores the history of working mothers. As she sees it, most mothers have been working mothers for most of history. Of the infamous P. 31 women she says "She bought real estate, planted vineyards, collected food, and spun fabrics. The idea of 'staying home' with her children would have seemed ludicrous to her." (256) "[M]others" she says, "have always performed myriad tasks while they raised their children and while they delegated child care to others." (256) It is not until the Industrial Revolution that we see a split between the public sphere into which a man went out to make money, and the private sphere in which the mother remained with her children. Even with the creation of this separate role of "breadwinner" in the 1800s, mothers "continued to be central players in the economic well-being of their households (257)." In other words, they did a lot of things other than and in addition to raising their children. At this point in history, with men working outside the home, but with women busy keeping up the wellbeing of the home, staying involved with making some income, and having a positive economic effect (all of which sounds pretty good to me), Tanenbaum makes a distinction that I had not previously considered. She introduces as a completely new figure the "'full-time' mother (257)."

Huh? Unlike the busy, household managing, goods producing, maid-apportioning wife of most of history, the full-time mother is, apparently, a sort of unpaid nanny, whose entire focus is child care and ornamental housekeeping. She has no positive economic effect on the household, and her world is entirely child-centric.

As I read the chapter, and digested this distinction, it struck me that Tananbaum's recording of a cultural shift brings out an in important differentiation that I have sensed, but never been able to tease out of my mind. The ideal of women being able to stay at home and concentrate solely on the children and the house, without needing to contribute economically to the workings of the household, is a fairly recent cultural construct; yet when Christian women talk about not working, it seems that this is what they have in mind. This is a role to take upon oneself, and a distinct sphere in which to operate. Certain verses in Paul's epistles are read with this cultural construct in mind, and subtly the attitude begins to steal in: if you aren't being a "full-time Mother", you are creeping outside the lines that scripture draws for you. But is scripture drawing this line, around this cultural box?

I don't think so. As I pondered this, and mentally reviewed scripture (from Genesis on), I came to see being a wife and mother as a position, and not a role. It's a position in relation to God, my husband, and other people, but it is not a part to act with a script that comes with it. This is immensely exciting to me. It opens the possibility that my life can look culturally non-traditional, yet be exactly in line with God's revealed truth.

Here is how I see the distinction that I'm trying to make. I have internalized (but always felt profoundly uncomfortable with) the idea that to accept a role as a helper suited to your husband, you have to do the support work while he does the mission. Men have callings, women have husbands. That's a simplistic rendering of the the basic framework that I ingested. Men have jobs, women have houses and children.

What if, instead, a man and a woman who join their lives to create one entity share one calling?What if marriage doesn't mean that a woman gives up her ambitions to her husband's, and a husband gains a ground support team, but instead that the two of them decide on their mission, and go at it together, whatever that looks like? What if the specific roles that they play have more to do with what their mission calls for then what the culture idealizes? It might end up looking a lot like a male breadwinner/female homemaker standard combo. It might end up being parents who each work part time and care for children part time. It might be two people working separate full time jobs, but with the same goal in mind at the end of the day.

Being a good wife doesn't have to mean staying inside the protective shell of "home" while my husband goes out into the wide world to bring the necessary money back into the home for survivals sake; it means being on the same team. It is not the taking on of a specific "role", but rather a fundamental shift in loyalties. By marrying Landon I have taken up his banner, decided for his cause, declared for his side, and it's a knock down, drag out battle to the end for me. My responsibility is not merely to send him out,then wait for him to come back to my safe haven to lick his wounds. Nope, I'm going with him. Whatever this means. And into this battle will come our children, for whom we are both responsible. We don't operate in different spheres, my husband and I; we may operate in different places in the same sphere, but you better believe that it's the same one.

I don't have to try to make myself smaller in order not to threaten my husband's leadership, instead I have to exert every ounce of strength that I have to further our mission. I don't have to try to figure out how to defer to him; there will be chance enough for that when we have a real disagreement. I don't have to stuff myself into a box in order not to compete with him; we're working for the same goal here. My success and his success are the same thing. Marriage does not need to be an obliteration of one person's goals in pursuit of the others, or a delicate balancing act between two people's ambitions: this is a pursuit of one goal by two people, where each person's gifts are stretched to the max.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Christianity and Climate Change: Part 1

As I mentioned in the first post, Landon will be contributing the occasional "guest post", usually focused in some way on science. In this first part of a three part series he addresses factors that influence Christian responses to global climate change.

My wife and I recently listened to a recording of a lecture entitled “Christianity and Climate Change: Understanding the Range of Responses.” The speaker was Janel Curry, Dean of Research and Professor of Geology, Geography, and Environmental Studies at Calvin College, and she gave the lecture in October of 2007 and again in May of 2008 as part of Calvin College's seminar series on Christian perspectives in science. If you are interesting in exploring the relationship between Christianity and science, the web page for the seminar series is an excellent resource.

This is part 1 of a 3 part series.

In the lecture, Curry presents a framework that she developed to help further the understanding of the range of Christian responses to environmental issues. Curry pursues this understanding with the goal of promoting effective communication and civil dialogue between Christian traditions which have very diverse reactions to climate change. She emphasizes avoiding the all-too-common fallacy of overgeneralization by repeatedly stating, “Every complex problem has a simple solution, and it is wrong.”

Three main factors make up Curry's framework. She identified these factors from her sociological research on the different views Christian groups have regarding nature. These factors are all influential, but no one ultimately determines the response of a specific tradition. The three factors are:

  1. Eschatology

  2. Integration

  3. Responsibility

Curry highlights three traditions in her discussion of the first factor – Quakers, dispensationalists, and Reformed. Quakers believe that humans are basically good (the “inner light”), that grace extends to all, and that it is our responsibility as humans to establish the kingdom of God on earth. These beliefs result in Quakers having an optimistic view of progress, being social activists, and placing importance on education.

Things became more interesting for me when Curry discussed dispensationalists. You can get a basic idea of the dispensationalist belief system by reading the Left Behind series (but please don't buy it :). Dispensationalists believe that when Christ returns and brings complete redemption, there will be no continuity between this earth we now inhabit and whatever comes next. Along with this comes the idea that an increase in the frequency and magnitude of natural disasters and violence will precede the Second Coming, and that the earth holds importance only as a “backdrop” to God's plan to save humans. Curry quotes one dispensational seminarian as saying, “[Our] relationship to God is what makes the land important. It's not the land that is important in and of itself.”

Curry proceeds to question the degree to which the dispensationalist tradition is actually an independent religious tradition, as opposed to its arising out of/being formed alongside American culture. Sociologists Dunlap and Van Liere have identified what they call the “dominant American worldview” or the “dominant social paradigm” - a “package” consisting of (1) utilitarian views of nature, (2) support for individual property rights, (3) anti-government sentiments, and (4) belief in the free market. This “dominant American worldview” is mirrored in dispensationalist beliefs – most importantly for this discussion in the common utilitarian view of nature.

Curry identifies the Reformed tradition as following, along with the dispensationalists, the traditional Christian framework of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. However, she identifies a distinct difference between Reformed and dispensationalist – the Reformed tradition emphasizes a continuity between this present earth and the new earth to come. She quotes a Calvinist farmer: “...we've begun our eternal life...the opening chapter...The whole thing of stewardship, is certainly a part of now and, or a part of eternity.”

I personally lean heavily towards the Reformed view, being influenced by some Reformed writings on Christian worldview which, true to Curry's representation, did emphasize the continuity aspect of eschatology. I am also heavily influenced by N.T. Wright, who, despite being an Anglican, does resonate with the Reformed on this issue.

Here are some questions for you to think about and respond to:

  1. Is the destruction of the earth a sign of Christ's return?

  2. Will there be some continuity between this earth and the new earth?

  3. Is there danger for dispensationalism in being closely tied to the “dominant American worldview”?

In my next post, I will review Curry's discussion of the integration factor.

Note: The focus of this series is not on climate change in and of itself, but rather on responses to climate change. Please do not try to argue about the science in the comments. If you are interesting in learning more about climate science, the following resources may be helpful: NASA's Earth Observatory, a website by Scott Mandia, and the IPCC AR4 FAQs.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

I know that I promised a book review, but here's a movie review instead. As always, feel free to tell me what you think of what I think.

Landon and I watched Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland Saturday night, and it left me pondering some questions. It made me think about the sovereignty of God v. the free will of man, whether there's any way to avoid extremes, and the general attractiveness of blue caterpillars smoking hookahs. It was a fascinating movie. It was also a bit of a disappointment.

The movie opens with a flashback, but the story really begins with 19 year old Alice (Mia Washikowska) in a carriage on the way to a party. We begin to see the outlines of her character in her interactions with her Mother (Lindsay Duncan), who is not pleased to discover her lack of corset and stockings. While some of Alice's statements and actions are contrarian and anti-establishment, she speaks and acts with more confused petulance than defiance, as when she sulkily compares a corset to a codfish. Alice is set up as a plethora of awkward: barely more than a child in her blue party dress and hanging curls, yet a woman in marital eligibility. A rebel as concerns her undergarments, but oddly compliant when ordered with whom to dance. Distracted and eccentric, yet socially desirable enough to have caught the eye of a Lord.

By the time that Alice dashes away from a very public marriage proposal to follow the waistcoated white rabbit down the hole it is obvious that this girl needs a good dose of direction, clarity, and what is commonly known as “finding herself.” Through her interactions with and reactions to the whole array of weird, wonderful, and just plain fascinating people and places of Wonderland she finds just what she needs. The possibilities for symbolism in this movie are endless, but there isn't room to explore all of the options here; suffice it to say that in Alice's confusions, triumphs, and breakthroughs in Wonderland, we can see the shape of her successes in the world above ground. In Wonderland she “finds her much-ness” again, and fulfills everyone's expectations of her by just doing exactly what she thinks best. It's very neat, really.

And therein lies my biggest problem with this movie: it doesn't live up to its potential for moral complexity and thematic ambiguity. Follow your heart, believe in the impossible, and you can have it all – Disney modern-princess movie anyone? I'm not against “happily ever after” endings, or fairy tales, or the reminder that sometimes you can do what looks impossible if you have enough confidence. It's just that in this movie, they don't quite fit with the rest of the story; there's a jarring note in the overlay of Tim Burton eccentricity and simplistic Princess themes.

While I am less than impressed with its self-empowerment theme, I can hardly find fault with the movie's presentation. The mix of standard computer animation, CGI, motion capture animation, and live action characters allows for a gorgeous multi-layered visual. The landscape can be jewel toned, despairingly dark, and confusingly dreamlike as called for. Some of the characters are a mixture of two or three of those methods, like Helena Bonham Carter as the bulbous-headed Red Queen, and Crispin Glover as the knave of hearts with a live action face atop a motion-capture animated body. Johnny Depp plays the truly mad, slightly pathetic, but very brave Mad Hatter with discomfiting eyes. And, speaking of Disney princesses, Anne Hathaway's White Queen is (in my humble opinion) one of the most bizarre and unsettling characters in the whole movie.

As a whole, I would heartily recommend this movie if you're already interested, but wouldn't count it a must-see. Although it's definitely a treat for the eyes, it doesn't quite have the substance that it could; like Alice, it's lacking a little much-ness.

Alice in Wonderland” is rated PG, and is quite clean as far as innuendo and language are concerned, so it's suitable for almost any audience; I probably wouldn't recommend it for very young children who are going to be confused by the dreamlike qualities of Wonderland or frightened by the mild action scenes.

Friday, June 25, 2010


I would call myself a casual observer of current events. I don't obsess about ferreting out the latest news, and I don't even have a news feed as my home page. I get an e-mail every day with some headlines from the New York Times; some days I delete the e-mail, most days I scan the headlines and read two or three articles that look interesting, every once in a while I really go through and read half a dozen or more articles that look particularly informative. Other than this I get my news through listening to NPR when I'm in the car.

So I have a decent grasp on the big stuff (there's oil in the gulf of Mexico, South Carolina is a political soap opera, General McChrystal has a big mouth, etc.), but it's not exactly up to the minute, and it's not terribly in depth. You can read all that as a disclaimer and an introduction, because this casual observer has some questions about current events (and by current I mean within the past few weeks).

1) What, exactly, did/do people expect President Obama to do about the oil spill?

This is partly a sarcastic remark, and partly an honest question. From my limited perspective, it looks like a problem that requires people with a more experience in engineering and less in politics. Are there presidential powers of which I am not aware that Obama should have been exercising? Is there something that he didn't do that he could have, or did that he should have not have? Also, isn't it a little odd that people were so angry that he didn't appear angry enough?

2) Are stupid remarks about the boss and difficult coworkers, made while not on the job or in official capacity, just cause to fire someone?

This is, of course, a reference to General Stanley McChrystal, who was removed from his post as the leader of the Afghan war following an article published in Rolling Stone containing some less than satisfied things that he had to say about diplomats and Obama administration members.

3) Is presiding over the opening of a construction project in Ohio really the best way to curry favor with the citizens of that fine state?

Last weekend I had to giggle at the story of President Obama attending the ground breaking of a road construction project in Columbus, OH. Having lived in the area, I can attest to the annoyance felt by all when summer begins and the orange barrels begin sprouting like pestiferous, poisonous blooms. Undeniably it is a good thing that a construction crews worth of Ohians have a job that they would not have otherwise had. Also, road construction is a good thing. It's just an annoying good thing. Especially in Ohio. Thus the giggling.

4) Why did I ever hate Landon Donovan?

This question should be self-explanatory. If its not, there is little hope for you. Also,

5) Where can I get hold of a vuvuzela?

I asked, you answer.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hello World!

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

~ James 4:13-15

To be a brilliant vapor is to live life with an awareness of its brevity, and a determination not to waste that time simply existing (defined as allowing yourself to be simply acted upon by the forces that push us around in life). It is to choose instead to actively live out this brief encounter with time, utilizing as much choice as has been given us to fill it with what is meaningful, instead of just what happens to be there.

To live life with the reality of our vapor-ness is an exercise in priorities; ours are simple. To truly live is to pursue truth, beauty, and goodness. We recognize these supreme virtues to be bound up in the person of YHWH, the Creator. Obviously, then, to pursue them is to pursue Him, to pursue Him is to pursue them. This belief contains a few consequences and assumptions:

  1. Truth, beauty, and goodness exist in objective, knowable forms. These three qualities are exemplified in the person of Jesus Christ and in His kingdom (the kingdom of the heavens).

  2. Truth will never contradict itself. Revealed truth (the Bible, in all its inerrant glory), and discovered truth (in science and all other explorations of what there is to know in the world) will never really disagree.

  3. Our search for the beautiful must be informed by the character of God, not just what is pleasant for our senses.

  4. The goodness of something is dependent on God's definition of what is good; something that He calls evil cannot be called good, and vice versa.

This is, of course, not an exhaustive list, but it should give you an idea of where we're coming from. Here is a short list of other potentially important background facts:

  1. We believe in the Bible as the revealed word of God.
  2. Our theology is informed by the Anabaptist tradition, specifically our upbringing and continued membership in the Mennonite church. However, other theological traditions have impacted our thinking to varying degrees and we recognize their value.
  3. Our higher education is in (generally speaking) Biblical studies (Marina) and science (Landon).
  4. We enjoy a good debate.

The purpose of this blog is to share what we find in our search. It might be a book or movie review, an essay on theology (or a research paper, if we're feeling ambitious), a commentary or question on recent events, a commentary or question on scripture, or whatever else our minds come up with. On any of these, we desire your interaction; questions, comments, and critiques are all welcome (just keep it civil). Marina is the voice of the blog, but the posts will inevitably come out of our life together. In the next week or two look for some questions on current events, a book review, and maybe a scientifically oriented guest post from Landon.