Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Let us not forgot the Savior of the World was born today, and he came to save us, the children, and the bunnies.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Many thanks to my home church in Alabama for the photo, which was not staged at all, I literally stumbled over it on my way to services.



Monday, December 19, 2011

Sluts, Schemers, And Other Shockingly Interesting Women Of The Bible #3 – Ruth

Disclaimer: I am doing this as a way to share what I learn about these gals. I’m not saying what I discover and write about here is the absolute truth about them. I’m not thinking I’m going to discover some revolutionary truth that nobody’s heard before, nor am I looking to start legalistic fights. This is more about me being curious and wanting to learn more about these gals, and saying “Here’s what I learned in my Bible readings today!”

Which One Is She?

She’s a Shockingly Interesting Woman Of The Bible for the sheer number of people who willfully choose to see her in the wrong light (a nice girl who obeys her mother in law)

Who Could Be Her Celebrity Counterpart?

Well, not that this person exists in real life, but I’m going with Sleeping Beauty. I’ll explain why later.













Ruth’s mother in law is Naomi.
And I’m gonna say she’s Susan Sarandon.
An older woman who’s plenty plenty sharp.

Where Is She In The Bible?

Ruth’s got her own book in the Bible, after Joshua and Judges in the Old Testament. (Lyle Lovett once named an album that – “Joshua Judges Ruth”)

What Did You Already Know About Her Before This?

I knew that she took care of her mother-in-law Naomi and wouldn’t leave her for anything, and she married her boss Boaz. And there was gleaning in the wheat fields. And she was talked up a LOT in Sunday School classes for being such a good daughter (in law) to Naomi.

So What’s the Story?

So Mother Naomi was married to Elimelech and had two sons, Mahlon and Kilion. Then Elimelech, Mahlon and Kilion all die, leaving Naomi and her two daughter in laws Ruth and Orpah alone and childless.

Which sounds sneakingly familiar to Tamar last week. In fact, if you choose to look the Bible through the eyes of its female characters, a lot of what the majority (but not all) of the Women Of The Bible do is formed around the questions Am I Married? And Do I Have Children?

Now Naomi, Ruth and Orpah (I’m just gonna call her Oprah and be done with it) are widowers and alone. There’s a famine in the land and Naomi’s heard there’s food in the land of Judah. But Ruth and Oprah are Moabites, and would be considered on the outs in Israel. Technically, Ruth and Oprah are supposed to stay with their mother-in-law, but Naomi says never mind, go back home to your families, you don’t have to take care of me.

There’s weeping and hugging and crying and Oprah finally says, “See ya!” and takes off, but Ruth refuses to leave her momsie, because, as Ch.1 verse 16 says, “…Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Essentially, Ruth is converting from her Moabite religion to throw in with Naomi’s Israelite heritage, all because she loves her momsie-in-law that much.

So Ruth and Naomi make it to Bethlehem, Naomi’s hometown. Ruth decides to go gleaning (picking up wheat left behind by the threshers, which is how poor people got food in that day) in the wheat fields. And she providentially lands in the fields of Boaz, who’s a distant relative of Naomi’s dead husband (fun fun fact, he’s also the son of Rahab, everyone’s favorite Prostitute Who Helped The Israelites!) So Ruth’s gleaning, Boaz sees her, and she’s a looker, so he goes to talk to her. Once he realizes she’s Ruth, the daughter-in-law of Naomi, and the one who converted to her mother-in-law’s religion though she didn’t have to, Boaz tells Ruth to only glean in his fields, he’ll make sure she and Naomi will have enough to eat, and the workers won’t touch her. So Ruth does so, and brings back a ton of wheat home to Naomi, where they make a bunch of bread (I’m guessing.)

So now Naomi is upping the game, and counsels Ruth to go get gussied up for Boaz, wait until he’s sleeping and “uncover his feet.” This could either mean

A) His feet.
B) His penis. (“Feet” was a euphemism for penis in OT times.)
C) Stella points out that there might be a mistranslation of the Hewbrew pronoun, and that Naomi is telling Ruth to uncover HER feet (either her feet feet or her lower half.)

Though I think it’d be really hard for Ruth to pull Boaz’s pants down and him not notice immediately. And in CH. 3v8, it indicates that “in the middle of the night, something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet.” You could argue that what startled the man was his Mr. Other Feet being uncovered, but the verses seem to indicate a passage of time between the uncovering and Boaz waking up. He could’ve been really drunk. STOP IT!

Anyhow, so off Ruth goes to get gussied up, waits until Boaz has had dinner and is asleep, goes down and uncovers whatever feet interpretation you want. Then, like any good housedog who’s allowed on the furniture, she lies at his feet and waits for him to wake up.

When he wakes up in the middle of the night, there’s a chick by his feet, or his Mister Other Foot, and he asks what’s up. Ruth then asks him to “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kindsman-redeemer.”

If you can believe it, this is apparently the OT female way of asking the guy “Will you marry me?” I KNOW! I can’t believe it, I didn’t even think chicks were allowed to ask guys to marry them in Biblical times. They can’t do anything else, really.

Anyhow, so Boaz says “yes, I’d love to, but you’ve got a closer kinsman-redeemer who’s got first right, let me go see what he thinks.”

Then there’s a subplot about the kinsman redeemer (kinda like James Cann In Godfather type, a relative you were supposed to turn to for help.) and Naomi selling land which also had Ruth’s hand in marriage attached, and the kinsman saying thanks, but no thanks, so Boaz steps in, buys Naomi’s land to give it back to her, and marries Ruth. Ruth has a son by Boaz, and the name him Obed, who’s the father of Jesse, who’s the father of King David, and on down the line we go until we get to Jesus. A lot of people like to mention the metaphor of Boaz as kinsmen redeemer to Ruth and Jesus as kinsmen redeemer to us, the human race. That’s all true, but not the focus of this particular entry.

What did you learn?

A few things:

NAOMI – THE MOTHER IN LAW THAT YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO MEDDLE IN YOUR LIFE AND RUTH – DISNEY PRINCESS ON THE OUTSIDE, SHOCKINGLY FORWARD ON THE INSIDE.

Naomi is quite the schemer. Naomi’s doing some furious matchmaking behind the scenes for Ruth and Boaz to meet (as opposed to the closer kinsmen redeemer that
Naomi must know about but decides wouldn’t be as good a match as Boaz.) Interestingly though, she doesn’t specifically tell Ruth to go to Boaz’ fields,
Ruth lands there on her own (though I suspect God had something to do with it.)

At first glance, I thought the Book of Ruth should’ve been called the Book of Naomi. At first glance, it seems like all Ruth does is obey. Which is an important lesson, sure, we all need to be more obedient.








But at first glance, everything’s kinda given to her. Which makes her Sleeping Beauty. A Disney princess.
Can I tell you that Sleeping Beauty is my favorite Disney Princess movie, 80 percent of it because of the artwork but 20 percent because Aurora doesn’t have to do jack squat. She pricks her finger on a spindle and falls asleep, and when she wakes up, all her problems are over – she’s inherited a kingdom, she’s got a good looking hubby, and the mortal enemy who wanted to kill her is dead. SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING! MAN!



But if you look at the Book of Ruth and let Sleeping Beauty fade into the background, you’ve got Naomi. A widower, lost both her sons, who’s seen and lived through such tragedy that when she gets back to her hometown, she tells everyone not to call her Naomi, but call her Mara, which means bitter, because “The Lord has afflicted me, the Lord has brought misfortune upon me.”

So how do you go from that mentality – the Lord has brought misfortune upon me – to plotting and scheming to get her daughter in law married to Boaz? I guess that even in your own pit of despair and depression, you don’t give up. The Book Of Ruth doesn’t tell us what Naomi was thinking, if she was praying to God, or if she picked herself up and dusted herself off and said enough, I’m getting us out of this mess.

BUT WAIT! THAT WAS FIRST GLANCE! WHAT DOES SECOND GLANCE REVEAL!

- Chapter 1 – Naomi tells Ruth to return to her homeland. Ruth refuses, saying she won’t leave Naomi.
- Chapter 2 – It’s Ruth’s initial idea to go glean in the fields.
- Chapter 3 - Naomi tells Ruth to go to Boaz’s threshing floor, wait until he’s asleep, uncover his feet, and Ch.3v4 “He will tell you what to do.” Ruth goes to the threshing floor, waits until Boaz is asleep, uncovers his feet, AND THEN SAYS “Spread the corner of your garment over me,” i.e. the marriage proposal. So Ruth wasn’t waiting for Boaz to tell her what to do, Ruth’s not waiting for a ring, she proposed HERSELF. HER IDEA. SHE PROPOSED TO A DUDE IN BIBLICAL TIMES! No wonder when she gets back to Naomi and tells her what happens, Naomi says Ch.3v18 “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens.” In other words, PUT ON THE BRAKES, KID!

That’s pretty shocking for someone I first thought was a do nothing Disney princess.

Also of note – Boaz is actually a gentleman. A gentleman in Biblical times. My theory is that he didn’t sleep with Ruth on the threshing floor, simply because there were other people there who would’ve probably heard them. And he insists on waiting until he straightens out the whole kinsman redeemer thing.

Yes, Virginia, there are gentlemen in the Bible. Maybe I’ll do a series on them later.

FInally, one of the smartest things you can do in life is make friends with people who are smarter than you. So I must give a shout out to Stella, who is again the Smartest Gal I Know When It Comes To The Bible, and gave me a huge assist on the research of this. Hi Stella! I hope that Mirabella is letting you sleep at night!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sluts, Schemers, And Other Shockingly Interesting Women Of The Bible #2 - Tamar In Genesis


Disclaimer: I am doing this as a way to share what I learn about these gals. I’m not saying what I discover and write about here is the absolute truth about them. I’m not thinking I’m going to discover some revolutionary truth that nobody’s heard before, nor am I looking to start legalistic fights. This is more about me being curious and wanting to learn more about these gals, and saying “Here’s what I learned in my Bible readings today!”

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Okay! Entry #2 in the SSSIW series! Here's Tamar (The Genesis version, not a daughter of King David.)

Which One Is She?
As we’ll soon see, Tamar is a Schemer. But not an evil schemer, a schemer by necessity, thanks to being surrounded by not-so-obedient guys.
Who Could Be Her Celebrity Counterpart?
I’m gonna say she’s Minka Kelly. Here she is.

Does she look like someone else you might’ve seen? This becomes important later.

Where Is She In The Bible?
Genesis chapter 38, verses 1 to 30.
What Did You Already Know About Her Before This?
I remember her vaguely as the one who had sex with her father in law. And that’s about it.
So What’s the Story?
Okay, so there’s Judah. Who’s Judah? He’s the fourth son of Jacob. He’s the one (with Reuben) who saved Joseph from being killed by his brothers for his Technicolor Dreamcoat by getting Joseph out of the well and sell him to Midianite merchants. While Joseph goes off to Egypt, gets sold into Pharaoh’s house and has lots of merry adventures there, the brothers go their own ways.
Judah breaks from the herd and gets married to a Canaanite gal named Shua. She gives birth to three sons – Er, Onan and Shelah. Since Er is the firstborn, he gets married first, to a gal named Tamar. Per verse 6b “But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight so the Lord put him to death.” What did Er, er, um, do? Bible never says. Er is here, Er is, er, gone.
In Biblical times, they had this wackadoo thing called Levirate marriage, where if you’re a dude, and your married brother dies and you’re still single, you’re supposed to sleep with your brother’s widow so she can get pregnant and bear a kid. Why is this? Because in Biblical times, if you were a chick, you were a second class citizen and a woman couldn’t inherit her husband’s property, only her children could. Additionally, if you’re a woman in Biblical times and you’re not a daughter, a wife or a mother, you don’t have any rights. Right now, Tamar is childless and a widow. So really, she’s screwed. Actually, she’s not, that’s the whole point here, she’s gotta GET screwed.
So here’s son number TWO! Onan! Onan, step up! If you’re a high school student in any kind of religious institution, you know Onan as, snigger, snigger, the one that “spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother.” So he’s the first official rhythm method dude. He doesn’t wanna get Tamar pregnant, not because it’s kinda gross to be sleeping with your brother’s wife (even though it is), but possibly because any kids from this union would be considered Er’s, not his. These Biblical times are so messed up on so many levels.
So then God kills Onan. BWAH! Thanks, God! That’s what you get for practicing the rhythm method! Ya-woooooooo!
Now there’s only one son left, Shelah. Instead of viewing God as Tamar’s bodyguard, killing anyone who doesn’t give her a kid, Judah is viewing Tamar as a pox upon his household. Judah thinks Tamar’s unlucky, as his sons keep dying around her. So Judah sends Tamar back to her father’s house to live until Shelah “grows up.”
Judah’s not only scared, he’s not obedient. According to Levirate custom, if Shelah’s too young, Judah can perform the obligation himself and get Tamar pregnant. But Judah refuses, possibly because it’s gross, possibly because Mrs. Judah’s still around (Not for long, but important to note that Mrs. Judah did not die because she didn’t have sex with Tamar, more likely because of old age. BWAH!) but more likely, Judah suspects Tamar has the VAGINA OF DEATH, and doesn’t wanna inflict whatever curse she’s got on himself.
But God WANTS Tamar pregnant in the worst possible way. Why? Because she’s going to be part of the bloodline that eventually produces Jesus, though nobody knows that yet.
Tamar herself is looking at her situation and knows she’s gotta get screwed and if Judah and his household are not gonna step up and be a man about it, she’ll roll up her scheming sleeves and get the job done herself.
Instead of last week’s Woman At The Well who would pick anybody, Tamar’s gonna play by the rules and get pregnant by Judah. She hears that Mrs. Judah has passed away, and that Judah is gonna travel to get his sheep sheared (not a metaphor, we’re talking literal sheep.)So she disguises herself as a temple prostitute and waits by the side of the road for him. Wackadoo Thing #2 in Biblical Times – it was considered culturally okay for a guy to “worship” at a temple by sleeping with a prostitute. They thought it would bring favor on the guy’s life – water for crops, good luck with the sheep (I don’t even wanna think about what that means), etc. etc. etc.
So Judah approaches Tamar, who he thinks is the Gossip Girl actress Leighton Meister. Because they look a lot alike! So alike it was a plot point in the movie The Roommate !
But since Tamar’s saying she’s a prostitute, there’s a security deposit involved. Well… I got goats! Nifty cool keen! Tamar says yeah, it’s gonna take something else, so Judah coughs up a seal, cord and staff, and off they go to the races. When Judah sends his servant back the next day to get the security deposit back, there’s a problem with the carpet, holes in the walls, the door is kinda off its hinges and no you’re not getting the security deposit back… NO! Tamar is GONE! GONE with the security deposit! The servant asks around, and everyone’s like, “Nope, there’s no Leighton Meister around here. We don’t know who you’re talking about.”
But it doesn’t matter. we have a winner in the Screwing Tamar Sweepstakes! Judah! Come on down!!! When Judah hears that Tamar is pregnant, he says YES! BONUS! SHE’S A SLUT AND I CAN BURN HER TO DEATH! YESSSSSSS! (seriously. It’s verse 24b)
But Tamar then shows up with the seal, cord, and staff and says these belong to the father of my child. Judah says, “Hey, those’re mine!” and realizes what’s happened.
To his credit, Judah doesn’t try to get out of it, but instead gives total bonus points to Tamar – “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” (verse 26) And though he doesn’t sleep with her again (bonus points to him, I guess), Tamar gives birth to twin boys named Zerah and Perez. Perez goes on to become a (bunch of greats) grandfather to Boaz, then King David, and ultimately Jesus Christ.
Whatchoo Thinking About?
Oooooh, boy. Where do I start!? That poor other son Shelah! Can you imagine him seeing all of this on the sidelines and thinking to himself, “there but for the grace of God (that my Dad’s not obeying) go I.” BWAH!

No, seriously. Here’s a fascinating thing:
Tamar sees her situation very clearly. She knows Judah is not doing right by her, (being disobedient to cultural practices and to God.) Her options, as a widow with no kids, are very limited. She’s probably thinking to herself, “I gotta do something. But what can I do?”
And she has no idea that God’s looking out for her, she has no idea that she has a very important part in God’s plan to bring about Jesus Christ.
The chapter doesn’t say anything about what she thought, only what she did. So we don’t know if she was praying to God saying, “I’m thinking I’m gonna do this. What do You this?”
Because that’s what modern day Christians are told to do all the time – You think you’ve got a plan? Tell God about your plan. Talk, discuss, sit and listen for His response. Don’t say “Here’s what I’m going to do, please prepare me and bless me for success.” It’s supposed to be, “Here’s the problem. Here are my options. Here’s what I’d LIKE to do, but I’d much rather do what YOU want me to do. Do you have an opinion on what you’d like me to do? Please feel free to share.”

Though Tamar’s discussion would have to have gone like “Father God in Heaven. I have to go trick my disobedient father-in-law into thinking I’m Leighton Meester when I’m really Minka Kelly. All so I can get pregnant.




This is a wackadoo plan, God. It involves weird sex by the side of the road, and trickery, and is this really my LIFE!? REALLY, GOD REALLY? IS THERE ANOTHER WAY THIS CAN HAPPEN?”
Meanwhile God’s up in heaven chuckling softly to himself, thinking, “My son Jesus is gonna say something really similar in the garden of Gethsemane…”
Holy crap, is that a breakthrough? Ahhhhh! Move down to the next question!
What Did You Learn?
Could the Bible be seen as a collection of stories about people who all said the same thing? I’LL DO THIS IF YOU WANT ME TO, GOD, BUT IS THERE ANOTHER WAY TO DO IT? NO!? WELL… GOSH… OKAY THEN! TRUSTING IN YOU AND YOUR WACKADOO PLAN!!!!!
I mean, take anybody from the Bible. I bet you they thought that at some point.
If you wanna break that down, anyone who’s asking that question thinks a few things.
There is a God.
He’s in charge of my life.
There’s this thing He wants me to do.
It sounds really wackadoo.
I really don’t wanna do it.
But because I trust God.
I’ll do it.
It will suck.
So I hope I get something out of being obedient. Like a pillow top mattress in heaven or something.
Well, I need to give a special shout out and thank you to Tamar. I don’t know that I would’ve reached the conclusion any other way. JJJ

Monday, December 05, 2011

Sluts, Schemers, And Other Shockingly Interesting Women Of The Bible #1 - The Woman At The Well

Hey everybody!


So the blog series I did for the month of January -- “Sarcasm In The Bible” went over like gangbusters, if my counter stats are to be believed.


Since we’re approaching Christmas, which I’ve never been sentimental about, and the Christmas story, which I’ve already examined from several angles (check the archives), I’ve decided to bust out another series. I think I’m calling it…


“Sluts, Schemers, And Other Shockingly Interesting Women Of The Bible.”


Because nothing says Christmas like that! :)


Now, let’s make one thing clear. I am doing this as a way to share what I learn about these gals. I’m not saying what I discover and write about here is the absolute truth about them. I’m not thinking I’m going to discover some revolutionary truth that nobody’s heard before, nor am I looking to start legalistic fights. This is more about me being curious and wanting to learn more about these gals, and saying “Here’s what I learned in my Bible readings today!” Because I’m betting there’s a lot more to them beneath the “Slut” surface.


You know how your pastor in your church will constantly exhort you to “Spend Time In The Word Every Day! It Will Change Your Life”? (Pastor Diet Slice said it for the ten thousandth time yesterday.)


This is how I’m spending time in the Word, Pastor Diet Slice. I’m praying before diving into the research. I’m asking God to meet me in the midst of my curiosity. Let’s see if anything changes.

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Sluts, Schemers, And Other Shockingly Interesting Women Of The Bible #1 – The Samaritan Woman At The Well.


Which One Is She?


Since this chickie was married and divorced five times, she’d probably fall in the Slut category. That’s probably what the town gossips called her.


Who Could Be Her Celebrity Counterpart?


Let’s say she’s the late great Elizabeth Taylor (married eight times.)



Where Is She In The Bible?


Only in one Gospel book - John 4: 1 – 42


What Did You Already Know About Her Before This?


That she was a town pariah, multiple divorcee and currently living with a guy who’s not her husband.


Everyone talked about her, nobody liked her, and she’d have to get water during the hottest part of the day because that’s the only time when nobody else was at the well. I imagine the modern day equivalent would be Elizabeth Taylor having to grocery shop at Ralph’s waaaaaaaaay in the Valley at, like 4am.


She was a Samaritan, a race that most everyone else in Biblical times looked down upon (see also The Good Samaritan, the only person who stopped to help someone in need while a priest and a Levite ignored the person in need.)


Jesus talked to her by himself. You know what that means? JESUS MET WITH A WOMAN IN PRIVATE! (the disciples don’t show up until verse 27.) Why is this important? Because even today in modern times, throw a stick and you will hit a pastor who refuses to meet with a woman for lunch, for counseling, for anything one on one. Meet with a guy one on one? Sure, no problem. Meet with a woman? Nope, it’s inappropriate. People will talk. Even though Jesus did it, and we’re called to be like Jesus. Except in this particular instance. “Because people will talk.” Whatever.


What’s up with the Samaritans? Why did everyone hate them?


Oh gosh. You guys, I just lost about 45 minutes of my life trying to understand the geographical boundaries of Manasseh and Ephraim, and Jews vs. Samaritans vs Assyrians and when did the Babylonian Exile start, and I feel my enthusiasm for learning about SSSIW (Sluts, Schemers, and Shockingly Interesting women) fading away. Blarg


In short, I THINK the tensions came primarily from Samaritans claiming they had the one authentic site of worshipping God – their temple on Mount Gerizim, as opposed to the temple in Jerusalem. There could have been things like Samaritans being a mixed race resulting from foreigners marrying Israelites, and there’s a tiny possibility (via 2 Kings Ch. 17) that some Samaritans did things like worshipping idols and child sacrifices in addition to worshipping Regular God. So yeah, lots of crap going on.


Of course, there’s zippo to indicate what the Woman At The Well practiced in terms of her Samaritan religion before she bumped into Jesus. Pretty sure she didn’t have any kids, or else they would’ve been mentioned. THAT DOESN’T MEAN SHE SACRIFICED THEM!


Oh God, we’re so off track. Ahem.


Why Wouldn’t The Guy She’s Currently Shacking Up With Marry Her?


Dunno. Maybe the guy mentality of Why Buy The Cow When You Get The Milk For Free existed back then. Unless they sacrificed the cow. Along with the kids. KIDDING! GOD, I’M SO KIDDING!


Whatchoo Thinking About?


Woman At The Well (has the face of Elizabeth Taylor) probably thought this was going to be the rest of her life – a life of shame. A life of people gossiping about her. A life of regret, of broken relationships and really bad choices that she’d never be able to shake. Maybe she thought her current guy would marry her, and thus maybe she’d gain maybe two percent more respect. Maybe she thought her current dude would take her away from this place and they’d go live somewhere else. It’s easy to forget that back in Biblical times, women, especially ones who got divorced a bunch of times, didn’t have a any freedom, which is why they needed to be married – because the man had the power, and the woman didn’t.


Anyhow, so WATW might have thought that this was going to be her life for the rest of her life – no escape, no way out, no forgiveness.


And I’m just guessing here, which is all anyone can do – that she probably condemned herself far more than anyone outside of her could do. Isn’t that how shame usually works? We beat ourselves up worse than anyone else could? Because you can eventually get away from other people. You can’t get away from yourself.


Why did Jesus ask the Woman At The Well for a drink? Why didn’t he get it himself?


What, is our Lord and Savior so exhausted from the heat that he can’t get the damn water himself? NO! (and he doesn’t have a jar, verse 11 says so.)


Jesus is supposed to be at the well (BY HIMSELF, I’m sorry, I’m not letting that go) to meet the Woman, to change her life, to knock her out of her life of self hatred and condemnation.


She’s shocked:


1 – Apparently Jews didn’t directly address women they didn’t know.


2 – Jews wouldn’t speak to Samarians, even if they happen to be traveling through Samaria.


3. If Jesus drank from the Samaritan Woman’s jar, he’d be considered ritually unclean, because she, by virtue of being a Samaritan, is unclean.


I can’t help but think somewhere in the back of her mind, there’s probably a gleeful voice jumping up and down saying, I’M NOT THE FREAKY ONE NOW! I’M NOT THE FREAKY ONE NOW! HEY, EVERYBODY! COME LOOK AT NUMERO UNO FREAK… and then realize that nobody’s there at the well to witness this except for her and Jesus. Heh.


Then we go through the standard verses that anyone who’s spent any significant time in a church has heard at some point or another “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst…” and she says, “Sir, give me this water….” And “You are right when you say you have no husband…. You have had five husbands and the man you now have is not your husband…” WATW says she knows that the Messiah is coming, Jesus says DAT’S ME!!! All the greatest hits of this story in those verses.


Then the merry band of disciples show up with lunch. I love this part, verse 27 “… But no one asked ‘What do you want’ or ‘Why are you talking with her?’” There you go, modern church. If the disciples didn’t question why Jesus was alone with a woman, then a pastor should be able to meet one on one with a woman. Let it go already.


So WATW is so spooked/stoked by what Jesus has said that she leaves the water jar behind as she “went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” You gotta love how she words it. She KNOWS Jesus is the Christ, he just told her. But she’s playing dumb so that the others will come out to see for themselves. She’s super cagey, because it could’ve gone this way –


WATW runs through the neighborhood, finding any and everybody in town that she can.


WATW – “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.”


TOWNSPEOPLE - “Um, yeah, EVERYONE knows what you did. We talk about you behind your back constantly.”


What did you learn?


If you’re doing a sermon on this, you usually focus on the “living water” stuff and “Sir, give me this water…” And how Jesus is extending his grace and love and forgiveness to this town outcast, that he doesn’t care what her backstory is, he’ll love and forgive her anyway. That’s basic Christian 101 stuff.


Most people would stop paying attention around verse 30, after the townspeople come out to see Jesus, because the disciples get all up in Jesus’ grill, saying he’s gotta eat something and Jesus throws out metaphors about harvests and sowers and reapers and la la laaaaaa.


But if you keep going to verse 39, you get this: “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’”


I think it’s more interesting that Jesus used an outcast to bring people to faith. Not just an outcast of society, but a CHICK outcast. So in Biblical Times, that’s like an outcast time two, heh.


Once again, Jesus uses the least likely of people to draw more people to him. Not the proper people, not the powerful people. Not the people that were doing everything right. But he uses a person who had done EVERYTHING wrong. Because nobody is so wrong that God couldn’t use them if He needed to. I SO dig that about God.


It doesn’t go on to say what happened to WATW after the townspeople believed her about Jesus. I’d like to think that the guy she was living with finally made an honest woman out of her, and that they followed Jesus throughout the rest of his travels in the New Testament. Because even former sluts deserve a happy ending.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Snoozeathon

What do you do when you're bored with your church?


I feel bad. We're a young church, only six years old. I've been here since the beginning.


I'm committed to this church. I tithe 10 percent, I volunteer once a month. I've done plenty of small groups, I was the one who started blood drives at this church. I've been here long enough to see pastors come and go. I know most of the staff. I've met a lot of great friends at this church. I like going, for the most part.


And yet I'm bored.


Why? I'm not learning anything.


One of the reasons I like my church is because they take their time. If we say we're studying the book of say, Ecclesiastes, then we're going to STUDY it. We're going maybe six to ten verses at a time in a two month study. I dig that about my church, so much more than any other church where they decide on a theme and then cherry pick verses to go around that theme, ignoring context and historical cultural themes.


And yet lately, the sermon series is not interesting to me, because it’s not really digging into the context of what was written, not like they usually do and the topics haven’t been interesting for six weeks, which is a long time to be bored.


Maybe this is something all Christians go through - when the bliss of Hey, I'm Learning NEW STUFF wears off, and it's back to Advent season for Christmas. Again. Sigh.


Maybe my church is defining itself as the perfect church for newbie Christians trying to suss out what it means to be a Christian in today's world. But if you're not a newbie Christian, if you're interested in having conversations in small groups examining all sorts of viewpoints, even if they're controversial, and you're met with a resounding silence, what do you do?


A couple of months ago in a small group, I pointed out that on Paul's famous list o' These People Will Not Inherit The Kingdom Of God (1st Corinthians 6), homosexuality was the only sin that didn't actually cause harm to another person (assuming the gay sex is consensual, because if it wasn’t, it’d be rape.) And I was met with a sea of blank faces. Nobody wanted to talk about it, nobody wanted to discuss it.


Nobody wanted to have a discussion about how homosexuality in Biblical times might have been considered wrong because Biblical times was all about the family, to make sure you had a family to help you tend the fields, take care of the house and each other, how God's chosen people's most important goal in those times was to PROCREATE to ensure their survival, and you couldn't do that as a gay couple and how in modern times, that need is no longer relevant so maybe all this sturm and drang towards gay and lesbians is... oh I don't know... ANTIQUATED? Nobody wants to talk about that. It’s as if they’re all too scared to really examine their faith.


Sigh. This is why I didn't bother signing up for another small group this season.


I do like my church, and I like the friendships I've made in it. But if I'm not learning anything new, if the idea of engaging conversation and different viewpoints isn't peeping up, then what do I do? Do I move on? Does that make me a fair weather churchgoer, only wanting to stick around for the entertainment factor?


I don't wanna be entertained, I want to LEARN.


If I find my church lacking, is it my fault for not trying harder to engage myself with it? To search search and search among the congregation and find people who DO want to talk, who DO want to engage. Do I write a mildly-written letter to Pastor Diet Slice saying this recent sermon series is a snoothathon? Should I come up with my own series of something, not sermons, because I haven’t been to pastor school, but topics of conversation, like how we examined sarcasm in the Bible earlier this year?


Do I become my own teacher? I mean, I’ll do it if I have to, but there’s a sadness about it. Or exhaustion. One of the two.


Something to ponder…

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dogs Have Overrun The Blog

Oh you guys. Someday I’ll go back to talking about God n’ stuff. I promise you I will.


But I just finished up dogsitting seven dogs in the span of ten days. I’m tired, my clothes are covered in doghair, and my landlords haven’t taken their laundry out of the washer yet.

I guess I could always pull out the cheeseball God And Dog metaphors.


Should I do that? How ‘bout I pretend I’m a religious copywriter for those hella cheesy cards you find at quasi-religious bookstore in the South? That might be work. Let’s see:


This is Edwin the Domino Face Dog. He belongs to besties Nick and Nora. He’s doing his best shepherd impersonation because he had to go walking in the rain (he’s an apartment dog.) He was so so excited to go outside, even though I tried to prep him that he was not really going to like it once he got out there. But he would not be denied (who would, really, when you gotta pee, you gotta pee.)


And then we got out in the rain and though I tried to keep him under the umbrella, he didn’t get the concept, and kept getting rained on, and he cut his own walk down by half because he was wetter than wet.


So if we put him on the cover of one of those sappy religious cards, I think this one would go under the category I Told You So. KIDDING! It would be a Get Better Soon card.


Heard you’re a little under the weather.

Shoulda stayed under God’s umbrella.

Now you’re covered in sin.


GAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! THAT’S NOT RIGHT AND ALSO THEOLOGICALLY INCORRECT! MOVING ON!


After five days with Edwin, it was back to the Beagle House, for three days with Bella, Bonnie, and Babs.


If only a picture could adequately convey how loud Bella snores. Next time I’m getting audio.


Babs the cocker spaniel is adorable as always. The interesting thing about her is that she never wants to sit near my feet, but she doesn’t wanna be too far away either. I’m still missing Ginger Puppy terribly, and when I’m in a room with a dog, there’s that subconscious expectation they’ll sit by my feet while I’m writing, because that’s what Ginger Puppy did. Babs is not like that. She wants to be close, but not too close. So her card would be in the Thinking Of You section.


I’m thinking of you.

Not getting in your way.

Unless you go to the kitchen, and then I’m all about tripping you.


GAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! MOVING ON!


Then it was two nights with my Pasadena clients. Sleepy, the yellow lab, Slappy the wire haired terrier mix, and Dolly Parton, the Brindle Bouvier. There’s also Gunther the parrot, but he scared the crap out of me, so no pictures of him.


Slappy wouldn’t stop jumping around for me to grab a picture of him, but here’s Sleepy on the couch with me. How simple and easy the comfort is to have a dog next to you – sitting on your feet, or sitting on the couch, or lying next to you on the bed. This would be one of those Just Because cards.

Just Because…

there’s a sheet on the couch

And you’re nice to snooze next to

So I’ll leave you a pound of my hair on your clothes

By the way, what’s up with those blue socks?



MOVE ON MOVE ON MOVE ON!


Dolly Parton, the Brindle Bouvier, is a little disconcerting when you first meet her. She’s basically the size of a small Shetland pony (pictures cannot do her justice) and her eyes look disturbingly human. Like some goblin zapped her in the enchanted forest and turned her into this dog. And if only I knew how to break the curse. It’s not sloppy kisses, she’s given me plenty of those. It’s not waltzing around the kitchen on her hind legs, we’ve done that too.

So this category would be…







I’M HAPPY! I’M HAPPY AND I’M HAPPY AND I’M HAPPY!

LOOK INTO MY EYES! YOU WILL BE HAPPY TOO!

FREEEEEEEEEE MEEEEEEEEEEE!




Okay! So basically, we’ve established that I may be a decent writer, but I would suck as a religious greeting card writer. Good to know. Crossing that off my list.

Monday, November 07, 2011

I Actually Prayed This Prayer This Week

(I'm not proud about it, but I am honest about it)

Dear God,

I lift up to you this car in front of me. Not that I literally lift this car in front of me. Because I'm not that strong.

But I do metaphorically lift up to you this car in front of me. It was behind me, uncomfortably close, then zoomed around me, and now has cut me off in L.A. traffic.

Dear God, please please please be with the driver of this car. Please grant him patience, patience, and more patience.

Please let him be on time to whatever it is he's driving recklessly toward, because he's driving very fast for SOME reason.

Please grant him some measure of caution. Please grant him some measure of safety. Please open up his reservoir of generosity to encompass everyone else on the freeway.

And please grant him confidence. It must not be easy to have a small penis, but that flashy car is overcompensating for something.

Please grant him a bigger penis if it makes him a safer driver. It may take a miracle, but You are the God of miracles. If You are willing, You can do anything. So I pray that You are willing to help this poor poor man. You will be saving lives in the process.

In Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Alabama has color

I was in Alabama over the weekend, saying hi to Great Stoic Wonder, who I’m officially renaming as the Great Cancer Fighting Cowboy (Stoic Is Implied) and Phone Harpy Mommy.


I can’t remember the last time I was in Alabama when it wasn’t Christmas, and therefore I was stunned to see all the trees turning color.











Brilliant color.












These aren’t the best pictures, since they’re from a moving car, and also on my iPhone, but you get the general idea.










And just when I think I’m ready to claim being an Alabamian again, I see something idiotic like this in the airport gift shop.











Sigh. Two steps forward, three poop steps back.



Monday, October 24, 2011

Once Is Enough

You know what I find myself doing a lot of these days? Repeating prayers. Repeating prayers for my dad, repeating prayers for my friends, repeating prayers for myself.


I can try and blame it on my short term memory, which is definitely going (I’d rather my memory than, say, my eyesight.)


A lot of my time has been consumed lately with Striped Tiger. Last Monday found me in the conference room of a mid-sized talent agency, guzzling free Diet Coke, and pitching an hour long TV version of Striped Tiger.


Striped Tiger started as my first full length play, then I turned it into a feature length script. Last Monday I and two producers went into the conference room with an hour long version. Walking into an agency conference room is something I haven’t done before in my career, and so I asked for lots and lots of prayer ahead of time.


And driving down there, I kept repeating over and over again, please be with me, God. Please be with me, God. Please give me wisdom and discernment. Please let me personable and knowledgeable. And no matter what the outcome is, give me the grace to accept it. Even if it’s not what I hoped for.


Over and over and over again. Please be with me, God. Please be with me, God.


Until at one point, I had to stop and ask myself. “Why am I repeating myself? What, do I think that God didn’t hear me the first time?”


Why do we endlessly punch the elevator button? The crosswalk button? Why do we endlessly repeat the same prayer? Why do priests give out penance in the form of multiple Hail Marys? Is there comfort in the repetition? Like maybe God wouldn’t have granted the prayer UNLESS I said it ten times? I only said it nine, so nope, no go?


Of course it doesn’t work that way. But for a split second, it felt like it.


I pray repeatedly when I don’t know what else to say, so I just say the same thing over and over again, like a verbal security blanket. God heard me the first time. But I didn’t believe it the first time.


The problem isn’t me worrying God didn’t hear me. The problem is that I don’t believe that praying once is enough. I’ve got to believe in the power of my own prayer. And that once is enough.


We came out of the conference room with the order to make Striped Tiger a half hour show. My joke is that the only format left from here on out are five minute webisodes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the next order.


And as I drove back through the city to work, jacked up on free Diet Coke, all I could think of was an endless string of prayer:


Thank you God, thank you. Thank you God, thank you. Thank you God, thank you.


Once is enough. More makes me feel better, but once is enough.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Am A Christian.

I Am A Christian.

This Is What I Believe.

I believe Jesus Christ Is My Personal Lord And Savior.

I will talk to you if you want to ask me what I believe.

If you ask me if I believe, I will be honest and say yes, I do.

But I’m not gonna shove my religion down your throat.

I’m not about changing your mind.

I’m about living my life in a way that makes you want to ask me how I do it.

And I’ll say it’s a combination of caffeine, tequila, sheer force of will and discipline…

…but mostly God.

I wouldn’t be here without Him.

Everything I have is because of Him.

My imagination, my writing skills, my personal point of view.

My family, my friends, every open door, every closed door.

Everything I have is because of God.

Because I Am A Christian.

This is what I believe:

I believe in God.

I believe in gay rights.

I believe in a woman’s right to choose.

I believe a woman can teach, lead, and pastor a church.

I believe that everyone has the right to their own opinion.

It’s not headline making.

It’s not flashy.

But there’s a lot of us out here.

And we’re so reasonable, we don’t make front page news.

I Am A Christian

I’ve never seen Passion Of The Christ

And I don’t intend to.

I know the story, I know what happens.

I Am A Christian

My favorite movie is Blade Runner.

My next favorite movies are Fight Club, Seven, and Heathers.

I lean towards the dark side, but I write on the humorous side.

(And I like Muppets too.)

I Am A Christian.

I swear like a sailor and I drink like a fish.

I believe in heaven.

I also believe in the devil.

(you can’t really have one without the other.)

I Am A Christian.

I only say “I’ll pray for you” if I know hearing that makes you feel better.

(the rest of the time, I’m still praying for you, I’m just not saying it to your face.)

I don’t raise my hands when we’re singing songs in church.

Half the time I’m not singing.

But I’m still standing up.

Because I Am A Christian.

And I go to church even when I don’t feel like it.

Even when I’m pissed off at God.

(which is a lot lately)

I show up.

Woody Allen says 80 percent of success is showing up.

So I show up.

I stand in the aisles and I don’t raise my hands during the songs, and I don’t sing, but I’m there.

(I also tithe 10 percent)

Because I Am A Christian

I get pissed with God.

I shout and scream and metaphorically throw things.

Sometimes I drop the F bomb in His general direction.

And He still loves me.

So I don’t turn my back on Him.

Even if I don’t hear Him.

Even if He doesn’t talk to me.

It doesn’t mean He’s not there, or that He doesn’t care.

It means I’ll understand later.

I’m not getting out of the ring.

God’s gonna have to do something with me, because I’m not getting out of the ring.

I am all of this and so much much more.

I Am A Christian.

And This Is What I Believe.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Hops

The last time I hung out with Basil Diva Dog and Ginger Puppy in July and August, there was a full moon on one of the nights during my stay. It shone through the window in the master bedroom, and bathed a patch of floor with nifty moonlight. Ginger Puppy liked it so much she decided to sleep there (she also could catch the breeze coming through.) And it was so lovely I decided to join her on the floor with a pillow for a little while. Amy and Ginger Puppy, sleeping in a patch of moonlight. Which is where we stayed until Basil Diva Dog woke us both up with a start with his very loud knocking around trying to get out of his crate.

I visited Ginger Puppy on Sunday at the animal hospital. I had noticed that she wasn’t eating much during the last few days of my stay with her in August, and alerted her daddies Albert and Abbot that they may want to take her to get a check up. This was how we found out that she had what was eventually diagnosed as IMHA (immune mediated hemolytic anemia.)

How does this happen? How does my father go from a routine colonoscopy to Stage IV colon cancer in the space of a month? How does my favorite dogsitting client go from her loveable self to a softly trembling lump on a pink blanket in an exam room with a feeding tube up her nose and shaved patchy fur in the space of two months? She’s only seven and a half. Her aloof anti-snuggling brother is 14, poops every five minutes, has no idea where he is and he’s still here.

And alas, Ginger Puppy is not. I got the call today. I was the first person they called about it.

When her daddies invited me to come visit her on Sunday, I knew what was up. Though they said I was under no pressure, I knew that it would likely be the last time I would see her. All three of us took turns lying on her pink blanket with her in the exam room, angling our faces so she could see us without having to raise her head. We kissed her dry nose, we stroked her paws, we rubbed her ears. We got so excited when she drank a bowl of water. We cheered when we got a wag of a tail. We told her she was beautiful. We told her she was loved. We told her over and over again that she was loved, loved, loved so much.

I loved Ginger Puppy like she was my own. She was my favorite, not because she wasn’t any trouble (she didn’t eat my shoes, she didn’t snore to rattle the windows, she didn’t think she was a bird, she didn’t smell like pee) But because she was the very definition of love. She loved people. Other dogs, not so much. But people. PEOPLE! People were AWESOME!

She was a snugglemonster. How many nights were spent in the media room, with her resting again my leg while we watched movie after movie after movie? I always eschewed the leather chair with motorized footrest and cup holder so I could sit on the floor so she could be next to me, because she wasn’t allowed on the furniture.















How many mornings did I wake up and see her asleep on a towel next to the bed, so she could be right there when I woke up?















How many late nights did I jump in the hottub and drink and talk/screamed/wailed to God while she sat on the second step and patiently waited for me to come out?















How many times did I write in the office while she sat on my toes?



The Ginger Puppy post over in the Hall of Fame section has gone around the world and then some. It’s by far the most popular post on this blog. This entry continued her saga, so if I’m a writer, if I’m a proper bookender, I know what comes next.

I don’t want to write it, tears are streaming down my face as I type this out. But I have to complete the story. The story that’s true, the story that will continue to be true. The story where I play the role of God and Ginger Puppy plays the role of all of you.

But I’m not going to set it against the animal hospital backdrop. I’m not going to set it against the last time I saw her, labored breathing, brown eyes, and one wag of a tail.

I’m going to set it in that patch of moonlight, where me and her were stretched out on the floor, where she was healthy and happy and snuggly. And the moonlight was dreamy and silvery and nobody was in any pain at all.

--------------------

Will it hurt?

I don’t think so, little one. I’ll do my best to make sure it doesn’t.

And you won’t leave me?

Absolutely not. Not for a single second.

I don’t understand why it had to go this way. Why couldn’t my leg have healed? Why did this immune mediated whatever show up? Why am I going so soon? I’m seven and a half. My brother is practically twice as old. Why can’t I stay as long as he can?

I wish I could tell you. I really really wish I could.

I like it here. I like my daddies and my friends. I like you.

I like you too, Ginger Puppy. But where I’m taking you, you’ll be happy. You won’t have any trouble with your leg anymore. You’ll be able to run around and eat what you want and jump on all sorts of furniture.

WHAT!?!? I get to jump on a couch!?!?

A thousand couches, and chairs and beds and all sorts of stuff.

I’m not supposed to jump on the furniture!

But you can where we’re going. You can even sleep on a real live BED.

That sounds AMAZING!

Yep. It will be.

Will I still be able to snuggle next to somebody?

Absolutely. There’s going to be all sorts of new people to meet, and they’re going to love you just as much as you were loved here.

It sounds fun. But I gotta admit, I’m a little nervous.

Jus trust me, little one. Just trust me. I am not leaving you for a single second. I’ll be with you the entire time.

Well… okay. But can we sit in the moonlight just a little while longer?

Sure we can, Ginger Puppy. Absolutely we can.

--------------------

Ginger Puppy was my favorite. Her real name was Hops.