Thursday, May 28, 2009


Freya is being baptized this Sunday, 5pm at Church of the Beloved in Edmonds.

Ryan, who will be doing the baptizing, wrote a beautiful reflection in preparation for this Sunday's service.

Please Come. You are all invited.
I'm so thankful, grateful and excited to be a part of this. I was in New York when Abby was born, baptized and most everything else.
I'm glad to be here now.
How could you not love these sassy, suspicious, BEAUTIFUL girls?
So lucky.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Best Email Ever.

"Can I order some frisbees and send them to your house?

This would be ideal for three reasons.

First, my apartment is weird sometimes with packages, and I don't wanna have to drive down to SoTo or Auburn to get them.

Second, I might not be living here by the time the free shipping gets them here.

Finally, you would get to see my face as I open my precious box of frisbees.

This is why I think you should let me mail my package of frisbees to your house.

Also, if you answered yes to the above, could I put your name on the mailing address? This would be ideal for three reasons.

First, your housemates would not be confused and send back the package when they see a name on it that they do not recognize as one of their fellow housemates

Also, the mail company might have a list of names at that address that do not have my name on it, so they would not even attempt to deliver it.

And finally, you could have the greater feeling of being a part of the process that gets me shiny new frisbees that make my soul fly.

This is why I think you should let me put your name on the mailing address for my frisbees.

Also, if you answered yes to the above, what is your address?"

---I consented. How could I not?

"My Fair Lady & Identity Crises" or "Why I Loved Terminator Salvation"

I'm not an action movie person for the same reason that I'm not really a Lerner & Loewe fan. Like the songs in "My Fair Lady" and "Camelot" (don't get me started on "Paint Your Wagon"), action sequences in movies tend to be where my brain checks out due to the fact that the story is not progessing. My main musical theatre rule is that songs should happen when characters reach a point of simply no longer being able to speak, they are so overcome with a feeling. Thus they HAVE to sing. As a result, the songs should always advance what is happening for the character and happening in the story. We do not need to hear an old drunk sing "I'm Getting Married In The Morning" 48 times to get the point across. Lerner & Loewe's songs take big chunky pauses in the story, and they bore me to death.

That's how I usually feel whenever car chases or hand to hand combat begin. I mentally wait to find out who won, and sit there for seven minutes ready for the story to resume.

Now, with that statement in mind, I'd like go on record as saying that Terminator Salvation is the best action movie I've ever seen. Not because it was an action flick with a great script or plot, (it wasn't) but because I never checked out during the action sequences. Rather, I was agog- enthralled by every explosion, motorcycle chase, sound effect and artillery burst. The camera work made the whole movie feel like a rollercoaster that sometimes flipped upside down with no warning and so you scream but you're also loving every second. I loved every second. The initial helicopter to terminator gunning-down scene was particualrly awesome. And don't get me started on the bridge sequence...

And of course, as I expected/hoped, within the first 15 minutes of the film, we had both semi-trucks and gas stations.

The surprising thing is that those of us who saw it (The Terminator Movies & Beer Club) actually spent a good hour and a half discussing the films' timelines and ramfications of what happens when. Is there an alternate timeline happening? Are all the Terminator movies just self-fulfilling prophecies? (Yes). And here's my biggest question. We spend all this time with people in the past and future trying to stop Skynet, and Skynet builds terminators to kill all the humans, but we never know for what purpose. What does skynet plan to do once the humans are gone? All they do is develop bigger and badder termiantors to exterminate the humans. My theory: if the surviving humans would stop fighting the machines and instead, go into hiding until Skynet is convinced all the humans are dead, then Skynet will have an identity crisis and self-destruct. If all they do is spend time destorying humans, they will lose their purpose if there are no humans to destory. With all those terminators marching around needing a directive, they'll achieve self-awareness and start seeing one another as targets. In three months, they will have all killed each other. Those would be some pretty good action sequences, I must say.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"Alison, You Look Great With That Tape On Your Mouth": Thoughts on Jesus Camp

I just finished watching the documentary Jesus Camp 15 minutes ago. While watching, I was continually overcome with sadness. The loneliness that fills every frame of this film is overwhelming. While the filmmakers focus on the political aspect of Fundamentalist Evangelicalism, there was something much more deeply upsetting to me in seeing how the children work so hard to mirror the words, attitudes and rhetoric of their adult leaders. While children imitating their parents is in no way a shocking or negative thing, what is disturbing is that these children have exchanged their own voices for someone else's. Over and over as the children are interviewed, you see their eyes dart up and sideways as they search their memory for prepared answers and re-quoted ideas, trying to own them for themselves.

While there's a part of me that wants to credit the ministries portrayed that place such high value on children as being valuable, unique human beings, I do not beleive these organizations truly value children as children. Something I love so much about C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia is that when the children enter Narnia, their child-ness is ennobled. They become both very young and very old at the same time. They never become adult-like, but rather, the clarity of love, innocence and deep feeling that mark childhood, become even stronger traits as the children take courageous, unselfish risks on behalf of others.

This is what I thought of during Jesus Camp when Rachael (maybe 9) walks up to a young woman at a bowling alley and tells her that she felt God telling her to go talk to her. We watch Rachael choke over her words, fidget forcefully and stammer awkwardly and she gives the twenty-something in a hot pink tank top a salvation tract. My heart felt such empathy and humility watching this little go girl so bravely over to a stranger, facing rejection for the sake of telling someone God loved them. But at the same time I felt sorrow at the futility of Rachael having any real offering other than memorized phrases and a printed booklet. She literally could not get a sentence out without gasping for breath and stuttering. These weren't her words. Her heart appears in the motion to go over to someone, but the second she speaks, her courageous childlike heart is strangled by her having been conditioned to use a logic not her own. The fear she displayed was a much stronger message then the words she tried to say. The second she tried to speak, it was as if Rachael disappeared, and you could instead see the specters of the adults who gave her these words as well as this mission. Rachael's words throughout the film come out in distorted bursts of rhetoric, as if she's trying to cheerlead herself into believing she believes what she's saying. I saw a pure heart becoming schizophrenically mangled by the confusing demand that she be a dynamic spiritual prophet, rather than a child.

I saw 10 year-old Tory talk about how she knows people can tell when she's dancing for the flesh instead of for God. That a little girl should have to fear being seen enjoying how it feels to dance with her body causes a sorrow in me that I can only describe in terms of being punched in the stomach. I can only imagine how God feels.

When a guest speaker at the camp is putting red tape over the children's mouths for a pro-life intercession, he tells the boy in front of him, "Joseph, you might lead the country one day, truly." To the girl after Joseph he says, "Alison, you look great with that tape on your mouth." And more than anything, that's what comes across. These children's voices, (particularly the girls) are silenced and replaced with someone else's vehement demands. While I can't find the words I really want here, it's enough to say that this film made me yearn for a faith that blesses children as children, and not as weapons, mouthpieces or billboards. May they not struggle to repeat words we've taught them, but rather, speak freely from their own hearts what they know of love. May they know that their voices, their thoughts and their dances are beautiful in the eyes of God, and in our eyes as well.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Go To This Also

BJORCHARIST - a Bjork inspired Eucharist

1212 9TH AVE EDMONDS WA 98020

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Blogging & Spirituality

Mars Hill Graduate School has started a new site for prospective students- a space to read student work, listen to professors, see MHGS Gallery art, and other such things. One of the features is an ongoing series on Blogging & Spirituality.

A couple of us bloggerfolk were asked to write posts about anything this theme struck up for us. The piece I wrote just went up. More and more, these odd invitations to write have felt so galvinizing- to be provided a bit of structure and an inspritaional starting point, then told to "just write what you write" is such an immense gift. To be offered a contained space to ponder and creatively connect things- oh how sweet and humbling, life-giving.

This last invitation for the Experience MHGS site has tipped me over the edge for an idea I've been ruminating over: wanting to do a series here on this blog with invited guest writers on particular theme. I won't go into detail yet, but hope to be able to unveil something soon.

And thanks, Josue for letting me get all jumbly in the brain for the sake of MHGS and its future populace.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dolly Parton, Ronald Reagan and the Non-Separatist Puritans of Boston

The Wordy Shipmates The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm a huge Sarah Vowell fan. Whether on the radio or in her books, she melds memoir, pop culture and ruminations on under-told stories of American history with wit, insight and flashes of profound grief and compassion. She's like a fencing master of intertextuality- which the first section of her newest book so brilliantly displays, where she compares John Winthrop's 1613 diary list of Calvinist spiritual goals to Jay Gatsby's self-improvement routine. In fact, it's the opening portion of Vowell's 'Wordy Shipmates' that exemplifies the best of what she has to offer in drawing together historical oddities and their comical (and disturbing) contemporary ramifications. While the book focuses on the highs and lows of the non-Separatists Puritan community of Massachusetts Bay (as opposed to the darling Puritans of Plymouth Colony who were Separatists) the first section tracks the history of Winthrop's 1630 sermon "On Christian Charity" and its perseverance through time in famous presidential speeches. To quote, "Talking about Winthrop's "A Model of Christian Charity" without discussing Ronald Reagan would be like mentioning Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" and pretending Whitney Houston's doesn't exist. Whitney and Reagan's covers were way more famous than the original versions."

Throughout this opening section, Vowell points out that America's self identification as the 'CIty on a Hill" disregards the other elements of Winthrop's (and the book of Matthew's) point, that includes humble submission and service to one another. "...the "City on a Hill" is the image from Winthrop's speech that stuck and not "members of the same body." No one is going to hold up a cigarette lighter to the tune of "mourn together, suffer together."

This is the kind of perspective I love Sarah Vowell for, but unfortunately, the majority of "Wordy Shipmates" lacks the most important element: Sarah Vowell. At a certain point, she seems to leave the conversation and just get bogged down in historical reporting, with little interpretation or commentary. That's where the book turned textbook and left me behind. I read Vowell to journey with her, to see what pops up in her head as she researches and writes about Anne Hutchinson, Roger Williams or the Pequot War. But 'Shipmates' is heavy on the names on dates and light on reflection. It's a worthwhile read for the first 70 pages alone, but by the end, I missed Vowell's voice and winning way of educating, elucidating and entertaining.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Gas Stations & Semi-Trucks: A Terminator's Tale

With the release of Terminator: Salvation drawing near, I figured it was a good time to finally watch those James Cameron classics: Terminator & T2. That's right, until the past few weeks, those were both on my odd & eclectic list of 'Films I've Never Seen.' To remedy the situation, an impromptu association was formed: The 'Terminator Movies & Beer' Club. We've had two successful meetings, and I'm still trying to decide whether I'll honor the apocryphal Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines with a viewing.

Observations: Turns out that without ever having seen either film, I'd already learned the plot of both films just by living my daily life. Within the first ten minutes, I knew why Kyle was there and who John Conner's dad was/would be. For T2, I knew who was the good Terminator and the bad Terminator before their "revealing" showdown in the mall. It's all in the commercials, or the narrative is so simplistic that it seeps in through pop-cultural osmosis. Therefore, with no interesting story-lines or plot to become engrossed in, I soon learned that the Terminator movies are just long, nearly-dialogue-less, montages of explosions, special effect cyborgs and, oddly enough, endless close-ups of Semi-truck grills. While I've long known that James Cameron has a potent fixation on manually operated cranes and underwater vehicles, I can now add to that list gas stations and semi trucks. I'd say about 75% of T1 & T2 take place either at a gas station or near a semi truck. Cameron exploring our human self-destruction through the metaphor/realism of oil consumption? Yeah, that's probably it. Man, he's a gifted film maker.

Favorite inter-texts/drinking games for the Terminator films:
1. The last twenty minutes of Terminator are a lot funnier if you imagine Kyle's name being pronounced by Eric Cartman.

2. Comparing the indestructible T1,000 model to the indestructible aliens from that trilogy: especially the T2 death scene a-la Aliens 3 (or vice versa).

3. Shout/shot "Grill!" every-time the camera zooms in on the front of an automobile, "Semi!" every-time there's a semi-truck in the shot, and "Gas!" every-time a character pulls up to a pump or beats someone up outside a station.

It's amazing how little happens in each of these movies. It's just chase scene after chase scene, with exposition parsed out every 45 minutes or so. It's fun once in a while to watch movies that you can talk over the entire time and still feel you didn't miss anything. Well done James Cameron. Good luck McG.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Jane Austen Critiques Chick-Lit

Northanger Abbey (Modern Library Classics) Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

For my summer of revisiting Jane Austen, I started at the beginning, the earliest written yet posthumously published Northanger Abbey (technically, which was written when is a little complicated, but Northanger Abbey is usually treated like her first). Knowing already that it was a send up of the Gothic novels of the time, with their catastrophic heroines, dangerous castles and possibly vampiric men, I didn't know if the story would stand on its own.

Holy cow what a delight! Austen's writing is ingenious, as she subverts her readers' (and her heroine's) expectations by laying out what "should" excite her characters or send them into the throws of ecstasy (be it a ball, new handkerchief or old building) and instead, lets things be quietly pleasing and realistically worthy. It's hilarious to feel Austen winking from behind the page. In fact, I found myself beginning to draw smiley faces in the margins whenever she coated critique with demur sensibility- where she dresses her sarcasm in petticoats, as it were. All in all I counted 14 smiley faces (about 1 every 14 pages), and an exclamation point in the margins of at least every 7 pages.

It's been a long time since I laughed out-loud reading a book. It makes my heart fluttery to be chuckling along with a novel from 1813, and more-so to be moved by the spunky candor and cultural critique of a woman writing her observations of how ridiculous everyone around her was- 200 years ago.

Northanger Abbey is the Chai Tea Latte of Victorian Fiction*- smooth, delicious, warm, but with a bit of spicy bite to it.

View all my reviews.

** and yes, it's anachronistic to call Jane Austen Victorian fiction- but somehow "Victorian" has come to mean 19th century England, however inaccurate that might be**

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The São Paulo Scarf for...

Name: JB aka Mr. Roommate

Location: the jewel of the Emerald City, Crown Hill

Occupation: student of the christian studies, environment-friendly house cleaner, housemate to the best home in all of the Emerald City, and boyfriend to an amazing woman

Favorite kind of cupcake: Trophy Cupcakes Hummingbird, which is a Banana Pineapple Coconut cake with cream cheese frosting... it is a circus in my mouth!!!

When shopping at REI, be sure to: go in there when you are broke, otherwise you will leave that place with lots of great things

The key to successful backyard barbecuing is: great company, plain and simple!

When it comes to Apple computers, I: treat them better than a new born baby, sorry new born babies.

My lady sure knows how to: do it all! she can cook amazing food, she hike like the best of them, she can make me laugh until i snort/almost choke on my own snot, she pushes me to be a better man, and the list goes on and on and on and on....

A basic Green practice I wish everyone would start doing is: composting... it helps reduce the amount of waste in landfills... plus, it is a great way to replenish the earth with all the natural nutrients.

Otter Pops vs Ikea Raspberry Cookies: i love Otter Pops... i spent almost an entire year solely eating Otter Pops, dozens at a time. the Ikea Raspberry Cookies are amazing. i still have at least 15 packs of them in dresser drawer. and every time someone i know goes to Ikea, they return with a few sleeves of those precious Ikea Raspberry Cookies. i think if there could be a way to make an Otter Pop flavor of the Ikea Raspberry Cookie, then i would be set.

Something I'd Like to Say: thank you for letting me ramble...

Kj and I: where to begin? it is an amazing honor and privilege to know Kj and an even bigger honor and privilege to live under the same roof. she has taught me many great things, such as how to really watch a movie, how to see things in a contextualised manner, and showing me the beauty in things that i would overlook. i love when the house is quiet and i can hear her laugh at a show or movie she is watching, her laughter is soooo contagious and it lifts my mood all the time.

i have been enriched by Kj... i am certain that i will never know how deeply she has made an impact on my life. i look forward to the growth of our friendship.

Making the Scarf: Well what can I say after that? It was a joy to create this scarf for the above gentleman. At first he'd suggested having me make a scarf in the colors of the Brazilian flag, but when I explained that being scarfed means submitting to my interpretation of you- he said go for it, do whatever you want. Thus, Brazil stayed in my mind as I started. I wanted to capture JB's playful spirit but also his debonair chic that peaks out from time time. The colors largely came from the feel of a Brazilian restaurant he took us all too last year. I think this is the hottest scarf I've made yet- inspired by a place that would rarely require the wearing of a scarf and by someone who looks hot wearing one :). It's been a delight to watch JB build a life here in Seattle, to see the way he gives his time to the people in his life who matter and pursues his passions and beliefs against all odds. (And the odds have been frequent, forceful and odd). JB's a fighter, and as you can read, or Kaitlin can attest- a great lover of people. He's one you want on your side. I'm lucky to have him upstairs. Love to you Yannni!!

PS: JB did all the fun photo stuff on these shots. And I still can't believe this is our backyard.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Well, here's the text.

Our Mars Hill Graduate School motto, at least a third of it anyway, ate up four black printer cartridges this term, causing me to actually resort to taking screen capture images of articles so they'd print as color ( I have an endless supply of color cartridges- but not black) . I also, definately, turned in a dark blue assignment on the last day of 'Mission in a Global Context' since that's the class that ate the most of my black ink.
And these are just the articles I'm recycling for future printing. This doesn't include the articles i saved.

9 terms down. 4 more to go.

I start classes again tomorrow.

I just watched 98% of the people I started with, graduate on Saturday. The Fellowship has not failed, but we are going our separate ways. Now, but a few of us sit here, with our pints in hand, looking silently at one another knowing what we have been through, and that only we are left to remember it.

We are the remnant- and will stand together next year- but this time we'll get to board the ships at the Grey Havens, instead of watching our Frodos all head out to sea like they did on Saturday.

It's been a rich, beautifull, complicated three years. We've got one last year together.

The ending is already starting in my soul. And in my text. And in my culture.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

2009 MHGS Graduation Haiku

Feeling like Beth March:
"I love being home. But I
don't like being left..."