Monthly Archives: October 2012

not buying it

I just got my Crate & Barrel Holiday Inspiration 2012 catalogue in the mail. Not that I wait for it, but it shows up, so I flip through it.

The first page has a big heading—Home&Holidays—followed by a letter from the president. It feels more like a magazine than a catalogue, and her words encourage the reader to believe that this publication is more than a giant advertisement. “The pages that follow are not only a guide to our new collection, but a celebration of the experiences we have shared in our homes at this special time of the year.” I don’t hate this. Actually, I don’t even entirely disagree with it. My own home is arranged in such a way that (I hope) it is inviting, warm, relaxing. It’s just stuff, sure, but the stuff as much as my husband and I’s demeanor helps our guests feel comfortable and at home.

What I do hate is the juxtaposition of sections of this catalogue. Adding to the magazine feel, the editors divided the catalogue into sections with heartwarming titles such as “Love&Light” and “Friends&Giving”. The first of these is “Grandpa&Grandson.” Two men are shown lounging on leather furniture on either side of a fireplace, with close-ups on scotch glasses and whisky decanters. There are no pressures on these men: they appear relaxed, both with mid-conversation smiles.

The next section is “Mom&Daughter”. No leather, booze, or relaxation here. The one shot of the woman and girl show them focused on cookie decorating. Many of the shots have snippets of busy hands, blurred in activity as the photographer’s lens attempts to capture their work. The section is pages of baking items—mixers, ramekins, rolling pins—and finishes its last page with dishtowels, no doubt to carefully dry all the scotch glasses used in the next room.

Which raises the question: What are we really being sold?

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another celtic-style prayer

Today in Prayer, Presence, & Practice, the professor asked us to take a few minutes to write a prayer in celtic style around a mundane daily activity. I decided to write a circle prayer to set aside study space and time. As a graduate student I have to do a lot of studying, reading and writing. As a person very active in multiple areas of my community, I am often distracted, which quickly leads to frustration.  This prayer might be a prayer to be read aloud, as much for my sake and God’s ears as it is for the ears of those around me.

Circle Prayer for Studying

Circle this space, Lord. Keep serenity near and drive away distraction.

Circle this time, Lord. Keep focus near and drive away despair.

Circle this study, Lord. Keep wisdom near and drive away folly.

May the meditations of my heart and the words I deliver be pleasing to You.

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the creation + the fall

In the beginning, God desired representation in the physical realm. She created the energy of light and stored it within the sun and stars of the cosmos. She opened the face of the sky and called birds to cross it; She formed the depths of the seas and creatures to dive into it. She wove the web of the weather, bringing balance, diversity, and greenery to land and water. She created wildly, forming flora and fauna full of beauty beyond function, created beings capable of creation. Still, for all the magnificence of the cosmos, the Creator felt only pieces of Herself were represented; there was no one being She could say carried Her image.

So she conferred within Herself, and decided to create humans, women and men. Mere creatures, full of the same bodily habits as many of the others She had formed. They were, compared to the rest of Her creation, of average height and size. They should have been merely mediocre.

But they weren’t, for the Spirit had blessed them with Her own image. These beings, male and female, would together reflect Her image. Although created of the same substance as the rest of the animals, this creature would exist for something more: relation with one another, within their own self-awareness, and with the rest of the created order. In a being that should have been nothing more than another creature, God bestowed extraordinary blessing.

She was pleased with every piece of Her creation, as well as the way it worked as a whole. It is very good, She thought to Herself. Yes, good; not perfect, not stagnant, but moving and growing. She continued watching the human couple in their contented labor. Although, if nothing changes it might as well be stagnant. She had put forth this work in setting the stage for the story she wished to tell, yet needed the introduction of conflict in order to have even a beginning.

She looked at her image-bearers, re-evaluating how to start the plot. The man was the physically stronger of the pair, and yet She knew he wouldn’t instigate. She had already tried, by centering the tree in the garden. He seemed to not notice it. She pointed it out to him, thinking the command to not touch it would invoke his desire, and the threat of death might eventually be an invitation to escape the mundane life of the garden. Still, the man held out; he would endure boredom for infinity before choosing death. The only way to invite him to willingly join the story would be through the woman.

She turned Her gaze from his hard lines to the approachable curves of the woman. She was smaller, softer, by many appearances weaker. And yet, internally, she was far stronger. She had a sense of passion and desire, and was willing to risk everything for it.

The Lord stirred the craftiness of the serpent She had created, and watched as he approached the woman. It wouldn’t do to simply explain that a story had to be told; although created to be storied people, that would not be enough to entice the woman to betray her husband. Besides, she thought, what a boring opening. She watched as the serpent claimed that after eating from the tree the woman would be like God, knowing good and evil. The Lord smiled; it wasn’t a lie. The humans would be like God, just as they always had been, as image-bearers. And they would know good and evil; the evil was necessary to have a plot, and good cannot be recognized until its opposite is known.

God watched as the woman struggled, feeling the tension. Eating the fruit could be devastating; the way the man had talked, the world would end and all hell would break loose. Or, it could be the best thing ever, could change everything, could fulfill desire and destiny; the woman sensed she was created for more than this safe, stoic garden, and intuited that adventure was just on the other side of tasting this fruit. As the woman bit into it, she knew she had made the right choice: this was the most delicious thing to ever touch her tongue, and nothing this good could be wrong. And the world didn’t end, even as she shared with her husband. Yes, this was a good thing to do.

God sighed; it was time for her to continue the beginning of the story by delivering consequences. She went down to seek after her creation. She cursed the serpent by making him into the form he had always been designed to be, a legless version that made use of his spine; sometimes art is in knowing what to leave out. She cursed the woman with pains in childbearing and desire for her husband, sensing that the woman knew to read this curse as a continuation of the earlier blessing to multiply and be in relationship. She cursed the man not by changing any part of reality, but simply by making him aware of what he had always been struggling against.

God looked upon Adam and Eve, for the first time fully alight with the adventure for which their humanity was created. She wanted to give them a gift, for in Her timeless knowledge, God knew that humanity would not thank this couple for starting the plot, for living a story that is worth repeating. She formed garments for them and lovingly helped them dress. While wrapping Eve in a cloak, Her hand lingered, full of gratitude She could not speak. Eve looked back and smiled, pleased to have been sought out by God, spoken to, clothed. Thankful to be sent on a bigger adventure than the garden could ever have held. And the Lord smiled back on Her daughter.

And She ushered out Her beloved Adam and Eve.

This was written for Old Testament Genre; sections of scripture were to be retold under a selected theme. I chose ‘unexpected leaders’. This is the opening two stories.

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