Despite being one of the proud founding matriarchs of the RevGalBlogPals, and one of the Friday Five hosts for a long time, I haven’t done one of these in ages. But today’s spoke to me for some reason… so here we go:
Whoosh! My calendar is packed. And June is almost gone! There’s the old saying, “Bad luck comes in threes” but I’ve decided that “Busy-ness comes in fives!” So this week we’ll take things five-at-a-time. Tell me:
1. Five flowers you’d like in a bouquet or in your garden:
I’m a terrible gardener. With five people and an aging cat, we’re keeping everything alive that we possibly can. But if someone would tend them for me, I’d pick hydrangeas, any kind of orchid, roses, tulips and something carnivorous, because awesome.
2. Five books you want to read (or re-read):
I have 125 books on my Goodreads to-read list, but here are five that jump out at me today:
Endurance, by Frank Arthur Worsley
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Michael Moss
The Lifeboat: Charlotte Rogan
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed
Lizz Free Or Die, Lizz Winstead
Faroe Islands. Photo: National Geographic
3. Five places you want to visit:
Iona, again. We’re going in August and I. Can’t. Wait.
Cinque Terre, Italy
New Zealand, because Lord of the Rings.
4. Five people you’d invite for tea/coffee/beer and pizza:
5. FIve chores or tasks you’d gladly give to someone else:
Bills/expenses/tracking tax stuff
Picking up socks and shoes. OMG, I am so sick of this.
BONUS: A five ingredient recipe! (This is harder than it sounds!)
I got this from O Magazine and haven’t had the nerve, nor the Nutella, to try this yet.
Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies
1 13 oz jar Nutella
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup water
Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8 inch pan with foil.
In a large bowl, whisk together Nutella, eggs, and water. Stir in flour and salt and transfer to prepared pan. Bake until just set around the edges, 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely.
Remove brownies using foil. Cut and serve, discarding foil. Makes 9.
I am very excited to be hosting Lee Hull Moses today at The Blue Room. She is co-author of Hopes and Fears: Everyday Theology for New Parents and Other Tired, Anxious People, available from Alban and from Amazon. Believe me, it’s good—really good. Smart and funny, eloquent and real. It’s John Wesley meets Tiny Fey.
We’re also excited to be giving away a free copy of this book. See the bottom of this post for details. And now, take it away Lee…
“Let go of your tongue!” the mother next to me shouts to her daughter, who is lining up with the other five-year-old soccer players in the middle of the field. The girl looks over at her, still gripping the tip of her tongue with her finger and thumb. “Let go of your tongue!” the mother shouts again.
The girl lets go long enough to shout something back, something about a hurt finger. Neither the other mother nor I can figure out what this has to do with her tongue, but then the coach blows the whistle and play resumes. The mom looks at me in exasperation: the things you never thought you’d have to say out loud.
(“Yes, sheep wear underpants,” I once told my daughter Harper, trying to move along the getting-dressed routine on the morning of the church Christmas pageant.)
This is our first foray into organized sports, and I have to admit, it’s not as terrible as I feared. I signed her up for this 8-week league partly out of peer pressure (all the other parents seem to have their kids in activities like this), partly out of guilt (she’s been asking for dance classes for years and we can’t seem to get that together), and mostly out of opportunity (a half-price Groupon offer showed up in my inbox.)
I thought she would probably enjoy it, but I didn’t think I would. It meant getting her to practice every Monday night, and games on Saturday mornings, and buying new equipment (and keeping track of it), and getting used to new schedules and people and procedures. I was wary of another evening commitment, and dreaded tying up our Saturday mornings – our only at-home family time. Also, there was this: I’m pretty awful at not being in charge of things. Most of the activities we do are related somehow to the church, and I generally know everybody involved and have made a lot of the decisions about how things get done. To be just another parent on the sidelines is a weird place for me to be.
So these eight weeks of practices and games and looking for the shin guards have probably been as good for me as they have been for her. And I have to say, I’m a convert. It’s been, well, fun. There’s something wonderful about 5-year-old soccer. Nobody keeps score. The teams are small so everybody gets to play a lot. There’s no ref – just the coaches, who nudge the ball back onto the field if it goes too far out of bounds. Everybody cheers when somebody makes a goal, regardless of whose team it is. I’ve heard the horror stories, of bad-tempered coaches and mean-spirited parents, but for us, it’s just been fun.
One night recently, we were in the kitchen laughing, all four of us, in a few found minutes before the next thing happened – before I had to leave for a meeting, before bathtime needed to begin – and for once I was ignoring the pile of dishes in the sink and the mess on the living room floor. I don’t know what silliness we were laughing about but it doesn’t matter; I could see that Harper was watching us. She was laughing, participating in the silliness, but also she was watching. And all of a sudden I could see that she is hungry for this, this all-out fun we are having. This sort of moment is rare enough that she noticed, and soaked it up. More than any meal, this whole-family laughter feeds her, fills her up.
I forget that sometimes, I’m afraid. I forget that she needs us to have fun together, to know that we are happy.
I’m firmly in the I-won’t-martyr-myself-for-my-children camp. I like doing grown-up things. Reading books with more depth than the Berenstain Bears. Walking across the kitchen without stepping on smashed up raisins. Watching West Wing reruns after the kids go to bed. I like the work I do beyond my family, and often, I wish I had more time to do it. And sometimes – oh, I love my children dearly, but sometimes – the kid stuff, packing lunches and signing up for soccer and cleaning up the puzzle pieces for the eight-hundredth time, start to seem like chores that get in the way of what I’d rather be doing.
But my kids are not tasks we have to take care of, not items on the to-do list to be checked off.
My daughter needs those tangible things, certainly: food, shelter, clothes and shoes that fit. She needs me to sign the permission form so she can go on the field trip, and she needs me to remember to make her an appointment at the dentist. But she needs more than that. It’s her family, too. She lives here. It’s her life, and she needs me to help her live it. She needs me to listen to her stories. She needs me to ignore the dishes so I can play with her. She needs me to laugh, and mean it. She needs me to have fun, with her. She needs me to sign her up for experiences she’s never had and stand on the sidelines with the other parents and cheer my heart out, for her.
Turns out that sometimes, that’s what I need, too.
Lee Hull Moses (right in photo) is the co-author, with Bromleigh McCleneghan, of Hopes and Fears: Everyday Theology for New Parents and Other Tired, Anxious People. She is also the pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband Rob and their children, Jonathan and Harper. She will be spending this Saturday morning cheering at the final soccer game of the season.
BOOK GIVEAWAY: To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment, sharing your thoughts on this post and/or a similar sense of joy in the midst of the busyness of life. We’ll choose a winner Monday morning. Limit one comment per person per day.
I also did a webinar on Sabbath for the Presbyterian Outlook this week. I covered some stuff that’s in the book but a lot that’s not, including how to get congregations thinking about and practicing Sabbath. You can order a DVD here.
Enough about me. Here we go!
Source: Manon Wethly, posted on Colossal. Click the image to visit the link.
Some schools forbid children to play in the snow for fear of legal action in the event of an accident. We live in a litigious age, but this is about far more than that: it is about the kind of children we are creating.
By insidiously demanding that children always seek permission for the most trivial of actions, that they must obey the commands of others at every turn, we ensure that children today are not so much beaten into obedience as eroded into it. A risk-averse society creates a docility and loss of autonomy that has a horrible political shadow: a populace malleable, commandable, and blindly obedient.
The author also talks about a real-life Lord of the Flies incident… that didn’t end like Lord of the Flies:
One day, in 1977, six boys set out from Tonga on a fishing trip. They left safe harbor, and fate befell them. Badly. Caught in a huge storm, the boys were shipwrecked on a deserted island. What do they do, this little tribe?
They made a pact never to quarrel, because they could see that arguing could lead to mutually assured destruction. They promised each other that wherever they went on the island, they would go in twos, in case they got lost or had an accident. They agreed to have a rotation of being on guard, night and day, to watch out for anything that might harm them or anything that might help. And they kept their promises—for a day that became a week, a month, a year. After fifteen months, two boys, on watch as they had agreed, saw a speck of a boat on the horizon. The boys were found and rescued, all of them, grace intact and promises held.
If anyone knows more about this story, please let me know. I would love to read more. Google didn’t turn up much.
In a school notorious for its lack of discipline, where backpacks were prohibited for fear the students would use them to carry weapons, Bott’s bold decision to replace the security guards with art teachers was met with skepticism by those who also questioned why he would choose to lead the troubled school.
“A lot of my colleagues really questioned the decision,” he said. “A lot of people actually would say to me, ‘You realize that Orchard Gardens is a career killer? You know, you don’t want to go to Orchard Gardens.’”
But now, three years later, the school is almost unrecognizable. Brightly colored paintings, essays of achievement, and motivational posters line the halls. The dance studio has been resurrected, along with the band room, and an artists’ studio.
Dr. Angelo Volandes is making a film that he believes will change the way you die. The studio is his living room in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston; the control panel is his laptop; the camera crew is a 24-year-old guy named Jake; the star is his wife, Aretha Delight Davis. Volandes, a thickening mesomorph with straight brown hair that is graying at his temples, is wearing a T-shirt and shorts and looks like he belongs at a football game. Davis, a beautiful woman of Guyanese extraction with richly braided hair, is dressed in a white lab coat over a black shirt and stands before a plain gray backdrop.
“Remember: always slow,” Volandes says.
“Sure, hon,” Davis says, annoyed. She has done this many times.
Volandes claps to sync the sound. “Take one: Goals of Care, Dementia.”
As a pastor I would love to get my hands on the video series Dr. Volandes is creating.
I’ll read just about any topic, so long as Gopnik writes it. And we are years away from kids leaving the nest, but this still spoke to me.
I suspect he will return one Christmas soon with an icy, exquisite, intelligent young woman in black clothes, with a single odd piercing somewhere elegant – ear or nose or lip – who will, when I am almost out of earshot, issue a gentle warning: “Listen, with the wedding toasts – could you make sure your father doesn’t get, you know, all boozy and damp and weepy?” My son will nod at the warning.
Doubt is a thing which many Christians see as opposing their faith. Many have fought it and its prevalence in the modern minds of man. 19th century pastor Robert Turnbull once stated that “Doubt, indeed, is the disease of this inquisitive, restless age.” Many people react negatively towards any feelings of doubt that they may have, fearing that this doubt means that they aren’t fully committed to God.
However, this fear of doubt is dreadfully dangerous. Not every man who doubts his faith loses it. And if they look at most human lives, they’ll find that if one doesn’t doubt, then one isn’t human. It is a necessary idea for any believer, for it acts as the catalyst and tool for a man or woman to grow.
Then a quote from Tim Keller:
A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection. Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts—not only their own but their friends’ and neighbors’.
Would be interesting to have a church group study on doubt.
A picture book from Norway. My children are outgrowing picture books but I’m sure not:
This tender and heartening Norwegian gem tells the story of an anxious young boy who climbs into his father’s arms seeking comfort on a cold sleepless night. The two step outside into the winter wonderland as the boy asks questions about the red birds in the spruce tree to be cut down the next morning, about the fox out hunting, about why his mother will never wake up again. With his warm and assuring answers, the father watches his son make sense of this strange world of ours where love and loss go hand in hand.
There was a time when [Martin] Sheen’s brand of liberation theology drove social and political conversation. Now Colbert is its most visible proponent — if he wasn’t married and didn’t make so many jokes about “lady parts,” he could be this generation’s hot radical priest.
The brilliance of “The Colbert Report” is its refusal to dismiss or denigrate the religion with jokes that equate faith with idiocy or churchgoing with bovine surrender. Instead Colbert attempts to extricate what he sees as the essential message of Christianity from the piles of intellectual rot and political carpet bags that have been piled on and around it in the last 10 years.
Is it ever: “Magnetic putty is just like any other putty in that you can handle it, sculpt it, and squeeze it in a fist as you visualize your enemies. But place it anywhere near a strong magnetic field and it will SPONTANEOUSLY ANIMATE and move to consume anything magnetic in its path like a voracious mutated slug.”
The guy invented the first widely used web browser, so he’s got some game.
This is a great list. Even the stuff I can’t emulate for practical reasons (I’m a pastor, and pastors have meetings) still intrigues me to think about. Here’s structured procrastination:
The gist of Structured Procrastination is that you should never fight the tendency to procrastinate — instead, you should use it to your advantage in order to get other things done.
Generally in the course of a day, there is something you have to do that you are not doing because you are procrastinating.
While you’re procrastinating, just do lots of other stuff instead.
As John says, “The list of tasks one has in mind will be ordered by importance. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower down on the list. Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure, the procrastinator becomes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done.”
Traumatic events typically evoke a whole suite of brain responses, such as making people faster to startle, increasing their reaction time and producing hyper vigilance to any type of sensation that might be linked with the threatening experience.
And this warping of perspective is exactly what terrorists aim to achieve. “Terrorists are trying to induce fear and panic,” says Hollander, noting that media coverage that repeats the sounds and images of the events maximizes their impact. The coverage keeps the threat alive and real in people’s minds, and sustains the threat response, despite the fact that the immediate danger has passed.
Prayer memes shared in times of crisis do something besides expressing traditional religiosity, calling us to God, to regular spiritual practice, or to worship. Rather, in an increasingly secularized America (the Land of the Rising None), praying or calling for prayer in times of tragedy seems to mark a kind of existential angst, sorrow, or confusion for which other words or gestures seem inadequate. Likewise, the impulse to pray holds a space that we may not even believe exists, giving us time to gather our less spiritually distracted wits about us. It is “true” in what it offers more than in what it is.
A new book, Homeward Bound: Embracing the New Domesticity, offers another angle to the lean in/opt out discussion:
Each of the lightning-rod articles that [discussed the opt-out 'revolution] (Linda Hirshman’s in 2005 and 2008, Anne-Marie Slaughter’s in 2012) was primarily about what women are saying no to: women who don’t want to do what it takes; women who can’t have it all; women who are letting their careers slide; women who are walking away. These are all articles about the demands of the workplace, not the joys of the home, chronicling why women are pushed out, not pulled in. This implied lack of agency is probably why women on all sides of this debate tend to get so defensive—think Sex and the City’s Charlotte screaming, “I choose my choice! I choose my choice!” …
Still, these women are not exactly CEOs or congresswomen, and the number of women at the top of the professional world is still dismal. Feminism, many argue, has not gone far enough. But to hear many of the new domestics tell the tale, feminism has gone too far. In nearly every arena, second-wave feminists come in for some of the blame. They stand accused of pushing women into the workforce but failed to break the glass ceiling or ensure paid family leave. They’re charged with devaluing domestic skills like cooking to the point where we all got fat on fast food. But feminists “did not invent the two-career family,” Matchar points out. “The economy did that.”
As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field, I care about breaking the stained-glass ceiling. And as a part-time writer, I like being here when the girls get home from school and being able to chaperone their field trips. So I toggle between all kind of contradictions and negotiations. Sounds like an intriguing book.
First off: I have several good friends who’ve published books recently, and while I’ve mentioned them around the Internets in a piecemeal way, I wanted to make sure y’all knew about them. In most cases, I’ve read the book and can recommend it; in all cases, I can recommend the writer. These all came out in the last few months:
Last week I linked to an article about Adam Grant and was intrigued by what I called his radical generosity, even as I pointed out the stay-at-home wife who helps make such generosity happen. Here is an article that looks at the book’s findings, apart from the personality of Grant. “If you’re a giver at work, you simply strive to be generous in sharing your time, energy, knowledge, skills, ideas, and connections with other people who can benefit from them.” Takers, by contrast, get more than they give, always trying to find what’s in it for them; matchers try to keep the ledger as even as possible.
It’s not surprising that givers often end up on the bottom of the career ladder. But guess who rises to the top? Read the link to find out.
An excellent resource for those of us who are trying to equip our kids to make good food choices:
Focus on health not weight. And emphasize function over form. Remind your son that a healthy body is what allows you to do all that you do in the world. Think of something your child likes to do – whether that is a sport or otherwise – and point out how it’s his body that does that. If your child is an athlete, he or she probably gets a lot of reinforcement for this idea. But even if what your child most likes to do is to sit quietly and read or draw, you can reinforce the concept. You can say, “Your body is what allows you to do [fill in your child’s favorite activity]” to foster your child feeling good about his body’s capability.
A study by researchers at UNC’s medical school, published in the journal Appetite, showed the kind of choices people make when randomly presented with different types of menus with differing levels of nutritional information: one with no nutritional info, one with calorie info, one with calories plus the minutes of walking required to burn the calories, and a fourth with calories plus the distance required to burn off the calories.
“People who viewed the menu without nutritional information ordered a meal totaling 1,020 calories, on average, significantly more than the average 826 calories ordered by those who viewed menus that included information about walking-distance,” writes Scientific American. People who saw the menu with walking-distance info also ordered less than people who just saw calorie info.
I’m pretty good at the Sabbath thing—setting aside time for rest, play and puttering—but my problem is I absolutely jam-pack the rest of my life. I’m working on this lately. My current tweak is listening to music while running. (I’m usually a podcast runner.)
30 pages is enough. Not enough to grasp the key message, but enough to understand if it’s worth grasping. If by page 30 of a book I’m not hooked, I stop reading. A writer has to hook our imaginations, and 30 pages should be enough to do just that. Need more pages? I say need more editing.
I read so many short things (articles, essays) that when I do pick up a book, I feel like abandoning it is a sign of failure. I stick with books to prove to myself that my attention span can hack it. So this system intrigues me… But I give it 50 pages. I recently abandoned The Casual Vacancy. Broke my heart to do it—I applaud J.K. Rowling for tackling something so radically different—but I just didn’t care about the characters.