Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cards On The Table

Ok, I'm just going to come right out and say it: It's unclear to me how anyone "honored by the name of Christian" can be "pro-choice" in any scenario other than the most extreme situations.  (e.g., ectopic pregnancies, other circumstances where the mother's actual, physical life would be at stake if the child were carried to viability, etc...)

When I look at the appalling failure of mainstream Protestantism to speak clearly and decisively on the issue of abortion, it makes me physically ill.  As Christians, we should be the first ones to the table, the loudest ones, the ones with the most endurance, the most strength, the most love. 

"I come that they may have life, and have it abundantly."  ~John 10:10

Everyone, even the most ardent pro-aborts out there, in their most honest moments, knows that terminating a pregnancy is terminating a life.  Scientifically, there really is no question about this.  Individuals can debate the ethics all over the place of when it is or is not morally permissable to terminate a life in the womb - never, only before a heartbeat develops, only before brainwaves develop, only before pain is felt, only before quickening, only before viability, only before ability to reason develops - but the point is, terminating a pregnancy is terminating a life.

As Christians, as followers of, disciples of, witnesses to the One who comes so that they - we - all of us - may have life and have it abundantly, we must be extraordinarily careful, and extraordinarily justified, in situations that require the termination of life.  This is the premise behind the development of Augustine's Just War Theory, it is the premise behind Christian opposition to the death penalty, and it ought to be the premise behind all Christian opposition to abortion. 

But opposition to abortion isn't just about preserving the physical life of a baby.  Look at the second half of the verse from John: I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.  This is the part for moms.  It is the part for husbands and boyfriends and grandparents and friends and teachers and employers and, sad to say, clergy.  It is what Christians need to claim, promote, tell, remind, point out over and over and over again: whatever your problems are right now, whatever they might be in the future, whatever relationships will be strained or plans will have to be put on hold or inconveniences will have to be suffered because of this pregnancy, killing a child does not, in fact, improve the situation.  It may appear to right now, but at best, it is a Pyrrhic victory, because active participation in murder, or being complicit therein, will not lead to abundant life. 

As Christians, we need to say to moms, dads, and anyone else involved: "God desires life - abundant life - for your baby, and for you.  In Christ, and with the help of His followers, there is no problem that cannot be overcome, no relationship that cannot be repaired, no situation that cannot be redeemed.  Life may look bleak now, but it is often precisely in the darkest places that God shows up at His biggest and best."

And the reason we have to say this, loudly and clearly, over and over and over again, and honestly and sincerely mean it, every single time, is because it is true, and because for far too long, we haven't.  For far too long pro-abortion Christians have said (in effect), "Well, if you think there's no hope, then just do what you think is best.  We're behind you all the way."  And for far too long, pro-life Christians have said (in effect), "Whatever you do, don't kill that baby.  As for everything else, well, God be with you.  It'll all work out in the end!"  Neither is acceptable.

I firmly believe that the vast majority of women who have abortions do not, in their hearts of hearts, wish to do so.  I volunteered as a counselor for several years at a crisis pregnancy center and talked to plenty of women who were considering abortion.  Not one of them ever said to me, "I want to kill this child."  I heard plenty of, "I just want the whole thing to go away," "I don't know how I'm going to tell my parents," "My boyfriend is going to freak out," "I'll never be able to finish school," and so on.  It is my contention that most women who have abortions do so because they do not see any other solution to the specific problems that face them today.  I believe that most women considering abortion, if they were aware of and trusted financial, emotional, and other resources, would choose to carry the pregnancy to term and either parent or place for adoption.

As Christians, knowing that God desires abundant life for baby and mom, we have to be the first ones to back up those claims with concrete action.  That means that we have to visibly care for and love moms like crazy, starting at the most basic level and working our way up.  That means that if we have to sit with a newly-pregnant, scared-to-death mom, and hold her hand or give her a hug while she cries for a minute, or an hour, or a day then we do that.  And then we ask: Who do you need to tell?  Parents?  Boyfriend?  Husband?  What is going to happen when you tell them?  Will you be safe?  Do you need someone to come with you?  Do you have a safe place to live while you are pregnant?  After the baby is born?  How will you get to school?  Do you need a job?  Do you have a doctor?  Do you have health insurance?  Do you need: maternity clothes?  baby clothes?  other assorted baby "stuff"?  parenting classes?  a safe and supportive church environment? And on and on and on.

This is the latter part of the Good Samaritan story.  As Christians, we are not allowed to walk by on the other side of the road.  Nor are we allowed to look at the broken and bleeding man and announce that, "Man, crime has gotten really bad around here lately.  Where's the Roman Senate when you need them?  They oughta take action!" 

No.  No.  Jesus came that we may have life, and have it abundantly.  It is our job, as Christians, to live as though that is actually true - in what we say, in the causes we support, in how we ourselves live, and in how we treat others.  It is time for us to get it together.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Good Earth! (Literally.)

So, I'm looking through the current issue of the Lutheran Woman Today magazine, preparing for my women's Bible Study that meets tomorrow and uses the Bible Study piece in the magazine.  Rolling my eyes at some of the more egregious political correctness (stop apologizing for translating patri as "Father", etc...), but okay, whatever.  I turned the page, and nearly burst into tears. 

Yeah, I'm not okay with this.  Not.  At.  All.
And we offer our prayers for all in need: May God's peace and healing presence be with all who suffer and those who are weary and in need of rest.  We turn to face north.  We give thanks for the peoples of the north.  A gift of this direction is clarity of vision and a sense of the strength we need to live each day.  Help us to see more clearly your role for us, especially in the healing and care of mother earth, we pray.
Emphasis mine. 

Are you freaking kidding me? 

Words fail me.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Questions About Prayer

So...all the people I would ask about this are, well, not available at the moment.  And I should probably stop drafting people into being my pseudo-spiritual directors anyway.  So I'm going to post this up for blogland (all 4 of you) to comment on.

I feel like I'm in a..."season of prayer," as my evangelical friends might say, wherein I am stuck in "adoration" or "thanksgiving" (according to the ACTS model of prayer). 

What I mean is this:  Whenever I settle down and actually focus on prayer, nearly all the time, what flows most freely, with hardly any effort on my part, are the thanksgivings.  Thank you God for this-person-and-that-person, this-blessing-and-that-blessing, the way you reveal yourself to me when I have no idea why you would want to do that for me, this-thing-and-that-thing, the love and care shown to me by other people, etc...

It's a great feeling, really.  It feels so good to God...and give Him the praise and thanksgiving that is obviously due him.  But it's strange how a) natural and...smooth this particular aspect of prayer has been lately, and b) difficult it is to pray for anything else right now.  Every time I make a conscious effort to pray either for myself (generally things like guidance, direction, discernment, strength, etc...) or others (any kind of intercession at all), it's just...hard.  My mind keeps drifting back to praise and thanksgiving for the way He's already been at work in those specific situations. 

So my questions are this: are there such things as "seasons" in one's prayer life?  I believe that certain people are called to pray for certain things - are some "assigned" or "gifted for" prayer of a certain "type"?  Am I crazy?  Sacreligious?  Why is it so hard for me to intercede for others right now? 

Thoughts, anyone?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I love snow.  I love winter, I love fluffy white stuff that just makes the world seem cozy.  I love looking out the window at it coming down, and marveling at how high the piles in the yard or at the end of the street get.  I love playing it, bundling up to go outside, skiing, how it makes the world all quiet, snow days, everything.

But I had NO IDEA how much it snows up here.  It just snows all the time.  Unless it's perfectly clear and sunny, it's snowing.  It might only be flurries, or it might be snowing to beat the band, but it's always snowing. 

Who knew?

Monday, January 10, 2011


So, this weekend was a very successful first venture out, in line with my New Year's Resolution.  I didn't get up as early as I had planned, but it ended up being okay.  I got dressed all cute and warm, made sure I had directions to the places I wanted to go, packed a little bag of snacks, made coffee, and hit the road. 

The first thing I did was head way the heck out west to this Cathedral I wanted to visit.  It turned out to be absolutely gorgeous, and is on the National Historic Registry (or whatever it's called).  When I got there, I headed to the basement to find the restroom, and found that the "parish hall" is really actually a museum of sorts.  I mean, it's clearly still used in the normal "church basement" sort of way - new bathrooms and kitchen appliances, etc..., but the building itself is about 90 years old.  There are all kinds of glass display cases documenting things like First Communion Certificates and posters to help kids remember the Lord's Prayer (printed in German!).  There's also a little old schooldesk, with a few ancient textbooks and other supplies. 

The sanctuary, of course, is incredible.  Lots of stained glass, and old wooden pews.  A gloriously spectacular altar, from back in the day when people knew how to do it up right. :-) I actually ended up spending about 2 hours there, which was very good for the soul.  Then I headed back by a different route.  At this point, I was less than 30 mins from the time zone line, which I was hoping to cross, just to say I did.  But it turns out the roads don't really go that way - ultimately they do I guess, obviously, but you have to be really intentional about it, and interested in driving dirt roads up to campgrounds and such, which I wasn't.

I got back to the "bigger-ish" town that I had been planning to visit, and while I was looking for a little coffee shop that had been recommended, stumbled across a cute little locally-owned Christian bookstore, which I wandered through for a few minutes.  Then I found the coffee shop, which was a lot of fun.  Run by a bunch of hippies, but fun. :-) 

After a couple hours there reading and getting caught up on online stuff, I hit the road back home, put the final mental touches on my sermon, and crawled into bed.  Yay for having a life!

Saturday, January 8, 2011


So, wow.  It's been forever since I posted, but I want to get back into the swing of things, especially now that "the holidays" are over. 

Now we're into New Year's Resolution time - who can set the most grandiose goal, and who can fail the most miserably, seems to be the Great American Competition these days.

The last few years I haven't really been all that into New Year's Resolutions - I don't know why, they just seem sort of...trite, maybe?  That's not quite the word I'm looking for, but I don't know.  They get on my nerves, I guess. 

But for some reason, I felt the need to set a few this year.  Two are of the "I am going to exercise every day for 90 minutes, I swear, this time for real" variety, although not quite that over the top. 
  • Pray at least 2 of the daily offices every day.  I've been spending more time with the Liturgy of the Hours this fall and winter, and I really like it.  It helps steep a person in prayer and Scripture, especially the Psalms.  I even set a couple alarms on my phone to remind me to do it, but I've been really bad about when it goes off, just kind of ignoring it, or saying, "Ok, I'll do that as soon as I finish...whatever else I'm doing.."  So, part of my New Year's Resolution is to Just.  Stop.  And.  Do.  It.  Seriously, it takes like 10 minutes.  Maybe 15 at the most.
  • Go to bed and get up on time.  I'm not sure why I've had such a problem with this since I moved here.  Well, who am I kidding?  I'm always up late.  I guess it's because it's rare that I have actual morning commitments to attend to.  Sometimes on Wednesday mornings I go have breakfast with the ladies of Little Church.  Technically I have office hours on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday, but it's really hard to feel committed to them when there is no other person at the office, no one ever stops by randomly just to chat, and no one really knows or cares if I work from there or from home.  (That and it's cold and dark, and the internet has been working about 5% of the time lately...)  So I stay up late because I'm doing...not even anything important...and then I sleep in because I was up late...and then I need an hour to drink coffee and catch up on FB, blogs, do morning prayer, etc... and then the day is practically half gone...and it's a vicious cycle.  So my goal is that when the alarm for LOTH goes off, to stop everything, stick my rice baby in the microwave, pray the office, and go to bed.  Which will thereby enable me to get up on time and get stuff done and be a productive member of society.
So, these are good resolutions, and I feel good about them.  Obviously the fact that I'm typing this at 12:30 am means I haven't been all that successful yet, but I'm working on it.  But then today I stumbled onto an awesome New Year's Resolution.  A lot of people in my area have been resolving to "try something new" every month.  Like, take up scrapbooking or go sky-diving or something.  I've been intrigued by that, but it still didn't quite..suit me.  Today though, I realized that I have been putting my life on hold.  That I've been believing the lie that somehow wiggled itself into society that life doesn't start until you...get married...finish school...get a "real" job...have kids...etc...  And I'm in a place right now where I don't feel like I have my life together at all.  I'm not married, and who are we kidding, that's not even on the horizon for me right now.  I have no idea when I'll get a "real job", and "finishing" school is probably 5 years away at this point.  (More on that later...) 

But it occurred to me today that life doesn't "start" when a person gets married or lands the perfect job or finishes school or buys a house or has kids.  Life is  And we belong to a God who says, "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."  I realized that even though I don't particularly like doing (certain) things by myself, that I'm cheating myself out of life if I wait to experience them until...some time in my life that might not ever be.  We're getting a new Heaven and a new Earth, so if I never see Mt. Rushmore in this lifetime, it's going to be my loss - I doubt it's coming back! 

So my real New Year's Resolution this year is to, once a month, do one of those "things that people who have a life do."  Maybe it's cross something off my "bucket list", maybe it's treating myself to dinner at a nice restaurant, maybe it's just getting out of town for a day and seeing where the open road takes me.  But I'm tired of waiting for my honeymoon to go back to Europe.  I'm sick of self-pity and feeling pitied by others for my...not having my life together...or whatever.  I'm tired of waiting for my friends' work and class schedules to align perfectly with mine to plan a roadtrip.  I don't want to finish this year-long adventure by saying, "No, I didn't do that, and I didn't do that, and no, I didn't do that either..." 

So I'm building my list of "things to do this year."  And I guess, since I don't have anyone to "come along for the journey," I'll pack up Jesus and the communion of the saints, and we'll hit the open road together.  First stop will be I head to a bigger-ish town, and a gorgeous cathedral further down the road, just to check them out. 

In February, I'll be going to a concert by myself, along with a lecture-type event that I'm super-excited about.  (That one I'm actually going to with a friend, but I'm so stoked about it I can hardly sit still.)

Other items for the list are:
  • Mt. Rushmore
  • Badlands
  • visit grad schools in IN, WI, TX
  • Canada
  • consolidate my financial stuff (boring, but it needs to be done and clearly Financially Organized Prince Charming isn't on his way over to balance my checkbook, so I'm going to have to do it myself...)
Obviously I need some more ideas, so anyone who has any that you think I should consider, share away!  The only stipulation is that it has to be something that I can reasonably accomplish in 2011.  For example, I really do intend to get back to Europe at some point, but I am very realistic about the fact that it's not happening this year. 

So that's my New Year's Resolution...can't wait to take it out for a spin!