Friday, December 21, 2007

Weird Dream

Last night, I dreamed that I was walking around a room full of people in brown trench coats. I noticed that as they came in the door, someone gave them a coat and as soon as they put it on, they bowed their head and started to cry. They walked around wringing their hands. When I asked, one of them told me that sadness was God's will for her and that suffering and struggle were signs of authentic faith. Ironically, not one of them questioned the fact that they came in happy and got handed something that made them miserable. Finally, I stood on a chair and said "Don't put on that coat! It's not even yours!"

Then, I woke up. And I wonder this morning how much of the current suffering I see literally overcoming the people around me is something they picked up at the door. Why do we so distrust our basic ability to know when something

Friday, December 14, 2007

Finished Finished Finished

I'm finished with my first semester at the University of Montevallo and I've had a beautiful time. Today, I'm going to bundle up my class notes and writing and store them away until I need them to study for comps. I am exhausted. There is a good chance I'll make a 4.0 this semester. I dare to hope.

Next semester, I'll be taking Post-Colonial Literature and Ecocriticism. This will be difficult and I will learn a lot. We're reading Salmon Rushdie and Wendell Berry (and many, many other people.) I've read Wendell Berry, but not in an academic context. This should prove to be interesting. (I am surprised to see him make the jump, frankly. Whereas some people read Wendell Berry and say "I love Wendell Berry!" English students are more likely to really dig into the text and not even talk about the author. You get at the knowledge from another angle.)

I've met many new friends that I hope to see over the holiday. So much diversity that is good for me. So many really kind people who have sharp minds and honest hearts. And who never ever ever talk about Red Mountain Church. (Or would really know what to say if they did.) And this is a pretty good thing. For the first time in a long long time, I'm being judged outside of a church context and it is refreshing to just be Susan the Person. Nobody cares where I go to church or where I went before that or before that. Susan the Person exists in the now.

Nobody ever says "grace" or "struggle" or "community." To be clear, I am desperate for real fellowship with other Christians, but I am much relieved to have an escape from that particular language. In some context, these words are devoid of meaning for me anyway and they taste like sawdust in my mouth.

And the most amazing thing is that I haven't met a single person who doesn't respect my faith. I'm not getting any of the Anti-Christian backlash I would have expected and I have almost decided that it doesn't really exist. Christians hate Christians. I'm working on personal integrity and the confidence to just say what I believe without fear of judgement. I am working on being an "integrated" person if that makes sense.

In our Bible study, we talked about prayer and how the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with a language above and separate from human language. (Groanings too deep for words. Isn't that beautiful?) This is what I'm counting on. My faith has become simple and necessary. I have great need of simple things. And in some ways, while I'm more confident than ever before, I am also more aware of my fragility and my great need to be prayed for.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Proclamation for a New Year

Over the past few months, I've been ambushed by friends and encouraged by strangers. I've been the smart kid in the class and the scapegoat. I've been alone in community and a part of something in isolation.

I've learned that most of your friends won't stand up for you, but some of your enemies will.

 I've learned that most people prefer comfortable liars to a hard truth. I've learned that to follow your conscience is to shake hands with loneliness. I've seen the man behind the curtain. 

(There's someone standing behind him, too. And it's probably a woman.)

I've learned not to trust those people who declare themselves "leaders." They just want to put you on their resume.

I've decided that struggle is sweet.  I've decided that easy is almost always wrong and right is almost never easy. I've decided that no one is allowed to tell me who I am. I've decided to dig down deep and see what's there. 

  This year, I've reacted to unkindness with submissiveness because that's how I deflected heat when I was a child. It was a good way for a small person to survive. But, I'm not a small person any more. And when I was a woman, I put childish things behind me. I have no need to be afraid anymore. God's love has done away with my fear. 

I embrace radical un-niceness. 

 And I have been delivered from a fate that's worse than death. 

More than once. 

And I won't forget it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Worth the wait?

Also worth the wait.

Important Message

People I love

Because you're the wisest people I know.
Because you're prone to telling the truth. Because you're brave.
Because you're happy when I have good news. You have emotional integrity. And you just do what's happy.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I'm back.

This has been the longest hiatus from blogging I've taken in quite some time. I don't know how productive I've been in the paper-writing department, but I think the break was good for my brain. Last night, I presented my "Wanderer" paper to some other graduate students, some faculty, and my sweet husband who took off work early and drove an hour to be there. I think it is no small feat to listen to academic papers being presented even if you love the subjects. I was glad to have him there because it gave him some kind of insight into this weird life I've been having without him. Afterwards, some of us went to this weird little coffee place/bar/bookshop. I think that David liked hearing the professors talk about their work and their students. It made me feel loved to have him be there and enjoy it.

Our little family is the only thing that makes any sense to me most of the time.

I am so grateful for so much.

I've been thinking about a church-service we attended on Sunday. It made me realize that the only thing that matters to me about a church is that it employs a pastor who has a high regard for the Scriptures. I love to hear H.R. preach for that reason. He takes the Scriptures and his responsibility to/for them seriously. He handles them like a scholar. I like to hear J.R. at St. Peter's for the same reason. So many preachers feel that they can't just present the Scripture to their congregation without doing something to make it "relevant" or "interesting." This makes their preaching silly and insipid. Like high school.

Several of the papers presented last night were about teaching long classic poems to high school students. (Why they were talking about classic poems is a puzzle to me being that the class was about 19th Century Romantic British poetry.) Anyway, the consensus seems to be that high school students can't learn classic poetry unless the teacher does something like equate it to Tupac Shakur or make it into a rap. Seriously? One of the papers even referred to 9th graders as "beginning readers." The horror of that! Our educational system is churning out some stupid people who go to school and become high school teachers. (Now, to be fair, several of the education majors at Montevallo are not stupid. I can think of three.) There are no "good" public schools. There are students who learn to take tests and do what the government tells them. This issue will stand like a flagpole on the grave of American democracy. Count on it.

And the same thing is happening in church. We can't study Romans anymore. We've got to study "hope" or "marriage." There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though! There are groups of people who are reclaiming their right to think! This is a good thing. Resist! Stand up to the forces of darkness that would consume your brain! I really and truly believe that there is some conspiracy a foot to turn all of us into non-thinking means of production. I really believe that. We've got to do something about that!

Just to show that some poetry-raps are pretty funny, here is an advertisement tourism in Cambria. This is where William Wordsworth was from.