Living the Questions

5 December 2008

Moved.

Filed under: Uncategorized — ikate @ 10:51 pm

We’re all mac-y now: http://web.mac.com/zonker1984. Then click “Kate’s Blog”.

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24 September 2008

transformation.

Filed under: Quotation — ikate @ 9:28 pm

“What you are, the world is. And without your transformation, there can be no transformation of the world.”

-J. Krishnamurti

5 September 2008

faith and politics (reblogged).

Filed under: Reblog — ikate @ 1:05 pm

Had to share this Facebook note from my college chaplain (and friend!), Brian Erickson. While I am not afraid to say I hate-hate-hated the attacks on community organizing made by Giuliani and Palin, thought the chants of “drill baby drill” were one of the most disturbing scenes I’d ever seen, and believe that Obama is one of the world’s most outstanding oraters (with one of the world’s most outstanding speechwriters), I deeply appreciate Brian’s commitment to bringing us all back to a more measured, analytical approach to politics and faith and life. “Change” – such a deep current in this election – will only come when we are able to critically assess all of the options, when we wrestle with the place where thoughts and actions collide – when we are not afraid to live in the tension and questions.

____________________

In general, I don’t think it’s a good idea for pastors to talk about political candidates. Not because I don’t think faith and politics don’t go together–on the contrary, I think they must.

The problem with mixing pastors and politicians these days is that the level of discourse about both faith and politics runs on a second-grade level. People want a church that meets their personal needs, serves good refreshments, and plays music that sounds like everything on their iPod. They want pastors who will comfort them and give them 5 step plans (preferably with acronyms) to creating “normal” families.

Most people do not come to church to be challenged, to grow, or to interact with folks who are different than themselves. They would rather gather with like-minded, like-looking people and worship a feeble, domesticated Jesus that asks nothing of them, but is really pissed off with everybody else.

Likewise, they want political characters who are larger than life, who always side with them, all while inhabiting the same shallow black and white universe. Rather than the uninspiring work of taking on the significant and complicated challenges facing everyday people, we want Mel Gibson to come out in Braveheart facepaint and beat the crap out of the bad guys with an axe.

We want Barack to be the anointed political leader who rises from Nazarene obscurity to lead us to Halcyon days, or we want John to be the selfless war hero who can win every battle and can no more bend to political pressure than he can raise his arms.

In both church and government, we want systems that work for us, reinforcing our unchallenged values, and largely ignoring the needs of those outside our comfort zone.

Back to my concern about saying anything political. My fear in addressing things like the recent political conventions is that our politics (like our religious affections) are so emotional and irrational these days that to reveal yourself as having a political thought is to distance yourself from half your friends, half your parishioners, half your colleagues. I was hoping our leaders would do a better job of modeling sensible and collegial discourse, but with the exception of the presidential candidates themselves, that was not the case.

Instead, both sides presented the same black and white world again to us, in which good (us) fights evil (them), and victory for the other side would basically mean weeping and gnashing of teeth for the next four years, if America is even around for another four years under their watch. I watched both conventions in full, consuming more C-SPAN than any human being should in a two week period, hoping to see something different.

I was particularly disturbed by the tenor of the Republicans on Wednesday night, culminating in the ridiculous speech by Giuliani (a man I had a great deal of respect for prior to this week) and Sarah Palin’s introduction to the lower 48. I was moved by McCain’s choice of a female running mate, until I heard her vitriolic attacks on “the opponent,” which included the belittling of community organizers. She is a phenomenal speaker, and seems to have some solid experience to back up her place on the ticket, but sadly, that is not what was on display the other night.

But predictably, it worked. It was exactly what people wanted. Republicans got a new hero, seemingly appearing out of nowhere, and Democrats received a new villain, a fresh cast member in this exhausting campaign.

The legacy of this, however, like most other campaign seasons, will be sore losers and powerless winners. We do not need any more bumper sticker rhetoric, which makes it seem more like we’re selecting a shampoo than calling for new leaders.

What we need most is to learn how to dialogue across our values, in both politics and religion. Not with the intention of fumbling into some relativist melting pot of sameness, but with the hope of encountering one another as fellow human beings, fellow citizens, fellow children of God. I ache for a political process that encourages that, rather than simply mimicking the worst of human nature on a grander stage. I am still foolish enough to believe that mature discourse might rise from the political process.

In this season of fervor and veneer, may we be mature enough to actually wrestle with our convictions, and stop thinking one party has all the right answers. May we be faithful enough to resist the temptations to paint the other side as somehow less intelligent or less committed to the good, no matter what signs they put in their front yard.

And may all the religious folk out there, especially the cowardly pastors like myself, rethink the place of politics in their teaching and preaching. And their Facebook posts.

31 August 2008

lost and found.

Filed under: Reflections — ikate @ 10:19 pm

One year ago, I was a week into a new job, a new apartment, a new life. I was going out to follow a dream (a call?) I was aware that the commitment I had made would be difficult to fulfill, but I was prepared to live through the tension and the struggle in order to find my place in the Kingdom.

Today, I am again a week into a new job, two days into a new apartment, just starting out on yet another new life. I am learning to navigate being among people again – settling in to two new churches, building relationships, finding my way around.

But this move feels so much different than the last.

One year ago, my life was full of open ends and questions. What would my job be like? Who would my friends be? Where would I go next? Now, though the questions are the same, finding the answers is not so daunting.

Perhaps it’s because I am moving to a climate and culture I am familiar with. Perhaps it is because I am among people who care about me. Perhaps it is because I have gained a greater understanding of myself and my relationship with God.

Finding this life – this life that, despite all of the remaining questions, seems to work – did not happen without struggle and mourning and giving up dreams. But as I struggled, I learned how to persevere. As I mourned, I found joy in interdependence. And as I gave up dreams, I stepped ever closer to that place where my deep yearning and the world’s great need will find their intersection.

What does this all mean?

When I was in the darkness and searching for answers, I thought often of Jesus’ charge that we must deny ourselves, take of our crosses, and follow him, but I rarely, if ever, thought beyond it. “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

As I settle into my life in Madison, I am still mourning some lost opportunities; however, I am also settling into the truth that all of that struggle and mourning and searching for self was productive, and was necessary – for only with that struggle will I be able to truly seek – and find – the Kingdom of God in our midst.

22 August 2008

welcome home.

Filed under: Uncategorized — ikate @ 8:57 pm

“It always comes as a surprise when I feel my withered roots begin to grow.”

A few weeks ago, I wrote these words that even then I did not truly believe or understand: ‘I am becoming more and more convinced that this search for God, for justice, for vocation is really just a search for home – a place where each of us can feel just rooted enough to stand firm through the storms of life.’

When I wrote those words, I was really trying to justify my recent choices to myself. To explain a decision that I was still convincing myself was the best option in response to my situation. I wrote those words to reassure the people with whom I was sharing that I wasn’t just running back to a comfortable place to settle back in to a passive existence.

And now, later, I am brought back to those words – and I begin to believe that they are true.

No place is perfect. No place will satisfy me forever. But for now, being here is right. Soon enough, I will embark on another adventure. The pendulum will swing back towards wanderlust and exploration. Eventually, maybe, I will settle into the perfect combination of challenge and stability.

For now though, it is okay to live with questions. Not just okay – living in tension and questions –  being grounded enough to live an examined life – is the goal.

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