Monday, January 31, 2011

Imaginary Iceberg

I took an AP exam with the poem "The Imaginary Iceberg" by Elizabeth Bishop on it two years ago, and it still comes to me every once and a while.
Including today.
So, I thought I'd share it.

We'd rather have the iceberg than the ship, 
although it meant the end of travel. 
Although it stood stock-still like cloudy rock 
and all the sea were moving marble. 
We'd rather have the iceberg than the ship; 
we'd rather own this breathing plain of snow 
though the ship's sails were laid upon the sea 
as the snow lies undissolved upon the water. 
O solemn, floating field, 
are you aware an iceberg takes repose 
with you, and when it wakes may pasture on your snows? 

This is a scene a sailor'd give his eyes for. 
The ship's ignored. The iceberg rises 
and sinks again; its glassy pinnacles 
correct elliptics in the sky. 
This is a scene where he who treads the boards 
is artlessly rhetorical. The curtain 
is light enough to rise on finest ropes 
that airy twists of snow provide. 
The wits of these white peaks 
spar with the sun. Its weight the iceberg dares 
upon a shifting stage and stands and stares. 

The iceberg cuts its facets from within. 
Like jewelry from a grave 
it saves itself perpetually and adorns 
only itself, perhaps the snows 
which so surprise us lying on the sea. 
Good-bye, we say, good-bye, the ship steers off 
where waves give in to one another's waves 
and clouds run in a warmer sky. 
Icebergs behoove the soul 
(both being self-made from elements least visible) 
to see them so: fleshed, fair, erected indivisible.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Line Between Logic and Belief

I have a love of logic and reasoning.
I feel as though in so many situations it is better to think about what is logical, what is reasonable at that exact moment than to let your emotions take the wheel and lead you down a path that is potentially destructive to your personhood.
Emotions are volatile.
They fluctuate with what you are experiencing and what other people around you are experiencing.
They don’t make sense most of the time.
And how many times have you acted out of an emotion and had it cause a lot of damage to a relationship?
I know I have more times that I would like to admit.
Logic and reason are constant though.
I become comfortable when dealing with these.
They make sense.
They follow a set pattern.
When I get overly emotional about something and I am not completely sure what course of action to take, the logical, reasonable option is usually the one that I will end up taking. Whatever makes the most sense in my own mind.
But that, my friends, is where the problem lies.
I have been realizing more and more lately how much I lean on logic and reason. I pride myself on being a woman of reason, a lover of all that is logical, sensibleness is high-standing.
When you look at life like this, there is no room for God.
God is not logical.
God is not reasonable.
Gosh darn it, God makes no sense!
And I’ve been running full force into a brick wall lately with this concept.
Yes, I believe in God, but at the same time, I cannot truly say that I am whole-heartedly comfortable with that.
The concept of God goes against my grain.
As I touched on last night, how much of the Christian experience is a product of environment? How much is manufactured by those in control?
And do I love God just because I grew up loving God? 
Because I feel like I should believe in God?
I’m sure there are people out there that would read this and be shocked, call me a heretic for asking such questions, for thinking such thoughts, for meditating on things that could be labeled "un-Christian".
So, call me a bad Christian if you wish.
Personally, I do not think that doubting is a bad thing.
Think about it.
If you did not ask hard questions of yourself, if you never asked yourself why you believe in what you believe, could it be true?
If you’re married, you know your spouse loves you. But, (although I have never been married) I have to believe that there are times of doubt. There are times when you wonder, does this person truly care? But I’m sure when you come out of that, you love the person even more. They stood by you, proved over and over again that they deeply love and care about you. Your love intensifies.
So, why can’t it be the same way with God?
I want to ask hard questions.
I want to doubt Him occasionally because I believe whole heartedly that I will love Him even more when He proves to me, yes, I’m here.
When, after all my doubts, after all my questions, after all my searching, He looks down at me and says, “I’m still here. I’m still God. And I still love you.”
I am not afraid of doubting.
I can only hope and believe that my doubts and my searching for answers in God’s word will draw me closer to His heart and reinforce those beliefs engrained in me as a child in Sunday-school.
And I pray that you begin to ask yourself these questions too. 

Would it be the Same?

Would it be the same without the lights, the screens, the sound system?
If you look at a church service in the united states, you are often confronted with spinning lights, big screens with the words projected on them with a swirling background, loud sound systems threatening to crush your ribs if they inch one decibel louder.
Often times it resembles something more like a rock concert than a church service.
And my question is, if you took all those things away, stripped the church back down to its most basic form, no building, no lights, no sound system, no swirling colours projected on big screens, would people still “experience God” in the same way?
Would they “feel Him” move?
Have you ever thought about that?
What if what you are feeling at that moment at church, that moment of heightened emotion that is the “movement of the Spirit” is simply caused by the environment you are in?
Tonight, I went to a church near my college that is really big with youth and young adults. Bright lights, big screens, you name it, they got it.
And, although I felt God, I was distracted.
It turned more into a performance.
The best singers, the best backgrounds for the lyrics, the best coordination of colours for the lights, the best logo for this specific conference.
The thought crossed my mind, Where is God in all of this show?
I longed for the simplicity that I have grown to love at the church I go to now.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I grew up in a church very similar to this, and I believe that it does reach out to people who maybe would not have gone to any other kind of church, it’s just become something that I’m not quite so fond of any more.
As I'm writing this, lyrics to a Jon Foreman song came to me, and I think it fits.
He writes:

I hate all your noise and pretense
The hypocrisy of your praise
The hypocrisy of your festivals
I hate all of your show
Away with your noisy worship
Away with your noisy hymns
I stop up my ears when you’re singing them
I hate all your show

I think we’re all guilty of this.
I know I am.
Putting on a show.
I guess I just want to see people (myself included) be able to experience God in any environment, not just one with lights and music.
I want to experience God when I’m sitting on my futon in my dorm.
I want to experience God when I’m walking to class.
I want Him to be anytime, anywhere.
Anyway, this was more me trying to sort out what I was thinking from the night, all those unasked questions that I wish we all talked about more, and I wanted to get you thinking too.
Hope I accomplished that if nothing else.
Also, if you go to a church like this and you were offended by anything I said, I apologize right now. That was not my intention. I just want you to think about it ;)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lunch Box Chat

As I'm sitting here in the library, trying to work on my homework, my stomach starts to grumble.
Then it gets louder.
I shouldn't be hungry, after all, I was in the cafeteria only an hour ago.
And that's what makes me frustrated.
At my college, we are required to buy a certain number of meals if you live on campus. Okay, fair enough.
But here's the kicker.
You have to eat those meals within their set time frame or you only get a small selection of cereals, and a salad bar that, if you're lucky, will have edible lettuce.
For lunch, those hours are between 11 and 1:30, and on a school day those hours are fine.
The issue comes in when you think about the fact that I go to a Christian college where (I'd estimate) 90% of the population goes to church.
Now, what are the average hours that a church service runs?
Yes, my friends, 10ish to 12ish.
Anybody else see the issue with this?
If you factor in the time that the average Christian spends talking after service, and the drive time, most of these college kids will be lucky to be back on campus within the lunch hour!
Cereal bar, here we come!
So, my question is, why is a Christian college's cafeteria only open till 1:30 on Sundays?
Wouldn't it make sense to wait to open till 12 instead of 11, and hold it open till 2?
Most of the church-goers could then eat lunch, and you know what? I think the people who don't would still enjoy sleeping in an extra half hour.
I guess I'm just too much of a realist for those set in their ways.

Having said that... I'm gonna go scrounge up some food somewhere else.

Friday, January 21, 2011


I was reading through 1 Samuel today and something struck me.
Hannah was a woman who desired one thing, to have a son, but she could not attain that desire without God. It took her years of being barren to get to the point where she said to God, “If You will only look upon Your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget Your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life…”
She offered up her one desire to God saying that if He would grant her that desire, it would be put to use to further His kingdom.
As I read this, I realized that I am not that different from Hannah.
I am pouring years of my life, all of my time and energy, into pursuing this great desire of a psychological doctorate. I pray constantly about making the right choices in the classes that I’m taking, the relationships I’m building, the jobs and internships I’m pursuing, and the graduate programs I’m looking into.
If you asked me, I would have to say (good or bad) that this degree is my top priority.
My degree to me is the same as a son to Hannah.
I need to constantly offer up my degree, praying that when I get it I will use it to the full work of God. That I use it to glorify Him. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

If a Man Will Begin With Certainties...

... he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.
~Francis Bacon

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 patiently 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'. It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them. Only if you struggle long and hard with objections to your faith will you be able to provide grounds for your beliefs to skeptics, including yourself, that are plausible rather than ridiculous or offensive. And, just as important for our current situation, such a process will lead you, even after you come to a position of strong faith, to respect and understand those who doubt. 
- Timothy Keller "The Reason for God"

I think that says it all for now.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sticky-Noted Poem

Hall of Fools
One by one they filter by
The wall of glass the only thing 
Separating them and me
They gaze in the room
Each staring in my face
But do they really see?
I'm just one in a
Hall of fools

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dangerous Words

Make me
Shape me
Into everything that You want me to be
So place me on the Potter's wheel
Spin me until
There's nothing left but You in my life
'Cause brokenness is what I want
So do a work here in my heart
So when You look at me
You see Your reflection

Those my friends are very dangerous words. Sure, they sound pretty, but I wouldn't suggest praying them unless you whole heartedly want your life spun around.
I can promise though that it will be worth it in the end. 
Getting closer to God is the ultimate reward of life. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We Are Far Too Easily Pleased

If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is more than philological importance. The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, not not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the  notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit the this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. 
C.S. Lewis

I don't think I could have said it any better myself. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

An Art Major?

A friend and I have this joke about me being an art major.
A few weeks or so ago, I was sitting and working on homework with my friend K. She was working on a lesson plan for an art class that she was student teaching in. We were talking about her plan and what she was doing with the kids. She asked me, "Do you remember doing ... project in intro to art?"
I look at her and said, "Uhmm... no?"
"Well, you did take the class right?"
At this point I'm laughing. I've know this girl for a year and a half and all the while she was convinced that I am an art major!
In her defense though, I do "dress like an art major".

In other words, I dress artsy, organic, out there... 
Defying the "laws of fashion".
Make my own path.

If that makes me an art major, then I guess you could say that!
But I'd like to think that it's okay for psychology majors to be their own person too.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Jeremiah 6:16
This is what the Lord says:
"Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, 'We will not walk in it.'

So often we come to a crossroads in life. Whether they are crossroads of major highways, the roads that can lead us quickly to or from truth, or crossroads of back roads, the choice between a smoother or bumpier ride, life is ultimately full of crossroads.
As I have lived my short life of almost twenty years, I have been through my fair share of major and minor crossroads. What college will I go to? What will my degree be? Will I do my laundry today or tomorrow? All crossroads.
But what is hard for me is seeing people come to crossroads in their lives and watching them make the wrong turn, and me feeling as if I am helpless to stop them.
It's interesting. I found this verse tonight and have been meditating on it, praying about it. Am I on the correct path, or have I made a wrong turn along the way? I can only hope that I have followed after God's heart, but there is that part of me, that small voice that I am so terrified of, the voice of my flesh, that cries out those simple words in Jeremiah that are so powerful. But you said, 'We will not walk in it.'
Is that what I have said to God at some point?
Have I screamed in His face that I will not walk in His ways? In His truth?
It sets that fear of God, that fear that I may not ultimately have the utmost control over my own flesh, stirring again.
This may just be the word that I have been waiting for.

I Lift Things up and Put Them Down!

I've seen this commercial multiple times, and it seems like each time I see it, it gets funnier!
Today, we were clearing out all the Christmas stuff in the house, and part of that process is moving the sofa back into place.
Now, my brother, crazy as he is, decided to quote this each time he lifted the sofa for me to put the little protective feet back on the legs.
"I lift things up and put them down!" he'd shout, each time making me laugh harder.
Life would certainly be boring without him!