Lost: The Final Chapter

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The phenomenon known as LOST came to a close a few weeks ago. If you don’t watch the show, your life isn’t that different, except maybe some people you know are now able to converse about other subjects besides The Island. Talk of “candidates” probably refers to the upcoming midterm elections, rather than the list of possible folks to take care of the island. And mention of a plane flight probably relates to summer travel instead of the ill-fated flight that crashed into prime time six years ago.

Up until the finale, the big question of the series for many of us was, Will this thing cohere? I’m one of those who was burned by The X-Files so many years ago, and have never quite forgiven the creators for letting the show’s narrative get away from them so spectacularly. That experience made me a little gun shy with LOST—there were moments in the last couple years when friends and I fretted that the show could not possibly come to a satisfying conclusion. LOST just had too many loose ends, too many intriguing red herrings, too many trips down too many rabbit holes.

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Hate Speech on Facebook: Where is the Love?

A few weeks ago, I was alarmed by some Facebook activity I saw. A friend had “liked” a page titled “DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN.” While I recognize and respect that there are a variety of opinions on Facebook, I felt this group crossed a boundary of human decency. Its supporters say it is a joke and that it is not harming anyone. I feel that it is hateful to even joke about praying for someone’s death. The “joke” began with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as its target. It is hateful, regardless of the name inserted as the final favorite. What is further dismaying is to see the age range of the group’s supporters, including many who are not yet of voting age. What gives? Where is the civility? Where is the respect for the other?

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What Not To Wear: Off the Rack Ontology

I decided to go in civvies to our Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper. I wore a rather simple crew neck shift dress, deep maroon, synthetic, with a ruffle down the front and no-collared Janie shoved in awkwardly underneath the neck hole. It was cold and wet out, so I paired it with a pair of dark brown tights under brown leather boots. I imagine I also wore a brown corduroy blazer since the dress is short sleeved. My hair was pulled back in a no-frills ponytail and my ears were adorned with small fake pearls.

As I made my way to the buffet line, a young female parishioner leaned in close and quietly said to me "Can a priest be sexy?" I looked at her a bit quizzically. "Sexy outfit," she continued as she nodded with toward me with a downward glance.

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Let’s Talk about Sex

Every time a book comes out about Christianity and sexuality, I read it. (Well, I have not yet gotten to Rob Bell’s Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality, but it is on my list.) The Church, in all of its multidenominational glory, seems always to be struggling with defining and controlling sexuality, and sexuality keeps rearing its head and refusing to be defined or controlled.

The thesis of most of these books (especially those directed to young Christians) is that sexuality only really counts if it is expressed in the context of marriage and that any sex outside of marriage should cause a person to feel ashamed. None of them explore sexuality and spirituality in a curious, non-judgmental way.

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Organic Jesus

Last August, my husband, 6 month-old daughter Claire and I took a trip to Santa Cruz, California, to introduce our young daughter to my husband’s family for the first time. Remarkably, the entire family still lives within a few miles of one another, making the commute between homes easy. Up and down Soquel Avenue we drove, every day, strapping Claire in to the car seat, enjoying our freedom from the tyranny of the subway, and feeling very… suburban. It was a nice change of pace for us, to temporarily relinquish our gritty Brooklyn neighborhood for the beachside cottages and coffee shops of Northern California.

One afternoon, after finishing a late breakfast with one relative and heading to lunch with another, I glanced out of the window of our rented car and noticed a small church. It was a quaint, modern structure, unassuming and pleasant. By the side of the road stood a huge welcome sign for the church with the words “Organic Jesus” printed underneath the name of the congregation. We drove by so fast, I was sure I had misread, but later that day, heading back from lunch for an early dinner, we passed it again. Sure enough, the sign read as I had first thought — Organic Jesus. Well, this is Santa Cruz, California, after all; the birthplace of the New Age movement, as my husband likes to say, but this was too much. Organic Jesus.

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Contracts, Covenants and Conan

Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his house, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh and I will make you swear by the Lord…”

Genesis 24:2-3a

My Old Testament professor was the first person who challenged me to approach scripture in a sensory way, to imagine my way into the biblical narrative. I guess that’s why the promise between Abraham and his most trusted servant has, for better or worse, permanently set up camp in my consciousness.

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The Good Book

by Elsa A. Peters

While we search for epiphanies after the birth of our salvation,  I'd like to offer a review of a book that I have learned to cherish with my whole heart.  It didn't come naturally.  I had to literally learn to love this book like a fourth grader forced to write a book report.  I couldn't tell you exactly where it clicked or how this book became like an old friend.  I can only tell you that this book – the one that we call the Bible – has been a long-time best-seller in America for very good reason. 

It has songs that sing the deepest of human lamentations.  It has stories that speak of impossible hope.  It has parables that can twist around your mind. It has some women that totally contradict the attitude that the Apostle Paul uses to attempt to belittle them — although those particular epistles weren't actually written by Paul at all. This Good Book even has a few good miracles that make our ordinary god-sightings look plain.

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Where are the Wild Things? Chances Are, You’ve Met Them Before…

If you are anything like me, you remember the gritty pastel and grey drawings from Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are with a certain warm and fuzzy sense of nostalgia. I loved every bit of those monsters – beaks, horns, hooves, human feet, fur, feathers and roars – and I envied Max, that he could be the king of such a motley mischievous crew. But as I watched Spike Jonze’s cinematic rendition of the beloved children’s book, I realized that I’ve held that title before…

It is important to note from the get-go that this version of Where the Wild Things Are is a movie about a little kid – not a movie for little kids. It is often jarring, loud, heartbreaking – and it is filled with such emotional intensity that most little ones are likely to be overpowered. After all, they already live in their own emotionally intense roller coaster lives – lives that are, at best, filled with sword fights, sibling rivalries, and newly found emotions that must be tried on carefully like the loud paisley suit owned by your crazy Uncle Mike. At worst, those lives are filled with wild things enough – to layer on more would be cruelly unfair.

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A Concert as Worship Experience

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My husband surprised me for our September birthdays with tickets to U2 at Soldier Field in Chicago, our new hometown and the first stop in the 2009 360 tour. On Sunday, September 13, we trekked into the stadium with thousands of other fans, expecting quite a show. I’ve heard others talk about their U2 concert experiences as “fun” or even “transcending the moment.” I’ve heard the reviews – but I didn’t know until I was there.  It was a moving experience to hear the music and lyrics performed. The connection between musicians and audience was stronger than I expected. Something new is born as people listen, connect with the music and performers, and sing and dance along.  

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Hospitality, Community and Survival in Gran Torino

Clint Eastwood has done it again. Like fine wine, over time he seems to become more compelling with films like Million Dollar Baby, Letters from Iwo Jima, Changeling, and lately, Gran Torino. It is amazing he has been doing movies since the 1950’s and yet, he still remains provocative and interesting, particularly in the social issues he engages in his newest movie, the Gran Torino. In this film, Eastwood appears as Walt Kowalski — a gruff, bitter Korean War veteran who is alienated from his family. He’s also recently widowed. Being clergy, my interest always piques a bit more when there is a clergy character in a film.

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