Friday, March 30, 2007

God and the Holiness Tradition

How have you seen disobeying one of God's commands or the power of sin fragment and destroy a person's life?

*And a follow-up question from my ever-heretical mind:

Are God's commands ever contextual? If so, how do we appropriate God's deepest truths to individual situations without falling into the trap of rationalization?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Practicing the Virtuous Life - Thinking it Through

Reflection Question: So, why do you think Jesus did not yield to any of the temptations put before him?

Monday, March 19, 2007

PRACTICING THE VIRTUOUS LIFE (and boy do I need practice!)

Jesus and the Virtuous Life

Read Matthew 4:1-11

Reflection Question: Have you ever had someone come to you and tempt you with an offer that was hard to refuse? Describe the circumstances.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Sex as an Act of Worship?

Every once in a while I'll hear a pastor give a sermon in which he (only male pastors have mentioned this thus far in my experience) will mention that sex is an act of worship. I've never heard this idea expanded upon, and a quick google search failed to turn up anything of interest.

In my marriage, sex has been used for many different purposes. Pleasure is the most common one, of course, but other reasons for it have included: comfort, bonding, relief of stress or anxiety, a release of sexual energy, etc etc.

I don't know that we've ever used it as an act of worship, though. I'm not even sure how one would go about doing so, and would be curious to hear anyone's experiences with it.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Choose one of the 5 exercises listed:

1. Set aside 5-10 minutes each day for prayer.

2. Spend 5 to 10 minutes each day in silence.

3. Read selections from a devotional book.

4. Pray the same prayer for 10 minutes each day.

5. Write an original prayer. Read and pray it every day for the next week.

At the end of this week, please feel free to share anything you learn or experience during the time you have spent engaging in one of these practices.


Reflection Question: Think of a moment in your life when you felt very close to God. Can you describe the setting (what were you doing and your surroundings) as well as the experience?


Read the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).

Reflection Question: How does this story match your own understanding of what God is like?


"Jesus asked God to 'remove the cup' from him - the cup symbolizing his destiny to die on the cross. Why do you think he prayed this way?"

Friday, March 02, 2007

Practicing the Prayer-filled Life

To start off the next Chapter in the workbook, please read the section entitled "Jesus and the Prayer-filled Life" or if you do not have the book, check out Mark 14:32-36. Spend some time quietly meditating on this passage and note any word, phrase or idea that comes from your time reading these verses.

Reflection Question: What impresses you most about this passage?

Please post any thoughts you have on your time with these verses. Please also share any experiences you have had in your attempts to "practice the prayer-filled life" in your faith journey.

I'll be following up shortly with additional points of discussion from this Chapter. Thanks to each of you for your participation rich it has been already!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Is Birth Sexual?

Yesterday I attended a workshop on writing for publication on the topics of pregnancy and childbirth. The meeting took place in the home of one of my midwives named Christy; sociologist Barbara Katz Rothman was our guest speaker. The participants were mostly midwives, doulas and other homebirth advocates, along with three breastfed babies who happily suckled at their pleasure, while their mothers brainstormed ways of storming the world for natural childbirth. And then there was me. I'm the middle-of-the-road, don't-fit-in-anbody's categories girl; the person who seems drawn to stirring up new ideas (often controversial) made from combining old opposites into something fresh and different.

A big conversation emphasis during the workshop was, not surprisingly, the skyrocketing Ceserean rate and the best ways to help women discover paths to healthy natural births through our personal stories, as well as more political and academic writing. Barbara emphasized the need to meet people in their worldview and find a way of communicating about a holistic approach to birth that resonates with a given audience's needs, rather than trying to convert folks to a totally different style of worldview. On the topic of finding a "hook" for getting holistic pregnancy and birth articles into mainstream publications, I couldn't resist a mostly-joking comment about getting Brittany Spears to have a homebirth next time she becomes pregnant, in hopes that giving birth at home might turn into a hip celebrity thing.

A middle aged woman jumped in and reminded us of the contrversy over the birth statue made in Brittany's image. I expressed my appalled reaction that conservative pro-lifers construed the statue of Spears birthing on all fours as sexual. Okay, it was Brittany Spears, but c'mon, we all know nobody, not even Brit feels sexy all the time, and I don't recall feeling especially like a seductress when I gave birth to my son last year -- on all fours. Primal, yes. I enjoyed pushing, yes. Were there some analogies to a sexual experience? Sure. But sexual?

Many of the women surrounding me rushed into to effuse dramatically, "But of course birth is sexual!," commencing a lively discussion of an upcoming movie called, "orgasmic birth," and the rampant discomfort out culture has acknowledging anything so natural and bodily as birth, much less the sexual nature of what is clinically named "labor and delivery."

Sexual is such a funny, fluid word. Where is the line between sensual and sexual? Between primal and horny? Between carnal instinct and sacred passion? Between physical sensation and biological metaphor? Lines. Lines. What lines?

Is birth sexual? By some definitions, perhaps. By other perspectives it might better be described as primally sensual, pointing toward longing, ache, release and bliss in an analogous, but utterly unique brand of passion. And for others, birth might be more like writing, or running a marathon or surviving an earthquake and realizing something beautiful came of it.

But however you look at it, birth is sacred. Giving birth is so very pro-life, as the statue of Brittany was aptly titled. And life is sexual. Is that so hard for pro-life people to accept?