Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Deconstruction Part 2

Thoughts on deconstruction:

These undeconstructables consist of justice, forgiveness, gift, and hospitality...
The Sermon on the Mount (Kingdom living) gives instances of Jesus' choice to enact these within his ministry.

To me these can be deconstructed within the idea of error. For so long these entities have been considered in the church though rarely acted upon. By the non cause of action it has stirred in many the need to act and react. By erroring those who are wrestling with The Kingdom see that we are in need of a reaction.

I think the church errors in saying it holds all the weight and knowledge on Truth. Binary oppositions would be male over female, the sacred vs. the profane, my denomination over or verse your denomination. I think as we see many churches dying we can see that it didn't evolve with the generations but stuck a claim in truth and stopped processing forward. These have been detrimental to love but when we realize that love really does win as well as justice and forgiveness than we are able to wrestle with a new truth that eventually will be deconstructed again.....

Where are there places in the world that are more like Jesus than the church?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Youth, Synthetic Model, and Sin

Barker: Youth, Style, and Resistance:
I have been doing research on youth for quite some time and I don't think I ever get bored with the topic. I think Barker brought new ideas and identities to the realm of youth. I walked away with new questions. When youth begin to interact with life they try to repurpose what they see and how they interact with the bricolage of life. At what point as adults then have we given up repurposing, re-valuing, deconstructing, and asking new questions on how life is and how we interact with it. I think youth culture asks new questions but how do we help students interact with consumerism and consumption in the church? Does it challenge the leadership of churches to reevaluate how we give the congregation hope outside of consumption or are we giving people one more thing to consume?

Cultural Politics and Cultural Policy:
What is REALLY the future of cultural theory and how do we make it practical in our everyday lives? How do we really make meaning and give identity to a topic that is so wide and expansive on so many topics...How do we begin to relate to all cultures when I have been given a Western lens to view life with? When the practice is so multi disciplinary how do we make meaning when there are so many cultural variables at play? I think these are my left over questions as I wrestled with the last chapter. I think the one thing that really stood out was the minimal interaction with religion and how that plays a role in our meaning making. How will the bigger church find meaning in the practice of cultural theory? How do we recognize that meaning is made in our current locations and communities and how do we make this practical in our expanding world views?

Bevans: The Synthetic Model
I really liked this quote: "The contextualization of theology must become an attitude. Christians have to give up the notion that there is such a thing as 'plain theology' or 'just theology.' Theology as such does not exist. Because contexts constantly change, theology has constantly to change as well" (94). I think this model really brings to light the questions that I have from the last chapter in Barker. How are we making theology practical to people? I don't want or need another thing to tell me how to act or what to do. I think this model lets life be lived out in a way that is beautiful and wonderful and lets real life be lived and theological praxis come into play.....

Response to Chase:
I really like your thoughts for this model. I think you are very right when you related this model into a postmodern context. I think there are also draw backs but I think this is the model where a lot of youth and young adults relate, draw, and find meaning within theology. I think the model is non threatening to relationship building and it shows and helps redefine what it means to wrestle with theology and approach scripture. I like that we can bring all of our experiences together and have them relate. Thanks for your post.

Yeah I don't like Cobb, I think he understands cultural entities and tries to make conclusions with everyday life, which I think is helpful but deep down I don't know if he is even convinced by the practice.... We are all broken and I think he lets that be known in the chapter. Even in the darkness we can still have light and even in these places we can show and share truth where once there was not light to be seen. As life progresses we need to be able to see that God can and should be in all places, even if they are places that we are told that it couldn't exist....

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Less Than You Think

I was fortunate last night to catch a little bit of the live stream from Wilco online. They just finished a five night residency in Chicago playing their whole catalog. To know who know me know that i have a bit of an infatuation with this band. I think their music is brilliant and so wonderfully made. Their musicianship is top notch and I love everything they do. Literally.

One of the songs that really got me thinking was "Less Than You Think." A song that is pretty blunt of a song that says we are not trying to do something that will change the world but making music....It plays with noise at the end of the track. I had read about this song about a year ago with JEff Tweedy commenting that the song was a choose your own adventure song, that when you were done with the noise you could change to the next song and that you experienced what you wanted with the tune. So smart. So brilliant. So DIY. Hearing it last night without the possibility of turning to the next track I sat and I listened. I listened to the noise with the full possibilities of whatever I needed to hear. It was intoxicating and calming. I was initially surprised to hear that they went on as long as they did, though deep down I was hoping they would.

Noise music is it's own entity. There are no choruses, break downs, or bridges. There are no verse chorus verse sing-a-long style songs. It is just a journey through different frequencies and different impulses. There is nothing you can dance to here. Though it is something to pay attention to. When you listen to noise it helps you spend time underneath the surface of the songs, sifting through the layers to get what you need. What you end up getting is something so rich, it's what ultimately guides the songs, it is the heart of the dialouge, it is the beauty of the moment. Each note is a contribution.

As I think about my own life I think that's what is often about. The little movements underneath that you get you to your ultimate goals. I hope that I never get so unaware that I forget about the stuff underneath that is moving me to the end of the song or the end of the chapter....

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Praxis Model

I think it gets my mind going when i think about the praxis model. I think it's literally the most practical way to do ministry and really get Kingdom ethics played out in our church culture today. I think I realized how disconnected I am from the church but I think in a healthy way. I think I am far enough away to realize that I am not as broken and sad about the state of the church and soon to be ready to jump back in and love people for who they are and not what a systematic theology wants people to be. I think the praxis model enables love without boundaries and get people invested and reconciled within their local communities.

Monday Class

Monday we discussed the issues regarding language as well as the state of modernity/postmodernity. I am really glad we didn't really do group work with the praxis model. It was a breath of fresh air to continue the discussion of how these social practices influence our daily lives and ultimately affects how and why we do church. The more I wrestle with these complex issues the more immanent it seems to become that we need to discuss the cross over discussion in our church and local communities. How we make meaning and hold these with the identity of language and post-modernism is important.

Monday, February 18, 2008

My So Called Life

I spent the last few weeks watching My So Called Life. I loved this show when I was in middle school and loved it even more now. The story lines were smart and simple, yet carried weight and understanding of what it is really like to be a high school student, rather than the shows that highlight overpriced bags, unfortunate fashion, and bad haircuts.

Claire Danes is so cute and interesting. She carries emotion and the character of Angela so well. She is smart, funny, and she does this interesting lip quiver thing when she is about to cry. The shows script is so well written and I love the quirky characters. I love that they have the characters have the same clothing that they wear in multiple episodes.

I am going to take a time out and talk about my love for the fashion in this show. I love the flannel. I love the flannel on flannel. I love the dr. martens she wore with slouchy black socks. I love that Jared Leto always wore those striped sweaters. I love that Ray Ann always had these crazy put together outfits with that sack bag. I love the fashion and if you see me lately I will be wearing flannel. I love it and I desire to bring it back.

It's interesting to watch this show as an adult. I liked following the mom character and how hard core she was to following the rules and the American way of life than sitting back and listening to what her kids are going through. I guess I am wrestling with the ideas and identity of perfection. I think it's hard growing up and knowing how to do the right thing. What is this right thing anymore? What are we trying to do and how are we trying to live? Are we going to get over the fact that there isn't really one right way to live? and to love?

I am not sure if there are answers for this. When I finished watching the season I realized how good it was and how relevant it still is today. I think we are still wrestling with these issues with students there are just different clothes and different musical tastes but the issues are still the same.

Television, praxis, and human nature

Barker: Television
I find it fascinating that all people draw meaning and find meaning in art in different ways. For this chapter it really hit me that we all come to television shows with different perceptions and we bring in our stories to make and find meaning. How we interpret the texts is really a valuable tool. How we do this in television could easily brought into our Christian practices and how we read the biblical text as well as practice how to decipher this meaning and practice. I think television helps bring a national identity as well as new global meaning.

Urban Spaces:
I like tying the practices of watching television shows with than watching how we practice our lives in public spaces. The need and identity of community is important and valuable with meaning making. We bring ourselves to these public spaces and then attempt to build or identify community in these public spaces. I like to think that we can also transfer the idea of sacred space into these public spaces and add another element to making meaning and practicing meaning in these spheres. I hope that as the church we can lower boundaries and limitations of where we can find sacred space and WE place new meaning to spaces that we pass in everyday life.

Cobb: Human Nature
I think we can easily tie in Cobb's chapter on human nature with the way we practice life in Barkers two chapters. Who we are and what we desire and WHY we desire these things are important questions to ask. We can see that life can imitate art or art imitating life. I think that was clear in this chapter as Cobb tries to explain where we find and make meaning and how that interacts with our spiritual nature. I think he offers new conclusions of how it affects our Christian identity but I believe that it doesn't offer hope in how we can repurpose this with new education. How do we understand and make meaning with these multimedia practices?

Bevans: Praxis Model
The praxis model shows that we can bring liberation and freedom to our ministry goals and potential. I think this model isn't presented as the most universal theory but I think it offers new ways to live our lives and where we can offer freedom from oppression. I think this model works if we are able to come into it with a foundation of desire to offer a freedom but it must not be confined to the church but be able to work with governments and power structures that continue to perpetuate the oppress nature of the system. The model has it's faults but done in the right way could be revolutionary.

Comment on Joe's blog:
like your thoughts on this post. I like that you brought up the fact that skin and clothes can be basically the same identity. I like that you brought this up and that it translate to our everyday life experience. It's amazing how much we can find God in our everyday life experiences and find experiences in the most mundane parts of our days.

I was also waiting for the negative from Cobb and he showed me that he could make connections with our everyday experiences and the culture. Though he really didn't offer hope. How do we find hope in all of these connections with our everyday experiences?

Friday, February 15, 2008


I have felt unoriginal and boring lately. Somedays I realize that I run in this perpetual circle that every few moths mimics a few months before that. I don't know why I feel like this. I have really great things going on in my life and the potential for a full and free life seems more and more attainable on a regular basis. The sun is still shining here and the opportunities can pop up at any time.

I still feel boring though.
I have on a shirt I bought in 2002.
I usually maneuaver in a three block radius.
I haven't bought anything other than food since Christmas.
I haven't gone to a show since.....I don't even remember.
I haven't seen a movie in a month.
I need my hair cut.

I don't think this is complaining but a realization I need to get a move on with trying new things and not being afraid of the unknown. Moving in patterns of recognition is safe and maybe this is the calm before the storm but it makes me restless. But I keep laughing and making weird noises and sporadic movements. Kind of like the scene in Garden State when Natalie Portman does the finger-noise thing in her bedroom, that thing she does when she feels unoriginal.

Here's to hoping for new beginnings.
Here is to so much more.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wednesday Class: Modern and Postmodern

I realize that I hate group work. Not that I don't like the people I am in class with but I enjoy hearing theory and how does that relate with our contemporary church culture. I wish we could draw the connections together in class. How do we take this theory and make it practical? I think the modern (first and second_ or postmodern thought is really important. How does these push against one another and how do they interact with our everyday lives?

We live in a current space where consumerism is key and our worth is based on what we have and what we believe. How does this play in our lives and what are we doing with this with our thoughts and practices?

I know I have ideas and this is what I should continue to process and write my paper on.

A Culture of Fear?

I have been doing ALOT of school work lately. In the spare moments in between reading and assignments I steal moments of pleasure and get to read magazines. I love them. I want a lot of them but only have small moments to read a few of them. This month I have been working on ideas about hip hop culture and bought the new issue of Bust because I love it and it also had Eve on the cover.

The issue is interesting because it had an article about a woman who rode her bike from Winnepeg to Texas all by herself in less than two months. The one question she heard repeatedly was 'aren't you scared?' She explained that she was scared because everyone offered her a scenario that freaked her out. The only thing that was was a problem on her trip was that a racoon attacked her bag but not a scratch happened by another human being.

The question was raised of why are we so afraid? Why do we fear the unknown to a crippling degree?

I have been reading a book entitled After God by Mark Taylor. He offers that if we approach life within a post-modern context that we would discover our creativity and the ability to live within a space of unpredictability as well as being insecure and often times random. I think fear gets displaced in this setting. Why are we so afraid and why does fear limit us so?

I had the chance to lecture at a Women's History class at Pasadena City College. In the class I got the chance to offer hope for women and men to look at their gifts and talents as they encounter feminism. In the class I heard a bit of fear. Fear that change would disrupt their lives and that would not be a positive things but almost a negative. Change and fear work hand in hand often times. I think I am wrestling with this idea because fear and change are wrestling inside me. I graduate sooner than later and that promises that things will have to change and I will need to find a new way to use my time.

What do we do to ease our fears?
How do we move ahead without being chained to our fears?

These are my questions...what are your thoughts?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Reaction to the Anthropological Model

Today's class was interesting but I am not a huge fan of group work. I like the Anthropological method and I think it is useful because it creates conversation rather inserting your beliefs into someone elses culture. It helps us to sit back and realize that we can make meaning with anything in our culture. Talking and integrating coffee, football, and the environment really hits on how many different Americans and Western culture. It helps me to know and recognize that we can create meaning out of our past times and hobbies.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gender, Race, and Anthropology

This weeks reading were pretty good overall...

Bevans: The Anthropological Model
The Antropological Method has someone come into a new culture and try to make connections with the culture and biblical truth and revelation of God and who God is. We are adapting our Christian models with the ideas, values, and representations of the culture. I enjoyed the quote: "When we approach the man of another faith than our own it will be in spite of expectancy to find how God has been speaking to him and what new understandings of grace and love of God we may ourselves discover in this encounter" (pg. 56). I think it opens up our eyes to see how God is working in the lives of people and like Paul in Acts we can name the God who is in control of these actions.

Cobb: Images of God
I found it interesting that Cobb choose certain aspects of how culture wrestles with Christianity. I think he did a good job revealing how we invest our time and thoughts into who is God and where has God gone in our community. I think people are seeking for a gospel that helps then wrestle with concepts that our deeper and bigger than a message that was about damnation. I think we missed something about grace and communicating this concept because wouldn't we be in a different place if people could understand this concept and seek it in their life. Cobb expressed and revealed a disconnect between cultural producers and God.

Cultural Theory: Race and Ethnicity
I liked the simple definitions of race, racism, and ethnic terms. It helps propel easier understanding of the core of judgment and superiority of differences. I found it interesting that the connections between race and cultural value was found in media portrayals of their certain race or ethnic group. Issues of power and control seem to be the foundational factor in this heartbreaking issue. It seems that often times our fears get in our own way to see people as humans. If we connect with to the Bevans book it seems that American Christians have a hard time seeing the beauty of the gospel working outside of their safe zones that we all create for ourselves. What would happen if we died to ourselves and perfection ideals and sought out the transforming power of a gospel that was surrounded by Kingdom Ethics?

Sex, Subjectivity, and Representation:
I love reading and engaging Feminist thoughts and brining to light the demoralizing and oppressive nature of women. I think it's sad that a whole chapter has to be written about the nature and humanity of women but I know that this work is positive, healthy, and useful to seeing people as whole humans rather than just their gender or the previous chapters recognition of different skin tones. It's amazing that if we begin to learn about how one another process life and moments we begin to understand the beauty of life and how we live in and with it. I appreciate the beauty of my gender but how does the church reconcile their past oppression with future hope of equality and unity? And how does that then translate to the American public?

Classmate Response can be found here for Todd's post on Cobb.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Who will be the choice?

Super Tuesday seemed to just muddy things a bit. Things seem for the democrats still separated between Barack and Hillary. As I was pretty interested in what was going on I watched the returns on ABC. I don't know who said it but I heard a really interesting connection. A commentator mentioned that the 60+ age group is established with Hillary. It makes sense, it's a rational decision, it's safe, and this woman will be able to articulate and put into action established Democratic ideas.

Barack is someone who appeals to the 30 and younger crowd. These younger voters are willing to take a risk on someone who can change the way politics are played. There is a fresh voice and a fresh approach to how the White House could be run and people can be seen beyond their party affiliations. I think Barack is someone who can make a difference and change the way that the game is politics are played.

As I reflect on the candidates and this interesting population connection I realized it was because there are two distinctly different philosophical ideals in play. The philosophy of the older generation relies on modern processes of rationality and reason while the younger set is quite Post Modern with the ability to hold on to someone who is a risky choice because we are not sure how things quite can go but we need to believe in one another rather than relying heavily on a political system that shouldn't take care of all their problems.

Life is uncertain but I think it's worth the risk in believing in something beyond yourself and beyond what I just think and what I just believe. How do we listen to one another and hear one anothers needs?

Wednesday Class: Marxism and the Frankfurt School

If I was afraid of heresy I would have gone to Moody! (Todd Blackham)
( I thought that was funny)

Today's class was great. Monday I had a hard time making connections from the class. I think translation model is important but it just wasn't working for me. Today though with our discussion of Marxism and the Frankfurt school really got me thinking and processing. It is really connecting with my soul and spirit about how we make meaning with cultural artifacts and what and how we give meaning to things in our culture, how we produce in culture, and what we do with the meaning.

It reminded me that we need to be able to process through the arts as well as popular economy. The cycles of consumerism is something that needs to be discussed farther as well as the Post-Modern Marxism. I would like to know more about how we can make pratical applications to my everyday life.

I used to work with middle and high school students, especially girls, and teach media literacy. To understand and know how to decipher how our culture works is almost a foreign language to students. These kids spend so much time with these cultural artifacts yet have not a clue how to process through these media pieces. I think it is a great link with our faith to understand how culture works. Because so much of what we were talking about makes sense into the Christian faith saying believe what I believe and make sense how I make sense. I think we make make connections with Marxism but know what our Kingdom ethics make connections with life and what is worth living.

We can't be afraid to make connections with culture, it is neither evil nor bad. I think if we can change an evangelical language that takes chances and risks love it might be worth something to believe in.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Tuesday!

Photo from Obey

With the athletic Super Bowl being a bit shocking I am gearing up for my Super Bowl, Super Tuesday! I have enjoyed politics since I was in High School. I loved that I could register to vote and has been a privilege ever since. My politics have changed quite a bit since I was 18 years old, growing up in a suburban neighborhood with conservative parents. I feel like I have a different language now than when I was an early voter.

My love for suffragists might draw from a few locations but knowing I have the privilege and the right to vote is such a pleasure. Every time I vote I feel like I get to wink at the women who forged so mightily ahead for my rights as being an equal. I am grateful for their ability to give up so much and as a woman every time I vote it is like a thank you for their work. That being said I don't get to vote tomorrow since I am still a Michigan resident and the Democratic primaries didn't count towards the caucus votes.

I am intrigued to find out the response of who we have voted for and who the majority of the country wants to have as their respective Democratic and Republican candidate. For me I am a Barak woman myself. I was so surprised a bit because of my stance of women in office. I like Hillary but I enjoy the voice of Barak and what he is standing for and the issues he is willing to stand behind. I like that he never supported the war. I like that he has both Muslim and Christian heritage. I like that he stands for the poor and urban populations. I like his ideas towards health care that is affordable to all and I like that he is willing to take away the tax break for those companies that are overseas. The jobs in America are swindling and we need to find out a way to make that easier for people.

As a Christian my concern for the poor go quite farther than the hot button issues of homosexuality (which is a non issue to me. Let people be free in who they are and how God has created them to be) as well as abortion (we have no education that encourages people to freely become who they are and we have enough dont's about sex rather than the ability to be educated as well as making choices for the self) that I think that the poor, health care, and the Iraq war needs to be dealt with first. My ethics guide me towards Kingdom perspectives that God is here and now and that we can create life that eases the burden.

Those are my thoughts and I am proud of who I am, where I came from, and have the ability to raise my voice in this issue. I don't need to debate my ideas and I know that this is something I am completely behind. I don't really wish to argue on my stances but if you have questions why please feel free to let me know.


Sunday, February 3, 2008

Reflections on Week 4 Reading

Cultural Studies: Barker: Postmodernity
I really liked this weeks reading in Barker. I think this chapter was very insightful on the history of modernism with reason, rationality, and the quest for absolutes. As I was reading I realized how much I related to being a postmodern thinker. "Core to the postmodern structure of feeling is:
-- a sense of the fragmentary, ambiguous, and uncertain nature of living
--an awareness of the centrality of contingency
-- a recognition of cultural difference
--an acceleration in the pace of living (207)

With this knowledge it is hard not to recognize the importance of postmodern thought and those who helped deconstruct modernisms idealism to reveal a sense of unity within ALL people. It seems that modernism was set up for bourgeoisie western white men who could control power with absolutes, the one 'little' flaw seems to be all the others that have risen from the ashes or have been oppressed by this thinking demanding liberation. Postmodernity is not simple but it is making more and more sense to me.

Issues of Subjectivity and Identity:
LOVED this chapter. I love digging in to the "I" and wrestle with finding meaning and identity. I think this chapter was really insightful to understanding what makes up the self and what in the self we find valuable and important. I was really challenged by the concepts of agency and the subchapters of choice and determination. It's amazing to realize all that enters in the self to execute a choice. I think it's interesting that their are so many factors in the person presently but also cultural factors, past choices, and future desires. I think this is really important to assimilate our theological understanding because without wrestling with this concept what is the point of wrestling with our faith?

Theology and Pop Culture:
As the chapters progress I am having a really hard time with this book. I think it's interesting that with cultural theory a lot of understanding is based on language and the use of language. I think Cobb is having a hard time straddling the historical religious language and current postmodern thought. If we take the argument of language seriously this theological tools section could have been a chapter that gave ways to bridge the languages together. Instead I received (although valuable) a history lesson on Tilich. The problem is that we are past a point where Tillich's thoughts can set up a viable foundation for a real analysis of popular culture in 2008.

Contextual Theology:
The Translation Model seems like a viable option for translating the gospel with the least cultural damage. Granted I haven't read the other models but this model is set up simply. Experiences of the past, scripture, and tradition impact our recognition of how we should experience the present and how that works with culture, human experiences, social location, and social change. I think we bring our own values and we communicate with the location one might transition into. We must understand our own values so that when we enter into others we are able to educate ourselves on their cultural values as well.

Response to Jason's Post:
I like your thoughts on this chapter. I think you ask a great question when you as about the elements that draw us nearer to our faith as well as to God. At what point does the symbols switch from a personal spiritual experience to something that manipulates and consumes a Christian identity? To go further do these experiences begin to define the person and want this for others and if we do does this turn into a trend because others want this as well?

Thanks for your thoughts Jason. I really appreciated our after class conversation about Marxism. I think it is really important that we continue to find the beauty of our history both good and bad and wrestle with that in our own personal faith.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Thoughts on Marxism

Wednesday in class we finally started to combine our reading with the lectures. I am all about the missional/emergent church but that's not why I took this class. We had an interesting history lesson of the intent of Marxism and Communism. It's beautiful intentions of knowing the producer of the good you are intending to purchase is something that I can't stop thinking about. As an American culture we have become really disconnected between what we buy and who has taken their life to make this product come into being. I think that Marx and Communism had some beautiful intentions but how they played out in a global market place and the overthrow of dictatorship is highly unnerving.

I was trying to connect the relevance of this conversation with what is happening in today's marketplace as well as the highly anticipated elections. How does a new way, or change, come into our national economic plan? How do we take a capitalist society and make meaning with how we consume. Money and goods seemed to be a high talked about topic on Monday's State of the Union Address. Bush has allowed Americans to receive a tax break so we can buy more goods from the stamp of the USA. The problem is my clothing all has names like Malawi, China, or El Salvador. Where I am sure that they were most likely not paid same wages as Americans and Corporate Business Men will probably drive their BMW to work because I bought a pair of pants from their company.

I know that Marxism was idealistic and the beauty of unity and moving to a classless society seems valuable and something that was desirable within our nation state. I believe that Americans need to find new identity and meaning with how we purchase, what we purchase, how we work, and ultimately give meaning. What can we continue to learn from Marx? What went right? Where can we learn from the mistakes?