22 August 2007

In Dust, Ashes and Fasting

I'm back in Esther.
I'm thinking about how she finds herself in the king's harem, in the good graces of the king and the eunichs (not at all the life she'd imagined for herself), and suddenly getting the news that her people are slated for annihilation. Complete and total annihilation. At the behest of that snake, Haman.

I'm thinking of the despair and the hopelessness the entire Jewish population must have felt. Haman has a reputation for arrogance, ruthlessness, connivance, violence, and all-around smarminess. Xerxes has a reputation for really liking all of Haman's self-indulgent and coarse suggestions. The situation is beyond management. It's beyond reason. It's beyond hope. The Jews are DEAD. MEAT.

There is Someone who might deign to assist...

Three days of fasting from both food and water. Three days spent crying out to the One who moves unseen and powerful. In dust, ashes and fasting. Three days with this song rolling over and over in their souls. From the bottom of the pit, they cry out.

If you find yourself in the bottom of the pit (any pit) you simply must turn up the volume on your computer and let the wailing worship begin.

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14 August 2007

Is There a Difference?

What, if anything, is the difference between




Really long essay answers are welcome. And desired.

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08 August 2007

Should He Call Her?

When we last left our story, King Xerxes had commanded Vashti-the-Knock-Out onto the catwalk.

She refused him. Flat out.
Refused the king.
Refused him in front of his gang.
Not only refused him in front of his own gang, but refused him in front of all the rival gangs he'd thrown this keg party to impress.

Man, what a drag. The guy gets no respect. She's dissin' him.
So he asks his peeps what he ought to do.

"So, if the king agrees, let him pronounce a royal ruling and have it recorded in the laws of the Persians and Medes so that it cannot be revoked, that Vashti is permanently banned from King Xerxes' presence. And then let the king give her royal position to a woman who knows her place. When the king's ruling becomes public knowledge throughout the kingdom, extensive as it is, every woman, regardless of her social position, will show proper respect to her husband.

... Later, when King Xerxes' anger had cooled and he was having second thoughts about what Vashti had done and what he had ordered against her..."

Should he call her? Beg her to forgive him?
Admit to being a jerk? A ROYAL jerk?

But then, what would the gang say?
They'd laugh, they'd scoff, they'd talk about him behind his back.

Oh, but Vashti, Vashti!
His Lady V. She's tearing him up inside.
Maybe she'll come back to him.
He misses her. Misses her like he'd miss his right arm.

No... he can't... his pride won't allow it.
He ain't missin' her at all. Since she's been gone away.
He ain't missin' her at all.
He can lie to himself.

Missing You, John Waite.
(For the record, I have always loved this song!)

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05 August 2007

Postmodern Progeny- An Interview


Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture


This is my friend, Mary DeMuth.
Back when the term "postmodern" was just a distant rumble, we were babysitting each other's kids. Now "postmodern" is a word we hear in everyday American conversation. The DeMuth's are no longer our near neighbors. And all of our kids are getting older, maturing, and growing up.

Mary's newest book talks about navigating postmodernism with this next generation of children.
Your kids and mine.
Here's a bit of our recent E-mail conversation:

What does postmodern mean? And why should it matter to parents?
Postmodernism is the waiting room between what used to be a modern worldview and what will be. According to several postmodern scholars, we’re in a shift right now, leaving modern ideas behind, but what we are shifting to is not yet fully defined. Postmoderns believe that rationalism and/or more education doesn’t necessarily create a better society. They typically don’t embrace the notion of absolute truth, though they reach for the transcendent. They are skeptical, and often question whether science is something to be embraced or feared. The question for parents is how will we mine the current worldview, even as it shifts? What in it can we embrace as biblical? What is not biblical? What I’ve seen in the church is a fearful adherence to what is familiar. So we cling to modern ideas, even though they may not be biblical and shun postmodern ideas even when they might be biblical. Our children will meet this shifting worldview no matter what our opinion of it is.

So, what aspects of postmodernism resonate with you?
The emphasis on community. It’s not about me and Jesus but about WE and Jesus. Plus the emphasis on the health of all people of the world. I’m tired of the American bubble, where we’re insulated from poverty, pain, disease and since we are, we don’t do anything about it. Most postmoderns care a great deal about the folks in this world. I love that.

What bugs you about postmodernism?

I happen to believe in absolute truth, so that’s a problem! But more than that, I worry that all our rambling about it, trying to discern what it is, has caused us to rely more heavily on our own intellectual pursuit of God than our heart. When I get caught up in that, I remind myself of my friend Jeanne’s son Jacob, whose heart after Jesus takes my breath away. Living with a brain injury, Jacob throws off pretense as he worships God, arms vaulted to the sky in unashamed heart worship. That’s the kind of believer I want to be. That’s the kind of heart I want. I love this verse: “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). For me, for my children, that’s my prayer, that we’d be simply and purely devoted to Jesus no matter what worldview we find ourselves in.

Compare and contrast your childhood with that of your children's. (ie. How do you see this postmodern mindset in your own kids and their friends?) Kids these days are more expectant of authenticity. They can see through a fake pretty easily, whereas in my generation, we may have seen parents as fakes, but we never said anything about it and we still respected our parents. But kids today don’t respect adults who hide behind facades.
And my kids are more globally minded than I ever was at their ages, though that could be because we lived in France for 2 ½ years!

How can a parent help their children prepare for the postmodern world outside their door?

Become a conversational parent. Talk to your kids. Listen. Share your story. Dare to believe that God has much to teach you through your kids. Be humble enough to learn from them. Create a haven for your kids, an oasis in your home that protects, supports, and gives kids space to be themselves. Take seriously the mandate that you are responsible for the soul-nurturing of your children. Teach your children to joyfully engage their world, while holding tightly to Jesus’ hand. Teaching this comes primarily from modeling it in your own life. Do you engage your neighbors? Are you more interested in God’s kingdom than your own? Admit your failures openly with your children, showing how much you need Jesus to live your daily life.

To the Christian who sees the way the cultural tide is turning and wants to meet it but finds themselves in a church or movement adhering to the familiar simply because familiar is comfortable, do you have any advice?
Just love Jesus. He transcends cultural shift. Dare to be all about the Kingdom of God, following hard after Him. That’s what we live for, anyway. That “well done, good and faithful servant.”

Describe a time when you pumped your fists and thought, "Oh ye-ah, oh ye-ah! I just did something postmodern. I'm awesome. I'm cool. I'm relevant."
Last August when I got my nose pierced!

Who is your favorite artist and why?
I love anything that smacks of American pastoral scenes. Love that stuff. Big skies. Pastures. Maybe a tree and a house.

This is for you, Mary.

Ryder's House, Edward Hopper, 1933

To purchase Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture, click on the book photo at the top of this post. To read more postmodern thoughts from creative author-mother-with-a-pierced-nose, Mary DeMuth, click on her smiling face above to reach her blog.

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02 August 2007

How to Spend a Summer Sabbath