Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sorry, Jenni...

Looks like we are staying put.

Yesterday, we had a contractor come out and look at our front porch. A front porch that was brand new just 2 years ago when we bought this house. It is now, literally, falling off the house. The steps are splintering and breaking off, the pillars have fallen down, the spindles on the rails are falling off. Every carpenter we've had look at it has said the same thing. "Idiots. They used interior wood and did nothing to seal it. Why even go through all the trouble and work?" The contractor today gave us a ballpark figure for replacing the porch. The porch that is holding up Ladybug's bedroom. (the support columns are sound and will be kept.)


Now, you guys may have that kind of cash stuffed in your sock drawer, but we do not. And if we sold our house now, after only owning it for two years, we'd be lucky to break even much less make up the $12,000 for replacing the porch. Chowder had a major fit when we got the figure and then he took a nap.

When we sat down and talked about it, we both just kind of said, "Huh. Looks like we'll be here for awhile." And when that had been said, a wave of relief and comfort washed over me like you wouldn't believe. I had no idea how stressed out I was at the prospect of moving again. I mean, I sorta knew. But, not really.

So, we looked around at all of the blessings God has put around us and we began to get our minds around this idea of staying put. We began to get excited about actually making this house our home. I haven't really done anything to personalize this house because I figured, why bother? we're just going to move again. We have been married 8 years and have lived in 4 different houses! I need some settling in time.

Chowder has now applied for a doctorate program, the kids have started school (what did she say?! school?! I'll tell you all about it tomorrow but let's just say that if Cakes could have started her own school, it would be just like this one.), we have Skaterboy's school situation all set up, I'm making new friends in the neighborhood, and I bought paint. I'm painting the living room.

*deep sigh*
yep. pledging myself to these walls. and after two years of yellow...I'm painting them blue.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Do I need to tell you how this ends?

Part 2

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The God and Science Discussions pt 3

So...finally we are coming around to the meat of the question. Creation. Well, first I think we need to brush up on the creation stories. First, the 7 day creation story. And second, the Adam's rib creation story. ok, did you read them? Cuz' it will sure help with this conversation if you did.

Having read the stories you will notice that they are two distinct stories. The first one has God creating the heavens, earth, plants, creatures etc, and then he creates man and woman together from the clay of the earth. His piece de resistance (sorry I don't know where my accent marks are). In the second story, God creates the earth and heavens and then Adam. But "it is not good for man to be alone." so, he creates all the creatures of the earth and brings them to him but alas, none of them fit the bill. Then, God creates woman from the flesh of Adam.

So, my question to Creationists has always been, "Which story?" Which one is the story of creation? The second story makes no reference to time at all. The first assumes God's days are our 24 hour days. Who knows how long a day of God's is? It could be a million years! In many ways the story of evolution follows the first creation story. But (science nerd alert!) did anyone notice that God created the plants on the third day, but not the sun until the fourth day? seems a little backwards to me.

Yes, I believe that the earth is millions of years old. Yes, I believe that life forms evolved and changed and adapted throughout this time. Do I believe that there is some magic line connecting man to chimpanzees? I don't know. maybe. But, the evidence is just not all there, yet. It is still a theory. A compelling theory. A theory that is constantly evolving and adapting itself as new discoveries are made. And anyone who says there is ample evidence to declare this linear idea of evolution a certainty, is not...well, is not a scientist. Do I understand when God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being?" (holy cow I love that image!) No, I don't have any clear idea of when God set us apart. But, I do believe that he did. That we are all a part of his image. Just as I can't tell you at what point the soul enters the human, but I know that is does.

If there is one thing I have figured out about God, it's that he is bigger than that. whatever that is. He is bigger. And just as I don't understand what he is doing with my pesky little life sometimes, I can't begin to wrap my brain around The Creation. and that is exactly why I love these stories so much. They attempt to make it understandable for me. and even if they fall way short (uh. Cain and Abel. Abel is killed. that leaves one male offspring to reproduce with who?), they are still the story of my creation.

As for Noah...there is plenty of evidence that a great flood actually occurred. And we can't expect the people of Noah's time to understand the vastness of this earth (heck! it was 1492 before we knew it was round!) So, to them the entire world did flood. I believe Noah could have built an ark big enough to house the animals of his "world." I do not believe there were dinosaurs on the ark, obviously.

And what if Noah didn't exist? or Adam and Eve? Does that shake something essential in my faith? absolutely not. Does that make the stories less true? no way. I am Noah. I am Dinah. I am Ezekiel. I am Miriam.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The God and Science Discussions pt 2

Please let us remember the rules...

The second part to answering the question

At your convenience, could you explain how a woman who believes in God and his Word does not believe that He created mankind?

gets a little stickier. It also has me venturing into the before mentioned realm of theology. And as I stated before, I am most assuredly not a theologian. But, here is my stab at my personal view of biblical interpretation.

*deep breath*

I believe that every word of the bible is true. That does not mean, however, that I believe every word of the bible to be fact. I believe the bible is the living word of God. But, I also believe that the perfect word had to go through the filter of a flawed human being. I am Catholic and if their is one thing that the Vatican takes seriously it is exegesis. I learned my faith and my view of biblical interpretation from my Catholic upbringing. So, for full disclosure here is what a once Cardinal Ratzinger (aka Pope Benedict XVI) said about exegesis.
The eternal Word became incarnate at a precise period of history, within a clearly defined cultural and social environment. Anyone who desires to understand the word of God should humbly seek it out there where it has made itself visible and accept to this end the necessary help of human knowledge. Addressing men and women, from the beginnings of the Old Testament onward, God made use of all the possibilities of human language, while at the same time accepting that his word be subject to the constraints caused by the limitations of this language. Proper respect for inspired Scripture requires undertaking all the labors necessary to gain a thorough grasp of its meaning.
and then
Consequently Catholic exegesis freely makes use of the scientific methods and approaches which allow a better grasp of the meaning of texts in their linguistic, literary, socio-cultural, religious and historical contexts, while explaining them as well through studying their sources and attending to the personality of each author.

So, this is where I'm coming from. In reading the bible literally, I believe there is a danger of keeping the word in the past. of it becoming too much of a historical document. Are there important historical events recorded in the bible? oh yeah. And do all people who read the bible literally read it as a strictly historical document? of course not. But, I have seen this danger.

The beauty for me of the bible is the universality of the people in it. I have screamed (or whined depending on the circumstance) at the front of the cave "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. I have moved here to the middle of nowhere to minister to this congregation, I have no access to infertility support, the church has rejected your call to service, my husband is doing mission work in Guatemala for 3 weeks and I am here scrubbing the blood of my lost baby out of the grout of my bathroom tile!"

When reading the story of Adam and Eve, it becomes a factual biography as it were, of two people who lived a long time ago instead of a story of me. The story of me and my life. God has created for me a perfect paradise and if I stay in him and live as he has guided me, following his will, then I can stay here and live my life joyfully. But, no. I'm scrambling up that tree over and over because I want to know what God knows. I want to make sure that I agree with what he has planned. I want it to be about my will. So, I eat the fruit. And I look at what God has seen as perfectly wonderful and I disagree. God never told Adam and Eve to clothe themselves. He didn't see it as a problem that they were naked. They decided that. They decided that what God created wasn't right. I try to change and control things and soon I'm in exile wondering how God could have done this to me. But the reality is that I, like Adam and Eve, created this all by myself. I'm the one who wasn't satisfied in the Garden of Eden. I am Sarah. I am Peter. I am Mary Magdalen. I am David. Their stories are my stories. And God reaches out to me over and over again, the way he did to them.

But, for me it is important to read the bible keeping in mind the historical context, the literary devices, the audience the books were written for. I don't have to be purified after my period, I don't think pork is unclean, I don't send my mildewy clothes to the priest for 7 days to see if they need to be burned. There is plenty of stuff that doesn't apply to our society today. I do not believe that Noah lived to be 950 years in terms of our 365 day years. And I do not believe that God ever ordained the killing of innocents in his name. So, where does that leave me? Does that make the bible irrelevant for me? Absolutely not. God is in the bible as he has been throughout history and is with us today. The story of God's love for his creation and his constant reaching out to it over and over is central to my understanding of God, myself and my faith.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Skaterboy's World Tour...

ok. So I'm stalling on my next God and Science post. I'm working on it. You gotta cut me some slack! It was 102 degrees AGAIN today!! *pant pant*

and ok it was a national tour. Skaterboy went with my dad out to Colorado to visit my brother. They went for two weeks and he had a blast. They picked mushrooms, went spelunking (I never would have climbed into that hole), my mature brother and he rolled big rocks down the side of the mountain, went kayaking, and went camping among other things. And the promised picture of Skaterboy scuba diving.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Why pastor's kids are such big dorks...

I'm still working on my God & Science post, but I thought I'd share with you what a found the kids doing this morning....

yep. playing "Communion"


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

You know it's Summertime when...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The God and Science Discussions pt1

Impressive title, no?

ok. Some ground rules.

  1. Notice at the top of my sidebar there is a Kind Blog icon. If you are not up to speed on this click on it and read it. I apply this to my comments as well.
  2. I will delete comments. I will never censor a person's opinion but I will censor the way you decide to express it. If I delete your comment I will email you explaining why and invite you to express your opinion again in a more respectful way.
  3. If you read an offensive or rude comment please do not respond to it. I will be checking my comments frequently and the comment will be removed. I expect all discussion to be respectful and not to give time or energy to people who are too lazy to express themselves well.
  4. These are open discussions. Meaning open to anyone of any faith or non-faith to talk openly with the intent of a good conversation and a hope of understanding each other better. Respectfully worded questions are encouraged and anyone is free to answer them.
  5. This is not a debate. It is a discussion. There are plenty of places to debate this stuff. If you feel the need to prove your point the correct one, I can point you to those websites. This is not one of those websites.
  6. If you don't like these rules. That's fine. You can go say mean things about me on your own blog.

I grew up going to church every Sunday. We said grace before every meal, made all of our sacraments, went to religious school from grades 1-12. My Faith Community is one of those quiet, personal communities. Faith was private and not discussed much. But, still you knew it was there. The rituals and rites never felt empty.

My father is a bio-chemist/bio-geneticist/something new that I can't remember. He is well respected in his field and has been a part of some discoveries and developments that touch every one of our lives on a daily basis. He has always loved the hands on aspect of his work and never cared for the academia or the frankly corporate side of the science world. He never felt the need to go beyond his B.S. in biology.

My mother is a teacher. She was head of the Science Department at my rigorous college-prep high school. She has her M.A.T. in Physics. Her students always loved her fun, passionate classes and her love of the subject.

As a child, I was brought out to explore my world through hiking, canoing, and camping. There was never any piece of nature that was too small to explain and point out, from different types of rocks, to sediment patterns, from nesting habits, to the parts of a flower. Nothing was ever judged disgusting or frightening. We caught snakes and held spiders. We'd spread out our blankets in the middle of the night to watch meteor showers or got out the telescope to see astrological special events like Haley's Comet. (We still email each other when we see that something is coming around.) Questions were always answered. Never shushed or belittled.

We regularly went to museums and watched episode after episode of Nova and other documentaries. Our development was filled with our world and my parents instilled a strong sense of respect and guardianship. We were taught to never disturb a habitat, always view ourselves as a guest, and never, ever anthropomorphize.

Although they never came out and said it, it was given that we were thanking God for his creation by taking the time to appreciate it. It never occurred to me that our exploration was somehow explaining away God. Of course the night sky was full of God's majesty as was the tiny colorations of the
Libellulidae family of dragonfly . I was honestly shocked when I got to college and realized there was some weird culture war between science and religion. It just didn't make sense to me. It still doesn't. I still don't really understand the animosity.

I understand the twitching and itching over biomedical ethics. I do get that. Trust me. I had plenty of reservations when we did IVF. We ended up with 19 frozen embryos. We had promised each other and God we would give life a chance to however many embryos we created. Well, 21 kids?! And the connection to these embryos is inexplicable. One of the hallmarks of an IVF baby book is a picture of Junior as a 3+ cell embryo. And when they are transferred you start loving and hoping and wishing everything you've got on the wee little fellers. You give them nicknames and cheer them on. Then you look at the resulting children and their faces flash before your eyes when you think of those embryos. (Well, I know not everybody's, but for lots of us.) I was so attached to mine that when I got the call from the lab that the batch they were thawing was arresting, I demanded they transfer them immediately because it broke my heart and I wanted them to be snug and warm and...with me.

So when the time came to make our decision, we sat down and talked to a priest friend who specializes in medical ethics. After discussions with him we decided that 6 embryos we had that were already in the 6+ cell stage had to be given a chance. But, we didn't have to worry about the 13 that were still in the 2pn stage. The nuclei, and therefor the DNA, had never merged so the identity of the potential person never formed. Splitting hairs? You betcha. (It turns out to not have mattered because none of the embryos every resulted in another child.)

But, to think that science cut out God was never even something I considered. I mean, God is so much bigger. Science, for me, was looking at the glory and love of God through the world he gave me to live in and explore.

By the time I was a senior in high school, my dad had stopped going to church with us. I didn't know why and since I had the teenage radar of hypocrisy finely tuned, I asked him. His answer was a long time ago, but I understood it as this. "I don't find God at church. I spend more time in awe of God and his creation when I'm in the lab than I do for 1 hour on a Sunday." He said every time he broke down a protein or examined a genetic code he couldn't believe the precision and beauty of the way it was all put together down to the minutest level. Sure you can look at a landscape of the Rocky Mountains and say it beautiful. But it is layer after layer after layer of perfect symbiosis and intricate detail right down to the microorganisms breaking down the leaves of the forest. And I believe that though he wouldn't phrase it this way, he worships God everyday at his work.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I don't take my responses to these questions lightly, so I'll need a little time...

Someone posted this comment on my science nerd post and I wanted to address it.

At your convenience, could you explain how a woman who believes in God and his Word does not believe that He created mankind?

Now first, I hope that whoever posted this question isn't someone who knows me, because it makes me sad that you wouldn't feel comfortable discussing my faith with me. I love open, frank discussions about beliefs. love. them. I am not insulted by them (unless you are insulting) or offended (unless you are offensive) when people question my beliefs.

Secondly, as I started rolling the answer around in my head it was like a snowball in an avalanche. It just kept getting bigger and bigger and bringing in more and more material. So, I am going to blog about this in a series of posts. I hope that's ok and you aren't crazy bored by the end of the first one.

Third, I am not a theologian. I did not go to seminary. I do love to read theology (nerd alert!) and religious thought from many different sources and religions. I will be blogging to the best of my ability, but it will be theological compost by the time I'm done.

Fourth, if you have been reading me for a little while, you will know that one of the things I hate most is anybody trying to put me in a box. (or put God in box, for that matter!) Please, assume nothing about me. Do not call me a conservative or a liberal Christian. I am neither and I'm both. If you must refer to me as anything in your head, you can simply use devout and unworthy. If you try to force me into a box I will kick and bite and pull hair until I'm free. Consider yourself warned.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

To the person who found me after Googling "Its too much for me"

Please know that I am holding you in my heart. I hope the words of the angel to Elijah strengthened you and I'm praying for you prayers of God's hope and peace.

Ok..I have another confession

You know those really annoying people who are constantly correcting other people's grammar? me, too. I'm not in the Grammar Police. I am however, in the Science Police. I can't help it! I know it's annoying because I was raised by scientists!! They used to drive me crazy! One time I invited my new best friend over to have dinner with us and my parents spent the entire dinner debating their theories on how the moon got into orbit. I was failing biology in high school and my parents were both dumbfounded and wanted to know why I never came to them for help. Were they kidding?! A five minute explanation turned into an hours long lecture. thanks, but no thanks.

total. nerds.

But now, I've become one of them. I can't even read Curious George to my kids without constantly fuming about the fact that George is NOT a monkey! Monkeys have tails. And don't try to give me the Macaque theory. It doesn't fly! Monkeys can't swing from limb to limb only apes can because their shoulder joints are formed for the swinging motion. How hard would have been to draw on a tail?! It's all I can do to not scream at the zoo when parents tell their kids to look at the monkeys when we're standing in front of the chimpanzees! *pant pant* They are apes! not monkeys!!

Frogs are not the same thing as toads.
Tortoises are not the same as turtles.
Porpoises are not the same as dolphins.
It's a sea star not a starfish.
Spiders are not insects.
Heat lightning has nothing to do with the temperature. It is a coincidence.
You did NOT see the Northern Lights when you were in Argentina! That doesn't even make any sense!!

I could go on and on. I know. I have a problem.

And while I respect my friends that are Creationist, I am a definite Evolutionist and I started yelling at a poor woman standing next to me in Toys R Us while I was shopping for the twins' birthday. The Discovery Channel had dinosaur toys with cavemen in the package! And the Flinstones?! Always drove me crazy. Whenever my kids go through the litany of man eating things (which for whatever reason they offer poor Ladybug up to in sacrifice. Would a shark eat Ladybug? Would a lion eat Ladybug? etc.) When they ask if dinosaurs eat people I get so damn irritated. like irrationally irritated with them. No, because people didn't live with dinosaurs.

Where I really lose my mind and tick people off is at museums. Parents, if you don't know the answer, don't make something up. Whenever I hear that (and it's usually men) I call them on it. "Sir, you just made that up. Why don't you tell your son that he has a great question and you don't know the answer but will find it out for him." or "Sir, you know there are people that work here that actually know the answer to that question." I know I should mind my own business. I just can't help it!

I blame my parents.