I'm Roz, and this is my relaxed space. It's about fun, good conversation and — well yes — good conversation. Pull up a well-padded armchair and help yourself to something to drink. You'll find cheese and crackers on the sideboard. What's new with you?
If you're looking for things in a more serious or spiritual vein, you can check out Exultet where I write that sort of thing.
James Caviezel's new film Stroke of Genius is now in the theaters. One thing that makes it special is that Daughter Julia not only worked herself silly on the production crew for the flick, but that she gets onscreen credit for it.
I'm excited. And I hear it's a great movie, too. See it. Early. Often.
Happiness is a gift box from Zingerman's Deli. For you folks unfortunate enough to never have walked through the golden portal, Zingerman's is an Ann Arbor legend, rightly supposed to be the only really good deli between the two coasts. My dear children chipped in (I presume -- make sure you pay Miriam, OK kids?) to send me a box of wonderful goodies for my birthday. I was the envy of my co-workers. I did share a little, but most of it is in my kitchen at this very moment, waiting to be enjoyed.
See what you're missing by not being here visiting me?
Amy Welborn's blog has a discussion on a post by Fr. Rob Johansen on the moral differences between abortion and other issues in the pro-life framework such as capital punishment and concerns about the morality of the Iraqi war.
It drew me to think about my own reservations about capital punishment. I'd appreciate your thoughts and comments (if any of my readers can forget my recent flights into flimsiness and deal with a weighty matter for a moment).
There are many moral arguments for or against the permissibility of the death penalty in the case of serious offenses. I'll leave behind the question of "how serious is serious" because my own reservations start before you even get to that point.
My position on capital punishment is more linked to pragmatic human limitations. IMHO, the philosophical arguments for or against are subordinate to the question, "Is it likely, or even possible, that a system of capital punishment will execute only the guilty and spare the innocent?" As long as this question is answered in the negative, then the abstract question of whether the guilty should be executed seems moot. It's never right to take innocent life.
On a less analytical level, I have additional reservations about cutting someone's life short who might -- given additional days, months or years -- otherwise have reflected on their lives and believed the gospel.
I would like to learn more of the poetry of John Donne (only partly because of Lord Peter Wimsey's recommendation).
Batter my heart, three-person’d God; for you
As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
A friend got the following e-mail from her son serving in Iraq. There's not much else that can be said.
"hi there, well, as you all may know, we are returning from al nejaf, probably the worst 10 days of my life. i will have to keep this one short, tomarrow i will get in to what happened, but my friend cruz had his jaw blown off and now he is brain dead. a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) hit his vehicle, taking out the drivers legs and cruzes jaw. i have a lot of hate towards the malitia who did this to him. anyway, we got attacked 9 times on the way home, 20 hour drive. no one killed, lots injured. things are heating up over here, i see lots of shooting. screw iraq and everything in it"
One of the traditions in our family (at least among my daughters and myself) is the (sometimes) spontaneous recollection and sharing of sparkling moments of movie dialogue. This is usually followed by peals of laughter, but in the absence of a reliable method of keeping track of which of you may or may not be laughing, we will give everyone laugh credits just for showing up.
I'll start you off, but use the Comments box for your own contributions. Remember, it's got to be sparkling!
* * * * * * * * * *
"Oh, stop, stop!" (Wipes mock tears.) "God, I loved that movie."
Sleepless in Seattle
"I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food."
Vizzini: "Ha-ha, you fool. You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is "Never get involved in a land war in Asia", but only slightly less well known is this: 'Never go in against a Sicilian, when *death* is on the line.'"
The Princess Bride
"I suppose the life of an anorexic duck doesn't amount to much in the broad scheme of things."
Megan: "I'm sure you plan on being level-headed, but once you're in the moment, the male brain seems, I don't know, everything they say suddenly seems brilliant. Hairy legs are your only link to reality."
Grace: "You should needlepoint that on a pillow."
Return to Me
Edward: "She's heading an expedition to China shortly. I'm to go as her servant. But only on the understanding that I am to be very badly treated."
Sense and Sensibility
Charlie: "Ray, you're never gonna solve it. It's not a riddle because Who *is* on first base. That's a joke, Ray, it's comedy, but when you do it you're not funny. You're like the comedy of Abbott and Abbott."
Bianchi: "You mean you saw the man? You can identify the murderer? "
Mrs. Hubbard: "I mean nothing of the kind. I mean there was a man in my compartment last night. It was pitch dark, of course, and my eyes were closed in terror-- "
Bianchi: "Then how did you know it was a man?"
Mrs. Hubbard: "Because I've enjoyed very warm relationships with both my husbands."
Bianchi: "With your eyes closed."
Mrs. Hubbard: "That helped."
Murder on the Orient Express
Guard: "Are you coming peacefully or do you intend to resist?"
Porthos: "Oh don't be so stupid, of course we intend to resist! Just give us a moment, all right?"
The Three Musketeers
This week and next, I'm the designated "Coach On Call" at the Leadership Center. Being 'on call' is not quite as cumbersome a role as it is for your family doctor, but it does require some real energy. Several training programs will take place each week for first-level and middle managers, and I'm the gal designated to provide coaching for whoever wants to sign up during their infrequent free time. (We call it, inelegantly enough, "coaching in the cracks".) It's not difficult. In fact, I love working with this group because I have great sympathy for their positions -- caught between the employees who need things from them and the managers above who require more and more. In general, they're delighted to find out that there are indeed actions they can take to make their jobs and lives go better.
The part that's challenging is that the openings for appointments are primarily during mealtimes. While not hard in itself (remember how good the food is here?), it means I usually have a 7:00 a.m. breakfast meeting, noon lunch, 6:00 dinner meeting, plus I give a workshop on Wednesday night, and I'm in and out of the program sessions quite a bit during the first few days of the week. It's not a whole lot of added work, but the days stretch long. (Am I whining? Sorry.)
I'm looking forward to the weekend, as you might expect. A friend and I are going out for a nice dinner and a movie on Saturday. Of course, there's baseball on TV and I'm holding out hope that the Redwings playoff games will be televised in this area. (What's wrong with me that I look forward so much to sporting events and couldn't care less about going girly shopping? I guess my long-time married state made its mark.)
I've seen this little exercise but never paid attention before. It's even more fun than opening a fortune cookie:
1) Grab the nearest book.
2) Open the book to page 23.
3) Find the fifth sentence.
4) Post the text of the sentence in your journal, accompanied by these instructions.
Well, I liked this so well, I'm posting results from several books. To be fair, I'll list them in the order that they were grabbed, so I don't feel like I'm cheating. (I guess I am more scrupulous than I might have thought.)
True Professionalism; David Maister
Think back on all the work you have done in the past year or so, and divide it among three categories, the first of which is "God, I love this! This is why I do what I do!"
I believe that in an earlier post, I used the word "whipsawed". My, that feels accurate. I've spent the past week ricocheting between the sacred and secular, business and personal, Eastern and Pacific, the unpredictable and . . . well, . . . the slightly less unpredictable.
I was reconciled within the Catholic Church a week before Easter, and my devotional life has been deeply blessed as a result. The holidays (holy days) were wonderful.
The Phoenix meetings were a case study in productive upheaval. Due to a corporate restructuring, a lot of important issues at work are now up in the air. I'm proud of my team - we're not taking it lying down but are developing a good game plan to respond actively and constructively. But it will take a whole lot of work over the next couple of months.
At the same time, I'm feeling the consequences of having split my attentions so much between Michigan and St. Louis. I'm going to have a lot more of my attention focused on work where I haven't been as successful as I'd hoped in beginning to build a network. I DO have a celebration dinner scheduled on my birthday with a colleague, so you can tell I haven't completely lost sight of my personal priority of having fun in the midst of whatever is happening. Also, now that I know what kind of church I want to be part of in StL, I can begin to attend regularly and get to know people there. I'd sort of held off, as I'm sure you can understand, until the whole "Am I Catholic or am I not Catholic" question got answered.
On rereading, this post looks a bit bleak. I plead jet lag and the emotional effects of corporate restructurings. But go ahead and have compassion on me -- e-mails and comments are gratefully appreciated.
I'm in Mesa, Arizona at a meeting of the executive coaching team. A big reorganization has been announced which will have a lot of implications for the internal realities of my work, but not a lot of changes for where, when and how I'm working. Busy busy, but what else is new?
Gotta go. Meeting is reconvening. Talk to you later.
It's late, I'm tired, I have to be at the airport early tomorrow for a business trip to Phoenix. But I can't let Easter come to an end without reflecting a bit at how much it meant to be home for what is really my favorite holiday. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Saturday post-dusk 3 1/2 hour Easter Vigil Mass -- I wait for all of them all year.
For the first time in years, I went to a celebration or two after the Vigil. It was nice, but somehow I didn't feel particularly celebratory at that hour. Funny how getting older changes things.
I need to go pack for 84 degree weather. It isn't quite as enticing as it would have been in February.
Roman Catholic Cardinal Sean O'Malley (successor to Cardinal Law in the troubled archdiocese of Boston) had his first opportunity to address a large gathering of Boston-area priests on Tuesday. Of particular note were his comments on the effects of American culture and the importance of strong preaching in supporting the spiritual life of American Catholics:
O'Malley said too many priests do not make preaching a priority, or believe in the power of preaching. And yet, he said, opinion research suggests that "the strongest predictor of Catholic behavior and identification [is] the quality of the Sunday sermon," not issues such as "sex, birth control, abortion, or the ordination of women."
It's good to be reminded it's not the Sacraments OR the Word, it's the Sacraments AND the Word.
One of my many alma maters (almas mater?), and the one to which I'm the most attached, is the University of Michigan Business School. The editorial staff of the student newspaper, clearly distracted by upcoming final exams, delayed publishing the April Fool edition until this week. However it included this playful niblet about the SOS (Significant Others & Spouses) Club whose members are those long-suffering men and women known to many as as "trailing spouses" who make the thankless trek to the cold wilderness of Michigan in support of their MBA-student partners. I found it amusing. Maybe you will, too.
SOS ANNOUNCES NEW MOTTO: "ALL OF THE DEBT, NONE OF THE LEARNING."
Stressing that they, too, have to pay back obscenely large student loans without the benefits of salaries, the SOS club this week changed their official motto from "All of the fun, none of the homework," to the more realistic "All of the debt, none of the learning." Most of the club responded with approval of the increased realism.
Some SOS members added that MBA students, also, don't learn anything.
"It's a positive change," said SOS2 Joss Forster, "it's a reminder to any incoming SOS that they may well have to bide their time in a learning-free job for two years while they put their SOS through school, but they're also likely to be saddled with debt for their trouble. And as for dropping 'fun' from the motto? Well, let's just say that's not the word I would use to describe hanging around a bunch of overweight, balding, 30-something business students. Guys, there are other things in life than getting to Goldman office hours. Geez."
Today is the first "Spring Forward" in a long time when I haven't felt slapped by the loss of sleep. For the last two nights, I've gone to bed relatively early and gotten up only when I was actually done sleeping -- rare enough and very enjoyable. Perhaps I've become a bit more used to making these one-hour changes since my recent practice of going to-and-fro between Eastern and Central time every couple of weeks. Just wait until the Phoenix trip next week when I'll be whipsawed twice between Eastern and Pacific zones -- that will remind me that I'm just not a kid anymore.
It was a beautiful day here today. The flowering trees have been out for over a week, some daffodils are even wilting and getting replaced by tulips. This is almost a full month earlier than I'm used to seeing Spring, and I relish it. This afternoon, I took a drive across the Mississippi River and up the Illinois shoreline. I meandered through some historical towns and spent a few moments indulging my imagination in front of a beautiful vacant lot for sale that overlooks the river with a steep slope and lots of trees, and which is going for a ridiculously cheap price, too. (Yes, God, I remember the 10th commandment; I wasn't really coveting, honest. Well, maybe sort of.) It was a beautiful and restful afternoon.
This evening I believe I'll go see The Passion again. It seems like a good way to start Holy Week. I'm so happy that I'll be finishing it in Ann Arbor with friends and family and where I know these important days will be well and thoroughly celebrated.
Our sin will be if we idolize the work of our hands; if we love it so well as not to bear to part with it. The test of our faith lies in our being able to fail without disappointment. John Henry Newman
As an ENTP, I'm much more attached to the works of my mind than of my hands. The lesson is the same, though likewise difficult. Do my job well; leave God's job up to God. Know the difference.
Christians are preparing for the upcoming solemnities of Palm Sunday (remembering Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem with its foreshadowing of betrayal and suffering), Holy Thursday (the Last Supper and the sacramental gift of Jesus' Body and Blood), Good Friday (where we revisit Jesus going the extra mile, the final mile, for us with an eternal effect that shocks the socks off the devil) and Easter (the triumph of the resurrection of Jesus from a death that was completely incapable of holding Him in its grip).
This week never stops offering us the chance to focus on what's important. It has long been my favorite week of the year.
This year, it is even more important. I'm in flux. I want (in the words of the 1970's poster from Logos Bookstore that used to live on my dorm room wall) A Still Point in a Turning World. I want God.
Guess what? True joy is wanting what you can indeed have. God has gone to great lengths to offer Himself to me and invite me to reciprocate. And with the Holy Spirit, he even helps me with the reciprocation. Such a deal. An offer, thank God, that I have no intention of refusing.
I am incapable here of discussing the movie The Passion of the Christ with any level of personal authenticity. I refuse to write a "movie commentary", I'm not able or willing (take your pick) to sketch in words the impact the film had on the deep parts of me. (And it wasn't the scenes of the beatings that were the most profound, by the way, in spite of what one might suspect from press coverage.) There were many places where I was moved to personalize, learn and be changed; the space where that happens in me is mostly private or, more accurately, "by invitation only".
However, it's my great pleasure to reprint below a wonderful piece about this movie by Mike Glodo, a denominational official and a great friend of my former home church of Knox [Evangelical] Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, MI. He's right -- the point is not the movie, it's about coming to the Table. (I'm particularly intrigued by this essay as a presentation of the Presbyterian understanding of the nature of the sacrament of Holy Communion. For a short-but-sweet discussion of the Catholic understanding of the sacrament, see Henry Dieterich's excellent essay here.)
Experiencing the Passion by Mike Glodo
A week ago Sunday I experienced the Passion of Christ. It made Jesus more real to me than anything else I could imagine. Through it God actually spoke to me and testified to me of His love for me through Jesus. I felt convicted of my sins—my wandering, cold heart, my diffuse purpose in life. It was as a friend told me his own teenage daughter had said: “I did that to Him.”
But my sorrow was eased by the hope of Christ’s pleading for my forgiveness and His resurrection for my life. I left there with new confidence that God loved me and that I could truly experience freedom from the powerlessness of a fallen nature. My confidence was renewed that the gospel is the hope of the world.
Later that week I saw Mel Gibson’s movie. Confused? I expect so. What I was talking about before was not the movie, but Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper. Are you nonplused now? I suspect a lot of people might be. After all, seeing The Passion of the Christ has been a memorable experience for almost everyone who has seen it, including me.
This is not a critique of the movie. There are, of course, questions that need to be considered. Is the movie faithful to the history recorded in the Gospels? How do the beatific visions of a 19th century nun or the Eucharistic theology of the Roman Catholic Church influence the film? Given evangelical furor over Judge Roy Moore’s stand for the Ten Commandments, why aren’t evangelicals at least discussing how Number Two (the graven images thing) applies, especially given the Larger Catechism’s prohibition against the use of images? There is probably a helpful distinction to be made between uses of image in worship versus instructional representations of Jesus, but I haven’t even heard the issue raised.
The movie may distract us into thinking that the greatest suffering of Jesus was the physical pain of the crucifixion. Without question, it was bearing the wrath of God upon His soul, including alienation from the Father—draining to the dregs the sour cup of God’s justice. (cf. Isaiah 51:17; John 19:30). This cup was taken from our hands to be drunk by Christ. (Isaiah 51:22) We mustn’t forget either that the humiliation of the second person of the Trinity began at the incarnation, that his whole life was vicarious (substitutionary).
Worthy questions to consider (if not answer), but they have nothing to do with my point. We can discuss whether God is going to use The Passion (possibly our confidence might be tempered to reflect back upon the religious awakening promised as a result of 9/11) or whether we evangelicals have once again demonstrated our own passion for consuming all things Christian remains to be seen. But whether or not God is using The Passion, He has sworn to use His ordinances—prayer, sacraments, the Word and the preaching of it.
Think about what Holy Communion means. In it, we Presbyterians believe that Christ is spiritually (really, not just symbolically) present. His death becomes bread and drink to us. It’s not just a reminder. It’s not just to make us feel bad about what it took. We get fed . As I like to say, “The funeral becomes a feast.” And the communion with Christ we enjoy is so intimate, that eating and drinking are not too intimate to describe it. In the eating and drinking, I look around and see that I am part of the new people of God as I rightly discern His body—the church—as a people from every tribe, tongue and nation.
Further, in baptism I was buried with Jesus in His death and raised with Him to newness of life. And, if I take the advice of WLC 167, I improve upon that baptism every time I see a pastor demonstrate the audacity to claim a little child of the covenant on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ and in the name of the Triune God, commanding Satan to stay away from this believer’s child because holy terror guards her.
Then there’s the preached Word. Romans 10:14-17 tells me that Jesus kept the promise he made when He said other sheep (you and me and every other non-Jewish Christian) would hear His voice (John 10:16). Faithful preachers don’t just preach about Jesus, they are the voice of Jesus to His sheep. The “sent ones” (we call them ministers of the Word) are the very voice of the Good Shepherd.
There are other ordinances that provide us grace—the Lord’s Day, fasting, solemn vows, church discipline—but the Word, sacraments and prayer are the big ones.
In a sense I feel sorry for Jesus, having to compete with Dolby Surround Sound and Hollywood’s juggernaut of a publicity machine. We would wait in vain for Katie Couric and Mary Hart to tell us when the bread and cup are going video. I love movies. I had a beatific experience when I saw Forrest Gump (all three times). Mel’s movie is powerful. But it never occurred to me that it was even a close second to the sacraments. Do you want to make disciples of Jesus? Make sure they get from the popcorn stand to the table. As you know, it’s been almost two millennia since Christians were accused of cannibalism because they ate the body and blood of Jesus. Let’s try to gain back this undeserved, but understandable reputation.
For further reading.
Calvin, John. Treatises on the Sacraments: Catechism of the Church of Geneva, Forms of Prayer, and Confessions of Faith.
Leithart, Peter J. Blessed Are the Hungry: Meditations on the Lord's Supper.
Letham, Robert. The Lord’s Supper: Eternal Word in Broken Bread.
Piper, John. The Passion of Jesus Christ.
Wallace, Ronald. Calvin’s Doctrine of the Word and Sacraments.
 The author is Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church which has its offices in Livonia, Michigan.
 For a brief but very helpful impression of the movie from a theologically sound, yet pastoral and reflective standpoint, go to http://www.2pc.org/passion.html.
 WSC Q. 27. Wherein did Christ's humiliation consist?
A. Christ's humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.
 WLC Q. 167. How is our Baptism to be improved by us?
A. The needful but much neglected duty of improving our Baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.
 “The preaching of the word of God is the word of God: Wherefore when this Word of God is now preached in the church by preachers lawfully called, we believe that the very Word of God is proclaimed, and received by the faithful; and that neither any other Word of God is to be invented nor is to be expected from heaven: and that now the Word itself which is preached is to be regarded, not the minister that preaches; for even if he be evil and a sinner, nevertheless the Word of God remains still true and good.” (Second Helvetic Confession, Chapter 1)
An intriguing interview with Monsignor Cormac Burke on happiness in marriage over at Zenit. A couple of quotes that I found thought provoking:
"The first thing to bear in mind is that marriage cannot give perfect happiness, nor can anything else here on earth. The purpose of marriage is not to give the spouses such happiness, but to mature them for it."
"Happiness is not possible inside or outside marriage for the person who is determined to get more than he or she is prepared to give."
"We will never get started on the way to happiness until we realize that the main obstacle is our own self -- our self-centered concerns, worries and calculations. Paradoxically all these are absolute obstacles to personal happiness. "
Sounds to me that one could substitute the word "life" for "marriage" and still be on the money.
Name:: Roz Hometown::Ann Arbor, MI
Mother of several, grandmother of a couple, wife to one very good man. My epitaph will probably read, "Well, you just never know." Life is good, but it takes unexpected turns. Good thing I like surprises.