Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Don't Be Afraid To Ask

Yesterday on Facebook, I solicited topics for my daily Advent blogging. (What? You're not my Facebook friend? Why not? We have too much fun over there, you should definitely be my friend.)

First my friends thought I was only going to blog about Advent, and I received these questions:

Chris asked: Do you have any decorations or ornaments of personal spiritual or familial importance?

Melissa asked: What are your thoughts on Santa? Do you have a philosophy about gift-giving (i.e. something to read, something to wear, etc.)?

Jennie asked: What, really, is advent :)

Then I clarified that I was soliciting topics about anything and everything, not just Advent. I imagined, however, that I would get topics I might at least be a tiny bit qualified to answer, like, "How do you get a really good crust on a loaf of French bread?" or "Do you think charter schools poach the best students and teachers from the public schools?" or "What is your ethics of sex?" Instead, right out of the gates, I get Really Big Questions from two of my favorite people, who happen to be far better qualified than I am to tackle such issues:

Michael (Old First pastor) asked: 1) Why does the contemporary church so often fail to assist people to develop faith, deepen spirit, walk a different way of life? 2) If in God's grace, there are many ways to lead a good human life, why choose to be a Christian? Or is it a choice at all?

Wanda (member of Old First, ordained clergy, therapist) asked: Here's a cluster of wonderings I've pondered since age 13:
1) How do people change?
2) What contributes to personal transformation process?
3) How can I be part of/helpful to the transformation process of others?
4) The exploration of above has to include relationship

Then the sort of amazing conversation ensued that is one of the reasons I love Facebook (and think we need an Old First blog, don't you think?)

In reply to Wanda, Michael commented: Marta, here's my take on Wanda's question # 3: the best way for me to help others is to work on myself, and as I change, that enables them to change themselves...

... to which Mark (a friend from high school) responded: Wanda, Michael, Marta: Just a thought and I am nowhere near a theologist, but do we need to change at all, aren't we suppose to be what God made us! If you were to change me wouldn't you be changing what God made! I don't know, just asking. What also would you transform me into, something that YOU want me to be? Who decides what or who I should be?

... to which Michael commented: Mark, don't know about you, but there are some ways I know I need to change or wish i could change. While God loves me as I am, that involves God's forgiveness as there is some distance between where I am and where God made me to be. Traditional theology calls it sin. I find separation a better idiom-- separation from God, from my neighbor, from myself, where I could be. In everyday langague, it's just about falling short...

Wanda added: Oh no I don't want to change anyone. And don't think I can change anyone anyway. My wonderings have more to do with thinking about these things as I experience myself changing, or have seen others change or meet people who want to change. Comes out of my "conversion" (for lack of a better word) at age 13 and then wondering for lo these many years since "what was THAT all about?" (Actually I do want to change some people but that's a whole other topic than what i'm referring to here.)

And then Ellen (one of my oldest friends) chimed in: Are you all trying to get a former Presbyterian/current Quaker to start going to church again? First, it was just the music, but if this is what you talk about at Old First, it seems like we all should come (at least for a visit). Michael, I love the idea of separation as opposed to sin. Thanks for that and also for including my family on your prayer list this week. OK -- Marta -- if you are going to tackle the Virginity problem [see below], how about the "why is there suffering" problem?

At which point, two things come to mind. First, how much do I love my church, huh? And second, clearly I'm already in way over my head with this Advent blogging!

Fortunately, Suzanne, Jennifer and Lilian have all asked reasonable questions that are right up my alley:

Suzanne asked: I loved your piece on the Resurrection Problem. Could we have a follow on the Virginity Problem?

Jennifer asked: My goodness! Marta, a gift for you.... Please blog about Julie's beer making. Yes, just the beer making...hops and barley. Not the microcosmic implications of Julie's beer on faith paradigms or the greater human psyche......just the beer.

Lilian asked: I'm curious to hear more your thoughts on Catholicism and your spiritual journey (you've mentioned something about this sometime back).

Virginity (as problem), beer, and Catholicism -- maybe I should try to tie those all into one essay. Except no, I have clear instructions from Jen: just the beer.

So, how 'bout you? Anything you'd like to add to the list? There's nothing you can't ask, and little I won't answer.

1 comment:

Greg said...

Wow, you've got some real questions there. I hesitate to add any of my own (they are legion), since it seems you've already got more than enough topics for the next five Advent cycles.

But I sure look forward to reading your answers. Particularly if the bit about good crusty French bread comes to the top. Enjoy the season!