Monday, March 22, 2010

According to Coyote

My kids & I attended According to Coyote at the Children's Theatre.
Wow! We all loved it.
These were old spiritual stories. They were engaging.

My kids and I attend church regularly and hear the lectionary readings.
Wow! We're all bored.
These are old spiritual stories. They're a struggle to engaged with.

Is it the stories? I don't think so.
Is it the professional actress and professional support? I think there's more to it than that.

  • Telling stories is different than reading stories aloud.
  • A story teller or reader who engages deeply and fully (beyond mind and voice) engages listeners more deeply and fully.
  • In church we take ourselves and our beliefs so seriously. We resist having fun and playing. We're not good at combining serious topics and serious fun, godliness and play.
  • Stories benefit from the support of noticeable context, be it visual, auditory, historic, cultural, personal, etc.

How could we do more with this in church & in our families? Brainstorm some ideas. Let's do it .


Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Cross and the Gospel - Notes from Church Services

In the Episcopal church I visited today the Gospel Procession to the middle of the church included the reader and the crucifer.

I appreciated this pairing of the cross and the Gospel. The cross lent a persepctive to the gospel; the gospel gave a context to the cross.

How is the Gospel read in your church? How else have you seen it done?
What approaches do you like? Why?
What approaches do you dislike? Why?
How else can you imagine it being done? Brainstorm.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

My Christmas Shopping is Not Done

Just saw the movie What Would Jesus Buy? with Rev. Billy and The Church of Life After Shopping. I recommend it.

I bought into most of the beliefs of the Stop Shopping Church/The Church of Life After Shopping years ago. But like most of us I suppose, I struggle to live out those beliefs to the extent to which I'd like. The desire to teach my kids human and spiritual values over the values of consumerism provides my greatest struggles over it. This responsibility toward my kids, in the face of the difficulties of fulfilling it, make me sad and overwhelmed sometimes.

But in spite of that, the movie helped me. It gave me insight, reminders, ideas and motivation! I'm prompted to re-think some of the decisions I still have to make about Christmas gifts and celebrations this year. I have a combination of good ideas and challenging questions. But not much time to figure out how I'll act on them! I think it might be fun though! How many days until Christmas?

If nothing else, whatever I do now is a step in a good direction. How may days do I have to re-think and revise until Christmas 2010? We're coming both to a New Year and to Epiphany, right?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bold Simple Questions

Thoughts based in my reflections this morning during church:

I wonder if -
  • we're too much "in our heads"
  • we're really sold on what we say we're focused on

What if every Sunday each of us

  • made a point of making personal connections with people at church
  • tried one new thing - big or small - to deepen our worship and our community

I can imagine a diversity of responses.

Have at it.

Just don't kill any messengers, questioners or experimenters in the process - even if you disagree with them - remember we're Episcopalian :) okay?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Parable of the Great Pearl

I told the The Parable of the Great Pearl as a Godly Play story at church today. Now I'm reflecting on the experience.

There's much to be wondered about in the story. There's also much to be noticed and learned as a story teller.

I noticed my tendency toward a different kind of response to people's comments, depending on how well I felt they got at the meaning of the parable. I need to work with that!

Aside from the ridiculous arrogance of the idea that I know how the parable should be interpreted or what part should receive the focus, I'm sure letting my own judgements into my recognition of responses will short circuit the work of the parable, the Spirit and the people. If I lead people to feel that there are "right" responses at the expense of supporting exploration of possibilities or at the expense of honesty in our responses, we'll have a hard time to "hear what the Spirit is saying to God's people." The great openness of Godly Play, being able to play and discover what the Spirit is saying rather than pushing a prepackaged, predetermined answer, is part of what I love about Godly Play. But I notice it's easier for me to be comfortable with that as a participant than as the story teller. I wonder why...

I noticed there were wide ranging perspectives. For example, some thought the seller might have a use for all the things he got from the merchant. Others thought the seller had too much stuff.

I noticed that a lot of our reflection had to do with exploring considerations related to all the things the merchant exchanged for the great pearl. (What would he do without these things? What would the other person do with these things? Should some of the things redistributed to other places? Which things? What places?)

I noticed how little of our reflection was in keeping with what I've assumed the parable is supposed to illustrate. I've thought we're expected to see the exchange of everything for the great pearl as a wise, enlightened, fulfilling move. Maybe we are, maybe we're not. But I notice that this largely isn't how we feel about this great exchange. We question the wisdom of it. We're not comfortable with it. I think that might be something to pay attention to and wonder some more about.

I noticed & wonder about other things too....the interplay of literal vs. metaphoric reflections....interest in the biblical reference for the pacing, how I handled multiple voices at once in the circle...and more.

If you were there is morning, I'd be interested in any reflections you'd care to share. And if anyone wishes to offer feedback to help in my development as a Godly Play story teller, that's invited also.

Thank you.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Friday, October 09, 2009

Rollins' Hope to Believe in God

Well into the game, I've finally come upon Peter Rollins' blog. His post, One Day I hope to believe in God... hits a lot of things on the head for me.

If you have time for more reading, interesting pairings with it are Peter Morrow's comment to Rollins' post and Kester Brewin's parable, Footprints, also on Rollins' site.

Among my responses:

Many in and outside the church operate with the assumption "that we all have a shared understanding of what belief is and what we mean by the word 'God.'" (Rollins) The assumption isn't always true. Recognizing that it's operative and figuring out what to do about it is difficult, yet important.

The assumption is part of why meaningful religious conversation (with religous or non-religious people) and constructive changes in religious settings can be so challenging. We have our definitions of God in boxes. More often than not, those boxes resist being opened.

How do we have a conversation about God when we think about God quite differently than our conversation partner (and we may or may not realize this difference exists)? How do we talk about God when we know our understandings of God differ but we don't understand the other person's perspective, our partner doesn't understand ours, or we disagree with each other's perspectives?

I can see why our boxes resist being opened. Assumptions are strong and ingrained. It's difficult to conceive of what might be outside those assumptions. If we can conceive of it, we may or may not like it. Working with it takes energy in forms that can be hard to come by. It takes a lot of risk. It's scary and threatening. It can lead to reorientation of long held perspectives and beliefs and all they imply.

But not being able to find a bridge between differing understandings of "God" in relationships that matter has its own risks, frustrations, pain and sadness. This applies to personal relationships and to societal level relationships.

How can we communicate about God in ways that might be likely to start overcoming these challenges? How can we do so without throwing the baby out with the bathwater? Or in other words, how can we maintain that which we may find meaninful in religion and at the same time open boxes? How do we make it safe and appealing for ourselves and for others to open boxes? How do we let God and each other out of the boxes and more deeply, fully into our lives?