Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Celtic Christianity?

I never gave the hype over Celtic things too much thought.  I like Celtic artwork and music but frankly, I thought that some folks went a little overboard with identifying with Celtic culture and spirituality.  When I started studying Welsh quilts, I was surprised to discover that Wales had Celtic origins... I thought Celts were Irish... right?  I was even more surprised when some authors stated that the culture of modern Wales remains the most 'Celtic' of the cultures we associate with the ancient Celts.  Ireland and Scotland (which are Celtic to the core) were a little too popular with the fans of things Celtic (and I don't mean sports fans).  Queen Victoria loved Scotland but the Victorian fascination for Scotland didn't do much for maintaining the traditional culture... romanticism sells better to tourists than reality.  The same for Ireland which has been romanticized beyond recognition at times by those who wish to connect with 'being Irish'.  But, dig a little deeper... these people have a history beyond the movies and novels and most of all, they have a Christian history which has a lot to offer to those of us who have come to the conclusion that much of what the modern Christian church is doing just isn't working.

In my lifetime, I've watched people become less and less civil to each other.  People are self-centered and driven by individualism which is encouraged by American culture.  Education seems to be more indoctrination than teaching how to think... there has even been speculation that the world is on the verge of a new dark age of thinking.  One of the terms that I've seen used for the people of the Western cultures is Neo-Barbarians.  That ought to be a concern for those who profess to be our leaders but the problem is that they don't see a problem because many of them are aspiring to be the warlords.

Now, back to 'things Celtic'.  I recently read a book about Celtic Christianity and it really struck a cord with me and I've been on my research frenzies... reading everything I can find and sorting out the information.  So, let me explain what I mean by Celtic Christianity.  When Christianity moved out across the world, different ways of being Christian developed.  There was the Roman way and the Celtic way, they were both Christian but thought differently and lived it out in their lives differently.  The Roman way didn't appreciate the created world and tended to use and abuse it more.  The Celtic folks understood the deep connection that we humans have with Creation and were aware of God's witness through nature. 

The Celts conducted 'church' through the common people and were mostly a lay-movement.  The Roman church developed levels of leadership over the common people and this is the pattern we see in most modern churches.  The Celts shared their faith through living alongside the 'barbarians' and it was a very natural way for the Celtic Christians to share their faith... it wasn't forced on their neighbors.  The Roman approach was very differrent because the Roman cultural influence on the church created a distrust of anything non-Roman so the Roman Christians tended to believe that they had to civilized people before the people could understand Christianity.  This is why there has been a focus on cleaning people up so they can be Chrisitians... which usually means a Western looking church (many leaders of the Roman styled church seemed to completely overlook the way Jesus interacted with the 'barbarians' of his time which is pretty much how the upper-level religious leaders saw the kind of people that Jesus hung out with and loved on). The Celts accepted the cultures of the people they lived alongside of and only challenged the most important practices such as human sacrifice but they did it in such a way as to show them a better way of living.  For example, they explained to the 'barbarians' that they didn't need to sacrifice each other to a god because Christianity was about a God who sacrificed himself for them... they were relieved and set free from the self-destruction of sacrifice.  Eventually, there was a show-down of sorts between the Roman and Celtic branches of the church and the Roman church prevailed.  The Celtic church submitted to the ruling and the dominent form of doing church in the British Isles was dictated by Rome. 

So, what's the big deal about a Christian movement from the early days?  For me and others, it offers a model that addresses the concerns of our imploding, postmodern culture.  There is a simplicity and depth to the Celtic model that works in my life (especially as an introvert) and I look forward to more of it.  It isn't about another way of 'being Celtic', it's about learning from some amazing early Christians who happened to be Celtic. 

More later...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Where was God when the bombs went off?

This has been a week with terrible images of the Boston Marathon bombing seared into our minds.  Three were killed in the bombing, many were injured and now more have died as the suspects robbed a store, killed a cop and wounded another.  One of the 'bad guys' is dead also.  It's a tragedy beyond the comprehension of most people... and we ask "why would they do this"?  The question will also be asked as to how a loving God (that we Christians proclaim) could ever allow such a thing to happen.

Some people think God causes bad things like this to teach people lessons or maybe to punish but nothing could be farther from the truth.  When we were created, God gave us free will, the ability to choose and our lives are made up of millions of choices over a typical lifetime.  God didn't create us to automatically swear allegiance to Him, He gave us a choice to follow Him or do our own thing. 

Think of it this way;  if a robot created by God loves Him in return because it's programmed to, it isn't love, it's just programming... similar to what you see in cults where all the followers love the leader because there's no other choice allowed.  But God took the risk to allow us to choose (to love Him back) but when the choice is hateful or self-centered, evil is the result.  When evil things like the bombing in Boston happen, God isn't absent or uninterested.  You will find Him to be just where each of us has chosen to put Him.  For me, I had a sense of His pain over the suffering of the victims but I also believe He was cheering on the rescuers who could have run to safety but ran to help the victims, not knowing if another bomb would go off.  God (the Spirit) was there, working through the physical bodies of anyone who would respond to do good.  When you saw the rescuers wheeling badly injured victims in wheelchairs away from the scene, you saw God at work.  He will be there for every suffering victim who turns to Him in their recovery.

Good will triumph over evil.


Saturday, April 6, 2013


We've had some beautiful, warm spring days and last weekend I resisted the urge to plant all my little wildflower seeds over in the Shed garden and all my little seeds are thanking me... a lot!  The warm sun is gone, the rain is back along with wind and you'd think it was November in Western Washington, not early April.  Had I planted the seeds, they'd be soggy and cold so I'm glad I decided to wait a bit longer. 

Funny thing about seeds.  Until the last few years, I hadn't really noticed how much is said about seeds in the Bible but it's a really common theme.  The bad weather this week reminded me about the teaching of Jesus about seeds, soil, rocks and brambles (which I can also relate to, we have big, wild blackberry vines all over) and I'm going to apply his wisdom and wait for the ground to improve before sticking all those little seeds into it.  My husband has already taken the stones out, pulled the weeds and prepared the soil... we just need sun to warm the ground.  The ground is ready but am I correct in applying his teaching to such a 'natural' thing as waiting to plant my seeds?

Now, it may seem to some that when Jesus taught about sowing seeds, he was making a point about 'spiritual' aspects of our lives rather than the physical, natural or as some say, the 'real' world but Jesus didn't separate the two like we do.  Modern folks have tried for over two hundred years since the Enlightenment Movement to separate the spiritual from the physical and as I look around the western world where these teaching dominated, I'd say it hasn't worked.  It's time to live in the oneness of the Spirit and the natural.  As designed.
My rock garden, waiting for warmer days... only rocks seem to increase in this weather.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The End of The World??? Not!

December 21, 2012 has come and gone and we're still here.  The Mayan calendar was wrong.  History is full of episodes such as this when people have given away or sold their belongings to go wait for the expected end of this world as we know it.  My insurance agent told me that she had people come into her office to change the billing on their policies so they could pay monthly.  The people hoped to spend less money, expecting the world to end... like spending less on insurance this month is going to be helpful.  I feel sorry for these people because of the anxieties and insecurities they must live with.  

So, for the time being, it's life as usual.  There are wells to dig around the world to provide people clean water.  There are people in need of jobs that will allow them to break the cycle of poverty.  There is sickness to heal.  There are births to celebrate and good-bys to be said to those whose time has come.  Life goes on.

The snow will fall this winter and spring will be here in a few months.  Some day, there will be an end of this world as we know it but we were told that we wouldn't know the time but that we should be ready.  So life goes on. 

May we all live each day as the gift that it is.  May we appreciate those around us that we share our journey with.  May we all have an attitude of blessing others instead of cursing. 

I've read a quote attributed to Martin Luther which goes something like this, "if the world was to end tomorrow, I would plant a tree today". 

The New Year comes.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lesson From A Strawberry Plant

Summer started out for us with our usual wet weather and like a lot of other summers, when July rolled around, the weather changed and we went from wet to very dry with no rain at all for week after week.  We don't have to do a lot of watering, we don't have a garden because there's too much rock in the ground.  Our grass dries up and is ugly but bounces back with the rain.  Our strawberry plants are in tubs in front of the house and slightly under a top level of the house that juts out over the lower level so even when it rains, they need to be watered.

The plants have sent out runners, in search of soil to start new plants but good soil under the pots is almost nonexistent, it's where cement was spilled during the pouring of the foundation walls over thirty years ago and also has a layer of gravel.  Over the summer, as I walked by the plants and felt sorry for all the runners in search of good soil, it finally occurred to me that the runners drew the water and nutrients from the plants in the pots, not the bad soil.  The life was in the vine, sound familiar?

As summer has turned to fall and now we're in the midst of a hot election, I'm reminded to abide in the vine, to draw my needs from the Source.  I can look around at the economy, listen to the forcasts of what the world will be like if we don't elect the right candidate and I can worry OR I can abide in the vine.  I can be like the stawberry runners, I might find myself on top of a rocky, hard spot but I can draw from the Source.  And my Source doesn't depend on a human supply of water during dry times, my Source is never ending.  Check out John 15:1-8,

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

To Kill A Mockingbird

Books are like threads on the floor of my sewing room, one thread leads to another and another.  I like to read history when it sheds light on my own being and interests.  When I started researching Welsh quilts, I started reading about everything I could find related to Wales, the quiltmakers and the whole social fabric of Wales during the quiltmaking.  Welsh quilts led me to study the decorative patterns that people have used across history and that resulted in a collection of Dover books and some really awesome books published by British libraries.  When my dad was doing a family geneology, I got interested in Wiltshire, England where his forefathers seemed to have settled near a local landmark after crossing the channel in 1066 with a well-known Norman.  Anyway, when I get interested in something, I turn to books and so I have hundreds of them.  I have books about art, theology, jewelry, metalworking, design, history and so on and on but the one thing they all have in common is that they are all non-fiction. 

I haven't read a novel in years but that all changed when we were looking for something to watch on Netflix Instant one night and came across a documentary about Harper Lee and the only book she ever wrote, To Kill A Mockingbird.  My fascination with people and history took over as I watched the program and by the time it was over, Harper Lee was my new hero and I really needed to get  a copy of the book to read. 

Barnes and Noble was quick to meet my latest book fix but due to a busy life at the time, I wasn't able to start the book until this past Sunday evening.  I have had a very hard time putting it down, it's now Tuesday morning and there are now only five chapters left to read.  I know how the book turns out (because of the documentary) but that hasn't been a problem, the story is too spellbinding to let go.  All the characters have been introduced and have played their part in the story but it's not over yet.  The book is written from the perspective of a young girl nicknamed Scout and I really relate to her and how she  struggles to make sense of the world around her.

The part of the story that really touched me was the part leading up to the trial during which Scout's father, Atticus Finch, would defend a black man against an allegation from a white woman.  The ugliness of bigotry raises it's ugly head and Atticus is accused of being a 'nigger lover' by people in the community and his own family, some more discreetly than others.  It generally isn't said to his face but the purpose is clear, intimidation.  Atticus is expected to do the 'right thing' by the standards of a 1930's Southern town that generally sees black people as 'niggers', expected to stay in their 'place' and of course, the culture of bigotry has decided where that place is.  But Atticus puts together an awesome defense of the doomed Tom Robinson and cracks start appearing in the bigot culture but it won't be enough to help Tom, the change won't come soon enough to save him.

This book was written in 1960 about the 1930's but the book is timeless.  As I listen to the news, I hear verbal assaults on free speech by people with influence and power with the same purpose of calling Atticus a 'nigger lover' in the book, it's all about intimidation.  The message is the same "shut up and go along with the correct social agenda, do as you're told or you'll be called a bigot, a hate-monger".  The slurs are different but the message is the same.  Freedom to speak up and express ideas is so vital to the human community, without freedom of speech, we risk slipping into an intellectual dark ages.  (There is research showing that this has already started).

But a war of words won't solve the problem either and that's where I go back to the book.  Throughout the book, there are all sorts of characters who don't accept the racial status quo and abuse of the blacks and while they aren't the voice of the community, they stand firm and don't give up.  Scout's dad, Atticus has his hands full teaching his hot-headed little girl how to respond to the words and situation and it's an uphill battle, but Scout is experiencing new things along the way and building relationships with all sorts of people and even though I have five chapters to go, I can see that she's going to come out of this drama as a person I'd would want to know well. 

Thank you Harper Lee for writing this book.  I wish you had written more but I don't know how any book could follow To Kill A Mockingbird.

Monday, May 21, 2012

My 'Front'

My 'Front' is the the point where restoration faith meets the everyday brokeness of the world around us and my desire is to encourage.  The world is quick to spread bad news and hate but that isn't the way it was meant to be.  I want to spread good news and better yet, the Good News.

I'm on the verge of entering my 7the decade on this earth and I not only love history but I have a history that's all my own.  I see my life experience as a big jigsaw puzzle and while there's a lot of pieces still to be turned over, I still enjoy the moments in life when I read or hear something that turns over another piece and the big picture of life is revealed just a little more clearly.  These are often exciting and often challenging moments and I want to share them. 

So how is your 'hope' doing?  Do you have hope or do you feel like hope has been quenched by the circumstances of your life?

More to come.