Saturday, August 2, 2014

Random Collection of Cool Things

Links, articles, and a video.... Here we go!

Inspiring Blog Posts: 

Jesus Might Have Sung Out-of-Tune at It's OK to Fail. Sarah is quickly becoming one of my favorite bloggers, and it's because of posts like this. (Also because her picture is so delightfully happy and quirky). This post is a big kick in the ass to those of us (Episcopalians especially) who measure the worth of a church service by its level of musical professionalism. Sarah is talking mostly about contemporary worship services, but the same can be said for traditional services as well. Those of us who love music are very susceptible to judging others who can't "perform" to our standards. Remember the letter in which Screwtape explains how to ruin the patient's experience of church?

When he gets to his pew he sees just that selection of his neighbors whom he has hitherto avoided.... You may know one of them to be a great warrior on the Enemy's side. No matter. Your patient, thanks to Our Father below, is a fool. Provided that any of those neighbors sing of tune, or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous. 

(By the way, if you haven't read The Screwtape Letters, what are you waiting for?)

All Because We Said Yes at These Walls. In addition to the gorgeous photos, Julie wrote a beautiful celebration of her marriage and children. Part of the beauty of being married is seeing the fruits of that initial "yes," whether that's children or hospitality or friendships or charity. Love begets more love.

Easter: In Search of Grace at A New Song to Sing. Easter has always been my favorite holiday, even as a child. And yet, I instantly related to Rebekah's pain as she looks at Easters past and wonders where the message of grace was hid.

But I dare say I've never heard a message in which the pastor dove head-first into the muddy waters of grace.... The kind of grace that doesn't simply argue "God's not dead," but looks me straight in the eye and says "Because He's alive, you can be too!" The kind of grace that simultaneously screams and whispers, "you are worthy."... I want to know that Jesus lives for and loves the worst of us. 

Five Things You Can Do Right Now as ISIS Threatens Christians and Shiites at The Anchoress. What I love about this piece is that Elizabeth doesn't just speak to Christians - she speaks to anyone with faith in something larger than ourselves, even if that "something" is the fact that we're all in this together. In the face of unbelievable persecution and violence, what can one individual do? This is the pain in our hearts as we read about the bombings in Gaza and the violent persecution in Iraq and the stream of traumatized children at the US border of Mexico. It can crush you, easily, and there's something to be said for shedding some tears on behalf of the innocent. It means we're human. What Lizzie offers is an action after we dry our tears.

NOTE: please do not read the comment section. Lizzie had to close it because trolls were bombarding her comments with vulgar, hateful, and dishonest bullshit. The actual piece is well worth the read, however.

And now, as a light-hearted palate cleanser, a message from Neil deGrasse Tyson concerning our failure to locate alien life: