Sunday, November 30, 2008

Contemplative Christmas I

Welcome to Week 1 of the SoulPerSuit Contemplative Christmas.

We have participants coming from near and far and across the globe for this group. A truly international affair. I'm excited to see the variety of worship experiences God will bring about in each of us because, truthfully, joining a community of God-seekers and sharing in the journey is my very favorite part of SoulPerSuit.

Right here on SoulPerBlog each week we'll be posting a theme phrase to reflect on during this Christmas season and one or two Shuffle the Deck activities to kick start your creative thinking. Otherwise, SoulPerSuit is going to let Emmanuel speak for himself. All the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and sensations of this Christmas season are at the disposal of the Holy Spirit. You just need your Bible and your imagination.

This week's theme is:
Barn smells

Optional Shuffle The Deck activities to get things rolling:

1) What’s the most rugged camping or outdoor experience you’ve ever had? Have you ever sat around a campfire? Our memories of those times are strong because the sensory experiences were extreme. Was there food involved? Was the fire built with wet or green wood? Was it summer or winter? How do the smells differ with the season? Think about what it would be like if your job required you to camp outside every night.

2) If you have access to a livestock barn or stable, spend some time there with your nostrils on alert. Breathe in the earthy smells of the animals, the hay and alfalfa, the watering trough and all that goes with them.
Jot some notes on a 3X5 card about your sensory experience. Describe the smell as best as you can. What arrests you?
If you are not near a barn but have pets, do the same thing as you feed, groom and clean up after them.
No access to barns or pets? Try your compost bin, leaf pile or kitchen garbage.


So, what next? We are hopeful that the Holy Spirit will lead you in worship over the next week.
If you'd like to worship and reflect quietly then you don't need to do anything.
If you create a piece of artwork or have thoughts you'd like to share publicly (or you're new here and wondering what on earth these people are doing), click here to see what on earth we're doing.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What is a SPS Contemplative Christmas?

This Holiday season is packed with sensory delights for each of us so we have no doubt you will find many spiritual and creative dots to connect in the midst of your Christmas week.

Escape from the madness of the holiday season this year and reorient your focus with a mini SPS experience here on the blog beginning next Monday, December 1.

Mondays –Shuffle the Deck
Erin will post a Christmas sensory theme phrase for you to contemplate during the week. Explore this theme all week in your comings and goings and be open for what you can learn.

Along with the theme, Erin will post one or two Shuffle questions. These are intended to “mix things up”, to get you thinking creatively about the theme, and make it memorable throughout the week. Shuffles are optional; they’re just ideas you can use to explore the theme, but you may have your own.

Wednesdays - Deal the Cards
Sandi will post a Thought Provoker for the week, an idea, a picture, a link, etc. It’s another sensory source to help connect your mind to the theme and your daily activities. Check in to remind yourself about the theme and read the comments to discover what others are thinking. It will help spark more ideas.

Fridays – Play Your Hand
The way you participate is up to you. Here are just a few ideas:
  • Post a comment. You can post a story, a link, an idea, a thought, a quote, an anecdote – whatever comes to mind, whatever you learn or discover about that weeks theme. You can post anytime during that week. You don't have to wait until Friday to post!

  • Post a link. If you have your own blog, post about your SPS Christmas on your own blog and then simply add a link in comments of the SPS blog. This way you can post pictures, video, or longer content without the restrictions set up in our blog comments.

  • E-mail. If you don’t have a blog but have something you’d like posted about that weeks theme, e-mail it to us and we’ll post it on Friday. Even if you make something for the first week’s theme and we’re on week three, send it anyway! We’ll still post it on the blog! It’s never too late and everyone will be so happy to see it because this is everyone’s favorite part of a SPS anyway. Well, it’s my favorite part.

The only agenda we have is that SoulPerSuit would provide an oasis and an avenue to seek the face of Jesus amidst the crowd.

Monday, November 24, 2008

SoulPerSuit Contemplative Christmas

We'd like to invite you to join SoulPerSuit in a Contemplative Christmas group.
SPS logo
For the five Mondays in December, we'll post a theme phrase for participants to contemplate during the week. But it’s going to be a different SPS format. There will be no Yahoo group to join. We won't have scheduled chat sessions. Just the bare-bones of SPS.
We’ll provide a Shuffle the Deck question- just to help get your creative juices flowing- but all the Bible Study, all the contemplation, all the creative output… it's wide open. This Holiday season is packed with sensory delights for each of us so we have no doubt you will find many spiritual and creative dots to connect in the midst of your Christmas week.

Take part for only one week if that's what you can manage. Join us for all five weeks if you’re able.
Make a SoulPerSuit “card” for any theme that impacts you. Spend extended time meditating on His Word. Select an evening to fast and pray. Bake an extra batch of Christmas cookies to take to your ailing neighbor. Decide to stay home from the Christmas Eve service if you always go. Decide to go to the Christmas Eve service if you never do. Make art. Knit socks. Dance in a circle with your dog. There are no rules.

The only agenda we have is that SoulPerSuit would provide an oasis and an avenue to seek the face of Jesus amidst the crowd.

Use your own blog to post your reflections and creations.
If you don’t own a blog, join the discussion here
on SoulPerBlog. We would love to post photos of your creative pursuits here as well.

Our first theme will be posted here on Monday morning, December 1st.

Want to try it? Leave a comment here that you’d like to join our contemplative Christmas group and we'll look for you!

- Erin, Rhonda and San

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Wonder...

Why don't we use Bedouin tents for our nativity scenes? And why do we never see camels among the angels and donkeys?

What trivial things do YOU wonder?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Artuality: The Truman Show

Heather at L'Chaim has started a new monthly feature. We'll call it a participatory feature, because it's all about art and spirituality- called Artuality. Neither art nor spirituality are intended to be in a vacuum, so Heather has invited the world to join her each month in sharing how art and spirituality intersect in their own lives.

November's theme is: FILM. (Please consider this your invitation to join the discussion.)

I don't know if there is such a thing as a Christian existentialist movie, but if there is, The Truman Show must be it.

Poking at questions such as: "Who am I? What's my purpose on earth? Who's in control when things seem to go wrong? Why are can lights falling from the sky in front of me?" You know, those elemental questions we all ponder in the dead of night when we can't sleep. ;)

Who has not wondered if the world as we know it is simply our imagination, a fabrication by a benevolent (or malevolent, depending on how you're feeling that day!) higher being, or if we are maybe just dolls in a dollhouse here for the enjoyment of a giant child.

I think The Truman Show raises some interesting questions about the Christian journey in particular. The main character, Truman, has been rescued from an orphan life in order to become the star of a 24/7 live television show, aptly named, The Truman Show. Thousands of cameras are trained on every moment of Truman's tranquil and near-perfect life. His steps have been ordered for him. His environment carefully planned. Every interaction with his wife, neighbors and co-workers is scripted, with commercial spots cleverly inserted in the conversation at periodic intervals. Only Truman thinks it's all real. He's the only one who doesn't know that his life is a television show.
Strange things begin to occur, however, and Truman is getting suspicious. Stage lighting falls from the sky into his front yard. His dead father- whose character was killed off when Truman was younger because the director thought it made an interesting plot twist- makes a surprise visit to the set and rocks Truman's world. Truman innocently veers off the script (throwing the entire directing crew into "catastrophe mode") and discovers theatrical props instead of working elevators, office buildings and surgical equipment. The never-met-before haz-mat crew on the other side of the island somehow know Truman's name like they're old buddies.

Truman ain't no dummy. Perfection is becoming suspect.

When I became a Christian, I was rescued from an orphan life, and I was under something of the same belief as Truman. In fact, I think I even desired a life like Truman's. I wanted Christ to script my life; to make the birds sing on cue, to have traffic part like the Red Sea so I could get to work on time, to keep me from all discomfort and pain. If it required that I have the occasionally quirky conversation about the features of the latest devotional guide or contemporary Christian facial tissue that was a price I was willing to pay for convenience. Just please make it all perky and pristine, Jesus. That's what you're about anyway, right? Bringing love and bunnies to the world. Right???

Imagine my disappointment when the spiritual stage lighting crashed down in front of me. When my spiritual journey included traffic jams and grouchy neighbors with their grouchy dogs. Imagine my chagrin when Jesus didn't deliver me from the ugly and the tainted and the treacherous that is in this world. Imagine my shock when I discovered that he was not the least bit interested in scripting the perfect Christian life for me.

Imagine my distress upon reading Christ's own words, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

But Jesus, I thought you wanted to make the kingdom of heaven come for me NOW. No bunnies? No 72.4 degree sunshine-y days? Are you saying I'm blessed through persecution? I don't see how blessing and persecution can be used in the same sentence... blessing is defined as tulips and birdies. Isn't it???

He's not here to replace my spiritual weeds with Astroturf, He is here to be the Loving Gardener. There are weeds and brambles. Bare patches and dirty spots. Poison ivy, even. Some weeds stay and some get yanked. They like to grow up while my back is turned. It's not pretty, it's not cozy, it's not neat and tidy. Christ is interested in loving me through the fallen-ness of this world.

Perish the day that I'd think Christ came to make my life like Truman's.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pixel Stained Glass Window

Last year, the historical Cologne Cathedral in Germany finally received a new stained glass window. When the original was blown out from bombings during WWII, it was replaced simply with plain glass - until now.

The design chosen for the new window is modern, beautiful, and geeky! The design by German artist Gerhard Richter is made from 11,500 squares of glass in 72 colors like pixels! The result is quite wonderful.

Spiegel Online International News


Wired August 2007

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Movie Was Better

It's rare, but it does happen.

The movie is better than the book.

One movie that comes to mind right away is, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. I both read the book and watched the movie. I liked the movie better.

What made it better than the book? The ability of film media to infuse kitschy 1950's-style special effects throughout the movie. Faux sparkle added to a character's brilliant smile or dewy eyes. The trio of "jingle girls" singing the praises of a new sandwich spread as they offer the TV audience a 5ft. long sandwich through the screen. Evelyn Ryan zooming in outer space on her kitchen-appliance-contest-winnings. The campy effects made me feel that I was really watching TV in the 1950's, commercials and all. It adds a whole new dimension to the story when you see it on film.

Know of any other movies that turned out to be better than the book?