July 29, 2009

unanswerable demonstrations of (dis)belief

Last year I took a class in Christianity and Culture. It looked like a promising class; we read Christ and Culture (Niebuhr) and Theologies of Culture (Tillich) in conversation with cultural artifacts like art, music and literature. Students gave presentations on the cultural artifact, fun at first but it slowly began to eat up the entire time we had for the class without really getting to the readings.

It seemed like our class couldn't get over conversations of whether a particular cultural artifact was "christian" or not. In the first few weeks we had conversations about there are multiple ways of determining if a song or piece of art is "christian" - could be based on the content, the artist's particular view, the audience, etc. Analysis is subjective, ever changing based on a wide variety of factors. What looks christian today could change by tomorrow.

I thought of this in reading this post from Theolog on Rowen Williams' book about Dostoevsky. It says:
"Part of Dostoevsky’s significance as a religious writer, Williams argues, is to show people wrestling with the implications of their belief—or unbelief. People do not live inside a system of thought. Dostoevsky knew how our beliefs are always being contradicted, or stripped away or developed through our actions, relationships and suffering. In Dostoevsky, there are no “unanswerable demonstrations” of religious faith. But also no unanswerable demonstrations of unbelief. The lesson, for Williams, is that “we have to go on speaking/writing about God, allowing the language of faith to encounter fresh trials every day, and also fresh distortions and refusals.”

All cultures are shaped by religion (or lack thereof) and engaging culture within the scope of religion doesn't end at tacking a "christian" or "non-christian" label on something. I think it has more to do with seeing footprints of a faith on art/music/literature or how those cultural artifacts influence everyday experiences of divine, even if that includes rejection of the divine.

Religion, at its core, is about humans making meaning of their existence. In my opinion, any song or story that asks the fundamental questions of what it means to be human in our world deals with religious subject matter. That doesn't mean it's religious, however. In fact, if we did away with labels of "religious" or "christian" art and artists altogether, we'd be more open to seeing expressions of belief or disbelief.

July 27, 2009

dear city of lakes pt. 2

Dear City of Minneapolis,

Thank you for sweeping up all the gravel you left on my street 10 days ago. Well, as much of the gravel as you could, anyway. It no longer sounds like rapids when a car drives down the street. Is there anyway you can come back and pick up the gravel left on the sidewalks? If not, I'm sure it'll just get kicked back into the street anyway.

Also, I know you can't control the weather, but please don't let it rain tonight or tomorrow. I have plans for outdoor movies - Hud and Heathers at Loring Park and Solera, respectively.



July 21, 2009

a brief apology

To The Person Who I Thought Hadn't Read The Last Report On The Miracles At Little No Horse But Actually Did Read It,

Sorry re: above. I just finished The Plague of Doves and I think you would like that also. This time I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that it really was you that read the book and not your woman. Although I think she would like it too.

Also, I think you would like this: Palin's Resignation - The Edited Version.



PS Those kabobs were delicious. Come visit.
PPS Man, we really had a fun time this weekend without that one girl from our family!

July 17, 2009

let go

“Each of us is always a child of God. In our brokenness, we are called to forgive so that we may be forgiven. The act of forgiving, of giving up the demand for vengeance, is an act of transcendence. To let go of the anger is to let go of some of the pain.” - Robin Theurkauf

dear city of lakes

Dear City of Minneapolis,

I know seal coating roads is an important step in keeping pavement in its best condition. However, did you have to cover the whole road in gravel as well?

Whenever a car drives by, it sounds like it's going down a highway. I can hear each passing car from the back of my apartment, the wheels pressing down on the gravel and making it sound like it's flying by at 65 miles an hour.

It's also really difficult to ride my bike on the gravel, which means I've been riding on the sidewalk and thus, breaking the law.

You made me do it.



July 14, 2009

lime and chili

I just decided never to put my relationship status on Facebook ever again. I spent 10 minutes looking through the profile of a girl from high school because she changed her relationship status from "married" to "it's complicated." I don't need some random person I knew years ago to search through everything I've put online because I randomly (or not randomly) changed a setting online. The people who need to know about my relationship status will know because we're good friends and talk on a regular basis while the people who don't need to will just have to rely on something besides Facebook. Besides, the internet is taking away the fun of high school reunions. Everyone knows what everyone else is doing anyway, so there's no need to go back and have awkward conversations trying to bring up flattering information without looking like a jerk.

I made corn tortillas yesterday. Here's some pictures:

Cookbook, masa flour, soon to be dough

Tortilla balls and my first flattened tortilla.

Cooking in the pan.

Finished product with sour cream, lime and chili pepper seasoned chicken, cheese and cilantro leaves. Delicious. Could have been a little more moist, but overall pretty decent for a first try. I picked up Rick Bayless's Mexican Everyday cookbook from the library and have been trying a bunch of those recipes. I made lime ice a few days back, tortillas yesterday, who knows what tomorrow? A lot of the ingredients are similar for dishes, so it was easy buying supplies. I think I'll try a jicama salad tomorrow. I really do love jicama, especially jicama sticks. Mmm. Martha Stewart has jicama sticks with a chili-lime dip, whereas I've just made them seasoned with chili power and lime.

Time to go read. I'm a good chuck into Louise Erdrich's The Plague of Doves, and I like it. I've always enjoyed the weaving and tension between Christianity and Native American religions and the colonial religious repercussions on reservations. I've previously read The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, but this is her latest book.

July 11, 2009

bikes and books

I'm going to fight someone.

Ok, maybe not someone, but my bike for sure. I wanted to adjust the brakes today, so I wrangled with my front brake for awhile before I realized that it was tight enough. It's a byproduct of the handle design that makes it seem looser than it really is. Booo.

Then I fiddled with the back one for awhile and now I can't seem to get it back to its original tightness. I took a break and checked some stuff online, so we'll give it another go here shortly. I'm frustrated, nonetheless.

No illusions; I am not a bike mechanic.

Ugh. Got to fix the bike quick, so I can grab a book and go read by the lake. I just finished book 25 of the year, which is good. I was lagging behind there for awhile, but I caught up by having only leisure reading and lots of time on the bus. Here are the books I've finished since getting back to MPLS:
  • Me and Mr. Darcy, Alexandra Potte
  • Speaking of Faith, Krista Tippett
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith
  • The Hip Hop Wars, Tricia Rose
  • The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Ernest Hemingway
  • Spanish Lessons, Derek Lambert
  • Strawberry Tattoo, Lauren Henderson
  • Potential, Ariel Schrag
I'm also doing a much better job of reading more books written by women, people of color and non-straight authors. There's 6 women, one out lesbian and one Black women author. Although I suppose Hemingway kind of stands in the face of all of that... I figure when I read something misogynistic, I might as well go all the way. Hah. I have a big stack of books borrowed that I need to read, but the library books get some priority since they've got a deadline. Yesterday I picked up a Mexican cookbook, one of Ellen's books, the graphic novel by Schrag, and John Hodgman's book. I forgot how great the downtown MPLS library's bookstore is. All of the books they discharge from circulation are sold at cheap prices - most expensive one I saw was $3 (a collection of sermons and lectures by Rowan Williams. I was going to buy it, but no cash and I'm living light these days).

Ok. I need sunlight so I'm giving the bike one more chance to be fixed nicely before I throw it off the back porch.

July 7, 2009

it's me

Job rejection emails are like the worst "it's not you, it's me" line, but you know it's not true. It has to be something with you, otherwise they would have hired you.

I had a slew of interviews last week, half of which turned out "it's not you, it's me" emails and half of which I have yet to hear from. It's just frustrating to get nice emails from people shooting you down for jobs you'd be great for. On the upside, I got a part time job at a cafe near Lake Harriet. It's really cute, a tad expensive and serves organic, local vegetarian food. They have a fairly small staff and everyone bikes. A match made in heaven? Well, let's try working for awhile before I decide if I'm smitten.

4th of July was fun. Fireworks were fun. Sat by the Guthrie on that big hill, which was perfect. Some friends of mine and I are starting a writing group so I have good motivation to write. It's hard to start writing again, but it gets easier every time.

That is all.

July 3, 2009

a night in the box - the way you make me feel

Saw them again last night at Acadia. As usual, a fantastic show. Probably one of my favorite things about being back in MPLS.

Also, I love the skyline. I've mentioned it before, but I can't help but look at the skyline whenever I go past a particularly great view. I'm like Mom, but with skylines instead of sunsets.

I haven't taken any pictures since I've been back, but hopefully this weekend with Jake and Will being in town, plus the 4th. I should bring my camera with me when I bike. Also, I love the Greenway.

I made banana bread a few days ago. It is delicious and if I don't share quickly, I will eat the whole loaf. Not that I'm against that necessarily, but I am for sharing.