LISTEN: God Girl on the Steve Brown Show!

The Rev. Steve Brown, host of the Steve Brown radio show.

The Rev. Steve Brown, host of the Steve Brown radio show.

Jennifer Grant, my dear friend and co-editor of Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels, and I are guests on our homesizzle The Rev. Dr. Steve Brown‘s radio show and podcast today.

By the by, Steve, who is (among many marvelous things) Professor Emeritus of Preaching and Pastoral Ministry at Reformed Theological Seminary, also has a marvelous chapter in Disquiet Time, called “A High Tolerance for Ambiguity,” where he writes in part:

If you’ve stood before God and haven’t been confused, you’re probably not worshiping God. You’re worshiping an idol. Not only that, but God’s ways are circuitous, and whatever you think God is doing, he probably isn’t. If you want to make God laugh, someone has said, tell him your plans. But even more relevant, if you want to make God really laugh, tell him what you think he told you.

Steve, are you leaving and becoming a Buddhist or something?

I’ve thought about it. Buddhists don’t seem to care about diets, and they’re always smiling ; but frankly, I’ve gone too far here to get out. Besides, I hate change, and I wonder who will forgive me and love me the way Jesus does. So I’m probably going to stay— bloodied and wounded sometimes, afraid and angry sometimes , sinful and rebellious sometimes, confused and lost sometimes… and always needy— because I don’t have any other place to go.

I’m just not as sure as my students. And I’m not as sure about God’s ways as I once was, either. Saint Paul asked a rhetorical question in Romans 11: 34: “Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” (ESV). The obvious answer is that I certainly don’t, and nobody else here does , either.

Disquiet Time is on sale at Amazon.com for 30% off if you use the promotional code HOLIDAY30 at checkout!

Listen in to Steve’s interview with Jen and Cath HERE or below.

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Band Aid 30 Years On: Feed, Feel, Heal the World

U2 frontman Bono performs at the 1985 Live Aid concert in Wembley Arena, London.

U2 frontman Bono performs at the 1985 Live Aid concert in Wembley Arena, London.

Do you remember where you were on Saturday, July 13, 1985?

I do.

On that day in the summer of my 15th year, I sat in my pajamas all day glued to the television in my parents’ living room in Connecticut, watching the Live Aid concerts broadcast live from London and Philadelphia, determined not to miss a single second of my favorite bands’ performances.

While I watched the concerts unfold, something happened to me that, at the time, I could not have articulated the way I do now. But even then, I was cognizant of a change in my awareness of the world — a broadening of my horizon and expansion of what I understood my potential, as one person, to affect change globally could be. A seed of curiosity about my connection with and responsibility to fellow human beings on the other side of the world was planted and has continued to grow throughout my life and professional career.

Nine months before Live Aid, Boom Town Rats lead singer Bob Geldof — a few decades before he would earn his “Sir” — turned on the television one evening in October and watched the BBC’s Michael Buerk and Mohamed Amin deliver reports on the famine ravaging northern Ethiopia here below.

Outraged by what he saw in the BBC reports, a few days later Geldof hopped on a plane to Ethiopia determined to see for himself what was going on and what he and other Westerners could do to help alleviate the suffering.

A month after that, on Nov. 25, 1984, Geldof convened Band Aid — a gathering of some of the most popular UK and Irish pop/rock/new-wave musicians of the day — to record a song his journey to Ethiopia had inspired him to write: “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

Four days later, on Nov. 28, 1984, the Band Aid single hit record store shelves. A few days after that, I bought my own copy in a suburban New England mall, took it back to the stereo in my bedroom, and played it nearly nonstop for the next six weeks.

Until I heard “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” I didn’t know anything about the famine in Ethiopia or where Eritrea even was. The music was the catalyst that led me to our Encyclopedia Britannica set in the family room where I read everything I could find about Ethiopia, Eritrea, and famines in Africa.

Thirty years later, I am a journalist who writes often about our collective spiritual, moral, and ethical responsibility to defend and support the poorest of the poor in Africa and elsewhere. As a journalist I have traveled to sub-Saharan Africa on several occasions to tell the stories of Africans who have and are continuing to lift themselves out of extreme poverty and disease. In 2012, I visited Ethiopia for the first time to witness some the progress it has made as a culture and a nation to combat the political, material, and cultural issues that led to that devastating famine in 1985.

I also am mother to Vasco, my 15-year-old son who was born into crippling poverty and disease in Malawi, Africa. He is almost the same age now that I was when Bono and Adam Clayton, Geldolf, Sting, George Michael, Midge Ure, Phil Collins, Bananarama, Paul Weller, Johnny Fingers, Boy George, Simon LeBon, John and Andy Taylor, Nick Rhodes, the guys from Kool and the Gang, and the rest headed into the studio in London in November 1984. And my lad is perhaps even more obsessed with music and world-changing than his mum was when she took the Band Aid LP from its plastic sleeve and popped it on her turntable for the first of thousands of times.

Now comes the scourge of the Ebola virus in West Africa and once again, American teenagers like my son are (re)learning their African geography, what being a citizen of the world actually means, and how it affects their responsibility to our neighbors — brothers and sisters, truly — from the other side of the globe.

Click HERE for 5 Questions about Ebola, answered with infographics

Were it not for the superstar recording sessions, the music, the concerts, and the pop culture icons who created them setting my life on the trajectory that they did all those years ago, I doubt whether I would be Vasco’s mother today. Words of gratitude to Band Aid and its cohorts, then and now, escape me.

But I can’t help wondering where the seeds planted in the hearts of teenagers who hear “Do They Know It’s Christmas? 2014″ will take root, how the might grow and bloom between now and 2044.

Thirty years from now, may poverty, preventable diseases, and all plagues natural or man-made be but a faint memory.

And may each of us do what we can to feed, feel, and heal the world.

Below are the lyrics to Band Aid 30′s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

It’s Christmas time – and there’s no need to be afraid

At Christmas time – we let in light – and banish shade

And in our world of plenty – we can spread a smile of joy

Throw your arms around the world

At Christmas time

 

But say a prayer – pray for the other ones

At Christmas time – it’s hard but while you’re having fun

There’s a world outside your window – and it’s a world of dread and fear

Where a kiss of love can kill you – and there’s death in every tear

And the Christmas bells that ring there – are the clanging chimes of doom

Well tonight we’re reaching out and touching you

 

No peace and joy this Christmas in West Africa

The only hope they’ll have is being alive

Where to comfort is to fear

Where to touch is to be scared

How can they know it’s Christmas time at all

 

Here’s to you

Raise a glass to everyone

And here’s to them

And all their years to come

Let them know it’s Christmas after all

 

Feed the world – Let them know it’s Christmastime again

Feel the world – Let them know it’s Christmastime again

Heal the world – Let them know it’s Christmastime again

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You Go GRRL! The Rev. Sarah Heath Is My Hero Today (and Most Days, Actually)

The Rev. Sarah Heath. Photo by David Tosti, 2014.

The Rev. Sarah Heath. Photo by David Tosti, 2014.

I am so proud of Sarah Heath.

I am proud of and endlessly grateful for the friend we call “Mini Rev” all the time, really, but particularly so today.

Sarah contributed a chapter to Disquiet Time where she addresses scripture often used to argue against the ordination of women. Sarah is, if you already weren’t aware, an ordained United Methodist minister and pastor. And she’s a great one at that.

Frankly, Sarah has one of the most obvious pastoral gifts I’ve ever encountered (and I’ve gone to church for a living for the last 20 years or so.) She has a gift and she uses it with amazing grace, joy, and artistry.

This past Sunday, someone decided to lash out at her by posting an ersatz “theses” to the front door of the church she shepherds, castigating her and denouncing her flock as “apostate” for having a woman lead it.

Click HERE to read Sarah’s most excellent response.
You go GRRL!

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The Disquiet Time Blog Tour: Updated Links

GrantFalsani_DisquietTime_HC-2My latest book, DISQUIET TIME: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels, a collaborative effort co-edited by Jennifer Grant and myself containing essays by more than 40 of our friends and colleagues who opened their hearts (and a vein) to write honestly and (often) with great humor, about what most confounds them (for better and for worse) about the Bible, released yesterday 10/21.

I’m delighted to say the book has been received warmly, reviews are good, and the early (very early) sales numbers are encouraging.

Many of the contributing authors to DISQUIET TIME along with some of our supportive media friends are in the midst of rolling out a blog tour.

Below are the latest blog posts. I think you’ll enjoy them. They’ll definitely start some interesting conversations.

Ellen Painter Dollar Asks “Does the Bible Leave You Disquieted?”

From Jonathan Merritt: ‘Quiet Time’ — It’s Not Just For Conservative Christians Any More: A Q&A with Cathleen Falsani

From Mike McHargue: Disquiet Time Q & A with Cathleen Falsani

The Rev. Sarah Heath’s Disquieting Confession

From Susan E. Isaacs: Disquiet Time

How Revelation Ruined (And Saved) My Life by Christian Piatt

The Rev. Kenneth “Kenny Wayne” Tanner asks, Have You Had Your Disquiet Time With The Lord Today?

Tim King on Curiosity, Humility, and Disquiet Time

Ina Albert on Changing Faces of the Spirit

Katherine Willis Pershey: Celebrating Disquiet Time (And Ellen Painter Dollar)

AUDIO: Jennifer Grant and Cathleen Falsani in Conversation with Dr. Alvin Jones on Disquiet Time

Steve Beard on Wrestling Disquietly with the Bible

Linda Midgett’s Disquieting Showdown with the “Proverbs 31 Woman”

Gareth Higgins’ (Dis)Quiet Time

The blog tour continues through November. Check back daily for updates.

Order your copy of DISQUIET TIME here.

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Guest Post: Linda Midgett’s Disquieting Showdown with the “Proverbs 31 Woman”

Linda Midgett

Linda Midgett

When Cathleen asked me to contribute to Disquiet Time, the new a collection of essays by “the Skeptical, the Faithful and a few Scoundrels,” I didn’t think twice about saying “yes,” nor did I worry much about which category might best fit me.

Cathleen and I have been friends since our roommate days in college, which was pre-email, pre-cell phone, and pre-Kim Kardashian.

Yes, we are approximately ancient.

Anyhoo… The assignment was to write about a passage of Scripture that troubles me. I kept coming back to Proverbs 31—or, as it’s fondly called within Christian circles, “The Proverbs 31 woman.”

Proverbs 31 is an ode to the “virtuous wife,” and often is used as a prescriptive for what a “godly woman” looks, acts, and cooks like. The Proverbs 31 woman is to some circles what Barbie is to elementary school girls — the ideal woman. Never mind that the dimensions don’t add up.

I won’t rehash the essay here, but the nutshell is that I don’t have a problem with the passage itself as much as I have a problem with how it’s typically taught, which is as a primer on domestic divahood. That the Proverbs 31 woman is clearly a working woman is conveniently overlooked by those who choose to use it as a prescription for “traditional” gender roles.  (Traditional unless you have to work because you are poor or from another culture or maybe had to get divorced. In which case, carry on.)

I feel like I’m in the Hot Tub Time Machine just writing that sentence. I spent a lot of time thinking about gender roles when I was in college, back in the late ’80s, and it’s kind of funny to me (not funny ha-ha but more funny odd) that I ended up writing about this in Disquiet Time. At this stage of my life, I am too busy being a mother, wife, and professional to analyze it much.

When I read about the Duggar girls (from the TV series 19 Kids and Counting) working so very hard to embody the qualities of the Proverbs 31 woman, I cringe but in the same way I cringe when I watch The Real Housewives series. It’s like being at a zoo and observing exotic animals that are one step removed.

And yet…

I’m not so removed that it doesn’t cause some disquiet. Which is what this collection of essays is about. Those things in the Bible that you wish would go away, but won’t. Because they have to do with the most profound expressions of what it means to be human.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to wrestle publicly with things that make me uneasy and even irritable.

And I’m grateful I’m not alone in that endeavor.

Linda Midgett is the founder of Midgett Productions, a boutique production company that recently created the hit motorcycle adventure series Neale Bayly Rides: Peru.The series aired on the SPEED Channel in June 2013. She is an Emmy award-winning writer, producer, and showrunner with a proven track record of developing hit and critically acclaimed series. She has supervised more than 600 hours of programming for networks such as NBC-Universal, The History Channel, PBS, The Weather Channel and Investigation Discovery. Her credits as Co-Executive Producer include Starting Over, the Emmy-winning syndicated daytime reality series produced by powerhouse Bunim-Murray Productions; The History Channel’s groundbreaking series, Gangland; and Investigation Discovery’s FBI: Criminal Pursuit.

Though Linda enjoys producing pure entertainment, she isn’t afraid of tackling difficult topics such as poverty and mental health. In 2012, she produced The Line, a riveting documentary commissioned by Sojourners that told the first-person stories of Americans in poverty. The film is available at http://www.thelinemovie.com. Her other independent documentary work includes Through My Eyes, which tells the stories of teens struggling with suicide, depression and eating disorders. Through My Eyes won the national Voice Award for excellence in mental health programming. Linda is based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Guest Post: Ina Albert on Changing Faces of Spirit

"Ber'eshit", the first word in the book of Genesis.

“Ber’eshit”, the first word in the book of Genesis.

            “Religion is an agreement between a group of people about what G-d is.
Spirituality is a one-on-one relationship.”
~ Conscious Way Magazine

It was the 1960’s and I went to the right rather than to the left.

Someone gave me a copy of Atlas Shrugged and I swallowed it whole. Especially the part about altruism and religion being irrational and atheism being the only intellectual alternative.

As a follower of Ayn Rand and Objectivism and a Republican-for-Goldwater, I rejected my Jewish heritage and announced that I had become an atheist at a family dinner.

Of course.

My mother cringed and asked, “What about the children?” (I had sons ages four and six at the time.)

My father looked at my mother and said, “She’ll get over it.”

He was right.

But the reason I returned to Judaism was not a deep-seated belief in G-d. It was Judaism’s conviction that being Jewish could not be denied. No matter what, I could not be excommunicated. I could question whatever I wanted and still be “kosher.” Denying G-d in front of the altar in the synagogue, blaspheming the Torah, refusing to have my boys circumcised, would not release me.

I was Jewish, and once a Jew, always a Jew.

Why? Because now and forever Jews have had to adapt to change. As we moved from society to society, the community integrated some customs in their new home and rejected others. Certainly the Spanish Inquisition is the prefect example. Jews had to choose between being burned at the stake or converting to Catholicism, so they became secret Jews, lighting the Sabbath candles in wine cellars and basements and praying secretly on the holidays. Called Maranos or Crypto Jews, they developed their own hidden culture. Like their ancestors, they re-adapted to Spanish society where acceptance was conditional at best.

Yet Judaism grew in each new circumstance. The most sacred music was created during the Inquisition. Once a year on Yom Kippur, Kol Nidre – All Vows – sings the musical withdrawal of the covenant that forced them to become Christian. Their individual survival demanded that the vow be made, but the survival of Judaism accommodated this necessity with a heroic statement that is now sung in every synagogue in the world to reaffirm commitment to Judaism—no matter what.

Once a Jew, always a Jew.

So what became of my vow to become an atheist?  I found that, where Judaism obligated me to ask questions and discover my own brand of spirituality, Objectivism did not.  It was rigid, dictatorial, defined on only one level of human experience. It failed to support curious minds, human kindness, and intellectual growth.

In Judaism I found ways to explore everything from orthodoxy to Humanistic Judaism in which G-d plays no part.

Where did I land? I’m still in process. But my connection with G-d is clear. I feel it every time I meditate, every time I pray, in every walk in the woods and in the eyes of each person I meet. G-d’s energy is with me and with all creation. I feel it, experience it and have no doubt that it exists.

The new book Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels, to which I contributed a chapter, offered us authors the opportunity to explore our beliefs out loud. And to listen louder to each other.  It explores the essence of religious freedom that allows us to express our spirituality as a one-on-one relationship without boundaries or restrictions.

Disquiet Time has created a sacred space between all of its contributors and you, our readers.

Thanks for listening,

Ina_2

Ina Albert

Ina Albert  is co-author of Write Your Self Well…Journal Your Self to Health, finds that listening is her most valuable quality as she grows older. Her new children’s book, Granny Greeny Says…Listen Louder, tells us how it’s done.

A life transitions coach, certified Age-ing to Sage-ing® seminar leader, and adjunct instructor at Flathead Valley Community College, Ina has logged 40 years as a healthcare communications professional. She shares 78 years of life experience with clients and readers of her monthly column in Montana Woman Magazine. She is published in Second Journey, Beliefnet.com, Jewish Magazine, Elder Woman Newsletter and various other publications, including a chapter in The Art of Grief edited by J. Earl Rogers for Routledge Press. Ina’s “A Letter On Behalf of Myself,” was selected by University of Portsmouth (United Kingdom) for their anthology, Borderlines.

Ina and her husband, Rabbi Allen Secher, are God Girl’s adopted spiritual parents. They live in western Montana with their Kugel the Wonder Schnauzer.

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