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Showing posts from June, 2011

New at No Unsacred Place

Cat has a new post, over at the Pagan Newswire Collective's nature blog, No Unsacred Place, "Not Greener-Than-Thou" on the hazards of trying to build up a repertoire of of environmentally friendly living skills.

(It turns out to be possible to make very expensive organic compost.  Details here.)

Peter's Spiritual Journey, Part II: Leaving Home

The Spiritual Journey so far:
Prologue I: Peter In Kenya
Prologue II: A Liberal Christian With Balls
Part I: A Refugee Looks Back
Part II: Leaving Home
Part III: Who Am I?
Part IV: Learning About Race and Gender
Part V: Watching My Students Drown
Part VI: Animal Bones


As a child, my mother and grandmother took me along with them to St. Andrew’s Methodist Church. The people there were all very nice, very sincere Christians, but it was a little bland. I think back on it and my most vivid memories are of the annual church picnic which was always in my grandmother’s back yard, overlooking Long Island Sound.

The closest thing to religious fervor in our household was my father’s agnosticism. You hear the word agnosticism and you probably think of something wishy-washy, a sort of intellectual shrugging of the shoulders. But that was not my father. He was finishing his doctoral dissertation in astrophysics and beginning a career as an academic, and he had a fierce integrity around intellectua…

Peter's Spiritual Journey, Part I: A Refugee Looks Back

The Spiritual Journey so far:
Prologue I: Peter In Kenya
Prologue II: A Liberal Christian With Balls
Part I: A Refugee Looks Back
Part II: Leaving Home
Part III: Who Am I?
Part IV: Learning About Race and Gender
Part V: Watching My Students Drown
Part VI: Animal Bones


My spiritual journey has not been a straight line. It has looped and twisted, sometimes out into non-Euclidean n-dimensional hyperspace and sometimes down into Hell and out the other side. But it has had two or three big turning points that were defining moments. You know, like when that Mesopotamian storm god first appeared in the whirlwind and said to Abraham, Go now, leave your family and your home and wander in the desert. Don’t worry about where you’re going; I’ll let you know when you get there.

So I’m going to tell my journey in medias res, beginning with a turning point at a Southern Baptist commune in rural Georgia when I was 22 years old and discovered I could no longer be Christian.

First came the Fundamental…

Peter Meets a Liberal Christian with Balls

Metaphorically, at least.

Yesterday, Cat and I drove to Boston to hear the annual Weed Memorial Lecture at Beacon Hill Friends Meeting. The speaker was Peggy Senger Parsons, the pastor of Freedom Friends Church in Salem, Oregon, and for the second time this spring I've met someone and think, If I'd known someone like that when I was 22, It's possible I'd still be Christian.

I picked up a copy of FFC's Faith and Practice while I was there. (For the non-Quakers in the audience, F&P is sort of equivalent to a catechism or a Book of Common Prayer.) There's a passage that she read aloud in response to a question from someone in the audience. I'm just going to quote it here for now. I'll get much more in depth about what it means to me over the course of the summer as I write my spiritual journey.
We renounce the intolerance of religious fundamentalism in all its forms. Free Christians need only to live according to Gospel Order and hold up Chr…

Peter Goes to Kenya, Part VI: Paths I Might Have Taken

Part I: Culture Shock
Part II: A Society in Upheaval
Part III: Fairy Gold
Part IV: Oppressor and Oppressed
Part V: Speaking in Meeting, Kenyan-Style
Part VI: Paths I Might Have Taken
Peter's Spiritual Journey Begins...


As a missionary in Africa today, Eden Grace doesn’t see herself as “bringing God to Kenya,” the way early missionaries would have, but rather as coming to Kenya to find the ways that God is already at work there. She accepts, with open eyes, all of the failings and all of the harm done by missionaries before her, and sees that still, on the ground, there is work to be done.
Eden gets both halves of the contradiction: the Bible is her source of strength and inspiration and guidance and inspiration and connection with God, and the Bible is full of fables and fallacies and failings and corrosive, destructive teachings. Eden has grasped both polar opposites and holds them both, where, when I was younger, they tore me apart. One thing I realized while I was in Kenya was t…

Join Our Celebration!

Today marks the one year anniversary of following a leading to dramatically cut our plastic waste.  We're celebrating over at the PNC nature blog, No Unsacred Place--come read about a year of living with less plastic, more local food, and more fun.

One Morning

I love living where we do.

This morning, in the early gray, just after the alarm clock went off, I found myself stretching lazily to the sound of geese flying overhead--non-migrating Canada geese.  I see them gleaning in fresh-turned fields or in the stubble of newly-mown hayfields at nearby farms, together with the local wild turkeys.

Such a sweet, wild music, the song of wild geese.

Moments later, Peter urged me out of bed.  "Oh!  Come see!  There's a bear--two bears, a mama and a cub in the back yard!"

And so there were.  Ambling along quite unhurriedly at the edge of the woods, down to our partially-rehabilitated perennial bed.  We crowded the bedroom window, watching them out of sight.  (Judging by the size of mama, the bear I saw last fall must have been an adult male.)

We decided to let the dogs out late, today.  We trust the fence we built for their yard, but there's no point in tempting fate.

Such a persistent miracle, a glimpse of wild thing, living their l…