*whoooo/pat/pat/blow* *cough/cough* Now that i've gotten the dust off this blog...

This has been quite a year for the fogster! Between the ADHD diagnosis and the car accident involving three members of my immediate family, plus having a relative move into my small studio, i haven't had time for much else!

But here we are just before the holiday season, perched and waiting for the tsunami that is thanksmas to hit and carry us off into the food and spending binges of the season, and i find myself wanting to step out and just be thankful.

Alot has happened this year, but we all survived and with the help of church, friends, family....my community i got through it. With the wisdom and love from not just jesus, but the holy spirit and the father, i not only got through it, but i'm on the other side and ready to start again, with a fresh, but changed slate.



Ok... so much for the comeback..

Well shortly after posting that i'm planning to start blogging again, things went bad... Between friends going crazy and a bad car accident involving three members of my immediate family, its been hard to blog. But i do have some things i've been kicking around. Once i know for sure everyone is going to be ok, in about a week, i hope to post some thing's i've been working on. So apologies for the drop out, but hopefully i can pick back up again by July! Hopefully!


The fogster is attempting a comeback..

Alot has been going on in the fogster world these past few weeks, ok months. I found out that i have ADHD and have started meds and added another part-time job to my schedule. But things are finally calming down and i hope to get back to semi-regular posting!

The fogster...


Lenten devotional

The Fogster has been swamped this month but does plan to post something soon. In the meantime, a friend shared this with me, so let me share this with you!


May it bless you during this Lenten season!



Why are christians so squirrely about...

mental illness?

I have tried to understand this, but just dont get it. I guess for me, i view mental illness as something along the line of diabetes. Sometimes you're born with it and sometimes life and life choices curse you with it. Either way, its an illness and there's treatment. We dont look down or fear people with diabetes, we simply make sure we got sugar free snacks. Why cant we do the same for the mentally ill? Make sure they take their meds, keep them out of situations that upset them and practice grace for the days they freak out.

Sure there's the issue of possession and healing, and all that spiritual stuff. And can it happen...sure? But lets be honest, those cases, esp in the West are rare. Of course this could get into dicey theological conversations about theodicy and suffering, i'll save that for another time. But i guess i figure that the brain is flesh too and that means it's also susceptible to illness too. So why should we be surprised when peoples brains malfunction?

What are your thoughts?


Kids and Church...

The Fogster ran across this article about children and their impact on marriage the other day. Then there's the octuplet mess... don't even get me started on that! But all this talk of babies and family got me thinking about kids and church and the high dropout rate once they leave the nest.

Having knocked around a few churches and now watching friends kids going through sunday school programs, i find myself unsatisfied.

It seems that we are very good at teaching kids that Jesus loves them (this they know!) Most kids know the bible stories (edited for parental approval) But no sense of the saints that went before. If these kids go to non-denom churches, then they dont even know who Martin Luther was! So they get into college and start reading, and asking questions, and uh oh... Those silly sunday school songs just aren't enough to sustain a more mature faith.

I think we should start petitioning the suppliers of sunday school materials for more in depth content. I think we should start sending sunday school teachers to seminary... or at least a somewhat watered down version. Most cant even tell you the difference between Calvin and Luther and why dispensationalism is a 20th century heresy that needs to stop!After all why should the catholics and anglicans have all the cool church history sunday school classes!

The reality is that we cant have community if we dont have history.Your church and theology were not formed in a vacuum. Jesus saves but your community breathes! What got us here? Is a rosary a bad thing? Are all christians who lived before luther/calvin/wesley condemned to hell?Instead of preaching to our kids abstinence and purity and other worthless time wasters, why not teach them the history of the church and have them plow through Augustine? Lets talk about Hosea and Tamar and just what was Ruth doing in Boaz's threshing floor? Churches should take the lead and teach about how we got the bible and what does it mean that there were different canons until a few key councils hundreds of years later?! Also what should we do with the pseudopigraphia? (try saying that ten times with your tongue twisted!).

Finally, we can "teach the bible" all we want, but if its not lived in the circle of family and community, then sunday school is a waste. But it appears to me that adults and kids are currently living in spiritual/historical amnesia and have forgotten the martyrs who died to get us here. And that is a great shame...


Some conflicting thoughts on this historical day

Today is one for the history books, yes indeed. We finally elected a black man, and yet i find myself guarded.

For one the dialogue in america on race is almost exclusively about black and white relations. What about the other minorities and people of mixed heritage (like myself)? My family has suffered discrimination on two fronts; race and class. I put myself through college and gazillions of loans. I'll be paying them off for the rest of my life. There is no african american ancestry in my family, but our collective experience of poverty and racism was/is in many ways just as painful.

When i look at Barack's family i cant help but notice his asian sister and his niece. I wonder if he will be able to widen the dialogue, to include all people of color. We all have our painful histories in this country. That pain is deserving of dialogue, restitution and healing.

Poverty is another area that i hope he will address. I encounter a number of very harmful attitudes about poverty in America. We say that anyone can make it, but the reality is that few have the capability. Obama may have been black, but he had several advantages that many lack. The first being he had an educated mother who valued education. This automatically jumps him into the middle class. He had a relatively stable family. His grandmother helped raise him. He grew up in hawaii and asia, there are very different attitude towards poverty in those parts of the world. Finally Barack is hella smart. I have family members who are sweet but physically/mentally/emotionally incapable of working. They live on peanuts. There is no free ride in America. In America we have to be careful about what we say about people of other races, but if you're fat and poor, you might as well be walking with a target on your belly.

I pray that Barack might be able to educate and enlighten people about poverty in the US. Especially in this economy. We need to have an honest dialogue that is free of myths, like the majority of people on welfare are black/hispanic and/or lazy. And have a dialogue that includes the ignored rural poor. Many of whom live in conditions similar to people in developing countries. Our general attitude is that if they wanted to work, they could, but refuse. Reality is much more complicated. Poverty is more like a mixed up rubiks cube, some peoples cubes are missing the stickers. They deserve dignity in life too. Just as there are different algorithms to solving a rubiks cube, we are going to have to use different algorithms for different situations to solve poverty in America.

Finally health care including mental health care. This is a mess. I have no idea where to start. But i do know that it has become a moral issue. There is rampant corruption and greed. Much like in Wall Street. It certainly has been a contributing factor to the downturn. After all you get cancer, lose your job, you're done. Because you got sick, the health insurance companies will make sure you never dig yourself out of debt. This is a corruption we must kill. People don't choose to get sick/cancer/injured/maimed... why punish them for something they cant control? The mental health system is even sicker. People who could be working/contributing/functioning are instead begging on sidewalks or on general assistance because they cant afford the therapy and meds they need to function. Worse yet, some get a hold of weapons and listen to the voices in their heads.... We need to come to grips with the reality of mental illness and its price on our society.

So yeah, i'm hopeful, glad to have seen such a historical day. But im guarded in my hope. I've heard alot of promises and seen alot of passion in my day. I just hope that the energy will continue and that we as American's will answer the call for service and pass the hope that we've gotten from one man, to many out there who have no hope. After all he can make all sorts of promises, but if we just sit on the sidelines, nothing will get done. And he'll end up just being another politician, full of promises, but unable to deliver.


The Case for Faith...

So today, i subjected myself to Lee Strobel's DVD about theodicy (he uses the less technical term, "doubt".)

Some thoughts that went through my head:

Lee Strobel has a weird accent, is he Canadian?(quick google search...guess not)

Why are all the experts from Biola? What Fuller (my alma mater *wink*) too academic/not theologically sound enough? How bout an expert from Azusa or Westmont if we're gonna use SoCal christian universities. While I'm at it, why not pull in someone from the GTU or Union for a *ahem* different perspective?

Who the hell is Greg Koukl? Egads have i really drifted that far from the evangelical mainstream?

Why is NT Wright on this DVD. NT Wright rocks! NT Wright is my new evangelical christian academic hero!!! Why is NT Wright on the DVD?! NT Wright, please don't let them brainwash you! Why are all my fave evangelical academics from the British Isles? (cool accents, different baggage?)

What cheap emotional ploy to use Joni Eareckson Tada to prove some lame point about perseverance through doubt. I'm starting to feel manipulated... (insert visual of me with scribbles above head) Wha? her name is pronounced like johnny not joanie...weird...

oooo pretty pictures with scripture..... why?

What? That was it? What was the case for faith? How does scripture deal with theodicy? What about my epistemological concerns? Or at least a good summary of the various approaches to evil in the world? Why is NT Wright in this film? There wasn't enough of NT Wright!

So what kind of letter did Lee Strobel get back after he sent his manuscript off to Mr. Templeton? You never mentioned his reply? Was it unprintable?

There's Bonus Materials? Why am i scared....

(After looking on back, Rick Warren's involved! I should've known...)

Well at least i didn't spend money on this dvd, rented it from the library.


Unemployment Blues

Ahh nothing like the unemployment line to make you feel like a loser...

This has been one of the most frustrating seasons of the fogster's life! I have sent out more resumes and sent out more inquiries and have been rejected so many times... egads it wears out ones self worth!

Its hard to take take seriously the passages about not worrying and God will provide, when you dont know how you're going to pay rent next month. Or eat for that matter...

Ok, back to top ramen and sending out more resumes...

The fogster is tired... and needed to rant...


Augustine and Politics!

After having spent way too much time in seminary, anytime i see an early church father mentioned in a non-christian publication, it catches my attention. After all why else would someone quote Origen or in this case Augustine?! Of course given the american educational system, its amazing that any classical western philosophers or philosophers form anywhere int he world enter into the public debate. So when i came upon this essay by Stanley Fish i was amazed and then i sat down to digest...

Like many americans, i have been passively observing the soap opera that is Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his open senate seat. On the one hand, the governor with his wanna be "Donald Trump hair do" is quite amusing to watch. He's kind of the Al Davis of the political world. In complete and total denial and yet has way to much time and money to do anything constructive with it. His pick of Burris...genius. Talk about throwing a monkey wrench into the works and really pissing a bunch of people off. PBS news has been very entertaining of late!

Now here i have a confession to make, i don't remember anything of Augustine's theology. I vaguely remember studying the Donatist controversy. I know i read this stuff, wrote papers on it, but yup, dont remember it. Some of the problem is that i'm more interested in the historical stuff, not the actual details of the theology. Luckily Stanley Fish gives a nice refresher in his essay! Well that and i have books and google! (here's a nice review of Augustines life and times)

Upon my brief review of the controversy, it got me thinking about leadership in the church. (oh no!) It seems that recently, those of us in the non-liturgical, low church traditions with American culture have moved towards picking leaders based upon their personality, theology and also character(i hope!). Now this isn't necessarily a bad thing, after all Paul must've been a pretty dynamic guy. And what church wouldn't want that for their leadership?! But, if that person fails us, then we tend to not only dismiss the person, but the whole institution. The underlying conceit is that if the institution can't choose the best person, then the institution is flawed. This means that we take a position contrary to Augustine. We basically dont respect the position, whether it be priest or pastor, as being a representatative of the church, who's head is Jesus Christ. We want our church leadership to be full of saints, not humans trying their best to serve and represent God on this frail planet. The pressure to be a saint is burning out our clergy...

The recent trend of denominations to send their leaders to psychological testing and reviews isn't necessarily a bad thing. But what if God is calling someone into a position of leadership who may have some psychological issues, like addiction, or a mental illness. Another troubling thought comes to mind, "Should we pick leaders who are a good match for the church?" Or "Should we pick leaders who would be good for the church?" and "How do we know who God has determined to be the leader of the church?"

So maybe we should look into new models of leadership? Or maybe revisit the old models and adapt them to our 21st century context. In looking at different churches, i've noticed that in low churches there is a tendency towards personality cults. While high churches can sometimes place people into churches where they are a poor fit. The question is how do we find the balance? Hmm something new to ponder in the coming year...


White people just dont get it...

The other day, the fogster was hanging out with a good friend of non-white extraction and difficult/underprivileged background. This friend had been through alot and had made alot of progress, but like those of us who struggles, has their moments... when the following conversational exchange occurred.

Why do white people always play down your pain?

Whaddya mean? (i asked)

I had two conversations when i was down, and frustrated about my life...

Go on (i prodded, interested) My friend laid it out like this:

Convo 1 with white friend

non-white friend: i've had to work harder than everyone else to get where i'm at, and sometimes i just get frustrated

white friend: surely you haven't had to work harder than everyone else...

non-white friend: oh come on you know what i mean, oh forget about, you just dont get it

white friend: you know maybe if you could learn to talk about things differently, that'd help...

non-white friend: nevermind, hows your food?

Convo 2 non-white friend a w/ non-white friend b

non-white frienda: i've had to work harder than everyone else to get where i'm at, and sometimes i just get frustrated

non-white friend b: i know what your talking about, and i bet your tired right now...

non-white friend a: yeah im tired, sometimes i just wanna quit...

non-white friend b: but look at where the Lord has brought you, its a miracle that you're here...

Then my friend asked me: Why do white people do shit like that? The fogster could only answer: I dunno, i'm not white either...