Saturday, September 28, 2013

238 Minutes I Can't Get Back

There a certain things you just have to do as an American.
You have to see a Yankees Red Sox game.
You have to mow someone else's lawn. Usually, when you're a teenager.
You have to say the Pledge of Allegiance with a Boy Scout leading it.
And you have to watch the movie "Gone With the Wind."
I've done all of the above so I guess I am an official American.  And I enjoyed all of it, even the lawn mowing, except for "Gone With the Wind."
What a complete waste of time.
OK, don't get me wrong.  From a cinematic perspective the movie is amazing when you consider that it was filmed in the 1930's. The set, the long horizon shots, the way they use lighting and pan the camera is groundbreaking.
But I just can't like anyone in the movie.
Especially not Scarlett.
In one word...she is DESPICABLE.  She connives, manipulates, whines, cheats, gloats, pouts, rages and pities herself.  She plays hard to get one minute and pathetically desperate the next.  The whole town hates her, even many of her family members and she is still unrepentant. She is shameless, heartless and directionless. All she wants is a man. All she wants is the man she can't have. All she wants is money. All she wants is money she can't have.
I almost liked Rhett--but he is a "ladies man" as well as abusive and cocky. But there is one thing I like about him --he tells Charlotte who she is and is not afraid to say it in the plainest terms. He calls her a "child" at one point and he is right, except that I would have used the word "brat" or maybe even something harsher, but I have to keep in mind that is was the 1930's so probably "brat" would have been pushing it.
In the end, he grabs his stuff and leaves Scarlett and when she pleads and sobs and begs him to stay, asking, "Oh Rhett, what will I do?" he delivers his famous line: "Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn." Then the movie ends with her staring off into the distance, a nostalgic look in her damp eyes, saying that she is going to go home to her farm "Tara."
Good riddance.  And for God's sake don't follow her there with the cameras.  I am done with Scarlett and Rhett, and this whole technicolor movie.
I know for some, this harsh review might seem sacrilegious. I know how people feel about this movie.  The lady at the front the counter of a store I was in yesterday managed to squeeze in a comment about her favorite movie being "Gone with the Wind" before she bagged my stuff.  It's amazing how much this movie is ingrained into our culture and how it truly is a piece of Americana. I don't know why I hadn't seen it (Baptist censorship?) up until a month ago when I started watching it a little bit at a time. I knew some of the lines even though I hadn't seen the movie, just from people quoting them over the years at opportune times.  But I can honestly say that even though it took me over 40 years to finally sit down and watch that movie (and almost that long to get all the way through it) - I'm NOT glad I watched it and yet I am.  I'm glad I have finally seen this classic and can therefore be considered a "true American" but I am not glad because it was four hours of despicable people doing despicable things (with rare exceptions) and in the end, really nothing gets resolved and you are left with no one to cheer for.
Call me crazy, but I like to cheer others on and I think most Americans are the same. We like movies that remind us there is some good left in society. That there is someone or some THING to cheer for and get behind. That's why we like underdogs and long shots. That's why we like the no name guy who wins an Olympic bronze. We love it when we're down eight races to one and come back to win it all like we did in the America's Cup the other day.  We have books like "The Little Engine That Could" for our kids. We tell our teens to "never give up." As adults, we like when our friends and family check something off their Bucket List. (Usually this involves skydiving from a ridiculous height after the age of 50 and then posting the wind-blown wide smile on Facebook.)

That is where "Gone With the Wind" really let me down. I had no reason to raise my pom-poms. The nice folks (like Ashley's wife) spent ten minutes on screen out of 238 because Scarlett hogged every frame with her jealous tears, angry outbursts and insatiable desires. I don't need every movie to be like Forrest Gump, where you know exactly who to root for (Run Forrest! Run!), but if I am going to spend four hours on a movie, I would at least like there to be one person in it that makes me feel a tad inspired. I'll even settle for an animal to cheer for.
Maybe I'll watch Finding Nemo this weekend.

-Hope A. Horner, 2013
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Step Out of the Comfort Clogs

"Why walk a mile in someone else's shoes 
when you can walk a thousand in your own?"

I heard this on the radio yesterday.  It was an ad for shoes and while I know the advertisers were trying to be "cute" with their little play on words, I thought to myself, "What a terrible way to put it." How incredibly selfish. Your tag line basically says:
Don't worry about how anyone else feels, it's all about you.
Empathy is overrated.
I know they were just trying to sell really comfortable shoes, but still it really, really bothered me. I was on my way to work and found my eyes watering and had to compose myself.  I sat at the stop light wondering: Do we really live in a world where you can come up with tag line like this for your product without a second thought?  I pictured the marketing group sitting around a large table in a cramped meeting room trying out different slogans for their new line of clogs. Jane, a marketing pro and senior executive says:
"Hey I got it! How about this:  Why walk a mile in someone else's shoes when you can walk a thousand in your own?"  She looks around excitedly.
Blank stares look back. Finally, someone speaks up:
"No, Jane. We here at Comfort Clogs are not going to use that one."
"But why?" Her protest borders on a whine. "It's a great tag line!"
"Because it'll make us look like heartless, self-centered schmucks."
She drops her arms to her sides and rests her chin on her chest. After a few moments of remorse she responds:
"You're right.  Let's go back to our usual slogan "Our Shoes Are Great" and call it a day."
Meeting adjourned.
It didn't work that way, obviously. The tag line was a "winner." I am serious when I say it caused my eyes to water. OK, I wasn't sobbing like a fool over a shoe commercial, but that terrible sentiment did make me cringe and then tear up. It was so depressingly selfish that I couldn't stand it. Maybe it's because my 18 year old nephew is living with me and so I see the world differently now. I worry about the world he is growing up in in a way I never did before. Or maybe it is because I am tired of hearing all the anti-immigrant sentiment being thrown around in the news by people who's only contact with a Mexican person is every other month when they pay their gardener.
Or maybe it is because of what is going on in Syria and how many Americans are responding to it.
"Oh well.  Let them solve their own problems. We're not the world's police."
You are aware that people, children, are DYING, right?  While bombs may not solve the problem (Do they ever?) certainly you can't possibly be that cavalier and callous when you see the faces of innocent children covered in chemical burns?
Or maybe you haven't walked a mile in their shoes, you've only spent time in your own Bruno Maglis?

Later on that same day, as I sat at my desk at work, a helicopter flew over my building.  The thump-thump-thump of the blades made me stop typing. It seemed really close, almost like it was going to land on the roof. Then I thought about how if I lived in a lot of places in the middle east, including Syria, I would probably be under my desk at this point, covering my head, like I was in some kind of an earthquake drill, only this time, I would be worried about bombs or sarin gas or bullets ricocheting around. I took a deep breath and thought,
"Get back in your own shoes, Hope." (As you can see, I am sarcastic even with myself.)

My how the world would change if we tried to walk a mile in other people's shoes.  Even if we didn't physically cram our feet into their Crocs, Nikes or Payless Pro Wings, at least we could visualize being "in their shoes" in our hearts and minds. We could pause before we speak. Think from our hearts instead of just from our political platforms. Maybe then, we would respond to tough situations a whole lot less politically, dogmatically, or casually, and instead respond with compassion, sensitivity and curiosity.  I am not advocating for an emotional knee-jerk response mind you, mistakes can be made there as well, but in a way that says, "These people are not "THEM"...they are human beings just like me. Cut-downs, hunger, sick babies, chemical burns -- hurt them as much as they would me."

I always laugh when I see the fundraisers that support women's causes where men have to walk in heels. These poor guys topple around, groaning and slipping and rolling their ankles like a circus act. Meanwhile, the ladies laugh and nod there heads and say things like, "Aren't you glad you don't have to wear those to work?" (Meanwhile, they're all standing around on a Saturday in heels that no one forced them to wear, but still, let them have their moment.) The guys always agree these shoes are a pain in the a...ankle, but they still love the ladies to don them on Friday nights along with those really restricting, see-through leg covering thingy-s you always see sexy women wear, what are they called again? Oh yeah, nylons. Anyway, the point is to get these guys to "empathize" with what women have to go through. For about an hour it works. But then the guys finish the "race" and go put on a few bandaids and their big stinky Nikes and the day goes on. While they were literally "stepping into someone else's shoes", for awhile, there is a big difference between that and wearing the shoes all day. There is a big difference between fasting for one day and what a hungry child in Chicago goes through on a weekly basis when her mom runs out of rice and macaroni by Tuesday. And there is a BIG difference between holding your breath for three seconds as a helicopter flies over your building and hiding in fear wondering if the building is going to blow up around you.
It literally takes BEING that person to really understand. That is impossible, I know. But can't we try? Can't we think just for a minute about how it feels to be someone else? How it feels to be called a name? Left out? Starving? Scared? Alone? Can we imagine what we would do if we were in that situation? How we would feel? Can we see past skin color? Sexual orientation? Religious beliefs? Tatoos?
Can we try on their shoes? Walk a mile?
Most of the time we stay in our own shoes, dust them off when they get a little dirty and keep moving along our merry way. I'd like to get out of my Comfort Clogs more often and try to see things from the viewpoint of someone else who walks on rocky ground with no shoes at all. I want to walk a mile in your shoes, or at least try--not just jog along through rose gardens while you struggle to take another step in a barren desert. I don't want human beings to be treated like mere stastistics, a "drain on the economy", "illegals" "foreigners" or "those people over there" or whatever label we give you that says "You stay on your journey and I'll stay on mine and never the two shall meet." 
I want to pause. Think with my heart. Show compassion. Get out of my comfort clogs and walk in your shoes. And I pray that despite the influence of self-centered marketing campaigns and heartless political bantering, we can all do the same.

-Hope Horner, 2013
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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Why Worry? It's All Under Control (Mine)

Ever say something that sounds really wise and feel pretty good about yourself and then later you realize that you're not as smart as you thought?
The other day I was meeting with a worry-wort. I mean the kind of person who worries about EVERYTHING. Her whole life, mind, and body are wracked with the stress and anxiety of wayward kids, shiesty exes, unfriendly co-workers, what to eat, how much diet soda she drinks, what her boss thinks of her, etc. I was in the middle of a small family crisis when I was meeting with her in the late afternoon last week and my cell phone kept going off. I finally turned it off.
"You can get it if you want," she offered. I could tell by her face that she was already adding me to her worry list.
"Oh no, that's fine. It's no big deal." I put my phone on the chair next to me so it was out of sight.
"No, really go ahead. Aren't you going to worry?" She couldn't believe I wasn't going to at least listen to my voice mail.
"Nah." I said. And here came my profound line:
"I don't worry about things I can't control."
She looked me in the eyes for a second, digested the line and then got a look of zen on her face. "That is a good one. 'I don't worry about things I can't control.' I wish I could do that." She smiled meekly and looked at me in admiration. I felt like Oprah.
Here I was in this tiny room, my phone blowing up with calls and texts, a little number '3' next to the voice mail icon on my phone, and I wasn't going to worry about things I couldn't control. Isn't that great? Then I felt even better when I remembered that I was actually following one of Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. (Get the 7 Habits Here) I couldn't remember which one of the seven I was following (Put First Things First?), but I remember that there is this really neat diagram in the book about the "Circle of Concern" and "Circle of Influence." Basically Covey says you should only focus time and effort on what is in your "Circle of Influence" and it is successful people who don't let the "Circle of Concern" (i.e. stuff you can't control) bog them down. Look at me! I was doing that! I was only worrying about what I could control! I could be a Covey Consultant!
Then God smacked my ego right upside its face. 
"I don't worry about things I can't control, huh? Easy for you to say, Control Freak!"
I was driving home from work when the second part popped into my head. I'll admit I laughed. Why? Because it is true and God is good to keep me from getting so proud of myself that I spew Covey and Oprah "words of wisdom" around like I am someone who has it all together.
Look, I may not be like my worry-wort friend, but that doesn't mean I handle worry wisely. It is easy for me to say that I don't worry about what I can't control if I try to take control of MOST OF MY LIFE. There is a reason I am called "Hands-On Horner" by a few who know me well. I like to conduct, direct, organize, inform, lead, show, tell....CONTROL. Not in a freaky, overbearing, psycho rabbit-boiling-on-the-stove kind of way, but in a way that can be a little unbalanced sometimes. My control issues mean I sit on the aisle in movie theaters, church pews and on planes if possible. It means I can't relax if my living room is messy. I plan every day, even weekends. The Container Store is like Disneyland to me. I keep all my "TO-DO" items front and center on a list in the kitchen and I run errands around town in a methodical fashion - starting with the place farthest away and working my way back. Spontaneity is not in my vocabulary. I eat on a schedule and could eat cereal every meal for the rest of my life and not get bored. I like to suggest to others how to better organize their own lives. I am often early, never late. I am organized, driven and responsible. I am also cynical. Proud. Sarcastic. Critical.
And it bothers me.
Sure, there are a lot of ways to be worry free. Being a control freak is just one. Here are a few other ways:

You can be worry free if  you think your way is the best way and everyone else has got it all wrong.
You can be worry free if you are drunk.
You can be worry free if you don't really care what happens to others.
You can be worry free if you are apathetic and shirk all your responsibilities.
You can be worry free if you are lazy.
You can be worry free if you choose to make no commitments, have no deep relationships, live for yourself.

All of the above can make life (or at least a few hours of it) worry-free, but it is it healthy? Does it mean I have my worry under control?  Does it mean I get to gloat like Dr. Phil over my worry-stricken friends?
And that is why I think I was humbled the other day after delivering my little line about not worrying about what I can't control. It was like God said later, "Nice one Princess Platitude. Now stop being so proud and pray."
I was immediately reminded of Matthew 6:34 which is one of those really easy to understand and practical Bible verses that I just love. It says, "Don't worry about tomorrow. Today has enough trouble of it's own." Ain't that the truth?
So while I really am worry free for the most part, I'd like it to be for the right reason, not just when I have my hands on everything and am in control. (Who am I kidding anyway? I'm as in control of my life as the kid "riding" the plastic horse for a quarter outside of a supermarket.) I'd like to be worry free because I trust in the One who holds the whole world in His hands. (Remember that song from Sunday School?)
Not because I think the whole world is in my hands.

-Hope A. Horner
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Friday, September 13, 2013

A Former Baptist LOLs

A friend of mine hasn't been to church in a very long time. This has caused her Southern Baptist parents a considerable amount of angst. She often vents to me about all the ways they have tried to coax her into going to church.
"Maybe you'll meet a nice man there?"  This they said after she divorced.
"Wouldn't it be nice for your son to participate in Vacation Bible School?"  He did drama camp instead.
"And there would probably be a lot of nice folks there who could support you during difficult times." There were, but she never had the courage to go meet them.
Their last attempt came recently when she moved. They sent her a list of all the Southern Baptist churches in the new area where she lived.  She called me about it.
"Do they really think I don't know how to find my own church? I mean, my Dad actually sent me a copy of of all the listings of the Southern Baptist churches. Do they think I don't know how to use Google?"
"Evidently," I said. "And they sent you only the Southern Baptist churches?"
"Wow. You should send them back a page of Unitarian churches in their area."
"Ha. Not funny."
She called me a few days later to say she had found a church. It was a United Methodist church just a few blocks from her house. She didn't find it in the phone book or through Google. She found it through their outreach work with the homeless. I was suprised she found it at all because I wasn't sure she was looking for a church.
"Since we moved here, I see them out there all the time trying to help the homeless and I just think that is what Christians should be doing, you know? Helping people and being kind and stuff. I just don't want to go to some church full of white people who sit around and talk about God all day."
"You mean like the ones you grew up in?"
"Yeah," she said. "I can't stand how some Christians only care about other Christians and just figure they can let the world go to hell in a hand basket because Jesus is coming back to take them out of it anyway."
"Yeah, let's hope we all get raptured before the polar ice caps finally melt." 
"Exactly! So I stopped in at the United Methodist Church and saw that they have a lot of programs in the community to help people in need. It's cool. I want to do that. I mean, there mission is 'making disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world.'"
"That's awesome! Glad you found somewhere you like."
"Well, we'll see. I'm going to go for the first time this Sunday." I could hear the hesitation in her voice. It has been years since she sat in a church pew.
"Have you told your parents about the church?" 
"Yeah, I mentioned it yesterday."
"What did they say?"  
"My Dad said 'The United Methodists are very liberal.'"
"Oh, Jeez."
"Yeah, he didn't say why, but he kind of left it at that. I could tell he was a bit disappointed I didn't pick out one of the churches he sent on the list."
"They were all Southern Baptist!"
"I know. There is just no way I would go to one of those after what I went through growing up in those churches."
"Well who cares what he thinks, you go to the church where you feel comfortable. For goodness sake, it's not like the United Methodists are from another religion!" 
She goes this Sunday. I hope it goes well. I pray that she will find people at this church who will welcome, love and support her. She needs it. She has been through a lot and has some raw, open wounds that need the balm of Gilead. She also has so much to offer--she's smart, talented and has a heart big enough for two people.
Meanwhile, I did a Google search for the difference between Baptists and United Methodists. It basically boils down to babies and ladies.
Babies can be baptized in the United Methodist Church. Baptists wait until you are an adult and make a "decision for Christ" before the ceremonial dunk occurs.
And then --here's what probably made her dad use the word "Liberal"-- ladies are allowed to be pastors or serve in leadership capacities within the church. (Insert conservative gasp here!) Baptists do not allow this. Women are to be silent in church per I Corinthians 14:34. (This verse has always made me laugh because it is really possible for women to be silent anywhere?) Most people, including the liberal United Methodists evidently, read this verse and think that Paul is talking about the culture of his time and certainly things are different today. Not the Baptist's. These are God's words, not Paul's. So women, you can teach Sunday School with the K-12th graders, but don't even think about teaching men or preaching or leading the worship or asking a question out loud in church. Just sit there and listen and then go home on Sunday afternoons and if you have any questions about the sermon, ask your husband. (If you can tear him away from the NFL game.)
I hesitate even to write the above paragraph because I worry it will scare a few more people away from the Christian faith. I'm worried it will keep a few more people like my friend out of church. I mean who would want to be a part of a group who tells women they can't speak in church in 2014?  Is this the same group that said the Bible says blacks are inferior to whites? There is so much of what people don't like about Christianity on display for the world to see and it just makes me cringe. I put some of it here in my blog so I can ruminate and respond, but it bugs me to even write it because I worry that of the three people who actually read my blog (ha, ha) that one might be on the fence about God and just reading this will make them fall like Humpty away from the faith. The good news is that I hope that most people can understand that Christians are human and therefore, just like other groups of people, they will make mistakes, have different views and divide over silly things. The only difference is, that we are supposed to be united in Christ. We are supposed to be Christ-like, humble, non judgemental, compassionate, good stewards of what he has given us (whether we believe in global warming or not.) When we don't act this way, when as friends, sisters, dads and moms we discourage people from connecting with God and others over doctrinal differences, it makes me sick. Literally. Our foolishness is keeping people from God! God help us!
Since my friend told me what her dad said, it has been rattling around in my head. Here's why: Her parents want her to go to church. Their intentions are good. She finally gets around to going and what do they say? "That's great honey!" and then pray for her as she goes, right?  
They judge this group of Christians from a distance and call them "liberal" and make her question whether she should go or not. Their message is clear: We are more worried about our daughter going to the RIGHT church as we see it, than we are in her actually connecting with God. I want to ask them---
She's been two thousand miles from entering a church, now she is two steps and you're worried about whether the women are muted and the babies have wet heads?! 
Knowing that her parents are not happy with her choice of churches has caused her some stress, but I think I helped her get over it. I hope so. I hope she can make it Sunday. It is going to be a long walk.
I grew up in Baptist churches so I can relate to how my friend feels. Wherever my family moved, the first thing we did was unpack our boxes, the second thing was find the 1st Baptist Church of Whatever Town We Lived In. With rare exceptions (we branched out once to an Evangelical Free Church) we were Baptists to the core. I never realized how much it affected my thinking until I got out of it. I started attending other churches and listening to people who were Methodist, Lutheran, Church of Christ, Non-denominational (or non-committal as the Baptists would probably call them) and I figured out that there are a lot of Christians out there who don't mind if a woman speaks up in church, heck, even PASTORS a church and that every word in the Bible did not come out of the mouth of God, but is inspired by God and is the story of God, but that the people writing it wrote from and within their own cultural and geographic context, paradigms, and backgrounds.
That last sentence probably borders on heresy to Baptists. It probably screams "LIBERAL!" Sorry, this fomer Baptist woman has been un-muted.
So I told my friend that I was so happy that she had found a church and to not care what her parents said. In fact, I sent her a text that looked like this:
I found out why your dad said the United Methodists are liberal. They allow women to be pastors. HORROR!
LOL. She replied.
Yes, LOL, my sister--
Laugh Out Loud...even in church!

-Hope A. Horner, 2013 - Sign Up to Receive Blogs via Email at the top of this page
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Monday, September 2, 2013

The Forgotten Love Letter

As a kid I used to make up the lyrics to songs all the time. I never really understood what Duran Duran was saying in some of their songs (Those pretty boys could write some complicated lyrics!) so I would just sing along, making up my own words when I wasn't quite sure what they were saying.  "Every little thing the reflex does, leaves the answer to the question aaahhhh...."
Besides Duran Duran, one of my favorite artists back in those days was Howard Jones. He had the big 80's pop hairstyle, a huge synthesizer and the song "No One is to Blame" to put him on the map. When I was in junior high and high school, I used to spend hours listening to his 1985 "Dream Into Action" album on my Sony Walkman. Here are a few lyrics to his song Pearl in the Shell:

What? You wish your hair could do this.
And the fear goes on, shout at dawn
And the tear flows, for nothing

Actually, here is how the lyrics really go:
And the fear goes on, shadows
And the tear flows, for nothing

Back in 1985, I was so frustrated by the last part of that first line ("shout at dawn" was my best guess at what the lyric was) that I sent in a request to the Howard Jones fan club for the lyrics. A few weeks later this large sheet of lyrics returned and I scanned down until I found the song and that line.
"Shout at dawn" is actually "Shadows"?
He's saying "Shadows"?! I couldn't believe I had heard "Shout at dawn." Maybe I had been listening to too much Billy Idol? Anyway, I was glad to have the correct lyrics because I just HAD to know what Howard Jones was saying. I loved him. His music was the soundtrack of my life when I was a teenager. His lyrics were upbeat, optimistic, inspirational---he loved animals, the planet and people of all colors and walks of life and encouraged peace and vegetarianism. (I was all for the love and peace part, but couldn't quite give up the Big Macs.) I bought every one of his albums, wore down my cassettes until they broke and was jealous of my friend Amy who went to all of his concerts and came back from every one with a black T-shirt with Howard's face on it. Even though I never made it to a HoJo concert in the 80's, I knew every one of his songs by heart, even if I made up my own lyrics occasionally. In junior high, I remember singing "Things Can Only Get Better" another Howard Jones top 40 hit, while I helped my mom with the dishes in the kitchen:
"Treating today as though it was the last and final show, get to sixty and feel no regrets..." I sang out.
My mom interrupted me: "And how do you get to sixty and have no regrets?"  She rinsed a plate under hot water and handed it to me. I knew the answer she wanted so I gave it to her:
"You retire five years early with a 401K that rivals Warren Buffet's bank account."
Just kidding! I did NOT say that. Dishes would have dropped to the floor. Instead, I said: "You live for God."
She smiled and I returned to drying the plate in front of me, but decided to HUM top 40 from then on.

The other day I read a selection from Soren Kierkegaard entitled "Alone with God's Word" from the book Provocations.
Listen To The Selection Here
To simplify, he describes the Bible as a love letter from God to humanity. He asks, "My listener, how highly do you value Gods Word?  Imagine a lover who has received a letter from his beloved. I assume that God's Word is just as precious to you as this letter is to a lover..." He goes on to describe how someone reads a letter from a lover - urgently, enthusiastically--with a great need to understand every word and nuance and that while they are reading it, they would really rather be alone, uninterrupted in order to ponder and revel in the words the letter contains. He goes on to ask, what if the lover asks for something in the letter?  Do we not run out and do it right away?  Imagine a letter from the love of your life, asking you to PLEASE do something. Would you not make sure it gets taken care of? You can see why he uses this metaphor. The Bible is a love letter from God to us and it also contains specific instructions on how we are to live.
And yet, if you're like me, you don't read it like that. You read it more like a newspaper. You scan the headlines (i.e. the sections of the Gospel that are easy to understand and get right to the point) and avoid the financial sections that are really complicated and often depressing (the Old Testament.) The Sports Pages are fun (i.e. Proverbs) since there is a lot of action verbs and catchy phrases. Psalms is like a special weekend insert in the paper--there when you need it, full of good reminders about what's out there if you're restless, lonely or sad.
So both Kierkegaard and Howard Jones ganged up on me this week. They convicted me. Here was the conviction:
So how is it that I will write in to the Howard Jones fan club just to be sure I am getting ONE LINE of his song right, and yet skim over God's Word? How is it that GOD writes me a love letter and I read it like I would a newspaper?
Bottom line is when I read the Bible like a newspaper or just skim through it, I miss out. God's Word is chock-full of details and drama and love and languish and there is so much to explore and understand. It is simple in its message of salvation (Kierkegaard also warns about becoming too "scholarly" about the Bible and missing the point - God loves you and wants to be in a relationship with you) and yet it is also a challenge to understand for example, what "resurrection" really meant to the disciples and first century Christians. (See N.T. Wright's book Surprised by Hope for a fascinating read about that very topic.
Only $2 on Kindle! )
The Bible is a love letter from God. I forget that sometimes. Sure it is long, but it is worth reading. Maybe if I approach it thinking that this is the most important letter I will ever receive, one that the Author, Lover of my Soul, wants me to read, understand, treasure and respond to, maybe then I really WILL get to sixty and have no regrets.

-Hope A. Horner, 2013
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