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Archive for January, 2007

Ain’t She a Beaut?

taurus2.JPG

So here she is, the Taurus I swore I’d never own. To tell you the truth, I’m giddy with new car excitement. I’ll forgive you, Ford. Here I go eating my words…

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Same Car, Different Year

My first car ever was this maroon ’88 Ford Taurus. THE worst car in the history of the world. Save the yellow Pinto my parents had in the late 70’s. (Thankfully we all didn’t blow up in that thing…but I digress) At the time I bought that devil-car, my PARENTS had the EXACT SAME CAR. I had just graduated from college, and was hoping for something a bit cooler than the family car, but I had to move to my new job in a hurry, and that beast was all I could find. During the time I owned that car, the head cracked, the transmission went, and I was stranded in the wilds of Pennsylvania 4 times. At one point, in the middle of the summer, I was riding on two cylinders (unbeknownst to me…) and got caught in a traffic jam on the way into Nyack, NY (which is on the same huge highway that takes you into NYC–picture six lanes on either side…) and my temperature was going into the red everytime I had to stop, so I was turning on the heat full blast to keep it cool… I think I still have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from that damn car. After I got married and moved to Arkansas, we finally got rid of it for a whopping 400 bucks. I swore after that I would NEVER buy a Ford EVER EVER again. No matter what came our way. I was burned, baby. Burned bad.

After that it was all foreign cars for me–I had a VW Jetta (LOVED that car), a Toyota Camry wagon (who cares if it was an 89 and looked like a brown hearse…) and most recently, a 91 Acura Legend (a car retired golfing doctors yearn for). The Acura was the nicest car I have ever driven, and I must say, with our roof rack gear on it, looks mighty cool. But ah, here’s the rub. Cracked head gasket. Temperature gage going up into the red (giving me flashbacks…) erratic heat (it’s been COLD here lately) and to top it off, a flat tire. We have decided that it will cost almost as much as we paid for it to fix it, so we’ve been on the hunt for a new car. Now we’ve been saving for a vehicle, and were hoping that next year or the year after we’d have enough cash for a snazzy Subaru Outback. We figured the Acura would serve us till then.

Today, Dan is going to check out a car in our current price range:

A 2005 FORD TAURUS.

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Class Assignment

Here is another ‘letter home’ that I wrote in response to a chapter on church history.

Knoll Intro-3 Letter Home
Noyes, Shelley
Evangelical Theology

Dad~

I have always wondered why church is set up the way it is. How did the order of service come about? Why do we do communion a certain way? If our church calls itself a ‘New Testament’ church, why does our worship look so different than the early church?

Well, I just read something that intruiges me and troubles me at the same time. Did you know that during the time of the New Testament, church order was ‘quite flexible’ (Knoll, pg 38), and only a half a century later, a ‘fairly well-defined rule of the church by bishops is firmly in place?’ (Knoll, pg 38) There was a gap in evidence between those times, and we don’t know for sure how the change came about. The book I’m talking about puts the change in the context of the church going from a form of Judiasm to having it’s own identity in the ancient world.

I guess the part that gives me pause is the lack of writing or evidence between those two times. In one sense, I know that the Holy Spirit promises to guide us into all truth, and that he didn’t just jump ship when the apostles died. But not knowing exactly how the change was made has me thinking about the fragility of church history in general. I would rather stand on something hard and sure–and sometimes not know the ambiguities involved in shaping the faith that we have now in the 21st century. But then, I know I would miss the humanity of it all, and the way that Jesus, as head of the Church, by his Spirit guides us regardless of our weakness and fallen-ness.

It is a great test of my faith to open up the human-soaked can of worms that learning about church history can be. But I am grateful as well, since tearing down old notions enables me to build better, truthful ones–relying on God to stretch and strengthen me when I feel myself on shakey ground.

Love you Dad– Love, Shelley

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So here’s my shout out to all full time college students out there: you guys rock! I’m taking one class and you’d think I was taking 15 hours by the amount of time I spend on it and the work I’m doing. Granted, with one class I can spend more time than those with a full load, but I don’t remember how I did it in college. Oh yeah…I didn’t really do it. I mean, I graduated and everything, but as for retaining any knowledge–that’s a bit debatable. I was Social Queen then and who had time for the reading?? But I’m making great friends, mom, I said. Well, those are some pretty expensive friendships my dear, she said. You could come home and make friends for free. Ah, the wisdom of mothers.

Speaking of mothers, and I am one, things with my little one are a bit rocky these days. Recently, I have felt like I’m the lead in a play, and the lights are bright and hot on me, and I’m center stage, but I can’t for the life of me remember what I’m supposed to say. Situations come up every day lately where Sadie does something I know I’m supposed to correct (like her being mad at her friend over which lip gloss they are talking about–the cherry one or the Tinkerbell one–Sadie yelling ‘the CHERRY one…I’m RIGHT you’re WRONG–and then stomping her foot in anger while not saying goodbye to her friend…) I know that I am the mom, and I’m supposed to teach her how to be a good friend and how not to insist upon being right all the time and how to see something from someone else’s point of view. But how to do all that beats the hell out of me. It seems whatever I say–either she resists, or it turns out to be wrong, or I make things worse, or Dan would have handled it better…and just like with a newborn, you don’t get a handbook or a detailed manual telling you exactly what to do. Moody four year olds struggling to gain their autonomy while still clinging to mommy don’t come with any instructions either. Sure, in both cases you could read every book ever written on the subject–but that still doesn’t account for YOUR particular child. I wonder constantly if I’m failing and if she’s going to turn out to be a spoiled brat because I don’t spank her and because I allow more than some of my other friends do in terms of behavior. I’m scared of her sometimes–of her emotions–and I panic when she is upset or disobeys me. I’m not afraid she won’t like me…(how could she not?? 🙂 ) It is more a fear that I’m going to do something so wrong that she’ll be scarred for life, or won’t be adjusted well enough for society, or she’ll be the biggest brat and no kid will want to be around her because she’s so bossy. I always heard that in your thirties you are supposed to be more sure of yourself and feel more comfortable in your own skin. I don’t think they took Motherhood into account–it’s the most unsure I’ve felt about anything.

On a lighter note, my friend Shannon (hi dear!) gave me a tip on getting housework done: books on tape. I have recently found GREAT success with this tactic. I find myself looking for MORE things to do so I don’t have to stop the story yet. Something about it overrides the part of my brain that says ‘I can’t do this, it’s overwhelming, just shut the door and ignore it…’ and I feel no agony over the actual doing of the tasks. For me, quite an amazing feat. Thanks again Shannon!

Now I’m off to put on my headphones on and unload the dishwasher. Yay!

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I thought I would post some other things I have written from my ‘Essentials of Evangelical Theology’ class. They are both in response to reading chapters in a book called “The Mosaic of Christian Belief’ by Roger Olson. The first one is a ‘letter home’, (hypothetical, and meant to check if you really understood what you were reading…) and the second one is a journal entry.

Olson Chapter 2: Letter Home

Dear Mom,

I used to think Gnosticism was a problem that only occurred in the first century early church. I never paid much attention to it because I figured that there were enough Bible verses devoted to correcting the problem. But in my reading today, I realized that I participated in a form of Gnosticism with what I believed in college. First, let me explain what the term actually means: “Gnosticism is any religious reliance on special insight and wisdom that is not available…to all Christians.” (Olson, pg 59).

I think that what I believed about ‘The Baptism of the Holy Spirit’ falls into a Gnostic belief. I remember feeling compelled to ‘convert’ the Christians who didn’t have ‘all of God’ because they weren’t ‘filled with the Spirit’ yet. In my mind, I saw my understanding of God on a higher plane than the ‘non-spirit-filled’ Christians. They were the uninitiated, and needed to be told this truth that wasn’t available to them in their ‘dead’ churches. I honestly believed that I had more of God than the ‘average Christian’—and it was my job to impart this special knowledge.

Looking back, I am humbled by my lack of understanding in terms of Truth. I unwittingly fell into a heresy that dates back centuries, and occurs in many forms. I wish I could take my spiritual arrogance back—to apologize to those people I looked down upon (ones who didn’t see things my way…) and to reach those who did ‘convert’ on account of my ‘witness.’ I know we all fall into spiritual error at one time or another, and God works in spite of me, but seeing the truth about myself is difficult.

Just wanted to let you know what I’ve been learning.

Love,
Shelley

Olson 3 and 4: Journal Entry
As I was reading this material, old tapes started playing in my head when I got to the section on the heresy of ‘fundamentalism’s implicit biblioltry’. I had always been taught that the Bible was dictated to men, and I was surprised to see that phenomenon in the heresy category. I started getting nervous, edgy and defensive. In the past, I would have shut the book right there (and surely what my father would still do now) and declare it ‘liberal’, or even ‘blasphemous.’ Instead, I read the section a few times to truly understand it, and realized that I don’t believe that anymore anyway.

Some changes to my beliefs on the Bible have been creeping up–not in a startling way, but quietly–showing up as questions and disorganized thoughts. Reading Olson’s 4th chapter just put words to ideas that had been floating around in my head. I realize that as opposed to my upbringing, I believe that some parts of scripture have more authority than others (as Luther believed). I was relieved to see it there–so I’m not going outside of Orthodoxy after all! It’s hard to shut off the old tapes, especially when they are playing my father’s voice. This is a conversation I cannot ever have with him. I can picture him pointing his finger at me, his whole body shaking with righteous indignation. But there it is, anyway.

When I read what theologian Donald G. Bloesch had to say about all of these issues, I circled and starred the material. Yes, I thought. That feels right. He summed up what I have been thinking. I also agreed with Olson, and I can’t tell you the relief I felt to see my some of my disconnected ideas written concretely and succinctly. This class is giving me the perspective I’ve never had before–the long view of Christian history. It settles me during a time when I’m constructing and reconstructing my own beliefs.

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I have to write a one page double spaced description of my spiritual journey. My word. I have been trying to do that for years and using pages and pages and pages. A daunting task, this boiling down of my life in God. But here it is, ready to hand in tomorrow:

God has always been a part of me, much like my hands or my hair. I’ve loved him for as long as I can remember. Though, as a child, I also loved the Virgin Mary and Saint Bernadette with equal fervor. In third grade, Sister Mabel told our class at St. Leo’s Catholic School that Jesus had died on the cross for our sins. It was Holy Week, and we were out of the classroom doing the Stations of the Cross in the sanctuary next door. I knew Jesus had died and rose again, but suddenly it hit me about the suffering. And that He suffered for ME. That night I put my head under the covers and wished with all my heart that I could have suffered instead of him.   

Then my parents got ‘saved’ and we left the Catholic Church. My journey into the evangelical subculture began with a showing of “The Cross and the Switchblade” at a Wesleyan church. Cried, went down the aisle, and was officially saved. A year later, my family was baptized together in a pond at a large Jesus festival in Pennsylvania.   

Through Jr. High and high school, I became a full on, baptized in the Holy Spirit, laying hands on everyone, slain in the Spirit, speaking in tongues kind of charismatic Christian. My public school was my mission field, and I reigned supreme as queen of my youth group. I followed a strict code of moral behavior—my list was very clear on What and/or Who was to be considered ‘Christian.’ Attending a Christian College was more of the same.     

Then I fell in love with a Baptist. Um…other Christians could be “filled with the Spirit’ without officially being ‘baptized in the Spirit?’ But there it was, the Proof: fruit in his life. “But he’ll come around,” I thought when we got married. “We’ll attend a Pentecostal church together.” Instead, I awoke from a two decades-long dream about God, and began to really know him.   

Enter doubt and disillusionment while I worked at DaySpring Greeting Cards. Church was stupid; pointless. Christians were idiots—why was no one was being changed? I will wear black, damn it! And I won’t read my Bible anymore. So there. What? Among my anger and angst, God still loved me? I had discovered grace. Oh the freedom to tear up my old moral list and live…live without the pressure of earning my way! I became a human who didn’t have to be perfect.  

And now, I’m hungry–starving. I want to know him, and everything about him. I want to be transformed, I want to serve. I want to seek out his peace and understand what it means to live the abundant life. I’m a sponge ready to soak him up. 

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She-Who-Ruins-the-Curve

Busy, busy I have been! (said Yoda…). I’m taking a class this semester: Essentials of Evangelical Theology. The great advantage of being a non-traditional student is that I only have to worry about one class. And, nerd that I’m becoming, I am spending WAY too much time on it. But here’s the thing: I LOVE IT. I’m sitting in the library today, learning about Gnosticism, Montanism, and other early heresies and I’m eating it up. Never in a million years did I ever picture myself in a theology class–but it is lighting me up. It’s weird how God puts interests in people at different times in their lives. In college this class would have bored me so badly I would have wanted to pull all of my eyelashes out. But now…it’s so weird.

I remember older students in my classes in college–SO annoying! So I-did-all-my-reading.

But alas, I have now become She-Who-Ruins-the-Curve.

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