Thursday, October 7, 2010

In Which I Awaken to FInd Myself an Official ELCA Blogger

No one is more surprised than I am when I ponder becoming an official ELCA blogger. In fact, when I realized that links to my blog postings regularly appeared on the now defunct website Pretty Good Lutherans, I had some moments of discombobulation. I thought back to the summers when my uncle would get so annoyed with me and accuse me of turning his children (my cousins) against the Lutheran church. I probably did. In retrospect, I wish I had kept my know-it-all mouth shut more often. As a 19 year old, what did I know about spiritual yearnings and needs that might be filled by organized religion?

My grandfather was a Lutheran minister, and I've always said my mom would have been one too, if they had been ordaining women in the early 1960's, when she finished her undergraduate degree. She's spent much of her life working for the Lutheran church as a musician and lay leader. My family spent much of my childhood in church. We were that family who went to church even when we went on vacation. I hated the sameness of the liturgy week after week. Now, of course, I see the value of repetition. I hated the hypocrisy that I thought I saw. Now I'm old enough to know that what I see as hypocrisy may not be the complete picture.

I remember my grandmother asked me once if she and my grandfather did something to turn me off of church. I hate that I caused her that pain, but I did stop having much to do with church during the decade of my 20's. It wasn't her fault. I just wanted a break.

People often ask me if I think that people can lead a moral life with no spiritual grounding. Well, sure, I reply, but I think it's harder. We don't live in a culture that encourages and rewards morality. For me, one of the values of church is the weekly reminder that I'm called to a different mission/life/outlook than the world would have me believe.

But I digress.

I had been reading blogs for years before I started blogging. I especially loved spiritual blogs, but I hesitated to start writing one myself. I worried about all the wide variety of people who might stumble across it and be offended. I worried that I might damage my chance at possible future jobs. I worried about the fact that I didn't have a seminary degree (although in some ways, my literature Ph.D. has given me firm spiritual roots of a different sort). I worried about having enough to say.

Finally, I took the plunge because I just couldn't NOT do it anymore. And to my surprise, people have showed up to read what I've written. And some days, I get links!

Still, it was a complete surprise to me when Jan Rizzo of the ELCA asked me to be an official blogger for a site that the ELCA was creating. I first said to myself, "This must be a mistake. I haven't been to seminary. I'm not worthy."

Once I worked through all my weird emotions, I wrote back to accept the offer. I wrote one blog entry, but the site wasn't up, so I didn't announce the fact that I'd been chosen as an ELCA blogger. I wrote the second blog post, but the site still wasn't up. I began to wonder if it would happen. I didn't regret writing the blog postings; after all, if the Church didn't use them, I'd just post them on my own blogs.

Yesterday, I got the news that the blog part of the site is up and running at If you go to the site it looks like we've all been posting since August.

I've written two posts. My first assignment was to write about Lutheran spirituality and what it means to be Lutheran. It's posted here. I decided to focus on the Lutheran concept of grace, which I think sets us apart throughout Protestantism--and in some ways, gives us more with which to wrestle. Why be good if God will forgive/love us anyway? You can read the whole text wherein I talk about the Parable of the Prodigal Son and the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard: "But what if we changed the metaphor? What if instead of laboring in a vineyard, we talked about people at a party? The people who get there early get the freshest food and their choice of drinks. They get to enjoy the party for more hours than the people who stagger in late."

My second assignment was to write about vocation, so in this post, I focused on my childhood love of heroes like Martin Luther King and Harriet Tubman and with feeling like I'm not living up to my full potential: "Many of us feel that some jobs are more spiritual than others. I used to think that monks and pastors enjoy more spiritually important jobs. But now I realize that we all have the same task. For many people who will never darken the door of a church, the only face of Christ they will see will be the face of Christians out in the world."

My next assignment is to write about the daily spiritual practices of Martin Luther and what they might mean for modern people. When that's posted, of course, I'll link here.

My life has taken me to many places which would surprise my younger self. Imagine my sneering adolescent self, sunk deep in her Nietzsche phase, imagine how shocked she would be to discover that decades later, she would be an official ELCA blogger. It makes me wonder what to expect for the next 20 years--what surprises are in store?

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