Friday, January 29, 2016

Free Shipping Fridays: Hip Hop Remixes

Dear Readers,

A few weeks ago, I said I had run out of clever ways to say, "Here's a cool website. Enjoy!"

Shortly after hitting the publish button, I saw the title--"A Hunger for Reconciliation"--and thought, "Of course! Take-out food! Dang, that would have been quite punny. Oh, well I'll use it another time."

That other time is here, friends, and it's a doozy. Get some cash out your wallet, shuffle to the door, and pay up. 'Cause today's offering on your doorstep is from Chang's Pizza and Tacos, and it is delicious. Some of my favorite meals, from Hip Hop dished up with a Public Radio sauce to a crunchy snack of hilarious observations about white people, spiced with solid rhymes. 

Bon Appetit!

TJ Reynolds' newest album remixes classic NPR jingles with sick beats:

More about the multi-ethnic, stereotype-breaking artist:

One of his other albums, which features a Les Miz mashup:

Flight of the Conchords--they're the mother flipping' Rhymenoceros and Hiphopopotamus: 

Two of my favorite android/sci-fi obsessed/political activists--Janelle Monae and JJ DOOM (Jneiro Jarel/MF DOOM)--

Classic Janelle Monae, which I first heard on an episode of Stargate Universe (because I'm that nerdy and she's that awesome):

Janeiro Jarel's solo electronica android love song:

JJ DOOM's Keys to the Kuffs, including thoughts on GMOs and hand washing (I'm not even joking):

Weird Al's cover of Ridin' (Dirty), which even Chamillionaire loved:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

To the Woman I Love (a once-in-a-blue-moon post from Kennan)

Dear friend, wife, mother, M. Div. student, homemaker, professional campus minister, sister-in-Christ, and partner . . . or to put it more succinctly . . .

Dear Chandra,

I know that I don't often make appearances on social media. That is more your cup of tea. But today, I want to chime in to speak up on your behalf. Not because you need my wisdom - you have much wisdom of your own. Not because you need my protection - you are no wilting violet. Not because you need my blessing - you already have that. Because I want to encourage you and to do it publicly. 

I am proud to be your husband. It is no small task to be entrusted with the heart of a woman like you. I do not claim to lead perfectly (or even well at times), but God is gracious and is using you mightily in many different ways. I daily seek to be worthy of the headship that has been entrusted to me. 

You inhabit all of the roles listed above (and many more) with a grace that is clearly Spirit-given. You see the "have-nots" of the world and use your privilege to enter their suffering with Christ's love. You are not content with party lines and seek to make scripture your one constant. You love me in spite of my sinful brokenness and have never wavered in the commitment that you made to God to be my helpmate. Since before their births, our daughters have experienced the love of God firsthand through your actions.

You have spent the last decade ministering to graduate students through qualifying exams, dissertation defenses, bar preparation, marriage, divorce, death of a spouse, birth of a child, and crises of faith, vocation, and health. All of that care was extended to others even as you mourned the loss of our church, your job, our first child, your father, our city, and innumerable other "little" things that felt like death by a thousand paper cuts. Through it all, you have pointed others and yourself to the one true source of hope - the cross.

You have spent years (and will spend more) toiling toward a degree that will not gain you a pay raise, a better job, or prestige. You have invested yourself because you want to know God more and to minister to His world more effectively. Your treasure is truly in heaven.

You are an amazing person. I would be blessed just to know you and am infinitely more so to be your husband. Thank you for your love, your service, your sacrifice, and your humor. You are one of a kind. I am always-

Yours in Christ,

To Those Who Have an Opinion

Dear Outspoken Friends with Whom I Agree Heartily,

I am so grateful for your passion and your well thought-out words. I am truly blessed to know you and to stand alongside you as we try to speak gracious truth and respect the imago dei in each of us. It's wearying being front and center, and it is a sweet reminder that even if I step back from the conflict every once in awhile, God is at work, and others will continue to speak up. Sometimes it feels like we're in a losing battle, and I have to wonder (especially on social media) exactly how much badgering and bullying it's wise to take. But I guess we seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and try to push on in wisdom and in faith. It is an honor to stand with you, dear ones.

With Much Love,

Dear Outspoken Friends with Whom I Mostly Disagree,

I am so grateful for your passion and well thought-out words. I am truly blessed to know you and to have respectful dialog with you as we try to speak gracious truth and respect the imago dei in each of us. It's wearying being front and center, and I respect your willingness to stand up for what you believe. I need your diverse opinions. I need to be challenged and shaped by you, to have other voices in my life who think so much differently than I do. I am not always right, and I am (mostly) willing to admit it. I am so glad that although we may be on opposite sides of an issue, we stand together against badgering and bullying. In our friendship, I will continue to seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and push on in wisdom and in faith. It is an honor to know you, dear ones.

With a Grateful Heart,

Dear Trolls,

I am so grateful for the ministry of the Holy Spirit that helps me keep my temper and pray for you--I will try to respect the imago dei in each of us. You do have an opinion, all right, and it is a mighty high opinion of yourselves. Sometimes I wonder why I keep you in my social media circles or even try to engage you when I see you in person. I would respect your willingness to stand up for what you believe, but I think what you mostly believe in is your own intelligence, witticisms, and sense of rightness. It's a poor platform upon which to build your house. I am not always right, and I am willing to admit it. I do not think that you are willing to admit your failings, and that makes for poor discussions, but even worse relationships. I will continue to seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and push on in wisdom and in faith when it comes to engaging you.

With the Patience Born Only of the Spirit,
Chandra Crane

Dear Silent Friends of all Convictions and Persuasions,

I suspect that most of you are either being passionate and articulate in other arenas, or wiser than am I when it comes to matters of throwing pearls before swine. Yet, I call you to stand up, speak out, and be willing to show support for myself and others when we incur the disdain of the trolls. Because every voice matters. If I can feel that you stand alongside me--in respecting the imago dei in each of us, if not in the actual issue--I can better be humble and open to necessary correction and respectful disagreements. Sometimes I, too, need to be reminded of the sin and folly of badgering and bullying. Sometimes it feels like I'm in a losing battle, and I don't ask you so much to join me in futility, as to see if your voice added might turn the tide. I am glad to know you, and glad for your affirmation of me in so many areas. But to affirm me is not to speak against them, and if no one but those being bullied speaks out, it will surely continue. And I know you well enough to know that is not your desire. It is an honor to know you, dear ones.

With Great Affection,

Monday, January 18, 2016

To Those Who Are Leaving

Dear Disgruntled Friends,

To those who are considering leaving your church, no longer supporting a missionary, or giving up on a friendship, I'd like to share my spin on a parable. This may be blasphemous, and if so, I beg your forgiveness, as well as soliciting your gracious correction. But if you know me, I hope you'll see my heart, know that I'm mostly orthodox in my beliefs and practice, and have patience with me. Perhaps that's the entire point I'm trying to make.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, on finding one expensive pearl, departed...

because he saw that there were scratches on one side, and although the core was of great value, he could not accept any pearls that had any flaws whatsoever.

If the core of something is rotten, friends, then yes, we must in good conscience depart. If the core principles of something shift so much that we find we no longer have shared values enough to support an organization, it would be foolish and pointless to remain.

But what if the kingdom of heaven isn't, on this earth at least, perfected yet? What if the pearl of great price--God's people, grouped together in various organizations and places--still has some scratches on it? Can we dismiss it so easily? What would it look like to find that we have some disagreements--important ones, even--that need to be addressed and discussed together... yet we don't depart? What can it mean to say to our pastor or that missionary or those teachers, "I still see the good here. We still share a desire to seek God's holiness, and justice, and mercy. But I am concerned about this trend or that movement, and because I believe in this organization, I won't walk away. I'll ask questions, and pray, and strive to work alongside brothers and sisters to see change where needed, and the shoring up of Gospel truths where I may fear we are slipping."

What would that look like?

I'm not Jesus, and I don't claim that this parable is divinely inspired or inerrant. But I will say that I am, in the same way that Jesus sometimes was, being purposely oblique in expressing my views. Jesus did it because he was bringing about the kingdom of heaven, and he knew his father's will. I'm doing it because I don't want to offend, and I hope to make people think about larger issues, and also maybe because I'm a bit chicken to wade into turbulent waters. But all around me, I see people leaving, withdrawing support, and condemning people and organizations which they used to love, and it saddens me.

If the pearl in your hands is crumbling and completely eroded, then by all means--don't slip it on a string and put it around your neck. But if it's not a perfect sphere, or it's lost a little luster on one side, don't assume that there's nothing there of value. Jesus doesn't do that for us, and I don't think he wants us to do that for each other, either.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, everyone. With love,

Monday, January 11, 2016

To Whom it May Concern II

To Whom it May Concern Presents: Real Students of Genius*
(Real stuudents of geniuuuussss)

Today we salute you, Mr. Asks a Not Really a Question But a Statement in Class
(Mr. Asks a Not Really a Question But a Statement in Claaaaaassss!)

Your hand goes up. Your eyebrow raises. You take a deep breath. You've got this!
(Prepare for brilliance!)

You know the jargon, and you've had the classes. You, and you alone, have valuable insight to add to the lecture.
(Look at me I've had three semesters of Greek and Hebrew!)

The professor pauses, astounded by your brilliant insight which has never been heard or even considered before. Someone give this student a full PhD, immediately.
(You might co-teeaach the next class together!)

So enjoy the praise of the professor and the envy of the class, HumbleBrag Master. 'Cause you're a legend, and not just in your own mind.
(Mr. Asks a Not Really a Question But a Statement in Classsssssss!)

Terrible About Doing This Too
(Ms. Hypocrite Who's Worse Than Hermione Graaaangerrrr)

*shamelessly riffing on the Bud Light "Real Men of Genius" ad campaign

Friday, January 08, 2016

Free Shipping Fridays: A Hunger for Reconciliation

Dear Readers,

I'm out of clever analogies and ways of saying, "here are really great articles that I want to 'send' to you." So, here are really great articles that I want to "send" to you.... 

People are often surprised to discover that our family is in the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) denomination. They are even more surprised to discover that we're happy about that. No church/denomination is a perfect fit, but we love the devotion to the Word and prayer, emphasis on the family, and desire for reconciliation that is taught in the PCA. The last one--reconciliation--is tricky. There's a history there. But being part of a multi-ethnic church--with a black head pastor--in Jackson, MS--is not something I would trade for any of my lesser preferences possibly being met. The systemic problems of racism in our country are once again being made more known to the dominant culture. And I'm proud to say, the PCA is doing some of the work necessary to see Gospel reconciliation happen.

Dr. Sean Lucas, explaining some recent events and responses:

Pablo Mazariegos, sharing about being neither black nor white, but really Other:

Michelle Higgins, reminding the church of the unique mission of Gospel reconciliation:

And Jemar Tisby, asking tough questions about what true reconciliation should look like:

Enjoy. Be blessed. Disagree, discuss, and find God in the asking, friends. All of these authors are powerful writers, and brothers and sisters who help me in my own process of discernment and growth in this area.