School Daze: August 2005

"I hate it already," my son said after negotiating the annual schedule screw-up a few days before school started. "I hate it already," I thought a week later as I affixed my signature to the requisite stack of papers. (You can always tell how asinine an organization is by how many papers are required to cover its ass.)

"It's just that nobody cares," my son said, his voice weary from trying to figure out how to meet the school's two-driver parking permit requirement. He lives in the sticks, has a 6:40 am statistics class and leaves school at lunch to go help people with their computers. Picking up another piece of paper I stare dismally at the list of school committees. Should I volunteer for any of these? "Yeah," says my husband. "Volunteer for the 'Parking Permit Liberation Front.'" I write it on the page and affix my signature.

The really horrific thing is that they DO care. Tromping through Back-to-School night I saw nothing but dedicated teachers who loved their subjects, want to help kids be successful and who are fighting their own particular battles through a morass of rules and requirements. Do you get the sense that we are getting strangled by those very regulations we've created to help us? Can Jesus save us from bureaucracy?

"We must have a care that we never allow rules to paralyze the claims of love." --William Barclay in The Gospel of Mark


I figured I understood the message of THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES without having to read it. People give and receive love in different ways--a no brainer. But when I finally read Gary Chapman's book on how to express heartfelt commitment to your mate, I understood why it's been a bestseller for ten years. The concept is simple, brilliant, easily accessible and potentially transformative for many different kinds of relationships. Numerous spin-offs have followed the initial publication: FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES FOR CHILDREN, FOR TEENS, FOR SINGLES, A JOURNAL, etc. I've bought several copies to pass around. $14 paperback.

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well." --Tommy - age 6

The co-creative study of The Gospel of John will begin at The Word Shop on September 20. What is a "co-creative study?" It is a small group using contemplative, imaginative, creative and artistic methods to converse with God and each other. A grant from NEW HORIZONS REALTY--whose owner is one of the most generous people I know--has provided field journals for this excursion. Tuesdays from 11:30 to 1:00. Tell me that you want to come.

Driving down 17th Avenue, I spotted a billboard in front of Harbor Light Church, which read, "If you're looking for a sign from God, this is it."

I've sold HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION numerous times, but have never read it. Thomas Cahill's theme, which I've picked up by osmosis, is that while Europe was being trashed in the Dark Ages, Irish monasteries were collecting and saving the world's literary treasures. Meanwhile, on the home front, our forum for church librarians did not draw a single person. No doubles either. I heard that one church had boxed their library up into the attic (highly useful)! Another's was a "dusty corner that no one was in charge of." Many of the churches that we called had no librarian or library at all.

One day, while two women were squatting on our floor rummaging through the $1 mysteries, I realized that we were the last remaining used bookstore between Santa Cruz and Watsonville. The books continue to flood in. It may be a long siege.

I'm halfway through TALES OF THE HASIDIM by Martin Buber. These stories from the Jewish charismatic period of the late 1700s read surprisingly similarly to the Desert Fathers or even some Zen stories. Interesting, occasionally bizarre, and often life-giving, the stories reveal the quest for the divine presence and for turning stony hearts toward God. Here's an example:

"Rabbi Shelomo asked: 'What is the worst thing the Evil Urge can achieve?' And he answered: 'To make man forget that he is the son of a king.'"

ALL HANDS ON DECK: You can pick up a bag of books for $5 at our Deck Sale the first few weeks in September. Books in, books out. If we don't bail out some of them, the ship will sink.

Don't Forget.

Alliee +