04 February 2010

Know your limits

PhotobucketToday's post is named in honor of an appliance I didn't even know existed until I saw it in a shop window yesterday here in Elektrostal--a digital consumer breathalyzer that you can buy for 1390 rubles, about $47. On the bottom of the package, it says "Know your limits."

Somewhere I didn't know my limits; this is my third day with a mysterious backache, and I'm behind in my e-mail correspondence, writing assignments, and ... sleep.

Who else doesn't know their limits? Today's New York Times reports that China no longer takes the USA's scolding about inflated currency values seriously, preferring turnabout: it's China's turn to scold the USA about fiscal discipline. (Roger Cohen projects the US/China correlation out to 2040. And Michael Schwartz traces the limits of American power in Iraq.)

"Limits" can also be boundaries, as in "city limits." The advice, "Know your boundaries," can at first sound like plain good sense. Don't let someone trespass, don't get enmeshed in someone else's boundaries (and thereby get overextended), and so on. For our churches and meetings to be hospitable, they too need to know their "limits," their boundaries--to be honest about what we expect from members and guests, just as a good host extends extravagant hospitality without surrendering a decent stewardship of the community's identity.

But passionate love ruins all that common sense. In love we become vulnerable, we lower our barriers, and we risk everything. Jesus offered himself in love for each and every one of us, including our enemies. Maybe "knowing my limits" means reminding myself that I'm not a messiah, but also keeping hold of a golden thread of possibility that, when God calls, I may be required to drop my limits and give extravagantly.

(Here I'm borrowing again, by memory, from Sebastian Moore's book The Inner Loneliness.)

At 1:40 a.m., A limited number of links:

Speaking of identity, how crucial is "open worship" to Friends' identity? I have strong feelings about this, but I'll save those for another time. Here's a recent discussion on quakerquaker's forum site.

Adam Federman, Columbia Journalism Review, "Islands of press freedom in a country of control." (And Novaya Gazeta is back online after a distributed denial of service attack. Their lifeboat during the outage: their livejournal blog.)

For Russian speakers: A BBC discussion on "what kinds of war are just?" (Thank you, Sasha Gorbenko.)

Alice Yaxley: "Climate change--do not be afraid."

John Perkins, under whom I worked in Mississippi in the summer of 1975 (35 years ago?!), is scheduled to speak at George Fox University's Woolman Peacemaking Forum, February 10-11. If you go, please take notes for me!! (Some notes here from the last time I saw John.)

A DemocracyNow interview on the work of Christian Peacemakers. (Did Art Gish's photo save Peggy Gish's life?)

William G. Ross of Samford University reviews the controversy around U.S. President Obama's criticism of the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. Ross provides a helpful summary of previous presidential comments on Supreme Court decisions they didn't like.

Steve Fuller looks at Prodigal Ministries and offers a more nuanced look at homosexuality and its discontents.

Mondoweiss ("The war of ideas in the Middle East") goes off on a slight tangent with two commentaries on the late J.D. Salinger: "Why did Salinger withdraw?" and "Even in Russian, Salinger changed my life."

Who knew toothbrushes could be so dangerous? Not Josefina....

Lazy Lester plays Slim Harpo's classic "Baby Scratch My Back."

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