Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Holy Week

You want to hear about Holy Week, huh? OK, here's a rundown:

I moved. Thus, I suffered. Not really like Jesus suffered, but it was difficult. It is very hard to remain a good Christian when dealing with idiots. My movers overcharged me and wouldn't do anything about it; my phone company has completely screwed up. It's tiring to work with people who simply don't care and/or are incompetent.

So I spent a lot of Holy Week not really in the season. I blissfully missed out on the news, so was not bombarded with 24/7 Schiavo/Jackson coverage. I think CNN has a camera permanently in her room so we can all be there when she dies. Because that's what death is all about - having millions of people watch and snarky politians and activists making an example out of you. I just watched Citizen Ruth and it's so similar! Anyway, I kept away from it except when I got an email from Christianity Today which suggested that the comparison of Terri's and Christ's sufferings is "unavoidable". Oh, that made me cringe. Come, now. Do we really want to go there? Would this be such a big story if it wasn't going down during the passion week? I wonder...

At any rate, speaking of passion, we did the passion narrative at my church on Palm Sunday and at the church I attended on Good Friday, and the thing that struck me (no pun intended) was how very little time is spent discussing the flogging of Christ and how much more focus is on his being mocked. And I thought about how the reverse is true in Mel Gibson's film. I am personally much more disturbed by people mocking God than by someone getting the shit kicked out of them. The latter we see all the time and it bothers us, yes. But the former happens probably more often and doesn't bother us...which should be a problem.

What else? I got to sing the Easter Vigil, which was fabulous. And three services on Sunday. That is tiring. Clergy work freaking hard. Choirs do too. And you know, people just don't get it. I mean, many people thanked the choir, but I wonder how many thanked the clergy. These services, even when it's all written ahead of time, are a lot of work. I even heard choir members saying that the clergy don't do much, and mocking our poor clergyman who cantors. They just don't get no respect. I'm ultra sensitive to it now (well I have always been, because of my dad, but now I'm really internalizing it).

These are such random thoughts - I am sorry I don't have a pretty narrative for you. The stuff of life really has gotten in the way this time. But I thank God every day for my beautiful new apartment, with a view of the mountains and its light-filled spaces. And this quarter I get to take 2 worship classes and Episcopalian Polity - all of which will be such fun. And my parents are coming to see me this week. Life is good.

I've got to get going - class starts today. I promise to be more regular here now that I'll be back on a schedule. Peace and blessings to you. The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!

Thoughts on your thoughts

In response to a couple of the comments:

"While it's true American Christianity has suffered as a result of the anti-intellectualism of evangelicals, I also know plenty of very effective spiritual leaders without seminary degrees. The lack of that education doesn't signify much, even if we'd prefer to have our leaders go to sem. "

I think that effective spiritual leaders without degrees are the exception, not the rule. At least I hope so. Because yesterday I got to thinking: we require all kinds of certification for our teachers in other walks of life. Would you let your child attend a school where all the teachers weren't educated in what they are teaching? Much less would an adult want to learn about something from a person without a degree in it, or at least some kind of certification. Why is it that frequently in spiritual matters do we leave our brains at the door? Why is it acceptable to not have any training and be teaching others about the most important things in life?

We wouldn't let a person teach math or science without them having some formal training in it. We wouldn't take literature from a person who'd just read a bunch of books and had their own ideas about them, nor biology from a person who'd gone walking in a park a lot of times and thus felt they understood creation. So why do we let our most important, life-changing subject - theology - be instructed by people without formal training or at least some spiritual direction from a wiser person?

I worry when someone feels qualified to found a church when he's only attended a Rick Warren seminar and done a couple online classes. This guy's a great businessman, to be sure - and perhaps that is his vocation! - but I don't think I would want him in charge of my spiritual development.

"Here's a guy who gives his parishioners the most watered-down version of God possible and a quarter of his congregation tithes! Is this God's sense of humor?"

Well, this is true, but again, I'd say it's more because of his business acumen. People are receiving valuable services from him: counseling, a place for the kids to play laser tag (that was the Easter special service for them), Krispy Kremes, etc. I could see how people would feel obliged - actually not even mind - to tithe. In fact, here's a scary thought: is it because the church is offering them so much that makes them happy, is servicing them so well, that they are willing to pay for it? Often people complain about tithing because the church doesn't "do" anything for them - the rewards of the spiritual walk are not easily seen, and frequently don't make you happy (although they do make you fulfilled). So perhaps the problem with tithing is our culture of capitalism - I pay to get something. Tithing means paying to give something...which is completely weird to our minds. I'm supposed to give money and time and my gifts and maybe I'll be more fulfilled but my life probably won't get any easier - just more busy, with more difficult choices, and I'll start looking stranger and stranger in this culture? Doesn't sound like something many people would want to buy. But the things offered by Radiant (the website is hilarious - their "commitments" and "mission" are making people happy, comfortable, etc.) are things that we all want and are willing to pay for.

I am just not sure they are what Jesus' followers are supposed to be looking for.

Monday, March 28, 2005

One more thing

One of my Fuller professors thinks that the Protestant church is indeed undergoing a big change - she thinks it won't last another century in America. If everyone goes the watered-down way of the civic megachurch, she may just turn out to be right. What is there, really, to distinguish this church from any other social institution? Especially with a pastor who blatently states, "I WANT to look like a mall!"

Could it be the end of the church as we know it? I can only hope so. Only because I want people to take God seriously enough, respect God enough, to be Christians for real, or not at all.

Did you see the NYT Magazine??

This is a great commentary: http://www.therevealer.org/archives/main_story_001819.php, much more reasoned and thorough than mine, but at any rate, here were my thoughts:

First, scary, that this is being held up as some kind of example for churches to follow. Some guy who didn't even get a seminary degree, just took a few classes, thinks he can actually lead people spiritually? Yikes. Reflects that anti-intellectualism of the church (touched upon in the article when referring to Assemblies of God) that has screwed us up so bad for a century.

The story seems to be making the irresponsible equation Christian = Republican Voter
Also Christian Success = money and numbers - it read more like a business page story than religion (which may have been the purpose)

It's kind of a tired subject - been seeing megachurch stories for 2 decades. Not sure they succeeded in squeezing any new info out of the old chestnut. Perhaps recycled it b/c of the election results?

Celebrating the success of this church (from a business perspective) makes good news, but it is bad for religion.

Where are the experts questioning this guy's credentials? It doesn't present any dissenting opinion! No Christian interviewed who says this IS NOT the way church is supposed to be. What about other denominations who try the same thing but aren't successful? Or other non-educated pastors who've failed?

For that matter, what gives this place, which for all outside appearances is just a social center, the right to call itself a Christian Church?

The reporter does ask a few good questions, but leaves them at questions - I wonder if he even asked them of his experts? All he has from experts are sound bites that support the story - but nothing of substance, just quotes repeating what he's already said.

It definitely did get a reaction from me, but not a positive one. I think a typical evangelical would be mostly pleased with the article, although it seemed to me that the pastor (successful or no) comes off looking kind of irreponsible (in his spiritual growth and education, I mean), and the church isn't really acting like a church. I doubt very many evangelicals would be proud to be associated with a church like this, although interestingly, most evangelical churches are pretty similar to this (in services offered, etc.), just not as brazen about it.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Practice makes it wonderful

Don't make your prayer a job. It's a gift. Don't make it a grim and costly ticket you must buy in order to gain admittance to the divine love -- you're already there. When you begin to exercise it's hard. You don't feel well. You don't like to sweat. Moving hurts. Everyone else is stronger and faster and looks better. You know that years of not moving have been bad for you, and now you feel like you're being punished for it. But you keep going. And soon you begin to feel different. Wonderful. Soon you love to move, even love to sweat, soon your body loves it -- it's what your body's made to do. Soon you feel strong. Soon you don't care what other people look like. Soon you don't feel guilty any more -- you're doing good things for the body God gave you, and you're being blessed every time you do them. Spiritual discipline is just like that. It can be hard at first. You can feel guilty and inadequate at first. I should have been praying and reading scripture already, you think. I don't do this right. Other people do it better. But prayer's what you're created to do. You are naturally good at it -- God made you that way. Soon you don't care what other people do, how long they've been doing it, whether they're better at it than you are. Soon you just love it for its own sake. Soon you hardly remember what made you feel guilty about it. If you have trouble with the word "discipline," you won't later on -- not after you get going in a routine that blesses you. In the meantime, use the word "practice." It's the same thing.
Copyright © 2005 Barbara Crafton - http://www.geraniumfarm.org

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Let Him Kiss Me With the Kisses of His Mouth!

Here is my book report (well actually chapter report) on the Song of Songs. I personally wasn't bowled over by it (and J thought it was simply terrible) but I got an "A" anyway.

In his enlightening book, The Bible in History: How the Texts Have Shaped the Times, David W. Kling spends a chapter discussing the Song of Songs. This may seem strange to us, as the church today rarely reads or teaches from this book: growing up, I got the sense that it was sort of a “dirty” book that was included in the Bible by accident. Kling illumines the history of the Song, helping the modern reader to see the long, rich traditions associated with it and the way that interpretation through the centuries has been variously influenced by “views of sexuality and the self, hermeneutic assumptions…, theological emphases and conditions in the church, and socio-economic circumstances.”[1]
The Song has always been a very popular book in the canon, particularly with monastic communities. Only in the last century or so has it fallen out of regular use in liturgy and been relegated to the pre-marital aisle of the Christian bookstore. There have been two basic approaches to its reading: literal and allegorical. The latter is older, originating with Origen in the middle of the third century ce, and has been upheld by Jewish and Christian scholars alike, who interpret the book as a metaphor for the love of God for His people or His church, respectively. Nowadays, the book is nearly universally seen as literal, which is due largely to our modern exegetical practices (we will deal critically with this assumption below). The chapter is a lesson on what happens when exegetes bring their own theological assumptions and cultural ethos to the text they study.
Kling briefly explains the various reasons scholars have given to explain the Song’s fascination to the monastic community, and why they hold to the allegorical viewpoint: everything from their unhealthy sexual repression to modern theories suggesting that monks read it as a story between themselves and Jesus to satisfy homoerotic desires. A compelling explanation is offered by Roland Murphy in his 1990 commentary: the allegory “facilitated the construction of a Christian worldview,”[2] helping early scholars bridge the gap between the Old Testament and the New by testifying to God’s immense love for humankind, to be fulfilled by the Christ event.
Kling spends the rest of the chapter on a history of the interpretation of the Song. He begins with Origen, father of the allegorical interpretation. Origen was heavily influenced by Plato, and brings his beliefs to the text when doing exegesis: wanting to describe the “soul’s enlightenment to the divine mysteries,”[3] he found portions of the text which supported his argument. Origen’s five-step allegorical explanation of the book was highly influential for many centuries. Interestingly, he also touched on the idea of the Song as a wedding drama, a concept more fully explored later in history.
The Latin fathers and later medieval scholars expanded on Origen’s concept, keeping the allegorical interpretation. They used the Song to support their own convictions about the ideal state of virginity, the holiness of Mary, the institution of baptism, and various disputed church doctrines. Throughout, Origen’s remained the seminal interpretation in the West from the 5th – 11th centuries.
The rise of monasticism, coupled with Europe’s rise out of the Dark Ages (with attendant prosperity, population growth, rise of cities, etc.), led to new ways of expanding upon Origen’s commentary. Origen had focused on knowledge of and communion with God through intellect, but monastics (starting with Pope Gregory I) preferred to know God through the heart, and began to see the loving elements of the Song as the desire of the soul to commune with God (keeping the allegorical framework of God and human, not man and woman).
This interpretation was most profoundly developed by Bernard of Clairvaux, an early 12th century mystic who is a hero of that tradition as well as much beloved by everyone from Martin Luther to the Puritans to Popes and seekers. Bernard enjoyed a happy childhood, and at age 21 he decided to enter the relatively new Cistercian order, a group devoted to regaining the pure Benedictine Rule of Life with an extremely ascetic way of life. His popularity is attested by the fact that he entered not only with his family (father, uncles, brothers) but also brought in 30 friends. He remained a very effective recruiter for the order throughout his life, and was also quite influential in the political arena of his day.
The Cistercians were unique in that they only admitted adults, many of whom had already been married or had experienced love. This brought a whole new dynamic into the previously entirely celibate – and sexually ignorant – monastic system. The Song of Songs worked well for Bernard as a teaching tool, as his monks could understand the expressions of desire within it from firsthand experience. Thus, Bernard wrote 86 sermons on the Song over an 18-year period, which influenced opinion of the book for the next 400 years.
Bernard’s exegesis was quite new, in that he added personal passion to his work: his own stories, thoughts, and life experiences. He was steeped in Scripture and also the Greek Neoplatonic mystical tradition.[4] He studied the Song, but not with scholastic method – rather, he used it as a way to explain his own mystical ideas about the soul’s ascent to God. For this, many call him the last of the fathers, for after his work the study of Scripture became much more rigorously academic and would not have allowed for Bernard’s mystical contemplation.
In Bernard’s work, the Song is seen as a description of the encounter of the human soul with the living God. The Scripture is a veil, adaptable to human understanding, hiding a deep spiritual experience. His sermons use the Song to describe human desire for God, mystical ascent, Imago Dei, free will, the incarnation, and God’s deep, abiding love for us. Bernard, Kling attests, created a “new genre in exegesis”[5] by applying the Scripture to the life situation of those in his day. This caught on and was quite popular through the 16th century.
While spending the bulk of the chapter on Bernard, Kling goes on to briefly overview the reformer’s and present-day scholar’s thoughts on the Song. The Protestants, Kling points out, were adamant about the literal interpretation of Scripture – except when it came to the Song. Luther added some historical thought to the exegesis, removing the mystical elements. In the 17-18th centuries, there were dueling interpretations between Catholics (whose scholars were celibate) supporting the mystical views of Bernard, and Protestants who, personally experiencing the intimacies of marriage, knew quite surely that human marriage couldn’t hold a candle to God’s love (this makes one wonder about their marital health!). At the end of the 18th century, the idea of the Song as a dramatic poem or wedding text, first proposed by Origen, caught on, due largely to the rise of modern literary theory.
In the 20th century, the prevailing scholarship has followed the historical-critical method, which has confirmed the Song as a collection of romantic poems, celebrating and affirming married love. The first half of the century saw the rise of an interesting cultic interpretation having to do with fertility gods and goddesses in ancient Near Eastern religion, but that has largely been discounted. Recent feminist thought has provoked new discussion about the authorship of the book, and the equality between the sexes (including the woman frequently being the instigator of intimate encounters).
In conclusion, Kling sums up that from the 3-19th centuries, the allegorical tradition held sway, and it was really only in the last 100 years that the literal interpretation has been the dominant thought. He closes by asking some tough questions about our methods of exegesis: can we have it both ways: giving credit to the historical-critical method’s literal interpretation while also appreciating the less exegetically sound allegorical view? Did God actually inspire Origen and Bernard to add to our understanding of the Song? Must we always defend every interpretation only from the text itself, or can current ideas inform the reading of a text as well? Kling leaves the questions open-ended, giving the reader rich food for thought.
The main point that Kling is making throughout this chapter is that we must examine our assumptions about poor standards of exegesis. We automatically assume that to start with a theology we want to prove, like Origen, is irresponsible. Or to bring more of our own experience to the text than may actually be warranted, as Bernard was wont to do, is not appropriate. It is considered especially bad form to use Scripture to uphold our own beliefs when both sides of an argument can do so, as in an example Kling gives of Augustine and the Donatists.[6]
And yet, Kling points out the incredible popularity of both Origen and Bernard’s interpretations – and how they kept the church, and monastics especially, interested in the Song of Songs for centuries. In the 20th century, the Song has lost its mysterious meaning, leading to its general disuse. Could it be that in fact Origen and Bernard had hit upon something that we should reconsider in our exegetical practice? Perhaps our modern methods are inadequate to deal with the artistic writings of the Bible, or we must find ways to use them while emphasizing, not losing, the metaphor and poetry of certain Scriptures (as has been done with some success in exegeting Revelation, for instance).
(At any rate, the majority of modern exegesis, at least in the common preacher’s use, seems to draw wildly from experience, modern events, social circumstances – pretty much everything except the text itself. So perhaps we have not lost the tradition of Bernard after all.)
A major problem with Kling’s overview is that he does not discuss Jewish interpretation of the Song in any detail (though he mentions it in passing). While we can appreciate that he is attempting to cover the Church’s history of exegesis, it seems sloppy to ignore the Jewish roots of Old Testament documents in particular.
It is also important for us to consider the Protestants’ interpretation of the Song as allegorical when they insist on literal interpretation of everything else in Scripture. Clearly the carnal lusts described in the book did not fit their view of proper human relations, so they relaxed their rules just this once. As Kling makes clear, this is a rather obvious mistake – and one that we continue to make today. For though we now accept the literal reading of the book, we basically ignore it or are even ashamed of it.
The 20th century interpretation of the book describing married love is interesting for two reasons: one, it never says the lovers are married (as Kling points out), and two, the Song clearly describes something more akin to initial infatuation than the lifelong commitment necessary for a healthy marriage of many years. Perhaps this is why the Song regularly shows up in pre-marital counseling and books, but is rarely suggested for couples that have been together a long time.
I once believed that the allegorical interpretation of the Song of Songs – whether one sees it as between God and the Church or God and the individual – was an unfortunate by-product of sexual repression. I see now that it is actually quite a lovely way of looking at it, if not entirely exegetically responsible. It gives everyone the ability to profit from the book, not just those in the throes of romantic desire.
I am also very intrigued by the feminist thoughts that Kling touches upon at the end of the chapter, particularly the notion of Phyllis Trible that the allegory “redeems a love story…gone awry” in the creation and fall of humans. When cursed, Eve is told she will long for her husband – but this is reversed when the woman in the Song says, “for me is his desire.” The love in the Song is a sharing between equal partners: “males are neither aggressors nor abuses, and females are neither passive objects nor victims.”[7] This is a beautiful way to teach couples about pure love for one another, and can also instruct the church community as a whole about respecting the dignity of all persons. Origen and Bernard saw the book’s human-to-human desire as a model for the desire of humans for God and God for humans. We can then carry the metaphor a step further, turning the model back again – the love of God exemplified in the Song instructs our love for each other.
Bernard’s idea of the Christian soul’s ascent to God may feel a little bit “out there,” but it is helpful for lifelong disciples of Christ who wish to find a deeper relationship with God (this is supported by the current popularity of the ancient practice of Lectio Divina, which Kling uses as the model for and example of Bernard’s teaching). The Song gives the modern-day pilgrim a description of, and great hope for, the joys of mystical connection with God.
All of this is to say that the allegorical tradition holds great truth for us, even though it does not agree with our modern exegetical standards. For it allows Christians to once again embrace the book, and teachers to find within it universally applicable teaching. It recaptures the Song’s accessibility for the modern church as a community, as well as individual members. And perhaps most importantly, it affirms the Song’s rightful place in the canon of Scripture as a document given by God to reveal Himself further to humankind.

[1] Kling, David W. The Bible in History: How the Texts Have Shaped the Times (Oxford University Press, 2004), 116.
[2] Ibid, 88.
[3] Ibid, 90.
[4] Ibid, 102.
[5] Ibid, 112.
[6] Ibid, 93.
[7] Ibid, 116.

Diary of a Bored White Woman

Okay, tonight you're going to get some real-time classroom action. I'm in the killer giant lecture class that meets three times a quarter (oh the horror) and we are subjected to some person telling us some large amount of information that we usually do not care about. In the 6 times I've had this three hour class, I would say maybe 2 hours of it has actually been interesting. Maybe 3.
It's sad because I so thoroughly enjoy my other classes. This one is so beneath my degree and my school.
Today was my last day of Exegesis and Theology and Art. I gave, with a brilliant partner, a great presentation on the religious imagination of Andy Warhol. We could have gone on for hours - and the class was really into it too. I was especially touched by someone who I'd never spoken with coming up to tell me what a great speaker I am. Bodes well for preaching!
And the last day of Exegesis...I nearly cried. That class has been everything I hoped graduate school would be. And it wasn't really the content, although I definitely grasped the subject better than in most classes. It was the privilege of sitting every day in the presence of this giant in the field, who would spend the majority of the class time telling us stories. It was so incredible. I was honored to be there every day.
Anyway after this super-high day of wonderful class I am listening to someone give me the Bowen model of...something psychological. Man. I don’t' know if I can deal with the counseling part of being a pastor. It's one of the things that keeps me from wanting to just be a parish priest. I find this so completely boring. Can't I outsource the counseling and just preach?
I'm going to see about working on my final paper for this class now. Around me, there is one person reading a magazine (amusingly, behind a notebook like it's porn or something), several people reading other books, several playing computer games (God bless the laptop), and actually quite a few more than usual who seem to be paying attention. Even taking notes. Yikes.
Oh, wait, no, that guy is doing his Greek workbook, not taking notes.
OK, on to the paper now.
I'm back. The paper is exhausting. It's a "family autobiography". Geezu, I've been through all this in therapy HOW many times? I know, it should be easy. But it's tiring. This is why changing therapists sucks. You just want someone to know you. Maybe I can just hand over this blog to my next therapist.
It's been all of 18 minutes since I started this little tome. And went off to write a few paragraphs and came back. Ay yi yi!
Isn't this kind of an interesting social experiment? Those of you who are teachers, be warned - it can be soooo painful if you are not interesting. I know, it's really me, not the teacher with the problem here. And yet. Sometimes you are listening to someone and you really would rather pull out your hair (I pull out my neck hairs, usually).
Tomorrow is my last new testament class. And that's it. Classes over for my second quarter. They were so good (except this one). I loved New Testament - the teacher, my first lady teacher, was very knowledgeable - you could throw anything at her and she could speak to it. And she'd give us an hour of her time every Tuesday to talk about whatever.
Oh, wow, not only are my classes nearly over, but I am almost done with all my work. I got another paper back today (I should post it - it's about Song of Songs), with a nice A. At this point, after turning in the Warhol thing today, I am down to 1 final (multiple choice), 1 paper (7-10 pages exegesis of 1 John 3:1-10 - I know, it's a killer passage, I might reconsider), and then this dumb class - the family autobiography and reactions to my small group sessions (which we did in two Saturdays instead of overall 10 weeks).
Plus they turned off my DSL. We called to tell them that on March 21 we want to switch to our new phone service at the new apartment. So they turned off our DSL on March 1. Nice. Which means that it's very hard for me to get online and post things like this and my papers. Because I am dealing with...get this...DIALUP. Holy shit. How did I ever deal with this? I can't remember life before DSL and I frankly don't want to. It was a dark, dark time.
Don't you just love the people who blatantly sleep in class? I am completely unable to do that. The natives are getting restless in here. There is rustling of papers. There is some talking. There are many blank stares. I think I will spend the last hour of class (yes, this class goes until 10, and I've been in class since 1) playing Solitaire. I kind of wish I had another game. I used to have a casino game but I got rid of it. That would be ironic, playing the slots during seminary class.
Just kill me now.
He's one of these who has a powerpoint, which he passes out, then he proceeds to read the slides. People, don't read the slides. I can read the damn slides for myself. I had a nice glass of wine before I came to class: a 2002 Sterling Vintner's Selection Central Coast Cab. It was a very cabby cab. Do you know what that means? Maybe a little too cabby. But if you like cab, a decent choice. I paid $8.50 for a glass. I'll bet the bottle doesn't cost much more at Beverages & More. But I only paid $1.95 for a burger, so dinner was still under $15 with tip.
Anyway I discovered early on that a glass of wine helps this class tremendously. Takes the edge off, as my neighbor says. He's playing games on his phone. The guy next to him stopped taking notes and is sleeping, and oh, shit, we have to talk to the people at our tables! I better pay attention to the topic.
Ha ha! He's not sleeping, he's playing games too! He's an old man and even HE'S bored!!
Well I got to sit with my own group and talk. Luckily we didn't talk much about the assigned topic. None of us, except the person who's had the speaker's class on the same topic, is enjoying this at all. Mr. Old Sleepy Game-Player Man is gone. My friend Pete seems to be able to write his paper now (he and I discussed at the break our inability to write papers while this speaker is yammering in our ears). That's my shout-out to Pete since he's a reader. : )
I'm hitting critical exhaustion. The headache begins. Oh, this is one of those classes in which attendance counts. And you have to sign something saying how much of each class you attended. Just in case you were wondering why so many people (100+) would sit through this excruciating experience. That and it is a required class (a 3-quarter long requirement!) for MDivs, and it's an easy A if you can take the lectures, so we all kind of band together and in solidarity we face the pain. Perhaps this is some kind of test from God. I have a friend here who thinks everything is a test from God. Can't say I can deal with living life that way - I guess tests are too negative. And give the impression you could fail. I don't think you can. That's why I'm studying I John 3:1-10! Ha ha!
Seriously, seriously, this is the most horrid thing ever. This is NOT what I came to grad school for.
Well he said something useful: if a pastor is asked to leave a church, it is almost never because of preaching or theology, it is because of emotional issues. Churches are like little family systems. With the attendant neuroses. I can tell that there is something good going on, my brain is just simply mush at the moment, and there's too much jargon for me. It's much too much for 9:24 p.m.
And who knows when this will get posted - I have to go home and collapse tonight and be back here at 8 am and then I'm even taking the day off to work on the exegesis paper so there won't be much time for DIALING UP and loading this into blogger.
Hey if anyone knows any outstanding commentary on I John I am all ears.
I have won solitaire three times in a row. I have been playing for several weeks (sometimes my attention needs the help) and never won once, now I've won 3 times. I should go to Vegas after this. I should go right now.
So basically I'm learning that theology is pretty much never the reason that churches split. It's because there is an emotional dynamic that needs to be satisfied - people can't deal with conflict directly and therefore need to split.
OK, I think he's going to go until 9:50. We usually get some grace and get out early (the class starts at 6:30 after all). But this dude ain't slowing down. It's 9:29. I am not sensing relief in my immediate future.
This reminds me of an illustration that my husband uses to help me deal with my insane fear of eternity (remind me to go off on that sometime): time moves so painfully slowly in classes like this and so unnervingly quickly in classes like my others. The fear is that the time in eternity will be more like the former. I try to think of it like the latter. Like when you go to Disneyland and you don't wear a watch (because that's part of the rules at Disneyland) and before you know it your 14 hours are up and the park is closing. Time really can fly - or actually, it's more like time just stops. It's inconsequential. It's happened during great movies, great conversations. But it's never long enough. And I suppose when it's eternity, it may finally be long enough. Is it possible for you to want something to go on really forever? I don't have anything on earth that I can think of (though I can think of things that I'd like to go for a really long time) but I'll bet God has something up His sleeve.
Now we're talking about the problems churches put upon pastor's families. This have I lived. It's part of why I fear being a pastor and also why I know it's doable. Without kids. And in a healthy church.
I think this has gotten long. And as an experiment in student thought and experience it's probably lost its luster. I wonder what our psychologist speaker would make of it. Maybe I'll email it to him.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Begging your pardon

I ask for patience as I am up to my ears in papers and research. I will post anything I find that is interesting, or heck, whatever I write that seems interesting too. In the meantime, here, read Bill Moyers:

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Lame-Ass Post

Hello, kids, I am so busy I haven't time for a real post but I figured as long as I'm sitting here at work I'd share with you some of the stuff I'm reading.

A great article today in the Revealer by a Christian woman who went to work for - gasp! - an NPR station!

Here's another revealer story about the Passion: http://www.therevealer.org/archives/timeless_001711.php
And the Godspy article that prompted it:

I'm writing a paper/presentation about Andy Warhol's spiritual side and I really dug this article:

And at the moment I'm listening to two of my favorite (unsigned) singers, who I am privileged to have as friends:
Mike Barnet http://www.mikebarnetmusic.com/
Chris Paul Overall http://www.chrispauloverall.com/

Check 'em out, download some mp3's. These guys deserve attention. Peace.