Thursday, May 31, 2007

Followup on Ordination Craziness

I wanted to followup since the comment thread on the ordination post (couple days ago) has gotten quite long. So here's some stuff that came up with my spiritual director yesterday.

While I agree that passivity is not our calling, I'm not being passive. I am waiting on God. That's quite different. I am praying through and being formed by this process.

I find that each time I go through this cycle (gifts recognized, process started, doors slammed) I change, and I believe that each time God is forming me into the kind of priest God wants me to be. I am certainly being humbled. I have learned to trust on a much deeper level (with the occasional slip up such as when I got jealous of my classmate).

The point is that I really trust the process, and I really trust the Church to be God's representative on earth. So I don't mind submitting to the process, however long it takes, and I find that this journey is molding me, and I believe making me into a priestly person more and more. I would have been such a different priest had I gone through at any other time, and I will be different if it takes another 10 years.

It has become far from a bunch of hoops to jump through (I told her that they've removed the hoops entirely! I can't find a hoop to jump through anymore!) and really become a long journey of stepping forward each day in faith, thrilled that my gifts are used as they are right now, and knowing that God has wonderful plans for the future.

[I'm not so much a "God has a wonderful plan for my life" kind of believer, but more one who trusts that if I find a place in God's story, the overarching plan, I will do well by my Lord.]

So, all this is to say that I really want to allow this process to continue as it is. I absolutely do not want to circumvent it by taking myself to the bishop. That is not appropriate. And in the meantime I am not sitting here doing nothing, I am learning tons about myself and about my gifts and about the Church and about my place in the Kingdom. Submission may be a dirty word in a lot of contexts, but here I truly believe that it is helping me become a better disciple, and perhaps someday a better priest.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

One more thing

I'm hungry. It's so weird - we are so poor right now. I just emptied our savings account to pay this month's bills. I don't know how we're paying next month's. Just hoping that the money from the insurance for my fall comes in, I guess. And we have the vacation coming up. But right now, I kid you not, we are actually living on like less than nothing. We haven't bought groceries in 2 weeks. I miss fresh food soooo much. I am so sick of pasta and beans. Carbs and protein - that's all you can eat when you haven't got money.

What's weird about our hovering near the red ink is that in 3 months, we're gonna have more than plenty to live on. When the fall starts, J will be teaching 7 classes, at 3 grand a class, over 4 months. That's not a bad income. Plus there's a fine chance that I will be working part-time for my favorite prof. But right now, we are living on tunafish on moldy bread (trying to scrape off the mold...and the tuna's not even albacore! oh the horror! - hey gimme a break, I'm a foodie).

I'm making a list already of the many foods I am going to buy when we have money again. Oh, I'm dreaming of all kinds of fresh produce, and FISH! And I'm dreaming of getting glucosomine so my joints will stop aching. And good wine again. So many wonderful things.

It hasn't been so bad, I guess. And of course, I know I'm eating much better than most of the world when I at least get some protein or a meal at all. Even if it is a hot dog (incidentally, we bought "fearless franks" from Niman Ranch and they were quite delicious w/Amy's chili on top). See, we know how to make the cheapo stuff work. I mean, I took the tongol tuna and added 2 kinds of mustard, capers, and sundried tomatoes - that was yummy. And last night I added frozen meatless balls to the tomatoes and some oil (all things that were languishing in the fridge) to my spaghetti. Incidentally, J was quite jealous of how good my concoction smelled, and I got full before I finished my portion.

So I haven't much to complain about. We even got one fantastic meal this week when El Cholo (my fave local Mexican restaurant) hosted us b/c I'd complained that the food sucked last time. They bought us a $75 dinner, including a lot of booze, amazing fajitas, guacamole, the works. And the best part was that we ate off it for 3 meals. That was definitely a little gift of God, I think. I did get some nice veggies there.

But yeah, it will be good when I can eat something fresh and green again. I think we'll both be perkier, too. We're so lethargic right now. I'm trying to get outside more to at least liven up that way. I've had some completely lovely walks - we're having simply perfect weather. And who knows? Maybe I'll even shed a pound or two. Although I'm not holding my breath, since cheap food doesn't tend to be healthy! (hot dogs, spaghetti, bean burritos - not exactly the South Beach Diet)

OK, I don't know why I felt the need to post this, except that I'm just trying to get my mind off how hungry I am. Hey friends who read this! How about doing the nicest thing ever and taking me out for a salad?

I promise to pay you back many times over in my gratitude and, if you like, in 3 months!


Sorry, my friends, but it's that time again when I'm too busy to write. I have many things to write, but a frustratingly tiny amount of time (or energy, usually) to devote to this blog.

But I do want to say that I recently read a bunch of articles on various contextual theologies for my history class (liberation, black, post-colonial feminist, Dalit, queer/gay and lesbian, etc.) and among many provocative bits in them, I found one in particular to be quite compelling. The queer theology article suggested that since being "queer" means always being beyond labels or norms as defined by human beings (my prof said it is living in chaos, though I'm not entirely sure that is what is meant), that means Jesus is, ultimately, queer (in that sense, not gay).

I found this to be quite interesting. If we are truly to be living God's way, and if we believe that way is fundamentally opposed to human ways of doing things (which I'm not sure it is, but let's be Barthian for a moment), then what we are doing when we live as Christians is embracing a queer way of life. Queer in regards to human norms and definitions - but completely correct (and, I would venture, non-chaotic) according to God's.

What do you all think about that? Thought this might leave you something to think about while I'm off working on finals. Wish me luck! :)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ordination Craziness

So if I'm trying to listen to the Spirit through people, here's what I've been told in the very recent past:

Some person (can't remember who now): Can’t you make your own appointment with the bishop? He needs to know who you are!

Person at church, after last sermon (the challenge to emptiness): You sure have the right calling!

Preaching TA: what is going on with your being ordained? You should be doing this. You should be serving the church with this gift.

Internship supervisor/Rector of my current church: You have said things that I will never forget. The Spirit has spoken through you. I know it. And I believe your ordination has already begun. It's already happening - or even has happened. God's ordaining you.
So do you need the title? Do you need the institution to validate what we all see God is doing/has done? Does the title open doors...or does God?

So I leave that meeting (this morning) feeling pretty great. What do I need institutional ordination for? I've got God to ordain me! I'll be able to do (almost) everything an ordained person does. I'll be able to do the ministry I already do. And I keep telling people it's what I'll be doing, title or not, the rest of my life anyway.

But then, I go home to J, who asks: what is your ecclesiology? If you believe in the church’s authority then you want the church to ordain you – to confirm what God has done. Do you want to go back to being free church? Don't you believe in the importance of the institution? That's why we left the evangelical world and became (anglo)catholic! Besides, you love the sacraments and you can't do them without ordination. Or if you think you can, you've completely given up on this church and are ready to go back to being Baptist.

And methinks, ordination is a sacrament. That's what makes it important. And that's why it has to be whole-church, not just me & God.

Then I go to class, and I overhear a classmate: I just had my 2nd meeting with the bishop (this is a guy who told me a few weeks ago that he's "thinking about" ordination) and guess what? He's sending me to Virginia, free ride! Yeah, dude has met the bishop exactly 2 times, wasn't even sure of his calling, and he's the one who gets thrown right into it. All expenses paid.

OK, so I'm jealous. I guess it pays to play in the institution’s game. I could sure do with less loan debt. And I'm annoyed that I'm stuck. I have everyone telling me to get ordained (or that I am being ordained as we speak) yet nobody actually ordaining me. What's one supposed to do with that?

Although we don't need the institution's approval for the work God's doing in us, we want the institution to affirm our call because we believe in the church. My ecclesiology is not free-church anymore. I do believe that the church has God's spirit. Of course it is not infallible. But it is also the place where we learn to be Christians (that's why we use the liturgy and do the sacraments). Ordination is a sacrament, and the church administers it in her wisdom as Christ's body on earth. Thought of in that light, it is less about getting me a title than it is about the Body affirming God's call. And I guess that is why the sacrament of ordination still seems important to me, beyond just knowing it for myself and others do too. To have the institution recognize it means that I am joining a tradition of persons whom the Church has called to the ministry of word & sacrament. And that is important to me, because I purposely left the free-church tradition to join this tradition with historical roots to the apostles.

Too bad Bruno doesn't read the blog, huh? Maybe this all could have been taken care of years ago.

I just know that when I try to make things move, they don't go well. So I'll keep waiting. It will work out in God's timing. I've seen God snatch people and throw them into ordination without seemingly any preparation or even the person being sure. So I'll just wait for that to happen to me, I guess. I really don't think I should do anything about it, so don't suggest things to do. I just have to wait. God will move when and if the time is ever right.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Provocative, risky, possibly wrong

So I went a risky way today with my sermon. I got mostly positive feedback. Also some cautionary questions, "How is this pastoral?" (it's not, it's for you guys, and I think you can handle not being given answers). Also I don't think they were thrilled that I left them with a question and a struggle whether than telling the answer. I simply wanted to point out that we do this thing and Jesus seems to say that we're not what we think we are. Plus it was fun to get into a voice from scripture that is almost never heard.

Here is Just a Hired Hand, a sermon for my classmates.

Wow. This has been some training, hasn’t it? Three years of study! Who knew it would take so many hours, so many papers, so many languages, so much money – just to learn to look after a bunch of sheep?

I don’t know about you, but when the Boss called and asked if I would be interested in this job, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. But now that I’ve been here a while I feel like I’m really getting the hang of things. I’ve got a lot of great historical trivia to tell the sheep. I’ve got all kinds of eschatological theories to discuss with them. I’ve gotten trained on organizing them into sub-flocks by their interests and gifts so I can keep better track of them. I’ve even done an internship with a “test flock” to try out what I’ve learned. Yep, I think I’m pretty set. I’m all ready to graduate and become…

A hired hand.

Wait…didn’t I mean to say I’m becoming a pastor? Well, I don’t know. Let’s think about that. What does “pastor” mean? It means, shepherd, right? And what does Jesus say?

There is one flock, and one shepherd. There is one Pastor. And I ain’t him. And neither are you.

Uh-oh. This is really gonna mess up those business cards they’re printing.

But it’s right here, from the Boss’s mouth to our ears: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…and I lay down my life for the sheep…So there will be one flock, and one shepherd.”

Stay with me now. Who’s allowed in with the sheep? There are thieves and bandits, but they don’t enter by the Boss’s gate. And then there’s the One Shepherd, the Good Shepherd. And then there’s this…hired hand. Comes in by the gate, which means she’s trusted. Is hired, which means she’s been asked to do the work by the Boss. Even gets paid, rewarded, for doing a good job. But still, she is “not the shepherd and does not own the sheep.”

Do you remember: in orientation they told us about the first person hired by the Shepherd? Peter, what a joke. Certainly didn’t have the qualifications we have! I mean, come on, a fisherman? The Boss is sure lucky to have us educated and enlightened people to hire nowadays.

But do you remember what the Pastor did? He asked Peter to “feed my sheep.” He doesn’t say, “I’m making you a pastor – you’re going to be a shepherd like me.” No. He simply says, “Feed MY sheep.” He makes it clear that he is still the owner of the sheep – this mutton is on loan. Peter does Jesus’ will, not his own, when he feeds the lambs. He’s working for Jesus.

Ah. But you don’t wanna be a hired hand, do you? I mean, the hired hand in this story is the bad guy! She’s the person who takes off when the chips are down. He’s the one who doesn’t care about the sheep! Runs scared at the first sign of danger.

Yeah, the Shepherd doesn’t seem to think much of us. He says that when the wolf comes, we’re gonna run. That’s probably why it seems bad to be hired – why we’d like to think we’re actually the Pastor, not some lowly hired hand.

The hired hand runs. The hired hand hides. The hired hand, Jesus says, runs away because she is a hired hand – and doesn’t care for the sheep. Ouch.

Is it part of the definition of being a hired hand that you don’t care for the sheep? Or is that just part of the definition of running away? Maybe Jesus says we don’t care because we run, not because we’re hired. Or, maybe we can’t care - at least, not as much as the Shepherd does about His own flock.

But even if we did lay down our life, that wouldn’t make us the Shepherd! In fact, if we laid down our life, we’d be useless. We’d be dead. In our own power as hired hands, we run, hide, or die – and in any of those situations, the sheep are scattered. We can’t take care of them like the Shepherd does.

But the real Pastor, Jesus, doesn’t have to run from the wolves. He has the power to lay down his life. And not only that, he has the power to take it up again! Jesus can die for the sheep because he goes on living after he does it! His death isn’t an abandonment. In fact, his death saves the sheep. Only the Good Shepherd can lay down his life and take it up again.

So what if we can’t do that? He can! And he did! And that’s good news! The good news is that we aren’t the ones who are supposed to save the sheep. The Shepherd is. Do I hear a collective sigh of relief from the hired hands? I know I’m grateful!

Now, since we know that the sheep are safe, we can take care of them with confidence. We don’t have to fear the wolf anymore – in fact, we could lay down our life, if the Shepherd asked us to. Because we know that he’ll take care of his sheep, no matter what happens to us. And he’ll take care of us, too – for if we are united to him in a death like his, we will be united to him in a resurrection like his.

You know, it’s good to be a hired hand. We’ve been called on by the Good Shepherd to tend his flock! Wow! What an honor!

The Boss hires people to tend his vineyard, to feed his sheep, to sow his seed. It’s totally part of the kingdom to be a hired hand. It means the Pastor trusts us. He’s put his lambs in our hands! He’s given us great responsibility. Much has been given to us – and much will be expected.

We only enter the sheep pen because the Shepherd lets us in. He knows we belong with his sheep (unlike the thieves who try to jump the gate). He knows we belong there because he’s the one who hired us. We are in charge of His sheep, and we feed them, and we love them. We take care of them. But always and only for the Pastor, not as the pastor. If we start thinking WE are the Pastor, we’re gonna get ourselves – and the sheep – into a heap of trouble.

There is only one Shepherd. It’s not about us hired hands. Our only job is to get the sheep to listen to and trust the Shepherd. Not us. Him. The sheep have to see Jesus as their Pastor. Jesus’ sheep know his voice and follow him, and he gives them eternal life. No one, not even the hired hand, can snatch them away from him.

Before you let your part of the Shepherd’s flock start calling you “pastor,” think carefully about what that is implying. You are not the Shepherd. There is only one Shepherd. And you do not own the sheep. The Shepherd has asked you to look after them, feed them, love them. But they don’t belong to you. They belong to Him.

It is our responsibility as hired hands to always point the sheep towards the Pastor. Last week, Paul [that's my classmate] told us about the call of the shepherds, and how sheep know only their shepherd’s voice. So that means we have to imitate the Shepherd as closely as possible, so that when the sheep hear our voice, they really hear the Shepherd’s. We’ve got to listen extra carefully to really know Jesus’ voice. We’ll make him awfully proud if we teach His sheep to hear His voice and to follow Him.

But we can never, ever think we are him. Not even think we “are him for them.” We can never think for a moment that it’s our voice they should follow. There is always only one Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep – and for the hired hands.

Come to think of it, this is probably why we needed all this training: so we could learn the Shepherd’s song perfectly. I don’t want to mess up one note of it. I don’t want to sing my own song. I sure don’t want to compete with the Shepherd! I never want the sheep to think that they’re supposed to follow me, or mistake me for their Pastor.

My job is to point to the Pastor. To help His sheep know Him so well that when He calls, they run to follow Him! Even if that means they leave me behind…that’s OK. I’m just a hired hand.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why the hell couldn't Peter have flown his damn self into the sky?

OK, spoiler alert.

We've seen Peter Petrelli fly on his own before. Why did Nathan have to carry him this time? Contrived.

Also, what was the point of that long scene about Peter's big heart when it turned out to be Nathan's big heart that saved the world?

Also, why couldn't Hiro have stopped time, put the sword in Sylar, then started time up again? Seems a lot more efficient.

They seem to have forgotten a lot of their own ideas. Which is annoying. We kept thinking of powers Peter's displayed in the past that would have worked for him, but they kind of conveniently forget that he has them when they need to drive things forward.


Anyway, Heroes was my third break from the Barth paper yesterday, after 1 hour for lunch and 1/2 hour for dinner. Otherwise I worked from 10 a.m. until 12 midnight. Which was awful. It was actually harder than the Schleiermacher in the end. J says that's because my confidence was all shaken. And it's true - I was terrified to cut anything out of it because I so loathe it when they say, "What about..." and then something I had a whole paragraph on in the 20 page version. Annoying.

So I'd look at the screen and I'd just panic. It was too long and it wouldn't get shorter. It was like my brain was moving in slow motion. I couldn't figure out what to do with it. It was just there and not changing. Usually I can take in a whole paragraph and then turn it into a pithy sentence. But I'd lost it.

I have this Rescue Remedy stuff - it's a homeopathic "calm spray". I think it's mostly alcohol. I had to spray it regularly. And we had some tears. More than Friedrich caused.

Ugh. I hate that the last of these papers was such a horrific experience. At least with Schleiermacher the sheer challenge of it kept me interested. This one, I hated every moment. It just bored me to tears. I couldn't work more than a few hours on it (except yesterday) without feeling completely numb. And I spent much more time on the whole thing, I believe, than on Schleiermacher, which is pathetic.

So Boo! Bad assignment. But at least now I only have a sermon to write and rehearse (in the next 48 hours), and that is mucho fun. I way prefer that process. And then on Thursday afternoon I am SO not working. I'm having a little Pirates marathon, watching the first two, so I'll be ready for #3 this weekend! Yay!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Ed Bacon's gonna save us from ourselves!

Ed Bacon has written an editorial (in his own church's newsletter, for context) decrying the "child abuse" of substitutionary atonement. Not all that surprising (and really, I'm not a huge fan of that theory anyway - and I'm not sure it's all that widely held by most Anglicans anyway - except for Evangelical ones), but what interests me is his idea that they are going to reform the Prayer Book and Hymnal over this.

Hmmmm....I dunno, that just makes me a little bit nervous. But I think I want to go to these discussions they are having - if nothing else, to see all these big thinkers discuss our BCP. Kind of fascinating for a liturgy geek. Here's the article:

For another perspective (a really other perspective but still Anglican), here's the commentary from "Stand Firm":

Love to hear what you think.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

We and the Father are One

Jesus prays, “I ask not only on behalf of these” – the disciples – “but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word” – that’s us – “that they may all be one.” And again, “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one as we [you and me, Father] are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be completely one.”

Perhaps you will remember that my first sermon to you was on this theme of unity: we are all one in Christ Jesus, Paul tells us in Galatians, by putting on Christ in our baptisms, being made one in our new identity as belonging to him. In that sermon I referred to this prayer of Jesus’, and this morning, very appropriately, we will spend some time together with this prayer in my last sermon to you as your intern (that doesn’t mean I won’t preach anymore – I hope!).

If I may speak from my heart for a moment, John and I have greatly appreciated your warm welcome to us over these past few months. We feel a very strong affinity for this church and for all of you. I’m sure you feel it too – especially as we approach our big 75th anniversary.

But we have to remember that we’re not just “one” because we all show up at the same building on Sunday mornings. We’re not just “one” because we are all members here, or because we tithe, or because we know everybody’s name (and maybe everybody’s business!). We are not “one” by gathering or worshipping or working towards a common vision for this church. We’re not even “one” because – or if – we all like each other.

We are ONE because we each belong first to Christ – not to St. Barnabas. In our baptisms we put on Christ. We joined this community, yes, and we were made family members. But we became ONE by putting on Christ – by wearing that same outfit, Jesus. We are ONE by all being in Christ and by each living our lives listening to him and doing what he commands.

In this, we don’t lose our individuality, or our distinction as a church, or our identity as Anglicans or, as Paul says, the fact that we may be Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. BUT, these fade into the background. They take their proper place behind our primary identity: being in Christ and together being Christ’s body.

After praying that we may be one, Jesus goes on to explain how this can happen: “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us.” As Jesus was with his Father, that is how we are to be in them. How close was Jesus to his Father? He was close enough that he could say, “I and the Father are one” in John 10:30, and in 14:9, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” That’s pretty close!

Why was Jesus get so close to the Father? What does he say after 14:9, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”? He goes on, in verses 10 and 11, to say, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.” Whose works? The Father’s! “The Father who dwells in me does his works!”

It’s all throughout the gospel of John, this explanation of their relationship:
5:19: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing, for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.”
6:38: “for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”
8:29: “And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.”
10:37: “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me.”
12:49: “for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak.”

Are you getting the pattern? Jesus and his Father were so close as to be one because Jesus did whatever the Father commanded. Jesus was so full of the Father that when he did his own will, it was the will of God. When he spoke, it was God’s word. When he acted, it was God’s action. Jesus was entirely about his Father’s work in the world – he had no personal agenda. Nothing he wanted or hoped for was apart from, or a distraction from, God’s will. How many of us could say that? Yet if we truly want to be disciples of Jesus – to learn to live as he did – this is the goal to which we are striving, the way of being-in-God that we must pray to receive, by the grace of God.

Fortunately, we have some help. Jesus tells his disciples that if they have seen him, they have seen the Father. So it is by being in Jesus that we become not only one with him and with one another, but one with God the Father as well. If we are truly living into the meaning of our baptisms, being clothed in Christ and keeping his word, then we will be emptied of ourselves and filled with God’s purposes, love, mercy, justice – and most especially, God’s Holy Spirit. In John 14:23 and 26 Jesus says, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them…But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” Next Sunday we will celebrate the Father’s sending of the Holy Spirit as we enter the season of Pentecost.

Maybe you didn’t realize that this is what you signed up for when you were baptized. Maybe you were baptized as an infant, and somebody else signed you up! But if you really want to be a disciple of Jesus – and I believe you do, because it means having life, and having it abundantly, the best possible life you can live – then it’s not enough just to be here. Coming here week after week isn’t bad – it’s good to be fed, to learn, especially to worship. But there is more. There is a deeper commitment to Jesus that changes your whole life – and changes the world around you. It is the life that Jesus gives – a way that means being emptied of yourself, your ego, your agenda, even your own hopes and dreams, anything you hold back as “mine” – and being filled with the Spirit of God.

Being filled with God can happen anywhere: here in worship, or in your prayer closet, or in Bible listening and prayer, or in your family devotional time. It can even find you when you are having fun: hiking, having a picnic, baking, enjoying nature, laughing at an animal or a child’s antics. Anything that causes you to decrease and Christ to increase fills you up with God.

In the last couple weeks I’ve been reading a lot of Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, for a school assignment. He had this to say about being emptied and filled with Christ:
The final step on the way to holiness in Christ is then to completely abandon ourselves with confident joy to the apparent madness of the cross…This madness, the folly of abandoning all concern for ourselves…that we may entrust ourselves to Christ, means a kind of death to our temporal selves. It is a twisting, a letting go, an act of total abandonment. But it is also a final break-through into joy. (Life and Holiness, 119)

Another mystical writer, Mechtild of Magdeburg, put it this way:
Lord, you are my lover,
My longing,
My flowing stream,
My sun,
And I am your reflection.

Oh, to be God’s reflection! To entrust ourselves fully to Christ!

This week, as we prepare to enter the season of Pentecost, as we prepare for the coming of God the Holy Spirit – our companion, our advocate, our fiery passion – this week, I have a challenge for you.

Before you come here to celebrate being filled with the Holy Spirit, you must be emptied. Think about it. Pray about it. Where are you holding back? What are you holding on to? What is not God’s? What do you still need to control?

Is it a plan for your life? A career path? A big event you’re planning? A restful retirement?

Is it a person? A child you can’t control? A spouse who doesn’t believe, or listen? A relative or a friend who’s hurt you so bad that you can’t forgive?

Is it even your walk with God? Do you think you know exactly what you’re supposed to do – exactly who God wants you to be? Are you open to God surprising you? Challenging you? Taking you out of your comfort zone? Being bigger than you could ever imagine?

Don’t hold back. Ask God to show you where you’re hesitating. And then ask God to help you release it. It may be that you notice you’re too polite with God, you’re afraid to say what’s really on your mind for fear of retribution. Maybe you’re not happy about what I’m suggesting, and you don’t think you can trust God to take better care of things than you do. These are all big struggles for me. I’m always afraid of making God mad at me.

But then I remember that God is our loving, nurturing Mother – the Scriptures say She longs to gather her people under her skirts and protect us. You can be real with God. You can be yourself. God wants that more than anything! Don’t be polite – God wants a relationship with you, and that means it’s not just “God says jump, you say how high.” It’s you sharing your dreams and fears and anger and joy, and God sharing Her plans and hopes for you. It goes both ways. In a real relationship, we tell the person how we really feel – we let them see who we really are. Have that relationship with God.

I need to tell you that I am the last person who is good at this. I get hives – my husband can tell you – when I’m not in control of a situation. I’m not saying this is easy and I am definitely not on the other side of it telling you to be more like me. Far from it!

I just know that if there’s anything left that’s not surrendered, while God won’t abandon us for it, we won’t be living as fully into life with Jesus as we could be. I know when I hold back – when I try to keep control, when I have stuff in here that I’m clinging to as my own, my idea of “me” – then I am not able to let God in all the way. God can’t work through me when I hold back, when I don’t make room because I’m holding on to myself.

I guess what I’m offering you is an altar call. Come to this railing – this week but especially next – and empty yourself, as much as you can, so that you can be truly fed – and filled! It won’t happen overnight – it’s a lifelong process of giving over everything again and again and again. But I believe it will be worth it. Those who have glimpsed it tell us so.

They invite us into “this madness, the folly of abandoning all concern for ourselves…that we may entrust ourselves to Christ.” They invite us to release ourselves to our lover, our longing, our flowing stream, our sun. To be God’s reflection. Most of all, Jesus wants this for us: “As you, Father, are in me, and I am in you, may they also be in us. I in them and you in me that they may become completely one – so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

The Spirit is on the way. The Pentecost is coming. It’s nearly here. Are we ready to be filled?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

J'aime "Paris, Je T'aime!"

Sadly, this film may not make it to many parts of the country. But if you're lucky enough to have it playing near you, and you have any sort of affinity for Paris (or think you might), then you MUST see "Paris, Je T'aime"! It was awesome! I enjoyed every single moment. Sure, some of it was better than other parts (it's 18 short films about love stories set in Paris), but I was never bored or not loving it, and several moments were transcendent.

I haven't remembered leaving a theater that happy and uplifted in ages. Maybe after pirates next week, but right now, I'm all about loving Paris. Why, oh why, don't I have the balls to just move there!! It's my dream!!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Herr Prof Barth was a drunken fart

Oh, wait, that's Rene Descartes. Well it's still funny.

Just looooving the Barthness right now. It's just so not what I believe about a lot of things. But I have to admit I do like him in a few very small points.

For those of you keeping score, I did sit down w/prof today and talk about my paper. I didn't bother to do a written defense, because I really don't care that much about the grade getting changed. Primarily I wanted to know about how to do better next time, and discuss the comments. Which we did. And he said some really lovely things about me, academically, that I know now that he has a high opinion of my work and I can feel good about life in general again. He even said he's always going to follow my career...which means he must think I'm going to have one. And hey, isn't that nice to hear?

Oh, and after everything, we didn't get that bigger apartment. They said it was b/c someone else offered more money. Whatever. We're saving money now, so that's fine. And we've decided to completely rearrange the current apartment, so that it feels like we've moved. Maybe we can wring some more space out of this design (Edette, are you listening? I need your help, babe!).

We watched several good movies lately: Volver, The Queen, Stranger than Fiction (which I really loved and no wonder: the director also did Finding Neverland and the upcoming Kite Runner which I loved). J's now prepping his horror class for biola in the fall, which means we have to start watching more horror. We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

More on that grade

Well I read over the notes on the paper. And actually, I really disagree with them. I can point to where I did all the things they said I didn't do. In some places, it's quite subtle - but it's not my fault if the TA doesn't understand me. Geez, try understanding my source material!

At any rate, I feel better knowing that it wasn't really my fault, that they were looking for stuff to come out in a certain way and I listed it in a different way, so they didn't see it, but it was there. And in a couple places I simply wouldn't have had space to do what they wanted - I would need them to tell me what paragraph or page to cut to make room.

It's still frustrating, but I don't know whether to mention it or not. The prof did look at my paper. So clearly he agrees with the TA. But you never know what mood people are in while they are grading. You don't know how many others they've read. You don't know, for that matter, if they've just read the most brilliant paper ever and so they are marking you down in comparison, when really you've done just fine.

The reality is that I answered the question they wanted, they got hung up on one thing because they didn't understand how I was explaining it, and they wanted me to answer a subquestion more thoroughly that actually wasn't officially the question I was supposed to answer. So I think it is not any reflection on my work. They just didn't get it.

Major bummer

So I got my Schleiermacher paper back and I'm really, really disappointed. I think mostly because I really poured everything into it - I felt like it was the top of my game - and not only did I not get the grade I expected, but the comments on it are completely infuriating. Mostly they are saying, "You've got it, now expand it more". Well that is impossible to do because of the page limits of the assignment! I would LOVE to expand it more - give me 2 more pages!!

I had everything they wanted to see - in my original 8 page draft. Then I had to cut and cut, so I cut the explanations down to the bare bones, to squeeze all the concepts in. And they don't like that.

I am so frustrated because this was #8 of the papers like this, and I'm doing worse than ever on them. It's like I'm going downhill when I should be getting the hang of them. Plus, I knew this last one was the best I could do. Or I thought so - but they thought other papers I wrote were better. How could they be? My Calvin paper got the comment, "A model of efficient prose." What the hell happened to me?

Anyway, I went to spiritual direction today and my director, bless her, named it as a "devastating" occurence. Which was great because I have been trying to talk myself out of feeling bad about it. At least she gave me permission to feel bad about the discrepancy between my own confidence and that of the professor in me. Which matters a lot to me, b/c I really respect this guy and would like to think of him as a mentor. I hate to disappoint him.

So that sucks and I'm really sad about it. And I wish I were better at these papers by now. Oops lunch is ready. Well I am off to present an hour-long talk on Thomas Merton. I think it will be good - but clearly that's no indication anymore, what I think!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


So Jerry Falwell is dead. It's really hard to talk about. Do we say what we're all thinking? That's it's not such a very big loss? That we're sort of relieved? I wonder how brave people will be. Will Christians stand up and say this man didn't speak for us? He harmed us more than helped? Or will we follow the usual pattern lately of conferring near-sainthood on everyone who dies, no matter what they were up to in life?

My friend called to tell me and said, "I wonder where he is." Well, I said, you know where I think he is, even if you don't like it. But she said she didn't believe in hell, but didn't want him to be in heaven. And I said that I think he is with God, because I believe everyone goes to God, but that doesn't mean he's enjoying himself or very happy about being there - being in God's presence or seeing who's surrounding him. I think, more and more, that purgatory is just getting used to being near the incredible, unbelievable, shameless & offensive love of God.

But I think I heard it said best as:
"Jerry Falwell has gone home to be with Jesus, and we're all happy about that.
And now he can't fuck up the church anymore, and we're also happy about that."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

New Quotes

I'll list all the ones I get from Merton, too, after I'm done with that assignment. In the meantime, some words of wisdom:

Don't just do something, sit there.- Thich Nhat Hanh

What I wear is pants. What I do is live. How I pray is breathe.- Thomas Merton

In worship, if you want sensation without commitment, you're just participating in the world's oldest profession.- Bill & Gloria Gaither (not sure which, it was said to my mentor when he met them last week)

Here will I hold. If there's a power above us (and that there is all nature cries aloud Thro' all her works), He must delight in virtue; And that which he delights in must be happy.- Addison's Cato

Unfortunately, many people act as if Jesus had taught that the first and greatest commandment is this: Thou shall go to church. And the second is like it: Thou shall try to get others to go to church. - Millard Fuller; founder, Habitat for Humanity

A saint is a person who when he does his own will, is doing the will of God. - Thomas Merton

I am he, the might and the goodness of the Fatherhood; I am he, the wisdom of the Motherhood; I am he, the light and the grace that is all blessed love: I am he, the Trinity, I am he, the Unity: I am the sovereign goodness of all manner of things. I am he who makes you to love: I am he who makes you to long: I am he, the endless fulfilling of all true desires.- Julian of Norwich

There is no where in the world where we can drop a bomb and not be sure we haven't hit another brother or sister in Christ.~ Prof. Todd Johnson

Animals feed themselves; men eat; but only wise men know the art of eating.- Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

And do thou, O Lord my God, teach my heart where and how to seek thee, where and how to find thee. - Anselm of Canterbury, Proslogion

When you see the Lord sacrificed and lying before you, and the High Priest standing over the sacrifice and praying, and all who partake being tinctured with that precious blood, can you think that you are still among men and still standing on earth? Are you not at once transported to heaven, and, having driven out of your soul every carnal thought, do you not with soul naked and mind pure look round upon heavenly things? Oh, the wonder of it! Oh, the loving-kindness of God to men! He who sits above with the Father is at that moment held in our hands, and gives himself to those who wish to clasp and embrace him! - St. John Chrysostom, On Priesthood

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."- Michael Pollan's "short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy."

The best limit of sobriety for us will be not only to follow God's lead always in learning but, when He sets an end to teaching, to stop trying to be wise.- John Calvin

When life hands you lemons, make a hurricane

So since life in Pasadena isn't being all that kind (although actually somehow the financial aid thing worked out, thanks be to God), I decided to spend some time working on the NOLA trip. Knew that would perk me up.

I've been looking at hotels, looking for the best place we can afford (which isn't going to be the best place, but at least it's there). I found a few promising options but nothing I was super thrilled about. Then I was reading a guidebook and discovered the Lafitte Guest House. What caught my attention was that the listing said that the owners are strongly committed to helping the city recover and only buy from local vendors now. That fit well with the purpose of our trip, which is to also do what we can to boost the tourist economy. But of course, it's a really nice place and quite a bit more than the places I'd been looking - who am I kidding? It's gorgeous. Really awesome Old NOLA vibe, lots of antiques, the whole 9 yards. So I called and their summer rates are very reasonable, but still more than the others. But I talked to J about it and he said we should think of it like we are making a donation to the local businesses by supporting this B&B that in turn supports them. I thought that sounded lovely. Plus, free breakfast. Nice.

So I called and booked it, and they couldn't have been sweeter. We talked all about my former trip and working in St. Bernard parish, and I had a simply lovely chat with the woman. Then, wouldn't you know, she called back a few hours later and said that the owners were so happy that I'd come down to work that they wanted to upgrade me to one of their best rooms, with a balcony and everything, at no extra charge! Isn't that so wonderful?! I am absolutely delighted. Truly, it is a special city with special people. And they are so so thankful for all the help they can get. It just makes me all warm & fuzzy, and humbled and grateful to God. I cannot thank God enough for my trip last month - it was absolutely one of the best times of my life! And now, this wonderful offer. It's all a fabulous karma thing, isn't it?

So let me encourage you to give generously of yourself, because God, it turns out, really does love us and show us favor when we walk in Her way. (see how happy I am with just a little bone? i may be dramatic but i get over it pretty fast) What a wonderful Mother she is!

Friday, May 11, 2007

When it rains...

Yes, weirdness is pouring over my life again. So strange how these things come in threes. There's the apartment thing. Then the insurance thing. And now, this morning, I realized I hadn't heard about financial aid yet for next year. Turns out, they hadn't processed me yet, but it was a scary couple moments when I saw I have zero dollars to pay for school! (they usually let you know about your award by end of April, so I was scared all the money would be gone, but it's cool)

It worked out OK, except that I found out that they only give grants up to a certain number of units, and get this, I am TWO UNITS short of what I need!! ARRRRGGGHHHH!!

So next year will be paid for entirely by loans, yay, what fun. What's another eight grand, really? Still, a little grant would have sure been nice. Guess this means no more taking doctoral seminars just for fun. Darn. I really wanted to try one with my history prof, see how I like him in that setting. Oh, well.

OK, I get to spend the weekend with Thomas Merton. I'm quite happy about that. He's my mystic for my presentation in mystical theology. I'm focusing on his Zen stuff. It's so cool. I was nervous about the amount of work - the bibliography for his works and works about him is over 700 pages!!! - but then I started reading and it is just a pleasure. I don't even mind spending all weekend soaking in it. It's lovely, lovely stuff. What a wonderful thing, to actually enjoy some homework tremendously. Lucky me.

It's a good thing, too, because next I have to tackle Karl Barth. Ewwwwww.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Trust Issues

God and I are having some trust issues.

I don’t remember if I mentioned it, but a couple weeks ago I fell at my apartment complex. I fell down some stairs because they were wet from a sprinkler that was misfiring on the concrete. In the last couple weeks I’ve been seeing the chiropractor and I’m doing much better.

I had reported (by letter) to the management company what happened, and they called and said they wanted to take care of my medical bills with their insurance, which I was very relieved to hear. So I explained to the insurance person what happened, and after a couple days back and forth, she said they would pay my bills and also give me a little settlement on top. None of this was asked for, but all was quite welcomed and appreciated.

So, fast forward to this week.

J and I looked at one of the apartments in our complex that’s actually been open since the last time we talked to them about moving next door. It’s a 2-bedroom and quite cute. It had come down in price, and J has recently found out that he’s gotten a 1-year full-time contract at Azusa (yay), in addition to classes he’ll be teaching for Biola. In short, we’re gonna have money to move out of the closet, finally. So I mentioned to the manager that we were interested in the 2-bedroom, and he dug it big time, thought it would be fine. We discussed even our moving end of this month. Super cool.

But then today he visited and told us that until the “insurance thing” is all worked out, they can’t say anything about the apartment. I tried to understand how the two things are at all related, but finally decided I must be getting in trouble because I caused problems for the owner by falling. I feel like I’m being punished but I didn’t do anything wrong. I am very sorry I fell and really really sorry that I got hurt and needed fixing. I wish it hadn’t happened. Now I wish it more, because if it messes up our moving, I’ll be so very sad.

I know it sounds ridiculous and rude of them (especially b/c you’re only hearing my side – well that’s because it’s my blog!), but if that’s how they decide to be, there is really nothing I can do about it. But as J points out, I don’t know yet what’s actually going on, and I should stop getting worked up when it might be nothing. My concern is simply that they will give the apartment to someone else (there are two other applicants) because we are no longer, I guess, “good tenants.”

But they’re still stuck with us, it’s not like we don’t live here! And we’re going to be here another year, and want to stay in that complex now (b/c it’s not worth moving away since we don’t know what’s happening after I graduate), so why can’t we be someplace comfortable?

God, what if they kick us out??

Well anyway, what I’m actually writing about is how this has affected me spiritually. I’ve given all this backstory to get to what I’m going to say now.

I’m having trust issues with God.

You see, I had just prayed before the manager showed up with this bad news. I had prayed that God would take the situation. I prayed that God would protect us financially (and if that meant not moving, OK). I told God what I wanted, and said I would trust God to care for us.

Then this happened. OK, yay, you think – I got an answer. God says no moving. Lovely.

Except you see, this happens every time I give this over. Every time I tell God: OK, I’ll put this living situation in your hands. You know I’m very confined and sad living in our current place, and here’s this opportunity (new apartment, the house, etc), and God, I’ll just trust you that what’s best will happen.

And then every time I lose the thing I want. God and my desires don’t line up. And I don’t mean it in a whiny way. I mean that it’s really hard to trust God when every time I give something to God it doesn’t work out. Maybe I shouldn’t give it away but I’m supposed to keep it so I can make it happen. I don’t know.

I know I should be content with living simply. I guess I’m still working on it. I’m not good at it yet, not good at living small. Not good with the cramped space (especially when it’s hot). So is God trying to teach me this lesson, over and over? And won’t let up until I learn it? That makes me feel like God is mean or at least a tiresome disciplinarian.

What it comes down to is that I don’t know if I believe God wants what’s actually best for me. Or God wants what I want, when what I want doesn’t seem to be harmful at all (this 2-bedroom would not be exactly the lap of luxury – it’s 665 square feet!). It’s like, if I keep trusting God, I’ll be doing what God wants but I’ll be miserable. And there’s certainly a fine tradition of God letting people suffer a looong time. There’s almost a guarantee of pain and trouble if you’re going to go God’s way. And it’s such a bummer. I mean, I guess we become persons of loyalty, trust, and character, in the end. We detach from everything that’s not God.

But right now, I just don’t get how having a hundred more square feet would hurt me spiritually, and it would sure help me feel a lot better physically and emotionally.

Well like J says: there’s nothing actually to get upset about yet. But I found it interesting to examine where this was taking me with God. I started praying after the meeting, and then I started yelling at God. I really got mad. I had to tell God that I don’t think he actually knows or understands or even really likes me that much. I certainly don’t feel like he’s a loving parent doting on his daughter. I just don’t right now. How come every time I ask for something he does the opposite? And I’m supposed to just buck up and trust that it’s good for me?!

I’ll obey. I’m committed to it. I’ll live wherever God puts me. There I am. And I’ll be fine. But it’s chipping away at this relationship, at this trust I have. At this belief I so want to have that God loves me and really wants what’s best for me. I’ll obey, but I won’t feel very much like I’m doing it from love. I guess I’m trusting God because I’m supposed to, because I have this mental assent to the fact that God knows better than me. But my heart is rebelling. My heart isn’t in it. My heart wants things…but when I share my heart’s desires with my father I get slammed doors.

And I’m so screwed up that even writing this I figure God’s gonna punish me for being real with you about how I feel, so I’ll be punished and live in the hot closet forever. *sigh*

Dealing with all the psychology around God is extremely complicated. It’s also self-revealing and often painful. It’s tons of second-guessing. And for an overthinker like me, it leads to obsession. I have trouble listening in class, doing homework. Plus it makes me go into the depression. Which is what’s up right now. Depressed, and feeling put upon, and feeling guilty about whining over such a small thing. And deeply wishing I could have this move, but more wishing I could trust that God actually has something better. That’s what I want to believe – if it doesn’t work out, there’s something better. I’m losing faith in that.

God, I so wish I could be like John. He’s perfectly content wherever we live. He’s probably got a better trust relationship with God than me. I should ask him. How do you trust God when stuff doesn’t work out? Oh, you stop caring if stuff works out or not. That’s him. Nothing ever fazes him. I don’t get it. Especially during my period, man!

OK, back to mystical theology. Personal issues vomited. Hope you weren’t in the “splash zone.”

p.s. this just in from mystical theology class:
Evelyn Underhill on prayer:
It is a live wire, living link, b/t humanity and divinity. When you pray for something, you are volunteering to go into the breach – you become the intercession. When you pray for the people of a place, you should expect God to send you there.

New Steve Carell Movie

We went to another movie screening. We’d had such good luck with The Kite Runner, you know. And the film we were invited to see had Steve Carell in it and was directed by the guy who directed About a Boy. How could you go wrong? Plus, free popcorn.

So the film starts and it seems to be about Steve and his 3 daughters (he’s clearly a widower). He’s funny in that “serious movie” kind of funny way that comedians get (e.g. Carrey in Truman Show etc.). A few chuckles but mostly him being earnest. Thinking that it would be like About a Boy, with a great payoff and all that, I settled in for all the Act I establishing of characters and little situations (the one daughter wants to drive! The other daughter thinks she’s in love! And the littlest one…just wants her daddy to love her…awwww). And really it’s all going along quite well, until…

(cue organ chords)

The Wacky Family shows up. Oh, boy.

Now I’m not generally against wacky family movies (my husband is, as a rule – take note, Hollywood), but they are extremely difficult to do without resorting to convention and cliché. I am very sorry to report that Dan in Real Life does not transcend these traps. Indeed, it wallows in every cliché that the wacky family movie can present: the football game, playing charades, the unbelievably well-planned and costumed talent show, the four or five extra siblings (none of whom get to develop a character but are handy for background-establishing lines like, “He hasn’t played guitar since she…” [wife died]), big family dinners with embarrassing events ensuing, etc., ad nauseum. I couldn’t believe it – they pulled out every last scene I’ve ever seen in a family-gathering film, and then some. If only they’d had a clambake and a token gay, it would have been worthy of a Smithsonian exhibit on the genre.

They did offer us the latest craze, brought to you by The Family Stone, of brothers fighting over the same woman. Oh, fun. The moment this wrinkle was introduced, I thought, OK, this doesn’t have to be as bad as that film, it can be creative…can’t it? But Family Stone was sort of, well, Oscar material in comparison. At least there were interesting characters in that one – like the token gays (with the added dimension that one was deaf!). I was also reminded of Wedding Crashers as I watched the family football game, and remembered just how much better Isla Fisher was in that film than Emily Blunt’s lame, confused character in this one (she’s shallow! Wait, she’s a saint! Wait, she’s a sexpot!). At least Isla chose one of those and went for it, and she was awesome.

Unfortunately, the situation of the fighting over the woman meant that our friend Steve spent pretty much the whole movie alternating between acting like a dick and, most of the time, pouting. Not super attractive nor fun to watch. Steve’s extremely talented and I love him – I still loved his delivery, his way of offering throwaway lines that just makes you laugh out loud. But he was mostly called upon to mope – and not in his funny Office way – and that was flat-out boring to watch.

And when they tried to give us some tension, they did it in the majorly overdone convention of introducing Another Woman (prettier and younger – this is Blunt) who of course throws our intended couple into chaos, but only temporarily. Because it is painfully obvious from the first moment that Juliette (Binoche) doesn’t like her boyfriend (Dane Cook, the rival brother) and much prefers Steve, and Dane prefers the Other Woman. It’s not even remotely mysterious who will wind up with whom – they don’t even try. I guess they want us to really have squirminess while the wrong people are together, and satisfaction when it all goes right, but it makes for a boring flick when you are just waiting for the inevitable. And they made us sit through a painful scene in which Steve and Juliette try to make one another jealous by dancing like lunatics with their “wrong” person – but it comes off that they are pathetically desperate. And basically, lying to the family and themselves. Which doesn’t make me exactly root for them.

They did manage to surprise me, though. They surprised me by adding what seemed to be completely incongruous elements that don’t belong to the formula (perhaps this was their attempt to break the mold, but since they otherwise were so faithful to it, it didn’t work). For instance, they had the family do aerobics together. Huh? Is this the 80’s? And isn’t physical activity kind of not done in wealthy East Coast families – at least, apart from croquet, walks on the beach, the family football game, and watching polo? Nope, there they all are, doing it on the front lawn (probably ruining the cricket pitch), with Dane’s character leading (I think he’s supposed to be a gym instructor, which…well, yikes) and then Juliette’s (I can’t tell if she’s another instructor or just a gym rat – though there is nothing else in her character to suggest gym rat, including her not-perfect physique. I’m not saying she needs one, I’m saying if you’re gonna make her a gym rat, she’s gotta look like one). Generally, seeing Juliette Binoche sweaty is just unpleasant. Seeing the wacky family sweaty was weird. It didn’t work. And then they put the last scene in a gym to amp up the weirdness (I think they’re still tinkering with that so we can all hope that will change). I don’t know, maybe I’m too stereotypical, but I don’t get gym rat and crossword competitions as belonging in the same family. Maybe as a black sheep rebellion, but not as something everybody loves doing together. Please, go back to skipping rocks and playing charades.

I’m very sorry to report that I detected a trace of misogyny in the film as well, and I’m not just being a hypersensitive feminist (I hope). For one thing, there were two completely gratuitous (too lengthy) shots of women’s butts, in full gyration, filling the screen. This was to show us what the men watching were seeing, but come on – I can tell what’s happening if you just show me the guy’s lechy face. I don’t need the reverse angle. Then there was a several-minute scene involving a song that mocked a woman’s looks. Just going on and on about how ugly she is. I found that terrifically unappealing, and it frankly made me really not like these people who would laugh at it (both those in the movie and those sitting around me). It was plain cruel and went on way too long. It made me think the characters were all jerks. BUT, Yay! The woman shows up, and it’s Emily Blunt! She’s beautiful! Which means she’s suddenly acceptable to this crowd. How nice for her. There’s other stuff – a shower scene in which a woman is naked and a man fully clothed comes to mind – that’s played for laughs and is motivated (somewhat), but when added to the general tone, I really felt uncomfortable watching it. Which doesn’t bode well, since it’s supposed to appeal to women, I think.

My husband put it well: it’s a romantic comedy that’s not particularly funny nor romantic. Which is quite disappointing. Juliette Binoche is miscast and we never really fall in love with her. Carell does his best but isn’t given enough to do. The wacky family is completely underdeveloped, as is Dane Cook’s character – and he needs some acting classes, in all honesty. He overdoes everything (his reaction shots are kind of hilarious) – more like sitcom acting than film. The daughters’ fits are supposed to be funny – and they were, to most of the audience – but I just found them overdone and again, one-dimensional.

My one hope is that they will read the comments of those of us who didn’t love it and maybe make a few changes. I’m not sure how it could be fixed – remove Act II? Drop the wacky family? Actually, set in a big city with just the brothers (and their rivalry, fleshed-out) and Steve’s daughters (and their problems, fleshed-out) would have been cool. The rest was trite window-dressing. The whole thing had such a has-been flavor. And if you couldn’t tell, I don’t recommend it. But I don’t have much hope of it getting better, because most of the audience loved it (I guess they haven’t seen this movie a dozen times), and although we’d been asked to stay after to give our opinion orally, after we said we didn’t like it, we were told they didn’t need us anymore. Ah-hah. They weren’t interested in hearing negative feedback. Not a great sign.

Well, I guess we’ll just wait and see if the critics agree with me – and America in general. If not, then I’ll know we are actually on our way to Idiocracy after all.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Cool classes

I had about resigned myself to spending all summer learning Hebrew. I wasn't thrilled about it - mostly b/c I am freaking tired, and 10 more weeks of class right on the heels of this year sounds like it would do me in. But there didn't seem to be anything else to take, and I might as well get Hebrew over with. Plus I could take it from the person that everyone recommends to take (Haney, for you curious Fuller folk), and then in the fall, if it goes through, I could take Isaiah with Goldingay (though last I checked he still didn't know if that was a go).

So today I went looking at the classes just to see what there was to choose from. And wouldn't you know I found some really cool stuff. Now it's all 2-week, which is not my preferred learning timeframe. I find it to be way too intense - bulemia learning. Not good for retention. But I could possibly make an exception.

One is that Merold Westphal is teaching philosophical hermeneutics. Pretty great opportunity. And another is a prof from Andover Newton teaching on World Religions - and the required books are actually scholarly texts on the religions, not Christian evangelistic tripe. That would be fun - from what I can see, he doesn't seem to be all about conversion. He says the goal is to learn empathetically about other faiths.

And then finally my bud Francis Bridger is teaching a class called "Learning from Anglicanism" which I have to say just makes all my little Anglican senses go tingly. What fun - finally we can show this campus why we're the best! OK, that's probably not the goal. But there is a lot we bring to the table, and Fuller people are just plain ignorant about the Anglican/Episcopal church (as was I, in all fairness, before joining it - and as are many Episcopalians, for that matter!). There's so much rich stuff to mine in worship, theology, even polity. So I don't want to pay for the class, but if I do the other two then I'd definitely audit it.

So now I'm thinking I might throw myself into these other classes - both are 2 week and VERY intense. Not just b/c of the timeframe, but looking at the book and assignment lists, I say, Yikes. They are going to be serious work. But why not keep working at that higher level - find out if I'm really cut out for academics? Plus I get so bored in the regular paced classes at Fuller, and even with the 2-weekers, because they're often dumbed down.

Plus, if I do the two 2-weeks, I'll get August and September off (except for writing papers). Some good time to figure out what the hell I want to do about a PhD, no?

A word from New Orleans

Here's what a resident posted on my youtube videos from my trip:


Your video seems to be in a neighborhood from St. Bernard Parish, where I lost everything. Actually, I think you are in Lexington Place Subdivision. Anyway thank you for the video & volunteering your time.27,000 homes were destroyed in St. Bernard w/ a population of 70,000.

As you can see, not one part of my parish was left untouched. We have learned that many miles of important levee protection will not be repaired before our impending hurricane season!

I want to personally thank you for volunteering! Many thanks to all the students who volunteered their spring break. My home in lower St. Bernard Parish was destroyed and we remain displaced in temporary housing. You can't understand the scope of the devastation until you see it up close and personal. When you witness the destruction, it is hard to believe that this is happening to families in the United States of America! Thank you for being an American who wants to help in our now 21 month struggle to recover. You and the thousands of others who have volunteered their time,have given much needed donations, along with all the help of faith based organizations, Habitat for Humanity, Hands On., etc..are the sole reason for the little progress that has been made. Our government has abandoned our cry for help for the last 21 months, but you and all volunteers have been a blessing in our time of despair and hopelessness. There are not enough words to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation. Please keep us in your prayers and please continue to let everyone you know what is happening to American citizens along the Gulf Coast, whose homes and lives were shattered by Hurricanes Katrina & Rita. 12 separate family members lost everything from St. Bernard Parish to Bay St. Louis, MS. One of whom was my brother-in-law who died from a long battle w/ colon cancer only 7 months after the hurricane. His son has been serving in Afghanistan & recently came home on R&R. He was just as shocked and dismayed to see the endless miles of destruction. Then he became very agry at the recovery because he states that while he fights the Taliban, the U.S. are building schools, and hospitals, only to have them blown up after they are built. He said our region looks worse than the war zone where he is now fighting.

If you would like to see a clip of St.Bernard on youtube, it is called "St. Bernard Parish Government - Dream Video". The young woman, Ashley Neff, who sings beautifully in the video is from St. Bernard and graduated from high school w/ my son and a friend of my daughter. Thanks again and God Bless!

I am so glad we are going back. I was thrilled yesterday to be in Amoeba music and see that they had a big jar collecting money to support displaced musicians. We're gonna get that town back on its feet, even if we have to completely circumvent the government to do it!!

Friday, May 04, 2007


Well we had planned to do another trip to Vegas this summer, just for a quick getaway - eat some good food, chill in a hotel room. All that. But we've gone there a lot. And the dream was elsewhere...a certain little town I just saw & loved for the first time, but that is so expensive to fly into...

Until I found an incredible rate on United. Asked the mister, wouldn't you know, he's into it.

So we're going to New Orleans!!!! YAAAAAY!

I really couldn't be happier to be going back, and taking John, and this time supporting the economy and doing it up tourist-style. I'm so happy to support the hotel (gotta find one - recommendations??), the walking tour companies, the shops, definitely the restaurants, hell, even the voodoo museum! Wherever my $$ are needed!

I am so happy! What a great thing. Check out United's rates - they suddenly just put NoLA on sale. Time for a trip - in service or pleasure, a fabulous place to go!!

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Well the computer I'm working on has blogger in an Asian language. I can't tell which one, but not Korean. So strange. It's because I'm in the computer lab (it must have cookied this site after someone used it in their home language). Luckily I am typing in English - hopefully it's not going to post in another language!

Today is being such a nice birthday. I'm taking time to catch up on all my favorite websites. I so infrequently have time to just read fun stuff! Also, I'm very very excited because I read about a woman who runs a graduate program in spirituality up at GTU (Sandra Schneider, I believe), and so I went looking at their doctorate, and I really think the program looks amazing! For one thing, it's super-interdisciplinary. A few of the faculty already study some food stuff, and these days I'm finding my interests are in creating connections between organic material and ritual, and spiritualizing the organic movement - that is, helping people see that there is something deeper than "creation care" to the way they choose to shop, eat, and farm - there is something inherently human about it, something that connects us to God in a very real and deep way (since God is all over, under, and in the creation!). So maybe there are a few people there that would be interested in helping me create a spirituality of food. Most exciting is that Berkeley is home base for Michael Pollan, my current favorite food writer, who did The Omnivore's Dilemma. He's the Knight Chair in Science & Environmental journalism (funny, I used to work for the Knight Chair in Media & Religion!) there. But from reading his book, I'll bet he's itching to talk to somebody about the deeper ethical and maybe even spiritual dimensions of the quest for daily bread. Surely he's bored teaching journalism! Well, I at least find hints of his deeper questions in his book. So wouldn't it be completely awesome to study with him as part of a doctorate?? I sure think so.

Anyway, I think there are some GTU folks who read this blog. I would be SO delighted to hear your thoughts about the school, if I'd fit in there, and so on. Also, if there are people at other schools that sound like a fit for me, by all means let me know! I'm just in the very beginnings of the doctoral search process. Not even sure how it's going to turn out, or IF it will!

A few specifics: I am interested particularly in the Christian Spirituality area, but also the areas of Cultural/Historical studies, Liturgical studies, Religion & Psych, Philosophical Theology, even Biblical Studies would feed into my ideas and course of study. I'm very interested in going to an interfaith program b/c I especially want to study comparative ritual use of food and organic materials. I think the best religions at that are Judaism (a big area of study at GTU, I notice!) and Hinduism (I'll just have to take a Fulbright to India, right?), definitely NOT Christianity (w/our prop "food") but my dream would be to help reintegrate it, so that our Eucharist has the kind of meaning that a Seder has, intimately wrapped up in the kind of food, how it is prepared and served, and how it connects to God's story. What I love about GTU (what very little I've seen, just from the website) is that it seems like I could really integrate all this stuff - even the Pollan angle. But of course the Big Question is is there faculty there who want to mentor me? That's going to require me to start some research and study. So without further ado, I think that's going to be my super-fun birthday activity!

Thanks for all the warm wishes. I promise to get Schleiermacher up soon...but part of me wants to wait until it's graded (b/c a few of my graders read this). OK?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Buh bye, Friedrich

Well, I finished Schleiermacher, and today I get to go turn 'im in with great joy. I have to say, it was the hardest paper I've written for this prof (this is my third class w/him), but in the end, it will also probably prove to be the best one. Some of the others, I've been unsure about how well they would be received. This time - well, they may not get it, so maybe it won't be "received" well - but this time I KNOW this paper ROCKS. It's really, really good. Should I post it? I dunno if it will make any sense - but then again, it will be lots easier than actually reading Friedrich.

So thanks for your support and prayers. What a weird week, to spend it all in his writings. And now that's done, and I am pretty much taking off for a long weekend from all homework so I can enjoy my birthday.

I have been meaning to write that I saw an advance screening of The Kite Runner and it was glorious! I haven't read the book, so I don't know how it compares, but I loved the film. It was so cinematic, I couldn't even imagine it as a book - so that's proably a good sign. I can't wait for it to come out, and you can all see it, and it can win a bunch of Oscars, because you will and it will. What a great flick. Really moved me.

Also we saw Idiocracy and tried not to like it but found ourselves laughing our asses off. Sometimes sophomoric humor is the only antidote to brain fatigue.

OK, off to discuss my paper!