Friday, December 31, 2004

More on the shell

Okay, so I've not been clear. Let me put this another way:

To me, the fat on my body is something I've put on, like a garment. It's not me, it's not part of who I am, and hating it in no way relates to hating myself. It's as benign as hating a shirt I'm wearing.

I don't know what I believe for sure about the soul and the body. I plan to take Nancey Murphy's class at Fuller, and I've been told she thinks they are one and the same. I'm already a big fan of Dallas Willard, and J tells me that in "Renovation of the Heart" Willard states that you are not your body, you are your soul. Yet your body is somehow part of your soul, too.

I have always believed that the body is something other than the soul, and that it will pass away while the soul will continue into eternity. I don't believe it is me. I just don't. I am something other than this mortal vessel.

And I get that from Paul, mostly, who also uses the metaphor of clothing, or sometimes a "tent", to refer to the body. I think there is strong Biblical evidence for the rotting of the flesh while the soul goes on.

That doesn't mean I believe the body is evil, by any means! I'm no gnostic. It's neutral, I think. Like I said, it's like clothes. And clothes can indeed make a statement about who we are. But that doesn't mean they define who we are. Clothes don't make the man.

Or the woman, as it were.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

What would Jesus eat?

So as I am formulating a very complex grocery list, involving strange items such as nutritional yeast flakes, seitan, and flaxseeds, I ponder the inevitable question:

Why do I care so much about what I look like?

We spend so much time and energy on these shells which our real selves inhabit. We are merely dust and clay and earth. God breathes into us and we live, God spits in our eye and we see, God calls and we come forth. But we focus on the part which God fashioned (or formed, if you are male) as our temporary home.

And as much as I wish I could honestly say it is all about being healthy and frustrated with clothes, the reality is...I would like to look good. In the eyes of those who really do not matter, and those who do, and most of all in my own eyes.

God loves me just as I am. God sees the inside and probably could care less about the vessel. It is a miracle that my eyes and legs and stomach and brain and lungs work at all, albeit sometimes not perfectly. Yet how can I complain? I see, and I walk, and my body knows to digest and breathe, and I am capable of rational thought.

Funny how the only creatures with this capability are so obssessed with irrational concerns.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


That's for New Year's, not New York. Here in California...well I like the way the LA times put it in last Sunday's magazine:

"When New Yorkers jam Times Square to ring in the new year, all they get is a gaudy ball drop and the chance to sing "Auld Lang Syne" with strangers who smell like peppermint schnapps. But here in Southern California, the ultimate all-nighter has a noble purpose. If one is sporting enough to tough it out on Pasadena's Colorado Boulevard until 8 a.m. on New Year's Day, the trophy is an unparalleled front-row view of the Rose Parade in all its floral glory."

I have been sporting enough TWICE in the past, and I do have to say that while the overnight part really does suck, watching the Rose Parade live is completely different than watching it on TV, and infinitely better. It's one of the few parades left that actually is better in person, because the detail on the floats is simply impossible to see unless they are a few feet away from you. And without smell-o-vision, you'd never know just how glorious the aromas are. It's quite an experience.

But I didn't come to write about that today...I want to write about my resolution, which is completely cliche and pathetic. You guessed it...I want to lose weight. But it really is a health thing (my feet hurt from all the weight - I can't even wear heels anymore), and a money thing (I need to fit back into my clothes rather than keep buying new). I'm not good at dieting at all. So I'm just going to go back to my vegan diet, which I've done before and pretty much cheated completely out of over the last month.

Until I warmed up the leftover lamb from Xmas dinner and almost threw up trying to eat it (ate some eggs too - yuck!). I couldn't handle it. So I think I'm ready to give up eating flesh again for a while. Possibly a very long while. It really grosses me out.

And one other thing: I pulled out the Greek NT today and could not read it. Oh, boy - Exegetical Methods here I come! I'll be re-reading all of my workbook for the next couple of days. UGH!

Oops, I also, as promised, will keep you updated on fil-lms (as they say) I've been watching. Here's the latest (giving a score out of 5):
The Good Girl: Good movie. (3)
Madonna Truth or Dare: this was a fun flashback...I miss that Madonna and oh how I wish I'd seen that Blonde Ambition tour (but she was evil aka sex personified to my parents) (4)
Before Sunset: hey, where's the ending?? (4)
The Terminal: v. enjoyable (4)
Strange Brew: it has lost something since junior high (2)
The Bank Dick: it's official: I'm not a fan of WC Fields (1)
The Commitments: because they always said I should see it...not what I expected, good enough (3)
Pieces of April: I LOVED this movie (4)
Possession: interesting and romantic (3)
East is East: also not what I expected and not very good (2)
A Shot in the Dark: also not a fan of Pink Panther movies (shame, b/c normally love Blake Edwards) (1) not as good as they say, but a very interesting piece of history (3)
Hour of the Wolf: This is a Bergman film, and it's been a long time since I watched an arty flick, and I'm proud to say I not only stayed awake, I did enjoy it quite a bit. (4)

And J watched American Splendor, which he loved, and Mystic River, which was "okay", and Talk to Her, which I kind of wish I'd joined him for (he thought it was v. kind of a twisted way).

Saturday, December 25, 2004

This Little Babe

So thanks be to God, it happened. I got the Spirit. More accurately, I got completely bowled over by how absolutely incredible this whole incarnation event really was. We were singing the First Noel and it hit me how giant a thing Christmas was - it was such a cosmic event that a celestial choir felt the need to break through the veil and proclaim their excitement to humanity. Perhaps they just feared we would miss this all-important shift in the universal scheme of things, so they had to come and say, "Wake up! Look at what's happening! This is huge!". Whyever the angels considered it necessary to go beyond the usual proper boundaries of heaven and earth, their message rings true for us now.

This Little Babe

This little Babe so few days old,
Is come to rifle Satan's fold;
All hell doth at his presence quake,
Though he himself for cold do shake;
For in this weak unarmed wise
The gates of hell he will surprise.

With tears he fights and wins the field,
His naked breast stands for a shield;
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows look of weeping eyes,
His martial ensigns Cold and Need,
And feeble Flesh his warrior's steed.

His camp is pitched in a stall,
His bulwark but a broken wall;
The crib his trench, haystalks his stakes;
Of shepherds he his muster makes;
And thus as sure his foe to wound,
The angels' trumps alarum sound.

My soul, with Christ join thou in fight;
Stick to the tents that he hath pight.
Within his crib is surest ward;
This little Babe will be thy guard.
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from this heavenly Boy.

Robert Southwell, c.1561-95

Thursday, December 23, 2004

What I watched on my Christmas Vacation

Okay, here are my movie recommendations or not - maybe you'll be reminded of something you meant to see:

The Bourne Supremacy - J says it is better than #1; I think I like #1 better but still a good flick.

Da Ali G Show, Season 1 - awesome. Laughed so hard, especially at Disc 2. Interview with James Lipton (and Lipton rapping) is priceless. If you haven't heard of this show, RENT IT. It takes some getting into, but it's really genius. I don't even want to tell you anything else about it because it's such fun to be surprised by it.

The Office Special - very nice ending to a great series. (the whole series) Grows funnier every day as we rehash our favorite moments.

Two Brothers - I cried and cried. So sad, what we do to animals! Bad people!! In the end, all works out, but man, what an emotional rollercoaster. I'm a sucker for kitties. The DVD extra features were pretty much stock footage, but I'll watch cats all day.

Carmen Jones - I enjoyed this musical (opera of Carmen retooled by Hammerstein for an African-American cast set during...some war?), although it is a bit dated. But it was fun to hear and see Bizet reinterpreted.

Shoot the Piano Player - Truffaut. I think I prefer Jules et Jim, but this was also very good. Amazing how far ahead of us the French were - that is, it has a very modern sensibility even though it's not a recent film. Reminds me of "Charade" in that way, which completely seems like a 90's movie (definitely see that version instead of "The Truth About Charlie").

Ran - Okay, I know this is one of the most celebrated movies of all time. And I appreciated its beauty, definitely, and the story, which was King Lear, so how can you go wrong. But I did lose interest. Curse my attention span! I came back at the end for all the executioning of course.

Shattered Glass - I watched this again with J who'd never seen it. I haven't seen him so excited about a story in ages. He talked through the entire movie and for hours afterwards. The DVD has a great commentary by the director and the real Chuck Lange, the editor who caught Stephen Glass lying. Really enjoyed that.

All the President's Men - we're in kind of a journalism trend, here. This has been on the list to watch for ages. It was definitely good, but as I recall, the book was much better.

The Fog of War - wow! What a fascinating film this was!! It's a documentary subtitled "Eleven lessons from the life of Robert S. McNamara" (the former Secretary of Defense under JFK and LBJ). This man is completely riveting, the filmmaker does a great job of keeping it moving along (and not being just a talking head), and the score by Philip Glass is worth the rental alone.

Hellraiser - yes, indeed. This was really interesting in the fact that we both kind of took it on one level, but then listened to the commentary, and found this whole new level of meaning. It's basically all about family disfunction. But it's also about how people who do bad things get what's coming to them. Ironically, a Christian concept. (taken to it's most obvious in Scott Derrickson's "Hellraiser V: Inferno", which is worth a look-see if you like horror films. Derrickson is a Christian - went to Biola U - and basically makes a film exploring the wages of sin).

Mystic River - J is watching as I type this. Sounds like there's some overacting going on. But I can't really say. Will post his notes.

So far I think my favorite movie I've seen this year is "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". Great, great flick. Exactly the kind of movie I like.

But what a year it was - I also got into "The West Wing", which turned out to be so much fun, and finished up "Sex and the City", "Friends" and "Angel", all milestone shows. Continuing my obsession with all things Indian, I discovered Shah Rukh Khan (hottie!!) and his great films "Devdas" and "Asoka", as well as the charmer "Kandoukondain, Kandoukondain" (based on Sense & Sensibility). All are such wonderful films and so NOT American.

I also enjoyed this year:
"The Incredibles" (better than I expected)
"Kill Bill" (which is really just one movie - and a genius one that even my mother loved) "Spiderman 2" (good Christ imagery)
"Hero" (beautiful but it's no Crouching Tiger)
"Farenheit 911" (because I happen to like Michael Moore)
"Touching the Void" (this is a stunning movie - it's been shown on PBS already and may show again)
"Mean Girls" (clever and true)

And I'm looking forward to:
The Aviator
Hotel Rwanda
House of Flying Daggers
The Terminal
Shaun of the Dead
Collateral (largely because it takes place in my neighborhood)
Birth (and maybe Dogville)

Not too crazy about the Passion, though. Oh well.

I should post this because it is getting really long. I will post more - we have dozens more films sitting here. This list was just since Sunday.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

I am all for giving "Happy Holidays" to the secularists, the retail establishments, the government, the private sector, and those with no particular religious inclination. I am actually somewhat offended that "Merry Christmas" has shown up in the malls again - and I know it is at the behest of Christians. But come on, people - didn't we get mad in the first place because Christmas had become such a shop-fest? And now, after the retailers had created this nice alternative "holidays", we're complaining that they need to put Jesus back in the malls.

Let's have our Merry Christmas for the Church, and let everyone else have whatever they want to celebrate. And let's let the shopping juggernaut use "Happy Holidays". Isn't it less bothersome for them to respect the fact that Christmas really has nothing to do with gifts, elves, flying reindeer, and spending money?

Check out this site:

This is actually the same issue as marriage. Marriage is a sacrament, and frankly I don't feel it should be legislated by a non-religious government. So give back marriage to the religions, and those who prefer not to be affiliated with a religion can have a civil union. The government can set up its tax system and whatever else for the civil unions, and marriage can simply be something that a religious couple chooses to enter into based upon their heartfelt desire to honor their god(s). And those without religion, who don't want God mentioned in their ceremony, can have it their way and still have the legal benefits of marriage.

With this system, everyone can stop worrying about legally allowing civil unions for GLTB couples - the problem of equal rights is solved. And then the churches/synagogues/mosques/temples/etc. can decide each on their own whether to grant their sacrament of marriage to the couple. This should please the religious establishment - the power to grant the sacrament as they see fit is back in their hands. It protects the sanctity of marriage.

Truly, wouldn't this make a more clean separation of church and state?

But anyway, to those for whom I've purchased items, Happy Holidays, and to everyone, Merry Christmas, and thanks be to God for sending us a Savior.

Monday, December 20, 2004

God bless us, every one

Are you about sick of the word "blessings" right now?

I mean, come on, how many stinking more letters am I going to have to read in which the author regales me with all the blessings in her life, the blessing of family coming for Christmas and the blessing of the new car and the blessing of the dog being run over by the car because didn't that just make us all realize how precious life really is?

Are all these things blessings? It's not unlike blaming God for bad things that we spend too much time thinking God has rained down blessings?

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that God isn't about blessing every one of us every single day. But I worry about assigning that term to such mundane occurances as finding your keys or eating a sandwich or even getting that new car... Aren't we then reinforcing the (unconscious) idea that God is some kind of cosmic vending machine?

When we say that we're blessed what we mean is that we're happy. But usually we're happy because something earthly, something appealing to our temporal selves, something shiny or tasty or debt-relieving has come into our lives. And I'm not entirely sure God wants to be known as simply a source of these blessings. I think he expects more of us. I think he wants more of us.

And I think he wants to give us more.

And anyway, what happens when the happiness is gone? Who does God become then?
(in the interest of full disclosure, I sent out a card that closed with "Christmas Blessings"...and I've heard it drip off my lips like so much candy cane drool way too many times in the last few days)

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Have I lost you? comments in a long time. Is it too busy this time of year? Or did I lose people when I was not writing? Or did I just get *gasp* boring?

Wow...low self-esteem in the blogosphere. Amazing that I've gone from writing because I want to put down my thoughts to also writing because I want people to respond. I like to stir up the pot. And, dammit, I like attention.

I have so many insecurities. I have to take little pills, three a day, to ensure that my emotions stay in check. That I don't become unstable...unable to control what I am feeling to stay in a normal state of being.

The music director at the Crystal Cathedral just killed himself, after locking himself in his office for hours. During what would have been a performance of his Christmas show. He was just depressed. I wonder about the help he was given by his church. Did they try to cast it out of him? Did they tell him to pray harder and read his Bible? Did people infer that he was somehow not in touch with God or not honoring God with his life because he was not feeling "joy"?

I don't like the weight I am at but I am way too in love with food (in a foodie way, not a dangerous way) to stop eating well. And by "well", I don't mean "healthy".

I want to be a scholar and yet I am so lazy. I sit and watch movies - good ones, but still. I love them. I love to escape. And somehow books have not been holding my attention. Which is not going to be good for graduate study.

I actually forget to pray. It's not that I'm too busy or too tired or any of the normal excuses. And it's not that I feel unloved or out of touch or unwelcome or any of the normal neuroses. I simply forget. At least, I forget to pray in the way that others consider prayer.

But God is part of my every day, every minute life. He is in my bloodstream. He is firing the synapses in my brain. I don't think on him constantly but I act as if I do. Meaning that my actions are informed by my living in harmony with the way he has set up the world. And the language about him doesn't come out affected, but it's a real part of what I talk about. I don't set out to do something for God or think about him or pray to him or tell someone about it. But I think it happens. I think it does. Because I'm just going along doing my thing and I know he is there, and he is in control.

And it's not like a struggle. I've never fought with God over what my life is supposed to be. It's never occured to me not to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Because things just keep coming that seem like the right thing, seem like him showing me the next thing to do. And so it's not a big deal. It's just living.

I'm not putting up the Christmas tree or pretty much any decoration. I got out the stockings since my mother sent stuff to put in them. She also sent a tinsel fiber-optic tree, 3 ft tall, which is simply awesome. It twinkles quietly over there, with 3 presents under it - from parents and two siblings - and that's enough.

I got a fat bonus from church which was an amazing surprise, and I'm sending most of it to said siblings so they can take their spouses on nice dates. I love dating my husband (the rest of the bonus will go for a nice one for us), and I want them to have that too. And sometimes it just takes a little cash.

I have always loved giving extravagantly when I can. Perhaps another way God's nature manifests. He loves us so ridiculously much. And I'm sure he poo-poos my little anxieties. And I do too, when I stop and think. I am so thankful for my life. Even though I am hacking up a lung at the moment. I am going to go love my husband now, and get the cat out of the shipping boxes. Maybe make hot chocolate. Peace and joy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Yoga and Christianity

As a one-time practicioner of yoga, I found this article terribly interesting. And while on the surface it looks like something to be scoffed at, I wonder if this person isn't on to something. Not that I think Jesus traveled to India as a youth, necessarily, but when I was doing yoga I was discovering so many parallels with my Christian walk and practice. In fact, I was much better at praying and meditating upon God when I was in practice. It is interesting to think about. I'm a big advocate for at least the health, mental and emotional benefits of yoga, and I can't help but agree that there are also spiritual benefits.

Anyway, here is what I am talking about:,1,669165.story
A new book compiled from the works of a guru who died 52 years ago offers thoughts on Jesus' teachings and their unity with yoga.
(free registration required)

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Xmas time

Ho ho ho. I have almost no awareness of it being Christmas season. Largely this is due to my staying away from most retail establishments. I threw a big party that involved nothing remotely Xmasey except I did provide egg nog and candy canes since they were on sale and hey, those are good whenever you can get them.

I have been in such the funk. I am not keeping up with Greek and I suppose it will all be gone by the time the next quarter comes around. I have been sick pretty much since school let out and see no signs of recovering despite my best efforts to drink many fortified smoothies and veg out in front of the TV all day. Or today I tried going out for air but it's like 80 degrees in LA and that just feels wrong right now. At least in my house it's cool and dark. More wintry.

In the past when we've stayed here for Xmas I've gotten depressed. This year I've told my friends to call me because otherwise I may just forget the day. Which couldn't really happen: I'm singing a zillion services around that day so it's unlikely I'll lose track.

See here is the hard part. How does one observe Advent without completely cutting out Christmas? I have lost my interest in the season altogether instead of focusing on advent-y stuff. Which sucks for my friends and family because I'm putting no effort whatsoever into gift giving (although in the end they'll probably be pleased because I imagine I'll just visit the ATM in a panic on Dec. 24 and send cold hard cash). But again, there I go. Was getting into Christmas always about listening to music, eating certain food, having a party, decorating, exchanging gifts (or, for me, the sheer pleasure of choosing that perfect thing, spending hours shopping and wrapping, and finally the breathless anticipation of watching them open with glee)?

Will things change next week? Will I suddenly be flush with expectation of the coming of Christ?

This year, my theme verse for Advent has seemed to be Psalm 119:19. "I am a stranger here on earth."

You and me both, baby Jesus.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Jesus Came Back

But he's only on the Internet:

Forgive me...

The Feminarian repents for not writing for so long. I have been really sick. I took my Greek final in a fog of Robutussin, Trazadone and DayQuil. Should be amusing for my professor to grade.

Anyway can't knock this bug, and it's eating my brain, keeping me from having coherent thoughts about much of anything. Best thing is to sit in front of television and eat dark chocolate. Did you know there is something in dark chocolate that tells your body not to cough? It works. I ran out last night. Must get more chocolate.

So now am back to the world of regular work, no school, which is strange. Miss school already! Greek is quickly evaporating from oh-so-mushy brain!

Read old posts if you like. I will try to come back soon. Meantime I am diverting myself with TV shows: Firefly, The Office, Da Ali G Show, and Lost. Check it out. Peace.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

I tried going to chapel again. Bad idea.

It started out promisingly enough. We were instructed to stand around the edges of the room and we all held candles. A choral group sang a wonderful advent hymn. It was beautiful. Except there was a woman who seemed to be a dancer (I guessed this because she was wearing a leotard) who was apparently warming up, flitting up and down the stairs and occasionally twirling. No, wait. That was the dance.

Moving on, we sit, we watch some nice slides of (okay the dude next to me in the computer lab just farted) medieval art, some nice classical music plays. I can be down with this. A little scripture is read. I don't really like it when people "act" scripture reading (because usually it just involves waving your hands around while your elbows remain stuck to your sides), but whatever, I can deal.

Then suddenly we have people in seriously makeshift Xmas pageant costumes come and be a "living nativity". They perform a painfully bad sketch in which the journey of the wise men becomes an argument between three folks about asking for directions and using GPS; the shepherds become homeless immigrants who think the angel is the INS; and Mary and Joseph are apparently raising their child in El Monte. Really.

One friend said later that he was going to need to seriously repent after watching that.

Ha. I say the person who created it needs to repent!

But back to the story. Next a woman did her best Ani DiFranco impersonation while leading us in some Christmas carols (darn, I was hoping we'd stick to the promised Advent theme). The living nativity broke up. Finally, my favorite diva friend from the first chapel of the year came out to lead more singing of more carols (people, not Christmas yet!), and actually held herself back. I was proud of her. Except that I think she ad libbed something about "El Monte".

The big finish was, "Well, good luck on finals. See you after Christmas." Yes indeedy, seminarians, go out and celebrate the coming of Christ by focusing on some tests and presents!

I can't say anything without sounding like a broken record. I am just pleased that I was not alone. In fact, I don't think there were too many people present who accepted that as the best we could offer the Lord in worship.