Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lots of good stuff

Thanks for your patience while I enjoy some vacation time. It's been really good. Occasionally I get stressed; I have a lot to do in these 2 weeks off - like a zillion books to read and movies to watch and people waiting on stuff from me. But I'm trying to not do too much. And to take quality time for sitting in the park, dreaming of PhD programs, and today, visiting my hubby's class. It's Socrates day. Can't miss that. Plus it's fun to heckle him.

Speaking of him, we got the most wonderful, PTL-worthy news. He got his contract from Azusa Pacific and his title is...wait for it...Assistant Professor!!! Now, we were hoping for Visiting Instructor or maybe Visiting Asst. Prof, but never thought he'd get a real actual title that implies actual professorhood. What a thrill! And he's not even a PhD yet!

The salary is way generous, beyond what we'd hoped, and the very very very best part is full benefits - health, dental, vision and a host of other fun perks (like money for hosting students at home, for professional dues, etc.). I can't believe we're going to have real health insurance again - pinch me! I am so excited - and so very very grateful to God. I knew if we held out things would get better again. I will be able to get my psycho meds - and I don't have to go to Planned Parenthood anymore! (interestingly, the first thing we both said was, "Let's get pregnant!" but then we both freaked out about that and it went away)

My other favorite part is that one of his first reactions was to say, "I've gotta finish my dissertation fast" - because he doesn't want to go down from this ranking, and this is a great rank to have on the CV, so his next job needs to be the same or better. That means, finish the PhD asap. I love that he's got this motivation now. Wouldn't it be totally cool if we both graduated next summer? It's also our 10-year wedding anniversary. That, my friends, will be cause for a freaking humongous party.

So that's happy news. Also I've been reading my books for the world religions class, and learning tons. I really enjoyed learning the basics of Hinduism - what a cool system they have. It's so very mystical. Really quite quite similar to what we studied in mystical theo this last quarter. Yesterday I started on Islam. That was not as happy. All the Muslims I know are really great, peaceful people, and they believe their religion is peaceful, so I took their word for it. But then I read about Muhammed's life, and he was quite the rabble rouser. He'd go attack people all the time. Big-time warrior. So that upset me, because I wish he was a peaceful man. But he doesn't seem to have been.

I would very much love to hear from any Muslims about reconciling this. I want to have a positive view of Islam, but from what I've read so far I'm nervous that it is not a very peaceful religion, which means it doesn't fit my ideals for religion. The book I'm reading (Islam in Context by Riddell and Cotterell) tries to put a positive spin on everything, explaining that raiding caravans and war between cities was quite culturally appropriate at that time. But it seems like violence has always been part of culture, and the really great religious leaders - Jesus, the Buddha come to mind - reject violence no matter how entrenched it may be.

I don't love what I'm learning so far about Islam, and that makes me sad. Because I really want to believe it's a great religion. But it can't be rooted in disrespect for human life and be truly great. I want to be corrected on this.

Finally, I watched the first season of HBO's "Rome" - what a totally fun history geek show! Now, it can get draggy, but on the DVDs they have a special feature called "All Roads Lead to Rome" that you can turn on, and it pops up little historical facts throughout the show. So I watched them all with that feature on, and I learned tons while enjoying the drama. It also makes you appreciate the incredibly specific historical accuracy that went into the show. They do so much that you'd not even catch without the popup. Their treatment of the religious life is especially fascinating to me - and very accurate, as far as I've studied. The very first episode had a Tauranbulum (sp?) which was a sacrifice of a bull over a pit in which a person sits and is drenched in the blood, to wash away sins. It's one of my favorite old rituals - such an interesting comparison to Christianity.

Anyway, I heartily recommend it to those who are interested in the time period. I guess I should mention that it would be rated R or even NC-17 if it were a movie - there is language, really gory violence, and tons and tons of sex. But I guess they were having tons of sex back then. So it's all accurate, it's just a matter of are you ready to see what Roman culture was really like, in all its debauchery.

And I watched Deliver Us from Evil, a documentary about an abusive priest. It was one of the most difficult docus I've seen, and also incredibly important. It really, really upset me - it was so horrible to watch the ongoing destructions of the victims and their families, and the priest himself. But even as I wanted to turn away, I knew it was vitally important to be aware of this. I hadn't realized the extent to which this issues permeates all the levels of the church - all the way to the top. The main message of the film is that any institution is dangerous when it puts the institution above the people. And I agree with that. Also I didn't realize what a total pig Mahony is. I met him once and always kind of respected him, but no more. Ugh.

So there's some stuff for you to watch (when you're not guiltily pleasuring yourself with "So you think you can dance" - I know I am). Happy to hear from you about any and all of the stuff in this post. I know it's a lot - I've been away and there's much to tell!


Kate said...

Yay for job, title, money and especially health insurance! I'm jealous. :) But so pleased for the two of you!

TKP said...

Woo hoo, good news!

JTB said...

On Islam:

It occurred to me today while mopping the floor (random, you know) that perhaps "ex opere operato" might be helpful. If we can consider sacramental efficacy independent of the character of the priest, then can we extend that to consider the content of doctrine separate from the character of the prophet? It doesn't seem that far a leap to me. It also seems easier to do with regard to a religious figure considered a prophet rather than a person of the Godhead. Christians tend to make much of the character of Jesus because Jesus is God--but if this element is missing in other theologies then it becomes easier to separate out doctrine from character. I'm really just thinking out loud at this point, obviously. I don't know how committed I would really want to be to this position, but it's a thought to put into play at least.