24 December 2007

Merry Christmas!

It's simple and perhaps a little bland, but I mean it from the bottom of my heart this season:

Merry Christmas!

21 December 2007


Today, in 500 words or less, I am going to attempt to explain the idea of eschatology. I have to. I can't let the Christmas season go by without it.

Eschatology (say it with me, es-ka-TOL-o-gee) is basically the part of theology that deals with what Tim LaHaye-types like to call "The End Times." Revelation, armageddon (the event, not the movie), the Left Behind series---they're all eschatology. Basically, anything that has to do with how the world ends, and usually the part that God plays in all that, has to do with eschatology. In a broader sense, it also encompasses anything to with the Messiah or the Messianic Age (which is supposed to bring peace and justice).

Under 75 words, not too bad.

So why am I bringing this up at Christmas? Because Christmas is an eschatological (es-kat-o-LOG-i-cal) holiday. Don't believe me? Check out the lyrics to a holiday favorite:

O Come, O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
Who lays in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel

Here's Jewish History 101: First, there was Abraham. Then there were a few more people, then there was Jacob, who wrestled with God and therefore received the name Israel ("he who wrestles"), from which the nation of people is named. Then they were in Egypt. Then they weren't in Egypt any more (think "The Ten Commandments"). Then they were in the desert. Then they were in the Promised Land. Then they were exiled (kicked out) of the Promised Land. Then they were let back in. Then the Romans came in and colonized them, so essentially they were exiled without actually being kicked out of their land.

See the connection? The Son of God or Messiah (Jesus, to Christians) was supposed to deliver Israel. I promise that the Messiah does have to do with the end of the world, but I'm not going to go into it because that gets into really deep waters and we start using words like "inaugurated eschatology" and "supercessionism" and I'm on vacation and therefore refuse to use too many words over four syllables. Just trust me on it.

So, if you understand what I just tried to explain, while you're singing through some of your favorite hymns this Sunday and Monday, try to find some eschatological references. I dare you.

It's fun, really.

19 December 2007


Tonight I almost fell asleep on the floor of the Christian Spirituality section of Barnes n Noble while last-minute shopping with my dad. It was not good for a multitude of reasons. Let me see if I can put this adequately: going last-minute Christmas shopping with my dad is like going for a leisurely bike ride with Lance Armstrong. He's the master of the last-minute gift; one time, he and my sister went to the mall on Christmas Eve around 1 in the afternoon, gift-less, and returned around 5 with presents for everyone (some of them already wrapped) and a giant box of rolls from Cinnabon. They're pretty much last-minute-gift-buying Jedi to my Padawan, so the night was doomed from the start in terms of Christmas cheer.

Thus, I found myself in Barnes n Noble five days before Christmas, over-stimulated by the lethal combination of Starbucks cinnamon smell, Frank Sinatra Christmas music, and way too many Joyce Meyer books on a three foot long shelf. And frustrated. Boy, was I frustrated. You see, every year I get my mom a devotional for Christmas. This being no different than any year (and it being an incredibly convenient gift for a Bible major to give) I headed over to the Christian Spirituality section to accomplish my gift-giving goal. No such luck. As I stood with my head tilted at an uncomfortable 45-degree angle wondering why they don't just stack the books horizontally so you can actually read the titles without having to go to the chiropractor, I realized that being a Bible major has threatened to ruin any ability I once had to celebrate Christmas like a normal person. At school we (half-jokingly) started calling Christmas the "Feast of the Incarnation" to make it more theologically appropriate, and I think that was the start of all my cynicism; most of what we do at Christmas (even if it's buying religious-themed gifts like devotionals) has very little to do with the message of Christmas itself. Count two against me on the Christmas-cheer-o-meter.

I sat down, frustrated, staring at off-center titles like "How to Pray and Get What You Want" (since when was prayer ever a request line?) and "The Power of a Praying Wife" (one would think that the power lays with, say, God, but that may just be me). The closest I got to finding something was a book for myself written by the late Pope John Paul II that I thought would give me and my Catholic boyfriend something to talk about. When I realized that my Catholic boyfriend and I have more to talk about than the fact that he's Catholic, I put it back on the shelf and continued my search for a proper gift for Mom.

No such luck. Count three. I was officially in Scrooge mode.

Is it possible to be a Bible scholar and still enjoy Christmas? After my class on the Gospel of John this semester, I've enjoyed the season and its Biblical significance a bit more, but I can't help going to buy presents or making cookies and wondering what it has to do with a baby in a manger. Everytime I see a Christmas card with a manger scene, complete with snow and animals that I'm pretty sure didn't live in the Ancient Near East two thousand years ago, I find myself scoffing and wanting to point out to the world that Jesus was in all reality probably born in March, not December (on a side note, one of my professors is still devastated over the day that he made one of his students cry when he told her that Jesus wasn't actually born on December 24th--this is the main reason that I haven't shared this little fun fact with anyone). It isn't exactly conducive to the best of Christmas cheer.

Just now, in the process of typing this entry, something hit me. Go back a paragraph. See that line "Everytime I see a Christmas card..."? I'll let you go back and reread that. Very good. The part that hit me was the "two thousand years" bit. It's huge. Do you realize that what we're doing now, celebrating Christmas (no matter how commercialized it's become), is a Church tradition that's been around for centuries? If you think about it, it's pretty cool. We're joining in celebration with Christians from hundreds of years ago all celebrating the same thing: that two thousand years ago, God became a human so we could have eternal life. It's pretty amazing if you put it that way, I think.

So maybe I couldn't find a devotional I was theologically satisfied with for my mom. And maybe the fact that Jesus wasn't born in December isn't something to get so up in a tizzy about. I think this year I really will (as cheesy as it is) remember the reason for the season, frustrated Bible major-ness notwithstanding, and just enjoy the hundreds of years of Church tradition that I'm participating in...and maybe try to finish up my shopping as quickly as possible.

Resolution Check-In

So here we are, 18 days after the Liturgical New Year and how many of my resolutions have I kept? Let's see...

1) "Go to church more often"---check. In fact, I went to church the very next day. Yay!
2) "Pray more often"--check. Actually, that's probably a topic for another entry. Double yay!
3) "Update Blog more often"--failed. Miserably.

Two out of three really isn't all that bad. Bear with me, people....

01 December 2007

Happy New Year!

After reading the title of this entry, you may be a bit confused. You may wonder if I've written one too many papers and my brain has turned to goo (in reality, it's more like 23587093847642 too many papers, but moving on...) You may wonder why on earth I am wishing everyone a Happy New Year.

I'm not crazy, I promise.

It is, in fact, that time of year. Time to bust out the kazoos, confetti, and rosaires. And so I say to one and all....

Happy Liturgical New Year!

That's right, folks, advent is the liturgical new year, the re-setting of the Church year, the new beginning for matters of faith. In keeping with the traditions of New Year celebrations, I've decided to compile a short list of Liturgical New Year Resolutions:

1) Go to church more often (Bible majors are still college students who enjoy sleeping in, trust me)
2) Pray more often (see previous entry)
3) Update blog more often

I'll probably add some more, but I say the fewer you have, the more likely you are to keep them.

25 November 2007

Cleaning Soothes the Savage LooHoo

My computer mouse has it out for me. It's stubborn. It's difficult. It's downright vindictive at times. And this little computer mouse ("helpfully" located at the bottom of my laptop keyboard) was the catalyst for a bad day.

There was nothing specifically wrong with the day--it started out quite lovely, in fact, but for some reason it just wasn't good. My computer mouse refused to have a little holiday cheer and cooperate. I burst out into tears at the craft store over next to nothing. The number of commercials in the Ravens-Chargers game drove me to near insanity, and I'm not even much of a football fan.

Such a day called for extreme measures.

After sending a frustrated email to a close friend and searching iTunes for a song I'd been wanting, I pulled out the big guns--I cleaned my room. Yes, parents, I clean when I'm upset (it's not as perfect as it sounds, ask my mom.) In fact, it's so obvious that I clean when I'm upset that my ex-boyfriend once walked into a kitchen to find me cleaning, stood there with a look of absolute dread on his face, and said, "You're cleaning. What did I do?"

Indeed, cleaning is my anti-drug, or at least my anti-frustration.

I suppose it has something to do with making order out of the chaos of frustration (thanks, freshman Intro to Psychology), but for some reason it works. Within five minutes of clearing off my desk (and listening to the aforementioned iTunes purchase), life wasn't so terrible after all. You know how they say that music soothes the savage beast? Well, cleaning soothes the savage LooHoo.

It makes me wonder, why is it that cleaning will calm me down so quickly, but I never think to pray when I'm so upset? Why do I prefer a broom to a rosary? Everyone has their "thing" that they do when they're mad--some take walks, some listen to music, some hit a pillow, some eat comfort foods, some clean. I wonder why it is that more of us don't "take it to the Lord in prayer" as the hymn says. I certainly don't.

The idea opens up a whole can of questions. Even if I did stop scrubbing the shower long enough to pray about my sorrows, would I feel better? Would the "peace that transcends all understanding" settle upon me? Would I trust God enough to actually let go of my problems? As much as I'd like to answer yes, I'm not so sure I would. It would probably end up as more of a "Hey God, this sucks. Love, Me" sort of prayer, letting God be my venting platform, but not my solution. And even if He did solve it, would I recognize it as God's work, or would I attribute it to whatever I did in the meantime?

So many questions, so few answers. Perhaps I should just pray about it.

21 November 2007

Pretty in Pink--Part 2

Last time we left off, I was sitting in the emergency room waiting area eavesdropping on the woman with pink hair behind me, who had been making phone calls left and right because she apparently just had a miscarriage. While arguing with God about whether or not I should go over and talk to her, she left the room, taking away my chance forever....

But wait! When does God ever just give you one chance to completely embarrass yourself in the name of faith?

Um, never.

And so, about five minutes later, the woman with the pink hair (I wonder if she's any relation to the Man with the Yellow Hat?) walked back in, got some coffee, and sat down as far across the room as possible from me. Excellent. Not only do I have to talk to a complete stranger about something that she might not want to talk about, but I'd have to take a walk to do it. I enacted my plan carefully: walking over to the snack corner (which was inconveniently the closest destination to the woman with the pink hair other than the seat next to her) I poured myself a cup of water and stood about ten feet away "watching the fish tank" (in reality, there was a rather interesting Blue Tang doing what seemed to be a synchronized swimming routine with itself, so I really was interested).

Suddenly, I jumped as the automatic doors behind me sprung open and a male nurse came out shouting "Kimmy? Kimmy?" and looking around. The woman with the pink hair tried to get his attention, but he was too busy looking for Kimmy, who was taking her sweet time sauntering across the waiting room. Now was my chance! "Sir? She's trying to get your attention" I pointed to the woman with the pink hair. "Oh, how can I help you?" he replied as she sprung up and ran towards him, mouthing "Thank you so much!!!!" as she passed me. As the nurse, the woman with the pink hair, and Kimmy (finally making it to her destination) disappeared behind the wooden doors, I sat down in the seat across from the one the woman with the pink hair had just vacated, ideally positioning myself just in case she came back.

Oh yes, it was ingenious.

My chance came about two minutes later as she returned, wiping tears from her eyes, and sat down across from me. Well this is more awkward than I expected I thought to myself. Taking a deep breath and trying to seem as pleasant as possible, I ventured, "Do you need someone to talk to?" She looked up from her tissue, sniffing a little bit. Here it was. The make or break moment. Either she could spill the beans and confide in a total stranger or turn down my offer for companionship and therefore make the rest of our time in the waiting room incredibly awkward. The proverbial ball was in her court. Taking a shaky breath, she explained everything like we were old friends sitting in her kitchen. I moved across the aisle to the seat next to her as she continued her story, looking relieved to have someone to talk to.

When she finished a few minutes later, she wiped some more tears off her face. "I saw you waiting over there with your friend, is she okay?" We talked for about a half an hour about anything and everything, from the masters degree she was pursuing (a combination of forensics and being a coroner, from what I understood) to what I'd do with my degree (teaching/writing/pastoring/whatevering) to her husband's musical talent (a fellow cellist!) to the tattoo on her wrist (her grandfather's dog tag number, which apparently her grandmother thought was "neat"). Just as my friend was coming out of the emergency room, she was called back. Standing up, she put out her hand, "I'm Sarah, by the way."

Isn't it amazing how many times you share your life story with someone else only to learn their name at the end of the conversation?

As my friend and I left the hospital and headed back for school, I glanced over my shoulder to catch one last glimpse of Sarah. Alas, all I could see was a head of bright pink hair walking down the hall toward the nurses.
"Who was that?" my friend asked.
"Oh, just a new friend" I responded.
See, that wasn't so bad was it? said The Voice. You should have asked her how much that tattoo hurt, though....

15 November 2007

Pretty in Pink--Part 1

A few weeks ago I made a new friend named Sarah. Sarah had pink hair. Sarah and I had a nice chat. Sarah and I also happened to have met at the hospital. In the emergency room.

Do read on.

Let's start at the beginning (it's a very good place to start...I really hope you got that "Sound of Music" reference). Exciting things were happening in my Hebrew Prophets class a few Thursdays ago. Of course the conversation about First- Deutero- and Trito-Isaiah was exciting enough, but then I realized that the girl next to me wasn't taking notes. Or blinking. Or really responding to anything at all. She was, however, shaking. Not a good sign, I thought. Asking if she was okay, she shrugged it off, "I'm fine, don't worry." Five minutes later, she was no better. Seven minutes later we decided that class wasn't the best place for her to be and left (later on we had to apologize to the professor, who was being observed for a promotion that day...great timing). Nine minutes later we decided that the hospital was in order, and thus I met Sarah-with-the-pink-hair.

It was quite an adventure.

Here is where I must admit to something: when I'm incredibly bored, or maybe just a little bit bored, or really when I just can't find anything more interesting, I tend to eavesdrop. It may be wrong and it may be rude but it also makes for some very interesting blog entries and so I beg your forgiveness. So there I sat, in the waiting room of the hospital in the world's most uncomfortable chair (obviously designed to keep you coming back to the hospital with back problems) with the world's most boring news station playing in the background (what? Singapore Airlines had to ask people not to engage in any funny business in their new first class cabins with double beds? Scandal!) when suddenly I heard something decidedly more interesting than Australian millionaires complaining about the "course of nature" in air travel--the woman behind me crying on the phone.
"I just don't know what to do," she sobbed, "maybe I'll call Planned Parenthood, maybe they'll be able to help me."


Slowly I turned, ever the epitome of cool, to look back and see who the woman was. It was the one with the pink hair that I'd seen walking in behind me and my friend (who was now back with the doctor) when we came to the hospital. I wonder why she needs to go to Planned Parenthood, I thought, why would someone need to go there unless they had not, in fact, planned to become a parent? Soon my question was answered as I heard her voice again, "Hi, is this Planned Parenthood? Oh good, um, I need some help..." my ears perked up in anticipation "...I...well..." she burst out into tears "I just had a miscarriage.......and my.....my.....my doctor said that I have to get a shot in the next 72 hours or..........I won't be able to have any more children and I'm.............I'm at the hospital but......but they're not helping me and time is running out and I didn't know if it's something you can help me with..."

The rest of her conversation was lost to the river of shameful That's why you shouldn't judge people....you know what they say about assuming-type thoughts running through my head. It was absolutely heartbreaking. I looked back again. She'd obviously been crying for awhile; the now puffy skin around her eyes matching the color of her hair and the small mountain of crumpled tissues peeking out of the purse at her feet made that perfectly clear.

It was then that I heard The Voice. Oh yes, that one. You know the one I'm talking about. The Voice that taps you on the shoulder and whispers You know, you should really go (fill in the one thing that you absolutely have no interest in doing) when you're having a bad day and are far too busy to go do things for God. Well, I was having a semi-bad day, and I really was far too busy to go do things for God so it only makes sense that the Voice was speaking to me, telling me to go speak with the sobbing woman in my midst.
Now???????? I asked. Seriously? She's a mess, she won't want to talk to me, she'll be embarassed.
You'll never know unless you try, besides, think of that tattoo you'd get if you could get one.
Oh The Voice is tricky, isn't it? It just so happens that if I were ever to choose to sear something into my flesh it would be a twofold design: "His hands" on my wrist and "His feet" on my ankle, both preferrably in some sort of Biblical language to remind me that we are God's hands and feet to the world.
Yeah God, I thought, throw that one back in my face, why don't you?
I did.

God really has a sense of humor sometimes.

At some point in my mental tyrade, the woman with the pink hair had finished her conversation and walked out the sliding glass doors to the parking lot.

Oh great, I've lost my chance.
You wouldn't have lost it if you'd just done what I said when I said it.
.................I guess You're right.

What happens next? Does the woman with the pink hair come back to the hospital? Do I ever start listening to God? Find out next time!

13 November 2007

Langsea Does Halloween

Professor Dibley with Langsea

More pictures of Langsea, from Halloween!
She's just about the cutest pea pod I've ever seen in my life.

Coming Attractions

Coming up this week (after I finish the world's biggest beast of a project):
--more pictures of Langsea (this time from Halloween!)
--my encounter at the hospital
--another Power of the Gospel
--other generally assorted awesomeness

05 November 2007

The Power of the Gospel: Part 4

So now that we know when the Gospels were written and what their genre is, we're all sitting in the corner rocking back and forth whispering "But it doesn't make any sense" over and over again, right? Okay, maybe that's just me.

My freshman year of college, while taking my (at the time school-mandated, "I'll never be a Bible major in my life") Intro to the Bible class, I had a bit of a crisis. How on Earth, I wondered, if the Bible was written at a different time in a different culture for different people, could it possibly have anything to do with me? How could it relate? How can I find any applicable meaning to it? Lucky for us (or again, maybe it's just me), William J. Webb wondered the same thing. In his book, "Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals" (don't let the title scare you please), he talks about how to read the Bible in light of those pesky little issues like 2,000-year time lapses and completely opposite cultures. And that, boys and girls, is what we're going to talk about in how to read the Bible (which, oddly enough, includes the Gospels!) today.

I'll save you about 150 pages of reading and give you the gist of Webb's book: find the overarching theme of the passage and apply that to your life.

There are certain passages that are culturally bound in the Bible. For example, Deuteronomy 22:11 tells us not to wear clothes of wool and linen woven together (gosh, there goes my poly-wool blend sock collection!) Then, there are verses that seem culturally bound, but which you can still apply to your life in the 21st century like when God reminds the Israelites of how He brought them out of Egypt in the Old Testament. "Well," you may think "I've never been enslaved in Egypt, and God never brought me out of it, sooooooooo..........how does that work?" The point is to look at the overarching theme (God's deliverance of His people out of seemingly hopeless situations) and then apply that to your life today, aka God delivered His people out of Egypt, so surely He'll deliver me safely out of this taxi and therefore away from the Cab Driver of Death. Moreover, you can look at what the people in the Scripture did in that situation as guidance for how you should conduct yourself. For example, Moses listened to God despite his feelings of inadequacy (Exodus 4) and he ended up delivering God's people from slavery. So when you're sitting in the taxi and hear that still, small voice say "Tell him to pull over a block early" and you feel a little awkward about it, just do it.


Finally, here are those pictures I promised of Langsea!

Isn't she beautiful? These were taken about a day or two after she was born, which was almost two months ago, so she's much bigger now. We all decided that she has Peter's nose, good nail beds and high arches, so she'll be set in life.

31 October 2007

Happy Hallormation Day!

So the other day I took some pictures of Sparky for today--one of him "reading the Bible," which was conveniently perched next to his tank, and the other of him surrounded by Halloween candy. He was celebrating Halloween as well as Reformation Day! Unfortunately, Kodak Easy Share wasn't so easy to share, so no pictures :(

We all know what Halloween is, but for those of you not in the know, Reformation Day (which is NOT the Christian anti-Halloween, it's just incredibly convenient that they're on the same day) is the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the chapel in Wittenburg, Germany, therefore starting the Reformation and changing the face of the Church forever. While nailing ideas to the door of a church may seem like a radical statement today, it was actually quite normal--the doors of the church were like a community bulletin board where people could put up notices and ideas for academic debate.

So, Happy Hallormation Day!

27 October 2007

Plane People: The Other Side of the Story (Part 2)

When we last left off, Chuck, my fellow community-building plane person, was about to make a crucial decision: risk social awkwardness and start a new topic of conversation or turn back to his spot in line and pretend to read his book.

The choice was his.

I could practically hear the gears turning in his head.





Chuck smiled (albeit defeatedly) and turned around, flipping the pages of his book to get back to where he left off. For the rest of our time in the line Sarah and Michael chatted, but I wasn't listening. All I could think about (in a non-creepy, non-stalkerish kind of way) was Chuck and his failed attempt at harboring community. Why had it failed? Every once in awhile he'd glance back, defeat written all over his face. Was he not friendly enough? Were these seemingly friendly college students really just a group of anti-social hooligans who were there for the free food and a brush with literary fame?

Okay, the free food was definitely a draw.

And the brush with literary fame was really why all of us were there.

So why didn't Chuck's attempt work? Because, as much as I share Chuck's passion for harboring comunity and as much as we were all perfectly pleasant, we weren't receptive to it. It's not that we purposefully ignored Chuck, but we also weren't willing for some reason to contribute any more than was necessary to the conversation. See, that's the other side of the story of the Plane People. That woman that I sat next to on my flight (the one with the Funions) may have been the world's best Type 2 person having a bad day. She wasn't open and receptive to my attempts at building community just like I wasn't open and receptive to Chuck's attempts at the same goal.

I've had this entry saved for a few days, trying to figure out the right way to end it with a witty phrase or a cute anecdote. I've got nothing. All that I can say is that being receptive to a new friend is just as important as trying to be one yourself. We can have the most elaborate pity party in the world over our lack of friends, but if at the end of the day we turn down an invitation to grab lunch or watch a movie with a few people, what does that say?

26 October 2007

What's the Story, Morning Glory?

In a bit of liturgical spontaneity, here's a morning prayer written by Martin Luther. I like it.

My Heavenly Father, I thank You, through Jesus Christ Your beloved Son, that You kept me safe from all evil and danger last night. Save me, I pray, today as well, from every evil and sin, so that all I do and the way that I live will please You. I put myself in Your care, body and soul and all that I have. Let Your holy angels be with me, so that the evil enemy will not gain power over me. Amen.

23 October 2007

How Come Dumbledore Has a Boyfriend and I Don't?

I'm a self-avowed fan, a connoseiur of all things Harry Potter...a Pottermaniac if you will. Sure, I'm not quite to the level of going to midnight launch parties at Barnes & Noble dressed as Hermoine, but I did read each of the books in less than two days and was actually depressed when I finished the last installment. I love Oxford (in part) because I think it looks like Hogwarts. I've often wondered what butterbeer would taste like. I waited in line for two and a half hours for the midnight showing of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" when it came out this summer.

I'm not quite as obsessed as I sound, I promise.

With this kind of Potter-fan street cred (and an obviously Christian world view on life), one would think that my response to the news that Dumbledore, the venerated Hogwarts head master, is gay in the eyes of J.K. Rowling would be somewhat extreme. To be completely honest, when I heard the news yesterday I responded with a resounding and impassioned "okay, and?"
I may have shrugged.
I may have rolled my eyes.
But mostly, it was "okay." C'est la vie, let him be a gay wizard.

I was a little taken aback, yes, but in the same way I would have been had I found out that Dumbledore was a widower or had an illegitimate child. He's the kind of trustworthy, fatherly character that is blissfully conflict-free--isn't the possibility that he could've had anything to do with the Dark Arts what bothered Harry so much in this last book?

Call me what you may, I just don't see what the big deal is either way, and to be completely honest, I think J.K. Rowling's a little bit of a fool for bringing it up now. If it was that important of a plot point she should have put it in the book, and bringing it up now seems a little useless. Romantic relationships have never been a central theme of the book. Love was, but never in a romantic sort of way. Sure, there was that tension between Ron and Hermoine, and Harry and Ginny ended up together in the end, but those were side plots that always took second fiddle to the main story. Dumbledore never had a relationship with anyone in any of the books, so why should it matter now? More so, are we to question the sexuality of every character in the book who doesn't have a relationship? Perhaps Professor Trelawney was in a secret lesbian relationship with Professor McGonagall and that's the real reason she was asked to leave in book 5! Maybe Madam Hooch had another type of profession on the side. We were all a little weirded out by the close relationship that Flich had with his cat, Mrs. Norris...perhaps it was more than owner and pet. Scandal!

Really, people.

I say let the magical world of Harry Potter reside between book covers. Since the last book was released, Rowling has revealed a lot of facts about the characters that weren't in the books. Personally, I'd like to remember Harry, Ron, and Hermoine the way I read them, so I think I'll take Rowling's revelations with a handful of Bernie Bott's Every Flavor Beans...avoiding the earwax flavored ones, of course.

22 October 2007

Plane People: The Other Side of the Story (Part 1)

I met a celebrity last weekend.

Are you familiar with the written word?

Are you familiar with a certain #1 bestselling novel entitled "The Devil in the White City"?

Are you familiar with Erik Larson, the author of the aforementioned novel?

I'll give you a moment to be impressed.

Okay, maybe 'celebrity' is a wee bit of an exaggeration, but I was excited to take a ride out to the 'burbs and spend an hour or so with an amazing author, a full punch bowl of apple cider (see previous post), and about 149 of my closest friends. He gave a short lecture which included a brief but thrilling homage to the wonders of Google, to which my friend Sarah and I raised our hands in college student triumph, illiciting a point and smile from the bestselling author...it pretty much made my life complete. Afterwards, as I waited in line with Sarah for the book signing, I saw the other side of the moon, so to speak.
There was a "plane person" trying to build community. And I was part of the community to be built.

That's right, my one-person-community-building-machine met its match at a booksigning next to the punch bowl.

Sarah, her boyfriend Michael, and I were standing in line, discussing how rather impressed we were with our college selves for rolling out of bed and to a library on a Saturday when the man in front of us (who I've endearingly named Chuck) turned around, "Really, what college?" We stopped. He really asked us a question? Sarah, ever the extrovert, answered him while I tried to smile pleasantly and Mike sipped his cider, avoiding eye contact. We chatted for a few minutes about the average waking time of college students during the weekend and I, being a fellow community-building machine myself, knew what was coming next: the topic was exhausted, it was time for a new one. I looked at Chuck, trying to silently encourage him in our joint pursuit. "I understand" my pleasant gaze said, "You have to come with this on your own though." He looked a little bit like one of those puppies in the pet store that wakes up from a nap only to find 10 eight-year-olds staring at him. "Why are you staring at me like that?" his eyes responded.

Would he ask another question to keep the conversation going or would he turn around and pretend to read his book?

Find out next time! Same bibLooHoo time, same bibLooHoo channel....

16 October 2007

Blog Lust

I made a huge mistake today.

I read another blog.

"Now that's not such a big deal" you may say. "It's not like you're cheating on yours." But it is. Oh, it is. This wasn't a normal blog that one of my friends writes in every once in awhile ("today I had tea and went to class...") this wasn't even one of my professors' blogs ("deuterocanonical hermeneutical patristic blabbidy blah blah blah"). This was a real. good. blog. A Brad Pitt meets Orlando Bloom meets George Clooney kind of blog. One that, dare I say, I experienced blog lust over.

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet my

It started out simple enough; trying to elude my homework once again, I resorted to checking out the Blogs of Note on the Blogger sign-in page. "Maybe someday my little blog will be noteworthy," I thought to myself, glancing down the list in the guise of looking for something interesting but secretly hoping to see 'bibLooHoo' amongst its ranks. No such luck. I did, however, find something fairly interesting looking: a blog named [redacted]. "Now that's interesting." Thoughts of Biblical text redaction ran through my mind, maybe we could partner up, bounce ideas off each other, blog on common ground!

My geeky heart racing, I clicked on the link. Mistake #1.
I started to read. Mistake #2.

This. guy. is. good.

really. good.

So. good. that. he. doesn't. feel. the. need. to. put. periods. between. all. his. words.

Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy my blog. I think it's fun. I think it's enjoyable. I think it has a certain amount of chutzpah. But let's be honest people, this is like putting my next door neighbor Todd the Accounting major against Matthew McConaughey. It's just not a fair fight. I sat in awe of the writing, the layout, the intense wit of it all--it was like the lovechild of the "Gilmore Girls" writers and Robin Williams. For about thirty seconds, I considered putting brackets around my title to make it look cooler. I was experiencing serious blog lust--wishing that I could have another blog; bigger, better, more witty! This blog was definitely the Beauty, and mine is definitely the Geek.

After sitting at my computer for awhile trying to write an entry but failing for lack of confidence, I realized something. Remember that scene in "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton" where Tad (the hot movie star) buys a farm and Pete (the geeky best friend) offers to show him some farm chores? They both end up shirtless, with Tad showing off washboard abs and Pete....well, not so much. I'm not gonna lie, I'd take Pete over Tad any day. I realized that my blog is Pete. It may not have a link to a magazine or 28 comments per post and counting, but it's fun. It's genuine. It has a witty description. It could delve into the field of redaction if it so felt the need. I don't need to wish that mine were so much like another to appreciate it. I like it just the way it is, thank you very much. Today I choose to appreciate blogs that are better than mine as well as what I've got.

So now I must bring some virtual flowers to my blog and apologize for my brief fling with another. It won't happen again. I promise.

15 October 2007

bibLooHoo Goes Green

Did you know that today is Blog Action Day?

Exciting, isn't it?

When I saw this most auspicious of holidays on the Blogger homepage this morning, images of bloggers in superhero costumes came to mind. What, praytell, are we supposed to be taking action on? Making like the cat, I let my curiosity get the best of me (although I am still here...curiosity, you may have gotten the cat, but you're no match for me! muahaha...) and clicked on the link. Turns out that Blog Action Day is all about raising awareness for the environment, and for this occasion, bibLooHoo is going green!

(...okay the color scheme has always been green, but today we're seeing as well as acting green.)

To be completely honest, I'm not sure how I feel about Global Warming--is it just a natural cycle that the Earth goes through? Is it something that humans alone are responsible for? I honestly have no idea.

I'm a Bible student, not a Climatologist, and if you think that the Bible has nothing to say on this topic, then, my friend, today is your lucky day...

Genesis 1-2--agree with this story of Creation or not, you can't deny that it's important in the greater scope of literature, culture, and religion. What's more important, it's chock-a-block full of "green" themes:
The first setting of humanity is in a garden. You really can't get any more green than that. And this isn't purely a Biblical motif either, gardens are one of the most frequent archetypes through every culture in the entire world--it's right up there with flood stories and serpents in terms of interculturality.
2:15--God puts Adam in the garden to take care of it, implying that taking care of the Earth is a God-given responsibility
The very name "Adam" implies connection with the Earth--the Hebrew word used here for land is "adamah." Therefore naming man "adam" is not only a witty wordplay, but a testament to the relationship between man and the land---which isn't to say that it's a holy one, as the only way that "adam" was given life was through the breath of God.

This is obviously an incredibly minute slice of the pie in terms of references in the Bible and how the Christian community is reacting to environmental issues, so I urge you to check out the following sites:

Professor speaks about Christians and stewardship of the Earth
The Christian Environmental Studies Center at
Montreat College in North Carolina

...and for those interested in making a difference while staying beautiful,
www.lush.com carries environmentally-friendly soaps, cosmetics, masks, shaving supplies, you name it. A friend and I got pulled aside at the Lush at Marshall Fields in Chicago once. It was amazing. If you want to hear why, I'll give you the most amazing testimony ever. Trust me. This stuff is good.

12 October 2007

I Thought Jesus Would've Had a More Masculine Voice...

One of my professors showed this in class today. Seriously, he did.

Please click the link.

10 October 2007

The Glories of Fall

Um, I love fall. That's it. And to prove why you should love fall too, I've compiled the following list:

1. Leaves. Did you know that the state economy of New Hampshire actually depends on people coming to look at their leaves in the fall? They even have a cute term for those tourists--leaf peepers. Clearly, dying foliage must be gorgeous for an entire economy to hang on it, and besides, think of it as God's painting. :)

1a. Leaves on the Ground--not to be confused with just plain old leaves, leaves on the ground are much more fun because they can be either jumped in, stepped on (to produce a wonderful crunching sound), or some combination of the above.

1b. I only included this because a certain professor of mine insists that outlines can only have an a if they also have a b. Take that.

2. Apple Cider. Seriously. What day isn't made about a billion times better by a warm mug of apple cider?

2a. Carmel Apples--nothing takes the nutritional content of fruit down quite like molten sugar. Yum!

2b. Apple Pie--as American as baseball, hot dogs, and really nice teeth.

3. Pumpkins. They're orange and globular. You can carve them to make funny (or scary) faces. They make tasty pie. Really, where's the complaint?

3a. Okay, pumpkin in any sort of bread form is a peculiar allergy of mine, but I choose to ignore that this time of year. Viva le pumpkin!

3b. See 1b.

4. School. Yes I'm a geek, but admit it, you like going back to school (even if it's only for a day) in the fall, too.

5. Weekend Trips--for some reason they're always more fun in the fall. Example: I went home last weekend. It was lovely. How lovely you ask? Well, I got a half birthday party, my sister and brother-in-law came over, we went out to an amazing dinner, and my mom read me a bedtime story--except instead of a story, it was the Yale Divinity School faculty profiles and she kept tripping over words like "deuterocanonical" and "Pentateuch." It was glorious.

I vote we all go out and enjoy fall this weekend. Last to jump in the leaf pile is a rotten pumpkin!

The Power of the Gospel--Part 3

So now that we know when the Gospels were written, on to another (seemingly boring but surprisingly fascinating) topic: their genre.

Stick with me.

It may seem, like so many things, inconsequential to wonder what genre the Gospels are, but it actually makes a huge difference in the way we read and understand them. Think about it: you wouldn't open up a Dan Brown novel and expect a romance novel would you? (Well, apart from his obligatory awkward hook-up in the last chapter of every novel he writes, no.) You wouldn't crack an Agatha Christie and expect historical fiction just as you wouldn't open "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire" and expect a thriller. You know what to expect because you're aware of the book's genre. The same holds true for the Gospels. We may assume that the Gospels are their own genre, and for awhile Biblical scholars would have agreed with you, but it's actually not the case.

The Gospels are biography, right?
Well, half wrong.
In reality, they're a type of Ancient Biography, which is quite different than our (modern) idea of biography. Ancient Biographies don't put any emphasis on the subject's psychological development (which if you think about it, makes sense since psychology is a relatively new science), they put heavy emphasis on the subject's death, and use quotes loosely so that they can be changed to fit the occasion or argument of the author.

Did that hit a nerve?

That nerve (which, if the above paragraph didn't bother you at all, should have been somewhere around "use quotes loosely") is because our modern concepts of truth and accountability in writing are very different than those ideas in the Ancient Near East. That's not to say that it was a free-for-all of authorship; the rules were just a little bit different. Hence why it's so important to keep the genre in mind whilst reading the Gospels. That discrepancy between Matthew and John? Probably an issue of what point they were trying to prove when they wrote their respective Gospels. Bothered because Jesus' childhood isn't documented. Sorry, but you'll just have to accept that that was the way biographies were written back in the day. We don't read Charles Dickens and expect Ernest Hemingway, so why should we read Matthew and expect Walter Cronkite? While the enduring themes of the Gospels (my next topic) are certainly applicable today, we must keep in mind that the times and culture were different.

Happy Birthday, Blog!

Yup, it's been a whole month. Here's to many more to come.

09 October 2007

Plane People: Part 2

Dr. Willitts, if you're reading this, I'm really sorry that I'm writing this instead of doing my synthesis, but sometimes a girl just needs a break from writing verbless, five-word titles to the entire book of John.

And so, with a clean conscience, I wrap up the epic tale of my quest to build some Christian community on my flight this past weekend. When we last left the tale, my Type 2 companion had taken a seat far away from me on the plane. It was back to square one. I attempted to form a game plan as I stared out the window, admiring the baggage handlers' toss and crunch technique.
Note to self: never check luggage again.
I picked up a copy of the in-flight magazine and started to page through it, still wallowing in despair over my botched plan. What to do? I could abandon my quest, do some homework for the duration of the flight, and try again on the return trip, but no! That's not what Jesus would do! He'd make a friend, gosh darn it! There was still a steady stream of passengers making their way down the aisle, so I figured this was the time for action. Putting my magazine away in the seatback, I buckled my seatbelt, folded my hands in my lap, and fixed what I deemed to be a friendly smile on my face.

Phase 2 had begun.

I looked every approaching passenger in the eye as they made their way past. It's only now that I realize I probably looked like a cult member eager to make my conversion quota, but let's not dwell on past mistakes, shall we? One by one, souls potentially in need of a friend filed past me. Perhaps it was my choice of row. Perhaps it was the (possibly) creepy smile on my face. For whatever reason, it took awhile for the seats next to me to fill up. Passenger #1 arranged her carry on in the overhead compartment and sat down, avoiding eye contact and arranging her personal effects, taking out her phone and checking it one last time before turning it off. "That's a slick looking phone," I thought, "It sort of looks like..." Eureka! I leaned over. "Is that the new Razr?" I asked, trying to look as unenthusiastically interested, yet still friendly, as possible. She smiled. I had struck gold again. "Yes, actually I got one of the old ones," she pointed at the phone in my hand, which so happened to match the description, "but then the new ones went on sale so I traded it in." It was friendship at first phone sighting. We chatted for a bit about the marvels of cellular phones (yes, I am old enough to remember a time when they didn't exist) until Passenger #2 arrived; a young woman not too much older than me plopping in the middle seat between me and my newfound companion. Still riding the high of finding another Type 2 to talk to, I attempted to engage her in instant friendly banter a la The Importance of Being Earnest. "Is that a camera bag?" I asked, pointing to the obvious baggage at her feet.
"So does that mean you're a photographer?"

I now know what it feels like to be some hopeless sap trying to pick up a girl.
Gentlemen, I give you credit.

I decided to try for one more conversation starter. It had to be good. Something timeless. Something that could form some community. Something foolproof.
Taking a breath, I ventured, "Are you going home or on vacation?"
"I'm going to see my parents. My camera's sort of going on vacation with me."
More than one word, but the strike out became obvious as she pulled out a bag of Funions and flipped open the latest copy of Elle. No Type 2 here, if only because the only thing more socially revolting than a full bag of Funions would have been a clove of garlic. I considered asking if she wanted the window seat so I could keep talking to Passenger #1 sitting in the aisle seat, but she too was reading a magazine now.

My plan had failed.

Nobody in the row exchanged words for the rest of the flight save for Passenger #1 offering Passenger #2 and myself a piece of gum during takeoff. My attempt at building community seemed to have failed...

...or did it? ::scratches chin::

08 October 2007

Giggle, Giggle

Sorry for the poor photo quality, I had to take this with my webcam, however, it's definitely
the funniest thing I've seen in a long time:

If you can't read what it says on the bottom, it says, "Hold on--I think you got my toast."

Get it?

It's Moses. teehee.

07 October 2007

Plane People: Part 1

This summer, I contemplated a lot on the nature of Christian community. I studied Ephesians, preached a sermon on it, thought about it. Recently, I've decided to do something about it--why should I be spending all this time studying something and not encouraging it? I will talk with people who need someone to talk with! I will include the left out! In short, I will be a one-person community harboring machine! I got my big chance to test my skills this weekend. During my trip to see my parents, in which I had a one and a half hour flight each way, I was determined to make a few more people in the world feel like they made a new friend that day. It was during this quest that I decided that there are two types of plane people in this world.

Type 1 is the person who sits down, turns on their iPod, and generally wallows in their cocoon of self-travel. These are the type of people who refuse any contact from the outside world--they don't ask for drinks or food from the flight attendants. They don't talk to anyone else. They tend to wince when spoken to.
Type 2 are the type of people who bring a book, but rarely read it because they're so busy talking to their fellow flight-goers. They're okay with taking the middle seat because that means there are more opportunities for discussion with two neighbors. They don't bring any music or extra work for fear of being shut off from the outside world save for a Sudoku book, and in all honesty that's only really a fall back for if they're surrounded by Type 1 people as described above. They tend to order the Bloody Mary Mix from the flight attendant. I haven't figured that one out yet.

I'm a bi-plane person if there ever was one. I can curl up in a corner, put on my iPod, and flip my hoodie up like any self-respecting college student, but sometimes I like to walk on the wild side, meet somebody new, have a conversation without even knowing their name. This weekend, I was the latter. I did draw the line at the Bloody Mary Mix, though.

My sojourn into community building began before I even got to the gate. I was standing in line at Potbelly Sandwiches, salivating along with everyone else in a twenty foot radius (in part because that's how amazing that place smells, and in part because that's how long the line was, which I suppose is a testament for how amazing the place smells) when I decided that I was going to be a Type 2 plane person for this trip. The man behind me looked pleasant enough, so I decided to make a friend. I started off easy, "Do you have the time?" This was quite ingenius in part because he had just looked at his watch (so I knew he did) and I actually needed to know what time it was (another convenience). "Five after seven" he replied, and promptly flipped open a copy of PC Magazine. This was a Type 1 kind of guy. Not to be out-geeked by PC Magazine, I contented myself by reading my Yale Divinity School viewbook. I'd like to pretend that he was impressed.

After getting my sandwich, I made my way to the gate. "Okay, you'll find yourself someone here" I told myself as I took my place at the back of the line and dug into my roast beef on wheat. The man in line in front of me looked over, "Is this the line for Baltimore?" Jackpot. I nodded, my mouth full of tasty goodness. He had made the first move, the next was mine. I gulped down my (probably too large) mouthful of heaven, so as not to miss the window of opportunity. "Are you going home or traveling?" I asked, trying to look as innocently inquisitive as possible. He smiled. Double jackpot. This man was a Type 2. "Home. You?" Triple jackpot. Explaining why going to my parents' house was sort of home, sort of not was a sure conversation starter. "Well, sort of," I answered, playing with some rogue lettuce that had escaped my sandwich, "I'm going to see my parents, but it's not technically home...we moved around a lot." My plan worked. For the next fifteen minutes or so we chatted about a little bit of everything, from where and why my family moved so much to his kids to my interesting choice of major.
"Theology?" he asked. I had never seen a look so mixed between incredulity and suspicion before.
"Actually, my concentration is in Bible, but the degree is Biblical and Theological Studies."
"So, what are you gonna do with a Theology degree?"
"Bible. And I'm planning on getting my PhD, teaching and writing for a few years, then pastoring when I'm older."
"Wow, that's impressive. I wish my kids could come up with a plan like that...so are you Catholic?"
"Well, no. I'm Protestant. I couldn't be a pastor if I were Catholic."
"What's the difference anyways? I bet a Theology major would know."
"I bet one would, but I guess you've got to settle for a Bible major. There are a few differences between Catholics and Protestants..."

We talked for awhile more, pointing out the differences between the two sects in understandable terms--he pointing something out and me explaining it more for him (for example, as we were walking onto the plane, he exclaimed, "Protestants don't pray to Mary!" I tried explaining that technically nobody prays to Mary, they ask Mary to pray to God for them and the concept of the communion of saints, but that went over like a lead balloon). Right before we stepped onto the plane, he stopped to adjust his bag, letting me step ahead of him. Perfect. Now, the "who to sit with?" ball was in his court. I didn't look like the obsessive kid in need of a friend if I sat next to him. I made my way about a third of the way down the plane, found a comfortable looking seat, and turned around to say something to my newfound friend. Alas, there he was, albeit about ten rows behind me hunkering down into a seat. I had lost my Type 2 companion. It was time for a new gameplan...

Find out what happens next! Same bibLooHoo time, same bibLooHoo channel....

I'm Baaaaaaack!

Sorry for the absence there; an interesting combination of papers becoming due and a much-needed trip to see my parents prevented me from blogging for the past few days.

You know that old credo "If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, it's really yours"? Yeah, that's how I feel about this blog now.
I left.
I missed it.
I've come back.
We should be making it official any day now.

I'm going to try to update every day this week to make up for my recent truancy. No papers due next week, so there shouldn't be a problem. We'll see how it goes.

--If you want to leave comments now, you'll have to do what's called word verification--the form shows you a word and you have to type it in to prove that you're a human and not a spam machine. Don't worry, it's not anything weird, I just put it up because I got my very first comment spam the other day. Part of me is proud because that means that even the spammers know my little blog exists now. A bigger part of me is annoyed, and thus the extra security measure. Carry on.
--"The Power of the Gospel" will continue, I promise. Paper, parents, remember?
--I haven't forgotten that I promised pictures of Langsea Dibley from forever ago. As soon as the new parents get enough spare time to e-mail me the pictures they took, I'll put them up. Expect them about 18 years from now.

04 October 2007

The Particularly Prickly Professor

Ever since my days of giggly high school crushes, I've adopted the following mantra when faced with an intimidating person: they have to take a pee like everyone else. It's a little crass and a little immature, but really, try it out next time you get called into a meeting with your boss or that particularly gorgeous barista at Starbucks smiles at you. It's quite the equalizer.

I have a professor here at school who I just can't seem to get along with. When this person wants me to do one thing, I always seem to be doing the exact opposite: a paper is due one class, I thought it was due the next; they insist on being ten minutes early to everything, I miraculously seem to run late to everything they're involved with; they demand perfection, I can't seem to get it right. It's just not a good relationship. I've tried reminding myself that they too have to visit the commode at the end of the day time and again, but this has only resulted in my convincing myself that they don't--surely they are superhuman and subsist on vitamins and nothing else, resulting in a lack of commode-needing! My mantra has failed me with this particularly prickly professor.

Surprisingly enough, over the past few days, it has been this professor who has relieved a lot of my stress over papers and a disappointing semester, and they don't even know it. With only a few unusual comments and off-the-cuff discussions, they've made me feel a lot better about my situation. And that's surprising. So often we expect God to send us the kind angel, a Tiny Tim of sorts, to heal us in our hour of need, but what we really get is a reformed Scrooge. Maybe it's because God likes to be unpredictable. Maybe it's because we forget to look for the good in people. I'd like to think that it's because even Scrooge, in all his prickliness, also had to visit the chamber pot once in awhile. Maybe he found my professor there a time or two.

03 October 2007

Just a Thought...

Warning: If my posts this week seem sporadic, it's because I'm working on a paper in my Hebrew Prophets class on the first chapter of Joshua. Oddly enough, I'm actually enjoying it. For the first time, I'm actually realizing how the Bible shows God's faithfulness--He makes a promise, He goes through with it no matter what. It may sound like a simple idea, but it's actually quite groundbreaking for me.

Joshua 1. Read it.

01 October 2007

The Power of the Gospel--Part 2

As promised, here's that first bit about the Gospels. Today I'm concentrating on when the Gospels were written. I'm getting most of my information from Richard A. Burridge's book "Four Gospels, One Jesus?" It's an excellent book (as noted in my "Books I Dig" list), and it's a really easy read. I highly suggest it if this is all interesting to you.

Like I said before, the Gospels are incredibly important, but incredibly misunderstood (they're the Gen-Xers, remember?) As one of my best friends put it, "It's like playing a 2,000 year old game of telephone," what was said at the beginning of the line isn't always what we get down here at the end. I'll admit that getting "Jimmy rode a squirrel to the fair" from "Timmy threw a scroll in the air" is more than half the fun of playing telephone, but when we're talking about things that people put their lives down for, misinterpretation doesn't seem quite as fun.

Last semester I caught myself watching "The View" (yes, "The View." It was after "Regis and Kelly," I was bored, and it was either that or "Maury" so I think I made the right choice), and one of the hostesses started complaining, "I don't get why [Christians] put so much faith in the Gospels, weren't they written like 200 years after the fact?" I have to admit, this is one of my biggest pet peeves ever. I didn't turn off the TV, though I should have. Instead, I settled for rolling my eyes in frustration. And so, I will tell you an incredibly important distinction: the New Testament as we know it was made into the canon (meaning, the books were chosen to be part of the New Testament Scriptures) over the course of a few centuries AD (or CE, for Common Era, depending on how PC you want 2B....like all the abbreviations?) This doesn't mean that the books were written during this time. This does mean that they were floating around for centuries before all that happened; putting them all together cemented common beliefs and excluded "gospels" out there that were contrary to Christian beliefs.

So that leaves the mystery of when exactly the Gospels were written. Fun fact of the day: the four Gospels that are in the New Testament--Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John--probably weren't actually written in that order. Why they were put in that order is fodder for another post. What most scholars agree on today is that Mark was probably first, followed Matthew and Luke (who probably used Mark's Gospel as a reference), ending with John. There are a lot of ideas about when each of these were written, but my opinion (after studying the topic incredibly briefly, so please don't take this as the end all, be all fact on literary timelines) is that they were all written sometime between 70 CE and the 90s CE. Here (in the simplest and most non-boring terms I can come up with) is why:

1) 70 CE is the date that the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem fell due to the Romans. I can't say how hugely terrible this was for them. It's my opinion that the Gospels were written in response to that and the crisis of faith that came after it--the Temple was the center of religious life for first century Jews, and since Christianity came from Judaism, a full fledged faith crisis came from that center no longer existing. Some scholars suggest that Mark wrote around 70 CE.
2) John, as the final Gospel, had to have been written by about 130 CE, since that's when the earliest manuscripts were dated. I think it's around the 80s-90s because if it were in the 70s, the book would have definitely mentioned the Fall of the Second Temple (which it doesn't), but if it were written, say a decade or so, later, it would be assumed that the readers already knew about it and not give the issue so much credence. Take, for example, an important document written in 2002--it would reek of references to the events of September 11. However, a document written today and four years from now would have significantly less reference to that event. This same idea applies to John's Gospel.

Get it? Got it? Good.
See you next time.

30 September 2007

Spoon Cozy Update!

Update: I tried (just for yucks) to use the spoon cozy as a sponge cozy today. It didn't work. It did, however, work beautifully as a spoon cozy. It was fate.

Also, I'm working on that "Power of the Gospel" thing. It'll be up tomorrow. I promise.

Can You Smell It?

Another Daily Prompt from the summer:

Yesterday, as I stepped out of the side entrance at church, I was greeted with a surprise. No, it wasn’t a bouquet of fresh flowers, or a puppy, or even a baby left at the church’s threshold. It was rain. More specifically, it was a rainfall that had recently ended. As soon as I stepped out of the door, my thought process went something like: What? It’s wet; maybe the Meals on Wheels people dropped something; oh, it’s wet everywhere; I guess it rained; it wasn’t supposed to rain today was it?; wait, it definitely rained here!
This certainly does not serve as a shining example for my skills of deduction, since it took me a whole six thoughts to decide that yes, the moisture on the ground was definitely caused by a form of precipitation falling from the stratosphere.
What it does serve as is a point of interest: why on earth did I not recognize the obvious? I’ll tell you a secret: I only believed that it had rained once I took a breath in and smelled it. Yes, smelled it. My friends make fun of me because I claim (like any good New Englander) that you can smell snow coming. Maybe they would just make extraordinarily bad New Englanders, or perhaps I just have a superhuman sense of smell and a poor idea of what New Englanders can and cannot do. However, the fact remains that despite all the obvious evidence around me (mainly the fact that there was water all over the ground and its surrounding objects) I didn’t truly believe that it had rained until I smelled it and proved by different means that what I suspected was true.

It makes me wonder. How often do we not see God where He has clearly been?

Sometimes, God’s actions are like the rain on the ground; we see it, we know it’s there, we acknowledge it, but we don’t actually believe that it’s God until we prove it by a different means. People walking away from what should have been a deadly car accident, taking the job that led you to a certain special person, falling asleep in the middle of an all-nighter only to find that the majority of the test is on the one chapter you studied anyway—no matter how trivial it may seem, God is present. It’s just a matter of whether or not we recognize Him.

Do you recognize Him?

Can you smell it?

27 September 2007

Harried Potter and the Victorious Spoon Cozy

Yup, that's it!

Isn't it beautiful?

I'll let you take your time and marvel.

Yes, friends, this is the famed "lump of something that slightly resembles a bowl" that was mentioned previously. This is my glorious creation at the potter's wheel. This, oh ye in awe, is a spoon cozy.

Let me explain: when my attempt at making a bowl or vase or some normal object of pottery failed, I decided that no, I didn't want to get back on the horse and try again, I was going to make this first attempt work! It would be beautiful! It would be practical! It would a place where I could rest my sponge in between uses! It would be, in short, a sponge cozy.

This idea was tossed out the window about 48 hours ago when I was notified that my work of art had been shipped to school--in my zeal to set up my apartment, I had already purchased a sponge cozy...it has suction cups so it hangs out on the side of the sink and is big enough to fit two sponges; a duplex if you will. I couldn't just throw it away, so I had to change roles. This beautiful, beautiful work of ceramic genius would now and forevermore be a spoon cozy...a place to put your stirring spoons whilst cooking so as not to mar any of your kitchen surfaces. Brilliant!

It didn't take one of the fine people in my apartment complex long to point out that it is also the perfect size to hold one singular cookie.

I'll keep you updated on its uses.

26 September 2007

Astronomy? Astrono-you-suck!

Confusion: I know that the Bible says to "rejoice in the Lord always," but is it really possible to rejoice when you've had a truly terrible day?

Situation: Last night, I stayed up late and got up early today to study for my Astronomy midterm. I was feeling great...until I walked into the classroom and all knowledge of astronomy (along with any stamina I had) exited my body. I bombed the test, and while I was walking back from class to a sinkful of dirty dishes and an empty fridge in my apartment, the following thought process ensued:
"I can't believe I bombed it...I actually studied for this one, and that turned out to be my downfall...This sucks...Maybe I should have prayed about it...yeah right, like God would give me the answers, when's it ever easy like that?...God wouldn't have failed it, He made the universe...I'm tired. I'm hungry. I didn't get any mail today. I have to do laundry. My foot hurts....::grumble, grumble, grumble::"

Conclusion: I'm probably going to look back on this in a few days and laugh at the utter absurdity of it all, but for the moment it brings up a good point--do we really have to rejoice through everything? I could have stopped my monologue of self pity today and jumped for joy across campus shouting "I'm so glad the Lord is good!!!!" but I didn't. Should I have? Would other people have? Can you honestly say that when the year isn't what you thought it'd be, you just got dumped, you're falling behind at work, you're recovering from a cold, your foot hurts--whatever ails you--that you honestly feel like rejoicing? Even Jesus wept when he found out Lazarus died....

I'd like to think that God was walking beside me (perhaps limping in sympathy) saying "Boy, that test was a beast!" Maybe I can take my shredded cheese and iced tea in the fridge and perform a miracle like the loaves and fishes. Or maybe I'll just take a nap.

25 September 2007

The Power of the Gospel--Part 1

At a staff meeting during my internship this summer, I was baffled as to what to name my fledgling sermon. "Well," the senior pastor said with a smirk on his face, "[insert the name of famous preacher here] said that every sermon should be titled 'The Power of the Gospel.'" A worthy title to be sure, but a little confusing when you preach more than one. For the record, I decided on "Abraham People" for my title, but I've decided to start a series here in blogland, aptly titled "The Power of the Gospel." Even more ironic is that it's actually going to be on (of all crazy things) the gospel.

I'm an idea person. Just ask the fine people at Gallup, who last night declared to me (in incredibly tacky language) that I love ideas ("What you can be sure of [in life] is that ideas are thrilling, and most days, that is enough"), I like seeing the context of something ("You look back. You look back because that is where the answers lie...") and that I like to learn ("The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered--this is the process that entices you.") They've basically cracked me open and seen what makes me tick, and that sort of freaks me out. Regardless, I think I'll keep these aspects about myself and use them...here!

This may sound like an incredibly pedestrian concept, but I'll state it anyways: the Gospels are really important in Christianity. Those texts, for all their spin and historical confusion, are the only documents that tell us about the events that we base our faith on, written by people who (at best) were there and (at worst) were a whole lot closer to that time than we are. The Gospels are the angsty Gen-Xers of the literary world, if you will--important, but incredibly misunderstood.

The fact is that the Gospels weren't really written for us. I have a hard time believing that the writer of John sat down at his parchment and thought, "In two thousand years, some young woman will be reading this, and think it's interesting, and write about it in her journal on a worldwide communication platform." Uh-huh. They wrote for that time and for that context, and while that doesn't mean that nothing is applicable to us (I'll cover that topic in a later post), we have to seriously look at what the original context was to be able to truly understand and therefore better apply it to our lives today. See? It's an idea. And it's the past. And it's learning. I love it!!!!

So, my dear friends, I seek to explain the Gospels a little better in this new series entitled "The Power of the Gospel." Stay tuned.

How Crocheting Taught Me a Life Lesson

Another Daily Prompt from the summer:

When I was ten, I was obsessed with all things old-fashioned. In my mind, if women did it in the 18th century, then I wanted to as well. And so, one night on the back porch, I begged my mom to teach me how to crochet. How I got it in my head that women sat by the fire crocheting blankets and scarves through the Revolutionary War, I'll never know, but as I said, I was a girl obsessed. Ten years later, I'm still honing my crocheting skill, but I've found that there is a valuable lesson to be learned from the craft--it's okay to go back and fix things.

We live in a culture where success is measured in how quickly things get done--papers, work reports, ATM stops all follow the "quicker the better" mentality. One example: blessed with the ability to make total nonsense sound intellectual and cursed with the bug of procrastination, I've found that I can write my average college paper in about two hours without any drafts. It's quick, it's done, and it's not quite up to where it could be, but perfectly acceptable to 95% of professors nonetheless. For years, my papers have been flawed but quick and my crocheted items have been lumpy and asymmetrical. It wasn't until last night when I unraveled an entire row of the blanket I've been working on that I realized that it's okay to take your time. It's okay to go back and fix things--in crocheting, in papers, and in relationships.

For some reason or another, we all have relationships that have gone awry--with our friends, our family members, and also with God. Somewhere along the line we've dropped a stitch or tangled our yarn and we're too involved in the quest to be the perfect friend/family member/Christian that we've let it go. We've left the perfection for the pursuit. It's okay to go back and fix it. A friend will always accept an overdue helping hand. A sibling will always accept an apology. God will always listen when you pray, even if it's been awhile. It's okay to go back and fix things. So maybe my blanket will be done a bit later than planned, but it will be more beautiful than I ever dreamed if I just take the time to go back and fix its problems. I imagine that's what women in the Revolutionary War did. I think they even had a mantra for it, "Haste makes waste."

23 September 2007

Back to the Theological Stuff...

A few weeks ago, I posed a question regarding Christological interpretation of the Old Testament. I was (and still am) reading Warren Carter's book on John, and was bothered by the fact that readers are supposed to interpret John's references to the Old Testament through Christological eyes. I wondered if reading the Old Testament (which I decided about two seconds ago should forevermore be referenced to as Ye Olde Testament) Christologically pays proper homage to its writers.

To tell the truth, I feel a little silly for getting so upset about that in this situation. I'm blaming it on the fact that I wrote that blog relatively early in the morning (for me) standing in my friend's kitchen, having not eaten yet, and having not read the rest of the book.

Please allow me to correct myself: according to Carter, John was written to first century Jews to convince them that Jesus is the Messiah. Thus, the most effective way for the writer to do that would be to use Old Testament prophesy and interpret it as referring to Christ. It makes complete sense to me now.

I'm still not a fan of Christological interpretation (if it's not the original intent, of course) but I'd really like to know how other people feel about it. Maybe I'm incredibly unusual and the rest of the world is fine with it, who knows? I'm looking forward to finding out....

22 September 2007

"The Prince of Egypt" = Love

So last night, I took a train out to the 'burbs to see my friend Sarah and watch Disney movies. Yes, Disney movies.
It was amazing.
And from this experience, I have decided that "The Prince of Egypt" (albeit not entirely accurate) is one of the best movies ever. Sure, they ignored that Egyptians and Hebrews probably didn't look exactly alike and therefore Moses' identity crisis in the end of the first act is probably a little out there. Sure, it has a little too much violence for little kids. Sure, it has the world's largest time jump with the Hebrews going from crossing the Sea of Reeds to Moses coming down the mountain with the Ten Commandments in 0.2 seconds. But does that ruin the musical spectacle that is the film? Certainly not!

I urge you to checkitout!

Further proclamation: if "There Can Be Miracles" doesn't put a tear in your eye (or at least give you goosebumps), you don't have a heart...especially after that little girl comes in singing in Hebrew. Oh the cuteness.

21 September 2007

On Comments

It's been a few weeks since I've started this blog, and believe me I'm enjoying every minute of it. I don't pretend to think that it'll turn into some huge, international venue for young theology, but I do enjoy that I know a few people who read it regularly, and who comment as well.

If I may make a few requests regarding comments:

1) Please sign it...with a name or an initial or something, just so a) I know who is reading and b) so if I know you, we can talk about it further (if you so desire).

2) I love getting compliments, really I do, but this isn't meant to be a fan club. If you think a certain post was lovely, that's great! I love feedback. What I love even more though (and what the purpose of this is) is to see that it's making people think. If you agree or disagree with something you read, if it brings up an emotion in you or makes you angry, if it reminds you of something you've read or experienced, I want to know. I'm not one of those people who's easily offended by debates---especially about religion, so please please please with a cherry on top say what you think! I'm also open to topic suggestions. Boy, am I open to topic suggestions!!!

I know it's only been a few weeks, but I'm enjoying blogging, and I'm excited for how it will evolve in the future! Thanks for reading.

20 September 2007

Harried Potter and the Quest for the Perfect Bowl

A few months ago, I sat down for the first time at a pottery wheel. Ever since I saw "Titanic," I've wanted to try my hand at pottery (only true fans will catch that reference since pottery only shows up for about 0.003 seconds in the entire film, but it stuck with me...clearly). And so, when I finally got the chance to try, I was excited. "It's not as easy as it looks" I was warned, but I was deaf to tones of caution. In my mind, I was a true Renaissance woman--stealing a few hours away from chores to try my hand at an art form that was difficult to everyone else, but at which I would become a prodigy. I would come, I would see, I would conquer that clay! Crowds would marvel at my genious. The Vatican would request special projects. It would be amazing!
(I'm not as vain as I sound, I promise)

I like to think that for my size I pack a bit of a punch, so when I sat down at the potter's wheel, I felt ready. The clay hit the middle of the wheel with a perfect "splat!" I took my position, cradling the cool mud in my hands, foot at the ready to press the speed pedal. It began to turn. I applied pressure, and then......disaster. This clay was more than I could take. It was the most difficult medium I have ever worked with. When I wanted it to go up, it went down. When I wanted it to get thicker, it got thinner. It was, to say the least, stubborn. And coarse. I'm always up for a little exfoliation, but this was downright absurd. Here's what ended up happening:

Yes my friends, that clay was so stubborn that my then-boyfriend had to intervene. He was the Patrick Swayze to my Demi Moore in "Ghost," sitting behind me to lend a helping hand. I'd like to be able to say that we worked together and make the world's most beautiful vase. I'd like to be able to say that what came from it was a bonafide work of art. That, however, would be a lie. What came from it was a very pathetic looking lump of something that slightly resembled a bowl. I stood defeated. A Renaissance woman I was not.

Being the massive geek that I am, I had a song about clay stuck in my head this entire time. It's sung by a CCM band named LaRue and it says: "Like clay in the potter's hands/ Mold me, mold me...For whatever it takes and whatever the fate/ I'll trust You/ For whatever the cost and whatever is lost/ I'll love You, O Lord"

I don't know if whoever wrote this song ever actually tried pottery, but I like the image. I've heard the analogy of God shaping us like clay before, but I can understand it so much better now. That clay did not want to budge. It was perfectly happy being in a lumpy little buldge, thank you very much, and it did not want to be formed into something more beautiful. That sentiment hits a little too close to home. I'm perfectly happy the way I am, thank you very much, and I'd rather not change into something that's more beautiful to God---especially if that means a sacrifice or some sort of pain. I'm coarse and difficult and resistent, and while I'm sure that God doesn't need anyone to sit behind Him to add some weight to His hands, I'm sure He gets frustrated sometimes. I'm sure I end up looking like a pathetic excuse for a bowl.

So maybe this week I'll try to be a little more open to being formed. Maybe if I talk to the clay it'll agree, too....

Travels and Revelations

It's almost enough to make you believe in a Creator.