Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I know that recently there have been many articles about the new health benefits of drinking coffee. Harvard says that coffee is good in moderation (a few cups). The Gospel According to Starbucks also promotes this view. However...

...I don't think it's a good thing for me to have those "few cups" in the course of a couple hours because right now, I can feel that caffeine, and I can tell you, the typos are flying left and right because of my jittery fingers. I actually feel a bit woozy because of my travel mug dose of coffee. You would think that by now I would have learned my lesson about how much coffee I should drink on a Tuesday morning, but apparently I have a thick skull. Whatever. If it allowed me to finish my two papers for today (even if they are rather scattered and incoherent at some points), all the better. They are reflection papers anyway. And...well...if the only thing they reflect is the fact that I've had waaaaaaaaaaay too much coffee, then that's fine.

Class in fifteen minutes is going to be fun....if for nothing else than I won't be able to type accurately enough to follow the discussion!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Fun with Brackets

I thought I would take a moment to do a little bragging...

I'm first among all my friends with brackets on Facebook!

Admittedly, this probably won't last for very long, but I've climbed the ranks to attain a respectable #4 in the Caper pool (at 74.1%), and another one of my brackets is beating both of Ben's (at 91.6%, though it's also beating another one of my own). As far as the Methobracket Madness goes...I'm sitting comfortably in the middle with a 63.3% rating.

Apparently the only reason I'm doing so well is because I picked all #1 and #2's, which normally doesn't happen. So this atypical March Madness is really working in my favor...beginner's luck!

EDIT: I should say that the % are calculated differently ESPN.com does it one way, and facebook does it another. How? I'm not really sure...

Friday, March 23, 2007

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19, NRSV

As we near the end of the long journey toward Easter, a busy time for pastors and layfolk alike, I ponder the words of Isaiah and the relief and refreshment of a river in the desert.

For this Friday Five, name five practices, activities, people or _____ (feel free to fill in something I may be forgetting) that for you are rivers in the desert.


1) Ben, without a doubt. Without him, I would be more than a little parched! But also in this general category are all my friends and family - you know who you are. :-)

2) Cross-Stitching and other assorted crafty things (like knitting). I don't do it enough, but I love it. It's so relaxing (except when you skip a stitch), and refreshing.

3) Naps, especially at this time of year.

4) Hugs! Enough said.

5) The ocean...nature in general, but particularly the ocean. And the stars. I miss them so much, and I always feel at peace when I get a chance to look at them.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Home

I don't really have that much to report. I've been up in Maine for the past few days, visiting with high school friends (yay!), making pi cookies, checking out reception sites, and...writing a midterm and doing huge amounts of reading. Not much of a relaxing break, but I'll take what I can get!

My computer is estimated to be back tomorrow (hooray!) Hopefully I'll get it back, even though there's supposed to be a huge snow storm tomorrow afternoon through Saturday afternoon.

My car is in the shop too; it failed inspection. So Dad and I took it over to the dealership to be fixed. Hopefully, that will get done by Saturday.

Wow, in retrospect...I've had a rather busy and stressful break! I hope that my semester doesn't deteriorate from here...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Happy Pi Day!

In honor of pi day (3/14...get it?), I leave you with the first 1000 digits of pi:

3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679 8214808651 3282306647 0938446095 5058223172 5359408128 4811174502 8410270193 8521105559 6446229489 5493038196 4428810975 6659334461 2847564823 3786783165 2712019091 4564856692 3460348610 4543266482 1339360726 0249141273 7245870066 0631558817 4881520920 9628292540 9171536436 7892590360 0113305305 4882046652 1384146951 9415116094 3305727036 5759591953 0921861173 8193261179 3105118548 0744623799 6274956735 1885752724 8912279381 8301194912 9833673362 4406566430 8602139494 6395224737 1907021798 6094370277 0539217176 2931767523 8467481846 7669405132 0005681271 4526356082 7785771342 7577896091 7363717872 1468440901 2249534301 4654958537 1050792279 6892589235 4201995611 2129021960 8640344181 5981362977 4771309960 5187072113 4999999837 2978049951 0597317328 1609631859 5024459455 3469083026 4252230825 3344685035 2619311881 7101000313 7838752886 5875332083 8142061717 7669147303 5982534904 2875546873 1159562863 8823537875 9375195778 1857780532 1712268066 1300192787 6611195909 2164201989

Monday, March 12, 2007

I am dumb

I'm too dependent upon technology. You know how I know this?

I'm going to be without my computer for a few days while I send it to Dell to get the screen fixed (I dropped it and the LCD panel broke, rendering most of the screen unreadable. Fun.), and I'm already in withdrawal.

I managed to copy over my necessary files to a key my mom had on hand...but it's not the same. I will be without my computer - the computer that is tailored to my tastes and personalized to my needs. It has all of my favorite websites bookmarked, all of the blogs I read stored with the RSS feeds...even my favorite games installed that I was planning to play during my restful and relaxing break. So much for that! I don't even know how my sister can type on this keyboard for any extended length of time because of where it has to be positioned on the desk (the monitor is a monster), thus pressing the corner of the desk right onto my wrist joint. My wrists already hurt...granted, to have one's hands resting on the desk while typing is not proper posture, but nevertheless... Maybe I can co-opt Dad's computer when he's not using it, or borrow the unused laptop to work on.

And as I'm typing these things (and thanks to March 20th's readings for Oppression 101 on classism), I'm realizing how incredibly privileged I am to be even making these statements. *sigh* Why does seminary teach us to have a conscience?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Oops...

So I have been remarkably less than consistent in regards to posting this past half of the week.

Tomorrow won't be a good day either; I'll be at church until 2:30, and then in transit (first back to Madison :-P, and then up to Amesbury) because....SPRING BREAK!

Boy, do I ever need this "time off" (i.e., no classes so I can focus on all the work I need to do with papers, the wedding, and...taxes).

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Busy Day

Nothing terribly profound here, just a recounting of my day...

I went to work and got there a few minutes late because I overslept a bit. No big deal, really. We had a couple of visitors in the admissions office, which is always a fun time. Chapel was good; someone gave their senior sermon, and it was very insightful. The service was very Episcopal too, which was really nice. :-)

More work and then....tires at STS and oil change at Jiffy Lube.

Now, I'm down at Ben's church since his car is kind of out of commission for the time being. I brought stuff to do though!

So yeah. That's my oh-so-boring day, and I'm terribly excited for spring break! Hurrah for going home!

Moderation

OK, due to some really annoying spam comments about "losing weight" or some other nonsense like that, I am now moderating comments, and not allowing anyone to post anonymously!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

De-centering #1

You, Oh Lord are a harbor.
A harbor from the storm,
Oh Lord, You are my calm.
You, Oh Lord are a harbor.
A harbor from the storm,
Oh Lord, You are my calm.

Shelter me.
Wrap your loving arms around me
Shelter me.
Let Your wings of mercy cover me....
Shelter me.
Let your loving arms surround me.
Shelter me.
Let your wings of mercy cover me.

I've been thinking about something that was talked about in my Multicultural Evangelism class - about how all of this centering language (as in "Jesus, Be the Center") sends out the wrong signals. A move to the center is actually a move away from Jesus, because Jesus is out on the margins. A move to the center is to stay in our comfortable spirituality, much like the praise song posted above suggests.

I think we might be in trouble when we think Jesus is our "shelter." I'm not sure what about the gospel account of Jesus suggests this image in any way. And what would he be protecting us from? Christians are hardly called to be an insular people.

I'm still mulling this over in my mind...perhaps more thoughts will come later.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tough Class

Religion and the Social Process today was tough. Not because it was an issue I struggle with, but because it is a divisive issue that tears the church apart. More than that: it's an issue that cuts to the very core of our identity as Christians, as a Church, and as a community of faith: heterosexism.

My stance is what it is. The problem for me comes, however, when people don't want to respectfully dialogue and instead push to make their position orthodox. We get it from both "sides" (and while I agree with one side), many times their tactics frustrate me.

I think the thing that hurts me most about the church's inherent homophobia is how it prohibits people from truly feeling free to explore who they are and what thoughts and feelings they may (or may not) have. It blindly labels people without thoroughly examining why the categories are the way they are. These churches/belief systems/Christians seem unwilling to say, "well...maybe Leviticus doesn't exactly mean what it says and shouldn't be taken literally" or "perhaps Paul was speaking about something else entirely here."

The Bible can be used as a weapon or a tool of liberation - and sometimes both at the same time. Where will this debate take us and what will this mean for how we read the Bible? I hope in a direction that will allow everyone at the very least to be able to feel God's love, even if they don't feel it from other Christians.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Major props to my friend Ryan for posting this video!

Call me crazy, but there it is. I feel as if I have been cheated out of winter. Well, more than that really. I feel I've been cheated out of fall.

I need more overcast days where I can wear my "Hi, I'm from Maine" plaid jacket that used to be my mother's. I need more days with flurries - where I can walk outside with a freshly purchased chai tea latte with the wind in my face and the tips of my ears just starting to feel cold. Days that look to be so lifeless and dreary and yet make me feel so alive. Days for curling up on the couch with a hot beverage and a good book. Days where you can hear the wind howl outside your window and see the oak trees rock back and forth (that one might be a little dangerous if the wind were any more powerful...but I think you get the picture). Days very much like today. Even though it's March 5th, this day belongs in November.

Perhaps I didn't miss fall, but I missed the fall experience. Winter happened (it did?) and now it is practically spring (except for the freak blizzard that just erupted outside). When will this schizophrenic weather end?

[EDIT: And at 3:55 PM, the sun is fiercely shining...I know the saying goes for Maine, "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes," but I didn't know it applied to New Jersey as well!]

[EDIT #2: And at 4:25 PM, we have another freak blizzard. Go figure.]

Hello everyone!

Ok, I forgot to post yesterday. I made it back to my room around 11:30 last night, and felt just so tired and lazy that I didn't want to set up my computer and pull something from my brain. So this my confession!

Anyhow, there are a couple of interesting posts that I would like to share:

1) Tattoo at graceisthepoint. He talks about a series he did because a large percentage of his church goers have tattoos or are considering getting them. I found this interesting due to the fact that we had a chapel service one day where our chapel director recounted her experience of getting a tattoo at Shotsie's (just for context, this was part of a January class called Ministry and the Imagination where they focused on the body). Apparently, about half of the people who this individual marks are clergy, which I found to be a fascinating statistic. From time to time I contemplate getting a tattoo and what it would be, but frankly I am too much of a wimp to do it, and I wouldn't want to have it fade and blur and look ugly in 20 or 30 years.

2) My fiancé over at Steeple Soapbox has a couple of posts entitled Stop Preaching (Part One and Part Two). His argument is based on the idea of multiple intelligences, and how what we do in worship really only appeals to one or two of these.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Turn Up the Heat!

"There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. The church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society."

- Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 1963

I've been thinking a lot about this quote lately. I can't seem to get it out of my head. Ben mentioned it to me in some context (which I have long since forgotten, though it was only a couple days ago), and it re-emerged again in the OSL morning prayer rite during the readings for reflection portion (Ben had picked that passage). It really strikes me that in the 40+ years since Martin Luther King Jr. wrote these words on scraps of paper and newsprint, nothing has changed. The Church is still reactionary, responding to the culture as opposed to putting pressure on it to change.

Change is only achieved by the application of pressure to a system. Examining this from a physics perspective, if you want to move an object, you have to supply an external force to the system. If you want to change the direction of an already moving object? Apply force in a different direction. You want the temperature to rise? You have to put the pressure on.

In contrast, the Church acts by reaction. The object moves along, and all the Church says is "this object is moving at 'x' miles per hour." The Church may claim that the speed is "too fast" or "too slow" or that the object shouldn't even be moving at all! But, it is a response to what is already happening in society. It doesn't challenge popular opinion; it merely accepts it, and moves along. Or, it passes a resolution that gets buried in a book, and nothing happens.

I wonder if this is because the Church is largely comprised of thermometer Christians. Christians who check themselves against the tides of the mainstream, say "yea" or "nay" and subsequently go about business as scheduled. They may get angry about what they find, but how likely is the average person sitting in the pew on Sunday morning to take that anger and channel it to challenge the system, to initiate change, to put the pressure on? We need more thermostat Christians in our midst to "turn up the heat" and transform the mores of our culture.

Friday, March 02, 2007

From the RevGal site:

During Lent here at Suburban Presbyterian Church, we are exploring the creative and liturgical arts, with classes and speakers dealing with storytelling, iconography, dance, visual art, writing, and so on. The theme is "A Beautiful Thing," inspired by the story of the woman anointing Jesus and his declaration that "She has done a beautiful thing for me." (Mark 14, NIV)

We are working on the notion that everything we do can be considered a beautiful thing--a creative offering to God--whether it's gardening or scrapbooking or accounting or sorting clothes at the clothes closet or child-rearing. And so:


1. Would you call yourself "creative"? Why or why not? Actually, this is a part of me that has taken awhile to claim. I have now come to a place where I can call myself creative, not because I'm wildly talented artistically, but because it's something I love to do. Music helps me stay in touch with my creative side, although I've never before considered it particularly creative. I also like being crafty through cross-stitch and knitting/crocheting (the latter is a growing area). Painting and photography is something I enjoy as well, though I'm not spectacularly great at it...though, as I said, I enjoy it. In thinking about it....I believe I am a very creative person, and I don't give myself enough credit for it.

(Incidentally, I believe everyone is creative in some way...they just need to tap into themselves and find it!)

2. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you currently do that you'd like to develop further. There are so many to choose from! Right now, I would love to develop better skills in photography, especially with old-style cameras with a manual focus. I think it would be great to learn how to develop my own film as well!

3. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you have never done but would like to try. Writing a song. I'm not a brilliant lyricist by any means, but it would be fun to try my hand at writing a piece of music. I've unfortunately let my keyboard skills atrophy so it would be difficult to translate what I hear in my head to notes on a page, but if I play around enough I might be able to do it. Scrapbooking is another.

4. Complete this sentence: "I am in awe of people who can _____________." Write meaningful poetry. I just don't have that kind of way with words.

5. Share about a person who has encouraged your creativity, who has "called you to your best self." (I'm pretty sure that's from the Gospel of Oprah. There are two people (well, three actually).

(1) I took a class in January 2006 called Ministry and the Imagination taught by Dr. Elkins and Dr. Westfield. Basically, it was a week-long seminar where we got to pick a workshop (mine was painting) and talk about the place of creativity in ministry. You can see my project (still a work-in-progress) here.

(2) Ben sparks my creativity and is always encouraging me in my endeavors. He's so darn creative too; it's neat how we sometimes just feed each other in that way.

(3) This person is probably completely unaware that she has encouraged my creativity in any way, shape, or form, but I'd have to go with my sister. She writes incredibly deep poetry that I am always in awe of. She makes me want to be a more creative person.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Day in the City

Ben's Christmas (/Valentine's) Day gift to me was a day in New York City, complete with a matinee Broadway performance, dinner, and time to peruse the city for used book stores (particularly those with a science-fiction/fantasy bent).

So on February 10th, we trotted down to the nearby train station and hopped on a train bound for Penn Station. (It's hard to believe that it was 3 weeks ago!)

Our first line of business (aside from visiting one of the many Starbucks that pepper the streets of NYC for a hot beverage to stave off the cold) was to make our way to Times Square to wait in line for Broadway Tickets courtesy of TKTS. I got to pick, since it was my day. :-) The first two shows I wanted to see either were too expensive or had obstructed views, so I settled on The Producers with none other than Tony Danza starring as Broadway producer Max Bialystock. Actually, he was better in it than you might think!

While in line for the tickets, we took a flyer from an elderly woman advertising a French restaurant named Pergola des Artistes on 252 West 46th. They had a Matinée Special - for $11.95 you could get an entrée, vegetable, bread and butter and a glass of wine (add $5.50 for soup or salad and desert). Everything was superb. Absolutely delicious, and it was so nice to sit down and have a luxurious lunch over an hour and a half. This is my new favorite restaurant.

After that we went to the show, which was very well done. I'm glad I got to see it when I did; apparently it's going off Broadway soon! We sat next to another couple and chatted with them before the show and during intermission; actually, there was quite a lot of chatting going on in our section before the show started!

Next on our agenda was hitting up the Used Book Stores, which unfortunately was a disappointment. One supposed "sci-fi" place was just the back of a record store, another was more about comic books and anime than any fantasy. Strand turned out to be more discounted new books (and the used section wasn't anything spectacular, at least in the sci-fi/fantasy section). Even though the used book store hunting wasn't successful, it was all worth it for the show, the food, and spending the day with my darling fiancé. :-)