Sunday, August 28, 2005

family, history, family history...

I'm enjoying my vacation, as you can tell from the lack of posts. This morning, though, I wanted to be in Evanston.

See, if I'd been in Evanston, I would have gotten a good sermon and Eucharist. At my home parish,* I got a Lesser Feasts & Fasts history lesson (with a plea for more deaf priests attached at the end) and morning prayer. Eucharist and good preaching... daily office and history. Eucharist and good preaching... yeah. I've got nothing against either the daily office or history - they're just not what I'm looking for in my main Sunday worship service.

On the other hand, our rector did a lovely brief service for transferring my grandfather's ashes from the unmarked columbarium behind the main altar to the new columbarium in the back of the chapel, where he and my grandmother will eventually share their double niche, with their names on the front. And, you know, I like my parish.

Besides, my New Orleans family has reported in - they've migrated to northern Mississippi, just outside Memphis. They'll still be wet, but they'll be safe and wet. And really, that matters a lot more than what kind of church service I got this morning. Right now I'm praying for those that are still in town - and praying that the dome holds up.

*I'd give you a link here, but my home parish currently has such an abysmal website that I don't dare. It's been utterly useless for a while now, and is just starting to turn around. At least we've stopped the false advertising (we used to have lots of useful-looking dead links).

Thursday, August 25, 2005

look how smart i is!

Some of you may remember that in May, I posted to sing the praises of a fairly new Berea coffee shop, The Book & Bean. I'm back again, this time to report that I'm not the only one doing so - Book & Bean was voted Cleveland's Best Coffeeshop of 2005 in the Cleveland Free Times Reader's Choice Awards! Not only is that cool for the Book & Bean, but it's a pretty big deal that Free Times readers would pass over all the trendy, hip places in East Side suburbs to pick a coffee shop found only in Berea - hardly the sleepiest town around, but hardly the most happening either, especially for Free Times readers.

Monday, August 22, 2005

vacation post

Yes, indeed - for the first time in ages, I can say I am on vacation. I am at my parents' house now for ten days of useful appts (eye doc, dentist, massage), relaxation, and playing with kids in my mom's new PE classes. Then I'm off to St Louis for five days to play with friends.

All this means that I will probably not post every day for the next two weeks (not that I always do, but still). I could post twice a day or I could go a week - it will vary greatly, I expect.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Not a city girl

I want to go back to spending my summers out in the woods. There may be more animals out there to deal with, but at least I know the protocol. I cannot figure out city animals. They are entirely too bold, and I can never tell if, for instance, a skunk is going to ignore me no matter what I do or lift his tail and spray if I move another muscle in any direction. Also there are entirely too many skunks in this neighborhood to begin with. Don't they have some sort of predator around?

a very long day

Yesterday felt like a very long day. And by yesterday, I mean Thursday/Friday/Saturday.

Thursday I went in for my last day of CPE, but left early to come back and see Susie and Si. I got home late-ish, then Friday got up and did a couple of Practical Things before heading downtown to hang out at the Art Institute, have dinner with friends, and see Tripp's show. I realized around 10 as Jeff and I were leaving for the show that I was going to have to take the L home alone at 1 am afterward, so Trish and Tripp were gracious enough to give me lodging overnight. I got back to Evanston in time to change and brush my teeth before heading back to Andersonville for a bridal shower, then went to Home Depot on the way back and helped Hope and Andrew paint the Canterbury office until about 11:30. When I got home at about midnight, it felt like I'd been gone since Thursday morning.

60 hours is a very long day indeed.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Sorry, Frank - Susie and Andrew pointed out today that I missed Judges and Method, which is edited by Gale Yee.

Add one to the total of books coauthored by women.

(Thanks for the thoughtful comments, y'all - I will respond more fully when I'm not quite so exhausted. Keep them coming.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

you are what you read?

Feminism isn't new to this blog. Neither are books. And I've occasionally commented on both at once. But G. Brooke has inspired me today.

A while back, I commented that of the 200ish books on my shelf, 32 are by women - counting several just by Madeleine L'Engle and a few specifically about women - and relayed Hope's comment that that's probably more than most seminarians have. More recently, Hope and I were discussing how little we read at Seabury that's written by women. I suggested that, in my experience, at least some of the faculty make a sincere effort to include works by women. Hope reminded me of my 32 book statistic and I went home and looked at my shelf - and I was even more dismayed:

**In my one year at Seabury, I've been assigned 46 required books, 10ish recommended books (there may have been a couple others I didn't actually buy), and one assignment where we had to pick one of three books to read.

**Of that count, 4 required books, 2 recommended books, and one of the three possible choices for the assignment were by women. 3 more required books were coauthored by women. That's about 1/8 women, 7/8 men; 1/11 women and 10/11 men on required books.

**The 4 required books authored by women: Women in Travail and Transition; Understanding Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality; Preparing and Evaluating the Liturgy; Soul Feast. In other words, mostly from disciplines examining the "softer, gentler" side of priestly formation/theological study, rather than the "harder, more academic" disciplines. None of these four books came from classes that might be offered in the Smith College Department of Religion & Biblical Literature. It's cultural studies and prayer. That's not to say that we don't need to hear what women have to say about liturgy, prayer, gender studies, pastoral care, etc. - or that women have had an easy time breaking into those publishing fields. But they're still areas that have opened a little more readily to women. Of the three coauthored by women, one is on race, one is on systematic theology, and one is the sayings of the desert fathers and mothers (so you can guess how equal the writing in there is). And incidentally, of those four books, most of my class pretty well dismissed two of them - just didn't like them at all.

Fewer than 10% of our required books were by women. Half of those that were, students deemed to be subpar.

I want to know why. I know there's still less out there by women than by men. I know we read articles by women, and that's great, but when I want something on baptism or Jeremiah or Calvin, I don't look back through my syllabi and files unless I have to - I look first to my bookshelf. I know there are classes where primary source readings will just be mostly by men - most of the church history primary sources, for instance. I understand that sometimes you can look and look and just not find things.

But I will no longer be satisfied with that answer. I have heard it and found it false in too many other situations. I have heard professors acclaim the work of this or that female theologian/scholar outside class. I have read excellent articles in class by women who I know have also published books. There are books out there. I'm not even asking for equal press time just yet. But it is ridiculous that I have taken 14 classes here and only 5 of those syllabi have required books by women (if you count systematics as one of the 5 but not the desert fathers & mothers). It is ridiculous that I can't assume that any of the books I'll be assigned this fall for ethics, preaching, and congregational development will be by women. It is ridiculous that the prize for "best gender balance" goes to Systematic Theology, where one book was coauthored by a woman, two were a reader that included articles by women (but not as editor), and two were just by men - that this one class makes me feel like there might be a place for me if I chose to try writing and publishing.

I know most Seabury faculty never read this blog, and I don't want it to appear as though I'm speaking particularly to those who do. Nevertheless -

Seabury faculty: Where are the books by women? Who on your syllabus teaches me not only about biblical studies and theology and pastoral care and history, but also that I too can write and publish - that if I have something worth saying, someone might listen? Who on your syllabus brings a female perspective to your subject? When I look on my shelf for a book on your class's subject, because I trust that you have taught me well and your materials would be worth reusing, what will I see that was written by a woman?

It is not too much to ask that every class at Seabury include at least one book by a woman author on its syllabus. Not a reserve reading, not an article, a required book. Make us buy one more book if you have to - if there's simply nothing on your syllabus that a woman has said as well as the man you have there now.

I know I don't have much power to change this. But I will no longer give adequate or excellent ratings for "gender balance" on evaluations simply because we read articles by women, or talked about women, or read books by men about women. I will no longer consider it adequate unless the class syllabus requires at least one book by a woman. If that means no class is adequate in this regard, so be it - I will not engage in "relative evaluating." I encourage my classmates to join me in this.

I want to see women on my shelves.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

props to raisin and susie

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

I can dig that. Lupin is a good teacher and a good friend. Also the actual letters don't surprise me in the slightest - I never know whether it will be J or P, but P has been more frequent, especially in the last five years.

(And see? I'm not Hermione!)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us

Reverend Mommy shares a sad story today. Apparently a 70-year old man walked into a hospital, up to the ICU where his wife was a patient, and shot her and then himself. Her recovery had not been going well after several weeks and apparently he decided to take matters into his own hands.

I think about the patients in my unit at LGH, the surgical intensive care unit. I think about the patient who died this weekend when they withdrew life support, after over a month on the unit. I think of his family, people of great prayer and passion. I think about the traumas that came into the ER just this afternoon: two kids on bikes, two adults in cars, and a little boy whose sister and grandma also came in from the same car accident. Some of those folks will be spending some time in our critical care units, including one of the kids. I think of the family of the brother/sister/grandma, also people of deep prayer, and of their pastor as he laid hands and prayed over the children.

So many people. So much pain.

And even as I type this, there are sirens passing my window, presumably on their way to the local hospital.

Will you pray with me?

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. We lift up to you especially those lying in intensive care units and their families, as they wait and hope for your healing grace.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

nine on-calls: check!

Last night, I had my last on-call shift at LGH. A friend told me at one point, "God won't let you get through CPE without doing what you need to do there" - and for several people, that's meant that their last on-call is the time when they get that call they've dreaded all summer - the dead baby, the gunshot wound, the organ donation, whatever.

Last night, I wrote a page and a half of my final self-evaluation, watched an episode of West Wing, and got six hours of sleep. Oh, and I took a valuables envelope from ER to security, and began expiration paperwork and called the son to let him know his mom had died (she was in hospice and it was expected). I had two pages all night - both at the same exact time, so that one ended up not needing me by the time I got there.

Apparently, what I needed to get out of last night was sleep. I left the hospital this morning, went to church, went home and wrote the rest of my eval, went to church again, and just finished the last peer evaluation. I did not take a nap - sure, I'm a little tired on only six hours, but I did not have to come home and collapse.

It was a great night. Cross your fingers that the next five days will follow suit.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Just saw this on reverend mommy's morning prayer post for today:

Lord, when they came for you in the garden, you experienced the pain of the betrayer’s metaphorical knife in the back. Lord, he was someone you loved and I ask myself how could you bear it? Have mercy on me, even though what I experience is only a shadow of what you felt. Help me to forgive -- especially those who I love and are close to me. Keep me from participating in sin by giving me forbearance. Grant me the wisdom to find a way to repair or transcend the situation. Help me be a solution to the problem and not part of it.

Lord, I do not understand all the things that trouble me now. Therefore I thank you for these problems, because it has brought your will into sharp focus, it has brought me closer to you and to others, and it teaches me my need for you. I ask for your grace to persevere in faith as long as this stress in our lives shall last. I ask for wisdom to know when and how to be helpful to others -- and how to ask for help when I need it. I hand it over to you, so that your will be done. Thank you for you loving care, which I know endures forever. Amen.

It seemed worth borrowing today.

deeply tired

Worked harder this morning than we've worked all summer put together in CPE open group. Which was good. And tiring.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

everybody's doing it...

Well, all my St Louis blogging friends anyway. It's one of the sillier blog fads, but it's mindless, and that's what counts, right? Or something.

Directions: Type "(your name) is" with the quotes, into a Google search then pick out your favorite 10 responses. Copy, then repost your responses:

1. Beth is a blogger's blogger whose lucidity and uncommon insights offer a sophisticated alternative to the din of sarcasm and self-righteousness of Wonkette-wannabes and the Instapundits-in-training.
2. Beth is getting airplay on 103.1fm in Los Angeles!
3. Beth is short, Stout, remarkably ugly, incredibly pixilated, and only makes a noise when she's hit - sort of "ugh"
4. Beth is simply the most elegant small squareboat we know.
5. Beth is the most stereotypically ideal sister
7. Beth is sanctified for our benefit
8. Beth is a Grand Officer in the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights Templar of Jerusalem and is one of the few women so honored on their own merit.
9. Beth is always willing to stand her ground in a debate and would make a good negotiator.
10.Beth is adamant about the fact that double process blonding is the only guaranteed method to achieving a balanced, rich, blonde result on Level 4 (light brown) color or deeper.

Wind in the Door

Does anyone in the area have a copy of A Wind in the Door that I could borrow? Mine is in Ohio, and I'm trying to write a clinical presentation on Naming, Not Naming, and Un-Naming.


(Also, someday I'll start writing real posts again, but right now I've got a lot of writing for the end of CPE - which is eight shifts away.)

Monday, August 08, 2005

quick plea

I confess it - I have bowed at the altar of convenience.

That is to say, I have finally given in and set up an RSS reader.

Therefore, if I read your blog (or you think I might) and you don't have a feed enabled (which means you're probably from or associated with St Louis), please enable it. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I can explain elsewhere.

Of course, if there's an RSS-blocking conspiracy targeting St Louis, I completely understand, and will take that into account. If not, though, it would make my life easier if y'all could click those little boxes.

And of course, making my life easier is everyone's first priority in life. ;)

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Someone explain this

Why is it that non-profits can't bring themselves to ask for competence, let alone demand excellence?

Really. I don't f**king get it. Why?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

maybe that's why

When I am looking for theologians to stimulate my creativity, theologians who are contemporary enough to speak to these last years of our troubled century, I turn to the Byzantine and Cappadocian Fathers of the early years of the Christian era, becuase their world was more like ours than the world of such great theologians as Niebuhr and Tillich and Bultmann, who were writing in the framework of a world which was basically pre-World-War-II, and definitely pre-the-splitting-of-the-atom. In the first few centuries A.D., Rome was breaking up; civilization was changing as radically as is our own; people were no longer able to live in the luxury they had become accustomed to, as the great aqueducts and water-heating systems broke down and the roads were no longer kept up. Such people as St. Chrysostom, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa and his brilliant sister, Macrina, were facing the same kind of change and challenge that we are, and from them I get great courage.

~Madeleine L'Engle
Walking on Water

Friday, August 05, 2005

Why did I go to a women's college?

Meant to post this a couple days ago... just read "Tuesday" for "today."

AKMA links today to a site that seems to be the organizing focus for female bloggers, commentary on their recent BlogHer conference. I'd love it if the site had a clearer, more accessible "who we are and what we're about" summary, but I didn't log in here to critique I logged in here because this entry on BlogHer and this review of the conference fired me up.

"Women bloggers, how do you want the world to learn about what you're creating -- if at all? Do you want to play by today's rules or change the game?"

Why did I go to a women's college?

In all honestly, I went there just because it felt like the right place to be. I went there in spite of the single-sex factor, not because of it. But like any good Smithie, I can now quote you reason upon reason for why Smith is and must remain a women's college. I know what the studies say. I spent two years at Smith, one at the University of Hamburg, one more at Smith, one near Washington University in St. Louis, and one at Seabury-Western. I've seen the difference in how women act and are treated when men aren't in the room to insist that they know more or should talk more.

But those are the reasons why we need women's colleges, not why I went to one. I'll be the first to admit that the single-sex environment just doesn't seem to work for everyone. Personally, I never had a problem in high school with speaking up in class. I never noticed teachers treating me differently because I was female. It never occurred to me to be intimidated by my male colleagues. I didn't need a women's college education to give me that kind of confidence. Maybe because of Girl Scouts, maybe because of my family, but I grew up confident in that arena.

So why? Why did I go to a women's college? Reading the debate question on BlogHer, I realized something: I didn't go to a women's college so that I could quote men the rules of their own game. I didn't go to a women's college because it would teach me to compete with men on their terms. I didn't go to a women's college to learn how to succeed at the status quo.

I went to a women's college because I was attracted to a place where, as Halley experienced, "There was no one-upsMAN-ship, there were no egomaniacal rants, there were no pissing-contests, no penis-metrics, no Q&A hogs. The people in the room seemed to have two completely outlandish assumptions ... that everyone should have an equal voice and that we were actually there to LEARN SOMETHING, not to compete against one another."

Sure, Smith was a competitive place. But we were competitive on our own terms. We made the rules of the game. No one of us got to have things all her own way - that's not how life works in community. We still had to learn to give and take, when to compromise and when to hold our ground. We still struggled to decide what the rules should be, when they should change and how, and so forth. It still wasn't easy, and it still wasn't always pleasant. But women designed the game, and women wrote the rules - and when they stopped working for women, women rewrote them.

This is all to say that today, I realized that I don't want to spend the rest of my life proving that I can piss as far as a man can. I'm not a man. Pissing long distances is not my particular gift. Maybe that's why I went to a women's college - so I wouldn't have to pretend to be a man and could just live my life on my own terms instead. Terms defined in community with other women and men, hopefully in conversation with and obedience to God, to be sure, not just my own whims - but not just the terms handed to me by men, who received them from generations upon generations of men, isolated from women. I don't just want to rewrite the rules because I'm young, dumb, and rebellious. Truly, I can be all of those. But sometimes I need to rewrite the rules because the terms I've been offered just don't work. If women are to have a voice, if any group with a history of oppression is to have a voice, that voice has to include reworking the system and rewriting the rules. It can't just be choosing vanilla or chocolate from the same old ice cream machine.

silly songs

Lentils, tomatoes, cucumbers, and rice,
Slices of lime, gin, and tonic on ice,
Bare feet and shorts, conversations with pings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Madeleine L'Engle and Jessica Stein,
Fresh strawberry jam, dark chocolate and wine,
Days when my Netflix the mailperson brings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the pager beeps,
When the sirens wail
From the landing pad,
I finally come home to my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


I have a post (or maybe two) in progress on my reaction to the BlogHer site and women's education. For tonight, though, I'm not tying myself to the computer - because Hope is back in town, and that trumps blogging by far.

Monday, August 01, 2005


It makes me sad to give up a book in the middle, especially a book I want to read. Reading for fun is such a rare treat - I hate to waste time reading half-books. On the other hand, I hate to waste time reading things I'm not enjoying.

This has happened to me twice now this summer. The first book I probably haven't given up entirely, nor have I reached the middle. I just don't much like it, and I don't mind - I had not set my heart on liking Indecent Theology. But it makes me very sad to give up on Augustine's Confessions in the middle. I haven't read gobs of Augustine, but I've read enough to know that I generally really enjoy reading Augustine. And I'm just not enjoying Confessions at all. On the other hand, I'm pretty convinced that this is because the language is pretty antiquated, and I'm not always convinced that the translator and I are acquainted with the same rules of grammar. So as much as I want to read it, I've decided to hold off on the last seven books until such time as I can find a more recent, or at least more readable, translation. (There's no publication info in my copy, except that it was printed in this country, but the intro is by a gentleman who died in 1950.) I don't like giving in to "old language = too hard" - but I'm just not making sense of it, and I've come to expect more pleasure and edification from my Augustine reading than what I'm getting right now.

off again, on again

It's not that I've never had a day off before, or that I've never worked too many days in a row. But I'd definitely forgotten how much energy it gives me to take time off once in a while and recuperate. I worked a shift this weekend still, and I worked today - but I have more energy now than I've had in weeks. It doesn't hurt knowing that I have only three weeks left - that's 16 shifts, two clinicals, one evaluation, one spiritual care rounds presentation, 7 round trip bus rides, etc. It's not that I got an extraordinary amount of sleep this weekend - turns out sleep wasn't actually what I needed, overall. I still don't relish the thought of floor work and random visits - but I'm not actively avoiding them now. In fact, I made more initial visits today than any other day this summer, I think.

Huzzah for time to watch movies, read books, paint, write, and ponder! And here's to a month off in a few weeks, with more time for movies and books and art - and family and friends!