Monday, January 31, 2005

Not an excerpt

This book calls it a "significant gain" that the 1979 prayer book made confession optional. Bah! I say. Bah! I don't care if the earliest Eucharistic rites did not include confession. Confession may be more important now than ever, in our individualistic approaches to life in general and religion in particular. It does not behoove us uncritically to adopt every aspect of the early church's liturgy. The various and sundry traditions of the Church Universal may all inform our understanding and theology of worship. Confession does not eliminate the communal nature of worship, particularly when we remember that our sin, like our confession, may be corporate as well as individual. Sure, confession isn't the Main Point of Worship, whether it's a Eucharistic service or not. That doesn't mean it's superfluous. Bah! I say again.


"[Luther] even wished that the service could be said and sung in German, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew on successive Sundays"

I wanna go to that church! That would be the coolest thing. Ever. (Ok, so maybe an English-language sermon would be nice... but dude....)

I will now try to stop posting excerpts of my homework. It's just so amusing tonight...

Tee hee.

"In the fourth century, Augustine found it useful to develop a very hard-nosed concept of sin in his battle against that congenitally optimistic monk, Pelagius."

Cracks me up.

Right. Sorry. Going back to my homework now.

Reasons I am grumpy today.

~ I am very tired.
~ Safari is not working.
~ I did not get to do homework this weekend.*
~ I'm starting to get a cold.
~ I still have to reschedule my last CPE interview.
~ My classmates occasionally say some very silly things.**
~ I have to go to Use of the Voice without having pointed any of the Sunday collects yet.***

I can't think of any others at the moment. If it made any sense at all, I would paint a little rain cloud on my stomach and dye my hair blue.****

*Admittedly, I did have a lot of fun this weekend, and a couple of really good conversations.
**So do I, but at the moment I'm not speaking, so I choose not to be annoyed by myself.
***Yes, this is tied into not doing homework... but I choose to list it separately. So there.
****This is a Care Bears reference, not a sign that I've gone completely insane.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


For the record, I think it's rather unfair to hand a student 40 pages of short stories on Wednesday afternoon and ask that they read it by Friday afternoon for a retreat. A retreat! I hope they're good. Then again, I've been assigned to a car that's mostly people I don't know for the drive up, so maybe I'll read - wait. It's January in Chicago. It will be more or less dark by the time we leave at 4 pm on Friday. I cannot just read it in the car. Darn. Ok, I'll read them tonight. I am not reading for Gospel Mission tonight. I have finished my paper on the potential divine sexual violence in Jeremiah, and I am leaving heavy topics alone tonight, which eliminates large amounts of reading about racism.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

To Whom It May Concern

I have just called every doctor who was on my list to call, including the attending at ENH who has more power than I do to get me an earlier appt. at Rush. I have not talked to any of them, but I have called them. I have also called everyone I can think of to try to find the Massachusetts records. We now believe they may be in my closet at my parents' house, though we're not sure. And with this blog, I have now updated anyone who might want to know that I've done this.

I'm a good girl, I am.


I like spirituality for ministry class. It's a lovely class. But today I feel the need to be more actively turned on than this session is oriented to. I suspect that if I were really to engage in centering prayer right now, I would fall asleep, and spend the rest of the day foggy. This would not be useful in finishing my Jeremiah paper tonight, for which I need all the mental clarity I can possibly summon. So I'm blogging in order to keep my body alert and poised for action rather than relaxing. Eventually we'll move on to small groups, which should make for some excellent conversation today, since only one person in the group has done the reading as assigned. The rest of us either have read this stuff before but not recently, or have skimmed it briefly, or have simply ignored today's reading. Just one of those weeks... Jeremiah trumps rereading basic course assignments, even if I last read them three years ago in a different language.

I will be happy to have this Jeremiah paper written. It's good thinking, good theology, good conversation... but it's kicking my butt to write. Wrestling does that, I guess. I'm hoping I don't have to stay up all night finishing it. Really, I'd like to be able to do my Gospel Mission reading for tomorrow... but even reading I've never read before gets trumped by the paper due tomorrow.

Ok, we're actually going to do centering prayer now... I should stop typing.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Drip. Drop. Drip.

Civil engineering is not for me.

I'd never really thought about it before, and one wouldn't necessarily expect that I would have this revelation at seminary. Seminary life generally doesn't have a lot to do with civil engineering. But today, I got some hands-on educational experience in designing a water control system. It started several hours ago with the realization that a blizzard and the sound of rain on the windows are somewhat incongruous, and the discovery that the snow was blowing right through my (closed) windows and creating a lovely stream running onto and over my windowsill. I'm all for streams and rain and all those lovely things - but I prefer that they stay outside. So for the last several hours, I've been off-again, on-again engineering a combination of cups, bowls, flower pots, and paper towels to contain the flow of water. It's off-again, on-again because I'm so utterly not an engineer of any kind, and so my setup is only mostly effective. About every 15 minutes to an hour, I start hearing water dripping onto the floor instead of into the pots, and I have to go make an adjustment.

On the other hand, such practical experience is not totally unrelated to a priestly vocation. We'll file it under "useful skills for a parish priest to have when the sexton has left/doesn't exist" and ignore, for the moment, the myriad question marks about what I'm actually supposed to do once I become a priest.

I'm supposed to be writing a newsletter article on the role of the community in baptism right now. The article itself shouldn't be that hard, but somehow, despite my affinity for the early church, I'm having a hard time weaving in anything about how the early church informs this theology. I'm tempted to give up on baptism for tonight and just stick to reading for the Jeremiah paper that's due this week also. Given my theology of the goodness and trustworthiness of God, there's a certain irony to the fact that my first three biblical studies papers here are about a) the idea that God commands/condones/etc child sacrifice (Isaac), b) the idea that God lies, and probably c) the idea that God might be described through metaphors of sexual violence against God's people. Certainly not the topics I would have chosen on their own, but that's where I've ended up with these three texts.

Weekend Update

It occurs to me that I should update here. Somehow, despite over a week's absence, I don't have much to say. Chalk it up to less than a full night's sleep in someone else's bed.

Wait. Let me rephrase that. Chalk it up to less than a full night's sleep, alone, in a bed that happens to belong to someone else.

Yes, that's much better.

I should be cleaning right now, which is why I'm sitting here telling you all nothing. My common room and bedroom are both ridiculously messy right now, and there's a pile of laundry which MUST be done today. This is what happens when I suddenly leave for the weekend the same day I had meant to clean and don't come back until Monday. Now there's an extra week's mess sitting around... ai.

Excellent - I've successfully blogged myself into total dissatisfaction with the mess, and am now motivated enough to start cleaning. I'll try to have more to say next time around, and say it sooner.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

isn't it ironic?

yeah, i really do think... I made it through four years of Smith with no real problems reconciling my feminism and my Christianity. You'd think it would be easier out of the Smith bubble.

I identify as decidedly feminist. One of the most valuable lessons of my Smith career was that feminism is not anti-men - it is pro-women, and that until women have achieved equality in social/political/religious/etc arenas, that means working for women's advancement. Feminism doesn't mean believing that women are better than men - it means asserting boldly that damn it, we are every bit as valuable. Etc.

I also (duh) identify as most decidedly Christian. As far as I can tell, integral to this are such ideas such as Christ's divinity, God's authority as superior to ours, etc. I believe that the Church is a Good Thing and has Good Things to teach us, even if it "hath erred". I believe that the Scriptures are a holy thing with valuable content. Etc.

But I hate feeling pressed to choose. I hate being told I can't have it both ways. I feel torn when I have to read about feminist spirituality and spend the entire article scrawling, alternately, "Yes!!!" "No!!!" "Yes!!!" "No!!!" in the margins - not because I'm overexcited, but because this is actually important.

I am acutely aware that organized religion in general and my own in specific have a long and tortured history of oppression against women. I know the Church has participated in robbing women of their stories. I agree that certain parts of Scripture have been coopted for patriarchal purposes or have explicitly androcentric messages. I know that the Church continues to be patriarchal, and I don't want to condone it.

But neither do I want to relinquish the Church. I value the canonical Scriptures and I trust that the Spirit was involved in that process. I don't want to pick and choose what I like, what makes me comfortable, and "balance" the rest with noncanonical texts. I'm all for balance. But balance involves acknowledging that just as our male kin are not the only ones with worth, and may not act as though they are, so too WE ARE NOT the only ones with worth, and WE TOO may NOT act as though we are! It involves a recognition that Christian tradition, fraught as it is with patriarchal, hurtful elements, is still of value.

I will with enthusiasm accept responsibility to speak for myself. And in so doing, I refuse to hand over my theology and my spirituality to the feminist movement. I claim my right to be formed by the Church, past and present, in addition to being formed by feminism. Just as I refuse to give up the Church to those who disagree with me about sexuality, I refuse to abandon ship just because the ship has traditionally been captained by men. I will stay on board, and stay feminist at the same time.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Lesson in sacrifice

So yesterday I signed into my aol account, which I only check weekly or so here, and found three emails in a row, all sent within 24 hours of each other, from camp people. One was a news update from a coworker, which was pleasant, though it made me more aware of how much I'll miss camp this summer. Another was from a woman at the council office, asking me if I knew yet for sure about this summer, whether any of last year's staff might want to return, how they would go about that, etc. It's an email she shouldn't really have had to write; I ought to have been in touch with her by now about my intentions to do CPE this summer, but I've been putting it off. The third email was from my former boss, the former outdoor program head at council, forwarding me a job description for a position as day camp director at the local CYO camp. That was flattering, if not as tempting as returning to my own camp program.

The net result of all this, though, was to throw me into more of a tizzy than it probably should have. Not only has Girl Scouting been a formative influence in my life - not only do I adore my camps - not only have I been blessed with great coworkers and campers there - but camp work is the other arena in which I seem to have gifts, and to which I've ever felt any real sense of call. Having these three emails come at me at once, reminding me that camp is a place where I'm good at what I do and where that is to the benefit of others, put me closer than I've been in a few years to doubting my call to be here. It's sort of a strange thing, since my sense of call to ordained ministry has continued to be strong here and a new sense of possible call to scholarship and teaching in some form has begun to emerge so palpably in recent months. But this clump of emails threw me for a loop. Saying no to camp this year is harder than even I realized it would be, in ways that go way beyond fun and nostalgia.

As I've thought about it, the best explanation I can come up with for this strange juxtaposition (the emails came right in the middle of scheduling CPE interviews for this summer) seems to be some sort of object lesson in sacrifice and temptation. My faith tradition teaches me that the life of Christian discipleship involves sacrifice, and the discernment process makes it clear that this certainly ought to be true of the choice to attend seminary. I've had to sacrifice relatively little to be here - the opportunity for a foray into comfort and stability, perhaps? certainly I haven't had to choose between moving away from my family and moving my family, or abandon a career that was either lucrative or rewarding, or any of the other major sacrifices many of my classmates have made. Probably it's just my turn to have to sacrifice something I love in order to do what I really believe God is calling me to do. Quite possibly this is an exercise in resisting temptation - I will admit that on a certain level it's tempting just to postpone CPE another year and return to camp this summer. It's tempting to let myself be flattered by my coworkers' and supervisers' regard for my work and to choose the known over the unknown, especially when the known is such a rewarding and useful enterprise. But I also know that resisting temptation is part of the Christian life, and I suspect this may be a grand opportunity for resisting what is both obviously and subtly tempting. Like all true sacrifice, though, it's hard to do. It's hard to give this up, even when I know that these are gifts for which God will likely find a use in or around the vocation to which I've committed.

I suspect also that I'm not making much sense any more - it is nearly midnight after a full day, after all - so I'll leave it at that for now, and go to bed with a prayer for grace to accept this willingly and with a glad heart.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

still tomorrow's going to be another working day...

I am deeply, inexplicably, exhausted. It's very strange. After my last post, at the end of an invigorating week, I went down to the chapel to work on my project for Spirituality for Ministry class. I've chosen to take some time roughly twice a week to go into the chapel after it's abandoned and do some barre work (maybe some floor work, we'll see) and see what comes of doing some ballet work in a space that's an established worship space and in which I'm used to praying. Anyway, I went in last Thursday evening, a bit restless but with plenty of energy, and half an hour later was completely wiped out. This is extremely strange to me, both because half an hour, even when I'm out of shape, really shouldn't make me that tired, and because I have yet to recover that energy. At certain points this weekend I've had more energy than others, but overall it's been very slow, and the last two days have felt like swimming through time. I'm taking today to hole up by myself and do my work quietly in hopes that tomorrow I'll have more energy again.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Extremely unmotivated

I have no desire to do classwork tonight. None. There's just no need. Don't get me wrong; my classes are great, and I love my academic work - it's just that I also love things like sitting around drinking beer with friends. Unfortunately, everyone seems to have either ordination exams (requiring good rest) or Gospel Mission (requiring reading) tomorrow morning, or else they're at an ordination. No one seems to have had the foresight to know that I would be in a playing mood tonight and that they should have done tomorrow's reading already. Sheesh.

I tried to poke around Emily's new webring for blogging Episcopalians tonight, but I couldn't open the link. Oh well.

I do have things I could be reading for next week or research I could get a jump on for my paper due at the end of the month, and that's probably what I'll end up doing tonight... but it doesn't seem terribly important when today is Thursday and nothing, nothing at all, is due until Monday afternoon. On the other hand, I suppose one of the lessons I ought to have learned from last quarter is to get my work done when I have the chance, since apparently I can't ever count on having the time when I ought to be doing it.

Hmm. I've just realized that the lyrics to "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream" are neither "prayed for prayers were prayed" as I thought for many years, nor "prayerful prayers were prayed," as I more recently thought (but still found rather repetitive), but "grateful prayers were prayed" - a significant improvement.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Brr! tells me that it's 26 F outside, with a wind chill of 14 F. That's not unreasonably cold for January, but when I feel it coming inside while I sit on my couch by the space heater, I'd just as soon it warm up. Well, actually, my first choice would be for someone to wave a magic wand and make radiator heat reliably comfortable. Luckily, also tells me that it's supposed to get progressively warmer over the next 10 days. I like snow; but I like to be toasty inside when it's snowing out, not thawing my toes on the space heater.

I did not, however, have to walk downtown tonight, for which I am grateful. Jane was headed in for incidentals anyway and gave me a ride. So now I have more verticality pills, and should therefore be remaining vertical for at least another month, and I didn't even have to walk into town in the cold and dark to get them.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

And we're off!

Winter quarter is officially underway. I've been to each of my classes once and they all seem lovely, challenging, and interesting in the appropriate ways. Well, I haven't been to Gospel Mission yet, but being as it's part two of the course, I suspect I have a fair idea of what the course will be like. My coursework is well in hand (it darn well better be at this point in the quarter) and I'm hoping to start settling into an actual schedule soon... once my non-class classes finish arranging themselves. I also got a call from one of my potential CPE (summer chaplaincy) sites and I will be scheduling an interview with them soon... again, once I know how my non-class classes have arranged themselves. It's rather a lengthy interview, as interviews go (2-2.5 hours), so I'd rather not try to guess at available blocks.

And for those who were concerned, my GOE charges are both alive and well. They have survived their first two days of exams, including a doozie (sp?) this afternoon, and they have slept, drunk (water, soda, tea, etc) and eaten (including copious amounts of chocolate) at regular intervals. I assume my long-distance GOE-taker is also alive and well and full of chocolate, but I haven't talked to her since yesterday. Tomorrow they have a day off to recoup before plunging back in for another two days.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

She's here!

Kirsteen is now well and truly moved in, and the suite is all the better for it. Not only is Kirsteen herself great, but she brought with her a new and better rug and an easy chair and ottoman, so the common room looks and feels much homier and softer now. So that's good anyway.

Other than that, looking forward to classes starting again tomorrow and getting back into the normal rhythm of things, more or less. I should look and see exactly which class it is that I have tomorrow afternoon.

Saturday, January 01, 2005


I've been making a mighty effort to get and keep the common room clean for Kirsteen's arrival tomorrow. Despite what some of you might be thinking, this is in fact meant to be a gesture of hospitality, not a sadistic deception. But it's definitely against my nature - while my living spaces in the last few years have been a definite improvement over my high school bedroom, I do like my things scattered about. I can't stand filth, especially in kitchen and bathroom areas, but I enjoy a healthy clutter. So I'll be glad when Kirsteen moves in - not only because I like Kirsteen, but because living in a room this clean is starting to drive me crazy.