Friday, November 24, 2006

Nothing's quite the same...

In the last week, I've noticed a significant number of people in their pajamas wandering around Evanston. More, in fact, than I've seen in the last two years total. I'm sure this is linked to the opening of Cerealocity, or whatever its name is - the new cereal bar in town, where employees wear pajamas to work and customers eat cereal at all hours. My question is, am I just noticing more pajama-clad pedestrians because I'm aware they might be there, or are there actually more around?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What Better Said

I had an inspiration high today looking for a topic for my Anglican Worship paper, and I'm heading into a crash off of it.* So here's another link, one that likely has broader appeal than the last. I stumbled across Kendall's blog yesterday and was favorably impressed (doesn't hurt that she taught at Smith for a while!). I think most readers with any experience of social justice work or any liberal leanings will probably find something familiar in this post of hers.

*For those who're interested, I'm asking "Does the rite of reconciliation have a place in the missional church?" I'm likely to say yes, because of the role of repentance and absolution in Jesus' ministry and that of the earliest apostles, but then look at how the rite itself might better serve a missional church. Input welcome, particularly from those of you with some experience of what a Seabury student means by "missional."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Read this. No, really. Read it. You'll love it. (Well, some of you will, anyway. I'm pretty sure all my readers are somewhat geeky, but some of you might not be this kind of geek....)

Ok, for real this time

The schedule for THIS year's General Ordination Exams is now in fact here:

Tuesday, Jan 2: Morning: Liturgy and Church Music: Limited Resources (Book of Common
Prayer, Enriching our Worship, approved hymnals (yes, all of them))
Afternoon: Church History: Open Book

Wednesday, Jan 3: Morning: Theology: Limited Resources (Bible, BCP)
Afternoon: Contemporary Society: Limited Resources (Bible, BCP)

Thursday, Jan 4: Break

Friday, Jan 5: Morning: Theory and Practice of Ministry: Closed Book
Afternoon: Ethics and Moral Theology: Open Book

Saturday, Jan 6: Morning: Holy Scripture: Open Book

Saturday, Jan 6, 12:30 pm: Rejoice! Rejoice!

There are a couple of things I like about this schedule. One, church history is in a good place for me. It's not the first exam, so I have one to get used to the process, but it's early, so I can get it over with quickly. Two, there's no all-day question. I like that. Three, Scripture is last, and that's an area where theoretically I should be ok as long as I'm not stupid about it. Four, the subjects in which I don't write as well are paired with subjects in which I do write well.

New this year: They're going to be emailing us the GOE questions instead of having us pick them up. On the one hand, that's a quick and easy thing and very logical; on the other hand, I know that at Seabury the wireless is very unpredictable, and I can see this causing a lot of stress for those of my classmates who can't get online as easily as I can. Apparently the administrator will have hard copies in case they're needed, but I'm not totally thrilled about being the test group for a new electronic process. We still hand in the answers in person, though, so at least there won't be stress around trying to upload or attach answers.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

I told my mother I shouldn't play the clarinet...

What is your inner musical instrument?

You're an Oboe. Girl power?
Take this quiz!

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I'm in the brain-dead state that hits right after three hours of history lecture, so I'm going to take a few minutes for this meme. I think it's a somewhat bizarre, but somewhat interesting one - just one word each?

Since I can't put caveats on my answers (so hard for me!), I'll put one here: I'm choosing to do this by word association - so the first word to pop up for me goes in, rather than the word I've thought long and hard about. In other words, they're not necessarily the most accurate descriptors, just the most immediate associations.

Yourself: dull
Your partner: no
Your hair: dirty
Your Mother: small
Your Father: grand
Your Favorite Item: blanket
Your dream last night: forgotten
Your Favorite Drink: wine
Your Dream Car: hybrid
Your Dream Home: light
The Room You Are In: cozy
Your Ex: slippery
Your fear: which?
Where you Want to be in Ten Years? home
Who you hung out with last night: me
What You're Not: energized
Muffins: blueberry
One of Your Wish List Items: RENT
Time: night
The Last Thing You Did: talk
What You Are Wearing: pink
Your favorite weather: smooth
Your Favorite Book?: longer
Last thing you ate?: cheese
Your Life: strange
Your mood: blue
Your Best Friends: smile
What are you thinking about right now?: baptism
Your car: indigo
What are you doing at the moment: theologizing
Your summer: gone
Relationship status: satisfied
What is on your tv?: antenna
What is the weather like: dark
When is the last time you laughed: earlier


I baked scones this afternoon.

I haven't eaten any, because they're for class break.

They're sitting ten feet from me.

It's not break yet.

I'm really hungry....

edited to add: Oh, and I can still smell the scones on my hands from baking them.... And it's still not break yet.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

In the House of Grapes

I'm blogging tonight from the House of Grapes, where I'm poodle-sitting for Maggie while her humans are off at Diocesan Convention. I'd written more to this post earlier, but my battery died faster than I expected and I lost the post. (Really, I ought just to get a new battery - it's now lasting less than 20 minutes. Maybe over Thanksgiving break.) The gist of it is that I find the House of Grapes a very warm, calm, and centering place, despite being made of cinder block. I think it will be a good place to be this weekend. That's about all the quality I can give in a second go at this post tonight. I'll try to think of something more scintillating to offer tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Stand Up

Here's the sermon I preached tonight for Missional Preaching class. I still don't feel like it's really finished, and I didn't preach it exactly like this. I added a little, finessed a little; I think it flowed a little better on my feet. Really it's part manuscript, part outline. But here's the gist of it. More than maybe any other time I've preached, this time I was really overwhelmed with all there was to say and work with, and therefore it ended up on the short side. And yes, you've already heard the opening this week. Anyway....


When I lived in Germany, one of the things that I got asked about was the pledge of allegiance. The Germans didn't understand, in the wake of World War II, how we could require American schoolchildren to stand and pledge blind allegiance, not even to the country but to a symbol thereof. They’d seen how easily that path leads to destruction.

This week my friend Nicole blogged a reminder that it happens every day, that we set ourselves at the head of that path. Nicole is an ESL teacher in Minnesota, whose kids mostly don’t understand the English texts they’re speaking and reading in school. So she spends a fair amount of time working them toward that kind of comprehension. Here’s what she related about teaching them the pledge:

“…even though students are required to say the pledge of allegiance every morning in their classrooms, a teacher can get in trouble for presuming help them to read the words…. Apparently, saying "under God" in school is okay, but discussing why you're saying it or what it means is not…. So essentially, the importance of the pledge, it's [sic] actual relevance to America, is completely superficial- the act of repeating it without comprehension is the purpose, I see now…. I really can't understand why those words are still there, spoken enthusiastically by students who have no idea what they're saying, every single school day.”

Don’t worry your pretty little head about what it means; just fall in line behind the flag.

Sound familiar? “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross; lift high the royal banner, it must not suffer loss.” The royal banner must not suffer loss. Of course, it’s supposed to represent the gospel and Jesus, but the focus is the banner. Also it’s questionable what we mean by the gospel not suffering loss – isn’t suffering loss a part of the Christian life – certainly a part of Jesus’ life? But – what are we doing? Are we reducing the gospel to one more banner behind which we’re supposed to line up?

No wonder the Christian mainstream and secular leftists have so little patience for the idea of “standing up for Jesus.” There’s a particular kind of conservative Christians who have coopted the idea – the ones who look around at distress among nations and tend to say, “that’s good! that means Jesus will come back faster! let’s help the distress along!”
Now, it’s not that the rest of us don’t see the distress. We’ve certainly got distress among nations in our day. I’m not sure any day has been without it. But mainstream and lefty types are usually appalled - I think rightly - by the attitude that our response to distress should be one either of coerced acceptance of the gospel or of fueling distress in order to bring about the second coming. That kind of response isn’t compassionate, and it’s not biblical. It’s not the way God’s people respond to disaster throughout Scripture. But we in the mainstream and to its left usually want to hide under the bed, theologically speaking. Yes, we want to fix the earthly mess, but when it comes to making theology of it, we hide and say nothing instead of giving an appropriate alternative to the ultraconservative response. And we’re pretty good at letting ourselves off the hook about it.

Too bad the gospel doesn’t.

Admittedly, this particular gospel reading’s been tainted by centuries of royal banners whose own importance comes to overshadow that for which they stand, but the gospel tells us nevertheless, “Stand up.” “Stand up and raise your heads.” Not “stand up and cheer and then go back to fueling more distress.” Not “fix what you can and ignore the theological ramifications.” Stand up and raise your heads. Look around.

Don’t pretend the distress isn’t there. Don’t stop responding to it. We still need earthly compassion.

But take a minute to stand up and look around for the Kingdom of God breaking in among distress – because Luke’s Jesus tells us that the distress is a surefire sign that the Kingdom is around somewhere.

So, in other words, go ahead and “stand up, stand up for Jesus.” If we know what we’re about when we stand up, we can raise our heads unashamed of the gospel.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

In praise of heat and light

You've heard me write here before, I believe, about my deep gratitude for the days when we have heat in the winter. Tonight I want to praise whomever invented the sticky heating pad thing. Seriously. The idea that you take the plastic off from around something, peel off the back, and have a perfectly safe and useful heating pad that can go with you anywhere? That's just brilliant.

Also, I'm tickled pink that Seymour left the hallway lights on late. Usually I come out of class at 9:30 and all the lights are off in the hallways between class and my suite. I trot back and forth turning them on and off so that I'm never in the dark but I'm also not leaving them all on, and that's a pain. (Plus, I don't love wandering about dark buildings alone in general.) So I was thrilled tonight just to go home like I would any other time of day.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Why the Germans are confused

When I lived in Germany, one of the things that I got asked about was the pledge of allegiance. The Germans didn't understand, in the wake of World War II, how we could require American schoolchildren to stand and pledge blind allegiance, not even to the country but to a symbol thereof.

Today, Rosynic doesn't understand either, and I'm with her. If we're going to require or expect kids to say the pledge, can't we at least allow ESL teachers to explain what the pledge means? And if we're going to be that fussy about using the word "God" in classrooms even for discussion, then maybe we really shouldn't have it in the pledge. At any rate, I'm definitely against requiring anybody to say something without allowing them the option to learn what it means.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Between yesterday's retreat and today's train ride to church, I've been reading Henri Nouwen's Out of Solitude. In the third meditation, he tells the story of an old Notre Dame professor who said, "I have always been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I slowly discovered that my interruptions were my work."

I'm often pretty good at remembering this, especially since I'm in a field that's sort of composed of interruptions, but since I'd already given the last two days to other things (retreat, dinner with friends, sleeping enough), I'd really been counting on getting a fair amount of school work done today. That hasn't happened - in fact I've accomplished nothing that's directly related to a class (though I have managed a little Greek). In a lot of ways, this has been a weekend of interruptions. But Nouwen is fresh in my mind, so I'm choosing to reframe this weekend. Instead of complaining that I've gotten nothing done, here's what I have accomplished today:

~I made it to church, something that wasn't a foregone conclusion when I went to bed last night. While there, I filled in as torchbearer/server for the first time. I'd rehearsed the process a couple of weeks ago, but this isn't your standard torchbearing routine, so I wasn't totally on top of things - still, I made only one mistake, thanks to a very helpful and experienced lead torchbearer/server. Doing this for real for the first time also reminded me how often we take things for granted once we've done them for a while, and how teaching and training need not to assume that kind of basic knowledge right off the bat. Two years at Seabury has taught me a lot, but my instincts are still pretty much formed by a low church childhood and a background in stage managing dance - both pretty forgiving environments.

~I finished the last bit of Out of Solitude on the way home from church.

~I had four good phone conversations. One was general catching up with an out-of-town friend who's visiting soon. One was with another out-of-town friend whose grandmother isn't doing so well, so that one was less joyful, but I'm always grateful when my friends feel free to call on me for help of any sort. One was with my father, who gave me a chance to be proud of him and my mother. They'll be putting up my friend this week while he visits his grandmother, and I'm proud of how natural that kind of hospitality has become for my parents. Maybe it was always that natural, but I don't remember growing up that way, and it's always exciting to me to hear my parents view their house as something to be shared. The last call was from a friend who's just out of town for a little while, but whom I've missed seeing and hearing from over the last week. It was great to laugh with him some, and to remember how soon all of the Plunge groups will be back. I can't wait - this year's Plungers are a very cool bunch.

~My bathroom is cleaner now than it's been in a while. I don't like cleaning it at all, but there's always a sense of satisfaction in having such a clean bathroom. My sink especially had just not looked quite clean enough lately, and it's nice to see it scrubbed down again.

~I took time to eat when I was hungry, despite the fact that there were other things to be done, and I ate simple, decent food. I sometimes let myself pretend that other things are more important than taking care of such mundane bodily demands as food, and I recognize that that's not my healthiest tendency. Today I paid attention.

In light of those kinds of interruptions, I'm more willing to say that I made the most the time I had this weekend. No, my history and Hebrew aren't done, and I haven't made any progress on my end-of-term projects, but looking at my list I don't see anything that's not important. Sometimes there are more things that qualify as important than there is time for them. The work always gets done, in the end, at least here in the stained glass penthouse, but I don't always manage time for these others. I'll get back to the work now, but with a sense of gratitude and not resentment for the fullness of the weekend.

How do you say "accent?"

Quality posting doesn't mean I can't also post quizzes...

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland

The Northeast


The South

The West


North Central

What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

This would be no surprise to my college roommate, who always maintained that I put the same "a" in "drama" as in "apple." (I don't, by the way.)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

So much for that

Well, it turned out that I was away from my computer all day yesterday, so obviously I won't make the post-a-day thing for the whole month. But if Lent has taught me nothing else, it's taught me that you get back to your commitment right away after you break it, rather than giving it up altogether, so here goes. This will be short, though, because I got hit with a cold this morning and my focus is not what it might be right now.

Today, I spent the day at a retreat in Barrington, along with a few friends. During the closing Eucharist, I have to confess I heard little of the sermon. My friends said it was good, but I wasn't listening. Instead, I was watching a dancing evergreen.

Yes, a dancing evergreen - someone had turned on the heat right at the beginning of the sermon, and it was blowing the branch of a very delicate, almost fernlike, evergreen that lives in the back corner of the chapel. Now, I've been feeling just ever so slightly ashamed of how little I've grieved this year about the anniversary of my friend Emily's death Nov. 3. But as I was watching the fronds (?) of the evergreen dance, I could almost hear her say to me, "Don't worry about it. You're doing other things right now. But you and I have a date for right after you get here."

I'm utterly incapable right now of expressing in words how I felt just then, so I'll just say it was really great to "hear" from her in that way, and to be reminded that it's ok to heal.

And now I'm off to bed, even though it's only 9 pm, in hopes of being ready tomorrow for a full day of church, cleaning, and homework.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Two, two, two obsessions in one?

I've had babies on the brain for a long time. I mean, I was always one of those little girls who wanted to hang around babies, who looked forward to babysitting (the younger the better), etc. But for the last five years, really, I've been increasingly aware of my desire for children. Now, I am very aware that that's a terrible idea just at the moment: I'm a single young woman living in a seminary dorm with an income of maybe $3000 a year if I'm lucky.* But it's there. I am, at this point, actively seeking out ways to alleviate this intense desire. I spend two worship services a week holding the organist's baby; I'm starting to think about saving for adoption; I enthusiastically support my married friends who want babies soon.

On a completely different note, I've also been impatient lately with my knitting. I like the blanket that I've been working on for the last couple of years, but it's a huge project and rather unwieldy. It's also not so much a real pattern as it is knit purl knit purl, and I've been wanting to try out some other patterns.

Ergo, I've decided to take up baby blankets. Baby blankets are smaller and more manageable than the big woolen monster. They have fun colors and patterns. They have practical uses. I can try things out. I can use up yarn that I have lying around. And it satisfies a tiny part of my baby longing.

Now if I can just keep myself from knitting instead of doing homework....

*In my head, Marge Simpson chastises Bart "Don't make fun of grad students! They just made a terrible life choice!" every time I state my income.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My Mission

I am a child of Seabury, and therefore I know that I have no mission, but rather seek to participate in God's mission.

But if I weren't, it would be my mission to convince people that NOTHING reverses, lessens, reduces, or protects us from the risk of death. Risk of death is 100% for all living things, barring Jesus' return in our lifetimes. Today's BBC News reports: "The scientists estimated resveratrol reduced the risk of death in the mice by about 31%, a point similar to the lifespan for the standard diet mice." Were I this person's editor, I would note that it ought to report that resveratrol reduced the risk of dying early, or that resveratrol can extend expected lifespan, or something of the sort. This was a running gag between my critical care supervisor and me when I did CPE, as he would often ask during spiritual care rounds,"Is this person dying?" and I would steadfastly claim that all of us were dying, but that I had not the power to predict time and place, before conceding that some looked nearer death than others. In this case, my position was perhaps a bit extreme. Nevertheless, I maintain that we need to remember just how little power we have to predict time of death for any person. People who look on the edge of death turn out not to die for weeks, months, or years; people who seem perfectly healthy get hit by cars, or shot, or drop dead of undetected heart problems, or whatever. Either way, we will all die. The Feasts of All Saints and All the Faithful Departed seem as good a time as any to remind ourselves of our own mortality and how little control we have over it.