Friday, September 21, 2007

Bit thickheaded, here

So, in Stephen Schwarz's Children of Eden, the snake sings a song called "In Pursuit of Excellence" in which it tries to convince Eve that she ought to eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. I've been listening to this music for almost ten years now, and I just now noticed that the snake is plural in this song. That is, I'd noticed that the show's creators have in mind that multiple people will form the snake, with multiple voices, and in that sense I noticed that the snake is sort of plural. But when I've done/seen the show, it's only been played by one person, so maybe I didn't think about it as much?

Dunno. But I'm listening to it now as I read an essay about Genesis 1-3, and I just noticed that in the show, God is very much singular - played by a single man, always called Father - and the snake is very much plural - enough so that it says "be in pursuit of excellence, like us. Yet, in the Bible, God moves back and forth between singular and plural in these chapters, where the serpent is never referred to as anything but singular.

I'm inclined to think still that the snake is plural because it's a good stage device to use multiple people, and with multiple voices it makes certain sense for those voices to say "us." But now I'm wondering whether Schwarz (or someone involved in the show) reversed that plural with any intention....

Monday, September 17, 2007

Have I mentioned that I like having a kitchen?

I do. I like it that an hour before my housemate has class, we can say "Hunh. What do you want for dinner?" and she can commission me to do something with couscous and asparagus, and I can go throw together whatever we have* and make a delicious dinner in time for her to eat before class.

Someday, our kitchen will have in it a working oven, and then we will be happier still - but there's a lot you can do with a range. Yay cooking.

*Tonight: asparagus and tomato sauteed lightly with onion, garlic, basil, and oregano, and topped with toasted pine nuts, over a bed of whole wheat couscous.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Fall Semester Gender Balance Award

After the rush of the summer, and a break from both blogging and school, I'd nearly forgotten one very important ritual for the beginning of the term: our Gender Balance Award. Luckily, today one of my professors said to me "I thought of you when I made the syllabus. I didn't want to be on your list again."

So here, gentle readers (and forceful ones), is this term's breakdown, now that I've finally figured out what classes I'm taking.

Anglican Polity: Five books. The Constitution & Canons of the Episcopal Church don't really have an author, per se, but I'm comfortable claiming that the majority of deputies and bishops voting on said laws are men. Certainly those who developed the originals were men. As it happens, the other four books are all by men as well. (One is a compilation, but it's edited by men and I don't think we're reading anything by a woman.) Rating: Unacceptable.

Pentateuch: Four books. One by a man, one by a woman, one by a man and a woman, and one by two men. Rating: Good. Not totally in balance, but a little better than just acceptable. (It's not part of this particular award, but bonus points for racial-ethnic balance as well as gender balance on this syllabus.)

Relevance of Judaism in Modern Times: Um. We don't actually have books for this class. (ducks) But it's a really good class, I swear.

Thesis: Um, it's my thesis. It doesn't really have a syllabus. Neither does it have books, yet, though that will change. But it's not really a contender.

If you've been paying any sort of attention at all, you'll know that Pentateuch is the clear winner of this semester's Gender Balance Award! Congratulations, Frank!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Things I Never Would Have Believed #49, 854

I never, never would have thought I'd be relieved to hear that Madeleine L'Engle had died. But when my mother called tonight with That Voice, and said "Honey, I'm not sure if you've heard yet, but..." I was expecting way worse. I was expecting to hear that someone younger, healthier, and more immediately and physically a part of my day-to-day life had died.

Two hours later, though, I'm deeply sad. (I know this is a couple days old for many people; I've been offline a lot.) I knew she'd had health issues for the last five years, and that the chances were slim of her ever finishing her (rumored) novel about what happens to Meg Murry after her kids have grown. Still, there's something very final about death, even with resurrection to lean back on. And despite my initial reaction that she wasn't a part of my day-to-day life, she's had more of an impact on me than most people who I've seen more of.

I first read A Wrinkle in Time when I was 8, because she was coming to preach at our church. I don't remember a whole lot, but I do remember certain pieces of both the sermon and the adult forum that I skipped Sunday School to hear. I don't think I remember any other sermons until I get to about age 15 or so. I was enraptured enough with both her presence and her writing that I read the whole rest of the Time Trilogy right off, and kept reading her stuff as I could find it. There's now very little of her work I haven't read, though there's still a little left. It's impacted my writing, my theology, everything. In fact, it's quite possible that A Swiftly Tilting Planet may have saved my life at one point in college.

When I moved to Germany for a year, there were five books I decided I couldn't live without: the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Certain Women, and Little Women. Four of those were (at least in part) because of Madeleine L'Engle - despite excellent experiences in the rest of the church, my attachment to the Bible and the daily office come largely from her work.

I'm not sure what to do with this; not sure how to say thank you and good-bye to this incredible woman. I'll say compline tonight, and go to morning prayer tomorrow, and that will be a start, and I'll probably start rereading a lot of her stuff in the coming days and weeks, but all that only does so much.