Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Interesting Bible passage

In looking up a passage for my class, came across this:

"Romans 12:17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"[4] says the Lord. 20On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."[5] 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

I'm sorry, didn't someone say George W. Bush was a Christian?

Lizard Eater

Am changing the name on my blog, just to make it slightly more difficult to immediately discern my identity. Not that I really care if my secret identity is known; I'm not exactly Clark Kent. But there's a certain amount of freedom in anonymity.

Why Lizard Eater? Pretty simple. In A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, Helmut Thielicke refers to this time (a new theology student) as being intellectual puberty. Your voice is changing, there's changes going on in you that you don't understand, etc.

My dad refers to puberty -- regular puberty, that is, not theological puberty -- as the lizard eating stage. You know how, in springtime, cats that have access to the outdoors start chasing lizards and losing their winter coat and they just look real scrawny and ugly? He says girls do the same thing, about 12ish. Their parts just don't seem to fit together, they get a scrawny, hungry look, they're awkward -- they're in the lizard eating stage. I've seen pictures of myself at this age, and I certainly can't disagree. When Chelsea Clinton was that age, and being made fun of, he said, Now that girl's going to turn into a beauty. She's just in the lizard eating stage.

I don't think I'll physically be getting scrawny (I could only hope!), but I imagine this'll be a time of philosophical and theological awkwardness. So be it.

I wear it with pride. Lizard Eater.

Monday, August 30, 2004

This might be interesting ...

And by interesting, I mean ... "um, how's this going to play out?"

My professor seems nice. He explained that this is a class in systematic theology. He also said you have to believe in the trinity to be a Christian. Um ... guess I won't get into any discussions with him about Michael Servetus.

This is my first graduate level class, so I feel lucky in that he seems to be willing to do a certain amount of hand-holding. He lectures so that students can take notes word for word ... coming from being at UT, quite the novelty. And he allows you the option of giving your term paper rough draft to him for notes before doing the final paper. Will definitely avail myself of that option.

Very into scripture as being the Word of God that we need to consult for all meaning.

Guess I won't tell him that I think Arius and Origen were cool dudes.

God and Bazooka Joe

Picked up some Bazooka Joe bubble gum for my son last week. A comic and a piece of gum -- the simple joys of life.

Just grabbed a couple of pieces to keep me from diving into something more caloric. Forgot that the comic also has a fortune.

"You are anxious to achieve something very important. You will succeed."

I start my first seminary class today and my mind is all full with the many stages I'll need to go through to become a minister. How I'll do this with kids ... get an M. Div, take the UU classes, do an internship, do a hospital chaplaincy, go before the RSCC and the MFC ... and then I get that fortune.

Heh. Would God/the universe/et. al. really speak through a Bazooka Joe fortune?

Unpeel next piece of gum. Read fortune.

"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth!"

Okay, God. Gotcha. And thanks for chucking me under the chin. I needed it.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Introspection: Struggle between anti-elitism and frustration with complacency toward mediocrity

This is an issue for me. An area in which I need to come to some understanding, and an easing in judgment. Or do I. And there's the rub ... I don't like elitist attitudes; I think they're subjective and judgmental. To whit, the "Oh, I never watch tv. I just listen to NPR; tv is an idiot box" attitude. I think it hurts our religion. We accept our smallness by patting ourselves on the back and saying, "Well, quality not quantity."

But equally ... no, even more so ... I dislike the complacency with mediocrity that our country seems to be swimming in. Our boys and girls are dying in Iraq and it looks like they were sent there for no good reason -- "change the channel and turn on Survivor, Herb, and bring me those new Cattle-Ranch-Xtreme Doritos." Our popular tv shows and movies all trump good ole down home mediocrity over intellectual superiority. We are constantly being shown a puffed-up PhD who knows nothing of substance being triumphed over by a street kid with an 8th grade education. It is one thing to see that there is beauty and wisdom in simply living a normal life ... and quite another to feel that there is no personal need to better yourself through continuously educating yourself.

So, I'm torn one way and another -- and wind up judging both sides. Those who pat themselves on the back for never eating Velveeta and those who refuse to consider trying Thai food ... I judge you. Is it merely that I feel judged by both? By one, for being so "common man" and by the other, for being so ... well ... elite?

This is something I need to get to the bottom of.

And just for the record ... I like boiled peanuts. But I also like a glass of the Rabbit Ridge 2002 LPR Special Reserve Paso Robles.

Divinity Nerd

Registered yesterday, so I am officially, now, a seminarian. A divinity student. (That makes me think of the candy.) A ministerial student.

K-- asked me how it felt to be a seminarian. "Well, I feel about 1000 bucks lighter ..."

Got my first textbook -- Christian Theology, an introduction by Alister E. McGrath. Devoured the first chapter last night on the Patristic period last night. Reading about the debates that happened between 100-500 AD, that set up the Christian doctrine -- fascinating. Of course, being the heathen I am, I'm rooting for the heretics and seeing the "great Christian theologians" as the bad guys. But what great heretics! Like Justin Martyr, who saw Platonic philosophy and Christ's message as two different ways of finding the same wisdom. Completely shot down by Augustine, who was horrified by such talk. And then, the pig, he declared that all pre-Christian culture and thought was ripe for appropriation by saying that those pagans who came up with wisdom were stealing it from God's mine, since they used it for non-Christian purposes, so the Christians were correct in taking it back and using it for the power of good.

Oh, hell.

I'm a divinity nerd.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I'm IN! I think ...

Well, I'm in, I think. I got a call back from The School. They've received everything except my recommendation from B--, which I know is on the way. Was invited to come tomorrow to register, which I'm going to attempt to do WITH L-- and a backpack stuffed with distractions. Saturday, 9-12, is orientation, then class starts Monday. Am excited, scared, all that. It feels like I'm on the right path ... hopefully, I will have a better feel after I began my class.

B-- clued me in that at some point in the process, I'll need to go before a district sub-committee, which will apparently grill me things before I can become a candidate. Then, at the end of the process, I'll be quizzed by the MFC about my knowledge of religions, UU stuff, and situational role-plays. Have been perusing the 34 page list of sample question. Oh, ye Gods and little fishes.

Have been made acutely aware of how very much I don't know.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


Am having a hard time remembering the inherent worth and dignity of a nameless faceless person out there.

Got in the car with Lily this morning to run an errand -- then realized that most of my back window was gone. The rest, completely shattered into a cobweb.

Apparently, some yayhoos drove by and --get this-- used a pachinko ball and a sling shot to bust out our window. The officer who came by explained that it's quite popular, especially on minivans.

$350 to get it fixed. Would love to have the opportunity to get to know the punk that did it; have him over to my house, make him a nice dinner, let him meet my kids -- allow him to put a face to this stupid stunt. $350 ain't chump change around here.

Really, really pissed.

Oh, and I left a message with the grad school. They haven't called back yet.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Another of ours goes to Iraq

Well, D-- came up to me at church and admitted that he's going to Iraq. Looks like he's going to get a job with KBR (Halliburton) and will be going over for a year. Leaving behind D-- and their kiddos. Just like B--, who is over there now, leaving behind C-- and their three little ones.

I want to say, "Why, why," but I can't, because I know why. Good money. Great money, really. Both were in situations where they had lost jobs, and just couldn't get back in place. We, who are not in that position can say, "I would never ..." Of course, "I would never" is a great luxury. You don't know what you would do until you're in the situation.

So, I set my attention to the ones left behind and how we can help them. That has to be so hard for them. They can't comfort themselves with the thought that "Well, he's going over there to defend his country." (Granted, it is probably hard for those who love our actual servicemen and women to say that and believe it right now.) It's a business decision. Economics. They're going over, not to protect their families in some ideological way, but in a real, concrete way. They are risking their lives to take care of their families, financially.

Is this a male thing? A throwback to the nuclear family? Both have spouses who work full-time. But in today's economy, it's just so hard.

I am so incredibly lucky. And I am always aware of it. I have the luxury of "I would never ..."

Friday, August 20, 2004

If you're unhappy where you are ...

If you're unhappy where you are -- maybe, where you're living, or where you're working -- take a look around. It may be that you're there *not* for you, but for you to help someone else. You might be really needed.

Not that you shouldn't try and change your situation. But if the change just isn't happening, or is taking a while, look deep into the faces of those around you. The single mother next door, the quiet coworker. You might be sent there to help them through a difficult time.

The anxiety monster

Don't you hate it when you feel anxious for no reason? I mean, you can always *find* a reason to be anxious. So, you're sitting there, with a roiling stomach, and you say, I must be feeling this for a reason. So you go down the laundry list. Kids? Husband? Laundry? Bills? Church?

I haven't heard from the school yet, maybe that's what's causing it. Or maybe I just need to eat more breakfast.

My 8 y.o. son has this, too. We're working together to come up with a way for him to control it on his own. The "deep breaths, think of a happy place" plan wasn't working, so yesterday, I was hit with inspiration.


Boggarts are creatures in Harry Potter that don't have power in and of themselves; their power is to take the form of what you're most afraid of.

To beat them is simple -- laugh.

So, Son and I went through an exercise. He visualized "the anxiety monster" (apparently, it looks something like a shock-tart creature with a lightening spine) and then we talked about what would make the a.m. look funny. First, he put him with frilly underwear on his head. Then he had him sing and dance. He saw the monster look embarrassed and then he watched him shrink, shrink, shrink. He said he felt much better afterwards.

Well, I have something good to think about -- last night was a roaring success. We had our first "Views and Viewpoints" movie night at church. Showed "Outfoxed" for free, sold popcorn for $1 a bag. Had 25 people there and a quarter of them were guests. Whoo-hoo! Charged $2 per child for babysitting, though I'm hoping we'll get to where the money made from refreshments will pay for babysitting.

Haven't heard from the seminary and I know what the anxiety is from. I need to call them and see what my status is. They've cashed my registration fee check, so I know my application got there.

Will wait to get the mail, then call.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Aha! Mercury in Retrograde!

Okay, I don't know anything about astrology, but there must be something to this whole Mercury in retrograde thing. Anyone slightly close to the edge of normalcy has jumped the chasm and into downright freaky. That's a clinical term, I believe.

Here's what I snagged from another blog:

On August 10th, 2004, Mercury turns retrograde again, sending communications, missed appointments, mail and the www into a general snarlup! This awkward period begins a few days before the actual turning point (as Mercury slows) and lasts for three weeks or so, until September 2. It finally straightens out on Sept. 14, bringing things back to normal. ...
In general, Mercury rules thinking and perception, processing and disseminating information and all means of communication, commerce and transportation. By extension, Mercury rules people who work in these areas, especially people who work with their minds or their wits: writers and orators, commentators and critics, gossips and spin doctors, tricksters and thieves. Mercury retrograde gives rise to personal misunderstandings; flawed, disrupted, or delayed communications, negotiations and trade; glitches and breakdowns with phones, computers, cars, buses, and trains. And all of these problems usually arise because some crucial piece of information, or component, has gone astray, or awry.

Aha! Hmm. Liking the idea of telling K-- that "I'm sorry. I'm afraid I can't talk to you until September 14, at which point you will hopefully revert to normal. Or your permutation thereof. I'll see you then!"

Actually, it's been a good week for me, developmentally. Was able to finally get a handle on dealing with issues, focusing my thoughts back to the good things happening in our church, then letting go of the extraneous.

Growing a church ... smile, answer, keep going. Keep smiling. Don't look back. Realize that there will always be a Back to Egypt committee in every church. Smile, answer, keep going. Keep smiling. Don't look back.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

My children are introduced to death

Well, Sally, our 10 year old cat, suddenly became sick. The Husband took her to the vet last night and said it was cancer or something autoimmune. She was going very fast, and the vet recommended euthanasia to stop her suffering. After a couple of phone calls back and forth, we agreed.

Very sad and I've been weepy since last night. How little critters can get into our hearts!

I let the kids sleep, of course. This morning, the 5 y.o. was awake, so I explained to her what had happened. She considered Sally to be "her" cat, so this was hard. I told her that Daddy was going to bring Sally home so we could have a funeral, and that's what you do when someone dies. (Sally is actually in our freezer awaiting interment, but I was not going to explain THAT part.)

She didn't seem to really grasp the concept of death, so I tried to explain that Sally's soul -- the part that made her walk, and meow, and be alive -- was gone, and that Daddy was just bringing her body home.

So sorrowfully, she asked, "But not her head?"

You know, sometimes, in the very middle of a sadness, humor presents itself. Had to actually look away to regain my composure before telling her that Sally's head would still be there, and attached.

So, tonight, the ministerial aspirant leads her first "funeral."