Tuesday, December 14, 2004

"Historical" Jesus

Also from last night ...

Other: went off on a vent last night to Husband about the utter lack of logic that some of these students are willing to interject into their theology. I'm not talking Unitarian-type logic. I'm talking within the bounds of the Bible. To whit: I was in a group last night with two guys (incl the one who wanted my notes) and we were to write up our beliefs on the historical Jesus. The characters in this were The Pastor, The Islander (I don't know where he's from) and me, The Heretic.

The Heretic: Okay, so we need to write up our beliefs [I'm playing good Christian girl, of course] about the historical Jesus. Let's start pre-birth.

The Pastor: Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Heretic: Well, this is supposed to be on the *historical* Jesus.

blank look

Heretic: You know, the "historical" Jesus we've been reading about. That which we have some sort of record for.

The Pastor: But we have a record. We have the Bible. That gives us our historical Jesus.

Heretic sighs and moves on: Okay, do we want to put that Mary was a virgin? We read last week that "virgin" was perhaps mistranslated from the original text.

The Pastor: Of course she was a virgin. It's in the Bible.

Heretic again sighs.

The Islander, looking in his bible: And he grew up in Nazareth.

Heretic: Okay, remember that. We're going through chronologically. Anything else before he was born?

The Islander: See, right here, he grew up in Nazareth.

Heretic: Yes, yes, but right now, in our chronology, he isn't born yet. Okay, now his birth. What are we going to say about that?

The Pastor: What it says in the Bible.

Heretic: Yes, but it's only described in Luke and Matthew, and they have contradictions. For instance, in one, there's the shepherds, in the other, there's the wise men. So which are we going to choose?

Islander: Both of them. They happened at different times.

Heretic: Okay, well, where are we going to say he was born? In Nazareth or Bethlehem?

blank look

Heretic: Okay, I'm going to say Bethlehem, even though some historians doubt it, because in order to fulfill the Old Testament prophesy, Christ has to be born in Bethlehem.

Islander: Herod called to kill him.

Heretic: Okay. Now, Herod was only mentioned in one book. Do we choose to include that in our belief?

The Pastor: It's in the Bible.

Heretic: Ohhhhkay. So then where did Christ grow up?

Islander: Nazareth

Heretic: Okay, when did he move to Nazareth?

blank look

Heretic: We've said that we believe in the Herod story. If we accept that, then we have to accept that Jesus and his parents fled to Egypt.

blank look


Monday, December 13, 2004

Jaw dropping

Um, am I a grade prude?

Had two "interesting" things happen tonight at class. First: had a substitute and learned what my theological limits are. Taking notes and parroting back something I don't believe -- sure, for the sake of education, can do. Have a "socratic method" prof (who is fundamentalist Christian) who wants to delve into our personal theologies (and then argue with them)? No. Just ... can't ... do ... it.

Then, after class, we students were chatting about how our regular prof is going to email us the questions for our final (take home) exam. A person in the class who I've fairly well respected, who happens to already be the 50ish pastor of his church, comes up to me with that casual air of "of course you will" expectation and says, "hey, email me your notes."

I'm sure my jaw dropped.

"ALL of MY notes?"

"Yeah, sure."

Note: I do not mind sharing notes with someone who has missed class. In fact, I copied a month's worth of notes for someone who had foot surgery AND her dad died.

But he hadn't missed any classes.

On top of that ... there were two other gentlemen hovering over us, ready to add their names to my little distribution list.

"Uh, no," I laughed it off, like SURELY he couldn't be serious. "If you have any holes in your notes, email me." Went on to say something about how I can't trust that I have my notes accurate, would hate to pass on errors, etc.

"Oh, go on," he says. "You take the best notes in the class."

Did not say what I wanted to which was: "Um, maybe you should rethink copying my notes, since I'm not what you would classify as a 'believer' and am in fact, a heretic and a heathen to boot."

Just busied myself and left.

He's a preacher, I mentioned that already, right?

Monday, December 06, 2004

.4 to .9

I always think of myself as a "glass half full" kind of person, but there are things where I certainly go the other way. To whit: I need to see a perionatalogist. My early blood tests came back showing that this pregnancy has an increased risk of Down's syndrome.

How much? Well, it's still less than 1%. I went from about a .4% chance to a .9% chance. Went from 1/233 to 1/129.

So, next week, I have an appointment; first for a level 2 ultrasound, then a possible amnio ... although, the way I'm feeling now, I want to go ahead and get the amnio. Be done with *that* particular stress for the rest of the pregnancy. Husband has to go with me, in case I get an amnio, since I won't be able to drive after. Not sure why, I guess because there's a risk of leaking from the injection site and pressing the gas pedal would disturb that or something.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln ...

Friday, November 19, 2004

Cool tshirt

A friend of mine, feeling the same as many of us after the election, created a cool tshirt and some other merchandise:


Looks like it might be a hot item.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Blah, bleaugh, blues

Okay, so today isn't my best day. It's not a bad day, just a bleaugh day. Literally, as I'm gagging with morning sickness. Not throwing up, just gagging. Ick. No relief in gagging.

And of course, this is the day after the election, and it looks like Bush is going to walk off with the election. AND major Republican control of Congress. What all will be done in the next four years? It scares me, so I tell myself, look, that just means that we'll have a huge backlash in 2008. Hillary for President! But that seems like a long four years. And a four years that we will be paying for, for generations to come.

And this isn't even a partisan fear for me ... it is particular to this administration. They seem to have absolutely no compunction about doing things with or without the support of the smart people within their own party. Last night, they said something about McCain running for president in 2008. Right. You really think the neo-cons and ultra-conservatives will go for that?

I should have known this was going to happen. I have been an observer of Bush's journey from the first governor's race. "Surely, he can't beat Ann Richards."

Ugh. I need to eat something, but can't find anything that appeals. Ready for the first trimester to be over.

Okay, happy things ... had our annual Halloween party this past weekend. Much good food, good friends. Introduced several folks to chocolate cake shots, though I abstained, of course. The Husband made up three pitchers of apple margaritas that all disappeared. Note for future: disposable Solo cups will not hold a cinnamon/sugar rim. We wound up using my non-disposable hard plastic cups from the Girls Parties. Big hit of the party was "Bacon and Beagle Dicks" which I renamed "Heart Attack Bites" as this was an intergenerational party. Wrap little smokies in a bit of bacon, pack into a baking dish, then cover with brown sugar and bake. Egad!

And I went to Rice U last week to use their library for my term paper for Systematic Theology. I am blessed to have the best friends in the world (certified by non-partisan pollsters) and one of them, K, drove me over and dropped me off (parking is a b*), then took my toddler to the zoo while I worked. Then picked me up to go to our favorite grocery/lunch spot. There needs to be a word beyond "mensch."

Term paper is about the intersection of philosophy and theology from an Augustinian perspective. Need to think of some modern day philosophers. Maslow is good, but stuck after that. Oprah? Dr. Phil?

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Terrific quote from A. Powell Davies

OMG I love this quotation. I used it this past Sunday as part of a homily during our "Revival"/canvass service.

"Why should any of us be confined within a single area of religious culture? When I read Amos and Jeremiah, I say 'Would to God I were a Jew.' When I read the Parable of the Good Samaritan, I say 'Would I were a Galilean.' When I read the 13th of 1st Corinthians, I wish with all my heart that I might be a Christian after the manner of the Apostle Paul. When I think of Buddha and his Eightfold Path, I say, 'I, too, would be a Buddhist.' And when I remember the trial of Socrates, I say in awe but with exalted spirit, 'Oh that I might be so brave a humanist.' And thus at the end, there is nothing I can say but that, like Emerson and Channing, I want to live with the privilege of the illimitable mind.”
-- A. Powell Davies

I'm memorizing it, I love it so much. Sounds even better being proclaimed from the pulpit. Sounds good said aloud, period. Try it, any reader. Read it out loud and feel the thrill ...

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

pant, pant, pant ...

Taking a breath between projects. Managed to have the canvass dinner (I'm canvass chair this year, as virtue of being "past-president ex-officio member of the board") the same weekend I needed to be working on my midterm. Ah well. Both are over with now. The canvass dinner, held at our church this year, was apparently a success, with good reports from everywhere. A lot of paddling beneath the surface of the water, as it turned out that the restaurant catering the event could NOT do vegetarian fajitas, let alone vegan sides. So, kept that caterer for the carnivores, found another restaurant that catered to veg-heads. And a third quotient, the bakery who made the tres leches cake. Phew.

As to the midterm, I have no idea if I did well. It seemed all the questions were from the notes, not the book, so I just repeated back everything the professor said. We'll see.

And, oh yes, morning sickness. Well, last time for that. Went to a new doctor and am fairly pleased. She was willing to spend more than 5 minutes with me and discuss my bizarre-rare condition (intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy). But if I could ever find a doctor that didn't make me feel like a hypochondriac for being well-researched into my own health, I'd marry 'em!

Boy, I'm whiny today!

So, projects now are my term paper (how philosophy can help us to understand theology, an Augustinian perspective), a new web design client, and of course, the infamous annual Halloween party. Luckily I have many good friends who are bringing food! Bleaugh ...

Thursday, September 23, 2004

On typing and learning

I'm a good typist. The one thing that slows me down from being a great typist is that I was out sick in high school on the days when they learned how to type numbers. I never got the practice for that, so it never became a natural part of my finger-mind connection.

So, 20 years later, I still have to look to make sure I'm typing the correct number.

I wonder how many other things are like that. You miss out on two days of information and it affects you the next 20 years ... or rest of your life.

Granted, if it were that important, I could have taught myself how to type numbers. But at some point I learned to 10-key, and with a computer keyboard, that usually works just fine.

A "work around" -- that's what we call it in the computer world, where rather than fixing something, you simply find a way to work around it; an alternate way to take care of it.


Monday, September 20, 2004

Emotionally hurricaned

This -- going to divinity school -- is much more emotionally charged than I expected. I feel stripped raw, and completely alone, which I am. I know it's for a reason, the being alone. It's following the pattern set by me going to GA completely alone, not even meeting anyone I knew for dinner. I know that it's part of the process, for me to have no one whom I can turn to for guidance ... heck, the fact that we lost our minister the month I started school -- obviously, I need to be completely and utterly alone, with no support, so that I can find what I need within me.

It's damn hard.

Okay, so here's the deal ... imagine that there is this one thing that you feel so strongly, passionately about ... so much so, that you get called to make it your mission in life.

BUT ... in order to make it your mission in life, you have to enter a world where all the inhabitants not only negate this one thing you believe in so strongly, they vilify it. Most of them without even realizing that it is *your* religion. AND, you have to learn to speak as they do, seeing what you believe in so strongly through their eyes, justifying their beliefs.

It's exhausting, draining, all those words.

Oh, and you feel that the leader of this little world is hoping that you will change, turn away from what got you here in the first place. So he drops hints about how what you believe is mortally and morally wrong. All said with compassion, and in a gentle voice. He wants you to be Saved.

I know, I know, I know that this is good for me and part of the plan ... strip away, God. Strip away. Oh, and thanks for my copy of InterConnections arriving today. It was a nice sign to pick that up from the mailbox on my way in the house.

Oh, a bit of levity. As I was driving home, I thought with some exasperation, "Can you believe it? I actually feel physically ill from all this!" Then the rational part of me pointed out that, No, it's morning sickness. You haven't eaten in 5 hours.


Saturday, September 18, 2004

Fourth and Goal!

Am pregnant with fourth and last.

(B, if you're reading this, I haven't told anyone. Please don't share.)

Even though it was planned for, hoped for, still had an hour or two of shock. Reminded myself that it's all part of the plan, I'm in a marathon, not a sprint ... and it is part of the plan. Figured from the get-go that I'd be graduating in about 6 years, which is when It will begin kindergarten. Not that I'm a control freak or anything.

Have only shared it with The Husband and the adopted grandma. Both happy, of course, although the latter appeared to levitate. So good having nice friends.

Morning sickness has kicked in a bit, but am hoping it won't be too bad. Am telling It that I simply don't have time for such things. Just ordered three bags of preggie pops, which may only be a placebo, but if it works, or convinces me it works, it's all the same.

Am a little concerned that preggo-brain has kicked in so ferociously. Major aphasia. Now what's that word ...

Will probably let the kids know after this weekend. Wanted another weekend at church before announcing, and there's no way they could keep it a secret. How in the world do people keep it secret for three months?

Monday, September 13, 2004

Defending beliefs/being quiet

I was happy to meet the director of my school's library yesterday, who coincidentally showed up at my church as speaker. Turns out, he's a Unitarian Christian.

We had a bit of discussion about the conservativeness of The School. He encouraged me to ask my professor if I could do a short presentation on items I feel strongly about (that aren't covered) such as Michael Servetus.

Um ... maybe later.

I feel I would be remiss if I did not educate my fellow students on Unitarian Universalism -- if they have an understanding of this faith, it will serve both of us well as we each begin our ministerial work. Perhaps they will be the voice that speaks out at an interfaith meeting and says, "Of course we will let a Unitarian Universalist church in."

But I feel it would be premature and inappropriate at this time. Perhaps I'm justifying my reluctance to confront this issue; but it seems that I need more experience with this school before I begin making my voice heard.

After all, I've only had one class. Maybe on Day 2.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Candlelight Vigil, 1000 soldiers

"Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again"

Joined with a couple hundred other people tonight at a candlelight vigil for the 1000 US soldiers killed in Iraq. And tomorrow is Sept. 11. How ironic.

Saw UU's from other churches, including two ministers. How hard it would be, to be in a faith supporting Bush, and the war. To feel I had to hide my feelings about this from my friends.

Can't write much. I feel sad, and hurt, and dismayed because it seems like precious few others are paying attention. Or care. What's a thousand soldiers, more or less? And if they do pay attention, it is to say, "we must stay in this war, to do otherwise would mean their deaths were in vain!" or the apparently ageless, "You can't support the troops if you don't support the war!"

Oh, but a bright spot. Told The Son tonight where I'd been ... his eyes lit up and he looked delighted. "Really? You were holding up a sign and a candle?" I think he'll be old enough for the next one.

Were to God there wasn't a need for a next one.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Time for a Renaissance!

Just found something very encouraging:

"Our Audience.....

The fastest growing, religiously identifiable group in the United States is not the pentecostals or fundamentalists. Rather, it is those who identify themselves as “non-affiliated” (one person called this group the church’s alumni association). In the past half-century, their numbers have grown from 2 percent of the population to 15 percent today. They are people who have spiritual interests and longings, but who cannot accept the dogma and literalism they associate with Christianity.

People who value openness to truth, wherever it may be found
People who give priority to the search over certainty in the life of faith
People who resent Christianity’s claims of superiority over other religious traditions
People who want to be engaged in the struggle for justice and peace"

Lest you think this is so self-serving ... guess what? It wasn't from a Unitarian Universalist website. It came off of the site for the Foundation for Contemporary Theology, a Christian group.

I absolutely believe, with every fiber of my being, that our country is ripe for a Unitarian Universalist renaissance. We have become a church that welcomes humanists, deists, spiritualists, etc. This is the church that so many people want, need ... but don't know it exists.

Why can't we run one ad during the Super Bowl?

No need to hire an ad agency, we wouldn't want anything flashy or wildly creative. Something very simple.

Like a 30-something man, sitting in front of a white background. Just talking.

"I knew I wanted ... something. Spiritually, there was something missing in my life. I wanted a community where I could lead my own spiritual journey, supported by other people doing the same thing. A place where they didn't try and tell me what to believe. A place that valued ethics but didn't say there was only 'one true way.' Because I believe there is wisdom in all the world's religions and I know that the more I learn, the richer my own search for truth and meaning will be. A place that believed in the inherent worth and dignity of all people, welcoming people of all colors, beliefs, ages, orientations ...

Guess what? This religion already exists. It's called Unitarian Universalism and it's one of the oldest religions in our country. How cool is that? Thomas Jefferson was a Unitarian. And Susan B. Anthony. Benjamin Franklin and e.e. cummings. And Paul Newman. Christopher Reeve. And me.

Unitarian Universalism. Your religion, that you never knew existed. Find a congregation near you. UUA.ORG."

Yeah. That's the ad.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Preachin' Day

Yesterday, drove up to see my godparents. The previous day, I had told my 5 y.o. that we were going to see them. Her eyes grew round. "YOU have fairy godparents???" Explained that, no, they were just plain godparents. "I still want to make a wish!" Well, okay, but they can't make it come true. She thought and thought about that. Finally ... "Because they don't have wands?"

Love it.

Preached today at my kissin-cousin church. Love them. They have had a wealth of bad luck, completely not their fault, but they keep persevering, seem to keep positive, and keep growing. Gee, think the latter has anything to do with the two former?

The Godfather of our District came to see me preach, which was great. I call him that, because he seems to know everything that's going on in the district, and seems to know of many connections. For instance, when J-- was 5, we wanted to take him to meet a paleontologist. Emailed The Godfather, who sent an email to a person, who sent it to another, who knew another ... low and behold, we got an appointment with a paleontologist at the state university. On top of all that, he's just one of the nicest guys around. It's like being around a sunbeam. Completely besotted with his minister wife; he said he'd take The Husband under his wing to tell him what it's like to be spouse-to-a-minister. (He reiterated the selling point that hey, The Husband will never have be on a Finance committee again!)

Well, this was the first sermon for me to preach under the description of "a seminary student." Felt great! Not because it lended me any stature -- I think I'm in the wrong religion for that! -- but just because it feels so right. I did a reading by Gary Zukav about "Sacred Tasks" ... it's exactly how I feel right now, for myself.

Have begun saying a little prayer, unabashedly cribbed from an analyst friend of mine who does public speaking. "Please help me to say what someone in this group needs to hear."

Will never know, but can hope ...

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Covenant Groups and Small Group Ministry

I just gave a short answer to someone on Coffee Hour inquiring about small group ministry. I've been a big proponent of covenant groups for quite a while, but at General Assembly this year, I got to experience another layer to them.

Thandeka was one of the leaders of the GA covenant groups and in my group, her influence was definitely felt. The goal of "truly listening" was set up to succeed by following a model of quiet voices, silence between each person's comments, no cross talk, and speaking from one's own experience and feelings. ("I feel ..." as opposed to "I think ...")

At first, it was a little foreign and uncomfortable. I was used to lively covenant groups, tons of interrupting and cross talk. Invigorating, but occasionally a bit overwhelming.

This model led to a level of intimacy that could be felt by the second day. People opened up and bonded ... and you walked away feeling refreshed.

We've been integrating that into our covenant groups here at home. For some groups, that method works best just for check in and check out -- the cooking cov group for example. But in other groups, it really helps. There is less of an opportunity for the big mouths in the group (speaking of myself) to overtake the conversation from the quieter folks.

It's definitely a conversion experience, being in a covenant group. There needs to be a time and place at some of these things for ministers to be a part of a covenant group -- not a facilitator, but just an equal member of the group.

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."

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Blame John Kerry -- I am outed to my mother

Well, high on John Kerry's speech at the Democratic convention, I was talking to my mother on the phone and wound up "outed" at a potential UU minister. As Jimmy Buffett sings, "...it's my own damn fault." Still can't keep my secrets from that woman.

She: ...so, why aren't you running for public office?
Me: Oh, I think there's other things planned for me.
She: Yes, you won't run for office, but you're raising three wonderful children.
Me: Errr...

Back and forth a few times, Me: I don't want to tell you, She: Whaaat? Whaaat? Me: You'll have to bite your tongue ...

So, I told her that I didn't want to hear a reaction, but that I was applying to grad school, going to answer the call to be a minister. In her defense, she didn't say anything negative; just said that she was glad I was going to grad school, anyway. Umm. Well, I skipped the explanation that where I'm applying is specifically seminary. Let her think I might graduate with a Master's in, um, English lit or something.

Oddly enough, she is, actually, a Unitarian. I think this may be an old-school Unitarian thing -- go to a Unitarian church for the children, but don't let them get bit with the bug so much that they actually want to BE a UU minister. Tee-hee.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Universalist movement outside UUism

I just put it all together.

There's someone else preaching our message. Though in real life, he believes the only way you can be saved is through Jesus, and though in an interview, he will admit to being socially and politically conservative on issues such as abortion and homosexuality, his sermons are completely Universalist. J-- O-- of L-- Church on TV, preaches about the love of God. No hell or damnation. He preaches to those of all stripes. He is a cheerleader, encouraging people to be their best self. Face it, he's a modern-day universalist, giving them "not hell, but hope and courage."

UU's, are you paying attention??? He stays away from politics, preaches simple messages designed to appeal to the heart. And his congregation, in addition to being huge, has no racial majority. We preach about it, he's living it.


In related news, I preached today. "I like your passion," said one lady. Well, I guess I was on fire today. Admitted a mistake, saying hey, if Stephen Hawking can, so can I. I used to believe that charity begins at home; I have since learned the error of my ways. The churches that grow are invested in outreach. It's kind of like the belief about wealth, that if you learn to give it generously, you will have more than enough. We have such an incredible message of love and acceptance. Unlike the aforementioned church, we don't have to hide our hidden feelings -- you will be loved and accepted in Unitarian Universalism, whatever your sexuality, whatever your belief structure. We have to take this message out to the people.

Is there such a thing as a charismatic UU? ;P

Went and drove to the theology school today. It looks charming, but I'm going to have to figure out the best way to get there. The Spur is closed for the next year or so, so we wound up wandering all over to get there. Being in the downtown area, you see homeless folks here and there. I remarked that I would need to buy some of those Balance bars that don't melt to hand out. Husband replied that he wanted me to carry mace along with the bars.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004


Good. Got an email back from B--, that he'll give me a professional reference. I guess I'm going to have to write a cover letter explaining that my academic recommendation is instead a professional recommendation and both of my professional recommendations are, in fact, based on volunteer work. Which, for my money (or lack thereof) should mean they're more impressive, not less. Not that I get a vote.

I have to write a sermon to present on Sunday about a message from GA. I don't want to turn it into an "all about me" thing, so I'm not going to make any kind of announcement about starting seminary. I'm having a hard time trying to translate the breathtaking experience of GA into a message that guests to our church will get something from.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Talked to VP at school

Okay, so I reached the Student Services VP. Very nice. Made me feel like if I go to The School, I won't just be a face in the crowd. I went to UT, where the idea of having an "advisor" is laughable. The "advisor" is some stranger that signs off on your classes, just making more red tape.

Anyway, Dr. K-- said that it's fine to not have an academic reference, two professional ones are okay. Hmm. Didn't ask him about both of my professional references being from volunteer work. Oh well, hopefully it will be okay. I've been a full-time homemaker for the past 6 years, maybe I can have my 8 year old give me a reference. Nah. I don't trust what he'd say.

"Although Mrs. C-- is liberal with her tv and computer privileges and makes really good pizza, her insistence on such items as bedtime, vegetables and brushing one's teeth leave me no choice but to withhold any recommendation."

Called my old boss for a reference, but she's out of town til the middle of next month. Am still going to try and get a reference from her, but am trying to hedge my bets with the two volunteer recommendations.

Oh, and Dr. K-- said that there's no minimum course load, unless you're applying for financial aid.

Glad I'm cutting coupons. Hmmm, maybe that can be part of my thesis -- "Jesus Saves! By cutting coupons and shopping wisely."

Monday, July 19, 2004

Coming Out

Well, I'm slowly letting people know. There are a few people at church that know, which will probably mean everyone will know by the end of the month. All the covenant groups I'm in, know. And I just told the story of "The Call" to my fellow Amazons.

Still trying to get an answer from The School about the "academic" recommendation.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Inventor of WWW a UU

Well, how cool is this. The inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, is a Unitarian Universalist.

Makes me proud. Though how ironic, considering that UU church sites are often so ... so ... well, BAD. We missed the boat on this one. Wicca has it all over us. Go do a Google search on "Wicca" -- 1,010,000 hits. Okay, now do it on "Unitarian Universalist" -- 179,000.


Saturday, July 17, 2004

Herding cats

Err, just had a meeting about how our pt minister is about to leave us. The old chestnut about how if you have two UUs in a room, you'll have 3 opinions, is often proven to me to be true. This meeting was no exception. Actually creating the agenda for our meeting with the congregation took about 5 minutes, but it was spread out in 20 second increments through conversations (arguments) about philosophy of ministry, do we operate as a church or a fellowship, should you come to church for the relationships or for UUism, etc.

"Is this really the life you want?" asks the heckler on my shoulder. Yeah, it is, gosh darn it. I'm proud to be in a religion that refuses to accept easy answers and constantly points out the emperor has on no clothes.

Even if, sometimes, he actually does.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Start Me Up

Okay, with apologies to Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally, when you finally stop fighting and accept the call to ministry, you want the journey to ministry to begin "right now." Easier said than done, since I have three kiddos under the age of 8. But I want to at least dip my toe in the water, so I'm attempting to really-fast-hurry-up apply to a school of theology here, in order to take one evening class in the Fall semester. Just to see how this being a mom and being a student thing will work for me.

One little problem: ever since getting rk surgery on my eyes (back when they used actual knives), I haven't felt comfortable about driving at night. And the school is way downtown and I'm in the suburbs. And The Husband doesn't get home from his commute before the time I would need to leave for my class.

Still pushing on through, though. This weekend I'm going to drive out to the school, see how I feel about the drive. Then if all goes well, I get admitted, etc, we have a friend we have adopted as a third grandma who is willing to be the gap care for me every week. And if she has something come up, we're figuring that I can bundle up the kids and take them with me, then meet The Husband at the school and switch cars (and kids).

Am going to just keep moving forward, assuming that if the universe/God is so gosh-darn-fired-up about me becoming a minister, it will open up a way to make it happen. Hmmm, parting the Red Sea vs. figuring out a way for a mom of three with night blindness to go to night school. Not sure which is more difficult.

Feeling very lucky to have a friend in our church's pt minister -- just when I need some encouragement, she's there. She's not the cheerleader type, which is actually reassuring -- if she says something, I know that I can believe it, 100%.

Friday, July 09, 2004

The Call

Okay, so what I didn't put in my GA2004 blog was pretty significant. That GA2004 was a literal, life-changing experience. I stopped fighting and struggling against the call of ministry and accepted it.

It was scary. I've fought this for years -- I have three small children, ministry was just NOT in my plans. But there I was at GA 2004, listening to the Service of the Living Tradition, watching all of those ministers celebrate special moments in their journeys. And sitting there, alone, (I was several rows away from anyone) in the dark, I was prompted with the question from inside (or perhaps, outside), "Will you be a minister? You don't have to say how or when, but will you be a Unitarian Universalist minister? Do you accept?" And out loud, I said, "Yes." Just to see how it would sound. I said Yes, and tears began pouring down my cheeks. It felt inevitable but oh so scary. I straightened myself up and three minutes later, Rev. Rosemary McNatt got up to speak. "Where were you ... when you stopped fighting ... and said 'Yes, I want to be a minister.'" Well, then the tears really poured. I didn't feel happy. I felt scared to death.

The next day, I went to my GA covenant group and at check-in, told them what had transpired. Again, I began crying. I was as soggy as a sponge by now. Our facilitator, Margaret, waved a piece of paper at me. "I just want you to know, this was already chosen. I'm not making it up on the fly." She then read it ... "What is your calling and when did you accept it?" At this point I waved my hand to the heavens and said, "Okay, already, I see you've decided to throw subtlety out the window!" Well, not surprising that God/the Universe would do so. As The Husband could have explained, I am frightfully hard-headed when it comes to following destiny. He should know.