Wednesday, December 31, 2003

On Healing and Miracles

"People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed." -Matthew 14:35b-36

"...he asked them, 'Do you believe that I am able to do this?' 'Yes, Lord,' they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, 'According to your faith will it be done to you'; and their sight was restored." -Matthew 9:28b-30a

"'Which is easier: to say, "You're sins are forgiven," or to say, "Get up and walk"? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...' Then he turned to the paralytic, 'Get up, take you mat and go home.' And the man got up and went home." -Matthew 9:5-7

"These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions...'Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.'" -Matthew 10:5a, 8a

"God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them." -Acts 19:11-12

Now, put out of your mind all images/visions/humor of Benny Hinn or Tammy Faye, because I'm about to pose some serious questions, painful questions; I'm talking about the real deal here - the power of God to physically heal.

Long have I been drawn to the study of spiritual healing (and other charasmatic expressions of faith). I have always kept a safe distance, having never been called to be a healer or tongue-speaker in God's kingdom. I have heard marvelous stories of healing from friends whom I trust; and I have heard stories from people whom I cannot trust that seem to wild for belief. Over the course of a few months, many years ago, (mostly due to one experience that so damaged me mentally and emotionally it was hard to come back - indeed I still struggle) the unbelief in me took over and I gave up for bunk the idea that God still performs healing miracles today through empowered people.

But God wasn't going to let me off the hook that easy. He kept me in contact with some folks at a wonderful church, Church of the Holy Spirit that identifies itself as a healing church and is a place where miracles have happened. In college, I took a course on Pentecostalism and did a case study in healing eschatology at a church called The Church of Thunder/Joyful Noise Ministries, Inc. I heard wonderful things there and was a brief witness to how God still healed. Then, to seal the deal, to put an end to all doubt I may have, God did something truly wonderful. He gave the gift of healing to my brother. I felt a little like Moses must have - that whole bit about because you doubted I'm gonna let you see the promised land, but you can't go in.

Up until a few days ago, that was where I stood - firmly of the belief that God acted in modern society in this wonderful way. Then I received word a youth minister in the diocese with whom I've had the pleasure of working many times, and been nourished by her leadership has been struck down with cancer, and struck down mightily. She can't be even 40 years old, but the cancer is throughout her abdomen (colon, liver, kidneys). They've operated, and the operation was a success, but the outlook is still not good. This youth minister was the youth minister at Church of the Holy Spirit - the healing mecca mentioned above.

I've heard they have someone praying at her bedside 24/7, and likely someone or more than one, praying in the church 24/7. How to say this next part? It doesn't appear that anything short of a genuine divine intervention - I mean the very hand of Christ himself taking that cancer away - will be able to save her. What kind of effect will that have on her family, friends, and members of CHS? Here's a church with a nationally known and recognized healing ministry that can't save one of their own? Was their prayer not good enough? Their faith not strong enough? Should their slogan be, "We, through Christ, can heal all*. In small print at the bottom of the page - *"Except cancer." I mean honestly, what's going on here? I understand that they are healers at CHS, that their pastor is one of the most spiritually filled and powerful women I know, but in this case is healing what they should be praying for? It seems they are just setting themselves up for failure and disappointment, and this variety of disappointment could lead to crises of faith. Should they not instead be praying for a painless end of life, full of family and friends? Should they not instead be praying for God's will to be done? I'm not saying God can't do it, but will He? Why would He? Why would He not? People outside their church family will be affected by this if she dies. People will be left with a host of questions, pain, and doubt. People like me. I don't even know how to express what I want to say. I'll leave you with a few words that may encapture what I'm feeling. Frustration. Doubt. Fear. Sadness. Pain. Anger. Disbelief.


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Tuesday, December 30, 2003

The worthlessness of $60K+

Lauren and I were talking last night about what all our friends are up to these days, those whom we see and those whom we don't. She was feeling old (all of 24) and was lamenting about how many of our separate friends will be marrying shortly or have already been married. I confess I joined her in this particular bemoaning. And here we still sit, both still going to school of one variety or another. We got to talking about some of our friends who have not yet finished up their B.A.'s for one reason or another. I commented that I wished these friends all the power and luck they need to finish because of all the opportunity available to the bearer of that piece of paper unavailable to those who lack it. Well, then Lauren and I thought about that for a while and decided that right now - in this age - that is not entirely true.

With the economy like it is, though Trevor would swear it's on the up and up, many college grads of or about my grad year ('02-'04) have absolutely nothing to do. The job market is down, especially for us college grads with the theoretical know-how but without the experience necessary to be effective. This led to an enormous increase in applications put in to graduate programs this year, but without the same marked increase in spots in those programs. In turn, that led to two things: a whole bunch of people in MBA or other graduate programs and, a much larger bunch of people with college degrees without a job or a graduate school.

Likewise, in three to five years, all those MBA and other graduate students will graduate with their 'advanced' degrees to join a mob. An MBA grad will be a dime a dozen, rendering all that specilization for the sake of getting ahead worthless. There goes $60K+. We go to these programs to further ourselves, to gain an advantage over our contemporaries, and to, hopefully, increase our paycheck. But none of that will be true when we all graduate. It will be the same story all over again. So, what are we to do? What is there left for us? We are a new generation; Gen X was defined as having a severe distrust of organizations and institutions. Our Generation (whatever catchy title they give us) will be defined as the worthlessly educated generation, with a severe paucity of jobs above the level that a normal high school graduate would be able to achieve. What is the good side of this you ask? Simple: I predict in the future far more competency among restaurant waiters (whom you may want to ask for investment advice after ordering) and a deep drop in the amount of time it takes to get a burger at the McDonald's drivethru (the clerk at which will be able to offer entrepeneurial or marketing stratagies while they posit "Do you want fries with that?").


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Monday, December 29, 2003

And the Rat Race Winds Down

With my FL-NC and Inter-Florida holiday traveling finished I can finally rest for a few moments, or days, before returning to the frozen Northland on the 3rd. Christmas was wonderful; Grandma, Dad, and I attended the Christmas Eve service at her church, Grace Episcopal where Fr. Don Curran delivered a beautiful sermon and celebrated a wonderful Christmas Eve Mass. Surprisingly, he left out his normal Christmas Eve line, which he had said the previous four or five years. In it's place he told the story of the athiest and the bear:

An athiest was out hunting one day and spied a bear. He raised his rifle and fired, but missed and the bear charged him. Frantically trying to reload, the athiest saw the bear rapidly approaching. The athiest dropped his gun and began to run, crying out, "O God!! Help me!!" Freeze Frame. Everything stops. A voice - "I see you've finally decided to believe in me." The athiest - "I suppose so." A voice - "And are you willing to believe in the saving grace of my son Jesus and become a Christian?" The athiest - "I don't think I'm willing to go that far yet. But I'll make you a deal - why don't you make the bear a Christian?" A voice - "Done." Un-Freeze Frame. The bear catches the athiest and drives him to the ground, burying his claws deep in the athiest's chest. Then the bear pauses and says, "O Lord, for that which we are about to receive..."

Anyway, it was a fine sermon about the gift of God, Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.

On the 27th, we traveled to Brooksville as a family (plus Sarah, my cousin) to spend the day at Uncle Brent and Aunt Kristine's house where Aunt Joy, Uncle Steve, and Ronnie were also present. Joey, Brent and Kristine's 2 year old son, was awesome! He treated us to a variety of hugs, exclamations, and even a somewhat halting, but nonetheless amazing (for a two year old!!!) rendition of the first two verses to "White Christmas"! Good job Joey! The day was lovely, the meat cooked to perfection, and the time with family a needed respite.

Today, I've got a few things on which to work and several things upon which to ponder. One being that all my prayers go out to those affected by the devastating earthquake in Iran - 25,000+ dead is unbelievable. I'll think on other news items as well, not the least of which is the story printed in the NY Times that the Diocese of SW Florida, my diocese, would be pursuing with 12 other dioceses, special accomodation within the Anglican Council outside of ECUSA. The fact is that is not true; see the full story here. Bishop Lipscomb has been and remains a voice of concerned moderation in this entire controversy. While he opposes the consecration of Gene Robinson, he has no intentions of leaving the Episcopal Church. He did serve on a committee that drafted a Theology Statement for "a network of confessing dioceses and parishes", which we hope brings understanding and continued conversation with our brothers and sisters of different minds.

So, that is that. God is still on the throne. The sun shone this morning. 'Cold Mountain' the movie did justice to the book. Life goes on.

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Monday, December 22, 2003

Whirlwind weekend

After a whirlwind weekend, I am back safe and sound in Fort Myers. Lunch on Thursday with Millie was wonderful, but who could expect anything less? She is up in Indiana right now visiting her father and will return the same day I go back to Chicago, so its too bad that didn't coincide better. But, she will be up there for a while over the summer and we plan to get together sometime. The wedding was wonderful - Mark and Amanda looked great and were, of course, very happy. It was also awesome to see everyone again - some brothers were there whom I'd not seen in forever, like Bloom, so that was great. Of course it was excellent to hang out with Hudd, Mason, and Bob. Though, now that Hudd is also married, I found myself in a dilemma. Can I still call him Hudd without confusing his wife? Rebecca said that was fine, that she did not answer to "Hudd" anymore than she answered to "Fish". Phew! I didn't know what to do for a second there. Brother Drew had the comment of the weekend though when he remarked, "Mark's having his wedding reception in a room I always associated with vaccines!" For the WFU un-initiated, the reception was in Benson 401, a multi-purpose room at Wake where the flu shot is administered each year. But the best event of the weekend (most of you will have no idea what this is about), aside from the wedding, was watching Mason's face as I hit the cheese, for the second time in that game, to bring my total game score to 2550! I broke the previous top score (also by me) by 500 points! That ought to (see Hudd, I used it in the blog) frustrate him for a while!! Victory is mine! Moreover, I was extremely honored to be able to chauffeur Mark and Amanda from the wedding to the reception site and from there to their hotel for the evening. Thanks guys, that meant a lot to me. The drive back to FL was exhausting, as per usual (12.5 hrs), which I began at 5am in order to make the families' (the 5 Families of Fort Myers...lol) annual Christmas party. But, it was worth it as the party, also as per usual, was lovely and loads of fun. Tonight I am off to watch the basketball games at the City of Palm's Classic Tournament and catch the slam dunk contest! Then, tomorrow I leave for my grandmother's in Ocala for Christmas and won't be back for a while, so this blog will be silent. Until then, go see the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, rent the film "Equilbrium", read any Umberto Eco novel, and have a Merry Christmas, one and all!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2003

"Return" and Leavetakings

Thanks to all who responded to the question regarding cassocks - please feel free to keep those comments coming!

This afternoon I am going to St. Hilary's for my brief instruction in piano playing with David. Should be a good time. It will be long enough for him to give me some hints and pointers, which was the plan, so that'll be good.

Then, tonight, I am going to see "Return of the King" - I've been waiting patiently for this concluding part of the epic. Someone asked me if I was going to watch the other two films or read the books before seeing the third one, but I said, "No, I'm familiar with the story." I can't count the number of times I've read them. An unfortunate side effect though of these great films is that no longer, when we all reread the stories, will we be able to picture it in our own ways. The movies will be ingrained into our minds, blotting out our own individual conceptions. While the movies were great, they did make off with our autonomy for picturing the tale unfolding in our own colors, kinds, and ways.

And, finally, tomorrow, I am taking leave of Florida for a few days to head up to N. Carolina for Sherriff's wedding, which will be a joyful occasion. I will arrive late in Winston-Salem though, already joyful, at having seen Millie earlier in the day. Why we are alotted to see each other only so rarely, and then just an hour for lunch is a punishment I've not yet figured out. Distance and time are cruel mistresses indeed.

Well, now I'm off to my lesson and I won't be able to write until I return from Carolina. Until then, God's peace to you all and blessings abound.


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Monday, December 15, 2003

A Question Regarding Cassocks

My good friend Griffin (who woefully does not have a blog yet, as his would be a great one to read!) and I were sitting around shooting the bull tonight, as we are wont to do. He is a photographer and expressed an interest in doing some portrait shots of me in my new cassock. So, we were discussing that when this question arose. Mind you, it's a semi-silly one: (a) Is it appropriate to wear a sword with a cassock, and (b) which type of sword and where would it be worn? The two suggestions we came up with are, if it is appropriate, a saber or a scimitar would best be worn under the cincture. A claymore or a bastard sword would look better worn strapped to the back. You could even make an argument (keeping with the goofy nature of the inquiry) that it represents the "sword of truth, which is the Word of God" that Paul talks about in Ephesians. What are your thoughts and suggestions? I would really love to know!

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Busy week...

This is the beginning of an extremely busy week. Tomorrow I am delivering the opening remarks at the annual Boy Scout Dinner in Naples; Wednesday I have a dentist appointment (my favorite thing to do) followed by some instruction on the piano by David Swedberg, the minister of music at my church, St. Hilary's; Thursday I am leaving very early to drive to Carolina for my fraternal big brother's wedding!! Congratulations to Mark and Amanda! But, before I get there, I will be stopping off in Gainesville to have lunch with Millie (yes, we finally reached each other on the phone!) and I am very excited to see her again. It's been way too long and there are constantly way too many miles between us. I will be in Carolina until Saturday night when I drive back for the family Christmas party and leave again the following day for my Grandmother's where I will spend the holidays. Needless to say, I may not blog during all that time, but who knows.

Saw the Boondock Saints last night with Trevor and Dad - pretty good flick and an excellent portrayal of anti-heroes. Well, thats about all for now, so enjoy your day!


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Sunday, December 14, 2003

Back in Florida

Arrived safely back in Ft. Myers where it is warm, but rainy. I went and saw the movie Bad Santa last night with the family - as it turns out, it is not a family feature. It was, though, a movie of polar opposites. When you weren't turning green at the levels of profanity, immorality, or general wrongness, you were laughing hysterically at some scenes that were unbelievably funny. All in all, wait for it on video and then make someone else rent it so you don't give them any money.

Well, today is a day long awaited by many people around the globe - Saddam Hussein was finally captured. While I am glad that he has been found AND been treated humanely (rather than shipped off to Gunatanomo Bay), I am frightened by a couple of remarks made by news anchors - poor juxtapositions, if you will. The first one is that many news anchors were making comments such as, "What a nice Christmas present for President Bush..." and so forth. First of all, Christmas is not about presents and second of all, I'm not sure the capture of a maniacal world tyrant should be considered a present. The second irratation stems from some remarks made to the tune of 1/2 the people responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001 have now been captured. First of all, we don't know who was behind those attacks; second, it seems likely it was Osama bin Laden, though we lack conclusive evidence; and thirdly, there is zero evidence indicating the two individuals ever had any dealings. I don't disagree they are both people who need to be caught and stopped, but I would like to see a little integrity in reporting - though that may be too much to ask.

I finished Yann Martel's Life of Pi and it was absolutely fantastic. It was a book of paradoxes, which enabled the character to survive, despite his poor situation. There were many turns of phrase that were very enjoyable, a hallmark of good writing, such as, "...made memory cry hark..." It was a very inspiring tale, to which I would agree with critics who cited it as being a cross between the styles of Hemingway and Rushdie. I was curious that it was presented as a true story, and would love to know if that is actually a fact or just a device used by the author. All in all, I highly recommend it for some fairly light, enjoyable, inspirational, and well written reading.

Now I am reading Robert Penn Warren's famous novel, All the King's Men, a loosely fictionalized telling of the rise and fall of Huey Long, American Demagogue. It promises to be excellent as well. That's about all for now, so I wish you peace.


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Thursday, December 11, 2003

End of the Quarter

Well, I've made it to the end of my first quarter of seminary, and I still seem to be alive. Through heresy after heresy (those presented in AKMA's class, not ones committed by students or faculty) I have come to this time. The final exam in History of Christian Life and Thought today was not as bad as I thought it would be - I usually get overly nervous though. So, now all that is left to do is to hand in a paper tomorrow for Gospel Mission and then I'm outta here! Luckily, the paper is written and ready to go. So, tonight, I intend on engaging in the fifteenth century art of fiddle-farting around.

Before I do though, I want to do a couple of important things: 1) I would like to make amends and acknowledge Lacy, an old friend of mine, as one of my new readers as well. (Fair warning - her site is a bit different from mine.) She was feeling sad I failed to mention her. Lacy, by the by, what is your new last name?

Secondly, as has been my custom for a while now, I would like to review the term via humorous quotes, of which I have kept a record:

"I didn't like the sermon today, so I came up with this new play." -Frank Yamada, on football

"Well.......lets just have fun guys." -Frank Yamada, in the third quarter of every Seabury Saint's football game

"There are 10 kinds of people in the world today. Those that understand binary and those that don't." -AKMA

"Tackiness is not grounds for worship." -AKMA

"Let's not talk anymore about the 21st century because, in my opinion, you can pick a better century out of a hat!" -AKMA

"You impenitent swine may make chestnuts feel frigid for all eternity!" -AKMA (boy, he was quotable)

"I'll go so far as to say that's a damnable sin!" -Mitch Smith, on any number of occassions.

"Why would you put a newspaper on it when it's clearly a sword?" -Danny Harris, on the subject of library style wooden newspaper holders

"I'd claim you for my son." -Carol Meredith, in one of the nicest compliments I've received so far this year

"How'd ya like walking on water?" -Twyla Zittle, in reference to my almost busting my ass on a patch of ice

I probably won't blog tomorrow as I'll be packing and leaving for Florida for the Christmas break, so in case I don't see or talk with you before then, everyone have a blessed and Merry Christmas!


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A funny thing happened on the way to the car...

So I go out to scrape the ice and snow of my car windshields (yes, that's right Floridians, we got a "light dusting" tonight, plus freezing temperatures to persist all night) and as I am scraping, I see a woman walking her dog down the alleyway between my building and, apparently, hers. I wish her a good evening, and go back to my business. She pauses, and then says, "You're the seminarian," in a matter of fact tone.

Travel back with me in time to before Thanksgiving. I go out to my car go to school one day and there is a note on my windshield. It said, "Hi - I'm Happening Spiritual Director for the Diocese of Chicago and am also your next door neighbor...Feel free to give me a call at church if you're interested in making contact with the local Happening community. In Christ, Deacon Lee Gaede." Then she left her number. So I called her and left a message saying I was going out of town for Thanksgiving and would give her another call back before Christmas, which of course I've not done because I'm forgetful. Needless to say I was surprised she knew who I was! I mean, if she took a walk around my entire car she could find out I had something to do with Happening #40, am Episcopalian, am from Florida, and went to Wake Forest. Maybe she knew I was a Seabury student, maybe not. It was surprising nonetheless, cause why would she walk all the way around my car??

Anyway, back to tonight. So we chatted for a few moments and I noticed she walked in front of my car to get into her side door (explaning her observances). When I told her I would be interested in seeing what I could do to help out Happening, she informed me the next weekend is at the end of February and for me to give her a call when I return from Christmas break. How exciting! I live on the right block - clergy/future clergy central! What are the odds! Anyway, I thought it funny.


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Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Good news...

I got my shirt back from the dry cleaners today! Hurray that they found it!

Jane brought up a lot of good points in her comment to my last blog, and I assure you, they were comments that I have already thought about. I want to think about them some more before I blog about them and continue this discussion we've been having. I think it's an important issue, meriting much more debate.

And finally, a shout out to Twyla and Cliff, my newest readers - thanks for all your support!

More to come, probably tomorrow once all my papers and tests are turned in.


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Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Point by Point: A Continuation

To understand the following, please read Mitch's comment on my previous post.

"fastasy of all males..." Mitch is correct in his comment below to point out Gunn & Fewell did not say all males were fantasizing about whores running rampant through the streets. But, neither did they specify that this is not a fantasy of all males. They simply stated it was a male fantasy. Thats like me saying, "Women who like to wear leather enjoy S&M." That would be interpreted as me saying that all women who wear leather enjoy S&M, which simply isn't the case. In scholastic writing it is extremely important, especially when writing about sensitive issues, to make sure your point is clear and that there is as little room for ambiguity as possible. I didn't fail to pick up the difference; the authors failed to make the difference clear. The burden of proof does not lie with the reader.

"Porn is a 7 billion dollar industry..." It is true that pornography is a booming business - simple law of supply and demand right? In a capitalistic society, if someone is willing to pay for it, someone will be willing to produce it, whatever 'it' may happen to be. Those men and women who are featured in pornographic films and magazines are there of their own free will. I am unaware of a forced labor system that forces men and women to have their pictures taken in erotic poses against their will. So, how is that an objectification of women? On one hand, it causes men who read those magazines to begin to view all women as sex objects, which is bad. On the other hand, (a) I, as a man can choose not to read those magazines and/or not to treat women in such a regard, and (b) those women don't have to pose for those photos!!! Clearly, they are not against it.

"It is males that subjectify females with whistles, catcalls and pick up lines. Not the other way around." Not entirely true. I have been in plenty of situations where friends of mine and myself have been on the receiving end of such whistles, catcalls, and pickup lines. Granted, the opposite type of situation seems to be the norm, but it does happen. Secondly, women on the receiving end of such catcalls that go to bars and night clubs tend to dress in a certain way, which many would call sexy. More than likely, most of them are trying to get noticed. The way in which they dance is also highly suggestive! Now, this is not to excuse poor behavior on the part of men, but the women are not blameless in this at all!

"By saying that the total argument is unfounded, you are dismissing it..." I am not dismissing it; I am disagreeing with it. I maintain that at its core, monotheism (belief in one God) has zero potential to be oppressive to women. At the risk of repeating myself, it is the actions of human beings engaged in monotheistic belief, while also being engaged in socio-political structures, that causes oppression of peoples, be they women or whoever. But the simple belief in one God is in no way oppressive, except maybe to other gods.

Go and work in a domestic violence shelter... I don't need to go work in a domestic violence shelter to understand such terrible things happen and to understand that people misuse (and likely misquote) scripture. I understand that perfectly well.

My point throughout this discussion has not been all men are blameless and upright all the time and the poor suffering women are always oppressed and objectified. Members of both sexes, in this modern time, are complicit with the system. If a girl does't like to get catcalled, she ought not to wear a shirt with her breasts popping out the top or a skirt that barely covers her rear to a place where social degenerates are likely to be hanging out. Yeah, sure, it's her right to wear such clothing to whatever place she wants to go, but it is also the right of weirdos (though we may dislike it) to leer at her. In a perfect world she should be free to wear whatever, wherever, without fear. In a perfect world, I should be free to come to a seminary (or anywhere else) and not be stereotyped as a "typical frat boy" simply because I'm young, straight, and wear some letters across my chest. (Not too many people probably know that the fraternity I was in was a non-alcoholic, Christian fraternity, that maintained the highest GPA of all Greeks for 8 semesters running.) But we don't live in a perfect world, now do we? Not everbody knows all things about all people, and we shouldn't make such judgements.


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Comfort, O Comfort

"Comfort" was the theme of this morning's Eucharistic lessons as well as the Dean's sermon, and it was a message in need of being delivered. In this time of papers, projects, exams, frustrations, and lack of time to do it all, we could use a little comfort. The Dean listed all sorts of comforts he wished for: comfort food, comfort of friends, and Southern Comfort. Now, I've never been a big SoCo fan, but if the Dean would like a snifter, I'll bring some of The Balvenie and we can have ourselves a fine evening! On a serious note, the Dean always preaches a good sermon and always seems to have a relevant point. I may not always like the point he makes, but it is relevant. Today it was both relevant and agreeable to me.

Yesterday's Morning Prayer, which I officiated, went off nicely and I got no corrective remarks from Ruth, which I guess is a good sign. I had the opportunity to serve again today as a Eucharistic Minister, which is always a blessing. It still feels a bit awkward for me though to serve the chalice to ordained persons who also happen to be my professors! Guess that'll just be something I have to get over.

This morning's Old Testament class found us discussing Gunn & Fewell's (for a pair of feminists they have some awfully symbolic names of male power!) feminist article on 1 and 2 Kings. It was a lively discussion, as was to be expected, and it helped me in some ways to better understand their point of view. For instance, I can agree with them that monotheism as it has been enacted in history has been, at times, an oppressive system. Other arguments of theirs, though, I still struggle with. I don't think it is appropriate to say that monotheism is an oppressive sytem en total, for example. We must always remember to separate religious belief from socio-political machinations. Though they often are so interpollated that it can be difficult to keep them separate, there is nothing in the theism of Judeo-Christians that marks it as an oppressive system, by gender or any other lens. What does mark it as that is how it has been practiced, or, enacted throughout history. But to make a blanket statement like monotheism is oppressive to women is unfounded in my estimation.

Furthermore, we discussed the aspects of the article that posited that much of what is described in 1 and 2 Kings texts (such as the Jezebel texts) is "clearly a male fantasy". This irks me to no end. To say that females, especially foreign women, were a threat to male power in the ancient world (and some would argue today) is ok by me, because that was proabably true. However, to say that men reacted against this by fantasizing about the streets overflowing with whores (as a forbidden desire) is ludicrous. Mitch brought up the point that he agreed with this to an extent, because in his experience as a bouncer in a bar, he often saw men walking up to women and sexually objectifying them with crude pick-up lines. Though I don't believe Mitch meant it in the way I interpreted it, I was irritated, and so retorted. Not all men who go into bars talk to women in such ways, and, more importantly, not all women who are on the receiving end of such pick-up lines say "no"! I go into bars often and often talk to people, but never once have I said to an attractive woman, "Nice shoes..."

At WFU, I went out on a date with a very attractive, pleasant young lady from one of my classes once. Upon picking her up for dinner I noticed the shirt she was wearing had emblazoned across the chest of it the word "Guaranteed". Underneath this word was the company's logo, which is the initials of their name "French Connection United Kingdom" (FCUK). So, essentially, she chose to wear on a first date(!) with a fella she only knew from class, a shirt (a very tight shirt I may add) with the words "Guaranteed FCUK" in bold print across her chest. This puts a moral person like me in an awkward position.

All this is to say that I am damn sick and tired of hearing about how everything is the fault of men. Men are far from blameless, but so are women folks! Why can't we move past all this garbage and just treat people as people, accepting all our faults and gifts! Not all men are on the prowl for one night stands and not all women (young or otherwise) are virgin little angels! I've reached my breaking point with it. So, in a way, today's class allowed me to vent some frustration, which was good. I got much more of it out on here. Thanks for listening.


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Monday, December 08, 2003

Ready, duck!

Beal had this as his IM away message tonight and it was so funny I had to share it! But, if I shared this at Seabury, I'm not sure I would last the night. So, to the folks reading this from Seabury - I am relating this to you as HUMOR, not REALITY!!!

"On a transatlantic flight, a plane passes through a severe storm. The turbulence is awful, and when the plane is struck by lightning one of the passengers loses it. Screaming, she stands up and shouts "I'm too young to die - but if I have to go now, I want my last minutes to be memorable! Is there anyone on the plane who can make me feel like a real woman?" For a moment, there is silence - but an Italian man stands up and starts to walk towards her, slowly. Unbuttoning his shirt, he stoops down and, gazing into her eyes, parts his lips slightly and says, "Iron this and get me something to eat."


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Wandering Minds

Burning questions in the mind
serve to comfort those who find
that being lost and wandering
is the first step to wondering.

Come, O come Emmanuel
we've need of your peace to quell
our lonesome wars and broiling thoughts
lest our short life be all for naught.

So, let us wander to your door
that we may question you the more.
Stir up in us great God above
wondrous minds to give of your love.


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Open our lips, O Lord

Well, this moring I will be officiating Morning Prayer for the first time at Seabury. Now, I've officiated it before elsewhere, quite often in fact, but never with so many things to remember or so many books to pull from. I hope I remember everything - if I don't it'll surely be pointed out to me. That's one of the benefits (?) of having the President of the American Liturgical Society as your Liturgy professor and fellow worshipper. Pray for me. :)

Finally, I am finished with the writing of all my papers and begin turning them in today. Each day this week, before turning one in I will have time to revise and edit them. I knew there was some sense to my mad plan of having them all written before this week began. It will also afford me the opportunity to study for AKMA's exam, which I hope to do very well on.


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Sunday, December 07, 2003



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Saturday, December 06, 2003

More on the Importance of Commas

I just got back from lunch at the Firehouse Grill - superb bowl of chili - and had to share this bit of humor. With the bill came a notice about the New Year's Eve party they are hosting at the restaurant featuring, and I quote: "open bar, dj, dancing hors 'oeuvres, champagne toast at midnight, and party favors."

Were I to be here for New Year's, I would definitely attend their party just to see the dancing hors d'oeuvres!


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Papers, Projects and Coffee, O my!

Long ago I discovered a neat trick: if you sincerly think a particular thought as you are falling asleep, you will arise in the morn with that same thought in the forefront of your mind, oftentimes compelling you to action. So, last night, as I was falling asleep, I kept motivating myself to get into a serious working frame of mind. This morning when I woke up, sure enough, I was filled with the fire of serious academics and hunkered right down after breakfast to being work on my papers and projects. Now, I have finished my Music project and plan on writing my Gospel Mission paper this evening, hopefully having time to perfect my perfect paragraph in the afternoon with the helpful hints of Cate Wallace. The OT paper still looms large, but I'm saving that for tomorrow, as it requires more time than the others.

My keyboarding skills get better with each time I practice. My ability to look at notes on sheet music and recognize to which keys they refer is getting better and I am able to do it faster now. My fingers move with blazing speed - ok, not blazing speed, but faster that a tortoise - and sounds are filling my apartment that closely resemble hymns and Christmas songs. Timing is still tough, but gets better each time too. Over Christmas I hope to have David (the music director at St. Hilary's) teach me how to play chords and how to use the left hand as well as the right.

In irritating news, the dry cleaners seems to have lost one of my favorite shirts. Thats exactly the type of thing that furrows my brow and puts me in a bad mood. Its really just ridiculous. Ah well...


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Thursday, December 04, 2003

All things are possible through Him who strengthens me...

And one of those things, hopefully, will be my learning the piano. I've found I've a desire to learn the piano while taking my music class this semester and Andrew, my teacher (the most patient, kind-hearted, gentle-spirited man) has really been an encouragement. I've gotten to the point now where I can pick out melody line from the Hymnal on the piano, but I need to learn chords somehow now. Yesterday I bought a keyboard, so I could practice at will, but need to figure out someway I can learn chords, finger placement, hand movement, that sort of thing, so that I can practice properly.

Yesterday also was a special day for chapel. We celebrated the Kirkan o' the Tartans, a Scottish celebratory Eucharistic, with a remembrance of the dead. In a word, it was AWESOME! There was a bagpiper, and you really can't go wrong there. Several members of the community showed up in kilts, two of which were dressed in the complete highland garb, including boot daggers! The sermon was delivered by a bonafide Scot and was quite good! The music was incredible, especially Amazing Grace, which had many members of the community in tears. So powerful, so awesome! I loved it! (I must admit though, upon first hearing the bagpipes, I was waiting for the drums and guitars of the Dropkick Murphy's to kick in!)

It is suppossed to snow today, we'll see how that goes. Still trading phone messages with Millie - yesterday her's was nothing more that a chuckle followed by the words, "This is getting ridiculous!" I agree. We need telepathy.


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Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Gift of the Magi

So, after receiving my keys back yesterday, I was quite excited to open my mailbox and see all the goodies I had received. To my dismay, but not total shock, it was mostly bills and unsolicited mailings. However, among this stock there was a letter from the ladies of the Episcopal Church Women's group at St. Michael's of All Angels, on Sanibel, FL. I was perplexed as to about what they were writing me, having never really had any contact with any of them. Nor have I ever attended services at All Angels, but I certainly have heard of it before, living practically right around the corner. So, you can imagine my surprise when I open it up to find a brief letter reading: "Dear Ryan, Please find enclosed a check to help with your seminary expenses. Your Sister in Christ, Jane Adams, ECW Treasurer" I looked at the check which had fallen out and almost fell out myself - $1000.00!!!

How do they know me? Who was behind this most generous of gifts? So many questions...
Nonetheless, I was and am quite pleased as you can imagine!!! Confused, but thankful. Praise be God for the generosity of the ECW of St. Michael and All Angels on Sanibel, FL.


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Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Playing phonetag

I'm currently involved with two frustrating games of phone tag. My friend in NY and I have been trading calls all day today! The other game is, regrettably, somewhat more extensive. Millie (in FL) and I have been leaving each other messages for over two weeks now. I think it would almost be easier just to fly down there and meet up with her, rather than continue this ridiculous game - as we're both extremely busy people I don't know when it will end.

Now I'm off to a meeting with Dean Lemler to talk about the worship for our entering student retreat, coming up fast in January. That meeting will be followed by a metting with Cate Wallace on how to get published.

Finally, the good news: I GOT MY KEYS BACK!!!!!!!!


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