Monday, May 31, 2004

Three Things

The Plan: first, I'm going to bitch and moan for a minute. Then, I am going to talk about something serious. Finally, I am going to advertise something cool.

Today was Memorial Day, a national holiday. Everything is closed: banks, the post office, businesses and schools. Wait, no, not everything; Seabury is open for business and class. After chapel, I head to lunch. There, I am turned away at the door because lunch today was only for dorm students on account of it being Memorial Day. I said that was ridiculous. She said back to me, "It was on the email. I'm sorry." I don't give a royal rat's ass (and that's putting it mildly) if it was on the email or not. If we're going to hold classes on Memorial Day, and we're expected to be at both them and chapel, then they damn sure can feed those of us on a meal plan! I don't pay the exuberant rate of approximately $900/year for crappy food to be turned away at the door because the lunch staff would like to take off on Memorial Day. I agree with the lunch staff though, we all should be off on Memorial Day. It's an important national holiday! I'm really rather pissed off about this and intend on taking to to someone who can do something about it. I plan on asking for a $6 refund (the price of lunch) on my and every other student's account who has purchased a meal plan but does not live in the dorms. This was just ridiculous, absurd, and completely unnecessary.

As I mentioned yesterday, Jackie Schmitt is leaving her chaplaincy position at NU Canterbury to accept the chaplaincy at Harvard. I forgot to mention that she asked me if I would be able to assist the new chaplain with the transition. Now, while I feel less qualified to do this than those NU students who have been attending Canterbury for more years than I, I am honored by her request. I will do what I can to assist the new chaplain with liturgical planning and anything else for which my position as a seminary student qualifies me, and leave the other items for those more qualified persons. So, this, combined with all the leavetakings of folk at Seabury amounts to an enormous amount of transition. If I would just shut-up for a minute, might I hear God saying, "Ryan, I'm gonna learn you a little something about transition in the church. Pay attention,"? I think I might. So, while the transition period will be challenging and difficult for us all, I'm going to try an pay attention to what God might have for me to learn in all of this.

A dear friend of mine, and a man whose propensity for nonsense rivals my own, has finally taken the suggestion of several of his friends and gotten his own blog! I can't tell you how excited I am and how much I anticipate the awesomeness of silliness to come. BrotherBeal also has quite the astute and serious mind. His words have been a comfort to me in times past and will be again, I reckon. His natural spirituality provides a great complement to my reasoned (I try) and logical (my nature) theological underpinnings, and so our conversations often go deep into the theological and spiritual realms of faith. Needless to say, I am really excited about the possibilities of his blog. Be sure to visit him at De Rebus Nugarum and I will make sure to add him to my blogroll. Peace and ZAX to you BrotherBeal.


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Sunday, May 30, 2004


Well, after a serious delay, I am returned from my trip to the nation's capital. We sat on the runway for 4 hours today in DC because of severe storms in Chicago, which air traffic control said prevented our approach. The crew was kind and, I'm sure, just as frustrated as we were. They showed a movie, Along Came Polly, which was decent and entertaining (hey, it was something to do!) and the captain of the plane even bought us all bagels! A very nice and kind gesture! Then, when we were finally allowed to take off, we were told to fly at a certain speed that I'm assuming was below the normal flying speed, so as to allow storm clouds to clear out. We landed at about 3:15pm, I was home by 4pm, quickly showered, got gas for the car, and went to Canterbury. There, it was a night of a big announcement - the Rev. Jackie Schmitt, Chaplain to NU Canterbury, has been called and has accepted the position of chaplain for Harvard University. Congrats to her - we will miss her though!

Now - for details about the wedding. It was nothing short of glorious, as can only be expected of anything Hinson would put on. Thursday night was a delicious cookout (BBQ chicken) at his place for the wedding party and friends. Lots of brothers came, so it was really wonderful to see all them again. It did me more good than I can here put into words. After the cookout, they had a party cruise scheduled, which was loads of fun! We all stayed up super late talking and continued the party back in our hotel room. Friday, Matt and his Dad took us groomsmen out to lunch at ESPN Zone. Delicious and, again, loads of fun. We picked up our tuxs, argued about shoe sizes with the clerk, and finally went back to the hotel to prepare for the rehearsal and dinner. The rehearsal went smoothly and dinner was fabulous - surf and turf! There was a great slide show of pics and a series of humorous, inspiring, heart-warming, and tear-jerking toasts. The party continued late that night as well and we all slept in on Saturday. For lunch, the groomsmen went out to a great restaurant in Oldtown Alexandria called The Wharf. Mmmmm...baked flounder stuffed with shrimp, crab, and crawfish. Mmmm....shrimp (for Hudd's benefit). Then, the wedding commenced.

It was a lovely ceremony in the Baptist tradition. Sarah's dress was gorgeous and she, of course, looked radiant. Matt was resplendent in his tux and boutonniere. Sarah's father, Dr. Compton, presided over the wedding and choked up a bit when he announced to the world Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Hinson. The reception was excellent and there was even dancing. The bridesmaid with whom I was paired had a torn ligament, so I did my dancing with the lovely Stephanie, a good WFU friend and fellow Wake Works employee (though I am since retired).

So, all in all, it was a great and glorious event. Three down, one to go - Mason and Lucia's in July.

Now, I must go and get to work on my Pastoral Care paper, which I really don't want to write. Grrr....three more days...


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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Another Day, Another Wedding

So, amidst the hectic pace and generally stressful time of final exams, term papers, final projects, and the like, I am taking off for a long weekend. Seems reasonable right? Actually, this trip has been planned since before I came to seminary and is very important - my fraternal little brother's wedding. I am diligently working away on all my myriad tasks so that I won't be swamped when I get back. Today, I accomplished quite a bit, knocking out over half of my outstanding assignments. Now, I have to pack and arrange for a cab. The wedding will be wonderful. Tomorrow night, following a cookout, the wedding party and guests (read: fraternity brothers) will be partying down the Potomac on a private party cruise!! I am definitely taking my camera for that one! Then, Friday will be all the standard day-before-the-wedding stuff; after three in the past year, I'm getting pretty good at this! Saturday is the glorious day, of course, and on Sunday I return....to papers. Ugh! But, such is life.

Now, much to Hudd's chagrin, I found out today that I "won" a really cool thing!!! (He gets mad at me because he thinks I am always winning prizes, raffles, shrimp, etc.) Essentially, I've got a free pass to a fancy dinner theater in town for me and nine of my friends! It includes dinner, the show, a champagne toast, dessert, and dancing with the cast. Guess I better brush up on my waltz! Or...really...learn to waltz in the first place. Anyway, how cool is that!!!??!!

And now, for a serious confession. I have not been observing one of God's laws and for this and my other manifold sins, I heartily repent. I have not been eating dinner at 6 o' clock sharp everyday. I have languished into sin so far as to dine at 6:23, 6:37, 5:52, 6:03, and even 7:08. Forgive me Lord, forgive me in thy mercy. Once tis term is over, I am turning over a new leaf, and dinner will once again be promptly at 6pm. But for now, I am ashamed; horrified and ashamed. I wonder if the dinner theater is at 6pm...


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Short as a Hemingway Chapter

Today was a good day.


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Monday, May 24, 2004

On Food and Dying

After grilling out last week, I was going to wait a while before grilling again. But then, two things happened. Firstly, for my birthday I received a series of spices - my favorite to be exact - known as Everglades Seasoning (Regular, Fish & Fowl, Heat, Mesquite, and Lite), which can only be bought in FL, and then secondly and because of the first reason, my excitement got the better of me. I got some pork chops and some carrots and a zucchini, seasoned the pork with the Everglades, and then threw it all on the grill. Did I mention I was excited to learn we have a grill? I had a grill in college with the fraternity, but no where to store food or prepare it, so college grilling was limited to the basics. With the pork and veggies slow cooking on the grill, I went back upstairs and popped a cheddar garlic biscuit in the oven. A little while later I had a steaming pile of food; I was a king in my own land with a meal that could only be described as sovereign in its own right! How amazing was it? Incredible! And all finished off with a brownie. Food is good.

Lacking the ability to make a coherent transition to my next topic, I'm just gonna make the leap and hope I don't fall.

Death. As many of you know, I will be starting CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) very soon and have been doing some thinking about it. Pondering, as my brother would say. I know that to those of you who have already done CPE these musings will seem a little funny and maybe even unnecessary, but hey, its my page. I am no doubt going to be face to face with the face of death a lot this summer. My hospital sees a lot of car accidents as it is situated very close to a major highway. It is a Trauma level "highest" (cause I don't know if highest is 1 or 3) and so they take everything. In my Pastoral Care class we are just now starting to talk about CPE and I guess I'm feeling a little underprepared. The book we are reading about it is very helpful, but still, it is just a book. One of the things it said was that in order for the pastor to be effective in caregiving to a dying patient, the pastor must have come to grips with his own mortality. Have I done that? Maybe. To a certain extent, perhaps. I can't say for sure. I lost a dear friend to a car accident my junior year of college and that certainly made me think about my own mortality a bit. And, though my parents will not want to hear me say it, I had to prepare my heart and soul for the possibility when I went to Jerusalem. Now, as it turned out, all my fears were assuaged once I got there and learned that, by and large, it is everyday life as usual. Still, before I went, it was an unknown. Intelluctually, I knew that what we all see on the TV is the sensational, the extraordinary, and not the normal everyday. But, those images are powerful. So, I have done some thinkning about it. But, will it be enough to give good care to those who are dying? Will it be enough to prevent me giving trite, shallow, and unsophisticated answers? One of the things CPE does is get us to experiment with how we do pastoral care and how we react in critical situations. But, the experiment is no simulation. These are real people's lives and if we f-up, we've not only screwed our experiment, we've screwed them. And for them, it's real. All too real. So, needless to say, I am feeling a little nervous and unprepared. For as much as I can legally do, I will document my CPE experience here and maybe you, my faithful readers, can help the experiment by offering your own suggestions or prayers. The latter are particularly appreciated...at any time.


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The following is an amusing rant on an event which caused me neither offense nor injury.

So, at Canterbury Supper tonight we somehow got on the topic of weather phenomena generally and hail specifically. I don't know how this happened. I joined in the conversation by bringing up the hail storm we had on Friday morning. This was met with disbelief, questioning glances, and outright rejection. However, I assure you, it happened. We were sitting in Pastoral Care class and hail began to strike the window, much to our amazement. Mitch jumped up hurriedly and inquired, "Is that hail?" I, sitting next to the open window, responded in the affirmative as I shut the window and Mitch tore out of the room, perhaps to go close his own windows. Again, I promise you, on Friday morning, we had hail. If I was going to make up a meteorological event, it darn sure would be something more interesting than hail! Perhaps, slightly in the same vein, a comet striking the earth...


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Sunday, May 23, 2004

Season End Softball Report

Well, after a thrilling first season (in that we won one game) the Seabury Saints are retiring their colors for this year. After a 10-3 loss today to Lambda Chi Alpha/Kappa Delta, one Saint was quoted as saying, "Football practice will begin tomorrow." That's right - optimism is what counts! We had a fun season, fun times, and even one win, the score of which makes up for all the other losses. Lacking our star pitcher and needing Dan in left field, I pitched the game today and thought I did a fairly good job with the exception of one poor inning and two poor throws to first base. Our bats seemed to lack a little pop today and that is what kept us down. The opposing team handled themselves with grace and sportsmanlike conduct as befits Lambda Chi's, and, presumedly, KD's. On a personal note, I have had a blast playing with my team this season and co-coaching with Frank. A special thank you goes out to all our fans who came out game after game to watch us and cheer us on. We really appreciate that and it helps more than you can know. Next season we will be back and, if I get my way, we'll have jerseys. Until then, GO SAINTS!


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Saturday, May 22, 2004

B.S.A. and B-Day

Last night, as I mentioned, I went downtown to the Hyatt Regency for the Boy Scouts of America National Convention Awards Banquet. Having been to several Council Distinguished Citizens Awards Banquets in the SW Florida Council, I sort of knew what to expect, just on a larger and grander scale. 1700+ people were in attendance for the festivities and it was especially good to see old friends from my council again. Don Sharitt was the gentleman that invited me as a guest to the dinner and has been a friend for several years. However, and he did not tell me this, my presence was a surprise to the other folks there! Don Hughes, my first CubMaster when I was in elementary school and a long time family friend, was surprised to see me as was SW Florida Council President Gary Bull. Don Hughes and I sat next to each other telling embellished stories and making fun of most everyone we saw - thus, it was a typical night of entertainment with him and highly enjoyable!! It's even funnier when you get him and his brother together at the same time! The prestigious Silver Buffalo award was given out; it is the national recognition award given to those whose dedication to Scouting is unmatched. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was among this year's honored recipients. The entertainment by the Broadway Exchange was superb as they sang and danced to many Broadway classics. Several members have just come off runs of Broadway shows, so it was a real treat. My only question is, here in this great city, why did they import talent (good as it was) from NY City? All in all it was a wonderful evening and great catching up with some of the finest Scouts I know.

Today is my 23rd birthday, and I began my celebration by having some scrambled eggs and speciality coffee. I got to talk to Grandma for a while when she called which is always great and then the family called and I talked to them. Given that my birthday has always been after school let out, I have always been home for it until this year, so it was a little different. I opened my gifts while on the phone with the family, so that was funny. The weather has been and continues to be very rainy and thunderstormy (if that is a word) and so, as I suspected, softball practice was cancelled for today. But that is just as well, because now I will have time to enjoy my gifts and relax.

On a side note, my mother informed me that my youngest brother Brennan (16) received a summer reading list from his high school. The list included Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I want to know whose brilliant idea it was to assign such an awful book to a group of sixteen year olds for summer reading! (Actually, I do know who it was...) What a dumb idea! What a dumb book! I struggled my way through it in college, declared it to be silly, ridiculous, and that it ought to be relegated to that section of books that go in the historical museum under the heading, "Things We Used to Think Were Great Until We Actually Read Them". High school boys are going to take one look at that book and consign it to the grill. High school girls will likely sigh their way through the first 100 pages, then get bored, realize life is nothing like that anymore, and go do something else, like call the boys. If one student actually reads the entire book honestly, I'll be surprised. It's slow, boring, antiquated, and generally dreadful. Ok, I'm done with that now. I'm gonna go sit on the couch and read a better book.


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Friday, May 21, 2004

Tough Stuff

In Pastoral Care class today we talked about sexual and physical abuse. It just amazes me how people can do some of the things they do, and, in the worst cases, to their own children. We watched a video which I had seen previously about children's abuse cases and it was really gut wrenching in some regard. I remember at Wake we did the Speak-Out program during Rape Awareness week. Students would anonymously submit personal narratives about rape or sexual abuse to be read aloud by other students to an full chapel audience. Those were stories that took place on my campus and I was amazed and horrified. The ones which I remember really striking me were stories submitted by men reporting rape. We touched briefly on this in class today and I think its a tough issue. How do you get a man to a point where he can say, "I was raped," or, "A woman is beating me,"? I remember the feelings of horror and anger I felt when I recognized a young lady's voice that was reading a story. Then, my friend informed me that the folks reading the stories were not the folks who had written them. It was a relief to me personally, but there was still someone out there who had expeienced that crime. Overall, its just a disgusting topic.

A couple of years ago I read a good novel about the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of a young woman and how she dealt with her life. It took place in a highly religious context, which is what made it so strikingly awful. I reccommend it to you: The Rapture of Canaan, by Sheri Reynolds.


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The Day is Done

"What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.
~New Zealand Prayer Book, Night Prayer

There are rare, though glorious, occasions when the above prayer is oh so apt. Tonight is one of them. There is nothing I could do to add to the pleasantness that is this night. I am full after an excellent meal (the grilling season has commenced - and though it was very tasty, the steaks were almost a little too close to medium well) and wonderful conversation with fine company. There was even, much to my appreciative surprise, dessert - a rare treat. Let it be...


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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Sources of Excitement

There I am, merely typing out my Ethics I project, when a little dinging noise goes off, alerting me to the fact someone is instant message-ing me. I take a quick look to see who it is and lo and behold, it is my old friend Jack! Jack was a year ahead of me at Wake, but two years my junior in age. Yeah, he's a prodigy. Anyway, I had lost contact with him as he moved to Honduras. Now, last I knew of Jack, he was in the discernment process, more conservative than I, a practicing Anglican Franciscan who followed the Breviary daily, and was having troubles with women. Next I hear from him was a few months ago when our college chaplain called me to let me know that not only had Jack gotten married (this of the guy who once thought he was called to celibacy!!!), but was expecting a child! I was stunned, floored, disbelieving, and everything in between. Then, in Gospel Mission class, we had a case study about the controversy surrounding the possibility of the canonization of Charles I. The professor listed several outside resources for us to look up and one of the sections was entitled "Personal Websites". I checked them out and was floored again to discover that Jack's was one of the websites listed. It did not surprise me that he had such a website, Jack is quite the Anglophile. Anyway, we had a wonderful conversation tonight, caught up, and laughed about old times. He has decided to stay in Honduras at his current post (teaching English at the Anglican Mission) and pursue his calling there. It was great chatting with him again.

On another note completely, I am excited by the prospects of grilling tomorrow. Not only grilling, but offering a lesson on the basics by way of atonement for the transgressions I apologized for yesterday ("stealing" a movie ticket and going to the Keg). Neither can I complain about the company too much.

Then, Friday night, I am heading downtown to the National Boy Scout Convention Dinner. Some friends from my council are coming and invited me along. Who am I to pass up an excellent free meal at a fancy hotel?

Saturday is softball practice as usual, followed by the pickup softball game down the road. It was great fun last week and I hope they let me keep coming back. That night, I'll probably go out with some friends to celebrate my 23rd. I know, getting on up there right. One of these days my age is gonna catch up with my hairline.

Sunday will be the first playoff softball game for the Saints. So, naturally, we're playing my brothers in Lambda Chi and the sisters of Kappa Delta. I'll be wearing my letters and hope to meet a few of them. Later Sunday night will be Canterbury and supper, which is always a high point in my week.

With my Ethics and NT projects done, I can relax a little this weekend. Now, I'm really looking forward to that!


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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Exhausted and Frightened

I am so tired! I don't know exactly why; I guess sometimes I just wear myself out. Yesterday was a pretty stressful day and today I was very busy. Plus, I hit it pretty hard at the gym today, so that accounts for my physical tiredness. Once home, showered, and fed, I attacked with great vigor my Ethics project, which I suppose accounts for both my intelluctual tiredness and frightened state. My topic is Molecular Nanotechnology and Christian Bioethical Concerns with Voluntary Cybernetic Enhancement. (Sounds rather impressive when you put it that way, but I really don't know didly about the scientific stuff.) In any event, the rhetoric employed by advocates for human cybernetic enhancement is one which contains such terrifying (to me) words as "transhumanism", and "posthuman". The organization known as the World Transhumanist Association wants "everyone to enjoy better minds, better bodies and better lives…to be better than well". Sounds pretty good on the surface, but when you get into it, its really frightening. Members of this and other groups, believe that such technology will aid the evolutionary advancement of homo sapiens to a point beyond human, ergo "posthuman". Ok, I'm getting scared again, so I'm gonna go to bed and finish up the project tomorrow.


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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Meeting a Success

My meeting last night with the individual who works at the Israeli Consulate was a success. She was a very cool person who asked a lot of really good questions and provided a lot of really good information. I was able to learn quite a bit, I think, from this meeting and look forward to the continued conversation. Much to my surprise, I discovered that her vocation is also to the ministry and she will be beginning rabbinical school in the next two years. As her program is six years long, she expressed jealousy over my three year program, but I consoled her by telling her it was ok, she would just be smarter than all of us by the end. She quipped back, "Just because I can read and write Aramaic..." Yes, actually, just because. She decided I did not get to see enough of Israel while I was there, which is very true, and has said that the next time I go back to let her know and she'll set me up with a number of friends she has who can serve as excellent guides to the less touristy areas. All in all, though we disagreed on a number of things, it was a good conversation and a great way to open up a new line of communication.

Now, for a brief public apology. I am a bad person. I inadvertantly visited the Evanston establishment known as "The Keg", not knowing it was only for gross people. I will never do this again. I also "stole" a movie ticket.


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Monday, May 17, 2004

Sources of Anxiety

So, tonight (in less than two hours) I have a meeting about which I'm nervous and excited. An acquaintance of a friend of mine, if you follow, wants to get together with me to discuss my trip to Jerusalem. Now, why in the world should I be nervous about that you say? She happens to work for the Israeli Consulate. I am extremely excited by this opportunity because dialogue such as this is sooooooooo important to the cause of justpeace in Palestine and Israel. She can talk to people that I cannot, and who knows, maybe I will in some small way effect some positive change. My friend has told her about me and my trip and she beleives I have only heard one side of the story. While not totally true (as I watch American news), I can always stand to learn more. Obviously, the people with whom she works are on the opposite end of the discussion as I, but she believes there is a middle ground. I do too; that does not always get communicated well, but it is my firm belief. My main goal is for the violence and injustice to end, with particular political goals being secondary or even tertiary. (Really, I just wanted to use the word "tertiary" in a sentence.) So, I am excited and nervous about this prospect. Having met this lady once before, I know she is very nice and kind, but I do expect that we will end up disagreeing on some things. When I initially met her, she told me that "just because I work for the government doesn't mean I always agree with them," which is a good sign! I hope that God will be able to use me in a positive way tonight, and, if nothing else, perhaps I'll gain a friend out of it.

Another source of anxiety is the rising price of Scotch. A bottle of the Glenlivet, my typical brand, has increased to a ghastly $32 and change. I had to go down several steps and purchase a blended, William Grant's. Now, Grant's is good and suitable, but the real bonus is that it was half the price of the Glenlivet. So, until those Glenlivet boys (or the MaltMaster, or whoever) get their act together, I can no longer afford to be a customer of theirs. It's too bad, as I enjoyed the tradition as well as the beverage.


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Seabury Update

This morning we had a much needed and welcomed meeting with the chair of Seabury's Board of Trustees Dr. Salme Harju Steinberg. She gave us a brief overview of the situation for the trustee's position and then responded to questions posed by students. I got a lot of what I wanted to know answered or at least fleshed out more concerning the Dean's new appointment and what the process for selecting a new dean will be. We will have an interim Dean, beginning next academic year, for a one year period who is to be "a person of stature in the church". During that year, a national search will take place for a new, permanent Dean. The search efforts will likely be aided by a professional search organization and the search committee will consist of members of all concerned bodies: students, faculty and staff, alumnae, and trustees/executive board. I will be putting my name forward for consideration to be a member of that committee. Students, including myself, expressed frustration at the seeming lack of communication and ideas were put forth on how that could be improved. We hope to have monthly updates on the myriad search processes so that we can be kept informed. The financial issue was addressed briefly. We were told that Seabury is not in the best financial shape, thus the capital campaign drive which is now in the quiet phase. Dr. Steinberg expressed no concern over the changing of the guard of Dean's during this campaign and assured everyone it would continue as planned. Some mention was made about the various faculty departures. Even given that the majority of them are reasonable and expected, it still is a large number of departures. Depending on who you count as faculty the numbers range from 38 - 50%. Some persons apparently do not count as official faculty due to the nature of their positions and appointments, but I count as faculty those who have been directly responsible for educating us. A remark was made that in the Fall we will have 4 Full Professors on our staff and that is more than ever before in the recent history of the seminary. I thought that, while technically true, was an easy way to put a positive spin on the issue. Of those 4, 1 will be retiring after the Fall term and 1 is actively looking for another job, leaving us with 2. Others with whom I have been in conversation have noted that they see the opportunity for a new Dean as a good thing for a positive start (nothing against Jim Lemler intended). So, all in all, it seems as if what we have, at least on the surface, are a host of planned and expected changes all taking place at the same time, which is unfortunate, but unavoidable. It will be an interesting time though and I hope it will be a good period of transition.


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Sunday, May 16, 2004

Rolled Away Stones and a Surprise

After I last blogged, I had a much needed telephone conversation with an old friend from whom I've grown apart in many ways and it has not been an overly pleasant separation. The reason the conversation was much needed was that I have done, in my time, my share of crappy things and unfortunately, this individual was on the business of many of those. Old wounds that had never healed, just covered over with new, fragile skin and left to fester cause an enormous amount of discomfort and have a great tendency to flare up, renewing past pain. I have needed to summon the courage and humility to apologize to this person for my transgressions but pride has heretofore prevented me. No longer. By the grace of God alone and through prayer, I was able to finally call this person and have a good, long chat with them. We concluded that, to some extent, we were both living in the past with past experiences of one another forced awkwardly onto the present. Five years, especially at our age, is plenty of time for people to do a lot of changing. Neither of us is the same person we once knew, but we were holding onto to those images because of past hurts. I told them that I no longer even really knew them and I say that not to be mean or spiteful but because it is the truth. They agreed, vice versa. Though it would be impossible to say everything is solved (we still stand on opposite sides of a great theological gulf), the right path has at least begun to be blazed, and, for now, I am comfortable (for the first time in years) with the differences. I feel as if a great burden, a heavy shadow, has been released from my soul and I can stand more upright than I have been able to in a long while. Reconciliation is a good thing; it is the gift of God.

Now, onto an excellent surprise. I went to Canterbury tonight, as I said I would do. Jackie's husband, also a priest, celebrated the Eucharist tonight as penance. He apparently didn't use a bathmat this morning while showering, creating a slippery and hazardous bathroom environment. When his wife came to shower, she slipped, fell, and broke her big toe. He took her to the doctor, like a dutiful and loving husband should, and she looked at him and said, "You know, you're on tonight because of this." Anyway, that was a long aside. A wonderfully kind person came up to me and surprised me with a really cool revelation. I have a new reader! Hooray!! So, to you, I say welcome and enjoy.

That's not the end of the surprises though. I also learned this week that the grill downstairs, which I formerly thought to belong to the tenant below me, actually belongs to all of us in this building! Grilling will commence this week with great delight and a sense of long overdue outdoor flavor! Now, to my new reader, I ask you to put two and two together and see what you come up with...


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Busy, Busy Weekend

On top of all the school work I've been working on over the week and weekend, I've done a lot of fun stuff too! Friday night I managed to get down to Lincoln Park and visit with Jeff and Julia for a while. We drank Irish Coffee and watched Pieces of April, an excellent, excellent movie about a young lady on her own for the first time and worrying about, at the same time she is trying to forget, her dysfunctional family. It had a surprising ending, but one with which I was pleased. My predictions did not come true and I was also pleased my that as they were somewhat darker than the reality.

Saturday was a day full of softball! Seminary softball practice in the morning and a pickup game in the afternoon. Because hardly ANYONE showed up to practice, the five of us who did decided to head down to the batting cages and practice our swings. That was a lot of fun, but after fifty or so swings you being to tire! Then Frank asked if I wanted to play in a pickup game with him and a bunch of other guys. I quickly assented. These guys, apparently, have been playing this same pickup game every Saturday afternoon since high school, which was some 30 years ago. I was very impressed - they all seemed to like each other and despite the filthy banter, to genuinely get along. It was a lot of fun, even though I didn't play overly well (as I was tired from the batting cages!) and I hope to go back next week.

Today, I continue my writing. I am further along in my Ethics project than I suspected. My research probe is finished save for the last bit where we have to pretend we are actually going to start writing a paper. I just banged out two different responses for History class - one on the movie we watched and my second individual response paper. I still need to answer my Luther questions for tomorrow and work on Quiz 4. Tonight is Church and Supper at Canterbury and I always look forward to that. I've begun to feel like one of the gang there and it is a good feeling. And then, of course, it will be time for Tony and Bullock. The seasons are winding down now which means loads of excitement and suspenseful cliffhangers!


P.S. As a side note: I simply do not want Red-breast nesting on my lamp post. The nest obscures the lamp and makes quite the mess on my stoop. This is why I removed it, twice. I have nothing against Robin Red-breasts in general and will not be beginning a campaign against them, preemptive or otherwise. To those of you who are concerned, I will not be shooting anything. I don't currently own a gun nor do I ever intend to own a gun. That is a part of my Southern heritage I do not claim. Fishing rods, on the other hand, are a whole other story..

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Friday, May 14, 2004

Reading Week is Almost Over

but, I'm about on track as far as my work goes. The writing steadily continues day by day as I whittle the papers (and pseudo-papers) down. Yesterday was a break day for me, (even though I did just as much work as any other day this week) because I went out in the morning with some friends to see Van Helsing, fully aware that it was going to be a bad movie. It was so bad, it was funny - we chuckled and commented our way through most of it. The actions sequences were fun though and reminded one of old school Godzilla vs. Mothra type movies. Van Helsing's character actually wielded a rapid fire machine crossbow, which is pretty awesome. I should like one of those. The three vampire chics were really ugly when flying around, but when they transformed back into their humanoid forms, they were really hot! Dracula looked a little silly, a little too much like a Don Juan rather than the King of the Undead, but hey, I guess they had to balance out the hotness of the women in the movie with a few guy actors the ladies would find appealing. All in all - wait for it to come out on video to rent, but it makes for an entertaining time.

Then, last night, I went to Commuity Eucharist and Supper with the Seabury folks. I particularly enjoy these evenings, but last night we sang some songs which I found hard to follow. After supper, I joined three of my seminary friends and we traveled down into the city to go listen to AngloBaptist's Irish band. It was loads of fun, and the best part was the heavy, fake Irish accents the three band members employed while on stage! The Irish dancing by another seminary friend was also excellent. It was good quality time with some people I normally only see in the context of school, so that was fun. Fortunately or unfortunately (whatever the case may be) these three, at least, have discovered my joy and propensity for story-telling. I think it was Mason who once said to me, "Whitley, do you think God gives people who are great story-tellers wild adventures, or do you think that God gives people who have wild adventures the ability to tell a great story?" Either way, Fox, it works out for me! Case in point - when I worked at the bank we were robbed one afternoon. (Yes, there was a gun involved.) Upon my return home, I related the story to my mother and she LAUGHED at me! Yes, that's right, I had a traumatic experience that could have gone bad, and she LAUGHS at me! Her excuse was that obviously I was ok, and that things like that always seem to happen to me! Oh well, at least it makes a good story. :)

Now, at the risk of pulling a Bush, I think I am going to declare my official victory over the Red-breast that has been plaguing me. Yes folks, it's V-RB Day! The creature has not returned in several days to attempt the rebuilding of its nest and I think I can now sleep through the night not having to wonder if it is out there, covertly building away as I dream, anymore. Phew...


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Thursday, May 13, 2004

Various and Sundry

First, I just saw the movie "Van Helsing" - hysterical! I know it's not suppossed to be funny, but the cheese was just too much!

Second, I received an email this morning about my blog from last night where I talked about seeing Henry V. The person who sent the email also included this really cool link depicting the logistics of the battlefield at Agincourt. Check it out.

Third, and finally, which theologian are you? Thanks to Susie, I know I am:

"What a mystery is this, that Christianity should have done so little good in the world!
Can any account of this be given? Can any reasons be assigned for it?"
You are John Wesley!

When things don't sit well with you, you make a big production and argue your way through everything.
You complain a lot, but, at least you are a thinker and not afraid to show it. You are also pretty
liked by people, and pretty methodological about your life and goals. You know where you're going.
Some people find you irritating, so watch out for people leaving you out of things they do.

What theologian are you?

A creation of Henderson


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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Henry V

Just got back from watching Brannaugh's Henry V for my History of Christian Life and Thought II class. What a great show! I love Shakespeare and I think, every time I see one, that I was born in the wrong century. To speak with such a tongue! THe speech at Agincourt is about the only thing that makes this pacifist want to charge into battle! The movie was very good; I had not seen this version before, but I enjoy Brannaugh's work for the most part. Upon occasion he does get a bit melodramatic in the wrong places, but that's just my opinion. His reading of the text generally opens up new doors of understanding for me and so I enjoy them. Othello is my favorite Shakespeare he has done.

The trouble with watching Henry V, though, is that you don't know who half the characters are! The events of Henry IV are integral to some scenes of Henry V (i.e. Falstaff's death). More than that, it is difficult to understand any of Shakespeare's Histories without a firm grasp on English history of that period in general, which I cannot claim. A fellow student asked me after the film was over why they went to war and I didn't know how to answer with a short response. But, if I launched into a long response, I'm sure I'd muck it up. So, to you, I say, study medieval English history for your answer. Any answer I could give would be countered easily with, "Well, yes, but why?" And so you go, back and back, king after king, into the history and eventually arrive at an answer that amounts to little more than someone pissed someone else off, and those two someone's just happened to have armies to do their talking for them. Silly? Yes, and so is war. But it does produce some awesome speeches!!

"WESTMORELAND: O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING: What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day."

~William Shakespeare

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Ryan - 1, Red-breast - 1

That's the current score folks. Red-breast, by coming back a second day (yesterday) scored once, but my wrath wreaked upon it's nest must have scared him off, as it did not return today. That's one for me. We'll see how it goes, but it's looking like I may come out of this alive.


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Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Man Versus Nature

I am faced with a peculiar...situation. Yesterday, when I left my apartment, I noticed some moss-like substance growing on the top of my outdoor lamp (which is mounted on the wall right outside my door). So, I nonchalantly removed it, locked the door, and carried on my way. This morning I open my door and I notice, to my dismay, that the moss-like substance has come back and multiplied!! The horror! The horror!! I do nothing to it, hoping to discover the reason for its return and go back inside to watch from an obscured position. Ever watched moss grow? Despite the evidence I faced to the contrary, it is a slow process. But wait! What is this?? A robin red-breast alighting upon my lamp, carrying none other than the moss-like substance in its beak! Ah ha! The culprit! I watch a bit longer to see if I can determine the source of the nest building material. Ah ha...there it is. The robin red-breast is shredding my neighbor's clothesline and tearing off bits of the shredded line to build a nest upon my lamp! What had the makings of an excellent, if somewhat cheesy, horror flick turned out to be nothing more than an innocent devious robin red-breast. This is not even to mention the mess it was making on my doorstep from all the twigs and dirt it was using in addition to it's synthetic material (imagine that...even the birds have gone to plastic!). So, I opened the door, intimidating the creature by my sheer size, eradicating the nest with a few swipes of my hand and brushing the mess neatly off the balcony for the #4 tenant to deal with. I am anxious to see if tomorrow the red-breast will be back. If so, we'll have a repeat performance; I can outlast this foe. Full siege mode! Poison its water supply! Halt its food lines! To arms! To arms!!


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Softball Report

"So the last will be first and the first will be last." ~Matthew 20:16

And so it was, that the Seabury Saints took down the "Big Guns", the only undefeated team, 20-4, in our last softball game of the season. There truly were miracles in the outfield, and everywhere else for that matter! This victory made my year! I am so proud of my team and how far we have come!! The first inning began normally enough; they batted first and advanced a few runners but without scoring any runs before gaining three outs. Then, bottom of the first, the Saints come to bat. Two outs are achieved quickly. Then, due to our really scary faces I guess, their pitcher began to choke. Well, asphyxiate is really a better word. He walked a few batters - our entire line up almost twice over to be specific earning us 13 runs in the first inning. The remainder of the game proceeded very well for us - it all came together. Everybody did an excellent job fielding, with the Golden Glove award for today going to Jen at second base. Everyone did a fantastic job hitting with the Slugger's awards going equally to Frank for his Grand Slam and to Shana for her first hit of the year, a solid single! Their batters, though the total circumference of their biceps out shone the total circumference of our collective waists, were unable to hit the heat thrown by ace pitcher Cliff. Halfway through the game, Jen remarked that it must be a trick - that they must be sharks. Well, her logic was correct - they were a team of former high school athletes: football, baseball, soccer, basketball, and wrestling. There wasn't a one of their girls whom I could have shown up in the weight room. In a word: frightening! But, the illogical prevailed!! Two outs. Big guy up to bat. Long fly ball to center field. I track the ball, run backwards following it and reach up my glove to be met by that satisfying smacking sound of a caught ball. There is a general cheering from the infield and sidelines - completely without realizing it, I had caught the last out of the game. Saints win! Saints win!! Saints win!!! Stunned, I run in slapping hands with my teammates and trying to figure out how what just happened, happened. 20-4. Simply stunning. The team, for the most part, went out to Nevin's for dinner and a drink (or several) afterwards to celebrate. The Big Guns went home, confused, but good sports. Two of my awesome teammates carried the party on, along with myself, at my place where we watched a great victory movie - The Big Lebowski. Now they have gone home and I am still elated about our victory. It made my day. It made my week. It made my season. I am happy and proud of our team. We'll see you in the playoffs baby!!


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Monday, May 10, 2004

Lunch Surprises

No, not a culinary surprise (though such is quite possible under Aramark's catering regime), but a pleasant ecclesiastical surprise. After Morning Prayer and Eucharist this morning, the Dean asked if I would like to join him for lunch as the Anglican Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf was here for a visit with his wife, Jane, and given my interests, he thought it would be nice if I could join them. I was completely honored and agreed immediately. Bishop Handford and his wife were wonderfully pleasant people. He asked about my trip to Jerusalem and my impressions of the area, the conflict, and, specifically, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Conversation then drifted to such topics as the broader Anglican Communion, and his episcopate. Very exciting things are happening in Iraq and Iran for the Anglican Church. Through tough times and many trials, Christ's glory and love is making itself known through the daring and wonderful ministries of many committed people. Though closed right now, the Bishop said he hopes to reopen the Chapel in Basra soon, with support from the Church in Baghdad. In Iran, there are plans of building an 8 million dollar church and grounds to be a testament to the Gospel and love of Christ. The government, being Islamic, limits the numbers of Christian Churches allowed to have a presence and insists on high walls being built around them so as not to infringe upon the Muslim people of the land. However, upon seeing the architectural plans for the church (which is to be designed as an oasis - not only an oasis in a desert climate, but an oasis for Christ) the government said there was no way they would permit a wall to be built around such a beautiful place that will add much to the beauty of the land. Praise be to God! Bishop Handford encouraged me in my studies, particularly centering around Middle East peace. He said that once I get a good grounding in ministry and my studies here in the West to look him up, because there is always work to be done! How exciting! Though I do owe some years, which I will lovingly, gratefully, and faithfully serve, in my home diocese of SW Florida, I am excited by these and other such possibilities. I feel very strongly that God is calling me to be active in my ministry for peace, and, more specifically, for the Middle East. I know not what God has in store for me in the future, but I am excited by what seems to be a number of potential doors opening for me. I continue to make excellent contacts and befriend people who can help me get to where I would be called, and I cannot but see the hand of God in that. So, all in all, it was an exciting, wonderful, and delightful lunch surprise. This afternoon, the Seabury Saints/Martyrs have the last softball game of the regular season, so wish us luck...we're playing the only undefeated team...


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Saturday, May 08, 2004

Visitors from Beyond

Beyond Chicago, that is. My dear friend Katie (whom I have known since birth, but we only agreed to like each other somewhere between 6th and 8th grade) flew in last night for a visit. She works for Delta now and can pretty much fly wherever, whenever, at a 100% discounted rate. Her boyfriend Adam has been accepted to both the University of Chicago and Emory University's combined M.D./Ph.D. programs and is trying to decide between them. So, they are wining and dining him tonight and Katie came up to join him, but thought we could visit a day ahead of when Adam got here. It was excellent to see her once again and spend some time catching up - it's been almost a year since we graduated Wake together and saw each other last. She even came out to softball practice today and did excellent! (Of course she would though, as she played on my co-ed teams at Wake! She's a veteran!) At practice, I pitched a little and Mitch hit a hard one back at me, to which I had no time to react other than draw my leg up across more important areas. But I have a pretty good bruise and walking is uncomfortable now. So, I feel somewhat like the recipient of a just punishment (see blog about my injuring one of the players) and will bear my pain in silence past this point. I just got back from taking her down to Regent's Park, where the U of C is putting Adam and her up for the night. Very, very, very ritzy!!! You can tell they want him pretty bad there. It was good to see Adam again as well (another Wake grad and friend). The drive down and back along the lake was gorgeous and the weather really shaped up today to be pretty. Green is once again a dominant color along my street and it makes me very happy. Tomorrow, I am going to a church where the current director of children's ministries is getting ready to leave (graduating Seabury) and he wants me to look at the position. It seems like a pretty sweet deal, but I'm waiting to see if I feel called to the job and am cut out for that type of work. Then, on Monday, reading week begins!! Yay!!! No classes!! Though this time, it should be called "Research and Writing Week" in my case. But, it will still be a much needed break from it all.


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Friday, May 07, 2004

Pastoral Care Class and the Issue of Homosexuality

Today in class, the professor made the point that on the issue of homosexuality, for many people, the crisis comes because their theological formation and training are running up against their experience of encountering homosexual persons and those persons are not only not manifesting what Romans 1 discusses, but are living Christian lives and succesfully engaging in Christian ministry.

I agree with this statement, beacause it is where I am, here in this place.


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...and the Thunder Rolls...

We had a superb thunder storm late last night, that, when it began, scared the everlovin' bejezus out of me. I was already asleep when the first bolt struck, I'm fairly sure right outside my window, and the thunder that followed shook the very foundations of the earth, let alone my apartment. Once I regained a full state of awareness, changed my pants*, and got back in bed, I reveled in the glory that was an excellent thunder storm. O, how I have missed the sound of the Brontosaurus bowling and the spectacle of Zeus' arsenal! It was a great thunder storm, worthy of Florida reckoning. Slowly, I faded away once again into that blissful realm of soft and sleep confident that outside my walls raged a tempest with delight, performing for my longing ears and shuttered eyes until I awoke in the morn when the sounds and lights had drifted from me like an oft remembered dream, swept up by the winds of change and carried away to perform their dance for another in a distant land.**


* This is hyperbole. No soiling of the pants actually occurred.
** Shovels will be provided at the door for those who feel it's a little deep in here right now.

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Today's Happenings

The presentation Newland and I gave about our trip to the Sabeel Conference in Jerusalem went very well I thought and was well attended. It is fun and energizing for me to give presentations like that and I hope that some of my enthusiasm and passion, channeled through the presentation, caused those who attended to want to know more and do more about this important cause.

I should take the time and space here to address an excellent concern brought up by some of my friends after the presentation. They thought that some of what I had said in the presentation conflated the issue of opposing Christian Zionism and opposing the State of Israel. I want to be absolutely clear on this point, which I was not in the presentation. I do not deny Israel's right to exist and I fully recognize the suffering the people of Israel have endured at the hands of persons whose sick and twisted interpretation of thier religions have led them to perform such atrocities as suicide bombings, civilian snipings (especially after last week's murder of a pregnant Israeli citizen by a sniper), and structure bombings. I come down hard on the State of Israel because they are the dominant power and the occupying force, largely ignoring international law. There are thousands of Israelis and thousands of Palestinians who want peace and who want to end the occupation, and I stand in solidarity with them for a justpeace. I believe in an Israeli state within the 1967 borders, sharing Jerusalem as a capital city. I believe in the right of return. I believe in and call for an end to violence, terrorism (be it by militant Zionists, militant Islamic groups, or the state of Israel), the settlement plan, and the wall. Being against the Christian Zionist movement does not mean being against the State of Israel. Criticizing the state of Israel does not make one an anti-Semite. Israel has a right to exist. Palestine has a right to exist. Peace is what God calls us to strive for.

Switching subjects entirely...

I was encouraged today by the announcement of a chance for Seabury students to meet in two weeks with the Board of Trustees chair to discuss the transitions taking place here. I was also glad and relieved to read Frank's blog today and know that he is staying. More people are talking about this important issue and I am encouraged by that as well. I hope this mode of inquiry and communication keeps up.

Exhaustion setting in...


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Thursday, May 06, 2004


Being Overwhelmed

After just giving a presentation on the dangers of Christian Zionism and the issue of the Palestinian-Israeli crisis with my friend and compatriot Dr. Newland Smith, I am tempted to blog about that whole issue again. But I will refrain, not for any lack of desire or for any feeling like I've talked about it enough, but because I think a question a colleague raised after the presentation was over is also pertinent to this format. The question was asked of me after the presentation was over, "Do you ever feel hopeless?" This is an exceptionally important question because of the issues it brings to the fore. The answer right now is - no, I have no, up to this point, felt hopeless about the Palestinian-Israeli crisis. I want to nuance that statement a bit though. I have only studied this subject since the summer of 2002 and this past trip to Israel was my first trip there. I'm just a baby when it comes to this field, and for all that I do know about the subject, there are mounds of gobs of information that I haven't digested yet, which many of my friends and colleagues have. So, no, I have not yet felt hopeless. I have, however, felt overwhelmed.

When I first began to study peace and justice issues in the summer of 2002 I learned of dozens of conflicts and problems that drastically need to be addressed. For that we have to look no further than our own borders. Beyond our borders, the numbers shoot right up. Palestine/Israel. Australian and New Zealand first nations. Rwanda. South Africa. Kosovo. Libya. Iraq. Canadian and United States first nations. Nagaland and India. The Sudan. Nigeria. Azerbaijan and Armenia. Sierra Leone. Mexico. The list of countries can go on and on, with conflicts ranging from small and localized to broad and devastating. It is hard not to be overwhelmed and I would say that if you are not, you are not really seeing. How do I avoid letting my sense of being overwhelmed turn into hopelessness and inaction? I decided that I needed to pick one issue, one topic and focus all my energies, limited resources, and time on that one issue. By doing that, I can get as educated as I can be on that area, devote a level of time and resources to it so as to make a difference, and feel like I am both knowledgable and useful. I am only one man, and even focusing on only one issue, I can only do so much. That is my advice. Pick the one thing you care most about and focus on it. The sense of being overwhelmed has less of a chance of turning into hopelessness and inaction. The ability to speak knowledgably and articulately will be greatly enhanced; rather than knowing only a smidgen about a dozen issues, I can be well informed on one.

In conclusion, I must never give up. I must maintain my level of passion and committment in striving for a justpeace in Palestine and Israel, recognizing both people as having a right to statehood with recognized and agreed upon borders, living in safety. I must continue to read, study, write, and speak about the issue. I've just got to go back to the land, many times over. Maybe one day I will feel hopeless, but I wish it would never come. Instead, I want my hope to perpetuate my passion. As the character of Andy Dufrane says in the wonderful film The Shawshank Redemption, "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."


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Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Communication at Seabury

So, the trembles at Seabury continue, but at least more people are talking about it now. David raised some of the same questions I am raising and AKMA joined in with his words today, providing a much needed faculty voice. Ruth made some helpful comments in the comment section of my previous post, clarifying the facts of the case, providing a much needed administrative voice.

As the shock of all of this has settled down, I've been able to think more about it (with the help of some emails from classmates). This, however, does not mean I am going to lay down. Communication is a big problem at the school in that, at best, it is only slightly above poor. BY way of example, in the Fall quarter I noticed one of my classmates had ceased coming to class and chapel. When I inquired of another classmate after his health and if everything was alright with him, I was told that I couldn't ask that question, that it was a taboo subject. The next piece of information I got concerning this person was their announcement that they were taking an official leave of absence. Now, in my opinion, had the issue been handled a little better, I could have been helping this person in a variety of ways, not the least of which would be offering up prayers. But, it was all swept under the proverbial carpet.

Now, the announcement of the Dean's new appointment came as a total shock. I should add at this point that I feel very strongly that Jim will do a superb job in this new position and I am happy for him. The announcement came as so much of a shock that most of us students found out through the same article that I linked to above. That is, through the Episcopal News Service and not from the Dean. Now, I believe the announcement from the ENS also came as a surprise to the Dean, because he drafted a letter which was sent out very quickly after the ENS post came across, so that really wasn't anyone's fault except perhaps a hasty journalist. However, why did none of us know that he was being considered for this appointment? I don't think Frank Griswold woke up that morning and said, "You know, I think I'll appoint Jim Lemler today to the position of Missioner..." Or, more frighteningly, did people know and the word was being kept hushed? I have no idea.

To top it all off on matters of communication, when I started bringing it up on here (admittedly somewhat more reactively than was probably appropriate, but this is a place for me to work out and sort through my feelings) people responded in secret! All of a sudden, we're talking in a negative way about the school and people's defenses go sky high and they start talking from behind walls. What's the deal with that? To clarify my position on this I will say that I feel strongly about being accountable for what we say and do. As priests we cannot afford anonymity. How can we be the prophetic preachers we are called out to be as God's ministers if we cannot even sign our name to what we say? As Fr. Driebelbis so aptly put it in a class today, if we start by being able to be square with God, we can be square with others. Now, I need as much work on this in some areas as the rest of us do, but I've done you, faithful readers, the courteousy of letting you know who I am.

This will no doubt be met with objections, most of which I have heard before surrounding the controversy of what happened with the Gospel Mission II weblog. To those objections I say: First, if you are concerned with the public nature of this and other blogs and want to be anonymous, be anonymous. But don't be half-assed about it by identifying yourself as a Seabury student/alum/faculty/staff. Second, if you want to be in dialogue with me or are concerned about a conversation I am holding with someone else and want to join in, but don't feel comfortable posting to the site, email me. I want to hear from you and try to understand what you have to say, because I respect you!! I respond with great attention to those kinds of emails and hold them dear to me. So, please don't be left out of the conversation by your unwillingness to post to a public forum or by the absurd 1,000 character limit of my commenting system. But also, please try and gain confidence in being public with what you have to say. The stole is, when all is said and done, a thin piece of material and we can't hide behind it. Even if we could, God hasn't called us out as His minister to be afraid. I say this in love, not out of any attmept to force you to do anything you don't wish to do, but to tell you honestly how I feel about it. I hope it is taken as meant, with and in love.

~Joshua 1:9
~1 Chronicles 22:13
~1 Chronicles 28:20
~Matthew 14:27
~John 14:27
~Acts 18:9


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Tuesday, May 04, 2004

By way of response -

Are we at a masquerade ball of a sudden? If those of you who commented clandestinely to my posting about my inquiries into what’s going on at Seabury were in Trevor's Ethics class this afternoon (and even if you weren't), I would encourage you to heed his words well about getting used to speaking publicly and being a public voice. To respond to my friend "fellow classmate" - getting all the facts before making any decisions is exactly what I am doing. With regard to the source of my information - it comes from all over. My friend that was here earlier this year as a prospective eventually decided to go to another seminary because this seminary was not in a financial position to offer him the aid he would need. That was the deciding factor. This and other things lead me to believe there is a financial problem at the school. I have not heard disagreement. And of course change is inevitable during our tenure here - but 50% of the faculty leaving at one time is hardly what I would call "inevitable". As far as my sources for that, you have them too. Ruth’s email yesterday was extremely helpful and I thanked her for sending it, but why didn’t it come out three months ago? Plus I've talked with several people who are reluctant to share their sources with me! So, why all the secrets? I wanna know. I think the best way to describe how I am feeling, and I hesitate to use this word because of its strength, is a sense of betrayal. Finally, I also believe that I must share in getting the education I desire. But I can't tell a Ph.D program down the road, if I go that route, that even though the institution I attended didn't rank all that high, I made up for it on my own. Yeah...right, they'd say, even if it was the truth. I'm not looking for a smoking gun, but neither am I looking through rose-colored glasses.


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Monday, May 03, 2004

Softball Report

Well, the Seabury Saints/Martyrs fell again to the sword...err...the bat of the NROTC. We had a hard fought game but just coldn't seem to get our bats going. And their pitcher was a jerk. By that I mean he was a good pitcher, even if a bit underhanded (walking men so he could pitch to the women), which makes him a jerk. Denise gets the MVP award for this game as she made some great catches in the field. We'd also like to celebrate Siobhan's return to the field after her injury, albeit as a concerned spectator only. Our cheering section continues to grow and for that, the team thanks you! Next week is our last game and then we start the playoffs (cause everyone makes the playoffs). WIsh us luck and if you're not doing anything, come out and give us some support!

In other news, scroll down and check out the comments under my recent posting entitled "Books". I've attracted the attention of another author about whose book I blogged! How cool is that!? Hey, if I keep this up, when I finally getting around to writing my own novels, I'll have some serious in's in the publishing world!


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I have officially been appointed to the position of the 'Sir Reginald Worthingsworth Longbottom IV Professor of Rhetoric and Grandiloquence' at the Sjlbvdnzv Campus of the University of Blogaria. For a full listing of the other professorships, click on over to Anglobaptist's site, and scroll down on the left.


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Sunday, May 02, 2004


Tonight, both the Sopranos and Deadwood were excellent! Though Deadwood cannot hold a candle to the quality of television that the Sopranos represents, both were still exciting programs. Things are really heating up over in Tony's neck of the woods and I look forward to whether or not Meadow's boyfriend, now finace, lives to actually marry her.

At Canterbury tonight, I entered into a conversation with the young lady who is the Assistant Chaplain wherein she disclosed to me the awful secret that she does not know how to start a fire in order to cook on the grill. I retorted that it will now be my personal mission to learn her this valuable skill before she leaves this establishment of higher learning. You cannot graduate college without knowing how to grill.

I am anticipating, with great excitement and joy, my appointment to a full professorship at the Sjlbvdnzv Campus of the University of Blogaria. MY chaired position and full title will be annouced as soon as the appointment is final.

Reprints of the photos from my Jerusalem trip have been completed and I wrote out all my thank you notes, complete with photos, tonight for immediate dispersal tomorrow.

I do not look forward to the conversation I must have with my bishop tomorrow, though not on any account of his. There is something a-brewin' at Seabury and I aim to find out what it is. Bishop John has a right to know about all this and perhaps he can help me discover just what in the living hell is going on. Over 50% of our faculty are leaving us, including our Dean. Now, while three faculty departures are due to retirement, the others seem to be in a damn fine hurry to get out of here and I don't know why. As a first year student I believe it is not only my right to know, but exceptionally important for the sake of my continued education. I am adding 1 + 1 + 1 together and the number I get is not a number in the black column. No, it is definitely in the red.
1. Seabury is having serious financial problems.
2. Over 50% of our faculty are departing, including the Dean in the middle of a capital campaign drive, which he apparently (though unconfirmed) promised to see through to its conclusion.
3. Many seniors did not sustain on their General Ordination Exams (GOE's) this year, meaning they failed certain sections.
These things do not add up to a pretty picture and I intend to find out what exactly is going on and I intend to involve my bishop in the discussion, because if plans need to be made, in haste, for my transfer to a school not in hot water, then he needs to be privy and on board. I, unlike others, am making my concerns known and I hope it can be resolved without any drastic measures being taken. But, my academic future is that which is on the line here and I do not want to be shortchanged in the end.


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Exciting Weightlifting News

The Men's Health Magazine this month has come out with the year's "Average Guy Statistics", and I was thrilled to read them!

The Average Guy...was in the best shape of his life at age 23: hold's true so far for me.
...has 13 inch biceps: 13.25"
...can do 27 pushups: 46 before collapse
...can bench press 93% of his body weight: 119%
...has a 16.2" back: 21"
...has 20.4" thighs: 20"
...can run 1.5 miles in 12.5 minutes: could run a leisurely 8 minute mile, so this is pretty close.
...fav gym equipment is the barbell: dumbbell
...least fav gym equipment is the treadmill: treadmill

So, I guess I'm doing pretty good, physical fitness wise. There is still, however, a long way to go.


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Another Fine Evening

Though somewhat silly, this evening was quite fine. I met Kate and Julia for a movie, which they picked. When they said they wanted to see this film, my reaction was, "Oh boy..." The movie in question was "Thirteen Going on Thirty". The only, and I stress only, reason I agreed to go was the general hotness of Jennifer Garner. Now, even that small boon was diminished by the fact that she was acting like a 13 year old! She can't be hot when she is acting like that! Grrr... Anyway, the movie definitely falls into that most abysmal of categories - cute. What made up for that fact (aside from the fact I was out with two gorgeous and amazingly fun women) was that I was completely confused throughout the entire film. Yes, you heard it here first folks - a Jennifer Garner film confused me. I am going to ruin the end of the movie here, mostly because my respect level for it is low, so if you're in dire need of a surprise ending from this chic-flick, don't read ahead. From the very beginning, I was under the impression that the character of Matt was Garner's character's brother. (As it turns out, he was her best friend, not brother.) So, for the rest of the film, which is largely taken up by them falling in love, I was repulsed and confused. What was worse was the fact that Julia and Kate seemed unconcerned by this repugnant matter! After the movie they lovingly explained it to me, like the two year old I am and we all had a good laugh. On the plus side, I presented them with the Jerusalem crosses I got for them and they were quite taken aback. I began by telling them that in Jerusalem, olive trees are a big business and one of the things they are good for is beautiful wood carvings, which many craftsmen carve into crosses. They just thought I was telling "another Whitley story", but when they turned and saw me standing there holding two such crosses out to them, their faces lit up, doing the same to my spirit. Such a moment is always worth it.

In other news, Dr. Cooper and I have been emailing back and forth about my Jerusalem trip. She is my favorite professor from WFU and really a mentor to me in all things academic, spiritual, and temporal. She got to the end of her email and said that all which she had previously written didn't matter, but that what did matter was whether I had done something which we had talked about at some length. It was a matter of the heart you see, and a matter that is an extremely difficult and complicated situation. The answer is no; I have not done as she suggested and I wish she wouldn't have brought it up again because she is completely correct and I know it. I know what to do and I know that I have such trouble doing it because the situation doesn't meet my specifications, my standards, my needs. I notice in this three separate "my" statements and that is not coincidental. This control freak just has trouble letting go. This control freak is waiting for the fairy tale "perfect moment" and this control freak knows, in his head, that such things do not exist outside the pages of books. I have to make my own book. I have to write my own ending. Who knew writing, the utilization of words, would be so difficult for me, Ryan R. Whitley, the grandiloquent - the mouse...


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Saturday, May 01, 2004

Sabeel Conference Article

For those of you who have not yet seen it, there is an excellent article on the Episcopal News Service website about the Sabeel Conference Newland and I attended in Jerusalem. It is long, but gives a good summary of the conference in general and, specifically, of the individual speakers. To get to it, click here.


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Totally at Peace

After a lovely dinner at The Olive Mountain, a Middle Eastern restaurant here in Evanston, with some seminary friends I returned home for what would amount to a wonderfully sublime evening. I made a pot of decaf coffee, which I seasoned lightly with cinnamon. Once it was finished, I drank it while eating a small bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, which, quite possibly, is one of the tastiest foodstuffs invented. After the ice cream was finished, I continued drinking my coffee while watching a very good movie, The Cider House Rules. It was the touching story of a young man who grew up in an orphanage and had to finally leave it in order to find himself. During the movie, one of the nurses at the orphanage recites the prayer for in the evening which I know and love:

"O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then, in thy mercy, grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen."

After the film was over, and after hearing that prayer at least twice in the movie, I had the overwhelming urge to say Evening Prayer I. I decided that I would go and sit on the balcony outside to say it, so I gathered up my coat and prayer book and went outside. There, I said Evening Prayer I, by myself, to the whole city of Chicago, the whole state of Illinois, the whole United States of America, the whole world. As I concluded, I felt a powerful peace alight upon me and somehow felt like the day was now truly done. There was nothing left to accomplish for today. So, I leave you with that oblation.


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