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Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Cookout Humor 

Tonight was a cookout night for the newly arrived Liberian family at the church and yours truly was the grill meister. It was loads of fun adn the family seemed much more at ease today than yesterday. While chatting with some parishoners there, I told the story of the Lambda Chi Alpha/Kappa Kappa Gamma Luau pineapple question. At this Luau, held several years ago now, I was making pineapple boats, and one young lady walked up to me, picked up a toothpick with a pineapple attached and asked me, "Is it healthy?" Now, she was a Kappa and so prone to asking such questions, and so I just smiled and said, "Yes, Elizabeth, it's healthy." This story elicited several chuckles from the parishoners and one said, "You missed your golden opportunity to ask the perfect question back! You should have asked in return, "Why? What are you going to do with it?"

-R

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Praise God, From Whom All Blessings Flow 

The refugee family from Liberia has arrived; we welcomed them at the airport tired and strained from their two day journey which began in Freetown, Sierra Leone. They are overwhelmed as I had suspected, but overwhelmed in a good way. Their new home is lovely! After we left yesterday, the furniture was all installed and all the heavy lifting was done. Then, the women came in to give the place a feminine touch and decorate the place nicely. So, when we arrived tonight it looked marvelous! There was all kinds of cool things for the children, like sports equipment and magazines, and a TV. The parents were excited to be there and I am so happy for them. I will return to their house at 9am tomorrow to check on them and make sure everything is ok, as they do not yet have phone service. Then, I'm preaching at the 10am wednesday service at St. Luke's. And, while I had a sermon sort of worked out, that all changed when I saw these four wonderful faces coming towards me in O'Hare tonight. So, I'll be working out the new sermon in the shower, which I'm going to now. I feel...successful, again, much like I felt while doing the clinical work of CPE. I'm doing ministry. I'm doing what God has called me to do and there is no feeling like it in the world. Pray for us. Pray for the family, that they may adapt well and that all that may go right, so does.

-R

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Monday, July 25, 2005


Rolling Out the Red Carpet 

One of the most unique and successful ministries at St. Luke's is their refugee program. They work with a local organization to locate and bring refugees from war-torn countries to the United States. They have been working in recent months to bring a family over from Liberia - two parents, two children. We've been collecting home furnishings, clothes, and monies to prepare for their arrival, which could be at any time; we wouldn't get much notice. The call came late last week - they would be arriving at O'Hare airport Tuesday evening. That meant we had a very short amount of time to finalize arrangements for their living environment and get everything ready. I spent the afternoon and early evening driving around in a big ole truck to collect all the furniture people wanted to donate and then install it in what will be the family's coach house. They now have two couches, three beds, a microwave, a dishwasher, three desks, two tables, a nice set of chairs, kitchen pots and pans, cooking and eating utensils, bath towels, linens, and a couple of bookshelves. It was good hard work, and each time I began to hear my body groan, I quietly reminded myself why we were doing this. I am going with the group to meet them at the airport tomorrow night and cannot wait to greet them and see thier faces. When they get to their new home, there will be a hot meal waiting for them on their new table. From war, land mines, death squads, mud, homelessness, and fear they will walk into their own, fully furnished coach house where no one is trying to kill them and no war is raging in their streets. I feel honored and humbled to be a part of this and cannot adequately describe how it is affecting me. I suspect, whatever feeling this is, it will increase once we meet them. Tonight, I go to bed in great anticipation, with a smile creeping across my face.

-R

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Saturday, July 23, 2005


The Funniest Moment in Willy Wonka 

I saw "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" tonight and loved it (except for the obnoxious guy who sat next to me and laughed loudly at every little thing).

But, one moment stood out from the rest, and it had less to do with the film, and more to do with the audience.

Fans of the original film version will recall the T.V. kid and how he "goes". In this version of the film, they have to wear protective goggles in the T.V. room that look like overgrown 3-D goggles. And when they leave, they all deposited them in a little plastic bin that looked like a trash can. I laughed out loud. I was the only one. I was in a room with 349 of my best friends and none of them except me understood why that was funny. Or maybe they understood and just didn't think it was funny.

-R

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Guys! Listen Up! 

I learned this rule last night, which I believe to be in a subset of rules under the "Does this dress make me look fat?" category.

If, when asked, you don't care for an outfit that the lady is wearing and there is no opportunity for her to change, you compliment the outfit and the lady.

If, when asked, you don't care for an outfit that the lady is wearing and there is an opportunity for her to change, you compliment the lady and suggest that the outfit isn't the best.

Thoughts?

-R

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Friday, July 22, 2005


In Other News... 

Taylor called me tonight from where he lives in D.C. He asked if I knew the Jambo was going on right now, and I said that I did not. (Taylor and I were both Boy Scouts - the Jambo (Jamboree) is the huge National Scouting Event. It takes place in both D.C. for the start and then at Fort A.P. Hill for the end and is the premier camping international scouting experience. I went in '97. Basically, it's 33,000 scouts in one place.) Well, I laughed and said he must feel invaded. He said he encountered two scouts today from Santa Clara, CA. One of them was wearing a patrol patch that looked like a wedge of cheese, and the other bore a patrol patch emblazoned with an iPod. We both decided we'd rather be in the Cheese patrol. I said, my, how the times have changed and we recalled the days when the coolest patrol patch was either the Sharks or the Dragons. He said he felt the need to share that story with me, one scouter to another.

Watched Hellboy tonight and was surprised by how much I liked it. A strange mix of comic book (anti-)hero action, occult stuff, and the catholic faith defending against demons. It was kinda fun! Unlike most of the other superhero movies we've had a rash of lately, this one was appropriately dark.

I finished Dan Simmons' Fall of Hyperion this afternoon. I really liked this story (including the previous book) and thought it was quite original. I can see, retrospectively, how a lot of sci-fi/fantasy authors/filmmakers have borrowed from some of Simmons' ideas. Lots of cool time travel stuff, so if you're in to that, this is your story. Instead of going right on to read the next one, Endymion, which apparently takes place 247 years into the future of where Fall left off, and seems to me to be an entirely different story, I've decided to re-read The Trilogy. It is time. That's all there is to it.

-R

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Dinner at Reba Place 

On Monday morning I received a phone call from some parishoners at St. Luke's who wanted to invite me to dinner. I was honored and immediately agreed to join them. They gave me their address and off I went. But they don't really live in what I would call a normal household. As it turns out, they live in an intentional Christian community, called Reba Place, which is but only two blocks away from where I live. Several people, some family, others not, plus two interns (students studying intentional community living) live in this house designated to this communal lifestyle in the Mennonite religious tradition. The people I knew from St. Luke's actually only attend there every other Sunday, attending the Reba Place Church (Mennonite) on the other Sundays. I thought the whole idea was fascinating. So, the dinner was magnificent and I met lots of really cool new people, three of whom I actually saw at the Y today. New gym buddies is always a good thing. They have community living rules, like everyone is expected at breakfast and dinner each day and they have a rotating schedule of cooking duties. Prayer meetings are once a week on Tuesday mornings. Small group discussion and meditations are once a week on Thursday evenings. I had no idea such a place existed outside the realm of monasteries! As it turns out, incidentally, one of the women there was an avid Tolkien fan and we got to talking about the books. Others quickly chimed in, fans as well, until one said to the first woman, "Why don't you bring down your illustrations to show him?" I say I would relish the opportunity to see such things. She had apparently made one pencil illustration for each chapter of the book, choosing a moment or a phrase from that chapter to bring to life in a drawing. I waited with bated breath to see these, unsure how I was going to react to them. With such a book, so visual in its written form, and with such a reader as most Tolkien fans are likely to be, we already have our own images locked in of what these things, people, and places look like. (Now, with the advent of the films, most of us have two images: the film's version and the way things really are in our minds.) She brought them down and I was stunned. They were astonishingly beautiful. Sure, a few things felt not quite right to me, but the love and labor of this decade long project was extremely evident. She had accurately captured some favorite moments as well as some unlikely ones, highlighting scenes or characters generally regarded as peripheral. I asked if she had done anything in the way of getting them published. John Howe and David Day are great, but fresh images (which frankly means new and inspired calendars!) are always a bonus. She said she had made some inquiries, but had really had no success. I suggested sending a facsimile of some images, because I felt sure someone would take her up on it - they were that good, both technically and creatively speaking. She said she wanted to pursue it and I hope for the world of Tolkien fans that she will. So, it was really a marvelous night, filled with new friends and some excellent surprises. I, of course, came home and immediately watched some of the DVD extras from the extended version of the Fellowship, having worked myself up to a Tolkien frenzy.

-R

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Monday, July 18, 2005


Two Scripture Ponderables 

I've been thinking about one of these for a few days now, and the second one came up tonight. The first originated in my work for the Disseminary, as I worked on Francis J. Hall's Theological Outlines. The passage in question is Luke 1:26-38, the Annunciation to Mary. As I was talking with a classmate, the question arose, "How much can we really say Mary consented to this whole business?" A fine question that Hall addresses some. The 38th verse is where we derive the idea that Mary consented, but could she have withheld her consent? Was the plan for the salvation of the world contingent upon the consent of a 12-15 year old Palestinian Jewish girl? Hall says no, for several reasons. First, Mary was predisposed to consent. Second, this predisposition was one of the reasons God chose her. Third, had she refused, God would have found another way/another virgin; Mary could not have thwarted the Master's plan. Well, that's all well and good, says my friend, but can we really call something consent if you're preordained, or even just predisposed to consent? I said, yes, we can. Because for this whole enterprise to work out, there must be an exercise of free will. By the will of one man sin entered into humanity, thusly, by the will of one man, sin will be defeated. Mary could have said no, but she would not have done so, because she was a servant of God and was predisposed to consent. St. Augustine reminds us that the only real definition of free will is to submit that will back unto God, who gave it. To thwart God is not so much an exercise of your free will as it is an indication of your continuing slavery to sin. So, what do you think, faithful reader? How far can we go in calling what Mary did "consent"?

The second ponderable came from the Vestry meeting at St. Luke's tonight. The passage in question is 1 Kings 3:3-15. This is the sequence in which Solomon asks God not for riches and military victory, but for a wise and discerning heart. Because he asks this, and not for the other things, God is pleased and grants to him that which he asked, plus those things for which he did not ask. Then, we find out (in verse 15) that Solomon awoke, and, the NRSV renders it, "it had been a dream". So, the question posed as the meditation tonight was, "Did Solomon actually get these things? Or was it just a dream with no actual consequences and Solomon gets all that stuff through his own saavy?" Interestingly enough, the Hebrew here leaves us a bit short and translation is left to fill the gaps, as it so often is. The words in Hebrew say that "Then Solomon awoke. Behold/See/Now, a dream." The phrase "it had been" is included to make grammatical sense in English that the Hebrew does not require. My answer to the question is that Solomon did receive all these things. The immediate textual evidence is the subsequent passage wherein he displays his newfound wisdom in the case of the two prostitutes arguing over motherhood rights. Then, throughout Kings, we see the wealth of Solomon displayed, his military victories are decisive, and he has more wives than he knows what to do with. The word for dream used is cholem, which is divided up into subcategories, and the editors of the lexicon place this usage under "prophetic dreams". I think they are justified and right in so doing. What is your opinion? Did Solomon actually receive these qualities as a gift from God because he asked for them in a dream? And, if so, as I think he did, what does that suggest to you about what goes on in your dreams, as well as having the courage to actually ask God for what you want and need? This is a courage I often lack.

-R

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A Real Sunday 

Yesterday was a real Sunday. I got to go to church with friends and sit with them for the service. Afterwards, we had a brunch at a local diner, while talking and laughing. Then I came home and was lazy for the remainder of the afternoon. It was about as pleasant as can be. Bob agreed to preach at my ordination service, whenever that ends up being (likely Dec. 2006). He was shocked and honored. He said he was going to get to work on it right away. I laughed and said, "No, you're not. You're going to work on it 30 minutes before the service like you always do! I don't want you to show up witha carefully thought out manuscript. I want you to come, start preaching by telling a Mulla Nasrudin story, wander around a bit while rambling about something else, find you point again, lose it again, wander some more, tell another story, laugh when you find your point again and decide to end it while you're ahead!" He was laughing so hard he almost couldn't eat anymore.

During the Gospel, I noticed a woman two pews in front of me have a terrible reaction to the incense. She got this awful look on her face, immediately pulled out her albuterol inhaler, took a couple of puffs, and spent the next few minutes breathing shallowly and with considerable effort. She eventually had to excuse herself. So, she and her friend obviously being visitors, when it came time for the offertory (where they use incense again), I leaned forward, tapped her on the shoulder and alerted her to the imminent usage of more smoke. She thanked me profusely and got up to walk to the back. Don't get me wrong, I love incense. But, I'm also asthmatic and I know all to well what it is like to not be able to take a breath. No one should have to experience that. During all this, I looked across the way to see K sitting there, but he ran out before I could go over and say hi. Hope you enjoyed it and will come back.

Spent 30 minutes last night slaying mosquitoes in my bedroom. Last year, it was spiders. This year I took preventative measures against the spiders, which apparently have been effective, as their natural food has now swarmed the place. Why are there mosquitoes in Chicago?? They've gotten lost from FL clearly. When is winter coming!!

-R

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Saturday, July 16, 2005


Steaks and Scotches 

What a fun and surprising night! Bob, his niece (Andrea) and her husband (Hank), and I all went out to dinner at Pete Miller's, a local fancy steakhouse. The steaks were good, I thought, but certainly not worth the price. Andrea's steak was not cooked properly and had to send it back and Hank's was not to his liking either, but he kept his. Bob's was fine, and mine was a little more done than I would have liked but I did not send mine back either. It was neat to get to know this couple - two more friends I now have in Evanston! Hank is working on his Ph.D. in Philosophy at Northwestern and Andrea is working. They are roughly my age and it will be neat to get to know them more. Both of them love the church, especially high church, and attend St. Luke's when they can, which is rare these days as Andrea works on Sunday mornings. Hank says he doesn't like to go alone, but now he knows me so perhaps he will inclined to come more often. It's not called evangelization if the folks are already baptized members of the Body is it? But, it's getting people through the doors.

After supper, we came back to my apartment for some fine scotches (Bob helped me learn about Scotch), some great conversations, story-telling, and reminiscing. I am meeting them tomorrow morning at Peet's for some coffee before the 10am St. Luke's service, and then we will sojourn there to worship together again. Bob doesn't know this (nor does he read the blog, so I'm safe in saying so), but I decided a while back that I want him to preach at my ordination** to the priesthood. I've been waiting for a good time to ask him, and now that he's here in person, it seems like said good time has arrived. It will be a sermon you'll not soon forget, if you've not heard a Bob McGee sermon before, so if you come to my ordination for nothing else, come to hear Bob preach.

Like I said, earlier, sometimes God just knows when you need a visit from a saint.

-R

[Later: BrotherBeal has pointed out to me that I forgot to write in the asterisked footnote. So, here it is.


** - Ordination dependant upon the will of God.]

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Just the Right Thing 

Sometimes, the Lord provides just the right thing to soothe an aching soul. I woke up this morning and went to the Turin Bike Shop super sale event and came away with a pair of gloves, a pair of bike shorts, and a pump - all at their ridiculously low sale prices.

Then, when I got home, I had a voice message from my college chaplain who is in town tonight visiting his neice and then will continue on his way to his favorite vacation spot in Montana. But, not before we get together, catch up on old times, and enjoy a Scotch or two. He is likely the most influential clergy person in my life and I can't wait to see him.

-R

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Friday, July 15, 2005


Cidade de Deus 

I just watched the movie that "Sin City" wished it could have been, at least in story line. What "Sin City" accomplishes through slick images and special effects, "Cidade de Deus" accomplishes through sheer power of storytelling. Translated from Portuguese, as you've no doubt guessed, it means "City of God" and it follows the life of a budding photographer named Rocket who comes from the slums. As a child, Rocket tries to be like the other cool kids, but doesn't quite fit in, and when it comes time for the rubber to meet the road, he discovers he lacks the motivation. But, from the viewers' point of view, this is ok, because the cool kids are all wanna-be gangsters, thieves, drug addicts, and murderers. The film is a window into a life I will, almost certainly, never know; more than that, though, it is a window into one generation that is not unique. They have followed the way of their predecessors and there weill be those who follow them in a continuing cycle of death. Rocket does not play a hero. He does not try to participate in this (well he tries once or twice but fails comically) nor does he try to stop it. What he does do is follow it, and eventually, document it in photographs. He stands to lose everything, but when you start with nothing, this seems to be an acceptable risk. I really enjoyed this film even though it disturbed me and left me discomforted. The characters were all so lively, so real and memorable. The location was as much of a character as the people, and I like stories that pull that off. Check it out, but be prepared for subtitles. It's worth the read.

-R

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Thursday, July 14, 2005


There's No Crying in Baseball 

"Hurt" as performed by Johnny Cash:

I hurt myself today
to see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
the only thing that's real

the needle tears a hole
the old familiar sting
try to kill it all away
but I remember everything

what have I become?
my sweetest friend
everyone I know
goes away in the end

and you could have it all
my empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

I wear this crown of thorns
upon my liar's chair
full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair

beneath the stains of time
the feelings disappear
you are someone else
I am still right here

what have I become?
my sweetest friend
everyone I know
goes away in the end

and you could have it all
my empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
if I could start again
a million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way

-R

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Lakefront Trail; All-Star Party; Interesting Recipe 

Got up this morning around the time God Himself begins thinking about getting out of bed to go biking - the trip that was suppossed to happen last Thursday but was postponed by my flat tire. Today it went off without a hitch, unless you count rain, but we didn't. Rode through Roger's Park, following "to the Trail" signs and then rode down through the Lincoln Park area on the Lakefront Trail which was amazing! Aside from the few bursts of rain, the remnants of Hurricane Dennis making their way to Chicago, it was a great time. Well, and even the rain wasn't too bad. I got my first experience riding in it, and that was ok (I am thankful I got the helmet with the visor as it kept my glasses dry). It was also my first experience riding with someone else, so having to pay attention to where they were, when they were braking, that sort of thing. Then, there's always the random guy riding on the wrong side of the rode as he whips around the corner. About 12 miles in all, so it was a decent ride. I am quite sore today though, as yesterday was my first day back in the gym since injuring my hand. My muscles don't like me. They actually do, they just don't know it right now.

The All-Star party I had tonight was fun and the chicken was good. Jeff and Leigh had to leave early to get to a hockey game he was in, leaving me with three fellow seminarians who were just there for the social aspect and didn't give two hoots about the game, so that was kinda funny.

Last night I tried a new recipe that was interesting, good but interesting. Get a steak, coat it with black pepper (preferably coarsely ground peppercorn) and then some salt, but not too much. Then rub some vegetable oil on it and then coat it in fresh coffee grounds. Grill to taste. It's an odd combination of flavors that is surprisinging tasty. I'm betting if you prepare it for someone and don't tell them what is on it, they'll have a heck of a time identifying the flavor. It's interesting that way.

Didn't get much sleep last night. Had a dream in which I did something terrible and woke up with a splitting headache - worst headache I can remember having actually. I couldn't move my head at all and couldn't get back to sleep for an hour or so. So, I'm tired now. Showering and hitting the sack.

-R

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Sunday, July 10, 2005


McCormick Trail 

This evening, I biked the McCormick Trail from where I live North to where it stops (Golf, as near as I can tell), then back South (Devon, as near as I can tell) to where it stops, and then back home. It was a lot of fun, and a great paved trail. There were a few other cyclists out there, some joggers, some dog walkers, and some kids - all easily negotiable. The most important thing, the cars were a blessed distance away from me. I'm still not used to people zooming about a foot from me at 45 mph. It was kinda short trail, but I liked it so much, I may try to come up with alternate ways of getting there so that my total trip can be longer than the 8.5 miles it was tonight. So, some things I learned this evening while biking:

Just when you get going uber fast on a long straightaway stretch with no one on it, you'll see a four year old dart out from some bushes in front of you and then have the presence of mind to play chicken with you. Avoid them. They are not worth 100 points.

Those fly/gnat things that have been dying on my doorstep and in my windows - they fly in swarms and will be happy to die on your face and arm while you are biking. Solution: put your head down and let them eat helmet.

When someone walking their dog obviously has the left lane of the bike path (they divide them into lanes, I think that's awesome) and you say, "on your right", they will still move to the left instinctually. Make sure to slow down next time, say "on your left" and thus avoid confusion and a possible mishap.

When passing a gaggle of teenage girls and you say, "on your left", sometimes they will respond in that snot nosed tone of voice peculiar to teen age girls, "Permiso, por favor! Coooonnnn permiiiissooo!" A funny thing to do is to turn around, pass them again, only this time say as you pass them, "Con permiso, por favor, a la izqierda." This will send two of the three into fits of laughter and will put a lovely color of red on the third's face. Every now and again this gringo can recall a few words from high school spanish.

Eastern European men will thank you profusely for not running down their two year old daughter who is playing the trail. They will thank you so adamantly and sincerely you will wonder how many daughters he has lost this way.

-R

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Warning. Spoilers Ahead - Donnie Darko 

Ok, now I have seen the film, Donnie Darko twice in three days. I watched it once, then decided I had to watch it again with some other folks who I could talk with about it afterwards. It was just too bizarre of a film to let go.

I've done some thinking about it now and have come up with my take on it. It's very complicated (the concept, not my take), but then again, anything dealing with multiverses is.

There are two timelines going on at once, running parallel. One we will call the Death timeline and one the Life timeline. This is done to avoid calling one reality and one alternate, because they are both real, both possible. In the Life timeline, Donnie survives the accident with the turbine. Conversely, in the Death timeline, he does not. Things are moving merrily along in the Death timeline when the accident occurs. All we see of this timeline is the very beginning and the very end of the film. Donnie is crushed by the falling jet engine. He and Gretchen never meet, but both Gretchen and Frank are alive. However, the jet turbine came through the portal from the Life timeline. It is what the Sparrow book called the "artifact", though, for the life of me, I can't determine its religious symbolism as the book suggests it has. (Text of the book available on donniedarko.com, (passwords: smurf, breath, rose) but you have to go through a hell of a lot of trouble to access it.) So, how did it get there?

In the Life timeline, Frank is murdered by Donnie. Frank obviously would prefer that this does not happen. In order to prevent his death, he has to ensure that Donnie "rights" things, aligns the space-time so that when the two timelines converge via the black hole that is created by their divergence, that it is the Life timeline that is destroyed and the Deah timeline that survives and continues. Via the portals, I'm assuming created by the black hole, Frank somehow manages to time travel to the Life Timeline and is wearing his halloween costume, because that is what he was wearing when he was killed in the Life timeline in the future from his perspective. By means of his manipulations, he shows Donnie how many people have to be destroyed in order for him to survive, making Donnie wish he had been killed, so that he will do what is in his power to "purge" the Life timeline events, when the moment of re-convergence comes. The deal is sealed with the senseless death of Gretchen, Donnie's girlfriend. The boys in the pantyhose masks are at the house to ensure that events are set in motion that will lead to her death. Explain it by saying they were there to steal the jewels said to be in her house. That really doesn't matter though. As the book says, the Manipulated Living have no choice in the parts they play. Gretchen dies, and the black hole opens. When this happens, one of the parallel universes will be annihilated. Donnie makes the decision to travel back in time, via the black hole portal, to the moment when the jet engine falls though his room, but this time he will not move. He will be killed, thereby saving his girlfriends life. Donnie's actions seem to be selfless and Frank's seem to be selfish. I'm not sure if they actually are or not.

Questions remaining. Why does Frank call Donnie out in the beginning at all? It seems to me that if he left well enough alone, the Life timeline would never have the chance to exist.

What role does the physics teacher play? It seems he knows more than he lets on. Why does he have the book?

Does God play a role? Is there a God in the world of "Donnie Darko"? I read one commentary that stated the film was the Gospel: Donnie was Jesus, Frank was God, Gretchen was Donnie's 'Last Temptation' (film was playing at the Cineplex)/Mary Magdalene, Donnie's friends the abandoning apostles. I think this idea is silly, but someone has suggested it. I'm not sure God exists in the world of "Donnie Darko". The end of the film makes a poignant claim that those who seem to have it all together are the ones who can't sleep at night and those who acknowledge life's challenges and difficulties and accept their existence are the ones who are content when they are alone with their thoughts.

What role does Graham Greene's short story, "The Destructors" play? Has anyone read it? What is Graham Greene all about? Likewise, Richard Adams' "Watership Down"? It's been a long time since I read that!

In the middle of the Life timeline sequences, does Donnie know he has died in the parallel universe? I think he does. He looks at his girlfriend directly in class when he explains about the rabbits of Watership Down and how rabbits only want to "fuck and fuck and fuck until they die." Also, in the auditorium with Cunningham presenting, he travels forward in time and says so.

Where does Donnie go and what is happening to him when he somnambulates? How many parallel universes are there and how many torment him? How much are we not seeing?

I think the movie is about selfishness and selflessness and how both have their consequences, but that, unlike Donnie, it is not given to us to know the consequences before they happen. This film was an experiment, a chance to see consequences before they happen, and to say that not choice, no path through this life is without sacrifice. Even if it is just the sacrifice of the other choice, of what could have been. I think the director is trying to say, "Look. Here is how things are. If you don't like it, tough. Cause look here, here's how thing could have been. And you know what? In both places its pain and loss. That's life. The secret is to find beauty and life amidst that. I don't know how to do that, but I think it has something to do with selflessness." At least, that's what I think. Now I've spent too much time on this and am going to bed.

-R

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Friday, July 08, 2005


And so it begins... 

Following several predictions that this year's Hurricane season would be worse than last year's, the first storm of the season is about to strike. Dennis is already a Category 4 'cane, with max sustained winds of 135 mph. Cuba lies directly in it's current path, but it must pass through some very warm water before that, likely causing it to gain strength. Then it will enter the Gulf, and what is does from there, no one can really tell. Charley and Ivan did the same thing last year. My hometown is right there. Jeb has declared a state of emergency. We're not ready for this again. The last time I was home and drove I-75, there are tens of thousands of people still living in FEMA trailer cities, people whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed last year and have yet to get back on their feet altogether. Two large trees in my yard, Dad informs me, we cut down in preparation for this season. Trees I grew up with. But better to cut them down than to have them blast through the roof. Last year we got lucky, only a small branch punctured our roof, and that over the garage. We, as the state of Florida, are not ready for this again. Hurricanes - leave us the hell alone! And I can do nothing, sitting here in Chicago. Well, what could I do if I was home? Help prepare. Help clean up. Attend the Hurricane Party my family is throwing this Saturday! (That means getting the generator out, battening down the hatches, stocking up on supplies, setting up the fans, and all while drinking hurricanes.) Just...leave us the hell alone...

-R

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Biking Adventures 

Got up very early this morning to go on short bike trip with Brooke. As it turned out, it was far shorter than anticipated due to a flat tire I acquired on the way to meet him. So, we walked the bikes back to my apartment, had a cup of coffee and chatted for an hour or three. I then took my bike up to the shop; I get free flat repairs or six months there, so why not use it right? I was in and out of there in five minutes. By that point I was all psyched up to go biking, but it was the middle of the day, which means heavy traffic and heat. So, I waited. Plus, I had a job to get to. Later this evening, I did 10 miles by myself, touring west Evanston and parts of Skokie. The roads heading East are, for some reason, far bumpier than the same roads heading West. It was a lot of fun and very freeing. My posterior is still not used to the seating arrangements, but it will have to toughen up.

I was all ready to write about a conversation this morning about the potential ethics of blogging and why different people blog, plus some comments on storytelling in general, but now I am wicked tired and ready to shower and go to sleep. Francis J. Hall's Theological Outline awaits my attention at the scanner in the morning. Today the OCR program rendered the following phrase: "Miracles are extraordinary sins of God." It meant to read "signs", but failed. Yeah, that's the kind of thing I find amusing.

-R

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Thursday, July 07, 2005


Summer Sees New Bloggers 

Three new bloggers have recently come to my attention, to add to the few I've posted about in the past weeks. I guess summer finds us student types with a bit more time on our hands. So, a few introductions are in order.



Welcome, y'all, to Blogaria!

-R

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Check 

Last Wednesday, I helped do a funeral at St. Lukes. The departed was a long time member of the parish community, though she and her husband had been living in Michigan for several years now, I take it. Despite that, they wanted to have the funeral at St. Luke's, so arrangements were made, and her Michigan priest came down here (from vacation actually) to preach and celebrate.

The woman who died was an avid art enthusiast, I learned after talking with her husband. It was therefore appropriate that during the sermon, the visiting priest told an anecdotal story featuring a piece of art to help make his point. I was very impressed with the tale and thought it really worked well in a funeral sermon, particularly for celebrating the life of an art lover.

The story went something like this:

In the National Gallery of London, there hangs a painting. Depicted in the painting are two men sitting at a small table. On the table is a chess board, and, if one looks closely enough, one can see that the game is nearing its conclusion. On the far side of the table, bigger than life, is an old man, head thrown back in macabre laughter, smoking a cigar. On the near side of the table is a young man, head held low in defeat. Some have suggested that these two represent Mephistopheles and Faust. The painting is entitled "Checkmate". While on a school trip to the gallery, a young man sat for almost the entire duration of the field trip in front of this work, staring at it. When his teachers came to collect him at the end, he stood up and shouted, "It's a lie! The king has one move left!" And, if you look at the game, you will see that the young man is correct. It is not checkmate after all.

As you can imagine, this worked very well in a funeral sermon. That which seems to be the end is not the end, because the king has one move left. The power of Jesus' resurrection - defeating death - overcomes death's checkmate maneuvers.

I liked it. In fact, I liked it so much that today, I decided I would love to see the actual picture. I wanted to see what it looked like and I also wanted to see if I could find the king's one last move. So I did a google search. I came up with no images. I looked in art sites, at the National Gallery of London's site, and at poster print sites. Nothing. What I did find though were lots of paintings called "Checkmate", but not this one and tons of funeral sermons wherein this story had been used. So, the preacher wasn't as clever or original as I had thought. That is disappointing enough. But, what I will really be disappointed about is if this painting doesn't exist at all. That someone, once upon a time, invented this story and preachers have been lifting it ever since. That would be really disheartening. We're celebrating the life of someone dear to us! How can we do that with a lie? If the preacher is unsure of the truth of the story, he should have looked it up as I did. Why would they not want to actually see this piece? Please, someone save the day and locate this art piece. Someone restore my faith in this preacher by pointing me to the piece, so I can see it with my own two eyes.

-R

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Monday, July 04, 2005


O Beautiful for Spacious Skies 

Happy 4th of July! To celebrate the day of our nation's birth I exercised my constitutional right to bear arms and shot a bunch of guns at people who looked un-American.

Not really.

I went to school where there was a cookout going on. Well, it developed into a cookout/in as the rains came and went on a whim. It was nice to relax with everyone for a bit and catch up on what folks are doing for the summer. Those going to England on the Prof. Barker trip are getting excited for that. Others are trudging through CPE. Some are teaching; others acting; and a few just resting. An incoming student who lives in the area came to hang out today as well, bringing his family along. His youngest son, Joe (I'd guess a little over a year and a half), was hysterical as he bounded to and fro on seeming limitless energy, waving and proclaiming "Hi!" to anything that moved and a few things that didn't. He was fascinated by the dogs, so long as they were as a distance of great than five feet from him. It was cool to get to know an incoming student a bit before the academic year begins. I'm going to be a senior - the last year - weird. The Ref had some pieces of advice for me about how to look at the situation and I think I'll take it.

Since it was raining, I did not go to see the Evanston fireworks, electing instead to stay in and watch the Braves beat the Cubs 4-0 (Davies pitched very well tonight, going 6.2 innings and LaRoche homered twice to support him). Now, I believe I'll retire early as I need to be in the library early tomorrow for what should be my final day of packing boxes and moving boxes. The guy who is coming to collect them is suppossed to be in sometime between 10 and 2.

-R

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CTA Sing 

This evening, on the way down to Navy Pier to enjoy the fireworks for the holiday, our train car, packed to the absolute gills, suddenly burst into a rousing rendition of the National Anthem. My classmate Matthew and I then led the car in "America, the Beautiful". Others joined in, it was hysterical and a lot of fun. There was much applause at the end of the two songs. What a way to ring in the 4th, even if a bit early.

-R

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Sunday, July 03, 2005


Why a Cover? 

A friend of mine recently celebrated her birthday at a local watering hole. This was the same night as the Skynyrd concert, so Jeff and I met up with her and the others after the show. When we arrived the "Blue Iguana", a place I'd not been to before, they stopped us at the door and asked for our ID's - an expected thing to do. So we gave them and then began to proceed in, but they stopped us again. "That'll be $7 each gentlemen." Oh, ok. Whatever. I figured they had a band going or something. But when we get in there, the two bouncers are guarding an empty stage. It's 11pm, well past starting time for a band. I ask if they had a band earlier. No, came the reply. I inquired about the cover then. There was no reason for it. The answer I got back stunned me. "Well, we are having 75 cent domestic bottles." So, in order to afford to have a drink special, you charge a cover? That's a little sketchy. I had two beers before leaving, which means, plus tip, I paid about $10.50 for two Miller Lites. Ladies and gentlemen - do not go to the Blue Iguana at Sheffield and Wellington. It sucks. Oh, and happy birthday to Julia.

Friday night was a lot more fun and far cheaper. Yael and I joined Leigh (Jeff's girlfriend) at Johnny's Icehouse to watch Jeff's team trounce their opponent in hockey, 13-1, two goals of which were Jeff's, from defense. We hung out there afterwards at the little tavern in the rink and had a celebratory drink before heading out. Whoever heard of such a hockey score?! Now the 4th weekend has officially begun and the neighborhood sounds like a war zone. Mortars are exploding fairly regularly, along with the machine gun shots of firecrackers. Though, in my neighborhood, you never know, it might not be fireworks. Actually, it's not that bad, but there was that one time...

Church early tomorrow; the boss lady is out of town on vacation, so I don't think I have to do anything, unless it's pinch hit. I should probably still go to both services, just to be a presence so folks get as much time seeing me around as possible. Grrr...8am...

-R

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Friday, July 01, 2005


You're Hired; Freebird 

After this time of searching for a job, I finally have landed two. The funny thing is that neither of them were any of the jobs for which I applied. A reader of this blog spoke to her boss, who was in need of some help for a project and so called me. I working now at the United Library (Seabury and Garrett) on a large project - they are shipping tons (literally) of books via a company called Theological Book Exchange to seminaries around the world that cannot afford to buy thier own books. It is my task to box all those books up and move them into the shipping area. When telling a friend this, she asked, "Don't you feel like such a man?" I said, "I suppose. But mostly I feel exhausted and sore." It's good work and the pay is decent.

Then, AKMA called me to see if I would be willing to do some work for the Disseminary, his pet project. I agreed, and so after I finish at the library, I'll begin at the Disseminary. Hooray for work!

Last night, Jeff and I met up downtown in Grant Park to go hear two awesome bands who were giving free concerts for the Taste of Chicago: CCR (minus John Fogerty) and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Man, did that rock!! As you can guess, there were people there of all ages, rocking out. Many were giving active demonstrations on their belief that marajuana should be legal while others were content to simply be drinking beer shirtless, showing off a host of tattoos. The music was great, the bands were having a lot of fun, and I got to hear some of my favorite songs live (though, they did not do "Simple Man", may fav) that I never thought I would get to hear. When the first four notes of "Sweet Home Alabama" sounded, the cheers went up all 'round as Johnny Van Zant declared "the South will rise again!" I looked at Jeff and said, "Sorry Detroit." He responded, "We'll kick your ass!" I humbly said back, "I believe you already did." "Freebird" was the encore, of course and it totally rocked. The whole event was awesome! It's stuff like this that makes Chicago a pretty cool place to be.

-R

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