This is one of my favorite pics from last night's parties. It just seems so...appropriate.
Good on ya, Chris. Italian Stallion, indeed. :)


The danger/benefit of reading literature about psychological disorders is self-diagnosis. Reading The Depleted Self, by Donald Capps, for Confession and Forgiveness, I currently have myself pegged as a paranoid narcissist. Excellent!

Seminarians Party!

Last night was tons o' fun!

To beging the evening, several of us went to Triumph, a local brewery. I had a Honey Wheat and half a Snakebite (ale with cider mixed...bad idea) and enjoyed some good conversation. It's good to have extroverted friends who will drag you out to new places. There was a guy next to us studying. Studying at the frikkin' loud bar! I could hardly take my eyes off of his handwriting; it looked more like type than printing. Sara attempted to engage him in conversation but, unfortunately, he wasn't interested...

After Triumph, we headed back to campus where there were two parties going on; one in Hodge (Beer and Bread) and one on my floor in Brown (Happy Birthday, Jessie!). Both were enjoyable, I spent more time with the juniors in Hodge, but was drawn back to Brown a couple times for the pizza and Twister. While I was circulating I also seized the opportunity to break out my camera. Every time I took a picture people asked me if I had a blog. My affirmative answer was met with many smiles and not a few groans, but most people were good sports. Jenny and Amy, pictured at right, actually requested to have their picture posted. You can click on their picture to see more from last night. I'm contemplating carrying a sign that says, "Yes, this picture may end up on the internet." and possibly some release forms.

Going out with people has definitely made me feel more integrated into the community. Given my geeky addiction to blogging and the intensive study that's required of us here, it's easy to sequester myself in my room and ignore the existence of all other humans or enjoyable activities.

So, now that I've spent my morning wisely playing flag football (team name: PC Load Letter), goofing off with puppies and babies, and successfully avoiding awkward encounters with once-upon-a-time friends I will begin the organizing and the studying...

It's Getting A Little Heavy In Here

Time to lighten things up... And who better to do that than Jeff Goldblum and Blake Stokes?

Yeah...I don't know who Blake Stokes is either...

The Mundane Details

This day has felt long and somewhat purposeless. It began with chapel releasing late, necessitating a rush to my 10:40 precept. Given that Friday is the day we have communion, I'm guessing lateness will be a pattern. Maybe I should start sitting near the back.

After lunch, I went to Wachovia to open a new bank account with the extra money from my student loans. I'm not going to be able to pay off my credit card balance right away, but I won't miss any car payments before my next loan disbursement. Finding the bank branch was quite a task and dealing with the "Financial Specialist" was a little too reminiscent of my days at M&T...

Immediately upon returning, I realized I was late for flag football practice. That's right, folks, these seminarians are pretty serious about their flag football. The rules are "modified." Maybe I'll write more about that later. It's interesting. I went in search of this practice and found two guys from the team tossing a ball around on the quad because the practice field was overrun with ultimate frisbee players.

Back to my room I came, with the intention of doing something productive. Instead, I spent an hour and a half catching up on blogs. I was especially glad to see that Shotsnaps was updated. I love all the pictures of that beautiful little family.

Around 5, I again went in search of our flag football team, PC Load Letter, but alas, the ultimate frisbee crowd was still dominating the field. So I oh-so-smoothly pretended to be on a walk rather than going to any specific destination. ...if nothing else, at least I got a little exercise.

Then, the plan was to eat dinner then head to the 'bucks (Starbucks for all you The Office virgins) in order to cheer Susan on. I got caught up in conversation with several colleagues (haha...sounds so adult-like) and missed Margaret and Megan's departure.

The plan for tonight is to go out for beers and then attend about eight gagillion parties. Okay, two parties. We'll see how that goes. Maybe I should just give up on the idea of plans or let other people make plans for me...

All Scripture Is God-breathed

The majority of first year students at Princeton Theological Seminary are required to take Orientation to the Old Testament during their first semester on campus. I'm currently in this class and finding that my undergraduate professors did an excellent job of introducing me to this material. So far, most of the information has been a review of what I learned in Biblical Literature and Biblical Interpretation with Schultz and Old Testament Theology with Tyson (not to mention the twelve credits of additional OT courses I took). If I'd thought of all this before I began attending this twice weekly 8 a.m. lecture, I might have tried to take advantage of advanced placement, but now I'm hooked. Drs. Lapsley and Sackenfeld are excellent lecturers and question answerers. I feel like I would be missing out if I chose not to hear their introduction to the OT.

Anyway, in our first few classes we've been discussing basic questions of canon, authorship and text formation. One of the most prominent theories of the formation of Genesis through 2 Kings is called the Documentary Hypothesis (DH). Here's a crash course for those of you who haven't studied theology to this extent: DH basically says there are three sources of material for the text of the first twelve books of the Protestant OT. One, called "Yahwist," or J for short (those crazy Germans!), and another called "Elohist," or E for short, were probably formed during the time of the divided monarchy. J is associated with the southern kingdon (Judah) and E is associated with the northern kingdom, or Israel. As Isreal was being led into exile, members of that community fled south to Judah. During this time, the J and E traditions were combined to form the "Old Epic." Finally, as Judah went into exile, Priestly writers (P) incorporated more material into the Old Epic, basically giving us the first twelve books we have today. Just think, the texts were formed over several hundred years and the authors didn't even know that they were writing/compililng Scripture.

All of this might give one pause. Does this mean that the Bible is just a bunch of stuff that people wrote down? How do we take God-quotes seriously if the formation of Scripture was such a messy process? Can this theory enrich our reading of the biblical text? Many of my fellow seminarians asked these and similar questions. I was impressed by Dr. Lapsley's response, especially to the last question.

She encouraged us to think of the biblical text (old and new testaments) as a symphony. There are many authors with unique voices and different understandings of the same God. We can see the best picture of God when we listen to all the strains together, letting the various parts of the text work together the way different instruments do in musical composition. It is important to hear the interaction that the J, E, and P have with one another.

An example of this layering of narratives can be seen in the very beginning of Genesis with two different creation accounts. DH says that P contributed the first account (1:1-2:4) while J contributed the second account (2:4b-3:24). Thinking this way, it is interesting to note the differences between the texts. What note does each strike and how do those notes go together? What do we learn from each author (or group of authors)? How does each story shape our image of God?

The DH has further implications for Christians today. If the Old Testament was written over the course of several hundred years and the people writing it down were not aware that they were compiling Scripture, perhaps that means that we, as the Church, are also "composing" Scripture today. The process involved in the development of the first twelve books of the OT speaks to the continuous intimate involvement of God in the life of humanity, it speaks of God meeting people in new situations and giving them a new word for a new time.

Of course, we need to incorporate the Old Story, but we also need to hear God's word to us today. We need to take what we know of God and interpret that for the context in which we live and move and have our being. It is our job to move forward with God, remembering the past, but not idolizing it. We should not try to repeat the same story, but rather we should be moving forward, continuing the story that began with creation.

Why Write a Book About Mary?

Many of you have probably heard of or read the blog by Scot McKnight, Jesus Creed. Recently, Scot gave an open invitation to his readers to become a part of the street team for his most recent book, entitled The Real Mary: Why Evnagelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus. Becoming part of the team meant one would receive not a single copy, but two copies of the book! Being a sucker for a free book, especially books by people whose writing I appreciate so deeply, and also being keenly interested in a Protestant reclamation of Mary, the mother of Jesus, I quickly volunteered.

My first duty as part of the street team is to post a link to the Paraclete Press website, so that my readers may take advantage of the 20% discount on copies ordered directly from the publisher between now and November 1.

Here's a small snippet of the introductory chapter:
"I have one final answer to the question, 'Why write a book about Mary?'

"Because the real Mary always leads us to Jesus. When we discover the real Mary, the one who lived in first-century Galilee with Joseph, who I believe nurtured other children, and who struggles at times herself, we also discover someone we can embrace because Mary embraced her son as we are called to do. When you find the real Mary of Scripture, the Mary of the first century, you'll discover that she'll be talking about Jesus and pointing us all to Jesus."
If you're interested in reading more, you can find the first 16 pages or so here. It's a .pdf file, so it might take a moment to load. What I've read so far is exciting and I look forward to reading Scot's book in the midst of my classroom assignments.

The release of the book is happening in early December around the same time that the movie "The Nativity Story" is being released across the country (December 1). The third part of my assignment as a member of the street team is to organize a discussion forum of both Scot's book and the film. More information to come...

Princeton Emergent Cohort Meeting Tonight!

Hey New Jersey readers! If you're in the Princeton area, the Princeton Emergent Cohort will be having it's first meeting of the year tonight and anyone is welcome to join us for some beer and good conversation. The official start time is 8 p.m. The location is Charlie Brown's.

Come join us!

Wonder What Freud Would Have To Say...

It's the beginning of my second week of classes and I've already managed to miss an appointment with the Field Ed office. Some of my fellow students seem to think that missing that particular appointment will do little harm since, in their opinion, the FE office is marginally helpful at best. Alas, in order to do my required placements, I must have this meeting, whether it proves helpful or not.

We have to do two placements and one must be in a local church. As far as I can tell, this doesn't specifically involve preaching, but in most cases it does. Can y'all see my head exploding behind the pulpit? Every student must fulfill this requirement. Most of them seem to come out on the other side in good shape. No one has died yet...

Anyway, I rescheduled the appointment and bought myself a planner that is small and light instead of huge and cumberson like my Franklin Covey. I'm going to take some time this weekend to transfer my syllabi into my planner. I even purchased different colored pens in order to easily differentiate between my various courses. Excitement fills my very soul!

I should stop this nonsense and study some Hebrew, the subject that must needs be constantly studied. WOOT!


As of today, I have completed one full week of classes. True to overachiever form, I really want to start writing papers so that I can start being evaluated. Feedback is essential for life.

That aside, I am especially excited about my pastoral care class called Confession and Forgiveness from a Pastoral Perspective, which finally met for the first time this morning. Strange that I should be most excited about a class that is meant to help me care pastorally, since I am not at all interested in that particular "career path." However, given the fantastic examples of my undergrad and, now, graduate professors, I can see how all Christian teachers fulfill "pastoral" roles at one time or another.

Our professor, Dr. Robert Dykstra, seems a gentle man with a delightful sense of humor and a willingness to tread fearful paths (e.g. homosexuality, racism, etc.) and a lot of love. Apparently, he is the "sex guy" on campus (sort of like Dr. Young at Houghton). He teaches several pastoral care classes that deal with human sexuality, so it seems it's an appropriate designation. I would love to get them in a room together; two bright spirits!

There are fourteen books plus other supplementary readings. More than half of the texts are biographical or autobiographical. We will be discussing topics randing from sexual abuse to concentration camps, sincere apology to Lincoln's second inaugural address. Our final project is an eighteen page autobiographical paper, which is to point to specific events in our past that have shaped our theological viewpoint. Self-analysis is daunting stuff.

From the description Dr. Dykstra gave us in class, we will be learning how to tell the difference between guilt and shame and also how to embrace shame as a central part of our Christian identity. Embracing shame as an essential part of Christian identity... I'm not sure how I feel about that yet, but it's certainly an intriguing idea. In his introductory comments, inspired by Dr. Capps, another professor here at PTS, Dr. Dykstra said that by embracing our shame, we identify with Jesus in his crucifixion, but in dissociating from our shame, we dissociate from the cross, which was an entirely shameful experience for Christ, which he willingly embraced on our behalf. This type of embrace doesn't seem to entail enjoying shame or wallowing in it, but simply being vulnerable in our shame, willing to expose what makes/has made us feel ashamed.

This class is going to be difficult. Yes, the course work is substantial, but there will be an emotional toll as well. Dr. D. stated several times that he doesn't teach this course often because it is difficult for student and teacher alike. We are going to be struggling through some extraordinarily tough issues. I teared up while we were going over the syllabus, I can't imagine what it will be like once we're delving into a book written by a gay man who was alienated by the church or a text about broken families...

It's going to be tough and yet, it is still the class I am most eagerly anticipating. I'm sure this will provide much blog fodder over the next semester. Stay tuned.

My Piece of Sky

This is my piece of sky. I happen to be looking at it right now through the wonders of wireless. Perhaps it seems strange to claim a piece of air viewed through trees, but this piece of sky is entirely symbolic of my new freedom.

For the past three years, I have been couped up in offices, in a world of telephones and cubicles and concrete walls. Now, though the course work is difficult and the desks not entirely comfortable, I get to see the sun, I get to feel the wind, I get to enjoy the leaves falling from the trees.

There is something about being outside that makes me better. It makes me feel more joyful, it makes my think more clearly, and, if you listen to my dear friend, RGR, it even makes me funnier. The ability to experience the cycles of life by sitting under a tree, feeling the chill of newly fallen snow, or smelling the beautiful scent of dirt and freshly cut grass makes me feel much more connected to God and myself.

So, it may seem strange to you, but my piece of sky, MY piece of sky, means freedom and hope and new beginnings and I love it.

Quote of the Day: Thomas Muentzer

"Rejoice, you true friends of God, that the enemies of God have crapped their courage into their pants."
I read and reread this line several times just to ensure that I had, in fact, just seen the word "crapped" used in a work by a theologian. You should see some of the stuff this guy wrote about Luther. Eesh!

Two Weeks!

It's almost impossible to believe, but as of today, I have been at Princeton for two weeks. For any interested parties, here is my progress report:

Classes: I still haven't been to one of them, since it only meets on Tuesday afternoons, but so far I'm enjoying classes, reading, etc. Learning a new alphabet for Hebrew is proving somewhat daunting, but the fact that I will never have to speak this language in conversation is a huge relief. Anyway, the profs and preceptors really want us to succeed and I really want to succeed. That seems a good combination.

Friends: I'm an introvert, so it will probably take me a month or two to feel totally comfortable, but I already have a few people I hang out with regularly. Not having roommates (a.k.a. built-in friends) is making this somewhat more difficult, but I shall push on and try to venture outside myself occasionally. Shout out to Margaret who thinks almost everything I say is funny...that's the kind of person I like. It's amazing how entertaining / shocking everyday-life-at-Houghton stories are to people who didn't experience small, Christian schools in all their glory.

Money: Let's not talk about that...nearly $700 on books and such. OI!

Church: I've been to two congregations thus far and neither one really felt right. I'll keep looking. For the first time in my life, I am considering trying a Lutheran church because Geila (pronounced Gee-lah) is doing one of her field education placements at a Lutheran church and she makes it sound pretty awesome. Anyway, they still have liturgy and order... I'm down with that.

Home: I keep moving my furniture around. Last night, I changed the orientation of my bed so that I could have a lamp near my head instead of my feet. One of these days I am going to do some productive procrastinating and sew some of the African fabrics I have into a makeshift bed skirt so that all the crap under my bed is less visible.

Blogging: I have blogger's block. Thinking of anything other than the mundane details is nearly impossible at the moment since I'm still settling into a new routing. Going from three years of a regular eight hour day to classes interspersed with studying and fixed meal times is quite a disruption. I can't imagine being one of those folks who goes back after 10, 15, even 20 years. Crazy!

Well, I should get back to learning stuff... I'll try to write something more substantive some time this week.

Wake UP!

At first I set my alarm for 7:15 a.m. I was going to go workout and do some studying.

At 7:15, I reset my alarm for 8:30. No working out, but definitely some studying.

At 8:30, I turned it off altogether. Who needs to study?

I've finally dragged my lazy self out of bed...at 9:30.

Guess I'll just shower and do a modicum of reading. Blah! The best intentions...

Bloggity Bloggity

I'm having serious trouble with blogging. Two half written posts are now queued up as drafts because I can't quite get them to work. So, for now, I will post my pictures from NYC. Click on the first one to view a slideshow.

Emily, You'll Totally Puke If You Read This...I'm Not Kidding!

Sara, Colleen and I went to NYC today. Both of these girls live on my floor, all three of us lived in DC for the past few years, and Colleen went to the Falls Church, though I never met her before we both ended up here together.

On the way, I made flashcards for the Hebrew aleph-bet (aleph and bet are the first two letters of the Hebrew alphabet...I'm already making Hebrew jokes. I love being a nerd!). We went to the 'bucks and the Met and to a Korean/Chinese restaurant, called Noodles 28. The train was free and Sara treated us to the 'bucks, but my subway fare, Met entrance, and dinner were my dime. It wasn't a huge expense, but i still haven't found work study and my car payment is due in about two weeks, so I need to be careful.

That's not the point of this story, though. The point is this: New Jersey water is not agreeing with my scalp. It was okay for most of the trip, but on the train ride back my head was getting especially itchy. Unfortunately, I didn't notice the little white flecks on my red shirt until we got back to the dorm and I realized it looked like I'd had my own personal snowstorm. Sooooo embarassing. I really need to hitch a ride to Wally World and bye a gigantor bottle of Head & Shoulders...

To NY Or Not To NY?

The northeast is a wet place right now. I have developed a slight head cold in the past twenty-four hours. There is a lot of reading I need to do for my classes next week. NJ Transit is offering free rides to students until the end of this week.

First question: Do I like New York City enough to take sit on a train for 1 1/2 each way in order to spend part of my day there?

Second question: Is there anyone I know (either in real life or through blogging) living in NYC who would want to meet up for church/cheap lunch tomorrow? If so, leave a comment or email me.

Sleepy, Elliott

Sometimes, in undergrad, my roommates frequently returned to the dorm room to find me lying on the floor drooling on some textbook or another. It wasn't that I found all my texts boring (except that stupid one for bib lit...oy, the pain!), it was that school was exhausting and reading was one of the ways I put myself to sleep as a youngster.

Eventually, I developed strategies for remaining alert while reading, such as sitting up rather than lying down (it works...go figure!). But, I haven't been in school for several years and some of the logistical concerns and study techniques that I'd once mastered have slipped my mind.

Anyway, this afternoon, after doing my laundry, I settled myself on the floor with my OT101 reading. By the second page, my vision was getting blurry. A few minutes more, I was asleep... It's nice to be able to nap in the afternoon if I want to, but I really need to work on good study habits if I intend to convince others that I'm not joking when I say I want to get my doctorate.

Lunchtime Conversation

At lunch, I plopped myself down at a table with a nice mixture of known and unknown faces. (For all of you Houghtonites out there, one of the familiar faces was PTS's own version of Purple Dave...he has crazy hair, wears purple every day, likes to talk about strange things and is named David!) Anyway, our conversation somehow managed to move from travel in third world countries to whether a person could get a sex change operation in order to become a hermaphrodite in less than three steps. Young minds gone wild, that's what that is! Not even a weak and we're already discussing hermaphrodites...

RGBP Friday Five: Falling Up The Stairs...

This weeks Friday Five is about injuries. Such a topic plays to my constant night visions of falling down the two flights of stairs in the dorm. Excellent! Let's get started;

1) Are you a baby about small injuries? Nah, I tend to be the grin and bear it type. Sometimes it's fun to show off injuries, but I do it more to increase my level of coolness than to gain pity.

2) What's the silliest way you have ever hurt yourself? Maybe this isn't funny, but it was rather bizarre: One Sunday afternoon, circa summer 1995, I was jogging from my friend's car into my house to grab something we had forgotten and suddenly, without warning I felt a shooting pain in my ankle/foot. There was no visible cause of injury, but within a few hours my foot was bruised and swollen and I walked with a limp for the next two months or so. Conveniently, it was the day I was getting dunked in my Baptist church. Getting into the pool was quite a task with a painful foot.

3) Who took care of your boo-boos when you were a child? My Marvelous Mom!

4) Are you a good nurse when others have boo-boos? I'm much better with children who have boo-boos that with adults who have injuries and are acting like babies about it.

5) What's the worst accidental injury you've suffered? Did it require a trip to the Emergency Room? When I was five, my brother built a fort using old wood from a barn in our backyard. The floorboards of the fort had rusty nails through then that were sticking up from the floor. Within this fort, my big brother constructed a rickety "throne" out of some rotten wood and a lawn chair so that I could be a princess. Well, my wiggly, excited five-year old self quickly upset the throne and as I fell, two rusty nails stuck directly into my knee. It didn't bleed, so my mom thought I was lying about how badly my knee hurt. A few hours later, after my knee had swollen to about three times its normal size, we headed to the ER. The doctors eventually determined that nothing was really wrong, but I still couldn't walk for a few weeks and had to miss my first field trip ever. To this day, I have a scar on my knee that I like to introduce to people as my "snake bite."

UPDATE: See the comments section for an account of another of my worst accidental injuries. When I wrote this post, I completely forgot about my seemingly serious childhood head injury. Perhaps it did more damage than any of us thought...


"It would not be too extreme to say that studying theology is learning how to say the least wrong thing about God. All God-language is wrong to some degree; the trick is to reduce the wrongness to a minimum." --William L. Holladay, Long Ago God Spoke

Amen...Come On!

I'm a stodgy old lady. Not old in the sense of age, but old in how I comport myself. I prefer quiet, I got to bed earlier than most of my peers, and I would rather stay in most nights. (Btw, PTS students, this is not a command to stop asking me to do stuff. ;)

Why do I mention this, you ask. Well, one of my fellow entering students likes to encourage the teacher/preacher by adding his amen, uh-huh, yes yes yes, or come on to the mix. Being my somewhat stodgy self, when I'm not expecting an audience reaction, the sound of it is jarring. During chapel today, I was actually getting really angry.

My thoughts were something like this: "Why does he always have to be the one to say the loudest amen? Does he really think the preacher needs to hear his voice every time he/she makes a point? Doesn't he realize he's worshipping with a bunch of Presbyterians now? I want to hit him!"

Suddenly, I realized how judgmental, unloving, and, frankly, stupid my reaction was. In the context he comes from, encouraging the preacher is probably common, even expected. Just because I fit into the overwhelmingly non-expressive worship community here, that doesn't mean I should expect every other student to do the same in order to make me more comfortable.

I won't lie, the commentary will probably continue to grate on my introverted nerves, but hopefully I will stop murdering my vocal brother in my mind.

My First Day

Today was our first day of classes here at PTS. I only had one, so I don't think I've gotten the full experience yet. Tomorrow is full, though, with four classes starting at 8 a.m. and taking me right through to 4:45, with an hour or two to chill after lunch.

Looking for a work study job was a pretty fruitless task. I think I must be spoiled because I never had any difficult finding a position at Houghton. Hopefully, something will turn up shortly.

I'm not trying to make this a photoblog (not that it would be a bad thing if I were), but I have been enjoying taking some photos around Princeton and there are too many thoughts swirling around in my head right now. So, you'll look at my pictures and you'll like it.

One thing that I'm excited about: I had my first class for Radical Reformation and it seems like it's going to be a spectacular class. We are given some freedom in our final project. It doesn't necessarily have to be a final paper. I'm contemplating doing something about Michael Servetus, examining the similarities between his thought and current missional theology. Sounds fancy, eh? I'm just hoping it won't fall flat with the prof. I was known as a raging feminist in undergrad (even told by one man that I was intimidating). I guess I like to take on antagonistic rolls. Since feminism isn't a huge issue here, I guess I'll take on emergent since I'm already there, anyway. ;)

My New Set-Up

Here is my newly arranged study corner.

The problem is that the fresh arrangement leaves the corner near my door almost completely blank. I really need a comfy chair...

President's Reception

I'm posting this slideshow because I promised some classmates I would. You can check it out if you want to see some of the faces I'll be staring at on a daily basis.

Btw, Cindy on the left and Laura on the right are some of my favorite people so far. I don't know the other two people's names...

Certainly Encouraged

The few days I've spent as part of the Princeton community thus far have provided many encouragements. Three stand out in my mind:
  • I've heard only a handful of women preach in my lifetime. During our first orientation event, I heard one of the best sermons I've been privileged to enjoy, and it was powerfully presented by a woman. Women also play crucial roles in the faculty and administration. The director of the Ph.D. program, Katharine Doob Sackenfeld, is also an OT professor...ooohhh, the possibilities.
  • My online involvement in the emerging conversation is taking on flesh as I meet people who are actively engaged with the conversation of which I hope to become a more vital part. It will be wonderful to have face-to-face conversations with people who have been present in my life as bloggers and commenters for several months.
  • Tonight, at the Convocation for the 195th academic year, Dr. L. Gordon Graham gave a lecture entitled The Philosophy of the Seminary. There were plenty of times during which I started daydreaming, but my attention was caught when Dr. Graham spoke about the necessity for intellectually curious Christians to pursue that curiosity. Intellectual curiosity is too often denigrated in the church, so it is wonderful to have that aspect of my life affirmed as God-given and God-glorifying.
Thank you to everyone who encouraged me to apply and to matriculate without delay, each hour I become more and more convinced that there is no place else I should be.

I Am Art!

A few days before I left Virginia, I went touring around DC. During my time about town, I spent several hours in the National Portrait Gallery. One large hall was chock full of modern American art, including the piece pictured.

In the background you can see two couches. There were ten or twelve of these couches filling the center of the gallery. Walking around DC all day had taken it's toll, so I was resting on one of these couches. In fact, I took this picture from my place on said couch. After taking the picture, I started daydreaming/ zoning out.

Also on the background are two older women (who had a third friend not pictured)... After a few moments of staring off into space, I suddenly came to myself and moved my head slightly. Just as I moved, I noticed these women giggling and pointing in my general direction. I had been so still that they actually thought I was an installation piece, just like my friend here.

If only there were such a job...

One Hectic Day After Another

It's going to take me a while to get back into a busy schedule. My life has been a very occasionally interrupted stream of boring for the past three years. I'm perfectly willing to take responsibility for that state of affairs and now I must face the consequences.

My brain sort of went into meltdown phase when I saw the number of books my six classes required. I spent about $600 on texts for this semester. That includes a savings of approximately $200 that I was able to get by spending about four hours researching lower prices on the Amazon and Wal-Mart websites. That's like being paid $50 an hour for surfing the web...I'm down with that.

Today has been busy with all the last bits of orientation, including the sexual harassment policy and information on Field Education. Let me tell you, field education freaks me right out! We have to do two placements and one must be in a church. For the summer, I intend to do a camp or possibly Christian Ministry in the National Parks, but for one full year, I will be working in a church...possibly even preaching...ARGH!!!

This afternoon, when I should have been looking for a work study position, I came back to my room, took a shower, and rearranged my furniture. Pictures will be forthcoming. It's nothing fancy, but at least I don't have my back to the door when I sit at my desk.

Classes begin tomorrow. I have Hebrew at 8 a.m. every day except Wednesday, so at least I'll have an extra hour to get ready in the morning before I go to my first class.

In just a little while, we have the President's Reception, followed by our class picture, a dinner, and the opening convocation. A full evening to begin a very full life.

A Gift...

Lovely, beautiful, caring, thoughtful, creative RGR sent me this little collage today. As you can see, it's already on my wall. If you want your own artwork to be added to my still plenteous blank wall space, feel free to send an email to katherinejelliott at gmail dot com and I will forward my PTS address as long as you don't say anything too creepy.

Of course, RGR wins a prize for sending this thoughtful card without any previous prompting. You da bomb diggity, love!

Rocking Registration's Socks

I've completed registration and, while my schedule looks daunting, I am excited to get started on Wednesday. My classes for the fall include some required courses (OT101: Orientation to Old Testament Studies, OT152: Introductory Biblical Hebrew, and SC101: Speech Communication in Ministry) and some electives (ED101: Introduction to the Teaching Ministry, CH350: The Radical Reformation, and PC475: Confession and Forgiveness in Pastoral Perspective).

Even though I took History of Christianity almost five years ago, I was able to convince the professor tasked with deciding who could place out of Church History 101 that I was ready for upper level history classes. I don't think it hurt that one of my chosen courses for this semester is being taught by him, but I was unaware of that circumstance when I sat down. Clearly, God did not want me to use my time in more than three introductory courses.

Despite the fact that I have no intention of going into full time pastoral ministry, the class I'm most looking forward to is PC475. Confession intrigues me and it will be interesting to study it from a ministerial perspective. Hebrew is probably the class I am most freaked out about because I feel like a "failure" in that class will compromise my future goals. Perhaps those goals need to be compromised, but that would rock my world...

Bonus: my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons are almost completely free for work and study. Excellent! Not so excellent, I have classes at 8 a.m. three days a week. UGH!

Now, to have my socks rocked by the price of books. I can't even wait. Credit card ahoy!

To Be Perfectly Frank

At the "retreat" today...

Question: "What are some things you would like to accomplish outside the classroom while here at Princeton?"

One male classmate, with complete sincerity, responded "I would like to fall in love."

I admire his honesty because you know it was on every singletons mind, but hardly anyone would be willing to admit it.

More Life Lessons With Kate

Sara and I went to Westerly Road Church this morning. It seemed like a friendly enough church, but my time there confirmed a suspicion of mine that non-denominational churches aren't really my cup of tea. Not that I'm brand loyal or anything. I pay $.97 for Wal-Mart brand glas cleaner, for goodness' sake. It's that I really enjoy liturgy and a sense of history. That said, I'm' pretty sure I'm going to attend one of the nearby Episcopal churches next Sunday to see if I'm theologically liberal enough for them.

Later today, we have our orientation retreat. It's five miles away at married housing. Quite a retreat. Sara and I have been invited to hang out at a couple's apartment if the retreat is lame. Excellent! Hopefully, I'll get a chance to meet another blogger friend, too.

A Failed Attempt

Almost from the very moment I learned of my acceptance to PTS, I began plotting to make a major life change. Maybe not as major as quitting my job and moving to New Jersey to attend seminary, but pretty huge nonetheless. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be known as "Kate." Katie is a perfectly lovely name, but I find that it reminds far too many people of a Golden Retriever they once had (like the one to the right found by searching katie+golden+retriever). To me, Kate sounds grown up and sophisticated and sort of British. No one names any dog of any kind Kate.

I didn't realize the potential of accomplishing the goal of "changing my name" as an undergrad in a community where I was virtually unknown until it was too late. My name was destined to change while at Houghton, but instead of sophisticated Kate, I became gender-confused Elliott. When I was accepted to grad school, I was determined not to miss my second opportunity! It was like manna from heaven, this second chance. Alas, twenty-five years is a long time to have one name. After a quarter of a century with one label, it's not easy to convince yourself that another one fits.

For the first few days, I was able to introduce myself as Kate without faltering, but each day Katie slipped out more frequently, especially when I was introduced to other women named Kate, Katie, Katherine, Kathryn, of which there are multitudes. Even the people who were introduced to me with my "new name" reverted to Katie without a single iota of prompting. My neighbor, Sara, didn't even hesitate. She told me that I don't exude the pretension necessary to carry off Kate. I suppose that is a compliment, since I don't want to exude pretension, but I felt a little bit defeated. This plan was supposed to work!

Unfortunately, it seems I will have to come to terms with the idea that I'm not a Kate. I'm a Katie and I probably will be forever. Or, at least, until I earn my doctorate. Then I will be Dr. K. Jeanne Elliott, because every respectable academic must disown her first name.

What? You didn't know that? I will now exude pretension in your general direction.

UPDATE: I just realized I've given away my entire full name to readers of this blog...I guess it was bound to happen some time. Stalker, beware, I know where to kick you!

What I Learned Today

  • Despite the fact that the PTS Student Health Benefits Plan is really expensive to a penniless graduate student, it's certainly better to pay $2,000 than declare bakruptcy later because a $10,000 medical bill wasn't covered.
  • Most of the people at PTS have excellent senses of humor, especially the Director of Professional Studies ("It's like getting a shot of novacaine in my cerebellum.") and the head IT guy ("If you are having trouble with your digital camera and you bring it to us and there are naked pictures of you on it, that will be awkward." Apparently, someone was trying to support our troops!).
  • Being a first year at graduate school is frighteningly similar to being a freshman in undergrad. I guess it's the same feeling one gets with any completely unfamiliar place. You know the one, where you don't want to go to any event alone because that means you might not recognize anyone...
  • When you think you're done paying the bills, there's always another one coming...

You'll Have To Forgive Me

Seminary is new to me. I'm in love already, so you'll have to forgive me as I post every. single. mundane. detail.

First night of seminary = dance party with plenty of beer and wine. Not even kidding. Someone even caught the action on video.

Way too many of us knew every word to Baby Got Back and Ice Ice Baby.

Those of us who graduated three or four years ago are the old folks here. The most frequently asked introductory question is "Where did you do undergrad?"

Most of the girls at the party were juniors (first year students) and most of the guys were middlers (second year students). Hmmm...coming to check out the fresh meat middler men?

I also learned from several older students that my dorm is the "quiet" dorm. The people who passed on this information seemed to see this as a negative thing. I figure that means I can simply mosey to their place for the parties and then come home to sleep in my nice, boring, quiet dorm. Excellent.

Anyway, morning prayer is at 9 a.m. I better get to bed.

RGBP Friday Five: I'm Gonna Live Forever!

David Letterman used to have a feature on his show called "Brushes with Greatness." Members of the audience would share stories of encounters with famous people. And so...
1. Tell us about a time you met someone famous. Are you kidding? Ummm...I met...ummm... Dude, I've got nothin'.

2. Tell us about a celebrity you'd like to meet. I'd like to meet Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Cillian Murphy, and Paul Bettany all at the same time. I would probably die from heat exhaustion!

3. Tell us about someone great who's *not* famous that you think everyone oughta have a chance to meet. My mom is a little too obvious since I've written so many wonderful things about her. Rebecca, my college roommate is pretty awesome. Even from several hundred miles away she's been a huge source of support for me and she's just so full of love.

4. Do you have any autographs of famous people? Does Goofy count?

5. If you were to become famous, what would you want to become famous for? It seems like the standard answer for this one is writing a really good book (surprising among bloggers, eh?). Wanting to be an individual, I would say I'd love to be famous for my photography. I heart photography and would love to be known for my pictures.

Bonus: Whose 15 minutes of fame was up long, long ago? So many to choose from. I have to go with Lindsay Lohan and the Olsen twins (don't kill me, MKH...).

So, It Begins...

Princeton Theological Seminary new student orientation has begun. It started off right with a service of worship. Lots of singing, the best sermon I've heard in a long time and tears.

Until recently, it took long pent-up emotion to have me in tears, but lately, all that's required is a well-placed worship song. During the service this afternoon we sang a Mozambican song called "Come, Worship Christ." As we sang the words "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! There is no one who will ever be like Jesus," I couldn't help but feel deliriously happy. Words are nuanced; to me, in that moment, the words of this song were like a deep sigh of relief. I can strive my whole life long to be like Jesus, and that's what I desire, but I will never even come close to the standard of love that he set...and that's okay! The thought made my voice quiver and break.

As we sang, raising our voices in community, I couldn't help but feel like I was home. Of the two-hundred or so people gathered, I had met only a handful, but it felt like every participant in worship was holding their arms open, ready to embrace our shared life, ready to continue the struggle, the journey, together. Coming together from places as far away as Myanmar, Thailand, Ghana and as close as north Jersey, Pennslvania, and Michigan, we all have the same goal: to honor and serve Christ and his body, the Church. That's powerful.

I've recognized several of my classmates as people who attended the same visit weekend as I did in February. I connected with these people and I'm glad to see them here again. One of my fellow Houghtonites sought me out at dinner. The last time we met it was awkward, this time was better. (RGR, he has a girlfriend...no worries :). Another student, with whom I've been corresponding this summer, also found me and we will be getting together soon to make some plans for the semester. Exciting stuff!

I have joy again and it's so happily overwhelming that my hard wrung tears are the only properly worshipful response. God has blessed me in this place. It will be difficult, there will be times I want to give up, but I'm here and I'm glad.

Talented Feline

The best part has got to be near the end when the cat tries to surprise the water... Watch it, you'll see what I'm talking about.


This is my fourth post in one day. It seems things are getting back to something closer to normal for me. Normal used to include TV and, tonight, it will again.

New friend Sara and I are going to watch the season finale of The Office. In Sara's words, it's sort of like pre-gaming for the beginning of the new season, which happens in ONE WEEK!!! In one week we will learn what's next for Jim and Pam. I mean, seriously, why would Pam even consider marrying Roy when someone like Jim is around? Seriously!

Pam: "Jim can't talk until he buys me a Coke. Those are the rules of jinx and they are unflinchingly rigid!"

A Proper Post

It's been a few days since I've been able to sit down and write a real post. All this stuff has been happening and, to be perfectly honest, I'm a little overwhelmed. Not overwhelmed in the sense of wishing myself back, but in the sense that I simply cannot believe I'm finally here. There are things to be done and people to be met and (soon there will be) books to be read and discussions to be had.

My mom left today around 10 this morning. When I got back to my room and was about to begin this post, my neighbor popped by to introduce herself. Her name is Sarah. We've lived within four miles of each other for the past two years, but never crossed paths. She graduated from GW one semester before I graduated from Houghton and spent several years at a life-sucking job before deciding to make the huge life change back to full-time school.

We went to Wal-Mart, Linens 'n' Things, and Target together. Somehow we managed to have fun looking for the cheapest paper towels and glass cleaner! Sarah also expressed her relief at finding someone else whose excitement made sleep nearly impossible for a few days before moving. (I think I got about three hours of shut eye the day before I moved.)

I'm anxious to get started. The first day of orientation tomorrow should be a blast. Meeting new people is going to be draining for this introvert, but I would rather be exhausted from a long day meeting new friends than bored to exhaustion from a long day sitting on my brain in an office.

Two fun things that have happened since I moved in: 1) I'm on a computer network again, that means shared iTunes libraries. How cool is that?!! 2) I went to check my mail for the first time and the mailroom guy showed me to my mailbox, introduced himself and shook my hand. Mostly, I've been organizing my massively huge dorm room, so excitement has been

For those of you who are interested in seeing my new digs, you can click on the picture of my door and let yourself in. For the extended version, click here.


I was going to blog, but instead I made a friend and now we're going to Wal-Mart. I'll leave you with a picture of my mom wearing my Bouncer hoodie.

Someone actually asked her if she was really a bouncer.

One Whole Day

I went a whole day without posting on my blog! Can you even believe it? It just seems a little rude to stare at my computer while my little mom is here visiting me. Anyway, RGR shouted at me over IM to update, so I thought I would stop in for a minute to say hello to my blogger friends.

A good bit of the past two days has been spent in my car. Picking my mom up at JFK, which should have taken approximately 3 hours round trip ended up taking five because I got lost about eighteen times. Every single episode of lostness was in NJ, so it had nothing to do with city driving, it just had to do with NJ's sucky roads and signage.

Mom's been paying for everything since she got here. We haven't bought a lot, but sometimes it's nice to feel like a kid again. Last night we went to Wal-Mart, Target, and Wegmans (I HEART WEGMANS!). Today, we drove an hour to IKEA and came back with a desk lamp and some candles, when all I wanted was a chair and a cheap cheap cheap book case.

Since returning from our fruitless trek to IKEA, we've been continuing to organize my room and separate the stuff that's going from the stuff that's staying. I will post some pictures later of the keen decorating job me and my mom have done. It's sort of dorm chic (HA!), meaning corny and hopelessly mismatched...not to mention bare.

Now on to Wegmans Chinese food. WOOT!

Happiness On A Sad Day

#1 on the list of things I should be doing would be unpacking and organizing my room.

# last on the list of things I want to be doing would be unpacking and organizing my room, so here I sit, blogging.

It feels like a strange day to be so effervescently happy. My Newsgator account is full of reminiscences and reminders of my generations "day that will live in infamy. There are plenty of people who've expressed the sadness of this day better than I can even hope to, so instead, I will tell you why I'm so happy.

I'm finally at Princeton! Early this morning, Jule Ann (the best blog friend ever!) arrived at my (former) house. We talked to each other in the dark like twelve year olds at a slumber party until sleep overwhelmed us. Jule Ann and I went to the same college; she graduated three years before I did. I vaguely remember one conversation with her while at Houghton, but last night and today we fell easily into conversation and enjoyed each other's company. Goes to show you that the blogging community is a real community.

While Jule Ann was here, after we ate lunch at Winberies and unpacked both of our cars with a little help from a few girls on my floor, Josh Zeifle, another Houghton friend, showed up to welcome me and help in any way he could. We chatted and laughed and unpacked some boxes. He took me to dinner as an unofficial welcome to the seminary community.

Tomorrow, I am driving to JFK to pick up my mother, who I haven't seen since Christmas!...who has lost 85 pounds since I last saw her. I'm a little worried that I won't recognize her when I get to the airport. It's a good thing I still look the same.

My room is massive! With all the furniture the seminary provides (bed, desk, dresser, and bookshelf), I could probably still comfortable fit a couch and chair. I'm going to check out freecycle and see if I can find a nice arm chair in which to do my reading for class. I'm in Brown Hall, right next to the campus center/dining hall.

Sarah and Rebecca both called me tonight just to hear my happy voice! All in all, it's been a delightful 24 hours.

9/11 Remembrance

I wrote a post a couple days ago about Thomas E. Hynes. Not wanting to double post to it, I will instead link it here.

McLaren, McLaren, McLaren!

Mentioning the name Brian McLaren in Christian circles is almost as controversial as discussing the Iraq War among politicos. In both cases, if you don't know the particular leanings of your audience, you may want to make sure you have the skin of a rhino, know how to duck or can run faster than anyone in your audience...just in case.

Brian McLaren is something of an unofficial spokesman for the "emergent conversation." When a newspaper or magazine wants to do a piece about the movement, Brian is their go-to guy. He's written several popular books (of which, I've enjoyed one), he is articulate, and he helped name the movement, so it makes perfect sense that people would look to him for answers. But, sometimes, it seems like these articles make the emergent conversation seem more like a cult of personality, rather than a grass roots movement consisting of many thousands of voices.

Today, the Washington Post published this article, entitled Evangalical Author Puts Progressive Spin On Traditional Faith, about Brian McLaren. It described Cedar Ridge Community Church, the congregation McLaren started, it quoted several "ordinary" people in such a way that they seem to idolize McLaren, and it fed the common misperceptions that many people have about everything emergent (young, pierced, touchy-feely, etc.).

I will admit that Murphy's article did a tolerable job of giving a bare bones summary of emergent, the following three paragraphs in the conclusion effectively ruined the article for me:

"The scent of summer grass hung in the steamy air on a recent Sunday morning as a parade of Toyota and Honda SUVs turned off Route 198 into the bucolic compound of Cedar Ridge. The onetime farm's brick silo stood in front of the new church -- built to look like a barn, complete with loft door. No religious symbols adorned the exterior.

"Volunteers stood at the door greeting young families, elderly couples, singles and teenagers with studded ears. In the lobby, coffee and bagels were available. "Make yourself a nametag," invited a sign next to pens and labels.

"The sanctuary is a huge open space with folding chairs circling a platform that serves as a pulpit. Behind that is an altar covered in purple cloth with a two-foot-high wooden cross. Behind that is a stage with two electric guitars, a keyboard, drums and tambourines. Two large video screens display words to contemporary hymns. The liturgy, which includes Communion, is casual but reverent."

Regardless of what the rest of the article says, but these paragraphs reduce emergent to little more than a Church Makeover, and not even an Extreme Church Makover, just a few aesthetic changes to make people like it better. Fuel-efficient vehicles, no prominent religious symbols, and people with piercings and tattoos.

Forget about the important issues of theology and praxis being discussed and debated by people such as Cheryl Lawrie, Sarah Dylan Breuer, Jason Clark, Scot McKnight, Doug Pagitt, Maggi Dawn, Pete Rollins, David and Makeesha Fisher (all of whom can be found in my "Emergent" blogroll), and so many others. Forget about the powerful forms of alternative worship being developed and the valiant attempts being made at truly living out the message of Christ by tens of thousands of people around the world who are questioning "the way it's always been done." To the media, nothing is more important than a figurehead and aesthetics.

If you have an interest in learning about emergent, not just what it looks like but what it is, check out some of the blogs in my aforementioned blogroll or hop over to the Emergent Village website or, for that matter, Google "emergent church" and you'll get ten times as much accurate information as anyone in the media will ever provide.

UPDATE: Apparently, from what I've read so far, I'm the only one who has anything negative to say about this piece, though, I guess if it gets people thinking, it's not all bad...

And So It Begins...

Dwight: It is ridiculous to call a dog a hero. Dogs can't be heroes. Dogs are dumb! For every dog that dials 9-1-1 there are like seventy more that dial 7-1-4, but no one ever talks about that.

The Office: Season 3 begins September 21 at 8:30 EST. The preview clips above run for about 8 minutes, but I was definitely laughing out loud for almost the entire time. I heart The Office!

2,996 Project: 9/11 Tribute to Thomas E. Hynes

In just two days, the fifth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks will be upon us. That day five years ago passed so quietly at rural Houghton that it was almost impossible to believe anything had happened. But, like everyone else in the nation and many around the world, we watched. We watched as the world we knew crumbled with the Twin Towers.

That tragic day wounded every one of us. Yet, the deepest scars are carried by those who lost loved ones as the Twin Towers collapsed and with those whose friends and family sacrificed themselves outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, in the hope of saving others and with those whose husbands, wives, children, siblings and friends were killed as they went about their daily duties in the Pentagon.

Thomas E. Hynes went to work at the Vestek division of Thomson Financial that day, probably without the slightest inkling that anything out of the ordinary would happen. One can never be certain, but I'm willing to bet that Thomas didn't wake up knowing he was going to die, he wasn't traveling to work with the expectation that he would become a victim of men set on martyrdom or with the goal of becoming hero. Internet research reveals only a few tantalizing clues about this man I volunteered to memorialize.
  • Thomas was an account manager at Vestek, "an innovator in applying technology to help investment professionals make more informed decisions." I wonder: did he enjoy his job or was it a chore?
  • He left behind a wife and a baby daughter. I wonder: was his child born before or after 9/11? Did he ever get to see his little girl's smile?
  • Several commenters at September 11 Victims remembered his sunny disposition as a high school student. His picture above looks happy and friendly. I wonder: who was the last person to see that smile?
Who knows what Thomas may have been thinking, what he had on his to-do list, who he meant to call that day at work? He was from Norwalk, Connecticut, nearly 50 miles away from Manhattan. Did he drive or take the train? Did he listen to music during his commute? What was the last song Thomas ever heard? I can't answer any of these questions for you. There is probably no one who can. All we know is this:

2,996 people woke on the morning of September 11, 2001, and prepared for the day ahead. 2,996 people went to work or got on a plane. Among that number there was one named Thomas E. Hynes, 28, from Norwalk, CT. One day later, the world had changed and those 2,996 people, including Thomas, would never be heard from again. Perhaps the best way to honor the memory of these fallen Americans is to mourn our loss, honor their memory, and do our best to love those around us as if this day will be our last.

I would love to hear from any of Thomas' family members or friends who might be able to fill in some of these gaps... I invite you to make this post your own, to add to or correct anything I've written. And, as you mourn your husband/brother/father/son/friend know that my prayers are with you and that "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."


The DVR must go back to Comcast today. Actually, not just today, but in a little under one hour. this means that they will be shutting off internet service. The cable guy will not be plugging us back in until about 4 p.m., but then it's not my service, it's Emily's and Alyssa's because I no longer pay the bills here. So, this may be my last post until Monday unless Emily is going out to buy a wireless modem today...which I doubt (understandably not her top priority, since she doesn't have a computer yet).

It's going to be a hectic couple of days. It all begins this morning as I go out to return the DVR (I'm almost crying ;), donate six boxes of books to the library (more tears), and foist some clothes, stuffed animals and other household items on the Goodwill. The rest of today will be spent doing a final sweep of the house to be sure that I have all my belongings, helping Alyssa move her stuff into my empty bedroom, reorganizing and repacking my massive pile of junk, and waiting for the cable guy to reinstall my umbilical cord (probably late in the afternoon).

Tomorrow will be a sad day. It will be my last Sunday at the Falls Church, possibly the last ever. To my great delight, John Yates will be preaching the sermon. The rest of the day will be spent fidgeting, watching Alyssa take over my space, goofing off with Emily, reorganizing and repacking (yes, I'm slightly obsessive), and packing my car. Some time after midnight, Jule Ann, my new hero, will arrive to crash on my couch and then help me move in the morning. Can I just say that Jule Ann and I were merely acquaintances before blogging and now she's coming to my rescue with the packing and the moving. I heart blogging and bloggers!

Monday morning, I will finally get into my bulging-at-the-seams car and drive to Princeton, NJ, followed by Super Jule Ann! It's a fairly short trip, but it will feel like an eternity. I can hardly wait to get there!

UPDATE - Apparently getting a wireless router was one of Emily's priorities for the day, so we now have wireless and she does indeed have the laptop that is one of her help desk job perks.

What I'll Miss...

My imminent move has gotten me thinking about my time working in DC. So, I thought I would compile a list of the things I'll miss when I'm gone. I will miss:
  • spending my lunch "hour" with V, La, R and M.
  • working with Ly and her boss.
  • figuring out E's cryptic phone messages.
Hmmmm...give me a minute. Yeah, that's about it.

A concluding thought: Free at last, free at least, thank God Almighty, FREE! AT!! LAST!!!

Tagged Again! I Must Be The Coolest!!

I tagged some people to play this word association game yesterday and then a person who may or may not keep up on my blog tagged me. Obviously, I am the coolest person in the world!!!

Here are the words Becca wants me to associate with:
  • Instinct - basic
  • Apples - crisp
  • Clusters - squirrels
  • Relief - hurricane
  • Telephone - booth
I'm not going to tag five more people...that's too much work. ;)

RGBP Friday Five: Enjoy!

This week's Friday Five is nice and simple: Name five things you have enjoyed this week.
  1. Lunch with my favorite co-workers.
  2. Wandering through DC taking photos of anything and everything.
  3. Trivia Night at Stars & Stripes (though I wish I'd eaten something along with the beer I drank).
  4. Being tagged by Jule Ann.
  5. Scheduling a speaker to come to Princeton (more on that later...)!!!
What did you enjoy this week?

By the way, Blogger users, I know that commenting can sort of be a pain with the changeover to beta and all, but I've found a way to get around the issue. Even if you have a Blogger account, use the "Other" option for commenting and simply enter your name and URL by hand. That way there's still a link to your blog and you don't have the frustration of comments not posting.


I still have a weekend before I go, but it will mostly be spent running around doing those last minute things that must be done before I leave the area Monday morning. Anyone in the Princeton area may feel free to help me move in, take me out to dinner, shower me with gifts, etc. beginning September 11 around noon.

Finding a picture of "zero" was not especially successful, so I found a picture to represent my feelings about this being my last official day in DC instead. This particular photo was one of the first Google image results when I typed in the word "freedom." For three years I've felt tied down to a desk, to a phone, to two jobs I've abhorred. Finally, I'm moving on to something I want to do, something I want to be tied down to. It's a glorious feeling; blessed even.

This weekend is going to be tortuous. For the past week, I've wanted nothing more than to simply pack up my car and get moving. Unfortunately, I have to wait until Princeton will allow me into my dorm room. Hopefully, Emily and I will get to spend some time together before I head out. I'll miss her.

Fun In DC...and My 300th Post on Blogger!

My time in DC comes to an end in just a few short days. There's no doubt that I'm antsy. In order to combat my own special form of restless leg syndrome, I spent a day wandering around DC, trying to take in some of the sites I'd missed.

Emily let me hitch a ride into town with her since I'm trying my best to save money. The galleries I wanted to see didn't open until 10. In order to kill some time, I slowly meandered past the Capitol Building taking pictures as I walked. You can click on this interesting representation of the preamble to the Constitution to see my slideshow for today.

license plates

Despite tired feet and a slightly sore back, I had an excellent day. The National Air and Space Museum was excellent. Taking the free guided tour definitely made it easier not to get slogged down reading every single plaque (something that good honors students like me often do). There were several times during the tour that I got choked up just thinking of the dauntless spirits who made it possible for humankind to experience the wonders of flight.

After the tour, I took in few more exhibits that had caught my eye during the tour, then headed out for the National Building Museum. Despite the rave reviews I'd heard of this particular gallery, I was unimpressed. It was cavernous and empty. The one room that actually contained an exhibit felt more like an infomercial for a particular brand of ecologically friendly homes.

Needless to say, it wasn't long before I moved on to the National Portrait Gallery. People's faces say so much. It was amazing how the paint and sculpture and photography revealed the souls of the human subjects. Beautiful! My favorite gallery was Outwin Boochever 2006 Portrait Competition. It looks like all 51 portraits exhibited appear online here. Another great exhibit was "William Wegman - Funney/Strange," which was on view in the American Art section of the museum.

Anyway, a good time was had by one. Lots of pictures were taken and are now waiting to be viewed...by you!


I don't think I've ever been tagged before. Now I feel incredibly special and excited! So here's the word association game for which Jule Ann tagged me...

First, I associate with her words:
  • aluminum - brushed
  • braid - French
  • claustrophobia - toes
  • dumpling - chicken and
  • elevator - stuck
Next, I choose words for others to associate with:
  • branch - ?
  • wax - ?
  • stretch - ?
  • bangers - ?
  • sunglasses - ?
Finally, I tag five of y'all:
Go at it, folks!


I googled "one" to find the perfect picture for the almost last day of my countdown. The very first search result was One.org. So, to celebrate my imminent departure from DC, I've added a banner for the Campaign to Make Poverty History to my page. Yeah, it's a bandwagon and I'm on it.

One more day until Emily's new roommate moves in and I start packing my car to move out.

Yeah, Women Again...

Molly, at Adventures in Mercy, is still tackling women in the church. Today she's stepped back from whether women should be in the ministry to the roll of women as human beings. I suspect that most of my readers are with me on this, (as Molly seems to be) but I find it jarringly difficult to comprehend that there are people who believe that the chief, best (perhaps only) roles that God has for women in society, in the church, are mother and wife.

If nothing else, this point of view effectively denies the usefulness (for lack of a better word) of all unmarried, childless women, not only in the church, but in the world. I am not a wife. I am not a mother. I do not live under any form of male headship, unless you count the pastor of my church whom I have met only once. Does all this mean that I am not fulfilling God's will for my life? Should I drop my plans to pursue higher education in order to concentrate my efforts on finding a man to marry?

Obviously, I've already answered this question in my own life. I refuse to be thought of as a walking womb. Mother and wife are both difficult, honorable callings, but they are not the only calling available to women. I am willing to say that it's not even the best calling for many women. I am even willing to put my neck on the block and say that there are some women who should never bear children. None of this makes them less godly.

For the record, I think Paul would back me up on this one. See 1 Cor. 7...


Another countdown image brought to you by Toothpaste for Dinner.
So, the point of this cartoon is that people are clueless about the environment, but all I could think when I read it was, "TWO BUCKS A GALLON!!! Those were the days."

There are only two more days left in this week. I have a lot to get done and not much motivation to do any of it.

Attracting Readers

Recently, I happened across a list of suggestions on how to increase traffic to a blog. One of the suggestions that stood out to me was to disable commenting until you have a readership of several hundred. Apparently, people assume a blog is not worth reading if there are few comments.

For about a millisecond, I considered turning off the comments on this blog. Then the moment passed. I'm not in this blogging thing to get a huge audience. For me, it's a place to think and to have fun. If other people stop by and want to join me on the journey, that's fantastic! If they stop by and decide it's not worth staying, what do I care? :)

I also wonder...can a blog be a blog without commenters? Thoughts...

A Rainy Day In DC

I spent part of my morning and afternoon touring gray, drizzly DC and taking plenty of pictures to share with y'all. Lunch with my favorite co-workers was the highlight of my afternoon.

Click on the beautiful city ducks to see a slideshow of my day touring our nation's capitol.


It's simply amazing how often three cats are depicted in art.

It's even more amazing to think that in three more days, I will be ready to leave DC and head to seminary. Wonderful!


As my stack of belongings continues to grow, I am beginning to grow skeptical of my ability to pack everything into one car load. Some recent circumstances have made the possibility of two trips less viable, if not impossible. I'm going to do a test pack near the end of this week, but I'm not hopeful.

Anyone in Northern Virginia, Maryland, or DC want to make a charity run to Princeton, NJ on Monday, September 11? I could probably afford to buy you lunch. :)

I'm only half kidding...

What Would You Do?

On August 14, two Fox News journalists, Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, were kidnapped as they performed their duties in Gaza City. (Read more here.)Both men "converted" to Islam at the business end of a gun. Since their release on August 28th, there has been quite a bit of discussion across the blogosphere about these shotgun conversions.

Plenty of people toot their own horns, claiming that in the same position, they would never think of denying their faith. Most of the people who make this claim are my brothers and sisters in Christ. I'm sure some of these people are speaking the truth, but it's an easy claim to make given the improbability that most Americans will ever be placed in such a situation.

One commenter on La Shawn Barber's blog pondered, "I wonder what an atheist would do if forced to convert with a gun pointed at their head?" I'm not an atheist, and I'm sure someone out there could refute what I'm about to say, but I assume the answer to this question is that an atheist would fake it. He or she would fake a conversion to Islam in order to expedite his or her release, just as Centanni and Olaf did.

Knowing myself as I do, I can't help but think I would do the same. Perhaps it's cowardly, perhaps I need to be more passionate about my faith than I am, but I'm not terribly interested in dying at the hands of extremists who are willing to put a bullet in my head for no other reason than conflicting beliefs.

So, my faithdul readers, what do you hope you would do? What do you think you would do?

h/t Mary Katharine Ham

Beta Woes

Another complaint to add to my list...

Because I foolishly upgraded to Blogger Beta, I can no longer comment on non-beta blogs. Non-beta blogs would include approximately 98% of the Blogger blogs I read. Makes me want to scream!!


Two days ago, I downloaded the Stumbleupon toolbar for Firefox.

As an aside, if you're still using Internet Explorer instead of Firefox, you need to switch immediately. Here's a link for your convenience. Stumleupon does work with IE, but let's be serious, it's an inferior browser. ;)

Anyway, Stumbleupon is fantastic fun! The Stumbleupon fairies index websites using 500+ sub-categories organized into 14 major categories, including everything from film noir to car parts to beer to reggae. You choose the categories that interest you (as many or as few as you like) and then you begin "stumbling."

As you stumble, you get to rate the sites you come across. If you like a site, it is stored in your Stumbleupon profile. Just to give you a taste, here are some of my favorites:

1) Album Art - type in the name of a band, singer, or album and this site finds cover art for you.
2) Scott Wade's Dirty Car Art Gallery - this guy creates art on dirty windshields!
3) Pipecleaner Dance - use your keyboard to make the pipecleaner man dance.
4) Mr. Picassohead - use the shapes to make a funny face.
5) And, my personal favorite, Jackson Pollock - a blank screen and a mouse are all you need to make a Pollock-esque creation. Click for a new color.

Try it. You'll like it. Depending on the categories you choose, you might even find something useful, rather than just some fun time wasters...


Today marks the beginning of my last week in DC. According to my countdown calendar, it's T-minus four days and counting. I'm not moving until Monday, the 11th, but I only knew what day I'd be leaving work when I started the countdown, so I'll stick with it now.

Fantastic Four Valentine's Day cards. Old school! I loved Valentine's Day in elementary school. No one really passed around Fantastic Four cards when I was in fourth grade, but there were plenty of other amusing ones (e.g. Ren & Stimpy).

The "original cast" of the 1994 aborted film version of The Fantastic Four. Look at the amazing costume work. Anybody know what that blond guy is from?

I've never seen this movie and I don't plan to at any time in the future, but I thought you might like to compare the original cast with the most recent cast. Sex appeal = +10. Costumes and special effects = +2000.

There ya go. Four pictures of the Fantastic Four to commemorate my last four weekdays in DC.


over my head

I live in a beautiful neighborhood. This was one of my favorite pictures from a short jaunt about the place that I went on today. You can click on the leaves to see a short slideshow of the others photos I took. More to come...


For the past few days, blogging has begun to feel like homework for a class I hate. This feeling makes me incredibly sad because I love blogging.

I think part of the problem is that I'm too perfectionistic about my writing. Perhaps you think this idea laughable given my nonsensical posts in the past few days, but honestly, the idea that people are actually reading my blog freezes me in my tracks. I drive myself crazy wondering whether what I've written is good enough for an audience.

Another part is the pressure to write something important. It's much easier to blog stuff and nonsense and link to other people's substantive posts...

And, finally, the worst part of the problem is that many of the things I want to blog about are off limits. The thoughts I would normally type and publish are securely in the not-to-be-blogged category.

So, anyway, I'm getting desperate. Anybody have any suggestions? Is there anything you want to know about me? Are there any thoughts I've started that you want to see completed? Please, help me appease my blogging jones.