Action Jackson

Nearing the End

This photo has been getting a lot of action on my Flickr site. Maybe one day I will take a picture that's good enough to make it into the "Interestingness" group.

Theologiggle 2007

Theologiggle 2007 was awesome. Jordan and I joined a packed house on Friday evening. I was delighted at how well thought out and prepared, not to mention hilarious, the entire event was. It makes me look forward to next year's.

I took a bunch of pics. You can see the slideshow by clicking on this picture of several students not only imitating our professors, but singing a drinking song and drinking Miller Lite. If you can't tell what's going on in any picture, click on it to see a description. Enjoy!

Faculty Lounge 6

Now, I should do some homework...oy!

Yahoo! Widgets

Yesterday, while I was trying to find a website that would help me identify some of the flowers I've photographed recently, I somehow stumbled across Yahoo! Widgets. I don't have a Mac, but through the power of Yahoo! I now have widgets. Awesome!

Right now I have about eight widgets. The clock, calendar and notepad are standard. I have another that streams Flickr photos, which allows me to not only view other people's photos, but upload and edit my own. Another shows me the weather via The Weather Channel's website. One gives me a dock for all my shortcuts that is a lot prettier than the Windows toolbar, one is a sticky note pad that allows me to leave myself little reminders and a third shows the strength of the wireless signal I'm using. I can even search Google without opening my web browser.

Anyway, for all of you PC owners who have envied the Mac widgets, there is simple, elegant alternative. One problem, though, I still can't identify the flowers in my pictures.

Stands Out in a Crowd

Stands Out In the Crowd

I took this one yesterday. Overcast days are so great for taking photos!


The Brower

Not only the photo of the day, but my five-hundredth post and a tribute to the wonderful man pictured above.

Yesterday was my last day of speech class. It was also my professor's. Some would rightly call the end of Dr. Brower's career at this seminary the end of an era. He's been teaching speech here since 1954, 53 years.

Born on February 28, 1926, in Birmingham, Alabama; his father was a lawyer and his mother was a classically-trained singer. Early in his childhood, his family moved from the deep South to New York City. When he grew up, he became an actor on the the stage, screen and television. He's worked with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Charlton Heston and everywhere from his hometown, NYC, to Hollywood, CA. He never earned an actual doctorate, but he certainly earned the title. He married in his early twenties and they recently celebrated their 62nd anniversary. He and his wife have three sons and 2 grandchildren; a granddaughter named Lucy and a grandson named Charlie. (I don't think the Peanuts reference was intentional, but it is certainly amusing.)

He teaches at a seminary, but he's an agnostic. His methods are different from the rest of the professors; while they have their students read one liners written by children, his students read Shakespeare. Almost all of the other juniors taking speech with other professors were envious of those of us who had Brower. He knew we could rise to the occasion of interpreting verse written 500 years ago. He gave us the freedom to write and deliver our own material. He was encouraging without being a pushover. And he genuinely enjoyed our youthful exuberance and silly antics.

We didn't even know that yesterday was going to be his last class until we were there and, let me tell you, he made a grand exit. As the class was wrapping up, he moved to the front of the room where there was a CD player. He said something about trying to determine what his last words to us should be. Suddenly, the voice of Frank Sinatra singing "I'll Be Seeing You" filled the room. The song played and Dr. Brower was lip-syncing along with it as he went around the room shaking each of our hands. His last "official" words to us came as he mouthed the last line to the song: "I'll be looking at the moon / but I'll be seeing you."

I regret that I didn't take my camera to class yesterday, but I think the picture above (taken at the BGLASS barbeque with Katie) is a good one. It doesn't quite capture Dr. Brower's jovial personality or razor-sharp wit, always expressed in the best words possible, but a picture never could. A picture could never show the sparkle in his eye as he speaks one of the hundreds of poems he has memorized or the radiant charm that exudes from him when he smiles and laughs. It's possible that I'll never see Dr. Brower again, but I expect it's more likely that I will indeed see him "in all the old familiar places."

Thank you, Dr. Brower, for staying on staff for one more year. Your class will be one of those I remember for the rest of my life.

Happy Day

Yesterday, I lamented over the fact that I would soon have to "pack up my duds and scoot," so it's only fair that tonight I should share the reasons why moving day will also be a happy day. After all, I love spending time at Jordan's place. Let me tell you why...

1) I love the people. Jordan, his mom, his brother and all their crazy friends. I can't think of one time we've been there that we didn't have a great time. There are great conversations around the dinner table, occasional hockey, football, or baseball games to shout at, and plenty of card games. All the people fit. Everyone is welcome.

2) I love the animals. Sadie is the best dog I've ever met. Skylar is probably the cutest (though he doesn't officially live there anymore). The chinchilla is not only incredibly soft, but does a good job of driving the dogs crazy. And, the bunny, let's just say the bunny is my best friend.

3) I love the house. It's not huge or lavishly furnished, but it's simple and cozy and comfortable. When we're there, I never really want to leave; partly because it means coming back to school, but mostly because it's such a warm, homey place to be.

4) I love the food. Whenever we're in Pennsburg, we make and eat a lot of great food. Everything from great salads, straight from the garden, to falafel completely from scratch. There's something really satisfying about cooking food that everyone likes. We go out for good food, but only breakfast at Powderbourne and water ice at Secret Spot.

It's a good place. And even though going there for break will involve a lot of time and effort, it will be worth it.

Burnt at the Edges

Burnt Around the Edges

Sad Day

There is a sad day in the near future. It will arrive at my doorstep in less than a month. And that day is moving day. For a while, I was planning to stay in Princeton during the eight weeks between the end of the spring semester and the beginning of summer language, but then I found out how much it would cost to pursue such a plan. I can't justify $640 in room, plus any money I would have to spend on food, for the convenience of not having to pack up and store my stuff. So, I will be living with Jordan and his family for that two month period. I might not be able to find a job during that time, but at least I won't be spending ridiculous amounts of money to live in a third floor dorm room.

You may be wondering why this is such a sad event. Well, it's because I've got my stuff where I want it. It's all organized and pretty and I like it. But, soon, I will have to ruin it all. It feels like the moment after you finish a Lego creation and suddenly realize that, if you want to build something else, you will have deconstruct the masterpiece before you.

Seriously, check it out... above, you see my lovely desk, bureau, refrigerator layout. Functional and beautiful. I recently purchased a clock. It cost under $4, but with my own special touches, it looks like a million bucks (or, at least, ten). My photos and my books surround me, making a wonderful environment for study and looking like an awesome grad student. My refrigerator holds cold water for the nights that it is hot enough in my room that I sleep sans blanket.

And, to the left, you may observe my bookcase, papasan, bed set -up. It's a winning combination and I will be sad to see a naked bed and a lonely papasan when I leave it all for two months. I'm glad I thought to take pictures, so that when I get back here, I can set it all up again...exactly how I like it.

A Passion

One summer, when I was seven or eight, my mom bought me a camera. It was pink and rectangular and used 110 film, like the stuff in the picture at right. My mother probably had little inkling how excited I would become about taking photos.

Over the next ten years, I probably took over a hundred rolls of film. That's nothing to a professional photographer, but to a kid with no money, it's a lot. During that time, I graduated to a 35 mm point and shoot. Eventually, my mother realized I took better pictures than she did and we swapped cameras.

My Christmas present during my freshman year of college was a nice new 35 mm point and shoot purchased especially for my semester abroad in London. My mother reclaimed her older camera that had traveled with me to Venezuela and Papua New Guinea and I journeyed forth taking over thirty rolls of film during my twelve week stay across the pond.

Before I headed to Africa during my last semester at Houghton, I saved enough money to purchase a Canon Rebel manual/automatic 35 mm with two lenses. It served me well during my time abroad and for a few years after college.

Now, I have my Panasonic DMC-FZ7 and I can't get enough. Digital is the best thing to happen to photography since photography was invented. It's awesome to be able to take as many pictures as I want without having to worry about how much it might cost to process all the film. It's a lot of fun to be able to mess around with my pictures and share them online. I can get them printed when I want to, but I don't have to pay for all the bad shots to get the good ones.

It's pretty common to see me wandering around campus or town just taking pictures of stuff that looks interesting. There are days that I leave a little early for work so I can take a few pictures on the way to the Y. And, if I'm in nature, my camera is always at my side, waiting to capture flowers and insects and animals and scenery. There are probably times when people have thought me to be crazy, but mostly no one pays attention.

As a way to pay homage to my love of photography and, hopefully, develop my skills in this area, I am going to begin posting a "photo of the day." This blog will still have all the other stuff it's famous for, but I'm also going to use it as a place to showcase my passion, if not my talent.

Anyway, here you are: my first photo of the day, taken last fall standing on the quad. I love the moon in the afternoon. Enjoy!

It Happens Every Year...

...and every year I hate it.

Most people get very excited when the weather warm up each year. They bust out the shorts and tank tops and cute sundresses and prance about in the sunshine. Each day sees more and more students out on the quad playing frisbee, tossing a ball, pretending to read, etc. I, on the other hand, stay in my room to avoid sunburn and sweat.

It's not really that I mind sweating, it's that I don't like sweating for no reason. Running around sweating, that's fine. Standing still sweating, not fine.

Anyway, I will enjoy the next few months because they mean there are leaves and flowers. They mean I can swim and wear less clothing. They mean I have vacation (until Greek starts, at least).

But, I have to be honest, I will rejoice when I feel the first cool breeze of autumn and the leaves begin to change again.



The End of BGLASS Week

Yesterday was the last day of BGLASS Week. As part of the celebration, a bunch of us donned shirts of various colors that proclaimed boldly "CELEBRATE DIVERSITY," gathered in front of Miller Chapel, and got our picture taken. Fortunately for BGLASS, I've been taking my camera everywhere lately, so when the photographer didn't show up, we could still take the picture. Here it is...

Some people thought we were contradicting our message of diversity by organizing ourselves according to the colors of the rainbow, but my response to those people is, "The rainbow is pretty!" Click on the photo above to see some more pictures from the barbeque co-sponsored by BGLASS and the Southern Seminarians Society. Thank you to the folks who literally stayed up all night roasting the pig for the rest of us to enjoy.

At the conclusion of the barbeque, there was a worship service to commission the new moderators of BGLASS for next year, Amy Dame and Matt Querns. Amy is in the front row with the orange shirt and the skirt. Matt is in the front row wearing a blue shirt. The preacher who delivered the sermon is a gay man who's closeted in his congregation. I can't imagine living with that big a secret hanging over my head, but he seems hopeful that he won't always have to.

All in all, it seems like BGLASS week was a success. Next year, I think I'll be more involved in this organization.

Silence is...

Some say that silence is golden, I would like to take this opportunity to say that silence is difficult.

It's BGLASS week at PTSem. BGLASS is a student organization, the goal of which is to provide a safe space for those on campus who are bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender or heterosexual with questions about sexuality and spirituality. The acronym stands for Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Straight (Seminarian) Supporters. Each spring, BGLASS sponsors a week full of events to raise awareness about issues facing the "queer" community and, as I already mentioned, this is it.

In the words of my very clever boyfriend, "I put the ASS in BGLASS." (We might even get t-shirts that say that next year ;). Anyway, today was the official, nationwide Day of Silence and as a straight supporter, I participated in the event. Each of us who participated carried cards with the following printed message to be given to anyone who questioned our silence:

"Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discriminaton. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today."
I don't have any official position on whether homosexuality is a sin. That is an easy question for some of you to answer, but the answer no longer seems as obvious to me as it once did. If you must, you can chalk it up to my liberal seminary education, but I assure you that I was questioning a lot of my "answers" long before I arrived at Princeton. Anyway, right now, it seems more important to do my best to love people than to spend my time labeling their sin because I no longer believe that labeling someone else's sin for them is the most loving thing I can do... Perhaps it's wrong, but that's where I am.

So, today, I donned my t-shirt and shut my mouth. Unfortunately, my silence is not rare, so only the people who already knew what was going on noticed that I wasn't talking. Still, the experience was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. There was no real suffering involved, but it did spur some contemplation about how horrible it would be to not be able to express my needs to those around me. What if I couldn't tell my beloved how I felt because I knew that I would be ostracized, harassed, beaten, or even murdered? Generally, I'm not a sharing person, but there are some things that need to be told!

Being heterosexual, I don't know what it's like for someone to tell me that who I love is wrong, but I have had the experience of being told who I am is wrong and I don't want to perpetuate that pain in other people, who did not ask to be homosexual any more than I asked to have brown hair or my mother's hands. I choose not to force people to live in silence because they are different, that is why I was silent today.

Event Full

Beginning with the seder on Friday, this weekend was busy and wonderful.

On Saturday morning, Jordan and I headed to Pennsburg to spend some time with his family. Matt and Daniel joined us later in the day. It was a nice change of venue since we've both been spending an inordinate amount of time staring at books and computer screens. I don't think any of us got as much work done as we would have liked, but it was still well worth the trip. Sarah was amused by the sight of all four of us sitting in the living room staring at our laptops. She took a few pictures of us socializing around our computer screens.

I think I gain five pounds every time we go to Jordan's house and this weekend was no exception. The wonderful food began with our lunch of bacon and cheese quiche. Sarah always likes to make special meals when there are guests. After lunch, we headed to Secret Spot to get gelati. It was good timing because the rain began only a few hours later.

Later in the afternoon, Jesse (Jordan's brother) and Josh (his friend from Maine) arrived with their dogs. Echoes, Josh's dog, is a Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog. She looks a little scary, but she's very calm, especially compared to Sadie, and sweet. Her owner is an interesting guy. He built himself a house on some property he owns in Maine. His goal is to live an environmentally sustainable lifestyle and he's well on his way.

The weight gain continued with a dinner of falafel, which I made with a little help from Daniel, pita, made by Jordan, hummus, fresh greens from the garden and Jasmine rice, followed by a dessert of French apple pie, made by Sarah and indescribably good. By the end, everyone was shoving back from the table and unbuttoning his or her pants.

This morning, we went to breakfast at Powderbourne. Daniel was so excited to eat scrapple that he was literally giggling as we entered the restaurant. I can't imagine the attraction to something so vile, but he and Jordan each ate a healthy slice. Shortly after breakfast, Matt and Daniel returned to school. Jordan and I hung about Pennsburg until 4:30 or so when we took to the flooded roads to travel to his father's place in order to celebrate his twin stepbrothers' birthday with a dinner out at a Brazillian steakhouse. Nearly four hours later, I'm still full.

It was a great weekend...not a particularly productive one, but certainly a refreshing one.

Passover: Only One Week Late

Last night, we celebrated Passover. We read some prayers, retold the story of the Exodus from Egypt, sang some songs, drank lots of wine and ate a wonderful meal. (Click on the picture at the right to see a slideshow of our evening.)

It all began around 2:30, when Jordan and I headed over to the CRW apartments to begin preparation for the meal. It took nearly four hours to grate the potatoes and onions and fry the latkes, grill the honey lime chicken, chop the apples and walnuts for the charoset, and steam the broccoli.

The seder began around 6:30. Including me and Jordan, there were nine people in attendance. Each person brought their own bottle of wine. I'm not a fan of most wine that I've had, but last night I discovered that I love Manischewitz wine. It is incredibly sweet and very grape-y. People who like wine would probably hate this stuff, but I drank almost an entire bottle of my alcoholic grape juice. Mmmmm...

Jordan modified the Haggadah so that it wouldn't take five hours. The whole event was very interactive, with each of us reading different parts at various times. He didn't modify it to make it Messianic, we simply celebrated the beauty of the Jewish traditions. He also didn't take out any of the glasses of wine, so several of our friends got a little tipsy.

When the celebration was over, Lydia had a craving for a ice cream cookie sandwich, so a bunch of us took a trip to Halo Pub, where we enjoyed some tasty ice cream. It was a wonderful evening, with some of the best fellowship I've had in a while. There's something beautiful about gathering around food in worship.

Ezekiel 16

My Women class is constantly feeding my thoughts these days, especially in the past week since I began doing some research for a group project focusing on Ezekiel 16. The research I've been doing has made me realize how often I have read the biblical text without actually reading it. This seems to be particularly true when it comes to the prophets because some of the stuff they say is simply grotesque and rather than struggling with the implications of the violence within the text, I have simply skimmed over them. Reading and re-reading the extended metaphor of God as Jerusalem's husband has been more than a little bit troublesome.

I will be posting some more about this in the next few days, but for now, why don't you read it for yourself. Slow down. Let it sink in. Check it out in several different versions. Try to look at it from the point of view of the woman, Jerusalem. Then tell on earth does one teach this?


Romans 12:1 - I beseech you therefore, sisters, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Read this verse out loud, as it's written. Does it shock you? What kind of images come to mind?

During a lecture in my Women class today, my professor, wonderful Dr. Sakenfeld, read this passage: "I beseech you therefore..." half of the people in class were mouthing the words as she read this familiar passage. As she paused, our lips silently filled in the word that we expected, "brethren." Then she continued, "...sisters..."

I was struck dumb. As she spoke the part about presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, my mind immediately leapt to sexual images. When I hear the text with the word "sister," my mind moves to images of women "giving themselves" to men for the sexual gratification of the man. Hearing the same text with the word "brethren," I think of a life of piety, lived for God, not for myself.

What does this say about me? What does this say about our culture? Why is it that I immediately associate sexuality and sacrifice in a female context? Did the resetting of this familiar text take anyone else by surprise?

After thinking about the way language affects our thoughts and actions for many years, the reality that just changing language is not enough was brought home to me more profoundly in the reading of that one text than in all the study I've done since college...

Always Interested...

in what people have to say about women and ordination. This blog post seems well worth the ten minutes or so it takes to read.

(Third blog post in one day and I've only been awake for six hours. What is happening to me, people?!!)

"Foot" Washing...

A snippet of conversation at my lunch table...

Me: In the Old Testament, "feet" sometimes refers to genitals.
Guy 1: Does that idea extend into the New Testament.
Guy 2: Dude, we went to a foot-washing service last night!

Only at seminary, folks...only at seminary.


I don't have classes, I don't have any reason to wake up before noon, unless you count homework, and I still can't sleep in.

This morning, I woke up at 7:40 a.m., but for some reason I thought it was 8:40 and decided that it was silly to try to go back to sleep. It wasn't until almost 40 minutes later that I realized my mistake. By then, I was completely awake with no hope of returning to dreamland.

Perhaps this will all change when I no longer have projects to do and papers to write, but I live in fear that I'm turning into an old woman who wants to sleep more than four hours a night but can't.

Would Screaming Help?

I love Princeton, really, I do. It's been a good place for me this past year and I am sure I will treasure this experience for the rest of my life...blah blah blah.

But, sometimes I wonder if the administrative bureaucracy here needs a little talking to. We have a lot of resources here at PTS. A (space) lot. So, you would think that they might use some of those resources to bring the school's technology up to snuff. Well, you would be wrong.

Money that could be spent on making access to online resources faster and easier, they buy another book about why Daniel was written in the second century instead of the first or another person's take on liberation theology or the most up to date copy of John Bright's History of Israel with a few new pictures of the same old thing.

Obviously, these are things that should not be overlooked by an institution providing a theological education, but sometimes I think it might be nice if they put some of those things on the backburner in order to integrate technology more smoothly into student life. I can't imagine the tech people would get upset with the extra work because I bet they would love better technology even more than I would.

Think about it, PTS, you might want to compete with technology-conscious schools some day.

(This rant brought to you by the hour I wasted trying to print a passage in Hebrew so that I could do my translation homework for tomorrow, to no avail. Awesome!)

Freak OUT!

It's getting to the point in the semester where I start to freak out about how much work I still have to do. Currently, my biggest worries are the two group projects (one which is almost done, the other which is barely started), but I also have three research papers (none of which are begun) and reading and Hebrew translation and work and job-hunting and other odds and ends that never stop flying at me...AND ONLY 5 WEEKS until the end of the semester.

So, what do I do? I blog. When I get stressed out, my main coping strategy is to ignore what's stressing me out until I have to deal with it. Ugh! I love school, but I hate deadlines (and working in groups...).

The Book Sale

It was a success. The goal was $30,000 to split between four seminaries and, last I heard, we got about $29,500.

Next year, I will probably be a bit more involved in the whole process because Jordan is being groomed as the next "book sale person." So, most likely, I will be working at the book sale whether I want to or not ;). Fortunately, I want to... Maybe in special collections; greater prestige and all that.

Cleaning up the place was a little depressing. There were probably 100 boxes of books that went directly to the recycling center. Most of them were trash that should never have been printed, but I'm sure that there were many good books tossed away at the same time. I guess there's only so much you can do. When I found a book called Redemptorama, I stopped looking at what I was throwing away.

Anyway, if you live anywhere near NJ and have books that you might want to get rid of in the next year or so, bring 'em down, we could use them.

Emerging Women

I posted a lovely poem with some words of introduction over at Emerging Women. Check it out.