The questions of embryonic stem cell research have raised different questions for me, though. Several of the authors we read discussed the large number of embryos left over after fertility treatments (as many as 100,000). These embryos will never be implanted. In fact, many of them would not be viable even if they were placed in a womb that could nurture them. Since this is the case, debaters ask, shouldn't we make the most of these leftovers for research? Maybe you'd like me to discuss this question, but I'm more interested in why we have so many leftovers.
Fertility treatments are amazing, no doubt. The fact that science can "create life" is fascinating and provides the hope of having biological children to many. My question is, why are we all so intent on having genetic children? Is there really some biological imperative to spread our DNA? If there is, should we, as reasonable human beings, allow this imperative to determine our actions in such a way that we create multiple potential lives for every one that will come to fruition?
What does it say about how we think of children that so many American insist on having biological children? that so many Americans go to incredible expense to make that desire a reality? When we procreate, is it because we want to love and nurture young human beings or because we want a new accessory? If we place a priority on the former, the genetic make-up of the child we raise should carry little weight. However, if we want the 2.3 kids, kids that have mom's eyes and dad's chin, that every American is supposed to have, we might place a greater priority on genetics.
No, I haven't dealt with fertility issues, but I am getting older with no current prospects of marriage. It's possible that one day I may struggle through the pain of not being able to become pregnant. If that happens, rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars on fertility treatments and creating multiple embryos, that may or may not live, I would hope to have the presence of mind and compassion to pursue adoption, even adoption of an already fertilized egg that would otherwise be discarded.
Am I being harsh? Some might think so. But, shouldn't our views of embryos and fertility treatments and abortion be commensurate with our view of the purpose of having and raising children?
On a related note, one of my classmates made the claim that the discussion of personhood is a scientific one. I didn't get a chance to respond to this particular comment, but I would like to claim "person" as a sociological/psychological/social science term. The natural sciences might be able to determine whether a fetus is human, but beyond biological designations, I think natural science has little to say about who is and is not a person.
There have been a lot of things happening in my life in the past year that didn't seem appropriate blog fodder and now that there are some, I've gotten out of the habit. I'm going to try in the next few weeks to be more disciplined about the practice in an effort to determine whether I am at all interested in continuing this exercise. Maybe my first post (after this one) will fulfill my long-ago promise to write more about my views on homosexuality.
Let's start with what will probably seem least surprising to most of you. Over the past few years, especially my time here at Princeton, I've been forced to consider what my next step in life should be. For many years, I was convinced that one day I would be a professor. The field of study I was interested in changed, but the end goal remained the same: Ph.D. and professorship. This summer, however, I decided to begin the process of ordination in the PCUSA. It's a step I never expected to take. I never fought it in the sense that some of my friends fought their callings to ministry, I just never really considered it. First Pres of Salem did a number on me, though. Up until my arrival there, almost all of the people in my life simply supported my opinion that I was not cut out for full time ministry. But, week after week in Salem, dedicated members of that congregation, including several retired ministers, people who had no idea what my vocational goals were, constantly affirmed my gifts for ministry. Scary step, yes, but I think I need to take the wisdom of these encouragers seriously. Also, active participation in worship from week to week was something I enjoyed more deeply than I ever expected. When we had communion, and I couldn't even serve the bread, I felt profoundly sad. Though I still wonder whether ordination should really be necessary to participate in that way, it is right now, so I'm going to work with the system.
I still can't picture myself in parish ministry, but I suppose that could change in the next few years as I walk through the steps of the ordination process. My supervisor in Salem actually suggested becoming a campus chaplain, a position that would allow me to combine my love of academia with my desire to work with folks face-to-face. I would still love to get my Ph.D., and expect I will sometime in the not-too-distant future, but studying for and taking the GRE, researching and applying to programs, and learning German won't all fit on top of the million other things I have to do this year. Instead, I'm going to take a few years off from school and get a job in a church, to gain some experience and remain engaged in "professional" ministry, and (possibly) a second job, which will help me pay the bills.
Moving on to my second item... one that will probably seem least controversial to some and most irritating to others: I'm going to vote for Barack Obama. Perhaps I have taken a little sip of the kool-aid on this, but let me tell you, it tastes good. I almost wrote "pretty good," but that would be a serious understatement. Most of my years of political awareness have been spent in knee-jerk support of conservative candidates because that's what you do if you're from my city, my church, my college, but I'm done with their pragmatism. I don't actually think that Barack is just a starry-eyed optimist, but if he is, so what? My life could do with a little more optimism. Believe me, I can supply all the pessimism for myself and three other people. Keep the pragmatists in the trenches getting things done, but give me a leader who can dream.
I'm not supposed to say this, but I'm okay with having higher taxes if it means children will get health care or that we will wean ourselves from oil so that our earth can begin to heal or that students who come after me won't have to go into serious debt to finance their education. Sure, I don't really want to surrender half of my salaray, but I can live in a smaller house with less stuff if it means that a family down on their luck won't have to live on the street.
Finally, and with little explanation because that will come later in it's own special post, I think it's okay to be gay; not a sin or a problem. I don't love homosexuals despite their "lifestyle," I love every part of them and encourage them to make wise and healthy decisions, just as I would a heterosexual person. There is a lot of thought behind this statement, but I'll lay that out more fully in a forthcoming post. Before that, I'll be posting a paper I wrote this summer concerning my view of biblical authority, which will probably help clarify why my thinking has turned in this direction. But, for now, I leave you with enough to chew on for a few days.
I'm so glad to have my car back. While it was gone, I made do and thought I didn't miss it that much. But now that it's in the parking lot ready for my use, there's a huge weight off my shoulders. When I need to go places, I won't need to beg and borrow and I won't need to wait around for someone else's schedule to clear up. It was okay for a couple years, but it's nice to feel more independent. I'm beginning to think that a small part of what made Princeton so unbearable for the past year or so was the inability to escape. Now I have that.
Now I can go home for Christmas without bumming a ride or taking the bus. Now I can visit friends in various places thinking only of the cost of gas. Now I can go to the grocery store or Target or the bank when I have a free afternoon. Now I can offer other people rides.
I forgot how much I liked my car and now it's sort of like getting it for the first time all over again. It runs so quietly and smoothly. It's roomy enough that my head doesn't hit the ceiling and that most of my junk will fit into it when I leave Princeton at the end of this year. It's an ugly color, but goldish cars don't get pulled over as often as some.
If gas didn't cost so dang much right now, I'd be going on joy rides all over town! Yay Malibu!
It's amazing how inspiring it all is. I'm in awe of Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson and Michael Phelps. In fact, I'm in awe of anyone who can make it to the Olympics. Sometimes I dream of becoming a champion curler and going to the Olympics but, fortunately, I have better things to do.
Maybe what makes me most emotional is the possibility of unexpected things. Every event has a favorite competitor, but sometimes, the impossible happens and some unknown from Burkina Faso or East Timor sets a world record or bumps a favorite out of contention. These small triumphs of the human spirit give me hope.
I'm not a huge fan of sports, but when the Olympics are on, I'll watch almost anything, including synchronized swimming and stopping just short of ice dancing. I love the stories. I love the interviews. I love the looks on the faces of parents and coaches and competitors.
There's been lots of discussion about the location of the Olympics this summer. I can certainly understand the impulse to denounce China, given its record of human rights violations, etc., but I can't bring myself to boycott these games as some have urged. Watching doesn't indicate my support of China's political structure, but rather my support of the athletes and enjoyment of the competition.
As it is, I'm going to keep watching, keep cheering, and probably keep crying.
To quote one of my favorite movies ever: "PARLE VOUS OLYMPICS!!"
Anyway, done complaining. My last few days at FPC Salem were busy, but great. It seemed like everyone suddenly realized I was leaving and that they would have liked to get to know me better, so I got about eight invitations to lunch or dinner. No complaints from me. Eating alone was getting old, anyway. Given a couple more weeks, I would have been attached to the point of tears. As it was, I didn't cry, but I sure wanted to.
Jarrod, the youth pastor, is getting married in September to Megan. Megan and I became fast friends and in the past few weeks especially formed this unit in which we laughed constantly about things a sixth grader might talk about. It was wonderful and fun and I already miss her. It reminded me of the way my friendships with Laura and Rebecca formed when we first started at Houghton. There was nothing to force, we just enjoyed each other's company.
This past Sunday was a little overwhelming as dozens of people stopped me to wish me well and ask what my future plans were. Everyone was kind and gracious and made me feel like my time there had actually meant something to them. If any of you need to do an internship at a church and think you might like Oregon, get in contact with First Presbyterian Church of Salem...stellar group of people.
Leaving wasn't fun, but it wasn't awful either. My flight didn't leave until 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday, so I spent several hours waiting at the airport after Audrey, the CE director, dropped me off. Other than a small boy watching Charlotte's Web at top volume in the waiting area, it was a pleasant time.
The flights themselves were not very restful. I understand why the cram airplanes full now, but that doesn't mean I like it. Usually I can fall asleep on any flight, but I don't think I got more than half an hour while I was in the air. I almost missed my connection because fog was delaying arrivals but not departures.
I rode the train into Philadelphia, where Geila picked me up after she was done with her CPE meeting. Then I was finally introduced to the hostel in Wissahickon Valley Park, where Geila has often found retreat. It was lovely to transition back to the east coast there rather than in a lonely, half-unpacked dorm room. After not having slept for nearly fifty hours, I finally nodded off while watching Aladdin. (tee hee)
Now I'm back. My room is bare... Better get started.
Anyway, as the church financial whiz and I were enjoying our after lunch snack, I mentioned how spoiled I'd become by the amazing Pampered Chef apple peeler corer slicer gadget, without which I hadn't made apple crisp in several years. Well, it turns out that Virginia owned just such a gadget, but had rarely used it. Unbeknownst to me, she went on a hunt through the storage areas of her house and, finally, uncovered it and brought it to me in a lovely gift bag yesterday. It's still in the box! Some of the pieces are still in their original wrapping.
All I can say is, "WOOT!"
Given that my previous top choice for field ed placements was in central Pennsylvania, coming to Oregon was quite an adventure. In the process of working at the church and traveling about the state, I've fallen in love. If I can find an adequate job in the Pacific Northwest, I plan to move here in the not too distant future. I never really put much stock in the differences between the east and west coasts, but everything they say is true. And, fortunately for me, I fit really well out here.
I'm still not entirely sure what I want to do immediately after I leave seminary, but I'm pretty sure that I'll take at least one or two years off from any further schooling. Geila is trying to convince me to teach English in some foreign land. It's a tempting option. Taking part in a Christian Ministry in the National Parks is another interesting transitional option. Don't worry, though, I'll keep you, my five regular readers, up to date.
Along the Rim Drive, the rock faces hide a slough of small cascades, one of which is marked. It is called Vidae Falls. The pool at the bottom is a mosquito pit, but the falls are still worth stopping for.
After spending about an hour by the lake getting sunburned on only one side of my face and huffing and puffing back up the trail in less time than I expected it to take, I headed to the Rim Village, where I had a lovely lunch at the Crater Lake Lodge. If you ever decide to visit this place, just be aware that everything you buy will probably cost about 50% more than you think it's worth. Of course, people on vacation are usually willing to spend a lot more money.
Worn out from my climb and full of yummy fish and chips, I spent a little while sitting outside in a rocking chair. Feeling rather accomplished, I jumped into conversation with a group of folks up from California who'd made a side trip to Crater Lake from Ashland, where there is a famous Shakespeare festival. They were contemplating the trek down to the bottom of the lake, but decided not to do it when I told them it took at least an hour and a half. They were nice folks. It's fun to chat with people on vacation. They are usually so much more friendly and willing to talk to strangers.
I woke at 4:40 a.m. on Thursday, July 24. My intention was to wake at 5:30 and leave by 6, but I was so excited that I was out the door by 5:15. The drive took almost four hours and provided its fair share of beauty as the roads wound up the sides of the Cascade range. Before I'd even gotten a glimpse of the lake, I had already pulled the car over at least four times to marvel at the sight of the mountains.
Here is a picture of my first view of the rim, just minutes before the lake spread itself out before me.
Once I'd established my place, I took a drive around the rim of the lake. Despite the haze created by all the forest fires, every view I had of the lake was simply stunning. I won't bore you with all of my pictures, but this one shows the brilliant blue of the water.
Driving back to the campsite was a harrowing experience. Windy roads, along the sides of cliffs, in the deep dark of night, are not fun driving for a weenie like me. I made it back safely, though, and settled in for a restful sleep before another full day.
To be continued...
The most exciting things that have happened in the past ten days were my trip to Crater Lake and my second preaching engagement of the summer.
I'll be posting some pictures of Crater Lake in the next couple days. First, they need to be edited and uploaded to flickr, but that should happen tomorrow morning. My trip down to the lake was amazing. It made me even more sure that I want to move to the West Coast in the very near future, more specifically, the Pacific Northwest. We'll see how that dream develops in the coming year.
For now, I'm going to delay the report on Crater Lake and give you a little sumthin' sumthin' on the preaching. I'm glad I decided to preach a second time, though with all the talk about summer church work moving at a slower pace, I can't even imagine what the year must be like. Everything seems to come so quickly. There's always something else to do. It's like school: never a moment when you're actually done with everything.
Like the last time, I got a lot of positive feedback. At least three separate people told me I have a gift for preaching and most everyone just assumes I'm planning to become a full-time pastor. I'm not bragging. In fact, I would love it if someone would tell me that I'm terrible at preaching, that I don't have any gifts for pastoral ministry, that ordination should not even be a consideration for me. Instead, I'm beginning to get feeling that Presbyterian membership and ordination might be a path I'm supposed to go down.
It's not that I dread the thought of doing full-time church work, it's just something I've never really considered. There are millions of reasons I can think of that I'm not qualified for ministry, but I suppose no one is ever really qualified. Should I take these people seriously who make unsolicited comments about my future path in the church? or should I ignore all of their wisdom, including that of my supervisor, several retired ministers, and many long-time church members?
More often than I would like to admit, I am tempted to buy a new one because of its pretty cover or extensive study notes. At such times, I have to remind myself that one Bible is enough for any person (and I already own at least five or six), that any version I might like to read is available online for free, and that the study notes are usually a disappointment.
Yesterday, as I was wandering around the internet, I stumbled upon the soon-to-be-released NLT Study Bible. Despite my scholarly pretensions, I actually like the New Living Translation and a blogger I read and enjoy, Scot McKnight, was a contributor, so I was interested in what this new Bible might be like. Fortunately for me, the Tyndale House website had a free preview of Genesis. Unfortunately for me, it was a complete disaster.
As I read, I became ever more convinced that this so-called study bible should be relabeled a study prevention bible. It's not just this particular study bible I'm down on; I think that most of them are bunk. The study notes don't present interesting research or thought-provoking questions. Instead, they spoon feed readers whatever theological agenda the editors happen to approve. Naturally, I don't expect study notes to be free of perspective, but it would be nice if they could, at least, inspire further reflection and, dare I hope, study, rather than handing out authoritative sounding interpretations.
Here is a paragraph from the introductory materials of Genesis:
Most scholars, however, do not accept that Moses wrote Genesis. The prevailing critical view, called the Documentary Hypothesis, is that Genesis was compiled from various sources by different groups of people. In such approaches, there is seldom a word about divine revelation or inspiration. For those who understand the Bible as God’s inspired word, such theories often seem unnecessarily complicated and conjectural. Genesis can be understood much more straightforwardly as the product of Moses’ genius under God’s inspiration with later editorial adjustments.
Later in his article, the author goes on to explain myth, giving an over-simplified and disturbingly narrow definition, and again dismisses all scholars that would even consider classifying part or all of Genesis as myth. Brief study notes are going to be over-generalized as a matter of course, but the author doesn't even attempt to treat scholars who have spent years developing alternate theories of authorship with respect. The opinion of "most scholars" is dismissed simply because it's too complicated. Not to mention the fact that people who agree with such theories are summarily lumped together as those who don't believe in divine revelation or inspiration. This paragraph might as well say "Don't listen to scholars; none of them believe the Bible, anyway." The anti-intellectual bent of the article makes me wonder why the authors and editors of this bible are even involved in the task of compiling what they call a study bible.
I don't think one needs a Ph.D. to interpret Scripture, but I do think any person who intends to interpret Scripture should be willing to consider the opinions of scholars who have spent the better part of their lives studying the text and context of the bible. We need to beware of accepting any explanation merely because it is the one that takes the least amount of thought. The Bible doesn't need to be defended against thought. A book labeled a "study bible" should inspire learning and inquiry. I've sat through too many bible studies where study helps were treated as gospel truth. The scholars who write these things should be held to a higher intellectual standard.
It's definitely good for my wallet that the NLT Study Bible was so infuriatingly unbalanced, but maybe not so good for the church.
Emily was here yesterday. We went to the coast. Not knowing Salem very well, it's difficult for me to think of anything else to do. Our first stop was at some tourist shops. It was chilly and since our trip was rather spontaneous, neither of us had warm clothing, so Emily bought a fleece and I bought a hoodie. Big surprise: new hoodie! The best part is that this one screams "TOURIST!!!" and I plan on wearing it everywhere around Salem, even if the temperature is over 100 degrees. It's a personal mission.
After walking down the beach for a while, we headed to Kyllo's Grill for lunch, where we were seated by a window overlooking the ocean and ate a delightful meal. I had Dungeness crab alfredo. It was delicious! Emily laughed at how much I was enjoying my food, but after the disgusting meal I had at Maxwell's only two weeks prior, Kyllo's was wonderful. For only three more dollars than my meal at Maxwell's, I got food that actually tasted great and didn't make my stomach all wonky.
When we got back to Salem, we went to the mall to see "Get Smart." There were only about twenty people in the entire gigantic theater, so we got prime seats to enjoy the film and our smuggled in candy. The movie wasn't a constant laugh riot, but it was definitely entertaining. If you like the awkward humor of Steve Carrell, I would definitely recommend a matinee. Don't pay $10 for an evening show.
Other than my visit with Emily, the rest of the week was busy with church stuff. I've been planning events for kids and this past Wednesday we all learned more about patience and kindness by baking brownies. The kids seemed to enjoy themselves and I was glad when it was over. It's not that I don't enjoy them, but I get more worked up than I should be sometimes. Fortunately, I had some great helpers who cleaned up after us so that I could keep my head in the game instead of worrying about the messy trail we were leaving behind.
I also had a brief encounter with a concerned mother who was worried that I might be teaching her children it's okay to be gay. I was able to assure her that whatever my personal opinions, I wasn't going to be doing any sex education with kids whose parents I barely know and who barely know me. It wasn't a conversation I expected to have this summer, but I'm glad she came to me rather than pulling her kids out of the program and not telling me why. Perhaps I was naive to think that I wouldn't have to deal with sexuality issues this summer considering how much they are being talked about in the Presbyterian Church USA these days.
Now I should get to writing my children's sermon about the different kinds of soil. Did I ever tell you I hate children's sermons? Well, it's true.
Well, I was reading through the lectionary texts for July 27 and was struck by the Gospel reading, Matthew 13:31-33 and 44-52. These verses contain four parables that describe what the kingdom of heaven is like.
It's like a mustard seed...
and a pearl...
and a net...
I couldn't help but laugh about the variety and the seeming contradictions contained in these descriptions. Obviously, the kingdom of God cannot be described in one way or in comparison to one object, but I can just imagine the disciples looking confused and scratching their heads at Jesus' words.
Despite the humor I see in this passage, I don't think I'm going to preach on Matthew because the Romans text for that week is just too tempting. Maybe I should jump out of the lectionary box, though. There probably wouldn't be that many people who'd notice.
Are there any passages that strike you as funny, laugh-out-loud funny?
My first conversation was with my lovely roommate Rebecca and her beautiful baby girl. Jenna didn't talk so much as lay there, but if we had just been on the phone, I wouldn't have seen her at all.
If anyone else has Skype and would like to have a chat, let me know and we'll get it together...unless I don't want to talk to you at all. ;)
My weekend was pretty full even without the preaching assignment. DJ, a friend from college who's now studying in Spokane, came out for a visit and one of his friends from Corvallis got a ride to Salem to join us. They both arrived on Friday evening. Getting everyone together was sort of a comedy of errors involving lots of people unfamiliar with Salem. It only took us about an hour of calling back and forth and driving hither and yon to gather everyone in the same place. I cooked for the first time in months and had a great time doing it.
Since neither DJ nor Keun Ha had been to the Pacific Coast before, we drove west to see the ocean. We went toward Lincoln City and turned north once we reached the coast and headed up Route 101. Our journey took us to various places, but the one stop where we spent the most time was at Cape Lookout, where we hiked the Cape Trail. It was an easy to moderate hike, which zig-zagged across a peninsula for two and a half miles. The weather was nice and cool and the sun was shining. My feet were killing me because the Chacos I recently acquired either weren't adjusted properly or simply are not made for hiking, but it was still a fun time. Having lunch high above the ocean, looking back at the Oregon Coast, enjoying the cool breeze coming off the water was spectacular.
After our hike, DJ wanted to stick his feet in the ocean, so we continued north. Along the way, we stopped at Tillamook Cheese Factory and got some ice cream. Even further north, we stopped at Rockaway Beach, where DJ and I stuck our feet in the water. On our way back to the car, we stopped at the shower to rinse our feet. There was one button that operated the shower and another that operated a lower faucet to clean feet. Without thinking, I pressed the wrong button and gave myself an unexpected shower. A little surprised and disoriented, I tried to press the correct button and gave myself another shower. Third time was the charm. Fortunately, there were plenty of people around to enjoy the show.
Before we returned to Salem for the night, we went to dinner in Lincoln City. We were hoping for some delectable seafood, but ended up getting overpriced, sort of bland seafood instead. If you're ever in Lincoln City, I do not recommend Maxwell's. It's not bad, but it's definitely not good either.
Yesterday, I preached, but I already told you about that, so we won't go there again. After the service was over and I'd met with a few people for some extra feedback, DJ, Keun Ha and I went to Pita Pit, my favorite lunch place in Salem, to eat. There was a festival by the river, so the place was packed, unusual for a Sunday. After finishing lunch, DJ and I went to see Wall-E. The movie was super-cute. It's definitely worth the price of a matinee and the big screen adds to the viewing experience. It would actually make a really terrific date movie.
After the busy weekend, I was glad to get back to the place I've been staying and just veg on the couch. I might do some more of that this evening. Sitting in the back yard reading a book sounds like just the thing to do.
Btw, Daniel, several people here have recently schooled me on the proper nomenclature for the land abutting the Pacific Ocean. They assure me it is "the coast" or "the beach" and never "the shore." I demur to your greater experience of the West Coast. The people talking to me about it before must have been mimicking my own incorrect usage. ;)
All of that is not so daunting, until I remember that I chose the Old Testament passage for the week. What's the problem with that? you ask this woman who claims to love the OT? Well, the problem is that the passage I'll be preaching on is Genesis 22:1-14, known as the sacrifice of Isaac to some and the binding of Isaac to others.
We all know the Sunday school answers for this passage about how God knew beforehand that Isaac would not be killed, that provision was made in advance. Unfortunately, such easy statements just don't cut it for me anymore.
If it were you asked to sacrifice your son how much solace would you find, after three days of torment, in the fact that God provided a ram at the last moment?
If it were you bound, laid on a pile of wood, prepared for sacrifice, would you ever be able to trust your father again?
What do I say to this congregation expecting a word when I don't even know what I think of the words I'm interpreting? Is it possible to challenge, encourage and assure without confusing and killing faith?
In other news, over the past few days, I've developed a pain in my shoulder. Hopefully, it's just a muscle thing that will get better in the next few days because I don't want to have to use my entirely-too-expensive insurance policy out-of-network. Does anyone have any experience going out-of-network with the PTS student policy? How'd it work out for you?
A musical about Joseph.
In four days.
No, I'm not kidding. We started yesterday and will finish up with a performance on Thursday. We have kids entering kindergarten and a couple going into their senior year of high school. There are some (boys) who were tricked into participating and others who are all-star performers. It's quite a crew, let me tell you.
The show's not going to be perfect, by any means, but I think it will be good. Even the kids who didn't really want to be here at first are finding it difficult to resist the catchy tunes (that all sound almost like another song you know, like Celebrate Good Times or The Flintstones Theme Song) and the peppy dance routines.
There is an incredible lack of boys, so we have girls cast in the roles of Joseph and Jacob and most of the 12 brothers.
We'll see how it comes together, but I'm beginning to think that the process is the most important part. The performance will go by in a flash, but the kids will keep cracking the same jokes and talking about the time they spent participating in this at least for a while. And many of them will come back next year, ready to start all over again.
Here are a couple pictures from my long past trip to Cape Meares Lighthouse.
The first is the lighthouse itself (duh...) and the second is of a rock about a mile and a half off the coast called "the old man." What appears to be stubbly hair on top of his head is actually a large flock of common murres.
Because of some of the recent curriculum changes at PTS, my classmates and I didn't really get a change to have that kind of conversation. After all, what's the point of getting your hopes up about a class only to find out later you have a scheduling conflict? Anyway, we didn't begin registration until today...over a month after finals were finished. So, we didn't get to discuss the merits of various classes and compare schedules.
To stave off the sadness that engenders in my little heart, I am going to tell all of you what classes I'm taking.
First, I'm signed up for Christian Ethics and Modern Times with John Bowlin. In this course, we'll be dealing with exciting and difficult questions like: How shall we love our neighbors, show hospitality to strangers, bear the burdens of sinners and enemies, and speak truth to power in these modern times? Are the ideals of neighbor love and prophetic justice compatible with the norms of liberal democracy, with individual freedoms and equal rights, or not? I've heard great things about Bowlin.
Next, there's Religion and Time with Fenn. This course focuses on the contribution of Judaism and Christianity to the experience of time in Western societies, with special reference to the Sabbath, the fate of the soul, purgatory, millennium, and apocalypse. I can't even imagine what we're going to discuss, but it sounded like the most interesting course to fulfill a requirement.
Third, I'm taking Healing Relationships with Norbert Wetzel. NORBERT!!! This class focuses on family and couples therapy, a field which I'm considering as a career, so an appropriate class. Unfortunately, Dykstra isn't teaching anything first semester, but I do plan to take one of his offerings in the spring.
Finally, I might sneak into Historical Hebrew Grammar with Dr. Seow. I'm the only person enrolled at the moment and I don't know if I'll be able to do it with my three other classes plus field ed plus TAing Hebrew...so, we'll see.
Anyway, all you students out there, whether high school, college or grad school, what are you taking next semester?
I'm a little stressed and definitely hungry, so here's a photo to tide you over until I'm more reflective. Poppies line the roads around here. My wildflower book arrived on Thursday, so now I know they are of the Mexican Gold and California varieties. This photo contains only California poppies that I can see.
Things are going swimmingly. It's always a little bit weird to get used to a new job and a new place, but everyone here has been very welcoming and helpful. For all intents and purposes, today was my first work day at church. The entire morning and part of the afternoon was spent in staff and worship meetings.
I'll be preaching on June 29th. Today I discovered that the lectionary text for that day is the story of the binding of Isaac in Genesis 22. This will be my first sermon in any venue other than preaching class...should be interesting. The congregation isn't huge, but it's definitely a lot bigger than preaching class.
My big project for the summer is planning a weekly activity for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade for each of six weeks between June 25 and July 30. My thoughts so far include a rainbow theme, with a color for each week, somehow tied into the fruits of the spirit, with a few fruits sharing weeks. Feel free to offer any suggestions as this is my first time being in charge of something like this.
Well, I should get this letter written so that it can go out relatively soon. More pictures tomorrow...promise!
My days off are Friday and Saturday. Woot! So, taking advantage of my supervisor's offer to borrow her daughter's car, I traipsed around northwestern Oregon today.
The first stop on my journey was Tillamook National Forest. I love driving along winding mountain roads, so the drive there was a blast, nerve-wracking at times, but still tons of fun. The forest was absolutely beautiful. I hiked around for nearly two hours, enjoying the sounds of the river and taking pictures of all the wildflowers I could find. (RGR - I bought the little one a gift there. I shall send it Monday!)
My next stop was Tillamook Cheese Factory. Not that exciting, but I got plenty of free samples and a tasty lunch for less than three dollars.
To finish out my journey, I headed down Three Capes Scenic Route, first to Cape Meares, where I climbed into the lighthouse and watched the common murres through one of those quarter-fed binocular stands. My last stop was at Oceanside, where I dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean for the first time in my life.
It was a wonderful day. I'll start posting some of the pictures I took on Monday. I filled an entire memory card, so there are bound to be some good ones.
Really, what would I be writing, anyway?
I've been packing.
My room's almost totally stored
in cardboard boxes
and plastic totes
in the basement and above my closet.
The walls and shelves are bare
and the floor is a mess.
My flight to Oregon leaves at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.
It will be a very early morning, indeed.
A friend is driving me;
she's a saint.
I've been working a bit.
Nothing too fancy,
just some catering and waitering.
Easy money, free food, and human contact...
not bad for a campus job.
The dorm is empty.
Only two of us remain on my floor
and the other one is house-sitting right now,
so only here during the day, sometimes.
A cookout is in the forecast for Monday.
It will be nice to not be alone.
Split infinitive, amen.
I was in ninth grade.
It was rated "R."
My mom signed a permission slip.
The librarian made a copy of the tape for me.
Even at 15, I knew my mother wouldn't want to see it.
I was careful to watch before she came home.
The first time I saw the movie,
I was a junior in college.
It was assigned for Sociology of Film.
I was taking a history class on twentieth century Europe.
There was nothing better to do
and it seemed to fir,
so I watched with the girls next door.
There's an old saying,
"In one ear and out the other."
Is it possible for something to go in one eye and out the other?
At fifteen, watching along,
the images flashed before my eyes.
I shed no tears.
I felt no horror.
Presented with the jagged pieces of a bygone era,
I could barely bring myself to shrug.
Six years later,
seated comfortably between two friends,
and wanted nothing more than to un-see.
I saw the cattle cars full of human cargo.
I saw the stripping:
of their candleholders, toothbrushes, eyeglasses, and spoons
of their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters
of their hats, coats, shirts, pants, socks, and shoes
of their dignity...
of their lives.
I saw the people who stood on the train platforms
and those who operated the gas chambers,
the ones who made "selections"
and those who tossed live babies into pits,
too many of whom attended church,
and offered prayers in the name of Jesus.
And I saw the broken man, Oskar,
who knew he hadn't done enough...
that he could never do enough.
I saw and wept and wondered
the questions we all have.
Who made the heart capable of such evil?
What more could one mad expect of himself?
Where was God keeping Moses and Elijah?
When would justice flow down like water?
Why was there silence from heaven?
How how how could God let us be
when it's so obvious we don't know how to get it right?
And I wondered
would I have been capable of the same.
Am I capable of the same?
Could I have made the selections that sent people to death of life?
Would there have been Jews hiding in my basement?
that could not be quenched with tears.
At least for that night, my hope died
because I finally saw.
-I wrote this poem for a class on Spiritual Autobiography. We had a public reading tonight that was sparsely attended, but powerful all the same. If you're wondering where Jesus is in all of this, I have to say that the night I really saw this aw(e)ful movie, Rebecca was Jesus to me. There was no comfort in knowing that nothing had stopped the bureaucracy that slaughtered over 6 million people, but Rebecca lay with me and let me cry and didn't try to pretend it was all okay. I think this particular poem ends appropriately, but there's probably another one in my somewhere about what happened to my hope after that night.
Well, in the past few weeks, lots of interesting and fun things have been happening in my life.
First, I was approached by the editor of Pennsylvania Magazine with a request to use one of the blueberry photos I shot last summer. They don't pay a lot, but the point is that a magazine bought one of my photos!
Next, I got an internship in Oregon. I will be in Salem from the end of May until the middle of August. My housing situation will be better sorted out in the next few weeks, but if I end up with a house all to myself, people will need to visit me.
Then, last Monday, one of my favorite professors here asked me to apply to be a Hebrew TA. We still haven't gotten word yet, but I'm hoping that since a professor asked me to apply, I might have a little extra in.
The very next day, I received a letter in my mailbox notifying me that I'd been chosen to receive the Benjamin Stanton Award, which is given to a Middler who excels in Old Testament studies. It was completely unexpected and wonderful. I sort of bounced all the way to the cafeteria after reading it.
And then, the book sale I was running with a fellow student, brought in just a little over $26,000. Minus expenses, that means we can send nearly $21,000 to fund projects at seminaries overseas.
Most recently, today in fact, I learned that the photo above has been selected as an entry for the Schmap map.
Sorry for tooting my own horn, but I figured some of the people who read this might like to have a newsy post and since I don't feel right posting about the one huge crappy thing going on, I thought I would post the million little things that are going well.
But! I have news that pertains to my summer vacation and it is very exciting news. Around 2 p.m. today, it was decided that I will be spending my summer working at First Presbyterian Church of Salem in Oregon! Getting my internships lined up has been weighing on my mind this semester, so it's great to finally know that both of them are set. I'm so excited to spend some time living in the Northwest because it's someplace I've always thought I'd enjoy.
Anyway, it will be great to have some time away from the hurry and pressure of Princeton and to be paid to visit a place I've always wanted to go. Woot! I will be required to work on the weekends, but I'm hoping that I might find a few friends with "alternative" work schedules who might like to make random, midweek trips to the mountains or the coast. Mostly, I'm just glad that I won't have to spend another miserable summer living in Central New Jersey where the concept of humidity was perfected.
My new patroness, LittleMary, recently purchased seven books from me all! at! once! Pictured here are the four with rainbow pages.
Each book is 5" wide x 7" tall. One cover is black, the other is white and the paper in between makes a lovely rainbow. With 168 pages, these notebooks should serve the average person for a year or two. To ensure that they would be unique, I used a different color thread to bind each one. I happened to have some rainbow ribbon lying around, so I included a ribbon bookmark with each book. I was very pleased with the outcome and definitely plan on making more of these in the very near future.