Monday, January 29, 2007


"But godliness with contentment is a great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out."
-1 Timothy 6:6-7

Or, for more fun, read it in the Wycliffe version:
"But a great winning is piety, with sufficience. For we brought in nothing into this world, and no doubt, that we be not able to bear any thing away."

Easier cut-n-pasted than done.

Currently on Pandora: Last night, last night
Underneath the moonlight
I asked the owl, asked the owl
What to do
He said you only need a love that's true

That's what comes of swinging in ethical trees, I suppose.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I was asked, recently, why I never scan my cartoons and post them here.

Lots of reasons, I guess, ranging from 'I don't like using the scanner' to 'I don't draw very well' to 'an embarassing number of my cartoons express my deeply felt superiority to others in class.'

Here's a stab at it, though- this one's from yesterday's Ethics class. Something or other was being said about objective and subjective grounds for ethics; I'd give you more detail, but I was busy trying to draw an owl. It looks better here than it did in class. The question, I suppose, is whether the owl is talking to her friend in the tree, or to me.

And then there's reiterating my feelings on Ogden. Reading On Theology has not been one of the highlights of my week.

Appropriately, today's Word of the Day: 'inscrutable, adjective:
Difficult to fathom or understand; difficult to be explained or accounted for satisfactorily; obscure; incomprehensible; impenetrable.'

phooey on Odgen

As far as I can tell, this fellow spent two full pages to say 'Christian Ethics must be grounded in a subjective knowledge of Christ.' I'm not really sure, though.

I didn't come to seminary for academic hazing, that's all I'm saying. Sometimes, I wonder if the anti-intellectualists in my religious heritage weren't on to something.

this clock would rock my world

Seriously, go look. It's perfect for folks like me, except that I might not remember to look at my computer for the time.

Found that at Crooked Timber, where I also found this set of tag clouds. I didn't listen to the State of the Union, being too busy with considering yesterday evening's various propositions and learning that my jeans are totally slut gear, but I'm a little disturbed to note that my name was one of the most common words.

Apparently those sparkle-butt jeans are hotter than I thought.

inauspicious beginnings

Yesterday was the first day of class. I overslept, forgot to bring paper to class, made a frustrated and snarky comment about hoping that people wouldn't emotionally process in class, made an ass of myself at Common Meal, and then called it a school day and went to work. Last night's work experiences have been chronicled in a previous post, after which I went home, stomped around my apartment, came back to school to write about it until it was funny, and then showed up at Aaron's house after the Princess's birthday party was already gone.

A little storytelling, a little listening to poetry, a little Aaron guessing that I hadn't eaten supper even though it was after 10, and I finally got home around 1. Forgot to turn on the alarm, and woke up at 7:45 for today's 8:30 class.

So, still no notebook paper, on the second day of class. But I do like this poem from last night:

The Layers
--Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

the rebelution

I don't often talk, around ESR parts, about the problems I see in conservative Christian circles. Folks here are quite motivated to address those problems, loudly and at legnth, even when they have no clue what they're talking about.

This survey, however, suprised me. It shouldn't have- I've met these folks before- but I guess it's been a while.

Some of the questions:
It is a stumbling block for a girl wearing pants to sit cross-legged (i.e. Indian style).
Seeing a girl stretching (e.g. arching the back, reaching the arms back, and sticking out the chest) is a stumbling block.
Seeing a girl take off a pullover (i.e. a shirt that must be pulled over the head) is a stumbling block, even if she is wearing a modest shirt underneath.
Dresses that are fitted at the waist (e.g. with a belt or waistband) are a stumbling block.

And etc.

First off, if the men taking this survey are turned on by girls, rather than by women, that's a problem that likely has little to do with the way the girl is dressed.

Perhaps the word 'woman' is immodest.

Anyway, I apologize to all the men I've tempted by sitting crosslegged in jeans, particularly the jeans I'm wearing today with the sparkles on the butt. If I weren't such a hussy, maybe I wouldn't get propositioned by guests at the Roadhouse.

I was joking with a friend over the weekend about going plain, but all this makes long skirts and headcoverings look pretty good to me.

swingingly naive

I got a nine dollar tip off a thirty dollar check tonight. I asked the guys if there was anything else I could do for them, and they said "is there a room in the back where you could give us, um, a backrub?"

Nine bucks is nine bucks, I guess.

I went back to the storage area, later on, and some friends were talking about swing dancing. It's been forever since I've been swing dancing, and even though I'm no good at it I stopped for a listen. They asked if I wanted to join, and I said 'Sure! When?'

Long story short: they weren't talking about swing dancing. They were talking about swinging. I made a valiant attempt to ignore the problem by saying 'You've got a swing in your yard? Like a tire swing?'

Fellow gives me a long and somewhat discomfiting scan and says 'you know what I'm talking about.' Intensely. Then another person came up, and I slipped off with my ketchup.

Perhaps I should rethink my habit of dancing to rap music while climbing in the shelving. An odd night all around.

Monday, January 22, 2007

three heads

JQ: ...I listened to the lecture and thought, “That’s a fascinating guy!” It turned out he was doing a lecture every day, so I kept coming back. The third time I came back, I was on a hallucinogen. I think that did influence me.

RU: He became more impressive? Kind of like the Grateful Dead?

JQ: Yeah, he became even more impressive and he had three heads.

-It's not a great article, but that part made me laugh.

what are you doing here, Elijah?

Late last night, I was rereading a book of poetry by James O. Bond that I recieved from a friend who moved away. I had already turned out all the lights before I went digging for this poem, so I read it by a candle:

Let go, he said, and fall
Into the everlasting arms
Your frantic grasp upon the edge
Of sullen life is useless now,
Unhand the day, and unheeding fall
Into eternal care.

But no, I plead
I sense no sure embrace
I fear an everlasting fall
Into a cruel and empty space.

Remember yet, he said,
The gentle curvature of space
Encircling time and you
Holds in its arms
The wholeness of us all
And tenderly returns your fall.
Let go, he said, and rise
Into the endless skies.

It was also an evening for digging back through old music, starting with Eli and moving through Margaret Becker, Sarah Masen, Five Iron Frenzy, Third Day, and some Jars of Clay for good measure. Old friends of mine; I should haul them out more often for tea.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

late, of course

(I haven't been in much lately.)

We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization. There is still a voice crying out in terms that echo across the generations, saying: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you, that you may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven.

This love might well be the salvation of our civilization. This is why I am so impressed with our motto for the week, 'Freedom and Justice through Love.' Not through violence; not through hate; no, not even through boycotts, but through love.

It is true that as we struggle for freedom in America we will have to boycott at times. But we must remember as we boycott that a boycott is not an end within itself; it is merely a means to awaken a sense of shame within the oppressor and challenge his false sense of superiority. But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

sleep and justice

Last week or perhaps the week before, Aaron asked me if I wanted to go to a Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast. I said "sure!" Free food, talking about justice, hobnobbing with the Richmond social elite (I may have made the latter up); what could be better?

He checked back this afternoon, wanting to know if I was still up for breakfast. "Sure!" I say again. He tells me that he'll be by to get me at 6:40am.


I like justice. I want to see it roll down like the waters. I just think it should do so at a reasonable hour, say 10:30 for a nice justice brunch.

My committment to justice may be flawed, I suppose, but it will be more than made up for by my committment to coffee; I'll need a lot to make it through breakfast.

oh gracious

"The sister of a Dutch bishop in Limburg once visited the abortion clinic in Beek where I used to work in the seventies. After entering the full waiting room she said to me, 'My dear Lord, what are all those young girls doing here?' 'Same as you', I replied. 'Dirty little dames,' she said."
(Physician, The Netherlands)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

hearing gap

Tomorrow, in my class on ritual, we're holding Love Feast. For those of you not familiar with it, it involves feetwashing. A classmate who is working on the project gave us some simple instructions and advice, including (in my ears):

"Women ought not wear clothes around their waist."

Repeatedly, in this class, I've found myself identifying with the Brethren point of view. The professor describes 'the Anabaptist perspective' on a matter, and I think, 'Well, of course! What rational person could possibly think differently?' As galling as it is to admit that someone else might be right about me, I may find myself part of the Church of the Brethren before I leave.

Just the same, I don't think there's much Biblical basis for an ordinance of crop tops on women at Love Feast.

I waited, (semi)patiently for the discussion to resolve into something understandable, but noone else in the class reacted as though it was odd to ask that women not wear clothes around their waist. That was even odder; surely, in a class of eleven, someone might think that a bit strange!

My look of consternation was noticed by someone in the class, and I was asked what was on my mind. I paused a moment, trying to collect my thoughts, and repeated what I had heard.

"Women ought not wear clothes around their waist?"

Heard spectacularly wrong, of course. The advice was not to wear hose up to the waist, since wearing full pantyhose to feetwashing would result in a strip experience during worship to expose the feet. So the advice was about avoiding immodesty, rather than purposefully engaging it, although we did make the obligatory jokes about a new and more exciting version of Love Feast.

new favorite hymn, perhaps of the week

(I love the Brethren Hymnal.)

Oh God, in restless living we lose our spirit’s peace
Calm our unwise confusion, bid thou our clamor cease.
Let anxious hearts grow quiet, like pools at evening still,
till thy reflected heavens all our spirits fill.

Teach us, beyond our striving, the rich rewards of rest.
Who does not live serenely is never deeply bless’d.
O tranquil, radiant Sunlight, bring thou our lives to flow’r,
less wearied with our effort, more aware of pow’r.

Receptive make our spirits, our need is to be still.
As dawn fades flick’ring candle, so dim our anxious will.
Reveal thy radiance through us, thine ample strength release,
not ours, but thine the triumph in the pow’r of peace.

We grow not wise by struggling, we gain but things by strain.
We cease to water gardens, when comes the plenteous rain.
Please, beautify our spirits in restfulness from strife,
enrich our souls in secret with abundant life.

my horoscope

Aries March 21 - April 19
When times are tough and the world around you seems grim, don't be afraid to turn to religion for a good, hearty laugh.

Also, I'd forgotten how much I like this site. I wasted hours on it, at Houghton, when I should have been working.

Mmm, good slacking memories.

Update: more slacking...
Dallas-based Pizza Patron decided that it would accept pesos at its restaurants. Naturally, real Americans see this as the leading edge of the Reconquista, just like all the stores in Buffalo that accept Canadian dollars and all the stores in Canada that accept American ones. It’s all part of a plot to return Saskatchewan to Spanish rule. You laugh, but after Spain rejoins the Caliphate you’ll all be reciting from El Quran before every round of juego de pelota.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

screw Descartes

I still have a sense of choking on all the things I want to say, both when friends ask how I'm doing and when I sit down to write emails or blog. This has been such a full intensive, so full of good things. I hadn't realized how hungry I was to have physicality back in my corporate worship, but the class on ritual that I'm taking has really fed that need as we've practiced the ordinances. Water, bread, juice, oil... I like Quakers, for the most part, but I can't know my faith by closing my eyes and looking inward all the time. I need to taste the juice, see the baptismal water reflecting the sunlight, smell the frankincense and myrrh and olives on my forehead.

My body and my spirit don't have separate faiths, and to feed my spirit on the mysterious things of God and my body only on practical potluck foods doesn't make sense to me. I need to know my faith in my body, as much as in my spirit.

I'm really looking foward to Love Feast on Friday. I have more I could say, but people are talking loudly in the computer lab and I can't think. Who are these jerks, anyway? I would never even consider talking in here when someone's trying to work.

Monday, January 08, 2007

stars and asterisks

I dislike keeping happy secrets.

This makes life hard for me, at the beginning of Janurary, because I never have my Christmas presents passed out on time. I excuse them first as Epiphany presents, then as part of an MLK celebration, then as Valentine's gifts, and the remainder are lost somewhere in my apartment to inspire guilt at a later date. The tension builds in me- almost done! I can almost share them!- and if I were at all a reponsible person it would motivate me to finish more quickly.*

I delivered a bunch last night, though, after the early evening meeting for worship. It was fun, at Houghton, to write CPO numbers on random objects and know they'd be delivered, but I like slipping gifts into mailboxes myself even better. Epiphany stars- some little, some big, some neat, some funky, all different colors and none really appropriate as Christmas ornaments.

That's okay, though. The star doesn't go over the stable, anyway, except in the Victorianesque Christmas cards. Stars are about journeys to find the Christ, not the Christmas celebration itself. Journeys through deserts and oases, fording rivers and climbing mountains, searching for the pearl of great price.**

ESRwise, I made them for friends and for attenders at early evening worship, which was a bigger list than I anticipated.*** It was a great way to spend break, though, holding each friend in prayer while making a star for them. I had a sense of joy in yesterday's meeting at seeing people back in Richmond that I think was connected to having spent that time in prayer; I don't always feel at home, here, but I felt at home yesterday with my friends.

The stars aren't all done, of course, but they'll get done.**** And I'm excited about them, even the ones I haven't finished yet.

*Or perhaps begin in November, instead of a week before Christmas.
**Or pearls of great price, for someone of my less orthodox friends.
***I could have counted, rather than anticipating, but then I wouldn't be me.
****Jess, yours and Laura's will be in the mail... eventually. Perhaps by, um, your birthday.

class break

Diamond Joe's in my head, this morning:
And I'm gonna walk in the city square
With all this bear grease in my hair

This is great, in that it's an upbeat song that keeps me awake.

The downside, though, is that I'm singing it to myself in class, and bouncing up and down and grinning. It's a small enough class that the professor can give students opportunity to speak when they look confused or like they've had an insight, which I generally appreciate since I don't always speak up when I have an idea or question. Today, though, Diamond Joe has resulted in me being asked to share my insights with the class on multiple occasions when I have had no such insights.

I've passed a few times, and made up some stuff about 'nonverbally invoking the unseen source of power within a context currently being made sacred' on the fly, but I think I need to find a quieter song to sing for the second half of class.

Update! Status report: Mission Find A More Appropriate Song, dismal failure. Continued singing Diamond Joe throughout class discussion of the theological signifigance of marriage. Briefly considered doing a classroom special music- Diamond Joe don't you know, she should have left me long ago...- but fortunately realized in time that this is only funny as a hypothetical.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

bread of heaven, broken for you

My hands are still shaking. Not much, I guess, just enough that I can see it, and enough to be having trouble typing. But shaking, nonetheless.

About an hour ago, I finished helping to lead my first communion service. Steve had done this before; my only experience was in a deaconish role in a congregation in Indianapolis, once, several years ago.

I was reminded of Luther, this morning, his fear that he would somehow mess the service up. I'm no transubstationist- I tend to think of the real presence of Christ as something within the gathered community, rather than within the bread and cup. I worried, though, worried that I mess up the prayers, mess up the songs, mess up the order, drop the bread and spill the juice.

Well, I did mess up. Not badly, but there were errors. Jesus showed up anyway.

I have lots to say, and no idea how to say it.

Hopefully my hands stop shaking before I get to work tonight.

Monday, January 01, 2007

real men

“Moktada,” Mr. Hussein replied, smiling contemptuously. “Is this how real men behave?”

Link. That quote jumped out at me, due to recent ruminations on gender... I would dearly like to know how real men behave, and I'm not sure that rereading Robert Bly would settle the matter.

I don't have time to reread it, anyway; class starts tomorrow, and I (of course) have not yet even bought the books.

Update: "It's outrageous- an execution during Eid. Muslims all over the world (with the exception of Iran) are outraged. Eid is a time of peace, of putting aside quarrels and anger- at least for the duration of Eid." -River

happy new year

And I said to the man
who stood at the gate of the year,
'Give me a light that I may
tread safely into the unknown.'

And he replied,
'Go out into the darkness,
and put your hand into
the hand of God.
That shall be to you better
than light,
and safer than
the known way.'


I rung in the new year in a Pentecostal church with Aaron and Eileen. A favorite New Year's, thus far, although the one in Rochester at Scott and Katie's apartment is still high on the list.