Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Notes on the scandal of my thesis

So I thought I was ahead of the game having written a paper a couple of years ago that I thought would be the first two-thirds of my MA thesis (which is not a dissertation and only has to be about 30 pages long). I'm writing about Dietrich Bonhoeffer and James Cone - how they understood conversion, Jesus Christ, discipleship in their historical moments. Then I'm taking the last third of the paper to do the same in our era using Elizabeth Johnson as one of my dialog partners in that section.

Turns out I need it done by April 1 to graduate with the May class. I so want to do that. I've asked for a leave of absence from my UPI Column and I'm not posting to forums or email lists during this month. I will update my blog and my photo blog because those are pleasurable breaks from writing.

Just thought you should know what's up. Yes, I'm feeling a bit intimidated suddenly. It took me far too long to write the six page paper due tonight which shook my confidence. And I still have papers to write for Doctrine 1 while I'm working on this thesis (not to mention managing my business which is really demanding right now).

Any advice for an intense writing season you can offer?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Belief, dedication and the Oscars

This UPI column is certainly not my best one of the year, but it's what I had time to write.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Pausing for this important sports announcement

The UCLA Bruins finished the season undefeated at home—first time in 32 years—beating Stanford 75-61. They have now won 20 straight in Pauley Pavillion. Shout out to my boys!

More here.

Photo courtesy of Richard Hartog / LATimes

Saturday, February 24, 2007

In a blue mood

It's taken me all day to figure out why. I thought PMS, grey weather, a month of black and white photos... But it finally settled in as I allowed my mind to filter the experiences of the last week.

And this is what it is:

Our 17 year old daughter is really going to graduate and leave us. Jacob (15) will attend FT high school starting next year. Noah already lives away at college and his calls home have dropped dramatically this quarter.

Yesterday I met with Johannah's counselor and the assistant principal. After all her home education, she is opting to graduate with her class at the public high school instead of walking with her homeschooled peers. She had never even considered a high school diploma or the big impersonal graduation until this year. It happened like this.

In the fall, I met with the homeschool graduation team. When the coordinator mentioned that a female leader would offer the blessing on behalf of the 2007 graduates, one of the mothers spoke up explaining that her husband would "have a hard time with that." When pressed, she shared that he didn't believe that women should pray or lead blessings from the front of the church (forget that this isn't a church service we're talking about, but a graduation). The mothers all immediately regrouped on his invisible behalf offering their own husbands as potential blessing-offerers so that this (not present at the meeting) man would be appeased and satisfied. I didn't speak up as I already know my theological bent is on shaky ground at best in this circle.

Not one mother spoke up on behalf of a woman offering a blessing at the graduation. And let's remember that the women do the lion's share of the home education, not the husbands.

When Johannah heard about the disturbing direction the graduation had taken, she became less interested in walking with homeschoolers. I understood. I didn't like it one bit, either. On the other hand, I realized today that I have always imagined that intimate homeschool graduation where we see photos of our seniors up on the big screen, where the parents get to say a few words about the achievement of graduating, where tears and hugs abound, where each of the students present are kids I've known for years, have taught or loved or had in my home... the personal side of home education and graduation. Noah didn't opt for this type of graduation either.

So not only will Johannah graduate with the high school (all 700 of the students), but now all the records I've created and kept, all the grades, etc. will be translated into Lakota West credits and then rendered valid by the state so that she will receive a diploma. She also has to pass the Ohio Graduation Tests (five of them) in March. It feels like home education is being erased or absorbed or reinterpreted. I didn't expect to have this reaction.

Then last night, we attended opening night for the spring play Disney's Beauty and the Beast, which was performed almost to a professional level. Stunning sets, a Beast who was lifted into the air on wires during his transformation, state of the art costumes, vocals and dancing that rival local companies... It was an amazing show! And I sat there on the verge of tears for most of it. I kept remembering my senior year plays, having been a theater hound all through high school, and how that all ended when I graduated. I remembered on her behalf the headiness of a truly outstanding program, the close friendships, the exhillaration of being a senior... and felt sad remembering that that season had not only ended in my life, but now was ending in my daughter's life too. Twice proud and twice sad.

I realized I was mourning what is coming to an end - this wonderful chapter of my life where I see the flowering of our kids as they still live with us. When I met with the assistant principal, he told me that Johannah is an outstanding person, someone they admire and consider a quality human being on every level, and that they want to do whatever is possible to make sure that she feels fully a part of the school without violating her sense of self that led her to be homeschooled etc.. Truly humbling to take in. I appreciated his sensitivity. He seemed to see what I could not at the time... that I might feel some kind of loss letting her graduate with the high school.

Then today I called Noah (who will come out tonight to sleep over) and he told me that he is spending the evening at his girlfriend's parents. Of course. Isn't that how it goes? He hardly calls now, which means growing up, girlfriend, ownership over his life... and a strange loss for me.

I have loved being a fulltime mother of five. The experience has been far beyond anything I ever imagined or hoped. Every walk in the hills, trip to the art museum, face paintings, reading aloud to all the kids sitting around me listening raptly, Legos strewn everywhere, a busy dinner table where everyone competes to tell jokes and stories, five kids raking leaves and jumping in them, soccer balls kicked, fireflies caught in jars, Shakespeare plays and camps, dancing and knitting and painting, and finally, my favorite memory, tucking them all into their beds, knowing that all of our children were asleep under one roof, safe and at peace in cozy blankets, sure to wake up the next morning starving and ready to begin a new day at home with me.

That family has changed and grown up; that life is gone. I finally know it. I will still have two at home, but it will even be different only having the two of them. I can feel the impact it will have on them to not have their very-much loved siblings around all the time. I guess I'm feeling sad about it today.

Friday, February 23, 2007

A bit about me (Part Two)

Theological Breakdown

I described my spiritual history in the previous entry. I left out the agon (Greek for agony, as I learned Wed. night in Doctrine 1). I have a peculiarly consistent theological complaint. It started in first grade and has continued right into adulthood. There is no single answer to this question. I know because I've lived every answer I've run across in an attempt to resolve it. Part Two looks at where it all began.

Let's start with the big, driving question of my life:

Who goes to heaven?

Right off the bat you know this is not an innate curiosity. It's a question on top of another question. (I'll leave the real question out of it for now since it's taken me my whole life to discover what the root is.)

Asking who goes to heaven is, in fact, an utterly unnatural inquiry for a child. Children are blissfully ignorant of the metaphysical realm. They're too preoccupied with how furry a caterpillar is and "Did you notice that hawk that just swooped over our backyard?" They play in the mud, swing upside down on monkey bars and want seconds of ice cream. Heaven, death, the future, faraway places - not real to the average pagan-child.

I was not like other children. Right from the get-go, I wondered about unseen things: like, How far was it to Japan and when could I go there? and How did Santa's elves hide in my backyard every day to keep track of me?

I believed in things I couldn't see because they stimulated my imagination to create new things to see. I had a knack for making the unseen real in my experience. So it's not surprising really that my earliest theological wrestling centered on this invisible place called heaven. I can think all the way back to 1st grade CCD where heaven and hell were already not new to me, but were Very Important.

I had a teacher who described heaven to us as a beautiful "place" above the clouds where all the people we loved would be after we died (which was hard to understand since I didn't have anyone I loved already dead and I didn't like thinking of the ones I did love as dead some day). She told us that our bodies didn't go to heaven but that our souls did.

I raised my hand: "What's a soul? What does it look like?"

"It's invisible, sweetheart."

The idea of an invisible soul immediately troubled me. I wanted to picture it. So instead, I asked her what a soul could do. Could an invisible soul take my favorite pillow and new go-go boots to heaven? She remarked that our souls were like our hearts and that when we died they'd go to heaven and we'd leave our bodies behind. Then she handed out crayons and white paper and we were asked to draw a picture of our invisible souls in heaven where we'd never been.

Now this project totally stumped me for about fifteen long minutes. I still remember sitting there, other kids happily scribbling, thinking about how to draw something invisible above the clouds. But being a good student, I made an attempt. I drew clouds at the bottom of the page. Above the clouds, I drew a human heart. Not a Valentine's heart, but the organ. It was a crude drawing. I was young and had only seen the heart organ in an encyclopedia. But mine had valves. That's what I remember.

Then I looked around the room. Other kids had drawn Valentine hearts. Some drew themselves. All had clouds.

I've never quite gotten over the soul-as-internal-organ image.

Rigorous CCD training taught me that only pure souls went to heaven - well-confessed souls, rightly Catholic souls. I realize now this was preparation for that most egregious of childhood Catholic experiences: First Confession. Confession meant we should examine our consciences (I had no clue what that word meant) in order to prepare ourselves to receive the body of Christ in a wafer.

Now imagine me, the soul-as-organ child, who wonders where the heck heaven is and why I want to go there without my go-go boots, trying to picture Jesus squished into a tasteless wafer. Yeah, I struggled with that one. Still, I love a good academic challenge as much as the next straight A student and decided to tackle the confession project and do it right!

For the whole week before first confession, I watched myself hoping I'd do something bad to confess. I wanted a good sin—a real one. And you may not believe this, but it's true. I didn't do a single thing wrong all week. I couldn't help it. I was a good kid. By the Saturday morning when my dad had to take me to confession (instead of playing basketball with friends), I was both excited to go inside the dark box (where I'd never been allowed to investigate) and nervous that I hadn't done anything wrong all week and therefore wouldn't be able to confess so I could eat the Jesus wafer.

While driving, I bubbled with enthusiasm. I wanted to be admitted to the adult club of confessional secrecy. My dad, however, was in a funk. He thought I was perfect, and hated the idea that I had to make up a sin to confess. Suddenly a brilliant solution occurred to me.

"Dad, I know what I can confess!" I erupted triumphantly. "Last night when Mom cleared the table and did the dishes, I didn't help her. That counts as a sin, right?"

My dad visibly winced and groaned. I still remember. But I didn't care. I had discovered the power of the sin of ommission. When in a pinch, figure out what you might have done differently. You can find a way to feel awful about yourself if you must. And there were sure to be future occasions where feeling bad about myself would come in handy. (The humorous part of this whole experience is that my mother hated having any help with the dishes and, seriously, never let us help her my entire childhood.)

Still, the sin of ommission saved me.

Into the gorgeous church we walked. Lots of nervous first graders were ahead of me. Clear blue, yellow, green and red light flooded the sanctuary through the stained glass. I loved our church. The pews were warm wood.

I pulled back the dark curtain of the confessional. I couldn't kneel. Couldn't see over the ledge to the window poised to receive my deepest regrets. A disembodied voice asked for my confession. I eagerly offered it to him, enthusiastic, happy, thrilled to have a sin to confess.

And do you know what I remember? He stifled a chuckle. He did! He regrouped and asked me to help my mother with the dishes that week, and then gave me my penance (a couple "Hail Marys" and "Our Fathers" which I happily rattled off with rosary in hand, in the pew by myself, head down feigning regret, but secretly thrilled with my success).

I marched triumphantly toward my dad at the back of the church. He smiled at me and grabbed my hand, swinging it as we walked. In the bright sunshine, I felt complete. In spite of my happiness, my dad grumbled about the absurdity of a child confessing sins, perhaps to show me that he thought I was just fine without Catholic guilt. But that moment is frozen in my memory too, because it was the first time I noticed that my dad didn't approve of the Catholic church.

And so it began. Two critical ideas competed with each other. What does it mean to be a good Catholic so our invisible heart organs can go live above the clouds after we die and why did my dad dislike what Catholics teach?

Part Three will take these thoughts further.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Edwards two bloggers quit after much ado about something

I've been following the story of Amanda Marcotte's firing, rehiring and subsequent resignation (and her soul sistah- Melissa McEwan) on both sides of the political aisle over the last few days. Liberals are crying foul - that the "christofascist machine" is martyring those liberals who have the courage of their convictions and potty-mouths to broadcast their views into the blogosphere and the right-wing is shouting that the "true" religious (aka, those who hold doctrines as sacred, not as points of offensive ridicule) believe that finally the left is showing who it really is and why it must be "silenced." (CultureKitchen discusses from a leftwing viewpoint what "silenced" means to her.)

My interest in this topic goes in these directions:
  1. I find it fascinating that the conservative religious voice trumps the liberal voice in politics. Why should that be? Why can't a non-religious, atheist, religion-critiquing person have a chance at winning an election? Why is it that having a potty-mouth and hurling insults is considered an unforgiveable sin when conducted by left-wing religious critics but is perfectly acceptable when Rush, for instance, calls feminists, "FemiNazis," or environmentalists, "Wackos," or when Michael Savage charges liberals with being immoral, godless, idiots?

  2. I wonder if there is a correlation between women having unpopular, vulgar opinions and the need to expose and "silence" them as opposed to the run-of-the-mill male political blogger.

  3. I wonder about the future of politics related to blogging.

  4. I wonder about how important every freakin' word typed on a keypad or uttered into a microphone is and whether we should be held to infallible standards of communication so as to never offend anyone who has power or influence. Several bloggers I read are considering quitting the whole blog-thingy. They are weary from the risk to their careers, relationships. They have anxiety about being who they really are. How well can I relate to that feeling? Yet is this how we must now live when our words are taken as irretrievable evidence of immovable beliefs or positions that must be defended unto death, pay raises or election-time? Can no one change her mind, soften the tone or even stand for old posts perhaps having matured or tailoring her new posts for a new audience?

  5. Is blogging too dependent on shock value to retain readership? Not that I think anything can be done about it, but I'm wondering how blog-style writing impacts things like political cutlure.
Having been a conservative and having elbowed with liberals for these last four years, I've grown in sympathy to the left's cry that the rightwing media machine is more effective at crying foul and making it stick than the left is or has been. And I do think that's a problem. What do you make of all this?

I've responded to comments with a few more of my opinions, such as they are, and it probably makes for awkward dialog, but I'm interested in your thoughts.

A little bit about me

Steve keeps asking me for a detailed description of my journey because he "knew me when" - when I shared my faith with hair stylists (captive audience) and bank tellers. He knew me when I prayed for people to be healed of diseases and led Bible studies designed to incite young single adults to the mission field. (Did I just write "incite" rather than "invite"? Hmmm. Freudian slip... pretty sure my methods were more like "inciting" than "inviting.")

I don't have a lot of time to go back over ground that many who read here have heard in various forms over the years. But, I did have to write a short bio for my current class so I'm posting that here. I'll add to it tomorrow with an update of how things sort of broke down and through at the end of all that. So, for you Steve, here's Part One of how "Julie got her groove back."


I grew up in southern California as a Vatican II baby. My church belted out Beatles songs in the guitar mass, and the kiss of peace lasted about 30 minutes while the congregation cavorted around the church hugging and, well, yes, kissing each other. While attending ::yawn:: CCD confirmation classes, my good friend, the Presbyterian, subversively invited me to her youth group. Unlike my Catholic friends, the Presbyterian kids liked being at church. They taught me at the tender age of 12 that to be ‘born again’ meant that I had to pray a sinner's prayer, that being Catholic was not good enough for God and that the Bible was the primary guide of my spiritual life (not the Pope). I prayed that prayer… and also got confirmed as a Catholic, just in case, under the name Julie Ann Marie Sweeney (careful not to choose a silly sixties name such as “Cloud” or “Rainbow” as we had been instructed not to do).

During high school, my father gave up the faith and belief in God as a two-fer, then with newfound freedom, embarked on an extra-marital affair, to which my mother responded with divorce papers. Like good southern Californians, we all joined a cult called est (Erhard Seminars Training) to recover. By college, my spiritual beliefs were about as organized as our kitchen junk drawer. Worse, I was alone. I attempted to return to the Catholic Church (probably out of habit) but on my way, was scooped up by Campus Crusade for Christ zealots, one of which was a very cute surfer. Within two months, I prayed the prayer yet again (some CCC'ers weren't sure it "took" that first time in junior high), dated the surfer and began my training in point-and-shoot evangelism.

I became expert in sharing the Four Spiritual Laws and arguing apologetics. I gave about 20 hours a week to Campus Crusade including discipleship and training sessions. I used to say that I had majored in Campus Crusade and earned a minor in history at UCLA. I spent my junior year abroad in France and discovered that one billion people (called Muslims) were going to hell and other preppie young adults had given up cushie American lives to dedicate themselves to winning a few of them.

On returning to the states, I applied to a mission agency targeting Muslims. Jon was the team recruiter and he recruited me permanently. We like to say we were a "match made in missions." After a ten week engagement and only nine months of support raising, we headed to Morocco to be missionaries to Muslims. (Do not try this at home or permit your children to do likewise. Within two years, we returned stateside for detox and marriage counseling before returning to the field.)

We spent four (non-sequential) years on the field hiding our true identities to win Muslims to Christ and four years in the states working for our mission agency. Over those years, I dug into Christian theology (mostly evangelical popular non-fiction that attempted to pass for scholarship). I became deeply disillusioned with the idea that everyone who had not heard the name of Jesus would spend eternity in conscious unending torment... unlike most of those writers who seemed fine with the idea.

We returned to the states for a final time in 1991 and joined the Vineyard (charismatic church that promised the Holy Spirit would work out all that confusing stuff and heal us of diseases too!). Jon and I spent seven years in California at the flagship church, I ghostwrote for the founder of the movement (John Wimber), and Jon became senior editor of Wimber's denominational magazine VOV. When Wimber died and the magazine folded, we moved to Cincinnati to work at the Vineyard here under Steve Sjogren.

That was almost eight years ago. My spiritual life hit the skids about the time the Internet came to life. I discovered to my ever-increasing confusion that Christians of all kinds had a hard time agreeing on anything doctrinal, let alone practice and that sent me directly to Hans Kung. Why, I’m not sure, except that his book On Being a Christian is really fat and used to be on my dad's bookshelves when I was a kid. It looked long enough to exhaust all theological possibilities and to draw some Important Conclusions. It was exhausting. I read it three times. And still lost my faith.

In a scramble to salvage it, I took to reading theology constantly. I hoped that there might be some way to hang onto Christianity. After all, I did like being a Christian. And I still thought the basic ideas were terrific. The Internet became the chief vehicle for learning about the faith (discussion groups particularly) until I entered Xavier’s MA program in 2003.

I will stop here for now. Tomorrow's installment will probe some of the journey theologically.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Make faith more complicated

Here's this week's UPI Column. I may have to take a few weeks off of this column so I can focus on my thesis. This may be the last one for a little bit.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Restorative time away

Breakfast My date
Jon and I spent the night in downtown Cincinnati.

We ate dinner at this amazing restaurant:
They served us a five course meal that was made up of aphrodisiac ingredients. Jon ordered the version that included a different wine with each course and a private sommelier. Too fun.

We also watched Vanderbilt beat Florida on TV... Woo-hoo! I'm sick of those Gators.

This morning we got to dine in at the hotel followed by a movie viewing: "Breach." Fairly linear retelling of the Robert Hanssen espionage case. Good acting, overall quality film, though not surprising enough.

Felt so good to get away and sleep... away from the computer and all home duties. Hope you had a good weekend too.

Friday, February 16, 2007

In the category of: I wish I had written it

Carrie has a great post called Theological Twister on her new blog that I'll bet many of you can relate to. I love how she wrote it and understand so much of what she is trying to express. Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Squeezing salvation in...

It's occurred to me that the word "salvation" seems to suffer from the assumption that everyone knows what it means, yet do we all mean the same thing?

I went through a free association with the word salvation this morning and wound up with the word "salvage." Here's the funny thing. In the online dictionary of etymologies, the two words sit next to each other:

salvage (n.) Look up salvage at
1645, "payment for saving a ship from wreck or capture," from Fr. salvage, from O.Fr. salver "to save" (see save). The general sense of "the saving of property from danger" is attested from 1878. Meaning "recycling of waste material" is from 1918, from the British effort in World War I. The verb is 1889, from the noun.

salvation Look up salvation at
c.1225, originally in the Christian sense, from O.Fr. salvaciun, from L.L. salvationem (nom. salvatio, a Church L. translation of Gk. soteria), noun of action from salvare "to save" (see save). In general (non-religious) sense, attested from c.1374. Meaning "source of salvation" is from c.1374. Salvation Army is from 1878, founded by the Rev. William Booth. The verb salve "to save from loss at sea" (1706) is a back-formation. (etymonline)

So then I started thinking about the idea that perhaps salvation and salvage might be related. What if we thought about salvation meaning to "save property from danger" or "recycling of waste material"? It's interesting that both have ship references attached to them.

I like the idea of salvation being about salvaging. Salvation is too often attended with triumphalist assertions - like Ted Haggard's recent claim that he is now healed of his bout with homosexuality (in only three weeks of counseling.... Glory be!).

What if we talked about salvaging our lives after our mistakes... like my daughter's car. We bought a salvaged title. We got the car painted, we changed the battery, we put in that air freshener strip to get out the smoke smell... and she drives it. It runs. We love that little corolla. It is reliable and just what we expect of it. Nothing more, nothing less.

What role would faith have in a salvage operation? What do salvaged lives look like compared with saved lives? I wonder. Just a few of my Wednesday musings. Class was cancelled for tonight.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Slow down

Slow down, originally uploaded by juliecinci.

Like we'd risk going any faster...

We're in the middle of a scary ice storm. One nine year old girl in the neighboring suburb was killed while walking her dog when a huge ice-laden pine tree branch fell on her... right in her own front yard. 122,000 people are without power due to the lines freezing and being pulled down by falling branches. Several major car accidents left motorists with totaled cars tucked under semis. Amazingly no one was hurt.

Our suburb is fine, but tomorrow is the second day off from school due to ice and snow.

I drove Jacob to his sax lesson today and all I could think of was getting home and staying put.

Hope the weather is less intimidating where you are.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Knocked up and some place to go

Today's UPI column goes with my 365 photo of the day yesterday.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about complexity and messiness. To me, this is another aspect of postmodernism - the embrace of disaster, of mess, of complexity; the awareness that simple objectives don't always result in simple fulfillments. Somehow "disaster" (aka, not according to plan) is not helped by judgment, fear, disdain or isolation from its effects. Love, community, help, triumph, rebuilding are only possible when we set aside our ideals long enough to care about persons. I saw that yesterday and was moved by it.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Grammys 2007

The Police delivered, though I would have preferred "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" over "Roxanne." Still, great to see their energy and enthusiasm.

Carrie Underwood is mind-bendingly good for someone who just popped on the scene post American-Idol. What presence!

I've loved Mary J. Blige for awhile so I'm gratified to see her win big.

We *loved* the girl paired with Justin Timberlake for the duet. Could you believe she got up there and performed like such a pro after just hearing her name announced moments before? Great voice, cute personality, total confidence. Gotta love all this reality TV infiltration into every aspect of television now.

Sorry that Corrine Bailey Rae and James Blunt will go home without Grammys.

Dixie Chicks are getting a lot of Grammy gold off of retaliating at the public for shunning them for their anti-American speech in Britain. (Footnote of interest: Cincinnati radio stations refused to play their music after that and I've never heard "Not Ready to Make Nice" on the radio... ever.)

Red Hot Chili Peppers are too fun.

So we wait now for Album of the Year.... and no surprise. Dixie Chicks. What do you think?

Carson Palmer: MVP Pro Bowl

ESPN article here.

I thought I was finished with NFL reports, but gotta give our local star props for getting the MVP in his first Pro Bowl appearance. Jon and I were out to dinner during the game but caught enough of the show on the bar plasma screens to see Palmer throw a TD pass to Chad Johnson. Ahhh. Here's hoping the Bengals clean up their act for the 2007 season and let Carson do what his body is made to do: win football games.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The funny thing about a Master's in theology...

Margaret and I went to a "Graduate Theology Dinner" last night at Xavier. I've been to one every year (this was number four). They provide wonderful wine and hors d'ouevres (btw, all you Protestants out there, get thee to a Catholic school! They know how to pick good wine). We mingle and watch each other hang up coats, gloves and scarves (and some have to put away big fur hats, ala George Costanza, too, depending on how cold it is).

The mingling includes the ever popular: "How many courses do you have left?" and "What will you do when you finish your degree?"

And by year four in the slow boat to China version of the program that Margaret and I have been on, we know the answer. Nothing. Or pizza delivery. Or coffee making. Or alphabetizing theology books in the basement bookcase...

For all you closet fundamentalists reading this blog, your deepest fears are warranted. The study of theology leads to (gasp, wince) apostasy. Insert Beethoven's 5th here.

Fortunately it also leads to silliness, sanity, and the ability to not take life so seriously... and that's good news.

Last night at this ::ahem:: academic dinner, the primary speaker (a mid-thirties Ph.D. who wears clear braces and sported a multi-colored tie) gave a talk that used CSI as the template for his material. He finished and was followed by a slide show that depicted for us The Gospel of Tom (no, not Thomas, as in the Coptic Gospel) - as in Tom "the Christ" Cruise. Oh my word! Too funny. (Did you know that the Church of Scientology claims that Tom, is, in fact, the Messiah and future generations will know it and revere him?)

Top Gun and Top God!

In years past, one of the more mature members of the teaching staff would present "a paper." (Translation: read a paper). Good content, of course. The obligatory one or two crowd warmer jokes. This year, though, the serious was overcome by the cheerful, hopeful, gently humorous and ridiculous. And my oh my how I appreciated it.

Somehow in the midst of having taken life so seriously, having had the need to nail down the mysteries enough to claim for myself a list of beliefs I could stand for and defend, champion and embrace, I've dribbled out the other end with a sense of humor and little clarity. I have loads of appreciation for myriad views. I have great respect for any Ph.D. who devotes so much grey matter to the mastery of any single topic in the universe (I almost feel like we need to give them all personal entourages to protect those meaty brains from any wayward bullets that might kill the human libraries that they are - at the least, they all need blood pressure medicine on the university dime, I'd say.)

The truth is, I have come to agree with my revered Dr. Dewey. All of this stuff is just too important to take so seriously. It's a relief, I tell you, to be almost at the end and to laugh about it. There's something zen like in this reaction, I think. How appropriate.

Friday, February 09, 2007

End Notes for a Friday

Grammys will feature The Police with rumors of a reunion tour to be announced Monday a.m.

Jon is going to see the new Hannibal Lecter movie right now. I'll let you know what he thinks. Me, I'm sitting safely at home. (Rotten Tomatoes: 19% rating)

Jacob got his cast off. (Broke his wrist skiing three weeks ago.)
Jacob loses the cast

Johannah is in the local newspaper as one of the co-creators of Darfur Awareness Week at her high school. They had scheduled Nick Clooney to speak and then got snowed out. Hoping to reschedule in May. I'm so proud of her.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Not ignoring this blog

but I'm just crazy busy this week. My new doctrine I class is going to be pretty tough. The professor considers a 94 an A-. Huh? She's one tough cookie. And the material - oy vey! I find the whole Hellenistic influence on Christianity to be irksome at best. I'm trying to keep an open mind, but honestly, it feels like the second century gutted the radical nature of Jesus's legacy. And we've been suffering since. The reading feels like Cliff's Notes in the origins of the destructive memes that have taken hold of the church for the last 1800 years. I'm sure there must be some silver lining, but I've got "senioritis" and can hardly bear the reading let alone care about finding the good stuff when the surface yields such annoying stuff.

I hope to write a bit about another tangent later tonight. So backatcha then.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Five and a half inches of snow

Basketball hoop in color

And probably more in other parts of our yard. What a day! What's the weather like where you are?

Here's what the heaped up snow started to look like late this afternoon:

My cardinal in the snow
It started out this cold today.
I heard on the radio that the temp is up to 5 now.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Colts 16, Bears 14 (Halftime)

This is Julie's half time report.

Rex looks awful.
Peyton looks good enough.
Vinatieri misses!

Four fumbles in the first quarter? Will this go down as the Three Stooges bowl?

Entertaining tight game though.

Prince - I missed all of the late eighties so I feel like a dork and don't know the songs. Good show, but no Bono. :)

See you at the end. We're about to dig into pie ala mode.

Hey Kim... Bilbo, and Dave: Colts won!!! (Colts 29, Bears 17)

Just thought I'd mention it.

For Kim:

Saturday, February 03, 2007

No Super Bowl pick from me

I like to root for the team I want, not worry about picking them. So.... I'm rooting for the Colts all the way. I like this article by John Clayton for what he thinks the Colts have to do to win.

If you want to make a pick, I'd love to read it. And what are you doing for the Super Bowl? Will you go to a party, make a new dip, stay home? We're staying home and eating snack foods. Not too exciting, but hope the game will be.

Cease and Desist (via K-Bob - thanks!)

Kansas Bob cites an injunction against an Indianapolis church wanting to throw a Super Bowl party complete with evangelistic message. So what do you think about that? Interesting...

Friday, February 02, 2007

Adventures in applications

Sorry for the lack of new material to talk about and digest. I hit a near apoplectic fit this morning as I organized Johannah's OSU Honor's and Scholar's application materials. Suddenly a date she and I had missed loomed larger than a sniper's rifle: February 1, midnight.

How the heck had I missed that?

She had to leave for school and I immediately popped open the window of my browser to see if we could sneak in under the wire. The wording of the letter with all the information left me under the impression that the deadline was for priority consideration, not a drop-dead date.

Fortunately for her, her essay that she'd written for Notre Dame perfectly suited the length and content of the question for this Honor's Program essay question. I typed it in and clicked on submit.

Loading, loading, loading.... not going through. My heart started to race.

I stopped the page from loading, and clicked submit again: Bingo. Right through. However, the confirmation message was less than convincing. It told me that the submission had been successful, but that the deadline was past and that it might not get the attention it deserved.


So I went into "hyper ventillation, kick the dog and hurl sharp objects" mode. Then I called the school. The front desk gal happily informed me that we were screwed, like this: "Sorry Ma'am. You missed it. No, there's no alternative. Nothing you can do. We have no power to help you and your application will not be looked at."

At this, the thunk of my head on my countertop was felt in the next county.

Pulling myself together, I then clicked around the website and called same girl, same attitude again. Tried to disguise my voice. To no avail. Our ensuing conversation went something like this:

Front desk, no power gal: I told you. There's nothing you can do. They told us that midnight was the deadline and the website would be taken down.

Desperate and embarassing mother: The website was not down and it said the application went through. That's what I'm trying to understand.

Front desk, no power gal: The app couldn't have gone through. But if it did, perhaps they are going to look at it.

Desperate and embarassing mother: So perhaps it went through? Who could I talk to, to find out?

Front desk, no power gal: No one because it didn't go through. They told us that none would go through after midnight.

Desperate and embarassing mother: Thinks to self: WTF?

I won't bore you with the circular nature of that conversation. She was "nice" but totally unhelpful. I left a message for the head of the humanites portion of the program (to which J was applying) instead, hoping to contact someone higher up the food chain.

I then whined to called Jon in angst. He told me to take it straight to the top: to email the director of the whole Honor's and Scholar's program and to offer to drive Johannah up to the school today, if need be, to fix it.

I did email. And literally five minutes later, the phone rang. OSU's Honor's and Scholars program director was on the phone with me, reassuring me and trying to sort out what happened. She actually promised to call me back after she personally dug through the data base to see if Johannah's app had made it through.

I sent her the submission accepted webpage message via email and she wrote right back saying "Count your blessings. Looks like her app will have gotten through."

Then just a few hours later, the humanities director called and told me that she had listened to my message, had personally checked the database, found the app and had printed it out. Looked good.

Wow! These OSU staff are amazing. Can you imagine how many panicked mothers they will deal with today? Yet they replied to messages and emails almost immediately, offered sympathy and reassurances and solved my problem (they didn't just pass it off to someone else). Oh, except "no power girl."

So that's why there is no new interesting blog today. My heart rate is still coming down. I shortened my lifespan by about six months in ten minutes.

In other news: what I wanted to do was to introduce Carrie's new blog! She's one of the most frequent commenters to my blog so I hope you'll all hop over to hers and give her a big welcome to the blogosphere. :)