Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It has been raining all day here in Evanston. As I mentioned to Trevor yesterday, my moods tend to run in sync with the weather report. So, it has been a bit of a long day, and the edge-iness of being in seminary is wearing on me and my classmates. Thankfully, David has replied in words that I was too tired to think of. Maybe that is what community is for - when you are too tired, annoyed, or confused to find hope in brokeness, someone else is there to remind you how. Thanks David.
On another (hopefully more cheery note), I was thinking in class today about how I got hooked into this blogging thing. At my old job, I was on the "tech innovations" committee, and part of my being in that group meant investigating blogs. I had a few that I read regularly for a while, although I don't seem to remember any of them anymore. So I came to Seabury a bit primed for this whole blogging thing. And then, to find that my new neighbor (Jeff) and some of his friends (Tripp) did this... how could I not get involved? And now, I have been hooked. I wonder how everyone else around here got hooked. Was it an immediate conversion experience? Or were y'all slowly converted as you learned and tried it out? Yup, I'm trying to make not-so-subtle connections between the blogging world and evangelism. But hey, that is where my mind wandered this morning in my sullen, rainy mood. I guess rain ain't all bad.

By the way, I've added some links to my sidebar- they are other Seabury juniors in Ethics class with me. Smart ones, all of them, with some very different backgrounds and ideas. Just more fuel for the procrastination fire, in case anyone needs it!

Tuesday, April 29, 2003


Okay, so I was checking out a friend's livejournal, and there is a quiz for what RENT! character you are... Sort of like the Monty Python quiz that Tripp and Juliet had posted the other day.
Here's mine:
Joanne - the lawyer. You care about life, and
freedom. You also care about beautiful women
who steal your heart and your time. Don't let
it get to you.

Which RENT Character Are YOU?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, April 28, 2003

No Guarantees- An Ethics Posting

In a recent Ethics entry, John Hickey puts forth the family as an obvious place where narrative ethic is lived out – traditions are lived out and handed down, family stories are shared. He then concludes that : anyone who has already experienced bright little faces turning into snarling teenagers and then suddenly transformed into those strange creatures known as independent adult children knows that there is no guarantee whatsoever of any shared virtues, practices, or telos.
At the end of chapter 5 of Truth is Stranger, I think this is exactly the point Middleton and Walsh are making. At the end of this chapter on the Biblical metanarrative, they state that the Scriptures contain “the resources to shatter totalizing readings, to convert the reader, to align us with God’s purposes of shalom, compassion and justice.”(p.107) At the same time, they conclude that this conversion is not automatic, and is not guaranteed. It requires response from the reader, and constant engagement. As Christians, any guarantees we have do not lie in other humans. Our hope does not depend on humanity’s ability to get the story right. So no, this ethical framework is not a guarantee that those who follow us will do any better than we did. What it hopefully does is raise our awareness of who we are, who we have been, and who we are called to be – and to keep on trying to be those people. Without guarantees, but always with hope.

As a side note... Luke was watching a Sunday am news show before we went to church this week. I just caught the conclusion, but the host was ending the show by noting how we have lost the language of ethics. Sound familiar, anyone?

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Up In Smoke

Two postings in one day! It must be the end of the week. Tonight I went on an adventure to high-church-land. Heather organized an incense training at St. Luke's for anyone at Seabury. We learned how to do incense both as thurifer and celebrant. While I'm not a big fan of incense, I figured it would be a good plan to learn something about it while I could. So I hopped in the car and went to the workshop, and I actually kind of enjoyed it! Paul, the guy showing us around, was really great and funny, and was very clear about what incense is and isn't for. The only major downside is that my clothes smell really strongly of incense now. But, I didn't set anyone or anything on fire. Not bad for my first time!

Cynicism – A Posting for Ethics I

On Tuesday, Jeff led our Ethics class in a discussion of Church as Parable by Harry Huebener and David Schroeder. (He did a great job by the way - see Jane’s comments on it from Tuesday.) We talked a lot about individualism, and what that means for the Church – I feel like that discussion is never-ending, as witnessed on our little blogging community! Anyway, my concern in the discussion was this. While we were talking about the politicizing of morality (one of the points Huebner makes in chapter 2) we started to get very cynical about the Church. Someone raised a concern that General Convention votes certain ways for political popularity rather than moral conscience or theological reasons – whether it’s the “conservatives” focusing on the sinful nature of humanity or “liberals” trying to do God’s work in our way. (This is Huebner’s breakdown of the liberal/conservative divide… and he clearly doesn’t think highly of either. See pg. 45 if you’re interested.) This judgement may be true, or it may not. I choose to believe that the majority of folks are truly and honestly trying to struggle with the Gospels and the reality of the Risen Christ in a broken world. Regardless, that is not my point. My point is this: our ability to sit in our classroom and judge the intentions of others is rooted in the same individualism that narrative-ethics is arguing against in the first place. The kind of accountability called for in this community means that we do not have the luxury of saying “those folk over there, “us” and “them”. We are all that community. This kind of accountability to the Christian community means that we do not have the luxury of throwing up our hands and walking out, of not showing up, or just not caring once our eyes have been opened to problems in our midst. Cynicism may have its place – it can open our eyes to where our community is not living up to the example set by Jesus. But this narrative ethic does not allow us to check out, ever. This ethic means that we are all in it for the long haul, and that we are in it together for the long haul.

Monday, April 21, 2003


Triduum services are over, and Easter is here! Although you may not know it from the damp, gray weather Spring is here and the Lord is risen indeed. Our Easter Vigil sunrise service went pretty well, even in spite of some last-minute changes due to an impending thunderstorm. After the service and a wonderful brunch, I went back to bed for a long time. In the afternoon, Luke & I went with our friend at family-letter to the Chicago Botanical Gardens, which was wonderful. Ruth Meyers has preached a good sermon on noticing spring coming forth around us, and noticing Resurrection in a world where its easier to see the death and sadness. (Thats a pretty basic summary, but it fits my point here.) To hear that sermon, and then go see the beginnings of spring in action was just a perfect Easter devotion. And now as I sit at my computer, I'm noticing that the tree outside my window has tiny little green leaves out too. One of my favorite Easter hymns is "Now The Green Blade Riseth". Especially if you have lived in rainy, gray, Midwestern springs your whole life, the joy of Easter is simply magnified by the whole earth.

Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain
wheat that in dark earth many days has lain
love lives againg, that with the dead has been
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green

Thursday, April 17, 2003


My first Holy Week at Seabury is under way, and choir rehearsal for Maundy Thursday in in two hours. Already, this Holy Week has seemed odd - the weather was gorgeous and perfect for two days, and I felt like it should be Easter season already. The week started off with my appointment as Worship Chair for next year, which I'm very excited about and a bit in shock about. Then, to be doing seminary classes in the midst of Holy Week preparations seemed disconnected for me. Also, I've only been away from family and my home church a couple of times ever for Easter, and not since I was much younger. So far this year, I've done relatively well with the "thats not how we do worship at my home" syndrome, but Holy Week is really just making me a bit homesick. The best remedy has been singing - having eighty million choir practices and services to sing makes it bit more like home!
In the midst of this, I've been trying to put together a thesis for my ethics paper. I wanted to write on parenting somehow (another outlet for my crazy baby fever!) but I don't want to write on ethics of reproductive technology. In the book I reviewed for the class, there was a chapter on John Chrysostom and the ethics of family. Basically, the idea was that the family is like a little church - so I'm using that as a springboard for my paper. I"m already a bit frustrated with trying to find sources, but Trevor was helpful.
Other interesting conversations this week have included thoughts on reconciliation, our Pastoral Care class discussion on the role(s) of priests in congregations, and a discussion on a new list-serve on being under 30 at seminary (or in the clergy), and finding God in the ordinary. In spite of the busy-ness, I'm glad for such an eventful Holy Week and the constant reminders of God's presence in all sorts of ways.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

The Long-Awaited Ethics Posting

Our Ethics class up to this point has basically consisted of a sweeping history of Western philosophy and theology from Aristotle to Hegel. On some points it been a nice review, on others a good introduction. Nevertheless, Im glad to be moving on from there. We’re reading Truth Is Stranger Than It Used To Be by J. Richard Middleton & Brian J. Walsh, and so far, it is utterly depressing. I really enjoyed the first chapter - it explained how modernism and the myth of progress are illusory and needed to come to an end. The authors described modernism as a three-story building, but What is it that lies beneath the ground floor? Nothing but our own strong shoulders. (p. 21) Modernism has gotten us so excited about the abilities of the individual that there isn’t a need for community, let alone the Church, let alone God. So, I was all ready to jump on the post-modern bandwagon (granted, I was sort of running that direction anyway) when the authors decide to spend the next three chapters taking post-modernism apart as well. At the ends of chapters 3 and 4 respectively, we are left with these uplifting quotes: As… a postmodern era begins we find ourselves again at sea. But this time we have no navigational assistance and no direction. We are alone, adrift in a postmodern world. (p. 62) And The problem… is rooted ultimately in the violence of the human heart and thus requires a remedy considerably more radical than that suggested by post-modernity.(p. 79) The light at the end of this tunnel is that we are now turning to the Biblical narrative for guidance, which leaves me hopeful about the book and the world. That, and these authors like to quote from Indigo Girls songs, so I’m pretty much a happy camper no matter what they say.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Celebrate good times...

YAY!!! I finished the rough draft of the ordo!! I'm off to print it, but thought i'd celebrate publicly. And, since its 10:30, you early-morning blogging folks should all be in bed and probably wouldn't appreciate getting a phone call when I get back from the computer lab...

Where does the time go when its not around here?

I'm having a hard time keeping up with this whole blogging thing... I feel like when I'm sitting in class, I have good ideas for posts, but I can never seem to remember them when I'm sitting at my computer. i think that memory is the cost of busy-ness for me. When there is so much going on, my mind tends to latch on to the more practical pieces of information, like what meeting I should show up for, and loses the more theorectical kinds of notions. For example, I was thinking the other day about Christianity being a liminal religion, and I know I had some good thoughts, but they're totally gone. A couple things concern me about this. First, I really can't chalk this all to up to senior moments, at least not seriously. So what am I going to be like by the time I'm in my late 30's and 40's? Secondly, if I want to teach someday, I think I have the opposite personality needed to write a dissertation - I can keep track of deadlines, but I might forget the point of my dissertation! Maybe this is all to reinforce my thoughts that I'm called to bring organization to the world of theological education.

Monday, April 07, 2003

April Fools!

We woke up to a bunch of snow this morning in Chicago, some kind of late April Fool's joke, I guess. It was actually sort of pretty until I remembered that I had to get out of bed. Which I did, and I even got to all my meetings on time. I spent some good time on a new project last night. The junior class at Seabury has started doing weekly prayer partners, which I think will be a big blessing for our class community. I'm doing the assignments by random drawing, and then writing up the notes to let people know. Its a wonderful way to start the week, spending that time on Sunday night thinking about my classmates. This week was especially good- I read a book called "Ethics After Christendom" by Vigen Guroian, about ecclesially-centered ethics. While I'm not going to get into that today (sorry, but I already had to do my 500 words on that), it reminded me again of the importance of Christian community. So, another week has begun, and it will be full of more mess-ups and failures and little sucesses, and I hope to praise God through all of it.Speaking of little sucesses, I have also been offered & accepted CPE placement at Advocate Bethany Hospital, so it looks like I'll be seeing a lot of Tripp this summer!

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Continuums and Catharsis

The sun is sort of shining in pieces this morning, which is an apt description for my week. I have been spending most of my time this week trying to put together the ordo for the Seabury Easter Vigil. It was going fairly well, until yesterday I discovered that the draft I was working on had been erased. Very frustrating, to say the least, so I had myself a nice little crying fit. But thanks to an understanding prof and two good friends, I calmed down and discovered that I had more saved than I thought. By the end of the night, I had caught up to where I had been with the ordo. And, I had released a lot of stress and found that I have some very good friends here at Seabury. I'll take a minor crisis for that kind of catharsis.
Another interesting exercise from this week has been in my mind. I'm taking a small group class on peace & justice issues (how's that for a broad category?!), and our conversation this week naturually flowed to the war. We did an exercise where we formed an imaginary continuum in the classroom on a couple issues - use of violence, America's role in other countries, that sort of thing- and then placed ourselves along the "line". While the group definitely fell in different places, it was really helpful to treat such a hot-button issue as complex and nuanced. It lessened the tension of the usual "pick a side" discussions, and helped our diverse group to really talk about what we thought. Anyway, I like continuums! So now I will continue to do my work.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

color test

Pretty soon we'll start doing our blogs for Trevor's Ethics I class. So, I need to find a color I want to use for those posts.
I could use this green color.
Or I could use this red one.
But I think I like the purple one.
Any thoughts from the peanut gallery? Thanks to Jeff, for the tips on how to do this!

Just Whistle A Happy Tune

For history class tomorrow, we’re reading the Life of Leoba among other things. This is my favorite Saints Life so far. She was a monastic in the eight hundreds, and a friend of St. Boniface. I particularly like this quote:
Throughout the summer both she and all the sisters under her rule went to rest after the midday meal, and she would never give permission to any of them to stay up late, for she said that lack of sleep dulled the mind, especially for study.
If I get around to writing a rule of life, I think I may model some things after this woman. She seems like a sharp one.

So, I tried to post something else earlier but it seems to have disappeared into cyberspace. I wanted to tell you all about this crazy thing I saw yesterday! Thanks to Dave & Stephanie, Luke & I have become David Letterman fans. Unfortunately, David Letterman has been sick for about five weeks and hasn’t been on his show. Last night was his first night back, and it was a great show with Billy Crystal. The other guest though was Michael Barimo, who is a World Champion Whistler. As in, the noise you make with your mouth that isn’t singing or humming. He whistled the Vengeance Aria from The Magic Flute, with all the vibrato and expression of a singer. It was absolutely amazing. So, I found a website with a sound clip of him, for your enjoyment.