Monday, March 26, 2007

Back to School

I'm having New Testament withdrawal. After three quarters of intensive NT twice a week, with some great lectures, it seems odd to be without them. Still haven't gotten the final exegesis paper from him, though. Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose.

Fourth quarter Hebrew, despite being advertised as a reading course, will be half a reading course, half a finish-the-textbook and memorize more vocab course. Bah.

Lesson learned in another course: do not take a new course the first time it is offered. It's like buying a car in its first model year: they haven't shaken the kinks out yet. My grousing is around an assignment that fully half the class missed the mark on. Pedagogical hiccup, anyone? I love this prof but, as a dear friend said tonight, he can be rather opaque. Yoda-like.

Tomorrow in OT we get to take a newspaper article of our choice and turn it into a prophetic oracle...that's one way to teach us the form. I'm already thinking about the second exegesis paper for her, but I think I may only do some preliminary work until I get the first one back. No point in going all the way down the wrong path if I didn't do what she wanted in the first one.

I've got six more weeks of classes and then my first year in seminary is done. That's a shocking thought. I'm feeling rather like a horse a few miles from the stable, and I'm trying to resist the urge to race toward the stable door, and savor the experience a bit. Some days I feel more savory than others, though. Today I'm mildly salty, I think.

It will be StoneMason's 21st birthday this week. How did this happen? Where did 21 years go?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Looks Like Our Prayers Have Been Answered

We just heard that my father-in-law has just boarded a plane at the airport in Kinshasa and should be back in the States at 2:30 tomorrow afternoon. He has nothing but his passport (his suitcase preceded him to the airport nad we don't know if it made it out or was stolen, and his wallet and its contents were taken by militia) but he has his life, and for that we're grateful for God's protection. He says his hearing has been affected by the close gunfire and mortar fire, and he's pretty dirty from spending a night lying out in the dirt of the road, but otherwise fine.

God is faithful. Praise God!

I'll post when he's gotten home (my sister-in-law is planning on confiscating his passport the moment he lands, so he doesn't travel anymore!)

Many thanks for your prayers. We are all so grateful.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Prayers, Please

My father-in-law, a surgeon who spent most of his life in Congo as a medical missionary, recently went back with a team to do hospital assessments. They are stuck right now in Kinshasa, in the midst of fighting between forces loyal to President Kabila and forces supporting his opponent, Bemba. They are in a safe place right now, after a hair-raising night, but we don't know when and how they will get out. They haven't been able to get a response from the local UN office yet, nor, I believe, the US Embassy.

Please keep R, the rest of the team, and the families of all in your prayers.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Break Time Rocks

I probably should have been more diligent about doing stuff during my spring break, but somehow doing nonlinear fun and creative things seemed more necessary.

I did a presentation on icons at a RevGal's church. Great fun and very responsive attendees!

I cooked a monster dinner for some friends from old church and from seminary. Laughed, drank some amazing wine, ate way too much. Remarkably, the house was clean for this adventure.

Drove four hours north to visit with dear L, who is pastoring a church in the lovely exurbs. I miss her! Not good having her so far away!

Had a lovely get-together with an incoming seminarian, another second-career person. She will be a great addition to the community.

Got one of the sleeves done for my green sweater (the first I've knitted for myself in two decades).

Went on a bead-hunting and yarn-hunting expedition with two classmates who are so much fun.

Made an Anglican Rosary with the results of the bead-hunting trip.

Cooked a bunch of Indian food. Yum! It's all gone now. Drat!

Slept a lot.

Got through Jeremiah, Lamentations, Daniel, and Ezekiel.

So this afternoon I will take the Spooky-cat to have her anal glands expressed (yes, I know, TMI) and tonight I'll go rehearse with the choir from my next-year Field Ed site. They're doing a Tenebrae service at the SeniorWorld community nearby to them, and are in need of sopranos.

Tomorrow is doctor day: neurologist at 8:30 am (I'm having a little problem that we hope is not another MS flare-up) and oral surgeon at 11 (the biopsy didn't show lichen planus, although it looks like lichen planus, so now we've got to go to plan B, since the problem is still there). Then off to the airport to pick up a classmate.

Since RevGal's church was so generous with the honorarium for the icon class, PH and I will go out to dinner this weekend. All in all, a proper spring break!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday Five: Whatcha Doin'

Here's what's been done:

1. Hebrew final exam
2. Served as lector for eucharist at noon
3. Liturgics final exam
4. Library pilgrimage (see below)
5. Dinner

Here's what's left to be done:
6. Luxurious bath
7. Reading and/or sleep

There should be something in there about cleaning up my house, but tomorrow's another day.

It Is Finished

At the risk of being blasphemous, I quote the Gospel of John in the title. It's in honor of the New Testament final, which focused primarily on Hebrews and the Johannine corpus.

All three exams are done. I already know my grade on the Hebrew one, since our Hebrew prof is an adjunct and doesn't have the pathological inability to get papers back to us in a timely fashion that the tenured folk do. It was a good grade. He was generous. I am grateful.

I think I did reasonably well on the other two, plus the courses that had papers in lieu of exams, but I probably won't find out for a while.

I did my usual thing when I was done, in anticipation of a week's break...

I went to the library and got an armload of non-school books:

The Best Seat in the House: How I Woke Up One Tuesday and was Paralyzed for Life
A new translation of Teresa of Avila's The Book of My Life
Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace not Apartheid
Prisoners: A Muslim and Jew Across the Middle East Divide

plus I've got two books sitting alongside the bed waiting to be finished:

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer
The Wizard of the Crow, by Ngugi Wa Thiongo.

What a pleasure to read non-school books for a few days!

I'm going to see my friend L on Monday, and got the OT Prophets on CD, so I can get ahead on my OT reading in the car 4 hours up and four hours back.

We were going top go out for an end-of-quarter dinner, PH and I, but we are in the midst of an icy, sleety, icky storm, and when we stepped outside the house, we dang near slipped on our hinders. Sanity reigned, we stayed home, and PH cooked me a dinner of Swedish pancakes (plattar, with an umlaut over the first "a") with lingonberries.

Exams finished, non-school books to read, and Swedish pancakes.

Life is good.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Anything but study for the Hebrew final that will occur tomorrow morning.

NT was fine, I think. I was satisfied with what I did on the essay and on the "hot quotes" section.

Two more exams and I'm done for a week.

My brain is full...and Towanda, I haven't got my act together on infinitives yet... maybe I'll get lucky as you did and the prof won't include them.

Just want to sleep and eat chocolate. I have promised myself a "Gray's Anatomy" break at 9 pm, so I'd better get back to work.

Slowly she turns...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Spring Fever

It's something like 75 degrees outside, maybe warmer, and the air is redolent with new growth and the hint of flowers.

Since I have 3 exams over the next couple of days, I don't get to enjoy it. Studying trumps sniffing the air.

I had a get-together with my NT study group - a bunch of extraordinary women with minds like steel traps, a major ability to laugh out loud (esp. at ourselves), and a sense of God amongst us. What a joy! Nice to have a group of friends with whom I can be thoroughly myself. It kept me sane today. I know I will pass the exam, it's just a question of whether I will sound like a seminarian or a fourth-grader.

I'm about to throw up my hands in despair over the Hebrew exam. It seems as soon as I learn a new conjugation or a passel of new words, the old stuff falls out of my brain. Again, I expect to pass, I would just like to feel more of a sense of mastery.

The third exam is liturgics, and I've reviewed the relevant pastoral rites and some of the writing on them. It's open book (the books being the Book of Common Prayer, the Book of Occasional Services, and Enrishing Our Worship2) and there will be some factual stuff plus an essay on the theology of something therein. Not really something one can study for, but I think I'll be fine.

Then...a week off! Or at least sort of. I'll be editing a paper for submission to a publication, so it won't all be fun.

Dinner with friends and a performance of "Joseph and the Amazing etc. etc." at home church with 80 plus kids over the weekend, a trip north to see dear L whom I miss terribly now that she's working 3 hours away, various lunches and get-togethers with friends.

Somewhere in there I really should clean the house. I figure once a semester, whether it needs it or not.

Now if I could only get my danged exams out of the way!

I want to take a nap.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Nine pages into the ten page Adult Ed paper. If I count the excel spreadsheet of curricula, it gets to ten, but that doesn't feel legit. I know I've got some more footnoting to do. If I had another month to work on it, I'd be able to do it right. It's material I'm really jazzed by, so I wish I could. For now, I'll just have to settle for just getting it done. Bah.

I survived the Hebrew quiz (60 new words). I forgot one word, and got one of the extra-credit parsings half-wrong. I guess I'll stick out the fourth quarter, even though I'm so very tired of memorizing 60 words a week. I think my ego may be getting the better of me, or else I'm just so bonded to my fellow Hebrew warriors in the class that I can't let them go, or I'm hoping the flame will alight on my head and I'll suddenly get it.

Every now and then, we get a transcendent moment in one of my classes. The lecture on ministry to the sick in Liturgics today was one of those moments. That's what happens when you've got a prof whose PhD is in English, but whose theology is equally deep and thoughtful. I've got intellectual chops envy.

Three exams this week: Hebrew, New Testament, Liturgics. I'd be scared if I weren't so dang tired.


It's 10:30, almost.

I can go to sleep now.

G'night. (Only a few days til Spring Break. Can't you tell?)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Wading Through

So today I finished the OT exegesis paper. PH read it and helped me make it make sense (sort of). It's not exactly an exciting piece of verbiage, but I think it will do.

I spent the morning
first getting the car through its emissions exam (it passed),
then to the Center for the Ministry of Teaching to go through a bunch of curricula for my Adult Ed paper that's due on Thursday.
Then I came home,
did an accounting for my grant for the Qatar trip,
did a load of laundry,
did five chapters of Hebrew glossary,
made dinner and
am now baking raspberry squares for Coffee Hour tomorrow.

I think I'm overcommitted.

If I survive this week (one paper and three exams), I get to have a week off...but for a presentation for RM's Adult Ed class next Sunday, which will be sheer pleasure.

Then I get to have a week off...but for the editing of the Qatar paper for submission for publication.

Of course, one of my classmates has just finished his doctoral dissertation in another subject area (doing an MDiv while finishing a dissertation must be a sign of insanity). The mighty document, a thing of beauty, is over 900 pages long.

Suddenly, I feel like a slacker.

Humility. It's a good thing.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I'm rehearsing...

,,,for those times when I have to preach on a lectionary text that doesn't light me up at all. Or when I'm so dry that nothing is happening on the page.

The exercise is an Old Testment exegesis paper that's due next week.

It's a passage I know well and love dearly (II Kings 2.1-15), and I've done a bunch of work on it (word study, historical analysis, literary analysis, reading commentaries). I've got a dozen pages of notes and disjointed draft paragraphs in the laptop, but everything I write reads like a Jif peanut butter ad.

So now I'm waiting for the Holy Spirit to drop some great ideas on my sorry head.

Sometime before the paper is due would be nice.

I wonder what kind of grade I'd get for a Jif peanut butter ad?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

How Many Trees Were Sacrificed for this Moment?

I should be working on my OT exegesis paper, which, at this point, is a jumble of notes and word study with no discernible theological thought. I should be reading for my Adult Ed paper, on curricula and other tools for congregations relating to conflict and change. That one's a pile of notes right now, too. Both papers are due at the end of next week.

I could also be memorizing the 60 new Hebrew words Mark assigned for next week, or working on my Hebrew glossary of all the words in our textbook. I could also be reading the enormous quantities of Scripture and commentaries our profs have assigned.

Instead, I'm copying stuff. To be precise, I'm making copies of my 20+ page paper on the Qatar trip to give to the committee at St P's (which kindly gave me a nice check to help cover the costs of the trip), and will soon drive over there (25 minutes away) to give a ten minute presentation on what I did on my January vaca...oops, mission trip. So many trees will die whilst I make about 150 pages worth of stuff that may or may not be read, but I guess it's a reasonable thing for me to meet with them...

...despite the fact that I made a 45-minute Adult Forum presentation (complete with pictures) a week ago to a larger group which included the folks who will be there tonight.

Oh well, it's only trees. And it's only time.

Thanks. I feel better. I'll stop whining now.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

And the Answer Is...

Seems like many of us in ECUSA are arguing over the "homosexual question." Arguing over whether those whose sexual orientation is toward a partner of the same sex means they are "fundamentally disordered." Arguing over whether to consecrate gay bishops, or ordain gay priests, or only ordain celibate gay priests, or whether gay people need reparative therapy to change back to "normal," whatever that is.

It's really very simple. We go back to Christ, who said, "Love one another."

We seem to have forgotten that.

To me, healthy, normative relationships aren't defined by genitalia.

They are defined by maturity, mutual respect, equal partnership, care through good times and bad.

I've seen good and bad gay relationships and good and bad straight relationships. Why are we being so childish about all this?

Could it, at its heart, be about fear, or power, or money?

I wonder.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Friday Five: Artsy Craftsy

A day late, but...
1. Would you call yourself “creative”? Why or why not?
Somewhat. I'm a musician, but I don't write my own music, I simply perform what others have written. I'm an iconographer, but that's not a form that calls for creativity, it's one that calls for accuracy in copying and praying about what I'm copying. I'm a wanna-be writer, but I doubt I'm breaking any new ground. I have fun with interior design on a miserable budget, and knitting from other folks' patterns.
2. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you currently do that you’d like to develop further.
I'd like to write more, design some of the knitting projects, and write more. It will all have to wait until I graduate from seminary, or retire from ministry, or something.
3. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you have never done but would like to try.
4. Complete this sentence: “I am in awe of RM's writing, Irena's icons, StrongOpinions' sculptures and blown glass and charcoal drawings, my sister-in-law L's quilts.”
5. Share about a person who has encouraged your creativity, who has “called you to your best self.” (I’m pretty sure that’s from the Gospel of Oprah.)
Oh, definitely PH, who cheers me on no matter what I try, and only winces occasionally.

Of course, as I mentioned above, my time for creative endeavors is limited by my hours of classwork these days. PH asked me last night if I had done any creative writing on my time in Qatar. Um, no. The 20 page paper sort of took it all out of me. I did get a wee bit creative on my NT exegesis paper on Luke 14: 15-24 (The Parable of the Great Banquet). Got on a riff about call-and-response music and the call and response motif in the invitation and refusal/accpetance of the invitation to the eschatological banquet. Of course, my NT prof will probably just raise his eyebrows. Maybe that's the limit of my creaitivity these days.