Sunday, November 27, 2005
Things You Don't Count On
I bought my grandpa's 92 Blazer from my grandma a few weeks ago. Grandpa passed away at the end of September, which was why I originally came back to the States.
About a week ago, I noticed for the first time the strong smell of my grandfather - his familiar mix of Jovan Musk and mothballs. Like seeing someone you are SURE is a long lost friend (though of course it never is), or hearing a song on the radio that reminds you of your heart broken years ago, I was almost bowled over by that faint smell. It was odd that this was the first I'd noticed it. I then realized it was coming only from my hands. I leaned forward at the stoplight and smelled the steering wheel.
On a warm day, my steering wheel - and my hands - still smells strongly of my Grandfather, two months after his passing.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Dear BBC America:
Greetings and Salutations to you.
My name is Michaela Forbes. I am American, but please don't hold that against me - I did not vote for Bush (or Kerry), I did not send troops to Iraq, and I don't spoon feed Tony Blair. If anything, I'm more British than American anymore, but don't worry, I'm in therapy for that.
After living in Edinburgh for three years, you and I have developed, as you probably know, sort of love-hate relationship. I'm sure you are aware I spent more time with ITV and Channel 5 than I did with you (or, I should say, your British counterpart). I did, however, grow distantly fond of you. Some of your programmes I greatly appreciated: Little Britian, AbFab, Alan Partridge, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross,Blackadder, Wedding Stories, Three Non-Blondes, The Office, Red Dwarf, Desperate Midwives, Monty Python's Flying Circus, etc. I always enjoyed your "special" shows, such as Panorama. American VH1 watchers also have you to thank for the format of I Love... programs, which I first discovered on your I Love the 80's programmes. Well done, you.
Upon my return to the United States in October, I was happy to find BBC America at channel 113 on our digital satellite services.
Listen, I know you guys hate us, I do. But do you really have to subject us to 800 million episodes of Cash in the Attic?
In case you've forgotten, your most repeated shows on BBC America are as follows:
Cash in the Attic
The Benny Hill Show
I mean...really. Do you really hate us so much that you send your WORST stuff to us? I know you throw in some good stuff (even if it's often at unwatchable times): Monty Python,Father Ted, AbFab, Monarch of the Glen, Blackadder. I'll even take The Robinsons, or The Kumars and No 42 in a pinch. But these shows are showings are few and far between. If I see Changing Rooms on the line-up one more time, I think I will cry. Perhaps this is your way of getting back at us for all those torture issues we seem to be dealing with, but remember we don't all agree with that.
So, dear BBC America - I know you can do better. I really do. You aren't that bad. You have potential. And that potential is not to be found in Linda Barker or Anna Ryder Richardson. I promise.
Please send us better programming.
If only for my sake.
Friday, November 25, 2005
(A few hours too late.)
Today we not only celebrate our finally managing to get away from those British tyrants....
We also celebrate the mass genocide of most Native Americans.
Eat up America!!!
Okay, okay, so it's the same joke everyone makes every year, but it remains true. We like to forget our ugly history in favor of the pretty history - the "indians" and "pilgrims" sitting together with a lovely cornucopia certrepeice at a long table, celebrating the harvest. That's a much nicer story. Someone should write that up for a Disney or Dreamworks computer animation cartoon pitch. Sandy, get me my agent.
I'm glad that now the holiday has become something more. I just keep wondering about people who don't believe in God. I forget who it was that said it but it was something along the lines of: "Atheists....who do they thank?"
P.S. Attention all Britons: I'm going to need a decent Mince Pie recipe for the holidays. Keep in mind that I'll have to make the mincemeat from scratch, since we don't really have that here. So send 'em my way, I'm already getting hungry again.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
For the Lutherans and Baptists Among You....
A Pot-Luck Supper
1) After a ridiculously stressful morning, I had an (ironically) fairly stress-free shift at the coffee place today. We laughed a lot, which is something I value quite highly in a workplace. On my way home, I remembered I was expecting some emails, two in particular, from two good friends, Craig and Allan. Both are the among a relatively smallish group of friends - most of whom are much too far away from me right now - that God has provided in order to keep me on the edge of sanity during these past few months. (This group also includes, but is not limited to, Heather, Chrissy, Julie, Joshua, Naike and Ruth...all of whom I mention simply because...they deserve a mention for putting up with me as of late.)
So I come home, with my cup of Caramel Apple Cider in hand, change into my Perfect Pyjama Pants, put on some Lori McKenna, and open up my mailbox to discover said emails (plus some more).
There's something to be said for stumbling across something(s)that just makes you smile widely, and both emails did.
"I can see us there in Scotland, sitting at a pub having a 10/10 chat. Empty glasses crowding the table and a carton of smokes half empty on the spare chair. Big smiles adorn our faces and even though life sucks we'd find that one porthole into a world of laughs and comfort as we told reality to go stuff itself for a few small hours!
"Monkey's cause chaos.....and shit all over your back! Cast it off and then maybe you can make a clearer call."
"If life is shit, sort it by pushing some doors. What harm is there in that?"
Wise words from good guys who make me smile when I need a smile.
2) If you haven't listened to Lori McKenna yet....WHY THE HECK ARE YOU STILL READING THIS?! Go get one of her albums. I'd heard about her, but investigated a little more when I read Zach Braff's recommendation of her. I then used a B&N gift certificate that I receieved for my birthday to order her album Bittertown. So stinking great. Buy her stuff.
3) If you're in the UK, head out to Fopp and buy a book by Danny Wallace. I'm reading Yes Man,and it's HILARIOUS. (It's taken me a few months to read it, but honestly, it's really good.) I think I got it at Fopp for like 6 quid. (If you're in the States, you can order it from Amazon, it just ain't as cheap.)
4) As expected, I miss brown sauce.
And if I don't get any more votes, it seems as though "I'll tell you everything, and you tell me everything, and maybe we can get through all the piss and shit and lies that kill other people." (Hereafter referred to as "ITYEAYTMEAMWCGTATPASALTKOP", since that's what we do on RMFO...) will have won TBM's Blog Post Idol. Thanks, kids.
That's all for now.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
You guys suck.
I see how it is.
Monday, November 21, 2005
How do you document real life/When real life is getting more like/Fiction each day...?
See, the thing is... I appreciate that you guys keep coming back here, to read all my hilariously funny thoughts and such and such, but to be honest - and this may be a first - I just don't have anything to say at the moment. I work at a Corporate Coffee Place, and I really enjoy it there. Otherwise, there isn't much to speak of. I've been pretty sick, which has kept me from doing a whole lot, including getting much sleep. I now know the usual night-time TV line up between the hours of 1-4am. *cough*
So, in lieu of actually saying anything, I'm going to take the advice of someone (I don't even remember who) who said I should do a "Best Of..." series. It is your turn to go back into the archives to find your favorite TBM posts. Present them here in the comments for nomination. We may even have voting. We may even set up categories. I'm taking suggestions.
To kick it all off, I present some of my favorites: (Note that you may have to scroll down to the correct date, as I'm only linking the month archives.)
"Second Place" - Aug 14, 2003
Oh The Huge Manatee! (By Joe Bassett) - Sept 20, 2003
"...She was made for something more than struggle..." (by Derek Webb) - Sept 13, 2003
"The Greater Love" (By Kierkeguaard) - Oct 4, 2003
Earl - Jan 4, 2004
On Father Dowling Mysteries - March 10, 04
Fire,Police, or Ambulance? - May 28, 2004
Capital Punishment for the Pretty Bugs - June 2, 2004
A Place to Belong - Dec 22, 2004
I'm Not Cool - Jan 17, 2005
I'll tell you everything, and you tell me everything, and maybe we can get through all the piss and shit and lies that kill other people. - May 20, 2005
And, for your viewing pleasure, some old quotes that I stumbled upon along the way....
"What a beautiful piece of heartache this has all turned out to be. Lord knows we've learned the hard way all about healthy apathy. And I use these words pretty loosely. There's so much more to life than words. There is a me you would not recognize, Dear. Call it the shadow of myself. And if the music starts before I get there dance without me. You dance so gracefully. I really think I'll be o.k. They've taken their toll these latter days. Nothin' like sleeping on a bed of nails. Nothin' much here but our broken dreams. Ah, but baby if all else fails, nothin' is ever quite what it seems. And I'm dyin' inside to leave you with more than cliches. There is a me you would not recognize, Dear. Call it the shadow of myself. And if the music starts before I get there dance without me. You dance so gracefully. I really think I'll be o.k. They've taken their toll these latter days."
--Over the Rhine, "Latter Days"
"In the end, I think the relationships that survive in this world are the ones where two people can finish each other's sentences. Forget drama and torrid sex and the clash of opposites. Give me banter any day of the week."
--"Heather", in Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland
"My mind then wandered. I thought of this: I thought how every day each of us experiences a few moments that have just a bit more resonance that other moments - we hear a word that sticks in our mind - or maybe we have a small experience that pulls us out of ourselves, if only briefly - we share a hotel elevator with a bride in her veils, say, or a stranger gives us a piece of bread to feed to the mallard ducks in the lagoon; a small child starts a conversation with us in a Dairy Queen - or we have an episode like the one that I had with the M & M cars back at the husky station.
And if we were to collect these small moments in a notebook and save them over a period of months we would see certain trends emerge that have been trying to speak through us. We would realize that we have been having another life altogether, one we didn't even know was going on inside us. And maybe this other life is more important than the one we think of as being real - this clumsy day-to-day world of furniture and noise and metal. So just maybe it is these small silent moments which are the true story-making events of our lives." (Douglas Coupland, Life After God)
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
"Where the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and the children are above-average."
Not all that long ago, I had a good and lengthy discussion with a person I was close to, on matters of love. I believed then, and still do believe, that love is a choice. I think perhaps it's not all that simple, but when you boil it down, that's what it is. It can be prompted by "in love" feelings, the sort of butterflies and rainbows kind of mush, but it never stays that way. And sometimes, you can blink, turn around to look at it again, and it's all fallen to pieces, and love was nothing like it was when you first thought you saw it (whether it was ever love back there in the beginning is arguable) - or even, what it was just a second ago, before you closed your eyes. What used to make your heart jump just doesn't work anymore, and you can't remember quite why it did in the first place.
It's at these points we choose flight or fight.
There are all sorts of reasons for both the fighting and the...flying. Half the time we probably just make excuses to choose one or the other, whether for good or for bad. Sometimes, whichever the decision, it can be the best one of your life. Or the worst. Many times, when the feelings go away, you're only really left with logic, or a situation, or memories of something that you once KNEW, but can no longer feel, to base this decision on. Sometimes, you can even pray about it, and you end up with no clear answers. Or, you end up with an answer you didn't want to hear.
Sometimes, you really should go. Sometimes, you really should stay. Sometimes, you should go back, even after you left. Sometimes....well maybe sometimes it doesn't matter.
Sunday morning, I was driving back to St. Louis on a beautifully sunny day, in 60-degree weather, across the great state of Missouri, from picking up my new car in Kansas City.
I had my musical options well-planned, having taped my newly-bought RENT soundtrack and the most recent David Crowder Band album (A Collision). But one of the redeeming qualities of Kansas City is that they have one of the best little radio stations in the world: 90.9 The Bridge. The Bridge is a college (CMSU) radio and NPR station. (The evening before, I was listening to The Bridge, being deejayed at the time by a man with a lovely English accent. I miss British accents. Sometimes, I even turn on BBC America just for the accents, even though I despise BBC America. But that's for another blog on another day.)
Sunday morning, I was bummed to be missing church - so I was delighted when I turned on The Bridge to hear Garrison Keillor's voice on the Prarie Home Companion.
For those who don't know, the PHC is hard to explain. I suppose it's a variety show, in the vein of what radio shows used to be, before TV bastardised the art form of radio. Keillor is one of the best modern Ameican writers (in my humble opinion) and most of the PHC is often his reading of stories he's written. He includes musical guests, comedy sketches and advertisements for imaginary products. Highlights also include the "Greetings" that Keillor reads out to his listeners, from people:
Mom, don't be jealous that I am living in England, being kissed by handsome celebrities. We knew it was bound to happen. I got my fabulousness from you. Love and miss you. Please bring my llama statue to the airport.
— Maggie Rasmussen
Best of luck to the Hogtown Stompers, the best jugband in the Midwest, from Dad in the easternmost town in the U.S. of A.
— Dick Hoyt
Beth, Brian, and Marie in Winston-Salem,
Hello from the exciting world of hospital chaplaincy in Knoxville, TN. Oh, how I miss the days of seminary and sitting around listening to public radio while eating dinner in the divinity house. We'll listen together again soon.
— Chrissy Cataldo
On Sunday, PHC was doing a special on New Orleans, in light of Hurricane Katrina, and he played previous broadcasts from New Orleans visits. He told a particularly funny story of a girl who found her way to New Orleans from Minnesota and fell in love with the place, and several men there. "Guy Noir" found himself working security at the Pre-Mardi Gras Celebration in the Swedish Quarter : "Pre-Mardi Gras. Swedish Quarter. Come and Get Good And Liquored Up and Leer at Semi-Naked Women and Dance & Carry On Lasciviously to Bad Bad Boombox Bjornson and His Groovy Scandihoovians." Those crazy Lutherans. Jazz and blues musicians played, and so on and so forth. All this while I was driving across the sunny Great Plains (sort of) of Missouri. I drove slowly, and listened to it til just before Columbia, when the signal dies (which is ironically just past Prarie Home, Missouri.)
You'll see the link in a minute.
One of the best and worst things about driving is that you get time to yourself to think. It occured to me not long ago that I'm really not loving it in Missouri. I did, once. For years after I left, even, this still felt like home. I always thought I'd go back to get married and make babies and live happily ever after. Until recently (by that I mean on and off for the last two years or so), this was still the case. It never occurred to me that any other place might eventually feel more like home than the Midwest. But moving back has hit me pretty hard, in that way that they tell you "re-entry" will, when you run away to be a missionary like I did. Except after that, it wasn't like this. Maybe I just don't remember it as well, but I certainly remember enjoying America a little more then than I do now. (But not too much, of course, or else I wouldn't have ended up in Scotland at all.) I don't particularly love America anymore, like I once did. I remember after being away for my first year in Scotland, flying back and landing in Atlanta. As we were landing, we flew right past a Waffle House. I think I actually got teary. Now, Scotland feels like home, and I get teary at the thought of brown sauce and chips, buildings that are actually older than me, grey skies and green hills.
Everytime I'd visit America, with the exception of last December's visit, I was sad to leave and go back to Scotland, even though I loved it there, too.
So this time, I was expecting to still be in love. Except I found that I'd closed my eyes, turned around, and what used to make my heart jump here just doesn't anymore, and I don't quite remember why it did in the first place. Granted, I had chosen to go back to Scotland for the year, and the move here was much too abrupt for anyone's liking. Just one of the things in my life I've lost was enough to upset a girl - then I found I had to lose the whole life I'd built in Scotland too? Does this not seem kind of cruel?
I thought, though, that I'd remember how to love this place. I really thought this was all just a funk, and that as soon as I got a job (or two) and got back on my feet, got a car, and started to meet people, that I'd remember just how damn hot MO was.
What I was realising, in the car, listening to Garrision Keillor read about the the Cathedral of St Lars built by the Swedes of New Orleans...that the honeymoon love of America might just be over for me. Absence indeed makes the heart grow fonder, and it got easy to idealise America. (I make no claims that I don't do that for Scotland too, but that's slightly different.) But the fact of the matter is that for right now, I'm stuck with Ameica. It may have been an arranged marriage if you will, but we're still in this together. And it the end, it just might not work out. In the end, God may take America and dear old Missouri and I down different paths. But at the moment, I recognize that in order for this to work at least in the short-term, I'm just going to have to be committed to her, to look for the beautiful in her, and try and remember - logically, if not emotionally - just why I ever loved her in the first place. After all, God did bring us together for now, and he has a reason for that.
And I'm still pretty bummed out that I'm stuck with her, and I'm kinda pissed off that my Father arranged such a marriage right now, but in my culture, you do what you Father tells you. And, as He chooses to love his children, we're asked to choose to love. And I have to choose to love America, and Missouri (and it's people - both really great and really annoying) for now.
Thankfully, Garrison Keillor makes that just a TINY bit easier.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Living at Home: Vol 597
Mom: I read your blog the other day.
Me: What? You never read my blog.
Mom: Mmmhm. *Look that said: I read that stuff about the milk*
Me: It was all TRUE!
Mom: I don't care what you write. It's cheaper than therapy.
Me: Exactly. I'm glad you understand.
Monday, November 14, 2005
It was not facing what life dealt that made you crazy, but rather trying to set life straight where it was unstraightenable.
-From Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott-
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Everyone should have someone who will sing Happy Birthday to them at midnight.
OK, call me a cynic, but I was pretty sure that my birthday was going to suck this year. Not that my birthday has really ever been good (it's always like New Year's...so anti-climatic), but especially this year. Perhaps my low expectations have done me well, since anything is better than nothing, right?
Well, I've only been officially 24 for 2 hours, but so far, it's going great.
First of all, today was a day of good news. The manager from Starbucks called to say that she wanted to hire me, and that my interview went so well that she didn't think the second was needed. So hurrah! I'm now officially a "Starbucks Partner", since we're WAY too pretentious to call ourselves "Employees". Somehow, I don't think I'll get the same perks as, say, a partner in a law firm, but they still have good benefits. And free and massively discounted stuff. So you all know what you'll be getting for Christmas now. So that was the first good news.
Second good news is that after a fair amount of haggling (she's a stingy old bird), my grandma said she's sell me my grandpa's 92 Chevy Blazer. This is VERY good news, not only because I need a car, but because I really like that one. Plus, that means I'm officially American, now that I have a massive, gas-guzzling SUV.
But I have to admit, I was still a little bummed, what with feeling all my friends were so far away and such.
Well, I was wrong apparently. My friend Libby called at 6pm to tell me that Adrienne Young was playing at Off-Broadway for only 8 bucks, and did I want to come along? Of course!
So I drove to her house and from there we drove to the venue....only to discover I left my Drivers Licence back at home in Florissant. 30 minutes away. (It was an over-21 show.) CRAP. So I drove Libby's car all the way back home and all the way back and an hour later I joined Libby and Rebecca watching a FANTASTIC show. (Granted I only caught the last 5 or 6 songs, but it was totally worth it.)
By midnight, we were still sitting around, chatting to Adrienne herself, because she's not only a great musician, but she's the kind of person that is INCREDIBLY easy to talk to, and loves to talk. SO at midnight, (keep in mind, for the last 15 mins, after she heard it was going to be my birthday, Adrienne kept asking Rebecca what the time was, so she'd get it right on the dot...) Adriene, Libby, Rebecca, and some random bloke who really just wanted to chat up Adrienne were singing me Happy Birthday. So stinkin great.
And on the way back to Libby's, the two of us talked theology (Auburn Avenue, anyone?) over cigarettes. And that's pretty much all I ask for in a friend. (Well, one of only a few things anyway.)
So hurrah for good times, and good friends, good beer and good music. Even if I feel so far from home.
God is still good, eh?
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Living at Home, Vol. 234
Now that it seems I've almost gotten a job, and I've made a habit of turning off my bedlight, Mom now has less to nag me about, so she's had to resort to extreme measures: Namely, getting her panties in a huff about me leaving any milk around for any length of time longer than 30 seconds.
Usually, our conversations go like this:
"Why have you left your glass of milk out again!?"
"Because...I'm not finished with it."
"Well its getting warm!"
"Finish it now, or I'm throwing it out."
Etc, etc, etc.
I've found I'm actually exasperated at getting exasperated with her. It's not worth fighting back, just lay there and play dead. For the love, I'll drink the milk. And if I happen to leave an inch of milk, the world will not spin out of orbit, the bi-state area will not flood, and Paris Hilton will not become a respectable actress.
So tonight, our conversation went like this:
Mom: "Seriously, do you have like, a PROBLEM with leaving just a LITTLE bit of milk in the bottom of the glass? Is it an issue with you?
She said this as if I need rehab.
Me: "Hm. Possibly."
"Is there a reason you do it?!"
She was serious.
"Maybe. I think I might have a drinking problem."
Friday, November 04, 2005
I got an interview at Corporate Coffee!!!!
My "deep theological" posts are apparently about as popular as bacon at a bar mitzvah. I could be in trouble.
1) Challies found The I Love Lucy Bible Study. No, seriously. Sounds like some pretty deep stuff to me, I don't know if I can handle it.
Go on, Manders, you know you want one. I personally always enjoyed "Bonus Bucks"....
2) Mmm. Tortillas. But tis not just any tortillas I have, but ones that are LARD FREE. That's right, "flip those tortillas, Dad....you know how I like em....LARD FREE."
3) Can I just tell you the trees here are BEAUTIFUL. There's a certain kind here that goes straight from dark green to bright dark pink. And it's just stunning, and it's November and nearly 80 degrees and sunny. Mmm, smell that? It's called Global Warming!
4) And, in the most exciting news of the day, I have discovered The Scottish Arms. I found an advert for them in the RFT last night when I couldn't sleep. And then I FREAKED out and got really excited and then I DEFINITELY couldn't sleep. I'm thinking it would be a great place to celebrate my birthday next week, if it doesn't make me horribly depressed.
Maybe I could get a job there. I should go and show them my mad whisky skillz.
The Coming of the Seminerd
Today was a vast improvement on yesterday. I think this has a little to do with the fact I spent more time reading and drinking coffee and meditating on Scripture and God than I did watching E! True Hollywood Story or VH1's 101 Best Blonde Hairdos EVER. (It's so easy to get sucked into those things, man.)
I was determined to actually do something today (it's surprisingly easy to do nothing when you have no job...shocking, I know), and so I took a trip downtown, armed with books (Enns' Inspiration and Incarnation, Moore's Selling God, and Hornby's A Long Way Down ...note, of course, my listing in order of "holiness"...), intent on visiting Kaldi's Coffee, Kayak's Coffee, and Barnes and Noble to pick up applications for employment, and spend some time in bookdom.
I ended up staying at Kayak's for a while. Most people around here like Kaldi's better, and it certainly has more "mom and pop" character. But it's also a little crowded and dark, and I sorta like my space when I'm reading. Kayak's is a chain-"type" coffee place, (though I don't think it really is a chain at the moment...they're soon opening their second store) therefore, intellectuals in St Louis throw it in with all that is bad with "The Man" and corperate America. Well poo on that, I liked it just fine. PLUS, they have comfortable, cusioned seating, which Kaldi's doesn't. And they have easier parking, even if you have to pay for it and Wash U security waits like a hawk til your meter runs out and even though you were actually WALKING OUT to put more money in the meter, they still issue you a ten dollar parking ticket, and do it RUDELY, as if letting your meter run out by mere seconds is deterimental to the continuation of the human race.
Not that I'm bitter.
(Which also begs the question: Do I really have to pay it if it was just issued by Wash U security? He wasn't a policeman or anything. Does he have any real power?)
I spent quite a long time in my cozy seat by the fireplace (another bonus), reading Enns' book, taking notes and and enjoying it immensely. I also read bits of Moore's book, which is also interesting, albiet seemingly less "important", if that makes sense. (It is a critique on culture and society, rather than a discussion on Scripture and theology, as Enns' is.) I was again taken aback by a little bit of culture shock, when I noticed so many OBVIOUS Christians - Bible-toting, full-on Christians, in either a group Bible study, or doing seminary work (aka, The Seminerds - in addition to Covenant, Concordia Seminary, for the Lutheran church, is also nearby). And yes, many were wearing socks and sandals. Maybe that's actually a better way to spot a Christian...
But in any case, it's just not something you would see in Scotland. Ever.
I came home, and dived into some further discussion on Enns' book over on Mark's blog, and then surfed around a variety of theologically-minded blogs.
It occurred to me, particularly in light of Mark's blog, that my own blog may be forced to change its tone in the coming months, if I do indeed start work on my MATS at Covenant.
Once upon a time, our group of friends knew Mark and Karyn as a lovely couple who loved Jesus. Now, they are a lovely couple who love Jesus and who blog about what they are learning in classes at Westminster. (Not to imply that's ALL they blog about, but that's commonplace.) Mark's blog is, in fact, quite popular among the WTS group, including certain fairly well-known professors. Now, whether or not Mark blogs simply to kiss up to said professors, we aren't sure, but we've got a Senate committee looking into it.
Quite frankly, I read Mark's blog a heck of a lot more now, since he started at Westminster. And probably even more so now that I know (hope) I'll be headed to seminary soon myself. You'll also note, if you venture over there, a completely different Michaela in the comments (on the whole) than you do here.
Now, anyone who knows me knows how my silliness and theology tend to mix, in real life. But blogs, like most written literature, tend to polarise (by neccessity, I suppose) these different sides of a person. And where the last three years of my life have been largely made up of living as an expat in Scotland and working in youth ministry (with a little on theological study once in a while), my "new" life looks like it will be categorized more by theological study.
Personally, I'm okay with that. And I kinda envy the type of blog Mark has in a way - one that fosters discussion, mainly, rather than one-way dictation of events and thoughts. But I don't think my entries on here will change simply because I want a blog "like that", but more so because that's just what my life will be about. I'm not sure how interested you - as my readership - will be in such things. And maybe my readership will change. Or perhaps I've got it all wrong, and I'll be so mentally exausted from classes that I'll not really want to "take work home" to my blog.
But if such a situations happens, don't say I didn't warn you guys.
In that vein, I present to you a few little gems I ran across today, that some of you who are at all "theologically minded" (though there surely has to be a better word for it) might be interested to read....
-My friend Adam is usually complaining that I don't read his blog. And he's right, I don't. Not that it's not good, though - it is. And Tim Challies picked up on this, in recommeding Adam's new post, in which he discusses his new not-so-shocking revelation: The Emergent Church is obessed with itself. Ding-ding-ding! We have a winner! (But then that raises the question: is the "Reformed church" really any better at that?)
-James Jordan at Biblical Horizons gives us some thought on "The Closing of the Calvinistic Mind" and the whole brou-ha-ha surrounding the Federal Vision and New Perspective on Paul, etc, etc. While I wonder if some of his language is pretty divisive and counter-productive (at what point are we just getting into further name-calling?), and I get the distinct impression that he's pretty proud of his acedemic pursuit, I do think he makes some very valid points about the mentality of the current Reformed Christian community, particularly within the PCA church.
-A new find, thanks to ReformedWomen blog, came in the form of Adam Naranjo's blog. He writes what I like to read, and his blog is easy on the eyes, which is a bonus. Today he writes some interesting thoughts on Biblical Penology vs. Deterrence Theory. He also flagged up Tom Wright's new book Paul : Fresh Perspectives, which I would really like to read.
Oh, and by the way, my birthday is in 5 days. November 9th. Mark your calendars. And Mark offers a hefty discount at the WTS bookstore. Wink, wink.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
"See, they love black toe in this country."
It's been a while since I've sat down at the computer without really having anything in particular to say. But hey, it's 5:30am, so why not...
The last few days have been particularly hard, actually. I feel really really stuck. I still haven't gotten a job (though it's only been two weeks since I started looking), and I really am pulling out my hair living at home. No person should ever have to move back in with their parents after living on their own for five years. It's just not advisable. But I can't get a place til I get a job of course. Hopefully that will come soon. But it makes getting out of bed more difficult, what with not having anything to do but more applications. Oddly enough, I find that more and more places are only taking applications online - which is fine, and kinda handy, til you find applications which don't leave enough space for international numbers or addresses. Hm. That presents a problem for me. But anyway. I'm sure something will work out. It's either that, or I jump out the window.
Which actually wouldn't be terrible since we live in a ranch house with one floor.
But you understand.
But this is the first time, I realize, where I've been stuck somewhere where I didn't really want to be. Previously, when I've wanted to do something, or go somewhere, I've just done it - the Doulos, then Scotland, etc. And I've not really run into any hurdles along the way. And I should clarify I definitely DEFINITELY want to do my Masters at Covenant. But I wasn't planning on that til next year, and I had a lot of good and valid reasons to go back to Scotland for the next year. And the difficulty is now that I still have my visa, and so it's still not impossible for me to go back and look for a job there - except that I really don't have the money. But it would be possible for me to get a job here and work for a while and go back there....etc, etc....you get the idea. But then at what point is that saying: "God I know you've shut this door and that door, but I'm going to pry it open anyway, because I really want my way, and I really want what is comfortable and convienient for me"? See what I mean?
And I'm sure that once I get a job, and get out of here, and start classes that I will feel a LOT better. But this in-between phase, this "stuckness", is really really unsettling, and I've been in this phase now for about four months. It gets a little old. But, as my friend Ben pointed out to me in our phone conversation tonight (hence why I'm still up at such an ungodly hour) - it took what, 20 years? after Abraham was told he'd be the father of a nation before anything really started to happen. I'm thinking probably after year one or two, Abraham starting going: Hey wait, God, remember that thing? With the nation? Where's that? Can I see a blueprint or something? Can I get an outline of your plan? That would be handy. So, yet another example of God's plans not really being contingent on my plans or timing.
But I also recognize that this is not something that God doesn't understand, or hasn't covered. His Word says, pretty clearly: "Hope deferred makes the heart sick..." So it's not like we haven't been warned.
I've been toying with ideas and dreams though, which is kinda handy when dreams and plans that you just had a few months ago go flying out the window. There's something to be said for hope, and having something to grab ahold of. The second half of the aformentioned verse states "but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life". In a sense, the only thing scarier than hope deferred is no hope at all, no longing.
And part of these hopes and dreams and ideas have to do specifically with the British (possibly Scottish) church. Now, I recognize that I can only take things one at a time, and I know full well that my plans can again go flying out the window. But upon reflection, I think that part of the reason (or one of many reasons) that God allowed me to stay just that little bit longer in the UK was to change my heart towards the British church. I was very ready to go home, and get started on life back in America. I had no intention of living in the UK at all. I did feel a twinge of guilt in that, as I saw how quickly the church is dying in Scotland. I felt maybe going back (for good) to America was selfish - rooted in a desire to be comfortable, and to be a part of a more thriving, widespread, and vibrant Christian community. I don't mean to imply to my Scottish readers that the Christian community lacks life, or that it "needs American missionaries" or anything of the sort. But I will say that I looked for a good church in Edinburgh for three years and I never found it. (There are "good churches" - two in particular that I can think of, but I didn't find them til right before I left, and both leave things to be desired in many aspects.) One church will have good solid preaching and theology, and yet have dire and dead worship, and no connection to the arts or the world outside its doors. Another church will have a little life in it, and people who seem to really care, but then will have poor teaching and worse theological foundation.
Here in St Louis, I looked for three weeks, and I found it. And I know for certain there are any number of quality churches here that I could happily plug into here. And in an odd way, that really BOTHERS me. I see the need for church planting here, I do - particularly when the good churches get too big to maintain a certain level of community. But I feel like a lot of people are more willing to do a church plant or church renewal in places where they know they'll be successful. I knew a couple who left Missouri to plant a church in Atlanta. And it's now a huge, almost megachurch. And it's doing WONDERFUL things in their affluent area of Atlanta. But I'm also pretty sure their church growth is largely coming from their "jazzier" style - stealing people away from what are already GOOD churches. And I'm not quite sure that's what church planting should be about.
There are good churches in Edinburgh. And I know I run risk of condemnation when I say it, but I never found a church that had good solid theology, good worship, and who sincerely, desperately cared for the needs of their community. I never found it because I really don't think that church exists in Edinburgh. And that breaks my heart - more so now than ever before, because now I've actually seen what that sort of church can be, and how effective it's ministry could be. And I'm not sure if my heart would be as broken for the Scottish church had I not stayed a bit longer and really thought and prayed about it. (My stay at L'Abri was a large part of my heart-change.) The view of the British church by those outside it is not one of life, and it's not even particularly one of care for the community. It gives me shivers (good ones) to think of the possibility of a church that is marked by how much it is seen to LOVE each other, and the surrounding community and city -is marked by a desire to ultimately glorify God in everything they do, and that includes meeting the social and physical needs of people on their doorstep.
Of course, I'm not a pastor. And I'm not going to be one. So I can't just gather up a group of people to assist me and get started on that. (Not to imply church planting is that easy, but I think you know what I mean.) So I'm not in a position to do that yet. (Friends and I have joked that I should put an ad up in Covenant: "Single white female, looking for hot Reformed male M.Div for church planting and baby making in the Presbyterian Motherland. All enquiries, please call...") And I may NEVER be in that position. But I think it's a pretty worthwhile dream, in any case. And it's a dream that may change. But til it does, Chrissy and I will still phone each other and discuss the dreams and possibilities of it, and our love and passion for the church in the UK and Ireland.
(I'm glad I have Chrissy.)
So, hm. I had no idea I was going to go down that route when I sat to type, but there that was. Have a little bit of my dream and heart with your morning coffee. I'm gonna head to bed - it's actually getting light outside.
Not to keep being so negative about America or anything, but man...
The suburbs suck.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
America: Home of Ridiculous Signage
Every single day (that I leave the house), I manage to see yet another example of American ridiculousness in singage, usually due to the overwhelming marketing you find everywhere. (I'd honestly forgotten how prevalent billboard were here on highways. I don't think there are any actual billboards on the M8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh, once you're out of either city.)
Sunday morning, I parked across the street from church, in the park parking lot. (Park carpark sounds a bit much.) Across from said parking lot are the tennis courts, with a sign that actually reads:
Tennis is synonymous with courtesy.
This was followed by a list of rules for the tennis courts.
Now, just to be sure, I checked up on this. "Tennis" is not, in any way shape or form, synonymous with "courtesy". Now, "courtesy" does in fact have some synonyms. ("Synonym", of course, has no synonyms.) But none of them are "tennis". There aren't even any sports on that list.
Everyday, we're being lied to.
I miss Scotland. Badly.