Sunday, October 31, 2004

Halloween

It's been a rough week. I'm so busy I haven't been reading other blogs, let alone posting to them, and there is so much crap going on at work right now...I know it will all work itself out in some sense, but I don't like the uncertainty. It's an issue of mine: I like my life to feel stable. But I'm tired, physically, emotionally, even spiritually. The strongest feelings about my job are gradually diminishing; I feel them less often and less intensely. But they're not gone. And my serenity is blown to snot. Things don't feel good, don't feel right. I don't feel close to S. This whole mess sucks. No matter what, they way I experience my job and my dept. have changed. I will have online classes fall 05 but probably not the next spring. And then I have to wait around for someone else to roll off rotation, three semesters probably, or try to add further sections. It makes me angry that the few of us who want to teach online are being restricted.

My district, I've found, is pushing online more than ever. But when we, and I was one of those involved in this, brought it to my campus we wanted each department to have control.

ohmygod, Rudy Guliani just called, or his recorded voice, telling me to trust my current administration; I told you it was a bad day.

Anyway, at my college Deans can't schedule online apart from department approval, and that approval comes slowly and in increments. I used to believe in that model, now I'm not so sure.

Could I have presented my case better? Sure, but these people are smart; they know what's at stake. I'm still more angry than I thought. Two faculty went to lunch with me Thursday, it was so beautiful, and tried to talk me into staying. I appreciate it, and I know I'm still in over react mode, but I wish it was all over and I had closure. Then again, closure almost never brings true closure.


I've tried to make the best decisions in my life I could; I've worked hard to build a life for myself. And ocd has kept me from experiencing much of that life. Things were so much better until this whole mess at work started.

***

Oddly, things at my dinky church are improving, a little. More people are attending though they are still mostly older. I still think our rector is clueless, though sincere; this is sad, and I'm hoping my perspective, and his ability to relate to people, both become more generous. I am doing a bit more work via vestry. It feels like a good time for the parish, or the beginning of one.


The wind is beginning to move in the trees a little. It's warmed up to about normal temps. since our snow; highs in the fifties or sixties, crisp nights. The dogwood in my yard, which always changes later than most, is turning. These are good things.

I have more work to do, and I need to go. I'm still stuck in blogolescence; I don't know if I like having such an open blog for all I have to share. But at this point in my life I have time to consider.

Gosh I miss having a meeting. That's the biggest hardship of being up here. Perhaps I can find one down the hill? God help me to find one. But I'm not doing the footwork, I'm not looking. God help me to do the footwork.

current mood: I'm tired
current music: U2/unforgettable fire (in response to scooter's link this article here)

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Keith Green

I'm catching up on work now that the initial shock over the work stuff is over. And as I have napster, somehow I ended up listening to the old Keith Green albums. I saw Keith, just weeks or months before he died, at the Long Beach arena. I was 17 I think. And my brother, who was churched before I was, had one or two of the albums. My high school girlfriend, who sang in a catholic guitar mass, was a big fan.

And you know, his music, his lyrics, really are astounding. He had such intensity; he saw his faith in sermon on the mount terms. I like it. His constant calls to service of others are so impressive.

The fact that he died at 28 with two of his little children, leaving his wife, a baby, and an unborn baby behind, is incredible to me. He wasn't martyred; he just died in a stupid plane accident. If I remember right the pilot overloaded the plane. Keith wanted to take his kids on a plane ride and the plane was too crowded. Of course, only the pilot could have known that.

How tragic. How unexplainable. I can't find meaning in it. There isn't any. And it conflicts with any belief that God somehow has a plan of events which governs our lives; it seems anyone, including Keith Green, really is vulnerable to accident and disaster. How could God leave behind his poor wife after all they had done for the Kingdom? I have no answer to that.

The first bible study I was in at an episcopal church was a great group. There was a truck driver in our group, no advanced education, not a reader. And his take was, 'if God has a plan, there's no way any of us could understand it.' I have to agree. That would be true almost by definition. But our feelings, our losses, our griefs remain. Why was James beheaded in Acts, and Stephen stoned, when Peter was rescued? No idea.

But Keith left behind an impressive musical legacy; it still touches people, even me. I'm no expert in Christian music, but just sitting here listening I think it would be tough to find his equal in his generation, or since.

And you know, S hadn't called me like she usually does when she drives home from campus (her university is an hour away, and she walks to her car at night!) and the blog was scaring the pee out of me. I have separation anxiety still. She just called though, and I'm going to make he a grilled cheese and tomato soup when she comes home. How luck am I? I'm alive, and I still have my family. Mikey, though he is slowly becoming test-boy, competetive, cocky, sports driven (girls, oh my gosh, around the corner) is still a sweet boy. He still gets that look in his eyes he had when he was a little boy sometimes.

Well, I have to finish my work before S comes home. Peace to all,

Troy

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Gods of Winter

The department vote was a complete failure; I wish I had waited until the next meeting. At least our chair is recommending a subcommittee meet to discuss rotation issues. It takes pressure off her and allows for discussion. Good. I did email and say I needed to speak to her; if I have no online next fall my schedule will need some adjusting and I'd like to be in on it.

But I am very sad. I feel like I've been through the worst of it (though if I end up driving five days a week, even the four I'm hoping for, there will be more to get through). I feel more serious than ever about tranferring campuses, but I won't know if the campus near me gets their English position for a few days at least, maybe a few weeks. And then it's like applying for a new job, almost. But maybe I've said this already.

S is undergoing her interview right now to get into the grad program in psych. I'm sure she's doing well, but she's very nervous.

And to top off my feelings of powerlessness, I got stuck in the snow this morning. It actually ended up being an adventure, but getting stuck, with a line of cars behind me, was not fun. It was on the uphill. The plows hadn't been through and we had about six wet inches. I drive a Subaru, but my tires need to be replaced; we replaced S's yesterday, and I was hoping to get by a couple months. It is such a helpless feeling sitting there spinning in the slush, and what makes it really poopy is all the people who drive by in SUV's, unstuck, who have tudes. Some old timer in a huge pickup with monster wheels drove by and actually told me out his window, 'it's just as bad up ahead, you'll never make it if you don't have chains.' This sounds nice, but it wasn't nice. He spoke as if I were a flatlander, caught out in my tercel, choking up traffic for everyone who lives here. MY CAR DOES HAVE AWD D*CKHEAD AND I LIVE HERE! Or so I wanted to say.

I saw a CRV in a snow bank (at least I didn't lose it that bad) and a Jeep Grand Cherokee stuck on the uphill the same way I was. The tow truck was there (even that guy said to me, 'how long have you lived up here?) pulling out the CRV, and they gave me a courtesy tow to the top of the hill. Well, they were going to come back and AAA me to my house, but while I was waiting for them show up and take me home the plow came through and I followed him. The street I live on still isn't plowed; I can't go to work until it is. But I managed to get above where I live and sloowwwwlllyyy drive/slide down to our driveway. I even got all the way in the driveway. I'm impressed.

If they don't plow soon, say by noon, I'm awol at work today. Kind of ironic. Even the English department defers to the Sierras.

Mountains do what mountains do. The wise man folds himself into their glory, sleeps when they sleep, wakes when they wake, inhales the breath the sky lays down on such favored ground.

Could I ever leave such a place?


Current mood: fear becoming serenity drifting towards a translucent ecstasy
Current music: mozart/die zauberflote/overture




Before Sierra Storm


cold air lifting up the hill tonight,
Orion’s white span,
fall drops thick around the house—
black oak curls and fades,
the dogwood flickers pink,
luminescent, like embers
fragile on the ash bed
in the morning.

songs shape so quickly here.

the throat relaxes.

two cord cedar bucked, split, stacked,
its tart scent dust and cold,
weathered and expansive—
the earth outside my window
waits unmoving for the rain,
the heavy wet to come, flail,
hammer into gullies, streams,

the broad and rivered sky.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Lunch Day

I just came from my informational lunch with two faculty who work at the college in my district up the hill. It felt like a two hour job interview; they way knew why I was eating lunch with them. It went well, but I'm exhausted. They are trying to get a position for next Fall; they want two, but will probably get one. Of course this wasn't an actual job interview, and I would have to go through the whole process: paper screen, faculty panel interview, presidential interview, blah blah blah.

I was so nervous guys. I woke up at 6 this morning. I don't even know if I want to move my job up the hill; my college, in most ways, is a better college. But it's so damned far! And I still don't know what's going to happen with my online classes.

Much about living up here has been good, like the seasons, Allen and Reeanne (a good friend's very hip parents), the woods. My church is getting better, but it's someplace I have to lead and not be led (at least in part). I still feel lonely and am working on ways to feel integrated. I have a good therapist but there are no meetings. I love our house but we have no garage. The cultural shift is so vast. Turning mountain. It's a process.

At least I don't have to make any quick decisions. In some ways, they knew I was interviewing them, too.

***

More rain is coming this weekend; we actually had snow a few days ago, though it didn't really stick. But white fat flakes. Tonight I take Mikey down to the airport; that is such a long drive, about 80 minutes each way. And I've already driven a half hour down the hill and come back up. But I can sleep in tomorrow!

Midterms to grade this weekend, on Marx's manifesto.

***

I want to get those little animated gif emoticons that describe my mood. If anyone knows where I can find those post a comment and let me know. In the meantime...

Current Mood: drained
Current Music: Sublime/40 Oz. to Freedom

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Small Talk

It rained all of the last two days, snowed a little this morning, and now it's just gorgeous wet and cold. We were just below the real snow level; up higher, like Tahoe, they must have gotten a couple feet or more. In October. Intense.

I sent out an email to my whole department sticking up for myself and my point of view; I felt like the argument was viewed as, 'how can troy keep this killer schedule he has at the expense of others' instead of, 'the only way to treat online comp. classes fairly is to let the full-timers teach them if they want!' Fact is, there are as many challenges as plusses to my killer schedule. Like today, I'm home alone much of the day, working solus.

Remember Jerry McGuire and his manifesto-memo? I feel like that. I'm afraid to look into my email inbox at work. And I realize just how much skill it takes to manage a political issue on a campus. I know others who are much better than I; my greatest attributes are stubborness and tenacity; I have the courage to disagree openly with people, but I don't like it when they're in my department as opposed to some other division on campus. In a few weeks I'll know more. And I am not nearly as distraught, panicked, as I was when this thing began. I have options, including commuting four days a week for a few semesters if worse came to worse. But then, if that happens, I'll probably move campuses. And even if the battle isn't won this semester, it could be re-examined every semester after, or every year. As more of us go online, hopefully the situations will improve, but not necessarily.

Today Mikey finds out if he made the basketball team, or it's first cuts at least. He isn't tall, but he's a good player and played last year. Fingers crossed for the little guy (who is slowly becoming less little). He still has his sweet heart. I'm hoping the pending testosterone flood doesn't change that part of him.

I've been catching up on my online classes all morning. It's cold in the study; time to read maybe. S and I had cheerios with little banana slices for breakfast; it was pretty good.

Be well all.

t



Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Late Show

Tonight is one of those nights I'm having trouble sleeping; my wife got me that sleep cd, which really helps me relax. But it's sitting in my car and I probably haven't used it in two weeks and I just feel antsy. When my turning wakes my wife up, it seems better for both of us if I get up for an hour or two and then go back to sleep.

Things are crappy at work. The meeting Tuesday went poorly, the e-mail vote sent out later, even the meeting minutes: my vision for online got blended with my desire not to drive four or five days a week (and these things are not completely separate). Anyway, I don't know yet, but I could end up without online classes as soon as next fall. And no matter what happens next year or even the year after, this department does not feel the need to keep my teaching in the internet aether. Plenty of other colleges, even one in our district, staff many more sections than my dept. is willing to do. And I'm hurt, and angry, and sad.

I know I am making a choice: I could drive down four days a week the semesters I don't have online. But frankly, I miss being more active on the campus. I miss attending events, campus forums, the kind of thing one can do when one is there four or five days a week, and when one lives closer. I have a meeting on Friday with a faculty member from another campus in our district, half the distance from my house, and I hope this goes well. Right now, I'm leaning toward lateral transfer to this college, but that is like applying for another job. I have to have the support of the department I'm transferring to, and both presidents. I would appreciate prayer over this. Before the meeting Tuesday, the one that went so poorly, I prayed and actually asked God that his will be done; somehow I felt like that was the thing to pray for. Well, the meeting didn't go the way I wanted. Does that mean it was God's will? I don't know. But now I am feeling very scared.

I know it will all work out, even if I have to move back to the valley (blech). But I'm hopeful things might look brighter up the hill. We'll see.

Bottom line is I'm anxious and was hurt by a couple members of the department I didn't think would hurt me. Oh I am angry with them. And yes, all this has increased my general anxiety; it was laying so low for several weeks. I guess that is to be expected.

***

In spiritual news: I began writing my response to Schweitzer, ended up on the miracle question, re-read Hume...there's simply too much. I believe it will take me years to wade through the alternative 'gospels' should I continue to do so. I do want to know the truth; I need to know it. But I can't handle German higher criticism, Crossan, and myth studies all at the same time. I believe God will provide me the answers I need if I humbly and heartfully seek, but not all at once. More uncertainty. I don't like it. Still, the article is coming; more than one. I have things I need to work out on paper. Christian faith in the age of critical thinking and skepticism...it is a challenge; some things in the faith need to be worked out, and have been in many circles. The Adam/Eve creation myth for example. That account is clearly a literary myth. Did Jesus believe it? Impossible to say, but you see, I'm beginning and I'm not ready to begin.

Some people count sheep...

I did get a couple books on the episcopal diaconate from our deacon. They are interesting. I really don't know if that's where my gifts lie, but I'm curious. I can't imagine myself a priest or pastor in any denomination. It would be fun to be a Christian academic, but I'm getting a little old for all those new degrees, and that doesn't seem like what I want either.

I think of C.S. Lewis (no, I'm not saying my goal is to be him) and his simple, though often beautiful, solutions to theological problems. A genuine lay writer. And for most people, he's enough. He was plenty for me once. But when I read the writers he was refuting, writers he often doesn't even mention, it feels like his exquisite mind didn't have all the pieces to the puzzle it should have. Lewis was an English professor, deeply read (in a way almost no humans are today, even academics) in the mythic-literary history of the ancient world and the west. But he wasn't a theologian as he himself notes. And sometimes his solutions, while often excellent (I still find his essay on scripture in Reflections on the Psalms brilliant) seem bumper sticker simple to me. This doesn't mean he wasn't right, but he did not get as close to a problem as I like to, as modern critics do. Science has shown us how close we must look at the test tube when it boils. (Of course modern theology is often drastically creative; almost none of its hypothesis can actually be tested).

But when I let go of verbal plenary inspiration, when I see the Bible as a collection of books, written (and chosen) by humans, though influenced/appropriated by God for a single purpose: the presentation of the Christ; when chapter and verse no longer settle all debate for me...ah, you see, the gray door opens and it stays open. I have to admit there is so much I don't know, that no one on this earth knows. Sometimes I just wish I could take Psalm 23 and speak that to myself the rest of my life. But there are many chapters in the Bible I couldn't do that with. True verbal inerrancy makes as much sense to me as physical transubstantiation. God's presence is Real in the wine and host, and in the scripture; in both cases he is accessed through faith; but the host remains simple bread, the bible a collection of religious literary artifacts of various genre, some written centuries or millenia after the events they describe, some only a few years or decades later. In both testaments these books are covered with human fingerprints. This is what makes Jesus' words stand out so starkly. He may not be represented perfectly in the gospels, but what we do have is the record of an astonishing individual. If God ever did visit this earth, Jesus is a prime contender, maybe the only one.

Liberal (and I wince at using this term) critics like Crossan try to go back, deeper than the nt record, to a Christianity before Christians. They argue that what we hve in the gospels and epistles is already fantasy-riddled myth. This idea too will have to sit for another time. Whether one can deny the resurrection and the miracles, and most of the teaching of the nt, and still call oneself a Christian as Crossan does...that's another question too.

***

On a final note: I did my exposure tape a few times over the last couple weeks and had a hard time concentrating because so much other stuff is going on in my head. But I need to at least be doing breathing/relaxing exercises to lower my anxiety; I'm so worked up over work I can feel it in the muscles of my body. I was slacking big time on my exposure work when I was feeling well, about two months I went like this. Not the best idea. I need that work, as scary as it is, for myself and my family. More than I can say. Pray for this for me too: discipline to get down and do it, and psychic healing as a result.

Night guys. It's now almost 1:00 and I am feeling sleepy. Soon I'll go to bed and hopefully actually sleep next to S. Be well all,

t





Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Schweitzer's Historical Quest, Beginnings (Uncle Albert, .05)

On the personal front, the meeting today in English resolved nothing. There was no vote. And issues came up I hadn't considered. Let me tell you, I know who my friends are though. Some gave eloquent defenses of my idea. One in particular, didn't. Time will tell what I do and where I teach. I meet with faculty from our mountain campus later this month; that's 30 minutes from my house, or less.

I need to begin addressing Schweitzer (for my own mental health). I'm sitting in my office hour, and this seems like a good time. This post is 0.5 because I have introductory comments to make before I get specific.

***

First, so many Christians recommend Schweitzer's Quest for the Historical Jesus! It's true, he notes how various 19th century scholars made Jesus into a historical persona they felt comfortable with in disregard of any respectful historicism; from what I know of the Jesus Seminar (writing now, long after Schweitzer of course) I also see this criticism can be applied to them. But what else is in Uncle Albert's tome! I think of Yoda's words to Luke Skywalker when Luke says he is not afraid: 'oh, you will be, you will be.'

Schweitzer's book is the place to start when approaching 19th century German higher criticism; it is my first close up exposure to this material. The author also covers nearly everything which had been said about the historical quest up until the book's publication in 1906. And Schweitzer, drawing on Reimarus and Strauss and others, has his own vision of the historical Christ. It is blatantly anti-supernatural, and it is intelligent and formidable. I haven't met a challenge like his yet. And unfortunately, I haven't found myself able to set him aside, simply not find my own solutions. I want to know whether Jesus is God or whether I will rot in my grave without conscious sense. For me, this means looking closely at Schweitzer's position.

Schweitzer sees the gospel Jesus as a product of myth production; the miracles, clearly, never happened. These are ruled out by him a priori, meaning so far, at least, he hasn't tried to defend his belief that miracles are impossible; he takes this for granted as a principle of science and history. Hence, the miracle stories (in general) are not exaggerations of natural phenomena (one critic he cites declares that Jesus 'walked' on water by treading it) they are simply myth productions, untrue stories invented about a great man. Schweitzer cites Strauss, one of the most significant of the higher critics, as the first to make this inroad.

If the miracles didn't happen, what is to be made of the teachings of Christ? His self-exaltations, his belief that he held a unique role in history, that his death had substitionary meaning and that he was returning to judge the world? For Schweitzer, Jesus was simply wrong. I don't think he could be called crazy, but he was deluded, incorrect, about his role in history. Even if well-meaning. Schweitzer, citing Remaurus, believes the oldest strata in the gospel material is eschatological in nature, focused on the end times and on the parousia, or the second coming. He believes Jesus thought the parousia was imminent, more than once, and that he was wrong.

All this deserves a response, but there's more. I had no idea how heavily the gospel of John came under attack in the 19th century. I've never understood why other people prefer other gospels, though I know they do; me, I'm a gospel of John kind of guy. But the criticisms which have been laid against its authority are many! This is whole new issue for me. I've looked at the synoptic problem a little, enough to feel comfortable; I am just getting to know the Johannine criticism. One thing at a time.

The problem of the parousia is an ancient one. It goes back to the very first Christians. My solution has been to say that those Christians, including Paul, were wrong; Jesus was not coming back right away. But why were they wrong? Where did they get this idea? What about the things Jesus himself says? C.S. Lewis actually threw in the towel on this one and said Jesus had no idea when the end of the world was coming; this is a possibility. There's even a verse where Jesus says so. But the problem is thicker than that.

Again, one piece at a time.

One thing I'll say at the outset is that Schweitzer really does choose which parts of the gospel he finds authentic. He goes on and on about Matthew 10:23; when I first read that verse I got so nervous I took a nap. But there are other ways of looking at that passage. I'll get to this, but Schweitzer denies Matthew was written by an apostle or eyewitness; it was composed later using several sources. Huge portions of that book he completely dismisses, but that one verse, oh, boy, that is his proof text that Jesus was deluded about his second coming on earth. Though it is missing from the other synoptic accounts, he beats the drum on that verse for pages. But the Matthean virgin birth, the feeding of the multitude, the resurrection in Matthew, all corruptions. By what standard?

And there I will have to begin next time.

I need to write about this, I really do, for myself. For my own faith. I pray about my doubt, and I don't know what much else I can do. My priest seems fairly academic and may have ideas. I do know that the next book I read will be by an academic Christian who is supporting the gospel record. I owe myself the balance.

t

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Blogness

When I read Symposium with freshman (I should say freshpeople) we talk about Plato's theory of forms. That somewhere, in the non-material world, a perfect chair exists (along with every other perfect thing); one which has all the attributes of chairness and nothing extra. His theory of perfections is quite powerful, and echoes of 'ness' or essence show up in unlikely places, including native american creation myths: in one a woman from another world leaps into our own, and on her long falling journey towards what will become our earth, she is accompanied by essences of beaver, turtle, and waterfowl. Not the actual creatures, but their non-material essences.

Why this lengthy intro? Is it because teachers, no matter what level, can't help be didactic? Probably, yes. If I taught kindergarden I'd tell you to pull out the nap mats now.

I am trying to discover, what is the essence of blog for me? As I look around at other blogs, those 'outside' which I find either through links on other pages or simply by clicking the 'next blog' button at the top of my own sit for twenty minutes, I am finding some pretty accomplished blogs. Many more loopy ones clotted with bad japanese animation or adolescent writing (from non-adolescents) but some very snazzy ones too. And a few things come to mind:

One, I want to update the look of my blog, even though scooter and I were thrilled ours looked the same when we began (they still could in the future). But I learned some web design when I was in long beach, and I know I could personalize this if I took some time. For example, check out this site or this one. If I had a site that looked like these and was browsing via 'next blog' I wouldn't even look at this page!

There are also some gifted writers out there, people who are using blog to actually write, like tequila. Not that we don't write, mind you, but some people have actually gotten famous for it. There are contests and awards. And this feels very odd. Most of what I find is life story anecdotes, told well, often poignant or funny, with solid dialogue thrown in. But blog as competition! That's something I hadn't considered.

I've also found out such a thing as a private blog does exist, and what I have now is not one. Livejournal will let me post entries which can only be read by those I've given permission. So I could give everyone in the 'family' access to my personal material and add people as new relationships formed. I'm thinking about this a lot. Anonymity, up here, is an illusion, and though I hope my blog can someday help someone I don't know, I'm not sure it's healthy for me to share the way I do in a public forum. Some people really do blog out of desparation, like this girl. I would never post to people I don't know, of course (especially kids) but I lurk. What a word that is. But how far can I go in my personal transparency? Clearly, some lurk here, or will.

And that's just the nature of blog. Smart bloggers know this, accomodate for it; some thrive on it.

So how do I separate my sharing from my, uh, homiletic explorations? I don't know. Writers like tequila, craft; not just blog, craft. If I decide to craft, what do I craft? There's something squirrely about self-publication online when the material is serious; you know how many bad poem blogs are out there? Yeesh. Running into one of those is like sipping a clorox martini. My college district has a creative magazine for faculty; the writers who are truly publishing are never in there. Why put poems in that little rag when their work is accepted places like fugue or the southeast review or ploughshares?

As I've shared before, I write about theology because I have lots of questions to work out, and I actually to talk about those ideas. I can't do much of that in my classroom; so far I don't do it in my church. And frankly, I don't know of any magazines or journals I could do that in. I share my personal material up here because I need a place to talk. I live in a small town in the woods, and even after 3 1/2 years up here I'm still trying to build relationships. Is an open weblog the best place to do that?

These are questions I have to consider. I don't want to lose contact with funkiller or scooter or chameleon or anyone who reads my life, but whether I'll keep one fully public blog going for all of it, that I don't know. What I want blog to do for me, that I don't know. But if there's one thing consciousness gives us, it's time to think.

Be well all. S is all the way down at the airport picking up Mikey, and the wind is blowing so hard in the mountains I'm surprised I still have power. Better quit while I do.




Friday, October 08, 2004

No Good Title

I'm home from taking Mikey to the airport; S worked all day and works tomorrow and is already asleep. I always worry when Mikey flies; the security seemed a little stiffer tonight, and then Mikey told me: Gray Davis was on his plane. I heard some people talking about someone famous, or something, but even though I waited in line with Mikey to board I didn't notice Gray and his bodyguard. I was reading Uncle Albert. How funny is that?

And right now I must recommend two things: social distortion and port. I can't believe I missed the first two social d. albums; I only knew the radio hits. The music is so excellent; it's not punk; it's soulful, clear, heartfelt rock. I almost said boy or man rock to contrast with girl rock, but that sounds strange. A sad commentary on our society, I think, that it does.

And port. I am sipping the Graham's ten year tawny we got from Costco. Truly, port has long been my favorite wine, and I've been in love with many wines over the last eight years. If I were stuck on a desert island...I'd choose port if I could have only one alcoholic drink. Well, if I were stuck alone I might choose gin, but that's a sad thought. I believe C.S. Lewis once said that if physical happiness were all that was required from life, an unlimited supply of port would provide that. Great idea, but geez he was a bachelor.

Port, which is a sweet wine, usually comes from two places these days: portugal, where it's called oporto, and australia. Some good ports are also made in california. I realize only wine from portugal is truly port, but this is one designation I spread around. I wouldn't do it to a french wine, but I, and most of the wine industry, does it with port. We have cabernet ports from napa and tawny ports from the aussies (and how sticky sweet those are) and true ports made with the unpronouncable portugese grapes. Port comes tawny and ruby, which refers to color, and both rock. Sip slowly, savor; the bottles cost more but last longer. An easy to find port is the Warrior; also the Six Grapes. Or from down under, the Clocktower or Galway Pipe. Oh, if you have never tried these wines, you will be happy.

Enough of the fun. I've had a hard couple days, and I don't know why. This Tuesday comes the Big Vote in my department: will we add more online classes or not? If not, I will be in a bit of a jam, but I'm hopeful. Some in the dept., at least, agree with me. I get egotistical sometimes, I confess, on the inside at least, when I campus politic successfully. How silly. The fact is I'm scared to death and appreciate quick prayers. If I have no online classes, it will certainly impact my family. And it would be hard not to take it personal, though a rejection on this issue wouldn't be personal.

Tomorrow a buddy is driving up from p-ville and we're going to install the range hood to go with our new range; new ranges and dishwashers also rock. We replaced them when I laid the new floor in the kitchen.

(Pretend a transition comes here) I am told that addicts, alcholics or habitual drug-users, become emotionally frozen. In simple terms, if I start drinking every day when I'm 19, when I sober up at 50, I'll have lots of 19 year old emotions to deal with. At least I have been told this by more than one recovering addict. My humble belief is that ocd works the same. The ocd curtain, when it lowers over the mind, doesn't obscure all processing of feeling, but it does waylay much of it. My curtain began descending in grade school. I've spent 20 years now trying to find who I am, trying to release the rage and hurt, and I know the worst is behind me. But it hasn't been until this year, when I began doing exposure work, that I began to really get open vistas (not that I don't cloud those again with other thought cycles, theology for one, but this is ot the same as clinical obsession).

And I feel like I missed so much, as if high school passed me by; I was living out motions but not thrashing through the turmoil of adolscence. I was in such denial, and those still rise.

My anxiety has been hovering over me the last couple days like a Valkryie, but I did my exposure work today and I'll do it tomorrow, and hopefully Sunday. It has worked so well sometimes I don't even feel the need for a week or two or three. That is a great blessing. The second greatest recovery blessing of my life, perhaps; the first being the slow withdrawal of the death-hugging pain of my major depressions. (My greatest overall blessing, incidentally, besides finding Christ (and that will show itself fully in the very long term), was finding a loving wife and son when everything in my history predicted another desparate lover. The kind of girl social d. sings about.)

So I have mood swings. I'm not bipolar; I'd know that by now. But my mood, like my faith, takes large sweeps. Sometimes I feel angry for no solid reason. Or I want to just jump around and yell. Or I feel anxious. Or sad. Or deeply self-critical. I was in despair, briefly, over my snoring a couple weeks ago. If felt so terrible about it, like I was a horrible person for putting this distance between S and I and I was going to have to sleep in the spare room with the effing dogs and all that. And you know what: I put that prayer up on this blog, and S had me try a different pillow, and I nearly stopped. I am dreaming like crazy now, and feeling much more rested in the day. Thanks be to God. I'll take it while it lasts.

But I do believe my feelings still move heavier and quicker, at least in part of me, as they do in teenagers. Or maybe everyone is this way. I don't know of course. Certainly I'm not the only one who blocked out adolescence or childhood pain and has to face it later.

Now I am getting tired.

Uncle Albert (Schweitzer) is not what I expected. He needs his own posts, of course, but here's a guy who denied the miracles of Jesus, the resurrection, more than one huge chunk of what I think of as the christian message, essentially what we call the gospel, and yet he writes about Jesus' spiritual power and how it still has force today. And then he trots off to Africa, in response to the parable of the rich man and lazarus (though I heard this and didn't read it yet) and spends most of his life working as a doctor with the poor. He lived more charity than I ever will, but couldn't accept the supernatural nature of Jesus. This makes Albert very intriguing (and Albert is just easier to type than Schweitzer). More on him as I read more.

I suppose I should wrap up. I'm sleepy and it's getting late. Great to reach out to all of you again, even if I was all over the place. Peace and sweet dreams,

t


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A Rose By Any Other Name

Chameleon asked where the new title comes from: truthfully, I was experimenting, seeing if changing the title of the blog would change all the page headers. It doesn't. The only way to fix it would be to go in and tweak all the html, I guess. Don't know if it's worth that.

And what is hymns from the wood? Well, it's kind of silly really. There is an old album by jethro tull called 'songs from the wood.' I've never even heard it, though with napster I think I might just bring it up. Hang on....

Ooh, this begins quite pretty. I was never really a tull fan; they were before even my white-bearded time. But I enjoy this opening track. Kind of Bach-like, kind of Renaissance.

Anyway, I write about my faith up here so much I thought hymns from the wood would be better than songs, as I do live in the woods! My house is surrounded by towering cedars and white firs, the occasional dogwood and black oak, but mostly big, tall trees. So, hymns from the wood. For now, I guess, it will stick.

I've been working a lot lately; I'm still not done grading all these online essays! There are many things I want to write about: Schweitzer (Uncle Albert deserves more than one post), what to make of the adam/eve creation story (this is very challenging to me), the eucharist/communion, those are the three that are in my head right now. But not this afternoon. Maybe tonight.

The situation at work is not resolved but looks hopeful. I'm doing all I can and I do have allies, but it will come down to a department vote, and I will have to be slick as Dick (Cheney) next Tuesday when I present my idea.

****

I find my faith alternates between a sense of truly finding myself in the community of the church, in the direction and mission that provides, and at the other extreme, floundering in panicked states of doubt. That 's just how it is for me. Maybe how it's always been. That's why I love this blog so much: I can take those panicked doubts and work them out on paper (is this paper?) and it helps. And I do try to ask Jesus for help whatever state I'm in, but I'm still not very good at this. I wrote sometime way back that Christianity was reliance on Christ, and I believe it; but that's a reliance I'm still learning. I don't like to rely on anyone, frankly; though I do feel as though I'm moving forward and not sitting stagnant. The Christian faith is more beautiful than any religious system I've studied (though of course it has its darker side in practice). I am quite convinced that either Jesus was the legitimate emissary of God or no one was. There are things of value in other religions, but only one Jesus. And either, as Schweitzer argues, he was sincerely mistaken in who he was (and all the miracle stories fabrications/naive exaggerations), or he was telling the truth. There are no other options I find tenable.

Ah, you see! I'm starting already and I need to grade essays. See you all soon.

t