Showing posts from 2005

Three Things Thursday (again with bonus)

1) I discovered M.I.A. and her album Aural listening to Napster's top 99 of the year; besides one song I hate, I think this thumps. I'm pumping it through my computer sound system (including the Boston subwoofer) while I grade. It's techno-ish and not for everybody, but every little bit helps as I slog through the stacks of blue and white papers.

2) A very good friend of mine, the great Mike D., is coming to town tomorrow and this is very cool. For several years now we've talked for an hour on the phone every week, shared really, and any f2f time is greatly appreciated. Plus, he's bringing wine from my favorite shop.

3) Sorry to get serious, but my break with fundamentalism is becoming much more defined. It has taken me a long time. When I hear some people talk about 'biblical' principles for things like parenting I get queasy. I'm most upset about corporal punishment of children right now, James Dobson and Solomon's tragic legacy to well-me…

Eucastrophe 1.0

after the last post my mood dropped, hard and fast. Talking about Robert, even after all these years. I know I haven't told that story up here yet in full, but I will. It's not an easy one to tell.

Being home alone all day (I drove to S's work to bring her dinner just now) and the semester ending...often tough for me emotionally. I started getting anxious, a little obsessive, some depression. I knew why, especially when I talked to S about it just a little at her work.

Why do I mention it here? It helps me to do so for one thing. But also there is the bright news. Just a few minutes ago an older couple in our EFM called to ask us to dinner at one of the best, if not the best, French restaurant in my county. I've been there three times, once for my fortieth birthday (which was my last time there). The wife asked if we could go and I hesitated...'but it's our treat!' 'What did you say?' 'It's our treat.' Wow. S and I are complet…


Plodding through final essays before Christmas...reminds me of 'slouching towards Bethlehem.' I hope to be done by Friday! Maybe sooner. The last week I've done nothing but vacate, and it was sorely needed. Yesterday, in fact, I snowboarded. In keeping with a typical post for me, my story is as much about the animal Fear as it is about the sport itself, but it's a tale I'd like to tell.

I never skiied. (Is that the past tense of ski?). Well, once. Growing up my parents didn't have money and neither of them ever imagining skiing as far as I know. I was never on snow at all until college when I went with Ironsulfide and Scooter. You know the stuff people tell you when you don't ski or have any gear: yeah, just scotch guard some jeans, wear my old gloves, you can rent in town for cheaper, you don't need a lesson.

You don't need a lesson.

It was actually later than college when I went because I was seeing Robert and I'm sure I wasn't l…

Three Things Thursday (Bonus Edition)

Thanks to Sherry as I steal her idea for today. Also for Funkiller's pasta story, which inspired me too.

1) S and I had a wonderful talk last night; nothing momentous, just sharing feelings and thoughts from the day even though it was late (we had EFM) and we should have fallen asleep; the kind of talk we don't get often enough. She told me a day or two before that her definition of a healthy relationship was one that is restorative. Ours has always been that at one level or another, and it is becoming more intimate with every season that passes. We're growing up, funny to say, slowly getting close despite the fear and anger, learning to identify and gradually change learned unhealthy patterns...restoring each other. Her work with children (she's interning as part of her hours to be a therapist) is changing our life at home. Thanks be to God, who never ever abandons his children in life or death. Selah.

2) I've decided I don't have to worry about Ehrman&…

Wednesday's Child

I wanted to respond more fully to Victor's well-written comment below, but it will have to wait. Briefly, the idea that mid-life spirituality derives from disillusionment with media is very interesting. My own story is that I've had a lifelong obsession/interest/fascination with religion and I wonder how many other factors enter at mid-lie: awareness of mortality; diminishment of physical beauty and to some degree, appetite; in the West, financial leisure to ponder...the list is long. Victor deserves better treatment than I can give now; I may be able to come back at some point. I have ordered the recommended film.

And on suffering:

Driving to work today listening to "Fresh Air" I heard Bart Ehrman discuss his new book Misquoting Jesus. Ehrman is a "happy agnostic" who began as an Episcopalean, became a fundamentalist/literalist, and then, after studying ancient languages and NT manuscripts, gradually lost his faith. He now teaches at Chapel Hill Ehrm…

Tuesday Recuperations

I think of all the huhu made over Million Dollar Baby, all the money and awards, and I can't understand how 21 Grams made so little money. It's the best film I've seen all year.

Further kudos to the older film The Ice Storm, which we rented a few months ago. We've been working our way through Hitchcock also, and he's good, but good for his time. His technique has been surpassed and worked into later, greater films.

Still love Finding Nemo. Fish does phobia exposure work and rescues son.

I saw my doctor yesterday. Great idea. Antibiotics and some really good cough syrup. I feel much better already! And my lungs sound good, nothing but bronchitis.

Back to Billy Budd, the reading for tomorrow's Am. Lit. class. Reading all that Patrick O'Brian has helped me understand much of the naval background I missed when I read Melville's novel in college.

My copy of the book is so old it has a mail in cigarette offer in the back.

Love to all

Hack and Spit

How's that for a blog title? Before I begin, many thanks funkiller for noting him it took two years to build an arbor in the backyard. My kind of pace when it comes to construction projects.

Bronchitis, I'm told, runs in my family, at least for my father's mother. Both my father's parents were dead before I was born so I can't verify this firsthand. I've always been prone to chest colds, dry hacking coughs, especially in dry air, and after I had pneumonia at 30 (which I got over quickly, reading Margaret George and floating in the codeine), I had bad bronchitis the year after that, an even worse case my first year up north...coughing so hard I passed out on the living room carpet of our valley townhouse. Since I moved to the mountains I've had only mild to moderate chest congestion, nothing like a real bronchitis, until now.

Two weeks of slow cold virus seemed to drop into my chest like smog and stones last night and I was up at 4 hacking. Yes, I need t…

Morning Note

A full, beautiful morning to just hang out. I need these. M is in so cal with his dad; S is working. Tonight is her company Christmas party and since she also works a 12 tomorrow we're going in for the quick appearance tonight; eat and run.

It rained so hard this week for several days. Now the sky is blue and the ground clean, some frost overnight but it's warming into the thirties outside as the sun rises.

Here I am with more time to blog than I've had in weeks and nothing to say! It's unbelievable, but healthy. I'll eat breakfast, do some online grading, read more Madame Bovary (the most artistically perfect of all novels perhaps) for the Honors class, and, maybe, work on my bookcases which have been neglected for weeks and consist of nothing but 2x4 framing, the oak plywood waiting to be cut for plates and risers. I got enough finished for the new carpet to go in, and now our spare room is inhabitable, minus that filthy blue dog-ruined decade-old carpet. H…

The In-Between

Home today reading, rain non-stop for the last 30 hours, the long headcold still clotting my head. A good session splitting wood day before yesterday, craving any kind of exercise today but too sick and the weather too wet to come up with anything. Catching up for school: Madame Bovary; and EFM, more than two weeks behind, Abraham and Isaac.

Sick headache. After nap mouth taste. Mikey home from school, walk from the bus wet, watching ESPN and asking me silly questions more beautiful than my home or career:
'Troy, why are mini-bibles orange.' Talking about his 'real' father; amazing to me everyone gets along after nearly a decade.


EFM is awesome. For each section of the bible we read there is accompanying text, easy to read but touching on scholarly issues, not just regurgitating the story; critical, rational, also faithful. I love it.

I know the modern focus on innerrancy is a reaction to the higher criticism, skepticism, some of it Christian much of it not, of…

Three Things Sunday

As usual, I like the three thing format but feel moved to express myself on another day. Consider me to hold a liberal blogology

1) sorry for the typos in the post below; it was written in two pieces and I need to clean it up; since I've apologized I'll probably leave it with all its typos and lay weaknesses; lay apologists get their butt kicked sooner or later and my time will probably come; doesn't mean I won't get up and learn from the experience

2) I found an interesting article here on Intelligent Design; the way ID is described in the media I considered it a waste of time and insisted on the term teleological argument, bettter, teleological question (though I'd read Paul Davies years ago) but this link HERE reminds me the jury isn't in yet, if it ever will be

3) I am experiencing something which could be described two ways: the skeptic in me would say that I have innate abilities/characteristics which will only feel fulfilled with increased church min…


An atheist colleague of mine discovered my blog by walking into my office while I was working on it; as a fellow blogger it took him two seconds to read my url. He's a good guy, a friend, and he's welcome here. We've been doing some emailing back and forth about theism in the few minutes either of us calls spare time right now. He's well read, it seems, in anthro and I assume the modern skeptical lectionary. Fair enough. But this blog is also about my feelings, and those are coming up right now in one of those hard days.

I've been open about how hard this semester has been. I have all new courses, the only possible exception being my composition classes online. I've taught comp. a hundred times, but never online. Trying to build those classes and teach them at the same time has, frankly, been impossible to do well, not while staying caught up in Am. Lit. and honors. It's been a sucky term and I want it to end; soon, it will.

One of those online comps…

Three Things Thursday

Okay, I admit, it's Friday morning and I'm too honest to roll back my blog calender and date this Thursday; in my heart it's Three Things Thursday.


I found the originator of Three Things blipping through blogs. Then I lost her! I can't remember the name of the actual blog, but in honor of the tradition I blog on.

1) I think I'm getting sick. My wife has been sick for almost two weeks and the stress in my life, plus the proximity, may be leading me down the sickie path. My throat is sore and I'm calling in to work. In some ways this actually feels good; a day to catch up, read, REST!

2) I have been building built-in bookcases. I have books that have been in boxes since, well, truthfully, at least since 99, some maybe since 92, but I'm not sure. The new unit is taking up a whole wall, eight feet by twelve. This is very new to me. I'm not a handy kind of guy and it takes me lots of thinking to do something like this for the first time. We found …

In the beginning...

Another busy week. I'm taking out a few minutes to write only because a friend left a voice message telling me how much he appreciates reading the blog. Considering how infrequently, and quickly, I post I was moved to hear he takes something from this in his own spiritual search. Enough to take out a few minutes to talk about what I'm learning in EFM.

I would love it if the OT were an inerrant, god-rich ethical masterpiece. The text doesn't support this. What it seems to be, at least what Jesus thought it was, is a collection of books which outlines, which prepares for, his personal salvation. It's a record of various individuals' experiences with God, and sometimes tells us as much about the person writing as the God the author is reaching toward. Many religious conservatives believe in both the sinful mind of man, even his utter spiritual depravity, and yet hold to an inerrant Bible. How could this be? God would have to dictate apart from the mind of the …

Morning Thoughts

Genuine thanks for the wonderful comments on my post below. All cause me to think, more importantly, to feel, to reflect perhaps, on my spiritual life. I will hang on to what the three of you said.

E: for what it's worth, I did read James, a couple times. I don't have the benefit of any scholarship, but three things stuck out: one, it's a collection of sayings strung together, almost epigrams; two, its constant defense of the poor is comforting. The author was very concerned with social class and the spiritual elevation of the 'brother in humble circumstances.' Three, he uses hyperbole. The passage I quoted below does seem to be about Christians asking for help in times of suffering; ask in faith, James says. Then he dismisses those who don't have the faith. But he says other things, just as strong and directed at believers, other places in the letter, examples which would include us all at one time or another. This softens his comments for me a bit. …

Evening Thoughts

Sincere thanks to all the kind comments on my previous post. Today I did take out a few minutes, maybe five beautiful ones, to watch the sun set from a hill on the way home; the sky in the foothills is so gorgeous a few hours after a front moves through. Sunday I cut and split much wood, an 80 foot fir tree that dropped behind my neighbor's house. These were both good suggestions.

As far as obedience as in Chambers, I'm a bit stumped. I don't feel like I'm engaged in anything I shouldn't be, except the usual candidates: fear, worry, self-pity, obsessive criticism of others...those things are so part of me that slowing them down actually takes positive input, looking at a sunset or chopping wood.

Could it be that God simply wants faith from me? I don't know. I think of Bertrand Russell, the brilliant 20th century mathematician/philosopher. His autobiography, incidentally, makes compelling reading. He felt God didn't give him enough evidence to prove H…

Four Things Friday

Okay, I think I'm supposed to do this on Thursday but I needed some reason to post four things:

Thing one: I'm hitting burn out. Too much work, not enough play, projects backing up around the house and school of course and truthfully I feel like not even logging into my online classes or coming to my job. Since I'm not drinking to 'unwind' every night I'm really feeling it. I need to rent about twelve episodes of old star treks or ab fabs or kung-fus and lay on the couch for two days. The sucky thing is I can't do this, at least not yet.

Thing two: My OCD plays a role in my faith/doubt distress. I don't know how faith works in the mind, but it's a different part of the mind, one OCD likes to shove into the dirt. OCD is a response to awful emotion, yes, but often fear: if God's not real, my faith is fake and I have no heavenly father or eternal life; the abandonment and cold betrayal inherent in this shift in world-view invokes my freaking co…

True Fall

It's in the low forties outiside, rainy and dark; yes, fall has finally come to the Sierra. We won't get snow at my elevation, but it will be cold. I'm huddled home with the laptop, wearing a turtleneck sweatshirt with the name of my college on it, the wood stove humming is good right now. I even worked on a long blog post this morning. It's coming soon, it's theology heavy, but good for me to write.

I have to take our car in for an oil change at 11:30. Better bundle up. Days like this I don't ever want to leave the mountains, even with my drive.

It feels so good to feel warm and relaxed. Steph took Mikey to school this morning and let me sleep in a little and it was such a beautiful gesture as I've been taking him most days this semester. I have school work I should be doing and will have to get to, but I've decided I'm not paid enough to work as hard as I've been working. I'll do what I can.

Be well all. More soon.

Happy Halloween

I went back and fixed the spelling errors (I hope) in my post below. I think it's good for me to produce such imperfect blogs, but the English teacher in me reels and when I spot errors I spruce up!

I won best costume at the party Saturday night. I did not have the best costume. In fact, I wore Mikey's costume, a giant afro, funny gold sparkle glasses and a big money sign around my neck; huge adidas shirt, baggy blue sweats with a white stripe and his air jordans. Yeah, I was funk guy, or something like that; we didn't know we could go until two days before and I had to hurry. Steph was a goth. If I find pictures on the web I'll post a link.

I think I won because of the way my wig bounced back and forth when I was shaking Manhattans. Or maybe it was the Manhattan's themselves. Whatever, I got a bottle of Clicquot as a prize. And I stopped drinking early, before food and dancing. I appreciate both my caution and concern for my health.

Our friends have a …

My First Episcopal Funeral

I attended my first Episcopal funeral yesterday. It was for a woman who attended the service at church I attend. She was 70 though she looked younger. I didn't know her well but still found the time very sad. We recently installed a columbarium so her ashes were inurned (I think that's the term) right in front of me. To see a little gold box, it looked almost like a gift box, six by eight inches perhaps, and know that all that used to be an entire, smartly dressed every Sunday, red-headed woman with a lovely british accent is now inside that tiny was chilling, frankly.

The service was so beautiful though. At the end, after the priest put that little gold box into the columbarium and tightened the screws on the face plate with a screwdriver we read the final piece of the liturgy, something like 'even at the graveside, we shout alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.' So many times I think of Christianity, church, my faith, as something which helps me now, i…

What Friends Are For

Just a quick note to say thanks to all my blog friends; their names are mostly in the margin at right and my handful of loyal readers know who they are! Great minds and hearts, all.

I'm in blog limbo again. I haven't had time to work on my posts much or even to post much, and I'm afraid I'm getting too English teacher specific. It seems that all I've been doing the last couple of months is read for my Am. Lit. class (and yeah, it's kinda gross that I'm teaching the course and am reading some of the content for the first time, but hey, I do my best and it's only 27 bucks a unit). Since all I'm doing is reading and grading papers, up here I talk about books, mostly.

I haven't been in many of my friend's blogs but I'm trying to catch up.

Thanks, Scott for telling me to turn on that funky letter looking verification thing; suddenly I see that everywhere and I was wondering where to get the code. It was just a radio button; thanks Scoot…

I think I should read the rest of the novels

Apparently my Harry Potter alter ego is Harry himself; I always did like his disregard for convention and innate sense of destiny. According to the quiz, "You can be a little reckless and hot-headed at times, but a more brave and courageous friend would be hard to find."

I find this a little uplifing today.

Last night after my very happy post I ran out of time rushing to EFM and had Del freaking Taco for dinner; S and I got in a pretty big conflict, again, and have only partly patched it, and then I couldn't find my truck keys this morning so even though I telecommute today I'm stuck here as far as errands and taking Mikey place goes. That last may not be a horrible thing as I have tons of work to do (and am taking just a little break here).

Fighting with S I freaking hate, though.

And on an even darker note. I found out last night at EFM that a woman I knew in our church, someone very vibrant and healthy and about 60 or so, died of an aneurysm in her aorta this week…

Badger's House

I found a very good article HERE on the American side of the Lewis mythos. It's worth the time to read.

The one thing the author doesn't address explicitly, but would probably agree with, is that Lewis' work often holds great appeal because he, somehow, baptized his child-imagination, baptized it into the world of Christianity but also the world of adult reason. His children's books, like his adult books, are about ideas as much as they are about children. And frankly, most of us would rather read theology in narrative form, even child-narrative form, its breathe is so much warmer, than dry rhetoric.

I admit in my arrogant soul it used to be bother me how many adult Christians loved the Narnia books. I loved them too...when I was a ten. But there's no reason why adults shouldn't be nourished and nurtured there (and no reason why, when I have a little time, I shouldn't go back and read them myself). Yes they are books for gradeschool kids, but then Lewis…