Tuesday, November 29, 2005

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 the last century. Innerrancy was one of the famous Torey Fundamentals published early in the 20th century. Did modern fundamentalism invent innerrancy? Not fully, though I admit I don't know the full history of church attitudes on scripture. I believe scriptural literalism was elevated in varying degrees during different church periods, but clearly the canon achieved high status early in the church's history as the oral tradition was lost and a permanent basis for faith became necessary. I have to wait for year three in EFM, church history, for the full story.

The short, obvious point I'm trying to make is that there is a very good middle-ground between verbal plenary historical inerrancy, which the text we have does not present, and faith-undermining skepticism. Many Christians now hold to this middle ground, the in-between, and I'm one of them. I know the Episcopal church declares the entire Bible to be God's Word though that is not defined; many of its scholars have adopted a rational approach to reading the library of books which are the bible. I do not believe God wrote the thing; people wrote it, moved by God. The OT is one group's religious history 'taken up' as Lewis said. This perspective is very liberating for me; I don't think I could believe freely without such a position; there are passages in the OT which tell us more about the writer than the Creator; others which stand out as the finest religious literature I've read.

For example, I was stunnned as I read the story of Isaac's near-sacrifice in Genesis. Having heard the story as a child, I thought I knew it, but I didn't know it. Its religious power is overwhelming; its foreshadowing of Christ's sacrifice awe-full. It's cold, unwavering command of obedience and subsequent deliverance powerful eucastrophe, to use another Lewis term. The only thing I know that comes close to Genesis is Sophocles' Oedipus and Oedipus at Colonnus, and yet those plays, wildly superior to anything in Homer or Hesiod, stand outside the Redeemer tradition. Oedipus is laid low by Apollo, and only after long years of blind despair is he allowed to enter the God's presence. He is his own sacrifice; there is no substitute.

But I'm drifting.

I simply want to mention a middle ground altnerative to fundamentalist literalism. Why? Because such rigid adherence to every line of scripture enhances bigotry, hate, exclusion. Oh yes it does. We don't keep the Mosaic law anymore, us carnitas eating Christians, but we dredge one or two up when necessary. Women are kept out of public ministry because of explicit commands St. Paul makes to specific churches, but then he also orders women's heads to be covered in prayer, their hair to be uncut, and marriage to be avoided, if possible, since the escahton was imminent. We ignore some of his particular directions, but not all. Why do we insist on keeping some of the OT and epistolary commands? Why has James' letter been remembered for its strong language about doubt and the tongue (and the tongue really does wound) and not for its heavy-handed warnings against favoring the wealthy, even against having wealth?

I wrote a paragraph trying to answer that, but I deleted it; I need to think about these things in my own heart.

Rejecting literal scriptural inerrancy does not mean rejecting inspiration nor does it mean rejecting the supernatural; it certainly doesn't have to mean rejecting faith in Jesus. I know when I come to the gospels I may find it daunting, trying to understand each evangelist' point of view and wading through the swamp of gospel criticsm. I'll get there when I get there; hopefully my faith survives and is strengthened as it has been from reading Genesis and the EFM content. But just because Paul's letters become just Paul's letters doesn't mean they don't contain revelation from God. Faith, hope, and love. What higher religion do we need when these are placed in Paul's Christian context?

I've probably said all this before, but it's a position which is solidifying in me as I find there are alternatives, rational and faithful alternatives, between innerrancy and disbelief. Rejecting innerrancy does not have to lead to the radical revisions of Crossan or Spong (and they get press here only because they write for a popular audience).

Allright, off the soap-box. Thanks for letting me share.

Be well all. Love to each.


Sunday, November 27, 2005

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 ministry in some form; the believer in me thinks God is calling me into some greater ministry. I figure if the latter is true, he'll keep calling. Yes, I have tenure, a wife in grad school, a son, and I've never ever considered dumping my tenure for any thing. I don't know what form increased work in the church would take; I could stay a professor or not. But I know that something has been knocking for a while and is still knocking. My gifts as I see them: teaching the essentials, writing (sorry if my blog falls short), leading, empathy. Don't know what all that stacks up to mean. Appreciate prayers from those who pray. Life is short and death is long, eternity longer still.

Love to all


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Thanksgiving

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 has self-destructed, or nearly. I'm very sad and even pissed. I've had attrition like I've never had f2f or online. I suppose, considering my workload, this is a good thing! But why do I get papers for a research essay with no works cited page, no in-text citations, no research at all! What the hell do these students think is going on? So few of them took the last paper seriously, at least the research component; it's disheartening.

Let the D's fly. Bite me.

I hope the other class does better.

***

Today is one of those long days home alone, still getting over my cold and with a solid headache (I never get headaches) to top it all. I feel stranded. The collegue I mentioned above, what will I call him? How about Richard, as in Dawkins? Richard and I have been talking about how too much time online, including teaching online, can foster depression. If I was in a cubicle doing this, getting ready to go to lunch with the people from across the carpeted aisle, it would be different. But time alone, online and alone, it's a tough combo. I notice I only have a two day a week schedule next semester and the semester after. I tried for 3 days down but couldn't get it. Of course, I could always drive the hour to work just to work from my office. Hopefully I'll find other creative solutions.

All I know is right now my feelings are very intense. Intense and not positive.

***

On belief: I'm convinced that two people can look at the same intellectual evidence and one choose theism, the other atheism. This is in part because the evidence is incomplete; there must also be other, deeper influences. I know modern skeptics generally believe reason is on their side and this is superior to faith; oddly enough, many theists beleive their position is based on evidence and will point to the faith involved in skepticism. But truthfully, we are talking about either non-quantifiable, often unobservable, very personal phenomena; or the 'outside' evidence for God, the classical arguments, which involve data as complex as the universe itself and rely on the reasoning capacity of mankind, who remains very much locked in the material as he reaches toward the transcenent.

Two things I will say: one, is that just because aliens aren't real, or out of body meditation, or the fact that walking under a ladder has nothing to do with my car wreck later in the day...humans can be credulous beings...this does not preclude religious truth. Maybe, credulous and desperate as we are, we are still somehow found by God. Just because some things humans believe about the non-material are false doesn't mean everything humans believe about the non-material is false. Naturally, since we're talking about a mortal, material beings postulating on the transcendent world, there will be lots of error.

Without that Transcendent somehow reaching out to us it's hard to imagine we could find anything concrete. Christians believe Jesus was just that portal; reading the Gospels (the most apologetic, as in persuasive, of all documents) it's hard to believe the 'historical' Jesus didn't believe himself to be unique in just this way.

Two (yes, one was way back there) Christians can't write off rational reflection of the facts we can see: our world appears materially perfect, biologically imperfect. By this I mean natural laws seem to proceed without much error, chemical and physical reactions are predicable. But in biological Nature, even though the complexity of Life is astounding, to say nothing of Mind, things die, sometimes without chance. It would be nice, as one columnnist noted in this month's Scientific American if penguin egg shells were thicker so that some penguins didn't fall off the parent's feet and crack and freeze (I didn't see the movie, so excuse any error). Perhaps then we'd have too many penguins? Okay, how about a process which allows them to reproduce less effectively but have better viability in the shell? Things suffer and die. Animals eat each other. We eat animals. Humans suffer and die.

It is quite possible we evolved via natural selection without any overt divine intervention. Our existence remains an astounding, shocking fact. In one real sense, the laws of our universe are no less miraculous when they aren't circumvented by conventional miracle. But terrestial biology is not what we'd build if we were divine minds, is it? We'd allow for no suffering, or minor suffering, every creature gettings its fair chance.

God isn't human. If a Creator made the universe as we currently perceive it he is quite a Being indeed, for the universe from a human point of view is very large, very energetic, very complex. Yet atheists as well as theists make a similar error if we assume the cosmos is made just for humans. The size of the universe used to cause me to doubt God. Why make millions of galaxies just so that human beings could evolve on one pitiful planet? But I was assuming that the universe was made just for us. We can't know God's mind regarding his creation. According to Jesus, though, we can know God's mind regarding us.

We're fucked up. Whether apparently accidental suffering in the human and animal world is a product of some primeval human transgression or just the way the world has developed...pain does have some self-preservative results after all...the empirical fact is humans hurt one another unecessarily with expert regularity. Some of those hurts are little, some big. Some unconscious, some quite intentional. Many of us also long for something bigger than ourselves to tell us how to stop wounding, how to live and act correctly. And, for some of us anyway, we long for forgiveness, catharsis in the true sense. Jesus promises both and eternal life as well.

Is my faith in this mere wish fulfillment? Only if it's false. Simply wanting something, even a very big or improbable thing, doesn't mean that thing doesn't exist. And for me, it comes back to the gospel record. My scholarship isn't what it needs to be on the gospels though I'm trying. When I read any of the four now I hear the Voice. A Voice which promises some of what I really need and some of what I don't want at all; a Voice which self-exults on every page; a Voice which claims supernatural authority to heal the blind, the lame, raise the dead; a Voice which claims it came back from the grave, driven by Love and obedience to the Father, for me.

Do I always believe that? No. Do I ever utterly not believe it? No; it has not been disproven to me since my (re)conversion in 2000. But while actually beginning with Jesus is one approach to Christianity, it seems the right one. Skeptics often attack theists with such impact because we aren't willing or able to really let go of our faith for anxious days to look at things from their point of view. I do that against my will, or so it seems to me. The result is that I believe it is possible to be both Christian and skeptic. To accept what science can tell me about the universe (and what it tells me keeps changing as it explores) and to evaluate the Voice in my inner person can happen concurrently. I agree no set of rational arguments will convert someone to Christianity; our faith touches a deeper part of the mind, but our faith is also born, many times, alongside reason. They are not mutually exclusive. If I ever come to believe they are, I'll have a very large problem.

***

Stupid to say it, but this is all I have time for now. That's the great thing about blog: Everything's a Draft! That would make a nice title for this blog, actually, better than the one I have and don't much like.

Love to all and Happy Thanksgiving

Friday, November 18, 2005

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 plans online, of course. The 2x4 framing is almost done and next we just have to pick the shelf wood and nail it in. If these turn out, if they actually hold books, I'll be quite proud.

3) My brother and his beautiful family are coming up for Thanksgiving! This is cause for huge celebration. The Last Homely House has been missing them for some time. Especially the babies! A four and one year old. How cool is that. My four year old nephew asked me if we have any bears up here. I figured he was scared. What he told me was 'you know you can walk right up into the hills, take your gun, point it at the bear and shoot him down.' I don't have any guns, but what a cool kid.

Love to all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

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 author. Or at best, somehow fill the author's mind with perfect word and images, keep him from any error whatsover. That would be great. It didn't happen.

The first 11 chapters of Genesis are ancient mythic history, with obvious Babylonian influences, adapted to the One God of Israel. That's it. It's high religious literature, no doubt, with a creation story more powerful, perhaps in its own way more true, than most, but also a God who gets angry, regrets, fails to see the future...the point is I'm begining to believe I can look through the human component towards the divine as revealed in Christ. There was no world wide flood; snakes don't speak; the earth was not made in six days; languages did not spread from the Tower of Babel (probably a narrative about an abandoned Babylonian settlement). Yet, the Creator moves behind and through these ancient myths, and as someone who has read a fair share of creation and pre-historic myth (the tiny portion which has survived into the literate era) I'm impressed with the J view of human nature (J being one of four posited sources in the Pentateuch). Did human nature fall from a state of perfection or evolve into the obviously imperfect state we currently observe?

I don't know; I wish I did. But even if we are evolved animals we are very different from the animals, more different than some seem to know. We have conscience, and we violate it; we know guilt. In an odd way the fall from eden could be about the birth of the human mind, the shift from animal to spiritual/reflective consciousness. I really can't answer any of these questions.

But so far, EFM has been helpful, blasting through 11 chapters of the bible which are widely misread as actual history (if the earth wasn't made in six days, why would God write it that way: God didn't write it that way, humans wrote it based on human sources and God invested/integrated himself into the narrative). Well, a few thousand more chapters to go.

I told my friend on the voicemail that sometimes my spiritual journey feels as though I'm swimming in a large body of water at night; I know I'm exerting myself, I half fear drowning. But as I gasp and flail, am I actually moving or am I only caught in a current or is there in fact no shore I press to?

I want to use my gifts for God. I read about Andy/Sherry's sense of guidance into Young Life (at Portrait of the Artist, link to your right) and I'm envious. My life feels so much more complex and difficult. But is that the only reason I want to use my gifts, for personal comfort? A better answer would be design. I want to do what I'm designed to do, what feels most right to my inner man; not dharma in the true Hindu sense but in the new age american sense. Purpose.

"When I run, I feel his pleasure."

Like that.

And while if I were at a Baptist church I might already be teaching (and would that be so bad?) the one thing good about my current sitch is that I get lots of time to work through these things before I might even someyear get the chance to use any public gifts. It is my hope and prayer I find the internal, mental change I need to serve God with all I have.

The person I helped move eight or so months ago is out of prison and I actually met him. He seemed like a nice person, and he sent me a winnie the pooh card expressing sincere thanks. That means more to me than a hundred pleasing literature lectures where I look bitchen cool swank smart. I hope and pray this man remains well. Perhaps I will never do anything greater for God? I hope I have the years left to discover the answer.

***

And now for something very different. Take off your shoes, friends, I have removed mine. I didn't know if I should write about this, but I alluded to it in another post. Why not? Once I share this, my possible glimpse of the palace through the fog as in Till We Have Faces, I'll have to remember it happened. Remember, I am a bitter and relentless skeptic.

I hate the Iraq war; you who read know this. Several families in my parish have been impacted. I've seen a woman, a mother, coming to church with a picture of her son in uniform on the pew beside her, in anguish for his safety. I've talked with another woman whose son has been in both persian gulf wars and has been changed.

About a year ago a family came to church with a boy (boy, really) in uniform. I didn't know any of them and I've never seen any of them since. He was going to Iraq and they were asking for prayer. The boy stood at the front of the church and the family gathered around. Then the deacon invited any others who wanted to come and pray for him to do so. S and I got up right away, not because we knew the boy but because we hate the war. I went up with others and placed my hand on someone's shoulder.

As we began praying for him I felt a warmth settle onto my shoulders. It felt like a blanket, a warm blanket, and I thought someone must be behind me, laying right over me, less than an inch from my skin, about to put his arm on me. I almost shrugged to gain personal space. But no arm landed. I kept my eyes closed, praying as normal, while I felt the warmth and weight. When I opened my eyes I realized there was no one behind me. I was at the outside of the circle. I am almost certain there was no person there at the time, though I admit I didn't whip around and stare.

I have never expected any such thing and have no reason to know why it would happen that day. I've had other, much more spiritual experiences, my own confirmation for example, or witnessing baptisms, or taking communion, or the service at advent. This was unexpected, unexplained, and unrepeated.

I don't even know who the boy was.

I would like to find out, though, if he went to Iraq, if he made it back or not, if he feels our prayer made a difference for him that day. I've never told anyone of the experience. It was quite physical.

***

Well, there. I really must go now. I don't have any explanations for the sensation. But it was quite real.

May God show me greater realities yet.


Friday, November 11, 2005

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. Could this rhetorical intensity, class consciousness, be leftovers from a person who was actually raised with Jesus? Maybe so.

Allison: yes, Romy rang my bell also. I emailed her with personal thanks when I read her comment. Lots and lots for me to digest there. The example of the saint struggling with doubt, sitting at the atheists' table, of Jesus' own agony in the garden...very potent and much appreciated.

***

The mountains are chilly this morning. I'm trying to save propane and sitting here in the great room with the woodstove going. Once it gets cranking it will heat this entire area to over 70 degrees. That, though, can take hours. I think I'm up to 62 so far. Not bad. Mostly heat left over from last night's burn.

The semester is slowing down for me, or I feel confident enough in my classes, know my students enough, not to berate myself so for being behind. It's all getting easier, and the end is in sight, even if a couple hundred essays still wait between me and that end. Christmas is coming. The great Advent. My favorite holiday and one which hits just after my grades are submitted and I throw on a sweater and begin looking around me for the life I left behind in August.

The spare time I have today (it's a holiday and I'm not driving to campus) I'll spend working around the house. A full blog morning, a longer post, would be nice, but I have to get ready for the carpet installers. One last little piece of hardwood floor to finish. And my muses are silent. Maybe because my fingers are still warming up.

Heartfelt love to all

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

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 He existed, yet Russell admits in the first volume of his bio that he shut all feeling from his life to pursue his academic work; he left his first wife and moved through many women, four wives included, and by the end of his life still had not found peace. He was stymied by his relationship failures. Looking from the outside, it's easy to see where he closed himself off to affectionate feeling, to love and closeness and the acceptance of the imperfect, a being who could hurt him, and pursued sex as recreation (not that loving, committed sex isn't fun). Perhaps his spiritual strife can be seen the same way.

I know that when Russell wrote his famous "Why I am not a Christian" essay, it was a deep disappointment compared to his other work. It's personal bigotry, almost, a long way from any thorough, terminal argument. A mind of that caliber. Choosing doubt. I've seen it other places. I can respect the atheist who has really tried, who has closely studied the gospels and other world religions and sincerely searched to find the historic core, more than one who writes off faith out of pride or lust or arrogance or greed or out of a weak understanding of the scope of science. The latter category is legion. It's true many reject or abandon faith as a result of sufffering, personal and corporate; that is a position I can respect more, but then again, many have suffered intensely and clung to their faith as they were flayed to piecesm, literally or figuratively, and not just Christians.

Then again, those who believe without much intellectual search are also numerous. Perhaps here is the puzzle: the mind is at best part of the solution, if it is any significant part at all. I'm not ready to toss analysis of my faith, and I have to trust that my two year study of the bible in my EFM class will yield something different, God help me, than what Julia Sweeney got when she took a bible class at her church.

Julia Sweeney used to play the androgynous Pat on Saturday Night Live and is now known for a play she wrote and stars in on her own "beatiful" loss of faith. A few years back, after going through a personal loss she prayed to God, a God she knew from a Catholic childhood, and felt emotionally healed from her prayer. She felt she ought to get serious about the church after this. That sentiment led her back to the Catholic church where she attended a bible class of some kind. After reading the old and new testaments she decided, according to her by using reason, that God did not exist, and the bible was clearly not divine. Now she describes herself as an atheist, and one who believes she has investigated her lack of belief with scientific methods.

Perhaps she has.

I admit I haven’t seen her play though I have read at least two interviews. One, with sfgate.com, is posted at her website. I do cringe when she says, “You know, like Jesus was angry a lot. When he turned all those people into pigs and made them run off a mountain, it was so hateful, not just to people but to pigs. I felt upset for the pigs!” Okay. Even the interviewer doesn’t question that original pericope. Jesus didn’t turn anyone into pigs. And if, in fact, he cast a bunch of demons into a herd and they ran off a cliff the least of my concerns is the welfare of the pigs; I’d be much more interested in the reality of the demonic and his power over it, even if it resulted in dead animals. I'd note the incredibly positive change in the demon possessed man. I have heard this famous story explained in natural terms: the crazed person(s) ran wild into the herd and the pigs booked off the cliff in fear. That may be what she believes but it's not what she says. To blast Jesus for killing swine or supernaturally cursing the fig tree so that it withers (as she complains about elsewhere)...is his anger alone evidence of narrative fabrication or embellishment or his own non-deity? If we take part of either of these stories, namely Jesus' anger, as genuine history we must look seriously at the rest, the supernatural, or it makes more sense to toss the narratives out as complete fiction. And on anger, who said God, as man, wouldn’t be pissed walking around this planet? Finally, what about the many, many pericopes where Jesus heals suddenly, dramatically, leaving a jubilant, grateful, supernaturally whole person, without anything dying. She takes two stories out of all the rest and focuses only on these. This is scary. It shows a blind side in an otherwise intelligent person. But then, I haven't read her play. Perhaps she has more to say.

I don’t bring Julia up because I think she’s an unassailable voice for atheism (though she does raise some fair questions and I respect that she has tried to think about her beliefs at all). There are stronger voices for doubt out there. I bring her up because I fear ending up like her, taking a bible class and losing my faith. Because even if Julia seems to have her facts off, there are some weird things in the bible. How to read it is something I will have to learn. If I let go of the inerrant proof text word-of-god model, this should not lead to textual nihilism; it hasn't for Lewis and many others I have yet to read. My priest says we have to have discernment, but what this is exactly I don't know. I admit I'm hoping for answers from scholars. I pray the Holy Spirit works also, because if in fact Jesus did send Him to us only He can open my wounded mind.

On another note, the author of James is strong in his letter: he condemns me as a double-minded man, unstable as the sea, because I ask in doubt. But he claims to have seen the risen Christ. Hopefully God will provide grace to someone who not only hasn't seen a miracle (though one or two things remain puzzles and I have yet to share them here) but who has searing issues with trust and intimacy and the singular problem of thinking too blasted much about very small things.

Ah, the end.

I'm always grateful for those who read. Many thanks again.

current mood: not bad, slight anxiety but generally content
current music: Mozart's 25, the little g (napster rocks)
current wish: to be done with grading and to have a good night's sleep
constant wish: to experience God and be closer to my wife and son

Friday, November 04, 2005

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 core issues. So, I often can't think calmly about apologetics or the nature of scripture or any other real questions I have. Instead, I obsess about these things, which is a guaranteed hamster loop and scary and painful. Same disease, new branch.

Thing three: Our carpet is now at the installers but the freaking glass closet door that is supposed to go in first and that we ordered two months ago is still not at Home Despot. This really pisses me off. We paid for it and were told 2 to 4 business days. I want that room finished! But then, the book cases we were supposed to build in are not even begun because I have to go into the attic and peel back the insulation and screw in blocking and I have zero time for any of this. See item one.

Thing four: After a great morning yesterday my emotions just tanked being at Mikey's basketball game (why? and yes, right now he's playing both sports) and then I felt more tense as the day went on and even after working out in the evening I was unable to sleep. Took unisom or some other antihistamine. Now I'm wasting time online and wondering: would it be better for me to actually work during this time or take an hour off and do this and then work when I get home, maybe after starting dinner? Ooh, I like that idea. Also, hopefully, Mikey's football team will lose in the first round of the playoffs tomorrow and his season will finally be finished. But this may be a fifth thing. Five things Friday.

current mood: exhausted and tense
current music: the Jupiter
current wish: to kick the crap out of some inanimate object and then go to sleep

Thursday, November 03, 2005

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 hot...life 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.