Showing posts from 2006

The Paper Chase

These are the times that try men's souls...

Just a quick note to the friends who read that I haven't given up blogging...I'm just busy earning a living which right now means grading lots of essays, online and in hard copy. It's like being a wine taster, except I have to suggest ways to fix what's wrong and, of course, I'm not drinking. However, I hope to be done before we leave town just before Christmas. I've taken papers with me before, and this year I'm determined not to do that.

What else? Only random notes: I'm beginning to read Wright again after taking a break. One of the great questions in the gospels, and there are many, is what to make of Jesus' proclamations of judgement. I read a passage like Luke 7:36-50, the famous passage when Jesus is annointed by what is probably a prostitute. If you have time, please read that passage, regardless of your belief. You will see what drew me to Christianity and what continues to draw me. Of …

Dialogue and Dark Magic

This is a remarkable blog. Not only for its concept, but for the strength of its content. I've only been reading Soulster for a bit, but I'm impressed with his writing and his personal story which has similarities to my own. And his dialectic partner, drunkentune, shows in this post alone that he's worth the read.

As I focus more and more on the gospels, this kind of debate really isn't my strength (not that it ever was!) It doesn't mean I still don't ask the same questions I see coming from many intelligent atheists/agnostics. When I have tried to write marginally apologtic writing, I've found it woefully inadequate. If I ever get around to What We Are 2.0, I want you to know I begin by pointing out the questions my arguments in 1.0 raise. I'm not a believer in Jesus because of the moral sense in man, or because of the intricacy of the universe, or because of the argument from desire or the reality of beauty. Those are powerful facts, yes. …

Winter White

Though we live far apart, Sherry and I are writing about the same thing: snow is coming. It's in the mid thirties outside now, but a significant system is supposed to move in tomorrow afternoon and turn to snow through Monday. Our first true winter front. Cold. White. Hope my son is up to shovelling because with my back I surely am not. I always wondered what would happen if I couldn't get up at 5:00 on a snowy morning to dig out my wife's looks like I'll see this winter.

My rant below, days old, really did help my mood. It's been so long though I'm almost ready for another one! My back remains injured, probably a ligament or tendon which feeds into my hip is torn or strained, and recovery has been slow, slow. Bloody slow. I bought my Danskin ball, though. It's about all the exercise I'm supposed to do. The hard thing is that I use my back so many ways, for exercise, yes, but also for all kinds of work around here, especially in …


In blogland this is called rant. To me, it's just share. Whatever works.

My physical therapist tells me I tore a tendon in my lower back and the miracle cure Meaning I can't use my lower back in any vigorous way. Meaning no boxing, no lifting, no grappling, no nothing. Yeah, that is going to be an issue as well. I injured myself a good 10 weeks ago and should be mostly healed by now, but I've been continuing to work out, albeit on a lighter scale; to me lighter has meant rounds on the heavy bag punching and kicking, light grappling (or "rolling" as these guys keep in "yeah, he rolls here"). The problem with this is that exercise is a critical mood manager for me. It's possible I might be able to ride a stationary bike with a back support or some such thing, but most activity is out. It's going to be an emotional two months. I'll gain weight almost surely. The cardio shape I have so recently been getting in wi…

Almost Famous

I haven't had time for blog, but the quick update is:

I had a good weekend. Steph and I had company for the first time since the summer; someone from work Saturday night (ham, my grandmother's candied yams, green beans, homemade pumpkin pies...oh yeah) and then also on Sunday night as my dear older friends around the corner, my surrogate parents, came by (fondue: three cheeses, sherry, kirsch, nutmeg, garlic). Both nights were good. It was great to have S home, to be cleaning house together, cooking and having friends.

Friday night was harder.

I know a Genuine Rockstar through my wife (her friend lived with him for years and had his child); another guy in his band is a Near-Rockstar, or NR, and S went to high school with NR and still cares for him. Whenever I've met Mr. Near-Rockstar, he's been genuine and told me over and over how cool my wife is, how beautiful she is inside and out (hard not to like a guy like this). S and I have been to a handful of shows in dif…

The Mid-Life News

It's hard to believe I am middle-aged. It seems it was months ago I saw the film American Beauty and thought to myself: that guy is 42, man, must be hell to be that age. I saw that film in 2000 not long after we moved to Sacramento. I was a spry 36. Where did those years go, the years between 36, when I felt about like I did at 30, and 42, when I'm clearly past the hump?

I hope they were good ones.

This comes to mind (and this post is what I call inblog, uncrafted sharing, really) because when I went to my Dean this morning and told him I was considering seminary in four years when my son finishes high school (think how old I'll be then), he noted that he was 43, I was 42, and 'this is the age' when guys start to think about changes. For him, it meant a recent elevation to Deanship and its six figure salary. For me, it means thinking thoughts which could result in resigning tenure, a good salary (finally), and my STRS retirement.

Of course I am just thinking, b…

A Little More on Zane and Other Sundries

I wrote about Zane here, not long ago. I haven't talked to him again, but I did talk to his ex-wife today, for something like three hours. I called just to get Zane's brother's number again. Zane's brother, I'll call him Bill, called me back as we were out the door for SF, and I lost his number by the time I had a moment to call again. He was a good man, a friend as well, and someone I thought could give me another perspective on Zane.

Not content to just give me the number, Zane's ex, I'll call her Susan, wanted to talk. About Zane, about Estella my first wife, whom she saw at a wedding last summer (with Robert and two children in tow; that took some time for me to process, though I didn't write about it here; it was the first time I heard for sure they were married and had children). There was more of the same sad and dark from Susan's life as well. Her church, my old church, kicks any member out for initiating divorce barring abandonment…

What Christian Am I?

I found this quiz at Sandalstraps' Sanctuary.

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.

Emergent/Postmodern71%Neo orthodox68%Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan64%Roman Catholic57%Modern Liberal46%Classical Liberal43%Reformed Evangelical32%Charismatic/Pentecostal18%Fundamentalist4%
What's your theological worldview?
created with

I am surprised I came out postmodern emergent. This surprises me since I know almost nothing about emergent. I think I'm a liberal Episcopalian, deeply concerned with historical…

Life in the Community College

Laying on my office floor this morning (a truly comfortable way to read in my eight by six foot cell, though I am sitting up to type), I am trying to make sense of Heidegger's Dasein, which I hardly understand at all; then I suppose I don't need to understand it because I am immersed in its being-stream, and his Geschichte, which I sort of understand from reading biblical criticism if nothing else.

The question is how am I going to, at 1:00 today (and with a composition class in between) tie what little I know of Heidegger into the idea of the hermeneutic circle, then into Gadamer's idea of tradition; above all, how to contrast this with the 'conventional' criticism of the American E.D. Hirsch. (In case I sound like a scholar, all this is in fact taken from Chapter 2 of Terry Eagleton's remarkable little book Literary Theory). That the questions these individuals pose about textual meaning are genuine I have no doubt. And so I'll start here: does the aut…

Happy Windsday, Eyeore

Fall, and its wonderful wind, are very much with me.

Work has been very busy. Getting ready for winter in the mountains also takes lots of work (which I put off over the summer) and I haven't had time to write at all. I read my post below again, and feel like it will take me some time to get to What We Are 2.0 (though who knows; it was fun to write). One thing I believe is that I need an actual NT education. My conclusion to that essay is lacking without one. N.T. Wright is only one voice, and a very distinctive voice at that. I want to read Meier and L.T. Johnson; also the more skeptical critics like Crossan. Not to mention those with large historical value, like Wrede. I can't yet offer a scholar's assessment of the NT, only a personal one.

But right now I don't have time even for that. Hopefully soon, though. As I said, I enjoy the work. If I were in grad school now I already know the two papers I'd like to write: one would be an examination of Wright&…

What We Are 1.0

I dedicate this (overlong) post to my near-brother Michael, his gracious wife and beautiful baby girl.


One of my great pleasures in life is eating and drinking with friends. Dinner parties, especially, are warm and memorable times, and something I've only learned to appreciate in the last six or seven years. A good friend, a man who is nearly family (and whose family is a large reason I learned to love dinner parties) invited my wife and me over to his house a little while ago to eat and to hold his tiny baby girl! His parents, whom I love, were coming. How could we not go?

The pork ribs were excellent. My friend Michael makes his own marinades, as his father did and does, and some ingredients were easy to taste: molasses, for one, and fresh rosemary. The spontaneous genius-touch, though, which I give away on the web itself (without asking) was coffee grounds. A few coffee grounds in the marinade added a smoke-pleasure to the meat that's hard to describe.

Ah. And I b…

Comic Relief

Sitting here grading online composition essays. This is 'advanced composition,' the sophomore critical thinking course. I require a minimum number of sources for the paper, and I run across something I haven't seen in 12 years of teaching college. On the Works Cited page, let's say the student's name is Dave Smith...

Smith, David. Self. 24 Sept. 2006.

I see. He cited his own paper in his own paper. Man, that is funny. Or maybe he considered it a personal interview.

Another essay attempts to argue against Freire's banking concept of education using a film called The Island. It would help if I'd seen it, but of course, it is fiction. Real world examples are always better than hypotheticals. And Freire himself hated what he called the banking concept in education; he coined the perjorative term. One poor girl got it entirely backwards: she blasted Freire for promoting the banking concept and not supporting problem-solving education for seven pages.…

Still Working

I haven't posted in a while. Work is keeping me busy, yes, but I'm currently working on three different posts, all which are actually getting drafted. Yes, for someone who teaches writing process I'm actually trying it on the blog (in part inspired by Romy's writing).

In the short news, I'm slowly working through Wright's second NT book VOG. It takes time because he moves quickly between major theories and their creators; I want to feel centered in the material. Surely, just because Wright is brilliant doesn't mean he's always right; also true is that he is not de facto wrong just because some of his conclusions support orthodoxy, support, in fact, the view of Jesus his followers espoused within a generation or less of his death. All possibilities must remain open. But he takes time.

I sailed to the Farallones Saturday; an entire post is in the works there. And my hip is killing me. My lower back injury, apparently, has spread somehow into the mu…

Suffering on the Small Scale

Last week I left my sunglasses in my morning class. I like these glasses; I splurged and spent 35 or so bucks for them, on sale, at a sailing store. To me that's an expensive pair of glasses. I announced today that I had left them on the chalkboard in the morning class and did anyone see them?

This afternoon, after my announcement, I find my sunglasses, in urine, in the men's urinal on the same floor, around the corner from my office.

Beauty, eh.

Both classes that meet in that room (I have it for two classes in a row) have seen me working hard in the class lectures, prepared and passionate. The response seems positive. The discussions good. We haven't even had a graded assignment yet.

Sometimes the problem of evil looks awfully like idiocy.

On My Birthday

Because I am one of those with a high need to be heard, here goes:

I knew when I began grappling class injuries were a concern. Currently a tendon in my knee is tweaked, my neck has been shot for two weeks, and the left side of my lower back is pretty well wounded. I see a massage therapist Wednesday and hope for some help.

The guys try not to hurt you, but my older body is not as resilient. And, oddly, they fear my kickboxing because they've seen me work the bag. So even if I'm boxing very light, my dear 240 pound friend will charge in and yank down on my neck like a small condominum (that is the way to stop a good puncher).

On the plus side, I'm losing weight (a very little I think) and my wind is coming back. And even though I'm hurt, I love the training.


9/11 is a tough day for a birthday, but barring loving community in the next life, it's better than no birthday. I keep the tv off and read very little online news. Still, seeing just a few slides on ms…

Zane's Story

Sandalstraps and others have been writing about suffering lately. This post, so fresh for me at the moment, is my addition.

When I was about twenty and first came to the Evangelical church where I was to spend almost a decade, I met Zane (of course, not his name). Zane was bright and personable, a leader in the college group, an articulate and friendly young man. His girlfriend was beautiful in the girl-next-door way; I saw a recent picture of her on the church website and she still is. Zane was known, above all, for wisdom. He could give life-advice, and often good life-advice, better than anyone his age in a large church. He was also deeply sensitive. When I attended my first retreat with the college group, fresh from my burn-out at Little Geneva, the Reformed bookstore that drove the TULIP nail through my brain, Zane asked in a small group discussion if anyone had heard of Imitation of Christ. I said yes, he looked at me for the first time, and said, "Troy probably taug…