Showing posts from 2007

Eight Songs (from Chris' Blog) 1.0

I am so happy to see my name (alongside the dashing Brian's) at Sandalstraps, I cannot resist the opportunity to respond: what are 8 songs that have been important to me, had meaning or impact?

I have interpreted 'songs' very broadly, and I know Chris will not mind.

1) Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (especially the famous Ode to Joy in the final movement).

If there is a finer melody in western culture besides the Ode, I am not sure I know it. I have known this music for many years, and while my appreciation of classical music is very pedestrian, two times in my life this particular piece of music impacted me come to mind: The first was when I was hospitalized, before this blog even began, for a vicious inner ear infection. I had the spins so bad I could not open my eyes for a week, and I spent three days in the hospital. It was, quite simply, the sickest I have felt physically in my life. Because my wife works in the hospital, I was given the private room, the one use…

Merry Christmas to All

Okay, so I'm a few days late, but as busy as we've been (grading essays in between holiday dinners and family guests) I must note, it really is the thought that counts.

Christmas Eve at the Episcopal Cathedral an hour from here was simply amazing. Great music, great crowd, great sermon...everything. Another reason to consider moving down the hill in the future.

And while this is not my first post on BDM's new book Everything Must Change, I will say I have begun reading it. There will be much to talk about! I cannot wait to truly dig in...after the second of the year, when my grades are in (they are due then, so they will have to be done) and my brother and his wonderful, wonderful, wonderful family head back home to the warmth of so. cal., then, I promise, I will finish the book and begin posting. The issues raised already are profound: on one hand very simple (though often misunderstood), on the other, quite complex (even more often misunderstood). All of it is drawin…

On San Joaquin

If I ever wished for time to blog on an issue when I had no time, it would be the vote taken recently by the Diocese of San Joaquin to leave the ECUSA. I find it an enormous tragedy, though less a tragedy than the attitudes which have driven the vote. As I may have said, the church in So. Cal. which took my wife and I in when we were unmarried, when I was divorced, and nurtured us spiritually has also left the communion, although as an individual parish.

It is time for my blog to grow up. The Brian McClaren assignment is proof for me (or maybe I'm the one growing up :) ). My brief rant on inerrancy below is utterly inadequate, completely non pastoral, and the kind of solipsistic outburst one finds, oh, in Eliot's The Waste Land. It is true: I cannot believe a reading person who puts sufficient and genuine energy into studying the Bible can affirm it the "Word of God" with the meaning the Bishop of SJ does, or turn to its writings, selectively, for proof-text ind…

Brian on Deck

True to her word, my friend from NY sent me a free copy of Brian McClaren's most recent book: Everything Must Change so that I can review it on my humble blog. Have to say, without opening the book, I like the title :)

This is the busiest time of my semester, and I will have to climb out from under stacks of papers on Emerson (read a very good one today comparing E to punk rock ethics), Hawthorne, Bacon and Plato. But when I do...reading and commenting on EMC (I plan to do more than a simple review, of course) is the next thing on my list. As I told Anne, I am deeply honored, touched and encouraged, and hope to earn the purchase price with the work I put in here (I am not being paid any money, of course, as this is really a very humble blogship).

What is most fascinating is that I have not read a line of BMc. Not a line. I heard about him when this blog was new from Dave T. I was rather shocked, as a Christian newly returning to church of any kind (and faith of any kind) to…

Rant Addendum

It is so, so, so, good to hear from you FK. Yes, I am supposed to call you, and yes, I keep bloody forgetting to do it at a time when you would be home (i.e., the's always daytimes, like now, I'm sitting around working from home). But you are on my list, brother. I miss the few times we had before you moved, and hope your children and wife are all well.

And Doug, you know, thanks. It seemed at first like a little commercial, but your site is useful and interesting. And I would agree with some of those who post there, the Great Christians series is far from my fave...but it introduces me to Christian history I don't know and stimulates further reading. I want to read St. Anthony and the sayings of the desert fathers, and the rule of St. Benedict, two things I would not even be considering if I hadn't heard the course. There is a stress on the development of personal spiritual experience, and I need to hear that very much; the successful Christian lif…

Mountain Living Rant

Funkiller has been very transparent on his blog about the difficulties of relocating from so. cal. to the PNW. My heart goes out to him. This is one of those days, one of those times even, when I am sitting here at home alone and thinking "why the HELL did we move to this dinky town an hour from the nearest real city?"

Wife and I know we are going to move down, probably when our son finishes high school and (so the plan goes) trots off to college. He is a sophomore now, and I know those two years will go fast, but I must say, while the mountains are stunningly beautiful, every changingand magic, while we have a lovely older couple around the corner from us, parents of one of my best friends (whom I hardly see, though he too now lives 20 minutes away) it is often very hard to be here. In short: we have to drive, a lot; I'm far from my work and that makes it very hard to feel integrated and even to do the 'extra' kinds of things one is supposed to do (though I …

Happy Almost Thanksgiving

Dear wife is in bed, I am sitting up with a headcold, looking forward to my second night on the couch. I have not been exiled of course; it's just that I can't sleep normally when I am sick, and I sleep better alone, out here, off and on, blowing my nose and propping my head up. I am looking forward to more reading as soon as I finish this. I am burning through Luke Johnson's Intro to the NT (actually something like, The Writings of the NT, an Interpretation). It is a good introductory text, fluently written, one I wish I had consulted earlier as I awkwardly continue to self-educate.

Some thoughts on blog:

It's good to be back. I was trying to think of a metaphor for my blog, and what I came up with was this: this blog is like being not quite ready for a dinner party, and the guests come early anyway. My t shirt is wet from the navel down, there is flour on my right jean leg, and I haven't shaved. But the food is mostly cooking, and the wine comes out, and ev…

Still Peaking...

I must share a few things:

One, note the date below...I am posting twice in two days! Feels like recovery to me. Oh, I laughed out loud at that.

Two, a publisher contacted me in the email here and asked me to review a Brian MacClaren (sp?) book on this site. At first, I was sure it was a bizarre hoax; but no, in fact, she is sending me a free copy. I used to do that as a part timer texts for publishers. But this is something utterly new. I told her I have not read a line of BM but look forward to doing so. I realize he is a popular voice among the emergent. However, I also know I tend to shoot straight, especially when "grading." Luckily, I am not being paid (except for the free book). Still, I feel quite honored to be considered and do not know what led her to this previously nearly defunct and quite humble blog. I promise, I'll edit that post for mistakes.

Three, I am still peaking from the weekend. Convention has had a profound impact on m…

Peak Moment

I am considering more and more the future of this blog, and am pondering having two of these things; one I still keep anonymous, in fact more anonymous than this blog is now, and one which is public, made available to my church and others. If I do this, if I create another blog besides this one, I will note it here and anyone who reads this (all five of you sweet souls) can email me for a link to the public blog. For the moment this remains as is.

What a weekend.

Each year my church elects delegates to Diocesan Convention at the annual meeting. I have never considered running as it involves a weekend several hours from my home, and because I really didn't know what happens there. Somehow, this year, I suppose because I had been senior warden twice, I was nominated, said sure, and won one of the three delegate spots. It's never that competitive; a bit of good natured cajoling usually occurs. I never have had the sense anyone was that passionate about attending.

The annual me…

Just a Long Catch Up Post to Dear Friends

I wanted all to know I am doing okay, some days better than okay.

My marriage is growing stronger in spite of the current ridiculous pressure my wife's graduate school puts on my wife and I. Though I am the laundry man, the dish man, and in general the housecleaning and take our son everywhere he has to be man...and do that in addition to my career, somehow she and I have managed to grow and not disintegrate into chaos. We have days that simmer or when I sink into exhaustion, but the overall trend, the line graph of our love, is on the upswing and has been for the last few years. Considering the challenges our childhoods present us, as well as her education and my portfolio of emotional/mental issues, I am pretty damned glad to be able to say this. Some days, I admit, it still feels like the house is on fire and we're glaring at each other through the smoke; but less and less. We are beginning a ten session marriage class at our church, and it was so freeing to hear coup…

What I Want to Write About When I Take/Have Time to Write

Hello all. My dear, dear friends, what a pleasure and honor to write here, even though I have a very short time to write. Soon my wife will be home, and my strange and challenging saga as primary breadwinner primary housekeeper continues...but hey, I can't complain too much. I have lots of flexibility in my time, even though today, with the cold weather coming in and my son staying with his friends after school, was rather lonely. The dark sky, the unending, unending, house work and house projects, the computer screen, my online classes.

But all around, the glory of the Sierra.

So, when I take/have time to write, what do I want to write about?

Spiritual practice (something I am beginning, hesitantly, to crave) and the historical gospel work of N.T. Wright. I know I've written about NTW a little, but what I was really doing up here (with all your indulgences) was scribbling notes to myself. I have begun reading his second volume on Jesus' life again, starting about midwa…


I am sitting here, at something like 3:30 in the morning, just hours before fall convocation...some, of much, of which I will surely miss. That is okay, as the meetings run all day, and I will sit my butt in hard wood seats plenty. That first day, the Friday before classes begin, is often my least favorite day of the entire year. I do not know how other people hold down normal jobs, where meetings all day long are normal, perhaps good, as they pull one from the cubicle.

But now I sound silly.

So much has changed in my old online community. Hence the title, Shift. So much has changed for me.

Looking at my last couple of posts, I see a certain agony, and a certain something almost priggish. That last is an odd word. What is Second Life that it has derailed a blog habit I had, and shared, for something like two years? What have I done in the cartoon world? That could keep me writing until dawn.

I spent a lot of time using sl weapons systems, bonding over the combat in that potent es…

My So-Called Second Life

Beauty is momentary in the mind--
The fitful tracing of a portal;
But in the flesh it is immortal.

Again, sorry to all that I have not written. I did write one other thing: I submitted an article to a wine and spirits newsletter...a retail rag, really, and my little piece is going in. It was fun to write what those in the biz call 'shelf talk,' and I hope to become a semi-regular contributor. Fame on the small scale :) Who knows, could lead to wine at wholesale if I help their sales.

The multi-textured fact is that Second Life has come to take the time this blog used to take, and how I feel about that remains uncertain. But why? How has a virtual world full of avatars taken the place of my reflections here?

Fundamentally, the issue is that I stress over everything; I always feel tension...always. Work scares me, I am often scared of my wife, house cleaning, cooking...except for exercise and alcohol, very little doesn't make me nervous. Oh, and sailing, but I haven't …

Ash Wednesday 07

I wrote this on Ash I am at 2 Lent and have not returned to it; as usual, I began with a personal reflection and ended up in the infinitely deep sands of the problem of suffering. I decided to wrap up what I have and post as is :)

A dark day, with our first real winter storm coming in, heavy clouds and cold rain sure to follow. By morning, snow. I went to the little parish near my campus, not my usual haunt, for services at noon. I had to leave before communion, but got the critical piece: remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

An excellent reflection for all, theist or non.

I have not been thinking about my faith as much lately. This is perhaps good. I find, after 10 weeks spending of too much time in the hypnotic interface of Second Life (though this does seem to be balancing out), that I still have faith. Ash Wednesday did what it did for me last year: shook me out of my fat complacency and forced me to look within, to confess, to bow my kn…

In the Land of the Lotus Eaters

It is not quite that, O my brothers (just taught Clockwork Orange again). Second Life is not quite like eating the lotus. It has been recreation without purpose or goal, and that has been generally good. Is there a hypnotic component? Yes, as there is to general web surfing and television; while SL generally lacks the rich art of good film, it is certainly more interactive than tv or general web surfing. I'm part of a community there now which has bloody nothing to do with anything intellectual; I spend most of my time sword fighting.

Sl is deeply immersive, in a way I can't describe. For some, it just doesn't work. For others, those of us closer to fantasy moment to moment perhaps, it works very well. The early hypno-immersion is passing, though, and I'm getting more balanced in my use of the Grid as the Wonder dissipates. Frankly, you can do just about anything there...what you can't do yet you will be able to eventually, you just do it through an avatar,…

The Prodigy

Listening to Their Law, the Prodigy, they rock.

Working from home today; the weather in the mountains is very beautiful.

Love to all.

The Blog Skids and the Second Life

I have enjoyed blog, and I'm not quitting for good, but I have taken an unexpected, and extended, break. Why? Partly, I was out of town for a couple weeks; I was getting my grades in; now I'm back at work. School, church, family...all these take time...the most prolific bloggers, in general, don't have both family and career. But I've managed to be fairly regular up here nonetheless, whether the post was crafted or not. I still consider it a valuable place to share. Why am I hesitant to continue working on it at the moment?

Hesitant may not be the right word. The answer is really two words: Second Life.

I'm surprised how many people, how many students, haven't heard of SL. It's a three-dimensional interactive avatar-based world. It is Neal Stephenson's metaverse from Snowcrash. I bipped in before I left town because I have a friend whose college is buying an 'island' there. I had no idea what that meant. And I admit I got a bit hypn…

"Well, I'm back," he said.

Or something close to that.

I am back. I graded every paper before Christmas for the first time in 12 years of college teaching. S and I left town early the next day and returned late last night. I've been off-blog for longer than ever before I think and don't even know where to begin.

The long car drive was hard on my back injury and sitting now isn't great. This will likely be short until I can get back into my physical therapy. Something about that electrostim...really numbs the pain.

I will say this: we spent the last two days in San Francisco and I must recommend the Hotel Carlton. The neighborhood is non-remarkable, north of Tenderloin (where I don't want to stay) south of Nob Hill (where I can't afford to stay) and somewhat northwest of Union Square (where I like to stay when I can afford it). The Hotel was renovated two years ago and what we got for the price was unequalled in my experience. Smallish room, yes, but nicely decorated and above all, supe…