Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Boxing Day is now my new curse word

So, I tried to take the train from London to Audley End on Boxing Day. It was very strange, went to the station, it's empty except for an express shuttle to Stansted airport. I call my boss to see if I can get a lift from Standsted, am going to buy a ticket, my phone dies. Then when the phone is back in operation it tells me it has no more minutes on it. I ended up taking a few bus trips back and forth from Kate's flat (the missionary who I was visiting for Christmas in London) to Liverpool station, to charge my phone, pick up my bags, etc. Finally I leave for Stansted airport, get picked up there by Sarah W. and am back home in time to wash clothing and pack my bags for Germany.
New Years will be Auf Der Deutch!
Peace and a late Merry Christmas
Chris
PS I finished reading Bultmann's "Christ and Mythology" it was interesting in that it talks about not just demythologizing explicit mythical language (eg the creation stories having more to do with the complete control of the universe by God/marriage than about how the world was made) but also mythical concepts. His example was Escatology, he maintains that it is simply a metephor for explaining how God transcends time and this present time doesn't reflect God.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Sappy Advent-ish animation

It caught my eye, the only thing that bothered me some was no direct referance to Christianity. It could have just as well been an exposition on Pandora's box. That said its worth watching.
Peace,
Chris

Sunday, December 18, 2005

What kind of Lutheran are you (My first quiz)

Remeber my rant about these online quizes well, I'm not practicing what I preach. I've made one of my own. Its quite fun, try it out and tell me what type of Lutheran you are!
Peace,
Chris

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Fourth Newsletter!

Chris at St. Mark’s
Newsletter 4
The wonderful program that has made this whole thing possible? Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM)
http://www.elca.org/globalserve/youngadults/

Christmas in England:
No, its not Christmas yet, but since the end of November it has been Christmas here at St. Mark’s. We have put up multiple trees (including a 12 foot one in the front yard), decorated the lounge, and have been playing quite a bit of Christmas Music. We have also been serving three course Christmas dinners to various groups. It’s hard work, as Viktor said “I’ve peeled more potatoes this month than I have the whole rest of my life.” We’ve been busy serving a lot of posh food, from fancy French cheeses on crackers to a Salmon dripping with sauce and cranberries to traditional English Christmas pudding. I always imagined missionary work would involve feeding the hungry, I just didn’t realize how we’ll I’d be feeding them!
The English treat Christmas much different than we Americans. To them it seems to be much more of a carousing kind of celebration, compete with little paper party crowns and “crackers” which are a cross between a box of crackerjacks, a Christmas present and a fire cracker. They are little paper cylinder that you and a friend pull, one on each side, they kind of crack open with a slight explosion (not the gunpowder kind)
Chris, Bartender:
Another activity I never imagined I’d be doing as a missionary is bartending, but part of serving Christmas dinners is manning the bar before and after the meal. It is an interesting job, mostly it involves pouring wine for old English women and collecting the 1 quid 90 per glass. On top of that there is the task of dispensing spirits and sherry. The only odd incident to date was a man who tried to steal our bottle of port (he claimed it was a misunderstanding, he thought he got the whole bottle for 1 pound 90).
RYPpers
Contrary to the jokes I made about the program when I was still back in the states RYPpers has nothing to do with a London serial killer named who’s first name is Jack. RYP stands for Rural Youth Program. It is the youth group of St. Mark’s College. We had our first game night last week. We didn’t have many children show up, but those that did enjoyed playing pool, table tennis, and Dance Dance Revolution.

Chris on Christmas
The first worship service for RYPpers will be this Sunday. It is entitled “Chris on Christmas.” I have a slide show and sermonette planned about the Magnificat (Mary’s song that beings “My soul magnifies the Lord) and the Birth of Jesus in a lowly stable.

Preaching
RYPers won’t be the only group that gets the joy of listening to ol’ Chris Halverson preach the Good News. I’ve managed to get noticed by several churches around town and will be preaching at least twice at the United Reformed Church and at least once at St. Mary’s, the Anglican church of Saffron Walden.
My first sermon at the URC will be on Baptism, which should be interesting, considering this particular congregation actually split over the issue of Baptism! I’ll let the Spirit blow where it will, and as they say “No guts no glory!”

Greek and German
There is an old saying “you can take the tiger out of the jungle but you can’t take the jungle out of the tiger.” (I believe the Minnesota version goes something like “You can take the Scandinavian out of Scandinavia, but they still are attracted to cold dark snowy places.”) Though I am out of school, I can’t stop learning. I’ve decided to re-learn German (so I can read Luther in the original language) and teach myself Ancient Greek (so I can read the New Testament, not to mention the philosophers). I’ve already gotten some favorite Greek words! Edos, meaning Shape or Form(think Plato), Pollou, meaning The Many(again Plato), Logos, The Word (In the beginning was the Logos!), and the phrase “Panta rei” meaning everything flows, or as William Faulkner put it so well in The Sound and the Fury “All things impermanent.”

There is a new essay up at "The Foundation"

It is one of the best essays I've read about the Iraq War (with a small bit about Darfur), and it can be found only at The Foundation.
Let's try and get more essays up at The Foundation than we did last month, that means we only need one more!
Peace,
Chris

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I finished "Steppenwolf" today

Steppenwolf was good. He tackles a lot of big ideas, the main one being the multiplicity of personalities/experiences and how they shape the individual, we are all inconsistant with our image of self. I'm sure he would cringe at my use of the term individual and self, because one of Hesse's big points is that modern man has the ability to look upon himself and realize he is not an individual, but a bunch of competing people wrapped up into one body. Another big point was that people often critique one thing as banal without ever experiencing it, then when they do they understand why something is done. That is exemplified by the Steppenwolf's introduction to dancing. There is a definate critique of the culture of learning, at least a version of it that stunts living.
I have to say the last section, when the Steppenwolf goes into the theater, was less than steller
I am also working on a liturgy for when I preach on Jan. 8th at the URC.
Peace,
Chris
PS
Melancthon, I'd love to hear more about what you thought of Hesse's book the two times you read it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Find your spiritual gifts!

I found this over at Lutherchik a pretty cool way to examine the areas you are strong at.
I've been thinking about all these online quiz things that tell you what you are "What Starwars Character are you?" "What Lord of the Ring's Race are you?" etc. The common thread through all of these is that you submit to being defined by an outside source. It is like we are so afraid of being who we are that we'll let anyone, real or electronic, tell us who and what we are. Very odd.
Peace,
Chris

The Alchera Project option 1: The Wise Men

This is my December contribution to the Alchera Project. I interpreted the definition of "family" very loosely.
Merry Christmas,
Chris

Three Wise Men
By Chris Halverson
The grand monarch looked down from his throne, his left hand, rough and etched with scars which would have looked more appropriate on a farmer or soldier, held tightly onto his sword. There they were, bowed before him, the three keys to his success, his Magi.
There was Gaspar, long locks of white hair trailed down his head, kneeling down in violent submission before him. He brought Herod into the presence of Anthony and Octavian. Herod had no idea how old the man was, he seemed to be of an age long passed.
There was Melchior, the youth of the three, so young; he hardly looked old enough to be called a man. Yet when one looked into his dark Mongolian eyes, there was something much older there. He had blessed Herod before his many battles and it was he who had seen the star.
There was Balthasar, thick lipped and dark with a giant clot of matted beard swarming across his face. His body was twisted, a hunch erupted from his back and his hands always trembled. The cripple had healed Herod after the Sacarii attack.
"Go then, find this boy for me. I will treat him as my own son," he said, thinking of Alexander and Aristobulus. Doris had loved them, they weres ambitious, too ambitious.
"We serve you still and always," they said to him, taking their leave only after kneeling time and time again before him. A brief unsettled dis-ease came over Herod, a slight shutter. Maybe it was only the presence of all three men in the same room. Never before had they been together. Or maybe it was that none of them would make eye contact with the King.
--
Gaspar sat near his Persian steed, Zoroaster. He was as pale as the sickly white moon clinging to the black blanket of night and as sure footed as a camel. Gaspar cooed at the horse, mumbling chants. He didn’t know what the nomad boy had seen, but he had felt something too. This age of darkness was reaching its final phase; the struggle was about to reach a point where the tides of darkness would begin to ebb, the pattern would begin again. He could feel it in his heavy bones entombed in his ancient body. How he yearned for the light. Until the Hebrews had came to Babylon all had been well it had been a previous age.
He sighed, patting Zoroaster’s nose and looking deeply into the dark. The other two were sitting at a fire; the African was heating a kettle filled with medicine and the boy was lying back playing a reed flute. Neither were looking at him. He carefully took out the gold statue. It had previously belonged to King Nebuchadnezzar. It depicted Atar, son of the High God Ahura Mazdah, chaining the dragon Azhi Dahaka, it’s three heads raging and gnashing. Gaspar had received the object from Daniel after the King went mad. Another King, That’s what I’m going to find. I am the last of a long line of King servers. We have bowed to every man since Vistaspa. Now here would be another.
"So long, O man, hath I served thee in darkness
"Living deeper, deeper into woe
"Is there not a joy, deeper than grief can be?
"Go! Go lightly forward to find a king. To serve
"That is the eternal pattern, serving," he sung quietly to Zoroaster.
--
"Seeth still the star shepherd?" Gaspar asked, nudging Zoroaster along.
"Yes," said Melchior, his face tilted up, his eyes focused on an empty patch of sky. His Canyon Donkey kept up with the white steed surprisingly well.
The third chuckled and then coughed holding his chest in pain. His African Gumdrop beast bounced along, "The star is in your eyes boy," he coughed out.
"What matters that? The shepherd sees what he sees." Gaspar chided.
"He’s not a shepherd. We are three kings."
Melchior cleared his throat, "Gaspar is right though. I am a shepherd. I am King of Nomads."
"Then you are not a shepherd, but a king," corrected Balthasar.
"I am not a king because I have thrown away my crown."
"Do tell," said Gaspar, looking at the boy again.
"I tossed it to the ground and followed a greater path."
Balthasar slapped the lizard’s haunches; its tail whipped up in annoyance, "Tell me more Melchior. Tell me of your calling."
"Yes. The calling. When I was but a young child of six a voice, still and small, came unto me," his donkey brayed, and fell silent, and the Mongolian king continued, "and this voice said to me ‘feed my sheep.’ I first assumed it simply meant I had to lead my people, so I took the Kingship from my uncle."
"And what did you do?" asked Gaspar, genuinely curious.
"I," he said, his donkey circling back and forth between horse and lizard, "took my people from oasis to oasis, conquering land after land, that they could eat. Yet food was not enough for my sheep."
"Quite a quandary," said Gaspar."
"Quite," agreed the first king patting his steed.
"At the age of 9 I lead a raid of a Bookseller from Greece, and learned their ways. I practiced medicines and science; I brought the philosophers to my people. I taught them to think. I taught them to know things for themselves. Still this too was folly, for what if the voice had meant more than my own people were the sheep? How could I feed the world?
"You would need to spread knowledge throughout the world," Gaspar said.
"Or at least have knowledge of the larger world, of Plato’s Edos."
"Yes. I needed to be united with the world," Melchior continued, "and I found a man from the East who taught me the things of his people. I found the voice of Om. I touched the still small voice, and so I went out to the people and told them the things I know. I could knit bones together through the harmonic convergence of the inner voice."
At that Balthasar nodded.
"I could see the patterns of life emanating from the… as you said Gaspar, Edos. I could see the future. And yet that too was folly," Melchior said.
Gaspar nodded.
"So I threw all of that away too. I picked up this staff," he indicated a smooth staff sticking out of his saddlebag, "and found sheep to tend. Out on the plains I would feed them."
"And that is where you saw this star, am I correct?"
"Yes."
"And yet it is not in the sky? It is not visible at all!"
"And yet," agreed the shepherd, "I go to find this thing."
"It is in your eyes."
"My eyes, yes. But more than that. Out there on the high plains it became my truth, my context, my existence."
The lizard hissed, the donkey brayed, the stallion shuttered. The star, to Melchior, had become so much. The only accurate metaphor he could think of was that of smell. You couldn’t really see the star, not in any conventional sense, but it was there, pungent and sweet, like the frankincense packed along with his shepherd’s staff.
--
In the night Balthasar was barely visible to his two companions, his beaming white smile hung in the air as he limped away from his Gumdrop Beast to the fire. He slumped down on the sand, reclining like he was on a Roman sofa. The three of them sat at the fire. Melchior had said the star was close, hardly more than a day away. He took out his flute and played. It was a beautiful, eerie, noise, perfect for the darkness they were in. It was the music of a mystic, full of longing, pain, and hope. As it continued Balthasar began to pound out a beat upon his thighs. Then he began to sing in a deep, rhythmic voice. It curved through the air along with the voice of the flute.
"I once was a mighty king
"Swordsman and warrior too
"Led my tribe off to battle
"The world was mine to subdue"
"I’ve seen the blood of those I love, felt the wrath from heaven above."
Balthasar had led the Dinka to expand to the North. It was his arrogance that made them continue on into the Janj Valley. They’d won of course, Balthasar had seen to that.
"Then one day I met a woman so fine
"Then came marriage, the kids, and ease
"Sensibility, love, respect, a putting away of the sword
"Calm loving became my expertise"
"I’ve seen the blood of those I love, felt the wrath from heaven above."
Hola had changed things. She had loved him, he thought more about cultivating the land and less about killing the enemy.
"But things are never quite that simple
"My enemies came a calling
"Slaughtering all my tribe, my wife, my children
"Death everywhere, appalling
"I’ve seen the blood of those I love, felt the wrath from heaven above."
Omar had returned looking for revenge. And he had found it.
"Anger, an orgy of hate filled me
"A man found me, and said ‘life and death are before you’
"And gave me a sword and a legion
"And went I to kill and subdue."
"I’ve seen the blood of those I love, felt the wrath from heaven above."
Herod was looking for strong men to keep order in Jerusalem during the Passover pilgrimage. The King was well pleased with Balthasar and gave him the means to avenge himself upon the Janj
"So we went, and killed and slaughtered
"We broke families, shattered cities, with total power and force
"And when I found the man who killed my wife
"I pierced him through, and then felt the emptiness of remorse"
And once last time he sang out with a raw power, "I’ve seen the blood of those I love/Felt the wrath from heaven above," as the flute trailed off.
After he had killed Omar his life had changed, he changed. Pain filled his body, he grew to look old, he became tired, sickly, weak, and grotesque. He suffered from epilepsy and many other demons. All he had known since that moment was the impermanence of life, so he carried with him burial ointment, Myrrh.
--
"There it is!" the Shepherd said, pointing in the sky. His two companions saw nothing.
It was late, very late, but they all knew this was the night so they rode on.
"It descends over that stable."
They went forward at a gallop; claw and hoof pounding upon the sand. The unseen light descended into the structure itself. They dismounted and each rummaged through their bags and each hid their gift from the other. They came to the stable door.
"Do we just knock?" asked Melchior
"I don’t know," Balthasar said, leaning heavily against the slivery wooden wall.
"We open up the door and bow in the presence of the King," replied Gaspar.
The other two wise men shrugged and Melchior pulled open the door. They all dove to the hay filled floor. Melchior’s eyes closed in pain; the brightness was very great. He looked up, the star sat perched upon the head of a baby folded in the arms of a young woman.
"Who are you?" asked a man, knife in hand, standing between the mother and child, ready to die for them.
Gaspar was the first to speak, "We come to see the child."
The man, the husband Gaspar realized, reluctantly put down his knife, burying it in the side of a manger.
Gaspar, still kneeling, drug his old body, the darkness of flesh surrounding his white ancient bones, enflamed with arthritic pain, across the ground.
"My King," he said, producing the golden idol, which he set before the boy.
The husband frowned at the gift, but said nothing, but it was obvious to Gaspar that the Hebrew didn’t approve of it, he supposed it was because of those commandments.
Gaspar got up, looking, really looking, at the child. The eyes were his own, the eyes of a servant, yet still a king. He was, as it was written in the Gathas, "a man who is better than a good man." He was the Saoshyant; the new age had finally come.
The light from the star was intense as Melchior came forward. The closer he got, the brighter it blazed. The flames that crackled against the surrounding world were the patters he had seen. Each crackle made a distinct flute-like, Om-like, sound, "My God," he said, overwhelmed by the intense fire from the infant’s eyes. He set down his frankincense, the fragrance filtered into the air, and Melchior knew the sheep would be fed.
The husband looked at the young shepherd blankly; his sense of monotheism had been violated. Balthasar came forward, shaking; the fits were upon him, pain in his feet, hands, and head, yet he came forward, falling to his knees next to the manger, clutching it tight for support.
The mother shared a look of worry with the man, then faced Balthasar, holding tight to her child.
"Tomorrow will be the eighth day," Balthasar said to the child, "you will be circumcised. You will wail and cry; your blood will spill. That too is part of life. My," he said with effort. His hand came up, as did the baby’s. They touched, and the pain and shaking, and demons came out of him, "My Savior."
He looked into the boy’s eyes, there was pain, sorrow, suffering, yet there was calm within that, all wrath was gone.
The husband scowled, at the morbid gift of Myrrh.
The three bowed again, and left by another way.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

We are okay here at St. Mark's

None of the volunteers heard it, but Jon and Liz Wayper heard the explosion this morning, all the birds apparently went wonky and started screaching. They heard the explosion all the way a long way away. I mean a LONG way away, all the way across the ocean in the Netherlands!
Peace,
Chris

The Contemporary Lutheran Sermon with diagram

----------F
----------A
----------T
----------H
----------E
----------R

----------S
LAWGOSPEL
----------N

----------S
----------P
----------I
----------R
----------I
----------T

Recently I have been reading and thinking about Homiletics. Specifically, I’ve been reading "I believe in Preaching" by John RW Stott and thinking about how to write a sermon that is on one hand authentically and consciously in line with Lutheran theology, and on the other hand authentically and consciously written with the modern parish in mind. Here are my initial thoughts on the subject, mainly, and arguably sadly, inspired by a ‘not yet even out of bed flash of insight’ that came to me this morning in the form of the diagram you see above.
First note the arms of the cross. Law, and Gospel. Familiar I hope to any dyed in the wool Lutheran. These should be the two main horizontal, linear, sections of a sermon. The preacher should take the congregation from Law to Gospel.
What are these two elements I speak of? Law is what convicts; it is "the doctrine that commands what is and what is not to be done." (Philip Melanchthon, Theses on Law, Gospel, and Faith) The function of Law is to point out our faults and sins, and knock out every plank of righteousness that we might stand on, every shred of self-justification we can throw up in our defense, be it circumcision, good works, going to church, or, I would argue, even Baptism. This leads into our next term, Gospel, which is the Good News that we are saved from the sins made obvious by the Law with a "promise of the grace of God." (IBID)
This sermon progression from Law to Gospel is to be supported by scripture, signified in the diagram as Father for the TaNaK and Son for the New Testament. Without scripture sermons become little more than a philosophical treatise at best, the unguided mumbling and musings of a moralist at worst.
You may ask why both TaNaK and NT should be included in a sermon? They are, as I once wrote in a poem "mirror dogs," in that they demonstrate the continuities of scripture, as well as the historical interplay between the traditional and the prophetic, each are filled with parallels of the other, the narrative of Moses is complemented and reworked in Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth, both Joseph and Jesus hide their identity from the twelve. Further, Law is found not only in the Old Testament, nor Gospel only in the New. Many of Paul’s community rules are Law, and the salvation history of the Jews is Gospel.
And lastly, but not leastly there is the final piece of the diagram, "Spirit" by that I of course mean the Holy kind. In this schema I am not referring to scripture about the Holy Spirit attested in the TaNaK and NT, but the "other Counselor," with the Church "always." (Acts 14:16) The Spirit does not settle with the Pastor re-convicting the Israelites worshiping the golden calf, or taking crucifying Christ ad nauseum. This element of the sermon is where the Pastor asks, to quote a good friend, "What do the people of God need to hear today?" It is through the Spirit that the Pastor builds a bridge over the temporal, cultural, as well as intellectual, gap between the text and today. F.W. Robertson, a influential Brighton preacher, did so because within his sermons there was "always the deliberate reference of his preaching to modern conditions of thought and life." (John R.W. Stott, I Believe in Preaching Both Karl Barth and C.H. Spurgeon prepared their sermons with "the Bible in one hand and the daily newspaper in the other." (IBID)
And there you The Contemporary Lutheran Sermon, with diagram.
Peace,
Chris

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Articles are up at The Foundation

I've recieved 3 articles for the Foundation so far. Two out of three of them are pro-war, which was kind of surprising. I didn't realize that many pro-war people read my blogozine. Check it out.
In other news Viktor and I got "Hip-Hip-horray"ed today by the residential group. It's kind of fun.
Peace,
Chris

Friday, December 09, 2005

The best of the Blogs

Josh points his satirical arrows at Ablaze, the ELCA, and well pretty much everyone.
Clint has had a baby boy!
Scott talks about being Children of God
Lutherchik led worship.
Melancthon has a lovely idea for Christmas cards that stick to the meaning of Advent
I am a Christian talks about progressive Christians Books and contemplates if Bush is the anti-Christ
The Exile asks what made John Paul II "the Great" and takes a look at his own homosexuality
Samizdata shouts with joy that the Law Lords have decided information gained by torture isn’t admissable in the court of law
Oh, and The Foundation and Universal Bones are still in need of submissions!

And finally a joke from my parents:

Two Norwegian hunters from Minnesota got a pilot to fly them to Canada to hunt moose. They bagged six. As they started loading the plane for the return trip, the pilot said the plane could take only four moose.
The two lads objected strongly, "Last year we shot six and the pilot let us put them all on board and he had the same plane as yours."
Reluctantly, the pilot gave in and all six were loaded. However, even on full power, the little plane couldn't handle the load and went down a few moments after take-off.
Climbing out of the wreck one Norski asked the other, "Any idea where we are?"
"Yaaah I tink we's pretty close to where we crashed last year."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Greek and German

So today I started an ambitious project for this year. I intend to re-learn German (which is made easier as Jon is a foermer German instructor and Viktor is a native speaker) and teach myself Greek. I'm using "German Crash Course" by Schaum and "Learn Ancient Greek" by Peter Jones. So far I like Jone's work much better, in fact I'd recommend it, its really witty and I've already translated a pedophile pot (my name for them) which is a pot that men gave to their boy lovers. It reads Kalosopais" or "The boy is Handsome."
Other than that I'm reading Hesse's "Steppenwolf" and John R. W. Stott's "I believe in Preaching. I also got Christopher Hitchen's "Love, Poverty, and War."
Good times. Tonight we are holding our first RYPPERS meaning, hopefully it should be good.
Peace,
Chris

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I passed my Trampoline exams

So now I'm a certified Trampoline Coach! I have to say it was actually quite hard for me, as it was all about body movement and things that I almost never think about.
Peace,
Chris

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Chapter two of "Days in the Cold" is up at Universalbones

This one is slightly more satire than sanguine, but only slightly.
Peace,
Chris

My submission for the Alchera project

Have you ever seen that Mickey mouse movie, the one with him in a wizard’s robe, washing up the entrance of the wizard school or something. He makes the brooms, maybe they are mops, come alive and wash the place. Well, as a novice wizard I can tell you the flooding of a school is a small mistake to make. I nearly destroyed the world.
Now that I’ve caught your attention. Let’s start a little sooner, as my part in this is actually rather small otherwise.
When did I first know I was a magical? Last Christmas, a comet was grazing the night sky and I was contemplating the birth of Jesus.
"No such thing as a virgin birth… virgin conception maybe, birth by a virgin, sure… ‘virgin birth’…na."
With that comment to myself while sitting on the fire escape outside my flat a light shined in the sky. It was a comet, streaking against the darkness, a blazing white wax crayon smeared upon a very dark wood table. I smiled at the star, sipping from my cup of coco.
It grew, illuminating with the power of the half-moon bowing in the sky.
"Wow," I said, my breath puffing up into the air.
With that my ears popped, and the metal underneath me began to twist down. The whole fire escape shuttered. It was like gravity was pulling down on me, or into me.
It was bigger than the moon now, and as bright as a small sun.
"That’s not possible!" I said, "How…How on earth…"
With that the voice of my magical recruiter came to me from behind.
"Anything is possible. Anything."

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Prayer request

So. I just did something pretty intense. I completed my application for Cambridge's Masters of Philosophy program. Right now I have two applications out LTSP, which I am more or less already accepted to, and Cambridge. This may be the dividing line between Pastor Chris and Professor Chris!
Please pray that God guides me, my application, and the entire process in the right direction.
Peace,
Chris

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Tolkien

I read "Tolkien A Biography" by Michael White recently. It was a worthy read, but I would say mainly for Tolkien fans. The highlights for me were that Tolkien began writing "the Hobbit" on a test he was grading, the conversation between C.S. Lewis about the nature of Christianity, and looking at Tolkien’s process of "sub-creation." It took Tolkien decades to write Lord of the Rings! Oh, lastly per Tolkien Mordor is in the Balkans (this is interesting, as WW1, which Tolkien was part of started in the Balkans).
Peace,
Chris

I'm.. um... Che

Sort of surprised actually.

Rabbi Akiba takes on the top ten

So there is this song that they play constantly over here, Tori Alamaze's Don't Cha it is an absolutely horrible song, makes women out to be little more than sex toys, and so on. The problem is it has a really catchy beat, so I've caught myself singing it to myself. So, to prove I'm still a religious studies dork I started to modify the lyrics while hoovering (British version of vaccuming) the rooms. I've decided to pull a Weird Al.
Rabbi Akiba's Don't Cha

Ha’adam Ish Isha are you ready? Lets debate Ha’adam (ooooh) I know you respect me (I know you respect me) I know you do (I know you do) That’s why whenever I come around the shellfish comes out (the shellfish comes out). I know you want to be kosher (I know you want to be kosher) Its easy to see (its easy to see) And in the back of your mind I know you should be reading the TaNaK night and day (Adam).
Don’t cha wish your Rabbi was shomer-shabat like me? Don’ cha wish your Rabbi was a midrash geek like me? Don’t cha? Don’t cha? Don’t cha wish your Rabbi followed the Law like me? Don’t cha wish your Rabbi could say "the L-RD is One" like me? Don’t cha
Don’t cha remember the 8th commandment is about stealing (about stealing) And Yom Kippur is the day to atone (day to atone). Cause if it ain’t the 10th of Tishri It just ain’t enough reason to go to Temple (to go to Temple)
What, you don’t care? What you don’t want to share in the service? Don’t cha wish your Rabbi was shomer-shabat like me? Don’t cha wish your Rabbi was a midrash geek like me? (like me) Don’t cha (don’t cha Ha’adam) Don’t cha Don’t cha wish your Rabbi was followed the Law like me? (Law) Don’t cha wish your Rabbi could say "the L-rd is One" like me? (the big One) Don’t cha Don’t cha.
I know scripture’s on your mind all the time. I’m your Rabbi. "the L-RD is One." There is a line around the Torah. I ain’t lying. Look at Moshe. He ain’t blind, that was Paul (that was Paul). I know impure thoughts are on your mind. I know you think a non-kosher deli would be a good time.
I’m your Rabbi. "the L-RD is One." Around the Torah there is a line. I ain’t lying. Look at Moshe. He ain’t blind! I know you love G-d (love G-d). So I understand (I understand). Reformed Judaism is the thing for you. Yet if your were Orthodox. Maybe next lifetime (maybe next lifetime) Possibly (possibly). Until then I’m not your Rabbi?
Don’t cha wish your Rabbi was Shomer-shabat like me? Don’t cha wish your Rabbi was a midrash geek like me? Don’t cha Don’t cha wish your Rabbi was into the Law like me? Don’t cha wish your Rabbi could say "the L-RD is One" like me? Don’t cha Don’t cha?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A review of “The World Hitler Never Made”

I finished The World Hitler Never Made by Gavriel D. Rosenfeld. It is a history of the genre of alternative histories of World War Two since the 1930’s. It was a pretty good read. I enjoyed that it gave an overview of a large swath of story-lines from the 1930’s on.
Rosenfeld’s book covered four major types of alternative histories; they are 1. What would have happened if the Nazis had won world war two 2. What would have happened if Hitler had never been born? 3. What would have happened if Hitler had lived and stood trial, and 4. What if the Holocaust was either completed or never happened? Rosenfeld analysis of these four areas leads him to conclude that the way Nazism is portrayed in alternative histories has changed from one of moralizing the allied cause and demonizing the Nazis and Hitler from the 30’s to 60’s to one that normalizes them in fiction from the late 60’s to present. He views this change as being caused by general disenchantment/concentration on the Cold War and a stripping away of American innocence caused by the Vietnam War.
I learned a few interesting things in this book; for example, in Pat Buchanan’s book A Republic, Not an Empire he argues that the United States should not have entered World War Two, because the USSR and Nazi Germany would have exhausted himself. He also relativizes the Holocaust, basically saying Stalin killed many more people than Hitler, so the Holocaust wasn’t enough of a reason to step in. He also points out that we didn’t enter World War Two to stop the Holocaust.
Though I think we were justified in fighting the Nazis, I do think Buchanan brings up an interesting question that is brought up a few times in this books, basically was the Soviet Union any better of an ally than the Nazis would have been? And on a much broader scale this book brought home to me that the Soviet Union was a very nasty entity. I knew this of course, but by the time I was involved in understanding ideas of nation in any way the USSR was breathing its last gasps of breath. I was always more worried about a mutual nuclear exchange (I remember doing nuclear drills at my school in Brussels) than by an invasion by the Soviets.
Another thing that this book made me think about was the larger debate between "the Great Man theory" and "Structuralism." The Great Men camp argues that individuals can shape and form history in a real big way, the Structuralist argue that overarching forces, not individuals, shape history; if a Hitler hadn’t arose someone else would have. I, kind of surprising myself, fall to the Great Man end of things. To be honest this conclusion is mostly based on earlier contemplations of this issue in "The Foundation" series by Isaac Azmov. On top of that is an overall na├»ve belief that one person can change things (for better or worse).

Monday, November 14, 2005

November Newsletter

Chris at St. Marks Newsletter 3
The wonderful program that has made this whole thing possible: Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM)
http://www.elca.org/globalserve/youngadults/
Castles:
A few weeks ago St. Mark’s was left completely empty. If Vikings had made the trek from Norway to England they could have sacked it without any trouble. We took a staff vacation day, all loaded into the scooby-doo van and went to the East Coast to look at Castles. We saw Castle Acre, and another castle the name of which I have already forgotten.
We followed a guided radio tour and looked through the ruins of an old Friary. We heard about how the Queen of England of the time betrayed the king and with his best friend, her lover, killed him. We stood on parapets from which we could see the sea. It was beautiful!

Remembrance Sunday:
Similar to Veterans Day in the States the day the Armistice, ending World War One, was signed, November 11th, is remember. Everyone in England wears poppies and the Queen attends a solemn ceremony. The Sunday after Remembrance day is Remembrance Sunday, where the churches commemorate this day and a parade happens.

King’s Chapel:
Viktor and I went to Cambridge’s King’s Chapel with our Time for God friends, Ruby, John, and their daughter, to see Ruby sing in The Nelson Mass and Sea Changes.
Viktor liked the Nelson Mass, because it fit the chapel (have you seen this chapel, it's amazing, the ceiling is giant, white, and spidewebed. Beautiful!
I preferred Sea Changes because it told a story. It was about this town that was washed into the sea bit by bit until even the church with its grand old bell falls in. Later a fisherman and his crew sail over that spot and can hear the bell. You could hear the story flowing from the sounds and the songs. I was impressed!
Library:
I’ve rediscovered an old friend from my childhood, the public library. I remember summers as a child when my dad used to take me to the Laramie County Public Library and I would raid the Goosebumps books, the Redwall series, and occasionally sneak into the Modern Classics, Science Fiction, and History sections.
The Saffron Walden Library is wonderful. It has a small Classics section, and some very good Religion and Philosophy books. I have currently checked out The Changing Faces of Jesus by Geza Vermes, a Dead Sea Scrolls expert, and The World Hitler Never Made by Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, a history of alternative histories of World War Two.
Aside from books the Library has also provided me with a new social life. I’ve joined their book club "Novel Approach." I am the youngest member by decades and the only male. We meet once a month at someone’s house, discuss the book of the month, drink tea, and eventually start talking about the current state of England. It is quite an experience. The books we read seem to be Chik-lit, so I’m getting to read about how middle aged family women feel. Definitely a new experience. We’ve read three books so far Fruit of the Lemon (it is about a Jamaican woman trying to find her roots), Book Club (the story of how the lives of a group of women who all attend the same book club interconnect), and now we are on The Last Family in Britain (about a Laborer Retriever who tries to keep his family together despite the pressures of modern life) . Lemon was good and Family is excellent, Book Club, we all agreed, was a banal stinker.
Guy Fawkes:
I experienced something totally new this month. Actually I experienced two totally new things. The first one, Guy Fawkes Day, brought about the second, Culture Shock.
Guy Fawkes Day, on November 5th, is a day were the British Celebrate the foiling of a Catholic plot to blow up Parliament headed up by Guy Fawkes.
At this stage they celebrate the day by shooting off fireworks and burning bonfires. In Saffron Walden they burnt an effigy of Parliament.
We burnt our bonfire and later Jon Viktor and I went to see the local festivities. As I stood, solemnly watching Parliament burning in effigy and the fireworks going off, I was in culture shock. It was the 4th of July, but it wasn’t. All I could think about was home. I said allowed, in distant wonder, "man, it looks like when the British burnt the first White House," before I realized it was not a particularly tactful thing to say surrounded by the attacker’s ancestors.
As the bombs burst in air I thought about my American brothers and sisters in Iraq, under bombardment. And as the effigy burnt down the skeletal leavings reaching up like the remains of the World Trade Center. Quiet hidden tears came. Basic raw patriotism bubbled up in me. It was quite a moving experience to feel like I was home, yet know that I was actually in a far off land.
The United Reformed Church:
I may have already said this, but I’ve found a home at the URC. Its quite an interesting little church, it was the first dissenter church in Saffron Walden. They currently plan to build a joint fellowship hall with the Salvation Army. The members of the URC are on the older end of things, as is the populace of Saffron Walden in general and so they were very pleased when I said I would help them with Pilots, their Tuesday night youth group. I guess they figure I am closer to the children’s ages than I am to theirs, so I can relate to them. My first time working with the Pilots was good. They were making sheep from cotton balls and a sheep’s head fell off. I performed an emergency sheepectimy and things turned out all right.
Painting:
At this point you are probably thinking, man all Chris is doing is playing in castles, writing, going to concerts, and reading a lot. That’s not all. In November St. Mark’s tends to have a lull in guests. That doesn’t mean there is a lull in work though. We’ve cleaned and sorted pretty much everything in the college and re-painted every door in the college and several walls as well. On top of that we’ve inventoried the whole place from top to bottom. I spent one day simply counting and categorizing the types of dishes we have here at St. Mark’s!
A very short story:
Dogs
(an homage to The Last Family in Britian)
Many people wonder why Saffron Walden is so peaceful. Some say it is because of the homogeneity of its people, others say it is because of its closeness to Cambridge, others says it is because of the patronage of Lord Braybrook, still others say it is because of its traditional British values.
We dogs know better. Saffron Walden is peaceful because they still own dogs, and not these little yippy things either, but large, loyal labs. We make sure our people have a routine, walks twice a day, stick fetching at least once a week, keeps them from getting funny ideas. Saffron Walden is in fact so dog friendly that many families are blessed with not one, not two, but three or four dogs!

"Joy to the World"

The ELCA is busting out some Christmas Cheer!!!
Peace,
Chris

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Concert at King's College Chapel

Last night Viktor and I went to Cambridge with our TGIF friends Ruby and John to see Ruby sing in the Nelson Mass and Sea Changes. Vic liked the Nelson Mass, because it fit the chapel (have you seen this chapel, it's amazing, the celing is spidewebed. Beautiful! I prefered Sea Changes because it told a story. It was about this town that was washed into the sea bit by bit until even the church with its grand old bell falls in. Later a fisherman and his crew sail over that spot and can hear the bell. You could hear the story flowing from the sounds and the songs.
Peace,
Chris

Friday, November 11, 2005

"The Door" takes on the Jedi religion

Really funny, mixture of Baptists and Dead Sea Scrolls, and such. Makes me smile!
Peace,
Chris

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The first set of articles are up at "The Foundation"

They are a pretty good mix, two pro-fair trade, one pro-free trade, and one "let's not get involved." Good stuff, check 'em out!
Peace,
Chris

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

And in Darfur... the bad guys won

Check out the article. Basicly says that the genocide is done in Darfur, but only because there is no one left to kill. 400,000 killed 2 million expelled.
God have mercy,
Chris

epiphanies of the morning

Some of my best ideas, and some of my worst, come to me while showering. This morning I was thinking of religion and politics (no surprise) and I had a thought, what would Paul's way of dealing with foreign policy be? My initial thought is that he gives no answer to that question. The second answer I thought of is that his views of the relationships between people can be made roughly analogous to relationships between nations. So if you have a problem first go to the person you have a problem with, then go to other, and so on.
My second epiphany is that the differance between "New Age" stuff and Mysticism proper is that New Agers refuse to let the self disappear.
Also I'm reading two new books 1 is "The Changing Faces of Jesus" by Geza Vermesh, which contains GV's views the Historical Jesus. The other is "The World Hitler Never Made" which is a history of people writing alternative histories about Nazi Germany.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

"I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush."

Hat tip to Samizdata check out the article about introverts!
Peace,
Chris

And over at Univeral-Bones

Things have started. I've published the first chapter of what will be a serialized novel. I'm still waiting for submissions. If you want to submit email me at universalbones@hotmail.com
Peace,
Chris
PS As for The Foundation I'm still waiting for 1 more article, then I'll publish the first batch of 3!

I miss America

On this Guy Fawks Day I am in Culture Shock, I want my Motherland.
As I stood solemnly by our bonfire, and watched fireworks above a burning effigy of Parent. I was in culture shock, it was the 4th of July, but it wasn’t. As some of you know I have a mixed feeling about the 4th but tonight none of that was important. All I could think about was home. I said allowed, in distant wonder, "man, it looks like when the British burnt the first White House," before I realized it was not a particularly tactful thing to say surrounded by the attacker’s ancestors. As the bombs burst in air I thought about my American brothers and sisters in Iraq, under bombardment. And as the effigy burnt down the skeletal leavings reaching up like the remains of the World Trade Center quiet hidden tears came. Basic raw patriotism bubbled up in me.
I could go off on a rant about the threat of China and the ineffectiveness of the EU and the UN, but I’m not sure how genuine that would be. Long short its been a night of emotions.
Good night.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Just read "The Journey to the East" by Hesse

It was fun, and a short read. It metephorically talks about the journey of life, and how you only begin being more than an innitiate after you have suffered. It also has a Christ figure Leo who is a servant, but actualy the president of the "League" and eventually the main character realizes he is simply a candle that must decrease and Leo must increase. Yet, the currious thing about that is that he also suggests Leo is just a character, and Hesse himself is alive, but in giving life to the character he is then becoming less alive. Not entirely sure what to make of it right now. It will take some meditation.
Peace,
Chris

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Things are changing!!!

My faithful readers may have thought I have slowed down. The LutherMatrix has become a storing sight for spam, and I've not posted in 9 days. Fear not! This has happened only because I've been working on something new. I have decided to stretch the power of the internet. I have created two blogozines edited by yours truely. Blogozines are self-perpetuating online magazines. I got the idea from Daniel's Lutheran Carnivals. Basicly the reader and the writer become one. The readers supply content for other readers. Universal Bones is my literary magazine, and The Foundation is a political magazine trying to get to the bottom of arguments, and foster healthy debate. If you feel like contributing to either of these publications email The.foundation@hotmail.com or universalbones@hotmail.com .
Peace,
Chris

Sunday, October 16, 2005

I've been thinking about governing today

I thought about the direction I'd like America to go. I ended up choosing this for my idea for SEIU. Its not as well thought out as it should be, but such is life.
Here are some other thoughts that came to mind:
Pass the Equal Rights amendment- After all isn't it about time?
Achieve Energy Independence- Make a big push for alternative energy technology!
Completely forgive 3rd world debt to the US- If I remember correctly it would cost a very small amount (I know in britian if every citizen paid 1% of their income for a year the 3rd world's debt to the UK would be paid off)
Paying down the national debt- It might involve raising taxes a little, but let's be independent. Avoid entangling alliances.
Election day holidays- Voting is what makes democracy work, but working is what feeds the family. If you had the day off to vote you could do both with ease!
Remove the government's control of marriage- Basicly the government could hand out Civil Unions to anyone they want, but only the church could pronounce someone married.
Establish a new SEATO- Basicly a NATO for Asia. It would stop India and Pakistan from killing one another, it could help in the war vs. Islamic extremism (Pakistan and the Philipines would have new allies to fight the Jihadists) and it would keep China from sole economic/military hegemony of the continent. (by the way I realize this would be an entangling alliance, I'm kind of inconsistant)
Offensive/Defensive weapons ratio- For every dollar we spend on offensive weapons we need to spend 10 cents on defensive things, like vehicle armor and kevlar and such.
Raise the Minimum wage- It seems to make the economy go up, and it helps the poorest out there!
Buy up Russia's excess plutonium- There is lots of it just sitting around. I don't want a dirty bomb anywhere, or a Nuke for that matter.

Sliced Bread Contest, enter, its cool!

Got an idea that could change the world, well, here is your chance to make it real!
http://www.sinceslicedbread.com/

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A book review of “No Man is an Island” by Thomas Merton/musings about alternative Christianities

First things first I want to thank Kevin for buying me this book as a going away present.
"No Man is an Island" is a very well thought out book. It consists of 16 essays about various concepts involved in the spiritual contemplative life. I will draw out the overall logic that runs through all of his essays, then I’ll mention a few thoughts about ethics that this book invoked, his view of pre-destination and free-will, and finally speculate about the philosophical underpinnings of his argument (I warn you I’m not a philosopher in any sense of the word).
I want to give a brief caveat about Merton’s worldview. At various points he writes some things that made me as a Lutheran/protestant cringe. For example "I exist to save my soul" and "God’s will for me is that I should shape my own destiny, work out my own salvation." Yeah, its that Faith/Works thing.
Merton’s basic framework that is found throughout the various essays goes something like this. Most of life’s anxiety and strain comes from dependence on self. But once we start to shake off the blinders of huberious we recognizes that we are all human, all fallible, all fall short. Therefore we need to love one another in spite of our shortfalls. If we don’t, no one will love us. If we are going to love others we needs to love them well.
To love someone well we need to first know ourselves. Merton admonishes us that we should not self examine too much (think of Luther’s thoughts about "bellybutton gazing") because we start to question everything and at its extreme "disfigure our whole personality."
We must not see ourselves totally in our actions, as they are often not our actions, but the actions of our unconscious or of societal compulsions.
To find ourselves we need to "take up our cross" and not the cross we want (for example who wouldn’t want to be beat up defending a higher truth, boatloads of starving refugees, etc [or maybe that’s just me] but who would want to suffer ailment or illness or a dead end job?), but the cross destined for us. Suffering is the most personal act that exists. It asks us "who are you?" It asks what were we, what have we become, what do we want to be. And in this suffering we will realize the contradictions in our answers. We will give up the idea that we are objective, as we often twist facts and information to fit what we know. We need to be humble and accept ourselves for who we are, because if we are not at peace with ourselves all our interactions with others will be rooted in falsity and only spread our internal conflicts into external ones.
Once we know ourselves we must be honest and truthful to the other, we will wear no masks, and be humble. And then we can enter into relationship accepting the other for who they are. We can, to quote Merton "respect their solitude." The other becomes more than a mirror of our own soul. Our love is no longer narcissistic; it isn’t simply creating people in our own image. We are no longer a painter creating a self-portrait out of the other. At base we are recognizing the right of the other to be an autonomous person; we allow the other to have secrets.
Now here is the kicker, apply all that I wrote about the other to God as well as our neighbor. We need to be honest with Him, as He knows us better than ourselves and before we were formed in the womb. Approach God, but allow God to be God,
"If I find Him with great ease, perhaps He is not my God./ If I cannot hope to find Him at all, is He my God?/ If I find Him wherever I wish, have I found him?/ If He can find me whenever He wishes, and tells me Who He is and who I am, and if I then know that He Whom I could not find has found me: then I know He is the Lord, my God: He has touched me with the finger that made me out of nothing."
Reading this got me thinking about ethics. Merton wrote, "We obey people not for their sake, but because we believe their will is the will of God." This kind of blew me away, what does that say about voting, about having bosses, about… everything! I think, I could be wrong, but I think, it means we have to ask ourselves "If Jesus was me, how would he act?"
Merton’s take on the conflict between predestination and free will is all wound up in the idea of Hope. (warning I may butcher his thinking) They are both brought together with the idea of Hope. By our hoping that we are predestinated for salvation we freely choose our salvation.
Finally, I noticed constant sideways references to Plato in Merton’s work. For example, our actions are a shadow of us, but we need to focus on the light that created the shadow, and of course his view of heaven, much like C.S. Lewis’ espoused in the Narnia Chronicles, is that of us (and all of creation) moving from the state of being Emanations to being Form. In heaven a horse will become the perfect Horse, a man will become Man. Nietzsche calls Christianity Plato for the masses, I think this is why. It makes me think. What is Hell then? The first thought of course is Sheol, "the grave", becomes "the Cave" of Plato’s Republic. Another thought I had was that we become the totality of a corrupt and imperfect emanation of ourselves.
A larger question this brings up is what if Christianity had a different philosophical tradition as the background to its history (baring the argument that all philosophy is simply a critique or counter critique of Plato)? I think we can see some generations of this in some present presentations of Christianity.
For example Liberation Theology does in some ways points toward an engendering of Christianity that takes Marxist thought rather seriously. At base it says that God has a preferential view of the poor. There are also Post-Modern Christians that I’ve read about some. The solution to the problem of "a lack of connection between things" is that we need to weave snippets of scripture into a quilt of new thoughts that fit into new contexts. We also need to further democratize theology. How to do this is rather nebulous.
What about a very Eastern Christianity? (I am thinking a little of Borg’s view of a sage-like Jesus) Perhaps like Buddhism there would be a recognition of suffering throughout the Bible (eg Cain, the exile, the destruction of the Temple) culminating in the crucifixion of Jesus. Then there would be an end to the cycle of suffering through the teachings and re-birth of Jesus in… the pure land.
Of course this is REALLY academic. Still, its interesting, I remember a while back there was a historical fiction series where Christianity was spliced with Norse religion and Scandinavia took over Europe… Uffdah!
Peace,
Chris

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Short Happy Life

So, I'm joining "The Alchera Project" The first writing prompt was:
"This month’s starter: I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me. (Hunter S. Thompson)"

So here it is


The Short Happy Life
By Chris Halverson
I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me. Drugs was the first day, alcohol the second. The third day… That was the day of the robbery, the forth… well, I’m only human. Trauma like that, it gets to you. Yet, those four days were the first days of my life.
“Get your arms off of me!” I shouted, scraping the attacker’s face with my key chain.
He grabbed harder, pulling at my wallet.
I turned around
Fuzzy. Fuzzy. It was cuddly, smarmy comfort, piss. I lapped it up as best I could.
“Adam! Adam!”
Funny blue man. I think. “Not so funny,” said the voice.
He was going to attack me. Like before. Like before. Like before.
“No, I understand. Last night was a bit much. It was kind of fast. Fast for me too. Sorry about that by the way.”
“Nothing to be sorry about. I. I enjoyed it.”
“I know,” she said, kissing high on my cheek bone.
I could feel the lipstick cling to me. I smiled, “bye.”
“Bye,” she said, walking down the street, her body swaying the way only a woman’s body can.
You know man. Fuck it. Seriously, if those kids don’t respect you. Fuck em. Tell ‘em they don’t need to be taught,” Allen was pissed. He couldn’t believe that happened. He had been born in Zambia, to him schooling was still a privilege, as he told me all the time, “you know,” he said, “Back in Zambia school was a privilege,” then he’d always tell me about how he even felt it was a privilege to be beaten by Mr. Everet” an overly zealous Anglican school teacher. “You know what. This is going to sound strange, but I even enjoyed it when Mr. Everet would beat me. I felt at least I was learning. It was a hard lesson, but a lesson none the less.”
Blue. That’s what they call ‘em. Blue is black. It’s all sensicle, because black… men can’t be black, so they called them blue. I saw that in that smarmy cute movie.
My head ached. I hadn’t felt like this since I was a freshman back at University. I opened my blurry eyes. Not my bed I think, and look around.
“Wow,” I say, mystified as this woman comes in, with some bacon, toast and an Asprin.
“Hey, Adam,” she said, smiling, satisfied.
She was beautiful, long black hair, athletic build, green eyes, in her mid twenties.
“Hey…”
“Elizabeth.”
“Adam,” I replied. I was already on my 5th drink and the night was young. The music was campy, all smiles. I put out my hand to shake hers. Then. I was all smiles and kissed her hand.
She smiled too. I think she liked me.
“Care to go to a movie?” she asked.
“What’s playing?”
“It… Doesn’t matter,” she replied, pulling me from the barstool. I almost fell into her, she just laughed, and tugged me onward. I followed.
“Tell you what would make you feel better.”
“Hmm?” I questioned.
“One… of these,” he said, producing a little round pill with a hello-kitty image on it.
“I don’t know. That seems.”
“Dude. You have a couple of days off. This doesn’t do anything worse than weed.”
I shrugged him off, “Na. I’m… you know, a teacher… DARE and…”
“Come on Adam. For this week don’t be a teacher. It’s like back home, a right of passage.”
The blue fuzzy African man held me down.
“Calm man, calm. Put that shit,” and something fell from my hands.
“Adam!” he shouted into my ears.
“Did. Did you see
“He didn’t just disrespect me. He attacked me.”
“Shit. That is bad. Tell you what would make you feel better.”
She at down next to me, “So, you’re a teacher.”
“Not a very good one,” I replied.
“Yeah? Why’s that?” she asked, putting her arm around my shoulder and filching one of my toasts as I reclined and ate.
“I was
In America was all that was playing. The parts I caught were kind of entertaining, but not as entertaining as her hands on my chest, her lips on mine, her tongue with mine.
We wrestled through the credits, and the usher, younger than the kids I taught, in his bellhop-looking outfit, humming and hawing, finally made us go.
We turned to a liquor store, and soon enough we were in her flat.
“Why the hell not?” I said, popping the Hello-Kitty into my mouth.
“Should drink something, otherwise your mouth will get kind of dry,” Allen said, handing me a gin and coke.
I swigged it down in one gulp. I felt a bit of a buzz, but I think it was from the drink, “When does this take effect?”
“Should start to feel it pretty soon.”
I decided to go to a ‘Hole in the Wall’ before I went home. I looked at my face in the tinted window of a Woolworths. I liked the red lips she left on my cheek. I couldn’t help but smile. My head was clearing up.
“Mr. Davidson!” someone shouted at me. I could recognize the voice. And he was on me
Twice. Twice. Twice twice twice twicetwicetwicetiwice. Twoittwoittwoit.
“ADAM.”
“Twice!” I shouted at Allen.
“Twice what Adam?” he asked, putting the lamp I had held in my hand onto my dresser.”
“He-he, attacked me two-twi-twice.”
“Who did?”
And hit him hard.
He fell down, as did my wallet. I

I woke up late. It was after noon. My mouth was dry, cottonball dry. On my desk lay my students’ essays about In Cold Blood. They were already graded.
“What the hell?” I looked closely at them. It was my writing, a little sloppy, but my writing.
Sandra. C
You missed the point of the book entirely, it is ‘non-fiction novel.’ I know you can do better.
Thomas. B+
Good stuff. You really are improving. You’re literate now! Good job.
Brad. F
Ssee me after class. This isn’t your writing. You obviously got this from the internet. You’ve done this a lot. I’ve let it slide because I don’t expect much from you. That’s wrong. You deserve to be held to the same standards as the rest of your class… And another thing! If you ever hit me again I swear I’ll rip your heart out.
“Shit.”
I showered, made myself some breakfast, and called up Allen.
“Hey. That was good. You know what. I finished all my grading…”
“What?”
“I finished all my grading. I read 31 four page essays and.”
“Cool. So you have some free time?”
“Yeah.”
“Let’s go drinking tonight. There’s someone I’d like you to meet. She’s the Residential Director at the Empire.”
“Well. I was thinking… I need to…”
“What? You’re done grading, and you don’t have to deal with students for a couple of days still.”
“Okay. I’ll go.”
I was breathing quickly, hyperventilating. “Gotta find Brad.”
“So what, he can attack you again?”
I shook my head no… vigorously.
“Make sure he’s okay.
“This is good,” I said, referring to the breakfast, and the cuddling, and the whole situation.
She nodded.
“You know what? Last night, after you passed out on my bed.”
I laughed at that.
“I got to writing. I hadn’t been able to… to do it well, for a while. But I just sat down next to the bed, watching you kind of writhe around, muttering. And I got something! I wrote a whole monologue in one night!”
I sopped up the last of the yolk with a piece of toast, “What’s it called?”
“The Short Happy Life.”
“Like Hemingway.”
“Yeah!”
Things were smashing around everywhere. Allen was laughing. I was to, but I didn’t know why.
“There you go. Not so bad my little Adisa,” he said, hefting me up and walking me to his car. We drove around for a while in the rain. Things were blurry and passed fast.
“Now my little Adisa,” he always calls me that when he’s gotten me to do something new. It means ‘one who will teach us.’ ‘Adisa why don’t you rap Shakespeare.’ ‘Adisa, let’s go clubbing, maybe you’ll find someone.’
“Yes, sweet Feirefiz,” I responded. Feirefiz was the only black in Arthurian legend.
“Just sit down. Enjoy the night. Do whatever strikes you.”
I nodded, stumbling up the set of stairs to my flat.
I picked it up and put it back in my pocket.
“You know what,” he was getting up from the ground, holding his jaw, “you get an F. Brad. You get an F, its what you deserve. Start taking life seriously. Start realizing this is all you have, and you might as well do well at it!”
I walked off one way, toward the ATM, he ran off the other way. I hear someone shout, “You got it from the teacher!”
I think it was another student, Victor, who said it. I didn’t care.
I had a hell of a time convincing Allen to take me. I was glad he did. Brad’s house was in the worst part of Hackney. I was the only European for miles. I’d stopped stuttering, though the idea was still rather mad.
I knocked on the tenement door.
“Wha’s you want?” asked a skinny African woman.
“Mrs. Carpenter. I’m Mr. Davidson, your son’s teacher I would like to talk to Bradley.”
“Sure, come in. Would you like some tea?”
“Yes please,” Allen followed me from behind, locking his BMW with his keyless entry. Two homeless men were looking at the tire. Allen shrugged, the car beeped, and they went away.
“Bradley Adisa Carpenter, get down here.”
He came down a set of creaky stairs into the kitchen. When he saw me his eyes went big, the pupils went small, the whites large.
“Mr. Davidson. What you doing here?” he chewed on the side of his mouth, looking at Allen. I doubt he watched the kind of movies Allen acted in.
“We both have a little time off from school. I graded your paper, and wanted to talk to you about it. I don’t think you wrote it.”
Mrs. Carpenter was shocked. Bradley nodded, “Nah, I didn’t.”
“But you should have,” I said looking more at Mrs. Carpenter than Bradley.
“Yeah, should have.”

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Prayer request from fellow missionary in Guatemala

Maggie sent me this. Sounds like things are a little ugly right now.

"Hi Friends!

I hope all is well with you guys! It sounds like everyone is having a great time at their various sites.

I have another prayer request - Guatemala is in bad shape right now. I wish this were an email filled with funny stories, but alas.....

We finished language school this past Wednesday and it has been a bit of an adventure ever since, actually our last day was kind of non-existent due to what I thought was only the usual massive amounts of rain that rainy season brings - I don't know if you have heard about it but Guatemala has been ravaged by Hurricane Stan.

I am perfectly safe, as are the other volunteers but the majority of the country is not. Locals here are saying that this hurricane has been more devastating for the country than Mitch back in 1998.
It rained here for 3 or 4 days and has caused massive amounts of flooding and countless landslides. From what I understand from radio reports and newspapers, it seems that almost all the bridges on the Pacific lowlands have been destroyed by the overflowing rivers. There are a lot of people taking refuge on their roofs. In Xela (where I am currently living), the water in Zone 2 was six and a half feet deep. There's no transportation from Xela to much of anywhere.

They are now reporting 250 deaths - I think it may be more by now. I read in an internet article that 30,000 people have been evacuated to shelters from 270 communities.

This is a event with long-term impact. Crops everywhere have been ruined. Most of the Occidente and Sur regions of the country are dramatically affected - this is the area where I was supposed to move on Sunday.

Right now the immediate need is for food and water, but those won't be deliverable until the roads are cleared and bridges repaired/constructed. They are saying it may be two weeks until the roads from here to the Coastal region are cleared and at least 4 days until we can reach the capital city. Marcia thinks it will be longer.

Furthermore, yesterday El Salvador, who was also hit hard by Stan, experienced a large earthquake (I've heard a range on the rictor scale from 5.8-6.5), it was also felt in the Northern regions of Guatemala and in Nicaragua. This is in addition to the volcanic eruption earlier this week in El Salvador and the prediction of another eruption this coming week.

All things considered, we are in high spirits. We are patiently awaiting what we can do to help - attentively observing and taking in all that we can. Please keep us in your prayers.

Peace,
Mags"

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Newsletter two

Chris at St. Marks Newsletter 2
http://www.elca.org/globalserve/youngadults/

Birthday:
On September 20th I turned 22 years old. This was the first time I’ve celebrated a birthday without some family present. I was a little worried that it would be a really trying and emotional birthday. Lucky for me the Wayper, Sarah Carroll, Viktor and Yan wouldn’t allow that. The night before my birthday Yan, Viktor and I drank “Mommas” (Corona with tomato juice) and watched "Napoleon Dynamite" (both sort of quirky American things to do). The next day when I wandered out of the shower in the morning I was greeted with "Happy Birthday" being sung in German and Slovakian. I received a birthday card from a couple from Central, the Lutheran Church in Eugene, and Jon, Sarah, and Liz (the warden and his family) gave me a book about the history of Saffron Walden. I also got crispy chocolates called "Maltesers" from Victor, Yan, and Sarah Carroll. Then we went to Cambridge, bowled and ate at a Portuguese chicken place.

Anglicanism revisited:
In my last newsletter I painted a picture of The Church of England as a church with less spiritual charisma than “the frozen chosen” and characterized their worship as extremely slow. All these characterizations were thrown out the window when I showed up at St. Barnabus (or as members call it St. B’s) in Cambridge. This place would incense the most fervent Baptist or Pentecostal! They have a praise band, people wave their hands in the air, a few people even get up and dance erratically! I was quite impressed (and more than a little surprised) with the worship! They gather tons of young college students and the sermons are all very practical. Last week the sermon was about singleness, the week before it was about prayer. In some ways they are more like lectures than sermons. They are far from fitting Luther’s view of the sermon, that it should convict and forgive, but still very interesting.

Other Churches in England:
For the first time in a long time I’ve been church shopping. It’s interesting, especially because I’m a stranger in a strange land. I’ve been to a Baptist church and a United Reformed Church. The Baptist church used laptops and projectors throughout the sermon, whereas the Reformed Church was much more traditional, the preacher sat down on a chair in front of the altar and just started talking. The Baptists had very upbeat simple songs projected onto a wall; the Reformed Church had hymnals that looked to be very old.
What has impressed me the most about the churches here in England is the style of preaching, it is very logical, very step by step, very intellectual. It is sort of like hearing CS Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” in sermon format.

Certification:
After an intense four days of training I am now certified by the Grand National Archery Society as an archery instructor! I’ve already taught a lot of kids.

Geography:
No one knows where anything is in America! Which I suppose is fair, as I hardly know where anything is in England. Still, it can be frustrating at times because a lot of people ASSUME they know where things are in America. For some reason most British people believe Oregon is slightly North of Florida.
Once I realized no one had a clue where Oregon is (let alone Wyoming where I went to high school) I started to tell them “I’m from Oregon, its right above California.” This opened up a whole new set of unexpected problems. “Do you know George Lucas/Hayden Christensen/ Michael Moore/Jim Carry/Darth Vader/Orlando Bloom etc.” The first couple times I got asked this I thought it was a fluke, but by about the fourth time I realized that wasn’t the case. My eventual response to this do you know X Hollywood was. No, do you know Margaret Thatcher/Tony Blaire/ Niel Gaiman etc
Accents:
Yan, Viktor, and I were comparing notes the other day and we realized British children have no clue what accent goes with what country. Most people assume I am… Irish! I know what you are thinking, Chris, are you trying to sound British, because your accents really aren’t very distinct or good. No, I’m talking like your typical mush mouthed American. One kid went so far as to try and place my accent. He was convinced I was from Indiana.
As for Viktor, the German, they all think he is American. And Yan, the Slovakian, he is Transylvanian.
The Monk:
A little fact about St. Mark’s College that not everyone knows. Its haunted by “The Monk.” I’ve yet to meet him, and I have a distinct impression that he may just be the old wiring in the Abbey, as well as the damp air messing with the smoke detector, but when a light flickers, or a door closes on its own, we say “that’s the Monk.”
A very short story:
The Monk
747 years trapped in these walls. At first I thought it was another exercise, like meditation, or patient suffering, or the Rosary. After a while though, I… I started to question why I am here. I started to wonder if maybe, maybe I was not saved or sanctified.
Then I decided I was waiting in this Infirmary where I died so long ago, for a reason. Maybe I was kept here in this Abbey as a sort of gateway, an umbilical cord between the two worlds. I could see the auras of the sanctified immortals, the Saints bobbing around the crosses and the dim lit halls. So too could I see the dark faces of the living. Maybe my job was to give a holy feel to this place and allow the two worlds to touch. And so I created a certain serenity at St. Mark’s.
Epilogue:
For the last two weeks we’ve had St. Edwards, a school in London, staying with us. Its pretty amazing, we get 30 twelve year olds through here every day for 8 days. We are their religious instruction. Each group has a different subject we examine with them from a Christian perspective. When their 24 hours are done they have to go back to St. Eds and give a 10 minute presentation to the rest of the school.
I’ve been getting to do Epilogue with the kids. Epilogue is more or less a brief evening worship service. I pick a Bible passage, read it, then sort of extemporize a sermon out of it on the spot and close in prayer. Its amazing how many things you can relate 1 Corinthians 12 to!
As some of you know when I preach I always have verbatim notes at my disposal, so free styling like this is really new and exciting to me!

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Weekly Standard on China

As most of you know China's rise to power is one of my foreign policy pet peeves. China is a rather illiberal country that is the only strategic competitor to the US. The Weekly Standard proposes that it may be the next Germany, Japan, or Soviet Union.
My thought is that because of its long cultural history it is more likely that China may simply want to dominate the region, setting up a sort of Asian Monroe Doctrine.
One weird thing Boot said was that there should be created an Asian NATO. My thought was "There is! SEATO! Duh!" So I did some searching and I found out that SEATO was disbanded in 1977! I had no idea.
Maybe we SHOULD try and recreate SEATO. Call it the Asia-Pacific Treaty Organization, include India (one of the US's new favorite post-cold war buddies!), Pakistan (see, this type of alliance might keep the subcontinent from blow itself up!), Japan (I'm not sure how this type of alliance would work concidering the McAurthur constitution), Tailand, Laos, Afghanistan, the Philipines, and... Taiwan. That last one might be too much. That might be enough to start World War 3 (or 4, or 5 depending on what you think about the Cold War as well as the current "War on Terrorism.")
Two problems I see with creating these alliances are:
1. I think back to George Washington's farewell address, but in a global world issolationism is really not an option any more.
2. I think of WW1 being caused by alliances that got out of hand. Creating APTO could make something like a 1 on 1 confrontation between Taiwan vs China into a war between China and its allies vs. the US and its allies, it could spill into Vietnam, Russia could get involved. It could get downright ugly.
That's my international policy thought for the day.
Peace,
Chris

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Recreation: The Salvation History of God

I have 2 days worth of presentations for the kids from St. Edwards to get ready. The first theme is Caring, the second is Recreation. Here is my attempt at a recreation play.

Characters: God, Narrator, Human

Act 1 The Flood
God: Look at them. I gave them Earth. I gave them utter perfection, yet they turn it into perdition; their wickedness is so great. They are corrupt and do much violence, so I will flood the earth, blotting out their transgressions.
Narrator: Thus the rain began, the waters were shed upon the earth, and the flood came. Yet God’s creation is good, loved by God, and redeemable. So God found a man, the best man of his generation, Noah, and said to him.
God: Noah, Child of God!
Noah: (small and frightened) Yes?
God: Build me a boat to carry the animals of the earth, that my creation may be spared. With it I will create a new world.
Noah: Oh… okay.
Narrator: And so Noah made the Arc, and with his family and the animals of Earth God’s creation was spared.

Act 2 Abraham
God: Oy Vey, they create towers, idolatrous things to make themselves gods. Even after the flood humans are still wicked.
Narrator: And so God thought and thought about what he may do to recreate his creation. He would bless one family, one line of people, so that his blessing of them would spill out to all of creation.
God: Abraham, Child of God.
Abraham: Hu?
God: Go from your country and your kindred, and your fathe’rs house to the land that I will show you. I will bless you and by that blessing all the nations of the earth will be blessed.
Abraham: I shall go LORD.

Act 3 Jesus
God: I’ve lived with my people. I have died for them. And now I rise from the dead, in glory, that they may be glorified through me!
People at tomb: You have risen!
God: All of you, Children of God, Go, make disciples of everyone, baptize them, teach them to observe my commandments. I am with you, my new creation.

Act 4 Paul
Narrator: Jesus’ disciples had went out and proclaimed the good news of His resurrection, and the new creation that was taking place. There was a man named Saul who threatened the disciples with death.
God: Saul, Child of God, why do you persecute me?
Paul: Who said that?
God: I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Paul: Forgive me Lord.
God: You are my chosen instrument. You will tell of my new creation to the non-Jews who do not know of my life, death, and resurrection.

Act 4
All: Now, all of you, Children of God, you have been redeemed by Jesus. Go, work within God’s creation towards “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Friday, September 30, 2005

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Harry Reid's new website

I have to say I kind of like Harry Reid. I think he doesn't just want to win elections in blue states, but also in red ones. Not only that but I think him being a Straight talking Nevada Mormon who once choked Latoya Jackson's husband because he tried to bribe Reid he can actually win them!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"I told you not to tell me that"

Goodbye to shoe phones, 99, CHAOS/CONTROL, and the infintile joy of watching "Get Smart" on Nick at Night.
Peace,
Chris

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Clinton’s book

Well, 5 weeks, 969 pages, and a continent ago I started reading Bill Clinton’s “My Life.” I finished it today. I would say anyone who is curious about the politics of the close of the millennium should read this book. Those that want a story that tells you that the American Dream is still alive, read this book. Anyone who wants a nice short read, this book is not for you. “My Life” does get tedious at times, as it is long; Clinton drops names and remembers events like no other. He also occasionally repeats himself. The majors points of interest, at least for me, that “My Life” emphasized were as follows.
Clinton’s Vision:
Clinton viewed his 8 years as president as dedicated to transferring the world from a Cold War mentality to a world founded on global interconnectivity. This transition meant America had to focus less on traditional conflict and out spending the enemy, and more on dealing with Narco-trafficers and terrorists, building global consensus, paying down the debt, and re-investing in America through a focus on education and employment. He saw his domestic job as forging a more prefect union by expanding opportunity for all through common sense programs that gave people a hand, not a handout.
Politics versus Policy:
I guess it may be due to my own ignorance, or perhaps because I have grown up in these particularly political times, but I didn’t have a firm grasp between the difference between politics and policy. Policy is the actual law/act that happens, politics is more the wrangling and showboating to get the policy done. A major problem is that quite often politics takes precedence over policy. Politics should never replace policy, when that happens government becomes nothing more than empty words “full of sound and fury signifying nothing” to quote a different William.
The Ugly Stuff:
Starr was neither independent nor impartial. Independence should mean that Starr was not biased either for or against Clinton. The Republicans in Congress were able to spin it so the original counsel was supposed to be hostile to Clinton, and in fact the original Independent Counsel, Robert B. Fiske Jr, was kicked out
because he was appointed, rightly, by Reno. Starr spent 70 million dollars of America’s tax dollars, and 5 years of investigation. He was originally supposed to investigate Clinton’s business deals. When that turned up nothing he kept going, hounding people who knew Clinton, even imprisoning Susan McDougal for 18 months, trying to get her to falsely testify against the Clintons. Starr also was in cahoots with the right wing lawyers who had taken over the Paula Jones case. He was looking for ANYTHING to trap Clinton. It was not about Justice and rule of law, but about humiliating and emasculating the President of the United States. It was about power and politics, plain and simple.
The first year or so of Clinton’s presidency is pretty telling, in that he bungled dealing with the media and Washington’s Punditocracy pretty badly.
His “Legacy”:
Bill isn’t really worried about his legacy, he says it won’t be fully understood until after he’s dead. Here are the things I thought will be remembered:
1. Globalization. Clinton was pro-globalization, and made no qualms about it. He saw the only way to live in a post-Cold War world was to integrate economies across the globe, to spread and create wealth for everyone. His micro-loan program created indigenous controlled businesses that helped local communities buy and sell goods in a global market. Clinton wasn’t for strengthening faceless multi-national companies, but bringing everyone onto an equal playing field, where healthy competition could happen. Globalization would also tear down walls of oppression, as globalization is not just a force for internationalizing good, but also for internationalizing information. Whether NAFTA, China’s entry into the WTO, etc did this is still up in the air, but I think his high ideals when it came to the benefits of globalization have effected globalization, and the world can never go back to how it was before.
2. His work on the Good Friday Accord. He made some pretty gutsy moves, including giving a former IRA terrorist a Visa to the US, putting him at odds with the UK. He worked to give both sides a voice, and brought many people into the peace process, changing violent malcontents into vocal dreamers. His policy decisions brought peace to Northern Ireland.
3. His commitment to peace in the Middle East. The best chance for real and lasting peace in a long time happened under Clinton’s watch, and if Issac Rabin had not been murdered I think there might be a more peaceful situation in Israel right now. That said Arafat screwed up big time when he didn’t work with Clinton’s later proposal.
4. He gave Democrats an answer to the Republican charge that the Democratic Party can’t govern. Lets face it the Dems had a long drought of controlling the Executive branch. It was easy enough for the Republicans to say “my opponent can’t govern,” when there was little empirical proof to the contrary. But now Democrats can say under Clinton/Gore we paid down the national debt, reduced welfare roles by creating new jobs, cut the crime rate, created better schools, lessened the number of abortions, and made the government smaller… In short, “to live like a Republican you need to vote for a Democrat.”

That’s about all I have for you.
Peace,
Chris

Friday, September 16, 2005

I've been thinking about Creationism being taught in schools

I've concluded Intelligent Design should not be taught in Biology classes, because biology seems to have as its foundation Evolution. Maybe though in Physics classes Intelligent Design should be taught. For more on this read this LC article.
Peace,
Chris

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bono on Jesus

Professor Falk sent me this article. Bono is very strong in his faith, and articulate.
Peace,
Chris

Monday, September 12, 2005

Chris at Saint Mark’s: Newsletter One

I would like to preface this by saying I went to an Anglican church in Cambridge last night that bucks all the trends I've written about Anglicanism in this newsletter. More on that next month.
Peace,
Chris

Chris at Saint Mark’s: Newsletter One

GREETINGS ALL. There has been a lot going on. I’ve been working at St. Mark’s for over a week now. I’ve started to get the hang of the sports around here and I’ve been to Cambridge. And, now I’ve put together a newsletter!

Anglicanism:
In the last two weeks I’ve attended 3 Anglican services. One of them in an old rural church, one in the cafeteria of a huge cathedral-like church, and one in the actual cathedral church. The services differed quite a bit, from a 15 person service with music provided by children playing saxophone and clarinet to a slow creaking organ playing to 100 some people, to an electric keyboard in an ancient church. The sermons have run the gamut from wishy-washy social gospel, to a Children’s sermon, to a call for the church to be something different than the world, to be salt, to be light.
I’m getting the hang of Anglican worship. The music is MUCH slower than what I’m used to and there are no musical notes to go with the songs. A personal, not corporate, relationship with God is emphasized. The Liturgy (order of worship) is quite similar, though not the same as that of the Lutheran church. This caused a bit of confusion on my part, as the words I responded were 90 percent the same as those everyone else did, but occasionally I would slip up. For example both the Lutherans and the Anglicans benedict (end the service calling the people to go out into the world) saying “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” But the Lutherans respond “Thanks be to God,” whereas the Anglicans respond “In the name of Christ. Amen.” Also I’ve noticed that the Lutherans sing a lot more of the liturgy than do the Anglicans, which surprises me, as the charge is often made against the Anglican Church that they are Crypto-Catholics.

Cambridge:
I had a day off this Saturday so I went to Cambridge! I biked to the railway, put my bike on the train, and road around Cambridge. I almost got killed when I first entered onto the road from a bike path as I started by riding on the right side of the road. Then a monster sized moving truck barreled at me. I’ve stayed on the left side since then!
Cambridge is a beautiful city. There were many old buildings. Everything looked as ornate as an old church. What I found strange about Cambridge was that there were TONS of tourists wandering around the college (in fact you could pay for gondola tours of campus if you wanted to). I'm not sure how the students handle all the attention Cambridge gets.
I found out that “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” was playing at The Cambridge Corn Exchange Theater so I went and saw it! When I came out it was wet! It had rained a lot. I sloshed back home, muddy and wet as all get out.
The adventurous part of me is thinking I may try and apply to the Cambridge Divinity School. It's just a vague dream right now, but we'll see “what dreams may come,” to quote the play.




British Games:
As you know by now when I came to St. Mark’s the only think I knew I would be doing was teaching Trampoline and Archery. Since then I have realized this job mostly involves serving our guests, cleaning dishes, and tidying up rooms. I have yet to instruct anyone on archery, but I have been instructed about archery quite a bit. Right now I am half-way through certification for becoming an archery instructor. I’ve become a deadly shot at 10 yards and can shoot both sighted and with a bare-bow.
Another exciting sport I’ve started to pick up is Cricket! Jon, my boss, bowled me a couple of balls the other day. It’s an amazingly complex game that I can only describe as a mix between Hockey, Baseball, and Croquette that can last for days on end. The biggest misconception I had about the game was that I assumed the batter’s goal was the same as a batter in Baseball, but I’ve found out he is in some ways more of a goalie, keeping the pitcher from hitting a wicket with a ball. Right now England is playing Australia, I think it is about day 4 now. If England wins it will be a major upset.
As for the Trampoline Viktor and Yan have taken to it like Penguins to ice. I’m still, for some reason, a bit cautious.

Joseph, a mirror image of Jesus:
I mentioned earlier that I saw “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” when I went to Cambridge. One thing that caught my attention was that Joseph’s story has many parallels with Jesus’. I may have noticed this because Andrew Loyd Weber, who wrote “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” also wrote “Jesus Christ Super Star” and I noticed how similar the two stories were rendered. Still, I think there are a lot of similar themes.
For example one of the main characterizations of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark is that of Hidden Messiah. That is throughout the Gospel only the reader knows that Jesus is the Messiah, everyone else is left wondering who Jesus is. That Jesus is the Christ is only revealed at the end of the Gospel. Likewise Joseph hides his identity from his brothers, and his identity is only revealed at the end of the story.
Also both Jesus and Joseph are betrayed, Joseph by all but one of his brothers, Jesus by one of his disciples. Both are jailed, both meet a ruler (Pilate and Pharaoh).


A very short story:
Wash
“I’ve washed all day.”
“Well, wash some more kid,” said Melvin.
Rick sighed, and bent down again, scrubbing hard against the teakettle. He could see himself in it. It was because polishing is a metaphor. He was polishing himself as he served, as he, as he said, ‘washed all day’ he was washing himself, scrubbing away his previous understanding of life, refining it, making it more true to life.
“Praise be,” he said, smiling.


Words:
As I mentioned before my American English has gotten me into some trouble here in England. So far I’ve talked about my underwear when I meant to talk about my pants, I’ve claimed to put gravy on my cookies, I’ve talked about flatulence when I meant to be discussing the price of gasoline, and I keep calling Potato chips French Fries.
So here is a small list of British English to US English:
cream crackered- Sleepy
Pants- Underwear
Trousers- Pants
Scone- Biscuit
Biscuit- cookie
Public School- Private School
State School- Public School
Petrol- Gas
Banger- Sausage

Friday, September 09, 2005

Childrens' reminders about the sin in Darfur

Angery newscaster! Check out the clip!

I don't think I've ever seen anything this editorialized!
Peace,
Chris

"I need a hero"

In our flat here we have very few CD's. The only one that we've been listening to is the soundtrack to Shrek2. Specifically we've been listening to "Holding out for a Hero." Its a really catchy song. If I ever run for political office that'll be my theme song. Seriously, think of it, the huge crowd hanging out waiting for the man who can lead the Democratic party from irrelivance and impotence to office and importance. Its getting late, the young kids in the crowd start to droop, then the red, white, and blue bus is spotted in the distance, and the music starts "Where have all the good men gone?" etc.
Anyway I've been reading Clinton's autobiography. I just finished the '92 elections. His tour of the country was really cool! Romantic almost. So that's why I actually thought of what song I'd use as an introduction.
Peace,
Chris
PS When I finished the Clinton tome I'll give a full report. Right now the most important thing I've learned is the differance between policy and politics. I don't think Clinton won because of his politics (though I it didn't hurt) but instead because he was more or less a policy wonk, he was able to articulate plainly his policies!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

FEMA says ---NY,Katrina,San Fran

Top three most likely dissaters per FEMA back in 2001, Terrorist attack in NY, hurricane in New Orleans, and an earthquake in San Fransico... two for three so far.
Peace,
Chris

Garrison Kelor sells out?

Heard the strangest thing on the Radio this morning. I'm washing dishes, half-way listening to the British announcer yammer on about music trivia, and then a familiar voice comes on. GK, and he's selling Honda!?! It was really bizarre, has anyone heard this in the US?
Peace,
Chris
PS in other news Cricket is fun, I built my own bed, and... Cricket is fun.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Kibble Prayer From Lutheranchik

Thought this was a good article, God seeing our prayers as "oh, that's cute..." Not the most orthodox sentimanet,s but I liked the idea anyway!
By the way, had my first day off, went into Saffron Walden. Beautiful! It's like I'm living in a victorian romance minus the romance!
Peace,
Chris

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Rudy/Rick '08 GOP

That's my guess in '08. Sanatorum would balance Rudy G's liberalism when it comes to social issues. We'll see.
Peace,
Chris

Thursday, September 01, 2005

From England With Love (letter 2)

Hi all. Its been a busy week or two. I was in Chicago for a week of training at LSTC (Luther Theological Seminary Chicago). For the most part I had an amazing time. I met hordes of young energetic Lutherans and Presbyterians and bonded with them. We learned a whole lot about other cultures, how not to be the “Ugly American,” shared faith stories, and of course went over the do’s and don’t’s of the program. We also got to listen to some wonderful speakers, especially Winston, from Wartburg Seminary (who I had met previously on a Seminary tour with Pastor Sarah), who’s basic thesis was that one’s Biography changes the way they read the Bible and understand their Faith. He used a lot of comparrisions between Cricket and Baseball to drive the point home. And Rick Ufford Chase, from the Presbyterian Church USA, was another great speaker. He discussed Structural Sin using Mark 5 (Jesus’ interaction with the Demoniac). He gave a brief history of Latin American economics through role playing, and also discussed the Presbyterian Church’s work with Mexican Immigrants.
By the last day of training we were quite drained; pretty much been lectured out. And so we left for England Monday Afternoon. We had a harrowing flight in which a woman flipped out and attacked Stewardesses and ended up being subdued for the flight (very disconcerting, she screamed madly the whole rest of the flight over the Atlantic!). We arrived in London Tuesday Morning around 7AM. I promptly found my bed at Chester House, the Retreat Center outside of London where the Time For God training was held, and fell asleep. Then we entered into more training. It was geared a lot to our non-English speaking colleagues (who make up most of the group), though it dealt with many important issues, homesickness, relating to one’s supervisor, and British culture. We also had a little bit of free time in which I checked out London proper (it turns out when you to London from anywhere else in England you go “up” which, interestingly enough is the same thing that one does when they go to Jerusalem, one “Goes up.” I’m sure there are all kinds of interesting cultural nuances one could glean from the fact that Americans often go “downtown.”). Tonight we had country presentations. The US contingent decided to deal with regional dialects. We covered the North East, the South, the Midwest, and I handled the Northwest. Here is the utterly Northwesternized thing I said:

I’m from Eugene Oregon, also known as Nikeville. Eugene is a pretty dank town, though a bit hippy-wo-wo. Of course I’m kind of Granola, not a Trustafarian mind you, so I don’t mind.
Oregonians take sports seriously. There are the Jailblazers in P-town, not to mention the annual Civil war between the Ducks and the Beavers. I’m gang-green.
In Cascadia we take our Java seriously. As you may know Starbucks was born in Latteland. Most webfeet get a double shot. Of course if they are about to go to bed they order a why bother or a Chi. If you feel like Californicating you ask the barista to fill you with led.

I’ll let you translate that yourself. (just to make sure no one gets the wrong idea Californicating is acting like a Californian, not what you were thinking, get your mind out of the gutter).
Tomorrow morning I go off by train to my placement in Saffron Walden. I’ll get to meet my supervisor as well as my room mates Ian (pronounced yawn) and Victor.
Peace,
Chris