Thursday, April 1, 2010

Red birds

I haven’t updated in a while! It’s time to play catch-up.

School is going pretty good. Things are about to get real busy this month, though. I have several papers due and two final exams. I registered for Fall 2010 this week! I will be taking New Testament, Systematics, History of Methodism, and another Old Testament class called “Texts of Terror.” I am also taking a class during August term on prophetic literature. It is hard to believe I am almost finished with my first year of seminary. Here are just a few things I have learned so far:

1. I have learned that my spiritual life is still my responsibility. Spiritual growth and maturity is something I have been very intentional about. It’s easy to think that being at a school with other future pastors and church leaders will cultivate a super charged, spiritually high environment. On the contrary, this has probably been one of the more difficult times for me to read the Bible devotionally. I have learned a variety ways to analyze the historical/literal contexts and various genres. Therefore, I’ve had to resist treating my Bible like a textbook.

2. Coffee is a must. Period. I plan on mailing the owner of Caribou Coffee a “Thank you” card one day.

3. Sleeping is a luxury. I will forever cherish the days when I don’t have to wake up to my blaring alarm clock and dark sky.

4. I have learned the art of speed reading! The amount of reading in seminary is unreal and almost impossible (Thank you Dr. Jenkins).

Just a few other ramblings…

It was wonderful outside today. The sun was out, there was not a cloud in sight, and I am pretty sure the temperature got into the 80s. After a cold winter here in Atlanta, it was good to enjoy the sunshine and warmth that spring offered. I think I am going to wear flips-flops tomorrow for the first time this semester. Also, I saw two red birds today while walking to the shuttle. I really like birds. . . I’m not sure why. I think it’s because they get to fly around, sing songs, and perch in trees all day. Sounds like a good time to me.

I braided my hair last night before I went to bed. When I woke up this morning I looked liked Hermione. Oh yes. I didn’t leave the house with it like that, but I thought about it. However, by happy accident, I know how I am going to fix my hair for the next Harry Potter party that will no doubt go down this summer. Oh how I am ready for summer. I will be in Mobile for almost three whole months! :)

Ah, summer
How I wait for thee
how beautiful you are...

(We covered Song of Songs today in OT).

More later…

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Take Care

I should be working on a paper right now, but I am going to avoid productivity for a little while longer. I have enjoyed my break from school this week! It has been nice sleeping in as late as I want and only feeling obliged to get out of bed so I can watch Gilmore Girls reruns at 10:00 a.m. in my pajamas. However, the week is almost over. I am trying to live in the moment and not get sad knowing that I just have a few more days of liberty.

There is only about a month and a half left in the semester. I can’t believe I have almost completed my first year of seminary! It will be nice being home for few months this summer. I have a pretty big list of books I want to read, and I am looking forward to seeing the new Harry Potter and Twilight movies (nerd alert). Speaking of Twilight, my friend Katie sent me the link for the new trailer for Eclipse. It still looks like Kristen Stewart couldn’t act her way out of a paper bag. She only has two facial expressions that indicate she is experiencing any state of heightened emotion: furrowing her brows and blinking her eyes profusely.

I did some more reading on food production last night. I had a friend recommend the movie Food Inc. and suggest that I check out the website. So, I went to the website for Food Inc. and ended up coming across another site that had a video on factory farming. I only was able to watch about half of it before I started crying.

On some of today's factory farms, animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy windowless sheds, wire cages, gestation crates, and other confinement systems. These animals will never raise their families, root in the soil, build nests, or do anything that is natural to them. They won't even feel the sun on their backs, breathe fresh air, or feel the touch of a human hand. The factory farming system of modern agriculture strives to maximize output while minimizing costs. Cows, calves, pigs, chickens, and other animals are kept in small cages, in jam-packed sheds, or on filthy feedlots, often with so little space that they can't even turn around or lie down comfortably.

I think this just shows what the consumerist mindset has done to our reverence of life. This mindset has not only infiltrated they ways in which we treat the earth and its creatures, but how we treat each other. It is no wonder we hurt each other and use each other only for individual gain.

All creation is God’s and we are responsible for the ways in which we use it. Water, air, soil, and animal life are to be valued because they are also God’s creation. They are just one of the ways in which God provides for us. I think when we lose sight of this, or begin to take it for granted, we lose sight of one of the fuctions of our call to be the Imago Dei. After all, God puts man in the garden of Eden and charges him to work it and take care of it. And it is through the creation story that we are allowed to see God's vantage point and the goodness of creation. This should evoke responsible action in us for the care of the earth, its creatures, and each other.

Well, I better try to get some more pages written for this paper. I hope I find some inspiration for four more pages! :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

How long, O Lord?

So last Thursday I had my Old Testament midterm. I think I did pretty well. I always leave feeling a little less than confident about my essays, though. It is a challenge to write two high-quality essays, along with the rest of the short answer and identification on the test, in just an hour and a half. It takes time to create a thoughtful and well structured essay. I felt like I was just hastily writing down every fact I knew about the prophets and psalms. But I’m hoping for the best! My TA is Lutheran, so he should be full of grace…right?

One of the essays I selected to answer was on the lament psalms. I ended up having only like 10 minutes to spend on this essay, but I enjoyed writing it. It felt like I learned something while writing, and to my surprise I got a little “preachy” towards my conclusion. So I guess I’d just like to share what I wrote and learned.

Lament psalms are psalms of grief, anger, or pain. One of the prompts was for us to discuss the implications of the loss of lament. My professor has talked about how the language of lament isn’t in our prayers and how the lament psalms don’t really show up in church liturgy.

So what happens when we lose the lament form? Well, in the words of the esteemed Walter Bruggemann (a retired Old Testament professor and author of like 100+ books), the lost of lament is costly. When we lose lament, we lose genuine covenant relationship with God. We lose a relationship that is personal, honest and sometimes brutal. The fact that we are in a covenant relationship with God means that we can offer more than just praise. Interaction and communion between both parties involves vulnerable authenticity and trust. Genuine covenantal love flows out of the faith that integrates confessions of questioning, doubts, and fears with songs of worship.

I think maybe our culture doesn’t allow us the time to express grief or fear, especially with others or in the public eye. It is a sad testimony to culture that has made the individual sacrosanct and self-sufficiency an eschatological aim. We are afraid to share our fears and pain with each other, maybe because we think we should have it all together. But church shouldn’t be a place where everyone feels like they have to have it all together. If we don’t allow ourselves to express the full range of real human experience with God, we’ll end up denying and covering up parts of ourselves. There is no new life or transformation via cover-up and denial. God is no longer a God who transforms our lives but just guarantor of the status quo. Our faith becomes infantilized if all we do is tune in to positive thinking. As a future church leader, I hope I am able give space to the language of lament as a part of worship.

Hmm…well, I could probably say more but for now I must get back to my studies. I have a pretty big “to-do” list this week. The first installment of my History of Christian Thought midterm is tomorrow. That’s right, my professor is giving us a two-day midterm. I am starting to get a little nervous.

On a different note, I am beyond excited for Spring Break. I will be in Mobile for 9 whole days! It has been too long since I have been home for a visit. I can’t wait to see family, friends and a special someone. :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

This one's short.

Today was absolutely beautiful. Although I spent most of it cooped up inside a coffee shop, I was allowed a little glimpse by way of my window seat. I was sitting there with a hot latte in hand, music turned up, and my Bible open. I was truly thankful. It was a quiet and simple moment, but I couldn't help but take notice of how blessed I am.

My Old Testament exam on Thursday is going to be a beast. Thankfully I have really enjoyed learning all of the material: Psalms and the prophetic literature! It doesn’t make studying so bad.

On that note, I will leave with little word from one of the prophets. "Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; I will make with you an everlasting covenant…"

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Inagural blog

My friend Whitney was telling me about her blog a while ago and it kindled my interest. I have felt the need to journal my experiences lately, especially those at seminary. I think journaling is a special type of writing because you don’t really expect anyone else to read what you’ve written. I have always enjoyed journaling, and I think written reflection can be really helpful. Instead of thoughts just floating around in your head, they become tangible words on a page and often evidence of your growth when you refer back to them. Blogging, however, puts your journal out there for others to see. I think this is why I have never jumped on board with blogging because it seems so revealing. But I feel compelled to share all that I am taking in and processing with others. Maybe this is because of the overwhelming nature of being a first year seminary student (and sometimes feeling as though my head will explode if I am introduced to one more Old Testament scholar or read another article on community leadership). I hope this blog serves as an outlet for my thoughts and experiences but also lets other people into my world as a seminarian... or just as a person trying to live a life in response to God.

So Wednesday marked the beginning of the Lenten season. I decided to give up meat, thinking it would be difficult. I was hesitant with this decision at first. I didn't want to give something up just for the sake of a challenge. I am giving up meat, but I have also decided to put something in its place. During Lent I want to spend some time learning more about food production and land use. I read this book last semester titled "Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture." This book showed me that the Bible illustrates a concern for the earth and the well-being of its creatures. Biblical writers were familiar with disputes over land use and land care, and the economics of food production were critical to their perspective. I think this is an area that readers haven't really given much attention to (me included), especially at a time when the technology of the information age has sort of reduced our ability to really know the natural world through direct experience. I hope to become more mindful and thankful about what I use and how I treat it.

Well, I better get back to my Saturday afternoon. This includes making note-cards for my Old Testament exam and taking advantage of the free refills on coffee at Caribou. I might even get real crazy and ask for a flavor shot of caramel.

More to come later... :)