Short Term Relationships

The interesting thing about knowing I'm going to be leaving here in less than three months is that I find myself attracted to a lot more of the guys here. And I think it's because (for better or worse) I'm not thinking in terms of long term relationships, but just in terms of: "Hey, he seems like a good guy. I could probably have some fun being in a 3 month relationship with him, enjoy the affection, and learn some things." And when it's just for a few months, I feel like I don't really have any hard and fast standards or anything.
But I don't know if I could actually do that--like, just have a relationship that I knew wasn't going anywhere. I feel like for me to really invest, I can't know for sure that it's going to end really soon. And I can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
I have some friends that are like--hey just have fun, learn, love, be loved, it's all good. And some friends that think it's better not to get involved with someone you know you couldn't be serious about. I think I'm more of the latter, but maybe I need more of the former in me. I dunno.


Bringing it into the light...

So last night, while I was hanging out with a couple of friends, we got to talking about shame. Well, first we were talking about guilt, and about how almost all women carry around so much guilt that isn't theirs to carry. And then I told my hilarious joke that says: "Show me a woman who doesn't carry around a deep and nagging sense of guilt, and I'll show you a man." Hilarious.

But anyway, back to shame. So it was a really good time of being able to talk about shame. More than that, it was a time when some powers of shame were broken; because, as I've seen time and time again in the past, the thing that best breaks shame is bringing it into the light and telling people about what it is that you are feeling ashamed of. Even if it's bad, and even if they have a reaction like "Holy S--t, I can't believe you did that!" there is still a power that gets broken when another person knows about it. Shame really thrives in secrecy. So I think we'll have another shame-breaking session again soon.

Loosely connected to this thing about all women and shame and society, I have to give a giant "YOU SUCK" shout out to most of the Olympic figure skating announcers on NBC. I didn't watch all of the figure skating, by any means, but when I did watch it I was appalled by the way they talked about some of the skaters. After one skater, who wasn't super awesome or super terrible, one of the announcers said something like, "She is a nice skater. She has a nice figure, nice long, slender legs, and she looks great in that costume." And this was basically the extent of the comments "about" her performance. I was like HOLD THE PHONE! (Okay, I didn't really say that exactly, because I've never used that phrase before in my life.) But I was just totally beside myself in thinking that here was an athlete who spends all her time training for her sport, and she has made it to the F-ing Olympics, and the announcer focuses in on how hot her legs look in her costume. That speaks volumes. Plus, I just hate in general how the announcers always make all these psychological judgements about every skater. They are idiots.

And on one last note, only if you feel like you know me well enough to do so, please fill out some qualities you think I have in my Johari Window.


Memories of Feelings

**Just as a point of clarification, my professor actually does know how Africa is shaped. It was just a very quick, spontaneous sketch for the board, and he wasn't too worried about the specifics; he just wanted us to have a general idea of where things were.

OK, on another topic, from time to time I think about the two guys in my life for whom I've had the strongest romantic feelings. Tonight it came up because I saw this singer/songwriter perform who I met once before for like 5 minutes, and had been idealizing him ever since. Anyway, about these 2 guys I think about, unfortunately neither of them was ever my boyfriend, which is sad to say. (Luckily, no old boyfriends read these blogs, or they would be really offended.) Anyway, these feelings were not just crushes, or infatuations, or even strong feelings of affection; they were deep down soul squeezing feelings. On a whole other level.
One of them was a guy I knew for a time in L.A.--but he had a girlfriend working on her PhD at an Ivy League school on the East Coast, so after we started getting really close, we had to stop hanging out (since his girlfriend was across the country, and here he was developing strong intimacy with a girl in his town). And that was really hard, but a real move of faithfulness and integrity on his part. It only made me like him more, damn him! Anyway, he moved out of L.A. a few months later, and he and his girlfriend married.
The other one I met at church here in Atlanta. We got to know each other in Bible study over the course of about a year. Then we went out one time--we went to an exhibit at the High Museum in Atlanta. A few days later I left for Christmas break in CA, and when I came back he had moved out of state and in with his parents because his mom was dying. His mom did die, and he ended up staying in that other state. He also now has a long-term girlfriend, and I'm sure will be married soon if he isn't already.
And so from time to time I wonder about my own memory of my feelings for them, and I think: is this just a case of me not getting to know these guys well enough to see all their flaws? You know, like they are idealized in my mind because we never spent enough time together that I saw the real truth of their jacked-up, selfish sides? -OR- Is it that these two experiences are evidence that this kind of love is truly possible and worth looking for?
The answer is not really important right now. It's just something I think about, and I thought I'd share. Anyone else have those people who you totally adored, never got to know as well as you would have liked to, and remain idealized in your mind up to this day? Do you think it has a positive or negative effect?


Rorschach Test

This weekend was AWESOME, and so needed. It was just so nice to be in a cabin in the mountains, and to be with people I love. There was even a 4 month old with us, and he added something very nice to the community. We each had a turn to talk about our life story, and about how our understanding and practice of prayer has changed over time. We ended up talking a lot about our families too. It was just a really, really good time. There were a few moments of romantic distraction (no, not with Frank), but it didn't put a damper on anything. I am really grateful for the weekend.

On a totally unrelated, and lighter note, something hilariously immature happened in my U.S. Religious History class today. The professor drew the following on the board:

Now, if your first thought is--Oh yeah, that's Africa! then you're right. He was talking about the slave trade and the development of African-American religious movements in the 1700's, and just drew a quick map on the board to use to show us some of the geography. However, as soon as he drew that up on the board, let's just say I definitely did not see Africa. And I was trying my hardest not to bust into laughter, so I was biting my lip and staring at the table. But my friend behind me (who knows how my mind works a little too well) could tell what was going on, and she called my name and started holding in her own laughter. She actually had to leave the room to go bust out laughing in the hallway.

Ah, seminary. I'm glad to see that over the years I have gained the maturity of a 7th grade boy.


A Welcomed Respite

Let me just say, God is Good. Can I hear an Amen?

After I wrote my entry yesterday, as I was praying before bed, I was thinking about how frustrated I was about being misunderstood, and how very very hard that is for me. It was so hard that people were not getting the real essence of what I was saying, and that they were coming with their criticisms rather than coming with their questions wanting to really try to see where I was coming from. And I just started thinking, I don't think I'm a strong enough person for these kinds of things. Because these are not just fun theological issues that I discuss in my spare time, they are at the center of who I am, how I view God, and what I think Christianity is; all based primarily on who I think Jesus is and how I read the New Testament. And anyway, it is not easy to have those things on the public chopping block.

But anyway, when I started praying, God really calmed me down and helped me realize that this is about God, and I need to trust God with whatever results happen. So I just prayed that God would take it from here, and that whatever needed to happen would happen. Not that I'm totally taking myself out of the process of what's happening, but I am really weary from all of this, and from people wanting to talk about it all the time, express their criticism, etc. There's only so much of that I can handle. And the bottom line is, God is more capable than I. I trust God to be God.

So, providentially, this weekend I'll be going with some friends from church (including the Frankinator) for an informal retreat type thing up at someone's aunt's giant house out in the country. It will be so SO SOOOO good to spend some time with friends, and not to have to talk constantly about why I think rivalry is not a good thing in a Christian community, and about why I am wrong. It's a welcomed break, and I am super grateful to God.


The Award Saga Continues...

Well, today the Eisegesis came out (the unofficial, student newspaper here at my seminary), with my little tongue-in-cheek article about how I didn't really appreciate how the recipients and of each scholarship, and the scholarship type/amount, were publicly named and pictured in our seminary's newsletter--mostly it's about how I didn't like how this affected the community. This is on the heels of the petition that I passed around about not announcing the awards, out loud, during the graduation ceremony. So this whole awards thing is one of the conversation topics around the campus.

Here are a few things I've realized, as a result of doing this whole thing:

1) One of the most unhappy results of putting myself out there in this way has been that my stance has been misinterpreted/misunderstood. I think that must be something people who publish their ideas regularly struggle with all the time. People hear about the issue, or read something, and then filter it through their own lens, and then decide what they think I'm saying and why I'm saying it. This is a really hard thing for me, and I have to fight the urge to post a public statement refuting the most common misconceptions about my position. There are 2 main misconceptions.
A-That I'm against honoring people in general, because I think if you honor someone this necessarily means someone else is diminished. and
B-That I'm doing this for the sake of people who don't win awards, so their self-esteem won't be damaged.
These are both very very false (though A is more false than B). I am doing this because I don't think competition is the way we should interact with our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. I ABSOLUTELY believe people should be honored. I think we should be affirming, honoring, and exhorting each other all the time! But the point is, it should not be set up as a competition. And it is not just for people who don't win awards--having a community that is mutually affirming and non-competitive is for the good of EVERYONE, not just people who lose.

2) When you put something in writing, you risk having a typo that kind of messes up what you were trying to say. (The whole last paragraph of my article is supposed to have some key phrases of a Bible verse struck-through and replaced with other phrases next to them, but there is no strike-through...so the paragraph is really awkward and kind of lame...)

3) Even with 1 and 2, I am still really glad this is being talked about. Whether or not it actually happens, I at least feel positively about the fact that the conversation is happening, and people are thinking about it.

4) I really, emphatically believe that Christian community and competition don't mix. In fact, I've decided to do a thorough study of Philippians over the course of the semester, and to delve into Paul's theology of rivalry, competition, and the Christian life. I think I will write something academic on it, just for fun.

5) It has gotten easier for me to take the risk of being in the spotlight when I feel it's necessary, even though I still don't enjoy it. But I'm getting better at accepting the fact that some people will want to tear down anyone who's in the spotlight...and that shouldn't keep me from stepping out when I feel that I need to. Damn though, it sure is stressful.


Day of Petitioning...

I have spent several hours today discussing my petition (see last entry) with students, faculty, and administrators. I also went to talk with the people who put out Columbia's official newspaper, since my little satirical article taking issue with it will be coming out in the underground student newspaper this week. It only seemed right that I speak to the people in person before coming out with my issues in print. Tomorrow I'll collect the signatures for the petition. So far everyone (with the exception of one student who is very against it) seems to be on board with the idea of not announcing prize/award recipients during the graduation ceremony. It has been interesting to hear people's reactions. I definitely expect there to be more people who are not keen on the idea. But we'll see.

I'm also aware of the fact that this could have reprecussions I don't love...namely, that I am not given awards I otherwise might have gotten. Though, I doubt that would really happen, I still think it's a possible outcome. And if it does, well, sometimes there's a cost to following the path of discipleship you feel God has laid out for you. (Not that missing out on awards makes me some kind of martyr. I'm not that short-sighted. I'm just saying it is a cost--even if not an extremely high one.) Plus, I might not have gotten any awards anyway. We'll never know.

I'm trying to figure out what to write for Valentine's Day tomorrow. Guess I'll save that for tomorrow. I will say, though, that I was talking with a guy today who was so startlingly good looking that I had a really hard time being able to keep looking into his face while I was talking to him (and I'm a hardcore eye contact kind of person). It was almost like looking directly into the sun. Weird. (No, I'm not interested in him, it was just an interesting experience I thought I'd share for the sake of Valentine's Day.) Have a good one.


A Petition

So...I've decided to circulate a petition in my senior class. Now, I've never really been the "circulate a petition" type, but I feel really strongly about this issue. I recently found out that the seminary announces the winners of several different awards and prizes at our graduation ceremony. What this usually means is that a small handful of our about 70 graduating Master of Divinity students will get special recognition at our graduation ceremony (often, a few students get multiple awards). To me, this feels really wrong. I have no problem with people getting awards (I will be applying for a couple, I think), but on a day when we are all celebrating three years of work, and the journey it took to get us through seminary, I just don't think it's right to make it a day of hierarchy. (Also, I have a satirical piece coming out in an underground campus newspaper this week, on the issue of awards; and felt this was a necessary supplement to that.) Here are the words of the petition, we'll see what happens:

I am a graduating senior, and I am signing this petition to express my desire that the names of those M.Div. students who win awards and prizes not be announced, out loud, during the graduation ceremony taking place on May 20, 2006. I believe that this should be an occasion where we can all, as a class, feel equally honored and celebrated for our years of hard work here at Columbia Theological Seminary. I do not feel it would be uplifting to the body of Christ to express greater honor to certain members of the graduating class, but could instead create an environment of disappointment, pride, comparison, and competition that are not the marks of the celebratory, nurturing, Christian community that we feel called to. However, if it is necessary, the winners’ names may be printed in the graduation bulletin and other seminary newsletters.


Our Resurrection Bodies

A friend of mine just posted something about gender and embodiment in his blog, and that got me thinking about something I've been discussing with some friends recently.

I saw TransAmerica with a friend of mine last Saturday (which I recommend), and because of that and some other things, I began thinking some about our resurrection bodies, and what they will be like. For example, for someone who is transgendered (let's say a male-to-female transgendered person), they would probably want their resurrection body to be that beautiful female body they've always craved for themselves.

But is that what happens in the afterlife? I think there are a few things to consider.

1) Jesus' resurrection body. Okay, so if we base what resurrection bodies are like on the biblical accounts of Jesus' resurrected body, our resurrection bodies will be somehow both continuous and discontinuous with our current physical nature. We won't be easily recognizable (e.g., Mary, Emmaus travelers, etc.), and we'll be able to walk through walls, and appear and disappear at will. But on the other hand, we still will be somewhat/eventually recognizable (again, Mary, Emmaus travelers, etc.), and will also be able to eat physical food (love that seaside fish meal).

2) It doesn't seem right that in the afterlife we just get the body we've always thought we wanted. Mostly, in my opinion, this is because the way we think about bodies and physical beauty in this world is very broken. It seems wrong to think that a woman who has always hated the shape of her thighs will suddenly in heaven have the exact thighs she's always desired. Or that a man who lamented his scrawny arms will in the afterlife be some kind of bodybuilder. This, to me, would be an example of our brokenness winning the day. And that won't happen. And plus, as a friend of mine pointed out, it's pretty self-centered to focus on how we will be in the afterlife. Will we really be thinking about the shape of our chin, our extra belly fat, our chicken legs, or our big ears when we are in the presence of the One, Great, Good, God? That does seem kind of odd. But there's also the question of people with physical/developmental disabilities. Will they be without disabilities in the afterlife, or will they be the same, but suddenly the disabilities will not appear to be as such?

3) When I asked another friend: "What do you think our resurrection bodies will look like? Will they be the bodies we've always wanted, or will we look basically the same but suddenly be able to fully enjoy the beauty of the body God created for us, or will we just be our most true selves?" She responded: I don't think those are the right questions. And I kind of agree with her. There probably are different questions to be asking about this. But these are my questions for now.

So far my conclusions are: No, we will not just get the body that in our woundedness we have always thought we wanted. Yes, we will somehow have some continuity with our current bodies. Yes, our current bodies are part of who we are and matter. And finally, it's probably not the most important thing because in the presence of the God of the universe, does it really matter?


Michael W. Smith and Ryan Seacrest

Have you ever seen Ryan Seacrest and Michael W. Smith in a room together? No you haven't. And you know why not? BECAUSE THEY'RE THE SAME PERSON. You heard it here first.

And this just goes to show, all white people look alike.


Singleness and Sickness

People who get married young have the right idea. Because then you have someone to take care of you when you're sick.
As a kid you have your parents (or whatever adult is raising you) to get you soup and stroke your hair and tell you they're sad you're sick. But then you move out on your own, and unless you have a significant other or a mate, chances are no one is stroking your hair and bringing you soup anymore. And it sucks.
I've been lucky enough in the past to have some friends who have been really good at caring for me when I'm sick, and just letting me know that someone cares that I'm feeling crappy. It's not happening too much these days. And I think that care is available to me, but the thing is that I'm not good at opening myself up to it. Here I thought I had gotten so good at being able to receive care. But several things have happened lately that make me realize it's still something I need to work on.
Ah, lifelong issues. How lovely.
For now, I'm going to go stroke my own hair and buy some soup.


Philippians 3:12

Tonight at church they read a passage that I really needed to hear. They read Philippians 3:7-16...and damn, that's good stuff. Several things struck me, but the verse that I think I'll carry with me for a few days is 3:12:

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

It exemplifies that whole thing in Christianity about the indicative coming before the imperative. For example, the Israelites were delivered out of slavery before they were given the law. We love God because God first loved us. I strive to seize the goal because Jesus has seized me. Etc.

Lately I've been spending a lot of time reflecting on and trying to live out some of the imperatives of Christianity. And I don't think that's a bad thing at all (because Jesus is certainly about transforming how we live our lives). But I really needed to spend some time in the indicative tonight, and I don't even think I realized how much I needed it until I was in it. Especially since I'm learning my Greek again (in preparation for a Greek reading class, and a class on Philippians and Colossians), I was interested to look at that verb that's used twice in that verse (about making one's own).

The verb is katalambano. Now, lambano by itself means "I take/receive." But when you add the prefix kata- to the verb, I remember my Greek professor saying it adds force to it, like you do it hardcore. (At least I think that's what I remember.) So, here is my paraphrase of that verse:

So I'm not there yet, and I have a long way to go before I get there; but I keep striving to grab onto it hardcore, because Jesus has grabbed onto me hardcore.




Unfortunately, I am not on a plane to Seattle right now. Somehow, while I was weakened by the other infection, I picked up some bronchitis along the way. And, the L'Arche community and I both thought it would probably be best if I didn't vist while I was sick. After all, I don't want them to remember me as "that girl who gave us all bronchitis." Geez. I haven't really had any kind of cold or anything for quite a while now, this is really bad timing.

The hardest thing about it is that I was really hoping to get my after-seminary plans nailed down. It's hard for me to be in the uncertainty, I just feel more secure with a plan. But, I am going to be in the uncertainty for a while longer at least. God is still Good and trustworthy and all that, so I'm figuring that somehow this was just not the right time for me to go. So I'll probably go visit in the next couple months.

A good thing though is that I talked to a couple of the leaders of the community on the phone, to tell them we should probably reschedule my visit. They were just wonderful people. You could tell that they were caring, compassionate people just from the way they talked to you. But I guess the way someone talks to you can tell you a lot about a person, really.

So now I'll get back to the ATL tomorrow night.