Friday, December 29, 2006

Answers to previous post...

These are the books of the Bible to be found in the previous post.... in no particular order... :)

Kings, Exodus, Peter, Malachi, Numbers, Revelation, Hosea, Daniel, Nahum, Philemon, Lamentations, Genesis, Timonthy, Titus, Ruth, Acts, Samuel, Hebrews, Esther, Joel, John, Judges, Mark, Luke, Job, James, Romans, Matthew, Chronicles, and Amos.

Good luck!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

30 Books of the Bible

There are thirty books of the Bible in this paragraph. Can you find them? This is a most remarkable puzzle. It was found by a gentleman in an airplane seat pocket, on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, keeping him occupied for hours. He enjoyed it so much he passed it on to some friends. One friend from Illinois worked on this while fishing from his john boat. Another friend studied it while playing his banjo. Elaine Taylor, a columnist friend, was so intrigued by it, she mentioned it in her weekly newspaper column. Another friend judges the job of solving this puzzling so involving, she brews a cup of tea to help her nerves. There will be some names that are easy to spot. That's a fact. Some people, however, will soon find themselves in a jam, especially since the book names are not necessarily capitalized. Truthfully, from answers we get, we are forced to admit it usually takes a minister or scholar to see some of them at the worst. Research has shown that something in our genes is responsible for the difficulty we have in seeing the books in this paragraph. During a recent fundraising event which featured this puzzle, the Alpha Delta Phi lemonade booth set a new sales record. The local paper, The Chronicle, surveyed over 200 patrons who reported that this puzzle was one of the most difficult they had ever seen. As Daniel Humana humbly puts it, "the books are all right there in plain view, hidden from sight." Those able to find all of them will hear great lamentations from those who have to be shown. One revelation that may help is that books Timothy and Samuel may occur without their numbers. Also, keep in mind that punctuation and spaces in the middle are normal. A chipper attitude will help you compete really well against those who claim to know the answers. Remember, there is no need for a mad exodus, there really are 30 books of the Bible lurking somewhere in this paragraph waiting to be found.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Chanukah

Chanukah began this evening at sundown. And although I am clearly not Jewish, I would like to wish my Jewish brothers and sisters a Happy Chanukah. May we all learn from a small group of people, lead by a noble family of priests, who defeated one of the greatest armies in the world. In opposition to the "in thing" that they knew was wrong, they stayed true to their faith and G_d's Holy Teachings.

To recognize that this other group of people, in faith, are remembering a faithful time in their past does not mean I am going against Christmas by anymeans. We are not to compete with one another and no one has to demand "Seasons Greetings" or "Happy Holidays" from one another. There may not be be a direct connection between these two holidays, but there is a connection in our one, shared G_d. And because we are all G_d's children - I wish them a pleasant, spirit-filled, holy time to celebrate Chanukah.

I know I've shared this with many of you - but I also want to take this moment to share the video I made about my trip to Poland. These are just some of the 400 photos I took while I was in Poland studying the Holocaust this summer. It is accompanied by a song called Eli, Eli - a Hebrew song written by a Hungarian Jew murdered because she was trying to save 100's of other Jews.

(You may have to click the middle play button a few times)

The Holocaust in Poland

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Before you even start to read this message, I want to make sure that I tell everyone - this message is a message sent in love and grace and in faith to God. I am not trying to be negative towards anyone who does not share my views, and I hope that you don't take it that way. Instead I hope that we all realize there are always times when our faith is tested and asks us to stretch ourselves to new understandings and new love!
I recently received ANOTHER forwarded email :) that caught my attention and made me want to write about it. I know that my friends and family like to send me a lot of forwards and jokes about being from the leftist persuasion (I'm not a democrat or a republican because I'm a free thinker and don't want to ascribe to a title, but if I HAD to, then sure, call me a democrat) because its fun to joke with each other about that sort of thing. But on the other hand, the ones that are most disturbing to me, are the emails and books, and comments, and news headlines that talk about "the left" being anti-Christian, or that there is no such thing as a Liberal Christian. It is in fact my Christianity that CALLS ME to be "a democrat", which I'll write more about that in a minute... but here's the forwarded email....

"How the 'Left' Stole Christmas"
Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand
See the PC Police had taken away,
The reason for Christmas – no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say,
December 25th is just a "Holiday".
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CD's from Madonna, an X Box, an I-pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken and Fonda
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas – was no where to be found
At K-mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate "Winter Break" under your "Dream Tree"
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holiday!

This is possibly the worst presentation of what someone thinks Christmas is supposed to be about EVER - whoever wrote this claims that the reason for Christmas can only be seen in public school plays, retailers, Targets, Lowe's K-Mart, Staples, Penny's and Sears - that because public retailers public schools, and public buildings, are allowing other religions to also celebrate during the month of December, that by simply saying a generic Happy Holidays - that, THAT is what is taking their Christmas away? I'm sorry - I thought Christmas HONESTLY had NOTHING TO DO with Christmas lights or Christmas trees or holiday pageants? Yes, I appreciate them all and I celebrate using them all, but the last time I checked - the reason for the season was THE BIRTH OF CHRIST - which is conveniently mentioned no where in here? They mention that the Senate is trying to eliminate Jesus from all public matter - is that really their concern? If we would practice a little Christianity in our own personal lives a little more, maybe we wouldn't rely so heavily on seeing it on every public corner? Maybe if we concentrated on REALLY following the Prince of Peace, the great Redeemer, the One who will bring the oppressed out of oppression, then WE won't have to concentrate so much on where we see "Christmas" in retailers and children's public schools? Maybe we should listen to Jesus when he says LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF - not LOVE YOUR CHRISTIAN NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF - If we want to be respected for who we are as Christians and be able to celebrate our joy in that (that is how we want to be treated) then we as Christians, BECAUSE JESUS ASKS US TO, should treat others how we want to be treated. Maybe they don't practice what we practice, maybe they don't find Joy in what we find joy in, but if we want the respect and the freedom to celebrate OUR HOLIDAY then grant them (Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Agnostics etc) the same respect that they should be able to celebrate THEIR HOLIDAY. And above all, I would assert that the reason retailers are offering "Holiday" sales etc and not specifically Christmas anymore, is NOT because they are trying to be PC, but instead it is ALL ABOUT THEIR BOTTOM LINE - They want to capitalize on ANY and EVERY gift giving type holiday that is celebrated in December, and to not offend anyone who might celebrate those holidays to the point that they don't buy their gifts from THAT retailer!

Senate - this country was brought about on the stance of RELIGIOUS FREEDOM - it is NOT religious freedom to say that you have to put up with our majority Christian views simply because it is the majority. Yes it is the majority of us (in the USA) that are going to celebrate Christmas. But have we completely forgotten that the reason we are Christian is because "we" were once Jewish? Why is it fair to ask them, our Jewish brothers and sisters, to put up with the bombardment of Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, when they don't believe in it? And a common misconception that Kwanzaa replaces Christmas is completely incorrect. Kwanzaa is a time for people of African descent to celebrate their heritage wherever they are in the world. It was started because of a suggestion that African-Americans need to celebrate their culture and heritage even though they are no longer living in Africa etc. HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT WE HAVE REVERTED BACK TO THE SAME MINDSET AS THE LATE 1700'S ENGLISHMEN WHO THOUGHT THE AMERICAN REVOLUTIONISTS WERE CRAZY? How is it possible that people can call themselves Christians, yet NOT listen to the message of justice and peace and NO OPPRESSION that Jesus talks about?It is my calling to follow Jesus, as a devout and faithful Christian, that asks me to be from "the leftist persuasion," and to respect others in their own wishes and celebrations. It is in listening to God's call to LOVE ALL GOD'S CHILDREN - REGARDLESS OF ANYTHING - that asks me to be such a "crazy" liberal!! It is in my response to Jesus Christ that I feel the need to rid this world of ANY OPPRESSION - even from Christians who claim they are doing the work of the LORD! And although it may not seem like the oppression we are all used to hearing about, NOT allowing someone to celebrate their own faith or heritage simply because they are bombarded with Christian Christmas messages, IS OPPRESSION. I'm not saying DON'T celebrate your faith and heritage, but rather allow others to also celebrate theirs. Send out your MERRY CHRISTMAS wishes and accept their HAPPY HANNUKAH or HAPPY KWANZAA wishes with grace and love, the grace and love that asks us all to remind ourselves that we are all, indeed, God's children.

I promise, we can, if we choose to be, if that is for you, act as liberal Christians. They do exist! :) I exist, I am here, pinch me, I am real. I live for the life of all people, regardless of ANYTHING and try to live as Jesus would have had me live - as a CONSTANT example of God's love for ALL OF GOD'S PEOPLE - no matter what they want to celebrate during the month of December.

Monday, December 11, 2006


What is it about differences that make people automatically associate them with worse or better? To simply say something is different from this or that, does NOT mean that either one is worse or better. I'm sure we can all agree on that when we say that blue and red are different colors - neither one is worse or better (not speaking about college colors, or anything of that tyep - strictly colors red and blue). However when we get to things like people and their differences, those differences all of a sudden become better or worse? Why is that? What makes the fact that I am different (just different) from my boyfriend Michael, an automatic benefit or detriment to either one of us? I would gather that it is fear. And even though I can pinpoint it - I'm not saying I understand it - but I'm saying that we need to tackle that fear. Why are we so afraid to admit that we are different from one another and embrace those differences and that diversity? Why are we afraid to admit that we have different color skin as some of our friends and that we also have differen experiences in life that our friends, or our friends of a different lifestyle? Why are we afraid to admit that we might simply have a different sexual persuasion than some people? Why are we afraid to admit that women are simply different then men? Not worse or better? JUST DIFFERENT? By admitting that we are different - somewhere along the existence of humanity - different has come to mean worse. Why can we not simply embrace diversity for the blessing that it is? I don't want everyone to be the same - THAT IS BORING - And maybe some of us claim that we do embrace diversity - but do we really? Can we really embrace the difference of a homeless person who wants to remain homeless? Can we embrace it and celebrate it if that is their life choice? Yes, we are called to offer help to those who are in need, but what about those people that enjoy the nomadic life - why is their difference bad? And why is our stationary, suburbia, cookie cutter life style better than theirs? WHY DOES DIFFERENCE CREATE FEAR?
When I was little my dad had a "remedy" of how to stop being afraid of the dark. He would make us walk all the way across the basement in the pitch black, and back without anyone holding our hand - and he would make us do that so many times until we weren't afraid of the dark anymore. We have "remedies" for fear. Fear can lead to courage. I jumped off a bridge and bungee jumped - maybe that was helping to get rid of my fear of heights. We have remedies for fear - so HOW DO WE GET RID OF THE FEAR OF DIFFERENCE?

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Nativity Story

I should really be writing a sermon that I have to preach in class on Thursday (memorized/from notes nonetheless) but I figure if I'm getting this "throat thing" anyway - I probably won't be able to preach, so maybe I'll have more time to write/work on my sermon anyway? :) At any rate - I went to see the movie "The Nativity Story" with my boyfriend and my roommate and was actually pleasantly surprised. Sidenote - my sermon that I am writing is on Matthew 2:1-12, which deals with some of the same things that this movie covers, so it probably wasn't so smart for me to go see it because I'm confusing some of my research with the movie - but hey - maybe it will help with my imagery?!?!? At any rate - part of me expected to go and be terribly offended by the grossly incorrectness of the movie - that it tried to portray things that Biblical scholars completely disagree on, or things that Jews might find offensive - but it was not that at all. I had read a review of this (granted it was in a slightly biased newspaper) but a review that said it was very good. They said that it was anti-climactic and that the only comic-relief provided in it was in the wise men (which they do make me laugh) and also that Herod was not as mean as he could be in this movie. In my opinion, the people who wrote that article are simply products of the modern cinema gone bad. The story is not supposed to be climactic and blockbuster in the sense that it is exciting and filled with suspense. It was not a tense movie, leaving you wondering what would happen around every turn, but the story itself wasn't supposed to be like that. The story itself was about a lowly birth from a common woman and a fairly unknown, but religiously devout man, in a humble place in a city that wasn't the capital or wasn't the market place etc. Yes there were some suspenseful parts that gave you insight into what life must have been like in that time period - but the story itself wasn't meant to be crazy and stop time in its place. That is what many of the scribes and priests of the time complained about and were confused about. The people were expecting a Messiah in the sens of a great leader who would lead a nation politically, possibly coming in riding on a white horse, a powerful man bringing instant change to the nation. But that is not what God had in mind, that is not what happened, so I commend the director for her portrayal of this movie. It didn't make me upset by anything like that, but it also didn't come across as if it were from a crazy conservative Christian view trying to convert the modern world. I appreciate a visual interpretation of this event that doesn't involve children in bath robes with towels around their head. (Although that is always fun to watch, I just appreciated this depiction because it seemed as real as one might be able to make it.) At any rate - I recommend it for those of you who were considering seeing it anyway - not that its going to change your life or be the most dramatic, best movie you've ever seen. And as that one commentator did mention, its not as if we all don't know the ending of the story anyway... :) But in the end, I'm happy I saw it - now back to this sermon!

Friday, December 01, 2006


Previously I had convinced myself it was ok that I wasn’t writing on my blog as much. I wrote on my blog last year a lot more because I found myself with more down time that allowed me to do that. And although it is helpful to report and also work through things that are going on in my life by writing about them, I convinced myself this year that it wasn’t important enough to devote enough time to, that I was simply turning into an exhibitionist showing off what I’m doing to (sometimes random) people outside my immediate daily life. (Those in my immediate daily life get to find out what’s going on with me anyway because I talk to much in general and they have to hear about those kinds of things whether they want to or not!) On the other hand, I didn’t admit to myself how important it is to have some sort of outlet to work through obstacles troubling me, or to work through some of my thoughts on this crazy life-changing experience I’m having here in seminary. Although I’m sure there are some more “technical” or scientific ways to reflect on and mull over the many goings on of my life, I wouldn’t admit to myself that writing a blog is actually an ok, and fairly productive way to also do this. I mean, I know its not as if I’ll be publishing a book of my deepest and most profound thoughts, but its helpful to type them out, write them out and reread through them so as to grow and become a better person. (I don’t mean that in a pejorative way, rather I think everyone should always try to better themselves throughout their entire life, no need to sit complacently as the world happens around you!) At any rate – I’m back, I’m returning to the life of blogging and hope that I will continue to get a response. Because more than ever, an important part of blogging is asking others to respond to your thoughts and help you work through things with a more objective view of someone not directly involved. Don’t worry though, I’ll still probably post a few funny forwards of emails and some good pictures. But nonetheless, I’m overall….BACK (whether you are reading or not!) :)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Since we didn't try, we'll never know, will we?

The country that went through the rabid slaughter of children at Columbine high school several years ago once again stood stunned at the rampage in a tiny Amish school this month.

We were, in fact, more than unusually saddened by this particular display of viciousness. It was, of course, an attack on 10 little girls. Amish. Five dead. Five wounded. Most people called it "tragic." After all, the Amish represent no threat to society, provide no excuse for the rationalization of the violence so easily practiced by the world around them.

Nevertheless, in a nation steeped in violence -- from its video games to its military history, in foreign policy and on its streets -- the question remains: Why did this particular disaster affect us like it did? You'd think we'd be accustomed to mayhem by now.

But there was something different about this one. What was it?

Make no mistake about it: the Amish are not strangers to violence.

The kind of ferocity experienced by the Amish as they buried the five girl-children murdered by a crazed gunmen two weeks ago has not really been foreign to Amish life and the history of this peaceful people.

This is a people born out of opposition to violence -- and, at the same time, persecuted by both Catholics and Protestants in the era before religious tolerance. Having failed to adhere to the orthodoxy of one or the other of the controlling theocracies of their home territories, they were banished, executed, imprisoned, drowned or burned at the stake by both groups.

But for over 300 years, they have persisted in their intention to be who and what they said they were.

Founded by a once-Catholic priest in the late 17century, as part of the reformist movements of the time, the Mennonites -- from which the Amish later sprung -- were, from the beginning, a simple movement. They believe in adult baptism, pacifism, religious tolerance, separation of church and state, opposition to capital punishment, and opposition to oaths and civil office.

They organize themselves into local house churches. They separate from the "evil" of the world around them. They live simple lives opposed to the technological devices -- and even the changing clothing styles -- which, in their view, encourage the individualism, the pride, that erodes community, family, a righteous society. They work hard. They're self-sufficient; they refuse both Medicare and Social Security monies from the state. And though the community has suffered its own internal violence from time to time, they have inflicted none on anyone around them.

Without doubt, to see such a peaceful people brutally attacked would surely leave any decent human being appalled.

But it was not the violence suffered by the Amish community last week that surprised people.
Our newspapers are full of brutal and barbarian violence day after day after day -- both national and personal.

No, what really stunned the country about the attack on the small Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania was that the Amish community itself simply refused to hate what had hurt them.

"Do not think evil of this man," the Amish grandfather told his children at the mouth of one little girl's grave.

"Do not leave this area. Stay in your home here." the Amish delegation told the family of the murderer. "We forgive this man."

No, it was not the murders, not the violence, that shocked us; it was the forgiveness that followed it for which we were not prepared. It was the lack of recrimination, the dearth of vindictiveness that left us amazed. Baffled. Confounded.

It was the Christianity we all profess but which they practiced that left us stunned. Never had we seen such a thing.

Here they were, those whom our Christian ancestors called "heretics," who were modeling Christianity for all the world to see. The whole lot of them. The entire community of them. Thousands of them at one time.

The real problem with the whole situation is that down deep we know that we had the chance to do the same. After the fall of the Twin Towers we had the sympathy, the concern, the support of the entire world.

You can't help but wonder, when you see something like this, what the world would be like today if, instead of using the fall of the Twin Towers as an excuse to invade a nation, we had simply gone to every Muslim country on earth and said, "Don't be afraid. We won't hurt you. We know that this is coming from only a fringe of society, and we ask your help in saving others from this same kind of violence."

"Too idealistic," you say. Maybe. But since we didn't try, we'll never know, will we?

Instead, we have sparked fear of violence in the rest of the world ourselves. So much so, that they are now making nuclear bombs to save themselves. From whom? From us, of course.

The record is clear. Instead of exercising more vigilance at our borders, listening to our allies and becoming more of what we say we are, we are becoming who they said we are.

For the 3,000 dead in the fall of the Twin Towers at the hands of 19 religious fanatics, we have more than 3,000 U.S. soldiers now killed in military action, more than 20,600 wounded, more than 10,000 permanently disabled. We have thousands of widows and orphans, a constitution at risk, a president that asked for and a Congress that just voted to allow torture, and a national infrastructure in jeopardy for want of future funding.

And nobody's even sure how many thousand innocent Iraqis are dead now, too.

Indeed, we have done exactly what the terrorists wanted us to do. We have proven that we are the oppressors, the exploiters, the demons they now fear we are. And -- read the international press -- few people are saying otherwise around the world.

From where I stand, it seems to me that we ourselves are no longer so sure just exactly what kind of people we have now apparently become.

Interestingly enough, we do know what kind of people the Amish are -- and, like the early Romans, we, too, are astounded at it. "Christian" they call it.

Joan Chittister NCR 10/10/06

"What Kind Of People Are These?"

Friday, June 23, 2006

With God on Our Side

This is the first of many blogs which will talk about my trip to Poland. It's taken me a while to process everything and get it written down. It will take me even longer to go through all 400 pictures and return myself to what I saw there in person. Just as a warning - I've dated all my blogs the day that I was actually in Poland, so you will have to return and go back a few days, it probably won't show up as "the latest" because clearly those days have already passed. If you start with the May 22 entry titled "Puff the Magic Dragon" and go "back up" then my trip should make more sense. So in the meantime - while I am copying and pasting these journal entries into blogs, this is a song by Bob Dylan - who is Jewish himself (converted to Christianity during parts of his life) - and it's just a very interesting song to read the lyrics...especially as this war continues to drag on in Iraq. Please take time to read the lyrics....

Oh my name it is nothin’
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is call the Midwest
I’s taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And the land that I live in
Has God on its side.

Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side.

The Spanish-American
War had its day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I was made to memorize
With guns on their hands
And God on their side.

The First World War, boys
It came and it went
The reason for fighting
I never did get
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don't count the dead
When God's on your side.

When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And then we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side.

I've learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war comes
It's them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side.

But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we're forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shock the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side.

In a many dark hour
I've been thinkin' about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can't think for you
You'll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And they fall to the floor
That if God's on our side
He'll stop the next war.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


I'm still leaving this "journal entry" as it is the only thing I posted while I was actually in Poland. All these other journal entries about Poland have been posted after I returned to the states and typed my journal out. At any rate - it also provides for reading about a little lighter side of the trip. It was very intense and emotional, but there were fun moments as well :)

Wow - Poland.... its crazy, amazing, heartbreaking, surreal, intense, breathtaking, gut-wrenching, horrifying, beautiful, hateful, loving, full of life and full of death, hopeful, and many more words that I can't even begin to describe ALL at the same time. I just have a few minutes as we have just found an internet cafe and just wanted to post a quick update. Three very crazy things that have happened since/while we are here that don't have so much to do with our trip to study the holocaust, but interesting nonetheless. In case you live under a rock - the Pope has been in Poland for this same time that we have. Our entire 500ish person group had to reroute our entire trip so that the Pope was following us around Poland rather than vice versa because if we had followed him that we wouldn't have been able to finish the trip - too many people wanting to see the Pope and not leaving any room in hotels or on the streets for us. It's just very interesting, because clearly this is the first time that Pope Benedict has been to Poland since his reign as the Pope - but did anyone know that he was a member of the Hitler Youth? While at the same time Pope John Paul (a Poland native) was participating in some of the "underground" activities here in Poland as he was trying to study to become a priest? Just kind of an interesting twist of fate. Every city we go to is spending the day preparing for the Pope while we tour around - including Auschwitz/Birkenau which is preparing for his visit on Sunday (We were there on Thursday). ALSO - If you've again been living under a rock - it was my birthday on Friday :) I'm 24 - yay! :) But anyway - our group here in Poland wanted to take me out for a drink on Friday night because our schedule allowed for some extra/free time etc etc - but we couldn't go out because all of Warsaw wasn't serving alcohol until after midnight in honor of the Pope's presence. Weird... The Pope - ruined my birthday drink. Ok - I'm just kidding... we went out for a fantastic dessert at this restaurant called Ginger - and I ate the most amazing Strudel I've ever tasted... And thirdly - we have body guards. Yes, honest to goodness body guards that pack heat and look like Vin Diesel and yell at people in Polish - it's fantastic. :) They check the bus every morning to make sure there are no "attachments" underneath the bus, run around corners before we are allowed to walk there, and almost get hit by Polish buses as they stop traffic so that we can walk across the street. Who knew a bunch of American students studying the holocaust could be dangerous? But at any rate - I have the Polish Mafia watching us every day and as a matter of fact their hotel room is two doors down from ours... so no worries kids - Laura will soon return safe and sound. :) OK - I'm done rambling - I'm tired and jet lagged - worn out - emotional and drained - so that's my excuse for rambling. Looking forward to posting more when I return with stories and journal entries from Poland.... Love to you all!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It's not what they were, just that they were....

Our last stop in Czestochowa was at a Paulite monastery, Jasna Gora, mainly to visit a famous painting called the Black Madonna. There were tons of people visiting this monastery for several reasons that night. First of all there were over 350 of us on this trip. The Pope was coming in just a few days, so the monastery was busy readying itself for his visit. Many locals were simply attending mass. At any rate, there were tons and tons of people there – so I made a point to at least go in the sanctuary, but I just sort of walked on by the Black Madonna. I was able to get a small glimpse of it, but not being Catholic, it didn’t hold much significance for me, but it was still interesting and a nice place to be at. The thing that held the most significance for me is probably rather odd, but oh well. As it would only seem normal, there were many priests that were walking around the monastery, and being in seminary, I felt like we had SOME sort of connection. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I felt like I wanted to run up to them and shake their hand or something and tell them what I was studying back in the US. This weird desire to shake hands with a priest in training was even stronger when I saw a few of them were very young and as they passed by two of them were wearing jeans and tennis shoes underneath their robes. It was just a weird connection to someone in a completely different culture, in a different religion; I just felt this odd connection, like we both would know what the other was thinking. That both of us were younger 20 somethings trying to discern our calling by learning all we could in seminary. It was at that point though that I couldn’t help but think… I’ve seen this person for maybe 5 seconds, never spoken with them, and probably never will, but I could already establish a connection with them. Let’s just say before that small connection I didn’t recognize their humanity – I know that didn’t happen – but let’s pretend. Within 5 seconds of realizing something we have in common, I was able to establish within my brain, humanity and dignity within that person. It was in this weird 5 second weird notice I took of some jeans and tennis shoes underneath a robe that I can’t help but wondering how anyone could kill another human being simply for what they were. Not even killing for what they were, just that they were…just that they existed. Chaim was right – the more education you receive on the Holocaust, the more questions you have, and the more you realize that you will never be able to explain it. What a daunting task. After a very long first day, that I’m not sure when it actually started, because I remember putting these clothes on in the US when I think it was May 23, but who knows, we had dinner at a nice little restaurant called Sala Bankietowa before finally driving to Katowice for the night. Finally a bed, a place to relax and try and process what I’ve seen today… this could take a while though.

What is Living?

After touring around Lodz we headed to another town called Czestochowa where Chaim surprised us with a special visit that I’m not sure the other buses got to see. Chaim knew about this bunker in town that one could still see and still visit. It was a place where people tried to hide before they were finally deported to a death camp. It was down several winding stairs that lead into a damp, deep, dark dungeon like room that I’m sure was filled with mold and mildew. This wouldn’t have been quite the observation, other than the fact that I have been struggling to NOT get a sinus infection and all that. I’ve had to be very diligent about taking vitamin C and decongestants etc and so I can’t even imagine living in this whole with 27 other people for 4 months. If they coughed, or if the baby cried, they would have been ratted out and being sick and coughing a lot, I surely would have been the reason 26 other people would have been found out and sent to their deaths. Twenty-seven people lived in this whole that was no bigger than 8 by 4 feet with a small partition in the middle. They lived there for 4 months before they were discovered. It was so dark and cramped that they couldn’t even light a candle because there wasn’t enough oxygen for both the candle and the people trying to live there. They would come out at night in a courtyard where they could breath and stretch out a bit, although I’m confident they probably still didn’t talk much for fear of being discovered. A certain gentleman would bring them food every 3 days, but it was very limited as the “outside” was very strict and limited and it would be quite obvious that you were taking extra food for 27 other people. He was eventually caught and so one of the younger women in the group, who also had a baby took over his job. She had to leave her child everyday and go seek out food and such for the other people that would care for it while she was gone. One night when they were in the courtyard a neighbor heard the baby cry and they were ratted out. Only the mother didn’t know, so she came back to find that her child and all the 25 other people had been taken. I just can’t even imagine. I mean, I guess I can fathom hiding for a few days or a few weeks, but after a while, don’t you start to wonder what you are hiding for? Don’t you start to wonder if it will ever get better? Say you survive until the Nazis are no longer in power – when this happens, you will still have no family left, no home, and chances are Poland would still be very anti-Semitic and you would still be in danger. But who’s to say that you would even survive in the bunker that long anyway – how long would it take? Would you have to live that kind of life for days? For weeks? For months? For years? Is that really living? Does that constitute a life? Living in a hole and then coming out at night so you can breath? Sometimes I would like to think I would have had enough in me to try and survive, to be a strong person, and to have faith that something better was there to come, but at the same time…. Sometimes I’m just really not sure.

Killing the Dead

We visited the Jewish cemetery in Lodz and it was a very surreal experience. The first thing that struck me was the discussion of why the cemetery seemed so overgrown and run down, and why they were relying only on donations to keep up the cemetery. First of all I never realized that there needed to be separate burial grounds for deceased Jews, but I can respect that – but what you don’t realize is that cemeteries in general are kept up by family members and such. I know every at least a couple times a year my family will visit different cemeteries to pay tribute to those who have gone before us, but I never realized that we keep up the cemetery. When we come and take dead flowers out of the tombstones and put new ones in, we are helping. But there just isn’t a Jewish population in Poland, let along in Lodz that would allow for that to happen. Either they were all killed or they have moved, or they don’t even know that they are Jewish – so it’s hard for simple things like the upkeep of a cemetery to keep going. The Nazis came into Polish Jewish cemeteries and continue to kill Jews that were already dead. How is this possible? By defacing the memory of someone who has already died and taking their tombstone to make a road way or in some other way to destroy their memory and to kill them all over again. Today the cemetery is filled with monuments that are in the shape of trees that are cut half way off. They did this for two reasons, one that a monument of a tree wasn’t quite as obvious to the Nazis and wouldn’t necessarily have Hebrew on it and such so that the memory of that person can still be preserved. But also in keeping with the Jewish and Christian idea of the Tree of Life, these trees are cut short because the people they memorialize, their lives were also cut short. New growth comes from a branch on a tree, and the branches were cut off on these monuments to represent the end of new growth in the Jewish community. This was a clear and sadistic plan to wipe out every trace of any Jewish existence in Europe – the Nazis even wanted to kill the dead.

A Suffering Child

Also in Lodz we were able to see a monument which I know many people in Lodz walk by every day. Some I’m sure walk by knowing what it represents, some maybe block it out of their memories, and some don’t and may never know why this statue is there. It’s a fairly disturbing monument though – it looks somewhat disturbing, so I would be surprised to find someone that would be able to walk by it everyday and not wonder what it is. Some say it looks like a break heart. At any rate – the monument is there to honor and remember the children who didn’t necessarily die in concentration camps, but those who suffered both Polish and other children throughout Europe. Many children died very early due to a program often nicknamed as the T4 Euthanasia program in which the Germans were trying to rid their race of any “defect” in their blood lines. Anyone who was handicapped in some form or fashion, mentally or physically, or just appeared so, was sent away to be euthanized. I know there is still much debate on assisted killing and euthanasia in that sense, and I can often understand the argument in some cases, if people are suffering and they make a choice… ok, so I still can’t even understand that situation, but even in those situations, people make their own choices. In this situation, the Nazis made the choice for them. This monument is for them. This monument is also for the many children who were “Germanized” rather than being sent to death. But in a sense they still suffered their own death. If they had the “right” physical features of an Aryan and demonstrated that they were “worthy” to the German race, then they were taken from their parents and sent to Germany where they were raised as Germans. They were forced to assume new identities, forced to change their names, change their religions, assume a new family and become the same people who were murdering their biological parents. This monument is for them and their loss. It was at this monument that I again remember something Chaim said. I’m not sure if he read it from another reading or was just speaking – but in response to the question of “how could they” when people ask how Nazis and Germans could stand by while millions of Jews, Romas, Gypsies, Gays, Lesbians – HUMAN BEINGS were murdered – Chaim spoke of the T4 program and reminded us that the Nazis first did it to “their own” – they first murdered thousands of their own citizens in order to racially cleanse their population as if these people were not HUMAN BEINGS themselves. This monument is for them.

Fathers and Mothers: Give Me Your Children...

This is an excerpt of the speech I was talking about in my last journal entry...

In early January 1942, the Germans began a transport of all Jews under the age of 10 and over the age of 65 to the first Nazi extermination camp, Chelmno, only about 65 kilometers from Lodz. A Nazi-appointed Jew, Mordechai Haim Rumkowski, head of the Lodz ghetto Judenrat, or Jewish council, made a famous speech:

"A grievous blow has struck the ghetto. They are asking us to give up the best we possess - the children and the elderly. I was unworthy of having a child of my own, so I gave the best years of my life to children. I've lived and breathed with children, I never imagined I would be forced to deliver this sacrifice to the altar with my own hands. In my old age, I must stretch out my hands and beg: Brothers and sisters! Hand them over to me!"

"Fathers and mothers: Give me your children ... I must perform this difficult and bloody operation. I must cut off limbs in order to save the body itself. I must take children because, if not, others may be taken as well -- God forbid ... I must tell you a secret: they requested 24,000 victims, 3000 a day for eight days. I succeeded in reducing the number to 20,000, but only on the condition that these be children under the age of 10. Children 10 and older are safe! Since the children and the aged together equals only some 13,000 souls, the gap will have to be filled with the sick."

"I can barely speak. I am exhausted. I only want to tell you what I am asking of you: Help me carry out this action! I am trembling. I am afraid that others, God forbid, will do it themselves."

"A broken Jew stands before you. Do not envy me. This is the most difficult of all orders I have ever had to carry out at any time. I reach out to you with my broken, trembling hands and beg: Give into my hands the victims! So that we can avoid having further victims, and a population of 100,000 Jews can be preserved! So, they promised me: If we deliver our victims by ourselves, there will be peace!"

The parents dressed the children in their holiday best, as if they were about to attend a party. The children were then separated from their parents and transported to Chelmno. As the train pulled out of the station, filled with babies and the elderly, the cry "Mama" could be heard from inside the cars. In less than two weeks, over 20,000 Jews were sent to their deaths at Chelmno.

Choiceless Choices

May 24, 2006 – The Lodz Ghetto

There’s so much feeling, so many thoughts, I’m struggling to keep up. I’m tired and exhausted, but I’m wide awake all at the same time. Today we went to Lodz where Pinchas (the survivor on our bus) grew up before the war. He tried to tell us about his life before the war in hopes that we wouldn’t only hear about the terrible things that lead up to and occurred during the war. Lodz seems like a normal city today, it’s almost hard to see much evidence of a ghetto – but if you look its there. It is especially there at the monument that was built near the train station which left Lodz and took all the Jews to death camps at Chelmno and then Auschwitz. The monument is called Stacja Radegast – Pomnik Zaglady Litzmannstadt Ghetto. Our Polish guide (Chaim) asked me to read a “report” from one of the doctors who ran Chelmno. We learned that Chelmno was a very primitive death camp and that they used cars disguised as Red Cross ambulances to act as mini gas chambers. It was so deceiving to people, as they would get off the trains they would get into cars with a Red Cross on them, something we all perceive as help and refuge – and after getting in the cabin of the “ambulance,” the Nazis would connect the exhaust to back inside the cabin where the people were sitting. The report that I read aloud to our group was from a doctor asking his superiors to change the way this was done because if the exhaust was put into the cabins too quickly, then it left the fated passengers with distorted faces and bodies, often defecating on themselves or other bodily functions that they could no longer control, rather than gently putting them to sleep as was hoped. I don’t understand how a person can have compassion enough to want a peaceful death for these people, yet with the same heart still think that killing them is ok. These extermination vans also apparently concerned this doctor because soldiers unloading them were becoming affected. How can you have compassion and concern for one human being, this soldier, and not feel at least a little similar compassion towards someone else standing right there waiting to get into this deceiving van. Something that really struck me though was the set of choiceless choices imposed on the Jewish council at the Lodz ghetto by the Nazis. After the ghettos were established, most ghettos formed a council or some sort of city “government,” since most were operating as a city on their own, it was an attempt at normalcy and an attempt at maintaining some sort of security. However at several different points, the Nazis forced the Council and the citizens of the ghetto to do certain things – just as they started the deportation. At one point in the Lodz ghetto, the Nazis demanded 20,000 people from the ghetto to be deported. The Jewish council had a choiceless choice, who do you choose? I mean, I know we and I joke about how this last presidential election was a choice of the lesser of the two evils – but it wasn’t an absolutely choiceless choice. The Jewish Council of the Lodz Ghetto decided to ask for the children up through nine and the sick. They asked their own family and friends, their own neighbors to GIVE UP their children and their sick, to be sent away in a cattle car, or the Nazis were going to do it themselves and just pick. The Jewish Ghetto just figured this was the best chance at survival. I get that – I do – but I can’t imagine or even fathom how that felt. We even read a portion of the speech, but I still can’t fathom having to hear it in all seriousness and know that my precious niece and nephew, and my grandfather would have been on those trains. I can’t fathom having to consciously put your own family members on their own journey towards death. My heart aches, literally, pain in my chest, just thinking about it. Chaim is our Holocaust guide – each bus has a survivor, a Holocaust guide and a Polish guide (and a bodyguard J) – although I’m not positive, I think all the Holocaust guides have some sort of personal connection the Holocaust. For example, Chaim’s father was in a camp and survived, moved to Chile, and raised a family there before he was later murdered for the same thing that put him in the concentration camps. Chaim does not claim to be Jewish by religion, but he is culturally. He has moved to a Kibbutz in Israel and travels between Israel and Poland to do trips like this. It was Chaim who said some of the most profound things on this trip that I will never forget. Even just here, on our first stop of the trip he talked about knowledge in general. Americans, even the whole world, generally accepts knowledge as a good thing, as something you can never get enough of. And up until today, I would have agreed. But Chaim reminded us that to know more in the Holocaust is worse, because the truth, the inhumanity, the pictures and the people live with you forever, day and night. And just in these two days, I’m already confident that it will, that this experience will live with me every single day and every single night of my life. In this same conversation Chaim brought up another really good point about knowledge. Coming back to the discussion of is knowledge good or bad? I mean we also know the saying, ignorance is bliss, and there are many times in my life I believe it, but Chaim brought up a good point while he was standing next to a cattle car. Would it have been better to know where you were going stepping into that cattle car? Or would it have been better to have hope that you were moving on to another place in the country away from the “front lines” as those people were so often told? Would it have been better to know you were going to a death camp – or would it have been comforting to know that you were going to a concentration camp where you at least had a CHANCE at survival? We were all able to look in and at the cattle cars – the cars that were never meant for people, but were also the last site many people ever saw – and as Chaim talked about them he said something that I’m sure will stick with me throughout all my seminary career in an attempt to figure it out. He said, “I am not religious, but these cars are Holy.” We talked about these people in the cars, when they finally opened after a treacherous and long uncertain trip, the breath of fresh air they received. I can’t help but think about that one breath, that first breath they took, only to find out that they were breathing in their own death; breathing in air that was filled with the ashes of those who had come before them, and that would be filled with theirs in just a short time. The last part of this monument that we saw included a registry with the thousands of people who left from this station to never be seen again. Names, birthdays, occupations, ages and such were all recorded and have been preserved, and for most people as the only preservation that they ever existed. There is a hallway FILLED with these sheets of names, including some blank sheets, to serve as a memory to those who were not recorded before they departed to their deaths or the unknown. It’s an overwhelming site to see the lists because the monument doesn’t light up until someone is close to this display – so it’s hard to grasp how many of these forms there are. Our entire group ended up in this long hallway, and it seemed to go on forever. I just hope the memory of these individuals can and will do the same.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Whisper of Hope

May 23, 2006

Wow – I’m still in awe at this opportunity. I’ve been struggling with how to and the ability to prepare myself for this trip. I’m very grateful for the orientation here as it has helped me mentally prepare for the trip amidst the crazy schedule I set for myself at the end of the semester. After the orientation as I sit here on the plane a couple of things come to mind. We have been inundated with so much information through our schooling and again as a recap through this orientation that I fear I have become desensitized to information about it. Or could it be as if we’ve just talked about it so much that now I just want and need to experience it? I need to touch the ground and the brick buildings and smell the ash that still remains. It’s like when people try to explain food to you but no matter how much you explain it, can you ever actually taste the food without actually eating? I know that I am lucky and different from many students who are products of the US public school system in that I spent an entire semester studying the children of the in HS and have had the privilege of going through the museum twice while in HS. I know many of the stories and many of the startling facts – sop while hearing all these facts again and hearing this overview, the things that help me the most are those that make it much more personal to me. I know that “putting a face” on an event like this often helps people, but I sometimes need even more than that. I don’t mean to sound or act selfishly by needing a really personal experience, but without it I almost feel paralyzed. For example it really helped me to hear Joe Kelly describe the number of children who died in the ; that every child in public schools in KY, K – 12 would have to be killed twice in order to reach a similar number to those killed in the . I also remember him describing the feeling of entering a gas chamber and touching the door that sealed the fate of so many people for absolutely no reason. It was really good to emphasize the difference between genocides that are occurring today and the Holocaust as they did in their presentation at orientation. Many, not all, but many genocides today are politically driven with some sort of other motive, where the means to the desired end happens to include the murder of thousands or millions of people. But the Holocaust existed simply to rid the world of a race of people simply because they were Jewish. Granted I know, and do not pretend to ignore the thousands and millions of others who also perished in the Holocaust, but just the purpose of this trip, to connect Jewish history with the life of Christianity forces a (needed) focus onto the Jewish portion of the Holocaust. Through courses in seminary and other things I have read, I know how often Jews continue to be scapegoats for not particular reason. They’ve been blame for so many things, wrongly accused throughout history; it’s like society doesn’t know who else to blame. And in this sense, it was a really good reminder that situations like Rwanda and Darfur are often shared with political uprisings or war. So often we may want to say that of course the Holocaust too was accompanied by WWII, but in fact Nazism and its pure hatred of Jews started before Germany entered WWII. The Nuremburg Laws began before WWII and Hitler had a clear propaganda of hatred for Jews. Ken Jacobson of the ADL spoke about this, but I think he brought up an even greater point. He mentioned a quote (by someone I can’t remember) of the Clinton administration concerning Darfur and the quote basically said that the reason Clinton didn’t get involved with Darfur was because there weren’t enough people who said it was an issue. There are wonderful things about democracy, but downfalls as well – unless the people pose a concern about important issues, then most of the time politicians won’t pay much attention. For good or for bad, they pay attention to what the people say is important. Although not a democracy, was this the case in Germany? Were there just not enough people who knew mistreatment of human beings was wrong or were there some by they just weren’t loud enough? Or did the Nazi party just have that good of a system that silenced these people right away that they never had a chance to sound their voice? Would I have been willing to use my voice if I were in Europe at that time? Or would I have been so immersed in a society that was condemning tolerance that I would have just gone along with it all? I almost feel like this pertains to my “calling” a bit. I still struggle with the idea of a calling because I always want to remain humble rather than feeling special and chosen – but in the same sense that I feel some sort of calling, I hope I would have felt like I would have needed to make a difference back then, the same way I do now. I know it is a calling because I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing anything else with my life. Even if I would try to do something else with my life I know I would never have been happy doing something else. In the same way I hope I would have just known that what was happening was wrong. I hope that I wouldn’t have been happy with my life without doing something and saying something about the inhumanity leading up to the Holocaust. But at the same time I don’t want to come across arrogant – sounding as if I know I would have made a difference and done something about it, that I would have resisted. And ALL in the same breath, should I speculate as to how I would have reacted or is it even worth the time? With an eternity of speculation, can I ever truly know what I would have done if I had lived during that time? Will I ever be able to say I would have been strong? Will I ever be able to say that I could have been a survivor? Can I ever really KNOW how I would have acted, or just hope that I would have acted a certain way and hope that I would have been that whisper that was heard through the shouts of hate and inhumanity?

There were MANY songs that we heard throughout the trip - and this was the first of those many - I've tried to include Podcasts when I have them... so if you would like to listen to the song click here and read along with the words below... (you may have to open a new window)

“6,000,000” – Words & Music by Hank Fellows

In the peaceful mountain valleys
Long after the Second War,
Stand the silent wooden barricades
That held my people long before,
And the wire too has rusted down
That help them from the start,
And the meadows are filled with
Flowers, perhaps one for every heart.

I can almost hear the words they
Might have spoken,
I can almost see them
Standing bent or tall,
I can almost hear their
prayers of love unbroken,
But I cannot stop my tears,
For I can never hear
The words and deeds that
Might have saved them all.

I have seen old newsreel photos
Of men so famous in their time,
I have heard their noble speeches,
Seen parades of grand design,
But I can only stop and shake my head
That men not so long ago
Could close their eyes and turn away
When my people needed them so.

Chorus (Same as above)

And I could almost bear the
weight of all my sorrow
If I felt their lives had
Not been lost in vain,
But I see the world today,
And still tomorrow,
And the story’s just the
Same, the hatred and the pain,
And people die while the
World just looks away.

I can almost hear the words
They might have spoken,
I can almost seem them
Standing bent or tall,
I can almost hear their
Prayers of love unbroken,
But I cannot stop my
Tears, for today I still can’t hear
The words and deeds that
might have saved them all.

No I cannot stop my tears,
For today I still can’t hear
The words and deeds that
might have saved them all.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Puff the Magic Dragon

Puff the Magic Dragon...what is this song really about? I can officially say that now I know... after singing the song with Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary himself, and listening to him describe the song itself, I can now say I KNOW, it's not about smoking or any other crazy idea you could come up with. This morning Andrea and I left Kentucky at 9:30am and headed to Newark, NJ for our orientation before we head to Poland. Here in Newark we are staying at a hotel for a one day orientation before we head to Poland tomorrow evening. In the midst of my crazy schedule at the end of the semester, I've been struggling to prepare myself for the trip and what the trip will mean, how I will grow and how it will affect me. So, most importantly, I am eternally grateful for this quick orientation. It's helped me to process what we will be seeing, what we will be experiencing. Peter Yarrow was a surprise part of our orientation, singing some songs that we all know, but also singing some that we haven't heard, reminding us of what his songs and his life are really about. The humanity of people, of persons, of individuals and the need to remember that in all we do. The need to remember that every action can affect a person, an individual and most often the need to remember it may be in a negative manner. The need to remember that we are all interconnected and all interdependent - that we all share in the human condition. Puff the Magic Dragon is a memory of childish innocence lost. When the little boy grows up, he can't worry about Puff anymore almost to the point that he can't believe in Puff anymore because adult society has forced us to pay our attention and energies to many other things that don't allow time for Puff. We are forced to pay attention to the atrocities of humanity, the pain of humanity and t0 learn about the human condition. Puff slowly leaves our lives as society pushes him out. Poland is going to be an amazing experience - I can't even begin to describe - I only hope I do the memories justice as I return to share them with anyone and everyone who wants to hear them.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The moment in a song...

The moment the song begins - the entire wedding party stops - the chaos stops - the room stops - and the bride and groom are finally able to enjoy their first dance together as husband and wife. But there's more to it than this - the bride and groom are able to stop - they are able to pause - and admist all the craziness of planning a wedding can finally soak in that they are united as one. I'm not sure why the first dance seems to be when things can finally calm down, but it seems as if isn't until that point that the couple can finally enjoy their celebration together. On top of the ceremony and the pictures, the reception finally gives them a chance to stop and breathe, to breathe in one another and to take in a life giving breath that their love provides to each other. And I'm not going to lie, it gave me a small moment to breathe as well. I've been running around like a crazy woman lately and this one moment, in a lengthy love song, finally gave me a chance to breathe. After returning home to KC for an Ordiation Committee meeting, finishing four finals and final papers, LTS graduation activities, moving from my apartment to our new house and then rushing back to St Louis for the rehersal and wedding - I finally slowed down and appreciated the chance I had to simply be there to celebrate with Jordon and Brenon in their special day. This semester flew by and I can't believe its over - although I can definitely say I'm glad it is. It was a hard semester and the busy schedule I set up for myself at the end of the semester didn't help with any relaxation. Not to mention that in just a few short hours I am again headed out fo the country, this time for a class, so it begins again. It was really nice to finally see Jordon and Brenon on their wedding day and I'm so thankful that I was able to join them, and to stand with them on their wedding day. I'm glad I was able to pause, to see the love that has joined them forever, and to pause and see the wonderful blessings life has given me in friendship, in opportunities, in relationships and in love. Thank you for the moment...

Monday, May 01, 2006

My Ode to Jordon

Many apoglogies for being a major slacker on my posting lately - I promise it will get better after finals are over. I'll have more time to be a major slacker and waste all sorts of time on the internet ;) But until then... I miss my Jordon! I miss watching Monsters Inc, I miss my lazy butt sitting at my desk and watching her work out, I miss trips for milk and graham crackers because that's all we're allowed to have until dinner, I miss finals food and pickers, I miss Olivia and Compton, I miss the beautiful Miss Sallee and "giving peas a chance" :) I miss it all! At any rate - I saw Jordon this weekend at her Bachelorette party - ONE CRAZY WOMAN :) I can't wait - three more weeks until her big day!!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

BBQ Season...

I stole this from a friend and then stole the response from the friend as well... but I just couldn't resist! This is especially for my friends Jeff and Kevin who put up with all of us girls ruining all of their "guy stuff"... sorry boys that we out number you here at LTS!! I'm trying to get the girls to just eat meat and drink beer.... But I think we're stuck with Boca burgers....

After the long months of cold and winter, we will soon be coming up to summer and BBQ season. Therefore it is important to refresh your memory on the etiquette of this sublime outdoor cooking as it's the only type of cooking a real man will do, probably because there is an element of danger involved. When a man volunteers to do the BBQ the following chain of events are put into motion:
1) The woman buys the food.
2) The woman makes the salad, prepares the vegetables, and makes dessert.
3) The woman prepares the meat for cooking, places it on a tray along with the necessary cooking utensils and sauces, and takes it to the man who is lounging beside the grill - beer in hand.
Here comes the important part:
More routine....
5) The woman goes inside to organize the plates and cutlery.
6) The woman comes out to tell the man that the meat is burning. He thanks her and asks if she will bring another beer while he deals with the situation.
Important again:
More routine.....
8) The woman prepares the plates, salad, bread, utensils, napkins, sauces and brings them to the table.
9) After eating, the woman clears the table and does the dishes.
And most important of all:
10) Everyone PRAISES the MAN and THANKS HIM for his cooking efforts.
11) The man asks the woman how she enjoyed "her night off." And, upon seeing her annoyed reaction, concludes that there's just no pleasing some women...

Then - this is a reaction from a friend.... I just couldn't stand to NOT put it up - it had me rolling!

See, but if you think about it, BBQ, like many other things, is something very basic that men have been a part of for centuries. Men eventually invited tomwen to BBQ years ago in an effort to score. Somwhere along the way, women thought the process of BBQing was "fun" & then domesticated the process w/all their girlie crap, thus getting things confusing & fancy. BBQ is a term for meat cooked outside over a fire. Very basic. BBQ is a term that goes hand & hand w/brisket, ribs, chicken, steak, etc. There are no "BBQ Salads", "BBQ Deserts", "BBQ Cake"- that's all woman food. When men are left to BBQ for themselves, men cook meat over fire, drink beer, socialize, & then have more meat for desert. Eaten with your hands, all of which is done outside in the heat w/bugs. If you drop your BBQ on the ground, you pick it up & continue to eat. Men are like animals, we are designed to eat meat; much like dogs- when we eat grass, we puke. We are not meant to eat green leafy things. That's for the animals that we cook & eat. When women are involved in the BBQ process, the meat is accompanied by green salad, macaroni salad, fruit, tea, and some fluffy salad made from marshmallows. All of which is served on matching plates, w/silverware, glasses, & napkins. Some light cake w/berries will probably show up for desert. We eat inside, in the AC or under a fan, w/a table cloth. If we do eat outside, it's while being surrounded by a thick haze of Citronella fog, probably under a screened in dining fly. So in response to this e-mail, it is an age old tradition that men are in charge of the essentials of the BBQ- meat, fire, & alcohol. If women want extra stuff like plates or salad, then that's something they will have to provide.
There are several other examples of man-stuff, that women feel the need to> domesticate:
Watching sporting events- guys watch & drink beer. More than likely we'll eat chips, pizza, snacks, & maybe BBQ. Everything will be perfectly fine as is. Women decide this will be "fun" & show up w/plates that look like footballs, cups w/baseballs on them, bowls for dip, & napkins.
Going to the lake- guys fish, ski, drink beer, & get sunburned. All of this is fine as is. Women decide "the lake is fun" & bring towels, floatie raft things, sun tan lotion, & something else to drink, like lemonade or pop.
Playing sports- physical competition between men, testing strength, speed, & skills. All is fine as is. Women decide they want to get involved cause it looks like "fun" & show up w/skirts & pompoms, dance & rhyme little cheers & don't even pay attention to a game they whine about not understanding (FYI- if you want to understand this- watch the game, stop talking & dancing). I could go on, but you all get the point.... Thanks Eric!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

MySpace Bar

I got an offer for meaningless sex tonight. It was quite funny - you see, incase you didn't read the last blog, I gave up liquor for Lent. So that means I'm pretty much permanently the sober driver until Easter - which is funny to watch all my friends and meet all these great people at the bar. After trying to convince me that he was a radiologist, he asked if I would go to his house and have meaningless sex with him so that he could win a bet. His bet was that he could have sex longer than his friend could masturbate - no I'm not kidding :) Needless to say, when I tell them I'm a minister, they tend to back off and search for another victim in their dare/bet. It was pretty funny. I've decided that I may just give up alcohol completely. Ok, so not completely, but on a more regular basis. I mean, what's the point in drinking those empty calories that cost so much money when all you end up doing is making an ass out of yourself. Ok, so yes it is fun to make an ass of yourself sometimes :) but its more often fun to laugh at your friends while they buy you an endless supply of water and coke :) I also must say that this is the first time I hear the words, "are you on myspace" as a pick up line - please shoot me now if I ever even mention myspace at a bar....

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Have ya'll found God tonight?

Yay - its spring and mid-terms are over - time to start going out more! On Friday night the seminary crowd went out to Rosebud's - mind you there were 8 ministers there, 4 ordained and 4 licensed and in the process of becoming ordained. We were all hanging out in our little booth - and the bartender had to kick this guy out because he was becoming very drunk and they didn't want to provide him with any more drinks. So on his way out he passes by our table and asks us in of course very slurred language, "Have ya'll found God tonight?"..... If you ONLY knew mister....if you only knew :) Ok, so maybe you have to be "one of us" to think that is hilarious, but we got a pretty good laugh out of it ;) Either way, I gave up alcohol for Lent this year, and although I definitely crave it when everyone is out like this - it's not all that bad...I don't spend any money (free drinks for the DD) and I don't feel like crap the next day! ;)
Kara is the master of self-portraits!
The seminary boys :)
Tim was a student here until last year when he graduated - now he serves a church in Chicago
Jeff is/was really flipping me off in this picture - but I cropped it out beotch
The Roomies to be! :)


On any given Sunday - there are 4 or 5 and sometimes more, ordained or licensed clergy sitting in the pews of my congregation. Talk about intimidation! Today, a friend of mine and also a student at LTS joined the congregation and just pushed the intimidation factor up even more. This morning there were five ordained and one licensed ministers sitting in the congregation - not to mention Bill, our senior pastor. Sometimes I have trouble doing the simplest of things like writing prayers. What does this sentence in my prayer say about my theology, does it go against other parts of my theology, and most importantly are all these other ministers going to catch that then think about me and my inconsistencies for the rest of the day? I mean I know that for most ministers being judgmental is not part of their character - but it still sucks. On top of this all, my preaching professor at LTS is a member of my congregation - so not only do I have to preach in front of him before I even take his class, I have to preach multiply times in front of him, both in and out of class, and after I've (hopefully) already passed his class. I guess I just need to keep telling myself that if it doesn't kill you, in only makes you stronger and hopefully I'll be a pretty good preacher when all is said and done. :)

Monday, March 27, 2006


You are a

Social Liberal
(66% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(13% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Andrea and I have a puppy! The new house that we are moving into allows pets - so we went to the Humane Society on Saturday just to check on a particular dog that Andrea had found on their website and sort of check out the adoption process. Well - you can't go to the Humane Society without leaving with a pet! So...without further adieu..... here is Bartholomew!

He is a retreiver/black lab mix!

His first task was to help me with my laundry!
He has been really good so far - so lets all keep our fingers crossed! He's going to grow up so fast and grow into a pretty big dog - but no worries - you should see him as a puppy soon! I get to bring him to the Lake with me in July! He's going to be a good lake dog, I can already tell. :)

Pictures and Update 2

More fun times in KY... :)
Thanks Kevin...or should I say "Harold" for keeping us girls safe from all the fabulous men at Austin City! ;)
Why are you taking my picture with my camera? This is Jeff's Birthday - the same night I managed to trip up my concrete apartment steps and hurt my knee...almost 6 weeks still hurts....
Andrea and Laura at Cheapside!! Andrea is going to be my roommate in May - we are going to throw some KICK @SS parties at our house starting in July - so be prepared, because... we're a pretty big deal :)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Pictures with Update

I know that some of these pictures are fairly old by now - but I haven't put up pictures in a LONG time - so what the heck!

This was seeing the kids over Christmas - I promise Kate was having fun even though it looks like she was trying to escape :)

My pledge daughter Lindsay and I drinking beer and playing pool - sisters from pink tutu's to the Dish to Kappa :)

The original group of girls from HS - we always try to get together when I come home from wherever it is that I've been lately!

Again - Charlie and possibly the cutest nephew on the face of the planet!

I miss my girls!! Can you fathom - it's been at least 9 years!!

30 Hour Famine Pictures

During one of the 30 minute worship services during the Famine we lit 600 candles to represent the 600 children that will die every 30 minutes from hunger related and preventable causes. At the end of the worship service we blew all of those candles out, knowing that what was really represented was a life.

The participants learned what poverty is like here in the States. The kids were given $10 and had to purchase as much food as the could on that $10. However, they couldn't buy 100 packages of Raman Noodles and call it a day - they were required to have all three meals represented in their purchases. The food was then donated to God's Pantry along with the other almost 300 nonperishable items raised during the Famine.

This is the group! There were 28 participants, including adults, from four different DOC Churches!

These are the girls that save me everyday at Seminary and help keep me sane! Kelley and Andrea both joined in the fun on the 30 Hour Famine with their Youth groups.

*None of the adults actually cheated during the 30 Hour Famine* We had just reached the stage of delirium and thought this photo would be funny - not comments from the peanut gallery please :)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Tests and Quizzes of all kinds

Ok, so I know I spend...I mean waste a lot of time on the internet, filling out pointless surveys and taking pointless quizzes, but I know they are all in good fun, so it's no big deal. I ran across this one the other day, and I'm just a bit confused?
How is the internet going to determine this? How is my computer going to help in this manner? Am I supposed to makeout with my floppy drive in hopes that it does the same in return and that it will then give me an answer? Maybe its just me, but its at this point that we are making MySpace a little bit too much of a reality and hiding too much behind our keyboards at this point. What are you going to say, "well I don't care what you think, MySpace Quizzes told me I AM a good kisser!" Like I said, I may spend a lot of time on the internet, hiding behind this reality that I have created on my page. Which yes, it gives me a little more freedom to be who I want to, when I may have formally been to shy or introverted to do so, but this quiz, that's taking things a little too far. On a similar note - I think most of my posts lately have been fairly crass and negative, but then again, I am right in the middle of midterms...blah! I will try to post something positive and possibly some pictures this weekend - because I know I haven't done that in a while.... just AFTER my test on the first 1500 years of Christianity - you know....nothing too big ;)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Preaching in KC

Last weekend I went home for a small portion of my Spring Break - and I preached at Liberty Christian Church, my home congregation. It's always nice to be home, don't get me wrong, but it was really nice to be in service on Sunday morning. Even though I was preaching, what I consider "work" nowadays - I still felt like I was getting a lot of spiritual renewal at both services, which hasn't happened in a little while. In a conversation with a friend of mine, I remarked that lately, "My Bible is no longer a book to which I look for wisdom, inspiration and hope - it's a text book in which I have to read 150 pages a week for the rest of my career. Prayer is an assignment I have to do at the beginning of the class every other Tuesday, I don't go to worship on Sunday mornings anymore, I go to work." Now this comment in particular came from our discussion about the study of religion - that the more I study theology and religion - the more it is becoming less holy. I know that's a double negative or something - but its hard to describe it. The more I study the Bible, the more I realize how many errors there could be, or how our interpretations could be completely off. The more I study Hebrew, the more I realize how it is ABSOLUTELY WITHOUT A DOUBT - the MOST AMBIGUOUS language on the face of the planet - and I'm not kidding. One word can mean eye, spring or well.... what?!!? Or in Greek, on word can mean swift and silver like, or lazy - all at the same time. The more I read, the more I discover that MANY MANY religions have many of the same myths and legends that our First Testament shares - in a different form of course - but all these things, it's hard to see theology as a divine inspiration of faith - and its becoming more an area of careful philosophical study. All I can say is that because of the faith I have grown up with, that I have developed throughout my life, I know that eventually....when I no longer have assignments and when my grades are no long riding on all this, I'm sure I'll "come back around" - but to see the spiritual side of my experience, to feel it again, to know in my heart that this is the one true way - that's getting smaller and smaller.... I guess it's not necessarily that I am questioning that Christianity is right and that I'm going to choose something else - Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam etc etc are all so tainted by the culture and society around them throughout the ages (example - my previous blog about Islam) Christianity shares a lot of these same characteristics and has been tainted by politics and society, just like any other world religion could have... Like I said, I'm sure I'll "come back around" - mainly because I'm willing to bet that every student who's gone through a very academic seminary such as this has experienced something similar.... because if they haven't come back around - then seminary is a big joke and their ripping people off ;) SO no worries - I'll be good - I just have to keep on going! And in the meantime - its great to go home now and again and receive some spiritual renewal!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Are you Kidding me?

I went to Toys R US with my sister and my niece - can we say overstimulation? Regardless - My sister showed me the bike that my parents are getting Kate for her birthday - so we were in the "transportation" section of the store, which inluded the battery operated cars of whatever sorts - the Barbie cars, the Jeeps etc - until I came across this... That's right folks - this is a Barbie "Escalade" - just incase our kids aren't corrupted enough - just incase they don't already have identity issues because they can't define who they are without looking to some sort of materialistic description of who society wants them to be, just incase they (or their parents) aren't already going to be in massive debt because our economy continues to support buying things we don't need on money we don't have - just incase.... let's get them at an early age - and make sure they get hooked on an Escalade when they are 3 - so when they are 23 - they are going to try and buy this luxury piece of crap that is contributing to global warming, the poverty gap and materialistic suicide.... awesome - Kate wants one..... JK - her aunt is going to raise her right! On this same note - I found a fabulous book today that I think everyone should read - it's called "AMERICAN THEOCRACY: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century," In it, Kevin Phillips (no relation) :), a former republican supporter, outlines the way in which, "No longer does he see Republican government as a source of stability and order. Instead, he presents a nightmarish vision of ideological extremism, catastrophic fiscal irresponsibility, rampant greed and dangerous shortsightedness." - He used to be a huge Republican supporter, and wrote a book in 1969, "The Emerging Republican Majority", about "the movement of people and resources from the old Northern industrial states into the South and the West (an area he enduringly labeled the "Sun Belt") [that] would produce a new and more conservative Republican majority that would dominate American politics for decades." He originally viewed this optimistically, but now, not so much... I think it would be a good read for republicans and democrats alike....

Friday, March 17, 2006

Inexperienced Men...and all the others that still need help

So I stole this from someone else's post - but WTF - I think its great :)
For all you clueless men - and tips for you on women...
1. Whatever you do, don't just show up at their house...they run around in their underwear just like we do.
2. DON'T CHEAT ON THEM. It may seem foolproof, but girls tell each other everything about everything. Trust me, they WILL find out and you will be mud.
3. Beware of every single male relative and all guy friends. Any of them would kick your ass at the drop of a hat, and a lot of them wouldn't even wait for the damn hat.
4. NEVER miss an opportunity to tell them they're beautiful.
5. DON'T refuse to kiss in front of your friends. If they laugh at you, it's because they're jealous.
6. If they slap you hard, you deserved it.
7. Don't be afraid to touch them if you want to. If they're going out with you in the first place, it's because they like being in your arms.
8. If you don't sleep with them, DO NOT tell your friends that you did.
8 1/2. If you DO sleep with them, DO NOT tell your friends that you did.
9. You can be dirty minded in private, really...most of them are not offended by it, and some enjoy it too - just do it in private...
10. Not all of them eat like birds, a lot of them can eat like whales.
10 1/2. If they do eat like birds - it doesn't mean they're on a diet - and especially not for you...
11. Most of them don't mind paying half of everything, but they do discuss these things with their friends. Realize that if you make your girlfriend pay half ALL the time, everyone will know about it and your friends will know you're a pussy..
11 1/2. Do you honestly need all your money that much? Be a man, pay ALL the time!
12. Every girl should eventually get three things from her boyfriend- a stuffed animal, ONE OF HIS SWEATSHIRTS, and a really PRETTY RING. Even if it's not a serious relationship.
13. Make sure she gets home safely as often as you can. If you're dropping her off, walk her to the door. If you aren't dropping her off, call to be sure she's home safely.
14. If a guy is BOTHERING her, it is your right to beat the shit out of him. (Make sure not to confuse this with the men from #3)
15. If you're talking to a female friend of yours, PULL YOUR girlfriend closer.
16. NEVER, ever slap her, even if it's just in a joking way. Even if she swats you first, and says, "Oh, you're so dumb" or something, never make any gestures back.
17. Go to a chick flick once in a while. She doesn't care whether you enjoy it or not, it just matters that you went.
18. You're dead meat if you can't get along with their pets, parents, and best friends. Be prince charming to their friends, Mr. Polite to their parents, and make sure to be nice to their animals.
19. Don't flirt with their moms...that's just freaky. Or their sisters - that's just bad.
20. Don't be freaked out by PMS. It's not gross, and it really does make them feel like shit, so be understanding.
21. If you don't like the way they drive, you do it.
22. If you're officially dating, and you're introducing her to your friends, you'd better damn well introduce her as your girlfriend.
23. Don't stress where you go for every date. They really only want to be with you - even if its in sweatpants on the couch.
24. If they complain that something hurts, rub it for them without being asked.
25. Girls are fragile. Even if you're play fighting/wrestling, be very gentle.
26. Memorize their damn birthdays. You forget her birthday and you're basically screwed for life.
27. Don't marinade the cologne, but smell good.
28. Don't give her something stupid for her birthday or Christmas or Valentine's day. It doesn't have to be expensive, but it has to be meaningful - and you have to remember.
29. If you think the relationship isn't going to last, DON'T WAIT to find out. It will only hurt her more if you draw it out. Honesty really is the best in this situation.
30. After you've been dating for a while, realize that they really have started to trust you. When you have a girlfriend who truly trusts you, you have a lot more responsibility, privilege and control than you would think. Be careful with it, most guys would kill for that kind of power...but it can be lost in a nanosecond.