Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Waiting till the last minute, as always

Came across this via innerdorothy .... Andrea at BeanieBaby has orchestrated this very cool kinda random gift swap thing, with the assistance of Marla. There's a randomness meme/questionnaire that you fill out on your blog (which will come soon, I promise) and then you put together a shoebox of stuff to fit a theme and send it, posting photos after the fact so they can figure it out. As Andrea says, "This is not about the money; it's about having some fun and putting a bit of thought into it." I'm doing a TERRIBLE job of describing it --- really, it's FAR more interesting and entertaining. So check it out ....

BUT ...

The name-swap drawing will happen on December 1 ... which is TOMORROW ... so check it out and reply TODAY!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Reflections on the Readings

Two years ago, we had various members of our community post short reflections on the daily readings of Advent, with tie-ins to the Benedictine spirit when possible. So, for what it's worth .... here's what I wrote two years ago, as a barely one-year-old Benedictine. (We also had a very cool photo of mine of a shoot sprouting from a stump, but I don't have that scanned file here. Or is it a sprout shooting?) Even then I had an odd way of looking at things .....

Isaiah 11:1–10; Luke 10:21–24

"You have revealed them to the childlike." Of course … it's obvious. Probably one of the oldest children's games is "Hide and Seek." Kids love it, and are great at it. Why? Because they see things differently. Where an adult would see an old rotting decayed tree stump, a child's eye is caught by the swirling pattern, the creeping bugs, the tiny little flower growing up from the wood. Where an adult would see someone from the "wrong" family, a child sees only a playmate. Kids don't discriminate, don't judge from appearances; they don't get bogged down in complexities. They see things as they are, and their simple perspectives often give profound insights to the grownups in their midst.

Not to overly humanize the animals of today's first reading, but … a lamb hanging out with a wolf? The poor little innocent creature, doesn't it know it's going to get eaten that way? Doesn't it know any better? Perhaps, though … being too young to be overly set in its ways of judging, the small creature's innocence allows it to be more open to the wolf. And maybe, just maybe, the naïve trust of the lamb, its confidence in the wolf … maybe it makes the wolf stop and think. After all, everyone else runs away from him. They cower in terror at his big terrible fangs. But this little quivering fluffball, without even any claws with which to defend itself, the creature with the most need of such fear, is not afraid? Not only is it not afraid, but the lamb has actually invited the wolf as guest? No one has ever shown such a kindness, such hospitality, to the wolf before. And so maybe, just maybe, the wolf begins to rethink itself, to rethink how it views the world. Maybe then, that leads to a shift in the behavior of the wolf. The empty space allowing the freedom to change has been offered; the innocence of the child opens the door for the conversion of the adult.

The child, then, presents a unique perspective, seeing that which we grownups overlook. We see the fangs, they see the fur. We see the stump, they see the sprout. We often speak of new life coming from the wood of the cross, but how many of us notice the new life coming from the wood of a stump?

"With a little child to guide them." If we follow their lead, follow their example … maybe then we, too, can set aside judgments, giving others permission to grow and change. Maybe then we, too, can notice the details of God's movement in our life, rather than dismissing it as an old cut-down tree. Maybe then we, too, can see the new life springing from death.

Moral Dilemma (Hypothetically Speaking, of course!)

OK, so .... I'm wanting to propose a purely hypothetical scenario to my kids today, and I'm curious what folks out there in BlogLand would think.

Imagine, if you will, a purely hypothetical religious community which has many of its members live in smaller groups in houses around the local area. Envision, along with that, that said smaller living groups have fewer cars than people, thus requiring some form of carpooling to occur.

Now, the very theoretical scenario I'm proposing involves two such community members who drive to school together every day. Community Member A usually drives, because Community Member B has this thing about driving (because then she has to walk from her nearby parking space) and Community Member B is sometimes not the most community-minded.

Suppose, on some undefined and imaginary day, that Community Member A comes upstairs to leave as she always does, only to find all the lights off and a car pulling out of the driveway. (Let the theoretical record show that CM-A arrived at the departure point at the regular time and was in no way late.)

Knowing that the alleged CM-B is not always the best at thinking of others and the general attitude (if there were ever a need for an attitude) that all seem to have towards her is "That's just how she is" and to let it go .... what would be the best possible approach to a non-reality-based situation such as the one proposed?
CM-A go over to the other parking lot to "wait" for CM-B to leave? Problem with this option is that CM-B might never leave the school.
CM-A send an e-mail to CM-B playing dumb and asking "I don't remember what we were doing this afternoon -- were you going to pick me up or am I supposed to meet you?" This option would require CM-B to make the logical jump to the realization that she shouldn't have the car.
CM-A take public transportation home (as she did this morning)? Easiest option, and perhaps CM-B might see her as she drives past. But also has possibility that CM-B will maintain cluelessosity.
CM-A make some smart-alecky comment at dinner?
CM-A suck it up, keep her mouth shut, and deal, and try not to feel too bitter about how much trouble CM-A would get in if CM-A had been the one who took the car?

Like I said, this is a purely hypothetical situation; any similarities to real community members or issues is completely coincidental and/or very-well disguised. :-)

If it were me, I think I'd probably end up with a combination of options 3 and 5, with option 4 occurring entirely within my cranial cavity. It's just easier that way. But, since this has no basis in reality whatsoever, it's interesting to think about nonetheless.

What do you think?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Advent Askings: A Weekend Wonderings Special Edition

Various folks around the blog world have been writing about this season of Hallowsgivingmas (as Quotidian Grace uses in her RevGals Round-Up), which has brought to mind many questions for me, particularly as I have been blindsided by the arrival of Thanksgiving. Impossibly enough, last Sunday was the feast of Christ the King, and this Saturday evening signals the arrival of Advent, the beginning of the liturgical year.

Now, in our society, we make a big deal of celebrating New Year's Eve with parties, resolutions, and various other big deals. But our Liturgical New Year's Eve often drifts by without much more thought than "Uh-oh, only 27 shopping days until Christmas." We jump right into the punchline, which doesn't happen in the "real" world. I mean, it's not like we skip right over to Groundhog's Day once the ball drops, do we? We don't immediately worry about Punxsutawney Phil feeling in the shadow of Dick Clark, do we?

Advent and Lent are two seasons set aside by the church as times to take a little extra focus on our faith and the role that it plays in our life. Lent proves to be a real biggie, what with its almsgiving, prayer, and fasting -- we give things up and we work on repentance. I don't mean to downplay the significance of Lent, as it leads up to a most crucial point of Christianity, the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But, at the same time, if Jesus had never been born ....

Think about it ... in Advent, we hear all about John the Baptist, "the voice of one crying out in the wilderness," proclaiming a time to repent and prepare the way for the One Who Is To Come (which, sacreligiously enough, makes me think of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, but maybe that's just cuz I saw the new HP last night. But I digress...). But what do we do to make it be a time of preparation, a time of "Waiting in silence, waiting in hope"? We don't wait, and the preparations are not those that I think JBapt was talking about. Yeah, sure, we have our Advent calendars and Advent wreaths, but the prep work is all about buying the Santa stuff and rushing around from party to party to pack it all in. Where is the interior preparation?

Do we even think about what we are preparing for?

The month of December ends up being non-stop go-go-go. We kind of joke at the monastery about the fact that technically we're not supposed to decorate until we have had the Blessing of the Greens, usually around the 18th or so. But, there's something to be said for that delay. There's something to be said for holding off on the Christmas hymns until Christmas actually arrives. After all, we wait until Easter Sunday to sing "Jesus Christ is Risen Today" -- how come we let Jesus be born three weeks early every year? (Which also begs the question of how come Jesus shows up in the Nativity scenes way before schedule, and the wise men never wait until Epiphany to show up, but that's just another digression.) We think nothing of taking quiet time to retreat and reflect and repent during Lent, but the thought of a time-out during Advent just seems like crazy talk.

And yet, if you think about it, this should be the more obviously preparation-oriented liturgical season. After all, who really gets to prepare for someone's death? But how much preparation-time goes on in those nine months leading up to the arrival of a newborn? Even if you are not the immediate parent, there still the ever-growing anticipation as you help your friend along the journey. It takes a lot of work to welcome someone new into your home, even if it's through adoption or just an exchange student. And we think a couple candles in the window are enough to prepare our homes (both literal and figurative) for the Son of God?

It's been making me wonder, over the past couple weeks, how to make Advent be an actual time of waiting, anticipation, and preparation; how to not let myself get so caught up in everything I have to do (in terms of cards, gifts, grades, exams, etc.) that I lose sight of why I'm doing it. Last Advent we weren't in the monastery church because it was in the middle of major renovations; I really felt the absence of the large Advent wreath and the pipe organ's accompaniment of the O Antiphons. I wonder how much less I'll feel in the spirit living in a small community away from the monastery and the larger-scale community prayer. How can I not lose sight of the bigger picture, and be fully present to the moment rather than jumping ahead to the last week of the month? It almost makes me want to adapt the Lenten tradition of "resolutions" and apply it somehow to this other, often-neglected season.

Then yesterday, I received the Thanksgiving e-mail from my prioress, in which she asks the community the following questions:
On Saturday evening, we begin the season of Advent: the season of “the coming of our God”. I invite you to take some time and ask yourself: Where do you need God to come to you? How and what are you longing for? What Advent “practice” would be helpful for you during these weeks before Christmas? Advent is such a special season. Let us walk through these next weeks with eyes and hearts open to the many ways our God comes to us throughout each day---and through one another!
And so I ask you all:
How do you prepare for the coming of the Christ-child?
What are your Advent practices?
How do you keep the season from getting lost in the shuffle of the season?
(In other words, how do you delay the Christmas season until Christmas?)

Besides, of course, the obvious choice of purchasing and using multiple copies of A Light Blazes in the Darkness, as conveniently advertised in my sidebar here, and checking it out online at its very own website. Plus, there are also the monastery reflections that will be posted somewhere on our website that should also be checked out -- link to be posted as soon as I figure it out!

Any takers?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Apparently, it's not just me

eb, jules, the RevGals, and myself, among many others that I can't think of off-hand, have all been extraordinarily thrown by the immediate vanishing of time. Which explains why I'm here at my parent's house with a pair of shoes that I had to borrow from my sister, because white sneakers won't exactly go with the black dress pants I brought with me to wear for various holiday stuff. But, since I ended up not really packing until the 45 minutes or so between when I got home from school and my friend and her brother showed up, I suppose things like leaving the shoes on the floor was to be expected. And, of course, the room didn't get cleaned -- while I did get my desk cleared off Monday night (since I wanted to avoid grading), it's probably pointless, since I'll just unpack everything back onto the desk when I return, and re-pile all the former desk piles that temporarily relocated to the bed. So, instead of bringing the very-helpful-and-rather-necessary shoes with me, I chose to bring my schoolbag FULL of ungraded papers .... which will probably never even get opened, thereby causing more stress upon my return, guilt at lack of accomplishment, and aggravation for dragging this stuff 600 miles for no reason.

The drive went pretty well, though, all things considered. Took forever to get out of Loovul, and the pitch-blackness of 6:30 PM didn't bode well for an easy-awake-time trip, but for the most part it was OK. Some snow (and therefore slightly gucky roads) in the mountains, but we survived with a 3 AM arrival .... may our joining the masses on the roads Sunday go as smoothly!

So now I'm here in the suburban DC home of my childhood, where I made the mistake of assuming that nieces and nephews would be expeditioning to see Harry Potter this week (and that I could join them) -- foolish me, they've all already seen it twice. And, there's the added oddness of the fact that I decided to give The Book to everyone for Christmas, so by this time tomorrow, I will probably have had at least a few local blips on my sitestats that won't be coming from me. And thus the shift from full anonymity begins. I'm sure in time I won't feel so odd, but in the meantime ....

So I'll just close with a shout-out to all my blogland buddies. Who knows when I'll be on these next couple days -- although I will try to put up my Weekend Wonderings for whoever happens to stop by. But then, with the 9+hour drive on Sunday to go right back into teaching Monday ... it might be a little longer before I return.

So, until then .... have fun, eat lots of turkey (or tofurky, if that's more your style), and, as eb explains, "don't use the carving knife on a loved one." Give lots of thanks, travel safe, and I'll catch y'all in a few. Peace out.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Does this post make me look nerdy?


98% scored higher (more stupid)
1% scored the same
1% scored lower (less stupid).
What does this mean? You are 1% stupid.
This means...You are our next Einstein.
Wow! Keep up the great thinking.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Weekend Wonderings

eb said exactly what I was thinking last night. Talking to the friend with whom I am driving back east for the holidays .... but that's not next week. It won't be first Sunday of Advent while I'm home. There's no way we're past the middle of November.

Which brings me to my question of the day:

How in Gehenna did it get to be Thanksgiving?!?!?
Ya like my attempt at sounding scholarly?
But seriously, and perhaps more importantly,
How in the world am I supposed to handle this information????

And while we're at it .... I know you all know what Frappr is, you've seen it on everyone's blog. It's very sad to click on other people's FrapprMaps and see that they have lots and lots of pins, and I have me, the Tentmaker, and some Dominican wanna-be??? Please please please ... my family will discover my blog when I give them The Book next week; it'd be nice to maintain the illusion that I have friends! So please .... FrapYourself.

Giving Equal Time ...

You may dazzle the mind with a thousand brilliant discoveries of natural science; you may open new worlds of knowledge which were never dreamed of before; yet, if you have not developed in the soul of the pupil strong habits of virtue which will sustain her in the struggle of life, you have not educated her, but only put in her hand a powerful instrument of self-destruction.

While I was energetically avoiding the nun-thing, I solidly knew that once I got around to doing it, it would be with the Society of the Sacred Heart. Of course, here I am in the middle of Nowheresville, Indiana, so I'm still not totally sure what happened, but .... I still consider myself extremely fortunate to have worked for two years at the school in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. It was said to be holy ground, for Philippine had visited there twice; thus, saints had walked there.

We cultivate a very small field for Christ but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements, but a heart that holds back nothing for self.

Today is the feast of Saint Philippine Duchesne. In the year 1818, at the age of 49, she finally was able to begin to fulfill her dream of going to the missions -- she was sent to the foreign land of America! However, it wasn't until she was 72 that she could fully achieve her dream of working with the Indians; she went to Sugar Creek, Kansas, and there she ministered to the Potowatami Indians. Finding it very difficult to learn their language, she nevertheless made a significant impact upon them; to the Potowatami she was "Woman Who Prays Always."

Humility is the virtue that requires the greatest amount of effort.

As missionary to the American frontier, she became the fourth American saint to be canonized (1988).

Let us bear our cross and leave it to God to determine the length and the weight.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

All Ya Need Is Love

At RevGals, there was a plea for prayers for FindingAvalon (whose son has lead poisoning, and they think it might be from their house) ... so I visited her site for the first time and, upon wandering through a bit, came across this post. Check it out, folks.

Update: As I scroll through her posts .... I like how she thinks. So, Avalon, if you check here -- I'm sorry about the Silent Prince but I'm glad it introduced me to you and your excellent sermons (and other thoughts).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Saint Gertrude the Great

Gertrude was wont to say that as long as she kept them for herself and her own enjoyment, all the things that she, unworthy and ungrateful, received unmerited from the overflowing goodness of the Lord seemed to her like treasures hidden in muck. However, if she shared them with a neighbor, these favors became like a precious stone set in pure gold.

Gertrude firmly believed that everything, external or internal, worked together for her good.

The Lord told Mechtild in prayer: "The patientia (patience) that I like in Gertrude comes from the words pax (peace) and scientia (knowledge). The fervor of her patience should be such that in adversity she does not lose her peace of heart, but always strives to think why she is suffering — namely, out of love as a sign of true faithfulness.

Ah, that my soul may choose to know nothing apart from you, and that, tutored by your grace and instructed by your anointing, I may progress well, passionately, and powerfully in the school of your love.

Let the depth of your charity absorb me. Let me be submerged into the abyss of the ocean of your most indulgent devotion. Let me perish in the deluge of your living love just as a drop perishes in the depth of the ocean's fullness. Let me die, let me die in the torrent of your immense mercy, just as the spark of fire dies in the stream's strongest current. Let the raindrops of your love envelop me. Let the cup of your love carry away my life. Let the secret counsel of your most wise love effect and perfect my glorious death in life-sustaining love. There, there, I will lose my life in you where you live eternally, O my love, God of my life. Amen.

Quotes from Monastic Wisdom by Hugh Feiss (which in turn got the passages from The Herald of Divine Love and Gertrude's Spiritual Exercises); icon from the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood, Idaho. For more info, try here or here (or google her, why not?). Major Benedictine saint and patron of the 16-member Federation to which my monastery belongs. Oh yeah, and did I mention that today is her feast?

Always Read the Fine Print

Thanks, Sue, for pointing us to this critical information.

Reminds me of a commercial I heard a couple years ago where they were asking the panic-striken question of "Are you taking too many milligrams?" as they compared such medications as the 200 mg Advil vs the 15 mg advertised drug. Apparently it doesn't matter what the milligrams are OF, just how many. So, for example, 200 milligrams of sodium is FAR worse than 150 milligrams of cyanide.

I was also thinking fondly of Sue this morning as I hoped prayed that the 36 kids that I was serving as the only adult on the bus had even half of the UPA training that Sue seems to have mastered. Fortunately for me, it ended up not being an issue.

Interesting ....

Tonight's Law & Order SVU turned into a Terri Schiavo spin-off. I was very struck, however, when one of the lawyers was speaking about how the mom should be able to have a say. I'm sorry that I don't remember the specific line, but the lawyer was defending herself with something along the lines of "Is it the government's place to decide when someone dies?" My immediate thought was, Well, we already do. It's called Capital Punishment.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Prayer Request

Hey folks ~ My mom just called. Apparently she's been seeing (or not quite seeing!) a retinologist since June because she has a "Macular Pucker" (she called it a wrinkle -- I commented that, for all the lectures she gives me about ironing my clothes, and she can't even iron out her retina!). There was some surgery they could do, but it only had a 30% success rate, and my mom said there was no way she'd do something with that much risk of losing her vision. However, she hasn't been able to read with her left eye for a while now (but she can still see), and apparently now there's a hole(?) that will be problematic as scar tissue forms over it (?) [question marks because I can't remember the specifics]. There's a different surgery that they do for this, something about putting a gas bubble (I can see my brothers having loads of fun with the idea of a "gas bubble") in her eye, which has a 90-something percent success rate; the doctor seemed pretty sure that she needs it and that it can't wait until after Christmas (Mom wants a second opinion, obviously).

The biggest issue with this bubble insertion is that she will have two weeks recovery time .... lying on her stomach .... the whole time. Apparently she can get up for 10-minute spurts for eating and the bathroom (she forgot to ask about showers), but other than that .... it's gonna be one heck of a holiday season for her (and, by extension, for my dad and the rest of the family). My immediate thought was "She needs a massage table," but even still -- what do you do for two or three weeks on your stomach? Sure, if you put a TV or computer on the floor, but I'm thinking that would get real old real fast. My dad went batty on couch-duty after his leg surgery, and he could at least roll over once in a while!

So, prayers for her ..... it's not scheduled yet, but even for all the build-up time – especially as she tries all-the-more-frantically to get the gazillions of Christmas gifts purchased and put together before all this happens.

And, adjunct prayers too, for all the tornadoes going through this southern Indiana/Kentucky area, and everywhere else too. Severe storms haven't hit here ... yet ... but there was a tornado spotted in Dubois County; it didn't help that the one town name they kept mentioning was Ferdinand – the nowheresville home of the Monastery, that of course sits at the top of a big ol' hill and therefore is in a great location for some storm stuff. I think it was actually a little north of the monastery, but still .... for all the folks still recovering from the previous ones, and all the folks getting hit now.

Stay safe.

Update: There's a new tornado watch for Dubois County until 9:00 tonight, severe winds; I forgot that there are two bands of storms following one right after the other.

Tobit Canticle

On Tuesday Week I at Morning Prayer, we take our Old Testament canticle from Tobit 13. A couple lines seemed especially appropriate today, given all the vengeful-God discussions I've been having lately.

I'm not sure what translation our psalm book uses, but I especially love the middle snippet and its phrasing (but I'll put the couple verses that fit the blogging):

Once God punished you
because you did wrong.
Now God comforts all of you
and gathers you from the nations
where you have been scattered.

When you turn
and give all you are to God,
God turns,
never again to leave you.


Turn, sinners;
do justice before God.
God may yet respond
with pardon and delight.
Peace out, folks.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Intelligent Readers

Great letter to the editor in today's Louisville Courier-Journal, by Kenneth Stammerman, who made a point of stating at the end of his letter that this was all "spoken ironically":

According to one theory, the avian flu variant now sweeping through bird populations and threatening to spread as a pandemic among humans is a product of viral evolution. If the strain now infecting birds further evolves to allow human-to-human transmission of the disease, there will be tens of millions dead in a repeat of the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, unless in the evolving it loses some of its strength. However, that's only a theory.

Alternatively, perhaps what is happening is that some Intelligent Designer, perturbed because humans aren't sufficiently observant in their religious practices, has changed an old virus to begin infecting birds as a warning to us humans. He (or She, the Goddess can be vicious at times) might further cause the virus to change into a human-to-human disease.

Doesn't it seem atheistic and anti-religious to have all the National Institutes of Health funding go towards vaccines and treatments based on the theory of viral evolution, when the intelligent design approach should get equal hearing and equal funding. Perhaps if the government would fund religious police, as they do in Saudi Arabia, we could force people to pray, pray, pray that the scourge of another pandemic would pass us by, rather than wasting funds on a "theory."

In case you haven't already signed the Open Letter Concerning Science and Religion, a Clergy Letter Project within the Christian community that is taking a stand against militant Biblical literalism – please do. Thanks, will smama, for the heads-up.

And, for another theory that feels that it has as much scientific backing to be including, as long as all theories should be taught, can be found here ... something that has exploded much more than the author ever intended, I'm sure. But it provides some pasta-and-pirate-y entertainment — unless you're a proponent of intelligent design over science, in which case you'll probably just be thoroughly offended. In which case, oh well and sorry ... what else would you expect from this instigating Devil's Advocate ex-engineer? :-)

The "Dude of Bigness"

To quote Elizabeth: "I had a little email exchange with Sister Steph about The Dude of Bigness and all His ambiguities" ... and I find my thoughts this morning constantly returning to her inability to believe in the "Christian God."

The thing of it is, I don't think Christ would believe in the "Christian God" any more than Elizabeth does.

Unfortunately, with folks like Michael Macavage, Fred Phelps, and Pat Robertson, it's very hard to find Christ's messages of love and forgiveness.

But they're not the only ones. I'm not too knowledgable about other denominations, but speaking at least for my own offical religious tradition -- we're not necessarily a whole heck of a lot better.

In Elizabeth's post about Pat Robertson's latest, she asks "But why don’t people buy into that idea [all-loving & all-merciful]? That’s the God everyone wants. Why is it so difficult to promote THAT God? ..... I do like knowing that other ministers buy into your idea of God but why can’t they be the vocal ones? Why is it that reasonable people are always the silent majority? I suppose I know the answer to that but nevertheless, I don’t like it."

She raises some incredibly on-the-mark questions. Anyone got any answers for her?

[And is it a Freudian slip if while typing the word "denomination" above I began accidentally typing "demonination"?]

Off to school, where I get to answer these very same questions with my kids, as they struggle to reconcile what I'm teaching them about Jesus with what they're hearing about Christianity and their church.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Either I'm Well-Rounded or Really-Confused

Following kinesthesis's lead (the latest place where I found the punctuation test), I took the thinker test at the BBC Leonardo page, based on Multiple Intelligence Theory. Needless to say, the indecisive don't-like-to-lock-into-any-one-option me came up with three, count 'em three, styles of thinking. And no, that didn't come from taking the test three times either. No wonder why I've always had such a hard time figuring out what I want to do when I grow up!

Apparently, I'm a linguistic, logical-mathematical, and musical thinker.

Linguistic thinkers:
Tend to think in words, and like to use language to express complex ideas.
Are sensitive to the sounds and rhythms of words as well as their meanings.
Others include William Shakespeare, Sylvia Plath, Anne Frank
Careers include Journalist, Librarian, Salesperson, Proof-reader, Translator, Poet, Lyricist

Logical-Mathematical thinkers:
Like to understand patterns and relationships between objects or actions
Try to understand the world in terms of causes and effects
Are good at thinking critically, and solving problems creatively
Others include Isaac Newton, Archimedes, Albert Einstein
Careers include Physicist, Chemist, Biologist, Lawyer, Computer programmer, Engineer, Inventor

Musical thinkers:
Tend to think in sounds, and may also think in rhythms and melodies
Are sensitive to the sounds and rhythms of words as well as their meanings.
Feel a strong connection between music and emotions
Others Mozart, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix
Careers include Musician, Music teacher, Sound engineer, Recording technician

I suppose now might be the time to mention that I'm all about words – I've got this stockpile of perfect quotes for every occasion, songs whose lyrics can fit a situation perfectly, and an intense need to always use the precisely nuanced word. And that I was a Chemical Engineering major for two-and-a-half years before switching over to Music Therapy. Made me famous around campus for a while: "Oh, you're the one ..." I figure, 2.5 years of engineering, 2.5 years of music — how much more of a well-rounded education could I get? Besides, I only graduated with 203 credits (we won't mention that you needed 120 credits to graduate, and taking a "full" load every semester would give you 136).

All this led me to jobs running the residential side of a highly-academic college-prep school with a small boarding program ... major youth ministry volunteering ... teaching high school computers and accounting (which I was maybe two days ahead of the kids on the learning side) ... then switching to the math department.

Last spring when the time came to job-hunt, I figured I'd be in big trouble – got a lot of experience in a lot of areas, but not enough in anything to count. No education certification or even coursework, no music therapy internship – the job I was "most" qualified for I had never even done full-time (I have professional youth ministry certification).

However, since God loves to mess with my mind, and since I'm one who loves "decision by default," I ended up in a situation where not only did I have to choose which job I wanted, but even which field I wanted to work in! Elementary music, technology coordinator for a newly-clustered Catholic school, high school theology teacher, youth minister – all this while other folks in my community were on a mad search to find anything in one of the schools. But me, the unqualified one, had my choice of schools and positions. The greatest was this one small Catholic grade school, where by the end of the interview the position had shifted from "Elementary Computers" to "Computers, K-2 Science (with lots of labs), Math (an upper-level group), and PE." Don't get me wrong, I'm all about variety, but even thiswas a bit much!"

And so now I'm back in the world of thinking-on-my-feet, making-it-up-as-I-go-along. No longer a clear-cut math teacher, where the answer is either right or wrong, I'm in the realm of the gray-fuzzy, where my biggest goal is that the kids do the assignment right so that I don't have to figure out how to grade it. Unfortunately for me, they're usually not so cooperative. Not only am I religion teacher, but I'm a nun religion teacher, which means I should be all-the-more expert than I am. And, in case you're thinking "I don't remember reading theology up there in her listed background" that's because you didn't – I've got the classes from my monastic formation to pull me through. Fortunately, I'm good at making stuff up, and surprise myself once I discover how on-track my made-up-ness is, so I'm getting my feet under me.

But I still have to figure out how to grade their re-written versions of the Prodigal Son so I can have mid-quarter grades posted tomorrow afternoon. And here's where the logical brain bites me in the butt.

Any advice from the subjective-subject graders of the world out there?

High School English pays off!

Thank you Mrs. Heginbotham, American Lit teacher who, along with Mrs. Koss, the American History teacher, formed the "Twin Towers of Terror" of junior year at a certain DC-area high school. Didn't help that they were the only two classrooms in this dungeon-y basement hallway, and that they were the only two teachers of either of these required classes, and that they taught nothing but these two classes. However, Mrs. H did train us well, often interspersing her lectures with "semicolon however comma."

PS ~ To any and all quizwriters out there ... if you want people to put your quizzes on their blogs, and if you want them to post all the results ... then don't make them so absurdly user-un-friendly that it takes 25 minutes to take out all the superfluous spacing before we resort to just deleting a whole section of the results. Thank you.

You scored 15% Sociability and 64% Sophistication!
Congratulations! You are the semicolon! You are the highest expression of punctuation; no one has more of a right to be proud. In the hands of a master, you will purr, sneering at commas, dismissing periods as beneath your contempt. You separate and connect at the same time, and no one does it better. The novice will find you difficult to come to terms with, but you need no one. You are secure in your elegance, knowing that you, and only you, have the power to mark the skill or incompetence of the craftsman. You have no natural enemies; all fear you. And never, NEVER let anyone tell you that you cannot appear in dialogue!

Link: The Which Punctuation Mark Are You Test written by Gazda on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Weekend Wonderings (belated)

A little late this week, but still ..... how 'bout I make it slightly less thought-intensive to make up for it?

Feelin' kinda sloggy, feelin' kinda blah lately, which leads me to ask the question:

What Brings You Comfort?
Comfort foods, clothes, places, people, movies, music, etc.
Can you tell I'm looking for ideas? :-)


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Plea for a Professional Plagiarism Policy

Question for anyone who might know anything (particularly all you academic-types out there) ....

Last year I was writing a paper for my Intro to New Testament class (and a very good paper, too, if I may say so myself -- all about how John presents Mary Magdalene as the composite of all the other women in the gospel, thereby cementing her as the ultimate apostle. But, I digress....)

ANYway, while organizing my notes for that paper, I couldn't figure out why I had written the same notes in two different places. Until, that is, I realized that it was because the material from which these notes were taken was in two different places. Lest you think I'm jumping to conclusions, see for yourself:

John, on the other hand, does not present women in tandem with men and subordinate in comparison with them but in stark contrast to men, with the women appearing in the more positive light.
John (unlike Luke) does not present women in tandem with or subordinate to men. Instead, they stand in stark contrast to men and, generally, in a more positive light.

Two women in John hold the place occupied by Peter in the Synoptics: Martha as confessor of faith and Mary Magdalene as recipient of the Easter protophany and the apostolic commission to proclaim the Easter kerygma to the church.
These two women, Martha and Mary Magdalene, hold the place occupied by Peter in the Synoptics: confessor of faith and recipient of the Easter protophany and of the commission to proclaim the Easter kerygma.

Come on, Easter protophany? Easter kerygma? That's just way too many big words to be coincidence.

The original (by copyright) is from a book adressing the Gospel of John; the ... ahhh .... re-visiting takes place in an article about women in the New Testament; I don't know about the other gospels, but I do know that once I took my highlighter to the pages in comparison, the beautifully white page turned very yellow.

The craziest thing about it is that the guy ends his article with "One endorses the forthright observation of [copied author's name]" and has a block quote from aforementioned book. His citation notates the page of his quote, and adds "See pages [rest of the copied chapter]." Which could be seen as a reference/citation, but it's the only book title and reference given in the whole article. Besides, no where else is the original author's name mentioned, except to introduce that final (and only) quote (which, I might add, came long after many other non-quotes).

But why would he direct people right to his original (very original) source?

And, lest there be any confusion, they are both VERY well-known and authoritative scripture scholars (at least from what I can tell of the works that they've written and been involved in).

Needless to say, my prof was THRILLED at my discovery, but I've hesitated to take further action (even though he very much encouraged me to) because I'm not sure of the best way to go about it ... and feel somewhat stupid about what if I get blown off?

But then, this weekend, it all came back up again. Why, you might ask?

Well, I was at the monastery library, looking through books for some possible additional resources for me to use in the New Testament class that I'm teaching. As I'm flipping through one of them, the thought crosses my mind: "Hmmm. I didn't realize that those 'three stages of gospel development' were official classifications. ... [reading further] ... Hey, wait a second, this sounds awfully familiar ..."

Again, to give a sampling:
It would seem to go without saying that the Gospels are based on the words and works of Jesus of Nazareth, a historical figure from the land of Palestine who lived some two thousand years ago. However, the recognition and acceptance of this truth is central to our understanding and sppreciation of the Gospels. For if the Gospels are not based on historical realities – if Jesus' proclamations and Resurrection never happened – then all that they teach is little more than a flight of fancy or an idealistic vision.
The Gospels are based upon the words and works of Jesus of Nazareth, a historical figure from Palestine some twenty centuries ago. Recognizing and accepting this claim are central to understanding and appreciating the Gospels. For if we do not base them upon events that really happened, then they teach us little more than flights of fancy or idealistic visions that we have no reason to accept, much less live our lives by.

Try to imagine yourself in the position of an early disciple of Jesus. You, along with the rest of the disciples, walk with Jesus; you hear his inspiring message proclaimed from the synagogues and hillsides; you touch him and are touched by him; and you witness the marvelous effect he has on everyone he meets. Gradually you find yourself captivated by this man and his message. You find in him the answer to all your hopes and dreams, and you are certain that in this man from Nazareth you have discovered true freedom, joy, peace, love, and fullness of life.
Imagine yourself in the position of Jesus' early disciples. You walk with Jesus. You listen to his inspiring message proclaimed in synagogues and on hillsides. You touch him and are touched by him. You witness the marvelous impact he makes on everyone he meets. Gradually, you find yourself enthralled with this fellow. He speaks to all your hopes and dreams, and you are certain that in this man from Nazareth you have discovered fullness of life.

With this second set, I'm not sure who took from whom, since one of the books is the New Testament textbook used to teach my high school sophomores -- thus, I don't know the original copyright date. And I don't know the professional esteem either one of these two holds.

Here's what confuses me (in a what-is-this-world-coming-to kind of way):
If I can spot two of these incidents without even trying ... how many more are out there?
These are religion books, books about Jesus .... you'd think at least theologians who remember what was said about stealing and rendering unto Ceasar ...
And one of these is a high school religion textbook?!?!? Yeah, that's a message I want to send my kids ....
Heck, these are more similar than the Synoptic comparisons we've been doing in class!
And why in the world did that first guy actually point you to the source?
Even more so ... why didn't anyone check it?

But my biggest question to all my academics out there in blogland, to quote one of my oft-visited blogs .....

What Now?

I'm not asking if I should report it, because there's no question about that ... I just want to know HOW. Do I contact authors? Publishers? Originals? Copiers? And how in the world do I phrase it (especially on the second one where I'm not sure who's first)?


Monday, November 07, 2005

Various Randoms

First off, a big ol' thank you goes out to Natty ... ok, I take back all the evil threats I proffered on the possibility of my special day being forgotten. Thanks for the wishes, fun, and phone calls!

Couple prayer requests:

  1. Eastbrook Mobile Home Park ~ the hardest hit area by the 1:30 AM Evansville tornado. Latest count is that Eastbrook had 18 of the 23 deaths reported; as of 6 PM, they were still looking for information on six missing residents.
  2. A good friend is having surgery tomorrow morning for endometriosis (I think). She's more concerned about the unknown factors; "the pain I can handle." She says it's easier to face the monster once she knows what it looks like ... so prayers that they don't find anything bad in the process.
  3. All my kids have all sorts of various prayer requests -- friends with cancer, friend's parents dying, parents getting divorced, bitter custody disputes -- plus the ever-unexpected (for high school girls) reaching beyond themselves to pray for larger-scale situations.
  4. All the folks on the streets as we get into the winter months and the holiday season ~ all the various "other" needs in the world (floods & famines, tsunamis & tornadoes), coupled with the anticipated high costs of gas and heating, will quite probably put a crimp in people's holiday giving. Too bad the "poor are with you always" -- then they don't get noticed like the out-of-the-ordinary things.
  5. Whatever other things that I had that I'm not thinking of right now.
  6. And, my favorite intention that was introduced to me by my awesome youth group kids back home ..... "For all those who don't have anyone to pray for them."

And some random wonderings (I'll wrap up the Weekend Ones tomorrow):

  • If "We Do Not Torture" ... then why does "Cheney Fight for Detainee Policy" ... particularly for an amendment that provide CIA exemption from an amendment banning "torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners"?
  • I know this happens, and it's all very high-tech now, but yesterday morning when I went online to find out info on the tornado, seeing the CNN headline: Cruise Liner Outruns Armed Pirate Boats .... well, it just didn't seem right. Especially to be having rocket grenades and machine guns. And I know this is serious business and all that, but still, when I see "pirates" I think "ARRGH!" (Peg legs and parrots not included; eye patch is extra).
  • Of course, that then made my friend and I think about the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and the correlation between the decrease of pirates in the world and the increase of global warming. Of course, I think they're talking about pirates in the traditional swashbuckling walk-the-plank sense of the word -- none of this new-fangled shrapnel and bazooka stuff!
  • The Book came Saturday. Not to sound like a total idiot or anything like that, but I think the most thrilling part about it was that it's a Real Book, with an ISBN and everything! I mean, it was a cool idea and all that, but to then hold it in my hands, a real book just like any other on my shelf, and my name's in it --- WHOO-HOOO!
  • A little less than two months ago, I posted a nice little bit of excitement about my hometown team turning around the rivalry with those evil evil D-people. Well, there was a comment awaiting me a few days later from a blogger now known as Sophia, wherein she seemed to imply -- no, wait, she actually stated, and I quote: "Eagles. There are no other teams." Well, Ms. SheWillSing .... is that still your tune? Perhaps maybe you'd like to read this ... or this .... or how about this? Not that I would ever gloat about something so minor and insignificant as a football game .... just wish I coulda seen it.
  • Unfortunately, as I was looking for the links, I came across this story ... Sex at School Increasing. Kills all the fun of my random ramblings.

And, on that note, I think I'll go attempt to deal with the ever-growing-yet-never-graded stack of papers that have journeyed with me to and from school on a regular basis. And figure out what I'm gonna teach tomorrow .... and figure out how to structure my next couple classes so that I'll have something to say on their mid-quarter progress reports next week.

Oh, and don't forget to Frappr yourself .... let me know where ya are!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Weekend Wonderings

Last night we had the "Dinner with the Archbishop," which is a time for young people throughout the diocese to come and perhaps begin to explore the idea of a religious vocation. Different religious communities had displays for the guests to look at, and at dinner, they had all of us clergy and religious folk scattered throughout at different tables so there would be opportunities for conversation. After we finished eating, there was a panel of about six different priests and sisters; each of whom shared a little bit of their vocation stories, and how they came to be where they are today. Very entertaining, since so many of the stories revolve around the idea of "No way I'm gonna be a priest/nun!"

While sharing vocation stories could be interesting, I figure I'll hold off on that one for perhaps a long weekend -- since those are probably more involved, that way I could give you all a bit more time. In the meantime, though ....

How does God speak to you?
How do you know what God wants of you?
Of course, these presume that you know ...
... but DO you?
Or ... do you just take it on faith and hope for the best?

Happy Weekend. May it be filled with beautiful weather and magnificent colors!

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

You scored 81 Morgensterns!

You know this movie well! Excellent work, just as skillful as the hero.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:

You scored higher than 66% on Morgensterns

Link: The Princess Bride Trivia Test written by Maverisms on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Dangers of Clicking, Part II

Reverend Mommy has a similar post with a link to click-if-you-dare .... check out. It's a very different product, although .... thinking of Sweeney Todd, perhaps they could work out a joint venture....

Ugh. Like my previous post wasn't creepy enough. I just feel sorry for my kids who have to deal with me today, with all these images in my mind.

Why dost thou smiteth me, O mine God???

The Dangers of Clicking

Good Morning, Bloggy Buddies! We have a late opening today because of parent-teacher conferences last night, and so I decided to make the most productive use of my time by doing my daily blog-surfing. And, as I would hate to be more enlightened than the rest of you, I felt it important to share all my new discoveries with you. So, without further ado, I share my morning highlight with you.

Suzanne over at Life in the Suburbs had a nice little post about how sometimes you can follow one-too-many links in your aimless clicking. So I had to post my own two cents, since the item to which she was referring was one that I, too, had inadvertantly discovered. Unfortunately for me, the malady continued as I was posting my comment, and .... well .... shudder. The experience was enough to outweigh my many other possiblities for Phantom Scribbler's Wednesday Whine.

So, the best part of agony like this is sharing it with friends, because you know they won't be able to resist the siren song of that seductive little underlining.

Go on, just try. Try to restrain that finger as it slides, ever-so-imperceptibly, closer and closer to that evil hyperlink. You know you shouldn't, that there are toilets to scrub that would be more pleasant use of your time ... but now your index finger is primed. The last moment, every ounce of strength and self-control ....

And then you think, "Aw, heck, it's just a blog-post hyperlink. Why am I even thinking about it? Just click already, you spineless link-follower!" And with firm force and conviction, down the finger descends.

[Time passes ... links visited ... blog-friends thoroughly creeped out and vow never to return again to this way-that-should-have-been-narrower ... and yet must return for more, like the evil zombies in that Halloween movie from two days ago ...]

Tune in next week to hear Steph say: "See? I told you so!"
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