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you might be a grad student if...

28 February 2005


At the risk of inducing a string of redneck jokes, I offer the following observation:

You might be a graduate student if your first reaction when your Seminary announces the cancellation of classes for the afternoon is: "Well, crap."

Let me explain, it's not that I'm not glad for the extra time "off." Indeed, it's much needed time off from an otherwise brutal day and it's more time that I can get work done on my thesis (which I am pantently not doing just at the moment). But, the students in the course I'm TA-ing have large writing assignments due today that I will now have less time to get read and turned around. Alas.

Today has been strange in other ways. All kinds of people keep coming up to me to congratulate me on my admission to the PhD program. The congratulations are much appreciated - but, dude, they just sent out the letters on Friday. The grapevine around this place is insane.

I did get some really cool news today: I'm going to get to meet Bernard McGinn! My advisor has asked me to take a copy of his new book (not yet at Amazon or BN.com, so no link yet) to Professor McGinn in NYC at a lecture on the 16th.

Yeah, I'm a big ol' nerd.

(Oh, and the pic is of my house mate's cat perched on my windowsill, taken just moments before posting.)

it's international currency, man...

27 February 2005
Yeah, my brain is pretty fried.

After getting jack squat done on Friday, what with all the celebrating, and very little done on Saturday, I've positively been bonging books today. Therefore, without further ado, I give you today's glimpse of the pointlessly postmodern:

The Spinning Shaggy

Why is it postmodern?

Why not?

(Hey, it was that or the Bureau of Sasquatch Affairs.)

all your base are belong to us...

25 February 2005
After much nail biting, ceiling clinging, and other anxious activities, the news came down from the PhD Admissions Committee at Princeton Theological Seminary at 4:30 this afternoon. Well, not so much came down as came to my mailbox, and not really even that... Turns out they put a friend of mine's acceptance letter into my envelope.

I ran the letter up to the PhD studies office before they closed for the weekend, got a new envelope and returned to the mail room. Fortunately, we got the letter in the appropriate mailbox before my friend showed up.

Oh, yeah, and the telephone ban is lifted, 'cuz I'm gonna be doin' me some Medieval Church History PhD work at Princeton Theological Seminary!

The funny thing is, I still don't actually have a physical letter. When I ran up to the PhD studies office, a Church History prof. was waiting downstairs to make sure I was able to get a proper envelope and I didn't want to leave her waiting. At that point, I was told, "Welcome to the program. I hope you'll be joining us." So, I told the lady in the office that she should just drop mine in the campus mail and I'd get it on Monday. I ran back into the prof. on my way back down and she likewise welcomed me to the program and asked if I'd be matriculating. I assured her that I would.

fe4r /\/\Y l337 5k1LLz!

Deo gratias!

Gloria in excelcis Deo...

as long as I'm not being productive....

As I'm pacing around my office, I decided to check /. and came across this interesting bit by the president-elect of the ALA, Michael Gorman:

It is obvious that the Blog People read what they want to read rather than what is in front of them and judge me to be wrong on the basis of what they think rather than what I actually wrote. Given the quality of the writing in the blogs I have seen, I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex texts. It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs. In that case, their rejection of my view is quite understandable.
(Inane, pointless, and immature ad hominem attack to follow...)

Ahem. While I am certain I do not speak for the entire blogsphere - indeed the web does seem to be the great bastion of unchecked and unrepentantly willful ignorance and pseudo-scholarship, let us not assume that all bloggers (Blog People? What is that, some kind of degenerate Morlock with a DSL connection and a Dell?) *deep breath* Where was I? Right. Let us not assume that all bloggers are uneducated, illiterate cyber-goons.

In a very real sense, there's not that much difference in what's said online and what's said in print. While the argument can be made that at least the print media is regulated by publishing houses, there are a lot of publishing houses that publish an awful lot of crap. Just as with books in the library, one must be discerning with what one reads online. I will grant you that there is a greater saturation of needless buffoonery online than in libraries (at least when acquisitions departments have their acts together), but my point remains. Crap is crap whether online, in a book or on the sidewalk.

Some of us are quite well read (in more than one language and holding memberships at several libraries), thank you very much, Mr. Poopy-pants-librarian-face.

In the immortal words of the immortal bard, "THBBBT!"

twitch

Well, my day's shot all to heck and gone.

I just had a conversation with another applicant for PTS PhD work (in New Testament, not my beloved Church History - Deo gratias - I would not want to be competing with A. for admission...) and she asked the PhD office when letters would be out.

The letter will be in my mailbox by 4:30 today.

Twitch.

Spaz.

Meep.

(Please, no well intentioned phone calls until Sunday at the earliest. I promise to let everyone know in due time.)

it's funny that way...

When I woke up this morning and checked my email, I was greeted with unfortunate news. Paragraph 14 of the communiqué from the Anglican Communion Primates' Meeting held in Northern Ireland states:

14. Within the gambit of the issues discussed in the Windsor Report and in order to recognise the integrity of all parties, we request that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference. During that same period we request that both churches respond through their relevant constitutional bodies to the questions specifically addressed to them in the Windsor Report as they consider their place within the Anglican Communion. (cf. paragraph 8)

I am singularly disturbed by this. While it is true that the ACC would be in dialogue with the ECUSA and Anglican Church of Canada, to ask that we exclude ourselves from such an important dialogue seems, at the worst, to be an unwelcome prelude to schism. At best, we've been sent to our respective rooms to think about what we've done. Either way the message is, despite claims of sympathy for the LGBT community, hardly affirming or welcoming.

Within the ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada, there is hardly a consensus on the ordination of LGBT persons and the blessing of same sex unions - but to exclude the two Provinces of the Communion that are the closest things we have to prophetic voices of advocacy for LGBT Anglicans seems problematic at the very least.

So, all of this, coupled with my continuing angst over PhD admission/rejection letters that have yet to come out for PTS, I'm not in the greatest of moods this morning, though things seem to be working themselves out in an interesting way.

Last night, we got something like 6 inches of snow, which resulted in a delayed opening for the administrative offices of the Sem, but not for classes or the library. For some reason, it didn't register for me that the Media Lab, where I work, (located in the library but not of the library) would also have a delayed opening. So, I show up promptly at 9am and find the office locked up tight.

I summarily walk across campus to the refectory to drink my coffee and get some reading done. Somewhere about halfway through the article I'm reading, I decide to plug into my iPod. Normally, I'm quite the sucker for mood music - that is to say, I'm far more likely to nurture a pissy mood with pissy and gloomy music than I am to try to change my mood by listening to something softer and gentler. This morning was definitely on the Garbage and Mozart's Requiem in D Minor end of things, but somehow I wound up listening to the Brandenburg Concertos (the third movement of No. 2 being one of my all time favorite pieces of music).

My mood is now considerably less sour.

So just out of curiosity - a question for my dear readers who have now endured several dour posts: Do you favor mood music? That is to say, when you're in a pisser mood, do you prefer to nurture your mood with music or try to change it? If you nurture your mood, what music do you use?

raw angst

23 February 2005
The deadline for PhD applications at PTS was at the beginning of January. Yesterday, I ran into a professor who told me that letters would go out at the end of this week or the beginning of next week. Needless to say, my guts are in a positive knot. This is the one program I really care about.

While I have seemed to have made something of a recovery from yesterday's ailment, ever since I spoke to the professor, my concentration has been positively shot. I normally have a fairly descent attention span - I can sit and do academic reading for three or four hours at a stretch without needing to get up or take a brake. Today, I'm doing well if I can manage fifteen minutes. I'm mainlining chocolate. I'm nothing short of an absolute stress monkey.

I would have been much happier not knowing that the hatchet was going to drop in less than 5 days and I hope to hell I get the letter before the weekend. My only consolation has been running into someone else I know who applied to the program (different department) and telling her that letters were coming out. Now, at least, I'm not the only one climbing the walls. (Sorry, K.)

There are a million questions running through my mind... what if I don't get in? what job am I possibly qualified to do outside the church since the church and the academy are the only things I'm trained for? what if I get in? am I really ready for doctoral work?

I'm not worried about the strength of my application. I am afraid that my research interests will work against me because nobody is really doing what I'm interested in - so I'm going to have to carve out a niche wherever I go. The two things I need are a solid Church History program (PTS) with access to a solid Old English faculty (PU). My hope is that the committee will see and understand this and not thing I'm a total freak job that is a terrible match for the Sem.

Normally, I'd just pop in a CD, load up a game and go merrily a'fragging. Yet, silly me, I gave up video games for Lent.

Way to think about stress management, Sloane.

If you'll excuse me, there's a part of my ceiling that I have yet to cling to...

bleych

22 February 2005
Getting ill is not good.

It's even worse when it puts you behind on your deadlines.

It's 8:55 and I'm going to bed.

G'night.

tacky, wrong, and oh so right

21 February 2005
Maybe it's because I've hung out in NYC enough to think it's really funny... maybe it's because I'm one of the biggest geeks on the planet... maybe it's because it's so freakin' surreal... whatever it is, Alien Loves Predator is, in my humblest of opinions, one of the funnier (and more often than not, more obscene) things out there.

le moo

This came to me via the email.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PRAYSE CHORUSES and HYMNS

A man accustomed to a mainline church went to a seekers' service one Sunday.

He came home and his wife asked him how it was.

"Well," he said, "it was interesting. They did something different. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns."

"Praise choruses?" said his wife. "What are those?"

"Oh, they're okay, I guess. They're sort of like hymns, only different," said the man.

"What's the difference?" asked his wife.

He replied, "Well, it's like this. If I were to say to you, 'Martha, the cows are in the corn,' that would be a hymn. Suppose, on the other hand, I were to say to you:

'Martha, Martha, Martha, Oh, Martha, MARTHA, MARTHA,
the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows,
the white cows, the black and white cows,
the COWS, COWS, COWS are in the corn, are in the corn, are
in the corn, are in the corn, the CORN, CORN, CORN.'

Then if I were to repeat the whole thing five or six times, that would be a praise chorus."

As luck would have it, the same Sunday a young woman accustomed to seekers' services attended a mainline service. She came home and her husband asked her how it was. "Well," she said, "it was interesting. They did something different, however. They sang hymns instead of praise choruses."

"Hymns?" said her husband. "What are those?"

"Oh, they're okay, I guess. They're sort of like regular songs, only different." said the woman.

"What's the difference?" asked her husband.

She replied, "Well, it's like this. If I were to say to you, 'Ernest, the cows are in the corn,' that would be a regular song. Suppose, on the other hand, I were to say to you:

"Oh Ernest, dear Ernest, now hear thou my cry;
Incline thine ear to the words of my mouth.
Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear by and by
To the righteous, inimitable, glorious truth.

For the way of the animals who can explain?
There is in their heads no shadow of sense!
Hearken they not in God's sun or his rain.
Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.

Yea, those COWS in glad bovine, rebellious delight
Broke free from their shackles, their warm pens eschewed.
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night.
They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn have chewed.

So look to that bright shining day by and by,
Where all the corruptions of earth are reborn,
Where no vicious animal makes my soul cry,
And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn."

Then, if I were to sing only verses one, three, and four, and if I were to do a key change on the last verse, that would be a hymn."

--Author Unknown (perhaps with reason)

gay german penguins, no really...

18 February 2005


It's just what the title says. Check it out.

Really, though, you'd think zoo keepers would have better things to do than stressing out over a little gay penguin sex.

i feel so dirty

*Deep breath*

Alright, let’s try this again...

The first time I tried to write this post, Blogger timed out on me and I lost my entire rant. So here come Sloane’s Rant 2.0:

Is nothing sacred?

I’m well aware that television execs make all their money rehashing old idea. This is a fairly accepted convention. Do you remember when there were really good things on television?

Like the Muppets. The Muppets kick ass. Everyone has a favorite Muppet.

And the Fraggles. Who doesn't love the Fraggles?

There were even those quirky yet endearing and totally addictive productions of questionable artistic value and limited social value.

Don't get me wrong. There's some good television going on today, e.g. The Simpsons.

Yet by and large, we seem to be inundated with crap. And not just your average crap - I mean the hackneyed, ill-thought out, recycled crap that only a quality television network can produce.

But, dude, there are some things you just don't mess with. Dada is over. The Mona Lisa has a mustache and someone made a crap load of money putting a urinal on the wall of an art museum. It was cute while it lasted, but it's had its run, so let's stop beating the dead horse.

That is, perhaps, an unnecessarily circumlocutive way of saying, "Don't fuck with the Looney Tunes." The Looney Tunes are sacrosanct. They occupy a special place in our collective childhood. I know there's at least one PTS professor/(allegedly legendary Blue Devil) that agrees with me on this. That is why I was particularly vexed when I read about this:

Bugs Bunny and his pals are being updated for the future - way in the future.

The WB network will take the famed Looney Tunes characters as models for a new children's series, "Loonatics," that will air on Saturday mornings starting this fall. The characters' descendants - Buzz Bunny and the like - will be superhero action figures for the cartoon set in the year 2772.

The networks' animators have re-imagined Buggs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Wile E. Coyote as sleek new figures for a modern age.

I'm sure Tex Avery is rolling in his grave. In fact, it's my hope that he will rise in a state of undead-ire to exact his horrible, undead vengeance on these infidels. Surely Tex has managed to amass a dread army of animated undead minions to do his bidding. Surely there will be a terror inducing zombie vendetta for such a profaning of our cultural heritage. Surely.

Seriously though. They're fucking with the Looney Toons.

That's just not cool.

No ma'am. Not cool at all.

and now for something completely different

17 February 2005
Sometimes, procrastination is a beautiful thing... indeed, one is at times to have pleasant dreams about butterflies, unicorns, and Pacific Northwest Tree Octopi.

In a fit of absolutely unmitigated procrastination and an unbridled attempt to avoid reading Michel de Certeau's The Writing of History (an excellent book, but not what you'd call light reading), I wound up surfing around and found this. All in all, a really cool idea. The only problem is, I'd be far too tempted to go hug people I don't like.

On a more serious note... a thought for the day (or at least one that has me thinking):
«L'homme ne commence pas aisément à penser, mais sitôt qu'il commence, il ne cesse plus. Quiconque a pensé pensera toujours, et l'entendement une fois exercé à la réflexion ne peut plus rester en repos.»
Jean Jacques Rousseau, Emile, IV.903

Okay, it's back to the salt mines for me.

i *heart* anglo-saxon studies

16 February 2005
Why?

Because, I get to read about dudes with names like "Eorpwald." (Bede, Ecclesiastical History, II.15).

I am the über-geek.

new comments feature

Thanks and mad props to Liz for directing me to this nifty new comments tool from Haloscan. You will now no longer be required to be a member of Blogger to post a comment. WEE!

EDIT: Okay, so maybe not yet. Apparently the automated install feature didn't work like it was supposed to. I'll go back in and put the code in myself soon. Until then, happy logging in.

EDIT PART DEUX: Okay, I got it working, but it wiped all of the previous comments, so no dice. It was a nice idea while it lasted.

to huevos rancheros and maya angelou...

15 February 2005
(Extra credit if you get the reference in the subject line.)

I've been a vegetarian for going on 2 years now and I really like it. There are, however, some (strange) things I still miss from time to time. One of those things was meat balls.

When I became a plantavore, I had a rather categorical distrust for faux meat products. Many, if not most of them, are just plain nasty. (Tofurky products in particular - ew.) However, there are a few products I have come to enjoy - there's the veggie German Sausage, veggie Pastrami, and Quorn products. While none of these really taste like meat (or at least what I remember meat tasting like), they do provide a texture that is otherwise missing from a vegetarian diet. There were some products however that I continued to distrust, like Gimme Lean "ground beef style" However, in a fit of culinary adventurousness, I purchased a tube with the intent of making meat(less) balls.

I really expected them to suck, but I also really wanted a meat(less) ball sandwich (provalone, pesto, roasted peppers, baguette, mmmm....). I figured, what the hell, worst case scenario, I'm out a tube of protein. So I followed a traditional Italian meat ball recipe (an egg, fennel, basil, oregano, parmigano reggiano, garlic, a roasted red finger chili, bread crumbs, salt, pepper...) - substituting only the "ground beef style" product for the ground veal and pork.

I've got to tell you, they were pretty fuckin' good. Even my meatavore housemate liked them and felt that they tasted right and proper.

I owe "ground beef style" product an apology and I stand corrected.

luv advice from the bbc

14 February 2005
Dude, this article has a man kissing a giraffe.

Huh, huh, huh, huh.

Shut up, Bevis.

Single Awareness Day

Happy S.A.D. everybody! (Or, more appropriately, happy feast of Sts Cyril and Methodius!)

In my Church History course, Pagans and Christians, Prof. McVey began the class by lecturing on St Valentine and the pagan origins of his alleged holiday. I shall extract two of her points:

(1) St Valentine never lived. He first started showing up in texts during the medieval period - as did St Christopher and St Katherine of Alexandria. Nifty story, but none of the early texts mention him.

(2) Valentine's Day probably has roots in the Roman festival of Lupercalia on 15 February (not all of the information on the website I've linked to is entirely correct, but oh well). At Lupercalia, several goats and a dog would be sacrificed. The blood would then be smeared on the foreheads of two noble youths and would then be wiped off with wool. Skin from one of the goats would be cut into strips, februae (from which we get the name of the month), dipped in yet more blood and given to the youths. These two charming men would then run around Rome wearing either nothing at all or loincloths (the sources vary), whipping women with the februae. Being struck with a februa was said to assure fertility. The festival went on for so long that it commented on by Pope Gelasius in AD 494. Some of the nobility of Rome wanted to continue to observe the holiday, but Gelasius would have none of it. Interestingly, according to Gelasius, even older noble women would go out and get nekkid so they could be whipped with the februae.


Should you wish to follow this up in the classical sources, Ovid, Varro and Livy all describe Lupercalia.

In the Middle Ages, we get the transference of the day to 14 February.

So, happy Single Awareness Day and happy Lupercalia!

Though bitter and single,
I AM THE PHILOSOPHER KING!

one happy bunny

12 February 2005
I hate you so bad
you are the "I hate you so bad" happy
bunny. You hate everyone and eveything and your
not ashamed of it.


which happy bunny are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

guffaw!

11 February 2005
1) If you don't know the SpongeBob saga, start here.

2) Thanks to Molly for sending this bit o' SpongeBob cheer my way. I almost fell out of my chair laughing. But damn, my money was always on Freddie. (Oh, and the link goes to material inappropriate for young children, assholishly conservative employers, and cocker spaniels.)

because i found this on the net and it amused me...

10 February 2005
----BEGIN GEEK CODE BLOCK----
Version 3.12
GH/L/P/O d(---) s+:+ a- C++ W++ w(--)$ M++$ L N PS+++ PE-- t 5-- X-- R@ tv- b++++ DI++ D++ G++ e+++ e+++>++++$ h-(*) r* y?
----END GEEK CODE BLOCK----

fashion statement...

Start here.

On the one hand, this is an incredibly serious problem in terms of HIV/AIDS education and disease control. I in no way wish to diminish the significance of that.

On the other hand, WTF? Wearing prophylactics as a fashion statement?!?!

That said, I am having to suppress the urge to burst into song.

In the words of the great philosopher-theologian, "Alas."

a continuation...

08 February 2005
This is a continuation of a discussion from a couple of threads over at Happiness Is a Warm Gun. I'm posting this here because it's really long and I didn't want to be a space hog over at Jared and Matt's blog.

The first part is excerpted from pastoral correspondance between myself and a young woman wresteling with faith and sexuality. The second is a bit of my writing from my MDiv days.

...Ok - enough of that - to your question: actually, the Bible says absolutely nothing about "homosexuality," per se. That is, the idea of "homosexuality" as an orientation didn't come about until the nineteenth century when it was described as a psychological illness. In fact, it was only in the DSM-IV (the current standard diagnostic manual for mental health professionals) that homosexuality was no longer listed as a mental illness. While homosexuality didn't gain acceptable recognition as an "orientation" until the 20th century, there have doubtless always been gay and lesbian folk. In fact, there's a lot of evidence now tracking homosexual behavior in the natural world. (Remember all the news about Wendell & Cass? If that's something you're interested in, there's a really good book called Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity by Bruce Bagemihl [St Martin's Press, 1999]).

Ok - so let's talk about the stuff from the Old Testament. There are three passages in the Old Testament that folk tend to use in the sexuality debate, Genesis 19:5, Leviticus 18:22 & Leviticus 20:13.

The Genesis text is from the story of Sodom and Gomorra. Lot invites the two travelers into his home so they wouldn't have to sleep in the square. We'll pick up at 19:4 (4) But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; (5) and they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them." (6) Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, (7) and said, "I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. (8) Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof." (NRSV)

Ok - so what's at issue here is actually not that the men of Sodom want to have sexual intercourse with other men. What is at issue here is a massive breach of hospitality. Hospitality was HUGE in Ancient Israel. (Remember the whole thing about Abraham entertaining God by the Oaks of Mamory?) In fact, this is the same interpretation that Isaiah 3 uses. In that passage, the prophet is talking about social injustice and failures of hospitality - not about same sex intercourse. And remember, the men of Sodom wanted to rape the travelers. That Lot would offer his daughters (something that the ancient Israelites would have balked at too) indicates just how seriously hospitality was. As far as contemporary names, Dr. Patrick D. Miller, Professor of Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary also takes this view.

To Leviticus 18:22 ("You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.) and 20:13 ("If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them." ) For starters, for those of a fundamentalist frame of mind - notice this says nothing about lesbians! ;-) Silliness aside, these come from what are called the Purity Laws. Remember Paul's vision of all the unclean animals in Acts and God commands him to eat? To wit, Lev 19:19 "You shall keep my statues. You shall not let your animals breed with a different kind; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; no shall you put on a garment made of two different materials." And Lev 11:7-8 "The pig, for even though it has divided hoofs and is cleft-footed, it does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcass you shall not touch; they are unclean for you." Likewise the Pentetuch (first five books of the Bible) condones slavery (cf. Exodus 21:2, among many others). So what do we do with all of this? Well, we've decided slavery is pretty repugnant, and unless the folks taking issue with homosexuality are willing to give up polly-cotton blends and pork, they have no room to talk - they're as much an abomination by that standard as you or I. That is to say, as a community of faith with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church has decided that the Purity Laws aren't of much relevance to us any more, so we don't use them. Anyone who tries to play "pick & choose" is really just looking to grab things to support their own emotional reaction to an issue. Logically and scripturally, using Leviticus is simply not a tenable position.

So much for the Old Testament. Let's talk about the New Testament. Before I start diving into the texts, let me say a little something about the Greco-Roman world of the First Century and before... For the Greeks and the Romans, same sex intercourse was really quite normal (at least among men, though the Greek poet Sappho of Lesbos writes a number of very erotic poems about her female students). The deal was, for the Romans, it was fine to be the penetrator (the top) but, if you were over a certain age, it was degrading to be the penetratee (bottom). Masters would have sex with slaves, but it was expected that the master would be the top. Young children would have sex with their teachers as a matter of course - to many it was considered a normal part of the educational process (even Plato alludes to this). The big thing was, everyone was expected to have children. In fact, Augustus Caesar passed a law granting special rights to women who gave birth to three children. Reproduction was a big deal. And, as one of my professors here has said, "Any two idiots can make plumbing work." Folks got married and had kids - but if they were homosexual, it was just fine for them to have a thing on the side or to make use of slaves. Incidentally, in Rome, women could get in major trouble for having affairs with other men, but men got in little to no trouble.

In Greece, it was very similar situation. Sparta was really interesting though. If you remember, Sparta was a military state. Two things here: one, their most elite battalion was composed entirely of gay lovers. The notion was that they'd fight harder if they had to protect their lover and wanted to impress him. Interestingly, these guys kicked some serious ass. Think Special Forces of ancient Sparta on steroids. The other thing is, the marriage rite in Sparta was way homoerotic. The man could only come to his new wife at night, in the dark, after she'd had her head shaved and been dressed as a man. (For more on this, see Women in the Classical World by Fantham, Foley, Kampen et al.)

All of that is to say, there was a lot of homosexual activity and homoeroticism going on when the scriptures were being written. So, let's look at the three most discussed New Testament passages. Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10.

Romans 1:26-27 is probably the most widely used text in this debate. It reads, "For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons due penalty for their error." Start by remembering the marriage thing. The assumption is that everyone is married (for most women, starting around age 12) - so the first thing that's going on here is infidelity. Secondly, as Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold (the head of the Episcopal Church USA) has said (I'm paraphrasing what I heard in a sermon I heard him give), "This passage is not about gay and lesbian persons living in a faithful, committed relationship. What's being described here is pathologically unhealthy. This is mental illness, not healthy, Christian love." (or something to that effect.) Dr. Beverly Roberts Gaventa, a very widely respected scholar of the New Testament and one of my teachers, also holds that this is not about same sex love - this is about incredibly unhealthy behavior that is quite apart from two mutually consenting adults in love with one another. Besides, natural is quite relative. What was natural in St. Paul's day was that a twelve year old girl would marry a much older man without her consent and be expected to have children on a regular basis. It was likewise considered unnatural that a woman should have her head uncovered during worship (1 Cor 11:13). Slavery was natural and approved (cf. Philemon). As time passes, the Church grows into different understandings of what it means to be faithful to God.

To 1 Corinthians 6:9. "Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites...." In terms of the genre of this text, what Paul is using is called a "vice list." Rhetorically, vice lists function in an invective to stack up every negative connotation possible to influence the listener. To expect some hyperbole is not entirely out of place. That said, there are a few words in Greek folk get worked up over here, pornea (translated "fornicators") and arsenokites. An arsenokoites (perhaps "pederast") is a man who has sex with a younger or less powerful man, so a boy or a slave. This relationship necessarily involves exploitation and degradation of another. Sodomite is actually a crap translation for this. What's being talked about here is quite objectionable and is not mutually respecting love that honors God and partner. The word that is translated as "fornicators", pornoi, is from pornea which really just means "illicit sex" and comes from the word used in ancient Athens for the lowest class prostitute. (Yeah, they had gradations of prostitutes. The highest, a heteros, was kind of like a really wealthy and well educated geisha meets prostitute.) So this word is about sex outside the bounds of marriage. See, if they'd just let us folk get married, there wouldn't be a problem... ;-)

Last verse, 1 Tim 1:9-10. Same words, same deal. As is almost everything else in the NT that gets used.

Okay, so we've schlepped through all that scripture. The hard part is for lgbt folk to be able to still hear scripture as good news after it's been used as a bludgeon for so long against us. It's our Bible too! Two things here, there's a really great book called Take Back the Word edited by Robert Gross & Mona West. You may want to check that out. I've also attached a little (3 page) refleciton paper I did for my Romans class with Bev Gaventa that kind of chronicles my own wrestling with reclaiming Romans. I wish I could email you the copy with Dr. Gaventa's comments on it... she had some very warm things to say.

What all of this comes down to is, how do we read scripture? Do we read it as the infallible word of God? I think not. Scripture, while inspired by God and containing the knowledge of all things necessary for salvation is not the word of God. Jesus Christ is the Word of God (John 1). Scripture represents several thousand years of communities of faith working out what it means to be in relationship with the God whose Word is Jesus Christ. In that scripture, we learn that God's will is love not hatred, compassion not vengeance, mercy not harsh judgment, joy not sadness. Remember and never forget these three things: (1) God made you and God looked at the creation and called it "very good." (Gen 1:31) (2) a wise man, Chong Leong Seow (an Old Testament scholar and great advocate for lgbt folk in the church) said, "Never let your theology get in the way of your love." (3) Scripture is good news - it is the Good News - it is the record of the fulfillment of God's promise and love in Jesus Christ. Anyone who tries to detract from that message of redeeming love is simply missing the point.


The reflection paper:

Stealing Bullets: Sudden Breakthroughs in Reflective Writing

Reading Romans is hard – it’s not the Greek – I love Greek. I’m good at Greek. I love reading and translating, and exegesis. It’s all a big, wonderful word puzzle. It’s not even Paul. The deepest challenge for me is finding some way to hear Paul in Paul’s voice and not the voice that I’ve heard for years and years. I am not unskilled at working with texts and am perfectly able to rattle off various scholarly responses and arguments about the best reading of difficult texts in Romans. But somehow, I still feel like I’m staring down the barrel of a loaded gun every time I open the book.

Why? Because Romans has been used as a cudgel. It’s been misused and mistreated to misuse and mistreat people, to misuse and mistreat the children of God. People have used it against my dearest friends, and against me, in all kinds of circumstances.

“But to Israel he saith, ‘All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.’” (Romans 10:21, kjv)

One of my best friends in high school was Jewish. After she graduated, she went to work in Israel for a year as an English teacher. When she came back, we hung out a good deal and I caught flack from my own family because of it, not to mention what she had to deal with every day.

“But if their stumbling is the wealth of the world and their fall, the wealth of the nations, of how much more value is their inclusion!”
(Romans 11:12, my translation)

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9, kjv)

When I was twelve, I went to summer camp with a friend of mine and her family. The camp was a family retreat center in Northern Colorado (the families staid together in big hotel-room like spaces and ate meals together, but went off to do age specific activities during the day). One day, around the middle of camp, a counselor took me out into the woods, just the two of us, and told me I had to “make a decision for Jesus.” He got in my face – I could feel his breath on my cheeks as he talked, louder and louder, threatening me with hellfire and damnation if I didn’t choose Jesus right then, right there. He cited Romans concerning the need to confess Jesus is Lord.

Now, to back track for a second, I was baptized at six months old and faithfully attended Mass every Sunday at St Andrew’s Episcopal Church (which included the weekly recitation of the Nicene Creed). (Not to mention his rather obvious use of the text out of context…) All of that was worthless in this man’s eyes. I cried. He yelled some more. I cried some more and finally, to make him leave me alone, I did what he wanted, repeated the words he told me to repeat. When we got back, they made this big presentation about me “finally coming to Christ.” They gave me a Bible – one of the red letter, King James editions. I felt dirty.

“We have differing gifts according to the grace that has been given to us.” (Romans 12:6, my translation)

“And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” (Romans 1.27, kjv)

I grew up in Northwest Texas – affectionately known as the “belt buckle of the Bible belt.” Guys used to try to beat me up in gym class because I was different. That wasn’t the worst part – I could deal with them well enough and the coach was an usher at my church, so he looked out for me. What I couldn’t handle was that at tons of the Bible studies I went to with friends, I heard the same thing, over and over and over again. “God gave them up to a debased mind and things that should not be done.” Gay people are un-natural. God’s given up on them. God hates them and so do we. By implication: God hates me. The one book I could count on being quoted every time was Romans. And you know what’s sad? I began to believe it. I began to be afraid of it. I avoided reading it because I felt attacked every time I read it – opening it felt like looking down the barrel of a loaded shotgun.

So here I am, on Thursday afternoon – trying to come up with something coherent to say about Romans. I started two poems, one sermon, and an essay before I gave up and started journaling, at which point I came to a rather startling conclusion: The Epistle of St Paul to the Romans is not a gun or a club.

Fundamentally, (and this is the first time I’ve ever been able to say this and really mean it) the book of Romans is good news. “Love is genuine.” (Romans 12:9) I’m beginning to understand there’s a lot of that – of love – in what Paul’s writing. “To all the beloved of God who are in Rome, called saints, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7) Romans can be, and is, a vehicle of this grace and peace.

“O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable are his judgments and incomprehensible his ways!” (Romans 11:33, my translation)


i have a problem...

Many of you know I have a deeply disturbing addiction to unspeakably terrible movies. The Order, Underworld, and the like. The fascination is not so much an appreciation of any attempt at legitimate cinema, rather I like watching them because they're so bad that they're funny.

And now, Constantine is coming.

On the one hand, I'm terribly fascinated by the promise of another film that sucks so badly that it's funny. On the other hand, I'm not sure the historian in me can deal with the cognitive dissonance of a Keanu Reeves film about a dude that can see Nephilim with the monicer of Constantine the Great.

I am at least consoled by the fact that the Catholic Encyclopedia entry gets the first hit from Google.

über-fun

06 February 2005
I'm not entirely sure how I wound up here.

I do know it started during a study break coupled with a desire to know the full history of the ever popular phrase "All your base are belong to us." I knew full well that it came from Zero Wing (and a version of the game that never made it to a US console release!). That said, that was all I knew.

Whatever the case, within a few clicks of ye olde MX700, (at some point, remind me to tell you why the "y" in "ye olde" is really a "th") I was faced with the phenomenon of the "Heavy Metal Umlaut." Not surprisingly, I found this to be of infinitely greater interest than working on my homework.

Yeah, I'm a total geek. But I've got to tell you, none of this is nearly as cool as the t-shirt over at Think Geek that brought on this whole exploration.

Roses are #FF0000
Violets are ##0000FF
All my base
Are belong to you
.

In other, more disturbing news, it occurs to me just how horribly geeky I am when my "stress reducing study break" involves screwing around with a little HTML. Elisa is currently mocking me for this.

more culinary ramblings

05 February 2005
Another original recipe from Sloane's kitchen for your culinary adventures:

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

1 jar sun dried tomatoes in olive oil (8.5 oz)
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 red finger chilies, roasted in olive oil, peeled and seeded*
1-3 tsp. red chili flakes
6 leaves fresh basil
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
pepper
2 tbsp. parmiggano reggiano
2 tbsp. peccornio romano

Combine whole jar of sun dried tomatoes (oil & all), garlic, chilies, chili flakes, basil, oil, salt and pepper in food processor. Process to a very coarse paste. Stir in cheeses.

In addition to serving over pastas, I love this stuff on veggie burgers.

* To roast peppers, of any sort: Heat oven to 450°F. Place peppers on cookie sheet lined with foil on the top rack. Bake for 10 min, turn, then bake in 5 minute increments up to 25 minutes total (less time for smaller peppers). Pouring olive oil over the peppers gives them a great taste, but this will generate a lot of smoke when you open the oven. Once the time's up, place them in a bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap for 10 minutes. Peel and seed the peppers and you're done!

qua?

03 February 2005
I am utterly at a loss for words.

And what about paper cuts on the tongue?

Thanks, but no thanks.

let the hurting commence

02 February 2005
What I'm reading for next week (grouped by course), because some of you have asked why you've not seen me around much lately:

Monday:

ENG501
Richard Verstegen "Restitution of a Decayed Intelligence"
Clement "Richard Verstegen's Reinvention of Anglo-Saxon England"
Bede The Ecclesiastical History of the English People Book I
Certeau The Writing of History pp. xxv-55
Baker, Introduction to Old English chs. 1-2

CH223
Apuleius The Golden Ass Books 7-11

Work (ED315)
Ozmon Philosophical Foundations of Education pp. 14-47
Plato Republic Books 6-7
Plato Meno

Tuesday:

HIS543
Translate: Matthew 19:16, 22; 10:5-15; 19:16-30. Mark 10:17-22; 6:8-12; 10:17-27. Luke 18:18-23; 12:33; 10:1-11; 18:25-30; 12:16-21. Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-5:10; 20:33-35. Romans 15:25-27. I Cor 11:20-22. II Cor 8-9. Gal 2:10. Eph 4:28. I Thess 4:9-12. II Thess 3:5-6. I Tim 6:6-19. James 2:1-9; 5:1-6.
Kittel Theological Dictionary of the New Testament 6:318-332, 885-915.
E. Urbach "Treasures Above" Homages à Georges Vajda 117-124.
D. Georgi Remembering the Poor chs. 1, 3-6
G. Thessien The Social Setting for Pauline Christianity 27-67, 145-174
J. J. Meggitt Paul, Poverty and Survival 75-193.
Murphy Wealth in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the Qumran Community Studies in the Texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls 40. 103-162, 401-455, 459-512.

Wednesday:
I work on my thesis all day, which usually entails reading from 9am-5pm with 30 minutes for lunch and various walks to Firestone Library, Marquand Library, and back to Speer & Luce.

Thursday and Friday:
Read, translate, grade papers. Go to a discussion section for CH223.

Saturday:
Mine.

Sunday:
Mass, read.

the reluctant hegelian and his hidey-hole

01 February 2005
I had something of a disturbing realization today: I'm far more Hegelian than I would otherwise like to admit. As I was talking to a friend of mine from out west, I was describing work I was doing on my thesis and it suddenly occurred to me that one of my fundamental historiographic assumptions was entirely Hegelian. Frankly, I've never cared much for Hegel, though I recognize and value his contribution to philosophy (and dialectic is kinda cool). Yet, here I am, the reluctant Hegelian.

In other news, I just found out today that I'm eligible for a private study carrel in the library! WEE! I get my own bibliophilic hidey-hole! Let's bounce!