Thursday, February 28, 2008

The First Day of Your Life

This is the first day of your life, but i just thought that you should know.... i could go anywhere with you and i'd be happy, these things there's no telling, we'll just have to wait and see.

but i'd rather be working for a paycheck than waiting to win the lottery.

Happy Birthday Reverse Babe! 2-28-80 to 2-28-08

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Let's Not and Say We Did

From We Make the Road by Walking by Myles Horton and Paulo Freire page 29:

(A missonary came in)... who was telling how many souls he saved in africa and i was impressed with that. i thought that was great, saving souls, until he says the ones that i didn't save are going to hell. i said wait a minute. somethings wrong with this kind of thinking. he said if they're told about christ and don't accept him, then they go to hell but if they aren't told, they don't go to hell because they aren't responsible. so i did a little mental arithmetic, at which i was very poor but good enough for this purpose, and figured out how many people he was damning to hell.

The more i thought about that the more incensed i got at this whole procedure, damning these people to hell. The missionary had a discussion period and all these people were asking theological questions. So i asked him an arithmatic question. I asked, "How many people have you sent to hell? According to your analysis, for every person you've saved, you've sent hundreds to hell. Why, wouldn't it have been better if you'd stayed home, there'd be more people in heaven if you had stated home?"

Well, the people were furious.


This book is the coolest! Go out and get it! Anyone who is a teacher, knows a teacher, or has ever been taught by a teacher! great read!

i was once like this missionary. from ages 12-16 i was very zealous and fundie in my doctrine. hard to believe now, but i believe this was out of my fear and ignorance of the world outside my catholic, smalltown context.

over the past few months i've been in a convo with a guy who still holds the fundie doctine. due to my christian leanings of "witnessing" and also thinking of my own faith journey, i thought that this dialogue would show ignorance and fear and maybe get this guy to convert, or at the very least, check out something outside of where he was looking.

the convo lasted until kate read it and found that this wasn't a dialogue at all but a pissing match. it was as if i was talking to a wall. him as well! i'm not blameless here either! it was an air of "screw the facts, my mind is made up!" on either side. i saw him as an ignorant fundie who just didn't know better and he saw me as a know-it-all agnostic who is trying to be a christian. well i'm a christian, i know that. as for a know-it-all, i hope i don't come across that way on here.. i'm just sharing cool stuff i've learned here. i'm still very much struggle'n and learning and always will be!

this convo proved fruitful however. i've learned a lot and here are some lessons i hope to share:

1. never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups reading books by authors designed to get stupid people to buy them and make a profit. Ann Coulter, James Dobson, and Richard Dawkins come to mind.

2. ignorant ppl will stay ignorant no matter how many book recommendations you make.

3. i'm a fundie as well... that's right, i've said it! i'm very much a fundamentalist.. with a twist on the word of course. i believe that you should love God, your neighbor and yourself, period. you fundamentally don't have to be christian to do this. if you are currently doing this in a non-christian capacity, you're covered.

How does this work biblically?
jesus said he was the way the way, the truth, and the life. can't get to the Father without him. if you're jewish and worshipping the Father, and jesus and the father are infact one and the same, you're covered.

if you're on the WAY of loving God, neighbor or self and think God is called Allah/Shiva/or even think God is within or in others, you're covered since THE WAY and jesus are one and the same.

if you're alive and jesus is THE LIFE then you're covered if you're following said love of God, neighbor, self.

when you boil my beliefs down, this is what it is. very simplistic, just like me ;-). my fundamental creed. the rest is just doctrine.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Possibilities of Each Word

I love my Jewish Commentary Class. This could be one of the most important classes i take here at seminary. I took the class because the weekend before registration Kate and i attended Jason and Lindsay's wedding. For those of you who don't know, J&L are jewish as many of our closest friends are. Kate and I always joke that we must have a "jewish magnetism" as we seem to be easy friends with jewish people. so i took the class mostly in respect to our friends and also to find out more about how the Jewish Tradition reads the Bible.

This class is to help build a dialogue between the Christian and Jewish Traditions and is sponsored by the Jewish-Chautauqua soceity. It is taught by a local Lancaster Rabbi, Rabbi Jack.

First off, there is no one Jewish way. There are at least 20 different theologies. As my teacher, Rabbi Jack says, "If you put 10 rabbi's in a room you'll have 12 different opinions." So when asking what Jews believe, most rabbi's will answer "Such and Such synagoge believes..." or "some jews believe..." About the only core beliefs that cross all gaps would be that
1. Jews are children of Israel/Jacob.
2. God is one and never separated and has never come to earth.
3. The Torah is very important for cultural and identity reasons.

Jews do not accept things "just because." Must have room for debate. Jews wrestle at the core.. in fact the name "Israel" means "to wrestle with God" (El being the word for God). Why wrestle? Well if you've every seen a Greco-Roman wrestling match, you'll note that wrestling is an intimate event. One must know how the opponent's body is positioned and what strategy that person is trying to use to get out of or put you into a hold. aside from sex, this is about as intimate as you're going to get. This is great for christians to learn to because a lot of christians seem to accept things JUST BECAUSE or BECAUSE THEY"VE ALWAYS BEEN THAT WAY. the world is sand. things have never ALWAYS been anyway. the world is in constant flux. The Jewish tradition seems to get that. Plus how they look at the Bible is at a much more complex level than what i'm used to looking at... here's some few examples:

what is the first commandment? well, the first one isn't from exodus.. it's from genesis where God tells Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiple. okay, what's the first one of the ten commandments? "I'm the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt..." PROBLEM>>> IT'S NOT COMMANDING ANYTHING! The Hebrew word for the 10 Commandments is literally translated as the 10 Utterances/Sayings. Someone had to decide that God was commanding in the first place.

How does the bible begin? Christians would say "In the Beginning..." but the Hebrew words are literally translated "When God began to create..." Reason: There is NO beginning to God. God has always been in Jewish thought and creation happened when God decided to start. If you look at the hebrew word, the first word is Berashet..The rabbi's make a big deal over this because the Bible doesn't start with an "A". Why does it start with a B the rabbi's ask... Well in Hebrew the "B" looks like "]", and when reading from right to left, you'll notice that the ] creates a barrier. So the A has always been but we are cut off from it and could not possibly have knowledge of it nor could we comprehend it. What happened before creation is not for us to know.

Intense right?! I LOVE it!

The another point is that when you're reading the Bible you're reading at least 4 forms of commentary right off the bat.

1. Original biblical script had no puncuation. adding puncuation is commentary. For example Jack told a story about a Rabbi and his date going to a tennis court. There was a sign that said "STUDENTS ONLY NO VISITORS" and the date refused to play on the court. The rabbi then said, "No, No, you're reading it wrong. It says 'Students only? NO! Visitors!" Legend has it that these two played tennis and later married and lived happily ever after.

2.Original biblical script had no vowels. adding vowels is commentary. for example: GDSNWHR. let's add some vowels to make it GODISNOWHERE. How do you read that? God is now here or God is no where? problematic right?

3. Translation is commentary. In Genesis it says that God's RUAK hovers over the still waters of the earth. RUAK can be translated as spirit, wind, or breath. which one do we pick? our class voted for spirit. Jack then asked, is the S capital or lower case? our class voted for capital S. Jack then said "I'm not surprised, you're Christians and believe in the Holy Spirit with capital letters... we Jews don't, so it's a lower case s in our Torah..." which leads to the fourth level:

4. Your theology affects the way you read the bible. Throughout the hebrew bible and even in the christian scriptures we have Jesus and many others saying that "God is ONE!" (Behold, the Lord your God who has brought you out of Eygpt is ONE). Many Christians overlook these passages as it does not line up with their theology of a Trinitarian God.

On top of all of this, the Rabbi's also have developed the MIDRASH which are collections of stories to help explain the bible. this sounds like heresy to most christians as we tend just to think of what the bible says but ignore what the bible DOESN'T say. Midrash stories fill in the blanks in the bible. for example, what does Cain say to Able before killing Able in the field? my christian bible says "let us go into the field" and then Cain rises up and kills his brother. the Torah has empty quotes. it literally says Cain said to his brother, "" and then rose up and killed his brother. there are a THOUSAND Midrash stories that talk about what exactly was said between the two brothers. My favorite is the story of how Cain talks about how Able has "one up'ed" him. you see, Cain INVENTED sacrifice as a means of being thankful to God. Able, like any younger sibling comes along and steals the idea and does it just a little bit better. Cain is jealous and accidentally kills Able. you see the hebrew word used here is not the word for "MURDER" which would be killing with intent (which is the same as the commandment, thou shall not murder). the hebrew word here is for KILL which can be translated as manslaughter, accidental, which is the word used for executions and what soliders do in battle.

how cool huh? i'm going to love this class as it takes my biblical studies to a whole new level. it invites study and play within the text. the reason to look for inconsistences and invent stories about them is to help us find our own realities in the texts. something i'm looking forward to doing here this semester!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Now for something completely different...

I did this survey way back when and thought it'd be sweet to do it again! you can do it too! this is my half-assed appology for laying a heady theory on y'all... so now is time for fun! join in, won't you?

just a quick note, this is Kate and my iTunes list... so don't be surprised..


So, here's how it works:

1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, etc).
2. Put it on shuffle.
3. Press play.
4. For every question type the song that's playing.
5. When you go to a new question press the next button.



Opening Credits:
Honey, Honey- From the Mama Mia Sountrack

Waking Up:
Take a Walk by Spoon (great song to wake up to! "come up, take'n a walk with you!")

Falling In Love:
While the Cold Winter Waiting by Trentemoller (that would be one depressed love affair!)

Fight Scene:
Give my love to Rose by Johnny Cash... damn sad fight.. or at least an after fight sound.. DUDE I KILLED A GUY! EEEEKK!!

Breaking Up:
Nobody's Home by Urlich Schnauss (good one for a breakup!)

Making up:
Marching Bands of Manhattan by Deathcab for Cutie.. good one iTunes! ("i'd make your name sing, go through the alleys and bounce off of the buildings")

Life's Okay:
Chocolate Jesus by Tom Waits

Mental Breakdown:
I slept with someone in fallout boy and all i got was this song written about me by Fallout Boy ("my conscience is calling in sick again")

It's your Love by Tim McGraw (that causes me to drive far, far away?!)

This Train Don't Stop here Anymore by Elton John (wow!)

Happy Dance:
You Give Me Something by Jamiroquai

The Crazy One by the Brindley Brothers ("you wonder if anyone here is on your side.. i am and i say you're not the crazy one")

Final Battle:
I'll See you when we're both not so emotional by American Football

Death Scene:
Say it Right by Nelly Furtado ("you either stand or you fall" i guess i fell)

Ending Credits:
The Impression that I Get by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones ("have you ever been close to tragedy or been close to folks who have?")

BONUS! The Sex Scene: Poor Leno (Istanbul take forever) by Royksopp from the Live Album

now what'd y'all get?! let me know and i'll check out the songs on iTunes.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Old Way Trodden by the Victim

As Hellion stated, this theory is pretty scary. It rips the thin veil of civility off humanity and exposes a violent mechanism at work. Here's my way of remembering Mimetic Theory: People are always desire'n things. They form groups so their desire gaining is multiplied. Sole purposes of groups are to deny resources to other groups. Get it? The church role in this would be to be a group that doesn't act like a group... that acts counter to what a group is supposed to do. Groups like The Jaycees, Habitat For Humanity, OxFam, etc etc. all fight that.

So the point of Mimetic Theory is to stop violence. this would essentially put ppl like Rush, Bill O'Reilley, and Ann Dumpface Coulter out of their jobs of hating the "others" that make 'Merica bad. Can't villify the LGBT community as marriage was failing without their help, and we'd fail to see the connection between "ruining the institution of marriage" and allowing same-sex marriages. Just like the recession and unemployment being blamed on the "mexicans" who are supposedly taking all the jobs. we'd see it being more of a mix of corporations SENDING jobs away as well as Americans not wanting to do certain jobs...The picking of any victim, or "other" to solve the problem is ultimately arbitrary and the peace is short-lived.

Let's take a look at Job and Jesus through the lens of Mimetic Theory.

In his book Job the Victim of His People, Girard postulates that the story is very simple. Job was ostracized and persecuted by the people around him. He was the scapegoat of the community.

Job was once the idol of his people, a man who was successful, wealthy and powerful. He was emulated and desired. But this provoked rivalry first among his friends and then the people at large. In the end this process was mystified and Job's friends believe that he was the cause of his own misfortunes and seek his salvation. Job maintains his innocence through the whole book. He thinks God is persecuting him and thus refused to acquiesce in the process of victimage. This obsures the story then for what it really is argues Girard. The text obscures the guilt of the people and places the blame on God.

Like Job, Jesus is also made a scapegoat; an innocent who is first the admired hero of his people and then is the abject victim who is sacrificed to resolve social tensions. Like in this previous post, Jesus was subversive. Jesus endangers his society's security to the point where the leaders fear divine wrath. But unlike Job, Jesus refuses the accusations of his persecutors. The Gospels lay bare the scapegoat mechanism directly.

Jesus refuses to place responsibility for violence anywhere except on those who are its perpetrators. Did the Jews kill Christ? No. Did the Romans? It was a Roman style execution specifically for enemies of the state (the Jews would have stoned him). Jesus however, practices what he preached. He forgives his murderers and ends any furthering scapegoating (however the Church later picked up this practice!). Jesus simply enacts the logic of a God who refuses violence.

God is the victim and so cannot act as the persecutors, reciprocating their violence. God's response is completely contrary to human society and history, utterly pacific: return of forgiveness for violence.

some good references to read more on Mimetic Theory can be found at under introductory articles... check it out! also check out Girard's library! it's fantastic and i neeeed to dive into more of it.

moving on to some personal current events, today starts the first day of the spring semester. i'm taking Intro to Education Ministries, Jesus and the Gospels, Intro OT part II, Pastoral Care, and Jewish Commentary with Rabbi Jack! I'm really excited to start! I'm also excited for spring.. it's like -5 here and Sonny's leaving little pee-sickles all over Lancaster. Can't wait until it warms up.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World

I've just started reading some essays by Rene Girard. I've been instructed to read this dude by a variety of sources including Bryce, whom i work with at the library. Girard is the creater of an idea, an idea so powerful that Girard finds it in the foundation of all others. But it's not really an idea, it's more a mechanism, a non-conscious working of the social body, operative everywhere in human history.

This is called Mimetic Theory. The structure of the theory goes something like this:
Desire is triangular as no one simply desires an object spontaneously, but learns the desire from another.
Conflict and rivalry then occurs over the desired object.
Death occurs. This fulfillment then is not the attaining of the object of desire but the denial of the rival.

Take for example the family. Girard basis this in the context of Freud's Oedipal desire. Freud thinks that the founding even of society was the collective murder of the father by the brothers in the primal horde. Guiltstricken by what they had done the brothers then divinized their father and denied themselves the very think for which they commited the patricide: the sexual use of the hordes females.

This is the fundamental truth hidden since the foundation of the world says Girard in his book Violence and the Sacred; the collective murder of an arbitrary victim. So the violence is then endless, obeying the simple law of mimetic reciprocation (vegeance). It was discovered somewhere down the line in this history that peace was re-established through finding and killing a single and common enemy to whom all attributed their misfortune. This simple event-killing of one by all- founds soceity, religion, and all other major social institutions. This is called the scapegoat mechanism.

Sometimes the scapegoat undergoes a transformation in death. Since the death brought peace, the murdered then becomes a saviour of the group. People then use ritual reenactments of the saving murder, which becomes the institution of sacrifice.

Such scapegoat murders can be applied to Jesus, MLK Jr., JFK, and more. Here we have the exact pattern Girard spoke of. Someone comes with a new revolutionary idea. These people are popular, fall from grace, and are then killed or assassinated. In death these people become the savior or to the least iconic.

But does this bring about a lasting peace? More on this later!

Saturday, February 02, 2008


The Self-Portrait is the winner with 6 votes! Thanks everyone for voting and commenting. here's a quick run down of what it's about:

My customers at capitol were the first people to point out the resemblence not only in angular features but also in attitude between my dog and myself. sonny and i would sleep our whole lives through and be fine.. we like to play hard and when we're done, we're done. we're pretty laid back dudes. we enjoy walks and peeing on random trees.. okay maybe just sonny on the tree thing..

That cloud of craziness in the background shows all different types of groups fighting with each other not realizing that they're all connected.. even we ignore that fact and quabble over differences..

Art's meaning is in the hands of the viewer... This is just what i was trying to convey. If this doesn't match up with what you got out of the pic, then great! that's the beauty of art!

anyways.. i'm going back to posting some crazy theories and WEDNESDAY 2-6, a BIG one is gonna drop, so stay tuned for that.