09 October 2007

Communion's No Joke

I never really read 1 Corinthians' instructions about the Eucharist before, at least not in the context of a sacramental theology class.

1 Corinthians 11:27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.

Hold the phone!

It has taken me until my third year to realize I need seminary even more than my adult convert peers here, because I've taken it all for granted, my whole life. You go to Communion because you do. It's what we do. Certainly I remember, growing up, a big fight in my church when some angry people didn't want to take communion from the big bad priest, and somebody said something under their breath about "love and charity with your neighbors." And now we have some Anglican brothers (and sisters?) who refuse to take communion from so-and-so becaue they are gay, or they are gay-loving folk.

"without recognizing the body of the Lord..."
That's us, right? We're not talking about magic bread, are we, but about recognizing the body is us, gathered and symbolized in gathering? What does it mean to recognize the body of the Lord? Can babies do it? Can I do it? Can my evangelical in-laws do it?

"that is why many of you are weak and sick..."
Certainly the Corinthian community has been fighting with each other and Paul is addressing that. How might his explanation apply now? What might a return to "recognizing the body of the Lord" do for my own community's divisions?

The trouble is, I get the feeling there's no community that really agrees on what communion means, or what the body of the Lord is. Perhaps we need not agree, but agree to look for it together. That's why OK on babies, OK on my in-laws, and OK on me -- because all three are on the watch for it.

"A man ought to examine himself..."
As I've been meditating on these verses I have begun examining myself before taking communion, in obedience to this text. Turns out it's a great discipline, especially when I'm almost to the table, like a kid using her sticky fingers to pull herself up to see over the top. For me it is the perfect moment to ask myself: what's undone? am i trying to get away from anything? Knowing Paul had strong words for the fighting Corinthians as they ate and drank, I'm taking them to heart and meditating on how God may judge me in my eating and drinking.

21 September 2007

Who's Talkin' 'bout My Jesus?!

I never even heard of Kathy Griffin. I don't own a television. But a seminary friend sent me an article about the 100,000 bones that a Christian group put up for AN ADVERTISEMENT shaming Kathy for her comments at the Emmies.


This is the some of the problem in seminary. A generous sense of humor is decidedly lacking. I attribute this in almost all cases to
insecurity, a thriving virus in the hyper-sensitive fear-saturated environment. Reasons for insecurity in seminary: fear of someone finding out you're not worthy of ordination, fear of someone telling your bishop/commission on ministry/other authority figure you're not worthy of ordination, fear of someone not liking you and telling someone else in the Episcopal Fishbowl you're not worthy of ordination, fear of failing the General Ordination Exams and linking this to your unworthiness for ordination -- friends, it goes on.

If I'm afraid that laughing at comments like Kathy's may compromise my future career, I'm going to look around at everyone before I laugh, and I may laugh in private, just to be sure. And maybe I will go ahead and not tell anyone which TV shows I watch, and maybe I need another beer, because all this hiding, trying to be on the safe side , is making me feel pretty anxious.

Or, if I'm not afraid, I laugh and jokes and make them. I don't even confine my jokes to lame seminary content like who wears a chausable* and who doesn't. If I'm not afraid, I'm relaxed and eager to relax with my colleagues and friends. If I'm not afraid, my Ember Day letters** include tales of "taking on the chapel and what I learned from it." If I'm not afraid, I ask for help when I need it, read what seems most important, and trust that all the committees and authorities would help me live through my potentially low GOE** scores.

Not everyone has it easy. Some are already persecuted or have generated their committees' skepticism for various reasons: sexual orientation, marital status, personality type, past arguments with "important people," or 1 + strikes already against them. But to operate, even as an underdog, out of insecurity, whether as an aspirant* among postulants/candidates or as a Christian among non-Christians, is never the answer. Operating from fear and insecurity is self-destructive. And honestly? It makes a person boring to be around.

So please. Take a joke, sit back, relax. Get comfortable as a Christian in a world of non-Christians. It's not that popular to love Jesus these days. And if you're even considering spending $100,000 to "stick up for Jesus," you're helping to make him all that less popular.

* My first week of seminary classes I grew very afraid when I heard two priests amusing themselves with a "joke" about chausables. Chausables are a liturgical vestment, and if you didn't know that, congratulations!

** I apologize to the 99.99% of the non-Anglican population for this post being written in Episcopalese. One good site for translation issues is here.


From a post-comment interview with Kathy:

And when you did win, you pointedly did not thank Jesus in your acceptance speech, right?

Here's what I said exactly: ''A lot of people get up here and thank Jesus for helping them win this award, but I have to say nobody has been less helpful in getting me to this moment than Jesus. I don't know what I ever did to him, I just think he doesn't like me that much, and if he had his way, Caesar Milan would be holding this statue right now, but he's not and I am! So I guess all I can really say is, 'Suck it, Jesus! This statue is my God now!'''

06 August 2007

Seminary Mama

The zinnhead vacation was long, and I'm ready to emerge from blog-hiding. Being really pregnant followed by being really new at motherhood meant not a lot of extra moments for electronic reflection. Even my home journal grew eerily vacant, at probably the time I'll want to remember most in my life. I have this new project, see. It's a doozy.His name is Ira.

Since the big arrival day in May, Ira and I are spending most of our time together. I've managed to read about a book a week on American Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism and meet with a group weekly to discuss our reflections. My grandmother died somewhat suddenly so Ira took his first plane ride somewhat suddenly that same day. Another trip to the midwest a week later meant we were tired of flying and sleeping in different beds every night.

This summer vacation is already winding down -- it is already August -- so when classes begin again in September I plan to have my zinnhead hat firmly on again. Blogging my pregnant seminarian experiences didn't pan out, but maybe the next chapter will prove more bloggable.

21 February 2007

Coke, Culture, and CDSP

On the pass-around internet surveys that ask you to choose between coke and pepsi (you know, the ones that begin with "what time did you get up this morning?"...) I always choose coke. coke is just hands-down better.

In the last few years, M has brought to my attention the horrors of the Coca-Cola company, most notoriously for its role in depleting the water suppy of India. If you've seen the well-made documentary The Corporation, you know there are plenty of reasons to swear off Coke forever. The convenience of Coke, its ubiquity, and the way it is so normal-feeling and American make it leaving it behind a hard decision to sustain over time. Right after seeing The Corporation I swore it off, and later picked it back up after the shock and repulsion of the facts wore off and I'd seen it everywhere, and the warm fuzzy image of it took up more space in my consciousness once again.

Last year at a Community Council meeting at my seminary, discussion was underway about whether to get a Coke machine to raise money to fund the missionary activities we sponsor. At one of those discussions, M raised the possibility of not using Coke for this project, suggesting that giving money to this company in order to fund missionary activity was not good stewardship and unjust. The reaction of the crowd at that meeting was cold and dismissive, and we got a Coke machine.

In my Christian Ed class yesterday, someone brought a bottle of Dasani water for show-and-tell as their cultural artifact. This led to a discussion of the Coca-Cola Company, and I was so surprised to hear the overwhelming majority of comments express a knowledge of the evils of Coke and its social and environmental destruction. It was a different sentiment altogether; now Coke wasn't what we wanted in our hallway, it was an example of the evils of our culture. But right outside our classroom sat the new Coke machine.

Has the culture of CDSP changed? it's a complicated question to answer. I wonder if its worth wondering whether the Community Council (student government) has different opinions of Coke than the student body as represented in that class? Perhaps the Council does not reflect what students would have wanted in their hallway? I wonder if sentiments have changed with the entering class's more intentional focus on justice issues? I wonder if M's comments had an effect? With only a year between the two experiences, it made me think: how do we know what the dominant voices of our community are saying? is it worth trying to figure that out?

The people in the Christian Ed class with Coke products in front of them kept silent. I kept silent in my state of observation. Who kept silent in the Council meetings last year? Who might have spoken up in either situation if the tide was flowing in another direction?

20 February 2007

Pancakes for Idols and Fools

We interrupt this blog to bring you the best pancake recipe that exists. If you're celebrating Shrove Tuesday but can't bear to leave your TV because Idol is on tonight, this is the recipe for you. What are you giving up for Lent? All I know is, it won't be these pancakes!

Homemade Pancakes
(enough for two really hungry people)
2 Eggs (seperated)

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup oil

1 cup milk (plus some later for consistency)

1 1/3 cup flour

1 tsp. vanilla (opt.)

Beat egg whites until stiff - set aside.

Beat egg yolks, add sugar and salt, beat in.

Add baking powder, beat until just mixed in well.
Add flour, milk, and oil. Beat until smooth(not too much otherwise the baking powder won't react correctly) and add vanilla.
Add egg whites to batter and FOLD gently. Let batter sit for 15-30 minutes prior to cooking.

Get ready to pat your tummy! I'll never go back to Bisquick.

02 February 2007

Friday Five: ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

I haven't done the Friday Five in about Five Hundred and Fifty Five Years. (revgalblogpals)

1. Share, if you wish, the biggest change you experienced this past year.
Finding out the first week of class, in my second year of seminary, that I was pregnant. This is followed by finding out I'm due on the last day of class, in my second year of seminary. So far pregnancy has mellowed me out.

2. Talk about a time you changed your mind about something, important or not.
May 2004: 7 bridesmaids is probably too many. (June 2004: my wedding.)

3. Bishop John Shelby Spong wrote a controversial book called "Why Christianity Must Change or Die." Setting aside his ideas--what kind of changes would you like to see in the Church?
Less anxiety, more instruments. Less biting, more kissing.

4. Have you changed your hairstyle/hair color in the last five years? If so, how many times?
2001: cut hair from waist to ears at midnight with boyfriend.
2002-2003: didn't pay attention to it.
2003: hair is at waist again; begins to annoy me again.
2004: cut hair to chin in preparation for wedding.
Early 2005: add highlights and layers for the first time.
Mid 2005: cut a short-in-back, long-in-front thing with more highlights.
Late 2005: no more highlights, getting even shorter.
2006: boy short, no highlights.

5. What WERE they thinking with that New Coke thing?
"We're bored. Let's make a New Coke thing."

Candlemas, a Goddess, and a Pregnant Seminarian

I didn't want to go to chapel today.

Today is Candlemas. Surely there are others out there afflicted with the same eye-rolling tick irritated by words like "Candlemas." Anything that ends in "-mas" makes me think there will be a weird Christian legend having to do with knights or nobles or somebody's first contact with visigoths or something. If you have any such ticks, I'll tell you it can become chronic at seminaries. People really live up these special occasion days; it is like drawing the Princess Frostine card in CandyLand for some of my colleagues. I try to avoid these festive occasions because...it makes me tick. I only went up the stairs into the chapel because my friends were going. It was inertia. Me and my big belly went slowly up the stairs, grudgingly lit a beeswax candle, and hummed along with the Anglican chant.

Right away there was talk about hope, and light, and I started to thaw toward the pesky "mas"-ing. Then I heard a pretty rad sermon, reminding me that we weren't just celebrating Jesus as the light of world; we were celebrating Mary's first trip back to the Temple after the 40 required days of "purification." I was also reminded that this "mas" takes over where we used to celebrate goddesses all around the world, on the smack middle day between winter solstice with spring equinox. Fire was a part of these goddess celebrations, the preacher preached. I looked down at the tiny flame of my beeswax candle. I rubbed by belly. I felt fertile, and connected. Finally, I decided to give Candlemas a few mental props.

I never understood the draw of Epiphany; talk about "light of the world" makes me nervous, and apart from cornering evangelicals into talking about astrology, I didn't have much use for Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. So, I didn't expect to get a buzz from another weird light ritual at this time of year. I kinda liked it, though, when it was all over. The fire and goddess stuff helped, and so did remembering that Mary is almost eclipsed in the Gospel, being 40 days post-birth. From here on out she thinks Jesus is crazy and hangs around for death. For the first time I wondered really concrete things about Mary's state at that time: did she feel overwhelmingly sad and really dread going to hand Jesus over to weird old men and women? Was she embarrassed to give pigeons instead of turtledoves (Did she wish she had a McLaren stroller instead of a hand-me-down Graco?)? I had some bonding time with Mary there for a minute. And I was a little proud to have my candle in one hand and my belly in the other and think of the goddess quietly to myself in my seminary chapel. I took my beeswax candle with me, and remember that it was blessed with holy water while I was busy doing my inner eye-roll. Good thing it's not about me.

22 January 2007

Look Ma, No Coffee Shop!

Finally, M and I have internet in the new apartment. Officially, 1 minute ago. The semester without internet was a frustrating learning experience I never want to repeat.

Now that I don't have to squeeze blogging into coffee shop hours, I'm free to pick up where I left off again. But, not blogging this past semester was a relief in some ways. I'm ambivalent about whether or not to keep it up.

Now that we're pregnant, will blogging time soon be out the window again anyway in a few short months? Is it worth continuing the life of this thing?