In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My New Rhythm

Did you realize a funny thing about the world "rhythm?" There are no vowels. Yeah, yeah, there's a Y in it, but that doesn't count. Not really. The letter Y only counts in those short little words, not one with so many letters in it.

Anyway, I'm adjusting to a new rhythm. This whole year has been an attempt to find a new rhythm. This fall, we were working out at 6:00. Eventually, life caught up with us, and we went to bed later and got up later.

Now, we are back to getting up at 6:00, but there's no time for exercise in the morning. Now, my other half has to get to an 8:00 class, while I begin my day a little earlier. My class doesn't count toward my FTE, so I work later in the afternoon as well. This schedule works out perfectly with my other half, as he also usually has class until 4:40.

By the time we get home, walk the dog, cook, and eat dinner, it's 7:30. I have a little time to check email and maybe post a blog, but then I'm in bed by 10:00. No time to lounge. Not until May.

Our dog has not caught up to the new rhythm yet. He sleeps all night, then is awake with us for about 1.5 hours in the morning. Then he sleeps all day until we get home at 5:30 or so. Lately, he's taken to waking up at about 4:00 AM, wanting to go outside. My other half is very good about taking him. But then he's not in the mood for a walk when I take him at 6:30. This morning, I lectured him in the middle of the street. I knew he couldn't understand a word I was saying, but I felt better saying it.

Perhaps this rhythm is only going to last a few more months. Once the 8:00 ends in May, then we are going to establish a new rhythm. I don't know what that will be like.

I often like to think that my life would be simpler if I followed a routine schedule. But whenever I really have one, I find it very limiting.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Living Away From It All

This weekend, we went to visit my sister. She and her husband live at a camp in Northern Minnesota. Her husband is the manager of the camp, so they get to live on site. They have a pretty nice house, but my other half and I stayed in a small apartment above the garage. It was mighty cold the first night, but we were bundled up enough to handle it.

It may be the combination of visiting them and looking at information about Holden Village, but I started to think that it would be very cool to live in some cabin away from it all. I could turn into my own sort of hermit. I could grow my own food and use an outhouse through the harsh winter. I could live on a camp site, and have access to some of the most beautiful property on God's green earth. Wouldn't it be swell.

However, the feeling always passes. There are two reasons for this:

1. I grew up in a very isolated environment. My family lived miles from our nearest neighbors, and five miles past the nearest telephone line. It's a beautiful property (my parents still live there). However, I'm an extrovert. I want to be around other people. And I don't always get along with people who really love living in a small town. Which leads me to my second reason...

2. I think I really am a big city person. I love living in Minneapolis. I still have a fantasy to live in New York. I think that living in such an isolated area again would drive me a little crazy.

OK - so I've established that I probably am not going to live in a cabin in the woods. But, this weekend I have also discovered the importance of leaving the city and having a cabin-in-the-woods experience. I probably won't get to the point of "roughing it" in a tent for a long period of time. However, visits to places like my sisters, my parents, and even places like Holden Village (Did you click on the link above? I've only heard wonderful things about this place. I REALLY need to visit it).

I should be a city slicker who recharges himself in the woods. I need to schedule some sabbath time away from my overly scheduled life to do some contemplative work. This sabbath time is not often taken. Too often, I mix my vacations with work. That does not make sabbath time. It just makes work with travel. I need to do some real retreating from the world.

Holden, here I come!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Moving into Spring Semester

I haven't posted in a while, and apparently, people are missing it. OK - one person is missing it. My grandma doesn't complain that I don't call or email anymore. She complains that I don't update my blog more often.

Hi grandma!

There have been quite a few things that I've been thinking of writing about. The main reason that I haven't been writing has probably been because I've been preparing for my class. Most of my free time and brain space has been dedicated to getting this class set up.

The class begins tomorrow at noon. Gasp.

I've been trying to get a syllabus and class schedule together. Of course, that doesn't mean I have a clue what I'm going to say when I'm standing in front of them tomorrow. I keep thinking of things, but nothing has really been organized yet. I haven't found a lot of "formal" support. I've gotten lots of good advice from seasoned professors about how to teach my class. However, I still don't have the administrative status to see my class list. This sort of stuff is a little unsettling.

More and more students keep registering for this as well. At one time, I was happy to have around 12 students in the course. Now, those numbers have reversed and I see 21 students registered for my class. Who knows who else could be there when I show up tomorrow?

I think that I'm the type of person who needs to bumble through something in order to find out how to improve it. This first course may not be great, but it will give me an idea of what I need to do to improve it. I'm just hoping that the students don't suffer for my lack of preparedness. I mean, I have a plan. I just don't know if it's a GOOD plan.

Prayers would be appreciated tomorrow around noon. By then, I should have gotten myself off to a good start.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Maybe I'm an ELCA Lutheran

You are 87% Lutheran! This is most certainly true.

Nicely done! Martin would be proud of you! You may or may not have room for growth in understanding Lutheran terminology and culture. Good thing Salvation is by Grace and not by merit. We can add nothing to what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. But it never hurts to learn a little more about the church on earth. Thanks for taking the quiz!

How Lutheran Are You?
Create a Quiz

I think that I could have done better, but I don't know a lot about the LCMS, WELS, and the even smaller Lutheran branches. It's probably more accurate to say that I'm an ELCA Lutheran...but a good one, at that.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Liturgy in a Pop Culture World

Unfortunately, none of the churches I know advertise themselves this way.

Thanks to Lutheran Confessions for bringing it to my attention.

Bold New Blogger

Well, I finally moved over to Blogger's Beta version. I thought about changing my look, but I really like this style the best. I also tend to get confused when I read other blogs that have changed around a lot. I guess I'm less about how it looks and more about what I write (although you might not know that by reading this stuff).

I've been sick since I got back from New Orleans. Every time I think that I've finally got it under control, it seems to come back to get me. When I was riding in the plane, we got to the point in the descent when my ears should have started popping. They didn't. The pressure just built, and nothing I did could get them to stop. The pressure lasted for two days.

I hate being sick (who doesn't). It bugs me, because there is stuff that I want to do. Stuff that I should be doing. But then I'm doing things poorly, because I'm trying to stay on top of things, even though I should be resting. I did stay home from work on Tuesday. I slept for a good chunk of the day. That felt good. Now I want to get back into a healthy routine for the rest of the winter and spring! Can I do it? We'll see.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Year...New Orleans

I'm back at work after a long Christmas break. It was nice, but I was barely at home. I spent the first half of my break at my parent's house in Northern Minnesota. It's a beautiful retreat-type setting.

Then, I traveled to the Celebrate! event in New Orleans. Every year, Lutheran Student Movement has a gathering over Christmas break. Every four years the event goes ecumenical, so this year there were Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, UCC, and Disciples of Christ in addition to the Lutherans.

My official role was as an exhibitor for Lutherans Concerned/North America. I had a booth with information about sexuality and gender identity. I even recruited some new members of LC/NA! I was the only denominational organization that advocates for fuller inclusion of GLBTQA people in the life of the church, so I became a consultant to many of the other denominations.

I also participated in a good portion of the program. Because we were in New Orleans, we heard a lot of stories about evacuation, displacement and recovery. One jazz musician played a song that he composed to put his father to rest. Because of the difficulty with flooding and identifying the bodies, no one had a proper funeral, so he composed a song to help lay his father to rest.

The most powerful moment was when we took a bus tour of New Orleans. We had been walking around the French Quarter, and we could not tell that there was any damage. However, when you drive around the rest of the city (the ENTIRE rest of the city), you can see a water mark more than halfway up each building. We drove through an upscale neighborhood near a broken levee. Only a few houses were inhabited. Many were gutted. Every building had an X sprayed on the front. On the top quadrant of the X was the date when some group entered the house to search for bodies. At the bottom of the X was the number of bodies found within. Even in this upscale neighborhood, homes and businesses were obliterated.

We drove through the City Park. All the grass was dead and none of the trees had leaves. The soil is so contaminated that nothing can grow there.

Then we finally reached the Lower Ninth Ward, probably the most well-known neighborhood related to Katrina. The bus stopped at one point in the middle of an entire square mile that had NO standing buildings. All we could see was the remnant of streets and the foundations of houses. It was barren. One guide commented on how much better it was, 16 months later.

Even now, we were told that there are still houses that need to be gutted. We were told that you never open a refrigerator, because the food has been in there since August of 2005. It seems surreal at how slow this is all going.

The next day, we were supposed to do work projects. However, the weather turned bad. We had rain and tornado warnings. The streets were flooding from this heavy rain, so I can imagine what a hurricane could do. Only 150 of the 600 participants were able to do a service project. It was very frustrating for many students to see such destruction and not be able to do anything to help.

However, we learned that many of the victims are also very happy to be able to tell their story to a listening ear. We were thanked so much for being present and being willing to listen and help. If nothing else, this trip was an invitation to come back and do more.

It will take New Orleans 10-15 years to fully recover from Katrina (unless another hurricane intercedes). Even though the city has fallen off the front page (along with the rest of the Gulf Coast), it is a place to consider when you want to do a service project. The government has not been much help at all, so the residents are depending on charitable organizations to help.

The other sad fact is that only the richer folks are going to be able to return and rebuild. All the stores that were open were large national chains. Mom & Pop stores are not going to be able to re-open easily. This city could become a playground for the rich. Our help can make sure that there is economic diversity in New Orleans.

I was quite moved and shaken by my visit. I left frustrated. I want to figure out what else we can do. I encourage you all to go and visit and help as much or as little as you can.