Monday, August 28, 2006

a paragraph from emily, why hyde park seems like a good place to live, etc.

from an emily jones email:
"I will never forget my early experiences in this village. A man had died of AIDS, but no one wanted to touch his body, not even his relatives. I went to his house and helped to carry the body...My own parents used to ask me: why are you doing all this? But now they understand. I lifted his body to show that we need to believe in humanity." (Mahipathi Ballal, social worker) (VAMP, 51).

Also: I was walking to seminary one morning, and I passed two boys, who were maybe eleven years old. They were arguing about something. Now, when I was 11, I mostly argued about whether Captain America could beat Batman in a fight. (He could, provided Batman didn't have time to plan. If Batman had time to plan, he could beat anybody.) However, as I approached these kids, it became obvious that they were arguing about what counted as Germanic. ("No, dude, Norse is Swedish!" "Swedish counts as Germanic!") I think I'm going to like living in Hyde Park.

I got to go see Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind last night. Anyone who comes to visit me in Chicago on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, gets a free trip to this show with me. It's thirty plays in sixty minutes, and one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Being able to see it more often was a big part of why I chose Chicago.

Also: My fall courses are going to be: "People of Faith and Israel I" (aka Old Testament), "History of Christian Thought I", "Introduction to Pastoral Care", and "Preaching and Teaching with the Parables." I'm excited. Classes start in about a week.


Sunday, August 27, 2006


It's a hard thing; this having roots in two communities. (Lancaster and Oberlin) And of course, within these two communities, there are many smaller ones. It's interesting to be in Lancaster again...I like it. So that's good, but I'm not so sure where I fit here now, because I haven't been around much the past two years; I'm here now, but I won't be for long! I'm also worried about entering a new community in Guatemala. If I'm having trouble adjusting to having roots in two communities, what will happen when I have a third one?!

I guess I'm confused about how I'm supposed to be fully present where I one place, while also retaining some sort of meaningful connection to the other people and places I care about. Do I have to let things go? If so, which things? I can't just keep going through life adding more communities (to keep in touch with) to the ones I've already spent time with, can I? That would be exhausting! But it feels daunting as well to pick a place to stay for a decade or two or three....Because that would mean choosing. Committing to one place over another, and focusing on life there. Maybe at this point in my life it feels limiting, but later it will feel okay.

This post started as a paragraph in an e-mail to Steve, but then got expanded as I thought about it more. I was reminiscing this morning with a couple of church friends about things that happened at church like 10 or 12 years ago (I can't believe I'm old enough to talk about something that was over 10 years ago!) so I was thinking about how my two homes feel very much like different worlds, even though there are many similarities between them!


Saturday, August 26, 2006

two anecdotes...

Emily, no need to apologize!

Rachael, I'm beginning to understand how you kept picking up babysitting jobs! After a month of babysitting for my two cousins, I've picked up occasional babysitting for their friends that live down the street, and also a short term piano student. My 6 and 9 year old cousins have quite the social network going on. Last night another neighbor family hosted an outdoor movie projected onto a sheet hung on the wall of the house for 15-20 kids and some assorted parents.

Yesterday afternoon I was walking from the parking lot across the street to my house, and I saw two little boys playing on the porch of one of the houses on my block. They had a bouncy ball, and a bucket. One little boy threw the ball, and the other caught it in the bucket. They were having fun. I love it when kids are resourceful!

Blog misuse.

Blogs, David says, are good for short and interesting anecdotes.

Instead, my blog is an apology and an announcement.

I'm sorry I'm a bad blogger.

But I've sent you (you the people on this blog, not you the people in the world who may be reading this blog but aren't David, Rachael and Beth) mail! By slow international post, because of not having internet where I live. (If you, other people who read this blog, want a postcard on theology and the left and my personal angst, send me your address and I'll try to oblige.)

Happy work and school and rest!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

CTS Orientation

The pre-orientation retreat for Chicago Theological Seminary consists of all the first-year students describing their faith journeys.

It is the best thing ever.

Also, from an email from Emily:

"Yesterday, some kids tried to sell me Femina (like Vanity Fair plus People in India), then Maxim, then Good Housekeeping, then a Business and Economics journal. I didn't buy any. I'm pretty sure they couldn't speak English (all the magazines were in English) and I sort of doubt if they were able to read (given the general literacy of kids who have to do street selling/begging). I found the combination of the things they were selling me and the dynamics of me the potential buyer them the potential seller and the alienated text really... interesting."

Monday, August 21, 2006

American Bible Society

So, I went to my friend Ruth's house last night and watched the movie Chocolat. It was great.

She showed me a letter she had gotten from the American Bible Society. They sent her a letter and a very badly produced full size cloth American flag! The letter, along with the flag, was supposed to prompt her to donate money to the ABS to buy New Testaments for US Soldiers in Iraq.

I read the letter and started hitting myself in the was so awful. It wasn't just straight propaganda (i.e.-it's patriotic and Christian to support our country, our troops and our role in the war) but schmultzy and melodramatic propaganda. Imagine; fundraising appeal + altar call + soap opera.

Is there any way to get churches to stop buying into empire?!!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Imago Dei

Steve Hammond just announced a lovely redesign of the Peace Community Church website. My favorite part are the great photos there, and seeing them inspired me to post some of my own PCC shots from the past couple years.

Also, I am a) really excited to be hooked up to high speed internet
and b) drunk with power over discovering that my picture editting software interfaces with my blogging site via one button. Google: completely able to take over the world whenever they feel like it.

Anyway, here's the photos. I promise that's the last for today.


hilarious signage

Near our hotel, my mom and I saw a carwash. The sign had the message:

"Horses dislike the French."

Also, I saw this at Peace Camp:

summer photos from David

In no particular order:

Rachael at Craters of the Moon National Park. This was where the volcanic activity that is now under Yellowstone last erupted.

Me and Pancake McPancake (my sock puppet friend) at Yellowstone. My new Facebook photo, naturally. (Photo by Rachael E. Wylie.)

Rachael and her sister Sarah photograph a meadow simultaneously.

There were many pro's and con's of traveling Yellowstone in an RV. It was only kind of like being camping, but I got to see these guys!

Caleb, Steve, and Mary watch Carrie come down the aisle. So sweet!

Rachael and Beauty Pool, a hot spring at Yellowstone. (Rachael is the one on the left.)

I know, this looks like I've been playing with the color filters again. Yes, this is a shot of some guy in the Detroit Airport, but it's completely uneditted! The Detroit Airport has the coolest basement hallway ever! The changing lights and colors were accompanied by changing sounds. It was like being inside a Timara project, except that people were walking around with luggage. Scratch that, it was exactly like being in a Timara project. (TIMARA- Oberlin program: Technology In Music And Related Arts.)

I didn't find any coffee shops open past eight in Warren, but I did find this cool building.

(published using the free high speed internet in the hotel that my mom and I stopped at on the way to Chicago.)

Friday, August 18, 2006

farewell to an old friend

In the spring of my senior year of high school, I got an internship with a social services agency in Fredonia, which was about a half hour drive from my high school. It was a great gig, and I could get course credit for it, but in order to get there I needed a car.
So, my dad and I went to some dealers, (we didn't know anything about cars, but we looked under the hood and kicked the tires anyway) and wound up with a shiny green '99 neon. I immediately named him Rocinante, after John Steinbeck's pick-up in Travels with Charley, and Don Quixote's horse. Rocinante and I soon became fast friends. I decided that since I knew nothing about automobiles, I would shower him with love and affection in return for his continued operation. This worked suprisingly well, as when various problems arose and then promptly fixed themselves.
We had many fine adventures: spending a cold, cold, icy January driving around Buffalo, going on the best road trip ever with Digger, ferrying around various significant others, ferrying around my dog, going to and from Oberlin loaded with my worldy possessions, and much more. Recently, we carried some wood from the Oberlin College Arb to my friend Mooch's house, where it was to be lashed into a table. We drove to protests and job interviews and dates and retreats. Through five years of my life, Rocinante was my stalwart companion. His beautiful rear-end slowly became decorated with a half dozen bumper stickers, from "Priestly People Come in Both Sexes" to "Field of Dreams- Dyersville Iowa".

One of the reasons I chose Chicago for grad school is that it meant I wouldn't need a car. I don't really like having a car, as it is a lot of cost and hassle, and is bad for the environment.
However, I do like Rocinante. And today I peeled off all the bumpers stickers, and took the books and gear and recyclables out of his trunk. I suppose it was a fitting ceremony of leaving behind part of my life to begin this new journey.
But I'll miss him.


PS- Anybody want to buy a neon?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

august thoughts are a couple of comments all rolled up into one post.

I now have exactly two months until I begin orientation with Mennonite Central Committee (October 17). The orientation will take place pretty close to my home (about 25 minutes away) and will last about 2 weeks. I'll leave for Guatemala right after that, so end of October/beginning of November.

It was lovely for Rachael to visit Lancaster after the wedding that we attended in Oberlin. I drove her to the airport in Philly yesterday, and would like to share a scene from my trip back to Lancaster that relates to Emily's Globalization post. So, as I was nearing Lancaster, I noticed some protesters along the side of the road (picture a two lane highway with lots of restaurants and stores along the way) They were holding signs, and had flags wrapped around, and a couple were wearing masks or other satirical outfits. Typical left-wing protest. There were other people just lined up on the sides of the road. Then I remembered that President Bush was speaking at a hotel right around that area, in the afternoon to drum up support for the PA Republican gubernatorial candidate.

I drive another minute or so, and get to the "Bookworm Frolic" (a big outdoor book sale) at the Mennonite Historical Society. So, I decide to stop, look at some books, and see what the scene is like in preparation for Bush's arrival. There are police cars lined up, and I find out that Bush is landing in a helicopter on a field owned by the local Mennonite High School. (Apparently, people at my parent's workplace called the principal of the school to express their outrage that he allowed Bush to land there!) Anyway, so he was supposed to be driving right by the book sale to get down the road to the hotel. There was a strange mix of people looking for books, people lined up on the sides of the road to see the president, people waiting to see the president, but looking at books because they were bored, and protesters! Among the people lined up waiting to see the president was an Amish family, drinking Starbucks iced drinks.

An interesting scene. I'm not sure that it actually comments on globalization, but there's an interesting juxtaposition of lifestyle choices present in the group of Amish people involving themselves in politics enough to want to see the president, and involving themselves in the capitalist society enough that buying drinks from Starbucks is okay, even while retaining very specific ways of dressing and living simply.

Plus, it makes me mad that the president can fly in and out of places, while only having to be on an actual road for 3 minutes. Can you imagine what an inaccurate picture of the country you would get? Coming to a city like Lancaster, from what I know of his trip, he only saw some fields, a bunch of generic restaurants, some protesters and admirers, the book sale and the hotel. But would he ever go through normal residential neighborhoods of any kind? It seems unlikely.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


So, it turns out I won't be living at the Catholic Worker House in Chicago. They let me know yesterday that they will not, in fact, have room for me. This is a bummer, as they were pretty sure that I would be able to live there, and have told me so since the beginning of July.

A couple days ago I read a book called "what to expect in seminary: theological education and spiritual formation", by virginia cetuk. One of the author's most cogent points, in my mind, was her encouragement of an attitude of hospitality. She proposed that seminarians would do well to confront unexpected hurdles, unfamiliar customs, and new ideas with an attitude of hospitality, rather than one of anger or fear.
I thought it was a good idea. Now I am challenged by it. The turn-around from "that's a good idea" to "this idea is a pain in the ass" was remarkably quick this time. I'm struggling to find a way to be hospitable to this change. Maybe it means that God wants me to live somewhere else, and I am scouring Craig's List for signs of providence. I'm sure I'll live someplace, and it might even be someplace cool, and there are certainly advantages to not living at Su Casa. Namely, I'll be able to be a little more flexible with my time, etc. Still, it's a bummer. I'm just trying to be hospitable towards it.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Globalization is funny...

Last weekend, I went to a protest in re: to the civilian death toll in the Israel-Lebanon conflict, Israel's disproportionate use of force, etc.

And it was strangely familiar. There were people in Bush/Blair/etc. masks carrying a fake coffin. People lying on the streets in symbolic protest. Little kids with homemade "Peace" signs. Talk of turn out. Attempts to read poetry as though people could hear all standing on a street corner in Delhi.

Living amid constant evidence of globalization (coca-cola water and lay's potato chips and shakira played constantly on the radio), it was funny to realize how globalized the small-peace-protest is, as well.


P.S. Beth, when do you leave the country?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

arguing with Al and feeding 5000

I just read and responded to an interesting post by Al Caroll at the PCC blog (!). In theory, it's accessible via this link:

However, I was only able to get to it by going to:, clicking on the "sermons and other interesting stuff" link, and going from there.

The conversation reminded me of something I've been meaning to post here, which came up in church two weeks ago.

So, we were talking and hearing about Jesus feeding the multitude. You know the story: some folks were gathered to listen to Jesus, and Jesus' friends were worried that there wouldn't be enough food to go around. Phillip goes so far as to say, "Jesus, even SIX MONTHS WAGES would not be enough to buy food for all of these people."

It's interesting, because that week, as I was lamenting the overall state of the world, I was thinking about how, you know, even if you work your whole life for justice, and get up every day thinking about "How can I best dismantle empire today?", there's only so much you can do. It's like: "Jesus, even MY WHOLE LIFE'S WORK would not be enough to build the beloved community on earth."

Fortunately, Jesus takes our loaves and fishes. That is, Jesus takes a long, hard look at the stuff we happened to end up with, the skills and passions and habbits and experiences we have. And He sets to work, and before you know it...

I'll close with my favorite line of "The Bible is Totally Literally True", this one composed by lyrical genius Baraka Noel.

"Jesus fed five thousand/ with just some loaves and fishes/ I guess that as a caterer/ He'd be totally vicious."



Friday, August 04, 2006

A few stories...

Just a few quick stories... I'm sorry that I'm such a slow and rare post-er...

The first is about kindness.
Background: I was sick this week.
Having been up for much of the night with a fever and some pretty gross projectile vomiting stuff, a consequence of food poisoning, I think -- having tried to go to work, but turning around after being there only two hours -- I came "home" to my PG (essentially boardinghouse) to lie on the bed in the hall in front of the air cooler and listen to headphones and try to will my fever down while my body was cursing me for this whole Delhi scheme. I was lying there for a little while in half-sleeping self-pity when the woman who cleans the floors and does the dishes (and does lots of other things that I don't see about or know of) put her hand on my head and looked at my with concern. And tried "doctor". To which I responded overly extensively in English (I don't speak Hindi, she speaks only a little English from what I can tell) that I was fine, I'd taken medicine, I didn't want to go to the Doctor, blahblahblah. And she picked up my things and pulled me and my stuff into my room. And cleared my bed of the stuff on it, and lay me down. And tried to find a blanket or heavy shawl to cover me (I don't have one) -- and, failing that effort, piled my laundry on top of me. And she squeezed my arms and legs and rubbed the sides of my head and, having tucked me in, turned out the light and waved and said "Good night."

The second is about David.
Who was present to me (or through whom I felt a presence) a week and a half ago in the form of a monkey who stole the cheese off the table next to mine while we were eating dinner/lunch in Dharamsala (where the Dalai Lama lives, sometimes). That was impressive.

The third is about/for/responding to Rachael. See her post and comments.

Also, just as an aside, for me light has always been a primary experience of God. Since I was young. It was even what I wrote my college application essay about. But now that I'm here, where sun has a whole different meaning, breeze has a whole new meaning and maybe wind is taking the place of sunlight for me for this time. That is unexpected.

Thursday, August 03, 2006