Thursday, September 18, 2008

don't trust the living

I re-installed windows, so I was looking for some snazzy picture to replace the pre-installed generic desktop. My last desktop wallpaper (ah, the mixed metaphors of GUI) was the ancient Orthodox Trinity icon, but I was ready for something new. While looking for pictures of Jesus, I came across this:

Now, I think this is actually excellent advice, in addition to being pretty hilarious. I think it's particularly useful to see everyday as I start my Constructive Theology paper. At my seminary, we finish off the MDiv program by writing a big paper that's supposed to lay out much of our theology: a status report of what we actually believe.

My temptation in doing theology is to only trust the living. My ideas are better than the church fathers, and the ideas of liberation theologians are better than, say, the Lateran Council. Or Martin Luther. Or Kant. And, you know, I stand by that, to a certain extent. But if I'm really trying to listen to the voices of the disenfranchised and marginalized in my theological work, then I must also pay particular attention to the dead.
And one way that I can do that is by listening to what the tradition says about God, Christ, Sin/Suffering, and Ministry. (These being four of the required "loci" for the constructive paper.) I think that too often the temptation among liberal theologians is to privilege contemporary lived experience, without trying to understand the ways that written and oral tradition can represent the lived experience of dead believers.
The corollary to this, lest you think I be taking a turn to the Ultramontanist, or that I am suddenly advocating apostolic succession, is that I must also look for the places where dissenters have been erased. I must watch for times when the forces of domination have sought to wipe out their opponents, and this is also rife in the Christian tradition.
Perhaps I don't fully agree with the zombie, but I should at least not just trust the living. The disappeared, the martyred, and the plain old dead must have a say in my theology, if it is to be holy.

Zombies are on their own.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

on donuts

My friend asked me a question a month ago, and I'm still thinking about my response, so I thought I'd post it.

She's from Germany, and we were eating at Dunkin' Donuts (dollar= two donuts after 2pm) and she asked me what the big attraction was of Dunkin' Donuts for Americans. Since, you know, they're not very good.

I thought for a long time, then said, "I think it's that they're good enough to fend off the despair for a little bit, but not good enough to make you believe that things can be better."

I stand by my response.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

fired up tone of voice

So, I may be sometimes-lukewarm in my support of presidential candidates, but I am rarely lukewarm in my support of my friend's mother. Here is an excerpt from an email my friend sent about her.

"Good news: Some guy picked a fight with my mother about Barack Obama when she was tabling at her new part-time local-campaign job. About taxes and the pharmaceutical industry. He was antagonizing her about how corporations are the backbone of America and what, she didn't want pharmaceutical companies to have the money they needed to research new drug therapies because it was all eaten out with taxes? Did she not care about new medical advances? She said, in her "fired up" tone of voice, Well, no, she didn't care, because she was part of that part of America that didn't have health care at all, couldn't even go to the doctor, so, no, she didn't really care at all about what new fancy drugs his pharma company could make, because she and lots of America wouldn't be able to buy that either. He turned around and left. I am super-proud of her."

There you have it.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Thank you, thank you, thank you

Sometimes I think it is so difficult to get my needs met. People need all sorts of things: community, food, shelter, meaningful work. Since I moved back to the United States from Nicaragua almost one year ago (it still seems so recent!), it has been difficult for me to get these ducks all lined up at the same time. It has been easy to be happy about being engaged to David, but also difficult to be happy in general. I have been making my new apartment into a home, developing new friendships with people here, and searching and searching for meaningful work. The months of commuting an hour to different temp jobs have taken a toll.

I cannot truly express how grateful I am for my new job. Today was the first day that parents left their children with my head teacher and me at school. Yesterday was the First Day of School, but today was also a first day. I worked at my Montessori school until 12:30, then biked home to cook lunch for myself and do chores and errands. Then I returned to school for the 3:15 weekly staff meeting where we learned about brain research with regards to learning, went over to friends' house for dinner, talked on the phone with Beth for a long time, and here I am in my lovely apartment where I once again have internet thanks to meeting my Slavic languages-studying neighbor while we did laundry in the basement last weekend. I'm borrowing his wireless network.

I am really happy. I had a great second first day of school today. I just love my new job. I love that it is permanent, that I speak Spanish there, that I fit into the school's culture and values. I love biking 13 minutes to work with a friend, I love cooking lunch at home, I love my growing familiarity with this neighborhood, I love building on the friendships that have been established in the last 10 months.

For the first time since Oberlin, I have good shelter, good community, and meaningful work, all at the same time. It feels so good. I sleep well and wake up singing thank you, thank you, thank you.