Thursday, October 28, 2004
Apocalypse now
Jeff IM's me today to ask if anything in my biblical studies prepares me for the impending apocalypse of the Red Sox winning the World Serious. I reply that I'm wearing a sandwich placard around campus today: "Repent! The end is near!"

Got back from softball tonight just in time for the fifth inning. 3-0 Sox. Renteria had just doubled. At the commercial I went back to my room to take a quick shower then headed back to the lounge in my dorm to watch the remainder of the game.

Just after the seventh-inning stretch a group of girls comes in to watch Jesus Christ Superstar on our projection TV. The dude who had organized this little shindig rightly discerned that there were those of us in the room that would have beat his ass to 1986 had he kicked us out of the last two innings of the Red Sox winning the Serious so he and the lady friends could watch Jesus the Freakin' Hippy Superstar.

I would also like to think that my wily wit and charm convinced the ladies to stay and watch history. They did with no complaints.

Bottom of the ninth. Three outs to go. I get up and go all Jonathan Edwards with a turn-or-burn sermon, get right with God now. Altar call and all. 37 people got saved.

Watching the Red Sox celebrate their first World Series in 86 years? Priceless.

John calls me after the game just to make sure I didn't get raptured.

So Jesus Christ Superstar was a trip, but that's the point, I gather. I'm thinking maybe we can discuss the Christology of Andrew Lloyd Webber in Church History tomorrow. Then again, maybe not.

It's a bit hard to top, though, when one's frame of reference is the "Jeeper Creepers" sketch from Mr. Show starring Jack Black as Jesus and David Cross as Judas.

Bonus points in my book for nearly making it Judas Iscariot Superstar with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. Personally, I think Judas has gotten a pretty bum rap throughout history, and I'm reminded of the fantastic writings of Shusaku Endo on the subject. Of the twelve disciples, he's by far the most fascinating character to me.

Dr. Joel Green guest spoke today in Kingdom, Church and World. I got more out of that one lecture than in that entire class so far. Green is the Dean of Theology here at the seminary and a renowned NT scholar. For crying out loud, can he teach the class every week?

At one point, he's discussing a time he was teaching at a Baptist seminary in California. Apparently, a student or somebody had heard a Call from the Lord in the shower. Hadn't told their family. Hadn't told their congregation. They'd just heard their word from the Lord, and Dr. Green just couldn't get that.

Call comes from community. The biblical example of Paul shows someone who was chosen and sent out by his fellow believers, not because he came to them with some great burden or vision and was there to drum up financial support. The Call was given to the community for Paul.

It is a prescient topic for me as this subject of calling is a focal point in my Vocation of Ministry class. And, the burning question coursing through my cerebrum that I didn't have the opportunity to ask was this:

If calling is truly communal, then how much more should I be interested in, paying attention to and investing in your Call than my own?

Lightning has just struck my brain.

Have no fear. It doesn't hurt.

posted by Peter at 2:15 AM
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Real life blogger
From the Christianity Today interview with Gordon Atkinson, author of
The lesson I have learned—and I feel it in my heart—is that many people stand outside the church, and we don't communicate very well with them. Maybe fault lies on both sides, but I feel grief at our inability to talk with people of this world.

And in the category of Any-Blogger-Who-Tells-You-Different-Is-A-Liar:
I think that I wanted to say some things and wasn't brave enough to say them myself. So I invented a character and set him down in a place where anyone can say anything. Then I turned him loose. In some ways, Real Live Preacher is the truest I've been to myself. In other ways, he is the person I wish I were brave enough to be in real life. In other ways, he is what I hope to be when I grow up.

posted by Peter at 2:09 AM
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Wednesday, October 27, 2004
What dreams may come
Was feeling pretty crummy after class today. Ever since that El Chico's on Sunday night my stomach has just not been the same. Not even after salad for dinner last night and nothing but salad for lunch today.

So, I thought I'd skip dinner, lay down for a bit before heading out to VBCC for the night. That would give me about an hour. I set my alarm. Yes, I woke up. No, I didn't feel any better. Plus, I was in groggy-still-asleep mode. Thus I rolled back over.

Next thing I know, this piercing wail violently rips, tears me from my needed slumber. It's 8:03 pm. I fumble over the buttons on the alarm clock. It won't go off. I work over all of the buttons. It won't go away. And why is it so loud and obnoxiously shrill? Now, I'm sitting up in bed, forcefully pounding on the alarm clock in the dark to no avail. I reach behind my bed and yank all the plugs from the wall. Nothing. Then it hits me.

Fire drill.

I grope in the dark for a pair of shoes. Wander groggily down the hall, wiping the drool from my face, fall down the stairs, out the door to find the rest of the dorm standing on the library portico. I'm the last one out. RA's #1 and #2 are giving me looks that say, "You're dead." Minute-45. That's how long I jousted with the alarm. RA's are disappointed and pissed. They later stopped by to apologize, as since my room is off the far stairwell, rather than in the hallway like everybody else, they forgot to come check my room.

Ah, dorm life. Ain't it grand?

posted by Peter at 1:19 AM
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Tuesday, October 26, 2004
The least of these
The first thing I noticed upon entering the Catholic Action Center was the stench. The rank odor of human urine envelopes me, billowing, rolling like a swelling wave, building, cresting and finally crashing over my head.

If I filmed this, imagine the scene in Jaws when police chief Martin Brody is on the beach and realizes the shark for the first time. The camera swiftly zooms in as the background seems to be falling straight at the frame in the old Hitchcock trick. It's that dizzying, vertigo moment of epiphany.

I do not want to be here. It's early. Okay 10 a.m., but after 4 hours of sleep, I'm not awake yet. The tex/mex food I had for dinner last night is still sloshing through my insides. I'm feeling crummy. Worse than that. And here I am, suburban whiteboy Christian tourist, here to save the day and help the poor. What right do I have to be here? What can I say to these people? What possible difference can I make? I do not want to be here.

God, am I really cut out for any kind of social work? What a bullshit question. I've become such a soft Christian over the past five years. There was a time I would have invited this, sought it out. I wouldn't have needed it to be required by a Vocation of Ministry seminary class. I have seen the destitute barrios of Tijuana. I have seen the barren adobe communities of N'Djamena. I have seen and tasted the poor. I would not trade it for anything.

The Spirit of YHWH, the Master, is on me
because YHWH anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
pardon all prisoners.
YHWH sent me to announce the year of his grace--
a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies--
and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
a praising heart instead of a languid spirit (Isaiah 61, The Message).

I saw Jesus this morning. Whether I was paying attention or not. Whether I wanted to be there or not. And it doesn't matter the last time he bathed. And it doesn't matter the highest education he had. Hope and redemption are the only language I need.

In Vocation of Ministry, our small groups are required 4 hours of community service, so we--Bethann, Gil, Rick, Sergey and myself--chose the CAC, expecting something of a soup kitchen. Theresa, the CAC volunteer, leads us out of the room that smells like someone peed in it, outside and then back inside another part of the building and up the stairs. We can help by sorting and folding clothes, she says. She opens a door and plastic bags of fashion donations nearly come rolling out. What a load of junk. This is our community service. Our "ministry."

After clearing some space to even walk in the room, we then spent the next three hours seperating the men's clothes from the children's and women's. Apparently, 99% of the shelter's "business" is to men, seeking clothes, showers, food, etc. Folding shirts. I'm working at Old Navy all over again. Only the musty smell, I swear, was visible.

The highlight definitely came as we stumbled across a handful of pink shirts. Are these men's or women's? Sergey has no issue with a pink men's shirt. I myself would never wear one and would probably mock a friend who did. Understand Sergey is from Russia. According to him, a guy wearing a pink shirt is not gay. However, to wear one of these Hawaiian shirts over here, that will get you called, how you say... "playful." I gotta use that sometime.

For lunch we expected to somehow assist with the shelter's meal. Not so. They told us to get our own damn lunch. Okay, maybe not in those terms exactly, but it was clear we weren't needed for the afternoon meal. Gil, being a Lexingtonian, then guided us (despite much weeping and gnashing of teeth at one-way streets) to Charlie's Diner--a hole-in-the-wall joint so hole-in-the-wall we missed it the first time. After handling used clothes from god-knows-where for the past three hours, washing my hands sounds like a dandy idea. But the bathroom is back outside, around the back and in another building. Now I really feel like I'm on a mission trip. I hear a voice coming from inside the diner: "Dey ain't frum round here. Dey gotta warsh dey hans."

No, sir. I am sad to say I am not from Kentucky.

It was a good burger, though. And free of musty, used clothes taste, I might add.

Intramural basketball was tonight. Six points. My first game without a dunk. I'll try not to blame the section that cheered my every move--Nintendo, Big Ben and The Nett. We lost by ten.

And who knew Wesley was a Sox fan?

Don't ask who's responsible. I just take the pictures.

posted by Peter at 1:31 AM
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Pedro Power
Like I needed a reason to follow professional soccer.

Meet the officially endorsed soccer player of the oligopistos* blog:

Pedro Power.

I'm looking into what it takes to change the name on my birth certificate.


posted by Peter at 1:27 AM
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The Body incarnate
I figure Timmeh is pretty down still about his precious Yankees being shamed like the little boys that they are. So, I thought I'd give him some props.

Plus this article about four churches in Tim's neck of the woods all living under the same roof is pretty stinking cool:
Inside the walls of a former Roman Catholic monastery for cloistered nuns are the offices of Hope, a church in the Southern Baptist tradition; Mission of Grace, an Anglican congregation; Hampton Roads Community Church, which has roots in the Plymouth Brethen; and New Life, a Spanish-speaking congregation.

"We are probably rewriting church history in a way," Tombley said of LivingStone, an evangelical monastery that's home to seven workers who provide food and other support for ministries throughout the week (Wamble, Daily Press).

posted by Peter at 1:20 AM
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Monday, October 25, 2004
People days
If there's a theme for the weekend, it's people.

Woke up Friday at ten-till-ten for a counseling session I could have sworn was at 9. So that was shot. I grabbed the laptop and headed outside to get in a couple hours of editing work done, but it was too cold on the stoop.

At noon, I met Alan for lunch. And after the gluttonous feast of the night before, where should we go? Best Buffet. But with a name like that, how can one refuse? It was a good time of General Tsao's chicken and conversation of life and church and all the joy and messiness therein.

Got back to campus at 1:30 and on my phone there's a message: "It's quarter after one. You were supposed to be here for counseling at 1." How could I miss it twice in one day? Thankfully she wasn't busy and I really didn't miss it at all. So that was good.

So I get back again at 3. I sit down to get started on work again. John comes in the door: "Wanna go get some coffee?" "Uh, I just sat down to work. So... aw, hell, sure." But the coffee shop in Wilmore closes at 3 on Friday, so we settled for an Ale81 at Subway. It's the local trendy beverage that's more hype than flavor. Anyway, we got caught up on all the stuff you can't talk about when you see each other everyday in class.

I did get an hour of work done before dinner. And another hour after dinner. Then I provided backup yet again for security as She made the weekly rounds locking up campus. I brought the laptop with me and that way afterwards we kept each other company during such a Friday night on the clock in what I will now forever refer to as the Scooby Doo room because of the freaky paintings on the walls.

I then spent the rest of the evening editing yet more Greek tags while watching Letterman with Maryann, Holly and Jack. And Holly and Jack for some reason together make me think of that last track on the White Stripes' Elephant album. And that kind of makes me chuckle.

Today after lunch with John and Grace, I visited St. Patty's with Audrey and Holly. This place I could go back to. It felt very... family. Today they celebrated a baby baptism (or "dedication" depending upon your semantics). Holly kept swatting my arm, "Isn't that the cutest baby you've ever seen?" "Yeah Holly. It's cute. That's what babies do." But really. This one was exceptional. She was the center of attention. And she loved it. Sitting there in mamma's arms waving her arms like she's about to take off across the room. I just knew she was going to freak out and lose it once she hit that basin of water, but no. It was like this was old hat. It was fun to watch.

And lastly, you should read the All-Baseball chat transcript of Saturday's Game 1 of the World Series, of which I volunteered for the Sisyphean task of editing. I botched it, running out of time for a timely post before Game 2, thanks to sleeping through my alarm... again. Ken deserves all the credit for its final form there.

Coming this week:
IBS segment survey of Matthew 13 due Tuesday
Book review due Wednesday (I read the entirety of the book Saturday)
Take home, 3-essay question, 6-8-page total mid-term due Wednesday
IBS reading assignment with 2-3 page reflection due Thursday.

I swear, this never stops.

posted by Peter at 3:20 AM
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Simplify, simplify, simplify
From The Story of Christianity: Vol. 1 by Justo Gonzalez in the chapter entitled "Constantine":
Until Constantine's time, Christian worship had been relatively simple. At first, Christians gathered to worship in private homes. Then they began to gather in cemeteries, such as the Roman catacombs. By the third century there were structures set aside for worship. The oldest church that archaeologists have discovered is that of Dura-Europos, which dates from about A.D. 250. This is a fairly small room, decorated with very simple murals.

After Constantine's conversion, Christian worship began to be influenced by imperial protocol. Incense, which was used as a sign of respect for the emperor, began appearing in Christian churches. Officiating ministers, who until then had worn everyday clothes, began dressing in more luxurious garments. Likewise, a number of gestures indicating respect, which were normally made before the emperor, now became part of Christian worship. The custom was also introduced of beginning services with a processional. Choirs were developed, partly in order to give body to that procession. Eventually, the congregation came to have a less active role in worship.

I have been to churches that boast of being "New Testament" churches. It makes me cringe to hear it because they don't look anything like what is described above. There seems to be thinking that the progression goes something like Jesus, the book of Acts, our church. Somehow 2000 years of history and heritage is invalid because it's not in the Bible.

And yet, is it idealistic naivity to think that the Church can restore this simplicity of public worship it experienced prior to the Edict of Milan in 313? Can the congregation be once again given the active role?

posted by Peter at 3:07 AM
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I wish there was more time.

I wish there was more time for calling and emailing the people I love.

I wish there was more time for prying and challenging conversations.

I wish there was more time for healthy sleep.

I wish there was more time for treating this seminary homework as soul-growing riddles than soul-sucking busy work.

I wish there was more time for asking questions.

I wish there was more time for being quiet.

I wish there was more time for praying.

I wish there was more time for smiling ridiculously.

I wish there was more time for crafting articulate thoughts and spinning them into coherent blog entries.

I wish there was more time for listening.

I wish there was more time.

posted by Peter at 2:56 AM
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Friday, October 22, 2004
Today at lunch was a rice and beans solidarity meal to support International Justice Mission and Latino Pastoral Action Center. The idea was to identify with the millions around the world who eat little more than that.

Um, I had a heaping plateful.

It's now a little past 2 am, and Guys Night Out just back from Dennys. I had the Country Scramble. That's a couple of scrambled eggs smothered in gravy, hasbrowns, sausage, bacon and three gargantuan pancakes.

Yeah, I think I'm going to be sick.

I've also got a swelling bruise and coordinating raspberry covering a good chunk of my lower leg just below by right knee. See, I was playing third last night in softball. The field is still a bit damp. A grounder went skittling down the line, and I couldn't resist diving after it. My knee must have taken all my weight as I went down. But I was covered in dirt and mud for the remainder of the game, and that more than made up for the pathetic 0-for-4 night at the plate.

We won, too, despite my best efforts with the bat.

posted by Peter at 2:33 AM
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Thursday, October 21, 2004
The questions
O Lord, the house of my soul is narrow; enlarge it that thou mayest enter in. It is ruinous, O repair it! It displeases thy sight; I confess it, I know. But who shall cleanse it, or to whom shall I cry but unto thee? Cleanse me from my secret faults, O Lord, and spare thy servant from strange sins. --St. Augustine

Funny how the words of a North African Bishop from the fifth century wind up sounding like they were written by John Donne. Still a moving prayer.

I have two essential questions that tower before me during this seminary season:

1) Do I pursue a degree and future life in academia or in vocational ministry?

The answer to this question then determines my continuing course of study. Presently I'm straddling the Master of Arts in Biblical Studies (the academic route) and the Master of Divinity (the vocational ministry route). Of course, if the rumor is true that most Ph.D programs require the M.Div. (and that doesn't quite make sense to me just yet) than this dilemma solves itself.

2) If it is vocational ministry, do I pursue ordination in the Methodist church? Do I engage in the contemporary institution and work to renew it or do I reject it all together?

Something tells me that if I choose the former, I better be pretty damn sure that's where I'm called to be, as that won't exactly be like tending roses. To choose the later is to wander into the vast unknown.

So there's no pressure in deciding my future here or anything.

I've visited United Methodist churches the past two weeks, and truly I cannot see myself being happy in that structure.

Can I see myself as a professor? Yes, I can. A pastor? Well, umm... As a "servant to the servants of God," as Gregory the Great puts it? Yes, I can. But I think it would have to be in, not necessarily a non-denominational setting, but certainly a non-traditional one.

Wednesdays are brutal. Matters are not helped on 3-hours sleep. Stupid. Kingdom, Church and World is a 3-hour class in the afternoon. Don't ask what I'm learning, because in seven weeks now, it's still every bit as vague as the name sounds.

But today we had a visitor--Keith Wasserman, the Executive Director of Good Works. Can I picture myself being involved with that? Yeah, I think can, too.

As if I needed more options.

posted by Peter at 1:43 AM
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Wednesday, October 20, 2004
An exercise in humility
Has it been a good couple of days?

Well, you're reading the dude who set the curve for last week's church history test. Yes, that Collins church history test known the campus over by its reputation and spoken of in hushed tones, if mentioned at all. "Don't even study for it. You'll make the same grade."

40/50 + 5-point curve = the only "A" in the class

[we now return you to your regularly scheduled pearls of humility.]

Ahem. Where was I? Ah, a good couple of days...

There was the unexpected $500 check in the mail yesterday from old friends. And who just told them that a tuition payment is due Friday?

And the Sox just became the first team in playoff history to overcome a 3 games to none deficit, win 3 in a row and force a Game 7. First. Time. Ever. Read that and weep, Timbo. Man, I hate that A-Rod guy. And my online New Yorker pals did indeed confirm to me that the fans were chanting "Bull-shit!" as they hurled projectiles onto the field after A-Rod was called out for his little stunt. Classy bunch those cityfolk are.

Forgot to mention it earlier but I started therapy last Friday. I say "therapy" because it sounds so much more dramatic than "counseling" for "divorce recovery." Almost makes me feel like I'm a character in a Woody Allen flick.

"I thought of that old joke, y'know, the, this, this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, "Doc, uh, my brother's crazy. He thinks he's a chicken." And, uh, the doctor says, "Well, why don't you turn him in?" And the guy says, "I would, but I need the eggs." Well, I guess that's pretty much how I feel about relationships. Y'know, they're totally irrational and crazy and absurd and, but, uh, I guess we keep going through it because, uh, most of us need the eggs."

Went well. Low-key, casual, get-to-know you stuff. Got to read about the five stages of grief. This looks promising. Especially as its with a professional and not some laity crackpot who took a weekend seminar.

Oh, and the seminary is paying for it.

For all the grief my Matthew inductive Bible study class is giving me, I'm getting some real gems out of it. The principles I know, it's the particulars that are jumping out to me here. Consider:

Beginnings and endings are important.
Matthew begins ringing the note that God is among us: "...they will call him Immanuel"--which means, 'God with us'" (1:22).

The author brings the theme full circle when he closes his book with the words "surely I am with you..." (28:20).

And that's the end. No description of the setting. No mention that Jesus then rockets into the sky a la Neo at the conclusion of the first Matrix. No explicit narration than the mention of a mountain and that some disciples believe and some doubt. "Surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Jesus doesn't go anywhere. El Fin. The implication here being that Christ is still among us.

We begin with the origin of the God-with-us child and end with the picture of the Christ still with us.

There's a punchline in repetition.
Take 4:23--Jesus went through Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.

And then flip over in the pew Bibles to 9:35--Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.

Preaching. Teaching. Healing. In almost the identical language. These verses represent brackets in the large structure in the narrative of Matthew. In between them, we see the author highlighting each of these activities of Jesus. There's the Sermon on the Mount in chapters 5-7. Chapters 8 and 9 then chronicle 10 different divine acts and healings. This first segment of Matthew between these two similar verses spotlight the ministry of Jesus. Beginning in chapter 10, we see Jesus sending out the 12, involving his disciples in the ministry of preaching, teaching and healing.

There's a punchline in the details.
Observe the geneology that begins the book. Specifically, observe the deviations from the genealogic formula "_____ the father of _____."

The phrase "and his brothers" comes up twice. The first time in reference to Judah, the patriarch. The second to Jeconiah, the final king of the monarchy before the exile to Babylon. While the individuals, specifically Abraham and David, legitimize the Messianic identity of Jesus, the relationship of Jesus to the entire nation of Israel is paramount to the author's Jewish audience.

In mentioning the brothers of Judah, the author connects Jesus not only to the single patriarch, but to the whole family of Israel. There's a problem with the "brothers" of Jeconiah. According the Old Testament geneaologies in 2 Chronicles, King Jeconiah has but a single male sibling. "Brothers" here has to refer to countrymen. Again, Jesus is connected not just to a single individual but to the nation as a whole. His identity is confirmed not just in an individual sense, but also in a communal one.

Observe also "Perez and Zerah" (1:3). Nowhere else are two brothers mentioned together by name. This is a reference to Genesis 38:28-30. Two twins. At birth, one sticks out his arm and has a scarlet thread tied to it before drawing it back in. He is the firstborn, but not the firstborn.

And just what if this is a picture of the nation of Israel: A nation believing it to be the firstborn of God's blessing, but now no longer in light of Christ's work and the Church? A nation confused in its identity before God? A nation claiming rights to itself that are not hers?

Much to think about.

Couple of new sites one should check out.

First of all, I was invited to join a xanga blogring called "Poets/Prophets/Preachers." I would have preferred something along the lines of "Scalliwags/Scruffy-Looking-Nerfherders". Same difference, right? But hey, I didn't get to name the thing.

Secondly, there's Church Marketing Sucks. Don't give me those dirty looks, Mom. Read the subtitle:
The blog to frustrate, educate and motivate the church to communicate, with uncompromising clarity, the truth of Jesus Christ.

Includes an interview with Brian McLaren. I look forward to exploring this one some more.

I'm just folding some laundry. And it hits me: I'm folding the socks in the exact manner in which the Lovely Ex brainwashed me. Lay the socks flat against each other. Fold them in half. Turn the outer one inside out over the other. Then you've got a flat pair of socks for efficient storage.

I try to bring myself to do it the old way I used to fold socks before I met her. I can't do it. This pisses me off.

You know, if the old adage is true that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, then I'm a helluva lot stronger than I ever wanted to be.

posted by Peter at 2:10 AM
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Tuesday, October 19, 2004
"Where no islands should go"
I visited yet another Lexington UM church. I actually got there early. Me and Mapquest have this love/hate relationship. I always--ALWAYS--miss the final turn while on my way to a new church and wind up around 15 minutes late. Not this Sunday, though.

There it was. Explicitly on the right hand side of the road. Just past two sizable churches with buildings nearly the same size. That's kinda weird.

Being early, I found myself a seat in an empty pew in the tenth row.

Driving on the way there, I had been blasting Death Cab for Cutie's "Transatlanticism" from the car speakers.
he atlantic was born today and i'll tell you how...
The clouds above opened up and let it out.
I was standing on the surface of a perforated sphere
When the water filled every hole.
And thousands upon thousands made an ocean,
Making islands where no island should go.
Oh no.

Those people were overjoyed;
they took to their boats.
I thought it less like a lake and more like a moat.
The rhythm of my footsteps crossing flood lands
To your door have been silenced forever more.
The distance is quite simply much too far for me to row
It seems farther than ever before
Oh no.

I need you so much closer

The service starts and I still have the pew all to myself. As I glance around, I'm not the only one. The sanctuary is half full, generously speaking. There are pockets of people scattered all around.

No, they're not even pockets. It's ones and twos even spread apart like electrons from those chemistry models you remember from fifth grade. We're like polarized magnets pushing away from each other. We're not safe without two pews worth of buffer space.

This is Church. This is the Community of Faith.

These are islands in the last place islands should go.

Such sad irony.


She informs me last week that she discovered the blog. Yes, panic, I know. Just exactly again have I written?

In a way, that was relieving. I'd been wondering how and when to bring up that whole, "Oh yeah, and I'm divorced" thing. So that was taken care of on it's own.

In another way, it was terrifying in a kind of buck-naked-in-a-crowd kind of way. All my cards are on the table now regarding interest. She's a smart cookie. This required a walk-n-talk last Monday--a frank discussion to put forth my intentions and expectations. And in the end, I felt satisfied simply to articulate all those thoughts out loud just to myself.

I have no idyllic illusions about relationships, marriage, sex and that whole gamut. Thank God I'm not 19 anymore. I know what relationships cost emotionally, and I presently cannot afford that. I am rather enjoying the comraderie of mixed company and am content to leave it as such.

She seemed appreciative, and said so. Her response when all was said: "So... can we still hang out?"

Sigh of relief.

Of course, now I know she will see this and set me straight if I'm off my rocker.

posted by Peter at 1:44 AM
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Monday, October 18, 2004
Three is the Magic Number
I walk into the dorm lounge.

"Playing tennis? That's two weeks now, bro. I've got my eye on you," says RA.

"That's three," I retort with a wicked smile that says all I need it to.

posted by Peter at 1:48 AM
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Sunday, October 17, 2004
More goodies from Uncle Foster
From the Celebration of Discipline:
Focus upon the kingdom produces the inward reality, and without the inward reality we will degenerate into legalistic trivia. Nothing else can be central. The desire to get out of the rat raace cannot be central, the redistribution of the world's wealth cannot be central, the concern for ecology cannot be central. Seeking first God's kingdom and the righteousness, both personal and social, of that kingdom is the only thing that can be central in the Spiritual Discipline of simplicity (87).

posted by Peter at 2:41 AM
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Best. Video. Ever.

I'm still working on the dance moves.

Just wait till GellieMan discovers that Aicha is really just a manipulative, fickle and moody wench.

Tell me again, she moves how?

posted by Peter at 2:33 AM
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Friday, October 15, 2004
Because it's my blog and I can be as narcissitic as I damn please
20 Years Ago, I:
1. was five years old
2. utterly convinced that I was a Jedi Knight.

15 Years Ago, I:

1. was 10 years old and in the 5th grade
2. first had to wear glasses
3. believed when the orthodontist said "six more months" with the braces
4. owned the world's largest collection of Rickey Henderson baseball cards
5. cried when my academic team was defeated in the final round of the school tournament

10 Years Ago, I:
1. was 15 and in the 10th grade
2. first asked a girl out and she said no. I'd had a crush on a girl named Velvet, yet ironically owned no crushed Velvet.
3. was a youth group junkie, basically living at church for the entire day every Sunday
4. taught myself how to play guitar
5. wrote sappy poetry while staring out the window in sixth hour biology

5 Years Ago, I:
1. was 20 and a junior in college and living at home with the fam'
2. was engaged to the Lovely Ex, who was living some-odd thousand miles away at the time
3. waited tables at the fine dining establishment Finales
4. enrolled in Greek, Hebrew, Spanish and Advanced English grammar all in the same semester
5. volunteered in the children's ministry at church by dressing up as a lion and greeting everybody at the door

3 Years Ago I:
1. was a recent college graduate, employed as a vacuum repairman
2. was happily married
3. slightly depressed as the Mariners historic season had just been ruined by the Yankees in the playoffs
4. exploring a new life in Seattle
5. was looking forward to that new Lord of the Rings movie coming out

1 Year Ago, I:
1. was living in the in-laws' basement, wondering what in the world had gone so wrong
2. had escaped the clutches of the medical transcription business and just found the awesome editing job
3. was interviewed for an article in the Seattle Weekly about my Mariner blog
4. didn't miss a single episode of Carnivale
5. was reading a book a week on the commuter train to and from work

Yesterday, I:
1. took my first test in seminary--church history (everybody gets a 'D' on this test, so I'm told. That sounds about right)
2. played intramural volleyball and we won in three sets, despite being outnumbered 4-6 by the other team.
3. tried to figure out what classes I should take in the spring. found 4 I really, really want to take, but they're all offered only at the same time.
4. had guys night by grabbing some burgers and frostys from the drive-thru at Wendys, then eating in the parking lot of Wal-Mart and watched some crazies guide shopping carts through the lot and into the stalls in the pouring rain with their car
5. woke up at 9 am just in time for my 9 am pinaner lesson

Today, I:
1. woke up at 8:53 am just in time for my 9 am counseling session
2. hope to finish proofreading The Christian Synagogue
3. listened to Amore del Tropico because its just a Black Heart Procession kind of day outside
4. have the evening entertainment options of the campus fall carnival, red sox/yankees Game 3 and visiting with Her while she answers that deluge of phone calls that come in on a Friday night
5. had a burrito for lunch. consesus at the lunch table was that the meat contained therein looked suspiciously like the salsbury steak we had for dinner last night

Tomorrow, I:

1. just might finally get the car cd player fixed at Best Buy
2. should really get caught up on my reading for Vocation of Ministry that I missed this week
3. would like to check out a $1 movie
4. will figure out where I'm going to church on Sunday
5. perhaps finally organize the chaos I've made of this 10 x 5 space I call my own

3 Bad Habits I Have
1. staying up late and thus inadvertently sleeping in
2. procrastinating
3. chewing on my fingernails

Interests at the moment:

1. baseball playoffs
2. what's most important about Church
3. connecting with new friends, staying connected with old friends
4. learning how to listen

5 Places I've Lived:
1. Sand Springs, OK
2. Tulsa, OK
3. Everett, WA
4. Chantilly, VA
5. Wilmore, KY

My Top 3 Biggest Worries at the Moment:
1. Did I just use my last quarters for laundry?
2. If they really get to know me, they will run
3. I know I'm forgetting something

My Top 5 Biggest Joys at the Moment:
1. today is payday
2. getting nosy with new friends
3. taking pictures
4. the sights colors, smells and brisk feel of fall in Kentucky
5. fleece and new elliott smith music

posted by Peter at 2:12 PM
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Word for the day

I promise I'm not making this one up.

Function: noun
1 : evasion of straightforward action or clear-cut statement : EQUIVOCATION
2 : desertion of a cause, position, party, or faith

Here, I'll even use it in a sentence:
When  Moses bade  Pharaoh, Let the people go, Exod. 6. 6. how many tergiversations used he: first, that they should Sacrifice in Egypt,  Exod. 8. 8.  Moses answers to that,  That were abomination to the Egyptians,  Exod. 8. 26.

(as seen in The Christian Synagogue by John Weemse, 1636)

There, now you try it.

posted by Peter at 2:00 PM
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Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Mystery Worshipper strikes again and ponders Methodism
I seriously have to start going to bed earlier. It's not even an option. I'm too old for this up-till-2-up-at-7 crap. Because the up-till-2 nonsense means I don't stumble out of bed until 10. It's pathetic.

Visited FUMC of Lexington on Sunday. I swear, I had every intention of attending Sunday School. An Asbury OT professor teaches a class on the Old Testament. I wanted to see that. I couldn't get out of bed.

And of course, I was late for the service. I couldn't quite decipher where the front door was, so I wandered in the building, followed the signs for the sanctuary. There's the double doors and I hear an organ and singing. So, I discreetly swing open the door. Lo and behold, these doors are facing the congregation. God, can I make an entrance. Nonchalantly, exactly like I meant to do that, I slip to the back and find a seat in the heavy, dark-stained and ornate pews. The bulletin I've picked up says something to the effect of "Serving Lexington since 1789". A brief perusal of the age demographic suggests to me it ain't lasting much longer. To be fair, at the end of the service, I did see a handful of what could possibly have been UK students. It was a very traditional Methodist service scripted to a "T". Organ and choral music and hymns. Sermon was on prayer. Luke 11, I think. Obviously it made an impression.

Now, I'm a big, big fan of Church. When it comes to the catholic community of believers, count me in. I'm there. I'm not so sure what I think of this Methodist thing. I have no problem with Wesleyan theology (at least at this point), but then prior to coming to Asbury I really could not have told you what differentiated Methodism from anything else. This despite 20 years experience in a Methodist church.

I can't say I'm a fan at all of an institutionalized church. I've a buddy who spent the last two years on staff at a Methodist church, and that was enough to convince him that his future is in academia. He tells me the Methodist church today is right where the Church of England was in Wesley's day. In addition, a well-respected Methodist minister related to me that were he advising his son, he couldn't recommend the Methodist church. No telling where it will be in 20 years.

So, we'll just see where this little Asbury journey takes us.

posted by Peter at 1:47 AM
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Captain Sacrament to Save the Day
I think Potter really is on to something here:
The world is not crying out for more doctrinal statements or prophetic pronouncements. It is crying out for prophetic lives. This goal of learning to love one another deeply is itself starkly countercultural both in terms of the world and the consumer-driven, low-commitment religious culture prevalent in post-Christian North America. It is really doing this – dedicating our lives to God and one another out of obedience to the Gospel – in the midst of the world that will introduce others to the transformative power of Jesus Christ. Christians can not longer look for “perfect” friends or communities in selfish and neurotic attempts to meet our own needs.

(emphasis me)

posted by Peter at 1:13 AM
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The church is flawed?
You've got to be kidding me. There goes that inerrant Church idea right out the window.

"Christendom-era Church DNA flaws" by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost.

On being attractional:
It’s the “If you build it, they will come” mentality. How much of the traditional church’s energy goes into adjusting their programs and their public meetings to cater to an unseen constituency. The emerging missional church recognizes is compelled to move out from itself into its community as salt and light.

On being dualistic:
We talk routinely about the “world out there”. What else can that mean, other than that we the church-people are “in here”! This dualism has over 1700 years created Christians that cannot relate their interior faith to their exterior practice, and this affects their ethics, their lifestyles and their capacity to share their faith meaningfully with others.

On being hierachical:
The only difference between a book on leadership by a church leader and one by Donald Trump or Bill Gates is that the Christian one will have a token section on ‘servant leadership’. For all its bleating about servanthood, contemporary Christian literature about leadership usually has a totally top-down understanding of the subject, rather than a grass-roots one.

posted by Peter at 12:54 AM
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Sunday, October 10, 2004
Shh... listen
From Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster:
Attuning ourselves to divine breathings is spiritual work, but without it our praying is vain repetition. Listening to the Lord is the first thing, the second thing, and the third thing necessary for successful intercession. Soren Kierkegaard once observed: "A man prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. But he became more and more quiet until in the end he realized that prayer is listening" (39).

I was taught that praying in tongues--that personal prayer language--is for using when you don't know what else to pray. It's for when you get stuck. It's priming the pump. That may even be the exact expression I had heard.

The more I think about it, the more I think that's a load of crap. I think it's a load of crap because it's motivated by a fear of silence. We all know those people scared to death of the conversational lull in public. The phobia can creep into the prayer life as well. Silence can be frightening. Me, I've always got music blaring. From the laptop. From the stereo. The other day I had the ballgame on the laptop and the stereo on. Ah, the security of noise.

Silence is frightening.

But it doesn't have to be that way. The spiritual discipline that most tickles my fancy presently is listening. Listening to God. Listening to people. Listening not just for audible voices, but truly attuning myself everything both said and unsaid. Listening. Shh. Can you hear that?

I don't pray in tongues anymore. First of all, some of those who exposed me to the gift disappointed my deeply. But mostly it's because I need to listen. And I'm not afraid of the silence.

The first time, though, that I did pray in tongues is a funny story in itself you should ask me sometime.

Tonight was guys night out: VBCC style. So it was Pedro here, Alan, Matt and Brian, chewing on red meat, broiled new potatoes and linguine with pesto. Yes, Pedro obstained from the red wine that flowed. And we watched U-571, your standard submarine flick. I swear, every submarine movie has to have the scene where they have to see how deep they can take her. Not a bad flick, by any means, though. Good times were had by all.

posted by Peter at 1:26 AM
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Saturday, October 09, 2004
A fall day
You know you've got a sweet job when this is the ceiling above you. I found a nice piece of the campus lawn between my dorm, the library and Stanger Hall in the shade. Those are three wifi spots, so as long as I don't wander too far, I still have an internet connect. Wifi is a beautiful, beautiful thing. And yes, I did get work done today.

Had my Good Will Hunting moment today.

Watching the Angels/Sox game. Sox lead the series 2-0 and with a win can eliminate the Angels and advance. 6-1 Sox, top of the seventh. The Halos load the bases with only an out. Timlin pops out Figgins.

It's Friday. That means she's working, and she makes her rounds locking up the campus doors at 7. It's quarter till. I watch Timlin jump ahead of Erstad with two quick strikes. Then full count. He loses him and walks in a run. Vlad steps to the plate as the tying run.

It's time to go see about a girl. I turn off the TV and walk away. I give her the game update and let her know what I'm giving up when I see her minutes later. She says I made the right decision. It's comments like those I have to fight from analyzing to death.

I find out later in the evening that Vlad crushed a game-tying grand slam to right center on the second pitch.

I didn't know he was going to hit a grand slam to tie the game.

posted by Peter at 2:25 AM
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Friday, October 08, 2004
Tripping around the blogosphere
Good stuff from brutha Alan:
It's [the point of this whole church thing] about being citizens - once far off, no longer aliens. Our simply being that kind of being, as fully as we can be, renews the world around us.

I give it a hearty "Aaa-men!" And I'm not giving away the punchline, so perhaps you should check the rest out.

Me, I can get pretty cynical when I walk in the Christian bookstore and peruse the 258 different flavors of the Bible for sale. You don't believe me, do you. I mean, who greenlighted a devotional Bible for left-handed Canadians born the Year of the Monkey? Anyway, Andrew has some creative ideas: a Bible for pilgrims (the physically wandering kind) and a Bible for geeks. Of course, my first reaction is what's the deal with more flavors? Can't the Bible just speak for itself? Excuse me while I punch myself off my high horse. Of course it can. And making it more creatively accessible to a world that has made it the international best-seller but is so ignorant of it ain't going to hurt.

And from another Alan, over at the Ooze:
The truth is, we are in a consumeristic culture. And for that reason, consumeristic churches will often thrive. But in my opinion, the cost is too high. A weakened spirituality that depends on a belief that there way is the best "buy" for tithe and time. It weakens relationships because the base of connection is in the "goods" sold. While non-consumeristic models may be less successful numerically, they are necessary if we expect at all that we can be transformed as a people and shift our values away from the best "purchase" whether that be for our church life, our jobs, our homes, and even our relationships. I'll even blame divorce rate being high on consumerism... We believe we can trade up. It's not right to settle for something we perceive as less value, time is too short. Discard the old, and make a shiny new purchase, because newer and prettier is always better."

Looks like Tim's reading Foster's Celebration of Discipline, too. It's good stuff.

Today's lesson in church history was all about authority. There's the Protestant view of an infallible book on the one hand, the Catholic view of an infallible church and papacy on the other. They're really not that different when you think about it. We insist certainty in our faith, for better or worse.

So my question then was, what is the Jewish perspective of authority? Where does this Christian sense of authority come from? How do I know what God wants me to do?

To the Christian what is of premier importance is believing the right thing, or what we call orthodoxy. To the Jew, the first priority is practicing the right thing, that is, observing the holidays, eating the right foods, etc.

So how did one evolve to another? They both seem incomplete to me. My prof mentioned some quote now I can't remember from Wesley about doctrine being the least part of Christianity, if any part at all. I'll have to track that down.

What good is practicing a good life devoid of orthodox doctrine? What good is defending a faith that does not transform the physical world, or worse yet, transforms me but not the world around me?

I could have sworn my piano lesson was at 9:30 this morning. Woke up at 9:20 and hurried down to the offices. It was at 9.

posted by Peter at 2:09 AM
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Thursday, October 07, 2004
Is is lethargy? Creeping feelings of the uninspired? Have I hit the wall?

See, I have to identify the segment that Matthew 5:46-48 belongs to and survey that section for Matthew class. It's a class where I'm supposed to be learning inductive Bible study. I'm sure that I am, but it's just not coming to me. Which is odd, as that's the whole reason I'm here: to study and teach the Bible. But this class just drags so.

Maybe I'm just cranky and need to go to bed.

I'm mostly well, and in the wake of my illness is an assignment in this class that was due last week. It's just not coming to me at all. I spent a good chunk of yesterday staring at it. I think part of it is still grasping the language for these survey assignments--all these million dollar seminary words.

Ten hours a day of October baseball isn't helping.

I do believe the seminary honeymoon is over.

posted by Peter at 1:39 AM
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Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Been sucking on strawberry mentho-lyptus cough drops the past three days. Mmmm... strawberry mentho-lyptus. Feeling much better. Maybe 60%. To the average well person that's still dogsick, but I'm making progress. I think we're out of the woods, or some such idiom.

I have this habit of trying to do everything, and then vastly underestimating the desire of my body to sleep. I was up till 2:30 last night gettting caught up on reading and determined to get up at 7 for Ad Fontes work. The alarm went off at 6:45. I turned it off. Woke up at 11:30. No more lazy "I'm sick and need more sleep" excuses once I'm over this. Ha.

My right forearm feels so weird. Not the usual day-after soreness. Tennis is inventing new muscles in my arm. Either that or I was bitten by a radioactive spider and maybe in the morning I'll be able to spit sticky web goo stuff from my wrist. Man, that would be cool.

Scored 7 and blocked a shot in basketball tonight. We won. I could breathe afterwards. That makes all the difference in the world.

Such a gorgeous day today I was determined to work outside again. Found a spot between my dorm, the library and Stanger Hall (three wifi spots) in some succulent shade and had a grand time proofreading Greek tags in this 1636 document. That is, until I drained the laptop battery.

I came to a realization today. I have a good grasp on getting passionate about ideas, about abstract conceptions. But not people. This bothers me. Books, reading, ideas--I can get deep in these, drown myself even. But develop an affection, passion and concern for people, for God's kids... not there. Oh, the infatuation with the concept of loving people is definitely there. But stretching out to the individuals, to the flesh and blood souls I cross paths with on a constant basis needs a lot of work. Sure, I can give my life to teaching or pastoring or mentoring or whatever, but to give my life for God's kids.... hmmm.

Father, give me the grace to really love your kids, not just the idea of loving your kids.

posted by Peter at 1:01 AM
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Monday, October 04, 2004
You know you want one
Church invitation T-shirt.

This is the church we're all a part of, right?

posted by Peter at 6:05 PM
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Vincentian canon
I consider myself a bit late to the party when it comes to the "emerging church." Can't say I've formed as yet a well-formed opinion of it. I have concerns, mainly schismatic in nature. But I'm not in a position yet to know what I'm talking about to offer a well-rounded critique. Had a good, late talk with Creech last week with some emails regarding "emerging" and community transformation. Still chewing on those.

Reading Allister McGrath's Historical Theology last night for Church History and the following comment regarding Vincent de Lerins (died before 450) as relevant to the discussion, at least my own personal discussion:
He argues for a triple criterion by which authentic Christian teaching may be established: ecumenicity (being believed everywhere), antiquity (being believed always), and consent (being believed by all people (44).

Or as Vincent puts it himself:
Therefore, on account of the number and variety of errors, ther is a need for someone to lay down a rule for the interpretation of the prophets and the apostles in such a way that is directed by the rule of the Catholic church. Now in the Catholic church itself the greatest care is taken that we hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all people (quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est).

The Gospel spans space and time. Our form of living in Christian community, that is how we do church, should be no different. The bottom line then becomes, what gives life? And not to me, but to those around me, whether I am sitting on the seminary library steps in central Kentucky, riding the DC Metro, walking through downtown Seattle, standing in the barrios of Tijuana or the adobe neighborhoods of N'Djamena.

On a related, I visited the Lexington Chinese Chrisitian Church. For my Vocation of Ministry I had to visit a non-English worship service before Wednesday. The sermon was in English and translated, while the music was standard hymns sung first in Mandarin and then English. Which led me wondering, are there original Chinese hymns? The congregation was 100 strong and extraordinarily friendly. There was a free lunch of authentic Chinese food. No Szechuan beef and broccoli. No sir, this was the real deal. John's plate contained a pair of calamari. I passed on those and enjoyed the meatballs without asking any details about what exactly I was consuming.

She beat me in tennis, 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 (I think). I know I won the second set 7-5, so I didn't embarrass myself too badly.

And the ironic thing in watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind last week is that the birthday of the Lovely Ex was last week. Our four-year anniversary would have been last week, as well. I forgot both. Who needs Lacuna? Sheesh, this person was a significant part of my life for five years and I forgot her birthday. Should I have gotten her a card or something? Maybe it's a good thing.

Watch Sarah MacLachlan's latest video. Then wonder how much the guitar costs that she's strumming. Or the piano in the background that's no one is playing.

posted by Peter at 3:27 PM
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Sunday, October 03, 2004
Sound bites
It's like a koala crapped a rainbow in my brain!

I just think that line would make a great blog subtitle. Evening was spent watching Sealab 2021. Not quite as amusement-fulfilling as the above line might lead one to believe.

Why do I fall in love with every woman I see that shows me the least bit of attention?

Some people get songs stuck in their heads. I get movie lines stuck in mine. I could have written that one from Sunshine. I wish it wasn't so.

Perhaps no sin of omission more frequently occasions (dullness of spirit) than the neglect of private prayer.

I've spent much of the day working through Wesley Speaks on Christian Vocation. The above quote is John Wesley circa 1760. You see, I have a paper due Wednesday for Vocation of Ministry--a personal reflecion paper based on the three books we've read. I was getting caught up today. But five pages into it, with the A's/Angels game playing in the background, I passed out. Woke up in time to hear the final inning. Freakin' Angels clinched the division.

Back to the "neglect of private prayer"... Once upon a time, I had such lofty intentions. Just a couple of weeks ago. What's happened? When I arrived in Kentucky, I so much wanted to establish myself right away in "holy habits"--prayer, bible study. Something more than the "praying at all times" that really turns into an excuse from actually stopping and quieting my soul to listen. Really listen. Spiritual dullness we cannot afford even for a moment.

Be still. What do you see? What do you hear?

Surely YHWH is in this place, and I was not aware of it.

Genesis 28:16. Now, I need to go finish Wesley.

posted by Peter at 1:55 AM
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Friday, October 01, 2004
I pulled off early today. Took your advice, went to a doctor about this cold from hell. He says 'You have a sinus infection, ten dollars please'. So I says 'I told you I had a sinus infection, you give me ten dollars!' Well that started an argument.

Okay. Maybe not. But it's not everyday I get to use a Barton Fink quote. Doc prescribed a Z-Pak and some hyped-up Sudafed. Ooh, and I got a 2-day school excuse, so I played hooky yesterday. Got back from the doctor at noon. And then slept until 5:30. Figured I needed some dinner, so I got up to eat. Then came back to my cave of a room and watched Robin Hood and Eternal Sunshine on my laptop.

To all of you who insisted I see Sunshine as soon as I possibly can, a pox on your house. Don't get me wrong, it's exceedingly well done. Jim Carrey's never been better. I love Charlie Kaufman's scripts. I just happen to have a dumptruck load of baggage that the plot rings a chord with like an Asian gong. I'm sorry, I don't relate to the character of Joel. I do the procedure. No hesitation. No second thoughts. I can come up with no memories worth hanging on to. That's just me, though. And that's the premise of the whole movie: that somehow romantic relationships define us to such an extent that we are not the same person without them. Can't say I buy that.

Got great news this morning. Today the first installment of my school account balance was due. Thought I owed $3800 for the semester and 1/4 of that today, which I didn't have. Found out that a scholarship that came in last week covers this first installment. Meanwhile, the fact that I have yet to sign for my promissary note means that total doesn't include my loans. So, I really only owe $780 for the semester. I can't express what a relief this is.

Got a late start to work, so it was a late night. Watched the M's game while I finished. Couldn't miss Ichiro break the single season hit record. He needed one to tie and another to break the record, and he got hits in his first two at bats. Pretty awesome stuff.

Took a break because she was working tonight. Provided backup for security as she made the rounds locking every door on campus. That took about an hour and a half. Then went back to the room to finish work, but Roommate was asleep. This is 8:30 on a Friday. Hope I haven't gotten him sick. So I went back to the switchboard with my laptop to work and provide her company and entertainment. She didn't seem to mind at all.

We play tennis at 4 on Sunday. I gotta feeling she's going to smoke me.

And what kind of a world do I live in when I get a girl's AIM and xanga ID before her phone number?

posted by Peter at 11:45 PM
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