27 October 2013

The post all about Love

I don't know who wrote this, because I saw it on facebook and the person who posted it said they got it from another friend...etc.... But I thought it was full of truth and a challenge to courage, and so am sharing it here for your benefit. 


Do we ever stop to think what we are doing when we decide to love? Love (take it in any sense you like, you can have your pick of the Greek) is an act of supreme hazard - some might call it a kind of violence. There are, of course, differences in degree - the husband loves his wife with stronger ardor than one friend loves another - but the activity of the heart in both instances is of a piece. In some way, some glorious, terrible way beyond our puny mortal comprehension, one heart is bound to another. These very bonds which bring so much joy introduce the possibility of pain, as the very capacity to feel brings with it the potential for both pleasure and agony. The bonds themselves are tainted by the filth of our hearts, as sin corrodes the psyche, clouding both judgment and emotion. Yet the very fact that we are able to love at all is a miracle, a grace we should have no reason to expect from the Creator we rebelled against.


Love itself is a kind of rebellion, an inclination of the soul which openly defies the power of darkness and its clamoring hatred. The prince of darkness may still corrupt our love into a horror, a mere carnal desire or superficial attachment. Yet when we love truly, with simple, honest devotion, we spite the enemy, moving - even if only by a fraction - toward the nature which we were intended to have, toward a vision of the Kingdom to come, toward the image of He who made it possible.

Love should not be an insipid, mewling little thing which we dress in the palest, least offensive colors and stoop to pet when it suits us. This is not love, but an abomination masquerading as virtue in a world where virtue has no meaning.

Love is not harmless. Love is dangerous. Yet it is worthwhile, only insofar as it flows from the One who burns white-hot at the center of reality, Love Himself, the One who sacrificed His Son, who hung on the cross in agony, having done no wrong, that we might be truly loved.

Brothers and sisters, let's not proclaim our love - for each other and for the world - with platitudinous whispers and mutterings. Let's declare our intent to love with one voice, roaring to the heavens. Love is our battle cry, and our commander, and our prize. Let us take love as seriously as He did.

[any leads as to the author would be appreciated and credit duly posted here]

22 October 2013

Piano Guys!!

For anyone who knows me, you probably already know that the Piano Guys are my favorite music band, hands down, no question. So I am sharing this on my blog as a vote for them to win a youtube award, just because.

And since you get hardly any of their amazing music in this video that has to be shared in order to vote for them, here is the real video with the amazing music which is the actual reason why I vote for them. Elizabeth and I saw this performed live in Buffalo when we went to the concert last week!! It is a combination of Faure's "Pavane" and David Guetta's "Titanium".

That's not even my favorite, though. I have not been able to choose an actual favorite, so here are a few of the ones I listen to most. [If anyone is not familiar with the Piano Guys, I highly recommend listening to these, or going to their youtube channel and watching anything.] All three of these were also played at the concert last week, and I can truly say that they are even more amazing to see in person! (How is that possible...)
 this is a mashup of the Bourne Identity soundtrack and the Vivaldi Double Cello Concerto
an African version of the Coldplay song "Paradise"--Peponi
and last in order of production but certainly not in awesomeness, the brand-new "Kung Fu Piano", which is a mixture of the soundtrack from Kung Fu Panda with Chopin-style piano and filmed on the Great Wall of China.

Hope you enjoy!! I am posting this as a vote for the youtube competition, but I suppose passing around some of the best music I know makes for a not-too-shabby blog post, too, and I am sorely lacking in those ;)

21 August 2013

Only @ Chautauqua...

As some of you know, I have been working at Chautauqua Institution this summer. While here, I have encountered a number of interesting situations. Here are a few of the more amusing ones, for your enjoyment:

"I put an extra shot [of espresso] in [my coffee]. We just had a scintillating game of shuffleboard." -Julie D.
*bonus points if you can both define scintillating and describe how to play shuffleboard!*

"Well, the instructions are wrong, because you dial 9, and nothing happens, and you stand there swearing at the phone." - exasperated gentleman calling from room

"Here's a chuckle for you--I was so excited to get here, I left all my clothes in the car...well that's okay I'll just wear this again tomorrow." - excited guest

"Can I have the in-house count?" - co-worker
"How badly do you want it?" - me, teasing
"How badly do you not want to be thrown up on?" - co-worker
-_- .... wow, that escalated fast!

"Do you even know what that means? Clearly you didn't grow up in New York City. What are you, 17? 18? Am I embarrassing you yet? You need to get an education." *waves cane in my face* - compliments of room 70...

"I'm about to have a baby!" - exasperated [male] co-worker

"I'm sorry, I may be a bit thick, but where is the place where you type in the web address?" - elderly gentleman using computer in the lobby

"Don't get fresh with me, young lady! I'm telling a story!" - room 32

And for a final chuckle, a picture that amuses me every time I come in for a 7am shift:

hope you gained a laugh or two from my summer job! cheers! :)

13 August 2013

Redneck Computer Terms

Well, I decided it is time for another laugh...and this is one of my favorites :) enjoy!!

LOG ON: Makin’ a woodstove hot.
LOG OFF: Don’t add no more wood.
MONITOR: Keepin’ an eye on the wood stove.
DOWNLOAD: Gittin’ the farwood off the truck.
MEGA HERTZ: When you’re not keerfull gittin’ the farwood.
FLOPPY DISC: Whutcha git from trying to tote too much farwood.
RAM: That thar thing whut splits the farwood.
HARD DRIVE: Gittin’ home in the winter time.
WINDOWS: Whut to shut when it’s cold outside.
SCREEN: Whut to shut when it’s black fly season.
BYTE: Whut them dang flys do.
CHIP: Munchies fer the TV.
MICRO CHIP: Whut’s in the bottom of the munchie bag.
INFRARED: Where the left-overs go when Fred's around.
MODEM: Whutcha do to the hay fields.
DOT MATRIX: Old Dan Matrix’s wife.
LAP TOP: Whar the kitty sleeps.
KEYBOARD: Whar you hang the truck keys.
SOFTWARE: Them plastic forks and knifes.
MOUSE: Whut eats the grain in the barn.
MOUSE PAD: That’s hippie talk fer the mouse hole.
MAINFRAME: Holds up the barn roof.
PORT: Fancy Flatlander wine.
ENTER: Northerner talk fer, “C’mon in, y’all.”
CLICK: Whut you hear when you cock your gun.
DOUBLE CLICK: When the dang gun don’t far when you pull the trigger.
REBOOT: Whut you have to do at bedtime when you forgot the kitty’s still outside.
Random Access Memory: You can't remember whatcha' paid for that new rifle when your wife asks.

[I've had this on my computer for a long time--no idea where I got it. It is in several places online in various different revisions, but I do not know the original source. If anyone knows where credit should be given, let me know!]

25 July 2013

The Ordination Debate

In light of the debate in the church over the ordination of women, I think it is about time to give a few points off in the opposite direction. I saw this article online, and it was too good to pass up. [Please note the irony/sarcasm/humor, and do not take these to be my serious view of the issue.]

Therefore, without further ado: "10 Reasons Why Men Should Not Be Ordained"

10. A man’s place is in the army.

9. The pastoral duties of men who have children might distract them from the responsibility of being a parent.

8. The physique of men indicates that they are more suited to such tasks as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be “unnatural” for them to do ministerial tasks.

7. Man was created before woman, obviously as a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment rather than the crowning achievement of creation.

6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. Their conduct at football and basketball games demonstrates this.

5. Some men are handsome, and this will distract women worshipers.

4. Pastors need to nurture their congregations. But this is not a traditional male role. Throughout history, women have been recognized as not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more fervently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.

3. Men are prone to violence. No really masculine man wants to settle disputes except by fighting about them. Thus they would be poor role models as well as dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.

2. The New Testament tells us that Jesus was betrayed by a man. His lack of faith and ensuing punishment remind us of the subordinated position that all men should take.

1. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep sidewalks, repair the church roof, and perhaps even lead the song service on Father’s Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the church.

29 June 2013

Hermeneutics of "Stop"

I saw some time ago, but again today and was reminded of how much I like it. "Hermeneutics in Everyday Life" by Tim Perry, for your enjoyment :)

Suppose you're traveling to work and you see a stop sign. What do you do? That depends on how you exegete the stop sign.

1. A postmodernist deconstructs the sign (knocks it over with his car), ending forever the tyranny of the north-south traffic over the east-west traffic.
2. Similarly, a Marxist sees a stop sign as an instrument of class conflict. He concludes that the bourgeoisie use the north-south road and obstruct the progress of the workers on the east-west road.
3. A serious and educated Catholic believes that he cannot understand the stop sign apart from its interpretive community and their tradition. Observing that the interpretive community doesn't take it too seriously, he doesn't feel obligated to take it too seriously either.
4. An average Catholic (or Orthodox or Coptic or Anglican or Methodist or Presbyterian or whatever) doesn't bother to read the sign but he'll stop if the car in front of him does.
5. A fundamentalist, taking the text very literally, stops at the stop sign and waits for it to tell him to go.
6. A preacher might look up "STOP" in his lexicons of English and discover that it can mean: 1) something which prevents motion, such as a plug for a drain, or a block of wood that prevents a door from closing; 2) a location where a train or bus lets off passengers. The main point of his sermon the following Sunday on this text is: when you see a stop sign, it is a place where traffic is naturally clogged, so it is a good place to let off passengers from your car.
7. An orthodox Jew does one of two things:
1) Take another route to work that doesn't have a stop sign so that he doesn't run the risk of disobeying the Law.
2) Stop at the stop sign, say "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast given us thy commandment to stop," wait 3 seconds according to his watch, and then proceed.
Incidentally, the Talmud has the following comments on this passage: R[abbi] Meir says: He who does not stop shall not live long. R. Hillel says: Cursed is he who does not count to three before proceeding. R. Simon ben Yudah says: Why three? Because the Holy One, blessed be He, gave us the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. R. ben Isaac says: Because of the three patriarchs. R. Yehuda says: Why bless the Lord at a stop sign? Because it says: "Be still, and know that I am God." R. Hezekiel says: When Jephthah returned from defeating the Ammonites, the Holy One, blessed be He, knew that a donkey would run out of the house and overtake his daughter; but Jephthah did not stop at the stop sign, and the donkey did not have time to come out. For this reason he saw his daughter first and lost her. Thus he was judged for his transgression at the stop sign. R. Gamaliel says: R. Hillel, when he was a baby, never spoke a word, though his parents tried to teach him by speaking and showing him the words on a scroll. One day his father was driving through town and did not stop at the sign. Young Hillel called out: "Stop, father!" In this way, he began reading and speaking at the same time. Thus it is written: "Out of the mouth of babes." R. ben Jacob says: Where did the stop sign come from? Out of the sky, for it is written: "Forever, O Lord, your word is fixed in the heavens." R. ben Nathan says: When were stop signs created? On the fourth day, for it is written: "let them serve as signs." R. Yeshuah says: ... [continues for three more pages]
8. A Pharisee does the same thing as an orthodox Jew, except that he waits 10 seconds instead of 3. He also replaces his brake lights with 1000 watt searchlights and connects his horn so that it is activated whenever he touches the brake pedal.
9. A scholar from Jesus seminar concludes that the passage "STOP" undoubtedly was never uttered by Jesus himself, but belongs entirely to stage III of the gospel tradition, when the church was first confronted by traffic in its parking lot.
10. A NT scholar notices that there is no stop sign on Mark street but there is one on Matthew and Luke streets, and concludes that the ones on Luke and Matthew streets are both copied from a sign on a completely hypothetical street called "Q". There is an excellent 300 page discussion of speculations on the origin of these stop signs and the differences between the stop signs on Matthew and Luke street in the scholar's commentary on the passage. There is an unfortunately omission in the commentary, however; the author apparently forgot to explain what the text means.
11. An OT scholar points out that there are a number of stylistic differences between the first and second half of the passage "STOP". For example, "ST" contains no enclosed areas and 5 line endings, whereas "OP" contains two enclosed areas and only one line termination. He concludes that the author for the second part is different from the author for the first part and probably lived hundreds of years later. Later scholars determine that the second half is itself actually written by two separate authors because of similar stylistic differences between the "O" and the "P".
12. Another prominent OT scholar notes in his commentary that the stop sign would fit better into the context three streets back. (Unfortunately, he neglected to explain why in his commentary.) Clearly it was moved to its present location by a later redactor. He thus exegetes the intersection as though the stop sign were not there.
13. Because of the difficulties in interpretation, another OT scholar emends the text, changing "T" to "H". "SHOP" is much easier to understand in context than "STOP" because of the multiplicity of stores in the area. The textual corruption probably occurred because "SHOP" is so similar to "STOP" on the sign several streets back that it is a natural mistake for a scribe to make. Thus the sign should be interpreted to announce the existence of a shopping area.
14. A "prophetic" preacher notices that the square root of the sum of the numeric representations of the letters S-T-O-P (sigma-tau-omicron-pi in the Greek alphabet), multiplied by 40 (the number of testing), and divided by four (the number of the world--north, south, east, and west), equals 666. Therefore, he concludes that stop signs are the dreaded "mark of the beast," a harbinger of divine judgment upon the world, and must be avoided at all costs.

03 February 2013

More German

I know I posted last year about some 'German' - and now there is more. I have seen this in several places on the internet as well as in my linguistics class, in various forms, so I'm not going to worry about a particular credit. If you do a Google search, you will find something like this. I have not been able to discern a concrete origin.

{This is a joke, of course - just to clear up any confusion!}

Enjoy! :)

Breaking News: Official language of the EU

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby
English will be the official language of the European Union rather
than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded
that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted
a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".
In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c".. Sertainly, this
will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be
dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and
keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the
troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f".. This will make words
like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be
expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have
always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the
languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th"
with "z" and "w" with "v".

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from
vordskontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi
bl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi TU
understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in
ze forst plas.

28 January 2013


This evening, I held my first class.

Oh, I've tutored most of college, and had lots of experiences helping others understand material, talking through classes, and so on. So when I got an email from academic services asking if I would TA a class, I thought - no big deal. I've done this before.

Not quite.

This evening, 7 pm found me standing in front of a classroom with anxious, determined, hopeful faces looking at me, waiting for me to tell them the meaning of life. Or at least how to pass a Western Civ exam. I had the course syllabus, textbook, and powerpoints - but I've never taken this class, so I figured they would just ask any questions and we would go on from there. I like answering questions.

"Well, it's 7 o'clock, so I guess we'll get started. I am happy to answer any questions you have - what have you been covering? What can I help you with?"

Blank stares mixed with worry peered up at me.

Well, the guy who TA'd last semester would stand there for an hour and lecture - it was like an additional lecture for those who wanted to cover the information again.

Open notebooks with pencils poised to scratch down streams of wisdom lay still.

This wasn't quite the drift I had gotten from the academic services email. By the time we had straightened out that they had come to take notes on an hour of lecture, I had some balance. Okay, so it wasn't what I was expecting, but hey - I'm a senior history major. They are currently talking about the Late Middle Ages and the chaos mixed with excitement that comes as a result of the changing economic, political, social, religious, and technological advances of the time. I know this stuff. No problem. I took a quick peek at the clock, [just to pace myself, of course].


Okay God, what should I do? I am happy to help however I best can...but I haven't prepared a lecture. I've looked over what they are learning, but in no way does general ability-to-answer-questions mean that I have a lesson plan.

So I started talking about how I prepare for an exam with this professor. I found the study questions he posted online, and located the one they are currently covering in class. I recounted general information about that time period, gave it all context, covered it, gave a sample thesis question, explained how to answer it, and was rewarded by hasty scribbling in notebooks. The relieved faces of the people I had not expected to have as students showed me that this was familiar territory: someone stands in the front and talks, everyone else sits in chairs and takes notes.

There were only two problems.

The more urgent one was revealed by a surreptitious glance at the clock on the computer:


Um... I had already covered the study question, and it was close enough to the beginning of the semester that there was only one to cover.

I talk fast, but not that fast...

The other issue was a more philosophical one, and that is that I am convinced that almost no one learns best by listening to someone ramble about what they think about a particular topic. I could stand there and talk until I ran out of words (although, granted, that is unlikely to happen very quickly...) and if one person at the end raises their hand and says "was the Holy Roman Empire the one with Constantinople?" then they have not really understood the context of the entire lecture.

"So...does anyone have any questions?"

One girl raises her hand, and I gratefully acknowledge her.

"We talked a little bit about the Hundred Year's War, but I didn't get why that was important - can you explain that?"

It wasn't quite what I had been expecting...but it was roughly within the time period. And thus began the crash course on tying things together. We talked about Henry V and Charles VI, then Joan of Arc.

Then we talked about Avignon. Then about feudalism and serfdom, and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, then the three popes, then lay piety and confraternity, and before I knew it we were having a dialogue, where they were flipping through notes and bringing up things that they didn't understand and I would show them how it fit into the context of the LMA and the changes that were going on during that time period.

A check on the time showed it to be 7:49, so I decided to wrap it up.

"Anyone have an idea what kind of thesis you would give to answer this test question?"

Then we talked about how to write an essay, so that all the things we had talked about in the previous 45 minutes wouldn't just be scraps of information, but would be useful, helpful, and eventually give them a better understanding of Western Civilization and therefore a better test grade. [The real goal for me is their understanding; I imagine their real goal - at least for now - is the test grade. But maybe when the class is over they'll be glad for the information...I have felt the same way.]

At 7:59 I finished talking about essays and asked if it had been helpful. If there were any more questions. They were packing up, and I watched the clock turn as I was speaking.


I never thought I would be so happy to see a clock turn 8:00.

But at the same time, it was - oddly enough - a little bit sad.

For an hour, I had been able to put to use some of the information I have spent these last years stuffing in my head and synthesizing into papers. I was able to talk to some freshman I don't know for an hour and give them some hope about passing a class. I was able to share my love of history and the fascination for the amazing stories of people who have gone before us and laid the foundations for the modern world in which we now live.

The last one left, and I logged off the computer. Only one word could describe the way I felt:


I had done it. Gone into a setting that turned out to be something quite different from what I had been expecting, had a conversation with some students that genuinely wanted some help, and shared something with them.

As I left, the words of one of the girls floated ...

Thank you ... it's easier to ask you questions than him.

Was it some kind of power high - eager students hanging onto my every word while I scatter wisdom? Well, aside from the fact that it wasn't quite like that, I can see how that would be a possible temptation. Frankly, tonight I was too terrified to feel much of that regardless!

What I did feel, though, was a deep-down satisfaction. A pleasure that came from feeling useful - not that I am just a good student, or a nice person, but that in a fairly tangible way, made the lives of some students better.

And did I mention that it was a lot of fun?

Just one more way I have discovered of living out my goal of making the world a better place, one life at a time. 

It was cool. Just thought I'd share.