Health Clinic

I travelled with Joyce down to Church of Our Saviour this afternoon to volunteer as a chaplain for their weekly foot clinic for the homeless. I really had a wonderful time. I met some really interesting folks - worked on the Chicago Tribune crossword puzzle with one man, discussed the guilt or innocence of Timothy McVeigh** with another, and spoke with a man whose grandmother passed away this week - 108 years old.

The clinic staff are volunteers from DePaul University's nursing school. They were a great crew to work with - very receptive of me as a newbie and so great with the patients. I am looking forward to going back again in a few weeks.

**This was actually a dialogue between 2 homeless men (H and R) and myself (D). Incidentally, H was the man who was also working on the crossword puzzle. For those of you stuck on the down clue "Priests' robes" the 4-letter answer is 'albs' (that was my input).

R: McVeigh was innocent. They had no evidence.
D: You think so? Why's that?
R: They never have enough evidence to convict.
H: You don't know!
R: I do. He was innocent.
H: Well, it doesn't matter because he wanted to die so it all worked out anyhow.
R: I guess so.

I thought this was a fascinating perspective on our justice system!


On Starts and Finishes

The first assignment: Prepare an "intriguing opening sentence" and a "challenging closing sentence."

"It is a credit to you, if being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly" - I Peter 2:20b

If Nietzsche is right in saying "that which doesn't kill you, makes you stronger," this community must be really, really strong right now - or dead.

. . . .

We can enter the world’s suffering as we strive to do the next right thing because we are already assured of the consequences – through Christ’s death on the cross, our sins have already been forgiven and we are, indeed, saved!

The second assignment: Take your opening and closing phrases and write them up into a sermon not more than three pages in length.

Lesson 1: always assume assignment 2 will follow assignment 1.

Lesson 2: stop procrastinating and get to work (it is due tomorrow!)


Inside, Outside, Upside Down. . .

While I was unable to stand on my head in class this morning, I nonetheless managed an upside-down-esque stance (inspired by one of my favorite childhood books) that suited the occasion:

“These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also.” - Acts 17:6b

When I arrived at seminary the first time – back in 1992, I wanted desperately to fit in, to be popular, and to be noticed. So, I did all the “right things”: I went out after class for drinks with classmates and professors; I organized “pub nights” on weekends; I participated in study groups and stayed up late reading and writing so that I would always be at the top of my game. And so I was. When I graduated magna cum laude, I was the center of my universe. Some would say I was a success. Some might even have been envious of my success. But I knew the truth. When I graduated it was without a call, without hope, and without God. It didn’t feel like success to me. In fact, it was death.

Ten years later, I am back in seminary. I still want to fit in, to be popular, and to be noticed. But I am no longer willing to do those "right" things, those "expected" things because, for me, those things lead only to my death. [Upside-down-stunt] Instead, I am trying on a new perspective - a new way of looking at the world and its possibilities. Because, if we are going to turn the world upside down, we have to first be able to imagine the world upside down. Does that sound exciting? Maybe a bit uncomfortable? It is! But I promise, you don't have to do it alone and, I've been told, the rewards are eternally life-giving!


I received some ironic (but extremely helpful) feedback. To many, I appeared most comfortable, open, and invitational in my conclusion which I delivered upside-down (physically - dont' worry, neither the chair nor I was hurt in the exercise). I am glad this was the case, because I truly was trying to invite people in at this point and yet, it was extremely uncomfortable! The Holy Spirit, mysteriously at work, once again. Thank God for God.


American English

Thanks to AKMA, I now know what kind of English I speak and for those of you who are interested in the same, the results are as follows:

  • 75% General American English
  • 15% Upper Midwest (grew up in Wausau, Wisconsin)
  • 5% Dixie (Boston University biblical studies professors were all studied at Vanderbilt and, quite frankly, ya'll comes in handy when you want to distinguish between the Greek 2nd person plural and the Greek 2nd person singular in English)
  • 5% Yankee (spent 7 years in Boston)
  • 0% Midwestern (um. . . )
The test itself is available for general consumption. . . as is the code to add it to your own blog! (no thanks).

I really have to do my homework now. . .

An Experiment

In a lot of our classes we discuss the intersection of the "secular" and the "sacred" (I use quotation marks only in so far as I think the line between the two is not always so clear). As part of my thinking about this, I've decided to add advertising to my website. Google allows you to do this free of charge (what, I don't have to pay so that others can advertise on my site - a novel concept, I know! Moreover, they don't pay me unless people click on the ads (and no, this is not a plea for you to do that. . . I am a student, but am fortunate enough that our household income should do for the time being)).

In any event, Google places "relevant" ad content on my website - a melding of secular and sacred, no doubt. . . so, let's see where this takes us. So far I've seen ads for the Jesus Institute and for Drama Share - a Christian Drama Resources site. . .


Oh, we already did that. . .

Ever wonder how expressions come to mean what they mean? Yes, of course you did! (Ever come to hate how people tell you how you might answer a rhetorical question that really is just an excuse to get a paragraph going? Yes, of course you did!)

It starts in childhood. Molly says, "my parents are taking me to Disney World this summer." Katie replies, "oh yeah, well my parents already took me there last year." Or, "I'm going to go see the new Ghostbusters movie!" "Oh yeah, well I already did that last night!"

Yesterday, about 30 minutes before the library closed, a woman came up to the circulation desk to check out a handful of books on Holy Week. I commented (in a joking kind of way), "a little late for Holy Week, don't you think?" (inside voice: why did you just say that you moron not EVERYONE in the universe is part of the "western" church). . . and sure enough, "oh, well we haven't had our Holy Week yet." Then followed some interesting (no, really) conversation about the Eastern and Western churches, the filioque clause, and why are we so picky about the "correct" timing of Easter anyhow.

Now imagine this response: "Oh yeah, well we already did Holy Week!"

Now let's think about it: is being first really better. "So the last will be first, and the first will be last" (Matthew 20:16). Hmmmm. . . .


The 2nd Person of the Trinity

In my systematics class yesterday, I learned that Jesus is not the second person of the trinity when you are talking about the immanent trinity! That's enough to make your socks roll up and down!

Yes, Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God - fully human and fully divine (but that, my friends, is the economic Trinity). And, that "fully human" bit is what precludes Jesus from being the 2nd person of the immanent trinity. For, if Jesus WERE part of the immanent trinity, then humanity would be God; and, last we all checked we are made in the image of God, but are not God (let's not wander down the path of heresy)!

There is GOOD NEWS in this (I don't want anybody to panic): the human part is raised and the human part does ascend, but the human part IS NOT God.

My (dumb?) question in class was, "well, what do we call the 2nd person of the Trinity when we are discussing the immanent trinity?" The answer: the Son. Ooh. . . just got tricky on me! However, I think it is the same bit of trickiness that has had me gummed up a bit about God not having a body (that, again, I presume would be the "fully human" part of the puzzle). How about this, the Son (immanent) became incarnate (economic) that we might be saved? By saying "became" this assumes that the Son was not always incarnate - i.e., fully human.

Oh bother. . . am I close?