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Professional Gadfly by day ...

... Consummate Student by night.

January 15th, 2005

The Shape of Things to Come @ 05:21 pm

Currently Emoting: : awake awake
Currently Consuming:: Postal Service -- Such Great Heights

Yesterday I had lunch with a couple of people I'm tempted to call "associates" -- professional acquaintances with one foot in the "fracquaintance" and the other in the "business contact" category. My primary role at the table was that of the social linchpin -- the cipher introducing person A to person B who otherwise, for the sake of both A and B, eats her gratuitous salad, smiles, nods and takes up oxygen.

I happened to be sitting next to Person A, let us call her Karen, a woman in her 40s, published author, upwardly mobile professor and, historically, better dresser than yours truly. She, appropriately, carried the conversation, and being the attentive audience (and frequently successful faker of rapt attention) I spent the better part of two hours casting side-long glances at her. Karen is an attractive woman -- no raving beauty, perhaps, although the subtraction of 20 years and addition of a touch of vanity might, no doubt, have done wonders. She's visibly and prematurely graying and doesn't bother with make-up beyond a generous brush of mascara. Physically, she is entirely narrow -- tall, very slender, lean-faced and straight-haired -- certainly not androgynous, but always focused, intent and professional.

There hasn't been a time in my life since I hit adolescence where I didn't have hips and a sizable ass. At 5ft6 I'm of average height -- shorter than Karen -- and all around softer. Living in Southern California provides, of course, ample impetus to dislike one's body, but over the past decade I've become quite comfortable with what mine can do -- hike, run, swim, glide, jump, toss, lift, soar -- even when I'm not particularly thrilled with how it looks. There is no denying, however, that my body isn't nearly as professional looking as Karen's. This seems like a peculiar observation, but after 15 years of being attentive to body image, for better or for worse, I have little difficulty recognizing that Karen's lean, self-restrained vitality communicates capability, control and "getting the job done" in ways that, on a purely physical level, I simply don't.

It's no secret that I one day aspire to doing what Karen does. She'll be the first to tell you that in some ways I'm better suited to the task than her. I don't regard my body as an accessory to my mind and will, to be moulded and shaped to suit my perceived needs. On the other hand, a few inches of hair and a few pounds of body mass are a small price to pay for successful stream-lining. As such, I have no concrete conclusion for my ruminations; perhaps it is inevitable that those of us who do not dress for men dress for jobs?

January 10th, 2005

The Saint in the Family @ 06:28 am

Currently Emoting: : geeky geeky
Currently Consuming:: U2 - Original of the Species

There are few things more frightening than combing through an old harddrive to find bits of a story, most of which you don't actually recall writing. It's not awful, overall, but I must have been out of my mind to attempt a novel, given my lack of literary stamina.

Sarah Antoinette Soubirou made her way through the still quiet streets of New York.  It was only minutes before 5 am, but the entrances of the subway stations were still vexingly closed. Until the rattling of the gates would set the formal opening-chord to the
dissonant sonata of the city, the only stirrings were the wind rustling through the drunks of Time Square. The heat was already oppressive. Somewhere a bird sang.

Sarah shook her head with a vague sense of annoyance. A bird in Manhattan. Her mother would have loved it, would have lived on the story for a few weeks, chattering away with the customers at the dingy salon that had become so popular during her last years. "A Frenchwoman, ma chere, knows about style, about beautee."

Sarah had heard those words hundreds of times as a child, playing between the basins, hiding underneath the counters, fending off the vicious stray cats with pins and combs. After the shutters had been closed and the iron grit put in place to fend off the drunkards and vandals that occasionally took bottles and crowbars to the surrounding shops, her mother told a different story entirely. Francoise told of factory work and long Sundays in the oppressive church under the insipid smile of the white-robed, blue-belted Madonna. Of scrubbing the floors of the cloister, under the watchful glances of the nuns and the half-mocking, half-fearful ostracism of the kitchen-hands. Then, there was the war, which Francoise remembered as a neverending series of desperate pilgrims and horribly disfigured soldiers filing through the halls of the convent.

The rest, Sarah had pieced together from the bundled letters in near-undecipherable
handwriting, a few grainy colored pictures and the halting responses from her mother's few remaining relatives when wrote of her death. Months later, she had received a cautious letter from the abbess of the convent. Assuredly, she had not known Marie-Francoise personally, but she had heard of her cheerful and humble manner from her elders and would be happy to pray for the deceased, should Sarah find that desirable. Wrapped into the tissue of the letter was a small laminated card with the picture of a young woman kneeling at the feet of a benevolently bowing virgin Mary. On the back, the nun had indicated, in furtive scrawl, that Sarah would be always welcome at the convent. At first, Sarah had meant to throw it away, but later she sighed and placed it with the rest of the evidence she had gathered about her mother's life.

       In the midst of her stories about the country of her youth, Francoise spoke little about her family, still less with them. As a child, Sarah had understood that phone-calls to Europe cost almost unfathomable amounts of money – listening to Francoise, the wires across the Atlantic had to be re-strung each time one picked up the cracked, black-plastic receiver, something a god-fearing person best avoided.

On the other hand, the other poor Polish, German and Italian expats further down the street would save up for months and months to afford furtive minutes of shouts and static to the other continent. On those evenings the entire family, and frequently the families of fellow nationals in the neighborhood would gather around the telephone, while the patriarch dutifully conveyed love, news and tales of the brave new world to a mute audience on the other end of the line. Afterwards, there was usually cause for celebration – an uncle had found work and a cousin had finally conceived; the neighbor's daughter had married (and who would have thought ?! Deviamo anziani, ascoltami !) or the local church's roof re-tiled.

The ample, dark-haired women had preemptively cooked up a feast and over a few jugs of wine or beer, stories of  national glory and familial shame were dredged out,
resulting in equal parts delight and strive. Sarah had been privy to a number of these celebrations, sitting very still amidst the agitated youngsters. There was a distinct sense of betraying her mother, although reason said that Francoise could hardly mind an extra mouth being fed for the night.

Clock, clock, clock. Sarah listened to her heels on the asphalt. With a start, she realized that she had been dawdling. A small twinge of anxiety surging through her gut, she licked her lips and started moving more purposefully. She checked her watch – three minutes to five a.m. Clickety-click, click, click-click.  She was speeding up, driven by superstition rather than real hurry. She had nowhere to be at this hour, of course – even the demanding mills of Docker, Best and Stubbs didn't start grinding until just before seven most mornings.

When Sarah had been younger, she would make her way to school every morning over a complex grid of cracks in the sidewalk. She'd deliberately choose a path of skips and jumps, avoiding patches of broken asphalt and placing her feet on faded oil-spots until she could have found her way blindfolded.  Now she was hurrying along without paying attention to the smooth, gray surface of the Manhattan streets. The knowledge that in a few more seconds the clanging gates of the subway would open and the sidewalks would be flooded with pedestrians gave her a sense of being chased. 60 seconds. 300 feet. Clickclickclickclick. Seven seconds. Five steps. Click. Slam.

Velvet darkness surrounded her for a few seconds, then soft shapes began to fade into the foreground. Sarah inhaled deeply. She was safe. After a few seconds to catch her breath, she stepped fully into the interior of St.Paul's.

George, she reflected with a wry smile, would have been less charitable in describing her as a "recovering Catholic" had he known about her morning vigils in the chapel. It wasn't as if she actually prayed, and he would understand about the socio-cultural sanctuary status of the place, but … Sarah shook herself with a quiet shiver. The morning heat had no way of permeating the thick stone of the church and it was very nearly chilly here. The hubbub that was beginning to pervade the streets outside at 5:00 a.m. didn't touch the stolid interior of St.Paul's. The rugs absorbed the noise of her shoes and the tapestries and expansive marble fronting dampened the din of the waking city to a far-off rumble.

Sarah walked past the pews on the left side, sliding into the side-ship of the chapel, stepping close to the large cool stone on the side of the altar. Even as a child, she
had explored the world primarily through touch. Following the familiar comforting ritual, she now placed her hands and forehead firmly on the chill face of the rock. The stone had texture, she had realized when she had first set foot into the chapel and collapsed on this very altar just after her mother's death – a rough-hewn feel that was so very different from the smooth glass panes and elegantly curved aluminum wavers of the city. Even the smooth spots were worn near-glossy not by the touch of machines but by decades of the caress of human hands.

She closed her eyes and sighed. Ah, George. One of these mornings, she knew, she would make the walk between her apartment and her job without having him worm his way into her thoughts. This wasn't so much wishful thinking and faith in the well-meaning friends' advice as meticulously documented experience. Sixteen volumes of journals, from the curvy, elaborate longhand of the pre-teen in faded-pink notebooks to the typo-riddled tirades on bent floppies of just last year testified that this, too, would indeed pass – until the next man.

Overall, she reflected, it might have been cheaper and more rewarding to take up drinking instead of loving when she still had the choice of drug at her fingertips. Truth being told, Sarah had known what an addictive personality looked like long before she had taken her first psychology class. It wasn't unusual for immigrants and their children to chain-smoke, and over-indulgence in beer, wine and assorted spirits was equally commonplace. Her own mother had avoided these pitfalls with an iron self-discipline that stemmed from the recognition that one indulgence would sign her soul over to the drug to her dying day.

Francoise's abstinence, of course, hadn't spared her from the quiet poisoning the strong, unfiltered cigarettes of her customers and aides worked on her lungs day in, day out. On her deathbed, her lungs ravished by cancer, Francoise had been asked to partake in a signed protest against state laws permitting customers to smoke in business establishments. But Sarah's mother wasn't interested, or phased in the slightest by the fact that her disciplined refusal to yield to temptation over the years had not saved her from the creeping, painful death. For Francoise, neither the expense nor the physical destruction had been the reason she had accepted the quiet ostracism that had resulted from her refusal to share one of the basic acts of sociability.

Sarah watched mutely as her mother's fierce grip on herself was eroded by the disease, stripping her of her strength, independence and clarity of mind. Cancer, she knew, was in many ways only the logical and natural extension of addiction, finishing on the body what its victims had chosen to surrender their minds to. The pattern was repeated over
and over again. Smokers' lungs mimicked their submission to the drug. Those who courted alcoholism found themselves destroyed by the liquor's defeat of their bodies.

As for herself, standing there, braced against the very foundation of the chapel, Sarah remembered the moment she had realized that the tumor had finally reached her body.  One evening, several weeks ago, breathing had begun to take effort – fifteen tiny decisions every minute to keep on supplying her body with oxygen. The burden of holding her head up had gotten to be overwhelming, and each movement of her wrist an expenditure of life-force she no longer had. Almost simultaneously Sarah had noticed the tumor's tentacles wrapping around her heart with a solid fog of comfortable numbness.  

When she realized that the undercurrent of ache and anxiety had fallen to the general exhaustion that was gripping her, she had started to run scenarios through her mind. Tentatively at first, then with increasing franticness she had started to prod the rifts and gashes in her heart only to find that the merciful numbness had covered them with anesthesizing impregnability. She finally had to concede that her memory was intact to the most brittle detail. The fights, the tears, the long messy hours sprawled on her apartment floor, beating the carpet with her fists and screaming in pain – all of it was vividly present, and all of it left her with the bemused indifference of examining someone else's life.

With detachment came clarity and an almost academic curiosity to explore the areas of her memory she had been scrupulously avoiding for fear of breaking herself on their sharp edges. There were the friends that had faded, the lovers that had said "forever" and lied … it was a cliché parade, really, and after a while her amazement at the years she had wasted insulating herself from it was all that kept her fascinated. The numbness made the near-terminal exhaustion bearable, made her sleep deep and dreamless. The dread she felt at the thought of every new day was no match for the foggy indifference that kept her tracing and retracing the outlines of someone else's life.

Only recently, anxiety had started to push against the walls of wakeful oblivion again, no more than a momentary annoyance. In her detachment, drawing connections from one moment to another had become seemingly pointless and impossible. She was dimly aware that she was nursing … something. She didn't care to think what it might be.

When Sarah raised her face again to the darkness, the stone was slick with tears. She must have been crying – again – without noticing, she realized. On impulse, she brought her lips to the stone, tasting her tears mingled with the sweat and dirt of the chapel. Stung by the sharp saltiness she pulled away and sighed. Perhaps it was time for a new man, a new obsession, a new fix after all. She had resisted for all these months, but then, resisting wasn't quite the word for what she'd been doing. She'd gotten stuck, she admitted to herself – stuck not just on a man, but a particular man. It had been so easy, she reflected with a bitter smile – George was all hook.

Sarah ran a hand through her close-cropped hair and stepped out of the chapel into the morning sunlight. On the edge between the building's gloom and the hard-angled brightness of the streets, she passed into a curtain of heat and dust from which her hands couldn't shield her. Falling in step with the now substantive crowd, she moved purposefully through the streets of Manhatten towards an inconspicuous high-rise deeply wedged into downtown.

George, she reflected, had also known how to turn a phrase. Glib, witty comments that let his striking intellect show just enough to put people on notice. He had always appreciated her ability to catch the sly, understated insults that comprised so much of his banter, and overtime the cruel itch to quip had rubbed off on her. That part of him hadn't left either, when he moved his last shirt out of her wardrobe, just like the little bits and pieces other men had left on her personality had never quite been erased.  David's love for foreign newspapers and Lane's taste for cheap beer, Chris' insistence on sleeping with the windows closed, Todd's this and Cyril's that … at barely thirty years old, she was now a patchwork of all the men she had loved and some of the ones who had loved her.

Setting foot into her building's elevator, Sarah arranged herself in a corner and kept her eyes on the ascending column of lights. When George had told her enthusiastically that he felt fully free to be himself with her, her heart had swelled with the unexpected joy of the compliment from such a reserved man. In retrospect, this had proved to be unfortunate when she discovered that George wanted nothing more than to not be himself anymore.

The elevator hit the 16th floor. The marble lobby of Docker, Best and Stubbs, Esq. – or simply DoBe, as the law firm was known in intellectual property circles – was lavishly furnished with large, immaculate leather chairs and flower arrangements that magically appeared every morning before Sarah entered the building. A firm as prestigious as DoBe, however, could ill afford to keep its clients waiting in even the most luxurious setting, unless the clients were of the sort the firm could care less to lose. As a result, the lobby was little but a run-of-the-mill showpiece of the partners' taste (poor) and the company's funding (rich).

Trailing fingertips along the marble reception counter, Sarah caught a furtive whiff of the dahlias and peonies that provided colorful contrast to the black and silver interior of the lobby. Behind the imposing chrome doors, the partners' bastion took up the better part of the floor, whereas associates and paralegals clustered in the remainder of the wing, while the legal secretaries shared a cubicle farm in the most remote area. As a relatively junior member of that lowest group on the firm's totem pole, Sarah hadn't been able to even stake a desk and chair for herself. Of course, this also indicated that she was in high enough demand to spend her days moving from partners' quarters to associates' offices to the firm's library, located on the top floor of the building.

Instead of checking her first assignment, this morning Sarah retrieved a well-worn binder from the back of the communal filing cabinet. Check, double-check – the dates were still good. Before she could close the folder, it was taken out of her hands and Sarah felt herself go rigid. Under the soothing buzz of the central-air, Sarah's immediate supervisor had stepped beside her and was now studying the same entry she had just confirmed.

Frank was somewhere between 35 and oblivion. Sarah had never been very good at guessing at people's ages, and the meticulous grooming of her gay colleague made it near-impossible to tell. Sarah had learnt the hard way that in the competitive business world outsiders were one another's bitter enemies more often than allies. Hers was the double misfortune of looking white but feeling deeply bonded with the blacks and Latinos, the South-East-Asians and gays she worked with.

At least she had, until she had begun to understand that for many of her colleagues, the struggle to the top entailed a climb over the backs of others. These days, Sarah mostly kept to herself. She had to admit that Frank had never made trouble for her, and she didn't want this to be the first occasion. She squared her shoulders and caught the supervisor's quizzical look.

"This is possibly the worst time for any of you girls to take a vacation, not to mention that your leaving will singlehandedly leave us about three secretaries short. You could have told …" He raised a hand to still whatever defense he anticipated from her, but Sarah stood mute, eyes fixed somewhere just above his lapel, and so he continued.
"I know you followed procedure. And we'll make do."

He hesitated and peered at her over his glasses. For a moment, he looked older than she had ever seen him. "Even if we didn't, I'm glad to see you take a break. Where will you be going? Or are you just staying in town … there must be affairs to put in order after your mother's recent death."

Sarah looked up with a modicum of surprise. Francoise's death wasn't exactly public knowledge. If she could have avoided it, she wouldn't have shared the news of her mother's illness and slow deterioration with anyone at DoBe. But as the cancer spread sufficiently to put Francoise into a near-constant state of either morphine- or pain-induced unconsciousness, Sarah had been forced to beg concessions from one of the partners. For the last month of her mother's life, then, Sarah had arrived early and left for a long lunch every day at 2:00pm, a period stealthily calculated to catch Francoise's steadily diminishing lucid hours. Afterwards, Sarah would return to the office in a daze, as often as not furiously scrubbing tears from her cheeks before returning to another five hours of legal memos and office work.

Her mother's actual death had been swift and hurried, by comparison. One day, seconds after Sarah had left her mother dozing, heart-failure had pulled the remaining dregs of Francoise's spirit from her body with a scream of terror that continued to echo in Sarah's nightmares until numbness took her capacity for dreams. Then, there was the funeral and more missed time that begged for explanations. And now her supervisor seemed to be saying that he had been mindful of her personal life all along. Sarah didn't like the feeling in the slightest. She ventured to ask the question hanging in the air without divulging too much further detail.

"I'll be going away for a couple of weeks", she admitted. The quizzical look didn't let up. "… to Europe." More expectant curiosity. "France, to be exact." She took a deep breath. There. "France? Lovely around this time of year, of course." Then again, what part of the world aside from New York City wasn't lovely in the middle of a warm June, Sarah completed the polite inanity in her head. She was grateful Frank hadn't had anything thoughtful or substantive to say. The thought that she might be known and understood here, of all places, was strangely painful.

"Paris in June is such a great place for lovers." Sarah sense the unspoken question and nodded choppily. Turning her eyes back towards the filing cabinet, she crouched slightly in a distracted attempt to dislodge another folder. "Will you be bringing" – here Frank lowered his voice conspiratorially – "your special friend? You are on good terms again, aren't you?" Sarah's body snapped up like a whip. Looking straight at Frank, she
had lost all tone to her voice. "I'll be going not to Paris but to the provinces. My mother was born there. I have family matters to put in order."

She pushed past him, not giving him the time to side-step her. "If you'll excuse me, I need Salinger's approval on this."

January 9th, 2005

The Geek Hierarchy, v. 2.0 (abridged) @ 11:06 am

Currently Emoting: : apathetic apathetic

... cause there's an entire generation of bloggers who has yet to taste of its awe-inspiring goodness. Oh, and one more thing? I never, ever again want to explain what a "furry" is. Or an "erotic furry." Or, for the love of all that is holy, what constitutes "yiffing." (Or, in largely unrelated news, what a "dominatrix" does. Come on, people, that last one ought to have come up in your college psych courses somewhere!)

January 8th, 2005

January 7th, 2005

"Let the Wind behind the Stars call me from Points of my Departure ..." @ 08:14 pm

Currently Emoting: : crazy crazy
Currently Consuming:: VoL -- Points of my Departure

It's January. I've started to look into cheap flights to New Zealand ($759+) and hostel accommodations (starting around $16/dormbed/night).

I've clearly lost my mind.

January 6th, 2005

You & Me of the 10,000 Wars @ 04:47 pm

Currently Emoting: : calm calm
Currently Consuming:: Indigo Girls -- Power of Two

As partisan politics are once again heating up around us (... have they ever cooled down?), I think it's worthwhile to consider the statements of two gentlemen, one of whom I had the pleasure to know personally, with whose substantive arguments I disagree quite strongly at times, but whose approach to argument I respect and affirm:

"We must love them both, those whose opininions
we share and those whose opinions we reject.
For both have labored in the search for truth and
both have helped us in the finding of it."
- St. Thomas Aquinas

"They are not moral monsters. They are not Nazis or hatemongers. They are our colleagues and very often our friends. Many of them are doing their level best to think through the moral issues at the heart of our cultural struggle and arrive at conclusions that are right and just. They view themselves as partisans of a culture of freedom. In many cases, they carefully and honestly argue for those choices for death (as Dworkin himself calls them) whose moral worthiness they proclaim and whose legal permission and constitutional protection they defend. As a matter of reciprocity, it is, in my view, incumbent upon us, as their opponents, to engage them in debate, to answer their arguments, and to say why they are wrong. While we must oppose them with resolution and, indeed, determination to win, we cannot content ourselves merely to denounce them, as we would rightly denounce the moral monsters who created a different culture of death on the European continent in the 1930s and '40s."
- Robert George, The Clash of Orthodoxies

January 5th, 2005

Wars & Waves @ 09:45 pm

Currently Emoting: : contemplative contemplative

The 1990s were a decade of war in South-East Europe. As Yugoslavia turned into "former Yugoslavia," the splinter nations -- Serbia, Slovenia, Kosovo, Croatia, Albania etc. -- suffered and perpetrated displacement, violent conflict, extreme deprivation and genocide. Some of the most influential perpetrators of these crimes have since been brought to trial. The list of casualties is long and hotly disputed. Nearly ten years of unrest and suffering have left indelible marks on the Yugoslav peninsula.

During those years, I was for the most part living at the very doorstep of the crumbling Yugoslavia. My family's home stands a leisurely 20 mile drive from the border to Slovenia. Immigrants and exiles made their way into and through the country, moving on to Western Europe and America and leaving behind their ravaged pictures and horrific stories. I even remember the upheaval the invasion of neutral airspace by Serbian planes caused, when the entire country tensed in anticipation of having to take action against this perceived provocation.

At first, the media coverage of the conflicts, the victims, the bombed food and water supplies, the children being driven from their homes in this most close-to-home instance of "ethnic cleansing" was plentiful and sympathetic. Aid organizations sprang up and already established ones flourished. People gave plentifully and sacrificially. And it was summer and it was winter, year one.

By the second year, the media was a little more distractible, the editorials a little less plentiful, and the giving slacked off a tad. By year three, the trend continued -- less attention and less aid, and then much less attention and much less aid. And all the while we were living at the very border behind which a lot of the attention-worthy, aid-demanding events were happening.

These are, I suppose, my reflections with regard to the Tsunami. All over the world but especially in this country, people have been donating to the relief efforts in awesome and unprecedented ways, and I am deeply thrilled by this outpouring of money, assistance, prayer, and attention. My limited understanding of human nature tells me, though, that the people who gave in January will give less in February and by July will be quietly outraged that there could still be anything in need of financial assistance in the regions that in reality will take years to rebuild and repopulate.

Such a response is, I believe, quite normal: We were never wired to live in a world where everyone is connected to everyone else, where the fate of the world is a spectator sport and the fate of one's next-door neighbor is none of our business. "We blast through mountains to build roads," I overhead a man reflect tonight, "and we are surprised when the mountains blast back."

For this reason I also admit quite frankly that my emotional response to the disaster is non-existent: I cannot wrap my tiny mind around even a fraction of what happened; it simply passes comprehension. Hundreds of thousands of people are dead -- everyone I ever knew by name from the earliest days of my childhood until now could have been snatched away in an instant, and the number would still not even come close to that of the tsunami's victims.

I am therefore deeply suspicious of emotion as a guide for our actions towards others: On a good day, I feel love for friends and relatives, but on a bad day I can barely find a kind stirring towards those closest to me in my heart. How can I either expect of myself love for hundreds of thousands of strangers or make such "love" the guiding principle for compassionate action? My emotional attention span, much like that of the average American, needs to be fed by soundbites and pictures inspiring shock and awe every few minutes; in the absence of nearby explosions, battle-cries and the whirring of weapons, I must rely on CNN and FOX news to keep me sufficiently emotionally stimulated to feel like giving to those outside my immediate reach.

Instead, I believe we must cultivate and teach compassion to one another; to move "love" from the frothing decanter of our emotions to the conscious and unconscious realms of choice and action. How much of this will happen in the wake of the present disaster is hard to say; we are still only beginning to catch up with the rapid evolution and change of consciousness of the world. If the world is not merely a "hedonistic paradise" (J. Hick) but, as Irenaeus argued, a school in which we are presented with the opportunity to grow and mature and become more closely ourselves, events of this nature do not lose any of their devastation and horror but perhaps contain both a hope and a challenge.

Stretching @ 05:50 pm

Currently Emoting: : mischievous mischievous
Currently Consuming:: VoL -- Struggleville

Thanks to the vast and cheerful overconfidence of one of my professors, I suppose I will be one of the "experts" answering questions on evangelicalism before the American Jewish Committee in a couple of weeks. The scary part is that I barely qualify as evangelical and seem to spend roughly half of my time desperately trying to escape from evangelicalism.

When I pointed this out to the professor in question, he explained that he had thought of me in part because he wanted to "stretch" the AJC's perspective of evangelicals. "For starters," he quipped, "I'm a Democrat."

Well, well. Looks like he stretched my perspective on evangelicals right there ;)

January 2nd, 2005

Locust Years @ 08:20 pm

Currently Emoting: : cold cold
Currently Consuming:: Vigilantes of Love -- Locust Years

A couple of months ago I broke down and took advantage of the "free domain registration for readers of [a certain webcomic that shall remain nameless]!" offer I had sitting in my "to do some time" box o' stuff and since then there's been www.locustyears.com* -- the obligatory web-presence, the $5/month distinguishing characteristic between higher and lower primates (... the former being clearly superior by virtue of the knowledge that they don't *have* to shell out $5/month to be present on the web), the first domain I've ever owned and first website since my college days. Huzzah!

So, for now, there's nothing. Or rather -- there's merely a placeholder making empty promises for weeks on end. Ultimately, my aspiration is to wrangle a blog in place there that's a bit more polished, a touch more read-able and maybe a little lower on the emotional projectile vomiting, if you catch my drift. For now, though, that's purely academic ...

* The name, by the by, is a blatant song-reference, harkening back to Bill Mallonee's "Slow Dark Train" album and its wonderful opening tune "Locust Years."

Giving -- Early and Often @ 01:36 pm

Currently Emoting: : surprised surprised
Currently Consuming:: Bill Mallonnee -- My Year in Review

I am frequently thoroughly embarrassed by what the Church does, says or looks like. This morning, however, I was both honored and humbled by being able to sit under leaders, each of whom had already given $1,000 to the tsunami victims in Asia, to sit in the midst of a group of people who during the 9:00AM service gave in excess of $43,000 to the same cause, who over the course of one day and three services will hopefully be able to contribute more than $100,000 thereto. Reports of the death of the Macedonian spirit in our congregations are apparently exaggerated.

"Now, friends, I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches in Macedonia province. Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. I was there and saw it for myself. They gave offerings of whatever they could--far more than they could afford!- pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians.
This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives."
- 2nd Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 8:2-5

Professional Gadfly by day ...

... Consummate Student by night.