Sunday, October 30, 2005

New links...

I've updated my links list with some new blogs that I've grown to enjoy. Most of these people are affiliated with my creative writing class in some way. That means that that list on the right is like the on-ramp to the creative superhighway you've been hearing so much about. (Okay, so maybe you haven't heard, but if not, then it's your fault for running with the wrong crowds.)

First is my creative writing professor's. I've referenced her work many times and thought to myself, "Self, why not just put her blog in the link list? That's a splendid idea, self. Wait, we can't both be self, that's confusing! Well, I was self first, so you can just leave!" I can't remember much else after that but now I've got a crazy headache and a hankerin' for some pintos and rice.

Next comes Toph. In creative writing, his work is always fun to read and pretty novel stuff. Not like an actual novel, because we're limited to one page. Although I'm sure he could write a novel. I'm sure he could do just about anything if he'd only apply himself. (How many times did he hear that from teachers growing up? Wait, that was me.)

Leani is an excellent writer from South Africa and always has a fresh perspective on America, Texas, Dallas. Can you believe that not everything we do here is normal? I know, that may take a while to soak in.

Jacob is just flat out funny. He makes our entire class laugh out loud numerous times each day. Which is really great because I know a guy in the Hebrew class that meets next door. Apparently, while they're slaving away trying to read and reproduce chicken scratch, we're howling like a bunch of banshees. Kind of fun knowing we're frustrating the scholars.

Then comes Jacob (see above, if you haven't, but if you haven't ask yourself what kind of a person doesn't read a blog in order) and Ben (which is not me because my name is Benji, and we're different people). Their blog is good times, too. Not good x 2, which is different and stunningly difficult to solve.

So, there they are. There is another blog that I'm anxiously awaiting adding to the links list, but have been informed "it's not ready." When it is, expect fun times.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The lesson I learned today...

Let me tell you how God is good.

I worked in a 4th grade class today. After spending the weekend writing my paper (which I finished in a succinct 33 pages, thank you), I had much to do at school yesterday to catch up in Greek and last night to catch up with my online lectures. Then, of course, Game 3 went extra innings and even though I didn’t see the whole thing, I still hit the pillow well after midnight. Frankly, when all was said and done, I was whipped. I had zero desire to work in a 4th grade class.

I really don’t enjoy teaching elementary school. I prefer high school and middle school. They function, they cope. Elementary school kids cling and need. Not my idea of good times after the past couple of days. I wanted ease. High school = ease. I even prayed that God would get me an easy high school job. I’m not above admitting my selfish prayers. But no such job came. I kept checking the website, calling the sub lady at the district, nothing. No high school. 4th grade it is. I changed my prayer and asked God to make me a good sub in this less than ideal situation.

The morning got off to a rocky start. I got up early, but still left the house in a rush. The guy in front of me at Starbucks took a long time to examine his coffee beans, then paid via credit card. Nothing rapid about this man. It didn’t help when I realized that I’d left my substitute ID at home and had to ask Greta to bring it to me.

When I got to school, I was a little frazzled, but here’s where things got better. The real teacher was there for a minute before she left for her meeting, and assured me she had a good class. She then told me that it should be an easy day; small class (only 19), well-behaved kids, art for 45 minutes first thing in the morning, a visit from the counselor for 45 minutes later in the morning, half-hour lunch, half-hour at the library after lunch, a 40 minute video followed by a half-hour recess to close the day. Simply, the ease I was looking for. Humbling.

I had painted “ease” into a corner. I asked God for exactly what I thought would bring me ease. He showed me that He’s greater than my plans. Even when He chooses to bless me, which He doesn’t have to do, He can bring me what I ask for in ways I can’t imagine. He reasserts His sovereignty in little and big ways. God is good to me even when I’m difficult, demanding and needy. In other words, when I’m acting like the elementary school student.

I’m so thankful that He didn’t beg out of my day.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

How I spent my Saturday...

So, I thought I'd give y'all a little glimpse at how I spent my Saturday.

I had a little something called an argument paper that needed my attention. Those are the resources I used. I spent roughly 7 hours on it. Still not done. Ugh. At least I've got until Tuesday at midnight.

Right now, though, the World Series is on, and I'm watching. Books put away, crtl-s for the paper until tomorrow, baseball on the telly box. Things are good. Besides that, I've missed the Series. They didn't have it last year, right? I don't recall seeing one.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Random seminary thoughts...

Today, while walking toward the library, I saw a black dog running free on campus. Just cruising along checking out the plants and the people, he seemed rather content. Here in seminary, contentment may not be in short supply, but it's dwindling like Sly Stallone's believability in Rocky VI. I smiled as I watched the dog, not knowing how soon my smile would erupt into something louder. The dog meandered this way, then that way, until he found some bushes. Then, he squatted and delivered. Yeah, what can brown do for you? I started laughing so hard. Something about seeing an animal so completely free of pretension that he was willing to drop a load in the bushes at THE Dallas Theological Seminary that produced sheer laughter and a little envy. Not envy for what you're thinking, potty head. Envy because I never feel that free and comfortable in my own skin on campus. Envy because I constantly obsess over what I wear, how I look, sound and smell that I bother myself. Leave it to an animal to teach me something about contentment. Speaking of the animals...

I've been reading Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek for my creative writing class. If you've never read her, you should. You'll either find that you love her, or that it's a great exercise in following through on what you've started no matter the cost. In PaTC, she won the Pulitzer for basically talking about nature for 200+ pages. Now, I'm not a particularly huge fan of "nature," per se, owing primarily to my aversion to sleeping in the dirt, but this book is interesting. If I can grant Dillard nothing else, I at least have to grant that she seems to know how to see in ways that I can't, or just choose not to. She spends pages relating the sheer morbid experience of mating praying mantises. She talks in depth about microscopic organisms that few others would bother more than a paragraph on. And it's all because she sees. She sees beauty and intricacy and value in unlikely places. She's got me wishing I could see.

My creative writing professor broke her collarbone in a freak accident on Tuesday night. You can read all about it on her blog. Please pray for her.

On Tuesday, my Old Testament History prof showed us a bunch of relics and such from Israel. Some of the stuff was dated to be about 3,000 years old. Yeah, from 1,000 bc. Pretty crazy. He had pottery, a couple small idols, a spear shaft and stuff like that. And then he passed around a bag with bones in it. Human bones. Like from some Israelite's hand. How incredibly creepy will it be when the resurrection comes and that dude needs that again?

That's all for now. I'm supposed to be writing a paper. A laptop with wireless internet just seems like it should be put to more fun uses than that.

Word of the day: revenant, n, "one who returns after death or a long absence"
Like the one-handed Israelite.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sports-heavy randomness...

I know I haven't posted anything in a while, so here goes. Another installation of the randomness rolling through my brain. It will be a little sports-heavy, but, Nicole and Greta, please keep reading.

I can't rationally discuss the Yankees. I tend to dissolve into an incoherent mess. I do know that they have major needs to address in the offseason, and no matter what the guy with the THICK New York accent wants you to think, trading A-Rod is not one of them. Without him, the Yanks don't make the playoffs. Let's not forget that.'s rather frustrating to see three former Yankees starters mowing through folks in the postseason. Andy Pettite, Roger Clemens and Jose Contreras all look good. Would we like to have any of the three at the moment? Uh, yeah.

Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi is coming back to play just months after suffering a stroke. Yeah, a stroke! He's in his early 30's and in great shape and had some inexplicable stroke. Crazy. Originally he was going to sit out the entire season, but apparently doctors have cleared him. So, here's why this matters: It's clear that the starring role in the Tedy Bruschi Story ESPN movie will go to Mario Lopez. He's already played Greg Louganis and the immortal A.C. Slater. But, who gets cast around him? Ashton Kutcher as Tom Brady? The Unabomber as Bill Belichick? This is when the voyeurs need to rise up and comment. (I know you are out there, too. You just come for a peek, but never let anyone know you were here.) Now is the time for my sporting friends to band together, rise up and complete the casting call.

Albert Pujols is ridiculous. Even if you're an Astros fan, you had to feel that last night's monster-bomb was inevitable in that situation. What wasn't inevitable, however, was the 1,000 feet that ball would travel and the ensuing hole it punched in the ozone layer.

I HATE USC. You all just need to know that. (I realize hate is a strong word, but I only used it because I can't think of one stronger.) Their win in South Bend on Saturday was sickening. Mostly because they looked super-beatable, the Irish looked like they were just supposed to win, I was already jumping up and down thinking they had, and then Matt Leinart spun like a top, holding the ball in space and nobody stopped him, knocked the ball loose or punched him in the throat. Mostly because of that.

Non-sports nugget: I love registering for new classes. I get to do so today, and it's one of the highlights of the semester for me. For some reason, I dig the idea that I'm in control for a while. The only downside is that every time I register for the next semester, without fail I'm ready for the current one to end. Problem. But worry not for me. I will carry on.

Word of the day: flaneur, n, one who strolls about aimlessly, a lounger, a loafer
Just say this word for a while. Fun for the whole tongue! The fact that it has legitimate conversational value is simply gravy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Numbing the ache...

We just returned from a wonderful weekend in Southern California. We spent the time eating, talking with friends, and just enjoying “home.” And as great as it was to be there, I feel like crap today. Not your typical post-vacation tired feeling (although there’s plenty of that going around, too), but something deeper and more powerful.

California is wonderful (no matter what the Texans say), but all is not right. I’m not talking government, politics, wildfires or value systems, I’m talking life. Even though I can’t possibly imagine a more beautiful and wonderful place than California, like every other temporary paradise, sometimes it stinks like hell.

This world cannot possibly be home for those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers. I think God wants me to constantly remember this fact. I can almost hear the Spirit whisper in my ear, “Don’t get too comfortable, because this isn’t it.” Peter called us “aliens and strangers in this world” and I’ve never felt that more tangibly than now.

Switchfoot says “I don’t belong here/It feels like I don’t belong here.” We don’t, in fact, belong here. We were created for something greater and more beautiful than this sin-stained and broken world. Every glimpse of anything beautiful is an undeserved reminder of the amazing grace of God.

Celebrate the moments where unexpected and undeserved beauty breaks through the clouds of this ugly and barren world. Thank God for grace and that He has prepared a place for us where He will finally wipe every tear from our eye. That, my friends, is what I hope for.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

3 reasons I love October...

1. Baseball's playoffs are, by far, the best in professional sports. Football only plays once a week, basketball takes 3 months and hockey, honestly, who cares? But baseball is a nightly event for three weeks in October. Great pitching matchups (like tonight, Clemens vs. Smoltz), big drama, fun storylines (like will defending champs Boston be swept by Chicago, will the upstarts in Houston win on pitching), baseball provides it all. Having the Yankees in the playoffs obviously helps (more on them later).

2. The weather is getting more reasonable all the time. Although in Texas, to get to reasonable there must be a 30 degree drop overnight with a chance of thunderstorms, but hey, at least it's not 98 anymore (at least until next week).

3. My Dad's birthday, on the 14th. (Had to include that one if I was going to retain any future hope of gifts on my birthday)

As promised...

The Yanks give me fits, but I'm excited about where they're at right now. Tied 1-1 with the Rally Monkeys of Northern Hemisphere, West Coast Of America, Southern California, Orange County, Los Angeles, But Not Really Cause We're Actually In Anaheim, going back to the Bronx with Unit on the hill. I'm liking it. Now, if the bats could wake up a little, especially near the top of the order, and if Ruben Sierra can continue to hold down his crucial spot at left bench, I like the looks of things. Also, I'm glad they're going back to the Bronx because, hopefully, this means the end of games that start at 9pm and end the next morning. (Should be an interesting night class tonight, thank God for caffeine.)

Word of the Day:
soporific, adj, "causing sleep, tending to cause sleep"

Although this word sounds like a measurement you'd use to determine the worthiness of a roll for Rudy's bar-be-cue, its real appeal lies in the fact that you could probably get away with using it on someone who bored you because they'll think you used some version of "terrific." Por ejemplo;

"So, Ted, what'd you think of my presentation to the board on how cutting back on the use of staples and using more paper clips would save the company money?"
"Well, Mike, I thought it was simply soporific."
"Gee, thanks!"
"Don't mention it."

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Having trouble with my vision...

As many of you know, I am currently attending Dallas Theological Seminary, which I love most of the time. However, there are definitely times when I struggle feeling like the proverbial square peg. Allow me to explain.

Within our degree plan, we have ministry tracks, which are like mini-majors. For example, while getting a Master's in Theology degree, one could be on a Pastoral Ministries track, or a World Missions track or something of the like. I am on a Media Arts in Ministry track, which is very different than any of the others. It is different because it is broad. Now this broadness is both a good and a bad thing. It's good because it allows for us creative types to have some freedom and not be shoved into any box. It's bad because it allows for us creative types to have some freedom and not be shoved into any box. At times I think I would welcome a box.

It seems to me that most of the people walking around campus have their plans figured out. They know what they want to do, and when and where they want to do it. Although James warned against such presumption, it is also kind of a nice security. I, on the other hand, am like Linus without my blanket. I have no such plan.

The other day a dear friend of mine asked what I wanted to do when I left seminary. I refrained from saying, "Sit down with a beer," because I'm sure he was thinking long-term. I had to confess that I don't know. The problem is that I want to do too much. I want to impact our culture with Truth in so many different ways that most days they all just runtogetherinablur. So, I gave him a bunch of the ideas running through my head. Funny, he seemed fascinated and excited by what typiclly leaves me frustrated. His reaction was therapeutic for me.

The truth is, I don't have to have it all mapped out for me, although that would be nice. I do, however, have the responsibility to be faithful where God has brought me and be a good steward of the gifts He's seen fit to entrust into my care. So what if I don't know if I'll be a pastor, a teacher, a writer, or a whatever. (Even in writing that list, I see that it's not really as long as I tend to think.) God knows, and I guess that's good for me, for today.

He knows His plans. He knew when Joseph was in prison. He knew when Moses was in the desert. He knew when Job was in pain. He knew when Esther was in the king's harem. He knew when Israel was in exile. He knew when Judas was one of the 12. He knew when His Son sweated drops of blood and begged for the cup to be taken from Him. So, since I am surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, I guess I can comfortably conclude that He knows now, while Benji is in seminary.

Word of the Day:
encomium, n, high or glowing praise
Think how much fun you can have with a word that sounds like the name of an antacid, but actually means praise instead. "The lobster bisque was so great, I didn't have enough encomium to last through the meal."

P.S. Yes, Virginia, the Yankees did win the AL East yesterday. No, there was never any doubt on my part.