Friday, July 25, 2003

A Riddle, Not a Test

You can have vanilla, but not chocolate. You can have food but never eat. You could have a million dollars and still be poor because you can't have any money. You could go to Longwood College but not Virginia Tech, or you could go to Messiah College but not Eastern University. You could be Russian or Greek but not Orthodox. You can pee and poop but never wipe. You can have beer, but never wine. You could go to middle school but never graduate. You could be part of a rabble but not a mob. You could be a missionary but not a priest, or a volunteer but not an intern. You could live in the ghetto but not the slums. If you went to Minnesota, you could go to Minneapolis but not St. Paul. You could go to Tennessee, but never Kentucky. You could sleep, but if you did you could never wake. You can be immortal, but you could still be killed. You could be immoral but still sinless. You could see an operetta, but not the Mikado. You could listen to Beethoven, but not Mozart. You could play cello, but not violin, even though you couldn't use strings. No matter how much self-esteem you have, you could never have any confidence, even though you could be a winner but never a loser. You could visit Heddle or Tepper, but never Krempasky or Domenech. You could use Blogger, but not Movable Type. Dude, you could get a Dell, but you couldn't have the monitor or keyboard. Not only could you never check out any time you like, but you could never leave (not that you could have any of that 1969 vintage, anyway). You're free to puff tobacco or weed, even though you might get arrested (they couldn't put you in jail, however). You could have walls and a door, but no windows.

If you figure this out, you can leave a message in the comments, but you can't send me an email. Don't spoil it for others; make your proof difficult.

Friday, July 18, 2003

That's Right! A Rant!

Yes, you'd think that after two weeks dealing with twenty-some kids aged seven through eleven, I'd be ready to rant on that subject. You'd be very nearly right. However, no one, either student or teacher, is dead yet, so I consider that a success. Prayers, especially for me to find ways of motivating them instead of having to discipline them, would be very appreciated.

I'm going to rant about Catholics and Catholicism (by which I mean the group of Christians owing allegiance to the Pope...or Bishop of Rome, if you prefer). Except, I'm taking their side. Several times lately, I've heard things like "with 4.5 million Latinos in the Los Angeles area, it's heartbreaking that only .5% are Christians" and "yeah, it was my friend John, back before he was a Christian: when he was a Catholic." I regret that I didn't speak up, but I've got a mind to do so whenever it comes up again.

I call myself an Evangelical Anglican. It's a description fraught with problems, but it's the least-worst way I can find. Realistically, of course, if an American describes themselves as an Anglican rather than an Episcopalian (for those who don't know, the Episcopal Church USA is the American province of the Anglican Communion, a confederation of churches aligned with, not under, the See of Canterbury, and in pretty much all other countries the member churches call themselves Anglican -except Scotland, go figure-), you should suspect something is up, and that the person is either in the Evangelical or Anglo-Catholic wing of the denomination. The term "Evangelical" poses a bit of trouble, of course, since it makes it sound as though I'm a Protestant. I fully deny that I am such, just as I deny that I am a Catholic (or am Orthodox). Like very many Anglicans, I've considered leaving for a Protestant church or the Roman Catholic Church, and have even thought a little about the Orthodox. I've studied enough theology that I seriously doubt I'll leave the Anglican tradition, though, as I expect a schism in the next five years or so, I may leave the Anglican Communion. Among other things, while I don't believe priests are necessary, I don't believe in sola scriptura, either. Perhaps another time, we'll have a lament for what I expect to lose in a schism, but not right now. I tend to be very conscious of courtesy, and for me you need an extremely good reason to be rude, such as pushing people out of the way so a doctor can help a wounded person. I view God as my Lord, worthy of my obedience (because He is worthy of it, I happily attempt to give it of my own free will). I do not view Him as my friend, though He definitely helps me, protects me, and cares for me. At Bible Study recently, we were talking about what we thought it would be like if we were (metaphorically) at the Pearly Gates. Someone said they were looking forward to high-fiving Jesus. Let me be clear: I would rather gouge out my own eyes than ask Jesus to high-five me. I would fall prostrate, and regret not being able to get even lower. Simply being told to get up, with a "well done, thou good and faithful servant" would be very nearly more than I could bear. I don't think that it's necessarily wrong to want to be so close to any of the persons of God, but that sort of thinking could very easily lead to a "Jesus is my boyfriend" type of thinking.

I know enough of Catholic theology to be able to put up a reasonable defense of it when Protestants claim Catholics have no Scriptural support for their positions. For that matter, I also know enough of Reformed theology to make a defense when Catholics say Protestants have abandoned tradition (we Anglicans, of course, have both tradition and theology on our side...we just have trouble with adhering to them...). Just as Catholicism can very easily slide into legalism and ignorance of the meaning of rituals, Protestantism can very easily become rude and ignorant of the past. The problem Protestants face is that very often, they assume that any schmuck with a Bible can decipher complex theology. Now, I don't deny that anyone with reasonable mental abilities can follow at least the New Testament (in my view, the Old Testament should be an appendix to the New, or rather, several). Enough knowledge of the faith to be Saved can be acquired by just about anyone. If you're going to go into things like Eschatology (a worthless study, in my opinion) or Calvinism vs. Arminism (not a whole lot better), it takes a bit of chutzpah to say that you're smarter than centuries' worth of theologians. You may be right, but then, centuries' worth of mathmaticians may be wrong, and pi may actually be valued at six. Both are possible, but the more likely scenario is that the majority is correct.

Protestants should have far bigger fish to fry than Catholics (and vice versa). Atheists and the apathetic come rapidly to mind, not to mention the other people outside the Christian faith.

It does strike me, however, than the RCC isn't doing an outstanding job of educating their flock. Very many of my Protestant friends tell me stories about asking a priest why Catholics believe something, only to be told "I don't know" for things like why there is a need for a confessor or why they pray the Rosary. For pity's sake, I know the answers to those. It often seems as if it's still a Medieval faith, where parishioners are expected to be uneducated peasants. Of course, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Catholics have a far better reputation for helping the poor than Protestants (who often seem to prefer proclaiming the Gospel to living it; Earth to Protestants: unless you're in a place like Azerbaijan or Papua New Guinea, people usually have some sort of access to the Bible and Christian literature in their native language. Most Americans have at least a very basic idea of Christianity. Work on showing it, not talking about it.). For some people, especially the Medieval peasants of centuries ago, the most that might be expected was to recognize God as the Supreme Lord. If they pray the Rosary and kiss episcopal rings, it's a failure of education, not of devotion, and can be easily rectified in this life or the next. I'm more worried about Protestants, who too often show less devotion than they ought.

I'm not sure I've said anything of substance, but I'm glad to have it out of my system. If you've got thoughts about the contents, that I'm an idiot, or anything like that, don't hesitate to leave them in the Comments section.

Monday, July 07, 2003


Well, among other things, I've safely arrived in Chester. I did end up getting sideswiped by an 18-wheeler in an incident of Road Rage, but both the car and the self are okay (other than a damaged mirror and tire skids along my passenger side). I tried to follow him to get his insurance info, but he saw me behind him and delayed just long enough at a yellow light to leave me behind. Of course, I did end up getting his tags, so I called his state's DMV, which gave me the name of the owner of the trailer. I then called that person, and they told me to which company they'd leased it. I've filed a report with the police, so we'll see what happens.

My roommates, Barry and Andrew, were gone when I arrived, returned later, and are now gone again for two weeks to New Mexico with some of the kids on a mission to the Navajo. Their house is a pigsty (yes, it's bad when I say that about a place), and I've been tidying it up a bit.

I ended up visiting Philadelphia Biblical University, which seemed like a nice enough place, without that eerie Fundamentalist tinge that some schools have. I mean, it's good to have a strong Christian influence, but sometimes it's just taken a little far. It's something between endearing and a little pitiful when the admissions person (a very nice girl, by the way) talks about things their school has of which your school has about three, and they're all bigger. It reminds me of when I was looking at colleges and some school from the Midwest used "pretty campus" as a major selling point. I looked at them, and essentially told them that this is Virginia, and most of the schools have pretty campuses. Still, PBU seems like a very nice, non-eerie school. Of course, I'd have to take classes in Bible before I'd be able to attend, which would up the cost of the education, so I may simply try and go for Penn State or something like that.

On July 3rd, Barry, Andrew, Erin, Renee (other missionaries), and I went to the Phillies-Cubs game. I can't remember the last time I saw a game where I had absolutely no stake in either team, and it was an interesting experience. The Phillies won by something like 11-2, and then there were fireworks. I'm younger than all the regular missionary teachers, as most of them are between 26 and 29, discounting Vicki and Barry, who are respectively 23 and 24. Luckily, most of them are even less mature than I am, so things work out well.

Today was extremely tiring. I want a nap. It's hard to be a disciplinarian, but if you start hard, you can ease up later on. If you simply give in all the time, the kids are going to take advantage of you. The biggest thing was making them walk up and down the stairs several times until they got it right, which they hated, but which eventually worked. Of course, being very tired, I had some interesting exchanges.

Student: "[another student]'s trying to kill me out there [in the gym]!"
Me: "Well, come get me if they succeed."

What Another Teacher Said: "Who can tell me about serving size?" [they were learning about the Food Pyramid]
What I Heard: "Who can tell me about being circumcised?"

Again, I need a nap. Probably some Ramen and some Tropical Sprite Remix, too.

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