Paper for Spanish Mysticism

Someone asked if I was posting my papers to my blog... and I thought, "wait, I still have a blog?" So, if anyone still is reading this, here is a paper from the end of this semester. 10 pager for Readings in Spanish Mysticism. Enjoy:

Apophatic theology is often a touchstone for controversy in Introduction to Theology or Christian Heritage classes. The concept of meaning something by positing and then negating it seems foreign and, to some, meaningless. It is my contention that negative theology anticipates 20th century philosophical hermeneutics in its method, and to a certain extent, its goals. Through an in depth look at the apophatic discourse in the first twelve stanzas of St. John’s florid and descriptive writing, The Spiritual Canticles, I will demonstrate how the author’s use of unsaying and apophasis create an excess of meaning that encourage the devotee to push past the bounds of language and sense into the realm of new spiritual possibilities. In this essay, I will first explore contemporary theories regarding historical Christian negative theology, drawing primarily on the works of Denys Turner and Michael Sells. I will then connect historical Christian negative theologians to 20th century philosophical hermeneutics in the work of John Caputo and Jacques Derrida, by demonstrating the correlation between their method and the method of apophatic Christian theologians. I will use Caputo’s own words to move forward with confidence regarding the explicated parallels between St. John’s writings and Caputian/Derridean deconstruction. In the end, I will show how, despite a widely divergent context, St. John accomplishes very similar goals to Caputo’s using a correlating method of unsaying.

The mainstream of the Christian creedal tradition has almost always affirmed the existence of a God “in the highest.” The Western (and neo-Platonic) concepts of what a god essentially is combined with the Judeo-Christian idea of the one, true God to form concept of the transcendent Godhead – that part of God which is utterly inaccessible to creation, unless revealed by God’s self. The very concept of this transcendence, however, is rooted in an aporia, an “unresolvable dilemma,” for the “transcendent must be beyond names, ineffable.” One way of responding to this paradox is an acceptance of it, which, “instead of leading to silence, leads to a new mode of discourse… called negative theology.” Negative theology, or apophasis, is essentially a way of speaking of the unspeakable. Apophasis literally means “speaking away,” or “unsaying.” Unsaying always already requires saying, for the goal of apophasis is not to say nothing, but to demonstrate—in a sense, to perform—the excess of meaning that overflows from language. Negative theology does not seek to simply deny the ability of language to convey meaning, but desires to push past language into more meaning.

Importantly, negative theology can never be purely negative. One cannot “speak away” without also and always “speaking towards.” Apophatic and cataphatic language are thus caught up intimately and intricately at the very base level of their existence. One cannot speak without silence, else all is noise; nor can one only remain silent, else nothing exists. Denys Turner goes as far as to say that it is “this interplay of negativity and affirmation which structures all theological discourse precisely as theological.” Indeed,
The apophatic is not given in some negative vocabulary which takes over from the affirmative when we get a mystical urge; it is not engaged in by means of some negative chasing game with the affirmative up the ladder of speech about God, thus at the top either to win or to lose out to the affirmative.

Apophasis, then, does not seek to mute or to silence positive claims, but to work with them to transcend into that which cannot be truly spoken. While it is tempting then to subsume all language into one unified method, it is important to maintain the distinction between the two modes – cataphatic and apophatic – in order to better understand what is happening in a text. In fact, this “interplay of negation and affirmation... [is] the defining characteristic of the medieval apophatic mystical tradition.”

The apophatic Christian tradition runs from Pauline epistles all the way up through contemporary Christian negative theologians. Interestingly, another form of apophasis has developed in the field of recent and contemporary philosophy, especially hermeneutics and linguistic philosophy. Michael Sells notes that “the question of apophasis in our own cultural world becomes particularly intriguing in view of the burgeoning of contemporary languages of the unsayable.” Two major figures in this trend are Jacques Derrida and John D. Caputo. A detailed analysis of either of these figures would require an expansive volume; however, since Caputo often speaks for Derrida as well as himself in his work, More Radical Hermeneutics, this essay will focus primarily on this particular text. At the root of Caputo’s hermeneutics is the concept of the Secret. If there is a secret unitary truth behind all meaning, we are not in on it. The “absolute secret keeps things safely secreted away … in principle;” or “even if the secret is, there is no Secret.” The inability to access that which could theoretically unify meaning in effect nullifies any hope for an originary unity of meaning. This deconstructive move sets up the non-foundation for both Derrida and Caputo: “the passion of the secret and of non-knowledge.” Caputo, then, establishes that any one text claiming to explain that-which-is-behind-it-all must be exposed for the fraud that it is.

In order to do this, Caputo—in an examination of the nature of the Secret—defines and describes the concepts of Derridean diffĂ©rance and Caputian devilish-ness. If the other is “safe on a shore we will never reach,” then the other is actually tout autre, wholly other. As the secret keeps us from possessing or wrongly claiming the other for ourself, so too with God, the name of the wholliest/Holiest other, where the “absolute secret keeps us safe.” The Secret, to Caputo, is not the problem, but the solution. Just as the impenetrable abyss between our self and the other leads to a pursuit of the endlessly withdrawing other, so too does the absolute Secret keep us always progressing, seeking, moving. The Secret is the tool of deconstruction, and Caputo’s “radical hermeneutics [is] a kind of intellectual fire department that arrives on the scene to douse the flames of essentialism wherever they flare up and threaten to consume us.” This abyss, this absolute secret, “leaves us on our knees, praying like mad…”

As Derrida acknowledged, one must deconstruct from within the structures which one is always already located. Or in Caputo’s words, “we have said yes to language before we say yes to anything else… we are caught up in the secret, but not in on The Secret.” This unavoidable conundrum does not effect a giving up on the task of finding meaning, as some might do (and have done), but instead leads Caputo to claim that “we get the best results if we do not dodge the arrows of the trace, the displacement of the subject, the dissemination of meaning, the real difficulty in factical life.” In other words, we lean into the abyss, while always already acknowledging its impenetrability. In this leaning, we participate in the world of meaning.

It is this leaning into the abyss, this “praying like the devil,” that John of the Cross proposes in the first twelve stanzas of The Spiritual Canticles. These first twelve stanzas are the section of the text wherein the bride, who is the soul, is engaged in the search for her Beloved, who is God. While the second and third sections of the work might present a more challenging connection to philosophical hermeneutics and thus possibly more unique insight, this first section connects clearly and fundamentally with the method of unsaying, and thus sets up the rest of the text as springing from (and indeed returning to) unsaying. In this text, St. John employs the same concept of the inaccessible Secret throughout his writings, in order to underscore the inadequacy of language. St. John also describes the ways in which this unknowing, this felt absence, actually draws the soul on toward the Secret, rather than repulsing it. Finally, St. John makes it abundantly clear that this searching for that which cannot be found is not an act of futility, but the ultimate goal of the human soul.

The Secret, for St. John, is clearly the transcendent essence of God. For the “substance of the secrets is God himself, for God is the substance and concept of faith, and faith is the secret and the mystery.” It is important to note that while St. John did speak of this “secret” God, John was always already caught up in the practice of Catholic Christianity in early modern Spain. Thus, St. John does not toss out the window all the positive claims to knowing God in the Eucharist, through grace, and the other sacraments. Instead, working within the framework of Christianity, John undermines claims of absolute experience of God’s essential nature, or full knowledge thereof. St. John is explicit about this idea, saying that “all the knowledge of God possible in this life, however extensive it may be, is inadequate, for it is only partial knowledge and very remote.” Yet, as St. John explains, God has left “some trace of who he is” in the created order. This trace does not satisfy our soul, however, but actually creates the desire for the full knowledge of God we, by his own definition, cannot have in this life.

This hiddenness is part of the very quality of the Beloved, according to St. John. For even if one enters a hiding place where a treasure lays secreted away, the treasure-hunter becomes hidden along with the treasure, rather than vice-versa. For despite the fact that the Secret Beloved is hidden within the very soul which seeks him, “he is hidden.” Therefore, any experience of the Beloved, of the Secret God, will be experienced in secret, “in a way transcending all language and feeling.” Thus, the Secret that is sought after will not be exposed when found, but will instead draw the seeker into secrecy. Even the “saintly doctors, no matter how much they have said or will say, can never furnish an exhaustive explanation… since the abundant meanings of the Holy Spirit cannot be caught in words.” This inability to put into words what is hidden does not lead to silence, however, but to an “overflow in figures, comparisons, and similitudes,” which “from the abundance of their spirit pour out secrets and mysteries rather than rational explanations.” Therefore, John’s commentary on his poem is an explanation of the secret experience of the hidden God, although “there is no reason to be bound to this explanation.”

Furthermore, the hiddenness of the Secret Beloved does not lead to silence or despair. Instead, when the soul is “wounded with love through a trace of the beauty of her Beloved, which she has known through creatures,” she desires that which is impossible in this life, to know the fullness of the beauty of her Beloved. Love and longing are tied intimately together in this scenario, as the soul’s love for the hidden Beloved causes the soul “sorrow at his absence.” This sorrow will not be fully abated in this life. Instead, the absence of the Beloved constantly and continually wounds the soul who loves him. The language of absence is not an atheistic metaphor, though, since “just as the ‘mystical’ is … characterized by its transcendence of both affirmation and negation, so too are the signs of presence and the signs of absence equally signs, are equally material conditions which signify.” Therefore, St. John negates his own affirmation of absence by reassuring the soul that God is actually always and already within the soul, although perfectly hidden. Thus absence and hiddenness are conflated into a quasi-absence of God, wherein the loving soul “must suffer her Beloved’s absence” but still always asks where he has hidden.

The soul, being wounded by the quasi-absent God, suffers and seeks, suffering while seeking, seeking the quasi-presence of her hidden/present Beloved bridegroom. This predicament is portrayed by John as a state of “moaning,” wherein the soul, having been wounded by love, moans for the one who wounded her. This intensely imagistic depiction, so reminiscent of bodily sexuality, is a reminder that John is caught in the same struggle between “facticity” and the “other,” who is God. St. John attempts to depict the absent, hidden God’s fleeting encounters in such a way that captures the intensity and desire felt by the soul, and thus turns to a cataphatic description of bodily sensuality. The soul is struck by “arrows,” which are “touches of love” that “impregnate the soul and heart with the knowledge of God.” Through the use of the clearly physical language of sexual physicality, St. John effectively “pour[s] out secrets and mysteries rather than rational expalanations.” Sells points out that “birth and sexual union are two human experiences that have commonly been associated with the overcoming of subject-object dichotomy,” and St. John does this through the whole of his poem and commentary, by placing the soul’s search for God in the contextual framework of the Song of Songs. This erotic language, however, is complicated – if not contradicted – by St. John’s self-gendering and the Beloved’s quasi-absence, thus creating another aporia. For, having established that all his attempts at description will fall short, St. John’s descriptions self-consciously look beyond themselves to a deeper meaning than the literal. Thus, despite the physical, embodied language (or more precisely, because of it), the reader does not attempt to extrapolate a rational explanation, but instead leans into the same abyss as the soul in the text. The reader does not explain away the physical erotic analogy, but participates in it through reading it and allowing it to contradict itself.

In the act of reading and participating in the excess of meaning created by the cataphatic and apophatic language of St. John, the devotee also leans into the abyss of the hidden Beloved. Caputo points to this “hope against hope,” or praying against all odds, as the mode of being/understanding in which one encounters the tout autre. Both Caputo and St. John do not cease their prayer when encountering the infinite other-ness, but instead press even harder into the abyss. St. John takes care to caution his readers:
Do not be like the many foolish ones who, in their lowly understanding of God, think that when they do not understand, taste, or experience him, he is far away and utterly concealed. The contrary belief would be truer. The less distinct is their understanding of him, the closer they approach him, since in the words of the prophet David, he made darkness his hiding place… Thus in drawing near him you will experience darkness because of the weakness of your eye.
Caputo, similarly, discourages hesitation at the edge of this unknowing, instead claiming that this mystery goes “hand in hand with desire, with the desire of language, the language of desire, with what Derrida in one place calls the ‘promise’ inscribed in language.” Both Johns encourage their readers to press into the great Secret of unknowing.

While it is clear that St. John believed that the hidden God to whom one presses into is undoubtedly the Christian God, John also firmly believed in maintaining the absolute mystery of the hidden Beloved. Although negative theologians such as John are often “accused of posing a ‘being’ beyond being, a kind of metabeing,” any reference to this metabeing is undone “by a disorienting … of standard rules of reference and antecedence.” John uses language that turns back in on itself, and in doing so, keeps any absolute claims from “hardening into a fixed system.” Thus, John performs a de-constructive theology in the text, by “pushing language to its very limits, to its breaking point.” This broken-language is not the divine speaking absolute truths beyond reproach, but is the “language of our desire for, our affirmation of the tout autre.” For despite St. John’s saintly status, he does only that which any of us can and should do: pray for the impossible.

The practitioner of mystical prayer has not been hoisted aloft by some Extraterrestial Secret and absolved from the human condition; she has not been relieved of the difficulties of factical life. Mystics who fall to their knees before the living God in praise and prayer develop calluses on their knees and in any case pull their pants on one leg at a time. They are, like the rest of us, doing the best they can in an impossible situation, all along praying for the impossible.

(for citations, email me, and I will send you the .doc file)


Paper for World Religions

This is the paper I wrote for my World Religions Class, in which one assignment was to visit another faith's worship center. Jaimie and I visited a Synagogue. Enjoy!

In the beginning, there was Judaism. Before Guatama Buddha sat under his tree, before Jesus of Nazareth walked the shores of Galilee, and before Mohammed gathered a new community around him, there was Judaism. The historical and ancient nature of Judaism has always appealed to me. Far from being monolithic, Judaism has existed in many forms since Abraham first listened to the whisper of a monotheistic G-d; however, the consistency and continuity of this great world religion reaches further than any other faith tradition that I am aware of. It was with this in mind that I chose to focus my project on Judaism rather than the other world religions we have studied.

Over the past few years, I have studied the Jewish roots of Christianity, the Hebrew Bible, and even mystical trends in the history of the Jewish tradition. Although I have not studied the Hebrew language, I still felt reasonably comfortable talking about Judaism and its constituents. I felt as if a trip to a Synagogue would be a relatively comfortable experience, enriching me while furthering what I thought I already knew. Fortunately, in the process of a weekend worship experience, I found myself challenged to reconfigure my own interpretations of Judaism and my relationship with it.

When I chose Judaism as my study, I first looked at what services were offered. The typical Shabbat (Sabbath) service is the Saturday morning service held in most synagogues. This service is held weekly for the community to gather on Shabbat and celebrate and remember G-d on that the weekly day of rest. There was also the Friday evening service, in which the community gathers to welcome the Shabbat as one would welcome a bride or a queen – this service is driven by the idea that one must set apart the Shabbat day (having a lunar calendar, the Jewish day begins at sundown, and lasts until the Sun sets again). This Shabbat service contains a song written by medieval Kabbalists, and although Kabbalah is not always orthodox within Judaism, this song is a sign of the tremendous influence Kabbalistic practice had on later Judaic practices. It was due to my exposure to Kabbalah through my Monotheistic Mysticism class that I decided to attend the Friday evening service as opposed to the Saturday morning service, as several of my readings regarding the Shabbat queen were profoundly beautiful.

Although the assignment only called for us to visit a worship center one evening, due to my previous study of Judaism, I did not feel that visiting a gathering in the Synagogue would be an adequate experience of Jewish worship. Therefore, I sat down with my wife and we decided to engage the Shabbat experience as fully as possible. We decided to set apart our Friday evening through Saturday evening and to fulfill as many mitzvot as we were able. I believe that the Jews worship G-d through their entire structure and rhythm of living, so we set out to join them in worshipping G-d through our lives as well.

Interestingly, when I began looking at a potential weekend for our Shabbat experience, I noticed a rare occurrence in the Jewish calendar. This year, on the weekend of April 18th, the day before Pesach (Passover) fell on a Shabbat. While this may not seem to be a problem at first glance, one must actually follow extra special rules in order to properly fulfill all of the halakah regarding both Shabbat and Erev Pesach (Passover Eve). With this in mind, my wife and I decided to fully engage this conundrum by having our own Seder family meal on Saturday night. This would entail extra preparation, as the Shabbat proscribes cooking, among other things.

I had high hopes for this experience. I did not know exactly how things would turn out, but I hoped to see my wife and I find elements of the Jewish tradition that we could identify with, bring into our own faith journeys, and use them to better articulate our understanding of religion and the role it plays in our lives. While these were my vocalized – if selfish – plans, my overarching goals for the weekend were to join together with the ancient-modern Jewish community, connect to the deepest religious roots the world has to offer, and to share in their remembrance and observation of their storied and difficult past.

After learning as much as I could about the context of the religion that we were about to encounter, my wife and I set about preparing for our Shabbat and Seder. It is tradition that on Erev Pesach, the firstborns in the family fast. The fast of the firstborn is usually ended at the Seder meal; however, due to the restriction against fasting on the Shabbat, on this occasion the Fast of the Firstborn was moved to the Thursday before Erev Pesach, rather than on Friday, in order to be able to obey the restrictions regarding both Shabbat and Erev Pesach. Also moved to Thursday because of this rare situation was the cleaning of the Chametz (yeast) from the house. Every year on Erev Pesach, the family cleans their entire household of all chametz in order to be kosher for the week of Pesach. This entails even sweeping the kitchen for crumbs, collecting all chametz, and burning it in a ceremony. Here is where we ran into our first stumbling block. My wife and I don’t have a lot of bread in the first place, but we do have many items that contain chametz. With this in mind, we decided to clean our house in a symbolic gesture (pointing to the ritual nature of the cleaning of the chametz). We straightened up and cleaned, swept and wiped the floors and counters, and vacuumed. We did not burn the chametz, sadly.

However, that was only one component of our Thursday night activities. Since my wife works on Friday, and since we were entering Shabbat on Friday evening, we had to cook three meals on Thursday evening in order to avoid cooking on Shabbat. We prepared fire-roasted tortilla soup for our Seder dinner, homemade chicken salad for our Shabbat lunch and a special fish recipe for our Shabbat dinner. After an exhausting night of cooking and cleaning, we went to bed ready to engage our first Jewish weekend.

Obviously, our joining with the Jewish community in worship began when I began my fast on Thursday and when we cleaned the house on Thursday night. By engaging in these practices we felt somewhat plugged in by the time I picked up my wife on Friday evening to drive to the Synagogue. When we arrived at Anshai Torah in Plano a few minutes before the time the service was to start, we both felt a little anxious. I had contacted the Rabbi of this synagogue several weeks prior, but hadn’t heard back from him as he apparently was on vacation the week leading up to this particular Shabbat. As we walked in, we felt immediately unsure of ourselves. I found the bin of loaner yarmulkes for visitors and placed one lightly on my head. We wandered into the gathering place for worship, grabbed a worship book from a large bookshelf on our left, and found our seat in a pew. The pews were laid out in a semi-ovular shape, with the Rabbi’s pulpit in the middle of the pews, creating an effect wherein all of the worshippers were both facing each other, the Rabbi, and slightly facing the beautiful art and windows on the main wall of the synagogue. My wife suggested we sit in the mid-back and left section, close enough to the door that we could make a run for it if necessary.

The congregation seemed sparse as the Rabbi began the service. The service was primarily in Hebrew, with the Rabbi intoning and singing the ancient language. Sometimes he would sing a complicated and quick melody; at other times, the congregation would join him as though they knew the melody. There were no markings in the book to indicate when we were to sing, and when we were to listen quietly. So we mainly just listened quietly. I spent most of my energy trying to follow along with my spare knowledge of Hebrew, attempting to translate in my mind what it was that the haunting and beautiful lines of Hebrew were pointing towards. My wife was more focused on the sounds, as she stutteringly joined in with the congregation by mouthing and muttering whatever words she could identify. At one point, the Rabbi gave a short homily which consisted of a funny story about Jewish identity at holiday times. The Rabbi would also direct the congregation from time to time, and the transitions from instruction to liturgy were at times jarring, as though the fact that we were in Dallas rather than Israel would break through inconsiderately.

The service was long, running for over one and a half hours, and by the end the synagogue was filled with congregants and families. The lady behind us was a visitor in town from Sugar Land (our hometown), so we made small talk about how things were back home. The Rabbi had told a funny story about the process of “Bagel-ing,” wherein Jews “out” each other with clever comments and questions. My wife and I were “de-bageled” several times during the evening. We met several families, most introducing themselves and asking if we were just visiting or had recently moved to town. Inevitably, we spoke of how we were visiting to fulfill requirements for a seminary class. Our awkward position was made slightly more awkward by the fact that neither I nor my wife appear particularly Jewish. We stood out. We felt out of place in the rituals, we did not know the language, and we clearly did not belong. Despite our best efforts to “be Jewish,” we had missed the most important aspect. I know now that in order to more fully engage in the community of Jewish worship, we should have connected with a practicing Jewish family, and participated alongside of them. The unique nature of the Jewish religion is the deep-seeded connection to the Jewish community itself. Nevertheless, as we left the synagogue, neither of us felt bitter or put off by our experience of Kol Shabbat.

As we drove home, my wife and I unpacked what we had just gone through. We both felt that we were outsiders, but we also both felt respect and not a little awe at the strength of the bonds holding the community together. We spoke of Jewish history, and how these bonds are what allowed the Jewish tradition to survive despite vicious and consistent persecution and oppression. Our experience at the synagogue and our conversation after convinced us to take our Shabbat experience even more seriously, and to honor this beautiful and ancient community of faith with our words and actions over the weekend.

Our Saturday morning was restful. We woke up to the sun, and walked a small distance to some shops in our area. We followed certain restrictions, such as not driving or cooking, but did shop a little, disobeying the halakah regarding making others work. Mainly, we ceased from doing on Shabbat. As the evening drew near, we did not feel that we had wasted our day, but instead felt a deep sense of rest. To prepare for the Seder, we both took showers and got dressed up. We set the table, and got out the food. After performing the Havdalah – the ceremony that ends the Shabbat (separating it from the rest of the week) – we began the Seder Haggadah. Having bought the “Concise Family Seder” earlier in the week, my wife and I read through the ceremony, taking turns reading the passages in English that were there and sounding out the Hebrew when it was transliterated for us.

As we tasted the sweet wine, the bitter parsley dipped in salt water, the dry and unleavened matzah, the bitter and sweet charoset (a mixture of apples, cinnamon, nuts, and wine mixed to look and feel like mortar), and the sharp bite of the horseradish, we attempted to remember the past along with the Jewish community. We tried to conjure up both the pain of past injustice and the hope for future peace. We opened our door for Elijah and left a seat open for him. We sang (with an improvised and childish melody) Daseynu, that it would have been enough if G-d had only done a little. We joined together in words and actions with countless generations of Jewish people, these people who experienced the destruction of their homeland, were turned away wherever they tried to make their home, who experienced countless pogroms, and suffered the worst injustices and inhumanity mankind has ever witnessed in the bleak time of the Holocaust. While knowing that our efforts to understand would fall woefully short, our little family began to open the door to a fuller knowledge of and connection with the Jewish tradition to which we all owe so much.

There was no shining moment of recognition, no glorious revelation during our weekend experience. What was left after our experience was instead a residue, a lasting impact that has echoed forward from day to day. Affecting our relationships with each other, our understanding of what real rest looks like, and giving us a deeper appreciation of the difficulties of fully living out such a complicated set of rules, the Shabbat-Seder experience taught my wife and I how to better understand one another as well as the religious other. My wife comes from an unchurched background. I had never empathized with her discomfort in the Christian church setting until I sat discomfited in the Kol Shabbat service. Beyond that, by stretching ourselves and our boundaries, we learned that reaching out to another tradition is not easy, but is utterly worth our energy and time. The worldview shifting experience of living out another culture is a practice that we hope to continue in the future.

In conclusion, the Jewish faith tradition is not for the individual, but for the community. One cannot simply go to Synagogue, say a prayer, and become a Jew. The intricacies of the life lived in Torah-awareness, the deep connections to the historical past of Judaism, and the tight knit community of the Jewish people are not to be found in doctrine or abstract thought, but in practicalities and relationships.
During the Friday evening Shabbat service, when the section of the text called for those in mourning to read along with the Rabbi, our newly met friend from Sugar Land stood along with the congregation to whom she was “only” a visitor. As she read the mourner’s Kaddish, her voice broke, and I could hear the deep emotion coming through her prayer. Despite the fact that she was over 250 miles from her home, among strangers, and speaking in a language not her own, something eternal and beautiful resonated in her prayer. I do not know who she was mourning, nor do I know much else about her. What I am sure of is that her experience is quintessential to the Jewish faith. No matter where one is, how far one has gone, or how much one has suffered and lost, a Jew is always connected to a community that has been, is, and will be an expression of G-d’s mysterious faithfulness through all eternity.


Whoa, its been a while

Update on what's happenin:

* Working at a church again. "What?" you say, "I thought you swore that off." Well, I did.
* Jaimie is starting a blog! You should all read it. go for it. She's a good writer

I will post a real update in the near future. School has been going well - 3.85 gpa after my first 24 hours. Thinking of switching to MDiv. Still absolutely sure I will not be doing the ordination process. Not so sure that I won't end up working for/starting a church.

Um, yeah. So staying busy and all, peace out.


more lists!

Ten things I'm going to start doing soon...

1. Finish school for the semester (DONE)
2. Plan out my break, so I don't waste my free time. (DONE)
3. Restring my guitar, and take it to a specialist to figure out how much it would cost to fix the pick-up problem it has. (soon...)
4. Get our car registered, and change the title (waiting on Carmax) on the Galant over to Amber's name. (REAL soon)
5. Find and buy insurance for Jaimie and I. Soon...)
6. Get set up to substitute on Mondays and Fridays in the Spring. (DONE, waiting to hear back)
7. Begin studying vocabulary for the GRE. (DONE)
8. Restart German studies with Jaimie. (soon...)
9. Work out more often. (Started a new routine!)
10. Hang out with good friends, watch some good movies, read some good books. (Done, done, done)


more things...

I. Act in a play
II. Coach a team of some sort
III. Play in an organized team sport
IV. write more poetry
V. Use roman numerals more often.


Things I want to do...

Things I want to do.

1. Write a bunch more songs
2. Read more fiction
3. Write some fiction
4. Play in a band
5. Learn to paint
6. Teach a class on church history
7. Put together an event re: teaching/history
8. Do some more CHAPs
9. Work with film
a. Make a short film
b. Write some screenplays
c. Learn to speak German fluently
d. Learn to speak Italian fluently
e. Learn to read Latin
f. Learn to read Greek
g. Get a full time teaching job
i. Substitute teach in Spring 08, Fall 08, Spring 09
ii. Put together a camping trip or two
iii. Fix guitar
iv. Take a cooking class
v. Raise a puppy, then, raise a child
vi. Build some more furniture
vii. Maintain my blog
viii. Develop history curriculum
ix. Develop the animated map curriculum idea
x. Get a PhD, someday...



Update on what's happenin:

* My grandmother passed away this Friday. She had battled through some really tough years fighting Alzheimer's Disease, and she had left us bit by bit. Now she is complete again.
* This weekend was a long, but good, weekend. Spending time with family is irreplaceable, and it needs to be a higher priority for my wife and I. We say that we put family first, but sometimes our actions speak otherwise.

What I'm readin:

* I'm reading about 3000 pages of text this month, as I prepare to end the semester, write 3 papers and study for 3 finals. This will be the craziest month so far, but it will be very fulfilling to finish my first semester.
* Some books I'm reading for this marathon:
John Cobb - Process Theology: Introductory Exposition
Selected writings of Maximus the Confessor
Selected writings of Gregory of Palamas
Sallie McFague - Models of God
Richard Nelson - The Historical Books
Selected writings on Liberation Theology
And some other stuff too...