Tuesday, August 24, 2010

So Jesus and the Holy Spirit are walking down the street...

Today we had 'Intercultural Competency Training'. That is the P.C. way of saying anti-racism training. It started at 2 and went till 9pm; this wouldn't be so bad, but there are two more days of it to go.

Let me first say that I totally get the need for anti-racism training. But some of the stuff was so gooey and feel good that it sapped the life out of many of us. For instance, when the leader needed to bring us to order he would start singing, and we were meant to join in. And it wasn't good music, it was cheesy praise music. Some of you are thinking, 'oh Shireen, you are just too particular' but it wasn't just me. Most of the people there looked like they were being tortured.

My table was especially irreverent, I'm afraid. During one exercise we had to make a list of powerless people Jesus came in contact with, and describe how that encounter changed the person. Well, my table was especially proud of coming up with Lazarus, because what was more powerless than being dead? And to demonstrate how Jesus changed him, the girl next to me started playing like she was Dr. Frankenstein saying,"He's Alive! He's Alive!"
After that we had to do the same thing with powerful people Jesus came in contact with. Our main contribution was Saul/Paul. First it started with an argument about whether or not we could use Paul, since Jesus had already ascended by then. Also one girl was sceptical about Paul's account, thinking he had actually encountered the Holy Spirit. We all convinced her to take Paul's word for it, that it was in fact Christ, but decided that the Holy Spirit must have been there too because Jesus was far too gentle to blind someone like that. This quickly devolved into retelling the story with the Holy Spirit stepping in saying "I'll take care of this guy for you Jesus" and Jesus trying to hold the Holy Spirit back. And for some reason, amidst fits of laughter, we decided to share this with the rest of the people in the room by telling them that Jesus and the Holy Spirit were playing 'good cop, bad cop' in order to convert Paul. They looked at us like we were crazy.

I know you probably had to be there, but it was those moments of being absolutely silly that made the evening tolerable.

One and a half more days to go, and this is how I feel about that:

Friday, August 20, 2010

What a week, huh? I joined the twitterverse. Which says so much about how I feel when I am on it, but there you go.
Greek! Another big thing this week. I really do like Greek, ya know, not the usable kind, but the kind that can makes you seem supercilious. Kinda like the word supercilious does.
What else have I done this week...Oh yeah, I took my Sexual Misconduct prevention course. The kids one was seriously creepy. The adult one was, well, they showed a bad movie from the early 90s. Also some of the comments from the students were pretty alarming, and those comments came mostly from women. The question is how bad does a choice have to get before it is no longer a choice? For instance, we looked at instances in the bible where sexual misconduct happened. I know, take your pick, right? We looked at David and Bathsheba, and Joseph and Potiphars wife.
Here is my take on the David and Bathsheba. Bathsheba is taken from her house by David's servants for one reason and one reason only. He had all the power, she had no power at all. The observation is often made, "well, we don't really know if she was a willing participant or not" and it is often assumed that she was totally into David, and practically seduced him. But lets look at the facts: she was in her own home bathing. David sees her, and instead of sending a messenger to tell her to close her drapes, he gets all hot and bothered and sends two messengers to get her so he can have sex with her.
Now before I go on, I would like to make a point. Let's say a woman is about to be raped and she knows that if she fights back she will be hurt or killed, so she doesn't fight her attacker. We would still call that rape. Well this is exactly what Bathsheba does. She is faced with the choice of saying no to the king and suffering the consequences, or going along with it and hoping for the best. David raped Bathsheba, there I said it. Nobody wants to hear that because on the whole we like David, we don't want him to do something so atrocious. But remember, Nathan doesn't accuse Bathsheba along with David. Bathsheba is the lamb who the rich man slaughtered. An unwilling sacrifice to David's lust, as it were.
Anyway, the point is, many people in the class did not seem to understand that. Furthermore it is really easy to excuse the bad behavior of someone you love and look up to, like a priest. The instinct is to put the blame elsewhere, on the other person. But it is the person with the power who should bear the blame, because with that power comes so much responsibility, and I find it a little disconcerting that people who are about to step into those roles don't really understand that.
I'm not saying that everyone in the classroom was living in the 60's. Most people were reasonable. But the few that weren't were pretty shocking.
Our double standards are pretty amazing. The behavior we allow in people we admire, celebrities, priests; these behaviors would never be tolerated in Joe Shmo.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Not Loku, but...

"Oral Interpretation of Scripture", this is the class where we learn to read out loud. Good idea, right? If we're going to be priests interpreting scripture orally is a good skill to have. So I totally get the need for, and purpose of, the class. Here's the thing, I got a lot of this stuff in acting school. Picture your first year acting classes; do you remember all of those exercises and games they made you do to help your breathing and technique? Well, imagine doing those exercises but with bible verses as your text. Sounds cheesy, right? Anyway, next week we start reading in small groups so we can get some legitimate criticism.

So I get the point of the exercises and the reading we have to do, but what I don't understand is the poetry assignment. This weekend we have to write two poems; one haiku, one cinquain. These poems each had to be based on a different bible story, and we have to memorize them. I guess I kind of get the point. We will probably have to perform the poems, and if we can write a poem and perform it then we can perform anything, right?

Well, I actually wrote two of each. Surprisingly it was kind of fun. I think the bible stories are pretty straight forward, but if you can't figure it out let me know.

The Haikus

I. Girl dancing with veils
is all fun and games till some-
one loses his head.

II. God bets with Satan
making good man wish he was
a little less good.

The Cinquains

I. Mary
Sorrowful, weeping,
tomb is empty
he calls her name

II. Daughter
Rejoicing, dancing,
greets her father.
she mourns her virginity.

I preferred writing the Haikus because the form lends itself to humor in a way that the Cinquain doesn't.

Now I have to choose which ones to memorize and practice performing.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Quick update

School has begun, hurray! Aside from that there isn't much to say. Yesterday and today have been filled with orientation stuff mostly. I already have a bunch of work to do though. They have given us so much paperwork to read, and forms to fill out, it's exhausting.

There will be orientation throughout the August term, but the two classes being taught are: Oral Interpretation of Scripture, and a language class (Greek or Hebrew). I have a bunch of reading to do before Monday and some Greek homework.

They went over registering for Fall courses with us today. 1st year students don't have many choices because there are several classes that you have to get out of the way before doing anything else.

I am getting used to the place. Everyone is very nice, but I haven't connected with anyone in particular yet. I'm getting used to sitting down with a bunch of strangers at meal time and having a little small talk, but nothing more. At least I am resisting the urge to sit alone at an empty table, so that is something.

I am excited about diving into the work. Hopefully my year of Greek at UCLA will start coming back to me, that will make it so much easier.

I'll let you know if anything exciting happens.

Monday, August 9, 2010

First night at VTS

Here at VTS students occasionally gather in the evenings for beer and conversation behind Moore Hall (one of the dorms). It was mostly returning students, but new students are invited as well. Now, anyone who knows me, knows I am not comfortable in large groups of people I don't know. So when I was invited I could have stayed in my room and been completely happy. But I went, and it went pretty much the way I anticipated. Everyone was very nice, but I had almost nothing to contribute to the conversation. So I did what I always do in these types of situations, I listened. I listened to people talk about their summers, I listened to them reminisce about last year. I listened to one conversation for a while, then to another, and then back to the first conversation again, and so on. Part of the problem with doing this is everyone kind of forgets you are there, so it is almost like you are eavesdropping on them. And when suddenly you get up and say goodnight it can be a little awkward. Well, I did my part, I nursed my beer for an hour and then I left. And now I have a sour stomach. I can't wait until classes start. It will help to have a specific task; a context in which to interact with other people.

Anyway, I love my room. It is tiny, like a little monks cell. I am completely unpacked and I already feel comfortable. Classes don't start until Wednesday, so I will spend tomorrow trying to find my way around.

I am sitting here desperately trying to recall all their names. Dawn, Joel, Ramel, Audrey, Charles and his fiance Kona, Chad, Missy, Whitney and Grant. I don't know how many of these I got wrong. I am terrible with names, so probably a few.

Monday, August 2, 2010

As many of you know, I did not have a television when I lived in Los Angeles. Thanks to the internet this did not mean that I couldn't watch my favorite TV shows, but my commercial exposure was fairly limited. I have to say, I am totally weirded out by what I am now seeing. The enormous gangsta hamsters selling Kia cars creep me out. Combine that with the kittens in Georgian costumes (you know, the ones selling Quiznos sandwiches) and it is truly the stuff of nightmares. Furthermore, why is there a Scottish genie in a tuxedo selling fiber cereal? I can just hear Don Draper now, "I like the genie idea, but women might find an Arab man too threatening." Then Paul Kinsey says, "I know, who better to sell our cereal than James Bond circa 1962!?" At this point Peggy says something sensible, but nobody listens.

Yeah, I might have watched a lot of Mad Men recently.

You know what commercials I really like? Those Clydesdale commercials for Budweiser. Unfortunately it will never convince me to buy the beer.

Anyway...that's it I think.