Updates

So, I’ve updated the About Me section, for those of you who are just dying to read a boring wall of text about yours truly. I’m not promising that this means regular updates. But, I’m on vacation and there is something cathartic about looking back over the past several years and trying to distill who you are as an individual into a few paragraphs.

Two Years

It has been two years since I blogged here, and nearly a year since I blogged over at The Floppy Hat.

A great deal has happened since then. I now hold an MA in Biblical Languages and an MA in Old Testament, having graduated from Gordon-Conwell in May 2010. I am currently the Director of Youth Ministries at Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church in Gaithersburg, MD. Certainly an odd assignment for a twenty-something with two Masters degrees in biblical studies. Mandy and I are also expecting our first child in November.

It has been a busy two years. I tentatively expect that blogging here at Random Bloggings is going to pick back up in the coming months. I feel a bit like I have things to say, and a blog feels like the most readily available place to say them. Look for more information in the coming weeks.

A Message to Christians

Normally I don’t post about politics on even this, my personal blog. However, after seeing some of the reactions from my conservative acquaintances and friends over the past 9-10 hours, I’m simply appalled. To those of you who disagree with me, I still wanna be friends ( :-) ). This is a chance for me to vent some frustration, so take it all in stride.

Barack Obama is the President-Elect of the United States of America. He has a job I would never want. Many Christians are up in arms over his election. “How could America do this?” or “See! Americans just want money, they don’t care about killing babies!” or any other number of things. So, first a disclaimer, then my thoughts. I voted for Barack Obama in this election. Not because I agree with every policy he has ever laid down, but because I agreed with more of what he said than I agreed with John Mccain’s view (the situation would have been completely reversed had Ron Paul won the Republican primaries).

1. Christians, who claim to read and believe the Bible is the Word of God, ought to remember that A) God decides who the “kings” are and B) Our citizenship isn’t here anyway. Nothing that John Mccain would have done, and nothing that Barack Obama will do will prevent us from carrying out the Jesus Creed–Love God, and Love Others (including Barack Obama and those who voted for him–and, conversely, John McCain and those who voted for him).

2. For those calling for God’s mercy–I agree, sorta. I hope he has mercy for all the truly horrible things America has done throughout the years as Bush has been in office, or Clinton before him, or any American President. Or that he has mercy on us for being greedy. Or that he has mercy on America for the far more gut-wrenching issue of our inaction regarding Darfur.

3. Ultimately, I understand that there is a lot of frustration and disappointment out there among John McCain supporters. That is fair and expected. However, Christians shouldn’t be making John Mccain vs. Barack Obama into an issue of morals, of us (the “true” Christians) vs. them (those evil pagans or liberal Christians).

At the end of the day, one guy won. It doesn’t make America better or worse, it makes it much the same as it always was. It doesn’t mean Christians need to point fingers with the rest of America. What we need to do is move through out disappointment (or excitement, as the case may be) and get on with loving God, loving others and doing our best to serve him.

Converting to Orthodoxy

I’m not!

However, one of the students in my youth ministry is. I find the whole thing quite interesting. As long-time readers will remember, I took a class in the History of Liturgy last Fall, and it was an absolutely wonderful experience. I learned a ton, and it was basically all new information. One of the books we were required to read was For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann.

What I find rather interesting as I watch this young man walk through the process of joining the Orthodox Church is that he is owning his faith in new ways. It’s probably one of the most important steps in life when you begin to own your own faith/belief system/values/worldview. For me, this took the form of learning more about the Bible, learning Biblical languages, and eventually becoming what my family would term more “theologically liberal,” (the fact that I’m excited for this young man’s decision to convert to Orthodoxy rather than condemning it is a prime example). However, this is doubly interesting for me because at this point I’m watching someone own their faith, but that ownership is taking an extremely different path from my own. It’s a learning experience for me, as much as for him as he begins this journey.

Announcing The Floppy Hat!

Confused? Well, perhaps so.

Mandy and I have decided to open a joint blog appropriately named, The Floppy Hat. You can read all about our reasons here. I’ll only rehash one thing here:

- This blog (Random Bloggings) will continue, but I’ll primarily be posting on personal topics (video games, youth ministry, fantasy literature, that kind of thing). Most of my “academic” topics (Hebrew Bible, Biblical languages, etc) will go to the Floppy Hat.

Enjoy!

Younger Evangelicals and Orthodoxy

Although I despise labels, the best one for me might well be “younger evangelical,” depending on how one defines that phrase. There is a very interesting post over at Jesus Creed that Scot has posted from one of his readers. Although the entire post is worth reading, one bit in particular struck me as exceptionally helpful:

I was a little distracted, though, by the continued use in Finding Faith, Losing Faith of the qualifier “orthodox” for “Christianity.” In my own case, I find that I’m moving towards a Christian “orthodoxy” that is more “generous” to borrow a perhaps worn-out phrase. So I can’t really use the word “inerrancy” easily anymore, I’m not sure what parts of the Bible’s protohistory are simply “historical,” and I’m not willing to opine with any certainty about exactly how or exactly whom God will save in Christ (though “in Christ” remains central). Yet I’ll happily confess the Apostles’ Creed. I think there are many, many folks like me, many of whom stay in evangelical churches and try to adopt an “emerging” or “missional” attitude, others who end up in ELCA, PCUSA, Episcopal, and other “mainline” churches — and many I gather who teach at “moderate” evangelical seminaries like Fuller and Regent College.

I could have written that paragraph. To be fair, I haven’t read that particular book of Scot’s yet (how can one, when one is knee deep in Sivan’s Ugaritic grammar?), but the sentiments remain the same. What constitutes “evangelical Christianity?” In my background, if you didn’t vote Republican and believe in a pre-millennial, pre-tribulational rapture you most certainly weren’t headed for heaven (which is, in and of itself, a misunderstanding of Salvation in my opinion). I obviously don’t agree with those sentiments anyway. I can, as the reader quoted above, fully affirm the Apostle’s and Nicene creeds. But words such as “inerrancy” make me a bit nervous. Trying to read the Bible as a history or science textbook, instead of as Holy Scripture makes me even more nervous.

On the other hand, I still fully affirm those statements of faith that the broader Christian community affirms. I also have opinions on other, more minute points of doctrine–though I don’t think they are worth separating from other Christians over. At the end of the day, I wonder where exactly it is that “moderate” (?) evangelicals such as myself end up. Life I suppose, will be an adventure.

Fall 2008 Classes

Well, Mandy has posted her classes for this semester, I guess that means it’s my turn. So, here are my Fall 2008 classes at Gordon-Conwell (and Harvard), along with some thoughts that I have going in to each of them.

Interpreting the New Testament, S. McDonough – This is actually a requirement for my degree. Often times degree requirements at a seminary can seem like a waste of time. However, I’m rather looking forward to this class. It’s basically a hermeneutics/intro to criticism/intro to exegesis course for New Testament studies. At least a class that includes N.T. Wright and Vanhoozer can’t be all bad. I know N.T. Wright is worth reading, and I’ve heard good things about Vanhoozer.

Ugaritic, M. Kline – What could possibly be better than learning a new semitic language? I’m sure I don’t know. The texts for the course are Schniedewind’s primer and Sivan’s grammar. I haven’t been too impressed as I’ve flipped through Sivan, but Schniedewind looks like a really excellent introduction to Ugaritic. I’m quite excited about this class.

Independent Reading in the Hebrew Bible, T. Petter – This is a directed study that I’m doing with Dr. Petter. He and I discussed my desire for a challenging Hebrew language course over the summer. As a result, I’m reading (translating) all of Qohelet, in addition to Proverbs 1-9 and the first cycle in Job (3-14). There’ll be a mid-term and a final. I also have just shy of 1000 pages of reading to do (in English) on Hebrew poetry. I’m really looking forward to sinking my teeth into these books and reading them in Hebrew. It should be a blast.

Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible: Seminar, R. Saley (Harvard) – By far this is the class I’m most looking forward to. It starts a week later than my GCTS classes, so I have a while yet to continue my anxious anticipation. Textual Criticism is one area in which I’m interested and would like to experiment. This class should, hopefully, provide plenty of opportunity for learning the ropes.

So, all the GCTS classes start the week of the 7th, while Harvard doesn’t start until the week of the 14th. Here’s to an exciting semester!

Staying Organized

I’m feeling a bit left out today since all the cool kids (who are already finished their Master’s work and in a PhD program) are talking about their classes, and mine haven’t even started yet. I’ve wanted to post on staying organized with one’s classes and course work for a couple weeks now, seeing these other posts has given me the motivation to sit down and do so.

I’m slightly obsessive compulsive (can one be “slightly” obsessive compulsive?). As a result, I tend to schedule my time rather rigidly. It helps me actually get things done. The way this tends to work out for me is that I make a speadsheet with the day divided into 30 minute slots, and then plan out what a standard week will look like for me. This basically means I’m in class/working/studying from 7am(ish) to 9pm(ish). I’ve been told recently that I need to “live by the ish” and allowing five minutes on either side of the top of the hour seems an appropriate place to begin, but I digress. This year I think I may try to change up my study environment; I normally study in my apartment when I’m able because I’m most comfortable here. This year I’ll spend some time at the Andover-Harvard library, some time at the Goddard library, and I’m pondering adding a local coffee joint to my weekly repertoire. Again, I’ve managed to digress, so back to my spreadsheet.

Armed with this spreadsheet I plod through my days. For me the rigidity gives a sense of accomplishment (ie, I feel like I’ve actually accomplished something everyday, if only because I’ve done what my schedule told me to). Now, this is fairly general. It’s a big picture kind of thing. After I have my week laid out, all my assignments, reading, research, etc go into my Pocket PC (which I need to thank Len for, yet again). Having a todo list that hangs out in my pocket and beeps at me is incredibly useful. I’m certain I could survive without it, especially after seeing a spreadsheet for keeping assignments organized that Earl is working on. But why would I want to? As an aside, I may borrow Earl’s idea and simply post it on the wall behind my desk so that I have two reminders for assignments and whatnot.

So, that’s generally how I stay organized; a big picture breakdown of my week into 30-minute chunks of what I’m supposed to be doing and a todo list with due dates in my pocket PC with various reminders set. For me, both help to keep me organized as well as feeling like I’m accomplishing things.

I’m interested in hearing what those of you who are currently in school do to stay organized.

Boston…

I thought I’d borrow Jay’s use of ellipses for my title today.

Yesterday Mandy and I went into Boston with Adam. We had a blast. Aside from enjoying conversation on a variety of topics, its always fun to go into the city. We ended up near Hanover St. around lunch time, and ate at a little Italian Joint called Bella Vista. I can’t recommend this place enough. If you’re ever around the North End and want to grab some lunch, head on over. The bread was delicious, portion size was generous (more than I could manage to eat, which says something), and the food was excellent. An absolutely fabulous time.

From there we (Adam, as well as Mandy and I) had some errands to run. Somehow we managed to misjudge transit time, and so none of us got everything accomplished that we needed to. As a result, Mandy and I will probably be making another trip into Boston sometime soon. Either way, it was a fun time. Now, if only there was a subway station about five miles closer to our apartment–or the commuter rail wasn’t ridiculously expensive from our zone.

The End of Summer

Yesterday I ordered the majority of my textbooks. That means Summer is almost at an end. In a few short weeks I will begin classes. I’m exciting, but there is a certain bittersweet sense as the Summer comes to an end.

Overall my summer has been a good one. I’ve managed to read several books that I had intended to read. I didn’t get through as many books as I had wanted. This is partially due to some work that I ended up picking up (more on that in another post), and partially because I decided to spend time reviewing my Hebrew vocab. I finally feel like I’m making progress there. Beyond this I’ve managed to keep busy with the youth ministry at my church, so the summer has been productive, if not exactly in the ways I had planned.

Of course, in the midst of all of this I have been extremely delinquent in my blogging. To be honest, I just either haven’t had the time to blog, or I’ve decided to spend that time occupied with more relaxing hobbies. However, now that the semester is ready to begin, I’ll be getting back into blogging more consistently.