Sunday, May 30, 2010

I watched all but the last ten minutes of Julie & Julia tonight. Maybe I'll get to that last bit eventually. It's the most I've seen of a movie in several weeks, at least. And apart from Ella jumping on me constantly, my viewing time was largely uninterrupted.

It could have been one movie and satisfied me: a movie about Julia Child. I liked the scenes of her life. I liked her efforts to speak French. I grew tired of the parallels between their lives. I didn't like the use of 9/11, even if the story happened that way. The use of blogging, as if it's already passé (and it seems to be) I also found gratuitous.

In watching Meryl Streep act her character, I never felt I was watching "Meryl Streep." Maybe her costume disguised her enough. Sometimes in her movies, I feel I'm watching her. Maybe only Defending Your Life is that way.

But I didn't feel I was watching Julia Child either. One review said Streep puts on "our impression of Child." Yes, that could be what it is. YouTube has a comparison of Streep and Child in the TV segment that Streep reenacts for the movie. Julia Child isn't trying to be anyone but herself.

I found the SNL clip of Aykroyd spoofing Child very funny. It originally aired Dec., '78 but I can't remember seeing it, big Python fan that I was. I heard him right when he says, "and cut along the backbone to the pope's nose, like so," despite how the various transcripts online read.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic carnival hosted by Rann at "This That and the Other Thing."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Last week was my first Tuesday back in a month. I probably make only two more of the remaining three.

The chapter was Acts 16 and, I tell you, the English Standard Version, Study Bible is terrific when one is short on research time. My one problem with this thick book is that it doesn't open wide enough to see easily the notes they've crammed in the inside margin. I have to press the page down really flat to see it. I'd rather reference a book I don't need to keep a hand on.

The first question instructed one to trace the path of Paul's second missionary journey, begun in the previous chapter, on a map. I've never taken any interest in the details of Paul's trips so this was as good a time as any to learn them, to follow along on paper. The point was how "unusual" his path was, consciously guided by the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:6). I think this is because Paul wanted to avoid areas evangelized by Peter (2 Cor. 10:16; 1 Peter 1:1). The decisions at Jerusalem in the previous chapter were for "believers in Antioch and throughout Syria and Cilicia (15:23) but since the issue of Gentile converts affected all the churches, Paul reported those decisions" in other cities. [ESV footnote]

The point of Keller's material is the diverse types of people Paul reached and the methods by which he reached them. Lydia, a God-fearer or convert, who worshipped the one true God was reached through Scripture study and discussion. The Pythoness (Gk.: πνεῦμα Πύθωνος) was (possibly) possessed1 and not free, as her owners exploited her oracles for personal gain. Paul exorcised her, much to the dismay of her handlers. The Philippian jailer seemed to fit in between these two, neither religious nor evil. He was reached by Paul's character. Always, their immediate needs were met first but presumably Paul gave the "full picture" by and by (cf. 16:32).

The "thought" question came towards the end:
"Why does Paul insist on a public apology v. 37?"
My own answer took a dramatic approach to the text: the apology foreshadows Paul's "going to Rome" as a citizen of the Empire which is his undoing. However, I had read Keller's answers in preparation before class after making out my own answers so as to avoid anything "too wrong." I offered his answer as a correction to my own and so let my small group leader know I had access to the "official" answers (that's just how I am). So then, the civil apology is important for the freedom of the church Paul left behind. Without it, the church was founded by a criminal. And it turns out that the church at Philippi seems to do the best of all the communities, even into the sub-apostolic period.

1 I was surprised at the "explaining away" of demon possession that occurred in our small group.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic carnival hosted by Rann at "This That and the Other Thing."
It all seemed typical but it probably wasn't. Chris was assessed at his brothers' school for next fall. The evaluator finished quickly with him, confident that he knew everything he needed to know for first grade, "and probably much more."

Next, at Tim's tennis lesson in Manasquan, I was shocked to see his usual fieldhouse partially demo'd for reconstruction. It took extra time to walk him to another fieldhouse for his lesson.

Then we headed up the Parkway. The road was familiar but different. It felt counterintuitive to be heading north late on a Friday afternoon when everyone else seemed to be coming "down the shore" for a (mostly) sunny weekend. I zoomed through the highspeed EZ-Pass lane at the Asbury Park tolls and took the Express lanes. We stopped at the Cheesequake rest area to eat dinner at Burger King. Kenny spotted a souvenir coin press with images of the Twin Towers. He said:
"That must be old!"
and I found myself saying, "Not very old."

It wasn't a huge place but I wanted them to recognize that we weren't in Kansas anymore. This is "big city" to them. So Chris wasn't allowed into the rest room with Kenny. In fact, I thought twice about Kenny, especially when I heard him describe the graffiti on the walls. I got an uncomfortable feeling when a man dressed as a janitor patted Ella on the top of the head when we passed him. I realize that there are cultural differences regarding young children and girls in public but, as I say, a stranger touching her even kindly made me uneasy.

We continued up the Parkway and I warned them about the Driscoll Bridge. I used to be nervous going over it: ten lanes of terror. Well, it's larger than ten lanes across now - Wiki says 15 lanes and I would agree - but it's segmented real nice with lane barriers so there isn't more than five lanes in a bunch. I guess construction was completed a year ago. This video doesn't quite capture the finished experience. After passing the intersection with the Turnpike, it occurred to me that I hadn't been up this way since the morning of the funeral.

The Relay for Life was at one of the many public schools in town.

We found parking in the school lot, met up with our "team" - family and friends - and my kids played on the school playground for an hour before Jeff showed up with Tim. The Relay - which is a body-breaking 12 hr. event - kicked off an hour late. Enthusiasm ran high for several hours until darkness fell. I read the book I had brought with me while Jeff and the kids took turns walking the course with family and friends. We weren't official team members but the course seemed open to anyone.

The lights were dimmed for the luminaria ceremony around 9pm. I didn't realize that the lights would dim and I needed to know where my children were. Jeff had Ella in his arms and Chris ran to find me. Tim was on the playground and Kenny had stumbled into one of the many tents our team had propped up.

I took this video of Chris after the luminaria ceremony when the flood lights were up again. You can probably see how tired he is. And it was cold. We left shortly after this, just after 10pm:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I'd rather stopped listening because, right off the bat, the homily characterized Jesus' prayer in John 17 as "a stream of consciousness" uttered by a man who "wasn't sure how things were going to play out."

My ears perked up, however, at the description of a woman who went through a religious studies program but, during a visit home, had a blowup with her mom. The older brother was present and noted the inconsistency between what the woman likely knew and how she behaved:
"'You can't even recognize a cup of consecrated chicken soup!'"
And yeah, sure, that's me. I know that.

But it's drawn from literature!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

This afternoon I attended a luncheon fundraiser for ovarian cancer awareness at the behest of a friend with the disease and members of her church. I opted to attend their morning worship service so that we could all drive over together afterwards.

Jeff loaned me his car with the satellite radio so I picked up the 10:15 service from St. Patrick's, about 25 minutes into it. Ap. Dolan was thanking God during the prayers of the faithful that the NYPD had foiled the Times Square bomb plot yesterday. I appreciated his clear speaking voice and listened about twenty minutes until communion began. Then I scanned to a Christian praise music station and turned the volume low.

I arrived late to the worship service only to learn that the teens had taken over the church for the weekend. Therefore, there were no ushers to seat me at an opportune time; I could take a seat immediately. Ah, informality!

The teen praise band was finishing their set of these numbers: "I Wanna See," "Heart of Worship," "Enter This Temple," "Healer," "I Can Only Imagine." Perhaps providentially, I arrived in time to hear - and participate in singing - only the last song. There was a video testimony by a parishioner who had accepted Christ while on a mission trip last summer. Then two young parishioners walked up front and gave another testimony to the congregation about chastity. I wondered how the older folks felt about so much sex talk at church. The offering was taken up while an original song was performed, "Dying to Live." And a boy went forward and read the Scripture for the day, Hebrews 12:1-2. And then the evangelist was introduced by the youth pastor.

They had met last summer while on the mission trip. The message is entitled "Leaving a Lasting Legacy" (sermon with intro from youth pastor) and grew out of the evangelist's close brush with death. Both of his parents are deaf and he eventually met the man who evangelized them because the deaf community is so close-knit. Maybe having a sensitivity to nonverbal cues, the speaker seemed adept at tailoring his message to his audience.

He started by saying, "Jesus can balance your checkbook" but then, maybe noticing that some people bristled at that idea, changed his tone and even put down wealth & prosperity preaching. I felt that he was watching reactions, especially mine since I have a face like an open book. I'm an easy read. But I was relaxed - let my guard down - as this isn't my church. So even if he comes back, it's nothing to me. But I do worry about the good people there: they all seemed taken in by him who may be a charlatan. It's so difficult to judge in that line of work. We closed with "All Who Are Thirsty." I knew none of the songs because this was teen praise music, not middle-agers's music.

I ended up giving two people a ride over to the hotel that was hosting the luncheon. And I was glad that the radio was low but set to a pleasant station when I turned on the car. We talked about the freshness of the service and I said that most people don't experience such a thing until they get to college. But here they have it, right in high school.

Someone made up T-shirts for everyone in our group of ten with a verse from Scripture printed on the back. I don't think I've ever worn Scripture before, not even on jewelry. I wasn't self-conscious - I'm rather self-forgetful, actually. But I could hear people reading it off our backs in mumbled tones as we walked by.

After we took our seats in the ballroom, the mayor of the town opened us all with a word of prayer "to the Lord." The ladies at my table murmured with giddiness at how unexpected that was. In an effort to calm them down, I pointed out that "Lord" is a rather generic title. However, I was privately rejoicing at his Italian name.

When the keynote began, I noticed a lady at our table draw out a Bible and a notebook and decided she was working on an evening Bible study presentation. So that gave me permission to draw out my Bible and read Proverbs. The keynote was interesting but I really had no inclination to be there. Ladies at our table were wondering after the keynote whether the speaker was a Christian because she mentioned God. I pointed out that she also mentioned matzos.

One of them who has known me a long time overheard that I had been at their church that morning and she sidled up to me later to ask me discreetly what I was doing there. I told her that I just thought it would be nice to worship with everyone before sitting down to lunch together. As it turned out, no one needed a ride back so I was able to leave immediately afterwards.