Thursday, August 30, 2012

Call Me, Maybe

It used to be, or I should say it has been for the past decade, the case that when my 2 year contract came up I could get a "free" or very cheap cell phone and maintain my monthly plan. Thanks to smartphones, however, this is no longer the case. Apparently smartphone demand has incentivized cell phone companies to no longer offer free/very cheap phones that do not require a $30/month data fee. The end result is that I am punished for being relatively poor. Looks like I'll be making a visit to Wal-Mart and/or Boost Mobile to check out my options.

An affordable cell phone option. "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


"And so it is rightly proposed that they also implied that the text is 'witness' to the Word of God and that its authority derives from that witness rather than from any inherent, divinized quality."

~Hans Frei, "Conflicts in Interpretation" in Theology Today, October 1992, vol. 49 no. 3, 354.

via Don Collett

I can't help but get excited when I come across quotes along these lines. I got tired a while ago of Christians talking about the Bible like Muslims talk about the Quran.

No Money, Mo' Problems

Ack. Day one of the week before school witnessed a Hebrew headache and a mild bout of panic. House issues, money issues and a reminder of how much Hebrew stressed me out and depressed me last spring all came together in a rush.

I asked a trusted professor for prayer in the library and then just packed it up because if I had to look at another Hebrew word I think I was going to start bleeding from the eyes. For some reason it's just occurring to me that I really need to pay attention to my internal signals and not just try and ignore them like a boss. My friends Scott and Rebecca helped me afterwards by a giggly revisit to the beginning of Parks and Recreation's second season--Leslie and Ron were great spirit-lifters. By the way, TV on Netflix (TV everywhere?) is so much better taken with other people than alone. Most of my Netflix watching has only ever been alone.

Then we had the usual Monday D&D session--last night a besieged dwarf town defended itself from an orcish horde and we pitched in. I sat in for a friend who's out of town and played her lawful-good dwarf cleric, a change of pace for me but with little need for nuance. I was literally following a script, which is what lawful-good characters do anyway. :P I actually know some of the secrets the DM has planned for this part of the narrative, but I am sworn to secrecy. We are just on the cusp of them.

Today is bill-paying, more Hebrew, and I'm going to try and write a review of The Expendables 2. If you watch the trailer and still want to see it, you will have a blast. But honestly it's kind of a crappy movie that I still really enjoyed.

Monday, August 27, 2012

FTL Spooling

Last week til the semester starts. I am doing responsible things (:O!!!!) to get ready for it. I hope this habit lasts.

When I am in a healthier frame of mind--like I have been, uh, since last Thursday (emphasis on healthi-ER)--things just come a little easier. My sleep cycle tends to reverse directions, bedtimes and waketimes gradually getting earlier. I am able to think about (and somewhat implement!) things like exercise and healthy eating, bible and prayer, academic what-have-you. So, good start so far; prayers always appreciated.

I'm going to try to write a lot more. I realized that I just need to embrace my love of and skills of writing. All these pesky little thoughts waiting to jump from the electrical signals in my brain through my fingers on the keyboard and into my laptop's RAM and then the CLOUD. I've got an idea for this blog about comparing comedians and preachers, and how jealous I am of the former; I've another for Lights in the Darkness using The Incredibles and Ratatouille to talk about creativity and what constitutes "art".

Enjoy this little ditty: (PBS on YouTube rocks!)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Clear as Mud

It can be hard to know what to blog about. Shoot, it's hard to know how to relate to people in general sometimes. I'm always asking, "How much do I share?"--wait, scratch that. I'm usually gripped by a sensitive subconscious screaming "Don't share too much! Hide!" Sarcasm works. So does pouring my energy into writing about something impersonal like movies. But what about me? What about the real me? Not the digital avatar of my Facebook profile, not the film critic, not the theology student, not the prospective priest. Mike. Me.

I have a good group of friends, and I think we love each other. That's not a dis against any of them, but I wouldn't say my friend group is especially close. I think, though, that some of them would be surprised if they were to meet the me of before seminary. Especially the me of college. They would notice maybe an unfamiliar reticence, an uneasy shame of my deep-seated nerdery, a naive optimism and the nagging leftovers of fundamentalism.

One reason I am thankful for my friends right now is because they are generally a people with whom I can speak my mind--being Christians, nerds, intellectuals none interested in pursuing de facto American evangelicalism as the church's future. I really appreciate the greater freedom I have with them to speak my mind, to emote and react, but having suppressed the tensions between the expectations of church culture and my own raw impulses for so long has left me with little discernment as how to be authentic without devolving into self-indulgence.

I recently came across this piece at the Burnside Writer's Collective, a Christian website which has published some of my film reviews this summer. I laughed and drank in the encouragement as I read it, thrilled by the author's evocation of a very familiar church subculture and her humanizing rebellion from its absurdities. She writes directly, honestly, and with earnestness about faith and navigating between self and church culture.

I appreciate her strong authorial voice because, at least to myself, I have felt so much in lack of my own. There have been influential individuals in my life who have done much to shape my view of the world, my view of God, Christianity and so on; influential such that my own perspective has often been a triangulation of multiple sources rather than its own thing. I have been by turns fundamentalist, liberal, anti-intellectual, intellectual, charismatic, traditional; at once gleefully optimistic and deeply afraid; prudish and licentious; sometimes disciplined but always a raging train wreck.

As I have been through a process of stripping away my past, I have had to say, "I will no longer listen to this person or that perspective just because." And as the layers peel back I fear more and more there's nothing at the center of the onion.

Except, and my sole comfort is this, that half-forgotten somewhere in my formative years are the moments that infused me with faith. Call them mystical experiences, private religious experiences, whatever, but they're mine and no one can take them away. It's a terrifying trust I enter into to try and move forward with the God who speaks to my heart, believing he's the God of Judeo-Christian Scripture, trusting that his creational authorship implies he and he alone holds the keys to wise living in a messed up world.

It's a terrifying trust to take him at his word with the way of life implied by the Bible. The life Jesus exemplified. That I'll really be better off loving him and loving others instead of myself. At the end of the day he's what I have--"To whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life." I'm trying to move forward, to grasp God and who I am and what I love doing and what he's getting up to in the midst of that and I have no idea where it'll lead me. Maybe I'll become a priest one day, maybe I'll be a Starbucks lifer who watches a lot of movies and loves role-playing games. Whatever I do, I'll be trying to do it god-ward, and I'll be doing it as myself. Whatever that means.