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A minor


Saturday, December 27, 2003

Christmas Gifts, 2003

It's been another busy week: family in town, Christmas Eve concert & midnight mass, Christmas, work, a bachelor party last night, etc, etc, and I don't really have much to say. But, since I haven't posted in a week, I feel a sort of obligation to do so. So I guess I'll just have to boast about what I got for Christmas.

Our parents and Hollie's grandparents went together to get a Sony Digital8 video camera for us; it takes still shots, too, so maybe we'll finally get around to updating our Yahoo! photo album, linked on the side. Hollie gave me a drill, a Glenfiddich gift set (with two nice Old Fashioned glasses), a small, black Book of Common Prayer (1979), and AUDIOSLAVE; my parents, in addition to the camera and help with recent car repairs*, gave a couple of N.T. Wright books: The New Testament and the People of God and The Lord and His Prayer; Hollie's parents, in addition to the camera, are giving us an upcoming, all-expenses-paid, family shopping trip to the Dallas area, and they also gave me a casual dress shirt and a pair of lounging pants; my sister, Jordan, gave me a big bottle of Bombay Sapphire in a cool wooden box; and my sisters-in-law gave me Jackie Brown on VHS.

So, yeah, I racked up, thanks to everyone above and to the incarnation and church tradition - Christ & His bride - to all of whom I'm most grateful.

* My motor mounts broke, and the loose engine punched a hole in the oil filter, causing a good leak; plus, we needed rotors & brakes.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Saturday, December 20, 2003

The Return of the King

The day after my family got into town, we all went to see Peter Jackson's latest and final installment of The Lord of the Rings, which I enjoyed. However, I found myself at times wondering if Jackson's a fag. I know, I know, he's married and has kids. But a couple scenes in this film were downright gay, or at least came across that way to me. One scene (the fellowship's one-by-one arrival to frolic in & around Frodo's bed) was so bad that I leaned over to Hollie and whispered, "SNL could have a field day with this."

I also think Jackson's Gollum nearly ruined the films altogether. Maybe he tried too hard, with the actor and his suit and the CGI and that digitized voice. I just know I can't stand what he did with Gollum.

Despite these complaints, I enjoyed The Return of the King overall. I also appreciate the unfathomable amount of work Jackson put into making his trilogy, and I would even go so far as to call it a huge success - defined in terms of swelling Tolkien's popularity for another generation or two, which popularity will go a long way toward securing his position as a classic author in the literary canon. And in the final analysis, I enjoyed the movies and look forward to seeing the extended versions sometime.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Christmas Choral Music

In a comment below, Daniel asked me to talk about the music we're rehearsing. Since we're preparing for a Christmas Eve service, we're singing things like:

  • a "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" and a plainsong "Of the Father's Love Begotten"

  • a few things from the Episcopal Hymnal 1982 (and elsewhere, of course) like "On This Day Earth Shall Ring" ("Ideo gloria in excelsis Deo!") and "In the Bleak Mid-winter"

  • the typical, traditional Christmas hymns, e.g. "Angels We Have Heard on High," "Away in a Manger," "Hark! the Herald-angels Sing," etc

  • the Sussex and Wexford carols, as well as "Once in Royal David's City" and "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree" (from The Oxford Book of Carols, thus lots of arrangements by David Willcocks)

  • Hugo Distler's intertwining harmonization/arrangement of "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" (Augsburg Fortress)

  • and a lovely Appalachian carol, "Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head" ("Have You Heard About Our Jesus?")
Now if only we can do the music justice....

jon :: link :: comment ::

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

These Days

My family arrives tomorrow for a three-week visit (two weeks for my dad, who leaves a week early), and we're looking forward to having them here. They will be staying at various times with us, with my grandparents, and with friends. Hollie (with the help of her mom) really got our place in order, and our landlord finally sent someone to clean our carpets, so we're basically ready. Now it's just a long day of work for me, followed by choir practice and then getting everyone all settled in. Thankfully, I have Thursday off. I've been working several extra hours this week, and will probably continue doing so for the next couple weeks while some staff(ing) issues are being resolved. At any rate, before Thursday gets here, I have to get through Wednesday - so I'm off to bed. (I know the date says Wednesday, but that's only because midnight came and went an hour ago; it's still Tuesday night as far as I'm concerned.)

jon :: link :: comment ::

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

I Did Not Know That

From the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) page on Communion:

One of the issues which divides Christians concerning the Lord's Supper is the question of who has the authority to preside at the table. Generally among the churches of the world only ordained ministers are authorized to offer the prayer of thanksgiving. Even then there are such disagreements in regard to the proper ordaining of ministers that some church bodies do not recognize the ordination of others. Some Christians are instructed not to partake of the Lord's Supper from non-recognized ministers. Ministers may not be permitted to share the communion elements with members of some other branches of the church. Such is the present disarray of Christ's followers in regard to the central act of Christian worship.

Early in their history, the Disciples of Christ developed a new pattern for religious leadership in their congregations. Lay elders, members of the congregation chosen by the people themselves, were given the responsibility of presiding at the table and offering the communion prayers. Thoughtfully chosen, they are set apart for ministerial functions such as praying at the Lord's Table and pastoral care of members. Their authority to lead in the observance of the Lord's Supper remains a puzzling question to some church bodies.

To the Disciples the simple and thoughtful expressions of grateful remembrance offered by the elders each Sunday seem appropriate and satisfying. The elders are their representatives, people like themselves, who gather from a week of work to lift thankful hearts to God in remembrance of the saving work of Christ. Ties of common experience closely bind member to member, and Christ is known afresh as each week this ordinance is observed in the Christian Churches throughout the world.
I've been curious to learn more about the Disciples of Christ, especially lately as we drive by a small cathedral-shaped Christian church (on the corner of Forsythe and Loop Road, for you locals) nearly every day. I knew that they emphasize the centrality of the Lord's supper, practice weekly communion, etc, but the fact that they have lay elders presiding at the table is news to me. I wonder, though: Why did they chose lay elders and not lay deacons? Or, maybe lay deacons are involved; maybe they just don't preside. Does anyone know? (Clifton?)

jon :: link :: comment ::

Monday, December 15, 2003

Grace Choir

I forgot to mention that the same gentleman who encouraged me to apply for the Grace job also asked me to join their choir for the rest of Advent season. They were very short on tenors, and even though I usually sing bass, I ended up agreeing to help them out. My first rehearsal Wednesday night was a lot of fun. Grace's organist/choir director (who is also an assistant professor of music at ULM), Dr Rick Seiler, is obviously perfect for the job. Yesterday morning was my second rehearsal, after which I sang with the choir during the main morning eucharist.

I have committed to singing with them through the next two weeks or so, which will include a late Christmas Eve service, but I can already tell it will that be tempting to stick around longer. A big negative: I can't sing with Grace's choir and go to Auburn's morning service. A superficial positive: Grace's choir vestments, a black cassock and a surplice. (And on that note, I just learned about an upcoming super hero costume party that some friends are hosting; Hollie said that if I wore just the cassock, I could pull off a Matrix character or some such super hero.)

jon :: link :: comment ::

Saturday, December 13, 2003

A Nightmare & Relief

I just woke up from a nightmare, and I thought since I'm up, I might as well blog.

I don't usually have nightmares, or, if I do, I don't remember them. Now that I think of it, I'm sure this one had something to do with the fact that I watched City of Ghosts before I went to bed (and despite the facts that I can't stand Matt Dillon and that it wasn't a very good film, I kind of enjoyed it). At any rate, something woke me up before we caught the culprit; and, as a result, I remember it all just a bit too vividly.

We had moved to New Orleans for some unknown reason, to an awful part of town. Even our landlord didn't realize how bad our place was until right before we moved in. He was working on getting us into a new place in the next day or two, but he was currently unavailable. I know because I kept wanting another man around to help. I don't remember the place looking that bad during the day, but we were plagued with violent, twisted intruders all day who turned an apparently nice-looking place into a hellhole. Worst of all, we were never sure we had gotten rid of the main culprit (who was catching people and biting them to the point that they needed hospitalization), and we couldn't be sure others were kept out; our back door would have been better suited to a grandma's farm than to the slums we were apparently living in. When I finally stepped outside that night, I saw for the first time that our front door was caddy-corner from a techno, neon strip club. I began to wonder if it could get any worse. Of course it could. Later, a group of vicious women broke in the front and started harassing Hollie. I was still busy trying to catch the other intruder when I heard what was going on, but we managed to get the bitches out. Now it was back to the biter.

I could go on, but I won't. I should get back to bed. I will say, though, that I was glad I woke up with firearms near at hand. It's been years since I was that comforted by a gun.

And finally, in a much happier tune, I must sing the praises of Hollie, Callie, and my mother-in-law, who unpacked nearly all of the remaining stuff from our move today. For instance, our built-in bookshelves are finally filled with books instead of boxes. It's quite a load off, and the place looks ten times better.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Sunday, December 7, 2003

The Princeton Proposal

I just finished reading In One Body Through the Cross: The Princeton Proposal for Christian Unity (Eerdmans, 2003), and if you're interested in ecumensism, catholicity, church unity, or whatever you like to call it, you must read this short work of 55-60 pages. Sponsored by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology and edited by Carl Braaten & Robert Jenson, "the document is the work of sixteen theologians and ecumenists, gathered from across the ecumene, who met for three years at Princeton, New Jersey, to consider what may be called the ecclesiology of ecumenism." (Those sixteen do not include Braaten & Jenson; of the sixteen, the only names I recognize are George Lindbeck, Geoffrey Wainwright, Telford Work, and David Yeago.) I give it two thumbs up.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Friday, December 5, 2003

Grace Job Update
Today I got more info on the Grace job, including a tour of the church office. Looks like the work mostly consists of desktop publishing (service programs, a monthly newsletter, annual parish meeting minutes, etc) and assisting the rector with administrative matters. Grace also has a receptionist who handles most of the incoming phone calls and keeps the church records (of baptism & confirmation), and a separate financial secretary. To be honest, it looks too good to be true. And that's precisely why I'm not getting my hopes up.

Now it's time to get my resume updated, formatted, and ready for my "recommender" to give to Father Riley when he gets back Saturday night. I've mentioned this before, but Father Riley is also the head chaplain for the Kansas Army National Guard; he had a brief activation that began sometime this or last week, but will be back for services (and a funeral) on Sunday. Sounds like he will be interviewing for the position and ultimately making the decision, and the vestry will handle the final, formal details of the hiring process.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Thursday, December 4, 2003

The News From Lake Illbedamned
Well, it's been a quiet week in Lake Illbedamned, my hometown. Maybe not as quiet as we'd have liked, but quiet nonetheless. I myself have been sick for nearly a week. Used a sick day at work and would've used a couple more if I had 'em. (I try not to post about illness too much, but I tend to be sick more than most, especially lately.) Just got back from the grocery store buying antiseptic mouthwash, hydrogen peroxide, and Chloraseptic gargle to treat my mouthful of ulcers, a symptom of a weary immune system if ever there was one. I'm trying to get over a bout of what might be Ethan's parovirus B19 infection or "fifth disease," which can cause complications for pregnant women and serious illness for people with autoimmune diseases like, say, thyroid disease. Hollie had something similar earlier this year, so hopefully she's safe. Me? I'm about ready to post a classified add: "Will Trade Healthy Kidney or Slightly Worn Soul for Healthy to Slightly Worn Thyroid Gland." Either that or a bullet in the brain.

On a less morbid note, I got an interesting call today. Turns out Grace Episcopal is in need of a new church administrator, and the couple who regularly volunteer at the church and are currently filling the gap would like me to apply for the position.* Hm. I always thought I'd make a good librarian or church secretary, two fields that haven't seen enough beards in recent years. We'll see what happens. It could be the perfect job for someone like me with aspirations toward ordination to the ministry of word and sacraments - certainly good experience, and probably enjoyable.

Well, that's the news from Lake Illbedamned, where all the women are pregnant, all the men are sick, and all the children are sick, too. If you think of it, we'd appreciate your prayers.
* I first met Joe at Kinko's, where he was getting some printing done for the church. He is the son of Grace's late rector emeritus, and is currently, among other things, the church choir's coordinator and recruiter. Retired Army Special Forces (Lt Col), he served in Vietnam and later at the Pentagon as a staff officer. Pam is the Connecticut Yankee of the court, and she used to manage the local Entrée Computer Center.

jon :: link :: comment ::

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