Monthly Archives: September 2009

The Friday Night Post

So it’s official: my life as a grad student as begun.  I am ready to go to bed at 10:30 on a Friday night.

In my defense, I have been TIRED this week.  I don’t think that I’ve been going to bed early enough.  My sleep habits haven’t been helped by the fact that my dear sweet boyfriend has called  after I’ve fallen asleep every night this week.  (And he tried to call earlier tonight, but that happened to fall in the last 30 minutes of the movie I was watching w/ Whitney, and after it was over he was busy.  Grrr.  Argh.  The thought that I’m going to get woken up again after I go to bed tonight just makes me want to fall asleep right now.  Time zones suck.)

My schedule is part of the problem too: it’s all over the place.  I need to wake up at 6:40AM on Tuesdays, 9:30AM on Wednesdays, 8:00AM on Thursdays, and 9:30Am on Fridays.  (I don’t have class Friday, but I ride into campus w/ Whitney and do research assistant work in the Theology Library for a few hours.)  One of my friends said this week that she’s going to try waking up at the same time every day, despite her schedule.  Seems like a nice idea, but there’s no way I’d be able to get up at 6:40 every morning if I didn’t have to.  So the “going to bed earlier” plan it is!  I’ll let you know how this goes for me.

I don’t have many plans for the weekend, which is kinda nice.  I’m looking forward to just hanging out at home and getting some reading done.  I’ve also got to write a 2-3 page paper for Tuesday answering the question “What should the role of Scripture be in the faith and practice of Christianity?”  It’s such an open ended question, and not one that I’d ever really given serious thought to before, so I’ve got my work cut out for me.  But I checked out of the library a copy of the United Methodist Book of Discipline, Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, and John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, so I should have some help formulating my ideas.

A group of us went out to a sports bar last night to watch the Titans game.  I’m usually a “stay at home and watch it in my pj’s” kind of gal, but since our tv’s still out of commission, I was willing to venture out.  It was fun, despite the outcome (stupid NFL overtime rules), but it made for a very late night for me.  (I managed to sleep through my second alarm this morning and overslept.  Hate that “rushing around in the morning” feeling.)  So yeah, I’m looking forward to a low-key weekend.

One thing that we do have planned is for several of us to attend Saint Mark United Methodist Church.  (Steeni: I’m pretty sure this is the church we sang at the year we went to Atlanta on TCA choir tour.)  I’m excited and hopeful.  The church search (was going to say “church hunt,” but I couldn’t resist the rhyme) is beginning to get tiresome.  Last week we visited a very small, non-denominational church close to our house.  The pastor was fairly good, and the service didn’t make me uncomfortable (as so many non-denominational services in the past have), but it really didn’t feel like church to me.  The service consisted of singing 4 praise songs, the song leader praying, the sermon, communion, and one final song.  There were no communal prayers or call & response sections; the service felt really simple to me.

Now, maybe I’m biased because I’ve spent the last week and a half researching how one small ritual (the reception of new members) changed and evolved over 200 years of Methodism.  But I truly believe that the ritual is important!!!   The authors of and contributors to the Book of Common Prayer, and the UM Book of Worship and the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship, and any other source of liturgy, could phrase things in way that is so much richer and more complex than anything I could think up in my head on the spot.  There’s a reason that the Book of Common Prayer is 460 years old and we still consult it.  Communion truly IS a “holy mystery” in which Christ has given himself for us.  (I love that prayer.  Such a great way of describing it.  Transubstantiation, consubstantiation, whatever.  It’s a holy MYSTERY.  That’s the point.)

Relatedly, Thursday’s chapel service consisted solely of music.  (Haven’t mentioned this before: every Tuesday and Thursday we have chapel at 11:00.)  And I just have two words to describe this service: Amazing.  Grace.  Seriously, wow.  The last verse, with the organ booming and piano playing and trumpet blaring, was transcendent.  It was one of the more moving church moments of my life.  (I blinked back tears.)   Whoever says that hymns are old and stodgy and can’t help us commune with God has obviously never felt that.

And this is why I prefer hymns to praise music (especially during a Sunday worship service): hymns are all about the group, the congregation, the community worshiping God together.  Don’t get me wrong, I think that everyone should have a personal, intimate spiritual relationship with God.  (I’m a huge fan of Spanish Golden Age mystic and aesthetic poetry.  Santa Teresa de Jesus’s “Vivo sin vivir en mi” gets me every time.)  But I also feel like it’s important for us as Christians to all to come together as a community on Sundays and worship together, as one body of Christ.

It’s like the story St. Augustine relates in his Confessions: St. Augustine’s spiritual mentor Simplicianus told him a story about the philosopher Victorinus, whom he had known earlier in his life.  Victorinus decided to convert to Christianity privately, and informed Simplicianus of his decision.  Simplicianus told him simply “I shall not believe it or count you as a Christian until I see you in the Church of Christ.”

One cannot be a Christian alone, and hymns are a way of reminding us of that.  And maybe some people get that from contemporary praise songs.  But whenever I sing a praise song, I always feel like I’m a poser or something because I’m the only one in the room who isn’t singing from memory.  And then the Powerpoint that’s projecting the words on the jumbotron (or whatever) invariably breaks or messes up, and suddenly the lyrics are gone and I’m completely adrift. So I’m just moving my mouth and mumbling and hoping no one else is noticing, and before I know it I’ve become completely self-conscious and am no longer worshiping God at all.

Ok, so this post has taken a strange, soapbox-y turn.  Sorry bout that.  I’ll try to keep my next one limited to topics completely unrelated to theology, like fantasy football and TV on DVD.  (Although there might end up being a good deal of praying that gets done over fantasy football…..)

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The Update Post

Hey all!

So sorry i haven’t posted anything here for several days.  School started last Tuesday and I got busy.  Here’s a quick list of fun stuff that’s happened over the last week!

1. Classes started!  I really like all of them so far.  I only have class on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, so every week I get 4 day weekends.  I also started my work-study job as a research assistant for a professor at Candler.  So far this has consisted of going to the library and pulling out old copies of the United Methodist Book of Worship (the oldest dating back to 1851) to compare how the ritual of Reception of New Members has changed over time.  This has been pretty interesting so far!  Today I used a microfilm reader for the first time ever!  I felt like I was Nancy Drew, researching a case or something.

2. I went to the Dekalb Farmers Market on Saturday and it is CRAZY huge!!!!  I got some strawberries (delicious), peaches (kind of mushy), bananas (great, but quickly browning), and croissants (yummy!).  It should be a tourist attraction.  I know I’m planning on showing it to everyone who comes to visit me.

3. The US Open is on right now!!!  Our tv is still broken, so I haven’t been able to watch any of it, but it’s still exciting!  I’m pretty bummed that Andy Roddick went out in the 3rd round, but I’m sure he’ll bounce back in time for the Australian Open.  Right now I’m alternating rooting for Nadal and Djokovic, even though I doubt either of them has a chance at beating Federer.  But Cilic knocked out Andy Murray (aka the Prince of Darkness) this afternoon!!!  Yay!!

4. Relatedly, how adorable is little Melanie Oudin??  My bro and I watched an interview with her after she made it to the 3rd round of Wimbledon, and it was so cute how she just IS a 17-year-old.  She was just so earnest and real.  I’m so excited that she’s doing so well at the US!  Plus, if she continues to do well, it will hopefully put an end to all of those “besides the Williams sisters, the state of U.S. women’s tennis is abysmal” commentaries.  [On that for a moment, could I just say how DUMB those statements are?  That’s like saying “apart from McEnroe and Conners, U.S. men’s tennis sucked on the 80’s” or “Men’s tennis in the 90’s was terrible, not counting Agassi and Sampras.”  “You could say the same thing today about Swiss men’s tennis without Federer, or Spanish men’s tennis without Nadal.   It’s just dumb!  There’s no reason to expect to have more than a few great players from any country at any point of time.]

5. My fantasy football draft was Thursday night!  Here are the players I wound up with:

Active Players:
QB Jay Cutler (Chicago Bears)
RB Chris Johnson (Tennessee Titans)
RB Steve Slaton (Houston Texans)
RB/WR Marshawn Lynch (Buffalo Bills)
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Seattle Seahawks)
WR Braylon Edwards (Cleveland Browns)
TE Greg Olsen (Chicago Bears)
D/ST Redskins D/ST
K Rob Bironas (Tennessee Titans)

On the Bench:
RB Jonathan Stewart (Carolina Panthers)
RB Cedric Benson (Cincinnati Bengals)
RB Donald Brown (Indianapolis Colts)
RB Julius Jones (Seattle Seahawks)
WR Chris Chambers (San Diego Chargers)
WR Nate Burleson (Seattle Seahawks)
QB Jake Delhomme (Carolina Panthers)

I know that I need to move Marshawn Lynch to the bench since he’s suspended for the first 3 games of the season, but I haven’t decided yet who to move up to his place.  Jonathan Stewart’s been injured, so I’m trying to decide between Benson and Brown.  If anyone has any suggestions, let me know!  And don’t worry, I plan on updating the blog weekly with a report on how well my team is doing in the league.

6. Speaking of football, the NFL starts this week!  The Titans have the first game (Thursday night, vs. the Steelers).  Since it’s the only game on Thursday night, we’re getting it here!  I’d really love it if our tv situation was fixed by then, but since I suspect that it will not be, my back-up plan is to hit a sports bar w/ some pals.  Let me know if a) you know if any good sports bars in Atlanta, and b) if you’d like to join me!  Gooooo Titans!!!

7. I still have a whole HALF of my Baked Alaska left!!!  I know that it’s frozen, so it can’t go bad, but I’m getting really sick of looking at it every time I open the freezer.  If you’re nearby, or would like to make a special trip across state lines, please come eat some!!!  If not, I might just give in and pack it in a box w/ some ice and ship the rest of it to Lizzie & Katie Sue in Capetown.  That would work, right?

All right, that will do it for now.  I’ll try to update again soon!!!

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The Baked Alaska Post

This all started when my mom subscribed to Food Network magazine.  Her first issue came bearing the image of Baked Alaska on the front.  “Hmmm,” I thought, “that looks amazing!”  And after reading the recipe, I decided that it couldn’t be that hard to make!  So I ended up spending my first weekend in Atlanta making Baked Alaska.

I tried to document the process with my camera.  Below are pictures!

If you are at all interested in making Baked Alaska yourself, here’s the Food Network recipe.  Please note, it doesn’t say it on the website, but if you print the printable version it notes that the “inactive” bake time is at minimum 5 hours, 40 minutes.  So don’t start this project if you’re planning on taking it to a dinner party in 3 hours.

Some other suggestions/comments from my experience:

The recipe calls for a layer of crushed chocolate wafers before the pound cake.  I don’t know anyone who likes chocolate wafers, so I substituted crushed Oreos.  This was definitely a good call: the crushed Oreos were delicious.

I had a tough time getting the cake to fall out of the metal bowl after turning it upside down.  I owe everything to my dear friend Lizzie, who called me at just that moment of frustration and suggested that I put a warm washcloth on top of it.  I added the washcloth and in minutes the cake had fallen right out.  But by the time this finally happened, the cake had gotten a little warm and the ice cream was melting as I tried to put on the meringue.  So I ended up freezing the cake again for about an hour and putting the meringue in the refrigerator.  When I went to add the meringue again, it worked a lot better.

I’m pretty sure I got impatient w/ my oven and didn’t wait for it to preheat, which could be one reason why the meringue didn’t get brown all the way around and began to slide off the sides.  (Also, I’m not sure how the oven in this house lets me know that it IS preheated.)  So I’d definitely suggest waiting til the oven was good & hot before baking it.

This was such a fun process that by the end, I wasn’t even all that excited about eating it, I was just so glad to have made it!  I will definitely share any future baking endeavors on the blog.  And there’s always room for improvement: Food Network only lists this recipe as an “intermediate” so there are still “difficult” ones out there for me to conquer!

ALSO, I currently have a TON of Baked Alaska taking up major space in my freezer, so if anyone is going to be in the Atlanta area in the next couple of days, please stop by and eat a piece!!!

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