Archive for bible

lavoris and the wizard people

well dear reader, it’s been a few days since i wrote anything on here.  last semester came and went. and then winter break (or as i rather enjoy calling it, christmas break) came and went (by the way, i happened to have a quite a fabulous break and did some quite fabulous stuff, but i’ll be letting you know about that later.  it isn’t quite the time for that yet).  and now i’m back here at the university of connecticut for yet another extended period of growth, learning, and education (it happens to be my sixth one of those in case you were wondering).  seeing as it’s a new semester with new teachers and new work and new toothpaste (i’m currently using the “original cinnamon flavor” paste that is sold by some company called “lavoris” [which seems to be owned and/or operated by another company known as “charlesflora consumer products, llc”].  interestingly, the company’s website mentions a bunch of different mouthwashes that they sell, but no toothpastes [you can, however, purchase a tube from cvs online. thank goodness].  even more interestingly, i happened to purchase this wonderful variety of paste at ocean state job lot.  that being said, with consideration toward the lack of representation on the company website, there’s a good chance that it’s toxic and/or carcinogenic.  oops.  but the flavor’s not bad.  you always have to take the cons with the pros, i guess), things have gotten a bit backed up.  there’s probably a good deal of laziness involved as well, but we’ll just blame it on lots of stuff to do.  if nothing else dear reader, it makes me look better, and seeing as i’m the one writing, looking better sounds like a good plan.

that being said, we can move onto the important (yeah…) stuff.  it just so happens that this semester, i’m taking my first ever university english class.  technically speaking, everyone is required to take an intro-level english class when they get into the school, but i took care of that requirement in high school, so i didn’t.  it’s been rather interesting.  it’s a fun little class about the bible.  uh oh… he said bible but didn’t have a disclaimer at the top of the page.  how does that work?  well you see, it is a bible class.  but it’s also called “the bible as literature”.  so it’s not really a bible class.  it’s like a normal english class with a normal english book but with many more biblical allusions (seeing as every word, theoretically speaking, is referencing the bible… because it’s in the bible).  that’s the way it’s supposed to work at least.  faith does creep into the discussions occasionally, often by accident, but those flames are usually quenched in a timely manner.  i must say, dear reader, it’s a really different way to take the bible and read it.  it’s kind of like trying to watch a uconn vs tennessee women’s basketball game and appreciate the good play of both teams from an unbiased perspective (in the terms of the laypersons [so politically correct], that means it’s hard to do).

just this past yesterday, we handed in our first essays for the class.  my decision-making skills were shown to be a bit hazy with this paper, dear reader.  basically, i wrote a thesis that contradicts thousands of years of jewish tradition and literary merit (and because i know you’re all so interested and curious, my paper was about how while abraham [normally seen as one of the uber-cool guys and big time patriarchs in jewish tradition and history] did do a lot of good stuff for the jews and set their big long journey in motion, he also cursed them with his mistakes and led to a lot of israelite woes long after he had died.  does it line up to anything that anyone thinks?  probably not.  but hey, college is all about experimenting).  as far as trying to make a good impression with your first paper goes, that was kind of, in a word, dumb.  but i had a genius idea as i was trying to decide what to write about and went with it.  i suppose we can just see how things turn out when i get it back.

the one thing that i really took out of writing this paper, however, was that coming up with ideas (even if they are crazy, and maybe even moreso if they are) and writing about them can be a pretty cool thing.  creativity, in a nutshell, is top-notch.  being in a major of quite a musical degree, dear reader, i don’t get to do that a whole lot.

so wait a minute here.  why the heck does he keep writing the stupid “dear reader” thing?  sure, maybe it’s an endearing thing to say… once.  but saying it again and again is just overkill.  with that thought, i agree.  and as such, an explanation.  i’ve actually been plagiarizing that phrase.  i know, not very nice, but it’s getting proper acknowledgment now, so that makes it okay(ish).  i came across a cute little link recently (with the help of the oh so powerful facebook mini-feed [which i’ve have been known to appreciate and, dare i say, praise in the past]) that happens to incorporate said phrase and that i feel shares and exposes my sentiments on creativity quite perfectly.  plus, it’s got harry potter, so how can you go wrong?  it’s a fantastic multimedia experience by some crazy dude named brad neely.  basically, mr. neely took the first harry potter film (which may involve the stone of a certain sorcerer and/or philosopher) and wrote his own script for it called “wizard people, dear reader”.  simply put, you turn down the volume on the movie, crank the volume on the audio file, click play on both at (approximately) the same time, and let the magic (no pun intended) unfold before your eyes.  i must warn you, our friend the narrator does have a bit of a potty mouth at times, but with exception to that, it’s quite a ride.  i provide you with  the “re-envisioned” (as they call it) audio here so that you can join the adventures of hp, the wretched harmony, and ronnie the bear.  you can “just say no” and leave here untainted or click the dazzling link and go for it.  the choice is yours.  all i can say, dear reader, is don’t choose incorrectly.


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disclaimer: so this post is going to have some top quality christian propaganda in it; in my opinion that makes it all the better, but you can feel as you will

i hate things that i don’t understand.  i don’t like change.  i’m a horrendously (slightly) obsessive compulsive creature of habit.  basically, when things go from being one way to being another, it scares me.  not in a boogie man scary way or anything like that, but it creates a strange and different unknown.  and fear of the unknown is one of the biggest fears around.

it’s for that reason (amongst others, i suppose) that i’m a really big fan of both my faith and my religion.   both have been around for a long, long time, and for the most part haven’t changed all that much.  the faith part, some might say, has been around since adam and eve.  they were made by this guy named god and listened to what he said.  they did make one little oops by listening to the snake in the garden, but after having god yell at them and getting kicked out of eden, they straightened out and started listening again.  and if you don’t care to go that far back (whether or not you think we’re monkeys who wear socks), belief in jesus has been around for almost two millennia.  in my book, that’s a hefty bit of time.  and then the whole religion thing.  some would say that catholicism started with jesus dying and the apostles going around saying that he was a pretty righteous dude.  others would disagree and say that original christianity was not by any means the same as original catholicism and that those practices were really started as a more strangling form of religion that was placed upon the roman people by the power of the first council of nicaea in 325 (which may or may not have been imposed upon the church of the time by the oh so powerful emperor constantine [the great]).  personally, i’m all about the first option, but regardless, both points of view leave some sort of catholic teaching beginning between 1,700 and 2,000 years ago.  once again, i’d say that’s a hefty bit of time.

and that’s pretty cool.  in my eyes at least.  it seems firm and steady.  the foundation was put down so well way back when that even through a great religious exodus (often called the protestant reformation [and by the way, i’d like to wish you all a belated happy reformation day!  for any and all of you who were not aware, the 31st day in october [though it can be changed around to a different day if desired, making it more like one of those crazy “observed” holidays that never really make a whole lot of sense] is celebrated by many [especially in the lutheran tradition] as what is very formally called “the festival of the reformation”.  it’s a day to celebrate the great work of martin luther and his theses [there were 95 of them] that sparked the protestant reformation way back in 1517.  now, it was on that day [october 31st] that luther posted his theses [which by the way, were a big list of things that he felt the church was messing up on] on the door of castle church in wittenberg, germany.  as our friends at wikipedia[.com] put it “reformation day… coincides with halloween, but there is no direct relation between the two holidays.”  there are some more conservative thinkers in the christian world that aren’t big fans of halloween because of its pagan [and dare i even say just a touch satanic] history and background.  and that’s brought up a bit in a different wikipedia article that states “some christians do not appreciate the resultant de-emphasis of the more spiritual aspects” of the day.  regardless of how you view halloween, be impressed by the fabulous political correctness with which the writers handled the situation.  it’s well played]) and some crazy situations like having three popes at once or having some rather unfortunate sex scandals plastered across the television screens of the world, the catholic church has stood its ground.  the tradition has held, and simply put, it’s not going anywhere.  for me, that’s actually a huge part of what i believe and why i believe it.  it’s just like the bible.  you can’t can’t claim the bible’s a fake.  it just doesn’t work.  there are so many contradictions and bizarre things in there, that it would be the worst fake job in history.  but it’s still around and still gets occasionally read, so you have to figure that it’s not. and the catholic church is similar.  so many stupid and terrible things have happened in the history of the church, that if it wasn’t a legitimate and solid religion with some real spiritual basis behind it, it would have folded a long, long time ago.  but it hasn’t.  and people still occasionally go to church, so you have to figure that it’s not too bad.

and rather interestingly, that’s what so much of my life is.  habit and tradition.  and most of the time, i love that.  it’s a safe way to work with life, and i like safe.  but then i heard something.  well, i was told something actually.  more in conversation than in eavesdropping, so we’ll go with the “told”.  i was in church.  kind of.  here at the university, there is a student center back behind the church, and on sunday mornings at 10:15 am, they have a mass in the big room in there instead of in the normal chapel.  honestly, i don’t know why it’s in there or when they started having it in there, but they do.  and seeing as i often can’t make it to any of the other mass times offered, i go to that one a lot.  so i was in the student center (which by the way, is often just called “the center” when they make announcements about events and activities that will be happening in it.  that, of course, always makes me think of the “boy meets world” episode when shawn starts hanging out at “the centre”, which turns out to be a cult.  it always settles a little weird in my mind, but what can you do), and it just so happened that there was a silent auction going on in the lobby area of the building to support a couple groups that are involved in trying to help out the people of haiti.  those running the silent auction were walking around making sure everything was alright and that people knew how to make bids and things like that, and a wonderful man named bob (who is one of the guys that kind of unofficially run the church.  every church has those people that are just involved in absolutely everything, and at this church, bob is definitely one of those guys) came over and stood next to me.  we stood observing the scene for a moment, and he said “the money changers are in the temple.”  and he smiled at me and walked off to do something else.

it was really simple and really quick.  and for most people, it probably would have meant next to nothing.  but for me, it packed quite a wallop.  if you didn’t know, that line was a reference to an episode in the new testament gospel accounts of jesus often simply referred to as “jesus and the money changers”.  it’s found in all four gospels (matthew 21:12-17, mark 11:15-19, luke 19:45-48, and john 2:12-15), so that considered, there’s a decent change it happened.  for the sake of space (and goodness, we all know the internet is running low on space), i’ll just give you one of the four.  and i like matthew (it’s a good name), so we’ll go with that one.  the dandy new american translation states, “jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there.  he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.  and he said to them, ‘it is written: “my house shall be a house of prayer,” but you are making it a den of thieves.'”  that only includes verses 12 and 13, but for our little chat that’s really all we’ll need (and on another fun note, john’s version talks about jesus making an impromptu whip to help get people out, which is pretty cool.  though, the fact that the story is given so early in that one gospel [chapter 2] and none of the others gives some scholars the inclination that they may actually be two different events.  my thoughts?  i had no idea about that until i just read it online, so you’ll have to ask someone else for more information in that regard).

there it is.  a lovely tale.  but why bring it up?  why now in the midst of talks of habit and tradition and all that jazz? well basically, because that’s exactly what was going on.  jerusalem was being a big huge creature of habit.  in a nutshell (and a very, very vague and simple one, to say the least), it was close to the jewish festival of passover and all the jews needed to go to the temple and make a sacrifice to god for the festival.  to do that they needed an animal to sacrifice, which they could very conveniently buy in one of the outer courtyardy areas of the temple. however, they had to buy these animals with special money (per the jewish law) that they didn’t normally have on them and had to go to the money changers first to exchange their money.  basically, it was like this:  they had money.  they changed their money to the proper currency.  they bought an animal to sacrifice.  they went and had it sacrificed in the temple.  and now i repeat: very, very vague and simple.  the thing was, jews had been doing this for a long, long time.  jesus and his family had probably done this themselves plenty of times.  plus, the setup was really convenient.  everything these people needed was right there.  in a (really strange) sense, it was the mcdonald’s of passover.

which brings us back to storrs, connecticut.  bob and i were standing there watching this hustle and bustle going on around us with lots of people worrying about making their bids on items and how much money they were willing to spend and all that.  and as bob walked away smiling, i realized that he was so right.  it was exactly the same.  and that confused me so much.  all these people were at church, there to celebrate god, and yet all of the focus was on what was happening outside in the lobby.  instead of being focused on faith and spirituality and listening to the word of god, it was all about bidding and donated items and money.  the thing is, it was all for a great cause.  the money that was being raised was going to end up going (in some way or another) to haiti, which happens to be the poorest country in the western hemisphere.  those people need all the money and support that they can get.  so it was a really good thing.  the catholic church has a list of “corporal works of mercy” that are: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead.  by supporting the auction, those things were going to be able to happen.  but at the same time, i stood there thinking about it, and the one thing that ran through my mind was the overdone and taboo (but if truly thought about and used, oh so perfect) line “what would jesus do?”.

wwjd.  i’ve seen it on posters, necklaces, t-shirts, bracelets, stickers, and a zillion other things.  does it actually make people think about what jesus would do?  maybe.  does it then make people act like jesus would have acted?  maybe.  i really can’t tell you that.  but i can tell you that for once, that line meant something to me because i really had to stand there and contemplate it.  regardless of what kind of swindling and overpricing the money changers and animal sellers were doing around the temple in ancient jerusalem, it was a decent service.  people got what they needed, where they needed it, when they needed it.  money was being spent on the outside, and sacrifice (which i guess could be the equivalent to modern “worship”) was happening on the inside.  it was a tradition of sorts.  a habit, definitely (if not the former).  it was the safe way to do things, so people did it.  and then jesus came in and started knocking over tables and thrashing around his whip.  the obvious question i had to ask myself was whether or not jesus would have done the same in our church.  now there’s the dumb debate over what kind of house of worship jesus would go to if he was around today, seeing as the christians worship him and the jews don’t…but he was jewish…whatever.  that’s not important.  what’s important is what he would have thought and done if he had, for whatever reason, shown up to church that day.  bob was right.  the money changers were definitely in the temple.  they were doing it for a good (even great) cause, but at the same time, the focus on god and worshipping him was totally being averted.  the minds and hearts were being dragged in the wrong direction.  and so i just stood there.  contemplative and downright confused. was what we were doing a bad thing? even though it was in an attempt to help the poorest of the poor? can good things occasionally be not so good? can they even be bad? oh dear. i was perplexed.

and here it comes, the answer.  well, no.  once again, i have no answer for you (it seems like that’s happening more and more often.  either i’m getting more deep or just less intelligent.  i’m definitely going to have to go back to the simple, stupid stuff.  it was a lot easier).  i was perplexed about the issue, and i remain as much so. and yet, i guess the only “answer” i have is to tell you not to worry about answers all the time.  i have books and books of catholic teaching, catholic laws, catholic thought, catholic history and most anything catholic you would ever want to know.  but i can promise you that none of them, even if i did look (which i’ll be honest and admit i didn’t), would have an answer to this question.  in this situation, all of that tradition and all of those teachings still leave us empty-handed.  so when you think about it, the safe way isn’t all that safe.  even with tradition, you can still lose.  for someone who is so big into these long-standing, changeless traditions, that kind of stinks.  but alas.  it happens.  sometimes all we can do is take it in and make our own decisions and opinions.  and sometimes (gasp), that may involve change.  as scary as that can be.

so go grab your wwjd bracelets. put on your jesus t-shirts and wear them proudly. and the next time you do something (anything, really), think about what you’re doing. think about it from all sides and angles. it’s incredible what you can find out when you take a look around the back corner of an issue. and if you find something a little scary, just go with it. it’s the tough things that make us grow and the changes that make us learn. even when we have no idea what jesus would do.

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god’s kids

disclaimer: so this post is going to have some top quality christian propaganda in it; in my opinion that makes it all the better, but you can feel as you will

hola (that’s “hello” for all you french-speakers out there).  so i was in church last week (on friday, september 14th, to be rather precise), and it just so happened to be the feast day for the exaltation of the holy cross.  while not a holy day of obligation, it was still kind of a big deal.  you could tell this because instead of the normal reading – psalm – gospel order that daily masses normally partake in, this mass was more sunday-esque with the reading – psalm – reading – gospel lineup.  i don’t mean to degrade the first three members of that group (which happened to come out of numbers 21:4-9, psalms 78: 1-2 and 34-38, and philippians 2:6-11, respectively), but the reason i bring up my ecumenical outing is due to the gospel reading.  this reading came straight out of the book of john, chapter 3, verses 13-17.  now if you’re in any way biblically literate (and i can say this solely because i consider myself extremely biblically illiterate and still know a bit of this reading), you might have already picked up on the fact that this biblical slice just so happens to include one of the more (and/or most) well-known bible passages in today’s lovely world.  that passage is john 3:16 which reads (in the new american translation), “for god so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”  a lovely passage indeed.  it’s hard to deny that.  but at the same time, it got me thinking.  and honestly, this idea had been floating around in my head for a while.  but when it was read in church, that was it for me.  it made me think.  and when i think, i blog.  and when i blog, you have to suffer the consequences.  sorry.

my thinking, getting back on track, was about the dandy little phrase “his only son”.  this, if you didn’t know, is in reference to jesus of nazareth (who christians consider to be the christ, messiah, and savior of all).  now it’s only three little words (comprising of only twelve measly characters in a microsoft word spelling and grammar check), but those three words (in my mind at least) pack a wallop (which defines as a “pseudo-violently high-powered action performed abruptly”, so it’s quite a thing).  it’s not that i have a problem with the phrase, but i do have kind of a big problem with that phrase.  well, less of a problem and more of a confusion.  a bewilderment, if you will.  for if you’ve ever been to church on a (pseudo-)regular basis, you’ve probably heard at least once (or maybe even twice) that you are a “child of god”.  this, of course, makes the group around you in the religious community “children of god”, as the phrase is often put.  and this is where the problem comes in.  god is the father (…and the son, and the holy spirit.  but the internet doesn’t have enough space to even begin to try and figure out the holy trinity, so we’re not going to go there at the moment).  and we’re (all, if you choose to be at least.  though, i guess in my opinion we’re all his children, and people who don’t want to believe that are just kind of like the rebellious kids who don’t like their parents [whether warranted or not.  and in this case i’d go with the not] and disassociate themselves from their families as much as possible) his kids.  so english language-ly speaking, we are also his sons and daughters.  this being another term that you (the [pseudo-]regular churchgoer) may have encountered.  but… hmm.  going back to john (who i’m assuming was a lovely man back in his day), we see that jesus was the only son of god.  but according to popular linguistics, i (and you, if you happen to be a male) am a son of god.  i can assure you right here and now that i am not jesus (thank goodness.  i don’t think i could take the pressure).  so how does that work?  my best answer is as follows:  not really sure.

 what i am really sure about is that the internet is quite an intellectual resource.  so i did a bit of searching to quench the thirst of my quandary.   in the “son of god” page on the wonderful wikipedia(.com), we find this line right in the opening paragraph: “in christian traditions [son of god] refers to the relationship between jesus and god, as well as a relationship achievable by believing christians”.  so yeah, no help.  they covered both bases to be safe.  interestly, however, it does bring up a good point a bit further down the page about chapter 1 (verse 12) in the book of john.  this verse states “but to those who did accept [jesus] he gave power to become children of god…”  so jesus, the only son of god only a few pages later, gave us the power to also be sons of god.  interesting.

 a quick google search of the term “‘his only son’ god” brought me back to my roots.  sadly, wikipedia is not the end-all be-all source of information (shocking, i know), and so i ventured forward, this time straight into the catechism of the catholic church to see what it had to say.  thank goodness for the internet, because just looking through my copy of the catechism might have taken a while, but instead my online searching lead me straight to part one (the profession of faith), section two (the profession of the christian faith), chapter two (i believe in jesus christ, the only son of god), article ii (“and in jesus christ, his only son, our lord”), paragraph iii (the only son of god).  the most relevant statements, i thought at least, were numbers 441 and 444. number 441 states, “in the old testament, ‘son of god’ is a title given to the angels, the chosen people, the children of israel, and their kings. it signifies an adoptive sonship that establishes a relationship of particular intimacy between god and his creature. when the promised messiah-king is called ‘son of god’, it does not necessarily imply that he was more than human, according to the literal meaning of these texts. those who called jesus ‘son of god’, as the messiah of israel, perhaps meant nothing more than this.” personally, i found the “adoptive sonship” line to be most interesting. number 444 then follows with “the gospels report that at two solemn moments, the baptism and the transfiguration of christ, the voice of the father designates jesus his ‘beloved son’. jesus calls himself the ‘only son of god’, and by this title affirms his eternal pre-existence. he asks for faith in ‘the name of the only son of god’. in the centurion’s exclamation before the crucified christ, ‘truly this man was the son of god’, that christian confession is already heard. only in the paschal mystery can the believer give the title ‘son of god’ its full meaning.”  because i know you want to know, the jesus calling himself the “only son of god” part of that is footnoted with a reference to john 3:16.  darn, no help there.  but, the “he asks for faith…” part two sentences later references john 3:18 (which was conveniently [or not so conveniently] just beyond the extent of the church reading), which states, “whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only son of god”.  there it is again, that same crazy phrase.  still without explanation (but thankfully, my notes in my bible pointed out to me the root of the greek word for condemn.  yeah, helpful).

further searching sent me to an interesting blog called “the monroe doctrine” and specifically a post on it entitled “jesus christ, his only son, our lord“.  it seems to be part of a series of posts about the apostle’s creed and has a whole section about the whole “only son” situation.  it reads, “the phrase ‘god’s only son’ focuses on relationships within the trinity.  god the son is not inferior to the father, but has submitted to the father in order to accomplish the godhead’s eternal purposes.  the terms father and son reveal the eternal and perfect familial love within the godhead”.  personally, i found that pretty interesting, though not particularly helpful.  for some reason, it seems that people are extremely willing to call jesus the “only son of god” while at the same time calling themselves “children of god” even if they might happen to contradict a tad bit (with “a tad bit”, of course, meaning completely).

the only real concept that has brought about any inkling of “okay, maybe that has something to do with it…”, in my mind at least, was in number 441 of the catechism.  the whole adoption thing got me thinking.  maybe jesus is god’s real kid.  and the rest of us are all just kind of step-kids.   yeah, i know.  it doesn’t really make any sense, but i’m working on it.  it’s tough when you don’t have much to go on.  i came across a sermon on the national presbyterian church website entitled “jesus christ, his only son, our lord“, and i had some high hopes for it.  but once again, this explanation falls short. here is the relevant section to read if you so desire: “so much for the relevance of his name. think with me now about his relation to the father as expressed in the words, ‘his only son.’ we in the west can be excused for thinking of biological childbirth when we recite that phrase in the creed. we may even fall to wondering at what point in eternity past god the father gave birth to the son. but that is not the meaning of the phrase, ‘his only son.’ in the hebrew mind, to be a son of someone has far more to do with common ideals than with common ancestry. even in our culture, when someone says, ‘he is a son to me’ they are not talking about matching blood types but about kindred spirits. winston churchill had a son, randolph, but the two never got along very well… but in parliament, churchill had an admiring young colleague named brendon bracken. bracken followed churchill through thick and thin, even to the point of bailing churchill out of financial difficulty just before the second world war… it could be said that bracken was more a son to churchill than randolph, because churchill and bracken were cut from the same cloth. we christians confess that jesus christ is god’s only son in precisely that sense. not that the son is the physical descendent of god the father, for they are co-eternal members of the trinity; but that jesus alone reflects with perfect clarity the glory of the father, and performs with absolute faithfulness the father’s will.”

what i find rather interesting is that the whole “only son of god” thing seems to have been pretty well established by the time jesus was around.  the concept was there.  it wouldn’t really be until a bit later that the church would decide that he actually did fit the bill like he said, but the concept was there.  and if that had stayed it’s course things would have been fine and dandy.  unfortunately (for the sake of this concept but not for christianity in general), paul came around.  and he decided to write about how we are all children of god (see romans 8:14-15 and 2 corinthians 6:17-18 [among others] for more information).  that changed things up a bit.  threw a wrench in the works, i guess you could say.  of course, it’s a beautiful thing to be a child of god, and that “title” (for lack of a better term) truly does emphasize the concept that god loves you unconditionally.  in that regard, it makes perfect sense.  in the logical sense, it’s all there.

 but logical is not really my field.  not at the moment, at least.  not when i (and maybe only i) can see the great debate of “son of god vs. children of god” ravaging forth across the land (yeah, i went for the big time dramatic effect on that one).  is there an answer?  well, maybe.  but not a concrete one from what i know and have read.  maybe we’re step-kids.  maybe we kids in sense of “he is a son to me”.  maybe we’ve just gotten so used to using both terms that they’re both right (or both wrong), and it’s just easier to keep them both going.  i don’t know.  when i started researching this topic, i had very honestly hoped that i would figure this out.  that there would be a simple, straight-forward answer.  but i guess there just isn’t.  i guess it’s just one of those read about it, think about it, pray about it, and then believe what you believe about it kind of things.  darn christianity.  always so full of derstandable things (derstandable, of course, being the opposite of understandable.  you can’t say “not understandable”.  it’s a double negative.  so just drop the “un”.  makes sense to me at least).

 so as i’ve come accustomed to often doing, i’ll leave you with something.  this time it will be a website.  and another version of the answer.  for me, i couldn’t decide whether it was the most helpful or least helpful answer i found.  it’s weird.  kind of risque and out there.  in fact, it’s supposedly from jesus himself (such excitement, i know).  it’s from the answer to the question “was jesus christ the only son of god?” on a website simply called “ask the real jesus”.  i’ll only quote one portion below, but the whole thing is an interesting read.  this section, though, really caught my eye.  it’s quite innovative (and apparently, by the editor’s note-like comment in parentheses at the end, jesus wasn’t so sure about it either).  so good luck on your search for the answer about whether or not you’re really god’s kid (and also your answers to all life’s question, i suppose).  it really is a tough one.  here’s how jesus puts it: “from god’s viewpoint, a lost soul is still one of his sons or daughters. yet, if you go inside the box of the soul, inside the soul’s sense of identity, that soul does not see itself as a son or daughter of god. therefore, in the here and now, the soul is not acting as a son or daughter of god. if a soul does not accept its divine origin, it cannot express its divine potential. if a soul does not accept its potential to be the christ, then the soul cannot be the christ in action. when i appeared on earth 2,000 years ago, only a few people had come to a full realization of their christhood. therefore, one might say that i appeared at a time when there was no other son or daughter of god on earth. i had realized the fullness of my sonship, and therefore i was and i acted as a son of god. in other words, when you look at this situation from a specific viewpoint, it is possible to say that jesus christ was indeed the only son of god who appeared in that particular place at that particular time. therefore, i can understand that some christians have strong feelings for this idea (i am not saying that i share those feelings).”

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news, news, news (with more of evan o’dorney)

first off, i’d like to mention to you all that this blog has reached a bit of a “celebrity” status in the world of internet writing. it seems that due to the previous extensive and intellectual post about spelling bee champion evan o’dorney, we’ve (and by “we”, i clearly mean “it”) been picked up as the official website of the prestigious “evan o’dorney fan club”. i know, it’s darn exciting (but please don’t let anyone know that the “fan club” is actually more of a facebook group [located here] than a legitimate organization. oh, and also don’t mention that said group currently consists of only two members). so i’d like to thank “fan club” president herchenrother for bestowing such an honor on “green cherries on the beach”.

moving on to the important matter of the day (though i’m sure many, if not most, will claim that the previous information was pretty darn important in it’s own right). a while back i made a bit of a promise that i’d be coming out with a biblically linguistical type of post sometime in the near future. and well, i was planning on it. but unfortunately it seems that such a post has escaped the realm of possibility. sorry about that. in it’s place, however, i offer you some good news. the reason that such a post will not be coming out is simply that i decided such a format would not do it justice. instead, i have created a separate blog solely for the purpose of the topic that the post was going to cover. this new and exhilerating blog is called “the words of the lord project” and can be found at make sure to check it out. it’s dandy as candy.

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i’ve come to realize of late that it’s been quite a while since i’ve written anything here on the wonderful little invention that we refer to as my “blog”. it’s been quite a busy end of the semester, trying to learn useless things for useless tests and pretending i know how to play my euphonium. but do not worry. i do have a hypnotizingly interesting post coming soon about linguistics and the bible. sadly, my research has not been thorough enough at the time being to share such incredible things with the world, and as such, you (yes, you) will have to be patient and wait a bit for that excitement. to hold you over, though, i give you this. it is the initial draft of quite possibly the greatest lyricism ever put on a page. and i dedicate it to my good pal ricky. enjoy.

bottom of the sea

lyrics by: matthias of the kazakh

look around the sea little seaweed
so that you may find your one to be,
the right weed to share your dedication
the one straight from the bottom of the sea…
bottom of the sea…

look into your heart little seaweed
time to get up off the sand, you see,
gotta go and choose the weed you wanna be with
go choose that wonderful seaweed…

no it won’t be a real easy thing
to find a weed you care…for,
but it shouldn’t be hard cause
they’re all green and plain, so there…

so don’t try and deny little seaweed
cause it is true love that i can see,
between you and that other little seaweed
yes, that one…from the bottom of the sea…
oh lovely…
seaweed of the sea…

no, i’ve never seen a little seaweed in so much despair
just from a small rejection of the one he loves, who cares…

just look around the sea little seaweed
cause the first one wasn’t one to be,
the right weed to share your dedication
so look again in the bottom of the sea…

yeah, look again in the bottom of the sea…
cause you will find that love to be…

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the big dance

i don’t know what kind of person you happen to be. especially considering that the “you” that is being referred to is actually an infinite number of people all believing that i’m talking directly to them. but that doesn’t really matter. because it’s me we’re here to talk about. and i do know that i happen to be the kind of person that likes to watch the university of connecticut huskies basketball team play (believe it or not) basketball. the soccer team is cool and the hockey team isn’t too bad either. and football…well, we’ll just say that they’re not quite “on par” as of yet. but the basketball team, that’s top notch fun. i’ve grown up watching both of the teams (men and women) since i was but a wee little youngster. and it’s good stuff.

i’ll let you know that i’m writing these wonderful words of praise in the midst of having watched many ncaa tournament games in the past couple of days, and interestingly, one thing that has been conspicuously absent thus far has been any presence of uconn players on the court. of course, that conspicuosity will be ending later this evening when the uconn women take the court against the basketball super power known as the university of maryland – baltimore county retrievers at the hartford civic center sometime between 9:00 and 9:30 pm (it’s marked differently depending on which newspaper, television station, or website you happen to be checking. plus, it really just depends on when the game before it ends, so there is actually a very slim possibility that it will start much later). but after the women take the court tonight, the absence of the uconn men will continue. and it will do so throughout the college basketball postseason, as those same men had a bit of a rough year and didn’t exactly get into either of the postseason tournaments. and i remind you that this was a men’s team that began the season as the eighteenth ranked team in the country and climbed all the way up to to the number nine ranking in the espn / usa today poll courtesy of their 10-0 start. sometimes, though, reality sets in and really blows. unfortunately, they had to start playing mediocre (and occasionally good) teams instead of bad teams and went into a bit of a freefall throughout the rest of the season, finishing up with a rather un-uconnesque 17-14 record. so no tournament for those boys. i guess they’ll just have to go back to stealing laptops or whatever it is they do in the offseason.

while it would be nice to have a male team in the march madness mayhem (hooray for alliteration), it’s been quite a learning experience for me. being in the women’s pep band and getting to travel wherever they happen to travel throughout their tournament, i’ve been anxiously awaiting tonight’s game and the (hopefully) awesome couple of weeks that it will kick off. but the way they set up the tournaments, i had to wait through a couple days of men’s games before getting to the women’s games. and i’ll admit, i wasn’t too excited about the men’s tournament this year. usually i’m all over the whole filling out brackets and trying to be the cool kid that picks all the crazy upsets of the year (like back in the 2005 tournament when i watched kevin pittsnogle single-handedly carry my bracket with number 7 west virginia beating number 10 creighton and then upsetting number 2 wake forest and number 6 texas tech in the albuquerque bracket). and i did that for the women big time. i went through and checked out the teams and filled out the maximum five brackets in the tournament challenge and all that (though it’s tough with the women because you always want to pick good upsets but not as many happen in the women’s tournament). with the men, though, i filled out one bracket and was in a definite “whatever” kind of mood about it. without my team in it, the whole thing seemed a whole lot less exciting.

and then the tournament started. luckily, i had signed up for “march madness on demand” from cbs (which lets me watch any and all of the men’s ncaa tournament games live on the internet) back before the big east tournament when the uconn men still had a chance to get into the ncaa tournament (if all of the other big east teams had eaten bad shellfish, causing them to become too sick to play and thus giving the huskies the big east title [and the corresponding automatic ncaa tournament bid] by default). because of that luck, i was able to watch the games if i wanted to. and it just so happened that back on thursday, when the tournament started, i had a project that i wanted to procrastinate on. so i decided to watch a game. so i did. and then i watched another. and pretty soon i was jumping back and forth between games, and well, basically, i got sucked in.

by the time the evening came and the duke/vcu (virginia commonwealth [because we all know that virginia is technically a commonwealth and not a state] university) game was on, i was gone. i had caught the tournament bug. and it just so happened that in my one bracket i had picked vcu to upset duke. so i’m sitting there watching the fuzzy internet feed of the game, while listening through my headphones (because somewhere in the several hours of watching, my roommate had come back and was doing something else), and loving it. of course, i could have walked over and turned on the game on the actual tv and my roommate wouldn’t have minded at all, but i was too into it to move. i probably even stopped blinking at some point. it was that cool. if there had been any chance of me just watching the tournament that day and then deciding it was just a one-hit wonder of a day for me, this game crushed any thought of that. as i watched vcu strategically tire out duke in the first half and pull to within two points at halftime (after having been down thirteen early on), i just couldn’t wait for the second half.

now you have to understand. i go to uconn, so i’m a uconn fan. but way beyond that, i’ve always been a uconn fan. my parents are big uconn fans, and i grew up with my normally calm and composed father sitting there screaming at the televsion during uconn basketball games. so i just kind of grew up with it and grew up into it.

if you hadn’t noticed (and/or this happens to be the first post of my weblog that you find yourself reading [and if that’s the case, salutations]), i also happen to be a somewhat religious kind of person. and with these two things (namely uconn basketball and christianity) being rather formative in my childhood, i’ve learned that life can be lived in it pretty legitimate (if not very good) manner by following one simple instruction: “you must love one another as god loves you and love your neighbor as yourself, unless she is a tennessee volunteer.” i’m really not much of a bible scholar or anything, but i think that’s in the book somewhere. and if not, it was probably just edited out due to length issues (i mean, you had to milk a lot of squids to get enough ink back in those days). but anyways, the rivalry between the uconn and tennessee women’s basketball teams is pretty much unquestionably the greatest rivalry in women’s basketball. regardless of rank or team status, it’s a great game whenever those two teams get out on the court. unfortunately (for whatever reason), many more people go to watch men’s basketball games (in general) than women’s basketball games. being in the pep band and going to the games, i got to witness firsthand how few people went to a lot of the women’s home games (both at gampel pavilion and the hartford civic center). but let me tell you, when tennessee came to town back in january, the civic center was packed to the brim and people were going nuts. it was cool. (at this point, you may have no idea where i’m going with this paragraph, but here it comes, the tie-in.) so with such an incredible rivalry on the women’s side of things, it would be hard for the men to match that. and honestly, they don’t come close. syracuse is a big east rival, but it’s nothing like tennessee. in my opinion, the closest that the men have to such a rivalry is with duke. it is true that the uconn and duke men don’t play each other all that often. but it’s also true that when they do get to play each other, it’s almost always a game to remember. in addition to having live feeds of all of the tournament games, the “march madness on demand” webpage from cbs that i mentioned earlier also has a “historical highlights” section with twenty-five classic tournament highlights spanning from 1983 to 2006. if you take a semi-close look at those clips, you’ll notice a few things. first of all, uconn and duke are the two teams with the most number of highlights (five and four, respectively). second, they are the only pair of teams that have multiple highlights playing each other (one from 1990 and one from 1999). does that tell you something? maybe. maybe not. something else to remember is that the two times that the uconn men have won the basketball national championship (in 1999 and 2004), they’ve had to go through duke to get there. in 1999, they played each other in one of the grittiest national title games (dare I say) ever, and in 2004, they played in a semi-final game that basically everyone in the country agreed was pretty much the title game (with the winner just having to beat a decent, but not great, georgia tech team in the final). so with all that in mind, i don’t know about you, but i smell at least a bit of rivalry.

and finally, that brings us back to thursday’s matchup. as i sat there, it was great. even though they’re now j.j. reddick-less and aren’t all that duke-like this year (along the same lines that uconn wasn’t very uconn-like this year), it was still a pretty nice feeling to watch them struggle against the eleventh-seeded vcu. those darn blue devils came out in the second half and gained their lead back and it was a little depressing, but with around eleven (coincidence, i think not) minutes remaining, the vcu rams decided to stage a comeback. and they did. and it was darn exciting. as i sat their watching both the minutes on the gameclock and the duke lead dwindle, the madness had taken full control of me. in the game’s final minutes, there were several occasions when i cheered and pumped my fist in the air in excitement, and my roommate probably thought i was nuts (considering i was still watching the fuzzy internet feed with the headphones on, and he couldn’t see or hear any of it). but it was worth it, big time. basically, vcu: 79 – duke: 77 says it all. if i couldn’t watch uconn win on that day, watching duke lose was definitely the next best thing.

so i guess i have to thank the virginia commonwealth university rams for reminding me about how ridiculously awesome college basketball can be. even when your team isn’t in the mix. unlike the pros, college basketball is about teams that are like families. it’s about school pride. it’s about those kids on that virginia campus now being able to talk about that one game for the next twenty years. the players and the coaches aren’t there because they get paid millions and millions of dollars. they aren’t there to become superstars and set records and do all those things that the professionals get caught up in. the college players are there to grow up, play basketball, and enjoy themselves along the way. while i’m still about as anti-tennessee basketball as anybody, the two coaches at that school (pat summitt and bruce pearl) showed this season exactly what i’m trying to say. in short, they get it. in an age where a lot of coaches like to stick to their suits and offices, bruce showed up to a women’s game shirtless, painted orange, and cheering as loud as anyone in the front row of the student section. pat summitt then thanked him by showing up to a men’s game dressed like a cheerleader, leading the arena in the school’s unofficial fight song “rocky top”, and climbing to the top of a cheerleader pyramid.

Bruce Pearl

Pat Summitt

that is what college sports are all about. and basically that’s the reason why i love college basketball and could care less about the nba. it’s just not the same. and so with the uconn women’s opening round game fast approaching, i just hope that they’ll be able to make up for the men’s rough season. watching them win the national championship from probably about ten feet away from the court (which is where the band gets to sit [or stand, rather, as it’s way too exciting to sit]) would be pretty incredible. though as long as they win their first two games and i get to skip some classes and fly out to fresno, california, for the third and fourth rounds, i guess i won’t really be able to complain all that much even if they don’t win it all. and who knows, maybe we’ll get to play against tennesssee for the championship.

but regardless, march is here. the madness has ensued. and i’ve caught the fever that is “the big dance”. i don’t know what the prescription is, but i don’t think i’d want it anyway. luckily, my pep band doesn’t use a cowbell.

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valentine’s day, kind of

disclaimer: so this post is going to have some top quality christian propaganda in it; in my opinion that makes it all the better, but you can feel as you willas you all probably know, today is february fourteenth. so happy methodius and cyril’s day!yes, methodius and cyril. now i know that popular culture says otherwise, telling you some craziness about some guy named valentine, but in all actuality, today is about two lovely men named cyril and methodius.but what about valentine, you ask. well first off, the “st. valentine” that is normally associated with “st. valentine’s day” (which in our wonderfully materialized and secularized culture has simply dropped the “st.”) was actually three men. well, maybe. you see, in the year 496 pope gelasius i declared that february fourteenth would be celebrated as the festival of st. valentine. unfortunately at that point there was really no record of who that valentine guy was or what he did (that being a problem that hasn’t really changed). basically, valentine was honored as one of those “…whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to god.” we know he was a martyr. but how he lived his life, nobody knows. looking back historically, there were three men named valentine (or valentinus in the roman tongue of the day) during the time of the christian church before 496. so logically, the day could have been celebrating any of them. these three men were a priest in rome, a bishop of what was then interamna (and is now terni), and a simple martyr in the roman province of africa. they are all thought to have been killed sometime around 300 a.d., but besides these few facts, we don’t have much else.there are plenty of stories and legends, though, that try to fill in the unknown details of the whole situation. one rather concrete concept is that chaucer, in his work “parliament of foules” made the statement “for this was sent on seynt valentyne’s day, when every foul cometh ther to choose his mate”. it is thought that this idea caused the day to be looked upon as specially consecrated for lovers and as an occasion to send tokens and letters of love. interestingly, there are two separate camps regarding the analysis of chaucer’s line. some believe that his “seynt valentyne’s day” referred to a day halfway through the month of february (on the fourteenth) just as it has become celebrated in modern times. the second camp, however, is of the belief that chaucer was actually making reference to a man named valentine of genoa (who may or may not have been the same man as the previously mentioned bishop of interamna), who apparently used to be celebrated by the church on the second of may. they simply claim that the middle of february would be much too early for the birds to be mating in england. personally, i’ve never been on that side of the atlantic pond, so i wouldn’t really after i’ve been through a (very) brief of st. valentine’s day and the man (or men) behind it, why did i start this whole thing talking about some other strange guys? well, that’s basically because we’re not living in the year 1968. back before the year 1969, things would have been fine. at that point, the church celebrated the feast of saint valentine on february fourteenth and the flowers, chocolates, and other loved-based materialisms followed suit. unfortunately for that lovely congruity, however, the second ecumenical council of the vatican (more commonly known as “vatican ii”) took place between 1962 and 1965. this council made a whole lot of important church decisions and basically tried its best to start bringing the catholic church into the modern world while also holding on to the traditions that had kept it running for almost two thousand years. one decision that was made (and would come to fruition in the year 1969) was to revamp the church calendar. there were a lot of feast days celebrating “great” people that really couldn’t be proven to be all that great. it was decided that one group that had to go was the collection of saints whose lives and actions were heavily based in legend. and believe it or not (from what we’ve learned so far), that included st. valentine. so in that fateful year of 1969, st. valentine’s day became no more. luckily for all the lovers out there, hallmark cards, inc. had been founded way back in 1910 (with it’s slogan “when you care enough to send the very best” coming into use in 1944), thus allowing the romantic side of valentine’s day to charge ahead even without the religious side to back it up.but who in the world (i’m sure you’re wondering) are these cyril and methodius characters? well, they were two brothers who lived in greece in the ninth century (dying in 869 and 884, respectively). their father was an officer in the very slavic portion of greece where they lived. they, however, didn’t really follow along in the family business and became missionaries instead (though methodius did hold a governmental post for a short period of time before “seeing the light”, as they say). one task undertaken by these men was to translate the bible into a language that the slavic people surrounding them could understand and appreciate. cyril (who was originally named constantine before becoming a monk and changing his name) developed the cyrillic alphabet, and the brothers went to the task of composing a slavonic liturgy. their liturgy, approved by pope adrian ii only fifty days before cyril died, spread to bulgaria, bohemia and southern poland. though methodius would end up being exiled when a bunch of bavarian bishops busted in and took control of the jurisdiction of his homeland, he was allowed to return and, according to legend, completed translating the slavonic bible that he and his brother had started in a mere eight months just before he nothing against st. valentine, whichever st. valentine it is that we might be talking about, but i think st. cyril and st. methodius take the cake on this one. unfortunately for all the hopeless romantics and “sleepless in seattle” fans out there, the salvation of eastern europe turned out to be slightly more important to the church than a few love letters, roses, and whitman’s chocolate samplers. and so, happy st. methodius and cyril’s day! but i bet those two guys would have liked all the chocolates, candy, and nice cards if they had lived in today’s dandy little world. so continue with those. they’re tasty.

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