Tuesday, January 30, 2007

papers, naivite, questions, frustration

Thank you to all my friends who called, wrote, and sent packages to wish me happy birthday. And to everyone who came over Sunday night to celebrate and eat good food. I'm officially 23, and officially the owner of a large number of excellent cds.

So the paper that caused so much stress last week is finished. I'm not thrilled with the outcome, but it's finished. I'm disappointed in myself for not caring about this next paper, either-the one for the class from last semester that was, to put it nicely, my least favourite class. I've got two weeks. Can it be done? I doubt it can be done well. That's depressing.

Questions distracting me of late:

-Must we relativize the Bible in order to be culturally sensitive? Must we relativize God in order to respond to criticisms about patriarchy and ecological destruction? (Yes, this comes from a class I'm in this semester, Christianity and the Ecological Crisis)

-How long does it take to get over unpleasant events in one's past? Do we ever truly "get over" anything? How do we keep from being constantly re-traumatized, from reliving the pain?

-What does it mean to truly (and healthily) "belong", in culture in which people look for belonging in all the wrong places?

-Who defines what Christianity is? If I think the Bible and Christ are vitally important to Christianity but an ecofeminist nun in Latin America doesn't, how do I wrap my head around it? (again, that class.)

-Why am I at ICS?

-Is the word "God" inherently patriarchal? Can a masculine God save women? (class--and Stu)

-Why don't I do anything about climate change, in my own life, when it's clear that my children will be facing the consequences? Why do we continue to contribute to our own destruction?

-Can naivite sometimes be a good thing?

-Why do I have zero motivation for this upcoming paper when I've always been obsessed with academic achievement? Why am I incredibly disappointed in myself but still can't make myself work on it?

-Why do I always feel like my obligations require more time than I am given each day?

-Why is the sky blue? (Ok, that's been a source of wonder for quite some time.)

100 points to whomever can answer every one of the above questions to my satisfaction. (Chris, be careful--that would be a whole lot of procrastination...)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What is this feeling, so sudden and new?

(Ten points to the first person who can tell me where that title comes from.)

This is a new experience for me. Not that I was always so motivated before, but I had a sense of obligation, of not wanting to let myself or others down, that pushed me through the unmotivated stages satisfactorally.

But now. I'm experiencing a severe lack of motivation, just when my motivation and obligation should be at its peak--it's down to the wire! I'm having a very hard time getting started on my biblical foundations paper. Which is due Friday. Which should be 12-14 pages, at least.

I've done lots of research. And yet I feel I should be doing more. But the pressing time limits preclude any more research. And so I feel somewhat paralyzed. Where do I begin?

Why am I so adverse to writing this paper?? I'm even excited about the topic--although its breadth scares me a bit.

Ok, just sit down at the computer and start with an outline... it'll come...

ICS is humbling in more ways than one. In the end, I hope I will look back on this and reminice about how this time in my life taught me something important about myself. Something. Anything!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Life lessons can come from the daily task of reading for class

"For all that has been,
for all that shall be,
--Dag Hammarskjold, in Radical Gratitude by Mary Jo Leddy

"If one can no longer believe that things will be better and better, then maybe it is still possible to believe that there can be more and more for more and more people--if we just work hard enough and think smart enough. This consumerism has become the materialistic contortion of the modern secular version of meaning. Consumer confidence has become the new economic indicator of hope... In the imperitive of more, the economically generated dissatisfaction of consumerism is combined with the inherent dissatisfaction of the myth of progress in a potent mix. Is it any wonder that we find it difficult to be grateful in a more than intermittent way?"
--Mary Jo Leddy, Radical Gratitude

"The modern loss of faith in the last judgment ultimately results in a loss of belief in the consequences of one's actions and words, in the consequences of one's life...The tragedy is that if we do not think that our actions may have consequences for the worse, then neither will we be convinced that they will make any difference for the better."
--Mary Jo Leddy, Radical Gratitude

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Creating an enlarged mentality

(I owe the expression "enlarged mentality" in the title to Jennifer Nedelsky [one of the profs who taught my law, religion, and public discourse class last semester at U of T], who in turn owes it to Hannah Arendt, who apparently borrowed it from Kant. Just so I'm not stealing it.)

Today in my interreligious dialogue class we talked about how our society might avoid the pitfalls currently affecting much of western Europe, and specifically the Netherlands, as political parties call for harsh restrictions on immigration and laws restricting the religious expression of minorities (particularly Muslims) because of a fear of Islamic fundamentalism. This was in the news most recently due to the rioting of immigrant youth in France, the brutal murder of Theo Van Gogh in Amsterdam, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali's rising prominence in the US as a critic of multicultural policies, arguing that Islam is an inherently violent and oppressive religion.

We discussed the necessity of dialogue between adherents to different religious traditions, especially discussion in which one is open to understanding the life experiences and beliefs of others. One does not need to withhold opinions about right and wrong ways of life, but, out of love for neighbour, should be encouraged to speak sensitively and be willing also to hear criticisms and opinions regarding one's own religious tradition. The class agreed that citizens should invite dialogue as well as accept invitations to dialogue, as Jesus himself did throughout his ministry, with people very different from himself. There is no guarentee that others will accept your invitation, just as many reject Christ's. But we still invite. The more we know about others, the more we can understand why they live the way they do, the opinions they have, their history, and their moral, social, and political views.

I invite you to learn a little bit about the life of a doctor who lives half way across the world.

You're invited.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

big final push

I wish last semester was over. Forever.

I still have to write two papers, due 6 weeks after the last class of last semester. I'm so sick of those classes--IDS particularly--and I'm having a VERY hard time remaining motivated to research and write. I'm disappointed in myself. Although, it made me feel better to hear lots of pepole say last night at book club that they hadn't started their papers for IDS yet either--and they're due next week!

Anything new? Not really. This has been a busy week. I feel a little unsettled--I haven't been home much and my place is a mess. Tomorrow I have to present in my interreligious dialogue class, and then I'm making dinner for my aunt, uncle, and cousin who live above me. I'm looking foward to that. And Friday I have nothing scheduled during the day so I'll get a chance to clean up and RESEARCH for those aforementioned papers...

This was a boring post. I'm sorry.

ps. Has anyone ever read the book Emma by Jane Austen? We read it this month for our book club.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I'm in love!

Now that I have your attention:

I watched a new CBC sitcom on Tuesday night: Little Mosque on the Prairie.

I loved it! I was surprised that it so openly took jabs at Muslims in North America and especially at how it portrayed the ignorance of non-Muslim North Americans (in this case, particularly those living in small towns) about Islam and terrorism. It was quite hilarious, if you ask me. If you're in Canada and can get CBC, check it out next Wednesday. I think it's on at 9pm (here).

This week I had my first classes of this semester. I am much more excited about these classes than about last semesters'!! On Tuesdays I have a class called "Christianity and the Ecological Crisis", and it's a small seminar class (6 students) with all first year Master's students whom I know well and appreciate more. And we're reading Wendell Berry, Norman Wirzba, and the Brazillian ecofeminist Ivone Gebara. AND the prof has listened to us regarding our overwhelmingness (a word??) of last semester and has purposely restricted the reading to 40-50 pages per week. This is heaven!!

Wednesdays I have a class at Regis College, a Catholic college and member of TST (Toronto School of Theology). It's called "Spirituality and Culture" and it's amazing. We'll be reading about and discussing how medieval, modern, and post-modern cultures have historically and are currently impacting Christian spirituality. More great readings.

Thursdays I return to ICS for a class with the same prof as Tuesday: my advisor, Ron. This class is called "Approaches to Interreligious Dialogue". Again, a small class is intimate, and the VP of advancement, John M., is auditing the class. John's awesome. I pressured him to take the class after he expressed interest. Hooray for non-traditional students with great contributions! We'll be talking about Christian approaches to pluralism-- to other religious beliefs.

This week is off to a great start. I'm still feeling pressure to get two papers done from last semestser in two weeks (AHHH!) but at least I'm actually excited to do my assigned reading for this semester.

Monday, January 08, 2007

aforementioned nephew. and niece. and me and mum.

Above: Bradley doesn't like having his picture taken. But he's still cute. Of course.
Now isn't she just the most adorable Pebbles look-alike you've ever seen in your whole life??

Below: (Blogger won't let me put text underneath this picture) A self-portrait of me and Mom.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Oh, Ann.

I just returned from an evening spent watching Garden State and having animated discussions with my dear friend Ann. We're alike in too many ways--it's scary. And our moms will never cease to remind us that they called it. They told us we should be friends before we even met each other at Dordt. Crazy.

I liked Garden State. I also watched Little Miss Sunshine last week with my mom, and yesterday we watched March of the Penguins. I've enjoyed all three. Especially Little Miss Sunshine. Usually I'm determined to be cautiously critical about things that everybody's raving about (ie. Blue Like Jazz), but I think this movie lives up to the hype.

Tomorrow I'm getting life insurance and sewing curtains. And reading all the instructions for my NEW DIGITAL CAMERA!! Thursday I'm heading back to T.O. for a bit, to work and research for papers, and then coming home again to bring back my parents' car and for a doctor's appointment. Then, back to the grind of classes on Tuesday. Yikes! More grad school.