Thursday, November 25, 2010

Christmas Is...

Santa Claus at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. 

No matter how early Hallmark starts selling ornaments or WalMart sets up the whole Christmas section, really it's Santa at the end of the parade (even with Katie Couric's annoying voice in the background) that marks the official beginning of the Christmas season. 

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas Is...

Travel.  And the strange days of vacation that are relaxing and enjoyable, but tiring because they are so not-normal.

I'm at my grandparents' this weekend, where I can access somebody's unsecured wireless internet only while laying diagonally on the bed in the back bedroom, so if I don't get Christmas Is...up for a few days, that's why.  Don't want to be antisocial.  :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Thoughts

I went to an "ecumenical Thanksgiving service" tonight that was "hosted" by the pastor I co-teach confirmation with.  He asked me if I would read, so I read a text from Deuteronomy, and led the responsorial psalm-paraphrase from ELW. 

Other than that, though, I just got to worship, and it was fabulous.  At first, it was hard, because I kept thinking about what I would have done differently, but once I got past that and just got sing and listen and pray, it was awesome. 

It's been a few years since I went to a Thanksgiving service, and we sung - of course - "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come."

Come, ye thankful people, come;
Raise the song of Harvest-home.
All be safely gathered in
Ere the winter storms begin;
God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied,
Come to God's own temple, come;
Raise the song of Harvest-home.
All the world is God's own field,
Fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown,
Unto joy or sorrow grown;
First the blade and then the ear,
Then the full corn shall appear.
Lord of harverst, grant that we
Wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord, our God, shall come
And shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day
All offences purge away;
Give His angels charge at last
In the fire the tares to cast,
But the fruitful ears to store
In His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come
To Thy final Harvest-home;
Gather Thou Thy people in,
Free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified,
In Thy garner to abide.
Come with all Thine angels, come,
Raise the glorious Harvest-home.
I don't think I've ever cried singing this hymn before, but I almost did tonight.  I think part of it was just having been in such a rural area and around all the farmers who have been gathering in the harvest so...faithfully, and who managed to get it all in less than a week before the first snowstorm hit.  And suddenly I was just transported back to an earlier, an easier, a simpler time.  When churches were full on Thanksgiving, or any time there was a service, and when they were all singing this hymn with gusto, and it was so real and poignant and relevant to everyone.  And in a lot of ways, that still is life in this northern town. 

The other thing about the hymn is that it's just so...trusting of God.  Maybe it's just that I loved the opportunity to worship, but I was reveling in singing about turning everything over to Him, about imagining the day when He will "give His angels charge at last."  Ah, even now, I'm getting teary-eyed just remembering it...
Even so, Lord, quickly come
To thy final Harvest-home;
Gather Thou Thy people in,
Free from sorrow, free from sin,
There forever purified,
In Thy garner to abide.
Come with all Thine angels, come,
Raise the glorious Harvest-home.
Yes, please.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas Is...

Christmas is the first snow of the year.  It finally snowed here today!  I am a huge fan of winter, and a huge fan of snow.  I love it.  I relish it.  I wait for it with the impatience of a child.  And when it comes, I giggle and rub my hands together and run outside to twirl around and catch snowflakes on my tongue.  There's something about snow - and especially the first snowfall of the year - that's just...magical.

I was starting to feel a little gypped, like maybe it was never going to snow this year.  Maybe that's because it got super-cold and snowed so early last year, that it seemed to take forever this year.  But anyway, it finally showed up.  And no matter when it shows up, it always feels like Christmas to me.  Bust out the hot chocolate and the Christmas music, cuddle up with a warm blanket and a good book, and enjoy.

Of course, now that I'm an adult, with a life, in the real world that doesn't have "snow days", I find that more often than not, I have to drive somewhere in the middle of the first snowstorm.  Which I definitely do not enjoy.  And that reminds me of this classic Calvin and Hobbes strip, which is so completely true:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christmas Is...

Christmas is trying to figure out how I'm going to get a real, live Christmas tree into my car.  I'm always a little nervous, since I drive a Honda Civic, how I'm going to get a 6-foot-tree in the backseat.  Then again, in my past life, I (more than) once got ten barn signs (4'x8') into the backseat, so I don't know why Christmas trees concern me.

I also wonder where people in this tiny little town buy their Christmas trees.  They probably just go out and cut one down somewhere.  I don't know if I'm up for that, though.  I'm going to a reasonably large city for Thanksgiving, and strongly considering buying one there and bringing it home with me.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christmas Is...

Ok, I promise after tonight I'll take a break from TV stuff for a while...

But Christmas is...catching a Folgers commercial on TV and being reduced to tears.

Yes?  How can this not make you just a tad weepy?

And while we're on the subject, let's have a little entry from Coca-Cola, as well:

So sweet.

More on Death

Wow, I'm just Miss Merry Little Sunshine today, aren't I?

Anyway, this essay on "dying with dignity" by David Mills really hit home for me a couple weeks ago.  It came as I was getting ready for yet another funeral, and basically doing (to be blunt) "Death Watch" for another member.  I wish that I could just cut and paste the entire thing right here, but I think that violates all kinds of "fair use" restrictions.  So I'll put some of the best, and then encourage you to go read it all.

In discussing the current trend toward "Death with Dignity," he writes,
“Death with dignity” offers not only an escape from pain and humiliation, but a rational and apparently noble way to leave this life. All it requires is that you declare yourself God. Make yourself the lord of life and death, and you can do what you want. All you have to do, as a last, definitive act, is to do what you’ve been doing all your life, every time you sin: declare yourself, on the matter at hand, the final authority, the last judge, the one vote that counts.
But you are not God, and, the Christian believes, the decision of when to leave this life is not one he has delegated to you. To put it bluntly, he expects you to suffer if you are given suffering and to put up with indignities if you are given indignities. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord. And that, as far as dying goes, is that.
For the Christian, Mills says, "dying with dignity" means something else altogether:
This is what my father taught me: to die with dignity means to accept what God has given you and deal with it till the end. It means to play the hand God has dealt you, no matter how bad a hand it is, without folding. It means actually to live as if the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, and in either case blessed be the name of the Lord.
And here is why:

It’s what Jesus did: dying with dignity, in obedience to his Father suffering all the pain and humiliation this world could give. That is something to remember, after celebrating the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, of those who have gone before us, if we want some day ourselves to be among the faithful departed.
For some reason, Mills' thoughts here remind me of the Nunc Dimmitis, aka Luke 2:29-32.  The ESV Translation reads:
Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people, Israel.
From years of the LBW, the "translation" in my head is
♪ Lord, now you let your servant go in peace, your word has been fulfilled.
My own eyes have seen the salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of every people.
A light to reveal you to the nations, and the glory of your people, Israel. ♫
Love, love, love this.  Read it at my funeral, mkay?

Tales of a Country Parson, Vol. VI

I've been thinking a lot about death lately, since there's been so much of it around my part of the world.  I myself have conducted 4 funerals in the not-even-three months that I've been here, and there have been 2 others that have taken place in my church building but that I wasn't responsible for leading/preaching.  There were another 4 or 5 over the summer, too, before I got here.  Part of what has made these deaths so hard is that they haven't all been the 90-year-old grandma who's been in the nursing home for 10 years and finally dies peacefully.  No, a lot of them have been younger people dying of cancer or other freak things, and that's harder on people too. 

Frankly, I'm getting sick of it, and so is my congregation.  Last week as I was chewing over the "end-of-the-world" texts in the lectionary, and trying to put together a sermon, it suddenly hit me.  So, so many people in my congregation had been saying to me all week, "There have been way too many funerals lately," or something along those lines.  And on Thursday morning, I made the decision to throw out the lectionary texts and go all-in on what this community is going through - so I preached on Isaiah 40, Galatians 6, and Matthew 11.

I'm fairly certain that I just replicated the 2nd Sunday of Advent in doing that, but oh well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, I guess.  That and the Sunday School kid who was reading the lessons was not at all pleased that he got stuck with like 20 verses out of Isaiah and another 10 from Galatians, and I read 2 whole verses in Matthew...  :-)

Nonetheless, I think it was the right decision.  It feels to me like preaching on that, like saying, "let's take a moment here and deal with the real crap of life instead of just blindly doing what the Revised Common Lectionary tells us to do" really was a sign to the community that "I'm here, and I get what you're going through, and I'm part of it."  Even just right after the service, it seemed like everyone was kind of breathing a sigh of relief, knowing that the fed-up-with-ness of death around here was out in the open.  Hugs were a little longer, handshakes were a little firmer, smiles were a little more sincere.  And as I said to a friend, it felt good to actually have something pastoral to contribute to the general atmosphere around here. 

Sermon after the jump:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Christmas Is...

Anybody who knows me knows that I ♥ Christmas.  Lights, music, decorations, baking, family, movies, traditions, church, snow, books, everything about Christmas is fabulous. 

So I think that starting today, every day until Christmas, I'm going to post a "Christmas is..." post.  That way, the four of you who read this blog will know what my most favorite-est parts are.

So, for tonight we have: Christmas is drinking a mug of hot cocoa (with a smidge of peppermint schnapps) while watching a cheesy Hallmark Channel movie.

On Being Pushed

I so never thought that I would be writing anything about Dorothy Day, let alone something positive.  But I was intrigued by this post over at First Thoughts, which gives us some samples of Msgr. Charles Pope's (note: I don't actually know who that is) favorite Dorothy Day quotes, and I was intrigued by these:
  • Together with the Works of Mercy, feeding, clothing and sheltering our brothers, we must indoctrinate.
  • I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.
  • You will know your vocation by the joy that it brings you. You will know.
So I clicked on the link, which took me over to this site, which comes complete with the totally right-on, but I have never heard it articulated so well statement that,
"I have found that, in order to stretch my boundaries and be truly challenged, I need to trust my teachers and leaders. It’s people I can trust who lead me to stretch my horizons."
This is most certainly true.  I don't know enough about Dorothy Day to know whether I can trust her.  Until I started clicking around on these links, my impression of her was that we disagree on a lot, and that may in fact still be true.  But Msgr. Pope is totally correct in stating that the best people to stretch us are the ones we trust.  When I think about that in my own life, I realize that the people that have pushed and stretched me the most, that have challenged me where I most needed to be challenged, have been people that I trust implicitly. 
It reminds me of this sentiment from one of my all-time favorite professors, Dr. R.R. Reno: 
"We can worry about getting on the wrong train in the foreign train station whose signs we can’t read. But we should also worry about dithering in the station too long and thus failing to get on the right train. We could starve to death in that station if we never leave. This, it seems to me, is the essence of Newman and Pascal’s insight. Sometimes, the dangers of failing to affirm the truth are far greater than the dangers of wrongly affirming falsehood.
If we see this danger—the danger of truths lost, insights missed, convictions never formed—then the complexion of intellectual inquiry changes, and the burdens of proof shift. We begin to cherish books and teachers and friends who push us and romance us with the possibilities of truth."
Of late, I have been absolutely blessed to have those in my life - books and teachers and friends who push me and romance me with possibilities of truth.  I love it.  Dear God, please keep putting those books and teachers and friends in my life.  ♥, Me.

And While We're On the Topic...

This whole TSA thing has gotten ridiculously out of control.  I understand wanting to fly safely, and make sure people aren't bringing bombs on board.  But the fact that we now have government employees literally touching the genitals of innocent Americans strikes me as ridiculous.  It frustrates me that Homeland Security and the higher-ups at TSA keep defending this madness as "it makes good sense."  No, it doesn't.  Stop for just a second and think about this objectively.  There are so many reasons why it doesn't make sense.  A lot of people have already said a lot of other really good things on this topic, so I'm going to post some of them here. 

First and foremost, this issue is about enduring the "Enhanced Pat-Down" if you either
  • a) opt-out of the Nude-o-Scopes, as they are being referred to, or
  • b) "fail" the NoS for some reason.  (A friend of mine "failed" when she accidentally moved her elbow while inside the NoS.)
So, the argument has been made that we should just "go through the scanner."  Well, fine, except for those who accidentally move their elbows, or whatever else.  Also, scientists are not exactly convinced that these things are safe.  I, for one, do not plan on going through the scanner.  I have been exposed to enough radiation in my life.  And we should note that when you have x-rays taken in a doctor's office, they give you the lead to cover up your ovaries, and everybody else gets the hell out of the room.  Doctors do their best to expose you to the least amount of radiation possible.  And yet the TSA just runs around saying, "Oh they're safe, it's like a cell phone."  Not to mention the risks to people who are getting radiation treatment for cancer, are pregnant, or are in any way extra-sensitive to the impact of radiation on their bodies.

So, moving on.  Let's say you've failed the PornoScanner and are now next in line for the Enhanced Patdown.  After you've reminded the TSO to put on clean gloves, you're so busy trying to keep an eye on your MacBook halfway across the checkpoint, that you don't notice until the person is grabbing your crotch.  They literally run their hands up and down the insides of your thighs and then touch you "down there" (and "up there" on the women).  This would be bad enough if it were just outside your clothing, but some people have even noted instances of the officers literally placing their hands between your underwear and your skin and running their hands front to back of a person's (male or female) "junk." 

I personally have made it a point in my life not to let anyone touch me "down there" until I'm married.  Call me an old-fashioned prude, I don't care.  It's a huge deal for me.  Even going to the doctor is a little anxiety-producing.  I don't fly next until the day after Christmas, and I'm already getting a little worked up about this.  I can't imagine what it would be like if I were a rape or sexual assault victim, and the trauma that would be induced by reliving that situation. 

Why I Fly Southwest

Because they "get it."  Look, I'm a capitalist.  I freely defend the right of people to make money, and to run their businesses for the purpose of making money.  But I very much appreciate companies who clearly go out of their way to provide excellent customer service as they go about making money.  It says, "We know you have a choice about who you do business with, and we'd like you to choose us."  And when I receive such excellent customer service, I am likely to return.  I'm biased, but that's Starbucks (95% of the time), and it's also Midas.  And it's Southwest Airlines.

With all this hoo-hah (ahem) over the new Special Bonus Feature Edition "Enhanced Patdowns" and Nude-o-Scopes, I've heard little from the airlines themselves attempting to defend their customers.  The pilots unions are starting to get involved, thank God, but the airlines are strangely silent (at least it seems to me).  But in an article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Southwest's senior vice-president of operations, make clear that he's got sympathy for what's going on, and also communicating that there are business impact to this new uh...procedure:
"With people getting partially molested at checkpoints, all that is going to be a real shock for them...TSA will create an issue for us. It's going to slow things down."
But this, this is the best part.  This is customer service.
Southwest will have employees with walkie-talkies at checkpoints to hold airplane departures if passengers are stuck in long lines.
I hate going through the screening procedures at airports already.  It's embarrassing, it's a pain-in-the-rear, it is ridiculously inconsistent across airports, and fliers are rarely treated with common courtesy and respect.  For example, I should be able to watch you open and examine my carry-on items, and they should remain near me at all times, for security's sake.  I may be able to "see" my laptop 10 yards away, but that's not really going to prevent anyone from stealing it.  Further, I should not have to request that you put on clean gloves.  I'm sorry, that's just standard procedure for anyone who wears gloves for any purpose.  If I have to wash my hands just going in and out of a hospital room to visit a patient who I never even touched, you need to change your gloves.  Finally, I am just as deserving of respect as a human being as you are.  I am willing to respect you as the person that has been hired to ensure that my prosthetic leg is not, in fact, a cleverly concealed weapon, if you are willing to respect me as 1) acting in good faith, 2) not deliberately trying to make your job harder or scam the system, and 3) a real human being who is forced into this very personal interaction with a complete stranger. 

Now, going into a screening experience with all-but-certain knowledge that the encounter will be the exact opposite tends to make one a tad nervous and anxious.  Add to that the idea of very long lines during holiday travel, and the very real threat you could miss your flight while standing in that very long line, and now you've got people who are even more nervous and anxious.  What better to give them a small amount of relief than the knowledge that at least the airline they are flying is looking out for them, and won't let them be stranded at a security checkpoint? 

Points to Southwest Airlines.

Dignity in Worship

Christopher Johnson over at Bad Vestments does a good job of reminding us that "Christian worship is not supposed to be about you."  If you haven't checked out his site, take a coffee break and go do it now.  You should be okay just looking at the pictures, but make sure you swallow your coffee and set the mug down before you read the comments - they are always hysterical.

Meanwhile, Fr. Z, who provides "slavishly accurate liturgical translations & Catholic commentary" takes up the cause of dignity in responding to a reader's note:

From a reader:
What do you think about the following announcement at Mass: "At the rear of the church, please pick up a paper leaf and write on it what you are thankful for this year. We will put all of them on a tree and then carry that tree in the entrance procession at Mass on Thanksgiving Day.”
What is this, my old seminary? … er um… kindergarten?
I think that sort of stunt cheapens what Mass is about, erodes what the Eucharist (the Sacrament and Its celebration) is as both Sacrifice and Thanksgiving.  Surely some of you might be saying, “But Father! But Father! Shouldn’t people be bringing their expressions of thanksgiving to Mass? Isn’t that also part of why we go?”
I think that way of expressing thanks is a distraction. It refocuses the attention of the congregation on itself in misdirected sentimentalism. For example, who will pay attention to the processional Cross once that sort of thing is being hauled in, probably by a child. How cute!
I am not against this sort of thing outside of Mass. Maybe they should plan something during the coffee and donuts?
Indeed, Fr. Z.  Indeed.

And Now, a Word From Our Sponsor...


I just want to give a shout-out to my supervisor.  He freaking rocks.  I get the sense that internship supervisors (like pastors in general, I suppose) are all over the map, so to speak.  Some are really helpful, some are fine, some are awful.  Some want you to learn by doing, and trying, and succeeding, and failing, and just generally figuring it out for yourself, with their guidance along the way.  Some will kind of let you do what you want to do - they'll support you at whatever level you take the initiative.  Some want you to learn by watching them do everything.  Some want you to have it all together.  Some get that internship can be rocky and are there to support you.

Now, my supervisor is 90 miles away from me, so I don't see him every day for constant support, advice, and guidance.  But he's very open about being available 24/7; I can call, text, email, or Facebook him; when we meet for supervision once a week, he just says, "So, how's it going?"  And then I talk for the next hour, and he just listens.  And if I say, "I'm sorry I'm talking so much, I just don't have anybody else to talk to during the week," he says, "That's what I'm here for, to give you a chance to process and talk, and if you need to, you can call me anytime just to chat, if you're lonely and just need a conversation."  Bottom line, he is so supportive, and great at giving specific praise and affirmation, which is really helpful for me.  I'm super glad I've got him around. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy um, Saint's Day, Elizabeth!

It was brought to my attention this morning (I've been super-busy all day and haven't had time to blog) that today is the Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.  As with Jerome, I really wasn't sure what I was supposed to do with that.  But I found out about it via a friend who mentioned on Facebook that it was Elizabeth's Memorial (not sure on the capitalization there, anyone know?) and also the world awareness day for the genetic abnormality that her (my friend) little daughter has.  It's interesting for the little girl because Elizabeth of Hungary was (is?) her "baptismal saint", and she was just diagnosed last year with the disease.  Cool (coincidence??) that it all came together on that day.

So I messaged my friend and she shared about some other friends (including a mutual friend of ours from high school) who claim her as their patron saint, and then closed with
That is awesome that St. Elizabeth of Hungary is part of your life too.
It struck me, because even though I claim to "blog under" this woman's name, and I drew St. Jerome for 2010, and I'm really trying to figure out this whole "saints" thing, in a lot of ways I clearly still just don't get it.  I had to stop for a minute and remember: Elizabeth of Hungary is a real person, and the fact that she is "part of my life" totally blows me away. 

Anyway...I'm still waiting for this:
The marriage was in every regard a happy and exemplary one, and the couple were devotedly attached to each other. Ludwig proved himself worthy of his wife. He gave his protection to her acts of charity, penance, and her vigils, and often held Elizabeth's hands as she knelt praying at night beside his bed.
Now, who's the right saint for that request??

Monday, November 8, 2010

Things I Think I Think, Vol.III

  • I think G.K. Chesterton's writing style can best be described as "quirky."
  • I think that the lady I saw cut up a cold, hard-boiled egg and put it in the microwave at the hotel last month goes beyond "quirky."
  • I think I need to visit, in no particular order, Milwaukee, South Bend, Dallas, and Washington, D.C.  I'm still not sold on Berkeley. 
  • I think know that I am tired of October being hijacked by breast cancer awareness crap.  As though there's any person alive who doesn't know that breast cancer exists.  As a childhood cancer survivor, I would like to note that there are 2 classrooms full of kids diagnosed with cancer every day.  You know how childhood cancer research gets funded?  Lemonade stands.  No, for real.
  • I think the commercial with the people doing the macarena in their snuggies is quite disturbing.
  • I've been thinking a lot lately about a patient of mine from CPE this summer who passed away.  His family was with him when it happened, and for the entire week before.  They were a great family, and he was a great person.  The whole thing was beautifully sad, and I've just been missing them recently.
  • I think that "the more things change, the more they stay the same."  Whenever I'm teaching confirmation class and getting a little frustrated with the kids goofing off or not paying attention, I realize that they're doing the exact same stuff my friends and I did when we were in confirmation.  And then I have a lot more grace, I take a deep breath, and dive back in. 
  • I think that I am confused as to how in the world it is almost Advent.  Seriously, where did the time go?
  • I think that Scott Caan is a-freaking-dorable in the new Hawaii Five-O.
  • I think that I wish I had somebody around to talk theology with, just kick stuff around, you know?

Monday, November 1, 2010

I ♥ Books

This is why I read other people's blogs, Tracey's in particular.  Because 1) she's funnier than I am, and 2) just when I'm thinking, I feel like blogging myself, but I don't quite know what to write about, she's got a survey.  And not just any survey, but a survey about books.  Suh-weet.

Here goes.

1. Favorite childhood book?

I'm with Tracey here, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  (I, however, never had an obsession with living in a museum.)  Also, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and The Phantom Tollbooth. 

2. What are you reading right now?

Um, I have several in progress: Jesus of Nazareth, by Pope Benedict XVI; The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis; Evil and the Justice of God, by N.T. Wright; Houses, by Roberta C. Bondi (at the behest of my mother); Theology is for Proclamation, by Gerhard Forde; Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton; and axiom, by Bill Hybels.

Don't judge me.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?

None.  Half the ones on my "in progress" list are from the library.

4. Bad book habit?

Well, probably starting so many different books all at once.  That and buying books that I "just have to have" and then, instead of reading those, go trolling at the library for a million others.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

Like ten books, at least.  Jesus of Nazareth, The Imitation of Christ, Evil and the Justice of God, Facing East, The Case for Christmas, a GRE study guide, and several others.  Hello, my name is Elizabeth, and I have a problem.

6. Do you have an e-reader?

Heck no - it destroys the romance.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several at once?

See #2 above.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?

I don't think so?  Well, I started blogging back in the spring of 2010, and the uh...genre I read most often shifted somewhat around that time, but I don't think the two are particularly related.

9. Least favorite book you read this year?

Whatever book I had to read for Worship class that advocated developing a church ceremony for divorces.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?

George Weigel's Letters to a Young Catholic, this Jesus of Nazareth I've got going on right now.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?

Yeah, I don't know what this means, so I'm just going to go with Tracey's answer because it cracks me up.

“Comfort zone” meaning what? Do I sometimes read wearing tight pants? Do I sometimes read while riding naked on the bus? You use terms but you don’t define them.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?

So, yeah.  Theology.  (Not quite systematics, per se, but more like theology + culture, or Biblical commentary).  Cheap, trashy romance novels.  (Leave me alone, we all have our vices.)  Fun, easy-to-read fiction like the Stephanie Plum or Miss Julia series'. 

13. Can you read on the bus?

Well, no, being as I don't live in a town that has a bus, and even when I do, I don't generally take the bus.  But I can read in the car.  Usually.  Unless it's my parents' car.  I get carsick when I drive their car, let alone trying to read in it while riding.

14. Favorite place to read?

Usually in bed.  Sometimes the couch, or a big cushy chair at Starbucks.  But really, anywhere.  Standing at the kitchen counter, if that's where I get involved.

15. What is your policy on book lending?

Don't wreck it, and give it back.  I have a mind like a steel trap.  If you borrow a book and don't give it back, I'm seriously going to remember like 10 years later. 

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?

I try not to.  But it's difficult for me to go more than 5 minutes from home without a reading contingency plan.  Which means that books are frequently crammed into my purse or backpack, "just in case."  And then, things just happen.  It's sad, though.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?

Mmm...not too often.  I'm more likely to highlight.  I borrowed a TON of books this summer from a friend, and I was loving them.  I had to literally sit and read them in a place where there were no pens or highlighters within reach, or really even within sight, to keep myself from marking them up.  I had the shakes all summer.

18. Not even with text books?

I used to not, I thought it was practically sacreligious.  Textbooks from my first two years of college are absolutely pristine.  Then I got over it. 

19. What is your favorite language to read in?

I once had to take a class on German literature where we had to actually read stuff in German.  And not little kid's books, like Goodnight, Moon or something.  No, like Karl Marx.  And plays, by people I don't remember.  There was one about a flute, I forget the name.  It was sheer torture.  Reading the New Testament in Greek is kind of fun, though.

20. What makes you love a book?

What can I say?  When you know, you know.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?

Um, reading it.  And then really liking it.  And then imagining that others might like it as well.  So, then I tell them.

22. Favorite genre?

We already covered this, I feel like.  Geeky theology stuff, and trashy romance novels.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)

I don't get this question.  If there are genres I rarely read, it's usually because I don't think I'll like them.  And who wants to waste all that time reading a book you can't stand?  It's like paying $10 to go see a movie you know you will probably hate. 

24. Favorite biography?

Biographies.  That's a genre I rarely read.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?

I would imagine.

26. Favorite cookbook?

Whichever one has what I'm making for dinner.  Also, my Facebook newsfeed.  I'm friends with some rockin' SuperMoms who post crazy awesome recipes.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or nonfiction)?

Letters to a Young Catholic, by George Weigel.  Hands down.

28. Favorite reading snack?

M&M's, frozen peas, goldfish crackers.  Anything I can eat mindlessly.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.

Theology is for Proclamation is seriously letting me down at the moment.  Lots of people I admire are practically disciples of the author, and yeah, it's just not working for me.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?

I don't generally read critical reviews about a book.  Unless you mean what's on the back cover, or the fact that some professor assigned me to read it.  So, um, sometimes I agree. 

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?

Um, well, if your book was terrible, how is it going to help anyone for me to pretend otherwise? 

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?

Greek, Hebrew, and Latin.  Oh wait...

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?

Karl Marx, in German.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?

What?  Who gets nervous about reading books?  I do not understand...

35. Favorite poet?

I don't read a whole lot of poetry, actually.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?

I've got ten checked out right now.  Sometimes, that's the low end of the scale.

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?

Um...from time to time...

38. Favorite fictional character?

At the moment?  Stephanie Plum.  But that Huck Finn, he's a loveable little guy, too.  Atticus Finch.

39. Favorite fictional villain?

I don't know...I don't read a lot of books with characters typically described as "villainous."

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?

Far too many.  Also, magazines, so I can get rid of them. 

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.

I was one of those kids that had the side of the cereal box and the back of the shampoo bottle memorized from reading them so much.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.  It bores me to tears.  Does this make me a bad Christian?

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?

Having dry hands.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?

Oh for crying out loud, what is with these questions?  If I loved the book, I tend not to intentionally watch the movie.  Oh, I just thought of one.  Disney's A Christmas Carol that just came out last Christmas.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?

The Great Gatsby.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?

$100, probably.  If it's more than that, I don't want to to think about it.  Unless we're talking about textbooks, then it shoots up to like $500 or something ridiculous.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?


48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?

If it sucked.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?

I would like to.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?

Keep them.  It's kind of a problem, actually.  I have an insane number of books.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?

I don't think so.  I mean, maybe if I'm in class or something, but in general, there are very few books that literally call my name from the shelf, demanding that I read them.

52. Name a book that made you angry.

The one that said churches should have a ceremony to "celebrate" divorce, or whatever.  And then went on to imply that anyone who didn't approve was an old stick-in-the-mud conservative who can't get with the modern times.  Guess that's me.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?

The Hammer of God by Bo Giertz.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?

Joe Lieberman's In Praise of Public Life

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?

First Things.