Captain Inertia
Friday, February 28, 2003
Soooo....we had the inaugural bible study/fellowship group thingie last night at church. It went--it went OK. Mercifully.

I left late from work--got caught up in a phone call, blah blah--so I ended up sprinting through Duane Reade, buying sour patch kids and knocking old ladies at the register, worrying I'd be late. But I still got there half an hour early, and spent it dawdling and goofing around with another gal who got there early. In the end there were about four of us--at least for the first 40 minutes. Half of us excused ourselves after that with various commitments (it didn't feel like they were hating on the bible study--just that they had to go, fortunately). So, the last hour ended up just being me and this chick, talking about the curriculum. It was OK.

Mercifully, the beginning is over. Now I can focus on preparing for next week. (laugh) I didn't suck--err, I'm sure I sucked, but not that badly. Now I can get better and prepare better and all kinds of good things. (audible sound of relief from me.)

all those of you who were supporting me prayerfully this week, you rock and thank you.

BeesWeb - Catch of the Day

Richard Thompson is one of my musical gods. If any of you are going to England, let me know and I'll give you cash to buy his new album & send it to me, which has been released there but not here (yet).

This is his website. Be sure to check out the "News from the Home/Road" ones....his hilarious reflections on touring, and, mostly, his ongoing battles with his wife, gardner, and Czechoslovakian poolboy. I mean, what more do you want out of a musician than sophisticated dry wit, bitchin' guitar solos, and songs about bone collectors?

Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Christianity Today Magazine - Bono's Thin Ecclesiology


Any thoughts on this one, fellow U2-ians?
Monday, February 24, 2003
Googlism :

Apologies to my friends who already know about this (i.e., three of the six people who read this blog regularly). I found this site pretty enthralling....and not just because the first entry under my own name was "Captain Inertia is not recovering as well as I'd hoped..."

Also, re: the Grammies. John Mayer won a Grammy and performed solo with acoustic guitar. I will now light myself on fire.

Friday, February 21, 2003
'Patriotism is Not Enough', Sojourners Magazine/January-February 2003

Harvardian Peter Gomes on the war. This strikes me as an excellent exposition of liberal mainline Christian opposition to the war in Iraq.

A couple of things:

1. Peter Gomes married my aunt and uncle umpteen years ago, when he was getting his PhD at Harvard. They apparently remain friends to this day.

2. People who oppose the war keep saying it's a war for oil. Heard a Billy Bragg song on NPR recently--it was really rather amazing--and the chorus was "It's about the pri-i-ice of oi-il..." I can see how that's a possibility, but I've yet to see any persuasive evidence that Bush wants to go to war, not because of terrorism, but because of oil. So I remain agnostic about the whole thing.

That's all. Sorry for the complaining yesterday--I promise this blog will not become a forum for airing my animalistic rages (not that I have them that often). I may air rage, but it will be articulate or at least half-interesting. - NHL - Recap: Vancouver at St. Louis

Well, it's not often one says "Bow before the awesome power of the Canadians!"

But now is one of those times. Somewhere, Dave Nussbaum is wearing a poop-eating grin.
Thursday, February 20, 2003

(hitting head against wall.)

Stressed out. More anon.
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
Unspeakable Conversations

Iiiiinteresting article from the NY Times Magazine about a disabled lawyer who matches up against Peter "We should kill disabled babies" Singer of Princeton.

Obviously, there are plenty of people who disagree with Singer, for all kinds of reasons. But one of the very interesting things about his views is that a) he doesn't seem like a particularly evil person on a personal level, and b) it seems like he is more radical in taking his first principles to their conclusion, rather than in what his first principles are. (Author's article actually calls him brave for doing so, even though she obviously disagrees with him.)

If you believe that there is no God, and hence no over-arching moral authority, no particular sanctity of life; and if you believe, as Singer does, that therefore good and evil basically break down into good and bad, pleasure and pain, his views aren't all that radical.

Assuming Singer's views don't catch on, that he remains (as he hopefully will be) something of a pariah who has interesting views on animal rights but very screwed-up views on human life, his views could have a useful effect--in the sense that they might act as a warning. Hopefully it'll push philosophers and other people to come up with a more nuanced understanding of what 'the good' is, and a more convincing refutation of his beliefs than "Peter, that's messed-up." To do that, you either have to a) go back to God or a Higher Power for some kind of sanctity of life argument, or b) articulate an understanding of good and evil that goes beyond a simple pleasure/pain equation, which would also be interesting.

A Slow, Deliberate Process of Weighing 9/11 Awards

More Feinberg stuff. I just skimmed it, but this seems to portray him as a little bit kinder than some of the other articles I've seen.
Monday, February 17, 2003
So, I'm still freaking out a little bit about teaching Bible study at church. Pr. Phil made an announcement about it in church on Sunday, and we're gonna have an exploratory meeting about it next week (which means, um, New Havenite friends, I might have to come back early on Sunday....sorry...). Part of what's interesting is that a) I'm freaking out about teaching it, because I don't know what I'm doing, and despite the fact that I'm freaking out about it, I'm still as lazy as ever and am having a hard time motivating myself to prepare for it, and b) the nested layers of discontent surrounding the whole process.

By 'nested layers of discontent,' here's what I mean: I don't like the curriculum (4 parts Martin Marty to 1 part Scripture), but I'm going to use it because I'm a perfectionist, and I know if I reject this one I'll spend another month finding a perfect one. And, I'm not crazy about my church. Ah--that may be putting it a bit strongly, but Pr. Phil's sermons have started to go from As and Bs to Bs and Cs lately; there's just an intensity and drive to things at that church that seems missing. But, of course, I'm committed to doing this Scripture study, so I can't very well go to him and tell him that I'm splitting for another church or something. For the nonce, it seems, I have to just keep praying and trusting and swallow my qualms about the curriculum and the church as a whole. Although, obviously, if I end up being in NYC past June, I'll have to address them at some point.

Monday morning, and we're covered in snow. As usual, when it snows, I was awakened at 7.30 by the sound of our Puerto Rican super cursing and shoveling the sidewalk. As far as I'm concerned, though, he can use as many F-bombs within earshot of my window as he pleases, as long as there's not a thick layer of ice out there when I step out to catch the F train. The man's a dynamo.

Also, um, don't ever go grocery shopping during a snowstorm. Bad idea. My Cinnamon Crispix were covered with a fine dusting of snow by the time I got back.

Sebastian and I took a stab at going to see Ted Leo and the Pharmacists at the Village Underground on Friday, but it didn't work out. Garck. If I'd actually bothered to pick up the phone and just call, say on any day between Monday and Thursday, we could have scored tix; by the time we got there, though, they were all gone. (Not that this is the hugest deal, since Ted Leo apparently lives on the road; there have been, without exaggeration, six chances to see him in NYC since this summer.) So we just went to plan B and went to see Daredevil.

Incidentally....under no circumstances should you see Daredevil.
Thursday, February 13, 2003
Sebastian was out with the Teutonic femme version of Dale Earnhardt until 1.30 AM. (insert salacious comment here.) Apparently she was quite a cutie.

I feel like I've been stunned with a taser--I had to schlep back and forth to this meeting today, and my Self-Pity-O-Meter was in the red zone...."it's cold....i'm nose is whole body aches....the wind is whipping through my clothes....maybe when i get back to the office i can crawl under the desk and just, like, whimper....for an hour or so...." (sigh) oh well.

Must communicate with Pastor Phil today about making an announcement about Bible study this Sunday. I'm pretty sure I'm not very well-prepared to teach Bible study next week, but it's got to happen eventually.
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
And you guys wonder if my roommates are cool. This is from an email my roomate Sebastian just sent me:

Just wanted to let you know about my date for this evening - a 20 year old German girl who is leaving Cornell to become...a race car driver. Just thought you would enjoy that piece of information. Talk to you later.

OH yeah! This could be grist for the mill for several weeks.

Hmm. Maybe all the crankiness this week has to do with job dissatisfaction. Right now I"m leaning towards quitting when the lease runs up at the end of May.

The only question is, what then? I've sorta batted around the idea of just moving back to Chicago, which I think would definitely be the easiest thing in the short-term: the lease runs up May 31st, I rent a U-Haul and drive home, I spend June and July basking in parental attention and sleeping in, and then maybe start looking for a job in August. The only thing that makes me nervous is that a) if I quit this job I have no idea what I want to do, and b) most of my good friends are out here on the east coast. Sigh. It really sucks when your family is in one area of the country and most of your friends are in another.


On a non-complaint-related level: I just picked up Elvis Costello's "This Year's Model" over the weekend, and I'm diggin' it already. I listened to "Radio Radio" twice on the walk to the train this morning and as a result I didn't really watch where I was going and almost slipped on the ice. Very exciting. The melodies are a little more complex--they don't have the same "this-is-the-first-time-i've-heard-this-but-clearly-it's-already-stuck-in-my-head" quality as the stuff from "My Aim is True," but they are nevertheless really really catchy. In the liner notes (which are lengthy), Elvis talks about the infamous incident on Saturday Night Live where they started to play "Less than Zero," and then stopped it after a few seconds and started to play "Radio Radio," which resulted in Elvis being banned from SNL for almost 15 years....sorry I missed that one.

Oh, yeah: work.

Everyone who's cranky, raise your hand.

(raises hand)

I don't want to be awake. I don't want to be at work. I don't want to be somewhere where it's cold. I don't want to call anyone for work-related purposes.
Monday, February 10, 2003
A Catholic College Will Rise in Florida

Check out this guy's comments. "The reason God created us was to earn heaven." Once again, a commited Christian goes public with something approaching a Gospel of works rather than a Gospel of grace.

And it sounded totally reasonable when I read it the first time, too.
Thursday, February 06, 2003
The Onion | Yankees Ensure 2003 Pennant By Signing Every Player In Baseball

Not so far-fetched in my opinion.
Jeez, am I really that depressed? Jeez. I gotta stop listening to Tom Waits on the way to work. (Whiny, Homer-Simpson-esque voice: "But he's so *goooood*!")

I'll try to justify that ridiculously broad statement a little bit later.

Realization while riding the A train:

A certain amount of sadness, loneliness, or anxiety becomes indistinguishable from the desire to destroy. Hence rock 'n' roll.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003
I mean, HA! Obviously I have some room to grow in Blogger proficiency.
New York City Department of Heath Restaurant Inspection Information

I mean, click here.
New York City Department of Heath Restaurant Inspection Information

I mean, click here.
New York City Department of Heath Restaurant Inspection Information

I mean, click this. This is both fascinating but also quite unnerving.

Click here if you don't want to get any work done for a while.

Blogs are a little like 'Morning Pages.' (Everyone who recognizes that phrase, raise your hands. OK, now put your hands down: your co-workers are looking at you.) The idea comes from "the Artists' Way," by Julia Cameron, and even though I'm embarassed to admit familiarity with that book, it seems to fly. The idea is that you get up, write your 'morning pages'--just vent your spleen for at least one page, hopefully two, and that way you get it out of your system. Blogging is pretty much the same thing, as far as I'm concerned--hence the amount of frustration and anxiety and irritation and anger expressed in the blog world. (I also considered calling this page "Captain Spleen," but decided that laziness, rather than anger, was my dominating trait. )

Boss at the office today compared me to a scared rabbit in the headlights. Other boss at the office said I was jumpy and asked me if anything was wrong. Think I'm a little nervous about this upcoming performance evaluation? sigh.

Monday, February 03, 2003
Oh, and by the way:

Cranky Drug Counselor in Chicago, if you're reading this, start your own damn blog, loser.
Co-workers have developed an ingenius impression of me. It involves leaning back, closing one's eyes, and then raising your hands over your head and saying, "Guys. Here's the thing." Not bad.

Had an attack of the cranks at church yesterday. Didn't really care for the pastor's response to Scripture in his sermon, and was equally bugged by one left-leaning congregant's prayer that President Bush eventually come around to an acceptance of sending condoms to Africa to help prevent AIDS. (I'm actually totally in favor of this position, but keep it out of prayer-time, please.) In this kind of frustration the apple falls pretty close to the tree: my dad labored through years of terrible, mainline-protestant-syndrome sermons, and eventually just got really cranky about it, and very ready to diagnose the sermoner as 'liberal' or 'left-leaning' or whatver. Now I do the same thing, and not just to preachers. For better or for worse (almost certainly for worse), I'm aware of ideology. Sigh.

Nevermind the fact that I set myself up for this by worshipping in a mainline protestant church, where I'm much more likely than anywhere else to be surrounded by people of a libbish persuasion. The worst thing is that the critical, frustrated mindset that I bring to worship with me gets in the way of my spiritual development.

I'm starting to come around to the point of view that Christianity is about much more than just being right. It's not about having the right position papers on abortion or homosexuality (or sending condoms to Africa or whatever). There is a time and a place for measured, Scriptural decision-making about hot-button issues like that. But I think Christians (namely, me) do themselves a disservice when they confuse the life of faith with thinking certain things are right and wrong....

I dunno. Maybe I'd be more comfortable if I just packed it in at this church and went to Redeemer along with *ALL* the other young yuppie evangelicals in New York. But I'm not there yet....and as one of my friends reminds me on another blog, I think you can bring a critical or frustrated mindset with you to whatever church you go to. Flaws of individual churches are unique to them; but your own problems are portable. Something to pray about.

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