You rascally little squirrel…

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Pensive Swirls 2: Rules of Courtly Love

Courtly Love is serious business.  Here are the Rules.

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Pensive Swirls 1: Thoreau and Poe go to College

Henry David Thoreau

Hello there people everywhere! Edgar Allan PoeFor your delight and amusement, I’ve decided to get back into blogging and webcomicking. During my undergrad years I’d started a little comic about the wacky untold adventures of history’s most lovable odd couple: Henry David Thoreau and Edgar Allan Poe (college roommates). Since the site that had originally hosted the comic is in internet heaven, I feel an irresistible urge to brush off the dust and cobwebs, and repost. Of course, for most readers these comics will be brand-new, so please disregard that last bit about dust and cobwebs. These comics are new and relevant and NOW.

I’ll also occasionally throw down some of my thoughts on STUFF. My point of view on some things has shifted since I last posted here. Internet, we have a bit of catching up to do.

Anyways, thanks for stopping by.

Going to China!

Hello friends!

ShanghaiThanks to James’ encouragement, I thought I ought to give a little update before Kaylen and I leave for China. For those of you who don’t already know, we’ll be heading out on the 24th of August. We’re both really excited about being in Shanghai but we’re equally nervous about teaching. We had thought we’d be teaching ESL but it turns out that we won’t. I think that I’ll be teaching several regular English classes and a History class. Kaylen will be teaching several English classes, a Geography class and a Drama class. We expect to teach elementary students. The students won’t necessarily be Chinese because we’ll teach at the International Division of a Chinese school.

Shortly after we arrive, we’ll attend a one-week orientation in Shanghai. We’ll get several briefings on how to survive in China and we’ll get some practice teaching.

I’ve been receiving a lot of great books lately which I’m trying desperately to fit into my suitcase. To name a few, I’ve got: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Mouse Guard by David Peterson and The Inner Kingdom vol. I by Bishop Kallistos Ware. So I guess that I’ll have plenty to read over the 13 hour flight—of course I probably should spend that time practicing Chinese…

I miss Orthodox worship. We went once to an OCA Church in Seattle a while back and it was beautiful. Last Sunday we attended Mars Hill Church and listened to a great sermon on money which you can listen to here It was the first sermon I’d ever seen on a projector screen (I didn’t realize it at the time, but the sermon was first delivered in November) and, if you can believe it, this felt quite natural after the first few minutes. The reason it felt like the pastor was in the room was that the sound system was excellent enough to prevent Driscoll’s voice from sounding electronic.

Mars Hill is a quickly growing inter-denominational church (one of the fastest-growing in the country) which, instead building on one enormous campus, is building multiple campuses around Seattle with different pastors. Since services are often packed out, and since the senior pastor, Mark Driscoll can’t be in more than one place at a time, Driscoll will sometimes be preaching at one campus while video is streamed live to the next campus.

This church takes a lot of heat from bloggers—nevertheless, it is one of the best run protestant churches I have seen. The worship is not cheesy, as is much modern “praise music”, but is well-made, is original and is theologically deep. Mars Hill offers free counseling and recovery groups for “people who have been sexually abused; addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, and/or pornography; women who have had an abortion; etc.” In addition to this the sermons are well-crafted, honest, thought provoking and, at times, disarmingly funny.

That being said, it is a world away from Eastern Orthodoxy (with which I’ve fallen in love over the past year). Seeing Protestantism at its best alongside Orthodoxy raises several questions I’d like to ask myself and Orthodox Christians:

Is God raising up and blessing churches like Mars Hill?
Is there anything that Orthodox churches in America should learn from churches like Mars Hill? If so, how much?

But back to our departure to China…By the time we arrive in China, I may not be able to access this blog (wordpress is censored in China I hear). So if Kaylen and I get a blog we’ll probably be hosting it elsewhere. We’ll do our best to make sure all friends and family are informed about the new web address. Take care and God bless!

Married

It’s certainly been a while since I’ve posted here. I’m not sure how active this blog will be in the upcoming year—it all depends. This one might be on hiatus while I start a new blog about adventures in China. However, I would like to mention that I was recently married and that Kevin Burt (one of the groom’s men) wrote a post about the event with which I agree heartily. Thanks Kevin.

You can read it here.

See Christ Everywhere

Kallistos Ware(*UPDATE* I just discovered that my friend Maximos Greeson also recommended the lectures here.)

St. George Orthodox Cathedral has a long list of wonderful sermons and lectures. My favorite so far is a two-part lecture on prayer delivered by Bishop Kallistos Ware. You can download the Windows Media Player file of Session I here. and Session II here.

Icons & Aslan

AslanThis semester I’m taking a 400 level C.S. Lewis course for which we are expected to read one of Lewis’ books a week. This past Monday our class discussed The Chronicles of Narnia. Doodling in my notes, I came across a visual reason that the lion Aslan might be such a potent Christ-figure.

According to Lewis, most of his stories began with powerful images, and it was the image of the lion Aslan that inspired The Chronicles of Narnia:

One thing I am sure of. All my seven Narnian books, and my three science fiction books, began with seeing pictures in my head. At first they were not a story, just pictures. The Chronicles of Narnia all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: ‘Let’s try to make a story about it.”
At first I had very little idea about how the story would go. But then suddenly Aslan came bounding into it. I think I had been having a good many dreams about lions about that time. Apart from that, I don’t know where the Lion came from or why He came. But once He was there He pulled the whole story together, and soon He pulled the six other Narnian stories in after Him.

One reason that the image of a lion captured Lewis’ attention might be that the lion’s mane is a built-in halo (as seen in iconography of Jesus). During the execution of Aslan, we see that, like the halo, the mane is a symbol of Aslan’s power (and divinity, really)—and so the White Witch Jadis is eager to see that it is shaved.

Aslan icon

“Stop!” said the Witch. “Let him first be shaved”

Another roar of mean laughter went up from her followers as an ogre with a pair of shears came forward and squatted down by Aslan’s head. Snip-snip-snip went the shears and masses of curling gold began to fall to the ground. Then the ogre stood back and the children, watching from their hiding-place, could see the face of Aslan looking all small and different without its mane. The enemies also saw the difference.
“Why he’s only a great cat after all!”

Christ’s enemies, watching Him die, also jeered, “Why he’s only a man after all!” The great irony is that Christ’s relinquishment of the privileges of divinity is ultimately Satan’s undoing. Satan attempts to snuff out Christ’s divinity—represented by his halo—by destroying Christ’s physical body. Yet because of Christ’s victory over death, and resurrection, Satan only magnifies Christ’s divinity all the more.

There shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.

Tolkein wrote a new book!

TolkeinThought some of you LOTR fans out there might appreciate this bit of news.

The good:

“An unfinished book by JRR Tolkien will be published in April after being completed by the late author’s son.”

The bad:

“But director Peter Jackson has been ruled out of making a film of Tokien’s other classic, The Hobbit.”

D: