Monthly Archives: October 2008

Officially declared

As of 2:45 today, I am officially declared as a Classics major. Now the walls are starting to close in…anyone who knows me knows I hate being trapped in anything.

There goes three carefree years…

Good Christians don’t celebrate Halloween, they celebrate Reformation Day

Happy Reformation Day! I propse we all go celebrate by nailing some theses to some doors (another thing classicists excell at, since we know Latin and thus our theses nailing will be more historically accurate).

P.S. were you aware that, unlike how many of us were taught in Quest and Prelude, that Luther and Calvin were actually not BFFs? It seems that Luther didn’t care much for Calvin (which totally makes sense, if you know even a little bit about Calvin).

Not Born of Oak or Rock

I have a new blog under my blogroll. It’s the Crawford Family history weblog and you should check it out, as it has all sorts of interesting factoids about those related to your favourite dinosaur.

How to survive Family weekend

Last weekend was Family Weekend at Calvin. It is a weekend eagerly looked forward to by homesick freshmen, envied by starving upper classmen that wish their parents would come and take them out to eat, and loathed by many who work on campus. Many of these parents are alumni and thus get all nostalgic in the hallways and some are new parents trying to figure out the campus, but whatever catagory they fall into the result is the same: they will block all the doorways they possibly can, clog hallway traffic, take your seat in class and generally make nuisances of themselves.

How to Survive:

  1. Go to class early. It’s a freaking pain in the arse, but it must be done if you want your seat and don’t feel like being stuck behind a family of ten from Montana slowly meandering, taking up the entire width of the hall!, through Spoelhoff.
  2. DO NOT MAKE EYE-CONTACT. This goes double if the parents/grandparents are without a student of guide. This means that they are lost and will ask you for directions…which they will not understand because it is impossible to given good directions around campus (which everyone who has spent even 15 minutes wandering campus will understand).
  3. If you are asked a question speak slowly and w/out acronyms, which is harder than hell for a Calvin student.
  4. Always be on the move. If you are the lone kid on your floor sitting there w/out visitors (even if you are quite content to be w/out visitors) the weird kid down the floor’s parents will pity you and drag yout out to eat with them. Extreme awkwardness will ensue as his/her parents tell you waaaaaaay too much info about baby Johanna’s/Matt’s eating habits.¬† If you were friends with this kid before kiss your friendship goodbye.
  5. If your significant other’s folks come up you will be forced to surrender your weekend. But at least they’ll take you out to eat.
  6. Stay away from the banquet, I’ve eaten better at Knollcrest.
  7. Try not to swear to much at how much your life is being inconvienced, the parents next to you in Johnny’s will not understand that that is simply how dinosaurs communicate.
  8. If you are working that weekend on campus, practise your fake smile, you will need it. It also doesn’t hurt to memorize exactly how you will tell people where the nearest bathrooms are, as this will be the most frequent question you will recieve.
  9. Buy some earplugs. There will be little kids constantly screaming.

How to Teach Science at a Christian College/University (part two)

A very important part of teaching science at a Christian college or university is to try to prove to your students that, despite what they may have been previously taught, science is the Christian thing to do. In fact, you should take this further and assert that only Christians have done science.

This is a tricky thing to do but easier if you realize that homeschooling and the poor state of affairs in both private and public high school education has already done half your work for you. You see, most students,  if they do know anything at all of history before the industrial revolution, have gotten into the habit of seeing the past through a mirror darkly, to use a common metaphor. The past to them is savage, dominated by periods of draconian laws interspersed with periods of decadent sinfullness which always had the constant glow of superstitious barbarism.

So it isn’t hard to convince students that “science” began in the 1700s and that before that time that people literally believed that each night the sun fought an epic battle with the night and that each river had it’s own god. And since we are using the definition of “science” which exclusively means “Science of the West” and that in the 1700s most of the West was Christian (even if just in name only)…viola! Christianity invented science!

This is also an opportunity to interject the Bible into classes again, to continue to ease those students who have been taught to view science as suspect into a lull.

Never, ever mention Galileo or those who were persecuted by the Inquisition or the fact that the church frowned upon Michelangelo inspected dead bodies. In fact, there should be no need to, as science began in the 1700s (and the Catholics aren’t really “Christian” anyways and thus are prone to act in batshit insane ways and that the church has been the only thing ever persecuted in the history of the world).

And there has never been any dissent to Darwin’s theory by the church. Ever. Only wackjob fundamentalists during the modern era have a problem with it. Totally ignore the fact that the very institution in which you teach had a major flare-up between itself and its demoninational body that it belongs to in the 1990s over this very issue.

And should you have a student who actually knows that, yes what we now call the scientific method was devoloped in the 1800s but that nothing develops in a vacuum, that as early as we have records men have sought to create a record of the natural world devoid of pat spititual explanation, that your preferred religion burned down the library at Alexandria and other books which didn’t jive with their thought, that it is no surprise that western science developed during the Enlightenment with the advent of freethinking and that only recently has most of the church come to peace with germ theory, evolution, helicentrism and astrophysics you should only give her half credit.

Postulated that the sun was a white-hot rock millenia before it was cool

Postulated that the sun was a white-hot rock millenia before it was cool

How to Turn Everything into a Devotional or Sermon

There is nothing more satisfying for Christians, it seems, than linking everything with God. Hang out long enough with young, hip and educated Christians and you will see it done well, the older set who are trying to “reach out to” or connect with younger audiences do it much less well.

An example, many, many years ago when the Matrix first came out it was denounced by many in the churched community because it made violence sexy and fun. “But wait!” a young philosopher cried. “It is actually a complex metaphor for Christ!” After that, one couldn’t escape sermons on the Matrix, clips of it being shown in services or Bible studies, books on the relationship between Neo and Christ and all sorts of bizarre kitschy things which Christian bookstores specialize in linking the two.

To be certain, The Matrix was a bit of a challenge. Other movies are easier to subject to this. Any sports movie ever made is a ripe candidate for this process, as are Mel Gibson movies like Braveheart or The Patriot if you belong to a more militant sect of Protestantism.

And, like the Christian music industry, this process is always looking for new genres and styles to latch onto. Case in point: The Office. A funny and delightful show, yes, but lost much of it’s appeal for me when Ken Heffner “discerned” it properly for us during orientation.

And yes, Cultural Discernment plays a key part in this. I told you this phrase was overused!

But this practice has a much more odious application, it kills humor. It is a well-known fact that Christian “comedians” do humor very badly. While they try hard (a little too hard) their humor fails in the way that Jeff Foxworthy’s oftentimes succeeds. The “you might be a redneck…” punchline works because it unabashedly looks at and mocks mercilessly a group that the comedian belongs to. Christians take themselves much too seriously for this to ever happen. Take a look at the reaction movies or books which poke fun at the religion receive and how often Christian “comedy” publications must, it seems, offer a few cheesy melodramatic scenes or serious conversion scenes in order to be lauded.

In short, a sermon or devotion MUST follow the humor in order to make it acceptable in the Christian subculture. Enter the lifeless blog, Stuff Christians Like (have I mentioned yet that the Christian subculture has yet to come up with an idea completely it’s own?). I’d rather not link to it, as I’m sure you all can find it on your own.

While the theme of the blog is a worthy idea ripe with hilarity the author kills it. How? A sermon is wrapped up in each and every tasty morsel of supposedly self-deprecating humor. The author will often latch right onto a great nugget, such as “Making God Emo” or “The three types of Pastors’ wives” and throwing in a charming anecdote about this lovely missions trip he went on that “the eyes of his heart” or other such drivel or trying to explain that wife #2 came to be grumpy via a bad church.

…I could give more examples, but I’m off to a Bible Study where I’m sure we’ll discuss how Christ comes through in the new “Sex in the City” Movie or the latest Coldplay album!

The Woman Who Stole a Piece of My Lung

Every year Calvin has one of two festivals on a rotating basis, the Festival of Faith and Music (FFM) and the Festival of Faith and Writing (FFW). The FFM is by far the most pretentious and painful one to attend (due to the amount of self-congratulation for liking the “right” type of obscure and bad music that one must sit through, as well as a plethera of unwashed indie scum), the FFW is by far the more down to earth of the two festivals.

Unlike the obscure artists invited to play FFm, the Festival of Faith and Writing oftentimes will invite popular¬† authors and unlike how FFM tries to divorce itself from the “Christian” subculture, FFW will often invite such authors as Ted Dekker and Phillip Yancy.

Last year the Festival of Faith and Writing reached out to the WASP housewife who has a love/hate relationship with bodice rippers demographic by inviting Chrstian romance author Francine Rivers to give a talk in the chapel. Guess who was ushering that event?

The audience was exactly as you would expect, with exceptions being few and far between, it was exclusively white females over 40 (the exceptions were the white, college-aged females). They were, at least, an honest bunch. They had no pretensions about going to her talk b/c of how great a writer she was, as many other audiences try to concince themselves, but they were there to see their favorite author and were quite giddy about it.

I didn’t know who the author was until I arrived and I recalled that I had seen my mom reading a few of her books. Since I’m a good daughter and mother’s day was coming up I decided to stick around until after the talk to get a book signed for my mom. After my shift was over and the talk had started I approached the bookstore representative to buy her most current book, as I figured there wasa less of a chance of my mom having read it.

I was shocked that the pretty, young rep. was Esther. Most members of the Calvin community are familiar with her, at least in the fact that all the e-mails from the bookstore come from her. Funny, I had always pictured her as a kindly, old grandmother who wuld make me cookies if I hung around the bookstore long enough.

Esther gushed to me about how “powerful” River’s latest called The Atonement Child was.
“It’s so very powerful!” she gushed.

So I bought it and walked out to the patio to flip through it until the talk was done. i wanted to get a sense of such a “powerful” work. I really wish that I hadn’t. If you enjoy your literature to be full of cliched phrases strung into cliches sentences, which then form cliched paragraphs on and on ad infinitum et ad nauseum; and if you think that this qualifies as “powerful” then, by all means, I would recommend this book to you. Also, if you like stereotypes like “all girls who go to public universities are sluts and their professors hate Christianity with a passion” then you will LOVE this book.

Flipping through that book stole an hour of my life away that I will never, ever get back. And this caused me some grief at the time.

But eventually the talk wound down and the boy-who-makes-me-food (who had shown up a few minutes before this and whom I had tortured by reading excerpts of the book outloud) and I got a position at the front of the book signing line.

Francine Rivers did not look happy. Maybe talking about being a Christian romance author is really hard or maybe she had finally realized that smashing together cliches and stereotypes did not make quality literature, I don’t know.

I handed her the book and blurted out how much my mum liked her. She signed it and then glared at me for a second or two.

Mike and I rushed out of the chapel, in case she had laser vision or had an AK-47 hidden in her giant handbag and was going to start shooting the place up. I made it a few feet outside the doors when I stopped, doubled over and realized that something was very wrong.

“My lung, a piece of it is definitely gone!” I shouted to the Boy. He disbelieved, but I could feel that one of them was flapping around like a plastic bag in the wind.

My theory is that Rivers went for my soul, but finding none she grabbed the nearest available thing (it is true that I do not have a soul), which apparently is the lung. Next time Francine Rivers is in town I am getting the piece of my lung back, goddammit!

Moral of the story: Christian romance authors are terrible writers and will use their powers for evil whenever possible. And that not only does Kaydonthedinosaur not have a soul, but now one of my lungs is also disabled.

The evil wraith who stole part of my lung!

The evil wraith who stole part of my lung!