Friday, July 25, 2008

in Scotland

Well, we've just arrived in Edinburgh after a week on Iona. It was a great week and yes there will be pictures...but not until I get home. The internet is sort of spotty here and I don't have the patience to upload in that kind of situation. In the meantime, just know that we've had a great time worshipping, building community, swimming late at night, dancing, pilgrimaging, singing, learning, chatting, just sitting, and drinking lots and lots of tea. Now for a week of vacation in the city! :-)

Back next weekend....

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Scattering--a sermon for Ordinary 15A

Rev. Teri Peterson
RCLPC
Scattering
Matthew 13.1-9
July 13 2008, Ordinary 15A

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Some of you know that I spent some of my growing-up years on a farm—my grandparents’ farm in western Oregon, where we raised sheep. We also seemed to often be involved in some other venture, like making yogurt cultures or growing mushrooms, but mainly we did sheep. And, of course, we had a garden where we grew our own vegetables. I remember the first year I got to have a little corner of the garden all to myself, to grow whatever I wanted. I remember that I chose baby carrots, beets, and corn. I carefully prepared the ground, made little hills in straight rows, and pushed the little seeds into the dirt. I watered, I waited, I weeded, I waited. The carrots and beets grew in abundance, but the corn never sprouted at all. I don’t know if they were bad seeds, or if things just weren’t right in my corner of the garden for corn, or if I planted them wrong, or what—I just know that my very own corn, which I had been so looking forward to, never came up. Ironically, I don’t even like beets or carrots, but that summer and fall I ate a lot of them!

Sometimes I like to tell people this as though it gives me some kind of credibility when I, who have tried for years now to pass myself off as a city girl, drive past cows and chickens on my way to work in an office that looks out on a cornfield. I’m not sure it’s either necessary or working, but there it is—the secret is out: I haven’t always been a city girl, but I like to imagine myself as one!

Interestingly, I don’t think the farmer in Jesus’ parable would have gained much credibility with my grandparents. This farmer doesn’t carefully prepare the ground, removing the rocks, breaking up clumps of dirt, pulling the thorns and weeds, putting down compost. He doesn’t make nice neat rows and carefully push the seeds into the dirt. In fact, this farmer is pretty much the exact opposite of my garden experience—she just flings seeds wildly, letting them go where they will. I imagine this sower tossing seeds left and right, some being carried off by the wind, some falling straight to the ground, some flying back into his face. This is hardly the most efficient way to plant a field! How does the farmer expect any kind of harvest, any kind of return on this investment, any kind of crop with which to feed the family? We all know what’s going to happen—birds are going to eat some of the seeds, chipmunks and squirrels are going to carry some away to a different field, weeds are going to grow up with some, some, like my corn, will never sprout, and some, like my beets, will grow way too thick and bring in more than we can use. Doesn’t this farmer know better?

Well, apparently not. Jesus goes on to explain this parable, saying that the seed is God’s word and that the different places it lands are the different ways we can receive the word. Traditionally we hear about how we want to be good soil, fertile land, where the word can take root and grow and bear fruit in our lives. Which is a good thing to hear! But I have to wonder—can soil change itself? Can rocky soil become good fertile soil on its own? Somehow I don’t think so. And is seed only useful if it lands on good soil? Can God’s word only bear fruit in one type of person? If that’s true, why didn’t the sower take more care with the sowing, checking the soil out first, making sure it was ready and willing and deserving? This is one reckless sower, scattering seed all willy-nilly!

And isn’t that just how God works? Scattering seeds of love and grace and hope, all willy-nilly? We talk a lot around here about how God’s grace is enough for all, indeed that God’s grace is abundant—we don’t have to worry about whether there’s going to be enough for us. As Jesus said earlier in Matthew—just like the sun rises and rain falls on the just and the unjust, grace is sown about, flung far and wide and close by. If God is the sower, then we want the seeds to be recklessly tossed about on every kind of soil! And if God is the sower, flinging seeds all around, some to be eaten by birds, some to be trampled underfoot, some to grow up quickly, some to sprout next to weeds, and some to grow the usual way, then is it possible that all those seeds are useful in some way? Sure, the plant that springs up in the sidewalk and then withers may not look like it’s produced fruit, but the flower might have been just the sign of hope someone needed in the midst of a concrete jungle. So the squirrels and birds run off with some seeds—don’t they need food too? And even plants that grow up with weeds around them give bees and other insects new plants to visit and cross-pollinate. And, of course, almost any plant that springs up will produce new seeds that will be carried away on the wind to plant themselves somewhere new. The life of a seed isn’t as straightforward as it sounds—there are layers and future chapters and sometimes we can’t even see the seed, let alone the fruit!

Interestingly, that’s exactly what people say to me whenever I’m frustrated. I can’t even count the number of times someone has said “I know you’re frustrated now, but you’re planting seeds. Who knows what those seeds will grow into?” And that’s true. But then again, using the traditional interpretation of this parable, it’s God who’s planting, and the seeds appear to be planted in good soil—the people I interact with are mostly people who look like me, and we all want to think we’re the well cultivated field! What about when God is scattering seeds in those other places, the places that don’t look ready or don’t seem right for planting?

I wonder what those places might be? It’s probably different for each of us, but I suspect that sometimes we all have a gut reaction, a first and quickly suppressed feeling of dismay that seed is being wasted on undeserving soil. I often hear about things like this from friends and family when I talk about mission trips or becoming a missionary—after all, part of the American dream is to turn ourselves into good soil at any cost. Today our high school youth, along with their adult leaders, will leave for a week in the inner city. When I told a friend about this trip he asked why I would take our youth “down there” where people don’t want to work, they only want to take advantage of the system. I wonder if this person thinks we’ll be wasting seeds of grace and love when we meet homeless children or when we make meals for hungry people? I don’t think we like to think about these kinds of things—they make us uncomfortable, they make us confront our stereotypes and prejudices, they make us defensive. I think that might be a sign that, once again, Jesus has used a story of God’s love to turn our world upside down.

Did you notice what’s happened in the way we use this parable in daily conversation? The traditional way this parable is explained is that we are the soil, which is an important and useful interpretation. But it seems we often also see ourselves as the sower. But if we follow the story the way Jesus tells it, being the sower means participating in God’s mission by recklessly scattering seeds of love and grace, seeds of good news, wherever we go. Not just in places that we think are worthy of the seeds, but every place. The soil we’re tossing seed to isn’t only the carefully cultivated soil but also the rocky, the weedy, the hard-packed. The soil that looks messy, unkempt, unworthy, that just looks like dirt. God can work with any kind of soil, after all, and so God scatters seeds recklessly and calls us to do the same. May it be so.

Thanks be to God.
Amen.

master procrastinator

Okay, so I was looking around the web for inspiration for this sermon (umm..yeah, that's what the kids are calling it these days) and I came across this video at Queen Mum's place:



Which of course made me think of this video (thanks to RM for bringing the new version to our attention a couple weeks ago!):


.

Neither of these has anything whatsoever to do with my sermon, which must be finished in the next, oh, hour or so.

Back to work...

stuff

I hate buying stuff I already have. 

I know that, somewhere in my house, I have an electricity/plug converter/adapter.  I know I do.  What I don't know is...where?  I feel like I've looked everywhere--places that make sense and places that don't.  I can't find it.

Which means I'm off to buy something I'm pretty sure I already have.

(sigh)  Apparently I can't just live simply, because that would be too easy.  And would require some kind of organizational skills that I clearly lack.

(bigger sigh)

Friday, July 11, 2008

packing

Packing for two distinct and very dissimilar trips that are back-to-back is harder than you might think. The number of cross-over items continues to grow.
Gym shoes.
some toiletries (though for some I have multiples of travel-size bottles, which is handy).
Bible.
books.
messenger bag needed for two different purposes.
water bottle.
flip flops.
flashlight.
windbreaker.
phone charger.


You get the idea.
This doesn't even get into the problem of clothes and shoes. You see, I love love love shoes (though I don't actually like to WEAR shoes if it's warm out and if I'm not somewhere where it's dangerous to not wear shoes) so I'm having trouble deciding what shoes to take to Scotland. But I tend to prefer minimalism in clothes--I don't own a lot of clothes and I tend to go through my clothes a few times a year and get rid of anything I haven't worn in a season. Which means I have a total of about 10 outfits. I own one pair of jeans, one pair of capris, one pair of brown slacks, one pair of black slacks, two brown skirts (one wool, one rayon), two white skirts (one plain, one decorated), and one black skirt. I own about 5 sweaters in varying weights and colors (most shades of blue or red). I own maybe 2 "blouses" and 4 or 5 t-shirt style tops. I have a few sleeveless shirts too. Which all mixes and matches quite nicely for me...especially if i'm going to sit in a church office most of the day (meaning I can wear most things at least twice before washing them) and if I can do laundry frequently. But for three weeks away, traveling/being active AND with limited/no laundry capability? Well...

Let's just say I had to do a little shopping. I got some cheap undergarments and a pair of jeans on clearance at Target ($11!). I'm planning to pick up my stash of free t-shirts (a hazard of working with youth) from my office (forgot to do that today when I was there, meaning another trip there tomorrow when I should be writing a sermon...) so I don't have to dip into my very few top-options while on the mission trip. But still--I'm looking at one pair of jeans per trip right now, which is sort of limiting. So I bought some recycled pants from nau (they're going out of business, so shop now! ha! update--they have apparently been given a second chance at life in a new form, but you can still buy anything they have left in the spring/summer 08 line at 50% off!)--they're water and wind resistant, which means they're going to Scotland! Supposedly they hand wash well too. Thank goodness for companies that make stuff for outdoorsy/travel types. What would we do without them? I also picked up a couple of t-shirts from nau. They say, in morse code all over the shirt, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." How cool is that? recycled pants and Ghandi in morse code. Fun.

I think I've doubled my wardrobe in the past week. But that doesn't solve any of the problems on the list there...so back to the packing drawing board (well, or suitcase-shaped lists!). The trouble is, I really don't want to be materialistic. I work hard at not buying or holding on to stuff. I have a pretty laid-back attitude about stuff--I mean, it's just stuff. Sure, I have stuff that is important to me and that I'd have a hard time getting rid of (which is why I still own books I hated--I can't seem to get rid of books), but overall I don't feel attached to stuff. I feel attached to my cats, my friends, my congregation, my memories and experiences.  But stuff?  Not so much.

I think the gospel calls us to live simply. I think that if we want to live in a way that our planet can sustain our life here, we need to live more simply than most of us do. I think that we who have many privileges also have a responsibility, to tread lightly on the earth, and I think we have an obligation to our brothers and sisters who have different privileges.  I don't think Jesus was kidding when he said that it's hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Then again, I think he means the kingdom of heaven coming on earth, not the kingdom of heaven that only happens when we die.  Sure, "you can't take it with you" but also "you can't even see it's here over your mounds of material 'goods'."  I wonder what thinking about these things does to our vision?  And what it does to our understanding of who is privileged or underprivileged, developed or developing, deserving or not?  Hmm...

Tomorrow: writing a sermon about the parable of the sower. Let's just say this: I think it will be relevant as several ricklepickles head to the inner city for a week. But I am apparently incapable of getting it on 'paper' without the preacher party...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

reading challenge 2008

Okay, so between the train trips to go to the city for the holiday and the internet fasting I've been doing at nights and mornings, I've read three books recently.  I thought I'd share:

The Monk Downstairs and The Monk Upstairs:  I loved these novels.  I'd not heard of them until I saw that someone had purchased them from Amazon through the RevGals store (you can shop Amazon through the search box in my sidebar and the RevGals get a small percentage to help with our various nonprofit things!), and I became intrigued!  They were so fun to read, really quick, and also surprisingly deep.  I loved the descriptions of the active-contemplative life paradox, of an integrated spirituality...and of the developing relationships between an ex-monk and decidedly secular postmodern busy people.  I loved the development of the characters' understanding of themselves, their relationships with each other and with God, and I loved watching them figure out what God might mean for them in these new phases they were entering.  One of my favorite, and most god-sighting moments, came from this quote at the end of one of Mike's letters to Brother Jerome, the monk who insists on corresponding, possibly in order to save Mike's soul.
"Nailed to the rude cross of our inevitable failings, helpless and abandoned, we see the world slip away, in spite of our best efforts to cling to it...Tell that to your seminars, proclaim it from the mountaintop:  God is the nail that splits our palm to break our grip on the world."
wow.

I also read The Faith Club, which is the RevGalBookPals book for July.  I'll be in Scotland, on an internet fast as I travel the most beautiful place ever, so I'll miss the discussion.  But I wanted to read the book anyway and I have tons of thoughts about it.  Here are a few:
* I was frustrated by the way the Christian woman, in my opinion, either misrepresented or didn't understand her own faith tradition, or at least not the broader parts of Christianity.  I don't know if it's because she grew up Roman Catholic and so all her description comes from that, or if it's because churches are doing a miserable job of Christian education, or something else, or all those things.  But even in the appendix that describes Christianity, for instance, it talks about priests and the mass and doesn't use any other language or understanding of those things.  
* That makes me wonder if the other two traditions are faithfully represented or if they have similar problems of lay education?
* I love the way the women were able to talk about big issues, to work together, to become friends, to be honest.  I think that's very inspiring and a serious challenge to all of us who would prefer to isolate ourselves in homogenous communities rather than seek out intentional community with those who are different from us.
* I can't believe these women "didn't have any stereotypes of Muslims"--I just don't see how that's possible.  I'm as incredulous as Ranya about that.
* Did they actually end up with a children's book?  I sort of want to check it out if they did.
* I think the most important thing to learn from this book is that we can learn all we want "about" another religion/faith tradition/culture but until we make friends and share our lives, we don't understand and it's hard to fit caring and compassion and even love into our busy schedules.  It's in building relationships that true diversity, true acceptance, true Christ-like love comes into play.  (that's my opinion, anyway!)

Last but not least, I finally got around to reading Mission Trips That Matter.  I bought this in January when I was at the Blaze at Montreat, and I kept meaning to read it but only now, in the days before we leave on the trip, have I gotten to it in the stack.  It was shockingly good and helpful (and quick to read), not just for youth mission trips but for mission trips in general.  I think I'll also be able to incorporate some of the stuff in here into our overall program year, since this year we are trying to be more intentional about mission being something we can participate in anytime, anywhere, it's not just a trip we take once a year to "help others" and "go outside our comfort zone" and "get closer to God."  Those are all worthy things, but incorporating an overall sense of being part of God's mission all the time would be better.  Anyway--this book is helpful in thinking about different aspects of mission trips and how they can work or not work.  Plus great devotional/journaling ideas!  I took a bunch of the prayers and the journal questions and used them in the devotional booklet I give to each participant for the week.  Recommended!

crazy busy

I'm a blog slacker--sorry friends.  My life is slightly insane right now, so I'll give you all a quick update, and then post stuff I've been reading the past week or so (I think that deserves its own post).

Wisdom teeth update:  the actual extraction sites are fine and healing nicely.  However, I now have pretty serious pain in my lower-right teeth.  I suspect this is because my teeth are moving and this must be a little taste of what it feels like to have braces (which I never had).  If so, wow, kids--that sucks and I'm sorry.  But in any case, the amount of Advil I'm taking is slightly worrisome, since I'm about to be out of town for three weeks.  I really want to be all better now.

Senior-Pastor leaving update:  SP's last day is August 3.  He's packing his office now, which implies that he'll probably be actually gone pretty close to...oh, August 4.  I return from Scotland August 1.  awesome.  Anyway--I've been wondering why I feel a little weird about this, and I think I've figured it out.  SP and I are friends as well as colleagues (at least, I'd like to think that).  I have never had a friend move away, at least not that I can recall.  I've always been the one to move away, or at the very least we've all moved at the same time to go on to different things (as when our YAV group came home from Egypt).  So it's weird because I feel like I should be the one packing and panicking and trying to figure everything out, except I'm not because I'm staying here and he and his family are the ones packing and panicking and trying to figure everything out.  This is a very strange new experience for me.  I think I'm getting a little taste of what I've been doing to my friends and family for the past, oh, 20 years.

Teri's political mind update:  I hate listening to news stories about Israel/Palestine/Iran/Iraq/Egypt/Syria/other middle eastern countries.  It just makes me crazy how we oversimplify and how we tend to be so one-sided in coverage.  How come we are all up in arms (ha, pun intended) about Iran's potential nuclear program but not Israel's verified but lied about nuclear capabilities?  How come we are so incensed about things "Arab leaders" say about Israel but not things Israeli leaders say about Arabs?  How come we are so intense about "democracy" only if it matches ours or if it's convenient for us, but we ignore the fact that Israel has a two-tier citizenship system that makes democracy impossible and Egypt (the model for middle eastern democracy?) is ruled by a dictator who's been in power 28 years?  Also, I'm tired of hearing only about Muslims and not about any religious or ethnic minorities at all.  And in this country, I'm tired of the assumption that everyone's a traditional evangelical Christian.  I mean, seriously.  (some of this is leftover from my reading of the Faith Club, which I'll blog about momentarily...)

leaving town update:  Sunday afternoon, 16 RCLPCles (12 high school youth, 3 adults, and me!) will board a train for downtown Chicago.  We'll spend a week learning about (and hopefully doing something about) urban poverty by living in what I once would have called a "sketchy" neighborhood, hearing stories of people who currently live in poverty and/or who have gotten out of poverty, and serving/serving with people in need in the inner city.  We'll be at soup kitchens, homeless shelters, food banks, urban daycares, etc.  We'll also be using public transportation as our exclusive means of getting around.  It sounds awesome!  We'll be seeking to train ourselves to see the face of God in the city.  I know God's hanging out in the city and now we have the opportunity to be part of that mission.  If you're interested, I'll be posting daily updates, with photos as much as possible, on the church blog.
At the end of the week, the youth and three other adults will come home on the train and I'm headed to the airport for two weeks in Scotland with two wonderful friends.  We're spending a week on Iona (my favorite place in the whole world!) and then five days in Edinburgh (a long time in my opinion as I prefer Glasgow or the Highlands, but whatever), and two days in Glasgow.  Woohoo!  I canNOT wait!!!  I'll be internet-less while I'm gone those two weeks, leading me to...

internet fasting update:  the past two nights I've been leaving my computer in my office and spending time with my kitties and a bunch of books (or trying to sleep through the pain of my teeth).  It's been good, though the morning is the harder time, I think.  I'm so used to checking the weather and also doing blogreading over my morning cereal and tea, so I don't spend as much time on it at work.  It's made for interesting mornings--yesterday I came to work earlier than usual.  Today I tried to do some of the Bible in 90 Days reading, which I am super behind on.  Which I should be doing right now...and I'm teaching a class on this week's reading (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, and 25 Psalms) in 2.5 hours.  So I'm going to get back to Job and I'll update you on my books later....

Thursday, July 03, 2008

dreams, songs, and reading

Last night I dreamed about Scotland. Thats right--I had dreams about being a guest at the Abbey where I used to live and work.  The place is gorgeous in my dreams and I know it will be great again in real life too!  Two weeks and one day until I leave.  I almost can't wait...but I have to, so I guess I will.  Especially since I have to lead a mission trip to the inner city first!!!  Focus, Teri, focus...

I think I'm relatively prepared--I think I have enough clothes for the two-trip packing experience.  I'll have to handwash some stuff in Scotland, but that will be okay because we'll be in one place for a week and then another place for 5 days, which is plenty of time to wash and dry.  I'm beginning to think about being email-free for at least the entire week on Iona, though we'll see how that goes now that the Columba Hotel has internet for a mere 50p/15 minutes (that's $4 an hour!!!).  ha!  I am mentally preparing myself for an internet fast.  I mean, on Iona for 6 days I should be able to go without the internet.  Seriously.  It's only the most beautiful place in the world.

In spite of dreaming about Iona Abbey (in my dream I spent some time in the music loft and in the social-justice niche of the church...and outside on a rocky outcropping that is on the other side of the island but in my dream was right outside the Abbey walls) I still woke up with Blessed Be Your Name in my head.  I've been singing that for two days now.  I don't know why, I just know it's happening.  I don't really like the bridge ("you give and take away.. x3..") but the song sure is catchy.  And very Reformed, which I like.  but after 24 hours, I'm a little irritated.  How come I couldn't dream about a Big Sing and wake up with Iona songs in my head?

last but not least on my morning rambling experience here (my jaw sort of hurts on one side so I am writing this from my bed even if it is almost 9am), we had a really interesting Bible in 90 Days class last night.  I was teaching on Kings and Chronicles, and I had every intention of talking about the relationship between covenant-keeping and land-keeping, and coming around to talk about how even though the land was lost, even though the covenant was broken over and over, God still kept God's promise to David.  There are several times when it says that in Chronicles.  But instead of these things I intended, we got into another discussion of how we can put our faith in the God revealed in this book, but still respect people who see God differently.  I blogged a little about it over at the church blog...I'm aware that I'm not always entirely orthodox on this matter but I think and hope that I am squarely within the story we have witness to in our scripture.  I have more things to say about one of the conversations we had last night, but right now isn't the moment for it.  Later, perhaps...

Okay....time to get moving.  Here's hoping advil will kick in soon!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

firefly season

no, not the TV show...

Summer is firefly/lightning bug season here.  The little lights sparkle around the corn fields (the corn is still short because of all the rain we've had), and the grassy strips along the road are practically fireworks shows.  It is so pretty to drive home at night.  This is one of those times of year when the weirdness of the place I live and work (I live in a thoroughly suburban area, but in the 4.6 miles I drive to work I cross the line into ruralia, with corn and cows being my main scenery within about a mile or so of the church) turns out to be great.  It's pretty dark and there's lots of grass, which apparently is the preferred habitat of the lightning bug.  I love looking at the little sparkles and flashes while I drive.  It makes the whole world seem prettier, somehow.  little lights that light up the darkness.

I did not take this picture...My camera was in my bag in the back seat while I was driving home tonight and everything looked pretty much like this.  This photo is from Flickr and is by cdw9.  If I get a chance before it's too late (what's the lifespan on these friendly little flies?  Like a week?) I'll take one of my own to put up.  For now, thanks cdw9!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Six Flags Great America

Today was a perfect day for Six Flags...and apparently everyone else within driving distance of the place thought so too.  It was packed.  Though my surgeon said all's well, I am still a little sore and he didn't sound excited about riding roller coasters, but I decided to go for it.  Well, sort of--I only ended up riding one because I wasn't willing to stand in line for ages for any others.  Plus you now have to put all your stuff in a locker at the ride entrance/end of the line, which costs $1 at every ride (and you can only use once--it ends when you open it).  That is NOT cool.

Cecily and I rode the train around the park several times--as in, for just over an hour.  haha!  It was relaxing and shady, which was nice.  On the train, however, there is a recorded audio tour-ish voice.  At one point, as you pass the frontier-town area of the park, they say something about the "Crazy Buffalo restaurant."  Except they pronounce it "buffay-lo."  Which made us laugh repeatedly!  Only when driving home, 4 hours later, did we realize (having gone in to check the place out) that it's a buffet.  What are the chances they did it on purpose and said "buffet-lo"?  (the sign definitely says "buffalo"...)  Our slowness made me laugh even more.

There are lots of things about Six Flags that annoy me greatly...the main one being the whole business of the FlashPass.  Paying more than the cost of your ticket gets you special line-jumping privileges.  Meanwhile, the rest of us just stand in line for hours and hours and hours.  So obviously if one has more money, one gets to cut to the front of the line.  Money gets you ahead, not just in life but at Six Flags too.  Gag--this reflection of our culture's obsession with both $$ and getting ahead makes me ill.    (end rant.  prematurely, perhaps, but whatever.)    

Okay, I lied.   I've also noticed that there is no honor system anymore--the locker thing is part of this, as is the business of getting a ticket while you're standing in line (also new) that has a number on it.  If your ticket is out of order, they know you cut and they kick you out of the park.  Cuz they can't just trust you not to cut.  Again with the reflection of the culture--is it possible that we have reached the point where we've lost honor, so the honor system doesn't work?  Are we an honor-free culture?  disturbing.  Okay, for real...no more ranting.  

I'm watching the movie Atonement as I type this.  It's weird, and slow enough to blog and follow at the same time.  This movie came highly recommended...and I've been waiting a couple months for it to come in from the library (when I put it on hold I was like number 130 in the queue).  It seems well done but I don't get it yet.  Maybe all will become clear....