Wednesday, May 24, 2006

so many things or too few things?

Things here are either very slow or too full, because I feel like I don't have anything to write about. Let's see...

--my students at RCG are taking exams and I am finished with them. I said goodbye to many of them and got photos of quite a few. I found out the day before my last day that it was going to be the last day. Good times.

--my seminary students are busy writing and studying away, and this week was the last week of cafeteria meals for them so I'm basically done with them too.

--This week I had my end-of-term dinner party for the seminary master's students and the faculty that teach them. Indian food for 15-20 people! It was my first attempt at large-scale Indian food. I was kind of tired of big dinner parties with mashed potatoes and lentils and salad/soup. I made dal and vegetable curry successfully. I made saffron rice less successfully (the organic Egyptian rice is too sticky). I made chana masala even less successfully because I didn't properly anticipate the change in cooking time when I quadrupled the it wasn't ready in time. But now it tastes good, though a little dry. We left it cooking all through the meal and it ended up boiling all the liquid off. I'm still figuring out how to salvage that.
Strangely, this dinner party turned into a lunch party because the seminary president's mother-in-law died. Now, at home that wouldn't have much impact on students, and the impact on faculty would be minimal. But here it's not like that, and everyone had to go to the wake, which was scheduled guessed it...the same time as the dinner. So we changed the time to Tuesday lunch. Which, of course, works out okay because normally the bigger meal here is a late lunch. Granted, we had an early lunch (for Egypt) because people had to do things like go to class and stuff. ha! No more of that for me, suckers! (just kidding.) So anyway, Monday dinner became Tuesday lunch, which meant that I had to do all the cooking and prep by myself because everyone else was at work! So...I was chopping and sauteing and boiling and stirring and whatnot, by myself, working in three kitchens with three stoves of two burners each, for about 4 hours before people arrived and about half an hour after. And I still forgot to make the dessert--Sarah did it at the last minute for me. In spite of all that, it was a big success. Thank goodness!

--Today I began my new summer job...working in the seminary library. I'll be doing all kinds of different things (excellent, because doing just one thing makes me crazy...that's one of the major reasons I didn't like being a musician and also why I don't want to be a one-ministry-in-a-huge-church pastor, because pigeon holing me leads to boredom and general unhappiness). I may undertake an inventory of the library, some classifying and processing of new books, and maybe even organizing the periodicals if the upstairs gets finished. (Currently the periodicals are in piles in a room upstairs.)

--I finished Erskine Clarke's book Dwelling Place and it was good. It was intriguing to read about plantation families and their slaves at the same time, almost as one family (which is, in a sense, how many of the more benevolent planters thought of their slaves). Though there was at first a little excessive use of the Dan Brown idiom--you know, "she had no idea how important this relationship would become" and "he would later be haunted by those words" etc--ultimately the writing style was really accessible. History was actually a story I could get into--and boy did I get into it!. By the time the Northern troops came through plundering plantations, I was really mad that they would do something like that! Granted, it was more of the indignation that they would steal EVERYTHING along with the livelihood of the people, but still. It was a new feeling for me to feel protective of the Southerners. Very strange. Now, I know about the causes and the reasons for the Civil War. And this book didn't contain any new info on that front. But what I did learn is: that white planters didn't always treat slaves harshly (like beating and overworking and whatnot)--in fact, some plantations probably had slaves that had better working and living conditions than many people working for minimum wage today, the problem is simply the huge one that they were property, not wage-earning working people; that the northern troops came through and didn't "liberate" slaves as much as ultimately further enslave them because not only did the troops plunder plantation houses, but they plundered slave settlements too, stealing food, animals, possessions, and even burning down the simple houses. Which, of course, is only further evidence that the war wasn't about liberating slaves (which we all know alreayd) but really about politics and economics. We can't have rogue states seceding so we have to force them back, and in doing so we have to make sure they won't have the resources to do that again. And, of course, I was struck by similarities to the sitation we're in in Iraq. We "liberated" but in doing so we destroyed so many lives and livelihoods that the people are now, in our opinion, dependent on us. Is that what we wanted...again? Yes, both catalysts were good causes. But really.
(Please don't read here that I support slavery or genocide or anything like that, because I don't. And I will be the first to say that "institutions" like that need to be overturned. But perhaps the way it was done was not in the best interest of solving the supposed problem, but rather in another more economic/political interest?)

--I've begun hearing from a couple of churches that have seen my CSC on the Columbia website. I am allowed to talk to churches but not to negotiate (because my real Final Assessment is on August 7, after I get back from Egypt). This is very exciting to me! So...if you know any Presbyterian churches looking for an Associate Pastor (preferably more general than specific, though I'm fairly open), let them know they can find my CSC here as a PDF file.

That's all for now because it's time for Bible study. ttfn...

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