Friday, October 30, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 075 (The Serpent and the Rainbow)



So, I'm reading The Serpent and the Rainbow, and it's about zombies. It's a book I have to read for the Drugs and Jesus class. It's really about the drug that the voodoo doctors use to turn people into zombies. The voodoo, or vodoun as it is called in the book, is actually one of the primary religions of Haitian people during the time period of the book. I'm only about a third of the way through, but so far, it's pretty good. It's non-fiction, but reads like a fiction; you just can't believe some of the events and characters are real! There's this high school girl who goes into a trance and dances around with a red hot piece of coal in her mouth for three minutes and she doesn't get burned! The main character in the book is this guy who is trying to figure out the secrets of the zombie poison so that he can bring it back to the United States to use as an anesthetic for surgery. If he is successful, he will make a lot of money. While I'm all for the advancement of medicine, it is rather disturbing how we are so willing to exploit another people's culture for our own gain, basically taking something that is sacred for them and applying it to everyday use.

I guess the question is, and hopefully I'll have the answer by the time I get to the end of the book, is whether or not the drug will even work outside of the voodoo culture. This is one of the things we have been looking at in the Sacred and the Substance class: How much of a drug's effect is based on the context within which it is used? Many of the so-called drugs that seem to be problems for people today, such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana and nicotine, started out as sacred plants that were removed from their sacred context. While they were being used for their sacred purposes, they were never "problems." People did not become "addicted" to them. Outside of that context, used in secular society, these drugs became something very different. They became dangerous. They started to destroy lives.

The other part of drug use that we're learning about in the class is how much culture influences the idea of addiction, but we haven't gotten that far into it yet. In the meantime, especially because tomorrow is Halloween, watch out for the zombies!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 074 (Mystic Pasta)

All you out there reading this, I need help coming up with a name for a new pasta dish I invented.

Mike generously gave me 4 HUGE tomatoes that I think his parents grew in their backyard. I happened to have some dates that my parents brought me when they came to visit, but they weren't the soft squishy kind that are good for eating... they were kind of dry. I remembered when my family was here, my sister, brother and I went to La Coco's for dinner and my sister got this dish with a tomato sauce that had currants and pecans and eggplant in it. It was SO GOOD! So, I had a little bit of kitchen inspiration and decided to put the tomatoes and dates together, along with some pine nuts, olives, onion and garlic. Then I spiced it up with cardamom, turmeric, nutmeg and cinnamon to give it a kind of exotic flavor. It was pretty good, but I think a little too sweet. I had added a tablespoon of gooseberry preserves because that's all I had left of it and it had been sitting in the fridge for almost two months. I figured it was now or never. Next time, I think I'll let the tartness of the tomatoes play off of the sweetness of the fruit, but I might opt for golden raisins next time. I also like the idea of eggplant in the sauce, but I didn't feel like going to the store. I think with those few tweaks, the sauce will be AMAZING!

So, any ideas for a pasta dish with raisins, pine nuts and exotic spices? I thinking some kind of name that evokes the mysteriousness of the middle east would be good...

In other news, I continued Tom's education with magic cards and almost finished Silence.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 073 (Magic the Gathering)

I finally got to play Magic today!!!! (I know, I'm a geek) But, it is SERIOUSLY the best game EVER! It's been around for almost 15 years I think? Not really sure, but it was the first ever collectible trading card game. When you're playing, you basically take on the role of a wizard, and you're battling with another wizard and you're trying to kill each other. Sounds a little violent, but it's not, because this is all done with numbers and you're playing with cards like the one pictured here

You start with 20 life, and your opponent has to get you down to zero while protecting their own life total from you. It sounds dorky, and I admit, it is, but I swear, it's really fun!

Tom and I were studying at the coffee shop, and we took a break so I could teach him how to play the game. It was really exciting for me, because I haven't played that much since someone broke into my car and stole most of my cards. Yes, someone broke into my car, in the church parking lot no less, and stole my magic cards. Granted, they probably had no idea what they were stealing at the time, but they are gone nonetheless. It's kind of hard to stay involved with something when something like that happens. It took me several years to collect all of those cards, and they were just gone. And, who the heck breaks into a car in a church parking lot?!?!?! This was like 5 or 6 years ago, but it's still upsetting when I think about it.

Reading week update: Studied Hebrew for about an hour and read Silence.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 072 (The Pesto and the Pentateuch)

I went over to Marlene's today to teach her how to make pesto. We ended up having pesto on fettuccini with crimini mushroom and teeny tiny potatoes. The potatoes were so cute! I found them at Trader Joe's. They were about the size of olives, and they tasted like Yukon Golds, but I'm not really sure what variety they were. All I knew is that when I saw them, I HAD to buy them!

So we were eating, and we started talking about Old Testament stuff. That subject comes up a lot because of how mind altering the subject is, especially when so many of us come from conservative backgrounds. Marlene was explaining how difficult it is to accept the theory that the creation story didn't actually happen in exactly seven days and how it was integral to her faith. I don't see a literal interpretation of the creation story as integral to my theology, but I used to see the literal interpretation of many of the stories of the Pentateuch as central to my faith, so I understand where she's coming from.

Her argument is that if we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, why would God have stories written that aren't literally true. I told her that I agreed that the Bible was the inspired word of God, but that we don't know what God's motive was in having those stories written. My personal belief is that the stories help to explain who God is, which is more important than how long it took God to create the world. In my opinion, God is too big to be contained in the voice of just one author; he's too big to be contained in the voices of all authors, actually. In order for us to really get to know him, to really get any kind of sense at all of who he is, he needed his book to be complicated, and confusing and seemingly contradictory because that was the only way to get the idea across to us little humans that we cannot put God into a box.

The conversation went all over the place and we touched on things like salvation, eschatology and grace, but those are some pretty hefty topics so we'll save those for later. ;-)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 071 (My So-Called Life)

Fourth day of reading week, 2nd if you don't count the weekend. I actually did some studying and research today; you should all be proud of me. Read some of Shusaku Endo's Silence for Intro to Ministry. It's about these two Jesuit priests from Portugal who go to 16th century Japan to do missionary work during a time of heavy persecution against Christians in that country. Spent a brief period reviewing Hebrew and read a little bit of Serpent and the Rainbow for Sacred and the Substance; it's about zombies.

Yes, one of my textbooks is about zombies.

Then watched three episodes of My So-Called Life with Marlene, also for Sacred and the Substance. You know, I get the most interesting homework from that class! First, it's chicken soup, then zombies, now My So-Called Life...what's next???

The actual assignment is this, right from the syllabus: find a substance use narrative: be it a film, a novel, a painting, an album, etc… and analyze it in terms of your own faith tradition.

I'm not even really sure I understand what this means, but I did clear it with the professor beforehand to make sure I could use My So-Called Life for the assignment. Hopefully, whatever I write will be close enough to what he was expecting that it'll be okay.

Angela, the main character played by Claire Danes, doesn't really have a drug narrative, so I'm going to be writing on her best friend Rayanne Graff, played by A.J. Langer, who blacks out when she drinks and like to experiment with drugs. I'll be watching the entire series during the course of reading week as research for the paper. Sucks, doesn't it?

For those who have yet to experience My So-Called Life, it is my absolute most favorite TV series of ALL TIME! The writing blows my mind away and the acting is really good. It's filmed like a movie with amazing camera angles and lighting effects with a soundtrack to die for. The characters are real. You just have to watch it to understand. This show is so much of what I am;Angela Chase is SO MUCH of who I am. Please, please, please, if you have not seen it, try to find someone who has the DVD set, or get it from Netflix, I guarantee, you will not be disappointed!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 070 (Hand Sanitizer)

I visited Christ Lutheran Church today. The pastor there is actually the wife of one of my Intro to Ministry professors. I was having a weird deja vu moment when we pulled into the parking lot because the layout of the church is exactly the same layout that I remember from a Ventura County Chinese Club Halloween party from when I was a kid, but I know we did not drive all the way up here for it. I mean, I'm pretty sure we didn't because that would be crazy. I also remember winning my Halloween Snoopy mug that year, which I broke a few years later. I always end up breaking my favorite mugs. I guess it's inevitable when you use the same mug every day.

Anyway, so we're at this church, and I notice they have these hand sanitizer "stations" set up, one at the front of each of the two aisles. I didn't think too much about them until Pastor Terry pointed them out and said that while she is certainly not discouraging people from touching each other, she did describe her congregation as a congregation that likes to touch, we still had to respect the H1N1 epidemic that our country is facing right now. I totally agree with what she is saying, but I worry about the social implications of it. With the hand sanitizers sitting right there out in the open, and everyone using them right after shaking each others' hands, it's kind of like a subconscious jab at the people around you. It says, "You're dirty." It says, "We're all dirty, and we need to purify ourselves after touching each other." Not exactly the message that I would want to send to a people in a church.

I don't want to say this like I'm some kind of sociologist and that I have all kinds of degrees in this kind of thing, it's just the gut reaction that I got from it. I think if this practice were to spread to any kind of degree, it would just feed into everyone's paranoia. Like I said, I agree with her and believe we need to do something to protect ourselves from this virus. In fact, my brother just contracted it recently. (He's fine now, btw.) I just don't like what this kind of thought can lead to. Eventually, if we are going to follow the slippery slope model, which is a model that I find inherently flawed, but let's just go there for a moment for hyperbole's sake, no one will want to touch anyone anymore. And, that would just make for a sad, sad world.

This is not a congregation that wants to avoid people. They were very warm and welcoming, and everyone went around the room "Passing the peace," which I guess is a very Marin County thing to do. Maybe it's a NorCal thing? Down south, when we shake each others' hands or hug, we say, "Good morning." Up here, it's, "Peace be with you." Maybe it's a "Shalom" thing...

We were lucky today, because we happened to pick what I think is the Lutheran equivalent to our Presbyterian "Stewardship Sunday," and they had a celebration luncheon afterwards. Stewardship Sunday is the day when we all pledge how much we expect to tithe to the church in the upcoming year so that the church can figure out its operating budget. This "lunch after church" thing has been happening a lot with our church visits, which is good 'cuz it saves the cost of a meal and gives us a chance to interact a little bit more with the people at those churches. These churches don't have lunches every Sunday, we've just been getting lucky in the game of church lunch Russian Roulette.

Didn't do much else today. Caught up on Ugly Betty and finished editing the Inquirer essays, so I'll be mailing those out tomorrow. I'll hopefully be getting a lot of reading done after that.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 069 (Reading Week: Day 1)

First was the first day of reading week, and I wish I could say that I used it more productively. It's not that I did nothing today, but nothing related to school. I washed four loads of laundry, but I only had enough quarters to dry three loads. I made the last load really big, put in the two extra quarters I had so it would go for 20 minutes longer, and left out the bed sheet, which I had to spread out in my room to dry. I got all of the laundry folded and put away, did the dishes, made tuna salad and another Marlboro pie, then watched Lord of War. It was pretty good, though it's not exactly a "feel-good" movie that I would want to watch again.

Oh, and I carved this guy!

I'm really tired for some reason, so I'll probably just call it a night.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 068 (Falafel)

Today was a culinary first for me of sorts. I had "real" falafel for the first time. I'd had cold falafel from a deli case before, because I had just never had the opportunity to try fresh real falafel right out of the deep fat fryer. We went to Falafel Hut in San Rafael. The food was gooooooooooood, and the service was impeccable! I ordered the "deluxe" falafel pita with eggplant and potato. We SO need to go back to that place! I want to try everything on the menu; I love discovering exotic new places to eat! The funny thing is that the restaurant was so small that it couldn't accommodate our group of 11 people, so the owner sent us two doors down to the pizza place that he owns so that we could eat there. As far as I could tell, there weren't very many people eating the pizza, but we figured it was probably busier later at night. I'll certainly let you all know how the pizza is if I ever end up having it there.

Took the Hebrew quiz today... so wasn't ready for it! Between the 3 papers and studying for Old Testament and Church History, there just wasn't any time leftover. At least my grade is high enough in that class that a not-so-decent quiz shouldn't hurt me. I cut out after turning the quiz in 'cuz I just couldn't stand to be in that class anymore. I wasn't going to learn anything useful and I just wanted to get reading week started already! I should be able to catch up on everything during reading week, detox from caffeine, and come back to school ready and refreshed to finish the semester.

We had another movie night tonight; I finally got to introduce Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist to a everyone. It is my 3rd favorite movie, after all. Alexis showed us Dangerous Beauty afterwards, a movie about a courtesan in 16th century Venice. I'm not normally a fan of period films because they tend to be depressing, but this one was actually a lot of fun. The next movie I want to share is Lawn Dogs, staring Mischa Barton and Sam Rockwell. (#1 on my movie list btw for those that don't know)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 067 (Reading Week)

We are now one day and one Hebrew quiz away from Reading Week, which is a week in the middle of the semester where we have no classes. I assume the point of this week is to allow us to catch up on our class reading. This week cannot come soon enough. I'm a little bit surprised that I can still write coherent sentences right now after studying for the Church History midterm all night, getting 3 hours of sleep, taking the test and spending today writing the Old Testament paper. I still have to for the Hebrew quiz.

I think I did okay on the midterm; I know I didn't fail it. I'm hoping for a low "B," but I'll be happy with a "C." I just want to pass the class so that I will have one less history class in my life. History has always been my worst subject, so it should come as no surprise that it is the one class that I am struggling with up here. After this, there should just be History II, but I hear that's nowhere near as bad as History I. Then, I should never ever have to take a history class ever again. I've already managed to eradicate math classes from my life, I'm just one dreaded subject away from being "hated subject free."

Blah... might skip the studying...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 066 (Caffeine)

It's been a long time since I've had coffee, but I've had a lot of it this week. I figure I have to do what I can to get through this week, then I can quit cold-turkey and detox during reading week and come back to school clean and sober.

Now studying frantically for the history midterm tomorrow morning. Strong possibility I may be up all night.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 065 (Suicide Tuesday)

Another "Suicide Tuesday" comes to a close, and before I continue, I feel I need to explain the name I have given to this day of the week, just so as there won't be any confusion about why it's called that. It's not called "Suicide Tuesday" because it makes me want to commit suicide. It's called "Suicide Tuesday" because it's almost suicidal to try to do... that's a hyperbole, of course, for anyone that wasn't paying attention. There are definitely much worse things out there than my so-called "Suicide Tuesdays," but I like the name, and they are quite harrowing nonetheless.

Tuesdays for me start with Old Testament at 8:30. If I've been good and am caught up with my homework for the day, then I go to chapel at 10:00. If not, I sit in the class and do homework until 11:00 when Hebrew starts, which is conveniently in the same classroom. After Hebrew, it's time for lunch and then Improv at 2:00. Usually after Improv, I'm scrambling to get Sacred and the Substance homework done before the van leaves for the GTU at 6:00. Class starts at 7:10 and ends at 9:30, bringing us back to SFTS by 10:30, at which point I usually need to eat dinner and then do my Spirituality homework so that I can go to bed.

Tuesdays are kind of rough, and I will definitely plan my schedules a little bit better in the semesters to come.

One interesting thing of note: I drove the seminary vans to Berkley for the first time today. It was just a little bit nerve wracking because I've been driving around in a Prius for almost two years and Priuses are quirky little things, on top of which, mine does not utilize a key. (I'm not sure if all Priuses are like that; I just didn't want to assume.) Plus, I've never really paid that much attention on our previous trips to the GTU. Luckily, there were two people in the car that were very familiar with the route, so we didn't get lost.

There's a meteor shower tonight, but I don't know if I have the stamina to stay up to watch it. There will be others, I'm sure.

Now, on to the Spirituality homework!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 064 (Breaking the Seal)

San Anselmo at night is a creepy place. I've just gotten back from walking Terra home. It is now 11:45 pm, and after walking back to the student lounge by myself, I have to ask the question, "Why hasn't anyone used this place to film a horror movie yet?" This town is basically situated in a forest, and the school itself, which is a castle if anyone has forgotten, is on a wooded hill. CREEPY!!!!! There's these little winding barely lit paths going up and down the hill through the moss and lichen covered trees so people can go to and from their apartments, not to mention those strange sounds that are always there at night when you're walking through the woods by yourself...

It is nearing midnight now, and as I sit here alone (mostly alone anyway, there's a cricket in here somewhere adding to the ambiance) in this 100 year-old castle typing this in the student lounge where the TV likes to turn on by itself, I continue to remind myself that I should not be scared because I am at a seminary and I highly doubt that God would allow some malevolent spirit to take up residence here. But, if I am going to be honest, this place still gives me the creeps, and I still have to walk back to my apartment, by myself. I've actually done it quite a few times when it's been this late, but we have the lovely addition of cloud cover from the rain earlier today, so it is much darker and cooler than normal. A castle in the woods. Are there any filmmakers out there???? (Note: I am not authorized to offer the school as a location for a motion picture. Please contact the school business office with inquiries regarding use of the school grounds for filming purposes.)

On a lighter note, I broke the seal on ditching classes today. I'm not really a "class ditcher" so I hope this doesn't start some kind of trend for me. I set my alarm to wake up for church history, hit the snooze a couple times, then just decided I was too tired to go. We were just doing a review today for the mid-term on Thursday, and I figured I could better use the time to do homework or something. But instead, I just laid in bed until it was time to get up for chapel. Leslie extended a personal invitation for me to attend because she was going to deliver the sermon today, so I felt obligated to go. I thought her use of a hymn throughout her sermon was an interesting and unique approach.

If any of the faculty or administration are reading this, I do have a slight tickle in my throat which could have easily developed into something much worse if I did not take that hour and a half to rest. Everyone is always telling me how important "self-care" is, and I was just trying to follow their advice.

The only real schoolwork I got done today was studying for the Old Testament quiz tomorrow, but I guess that's better than nothing. This is procrastination at it's finest, folks! I still have homework for Drugs and Jesus tomorrow night, which I will have to get done some time tomorrow, as well as homework for Lectio Divina, which I will probably be doing tomorrow night after I get back from Drugs and Jesus. In case anyone has forgotten, Drugs and Jesus is in Berkley, so we should be getting back from that around 10:30 tomorrow night. I also had to sign up to be a driver because our regular driver is out of town, so that will add an interesting element to my day. Hopefully it won't rain tomorrow, and hopefully I won't get us lost. Please keep your fingers crossed for me everyone.

Last, but not least, is the Old Testament paper due on Friday that I have yet to start. When will I have time to do it, you ask? I'm thinking Wednesday and Thursday. Study for the Hebrew quiz will just have to wait until the hour before the class. XD

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 063 (Strange Days)

This will be the last post about movies for a while; I promise! I don't know why I've been watching so many movies lately! These strange sloth-like feelings have taken hold of me since Wednesday, and I haven't been able to shake them off. I've even been napping! Anyone that knows me knows that isn't normal! And, before anyone gets all freaked out, i don't think I'm sick. At least, I don't feel sick anyway.

So, the two movies I watched today were Thank You For Smoking and Edward Scissorhands, neither of which I had seen before, and both of which I highly recommend! I know some of you are thinking, "He's never seen Edward Scissorhands before??!?!?!" But, you have to remember that I was born and raised in the Chinappines, so my cultural upbringing is lacking in some areas.

I did manage to write another paper today, this one for Lectio Divina, however that was pretty much the extent of my productivity. Unless you want to count me rearranging my bedroom. It was getting on my nerves.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 062 (Procrastination)

I should be writing a paper, but I'm blogging instead. I could be studying for the History mid-term, but I'm blogging instead. I could do some reading for class, but I decided to blog. Why? Because, blogging is fun. Paper-writing is not fun. Studying is okay, I can kind of relax into that, but paper-writing is work. Boring work. And, the only way to make it not boring is to wait until the last minute to do it so that I'm so panicked about getting it done that it's not boring anymore. I did, however, manage to get the Intro to Ministry paper done today, and as a reward I am watching a movie... even though I should be moving on to one of the other two papers... because paper-writing is boring.

The movie I'm watching is Were the World Mine. It's about a gay boy in an all-boy's school that gets the lead part in the school play A Midsummer Night's Dream. Since it's an all-boy's school, the female roles are also played by boys, which the drama teacher defends by reminding everyone that in Shakespeare's time, women were not allowed to act on stage. That's as far as I've gotten in the movie, but it looks good so far!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 061 (Movies)

Trying to take it easy today. I know I got one word wrong on the Hebrew quiz, trying to not let it bother me, but it does for some reason. Watched Where the Wild Things Are with Amber, Ian and Nick. I was really excited to see one of my favorite books from my childhood brought to the big screen, but the pacing was kind of slow. It was basically what I expected; how do you really make a full length movie out of a picture book? The visuals were stunning, and it was very heartfelt, though. Overall, I think it was done very well; I just wish there was more plot line.

Amber and I baked some chocolate chip cookies when we got back, then watched Twighlight. Now watching The Wrestler.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 060 (Poetry)

A few of us we asked to rewrite the Lord's prayer or write some poetry inspired by the Lord's prayer for chapel this morning. Most of the readings were modernized versions of what you would find in any Bible. For whatever reason, the Spirit led me to write a satire, which is one of my favorite ways of communicating anyway. Plus, it makes people laugh. I was little nervous because everyone else seem more serious, but it was the one that I wrote, so I read it. Luckily, no lightning bolts came through the ceiling to stop us from finishing the service. It went over really well actually, I just get nervous any time I do a satire, 'cuz I worry people will think I'm serious. turns out, they really liked all of our poems, and now they want to distribute them to the whole campus. Who knew? LOL.

The Lord’s Prayer [Holier Than Thou Translation]

Our Father, who art in heaven,

On your puffy white cloud,

What the heck are you doing up there?

You made everything,

You see everything,

You control everything,

So don’t you think it’s time for you to get down here to start fixing some things!

Don’t you see the blasphemy that these people want to do in your church?

Aren’t you getting just a little bit upset at how wrong all these people are?

I demand justice!

I demand retribution!

Get these people out of here, so I can have my nice little church back,

And no one has to get hurt.

I mean, really?

Do we really need them?

How important are they anyway?

Does it really matter what we do to them?

Or what we say behind their backs?

Because what they don’t know doesn’t hurt them, right?


I am ready to receive your instructions,

I will follow your laws to the letter,

Except for the ones that don’t make any sense,

For thine is the kingdom,

And the power,

And the glory forever.


We also had our second poetry night tonight. It was kind of late notice, so there was only four of us there, but it was pretty cool nonetheless. Laura ran it tonight, and she based it off of what her poetry group used to do, which is writing for 15 minutes on a prompt. My prompt was a picture of a sand dollar in the water. I haven't come up with a title for it yet, but this is the poem I came up with:

It was just beneath the water,

A tiny broken thing,

A sand dollar with a hole on top,

White against the sand,

Stripped of life,

Made clean, you could say.

Some people say life can be unclean,

You dirty yourself through the living,

Though life itself is supposed to be a gift.

Can it be true that the only way to protect the gift,

Is to take it away?

If you find a whole one,

And crack it open,

You can find tiny pieces of shell inside,

Shaped like little white doves,

But this one has been cracked by the waves,

Cracked by life,

And the doves,

The doves flew away.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 059 (Apple Curry)

Nothing too exciting today.

Leaf blower was going during Lectio... really distracting.

Did laundry.

Discovered a new use for apples.

Tried to study... failed.

Good episode of Glee tonight... which was good, because I was starting to get worried. Last week's episode was good, too. Maybe there's hope...

So, back to the apples. I know this isn't technically a "food blog" but food is a really important part of my life. And, since the current plan is to open a restaurant, it's important that I use my classmates as food guinea pigs... and it would seem they are only too happy to oblige. My next-door neighbor, Ryan, is allergic to onions, which forms the base of my curry sauce. I've been thinking long and hard, trying to come up with an acceptable substitute for onions, and the only thing that I thought would even come close is apples. Luckily, my parents brought a huge bag of apples from our backyard when they came up to visit. It was actually lucky on two counts, because I had no idea what I was going to do with all of those apples; they're not really the best for just eating.

I didn't do a full substitution, I kept in a half onion because I know Ryan can tolerate a little bit of onion, and I thought it was important to at least have some of the onion flavor. I made up for the missing 3 1/2 onions with 3 small apples and 2 asian pears, also from the backyard. The result tasted surprisingly like the original, if a little bit sweeter with a slight fruitiness to it. I'll have to let my mom know of my discovery so they can stop throwing away all those apples! Sorry, I forgot to take a picture; I'll try to remember for next time.

I already fed the apple curry to few people (not to mention eating a decent quantity of it myself) so Ryan, if you're reading this, you can claim the last serving for yourself, or wait until I make more. :-P

I have also discovered Marlboro pie, a delicious apple custard pie, but I'll have to save that for another post...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 058 (Chicken Noodle Soup Rx)

I realize I've been writing a lot about chicken noodle soup recently, but it's just been a really important part of my life of late. The above picture is of my chicken noodle soup, that I made as a project for my Drugs and Jesus class. Each person at some point in the semester is supposed to bring substance use into the classroom, which usually involves a video clip, or a song. I decided that since I have been administering my magic chicken concoction to all of my sick friends, and since this happens all over the world all the time, chicken noodle soup, by definition, IS A DRUG. So, here is a copy of the chicken noodle soup drug fact sheet that I prepared for the class, in all of its pharmaceutical glory:

Chicken Noodle Soup**

Drug Facts

Directions: Adults and children: Take two to three bowls daily with a glass of water at the first sign of cold or flu symptoms, preferably as a replacement for a meal.*

Active Ingredients: Chicken, water, salt, carrots, noodles, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, tomato, garlic, thyme, laurel, lemon & black pepper.

There is an as yet unidentified substance in chicken soup that acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils, immune system cells that participate in the body's inflammatory response. *

Chicken contains cysteine, which cleaves to the disulfide bonds found in mucoproteins and splits them, which reduces the viscosity of the mucus, clears nasal passages, deters the onset of the disease and shortens its duration.*

Chicken fat contains lipids that suppress viral reproduction. *

Hot liquid keeps nasal passages moist, thins the mucus, prevents dehydration, sooths sore throats and improves the function of cilia guarding the body from contagions. *

Steam speeds up movement of mucus through the nose, relieving congestion and limiting viral contact with the nasal lining. *

Salt sooths sore throats and helps to reduce inflammation by drawing moisture out of cells lining the esophagus. Traditional folk medicine regards salt as a purifying agent that can be used to drive away demons that cause disease. *

Onions contain sulphur compounds and quercetin, two antioxidants that aid in neutralizing free radicals present in the human body. Onions have antibacterial and antifungal properties and help to provide respite to patients with cold symptoms. Onions have been used as a charm against evil spirits. Halved or quartered onions placed in the home absorb negativity. *

Noodles and potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates that the body uses for energy. *

Carrots, celery, lemon and tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, which boosts the immune system and provides relief from colds. *

Garlic thins mucus. A clove of garlic placed in each room can ward off disease. *

Thyme fights infections, dries mucous membranes and relaxes spasms of the bronchial passages. *

Black pepper thins mucus and helps to reduce fever. The magical properties of black pepper include protection and strength. *

Laurel contains parthenolides, which are useful for treating headaches, and also contains eugenol, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. *

Inactive Ingredients: None

Chicken soup produces a powerful placebo effect. The ritual involved in making and serving it, as well as the context in which it is used invariably ensures that a sick person taking it will begin to feel better almost immediately after the first dose. Chicken soup, regardless of cultural background, has become engrained into the human psyche as the classic cure-all. *

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

** This product contains animal protein and gluten and has been manufactured on equipment used to process eggs, soy, peanuts and tree nuts.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 057 (Peanut Butter and Hot Wings)

After 3 hours of Old Testament drills for the quiz tomorrow, Tom and I decided we were starving, so we went to my apartment to scrounge up some food. I did have an entire pot of chicken noodle soup on the stove that I cooked earlier today, but that was my homework assignment for Drugs and Jesus tomorrow. While I briefly contemplated the humor of having to tell my teacher, "Tom ate my homework," I didn't go through all that trouble today to not have anything to show for it. I thought the only quick food I was going to be able to offer was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but as I was going through my fridge, I found 8 hot wings from Friday's get together at Holy Grounds! So, we had a first course of hot wings and rice, and followed that with a lovely dessert of peanut butter and jelly. We were laughing at our sad little meal, but we did realize how blessed we were because it was probably more food than what many people in the world would have had to eat today. We Americans are really spoiled!

My original plan after blogging was to continue studying for the Old Testament quiz, trying to remember convoluted things like the number 1350. It's a number, obviously, and it's not hard to remember because it's the odd numbers 1 thru 5 plus 0. It stands for the book of numbers. 1,000 stands for the Roman numeral M, which stands for "miraculous manna" or God's providence that the Israelites were ungrateful for. 300 stands for the 3 C's of conflict, conflict and census. The Israelites had a conflict with the Moabites. Miriam, Aaron and the priests were rebellious (conflict) against Moses, which God punished them for, and the Israelites had to do a census according to their ancestral houses. 50 stands for the Roman numeral L, which stands for all of the laws in the book of numbers. I know it's crazy, but it helps me remember all the things I need to know.

So anyway, I was going to study more, but I'm going to go to bed instead. It's funny how most of these blog entries seem to be ending the same way...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 056 (St. Gregory's of Nyssa)

I've been visiting different churches every Sunday trying to find a new church home for my time here at seminary. Today, a group of us went to St. Gregory's of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. I've never been to any other Episcopal service before, but I'm pretty sure this was not typical of what one would "normally" look like. It had a lot of similarities actually to the Russian Orthodox service that I went to about a month ago with all of it's brightly colored icons, chanting and incense. The main room was extremely colorful with pictures of "saints" painted on the upper half of the walls. I'm not sure what the Episcopal definition of a saint is, or if St. Gregory's definition might be a little different from the rest of the denomination, but they included pictures of Anne Frank, Malcom X and Lady Godiva. Now, I don't have any problems with those people, but as far as I know, they aren't typically referred to as saints.

The service involved gongs, incense, singing, hugging, greetings, batik umbrellas, wine, chanting, chimes, scripture readings, personal sharing, a sermon, quiet time, and what more or less felt like slow motion Greek dancing. It was total sensory overload. I don't think there was anything wrong with the service per se, but for me, everything was so strange and so different from what I was used to that I couldn't really get into the worship service. I felt more like an anthropologist observing the rituals of an exotic people than a person going to church for a sunday morning worship service. I'm not saying they should change anything; it all seems really cool and innovative and is probably very rewarding and meaningful for those people who are used to it, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. I'm very glad that I went, and I'll probably end up going again just to see if my second experience is any different from the first, but what I really need is a good old contemporary worship service with a praise band and some energy. Everyone is different and everyone has different worship needs. It just so happens that my worship needs involve a guitar and some modern day musical arrangements.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 055 (Inquirer Essays Done!!!)

I was like super crazy olympic status lazy today! OMG! I even took a nap at 5:30 cuz I had worn myself out from doing nothing!

Of course, when I say I did nothing, I'm usually talking about not doing homework, but there was a fair amount of lazing about today. Faith and I did go to Target and Staples to get some things, but I spent the majority of the day looking at facebook and talking on the phone. I woke up at 6:00 from my nap because Faith and Eun-Joo had invited me and Tom over for dinner at 6:30. I had gotten ready pretty quickly and I decided that since I had up to that point been largely unproductive, I would start working on my inquirer essays that I had been putting off for so long.

Drum roll please...

The essays are done!!!! WOO HOO!!!!!!! This is such a relief! All I have to do is figure out where to send them and I can move on with my life... at least for a little while. I didn't finish the essays right away; I actually just finished them a few minutes ago. While I was working on them before dinner, Faith called to say that it was taking them a little bit longer to get everything together, so she needed me to wait until 6:45. She and Eun-Joo live just two floors below me, so it takes less than a minute to get there. So, I continued working on the essays, took a writing break to have a very lovely Korean dinner that Eun-Joo prepared, caught the tail end of Slum Dog Millionaire for movie night at Laura's place, came home, and kept writing.

10:00 rolled around, and I went to the student lounge with Faith so she could print the study guides for the upcoming Old Testament quiz. This part was actually kind of fun because it was very dark and we go to school in a castle and neither of us could believe we were climbing up the hill in the middle of the night to print study guides. Faith will give the details in her memoirs. Came back home, kept writing.

Finished writing.

I am free!!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 054 (Harmony of Voices)

We had a meeting tonight at Holy Grounds, the seminary's coffee house. Our Old Testament teacher put it together for anyone who was having issues with some of the ideas that have been presented in class. For a lot of people, their faith is connected to the historical truth claims of the Bible. Theologians, archeologists, historians and other scholars have discovered that some of the events in the Bible may not have happened in exactly the way that they are written. This can be a problem for people, like me, who have been taught that everything in the Bible happened exactly the way that it was written. For some people who's faith is so closely connected to the Bible stories being literally true, this can be scary.

What we have been learning in class is that tradition is not always going to give us an accurate picture of what the likely historical truth of biblical events are. Tradition tells us that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, otherwise known as the Pentateuch. Even the first time I heard this, I knew there was something wrong with that claim because these books are not written in the first person and there are events in it that occur long after Moses dies. It just doesn't make any sense.

There is also this idea called the "Documentary Hypothesis" that claims the Pentateuch actually comes from 4 different source documents, usually identified by the initials J, E, P & D. These documents were all written independently from each other and over time were integrated with each other to give us the Pentateuch as we have it today. If you read the Pentateuch closely, even in an English translation, it becomes obvious that there could not have been a single writer. If there was a single writer, then that person was crazy. You have people's names changing, God's name and the names of places change and there's stories that are told multiple time for no apparent reason and their details don't match up. And then, you have poor Moses going up the mountain, and down the mountain, and up the mountain, and down the mountain, and up, and down, and up, and up... wait a minute, when did he come down? Anyway, you get the picture.

But the thing is, our teacher is not teaching this to us to destroy our faith. She is trying to teach us the truth about what this document we call the Bible actually is. She's telling us the truth so that our faith can be based on more than just history, so that we can see the deeper truth behind the stories, which is so much more important than a simple historical truth. (Which is not to say that there is no historical truth to the stories in the Bible, because I still believe that there is historical truth to a lot of them.)

The way I look at it is this: we, as a church, accept that the Holy Spirit worked though people to have these documents written and that she (I've been told that the Holy Spirit's gender in the original language is feminine, so that is how I'm going to refer to her from now on. To be honest, I've never really been comfortable referring to the Holy Spirit in the masculine. Maybe this is why.) worked through people to make sure that it got put together in the form that we have it now. So this begs the question: Why all these different sources? Why the contradictions? Why the historical ambiguity? I think it's because God is too big for one voice to describe. I think it takes a harmony of voices, even if those voices, on the surface, seem to contradict each other, to give us even a glimpse of the nature of God. The different sources with their seeming contradictions don't bother me anymore. They were good enough for the Holy Spirit, and they're good enough for me.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 053 (Hebrew)

I have to lead with this because I can't believe I forgot to blog about it yesterday. I locked myself out of my apartment yesterday. Luckily, Amber was on her way over so we could hang out as we did homework. Normally, when I lock myself out of my apartment, I go to my neighbors Ryan and Sam who let me through their room so I can hop over the little divider between our balconies to go in through the back door, but neither one of them was home. As Amber and I stood their trying to figure out what to do, we noticed that the bathroom window was open, which is just under 7 feet from the floor. So, I gave Amber a boost, she went through the window, got onto the counter by the sink, hopped down and opened the door. Have I mentioned that I live on the fourth floor? Luckily, I don't think anyone saw us.

Today was our weekly dinner/Hebrew study night. Tom made moussaka, which is a Greek dish made with eggplant and lamb. It was very good, and he put up a valiant effort to try to get this complicated dish done before it got too late.

Here's Marlene asking Ben and Mike a question about Hebrew. Learning another language, especially one not based on the Roman alphabet, is not easy. You have to make up all kinds of weird sentences to remember what things are like "Have a taco" (thank you Ryan) to remember when to use a specific form of the definite article, or "If Alex Taveck is in front of you, then you are in the midst of Jeopardy" (thank you Tom) to remember that taveck means midst. One of my contributions was "If you go to Hawaii, they make a lei for you" to remember that le means to or for. Some other ones are "There's ganja in the garden", "Sad, eh? Go to the country!", "My ears ahz na as big as people say they are" and "I bought that Prius because when I had a Kia it sucked." The Hebrew pronunciation is in bold, the meanings are in italics bold. The crazier and weirder they are, the easier they are to remember. We're obviously not going for pronunciation accuracy here, it's just a tool to help us remember the grammar and vocabulary. As difficult as it is, it's actually a lot of fun when we all get together and try to come up with these funky ways of remembering things. It's not too bad right now, but we have a Hebrew intensive in January, which is three straight weeks of Hebrew for 4 hours a day. Hopefully, we'll all survive.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 052 (Curry Chicken)

I really like my Wednesdays. I only have one class, and it's Lectio Devina, so I really get to zone out and relax and connect with the people in my group. Of course, there's always the bonehead move of forgetting to save your homework to your flash drive, which is what I did this morning.

With an entire unscheduled day ahead of me, I decided to make curry chicken, which takes about 5 hours, but it's mostly 5 hours of just waiting. So, here is my curry chicken recipe. I think it's more of a Moroccan curry, but I'm not really sure.

4 lbs chicken (bone-in dark meat is best)

4 onions

1 tbsp each butter, coriander and salt

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp each cumin, pepper, cayenne, turmeric, cardamom, garlic and ginger

1 cup chicken stock or 1 cup of water & ¼ tsp salt

1/3 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar

Slice the onions and combine them in a large sauté pan with all of the other ingredients, except for the chicken. Reduce the onion mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is gone, about 2 hours.

I prefer to bake this in a lidded clay pot or tagine, but you can simmer the chicken in a large heavy bottom pot for an hour.

If you are going to use a clay pot or tagine, follow the instructions for your particular piece of cookware. Many will require you to soak the lids in water. Mine has to be soaked for a half hour before use, so I do this while the onion mixture is cooking down.

Apply a thin layer of the onion mixture on the bottom of the pot and then put a single layer of chicken over it. Spread a thin layer of the onion mixture over the chicken and then put another layer of chicken over that. Spread the remaining onion mixture on top of the chicken. My clay pot can fit about 4 lbs of chicken. You may have to play with the recipe depending on the size of your pot. You can always make the full recipe for the sauce and use less when cooking the chicken. Any leftover sauce can be refrigerated for later use.

Bake the chicken at 450° for 2 hours.

Serve with couscous, rice or naan. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 051 (Speed Reading)

Speed reading is a skill that I need to learn, but don't have time to learn. I'm about to do some speed reading for my Lectio Devina, which is a total oxy moron if you know anything about Lectio Devina. I'd like to blog a little bit longer, but I have homework to do. Night!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 050 (Chicken Fat)

I've discovered that the secret to really good chicken noodle soup (yes I put noodles in it now, thank you Ian and Tom for converting me) is chicken fat. And, celery.

And, lemon.

Anyway, sorry if that grosses anyone out that ate any chicken soup that I've made over the last few days. I've been making soup under the guise of feeding people that were getting sick, but I'm pretty sure on some level that I wanted the soup too because I haven't been feeling that well. I am so tired that I contemplated for a minute not blogging today and just going to sleep (yes, it's not even 8:00 yet) But, I figure that I haven't really missed a day of blogging yet, and I don't want to start now.

I've pulled out the heavy blankets and taken 2 Tylenol. Hopefully I'll get enough sleep that I'll wake up early and be able to do some homework before suicide Tuesday.

Suicide Tuesady = Old Testament, Biblical Hebrew, Improvisation in Ministry & The Sacred and the Substance

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 049 (The Girl of My Dreams)

My really good friend called me today to tell me that her stepmother-type person thought that I would find a nice girl in seminary and get married in the "normal" and obviously much better-for-me way. This woman, not my friend, the stepmother-type person, makes a comment like this about twice a year or so. It's actually kind of funny, but it's also really annoying. She obviously has no clue about what it means to be gay. It's not something that I thought was cool and decided to start doing one day. This is who I am. Why in the world would I chose to be attracted to guys? Do you have any idea how complicated this makes my life? Not to mention the fact that it is completely ridiculous to think that you get to chose who you are attracted to! This is just how I am, and to be honest, it took me a really long time to accept it, be comfortable, and yes, even appreciate it. I know that because of my religious upbringing and involvement with the church, I could just as easily have been born straight and grown up to be one of those bigoted haters holding up signs on street corners trying to get everyone to "protect marriage" by voting on Prop 8.

And, why is it that the people judging me are always the people that have some definite flaws of their own? Apparently it's okay to get divorced, have extra-marital sex and snort cocaine, just as long as you're not gay. (Those are actual real-life personal examples of people that have judged me in the past, not hyperboles) It's never the soccer mom with four kids that remained a virgin until she was married and volunteers at the soup kitchen and sings in the church choir that tells me it's wrong to be gay. It's always people who have issues of their own, but for whatever reason, their issues are "okay" and they think they have enough moral standing to be telling me how I should be living my life.

So yes, I am thankful that God made me gay. I'm glad that I was forced to see both sides of the issue as I grew up so that I could become a sensitive and rational human being who does realize, albeit imperfectly sometimes, that there is usually more than one side to every issue. The fact that I am a gay Christian forces me to really examine things that are just accepted as the status quo. I try not to take things for granted and I try not to jump to conclusions about things. I try to learn as much as I can before making decisions, and I will always be the last person to judge someone because of the things that they've done. So, yes! Yes, I am glad that God made me this way and I am proud to be a gay man for God!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 048 (Dear God)

Dear God,

I know that you want me to be here, and there are probably multiple reasons for me to be here, but this is all getting really intense. I don't want to mess everything up; I think we have a really good thing going here. Do I get too involved with things that I shouldn't, or am I supposed to be sticking my nose into everyone's business? You're the one that made me, I guess you made me this way for a reason, but you've been putting me in some pretty awkward situations lately. I hope I'm doing what you want me to. But, that's all you expect of us, right? To just do the best we can with the gifts that you've given us? I still have so much learning to do. Not just with Hebrew and History, but with how to communicate with people and meet them where they need to be met. (figuratively, not literally) I always thought I was a pretty good communicator, but it's obvious I still have a long way to go. Just keep an eye on me, please. Make sure I don't mess up too bad. If something goes wrong, I'm totally blaming you, just saying. Anyways, thanks for everything, thanks for getting me through this week. I'd really appreciate it if you lightened up for a while, but you're gonna do what you're gonna do, so whatever.

Love you, Amen.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 047 (Wise or Otherwise)

So, I've survived another week of seminary. Did really good on the Hebrew quiz today; might have gotten a point or two off for the translation portion, but if I do, it's totally the professor's fault cuz he never gave us any translation instruction. I don't understand why we would find the most wooden way to translate something anyway.

We all went to the Flatiron Grill for lunch; very good burgers over there. Watched Entourage and Brothers & Sisters, then it we had a game night.

I finally got to break into Wise or Otherwise, the super fun board game my sister gave me for my birthday. I've never played Balderdash, but I've been told that Wise or Otherwise is basically a proverb version of that game. You are given the first the first half of a proverb, and the proverbs are from all over the world. Each player needs to make up the 2nd half of the proverb and then everyone votes for which one they think is real. One of the ones we got tonight was a Moorish saying that started, "You must kiss a dog on the mouth..." I'm sure you can come up with all kinds of interesting ways to end that one. The real ending, believe it or not, is, "until you get what you want from him." Fun game.

Also learned about this new gamed called Pandemic, which puts an interesting twist on the board game. In this one, each player is part of the same team of specialists that is trying to stem the tide of several outbreaks of disease around the world, so instead of playing against each other, the players are all on the same team playing against the board. It was actually pretty hard and we lost twice before finally winning on the third try.

Overall a really good day. Now eating ice cream and watching Margaret Cho, the funniest comedian in the world.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 46 (Ha Haa Huh )

Ha, Haa and Huh are the Hebrew articles. They all mean "the." The one you use depends on what the word it's attached to starts with. I tried to figure it out, but my brain is literally refusing to accept any more input right now. I did manage to finish my Old Testament paper at 4:00 today, then I made carne asada tacos with pico de gallo and salsa verde for my classmates. After that I did a little bit of Hebrew, but then totally hit a wall. It's only 8:00, but I think I need to go to sleep before I crash.