Sunday, October 24, 2010

We thought it was like "Fall Break"...

...boy, were we wrong!  So, when we read "Reading Week" in the middle of October on the Academic Calendar, we did mental high fives.

But, as we perused our syllabi and all our due dates, we gradually realized that it was nothing like a Fall Break and that we would be unable to go visit people or Niagara Falls or even just experience what the bourgeoisie refer to as a "staycation".  Alas, this was not our lot in life. 

First and foremost in our minds was our four Early Church essays and quiz to be turned in and taken by Thursday.  The class is excellent and the questions fair, and the essays only a page.  Easy shapeasy, right?  Have you ever tried to write all your thoughts about Ignatius of Antioch's historical context on a single 12-point font, 1 inch margin page?  I didn't think so.  Sadly, it was fairly easy to fit the place of women in the early church on one page...and that was even with the added business of having to support your claim with reference to the Didache.

We thought about posting all of our assignments for your perusal, but we will pick and choose because we don't want any pfeiferphiles to become pfeiferfoes.  Pictured above is Greg, chagrining as he attempts to put his finished essays in the dropbox online only to find that the internet has gone out...again.  More on that little problem later.
By the by, Greg highly recommends The Change of Conversion and the Origin of Christendom by Alan Kreider.  It it a fairly small book, with ridiculously small font, but which packs a lot of information on the nature of the church and the changes she underwent as Christianity became the religion of the empire.

Noel, pictured above, immensely enjoys Early Church, perhaps a little too much.  But, she was also pre-disposed to the idea that this would be her favorite class at Seminary.  In any case, doesn't she look so studious and intellectual in this picture?  If you'd like to see her answer to one of the "essays"-a creative flyer, click here.

And about this time, they recalled the word study due for BI600 (endearingly called this because nobody ever remembers the real name and thus far, it seems strange to have a grammar class in seminary)...and in addition to the Word Study, an Exam on the first half of the class.  This means, the entirety of a "little" book called "Greek for the Rest of Us" and all the English and Greek grammar your brain can hold, and some that it can't, for that matter.  Pictured to the left are Noel's lifeline, her flashcards and the Greek book sprawled on their dining table in receding light to accentuate the feeling of dread which accompanies them.  Please be lifting up the exam which happens Monday, the 25th, and for especially Noel's memory to be entirely alert.  Greg had 5 semesters of Greek and is already a grammar guru.

 We also have a book review, reflections and our regular reading assignments as well as 22 hours of work each week.  So, we're starting to feel the pressure big time. 
Are you wondering how on earth we survive all this chaos?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fellowship of the Cheese

The Dolly Sods area was first explored by the Fellowship of the Cheese during a brief period of Seminary angst in 1746 to find the limits of West Virginian lore from the British Crown. The area was generally avoided as too impenetrable until the late 1800’s. Charlie Treichler wrote an early description of the area, published in Gmail in 2010:
"In West Virginia, via Maryland en route from Ambridge, Pennsylvania, is a tract of country containing from seven to nine hundred square miles, fairly well frequented , yet so savage and inaccessible that it has rarely been penetrated even by the most adventurous, like Geoff Mackey, who has yet to explore any place via backpack and camping tent. The settlers on its borders speak of it with a sort of dread, and regard it as an ill-omened region, filled with inbreds, panthers, impassable (except to Noel who decided to tumble on into them despite the dangers) laurel-brakes, and dangerous precipices ie big rocks. Stories are told of hunters having ventured too far, becoming entangled, and perishing in its intricate labyrinths...or stolen by the hillbillies, verdict's still out. The desire of daring the unknown dangers of this mysterious region, stimulated a party of  [handsome] gentlemen and two gentlewomen . . . to undertake it in October, 2010. They did actually penetrate the 'disgusting' country as far as the landmines allowed, and returned with marvelous accounts of its savage grandeur, massive quantities of pulled muscles and troop bonding to be found there.  All was recounted at Piper's Pub in the urban Pittsburgh, any embellishments likely owed to Irish Car Bomb ingestion."
Sometimes, Noel leaves for urban backpacking adventures...
which makes Greg look like this
Noel had never been to West Virginia before and she was terrified, her only experience with WV is the movie Wrong Turn. And as you can tell from the title, WV was the wrong turn.  So, I take back my bias of West Virginia as the incest bred terrifying hillbilly least for now. After all, it was really beautiful.
I hope you can read this sign. If not, here it is: WARNING: Highly Explosive LIVE BOMBS from WWII training can still be found in Dolly Sods.  Do not touch!  Happy Trails.
The Fellowship--sorry, Wes!  My backpack was too tall.
The Survivors! Thanks for looking, hope you enjoyed the journey.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Some Enchanting Evenings

Trinity School for Ministry has a rich heritage of academic rigor which has typically been hidden behind an incredibly pastoral outlook and focus on practical ministry.  All of the professors are actively involved in their local churches while also teaching full-time and the expectation is that students follow that lead.  Some of this is built into our program through Mentored Ministry or our 1hour/week Trinity community service. We are also involved in a number of extracurricular activities while at Trinity as a way to supplement our studies with an opportunity to exercise our theology.  Please be praying that we find a new church home while we're out here so that we can reactivate our love for doing ministry.  In the meantime, Greg has jumped into an often overlooked, misunderstood, or ignored ministry of the church:  chanting.

Geoff Mackey, 2 time Allegheny County little league chanting champion leads a group of monastic wannabes (myself included of course) once a week on the basics of Anglican style chant for the purpose of worshiping the Lord and adding a little more spice to the already red hot Book of Common Prayer. This has been a great aside to ministry study that conveniently happens to also be ministry study. So far we've gone through the better part of the Prayer Book that can be chanted, ending every evening chanting through the Compline. It's really marvelous... to be worshiping the Lord with a handful of good friends, joining with the community of worshipers who have been chanting their prayers for centuries. Below is a sample of what we're doing musically... there's more reverence involved when chanting the Prayer Book or Psalter ; )