Thursday, April 29, 2010

Patti Smith

I listened to an interview today with Patti Smith on one of my favorite podcasts: To the Best of Our Knowledge (episode here). That woman has a way with words. Her life sounds fascinating. I put a request on her memoir at the library, Just Kids. I'm excited.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Living Levitically #9: Day Six

I wore a sweater today that had its tag ripped out so I did not know whether it was made out of one fiber or two. However, it was really cute and matched my outfit so I went ahead and wore it. My desire to do this assignment is slowly slipping. Sunday was wet and cold and all I wanted to do was wear pants. However, all of my pants or leggings had stretchy stuff in them. Because of this I got a rash where my rain boots (which were allowed although certainly made out of mixed materials) rubbed against my bare leg – ouch.

I actually did pretty okay in following Leviticus 23:3 –Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.” However, if you count talking to high schoolers in Sunday school then I did work on the Sabbath. I was lucky because on Sunday there was a Mini-retreat put on by the Women’s ministry at my church. So I spent a couple solid hours in solitude, journaling and praying. The fellowship I enjoyed with many generations of women was also a rejuvenating process. It was one of the most restful Sabbaths I have had in awhile.

On Monday in New Testament class we learned that the Sabbath was not only made for the Israelites but also for the nations surrounding them. I had not considered the evangelical benefits of practicing a Sabbath until now. Refraining from work for a day is a very noticible difference between cultures. Dr. Chapman said that the Romans considered the Jews to be lazy and thought of it as one of the weaker points of the religion and culture. Reflecting on how the Sabbath was spoken about in the New Testament, I love how Jesus defends the heart of the Sabbath to those who want to make it a burden. It seems quite kind and loving of God to institute it for us to enjoy.

Living Levitically #10: Day Seven

I am totally sick of this assignment. All novelty has worn off. I just want to wear a pair of jeans again. All of my jeans have some sort of stupid stretchy substance in them. I am now layering all of my one-fiber cardigans on top of each other in order to keep warm. I am really glad that this assignment came later into the Spring, because I would have been unable to keep the clothing law in the colder months. It’s kind of strange to think about how most things that go on the lower half of a woman’s body have some sort of stretch in them, but the tops usually don’t – at least in my wardrobe.

To give some sort of summary of the things I have learned, I would put at the top the experience I have had with the clothing law. I felt more consciously limited and submissive following this law than any of the other laws. The discussion in Wenham about the various animals that were determined ‘unclean’ was fascinating and opened me up to an opportunity to think about how God views human relationships with animals.

It was an interesting exercise to become aware of the people in my environment enough to stand up to honor those with gray hair in my presence. This also made me think about how age is not as valued today as (I presume) it was in the ancient near East. Any of the gray-haired people I discussed this law with seemed sort of embarrassed by the gesture. I attended a women’s ministry event at my church on Sunday and I was more impressed by the elderly women than I would have been had I not been participating in this assignment.

I had a discussion with a classmate today where he joked that he was focusing more on the “heart” of Levitical laws – quitting the clothing law specifically. We laughed about this and I thought later how different an experience this assignment is. When approaching scripture I usually try to engage my heart first and then focus on my actions afterwards. This week I am focusing on my actions and engaging my heart shortly afterwards. I love this, it is teaching me how connected my life is: my actions and my heart are intrinsically linked.

Living Levitically #8: Day Five

I was ritually unclean today because of the discharge of blood. It seems as though much of the Levitical law is written to males. I assume that this was because males were the ones offering sacrifices for their household. I am also wondering if everything is impure for seven days because this is usually how long a period lasts, or if the seven days refers to the amount of time after the period ends that everything is impure. However, I will be done with this assignment before that time and I haven’t decided what I will do in regards to washing everything.

However, because I was already unclean for the day, I was tempted to throw the rest of the laws out and wear and eat whatever I wanted. This was especially enticing because of the persistent rain all day. I went ahead and wore weather-appropriate clothing, even though my raincoat is made out of different fibers and I assume that my rain boots are as well. However, at one time during the day I realized that I was wearing a sweater made out of different fibers and walked home and changed. I surmised that my philosophy toward the assignment was to follow it as long as it wasn’t totally ridiculous in the circumstances or made me miserable.

Wenham says that it is the seven days following the last day of the period that a woman is still unclean. That means that she is ritually unclean for half the month. This seems unfair. What also seems unfair is that “menstrual impurity is viewed as just as contagious as gonorrheal discharges.” What does this mean? As stated in class, the state of impurity meant a level of separation from communion with God. Why must women be separated from God for half the month?

Living Levitically #7: Day Four

Nothing really happened today – I worked all day long at the florist and was on my feet all day long and so had no opportunity to stand when a gray-haired person came into the room. My two bosses have gray hair and I honored them the best I could by following their instructions.

However, I had an appointment with my counselor the previous day and we talked about anger. The passage from Leviticus 19:17 has been on my mind - “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.” I don’t know how to handle this passage. In some areas of my life I have difficulty being angry when it is appropriate. However, in other relationships in my life I struggle with inappropriate anger.

The prescription found in Leviticus for anger in relationships is somewhat unhelpful in my current relational situations. “Reasoning frankly” within the relationships would cause more harm than good. Wenham’s commentary on the passage states that “the value of having things out with people rather than brooding on them is mentioned more than once in the Bible” (268). The passage is aimed toward peace and love between members of the nation of Israel as well as an effort to cut down on lawsuits and murders. The next verse is, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

I must take this passage in the context of the rest of scripture. I am trying to move down the path of righteousness and am wanting to love my neighbor as myself. However, at the same time I recognize that relationships are complicated and the journey is long toward love and peace. I need grace daily.

Pencil vs. Camera

flickr: benheine

Living Levitically #6: Day Three

I ran into a dietary inconvenience today at lunch: there were a few items off limits on the menu. While I could have ordered the items and requested that the pork product or “au jus” (which included blood and fat, I found out) be taken off, it would have made the dish significantly less tasty. Wenham’s commentary on Leviticus 11’s list of clean and unclean animals is helpful. He divides the animal laws into four categories: arbitrary, cultic, hygienic, or symbolic.

These categories are helpful, as is Wenham’s discussion on modern theories about the food laws being hygienically motivated. Wenham makes the point that the Old Testament authors could have easily revealed the reasoning behind the law, as they had elsewhere. Also, hygiene and cooking practices had not advanced very much by the time that Jesus abolished food laws. There were surely other harmful things to eat that were not included in the “unclean” category, such as poisonous plants.

Wenham’s analysis of Mary Douglas’ interpretation of the laws is enlightening and inspires more questions. Douglas supposes that all of the animals listed as “unclean” somehow have characteristics that are not common within their animal kingdom. The theory is that “…man must conform to the norms of the moral and physical perfection, and animals must conform to the standards of the animal group to which they belong” (170). Did some animals adopt different characteristics at the moment of the fall, just as man fell from moral and physical perfection?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Living Levitically #5: Day Two

Wednesday night was “prom night” at the youth group for which I intern. I had to break the law found in Leviticus 19:19 - “nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material" in order to dress appropriately for the event. For some reason, following this law has made me feel submissive (in a good way) to something larger than myself. I care about what I wear and see it as a creative outlet. To have a simple rule imposed on this area of my life has reminded me that Christ is over all of me.

I am still struggling to be mindful of the people around me enough to stand up when a gray-haired person enters the room. I am anticipating that Sunday I will just have to stand in the back of the sanctuary at church for most of the service. In a discussion with my roommate I had the opportunity to reflect upon where and when I make a conscious decision to block out the presence of other people around me. This has caused me to contemplate seeing a person as an “It” or a “Thou,” from Martin Buber’s book.

Wenham’s commentary on Leviticus 19 was helpful to understand the covenant meaning behind the ban on mixing things such as cloths. Israel “must keep separate what God created separate. As God separated Israel from among the nations to be his own possession, so they must maintain their holy identity by not intermarrying with the nations (Deut. 7:3-6).” God ordained me to be part of His people. I am separate from other human beings because of this distinction. I am able to praise God in this because I love how well He knows His creatures. A sure way to make us remember things is to involve it in the practicalities of daily life. This way, we not only remind our selves but we teach our children and those around us about our identity.

"Hunting the Elusive Hipster"

NPR: Monkey See Blog: "Hunting the Elusive Hipster" by Linda Holmes

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Living Levitically #4: Day One

Yesterday was my first day living Levitically. What was most on my mind the whole day was my outfit - restricting oneself to clothing of one fiber isn't technically that difficult, what made it hard was the fact that something outside of myself was determining my behavior. I had to submit in an area of my life where I am not used to being told what to do. This simplified my life because I wasn't as in control, it was an eerie feeling. None of my underwear was made out of one fabric, so I will be breaking that law all week.

I am certain that I forgot to stand when elders with gray hair were in my presence. This practice forces me to be aware of my surroundings in a way that I am not used to. I will try to be more aware tomorrow.

I am doing okay not eating any animals on the black-list. I don't eat a lot of meat anyways. I’m not sure what to do about the law of not eating fat. There is fat in most things that I eat. Based on class discussions, I am assuming that this law has to do with sacrificing the best portions to Yahweh. I am interpreting this law to mean today that I should not indulge in very fatty foods.

I mention that I am doing this assignment to people and get various responses. From facebook I got jokes about me stoning people. From church friends I got questions about random laws that weren't in Leviticus. No one had ever heard of the standing in the presence of elders law.

I hated at least one of my friends in my heart. I asked for forgiveness.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Twitter predicting the Film Box Office

"A recent study [pdf] by Sitaram Asur and Bernardo A. Huberman at HP Labs found that it's possible to use Twitter chatter to predict first-weekend box office revenues simply based on volume of tweets. The predictions were even more accurate when they introduced sentiment analysis (i.e. classified tweets as positive or negative)."

This is exactly the type of stuff that I did for a summer internship at a marketing research company in town. I sat in front of a computer 40 hours a week, and did "sentiment analysis (i.e. classified tweets as positive or negative)." Most of what I did was grade blogs and comments and newspaper articles about an insurance company that was involved in the hurricane Katrina disaster. It was so boring I would sometimes break down in tears at the end of the day.

Every Painting in MoMa in two minutes

found on Vulture

I got to about the 1 minute mark before my brain started melting. then i just starting paying attention to whether the tops of the paintings aligned with the top of frame of the photograph. he gets a little sloppy here and there. :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

"The Death of Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10)
Tragedy and triumph go hand in hand in the Bible and in life. On the very first day of Aaron's high-priestly ministry his two eldest sons died for infringing God's law. In the life of our Lord his baptism by the Spirit was followed by temptation in the wilderness, his triumphal entry into Jersalem by his crucifixion six days later. In the early Church the healing of the lame man was succeeded by the death of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 3-5).

These glaring contrasts are upsetting to the cosy bourgeois attitudes that often pass for Christian. In many parts of the Church the biblical view of divine judgment is conveniently forgotten or supposed to be something that passed away with the OT. Heine's famous last words, "God will forgive me. That's his job," have become the unexpressed axiom of much modern theology. This short story is therefore an affront to liberal thinkers. it should also challenge Bible-believing Christians whose theological attitudes are influenced by prevailing trends of thought more often than they realize."

-- Gordon J. Wenham, The Book of Leviticus

Living Levitically #3: losing before I start

I got a text from Lindsey, who is also in my Leviticus class, tonight - all of her underwear is more than one fabric. Looking at mine, same story. Welp, I guess I'll just have to break that Levitical law and put it in the journal for the class. Clothing is easy enough, a lot of my simpler items of clothing are 100% cotton - no big deal. Shoes needed a little bit of thought. But I settled on my all-rubber flip-flops.

Although we haven't discussed the meaning behind this law in class, I liked what AJ Jacobs had to say about it on the website for his book: "--No mixing of wool and linen. This taught the ancient Israelites to keep things separate, good training for not intermarrying." This was a big principle for Old Testament Israel. God was working on making Israel a model nation for demonstrating His love and introducing the gods of other nations through marriage was distracting. I'm guessing the clothing was a metaphor.

“We don’t understand how interconnected we are until you can’t do it anymore,” he said.

About 17,000 flights were canceled Saturday, and travelers scrambled to find accommodation or land routes home during what is already the worst disruption in international air travel since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when all air travel in and out of the United States was halted for three days...“We don’t understand how interconnected we are until you can’t do it anymore,” he said."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

band: elvis perkins in dearland

my favorite song is "slow doomsday"

from Elvis Perkins' old album "Ash Wednesday" - the song "All the Night Without Love":

Well I once caused your cells to shimmer

And you once caused my cells to shimmer

Now we go all the night without love

Without love…

Quick Break: "How Not To Steal" by A.J. Jacobs

My dad is the only person I know who does not steal. Ever. When we go on a road trip, he won't stop at a gas station just to use their bathroom. He feels that's stealing the station's paper towels and soap.

During my year, I tried to think like my dad. You must be constantly aware of the impact of your actions. Because we steal all the time: We steal office supplies. We swipe our neighbor's wireless. We steal time from a friend by being late. We steal from our kids' future by leaving the lights on when we go out of the house.

You have to think absurdly broadly. Is refusing to buckle your seatbelt an act of theft? Probably. If you get injured, you're taking medical resources away from others. What about eating a plate of trans-fat-filled curly fries? Probably stealing. Anyway, it tastes too good not to be sinful.

Living Levitically #2, I think that's it...

3:17 - It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, in all your dwelling places, that you eat neither s fat nor t blood.”
11:3-8 - Whatever parts the hoof and is cloven-footed and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat. 4 Nevertheless, among those that chew the cud or part the hoof, you shall not eat these: The camel, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. 5 And the z rock badger, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. 6 And the hare, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. 7 And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, a is unclean to you. 8 You shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.
11:9-10 - 9 “These you may eat, of all that are in the waters. Everything in the waters that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat. 10 But anything in the seas or the rivers that has not fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is b detestable to you.
15:19-23 - 19 “When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. 20 r And everything on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean. Everything also on which she sits shall be unclean. 21 And whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. 22 And whoever touches anything on which she sits shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.23 Whether it is the bed or anything on which she sits, when he touches it he shall be unclean until the evening.
19:11 - you shall not lie to one another.
19:17 - “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but q you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you r incur sin because of him.
19:19 - nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.
19:26 - You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it
19:32 - “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall h fear your God: I am the Lord.
23:3 - Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.
24:16 - Whoever q blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death.
25:35 - 35 “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, z you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you.36 a Take no interest from him or profit, but b fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. 37 a You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit.

Living Levitically #1

Next Tuesday I start my 'Living Levitically' assignment for my Leviticus class at seminary. So far in the class we have covered the first 9 chapters - which are all descriptions of the different types of sacrifices and when and how they should be given. Thank goodness I absolutely love my teacher or this would be a huge bore-fest. Even so it's hard for me to connect all of these rules to theological principles.

I looked up the fairly well-known book The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs (works for Esquire). He was raised Jewish/secular and attempted to follow all of the laws in the Bible for a year. I haven't read the book but his website (here) is very entertaining.

here's a video of his TEDtalk on the book:

Rules I think will be hard to follow:
- Lev. 19:32 “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.
- Lev. 19:19 " “You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. v You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material."

Standing up around older people will just be hard to remember and difficult to explain. Also, most of my clothes have some sort of stretchy something in them (ahhh...). I think this whole thing sounds fun right now, but it might be like the time I made up fun punishments for my roommates and I if we didn't do our chores. They were way fun to make up but actually having to go over to Tony's house and sing "Tha Thong Song" by Sisqo was not.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


i've always wondered about under-hair tattoos and i totally dig the neck tattoo - especially because of Pharrell.

history of curse words

I've been thinking about the history of curse words ever since starting to watch the British teen show Skins. The show has tons of drug use, sexual innuendo, profanity, etc. However, much of it goes over my head, either because I cannot understand what they're saying because of the accent (and talking quickly) or because I have no idea what the word means. is now one of my more frequently visited sites.

- disclaimer: the show is really well done and i'm learning a lot about British teen culture. however, I wouldn't recommend it to everyone.

Looking up the wikipedia article on profanity was interesting. I think it's fascinating that we use curse words only for certain subjects: the supernatural, body functions and organs, disease & death, sexuality, disfavored people or groups (this is according to Steven Pinker's book The Stuff of Thought)

I wonder why...

Monday, April 5, 2010

"The sacrificial system therefore presents different models or analogies to describe the effects of sin and the way of remedying them.
- The burnt offering uses a personal picture: of man the guilty sinner who deserves to die for his sin and of the animal dying in his place. God accepts the animal as a ransom for man.
- The sin offering uses a medical model: sin makes the world so dirty that God can no longer dwell there. The blood of the animal disinfects the sanctuary in order that God may continue to be present with his people.
- The reparation offering presents a commercial picture of sin. Sin is a debt which man incurs against God. The debt is paid through the offered animal."
"...They are human terms designed to give mere man some insight into the mysteries of our redemption."

- The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Leviticus by George Wenham