September 30, 2013

Style Swap Round 3.

Best one yet. And not just because of my haul, although it was impressive:

3 tank tops
2 long-sleeve shirts
1 cardigan
1 knit sweater
1 dress (2ish, but I doubt I'll keep the second)
2 skirts
1 pair shorts
1 pair jeans
1 pair shoes
1 purse
1 necklace

I wore a new outfit today, and I'll have new clothes on tomorrow, and probably the day after that, too!

There were 15 lovely ladies of all kinds, and 2 wee babies who were passed around. Karen made an astounding lemon tart, cheddar & chive scones, and pocmorn*. Wine and teas and veggies and fruit and cheese.

Much laughter and enthusiasm. Such a great time and thoroughly successful evening. Leftover clothes will be going to a local refugee community called Romero House.

I really should have taken photos. Sorry for the lack of visualization. But hooray for a non-seminary post! If y'all are within driving distance, you should come in the spring. And if you're not, I highly recommend hosting your own!!!

*pocmorn = popcorn, but it's been renamed by our friend's adorable daughter and sometimes I forget which is the "real" name for it.

September 27, 2013

She Does Seminary: Week the Third

Here's the thing: there is nothing new under the sun. All these doctrinal debates? All the fear of heresy? All the either/or discussions and stances about all the nuances of what one believes and how one ought to live it? It's been around, folks. Since the 4th century. Presumably earlier.

I find this somewhat comforting. None of my fears are unknown. None of my wildest hypotheses are out of the realm of the normal. Someone else has thought the same thing. And someone else has disagreed with them.


You know what else has been around since the 4th century? Church politics. We may have separation of church and state in the western world, but there are still politics inside the church. And the church can be quite political. This came up quite clearly in the past couple of weeks, and frankly, it makes me anxious. I don't want to get all broiled up in politics and manoeuvrings. Can I be involved in church/ministry without it? This connects to thought #3...


Unity. Is such a thing possible? On what scale? Does unity have parameters? Is it right to say at some point, to some other person or group, "We cannot work together." I'm speaking mostly in a Christian context, in light of Jesus words' and early teachings on how love and unity are central to reflecting God. But this does extend beyond "church." What does it mean to have peace with others?

Do any of us want unity, or are we all secretly hoping for uniformity? Or at least a degree of uniformity... Is unity separate from uniformity? We like to talk about how it is different. I am inclined (today) to believe they are more synonymous than we pretend.


If you are interested in the music I like, and want some of it for yourself, I am a big fan of the Music for Ants mixes and have just downloaded the new autumn mix. Please feel free to follow suit.


This is the last weekend of September, and I am sad. Socks are a thing I have to wear now, and sweaters. My hands get cold on the bike rides to school, and my nose is all sniffly in the wind. Oh autumn! You're beautiful, but you're coldhearted.

September 21, 2013

She Does Seminary: Week Two

I hope my posts are not reduced to weekly-point-form-notes from now til Christmas. It may be. It's my blog and my life, and I know I don't need to apologize, because I haven't promised you anything else. But I will tell you that I hope I still have interesting and/or random thoughts to share with you.


So much to read. I like reading. But sometimes the absorption takes longer than the actual reading. I wonder how much of the material I cover & thoughts we discuss will make its way from brain to heart and heart to hands, you know?


Greek words! Noun declensions! Pronoun charts! I like them. I love learning languages.


Friendships. Some come easily, and sometimes becoming friends is awkward even though it seems we all want to be friends. There are also some moments where I am relieved I don't have to be besties with everyone. But I do think I need to be kind.


Starting on Tuesday, I have a part-time job. Flexible hours, laid-back boss, at the college. Ideal.


Why don't we talk much about these big questions (the history of the church, the actual aims of the Christian life, and the literary/historical/cultural context of the Scriptures) in non-seminary faith conversations? I feel like many of us would benefit greatly from this.


In non-seminary news:

My elbow is not broken, although it is definitely still injured.

Last Friday, I went to a sleep clinic, where I had 15 electrodes, two breathing bands, one nostril-tube, and a blood-oxygen monitor attached to me while I slept. In another six weeks, I'll find out what they observed, and if there's anything to indicate why I woke up earlier this year not breathing. Yeah, that happened. Like I'd gotten the wind knocked out of me, and couldn't catch a breath. Terrrrrrrifying.

This song is catchy and lively, and the music video took a surprising turn. I like it (minus product placement).

September 13, 2013

She Does Seminary: The First Week

School is...great. In 3 days of classes, I've already learned more (or at least more relevant & cohesive) church history than in all my years at church.


One of my classes is called "Teaching the Faith," and the prof started by stating that the way we learn something is different than the thing we come to know (there is some sort of Latin saying about this), and talked about how this is relevant to faith/Christianity. As he shared his own story, he said that his first post-seminary assignment was to teach in Burundi in the early 80s, after major genocide. The church had lost an entire generation and had no educated leaders. So he arrived with the mandate of teaching theology/history/ministry to 5 high school graduates. With no textbooks outside the Bible.

He was struck by the fact that Burundi was considered one of the most Christian nations in Africa, and yet was marked by such violence. "What faith is it that they know?" he asked himself, "and how on earth did they learn it?"

I feel like he is asking the right kinds of questions, and as he's been asking them for years, I'm looking forward to learning from him.


As an MDiv student, I am required to attend prayer/chapel every day that I am on campus. This means that in the past week (including the retreat* the weekend before), I have attended more "church" than I did in the entirety of May through August. It feels strange, but good (mostly).

I'm quite certain my favourite prayer time will be Tuesday evening Taize prayer. I cried this past week, in what I think is a rather healthy (and somewhat perplexing) way. It is rare that I cry in church, unlike one of my dear friends who has said, "Pretty much, I go to church to cry." I respect and envy that she feels free to be emotionally vulnerable in a church/chapel/sanctuary.


I have learned the Greek alphabet. Next up: whole words.


I've made a few new friends, and rekindled a couple friendships from the past. The interpersonal dynamic of any new situation is the most stressful to me; I hope I navigate this one well, that I do not listen to the impulses that speak of hierarchy and "coolness" and trying hard.

*in typical Beth-fashion, I wiped-out at the retreat and maybe cracked a bone near my elbow. Maybe. The initial x-rays show fluid in the joint, but no visible fracture. I go back next week to confirm whether or not there is an "occult fracture" - until then the doctor's advice is, "Use it as much as you can; try not to land on it."

September 10, 2013

TIFF 2013: Sunshine on Leith

I'm grateful for friends like Selina who help me remember that Toronto has fantastic arts & culture offerings. As an avid TIFF fan, she's my go-to movie friend throughout the year, and even more so in September. So when she texted on the weekend to ask if I wanted to go see, Sunshine on Leith, a Scottish musical, I didn't need any other info.

I was in. And once again, wound up with more than I'd expected (last year, the Countess of Wessex attended the same film as us, Rebelle, which went on to be nominated for an Oscar, and was stunningly beautiful and upsetting). Scottish musical, yes. With an exclusively-Proclaimers soundtrack? Yes. The world premiere? Yes. Two rows in front of said Proclaimers, the film director and main actors? Yes.

Guys. And gals. It was a good movie. It avoided much of the schmalz of musicals (only one moment of eye-rolling cliched conversation), wound three love stories around the beauty of Edinburgh and the return of two young vets from overseas duty, and made me laugh out loud. I also noticed my vision was blurry from tears during one poignant scene between the long-married couple.

The soundtrack comes out on iTunes on Oct 4th, and I'm most definitely downloading it. Maybe I'll book a ticket for a trip to Scotland at the same time, because, dang. When there's sunshine on Leith, there's nowhere lovelier to be.

September 5, 2013

Hip Hop Karaoke & Seminary: Risky Business

Q: What does seminary have in common with hip hop karaoke?

A: They're both terrifying. And yet I said yes.

Earlier this summer, I asked my friend David to please invite me next time he was going to perform at HHK...somehow, that became a plan to do a duet with him, and let another friend, Shetu, make a video about it (as part of a series she's making on women trying things for the first time).

Yeah. What had I done!?

Of course, I was more fearful of backing out than of performing, so after several rehearsals (including one as we cycled through downtown Toronto, rapping together in loud, outdoor voices), I found myself at a night club, choosing a hip-hop name for myself, sweating and shivering.

Here's the result (minus a final sound-edit):

Beth does hip hop karaoke from Shetu M on Vimeo.

Mad props to Shetu for her interviewing & video-editing skills. And much thanks to David, for being a master of hip-hop and constructive, encouraging feedback.

I am proud of myself, friends. Like I say in the video, I'm ready to be me, to love the things I love and do the things that make me happy. Like rap. And study theology (after day one of school orientation, I am both terrified and excited about what I've gotten myself into).

September 2, 2013

Oh Hello, September.

The light seems more suited for 9pm than 9am, but weather does what weather does, so my dad and I sit in the semi-dark of this Labour Day morning and hardly even notice that we should probably turn on a light.

Long weekends are for many things, and one of them is thinking. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. My family is fantastic. We just are. I love each one of them - the sometimes-grumpy brothers, the just-in, jet-lagged parents, the hostess-with-the-most-cutest-baby sister, the in-laws who add so much goodness to our crazy, and of course, the kidlets. Oh, the kidlets. Stop growing, please!

2. I am officially a student. I don't have any notebooks. I don't have any books. I don't even own a desk. But I bought a few new* shirts and I have a schedule of mandatory orientation events this week and then I am going on a retreat with fellow students and some faculty, and then, voila, classes. It's a thing.

3. Last weekend. I'm still mulling over just how much I adored being out of the city, sleeping in a tent lit by a late summer moon, seeing not just half a dozen stars, but the actual Milky Way. Bonfires and marshmallows and dew on grass. Birds and cicadas and silence. I love the convenience and culture of the city, but I need the stillness of the country. I'm also mulling over the way I mocked fashions and discussed people in the crowd (people-watching being a favourite past-time when I'm waiting in busy places), and wondering at what point I crossed the line from casual comedy to slut-shaming, and how do I find a balance of rolling my eyes at the ridiculous without casting stones at those who don't deserve it? I feel convicted. And frustrated with many sides of my culture.

Well, that's all the think-time I have for today. It's do-time now.

*from Sally Ann and the VV, in light of with my budget & ethics.