Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas? Already? And why do you ask me theological questions?

We are on a Christmas decorating binge here on campus. We figure that Christmas is our holiday, so we should absolutely celebrate it to the utmost. I've scrounged my house and bought out Walgreens, but the learning center is decorated with a tree, my Christmas village, and strings of extra lights. My office sports a little tree, and my bookcases and door are adorned with lighted garlands. The candle warmer has a Christmas-smelling candle perfuming the air, and Christmas music is on my iPod.

It's good to remember that in the midst of budget cuts, finals, and deadlines, Christ should still be pre-eminent in our thinking. A student came to me yesterday to ask my thoughts on John 1:1-5. This was a bit of a surprise, since I am the English prof. and not one of the great theological minds around here. Fortunately, I've been studying the book of John so I had some thoughts to share with him.

One overwhelming thought I've had is just how difficult life was for Jesus. He epitomized the "No good deed goes unpunished" philosophy; every time he performed a miracle, critics questioned him. Most of the time they were willing to accept what Christ did, but they questioned everything else: his authority, his training, his lineage, and even his timing. I have been struck by just how bleak Christ's day-to-day life was, but yet he still chose to endure life on earth to save the very humans who constantly criticized and persecuted him.

So, as we endure minor hardships, let us not complain that our lunch prices have gone up or we have to work a little harder. What we face is trivial compared to Christ's trials, and even if our lives were smooth, they would still not compare to what awaits us.

Here's to celebrating Christ's coming!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am soooo ready for Thanksgiving. All those freshmen: they're just as disillusioned as I predicted. They're also demanding, maddening--and sweet. Dealing with them on a daily basis is exhausting, but it is, indeed, a labor of love.

This afternoon I will give my Comp. I class the task of selecting at least 5 "little" things they are grateful for. I got this idea from Joe Holleman's column in today's Post-Dispatch about things he enjoys. So, for the record, here's my list:
  1. iPods: Music customizable to your own tastes. I know it's selfish, but I can have whatever music fits my mood, with none of the stuff that irritates me, like distorted electric guitars, commercials, and singers who can't carry a tune.
  2. Tea: It makes everything better. It soothes, warms, and flavors most of my early mornings and late afternoons.
  3. Wireless internet: How did our family communicate before instant messaging? It's pretty amusing to see 3 or 4 people in our family room, all typing to one another on laptops. Sad, isn't it? But convenient, too.
  4. Friends who know when you need prayer: Thank God for their tender hearts.
  5. Freshly tuned pianos: They make me want to practice. And the highs sound like bells--delicious!
  6. Scented candles: I really should have been Catholic, with my love for candles and incense. I don't know of a more homey feel to a place than a good smell.
  7. Fall leaves: Even if they're squished all over wet streets, I am constantly amazed that God used such an imagination in creating all the variations in pigments.
  8. Students who smile when they serve your lunch: Even if lunch ticket prices are going up 150% next week, just seeing happy faces makes cafeteria food feel like a banquet.
  9. Quiet offices: Solitude helps me think.
  10. Dogs on my lap: Nothing like unconditional love, at least when they leave each other alone. As we move along toward winter, doggies on the lap also keep you warm.

Have a super holiday, and make your own list.