Friday, March 30, 2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Theologian Thursday: Pelagius c.354-c.420

I thought it was about time we showed some love to heretics around here, so I present to you: Pelagius.

You'll often see Pelagius pitted against Augustine in a battle about obedience: Pelagius believed that people choose to obey God or not, while Augustine said people can only obey God by God's grace. The debate stems from the idea of original sin and the "fall" of Adam. Basically, is humanity evil simply because we happen to be human?

Pelagius was condemned and anathemized by Pope Innocent I (and then pardoned and re-condemned by the succeeding pope), and most of his works were destroyed, which is unfortunate, given the rise of Arminianism, evolution, and other ideas that may actually support his ideas about free will and the nature of humanity, as well as challenge widespread Western ideas about original sin. However, most people still write Pelagius off as teaching an "unbiblical" works-based faith, and Augustine's theology has held the minds of the Western church ever since.

What you should read:

(To read more about my rating system, click HERE.)

Gender Equality:
Granted, it was very early in church history, and women were still basically property, but there's nothing much in anything I've read or heard that suggests Pelagius would be any different.

Environmental Sensibility:
Again, this just does not seem to be an issue for Pelagius. He was clearly worried about other things. He does have a work called "On Nature," but it's not what you think (i.e. it should be called "On Human Nature").

Heretical Tendencies:
Five stars here, because, yes, he is technically a heretic. Though, perhaps if we still had more than just fragments of his works, he could defend himself a little better.

General Badassery:
I'm going to give him a three, just for taking on Augustine, who is pretty bad-ass himself.

And a quote:

"Those who are unwilling to correct their own way of life appear to want to correct nature itself instead."

An interesting thought.

I'd love to hear your opinions on Pelagianism! Leave them in the comments si vouz plait.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

B*tches in Bookshops

Because librarians need a little Jay-Z & Kanye in their lives too.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Hunger Games, or: My First eBook

This is a post about me succumbing to peer pressure in two ways at once.

For all my love of digital media--getting used to online-only course material, loving open-access journals, PDF articles, and all that--I had never read an ebook until this weekend. I'm not one of those staunch devotees of hardcopy print, though I do like the feel of actual books, the ability to scribble in the margins, and, yes, the smell. I just never got around to it. But with all the hype surrounding the Hunger Games movie coming out, and the fact that my mother has loved the books for years, and my student employees and friends were all raving about them, I figured I'd better have a read. At the very least because I fear irrelevance. I knew there'd be no way of checking out a copy from a library anywhere (San Diego County has over 300 in circulation, and surely they have holds lined up until the next Quarter Quell...harhar what I did there), so I decided I might as well venture into the world of ebooks and see how I like it.

Even though I know Amazon is supposed to be the bane of every library and librarian's existence, I knew I cold easily download the Kindle app for my iPad and be reading in five minutes. So that's what I did. Sure, sure, I could have done a bit more research, but I'm a slave to Zipf's Law.

Later, my boyfriend showed me this sweet deal where you can get all three books for about $3, so I downloaded Kobo (which is pretty much just as good as Kindle... maybe more "social") and got my read on.

I started Hunger Games on Thursday night and finished on Saturday night. I started Catching Fire on Sunday morning and finished on Sunday night. Woe is me, spring quarter starts today, so who knows when I'll finish Mockingjay. Hopefully sometime this week.

But you guys. I'm obsessed. It definitely lives up to the hype. Though I'm hesitant to see the movie, since, as everyone knows, the book is always better than the movie. I'll probably see it anyway. And reading an ebook wasn't so bad after all. I did end up tethered to the wall during my Sunday read-athon, but it was OK. I could even highight. I'm not about to abandon all print, but I'm far less skeptical now. This is the future, you know.

I also want to write a bit more about the book, and all the interesting themes going on there, but it will have to wait, since this post is already too long and I have yet to even look at my new course websites for the new quarter. Blerg.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Happy Caturday!

Sorry, no real cats this week. BUT--it's a guy playing an organ made of stuffed cats. Which might actually be more awesome.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Theologian Thursday: Julian of Norwich 1342-c.1413

I'm really enjoying Theologian Thursdays, and I hope you are too. It's so fun revisiting the stories and works of some of my favorite thinkers in church history and learning more about them.

This week, it's everyone's favorite anchorite--Mother Julian!

Image from Fine Art America. (Check out that cat!)
Julian was a mystic who lived as the hermit-in-residence at the Church of Saint Julian in Norwich, England.

When she was about 30 years old, she fell seriously ill, and received a number of visions, which she recorded upon her recovery. These "shewings" revealed a theology deeply rooted in God's love for all of humanity--a universalist idea not common in the middle ages. The visions also graphically depicted Christ's suffering, which she said showed his love and gave her strength to withstand her sickness.

Probably one of the most well-known and most powerful visions is one involving a hazelnut:

And in this he showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed to me, and it was as round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought: What can this be? I was amazed that it could last, for I thought that because of its littleness it would suddenly have fallen into nothing. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and always will, because God loves it; and thus everything has being through the love of God.

Her conviction that nothing is too small or "mean" to be outside the love of God is comforting and refreshing, especially in a time when many people believed the black plague was God's punishment being meted out on the world.

What You Should Read:

I think the Middle English version is more fun, but it is a bit slow-going due to the unconventional spellings. Additionally, there are plenty of companion texts and annotative commentaries you can find on this work.

(To read more about my rating system, click HERE.)

Gender Equality:
The fact that she was a woman, writing and participating in the life of the church in the middle ages is evidence enough. Plus, her insistence that God abundantly showers God's love on all people certainly includes men as well as women. AND, she uses many images of Christ as mother--feminine God-imagery that has unfortunately been popularly discarded.

Environmental Sensibility:
Julian's theology of God's all-encompassing love has often been used to support an ethic of environmentally consciousness. She employs numerous nature metaphors (like the aforementioned hazelnut) and would definitely be at home in a conversation about humankind's responsibility for loving creation.

Heretical Tendencies:
Granted, some of her visions (and maybe the fact that she had visions) are a little out-there, but other than that and the fact she was a woman writing about spirituality, she was committed to a life in the church (literally, she lived in the church) and happily remained there.

General Badassery:
Those visions were pretty intense. And she survived that crazy illness and lived to tell the tale--and tell it to the benefit of the church for centuries to come!

And, as always, a quote:
"All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well."

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Monday, March 19, 2012

How Can You Not Have a Website???

Originally, this post was going to be about my trip to Julian, a little old-fashioned, touristy mining town in the hills, and how I visited with some guys from their historical society, and how cool their work is, and how they're digitizing all their stuff. But then I Googled Julian Historical Society to get some info/pictures to use for said post and found out that they don't have a website. Just a blurb on the Julian Chamber of Commerce website,which is, itself, rather... quaint. I was kind of shocked. Even the cemetery has a webpage (literally, one page).

It led me to wonder what exactly they're planning to do with all the data they're digitizing, and how they're going to make it accessible.

It also got me thinking about how the internet has changed marketing and consumption. If you don't have a web presence, you might as well not exist. I, the consumer, cannot find you (OK, full disclosure: I did find a mailing address for the historical society. So I guess I could get in touch with them. But that would require buying stamps.) and because I am a product of a fast-paced, gimme-gimme society, when you don't show up on Google, I give up.

Really, though. Historical societies are, like, my favorite thing. And they make me want to go into archives real bad. I just wish the Julian Historical Society had a way to check out what they're doing when I can't hang out in their little 100-year-old school house office. For now I'll have to make do with the San Diego History Center website. They have a cool historic photo collection.

Anyway, here's a photo of me in front of the Julian Library (which was closed, unfortunately) and cute boyfriend being cute.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Caturday! St. Patrick's Day Edition

Happy Caturday, and happy St. Patrick's Day!

What are your plans? I hope they're as festive as this kitten.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Theologian Thursday: Desiderius Erasmus 1469-1536

Erasmus is one of those writers you may have run into in a theology class or a literature class. His often humorous exposition of Reformation-era society makes for great reading, plus he was BFFs with Sir Thomas More (of Utopia fame). Additionally, you probably know of him from his highly publicized beef regarding free will/bondage with Martin Luther, the 95 theses guy who will probably get his own post one of these days.

Erasmus was a Christian humanist, dedicated to Renaissance ideals of rational education, which included study of classical languages, and resulted in his publication of a revised Greek biblical text and a corrected Latin Vulgate--quite controversial to the Catholic Church.

The thing I find most compelling about Erasmus is his commitment to truth over contention. Even though he was commissioned by the Catholic Church to speak out against Luther, he pointed out the downfalls of both sides, and while it didn't earn him any friends, he was standing up for what he believed to be right. Furthermore, he believed that this dialectic of respectfully differing beliefs was the very key to a good education and the seeking of truth. He didn't want to lay down a black and white doctrine; he wanted to discuss and debate to bring out truth.

What you should read:
(To read more about my rating system, click HERE.)Gender Equality:
Erasmus's goal in translating the Bible was to make it accessible to all. In a letter, he wrote, "I wish that all women might read the Gospel, and the Epistles of Paul."
Environmental Sensibility:
I know pretty much nothing about his view on caring for the environment, but my guess would be that, as an enlightenment thinker, he was more interested in the progress of humanity than love of creation.
Heretical Tendencies:
He wasn't technically a heretic, but he was basically shunned by both the Catholic Church and the Reformers--all because he was trying to reconcile them in the name of God. Regardless, his works were condemned by the Church shortly after his death.
General Badassery:
He stood up to the Catholic Church and Martin Luther all on his own, speaking truth to power and not caring if he was accepted or well-liked.

And, lastly, I couldn't choose just one quote, so here's two:
"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes."
"Even when everyone applauds you, you should be your own severest critic."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wardrobe Wednesday: Sparkly Tights

Alternatively, this post could be entitled "Why My Desk Chair is Now Covered in Glitter," but that seemed a bit long.The point is, they are tights with sparkly stars. And they were only $3! Not that the price really matters, because anyone who knows me will vouch for the fact that I cannot pass up glitter, whatever the cost.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Friday Library Link Round-Up

Some interesting links from the week:

Question: Any other bloggers out there who do link round-ups, do you find that a link you found early in the week is untimely by the time you post your list? I feel like the Encyclopedia Britannica story is old news now...

Monday, March 12, 2012

On Self-Branding & Marketing

I read this blog post from thewikiman (aka Ned Potter) about whether it's advantageous to market yourself (answer: not necessarily) and it was really refreshing in light of all the other things I read that are constantly yelling, "YOU NEED TO GET YOUR NAME OUT THERE!" His main point was this: Do what gets you the job you want; anything else is optional.

I'd venture to add do what makes you feel happy and fulfilled, kind of in the same vein of this post.

It's probably mostly self-inflicted, but I'm constantly badgered by these expectations that I need to do more, study more, read more, be more if I want to be successful. I watch my colleagues do big, exciting, important things and think, "Am I even cut out for this? I can't do that." And when I'm really honest with myself, I don't necessarily want to do all that crazy stuff.

And that's OK.

As Potter points out, not all (not most?) libraries or other places you might want to work are interested in big-time awards or a big reputation--they're interested in whether you can do the job you're applying for, and do it well.

This is so comforting to me. I don't have to be famous to do good work. I can do good work--in an area that is fulfilling to me, not one that I feel like I should be in--and that is good enough.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


This is a kitten giving a massage to a snoring pug.

Oh how I wish this was my life. Ebenezer needs a little sister.

Happy Caturday!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Theologian Thursday: John Wesley 1703-1791

I'm really excited to start Theologian Thursday as a weekly feature on the blog. I know, it's totally nerdy, and probably very few of you will have any interest in it, but I hope you'll at least learn something new or check out something to read.

photos from The Wesley Center

For my first Thursday theologian, I just had to pick the itinerant founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley. You may know him as the man who said, "Cleanliness is next to godliness." While he was a committed Anglican to the end, and would never really admit to starting a new church, his sermons and writings have influenced the formation of the Methodist church, as well as off-shoots in the holiness movement like the Wesleyan Church, the Salvation Army, the Church of God, and the Church of the Nazarene (to which I owe my education and my paycheck).

He was an intense journal-keeper, a prolific speaker, and a committed teacher. He had a heart for the poor, and did what he could to follow Jesus's command to care for them, even giving away most of his money.

Other reasons why John Wesley was pretty cool:
  • rode over 250,000 miles on horseback
  • Preached over 45,000 sermons
  • Founded a school
  • Wrote text books
  • Compiled a christian library
  • Wrote a four-volume history of England
  • Wrote a book of birds, beasts and insects
  • Wrote a medical book (Primitive Physick)
  • Set up a free medical dispensary
  • Adapted an electrical machine for healing & cured over 1,000 people
  • Set up spinning & knitting shops for the poor
What you should read:
Seriously. That's it. There's so many, it'll keep you busy for a long time. I recommend The General Deliverance and A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (that one's kind of a collection of sermons mushed together as one work). Those will give you a good idea of what he's about, namely: means of grace (spiritual disciplines) and works of mercy (helping others). I believe those each have their own sermons as well.

(To read more about my rating system, click HERE.)Gender Equality:
Wesley actively encouraged women to listen to his sermons and seek a life of holiness, and many people who claimed to have attained his proposed "Christian Perfection" were women.
Environmental Sensibility:
This dude knew God loved all creatures, and lived and preached accordingly. He was also a minimalist--I think he only owned a few pairs of clothes.
Heretical Tendencies:
Though he had somewhat radical ideas about how to live out the Christian faith, he remained well within orthodoxy and stayed a member of the Anglican church until his death.
General Badassery:
I mean, an electrical healing machine??? Come on.

Lastly, one of my favorite John Wesley quotes:

“I say to God and man, 'What I know not, teach thou me!'"