Thursday, January 31, 2013

Theologian Thursday: Eusebius (260-339)

As a lover of church history, I have found a soft spot in my heart for Eusebius, who was one of the first church historians, and followed the thought of Justin Martyr and Origen.

It's kind of funny to think of him being a church historian when he only lived in the third/fourth century. I mean, some of the more exciting drama (some post-Nicean controversies, and the councils of Constantinople and Chalcedon, not to mention anything in the middle ages) were just getting started or hadn't happened yet. But his work st the stage for  the keeping of records, without which the Christian tradition would be woefully paltry and this blog would not exist.

Eusebius was named the bishop of Caesarea in 313 after being imprisoned for a time during the persecutions, and was one of Constantine's top theological advisers. He was involved in the Council of Nicaea (with a slight Arian bent) in 325, and in 334 presided over a synod in which Athanasius was brought forth and accused of chopping the hand off a bishop (they brought the hand as evidence... but not the bishop. THIS IS REAL CHURCH HISTORY, PEOPLE).

Anyway, Eusebius's work has a lot to do with the canonization of books in the Bible. His relaying of the history of the documents and their use within the early church aided in the process of creating the canon we know today. In addition, he also talks about important figures in the early (eastern) church. His knowledge of the western church was lacking a bit, but you can't really blame him, because he didn't have an email account set up.

What you should read:
(To read more about my Theologian Rating System, click HERE) 
Gender Equality:
Although I imagine his respect for women was about on par with anyone else's in the patriarchal fourth century, he heaps praises on multiple women in his exposition of the martyrs, including Valentina, Theodosia, and others, calling them courageous, brave heroines.
Environmental Sensibility:
As usual, it's hard to say on this one. But I do find it interesting that just about every mention of "Creation" in his Church History is referring to the creation of humanity rather than creation or nature in general. I think that says something about where nature was on his priority list.
Heretical Tendencies: 
I had to give him two stars, just because of his (however slight) preference for Arian theology and its happenstance of falling on the losing side of history. Additionally, he studied from the personal library of Origen (who also turned out to be a heretic), which was maintained by his teacher, Pamphilus.
General Badassery: 
Like I said, I like this dude. Eusebius wrote a ton and was a  totally legit scholar. Those characteristics are pretty badass to me, but outside of that not much is known about his life, so there doesn't seem to be any crazy stories about him.

Finally, a long but lovely quote/prayer:

"May I be an enemy to no one and the friend of what abides eternally.
May I never quarrel with those nearest me, and be reconciled quickly if I should. 
May I never plot evil against others, and if anyone plot evil against me, 
may I escape unharmed and without the need to hurt anyone else.
May I love, seek and attain only what is good. 
May I desire happiness for all and harbor envy for none.
May I never find joy in the misfortune of one who has wronged me.
May I never wait for the rebuke of others, but always rebuke myself until I make reparation.
May I gain no victory that harms me or my opponent.
May I reconcile friends who are mad at each other.
May I, insofar as I can, give all necessary help to my friends and to all who are in need.
May I never fail a friend in trouble.
May I be able to soften the pain of the 
grief stricken and give them comforting words.
May I respect myself.
May I always maintain control of my emotions.
May I habituate myself to be gentle, and never angry with others because of circumstances.
May I never discuss the wicked or what they have done, but know good people and follow in their footsteps."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I just downloaded the new Vine app put out by Twitter this week.

You can post short 6 second videos, and it's kind of fun to see live tidbits of people's lives rather than just photos.

People are saying it's like Instagram for videos, but to me it seems exactly like the app GifBoom. Did any of you ever use that? It never really took off.

Anyway, I'm looking for people to follow so add me! I can guarantee lots of pug videos.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Pug Mug Monday #1

After 32 weeks of Caturday videos, I've begun to tire of finding a new one every week. So, at the behest of my friend Andrew (whose new blog--and music!--you should check out) I'm going to start Pug Mug Mondays.

Because A) Who doesn't love a pug? and B) I happen to have the cutest pug on earth and take way too many pictures of him.

And doesn't that make Monday a little nicer?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Theologian Thursday: Scholastica (480-543)

Scholastica was the twin sister of Saint Benedict, and they were both highly influential in their local religious life--running monasteries and such. I have always been fascinated by twins. In fact, when I was quite young, my "imaginary friends" were girl/boy twins (Is that really weird to admit on a blog? Oh well.). I think it's that unique familial closeness that is unparalleled, even in other sibling relationships. Of course, that's not always true, but I digress.

Scholastica and Benedict were indeed close. They founded a convent and a monastery within a few miles of each other and thrived on theological conversation and debate (even though they could not enter each other's house due to monastery rules).

During one of their meetings, Scholastica had a premonition that it was to be their last, and so when it was time for her brother to leave, she begged him to stay. Presumably considering her fears silly, Benedict refused, insisting he must go back to his house because he never spent the night away. Scholastica pitched a fit--crying and praying to God that Benedict would not leave. Gregory the Great tells us that she "poured forth such a flood of tears upon the table, that she drew the clear air to a watery sky" and such a huge storm began that Benedict couldn't leave after all.

He was like, "What the heck, dude," and she said "I asked a favor of you, and you refused it. I asked it
of God, and He has granted it!" So there. The ended up continuing their meeting, talking and praying through the night.

She died three days later.

The moral of the story is ALWAYS TRUST YOUR SISTER.

I'm going to pass on "What you should read" and Ratings today, since all we really know about Scholastica is from that piece by Gregory, and as far as I can tell she didn't write anything. So basically I'd just be making stuff up. And this post is already weird enough as it is.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Modcloth Sale

You may remember back in August when Modcloth had their crazy end-of-summer sale and I bought a bunch of stuff (and then swore off shopping for the remainder of the year).

Well, they're at it again. 70% off people. Here's what I snagged:

I feel like they don't have as much cute stuff available (perhaps because it's day 2 of the sale already), but it's definitely worth checking out if you're interested.

(And if you use this link, you'll get $15 off any $50+ purchase!)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Caturday: Not a cat edition

Basically this post is a failure because A) It's late and B) This is not a cat.

But you will forgive me as soon as you watch this.

Because it's that awesome.

Now how can I make my pug go up the stairs like that???

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Theologian Thursday: Wendell Berry

With the release of comments by Wendell Berry in support of gay marriage last week, I've been revisiting some of his work and thought and, man, is it inspiring! So I thought I'd spotlight him for Theologian Thursday today.

Wendell Berry isn't really a theologian. He is more precisely a writer, a poet, and a farmer. But his activism and language  (surely influenced by his friend, Thomas Merton) has a mystic, spiritual resonance that makes you believe that he sees something in the world--God, I guess--that most people miss.

I'll be first to admit that I don't really get "spirituality." I love ritual and myth, but most of my religious understanding is academic. That's just how my brain works. But Wendell Berry makes me wish I was a mystic.

Berry is a sixth-generation farmer and a highly-educated academic. He farms a 125-acre piece of land in Kentucky, and he has taught writing at Stanford and  NYU.

He has engaged in several nonviolent protests against the industrialization of farming and food, the death penalty, and war.

He teaches that love, life, and nature are sacred, and believes that a simple and humble life, shaped by community and honest work is the truest form of living.

Seriously, read his stuff. I challenge you to not be completely blown away.

What you should read:

(To read more about my rating system, click HERE.)
Gender Equality: 
Wendell Berry is certainly an egalitarian, but as far as I know isn't explicitly passionate about women's issues.
Environmental Sensibility: 

Creation is clearly Berry's number one priority. His work and life revolve around a natural agrarian mindset and a focus on both the redemptive qualities of nature and its need for redemption in light of humanity's treatment of it.
Heretical Tendencies: 
I don't think Berry's theology is very suspect to heresy, although I'm sure plenty of people give some side-eye to mysticism as a whole (which is a shame) and he's probably been accused of nature worship or pantheism or something.

General Badassery: 
By now I think I've made it clear that I think Wendell Berry is frickin awesome. The farmer/academic/activist combo is so spot on. I think what's so badass about it is that he has these educated, informed beliefs, he advocates for them (to the government, etc.), but he also actually lives them day to day in real life.

It was so hard for me to pick one quote from this exceedingly quotable man, but here you go:
“Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.”

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Caturday: No Shedding Edition

This cat just loves being vacuumed.

I'd have a lot less dog fur around the house if Ebenezer liked the vacuum this much.

Happy Caturday!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Theologian Thursday: Martin Luther (1483-1546)

I have held out on doing Martin Luther for the longest time. Mostly because I pretty much don't like the guy or his theology and didn't feel like I could give him a fair shake, but then I realized it's my blog and I can do whatever I want, so there.

But before this post becomes 500 Reasons Martin Luther is a Turd, here are some things I like about him:

  1. He is The Reformer of the Western Church. As I mentioned in my post on Reformation Day, despite my Catholic sympathies, I am irrevocably Protestant. So I have him to thank for that. He stood up to many ills in both belief and praxis in the Roman Catholic Church (i.e. selling indulgences--basically allowing people to buy forgiveness for their sins from the church).
  2. I'm a fan of his doctrine of the sacramental union and real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. I feel like it's a nice middle road between Zwingli's merely memorial elements (not real or important enough, if you ask me) and traditional transubstantiation (maybe too real?) and it acknowledges that the bread and wine is the body and blood of Christ (not just a symbol)... but that it's still bread and wine so don't freak out. Anyway, I could talk about Eucharist forever so I'll leave it at that.
  3. He's cool with clerical marriage. His own marriage set the precedent for Protestant priests, pastors, etc. to marry, which I think is right and good.
  4. "Soul sleep." Obviously nobody knows what happens when people die. But I know enough about biology (and, I don't know, astronomy, I guess?) to say that our "souls" probably don't "go to heaven," because A) There's not really a soul and B) There's not really a heaven. But because I'm a Christian and believe (or really, really want to believe) in a resurrection of the dead (kind of... maybe... sorry, there's no way to get through this paragraph without a million qualifications), I think the idea of "soul sleep" kind of makes the most sense. When you're dead, you're dead. But then you'll be alive again. Hopefully.
So those are some cool things about Luther.

I could make another list about how he was anti-semitic, hated women, put too much stock in the epistles of Paul/pseudo-Paul, thought each Christian had to "tear the eyes out of his Reason," had a wonky translation of the Bible, believed in "just" war, and was on the wrong end of a debate with my beloved Erasmus... but this sentence will have to do. I like to keep things positive around here.

What you should read:
  • Word and Sacrament I-IV (good stuff to be found in here)
(To read more about my rating system, click HERE.)
Gender Equality: 
I'll let Luther speak for himself here: "Men have broad and large chests, and small narrow hips, and more understanding than women, who have but small and narrow breasts, and broad hips, to the end they should remain at home, sit still, keep house, and bear and bring up children." "Tis you women, with your tricks and artifices, that lead men into error""The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes."

Environmental Sensibility: 
Again, it's hard to say. He has some nice thoughts about natural theology, but I feel like he'd be the type of person that wouldn't be much of a tree-hugger.

Heretical Tendencies: 
Obviously this depends on the side of the Catholic/Protestant divide on which you stand. Luther was excommunicated for not recanting anything from his works, especially the 95 theses. But much of his thinking is still pretty mainstream within Protestantism.

General Badassery: 
I can't deny that Martin Luther was a total badass. I mean, anyone who can just come out and say that the Bible says women are only fit for sex (for babies or business) has some major cojones. Dude was big and loud and drank and did and said pretty much whatever he wanted., without caring who was listening or what they would think (even if it was the Pope). I can dig that.

Lastly, a lovely quote:
"Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books, but in every leaf in springtime."

Monday, January 7, 2013


Between the holidays and vacation, my blogging schedule has gone all wacky.

So apologies to those of you who have missed Theologian Thursday (I was surprised to actually get complaints about missing it!).

Things should be getting back to normal this week.

Look forward to

  • Theologian Thursday (I'm always open to suggestions if you have someone in mind! Leave a comment!)
  • Winter Quarter first impressions. Classes start this week. I'll be taking Management of Information Organizations and XML Information Structures. (Fingers crossed this quarter's better than last.)
  • The return of Caturday!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Jonathan Edwards and New Year's Resolutions

New Year's resolutions inevitably remind me of Jonathan Edwards.

Dude was intense.

He outlined 70 Resolutions to guide him in becoming a better, more holy person.

And even though, as a good Wesleyan, the "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" preacher Jonathan Edwards is probably one of the last people I'd choose as a life coach, some of these Resolutions really resonate with me. 

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
  • Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining and establishing peace
  • Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.
  • Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings. (This one would definitely come in handy when reading Facebook and blog comments...)
I appreciate that, instead of just saying "Be perfect," or "Don't screw up," he created seventy line items of ways to do that. And he committed to re-read them every week to remind himself of his goals. I'm a hugely goal-oriented person--I love the whole process of setting goals and the satisfaction of achieving them--and it's so important to make them realistic, manageable, and focused. 

I don't have a complete list for the year drafted, but some of my new year's goals include getting another piece published, doing more book reviews, and saving money for a house. Who knows, maybe I'll even try to read Jonathan Edwards's Resolutions every week too.

What are some of your goals for 2013?