Saturday, November 21, 2009

Spiderman 3

I'm supposed to be packing. Actually, I WAS packing, and then I remembered I was hungry and hadn't had dinner. So, I'm taking this culinary opportunity to tell you a story (and I still plan to be in bed in a half hour).

Yesterday my 12 year old neighbor kid came over for his weekly English lesson. That's going well--I enjoy our chats and he seems to. We're learning some really practical vocabulary and doing a lot of role play scenarios.

"Simon says put your socks on your ears."
"Simon says put your shoes on your hands."
"Simon says don't take your shoes off your hands, and put this stocking cap on your head."

See? Clearly useful. After that, we worked on understanding the song "Fun House" by Pink (yay for youtube! Very helpful teaching resource). He asked me how I watch TV at home, since I don't seem to have a TV. Well, I said, I don't watch much TV, but it just so happens I do have internet TV now and get the normal Swiss channels. I showed him how it works and he explained to me which channels he thinks are best. "oh, and this one--do you like movies?" he asked.
"Ok," he continued, very earnestly, "On Sunday night, at 20.15, this one is showing Spiderman III"


I think that's sweet.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


"Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to man. Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope. The purpose of the Church’s year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope." - Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Does it seem to you that there has been an uptick in recent years of Evangelicals observing Advent? I'm not sure if I'm just more aware now, or if everyone is a bit more aware. This time last year I saw this video put out by Advent Conspiracy, which as far as I can tell is a fairly loose organization that encourages people to give relationally, as Jesus did, and give financially toward real needs rather than needless stuff. I like the idea of what they're promoting. At its core, I think the point is not to spend less money on presents, but to spend Christmas celebrating again that Jesus' arrival was hope for the world, and to discern how we can convey that hope in our relationships and around the world. It's to worship with our whole lives, in our hearts, in our homes, with our money. It's not a new point, I know. This has been the point all along. But the reminder is good.

In the Advent Conspiracy 2009 video they suggest that spending less time combing the malls, sitting in traffic, worrying about money, attending parties, buying sweaters, running hither and yon gives more time to worship fully "the newborn king who came to earth and changed everything: history, power, humanity, intimacy, hope--everything."

I find that a stirring collection of words, because I spend my work days thinking about history that is often ugly (sometimes beautiful, too), power relationships that are fraught with injustice, humanity that is hurting and has been for centuries, intimacy that has been compromised, commodified, appropriated; and in all that, sometimes not a lot of hope. And yet I think Jesus did change those things and does bring hope. So, during the Advent weeks, as part of my own observation of advent, I want to think about how Christmas relates to each of those.

I'm curious what y'all think about Advent, and who observes it, who thinks it's an un-evangelical sort of holiday to recognize, who doesn't think about it, etc.

I've also decided that the occasional visit to the coffee shop is a good Advent activity. Today as I slurped a toffee nut latte and worked on a schedule, I was aware that the soundtrack was all about God with us, God who forgives our sins, and washes clean the hearts of men. It was a good cup of coffee.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I think it's official. I suffer from Wanderlust. I noticed some time ago that I get a hankering to go somewhere every 2-6 months, but I realized this morning just how bad it really is when Rebekkah emailed Janet and me about our coffee date: "Where shall we meet, my lovelies? Starbucks? School? Paris?" And for the last 40 minutes, ever since "Paris" arrived in my inbox, I've been kicking around the idea of making the short train trip over there. It's really not very far--just three hours, I think. Why would I go, you ask? Why WOULDN'T I go?! And if you need a reason more specific than that, I can probably come up with one.

Paris will have to wait at least a month though, because on Sunday I'm headed for the Sunshine of South Africa to work on my MA research. Things I'm excited about for this trip are a)Early Summer! b)a Safari! c) seeing the country that I've had about a bazillion classes on in the last two years, and d)getting to know the family I've arranged to stay with; they are friends of friends, and seem like lovely people. I'm also looking forward to working on my project. It's now titled, "Damming the Olifants: Mining and Hydropolitics in the Limpopo Province." I'm working on the historical and political context of water rights/allocation and the Mining industry, and particularly the decision to build the De Hoop Dam and the currently contested proposal for the Richmond Dam. I hope I'll find the information I need! Planning a research trip is a new experience for me, and not like the days at Fox where Paul Southwick and I just trekked over to the Oregon Historical Society archives every Saturday for a few weeks. I'm sure I'll wish I'd prepared differently in some ways, but it's a first try, so I don't want to hear any tsk tsking if I make some mistakes or didn't anticipate fully everything I'd need. I am pleased to have four quality readers lined up already for my February draft review process! That's going to really make my paper better.

That's it for now. Go somewhere interesting! If not Paris, perhaps Pendleton. If South Africa is too far, maybe Southern Oregon. Life is more fun if you go somewhere!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thesis Thoughts

Derek Gregory, on writing in the Social Sciences (and I'll add, the humanities):

"If, as these [critiques on Ethnocentrism, Sexism, Abstraction in social theory] imply, there is no privileged vantage point, no singular place of reflection, no unambiguous closure, no unitary logic, then how can we make the lives of other people intelligible to us--how can we bring them within the horizon of our own (limited) sensibilities and competencies--without in some way being invasive, colonizing, even violent? Yet surely we are not condemned, in imagination or in practice, to our own eccentric worlds? I can offer no answer to what Clifford calls this predicament of 'ethnographic modernity': perhaps all we can do, at present anyway, is to disclose our vulnerabilities and, as Spivak puts it, 'unlearn our privilege as our loss.' If so, then part of this deconstructive process will entail an examination of our textual strategies-and in particular a consideration of the duplicities of narrative and image--because it is through these modes of representation that many o f our most commonplace privileges are unthinkingly put in place. To put it as starkly as possible, the crisis of representation has once again brought the politics of social theory and the poetics of social inquiry into the same discursive space."

Now don't you wish that you too could spend your days reading about the Historical Geography of Modernity? ;)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

book review

My book review that I wrote last week is going to be published in the upcoming edition of the Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Afrikastudien newsletter. I'll try to remember to re-post a link in mid-December when it comes out, since I know you all won't want to miss THAT! :) It's my first publication with my name on it (although I did possibly covertly slip my name into illustrations I created for Grass Valley product user manuals. But I don't think that counts).

Saturday, November 7, 2009

How He Loves

My cousin made a reference to this song today on his facebook page, and it catapulted me into GFU nostalgia, not because I knew the song at Fox, but because it's the type of song that reminds me of chapel and green room. I miss chapel, and singing with 1000 people in the middle of my weekday morning!
But anyway, I'm reading Jerry Bridges' The Discipline of Grace on the trains and buses these days, which is essentially about what "the gospel" means for Christians...since Christians tend to sorta think you only need "the gospel" to become a Christian. I'm in the middle of a chapter about how Jesus stood as my representative not just in paying for my sin, but also in his ability to perfectly please the father, so that what Jesus did, I did, and the way the Father loved Jesus is the same way he loves me because he counts all of Jesus' goodness to me. This song puts the feeling of this grace nicely, I think.

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way that
He loves us.

If you think big sloppy kisses are too sappy for such a serious thing as the gospel, well. Consider Isaiah:

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Weddings...sloppy wet kisses. same idea.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Rebekkah and her roommates hosted a Halloween party Saturday night. I didn't have time or supplies to make a very creative costume last week, and Saturday afternoon I was tied up writing a book review on Peace and Conflict in Africa (good book, by the way. I'd recommend it if you're interested in strategies for sustainable peace, or the integration of the liberal peace project and traditional endogenous conflict resolution mechanisms). In the last 10 minutes before running out the door, I quickly cut out a piece of cardboard, printed a sign, and packed some tape in my purse so that I could finish assembling my "Nudist on Strike" costume on the train on the way. Unfortunately, I didn't notice until I was at the party (and Janet pointed it out) that I had mistyped and I was a "nudist on stike." How very disappointing. And how very typical of me, too. Mistakes like this probably really undermine my claims to being a competent editor, and yet it seems I have an editor "hat" that functions quite well when it's on, and the absence of which is very evident when it's "off." Anyway. I added an R to my sign. You can kinda see it squeezed in there, written in pencil.

Valda being catty.
Richard and Rebekkah.

Speaking of editing, I finished my big PhD editing project last week, and I'm enjoying the freedom to prioritize my own projects again. By projects, I mostly mean my MA thesis, but yesterday I also finished the drawing I'd been working on, and I went to a GIGANTIC art store with Sue and Tim to look for framing stuff. I got a silver frame (that I think looks pretty nice!) and the materials I needed to frame it up myself, so it's finally ready to give to my friends! I got two other frames and mats as well, so that just as soon as I draw two more pictures, I can pop them in frames and (hopefully) trade them for some George Washingtons.

Duty calls! Gotta go! Love and miss you peeps at home.

Monday, November 2, 2009

50 years

Congratulations are in order for my lovely Grandparents, who celebrated 50 years of marriage Sunday!