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Happy Resurrection Sunday!

 (I am, shall we say, resurrecting my LJ in its honor)

My religion definitely has its ebbs and flows, and I doubt that I'm alone in this. But I was reflecting today, all of my Easters at SU have been really good and faith-affirming. From when I was a tiny freshman who just wanted Jesus to be my boyfriend, to today when religion makes up the driving force of my life and really the bulk from where I draw my personality and goals and ethical "selfhood." If that makes sense. I can't imagine my life without my faith and my love of God; it's brought so many good things and wonderful people for me.

On Good Friday I spent most of my time at St Pius's adoration chapel. It was amazing; I've really been struggling to work myself back into orthodox Christianity somehow - it's very lonely on the fringes - and part of my resistance was just that the gospel is irrational. And terribly bland and bureaucratized by present day religious institutions. The Trinity? Dusty old theology I want no part in :-p But at the same time, I am inspired and moved by a God so small and humble to not only dwell among humanity but to die for us. I can't really connect with images of God the strong, barrel-chested, omni-everything deity; such a figure may inspire reverence but not the personal connection and intimacy and love that I need. I am needy :-p

So the Good Friday imagery did a lot for me - I'm not usually into the suffering and self-denial portions of religion, but on Friday I connected. I stayed at church from twelve to three, the traditional times acknowledged as the hours Jesus spent on the cross. And the very mundane and temporal aspects of being there affected me a lot: what did it mean to hang there for hours, knowing somehow it was witnessing God but not knowing exactly how, as it was so antithetical to glory or even humanitarian love. The very human dread of death just permeates the suffering on the cross, and while I don't think Jesus thought of himself as God, he felt more connected to God than anyone else, therefore this extinguishing of God's presence in the world would seem wrong.Christians today have been spoiled on the ending: yay, Jesus lives! And that takes a lot of the sting out of the uncertainty of death, without this modern day watering down, that Jesus would have felt in approaching the cross. So Good Friday is about accepting God's will, unto death. I'm not sure I could be that strong or self-sacrificing, especially in light of a God who is less than public or obvious. I wear my crucifix necklace not because I'm a poser Catholic (ha) but as a reminder of its political implications: stand against the state; your example will force it into a mockery of itself. The imagery of a dying God against the strong and unforgiving execution of the state is just amazing, and should challenge me everyday to consider my social responsibilities as a Christian.

Saturday was the Easter Vigil at St Pius. Which, in light of Good Friday, was such an emotional relief to me: after all my mourning, Jesus is back! We received a catechumen and several candidates into the church, which was seriously nostalgic for me. All the baby Catholics! I should go dig up the, mm, Facebook note about my own baptism and confirmation? I believe I wrote it on FB :-p But yes, nostalgia. And I got to see Janet after the Mass. It turns out that she's moving to Maryland sometime, but I'm moving to NJ, so we're both moving on. I promised that we would keep in touch, and we will; she's so good to me. Plus she wants to come see my graduation and meet my parents. Yes :-p

And today was so so good. I managed to get myself an invitation over to Dr Martin and Dr Bohmbach's for an Easter supper, and further imposed on them by asking if I could come to church before where they were preaching. So that was really good; she did most of the liturgy and he gave the sermon. It's so neat to hear  them preach too; I rarely do, and it's a very different audience than hearing them lecture. Plus, as much as I share religion with them on a scholarly level, it's good to also connect on a faith level. So the gospel today was the road to Emmaus, and Dr Martin talked about how Luke has his travel metaphor running through the gospel, as an expression of discipleship. And just when these disciples had been disappointed and certain that their visions of a glorious messiah were done for, having just put Jesus to rest in the tomb, Jesus is really still with them. So Jesus' ministry continues with our own actions, even when they appear from our vantage point to be very DIY and singular.

Then they took me home and fed me :-D Really, they even accommodated my inconvenient vegetarianism, so we had an asparagus quiche and I mangled vegetables into a salad :-p I met their cats, we talked about life and academia and politics and family. I expressed all my excitement and anxiety not so much about grad school, but about jobs and housing and independence, all the adult things like that :-p It was a semi-transition into, I don't know, post-graduation non-studentship :-p Just being together in a more casual way. I fucking love them, I was so grateful for their hospitality and so touched. We do need to keep in touch, I want them to remain in my life.

So I am loved, and I am blessed. How did I wind up with so many wonderful people in my life? When I entered the religion major, or made religion a part of my life generally, I had no idea it would take me as far as it has. I can't even count my blessings, they're so abundant. I love the direction of my life, I love the confidence I feel that I am driven - if not called - to pursue this, and I love feeling like I grow in my faith and closer to God every day. I always want to feel this inspired, and to better live out the reciprocal love of all the love that's been given to me.

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That's, well, quite a shift from the last time I took it. Sorry Catholics, at least you're not absolutely last :-p Although I'm not sure why I'm more Mormon than I am Catholic. And more Scientologist, ack.

Anyway, I find both the Liberal Quaker and UU ranks to be underwhelming, because they don't stick to much doctrine at all. Which is great, sure, but, how is one to say if he or she isn't a Quaker or UU :-p And I find Neo-Pagans to be kind of tiresome sometimes. Whatev

But my faith now is very loose and fluctuating and unstable and I love the uncertainty. Really. I need a very big dartboard to figure out what I am everyday. My very main concern is God's immanence, recognizing and being grateful for God's presence in all of creation, and figuring out how to live and the meaning of life in light of it all. The problem I've had with a lot of religion is how much it neglects life now in favor of salvation later. I want to live now and know how to live now. My entire consciousness is wrapped up in this existential...crisis? It doesn't feel like a crisis, but this existential thing. I feel very strongly monotheistic, but trending toward a process theology or panentheism, or just something unorthodox. But I've never felt so absolutely connected to my spirituality.

It was a problem I'd had for awhile, that while Jesus is awesome, I don't want to build a barrier of the cross, or believing in Jesus - whatever that means - around God. God is freely available and not brokered by having the right doctrine or worship service or stained glass windows or whatever. Therefore I'm not much for organized religion anymore. Or I am, I still go to church to connect and listen and learn, but know that I commune with God freely in my life; God is not locked up in any little box.

So my faith has transcended religion and strayed into the yard of philosophy hardcore. I'm thinking of being a Neoplatonist - God is the very highest good, but contemplation is the second highest, and I have been struggling to figure out what it means to live a good life. I've also thought about being a Jewish mystic - they seem like my best bet for monotheists who respect women, and it'd have to be something mystical rather than traditional. I've also thought about being a Buddhist - I thought that Buddhism would be much higher on my BeliefNet results - but monotheism isn't there enough sometimes for me. Or maybe I'm just a mess and need to take a break. I am happy, though. When I first came to my conclusion that God is very immanent if not panentheistic, I wanted to die just so I could get Answers. Now I want to die a little bit less, certainly not before I solve my existential whatever. Dear God, please keep me inspired and unstable and growing up in faith.

Tae Kwon Do testing

My TKD test tonight was, I think, the hardest thing I've done evvver. Physically, mentally, emotionally. Not that that's exaggeration since I am just recovering now :-p I am a double black stripe now, which is just a lick away (albeit a very big significant one) from a black belt.

It was...ridiculous, the entire time I've been home Tory and I have been talking about testing, he gave me an application a couple weeks ago. And then yesterday we were reviewing and he drops this bomb: "By the way, I don't know if I told you but you're not testing tomorrow." And so I say "Okay" and then go home and think of better reactions than that. That's my standard way of dealing with things, btw. But I came tonight itching for a fight, I was going to whack him upside the head and tell him no, I certainly am testing.

It actually isn't Tory's fault, there's politics and drama behind it all and he has people to answer to. But it was so good, I was talking to Tory about this, and he really doesn't have the executive power to make these calls on his own. But Master Condon, wonderful man, intervened on my behalf as well. And it sounded like Mr. Rush, who is making these executive decisions, was indifferent enough to let me do what I wanted. But that was...wonderful, I get more support there than I even know and I was so grateful that they'd go to bat for me.

The test itself, awful :-p I was sweaty and shaky and consequently off-balance for kicks. Self-defense was the newest and consequently weakest material for me, and so I reviewed it a lot, but I never realized that doing it at testing is a totally different experience than going through the motions in class. My patterns did go well, I love patterns and Master Condon :-p During sparring I wanted to die, and couldn't catch my breath, but we got to finish off breaking boards and that's fun too.

I do need a lot of work before my black belt test, and everyone knew it and I was bracing myself to hear that I'd failed, actually. But I didn't, I got my double black stripes and I will continue to work so hard for them, to make up for my weak spots tonight. It ended up being a good test. Certainly a memorable one. My classmates were rad too, I guess I should mention them :-p But  I am so loved there, and so happy there. Definitely a good night


Brought to you by the letters G, R, and E

My mother refers to the SAT and ACT as the 'sat' and 'act' tests. She has not managed to do the same for the GRE (probably because I've only slightly referenced it to her). But I look forward to hearing her encouragement about the greeeee.

I am devouring vocabulary - FreeRice, baby - and scared spitless of the math portion. I haven't done math since high school. I find it fun and challenging, but I am really not up to speed. Tomorrow I'm going to go visit my high school, specifically to say hi to my math teacher, and hopefully she will have words of wisdom. Or words of something.

The writing portions as well. I know I am a good writer, it's just the uncertainty beforehand that is making me jittery. ETS is even nice enough to post all of the prompts online...but there's several hundred of them, not really anything I can prep for. I need study guides, oh yes I do. Let's test-drive one of the argument essays for now though:
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Think I should do one of these every night? Or alternate between argument and issue topics. I'm planning to take the GRE early August, so I'll have time to re-take it September/October if necessary. Plus, if I take it here my location is in Anaheim (which is a little bit of an inconvenience to get to); if I wait until I'm back in Pennsylvania my nearest location is in Harrisburg (which is a hell of an inconvenience. Plus I'd need to find transportation. Unless SU offers it but I don't believe so). I don't know, I don't know. I am keeping busy, at least

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