Friday Five: Big Questions
1.) Do you believe in God or a higher power? Ooh, ooh! I know this one! YES! (God, that is, not just an ambiguous higher power.)
2.) Are good and evil just concepts, or real powers in the universe? That depends on what one means by “powers.” I definitely believe good and evil exist, and we can choose to strive toward good rather than succumb to evil. I don’t imagine evil hovering over my shoulder, like the little devil versus the little angel, but I believe it’s real.
3.) What is your view on forgiveness? It’s always there if you ask for it. Being Catholic, I believe in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. God will forgive us if we but ask (and are truly penitent, of course). As for forgiving others… it’s hard. Really, really hard sometimes. But if God can sacrifice his only Son to save us, and forgive me for anything I’m capable of doing, then I can forgive other people. Remember, forgiving and forgetting are entirely different things.
4.) Do organized religions do more harm than good? I read an article (or perhaps a blog post; such are the times) about “organized religion” as a concept one can object against. The author wondered what qualifies a religion as being organized. If two nondenominational Christians believe the same things, but belong to different fellowship groups, are they organized? Anyway, governments are another body that does harm as well as good, but you find far fewer people who are against organized government than organized religion. Yes, the Medici popes did some despicable things, but Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is on her way to canonization.
5.) If you had a day to spend playing God, what would you do? Wow. Try not to screw up the world? The Holy Father’s missionary intention for last month was to bring about the full communion of Christians, so that sounds like a good thing to do. I might also find some ex-Christians who gave up because they never quite got the answer they were looking for, so I could give it to them in some big, flashy way. I’m patient, sure, but obvious signs are nice, too. (The Resurrection, anyone?)
I had kind of a down week. I’ve got a lot on my mind lately, so not having a chance to mull that over at all put me in a worse mood, I think.
Sunday was a bit crazy. Maura left early for choir rehearsal. She’s been really into singing at Mass lately, so I’m glad she has a chance to do it on a larger scale. Something about hearing five hundred people sing the Gloria bring me great joy as well. I got there early since I was lectoring and, well, not running late. I tried to go in the side door, but there was a sign on the door leading to the sanctuary: “CAUTION! There is a red-tail hawk loose in the sanctuary. KEEP DOOR CLOSED.” A little scared and very confused, I went around to the front doors, only to find them all locked. This was only about ten minutes before noon, so I got all frustrated. The side door wasn’t actually locked, so I went in, put my stuff down and went up to check the lectionary. Michelle and Mike were standing up behind the podium, looking at the ceiling behind the altar. I looked in that direction and was absolutely floored to see a hawk perched up near the ceiling. It was so freaky! Monsignor Malloy, who was celebrating, announced the bird to the congregation before Mass. The immediate murmur meant some people managed to miss our special guest. He turned around when we all started the Gloria and shuffled over once before Mass started, but otherwise he stayed put. I was a bit terrified before I went up to read. With my luck, he would have chosen just that ten minutes in which to swoop down from his perch. It was a Mass to remember.
After heckling (a.k.a. signing people up for retreat) after Mass, I walked over with Jim and Chris. Michelle had ordered pizza for us, but she got the wrong sizes. I only figured out later that, as it was Superbowl Sunday, it probably wasn’t the best day to order pizza. I heard somewhere that that’s the biggest pizza sale day of the year. Our meeting, once again, wasn’t particularly productive. The retreat is the first weekend of March, so we’ve got some serious work to do. I still think it’ll be an awesome time.
Monday’s Shakespeare lecture, though not on an actual play, was still great. Leinwand is just that good a lecturer. And I’m convinced now that one of the washers in QA just doesn’t work right, because I think I only put one quarter in it this week. I’m not quite sure what to do about that. Lunch and dinner were lovely, as usual. Eating alone is that much more depressing since I’ve gotten used to having meals with six or seven other people. I can’t even list them anymore because group dinners happen so often and with varying people. Yay for friends. Also, 7th Heaven was really bad. Yes, Ruthie is sad about Martin, but do we really need a whole episode about that, considering how few they have left? (No. No, we do not.)
Tuesday started out a bit rough. I got up at my usual time, but since I don’t have Spanish on Tuesdays, I had some extra downtime. I always intend to use it for extra studying, and almost always spend it online. It worries me how much time I spend sitting here, typing and reading away. I do most of my non-school-related nonrequired reading from this very screen. My eyes are not thanking me. AA lit was boring beyond reason. I understand that literature has social context, but the context is only worth so much without really examining the text. 301 did its job with me, it seems. Adolescent Development was far too quiet and largely unhelpful, which made me uneasy in the face of Thursday’s exam.
Wednesday is my day of mad dashes. First, from breakfast in my room or at the Diner to Jimenez. The former has been more common than the later. I’m running out of cereal, but it’s so inefficient to go all the way to the Diner and then come all the way back. Spanish is generally dull. It’s too early in the morning for any of us to really be engaged. Sure, the activities are lame, but we’re in a better mood to deal with them midday than first thing. Then comes Jimenez to Susquehanna in ten minutes. It sucks. I’m cold, out of breath, and my Colonial Lit teacher always starts like right on time, so I feel late (another not good feeling). It’s also rough when I haven’t quite finished the reading… which is increasingly more often lately. The walk from there to Shakespeare is quite nice, since it’s on the same floor of SQH. After Shakespeare, I fastwalk back to the dorm to get my lesson plans and go teach. It was flurrying while I waited for Irene, so I put my gloves on for the first time in weeks. Stupid phony spring warmth. That was, incidentally, the last time I saw my gloves. I’ve lost them twice before, but this time, they’re gone for good. I’ll miss them. They were very good for my thin fingers.
Class was better than last time, but still not great. Irene had planned that week’s lesson on diversity, but wound up following almost none of it. I’m pretty sure now that I suck at leading discussions. It’s hard to referee between the Talkers and the Non-Talkers. After the opening discussion, we played a game. We taped a description to each student’s back and gave them a scenario: The twelve of them were on a sinking boat. The only lifeboat held eleven people. If all twelve tried to get in, it would sink, so they had to choose one person to not be allowed in, treating one another like they would treat someone with that description, among them “homosexual,” “world-renowned scientist,” and “non-English-speaking Asian.” It was interesting and horrifying to witness. The girl playing the Asian was told she liked to eat sushi, to help her guess her description. The “95-year-old woman” was dead weight. The “president” (we didn’t specify which one!) was automatically out. “Michael Jordan” was automatically in. The girl that got “ex-convict” actually told the “homosexual” girl she was going to Hell. I was shocked. I think the discussion after that activity helped them a lot, though. (For the record, I would never tell a homosexual he or she was going to Hell. As Catholic as I am, I know only God really knows who’s going where.) We read an article after that, which was entirely anticlimactic, especially since we’d talked about affirmative action already. We ended with a forced choice activity, where the students had to choose whether they agreed or disagreed with a statement and stand near the corresponding sign. Irene read sentences like, “I have nothing against interracial dating, but I prefer to date members of my own race,” they picked a side, and we talked about why they stood where they did. A few actually switched sides after hearing the others talk. It was an interesting class.
Wednesday night dinner was lovely, as usual. We started the rosary with just two people, including me. Dinner was much fancier than usual. The ladies feeding us this week brought a bunch of different types of pasta. They remembered bread, which made me happy. No one tried to give me salad, which avoided the whole vegetable thing. I also think I was eating a chicken wing. (One does not usually question free food.) I gave some CSC friends a crash course in the manual alphabet, but I never actually made it to Sign Language Club that night. I should go back at some point, but I think I’ve lost the mid-level interest and enthusiasm I had.
Thursday was an interesting day. AA lit didn’t go well. I misread the syllabus, so I was completely unprepared. That is not a good feeling, especially when you think of school like I do. I’d wondered why the reading was the same as the previous class, but hadn’t thought about it enough. I’m not fond of reading assignments. I tried halfheartedly reviewing for my Adolescent Development exam, but basically just gave up. I think I did better on the first two questions than the third. The chapter on race and socioeconomic status was odd reading. I went through the section on African-Americans thinking, “Yep… yep… not so much… no, not at all… kind of….” I chose to write about poverty.
Bible study started again Thursday night, but I didn’t go. Fr. Bill was taping Mass for EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and asked me to lector for him. Once I understood what he was asking, I’d eagerly agreed. As it turns out, he asked Tim originally, but, being one of the leaders of my Bible study, he can’t really skip it. (I’ve only skipped for Fiat Dinner and this. It’s still Church-related.) In the end, I was really glad I went. I’ve never been to the Shrine before. We were only in the crypt downstairs, but it was still beautiful. I also added some diversity to the non-choir parts of Mass. Fr. Bill is white; the deacon was white; Chris (a different Chris) and Neil, the altar servers, are white; and the other lector, Joe, is also white. I felt like the diversifying black girl once I realized that. It was a trippy experience overall. First, Fr. Bill has a really nice car. Second, I’ve never been to Mass more than once in a day, let alone more than once in under ninety minutes. On top of that, it was two half-hour Masses in the future (they tape them in advance; we did the second and fifth Sundays of Lent). Third, I’ve never read to a camera before. I told the stage manager guy that I had been on tv before, but for It’s Academic. “Ah, well, we do ‘It’s Sacramental’ here,” he replied. I got back in time for ER. It was quite a productive night.
Friday was another interesting day. We discussed Catholicism in two of my three classes — and on the day I’d chosen to wear my Catholic Terps shirt. I don’t hide my Catholicism, but it’s not usually so obvious. We’re reading Puritan literature, so we had to discuss Puritan theology, which inevitably led to a discussion of what exactly they were trying to purify. In Shakespeare discussion, we were still talking about “The Merchant of Venice” a little, which is Christian versus Jew in a time of Catholic versus Protestant. I may have offended the guy sitting next to me by briefly mentioning Messianic Jews. We were talking about how Jewish converts to Christianity were seen at the time. People were known by religion, so even if a Jew converted, he or she was still seen as a Jew. My (white) TA said, “It’s like if I said I was converting to black,” at which point I cracked up. I think I was the only black person in the room, as well as the one with her religion plastered across her shirt, so that was awkward. At lunch, Hana asked me about Confession, and we had a lovely conversation. I shared my Confession cheat card with her; she liked the Act of Contrition a lot. (I know, “Confession” and “cheat” don’t usually go together in a good way, but when I’m trying to remember what I need to confess, sometimes I lose parts of the Act of Contrition. It helps me remember.)
After lunch, I went shopping with Sara and Rebecca. We went to Target, where they left me looking at cards while they went around. They found me in the exact same place about twenty minutes later. Picking out birthday cards takes a while! Rebecca got gravel for her fish in Petsmart, then we wandered around CDepot. Not finding anything they wanted there, Sara drove down to CD Game Exchange, where we spent a good half hour looking at the super-cheap CDs. I bought Anna Nalick and Casting Crowns beautifully used for a dollar each. Sara got a bunch of random fifteen-cent CDs. And none of us got charged sales tax, which I’m not sure is completely legal. We assembled people for group dinner afterward, then I opted out of Curious George to tackle “Henry the Fourth, Part One.” I gave up after a few hours and went to bed early.
I got up pretty early this morning. Maura hadn’t even left for UMRO yet. I had breakfast by myself, but I hadn’t properly had breakfast in a while, so I was good with my Diner pancakes. I dove back into Shakespeare for about four hours until I came down (from my top bunk) to recruit for dinner. Sara and Rebecca weren’t on, so I half-wondered if Caroline was on fire, but they were just holed in together. We still had about eight people. I finished the play when I got back, but it was so dry, I couldn’t bear to keep pondering it for the short essay quiz I have to do. I am such crap at studying lately. I’m still waiting for my mental breakdown.
Here’s hoping there are no kind-of-endangered birds in the Chapel tomorrow.