Friday, April 28, 2006

*insert the Indiana Jones Theme here*

Someone's voicemail message just blessed me.

I am very wierded out by this. If I was, you know, a real nun making real, nunly type phone calls, I probably wouldn't be wierded out by it. But I was calling a vendor to ensure that an order had been placed.


In my world, y'see, people don't just randomly say "God bless you", unless you sneeze. Actually, even I say "Gestheundheit", but I'm part German (I think the actual part of me that's German are my knuckles, but that's not the point).

The question this blessing voicemail brings to my mind is, "Which God? Do I want your God blessing me? What if your God leaves sticky fingerprints all over my soul? Ew, yucky!"

See, this is why I'm not a theologian. All my thought processes come down to Windex and Pine-Sol.

One of my buddies at church is the kind of person who will randomly drop in the middle of a conversation, "Dude, I LOVE Jesus!" I've learned to love Church!Buddy's little exclamations, because they are just a symptom of a deep, passionate faith.

It's hysterical, though, watching Church!Buddy do this in the middle of a conversation involving a group of middle class semi-secularists, the kind who show up on Sundays and go to the Silent Auction, but aren't interested in Bible Studies or committee meetings. The entire conversation falters for a second, because they're not really sure how to respond to that.

'Course, the first couple of times Church!Buddy pulled that on me, I was utterly confounded, too. Sometimes my faith can be passionate, and it's got some deep places, but I don't go around telling people about it! Then people would people will know I'm a Christian!

I think I know a little about how Jeremiah and Ezekiel felt, though. They got personal visits from God to give them words to say. And their words were a heckuvalot more immediately dangerous than "Christ is risen, Alleluia!", they were sent to tell happy, middle-class semi-secularists that their world would be crashing down around their ears.

The message of "Christ is Risen!", though, is just as dangerous to the stability of our society as Jeremiah's prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem. For all our leaders bluster on, this is not a Christian nation, it's been built by exploiting and oppressing people of all races, genders, creeds, orientations, nations of residency, and credit scores. As I heard preached recently,

If you read your Bible, you can see clearly on whose side God has always played; here's a hint: it's not the wealthy and the powerful.

So, where does the voicemail message fit into all of this? Is it a misguided attempt to align oneself with the ruling powers pretending to speak in the Name of Jesus? Is it a conviction against my soul, to get me to speak louder about my own faith, to preach the Good News of a risen Christ who can forgive sins? Is it a sincere prayer on behalf of the messagemaker, which I should accept with gratitude?

Could it be all of these things, plus the fact that it's a long, slow Friday at work and I'm on the phone right now with a company that has the Indiana Jones Theme as their hold music?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Just 'cause you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

If you're not reading The Witness, you really should. If you don't want to read all of The Witness, just read this article by Daniel J. Webster.

Some telling quotes from the article:
Many believe a schism in the Episcopal Church USA and the worldwide Anglican Communion is inevitable after this summer. If it does occur it will not be about homosexuality or Gene Robinson or the blessing of same-sex unions. It will have been planned, plotted and engineered by the IRD and its very rich, ultraconservative henchmen (some women, but mostly men) who have targeted the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), the United Methodist Church (UMC) and the Episcopal Church for nearly 25 years.
The IRD is open about its agenda. Visit; there for the world to see, without apology, is a clear strategy to foment disorder in the three mainline churches. On its home page are dropdown menus listing the action plan against the three mainline churches.
[IRD] financially supports these small groups to wage conflict internally in their denominations. Episcopalians know of the American Anglican Council (AAC). It was created by the IRD, with whom the AAC shared offices for a number of years. Swecker's book also documents how the IRD shared board members and financial backing with ultraconservative dissident church groups, including the AAC, in the three targeted denominations. Another article digs further to illustrate how IRD board members have influenced, had access to, or ties with government agencies and the current presidential administration.

I've been a member of two denominations targeted by this group. I know firsthand the pain, suffering, and dissent they foster. I have lost friends and even family to this. They have turned millions from following Jesus to following human leaders.

I don't get it. Can people really be that corrupted by power that they want more and more and more until everyone is ruined and they alone are left standing on a pile of broken and bleeding spirits?

Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A (Fictional?) Conversation With God

Got a pen and paper handy? This is going to be a long list.

Go for it.

Okay. I want to get rid of Mondays, first thing. I want to get rid of the cottony feeling in my brain that takes half of Monday to shake off, and everyone wondering why their overnight package hasn't gotten here yet, even though they had me order it at 4pm on Friday. Got that?

Keep going.

I want more space in my life for myself. I want more time to pray. I want more of my spaces to be sacred, to draw me to You. I want my food to be healthy and organic, so I can help conserve the Earth. And I want companies to be sensitive to the Earth, too!

Is that it?

Heck no! I want my money to be used wisely, when I go to the store or the movies. I want it to be used wisely by my parish and other charitable organizations. I want it to be used wisely by the Government, to help people. I want to help people, too, I want to have more time to volunteer. I want to watch less TV and I want to write more and I want chocolate. Lots of chocolate.


I think that's it.

You sure?

Well, yeah. Oh! Actually, can You add one last thing?


I also want a million dollars, world peace, and a puppy.

Okay. *tears list out of notebook* Better go get started, then. This is a long list.

I thought You were going to take care of it?

Well, of course, I'll help, but most of these are things you've gotta do yourself.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Ew, yuck, GROSS!

A friend and I tried out another church here in town for fun today.
It was not our style.
However, the capper was the bread used for the Eucharist.

It was raw.

Like, the outside was cooked, but the inside was dough.

I really wish I was making this up.

Edit:Now I've spent most of the afternoon pondering the theological implications of using raw dough for the Eucharist. Of course, some of the more hardcore will say it wasn't Eucharist, because it was dusted with semolina and used olive oil, but dear God, it was RAW in the MIDDLE!

I want to blame it on the fact that they were hosting the Diocesan Middle School Conference, but the music was all from the 70s, and the melodies were too difficult for people who were new walking in off the street to pick up right away (mind you, Friend and I are both trained singers with sight-reading capabilities, and we were messing it up). The usual members, too, were all older than Friend and I, and the church was near a really large college. But I can see why the kids from the college probably don't come here; no one talked to Friend and I, not a single person. Okay, the priest said "Hi, thanks for coming," but he said it in the same way as flight attendants. During the announcements, they spoke of so many great outreaches, but they spoke of the people as "poor, less fortunate, them". It felt like the kind of church where you were expected to have everything worked out, and really shouldn't ask questions.

And dude, the bread was RAW!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Seven Deadly Topics #3 --- Sexual Orientation: Celibate

Feast of Ss. Soter and Caius, Bishops and Martyrs.

So, I've got a lot of things I should be doing, but instead I'm going to throw down here in the Blogosphere. Because I am very, very angry.

Why, in the name of all the saints in heaven and on earth, is it so wrong for a person in this society to NOT be having sex? Yes, I'm asking this in all seriousness.

We've got these giant battles going on in our Church today about the 'sexual orientation' of our leaders. Quite frankly, in my mind, what people who aren't me are doing with their clothes off is none of my damn business, and honest to God, I really don't want to make it any of my damn business. I've got more important things to worry about (like, oh, the Vestry minutes I'm two weeks late with typing up, and my laundry, and finding a teaching gig for next year...)

However, have you noticed something about all this 'sexual orientation' talk? It has an underlying assumption that I think this culture has buried so deep that it's now our collective subconcious.

By claiming a sexual orientation, the assumption is that you're having sex.

No, really. Think about it. The best example is the Roman Catholics, who, in theory, have that other option that people rarely talk about, celibacy. Their priests are all supposed to be celibate, no sex at all, at all. But now they're dividing them into two camps: homo-sexual and hetero-sexual.

Waitaminute, if you're never, no never, no never going to have sex 'cause you promised your bishop, your mother, and your God that you wouldn't, what, in the Name of all that's Good and Holy, does it matter if someone says you're hetero-sexual or homo-sexual?

(And don't you be thinking that if, by some wild and completely random chance I ever come into the presence of the Pope, I'm not going to open with that. If he's really lucky, I might say "Hello, Your Holiness" first.)

So, we've outlined the playing field: hetero-sexual or homo-sexual. That's the extent of the spectrum in our dualistic society; any freak who says they're somewhere between the black and the white (bi-sexual) is just a slut.

These options suck.

And the fact that I don't spend a good portion of my time 1) searching for someone to have sex with and/or 2) whining because I'm not having sex, that makes me the freak of nature! Because, dear God, we can't imagine a human being out there who isn't an unbridled lustmonkey acting out on their hormones. That's umpossible! The teevee and the novels and the glossy magazines that do nothing but talk about the sex lives of famous people tell us so!

But please, please, please, for the love of God, can we try to imagine this person, who isn't ruled by hormones and the media? And not imagine them as someone who's so afraid of an Angry God what's got a lightning bolt with their name on it that they can't let themselves enjoy life, even a little? Can we imagine this person, this example, and use them to explain to the children growing up in a society where sex is used to sell chewing gum and lettuce that there is another option?

Can we, for once, admit that yeah, sex is nice, but it's not the only thing in this wide, wonderful world of ours?

Pretty please?
With sugar on top?

The original Seven Deadly Christian Blog Topics post (with links to the others in this series) can be found here.

Friday, April 21, 2006


I fall down a lot.

No, this isn't a metaphor for my spiritual life. I'll be walking along a newly cured, laser-leveled piece of concrete and wham! I'll be on the ground. Yes, that actually happened to me my first go-round in college.

Fr. Father says it started back when I was in utero. He'd be walking with Mtr. Mother and talking to her, then suddenly realise she wasn't there anymore. He'd turn around and she'd be on the ground, laughing.

I laugh when I fall down, too. What else am I supposed to do? I look absolutely silly when I fall down. Often I flail wildly, in the vain hope that I can catch my balance, whatever I'm carrying goes flying in all directions, and then I curl up and try to take the shock as best I can. Except, even after several years of aikido, I still have a tendency to throw my hands out. The orders when I was a child were always, "Save your face!"

Which, of course, means that when I fell yesterday, I twisted my hips so I'd fall on my bottom, but didn't torque my upper body enough, so I slammmed down on one hand. And totally wrenched my back. It's not debilitating, but it's letting me know exactly how interconnected my musculature is; every time I move, my back sends a little reminder of my fall to my brain.

I could very easily turn this into a metaphor for sin. If you wanna, go right ahead, I'm going to go and try and find some ibuprofin or something. Ow.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Here, fishy fishy fishy...

Just imagine me at about six years old, lower lip sticking out so far I'm about to trip on it, eyes narrowed, arms folded across my chest.

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I am NOT going to do it.
No, I don't wanna!
You're not the Boss of me.

That's right, I'm arguing with God. Again. Actually, it's the same old argument, but this time He's quite insistent, and isn't taking "don'wanna!" for an answer.

And it's for no good reason other than plain ol' fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear that I really did waste the last five years of my life doing 'the wrong thing'. Fear that this is going to change how people think about me. Fear I won't do it right. Fear that I'm not the right person, that I might have gotten the message wrong.

Fear of what my mother is going to say. Oy.

I live in a city bisected by two major rivers. I keep looking over the bridges when I cross them, keeping an eye out for whales.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Guess what guess what guess what!

Christ is Risen!


*is exhausted*

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Little bundles of random possibilities

"That's impossible!"
"So's a baby," Lazarus said.

---Robert A. Heinlein, Methuselah's Children

I would like to introduce everyone to Pico.

Pico, this is everyone.

Pico is my brand spankin' new object du spoiling. Although his momma takes no nonsense from no one, and she won't let me spoil him too much.

But I'm going to try my damndest. And as his momma and daddy I have been partners in crime before, I think that Pico and I, working together, will be able to outsmart her at least once in a while.

I'm a little delirious.
Pardon me.
My best friend just had a baby.

'Course, Pico, it's all downhill from here. You're going to meet people who hate you just because of the way you were born, because of the color of your skin, because of the location on the globe where you were born, because of the way you talk and act and dress...

I'm going to do my damndest to help you understand the third most important thing you can learn on this fragile Earth, our island home. You can't make everyone happy.

And here's the second most important thing you can learn here: It's okay not to make everyone happy.

Finally, the ultimate thing that you will learn here, and your momma and daddy and brother, aunties and uncles and teacher and neighbors and even I'm going to teach you this lesson, Pico-poquito, mi corazon, mi amor.

No matter who you are and what you do in this world, there are people who love you.

Welcome to the planet, little dude.

Monday, April 10, 2006

An Episcopalian Donkey

Deacon Chata was up to bat for the sermon yesterday, and we had a little giggle at her expense, 'cause she totally lost her notes and was wandering around the altar area looking for them.

Then she got up on the pulpit and went for it, extemporaneously.

I have to confess, I rarely remember anything at all from the sermon (beyond the fact that we had one). But I remember this little bit, it was a total tangent in the middle of the sermon.

That donkey must have been an Episcopalian. He'd been eating the same food year after year. Walking the same paths over and over again. Always in the same field.

You know, writing it down, now it seems flat and I really don't know why I wanted to tell you this. Oh well, let the reader understand (whatever it is the reader wants to understand).

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Last Sunday, I was complaining. "Aw, it's still purple. I hate purple. Lent is taking FOREVER!"

Today, we cleaned A Certain Church. And everything at the altar was red.

And I says to myself, I says, "NO! It can't be Easter yet! I'm not ready yet! I haven't done enough! Can we wait another week?"

One more week.
I'll be ready then.
Really, I promise!

I'll have my house in order. I'll have prayed, I'll have done charitable acts, I'll be ready to welcome God's Annointed, the Messiah. I'm not ready yet!

I ran about with other parishoners, cleaning madly. Clucking over gum in the pews, crayon marks, scuff marks, scrubbing at windows, hauling out ladders to get the high corners (and freaking out as the music director climbed a ladder with a shop vac to get the dust off of the rafters over the altar). We counted hymnals and prayerbooks and debated what to do with the ratty paperback Bibles in the racks and how exactly to repair the cracked pews up front.

It's an old parish with not much in the way of financial gifts. At one point, we had to give up, say "That's as good as we can get it."

It makes me sad, and it annoys my perfectionist streak. We must have everything perfect! Get palm branches! Throw your coats on the floor so the King doesn't have to walk on regular ol' dirt!

I wonder who wasn't at the parade, though. I wonder who was in their houses, cleaning furiously. Who missed out because they didn't feel they were good enough, to soil the King with their presence. I wonder what they missed.

I wonder what I'll miss, if I keep trying to be the perfect one.

Lift up your heads, O you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of Glory may come in.

Psalm 24:7

Friday, April 07, 2006

Consider this the slip, it brought me to my knees

I really doubt that anyone who stumbles across this blog can't come up with a list of people or intentions to pray for. And with Holy Week coming up for some of us, there are going to be plenty of time for reflection and prayer offered by our churches that we should take advantage of (in theory, I'll be participating in a lot of them, but we'll see how work and the flu season monopolize my time). Anyway, I saw this idea on a bulletin board I frequent, and thought I'd compile my own list. Feel free to help me add to it in the comments section.

The List of Things To Pray For (When You Don't Have Anything to Pray For) In No Particular Order

  • Clergy, religious, and ministers

  • Teachers and educators

  • Christian Unity, peace and healing between factions

  • Those suffering from depression and other mental illnesses

  • Government leaders and officials

  • Children growing up without their basic needs being met

  • Those entering the Church this Easter through confirmation and baptisim, those entering the Church this Easter for their only service until Christmas

  • Those who have been killed in military operations and their grieving families

  • Those who are lonely

  • Peace in our minds, peace in our hearts, peace in our lives, peace in our world

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Must be the clouds in my eyes

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So, last night I scared my comic shop guy.

Wednesday is Tacos and Comics night, you see, because the new issues come out on Wednesdays and the taqueria is just down the block from the comic shop.

For the record, I do not read 'graphic novels'. I read comic books. I read ones with Spider-Man and Batgirl and Superboy and Wonder Girl and other characters with ridiculous physiques, spandex, and cartoonish artwork.

I also gleefully chat with the guys who work there (who are not at all the stereotypical creepy comic book guys, but very cool) about all things comics, and sometimes about all things Joss Whedon.

Last night was a Whedon night. Whee. Myself and the store owner (yeah, we're on a first name basis) were chattering happily about Firefly. And a fire truck goes roaring by, sirens full-blast.

Next thing I know, Store Owner was looking at me funny. "I didn't know you were Catholic," he says.

Whoops. Crossed myself once, and now my cover was blown. The conversation now was going to be like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books. "Episcopalian, actually," I said.

If the Store Owner says, "What's an Episcopalian?" turn to page 4.
If the Store Owner says, "I used to be Catholic," turn to page 5.
If the Store Owner says, "I thought Christians weren't supposed to read comic books," turn to page 6.

I'm so terribly annoyed when this happens. There I am, bopping along merrily, doing my thing, and someone realises, "Oh my Gawsh, she goes to CHURCH!" and suddenly, their perception of me is changed, and rarely for the better. They judge me based on what they think a Christian should be, and not on how I've acted to this point ("She won't like to read the new Fell comic, it's got dismembered bodies and Christians hate gratutious violence even if the moral of the story is about redemption in the face of great opposition.")

Then, late at night, after the tacos are but a greasy memory and the comics have been pored through, I wonder: why didn't they already know I was a Christian? It's a major part of my identity, possibly the major part of who I am as a human. A lot of Christians of a certain mindset like to throw around this quote by St. Francis,
Preach the Gospel at all times. When neccessary, use words.

I think, just maybe, I'm not using my words enough.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Hiding and Seeking

Hiding and Seeking: Faith and Tolerance After the Holocaust was recommended by the Velveteen Rabbi a week or so ago. Being the good little Netflixer with a fascination not only with extremisim but also with Orthodox Judaisim, I popped it to the top of my queue and watched it yesterday.

The plot is this: An Orthodox Jew living in Brooklyn (Menachem Daun) is worried that his sons are cutting themselves and their children off from the non-Jewish world because they see it as nothing more but evil. So he flies down to Jerusalem and confronts them. They admit that, yeah, it's a good idea to split themselves from non-Jews, because non-Jews are always-- ALWAYS! the instigators of bad things. Menachem says, "Fine. We're going to Poland to see if we can find the people who sheltered your great-grandfather and great-uncle and grandfather from the Nazis, and you're going to look them in the face."

At one point, the sons are talking to their grandfather, the one who was sheltered in Poland. They asked him if he would do the same, shelter someone at the risk of his own life. "No," he says. "It's too dangerous." The looks on his grandchildren's faces are simple incomprehension.

I was hoping that writing this down would help me clear up some of the whirling thoughts brought up by this movie. It hasn't. At the end of the film, one of the sons grudgingly admits that not all goyim are bad, but he adds the caveat that they are the exception to the rule. I know, from personal experience, that this can sometimes be the spark that leads to a complete conversion, to trying to be a flickering little light to all nations. I've also seen this spark extinguished by return to an insulated, homogenized community where the prevailing opinion is one of complete isolation.

This isn't a problem just with Orthodox Jews building themselves a ghetto. This happens to Christians, too. Forward in Faith and Tridentine Rite Mass people are the first that come to mind, but there are also liberal ghettos, places where they demand that women and homosexuals serve the altar and dismiss anyone who would say otherwise as 'unChristian'. Brick by brick, this society is encouraging us to build walls between ourselves and other people.

I don't know what to do about it.
That's not true.
I can tear down my walls a little bit at a time (it's tough, I built them of very strong stuff).

But I cannot change everyone's world. And it's not my place, it's not my right, to try and forcibly knock their walls down. I've got to worry about mine own ghetto, first.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Sr. Sister just got the news from the Scions of Walt. She's been accepted into the Management Internship Program, which means she's moving all the way across the country.

It also means she has a castmember discount which can be extended to family members.

I'm going to Disney World!

Monday, April 03, 2006

This is Not a Christian Nation

I know I'm going to burst some people's bubbles, but it's true. No matter how many times you say it, the United States is not a Christian nation. Yes, there's the Pilgrim angle, and there is anecdotal evidence to the effect that a good number of the Founding Mothers and Fathers were X brand of Christian. However, there's also Pennsylvania, built to be a stronghold of religious freedom, and the vast amount of writing by various Founding Fathers espousing deisim, which can also be called God as Clockmakerisim.

Okay, so you want to skip the Founding Mothers and Fathers argument. Fine. You say that because there are lots of people running around this country calling themselves Christians and getting elected to higher office, that that makes this a Christian nation.

Nope, sorry.

What would make this a Christian nation?

When 15% of Americans didn't go hungry every night and 58% weren't overweight.

When the mentally ill had readily available and accessible shelter, healthcare, and counseling outside of the prison system.

When our elders and youngsters didn't have to worry about getting sick and affording their prescriptions, let alone a trip to the doctor, because they don't have any insurance at all.

When every child born can be assured of a loving, caring, safe home; whether it's with their biological parents or with adoptive parents, and abortion is therefore obsolete.

When we do not hire 'professionals' to care for our elders and dying.

When we cannot guess the path a child's life will take simply because of their economic status.

When we do not have the children of immigrants standing up in Congress and demanding that we block the borders and deny those immigrants (who are now our neighbors) access to the basics of life simply because they came here to try and better theirs, because they came here to do jobs that we don't want to do ourselves because they're too dirty, too boring, too dangerous, then, just maybe, we'll be on our way to being a Christian nation.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I don't understand humans, and I believe in a merciful and loving God

Picture me, an overachiever, a little fat girl in her third year of college, not yet able to purchase alcohol legally but two courses away from a Bachelor's degree in Social Science (which is what happens when you study languages, history, political science, economics, psychology, and geography).

Watch me read ninety-seven books and forty-three journal articles on the genocides in Rwanda, Rhodesia, and Yugoslavia, along with the (edited) transcripts of the Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, which was tasked in letting victims of apartheid, both black and white, speak of the horrors they'd seen.

Twice that semester, I put down my reading, got off my comfy couch (the same couch that had been in my parents' house for ten years previous, the couch that screamed comfort and home to a child far from those related by blood), and went to the bathroom to throw up.

I wrote a forty-page thesis comparing the post-regime retaliations of the four countries, and attempted to explain how South Africa, while it had its violence, did not devolve into mass slaughter due to the work of the Reconciliation Commission. My African History teacher, one of my advisors on the project, thought it was so compelling that he offered to help me edit and prepare it for publication, which as we all know is the first step to a career in research and higher education.

I declined. Despite the fact my career goals at that time were for tenure, I coundn't bear to spend more thought on such horrors.

(Sometime in that time frame, I'm not sure if it was before, during, or after, a compatriot and I came to the conclusion that no serious student of history could come out of their studies without a severe case of pacifisim. More on that later.)

Archbishop Desmond Tutu paid a visit to my cow college a scant seven weeks after my thesis was turned in. My little college in the middle of nowhere had many illustrious guests; during my tenure +Tutu was one of five Nobel Peace Prize winners to speak in our 940 seat auditorium. +Tutu was a small creature, no more than six inches tall, in cassock and purple sash from where I sat in the cheap-ish student price seats.

I don't remember much of the Archbishop's lecture. I have a nortoriously bad memory (which is one of the reasons I blog). I do remember one bit specifically. Someone from the audience, someone who wasn't me, I didn't have the guts, asked during the Q&A session about how +Tutu would approach race relations in the United States. I can quote the first part of his reply by memory:

When people came from other countries to South Africa to give us advice on how to better understand our situation, I hated it. Because who knew better our situation than those of us who'd been living it?

Then, he paused for effect, and I swear, from the Cheap Seats, I saw a twinke in his eye...

And now, having said that...

He clutched his tummy, stomped his feet, and danced (danced! he was stomping!) across the stage, laughing at his own joke.

I had read what he had to sit and listen to, stories that still wake me up in the night in sweating nightmares. He'd seen these people, listened to the instigators, conspirators, and victims from across a table. How many he gave the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I cannot imagine. That doesn't figure into history texts.

The little man who danced across the stage, doubled over in laugher, is oft reported as a somber, ecclisastical figure in several of those ninety-seven books and forty-three journal articles.

I've seen different. I've seen that we can, no matter what horrors we've been through, no matter what we've seen or heard about the horrors of other's lives, we can still have great joy.

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people in all the earth.