May 2003 Archives

I'm going to pick up my last make-up final exam. I have been studying all week, but the volume of material is just so much. I will do badly. The whole affair may simply be an exercise in futility. Frankly, at this point I just don't care. I'm tired, I'm spent, and I'm at the end of my motivational ability. This illness, trying to cram 4 1/2 weeks of work in four classes into two 1/2 weeks of make-up exams has left me apathetic. In the grand scheme of things, I don't care whether I fail this exam or not. I've enjoyed studying for it and I've learned a lot, just not the kind of stuff needed to effectively reproduce on an exam.

I still have three papers to write. Writing is different, however, and I won't mind do it. Exam taking, especially when there are 20 pages of stuff to memorize (and that is the reduction and compilation of the semesters worth of material). Writing, okay, exam taking - I'm over it.

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I'm still on this gay vs. ex-gay thing. These are all just thoughts. I'm not making declarative statements!

So, this morning I was thinking about how many gay prohibitionists (not prohibitionists who might be homosexual in orientation, but those who campaign against homosexuality - as in, "we want to prohibit any positive expression of homosexuality for purposes of ending homosexuality and exposing it for what it truly is: evil and destructive to all that is good and godly. And, to send a message of hope to the poor homosexuals that they can be free to change into heterosexuals through our exclusive theological perspective of God's will, which of course IS God's will.) still demand that the public (and government) accept the notion that homosexuality is a chosen element in a person's life, whether that element might be defined by behavior or sexual/emotional attraction. Along side of this, as I was thinking, is the comparison of having a homosexual orientation with being of a racial group other than Caucasian in the fight for civil-rights and equal protection under the law.

Many African-Americans are up in arms because gay-rights leaders compare the fight for homosexual equal protection with the fight for minority (black) civil-rights in the 1960's. For these African-Americans, having dark skin is genetic and something that cannot be changed (except for M.J.), but being homosexual is not genetic (of course, not proven) and therefore a choice, so then to compare the two as being the same in the fight for civil-rights/equal protection is an outrage. By the way, why not just call the campaign for gay equality just that, campaigning for "equal protection under the law," rather than "civil-rights," which is a word with such cultural connotations to the just fight for black civil-rights in the '60's that using the term causes much unneeded tension and animosity. It may be semantics, but powerful emotions are in play.

The equivalent can be expressed in behavior, however. Just like there are many black-stereotypes that still exist in this country (blacks like fried-chicken and watermelons, they are fat and lazy, the women let the men abuse them, they don't know how to speak English, they are all druggies or at least drug dealers, etc.), there are also gay-stereotypes that abound (gays are sex-crazed and have hundreds of sexual encounters, they are irresponsible and selfish, they are much more wealthy than the average person, they are drug-addicted and alcoholics, they are pedophiles and never have lasting relationships, they want to destroy the American way of life, etc.). Of course, there is nothing wrong with liking fried-chicken and making a lot of money, but all the above ARE choices, based on behavior. If an African-American stopped engaging in all the stereotypic "black" behaviors and acted just like a stereotypic Caucasian or Asian or Hispanic person, he or she would not stop being "black." His or her behavior would just be mimicking white or Asian or Hispanic behaviors. Likewise, if a homosexual stopped engaging in all of the stereotypic "gay" behaviors and acted just like a heterosexual, he or she would not stop being "homosexual." His or her behaviors would just be mimicking heterosexual behaviors. Behaviors do not determine the innate make up of a person. Behaviors are a choice. It is true that repeated behaviors can become habits that seem at times impossible to break, but a person's innate make up is not a choice. In terms of equal protection under the law, whether one is gay or one is black, that person should be treated equally.

As has been written many time before, gay prohibitionists have to cling to the choice angel, else their anti-gay agenda won't fly - the public is too caught up on fairness for those who cannot help their internal make up by choice. In this case, if homosexuality as sexual/emotional attraction is truly not the choice of the individual, then it is comparable with other non-chosen elements of personal life. If homosexuality is to be defined strictly by behavior, thus chosen, then it is much easier to deny homosexuals equal treatment in society because, then, all homosexuals have to do is stop the behavior and all will be well again.

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In Andrew Sullivan's website, in the "Letters" section, there is the following letter from the respondent:

END TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH:
I think Mr. Ponnuru is "misunderstanding" social conservatives badly. I have lived in Montgomery, AL, most of my life; it isn't called "The Buckle of the Bible Belt" for nothing. I suspect I know more social conservatives than Mr.Ponnuru, and they will happily abandon Mr. Bush if he doesn't show he is on their side. You see, most of them are convinced we are living in the "end times," the prelude to Armageddon. This has led them to the conclusion that they are in a no-lose situation: if they can elect a candidate with their beliefs, then the world will become less bad, but if they don't, and things become worse and more sinful, then this will bring about the Second Coming faster.

Example: In the governor's race of 1998, their candidate, Fob James, lost to Don Siegelman. As I was watching the coverage, it showed the head of the Alabama Christian Coalition and his wife (the names escape me), and her comment was "Well, if Don Siegelman wins with his immoral agenda things will just get bad enough so Jesus will come back." They actually believe this! Of course it's profoundly unscriptural; Jesus Himself said even He didn't know when He would return; only God did. Cal Thomas was also articulating this theme a few years ago, telling Christians to stay out of corrupting politics and let the chips fall where they may."

If those of the Christian Religious Right are looking expectantly for the second coming of Christ as their vindication, they should take the prophetic admonishment of Amos to heart. I'm studying for my OT final and am reading Amos. Amos 5:18-20 deals with the expectation of the inhabitants of Israel, the northern kingdom, the Israelites, as piously expecting to be vindicated against their enemies at the "day of the Lord," but in reality it will be a very dark day for them because of their own injustice and sin - their own self-righteousness. The day of the Lord will not be their vindication, but their humiliation and destruction, unless they turn back to the Lord. How familiar when applied to the attitudes coming from the politically motivated members of the Religious Right! They, too, should be expectant not of vindication when the Lord returns, but of chastisement and possibly being "left behind" at the Rapture (according to their eschatology). Why? Well, basically, because of their self-righteous judgementalism (read Romans chapter 1:18 through chapter 2). Those of us who think we are "the bomb" before God, will quickly discover we are not when God's views are made apparent in a undeniable way! Take heed of Amos' prophetic announcement, which is as relevant today as it was in 750 B.C.

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I have been reading the posts from the blog Ex-Gay Watch and following the links. One proposition still strikes me as odd surrounding the whole gay/ex-gay/gay-rights argument - a common thought among many, I'm sure, but nonetheless odd. Why do the anti-gay prohibitionists continue to relate homosexuality to nothing but behavior? At this point in the debate it just doesn't wash, and the anti-gay folks are simply hurting their own position in the long run by using it. The continued use of the argument may play well to those who are ignorant (in a kind way – simply unknowing) of the whole dynamic of homosexuality, but that ignorance is falling by the wayside. Even sincere ex-gay ministries will not suggest that same-sex attraction (emotionally and physically) is a choice. Besides, it is counter to the Christian ethic to continue to use an argument that one knows to be wrong and manipulative, despite the ends trying to be achieved.

Whether the viewpoint comes from an African-American Christian man who finds it completely offensive that gay-rights people couch their advocacy along the lines of civil-rights, or from a fundamentalist white mom who believes cereal commercials are advocating the gay-agenda and wonders whether to allow her children to watch TV (true!), to the guy who just doesn't care, the determined definition of a homosexual by what is done behaviorally is ludicrous. By definition, if sexual orientation is defined exclusively by behavior, and since they suggest that a celibate homosexual is no longer a homosexual (no behavior), then is it also true that a celibate heterosexual is no longer heterosexual? I know, I know.

It is politically expedient and very neat ideologically and theologically to demand that those who claim to be gay are homosexual only because of what they do. It is a decision freely entered into by the homosexual. That way, the argument of deviancy is much easier to make. Gays should not be granted civil-rights protections, they should not be allowed to marry, and they should not be allowed to be visible because their deviancy (freely chosen behavior) is a cancer on society.

It is obvious, don't you think, to anyone wanting to know truth that a homosexual is one not because of a choice to simply engage in a behavior, but because of the same internal dynamic experienced by those who are attracted to the opposite sex. Well, okay, it isn't so obvious to many, and it depends on whether there is a desire to know truth. Behavior just does not cut the mustard. The prohibitionists are defeated if they continue down this road. But, they have God on their side, right?

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Interesting article by David Horowitz concerning the political Religious Right. Click here for the article. Not all conservatives are like those who yell the loudest and who seem to be the most insecure in their agendas and beliefs.

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Something is going on somewhere. The police cars, marked and unmarked - two at a time - keep coming up 10th going uptown. I suspect they may be traveling up 9th, 8th, 11th, etc., but have know way of knowing other than I hear sirens with no visible cars. Something on the west side, I gather.

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There is a fifth - two unmarked cars. Here comes a sixth!

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There are lots of police cars going by all of a sudden. Four have gone by, and an emergency rescue squad has just passed. I wonder what is going on? Traveling north on Tenth Ave.

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"Godç—´ righteousness became all the more apparent when sin was revealed in the Law!" - From NT2 notes coving Romans

This is in the most current newsletter from St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Akron, OH., my sponsoring parish. It is nothing really profound about it, but the list of topics George Murphy is present during a summer adult education class on church-state issues.

Here are the topics:

- Religion and the state in the Bible
- Natural law and the Ten Commandments
- What is "an establishment of religion?"
- The Church's use of force
- Religion in the public schools
- Were the founding fathers Christian?
- Luther's "two kingdoms" concept
- Separation of church and state
- "Don't preach about politics."
- In what "God" do we "trust?"
- Revolution - 1776 and others
- Capital punishment
- Who needs government? And, why?

Okay, so ten minutes ago, I called my CPE supervisor and told him, "I will definitely be there on Tuesday," meaning I will be doing CPE this summer. Five minutes ago, I received a call from my doctor saying that I need to follow up with a kidney specialist. Why did I not wait fifteen more minutes to call my CPE supervisor? If I am going to have to continue seeing doctors, then it really doesn't make sense to try to do CPE. A full-time hospital chaplain internship, including on-call duties, does not make sense if I am having to make appointments every other week.

Besides, I had this definite pang of disappointment after hanging up with my supervisor. The opportunities for the summer where out there for the taking, and I decided to cast them aside. Well, this just does make sense - if the major medical stuff would be over, then maybe, but even though I do not feel sick any longer, the kidney stuff, and the MAC stuff, and any other thing they may yet discover, in conjunction with doctor visits and procedures suggests for hassles then it is worth. So, I call and cancel my CPE experience - maybe. I can't just leave during the day during CPE, like I could simply taking classes.

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There are three production companies doing shoots on the Close today. On our way for coffee this morning, we unexpectedly ran into a Brooks Brothers photo shoot right outside the Refectory. It is always fun to see photo and video production going on.

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It is getting very hard to motivate myself to study, especially when everyone else is done.

This CPE decision is becoming very difficult. Do I, or do I not? Permission, a gift given as Roy said, to take the summer easy should not be thrown away easily. Yet, there is that nagging feeling that the "still small voice" is saying stay in CPE. Of whom is the voice? I would love to take the summer off - perhaps the last time this opportunity will come my way. I hate agonizing over a decision.

I know either way I will be fine. What may be in store either way is what confounds me, and there is no way of knowing what is in store.

Chris e-mailed me and said I should NOT take a trip to the CDC in Atlanta unless it is absolutely necessary. He also said it is never a good thing to be an "interesting case." I believe him.

I just need to get through these final few exams and I will be fine. The papers I have yet to write will be a joy, in comparison to the exams - tough to finish, but no memorization and I am in control of the product. Bed!

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Ashton says, "Hi" to the world - especially to John C.!

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Jason and Nick are now gone. The apartment will feel quite empty with only Roy and I. Of course, if Roy ends up getting the room he requested for next term this summer, it will only be me in this rather large and rambling apartment.

Leighton, Chris, and JR are gone, now. It will be so strange not having them around any longer. They were a fun and colorful bunch. This place will not be the same.

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Here is the latest news concerning ex-gay issues coming out of Focus on the Family's e-mail updates. I would not for a moment advocate that P-Fox should not be allowed to voice their concerns before their elected representatives, but the perspective they present - ex-gay theology with an attempt at clinical/scientific reasonings - is so faulty that while sincerely believed is deceptive and wholly unsubstantiated. It reminds me of how the Mormons advocate to those they are evangelizing that they are orthodox Christian, but with another testament of Jesus Christ. Unbeknownst to the evangelizee, their theology is any thing but orthodox Christian, even though they use the same words. Someone, according to ex-gay ideology, is "healed and changed" when they stop engaging in certain behaviors. "I don't do this and do do this, therefore God has healed me of my homosexuality." Plus, along with behavior change, there is a mindset change. "Even though I still have homosexual desires, I do not call myself homosexual because God created me heterosexual, as He has with every human. I just have to have right belief."

I know that some homosexuals engage in the same kind of mind-bending justifications of what I consider just as harmful arguments and behaviors, they are not lobbying Congress to remove civil rights from a whole group of people. I know according to current and predominate Fundamentalist beliefs that in trying to stop "gay-rights" they are in fact doing God's work and saving our nation. I disagree. If civil rights are denied to one group by those in power, civil rights can be denied any group when not in power. Anyway, P-Fox is lobbying Congress that their perspective needs to be heard and implemented, for the sake of our country, families, and God's way of life. I believe their theological and scientific arguments are severely flawed! I believe that the gay community must take the religious-rights' anti-gay and prohibitionist political work seriously, because if they don't, they will wake up one morning being forced back into the closet with no recourse. Aside from the political, all one has to do is talk to the thousands of people who have left ex-gay ministries to know that something is not right, and it isn't the individual and it isn't God. To the people who are harmed, not because God does a work in their lives, but because of what ex-gay ideology erroneously promises, we have to take the anti-gay prohibitionists seriously!

Here is the news article from Focus on the Family:

"Ex-Gays Lobby on Capitol Hill
By David Brody, Washington, D.C., correspondent

SUMMARY: Group brings message -- "You can change" -- to lawmakers.

People who have left homosexuality went to Washington, D.C., recently to make Congress aware of the harassment they face.

Former homosexuals went to Capitol Hill on Thursday to make their voices heard. The group, which is called Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (P-FOX), said it is about time its message is heard.

"We're here," said Regina Griggs, who heads P-FOX. "We've changed. People can change. Please protect our right to choose."

Griggs said the group believes if there are hate crimes laws to protect homosexuals, there should also be legislation concerning the harassment of ex-gays.

"We are discriminated against," Griggs said. "What part of these laws protects us?"

But the larger point the group is making, is that homosexuality is a choice -- and lawmakers need to hear that message, too.

"People do need to know the truth," Griggs said. "They do not take the time to look for the truth, nor do they ever ask our opinion. If you're going to judge homosexual issues, shouldn't you talk to former homosexuals?"

It's a subject that doesn't receive much attention on Capitol Hill, according to Randy Thomas, a spokesman for Exodus International -- a Christian group dedicated to helping former homosexuals.

"This is a very real, complex issue and there's more to it than what the gay elite is sharing," Thomas said. "The more that former homosexuals speak up, not only do we bring honor to the Lord, we bring the whole discussion to a new level," Thomas said.

The trip to Washington, D.C., is a big first step. Organizers say it's the first time, as a group, that ex-gays have lobbied Congress.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: The P-FOX Web site contains more
http://www.pfox.org/

For more information about people who have come out of homosexuality, we recommend: "Portraits of Freedom," by Bob Davies with Lela Gilbert:
http://www.family.org/resources/itempg.cfm?itemid=2707&refcd=CE03ECZL&tvar=no

(NOTE: Referral to Web sites not produced by Focus on the Family is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family of the sites' content..)"

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Life just continues on in the City.

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GTS graduation ceremonies were today. Very nice! The Dean's Latin had a little to be desired, but everything seemed to run smoothly and the ceremonies were quite nice. The same ceremonial from the mid-1800's.

Today, Chris, Leighton, Ron, Chris & Michael were all up in Hoffman 5. This was the last I will spend time with them. It will be so odd having this group of seniors no longer around. I've grown very fond of the Seabury Heights' guys. We had a great time talking up everything about he seminary, perhaps a bit too much gossiping, and just talking about life. I'm am up way too late. By the grace of God I will be able to sleep in a bit so that I won't be overly tired for studying. I haven't a choice.

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I'm very tired. I'm not sure why. Ashton and I roamed around the east village for quite a while last night. Maybe the extended walking tired me out. It is funny how before my illness I could walked 80-90 blocks (from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine back down to the seminary) and be fine, but now, after my illness, walking very far truly tires me out. I'm going to die when I start running again. Anyway, maybe that is why I am so tired today. I hope so.

Baccalaureate is in a few hours - Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I'm going to miss the seniors a lot - Chris, Leighton, J.R., especially. Dion will be heading back to Ohio. I should have been with him in this year's senior class - we went through the process together. I think it odd to imagine being finished with school and headed for a ministry job if I had completed this whole process as I should have. Now, I find myself in a position where I may have to do things differently once again. I have always traveled my own road, not intentionally, though. It just seems like I end up doing things differently than everyone else. It may be that way again if I don't start CPE in a couple weeks. I will experiencing everything differently, once again. As Roy says, I have no idea what the future will hold!

Back to the seniors - though I have not been able to spend as much time with them as I would have liked, being sick for 6 weeks does that, (I never did make it up to David and Richard's for the Sunday night Six Feet Under get-together) the seminary will not seem the same. That undercurrent of Anglo-Catholicism that runs throughout the seminary ("current and future deans take note"), will now be left up to others, possibly myself included. Claire will be at St. Mary's the Virgin. I don't remember who will be at St. Ignatius. John will be at St. Thomas. I don't know who will be at St. John's in the Village. Maybe I will end up at St. Paul's, Carroll St. in Brooklyn. Different than Ascension. I'm not at all discouraged by not being accepted for field placement at Ascension. It will be a great place for Tim, and for some reason I am drawn to St. Paul's. Lord, your will be done - for CPE and for field placement!

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I do not want to

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I do not want to study today! I have to. Too many exams coming up. Next week, my make-up mid-term for NT and final for OT. Today is Baccalaureate and Desmond Tutu is speaking. Roy gave me one of his tickets to the chapel, so I can see him speak in person rather than on a video screen in the overflow room. I saw his speak at Oberlin for commencement one year Amy Burrows was still working there. I think it was before Apartheid fell. I just don't want to study!

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As Roy said, there is wisdom in numbers. Alon (the GTS Chaplain) has asked me several times whether I thought CPE this summer (which begins in two weeks) was a good idea. She is supportive of whatever I decide as long as it is a thoughtful decision. Today, however, Bill Doubleday talk with me and he suggested I consider postponing it until next year. One comment he made I had not thought of - if I do CPE this summer and I am spent at the end, how is that going to affect the beginning of class and the whole semester. I could be a huge disadvantage at the beginning of the semester. Then, during lunch, Nancy (who recently ended her term on the Commission for Ministry and is here at GTS for a Trustees' meeting) asked me how I was doing and my plans for summer. The suggested I postpone CPE for a year. She said that I need to learn self-care now. She also said there was talk at the diocese office that postponement might be a good idea. So, I e-mailed Mary this afternoon and asked here what she thought. Considering MAC being in my blood stream, which my doctor said is a sign of a immune system disfunction, being in a hospital may not be a good idea until they really figure out what is wrong with me. Anyway, Mary said that she talked with Bishop Grew and they thought it might be a good idea to postpone CPE.

I am really torn. There are a lot of things I could do this summer - take classes at Union or Fordham, work for Anne and earn a little money, work some in a parish for experience. Yet, all my classmates will be going through CPE and I will not have that common experience with them! Right now, that means a lot to me! Being out of commission for six weeks already pulled me out of their experience. I could sense it during final exam week. While I'm glad I avoided the stress by having much of my work extended into the coming month, there is part of me that feels left out of their common experience.

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I took the Patristics (Church History) final this morning. I got up early to study for a final few hours. I thought I was pretty set, with the understanding that another full day would have made all the difference in the world. It would have been a moot point, however. The way the final was structured, I didn't really study the right things anyway. Such is life, I suspect. At this point, I really don't care. I want to get everything done and over with, and while I do want to do a good job, I am not going to kill myself. There are far more important things in the world than knowing the Council of Ephesis in 431 was concerned with the heresy of Euthycianism. Not that Euthycianism isn't a good thing to know, but in the grand scheme of things, right now it is not high of the list of important things. Anyway, my perspective has changed a lot since my illness.

I saw myself heading towards burn out, great dependence on my own effort, an unwillingness to give things over to God, and inability to have right priorities - which should always be people-centered first and for most. I'm glad for the illness, if for only that reason. The stress and anxiety that leads to nothing more than illness (emotionally and then physically) is simply not worth it.

I am very glad for my classmates, who are truly finished. I still have two mid-terms, a final, two exegesis, and a short preceptorial paper to finish. I just hope I can finish most of it before CPE.

I had another follow-up appointment with my doctor. They took nine viles of blood this time - a record for me. So, the MAC in my blood shouldn't be there and now is the process of finding out why it is.

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So, all day yesterday I researched and answered the first essay of my New Testament take-home final with the requisite five pages filled up. I'm sitting in the classroom waiting for our in-class identification exam and listening to some of my fellow classmates talk about their answers. They certainly didn't sound like my answer at all! I got home, asked my roommate Nick whether I was using the right copy of the exam - you see, our professor gave us an example a few days earlier of what the actual exam would be like. I answered the wrong stupid question! I mean, it was interesting and I learned a lot, but now I have to go back and do all the work to answer the CORRECT question and then proceed to the second essay. At least I didn't answer everything incorrectly! What a doofus!

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I just got back from a group study session for the OT2 final. Even thought, as of Friday everyone will be completely finished and I will still be working through May to get caught up, I am so glad I am not were they are. I don't know how they are holding up with the compression of finals into basically 3 days. Especially with the NT2 final, which is incredibly comprehensive and very difficult. This place is not developmental at all!

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As I write my two essays for my New Testament take-home final, I watch out the window from time to time. I am amazed. Construction work is going on down below that blocks three of the six one-way lanes on 10th Ave. Both the construction workers, laying new pipe below the road, and the mass of drivers trying to all squeeze through the two completely free lanes, seem to use their limited space to the best of their abilities. All the construction that goes on has to happen in a relatively small space. Back-end loaders, huge trucks haling away slaps of concrete and asphalt, and a good number of workers maneuver and work in what seems to be an impossible space as other trucks and cars fly around them. I'm impresses that the regular vehicles drivers aren't yelling and screaming and honking. Sometimes the honking is insane.

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It seems I feeling better every day, which should be the case, after all. Jason, Nick, and I just got back from seeing the new X-Men movie. Better than the first, I do think. I'm still tiring easily and a day full of stuff gets the best of me. The city is actually quite pretty right now. The trees are leafing, the flowers are in bloom, spectacularly, and it is warm.

All-in-all, I'm doing quite well. I am on a much more even keel than before my illness. Being out of circulation for six weeks has a tendency to change perspective and attitude. I am thankful for that. Thankful, too, that through hardship, good things emerge! As James wrote, "Consider it all joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds; because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance, and perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature, complete, and lacking nothing." To know what joy is, to know what peace is, to know what real life is, you need to experience at least a taste of the opposite. Those who want life to be always easy are missing out on so much, because when we let the times of our lives, when we let the test and trial runs its course to see what God does within us, then do we become more of what we are meant to be, then do we learn, then do we understand, then do we become mature, complete, and lacking nothing. Let the process finish itself, and trust that God is always present and waiting for the knock, for the wanting, and God is there.

Ashton competed nationally yesterday. I haven't heard how he did, which makes me think he didn't come in first. I think, if he had, he would have called. But I could be completely wrong and will find out tonight.

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7:15 am this morning I will be off for yet another test. This one is testing for stuff going on with my kidneys, which may or may not have anything to do with the fevers. I'm feeling much, much better at this point. I haven't had a fever spike in almost two weeks now. My energy level is still quite low, but slowly returning. I just have to get myself back in shape.

Classes are now over for my first year of seminary. It is very hard to believe that the first year is almost finished. I have a month to make up the work I missed, although I think I will try to take the final exam in Patristics and New Testament.

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