The Euphemist

Reflections on Jewish Studies and many other subjects big and little, by a perpetual student who sometimes searches a little too long for just the right word ...

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Location: Minnesota, United States

Christian, truth seeker, husband, son, brother & uncle, Lutheran pastor, musician (cello, etc.), Jewish Studies grad student, intellectual historian, aquarium enthusiast & pet owner, philologist, astronomer, Norwegian-American, Ford pickup driver, buffoon.

Monday, October 30, 2006

In which the blogger shamelessly toots his own horn about a recent good grade; Lunar Standstill

On Saturday my graded exam for "Medieval Judaism" came back, earlier than expected, and with a higher grade than I thought I could realistically hope for - an A! No minus sign after it, even! An A of the 4.0/4.0 type! I've looked back at the grade sheet a few times to make sure I read it right. My favorite part of Dr. Bell's feedback was that the "Dialogue of Medieval Biblical Commentators" was "logically ordered" - on my initial drafts of the same paper and the one on "Medieval Jewish Philosophy" he had commented "nicely organized and argued." That means a lot to me. I place high value on clear logic (making no claim to have followed it consistently myself), and wish to learn to be a good practitioner of it.

It isn't that Dr. Bell gushed embarrassingly over my genius or any such thing - he gave much constructive criticism about how I could have gone further with the analysis here or relied less on secondary sources there. Indeed, I'd have to admit that the Philosophy and "Overview of Medieval Judaism" essays were a bit weak on quotes from primary sources. But I felt especially pleased with the "Biblical Commentators" essay, which was the topic in the course that interested me the most anyway.

On the one hand, I have a sense that other profs I've had at Spertus might have given me a lesser grade for the reasons cited above. On the other hand, may I dare to think that Dr. Bell, in his professional judgment, was accurate to think that the strongest aspects of my essays far outweighed their faults? At any rate, I, of course, have no intention of challenging my grade as it stands. You may read my "prize-winning" essays by following the link on the left sidebar, if you wish.

This means that I will soon be going on to the course in "Modern Judaism", though I'd better take care of a few other things on the home front first before diving in.

On another note, it did seem to me that the Moon has been riding unusually high in the sky sometimes this year, unusually low above the southern horizon other times. You can read all about it here. Ironic that the term is "Lunar Standstill" for a phenomenon which seems to exaggerate one aspect of the moon's apparent movement, but the explanation of the term in the Wikipedia article makes sense.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Big Decision & Big Steps Back In Time

I've got so many things going on in my world that I've seriously wondered whether it's wise for me to take the time to do this blogging stuff at all. So, I've done some praying about it, on good advice. In fact, let me mention something interesting, possibly worth a whole blog post - over the years, a number of people with Bible names have given me pieces of good, godly advice, some of which I've heeded, and some of which I haven't, but learned that I should have. One of these many Bible-named people is Michael H, former roommate and frequent visitor to this blog, who advised me in so many words, "pray about everything before you do it." I could go on and on about great advice I've gotten, & not always heeded, from people with names like Paul, Lois, Stephen/Steven, Annie (version of Anna), Philip, and so forth.

So, my prayerful decision is not to totally discontinue blogging, but to go on a strict hiatus every time I'm taking a Jewish Studies course. What that means in practice is that I'll be an active "force" in the blogosphere (to put it a bit grandiosely) during the approximately two-month turnaround period between courses, and then crawl under my rock for a period that could be as short as three months or as long as an entire year. This goes along with my other prayerful decision, which is to try to complete my Jewish Studies courses in a substantially shorter time than I've been doing so far. So, that's my decision, and I believe the LORD led me to it.

Now, I'm picking up an open tag from Dave, on a meme called "Big Steps Back In Time." Dave's another one of my Bible-named friends. I don't recall any major pieces of advice from him, but since we're in regular contact via the blogosphere, his golden nugget may still be coming my way.

25 Years Ago I...
Was a junior in high school
Played cello in the HS orchestra and a dinner music group called the "Rainbow Strings"
Thought I was going to be an optometrist

20 Years Ago I...
Was a senior in college
Played in the college orchestra and the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony
Had taken two years of Latin and was in my second year of Greek
Had just experienced a life-changing experience of disappointment of which I will say nothing more

15 Years Ago I...
Had recently graduated from seminary and was in Western Wisconsin taking my second unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, working as a student chaplain at a nursing home and hospital
Re: the above, I was in a 6-month period of time in which I actually lived in a hospital room! People don't believe me when I tell them that ...

10 Years Ago I...
Had just moved from Texas, the site of the first church I pastored, to Indiana, the site of the second church I pastored
Was working a temporary second job as an evaluator of standardized diagnostic tests (I specialized in 10th Grade Reading). I ended up doing that job three times while in Indiana, and it was one of my favorite jobs of all time.
I had recently met the aforementioned Michael H, and was slightly over two months away from meeting my bride-to-be

5 Years Ago I...
Had lived at our present home for two months. At the time I pastored just one church, the "town church".
Had joined a college/community orchestra in the region, the first time in five years that I had played in an orchestra
Was in the midst of a long search for the "perfect" distance learning grad program

2 Years Ago I...
Had been working with both the "town church" and the "country church" for a few months
Was taking the "Jewish Theology" course from Spertus
Had an alarming case of chest pain, which turned out to be only a mild case of acid reflux which was gone after a brief period of treatment. But, to make a long story short, the med exams and treatment I had in October 2004 proved to be a wake-up call that spurred me on to change my physical self-care so as to buy more tomorrows, as the LORD wills. At the time I weighed about 220-225 pounds.

1 Year Ago I...
Started the "Medieval Judaism" course
Weighed 193 pounds (I would creep up to 199 during the ensuing Holiday Sweet Treat season, but managed to keep it below 200)

Yesterday I...

Preached at two churches
Went to the park with my wife and our dog
Assisted in cooking the evening meal, including some wonderful sweet corn grown by another Christian guy named Dave, an organic farmer who was one of the main influences towards me being a "crunchy conservative"

Today I...

Will take my wife to the podiatrist and do a couple of hospital visits
Might try to straighten up my office a little bit
Might also try to clean out the rain gutters & spouts ahead of the possible first snow on Wednesday
Weighed 179 pounds! Woo hoo! The lightest I've been since 1994, and I'm within 10 pounds of my goal!

Tomorrow I...
Do more office & ministry work
Might be doing the aforementioned rain gutter work that might not get done today
Hopefully won't creep back up to 180 again

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Hello, world!

Praise the LORD that I have just completed and mailed my final essays on Medieval Judaism, just on the brink of the deadline, as usual. So this means I'm crawling out from under my rock, & (I hope) will soon be posting a few matters of substance. To all of you who have kept this site somehow getting five or so hits per day, even when my blogging lies dormant, thank you!