Reflections on Yesterday’s Lenten Sermon

I haven’t posted for a while.  I’ve been feeling a little down, and this Sunday’s sermon didn’t help matters any.  So I thought I’d write about it.

First off, let me say that I’m probably slightly biased against Pastor Erickson.  I’d been used to Pastor Polzin for nearly 10 years, and Pastor Erickson is definitely very different.  Also, he looks like a clone of one of my favorite professors, Dr. Rudy, which makes me expect him to come out with some smart-alecky comment every five seconds, which does not match with his personality AT ALL.  So take my comments with that in mind.

So yesterday’s sermon was all about how horrible people are and how we need to really follow Jesus or we’re going to be in for a nasty surprise when He returns.  Which is true.  But I wish there had been more emphasis on how God’s grace saves us from that fate.  Now, I know Lent is supposed to focus on humanity’s sinfulness, and then we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, which prefigures our transition to eternal life, since we share in Jesus’ resurrection through our baptism (I think the Bible verse is in Romans somewhere), at Easter.

However, I still thought the emphasis on how bad we all are was excessive.  It’s possible this could have just been to due to my personal mental filter.  I’ve always had a tendency to obsess over all the ways in which I’m not perfect.  I was the kind of four year old who wondered, since God made people for a reason, but I was bad at everything, so why was I even alive (I was a very depressed and philosophical four year old).  Thankfully, I’ve come a long way since those days, but that shows my inborn tendency to dislike myself.

Also, I tend to be rather legalistic at times.  I remember, after I read The Nun’s Story in middle school, being awed at how the nuns in the story were only allowed to polish their shoes once a week, for fear they would see their reflection and become vain, thus distracting them from their focus on God.  I wanted to be that focused on God, so I tried to pay as little attention to my appearance as possible (which, needless to say, didn’t help me achieve success with my other middle school preoccupation- my love life).  I’ve realized since then that it’s not a sin to care about how you look, as long as it’s not taken to extremes.  But that’s something I continue to struggle with.

So, either from the sermon itself, or from how I perceived it, I was really depressed after church ended yesterday.  If you were there, please comment on what you thought of it, so I can figure out if it was just me, or not.


How to Spend My Semester Off

I’m starting to die of boredom.  Even though I’m taking a couple classes at Kirkwood, I still have a lot of time on my hands (cue Styx’s “Too Much Time On My Hands”).  I’ve tried all the usual things like cleaning my room and doing a long-overdue purging of my book collection.  And as you, my readers, know, I’ve started this blog!  So I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for other ways to constructively use my exile.

I’m thinking about starting to practice the piano again for half an hour a day.  Other than that, I don’t really have any specific goals.  I guess now would be a good time to read “Les Miserables” and cross that off my bucket list (the fifth time’s the charm!).  All I know is that I feel like I’m just spinning my wheels here, and it’s slowly driving me crazy!

The Companions of “Doctor Who” (and Why Donna Noble Was the Best!)

Finally, a “Doctor Who” post!

First off, there WILL be spoilers!  Obviously for the fourth season, and actually all the way up though this year’s Christmas special.  So don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Let’s start with the first companion of the modern era- Rose Tyler.  When I started watching the series, I liked her perfectly fine.  I even went along with the whole 10th Doctor/Rose love story (because let’s face it, what girl wouldn’t have a bit of a crush on David Tennant’s Doctor?).  Yes, she treated Mickey like crap.  But having nothing to compare her to, I thought she was great.  However, when I rewatched some of the first and second season episodes, I thought she seemed really annoying and immature.  And I still can’t decide if her ending up with the half-human Doctor clone was romantic or creepy.  Or both.

Now on to Martha Jones.  Martha was probably the companion I’m most like, so I have a bit of a soft spot for her.  Plus, she was placed in an awkward situation as the “rebound companion.”  But watching her pine away for the Doctor episode after episode got really old.  Having been on both sides of the unrequited love thing, I felt sorry for both of them, but it went on for the entire season!  It got really depressing.  Still, Martha had probably the best ending for a a companion, when she finally confessed her feelings to the Doctor and left the TARDIS to move on with her life.  She seemed a lot gutsier in the fourth season when she showed up in a few episodes, and I feel like she had the most character development out of all the companions (well, except for Donna…).  I must say I never really saw her with MICKEY of all people, though.  Although it does seem fitting in a way, since they were both involved in a love triangle with the Doctor and Rose.

As for Amy (and Rory) Pond- I’ve never been one of those virulent Amy-haters, but I’m not a big fan of hers either.  I thought she was fairly bland as a character (which I guess is slightly odd, since she’s supposed to be so feisty and Scottish).  Maybe that’s because I rushed through the last couple seasons just before the Christmas special came out, or maybe it’s because I was obsessed with the awesomeness of River Song, but I just never really felt much one way or the other about Amy.  And I hated the way the show kept harping on the “Girl Who Waited” thing.  I liked Rory though.  He was obviously devoted to Amy, and funny in a quiet, deadpan sort of way.  I loved the episodes that focused on the Ponds’ relationship.  Especially the flashback in “Let’s Kill Hitler” when he and Amy had an argument about whether he was gay or not.  That was hilarious, and made me love Rory even more.

Finally, on to Donna Noble!  She definitely had the most character development of all the companions.  She turned from a rude, selfish, irritating, bossy control freak into a brave and caring individual.  I love how the show highlighted her underlying insecurity, and focused on her family dynamics (especially since her mother reminded me of my own…).  And it was nice to have a companion who was emphatically NOT interested in the Doctor (I love the end of the Adipose Industries episode with the confusion over “I just want a mate” vs. “You just want TO MATE.  Well, you ain’t mating with me, sunshine.”).  Although they weren’t romantically involved, you can see they had a great friendship and really cared about each other.  And David Tennant and Catherine Tate have great chemistry together! (Just look at the Doctor and Donna’s entirely nonverbal conversation in the above-mentioned episode, and you’ll see what I mean.  Also, check out their performance of “Much Ado About Nothing.”  It’s hilarious!  But I digress…).  All these factors made Donna’s end perhaps the most heart-breaking of all of them (and I thought nothing could top the Doctor’s first goodbye to Rose).  To see her beg the Doctor not to wipe her memories, even though it meant she would die, because she didn’t want to lose all she had seen and done.  And then to see her afterwards, when the Doctor said goodbye to her, and she barely even looked up from her phone conversation, since she had no idea who he was.  And to see her returned to her former personality- it was like she had died after all, but worse somehow, since she was still living, but totally unlike who she had been before.

Anyway, Donna was the best companion in my opinion, since she made me laugh hysterically throughout the fourth season (and the season 3 Christmas special), and then cry at the end.  She had a hilarious, non-angsty relationship with the Doctor, and really acted as his moral compass, more so than the other companions.  And her growth as a character was awesome- she was clearly still Donna, but a nicer and braver version.  And that made her ending all the more poignant.

I’m interested to see what they’re going to do with Clara.  I liked her much more than Amy (and Rose), but I don’t know if anyone could beat Donna as the best companion.  She was really funny and daring, but she hit on the Doctor too much for my taste.  (He belongs with River Song!  River Song!)  I hate the fact that the next episode doesn’t air until April, but since my birthday’s in April, I’m pretending the BBC just wants to give me a really awesome birthday present.

I hope you enjoyed this rambling post through the depths of my “Doctor Who” obsessed mind!  If you have anything you would like to add, please feel free to comment (either below, or on Facebook).

A Defense of the Pope by a Non-Catholic

There’s been a lot of media attention focused on the Vatican in the last few days since Pope Benedict XVI announced he would resign at the end of this month.  It seemed like everyone immediately started to criticize all the decisions he has made throughout his papacy. There’s been a lot of talk about how he’s attempted to “turn back the clock” on the Catholic Church.  I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject.

Although I’m not Catholic, and don’t agree with the Pope on everything, I feel like the press has been unfair to him.  I admire how he continues to proclaim the importance of Christianity in an increasingly post-modern era.  He doesn’t compromise on his beliefs just so he can attract more followers to the Church.  Take, for instance, his anti-contraception stance.  I disagree with him on that.  However, if that’s what he honestly believes, he shouldn’t change it in some misguided attempt to “modernize”- he should only change it if he  reconsiders his position and comes to a different conclusion.  Doctrine should always come before modernization.

In addition, I read the first part of his biography of Jesus a few years ago.  It remains the book that, with the exception of the Bible, has most influenced my faith.  He is an extremely gifted researcher/writer.  I enjoyed reading it so much, that I plan to read the second part during the Lenten season.

It’s possible that I’m totally misjudging him.  I don’t know what role, if any, he played in the whole child sex abuse coverup scandal.  Maybe I’m being misled by the whole elderly nice-guy image.   Assuming that’s not the case, I wanted to share what I perceived to be his strong points.

Possibly Switching Majors

So, I’m currently trying to decide if I should switch majors when I go back to Truman in the fall.  Any advice would be much appreciated, so PLEASE comment below if you have any comments about my choices below, or if you would like to add another major you think I should consider.

(Staying With) Computer Science: The advantages include a shorter time till graduation, many friends currently in the major, an excellent rapport with my advisor, and good prospects of finding a well-paying job afterwords.  The disadvantages include the fact that I’ve discovered I hate programming, and don’t want to be a CS professor, which is pretty much it for job options as far as I know.

Political Science: I love political science!  It was my major freshman and sophomore year, so I already have had a fair amount of classes and know the faculty.  The downside is that I don’t want to be a lawyer, and most of the interesting foreign policy jobs are very competitive and/or require insane hours.  I don’t want to be a political science professor either — I hear there aren’t that many openings, and it would require many years in grad school, which I’d rather avoid, especially with uncertain job prospects afterwards.

Spanish: I like Spanish.  I speak and read it fairly well, which I’m told is a good skill to have in today’s world.  I’ve done some volunteer ELL tutoring at the Catherine McAuley Center in Cedar Rapids that I really enjoyed, where I got to use my Spanish skills a bit.  I could become a teacher, or maybe work in a business.  I’m not crazy about business, but if I got to speak Spanish it might be worth it.  However, majoring in Spanish would delay my graduation even more than it already has been delayed.

Math: I’m not passionate about math, but I’m good at it and I really enjoy helping people with their homework and getting them to understand the concepts behind the algorithms.  I’d most likely become a math teacher, which I can kind of see myself doing.  I was involved in math club in middle school and high school, and had a lot of good experiences with it, and it might be fun to coach a math club team.  This option would also push my graduation date back.

An Introduction To My Blog

Hello to all my brave readers!  This blog is essentially going to be a dumping place for the random thoughts that go through my brain.  Expect to see what’s currently happening in my life, as well as commentary on faith, music, and Doctor Who.  I’ll try to make it as entertaining as possible, but I can’t promise anything. 

For those who don’t know, I’m taking the semester off from Truman.  A combination of factors led to my decision, including anxiety issues and the fact that I still don’t know what I want to major in even though I’m a senior.  In the meantime, I’m living at home in Iowa and taking two classes at Kirkwood (the local community college, not the STL suburb) as well as an online electrical engineering class.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to get my academic self-confidence back.

I feel like I’m in some kind of transitional phase.  I’ve always had some kind of plan for my life.  I might have changed that plan every other week, but at least I had one.  However, now that I actually need to start making decisions about where I want to go and what I want to do with my life, my mind is blank.  I’m trying to figure out who I am and what God’s will is for me, but so far I’m still in the dark.  I’m hoping that God is using this time somehow.  In the words of Romans 8:28: “All of these things work together for good.”  I wish I knew what His plan were, but I hope that although now I “see through a glass darkly, but then I shall know in full.”