Thursday, January 17, 2008

Drawing and Quartering Christ

The American Restoration Movement. Produced the Disciples of Christ, the Churches of Christ, the International Churches of Christ, and probably a number of other "creatively" named regional variants.

Mission: Unity amongst Christians. Yes, that was the mission. Then history happened and down south in CofC land things got rather grim and self-righteous. And today the majority of CofC churches and schools could use a squirrel or two set loose in the building.

Out of the surprisely numerous CofC groups to be found on Facebook, at least two have prominently displayed in their descriptions: "We are in NO WAY affiliated with the denomination known as the United Churches of Christ."

That makes me rather sad. And not just because the only way I see myself ever belonging to another Church of Christ is if it happens to have "United" stuck in front of it.

The idea of the Restoration Movement was UNITY. And God knows I don't want to see the CofC running exactly as it ran in the mid 1800s, but for Pete's sake, there were a number of good, excellent, and worthy principles hanging around. Why should those be abandoned? And abandoned just for the sake of some pig-headed self-righteousness. And it's not just unity that has been abandoned, any attempts at respect and kindness seem to have been thrown out with it. It's not just that others are mistaken, why their very faith and intention must also be attacked. (Should I even begin to wonder what happened to rationalism. Koo-koo, rationalism, where did you go?)

The CofC could be a great organization. It's structured to be flexible and to respond to the needs of people at a local level. There are tons of good people who call it home. The original movement emphasized individual study and the freedom of the individual conscience. I want to see the CofC live up to it's potential, and I quietly rejoice when I see CofC individuals struggling to be honest to themselves and their own beliefs and still maintain a truly loving attitude toward others. I might even loudly rejoice when I hear of CofC institutions, such as Pepperdine, welcoming progressive Christian groups like Soulforce, onto their campus for dialogue.

But for the product of a Movement that started with the goal of uniting people, the majority of CofCs seem incredibly interested in cloistering themselves off from everyone else. You are not my brother, for you use an instrument. You are not my sister, for you dare to think you may speak. You are not related to me, because you find value in the Orthodox, and value in the Catholics, and value in the Buddha, and value in Hinduism, and embrace a Muslim woman as a precious sister.

Yes, Church of Christ, you are in fact affiliated with the United Church of Christ. (Check out the last word in both names.) And maybe you could learn a bit from them.

I'll go back to my corner and read about the Buddha.

You can't get there from here.

So, I miss the Petersburg bus system. Yeah, never thought I would say that. Specifically, I miss the 41. The nice, uncrowded, simple 41. And to a somewhat lesser extent the 42. Had some good meditations on those buses. I don't miss the 151 and the 152.

But, I got used the bus. And while the Petersburg bus system isn't precisely what I would call reliable, (Waiting an hour, and then there are three buses from the same route tailgating each other -- yeah . . .) I didn't have trouble getting from point A to point B. For the morning commute, generally on time even. (Afternoon and evening were another story -- but hey, there's the Metro and marshutkas to supplement the buses.)

Anyway, this all leads around to me looking out my apartment window in Memphis and noticing that buses are going by fairly regularly. So, I think to my little self -- hey, I could take the bus to school -- after all, a route runs right by the college. Eco-friendlier, might be cheaper than putting gas in my car, yeah, this could be a winning situation!

Okay, despite Memphis apparently thinking like Peter the Great, who laid out the southern portion of Saint Petersburg with the prospects shooting out from the central point of the city -- the Admiralty -- like spokes on a wheel. This makes navigation a little less intuitive than does a simple grid system. But, Memphis does this with bus routes -- everything is a ray shooting out from downtown, half of a wheel. Relatively few crosstown routes.

Anyway, the trip to and from the apartment wouldn't be too bad. One transfer. Roughly 30 minutes in the bus, and less than a block of walking. Not shabby. (Also, thirty minutes cushion time on class.) Oh, and no worries about crowding.

However -- good lord! Who set these fares? How can folks afford the bus? My fare each way would be 1.60. As best I can tell from the website, you can't just buy a monthly pass with unlimited rides. (You can in Boston -- my US comparison city.) You can buy a pass for 21 rides, which gets the base price for a ride down to 1.33 from a 1.50. Um . . . I'm having trouble fathoming how using the bus is that much less expensive than owning a car -- but by the time insurance and repairs are factored in, it might be. And, I'm not sure that my desire to be eco-friendlier over the next six months is going to include spending considerably more on transportation, than I will using my car. (Middle-class college student, my transportation situation isn't average.)

Okay, Russia spoiled me, I guess. A monthly bus pass in Peter is 385 rubles -- about 15 dollars. Probably, part of the inexpense is due to lower gas prices in Russia, and part is due to the vast majority of people in Russia using public transportation. (Incidentally, the cost of living in Peter is just as high as in Memphis.) Here, I would be looking at somewhere between 60-100 dollars on bus fares in a given month. An unlimited local bus pass in Boston is 40 dollars a month (59 dollars gets you unlimited subway rides too) -- which taking into account differences in gas prices, and probably the amount of government funding between US and Russia, seems reasonable.

Dear Memphis, unlimited monthly bus pass . . . nudge, nudge, wink, wink, you know what I mean.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Shrub Loves Freedom?

But he is selling 20 billion dollars worth of weaponry to Saudi Arabia.

Cause, you know, the Saudi's aren't repressive in the least. Not at all. Of course, it isn't immoral to back the Saudi regime. Nope.

I don't care that the Saudi's have massive influence on how much oil costs. We're screwed no matter what at this point. And I'd like to be a citizen of a country that's a little less hypocritical.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

It knows something....

I think my notebook knows it was just replaced. What with my word processor crashing every few minutes -- whilst I try to write a paper.


Hurry up new computer!

Old computer, I'm sorry, really, I am. You've served me well for over four years now. We've gone through some rough times together. I promise to retire you with the dignity befitting your service, but I've got to have something that turns on reliably.

True Theology Geeks Agree...

...His Dark Materials -- righteous, man!*

Here's a link to a cute comic from Shortpacked. Because, you know, loyalty, honor, responsibility, and acceptance of one's own self -- the values promoted by Iorek Byrnison and the armored bears -- are so totally horrible. Ah, dear, Iorek!

*Do I have to say how many theology geeks this statement is based upon? -- okay, just two. And my opinion is based solely on the books, because I haven't made it out to the movie. Yet. But...