Friday, November 21, 2008

A Stream of Consciousness Post

My coat -- a fluffy, bright pink Lands End piece -- makes me feel like that kid in "A Christmas Story." I walk around, arms stiff, like a penguin, unable to move or rotate my head, but feeling quite warm nonetheless.

I'm not really sure what this revelation has to do with the bigger picture, namely that I'm feeling all out of sorts in a number of ways, but it seemed like a good segue from point A to point B, wherever point A might have been. And suddenly, as I write this, I realize I had no idea how to spell "segue" prior to now (why did I think it was segway?).

I've traded a relatively painless life for a life of uncertainty and difficulty. I went from schluffing around an economics department at one of the country's most prestigious schools, making good money and saving up, but being subjected to emotional and verbal assault on some ocassions, to academia, where I spend every day wondering when my fingers will find their way to the keys so that I might put something down on paper to impress the holy prophets -- that is, the professors. On winter days like this, I'm reminded of sitting for hours on end at the Coffee House in Lincoln, Nebraska, during my undergraduate years, studying biblical Hebrew and preparing editing marks for the school newspaper (which, it seems, is where most of the excitement I remember about school arose from). I'm also reminded of my time in Washington D.C. when I was working at the Washington Post, when I'd get out of work at midnight and schluff over in the cold to my favorite little coffee shop haunt in Dupont Circle to read the week's parshah and dish out a d'var Torah for the blog. I miss that kind of dedication where I provided the reader of this very blog with something Jewishly substantial as far as the Torah went.

It's something about this time of year makes me want to crawl into coffee shops for days and days, drinking mochas and running into old friends, conversing about tout le monde. Unfortunately, my university is devoid of any coffee shops like what I'm familiar with -- couches, dank corners, intellectuals waxing poetic over a chess board. The coffee shops on campus are all loud and filled with people and aren't really coffee shops at all, they're just places that sell coffee that happen to be inside various campus buildings. The ambiance, which I found so inspiring during my undergrad, just isn't here.

I called my little brother last night, to get peace of mind about how he was coping with the whole dad thing. He managed to brighten me up, like he always does, with his infinite wisdom and interesting outlook on life. When I asked him how he was feeling about things, he aptly responded, in the Edwards way, "There's always something bad happening around here, I'm just used to it." That, folks, is wisdom. 

I've signed up for classes next semester (though the large chunk of graded work for this semester still has yet to be penned), and I'm quite excited about them. I think they'll offer more intellectual stimulation than this semester managed to, though, I think it will be a much more difficult semester. My classes? Of course there will be Hebrew, there will also be a class on Holocaust cinema, but it will be focused on the cinema of the decade at the end and following the Shoah, specifically in Europe and Russia, and I think it'll provide some interesting insight into little-known film. And then, my third class will be Talmudic and Midrashic thought, which is a graduate seminar that should be advanced to the point of forcing me to get really damn good at my Hebrew really damn fast.

To be honest, I'm nervous about writing these two papers. It's sort of going to set the stage for the next three semesters, I think. Will I impress the professors with my Judaic studies prowess and mad writing skills? Will they be wowed with my punctuation and verbage? My choice of words (I'm anti-big words and anti-thesaurus, for what it's worth)? My rhythm and flow? I think, to be sure, that I'm far too worried about what people think of my writing. When I tell people I was a journalism major they always say "Oh, you like writing?" forgetting that there's a whole editing -- not to mention design and photographic -- component to journalism. I was never a writer in the journalistic sense, but I've always been a writer. A poet, anyway. I like to think I have a sense for how something is meant to sound and how the words are supposed to be paired.

But enough about me.

I pose a question for my readers of the academic or religiously curious persuasion: Recently in my Bible course we were discussing the Trinity and Jesus/G-d. Now, I can't seem to get a really straight answer about how Christians reconcile the following things. Assume the following are all accepted as true.
1) G-d is all powerful and cannot suffer
2) Jesus is G-d
3) Jesus is flesh, and thus able to suffer
So how do Christians reconcile the idea that G-d cannot suffer but Jesus does suffer if Jesus is G-d (which he has to be, otherwise it's idolatrous)? I'm asking this seriously, as an academic. It seems to me that all explanations boil down to the following: "We cannot know, for G-d's ways are mysterious to man." And that, unfortunately isn't good enough for me. Sure, there's a lot in Judaism that people throw into the same category, but at least we argue about it!

Anyhow, for this week's parshah, Chayei Sarah, check out , and have a good Shabbos!