Friday, November 26, 2010

I am thankful...

I am thankful.
I am thankful for a family that supports me and encourages me to be adventurous, even when it hurts.
I am thankful for friends that love me through the tough times, who make me laugh and who tenderly wipe away my tears.
I am thankful for a God who sees in me the worth to call and ordain me to His holy endeavor.
I am thankful for a world in which I am free to believe as I so choose.
I am thankful for health, for my body and all my functioning faculties.
I am thankful for Cambodia And all I learned there.
I am thankful for Candler and Queens, because they formed me into who I am.
I am thankful for a broken heart mended.
I am thankful for Praxis UCC and the people who helped me articulate my own passionate faith.
I am thankful for my baby brother who is my best friend and for whom I would gladly lay down my life.
I am thankful for the men and women who serve in the armed forces – even when I don’t agree with the fighting, your bravery and courage is inspiring every day.
I am thankful for love and mercy.
I am thankful for the opportunity to live in England, for the opportunity to fall in love with this place of grey skies and cold winds, and to see myself grow, even over just 3 months.
I am thankful for Wesley House and the amazing people I’ve met here.
I am thankful for home church family who have been an incredible support for me.
I am thankful for numerous people – Marshall, Leah, Tim, Kristin, Sam, Aqsa, Rachel, Jennifer, Sarah, Susannah…you have believed in me, encouraged me, and loved me even when I’m far away; I can never thank you enough.
For the opportunity to see the world, to be bigger than my body, to be greater than the sum of my parts, to be the trembling hands and feet of my God, I am so very thankful.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving and Football

Happy Thanksgiving friends~

Clips of my first English football match! I hope t have a video of my Thanksgiving celebrations up this weekend. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Baking with Brekke!

So, I am trying to make gluten-free cookies...and I have learned that sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. But if it involves chocolate, butter and sugar, normally it's going to taste okay. :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Theology on Tap comes to Cambridge

Back home at in Atlanta there’s this unofficial “thing” called Theology on Tap. It was initiated by an Episcopal church sometime in the early 2000s, and has become a mish-mash of small group gatherings, sometimes sponsored or affiliated with a church or other religious organization, but more often of thinking and drinking theologians. I found myself participating in a rather casual, unofficial version of Theology on Tap with my peers at Candler. We couldn’t help but gather around a frosty pint at the Brick Store (a beloved pub around the corner from where I lived that boasted over 300 different beers from around the world!) and chat fervently about theology, ethics, church history and our blossoming love for the Old Testament (thank you Brent Strawn). In many ways, it was these unplanned, ungoverned discussions that shaped and deepened my understanding of what we were studying in the classroom. We weren’t constrained by time limits, or a need to “stay on track.” The discussion could wander and weave as it wished, leading us down rabbit holes that later became serious theological reflection.  It was an opportunity to grow relationships with the Candler community, to connect not just topically with my fellow students who will go on to be my colleagues in ministry once I’m ordained. It was a hearty, honest gathering of people grappling with the various points of theological and religious conversation and owning it, in some ways.

Cambridge is missing this important space. Students don’t (at least not in my context) meet outside of lectures, or institution/denominational commitments to socialize and digest the dense quantity of information they’re being fed. There isn’t a space to let the theological banter roam free, winding around our own predispositions and asking the personal questions which seem inappropriate for the classroom or supervision group. Indeed, discussion in the classroom is a novel irregularity at best (because of the structure of the Cambridge term system). Here, more so even than at Candler, an open space to talk about theology, ethics, church history and how all of these relate practically to our ministries is extremely important. The cross pollinating of theological colleges is important too, since people from the same denomination live and eat together (mostly) and tend to stick together in small, tightly-knit groups. My hope with this first attempt to transplant something from the New World to the Old, is to facilitate talking – about our scholastic work, our personal reflection and across denominational and philosophical lines.

But maybe it’s just me – I mean, y’all that know me, know I like to talk! But I hope that it becomes a regular, useful space for future ministers of Britain to articulate their theologies, to own them, and to enjoy good conversation (and a quality beer) in the process.

So, tomorrow at 8:30pm (that’s 3:30pm Atlanta time) I’ll be “leading” the very first Theology on Tap in Cambridge! Huzzah!

Say What? American vs. British

Language, Derrida might say, is a slippery slope. It’s difficult to pin things down, to create concrete unmisinterpretable meaning (yes, I just made that word up).  That’s true enough when you speak a language fluently, but when you cross over into someone else’s linguistic territory, the ice you’re walking on becomes thinner and thinner, and the chances that you’ll make a dialect faux pas gets higher and higher. What do you do when diction damage has been done? Well, I blush, throw on my best Southern accent, and blame it on being from out of town. 

But, friends, I’m here to help prevent any such embarrassing flummoxes! Lest you commit a language gaffe, I have compiled a list of words and phrases which are not quite the same from America to Britain. I hope that this list prevents any future miscommunication, embarrassment, or insult.

We say ‘pants’ = they say ‘trousers’
We say ‘underwear’/’panties’ = they say ‘pants’/’knickers’
We say ‘sidewalk’ = they say ‘pavement’
We say ‘pavement’ = they say ‘asphalt’/ ‘tarmac’
We say ‘nerd’ = they say ‘boffin’
We say ‘hood’ (of a car) = they say ‘bonnet’
We say 'trunk' (of a car) = they say ‘boot’
We say 'I'm mad' = they say 'I'm cross'
We say "he's crazy' = they say 'he's mad'
We say 'she's a loony' = they say 'she's a nutter'
We say ‘I’m exhausted!’ = they say ‘I’m knackered’
We say ‘Bless Your Heart!’ = they say ‘Oh Bless!’*
We say ‘soccer’ = they say ‘football’
We say ‘football’ = they say ‘huh?’

I think this is a good start to keeping everyone from committing crimes against the English language. Hopefully, with these expert insights into our dialectical differences, we can move toward a greater understanding of our cousins across the pond.

* This confirms my theory that Southerners are really just Brits with better tea, and more charm. :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Armistice Day. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month . The end of war in Europe

Remembrance Day is a big deal here in England. Weeks before November 11th, people begin wearing little red (and sometimes white) paper poppies as a sign of solidarity and remembering of those who were lost in the two Great Wars. It sweeps through the country, and all of sudden people are pinning poppies to their jackets and blazers, churches have displays where you can buy a poppy and there is a greater awareness of those who serve in uniform. It’s a different sentiment than how we celebrate Veterans’ Day in America.

Firstly, there is an awareness that Remembrance Day is not about the military in a narrow sense. It is about all people who died in wartime. Britain was bombed, and many, many civilians lost their lives during the blitzkrieg. Civilian nurses, aid workers and chaplains died throughout the Western front. Families were destroyed. Life was changed forever. Remembrance Day is about all the lives lost, both those who served in uniform and those who did not.

Secondly, there is still a major focus on the World Wars. They had a lasting impact on Britain – and Europe more broadly – that we just can’t fathom across the Atlantic. Pearl Harbor was horrible, but it doesn’t even come close to the kind of devastation places like Britain, France and Germany faced. It is a devastation that echoes in the land. It is real. It is tangible and you can still feel it. November is a gloomy month which ushers in the grey chill of winter. It is windy, cold and uninviting. It is the saddest season. How appropriate, then, that Britain pauses to stand in mournful awareness, in sober acknowledgement of the destructive power of the human will.

Unlike in America, where we parade around our veterans, celebrating their efforts and applauding their service, Remembrance Day is not about nationalism, but about history. In America, we invite veterans and soldiers to wear their uniforms to church, we sing nationalistic hymns, and we tip our hats to those who died “serving our great nation.” It’s bittersweet – the tart memory of the Vietnam War and the massive loss of life and unraveling of the American dream still fresh. It isn’t a long distance echo, but a clear current cry that we face in America. So, we dress it up, we celebrate the sacrifice and we forget just how devastating war is. We laud the uniformed but forget the many who died as unintended causalities of war. We turn a day of somber remembering  into an opportunity to be patriotic.

Perhaps this differing indicates a deeper chasm between America and Britain. It certainly shows the differing impact of the world wars for Europe than for America. It shows a gap in values, in emotional responses and, I think, in how we understand our relationship to both our country and our military. One isn’t better than the other; they are expression of the unique situations, experiences and personalities of the two countries. It just serves to remind me how different the world is.