Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Five: The Water and the Word

RevHRod says:

In this Sunday's gospel Nicodemus asks Jesus, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" Poor old Nicodemus! He was so confused about the whole "water and Spirit" business of baptism.

For today's five, tell us about your baptismal experiences.

1. When and where were you baptized? Do you remember it? Know any interesting tidbits?
I was baptized in my home church, First Presbyterian Church in Greenville, Mississippi, when I was about seven months old. The dear pastor who baptized me, Dr. T. Russell Nunan, died last year at the age of ninety-nine. He was a wonderful man of God whose ministry meant a lot to my parents and to me. Mama used to tell me that I squeaked a little when he put the water on my head, but I didn't cry.

After I made a profession of faith (outside my church) at sixteen, I decided that I needed to be baptized again, and was immersed at a friend's church by her father--I think he was a lay preacher. That seemed like the right thing to do then, and was meaningful to me at the time, but later I came to believe that it was unnecessary--my "real" baptism had taken place years before.

2. What's the most unexpected thing you've ever witnessed at a baptism?
You can never predict how a baby will react to the whole thing, so in a sense every baptism includes something unexpected. Some squeak, some laugh, a few shriek! Our former pastor always wore a large cross, and many babies teethed on it as he carried them up the aisle.

3. Does your congregation have any special traditions surrounding baptisms?
Oh, me. We have to sing this godawful song, "The Borning Cry". If you love it, I apologize, but I can't stand it. Both the poetry and the theology make me wince. I think now that we are looking for a new pastor, it would be a great time to leave this tradition behind, but unfortunately I'm in the minority. A much better tradition in our congregation comes from our quilting group, the Ministers of the Cloth; they make a beautiful quilt for each child who is baptized. (They also make wonderful quilts for wounded soldiers who have come back to the States to recuperate, but that's another story.)

4. Are you a godparent or baptismal sponsor? Have a story to tell?
No, but when some close friends had their baby baptized some years ago, I was the elder who presented him and asked the questions directed to the congregation. I loved doing that.

5. Do you have a favorite baptismal song or hymn?
I've always thought that "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" would be a good baptismal hymn.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Friday, February 08, 2008

Another book meme!

This one comes from the Psalmist. This is one that--depending on circumstances--could be either edifying, bewildering, or just plain silly.

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)

I was trying to mark the hem of the Scientist's new slacks, but I haven't sewn in years and wasn't sure of what I was doing. The book I consulted is still here at hand: Singer Sewing Essentials (1984, and it still looks new).

Find Page 123.

Find the first 5 sentences.
(As we join our story in progress, we find our nameless heroine attempting to insert a zipper, using a glue stick. They didn't teach me that in eighth grade home ec.)

Post the next 3 sentences.
"Let glue dry for a few minutes. 10) Pull both threads at bottom to wrong side. Tie all four threads, using pin to pull knot close to zipper (page 59)."

Tag 5 people.
I can't remember who has already done this; if you have, please disregard the tag! But I'm sure you can come up with something more edifying than this! I'll tag Mindy, Jan, Diane, Kievas, and PG!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Book Meme

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?

Anything by Cormac McCarthy. Many people have told me what a fine writer he is, and his novel The Road received a thoughtful critique in Books & Culture several months ago. However, his books are extremely violent, and I'm sort of a wuss about violence in books or films. We are exposed to so many terrible and shocking events every day without seeking them out, that I choose to refrain from deliberately putting more horrible images into my mind.

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?

Ruby from Cold Mountain, May Dodd from One Thousand White Women, and Eowyn of Rohan (Lord of the Rings) would be great companions for an afternoon hike. I hope I could keep up with them!

(Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can't die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it's past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?

OK. True confessions. Don't scream. I have never been able to make it through anything by Jane Austen. Don't hate me.

Come on, we've all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you've read, when in fact you've been nowhere near it?

Barth's Church Dogmatics. I managed to get all the way though seminary without it. OK, so I wasn't in an M.Div. track, but still, it seemed that everyone else had to read it.

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to 'reread' it that you haven't? Which book?

I don't think so! I can't come up with one.

You've been appointed Book Advisor to a VIP (who's not a big reader). What's the first book you'd recommend and why? (if you feel like you'd have to know the person, go ahead of personalise the VIP)

It would depend on what sort of literature the VIP was interested in reading. If s/he wanted to know what all the fuss was about poetry, Camille Paglia's opinionated anthology, Break, Blow, Burn would be a good place to start. For fantasy, s/he couldn't go wrong with Lord of the Rings (although that could be a daunting prospect for someone who's not a big reader), or one of the most original and well-written books I read last year, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. If s/he just wanted an overview of Western literature, my sophomore lit texts would do fine--if I could supplement them with the Norton Anthology of Literature by Women!

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?

In college I could read just enough French to begin appreciating nuances that would not translate into English. Of course, I lost that ability long ago. I remember particularly enjoying short stories by Alphonse Daudet. If I were fluent in French I could read Daudet again, but a lot of other French writers can be pretty depressing. Maybe I would go with Russian instead, so I could enjoy Chekov's stories in their original form.

A mischievous fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?

It would do me good to reread Mere Christianity every year. If I could choose fiction, probably I would choose The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen, or a well-written epic fantasy like Watership Down.

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What's one bookish thing you 'discovered' from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?

I know there have been several books and authors I've met through blogging. The only thing I can think of right now is the Lily Conner mystery series by Michelle Blake. Lily is an Episcopal priest who winds up in the middle of mysterious and dangerous situations. The mysteries are well-written, and Lily is a very likable (and believable) character. And she's from Texas!

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she's granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favorite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free.

My aunt L. actually has my dream library already. A devoted book lover for many decades, she has a marvelous collection of first edition hardcovers, many of them autographed, from such writers as Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, Walker Percy, and Shelby Foote (a high school buddy!). She also has many beautiful limited editions of various classic books, produced in the 1930's and 1940's by the Limited Editions Club, which I am not sure still exists. Imagine Jack London's The Call of the Wild bound in green and black plaid flannel like an Alaskan outdoorsman's shirt, or Aristophanes' Lysistrata illustrated by Picasso (who signed it, too!). The Scientist and I can bury ourselves in her library for days. In my dreams, I could not come up with a library like the one she actually owns.

This is a tough meme, isn't it? If you are a true bibliophile, feel free to give it a try!

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Name Game

QG tagged me for a thoughtful book meme. As I was beginning to ponder my responses, I got sidetracked by's making the rounds...I first saw it at Mary Beth's place, so we'll blame her....Some of these work--some don't!

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME (first pet, current car): Fritzie Saturn (...and the Satellites! Can't you just see her, with her pink boots and Joan Jett sneer?)
2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME (fave ice cream flavor, favorite type of shoe): Pralines & Cream Amalfi
3. YOUR NATIVE AMERICAN NAME (favorite color, favorite animal): Blue Heeler (Ha!)
4. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME (middle name, city where you were born): Morrow Greenville
5. YOUR STAR WARS NAME (the first three letters of your last name, first two of your first name): Schne
6. SUPERHERO NAME (2nd favorite color, favorite drink): Rose la Croix (No, that's a soap opera name.)
7. NASCAR NAME (the first names of your grandfathers): Harvey Willis (I cheated--those are their middle names)
8. STRIPPER NAME ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy): Chanel Hershey
9. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME (your fifth grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter): Whittington Wichita
10. SPY NAME (your favorite season/holiday, flower): Spring Bluebonnet (same as Mary Beth)
11. CARTOON NAME (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now): Cherry Sweatshirt
12. HIPPIE NAME (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree): Granola Pecan

If you thought this was fun, feel free to play!