Sunday, May 28, 2006


We are headed out tomorrow for a month-long road trip.

The itinerary, roughly: South to Chapel Hill to spend two days with the Schwabs and Weatherlys. Then westward to Denver, more or less directly: through Tennessee, to Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, and then through the pretty parts of northern New Mexico--Taos again--and to Denver to see John. Then we'll wend our way ever westward through southern Utah and northern Arizona (Canyonlands again), or maybe Nevada (Great Basin?), out to Berkeley for a day or two to touch base with classics folk. Then north to Seattle to see my family for the first time since Thanksgiving. Then eastward, through Havre, Montana, where my grandfather grew up, and then either we'll turn south and go east through Wyoming and states at that latitude, or keep following the Great Northern through North Dakota, St. Cloud, Minnesota (the Schwabs' ancestral home), and so on, depending on how much time we have left before returning to Charlottesville to celebrate Deacon Chris's tenth anniversary at Incarnation.

(And THEN we'll go to the Schwabs' lake house on the VA/NC border! Anyone wanna catsit for really cheap? Well, we have a catsitter lined up, but this'll add up.)

Pray for a safe journey, and that gas doesn't get any more expensive.

We'll have a laptop with us, so as opportunity and wireless hubs allow, I'll blog our journey and hopefully post pictures.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Our kitchen

I finally cleaned our kitchen today so that it's as clean as it's been since we moved in. It will probably never be this clean again. But I wanted to take pictures of my favorite room in our condo to show those of you who live in Seattle.

When we first decided to move back to Charlottesville, we found our apartment on the Internet and sent Heidi to look at the apartment. Based on the floor plan, we were pretty much sold on this place as long as it didn't have rats or a meth lab next door, because pretty much any apartment you could expect to find here would be better than what we had. I don't know offhand of any tiny two-bedroom, very basic apartments in complexes that look like a 1950s motel in this town. Anyway, Heidi said we'd love the kitchen, which had just been remodeled, and that sealed the deal. Also gave us added incentive to buy it when we got the chance. It's like getting a free new kitchen, except, um, we had to pay for the whole house.

This view takes in most of the kitchen.

I love it. There is a ton of work space and storage space (and the cabinets are pretty attractive), and it's very well lit; in addition to the ceiling lighting, there's a light over the counter on the wall. There are more electric sockets than I could possibly ever use, and I do use a lot of them. There is a dishwasher and a gas oven and stove. The only thing I would add is a garbage disposal, but I can live without that.

This used to be a galley kitchen with a separate dining room (and that's what we saw on the floor plan), but they took down the wall and opened it up, so there's a lot more light and work/cabinet space than there is in the other townhouses in the complex. I kind of liked the idea of having a separate dining room, but on the other hand it's nice to be able to talk to someone who's at the table while you're working in the kitchen, or while they're doing the dishes and you're relaxing (which is what happens when Laura-the-best-guest-ever comes over!).

The opposite perspective, from near the stove:

The dining table is cluttered--that's the one thing I didn't clean, because I needed somewhere to put all the junk that's usually on the kitchen island. Oh well. This used to be my great-grandmother's dining set and has made the rounds of nearly all the Crawford households. Two of the chairs are upstairs at our desks because, well, we need more chairs. The two drop leaves are extended, and if we really wanted to have a party we could put in the two leaves that are just leaning against the wall right now (but then we'd need more chairs).

I also have that great little bookcase for cookbooks and my stereo. My cookbook collection is rapidly expanding, and until now I haven't been able to keep them in the kitchen--although in Berkeley they were practically in the kitchen because nothing in that apartment was far from anything else.

Another wonderful feature of our kitchen is that it opens onto a nice little balcony. You can sort of see the plants I'm growing out there--mostly herbs, and a tomato plant. Phoebe likes to go out, but we have to keep an eye on her so she doesn't hop on the railing and visit the neighbors.

Monday, May 15, 2006


In my reading I've come across a ninth-century scholar, Claude of Turin, who sounds interesting (he is apparently one of the least boring early medieval biblical commentators), so I googled him. Nearly all of the results are from highly Protestant websites about people who were real Christians in the dark ages of unreformed Christianity. Interesting!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

R is for...

Another meme, this time from Laura. Here I list ten things in my life that start with the letter "R." If you want to play (just post in my comments), I'll choose another letter for you.

1. Rome. I have been to Rome three times: as an undergraduate classics student during Spring Quarter of 1997, on a shorter trip with my friend Helene in 2000, and in the summer of 2002 for Reginald Foster's Aestivae Romae Latinitatis. I love everything about Rome: the history, the architecture, the archaeological sites, the food, the people, the multitudes of feral cats... And, of course, I met Justin the last time I was there! Rome is the best.

2. Road trips. I've discovered that traveling around this country is almost as fun as going to Rome. For ages I was a Euro-snob and associated road trips with childhood unpleasantness, but Justin introduced me to real road-tripping, which doesn't stink and brings us to all the beautiful and interesting places that comprise this huge, crazy country.

3. Rain. I grew up in Seattle. "Rain" was the first r-word I thought of, even before Rome, which should tell you something.

4. Red. I love red! Especially dark wine/garnet red. When I got married, I wore red shoes, had my bridesmaids wear red, and carried red roses down the aisle. I wear red all the time, and garnets are my favorite gemstone. It's not my birthstone, but I don't care.

5. Roman Catholic Church. I converted to Catholicism four years ago. I like being Catholic. And it makes going to Rome (see #1) even more exciting.

6. Religious studies. Supposedly I'm getting a PhD in it. I have an MA in comparative religion, although I still don't know how you compare religions.

7. Romance languages. (Do all these derivatives of Rome count? Sure, why not!) I know Latin. I can get by in Italian and read it fairly well. I can read French, though I can't speak it for the life of me. I live among, and go to church with, a lot of people whose native language is Spanish.

8. Ronel. Ronel is my nephew. He's ten. He is probably the easiest and most pleasant kid in the world to hang out with.

9. Reading. Justin and I read a lot. We own thousands of books (literally, at least 2000 and probably more). We kidnap books from libraries and hold onto them until they're recalled, which is sometimes never. I've been reading for a quarter-century at least.

10. Rachmaninov. Rachmaninov's Vespers are my current favorite classical/sacred music. I included one of them ("Bogoroditse Devo") in my wedding. I sang them with a community choir in Berkeley. They are really pretty, and you should listen to them sometime if I haven't inflicted them on you already.

Anyone else?


This is from a book Justin's reading called Jimmy Carter's Betrayal of the South, by Jeffrey St. John, who "characterizes himself as 'an independent conservative'" according to his bio. Publication info is missing, but it's clearly from about the fall of 1976, when I was a wee bald toddler and Justin was not yet born.

Former U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy, a liberal Democrat from Minnesota, told this writer in an interview shortly before Carter was nominated that he feared the former Georgia governor "supported the somewhat aggressive and imperial presidency" and that his talk of marrying theology with presidential power in the name of reestablishing the national moral leadership was a throwback to the concept of the Divine Right of Kings doctrine....

Jimmy Carter is the first presidential candidate in modern times openly to advocate the marriage of his private religious convictions with the vast public powers of the presidency. In the past, the religious convictions of the President have always remained a private matter. Also, one of the great strengths of Christianity has been the doctrine of personal salvation for those who turned, not to the leadership of government for their moral values and guidance, but to a religious credo separate from the secular state. Carter clearly is espousing a doctrine of moral salvation through politics. Without realizing it, perhaps, this is also a form of idolatry.

A lot has changed since then. Heck, a lot changed between 1976 and 1980. This period has always interested me: how did Carter, who ran as a "born-again Christian," lose the support of fellow evangelicals so quickly, and lose them for the Democrats so permanently? That's the dissertation I would write, if I studied American religious history and not very dead sorta white guys.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Charlie's first communion

Yesterday Charlie, the son of a couple that sings in the 11:30 choir, received his first communion. Father Gregory likes to quiz the kids, who are all about eight years old, and it's fun to hear their answers. Last week he asked how they had prepared for first communion, and one girl said, "By drinking grape juice." This week Charlie said at the end of the mass that his first communion was "a whole bunch of fun."

My favorite Charlie quote was a few years ago during the Palm Sunday reading from the Gospel of Mark. When Jesus cried out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Charlie exclaimed, "That's TERBIBLE!" Well, almost as favorite as when he came up to me at our reception and told me our wedding was beautiful. So naturally I think Charlie is great.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Crabtree Falls

This weekend, Justin's friend Jove and his girlfriend Kris visited us, finally reciprocating for all the times we've crashed at their place in DC. We went hiking at Crabtree Falls, in Nelson County near the Blue Ridge Parkway. (In researching this hike I discovered there's also a Crabtree Falls in North Carolina off the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is very confusing!)

It's difficult, if not impossible, to photograph the whole waterfall, which stairsteps down along the trail, but here are a few pictures of mini-falls:

Friday, May 05, 2006

Why movie critics are not the same as religious scholars

Roger Moore, the movie blogger for the Orlando Sentinel, writes about The Da Vinci Code and Catholic critics thereof:

Frankly, I am REALLY interested in this, now. Yeah, it's fiction. Fact checking it is probably a lot more fun for these religious scholars than say, footnoting the Bible..."This creation myth dates from the Sumerians...and this Flood myth comes from...This 'book' was written hundreds of years after the man died, and edited by idealogues with an ax to grind. So we're not really sure if these quotes are accurate. And really, you DO have to take somebody's word that A) they heard a voice and B) that the voice was a god. PS, King James had his own agenda when his poets transcribed the book into Elizabethan verse."

Yeah, that's all great, except

1. the canonical gospels were not written "hundreds of years" after "the man" (ecce homo!) died, but decades, and

2. The Catholic Church doesn't use the King James Version (obviously, because it was translated by Protestants!) So why are you bringing it up, except to show off your graduate education in "English-Criticism" (hyphen not mine)?

And if you want a Bible with footnotes, they certainly exist. Translated straight from Hebrew and Greek by modern scholars, even! Fancy that!

I'm also a little peeved that people who criticize TDVC are "cashing in" on the phenomenon, while the author who has sold 40 million copies and the movie rights isn't cashing in on stuff he made up. And now you're drawing attention to yourself by writing stuff you made up about church history. How much are you paid as a movie critic to write about things you don't know about?

/rant (brought to you for free by an actual student of religion)

Via Open Book.

Rethinking "Gnosticsm"

Someone finally quoted my MA adviser, Michael Williams, in an article about Gnosticism! Of course it was the Chronicle of Higher Education, and they're probably better than the media in general at knowing who the experts are. I don't know why he doesn't get quoted more often, because he was writing about "Gnosticism," and questioning its validity as a category, before it was cool. He's not an attention-seeking sort of guy, which might have something to do with it.

Anyway, I am not sure how the anti-Da Vinci Code crowd will feel about Williams vs. Elaine Pagels, Karen King, et al, but I think this is a good point:

The various strands of belief that are labeled as Gnostic, says Mr. Williams, "were attempts at religious innovation that did not enjoy majority success. What came to be orthodox Christianity did. I treat them sociologically to understand why they were minority movements."

In other words, despite the occasional modern appeal of "Gnosticism" as something shiny and different and countercultural (and its legitimate appeal as an area of study in the field of antiquity), most ancient people found it unappealing, and they voted with their feet. This sociological approach, although not theological, is constructive in its own way. It's what Rodney Stark does in The Rise of Christianity, a successful explanation of why Christianity grew from a tiny sect of Judaism to a world religion in a relatively short span of time, without military conquest or state support for most of that period. (Stark used to be a colleague of Williams' at the UW.)

I have no problem with saying that the modern view of orthodox Christianity as "normative" came about not because The Winners Write History, but because it is obvious to most people that orthodoxy is just better. It respects the whole person, body and spirit, it treats the scriptures as a unified text and not two accounts of two radically different gods, it doesn't withold God's revelation from anyone, no matter how's just better.

Monday, May 01, 2006


If you are in Seattle, drink this:

Dad's former partner and his son are opening a brew pub on 35th Ave. in Wedgwood.

Quote from yesterday's homily

This is for Andrea:

"St. Mechtild of Magdeburg, to whom I know you all have a particular devotion..."

She wrote this:

When are we like God? I will tell you.
In so far as we love compassion and practice it steadfastly,
to that extent do we resemble the heavenly Creator
who practices these things ceaselessly in us.

Homily here
. I should note they record the 9:30 mass, but the 11:30 is usually better because there are fewer children (I don't mind them in person, but they're really loud in audio) and Father Gregory seems to pick up steam between masses.

(I initially wrote that they "tape" the mass, but then I realized that they probably don't. Isn't that weird? I feel so old now.)

It was about love, which seems like it'd be played, but there can never be too much said about love. This was a good homily, because I remembered it afterwards, and it gave me something to chew on. For example:

"Are we so zealous in defending a principle that we are not sensitive to the person with whom we are in disagreement?"

Yes. Which is why I'm taking a break from getting into debates on other people's blogs.

Die, cockroach, DIE!

I just sprayed into oblivion a big fat nasty ugly cockroach in our full bathroom. Eww eww eww eww eww eww eww. I didn't get anywhere near it, but I feel like I have to take a shower now, but it was in the shower, and so...yeah. Hmm. I'm going to have scary insect dreams now. Justin's visiting friends in D.C. so he isn't here to protect me from the vermin.

This is a question for those of you who have spent more total time in Virginia than I have: are roaches normal around here? I never ever had roaches in my old apartment, except for one when I first moved in who I think hitched a ride with my stuff somewhere between Seattle and Charlottesville. This is the first one I've killed in our condo, but I've seen one on our balcony and picked up another dead one just inside the glass door. This is NOT COOL.