29 August 2009

Traveling, Traveling

Two interesting travel stories (of a sort) caught my eye in this morning's NYT. The first was one of those periodic road trip accounts that you see now and then and that tend to be pretty entertaining. I love the minivan angle--timely and practical, I thought. Made the notion of the cross-country road trip seem more manageable.

(Speaking of minivans, a brief moment of venting here: A month or so before I moved to Alexandria, I was in a car accident--my fault--and had to have the front passenger door replaced. They put in a refurbished door...and now it won't unlock! I have to climb in the through the back or passenger side doors. And I can't take it back to where I had the work done, because I had the work done 850 miles away. Grrr...)

The second was one I hadn't heard about here but apparently has gotten a lot of attention in Europe. A thirteen-year-old Dutch girl wants to sail around the world by herself. Her parents gave her permission, but the state has intervened to tell her she can't go--at least for now, while they evaluate her fitness for the trip. Fascinating stuff:

She said on a Dutch children’s show this month that she had been sailing solo since age 6 and planning her global voyage for three years.

“I asked my parents if I could — please — start now,” she said, The Associated Press reported.

“In the beginning, they asked if I was sure I really wanted to do it,” she said. “They have sailed around the world, so they know what could happen and that it’s not always fun, but I realize that, too. But I really wanted to do it, so my parents said, ‘Good, we’ll help you.’ ”

She has been practicing her solo skills. Earlier this year, she was picked up in Britain after she was discovered sailing alone to the port of Lowestoft, on the east coast of England. The British authorities ordered her father, Dick Dekker, to go get her. He went, but Laura ended up sailing home alone, according to news reports.

Caroline Vink, a social worker at the Netherlands Youth Institute in Utrecht, a research organization that advises the government on youth policy, said Laura’s case was not clear-cut because she was obviously a talented and passionate sailor capable of great things. But she stressed that, ultimately, “the state and society had a moral obligation to intervene when the safety of a child was at risk.”

The ruling came from a district court in Utrecht, which said she could continue living with her father during the assessment of the trip’s risk. Laura was not in the courtroom, The A.P. reported. She was out sailing.

27 August 2009

Critic Signing Off

Final columns by long-time writers are a fascinating genre all their own. I like the way NYT restaurant critic Frank Bruni handled it yesterday: by collecting a list of "questions that [he] was often asked or that [he] wished [he]’d been asked, along with responses." Here's my favorite:


Scratch off the appetizers and entrees that are most like dishes you’ve seen in many other restaurants, because they represent this one at its most dutiful, conservative and profit-minded. The chef’s heart isn’t in them.

Scratch off the dishes that look the most aggressively fanciful. The chef’s vanity — possibly too much of it — spawned these.

Then scratch off anything that mentions truffle oil.

Choose among the remaining dishes.

23 August 2009


In this week's video post: brats and beer, baseball, and biblical languages. Two of the three required an umbrella.

Glad Someone Else Mentioned This

Earlier today, Anglican Centrist asked a question that I've been wondering about myself and will paraphrase here: where's the media tumult over the recent decision by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Churchwide Assembly "to open the ministry of the church to gay and lesbian pastors and other professional workers living in committed relationships"?

Don't get me wrong. I'm from the heart of Lutheran country and have a great love and respect for the ELCA; I'm happy that so far they at least seem to have been partly spared the kind of oversimplified, conflict-emphasizing mass media attention the Episcopal Church was subject to last month. Of course, that doesn't mean things are going to be any easier within their Church, so I hope you'll join me in keeping the ELCA (and the Episcopal Church) in your thoughts and/or prayers during what's sure to be a difficult time for both.

Getting back to the question, though, here's my thinking:

(1) I get the impression this decision has a smaller international impact than ours does. I'm not a demographer of religion, but I believe the Anglican Communion is larger and (perhaps more relevantly) more culturally heterogeneous than the Lutheran World Federation. There may be ecclesial reasons as well. Am I on the right track, anyone who actually knows something about this? I'm woefully ignorant of global Lutheranism.

(2) I wonder if perhaps since the Episcopal coverage hits so much closer to home for me, I'm only perceiving the Lutheran coverage to be more muted. Note that, like me, Anglican Centrist seems to have started out this general line of thinking when noticing the lack of coverage in the New York Times (I don't read the print version but do get a daily headlines email from which this story has been persistently absent). But The Times may not be a very good proxy given the Episcopal Church's ties to New York. Do any trained media-types have suggestions for a more systematic comparison? I'm guessing it would be necessary to give it some time; of course there's currently more coverage out there of something that happened in mid-July than of something that happened Friday.

What am I leaving out? This is obviously a complex and difficult question to answer well.

15 August 2009

(Video) Greetings from Alexandria

Well, I've emerged from the minor ordeal that was finishing up a master's thesis (an interesting process that probably deserves further reflection at another time), recovering from same, and moving across the country. So I wanted to start checking in (hopefully regularly) about my somewhat different new digs and educational context. Most of you know, I think, that I've started studies at Virginia Theological Seminary with the eventual hope of becoming an Episcopal priest. I've had a week or so to get settled here, and it's definitely starting to feel enough like home to overcome the effects of the waning post-move adrenaline.

I'm sure I'll have plenty of thoughts to share about this place, but for now let it suffice to say that a big part of why I was so excited about coming here is that the school seemed genuinely committed to the importance of formation in community and to fostering an atmosphere conducive to that work. I'm thankful that so far it has not disappointed.

Anyway, I was saying to a friend of mine before I left that I somehow felt like video blogging might be an especially good way to communicate some of my experience down here. I haven't totally figured out why I think that or whether I'm right, but see below for a minor dipping-in-of-toes to that ocean. Let me know if there's anything in particular you'd like to know about my life or studies down here. I'd love to try to stay connected in as authentic a way as possible--even if I do look and feel a little silly.