Monday, January 30, 2006

Pom Pom's Got a Treo

First, Homestarrunner paid honor to one of Orin's favorite bits of technology, the Keytar (Strongbad for instance had a KeySwordTar, referenced elsewhere in the blog).

Now they've done it again! In this week's email, Pom Pom uses his cell phone, a Treo, as a piece of Technology.

Those of you familiar enough with Orin, knows he loves his Treo. The wondergadaget has his contacts, datebook, email, websurfing, games, phone, music, movies, and more - all in one compact little machine.

Orin never realized how much he had in common with the residents of Strongbadia. What cultural reference will they think of next??

Catholic Schools Week

Oddwalk just finished its morning of kicking off Catholic Schools week at St. Peter's in Jefferson City, MO. Shannon is a youth minister on the parish side, but of course helps out at the school too when he can. Orin drove in for the day to help out with the two presentations.

Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun with the usual Oddwalk fare, and heard some stories about how to learn and live life with Character, Compassion and Values - the theme of Catholic Schools Week 2006.

Oddwalk then took a brief, self-guided tour of the school addition which is supposed to be ready this fall. Needing hard hats, the two turned to the school Princpal, Dr. Gulino, who provided one usual worksite helmet, and one unusual:

Orin has never looked more natural.

Friday, January 27, 2006

R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.!!

Orin and I want to extend our gratitude to the students and faculty of Bush Elementary School in Fulton, MO for inviting us in to be part of their Friday afternoon assembly today. We had a lot of fun and made a lot of noise. Some of the kids remembered me (Shannon) from when I played at "I Love America" Day in the spring. At that event, I led about 800 kids from the district in the singing of Chickenwire Joe and John Mellencamp's "R.O.C.K in the U.S.A". We did another version of that song today, and the kids did a great job. Today, we also learned a little more about being reliable and what it means to be a friend who can be counted on. We ended our time with a frantic version of Dum-Dum Deedle, and hopefully left the kids out of breath. What a great time!


Monday, January 23, 2006

Funny Punny

Borrowed from Portrait of a Priest:

Two antennaes met on a roof, fell in love, and got married. The wedding wasn't much, but the reception was excellent.

He also has a bit of reflection on the life of Bishop McAuliffe further down in his blog, who is quoted in ours just below.

A quote for thought

Seen in this week's NCR:

"You will not have to fear my use of authority. I will consult you more than you want to be consulted. I will depend on you more than on anyone else."

- Michael F. McAuliffe's message to priests at his installation as bishop of Jefferson City, MO., in 1969. He died Jan. 9.

Paper #1

Well, actually, calling it a paper is perhaps too strong, more a reflection. Anyway, here it is:
The context out of which I come to the study of theology is, I suspect, no more complicated than that of my peers. If our individual contexts may be likened to an array of diamonds, I have no confidence that the facets of mine might make it the most unique. This context, though, has thus far created in me a unique and ongoing search for reason and answers and an open-mindedness towards truth and reality. Perhaps these ideals are most simply evident in what I have come to realize is my first attempt at theology, my first experience of the sacred, and in particular, my first try at communing with the Divine Presence.

I was 4 years old, growing up in a small Minnesotan town. At a Saturday night anticipatory Mass early in the season of Ordinary Time, my dad was glancing at the readings prior to Mass. Looking over, I saw a sketch in the missalette with a caption, and asked my father to explain. The sketch showed an outline of a person with arms stretched up in the air; the caption read, as my dad explained, “Here I am, I come to do your will.” (Roman Catholics just celebrated this same Mass again on January 15.)

“Aha,” I thought to myself, “so that’s how that works. I’ll have to try that at home this week.”

A couple days later, I did. Having announced I was going outside “to play,” I dressed properly for a Minnesota winter. Once out in the backyard, I stretched my hands joyfully and expectantly up to the gloomy sky and without voice prayed what my dad had told me: “Here I am, I come to do your will.”

Waiting a few seconds for a response . . . and receiving none, my 4-year old brain thought, “Well, what’s going on here, what am I doing wrong?” I moved over a few feet, turned another direction and tried again. Still nothing. A bit concerned, I spun around a few times, arms still reaching out. Above, there was still just a gray sky. Disappointedly, I went back inside. In that initial moment, I reasoned that it (whatever “it” was) certainly did not work that way.

This scene became instantly etched in my brain, and has been a true force in my attempts at “faith seeking understanding,” and a reference point to both look back upon and to carry with me. Moments of reflection on this experience have been a transforming teacher to me on several occasions along the way, responding to a series of successive questions of faith: free will, mystery, longing, doubt, and lately, God’s love and nearness to us and our human condition. Why search for answers as I chose to on that day, reaching to the distant and the beyond, when (to paraphrase St. Teresa of Avila) many of the answers we seek can be found in the stillness of our own hearts? To say it another way, reflecting on this experience from time to time has become the ongoing conversation I hoped to have that day in the backyard.

One of my current activities in my faith is a ministry (shared with a friend of mine) of music and keynoting to youth around the country, speaking principally on topics of community, participation, and mission. I tell this story often to the young people we have the privilege to meet as a story about child-like faith, the foundation from which we must build the rest of our Catholic lives and identities.

The story continues even now: the initial question “what am I doing wrong” has transformed into a more positive “what else should I be doing?” My faith is in God. Together with experiences of Christ’s presence and through the wisdom and understanding of the Spirit, such questions are asked and answered anew every day – at least – and are the most clear and obvious elements of context surrounding my study of Theology. While this particular question is still not fully answered and never will be, my realizing of these details and my deepening of faith in the unknown have been perhaps my most important experiences of Theology thus far.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Classes Begin!

What? Didn't school get going last August?

Well, for a lot of people, yes, but not for Orin. He began on Tuesday his pursuit of a Masters Degree in Theology (litugical focus) at Aquinas institute of Theology in St. Louis, near Saint Louis University.

This semester his three classes are: 1) Intro to Theology and Theological Method, 2) Foundations of Moral Theology, and 3) History of the Church II (Reformation to Present)...

I know, how exciting can it get! But my first micro-paper is already due Tuesday. Worry not, it was an easy one: what is the context of your theological studies: questions, experiences, etc. A lot of what Oddwalk does is sharing these questions and experiences with young people - my first paper is essentially a weightier version of a story you all may have heard me tell: 4-year old Orin goes into his backyard to say "Here I am, Lord!" I may post it here eventaully.

Prayers are accepted during this time, as I also have full-time Shrine work, Oddwalk appearances, Chamber Chorus, Archdio Chorus, Shaare Emeth Services (how many of you knew I was plaing at a Jewish Temple now too)...

It should be about 13-14 classes for my degree, hopefully in 3 years or less.

I look forward to deepeing my faith and its understanding and practices, and hopefully sharing a bit of that with you, in a more down-to-earth style.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Where Did He Go?

This weekend, Oddwalk spent time in sunny San Diego, California. We had a great time, met a lot of wonderful people, and managed to scare off a priest. More on that later.

Oddwalk was leading two days of training for youth in the diocese – they have such days every few months. This time around the subject was liturgy. In addition to the fun and zany things that we normally do, we led them through an exercise of being a parish liturgy planning committee. The teens got to experience the whole process of using the readings, the liturgical season, and community events to plan the music for a Sunday Mass. They also had the opportunity to create their own (fictitious) church and parish community. This included a 700-year old “Cathedral of St. Michael” which was named for one of the teens in a group.

We led two days of training. The first day was in San Diego itself. The second day had us traveling two hours away from San Diego to Imperial Valley to repeat the process with another group.

During the “warm-up” section of the second day, we sang our infamous “Matilda the Gorilla” (big surprise there). Sometimes when we do that song, we single out certain people like adults, for instance; when we do that, they have to sing the refrain and do the silly gorilla motions by themselves. That particular day, we decided to also single out the pastor of the hosting church, who was just hanging around watching (and not doing the motions). When we did this he pretended (we thought) to slip through a door to a nearby room to hide. Playing along (we thought), Shannon left the stage and went to go get him to come out of that room and “force” him to do the actions. When he reached the door the priest had gone in to, the door was locked and he didn’t come back out. What we thought was a playful gesture was actually a priest running in fear. We never saw him for the rest of the day. Poor guy.

Our weekend also included (but was not limited to):

- Good looking donkeys
- The cover-band at the airport
- No vegetarian food at the Mexican restaurant (Sorry Janelle)
- Caution, Cassock-Wearing Priest Crossing Ahead (happens all the time)
- A broken chair (Shannon’s doing for once)
- Great views of the city, ocean, and mountains
- Strangely political graffiti in the porta-potty
- Grande Hot Chocolates, times 2.5
- Stinky cows
- Fearless birds at the Harbor
- And Hannah, seen here:
Hannah is the almost 3-year old daughter of Blair, an assistant in the Youth Ministry office in the diocese, and her husband, Dominic. Here, Orin and Hannah were reading Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go” together – Hannah already has this book memorized. Shannon and Orin also had a bit of a game with her – Shannon trying to get a high-five, Orin trying to get a “pinky-shake” from her. In the end, Orin finally got his shake, but Shannon never did get his high-five. He’s not sure how he will be able to carry on.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Probably breaking a commandment...

Would you like to be a god, for a brief, flash-based internet moment?

Smite Thee here.

Racism vs. Racial Prejudice

At "Theology on Tap" the other night (read a bit about it at the above link), the speaker, Danielle, defined racism as "prejudice with power" - that is, being able to do something about your prejudicial ideas.

There was a lot of discussion on what power was, local, national, economic, media, etc...

But what it boiled down to was this: without power, one cannot be a racist, one can simply hold a racial prejudice. Even if you may have a local power, if you, for instance, are a more national minority, then it is still not racism, because eventually you run out of power.


Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Reactions to this image?

Click the image to see a larger version.
I'm curious - do any of you have a strong reaction of any sort to this painting? Oddwalk and our families first saw it at NCYC last fall. We have our own reactions, but will keep them to ourselves for now - what are your reactions to this confluence of imagery, particularly the coming together of the sacred and the patriotic? Comment below!
PS - Click here to see the original artist and comments...

Monday, January 2, 2006

A new baby!


I want to share with you the great news that Erin and I are expecting our second child at the end of August. Erin is currently about 6 weeks along. We both feel very excited and blessed. Please keep our family in your prayers over the coming months.