Sunday, December 31, 2006

the Christian mind

about a year ago my friend Cathy & I went to hear Donald Miller speak (author of Blue Like Jazz...). he was speaking to a group of college students. i was blown away by his ability to share the story of the gospel like a poet would--and his audience was captivated. i turned to Cathy & remarked on this, and we wondered together how the college students were themselves going to be able to learn that skill.

there is a generation of us that grew up with much modern teaching--orthodox beliefs, apologetics. we were a literate generation--less literate than our parents, perhaps, but we still grew up in the era of network television and without mtv. we grew up without the internet, without many electronics. our imaginations were stimulated by mere words, and our past time was often reading or imaginative games that we created ourselves--because those were the only options we had.

but the generation that comes after us--the mtv, IM, podcast generations, these are the generations of the illiterate. yes, they can read, but most do not read to learn, to explore, to expand their minds. they read only when they have to, and are very disengaged at that. if you doubt it, ask any educator who's been working over the last 10 years. even at my law school, the professors have seen a dramatic drop in reading and comprehension abilities. and we haven't even touched on the lack of an attention span!

so Cathy and I asked ourselves who is going to come up with a way to teach this generation what they need to know to really share the gospel--really interact with their peers, based on the foundation of orthodox faith and doctrine, yet able to communicate on the post-modern level, able to tell the story of God.

today i went to a session about apologetics for the post-modern person by James Emery White. amazing scholar. his solution to post-modern apologetics is what he calls a "Christian mind." a mind that is literate in culture and ideas, a mind submitted to God and educated in the origins of western thought. he claims, along with others before him, that the battle for culture and souls is fought in the marketplace of ideas.

and i just sat there thinking that surely all is lost then. if literacy is all we have as an option, then we have already lost this generation to a spirituality that does not have anything to do with God. because this generation will not read. sure, there may be some who choose to educate themselves and enter the upper eschelons of educated society, and influence culture on a meta-scale. but by and large, this generation will go to their graves without knowledge of the living God because their peers will not do the work of developing a "Christian mind."

so what should the church do, then? is all lost because this Christian mind was not developed in our Christian families, in our churches, even in our Christian educational institutions?

i don't know. i don't have another solution to this problem yet. i want to believe that the story of Christ and his blood can be told, a person can answer the "so what?!" question to the Christian story, and this generation can come to Christ. but how?

what other options do we have?

Friday, December 29, 2006

social justice

today's students seem to be incredibly socially aware--educating themselves about AIDS, poverty, global warming, & other environmental concerns. and probably as with just about anything else, more students are talking about it than are actually doing anything.

still, i think it's safe to say that students are aware of these issues. maybe it's true that the entire generation has this awareness, and not just the students. at any rate, i think that it's safe to say that the church/followers of Christ will not be respected if they do not care about these issues. put another way, a group of Christ-followers that is involved in doing something about social issues will gain immediate respect and will have a voice in today's culture.

social justice will never replace sharing the message of the gospel. but social justice lends authenticity to this message. it brings the love & live of God to that incarnational level--meeting people where they are at. it puts skin on the values and character traits that God possesses. it becomes the platform or the common ground from which we are able to speak.

but let us be wise as we begin to enter in. let us choose to seek the underlying problems, & not just the symptoms. let us educate ourselves, and use the innovation that is unique to our culture. but let us also not forget to act within relationships. let us not forget to enter cultures and problems first as observers and learners. and let us always seek to be led by the Spirit in all things.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

inductive study

one really interesting connection between law and faith is inductive study. when i started law school i couldn't believe how my practice in hermeneutics & inductive study helped me to learn to read cases. and now that i've been inductively reading cases for a couple of years, i have learned a lot about how to inductively study the Bible.

this morning we sat in a room of almost 200 students and did inductive Bible study together. we did it in a big group and in small groups. we were encouraged to observe, then ask questions, then try to answer them, and always to apply what we'd read & learned. the teacher didn't give a lecture, but led us through the process of reading and studying the scripture to learn what it says for ourselves. it was great. and people were engaged. and he didn't just let anyone give an opinion that was wrong, and let that fly... we weren't making the passage say just anything. when a student said something that was clearly deductive--a reading of his own opinion into the text--that student was corrected. so i think that the dangers that are often seen in small group studies as opposed to lecture can be worked around.

i think it's easier to go from inductive study to application than from lecture to application. if it's true that the point of gaining knowledge about God is to apply what we know, then that's important. when people inductively study and are involved in the process, then they are already active. it's way easier to go from that to asking "how does this apply to my life?" and then to actually apply it. at least it's easier for me.

i've got to be honest, i spend so much of my life listening to lecture, that i disengage when i'm there. i don't listen to sermons. part of it is just that i am inundated with noise and information from all sides all the time. it is not an effective way for me to learn or to be challenged to grow. but i love to study, i love to use my mind to draw conclusions, i love to make the jump from knowledge from application.

i suppose that someone might say that that's just me--that i'm built mentally to do that kind of work, but that not everyone is. and that may be true. but how many of our churches are made up of educated people, people who are more than capable of understanding the process of inductive study? and how many of us, with just a little help, could learn to use the vast resources that are available to us?

wouldn't it be better then, to teach that way in our churches? to equip people to actually learn and grow on their own and in smaller communities where there is accountability & space and time to learn and grow?

i don't know. but as i re-imagine church for our emergent service, and as i think ahead toward being involved in church development and discipleship, i want to remember that this is an option. i want to remember that because of the education level of the church in the US, because of the access to information, we can do community learning in ways other than one person getting up to speak every Sunday. in fact, it just might be more effective for the younger generations.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

remembering mission

there is a whole generation who waits--they are waiting to leave their mark and to see the word change. they are waiting and looking for a wold that bears the mark of the impact of God--of his Spirit. And they see beyond borders, nationalities, ethnicities, philosophies.

and why not? they are the first generation to grow up where those things that separated the generations before became irrelevant. air travel, technology, the internet... we truly live in a global village.

i got on a bus this morning to travel to the Urbana student missions convention with a bus full of college students. i was amazed to hear how many of them live with mission, seeking to change the world for the kingdom of God. unfettered by life's mistakes, and even adult responsibilities, their futures stand open before them, pages yet to be written.

and i am amazed. in my small corner of adult life, in a religious town where few have vision beyond their own backyards, i forget.

i forget that i am not the only one who sees a whole big world out there. i forget that i am not alone in believing that God wants to reach the world with the hope and truth of his love.

and i remember. i remember that what seems impossible and impassible for one person--one Christian even--is more than possible with God, if only we can see each other and work together.

and i am stunned, again, at the enormous potential that this generation possesses to change the world. and i want to be a part of it.

and that's why i am at urbana again. i am not willing to leave behind the idealism and mission i found in my youth. i am not willing to resign myself to believing and living like my corner of the world is the only one there is, or that the small insignificant details of life are all that life adds up to.

and so i'll pray again for God to move in me--to show me what he wants me to do, where he wants me to go, and who he wants me to be. i'll remember mission, and i will recommit my life to it, so that in this time of decisions, i will not settle for less.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

digging out & shredding it up

so i just spent three days cleaning and organizing my whole house. i totally rearranged my bedroom & moved my desk into my roommate's old room. i created files for a bunch of paperwork that's been just sitting around waiting to be organized. it was SO MUCH WORK. it was like moving. i hate moving, and i now think it's because i have to deal with all the little stuff that accumulates during life.

like what is it with paper? magazines, junk mail, documents from vendors. it's all over the place. i filled 4 trash bags full of shredded material. we're talking about a solid 4-5 hours of shredding paper. i must have put about 14 bags and boxes of junk in the trash. it's just the stuff that you don't really need, but somehow finds its way into your house anyway. ugh. but now if i move sometime next year, it should be relatively painless. i've just gotten rid of just about everything that i don't really want around.

so anyway, now it's time to relax for a bit. i get to see a good friend tomorrow. then i'll go and visit an old friend on friday. those should be really enjoyable times. i haven't done any thinking. i haven't even done any reading. funny, since i read 5 300 page books during the last half of exam week. but now i really feel like i can relax. i've got my life back.

and i'm off to Urbana right after Christmas. it should be a great conference, and i'm looking forward to having time to process and think and pray some more about my future. it's always such a great time of hanging out with like-minded people and being exposed to interesting thoughts and opportunities. can't wait! 7 days to go.

i'm hoping to have more to say when i start pondering things again. i just need a short mental break while i have the chance.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

final finals

exam week is the most relaxed week of school for me. odd--i know. but true. i do all my reading in the first 10 weeks of school. then i spend the next 4-5 weeks just studying. by the time exams come, i just want someone to hand me the test so i can take it. i've studied so much i'm tired of the material. and i get the test it's like a game--how can i show off everything that i know within the context of the test?

this semester i wasn't able to get as much studying done in my normal sequence. so it was just today that i got to the point that i can't stand to spend another minute studying. it's much better timing than than normal because i have my first exam tomorrow night. the last exam will be friday night. and then i'm done with exams for the rest of law school. crazy.

so it's the night before the exam, and i'm sitting here not doing anything. i could start a book, but then i'd have to finish it before i go to sleep, and i don't think there's enough time. i could start on some of my after-exam projects, but i am supposed to be resting & reserving my energy for exams. so i'm not sure what i'm going to do tonight. i hate feeling like i'm wasting time.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

early december update

well, i got a job for after i take the bar exam. yay! i'm going to be staying in my city & working for the state court of appeals. i'm excited about the job, and excited that i don't have to think about it anymore. now i can just concentrate on exams, the bar exam, and other things in life.

speaking of exams, next week i have my last 2 law school exams. next semester i have all practical classes--no exams there. i am so happy about this. i haven't particularly enjoyed my subjects this semester, and i'm looking forward to getting to the just plain writing and practical application of the law. i think my summer job spoiled me a little bit, because i got to see how the law actually works. that is much more interesting than just memorizing general legal concepts. so... all is well.

our new church service is in something like its 11th week. we've been having a good time. i can't say that it's exceptionally different from a normal, traditional service. i think we have more time & space for reflection. our communication style is to tell stories. we try not to be too presentational (as opposed to interactive). i think that we're forming a kind of community. we're living out the values that we speak as a group. we're working on getting people involved in the community. all really positive things. and i enjoy being a part of the leadership team.

but to tell you the truth, i'm not sure that i would go if i weren't in leadership. this has nothing to do with the service--if i was going to go to a service, i would definitely choose that one. it's just--i am not all that interested in the service time. i really just want to live life alongside other people. it's really hard to do that in a service because they're so big. and they tend to be focused on a speaker & what that speaker has to say.

many times in my life, God used speakers in services, camps, and special events to speak into my life. so i'm not discounting the value of those things. but it does me very little good to hear new information if i'm not putting it into practice. and it's easier to put it into practice among a group of people who are all walking the same direction.

so anyway... i don't know what to think about that. i don't know if it's a phase in my own life, a reaction to the organized/institutional church, or something else. but it's kind of where i'm at at the moment. that might explain why i'm a part of 2 different small groups at my church, and why i think of our times of teaching & fellowship of more like church to me. at any rate, i'm glad that i have so many great relationships with people there.

alright--i'm off to class. i'll try to post again soon.

Friday, November 24, 2006


picture this: an airport totally congested because flights are all delayed. people are sitting around, long faces--disappointed, frustrated, annoyed, just wishing they could get home. no telling when things will pick up and people will be able to leave again.

and then, a woman whips out a dancing snowman, turns it on, and the whole airport lights up, and people start singing. not only that--they're suddenly happy, enjoying life again, in spite of the circumstances. and this goes on for quite a while, and when the flights are finally called again, people are having too much fun to get on the plane.

and this is the picture that Hallmark wants you to believe is reality. they actually advertise for people to buy a dancing/singing snowman using this little life picture. things are bad, woman whips out snowman, everyone is happy.

i am simply stunned by this--stunned by these ads every Christmas. i can't believe that they try to paint their little nick knacks as the answer to frustration and bad attitudes. i can't believe that they actually sell these little snowmen by advertising this way. do people actually buy into this story? i can't even imagine it.

so yeah. i don't even know why i write about this, except that it just amazes me every holiday season. i can't even figure out what it says about our culture. i just find it fascinating.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

the holidays

today i decorated for christmas. a couple of days ago i was running through some songs on my guitar to use at church on sunday nights. it's amazing how the music sets the mood. so today i got out my christmas lights & the baby christmas tree that my mom got me when i went to college. it's about 2 feet tall. anyway, i have regular sized ornaments on it, as well as tiny ones, so it looks kind of charlie brownish. but that's alright. and the christmas lights are all around the ceiling of my living room. the atmosphere is great.

i didn't decorate for christmas at all last year. i didn't even really celebrate it. so this year i guess i'm making up for it by decorating early.

i'm off to our sun. night service community dinner, and then we'll all go to the all-church thanksgiving service. it should be a good time to just talk with people. as the guitar-player/music leader, i don't have a lot of time to chat with people on sunday nights.

tomorrow i start the hard-core studying for exams. i hope i'll be able to muster up the motivation.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

and so it begins

i downloaded the dreaded bar exam application yesterday. i even started filling parts of it out. the part where you apply to take the exam is not the awful part--it's actually pretty simple. the difficult part is the character & fitness portion. you have to list where you've lived and worked back to the time you're 16. but you also have to list an address for any trip or vacation where you've spent more than 2 weeks--2 weeks! i can't even guarantee that i remember all the places where i've spent more than 2 weeks.

the good news is that working for the feds this summer required me to already compile most of this information. the bad news is that i have to get fingerprinted--again. and this time i also have to request information from police departments in places where i've been for more than 2 weeks--just a report saying whether or not they've investigated me for anything.

so anyway, thus begins the nightmare. and i thought i was actually going to get a break over break. it's not looking so good, now.

Monday, November 13, 2006


this process of deciding what to do with my law degree is a very interesting process.

since i started interviewing this fall i've been thinking a lot about what i actually want to do when i'm done. i've been taking inventories of my passions/gifts/desires. i've been praying a lot about how God might want to use the skill that i've learned. and i've attended the interviews.

and honestly, i think i'd be happiest working for myself, or working part time, and having the rest of my time & energy left over to do other things. i still want to be a part of ministry in the church--more specifically of assisting the church in its relationship with other cultures--including the greater secular culture or just cross-cultures within the church and community.

i didn't go to law school to get a career. i went because i wanted to find a way to support myself, to do something practical and concrete for the cause of justice, and to give myself the freedom and ability to give my time away.

it would be so easy to follow a particular path to a career. it's what everyone thinks is supposed to happen--you get a job, make lots of money, etc. it would be so easy to get sucked in to that. but that's not what i want. that's not why i came. i don't want prestige, and i don't even want power. if God puts me in a position of power, then i'll try to use it for justice, but if i never have it i won't be sad.

i want to write. i want to write about legal policies that need to be changed. but more than that i want to write for the church about culture and beliefs. i want to give my time to people--to the church, and also in the trenches so that i know what laws need to be changed and what would actually be helpful.

so i don't know. this all makes me think i should take the job in my city even if i get an offer to do policy/advocacy research. because long-term, i don't want to be committed to just one cause. i want to have the freedom to do a lot of different things. and staying here, paying off my bills, and getting contacts within the legal world here. i just think i'd have lots of options if i do that.

so i don't know, though. i don't want to choose the wrong thing or miss out on a career if that's what i'm supposed to do. i don't want to foreclose that option prematurely. i'll keep you posted on where i end up. it's a lot to think about.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


i've managed to exhaust myself to the point of getting sick. just a little sick, but i'll get sicker if i don't get some rest.

the last weeks have been crazy. way too crazy. i think it'll slow down now & be mostly study time.

i got my first job offer this last week. i can stay here in my city and work for the court of appeals in my state. it's a research & writing job--not quite a judicial clerk, but close. and it would allow me to stay here, pay off my bills, and get into a position where i can have a lot of freedom to do whatever kind of law i decide i want to do. i really want to stay here & do this. but i have to wait to decide until i hear from the fellowship that i applied to. if i make it to a second interview i think i have to follow through, just to see if i would be better off to start there.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


so i was in the airport last night, trying to get on my flight. i got up to the security checkpoint and discovered that the power was out throughout the entire airport. i wasn't going anywhere soon. as the minutes crept by, the people around me were getting more and more anxious. and then suddenly, everyone was on their cell phones. they were calling friends and family to reschedule plans. they were calling assistants to try to get information on whether planes were taking off without us. they were calling the airlines to try to reschedule flights.

and i just stood there. i don't have a cell phone. there was no one for me to call anyway. there was nothing i could do.

and so i observed. it was so interesting. first, we have very busy lives. i had scheduled a full day--thursday night i had class, so i couldn't leave on thursday. so friday morning i got on a plane, made one connection, and then arrived at my destination a little before noon. i had an interview at 2pm, and then i was to get back on the plane on friday around 5. i should have returned by 8. i had a test this morning an hour away from my house that i had to get back for.

why in the world do i believe that i can arrange my life like that? i can fly 800 miles round trip in one day, and sandwich in an interview between a night class and a morning test. why do i arrange my life like that? because i can. but should i? really?

what about time for people, relationships, family, church? is our life, technically advanced as it is, really better than the days that people lived in one place, traveled less, and actually had time to live life? i don't know what to conclude about that. i just know that when i fill up my life with things--just because i can--i end up feeling like i'm not really living.

second, it was really interesting to me that people wouldn't just stand there in line, waiting. we americans can't stand to wait. this situation was vastly beyond our control. the electricity was either going to come on, or it wasn't. the planes were leaving, or they were waiting for us. there was absolutely nothing that any of us could do. but i was amazed at how people did what they could to fix the situations that they were in. for the most part, all their efforts were in vain. but at least people felt like they were doing something about the situation. no one could stand to just wait.

and i wondered how that translates to our spiritual lives. the lack of an ability to wait seems to be a cultural phenomenon. we want things done right, and we want those things to happen right now. but i don't think that in the spritual realm things always happen that way. there are times when waiting is necessary, when God asks us to simply wait on him and trust. and there's something within us that doesn't want to do that. we want to fix it--to make things happen--to get ourselves out of the situation.

i think we have to work on that. i know that i have to work on it. i like for things to be settled and sure. if they're not that way, i'm not terribly patient while i work to make them that way. but there are times when i have to just wait. i'm kind of in one of them now, as i explore and try to hear God's direction for my future.

the good news is that the power came on again after about an hour & a half. a wonderful ticket agent got me on a flight with a different airline and i made it home just a couple hours late. i actually made it to my test this morning and was awake enough to take it.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

one trial down

so tonight was my first trial. most people had partners, but i had to work alone. there were some good & some bad things about that. when i made a mistake, there was no one to catch it or fix it but me. but i got tons of practice.

there is momentum to trial. once it starts, you can't really stop it. you're off & running, and there's nothing to do but go along for the ride. so that's why preparation is so important, i think. you have to anticipate where that momentum will take you. and to some extent you have to control the momentum & make it work for you. it is a bit overwhelming, actually.

but overall i did a good job, according to the teacher. i nailed the closing argument. my opening statement was too short. apparently i did fairly well on the direct examination, evidentiary issues, and other such things. overall, i did a good job. so that's good.

my witness was awesome. i had my friend (who's not in the class--actually she's not even in law school) play 2 different witnesses. she did great. she was a drama queen, but still got out there everything that needed to be said. she was super-easy to work with. so that's great. for the next 2 trials my partner will be playing my witness, so that will be nice too.

anyway, fun stuff. 2 more trials to go. i've got one week til the next one.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

interview reports

well... the first two interviews of the week went very well.

monday's was the interview with the advocacy/policy clinic. i would absolutely love the work. the people seem really, really nice. it's completely the reason i went to law school. i think if the job was offered i would have to take it. but i'm not so gung ho about moving to that state for 2 years, and then having to look for a job and get established all over again. so there are really great things about it, and not so great things about it. i should know by the 15th whether i'll have a second interview with them.

interview 2 was yesterday--at my state court of appeals doing the initial case analysis. it would be a great job, and a great place to start. after a couple of years there i would have already been able to pay off all loans and maybe have saved up some money so i could go off on my own or have the flexibility to be more creative with my legal career. it would also allow me to stay in my city & continue to contribute to the church i'm involved in, and participate in the small groups & other community i've found here. so i'm not quite as passionate about this work, but it's a really, really good option. i should hear by late next week whether this position will be offered. and they allow me to wait before i tell them yes or no, to pursue the other leads that i have until i'm comfortable saying no to them and yes to this position. so that's a huge benefit.

today i officially finished my reading for this semester, and i think i briefed the last case i will ever have to brief in law school. yay! next semester i'm taking writing/practical classes so i will not have to do this kind of study any more. so i actually have 5 whole weeks to break things down & memorize stuff for exams & i've only got 2 classes. i've got no excuse not to be super-prepared.

tomorrow's my first mock-trial. i don't know what else to do to prepare, probably because i haven't been through one before. i keep thinking that i should be freaking out or working hard on something--i just don't know what to do. so i'm not worrying about it. i'm hoping that it will be a fun and challenging experience. and i'm sure that i'll know afterwards what i should have been freaking out about right now. :)

and then friday is my trip to my 3rd interview this week--another state's court of appeals to do a comparable job. i'm not sure what to think about this one, so i'll let you know after the fact.

i am tired, as i expected i would be this week. but i'm feeling pretty good about things too. i'll keep you posted on the results.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

interviewing craziness

i have an absolutely crazy week coming up. thursday is my first mock trial. i'm kind of excited about it, and nervous too. there are a lot of details to remember.

but anyway... i have 3 interviews this week. i'm not sure why they all come up at the same time, but that seems to be the way it goes. monday i have a phone interview with a policy/advocacy fellowship. i would absolutely love this job--it's exactly the kind of thing that i had in mind when i came to law school. it's my first interview with them. there are 10 of us interviewing, and 3-4 will be invited for a second interview.

tuesday i have an interview here in my town with our state appeals court. it would be a research and writing job, which would be totally relaxing and low-stress for me. it would also put me in a position to do appellate work when i finish there. and as much as i am enjoying the practical courtroom stuff, i still think appeals work is a little more realistic for me to do long-term. this is a second interview, and from what my dean at school says, i'm a shoo-in to get an offer from there. so we'll see how that goes.

friday i'm flying to another state for a job at their appeals court, also research and writing. this would be a great opportunity, and this state is probably a little more prestigious, if that's possible. this is also a second interview, and i really liked it there the first time around. i was going to drive, but i can't afford to, because i've got to take the lawyer's ethics test on saturday morning (don't laugh), and so i'd have been exhausted. i'd really like to only take that test once.

so anyway, i'm looking at an extremely busy week, and next week will also be busy because my boss is out of town, so i'll be working about 32 hours instead of 12. so yeah. i don't have time to think about much else right now.

i'm really blessed to have so many opportunities. i'm just praying for wisdom as i try to figure out what to do after school's done.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


i'm a terrible storyteller. really. something funny happens (funny to me, anyway), and i remember it to tell later. so then i tell the story, but no one laughs. i never put the appropriate drama into it. i am the master of the understatement.

so i didn't expect to really want to do trial work. i'm much more of a listener than a talker. but i'm taking a class this semester on trial skills, and i'm totally loving it.

tonight i had to give a closing statement. and i got up, and i did it. and it was good. truth is, when you put me in front of a crowd, i can totally perform. i'm good at seeing the story in the facts, and i'm good at communicating the story.

so i don't know what to think about that. this summer when i was doing trial stuff, i was always really stressed. but i think it was more the fact that i didn't know what i was doing. now that i'm having practice, i really like it.

we'll see if i still like it after doing the three trials i have this semester. the first one is two weeks from today.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

free flowing

i'm trying to get lots of feedback on our new service at my church. i asked a guy that i know what he thought after his first visit. he had come in about 10 minutes late to the service, so he didn't hear all the explanations or instructions.

we have kind of a free-flowing thing going, with options for how involved you want to be. that probably doesn't make sense. we've been trying to communicate that people are welcome to participate to the level they are comfortable, recognizing that people are at different stages & might want more or less participation, and also recognizing that people worship in different ways. so there are options for response at the end of the service, options to pray, to continue singing, to be creative, or even to leave.

so anyway, this guy was saying how he was a little lost and confused. he seemed like he kind of wanted to be told what to do.

and i can understand that. but.

but when i go to church a lot of times i just check out mentally. people tell you what to do, you sing, stand, sit, listen (or zone out), etc. to me i think that having choices of how to respond means i have to actually be engaged. does that cause some discomfort? maybe. will it take getting used to if you've spent all your life going to church where there's procedure all mapped out for you? definitely.

but i kind of like it. i like the idea that you are forced to be engaged. even if you get through the first portion of the meeting as a passive person, a choice is set before you to get involved at the end and actually respond in a meaningful way. that's cool. really cool.

but i guess we can work on the communication aspect of things--making sure that people know what they're choosing. and there will be times when we do more strongly directed group activities.

and another thought--how do we keep a unity within the diversity of response? there is a purpose & a benefit to having some measure of order. i don't think things have been out of control up to this point. but it would be good if we could keep a balance so that it doesn't get there.

so... interesting things to think about.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

grandpa at the gas pump

so here's a fun story. i'm on my way somewhere yesterday, and i see gas is up to 2.25 again. so i drive by another corner & the gas is still at 2.08. so i decide to stop and get some. busy parking lot, busy time of day. there are lines to the pumps.

so i get out, pump gas. meanwhile, one man tries to squeeze through a tiny space between the rows of cars pumping gas (and right beside me) to get to the other side, but a gigantic truck backs into his place. so this guy backs up & waits behind me. i notice this is an old guy. he cracks some comment to the trucker standing nearby who is filling up the underground tanks.

all is well.

i finish pumping and grab my receipt & get in the car. so then i sit down to record my gas purchase, mileage, etc. in my little maintenance book (yes, i really do that... it's an old car). so anyway, i'm 5 seconds into my writing, and i hear a shout from behind me. "hey! i want that spot." not sure what's going on, so i mind my own business & continue writing. then i hear, "hey! lady! i want that spot!" so i turn around. sure enough, the old guy in the car behind me is actually yelling out the window.

now you've got to understand... the rows between the pumps were difficult to get through--a really tight squeeze. so i'm thinking that i'll just wait a second until it's actually safe to proceed--besides which i'm recording my stinking mileage. so i just sort of give the guy an incredulous look and finish the writing.

so the guy gets out of his car. mutters something, yells something else, "hurry up!" and of course i'm thinking... gosh, i should be checking my oil, immediately wondering how i can draw this stop at the gas pump out as long as possible (remember, old car). but lest i give the man a heart attack, i safely proceed forward because by now the truck in front of me has left.

and all is right with the world once more.

so this day goes down in my little life history as the day i almost got beat up by grandpa. it's sad, really, that a 30 second wait at the gas pump is going to cause a person palpitations. i really hope that my life is always more meaningful than that.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

new job

today was my first day on the job at my school. i had to get a job or get a roommate, since my roommate moved overseas. the job came up first, so i took it.

so anyway, i went to work today at 10 am. first, i read a book (2 hours). next i worked on locating some hypothetical questions to work through with students. (1 hour) third, we talked about my access to technology such as calendars, etc. (30 minutes) fourth, we talked over a few administrative details. (30 minutes) fifth, we talked about life (45 minutes). sixth, i read another book (3 hours).

i read for over 50% of the day, interesting things, and i was being paid to do it. i'm sure that not everyone would find that an exciting proposition, but i loved it. it was totally relaxing and very interesting. if only i could be paid to learn every day. how refreshing.

tomorrow's the beginning of a long road trip to an interview on friday afternoon. wish me luck.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

culture matters

tomorrow's the big meeting/run through for the new service my church is starting to reach the "emergent" generation. we're going to talk the interested people in our church through our vision and strategy for this ministry. it appears that i'm going to be saying something about why such a thing is even necessary.

so i've been thinking about this--actually since last Sunday when i was in church. i've been thinking about the peace child. since the apostle Paul, Christians have entered cultures and tried to communicate the message of the Gospel. Paul looked around & pointed to the unknown god, and said that's my God--let me tell you about him. the missionary in the peace child went and lived among a people group for a really long time, studying the language and the culture, and eventually he saw something that they did that was a picture of what God did. so he pointed to their ritual of the peace child, and said let me tell you about my God, who sent his own peace child to earth to restore all mankind's relationship to him through that child.

and i think--how powerful.

did the message of the gospel change between Paul and the peace child?
did the truth of God's word change?
did the truth of God and his character change?

but the way that message is communicated changed--it had to change.

so often we trip over language and culture when we try to communicate who God is and what he has done in us. it takes a student of culture to learn the words and the pictures that are already present in a culture to accurately communicate those truths to that culture. if we don't, then we can speak the truth, but who will hear us? who will understand?

culture is. it exists. it's not good, it's not bad, it just is. we communicate within the context of culture. we have to understand culture in order to truly communicate cross-culturally. if we don't, we're just saying words that don't make sense to anyone.

so that's what's behind our new ministry. we need to learn how to communicate to the heart language of the post-modern/emergent/emerging culture. we are not experimenting with the truth. we are not leaving the faith. we seek only to effectively communicate the message of Christ to a new generation.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

interviews & transitions

so i had my second interview of the season today. the first one was last thursday--an interview for a research position with a court of appeals. today's was a law firm in a somewhat grungy midwestern town. they actually interviewed at my school though, so i only had to drive about an hour.

i really hate interview season. i don't mind the interviews themselves... sometimes they're even kind of fun. but all the planning & preparation & driving. yesterday i must have done 20 cover letters and assembled that many application packets. it takes forever! and i just got another interview scheduled today for a west coast attorney general's office. i'd have to fly out there if i get a second interview. so then i have to ask how much money i can afford to spend on these little shindigs. when you interview with the government they don't pay to get you there. i don't really know what to think about those things. then there's the question of how much school to miss. i have a really small course load, so i think if i never went to class i'd still be able to pass my classes. so i don't know. i'm praying for wisdom about all that & that i'll just find the right place to go next.

funny thing about the firm job. what is somewhat appealing to me right now is the thought that i could stay there for a while. there's no end date. i could just work there, i could stay for 7 years & become partner (or shareholder, as they call them there). but anyone who knows me knows that the likelihood that i'd stay at a firm for that long is not that great. as much as i'd like to invest in one community for a long period of time, my exposure to the world has been too vast. there is always one more thing that i want to do for one more underserved population...

so transitions are coming. there will be tough decisions to be made. knowing my academic record & my recent work experience, i will probably have several options. so yeah--this will be a year of transition & decisions.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

just a few more days

ok, so i know i've been terrible at posting. i had an awesome summer at my government job. i got to write some awesome things and do several court appearances. then i had a lovely trip to visit my family in asia. one of my best friends met me there & we caught up for several days. now i am back home, with school just begun, and am trying to get a feel for things again. in addition, my roommate of about 5 years is going to be moving overseas to teach english. she leaves in about two weeks. so i probably won't post much between now and then, but after that... get ready. i'd expect that i'll have a lot of time to write and think about things.

Monday, August 21, 2006


i don't know if you knew then what you would mean to me. i don't even know if i knew. 3 1/2 years--it could be just a moment, or it could be a lifetime.

you were the witnesses to a part of my life that has turned out to be one of the most important parts in terms of my identity. thank you for inviting me in to your community. thank you for loving me as a sister and taking care of me while i was here. thank you for being such a fundamental and important part of my life.

i enjoyed catching up with you all last night. Kum Yew, Stephen, Stanley, Alvena, Iris, & Dennis... thanks to you & the YFers of old. Please keep in touch--i don't want to lose you all again.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

broken hearts and broken minds

he's one step away from suicide.
he's very nearly lost his mind.
he's asked me to come 1000 miles to take care of him. he cannot go through life alone--he won't make it. i am one of 2 authentic christians he knows. what i do is inextricably linked to the way he views God.

i will surely fail him.

and my heart is broken.

i have watched him go from one of the most brilliant and compassionate men i have ever known to a person whose mind is very clearly broken. i fear it will never be restored. and my heart breaks for what he could have been.

i see him now, reaching out to me, because i have shown him unconditional love. and when i do not show up to help him, i will be one more christian who has failed him--one more person who was supposed to care, but didn't care enough.

and i don't--i don't care enough. i don't care enough to sacrifice everything to help one broken person.

but it's not that i'm not willing. because i am. it's just--i would have to sense God calling me to do so, because i have such a sense of calling for the place i am in right now.

i wonder though, why God would not provide some person--me or someone else--to incarnate the love of Christ in his life? why wouldn't God ask me to go? why does this man have to suffer, and perhaps die, alone?

i just wish that there was a community of people who could rescue this man. even if i was able to be there for him, i would never be enough. one person cannot fix a broken person. i'm not even sure that a community can fix someone. but i do believe that a community can bring a measure of spiritual and emotional healing. but it's got to be a community.

why isn't the church that kind of community?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

scripture's authenticity

so i've started, or thought about writing, several posts about my experiences in my job this summer. but i'm not sure how much i can share and still protect the confidentiality of the clients, so i've opted for caution--no need to ruin my legal career before it starts.

i had a great meeting with my pastor this week regarding the new ministry we're starting at our church. we talked a little bit more about the content of the messages and the focus of our body. so here's one thought.

one of the major issues that the modern church has with post-modern people is about their use of and respect for scripture. there is a great concern in the modern church about the sanctity and reliability of scripture. there is absolute truth that can be known. this truth is found in the Bible. you can trust what the Bible says because of how it came into being and how it has been used by the church over the centuries. there is life in the Word that is not found in other books.

but for the post-modern person, the sanctity and reliability of scripture is relatively unimportant. this is because spiritual truths will be confirmed and validated by the lives people live rather than the words printed on the page. it matters little what the Bible says if you aren't living what you say it says. if you live scripturally and i can see a difference in your life that is positive, then maybe i'll listen to what you say. but even if the documents are proved reliable scientifically, i don't care unless it affects the way you live your life. scripture and truth is authenticated by the lives of the believers who live it. to the post-modern person, the reliability of scripture will never be validated unless living by scripture produces the fruits of the spirit.

is that really so wrong? i honestly think that if you look at the teachings of Jesus, he too focused on how knowledge is translated to action. a person never really knows the truth until he or she puts it into action. at all times in history the Bible has been called into question because of the inconsistent lives of those who call themselves believers. i'm not saying that there aren't proofs to show that the Bible is reliable and can be trusted. i'm only saying that for the post-modern person, that whole discussion misses the point. this is because it's only when the post-modern person interacts with a beliver who lives what the Bible says that the Bible is authenticated and given credibility.

Friday, May 26, 2006

good news

guess what!! guess what!! guess what!! guess what!! guess what!! guess what!! guess what!! /jumps up & down...

my scholarly writing paper from last semester got accepted for publication in our school law review! i really didn't expect it - it's on more of a human interest/human advocacy topic that is not too popular. i didn't think it had much of a chance. but... i was wrong. so now i embark on the journey of becomming published. what fun!

i am loving my summer job, by the way. i've already written an appeals court brief and next week i'll be conducting a preliminary hearing. i'm going to have lots of great writing samples when i'm done. but more importantly, the attorneys here are extremely approachable and have taken lots of time to speak with me and give me advice. so i'm greatly enjoying myself.

i have a couple of posts in mind about the emergent church/post-modern culture, but i just have not been able to write the last couple of weeks. i hope to have some time to do so soon.

have a great memorial day weekend. i'm definitely going to get some relaxing in.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

settling in

so this week has been a week of settling in. i've started my summer job, and i think i'm really going to like it. i spent about half my time this week visiting different courtrooms and observing the proceedings. i had a chance to visit both the state and federal courts, and noticed some major differences between them. i also have met tons of people at work, and i really like them. they have been extremely friendly.

one thing i'm having to get used to is the fact that i have entered this office with the respect of my coworkers. i am used to going in somewhere and starting from the absolute bottom rung. but there is a level of independence that i will be allowed to have right from the start. it's really nice, actually. i'm not sure if that's just my office or the law world in general, but i'm really going to like the freedom to be self-determined.

after work i've been busy seeing people that i don't have time to see normally. it is going to be a summer where i'll actually have time to relax. i will actually leave work and be able to think about other things. i'm going to be very happy that i chose this job.

and i had a law review meeting tonight, where the editors were actually nice. wouldn't you know it--i got the editor that i thought liked me the least during the interviews. he's totally different now - i'm not sure if it's because the faculty supervisor cracked down on them because of how inappropriate their interview styles were, or if it's because he really is a nice person, but i'm also feeling much better about that. so yeah... that's good news. i just wasn't sure what to expect from this law review experience.

hopefully i'll have some more interesting things to say this week as i get totally settled in....

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

passing the time

i attended an administrative proceeding regarding an arrearage for child support payments today. it was for a man who had been paying on the debt for years, but at a very low rate because he is on a fixed income, and at the rate he was going with all the fees that were regularly assessed, he would never be able to pay the debt off. however, he had already paid off the principle & just had a bunch of fees left over. so anyway, i got to see justice done as the administrative judge agreed to discharge his debt. it was such a relief to him as we walked out today, and it was great to be a part of his joy. it's good to see the law working to effect justice--sometimes in school it's hard to tell whether justice really is done in our legal system.

i then proceeded to finish up a fun book (whodunnit mystery, British style) and read two others on equality in marriages. i'm going to see a friend of mine later this week who is in the midst of pre-marital counseling and was asked by the pastor: "do you understand your role as a wife?" so i was just looking for some material that would give her a biblical basis for her belief in gender equality & egalitarian marriage. one of the books was not that great, but one was pretty good. so now i'll have a direction to point her in.

i got a few more books on emergent church issues from the library, bought several fiction books at bargain prices, and started looking into material to maybe do an Old Testament Survey Bible study with a friend of mine next fall...

it seems i really will continue to be busy. but hopefully my business will be a little more diversified over the next year than it was this year. i'd like to be involved in spiritual growth & discipleship as well as my academic pursuits.

Monday, April 24, 2006

emerging thoughts

i've been reading up on the emergent church during this break, and had some great conversations this weekend about what's going on and where we should be headed. i've many thoughts going through my mind right now, but i'll just talk about one thing for this post.

one interesting thing about the emergent church in the US is that it's mostly made up of Christians who have been hurt in more modern churches. many times these injuries come from misunderstandings & miscommunication between the generation. these hurt people have left their churches, often staying away from church for a long time. when and if they come back to church, they're looking for a place where they will be accepted for who they are - even though they drink or smoke or just generally live a life that's not perfect from the outside looking in (as defined by the common churchgoer).

it does not appear that the emergent church is made up of new believers - the post-modern thinkers who are becomming Christians. one wonders if post-modern thinkers are becoming believers at all. if they were, initially it doesn't seem like it would matter where they went to church. this is simply because the post-modern person will likely never believe apart from a relationship with a genuine Christian living an authentic & consistent & grace-filled Christian life and would probably be content to attend any kind of service. however, as time passes, it is almost certain that the cultural and philosopical differences would begin to hinder communication and community and cause injury to new Christians just as has happened with many post-modern people who are already Christian.

it seems like something must be done about this. either modern churches need to learn to speak the language of the post-modern person, or post-modern persons have to have another option. unfortunately, most of the books i am reading by emergent theologians are written in such a way that they threaten the very foundations of the modern person's faith. as a result, people are spending more time arguing about these issues than learning from one another and working together at some sort of solution--a way to make the church a place for both modern & post-modern thinkers.

i really do think that it's possible for a post-modern person to follow Jesus. though trained in modern thinking as a soon-to-be-lawyer, i would consider myself more postmodern than modern, and i am a follower of Jesus. and as much as the modern church in many ways is judging the post-modern mindset and saying that post-modernity is unbiblical and is a threat to Christianity, post-modernity is a cultural phenomenon, a world-view, and one which will be with us for a while. i do think it's time that the conversation turned toward working together to reach the post-modern thinker. i hope that we will move in that direction.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

counting down

i spent my teenage years counting down the days... it was always something--counting down to when we would next be in the states, counting down until the time when i would start college, always counting down. since that time i've learned to appreciate each season of life as it comes, enjoying at least some things about every phase of life that i enter.

but i've got to tell you that i'm so happy this semester is done. as much as i enjoyed writing my papers and learned that writing is something i really want to do in life, i'm glad to be done with this semester. it has been the most exhausting one yet, and i'm not sure if it's the cumulative effect of 4 straight semesters or simply the fact that i was studying & writing constantly during this one. i'm so looking forward to a summer job where i can just focus on doing a good job while i'm there and having a little space & time out of work to enjoy life.

meanwhile, i'm on break, and doing my best to sit around an do nothing... we'll see how that goes. i'll start work in 2 weeks, but until then i'm freeeee!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


it's that time of year again. 5 more days to study & then i've got to know everything there is to know about evidence, tax, and remedies. with just those 3 exams, i'm feeling much less stressed than is normal for exam time. it actually feels downright luxurious.

so studying is where i've been, and it's where i'll be until about Easter Sunday. It's unlikely there will be much action around there until then.

on a more interesting note, my church is talking about starting an "emergent" worship service this fall, and i'm to be involved in the planning and organization of it. so i'm sure there will be some thought-provoking blogs on that topic coming up.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


you may have noticed the link to postsecret on the right side of this blog. it's a link to a blog where people send postcards of their secrets--secrets they've never told anyone before. the guy who runs the blog picks 10-20 every week to post on his site.

so what is it that draws people to send their secrets in to a total stranger? why do they want their secrets to be known? what need is this site meeting in peoples' lives? because it is meeting a need. the man who manages the blog is inundated with postcards daily. people are reading them all the time, and many people make a connection with the cards that are posted.

i've got to believe that part of the draw is that there are very few places in our society where it is safe to be human--to be imperfect--to have issues. at work we are expected to produce with an eye only to monetary gain. our homes are so busy that there is little time to make deep enough connection to be concerned with enabling those around us to learn and grow. and there is little grace. in the christian world there is often an expectation of perfection... you don't bring your problems to church. in the secular world there is more of an acceptance of non-perfection, and yet there is little concern with reaching outside of onseself to meet the needs of others, especially those who are mere acquaintances.

so my question is this... is this a need that the church should be meeting? is there a way that the church could become a community of grace and connection in such a disconnected society?

i can tell you for sure that it will never happen in a program-oriented environment. and it will not happen if the only thing that happens at church is the normal singing/preaching worship service. not that these things are bad in themselves, and not that they are not necessary for some purposes.

but somehow the world has changed so much that people no longer have true community. gone are the days (in most places) where people walk next door to borrow a cup of sugar. people don't know each other. at all. you can go into a social setting and be whoever you want to be, and come home & be someone completely different. you can be whoever you want to on the internet and make lots of internet friends who see only a one-dimensional picture of who you are.

but there is still a deep longing for connection, a desire to be known and loved unconditionally. i firmly believe that if we can figure out how to make the church that community of grace and connection, the church will be able to reach this generation. how to do so while maintaining a commitment to discipleship and a grounded theology is the challenge we now face.

Friday, March 17, 2006

adversarial indeed

so i had my law review interview this weekend. law review is the legal journal published by each legal institution. it's the journal that has rigorous requirements so that only the top students make it in. it's also the student activity that the most prestigious institutions require before you will even be considered for a position with them.

the interview was not pleasant--at all. out of all the legal interviews i have had this year, this one was the worst. it was everything that people don't like about the legal world. it was a committee of egos attacking my character and ability and willingness to contribute to the law review. it was rude questions and interruptions. it was simply horrible. i left not wanting to join. i left thinking that some of the editors had a personal problem with me. i tried to discern whether it was my grades, my writing style, my commitments to church and faith... i couldn't figure it out.

and then i started talking with the other students who'd interviewed. they explained they had somewhat similar experiences, though i'm not sure anyone else thought it was as personally directed as it seemed to me. so then i thought maybe the board was just trying to weed people out--people who don't belong because they won't work hard or aren't tough enough.

but then i had my final draft conference for the paper i'm writing for sumission to the law review, and my professor asked how my interview went. she then told me that though all her other students had the same experience, it was not typical of our law review interview. she basically apologized for the board's behavior and told me that she had already complained to their advisor and requested that something be done about it.

even during the rude questions and disrepectful attitudes, the committee kept asking me questions about being willing to sacrifice for a team and whether i would be willing to go the extra mile to make sure things were done. it seems counterintuitive to me though, if you're going for teamwork, that you would start out by disparaging your team members. somehow that doesn't seem like the kind of teambuilding that i would want to do if i were heading up the team. for all the competitiveness and adversarial nature of the legal world, i still believe that you get the best out of a team if they actually believe they are valued and respected and have something to contribute.

so i'm taking a position on the law review, but i'm not excited about it. i think there's a real possibility that it could be a horrible experience. but i do it because it has to be on my resume.

for the most part i've had a really positive experience with my school. i've had great professors, the other students have been interesting, and i have learned a ton. for the most part, my school actually has a collaborative atmosphere, meaning that though there's competition for grades and such, people really do help one another out. this is the kind of experience i would have stereotyped law school to encourage, but had hoped to never have to encounter. i suppose if it is the worst that i have to endure, then i will have gotten off pretty easy. but i am very disappointed in our law review, and am now looking forward to the day it will be over for me.

it will be interesting to see if it's really as bad as the interview made it seem.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

it's done!!!!!

well... the first draft at least. i've really only just begun. now comes the editing, tweaking, supplementing the supporting authority, and other such activities. but i can at least go to my other classes tomorrow with one less thing to think about.

40 pages. 223 footnotes. hundreds of hours expended. several hours today of complete doubt that i have anything to add to this discussion whatsoever. but, praise God, i was able to push through that, and hopefully have come to the other side & will be able to just concentrate on making it better.

the longest paper i ever wrote before this was 26 pages long, which i had to shrink the font quite a bit to get it down to 20 pages... do you know i've never had to enlarge the font to make something longer? i think i have a tendency to babble when i write, which i seem to be doing right now.

/breathes sigh of relief.

i shall return another day.

nightly update so i feel like i'm making progress

30 pages

170 footnotes

3 more pages of outline to cover, plus the intro and the conclusion, so i'm guessing about 5-6 more pages.

will i be able to finish it tomorrow??? that's the goal...

nighty night.

Friday, February 24, 2006

chaos of the mind

my head is just absolutely swimming from writing all day.

i love it.

but it's amazing to me how long it takes to get things down on paper. after doing other things all week, to get back into the groove of what i'm saying and where i'm going with things took at least 2 hours. and then to just get into the rythm of, "write a sentence, do a footnote; write a sentence, do a footnote," took at least another hour. but by this time of the night, after working for about 9 hours, i don't want to stop. however, the mind-swimming is somewhat detrimental to the paper-writing process, so it's time for me to break for the night.

i'm at 20 pages, 121 footnotes, and i'm a little more than halfway through the outline. yipee!

(and i know that all you non-lawyers--and maybe even some lawyers--are out there thinking how wrong it is for someone to be happy about writing a paper for 9 hours on a saturday... but what can i say, it's a strange sort of sickness i have, i guess...)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

a paradigm of growth

well, i'm about 15 pages and 100 footnotes into my big paper for the semester.

i'm really, really enjoying the process. i know it's just a little bit crazy, but the process of taking almost endless research and turning it into a legal argument is very enjoyable for me. i enjoy the big-pictureness of it, i think - the analysis and synthesis of many parts into a cohesive whole. i enjoy the possibility that it might impact actual lives or policy.

choosing the job that i did for the summer, the place where i'll be researching and writing the days away, is a little out of character for me. i had another great option that would have put me in the courtroom as a prosecutor for the summer. normally, when given a choice between something i would love and something that would challenge me, or between something i perceive as "easy" and something that i will be stretched in, i choose the harder path. i just always choose the hardest thing. i think somehow i have that tied to my spirituality, though i can't tell you how right now.

but somehow for the summer i found the freedom to actually go with my personality instead of against it. see... i live within a paradigm for growth. living overseas and being challenged all my life in many different ways has made me uncomfortable with being comfortable. i always want to grow and be out of my element just a little bit - with the hope that i will become a better person and more like Christ. i think i have a genuine fear of the complacency that normally accompanies being comfortable where i am. so somehow i always end up doing the hard things, or the neutral things the hard way.

i think in many ways this leads to being a more balanced person - i'm working on my weaknesses so they become less detrimental. but i think it also has caused me to not reach my full potential. in developing my weaknesses instead of my strengths i have not allowed myself to excel and strengthen my strengths.

maybe like so much of life, balance is needed. it's really good to develop and use the strengths that we have because that is who God has made us. but it's also good to seek growth and development in areas that we are weak so that as people we can be more balanced.

maybe the challenge for me this summer then, will be to put as much energy into developing my strengths as i normally would put into trying to overcome my weaknesses. there's no real reason why the growth paradigm has to be limited to just one kind of growth.

Friday, February 17, 2006

summer job

i got a job!

i'll be working this summer in a federal government agency right in my own town. i don't have to drive more than 5 minutes to work each day, i'll get some school credit so i'll have less to do during my last 2 semesters, i'll be in a position to make contacts with some great people, i'll be researching & writing the summer away, i'll have nights & weekends to do whatever i want, and i'll have time to visit my family for several weeks.

i can't think of a position that would have been better for me. i'm so thankful that this is what God provided for me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

how evidence taught me grace

my evidence class and a talk with a friend taught me a little bit about grace this week.

the federal rules of evidence don't really allow you to discuss a person's character during trial, with just a few exceptions. usually you can't bring up past actions (like a prior conviction for robbing a bank) to show that someone has a propensity to do something (like robbing in general), to show that they did something specific (like robbing the 7-11). we don't want someone convicted of a crime because he's a bad person - we want him convicted because there's enough evidence that he did it.

a friend and i did something to upset one of our best friends about a year ago. not a huge deal, only we live such a long distance from one another that it's been hard to reconnect. so she was visiting again for several weeks over Christmas, and i discovered that i wasn't really emotionally connecting with her. and so i tried to figure out why. eventually i discovered it was because i wasn't really sure what she thought of me anymore. she's a pretty emotional person. i'm a pretty sensitive person. she had responded in frustration in a way that made me wonder what she thought of me.

and that's where evidence comes in. i realized that i believed that she'd taken my negative action and made a negative inference about me. i believed that she no longer believed in me. and i don't know how to be real and vulnerable with someone who has known me deeply, yet stopped believing in me.

then i thought about grace - maybe that's what grace is. it's seeing the negative things that a person does, but not drawing a negative inference about them. it's allowing people to make mistakes, to be human, but to reserve judgment and keep thinking the best of them. and that really is how God sees us. he looks at us and does see the bad things that we do. but he doesn't infer bad things about us. in fact - he goes further and sees us through Christ's work on the cross. he is able to see the good in us, in spite of the bad things we do.

the reason the testimony about prior bad acts is kept out of court is because it's highly prejudicial. juries tend to give great weight to prior bad acts in determining current guilt. i think that's because that's the way we are in life too. we all to often see the bad acts and make the inference about bad character and then basically expect the person to keep doing bad things.

but i want to see the best in people. and i want people to believe the best about me, even when i do stupid things. is that what it means to always protect, always hope, always trust, and always persevere in love?

i kind of think it does.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

a foot in both worlds

my generation is a product of a strange mixture of the modern & postmodern cultures. as a result, i have adopted parts of both worlds. in addition, the world of law is primarily a modern world (at least until you start talking about policy). but the study of law tends to produce thinkers more comfortable with modern thinking than the postmodern.

this has affected me. but not quite enough, it seems. there's one area that i just cannot relearn to be modern about - a commitment to a future path. i cannot, to save my life, tell you what i want to do with my law degree. i can tell you, actually, about 50 things that i will want to do with it. i fully expect to have at least 10 different legal jobs.

and in every single interview (yep - had another one today), that is the one question i can't answer to anyone's satisfaction. i'm told i should just make something up - just choose one of the 50 things i want to do. but somehow that seems dishonest to me. so i somehow try to communicate that i have a huge worldview - lots that i would like to accomplish, but many different ways to get there. all of them seem almost equally acceptible to me. so i can't for the life of me tell the interviewers why their firm or agency is the place that i should be this summer.

i've actually had this same problem before. it was the very thing that got me in trouble with the infamous missions committee. so in this area, i am an inescapably post-modern thinker. i think i might just have to work for myself.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


i've started several posts this last week, but haven't finished any of them. my thoughts are scattered in so many directions right now.

last weekend i went on a road trip to go to a retreat for law students. it was so encouraging to know there are other Christians out there doing legal work, who truly live spiritual lives & see law as a way to contribute to society. there is a lot of hostility to spirituality and toward a belief in absolute truth or values in the legal world. i don't think i was aware of how much of that is present. i don't think i realized how much it was changing my mindset about life. it was good to be reminded of where i've come from. it was good to see that it is possible to integrate faith & law. i think it is a constant struggle though.

i love mountains. i had a chance to drive through the mountains on my road trip. on the way home i had to stop for gas in the middle of nowhere, and drove off the highway down a mountain a couple of miles to get to a gas station. i wish that i'd had time to really enjoy the scenery as i drove. mountains have a special kind of beauty that's not found in other places.

i found out in class tonight that i have to have all my research for my paper done by next week. yikes! i've been working hard, but i'm nowhere near done. so i'll be in the library all day tomorrow & on Saturday, and probably some of Sunday too. i was feeling very unmotivated this week though, so tonight was a reality check. so yeah - that's what i'll be doing this weekend.

a very good friend is home right now from the mission field. last night we had a couple of hours to just hang out & talk. it was so fun for me. i can't remember the last time i've just taken a night off & talked about regular stuff. i tend to get lost in my scholarly world & lose sight of what everyone else thinks & does.

sorry to bore you with the little details of my life. i would much rather be writing about something interesting... but i've just not had the kind of atmosphere needed to foster that kind of thought. soon, i hope.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

a little blue

well, if you're wondering where i've been lately, i can tell you that i've entered the wonderful world of The Bluebook - A Uniform System of Citation. yes, that's right. hours and hours of practice exercises on how to cite cases, books, articles... all in proper bluebook form. i have entered the exciting world of legal scholarship, where every single assertion must be supported by the weight of someone else's statements or research, and often the footnotes to a paper are longer than the substance of a paper.

the time i've spent researching the actual topic of the paper has been a little more fun. today i worked several hours organizing the material i've already found. once i had it organized i could more clearly see the arguments that i'll want to make, and the holes in the research that i still have to fill (they're pretty numerous). after so much research my head is swimming and i can't quite focus anymore.

and that, my friends, is all i've been doing - the exciting world of this law school student. i'm beginning to wish again for the days when there is some boundary between work and the rest of your life - when what you do doesn't take every hour of every day and there is time for relationships and thinking & applying knowledge to real life, and when i actually have something to talk about that would intersect with a normal person's life.

i'd like to think that when i graduate, it will be better. but i think that will all depend on the job that i choose. i'll try to choose wisely.

Monday, January 16, 2006

to prosecute or not to prosecute...

i've been trying to imagine what it would be like to spend a summer in a prosecutor's office. i got another job offer in the mail this weekend (the govt doesn't call, they write...). i actually have to set up one more interview, but i don't think i could do anything to ruin it at this point.

speaking of interviews... i really thought i bombed this one. i went in to the interview, and the guy proceeded to ask me about what i would do as a prosecutor in 3 different factual situations. i thought i did awful. because i kept wanting more information. and i wanted to be able to see the people he was talking about - to see if they were believable. i learned that day how much my discretion as a prosecutor/lawyer will be dependent on my ability to gauge people's actions & reactions - their body language, tone of voice, and a million other things. so i could barely answer the questions. in the end i felt i had to explain my inability to answer. i was up-front with the guy. i guess it all worked out.

so anyway - i've been imagining what it would be like to walk into a courtroom for my first case... the fear, the excitement. in one way i feel like i absolutely don't know enough to walk into a courtroom - i mean, just the procedural stuff is enough to give me a headache. but it would be intensely practical, very stretching, and would totally give me the chance to learn the types of things you can't learn in a classroom.

in my daydreams i can't figure out what personality i would have in the courtroom. i am a performer - i can be very dramatic. i also am inherently believable - people look at me & think trustworthy... but i'm also soft-spoken. people underestimate my strength & the strength of my beliefs. i'd have to work on that, i think. as an advocate you have to believe that what you're arguing is true - and if you don't believe it, you at least have to convince everyone else that you do.

the real question i have is whether i would be confident or hesitant. i'd be hesitant at first, to be sure. but would i ever get past that, past my inhibitions? i don't know. if i did, i think i could learn to be good at being a prosecutor.

i can't deny that i love to read & study & be by myself for hours. it's very tempting to try to find a job where i could do that all the time. it would be so much easier to stay in my comfort zone and find a job like that. there's not much of a risk of failure there. but long term i do need some interaction. i only like to study inasmuch as it has an effect on real life. and i do love to be stretched & forced to grow. being comfortable tends to make me apathetic.

so... to prosecute or not to prosecute... that's the question.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

the groove

i'm getting into the swing of things a little bit now. back to studying almost constantly.

i thought tax would be the worst class. indeed, there's much about tax that i don't know and that i'll have to work hard to understand. but i really enjoy a challenge, so i'm looking forward to learning more about the tax system. i think once i get the language down the concepts will follow.

i think the worst class will actually turn out to be my remedies class - it's just not as interesting, not as forthright as a code class (like tax), and not as organized in presentation.

i think i've found a topic for my paper though, with the help of a really great professor. one thing my school has that many others don't are professors who sincerely love to teach and are interested in contributing to students' lives. i think i'm going to really enjoy the research process, and i'm sure i'll enjoy the writing. i'll keep you posted on how it goes, and whether i end up getting it published. that's kind of a long shot, but it would be really great.

on the job front, i heard back from a government agency - that i made their "alternate list," which means i have to make it through a background check and wait to hear if i make it into their internship program. that was pretty exciting, though it means i've got to wait a while longer to decide what i'm going to this summer. i'm also waiting to hear back from a government agency here in town, where i may get an interview and a position for this summer. but i'm no stranger to the waiting game, so i'm content to wait & see what opportunities come to me.

so those are the updates. i'll be working on some more interesting thoughts to write about next.

Friday, January 06, 2006

writer's block

you'd think in a world where there are so many legal controversies, i would be able to easily find something to write a potential law review article about. but... i'm having a very hard time. i've discovered that i'm really interested in the law because of how it relates to and impacts many other subject areas - i'm kind of an interdisciplinary person. the focus of a normal law review article is to critique a certain area of law. so i'm having a hard time just sticking to the law without bringing other things to bear on the subject.

i also have no confidence that i'll be able to come up with some new angle or new legal argument that no one has ever thought of before. i just don't know enough about the law. after really studying an area, i'm certain i'll have an opinion, and something to say on the subject. but i cannot assure myself that i will necessarily have something new to contribute to the conversation.

now i've got to get back to my tedious review of slip opinions and interesting legal issues; until something starts to come together. hopefully you'll have a better weekend than i will... :)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

happy new year

and so it begins. it's back to my studies starting tomorrow. i'm hoping to be a little more balanced this year. the first year of law school is the most intense, after that it seems to get easier. last semester, however, i barely caught my breath from the moment the semester began because of interviews for summer positions and added extra-curricular activities. i am hoping that this term will be different, and am already planning and striving for balance.

balance is always a struggle for me. i don't know if it is so for all of humanity, or just for those of my personality. i have never been able to give less than 100% to anything, so if i over-commit, i don't have a chance.

so anyway, i hope that you all have a very happy new year. with my mind more engaged with schoolwork, i assume that i will be blogging more regularly again.