Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Next Chapter

I'm sitting in the San Antonio airport, waiting for one of my classmates from Loma Linda to arrive. I spent the last two days driving across the Southwest. As always, I enjoyed the lonely, harsh beauty of the American west. Unfortunately, I was in a bit of a hurry so I couldn't enjoy any side-trips like I usually like to take when I drive cross-country. I arrived at Fort Sam Houston at 11:00AM this morning, to report for six weeks of the Officer Basic Leadership Course. One interesting part of the road-trip was a stop yesterday afternoon in El Paso. I decided to get my hair cut there and stopped at the first barbershop I could find. The barber ended up being part Pima Indian and part Mexican-American. He had some very interesting perspectives about life and philosophy and some interesting stories to tell about his family. He probably would have called himself a Christian, although some of his beliefs were a bit unorthodox. Except for being in a hurry, I enjoyed the conversation though.

As with most of the big transitions I've experienced, I'm both excited and nervous about the next six weeks. I'm excited about the ways this will change me. I think it will be the closest thing I've ever experienced to the stories of monks I've read about who had to be in submission to their elders. Now I will be in submission to the officers above me. My next big test is the physical training test. I have to run two miles in seventeen minutes and do 39 push-ups and 45 sit-ups. I should be able to pass just fine.

With all of this said, I can't wait for August, to be back with friends and family in Battle Ground.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Imagining Christ

On Sunday, after attending church, I went on a tour of some interesting parts of L.A. with some classmates who know the area well. The highlight of the day was certainly the Getty Center, a museum on a hill in Los Angeles. After a tram-ride from the parking structure to the museum, I was first struck by the architecture. I am not usually a fan of modern architecture but the Getty provided a definite exception. I was also struck by the views of the Los Angeles area. From the Getty you can see the mountains to the East, the Pacific with Catalina Island to the West, and the expanse of L.A. with various landmarks such as downtown and the UCLA campus in between. When we arrive we were greeted by a sign advertising an exhibit called "Imagining Christ." I was at first skeptical, thinking that it would be some kind of heretical new-age thing but this exhibit ended up being the most interesting part of the Getty experience for me. The exhibit consists of art picturing Christ from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The majority of the pieces were amazingly detailed illuminated manuscripts. As I looked in awe at these pieces I imagined the monk in the monastery, painstakingly tracing calligraphy and pictures with perfection. I was thankful to these monks who believed in the truth of the stories these manuscripts told and who contributed to the riches of what is Western Civilization.

I was most impressed with an illuminated manuscript of Augustine's City of God depicting the Trinity. I believe it was created around 1400. I expected the language to be Latin but according to the display, it was written in French.
A page from Augustine's City of God depicting the Trinity.

We stayed at the Getty until closing time, wandered around third street in Santa Monica and then got dinner in Hollywood before heading back to Loma Linda. It was a great day and it was good to finally see some of what L.A. has to offer.