Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Card That Started It All

Here's the card. It's not exactly the way I had described it, but we all know that memory is a funny thing. I filched it from The River City Church blog, not a greeting-card-website, hence the penned addition of "Andrew" beneath "Brian" (way to take the fun out of it - Andrewtology does not have the same ring to it. I'm sorry, it just doesn't.). The Brian who received and posted it seems genuinely unimpressed by it; but, that could just be my interpretation of his words on the flat page/screen. Note to self: no proselytizing in Missoula.

The real life Brian, posed here with his awesome wife/my step-mom, Laura.

I've been thinking: I think the first commandment of (our) Briantology, though it could be placed anywhere along the hypothetical, eventual list, will be:
"Thou shalt embrace thy inner gnomeness with aspirations to being as gnome-y as The Brian."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Nativity Story of (our) Briantology

Google "Briantology." You'll see that we're not original in our name but it is dear to us, as will become apparent in this post. Of course, The Life of Brian is the first point of departure for most upon hearing this moniker for my paternal family's gaff-religion. But, the story itself and the 'religion' itself has taken on a life of its own.

It all started last year this time when I was looking for birthday cards for my brothers, Jason and Seb; their birthdays are in April. I came across this gem: on the front cover it said, "Not satisfied with the state of religion today, Brian decided to branch out on his own"(or something to that effect). Underneath this message was a simple cartoon drawing of a man wearing glasses standing behind a lemonade-type-stand which said on it "Church of Briantology" and a jar sat on the stand: Donations Accepted. Inside the card it said something like "May the force of Brian be with you." I'm pretty sure I wet myself in the Hallmark store and bought two.

What makes this so funny is that my Dad's name is Brian, and we've always had a running conversation that often turns into joking about religion in general and spirituality in particular; such conversations usually end with the general consensus that Dad is god-like in nature, and makes Emmer and I wonder what we would do without each other to discuss this (and, keeps us all in fine eye-rolling form). One of my favourite conversations with him about this opened with him telling me that he had just "come out of the closet": he did indeed have a faith but was still trying to figure out just what it is.

When I presented the cards to my brothers, my step-mom loved the card so much that rumour has it she went around to all the Hallmark stores in the Greater Barrie Area and bought them up. The modest spreading and proselytizing of Briantology had begun.

In the meantime, Briantology is now a fairly regular topic of skype conversations between my father and me. We have already decided that Sean Connery is our first saint. Briantology does not believe that candidates for canonization need to be dead already for X number of years before nomination. Sean's three miracles are as follows:
1: Greatest James Bond ever.
2: Wearing that outfit in Highlander without losing a shred of his masculinity.
3: Regardless of how shitty the movie is that he's in, he makes it respectable. Ok, if not respectable, then it's a downright cool flick just because he's in it.

Also, I have decided that I am the President of Briantology. Dad protested this decision, saying that he should be president, until I explained to him: I am the eldest child, therefore it is my prerogative to be president; he can't be the president because he is The Brian. That satisfied his vanity. And, we decided together Briantology's motto, if it ever has a motto, will have something involving capitalism with a socialist conscious. I'm even debating adding my idea for an NGO to the Briantology mandate/manifesto: Sustained Altruism Without Politics (SAWP).

Further, the topic of Briantology was raised at a December dinner in an Ethiopian restaurant here in Jerusalem. I told my gang the story of Briantology and Daan (one of The Dutch) asked if the position of Messiah was open. I told him, "No," because I'm reserving it for my kid, since if I ever get pregnant and become a mother, it'll be a miracle. Daan is instead our first prophet; what better place than Jerusalem to find our first prophet, or rather to have our first prophet find us? Daan is balanced enough, after being here for seven months already, that he shows no signs of Jerusalem Syndrome. I would be worried about the speaking-in-tongues thing, but Daan speaks something like 12 languages and about two-thirds of them are dead languages anyway so I'm not mother-henning this one.

So, there you have it. From his modest beginnings in a farmhouse in Flesherton, ON (pronounced fleshurt-un), to his childhood in Creemore, to his highrolling life in the thriving metropolis of Barrie, Brian's spreading his word of peace, love, and, um, European football. He's a bit of a cinephile, and we forgive him his transgressions of Louis L'Amour novels. The best of Briantology is yet to come, when we publish a songbook of all popular favs rewritten with improvisational irreverence; I think the first fifty copies will come with its own glow-in-the-dark SweetBabyJesus, just for fun.

Your Friendly Brian and Humble President:

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Sunny Days Are Here Again

So, today's post is dedicated to wrapping up some loose ends from previous posts.

First of all, the final package has arrived! My Christmas gift from my grandmother was on the road for 4.5 months, and I'm hoping that it at least stopped in Italy for gelato on its way. In it, I received some lovely noties, Lindor dark chocolate (yum!), more hand cream (yum!), and an exquisitely hand-made journal. The last in the list arrived at the perfect time since the current journal is nearly full. The almost-full journal makes eight since my arrival in the Holy Land, Gramma's will be nine. And, its arrival proves my point that often what we're waiting for arrives when we need it most and not a moment sooner. Our happy postal shrine has not been dismantled, but it is shrinking. The contributions from Gundula and Bea returned home with them: Gundula returned to Cologne in the middle of February and Bea flew home to Guadalajara, Spain, earlier today. Lily, Kyle and I are on pins and needles to meet our new roomies.

Regarding Shabbat Goy issues, Lily indeed stayed in the kfar a few weekends ago. Can I tell you how exciting it was to have first-hand experience as a Shabbat Goy? - a real, true, appreciated, intentional Shabbat Goy! I turned on kettles, turned light-switches off and on both in the apartment and in the stairwell. It was a beautifully sunny Shabbat, so Lily and I sat outside chatting and picking out which boys in tzitzim and kippa she should marry and when we returned to home on the elevator, I pushed "3" with such purpose! My only sadness on that weekend was not being able to cook for her, since I'm no kosher gal. But, we can't have everything.

The February vacation is nearly at an end; classes officially start tomorrow but I don't have my first class until Monday morning at 8:30. This semester, I will continue with Biblical Hebrew, and start Canaanite Literature and the Bible as well as Ugaritic. True to Hebrew University form, as we've experienced it at least, the course for Ugaritic has been approved but no one knows where or when it will take place. The other thing I have to do is talk the powers-that-be in the graduate office into letting me take a tutorial on Literary Translation.

I know that you've all been quite worried about my tan, and I can't say that I blame you. As it turns out, all disaster was diverted yesterday (+24) and today (+30). Yes, I got a little pink today at 8am sitting outside waiting for my laundry to wash. Yes, my exposed flesh is sunscreened. Yes, I know that you all think I can't get a tan, but my pal, Sofia (who is also Spanish) said that she knows people back home who would be envious of such a tan in March. I stick my tongue out in your general direction.

Oh! Speaking of Monty Python, the Cinemateque is screening The Life of Brian on Tuesday. I know - it's smackdab on Purim, and it's causing a real argument between my different brains. What to do? Dress up as a vampire (is it just me, or is dressing as a vampire a pretty standard costume regardless of dress-up holiday the world over?) OR go conduct research (free with my movie pass) for our family's budding religion? I am, after all, President of Briantology. (No, my father cannot be president of Briantology because he is The Brian.) (Yes, we've already discussed this.) Oh, dear, I have ended on a cliff-hanger after a dedication to the contrary...