Friday, October 30, 2009

Sow-in [or Halloween]

Halloween has its origins in an ancient Irish feastival sow-in which roughly means 'summer's end.'[Wikipedia] Halloween celebrated the end of the summer season and the beginning of cold, or as the Celts liked to call it the 'end of the lighter half of the year' and the 'beginning of the darker half.' No wonder Halloween is greeted with the dark colors of black and orange and associated with the fall crop of pumpkins. And certainly we all will agree that is true, this morning coming to work I got my coffee at the gas station at 7:30AM and it was still dark. Interestingly enough the ancients thought that on Halloween, the line between this world and the other world was less defined and spirits there where able to visit. Now mind you this was not in the exaggerated 'horror' context of today ... this was a celebrative time and the family' ancestors would be honored and invited to a brief visit; and it was also a time to ward off unfriendly/harmful spirits. The most popular way of warding them off was to wear costumes, that way when one dressed up as an unfriendly spirit the real harmful spirits would leave them alone, it was not to scare others.
Sow-in was also a time to take stock of food supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. Now this thought intrigued me, for I come from Mennonite stock. My grandfather/grandmother on my father's side were Mennonite [liberals], and spoke 'high German' along with English. Interestingly out of my father and eight uncle's and aunts, only two aunts understood the high German I would hear Gramps/Gram speak when in a discussion. My dad's family had an annual custom, and around this time [matter of fact my memory seems to recall it was either the week of, or week before or after, Halloween] all the brothers would come together for a 'slaughter day!' Since the majority of the siblings [6 of 9] raised livestock each would bring a cow, goat or pig to be slaughtered, then the fat, bones and meat would be equally distributed among all. Those who didn't live on a farm would contribute containers, ammunition and shoot the animals, host in a variety of ways that allowed them to be equal contributors.[This was also a time when us cousins would have a blast playing and running errands for our parents as they were butchering] I can remember my mother cooking all year from those tins filled with lard[fat]. But never did it strike me that this was during this Halloween season! Now I'm sure it was not done consciously to celebrate Halloween, that would have been a sacrilege, but it does go to show you how thin the line can become between secular and spiritual.

All Saints Day

Yesterday I attended an all day conference at Calvin Seminary, in which the guest speaker was Dr. Richard Lischer, Professor of Preaching at Duke Divinity School. I am now the proud owner of two of his books, 'Open Secrets: A Memoir of Faith and Discovery'[I've had this book for years] and newly purchased, 'The End of Words.' Yesterdays conference began with a worship service in which Dr. Lischer eloquently spoke about 'All Saints Day' Celebration.
It is remarkable how most Christians will probably celebrate Halloween as we give gifts and candy to little 'monsters,' and fail to celebrate on the first Sunday of November those who have gone on before us. THose who are now in that 'great cloud of witnesses' [Heb.12:1] that the writer of Hebrews talks about; not that they are watching and cheering us on, but that they are in the presence of God, there because of their faithfulness to his leadership in their lives. Some of these saints are well known, others have never been acknowledged by the common church, or perhaps by any church. As I thought about All Saints Day the first person to come to my mind was my father, a spiritual giant by my estimate ... then I began to think of others who in their journey on this earth touched and influenced me to love the Lord.
In the following morning session Dr. Lischer spoke about 'giving a word of hope' in these financially depressing times. Among the numerous notes that I took, I believe this statement was the headline, 'people don't expect the pastor to solve their problem but they do want to know you understand the times, and a word of hope, from beyond the ruins of this world, is brought to them!' He also spoke a little about C.S.Lewis's faith struggle after his wife, Helen Joy, died.
Then in the afternoon session Dr. Lischer spoke about the 'Four Horses of the Apocalyspe' ..
Suffering, Death, Doubt and Grief, and how they all ride together. He reminded us that 'suffering is often beyond the scope of pain and often in this world 'suffering is beyond reason,'
and not all suffering ends with such success as Job's. How often our view of the whole universe is shrunk to the size of my suffering. But among the afternoon lecture the thought that most grabbed my attention was 'people are desiring that the pastor gives words that 'only connect' ....... that connect them to the author. All in all, it was a good day, and a journey over and back was wonderful, as I went with our new lady Episcopalian Priest, Jeff the driver who is senior pastor at Presbyterian First, and one of his lay-preachers, our fellow Hope Methodist pastor, and ever-humble brother of our county's largest Independent Church ... what a mixture, what a blessing!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

That's My Boy!!

Today my son said the 'invocation' at the Detroit Economic Council meeting!! This is a pretty prestigous annual gathering of the economic leaders and financial minds coming together to see what can be done about the Detroit area's economic survival and success ................ CONGRATULATIONS Son - the Old Man is really proud of you!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Surprise! Surprise!

I am amazed and humbled [though not speechless] that there have been over 930 hits on my blogs site since the first of June!! So I am proposing that the 1000th visitor to my website receive a round trip cruise to Alaska, a years free gas and a $100 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble. Now here's the catch, you knew there was one, I'm having trouble finding a travel agency willing to donate the cruise,[our local travels agencies(2) say it not worth the promotion in this economy, and besides they'd probably never hear from you again, and I've never used their services before]so I'm seriously thinking of boycotting them, at this point in time there is NO oil company willing to offer the free gas [President Bush thought about it, but his old man wouldn't go along with the idea so he offered a woopie cushion instead - and his dad suggested a free jump out of an airplane, with a used parachute] and if B/N would donate a free gift certificate I'm just afraid I might keep it ..................................... but I do look forward to your hits and thoughts!

[I had to get this photo from a free photographers website]

Does the Vaccine Matter?

I want to thank a blog friend of mine for suggesting that I read the Atlantic Monthly Journal's article 'Does the Vaccine Matter?.' It is a most interesting investigative journey into the world of antiviral medications and our use of them. This article does not arrive at any conclusive evidence or decisions but it definitely awakens us to the fact that there is as wide a differing of opinions within the medical establishment as there is in religion. It is a read worthy of any one's time simply to educate ourselves. READ!
'Does the Vaccine Matter?' by Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer
Again, thanks Sherm.

Wonderful Day!

Yesterday was Pastor's Appreciation day across Western Christendom! Again, my congregation outdid themselves ............... they know I like to cook and bought me Rocco's cookbook 'Flavor!' I've already picked out the first two recipes I will try out. Some of them wrote a brief message on the recipe they would like me to fix for them - the top two I've picked out were not chosen by anyone .......... so I'll sneak them up on them at an Afterglow some Sunday night. I love doing that; at the last one I fixed a mac & cheese that our IT tech really loved, matter of fact he had seconds. Then he asked me what I made it with and when I told him cottage cheese and sour cream you should have seen his face, he doesn't like either of those ingredients ... it was a hallmark moment; because he couldn't retract the fact he had eaten so much of it, and really liked it! [the recipe is on this blog-site]
I got some really nice cards [I love cards] and then in a decorated paint box in the auditorium people were encouraged to leave little slips of encouraging words ......... little slips of matter - big notes of encouragement! All the cards and notes are safely tucked away in my 'memory box.'
Of course none of this would be possible without SWCOBL, and those cards/notes were addressed to her also. Last but not least we received some debit visa cards, a coupon to County Line, one of our favorite restaurants here in town, and then the most important one, a card to 'BARNES & NOBLE!' The Chuckie Cheese one will be used in the Big City East when we visit the grand kids.

One the literary front, at the present I'm working my way through Teddy Roosevelts great adventure 'The River of Doubt' and Pastor Ed Dobson's new book on his adventure 'Living a LIfe like Jesus for a Year.' I found out last night at church that there are a number of people interested in having a group book discussion on 'The Shack' .... so I'm starting to read that one also and looking for a study guide on the net .. any thoughts are more than appreciated; I know that has almost 200 reviews, which I've mostly read.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

H1N1 meanderings

Well all the public schools in the county are closed today, tomorrow and Friday because of the outbreak of H1N1, and so for the first time in 29yrs. I've had to cancel church becuase of health reasons. We have a policy that we cancel midweek services when school does for weather, but never before have we closed because of the flu.

I have a phobia against flu shots, and have never gotten any, although my doctor tells me that since I'm getting older [60 this summer] I really need to be getting them. The hospital chaplain, [I'm one of his volunteer chaplains] strongly recommended that any volunteer chaplains should get the shot. His concern is not so much with the vc, but with the patients which we might be visiting, and if we are called in to assist him. So I understand, and this morning I stood in line at the hospital and received my H1N1 shot now I'm protected - yah, right we'll see.

Several news accounts say that H1N1 mostly targets those under 30, especially those that are youngest; but I guess its the rest of us that the regular flu targets. Here are some common symptoms that you may have the flu:
...temperature over 100 degrees
...stuffy, runny nose
...dry, unproductive coughs
...extreme fatigue
...chills and fatigue
these are just a few, but probably the most obvious.

On a lighter note, H1N1 used to be called swine flu. That is until it was determined by some smarter-than-most-of-us doctor it didn't come from pigs. However today, according to the Minneapolis-St.Paul Star Tribune, 'at least one pig from Minnesota has tested positive for the H1N1 virus' ... the first case of a pig contracting the virus in the United States. Wonder what that pig, and his friends are thinking, 'there goes those humans messing up our lives again?' Do the pigs call it 'humanitis flu? or 'homo sapien virus' to be more scientific? Are they tempted to say, 'if a human touched that, I'm not eating it?'

Monday, October 19, 2009

The first time in 37 years!!

I can hardly believe my luck - it held out! Last wednesday, for the first time in 37yrs I was able to surprise my wife on our Anniversary! Right after I picked her up after work, I took her to one of our favorite Chinese resturants and there we had a delicious meal, then we went north to the second largest city in Michigan and watched the movie "The Proposal." [How appropriate can you get ... I just can't get over how good I am!:~)] ...

Just Some Recent Photo's

Since I'm not very good at this, I'm just happy I somehow got the picture CD on here. The first photo is one of a road ... I like to take pictures of roads, and have more coming - don't laugh, everyone has to have something weird about what they like! Then there is a picture of wild turkeys in our back yard next to the patio, then a couple pictures of a turtle we found in the front by the picture window; and finally the picture of the horse I mentioned earlier in a post, as it was standing in a lowland pool. The turtle pictures are out of sequence, but its the best I can do for now.
That's the extent of my photo-tech skills. One of these days I might get a 35mm. high powered zoom-zoom lens ... then watch out!!

The Rabbi Double-faults.

A chapter review in 'Elijah Visible'. Chapter #7
Rabbi Sheldon serves in Miami, he was far to liberal [or should I say unorthodox or unpredictable]for New York City were he was ordained. One day Rabbi Sheldon's brother, from Israel, is going to be the guest speaker. Rabbi Rose from Tel Aviv is his identical twin brother, both brothers also like to play tennis. As Rabbi Rose speaks to the congregation he talks about his brother, their rabbi, and tells how his brother was the more studious, God-fearing, Torah understanding of the two of them, but his brother had to suffer through the concentration camp, which he did not; the congregation didn't know this. One day brother Sheldon challenges his brother, and two other players to tennis match and the loser must for time speak to his congregation as the winner would .... this means that if Rabbi Rose loses he must invite his congregation in Israel to doubt the very existence of God, and if Rabbi Sheldon loses he will invite God into his sermons .. and the match comes down to a final point; which Rabbi Sheldon's team wins. But in winning that final point Rabbi Sheldon, who has always worn a cast over his one arm, loses that cast, and there for all to see is his concentration camp number tattoed into his arm. As thunder cracks and rain begins to pour down, Rabbi Sheldon, stands alone at center court and mysteriously begins to 'move gracefully into a Hasidic dance, mumbling Hebrew words of revelation, spinning joyously in the luminous rain.'[p.155] The game that was suppose to force his brother into introducing doubt into the congregation instead changes Rabbi Sheldon himself. I really enjoyed this chapter in the book, as I'm enjoying the whole book.
Chapter 7; Elijah Visited. Rosenbaum, Thane, St.Martins Griffin Publishing
Next chapter: #8 'Lost In A Sense'

Munday Morning Musing!

The grand kids, and world's bestest daughter-in-law, from the Big City East came and spent the weekend .... and we had fun. We went to Halloween farm just north of us, and petted the farm animals; where upon my grandson stuck his fingers thru the wire and got bite by the rooster .. then after telling us about it, I guess he thought that should make the rooster sorry, he went back and stuck it in again, and got bite again. after the second bite he decided not to do it again. Then we got my granddaughter some pretty gourds for her teacher back home, and everyone got to buy a pumpkin. Later while my granddaughter, and d-i-l, were at their hair appointments we took the grandsons out to ride the mini-tractors at another Halloween maze - that was an experience! We had another great time, and all our travels were protected.

In the past Sunday night's men's small bible group I think we had one of the most interesting studies .... we talked about the Sunday morning theme: 'Brokenness - A Discipline.' Let me explain the theme first; brokenness is a discipline not so much in the sense that we need repaired although it often includes that, but brokenness in the sense that we are always in the process of being drawn closer to Christ, and that can only come about as we remain 'pliable' in his hands. Even in the good times apostle Paul said, 'from glory to glory he's CHANGING us.' So we never arrive at completion, we're constantly being changed, and change means always being pliable to his will. Anyway in our small group we looked at the stories of Job & Jonah, and how brokenness related to them and applies to us - quite interesting. Let me give you a few of the issues we debated and leave you to your own conclusions. [Oh, by the way we didn't have time to get to Paul's story, which I touched on in the morning message]. Was Job's brokenness because he was simply the victim in a cosmic contest between God and Satan? Was Job so perfect he didn't need to ever be broken? Do we ever think that about ourselves? Did God use this example with Satan to accomplish a greater glory, both for himself and Job? How did this example of brokenness influence Job in his remaining life? If our brokenness doesn't influence us in a relational way to Christ have we truly been broken? .......... all of which leads us to Jonah's story ................. Was Jonah truly broken? Was Jonah's obedience really based on fear instead of being changed? Did Jonah really think he was above the need to be broken - do we ever think that? Did God's mercy toward Jonah show us that even when we refuse to be truly broken God still seeks after us? Then we reviewed the beginnings of Job & Jonah's stories, the attitudes which each of them started with and how that influenced they concept of brokenness. In his brokenness Job ran towards God, in Jonah's brokenness he ran from God ... so it is more probable that true brokenness happens only when we are running toward God [perhaps even unconsciously; don't forget the Prodical was running back to the Father] than when we are running from him? I wished we would have time to include the apostle Paul's story of brokenness, for Paul certainly understood the principle at work in this discipline. Maybe that's for another day?!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chicken Parmesan

For SWCOBL, who is the one who really works in this household, I prepared Chicken Parmesan for supper, along with some rice for the very first time. Both turned out fairly well, matter of fact I won't even reveal the recipe since most cooks have been making chicken parmesan for years. Tomorrow is our Anniversary so I'm going to have to keep my plans secret so that at the right moment I can look like a hero! ...... I seriously need the brownie points too.

This afternoon on a short drive through the countryside I came across these three horses grazing in a shallow water pond, and was able to get the largest one in a photo, if I ever figure out how to get a picture cd into this computer I'll post the picture. I have no idea how to work a digital camera, matter of fact three years ago I returned a digital to the store because it took me almost two hours to figure out how to set the date, I just use a Canon 35mm. The horse is looking back at me, as though to say, and you're wanting this simple picture because ....... ah, what do horses know? [no insult to you horse lovers, one of my granddaughters loves horses, but she doesn't even know this blog exists so I'm alright for now]

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mac & Cheese

Last night at our Missionary Worship & Dinner I made a new recipe for Macaroni & Cheese, my wife helping me. The recipe I borrowed from is called 'Chuck's Favorite Mac and Cheese, and you can find the original on the internet; but here is my rendition of it...
1 [8oz] elbow macaroni [used your favorite style of pasta]
1 [8oz] package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
[personally, I prefer more cheese, like 12oz; and velveeta softened would be even better]
1 [12oz] small curd cottage cheese
1 [8oz] sour cream
1/4 [I prefer at least 1/3 cup] of Parmesan cheese
salt/pepper to taste
1 cup dry bread crumbs [My wife crumbled up Ritz crackers, which is our favorite breading
1/4 cup buter, melted [here again used a whole stick of butter melted]
1. preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. boil/cook pasta in lightly salted water till done; drain
3. In 9X13 inch baking dish, stir together macaroni, shredded Cheddar cheese, cottage cheese,
sour cream, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
4. In another bowl mix together Ritz crumbs and melted butter.
5. Sprinkle crumbs/butter over macaroni mixture
6. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until top is golden
a. I baked the macaroni, covered for 20 minutes [this keeps from drying out]
b. then the last 10-12 minutes uncovered so topping can finish.

Fog and wonders

This past Saturday morning I was travelling to a Bible Quiz meet that our teens were participating in about an hour from home. The fog was rather thick and the morning just a little brisk. The drive was absolutely beautiful, as the leaves were turning different shades of incredible colors, and the distant silhouettes of deer and turkey dotted the landscape. I don't believe I've ever seen so many deer and turkey on that route, it was as though they came out to greet travellers and add some spice to our early morning drive. The young deer and turkeys symbolizing new life, and the coloring of the trees signaling the coming of winter created an oxymoron that brought such great joy reminded me that our waning years need not be negative, and filled with complaining but like nature we can always be singing God's praises, as the apostle Paul said, even in spite of our circumstances and personal health.

An Act of Defiance

chapter review: #4, Act of Defiance. Elijah Visible. Thane Rosenbam
As you've probably already noted I'm slowly working my way through this novel. Robenbaum's other 2 books in this series, The Golems of Gotham & Second Hand Smoke[which is personally autographed by the author] are waiting to be read. Elijah Visible sets on my nightstand, and I read it only when inspired .... working through its chapters and relating them to my personal life is a great experience, but since I'm only doing this when the urge hits me, its also very relaxing.
In the recent chapter Act of Defiance, Adam's Uncle [also a survivor of the concentration camps] comes to visit him from Europe. Adam has mixed emotions about this, but hopes that his uncle will be more open about his experience's than Adams father was. However his uncle doesn't want to speak about the past, and so they go on a wild bicycle ride through the park and then go to the casino's. Uncle Haskell has incredible luck at the tables, and keeps winning stacks of chips by playing only three number 14, 16, 25. Eventually he has won so much money they have to quit. The next morning, taking his uncle with him to the Holocaust class Adam teaches at Hunter College, an inspiration strikes him and he turns the class over to his uncle. His uncle holds the whole class's attention at a story he tells of the Holocaust that not even Adam knows.
A week later uncle Haskell dies, arriving at his bedside too late Adam sees some number stamped on his arm - 14, 16, 25 - the 'winning combinations easy to remember, permanently branded on his arm.' [.86] So many questions come from this story, yet the one that most catches my attention is, 'Did uncle Haskell see the struggle that his nephew Adam was going through and wanted him to realize there were no final answers, and that he needed to get on with his life, and let the past rest?' But I also believe that uncle Haskell in taking risks and gambling was dealing with his own past in the best way he knew, and that was to enjoy life at its fullest, however he interpreted that; maybe he was trying to make up for the past?
A couple years ago, I had a nephew [well, my only nephew] who had been in prison for nearly killing a man when he found his wife, and this man, had been having an affair for some time. I related earlier the story of how my sister died when my nephew was in prison, and he couldn't be at her bedside as she passed away. They had a very special relationship, and the hurt, guilt and pain of his being prison when he should have been with his mother was almost too much to bear ........... and so one day he went for a drive in the countryside. My nephew was a fast driver all the time; but he chose a dirt road that he travelled every day to work on; he knew it was a dangerous road, it had extremely sharp curves .. he had barely made one of the curves when he skidded off the pavement and his car lurched toward the deep embankment, first hitting a guard rail which threw him out of the car and onto the pavement; he never felt the impact. I've asked many questions, 'was he thinking about the past?' 'was he gambling with life, I can take these curves successfully again?' what was he thinking? We must be careful that our acts of defiance don't backfire on us ... that our acts of defiance don't take the place of positive handling of pain, guilt and loss.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Merry Misogynist

Before I begin this book review let me say that I wish, like Sage, I had my book reviews indexed; I'll have to tackle that task on another rainy day. I don't believe I have ever reviewed one of Colin Cotterill's fiction novels on Dr. Siri, a coroner in Laos. It is a very entertaining, and extremely informative series about an old doctor, who after the revolution plans on retiring. But the party however has not official coroner, and even though Dr. Siri knows nothing about being a coroner he is handed the job, and must learn while he goes. The author, Colin Cotterill, lives in Thailand with his family, but did one time live in Laos. Since I'm not a historian of that part of the world I'm not really sure when Colin is giving us a true glimpse of the culture in Laos or making fun of it, but in either case its an interesting geological journey. A coworker at SWCOBL's place of work lent her the books and I've read all of them, and must say I anxiously anticipate the author next novel. Perhaps these books also interest me because of the time period, which was close to the Vietnam war. Last night I finished the most recent one, 'The Merry Misogynist' and enjoyed it. They are short novels and I can usually read them in only two days. The novels in the series are: 'The Coroner's Lunch; Thirty-Three Teeth; Disco for the Departed; Anarchy and Old Dogs; Curse of the Pogo Stick and the latest The Merry Misogynist.'
Cotterill, Colin. New York, New York. Soho Press, Inc. ENJOY

Another Man's Treasures

Well its that time of year, and 'She Who Can Only Be Loved' is having her fall garage sale. For many years now she's bugged me about letting her sell my fiction paperbacks, and I've resisted...not this year. If she has enough room she can sell 95% of all my books, fiction and non-fiction, and even Christian books. Not long ago I told my son he could look through my library and take any book he wanted, by this time next year I hope to be down to less than 30% of the books I now have in stock, I'm drastically downsizing! Thanks Sherm, I think your wife started this with your camping stock!:~) I'm guessing its fairly true, one man's yesterdays are another man's treasure. You'll probably note, I've reworded that old axiom a trifle.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rarely do this.

This is the first time in my blog I have ever promoted another blog; but because of the tremendous quality of wildlife photo's and stories I'd like to invite you to check out

Another daily walk!

This afternoon as I took my usual walk, I came to an open space off the road leading into the woods, as I went a few steps into the woods, approx. 5 yards in front of me two black squirrels were chasing each other around a tree, about a yard from them a chipmunk, on another thin sapling sat watching ...... so I stood and watched the merriment; then out of nowhere [which is where they most often come from] a doe appears. She stood and watched for a few moments, cocking her head back and forth, sure that I was not a permanent fixture she had just always missed before when traveling that way .... finally satisfied that even though I didn't belong there I was not a threat to her, she meandered off. Coming back, on the other side of the road almost directly across from my earlier sighting, in a neighbors side yard, under a tree stood a doe and her young one, starring at the road watching me. I really enjoy these walks and the wild life that grabs my attention for a few moments - gives me an excuse to rest!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Evil, a primer

book review: 'Evil, a Primer: A history of a bad idea from Beelzebub to Bin Laden'
William Hart. New York, New York. MJF Books Publishing. 2004
I looked up the word primer and found that it means an introductory book on a subject, so I guess in the loosest interpretation you might consider Mr. Hart's book a primer. If one is looking for a answer to what evil is than you will be sorely disappointed. In the book we are drug through the tired philosophical and religious explanations of what evil is only to be reminded in the closing chapter, 'evil, in the end, cannot be romanticized, trivialized, laughed off or argued away.'[p.176] Mostly the author leaves us with two thoughts about evil. First that evil is a ready tool of escapism for those who don't want to face basic human instincts to hurt each other; second, there is a long cultural/religious habit of treating woman as second class citizens because through scriptural interpretations by fundamentalists, and mythologists, they are basically considered to be evil; both concepts inherently evil in themselves. I just didn't think the book was worth the time it took to read it, but then perhaps I was searching for something the author never intended to supply - an answer to what is evil? It is certainly more than 'the absence of good,' for evil exits in spite of, in company with, good. But if you read the reviews from you'll find that they disagree with my assessment - such is the eye of the reader!

Early Morning Recaps

*The Old Gray Lady reports [Mon, Oct.5th] that soon bloggers will be required by the FTC to disclose any connection with advertisers that may have. Of course that's just the tip of the ice berg but it reminds us that our ever faithful government has finally succeeded, where politicians have failed, to get its foot in the personal internet door. I don't have problem with disclosure,but what I have a problem with is the selectivity that will go along with it. The website for reading this article is .....

*Arriving home late last night I decided to stay up and watch a couple of tv programs. The first was 'Lie To Me.' The basic story line was that a college guy, at a party had sex with an underage girl. The beginning of his defense was that he had no idea she was underage, which in this day in age its easy to disguise one's age; finally, after a good bit of investigative effort its established that the boy was telling the truth that he didn't know her age, and all indications hinted she was older. However in the course of that investigation the main star of the show comes across a couple high school friends of his daughter who quite regularly frequent these college frat parties and have made a contract between them to see who can have the greatest sex with college boys.
The telling moment comes when the leader of these particular high school girls says to the investigator, 'what's the big deal its only sex.' This is what we have taught our children, perhaps not so much by what we have taught them as by what we haven't; and its also an indictment on the value system of our culture. Later when the Prosecutor realizes the evidence is stacked against the victim, who herself was a part of the h.s. girls contract, the defender is set free. The victim's father, who can not handle the truth when his own daughter tells him about it, goes out and kills the freed college defender, and our last picture of him is being put into a police car ... the tragedy of this scene is that the Father, in committing a murder will now be behind bars for the rest of his life - who is going to raise his daughter that is struggling - who is going to be there to hold her hand in the trials of life and direct her into making good decisions. Of course I guess the argument can be made he wasn't really there to begin with, but his daughter's finally revealing the truth could have been a moment of hope - a moment of starting all over again. Is this what our culture has come to? Was this a true depiction of how the average high school student feels about sex? .... What lies are we telling ourselves?

*The Clash of the Gods: Lord of the Rings. This was a great show, the Lord of the Rings is definitely one of my favorite myths. It was also a good show for understanding how the Lord of the Rings series came about through Tolkien's writings of the Hobbitt and Silmarillion. If you're a fan of JRR Tolkien you might want to check out 'The ... or go to I may have more to say about this later on.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Don't Know When I'll Listen

Right after lunch I started taking my daily walks again .... toooo much weight, its got to go. As I grabbed my treasured walking stick and an umbrella [suppose to rain today] I thought about taking my camera, but at the last moment left it. As I was returning, I took a short cup through a small patch of my neighbors woods; he likes to mow the deer trails and its always fun to see if I can sneak up on some. Only a few yards on the path a squirrel [regular gray variety] leaped onto a tree right in front of me; a few inches closer and the squirrel would have brushed me. Regaining my composure I walked on a couple yards and then turned around, and sure enough, about 8 ft up on a comfy branch there that squirrel sat watching me. I tried to have a conversation but it was all one sided; I'm not proficient at squirrel talk. It would have made a fantastic picture, and great talking point with my little grandkids, but of course I left the camera in the house. I've tried to learn to go with my premonitions, but this one time I failed. Of course in the future when I take my camera nothing will happen, but then, that was my excuse today?!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Chapter 2: Accepting the Gift

manuscript in progress
'God's Gift of Grief' .. chapter 2: Accepting the Gift.
My parents insisted before my sister or I opened any gifts we first had to thank those who had given them to us. I never really understood why we couldn't first open the gift and then give thanks until I began having kids of my own. My parents wanted us to get into the habit of showing gratitude for the gift before we discovered what the gift was so that our thanks was not influenced by what the gift was. For example, if we liked the gift our thanks was usually a big heart felt praise; if however we didn't really appreciate the gift that much a somewhat reluctant and mediocre thanks was said. Even in my adult years I must confess that I still have a tendency to appreciate gifts according to how I classify them. Perhaps the apostle Paul understood this concept well when he wrote to the Thessalonians [1:5:18] 'give thanks in all circumstances.' In other words recognize that true praise is not conditioned upon what circumstances you find yourself in.
The same thanks needs to be give to our Creator for the gift of grieving. Up front we know that grieving to come is not going to be comforting for the most part, its going to be a laborious
and sorrowful process. We know that the Giver has placed before us a gift that will both carry us through and bring us out more fulfilled. Giving thanks [accepting] the gift is necessary before we can even begin to unwrap it, and acknowledging that we are not strong enough to unwrap this gift in our own strength invites the help of our Giver. Have you ever received a gift, only to unwrap it and discovered you're really not sure what the gift is, much less know how to operate it? You have to read the instructions and/or ask what the gift is; the gift of grieving comes with instructions on how we might best utilize it, but the only one with the proper instructions is the Giver. Oh there are principles that are already known, but every one's gift of grief is different, though some things are the same, many are unique and different; and the valley of shadows is personal and must often be travelled alone, and the only enduring strength and guidance we need come from the rod and staff of the Giver.
Giving thanks for the gift of grief as we begin the journey acknowledges that we are also giving God the leadership role. It is important we establish for ourselves that He will lead for this determines not only the degree of guidance we will receive but the depth of help He will give. Its rather strange to acknowledge that how we accept the gift will in many ways determine its effectiveness in our life. So many Christians never open and use this gift to its fullest because of the myth that our 'faith' will see us through ... what is this all about? Why do we deceive ourselves into thinking its okay to place our grieve in his hands and think we've settled the issue? Jesus in his reaction to Lazarus' death, even though he knew it was coming, certainly didn't teach us that.
There will be many times n this journey that the human desire for answers can prove overwhelming, and the frustration of not receiving those answers can lead to severe bouts with depression, and we find our faith not as strong as we anticipated it was. I'm reminded that C.S. Lewis in walking through his grieving process over his wife Joy came to the point where he even had think through, 'Is God really good?' When God is leading us sometimes not having the answers is for our gain, and our faith, leaning on him matures. Proverbs admonishes us [3:5] 'lean not on our own understanding' and then the prophet Isaiah reminds us, 'His ways, his thinking are not our ways or thinking.'[55:8] Grieving is not always about answers and quick,
easy solutions, but about maturing and transformation. Death changes our lives forever, we will never be the same, grief does not teach things will ever be back to normal or the same; the gift of grieving is about coming to grips with the transformation brought about by death.
[As I close for now let me remind you how valued your input is. Later, when rewrites begin to take shape, your thoughts will often challenge, inspire and transform this project ................ keep them coming, thanks]

Friday, October 2, 2009

"Heights of Hypocrisy"

'Capitalism Did Nothing For Me' ... by Millionaire Filmmaker Michael Moore.
Now I enjoy a good laugh as well as anyone, but this doesn't even qualify as a laugh, its much closer to a lie. After reading the article however, I agree with Michael Moore in that he should be upset for these reasons:
*Capitalism has only provided him with $21 million for directing the film 'Fahrenheit 9/11
*Capitalism has only provided him with $25 million from his film 'Sicko'
*Capitalism has only provided him with another $17 million for profits from DVD sales of Sicko
Moore explains 'Clearly, I'm not loaded in the way you described. But I do well, obviously because my films do well'
Shame, shame on anyone who sees a movie or buys a video this man receives profits from. I wonder if he could have produced them in Venezuela or Cuba or North Korea? Would he find freedom to express his differences with the government of Iran or even Egypt or Saudi Arabia?
I'm sure he might be so big in Africa or Haiti, but it wouldn't be from gluttony but malnutrition.
Just when I think I've seen the heights of hypocrisy from some politician, Michael Moore steps up to the plate. But part of the beauty of capitalism is that we can make a fool of ourselves and get money for it at the same time - and Hollywood wonders why the average American thinks its a tad looney? [course that's assuming the average American cares]
[sidebar: Moore's movic 'Capitalism: A Love Story' is about to make its debut; I wonder how capitalism will short change him on this one?]
*taken from an article in written by Nicholas Ballasy, Oct. 1.09

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fall Fishing

I took this afternoon off and went out to a lake some of our friends live on ..... I fished for over 2 yrs. from the dock and caught 3 little blue gills I threw back in. The neighbor of my friend came by, as I was packing to go, and asked how I did. Well, he said, the blue gills haven't been that good this year, but man am I catching bass right off the end of my dock, where some of my casts had landed. We chatted for a moment and I left, thinking, if I'd known it was bass I wouldn't have put worms on, and probably used my heavier pole, oh well. The colors are starting to change and the lake was rather placid and so the scenery was great ..... ah, but next week, maybe I'll return for a few hours and catch 'the biggggggg one?' yah, right!
My Ofc. Manger pointed out to me that I said I was fishing from the dock for 2yrs .......... that would nice, but I hardly think I'd get away with it. So I congratulated her on finding the mistake, no one else had. Then she replied, in her humble way, 'that's because no one else reads your blog!'

Kids in Church

She Who Can Only Be Loved sent me these and I thought I'd pass them along - ENJOY!

*3 yr old Reese: 'Our Father, Who does art in heaven, Harold is his name. Amen'
*A little boy was overheard praying: 'Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it. I'm having a real good time like I am.'
*After the christening of his baby brother in church, Jason sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked three times what was wrong. Finally his son replied, 'That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I wanted to stay with you guys.' *One particular four yr. old prayed, 'And forgive us our trash baskets, as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.' ......... now that has some theology and application!!
*A Sunday school teacher as the kids in her class: 'Why is it necessary to be quiet in church? One bright little girl replied, 'Because some people are sleeping.' .... hear ye! hear ye!
*A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin 5 and Ryan 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake... their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. 'If Jesus were sitting here, he would say, 'Let my brother have the first pancake, I can wait....' Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, 'Ryan, you be Jesus!' [right now I'm thinking of several grand kids I could substitute for Kevin .... ha!
* A wife invited some people to dinner. At the table she turned to their 6yr. old daughter and asked, 'Would you like to say the blessing?' I don't know what to say, her daughter replied. "Just say what you hear Mommy say" came her mothers reply. The little girl bowed her head and said, 'Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?

The Pants in the Family

Thane Rosenbaum, in the third short story of his book Elijah Visited, writes in The Pants in the Family of going to the carnival with his father. He wants to get his father to open up about his experiences in the concentration camps; but his father refuses and he must be content with just spending time at a carnival with him. Thane [Adam, his name in the short story] grows frustrated because his father is getting more feeble and in poor health. Thane does notice that when they are at the carnival his father stops at every shooting gallery, and always amazes everyone watching at how he never misses a target - is he shooting at those who brought such unspeakable evil into his life?
One day the son gets a call at college that his father's body has been found on the boardwalk - a heart attack they say. "Morning joggers found him face down against the boards, hands raised up, surrendering to the sea."[p.52] He hurries home and returned to the shoreline. The first thing he sees when he enters his old bedroom is a pair of his pants that his father had asked to wear to a wedding - they are still pressed, as though not worn .. had his father gone to the wedding? He puts on the pants and walks along the same boardwalk they had hiked to the carnival, to the place where they had found his father. Gazing at the spot and slipping his hands into his back pockets, in one of the soft velvet pockets a full bottle of nitroglycerin tables, yet to be opened falls into his hand. Why is it still unopened? Why hadn't his father transferred the bottle to the pants he was wearing on that final walk? Had his father traded going to the wedding to walk to the sea? Was he headed back to the shooting galleries again? As thought the already unanswered questions weren't enough is seems his departed father has left him more. If he hadn't been so insistent on his father answering his questions would he still be alive ... or was this a coded answer? Did his father accept this the final battle he could not win? What legacy had he passed to his son? Was his father's leaving the pants on his bed a way of passing on the family torch, 'now you get to wear the pants in the family, what answers to life will you give?
I recently read an article about the remunerations won from Swiss banks that Nazi had deposited, stolen from their Jewish victims. A Jewish leader, although thankful for the gesture, criticized those who spent more time on worrying about what people thought of the holocaust than they did in helping the survivors. It's documented that the large majority of survivors live in poverty, and that even this money [almost 2 billion dollars] will only help a small minority.
I wonder if the author, in this short story, is not dealing with the same issue, only on a more personal level?
Thane Rosenbaum. Elijah Visible . Chptr. 3:Pants in the Family. pg.35-54
Next Chapter: #4 An Act of Defiance