June 04, 2008
HT: Cute Overload Yes, I do read it. ;-)
June 02, 2008
Up at 3:40 AM this morning after going to bed at 12:01 AM the same morning. Not happy.
May 07, 2008
Back in 2006, my wife and I spent 9 days in Madrid and Granada learning all about Spanish history and art, along with several homeschooled students. My wife, the talented designer, has created a scrapbook of the trip you can see here, if you are interested.
May 05, 2008
In the unusual things to happen to me category, for some reason a short essay I wrote for this blog back in January of 2006 has turned up at Urbanministry.org. I don't remember ever submitting the article, (and maybe I didn't) but it is still cool. I think this is one of the better things I have written, actually. Still, I had forgotten all about it and I'm not sure why it has turned up here except that maybe one of the folks I know who work on the site stuck it up there.
The article is about making short term mission trips more holistic, and was the answer to a question in one of my Chalmers Center courses. The Chalmers Center is a correspondence school that is teaching Christians about integrating business and missions.
I know a couple of the folks at Techmission.org, who run the site where the article was posted, but hey, if people find it helpful, more power to them.
Still, its weird to see your name and being called a speaker/author like you actually have some sort of validity and importance to your random thinking.
April 08, 2008
... the online home of the world’s greatest writers. Through original, author-generated content, we offer a trustworthy and creative social network unlike any other. Here, you can connect with your favorite authors, access current industry news, and comment on engaging features. By fostering true community between authors and readers, Red Room showcases esteemed writers and inspires the next generation. We also give back to the community we aim to nurture with our commitment to the Causes We Support.
Thanks to Rosemary for posting a link to our interview at Red Room, and to Red Room for thinking it worthy enough to put on their homepage!
March 29, 2008
I'm back from Germany! It was a great trip and everyone had a lot of fun.
Please enjoy these pictures from my trip last week to Germany. We saw lots of sites, including Munich, Rothenburg ob de Tauber, Neuschwanstein, Bacharach, The Rhine Valley Region, Trier, and Burg Eltz.
You will need Flash player to view it. If you can't, you can visit the Flickr page instead.
March 20, 2008
I'm headed out of the country tomorrow to take a bunch of teenagers to Germany to learn about art history, so this blog will be on a ten day hiatus. I'll be back in April with lots more stuff. I'll tell you all about the trip when I get back, and will have lots of pictures to share!
March 17, 2008
Well, looks like I know more people with some notoriety than I thought. The husband of a former teacher of mine is giving a Celtic guitar performance on WRFG FM Atlanta at 8:30 tonight! His name is Robert McMillan, and he is quite a gifted guitarist. Tune into the site to listen live at 8:30 EST.
And for your viewing enjoyment, check out this awesome custom guitar! (Click the picture to go to the seller's page.)
And in the I know someone sort of famous category, we have Japheth Light (the first "h" is silent) a guy I went to church with when I was teaching in Palm Bay, Florida and whose wife was the third grade teacher to my fifth/sixth grade.
It turns out that my friend is the inventor of a new, harder version of Sudoku called Tri-doku. A math guy through and through, Japheth thought that standard Sudoku was too easy, so he and a friend invented this new form. His first collection of puzzles has been published by a renowned puzzle publisher.
I'm not a Sudoku fan, (I prefer crosswords) but if you are, and think standard Sudoku is too easy, you might try my friend's newer version. (and if you understand these rules, I bow before your awesome prowess.)
Tridoku uses a triangle rather than a square for its format and the rules are as follows:
No. 1, the large triangle rule: The numbers 1-9 must be placed in each of the nine large triangles in the puzzle.
No. 2, the inner triangle rule: The numbers 1-9 must be placed in each of the three legs of the inner shaded triangle. Notice the numbers in the corners of the inner triangle will each count for two legs of the inner triangle. So the 3 in the left corner counts as the 3 for the top shaded leg and the left shaded leg of the inner triangle.
No. 3, the outer triangle rule: The numbers 1-9 must be placed in each of the three legs of the outer shaded triangle. As in rule 2, the numbers at the corners each lie in two legs of the outer triangle (i.e. the 2 at the top counts as the 2 for the left and right leg of the outer triangle).
No. 4, the hexagon rule: No two neighboring (touching) cells may contain the same numbers. This rule goes for any two cells that touch -- regardless of whether the cells meet along an edge or at a single point.
In other words, no numbers can be repeated within any small hexagon in the entire puzzle.
Congratulations to my friend Japheth on his achievement, and his other creation to be released next year, Snowflake Sudoku.
February 14, 2008
Recently, an author acquaintance of mine suggested that I start submitting my reviews and other thoughts to various e-zines and other trade magazines devoted to spec fic. But as I think about it, and do a little research on payment types and methods, I’ve come to the conclusion that it really isn’t for me.
I didn’t start this blog with the intent to find work. I have a very good paying job with benefits that I really like. Not only that, it is a job that, while making me a capitalist pig, also lets me have plenty of free time, during work, to write posts for this little hobby.
Nor is this blog an attempt to promote my own fiction writing. I have no training in creative writing whatsoever (except for a few classes in my undergrad studies, and they were just for fun). I am a trained elementary teacher for goodness sake! The best I can come up with is, “See Spot Run,” and even that is pushing it. I have no agenda here other than the gratification of myself. (I know where you just went. When you stop giggling, read on.)
I like to think. You know, that thing your brain is for? And to be honest, since giving up television (except for movies and boxed TV shows through Netflix) I have time on my hands that can be put to a purpose. Sure, I could volunteer at my local hospital, but I’d be the ugliest candy-striper you ever saw. People would die just to avoid my entrance into their room. Honestly, I know sci-fi and fantasy. It’s what I enjoy. So I blog about it. (Not that I don't still volunteer for charitable organizations, I just don't pour all my time into them, or seek positions of responsibility in them.)
And of course, there is the fact that selling your writing is a full-time job. It’s a lot of work, as any freelancer will tell you, and it lacks any real security, something my oldest child obsessive personality cannot handle. I need security, and I’m not ashamed to say so. I looked at some of the requirements for publishing writing at various e-zines and trade mags, just for my own information, and it’s tough to get them to accept your work. I have to say, I really respect those folks who can do it.
Would I like to write a novel in my lifetime, see my name in print for my non-fiction or short stories? Sure, that would be nice, but am I willing to make the sacrifice necessary to make that happen? No, not really, and I’m mostly okay with that.
I’d rather pour my energy into making this blog better and better, so that you can enjoy what I enjoy, without feeling like I’m selling you something. My opinions on books are as honest as I know how to make them, and though I am rarely disappointed, I will let you know when I am, with no apologies to whoever sent me the book to review.
I just don’t see myself as someone who needs to go through the effort of publishing my material. If someone wants to borrow and republish what I have written with my permission, more power to them. (SF Crowsnest has done this a few times already.) And if I get paid for it, even better. But I am not going to seek these folks out.
I get paid well at my job, I like what I do for a living, and the mediocre amounts of money that could be produced by trying to put my name into print are so pitiful compared to my salary that it just isn’t worth it to me in terms of money.
I’m just a speculative fiction fan with a critical mind who likes to apply it to the thing he loves. I seek neither money, nor glory (although that would be nice, I won’t deny it) just an open forum to express my thoughts and opinions, a good way to meet authors I respect and whose writing I enjoy, and a useful tool for those of you trying to decide what book to read in your spare time.
I hope I’ve met those expectations in the last six months since this blog took off, and I plan to meet or exceed them in the future.
February 12, 2008
I just bought my membership for this year's Dragon*Con in Atlanta, Georgia. Anybody else planning on going?
February 02, 2008
I get not one, but two articles in this month's SF Crowsnest.
I am kind of disappointed with the first one. As I reread it, I find a whole lot of flaws and mistakes, and even once sentence that said the opposite of what I meant! Oh, well, it is still a useful tool to get people rethinking their use of the word "formulaic".
January 30, 2008
This picture, taken by my wife, was recently chosen to be included in the online map provider Schmap. You can see the page where the photo was included here.
The picture itself is of a tomb located along the Ancient Appian Way in Rome, Italy. My wife and I have traveled there several times and loved it. I hope you enjoy the picture.
January 19, 2008
Well, We have had snow twice this week in North Georgia. This is an unusual and unprecedented (to my knowledge) thing.
We also found out that Darra really likes the snow. Both times she has played in it, by choice, by going through her doggies door. She will stay out there for a few minutes and then come racing back into the house to play. All the while she is dripping wet.
This is my favorite photo of her playing in the snow. See the dollop of snow on her nose? So very cute.
January 11, 2008
Since I usually don't post on the weekends, I thought I met let all and sundry know that tomorrow is my birthday. I'll be turning 28. (but I'm still younger than my wife. I often like to say that while she robbed the cradle, I robbed the grave. ;-)
Anyway, my present to me will be: A nap with a dash of reading on the side.
(That's our little red dachshund Darra by the way, she just loves to nap with us.)
I hope you have a restful Saturday, I know I will.
January 04, 2008
December 14, 2007
For those of you who read this blog, you know that I don't personalize very much of what I write ( although I hope you get some of my reactions to books in the reviews) and I almost never post anything personal. I'm just not so good at talking about myself, which is weird considering how arrogant I am.
It is also Because the wife has a blog that covers the personal stuff I avoid talking about, so I don't really feel the need.
So she has been slowly putting up some reactions from her journal around about the time we first met. This second installment of O-History is about our first date. I did not know it was a date, so perhaps that is why it went so well in the end. If I had thought otherwise I would have been shaking in my boots! I know for sure I would have been sweating unduly. I just wanted to use a gift card I got for Christmas that easily paid for two meals. (and yea, I thought this chick was hot. So sue me.)
So enjoy a little story about me and my gorgeous wife, if you like.
December 02, 2007
Stephen Hunt of SF Crowsnest contacted me a month or so ago after I posted my interview with Brian Ruckley. They wanted to repost it over there. It was flattering, I must say. I said yes, and so it is up in the December 2007 issue.
After all, the November 2007 issue circulation was: 702,831 readers, who read 2.31 million articles, generating 39.7 million hits. That is a lot of traffic!
SF Crowsnest is one of the best and most well known online magazines of the speculative fiction genre. It's monthly content is always great and interesting. And guess what? I've joined those other great article writers. He even put me up there as third on the list, just after Scifichick and Aidan, both bloggers who have been at this much longer than me and whose content far exceeds mine in quality. Very cool. I'm grateful to Stephen Hunt for giving me the opportunity.
Feel free to congratulate me in the comments. ;-)
November 08, 2007
These are my notes from a lecture given by Pulitzer prize winning author Laurel Thatcher Ulrich on September 19, 2007. This feisty gray haired lady presented a fascinating case for continued work in understanding the history of women, and in breaking down stereotypes. Phrases in quotes are direct quotes from the lecture.
“Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History”
A Lecture by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (Pulitzer prize winning author of A Midwife's Tale)
Margaret Mitchell House and Museum Literature Center
See the webcast at www.atlantaforumnetwork.org
Books, Activism, Memory
- Read first few pages of Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History in order to define the phrase succinctly.
- Phrase comes from her first article in history in 1976 on Puritan Funeral Sermons
- Kay Mills found it, accidentally changed “seldom” to “rarely” hence two different quotes
- In 1996 Jill Portugal of one angry girl designs asked permission to print it on a t-shirt.
- Kacey Jones sang a song incorporating the term on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion – the song can be found in the book.
- Sania Mirza, Indian Muslim tennis player has taken it as a slogan for herself
- Ulrich enjoys ambiguous titles for books
- Good Wives is about normal women dealing with prescriptions for good behavior vs. actual behavior
- Age of Homespun is about frontier violence and the intersection of Native Americans and the English
- Well behaved women are often characterized as Emily Dickinson types.
- Well behaved women are those who do what is appropriate for her culture and preserve the status quo
- “Well-behaved” is not referring to good or bad behavior (i.e. Rosa Parks was chosen as the example case against segregation precisely because she was well-behaved, yet she made history.)
- Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History is about “celebrating the impact of the women’s movement of the 60’s and 70’s on knowledge.”
- “Because women tried to make history they discovered the past.”
- Those who want to make history seek to know history.
- “Caring about history we make history”
- Book is set up with three women in three libraries in different time periods and countries.
- Christine di Pizan – 15th century “The City of Ladies”
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton – 19th century leader of women’s rights movement
- Virginia Woolf – reference to famous British Museum doodle leading to the writing of fictional account Shakespeare’s sister Judith where in frustration at lack of success, raped and abandoned she kills herself.
- Woolf was wrong – Elizabeth Carey was forced to marry like Judith but was popular writer (more popular than Shakespeare) in the same time; Artemisia Judelefsky – raped, seduced like Judith, became famous artist
- Tells stories and shows parallels between the three women and retells their stories through the lens of the scholarship of the last 30 years.
A Renaissance in Women’s History
- Christine di Pizan loved the Amazons (800 year kingdom).
- Ulrich retold the story of the Amazons in light of recent scholarship including funny story about Amazon.com being sued by a women’s bookstore called Amazon for copyright infringement. Amazon tried to say they were named after the river rather than Amazon’s of myth. Ironically the river was named by a Spanish explorer who thought he had found the ancient kingdom found in the myths.
- Quilt documentation projects came to light.
- Ordinary people asked new questions
- “academic historians do not own history.”
- Well-behaved women don’t think their lives matter so they don’t preserve their own history by keeping diaries, etc.
- So being misbehaved means preserving ones role in history, no matter how small
Where are we in terms of male response to women?
- “I’m a historian” not a sociologist
- Ulrich is depressed when she goes into bookstores and only sees books on war
- The book marketing world thinks history is for men and fiction for women – a holdover of the 18th century
- “Our knowledge of history is not very deep, let alone women’s history.”
Was there someone in this new book that touched her like Martha Ballard of A Midwife’s Tale?
- not in new book, no one ever will
- new book is about many women rather than being a microcosm like A Midwife’s Tale.
- Ulrich was touched by the new book’s multiplicity
- Ulrich had to rely on other people’s scholarship
- Writing out of her comfort zone
- Moved by how much scholars and good citizens have done in research.
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton/Jarrett Smith and abolitionist helps Stanton meet a slave named Harriett Powell. Ulrich does research on the underground Railroad and ends up connecting two disparate organizations in New York and Canada who have information on this person.
If Ulrich were to be a history advisor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign what characterizations should Clinton avoid or identify with?
- Hillary has an interesting dilemma, she is both new and old, but is likely the first female presidential candidate who can make it.
- Should not identify with Woodhull – first woman to run for President in 1870’s
- Nearly 20% of the women who have served in Congress have succeeded husbands who died in office.
- Hillary Clinton is in peculiar position of being a pseudo-widow because she is potentially following a husband into office that is not dead. She will be both helped and hurt by his legacy, unlike the ones who follow dead husbands.
- The more interesting question is why it has taken so long to get to this point in the US when other developed nations have already elected women.
How has technology changed getting published?
- it is harder to get published
- her first book was her Doctoral Dissertation, and now he own publisher won’t even look at doctoral dissertations.
- “The Internet is fabulous and terrifying” but is helpful in making connections.
- She would like funding of digitization of primary sources not just go to the 19th century notion of history.
Would we be better off if women had been ruling the world for a while?
- “NO!” Emphatically
- She is a social historian, great things happen when lots of people make small changes, not rulers.
- Women are not always better peacemakers, that is a stereotype.
- See her chapter on the Amazons.
- Women have been warriors for as long as men have and have been just as violent.
- Gender is an important variable but it doesn’t explain everything.
Why are we reluctant to elect women?
- women themselves have a lot do with Nixon’s veto of childcare act.
- Can make the argument that 19th century women had more effect on moral culture and society than men did (child-rearing)
- Women have had economic and political power in the past, but it was directed toward the home rather than those spheres as we understand them.
- Women had a new politics, a moral imperative (more important than the others even)
- Conservative women destroyed the early feminist movements, not just men.
- Activist women disagree.
What was Ulrich’s impetus for becoming not well-behaved?
- committed to study
- marrying young and having a lot of kids
- history changed her life
- Grew up in Mormon Rocky Mtn. West, Idaho.
- Heard about noble pioneers from childhood and felt diminished by their story leading to questions and research.
- Some of those pioneer grandmother’s were not so well-behaved.
- Mormon’s were just as radical in the 19th century as the Elizabeth Cady Stantons, even though they were polygamists as well as feminists and suffragettes.
- Ulrich’s stereotypes were blown away.
- Being a pioneer was creatively dealing with the circumstances, as women who make history should be today.
October 30, 2007
Back in August, mental_floss magazine asked a question on their blog. They were beginning a series on issues affecting the 2008 election, and were planning to begin the series with an article on immigration policy.
Well, I sent in a question.
Surprise, surprise, they used my question (see below or number 24 in the blog post) to create a sidebar in the current issue ("The Golden Lobe Awards" and Einstein's picture grace the cover), detailing immigration policy from 1882 to the present day. I was flabbergasted, and happily surprised!
#24 John Says: August 23rd, 2007 at 6:53 am
What quota’s still exist for whom we allow to enter legally? I know that in the great wave, only certain numbers of people from certain countries were allowed in. (i.e.) for every 3 Irish, one Russian.) Do ethnic or national quota’s still exist and what are they? Are there other quota’s used now?
This was so cool! And as a special reward, my name appeared on page 8 of volume 6, issue 6 of mental_floss: Where Knowledge Junkies get their fix. The picture below is a scan of the mention.
I may not be an author, but I can ask good questions! It was kind of a neat little thing, I wanted to share this little piece of personal joy with all of you, my faithful readers! And I thank mental_floss for being so kind in printing my name at the top of the list.
October 24, 2007
My friend over at Provocative Church tagged me with the 10-20-30 virus. The idea is that you write about what you were doing 10, 20, and 30 years ago, then tag five other folks to do the same. It's a nice little way to learn about people whose blogs you might read for info, but not because you know them personally and provides a little extra linkage as well. So here goes:
10 years ago: I was living in Atlanta, working at a Chick-fil-A roughly twelve hours a day, six days a week. I was going part-time to college using the nearly invented distance learning by mail at the University of Georgia. I had graduated early through homeschooling and was saving up to go to Covenant College after I turned 18. What free time was left, I spent reading fantasy fiction. I was particularly into Terry Goodkind and Robert Jordan then.
20 years ago: I was seven, and devouring books voraciously. I had few if any friends, and reading was my one great passion. At the time, I loved detective fiction, and was reading Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle over and over again.
30 years ago: I didn't exist. My parents had not yet even met at U of D, and I (being a surprise first child) was not something either of my parents, after they were married in '78, were wanting yet. I suppose God knew who I was, but nobody else did, that's for sure.
October 18, 2007
Criticism, that fine flower of personal expression in the garden of letters. ~ Joseph Conrad
I felt that with the growing (an appreciated) success of this blog. That it was about time I did a little explaining about why I do what I do. (Doo-doo. See? I can be funny.) There’s a lot to cover so either bear with me, or stop reading now and save yourself the time. (I mean, you could be playing squash right now, and wouldn’t that be better?)
For those of you who have decided to stay, thank you. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
Reason #1: I am opinionated.
Really opinionated. And if there is one topic you can get me talking about for hours, it is fantasy fiction. I’ve been reading it since I was very young, and have read a wide range of its authors and subgenres. So what better place to express those opnions than a blog that all the world can see. (This goes hand in hand with my vanity, which is profound. I mean, its pretty vain to think anyone actually cares about your opinion, right?) So hence the blog and the title, Grasping for the Wind keeps me humble every time I see it displayed at the top of every page in this blog.
Reason #2: I got bored.
In my workplace, there can be times of great busyness, and times that are really slow (like the Friday afternoon when I wrote this). There are only so many websites you can visit before you get bored of surfing, so I thought I might contribute to the web instead of being a passive observer. And fantasy fiction is what I like and what I care about, so I began to write book reviews.
Reason #3: Francis Schaeffer made me feel bad.
“Americans don't read enough (that's true) and Americans read too much (that's true too). What I mean is that many don't read enough material to really be informed, and yet they read too much because what they do read they often do not stop to assimilate and think through. They whiz through it and get what I call a first-order experience, a sort of mystical feeling, not a genuine understanding. I urge you, with all my soul, in such a day as ours to really, truly learn to read." ~ Francis Schaeffer
Okay, so if reading means thinking through and assimilating material, then writing a book review, something more than a summary, something that really digs in to the writing would be a good thing, right? Of course, I don’t think Mr. Schaeffer meant fantasy fiction when he wrote those words (I suspect he wanted me to read more classics, actually) but to each his own. This is my world, and I am going to think about it critically.
Reason #4: Free Books
Mercenary as it may seem, I like getting free books from publishers and authors. Without them, many of the books I have recently enjoyed, I never would have read. I’m not a rich man, so free books is a great way to stay up on what is going on in fantasy, and getting introduced to some really great authors.
Reason #5: Because it helps readers.
Criticism, as it was first instituted by Aristotle, was meant as a standard of judging well; the chiefest part of which is to observe those excellencies which delight a reasonable reader. ~ John Dryden
I get a lot of hits everyday from people who land on my book reviews. Most of the time they don’t leave comments, but I know they went away thinking that maybe next time they go to the bookstore, they just might pick up the book they saw here.
Reason #6: Because it helps authors.
Well, I'm not a critic, I'm just a worker. So, I'm always grateful for anything the critics say - good or bad. ~ Mandy Patinkin
Nothing is more apt to deceive us than our own judgment of our work. We derive more benefit from having our faults pointed out by our enemies than from hearing the opinions of friends. ~ Leonardo da Vinci
Reviewing new works, old works out of print, debut authors is a helpful thing to do. Why? Even with the growing popularity of fantasy fiction, it is still not considered an acceptable genre for writers of any real talent. Yet there are so many great authors being discovered everyday. This genre spawns so many innovators and creative minds in it that to dismiss fantasy as “escapism” or simply “trash” shows the small minds of many critics. So my reviews, interviews, etc., if they can help showcase these talents and their hard work, make the effort worthwhile.
Reason #7: It’s just plain fun.
Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can. Of course, I could be wrong. ~ Terry Pratchett
That seems self-evident. Reading speculative fiction is something I enjoy. I’m unlikely to stop doing it anytime soon (my hope is that I will be re-reading a favorite on my deathbed), so why not share the fun?
October 16, 2007
In a private discussion with some of my fellow fantasy reviewers, we were talking about how a tastes change over time. For instance, as a young man, I enjoyed Star Wars a great deal. I collected newspaper clippings and announcements, bought the customizable card game, the toys, the novels, the Legos, and the movies in many variations. And yet all that remains to me is the Legos and the movies in one version. Everything else was sold off to other fans. I lost interest as I grew older. My tastes changed, and I found fulfillment in other hobbies and other worlds.
The changing tastes and interests of people was really brought home to me last night. My wife and I went out to dinner for her birthday, and we stopped in at Michael's Hobby Store afterward to let her use her gift card she had received from my parents. There is a Gamestop nearby, so while the wife was spending time shopping at the craft store I thought I would pop in there to see what they had in the way of cheap video games. (I have a gift card with a few bucks from trade-ins I thought I might spend.) I hadn't bought one in at least a year.
I spent an hour in there. Yet I found nothing I wished to purchase. It was strange, because in my young adulthood, when I was playing Nintendo from the first US version on up, and the Playstation, Gameboy, and Sega Genesis; I would have bought any number of games.
Yet not one in the thousands of titles in the store was of interest to me. I only own a Playstation 2 and computer for playing video games anymore. But only one title looked even remotely interesting to me, and that was Neverwinter Nights 2, only because I don't own it yet and love Forgotten Realms. But it was too expensive for me at the moment. And it wasn't cause the games weren't good either. The looked awesome actually, I just kept thinking about the hours I would spend playing it. I thought about how my wife feels neglected when I spend too much time playing video games (this has happened once before, when Neverwinter Nights was selling downloadable expansions about a year ago), and I just couldn't generate enough interest in sacrificing her happiness for my own, no matter how fun the games looked.
I chose not to buy any games because my gift card only had a couple of bucks and most of the titles cost $10 and up, I saw nothing that interested me, and I thought about the fact that I never play video games anymore. Once, I would have spent 100 hours playing Final Fantasy, but now I think that time could be spent in other ways. Not necessarily more productive, but more fulfilling at least. These three factors combined caused me to leave the store empty-handed, something I never would have done in my teen years, even in my early twenties.
I remarked to my wife later, "Does this mean that I am no longer a man-child? Have I become a man?" Since in my society, video games are generally a young man's pursuit.
My tastes had changed, and those tastes and personal likes had moved due to responsibility, lack of time, and the finding of more fulfilling pursuits. I used to try and keep up with the Joneses in the video game world. Now I find the pursuit of reading a more fulfilling and profitable enterprise. Its strange how th change came so subtly, I didn't really even notice it.
Tastes change, personal likes and dislikes grow and develop. What we enjoy doing twenty years from now may be vastly different from what we enjoy now. Yet that does not mean that what we enjoy now is wasted. It is a step in the growth of me, of who I am as a person.
Last night's event left me feeling I have truly left boyhood and adolescence behind me. I was always a sober child, but now I look forward to the great adventure that is manhood. (Even if it took 27 years to get there. :-)
October 15, 2007
Darra says "Woof". (She is a dog, after all. What did you expect her to say?)
But I say, "Happy 31st birthday!, I love you, and I hope you have a special day!"
September 24, 2007
I went to a sermon delivered by Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor seeking the Republication nomination for U.S. President in 2008. He was pleasant, a good speaker, and had some excellent points. My posting of these notes in no way means that I support Huckabee. I still need to think on it. I just thought others might find this useful. Phrases in quotes are direct or as close as I could hear.
A Sermon by Honorable Governor Mike Huckabee
September 22, 2007
First Redeemer Church, Cumming, GA
View the webcast or purchase a video/CD at http://www.thereshope.org/
- Huckabee received four standing ovations at the National Education Association
- Born and raised in Hope, Arkansas
- Was a pastor for twelve years
- Was once asked if he was one of those “narrow minded Baptists” who only believed Baptists were going to heaven. He replied, no ma’am I’m even more narrow minded than that, I don’t even think all the Baptists are going to heaven!”
- Went to Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas
- Is an ordained Southern Baptist Convention minister
Theme Verse: Proverbs 22:28 - “Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set.”
- Why? Because when we move it we get lost.
- America is lost and dislocated because “We have moved the landmarks of our liberty”.
- Quote from Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Sound familiar?
1. The rapid increase of divorce; the undermining of dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society.
2. Higher and higher taxes and the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace.
3. The mad craze for pleasure; sports becoming every year more exciting and more brutal.
4. The building of gigantic armaments when the real enemy was within: the decadence of the people.
5. The decay of religion—faith fading into mere form—losing touch with life and becoming impotent to guide the people.
The Basic Nature of Man
- we are all sinners
- for secularists, the definition of sin is self-centeredness
- “we are a nation filled with sin”
- Huckabee’s father was a patriot, “he laid on the stripes and I saw stars.”
- Our society was better off when we respected authority and didn’t act like victims
- Story of his son’s attempt to bake a cake but didn’t understand the meaning of dash so the son put in a cup of salt instead of the dash, creating an awful tasting cake.
- It was the lack of knowing the definition of dash that led to the problem. We must be sure and call a thing a thing.
- Some people say that if we are sincere God will honor it, no matter what it is we do.
- “Being sincere is a good thing, but being right is even better.”
- If people make up their own definitions of right and wrong we will not get a kumbaya campfire, but something else.
- “When people redefine right and wrong to match their behavior, rather than match their behavior to right and wrong”, there will be more sin in culture, not less.
- “A political party is nothing more than a vehicle, it is not a destination.”
Huckabee got into politics because he is pro-life.
- All people have individual value.
- “The real discussion is not values, it is the value of a person.” Which is why he can’t compromise on being pro-life.
- Parents are sacrificing their own children for their comfort, rather than, as in the past, sacrificing their own comfort for their child.
- Carl Zimmerman book (?not sure spelling or title)
Christians in Politics
- Some Christians say they don’t want to be involved.
- Not being involved is like owning a bass fishing boat that is perfect but that never gets put in the water. (The sermon is worth watching just for the build-up as he tells this allegory.)
- “I’m not to be of the world, but I am to be in the world.”
- “Have you moved the landmarks?” “ Are you in the water” – making waves
September 20, 2007
This is part of the reason why I write book reviews (other than that it is fun of course). While I can't provide a reading course, I can provide solid thinking about reading from my own perspective.
"Perhaps if people today were to take good reading course, they would be better off. Americans don't read enough (that's true) and Americans read too much (that's true too). What I mean is that many don't read enough material to really be informed, and yet they read too much because what they do read they often do not stop to assimilate and think through. They whiz through it and get what I call a first-order experience, a sort of mystical feeling, not a genuine understanding. I urge you, with all my soul, in such a day as ours to really, truly learn to read"
Francis Schaeffer Back to Freedom and Dignity ( InterVarsity Press, 1972), p. 18.
September 14, 2007
September 07, 2007
"Monks and Mystics is an excellent text to use as a basis for an upper elementary or middle school Sunday school class on church history. It would also be useful in Christian schools. As a supplemental text it is perfect. Although an adult, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. So much so, that I ordered the first book the next day and plan to order any successive books as they become available. The stories were interesting and well-written…the Withrows do not shy away from using technical terms. Often the characters explain the terms in words that could be understood by a 9 year old in their speech to each other. (In truth I understood some of the terms better than I ever have before!)”
You can read my full review of Monks and Mystics here. Turns out, the newest volume Hearts and Hands: Chronicles of the Awakening Church is scheduled to release January 1 in the U.S and November 1 in the U.K. I have the first three, have enjoyed them all, and highly recommend them to all teachers and parents.
September 04, 2007
The following is my notes from a lecture given by Terry Brooks on September 1, 2007 at the Decatur Book Festival. He was hilarious, and a very friendly guy. He was kind and patient with everyone, and offered to stay as long as needed to sign books. I thought that was very gracious. Words or Phrases in quotation marks in these notes are direct quotes taken word for word from the lecture. The lecture itself was divided into four sections with a follow-up question and answer session.
Terry Brooks: A Retrospective Lecture
Decatur Book Festival 2007
- all writers talk about themselves
- 30 years in publishing, 27 books
- 1st book published in 1977
- A writer changes dramatically from decade to decade
How has Terry Brooks changed as a writer? In 4 ways:
1. How has Terry Brooks' work habits changed?
- in his early career, he had another job but he tried to write everyday (usually at night), now he more often works mornings, since his body wakes him up early and by 3PM he can’t think straight.
- He used to be very focused on outlining and then sticking to the outline, in the last five years this has changed into changing outlining but taking the outline apart midway through writing the book, and then re-outlining. This is because he is comfortable with the outlining process and so can monkey with it more.
- He finds it fun to write himself into a corner and try to get out of it.
- He is no longer dogmatic about writing, because he has less need to write for money, now only needs to write for pleasure and joy
2. What is Terry Brooks interested in writing about now?
- Learned from Lester Del Rey that his obligation is to tell a good story
- All of the important fantasy that has been written has an undertone of looking at the human condition. (i.e. Shea Ohmsford doing something he didn’t want to do; Will explores coming of age; Genesis of Shannara deals with family issues, the environment, and the collapse of civilization.)
- Terry Brooks has moved outward from personal issues in the initial novels to global issues in the later novels.
3. Where does Terry Brooks get the Inspiration for his stories?
- reading other people’s books (particularly non-fiction and non-genre books, though not often general fiction)
- current events
o Voyage of the Jerle Shannara – explores issues of redemption and transgression - triggered by a person in the news who found religion immediately after getting caught committing a crime or immorality but who had no time between getting caught and finding religion for true introspection.
o Magic Kingdom for Sale: Sold! Series – explores the idea that the grass is greener on the other side – written when deciding whether to give up legal career and pursue full-time writing.
o Armageddon’s Children – explores idea of civilization in decline, what will the street kids take with them and how will they rebuild after the collapse? – triggered by one too many people cutting him off in traffic – the idea that the loss of manners is the beginning of the collapse of civilization.
4. Why is Terry Brooks still writing?
- He doesn’t have to.
- New authors start out trying to write and get published, old authors should have no reason to write?
- Brooks can’t quit, because then what would he do?
- “Writing is an addiction you are born with.”
- “If I’m not writing, I’m not a complete person.”
- Even if Brooks were forced to quit, he would still write.
- Operates under the theory that “I’ve got one more book, I haven’t written my best book yet.”
- Right now is his best book, but this will change when he finishes this one and goes on to the next.
- “You keep thinking you can find your way to something better.”
- Made joke about devil and God, with meaning that finding a lawyer is difficult, and so is finding that perfect book.
- Does Brooks have a passion for mentoring young writers?
o Not doing much anymore due to lack of energy (is in his 70’s)
o Sees a focus on family and writing as his first obligation, but does participate in some formal mentoring.
- Why choose to write fantasy, and what would Terry Brooks say to critics of fantasy?
o “What you write chooses you.”
o Everything he wants to write lends itself to the fantasy genre.
o Critics just don’t get it, many critics haven’t read it, and those that have read one book and then write it off entirely.
o Critics need to read authors in the field, beyond those who are dead.
- Which current writers do you read?
o Most important in fantasy genre is Philip Pullman.
o Brooks tends to read in other fields, nonfiction, ancient civilizations, adventure, some contemporary fiction on the recommendation of Mrs. Brooks (who was in attendance).
- What is the process for getting Terry Brooks’ books into audio? (i.e. why are series incomplete and haphazardly made?)
o Audio is fairly new technology in the market, and of course the last area reached is fantasy, as a result publications are very hit or miss.
o Slow process
- What is happening with the movie adaptations?
o Magic Kingdom was optioned two years ago, but little has been done with it.
o Shannara was optioned by Warner Brothers, they are working on getting a certain director to sign on, if they do it will be fast tracked for production.
- Why does Terry Brooks have to go out on the road?
o Joke – “Basically, because my family sends me away.”
o “I do it because I like it.”
o It is energizing to have people tell you they liked your book.
- Is Genesis of Shannara going to have more books?
o Yes, Brooks needs to cover the space between the 80 years of the Word and Void books and the 1000 years in the future of the Shannara books.
o It will come in a series of ones and two’s maybe a set of three.
o The spotlight will be on important periods of time, not the full time between Word and Void and Shannara.
o Next book will be a Magic Kingdom book.
- Thoughts on Character Development?
o If he can’t relate to a character, it’s time to let go.
o Characters he connects with the most are those with personal issues.
- Who are Terry Brooks top picks in fantasy publishing?
o Del Rey
o Some of the new little imprints
o “The number one skill in publishing is luck.”
o There are many opportunities to break in, not just one.
At the book signing, when my turn came, he shook my hand (something no other author I've met has done) and signed my 6 books. We discussed the new graphic novel Dark Wraith of Shannara. He told me that the art would be black and white (except for the cover) which he thought he wouldn’t like, but he found that it actually enhanced the dark feel of the story he had written for it. Dark Wraith is set to be released in January of 2008. See a piece concept art below.
August 22, 2007
Every year, I travel with Masterworks Tours as a host. In 2008, the wife and I will be heading to Germany, to visit the Rhine Valley, Frankfurt, and Munich. This will be our first time in Germany, and I'm really looking forward to it! You can see a our itinerary, and little of the history of the region in the Jauntlet below.
By the way, I highly recommend Jauntlet as a great way to tell people about trips you are taking and posting them on your blog. It is easy, takes very little time, and is free.
Excerpted from byFaith's periodic email newsletter.
"U.S.News & World Report, in its 2008 edition of America’s Best Colleges, ranks Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, #7 among baccalaureate colleges in the South. This ranking is up from Covenant’s #9 rank in 2007, and represents Covenant’s fifth consecutive year with a position in the top 10 colleges in its field. Covenant College continues to have the 4th highest graduation rate among baccalaureate colleges in the South.
Also, Covenant College’s setting atop Lookout Mountain has earned it a spot on MSNBC’s “Pretty College Campuses.” The winners are pictured here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20200955/nPage/1. Local resident Matt McLelland of Warren-McLelland Aerial Photography shot and submitted the winning photograph."
You have to go to the site to view the picture, as it uses flash and is not copyable.
August 15, 2007
Last night, I had my first lesson in the Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do. The School is just around the corner from my house, and has very few adult students, making individualized instruction commonplace. But before I relate my experience, here is a little background on Tae Kwon Do from Wikipedia:
In Korean, derived from hanja, tae means to destroy with the feet; kwon means to strike or smash with the hand; and do means "path" or "way". Hence, taekwondo is loosely translated as "the way of the feet and fist". Taekwondo's popularity has resulted in the divergent evolution of the martial art. As with many other martial arts, taekwondo is a combination of combat technique, self-defense, sport, exercise, entertainment, and philosophy.
I chose this particular school because as I was driving by, I noticed something interesting. An ichthus was prominently displayed in the windows of the school. For those who don't know the ichthus is an old symbol for Christianity, taken and Christianized from pagan sources. At any rate, being a Christian, I always enjoy supporting Christian businesses with my business (not that I limit myself to them alone). In this way I support the Kingdom and its workers. Mr. Yi, the head instructor at the school goes to a Korean church in the area that is affiliated with the same denomination as my own. So that was one good reason.
I also knew that I needed to exercise more regularly, but I hate using the gym. Tae Kwon Do seemed a good way to learn a skill at the same time as getting fit. the academy requires attendance twice a week, which is the recommended aerobic component of exercise, and Mr. Yi's prices were reasonable and included a two week "try us out" course for $50 that included a uniform.
So I went last night for my first personal class. Mr. Yi requires this, most likely to take my measure and teach me some of the basics so I don't feel wholly out of place in class. I learned two kicks, two blocks, two stances, how and when to bow, how to focus my attacks and blocks with a yell, and how to say thank you in Korean (kamsa hamnida; pronunced - kahm-sah=ham-nee-da).
It was fun, and I have my first official class tomorrow. I'm still debating if I should stick with it, but he does offer plenty of times to come, if you can't make others for some reason and he is a kind teacher, if demanding.
I like that, since I will be called to excel and not allowed to slack my way through it. So I will hopefully get fit. Progressing through the ranks is not very important to me, although I know it will happen, but that should take years. I'm in no hurry and I want to get good and earn the right to progress in rank.
I'm sore in the muscles, but I'm thinking, this ought to be a fun year.
August 13, 2007
Bekah at Having Said That... pointed me to this test. I used to be all ESTJ, but I've become more reclusive in my old age (27).
Actualized type: ISTJ
(who you are)
ISTJ - "Trustee". Decisiveness in practical affairs. Guardian of time- honored institutions. Dependable. 11.6% of total population.
(who you prefer to be)
ESTJ - "Administrator". Much in touch with the external environment. Very responsible. Pillar of strength. 8.7% of total population.
August 06, 2007
Pictures from our get together of the past weekend.
August 02, 2007
For those of you who don't know, one of the things I do for a hobby (along with my father) is take home schoolers on trips to Europe every year to experience the culture and history.
We are currently accepting applicants to the trips for 2008. Next year we are planning on heading to Rome, Italy; Paris, France; and the Rhine Valley, Germany (including Munich).
Any home schoolers fifteen years old or older are more than welcome. Our prices include airfare from Atlanta but if you are coming from somewhere else, you will have to find your own transportation to Atlanta. However, if others are coming from your area, we would be happy to assist you connecting with them.
All that to say there are currently, 16 spaces for Paris, 15 spaces for Germany, and 15 spaces for Rome. Check out the website for more information, including a brochure with more detail and prices. Spaces fill up fast, so if you are interested, let us know.
You can contact me through the email me button above or by clicking email me on my blogger profile page.
July 30, 2007
...I will expound on the virtues of my lovely wife.
Thirty years young, her tightly curled hair is delicate as lace, and softer than eiderdown. Her sky blue eyes lift me into space, the black flecks like swirling black holes from which I can never return. Nor would wish to. Her expressive face ne'er stops moving and always do I know how she feels.
Her mind is sharp, un-dampened by age or care and perfectly designed to organize and codify all that she sees. But lest you think that she is all work and no creativity, her designs for scrapbook pages, yearbooks, and our home will show the lie. She is honest and true, gentle but forthright. She is ambitious, ambitious to improve herself as a wife, a Christian, and as a friend. There is little selfish in her actions, always her thought is of others.
She clings to me with all her might, and yet I will ne'er understand why.
No other could be as she is, nor could any other be a better wife.
July 26, 2007
Thanks to everybody for the well-wishing about my surgery yesterday. Everything seem to have gone well. I ended up having two different procedures done, due to an abnormally shaped left eye. My right eye was done in the new school LASIK, which has a faster healing time (I can already see clearly out of it) and is easier to maintain. My malformed left eye was done in the old school PRK which has a three to four day healing time and has more swing in its vision ability. So at the moment I can see fine out of my right eye and my left is one big blur. Fortunately, there is no pain in either, and my eye drops and medications work wonders.
The procedure itself only took a minute or two for each eye. There was no pain, although a laser in your eye does make a funny smell. The doctor was professional and courteous, although I did feel that I was being run through a mill. After all, these guys make more money the more procedures they do in a day, and who can blame them when they only charge 3g's for two eyes?
So all is well, now I just want my left eye to clear up so I can see better.
July 25, 2007
Since my vision will be cloudy for the next few days, and since I am somewhere between 30 and fifty comments away from 500 (a number that would be fun to reach), let's play a little game.
In the comments section of this post, list all the books that you are currently reading. Put all your books into one comment, but feel free to comment as much as you like after that, especially talking about what others have read. (but don't be silly, this means you Bill :-)
I'll announce here who is comment number 500, and highlight your blog with a post on my blog singing your praises (if you have one).
Beyond that, I would just like to know what people who read this blog are reading both for pleasure and for work.
1. Real Estate Investment Trusts by Su Han Chan
2. Explorer's House: National Geographic and the World it Made by Robert M. Poole
3. The Howling Delve by Jaleigh Johnson
4. The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka
5. On Being Presbyterian by Sean Michael Lucas
6. The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner
Let's see if you can top that!
I hope when my sight returns I'll be able to see some really interesting reading going on!
I'm going in for LASIK this afternoon at 1:50PM. LASIK is that procedure that is supposed to return poor vision to 20/20. It's an elective surgery and a scary one. I mean, what if I lose sight in one or both eyes? Of course, all the research see it as a pretty safe procedure, with almost no side effects. I sure hope not.
Nonetheless, it will be great to be able to see without contacts or glasses, something I haven't been able to do since the summer of third grade.
If I don't post in the next few days, its cause I'm healing and don't want to strain my eyes looking at a computer screen anymore than I have to. Of course, I'll still be reading!
July 23, 2007
We have returned! Here are some the pictures from our great vacation! Thanks Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop. Thanks also to Vox Vendsel for letting us visit and meet cute little Philo.
We are back! we had a great vacation, very relaxing, with a lot of books bought and read (not necessarily in that order), much salt water taffy eaten, and a whole lot of walking going on. You'll see a couple of book reviews in the next couple of days (oh, look, there is one down below, weird? :-), along with some pictures, which I will probably post after I get home from work today (unless I mow the lawn instead).
Looking forward to the surgery on Wednesday with trepidation and thinly veiled excitement. Being able to see without correction will be so very nice.
July 11, 2007
The wife and I are headed to Philadelphia, city of brotherly-love, to visit my grandparents and extended family on the paternal side of the family. Some of these people the wife has only met at our wedding 2 1/2 years ago. So it will be something of a culture shock for her.
At any rate, we hope to get together with Vox Vendsel (who have a new site by the way) and do a few touristy things downtown and in Westchester, where my grandparents live. I especially want to make it to Baldwin's Book Barn shopping in which is one of my fondest memories from childhood.
Anyway, all that to say that I may not be posting much next week, as my grandparents have a slow connection at their house (at least, I think so) but I hope to come back with some great pictures.
Alson, since I am going in for LASIK surgery the Wednesday after we get back, but before we head to St. Louis, as selfish as it sounds I would like to ask for prayer that the surgery goes well. My vision is already bad, but if something were to go wrong and I were to lose my sight, as big a reader as I am, I don't know what I would do.
That is part of the reason for undergoing this (minor?!?) surgery. I have a limited time frame in which I can do it before my vision gets too bad to be corrected, so I have to do this at 27 years of age. But if all goes well, I will have perfect or more than perfect vision, and not have to wear glasses for the next twenty years or so, and then only reading glasses.
Anyway, if you don't see much from me in the next few weeks, I'm not dead.
I promise to post here how my surgery went, as soon as I can see well enough to type. Which, amazingly, should be the day after the surgery. Isn't general revelation grand?
July 05, 2007
Apparently, July is a month that countries, from the smallest islands to some major world players, like to celebrate the fact that they are a nation. The following is a list of the ones I found, there might even be others. If you know of any, don't hesitate to add to the list.
Bahamas - 10th
Belarus - 3rd
Belgium - 21st
Burundi - 1st
Canada - 1st
Cape Verde - 5th
Colombia - 20th
Comoros - 6th
Egypt - 23rd
France - 14th (Bastille Day)
Kiribati - 12th
Liberia - 26th
Malawi - 6th
Maldives - 26th
Mongolia - 11th
Montenegro - 13th
Morocco - 30th
Nepal - 7th
Palau - 9th
Peru - 28th
Rwanda - 1st
Sao Tome and Principe - 12th
Solomon Islands - 7th
Somalia - 1st (although this isn't technically a country at the moment)
United States - July 4
Vanuatu - 30th
Venezuela - 5th
June 28, 2007
Spiritual Formation in the Life of C.S. Lewis
A Breakout Seminar at Perimeter Church June 8-9, 2007
Presentation given by Dr. Lyle Dorsett former head of Wade Center at Wheaton College
See Part 1 of these Notes.
III. Elements of Spiritual Formation (Part 2)
A. The Church
1. “The NT knows nothing of individual Christianity”
2. Salvation is the hallway, pick a room to worship in and fellowship
3. Lewis was shaped by choice of Anglicanism
4. Anglican traditions of Lewis’ time and his opinion
a. Evangelical (Reformed)
- high view of Scripture
- lacked high view of Sacraments
- Lewis’ choice
- high view of Sacraments
- no belief in Transubstantiation
c. Broad Church (i.e. liberal)
- low view of Scripture
5. a proud person cannot do Kingdom work
6. Became Anglo-Catholic because he wanted communion once a week, minimum.
7. 7 years after CSL’s conversion, he felt nudged in prayer to have a mentor
8. Believed one should worship with those different from you
9. felt grace was in communion (John 6)
B. A Spiritual Director – Father Walter Adams (b. 1869 – d. 1952) Anglican Priest
1. CSL chose humble, unknown man
2. CSL felt need for a confessor – James 5
- went because he was held accountable
3. On Sister Penelope’s recommendation and through her prayers in 1940 found Adams
4. Adams was 70 years old when CSL came to him, Lewis met him once a week
5. highly influential on Lewis, can’t understand Lewis without this knowledge
6. Lewis came to love:
a. The Book of Common Prayer (1662 edition) (Enlightenment = chronological snobbery)
b. Anglican Service Order – Reading of Scripture, Sermon, Communion (high point of service), Hymns
c. Confession, Accountability, Fellowship, Service
7. “Care for the soul and Holy Spirit will take care of the rest” – Fr. Walter Adams
8. Lewis didn’t like hymns
9. Lewis’ service was writing
10. Luke 11 – great prayer chapter
- If you don’t fill the soul with the Holy Spirit then the bad will come back with more ferocity.
11. Adams told Lewis he needed Prayer, Scripture and Communion since that is where grace is
12. Adams was a member of the Society of St. John the Evangelist
- Lewis said to “get Holy Communion as often as you can get it”
- Communion is like “an arm from a hidden country reaching out and touching you.” – CSL
- Root of idea is Luke 24 (first communion?)
- Psalm 34:8
- for the first five years CSL said he felt nothing when taking Communion, but felt that the obedience helped him grow and become spiritually strong
14. Adams wrote two pamphlets
15. Lewis chooses him because he knew Jesus personally
16. Mentor of Adams was Robert Benson – founder of Anglican male order
- not only talk about cross but about resurrection (Benson concept)
- the real you must talk to the real God (Benson concept)
- both concepts come out in Lewis writing
17. Lewis faults:
- bitterness toward people
C. Other Mentors and Influential Friends
1. Evelyn Underhill – founder of modern retreat movement
- Service = Adoration + Awe + Service as a progression
2. little impact on him spiritually from the Inklings, they only helped to sharpen his thinking
3. 3 people of profound impact
- Father Adams (Anglican Priest)
- Sister Penelope (Anglican Nun)
- Helen Joy Davidman (Jewish convert, eventual wife)
4. Tolkien was instrumental in conversion but not growth afterward
- “midwife in Lewis spiritual birth, but he was not very good at post-natal care.” – Dorsett
a. George MacDonald – “baptized my imagination” CSL - Phantastes
- “I don’t think I’ve ever written a book that didn’t have something of George Macdonald” - see collection of MacDonald Lewis edited
- Learned concept of joy
- learned characterization
- learned what a father is
b. Charles Williams – Dorsett calls him “bad news”
- professional influence on Lewis
- spiritual influence on Lewis
- Williams sought mental/spiritual affairs with women
- women loved him, he elicited it, and they remained proud of it (Dorsett tells of interview with couple who knew him, woman still loved him after several decades, husband wanted to hurt him)
- Williams wined and dined women while his wife was away
- Lewis fell for his magnetic personality
- Williams got people dependent on himself rather than God
IV. C.S. Lewis as Spiritual Guide
1. increase his role after Father Adams death
2. effective lecturer, but not good one on one
3. spiritual mentor via mail
- most spiritual council in letters to women
- no men due to their lack of humility?
- handwritten letters
- some to children with illustrations
- Topics included: Becoming a Christian; How to Use Money; Bible Interpretation/Doctrine; Overcoming Lust; Getting focus on Jesus
4. Thoughts (General)
- You need to get your focus on Jesus Christ, become dependent on him
- Practice the Spiritual Disciplines
- Get Holy Communion
5. Would counsel people directly – bluntly but reasoned throughout
6. Teaching on pride and humility – sins are manifestations of pride – me and what I want are important, more than Jesus = pride
1. had brother who was psychiatrist named Howard (died athiest)
2. mother was cultural Jew, father was atheist
3. encouraged to think critically by father
4. highly gifted photographic memory, analytical and critical mind
5. read 10-15 books a week
6. first publication in 1938 “Letters to a Comrade”
7. “Anya” – book about cleric and “Smoke on the Mountain” – Jewsish Christian interpretation of ten commandments
8. converted in 1946 after abandoned by first husband
9. fed Lewis’ idea of Christ’s presence especially during communion
1. Lewis often called an evangelical saint, what does Dorsett feel are some of his flaws?
a. his dim view of hymns
b. believed in Purgatory
– saw P as place to wash up before seeing God, not a place of punishment
c. Latter Narnia Chronicles
- sincere person who didn’t believe in Christ could be saved, although Narnia is not allegory as CSL says, so it is not a one to one correlation
2. John 13-16 is essential to understanding his theology
3. How do I read Lewis?
a. things worth doing require effort
b. Read “The Essential C.S. Lewis” by Dorsett
4. The Socratic Club? (Lewis was faculty advisor)
a. Stella Adwinkle asked Lewis about changing worship service to attract unbelievers, he said bad idea because service is for believers
b. The Club would debate and have best minds vs. best minds on two sides of issue
c. Lewis tried to change His culture, not culture in general
5. Lewis and the Theatre
a. not playgoer
b. undeveloped area of knowledge for him
c. probably would be upset with movie Shadowlands
- treatment of Joy Davidman, although Debra Winger did best she could with what she had
- Christ not lifted up enough
- Anthony Hopkins played him poorly
d. Would have hated Narnia movies, didn’t like hype
6. Till We have Faces
- letter to Clyde Kilby explains its purpose
- see PBS series Lewis vs. Freud
7. Aloof from people but understands them well
- listened to Holy Spirit
- listened to people, Inklings, and fiction
On Monday, we caught up with some friends from college who were in town, and another set who live in the same metropolitan area as us. It's always great to spend time with folks like that. I always end up coming away from get-togethers like these feeling more relaxed and fulfilled. Since the wife and I have had difficulty making any friends since moving to ATL, such times of rest and relaxation are few and far between. conversation ranged from the recent birth of another couple's new baby, to Neil Gaiman's book American Gods, to the Apple iPhone.
During this time, we sate at the the kitchen table and played a board game I had never heard of called Carcassone. Based on the medieval walled city of the same name, gameplay is:
The game board is a medieval landscape built by the players as the game progresses. The game starts with a single terrain tile face up and 71 others shuffled face down for the players to draw from. On each turn a player draws a new terrain tile and places it adjacent to tiles that are already face up. The new tile must be placed in a way that extends features on the tiles it abuts: roads must connect to roads, fields to fields, and city walls to city walls.
After placing the new tile, the placing player may opt to station a follower piece on that tile. The follower can only be placed on the just-placed tile, and must be placed in a specific feature. A follower claims ownership of one terrain feature—road, field, city, or cloister—and may not be placed on a feature already claimed by another player's follower. However, it is possible for terrain features to become shared after the further placement of tiles. For example, two field tiles which each have a follower can become connected into a single field by another terrain tile.
The game ends when the last tile has been placed. At that time all features (including fields) score points for the players with the most followers in them. The player with the most points wins the game.
It sounds like it would be complicated like Axis and Allies or Settlers of Catan. And while it is comparable to Settlers, one friend put it best when they said this was a game you could play "without having to think to hard" and just enjoy the company around you. It's true. If you don't care too much about winning, and counting your points, you can just relax and have fun. Even then, it's not real difficult to follow the scoring system in the first few expansions so you can actually be competitive. The elements of chance in drawing tiles and placing meeples also makes the winner uncertain until the very end.
So we had a great time together. I miss friendship in close proximity, and the ability to get together for a friendly board game.
June 27, 2007
Spiritual Formation in the Life of C.S. Lewis
A Breakout Seminar at Perimeter Church June 8-9, 2007
Presentation given by Dr. Lyle Dorsett former head of Wade Center at Wheaton College
See Part 2 here.
“I’m tall, fat, rather bald, red-faced, double chinned, black haired, have a deep voice, and wear glasses for reading.” –C.S. Lewis to a fifth grader
- Do not read the bio of Lewis by A.N. Wilson
A. Life and Legacy of C.S Lewis: a Perspective from Nearly Half a Century
- Discipline was needed to become a theologian, apologist
- Lewis wrote in 7 genres
B. Keys to Lewis’ Extraordinary Effectiveness
1. The Author’s Background
- Used his gifts, but also disciplined them
- “nothing I wrote that isn’t essentially evangelistic” – CSL
- Mother died when he was 10 and became agnostic as result
2. The Sacred Anointing
- John 17:3
- He wrote as part of an intimate walk with Christ
3. A Purposive Life
- after conversion (see quote)
“After conversion, C.S. Lewis embarked on an extraordinarily purposeful life. He became as Dorothy L. Sayers phrased it ‘God’s terrier’ – a man with a missionary zeal.” – Lyle Dorsett Seeking the Secret Place
II. Elements of Spiritual Formation (Part 1)
A. The School of Prayer
“What is more natural, and easier, if you believe in God, than to address Him?”
- Mother’s parting gift was a Bible on her deathbed
- Lewis and Warner prayed, yet she died, even after being told that prayer would heal her.
- 2 models of prayer from Scripture as Lewis saw it.
1. pray with faith and there is nothing you can’t do (name it and claim it)
2. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
- The School of Prayer – a continuing to learn to pray, never too busy, a daily routine
a. daily quiet time (Clifford Boris – his driver – story)
b. Dean’s Prayers at Oxford – corporate prayer
c. Intercessory Prayer – i.e. go through the Epistles and read Paul’s prayers
- worldwide prayer for self and others – Sheldon Vanauken
- always answered letters because he believed he was told to by God during such prayer time
- also believed He was told not to stockpile money, so he set up Agape Fund to give it
d. Healing Prayer
- Father Bide, the healer who became ordained through Agape Fund healed Joy Davidman through prayer – personal physician told said it wasn’t normal remission – Bide said “I pray and sometimes Jesus Christ heals them.”
- Advanced People in the School of Prayer are obedient in prayer
e. Praise Prayer –considered most beautiful part of prayer – joy and privilege of praise – not thanks, just praise.
- Primary text of Lewis for this as the Psalms
- How did Lewis get committed to prayer?
1. Jesus example
2. The Church and Father Adams
3. discipled by Father Adams
- How did Lewis reconcile the name it and claim it with God’s will?
1. tell God waht you want but still ask that His will be done
2. In some cases God tells some special folks to go heal people
- Prepared vs. Extemporaneous Prayer?
1. Lewis did extemporaneous prayer but preferred prepared
2. Liked Church services because you could trust the theology and not have to double check on the person who is praying and his theology
3. Psalms are prepared prayers
4. Lewis paced across the floor while reading the Psalter all the way through every month
1. knew doctrine but didn’t always feel it in his heart
2. Michael Christenson, “C.S. Lewis: On Scripture”
3. Lewis had a High view of Scripture
a. Lewis followed John Wesley’s quadrilateral
b. Trouble with liberals due to high view (whereas they have low view)
c. Trouble with fundamentalism becasue he saw some of the Scriptures as story instead of History (i.e. Noah, Jonah, Creation)
“More of a wave than a letter” – Letter’s to an American Lady
4. Didn’t see Jesus praise riches anywhere in NT
5. Jesus says “Seek the Secret Place” Lewis said this meant to obey Jesus not question. (a good exercise says Dorsett, is to go through the Gospels and write down every command of Jesus.)
6. CSL “Scripture is the litmus test of all other divine guidance.”
7. CSL could read and write Greek but knew no Hebrew
9. He asked questions of Scripture. He “hammered it out” – Dorsett
10. Read through the Bible frequently, memorized it. Used the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer
11. F.B. Meyer “For Every man and woman that is truly born again, the Spirit is present in you, the spirit is prominent in some, but alas in only a few is He preeeminent.”
12. Lewis was Purposeful, Disciplined, and Humbly Prayed and Read Scriptures.
June 19, 2007
Well, the wife and I are back from General Assembly in Memphis,TN. Both of us were working booths, me for my company, her for byFaith magazine. Although sitting in a booth from 8AM till 12PM with only a two-hour worship break can be boring, it was worth it to get to meet all the great people and hear all the great preaching. Dominic Aquila, R.C. Sproul, and Bryan Chapell were the preachers each night. They were all excellent. I did not get to enjoy Dr. Chapell as I was taking down the booth, but I understand it was quite good. Additionally, the GA decided to accept the report of the committee on Federal Vision, although at times the debate got a little heated, especially after a postponement and relook at the decision was proposed. R.C. Sproul supposedly got a little frustrated which, with an easy registration, you can view at the website. All in all, it was a good week.
A lot of great vendors were there with clever or intriguing gifts. Our company usually offers luggage tags and candy, but people who have been to GA before know that the real draw is books. I probably walked away with about 10 free books from various places, bought another 20 at the bookstore or on our way home at the unclaimed baggage center in Scottsboro, AL, and got any number of pamphlets with public domain speeches and devotions from C.H. Spurgeon or Paul Kooistra. The most clever gimmick was the Stress-Free Church stress ball from Guideone (see picture). It's hilarious, and I now have it sitting on my desk for when those churches I work with get especially frustrating.
The wife and I stayed an extra day and went to Graceland and Sun Studios. The Sun Studios tour, although it only consisted of two rooms, was by far funnier and more enjoyable than the Graceland tour. Graceland was not as gaudy as I thought, and it was worth paying an extra five bucks to get into the car museum and the Lisa Marie airplane.
June 06, 2007
Of late, I've noticed that a lot of folks tend to point out to me that I don't really know what I'm talking about then I make comments about children. (This is especially true since my church is highly focused on kids, as the the majority of the members have several.) They usually say something like, "Wait till you have kids." in response to my comments.
OK, I don't have kids, but I was trained as a teacher and did teach in the schools for three years. I know a lot about kids in a group, and something of them as individuals. Perhaps I don't know a lot about parenting, but what call do you have to make me feel bad about not having kids? Cause that is what happens when folks point out something like that.
The closest thing I can liken it to is when you were single and people said. "Wait until you are married." The kids statement just makes a person feel like their opinion has no value because of biology. Spirituality isn't governed by the theory of evolution, so why should my opinion about children be governed by a lack of children.
Some of my opinions may be wrong, but do me the courtesy of pointing out why, not pointing to an obvious biological fact and speaking in the ethereal.
You know your kids, your may know more facts about kids, or a little more about their nature, but this does not invalidate my training, or my opinion. At least debate me, even if you disagree. Don't hide behind the statement, "Wait till you have kids."
May 24, 2007
I'm filling a little gray today, so if you'd like to help cheer me up post a comment or word of encouragement. I always feel better when I know people are reading some of this stuff.
May 23, 2007
You see, I've been thinking about how the church does men's ministry, or at least as I've experienced it. For the most part I have been disappointed and lost when attending men's events of any kind.
My reasons are simple.
1. All small talk is about three things: Sports, politics or theology
2. When praying or singing, these strong men get all weepy and emotional. This is more of a comfort level thing with me, but I just don't do that. And I feel out of place because I can't respond as they do.
Let's take the first one. All small talk is about one of two things, sports or theology. Well, this is also kind of a personal problem. I don't really care about sports. I have no idea what being 14 under par means in golf. (Well, that's changed a little recently, but it is still just a vague idea.) I don't care who won the baseball game last night or if LeBron James plans to become a free agent or whatever. (I think that tells you how little I pay attention, I only know the name of James because of the movie Coach Carter, which I watched last night.) I like football but mostly as a Saturday past time, or background noise as I read. I have no idea who plays for what team and don't really care.
Politics I follow because I am a good citizen, but I'm not really interested. I had enough of theology in college, never really felt any call to study it in depth and am truly content to trust the theologians of my denomination to deal with issues that crop up.
This does not mean that I don't want to learn about God. I read my Bible, pray on my own and with my wife, and read theological texts and Christian biographies of interest to me. These are rarely of interest to anyone else and are rarely relevant to the topic on hand, so I have nothing really to say other than unsubstantiated opinion.
On the flip side, I would like to talk to these men about Cormac McCarthy's The Road, or about the recent passing of Lloyd Alexander. Maybe they want to discuss the role of literature for the Christian, or compare with me Tolkien's life to Lewis'.
Really, it all just boils down to the fact that I just cannot connect with these men. Everything about them is so far removed from the person I am, that there is nothing of substance to talk about. We connect only in that we love the Lord and want to learn more, so we attend Bible studies together. But when we part ways or after the lesson is done, we have nothing to talk about.
I usually end up being more comfortable around women, and am more ministered to by them than men. They share interests I have (I'm not ashamed to say it) don't feel the need to be DOING something but can just sit around and talk. They don't want to go outside to toss a Frisbee or football and can just sit contentedly at the table talking. Usually the topic is not of much interest to me either, but at least they connecting in a way I enjoy, versus a way I hate.
The emotional thing I think is self-explanatory. I naturally hide my emotions, and am comfortable being a person who does. (Drives my wife crazy, by the way.) So don't expect me to come to an event and get all weepy and emotional, to feel the high. To me the Love of Jesus is as rational as it is emotional. I feel it and know the Holy Spirit sustains me and that is sufficient to me. I need no other emotion to find happiness in Jesus.
I'll be honest. It really does come down to me. It's not really the men's ministries fault. I am, as a personality, so far out of the box that they really have difficulty appealing to me. And they shouldn't. They need to appeal to the largest group they can and that is what they are doing. It's really me that's the problem, not the ministry. I guess I just fell lonely in the midst of those who should be my friends.
OK, rant and pity party over. I feel better. Sorry if I offended anyone, but maybe someone else out there feels as I do. I'd like to know who you are. Maybe we can help improve existing men's ministries.
PS: Bill, I've not done any men's minsitry with our church, so this opinion in NO Way reflects on it, since I know next to nothing about it. This is relevant ot previous experiences.
May 16, 2007
So I realized I hadn't posted much in the way of personal stuff lately, so here goes.
I'm tired. Bone, dog, tired. I have no energy for some reason. Most of the tasks of value I have undertaken lately have ended in failure or mediocre success and perhaps my body is responding to that. This, of course, has taken its toll on my marriage, and my poor wife thinks I'm neglecting her or am not interested in her anymore.
Somehow, I managed to burn my grass in the yard, and it is now filled with bare patches in the Bermuda. I attempted to alleviate this by planting new seed and covering it with new topsoil, but this has only partially fixed the problem.
I ran my car into a ditch trying to get out of the way of a fire truck coming the opposite direction and got stuck. I then had to rock the car forward and managed to knock loose some of the undercarriage panels that are used to streamline the airflow.
A week later, I was turning into a street with poor visibility, and nearly hit a guy driving a sports car. He screwed up and hit his brakes hard and managed to spin out. I then failed to call the cops, so there is no record. He damaged a rim, and stupidly I took blame and offered to pay for a replacement. He still hasn't called me about the cost of repair and I pray that he is just letting the whole thing go. He was speeding around a corner and nearly broadsided me as I was coming from a T intersection into his road.
I maxed out our credit card, not because I couldn't afford the costs, but because I screwed up the timing on payments.
My computer is failing so I had to buy a new one (something I didn't want to do) and that contributed to the credit card issue. Which is rectified but was not pleasant.
I have to day trip out to Dallas tomorrow, so my day is going to be long (I fly out of ATL at 7:15 AM and return to the airport at 10:00PM with an hour drive to get home) with meetings all day.
The wife and I have not been responsible and have been overspending our budget. I need to return to a more careful budgeting and not give in to every whim of book buying.
I have a goal of writing a novel (that will be published!) before I die, but I don't really work at it, and have not natural gift, so it takes work. Failing to live up to this goal (even of writing a little everyday) is a constant source of a sense of failure.
I also know that I should be focusing on becoming a better businessman, not trying to be a writer or book critic, and yet I don't. This makes me feel like a failure.
So all these things make me feel poorly, like I'm a failure in some way. But writing it down has been therapeutic. I feel a little bit better telling the world how miserable I feel at the moment, and how tired I am. Nice to know that this is now recorded for posterity.
May 03, 2007
Over at mental_floss, Becky says, "Of course, after the real life terror of the horrible VTU shootings, school officials are urging students to put an end to “Assassin” and its target-based derivatives. What do you think? Did you ever participate in any of these live-action campus RPGs and do you think they’re appropriate?"
I wrote in response:
"Actually I and my "team" made it to the top and won. The monetary prize went to a poor friend who needed it, and we all patted ourselves on the back. It was great fun, especially taking out a our various nemesis.
Ultimately, the question you raise is the same old "does pretend violence beget real violence" argument. My short answer is no. Broken people, broken homes, a broken culture begets violence. Lust, greed, power beget violence. Sickness can do so as well.
The urging is a knee-jerk reaction. Its telling us that we cannot control ourselves or be trained to do so and that every person is a VTU killer waiting to go off. I'm not, I suspect you aren't and I don't need parenting now that I've reached my maturity."
I thought this a good thought, so I posted it here. What is your thought. Did you play Assassin at Covenant or elsewhere? Were you any good?
Yesterday, we headed down to the Atlantic Civic Center to see Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition. It was pretty cool (literally, they had a iceberg you could touch to see just how cold the ice was that night, I lasted - not that we were competing, mind you - the shortest amount of time, then Val, my mom, and my teenage younger brother - typical) and reading the stories was really interesting. I've never been a Titanic devotee (I hate the movie) but shipwrecks are fascinating no matter the period. This one was especially cool because it contained many interesting artifacts and stories from the various recovery expeditions that have taken place.
The most interesting thing was how personal they were able to make the stories, in fact, the entire exhibition was centered around the quotes and stories of the passengers, both before and after the disaster. And to make it really personal, it appears that when the exhibition goes to a particular city, it finds out what passengers on the Titanic hailed from that state and relate their stories of death or survival at the very end of the exhibition. Being a proud Georgian by choice (if not by birth) I was proud to read about Archibald Butt and his sacrifices. There were others as well.
Don't go if you are not willing to read a lot. There are not a great many artifacts, but all of them have stories that need to be read about.
I do wonder though how they mange to have several exhibitions going on in several places at once. I assume they must all be different. I mean we had the "Big Piece" at our exhibition, so the one in California certainly cannot have it.
Either way it was a neat experience and I recommend a visit. (However, remember that we got in half price on a homeschooling ticket so I got more bang for less buck.)
April 24, 2007
In this post I discussed the letter I sent to John O'Neill at Black Gate. I also posted it at MetaxuCafe. John found it there and below is his posted response. I thought I would put it here for those who can't find my entry at MetaxuCafe.
No thanks required. Thank you for writing such a great letter. I'll say this for this small controversy - it sure livened up our letters column.
When I started Black Gate, it was easy to say the magazine would be "family friendly." Over the years that's been tougher to accomplish as some great stories with adult content pass my desk. What I didn't mention in the magazine is that it's almost always a compromise with the author... I'll publish the story if she'll tone down this scene, and this one, and maybe this one.
So I don't get the squeaky-clean content I originally wanted, but the author has made compromises too, and I don't want the price for being published in Black Gate to be too high.
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to weigh in. Yours was one of the most eloquent letters we received on the subject.
April 13, 2007
After I wrote this post yesterday, my copy of the latest Black Gate Magazine came in the mail and guess who's letter to the editor was published? That's right, little old me.
In Issue 9, a reader of the magazine (Lawrence Ore), and a Christian, had written to protest some of the more adult material that had begun appearing in the printed stories. He wanted the magazine to be something he could keep on his coffee table and that his kids could read.
For issue 10, I wrote in supporting Ore's request. I noted my own Christian beliefs and I also made note of the fact that there are plenty of mature themed fantasy magazines out there, but very few "family-friendly" ones.
Let me point out here that mature does not mean graphic. One story depicted a rape scene, which prompted Ore's response and I agree that the boundary had been pushed a little far with that one, but that descriptions of sensuousness or loving touches or gazes did not seem gratuitous or offensive in the majority of the stories.
Black Gate is by no means wholly clean, but then I don't expect it to be. In his response to me and others, the Chief Editor, John O'Neill, pointed out his goal for the magazine was for his twelve year old to be able to pick it up and read it without his having to worry about nightmares or needed to have "the talk" at a young age. He said he would continue to print mature (not graphic) material, but would add an advisory stating which ones might be offensive to some readers.
I find this an excellent solution. Black Gate needs to stay on track with its stated goals of bringing back the era of pulp fiction of the '30s and '40s. The stories that were read in that era were read by the same kids who loved the Superman comics. Thus, although Black Gate is not a kid's magazine, some of its material is suitable for pre-teens. Black Gate's efforts will hopefully bring about a new generation of fantasy lovers, and perhaps foster better parent-child relations. After all, if parents and children share a common interest, be it fixing cars, playing baseball, or reading fantasy how can they help but be closer to one another?
What are your thoughts on where a writer should draw the line, especially in fantasy? Do you support Black Gate's decision to allow mature content (again, not graphic content)? Why or why not?
PS: Buy a copy of issue 10 at your local bookstore (I know Barnes and Noble carries it) and read the text of my letter as well as the interesting and thoughtful comments of others. (And the stories too, of course!)
PPS: Thanks, John O'Neill, for putting in my letter.
April 09, 2007
I've told you before about the little dog we were planning on getting. Darra (the small great one in Gaelic) has come home. The wife wrote an excellent post for you to read, so I'll just give a you a little picture to enjoy. We are so excited, if a little bit tired from night-time whining.
April 02, 2007
I promised you, dear reader, that I would show you little slice of the Rome I just visited. Here you go.
PS: Flickr Rocks!
One of the best things about going to Rome is that it boasts so many of the Romantics as having lived or died there. Shelley, Byron, and Keats all lived there during the Grand Tour of Europe. Keats actually died there, and you can visit the very room in which he passed away right next to the Plaza di Spagna (popularly known as the Spanish Steps). The Wife and I went up to check it out.
It is only three small rooms, but the museum (which has been around since the early 1800s) boasts an impressive collection of first editions of Byron, Shelley, Keats and Leigh Hunt. As well as these, it also contains many original letters to or from Keats and his friends, including many items from Joseph Severn, the artist and Keats roommate up until his death of tuberculosis.
Although none of Keats great works were written in Rome (by the time he got there he was too sick to write much) much of what he wrote stems from what he believed Italy and Rome in particular to be. While there, I purchased a copy of Keats and Italy a publication of the museum which does an excellent job of introducing those of us unfamiliar with Keats to his life and why Italy was such an important place for him. A short biography, a couple of his poems, a history of the Keats-Shelley house and reflections on Keats make the book a well-rounded introduction to a man who died so young and tragically.
I read the book on the way home from Rome, and enjoyed its easy prose and illuminating detail on the Romantic poet "whose name was writ on water". You can read his best known work "Ode on a Grecian Urn" after the jump. In it we get the well known phrase that declares, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
My interest in Keats has been peaked, and through him to the Romantics I think. Keats sought beauty in words and the art and myths of the ancients, much as I did when I was a younger man. I feel akin to the man, even though poetry usually stumps me.
Ode on a Grecian Urn
Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearièd,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea-shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of its folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul, to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.
O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'
We are back from Rome. I'll try and post some pics when I get home tonight, but in the meantime, enjoy the wife's rather hilarious post (with pics) and a by the numbers section that nearly had me rolling with laughter!
March 23, 2007
Goodwill is a highly underrated store. The wife and I made a trip there a couple of days ago because we needed to pick up some blankets (for cheap) for the new puppy soon to be entering our home.
I rarely visit Goodwill, because A. the rarely have anything I like and B. the stock is so constantly revolving that I feel to get the best deal I would need to go once a week, and I hate leaving the house unless strictly necessary.
Nonetheless, on this visit I walked away with not one, not two, but three books I've wanted to read but refused to pay full price for. Since these were anywhere form $2.50 to $1 in price (depending on hardback or paperback) I'd say that saving an average of $22.50 on a hardback and $13 on a paperback is quite a steal.
I walked away with:
Teacher Man by Frank McCourt in hardback
Night by Elie Wiesel in paperback (Oprah's book Club Edition)
The Telling by Ursula K. LeGuin in hardback
The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers in paperback (this one is for the wife an me both.)
The Wife walked away with:
A book by Terri Blackstock in paperback (Christian Fiction author)
A book of literature worksheets for the early grades based on famous books.
And at least two others I didn't look at closely enough to remember.
And yet, we got all this, plus four or five blankets for our dog for $27. Incredible.
No wonder the migrant workers who live nearby shop there. They know a good deal when they see one. I think I'll be following their shopping trends from now on. They know how to get a bargain.
While I was there, I also saw a classic science fiction double book by Jack Vance, which my favorite mag Black Gate, is always raving about. I didn't buy it cause I'm not into pulp books, but my friends who are might strike it rich in this most unlikely place.
At any rate, Goodwill is underrated by us white middle-class, daddy has lots of money folks. Although our children seem to be getting the message. The wife had students in Florida who would shop there and get name-brand clothes with the tags still on them at 80% or better discounts. It's amazing!
I highly recommend that any book lover on a shoestring visit their local Goodwill before hitting the local thrift or used book store. The prices are even cheaper at Goodwill than there, and rather than supporting a profit making business, a charity gets the most benefit. How could you miss?
March 19, 2007
My brother got married over the weekend (poor sap), and we all helped. I'm glad to be back at work so I can rest up for my trip to Rome on Saturday. We all had lots of fun though, and danced up a storm at the reception. (I'm just glad I ain't the only one being pressured into having kids now.:-)
The wife has a bunch more pictures at this post.
March 16, 2007
Tomorrow is St. Pattie's Day, but since I will be rather tied up with my brother's wedding, here is an Irish blessing for you today. (It actually will appear in the wedding program, since I wrote the program.)
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
May God be with you and bless you;
May you see your children's children.
May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings,
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.
May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home
And may the hand of a friend always be near.
May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.
— An Irish Blessing
March 13, 2007
I haven't really done much personal updating on my life lately, but then that's because the wife does it so well (and with pictures!).
First learn about the puppy , that we named Darra, we will be getting in early April,
hear about our gardening efforts over the last weekend (due to the beautiful weather).
February 19, 2007
I've been playing with a photo mosaic program this evening. Here is a photo from our trip to Madrid last year, made up of book covers from my library. Thanks to librarything for the assist. Unfortunately, the pic is too large for me to upload to the server I use, so I had to scale it down to this size. You won't be able to see the individual books, you'll just have to take my word on the truth of what I say.
February 13, 2007
Turns out that in my church, I'm considered something of a hero! My assistant pastor wrote a very nice little post on his blog about me and the wife, calling us "Big Creek Hero of the Week"! Thanks Bill! It's been a blessing to work alongside you to get this started. I hope you won't mind, but I've put the text of your post below.
Actually this week is a Hero couple (two Heroes). John and Valerie Ottinger.
This Sunday they started a new Life Group with young, married couples. At Big Creek we currently have 26 Life Groups and we have many dedicated and committed leaders within every Life Group. But why I wanted to single out John and Valerie is because I have appreciated their initiative and willingness to serve. John and Valerie didn't wait for something to get started, they stepped out in faith and took the initiative. It has been a challenge connecting young adults at Big Creek. We have tried a couple of times to get young couples together for small groups, and those attempts didn't end in success. John and Valerie didn't let that discourage them, they took the initiative and thought outside the box. Thinking outside of the box for Big Creek is deciding to have the small group on Sunday mornings. We don't have Sunday school (we are a small group driven church), and so having a Life Group on a Sunday morning before church would be a new thing at Big Creek. But why it can work with young couples, is that Sunday morning can accommodate child care and nursery needs. It's new, its outside of the box...it's a step of faith.
John and Valerie are Big Creek heroes because they are committed to use their gifts within the body of Big Creek, and they don't hesitate to step out and serve. It is so cool when people come to the church and they just dive right in, and John and Valerie are those kind of people. You guys rock and I, and Big Creek, appreciate your willingness to go for it!
February 09, 2007
Well, I go out to the car this morning and crank it up, or at least I try to. The electrical comes on, but the engine won't start. Not even a jump would get it going. Must be the starter I guess. I've had AAA take it down to Hood's, our local two man operation who is fair and cheap. I probably won't get the car till Wednesday, but he will do good work and not over bill me for time and effort.
Let's hope its nothing major, and I can get a few more years out of it. I surely don't want car payments, now that I'm totally free and clear on both vehicles.
C'est la vie (that's for you Miss French Police). :-)
UPDATE: Turns out it was the starter. We had it replaced and she runs much better now. Cross your fingers and hope nothing else occurs.
February 08, 2007
I began home-schooling in the seventh grade, meaning I was probably twelve so it was likely 1992 or so when I started. Apparently, my family was on the cutting edge of education, as the word home-schooler hadn't even come into existence until 1981. The word home-school actually came later according to the OED. Seems the movement was only eleven years old at the time I began my home-schooling career. It's now in its twenties, and still a little unruly if you ask me.
Educ. (orig. and chiefly U.S.).
1. A child who is educated at home.
1981 N.Y. Times 26 Feb. C1/1 Figures for New York City show 822 officially registered home schoolers. 1991 BackHome Fall 70/2 We saw a difference between the way homeschoolers and public school kids behaved. 2002 J. STOUT in T. Dowty & K. Cowlishaw Home Educating Autistic Spectrum Children (2003) v. 80 Being a homeschooler gave him the time and resources to explore intensively and widely whatever he was interested in.
2. A parent (or occas. another person) who teaches children at home.
1984 Frederick (Maryland) Post 26 Jan. A12/1 He'd prosecute any home-schooler because he doesn't think anyone is qualified. 1988 Atlantic Monthly Apr. 22 The parents who are homeschoolers can be found anywhere along a continuum of educational philosophies. 1994 Daily Tel. 5 Sept. 17/1 Nine out of 10 home-schoolers describe themselves as conservative Christians. 2002 Weekly Standard 25 Mar. 15/2 Her being a born-again Christian and a home-schooler made her even more appealing as a symbol.
Of course, the reality is that home-schooling is considerably older than 1981, it was just called tutoring, at least according to home-schoolers themselves.
I am not a fan of people who point to the tutoring of the past as the forerunner of the home-schooling of today. Tutoring was necessary only because there were not enough teachers to go around, education was reserved only for the elite anyway, and the motivations were completely different.
Nonetheless, the two are related, if only distantly, and we can certainly use the curriculum of those who were tutored in the classics for our own children today. Such a classical curriculum (logic, Latin, apologetics, etc.) will certainly be more useful than the factual learning so prevalent in our schools today.
January 26, 2007
When Valerie and I got married, she owned a dinky little car. Well, I say dinky, but actually its been running in smooth condition since it was new in 1996. However, yesterday, the battery died. At least I think it died. I know I can jump-start it, so my assumption is that there is something wrong with the battery not the starter.
The battery is a two-year battery, and I know that it s not been replaced since Val and I have been married. Val has also never been the best at maintaining cars. That's not to mean I am, but at least I go in for regular check-ups. Val never really did. So it's likely the battery has been running more years than it should have been.
So the car is sitting dead in my driveway. (The picture is not of our actual car, although our's is white too.) If there is on thing I hate, its doing maintenance on cars. The engines are always dirty, smelly, and with my proclivity to get stuff on my clothes, usually more expensive than just the replacement part.
So I despise working on my car, but this afternoon, I will have to go buy a battery, replace the existing one without killing myself through shockwaves, and see if it works. Remember, I'm not even sure that the battery is the problem, although I suspect so. Se la vi.
UPDATE: The Car is working fine now. It was the battery (the thing tunred out to be seven years old!) that I had drained completely when I ran my new car lighter air compressor I got for Christmas. All is well now.
January 17, 2007
I recently took it upon myself to begin a young couple's married class at my church. We are a relatively new church trying to reach the county in which we are situated. We are attempting not to have a lot of programs, but to seek simplicity. We want to offer programs that meet needs, but not necessarily meet every need.
in this vein, the young marrieds bible study will actually be a part of the the Life
Group program. Akin to small groups, Life Groups a greater emphasis on mission as a group, serving as a group, "doing life together" as a group.
As I said, I have taken the responsibility to put together a life group for the young marrieds in our church. We don't have many, although that is steadily changing, and a lot of those have kids.
That has been the most challenging aspect of trying to put together this group. Deciding to study the Book of Matthew was easy, it was deciding when and where to meet in order to accommodate the fact that a lot of the young couples have kids is what is hard.
I think we may have come up with a solution, between Pastor Bill and I and the suggestions of some of the young couples who have kids (which I don't).
I think God will bless our efforts. I also pray that God will raise up other men to lead the group, because I will not always be able to and should not have to.
I want too, for sure, but am aware that other responsibilities will get in the way. I also don't want to give in to laziness or lack of desire. I don't want to be preparing last minute or preparing lazily. I need to work hard and create something of value to my church, something God will be proud of me for.
I also hope that I don't get too heady on all the teaching. I want the Scripture to be accessible. I'm also afraid of looking the fool when I begin teaching. I'll be writing my own curriculum for the most part. However, this will be for adults, not for kids like I've done before. It's a little scary. Perhaps this leap of faith will make me pray more.
I've always been lax on my prayer life. I'm going to need a lot more now though. I need to get over and past the discomfort with praying that I always feel. I can't avoid it anymore. I need it desperately.
I'm glad our church has such an excellent support structure, and that many of the young couples I've talked to are excited and willing to help. Social events are already being organized by another young couple, and they are doing a most excellent job.
January 15, 2007
My wife wrote me a little poem/song based on a country song by Brad Paisley. The poem (which is awesome!) is below. Click on the title to see the original post on her blog.
He's a nap on the couch in the sunlight
and a glass of dark merlot
He's a can of Pringles and hard pretzels
but he avoids all sour cream
He's a blogger
A fantasy reader and a writer
He reads more than I do
He can read in Starbucks for hours
He loves cats and likes dogs
and admits to visiting cuteoverload.com
He wants to be a daddy
though he's scared of having girls
He's the opposite of packrat
but still saves the notes I give him
He's a nose-to-nose rub
and a caress on my cheek
He's a world traveler
but he loves to stay at home
He surprises me with gifts
that I don't expect or deserve
I love him more each day
and I'm still amazed
that God brought us together
He's everything I ever wanted
And everything I need
I talk about him, I go on and on and on
'Cause he's everything to me
January 12, 2007
A Few Interesting Folks Share my Birthday:
1729 - Edmund Burke, Irish statesman (d. 1797) "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
1737 - John Hancock, American statesman (d. 1793)
1876 - Jack London, American author (d. 1916)
1951 - Kirstie Alley, American actress
1951 - Rush Limbaugh, American radio personality
1954 - Howard Stern, American radio host
1966 - Rob Zombie, American musician
A Few Interesting Things Happened on this Day in History:
1519: Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian the First died.
1628: Charles Perrault, Paris, poet, fairy tale collector (some sources January 13) born
1723: Handel's "Ottone." was premiered. rehearsal Handel got one soprano to sing an aria the way he wanted it (slowly, without too much embellishment) by threatening to hang her upside-down out a window.
1773: The first public museum in America was established, in Charleston, South Carolina.
1774: The citizens of Newport, Rhode Island, voted to outlaw anyone who bought or sold tea.
1908: Wireless message sent long-distance for the first time from the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
1915: The US House of Representatives rejected a proposal to give women the right to vote.
1915: The U.S. Congress establishes Rocky Mountain National Park.
1916: Former South African President P.W. Botha born
1928: Vladimir Horowitz debuted as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall in New York City. It was the very same night that Sir Thomas Beecham gave his first public performance in the United States.
1932: Mrs. Hattie W. Caraway became the first woman elected to the United States Senate.
1932: Oliver Wendell Holmes quits the Supreme Court at age 90.
1940: Soviet bombers raid cities in Finland.
1942: President Roosevelt created the National War Labor Board.
1943: The wartime Office of Price Administration said standard frankfurters would be replaced by "Victory Sausages" consisting of a mixture of meat and soy meal.
1945: During World War Two, Soviet forces began a huge offensive against the Germans in Eastern Europe.
1948: The Supreme Court ruled that states could not discriminate against law-school applicants because of race.
1949: "Arthur Godfrey and His Friends" premiered on CBS-TV. The TV favorite stayed on the network for seven years.
1949: The Chicago-based children's show, "Kukla, Fran and Ollie," made its national debut on NBC-TV. Fran Allison was hostess.
1964: Leftist rebels in Zanzibar began their successful revolt against the government.
1966: "Batman" debuted on ABC-TV. Adam West starred as Batman and Burt Ward was, Robin.
1971: "All In the Family" debuted on CBS-TV. Carol O'Connor starred as Archie Bunker, Rob Reiner as Meathead, Sally Struthers as Gloria and Jean Stapleton as Edith.
1971: A federal grand jury indicted the Rev. Philip Berrigan and five other people, including a nun and two priests, on charges of plotting to kidnap presidential adviser Henry Kissinger.
1972: President Nixon ordered development of the space shuttle.
1976: Mystery writer Dame Agatha Christie died in Wallingford, England, at age 85.
1986: The shuttle "Columbia" blasted off with a crew that included the first Hispanic-American in space, Dr. Franklin R. Chang-Diaz.
1990: The astronauts aboard the space shuttle "Columbia" retrieved an eleven-ton floating science laboratory in a rescue mission that kept the satellite from plunging to Earth.
1991: A deeply divided Congress gave President Bush the authority to wage war in the Persian Gulf. The Senate voted 52-47 to empower Bush to use armed forces to expel Iraq from Kuwait; the House followed suit on a vote of 250-183.
1993: Nikolaus Harnoncourt's Beethoven symphonic cycle, a nice mix of period performance and modern feeling, sold more than 100-thousand copies.
1993: A U.S. Marine taking part in the humanitarian relief mission in Somalia was killed; the same day, members of Congress called for a withdrawal of some U.S. forces.
1995: Amid unprecedented media hype, the murder trial of Hall of Fame football star O.J. Simpson began in a Los Angeles Superior Court. Simpson was accused of killing his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ronald Goldman.
1996: Chechen fighters holding more than 100 hostages in the Russian village of Pervomayskaya freed about a dozen of their captives and pledged to release the rest if four top Russian officials took their place.
1997: The shuttle "Atlantis" blasted off on a mission to pick up American astronaut John Blaha from the Russian space station "Mir."
1998: Nineteen European nations signed a treaty in Paris opposing human cloning.
1999: Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball was sold at auction in New York for $3 million to an anonymous bidder.
2000: Charlotte Hornets guard Bobby Phills was killed in a crash during a drag race.
January 11, 2007
God my father, Holy of Holies,
Forgive me my sins,
Take away my guilt and shame,
Let me place my crown at your feet,
Let me have nothing, for I deserve nothing,
I have trespassed against you.
Make me lower than all your creatures,
For I am less than the snake,
Evil and Wicked, Selfish and lazy,
I crawl on my belly to your throne.
Take my guilt and shame,
Cast it into the Abyss,
Destroy it utterly,
Let me be a new creation,
Able to create for your glory.
Cleanse me, O My God!
January 03, 2007
Here's the link. Blessings on you both!
December 22, 2006
The wife and I celebrated our mutual Christmas last night. We are leaving today to go to Florida to celebrate Christmas with her family and then return on the 26th to have Christmas with mine. I’ve always thought it rather fun to have several Christmases. This is the first year in my 26 that I will not have Christmas with my family.
My three younger brothers weren’t willing to wait one day and celebrate when the wife and I got home. Seems a little selfish to me, but then, I was the one who went off and got married and have additional responsibilities to other people, so I’m not actually upset with them. It’s ultimately my fault, but I would say I go the better end of the deal. I have Val, and her great family (including the extended family, it’s a real close-knit group).
I’ll be real sorry to miss Christmas with my folks, it just won’t be the same without Mom’s egg casserole and taking turns opening the mound of presents my parents always get us. I won’t get that flighty feeling of excitement as I go to bed. I won’t wake up and rush down the stairs (although in the past few years I shower first) in my pj’s and act like a little kid again. I won’t get to hear my father read the Nativity story from Luke (my most treasured tradition). I think I’ll try and institute that with Val’s folks this year; I want my kids to get that tradition. After that, we opened up everybody’s presents, taking turns so that everyone see what everyone gets, and everyone oohs and aahs over the gifts people got. It’s almost as exciting to watch others open gifts as to open your own.
I’ll miss it, but next year we have Christmas with my folks and then go visit hers, so we made an even trade. I'm sad, but I do get three Christmases, so I can't really complain.
December 15, 2006
Okay, I'll admit it, I like chick flicks. In the past month I've watched:
Where the Heart Is
How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days
and one more whose title I can't remember at the moment.
We own each of these except Where the Heart Is (and I'm always the one to suggest we buy them) in addition to movies like:
Pride and Prejudice (1995 A&E version)
Love Potion #9 (although this is Val's contribution)
Return to Me
and 13 Going on 30.
Even worse, I like them all, and want to get more for our collection. Am I fundamentally screwed up?
December 13, 2006
Well, the December issue of byFaith is out. Guess who's name is right next to the word "Circulation". That's right, you guessed it, my beautiful wifey's! If you call the number for subscriptions, you'll get her desk, and her sweet, sweet voice. You guys are so lucky, and you just don't know it. (The picture at right ain't the new issue, but the new issue cover is not yet accessible to me. It's pastel yellow and has the word Heaven written on it, very pretty.) Most of you'll never know how cool it is to see your wife's name in print for the very first time. (The B. Withrow does, I know. By the way, I will be ordering your book in the next month or two.) Let your jealousy run rampant. I don't care, I'm just happy that my wife is making strides to attain the goal she has always strived towards, being an editor. Congratulations wifey!
PS: Some of ya'll who are close to me (aka CovFriends) may have gotten a copy in the mail. That's a gift subscription from me and the wife (except the Bishop's) as a Christmas present. (And yes, I do have to pay, even though she works for them.) Enjoy!
December 11, 2006
So the wife and I are expecting to be overrun with bunnies this coming Spring. Our exterminator (who is a real nice guy, says the wife) told her that someone in the neighborhood next door to ours had been raising high-end bunnies in their backyard. They had upwards of 150 of them. However, for some reason, all of these expensive rabbits have gotten loose into the that neighborhood, and ours as well.
Our exterminator said that the cost to trap each bunny is $150. So apparently because of the high cost to trap them, the owners will let the rabbits go wild. All during winter they will be mating and making more little rabbits. These rabbits are worth a lot, so Val and I are thinking maybe we could trap a few and make a few bucks (and hopefully save our tulips). The exterminator guy also told Val that one lady is already so frustrated with the loose bunny situation that she is going to move!
The wife and I were already frustrated with the wild hare we just can't seem to get rid of in our backyard. Seems that hare will seem like an old friend come Spring.
By the way, if you live in the North Georgia area, we recommend Northwest Exterminating. They are friendly, small, and easy to get a hold of when you need to. When the exterminator first came, he told Valerie all about what bugs our plants will attract and how to prevent their loss. He went way over and above his job description. Very classy, I thought.
The wife has an excellent ability to decorate with what we already have lying about the house. She tells the story of how we spent an hour or so on Saturday decorating a rather useless ledge in our home.
I wish the home builders had extended the loft area above instead of having a ledge, but then, what do I know about style?
Nonetheless, it looks good, and uses books, my most favoritest decorating item.
December 04, 2006
What a weekend! It was mi madre's birthday and in order to celebrate a lot of work was needed. The wife spent most of Saturday shopping for Christmas decorations (we have a very limited number, enough for an apartment but not for a house) and food to host a birthday party.
While she did that, I took my Mom to lunch with my other three brothers at O'Charley's (which has awesome chicken fingers by the way).
Then when we both got home, we set up the Christmas tree, decorated it, and decorated the rest of the house. The wife then baked the brownie dessert with the inappropriate name whose recipe she got from her aunt, prepared the main course, set the table, and generally cleaned house (I did help!)
Sunday we went to church, baked the lunch, entertained my family and their "special friends" (about 8 people in all) for the birthday party, and then napped for about fifteen minutes before going to small group and strongly discussing the role of wealth for the Christian (We were working through the Treasure Principle). Exhausting! I did enjoy the Cabernet Sauvignon we had to drink though (at lunch, not the small group).
In the midst of all this, I managed to take a chip out of our wood floor when I dropped a chair, which was very upsetting to me.
So all in all, very busy. I'm glad to be back at work so I can rest.
November 20, 2006
Happy B-day to my good friend the Jollyswan. I'm looking forward to seeing you on New Year's weekend! Man, we are all changing so rapidly.
November 15, 2006
I left for the office without shower today. I always feel so unclean when I do that. I mean, it's my fault for sleeping in late when I should have got up, and its not like I have the excuse of staying up late, I just didn't. The feeling of being icky stays with me throughout the day. It's especially bad for me because I have oily hair, and its very noticeable when I don't shower. People usually ask me if I got a haircut, because the difference between clean and oily hair is so dramatic. My part also stays very much in place, and my hair doesn't have any softness.
My body also feels rather gross, I can just feel the collection of oil from the night before just covering my skin. It makes my skin crawl, and besides, its itchy. I keep scratching my skin and leaving scratch marks, cause the oil makes it feel so very itchy.
I hate being so icky and gross! I must get up on time, no matter the cost in rest!
November 10, 2006
He served in the Pacific Theater during World War II as part of the ground troops. He has told me of some of his efforts in taking islands from the Japanese, and although we often revere those who served in Europe through movies and accolades, the ground troops in the Pacific theater faced many of the same horrors, with a greater number of dangers.
He was called back up during Korea, due to his expertise in weaponry and his skills as a leader.
For this Veteran's Day I honor my grandfather, the first of my name.
Read the Extended Entry for a History of Veterans Day.
World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919 , in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles , France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918 , is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"
The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m.
The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:
Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.
An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday - - a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first "Veterans Day Proclamation" which stated: "In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible." (Click here for the full text of the proclamation.)
On that same day, the President sent a letter to the Honorable Harvey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans' Affairs (VA), designating him as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee. (Click here for the text of President Eisenhower’s letter.)
In 1958, the White House advised VA's General Counsel that the 1954 designation of the VA Administrator as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee applied to all subsequent VA Administrators. Since March 1989 when VA was elevated to a cabinet level department, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has served as the committee's chairman.
The Uniforms Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to insure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.
The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.
Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
November 01, 2006
Last night, when young children in costumes came to the door, I used words like "cute" and "adorable".
Am I losing my masculinity?
Have I lost the inherent beer-guzzling, swaggering, filthy living I had in my bachelor days?
Is this all some subtle plot?
What has my wife done to me? I care about the cuteness of things.
I have found myself daily checking out Cute Overload.
I am losing what it means to be a MAN, at least I think I am.
Not that I mind.
Isn't he just sooo cute?
October 23, 2006
We had a great time, but the best part was finding out which clan I actually belong to. The sept of MacKim (close enough in spelling to be considered the same as McKim) is part of Clan Fraser in the Northeast of Scotland in Aberdeenshire. It was awesome to find this out. We we even have a clan chief, Lady Saltoun, a noble of Scotland. Very Cool.
So I am both a Covenant Scot and a Scot by descent. So I'm a Scot twice over. (By the way I wore my Covenant shirt with the Scottish flag on it to represent!)
We spent some time walking up Stone Mountain, which I hadn't done since I was twelve or so. It was great, although I am really out of shape for such a short trek of 1.4 miles.
I also got a little video of the massed bands at the games. The first part doesn't sound too good because the drums are too close, but it gets better if you keep listening.
I recently found out that my pastor from Florida, the pastor who presided over my wedding, has resigned his post of 24 years. This is emotional and heartwrenching to those of us who know him and who learned so much from him.
You can read his farewell address here.
We are all stunned and saddened by this turn of events. Our pastor was a rock, a man of character and honor, who led his congregation faithfully and to the best of his ability. He had his faults, some of which he discusses in his farewell address, but these were far outweighed by the good he did.
I hope that my friends and family of Covenant can get through this time by earnest prayer and heartfelt hope for the changes God is making in the church.
It is always sad when a man who built the church, leaves. But as he would acknowledge himself, no man is the church. The church is it's people led by the Session through the leadership of Christ Himself. While we are all saddened by the pastor's resignation, we know that God has plans in place for him. We pray also that new leadership may be found in a pastor suited to the new tasks of this large and vibrant church.
May God be praised in all things.
October 18, 2006
Val and I have taken up ballroom dancing at Perimeter. We go once a week and learn the rumba, waltz, i forget the other, and finally swing. This swing is a triple step east coast swing that is different from what Val and I are used to (we do a two step east coast swing) so we kinda have had to relearn a lot of stuff. We are enjoying it, because our male instructor always manages to make some sort of manly reference in the steps he teaches.
For instance, waltz is like NASCAR because you move around the room. Or we are sto slide our feet like in ice hockey. The instructor is quite clever with his witticisms, so I would go just for that.
I do, however, feel the need to do something manly, so Val, a friend of hers and myself are going to the Stone Mountain Highland Games on Saturday. I can't believe Val agreed to go, but there you are. I can't wait to watch a little caber hurling and listen to the pipes.
October 16, 2006
So my gorgeous wife has reached the big 3-0. You can see her comments on getting older here. I have to say, without any bias whatsoever, that as she has gotten older, she has only gotten more beautiful.
We spent her birthday weekend with her parents (up from Melbourne, FL) and my folks as well. It made for a hectic non-stop weekend, but I think we had some fun. We checked out Vickery and we went and saw Val's office at the PCA headquarters. It was a good time.
We ate out at Cabernet for dinner on Saturday. This place was really high end, but it was worth it for the atmosphere (mostly, towards the end of the meal this non-stop talking homecoming couple sat next to us) and the excellent food. Fortunately, my in-laws paid or else I would have had to take out a second mortgage.
I am glad (not just cause of the food) that I married this wonderful woman who turned thirty yesterday.
October 15, 2006
Which of these folks do you think is thirty today?
October 04, 2006
I have within me of late this great desire to create, to leave my mark on the world in the form of something I created. I have tried writing a fantasy, but I lack the true spark necessary for that type of creation. I have tried to write interesting and/or useful blog posts, but I find that no one reads them or they are filled with trivialities.
I have tried to work on being a reader reviewer for publishing companies, but no one seems to care what my opinion is.
I have tried to teach Sunday School’s or lead small groups for adults, but I’m always too young and it is suggested that I work with the high schoolers or middle schooler, work that I do not find to be to my skills or tastes.
When asked to discuss a topic, I rarely have anything new or valuable to say, I can only rehash other’s arguments, and I can’t even remember where I got the argument in the first place.
All of these things are symptomatic of my desire to create something worthwhile and lasting. I think my inability to create really comes down to a lack of discipline. I do not have either the passion or desire to spend time mastering anything.
I like to spend my free time wastefully in the pursuit of pleasure. This is not something that I think is right. I think that I need to produce something of value.
But when I get an idea, someone usually has already said it, done it, or is planning to do so, and I would just be stealing their thunder.
What then, can I create? I have no real skills that I have developed beyond the ability to do whatever is required passably.
This is not a right thing. I should be creating for excellence, even the smallest things I do. I should be making something for the world, not seeking my own pleasure in vain pursuits. But what to do? I know not what I CAN do, much less what I should do. This makes me depressed, making it even more difficult to garner the necessary gumption to create something of value, even if it based off the work of others.
"Terms such as podcasting and wikis are still meaningless to many." quote from this BBC article.
It is unfortunate that many people don't know these terms, they are part of our culture and becoming increasingly less a part of "geekspeak" and more part of mainstream language.
But more unfortunate than this is the lack of knowledge of more useful and common words. I am guilty of this, as I find myself increasingly failing to describe my thoughts and feelings with any sort of accuracy.
I say things like "well, you know what I mean" or words like "nice", "okay", "fine". words that are so commonly used that they lack any real meaning. In part this is why I read LeopoldTulip's blog. He knows words, and uses them to great effect I think.
I often wish I wasn't lazy in my speech. I need to explore the depth and rich variety of the great stock of descriptive words in the English language.
As we look forward to the great new words that technology is so full of, I think it is important that we look back and reclaim some of the valuable words that have fallen into disuse. (And not just for beating Grandma at Scrabble!) The more useful of these disused words need to reenter our vocabulary and see more common usage in our everyday speech.
agamous - The state of being unmarried
agiotage - Speculation in the stock market
barathrum - A person who eats like they were a bottomless pit
batrachoid - Like a frog
belgard - A sweet and loving look
blatherskite - An obnoxious braggart
junta - All the people who are involved in some form of political intrigue
lucelence - An adjective meaning 'fine and beautiful'
obliviscence - Forgetfulness
pseudoantidisestablishmentarianism - The false support of the idea
that a government should not support the church
quaestuary - Seeking money or trying to make money
yemeless - To be negligent and careless
zabernism - The unjustified use of or abuse of military or police authority,
particularly in an aggressive manner
zob - A worthless person
zeitgeist - The general culture, education, and morals of a given era
Words were chosen at random from the Grandiloquent Dictionary Third Edition by C.S. Bird.
All of these words could be used in our everyday speech quite easily, but are not, becasue we are lazy speakers who say what we think more often than we bother to think.
October 02, 2006
Lot’s of fun was had last weekend. On Friday Night, Val and I went with Joel to see the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for free. They performed Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto and two Ralph Vaughan Williams pieces. I had never heard of Vaughn Williams before, but I really liked the ethereal quality of his work. It put me in mind of the fantasies I love to read. I think I might use his music as one of my themes when reading. Sometimes I listen to classical music while reading fiction; it is amazing how the text I am reading often matches up to the music that is playing. It’s a strange thing to do perhaps but I find it wonderful.
We also saw a couple of hot air balloons go flying over the house as we were on our way to somewhere. That was really fun. They were real close and Val got some great pictures of them. Haven’t developed the film yet or I might post the pics.
We worked in the yard too. I got some edging done, and now we have a defined line between the garden and the lawn. It is a little weavy (I like straight lines) but it looks good. I’ve gotta mow today, hopefully for the last time for the winter.
I watched a whole lot of Poirot, the BBC series based on the Agatha Christie novels. Val likes the novels, but had never seen the BBC series. I watched a lot, and Val joined me from time to time.
We tried a new church, just for fun. A local PCUSA church, it calls itself a “confessional” church meaning that it is more conservative than your average PCUSA church but it still ordains women as elders and deacons and I’m sure has a few other theological differences I couldn’t agree with. Val and I will probably visit on occasion just to get a more traditional service than out home church, Big Creek (PCA), provides.
All in all, it was a fun weekend.
September 28, 2006
We just had a hailstorm! It was so cool! This doesn't happen very often. The hail was maybe pea sized, but wtaching it come down and smack the ground was AWESOME! The rush of noise it made was like a train chugging down the track. I wish I had my camera for pics. In the meantime, enjoy this video of hail coming on down!
September 16, 2006
It is now nearly 3:30 AM and I still can't fall asleep. Maybe I should try laying down huh? I wish we had some Tylenol PM around here. Good night sweet world.
September 14, 2006
My wife is special. Very special. She has talents and skills I can only dream about on weekends and every other Wednesday. She is an artist and publisher, a design goddess and organizing queen. She ran a business (albeit one that masqueraded as a school yearbook) worth twice what I make in a year. And it is these skills and talents that lead me to congratulate her on her new job working for byFaith magazine.
For those of you who do not know, byFaith is the new (about a year old) bi-monthly denominational magazine of the PCA. Inside its covers you will find articles on things like immigration, the environment, roles of women in the church, the youth culture both inside and outside the church, personal stories of people in the PCA making a difference, and articles about the arts and culture in general, besides just news and information about the goings on of the PCA.
“Informing, Encouraging, and Involving the People of the PCA
byFaith is created for members, guests, and staff of the 1,500+ PCA churches in the United States and Canada. And the magazine exists to provide—
1. News—of PCA churches, agencies, and committees. And also information of interest throughout God’s broader kingdom.
2. Practical information—for men and women who want to apply their faith in the ordinary things they do, and who are looking for ideas and information.
3. Stories that spark creativity—whether our readers are stay-at-home moms, in business, science, education, or religion—byfaithonline.com inspires them to live transformed lives before a watching world.
4. Reliable Theology—the Reformed faith holds the answers to many of the questions our culture is asking. byFaith equips people to respond—at the office, at the supermarket, and in the church.”
-- Excerpted from the byFaith website
If you are not already a subscriber, you should be, even if you are not in the denomination. For a cheap price (less if you get a 10 or so people from the church to sign up as well) you get some great articles by members of the PCA. This includes professors, theologians, actors, professional writers, and even people like you and me.
Now I know this is a shameless plug, but I’m proud of my wife and I want to see the magazine she works for succeed.
Congratulations to my wife on her new job. I look forward to seeing great things from her and the staff of the magazine in the future.
September 11, 2006
In our memorials and remembrances of that fateful day five years ago, let’s get a little perspective. To us, in the USA, we feel the pain of losing our countrymen, brave heroes, business people and travelers just trying to get from one place to another. This pain is good and right and true. We should mourn, we should care, and we should seek consolation, explanation and justice.
But Christians must see more. Our brothers and sisters in many parts of the world are dying, are in hiding, or are suffering under nefarious regimes. Why do we not mourn loudly the loss of our family? We did lose family members five years ago, I don’t dispute that. But why do we not mourn just as loudly for the loss of our family elsewhere in the world? Why, when so many Christians languish in Sudan, in China, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East? Where is our sense of the injustice of it all?
Why do we not do more, say more, and care just as much about peoples who may not be countrymen, but are our family nonetheless?
This is not to say that remembering the loss of the many people on September 11, 2001 is wrong. But why do Christians have so much to say in remembrance of that day, but then do nothing to cry out at similar and worse atrocities across the globe?
Some do, I know. But it is not enough, it is not enough. I may not know my family intimately, but each loss is painful to God and therefore painful to me. Why do I not weep more for these losses? As much as I weep for the losses of 9/11? I should weep just as much, if not more for these forgotten and forsaken family members.
September 07, 2006
On my way home from lunch today I saw a sign outside a gas station that offered free coffee. It was free due to the fact that the BP station attached to the market was shut down for repairs to the pipes.
Free coffee is a good thing. What is not a good thing is the gross mistake made by the author of the sign offering the free coffee. After offering the coffee, the (printed not marquee) sign said “sorry for the incovience” a gross spelling mistake if I ever saw one. Made me want to scream, actually, which I consequently did, all through the nearby traffic light.
What ever happened to good spelling? The use of spell checkers has destroyed good spelling habits. That is not to say that I don’t use them (I do, I’m even using one right now) but at least I know how and why I made a mistake. Those truly dependent on spell check wouldn’t even know what was wrong with their writing.
A sad state of affairs if you ask me.
I wish Lynn Truss had written a book about spelling as well as grammar. Spelling is so imperative a skill in our culture today. Many would argue otherwise because, after all, they have spell check. However, with the growth of the English language by leaps and bounds (so much so that most spell checkers are out of date, especially in business or the sciences) it is important that a person learn to spell properly.
I know, I know, some people say the language is moving towards acronyms and text message like words, but I say that even that requires spelling skills. Most of those words in a text message are phonetic and require some knowledge of the relationship between a sound and its letter. This is the very foundation of spelling.
I cannot stress how important spelling is today. It is becoming a lost art, and people who really can spell as well as write are actually becoming more in demand than ever. More often than not, my work is interrupted by the bad spellers in my office asking for my help to spell a word on a document for them. It is usually a word that spell check either does not have in its repertoire or has so many variations, they don’t know which to choose, and so they come to me. I probably get interrupted twice a day for such tasks, if not more.
So when I see a sign, one which had to be made at a design shop, and probably cost no little money to make, with a misspelled word, I just have to scream.
August 09, 2006
The WIFE now has her very own blog.
Fear her wrath, tremble at her feet, and be sure to drop by a post now and again dear chaps.
She is such a good writer (read: not so great at conversation, which she admits) that all and sundry are sure to have a good time.
August 07, 2006
I like news. I like reading the news, I like learning about what is happening in our world. I like thinking about what I can do to fulfill God's call for the world and how to better it.
In the interest of saving money that could be better spent giving to missionaries than supporting liberal newspapers or paying big, bad cable companies, I try to get my news online. I usually use Fox News as I like some of their people and usually find their stories interesting and useful.
I will not be visiting that site anymore.
I checked it out today, and on the front page was at least one ad for a magazine featuring models in swimsuits (it was targeting women, but I saw it.) and two articles about S-E-X.
After that, I didn't even look around anymore.
Let's admit it. I am a heterosexual guy who enjoys looking at a woman. However, I want to enjoy looking at my wife and not feel guilty about it. In seeing the women whose bodies I accidentally saw when I was trying to get some news, I do.
That destroys our intimacy, and I hate it.
Men do NOT need anymore encouragement to look at women not their wives. If I can't even get news without seeing women in swimsuits (always posed provacatively even when advertising for women), then where can I get news?
I'm not trying to be a prude, and I am well aware of my responsibility to look after my own mind, and how much I need to pray that God cleanses it everyday.
But I just want to see the news in peace. I was blindsided today. I should know better by now, but why can't I just find some real news that won't sell me smut on the side, even soft smut like women's magazines?
I won't be visiting Fox News anymore, because I am afraid that I may be too interested in looking at some of the ads, or in reading some of the articles.
It's true that S-E-X sells, but to a man trying to be pure and holy for his wife, it doesn't.
All this to say, anybody have any suggestions on how to get daily news from online that is noteworthy and can help me avoid all that smut? I get World Magazine every week, but its a weekly and can only cover so much in its few pages. Suggestions?
July 05, 2006
I ran (read: walked most of the way and jogged occaisionally) my very first ever 5K race on July 4th. It was a family fun run/walk over at Vickery Village. Val had found out about it the day before, so we showed up, payed our $20 per family retail price and ran.
I had originally intended only to do the 1.5K walk, but my pride got the better of me and I had to insist on running the entire 5K. I cam in 78th place (which is to say fourth or fifth from last place) but I made it. I wanted to curl up an die afterward, but I did make it.
I have always wondered what people see in exercise in general and running in particular. I hear about these ephemeral endorphins-that are supposed to give you energy-but have never experienced them myself, no matter how much I have exercised. (Maybe mine are just buried real deep from lack of use?) At any rate, I'm still confused as to why people do this kind of thing to themselves willingly.
I ended up spending the rest of the day on the couch reading 2 entire books and watching one movie from 9:30 AM till 9PM (save only a break for lunch) because I just was too tired to do anything else.
Don't get me wrong, the race was fun in its own weird way, but I just don't see why people are so gung ho about running in general. My wife sure is, and my attempts to understand the runners mindset stem from wanting to know her better, but I think that this whole running thing will just always be a mystery to me.
And of course, in order for it to do me any good, and help me lose some weight, I have to continue to do it. It's not some sort of on time fixes all kind of thing, like salvation or the hero killing the bad guy. In today's world, I think that is just monstrous!
So I ran a 5K yesterday. Wild!
July 03, 2006
Sometimes I feel so utterly useless to God or anyone.
I'm not especially intelligent or knowledgeable. (I waste my time on reading fiction, and not especially good fiction.)
I have had a thought in the back of my mind that the church needs to rediscover its history, and that we need to study it more carefully in our Bible studies and Sunday schools, but come to find out that someone has already thought of that as is doing a much better job at it than I could (due in large part to upbringing and education.) See here. Thanks to Mike's Book blog for directing me there.
Then I thought that maybe a master's degree (in business) would make me feel useful at work. Come to find out that my work is highly specialized, and any sort of broad degree (such as an MBA) would be useless. The best thing is on-the-job training. So that just takes time and some effort.
I have also always wanted to write a novel. But I find that I am not especially talented in writing, and lack some of the fundamental education and drive needed to make a decent writer.
I have come to the realization that I am average, a sort of jack-of-all-trades and master of none. I find myself jealous when I see my friends going on and getting advanced degrees in specialized fields (which I would never be good at, but they are) and want to find some of that passion and knowledge myself.
Back when I was teaching, I wasn't very good at it, but I managed to slide by, due in large part to my jack-of-all-trades attitude. If something needed to be done, I would do it whether or not I was any good at it or even knew anything about it.
Back when I went to First Pres. Fort O, I ended up in charge of the AV equipment each Sunday. I learned just enough to run sound and make CDs each Sunday, but never went farther than that. I found out recently that my young pupil that I had at the time has so far surpassed me, that he works AV at Covenant College now. I think that is rather more his hard work than my tutelage.
I love to surround myself with smart people, but so often I find that I cannot help but be jealous of them. I know that I will always yearn to know, but never have the grit or wherewithal to master a subject, as they have. (Not that I think they are done learning or trying, just that they are so far beyond me that I feel stupid and idiotic). While they have been surrounded for years with people who love knowledge and who seek to learn, I have had children who hated to learn, who forced me to a common denominator, and people in the church content to coast in the knowledge of Christ rather than pursuing it wholeheartedly. That changed last year, but now that I have moved, I have lost than and must begin again.
I want to master something! I want my age not to be a factor and to have people look to me because I know something they do not. Not so that I can lord it over them, but so that by teaching, I might learn more. That all may be improved. I just can't stay interested in any one topic or task long enough to find mastery. Why are my interests so scatterd and diverse? What are you preparing me to do, God? Why do I know so little about so much and not a lot about a little? Why spread me so widely Lord? What task are you preparing me for?
Why do I feel the need to create something for you but feel also that I have no talent for it? Or rather, why do i have no talent for what I feel I must create, what I feel you want me to do? Am I not prepared enough? Or is this a test of my willingness to sacrifice for you? I want to sacrifice everything to you, God, Abba, Father. Give me the power to create, ex nihilo, as you have done. Let my mind (your creation) bring together all that I have been taught to create for you.
Let this jack-of-all-trades mentality work for you. Make me observant and capable to do what ever it is you are preparing me for. I want to work for you, God.
June 27, 2006
Our house is almost there. We are so very close to having everything organized, or at least put away where it cannot be seen. We need a few more peices of furniture to round out some of the rooms, but at this point nearly everything looks as if we have lived here for quite some time.
I'm all sunburned because we had a garage sale on Saturday (in which my parents also participated) and then I worked outside in the yard and then we went swimming. As usual, I forgot about my fair skin. It's not too bad and the redness has died down.
We have (or rather, Valerie has) nearly conquered all the weeds in our backyard. We just have a few blakberry bushes up against the fence to get rid of. I know, I know, why get rid of blackberry bushes? But you jsut don't understand, these things are like weeds and they are growing in places that are damaging to the fence. Maybe one day we will cultivate some in a particular place.
Of course we are still not sure what to do with the Empress Trees in the back. Although technically a tree, they are really a weed, with roots that go out fifty feet from the base and a trunk that grows fifty feet tall. Additionally, they seed at about 50 to 100 seeds PER POD. Almost every seed grows and even the roots will grow new trees where they stick up from the ground! It's wild.
Getting rid of the TV was a great idea. I don't know what to do with myself sometimes, but I always have something interesting to do and now I have plenty of time for the Word and for getting to know people. I don't know why I wasted so much time in front of the boob tube. (Don't get me wrong, we still watch TV, just mostly movies borrowed from the library or from friends, or that we already own.) It's nice.
Things sure are great here at Grasping for the Wind. Work's good, the house is good, my wife is as beautiful as always. It sure is nice to be content. God is great and he has blessed me much beyond my measure.
June 24, 2006
I have bitten the bullet and added a flickr badge to my sidebar. It is just so much easier then individually posting pics to a blog post. Please enjoy my public photos. Updates should happen often and interestingly.
If you are in any of the pictures and don't wish to be seen by the world (no names or anything are mentioned, but some people are uncomfortable with the idea) just let me know and I will make that pic private.
June 14, 2006
Well, we are all moved into our new house. (By all moved in, of course I don't mean unpacked, that is a month long process.) I am now at my job regularly each and every day, which is a good thing because now I don't have to deal with all the garbage of air travel. We don't have internet access yet, so I have to write this from work (Oh man, I just remembered that I didn't do devotions this morning when I certainly meant to). Anyway, we are very excited about the new place although a little exhausted. The wife has already spent my paycheck for the next five years, but at least the house will look nice. (A little tongue-in-cheek there.) Glad to be stable, in a good and fun job, in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. I think I will stay there a while and enjoy the blessings that God has given me that are not mine to have.
Look back here later for some pictures of the new place, once I get our internet up and running.
May 23, 2006
My Wife told me that I must turn this idea into a blog post, so under her command, here goes.
I have never been one of those who held to the theory of MFEO (Made for each other) that so many others ascribe to. By that I mean that I don't believe that I was predestined to marry my wife. God did not order events so that I would meet her in particular. I could have met anyone and married her instead, if we believed we could make a life together. (I know, this sounds unromantic, but hear me out.)
If we were to play the what if game and say that if we had made different decisions and ended up in different cities or states, I do not hold to the theory that we still would have met somehow and married.
That is not to say that God did not know who I would marry long before I did. I just don't believe that God would have ordered the world so that I would meet that one person. I tend to think that is very arrogant of me. Of course, God's knowledge of the future is one of the great mysteries of faith and I do not want to digress into a theological conundrum.
I do believe that there were many women I could have potentially married. Just because I met and married my wife does not mean that I had to do so. That destroys that aspect called free will that is part of our human makeup.
I believe that I met a woman who, from the first time I saw her, had the potential to become my wife. I actively pursued her, got know her, and fell in love with her, so I married her.
Why do I believe this?
I do so because I do not want to be so presumptuous as to believe that God moves the world around so that I would meet one particulatr person and make her my spouse.
I also think that so many people (especially Christians) fall into the MFEO trap, and thereby ruin their marriages. The think that because they were meant for each other, that God will ensure that they stay together, so they don't work at their marriage, continually trying to improve it and make it better, and so they end up divorced.
To me, MFEO is a way for married couples out there to deny any responsibility in marriage. If, after all, we are made for each other, than we will be a perfect fit, we should rarely (if ever) have any problems, and all will be hunky-dory.
I'm sorry, but a study of the world shows that this just isn't so. It is a very nice sentiment, but it really denies the fallen and corrupt nature of mankind.
I expressed this belief to my wife last night. At first, she was disappointed that I didn't believe in the MFEO theory, but as I explained why she came to see just how much I truly love her. After all, I CHOSE to marry her, I CHOSE to love her, and I CHOOSE to continue to build my life together with her. It wasn't inevitable, it wasn't fate, it is true love. It is more beautiful to her than any fate theory, because she knows that I truly care for her and don't love her because there was no escaping it. Fate didn't bring us together, LOVE did.
Think about it.
May 02, 2006
As I am suffering under a particular sin that is consuming me, this quote from C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce was recommended to me as a story of just what God wants to do for me, if I will only let my sin go.
I saw coming towards us a Ghost who carried something on his shoulder. Like all the Ghosts, he was unsubstantial, but they differed from one another as smokes differ. Some had been whitish; this one was dark and oily. What sat on his shoulder was a little red lizard, and it was twitching its tail like a whip and whispering things in his ear. As we caught sight of him he turned his head to the reptile with a snarl of impatience. "Shut up, I tell you!" he said. It wagged its tail and continued to whisper to him. He ceased snarling, and presently began to smile. Then he turned and started to limp westward, away from the mountains.
"Off so soon?" said a voice. The speaker was more or less human in shape but larger than a man, and so bright that I could hardly look at him. His presence smote on my eyes and on my body too (for there was heat coming from him as well as light) like the morning sun at the beginning of a tyrannous summer day. "Yes, I’m off," said the Ghost. "Thanks for all your hospitality. But it’s no good, you see. I told this little chap," (here he indicated the lizard), "that he’d have to be quiet if he came - which he insisted on doing. Of course his stuff won’t do here: I realize that. But he won’t stop. I shall just have to go home "Would you like me to make him quiet?" said the flaming Spirit - an angel, as I now understood.
"Of course I would," said the Ghost.
"Then I will kill him," said the Angel, taking a step forward.
"Oh - ah - look out! You’re burning me. Keep away," said the Ghost retreating.
"Don’t you want him killed?" said the Angel.
"You didn’t say anything about killing him at first. I hardly meant to bother you with something so drastic as that."
"It’s the only way," said the Angel, whose burning hands were now very close to the lizard. "Shall I kill it?"
"Well, that’s a further question. I’m quite open to consider it, but it’s a new point, isn’t it? I mean, for the moment I was only thinking about silencing it..." said the Ghost.
"May I kill it?" asked the Angel.
"Well, there’s time to discuss that later" said the Ghost.
"There is no time. May I kill it?"
"Please, I never meant to be such a nuisance. Please - really - don’t bother. Look! It’s gone to sleep of its own accord. I’m sure it will be all right now. Thanks ever so much."
"May I kill it?"
"Honestly, I don’t think there’s the slightest necessity for that. I’m sure I shall be able to keep it in order now. I think the gradual process would be far better than killing it." said the Ghost.
"The gradual process is of no use at all."
"Don’t you think so? Well, I’ll think over what you’ve said very carefully. I honestly will. In fact I’d let you kill it now, but as a matter of fact I’m not feeling frightfully well today. It would be silly to do it now. I’d need to be in good health for the operation. Some other day, perhaps."
"There is no other day. All days are present now."
"Get back! You’re burning me. How can I tell you to kill it? You’d kill me if you did."
"It is not so."
"Why, you’re hurting me now."
"I never said it wouldn’t hurt you. I said it wouldn’t kill you"...
The Angel’s hands were almost closed on the Lizard, but not quite. Then the Lizard began chattering to the Ghost so loud that even I could hear what it was saying.
"Be careful," it said. "He can do what he says. He can kill me. One fatal word from you and he will! Then you’ll be without me forever and ever. It’s not natural. How could you live? You’d only be a sort of ghost, not a real man as you are now. He doesn’t understand. He’s only a cold, bloodless abstract thing. It may be natural for him, but it isn’t for us. Yes, yes. I know there are no real pleasures now, only dreams. But aren’t they better than nothing? And I’ll be so good. I admit I’ve sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won’t do it again. I’ll give you nothing but really nice dreams - all sweet and fresh and almost innocent. You might say, quite innocent..."
"Have I your permission?" asked the Angel to the Ghost.
"I know it will kill me."
"It won’t. But supposing it did?" asked the Angel "You’re right. It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature."
"Then I may?"
"...Go on can’t you! Get it over. Do what you like," bellowed the Ghost: but ended, whimpering, "God help me. God help me."
Next moment the Ghost gave a scream of agony such as I never heard on Earth. The Burning One closed his crimson grip on the reptile: twisted it, while it bit and writhed, and then flung it, broken backed on the turf.
April 27, 2006
I read last week this really great quote about friendship. Gresham is here refering to the friendship found in The Inklings, that group of great writers and thinkers of Oxford, England.
"Now friendship in those days was a bit different from what it is today; friends did not have to agree on everything and often agreed on practically nothing. They were people with whom you could argue all day and yet never get irritated or angry at all. In today's world we seem to have lost the meaning of real freindship. If someone disagrees with us, it is fashionable today to dislike them for it. This is silly and robs us of the best kind of friends we could find, for if we are always agreed with, we can never have a serious conversation; we cannot learn from someone who agrees with what we say."
April 25, 2006
If you are a Scots Alumni and have not yet joined the InCircle, you can do so by going to the following link:
and clicking on Register in the right hand column. Connect with other Covenant Folks. Upload your blog feed and join groups of folks with similar interests. Think of it as Myspace for Covenant Grads. It is awesome!
April 05, 2006
VALERIE AND I ARE NOW HOMEOWNERS!
Signed all the papers this very afternoon. Now I just gotta figure out how to make the payments! Woohoo!
Seriously, though, this is great. I can invite people over now, have guests, do yardwork, live the life. God Is GOOD!
March 24, 2006
No doubt about it. I am scum. I don't just mean in the Biblical sense that we are all rotten to the core without saving grace (a thing of head knowledge and theology but not often made personal), but that I am scum in the most basic primeval, rotten, horrible sense.
I have betrayed my wife.
Not in the sense you are thinking, nothing like the sexual sins that are going through your mind at this moment. (Although being a guy, lust IS my constant companion whether I will it or no.) No I have betrayed her by wishing she was something she is not.
You're probably thinking, "That's not so terrible." Oh, but it is. It is how it begins, that insiduious little thought in your head that perhaps your spouse isn't always what you thought you wanted, the he/she doesn't quie fit the mental list you always had in your head of the ideal spouse.
The post you see beneath (entitled "A Gripe") this one is the most blatant (and public) proof of my betrayal. Rather than being supportive, a good husband, a helpful husband who holds fast to his vows, I betray her by griping to the world that I hate her for who she is. Or, at least, that I am unsatisfied with who she is.
So this is my public apology and confession. I should never have posted, or used the time in question to undermine my gracious wife. I will leave the post in draft form, as a reminder to myself of how dissatisfied I can become for as long as it remains.
My wife is the Proverbs 31 wife. She is:
The Woman Who Fears the LORD
10[d] An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17She dresses herself[e] with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.[f]
22She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29"Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all."
30Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.
PROVERBS 31 (ESV)
The emphasis are mine, to show in what areas I have most betrayed her. For I hated her for these very things for which the Lord calls her blessed.
Therefore, I am scum, and she is the ideal (and godly) wife.
February 14, 2006
I never really enjoyed this holiday, until I had someone to bless through it. Unfortunately, I am on my way to Dallas from Atlanta and so am not able to spend this day with my beautiful wife. I am saddened by this, but I have a poor substitute in a picture of her and our wedding reception songs on my iPod. Ah, well, se la vi.
January 23, 2006
I'm subbing again this week. I don't do it often, but I like to see my students again. They are a lot of fun, each with their personalities and quirks. I thank God every day for the opportunity to have taught them. Although I was never a very good teacher, they seemed to have turned out all right. I hope they grow up to be Godly men and women.
I miss them terribly though. I'm glad Covenant lets me come in and sub on occasion. I'm reminded then that teaching was NOT my calling, and that relationships are the greatest thing I took away from my time teaching. They remember my time with them with fondness (although they do enjoy pointing out where I went wrong.) I even take that good-natured ribbing just to be reminded that children and teens are wonderful in their own way.
December 01, 2005
It feels so good to finally solve an accounting problem that seemed unsolvable for the past two days. I am the man! I never realized that mathematics could be so beautiful. It's organized, structured, and there is always a correct answer. (At least in accounting.) And then you use math in accounting and it just seems so, so, well, useful. A pat on the back for me, and some good cuddlin' when the wife comes home. Huzzah!
November 21, 2005
So I just finished the Crown Financial Study at my church. It was pretty good and I especially liked studying the Bible verses that relate to money. I had no idea there were so many! Of course, I do have to say that I do not like the way the study tends to use verses hop.
I mean that they pick verses out of context and make them say one thing that they do not mean in context. Of course, there really isn't any way to know for sure what a verse means unless you know Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic (which I don't) even then there are subtleties to the language non-native speakers just can't get.
All in all, though a good study that is helpful, informative, and definitely Scripturally based. I didn't always agree with the material, but at least I was provoked into thinking. I need that sometimes (no, scratch that, a lot of the time).
If you haven't already participated, find out how you can. It is especially helpful to young people and if you are in college, they have a special study geared towards college students. If you want to be independent and debt-free most of your life, this study will give you the tools and Biblical basis for doing so.
I especially liked how many resources they have put together on there website. Check it out, even if you don't participate in the study there are a lot of helpful (and free!) tools there.
Crown Financial Ministries
November 10, 2005
I got to visit my good freinds Ruth and Jeremy Cox and their beautiful little girl Anjuli. (They told me its Hindi, although they aren't.) Anyway, she is the prettiest little girl you ever did see. Jeremy cracks me up cause he's gone all goofy over her. But then, I guess that is what Dads do. I just wish I had thought to bring a camera!
It was fun to reminisce with them about school and find out about how they are doing. After all, poor Ruth was too pregnant to come to Chris and Alison's wedding over the summer, and I hadn't seen them in a almost two years. They recently moved, although they are still in Atlanta. It's great though cause when Val and I move up to Atlanta in May or June we will only be 45 minutes away up GA 400.
It was great to see them and I can't wait to catch up with friends at the next reunion, which I believe is in St. Louis. We better be careful I hear that's a real party town. (Just kidding! :-)
November 02, 2005
A very surprising thing happened to me today. I was at Starbuck's with the intention of buying a most delicious chai latte. As often happens, the man in front of me placed his order, and then the ladies behind the counter asked what I wanted so they could work on both at once.
Then, out of nowhere, the man who ordered before me told the cashiers to put my tea on his tab?! It was confusing to say the least and I was in a little bit of shock. I thanked the man of course, and then got my tea and sat down.
However, I couldn't just let it go at that. I wanted to know why a stranger would be so generous to me for no particular reason. After all, I was well dressed, didn't seem to be in financial straights, and had brought in some books to study for my new position at CMI. So I walked up to him, introduced myself and asked him his name. He told me his (I won't put it here in order to protect his privacy, but I will say that he was an older gentleman dressed in medical scrubs with a kindly face) and I quereied him as to his reason for being generous.
He replied. "I saw you walk in with your Bible, keep reading the Word." With that, I thanked him again and left him to his snack and coffee.
I have to say I was stunned. I had brought my Bible along because I have desired for a long time to read it through from beginning to end with a particular focus on looking at verses that refer to weaponry, heroes, and chivalric behavior. A strange study I know, but one that brings my two great passions together. That of my passion for Christ and my passion for the trappings and behaviors of war. At any rate, I took this as a sign from God that my intent was a noble one, and that the gentleman was his vehicle for expressing his approval.
I stopped, prayed for the gentleman and his family, that his day might be blessed by God, that his family would be also and that his act of generosity would be greatly rewarded.
Such a small monetary act of kindness, but I was blessed by it, and I hope he will be too. I have some other things to say on the subject, but I prefer to let the event stand on its own merits, without my philosophizing about it and its theological implications. Instead I will leave you, reader with my own true thought on the matter, which is "Hmm, very interesting."
October 19, 2005
This is a story of a local couple that lead either RUF or Young life efforts in my county. I have met them although I don't know them well. However, its more the story about the adoption of their son. They have had it rough. Their daughter was stillborn not long ago, so this was the answer God provided.
I love my new job. I truly love it. Yea, I have to travel a lot, yea I feel like I'm real stupid because I don't have any background in business, and yea I have no math skills to speak of, but it is so fascinating trying to understand how money moves and flows. It truly does move like a lake in eddies and currents that criss-cross, swallow, and reform one another.
I'm looking forward to taking some of the Chalmers center classes on microenterprise, perhaps even getting certified (if I get accepted). It will be good to have a connection with Covenant again. I really do miss my time there. (Although now that my brother Chris is up there, I do have some family connection.)
I'm actually up in Atlanta now, although my boss is out of town and didn't leave me anything to do. Not that I will waste my time, because I have to study for the GRE test coming up in November. (Although I'm going to see if I can cancel it without monetary penalty becasue now I really need to take the GMAT and get my MBA rather than a degree that uses the GRE as a standard.)
There is so much to learn, and to read about. I need to get my real estate license for Georgia and am soon going to start taking some accounting classes from UGA I think.
It's all so very exciting!
If you are interested in finding out more about what I do, check out the company website. Cornerstone Ministries Investments
It is a company that uses investors in the church to raise money for building the kingdom while still allowing investors to be good stewards of their funds by providing a return that can then be used by the investor for themselves or increased giving or anything that a good steward of God's resources would do with His money.
It's like the parable of the talents and the wise slave goes out and invests his money and brings in a five fold return. This company allows you to get the five fold return, all the while knowing that churches and ministries are getting much needed funds for real estate development.
It is a one of a kind buiness that aims to build the kingdom by stewardship.
September 05, 2005
Well, it was actually quite fortunate that I was unable to join my friends in Atlanta two weekends ago. I didn't know it yet (it would eventually take two weeks, a trip to the ER and the doctor's office to find out) but I had developed an ulcer. This means that every morning for two weeks, I woke up, threw up about five or six times, and felt like I had been hit by a train. I couldn't eat or even keep water down. I became severely dehydrated and ended up in the hospital ER. The doctor gave me anti-throwing up medicine and gave me an IV to rehydrate me. Two days later, the medicine wasn't working and I was throwing up again. I finally get in to see a doctor and she tells me I am getting an ulcer.
But the lord had a plan, I have been wanting to give up teaching for some time now, and now I have medical reason to do so. (The stress of the job is what led to getting the ulcer, which I understand, is a bacterial infection.) So tomorrow I will be giving my two weeks notice to the school. I'm glad because I have come to despise teaching and here in Brevard County we have a new law that says the students must be given 90 minutes of reading instruction per day in ever grade. I was teaching 4 grades. (My fifth grade had two classes so I was teaching 5 of seven periods.) So there wouldn't be enough time in the day to fulfill the mandate.
Even better, I was offered a job over the weekend with a great company as a management trainee. (I don't want ot mention the name of the company because we are still working out the details.) It has been a dream of mine to work for this company for some time, and here it is at the most perfect time. God is good isn't he?
HE even works ulcers so that dreams can be fulfilled. Strange huh?
August 01, 2005
Well, my new job was a bit overwhelming today. But I am glad that I have it. I think I just need time and instruction in what is expected of me by my colleagues and what this international bacclaureate program (IBO) requires. And of course, this is my first time to teach public school so I am going to have to learn to deal with AIP's, IEP's and other such nonsensical acronyms. I'm just grateful that Valerie is such a help to me. After she made this delicious fish dinner tonight, I felt much better about all the work which lies ahead. I think the Lord wants to use me in a mighty way at my new school. A lot of the teachers are pessimistic about many of the returning students. Perhaps God will make it possible for me to change all that. I hope so.
Anyway, to all you teachers out there, I say woohoo! Another school year begins! PARTY!
July 11, 2005
Chris and Alison's wedding was awesome! I really cut a rug on the dance floor. I even danced (yes, danced!) swing with Val. I had fun doing it for the very first time and it came to me a lot easier and with less of the jitters I always had before.
That was all great, but the best part was getting to hang out with buddies. I see them so little now that I have moved so far away, and I was never one for emailing or writing letters. Weddings sure do make for excellent get togethers (at least, for everyone except the bride and groom!).
Most of my very best friends were there and they all had their very first chance to get to know Val. Of course, they loved her. After all, who wouldn't? But they saw just how well she fits with me. The first time they had met her was our wedding, and getting to know her was a little difficult. I'm glad to know that she was as popular with them as she is with me.
May the Lord bless Alison and Chris and I can't wait to see everyone again in August.
PS I gave up the goat and am now going to be teaching in a charter school here in Florida. Ah well, God must have something big in store for me in the realm of education. May He bless the next school year more than he did the last.
June 02, 2005
So I quit my teaching job and have been looking for work ever since. There sure are a lot of scams out there when you are looking for employment. (By the way, stay away from Cornerstone America, they make you pay to work for them, essentially.) I don't really have the background it takes to make a career change. At least, not if you want to stay in the area you currently live in. I might just have to go back to my teaching career.
I don't want to, I feel that I was not being the best teacher I could and that I had lost that calling. Or rather, that I have a new calling. A calling that leads to a salaried position, not dependent on comissions that allows me to stay in Melbourne, FL. I love this town and my church and do not want to move away just as I am getting settled in. I want to go back to school and get an MBA so that I can make better money, and I want a job that won't so eat up my time as to prevent that.
Anybody have any ideas?
April 21, 2005
I like it.
I wish I had more optimistic people in my life. They are just the best. I am determined to join their ranks and let few things get me down.
After all, I have a beautiful wife, a good job with a new job offer on the horizon, great parents who want to help pay for my graduate school, positive thinking colleagues, a good relationship with my in-laws and so on and so forth. (I could go on but I don't want to bore you.)
God has blessed me immensely. I have no reason to bicker or whine.
Optimism comes naturally to some, and I think that's great. To others, like myself, it isn't so easy. However, that doesn't mean that I can't be positive and optimistic. Just like love is a choice and not an emotion, I think optimism is something greater than what we feel "in the moment."
I choose to be positive, to give out praise and build up those around me. I want to be one of those people of whom people say, "I want him around because he makes me feel so good." So in effect, I would create the group of positive people that I want to surround myself with. Yea, I like that idea.
Let's see if my theory pans out.
April 19, 2005
My mom's been ragging me about writing wedding thank you notes ( I've already written a lot, roughly 50/200.) Every phone call, every email mentions them. I nearly sent this letter, but regretted it instantly after writing it. My mother deserves more respect than this. But I have to let my frustration out, so I publish it here.
Mom, I love you.
Tell people that I am applying to graduate school, studying for my GRE, trying to find a new job, very active in my church, teaching elementary schoolchildren, adjusting to married life, and writing thank you notes like mad.
No one on Valerie's side of things is complaining about getting thank you notes, so why are people on your side?
I'm stressed out enough as it is. I know that this needs to be done, but I'm at the end of the school year, I have nearly two hundred notes to write and I just haven't gotten to everybody yet.
It's not your fault and I'm sorry you have to field these questions but there must be something wrong with them if people cannot wait a few months. ( I know its been 4) Thank you for reminding me, but a few reminders was okay, but now I'm just annoyed with being reminded every time I talk to you on the phone or by email.
I am an adult, I know my responsibilities and I am able to prioritize. Thank you notes are low priority behind getting a job and starting school.
I'm glad your trip went well.
April 12, 2005
I feign that devils can, in a spiritual sense, eat one another; and us. Even in human life we have seen the passion to dominate, almost to digest, one's fellow; to make his whole intellectual and emotional life merely an extension of one's own - to hate one's hatreds and resent one's grievances and indulge one's egoism through him as well as through oneself. His own little store of passion must of course be suppressed to make room for ours. If he resists the suppression he is being very selfish.
On Earth this desire is often called "love."
In the Preface to the 1961 edition of The Screwtape Letters
Too true. Carnality and selfishness is so often called "love" whereas true love serves and sacrifices without the need to dominate. I find that in my marriage I have not truly loved but have desired an extension of myself. But if I were to get my wish, I would cease to love her in any real way. So I pray daily that I may love my wife as Christ loves me, for fear of losing the most precious gift (besides salvation) I have ever been given.
March 24, 2005
I asked a student yesterday, "Why don't kids have much imagination these days?"
I found his answer perceptive. (In fact, I was floored.)
"We have everything we need," he said.
Truly, kids (I refer to middle class, poor kids have different problems) have everything they need. They don't need to imagine a stick is a gun when mom and dad can buy a plastic one that looks like the real thing. They don't need to go outside and play cops and robbers, when they can play a simulation on the latest gaming console or their computer. They don't need to imagine faraway places, when they can find pictures of such on the internet. Even space is less of a mystery than it was twenty years ago.
Imagination derives from not having. A stick is not a gun, anymore than my fingers are, but they serve. I may not be able to shoot bullets from my stick, but I know when I shot you and so do you. We were imagining.
Kids aren't entirely without imagination, but I fear it is becoming a lost art. As kids have things presented to them, rather than having to create out of their minds, ingenuity is destroyed. The great writings, works of art, and inventions came from imaginitive minds. And these great minds often came from backgrounds where to have also meant to create.
Foster the imagination, read to yourself, your children, and other's children.
Keep imagination alive.
February 16, 2005
Read the first two pages (written tonight) and completely unedited of my fantasy story staring Jay the thief (name to be changed later) and Veln, a mysterious gray bearded gnome.
Any thoughts? (Besides the obvious one that it needs editing)
Jay walked down the corridor. Looking neither right not left, he kept his eyes fixed upon his goal. The door loomed large before him. He knew he could pick this lock. Just because no one had done it before did not mean it couldn’t be done. So intent was Jay that he almost didn’t notice the crunching beneath his feet. Casting a quick glance dwon, Jay saw that what he had stumbled upon was bones. Human, elf, orc all of the myriad races were there. Jay guessed them to be the remains of those who had attempted to pick the lock before him. Moving forward with more caution, wary of traps he came to the foot of the door.
“Yup, looks tough, that one does.”
Jay looked at his companion. The gray bearded gnome at his side matched Jay’s gaze.
“Are you sure you can pick the lock?”
“Of course I can, am I not the greatest thief this side of the Western Sea?” replied Jay in his haughty tone.
The gnome, whose name was Veln, looked down. “Just checking, wouldn’t want to join those at our feet now would I?”
Jay had met Veln just a few days before in the town of Falling Rock. Jay was there to ply his trade at the annual fair, when he decided to pick the pocket of an old, but rich looking, gnome. Sliding up close, Jay reached for the gnome’s purse, but before his hand got anywhere near it, the gnome turned and grabbed it. Jay had tried to run, but found himself rooted to the spot.
“Well, well what have we here?” the powerful gnome had said, “a young thief is it?”
Jay had tried to wriggle free, but found that the gnome, for all his diminutive size, was far stronger than he. So Jay turned to the routine he always used when caught.
“Please sire, I was hungry, and my mama said that I must get my own food, as she had none for me.” Jay said in his most childlike voice. “I have no money for bread and no one would give me any when I begged so I thought it would be okay to borrow a little bit, just this once.”
“Ha! Is that the best story you can come up with you little urchin? I’ve heard better. No, your not hungry, and theis isn’t the first time you’ve stolen. I can tell that just be looking at ya. You are a thief, come to market to steal a few coin, but you’ll not have mine. However, would you like to earn a few coin?”
Earning wages didn’t sound very appealing to Jay, but since he was still at the mercy of this strange gnome, he thought he better play along.
“What might I have to do?” said Jay tentatively.
“Only pick a lock”
“Yes, a lock, you do know what a lock is, don’t you.” The gnome replied sarcastically.
Jay spoke harshly. “Of course I do, in fact, I’m the best lock picker this side of the Western sea.”
“Oh you are, are you?”
“Yes I am.”
“Well then lets see you prove your mettle.”
Jay felt himself being dragged through the crowded marketplace, stil held tightly in the gnome’s strong grip. Colors flashed by, but Jay couldn’t really make out any details, they were moving so quickly. Soon they came to a low doorway in an alley in a part of the city unfamiliar to Jay. The gnome opened the door with a key. Still holding Jay the gnome slipped inside. It was not until they were inside that the gnome let go of Jay’s hand.
The gnome spoke, “Well, welcome to my home young urchin. My name is Veln, what’s yours?”
“Jay huh. Well, Jay, as I told you before I have need of your services as a thief. There is a door, a very ancient door, that has been locked for centuries, and I must open it. Do you think you can do it?”
“Why hasn’t it been opened before?” asked Jay.
“Oh, its been tried, but no one has ever been successful.” Said Veln.
“Because every one who has tried has died instantly upon touching the lock.”
“And you think I can open it?”
“No, but I’m willing to take the risk.”
“You mean the risk of my life.”
“And mine. You see, every one who went with the adventurers who died, also died.”
“You said you must open it. Why?”
“You don’t need to know that, you only need to perform the job you’ll be hired for.”
“ and exactly how much will I receive if I take your offer?”
“A hundred gold coins, and a 10 percent share of the plunder.”
A hundred gold coins was more than Jay could steal in a year, in two years. The offer was tempting, but Jay was still unsure about the prospect of death.
“What makes you think that we will succeed where others have failed?”
“I have a guide. I stumbled across and ancient set of instructions in an old tome I was reading, and it tells exactly what to do. All you would have to do is pick the lock after I removed the wards from the door.”
A hundred gold coins. No way Jay was going to turn down such an easy task. Ans so a deal was struck and Jay and Veln became partners.
Which was how Jay found himself underground, in the dark, with bones crunching beneath his feet.
February 08, 2005
Today is a new day. A fresh start. A chance to try again. What Valerie and I needed most was to pray. To climb in to bed, hold each other tight, and go before the Lord and Maker of all. I, at least, felt better and I think she did too. I will still strive to be the perfect husband, but I know that God is with me also. And with her.
I took my role as spirtual leader seriously last night and encouraged her to just pray. For me, for herself, for no reason at all, to just go before God and admit that change won't happen just because we want it to. It will happen because God wills it so. I couldn't just point out how I was hurt without pointing her to God. God is everything, and we are nothing without him.
May God have mercy on our souls.
February 07, 2005
Having been married for less than two months, I consider myself something of an expert on the topic of marriage. Actually, I don't really. It seems I can't go more than day without offending my bride. Okay, I knew what I was getting into, I knew that I had to die to self, much like I had to do when I bowed down to Jesus, but man is it ever hard.
No matter how hard I try, no matter what I do, something in my behavior, attitude, actions or even tone of voice offends her. Is it just a reaction to being thrown into close proximity, or something greater? Now, in the realm of the immediate, I am often able to please her. Doing the dishes, vacuuming the floors, making the bed are all works of service that please her for a while. Telling her how beautiful, smart and capable she is are words of encouragement that gain me respite for an hour or two. But always, I say or do something that displeases her.
She tells me she isn't mad at me, but I know that's a lie. She goes cold toward me, refuses compliments or attempts to make her laugh, and makes me fear. My fear is irrational, I don't know what it is that I fear. Yet I do. Maybe I fear rejection as has happened so often in the past. No, that's not it. She won't give me up, at least not yet. I think I fear failing her. That seems more plausible. I don't want to fail her, I pray that I won't fail to fulfill her needs.
I know, and have been told many times, that I am not able to change her, only myself. So I have tried to give more, be more, hold my tongue more often. I pick my times, and my battles. I let go of the small things, but I can't allow the larger issues. When I tell her how something she does makes me feel, she says all the right words. Yet I don't see any change, at least I don't think I do. I know that she has already sacrificed a lot for me. A lot.
For example, making dinner. She hasn't even gotten down a schedule whereby she manages to make dinner for us every night. (We agreed that would be her responsibility.) Yet she wants to invite all these people over, and still manage to do perfectly at her job (teaching, which is never finished), going running every afternoon, and fulfilling all her other spousal duties. She wants to do everything, and expects me to make that possible. I can't and so I think I've failed her, failed her miserably. Then I am miserable, say things I don't mean or say them in the wrong way and she turns the cold shoulder. And then I'm even more miserable.
I don't know what to do. I love her, with all my heart. I'm on my knees praying for her and us every day, and still she sets these lofty goals that she doesn't really work toward fulfilling.
Maybe I'm being to harsh. She had the goal of cooking more for us, and she has done that. She has given up eating out all the time and going to the movies to save money for our debts. She never tells me no in the bedroom and supports me always in public. She takes care of herself, and often leaves me nice cards in random places. I love her so much. And she does love me, she just gets offended so easily. I can't walk on eggshells all the time, but maybe I should try. After all, Jesus called us to perfection even though he knew we could never be perfect apart from God. If I just strive to be the perfect husband, she will be motivated to be the perfect wife.
God help us both.
January 29, 2005
how there are so many words in the English language
and I try to go through them,
grasping for the right ones that will say
exactly what I feel in my heart and my soul.
But after all the searching,
and the grasping for the wind,
that say more than all the other words combined
could ever say.
I love you, I love you, I love you
And I find that is enough.
January 27, 2005
January 28, 2005
I was thinking about last night.
And I was thinking that I shut you out.
You were trying to talk to me.
I wouldn't listen.
You had so many stories to tell.
I wanted to watch TV.
You wanted to share a room with me.
I wanted to be alone.
You wanted a kiss goodnight.
I wanted to curl up in the covers.
I didn't give you a second thought.
Your needs were nothing to mine.
I shut you out, left you alone,
and I paid the price.
My dreams were my worst nightmare.
I was alone.
I was adrift without you.
May God have mercy on my soul.
And forgive my transgressions against you.
I am sorry, my true love.
For you are more to me,
than life itself.
Be mine again, my true love.
I will partner with you.
Be your companion once again.
If you but forgive me.