Monday, December 29, 2008
...sweet remorse sets in because of all the overindulgences of the great November/December sugarfest. I sat here struggling with the woes of my computer (which sounds like more exercise than it is)consoling myself with an occasional teaspoon full of vanilla coconut spoon fudge, and finally decided it was time to face the inevitable. So I waddled up to the little gym on the square and slogged away for an hour--one round with the exercising machine dragons and nine chapters on the treadmill. For me, that's the only way to do it. Set the machine and start reading a good book. I don't know how long I walked past the end of the program and into the cool down cycle...Hey, it was an interesting book, although a little too eerie for my taste. What I really needed was a cheery, English countryside mystery a la Chesterton or Sayers or Christie. Dekker is a great author, but I prefer books that don't keep me looking over my shoulder. If things are happening to people far removed in social station or locale it doesn't seem as threatening, but this author uses names of towns I've been to, and his people are just ordinary citizens of the earth, people who eat too much candy at Christmas and go exercise to pay the price.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
It all started when I asked for an external hard drive for Christmas. (Yes, I'm a little weird that way). Well, the computer was just too full to function well, and, even though it is getting old, by computer standards--one year equals twenty, I thought if I just gave it some more room to grow, it would serve me faithfully for a few more years.
So I hooked up the mass storage device. In doing so, I had to plug the printer into the front usb port, because there are only two in back (That should tell you). I had the good sense to transfer all the documents over to the new drive. Then I had another idea--transfer all the program files and reboot the computer. Then I could pull all the program files back and Voila---more room without all the junk. Well.
I didn't lose the documents.
I lost everything else.
All my windows updates.
My e-mail letters and addresses.
Every software program.
Reinstalling is a major pain. I've been setting at the computer for two days and still don't have much to show for it. My printer doesn't work yet. THERE ARE TWO MILLION LINKS TO DOWNLOAD UPDATES AND FREE DRIVERS AND THEY ALL LEAD TO SOFTWARE THAT DOES NOTHING BUT SELL ITS DIAGNOSTIC SELF.
Why can't I leave well enough alone?
Thursday, December 25, 2008
King of Heaven.
Came to Earth
To restore our hearts to Heaven.
Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly-minded,
for with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
our full homage to demand.
2. King of kings, yet born of Mary,
as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
in the body and the blood;
he will give to all the faithful
his own self for heavenly food.
3. Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its vanguard on the way,
as the Light of light descendeth
from the realms of endless day,
that the powers of hell may vanish
as the darkness clears away.
4. At his feet the six-winged seraph,
cherubim, with sleepless eye,
veil their faces to the presence,
as with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Lord Most High!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Are you one of those kinds of people who buy the jello cheesecake instant mixes and add your own cherry pie topping but use the already made graham cracker crusts that have the neat little turn over and crimp tops and then wonder what to do with the sacks of pulverized graham crackers that come with the box of cheese cake mix? If you are not, then stop reading this. Now. (because that means you probably make your own "from scratch" cheese cakes which take skill, patience, and hours of work and taste heavenly). So go read the news or something; you can read this blog another day when you can relate better.
I should just have my type of cook reading this blog now. Let's see. Where were we?
Ah yes. The left over little bags of crumbs (which, by the way are terribly hard to shape into a perfectly shaped pie crust the way the back of the box says...hence the already made crusts). I cannot bear to throw those sacks away, so usually they languish in the top drawer of my pantry hoping for an inspiration...sometimes I remember to throw them out after a few months. Today, I ventured upon a new plan: make something with them while they are fresh!
So I made them into cookies. I took two sacks of crumbs, added a half stick of soft butter, a cup of sugar and a 1/2 cup of cream. Then I finished off the vanilla and sprinkled them with cinnamon. To about half the batch, I added the rest of the coconut (from last night's venture into fudgery).
This should give me two kinds of cookies. They are in the oven right now...baking at 375 for I'm not sure how many minutes. I'll keep checking them and let you know how they turn out. Should be interesting.
Ok. This is what I found out so far. Twelve minutes is too long. Try ten. They are golden brown with a great tan on top of that. The good news is...they taste great...at least the coconut ones do. The others are flat and very mushy looking. I haven't had the heart to try them yet. I'm letting them cool and seeing if they harden.
I turned down the oven to 300 and threw in the rest of the dough--coconut included--but this time I didn't form them into balls first--why, when they all run together like that. I plan to cut this one into strips and call it "bars". I set the timer for ten minutes and I'll let you know sometime later how they turn out. Ah, cooking is such an adventure for the fearless.
The graham cracker crumb coconut bars were great--It took 20 minutes at 300 degrees. The hopeless looking little piles of cookie goo that didn't have coconut in them look the worst...but taste so good I had to hide them from myself. (That wouldn't work if my memory weren't failing). They would be like ambrosia if you ate them while drinking a glass of cold milk.
Next time I'll do the same thing, but cut back on the butter. They seemed too greasy. I'm thinking only 1/4 stick or maybe none at all. The heavy whipping cream probably has enough oil in it. That's my guess.
Well I went on a fudge cooking marathon last night to fill some little tubs and distribute them among the church people who are still home and haven't run off to visit grandchildren. If any of you know me, you realized long ago that I'm not a very good cook...but I try with intrepidity:
So the conclusion of the matter is this: I have three kinds of fudge in the tubs: thin, soft, chocolate pecan slabs, little balls of vanilla, coconut "spoon" fudge (It didn't set up...but it's still the best tasting of the lot); and tall, stiff--very stiff cut it with a jack hammer if you dare--chocolate, peanut butter, pecan, whole bunch of marshmallows, marble fudge. There!
Who says I can't cook.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Sara arrived a little late for school this fall, visas and such taking forever, but she has settled into dorm life on weeknights. On weekends she shares her life with another family and with us. This month it's our turn for Sara.
"We're going to Texas for Christmas Day," I told her last night.
"Oh, Cool!" she replied in perfect Oklahoma teen slang."
Anyway, she wanted her family--back in tropical Indonesia--to hear her sing, and I was anxious for them to see how lovely her voice sounded in the stillness of the gym, so I took my trusty little video camera to record the event.
I know, the picture is dark; you can't see her face....etc. etc. but I was having to lean over into the crowd between sending the shepherds and prompting the wise men to begin their wending way to follow a star.
Here are the Lyrics to the song: "Breath of Heaven", sometimes called Mary's Song, by Chris Eaton and Amy Grant. I only recorded the first verse and chorus, because I was afraid to make the video too long for e-mail.
I have traveled
Many moonless night
Cold and Weary
With a babe inside
And I wonder
What I've done
You have come and
Chosen me now
To carry your son
I am waiting
in a silent prayer
I am frightened
by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone
Be with me now
Be with me now
Breath of Heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me, your holiness
For you are holy,
Breath of Heaven
Do you wonder
As you watch my face
If a wiser one, should have had my place
But I offer-all I am
For the mercy-of your plan
Help me be strong
Friday, December 19, 2008
So, after a few dead ends on the picture folders--cul de sacs where there were not six folders, and picture folders called stuff and such, I finally located a picture folder that had six folders in it. I grabbed the sixth picture from that folder and voila.
This is a picture taken in Panama a few years ago on Elijah's mission trip. The older man is a Kuna native who operates a taxi service (the pickup behind him).
The young kid acting weird--um--cool-- is an American teenager .
So whom do I tag. I know. I'll tag you lurkers. This is a great chance for you to break into some really serious blogging with an assignment anyone can do. Go to your picture folder (It's called "my pictures" on most people's computers) and pick the sixth folder. Open it. Post the sixth picture from that folder and explain why in the world that picture is on your computer. Have fun.
P.S. a lurker is someone who reads blogs but never comments.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Blame the Math Teacher.
He started it all by jotting down a math carol on the board for his dedicated Algebra I students. It went like this:
Math is fun. We like to do it.
It brings joy when we get through it.
All our homework, it is fun.
We are sad when it is done.
So I had to write one on the other side of the board before my Christian Studies IV students got into the room.
(To the tune of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.")
It's time for some philosophy; it's time for ethics class
We're filling out our study sheets; and oh, we hope we pass
An anarchist, a hedonist, and an iconoclast,
Oh where is our comfort and joy; comfort and joy;
Oh where is our comfort and joy.
Then the sophomores came in, and well, you know how it goes.
Everybody wants their carol.
(To the tune of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland")
Sophomores sing, loud and giggly,
and their notes, they are squiggly,
They can't study today
So tomorrow they'll pray
Walking in Semester Testing Land
We have a verse. Who's going to say it?
There'll be a prayer. Who's going to pray it?
I think that it's time
to stop all this rhyme.
Walking in a Semester Wonderland.
Then the seventh and eighth grade boys requested Jingle Bells.
Junior high boys' Bible class
Keeps me on my toes
Trying to find a question that
not anybody knows--oh!
Junior high boys' Bible class
What a noisy bunch.
Always have their hands held high
until it's time for lunch.
And the Juniors...who were dreadfully sleepy today; I hope they are not all coming down with mononucleosis or African trypanosomiasis, although the chances of that are slim in this icy weather.
Have yourselves a merry little nap time
Rest there on your desks
Just pretend I'm not up here reviewing tests.
And have yourselves a nap time of the very best.
(Well, we did accomplish something. We voted to bring a Dr. Pepper the day of the test...just so they can stay awake through that. ) Yawn. I think maybe I'll bring one too.
And finally...my tiny little girls class at the end of the day. They usually make good grades on everything, and they are intense when it comes to study time...so I had to wait until I got home to write one for them. Maybe they will log on and read it.
Once again--(To the tune of Jingle Bells)
We'll study til we drop....and even then won't stop
We'll learn these names and then...we'll learn them all again.
And when we see the test
We'll do our very best
As long as you don't deviate and ask about the rest.
Oh study sheets, study sheets,
All you need to know.
Never mind the textbooks
Let's throw them in the snow-oh!
If she wickedly throws in a lot of other stuff
We'll gleefully point this out to her
And so we'll call her bluff!
(Oops. Junior high students: if you are reading this, remember that section on the study guide that says simply: Know everything about Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and Moses. That's formidable. Oh, and bring your timelines to class. I'll let you use them for part of the test.)
Your Loving Teacher,
The Silly Rhymer Strikes Again
Well. The games were canceled due to the icy roads. Not that I really minded. We do have semester tests beginning tomorrow and the last thing the students and teachers needed was to start the whole thing off with a four hour basketball gamefest and a five hour concession stand marathon. There is a little problem, however, with what to do with the 90 hamburger buns I bought last evening in anticipation of this large-scale-money-making fund raiser for my juniors who will be seniors next year and throw away all this hard earned cash on a self-indulgent senior trip they will never forget.
Maybe we can sell them to the cafeteria--along with the chips, lettuce, and tomatoes. (the burgers, that is, not the juniors)
Everything else we'll sell to the seniors. After all, it is their turn to do concessions after the break. I'm going to celebrate by staying away from games and grading papers...or blogging...or paying bills...or washing clothes...or just padding around the house in my jammies and crocs. I'm sure it will be terribly hard on me, but I'll manage somehow.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
...because it happens every year about this time.
No, we don't collect penguins, or snowflakes or even angels or shepherds or sheep, but at some point in our history as a family (maybe it was the year Dairy Queen gave beany bag reindeer with kids meals) we started collecting four-footed, prancing, pawing, caribou. Of course, personalities being the way they are, my husband, Turtle, contracted an obsession for them. So, every year the red, plastic vat in the attic comes bumping and thumping its way down dusty stairs and my living room is infested with silly, sleigh-pullers. . . and every year, another one pokes its silly little snout out from between the others. It's a tradition I tolerate, at best. The latest one is particularly goofy looking. (He's the last one in the video)
Oh well, at least I don't have a fat, jolly, white-bearded man in a red suit booming loudly in the darkness behind them. Oh wait...I do. Now maybe that's why he...hmmm.
Our Sunday Scribblings Prompt was "I Knew Instantly"
Monday, December 8, 2008
Thanks, Dad and Mom, for making this a family tradition.
It has lasted over forty years.
Friday, December 5, 2008
(I actually found this entry from earlier, and I'm posting it again. There's a recipe at the end for all of you adventurous souls with a sweet tooth.)
The school where I teach is located about fifteen miles away, in a tiny community. Every morning, five students and I get to drive there together, and talk about our day while driving into the sunrise. This morning we discovered that three of my commuters had NEVER tasted schnetka. Amazing. How could someone live in this community and not have tasted this little breakfast dainty? After that, nothing would suffice but that I be talked into stopping and buying some. When I pulled up to the door of the small cafe on main street--the only main street--the only cafe-- the first thing I noticed was a sign which said: "Sorry, we are closed." While I searched all the neatly printed little homemade signs for one which told me when they were open, the door opened and two of the local farmers asked what I needed. When I asked for a list of hours, one of them said,
"Come on in."
"Oh, are you open?"
"Well, we are only semi-open. If you want coffee and schnetka, we are open enough for that."
"Actually, I wanted six schnetka for my students."
"Well come on in and help yourself. They are over there on the bar."
I helped myself, finding a carry-out box, loading the pastry treats into it, and depositing my cash into a bucket on the table. The two men told me that they come drink coffee here every morning. Other residents do too. This keeps the cafe semi-open. Well, that's good to know. I think I'll make Thursdays "Schnetka days".
Small towns...I love them. And I love schnetka too. Who wouldn't?
Schnetka Recipe--This is a cinnamon, sugary, creamy, pie crusted, delicious pastry. It's best served warm along with a nice cup of tea or coffee.
4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup Crisco
1cup water (as needed to make dough)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 cup cream
Mix together flour, 1 cup sugar, 1tsp salt, Crisco, and water and roll out on flat surface to make a 20 by 22 inch rectangle.
Spread with butter, sprinkle with 1 cup of sugar mixed with 2 T cinnamon. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of brown sugar over the top.
Cut into 4 by 4 and 1/2 inch squares and roll each square.
Spray an 11 by 15 inch pan heavily with baking spray or grease it well.
Place schnetka on pan leaving small space between them. ( A jelly roll pan works great)
Mix together 1 cup of cream, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla. Pour this mixture over the top of schnetka.
Sprinkle with more sugar.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes (depending on type of pan)
Remove the schnetka from the pan immediately, turning them out on a plate or tray. Here's roughly what they look like. Sorry you can't taste them.
An older spelling is schnitke, or schnetke.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
The coldest winters I ever spent were in Gunnison, Colorado.
True...true... with the sun shining brightly, and hardly any wind, it didn't always look cold. But it was.
I remember crossing the Gunnison River on the way to school. Some days it was generating steam like a nuclear power plant...chunks of ice floating throughout. The steering wheel under my gloved hands was so cold it made my bones hurt, and the seat beneath me was firm, like a bench of stone. Even though the engine had been plugged in all night, the car was slow to shift gears--fluids were like refrigerated honey, I guess.
My daughter had learned the hard way not to wash her hair in the morning. One morning it froze on the way out to the school bus. Not realizing that, she reached up and grabbed it, only to feel a chunk of hair break off into her hand.
We wore long underwear beneath our clothes...all winter long, even under the long dresses that we wore to church, where we sat on heated pews. Nobody stayed home because of the weather. I remember one Sunday when the temperature was thirty six degrees below zero. We were all there. Just another Gunnison cold day.
With winter came white streets. They stayed white until April, and those who cleared the snow had to pile it high in a snow yard, because it would never melt, not until May or June even. There was lots of sledding and ice skating and snowboarding in the cold, cold sunshine, but if you held your coffee cup in your hand too long, you would see it ice over on top.
In the basement, frost began creeping up all the outside walls, making us realize why water lines needed to be buried deeper than ten feet.
Summer was slow to arrive and always seemed like an uncomfortable visitor, cringing under occasional snow flurries that were dashed in her face. Dahlias bloomed with a crisp intensity, bold and beautiful, throwing all the energy they possessed into the few short weeks they were outside...so did all the other flowers. There was no spring...just less wintery winter. . .fall was golden aspen leaves sprinkled liberally with snow dust...short and powerless to stop the coming cold white world of winter.
So how did we survive four years there? Well, inside was reasonably warm...standing around the fire...and the people were warm...no winter in those friendships. It makes all the difference.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
dividing the darkness
with his light sword
Then a weary man walking, and
a donkey bearing a wife worrying,
holding gently her mortal baby boy
The very one who once lit stars
and commanded angels to sing.
Now he nods quietly in the darkness
as the angel leads them on
away from a sobbing Bethlehem
The picture is from Kevin Ryan's website.
Advent began with Wonderful Counselor, and one of the children dressed as a prophet to light the candle while the scripture was being read, so I talked the other two into dressing up in their Christmas program outfits so I could take their picture.
I love this time of the year--re-enactments and rememberings. We made clothespin dolls and dressed them with scraps of vividly colored felt--oddly enough--a Joseph, a Mary, and an angel, complete with a star-twined halo.
Friday, November 28, 2008
They are sleeping.
All over the house.
Beds are full...and so are all the couches.
I'm sitting quietly in the dark...in the den...typing as softly as I can.
Schnetka are in the oven...on warm...bubbling quietly.
I went to bed before ten...after calling my parents to make sure they made it safely home.
It's a thing with me.
I don't know how late they all stayed up, but I remember hearing the saxophone playing before I turned on the overhead fan/ambient noise and faded away.
Well, in my defense, I had been up since five, so I could put the turkey and ham into the oven hours before I needed to and make sure they almost burned. Fortunately, the only thing that burned was the pan of honey glazed carrots and, as I said at the time, if you are going to burn anything on Thanksgiving Day, it might as well be carrots.
Almost all the family was here--we were just missing seven--those North Carolina people and the Chicago five. So the twenty one of us played games and took pictures and just enjoyed the time together...not to mention all the pies and cheesecakes and chocolate and snickerdoodles.
It was lovely--the weather crisp and cool, the leaves crunchy.
Thanks, God, for such a peaceful time in our small pocket of the world.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
We have a banquet every year to promote the school and raise funds. It's great food, and a good speaker, and I usually host a table, but this year I kept the nursery--not just little babies, mind you, but toddlers and elementary aged children as well. There were supposed to be eleven youngsters, but we ended up with seven--six little boys and a girl. They came in like a freight train, and proceeded to derail--toppling all the nursery toys with them. All the quiet tracing and coloring activities I had planned to do had to wait for a lull in the energy level. Fortunately, I had a group of student helper/volunteers...one helper per child, if you count Turtle and me. It was great!
They ate pizza; (we got plates from the banquet room). They ignored the chocolate chip cookies and got excited about coloring a long mural with markers and pasting fall leaves all over a hastily drawn tree. We had to watch them every second, however. These two little angels in the first video were occupied with dishes and setting the table (man style). I turned my back on them to get something and they decided to make the slide more exciting by "jacking" it up on blocks. One of the students called me and I was in time to stop them from launching themselves over their newly elevated creation, but they were on the ladder already...who knows what would have ensued...and then again, they acted like they had done this before. Kids.
Friday, November 21, 2008
In times like these...stock market going wild, people scurrying around with question marks on their faces...well you can't be serious every minute, or your body will explode with ulcers. I stumbled upon this site once where a retired lawyer invites people to write limericks and haiku. Today her topic was : Dentists, so I slogged out a verse reminding me of a particular dental disaster I endured about three years ago, when a dentist pulled out a tooth without ex-raying first and ended up fracturing my jaw and creating a hole through to my sinus cavity. Needless to say, I switched dentists, but on cold days my face still hurts from the trauma. Anyway, what do you do? Laugh about it. Here is my limerick... and the haiku.
At first I considered my cavity
A disaster of no special gravity
But the dentist—Forsooth--
Wrenched out the whole tooth.
In an instant of mental depravity
“Million dollar smile!”
“Puts money where your mouth is”
Friday, November 14, 2008
fading into the sidewalk as their glances shoot through you to a friend they see behind.
No hurried "however are ya's",
No "hey, I was just thinkin' about ya's"
Not even the veriest, teeniest, little blink of a nod
that says "I know who you be, just can't talk now."
Only the cursory glance from the civil,
The uncaring, scowl from the rude,
And the blind stare of those who hate by apathy.
But overhead the same bright sun on the leaves, and you know by night you'll recognize the same glorious moon.
God is no stranger.
For Sunday Scribblings.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
When it is difficult to tell what an author believes, one way to determine that is to consider the people he or she recommends in the book. I followed several of the links. They speak for themselves. If you want to see what I'm talking about, go check this one out:
Understand, I am not attacking everything that is good with emergents; I believe that many of them do love God. What I am trying to do here is offer some explanation for my resistance to joining and supporting this movement wholesale.
Recently, I've discovered a lot of people who share my feelings about this. Here are three sites I found helpful.
One of the best books I've found on this subject is a book by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck called "Why We're Not Emergent (By two guys who should be)". If you are going to read Emergent books, you owe it to yourself to read this one. I'm amazed at how many times these two authors wrote something that addressed my very concerns. It seems not all younger people are being naively swept away by this precursor to a worldwide religion--one predicted, oddly enough, in Revelation and given as a sign for the last days: One world economic system, one world government, one world religion. No wonder it makes me nervous. It should make you nervous too.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
I persuaded her to take a lot of pictures in case he does. The fellow art student who posed for this one really likes that she put him in chain mail, which looks "really cool" and he appreciates lions and includes them in much of his art, so the neck-medallion is a nod to that. Right now, the clay is wet, so the white texture lines stand out. Eventually, they won't. The drying has to happen at just the right intervals--inside and outside taking turns, so, it has to be wrapped in plastic, then paper for several turns until it is dry enough to fire. It could take a long time.
*Well, that's what I call her online.
Friday, October 31, 2008
All this leads to an acceptance of our own unrighteousness, a tolerance of sin in our lives, a constant listening to that "little lawyer" who argues: "I'm not so bad. Why change, if God loves me just the way I am?"
At the base of all true Christian experience must lie a sound and sane morality. No joys are valid, no delights legitimate where sin is allowed to live in life or conduct. No transgression of pure righteousness dare excuse itself on the ground of superior religious experience. To seek high emotional states while living in sin is to throw our whole life open to self deception and the judgment of God. "Be ye holy" is not a mere motto to be framed and hung on the wall. It is a serious commandment from the Lord of the whole earth.
The camera is rolling!
After many hours of practice...
The senior play is today...well the matinee is today!
And while it is just a silly, little comedy about pirates, there is something rewarding about watching students excel. They are amazing--each one holding up lines, each relying on another, and knowing that another is relying on them: If the lights don't go out at the crucial spot, there will be a moment of embarassment for Captain Belvedere, who will walk the plank onto the carpet instead of into the Caribbean; if the cannon doesn't arrive at the right moment...evil Captain Long John will run out of threats and his captors will be frozen on stage; if Roger Goodman forgets the "parrot" line, it will in a small way detract from Belinda's observation that parrots are soooo piratey. Learning to trust and rely on each other, to appreciate the unique gifts of each other--whether they be a gift for accents, a strong, clear, voice, or the ability to give a clever little smirk at the exact right time--these are benefits of class plays. It is worth all the hours I have spent and the days the English teacher has spent putting it all together.
Tomorrow we have several activities planned--In the morning there are all-state tryouts for vocal students, a parade for the band, and junior supper preparation. (for some junior moms and for me; I'll learn how to marinate and grill pork chops, I think) We will start serving the junior supper at five. The senior play starts at 7:30. Make-up! Lights! Pirates!
Sometimes it good to get away from the seriousness of life in these turbulent times...(although if it were real piracy we were talking about...well we won't think about that now will we?)
Thursday, October 30, 2008
It has been a month since the accident.
Joshua came back first--after a week of absence. He was pale and quiet, but seemed relieved to be around his friends.
Aaron came back a couple of weeks ago, and has been getting around well on his crutches; the smile is back too--although a little hindered by the fact that his jaw is still wired shut.
Today Paul came back to school, in a wheel chair, with an older brother in tow to help him adjust to classes again. He has had the most difficult time, because, while he was in the hospital, another older brother was killed in a car wreck. In fact, he attended the memorial service upon leaving the hospital himself. If you read this, stop and pray for him. It's a heavy load for a kid to carry.
We are still missing our fellow teacher,Patty, but we know that she is progressing well, and the prognosis for her walking again--on her own legs-- is good. In rehab, she is learning to get into a wheelchair, eating normally--all the tubes are out--and catching up with life.
I heard that she was worried that the carmel syrup in the teacher's workroom would run out and I wouldn't have anything to put in my coffee because she knows I don't like the rasberry flavor--just made me want to go hug her.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
This long quote is from page 026 of Velvet Elvis:
What is tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archaeologists find Larry's tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births?
But what if as you study the origin of the word virgin, you discover that the word virgin in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word virgin could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being "born of a virgin" also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse?
What if that spring was seriously questioned?
Could a person keep jumping? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live? Or does the whole thing fall apart?
I affirm the historic Christian faith, which includes the virgin birth and the Trinity and the inspiration of the Bible and much more. I'm a part of it and I want to pass it on to the next generation. I believe that God created everything and that Jesus is Lord and that God has plans to restore everything.
First of all, let me say that this is a strange kind of way to affirm anything. First you attack with a superficial, silly argument, then you say ...but what if...as if this time you are presenting a valid argument. Then you make assertions and half-truths about what the scripture means, presenting an oft-quoted argument against the "virgin birth." ...and saying, in effect, so if it was all a lie and God didn't send his Son to earth to redeem mankind, but Jesus was just a man who lied about knowing God so your hope of eternal life is really just wistful thinking, could you still believe? You don't have much faith if you don't."
It's like saying this:
What if tomorrow the doctor came to you with the result of your family's DNA tests and told you that your three children belonged to your wife, but they each had different fathers, none of whom were you, and one of whom was an Italian with a Gypsy ancestor...
but what if as you confront your wife she explains to you that the word "faithful" to her just means full of faith in you, that she still loves you and is so thankful that you allow her to use your name to sign the checks; it has nothing to do with who she sleeps with when you are touring the country, leaving her alone with the Italian chauffeur; the word wife, to her, means that she will inherit half of your estate when you die?
Could you keep jumping? Could you still trust her? Would you still have a good marriage? Or would the whole thing come crashing down?
Don't worry. I affirm the historic institution of marriage--with all its beliefs about words like faithful and true, with whatever shade of meaning the culture has colored them, and I'm sure you have nothing to worry about. Really.
Slippery, slippery arguments--They are more like, accuse, slap, slap---then quickly pull your audience back with: "no, really, I affirm you--with what ever doctrine you happen to believe."
(Notice. He affirms the historic Christian church--with its doctrines--not the doctrines.)
So what does he believe? Really?
Simply this: that "God created everything and that Jesus is Lord and that God has plans to restore everything."
After that it's open. Where is sin, punishment, redemption, forgiveness, resurrection, eternal life? Where is realistic recognition of our depravity, and a hope: the "good news" from the gospel?
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Supposedly, it's a discussion about his latest book, but it really meanders into other things--on and on for twenty self-congratulatory minutes. All this from a "conversation" that decries consumerism in the traditional church?
Therefore, if one claims to love Christ and hail him as the most perfect being who ever lived, yet wants to embrace this doctrine of universalism, he must reinterpret scripture. Rob Bell does this in his book, Velvet Elvis. He says:
"Jesus at one point claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus was not making claims about one religion being better than all other religions. That completely misses the point, the depth, and the truth. Rather, he was telling those who were following him that his way is the way to the depth of reality. This kind of life Jesus was living , perfectly and completely in connection and cooperation with God, is the best possible way for a person to live. It is how things are."
And while I agree completely with that next-to-last sentence, the rest of the statement is simply false. If you look at the entire verse, instead of the first half, you can see that plainly. Ignoring the context of this verse also lends itself to misinterpretation.
The entire passage is from John 14: 1-6
"Don't let your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
Thomas said to him: Lord we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?
Jesus said to him: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
You see, He isn't talking about a "way to do things". He is talking about a "road" a "route" a "way"... and in the process, He is being exclusive. With conversation like that, I wonder how Jesus himself can be embraced by those who claim to love him yet disregard His own words about himself.
Job says: "I know that my redeemer lives, and that He shall stand in the last day upon the earth, and though the skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I will see God."
The blind man, healed by Jesus, and accosted by the Pharisees simply told what he knew: once he was blind; now he could see.
That's testimony--witnessing to the truth. It's what the church is about.
In the Emergent "conversation" however, testimony is uncomfortable--too rigid, too close to assuming an existing truth that is possible to approach or stray from.
They prefer "story".
I like stories, don't get me wrong, but they lend themselves to enlarging, warping, minimizing, or changing the truth; they may supplement, but should never take the place of testimony.
Jesus told stories sometimes, to emphasize a point, but when he was alone with his disciples, he explained them all. . . and he was concerned with truth and testimony. He testified of the Father, and He was constantly saying, of a truth I tell you; The old, "verily, verily," means truthfully, truthfully. It is the truth that He said we would know; that would make us free.
He discussed the fact that many atheists aren't that at all. They just don't believe in a certain type of God, maybe the God represented by a family member they dislike or a God conception they have known since childhood. He asserts that the key to bringing them into faith or relationship with God, is finding out what God they don't believe in and changing that idea.
"So, if you could find a way to believe in God the way some of us do, and not the way your sister does, maybe it would be OK?"
"Wow, that really helps me," he said. A few months later, he did come to a deep faith in God, which continues to grow today. A lot of pastors have learned from similar experiences to ask people, when they say they are atheists, "Tell me about the God you don't believe in." More often than not, we can say, "I don't believe in that kind of God either. I can't blame you for being an atheist if that's the understanding of God that you're rejecting."
Of course, many people are more "orthodox" atheists of the naturalistic sort, refusing to believe in anything beyond physics and mathematics. But according to the Pew data, there are a significant number out there who at first seem to be simply illogical by claiming both atheism and belief in some sort of deity ... but with further conversation, it turns out they have an interesting spiritual story full of unresolved tensions, and that story isn't finished yet. Which is true of us all.
Friday, October 24, 2008
People don't suffer from a lack of understanding as often as they suffer from an unwillingness to accept the message.
Rob Bell says, for instance, that the passage: Love they neighbor as thyself, is a difficult one. After all, who is thy neighbor? What does it mean to love? What does this involve?
He is following the path of those who questioned Christ about those words?
"Who is my neighbor?"
Christ explained by telling a story about a good Samaritan who befriends an unfortunate robbery victim. He doesn't address the question directly, but His point is obvious: You know well what I'm saying.
This propensity for asking: "Why?", "Why", and "Why" is not always an admirable trait. Carried to an extreme, it is simply a childish way of avoiding responsibility for the commandment.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Bell, spends a good deal of time explaining that we cannot understand scripture as it stands. We each interpret it to fit our own viewpoint, and therefore we need a community to explain the scripture to us. He proves this by quoting some scriptures that are difficult to understand.
I do see the need for each of us to apply scripture to our own life, and, granted, there are some scriptures that don't really apply to us; they were for another people--addressing a specific need in another time. Also, some scriptures are difficult; they can be interpreted more than one way. We need the Holy Spirit to guide us in our understanding of them, just as Bell says.
However, there are also some concepts in the scripture that are very plain. They are only "hard to understand" because you disagree with them and want to make them say what fits your preconceived viewpoint.
To say that we cannot understand the Bible except through community is to take away the power of the Word of God to the individual. It is regressing. . . to a time when individual believers were told what to think by a larger community. Not only that. It's a little frightening: Usually, when someone tells you that you cannot possibly understand a thing this important without help, their next step is telling you what it means.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
It's October. Such joys God brings into the world!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Questions are a staple of this "Emergent" Christianity, and although, as an educator, I love questions, this extreme view of questioning troubles me.
I quote from Velvet Elvis:
"and that is why questions are so central to faith. A question by its very nature acknowledges that the person asking the question does not have all of the answers...Questions, no matter how shocking or blasphemous or arrogant or ignorant or raw, are rooted in humility."
Is this just hyperbole for shock effect? I hope so. I can think of a lot of questions that are not rooted in humility.
How about: "Didn't God say that you should not eat from any tree in the garden?"...the Serpent, his humbleness,
or "Am I my brother's keeper?" Cain in a moment of brotherly concern,
or "Wherein does your great strength lie?"... Delilah, trying to bolster her low self-esteem, in the presence of one she admired.
or "Am I a dog, that you should come against me with sticks?"...Goliath, in a great show of Philistine humility.
Well, all that aside, assuming Bell is talking about honest--although blasphemous-- God-seeking questions, I still have a problem with where he takes this:
He likens Christianity to a trampoline and compares the springs to doctrines of the Christian faith. They give and stretch, and should be challenged, added or removed. He insists that the doctrine of the trinity, for example, was added years after the New Testament was completed, and wasn't necessary as a belief before it was formally named. He also challenges the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ, by attacking it, then affirming it, then asking (humbly, of course):
"if the whole faith falls apart when we re-examine and rethink one spring, then it wasn't that strong in the first place, was it?"
The doctrine of Christ's deity, however, is more than just a minor bounce enhancer on the trampoline of Christianity; it is a leg that supports the structure, and by the time one has finished twisting and stretching and chopping at that leg, the trampoline will be lying on the ground. True, you can still invite a lot of people over to play, but the jumping won't be so fun.
Now, I'm not against reformation. I'm not against staying in touch with the needs and language of the population, I would love to see a revival and a return of passion in the church, but Bell isn't talking about that. He says:
By this I do not mean cosmetic, superficial changes like better lights and music, sharper graphics, and new methods with easy to follow steps. "I mean theology: the beliefs about God, Jesus, the Bible, salvation, the future. We must keep reforming the way the Christian faith is defined, lived, and explained.
The heart of Martin Luther's reformation was the Bible. He believed what it said, that man was saved by grace, not by works; that man could reach God through Christ and did not have to go through priests. Reading the scripture made him realize how far the church had strayed from the truth. His reformation was a calling back to basic scriptural principles.
In contrast, the Emergent movement, agnostic in nature--we cannot know God, we cannot understand scripture, we cannot explain--wants to twist and bend, and in some cases remove these cardinal beliefs.
Luther's word was "Faith". Theirs is "Doubt."
In fact, Bell's church sponsored a "doubt night" where people sat around baring their souls with their lack of understanding. I don't feel that it is wrong to ask questions; but I see no value in questions without answers. Yes, Abraham did question God, but it was not his doubt that was commended: it was his faith.
I can just see the children of Israel, sitting around in the desert for a time of sharing and dialogue to air their doubts about the giants in Canaan...oh wait, that's exactly what they did. It cost them too.
Job asked questions also, but it was his trust in God that brought about his victory!
We should not presume to "darken counsel without knowledge".
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I've just finished reading Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell, one of the hugely-popular leaders in the emergent church movement. Sure, I've seen a couple of his "Noomas" in chapel, and appreciated the particular needs they addressed, so I thought this book would be interesting and intense.
Well, I was right on that count; Rob states his "cutting edge" views with intensity--as if they are the only possible views for modern Christians. In many places I found myself nodding my head in agreement. Christianity is about knowing Christ. It is relational, and that's a strong point in the book's favor. However, Rob's insistence that Christianity needs to be "re-painted" every few years is a potentially dangerous concept: In passage after passage of this book, I felt that "gospel" was being white-washed, spruced-up, garnished with shades of meaning that aren't really in the Biblical text. Why? So it will fit with the themes of popular culture. I feel there is a great danger in where this leads. In repainting God in our image, we become the creators.
Blogs are short, so I won't try to cover all my discussion in this entry. Instead, I will be addressing one issue a day for the next week or so.
Why criticize, you say; just let the man alone; if he believes in Christ, that is enough. I criticize because I'm seeing half-truths and perilous attitudes being showered upon the younger generation; I'm afraid that in their acceptance of the newest re-painting, they will lose the image of what is basic about the faith:
Christ, who is God, came in the flesh, died for our sins, and rose again to reconcile us with the Father. We can know God. We can understand the scripture. Faith is stronger than Doubt. These are cardinal. They are important.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Americans killed in wars since 1973: 6,830.
At an X for every 100 it would look like this:
Americans killed by capital punishment from 1973-2004: 983
At an X for every 100 it would look like this:
XXXXXXXXXXTotal Americans killed in all wars from the Revolutionary War on: 1,315, 00.At an X for every 100 it fills six pages of X's.
That's pretty impressive.
The Green Page is capital punishment, the gray is wars since 1973, the yellow pages represent all Americans ever killed in war, and the white pages are those full of abortions--over 200,000 per page (as each typed X represents 100)