Friday, November 30, 2007

New and Improved--Now with More Lumps!

Well, the title says it all.

After being stuck in the inevitable time warp that exists at OB/GYN offices--an 11:00 appointment really translating to 12:20--I got to see the Nurse-Practitioner assigned to me. She examined me and pointed out that I actually had two lumps; the one I had already found near the center of my breast and one over to the side, closer to my armpit, where lumps are usually found. It took a few attempts for her to guide my finger to the spot she was pointing out. I couldn't find it at first, but then discovered it. It wasn't as close the surface as the first one.

She said they felt "cystic" which is a nice way to alieve someone's fears without really saying much. We talked about things for a while, and then she gave me a prescription for a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound for the breast with the lumps, making it clear that I was to have these done in no more than two weeks time.

She was nice, responsive and generally helpful, but she chilled me to the bone when she commented, about making sure with the tests, "Well, you have young children. We want to make sure you're around for them."

I know she meant it in a reassuring way, but it played on my worst-case scenario and took a moment for me to shake off.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lumpy

Last week I found a lump in my breast.

Well, I actually rediscovered a lump in my breast. I had come across it a couple of months earlier, but I wasn't sure that it was actually a lump. I don't really do self-exams on a regular basis and have never really known what I was looking for anyway. I read up on things and learned that breasts change during the course of a menstrual cycle, so you have to pay attention to things to know if something is new or swollen as a result of hormonal changes, etc. If only I had that topographical map of my breasts. I know I must have left it around here somewhere!

I filed the info away and promptly forgot all about it...Until Thursday. I came across the lump inadvertently as I was dressing and remembered the incident from a few months earlier. There was definitely something there...and it seemed larger to me.

Of course once I started down that train of thought, it became difficult to weed out what was true and what was paranoid hypochondria: Was it really bigger? Did it really seem to feel different than the rest of my breast tissue? Could I really...possibly...have cancer?

I decided the answers were..yes....yes....and...maybe.

I rushed through some emotions very quickly on Sunday, trying to sort through what it might mean, what might happen, and if I was worrying about it too much about it. There was definitely an element of shock and vague fear.

I don't really have a current doctor. My OB/GYN stopped practicing a year after I had Intuitive Monkey. I never got another one because life was busy, money was tight, and I had a million excuses. That was probably pretty dumb.

I spent Thanksgiving weekend alternately between melodramatic scenarios ending in my death and confident self-assurance that I was being a big baby, worrying about something that was probably nothing. On Monday, I called around and got an appointment to get everything checked out. A weight was lifted off of me. I realized that taking a constructive step forward made me feel less fearful and more in control.

Tomorrow I have my appointment with an OB/GYN. I don't expect too much. They'll make me wait in the lobby for an hour reading outdated parenting and baby magazines, examine me, and then probably send me somewhere for a test. I won't actually know anything more than I do now.

I am a little anxious. It is surreal to consider the possibility of anything serious being wrong with me. I'm supposed to be immortal...aren't I?

Right now, I am trying to not worry about it until I know more...Then, I'll worry! :-)

Clean Carpets

Me on the cell phone with DH as I am pulling into the driveway:

"I don't know if I'm ready to get a Christmas tree this weekend. The carpet really needs to be cleaned and I wanted to get that done before we put a tree up. It will be too hard once it's in the house."

"You can always do it later," said DH.

"Yeah..I guess so. Well, I'm home now. I'll talk to you later. Bye."

I opened the door and my first thought was, "Gee, I really need to take the garbage out. It smells awful in here."

That should have been my first clue.

I let the dog out and then noticed a small spot where she had had an accident--a rare occurrence for her, but she had diarrhea the day before. The spot wasn't too big, so I started getting stuff to clean it up, and that's when I noticed a trail of tiny little spots in the hallway. Not good, but still easy to clean up. I rounded the corner into my son's bedroom and was hit with a horrible smell and a ghastly sight which can only be called the "Great Poop Explosion of '07".

It was everywhere; on my son's pajamas that he had forgotten to put in the laundry, on some papers, and spattered across the floor like a Rorschach test. ugh. I gagged and raced out of the room. I had to get a carpet cleaner ASAP!

After hours of cleaning, everything smells and looks like new, except for the pajamas which were pitched into the garbage for some poor garbage man to have to deal with.

Well, at least I was motivated to get the carpet cleaned before we got our tree. I guess even the messes in our lives can spur us on to quick action.

Lesson learned?

Poop prevents procrastination.

I know....It should be on a fortune cookie!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Target Audience

While out traveling the county for my job, I noticed a billboard for a church and memorized the website. We are still ambivalent about the church we attend and have thought about visiting a few more, so I figured I would check out the website and see what this one was about.

Here's how it described itself:

R-- is a casual, contemporary, Christian church meeting at the ***** ****, Florida. Our service is designed specifically for college students, urban professionals and young families.


College students.....urban professionals.....young families.

I was taken aback by this simple sentence. Rarely does a church spell out , so specifically, who it is they want to attend their church. Churches often segregate themselves subconsciously; tending to be made up of the same ethnic, social, or economic demographic. Most of the time this happens because people tend to "congregate" with other people who are just like themselves. The same phenomena happens at school sometimes when there is a "jock" table, a "geek" table, a "black" table, and a "white" table in the lunchroom. No one says it has to be that way; it just happens.

So, churches are often skewed toward a particular population depending on their location and style.

What is interesting about this particular church is that it is located near some very poor neighborhoods. It is close to the downtown center of a large city. The residential areas surrounding this church are old homes which are populated almost entirely with minorities and lower-income families. They are not the "urban professionals" that this church seems to be looking for. A few miles away from the church are some high-rise condos that real-estate companies are desperately trying to unload in this bad housing market. They are upscale, expensive, and largely vacant.

The marketing style of the church is very edgy. Their ads are slick and their site is well-done. They are what most people would call "seeker-sensitive" or maybe "emergent". They describe their approach as "current as the newspaper". They want to be accessible to people...just so long as you're the kind of people they are looking for.


It's the wrong approach. You can't follow Jesus in a poor neighborhood and plan to design your service for people who don't actually live there.

It's a slap in the face to the people around them.

As I continue to drive through different neighborhoods for my job, I am struck by how often old, poor neighborhoods have boarded up churches. No one wants to minister there. All the big, active churches have moved away from the cities, out to where the subdivisions are...where things are "nicer"....where things are "safer".....where you can be sure that the congregation has enough money to pay the electric bill each month.

If you are going to plant a church to teach people about Jesus, you have no right to declare who your "target" audience is. Your audience is simply those who want to listen. Your audience is all who would like to worship Christ. Your audience is anyone and everyone.

Jesus ministered wherever he went. Whoever was closest to him was his audience. He went out to seek that which was lost, not those who made him feel "comfortable".

What's sad is that this church uses the term "relevant" to describe itself, but is completely irrelevant to the groups of people who are right next door to them.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Living With Doubt

"If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things."
--Rene Descartes

I have lived with doubt.
I have doubted myself. I have doubted my marriage. I have doubted my abilities as a mother. I have doubted God. I have doubted just about everything possible to doubt.
I doubt Republicans. I doubt Democrats. I doubt the preacher. I doubt the atheist .
I doubt my own doubts. Are they even real or just an imaginary construct to keep my mind busy?
I doubt that anybody reads this blog. Well, I don't actually doubt that.
I doubt that Rene Descartes actually ever doubted anything. How would I even know? He lived like a bazillion years ago.
I doubt that UFO's exist despite all these detailed pictures.
I doubt that Hillary is really as awful as this guy thinks she is.
I doubt that most conspiracy theorists take their medication.
I doubt that I will ever have a job like these.
I doubt anyone will actually pay $399 to use Kindle to read books.
I doubt anyone cares about my doubts.

Front Yard Astronomy

One of the supreme pleasures of parenting comes from watching your children grow into their own personalities and develop their separate identities. The first few years of their lives, it's all about Mom and Dad. They want you to play with them, read to them, sleep in their bed, share your food, have you answer every question they have in intricate detail. It never ends. The day stretches out before you in one long, endless request to be answered or physical need to be met.

Now that the boys are older, life has become so much more interesting. When The Rationalist isn't accomplishing his tasks in his normally efficient way, I peek into his room and catch him half-dressed, sprawled on the floor, reading a book. My heart swells. When I hear Intuitive Monkey banging around in the kitchen, I walk in to find him moving chairs and climbing on cabinets to get something he needs instead of just relying on someone else to do it for him. It makes me proud.

Today, while I was getting ready for work going back and forth from the living room to the bedroom, I heard the boys talking excitedly and noticed that they had gone outside in the front yard, an unusual thing for them at 6:30 in the morning.

"It's there! It's there!"..The Rationalist shouted.

"What's going on?" I asked.

"We saw Mars!"

"What do you mean?"

"Under the moon...the faint speck is Mars, just like that guy said it would be!"

"What guy?"

"The guy on TV...the one who sits in the stars. He said that on the 26th and 27th if you looked at the moon in the morning you would be able to see Mars just below it!"

They took me outside and sure enough, the bright moon was high in the sky with a single speck of light just below it.

I looked at the boys and just smiled. They had taken an interest in something that I hadn't even known about and had explored it all on their own, without looking to me to tell them about it or suggest that they look for it.

Thanks Star Gazer Guy!

Monday, November 26, 2007

More Games

Aahhh...the sheep are coming!

After you ward the sheep off, go Hurl some Haggis!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Abortamentalists

This is the sort of Orwellian crap you couldn't make up if you tried.

A British woman who had an abortion 10 years ago and was later sterilized did so because she believes pregnancy is bad for the environment, the London Daily Mail reported Sunday.


A woman aborts her child as a way to "save the planet".

Really.

Are we supposed to applaud this act as some sort of sacrificial good by this "martyr"? Should I rejoice that she is so giving and thoughtful for keeping another human from sucking up all our air, taking up our space, and eating all the Oreos?

Insane rationalizations such as this are what make evangelicals so rabid in their defense of life. As soon as you think it can't get worse, it does.

Great. The planet will be saved.

Who will save us from ourselves?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

eww

"Mom...can you help me?" Intuitive Monkey asked as he handed me a soaking wet ball of tissue with something inside of it.

"Sure. What's the matter?"

"I was trying to get the Play-Doh wet because it dried out. It turned all gooey."

"Why is it wrapped in toilet paper?"

"It's tissue, not toilet paper."

"OK....why is it wrapped in tissue?" I ask as I begin to unwrap the gooey mess.

"Oh....because it fell in the toilet. Don't worry. I already washed my hands," he says stone-faced while I shudder in revulsion at the toilet-dipped gooey mess in my hands.

The Damage We Do To Each Other

"We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know because they have never deceived us."
--Samuel Johnson

I have been struggling with my faith for the last year or so. That is not to say that I am struggling with the concept of God or whether there actually is one. Instead, I have been struggling with what it means to be a follower of Christ. Which of the many beliefs that have been imparted to me over the years, through some sort of spiritual osmosis, do I actually believe...and why? I have never been one to accept part and parcel of whatever someone has told me to believe. I have always had the need to look over things for myself and come to my own conclusions, which sometimes were the same and sometimes drastically different from those around me.

When we left our church about two and a half years ago, it left me with a lot of collateral damage. Although there had been a tipping point, which ultimately made us make the painful decision to leave, things had been brewing for about 6-9 months previously. The church had started pursuing a doctrine of deliverance from demons that was disturbing on many levels. This particular doctrine held that all the Old Testament generational curses still had effect in the present world. One could be a Christian and simultaneously controlled by a demonic force of some sort. Careful to try and not run everybody out the doors in a mad stampede, the leadership pastor labeled this control "oppression", avoiding the highly charged term "possession".

The teaching went something like this--If you, or your parents/grandparents, had participated in some sort of occult activity, or habitual sin, then you had some sort of "hook" within you that could be used by Satan to "oppress" you and cause you to struggle with the same sin or let Satan have a portion of control within your life.

It was based on Exodus 20:4b--

"I the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me."

and Deuteronomy 5:9--

"You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me"

An intricate theology was built around these verses, replete with detailed descriptions of "soul ties", how to rid people of them, and what might happen when praying for people who were demonically "oppressed". Needless to say, such a dramatic turn in theology at a non-charismatic, biblically conservative, evangelical church caused enormous problems. It wasn't helped by the fact that the pastor had begun teaching these principles in a very under-the-radar kind of way, beginning with a small session on Sunday nights, and later beginning a prayer group on Wednesday nights to implement this new spiritual practice of praying for people's "deliverance". He was very careful in the way he introduced things to the congregation. Some would say he was being cautious, others would say manipulative was the right term.

I have come to believe the latter is closer to the truth.

Once the pastor had developed a core group, who had come to accept this new teaching, he was emboldened to begin introducing it in the normal Sunday morning service; even inviting the proponent and originator of this particular doctrine to use our church as a "school" for teaching lay leaders how to "deliver" others in their respective congregations. That was pretty much the beginning of the end as far as the health of the church went.

As the rest of the congregation became aware of the intricacies of the teaching being presented, several important questions began to arise.

1. Does the regeneration of a Christian break all claims that Satan has on an individual?

2. Is the individual Christian really at the mercy of the actions of their forefathers?

3. Is it true that committing some type of sin "opens the door" for Satanic influence and control in the life of the believer?

There were many more nuanced questions, but these were the biggies.

What made things worse was that the congregation had been covertly divided. In any church, there will always be members who disagree on doctrinal issues. Most of the time, they are not important in the big picture and there is room for a certain amount of freedom in the individual's life and spiritual bent. As long as members don't make it their mission to "convert" everybody into their identical way of believing, peace and diversity can be had. Of course, the essentials of Christianity must be held in common--Jesus as the Son of God and Savior, Sin, Forgiveness. A standard reading of the Apostles' Creed or even the Nicene Creed conveys the roots at the core of Christianity. Anything more detailed than that is usually up for grabs.

The pastor's decision to make this a new article of belief for the church, and any newly appointed elders, and to have certain ministries dominated by these questionable teachings had upset the balance of co-existence. Also, it is hard to argue against a teaching that states that believers can be controlled and influenced by demonic forces. Objecting to the teaching instantly places you in a category of a possibly "oppressed" individual being used to cause strife and division in God's Kingdom. Nothing like head games to cast doubt on other people, their motives, and their spiritual state--a very useful tool in the hands of someone pushing an agenda.

The problem with all of this was that by the time the teaching had wormed its way into the church, several couples/families who were devoted, godly, salt-of-the earth kind of people had fully embraced it. Their motives were pure. They were loving people. How do you look people you respect--and have come to know over the course of seven years--in the eye and say that they have bought into something that is not only wrong, but damaging to the church and to an individual's spiritual life? How do you pray with people who think you are less spiritual or demonically influenced because you haven't accepted the "truth" they believe in? How do you listen to a pastor who has begun to use the pulpit manipulatively, in one sermon comparing those who reject his new teaching to the people of Gerasenes who asked Jesus to leave when he healed some demon-possessed men.

You can't. You worry about what visitors who just walked into the church are thinking. You wonder how an elder board, half of which doesn't believe the teaching, can be persuaded to sign a statement that says that everything is hunky-dory. You wince as a member is asked to leave because he is a vocal opponent of the teaching. So, you make the painful decision to leave people you care about because you no longer feel comfortable inviting people to the church you attend. You walk out the door, your spirit torn asunder and bloody from the most disillusioning experience in your life. You lick your wounds.

The damage my faith has sustained has been extensive. It isn't based in my belief in God, or disappointment with my life. I do not falter when things go wrong, because I have no expectation that following Christ means that I will never suffer or never have obstacles to overcome. However, my faith in others' abilities to "hear from God" or "be led by the Holy Spirit" has taken a huge beating. I don't even completely trust myself and my own experiences at times. I look back at things I have believed or said and question which ones were "true" and which ones were merely some form of emotional rationalization.

It's been hard. There have been a few things I have flip-flopped on--decisions that sometimes seem providential, and at other times mere flukes. I have had to rethink what it means to be "inspired" and what the purpose of my experiential spiritual life is. I'm still uncovering and examining the layers within and without me.

I have come to the conclusion that the most damaging thing to most people's faith is not our relationship with God, but the relationship we have with other Christians.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Let's see...my Thanksgiving checklist:

Pants that have a little give--check

Ingredients for Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole--check

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on the TV--check

Clothing picked out for the boys that implies we are a more fashionable family than we actually are--check

Camera batteries charged--check

Well, I think that covers it.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! May you have sweet dreams when you slip into your respective sugar and tryptophan-induced Thanksgiving Day coma!

Here's a little quiz to check your Turkey Day knowledge.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Art Class

Intuitive Monkey's Artwork



That's Monkey and me....and a dead frog we saw on the sidewalk one day. Exciting stuff.





Monkey, The Rationalist and me playing Life, the board game. I'm not sure why we have no feet...or why one of my legs is 3 times as big as the other one.

How do you like my hair?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

That's Sooo High School!

Apparently, I'm stuck in high school. I hope that cute boy asks me to the dance.

cash advance

Get a Cash Advance



Update.....ugh. I guess the price of getting a cute, fun, blog badge is having a link to a cash advance site. Ignore it! :-)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

continuing from yesterday.

4. Most evolutionary thought about the universal belief in God tends to classify such belief as either a "mistake", or as a beneficial mutation that helped to contribute to the survival of the human species by causing humans to work cooperatively or further the status of the group. If that were true, why the fight against it? Why the enormous effort to throw off a perfectly developed, successful adaptation chosen by natural selection? It seems sort of paradoxical. The concept that humans are what they are because of billions of years of adaptations, which have led to us being successful on this planet, should seem to fight against a desire to wipe out something so integral to human nature. Why resist concepts of God and fixed morality? If they have served us so well in the past, on what basis should we ignore them now? I argue this only from a wondering state of mind. I obviously think there is more to this universal predisposition, but am merely intrigued by the vehemence that is leveled at it sometimes.

5. Techskeptic commented about my earlier post that it assumes a destination for natural selection and evolution--that somehow evolution is moving towards something. Theoretically, I would concede that adaptation does not necessarily mean improvement. And yet isn't that really what has happened with humans if we evolved? Our minds are what give us the edge on this planet. We have walked on the moon; we have discovered how viruses and bacteria harm us and how to fight them; we have learned how to clone animals and human organs. I think that things have pretty much advanced to a higher state of being. Even Dawkins compares natural selection to a staircase climbing further and further up.

6. Tying in somewhat with an earlier point; why would homo sapiens be the only surviving species in the journey from primate to human. In order for humans to have changed so drastically, there have been several intermediate stages proposed by evolution. Presumably, each of those stages would have had an advantage over the previous one on their way to "humanness". Why aren't any of them still living? Why isn't there a pocket of the world somewhere where a small band of them could have survived? When adaptation occurs it doesn't mean that the unadapted portion of a group dies out. Think Galapogos islands and all those strange, different finches Darwin found. Different groups of the same kind exist even if one becomes more dominant and resilient. That's why when people say,"If we descended from apes, why are there still apes?" it shows they don't really get what evolution is saying. There would have had to be a pool of former ancestors existing for a long time during the process for homo sapiens' development. What happened to them? Why would so many stages of them be completely obliterated?

zounds..it's late....premature stopping point again

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lately I have been pondering evolution, science, human nature and God. Oh....and how to beat level 13 on Zuma.

Leaving Zuma for another day, I'll try to cover the former.

One of the difficulties in accepting an evolutionary process without God is accounting for the universal consciousness of human kind. The very acts of being able to comprehend abstract thoughts, make predictions about future events based on information and not actual experiences, and plumb the depths of thought not directly related to our survival or environment, speak to me as something for which atheistic evolution cannot account.

There have been attempts to do so. Many ideas have been postulated about the social behavior of our "ancestors", implying that moral and cooperative behavior would benefit the species leading to their edge in survival. Dawkins, and many like him, believe that religious beliefs themselves are a result of evolution and the development of the mind, albeit a development they view as faulty or as a "mind virus". They attempt to tie thought-life to biology and neurology, a result of a belief in materialism.

And yet.....

No matter how much I can appreciate science, no matter how elegant the concept of things slowly building upon each other over millions of years might seem, no matter how "logical" evolution may sometimes seem--I don't really believe it.

My unbelief is not specifically tied to my view of God as creator, although that does influence me. Instead it is drawn out by a few simple questions and concepts.

1. If life began in a primordial, chemical soup that was struck by lightning, bringing inanimate matter to "life" what would make this new "living" organism want to reproduce? And not only reproduce, but by what mechanism would it even be able to reproduce itself? If a chain of tiny proteins, which one moment before had simply been floating about, suddenly had the ability to do something other than merely float about, how would that happen? Once it happened, why would it reproduce itself? It's a chain of proteins. It surely would have no consciousness or desire to "survive" or grow. So then we would have to be able to explain the drive, or motivation, for the first life forms to evolve and procreate.

2. Moving ahead millions of years--If humans evolved from primates, was it because of a physical advantage--standing upright, opposable thumbs, stronger immune system--or a mental advantage? For instance, let's say that a primate evolved opposable thumbs, maybe even a more upright stance, all at the same time. While certainly being physically advantageous, how would that translate into intelligence? Maybe they would survive more easily on a daily basis, but would that lead to them being smarter? Would it lead to them developing concepts about their world and universe which had no immediate impact on their lives, environment, or survival? So, instead of wondering how they would catch their next meal or find shelter in inclement weather they would need to be able to plan how they could grow their own food, make tools, build their own shelters, or keep peace in their social group.

From my Christian perspective, this is what I think is meant by "being made in the image of God."

What separates humans from animals is not only a biological advantage, but the agility and ability of the human mind. It is safe to say that humans are the most advanced species on the planet. Why is that? If evolution and natural selection are always at work, why is there only one species on the planet that has achieved the same status as humans? Shouldn't each species be continually improving and getting "smarter" if intelligence is so important to the survival and dominance of a species? Shouldn't there be more than one intelligent, enlightened species after all these billions and millions of years?

3. Compassion/Morals...Are humans the only species to exhibit compassion towards other species? Primates are very social creatures. They care for one another, build relationships, and do show compassion and cooperation within their groups. However, is there another species which collectively cares about other species? Is there another species which would protect predators such as wolves, lions, and bears out of an appreciation for their role in the ecology?

Hate to end abruptly..but I have to get to work! I'll try to finish this later.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Work

As part of my job, I travel throughout the county to all of the various elementary schools. We have a big county. It encompasses urban areas, rural areas, suburbia, and impoverished areas. Some of the schools are very diverse, others are almost completely black, white, or hispanic, depending on where the school is located.

Today, my partner and I were in a mostly rural area with a wide group of ethnicities. The school was kind of old, but not in disrepair or crumbling. More than anything it needed somebody to care about it. The floors needed scrubbing, the walls needed painting, and the bathrooms could have used an ocean's worth of bleach.

When we arrived, the office was overrun by late students who kept streaming in 10-15 minutes after the first bell. Usually there is always one or two, but today it seemed like this was a common occurrence. The secretary was stressed out trying to sign them all in, and at the same time, direct us to where we needed to be. They had moved our performance from the media center to an open space between four classes...y'know...usually it's called a hallway.

After surmising the space we had to set up, we made the best of it and got ready.

All I can say is that it was the worst experience with a school that I have had so far. The students were out of control and openly talking during the performance. The teachers made no effort to control the students or bring order to them. It was chaos.

The eye-rolling, the sighing, the grumpiness, the general look of despair---and those were the teachers!

At one point, in between our two presentations, we listened to a teacher lecture a student on how he didn't go to college for four years so some kid could make him look like an idiot...and how that kid needed to stop being a baby, suck it up and do his work....and how he was going to lose every special for the next two weeks if he didn't shape up...and he'd better just try it and see what would happen.

The kid's crime? Falling asleep in class and not admitting it.

OK. Let's start stocking the teacher's lounge with some Prozac!

My partner and I kept exchanging sidelong glances and looking at the clock, wondering when we would be able to escape the "Land of the Unmotivated, Bitter Teachers and Students with Serious Issues."

yikes.

Quote

The essence of most blogs:

"Those who agree with us may not be right, but we admire their astuteness."
--Cullen Hightower

Monday, November 12, 2007

Celebrity Sound-Alike


Apparently Judge Marilyn Milian is my verbal doppelganger.

While the People's Court played in the background, Judge Milian's voice came ringing out:

"That's it! Don't say another word. You and you.....be quiet and don't say anything until I ask you a question! And then only answer my question 'Yes' or 'No'! Got it?!"

The Rationalist said,"Hey mom....she sounds like you!"

um...yeah...that's me about 100 times per day.

Friday, November 09, 2007

I'm Not A Prophet...I Just Play One On TV

I don't usually dip my toe into political blogging. My latest post about Hillary Clinton was more observation rather than endorsement.

That being said, I am rather intrigued at Pat Robertson's endorsement of Rudy Giuliani for the Republican nomination. Pat Robertson....Rudy Giuliani. OK.

This is the same Pat Robertson that warned Dover, PA residents not to come crying to God when something horrible happened to them because they decided not to teach intelligent design. The same Pat Robertson who warned a tsunami was going to hit America. The same one who suggested sending an assassin to take out Hugo Chavez. Oy Vey! Is Giuliani sure that he wants Robertson's endorsement?

Robertson declared his endorsement was based on Giuliani's ability to lead America in the fight against Islamic terrorists. That's a fair enough statement, but a curious one for a man who has warned people about deserting God and making unbiblical choices that will lead to disastrous consequences. It would make much more sense if Robertson endorsed Mike Huckabee, a former pastor and current evangelical, or even Romney--Mormonism not withstanding.

(As a side note....I saw Huckabee on Charlie Rose, where he did an OK job of representing himself. Rose kept trying to bait him into a debate about evolution, which has no immediate bearing on the presidential campaign, nor is it one of the most pressing issues facing the country, but serves only as a way to label someone backward if they don't accept the standard model of evolutionary theory....but I digress.)

Back to the Robertson issue...

I don't really care who Robertson endorses. I certainly don't look to him for cues as to what I should think, or how I should vote. I do think it is interesting that, all of sudden, he has ejected his Christian socio-political ideology out of fear of facing down Islamic terrorists. That hardly seems to be a faith-filled response to the current situation.

What is more, I wonder how many people will blindly follow his endorsement, not based on their thought-out agreement with him, but simply because he's some famous guy on Christian TV.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Where's the ACLU When You Need Them?

What with it being a beautiful day (see earlier post) I decided to walk to the school and pick the kids up, rather than driving them home. Little did I know I might have a need to call a lawyer to keep them from being railroaded into false charges.

Things were going well enough. We were walking home, chatting about the day, with intermittent periods of them racing ahead and stopping, acting like traffic signals for each other, shouting "Go....Stop!....Go.....Stop!"

On the last leg of our journey home, we crossed the street and a man began to approach us.

"Can I talk to you a minute?" he asked.

"Um...sure. What do you need?" I asked in a hesitant voice, wary of a strange man approaching me and my two children, scoping out whether there were any other people around to shout to for help....yeah...I'm a little paranoid.

After stammering around for a minute, he accused my two children of walking by the wall--that follows the sidewalk and also backs up to several houses on the adjoining street--and teasing his two dogs, trying to make them bark.

"They do this every day, " he blustered.

"Well, that would be hard for them to do considering that they are driven to school each morning and this is only the second day we have walked home." I said, trying to keep my composure.

He proceeded to ignore what I was saying and tried to get my kids to "admit" that they had teased his dogs for weeks now.

"It's OK to tell the truth, boys. Being honest is always good," he said with a knowing look.

Of course, the kids didn't say anything but gave him a confused look as they tried to figure out what in the world this strange man was saying.

"Sir, I appreciate the frustration you feel, but my kids haven't done anything to your dogs. They are driven almost every day. When they aren't driven, they ride bikes or walk with me--not alone. And...I certainly wouldn't let my children tease anyone's dogs!"

The man continued to try and coerce a confession from them and I finally told them that we needed to go and walked away.

I left the man there...shaking his head...convinced that I was a mother who was aiding and abetting known dog-harassers.

So much for "Innocent, until proven guilty."

Church Shopping 101

We didn't make it to our church yesterday. Even though we "gained" an hour from the time change, we couldn't drag ourselves out of bed to make it to the 9:00 am service in time. We huddled under the blankets and let the kids watch too much TV.

When we finally got up, we knew we wouldn't make it. Rather than go to the 10:45 service, we decided to check out a United Methodist church nearby. They had a contemporary service at 9:30, and we figured we could make it as long as we got ready quickly.

I really enjoyed it, but it left me thinking about what is important in a church body.

Looking at this unknown congregation, I started making my observations. Full service. Friendly people. Lots of families. Older people and younger people. People seem interested in the service, not drifting off or overly distracted. Communion served--yay! Music good. (really good! They had great musicians and singers)

I wasn't sure about the pastor because, as always happens when we visit a church, they had a guest speaker. I swear that has happened to us more times than I can count. We just looked at each other and laughed.

I felt good being in the church. I could see my family making connections there. I could imagine my kids making friends.

However, I also noticed some other things.

It was very white. And not just white, but a much more buttoned down white. Not overly stiff, just all khakified and button-down shirtified. I wondered how well an outsider who might be a little "different" might feel walking into such a church.

The guest speaker read a selected Scripture from Mark, and then proceeded to give a message incorporating the Tale of the Three Trees. Huh? I believe the United Methodist church usually has a scheduled portion of Scripture that is supposed to be read in a certain order throughout the year, so I get the reading. But, why veer off into a sermon using an illustration that isn't even Scriptural?

The sermon was actually pretty good despite being based on a folk tale. The speaker managed to weave in other Scriptures to make his point, so it wasn't completely off the wall. He delivered his message well. Still ....The Three Trees?

I brushed all that aside because he was just a guest after all, but I was left wondering about what was important to me in a church.

How important is the diversity of a church? How much weight should "comfortableness" have in making a decision about a church? What is the most important aspect to consider when choosing a church body with which to associate--the pastor, the worship, fellowship, outreach?

Maybe I could come up with a complicated equation to measure and weigh the various aspects of a church and give it a rating.

Let's see...you get a "9" for the worship..."1" for the corny jokes the pastor told..."7" for the friendliness factor..."5" for the decor--I mean, really, mauve is so 80's....and an "8" for the children's ministry because you stuffed my kids with Goldfish, sang "Pharoah, Pharoah, woah, woah, let my people go....yeah, yeah, yeah yeah", knocked down a wall of blocks to represent Jericho's wall and they were happy when I picked them up.

whaddya think?
It's a beautiful day.

November is always the beginning of the best time to be in Florida. It doesn't rain every day. The humidity drops. The temps float between 75-80 F during the day. The sky is a bright blue. Mornings are cool and crisp--anywhere from 55-65 F.

We made it through another sticky, steamy season and have about six months to enjoy the great weather.

yay!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hillary Clinton--Our Next President

Last night, in between passing out handfuls of candy, I watched a recap of the Democratic Party's debate. Of particular interest was the spar with Hillary Clinton. They showed snippets of the exchanges and had commenters dissect what happened and how it would affect the Clinton campaign and the Democratic primary.

At issue were two points of contention; the de-classifying of documents between Hillary and Bill from the Clinton administration, and the issuing of driver's licenses to illegal immigrants--proposed by the governor of New York.

Regarding the first issue: It's just dumb. There is nothing unusual about documents being archived and classified during an administration and afterward, especially documents between the First Lady and the President. Obama said something really dumb about how we were coming from one of the most secret administrations ever--Bush--and everything should be laid out in the open. OK. Sure.....I can see how what Hillary and Bill wrote to each other is as important as national security! whatever. I can't believe that anyone would take that seriously.

The second issue: Hillary tried to walk the line between flat-out opposing licenses for illegals and supporting the current governor of the state, in which she is a senator, and who is also a fellow Democrat.

Her opponents all turned on her at his point, accusing her of double-talk and contradicting herself, but I don't think it will really hurt her.

I think Hillary is going to win the Democrat's nomination. I also think she's going to win the election next year.

As a Republican, I should be bothered by that, but I'm not. I actually think her winning could be a good thing for the country, and it has less to do with her politics and more to do with her personality.

Hillary wants it. She wants to be president more than anyone else up for it. She has been aiming for this for a long time. Nothing has gotten in her way...not a philandering husband, not constant ridicule during her time in the White House, not her long-shot bid for senator in New York when she first started her political career. You can't pay someone enough to care that much about something.

The same desire to make it that far, will keep her most liberal leanings under wraps, making her look more like a liberal Republican....not very different from half the Republicans already running for president. She wants a legacy. She wants to be the first woman who not only got elected, but did a great job in office.

The only way to do that is to learn the art of compromise and moderation.

I think she just might do it.

Interesting Graph: Wealth and Religiosity

Apparently, as nations become more wealthy, they tend to become less religious. The US, however, doesn't fall as neatly into the graph and is noticeably out of line according to its wealth.

I think that's interesting on many levels.

The comments about the graph are interesting to read through...although they do start to get a bit technical at some points.

Happy Belated Halloween

Last night I feared no ghouls or goblins, what with being escorted by two superheroes from different comic book universes. Any Marvel or DC villains were sure to be warded off by my powerful bodyguards!


"soooo...what's it like to stick to walls? "


"uh oh.....I think Braniac is on his way with a ship made from Kryptonite!"

My brave duo was rewarded with a cache of refined sugar which has a street value of $1.8 million dollars.

I've already started free-basing the chocolate.