Terrible Tuesday: Goals

My goal: to cross the January 31 finish line if I have to drag myself across. Seriously, January, what’s your deal? This is why February only has 28 days, we all need a break after January.

Interminable month links!

A.A. Milne reads Winnie-the-Pooh.

On it’s face, using the Bible to make a papier-mâché mask is tacky. However, it has resulted in the discovery of earliest known copy of the gospel of Luke, so yay for arts and crafts!

Hero baby. Baby hero?

A Superbowl game for those who don’t want to watch the Superbowl: be the last (hu)man to hear who won the game.

theirre

If organizing was on your resolution list, here are 50 ideas to organize your home.

The source of petrichor discovered! And filmed!

Breathtaking images: Gems under the microscope.

NASA released the largest ever image of the celestial neighbor the Andromeda galaxy.

Freedom to be a fool

After the attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, many people were reluctant to give unreserved support for the victims because they’ve printed offense and outrageous things about many religions. In fact, some people said, in essence, sure killing people is awful but they got what was coming to them. The pope went on about punching people in the nose, and in general people missed the point.

Support for freedom of speech does not require you endorse the speech. In fact, you can abhor the speech or find idiotic and still support its expression.

freespeechoffense

Case in point, the editor in chief of Charlie Hebdo thinks religion should be banned from the public sphere and that, “Secularism allows all believers and not-believers to live in peace and that is what we defend.” Ah, the peace of “Shut up.” No, thank you. (Also, those lovely secular paradises of the Former Soviet Union, Cuba, and a host of other totalitarian states seem to refute your argument, n’est pas?)

I supported the release of The Interview and was appalled at the companies involved for running scared, but the movie is most likely a mindless piece of tripe, and Seth Rogen is an idiot. (No, I’m not spending my scarce entertainment resources on that.)

But both the writers at Charlie Hebdo and Rogen have the right to say and print stupid things and not fear for their well being. “Say what you want, but you run the risk of being killed and we’re not going to do anything about it” is not support of free speech. At best it’s apathy; at worst it’s hypocrisy.

The whole point of civilization is that we don’t allow people to go on rampages raping, looting and killing for any reason, even hurt feelings. Saying, “You can’t say anything offensive about religion” is stupid because every religion is blasphemous to every other religion, and that includes atheism. A civilized society–a free society–says you don’t have the right not to be offended, but you also don’t have to fear for your life, liberty or property is you offend someone else. Support for free speech for idiots like Rogen and that editor is also support for free speech for those I mostly agree with, for those I somewhat agree with, and for me. And when anyone gets upset, they just have to scratch their mad place, as my mom says. If that scratching means boycotting, protesting, writing angry diatribes, or whatever speech you want, have at it.  And I’ll support you, even if you’re an idiot.

Lewis on letting go

better things Lewis

This is a variation of a very popular C.S. Lewis quote. Lewis is, of course, highly quotable, but the context of the quotes is where the real meat lies. Lewis had an enormous correspondence, and one of his pen-pals was an American woman Mary Willis Shelburne. His letters to her are collected in the slim but wonderful book Letters to an American Lady.  This is the context of the above quote, from a letter dated June 17, 1963–just 5 months before his death.

Pain is terrible, but surely you need not have fear as well? Can you not see death as the friend and deliverer? It means stripping off that body which is tormenting you: like taking off a hair- shirt or getting out of a dungeon. What is there to be afraid of? You have long attempted (and none of us does more) a Christian life. Your sins are confessed and absolved. Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.

Remember, though we struggle against things because we are afraid of them, it is often the other way round—we get afraid be- cause we struggle. Are you struggling, resisting? Don’t you think Our Lord says to you ‘Peace, child, peace. Relax. Let go. Underneath are the everlasting arms. Let go, I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?’

Of course, this may not be the end. Then make it a good rehearsal.

Yours (and like you a tired traveller near the journey’s end) Jack

Lewis famously enjoyed life’s little pleasures, his pipe, his pint, good company and good books. He loved life and the beauty and wonder of this world, and you can tell it in his writings. But you can also see how he held it lightly, particularly toward the end. I think he had very little difficulty with the letting go.

It’s bizarro land!

4th amend

The Justice Department does something I like! It’s madness! Attorney General Eric Holder announced the (almost) end of a program called Equitable Sharing, when state law enforcement seize private property under civil assets forfeiture and turns it over to the feds, who then kick back up to 80% to the state and local law enforcement.

I’ve written about civil forfeiture before, but basically it’s when the government seizes your property accusing it of being used in a crime, without charging you with a crime and therefore needing to prove your guilt in a court of law. Because you aren’t charged, they don’t have to obey the Constitution or state laws regarding due process. If you want your property back, you can spend money hiring lawyers and prove it’s innocent. Needless to say, this hits (is targeted at?) the less well off hard, because they don’t have the resources to fight.

Of all the civil forfeiture laws, the equitable sharing program is skeeviest because it lets state law enforcement evade state laws limiting or regulating assets forfeiture. Federal cops helping state and local cops get around state and local laws is slimy. Full stop.

So bully for Eric Holder for stopping (most) of this program. Now to stop the rest of civil forfeiture. Excelsior!

If you’re looking for more information, The Institute for Justice is the go-to place for fighting civil forfeiture and fighting for reform.

Look, a celebratory dance by a Dover police officer! Let justice prevail!

Fine Arts Friday: music and such

This term, Ambleside has a really fun collection of music for children this term. You should check out their sight for all the selections. But it made me think of a very fun CD and book my sister got for Little Miss for Christmas, The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket. We listened to it on the way home from our Christmas get together and it was a blast. It’s like Peter and the Wolf with more snark.

The artist for the term is Diego Velazquez. Ambleside has good links for more information and to high quality images, and I may one day have a slideshow here if my blog will cooperate. Fixed! I’m a regular whiz kid, minus the whiz part. And the kid part. There’s currently a baby slideshow in the sidebar, but that will only be there for this term. Gotta keep up with the times! Except I don’t.  Even though January is halfway over, we’re just now looking at hymns and folk songs. I’m beginning to accept the fact that I’ll never catch up.

Anyway.

The January hymn is “Come Down, O Love Divine.” This version by Fernando Ortega is lovely.

The folk song is “I’m Seventeen Come Sunday” which is apparently really big with high school music departments, but here’s an interesting version. (There’s about ten seconds of silence at the beginning.)

 

Magnifiers

The late Larry Burkett, noted Christian financial teacher, said that money is a magnifier. Whatever you are, gets bigger. If you are generous, abundance will result in more abundance. If you’re greedy, abundance will result in greater greed.

That’s true of money, but it’s also true of a lot of other things, both good and bad. Difficult situations are obviously magnifiers, but good times are as well. And people? People are the biggest magnifiers of all.

sanctifier

Stressful situations (and good things can be stressful, too, for example a new baby) are magnifiers, but they can be more than that: they can be refiners. Our instinctual reactions, our hopes and fears, everything true about us rises to the surface in stressful times. And that can be upsetting. Is that what I’m really like? Am I really so short tempered, ungrateful, or fearful? But it doesn’t just have to be an ugly reflection we want to ignore,  it can act as a diagnostic test to help us get better. We can see where we’re strong and where we’re weak; where we’ve grown and where we’re tiny, spoiled toddlers throwing a tantrum.

St. Paul actually encourages us to rejoice in our sufferings because it works to refine us. No, seriously. “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who as been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 ESV

So the idea that this diagnostic stress testing is biblical and leading to a really good end, which hopefully makes you feel better when your facing all your warty attributes in the mirror.

 

Road-casts

Home, glorious home! With my wonderful family! And my ridiculous dog! Yay, home!

camping

The road from here to my hometown is long and dull, so I passed the time listening to podcasts and audiobooks. I thought I’d share a little of my listening menu, mainly because I’m tired and my brain can’t think of anything else to blog.

My usual podcast fare includes Strange Worlds Travelogue, This American Life, Radiolab, Freakonomics, The Read Aloud Revival, Hardcore History, and The Ace of Spades Podcast. That last one shouldn’t be listened to around children. Or public places. Basically, you need to use your headphones; Ace has a potty mouth. But it’s a fun and interesting take on politics and culture from the right. I don’t listen to This American Life around the kids, either, because the subject matter is often not kid-friendly.

My sister introduced me to Snap Judgment. I listened to the year end “clip show” and really enjoy it. I look forward to more episodes.  I also started listening to the History of the English Language. If you are a hardcore grammar or language nerd, you’ll probably love this show. Who knew an hour long discussion of pronouns could be so interesting? (Yes, I’m a hardcore nerd.)

I also got caught up on my Odyssey and tried to listen to Frankenstein. I’m not sure that one will take, honestly. I know it’s a classic and all that jazz, but the style is hard to listen to. Maybe it will be easier to read, which will happen… eventually. Or maybe I’ll try again when it’s not late and dark, and I’m 275 miles into a 330 mile drive. That might help. Incidentally, I got that Audible book for less than three dollars because I got the free Kindle version first.

In addition to when I’m driving, I like to listen to podcasts when doing any task that doesn’t require a lot of brain power: cleaning, shopping, and exercising come to mind. And I know I’m exercising enough if I’m caught up on all my podcasts. It’s handy!

Do you listen to podcasts? What are your favorites?

Terrible Tuesday: schedule off-kilter

I’m in my hometown visiting my parents for a few days. After one week stumbling around a post-holiday routine, I’m on my parents’ non-schedule schedule. I think the rule is that for every one day of your regular schedule, it takes three to get back on. I’ll should be back on a regular routine just in time for spring break.

Cattywampus links!

Speaking of schedules, what to do when your schedule falls apart.

The ten best celestial events of 2015. You can check out number one on the list tonight. Unless you’re plagued by clouds, as I am. In the desert. Stupid clouds.

Bigger on the inside guest room! Want!

Also want!

lego lander

 Doctor Who is leaving Netflix at the end of the month. Let the binge watching begin!

Team Rubicon turns five. You need to read their story.

And that’s all I got.

Lingua franca

not afraid 2

The above picture is from huge Parisian rally the night of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo. At yesterday’s huge rally, American journalist Jake Tapper tweeted:

 

I was struck by these two English signs in the middle of French rallies, not that it’s surprising. English has become the Lingua Franca–the common language by which various peoples communicate–because of the power and influence of English speaking nations, specifically of America. But in reporting on the impressive gathering, Tapper also expressed his disappointment that no high level representatives of the American government attended. A huge portion of the free world gathered in solidarity, but the largest, most powerful nation in the free world declined to join them.

I’m no foreign policy expert, and my insight to this whole evil situation is basically, “Hell, no!”, but I sincerely hope our nation’s only contribution to facing this crisis of the Western World isn’t merely a common language for protest signs.

 

Reciting prayers

I am Protestant through and through. Moreover, I’m an American Evangelical. That means my prayers are spontaneous, unscripted, and required to have two to three “Father Gods” and at least three uses of “just” per prayer. While we may recite the Apostle’s creed once or twice a year and the Nicene Creed once a decade, scripted prayers are not part of our spiritual practice. I’m not entirely sure the rational behind this. Perhaps it’s to help ensure our faith is ours and not just a verbalization of another person’s faith (God doesn’t have grandkids, etc.) And of course, there is the Jesus’s exhortation not to “babble like the pagans” in Matthew 6:7, although this verse directly precedes the Lord’s Prayer, which evangelicals do recite. Eh, who needs theological consistency.

Honestly, I’m rather jealous of the written and recited prayers of other faith traditions with more formal liturgies. In stressful times, it’s nice to have someone else to fall back on and not have to form coherent thoughts, though I’m sure God can interpret my incoherence. (To be fair, this is why evangelicals emphasize scripture memorization. When you don’t know what else to pray, pray the Bible.) Like the Bible–though in a lesser, non-inspired way–it’s nice to be guided by the prayers of those who have walked before us. I think there is room in our lives for both the scripted and the spontaneous. Though maybe we could lose a few “justs.”

One of my favorite prayer is the so-called “Prayer of St. Francis” which is not by St. Francis, lovely though both he and the prayer are.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Do you have a favorite written prayer? Share!

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