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Showing posts from 2014

Boxing Day (Recycled Post)

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[I originally posted this during the A to Z Challenge in April 2013, but recently it has been getting some hits, so because people seem to be interested, here is a timely review of Boxing Day.]

December 26 is a national holiday known as Boxing Day in Australia, the UK, New Zealand, and Canada. Many people do not really understand the historical meaning of this holiday (kind-of like Christmas and Easter!), believing it to have arisen from the need to empty the house of empty gift boxes the day after Christmas. Rather, from what I can tell, December 25th was traditionally the date upon which people exchanged gifts with their equals – family and friends; while the 26th was a day for alms – when people gave gifts to those subservient to them, such as employees, servants, and the poor.
Honestly, I think Boxing Day has a more applicable meaning than our current translation of Christmas Day to the true spirit of Christmas. Christmas honors the historic moment when God became incarnate in hum…

Reading Through 2014; and Some Comments on Consolmagno's "Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?"

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After completing my graduate degree coursework in September 2013, I decided to use 2014 to catch up on my reading for fun (instead of primarily for assignments)!! One of my year-long goals was to read at least one book per two weeks. I am now in the midst of my twenty-sixth, so...CHECKMATE! ;) I even caught up on a few classics I'd never had time for. Overall, I'm very satisfied with my year of reading.

Here are the books I read this year:

1) The Long Ships by Frans Bengtsson
2) A Better Atonement by Tony Jones
3) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
4) The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
5) Dorothy Parker: Complete Stories
6) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
7) Wicked by Gregory Maguire
8) Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler
9) Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
10) Three Lives by Gertrude Stein
11) The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
12) Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen
13) Southern Living: Easy Gardening (Spring 2010)
14) Russian Fairy Ta…

An Advent Lesson on Loving the Not-Particularly-Lovable

There comes a limit to my compassion, my understanding, my friendship...my love. Especially when it seems someone kicks and screams against it...or misuses or takes advantage of it.

In my entire life there have been MAYBE 10-12 people with whom I have particularly not meshed...people toward whom, for some reason or other, I found it difficult to live out the love of Christ. Or even just my own love. I'm a pretty loving person, after all...generally speaking.

But yeah, there have been times when, though I didn't not love someone, I chose to be selfish rather than giving...perhaps the person needed me and I chose to be lazy or self-serving rather than go the extra mile to do something for them. I have a couple of regrets in this area, in fact. But I'm talking about the people against whom I would rather take revenge. Someone from whom I would like to withhold love, in order to punish them, or at least in order to just "be done" with them in order to protect mysel…

7QT - Creepy (and not-so-creepy) Thrift Store Finds, Advent Reflections, and Endings

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---1--- I have not done 7QT in so long...but I have been collecting snapshots for a little Take I've been planning on CREEPY THRIFT STORE FINDS:






---2--- Speaking of thrift store finds (but non-creepy ones this time), I learned a little more about my icon egg.
I discovered (from the Cross on the back of the egg) that it is Russian Orthodox in origin, and through a little more digging found that it is Our Lady of Kazan, or Holy Protectress of Russia. One Internet source said it was a tradition for mothers to present this icon to their daughters when they became brides, as a Protectress for the new couple's home. It made me like it even more that I acquired it :). ---3--- I posted on Facebook a couple of months ago: I realized it was about this time last year that I was struggling SO MUCH, and no one knew. I was trying to pay my bills and live, but I had been paying rent, car insurance, a ridiculous buy-here-pay-here car payment, phone, and utilities, and living on ramen l…

The Spell of Shattered Sight

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I am a Once Upon a Time fan - it is one of the handful of television shows I keep up with on Hulu. It often makes me think theologically. In the most recent episode [season 4, episode 9], for instance, Ingrid casts the spell of shattered sight on Anna; the purpose of the spell has always been to distort people's perceptions of what they see. Theologically, it makes me second-guess myself. The literal rendering of the Bible passages that speak of God allowing people to "believe a lie and be damned" or "turning them over to a reprobate mind" has always caused me fear - would God actually allow me to be deceived because I dared think outside the box of legalistic religion?

I don't think so. But I still have a few remnants of that insecurity.

And then on the road searching for Emma, Mary Margaret and Regina have a conversation about whoever wrote the book in which their lives have been chronicled. Regina is convinced that the author decided Mary Margaret was…

7QT - Thrift Shop Icon Eggs and Solitaire-y Ne'er-Do-Wells.

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---1--- Over the last few weeks I have been reading the two-book series of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. (I took a break this past week because I needed to focus on midterms.) But the books were inspired by old photographs found in bins at thrift stores and flea markets...you've probably seen them. I thought it was a great idea!! So today I went to a thrift store and finally found some here in town (I found some in the town I previously lived in, too, but these are the first I've come across here.) I found a few gems. I'll show you below!  ---2--- I also found the following two intriguing. 
---3--- And this one here?? Yeah. It looks all normal and everything....

But turn it around, and...
---4--- The thrift store I went to was a new one to me, and I thought it was kind-of cool. They also had figurines of this Nigerian Santa:  And this obviously Pentecostal angel: ---5--- And this. I thought this was really cool and bought it. It is a wooden egg a…

Late Ottoman Discussion Contrasting Science and Religion

Occaaaaasionally (read: often), I stalk my professors online...not so much in a scary way as to see where/what they studied, what they have written, etc. This semester I found some papers by one of my professors via Academia.edu. One of the papers caught my attention as being right up my alley. It was an analysis of a debate between two Arabic intellectuals in the late Ottoman period, concerning whether science or religion was more likely to yield truth.

Note: I did not read the debate myself; I only read my professor's analysis. For the more in-depth and knowledgeable analysis of the debate, read his paper (linked above). Here, I will summarize the debate as he presented it and discuss it in my own way.

The debate took place between Celal Nuri and Sehbenderzade Ahmed Hilmi in 1913. Nuri, a prominent public intellectual, posited (through a whole book!) that nothing metaphysical exists, so any philosophy not founded on scientific revelation is basically nothing more than an abstr…

Judgment With Grace for a Mass Murderer

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I'm still reading Mission at Nuremberg by Tim Townsend. It follows Army Chaplains Gerecke and O'Connor as they minister to the major Nazi war criminals on trial at Nuremberg after World War II. I'm about 250 pages in, and so far it has described each chaplain's trek to enstationment at Nuremberg, as well as each criminal's activities to warrant his position in a cell on the first floor of the Palace of Justice. The trials have been examined in brief, as well as the criminals' past and present relations to Hitler, the Nazi Party, and their own families. The verdicts and sentences have been given, with major prison stints and 11 orders of "death by hanging" in the midst. And now Townsend talks a little theology, particularly having to do with the Brand of Cain from Genesis 4.


Following is an excerpt:
“The [writer in Genesis 4] brings murder into the primeval history pretty quickly, and things go badly for people from there onward. Cain is a farmer who …

"Robin Williams Was a Coward and Is Probably in Hell"

Okay, so I know this is "old news" already, but I need to say something concerning Robin Williams. Most of what I read/heard about his death was nothing short of loving, compassionate, and sorrowful to learn of the deep despair he experienced. But those views that were critical were really grating to me - to use a cliche, like nails on a chalkboard. I'm not going to link to any of those critical viewpoints here, because I don't wish to give them any more publicity; but you know what I'm talking about - Rush Limbaugh, the news anchor dude who referred to Williams as a coward and then apologized because people expressed disapproval of his viewpoint, and Matt Walsh, among others.
First, the reason I even felt the need to address it here is that all this harmful noise reminds us that there is still a rampant disregard and stigmatism out there for the legitimacy of mental illness (including depression), even in the mainstream. Second, I just can't understand som…

Redemption for a Nazi?

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I'm reading Mission at Nuremberg by Tim Townsend. In the opening chapter he describes Chaplain Gerecke's moments in prayer with Nazi Keitel in the moments before he was hanged for his war crimes against humanity. Townsend describes Keitel's soldier-like demeanor throughout his trial and emprisonment, but how he broke into uncontrollable sobs while Gerecke prayed with him in his cell. At the hour of his death his mask of pride crumbled. I would assume the illusion fell before the realization that he would imminently face spiritual judgment for his sins.
In the debate over the morality of capital punishment, I know traditionally the Conservatives are for the death penalty, while Liberals are against it. I am unsure where I fall on the spectrum, but I know I am glad I don't have to make the decision for someone to die; that in itself might weigh on my conscience as indirect murder.
But in thinking of this description of Keitel's last moments, and knowing that most …

7QT - Green Things, Fun Things, and New Things!

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---1--- Haven't posted in forever, but I've been up to all kinds of stuff! Planted a lot of things, in the front flower beds and in containers on the back deck. I did a fairy garden, too!
I planted a few succelents in it and left them a little room to grow. One or two of them are doing good, but the neighborhood stray cats have dug up one or two of the others....  (I think the fairies are not doing their job very well.)
---2--- We planted tomatoes and cucumbers in the back. The cucumbers don't seem to be doing well at all. The tomatoes are doing a little better. We have harvested four and seem to have two or three more growing, as well as a lot of flowering. We'll see...! (The plants are quite a lot taller now; this was when we first planted.) ---3---   One of the front flower beds: And I did this. Let me tell you about this.  I read somewhere that you could put down newspaper around your plants to keep weeds from growing up, and the newspaper just turns into fer…

Review: Something Other Than God

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Minutes ago I finished reading Jennifer Fulwiler’s new book, Something Other Than God. I began following her blog somewhere around 2007 or 2008 and still eagerly await each post, so of course I got the book (Kindle version) as soon after publication as I could. And rather than write a post here, I thought about writing a review on Amazon along the lines of the following: “If you have ever asked yourself questions like, ‘What kind of people might be recruited to help a wounded yeti safely through a metropolitan area?’ or ‘How might I be able to really sock it to that smug-looking stuffed animal over there?’ or ‘I wonder if there is a way to make my ear canals a little sexier?’…well…you may have written this book. But if any of these questions piques your interest, you just might want to at least check it out….”But I decided against it, because honestly, this book is just too weighty to sum up in a few humorous (and slightly stretched…?) sentences. While it made me laugh a few times, th…

The Glory of the Blood

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I reread Mathew 27 today in honor of Good Friday. Afterward I had a song in my head I haven't heard in years, Avalon's "The Glory of the Blood." In it, there is a line that refers to, "the heart of the story: the glory of the blood."
Lately I'm rethinking my stance on the Atonement and substitutionary sacrifice and all that, but haven't come to a firm conclusion yet. But I was trying to think of the theology of this lyric in harmony with a more liberal view of atonement.
There is undeniably a bloody thread of salvation through Scripture. In the Old Testament animals paid the price to temporarily "buy" forgiveness for people's sins against God and each other. Then, of course, there was Jesus, about whom Scripture says He gave "His life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 2:6, etc.)
Interestingly, there is reference in Revelation, too, to the blood of saints/prophets/martyrs (chapters 16, 17, 18). The Early Church F…

On The Origin of Species

Let us reexamine that profoundly fascinating question of old, shall we?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

Did the primordial goo spring up into a chicken, or did it spring up into separate specimens (for every species) of an egg and a sperm that somehow found each other, got all mingled up and incubated in the right way, and lived happily ever after as one little feathery clucker? And how is it that more chickens came after the first - was that first chicken already successfully equipped, without the evolutionary wait, with a functioning reproductive system? How else did successive, evolving numbers of chickens (as well as every other species) appear?

These thoughts sprang to my mind the other day as I pondered the rare treasure of the double-yolked egg. That got me wondering if twins skip a generation in chickens, too, so one of the egg's grandchickens may have been a twin, too. :)

As I've previously mentioned, I have a reading goal this year of st last one bo…

Learning an Art (or, Learning AND Art?)

I'm still reading Anna Karenina, but now I am closer to 700 pages in. I just finished reading one of the two more poignant scenes to me so far. This scene, like the earlier one that struck me, is a vivid illustration of a philosophical idea Tolstoy apparently believes in and expresses through his characters and their conversations. The earlier situation involved, through the evolution of more than one chapter/scene, the character Levin's development of his theory of how Russian agriculture might be improved. Through various interactions with people, witnessing of strangers' reactions to the work, and ideas clicking during conversation, Tolstoy outlines Levin's progression of thought on the subject. The more recent scene that moved me involves the inner workings of a natural-born artist (Mihailov) as compared with one who admires and studies and attempts through "technique" to, well, mimic, this unteachable instinct (Vronsky). Mihailov's creative process…

Kaleidoscope

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I love symmetry and color and art. When I was a kid I was enthralled by kaleidoscopes. We even made them a couple of times, maybe in school or girl scouts or something...best project ever! As a teenager I listened a lot to dcTalk, who sang about racial harmony with the lyrics, "My God's design / We are a skin kaleidoscope." To me that said all that needed said: diversity = beauty.

One form of kaleidoscopic art that enthralls me as an adult is the mural mosaic. There are a few websites out there devoted to these, including muralmosaic.blogspot.com and muralmosaic.com. Here are a few of my favorites I found from a quick image search:




I even found a brief tutorial from Lewis Lavoie on how to make them:


I think it would be really cool to take all the photographs oneself of things relevant to the "big picture" and make one of these. I might just make it a long-term project!

7QT: reJuvenations, Jams, and Jokes

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---1--- Junk to Jewels! Okay, well, not junk exactly. But definitely a refurbishment! Today I took a couple of barstools we had and turned them into some sleek little end tables for the little house we will be moving into next month. Trying to save space, and I think these do the trick!


---2--- ...I can't even think of a proper "J" title for this Take...except maybe "jeez!!"  ---3---  Joy! I had a phone interview last week for the graduate program I have been looking at for a couple of years now. I was accepted, and will be moving to Maryland, close to both DC and Baltimore, for school at the beginning of 2015! I'm going to work on my second master's degree, this one a Master of Thanatology. There are only two graduate degree programs in Thanatology in the country, one in Wisconsin (I think?) and this one in Maryland. I decided it was time I ventured out of the Midwest, so I'm very excited about this new opportunity! This second master's wil…