Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Let us sing praise to Normal!


I often wake up with a song stuck in my head. It varies from hymns to pop music to old children's ditties to commercial jingles, who knows? Today, no song, but almost like a chant, "Normal. Normal. Normal."

I began a distressing stomach virus in the wee hours of Saturday morning. My husband got it, too, starting Monday morning. Although I started recovering by Sunday, and even went back to work Monday, I did not wake up feeling normal until this morning. My stomach feels NORMAL. My level of energy is NORMAL. My appetite is NORMAL. My interest in the world around me is NORMAL. How glorious, how marvelous is normal! May our lives be filled with many blessedly normal days.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Eggs and Toast Like Bread and Wine

I listened today to a podcast of Carrie Newcomer being interviewed by Krista Tippet on "On Being." In one of her songs, "Betty's Diner," there's a line I love, "eggs and toast like bread and wine." It's in the chorus:
Here we are all in one place
The wants and wounds of the human race
Despair and hope sit face to face
When you come in from the cold
Let her fill your cup with something kind
Eggs and toast like bread and wine
She’s heard it all so she don’t mind
Back in the days of discussions and arguments in church circles about women in office, I had a dream that stuck with me. In the dream I was serving dinner at my home to a bunch of church friends and I said (well, yelled) at one man, "Don't you know that every time I serve food to you, I'm serving communion?!"

I was thinking we should call our potlucks "Holy Potlucks." What do you think? I've been kind of fascinated lately by the idea of eating together being holy. It keeps coming up. I wrote about Richard Mouw talking about the family meal in his book about Abraham Kuyper, as one way to prepare children for citizenship. It came up the other day in a meeting when someone said that he felt that sharing food was a good way to build community. The need to sit and eat together seems to come up fairly often now.

Good food for thought. Har har.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Mine! Mine! Mine!

Today I read about Letter 21 in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I copied it below. It made me think of the "Finding Nemo" scene in the file above, but also the quote from Abraham Kuyper, "There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!"

Not a tiny little nanosecond, either.

(In case you're not familiaar with it, The Screwtape Letters is a conversation between one demon, Screwtape, and another, his nephew, Wormwood. Screwtape is instructing his nephew in ways that he can twist believers' thoughts around and away from their faith.)


Yes. A period of sexual temptation is an excellent time for working in a subordinate attack on the patient's peevishness. It may even be the main attack, as long as he thinks it the subordinate one. But here, as in everything else, the way must be prepared for your moral assault by darkening his intellect.

Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied. The more claims on life, therefore, that your patient can be induced to make, the more often he will feel injured and, as a result, ill-tempered. Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. It is the unexpected visitor (when he looked forward to a quiet evening), or the friend's talkative wife (turning up when he looked forward to a tête-à-tête with the friend), that throw him out of gear. Now he is not yet so uncharitable or slothful that these small demands on his courtesy are in themselves too much for it. They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption "My time is my own". Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours. Let him feel as a grievous tax that portion of this property which he has to make over to his employers, and as a generous donation that further portion which he allows to religious duties. But what he must never be permitted to doubt is that the total from which these deductions have been made was, in some mysterious sense, his own personal birthright.

You have here a delicate task. The assumption which you want him to go on making is so absurd that, if once it is questioned, even we cannot find a shred of argument in its defence. The man can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift; he might as well regard the sun and moon his chattels. He is also, in theory, committed a total service of the Enemy; and if the Enemy appeared to him in bodily form and demanded that total service for even one day, he would not refuse. He would be greatly relieved if that one day involved nothing harder than listening to the conversation of a foolish woman; and he would be relieved almost to the pitch of disappointment if for one half-hour in that day the Enemy said "Now you may go and amuse yourself". Now if he thinks about his assumption for a moment, even he is bound to realise that he is actually in this situation every day. When I speak of preserving this assumption in his mind, therefore, the last thing I mean you to do is to furnish him with arguments in its defence. There aren't any. Your task is purely negative. Don't let his thoughts come anywhere near it. Wrap a darkness about it, and in the centre of that darkness let his sense of ownership-in-Time lie silent, uninspected, and operative.

The sense of ownership in general is always to be encouraged. The humans are always putting up claims to ownership which sound equally funny in Heaven and in Hell and we must keep them doing so. Much of the modern resistance to chastity comes from men's belief that they "own" their bodies - those vast and perilous estates, pulsating with the energy that made the worlds, in which they find themselves without their consent and from which they are ejected at the pleasure of Another! It is as if a royal child whom his father has placed, for love's sake, in titular command of some great province, under the real rule of wise counsellors, should come to fancy he really owns the cities, the forests, and the corn, in the same way as he owns the bricks on the nursery floor.

We produce this sense of ownership not only by pride but by confusion. We teach them not to notice the different senses of the possessive pronoun - the finely graded differences that run from "my boots" through "my dog", "my servant", "my wife", "my father", "my master" and "my country", to "my God". They can be taught to reduce all these senses to that of "my boots", the "my" of ownership. Even in the nursery a child can be taught to mean by "my Teddy-bear" not the old imagined recipient of affection to whom it stands in a special relation (for that is what the Enemy will teach them to mean if we are not careful) but "the bear I can pull to pieces if I like". And at the other end of the scale, we have taught men to say "My God" in a sense not really very different from "My boots", meaning "The God on whom I have a claim for my distinguished services and whom I exploit from the pulpit - the God I have done a corner in".

And all the time the joke is that the word "Mine" in its fully possessive sense cannot be uttered by a human being about anything. In he long run either Our Father or the Enemy will say "Mine" of each thing that exists, and specially of each man. They will find out in the end, never fear, to whom their time, their souls, and their bodies really belong - certainly not to them, whatever happens. At present the Enemy says "Mine" of everything on the pedantic, legalistic ground that He made it: Our Father hopes in the end to say "Mine" of all things on the more realistic and dynamic ground of conquest,

Your affectionate uncle


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Haters gonna hate

I like "Pioneer Woman." My sister told me about her before she started her television show, and I started following her blog. Now I DVR her shows as well.

Somehow a few days ago I found a couple blogs of Pioneer Woman haters. Wow. I don't even want to find them again. What is the deal? Why would people spend time writing such hateful things like that? They seem to be on a mission to somehow prove she's fake or something.

Why do they even care so much? I just don't get it. What has she ever done that is so bad? They hate her so much they actively expend time and energy to spread their malice toward her to others. They scheme, collude and think about ways to live out their hatred toward another person.

I've seen the phenomenon of "haters" in other situations, too. Even among Christians. When that happens, I'm really confounded.

I know we're all sinners, and I know I am just as guilty as the next person of being a sinner. Gossip, boasting, unkindness, hypocritical acts, envy, jealousy, and much more; I know it happens among Christians, too. But I often remember how they -- the Christians, and believers in other faiths, as well as many who don't claim any faith -- show their love underneath it all when someone has a need.

The hate, though, it's tough to get over.

Somehow a lot of unkind things are sort of passive in comparison to what I am thinking of as what haters do. It's easy to slip into, to ignore or try not to participate in things like gossip. But actively thinking of ways to spread their hate, calling others to fan the flames of hatred in others, coming up with ideas of "better" ways to be hateful.

It makes me sad.

I'll remember Brad's words today. Thy will be done. Practice prayer.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

"Gone to the fields to be lovely."

Camas Lilies
by Lynn Ungar
Consider the lilies of the field,
the blue banks of camas opening
into acres of sky along the road.
Would the longing to lie down
and be washed by that beauty
abate if you knew their usefulness,
how the native ground their bulbs
for flour, how the settlers' hogs
uprooted them, grunting in gleeful
oblivion as the flowers fell?
And you—what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it all down—
papers, plans, appointments, everything—
leaving only a note: "Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I'm through blooming."
Even now, unneeded and uneaten,
the camas lilies gaze out above the grass
from their tender blue eyes.
Even in sleep your life will shine.
Make no mistake. Of course
your work will always matter.
Yet Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.
I read this poem in this little article on the "On Being" page. It is good to think of, especially for me this week when I was all about doing.