Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Thanksgiving

How many bloggers are blogging about Thanksgiving today? Not particularly original. Can anything more be said about thankfulness, gratitude, or appreciation?

Years ago I heard Maya Angelou speak at a conference; national teachers' conferences or other academic groups like to get keynote speakers like Angelou. I'm pretty sure it was her "sugar stick" (an old term preachers would use about their best, most practiced, most likely to bring 'em down the aisle sermon). I am not a big fan of Angelou; I've always thought she was a product of her own imagination. But she said something I thought was very profound that day. "The most fundamental of all virtues is courage." She made a good argument fthat all other virtues are made possible by courage, and I'm still inclined to agree. But the other day I read a quote by Cicero, "Gratitude is the most basic of virtues and the one from which all others come."

So who is right? I think Angelou is right in terms of public virtues, and Cicero is right in terms of private, and spiritual, virtue. This is to say I need more of both.

But today I'm thankful that:
1. My son arrived home from college safely.
2. We could celebrate with steaks for dinner.
3. I have five days off to write and study.
4. My mother is still alive and spending Thanksgiving with us.
5. For a job I enjoy.
6. For this country, which despite the liberal media's views, is not run by Nazis and is based on a legal system that will not allow it (and I hope people who will not allow it).

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hypocrisy

I fear hypocrisy. I fear it in myself and in others, but as I can't see anyone's heart, I am not always aware of it in others.

The HYPOCRITES of the New Testament were the Pharisees, of course; at least that is one of the easiest pairings we make when discussing this subject. Hypocrites exhibit the following, according to Jesus in Matthew 23:
1. Hypocrites expect more of others than they give or do v. 4.
2. They don’t look at the long-term consequences of their ideas and actions, just the outer appearance and short-term image5-6
3. They are all about exclusion v 13
4. They don’t get their hands dirty v. 14
5. Hypocrites are more about arguing for their side and being right than seeing another’s side or doing right v.15
6. They miss the priorities in God’s kingdom v. 23
7. They look for evil in others but not themselves.v.25-27
8. They are not honest with themselves.29ff

The last one of this list, dishonesty with one's self, is the most common today. In my 52 years of living, there are a few things I've learned from experience that I consider pretty indisputable, and this is one of them: Humans are masters of self-deception. And the more isolated we are from others, the more masterful at self-deception we will become. Isolation--whether helped by the Internet or other media--keeps us from interaction with others whom we might rub up against in our givenness, our real humanness. Isolation is not the way we were designed to live (an evolutionists would even agree with that; humans have always existed in small social units), and our increasing isolation and dependence on mediated communication is a sign of great sickness.

My fear of hypocrisy, of being someone at Brainerd Baptist Church who I'm not at home who I'm not at the grocery store who I'm not at Dalton State College--motivates me to integrity and wholeness, the opposite of hypocrisy.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Return to blogging

I have become the slave of busy-ness, the victim of too much of a good thing. And as such I have been unable to blog, to read, to reflect, to exercise, to do what is most important. I have thought about returning to graduate school--why, so I can work harder? Don't I work hard enough? don't I have a life other than work?

Am I the only person who struggles with balance in life? No. Why we do is a mystery. Imbalance seems to be the natural bent of humans, but not of nature; perhaps as we have grown farther and farther away from a relationship with the natural world, we have become less and less able to live a life in balance.

Is there a solution, then? Go back to farming. Well, yes, in a sense. I don't think we can find balance within the way we are living. We need something more radical, and radical means roots. We must at least look at the packedness, the insanity of our schedules in a different light.

How to Fight November

I realized a few years ago that when the time changed in the November it began a four-month battle for me. Well, I should say seven weeks, r...