Showing posts from November, 2008

Thoughts from Samuel 1 and 2

UnitedStatesians say "Second Samuel." UKers says "Two Samuel." I wonder why. It's really all one book, anyway, which I'll refer to as "Samuel."

Samuel must have been inspiration for a lot of Shakespeare. David and Saul's struggle is mythic and yet very modern. I can see it happening in corporate America.

The last twelve chapters or so are real downers, but there are some bright spots. Barzillai, the story of the three loyal men sneaking into Bethlehem to get David some water (which he offers to the LORD instead of drinking himself, which a modern would find rude but really isn't), and the encounter with Araunah the Jebusite. "I will not sacrifice to the Lord that which costs me nothing." That is a life verse if there ever was one.

Of course, there is also Bathsheba, Absalom, Amnon and Tamar, the census of the people, Joab's shenanigans, and the fellow's head being thrown over the wall. Rough times.

Speaking of rough…

Weekly Reader

I should probably sign in once a week and write about what I'm reading, that is, what's in my bookbag and/or on my nighttable that I either am struggling to get through or am looking for time to finish.
1. Sue Graston's latest Kinsey Milhone book, T is for Trespass. I love these books although I don't know why. They are not quite as good as the British detective novels (Susan George and the great P.D. James) but there is something about the voice of narrative. She knows herself and yet she doesn't.
2. Frederick Buechner's Then and Now. He, like Annie Dillard and Kathleen Norris, provide a view of Christian spirituality I desperately need. Most evangelical preaching and writing can be so . . . well, I can't think of any suitable words that aren't extremely negative. Anyway, I don't read much evangelical writing. (Thinking evangelicals don't read much of it either; they read nonevangelical writing and "translate it."
3. The Naked…

The Question of the Week

Who would have ever thought a return to 1994-2000 would qualify as change?

The more things change the more things stay the same, I guess.


I was looking through these posts and read the one from October 13 where I said I was so tired. Soon after that I went back to taking what I call my vegetable powder. It's actually Life Essence: The Master Multiple.
The stuff is amazing. I have so much more energy and consequently am quite upbeat--back to my Type A self. And since I have to drink it with at least a pint of water in the morning, it gets that part of me going (it does "green" the urine, though). Here's the link-- Free advertising.
I also take a cranberry pill for urinary tract health (sorry, but women need this advice), calcium, flaxseed and fish oil tablets, an aspirin, and B-12 pill in the morning.

Book idea

At this risk of giving away an idea, I have a great book project idea (to go along with my book on teaching in an open access colleges and on evangelical uses of deTocqueville). The name of this book would be All the Ways to Say He Died: Gleanings from the Obituaries.

I thought of this yesteday in reading, well, the obituaries of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Most of them say either "He died," "She passed away," or "He went home to be with the Lord." But there will occasionally be a unique one. I propose to go through the archives of obituaries and find all the interesting ways family members find to express the thought, "He's dead."

Case in point: "(Name), 82 years after being born in (Town--and by the way, a town very far from here) has left a gaping space in this world and in the hearts of her family and friends on Thursday, November 20, 2008."

Maybe I have a perverse sense of humor, but I find this funnt. Number One, …

The Most Depressing Bible Story

This week I had to teach (well, I was scheduled to teach based on SBC lit--I fudge a lot of times on that) the story of David and Bathsheba. What a sordid mess. Why did God put that in the Bible? It probably proves in and of itself that the Bible is not a totally man-made document--an ancient culture would never tell that story about its great warrrior king. And so what? Kings took other men's wives all the time back then. No big. And of course, Bathsheba was just a victim of women's oppression.


I think the story is there specifically to say no one is ever above the law. And Bathsheba is a hootchie if there ever was one. Let's not feel sorry for her. She saw her chance and took it--sleep her way to the top. I hope gossip followed her for the rest of her life.

I'm more interested in the story two chapters earlier. In the afterglow of being promised an eternal Heir over an eternal kingdom, David acts, as he could on his best days, like that eternal Heir. H…

Barna Rules (unfortunately)

If I hear another preacher quote Barna research about how apathetic and ungodly Christians are--I'll scream.

Perhaps people misquote Barna. Perhaps Barna wants to be misquoted. Perhaps Barna's research is questionable. I don't know. But all Barna does is find out how sorry we Christians are.

Well, yes, we are sorry. And we know it. Maybe we're more honest? Am I really to believe Christians watch as much internet porn as nonChristians? Who are these people Barna is interviewing? Maybe the nonChristians are lying about how much they watch?

It just doesn't add up to me.


A colleague of mine, a history prof, former military, New Jerseyite, baseball scholar, and all-round good guy asked me the other day how I was holding up. I should say he used to be the sponsor of the College Republicans. I knew what he meant. We had a good conversation commiserating.

Yet not despairing. This blog is sometimes unremittingly dark, and I apologize. I am greatly blessed and it is time to count them.

1. It is raining, hard, in Northwest Georgia. WE NEED RAIN.

2. The faculty development workshops I held today went well. The speaker did a nice job, a sizable number came out on a gooey Friday, and we even had food provided (a private joke for anyone who has ever tried to get food for a university system of Georgia function. The state is scared to death of abuse of privilege. Sandwiches for an advisory council hardly seems like fraud. Some of this stems from a Georgia Tech official charging $250,000 on the school credit card for personal expenses. The rest of us pe…

Fascinating Interview

On the Christianity Today website there is this link to the interview Catherine Falsani did with Barack Obama a few years ago. It's about his religious beliefs. It's very enlightening.

Now, I'm not going to criticize Obama for his religious beliefs. They are perfectly understandable, considering his upbringing. And I'm not one of those Christians who thinks the president has to believe just like I do. Most of them haven't, and there are other factors that affect one's performance as president other than his church affiliation. A lot of decent presidents have been ambiguous about that part of their lives, and it's only been since Jimmy Carter that we've much cared (well, people cared about Kennedy as a Catholic, maybe, but he discarded that problem by implying he really wasn't much of a Catholic anyway.)

But what strikes me about Obama's is that he is trying to please th…

Friend's blog

See for a blog on pro-life issues. Laura is a former student of mine; her husband Pedro hosts a news program on C-Span. She is very well informed on pro-life issues.

I have not taken the time to understand RSS feeds, so for now this is my way of linking to another blog!

Second Try

I could erase/delete the last (next one down) blog entry, but I'll keep it because it partially reflected my feelings about the election results. But only partially. I did not mean to imply that only "older" African-Americans (by that I supposed I meant older than me!) were the only ones who were affected by racism. I meant only to say they have been in the fight longer and had probably despaired of seeing a person of color in the Oval Office in their lifetimes, if ever. While it is hard for me to see how a person like Kobe Bryant or Tiger Woods or Oprah or even a young black person in college today has really been affected by racism, I know better. There is still a lot of racism in this country, just as there is discrimination against women. I sometimes feel that women make their own problems, however, with stupid decisions, than other groups do, so I set them apart. In the end, classism and moneyism rule the day.

Nor did I mean to take a stand on the second comi…

Oh, well, perhaps life will go on

I went to Birmingham today with a friend to visit the Birminham Museum of Art. It's magnificent. It contains many not-so-great works by great artists, but it's good to see those works anyway. For example, there is a Mary Cassatt (who doesn't like Mary Cassatt?), but it lacks the charm of all other Mary Cassatt paintings I have seen. There were some Rembrandt sketches; there is a Monet, but a pretty mediocre one; Gilbert Stuart, Rembrandt Peale, Benjamin West, Childe Hassam, Camille Pisarro, a Courbet, a Millet, a Corot, Dorothea Lange, Andy Warhol, N.C. Wyeth, and many others are represented. It was a nice surprise.

And one of my favorite paintings, Albert Bierstadt's Looking Down Yosemite Valley, was there. Ah, that was a joy. That luminism!

My friend is a borderline conspiracy theorist. She's one step away from saying Barack Obama is the anti-Christ. She's taking some kind of Bible prophecy class and insists on seeing Bible prophecy in everything. Me…

Movie Likeness

My top six favorite comedies are:
1. Some Like It Hot
2. What About Bob
3. Tootsie
4. Bowfinger
5. Napoleon Dynamite
6. Ed Wood

Two of them are about cross-dressing men. Two of them star Bill Murray. The fourth one is extremely underrated comedy about a horrible movie director making a horrible movie by following an action film star around. #4 and #6 are very similar. The only one that doesn't share a theme or star with the others is Napoleon Dynamite (although I though LaFawnda was a drag queen the first time I saw it; she's not; she's just a very tall and very attractive African-American woman.)

In Bowfinger Eddie Murphy's character is neurotic or psychotic or both. He's a member of a Scientology-like cult called MindHead. He sees racism everywhere. In a hilarious sequence, he tries to convince his agent that a script is racist. "There are 636 K's in this script; that's 212 KKKs. Don't you see that?" "Well, I admit it's not …

100th Post

I've reached my one hundredth blog post. If anyone reads these, please let me know! I truly feel like a meaningless voice in the cyberwilderness. I'd especially like feedback from anyone who has read my novel. I have another novel (two-parter) at the publisher now, and ideas for five more, but work and life are displacing time for writing.

Writing, especially fiction writing, is such an act of faith. Or stupidity. A friend asked me why it took me eight years to write the first novel and less than a year to write the second (which may end up being two novels). I could only say that I never thought I'd find a publisher for the first one, so any writing was purely because of the desire to get the story on paper and then perfect it (well, improve it. There are some things I would change now if I could, and I wonder if all writers feel that way).

All action, not just artistic action, is an act of hope and faith. I got my husband to the polls yesterday; I was determine…