Showing posts from May, 2009


Why does our illustrious president assume that Tiller's death was by an organized pro-life movement?
Does anyone even hear the things Obama says?

Book Reviews

Yesterday I finished two long books, both wonderful.

1. George Marsden'sJonathan Edwards. I read it to understand the social/cultural/historical/political setting more than to read about Edwards, whom I thought I knew something about. It turns out I knew much less than I thought. A 500-page biography by Yale University Press will have been carefully researched and vetted, so I can't comment on anything there--the depth of detail is mind-boggling. My attention flagged at points, but that is not a fault of his writing, only an indication of where my interests lay. Marsden is clear that he writes as an evangelical and is interested in Edwards' effect on later evangelical theology and practice, and in Edwards as an intellectual leader of the 18th century. If someone wants to read a well researched biography that is sympathetic to Edwards' world view, this is the one to read, despite its length (some parts can be skipped, although I wouldn't recommend it). We get…

Recent News

1. My mother had a good word from a medical test, so we aren't looking at major surgery, chemo and radiation, at least not for a while, if ever. This was a matter of prayer and I am greatly relieved.

2. The news frees me up to travel this summer, so I am looking into tickets to Amsterdam and ways to get around. It's about three hours from Amsterdam to my friend's house in Stadskanaal. I have some trepidation about traveling by myself; on the other hand, at 40 I ran all over England and Scotland by myself and didn't think anything of it. Have I gotten old? I do have more anxiety than in the past.

3. At the same time I'm tired and have lots going on; I had planned to give up my SBS class and may not do that now; hard to know. I suffer from "feeling like a phony" disease when it comes to teaching the Bible. So many women who teach the Bible have a persona of deep spirituality, something I just don't have, that ability to pray out loud with great …


How must it feel to be appointed to a prestigious position just because of where your parents came from and your gender?

Glad I Had a Son, Not a Daughter

The following link is to a discussion of the princess syndrome that is being marketing to little girls.

Girls are not the same today as when we thirty or more years ago. They are controlling and full (to overflowing) of their own self-worth, yet incomplete (in their eyes) without a guy (to control, I guess). When I was trying to have a child I thought it would be great to have a daughter because they are rare in my husband's and my families, but in retrospect a boy was what I needed and could handle.

Favorite Lost Moments

Totally silly post.

I go to the message boards for LOST but never post, and never will. That's what a blog is for. Anyway, one of the topics is always something like "Favorite LOST moments." Here are mine, with this explanation.

Since time travel makes my head hurt, I'm not into the sci-fi end of the show as much as the personal stories, which got me started watching it anyway. The best moments are when the characters get an insight, especially one they had been fighting.

1. When Michael and Sawyer found Bernard in the second season, and he said, "Is Rose with you?" The looks on their faces were amazing. Nobody saw that coming.

2. When Walt gave Shannon his dog, Vincent, and she realized someone could be self-less.

3. When Sawyer realized he had met Jack's father in a bar and let him know.

4. When Jack learned Claire was his sister after all that time.

5. When Miles saw that his mother had not been truthful about his father, and that his father had …

Human tendencies

I have lived longer than most people in history have, so I feel I can make some observations about human beings and life. They are not proven by my age and experience; I just make them because I see these phenomena so much.

The one I have been pondering lately is the so-human ability to deceive ourselves. Dishonesty within and with oneself is so easy. One's Christian faith should be the antidote; ah, unfortunately it often is not. This basic bent toward self-deception takes so many forms.

One is blindness to faults. Another is our ability to compartmentalize, which I think is the root of true hypocrisy. (What is often called hypocrisy is just human weakness, not intentional attempts to deceive others.) Another is cognitive dissonance, that well supported communication theory basic. Although no one ever says it, CD comes from self-deception. We change our minds to fit our behavior and then convince ourselves we changed because the change was logical, not because we were just de…

Technology Back-off

Eleven years ago I became involved in online learning. I designed three courses using Front Page while working at the tech college in 1998; then we moved to a Blackboard platform and I designed two more. It was one thing in my life I was ahead of the game on. When I moved to Dalton I continued as much, using a WebCT platform for all my classes. I spend a great deal of time on this site, posting grades, handouts, administering tests, etc.

At the same time I started using PowerPoint until I had almost every lecture on that as well.

In the last year or so I have turned the tide, slowly. Although I had PowerPoints for most of the lectures in my Business Communication class, I only used one this semester--and that was one about how to use PowerPoint in a speech. At the end of the class a student thanked me for not using PowerPoint. All of her other professors used it maximally--which is to say, badly. They just used the slides that came with the text and read them in class, a far cry…

Lost Season Finale

OK, I have to post on this subject, since my obsession with LOST takes up more time than it should. What did I think of last night? Well, the fight between Sawyer and Jack was stupid and a time filler, but other than that, it was great. We learned:

1. what happened to Rose and Bernard, two of my favorite characters. I figure they are Adam and Eve. At least that was tied up, although I don't know what happened to the other survivors (of course, Vincent is all right).

2. That Jacob is a real embodied person and not a spirit.

3. That Juliet is gone (so sorry, I liked her, but it was inevitable).

4. That Kate was a bad little girl all along.

5. What was in Ilana's box.

6. How Sayid's wife died.

7. And I'm sure some other things that I was too dumb to get. What we don't know is . . .

Who "Locke" really is (presumably that guy talking to Jacob at the beginning).

If the boat in the ocean is the Black Rock.

If Jacob is really dead, and why he was going around…

So Many Books, So Little Time

One thing I have set out to do, since this summer is not as burdensome as those of the past, is to read a great deal. So what am I reading now?

1. George Marsden's biography of Jonathan Edwards. Very readable, and from an evangelical mindset. I am reading it because my overall reading pattern is on American political thought, and I consider Edwards to have had more political consequences than religious.

2. Strangers in High Places, by Michael Frome, on Appalachia/Smokey Mountains. I plan to write a novel on Appalachia eventually, and need background.

3. P.D. James, The Private Patient. James is THE greatest mystery writer, in my opinion, so I have to read all of hers as they come out.

4. Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections. A little ponderous in style, but I'll get to it eventually.

5. Marilynne Robinson's The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought. She's contrarian but good; a delectable writer, with sentences you can savor and chew on like the Panera tomato ba…

Not Oppressed, But Blessed

I remember a conversation with a gentleman at Georgia State. We had been reading Paolo Freire and bell hooks in a communication pedagogy class. The gentleman, an African-American man older than me, told me I was oppressed. I refused to take that label, that delineation, that world view. "I am middle-class, sitting here in a doctoral program, living in the United States, wanting for nothing, able to vote, express my views without fear of prison, etc. How can I be oppressed." Because I was a woman, just as he was oppressed because he was black. (This is not to say he was unpleasant or radical about it, simply matter-of-fact.) But I wasn't buying that day. "There are women on this planet who are oppressed," I said, "but I am not one of them."

I have recounted that conversation to others over the last few years; some laugh, some nod in agreement, and one, my liberal friend, told me maybe I just didn't realize it and was refusing to see the oppression I…

The Place of Religion in Humane Studies

Boy, that's an esoteric title. But it bears some thought. A colleague in the English department, no longer there, was quoted by a student to me as saying, "in this class we aren't going to beat the Jesus out of these poems and stories" (I believe it was a British literature class). The student was troubled by this statement, not because she planned on finding some allegorical or superficial spiritual/devotional message in the pieces they read, but because she sensed a hostility to who she was as a human being.

I personally don't think a professor has the right to say offensive things about the religious beliefs of students in a class any more than they have a right to say offensive things about one's ethnicity, race, or gender. Could he have said "we're not going to beat the Allah or Mohamed out of these stories"? Of course not--there would be no reason to find many references to Allah or Mohamed in British or any Western literature. Furthe…

Just Thinking

Considering all the money they spent on the Star Trek movie, couldn't they have gotten better dentures for Leonard Nimoy? He could hardly talk.

Thank goodness they didn't put Shatner in it. He is a parody of himself, and making lots of money doing so.

I better not hear the word "drought" in North Georgia for a while. It has rained for what seems like weeks.

The Chattanooga Market is good is you want to add more stuff to your current collection. I have no more place for stuff. What is our fascination with accumulation?

The problem with trying to grow a garden is not knowing seedings of plants from seedlings of weeds.

Let's Not Make This Like Facebook

Like millions of others, I am "on Facebook." I started just to know about the technology, then to check up on my son (cheesy, I know), and then to find people. I felt insecure that I didn't have many "friends" so accepted a number of them, but they were students at my college who liked to post things like "I'm brushing my teeth," "I'm having a bad hair day," and "I'm standing in line at the grocery store." So now I just look for long-lost colleagues and friends and don't take any more students.

I said all that to say I'd like to post more randomly on this blog, but that seems too much like twittering. So I'll let the short, unconnected thoughts accumulate . . . and they have.

Last night my son and I went to a late showing of Star Trek. I expected a packed house--there were maybe nine in the theatre. And of course there were 20 minutes of trailers, all for what I call "blow-up" movies, films I k…


I drove a lot today, so I listened to a lot of (Christian) radio (and some NPR, but Terri Gross was interviewing some self-absorbed actress). The Christian speaker was giving a message on how motherhood sanctifies us. He had many good points: our children mirror our own depravity (this guy is obviously Reformed, to use words like depravity of mothers); our children teach us to serve;, etc.

But he started with the assertion that mothers believe raising children is the hardest job in the world, the hardest job they would ever do. What?? What is so hard about being a mother? I ran a SACS self-study--it was much harder.

All the other stuff is hard; motherhood is a joy from start to finish. What, you say? I'm on drugs? I only had one kid, and he didn't have any problems, and I am a professional with a good job? Let me bore you one day with the story of my life and my son's epilepsy and a few other trials and tribulations. No, being a mother is all good.

Maybe mothers …


Someone on the radio said the other day that X number of people are suffering from malnutrition, don't have enough to eat, are "food insecure." We hear these numbers all the time.

If we can count them, why can't we feed them? If we can take their pictures, why can't we give them something to eat?

Is the American population so narcissistic that it doesn't know these numbers? This is a matter of will and choice, not a matter of knowledge.

I have decided that the only charities/nonprofits that matter, that are worth supporting, are the ones that are providing basic human needs--food, clean water, vaccines, and shelter--in Christ's name, or at least not in opposition to Christian values. The arts, education for other Americans, paying the light bill at church, fighting drunk drivers, helping cure diseases--are great, but not my passion. When so many people live in squalor, I can't justify giving money to stop some idiot from getting drunk and hurting p…

Hidden Treasures

If you want a special blessing, read Isaiah 55. Then compare to John 10:10 and John 4.

If I had a philosophy or method of Bible study, it would be called "contextualism." What is the chapter, book, genre, testament, and historical context? Almost every portion of Scripture, and Isaiah 55 is a good example, has tendrils stretching out into one or more other parts of the Bible. Sort of like my green bean plants. Soon those vines, which are amazingly strong, will be reaching around the fencing I put up. The best way to study the Bible is to cross-reference.

We've had much rain here in the Tennessee Valley/North Georgia; we're almost close to the old average, which means lots of Catoosa County is underwater (apparently the norm in the past).

The Persistence of Birds

You can learn a lot by sitting on your porch. And I'm talking front porch here--none of that back deck, hide-from-society stuff. (I do have a deck, but it has no shade so that's a problem).
My porch is not huge but just right for lots of flower pots, a glider, and a grill (yes, a grill on the front porch--sort of redneck but we're back to the no shade on the deck again. It's easier to grill in the rain or 95 degrees when the grill is under a shelter.) For those who don't know, a glider is what I call a loveseat that moves back and forth on, you guessed it, the porch.

The other morning I was drinking my coffee and enjoying the coming rain and watching birds. I love to watch birds. Elephants and dogs are the coolest mammals, but birds are fascinating. Every spring some small birds (species I don't know) lay their four or five tiny blue eggs in a nest that they insist on building in a cheesy flower arrangement by my front door. Last year a cat got them, so m…

First 102 Days

Have we heard enough about President Obama's First 100 Days Yet? Will it become a national holiday? Sheesh!! I was absolutely enchanted by his press conference. His restraint is admirable--only three in his first three months in office. Considering how the media throws such verbal brickbats at him and is so unrelenting in its criticism, I wonder how he talks to them at all.

Well, that felt good. As I have written before, I am less concerned about President Obama than I am the news media and his disciples. And I'm just about as tired of Fox's negativity. I balance my Fox with my NPR dosage (when they aren't begging for money, which I refuse to give them when I can help pay for vaccines in the developing world). Fox is in danger of being the boy who cried "Wolf." They pick at everything so that the issues that matter won't get heard.

So, here's my evaluation of President Obama. I will not give him a grade. I can give my students grades in my fi…

Masterpiece Theatre

I would recommend Little Dorrit (as a DVD--it will probably never play again on PBS). Wonderful, fully Dickensian story with fabulous production values. It was a totally enthralling piece.