Sunday, May 31, 2009

Why?

Why does our illustrious president assume that Tiller's death was by an organized pro-life movement? http://www.charter.net/news/read.php?ps=1011&rip_id=%3CD98HFK180%40news.ap.org%3E&_LT=HOME_LARSDCCLM_UNEWS&page=2
Does anyone even hear the things Obama says?

Book Reviews

Yesterday I finished two long books, both wonderful.

1. George Marsden's Jonathan 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 a very detailed account of the Great Awakening in Northampton, the reasons why he was "let go" from that church, his work with the Indians (that might be something that could be skipped, because despite his good intentions it all rather came to nought). The last chapter, with its account of the deaths of four of the family, will make a reader cry.

I am not sure I believe as fully as Marsden that Edwards was a vitally important intellectual figure of the 18th century, but he makes his case. It seems that he oversaw the death of Puritanism in light of the Revolution, fighting for Puritanism's life all the way. But surely I have more reading to do about the relationship of the Puritans to later political and religious history.

I often felt that if I had ever been someone in a past life (pagan, absurd, I'm being silly here), however, it would have been Jonathan Edwards. As I was telling my husband and son, I just don't think I experience the universe like anyone else.

2. On the other hand, I do experience P.D. James like her other fans. I love it. I don't know if The Private Patient is my favorite, but it's close. (I still like Children of Men the most, but it's not a mystery). It follows some of her formula, but it ends happily, with joy, and so much of her books are joyless since they are unflinchingly about death. She has a razor sharp style that doesn't overdo visual detail; her characters can be unrelentingly cynical though. Maybe cynical is not word--perhaps detached and impersonal, not prone to pleasantries of human interaction, uncooperative, but then again, they have Dalgliesh to be wary of. In some respects, they seem wounded. That being said, I recommend the book, but not if you haven't read any of the other Dalgliesh's, since this may be the last (the lady is 89 years old, after all).

3. Not feeling myself yesterday, I watched Spencer Tracy's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. WAAAAAAY too Freudian for me. And what was with the 23rd Psalm at the end? Freud and David in the same movie. Too incoherent.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

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 drama and intensity, for example.

4. I'm wondering when the honeymoon will be over with Obama. There are some things I would say, give the guy a break on. For example, Sotomayor. I don't care about some statement she made about her life experience helping her judge. It hinted at racism, maybe, but on the other hand I think we are know that the judges aren't blank slates. Does Clarence Thomas' Roman Catholicism (as a convert, not born into it) not influence him? Does not his experience as a black person? I care more about her judicial record and her credentials (which don't convince me she's the best legal mind for the job, nor very collegial) than some silly statement years ago.

5. We're having lots of sun today, so I hope my garden soaks it in and moves toward "fruition." I've got tiny squash and tomatoes and peppers already.

6. I watched an excellent movie the other night, Lonestar. The end was disturbing though, and uncalled for and illogical. There was no reason to end it like that other than to be controversial and gross conservatives out (or anger them). My defense: Two people deeply involved in a community in places of leadership, the woman with two teenage kids, are not going to commit incest when the town's secret, kept from them, is that they are half brother and sister. That makes no sense. I didn't buy it.Otherwise, the acting and intertwining of the stories was quite wonderful.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Question

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

Sunday, May 24, 2009

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.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090522/ap_on_re_us/us_princess_syndrome

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.

Friday, May 22, 2009

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 made them leave their island for their own good. That was symbolic to me of all the children who have hated their fathers without cause because mothers lied about them, lied out of meanness or from rejection or some other reason, and left the children in a no-man's-land.

6. When Sun realized how much Jin loved her, symbolic of all married couples who forget love and get to find it again.

7. When Desmond called Penny on the phone on Christmas.

And of course, there were lots of funny moments, mostly provided by Hurley and Sawyer at the most unexpected times.

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 desiring consistency and were trying to live up to what others saw or wanted. And it might be just as deceptive to use CD as it is to go through it.

This meandering post has to end up on something political, no? I heard a blowhard commentator (radio guy, fat, on for three hours a day, you figure it out) say that President Obama was a narcissist. So I googled that to find out if that was on the Internet buzz, and of course it was. Here are a few links. http://www.globalpolitician.com/25109-barack-obama-elections and http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/09/obama_oprah_and_the_guru_malig_1.html and http://www.debatableland.com/the_debatable_land/2007/08/barack-obama-na.html

I found these interesting, scary, amusing. First, a psychologist really shouldn't speak out of school; they know better than to diagnose a person not under their care. Second, any contact we have with Obama is mediated, so a lot of what we think we know is probably a media fiction. Third, he's probably not the first narcissist, if he is one, that has run for president or even won. Fourth, calling him names of this sort really doesn't matter. Is that how the loyal opposition is going to argue against his potentially disastrous health care and energy policies. "We can't have cap and trade, gentleman--the president has NPD!"

All that being said . . . the man has issues. Serious issues. Anybody can see that, can hear it in his speeches, see it in how he treats people, must be in the spotlight all the time, had to have three news conferences, had to have a speech just because Cheney did, has to blame Bush all the time. Sheesh, get over yourself. It boggles the mind.

Friday, May 15, 2009

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 from teaching.

Students today are inured to technology; whereas it used to get their attention, not using it, and expecting face-to-face, old-fashioned interaction, may be the way to engage them. I'll still use the WebCT platform because it does my grades for me and allows the students to see grades, and it saves me time for administering quizzes in class. But I'm going to back off from as much IT as I have used in the past.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

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 talking to the Losties before they came to the island, even as children.

And if the nuke worked. (Anyone reading this will think I am insane for being able to follow this; my husband makes fun of me every Wednesday night. I'm glad the show will be off next year. I don't think I can take much more of it controlling my life!)

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 basil bread I bought yesterday. I didn't like Housekeeping as much as Gilead, and hope to read Home this summer.

6. The Imperial Presidency by Arthur Schlesinger. This will be interesting to see a more liberal view of things.

7. Sarah Palin's biography. Easy read, almost hagiography on someone I admire.

8. Why Golf, by Bob Cullen (the last two are in the bathroom).

9. I have recently finished Hush My Mouth (pure whimsy, Southern mystery fiction), Liberal Fascism, and some of Barbara Kingsolver's book on living on her farm.

10. For the summer I have to read three new textbooks and hope also to read the Federalist Papers along with other political science books. I also hope to finish my next novel, which will have nothing to do with my last three and will entail research about military families after WWII. I could never write a scholarly work; everything I read points me to something else, and that to something else, so I never feel that I can really get to an authoritative place. I do hope to write a book on political theory for educated Christian laypeople at some point.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

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 was under.

My arguments:
1. If we are going to play the oppressed game, I'm in the oppressor class, if anything. I'm white, American, and middle class; we use up most of the resources, something I try hard not to do but the very fact that I'm blogging says I'm using up electricity I really don't need to.
2. But I don't buy this Marxist delineation in the first place. To call someone like me oppressed obliterates the meaning of true oppression, which I think is primarily lack of political freedoms, not economic ones (although I realize that comes into it). Men and women in Iran are oppressed because of the Islamist-based political system; blacks and whites in Zimbabwe are oppressed because of Mugabe's horrendously corrupt government.
3. Dividing the world so simplistically is nonsense. All it does is prescribe one answer to fixing social ills--anger and revolution. Or it allows white, middle class students and profs in colleges and grad schools to sit around and pontificate and not get their butts out and actually do something.

Monday, May 11, 2009

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. Furthermore, someone would have spoken up. Only Christians are wimps about being offended. We don't want to be perceived as whiners who are blocking others' free speech and thought while the others are blocking ours.

Back to the title. Anyone who wants to ignore the religious element in any humane study is a fool. It is there. It is a motivating force behind the writing or painting or sculpture or music, even when offensive to some one's sensibilities, even when wrong, even when deadly wrong. Those who would ignore it don't want to be made uncomfortable about their prejudices and lifestyles.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

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.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

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 know have a plot in there somewhere but mostly seem to be about creative destruction using CGI. Star Trek is not a movie for 53-year-old women, so what did I expect?

Finally the film started, and yes, it was very good. It's a Bad Robot production, so it would have to be, right? It took the backstories of the old Star Trek and did some interesting things with it in ways young people would like. And it didn't pretend to be really about anything--the great potential of mankind, the need for atheism, the wonders of a planetary UN (since the intraplanet one does so well, doesn't it?). No, it was just good storytelling that didn't stop. Worth seeing, but not worth pondering too much.

Today we went to a graduation party for a friend's son (Bryan College) and were treated to a nice "Japanese" lunch and the opportunity to connect with friends from high school days in Maryland. That was three lives ago. My first life was growing up in Maryland; my second life was working for a cult; my third life was raising my child; I guess I'm in my fourth life now, which is good timing. I have reached several professional goals and can take it easy.

I have been thinking about whether being a Christian makes one a better or worse human being. What a horrible thing to say, right? Obviously, being a good Christian makes one better morally and responsibly; a better citizen, worker, parent, spouse, or at least it should, if one is walking in true obedience based on correct teaching. (BIG IF). But sometimes I wonder if it being a Christian gets in the way of relating to people, just being human. I think it does when we are prone to guilt about not being uber evangelizer, which I am. Finding that winsomeness where we are walking with God in a way that talking about him in conversation just comes naturally and happily and truthfully, in no way forced or fake. Oh, how I want to be that person. I know being a Christian completes one's personality, but bad teaching and fear of other people and incorrect self-knowledge do so get in the way.

I say this because last night I could have gone to a party after graduation with my colleagues, many of whom would have been drinking and I really don't like being around a lot of people drinking just because they want to drink. So I decided to come home and go see Star Trek with my son who has been off at college. One part of me says I should be comfortable with the partiers and just go have fun and converse and not drink myself but show I'm a regular fun-loving human, blah, blah, blah. The other part says how many times do I get to go to a 10:20 movie with my grown son now and anyway I spend most of my life at work with these people!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Motherhood

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 today find it so hard because (and I hate to use this word twice in two consecutive posts) we are so narcissistic and the thought of someone else coming first doesn't fit our brains.

I drove six hours today to get my son's stuff from college, as he is coming home for the summer. It was great (and I'm exhausted.)

Why?

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 people. That is his stupid choice.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

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).

Saturday, May 02, 2009

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 my husband moved the glider to protect the birds. Unfortunately, this week it fell or was knocked down by wind, and we don't know if the birds, which were just about at fledgling level, made it. We didn't see a profusion of feather lying around, so we hope they escaped if the cat had tried to plunder the nest. We have four or five cats that hang around, and while I think they keep the rodent population down they are a nuisance otherwise and perhaps a rabies hazard. They keep the birds excited, too.

As much as we wanted to protect the baby birds, and as fun as it is to watch them grow, the placement is a problem. If I want to go sit on my porch, the parents fly off and sit in a nearby tree and squawk at me, afraid to come near but not willing to let me drink my coffee and read in peace. And the babies, as they grow, eat, and digest, well, leave a lot of damage, if you get my drift (cleaning that up is my husband's job). No temptation to save that bird's nest here.

Sometimes as I sit I am visited by a hummingbird attracted by my red begonias; those are a treat, if my eye happens to cath them. Their wingspeed is belief-defying. But the other morning as the rain, a good long soaking one that should have washed away fears of drought for now, began, I looked up to see a V of geese, seeming to fly south but really just trying to reposition themselves in the rain. A trio split off from the others while the rest took off to the northwest (directions are hard to figure in the mountains and in suburbville).

Of all things about birds--their nesting, their diet, their beauty, their parenting, their fragility in the face of cats and other predators--I think their migrations amaze me the most. Some migrate all the way from Canada to South America, in a matter of days. They eat bugs they catch in midflight, they don't stop, they find their way--and these are animals that weigh much less than a pound in some instances.

I know I've been told by every source but the church that this is from long evolution, but I fall back on William Blake for insight on animal creation:

TIGER, tiger, burning bright/In the forests of the night,/What immortal hand or eye/
Could frame thy fearful symmetry/

In what distant deeps or skies/Burnt the fire of thine eyes?/On what wings dare he aspire?/
What the hand dare seize the fire?

. . . When the stars threw down their spears,/And water'd heaven with their tears,/
Did He smile His work to see?/Did He who made the lamb make thee?

I can sit on my porch and hear the birds but see none. I feel their presence, I know their keeping of the balance. We're always told that if there were a nuclear disaster, that only the cockroaches would be left. I think the birds would be here, perhaps to eat the cockroaches, because they persist and are so strong despite their seeming smallness and vulnerability.

Friday, May 01, 2009

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 field; I don't have a graduate degree in running the country. Giving him a grade shows even more arrogance than he does.

1. I am reminded of the old Gwendolyn Brooks poem, "He was so cool they called him Refrigerator." He is one smooth dude.

2. He is not as funny as he thinks he is.

3. He and his wife don't quite get what it means to be the President and First Lady. Defining your own style is one thing. Being cheap and tacky with gifts is another.

4. He's made some good decisions about foreign policy.

5. He's smart not to pursue FOCA.

6. In fact, he's extremely smart in general. I would never question his intelligence and it does no good to question his character. It's all about the policies, people; it's all about the ideas. He can lead; oh, my, he can lead; that's the problem. It's where he wants to lead that matters. It's hard not to believe he's power-hungry, which may stem from a powerless childhood. I really think there are some serious parental issues there.

7. He needs to stop pandering to the left-wing nut jobs and remember he's the president of everyone.

8. I would say stop with the press conference; there's a danger of over-exposure. But maybe he figures he can take advantage of the fawning press.

9. I think he has more character than Clinton and some other presidents; that may not be saying much, though.

10. I'm glad I believe in a sovereign God.

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.

What I Learned about Empathy Last Night

Last night in the English as Second Language that another teacher and I conduct at church, we had a class of six.  One Chinese young woman w...