Showing posts from July, 2009

Wedding Dance

Who hasn't seen JK Wedding Dance on the Internet? Viral all the way. I first saw it on Facebook (which is becoming an addiction). An old friend (I was in her wedding in 1976!) had posted it.

At first I thought, "Oh, typical let's see what we can do that's weird at our wedding" stuff. But after a minute I changed my mind. Although I hope this doesn't become a trend (not all those people really have rhythm), it was joyous and celebrative. Good for them, I thought.

I showed it to my husband tonight. He said, "it sure isn't a Baptist church!" I said, "Well, it's Methodist or something, because there's a woman minister anyway." So it goes (to quote Kurt Vonnegut). But he enjoyed it too. It's wonderful because it isn't professional, and the bride looks like she'd rather be happy--and have her guests happy--than perfect. Maybe that's a good motto for all of us.

Older women in the church

I teach a Sunday Bible Class at my church for, well, middle-aged women. I was asked recently to teach a class of ladies in their eighties and nineties, probably because the attendance in my class is often pathetic but I’m known to be faithful. I declined to change classes, because I have put a lot of effort for over four years into my “ladies” and even though many have rejected me, these have stayed with me faithfully and we are close.

But teaching middle-aged women is difficult. They are the red-headed stepchildren of the church, I think. They are too old for senior “stuff,” but they have pretty much raised their children and “been there, done that.” If they don’t want to get out of bed for SBS, they don’t have to. And they don’t. Although a huge number of women in the church are in this age group, a lot of them just come to the worship and eschew the fellowship of a SBS, which can be intense.

Of course, over 50% of these women are divorced, widowed, or never married, so they d…


President Obama could save himself a lot of trouble if he:
1. Didn't have so many news conferences
2. Didn't think he had to voice an opinion or influence everything in the country (like the College Bowl Series?)
3. Got rid of Robert Gibbs

Good article on Gay Marriage

The Root of It All

I just finished Alistair McGrath'sA Life of John Calvin. It is appropriately named--it is hardly a full-fledged biography of the man, but to be honest, he wasn't someone who wrote a great deal about himself, definitely not the celebrity Luther was. I still say if I could sit down with any historical figure in the last millennium it would be Luther (with an interpreter). But McGrath makes a good case for Calvin's influence being more long-term than Luther's at least in terms of politics and the economy.

If there is one thing I like to study it is "where do ideas come from?" and Calvin is the person to study if one wants to understand the root of it all type questions. This means that if I'm serious I would have to tackle the Institutes. McGrath makes several arguments:
1. Calvin was who we was because of Geneva. This is as much a book about Geneva, Swiss urban life, Renaissance humanism, and French society as about Calvin.
2. Calvin and Calvinism are related …

I Hate to Say This, But ....

I watched on television in 1969 the first moon walk. Someone--I assume my brother Gary--even took a photograph of my brothers David and Donald, my mother, our dog, and me--at the moment Neal Armstrong walked on the moon. We were sitting in the living room of our little Levittown house in Landover Hills, Maryland, on a humid July night--we look hot even in the grainy black and white photo, since we didn't have central air back then. I remember the night as clearly as any other from my childhood. I was thirteen.

So why do I get these nagging, niggling suspicions that the videos are fakes? Am I the only one?

More than Thoughtfulness

As a person who is getting older, I am experiencing my share of aches and pains. They are the worst in the morning, upon rising from what is usually plenty of sleep. I'm just stiff and slow; a hot shower helps, and walking around, and getting my coffee. I also have trouble if I sit for long periods or carry too-heavy loads when gardening.

The solutions are 1. live with it 2. take pills (I resist) 3. see the chiropractor (I'm cheap) 4. correct my posture when sitting and walking.

There is a fifth one--yoga. I have to resist that as much as the pills although both work. I do not deny the benefits of either but cannot bring myself, will not do so, to use yoga.

I have researched it and found it to be too highly entwined with Hinduism. There may be some Christians who can make that leap; I'm not one of them. If an authoritative Hindu yogi says Christians shouldn't practice it because they would be mixing their religions, I'll take his word for it. He obviously…

Clever Blog

What am I Reading?

Just finished Slaughterhouse Five. What a hoot. Although I didn't get the end; this is a re-read. Will post more intelligent thoughts on it later.

Am starting Alistair McGrath's A Life of John Calvin, in honor of his 500th birthday.

Recently finished Strangers in High Places by Michael Frome.

There will never be enough time to read all the books one wants to.

Just Wondering

Why can’t someone say they like Sarah Palin without being told she would make a terrible president? I love her—her spunk, her views, her earthiness—but she’s not ready to be president, and I wouldn’t vote for her to be so in a primary unless the only other candidate was Ron Paul.

And if anyone feels safer with Joe Biden as VP rather than with her then I can only shake my head in disbelief. But President Palin right now? No thanks.

At the same time, I think the discussion of her resignation is reaching the Michael Jackson death saturation point.

The Shack Revisited

The other night an old friend asked me to tell her about The Shack. She and I sort of run in different circles, and the women in a Bible study group she attends keep telling her to read The Shack. Since she knows I read voraciously, she knew I had an insight about it. I have read it, back last Fall.

So what did I tell her? First, don’t bother—life is too short. Second, it bugs me that with all the great classics of the faith (let’s start with the all-time best missionary bio, To the Golden Shore, followed by all the C.S. Lewis, and then there’s Calvin’s Institutes—well, I’m getting a little crazy here, but you get my drift), anyway, it bugs me that the big bestseller in the Christian market is a second-rate allegory that borders on heresy, if it doesn’t venture boldly into it. Third, if someone wants to read a good novel, ha, ha, they can read mine!

Seriously, I told her the book appeals to people who are largely led by feeings, who tend to define Christianity in terms of their …

More Visuals

Just thought I'd post a picture of my sweet son, although he would roll his eyes to know I have. He has been on a camping trip with friends for the weekend and we are expecting him back. This is the irony--they go away to college, you get used to them being gone, and they come home for the summer. First it's a matter of getting used to them again, then a reversion to high school ("it's after midnight, where is he?") then it seems normal they are home and you miss them when they are gone again.

Maybe this is part of longing--finding that balance between fulfillment with others and being comfortable with aloneness

Tennessee Williams

Recently I watched A Streetcar Named Desire on TCM. It was the original one, from 1951, with Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando. It’s a moving experience as well as disturbing.

Enough has been said about the play and performances that I don’t need to go on about them—this is not imdb and someone can go there if so inspired. My husband had a good insight into it that I wouldn’t have gotten. He suffers from, well, depression and similar maladies, whereas I don’t. Consequently, I sympathize with people who suffer from mental and emotional illnesses but can’t really empathize. I’m not quite of the “just buck up” crowd, but sometimes ….. Anyway, he mentioned how the Stanley Kowalskis of this world are very cruel but usually are looked at as the normal ones, whereas the Blanches are the weak and abnormal. The normal people are allowed to be cruel to the weak. Stanley gets away with rape toward the end because Blanche by then has almost lost touch with reality, and truly does after the a…

Musical experience

Yesterday I got in my car to go to my office. I went at a random time, but I think it ended up being exactly at 10:30. A preacher I don’t like was on the Christian station; NPR was playing the offbeat music that they play in the morning. So I turned it to another public radio station in the Chattanooga area that doesn’t carry a lot of the typical NPR programming because the station is affiliated with a religious institution.

What a serendipitous choice—I caught the exact beginning of Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring. Through the opening, I teared up; then I wanted to dance, then I wanted to sing praise to God that it is a gift to be simple and a gift to be free. I had to get out of my car at the very end, but since I have a recording somewhere I can find it and play it to my heart’s content.

I resolved to 1. Thank God for the human creative spirit that can make that kind of music and 2. To play it to my humanities students and 3. Learn more about the piece.

Did the media go c…


It might be that what separates politicians is who they pander to, not what they really believe.

Bush pandered to military supporters (he had to in order to wage an increasingly unpopular war), religious people who were disgusted with the moral state of the country, small and large business owners, “oil people,” and nonthinking, reactionary types.

Obama panders to homosexuals (as seen in a special meeting he had with them last week in the White House), non-religious people, those who think they have been victimized (as he probably thinks of himself), abortion proponents (Planned Parenthood), and to some extent the clueless.

This is not to say that everyone who voted for either of these men for office were in one of these categories; I think Obama won because of white and Latino voters who supported Bush in 2004 but changed parties, for whatever reason (not principle, obviously). Obama couldn’t have won just on the Black vote, which was probably pretty much the same, or the youth vote; yo…

Let's Add Some Visuals Here

Coliseum, 2001. How I wishI could take pictures without lampposts and telephone poles.
Amphitheatre in Pompeii; interior of home with spectacular red paint

Street in Pompeii; I don't think the telephone poles survived the volcano!

Laocoon and His Sons in a courtyard at Vatican--not the original, of course.Interior of Church of San Vitale in Ravenna; incredible mosaics. How these have survived is a major question for me.

The Arch of Titus. Titus flattened Jerusalem in 70AD; this relief inside the Arch shows the spoiling of the Temple articles. A family of Hassidic Jews were there the day I took this picture, and I tried to take a photo of the parents taking a photo of a ten-year-old boy in black with curled locks outside the Arch. Remarkable.

The Coliseum.

Y B Normal?

I spent a good bit of my life thinking there was such a thing as normal and "right." The definition of normal, although shifting, involved something about the number of children one has, the amount of money one (or a couple) makes, the neighborhood one lives in, the amount of one's education, how the children were educated, the state of one's finances, one's physical habits (not smoking, etc.), blah, blah, blah. And it always came out that I was just not in the normal category, no matter how hard I tried, and I wondered why I was excluded from it.

Unfortunately, I held onto these misconceptions well into my forties, to some extent, but I finally realized and am now fully convinced that there is no such thing as normal, and if there is, not one person on the planet qualifies.

Thank goodness! Everyone I know is odd, some very, some just a little. Some do their best to hide it, some are pretty successful, but no one is normal. How wonderful for oddities and eccen…

Interview with Obama

I thought this was a good example of how Obama thinks. He did make some valid points (that the fall of Communism was not just because of the U.S.), but he is quite good at circumlocution and leading people to think he said something he didn't say.

Pres. Obama would like us to think he is non-ideological, but that just doesn't hold up.


I am disappointed that Sarah Palin has resigned as governor of Alaska, but mostly because it sets her up for more unfair criticism. We have a president who started running for president after less than two years as a Senator, on the road all the time not doing his job for Illinois, yet she is honest enough to quit when she knows the government of Alaska is having to pay for frivolous lawsuits and ethics complaints by enemies. Why is she so maligned? See

Maybe she just doesn't want to put her children through anymore of this vitriol. Maybe they are starting to show signs of stress from it. Why can't that be accepted by her critics, that she's doing this for her children?

On the other hand, I can see why some people find her behavior attention-getting. All politicians are narcissistic, I think, a little. The media wants to paint her that way and she does give them some material to work…

Thoughtful article

Turning Point

Maybe the seating of Al Franken in the U.S. Senate will wake some people up.