Showing posts from September, 2009

Cousins and Kinfolks

Last week I drove my mother to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia (so beautiful) to attend a family reunion for my father's family. It's a huge family and the turnout was good although not really representative of the numbers. My great grandfather Isaac Newton Graham moved from Pendleton, WVA (at the time it wouldn't have been WVA, but we figure he was typical Scots Irish coming down from PA) into that valley and scarfed up quite a bit of land and set about to have a family of six surviving children (Edward, Abraham, Isaac H., Jacob, Bessie, and John Arthur, among others who apparently didn't live too long). Each of them had huge families, and so on. My father had eleven siblings, for instance, and one of them had eight children. So West Augusta county is lousy with Grahams and their kin.

We had gone seven years ago to the annual reunion. I really should go more frequently, but it is a long trip for me. My brother came down from Maryland, so that was a special par…

Psalm 135 Reflections

Sometimes you read a psalm and don’t get the sense of the music behind it, but this one today seems very much like a song or poetry. Studying this has been a blessing to me because of where it took me in terms of thinking about praise.

Basic outline:
v. 1-4 God is great in character and his name
v. 5-7 God is great in the natural world
v. 8-12 God is great in military battles and history
v. 13-14 God is great in his just treatment of his people
v. 15-18 God is great in comparison to idols and other objects men might worship

Psalms are not really about doctrine, but about personal application. This psalm doesn’t teach us anything about God and His work that we don’t already know, but it calls us to reflect on these truths of his character in a new and deeper way.

We commonly hear, and sing, "God inhabits the praise of his people.” I like that, so I went looking for it. I used my concordance and the one online—and couldn’t find it! Those exact words are not there. Where do we get i…


If I stand let me stand on the promise that you will see me through.
And if I fall let it be on the grace that first brought me to you.

And if I sing let it be for the joy that has borne in me these songs
And if I weep let it be as a man who is longing for his home.

New Revelation

Thanks to the eminent wisdom of Jimmy Carter, I now know that I am a racist! And all these years I worked so hard not to be! How wonderful to know I'm a failure in something so important to me. Thank you, Jimmy!


I was talking with a colleague today (like a good academic, I don't want to act like I had an original thought when I didn't!) who happens to be a Presbyterian minister. We were discussing women in the Old Testament, and as we talked I realized how many of the women in the OT were either 1. outright liars, 2. passively deceptive, or 3. manipulative. At best, all but a few of the OT women did an end run around the truth, factuality, or directness. In fact, I'm hard pressed to find some who weren't. Maybe Deborah, Hannah, a few widows here and there, victims like Jephthah's unnamed daughter and David's daughter Tamar (but not her great-great-plus grandma). Yes, most of the women we have on record in Jewish history were deceivers.

Of course, there's Eve, Sarah, Tamar, Rachel, Rebekah, the Hebrew midwives, Pharoah's daughter, Rahab, Delilah, Jezebel. Ruth and Naomi circumvent custom, but maybe aren't deceptive--then again, there may be an argume…

Comments on Last Night's Speech

1. Brevity is the sole of wit. President Obama has not learned that.
2. I didn't believe a lot of what he said because it flies in the face of reason, especially the money part.
3. We are straining at a gnat to swallow a camel. Help those who want and deserve help, not the others.
4. Requiring every person in the country to be insured is totalitarian. The car analogy breaks down: only people who own/drive cars have to insure them, and it is the machine being insured, not the people.
5. I hope the free market parts get through and the rest does not.

Rights and Wrongs

This discussion (debate?furor?nonsense?) over public school students listening to the president's (revised) speech is just plain silly, but it may go further.

1. Having a right doesn't mean you have to exercise that right every chance you get. I have free speech, but that doesn't mean I have to talk 24/7. Contrary to what some might think, we won't lose our rights from underuse; we'll use them when they are not defended wisely.

2. From a cultural war standpoint, if we don't pick our battles, our credibility suffers.

3. The speech was good, as such things go, and not subversive. But it was too long for little kids and really best for middle schooler and up.

4. Do I think President Obama is a narcissist? Yes, like most politicians, although he seems to be excelling at narcissistic behavior. He knows giving planned speeches is his best modusoperandi, so he uses it every chance he gets. Case in point, tonight's speech on health reform. Why is it neces…

Dinesh D'Souza gets it right

Excellent article on why pro-lifers aren't winning.

Psalm 19

We are studying Psalms this quarter in SBS, and I was assigned Ps. 19 yesterday. I have studied it a great deal in the past and enjoyed teaching it, but interestingly enough I read Calvin's take on it this morning.
Suppose we ponder how slippery is the fall of the human mind into forgetfulness of God, how great the tendency to every kind of error, how great the lust to fashion constantly new and artificial religions. Then we may perceive how necessary was such written proof of the heavenly doctrine, that it should neither perish through forgetfulness nor vanish through error nor be corrupted by the audacity of men. It is therefore clear that God has provided the assistance of the Word for the sake of all those to whom he has been pleased to give useful instruction because he foresaw that his likeness imprinted upon the most beautiful form of the universe would be insufficiently effective. Hence, we must strive onward by this straight path if we seriously aspire to the pur…

Just Wondering

If the whole point of football is to manhandle and tackle and otherwise inflict pain for 60 minutes in order to stop a team's runner from getting past a certain line with a ball, why do coaches and sports commentators go into a frenzy when a player hits another player after a game? These are 20-year-olds whose brains are not fully developed; why should the blowing of a whistle make them immediately stop aggressive behavior that was rewarded a few seconds before?

On the other hand, at least there's one place where personal responsibility matters.

Paul the Apostle

We finished the Beth Moore study on Paul last week, and I've been doing some thinking. People have asked me if I named my son after Paul the Apostle. I deadpan. "No, I named him after Paul Newman." (Interestingly, when I was pregnant--the best time of my life, and I felt great the whole time--my husband and I said we needed to make a decision about the baby's name. The first choice for both of us was Paul, with an "A" name as middle. He said Allen, I said Andrew, and I won, in honor of Scottish heritage, of course. That was the easiest decision in our marriage!)

Back to the point. After Paul is converted, Ananias is sent to him. Ananias is wary of this idea, and understandably protests that this is the man who has been killing Christians. Ananias is one of those unsung Bible heroes. Who of us would have gone to Paul? God's answer to Ananias is, among other statements, "Paul must learn how much he will suffer for the gospel's sake.&qu…


I often write things down in my planner that people say and that I find cute, funny, or apt. On our trip last month, I asked my son if he ever felt that he needed counselling (over a certain family matter). He said no, and that to him, "Counselling is like getting golf lessons. It only helps if you suck."

Not that his language is all that appropriate, but his insight was, well, insightful to me as his mother.