Showing posts from February, 2010

Just a Thought about the World's Most Important Subject

Thinking about the cross in Lent. I think there are three ways of talking about the cross. 1. being specific about the details of the crucifixion. This is the Passion of the Christ method. The NT doesn't do this because everybody at that time knew what a crucifixion was and how it was performed. So we don't get many details. 2. discussing how it fits in the gospel and redemption narrative. 3. teaching the church what it means. This is what Paul and Peter did, among other epistle writers.

Jesus predicted the cross, taught that it was necessary, went through it, and accomplished our salvation through it. But verse for verse, he didn't talk about it a great deal in the gospels. When he was here, he was announcing that the kingdom--that is, the king--was here. He spent his time "proving," if you will, who he was. In the Acts and the epistles we learn all the implications and ramifications of the cross. We start with "substitutionary atonement,"…

Why the Last Supper

I am teaching the end of the book of Mark tomorrow; we've been in it since first of December. The book of Mark approaches the last supper pretty much in the "just the facts, ma'am" style of the rest of the book, and I don't mean that negatively. I see the book of Mark as what a beginner needs, a seeker, really.

It occurred to me today that perhaps the difference between the gospels and Acts/epistles is that the gospels are there to explain fully who Jesus is. They end with the cross and resurrection, but most of them are about a validation, if you will, of Jesus identity. He is the Messiah, Son of God, Son of Man, so much more. The Acts and epistles explain the meaning of the cross and resurrection more fully and completely. The gospels really don't explain the cross, they mainly narrate it. Occasionally Jesus refers to what the cross is about, but not fully, as Paul or Peter do (such as in Col. 2 or I Corinthians 1). What Jesus does tell us is that we…

Budget Meeting Blues

We had a meeting this morning at work about budget cuts in higher education in GA. $385 million has to be cut. Bizarre. There goes quality, down the drain.

Good and Evil

All the rage on the LOST boards is deciding whether Jacob is good and MIB/Fake Locke/Flocke is evil or vice versa. I don't think either is good; I think they are just two evils. But this opening is a subterfuge; the blog posting is not about LOST, but about the real meaning of good and evil.

I do not understand the idea of disembodied forces called good and evil, symbolized with white and black anything. I really don't understand it, either from a philosophical or literary or political or theological standpoint.

What is evil? Is evil the opposite of good, and then so what is good? Is good the sustenance of life? Is good tied to a code, or just a vague, general principle of positivity. If good is the sustenance of life, is evil always the support or pursuit of death? But doesn't there have to be death sometimes, and isn't death in many cases good or considered good (such as in sacrifice to save another's life), so when is death good and when is it evil? Or …

From The Raging Hypocrisy Department

I think I should have given up Google for Lent as well as Fox News. Google was the defendant in a trial in Italy involving a video clip that was posted to its Italian website. In the clip, a group of boys is bullying a child with Downs Syndrome. Google left the clip up for over two months and it got a lot of hits. The Italian government was prosecuting Google for its disregard for basic human dignity and rights, and Google was found guilty. Google's spokesman said, and I quote, "This is against the fundamental principles upon which the Internet is based."

See story (and I got this using Yahoo)

OK. This strikes me as both one of the stupidest and one of the most hypocritical things I have heard from a supposedly smart person in a long time. Number one: The Internet is based on no ethical principles other than that of rampant, unfettered capitalism. (neither is Google. This is not…


OK, I think I have figured out the flash sideways on LOST. These are what would have happened if the plane had landed on September 23, 2004. But if the plane had not crashed, then all the things that happened on the island would not have happened, and they wouldn't have gone back in time and changed things, .... no, wait a minute . . . if they hadn't gone back in time and manipulated the past that was, then everyone's lives would have been different when they landed . . . but they did crash . .. . never mind. I don't have it figured out. Their lives are different but the broad outlines are the same, so something in the past must have shifted.

Is it me or does Kelly Ripa look anorexic?

The purpose of this blog was originally to write about communication, which is what I teach. Unfortunately, everyone who teaches writing does not write well; not everyone who teaches communication or speaking does those well. I like to think I do both well, but sometimes I don'…

Why Are We So Concerned about Comfort?

When you belong to the fellowship of Christ, to the company of the committed, comfort is not the word that will describe your life.--Mark Galli, Christianity Today

After the Weekend Update

Random news: My cholesterol dropped 70 points, from 272 to 197. Not bad for 23 days of taking the Pravastatin. (I also take 4 garlic tablets, 2 fish oil and 2 flaxseed oil tablets a day and drastically cut meat in my diet, and walked faithfully even when it was 22 degrees outside!).

It is 30 degrees warmer tonight than it was a week ago. That's the weather around here for you.

An interviewee on NPR yesterday (Alford, I think) had done research on aging and wisdom. He studied much older people and what they had learned. He gave five characteristics of wisdom rather than a definition (a method I always prefer; definitions are usually just more words).
reciprocity (do unto others . . .)
discretion (knowing when not to do, not to act)
doubt (not about religious belief, but an absence of certainty about life, an understanding that things don't go as one expects and won't)
detachment (from physical things and from one's plans--man proposes, God disposes)
social consciousne…

Who is Tiger Woods and Why Should I Care?

Of course, I know who Tiger Woods is. Every since the first day my husband picked up a golf course, golf has consumed our household. My son played from his earliest days he could, and played on the school team six years in middle and high school. I play when I can, and enjoy it although like most things, you have to do it a great deal to play it well. And of course, since we got cable, we have been blessed to watch the Golf Channel. The Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA Championships are as big a deal at our address as the World Series and SuperBowl (but not March Madness. Nothing beats March Madness.)

So, we know Tiger Woods. And we tried to ignore his "apology" but it was not to be. I have been out of town for two days, in Statesboro, GA. I wasn't going to watch his speech. But this morning I was trying to eat breakfast in the little motel I stayed at, and of course it was on the TV. I heard, but didn't watch.

I don't care if he ever plays golf…

Snakes in a Pit Rather Than on a Plane

The movie I watched the other night, which I wrote of a couple of days ago, was "The Snake Pit." It was made in 1948 and stars Olivia deHavilland as a mental patient in what passed for a mental health facility at the time. I thought it was a better portrayal of the situation than One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which is a great movie but I think it takes some copouts. The Snake Pit does, too, in that after her cure, she leaves happily, and of course that is not true. But until she gets there it's a downright scary movie and probably shocked the audiences of the day, although it's tame by the standards of today sado-masochistic stuff Hollywood produces.

The movie's portrayal of the patients and staff of the institution is touching. At one point the male and female patients are allowed to have a dance, which may strike some as odd but it's fairly common to have such carefully supervised outings. One of the patients gets up with the band and sings &q…

Pride ... and Prejudice

After years of watching film versions of Jane Austen, I am reading the great Pride and Prejudice with massive amounts of pleasure. This morning I ran across this quote, spoken by Lizzy to Jane when they are discussing Charlotte's marriage to Mr. Collins (who is always portrayed as a little twit in the movies but is actually a tall twit in the book).

"You shall not, for the sake of one individual, change the meaning of principle and integrity, nor endeavor to persuade yourself or me, that selfishness is prudence, and insensibility of danger security for happiness."

Ah, there is a world of wisdom in that quote, for all civilization.

Downs Syndrome Debate

Christianity Today has had some articles about some new medical research that is trying to find a method for reversing some of the developmental problems of Down Syndrome patient. So far, it's only done on mice. But the news opened up a discussion of whether the drug should be used on a Downs Syndrome person early in his/her infancy (at this point the discussion is moot or at least hypothetical).

One writer wrote an emotional denial that it should be used. She is the mother of a little Downs Syndrome girl, and argues about the meaning of broken and fallen and normal and that her daughter doesn't need fixing. Another women, who suffers from a pretty serious genetic disease, added to the conversation by saying she wants to be accepted and not seen as less than whole but she wants a cure, too, and isn't willing to just accept the disease.

So, this is the dilemma: if we are trying to cure conditions like Downs Syndrome, does that mean we aren't accepting the people wh…

Best Pop Songs of All Time

Well, at least I think....

As I said earlier, I have given up listening to the radio in the car, and it's becoming increasingly hard to do. I listen to a lot of music and sometimes silence. Tonight I listened to the anthem album of women of my age, Carole King's Tapestry. It has two of the best pop songs of all time, if not the best from a woman.

Will you still love me tomorrow is about as poignant as it gets. I cry, because it's the song of millions of women (and maybe men) who make a decision they know they will regret. Or maybe not. The song ends with an indication that she is changing her mind. Here are the words.

Tonight you're mine completely
You give you love so sweetly
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes
But will you love me tomorrow?

Is this a lasting treasure
Or just a moment's pleasure?
Can I believe the magic of your sighs?
Will you still love me tomorrow?

Tonight with words unspoken
You say that I'm the only one
But will my heart be broken
When the …

To Embarass My Son


To tenure or not to tenure?

Every college professor in the country has probably been riveted to the story of the biology prof at UA-Huntsville who shot six of her colleagues, killing three. I'm sure a lot of dark humor has been shared, behind closed doors, and will be. It is of course not a laughing matter. If anyone in my presence blames the victim, they will get an earful. Lots of profs are denied tenure every year, and I know some of them; this is the first to my knowledge that killed over it.

Tenure is a mystery to nonacademics. The idea that it means a life-time job is wrong. A tenured professor, at least in Georgia, can still be dismissed for due cause, it's just harder to do. And we have post-tenure review every so many years to make sure we are keeping up professionally. So this idea that a professor gets tenure and becomes a bum is wildly incorrect.

I am sure there is, at most places, more personality and politics in the process than there should be. In my experience at my college, that…

Valentime's Day

That's not a typo. Someone on facebook asked why people say it that way (she should have added " . . .in Northwest Georgia"). She could have also asked why they say Altimers disease and Walmark.

Valentine's Day should make one cogitate about love. Love is idolized, but most of the talk about love I hear is sentimental and well-intentioned but also a defense of ill-considered or even immoral behavior. We can justify anything by "love" it seems; crimes of passion, abandoning our children, adultery. This is the love of self and feeling and body, not the heart and mind and the spirit. It is the love that makes Hollywood movies where the couple that will be are always with others who have to be cheated on or discarded because of unworthiness.

Most Christians know the eros, phileo, agape distinction; it's a cliche now, but it underscores one of the areas where English is deficient in comparison to other languages, which is rare. Even Spanish makes a di…


To continue my list from yesterday . . .
21. Nessum Dorma
22. Snow, occasionally. We don't get it much, and already we've had three snows in the last six weeks, all on Friday. Yesterdays was very pretty, two inches, dry and powdery, but it's pretty much gone now. Further south got more, and further north got none, as I found out today.
23. Hot tea after a cold walk.
24. Coming home. This is especially appropriate today because I drove 150 miles north to see my son at his college, and drove back just in time to miss driving in the dark, which age has made almost an impossibility for me.
25. Seeing my son.

I have given up most media for Lent (yes, folks, I'm serious. I think Lent is a good idea if done rightly). But I still read the paper; no Christian has the right to be ignorant of the world. I am puzzled/frightened/aghast at a story that Pres. Obama is going to use more executive orders to get what he wants done. Of course, left wingers would say, "Hey,…

My Favorite Things

I've been doing a lot of bloviating and whining on this blog, so tonight less list some of our favorite things. Readers join in. No particular order.

1. Jane Austen
2. Mozart, Bach, Handel
3. Greek Food
4. children's laughter
5. Watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance
6. LOST in all its convoluted messes
7. Taking a Bible passage apart and really digging into it
8. Mountains
9. Julie Andrews' voice
10. Sunsets and sunrises
11. Picking fresh vegetables out of my garden on a summer morning
12. Silent Night at Brainerd Baptist Church on Christmas Eve with all the candles
13. Ansel Adams photographs
14. Rembrandt
15. Museums
16. Weekends
17. Reading
18. Hiking
19. Golf courses
20. The end of a semester and the beginning, too.

I have not listed any people because people aren't things.

And So Here is Number 300

This is my 300th blog post. I started this blog in 2006 as an experiment for a class I was teaching. I didn't start posting seriously until 2008, as the ledger to the side will show, although I think all of them have some merit. Lots of Bible studies, book reviews, commentary on the news, mini-lectures on academic subjects, a short story or two, and some (a lot) of random stuff. One thing I have learned is that it is pointless to have a blog unless you do it every day or so. I have gone to a lot of blogs whose last posting is two years ago.

In keeping with my randomly randomness, here is a great article on a stupid subject, botox. Like most of my reading recommendations, it is affiliated with Christianity Today, the magazine that saved me from fundamentalism or maybe saved me from myself. I was at a period when I thought there had to be thinking Christians somewhere. I found it in CT and ha…

Of Two Minds--Sort of

This is my 299th post on this blog. I'm just sayin' . . .

A subject that fascinates and repels me is that of dualism. The philosophy of dualism controls more of our lives than we realize, but let me be quick to say that the opposite of dualism--is kind of hard to define. Since dualism is the philosophy of opposites, and I reject dualism, then logically I would reject the opposite of dualism, right?

Enough of that nonsense. It's not that I reject all dualism, but I do reject it as a world view, as an interpretation of the universe. So, moving on . . .

Dualism says there are two forces in the world, opposing and equal. They will go on forever that way, opposing each other but of equal strength. Ying/yang; black/white; good/evil; devil/God; flesh/spirit; body/mind. So that's the definition. What's the problem? Well, first of all, it's not really Biblical or in line with traditional Christian (well, Augustinian and Reformed) doctrine. Because there is only…

Daily Dailiness

I'm glad to see I'm getting some readers to this blog, and some encouragement. I also get "snipers" or something who post either obscene or advertising (or sometimes both) things. Oh, well. It's easily remedied.

I've always liked and sort of defended Sarah Palin but I am beginning to wonder. "Hopey changey thing?" What's that about? Hardly presidential. And she can't be inconsistent about the "r" word (which amazes me that adults use that to denote anybody, much less as an insult). My mother taught me better. In this 24/7 news cycle, any of these people should know that every word is on the record. At the same time, I know she gets taken out of context.

A student told me today that she loved my book and that she could see it as a Hallmark movie if you took out the political stuff! That floored me. She meant it as a compliment, and if she was referring to some of the old Hallmarks, yes, but some of those on the channel are…

Reading Recommendation

Last night I finished--in one day, really--the book "Jim and Caspar Go to Church." Jim, a Pentecostal who has pastored, run businesses, and studied and written books about evangelism and marketing, hired an atheist, Caspar (his last name) to go to churches with him and critique/discuss what he saw and experienced. He goes to a good mix of megachurches, traditional churches, emerging/emergent churches (two different things, although many people use the words interchangeably), a house church, inner city churches, all-white, all-black, etc. Everything from Mark Driscoll to Joel Osteen (who gets the worst rating, no surprise; I would give him the worst as well). It was fascinating reading, and anybody who does church work should read it.

Not that I agreed with everything in the book, but that's not the point. If you only read books you agree with, why read? It helped me define some issues I've been struggling with for a long time, such as how we do church, why is eva…

2/4/2010 Postings--Try to find a theme

It's raining here, but I went for my walk any wayand am enjoying old movies and the warmth of hot tea and a quilt after a long day of reluctant students and administrative minutia.

I was handpicked to help with the QEP for SACS. Only academics will know or care what that means. The Quality Enhancement Plan for the Southern Association of College and Schools. Accredition guff. Every seven to ten years we get to play this game in higher education. I'm the editor for the QEP, which I guess means it's my responsibility to be sure there are no typos in it.

Of course, after making a big deal of LOST I should post something. It's as entertaining as ever, and as frustrating, but there won't be new mysteries or characters, thankfully. I imagine it is silly for a 54-year-old woman to be "into" a popular show like this, but good writing and storytelling is good writing and storytelling. I liked Avatar but not the subtext. Anyway, the spiritual good-evil quasi…

Don't Ask ...

As much as I surprise myself even to say this, I am having a hard time getting exercised (or is it exorcised) about the Don't Ask, Don't Tell thing; oddly enough, I can't get excited about it on either side. On the con side:
1. I don't think gays are this great mistreated group in America.
2. I imagine a lot of gays want to be in the military for the benefits (but so do non-gays)and if they are allowed to "marry" (God forbid)that will make benefits to "spouses" possible.
3. The military's purpose is not to perform social experiments.

On the pro-side (or non-con side):
1. The military needs them, if they are good soldiers, and apparently they are
2. If the military doesn't have a problem with it, I'm not sure we non-military folks really have any business interfering.
3. The social experiment argument may have been relevant 20 years ago, but as much as I hate to say it, gays are more accepted and in general people don't get as astoni…


I rarely watch network TV (except for LOST, which is on tonight!!!), but I did watch 20/20 the other night on ABC. I caught the interview of Andrew Young and his wife. Of course, when I hear the name Andrew Young I always think of the civil rights leader, but this Andrew Young is no leader. At least neither he nor his wife defended what they did, which was pretty despicable.

What did they do? Cover for that sleazy John Edwards. Lied and said Andrew was the father of her baby. Keep the nut job Edwards was having an affair with under wraps (like she didn't plan on all this happening!) The interviewer (it's the gentleman who experienced so much brain injury in Iraq, and I'm glad to see he's back and working and sorry I can't think of his name) showed clip after clip of Edwards lying about the affair and the baby. Edwards convinced the Youngs to do this because (a) his wife was dying (supposedly) and (b) he was going to be president or vice president. Why did …

So Glad It's February

1. The days are appreciably and noticeably longer. I can come home from work and still have time to go for a walk only partially in the dark!
2. I have many wonderful activities planned for this month, including several Teaching and Learning Center programs, a trip to South Georgia that will allow me to see an old friend, getting doctor's appointments out of the weigh (yuch), and starting a discipleship class.
3. LOST comes back on tomorrow night!!!
4. It's a short month and we have spring break at the end of it.
5. I have a lot of great books to read and I feel like writing again.
6. The SuperBowl will be over (and Peyton Manning will win it, ha, ha).
7. January was a hard month. Cold, for one; I had to face my age and start taking cholesterol meds; my son went back to college (well, that's not all bad); tragedies like Haiti, and a slight feeling of malaise. Yes, I'm glad it's February, even if the little rodent does see his shadow tomorrow. I don't …