Showing posts from September, 2013

Job 28, Notes on a Lesson

Job 22-27

The Silence of God

This link goes to an insightful piece on the times we believe God is silent.  I am studying Job for a lesson and it is far more eloquent than I can do.

Using silence as a teaching tool is hard for us today, but there is really no learning without silence.

Breakpoint Gets It Right, As Usual

This link will take you to a commentary on Down's Syndrome.

I am not going to pretend that having a child with Down's is easy, but neither is a child with epilepsy (as mine was), juvenile diabetes (a friend), severe allergies (lots of friends), heart condition, learning disabilities, ADD, etc.  If you want an easy life, don't have a child.  the high rate (reportedly 90%) of people who abort their Down's babies is concurrent with a better quality of life for Down's children.  Ironic. 

In this link, they comment on the fact that Time Magazine put football on a cover in the U.S. but Putin on it in other countries.  While the link above is heartwarmig, this one is maddening.…

Artificial Intelligence, the Movie, My Thoughts

I am twelve years or more behind in posting this (there wasn't blogging back then, really).  I finally watched this movie the other night because it was on TCM, late.  I managed to stay up for it despite its going off at 1:30.

It was imaginative; it was more Spielberg than Kubrick; it was too long, with a tacked on ending.  Kubrick would have ended it with David staring forever at the blue fairy underwater; he had a darker vision.  Spielberg has a habit of sinking into some unneeded pathos at times.  His best movies are Schindler's List and Lincoln--and maybe Saving Private Ryan--where he couldn't do that.   Of course he is one of the greatest filmmakers, but that doesn't mean I have to like all of them.  Faulkner was brilliant but I am not going to read him for enjoyment.

I had two issues with the movie as far as getting emotionally involved in it.  We are supposed to fall in love with David, but I couldn't.  He was just a machine, and I would no more fall in love…

Emily Dickinson Home, Gardens, and Gravesite

One can understand her poetry much better after visiting Amherst! 

The Shack, Literary Quality, Heresy, and Food for Thought

I ran across this blog post.  It is more valuable, I think, for its insights on Christian literature than for its review of The Shack, although that part of it is quite good, too.

Blogging revisited

This week a colleague asked me to write a letter of recommendation for him for his promotion review.  I did so gladly.  We got to talking and he said he would like a funny one to put in his folder, so I said I would write one.  Unfortunately, its humor was too scathing, not of him, but of the president (of U.S., not college, of course) so it's not usable.  But I had fun writing it. 

I thought about posting it here and realized, during contemplation this morning, that that would be a bad idea.  I want to keep this blog, from now on, positive and educational, and my political views wouldn't do that.  I sincerely do not want readers to confuse my political views with my educational, scholarly, or spiritual viewpoints.  For one, the church has been too hurt by political connections; it's the biggest mistake we made in the last forty years. 

I want this blog to start to develop my brand and platform; eventually I want to get a website, but I don't have time to maintain it r…

The Zen of Social Media Marketing

I recently received this book in the mail, having ordered it because I am teaching a course in epublishing next semester (I hope!) and I want to learn about leveraging social media.

I have only read the first chapter and realized I have done everything wrong.  I tried to get a bunch of Facebook friends.  That didn't really work because of the way Facebook works; you don't see everyone's posts, just the ones you are responding to a lot; therefore, those 1000 people aren't seeing my marketing, which is essentially spam anyway.

If one is going to market online, it's a full-time job, not an occasional post.

She says that the Zen part (I'm not a Buddhist, so I think that word is used as a marketing ploy for the book) is to not try so hard.  Baloney.  For most of us, marketing is extremely hard work.  But the book looks like it has good ideas, and I plan to use it as a text for the class, at least at this point.

Working full-time as a college professor trying to earn…

A couple of new addictions

That title was meant to hook people.  We have, as a society, taken to calling strong desires and habits addictions, even when they are not. 

But two things I have recently been "turned on to" (what a cliche) are Foyle's War and Vanilla Chai Tea.  We can watch all the old episodes of Foyle's War on Netflix, and new ones are on Masterpiece Mystery now.  I am totally enthralled by them; I find them so nuanced, with such great production values (except all the cars look new, of course, but that's always the case because the cars are classics and the owners want them taken care of.  They wouldn't be new at the time of the war in Britain.)  They take a lot of mind work, though; they are not for the casual watcher.  I have learned some history from them, and they are totally from a British point of view in terms of the war.  I also find it interesting that the only people who swear are the Americans; the British must have seen the American soldiers as pretty proflig…

Thoughts from a lesson on Job

My friend from the Netherlands taught class this morning   She did very well; I don't think she realizes her gift.

Some thoughts:

God never condemns Job's grief, sarcasm, questions, doubts, despondency, emotions, cries. 

In the last chapter, Job's friends, who did not represent God correctly in their arguments, are condemned but given grace "when Job prayed for them."

Friends, although needed, are not the ultimate help. 

Job's wife is only mentioned once.  What happened to her?  I think she may have been a second wife anyway, especially if he really did have a bunch more children at her age.  But God doesn't judge her either.

Our responses to adversity, pain, loss, will be different for each person.  Our quick "I know how you feel" or "I'm sorry" is often a trope, a default, a cliche, and thus meaningless. 

Our responses in adversity are often based on our expectations of God, which might be totally wrong.

One of those expectations…

Being Interviewed

The other day I spent a half-hour on the phone with a researcher from a firm (no names) asking me questions about a graduate program in communication at a famous, large Midwestern university.  My son had given them my name because the interview was about parents' perceptions of the new program, but I told her I was a professor of communication and that kind of altered the course of it.  She asked me some really interesting questions and I was very candid and I hope helpful.

However, (as we say in the South, bless her heart), everything I said was brilliant.  What I mean is that she responded to everything I said with affirmations of how interesting and important they were, and at first I was pleased with myself, but I caught on after a while.  I am not that brilliant.  But she was doing her job well, because she got me talking.

A little affirmation goes a long way.

Trinity Revisited

A long time ago I posted a piece called "The Incomplete Trinity," in which I argued that Christian theology leaves the Holy Spirit out; if not the theology, the practice.  I still believe that; we are afraid of too much talk about the Holy Spirit because of charismatics, I guess.

I was taught, in fundamentalism, not to pray to the Holy Spirit, nor even to Jesus, but only to God the Father.  It was a kind of hierarchy in the trinity, I suppose, that we were supposed to follow, but I am not sure about. 

The trinity is probably the most difficult subject in Christian theology, and no physical imagery explains it; water, eggs, etc.  But making each person permanently subordinate another, and forbidding prayer to one person of the trinity (as if it were a private conversation and the other two are left out!) seems kind of silly if not heretical.

I bring this up because the early Reformation church was trinitarian and prayed to all three persons of the trinity. In the Valley of Vi…

Tenure and Promotion

These two words are hot topics in higher education.  I have tenure; I have received a promotion to associate professor; I hope one day to be full professor, if I stay in my job after earning the doctorate.   But . . .

Tenure and promotion may just be a scam.  "It only matters if you don't have it," as a colleague said about the doctorate, may be true of tenure and promotion.  Tenure does not mean permanent job security; when we get promotions, our salaries increase just a bit, and we can't get these promotions but every six or seven years, if that.  So who made up this system? 

Tenure is a carrot held out to professors that may really be a disincentive to look for better positions.  If you don't have it at your current institution, it's harder to get a job elsewhere, so you had better fly the coop before it's too late.

Maybe this will get me in trouble!  But my views are not shared by others, certainly not.  All I am saying is that a better system may be …

A second look at some song lyrics that made me mad

Below I have posted the lyrics to the Casting Crown's Song, Jesus Friend of Sinners.  I heard this on the radio the other day (for the umpteenth time) and got mad.

Why?  Well, maybe it's because it's self-focused, like so many of our songs nowadays.  Maybe it's the line, "Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers."  How does he know I'm pointing fingers?

Christians do so much self-loathing that they don't see what is actually being done in terms of care for the poor, etc.  Yes, more could be done; the work of restoration will never be done.  But sometimes why don't we just celebrate what God is doing through the church than falling back on the trope--which the world tells us is true even when it's not--that all the church does is point fingers at all the bad sinners and stay in our ivory towers looking down on people? If all we do is talk about what we don't do, isn't there a big possibility that we will misplace …

Project Keepsake

Good news! One of my pieces, and pieces by 49 other writers, will be included in the first edition (I expect more in the future) of Project Keepsake, the brainchild of my friend Amber Lanier NagleClick here for more information.  My piece is about my grandmother's quilts; I am pleased she wanted to include it. 

The book should come out in February 2014, published by Ink Smith.

Amber is a former engineer who decided to reinvent herself as a freelance writer, and she's an Edison in that regard.  She's been published in many magazines, but Project Keepsake is her big baby.  I'm looking forward to it!

Amber also does workshops about writing about keepsakes.  I am going to have her talk to my epublishing class in the spring.

Lifeboat, Metropolis

Watched this masterpiece last night on TCM.  Wonder why it's not shown before.  Definitely worth a view. Provocative film.  You can read about it on, but reviews don't do it justice.

I also watched the full Metropolis (1925) last week.  Another masterpiece because of its vision and execution even if the story is maudlin.  It is a quasi-Christian redemption story at its core:  the evangelist Maria tries to spread a message that the head and hand must be united by the heart in order to redeem the society.  The society is a futuristic one where the workers, drones, live below to keep the elites in comfort.  The hands vs. heads, get it?  The son of the head head decides to join the workers and live with them because he sees the injustice of the system.  There is an evil genius who creates a robot that he (and this is kind of dumb) converts into a living being through sucking something out of Maria, and the robot is her spitting image, of course.  She is a temptress while …

If your eye offends you . . .

Our pastor preached on this passage this morning, from the Sermon on the Mount.  It was provocative.  The Big Idea:  get to the root of the temptation of your sin and cut it out of your life.  Be real about such things.  Don't try to deal with the symptoms; get to the root.

That is why fasting from media may be the best thing to do.  All our sinful desire will not go away if we turn off cable and the Internet; of course not, since what defiles us comes from within.  But the media does nothing but feed such practices and desires.

For some reason, my Facebook "friends" like to post pictures of gooey deserts.  I'm not sure those seductive pictures help anyone with their eating habits!

Seriously, we are just playing with this topic.  We hear the truth and say, "But God doesn't really want me to give up . . . " when that is exactly what God wants, for our own good.  If it seems like God is saying to give something up, it's worth listening to (unless of c…

Red Letter Christians revisited

Red Letter Christians confuse me.  They say we more conservative Christians are inconsistent in our practice of scripture, and I suppose they think themselves more righteous for focusing on the red letter parts of the Bible (Jesus' words).  But . . .

The same Old Testament law that requires that in a theocracy for the poor to be cared for also requires capital punishment for sodomy and doesn't even have laws for abortion since such a thing is so unspeakable in the ancient Hebrew mind.  Only in a case of a miscarriage by force is there a discussion of penalty (and it's severe).

In the New Testament period we no longer live in a theocracy, but in a multicultural and opposing world; the church is a community apart, and should be chaste and distinctive.  Yes, care for the least of these is vital, and I espouse that and try to live it.  But their justification of left-wing social causes is just plain weird. 

So, their trying to justify same-sex marriage and abortion rights the…

Consistent inconsistencies, and inconsistent consistencies--and a box of tampons

On the same theme of my last post, I was listening to NPR today when coming home from my Sunday morning activities of church and visiting my mom.  I also went to Cracker Barrel with my Sunday School class ladies for lunch and had the friend chicken salad, which was very good, by the way.   On the radio I listened to New Dimensions.

I really don't know why a show about religion is on NPR, because they definitely wouldn't play John Piper or Chuck Swindoll.  But I digress.  I listen to this show frequently and although I object to its basic world view, I am often intrigued by it, especially when it focuses on literature or writing, which it, sort of, was today.  I do not remember the speaker, but one can go to its website to find out.  He had written a book Open Mind, Wise Mind and was speaking about openness in creativity.

I am a firm believer that we all have much more creativity than we realize, and that it is possible to "tap" into our subconscious to unleash it, an…

NPR extremes, feminism, oppression, and the middle way

Yesterday I spent some time in the car (on a Saturday afternoon) which meant listening to some talk programs on NPR.  I am afraid that I don't remember which ones they were, but they were on in the late afternoon, between 4 and 6 in this area.

There was an interesting juxtaposition in these programs.  One of them was an interview with a young woman who has recently written the book The Witness Wore Red.  She was in the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints cult growing up and was "married," at a young age to the patriarch Jeffs, the father of Warren Jeffs.  Her "husband" was in his late 80s at the time and died not long afterward, and he of course had many other "wives" at this time.  She was told by Warren Jeffs that she would have to marry again, since their "theology" demands marriage and childbearing for "salvation."  This young woman stood up to Jeffs but he was determined to break her will and spirit, but she managed to escape bef…


I watched this movie yesterday, on a local station called THIS which has way too many commercials at key points in the movie, breaking up the flow.

I had read it years ago in a lit book.  In that book it was presented as a modern day equivalent to Antigone, so I had read it that way.  It is that (maybe) and more.

Seeing it acted is different than reading it; I experienced it differently. 

It is a controversial play/movie and one can go elsewhere for discussions about what it is or is not saying about sexual harassment.  To me it was more of a debate-causer about higher education.

What makes me qualified to stand in front of my class?  Well, SACS--the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has a lot to do with it.  They say a college teacher must have a certain credential to teach.  I do have those credentials, two masters degrees and hopefully in two years a doctorate.  But to get started, to be allowed in front of a class, that's pretty much it.  Now, in some colleges the s…

Indescribably Hypocrisy

I can't help but feel that those who support Obama are afraid to be honest about his warmongering. 

I also can't imagine why he thinks a missile strike on Syria will help anything.  What are the possible outcomes:

1.  collateral damage (the world's worst euphemism since "friendly fire") that will be worse than the tragedy caused by the chemical weapons.
2.  Assad emboldened to do more gassing
3.  Escalation
4.  Israel threatened
5.  Other Arab/Muslim nations angered
6.  The possibility that the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Quaeda, and such rebel groups will take over and kill more people in the middle.

If he is trying to paint this as:  "Assad did a bad thing, let's punish him," that is so simplistic and naive that either he is incompetent or thinks we are fools (both are possible).  Assad will not be punished by this move.  Worse, we do not understand the whole situation in Syria--who is fighting who.  It is not a bunch of freedom fighters trying to oust…

Anger Management

Our pastor gave a vital sermon on anger this morning.  Obviously, it got me to thinking.

Where does anger come from?

Not getting what one wants.
Perceiving potential obstacles to what one wants
Certain triggers (phrases, sights, contexts) that one has been "trained" to respond to in anger
Not understanding a context or expression
A sense that in injustice is taking place, either to oneself or others
Making a huge mistake (we can be angry at ourselves)

Or a combination of these.

The only solution to anger is to recognize its causes and then rescript what is behind what we want.  I responded very angrily (but not "madly") to certain news at work the other day.  Some of that came from a sense of injustice and also from a sense of being taken advantage of, a sense that I have trained myself, by choice, to respond to in anger.   But I am taken advantage of because I let it, so I was angry and continually frustrated in myself for letting that happen.

Anger at others dema…

Shooting Guns

My husband went up into Marion County, TN, yesterday afternoon and shot at the range at Prentice Cooper State Park.  This was my first time at an outdoor range.

We shot .22s and a 30-30 that belongs to his brother and that he has been cleaning.  I actually did not shoot the 30-30 because the kickback was too strong.  He had bought an automatic .22 for me that I didn't know about, a choice that did not make me happy, actually.  But I enjoy shooting and the open range was an interesting experience.

There were several others there, but not as many as I would have expected.  There are spaces for targets 10 yards away, 50 yards, and 100 yards.  We shot at the 50 yards.  When someone has to go get his/her target, the call "cold range" goes out so that no one will, of course, shoot or even mess with a gun while the person is walking to the target.  To save time, more than one will go at that break time.  I went out to get the targets when I was finished and had to admit that gu…

Update on Sept. 6, 2013

I am getting a lot of traffic to this blog but don't know why.  I posted a lot last weekend but will probably take a break because life, doctoral work, and actual work are demanding a lot right now.