Saturday, July 26, 2014

Thoughts on guilt

After posting, I realized this is post number 1200.  Not bad.  Some of these are brilliant, some inane. The brilliant ones I probably didn't write.

I had a flash this morning that a lot of our guilt is self-inflicted and a result of self-absorption.  I am experiencing caregiver guilt, and although I can tell myself it is irrational, that doesn't solve a problem.  We can tell ourselves truths but it takes our emotions (and the bodily responses that go along with emotions) a long time to catch up with the truths.  Guilt of this type comes from a belief that we can of ourselves relieve suffering and stop or slow down the dying process, which is not in our hands.  It reminds us how limited we are, which is a good thing to be reminded of.  In Beth Moore's study in James she writes, "we are supposed to need God."  There is a lot to think about in those six words.  Part of my problem, as with most of us, is innate belief I can handle it and that I am supposed to handle it.  I cannot and am not, on either score.

Being in the middle of a doctoral dissertation doesn't help much.

Reading, before going to bed at night, Anna Karenina.  What a book.  Like most 19th century novels, it goes off on unexplainable tangents about politics or social conditions, which of course slows down the story and no novelist would do today.  And although the movies always focus on the beautiful, tormented Anna, half of the book is about Kitty and Levin.  Levin gets almost as much page time as Anna.  I think Tolstoy is Levin, so self-doubting, so unsure, so mercurial in a caring way.  There are some amazing passages about life tucked into this really long story.  Perhaps I will go through and write them all down eventually.  Now, in terms of Anna, I haven't come to a conclusion.  "The heart loves who it loves" is the world's excuse (one from Woody Allen, a little pervert).  Anna would say the same.  I think Tolstoy eventually wants to say that the real, higher form of love does not act like Anna's does, which is pretty self-serving and obsessed.  But she is a woman at a time when women had fewer options.  She felt unloved; Vronsky makes her feel loved.  That is all that matters, right?  Lots to think about here, which is why it's a classic.  Unlike 50 Shades of Gray.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Books for Sale Revisited

Less than a week ago, there were 33 copies of my first novel on Amazon.  Now there are 15, so 18 of them have sold in the last few days.  If anyone knows why, please let me know.  I hope someone is reading them.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Checking in

Thought I would post just to update. 

I just saw that one of my posts, the one on "Review of Group Dynamics in 12 Angry Men," has 770 hits.  Wow.  Not all of those are spam.  Apparently a lot of college students are looking at my work, and maybe I am being cited.  Something makes me think I am not.  Thank goodness for Turnitin; I wish all profs would use it, as it has been a lifesaver for me.  There are other similar programs but if it ain't broke, I ain't changing.

Mom is declining.  She is in bed 20-21 hours a day, at least.  I got a letter from an insurance company indicating she was dead and they needed a death certificate.  That was upsetting to deal with.  I made burial and funeral arrangements the other day.  I am concerned that I feel so unemotional about all of this; so much has to be done, so I am in "Get her done" mode; there is a lot of guilt involved in this whole process, but it is not about me right now, nor my unreasonable guilt.  My nephew and sons came this weekend, which was nice.

It looks like my play will be produced, but it needs some revisions.  I'll look through it a bit every day.  I am tempted to make it even crazier toward the end, really a parody of Agatha Christie, who almost always has either a former spouse who was a murderer or an illegitimate child who is implicated.  I have read enough of them to know.

16 of my books have been sold on Amazon in the past few days.  What is that about?

Tonight I have to listen to 20 persuasive speeches; I am serving pizza to the students.  I don't always do that, but it's a night class and we'll be there a while.

My son took me to the Mac store the other day to investigate buying one on tax-free day. It's tempting, although I have done so much on this one that it will be hard to give up.  It will die eventually, as it is over 7 years old.  Then we roamed around Barnes and Noble (my nephew was sitting with Mom).  An author from Knoxville was having a book signing.  We talked.  I won't say enough to identify her; she seems rather prolific so I bought one of her (overpriced) books and have been reading it.  It's not literary fiction, more romance Christian inspirational Hallmark kind of stuff, with specific local flair.  It's hard when I read this kind of thing not to think "My stuff is better" (I know Bringing Abundance Back is; it's the best thing I've written but I don't have time now to pursue getting it published); then I read other writers and say, Why am I messing around trying to write fiction?  It makes me feel better to know that books don't have to be that good to get published; they just need to be marketable.  Well, maybe it doesn't make me feel better.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Books for Sale

If you come to this blog because you were on Amazon and saw it, let me say I can sell you new copies (signed) of my books cheaper than on Amazon.  At least the second two.  The prices for those books used is ridiculous.  I will sell Cross Road and Legacy for $10.00 each, plus the real shipping cost.  Post a comment and I'll tell you how to get them.  I have a bunch I need to get shed of.  I really think Cross Road is the best written of the two, and that the second two are much more interesting than Traveling Through, but you probably should read Traveling Through first.

Now, I really wish people would come to this blog and discuss those books.  I think they are controversial.  I'd like somebody to say, "I really hated your book because ....." and give me a good reason.  Well, maybe not hate, but .... 

Political Divide

In my public speaking class, which met last night, the students are preparing their persuasive speeches.  I sometimes think the whole class should be about these speeches, and I often feel they get short shrift, especially in an abbreviated summer class.  But it means we will talk about topics, and same-sex marriage always comes up.

I don't think my students understand I play devil's advocate a lot, nor do they understand my sense of humor, which is probably more like Stephen Colbert's than I want to admit.  I don't always say what I really feel or believe, and I try very hard to judge speeches by their merits, not by what the students express.  On this blog I say things that will probably get me in trouble. 

I remember back in the '70s Francis Schaeffer, a prophet I think, said that the modern world would be focused on the values of affluence and apathy.  This is another way of saying that most people, and I hear it in the words of my students, think in terms of getting ahead financially and not bothering other people (not wanting to take that effort) or being bothered by them (for decisions they have made, which also might include accountability for decisions they have made.  "That is someone else's right," they say, not really understanding what a right is and what rights we actually have.  It is extreme  individualism that has led to the apathy/affluence combination Schaeffer talked about.

I think the real political divide is extreme individualism vs. community, vs. what I want in the short-term vs. what is best for all in the long-term.  Is it best in the long-term for all that we abort our offspring? Is it best in the long-term that we have so many single mothers?  (studies are pretty clear it's not).  Is it best in the long-term that we redefine marriage.  Maybe it is, for some, although I think the same sex marriage debate shows that some of us put a meaning on marriage that the secular society does not.  To many, it is just a legal arrangement that gives people benefits but not much in the way of responsibilities; to others, myself included, it is the core of civilization and has deep personal, cultural, and sacred meaning.  However, I must admit that that view of marriage is in the minority any more.  Even in my Bible Belt classroom, the feeling seemed to be, oh,well, it's inevitable, it's going to happen no matter what, what people want to do is their business, it doesn't affect ME, I just don't want to hear about it any more, I'm tired to the talk."  How world weary!  But I understand it.  I said, if it's inevitable, why talk about it?  Why debate it?  We have no choice.

All that being said, I am not unsympathetic to the same-sex marriage proponents.  I see a lot of their points. And some of them are well meaning, non-gay people who have empathy for others, although I don't see this as a real social problem, not like true poverty or suffering in the rest of the world.    I guess it's just sad to me that there is no longer a consensus about things in this culture, not due to diversity but due to people being focused on themselves and being like the honey badger and not giving a ___ about the overall health of society.  (their attitude)

So, what I am saying is that the divide is between those who care about something other than themselves in the short-term and those who just define the world by their own perspective.

What should we do about the children coming across the border? Why not put them on planes and take them back to their home countries, and let Honduras and El Salvador figure out where to put them?  Why is that so hard.  Or put them up for adoption--that would stop it.  Our focus on non-existent rights has gotten us to this point.  Being humane is not the same as being pushovers.  Would we let people from Japan, Rwanda, Egypt, China, or Canada do the same thing?  Now, that's devil's advocate; we do need to be sure they are protected and fed but not assimilated.  It's not racist; it's good sense.

OK, I guess some people will be mad about my opinions, but I have to wonder why, if I am not mad at you about yours?  Because I have power?  Oh, please.  I have no power.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

We Might as Well Do the Right Thing

This is an excellent article on the Breakpoint site.  I agree wholeheartedly.  When one looks at what is happening in the Middle East, what choice do we have but to follow God wholey and holy. I have been somewhat suspicious of the cultural relevance arguments all along.  In the past, Christians formed the culture rather than trying to keep up with it.

Sunday, July 06, 2014


My sweet husband came up to sit with my mom while I went to Sunday School this morning.  My class is listening to a Beth Moore video series on the book of James.  She knocked it out of the park this morning.

Point one:  Don't protect your students from the truth.  This applies to Bible teaching but I think to all teaching.  Many applications here.  That doesn't mean the truth would have to be slapped in their face, but it shouldn't be sugarcoated to the point it is unrecognizable.

Point two:  She spent half the lesson on the subject of cynicism, in the sense of how the Internet has made it possible for anyone anywhere to get on and criticize and be snarky (she didn't use that word, but it's a good one) about anyone and make it their religion; it is especially the religion of Christian.  She allowed that some people have had great disappointments, especially from working in churches, but that these folks needed to get their eyes off their disappointments and see what God is doing.  Jesus is still radically changing lives, people are still humbly serving God, and the word is being spread and studied.  Barriers are breaking down (she didn't mention racial ones, but she could have).  There is no reason to be cynical from wallowing in our own experiences.  I think we can be wary of evangelical excesses and "religious pop culture" (her term) but cynicism is not Biblical or Spirit-led.  It's a sin of superiority.

She also said she was shocked to see what people had written about her on the Internet.  I was a little surprised by that (not to be cynical here!) but perhaps she expects the best in people.  I would not be shocked by anything a person would write about me on the Internet because there are no boundaries, no restrictions, no safeguards, and no consequences, really, to what's on the Internet.

I confess to my own cynicism and my struggles with it, which is why I appreciated her talk.  I confess to even having written things about Beth Moore, mostly that she is overdramatic and frothy at times, but it's her thing, her shtick, just like I have my shtick in the classroom (animation, extreme statements to get attention, coming off like a mean person the first eight weeks and then being Mrs. Nice Guy.)  She has solid teaching and sometimes wields the sword just where it needs to be.

I likewise confess to other cynical comments in this blog, one of them about the book by Rosario Champlain on her conversion.  I was being honest; sometimes there is a fine line.  May we always be aware of it and not cross it.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014


Isn't it interesting that God designed the human body to need to sleep about one third of its life? 

I mentioned this to my husband and he said, "And we are supposed to take a Sabbath rest."  So that adds more time to the rest.

God knew we would work all the time if we could, because of pride and greed.  Even the earth (farmland) was supposed to take Sabbaths, and by extension the animals.  It is an issue of proper ordering of life. 

I am thoughtful about this because my brother is visiting and I slept in my own bed last night, at home, after three weeks gone.  It was nice, but my nerves and concern are with my mother, knowing she has gotten dependent on me.  I think sometimes, I'll rest when all of this is over, but that is not going to sustain me and is prideful.  I tend not to let others take up the burden, which is prideful (even something as stupid as taking the trash to the dump, my husband's job).  Hence, a need for Sabbath, even if it is not necessarily on the weekend. 

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Logic 101, Hobby Lobby, Facebook, and the Supremes

Of course, people had to use Facebook to make their comments on the Supreme Court decision in favor of Hobby Lobby.  What was clear to me from these posts is that
1.  People had not read the decision, and
2.  People become so entrenched in their commitment to Obama that they can't deal with issue
3.  Logic and Facebook do not coexist.

Argument 1:  Because Hobby Lobby sells stuff from China, they ...... They what?  Don't have any legal standing?  Don't have a right to go to the Supreme Court with their case?  We shouldn't shop there?  They are morally reprehensible?  Then no one in this country has any rights, because we all buy Chinese crap, and we are all morally reprehensible.  Now, I don't shop there (I think I bought some fabric at one ten years ago) and I do try very hard not to buy anything from China, which is quite difficult, almost impossible.  But that argument is a total red herring.  It has absolutely nothing to do with the Supreme Court case.

Argument 2:  This means that now if an employer doesn't want to pay for blood transfusions, etc. they won't have to.  Well, first of all, read the whole opinion.  It's a narrowly stated decision for a "closely-held" corporation.  Secondly, anybody ever heard of slippery slope?  Good grief.  The reality is, though, that more and more companies will stop giving health benefits due to Obamacare.

What is most frustrating to me is the human inability to say, "I was wrong or might have been wrong."  "I voted for Obama because I am not a racist, so everything he does must be right and I will go out of my way to think up illogical arguments to support him against any criticism because he is Obama and I voted for him and therefore he must be right no matter what he does."   This is one of the stronger posts I have put up here but I wish some people would come to the realization that the man was not qualified for the job.  More than the ACA decision, people should be concerned about the midterm appointments/National Labor Relations Board decision, which stated he was acting unconstitutionally.

Public Speaking Online: Part III

This is a continuation of articles below on speaking for webinars, etc.  Experts give a few other preparation tips...