Saturday, August 29, 2015

Friday Nights

Last evening at about 6:00 I took my dog for her normal walk at a local high school, since I knew there would be a football game.  6:00 was too late, really, but it allowed me to experience the phenomenon of high school football.

I spoke with a police officer as I was leaving, one who admired my pitbull, and he said they were expecting 7,000 people, about 1/8 of the population of the county.  The game was between the high school my son attended and the new kid on the block (in the county), and my son's school has won seven times, and that included last night.

What mattered to me, though, was the party fervor of it all.  Tailgating and collapsible tents, soft drinks and tea set out, adults visiting.  Trucks and SUVs galore.  A drum corps my dog and I had to walk through, her not very happy about it and doing everything she could to bolt away to a quieter place.  I am still just a tad stronger than she and kept her under control, but I learned my lesson.  Cheerleader, color guard, marching band, far outnumbering the players.  The slowly cooling air as the sun was starting to set; the weather has been dry rather than humid this week, allowing for more comfort.  Teenage boys yelling at each other car to car.  A very long line trying to find a parking space ($3.00 a piece) while I am, thankfully, leaving.  People parking at the Middle School across the street and walking to avoid the fee, and because the spaces are used up.

I wrote about this in one of my novels (Cross Road) from the perspective of a non-American; it was time for me to see it again.  Years ago I went with my son to some of his games, but it had been a while.  Everyone needs to go to a high school game, or the preceding parts, every once in a while.   


Some people have been putting memes (I use that for lack of a better word) on Facebook implying that the tragic murder, on air, of the reporter and cameraman in Roanoke by a gay black man is "equal" to the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson, MO, and that the media's lack of reporting on it as a hate crime, etc. is an injustice.


All murders are equal; all murders are unequal.  All killings are equal but are also unequal.  We cannot measure pain and loss of human life in mathematical terms.  And we should have a long time ago stop expecting the media to report fairly and justly and equitably ON ANYTHING.  I understand the frustration of the persons posting these memes, but they miss the deep complexities of the two. 

One person was killed because he was in the process of being arrested and a policeman felt threatened, perhaps justifiably or not; he was left to lie in the street for hours that night.  It is the tip of the iceberg of a long, long problem in this country not just about black people and the police but the role of police in general, the vast majority of whom are dedicated public servants the media is on a campaign to malign.  Which is not to say there are no mentally ill, racist police officers out there.  The policeman's life and career are greatly altered by that one encounter; he will probably never get past that night.

The other murders were intentional, planned, public, immediately mourned, followed by a suicide of a truly disturbed, pitiful individual.  They are equal in death, but not in circumstances. 

Stop trusting the media.  That is my lesson over and over.  Use multiple sources, sift facts from conjecture and opinion, recognize gaps and inconsistencies. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Ten Years Later

Ten years ago Katrina hit. Chaos theory says that a butterfly in Japan affects the weather in Ringgold, GA.  I don't know about that, but I know Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico affected me and many friends here.

One friend's home in Biloxi was spared while the houses in her subdivision literally vanished.  I visited coastal MS for a short disaster relief trip in December of 2008, and we drove through New Orleans (and I have no intention of going back) on horribly hot day in July in 2006 or 2007.  I heard on the radio today that 10,000 homes still have not been touched.  That is hard to imagine.

The town we visited for disaster relief was Lakeshore, MS, where the congregation of the Baptist church said they would not rebuild the church until the community's home were restored.  And they did, only within the last two years or so finishing the church.  We were there to help with homes.

The pastor of my church lost everything in Katrina and moved away; we have other persons in our church who were displaced.  My friend whose home was spared eventually moved away, too. The numbers on that are high.

NPR has been covering the tenth anniversary all month, but I noticed how silent they were on the role churches--all denominations and Catholic--had played in rebuilding.  Of course they would.  We can't expect National Pagan Radio to acknowledge the kingdom of God.  (I call it that but still listen to, borrow from, and enjoy it a great deal.  I even have given it money.  Being a donor gives me rights, maybe?)

Some believe Katrina was a judgment on a corrupt city, but then a lot of other places are overdue.  Others see it as the opportunity NOLA needed to clean up its act.  Some still blame George W. Bush for it, which seems like the height of irrationality.  Some wonder why ten years later so much still waits to be done when so much money was sent there.  Many, like me, wonder if these questions will ever be answered. 

Autumn Sonata, Ingmar Bergman film

Today was Ingrid Bergman day on TCM, and she made one film with Ingmar Bergman, Autumn Sonata, which was shown earlier this evening.  This is film at its best, one to watch over and over except not at close intervals because the emotion is so raw and real.

My husband asked me if that was common between mothers and daughters.  I said some, but not most.  I don’t think that is the point, that this is a microcosm of all mothers and daughters.  It’s about this one, a “selfish” woman (subjective) who put her career as a classical pianist on tour before being at home with her children, one of whom is disabled in some way (the disease is so vaguely portrayed that it comes across metaphorical rather than real).  The other adult daughter is suffering from grief (from death of child), depression, anxiety, and some deep abandonment from her mother that she interprets as hate.  I am not sure it really is hate, though.  She wants her mother’s love and maybe her mother to suffer to, as if another person’s suffering would make right, wash away, or redeem our own.

In the end, the daughter writes a letter to the mother asking forgiveness for unloading her “hatred” on her  (in what is the central scene of the movie) during a visit by her mother.  She says something profound that made me pause and think hard and feel even harder.

“The important thing in life is to take care of each other . . . . I will never let you vanish out of my life again. I'm going to persist. I won't give up, even if it is too late. I don't think it is too late. It must not be too late.”

I was reminded of a hero of mine, Henri  Nouwen, a theologian and scholar who left public and successful ministry to take care of the disabled in a community in Ontario. 

More than a totally realistic portrayal of a mother and daughter, I see the film as an exploration of how deeply we can be hurt, beyond rationality, by our parents but also how pain is not always an outside force that impinges upon us without our own complicity and our own enlargement of it.  The daughter did not, in her cruel diatribe against her mother, take any responsibility for her own unhappiness; she framed herself as a total victim, and doing so closes us off completely from recovering, control, forgiveness, and freedom. 

On of the posters on IMDB called it misogynistic dreck because the women actors were “forced” to say lines that portrayed female stereotypes of the depressed, meek daughter under her patriarchal father and husband pitted against the career woman b---- mother.  It’s an interesting take, except that the actresses could have said no to the script (rather than being forced, which makes a director sound like a rapist), and seeing them as archetypes rather than particulars is unnecessary.

And of course the acting is superb.  Ingrid Bergman always had such an expressive face, so sensitive and malleable to the emotion.  I don’t think any other female actor had such a face for emotion.

I hope to watch more Bergman’s, having only seen The Seventh Seal (a while back and not understanding it!), Wild Strawberries (brilliant) and this one.   

Addendum:  I also watched the Passion of Anna or just Passion. It was not as touching to me and I didn't connect with the characters.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Reminders of grace

When I read the headline of the article linked below, I thought, "Seriously? How can a person who calls themselves a Christ follower be looking for hook ups on this crazy site?

I am reminded of my thankfulness for people (writers) who are more in tune with God's grace than I am.  My temptation is to just question the reality of someone's faith who would participate in Ashley Madison. This writer calls for repentance, which is really the only call.  A person on that site blew it, intentionally, by his/her own free will, big time.  But God is bigger than that.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Need for a hiatus, I fear

Instead of berating myself for not added to this blog every few days, I am going to give myself a break and encourage any interested readers to go back through the archives to find some of the (if I do say so myself) interesting things I have posted over the eight years I have been writing this blog, and to also check out my other blog,, which I wish I had named something else in retrospect. 

I am trying to write a speech textbook for which we received a large grant, I am writing a play, and this top of a full-time administrative job and teaching three classes because our department is understaffed and the college's enrollment (thankfully) has risen.  And then there is life--homemaking, yardwork, church, worship, ministry, billpaying, dogs, husband, sleep, exercise.  Not, of course, in that order.  The total randomness of that list exemplifies my organizational struggles right now. So blogging has to put aside. 

Additionally, I have chosen to sponsor a little girl in Rwanda through Compassion International, and once I get my password issue straightened out, I want to pay attention to that. 

So, thank you for coming to this blog, and again I recommend you read back through the 1300 or more posts on everything from art to film noir to travel to dogs to education to mental illness to Kallman's syndrome to fiction writing to gardening. 

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Political Thought

Donald Trump is trying to hold the Republican party hostage with threats of being a third party candidate.  Whoever is answering these polls needs to get a grip.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Third thoughts on Harper Lee

I managed to borrow a copy of THE BOOK.  Mixed feelings so far.  About half way through.  The best written part so far is a reminiscence of her childhood with Dill and Jem!  It is hard to believe that she would never have known about Atticus' feelings about race.  I'll keep reading.

Addendum:  Read a little more. Scene at the Coffee good.  However, I am ambivalent about how Jean Louise could be so clueless about the racism all around her growing up, especially having gone to New York.  Calpurnia scene a little hard to figure also. 

It's hard not to read this and see pieces of The Help and my own book, although we couldn't be accused of being derivative since this book just got published.  Maybe these are such universal feelings that they are going to show up in different books. 

Thursday, August 06, 2015

So What About Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood is getting some much needed and much deserved scrutiny right now, and I am glad.  This article tells the facts:

It looks like PP did about 1/4 to 1/3 of all abortions in this country, and the claim that it provides mammograms is a lie.  Referrals is not the same as doing them.  Poor women have county health departments for other services.  Defunding PP is not going to be the end of affordable health care; it will be the end of tax-payer funded abortion, which is not supposed to be the case.

And then there is Margaret Sanger.  A friend posted this on Facebook:

Quite colorful display.  But did she really say this?  Yes, but if you read the Wikipedia page on her (and we all know Wikipedia is above reproach), you could interpret this as her saying something different . . . but I find that doubtful.  I think it's pretty clear she had racist views.  She was, however, not a proponent of abortion, just of birth control (and sexual "freedom").

Finally, they can scream all they want, but they haven't made the case that they don't profit from "fetal body parts."  They have blood on their hands, and money in them. 

I resent that I have to pay for this group.  God help us. 

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Checking in for August 4, 2015

There is something about the first of August.  Although it will be quite hot today, the morning was cool.  I go out on my porch to blow dry my hair (and not wake up my husband, who was having trouble sleeping), and watched the coming sunrise.  I like that spider webs, I like that school will start soon, I like that the oppressive heat of summer is waning a bit but the days are still very long.

My Franklin Planner quote yesterday, "For the unlearned, old age is winer; for the learned, it is the season of the harvest."  It is an Hassidic proverb.  I love that.  It may become my motto.

I am studying what the fullness of the gospel means.  In looking at some websites, it is clear that the main goal of some Christian groups is to tell you why all the other Christian groups are wrong.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Apologetics 0098

The number above represents remedial or learning support courses in the state higher education system where I live.  So it’s not 101, but something before that.

I was listening to Janet Parshall’s radio programming coming home, and she was playing person-on-the-street interviews in response to the question (I think) “Is Jesus the only way of salvation?”  Of course, the answers were all over the place, from yes chapter and verse to yes that’s how I was raised to I don’t know or I don’t think about those things to no there are many ways to God or salvation. 

Of course, the idea that there are many conflicting ways that are all truthful is pretty illogical, and the fact that people don’t care about the question shows nothing but a lack of commitment.  Because if you didn’t believe in the Jesus behind the question, you would advocate for the opposite.

What get me the most are the ones that equate Jesus, Mohammed, Confucius, and Buddha.  That’s just ignorance of history.  If you are going to reject someone or something that is asking for your life’s commitment, at least know what you are rejecting.  Mohammed, Confucius, Buddha, and Jesus have very little in common other than that their names are associated with world religions.  What they taught and claimed about themselves and life and the afterlife were all different. 

The question assumes everyone is in Apologetics 101 or 102 class and understands the vocabulary and basic history.  The word “salvation” implies something to be saved from, so what?  “Way” implies a system, path, method, process.   "Jesus" implies knowing historical and theological facts about him.  So in some ways, for many people, the question is meaningless, like asking “Can you get chocolate from trees?”  Well, yes, in a way you can, but you would have to know a lot and have access to the right kind of trees to get it, and it wouldn’t be the same thing as a Ghirardelli chocolate bar. 

This is why drive-by evangelism just doesn’t work much any more (still does with some), because we can’t assume any level of understanding.  It would take a foundational study to start with—what is sin?  why are we here?  Why would God love humans in the first place?  This is hard, and it must be only because  you care about the person as well as the truth.   So I have to ask myself, do I?

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Easy Outrage

I am not the first to say what I am going to say in this blog post, although I hope mine is a little different spin.  In the last couple of days I have been hearing about the social media minefield of Cecil the Lion, who was "lured, hunted, and killed" by a dentist from Detroit.  Because (and I'm weak on the facts) this Lion was older and sort of revered, this dentist has been hounded and persecuted and there have actually been the tried and true "death threats" against him.

I suppose animal rights activists and such were behind this, although considering the nonsense I read on any message board I go to, just as much of the "buzz" could be trolls or people with too much time on their hands.

Then of course is the backlash from liberals and conservative alike as to why so much outrage over a lion when so much evil is being unleashed on humans, from womb to grave, and when lions and other animals get hunted and killed everyday.  So there is outrage over the outrage, and now there is even backlash against the backlash against the backlash. 

This discussion could go in many directions.  Hunting:  immoral or moral (let's just say I live in semi-rural North Georgia and the damage from overpopulated deer running out into roads can be devastating).  The economy of countries such as Zimbabwe where there is 80% unemployment and they depend on hunting.  Creation care--should we hunt for any reason but food (the big game is eaten in Zimbabwe) and first world problems (how many in the world can afford to go on such a hunting trip?).

But I will keep my comments to the title, easy outrage.  Come on, how hard is it to tweet about something, to pass on a tweet or push a "like" icon?  Does that show any commitment to anything?  How impressed can we be by a lot of likes or tweets or whatevers over the course of a week?  And how hard is it for me to write this blog post whining about it?  To post on Facebook "people should stop talking about this lion because thousands of babies are aborted everyday."  Does that now make one a world changer, an activist?  Does it save one life?

And I'm getting pretty tired of this death threats crap.  What exactly is a death threat, anyway?  And what does it take to make one?  What rational or even semi-rational person would say, "I am going to kill you because you went hunting and killed a lion" or "I am going to make sure you die because you didn't bake a cake for a same-sex wedding" or some of the other stuff I have heard about it.   I am actually getting suspicious that there are actually death threats in these situations, although it is apparently true about the dentist.  Do these people know how many lions are killed everyday, and why?  Maybe I don't know whether to be skeptical or appalled.

Easy outrage.  I feel good about myself because I can join the chorus of tweets et al and don't have to lift a finger except to push a button.

Public Speaking Online, Part IV

During the Web Speech             One of the helpful suggestions from the business writers used for this appendix ...