Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Netflix and Education

You can learn a lot from Netflix.  It has a number of good documentaries and fine films. 

However, it was pushing a show called Still Game and I took a look.  I had a flashback.

In 1997 I went to Scotland for a couple of days during a longer trip to the UK.  My traveling companions were going to Paris; I went north, and we would meet back up in London. (I'm surprised it all worked out as it did.)  After getting off the train, I haled a cab and jumped into one of those cute little black sedans, very Bentley like.  The driver spoke to me and my response was "WHAT?!"

It was so odd--I knew he was speaking English, but I didn't understand a word of it.  (I was in Edinburgh, by the way).  He detected my American accent and adjusted his dialect to something understandable, and we got on quite well, as he had been to the states to, well, play golf. 

That was my experience watching that show.  At first I thought maybe the joke was that their accents were so thick no one could understand them.  But of course that would not sustain a TV show.  After a while I understood one sentence out of four.  They were just silly old men, but apparently people love the show, those who can understand it.  Actually, there were some funny (re:  bawdy) moments, so I imagine that's the point; Scottish Bennie Hill.

I am a Christian But -

A Video by this name has gone viral, as has reaction to it. Since I am moving off Facebook, I'll not bother to post there about it.  That's what I have a blog for.

I am reminded of all the sermons I have heard that said, "You can't say 'No, Lord"" in the same breath.  Putting a qualifier or contrast on "I am a Christian" negates the first part.

The point of the video is to distance oneself from those whom the speakers feel are objectionable in some way.  One woman says, Christianity is all about love and acceptance, except, apparently, of people you disagree with.

The speakers are arrogant, have an agenda, misrepresent the faith, don't even mention following Christ.  They pretend to want to be about what Christianity positively promotes, but they do  not even say that.

It amazes me how people so worried about sexual freedom issues in Christianity don't seem concerned about what is going on with Christians in the rest of world, only their own ability to live "freely" in their own little first world.

Give Me a Break. 

Monday, September 07, 2015

Home in Scripture

Christian songs speak a lot about "going home." In fact, one of my favorite old hymns is "Going Home" because the music is so haunting.  But what does the Bible really say about home?

The home in the Bible is culturally a place for hospitality, privacy, protection, and Bible teaching. This is not a simple division; it says a great deal that we have missed in modern American culture.  As a place of hospitality, we are supposed to welcome; as a place of privacy and protection, we are supposed to exclude a lot more than we do (mostly media, I think), and as a place for Bible teaching, we have to engage in meaningful conversations with children and spouses as well as others.

Home has great emotional meaning for us; it is more than what Robert Frost said about it, as the place where they have to take you in ("Death of the Hired Man").   Below I have listed key verses in the New Testament on HOME.

 John 16:32

32 "But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

II Corinthians 5: 6  Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.

7 We live by faith, not by sight.

8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

Hebrews 11:9
9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 

II Peter 3:12
13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. 

In the ultimate sense, then, heaven is home, although that is not an oft-repeated phrase for heaven.  

Mindfulness and other problems of modern living

Last night on 60 Minutes Anderson Cooper was interviewing the guru of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn. Although I have not read any books on this subject, I am mindful of it (sorry) because a former professor in the doctoral program would have us do his exercises in breathing and being aware of one's body, etc.  I thought they were okay but that I needed much more than a pause to listen to myself breathe.

As a Christian who desires and is committed to thinking in a thoroughly Biblical (do not translate that as Western, European, American, or modern) way of thinking, I do not feel I need mindfulness training but I do need meditation, prayer, reflection, and journalling. Mindfulness strikes me as egocentric; prayer is intercessory, for others.  Meditation, Biblically, is centered on the objective word of God, not one's breathing or being.  Journaling allows us to take feelings and impressions from one level of the brain to the conscious level.  Reflection allows us to look back on an experience and derive meaning from it.  These are just beginning definitions of these vital concepts.  Mindfulness strikes me as an emptying of consciousness (which usually makes me go to sleep). 

I am not a Buddhist, nor am I a Hindu, so I don't practice mindfulness nor yoga.  These are answers that have been adopted and adapted to deal with problems that we have created because of misinterpretations of the Bible and making excuses for our own choices.  We are too busy--why? Because we are greedy (and work more than we need to), because we are self-focused (and want to spend time on our own projects), because we are trying to please and impress others, because we want to be promoted to higher positions, because we have lost focus on the glory of God, all sins in the New Testament.

I do appreciate that Kabat-Zinn said that we should not see mindfulness as just one more thing to do.  That is how Christians view the spiritual disciplines of prayer and study, as something to add to one's already busy life.  I am currently up to my neck in commitments and projects, a state which I am realizing is causing depression and paralysis.  Some will fall away soon, but a new one might come.  But I have a dear friend starting to battle cancer--where am I in her life?  Mindfulness is not about service and relationships, but about self.  Mindfulness is about awareness in the moment for the sake of awareness in the moment, and we really have a bigger vision than awareness in the moment.

It is possible that I will fight this battle called time management until senility or death.  It is also possible that I will learn some day that I do not have to fight this battle.  I already know that we do not control or manage time or circumstances; we can only control our choices, and even that some of them.  There is very little we control.

Nala the Pit Bull

For well over four years now we have had a pit bull in our home.  I have become acquainted with the breed through her and through neighbors who have had them--in fact, the last two neighbors in the house next door had pit bulls, in a county where they are, to say the least, discouraged.  She may be a mix but most people tag her as a pit bull immediately.  Most people say she is beautiful (which I have no doubt) and occasionally some act afraid.

She is loyal.  As soon as I get home in the evening she is by my side.  The other little dog is that way, too.  They may miss me or just be tired of my husband.  She is always hungry.  She has, as my son says, "an opinion about everything."  She is bossy, pushing my posterior out of the car when we go to walk, demanding treats, expecting to get on the bed, pulling me back to the car when we have only finished half the walk.  We have discovered a creek near where we walk and she plops in it.  She is the smartest dog my husband ever had, he claims.  One time I asked her what she wanted and she brought me her water bowl in another room.  She seems to have several words.  She wants to climb in my lap, at fifty pounds plus.  She must be walked every evening or we pay the price in rambunctiousness.  She is not fearless.  She tolerates the other little dog.

In other words, she runs our lives.

Facebook Ethics Question

Scenario:  You have a friend, A.  A has a friend, B.  When you respond to something A posts, B addresses you and attacks you personally.  You do not know B from Adam's alley cat.  What to do?

How to Make Banana Pudding

Recently I was at a work meeting where the caterer provided banana pudding.  The person in charge, who is not American or Southern, said how good this caterer's banana pudding is.  It was ok. "It's not as good as my mother's," I had to opine, and another woman there said that banana pudding in Alabama was a priority.  The caterer's bananas pudding was institutional-tasting pudding, scanty wafers, and some hidden bananas.

I was reminded of a colleague from China who teaches cross-cultural communication.  She said that when international students come here, they hate macaroni and cheese and think it's gross.  "It's because they are eating that crap out of the box, not my mother's!" I said, opining again.  She also said that after six months they liked it, probably because they are poor college students and that is all that is available.

That is the anecdotal prelude to my recipe here for banana pudding.  We came in possession of some bananas unexpectedly and I decided we needed one for Labor Day weekend.

You need good COOKED pudding, bananas at the right point, and high quality wafers.  None of this instant pudding (the thought makes me want to get sick).  Use the six-serving amount, at least.  The bananas have to have lost all their greenness and have a few brown spots, but still quite firm.  There is a small window on the bananas.  And while it probably doesn't matter about the vanilla wafers, Nabiscos were on sale at the Food Lion so I used them.

Get a pretty casserole type dish.  Presentation does matter.  Start cooking the pudding.  From scratch is best, but as long as it is cooked, the package is all right.  The stovetop method is better than the microwave.  Once it is cooked (starts to boil) take off the burner for just a bit.  Now, line the bottom of the casserole with wafers, then slice as much banana as you like.  I just used one, but that's up to you.  Then pour a third of the still hot pudding on it.  HOT is the operative word here.  Then layer again, and again.  Cover and let sit for several hours in the frig.  Later you can put the cool whip on it.  Cool whip will separate if put on hot pudding.

Actually, my mother used to make the old-fashioned variety with meringue, which required having egg whites and baking it to make the meringue toasted.  That is the best, but the above is a compromise, especially on a hot muggy day in early September when you would rather enjoy the pudding than turn the oven on.

Public Speaking Online, Part IV

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