Showing posts from December, 2015

Thoughts on watching three seasons of Person of Interest

Spoiler alerts, I think.
Thanks to streaming services like Netflix, we now can watch, or binge watch, as the young people call it, television shows we have wanted to watch but missed.For me this was Person of Interest.I watched the first season in 2011-2012, but starting doctoral work in 2012 meant expunging certain practices from my life, mainly watching TV.Person of Interest was the only show I really had any interest in (other than PBS programming and old movies, which sounds pretentious), so when it became available this fall on Netflix, I figured now I could slowly get caught up to speed on the story.
Let me first say that binge watching is not my style.I grew up with television shows coming in small bites—once a week, or if in syndication, once a day.So I didn’t watch more than two or three at a time at most, and usually only one.On the other hand, it is really no different from reading a whole novel at once rather than waiting, as they did in Dickens’ time, for the next instal…


For those who might happen on this blog or who come a bit more regularly, I will confess to this being a web blog in the truest sense.  Although I have an agenda and boundaries about what I post (getting away from politics except when something or someone seems particularly egregious), the overall goal is to keep a record of my writing and thoughts and let you enter in, if you so desire.  I admit this may seem idiosyncratic and even egotistic, but you will notice I don't post reviews of my books or photos of myself,   only things that I think others will benefit from educationally or spiritually.  If you don't benefit from a particular post, then I apologize, but keep going back--you will probably find a lot here, since there are over 1450 posts.  If you are offended by something I write, well, I don't apologize, because today it's impossible not to offend someone just by one's simple existence.  I offend somebody just because I blog, or because I am …

Lesson on Matthew 28:16-20


A New Old Hymn

I had never heard this one before today.  The basic metaphor is thrilling. Some of the middle stanzas may seem anti-semitic, but I post it here in its entirety

Tomorrow shall be my dancing day; I would my true love did so chance To see the legend of my play, To call my true love to my dance; Chorus Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love, This have I done for my true love Then was I born of a virgin pure, Of her I took fleshly substance Thus was I knit to man's nature To call my true love to my dance. Chorus In a manger laid, and wrapped I was So very poor, this was my chance Betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass To call my true love to my dance. Chorus Then afterwards baptized I was; The Holy Ghost on me did glance, My Father’s voice heard from above, To call my true love to my dance. Chorus Into the desert I was led, Where I fasted without substance; The Devil bade me make stones my bread, To have me break my true love's dance. Chorus The Jews on me they made grea…

Boxing Day

The British and Canadians observe Boxing Day, a day of charity (boxing food for the poor).  In the U.S. we have our own version.

It is called that because we take our boxes that Christmas presents come in to the landfill or recycling center.  I celebrated it myself, and our center was having a hard time handling all of it.

Best thing I have read on writing in a while

C.S. Lewis on writing fairy tales.

Advent 2015 December 24

--> Last of my posts, for Advent is tomorrow.I do minimal Christmas preparations, compared to some women.One tree.Reasonable amount of baking because the three of us don’t need all these sweets.Small number of gifts because we need nothing, really.I am trying to simplify and lighten the load of belongings rather than make them greater.
But I do have my traditions.Ham and potato salad and such for lunch.Attending the church’s Christmas Eve candle light service.Traditions should pull something from us but not be onerous.That one is heartwarming and reassuring.
Perhaps one day we will have grandchildren to spoil at Christmas.For now we are thankful for the miracles around us.
Merry Christmas to all.  This will end my posts for a while, but I will be working on a series about C.S. Lewis (based on the online course I am taking from Hillsdale College) and other aspects of spirituality.

Advent 2015, December 23 Part II

This article resonates with me.

I have struggled with Christmas in a similar way.  I find only by mindful planning and controlling its process can I survive it.  I also find this blog helpful.

Good news, I think.  We took our little dog to the shelter because we didn't feel that we could take care of him any longer.  Long story.  The shelter says he has been adopted or rescued.  I am very happy.  That is a good enough present for me.

Advent 2015 December 23

Despite my post of yesterday, I admit with William Wordsworth that the world is too much with us.I am reading Winston Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples.What a bloody history on that island, at least in the Roman conquest, since the Britons did not want to be subjugated (a theme of Churchill’s, I would imagine, although the Britons of 43 A.D. were not exactly the same people of those of WWII).
Tens of thousands were killed, according to the Roman historians he quotes.Why is there such slaughter in human history?How does the birth of Christ affect this centuries-long holocaust? I do not know.But Isaiah called him the Prince of Peace, and I don’t think is just meant to be internal peace, some Buddhist mindfulness type of inner tranquility.In fact, Christ said he brought a sword, too.Peace is not won by encouraging people to eat tofu and sit under a tree.That doesn’t deal with the deep longing and the deep intransigence of the human soul.

Advent 2015 December 22

--> Yesterday’s post touched on something I want to note:We see in the Christmas story that miracle is mixed with the material.The miracle or mystery is seen in interventional aspects that aren’t supposed to happen:virgin and old age conception, dreams, angels, an out-of-the-natural star.The material is everything else:a fiancĂ© who doesn’t see a way out of a socially embarrassing predicament, a teenage girl who doesn’t understand what’s going on in her body, a tyrannical king afraid of anything that would dethrone him, a tax from Rome (governments and taxes and census have nothing miraculous to them), giving birth in an uncomfortable setting (women do it today all over the world), poverty, shepherds.
The material, the ordinary and mundane, the physical, are prominent in the story and while we would want more details (inquiring minds want to know), far more details are given of this birth than any other biblical or ancient one.“The birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise,” the…

Addition to Top Ten Thoughts on Star Wars

This is really #13:  If your father is Darth Vader, you probably want to adopt and skip the procreation.

Top Ten Thoughts About Star Wars

I just came back from seeing The Force Awakens.  My thoughts.

1.  It was fun.
2.  As a sixty-year-old woman, it was more interesting to see Harrison Ford than Carrie Fisher.  No one applauded when she showed up, but they did when Han and Chewie did. 
3.  Chewie hasn't aged.
4.  The droid is clever.
5.  The more minimalist approach to CGI was visually appealing to me.
6.  J.J. had to put one of his LOST actors in there, Ken Leung, which seems too obvious.
7.  Why were there the same races back then?  That is of course one of the many plot holes.  Who the heck is Snoke supposed to be?  (Just another version of the emperor?)
8.  I was impressed with Daisy Ridley. Very appealing.
9.  Women were given a more prominent role as  warriors and leaders in this one.
10.  I liked the whole story of Finn.  I am wondering if Huckleberry Finn finding his humanity is the reference here.  The actor does a good job. 
Why stop at 10?
11.  I waited until the end of the credits to see where it was f…

Advent 2015 December 21

The Voice is a show I have maybe watched twice, and I am not sure why even that.  However, a student at a local Christian university won the competition and he does have a fabulous voice.He sang the song made famous by Kathy Mattea and written by Mark Lowry, who is mostly known for being comedic and working with the Gaithers (and it is a problem for me that I could not think of that group’s name and had to google it).
I am glad that Christmas songs are still being written.Some of them are not so memorable but some are.I like the quirkiness of “A strange way to save the world.”  (Below) I do not like “The Little Drummer Boy” as it has absolutely no tie-in scripturally and it’s just annoying (but I imagine fun to sing).  I have a friend who has physiological reactions when she hears "Go Tell It on the Mountain."  Nothing lifts the spirits like "Joy to the World," though, and you can use it for first or second advent celebration.
That new ones are being…

Advent 2015 December 20

In cleaning out my office this week I found something I wrote down and tucked away.  A pastor had said to the board of the church:  I am your servant but you are not my masters.

I like that.  Christ came as a servant, but He is also the Master. 

Advent 2015 December 19

I will refer readers to this article in Christianity Today from December 18.

Errors in Christmas Sermons

I can appreciate this article and its emphasis on the truth, but a part of me wants to say, "Lighten up."  (a really small part, but . . . ).  It's like one thing I saw one Facebook decrying songs, "Mary did know." (in reference to the song "Mary Did You Know?")  Well, actually, Mary didn't know everything that would happen.  That's why she pondered.  It seems that some people go out of their way to find fault.

There is sometimes a fine line between meaningful emotional connection and sentimentality.  Forgive us a little sentimentality at Christmas.  Some of us need it.

Advent 2015 December 18

I am a little late on this today. 

Like most of my generation, I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas many times in my younger years (although not so much lately.  TV is not something I have time for.)  I heard a radio commentator saying yesterday that they kids are actually very mean in that show; as I recall, they pretty much bully Charlie Brown.  What most of us remember are two things:  the Christmas tree and that Linus recites a portion of Luke 2 towards the end.

What is significant is that the Scripture recitation changes everything--the children's attitudes, and thus the tree, and their celebration.  So, let's keep that in mind--the power of the truth of Christmas.  See next post.

Advent 2015 December 17

My last line in the last post may have seen strange.Hesitation can be wise, but there is some point at which we take a step of faith and move.I won’t use “leap of faith" because it originated with Kierkegaard and he did not mean by it entirely how we mean it or use it now.A step forward will do; I am not sure God expects leaps (as in steps into total darknesses) of faith.Isaiah 30:21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."I see a gentle guide saying “take the next step in faith despite your lack of full knowledge” rather than a voice saying, “jump off the cliff into a crazy unknown.”
Christianity is not a superstitious religion, despite some of the miracles that stretch human credulity, and this brings us to a second kind of doubt. The first, what I was trying to get at in the first paragraph, is existential.The second is intellectual.Although I think some personality differences make…

Advent 2015 December 16

--> The last five verses of the gospel of Matthew tell us of the eleven disciples (very specific that Judas is gone) meeting on a mountain in Galilee to wait for Jesus to appear after the resurrection and before the ascension.The text says “they worshipped, but some doubted.”I have never heard a sermon on the “but some doubted.” Your theology has to have a place for doubt.Someone who says they never doubt either is lying or is will be surprised one day when it happens to them. Doubt is real and likely to happen, but it is not insurmountable. I like to think of doubt not as settled unbelief, but as hesitation; in fact, that is the core meaning of the word in the Matthew passage.Not that I am affirming doubt, just naming the elephant in the room so we can deal with it.
Doubt has legitimate sources: for me, the presence of great evil; for others, unanswered prayer; for others, peer pressure and the voices of the world, sometimes voices that are right.Sometimes doubt may caus…

Advent 2015 December 15

A few months ago I decided to sponsor a child through Compassion International.  It is a minimal amount of money and there is strong research to support that it is just about the best way to help lift children from poverty.  See this article

My child is a seven-year old girl in Rwanda.  To protect her, I won't give a name.  I try to write her every three weeks or so.  I am not the most attentive, but letters are very slow and I have only gotten one from her so far.  She's cute. 

On a related note, 11 million gift boxes went out through Samaritan's Purse.  My son sent one, one that sounded pretty chock full. 

In all the rhetoric about Christmas being so materialistic, there is really only one answer:  Stop buying so much for yourselves and be a better steward of resources entrusted to you. 

Advent 2015 December 14

Sunday I taught the last five verses of Matthew, but not as it is usually taught.  I taught it as being about doubt, about authority, and about Advent.

It's not one that is presented as an Advent passage, but it is.  Read them and contemplate how it is about the first chapter of the book of Matthew.  Consider the first chapter and those last five verses as bookends holding together the whole gospel.

One hint, and more will follow.  The meaning of Immanuel and the promise in the last independent clause of the last verse.

Otherwise Advent note:  I cleaned a good bit yesterday and realized that my goal of a yard sale is not worth my time and effort, so the Salvation Army will be getting my merchandise.  But I found some interesting things:  an earring and a ring I really missed.  Lots of books I forgot I had, and a stash of my son's Star Wars toys.  He came over tonight and I told him they were down there--he bolted downstairs and came up, then was posting photos of them on Insta…

Advent 2015 December 13

Twenty-seven years ago I gave birth to my son.  I like to remind him of how long I was in labor.  He rolls his eyes.  He came over today and helped us install a new microwave (my birthday present, not very exciting but the old one worked at one level and had no light).  He plans to spend his birthday eating brunch with friends at Waffle House, channeling his inner redneck (he comes by it honestly) and watching a Star Wars marathon.  He is taking the 18th off to watch the movie twice.  He is very mature about most things, very responsible, but not quite grown up about that kind of thing.

Anyway, my Advent Post today is to draw your attention to something I did not know existed, but should have known better. Here
is a recording of C.S. Lewis from his radio program during WWII talking about prayer.  He does not sound like Anthony Hopkins (whose voice is probably too Scottish).  I enjoyed listening to it, so you should, too.

Advent 2015 December 12

Dreams and visions figure into the Advent story.We moderns don’t trust them, especially after Sigmund Freud.We doubt why God would use those to accomplish anything.Joseph had three, the Magi had at least one, and there are probably others that aren’t recorded.
It is against my nature to trust my own surreal dreams.The dreams mentioned here had practical outcomes and saved some lives.They made Advent possible.
·Matthew 1:20 NIV 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. ·Matthew 1:24 NIV
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. ·Matthew 2:13 NIV 13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for H…

Advent 2015 December 11

And he shall be called Immanuel, which is God with us.
And you shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.
You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? (Carpenter is better translated “technon,” possibly “stone mason.”)
We have found the Messiah.
Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
Six statements from the gospels about what people said about Jesus.Can you match them to their speaker?
Angel, prophecy, Peter, Andrew, John the Baptist, the crowd
Can you identify the one that isn't quite right?
Do you believe the proclamation of the other five?

Advent 2015 December 10

Quote from Wayne Muller:We need so little to feel loved; all we need to do is begin to notice the multitude of tiny gifts and small miracles that punctuate each day we are alive.
Some sociological research into Facebook shows that people who spend more time on it are more depressed because they look at the happy pictures of their “friends” and compare their own lives and think, “I am not so happy.”I have been guilty of it myself.I do not post much (since I blog and don’t want to be posting what I had for lunch or selfies) but I look at others and wonder why I don’t have this or that or the others.
Muller is perfectly right, and this Advent season is the perfect time to live by his admonition.