Showing posts from August, 2016

Observation on a Day for Writing

Never underestimate the power of a good pen.

Some pens just fit in the hand, flow across the page, and allow creativity to flourish better than others.

I am about to start posting a series of reflections on the gospel of Matthew, in order, and all were originally written by hand. Research suggests that typing and handwriting are not equal in terms of
(a) taking notes and remembering/learning them for later tests, and (b) inspiring divergent and convergent thought (These are Czickzentmihalyi's terms for creative and analytic thought.  I like to believe I write better fiction by pen, but considering how unsuccessful I have been as a novelist, that may be a severe misconception.

On that point, I was looking at some acquaintances whose novels have garnered some awards.  Sigh.  Not to whine, (but I will), I have gotten rather little encouragement about my novels; even ones I have given away I don't think were read.  At best, I have broken even in the money category. Even those who …

Chatting up the customers at the festival

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, I attended a sort of readers/writers festival yesterday. I was not successful in selling books, but I did meet some interesting people and have some out-of-the-ordinary conversations, at least for me, and I’m not talking about the dirty old man who wanted some soft porn. When I asked people what they read, many of them said “mysteries, thriller, horror, science fiction, gore” and that kind of thing.That’s out of the box for me, although I am working on the mystery vein.However, devoting myself deeply to another fiction book has its nonattractive qualities.I spend too much time alone to dive into another book right now, as much as I want to. One woman I spoke to was probably in her late 60s.She was quite voluble so I didn’t get to say much.She told me about how after 44 years as an engineer and not being the least bit interested in God, that she got “poked” and she, of all people, was a believer now.A believer in what, though, I had to ask myse…

The Writing Life, revisited

I participated (for 2.5 hours) today in the First Chattanooga Readers and Writers Fair.  I appreciate the city running this.  It was supposed to run til 3, and is still going on as I write this, but I could no longer bear mid-90s in the direct sun.  But I did meet some interesting folks.

I shared a space with a young man and his daughter; he and his wife homeschool their five children, go to a PCA church, and were very pleasant.  They have children's books and were smart enough to have an area for children to color.

Me, I borrow a table from a friend, made a poster, set up my books and sat in a lawn chair.  I chatted up customers and sold one book, but I also directed them to cheaper copies on Amazon, so maybe that will build good will. 

My favorite (not) visitor to my table was an old guy who, when I asked him what he was interested in, said, "Do you have anything smutty?"  Who says "smutty" nowadays.  I also met an older woman who, I think, responded to God r…

Salt of the Earth

I am reading slowly through the gospels, trying to look with new eyes at what Jesus said without defaulting to the party-line interpretations that recast him and his teachings to fit prevailing orthodoxies.  Usually this means watering down what he says to make it more palatable, or to make it fit a doctrine of pure grace without obedience, or to make him look like a cool guy, or to eliminate the first century Jewishness.  Good try.

"You are the salt of the earth."  I have heard many interpretations of this: salt transforms society, salt gives flavor, salt preserves, etc.  I don't think the first century audience needed all this, and it misses the point, "If salt loses its taste, what good is it?"  Sure, I guess you could still use it to melt ice, but that was hardly a problem for his audience, and considering Roman soldiers were at times paid in salt (therefore, our word salary), melting ice with it would seem pretty wasteful.  We wouldn't throw dollar bil…

Olympics 2016

The horse jumping was on the tv at the doctor's office this morning.  It occurred to me that even if the rider gets the medal, the horse has done all the work.


This blogging software tells bloggers what were the referring sites.   Not sure what that means, since several of them are nasty porn sites.  I've learned not to click those links.

The myth of the strong (black) woman

Please read this interview with an African American theologian and sociologist.  Very insightful.

It has caused me a lot of pause because while I do believe it is an unrecognized and deep problem for that community, it happens in white and Latino communities, too.  I am living it right now, and talking to God about it.  A lot of responsibilities from family and work, have been thrown on me, and I can't pretend that I am equal to them.  At least not all of them all the time.  At least not any of them most of the time.

Some of this comes from a record of competence.  Some from an unhealthy sense of wanting to be in control.  Some from an even unhealthier belief that I have to live this way to be needed and that is only how I have any value, or worse, somehow God is going to be impressed by this behavior.

I know I am not the only woman, white or otherwise, who feels this way; I ju…

What is Prayer For?

The question should probably be, "Who is prayer for."

I heard a clip of a Christian programming on what should have been a doctrinally evangelical program, where the guest was talking about her centering prayer.  That got under my skin.  I do not pretend to know that much about mystical exercises and contemplative practices.  Some of it is attractive, but there is one primary problem for me.  These things seem to be very self-gratifying.

Who is prayer for? God?  Well, it should glorify Him, but He doesn't need your prayers.  Oneself?  Of course, we need prayer, but it seems that the request of the prayer should be the focus rather than the methodology of the prayer.  Others?  I think an argument could be made from Scripture that prayer is supposed to be first intercessory, as a ministry to others.

Centering prayer focuses on emptying of the mind, and that is never good.  What virtue can come from an empty mind?  We were given minds to think about something, not to empty …

Education: Lighting a fire?

My Franklin Covey planner's quote for the day is "Education is not the filling of a pail.  It is the lighting of a fire."

I like the quote.  It looks good on a poster or a Franklin Covey planner.

Academics by nature don't accept things on face value, at least I was not trained to, so I am scrutinizing this.  It is by William Butler Yeats, a great poet (I used one of his in my first novel) but I don't know if he ever taught.  There's a big difference between making pronouncements about education and actually teaching day-in, day-out.

Paolo Freire took up this theme with the idea of the banking model of education, which I call the tea pitcher model (I live in the South, but it's not sweet tea).  We of course don't just pour knowledge into students' heads. They do construct some knowledge themselves, but not without access to what has come before, which, well, was poured in.

No model or quote or metaphor can encompass everything about learn…

Can a DNA test be wrong?

This is admittedly one of those title I use to get attention and maybe traffic, but it's a legitimate question here on a hot day in August in North Georgia that has me lethargic and sleepy.

I did a DNA test through one of the supposedly reputable companies that does this.  I won't name it, but it wasn't, which I am told is run through the Mormons, who have massive geneaology banks so their members can be baptized for their dead relatives (one of the oddest doctrines I can imagine). 

I have posted the picture I got back of my ethnic origins. 

This was quite a shock to me.  The British Isles, not so much; I figured it would be more.  The third of my DNA coming from Scandinavia is a big surprise, but some Scots people have Scandinavian ancestry, so only the amount surprises me.  But no German.  No native American (that's another story, I understand, and many people's DNA doesn't show the Native American.)  But 1/8 Italian or Greek or Spanish (or possi…

Beatitude Reflections

I am reading the book of Matthew and journaling everyday; perhaps I will share some here.  I have been in the Beatitudes this week, trying to read them as they are, not as I have been told to read them.  I think that is the best way to approach the gospels:  experience them afresh without all the baggage of past preaching that tries to explain away what Jesus did and said rather than explain it.

Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.
The key behind it is that we will be comforted.  We are not blessed because we mourn (although maybe sometimes we are) but because we will be comforted.  The blessing is not inherent in mourning, but in what living with Jesus as king of one’s life provides in mourning.
We might, however, be blessed in mourning.  First it means we have someone close enough to mourn over when we lose them. We have enough sensitivity of spirit to do so, a sensitivity I fear is being lost with an increasingly narcissistic generation (and I don’t m…

Yes, I watched Stranger Things on Netflix

And loved it.

I realize it was a mashup of a lot of '80s movies and such that I do and don't remember, but they are put together uniquely and it works. I was hooked, and watched it when I was on vacation.  I don't binge watch, but did view it all in four or five days.  I even got choked up at one part.  Bravo, whoever you are that did it.

Being slightly connected to the Georgia Film Academy, though, I did notice that it was filmed in Jackson, Georgia, which is southeast of Atlanta, and it was obvious to me because of the magnolia trees, which you aren't going to see in Indiana.  Also the the overabundance of privet.  They did manage not to show any kudzu, though.  

The myth of nontraditional learners in colleges and universities

Hopefully this isn't behind a password, because it's the best thing I've read on higher education practice in a long time.

Today is the last Friday I am off due to our college's "no Friday in summer" policy.  I am glad for it, because it was a rough week. But I was doing some errands and went to the bank.  One of my former students (I have thousands of those) works there and came up while I was dealing with an account issue.  I recognized him and was trying to do my "Oh, let me remember you" game and I had to be reminded of his name, and it was only a year ago.

He is having a hard time getting the classes he needs to fit around his work schedule due to our college's behindness to online courses. I agree…

Is It Really My Christian Responsibility to Vote?

This is a serious question.

I'd like a serious answer in the comments.

Obviously, there are not Scriptures that say to vote.  There are ones that say pay your taxes, pray for the leaders, and obey the laws of government.  All my life I have heard that it is part of our Christian responsibility to vote, but I've yet to hear a compelling argument for situations when I have no good choices.

Now, I am clearly playing devil's advocate here (wish there was a better term for that). Let's call it the loyal opposition.  I intend to vote and get my little Georgia peach sticker, which I always wear with pride.  The only elections I miss at the Boynton precinct are the ones that sneak up on you, the run-offs for county water commissioner. 

However, I don't think a person should be shamed for not voting.  And a lot of Christian celebrities are doing that.  As I've stated before, I understand the extreme antipathy toward Clinton.  But I also am concerned that some evangelica…