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Archive for May, 2008

–I just got a book off Amazon for twelve cents. TWELVE CENTS!!!eleventyone!!

–We walked along the greenway for about half a mile, with Honeysuckle, Bellflower, thistle and other stuff I can’t name all in high flowering and scent mode.

–I downloaded a bunch of gardening stuff for my sims. I can now spend my evenings creating a trellis garden, a rockery and other cool things in my virtual dollhouse.

–I was able to give my sister an old keycode I no longer use (I don’t have a PC anymore) for the Sharks screensaver. Now that twenty bucks isn’t going to waste.

–Little Caesers, the Deadhead’s Pizza Of Choice®, just opened up in Mt. Juliet. I have my favourite cheap cheese pizza for dinner. All for $5.46. Can’t beat that. Now all I need is some drums and space, the smell of vegan food cooked over sterno and a few unwashed folks waving “I Need A Miracle” signs in my face. Then it’ll be like summer.

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I’m trying my level best (with the help of the Holy Spirit) to live at peace with all mankind. That means walking away from unnecessary fights and confrontations. This may explain why I’ve stopped commenting on other blogs–I don’t want to pick fights.

More than a year ago, however, one blogger said something extremely insulting and hurtful about a friend of mine, and they said it in the most public and hurtful way possible. It wasn’t even an insult to me. I didn’t realise that I hadn’t forgiven that until I saw that blogger commenting at Sharon’s. My apologies to Sharon directly for losing it on her site.

I’ll also apologise here for calling Wintermute’s comment misogynistic. It truly may not have been–I may be seeing it through the lens of my anger and prejudice.

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Longwinded discussion about physics, what I think the show holds for next season, and a bit of religion and philosophy. It’s about 800 words so I moretagged it.

I know how some of you feel about President Bush. While I may disagree with you on many counts, I often find some sense in what you say. But believe me, he isn’t the worst leader. Jack is. After kvetching for years about getting off the Island, he now has to drag everyone back.

The producers said in an interview with EW that they were taking a cue from J.K. Rowling. In the same way that she set the majority of the last Harry Potter book outside Hogwarts, they plan to change the setting and focus of the last season. I gather that the new focus is going to be first getting all the Oceanic Six Plus Corpse back on board with venturing down the rabbit hole. Then once that’s done, we’ll try out some of Ben’s ideas. Look for plenty more vacillation there as well. One week Hurley will be in, the next he’ll be out. Etcetera. That’s probably going to be the bulk of their dramatic tension. I think the writers are hoping that we’ll be so wrapped up with “Will Kate agree to go back?!” that we’ll have forgotten things like the Smoke Monster. (more…)

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I’ve gotten really bad about thinking of good topics for this blog–which is not a good thing. A really good blog shouldn’t feel forced, I think. But the main topics in my life right now are either “recovering from surgery” which is boring and not really tasteful, and “renewed focus on Bible Study” which is sometimes too personal and too much inside baseball.

The other day Sharon asked a very good question that I was going to leave in a comment, but then I realised–hey! It’s a whole blog entry.

Do you study from the ancient Celtic perspective? I know you’ve studied Judaism, did you ever study Zohar and Kabbalah? …

Anyhow, I don’t think I could relate to Judaism if I didn’t study it with a strong emphasis on the mysticism parts.

Et tu, regarding Christianity?

The short answer is yes, and yes and yes and yes. The longer answer is, well, longer for many reasons.

I was born into Christianity, with Christian parents and grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles. My grandmother even had three pomeranians one time called Shirley, Goodness and Mercy. (Psalm 23:6 says “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life” and since her dogs followed her everywhere…) I went to Christian schools and learned the Common Christianity of the middle class Midwest. That’s a beautiful religion in its matter-of-factness. There is no official catechism, but the unwritten foundation is “Life is hard; our sin nature makes it so. Christ redeemed us through his death and resurrection, so we muddle through this hard world with God’s help and hope for heaven after death.” When you’re farmers, you have a very good understanding of God’s curse in Genesis that man shall till the soil with the sweat of his brow to earn food.

Two strange events happened in my early years that shaped the course of my study into something slightly different. Firstly, when I was eight months old I got pneumonia and was near death, with my heart stopping several times, I think. (I need to get better details from my parents because my memory of this event is non-existent to say the least.) Secondly, when I was eight years old my parents were late picking me up from church camp, so I went home with my grandmother. She was the doctor who adopted my father and his brother, but she was always their “real parent”. Right around that time, though, my father’s birth mother had apparently started to contact Grandma Doc to get information about the sons she gave away. I think this was on my grandmother’s mind, so she talked to me a bit about the blood parentage of my father. What was actually said is the matter of some debate in my family, but I did come away from that conversation with the understanding that my father’s birth parents were Jewish. So I spent years–literally YEARS–studying Hebrew and Judaic theologies, including Kabbalah and the Zohar. (I beat Madonna’s interest in Kabbalah–or, in her case, “Kabbalahish Lite”–by a good decade and a half.)
In my Senior year of High School I decided that I had been spared death as a baby for some sort of reason as yet undetermined. When I got to college I had a philosophy professor who was born in Germany, reborn in Christ and literally wrote the book on Mysticism in Evangelical Christianity. At his suggestion I began to read various mystical texts from a foundational World View (Weltangschaung) of Evangelical Christianity, specifically Mennonism. I’ve read pretty much everything from Crowley to Zwingli, and stranger bedfellows you will not find.

I’m not unusual. Most Christians are mystical to a degree, conversing with the Holy Spirit during their private devotional times. However, because this is such a foundational part of Christianity we don’t think of it as mysticism per se. We’re a funny people who think of Mysticism as the province of Maharishis and Yogis, yet still talk to the spirit of God on a daily basis. Studying mysticism is sort of like trying to see the wind. It’s still a beautiful experience, though, and one which wholly enriches my life.

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Fairy Tales

Hmmm. Should adults believe in fairy tales? VB comments on the post below that religion is merely a version of a fairy tale and adults should steer clear of placing belief in any such thing.

I wonder when adulthood became this dry desert of state of mind. When “putting away childish things” meant settling for a jaded discontentment and world weariness. I do think it’s possible to close your mind to the broader reality of things beyond this immediate realm, but I don’t think it’s desirable or healthy. Pondering the unknown is how you learn truly new things. Ask any theoretical physicist.

But I’m getting too lofty to answer my question about the fairy tales. I do think adults should believe in fairy tales. Those stories are full of the collected wisdom of those who were here before us and in many ways serve as textbooks for real life. I personally don’t think my religion (Christianity) is the same thing as a fairy tale, but even if it were the belief in it is not harmful. What’s wrong with loving your neighbour, treating everyone else the same way you would like to be treated and living at peace with all mankind? Nothing, really.

In the same way those other things we call “fairy tales” are worth paying attention to. There may not be such things as mermaids–and I can’t prove there aren’t–but the lessons in the Little Mermaid about contentment, striving against nature, sacrificial love and grief are timeless. When parents read their little girls the story of Cinderella they are imparting lessons about treating others with kindness. (Or they used to be…this Disney Princess method of only focusing on the pretty dress and tiara ending leaves the meat of the message on the cutting room floor and is why I refuse to refer to little girls as princesses.)

Everyone believes in something greater than themselves. They may tell you they don’t, but even those who avow atheism do things like running in marathons, working to save the environment, building businesses and writing philosophical tomes. People do these things to be in touch with their better natures. Fairy tales are the poetic narration of the better natures of mankind.

Believing in them is no bad thing for anyone.

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At the end (when it finally got there) of Indiana Jones there was some discussion about how the real treasure is knowledge.

I couldn’t help but think of snakes tiptoeing* around curious naked girls and promising them…knowledge. That was the fruit which tempted Eve, of course, and so the Church has for so long had deeply entrenched pockets of anti-intellectualism. I understand why that is, but I’ve got more in common with Eve in that I want to know things. I like knowing, just for knowing’s sake.

That’s the best thing about mysticism, really. People–when they really want to be bored–ask me why I refer to myself as a mystic and the short answer would be that I do so because Mystery is the seat of wisdom. Knowledge is a grand thing, and seeking knowledge is a worthwhile pursuit. But you have to be satisfied with the basic truth of knowledge, which is that you will never have all of it.

I chuckle when I hear people reduce the force that is God to something small. There is always our desire in humanity to reduce God to a thing we can know, hoping that in doing so we can then understand God. Justice. Love. Grace. All of these are tiny shards of the full scope of God, yet so often I see people discard mystery, reduce God to one of the components of God and then venerate the piece instead of the whole. It’s sort of like loving your parents only because they drive you to the mall, while forgetting the many other things that they do for you and also forgetting they are people who exist outside of your experience of them and should be loved on those terms.

Our God is the phenomenon of the Knowable Mystery. We can commune with God because of the blood price paid by Jesus. While we exist in this human form, however, we cannot know all of God and must be content with Mystery. That is the birth of the wise.

It is also the vexation of the skeptic. But that’s a story for another time.

*Yes, snakes once had feet.

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Update: This review is kind of harsh, and I think maybe I should have slept on it before I got so mean toward the end. Or maybe not. I will say, though, that even though I may be too harsh to The Beefy Gift of God, I still think the movie should be subtitled “Dad, are we there yet?” Great Scot, it dragged in places!

Some of this could be coming from the fact that when I first saw Raiders I was 10. Now I’m 38.

Some of it may also come from the fact that when I was 10 Raiders was the ONLY place for that kind of non-stop action and was about the only place to ogle the sex-ay Harrison Ford.

But like the last two Pirates of the Carriboring movies before it, the new Indiana Jones seems to place a lot of its faith on action sequences that run anywhere from 90 seconds to five minutes LONGER than they should. As with Capn Jack and the Waterwheel two summers ago, and with the two pirate ships in the whirlpool last summer I found myself glazing over after the first bit of action sequence in the Amazon. I like action, I like thrilling chases. But really, if they go on too long they become pointless zones of dead space and your audiences minds start to wander on to greener pastures.

Or, at least that’s my theory.

Yes, I had fun and much of the movie was good summer eye candy. But I really could have done with about five minutes of car chasing through the Amazon left on the cutting room floor.

Memo to Steven Spielberg….

No matter how hard you try, Shia LaWhatever is not the new Harrison Ford. He is not the new Tom Hanks. He is not sexy or charming or wry or warm or any of those qualities I associate with those men. He doesn’t pull you into the story’s universe.

I’ve read countless articles where you extoll Shia LaWhatever’s virtues as though you are some sort of Starmaker. Give it up. It doesn’t work. I’m a redblooded female and I promise you that whatever Ford and Hanks have that makes us give up the butter and egg money for movie tickets is just not pulsing in the veins of that squinty-eyed, doughy-faced void of rodeo clown spawn.

Memo To George Lucas

American Graffiti was a fine film for its time and fast cars are indeed fun to ride in. But please stop thinking we all want to relive your glory days over and over again. I’d just love to go to one of your movies without being subjected to an overlong “fast car” scene. The opening of IJ&TKOTCS was a bit too self-congratulatory and overly cutesy. Or something. Sorry, I went to a double feature and can’t remember much more right now as I write this.

Memo to Nashville

The Stardust Drive In in Watertown is a treasure. We’re lucky to have it so close by. We saw two good movies for $7 each, had pizza and burgers and cotton candy and coke and looked through our sunroof at the stars when the action sequences ran too long. It’s the best way to see a movie.

They’re open seven days a week through the rest of the summer. Gates open at 6:30 and the movies start at dusk.

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Twisney

Run, don’t walk, all you WDW Giant Fans like me.

It’s the next best thing to being there.

You can watch people twitter their WDW experience–with Tweets and Pix–in real time.

For those of you not likewise afflicted, it’s a good study in mass psychology.

For those of you who ARE afflicted with MWDWS (Missing WDW Syndrome) there is also a rumour on one of the podcasts of a complete Google Earth streetview walkthrough of the Magic Kingdom but I haven’t quite gotten the URL from my Trustworthy Podcast Listening Husband yet. Stay tuned.

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This is my 38th birthday. Or 37th. I’m 38, but like with centuries and Daylight Savings Time I have to stop and think for a minute about which is accurate. I can be slow on the uptake like that. So far this has been a fairly happy birthday, as most of mine have been. Being born in late May almost guarantees a good birthday weatherwise, and if you’re anything like me a sunny day can make up for just about any other flaws a 24-hour period can hold. If you’re going to shout at me, fire me or steal my car just make sure it’s sunny outside.

Anyway, back to the birthdays I remember. I think it’s funny that after so many of them I can only recall a few with clarity. And they’re not always the ones you think.

The first birthday I remember clearly was my third. I remember it because it’s the first time I remember being embarassed. Whenever I read Genesis and get to that part–fairly early on–about the newly-sinful Adam and Eve realising they were naked and then being ashamed I remember my third birthday. Because that was the first realisation I had of shame. My grandparents were there and I was playing with a Snoopy Colorforms set. My grandfather asked me if I was happy to be turning three. I replied–honestly–that I wasn’t because now the doctor was going to take my temperature in my mouth instead of my bottom and I didn’t like that idea. At least I was honest.

My fourth birthday had no relatives–I wonder why–but it was still pretty cool. In more ways than one. My Family Mark II (Dad, Mom, Kathy, Poopy Monkeyhead Brother) had a Kentucky Fried Chicken picnic in Shoaff Park. The picnic table was in a shady grove of trees, so it was chilly. I remember being so sad about the cold. I guess my sunshine love was programmed early on, huh? The best part about the day was the dollhouse my dad had set up on the picnic table to surprise me. I still remember it today. It was a tin colonial with plastic windows. Don’t you love the internet? Here I am writing about a dim distant memory, and a few clicks later I’ve found a picture to link to! Of course, the fact that it’s “vintage” makes me squirm a bit.

I don’t remember my fifth birthday entirely, which is odd because there was a big party. The rule of my Family Mark III (FMII + Sister B) was that we got a big party every five years. My fifth had a purple and yellow donkey pinata but I remember it not at all. In fact the only reason I do remember it was because I was inspired to draw a picture of the whole setup on the inside of one of my favourite books. For years I’d read that book and see the crayon rendering of a long table with a cake and some other food over which hung a giant creature suspended between two trees. Since that was also the year Jaws came out–and I was terrified of that shark, knowing that it lived in my dark closet at night–I also drew a picture of the upward swimming shark inside the same book cover. I swear it looked for all the world like Jaws was eating my birthday party.

My eighth birthday was on a Sunday. I hated Sunday birthdays as a kid because you always had to go to church before presents. I remember complaining to my parents about it and being told that we went to church for Jesus, to which I wondered why Jesus never had to go to church on his birthday when he was a kid and since he didn’t why should I. We did have a special lunch, though. We had my Uncle Bob and Aunt Mary Ann and their family over and grilled hamburgers and I got my Weebles Treehouse.

And it was sunny.

I love sunny birthdays.

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I just realised that I have a gynecologist’s appointment on my birthday. Talk about carrying observances a little far…

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