Thursday, January 25, 2007

Antsy for the weekend

There were lots of good guesses on the "watzat?" but the closest anyone got was realizing it was glass. Does anyone remember Royall Lyme cologne? I loved that stuff when I was a teen. After my mom died several years ago, we were cleaning out the storm cellar I lived in for my senior year of high school. (It had electricity and telephone and a built-in desk.) There were several Royall Lyme bottles that I had saved. This is one of them. The "watzat?" shot was taken from above (hence the blurry center).

For the last several days I have been working on another arrangement for handbells, one that combines Amazing Grace and Farewell to Tarwathie. The cool thing is that I finally bought some software that allows me to compose on my computer. Since I do not have aMIDI keyboard, it means figuring out keystrokes. But the best part is that I can start at any measure and play back what has been written. That makes editing a lot easier. I still have a lot to learn (for example, how do you number the measures?), but it is a lot easier than writing it out by hand.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Time for another "watzat?"

Can you believe that I still have some of these "watzat?" photos? As with previous items, this is in my study. It is at least 35 years old. What do you think it is?

Tonight I led a Bible study for some college students. We were discussing the issue of how one knows the truth. When we discussed the necessity of trust in order to know the truth, I thought of the story in Genesis 3. You know this one--Eve is hanging around the garden when the serpent shows up with a proposition. Her decision is all about trust. Does she trust her husband (who told her to avoid the tree of the knowledge of good and evil)? Does she trust God (who spends time with her and her husband on a daily basis)? Or does she trust the very wily (and medacious) serpent? Clearly she wants to know the truth; she applies her analytical abilities to the tree. It looks good, the fruit is juicy, and it will increase her knowledge. So she decides to trust her analysis rather than to trust her most foundational relationships.

After they eat the fruit, the man and the woman are described in these terms: "Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves" (Gen. 3:7). Sounds like they learned something. Maybe the "eye-opening" experience was educational. I don't think so. While they focused on the relationship with God and each other, they had no need of clothing. When they trusted their own conclusions rather than the relationship with God, they paid attention to their physical selves. Thye hid from the relationship. They covered themselves from each other. They got distracted from the truth rather than more knowledgeable. Truth has to do with spirit, not matter.

When we get distracted by our physical situation, we have taken our eyes off of God. When we trust our finite rationality rather than our relationship with the Infinite, we depart from the truth. Why is this so hard to learn?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

More weather pics

The ice has mostly melted now, but we are expecting snow later this week, maybe lots of it. When the sun came out I took these pictures. Hope you like them. (Click on them for a better view.)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Virtual violence

On this anniversary of the birth of Martin L. King, Jr., I am reminded of how oblivious I have been to the monumental events which have taken place in my own lifetime. I was in school during Rev. King's civil rights activiites, yet I paid no attention at the time. I hear his sermons now and feel deprived that I have not really heard them until now. How would it have changed me had I been listening back then?

Has television helped us know more about our world? The civil rights marches, Viet Nam terrors, protests and riots have all been served up to us in our living rooms when we were younger. What did we learn from those images? Now we see gruesome execution scenes captured on cell phones and broadcast worldwide. How does that afffect you?

I have never been in a fistfight. The last one that I witnessed firsthand was when I was in junior high school. I found it revolting. I have never shot anyone or been shot or even threatened with a gun. But I have been virtually exposed to horrific violence. And that's just watching the news. I think that virtual violence is going to prove to be detrimental to us Westerners. If we witnessed firsthand the violence we see on TV, would it have the effect of compelling us to take action? When you can't just click the remote to make it go away, does violence have a sobering effect? Does virtual violence numb us to real violence? Is it all a computer game? Is it Wag the Dog?

I wonder if the "deciders" who have gotten us into this war in Iraq are as naive as I am about violence. How have they been affected by virtual violence? How real is this war to them? I wonder.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Weather pics

Those of you who live where it gets cold all winter may be unimpressed with the photos. But the buildup of ice crystals on the limbs in our backyard this weekend impressed me. You can see that the initial layer of rain had to freeze first. Then the subsequent moisture could stick to the ice layer and grow these great formations. (Click on the photo to see more detail.) Meanwhile, walking anywhere outside is a slippery proposition. Happy Martin L. King Day!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

After a bit of readjustment . . .

Thanks to those who commented (or tried to do so) on the Return from Hibernation posting. Doggone if I didn't get all bumfuzzled trying to upgrade to the Google Blogger and a new template. This durned technical stuff!

OK, how about a photo of our grandson. My sister says he is just too adorable. (Well, she has only seen photos, but the kid is cute.) When we arrived in the town east of LA where he lives, the Christmas tree was decorated, but had no presents under it. According to our daughter-in-law's theory of How Christmas Should Work, presents should only make an appearance under the tree on Christmas morning. OK, so there was a huge pile of packages on Christmas morning. Orion was slightly overwhelmed. Generally he enjoyed chewing up the wrapping paper. About the time he started playing with one present, another wrapped package was put under his nose. The boy does NOT lack for toys, let me tell you. Next year, we will be conferring with the other set of grandparents beforehand to see if we can be slightly more rational about the whole gift-buying thing.

The Sunday after Christmas, I asked my Sunday school class what is authentic about Christmas. Since the date was first set during the time of Constantine (4th century), there is precious little info in the New Testament about it--only the two birth narratives (Matthew and Luke). No Christmas trees, no cards, no presents, no Santa, no snow nor jingle bells. Think I was being too harsh on them? Just call me the Grinch.

As I think about my cultural background, I see that so much of who I am devolves from my heritage. And it has been a largely undifferentiated heritage. I don't know where so many inclinations and prejudices got their start in me. Maybe this year I can examine a little more closely who I am, what I believe, and why I believe it. Happy New Year to you all.

Monday, January 01, 2007

It's January and I am back

I am back on the blog now and will try to be consistent with my postings. Thank you for being patient with me. I discovered that several people were relying on my blog to keep up with the happenings in our house. I will tell some saved up stories in later postings. Today I will describe a surprise that I had in December.

When my mom died several years ago, we inherited most of her houseplants. One of those was a mother-in-law's tongue (sanseveria) with leaves about three-and-a-half feet tall. Since it was trying to break out of the pot it was in, we decided to repot it. I took a couple of the smaller leaves and planted them in a 6-inch container which I placed in a south window.

Lo and behold, one day the small planting had a spike coming up with tiny buds on it! I had never seen a mother-in-law's tongue bloom before. (Evidently it does so routinely in tropical settings, but not usually on December.) Here's what the buds looked like.

The flowers turned out to look a bit like honeysuckle and there were large, clear, viscuous drops of sap which formed underneath the blossoms. I was tempted to taste it, but after reading that this plant is poisonous to animals, I am glad that I refrained. Have you ever had one of these plants bloom for you? Maybe it was once in a lifetime.

I hope that your Christmas season was warm with meaning. I will have photos of our grandson's first Christmas for later postings. How are those New Year's resolutions coming along?