Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An Easter Half-Smile

How often are we surprised by beauty amid ashes...of something springing up in the midst of something so horrid.  Of tales told of survival, love found, faith strengthened - all in a sea of uncertainty and darkness.  And how often do we find snippets (or something far more substantial) from a source which renders the find rather shocking.  And sometimes that shock renders the find all the more special.

This is the post I intended for the week before yesterday when I had to 'spout off' a bit....This is the post that is appropriate for this week.  From a source which I have always found fascinating.  We all struggle through our theological movements in life - we grow, we change, we move.  Our God does not.  If you know anything at all of literature, the source may shock you as well.  Or at least make you form one of those little half smiles...the half smile of someone familiar with an author's work....the half smile of someone 'in the know'.

One of my favorites....may you see the light on the other side of the cross more clearly each day....

Seven Stanzas For Easter

Make no mistake: if He rose at all

it was as His body;

if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules

reknit, the amino acids rekindle,

the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,

each soft Spring recurrent;

it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled

eyes of the eleven apostles;

it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,

the same valved heart

that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then

regathered out of enduring Might

new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,

analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;

making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the

faded credulity of earlier ages:

let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,

not a stone in a story,

but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow

grinding of time will eclipse for each of us

the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,

make it a real angel,

weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,

opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen

spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,

for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,

lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are

embarrassed by the miracle,

and crushed by remonstrance.

~ John Updike

Monday, March 29, 2010

Christians & Bankruptcy

Should Christians declare bankruptcy?

Jumping right into the topic - because it has been nagging at me for quite some time - I'm going to say "probably not".  How's that for iron clad?  But I think it's as black & white as I can come down on.  Let me expand...

The Bible speaks often of periods of debt forgiveness.  With Easter looming beautifully just past the shadow of the cross, the concept of forgiveness is timely especially in the Spring.  New birth - green emerging from hardened ground - life beginning anew.  Deuteronomy 15:1-2 is often quoted as a springboard for justification of bankruptcy filing in the 21st century.  A quick perusal of online websites will even land a searcher onto the page of a Christian bankruptcy attorney.  I'm not going to share the link here because, well, I'd hate anyone to thank me later for putting them in touch with this person.

Debt, however, in the 21st century is far removed from the concept in Biblical times.  There are still lendors - there are still debtors.  The debtor is still in bondage to the lendor.  This has not changed.  However, what Christians now incurr debt for is far different than in years past.  Consider that the justification of bankruptcy is being used by those who:

Speculate on land, on stocks...."speculate" is a smart-guy term for gamble.  Filing banktupcy for gambling losses? 

A lavish life is not something reserved for the oh-so-corrupt Hollywood set.  Multiple vehicles, homes far beyond what is necessary, yearly vacations, teenagers with wardrobes which would make some blush.  The list goes on...Christians are not immune for such things.  Justification for bankruptcy?  The spirit of scriptural debt forgiveness?

We seem to think that because we can't pay our debts, forgiveness is deserved.  To equate this with anything Biblical is so far removed from Biblical forgiveness.  Grace assumes the receipient does not deserve the forgiveness but is being given it regardless.  In response to this grace we strive to live a life of thankfulness to the giver of this forgiveness.  There is no sense of this being owed to us in any stretch of the imagination.  The bankruptcy laws of this country provide for something legal, though it can be argued not something Biblical.

I know far too many Christians who are utilizing bankruptcy as a way out of debt....too many Christians playing a system - putting assets in a wife's name, getting paychecks 'under the table', unwilling to live a "lower class" life.  Is this truly what they believe the spirit of Biblical debt forgiveness is found within?  Shame on them.   Before bankruptcy should come stewardship. 

And that's as deep as I can get...a verbal slap on the hand.  Should a Christian declare bankruptcy?  Legally there are no prohibitions.  Scripturally, while financial forgiveness is certainly spoken of, there are so many aspects to the Christian life that should first be shored up:  Justice, Honesty, Truth....When those are dealt with fully a Christian would be hard-pressed to reach a point where declaring this bankruptcy would not compromise other foundations of a God-centered life.

Monday, March 22, 2010

All Kinds of Girls

My favorite female performer is Doris Day.  Doris doesn't really look like a "Doris" to me, but the name alliteration more than makes up for the normally frumpy first name.  Doris is who I want to be.  From the first time I heard her exclaim (as she sang, naturally) "Que Sera, Sera.....Whatever will be...will be....The future's not ours to see....Que Sera, Sera..."  How almost Calvinist of her.  Is it no wonder that she's worthy of my admiration?

When not hanging with Rock Hudson in some campy comedic romance, Ms. Day was often found in a role that rendered her perky with an edge of wit.  Sassy with a mild edge of snarky.  Equally able to traverse the mine fields of children and the boredom of an adult dinner party.  It was cropped pants and flats or lovely dress with stellar heels.  Well-rounded...in every sense of the word.

While Doris would now be a bit too old to be a bosom friend, I do like to think that her movie and TV characters were kindred spirits.  However, those kind of kindred spirits generally only last 105 minutes max...less when it's TV, sometimes more in a movie.  So it seems it's important to find kindred spirits in real life.  And I do believe that Anne (of Green Gables fame) would whole heartedly agree that while Gilbert may have been her one, true romantic love, a 'kindred spirit' must be female.  She must understand poetic longings as much as she comprehends the woes of hair gone wrong.  She must understand "flats" vs. "heels" and truly  realize that the decision can sometimes be daunting.

So today it just feels like a day in which the Gilberts must take a back seat...still there, but waiting patiently.  Today I am really thankful for the kindred spirits in my life.  Not too many - it seems that the idea of kindred spirit is limiting - but just enough.  "Just enough" is a good phrase for most of life.  "Just enough" ice cream.  "Just enough" talking.  "Just enough" together time.  "Just enough" time alone.  "Just enough" girls.

Today I am thankful.  Thankful for Barbies and Horse Women.  For Short Hair & her red-headed offspring.  Strong Southern Belles and little girls with endless long hair.   For the one that is waiting in Heaven.  All kinds of girls.  Kindred spirits.  Just enough.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ode to a Crock Pot...and a recipe...Crock Pot Lasagna

Could it be the beloved crock-pot is experiencing an economic resurrgence?  It seems that old reliable is finding itself on more and more countertops over the past year and I would venture to guess a downturn in our economy is providing this stalwert with all new popularity.  And, really, more power to it and those practical folks bringing food back to the home. 

My crockpot never left and, truth be told, I don't even know its history.  Yet, how I love the little orphan!  I adopted the pot from my mom who, in her own frugal way, adopted the pot from a garage sale some time in the early 1980s.  Based upon its tan body and orange stripes I believe old faithful was born sometime in the 1970s in the years of The Brady Bunch (pre re-run), sandwiched somewhere between the ERA and Ronald Reagan.  This pot gets around.

The Crock-Pot is really a trademarked named and not an all-purpose term.  What you plug in is a slow cooker.  It may or may not be a Crock-Pot (registered trademark and all that legal stuff).  Yet its a term that has grown into being all purpose much like what it represents.  If you have an ancient beast, like mine, there's a good chance it was made in the early 1970s when the Rival company first bought out the idea of an electric slow cooker.  So many good things coming out of the 1970s....

And now in 2010, after years of blushing brides receiving a Crock-Pot as a wedding gift and then storing it in its box until a once a year potluck rendered it necessary, well the little cooker-that-could is becoming more and more beloved.  Perhaps replacing espresso machines because, honestly, you can't feed the kids coffee for breakfast, lunch & dinner even if you can subsist that way yourself.   Soon we'll be crocheting Crock-Pot cozies and swapping recipes.....wait...did you say recipe?  Sure....I'd love to.

(yes - that's right - no preboiling the noodles!)
1 pound ground round cooked (I cook with 1 clove garlic, 1 t salt, and 1 T oregano)

1 can diced tomatoes with liquid

1 jar sauce

Uncooked lasagna noodles

4 c mozzerella

1 container small curd cottage cheese (taller container)

1/2 c grated Parmesan
Combine cooked ground round, diced tomatoes, sauce...if you have time let it simmer on the stove top but not necessary .

Spread meat/sauce mixture on bottom of ungreased crock pot

Cover with noodles - you'll have to break as needed to cover

Spread meat/sauce mixture

Cover with cottage cheese

Cover that with mozz
Repeat until your ingredients are gone, make sure to end with a layer of meat sauce.

Cover and cook on low 4-5 hours.
IF you don't like tomatoes and want to eliminate the can with liquid make sure to include a cup of water with your sauce...that added liquid seems to be needed to get the noodles nice and soft over time.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Of Texting & Christian Fiction & Those Who Have Written It Best

Sometimes I really wish I had gotten around to writing something and then I find someone else shared my thoughts and seemingly plucked them from my brain.  Often, these writers do so in a style far more eloquent than I have been gifted with.  And I would be remiss if I did not suggest that rather than reading what I have to say, people read what a different writer has to say.  This has happened to me twice this week and I can only suggest that you read what these far more skilled workers of English have to say:

My general dislike of the aberration that is texting and all the assorted social mess associated with such electronic "communication" is best described - from a wonderfully Christian perspective - at Head & Heart.

And the intellectual junk food that is Christian fiction and (most) of what I abhor of the genre is succinctly and thoroughly (and entertainingly) shared at Sand In The Gears.  Make sure you read all three parts...my prayer is you will be convicted in terms of your own reading habits.

Monday, March 8, 2010

52 in 52: I'm late, I'm late...

I already wrote on my adventures with Alice In Wonderland, but I do feel an awful lot like the white rabbit where my reading posts are concerned.  The self-critical portion of my personality is quite upset with the laid-back, artistic portion.  Those portions are constantly warring.  It's really something to imagine what must go on in my head at any given moment.

ANYWAY...see how I was dragging my verbal feet there?  I really am quite caught up with reading and today I shall offer up:

When Character Was King by P. Noonan....a book on the rise of one Ronald Reagan from extremely humble beginnings to a Hollywood experience to politics.  A book written with obvious love for a man who, by most accounts, was quite worthy of the love he seemed to receive from those who were among his fans.  This rise was neither meteoric, nor was it without ramifications, but it was certainly something that anyone of a certain age can recall in part.  The older one is, the more of his Hollywood career is recalled.  Slightly less older and it is his work in California.  Closer to my age, perhaps, and he was a President.

More importantly than a study of politics or rags-to-riches, is the concept of character.  A piece of a human puzzle which seems more and more to be absent in our world at large.  What a wonderful compliment to have it be said, at the end of one's life, that character was paramount to one's life.   And what a goal for parents and grandparents - to ensure that good conduct and good character are cornerstones in the lives of our children.

A read not just for the politically inclined - nor simply for the Republican.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In Defense of Kate Gosselin

It is not a misprint, this title of mine, yes I fully feel that Kate Gosselin needs a bit of defending where the public pulse is concerned and so I shall offer a brief piece of that defense pie.  (I'd also offer her a large slice of humble pie but that would be an entirely different post and an entirely different theme.)

Ms. Gosselin finds herself a single mother after a rather messy - extremely public divorce from her heel of a "loser" husband.  None of this is news, nor do I purport to follow their lives to the extent that I can offer much commentary apart from:  It takes one to know one.  Or perhaps even:  Birds of a feather flock together.  These two people found one another and determined that procreation would be their ticket to fame.  (Another piece of fodder for a future post.)

What I do find interesting, however, is the amount of public scrutiny Ms. Gosselin currently finds herself in the midst of thanks to her recent acceptance into the apex of fame, namely the show Dancing With The Stars.  To be certain, any human being attracted to reality television has ego problems.  Both too much ego and a severe chunk of self-esteem missing.  Not to mention the embracing of the idea that being super-duper thin, pretty, handsome, buff.....is somehow equated with success.  Sometimes it just means you got new hair extensions.  Life is funny that way and very unnatural. 

However, Ms. Gosselin also finds herself a single mother which - if this were the non-public "real" world - would mean she has to go out and get a job of some sort.  While it's easy to argue her choice in vocation is less than normal, after using her uterus as a means to public fame crticizing this choice is just funny.  Suddenly Hollywood cares about children being raised by nannies and sitters?  Perhaps going through a laundry list of starlets with offspring and their child-rearing decisions is called for, as it seems Kate is only doing what is acceptable in this silicone world of empty headedness....a world where a uterus can be a meal ticket and an absentee husband/father is as normal as botox and implants.

So should you feel the need to criticize a single mother who finds herself needing to work, pretend instead that Kate is a member of your church and her husband has been seeing a succession of 20-something bimbos devoid of morality.  Pretend she is your sister.  Your daughter.  Your friend.  You don't have to agree with her in the least, but you do have to offer up a more viable suggestion than "she should stay home with her children".  Oh - and "she should go back to her husband" is probably not an option either.  Any other suggestions?


While not worth it's own post, how about instead people attempt to come up with a viable defense of a "Christian" publisher thinking Kate G. has anything to offer Christian women and, therefore, should continue to churn out books.  Does this publisher really think that little of the collective brain power of Christian women?  I don't think we are that stupid.  I hope we aren't that stupid.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Poetry as Hymn/ Hymn as Poetry

It began as a poem.....

Light Shining out of Darkness
by William Cowper

God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding ev'ry hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow'r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.