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Entries in All Random All the Time (48)

Monday
May202013

Churning without butter

I admit that I churn quite a bit. I often have a hard time letting things go. That can be good, but it can be bad. I long to be more like my husband who knows when to stop and let things go.

Over the past number of weeks, I've had more than one occasion when I've thought to myself, "I'm done with social media." I've seen things (and probably said things) that remind me how easily it is to abuse a good thing. And yes, I do think social media can be a good thing. We're the problem when it gets abused. If human beings weren't misusing social media, they'd be misusing something else.

I've written about twenty posts which have made their way into the garbage, and they're in the trash because I felt like my honesty would just be a bad idea. So I wrote them, enjoyed the catharsis, and then dumped them. Note to self: I need to do that more.

My thoughts have been mostly on the way women pile on other women for the choices they make. My daughter has a name for a certain kind of friendship.  She calls it the "I like you if you're like me" kind of friendship. Yes, we all tend to gather around common things, but sometimes, we can be so narrow. I knew a family once who wouldn't let their kids play with other kids who weren't "Growing Kids" children, i.e. their parents subscribed to Gary Ezzo's parenting methods. This is the kind of thing I'm talking about. I don't want to be like that.

I think we confuse being strident with being convicted. I've seen a lot of strident lately. I've seen a lot of folks who come at others with an attitude that says, "I cannot possibly be wrong." I don't begrudge anyone his certainty if he feels he's come to those conclusions with thought and consideration, but sometimes, being too unwilling to consider being wrong means we're simply not teachable.

Over the past few weeks, I've been reminded also that people flock to division and argument. People gravitate to those kind of articles. The articles that simply explain a theological truth often get read far less, and in reality, it's those kinds of articles we should be feasting more upon because understanding theology helps us understand other things.

I've seen people bully others. I've seen people cling tenaciously to having the last word. I've seen people defend their arrogance by saying they're just promoting truth. I like the word "winsome." I think truth is much better wrapped in winsome than arrogance. We all hear people get snitty if you mention "tone" of words, and comments like "tone police" come up. Yes, dialogue in the public square should be allowed, but there are some people out there who can't seem to come across as anything other than condescending and negatively sarcastic. And just for the record? "Well, duh!" is one of those phrases that really can't be spun in any other way than condescending.

Another reason I've been churning is because I know I've been arrogant, strident, and unteachable, and I'm cringing for every time that someone else thought that about me. I've been blogging since 2004; that's a lot of time to be arrogant online; never mind the times I've been arrogant face to face.

My husband is not an arrogant man. He's very cautious and careful. He doesn't get riled in an argument. He doesn't cling to the feeling of being right or vindicated. He's willing to let someone have the last word. He's willing to be wrong. He knows how to demonstrate if he's right and someone else may be mistaken; but he's decent about it.

He churns a lot less than I do. There has to be a connection.

Someone on my Twitter feed this past week re-tweeted this comment by Joe Thorn:

I am genuinely grieved over the arrogant, loveless, and needlessly divisive social media blasts from xians against xians.

I had to stop and ask myself am I guilty of "social media blasts."  I was thinking that social media blasts are meant to garner attention. To what are we drawing attention? Truth or just ourselves?

Edification, that's the name of the game. And that's what I need to seek to do. I'm sure it would involve a lot less churning.

Wednesday
Feb062013

Jaded, cynical, or cranky

I am, likely,  all of the above.

I don't watch a lot of professional sports.  I don't watch much television period, but if I'm going to watch sports, I enjoy hockey, basketball, and tennis.  I have never cared for football, and I think I've only ever watched one game. Something is wrong when really fat guys get paid for being professional athletes. I don't begrudge anyone for enjoying their favourite sports.  Lots of people I know hate hockey, and that's just fine with me.

It isn't the sports so much as the "professional" aspect of it that I'm not impressed with.  When men making millions of dollars for the sole privilege of chasing a puck around the ice can go on "strike,"  there is something wrong.  Seems to me those men and women who fought for the right to strike would laugh at some of the millionaries who go on strike today.  They're not exactly striking for their personal safety.

Athletes who get exalted only to be deposed because of gambling, drug use, promiscuity, or whatever scandals come along the way simply reveal how easily we will idolize anything as long as it looks important or does something we can't do. Hey, I love watching Roger Federer play tennis, but I'm not going to make any assumptions about his morality; why do I care?  He's entertaining me, not being my shrink or advisor. In these days of social media, we falsely think we "know" someone because we follow him on twitter and know when he's eating a bean burrito.

The fuss over what happened at the Superbowl (which I did not watch) seemed to me one of those, "Ho hum" moments.  Superbowl; advertisers; men watching; Beyonce.  What did we think would happen?  It's not like they asked Mary Poppins to be the half time show. Yes, Beyonce is objectifying women; yes, it's promoting distorted sexuality, setting a bad example, and all that stuff.  Why are we surprised?  When the most memorable things about a sports event are the commercials, I think we know what the priority is, and I don't think it's sportsmanship.

I don't expect anything from secular culture that it cannot deliver.  We are not living in a Christian society.  It's post-Christian, so why are we surprised when a woman gets up in front of millions of people to offer what she's selling:  herself?  Isn't that how Beyonce makes her living?  What did people expect?  Not only did she get to disgust thousands of people watching; she also got to promote herself even more.  Is that not the business she is in?

The Superbowl and the commercial venture that professional sports has become feeds the journalists, gives people something to talk about at the water cooler or on social media.  But I'm not kidding myself; it's really not about the love of the game anymore.  If you want the love of the game, I suggest you watch high school sports, or even a buch of 10 year old boys play soccer.  That's the love of the game.

Thursday
Jan172013

When fearfully and wonderfully made is hard to feel

I did not sleep well last night.  Between alternating moments of hot and cold (oh the joys of midlife!) and hearing songs in my head, I had a hard time.  I don't know why, and I don't know if anyone else has this happen, but when I struggle with insomina, I hear songs.  Sometimes, they're good songs; sometimes, they're the drivel I heard on the car radio earlier.  Thankfully, last night featured Andrew Peterson's song "Come Back Soon."

I woke up very grumpy.  Two cups of coffee didn't do it for me, and as I faced a day of details and an errand later today which I'd rather not do, I was in no mood for my regular bible reading time, so I decided to postpone it and read something else.  I can't read my bible and pray when I'm grumpy.  After reading a few blogs and the news, I was ready.

I thought about Psalm 139, and the line that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (v.14).  I thought to myself that it's a lot easier to feel that way when one is young and productive.  After having given birth to children and nursing them, I felt fearfully and wonderfully made.  When I could chase toddlers, I felt that way again. I'm going to be 48 years old in a few weeks; sometimes, it's hard to feel fearfully and wonderfully made.

But of course, I am thankful for the good health I have, and I stopped feeling sorry for myself.  I may not feel like I'm fearfully and wonderfully made, but Scripture tells me I am, and as a creation of God, I can be confident that He knows me; He knows every detail.  He knows that I woke up feeling tired.  He knows I am discouraged at having insomnia night after night, and having to randomly remove my cardigan throughout the day because I feel like I'm being incincerated from the inside out (note to younger women:  plan ahead for light layers!). He knows that there are days when for no particular reason I just feel like I want to either scream or cry. 

I won't complain because these are issues that are minor, and certainly not life threatening.  I am not, like many women my age, suffering from breast cancer, heart disease, stroke or mental illness.  I can walk, drive my car, and care for my home.  My concerns are such minor things.

This is a reminder that our physical selves are not insignificant, and that we battle them daily.  Whether the battle is with a serious disease, or something minor like the female struggles of the late forties, it is a reminder of the reality that these fleeting physical bodies can control us so easily.  These sin-tainted bodies can control us physically and mentally.

Thanks be to God that He can over rule such things.  Thanks be to God that I can read the words that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  And thanks be to God that I can be reminded that my feelings will lie to me, but His word is truth.

Wednesday
Dec192012

Ancient history, news coverage, and pictures

I'm here with my coffee, constructing a post about nothing in particular.  Wait .... isn't that every day here? Well, this is more random nothing in particular.

Got the kidlets home for the holidays yesterday.  I like the drive there, through the countryside, past some really big farms.  I have a thing for big blue silos and barns, and if it wasn't for the fact that there is nowhere to pull over, and I could very well get run over, I would have stopped to photograph a few of them.  Plus, it was drizzling, and I didn't want to get wet.  

My daughter and I talked at length yesterday about many things, including the shooting in Connecticut.  Earlier, on the weekend, as she shared with me her reactions, she said that she found a lot of the social media content about the shooting very discouraging and she ended up unfollowing some people from Twitter and just avoiding it.  Her comment to me was that she certainly felt like she had something to say, but it wasn't anything profound, so she was holding her peace.  Would that more people would adopt the position of a 23 year old young woman, which is ironic, because she's more articulate than some of the so called professionals I've read over the past while.

I confess to being mostly unimpressed with the way news is covered these days.  It's more about ratings and hyperbole than it is about information.  I find it odd that people can be paid huge sums of money for talking for hours and hours about the same thing which ultimately is nothing more than a pile of information divorced from understanding.  I watch the headlines, but I mostly avoid news networks except for the CBC here in Canada.

I'm really enjoying starting the Read the Fathers project.  I have missed a day here and there, but the readings are presented so that one does not feel out of the loop when she does return.  I am also following up on a suggestion Michael Haykin made in his book Rediscovering the Church Fathers and reading Henry Chadwick's The Early Church.  I've had it on my shelves for years, and read snippets here and there.  I'm about to start reading about Justin Martyr.  I also picked up a highly recommended volume that Dr. Haykin gives in his book, and that is the first volume of Jaroslav Pelikan's multi volume series.  I've seen it recommended in a number of other places as well.  This is the kind of reading I like; a little rabbit trail that is providing all sorts of interesting stuff.  I doubt my occasional blog posts about the church fathers will be of interest to anyone other than me, but I'm finding it really interesting.

Another book that intersected my path as I started down this one is the book Journeys of Faith, which I picked up a while back after reading some reviews of it.  Considering the place that Orthodox and Catholics place on tradition and the teaching of the church fathers, this, too, has been interesting.  I know some folks who converted to Catholicism from Evangelicalism, so this book, too, is an eye opener for me.

I've noticed that many writers employ a curious form.  It sounds sort of like poetry, but is presented as prose. The overall tone is sort of daydreamy and pondery (I don't think that's a word; sorry), and every sentence is its own paragraph.  I have to wait until my English professor daughter wakes up to tell me if that's a common thing these days.  It doesn't really appeal to me, but I know it does others.  I like my poetry as poetry and my prose as prose.  But then, I think I am approaching official curmudgeon status.

Ugly weather and rain has prevented me from going outside much with my camera, but I did edit some pictures from a year ago and put them up at my picture blog.  I demonstrate how I learned through error, and the post before that has some pictures of an Amaryllis, using both a zoom lens and a macro lens.  My husband brought the plant home for its photo potential alone.  I am vowing to spend more time practicing with my camera in 2013.  It's so relaxing and knowing that I am just an amateur, and likely always to be one, takes the pressure off from thinking I need to achieve more than I'm able.  I'm just happy when my husband likes them.

As we all move ahead closer to Christmas and find ourselves either burdened down with preparations or too much eating, may we all remember to take time to sit and just be still.  Advent is about waiting, but we don't seem to be waiting during this time.  We seem to be racing around.  May we all find some time for silence.

Friday
Nov232012

Giving praise where praise is due

This is a very random thought, pecked out on my keyboard having only had one cup of coffee, so my apologies if it isn't very coherent.

In recent days, I've read snippets here and there by women who talk about how female authors and teachers "changed their lives."  I'm always a little uncomfortable about that statement.  I'm very uncomfortable when women are too strident in defending their preferred guru but won't defend the authority of Scripture.  When we won't accept public figures standing to account for their teaching, I think there is something wrong.  I'm of the mind that if you're a public figure, it comes with the territory, and when there is argument, simply defend yourself. When hordes of women call others "mean" for objecting to a questionable teaching, discourse begins to crumble.  Cries like that are generally emotion-driven, and I think we can all agree that arguing with an emotional person is rather counter productive.

I have benefitted from the teaching of others over and over again.  I have learned something from books I have read, and been excited and challenged over the things I read.  But, ultimately, what changes me is not Mr/Miss/Mrs Famous Writing Person; it's the Word of God, ministered to me through the power of the Holy Spirit.  If Famous Writing Person did not exist, I could still experience those changes.  In fact, sometimes, Famous Writing Person can stand in the way if I pay more heed to that individual's words than God's Word.

If I cannot see in Scripture how as a woman I am loved, valued, treasured, chosen, redeemed, sanctified, glorified, then what I need is help understanding the Scripture.  Learning to interpret and understand the Scriptures is a life-long process.  And yes (shock!) a male teacher may just be the right individual to help me understand how to interpret and apply the Word of God.  Ultimately, a good teacher will tell us that when we do gain understanding and do feel like we've been changed, we must be careful to give the glory to God, not the famous writer.

One of the drawbacks of the internet is that it can make any ordinary joe (or josephine) seem bigger or more important.  We can all hide behind our screens and keep safely hidden any ugly things about us.  God, however, has revealed in Scripture all we we need to know about him in order to be reconciled to Him and to grow.  He is to be our ultimate teacher.  If we must rely on the sparkling personality of the speaker, or gain strength from the audacity of a public figure, then I think we will ultimately be the lesser for it.  If we want to be fully sanctified and transformed, our ultimate allegiance is to God and His Word.  

When we give thanks for others, let's thank the One who gave those people to us.  Ultimately, God is the one who deserves the praise.