Friday, October 2, 2009
I did receive one comment about the video, from Rose, who always seems to respond so thoughtfully, and a couple of comments from friends in person, and I wanted to respond myself. I thought what I wanted to say, in clarification of my reasons for posting it, would be a little longer than usual for the comment section, so I'll just turn it into today's post.
I try to read blogs written by ministry people from all over the country, and of many different denominational perspectives, as a way of broadening and deepening my understanding of Scripture and experience of the Christian life. It's been a tremendous blessing. What I receive at my own church is outstanding, no question, but I still think reading widely (and reading blogs is no different from reading anything else) is just part of keeping one's self sharp in ministry. So, first of all, I would encourage everyone to to do this. Don't just focus on the ones you are most aligned with. Read widely.
Once in while, as in the case of this particular video, some truth just leaps out and jars my world.
When Mark Driscoll talked about the stinking Roman sponge, like Rose, I had to spend a few days processing that new information. I thought about whether I should post the video; it was gross. Would people find it beyond offensive?
Then I thought, "I should schedule this post for Good Friday next spring, when it would really be most appropriate." I still might do that- repeat the post, I mean. I thought about compartmentalizing this new insight into the Passion of Christ into that short season, when Christians allow themselves to let their guard down for a few days (or weeks, if you reflect on Lent).
In the end, I felt that it was something that maybe others would see the way I was coming to see it: a reminder that there is a program running quietly in the background of my life, that affects everything about my life, every day of my life, through the life I will live here on Earth and on into the future eternity- that Christ allowed himself to be tortured and killed for my sake.
Shame on me for going days, or maybe, sometimes, weeks, without thinking about that. Thank you, Pastor Mark Driscoll, for making this insight available to all of us via one of the most blessed and cursed of human instruments, the internet.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
First, I will give you all my lame excuses for going a month without writing:
1. I was busy. Or, at least, distracted. I was serving as general contractor for a big household make-over, involving siding, gutters, demo of a rotting back porch, rebuilding of said porch, and the very sad removal of our huge tulip tree that was deseased and threatening to fall on either the roof or the car. Although I did not do this work myself, it was surprisingly challenging to coordinate the many people who did.
2. It's hard to maintain the pretense of being a "garden blogger" when there are concrete mixers driving over your lawn and ladderjacks in your flower beds. The best I could muster up in the way of gardening was to walk around the property every evening clucking about the damage the workmen had unwittingly done.
3. Additionally, the aforementioned faithful reader moved out. I was to be the helper with this move, but within minutes of arriving at the new location I managed to fall down the rain-slicked porch steps, requiring a trip to the ER and a month of rehab on an injured rotator cuff. I don't know why, but that kind of threw me off my stride, so to speak.
All that is now behind me. The school year and choir season have resumed. There are no more excuses! It's time to get this blog going again! You can expect posts about the hymn of the week, the rehabilitation of my gardens, and the usual general musings, along with some Saturday Silliness and Sunday Strolling. I will amuse at least myself, and perhaps that one other reader.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
One of the most memorable scenes in the movie involved a very young woman calling home on her cell phone. She had just comprehended that the plane was destined to crash, one way or another, and that she was facing certain death. At her parent's home, her stepmother answered the phone. The young woman, in a panicked voice, explained to her stepmother the circumstances she was in. The older woman had already seen news coverage of the other three planes crashing, and quickly understood the situation. She drew a deep breath, and, in the calmest of voices, began to guide the younger woman through her final moments. They expressed their love for each other. Then, the stepmother, seeking to calm the panicked girl, said something like,"I have my arms around you. Do you feel them?" With that, the demeanor of the younger woman changed. She relaxed. "Yes, I feel them," she replied.
Ever since then, that scene has come to mind when we use the hymn "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms" in a worship service. When the refrain lyrics were written by A.J. Showalter in 1887, he was inspired by Deuteronomy 33:26-27: "There is none like the God of Jerusalem- he descends from the heavens in majestic splendor to help you. The eternal God is your Refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Showalter had just received word from two different friends on the same day, that their young wives had died. In writing his condolences, he had added this verse in his notes to them.
Showalter then wrote to another friend, Elisha Hoffman. Hoffman was an Evangelical Presbyterian pastor in the Cincinnati area, and associated with that denomination's publishing house. Showalter suggested that Hoffman compose a hymn based on his suggestions about this verse. Though both of these men would be considered amateur hymn writers, between them they wrote what has become a favorite standard hymn. (Hoffman also wrote another popular hymn, "I Must Tell Jesus".)
Though the tune is rousing and joyous, the reassuring message that was illustrated by the scene in "United 93" is there. Believers can "rest" in the finished work of Jesus Christ on their behalf. In times of struggle, we can relax into the everlasting arms of our Lord.
What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
O, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O, how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Elisha Albright Hoffman (1839-1929)
Monday, July 20, 2009
My parents invited my grandparents over for the evening to watch the moon landing, because we had a better TV. My grandfather came reluctantly. It was always his contention that the space program was a waste of the tax-payer's money. However, my grandmother talked him into coming.
We all, parents, grandparents, sisters, and myself, gathered in the family room. Of course, watching space launches and capsule reentries always meant waiting through a lot of NASA rigamarole that I didn't understand, and there was a long lead-up to the actual event. We filled the time with hopping up and down to make popcorn and other snacks. Eventually, we could see the actual live footage from the lunar module itself as it eased down, down, down to the surface of the brightly sunlit, but lifeless, moon. Just thinking about the transmission of the images, coming from 3,000+ miles away, through the airless void of space and the layers of the atmosphere I had learned about in school, had us marveling and exclaiming to each other.
We perhaps had not realized we were holding our breath until the module was safely down, unscathed. It could have crashed, but it didn't. The video transmission could have fritzed out, but it didn't.
And then, a fuzzy image of a bulky figure could be seen descending slowly down a little ladder. He put his foot down, causing a small puff of dust, and his muffled voice, coming from the moon, said, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
I remember that the astronauts behaved a little like kids as they muddled about in their awkward suits on the surface of the moon. I remember recognizing the joy and excitement in their voices, seeing them playfully bound around in the lower gravity. They made footprints in the moon dust, just as I did in winter when there was a fresh snow. I remember thinking that it was both exciting and sad that their footprints would never go away, never be muted by rain or wind.
At one point, late in the evening, I got up from where I was sitting cross legged on the floor, and went out the door into our backyard. I looked up at the moon in the sky. Alone, I stood there, staring, knowing that the distance was too great, but wishing none-the-less that I could somehow see something on the face of the moon. Somewhere up there, gamboling like children, were two men who were the very first humans to set foot on any heavenly orb but our own. I stood there a long time.
It was a long evening, and, unlike the adults in the room, I was less concerned about lifting off the moon and reconnecting for the journey home. The dangers were a little beyond me.
I went to bed thinking about the serious, scientific astronauts frisking like children. I thought about the footprints. Though I understood it but dimly, the universe had shifted just a bit that night.
Friday, July 17, 2009
"O God, Our Help in Ages Past"
"Joy to the World, The Lord Has Come"
"Alas, And Did My Saviour Bleed"
"When I Survey the Wondrous Cross"
"At the Cross"
"We're Marching to Zion"
What do all these wonderful old traditional hymns have in common? They are all written by an eighteenth century English pastor named Isaac Watts. This is but a very abbreviated list. If you have any familiarity with traditional hymnody, you would recognize dozens of his contributions to the world of Christian worship!
Though we think of these hymns as traditional, or tried and true, songs of the church, it might surprise you to know that Watts was a cutting-edge, and much maligned, creator of contemporary worship in his day and time. Here is a short biographical video produced by Mars Hill Church of Seattle, that gives you a sense of his role in the history of Christian music.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Some other time, but not now;
some other place, but not here;
some other people, but not us.
Anything He did elsewhere He will do here;
anything He did any other time He is willing to do now;
anything He ever did for any other people He is willing to do for us!
Feet on the ground,
and our head cool,
but with our hearts ablaze with the love of God,
we walk out in this fullness of the Spirit, if we will yield and obey.
HT: Justin Taylor
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Here's a short interview with a pastor who is revitalizing a dying church in a place where people "don't do God".
If you are interested in the Christian debate about Global Warming you might like Dean Ohlman's excellent article.
Finally, here's a wonderful post from local blogger, Rose, about volunteering with her grandchildren. What a great idea!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
I wanted to really savor my stroll around the back yard today, because I know it will be a mess most of the rest of the summer from all the construction. I was glad to see there are a few things that had bloomed for the first time within the last twenty-four hours.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
1. no1 b4 me. srsly.
2. dnt wrshp pix/idols
3. no omg’s
4. no wrk on w/end (sat 4 now; sun l8r)
5. pos ok - ur m&d r cool
6. dnt kill ppl
7. :-X only w/ m8
8. dnt steal
9. dnt lie re: bf
10. dnt ogle ur bf’s m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob.
M, pls rite on tabs & giv 2 ppl.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I also love to study the sources of the music we use in church, both old and new, and find out a little about what specifically inspired the composers and lyricists in each case.
I thought it might be interesting to post about music that will be used in an upcoming service, so that those attending will perhaps enjoy the piece more. If you are reading this from a distance, maybe you'll also find some of this background interesting. Even if you're not a church attender, it can be fascinating to have a peek into the historical roots of some of our most influential musicians and poets, and perhaps gain insight into what Christians are reflecting on, whether you agree with it or not. This research is really for my own benefit, but I'll just put it out there anyway. I can't promise that I'll post something weekly, but I'm going to shoot for that as a goal.
This Sunday, the topic of the sermon is The Second Coming of Christ, as it is described in Luke's Gospel, chapter 17, verses 20-37. It's a subject that is endlessly debated, and I have no intention of going into the theology of it here. However, I, and the planning committee I meet with, was responsible for coming up with the music for the service that would support that sermon.
One hymn the congregation will sing is "Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending". Though it's words are attributed to the great hymn writer Charles Wesley, it was actually based on a poem written by an eighteenth century land surveyor from Reading, England, named John Cennick. He eventually became a Moravian preacher. However, Wesley and two others, Martin Madan and a London cobbler named Thomas Olivers, adapted it for use in the Methodist movement.
Don't you love that? A surveyor, a cobbler, and one of the most famous hymn writers of that time, all contributing to this hymn! It's great poetry, too, based primarily on the first chapter of Revelation.
Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand, thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of His train;
God appears on earth to reign.
Every eye shall now behold Him,
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold Him,
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing
Shall the true Messiah see.
The dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears;
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshippers;
With what rapture, with what rapture,
Gaze we on those glorious scars!
Yea, Amen! Let all adore Thee,
High on Thy eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
Claim the kingdom for Thine own;
Everlasting God come down!
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Three years ago, when we first started doing this I, with my gift of encouragement, predicted disaster. I was wrong, thank goodness. Though there are challenges for the staff in this schedule, it has worked out pretty well, and our attendance has grown steadily. All three services are well attended.
One thing we all wanted to prevent, since we are an almost 145 year-old congregation, and have many multi-generational families, was the development of three "congregations" that had no sense of connection with each other. One way we did that was to keep our very strong Sunday School system untouched. Most people can remain connected through those classes even if they attend different services.
Another thing we did was institute our Fifth Sunday Family Gatherings. Four times a year, when there is a fifth Sunday in a month, we scrap our usual schedule and meet for a joint service. Sheer numbers means we have to meet in the room that is used for the contemporary service, as we won't all squeeze into the sanctuary. Unfortunately, this means we can't use the pipe organ, but when we plan this service we work very hard to make sure the music is a blend of old and new, and that we use worship elements that feel accessible to every age group. We use musicians from both "sides". We use those services to highlight "family" celebrations: welcoming new members, giving the children entering fourth grade their first Bibles, hearing from the youth about their mission trip, and recognizing those who are graduating from high school or college. These are things the whole congregation likes to unite in celebrating.
This past week was the Sunday we met together, and we recognized the graduates. No, graduating from school is not a particularly "spiritual" thing, but we want to offer encouragement and prayer for those who are moving on to a new stage in their lives. That thought led me to choose a fairly contemporary choral piece for the choir, "Be Strong, and Take Courage", by Basil Chaisson. Before singing it, four of the choir members read these verses:
"Yes I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5, NLT)
"I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowlege and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation-the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ-for this will bring much praise and glory to God." (Phil. 1:9-11, NLT)
"So we keep on praying for you, asking God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thess. 1:11-12, NLT)
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." (Jer. 29:11, NLT)
It was meaningful to the choir to give this benediction to the graduates on this special Sunday, the Fifth Sunday Family Gathering.
And then, being Baptists, we just had to follow that with a potluck!
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I have never been present at any of the Christians’ trials, and I am unaware of the methods and limits used in our investigation and torture. Do we show any regard to age or gender? If a Christian repents of his religion, do we still punish him or pardon him?
Currently, I am proceeding thus—I question them as to their religion; if they state they are Christian, I repeat the questioning, adding the threat of capital punishment. If they still persist, I order them to be executed. I do not believe that their stubbornness should go unpunished.
I recently questioned a group of Christians who, after interrogation, denied their faith. From this event, I could see more than ever the importance of extracting the real truth, with the assistance of torture, from two female prisoners. But I was able to discover nothing except depraved and excessive superstition.
I therefore thought it wise to consult you before continuing with this matter. The matter is well worth referring to you, especially considering the numbers endangered. This contagious superstition is not confined to the cities only, but has also spread throughout the villages.
Nevertheless it still seems possible to check and cure it.
This is worth pondering; I hope and pray I would be found "incurable".
Sunday, May 31, 2009
If you go for a stroll, be sure to stop and feelthewind, and hearthebird. Oh, and throw some more gravel in the sewer grate for me will you?
To see what other strollers are noticing, visit The Quiet Country House.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
"If our functional purpose in church is to connect with one another and build community, that's what we'll get -- one another. And we'll end up angry. Only Jesus gives us rest. If we will put him first and come to him first, we'll have something to give one another.
If our functional purpose in church is outreach and mercy and justice and all those good missional things, we'll end up exhausted and empty. Only Jesus gives us rest. If we will put him first and come to him first, we'll be renewed for endless mission."
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
All of my irises are pass-alongs from family members. My grandmother, who was an ace gardener, made sure that when we moved to this house we would have all the beautiful flowers we wanted from her divisions. Forsythia, iris, lambs-ears, jonquils- all unnamed but much loved, have flourished in my flower beds. Now, I'm ready to share with my children as they get their own homes.
These beautiful lavender iris are from Grandma H. I've divided them and sent some on to my sisters. There are also some pale beige-y ones that you can just see in the left corner of the picture. They are not a very pretty color, I'll admit, but they have sentimental value to me, so I keep growing them. No one wants to take divisions of them, though!
These royal purple iris are from my sister's garden. She got them from a neighbor. Who needs garden stores? These are very tall and stately, and my very favorites.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
To see who else is strolling on Mother's Day, pop over to The Quiet Country House.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
As the congregation has grown, it's been an ongoing quest to find the perfect way to communicate with a congregation that ranges the full spectrum of ages. A church that has been planted in the last 30 years or so would probably have far fewer problems in this area. Such a church would have very few members that were not tech savvy enough to use online communication easily. In our case, we must respect the fact that our most elderly members are not necessarily using computers at all (although I'm actually proud of our retirees, many of whom are pretty with it when it comes to computers- after all, this community is the home of HAL!).
Here's a little example from my area of ministry. My choir consists of members ranging in age from 14 to 82. Now, the 82 year old is the retired dean of the U of I college of engineering, so he actually knows the developers of, say, Mosaic, and he's a proud technology whiz. I have several people who live in the country and are still using dial-up. I have a couple of retirees who check e-mail only occasionally- it's still not the main way they communicate. I have young 20-somethings who do everything online. Some of us are even FaceBook friends!
When I need to communicate quickly with this group (say, we're cancelling rehearsal due to snow) I use e-mail, and then also call about half of them, because I'm not sure they'll check their e-mail on time. If it's something that isn't immediate, I still send out a postcard by snail-mail. We are a classic example of the transition our whole society is in with communication.
It's even more glaringly disparate when you view the whole congregation. What about the shut-ins? What about the families from other churches who send their children to our AWANA program? If we push everything to our website, or use e-mail alerts for informing people about deaths in our church family, we are bound to miss someone. If we rely on paper, there are people who don't read those publications. And then there's cost. We're paying a web administrator, but we're also paying a lot in postage. So much to think about.
I saw this video on several ministry blogs today, and I thought it was very thought provoking in light of our staff discussions. No matter how you look at it, how we serve our people, how we reach the wider community with the unchanging Truth of the Gospel, is going to change radically in the next couple of years.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
We had the Ebertfest here in C-U last week, and the town had it's annual influx of film afficionados. The city of Urbana honored Roger Ebert by placing a plaque on the sidewalk in front of his childhood home. In response, he wrote a marvelous article about the influence Urbana, and the university, had on his life. I am shamelessly proud to post this; I agree with him wholeheartedly that there is no better place to live.
Not really an article, but if you have an interest in sacred music, Soli Deo Gloria"s website is an interesting place to visit. They are a group of highly competent professional musicians who promote the performance of existing sacred music, and the comissioning of new sacred music on an international level. The short video clips are quite informative about the state of contemporary sacred music (poor), and the importance of promoting sacred works as a way for people to connect with God.
This was an interesting post about, well, thinking.
Article # 4:
I'm not a pastor, but reading blogs by pastors and theologians is still very helpful to me in my position as Music Coordinator. It's all about working with people!
I liked this post from Indiana pastor Rob Harrison about the difference between "doing" pastoral work and "being" a pastor. What Math Class Taught Me About Pastoral Ministry
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
"Neither one," he replied. "I am the commander of the Lord's army."
At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. "I am at your command," Joshua said. "What do you wnat your servant to do?"
(Joshua 5:13-14, NLT)
I was reading along this week and found this incident again- one of my favorites. I would so like something like this to happen to me! I want to see the guy with the sword.
It's such a great reminder. God isn't on anyone's side but His own!
Then, of course, Joshua leads the people into the "battle" of Jericho, where they clearly did not take the city by their own force. God wanted it to fall, so it fell. They really couldn't claim that victory as their own in any way. Love it!
Monday, April 27, 2009
There fell a beautiful clear rain,
with no admixture of fog or snow,
and this was, and no other thing,
the very sign of the start of spring.
Not the longing for a lover;
nor the sentiment of starting over;
just that clear and refreshing rain,
falling without haste or strain.
I was so struck by that poetry, set by Rorem to a calm, contemplative melody, and had it on the program for my junior recital when I was in college. It's perfect for today.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
This is so true, isn't it? Our internal conversation, when controlled by self, elevates and defends self. It proves the old saying "The opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is self."
When, on the other hand, the internal conversation is controlled by the Accuser, it demeans and destroys self- that very self which God lovingly created.
I thought of all that today as I read this:
"Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God's laws, and it never will. That's why those who are under control of the sinful nature can never please God.
"But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you."
Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 8, verses 9-11 (NLT)
Life and peace are ours if we let the Spirit of Christ control our minds.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
We had a remarkably long, cold winter, with some long spells of single-digit temperatures, and unfortunately that means that there were no forsythia blooms this year, and possibly we won't get our pink cloud of crab apple blossoms, either. I also noticed as I worked yesterday that we've lost two rose bushes.
That means we'll just have to enjoy the other, more subtle blooms and foliage that go with April, such as the soft, pale green of the oak leaf hydrangeas.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Today I laid on the couch and coughed.
Today I laid on the couch and coughed, and also watched a little HGTV.
Today I slept on the couch, even though HGTV was on in the background.
And so on, for about three weeks, until I finally got over pneumonia. Then the posts would have suddenly switched to this:
AAAACK!! I HAVE TO GET EVERYTHING READY FOR EASTER!!
That would have been good for about another two weeks.
Now, Easter is over (and everything went well, which just proves that panicking works!), and I am back in my regular routine again, meaning I will be conjuring up blog posts while I stand at the crossing or do my yard work. I'm not guaranteeing anything interesting, mind you, but you know that's the way this blog goes anyway.
So if any of you are still stopping by, thanks for hanging in there with me, and let's get some conversation going!
Friday, April 10, 2009
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Some of you who live in my area may remember Brant Hansen, a U of I grad who was a radio host for a local Christian radio station, WBGL. Brant was also a member of Koinonia Christian Cooperative House at the Baptist Student Foundation, where my sons lived in college. Anyway, he is now in Texas, and has his own radio show on a Christian station down there. As you may see, if you read his post "Can Jesus and Christian Radio Coexist", he is not you average bland CCM guy, and he likes to push the buttons of the Bible Belt establishment.
Someone else is rocking the boat. Check out this article and video about a New England pastor who's efforts to be obedent to the Gospel have raised a firestorm of community anger.
Speaking of anger, Mike Rowe of Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs" wonders "is it really about the AIG bonuses??"
In important reporting on the "slippery slope" issues, Ryan T. Anderson writes:
"President Bush was, in fact, the first president in history to fund embryonic stem cell research. The compromise Bush reached, however, put restrictions in place that prevented the further destruction of human embryos. It is these restrictions protecting human life that Obama has lifted."
As Lenin said "There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience."
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The above picture is of a squirrel's nest in a hollow spot in our tulip poplar. Living as it does just a few feet from our front window, this critter has been endlessly entertaining over the years. I don't know if we see the same one all the time, or if we are seeing a succession of squirrels. I looked online, and found that they live for 7-8 years, so I think we've had this one for a while, which explains it's complete unconcern for us and our (now deceased) cats. I'd love to know if it's male or female! Are there babies up in the tree? Is that the reason for the major housecleaning it is apparently undertaking, judging by all the junk it has tossed out of it's hole? I learned that the nests are called "dreys", and they usually make two or three in the same tree. When one gets too flea-ridden, they change nests for a few weeks. I guess that's one way to deal with a dirty house!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Still, I thought I would pass on a clip that was sent to me by Babara Hedlund of the little 6-year-old girl, Emily Bear, from Rockford, IL, who will be playing with the C-U Symphony on April 11th. If you can get over to Krannert and buy a ticket, I think you would be delighted by her.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, chapter three, "The Suicide of Thought."
Saturday, March 7, 2009
David McCullough and Doris Kearns Goodwin probably have nothing to fear from the most recently proclaimed political author, Rod Blagojevich. The former Illinois governor, who could be indicted by federal officials any day now, probably will be devoting more time to staying out of prison than writing the great American novel.
And you thought that Rod Blagojevich's only talent was talking about himself.
It turns out that he likes to write about himself too. At least that's the plan. Phoenix Books, a Beverly Hills-based publisher, reportedly has offered the former Illinois governor a "six-figure book deal." And the governor has taken it, promising to complete a book with the working title "The Governor" this year.
Not clear yet is whether it will be fiction or nonfiction. Knowing Blagojevich, we'd suggest it will be fiction even if it isn't labeled as such.
"It's the insider's view of not only Chicago politics, but politics in general," said Michael Viner, president of Phoenix Books. "How the horses are traded, the options that are looked at."
Obviously, it won't address a governor's chief responsibility: governing. Blagojevich had little interest in that.
There were some people in high places who didn't want the governor to write this book and worked to try to squash a book deal," Blagojevich's agent, Glenn Selig, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
We have no doubt that a lot of people – in low places, high places and everywhere in between – don't want Blagojevich to write a book. It's not that they fear anything. It's just that they want Blagojevich to go away. But like his pal, Roland Burris, he won't. At least not until after his anticipated federal trial.
The ex-governor better not suffer from writer's block. There likely isn't much time before he'll need to begin planning his defense. In any case, he'd be advised to be a better defendant and a better author than he was a governor.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Christopher Cannucciari decided to video his great-grandmother as she cooked some of the meals her family ate during the Great Depression. The results were so interesting, he created a website for others to learn her cheap and simple cooking tricks. This is lots of fun, and you get to meet a wonderful lady to boot.
Yet another way to try to grasp how much we are getting into with the bailouts: "What Does A Trillion Dollars Look Like?"
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
"Reporting from Washington -- Taking another step into the abortion debate, the Obama administration today will move to rescind a controversial rule that allows healthcare workers to deny abortion counseling or other family planning services if doing so would violate their moral beliefs, according to administration officials...
"Last month without official ceremony, Obama overturned a controversial ban on U.S. funding for international aid groups that provide abortion services.
"The move by the Department of Health and Human Services to throw out the conscience rule is being made equally quietly as most of Washington focuses on the president's blockbuster budget plan."
Read the whole story. This original ruling was supported most strongly by Catholic physicians, pharmacists, and hospitals, who do not want to be forced to counsel women that abortion is an option, or fill prescriptions for the morning after pill.
Just fulfilling my role as a member of the loyal opposition.
I liked my blog-friend Rose's essay on farming and family life in Central Illinois.
There was much discussion this week about the need for dialog about race in the U.S., so this article was interesting to me:
"The real fights within the black community — our internal culture wars — have been over which face we show white America. The legendary battle of ideas between Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois at the dawn of the 20th century was also a battle over masks: should we seem humble and modest or prideful and outraged? This “mask war” was vicious because group masks are mutually exclusive; each nullifies the other. Can’t be humble and outraged at the same time. One mask had to die so that the other might live. So the battle between Washington and Du Bois was winner-take-all. One man emerged the leader of his race; the other became a symbol of Uncle Tomism. "
This is an fascinating editorial by Shelby Steele that revisits the life of Booker T. Washington, and a debate that I, as a white person, never knew existed.
Finally, I'm having a great time reading the blog posts by Slate's David Plotz, Blogging the Bible. Plotz, attending a bat mizvah for a relative, picked up a Hebrew Bible (Genesis through the Chronicles), and, while thumbing through it, discovered stories he had never learned about in Hebrew school. He decided to actually read the Hebrew Bible, and blog about what he found there. The perspective is Jewish, and refreshing because it is just an ordinary person's gut response to what he reads. Always thought-provoking.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
2. Pass the award to another (up to) 15 blogs that are worthy of the acknowledgement. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
Monday, February 23, 2009
I know that right now most people are pulling in their horns financially and building projects are few and far between. We did think hard before committing to the project. Our reasoning went something like this:
1. We've been planning and saving for this project for a long time, and unless something major is encountered, we should be able to complete it for cash.
2. It's not frivolous. That bathroom was truly in bad condition, with sinks and a tub that were so pitted they could not be kept clean, a water-inefficient toilet, a vanity cabinet with the veneer peeling off, medicine cabinets that wouldn't shut all the way, and an old Formica counter top that had been scrubbed so many times the finish was completely worn off. And don't even get me started on the dated colors, etc. I really don't think our home would sell at all without redoing it. We aren't planning to sell, but it's always wise to keep a house, which for most people is a one of their largest assets, in marketable condition.
3. We can keep two terrific remodelers in work, add some sales tax into our local coffers, and help keep our lumber yard, hardware store, and housewares store in business.
4. If we do our research, we could make this room more energy and water-use efficient, as well. For instance, it's a windowless room in the middle of our upstairs. My research led me to plan the instalation of a Solatube sky-light, which will bring daylight in, reducing the need for electric lighting in both the bathroom and, when the door is open, the hallway. We are also getting one of the most water-efficient toilets available (which I found on sale at a bargain-basement price!), as well as a more efficient showerhead and faucets. Even the exhaust fan will be more efficient and much more quiet.
We are also trying to send as little to the landfill as possible. We are reusing the two mirrors- they are really good ones, and new high quality mirrors are expensive. We simply removed them from the front of the old medicine cabinets, and will remount them with a frame around them. The current faucets will be used by a local mission that refurbishes substandard housing because they are only about five years old and in great condition (but won't fit in the pre-drilled holes in the new counter top). All metal items will be taken to a scrap metal yard to be recycled, and we may even get a few bucks for our trouble. All plastic will go into the recycling bin. The old shower curtain will become a drop cloth for painting. The faded old towels will be given to the homeless shelter for the men to use when they shower.
I plan to post on this project again as it finishes, to let you know how these sustainable changes go. Hopefully, I can give you a good idea that you might be able to use if you are undertaking a project like this yourself. I might even get brave enough to post "before and after" photos!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
This is why I love high school and college sports, despite my disinterest in professional sports.
Bill Mounce posts an absolutely wonderful article on the importance of guarding one's speech, even in e-mail and blogging.
So today, I just want to make sure she gets a little recognition on her real birthday:
Everyone looks up to you (and not just because you're so tall.) You have that natural something that makes school boards come and beg you to be their band teacher (even when you didn't apply for the job!), their favorite aunt (so willing to be led all over the house by the finger), and lifelong buddy (with good friends you've kept since middle school).
You make us all better for knowing you, Robin. Thanks for being our very best daughter!