Sunday, September 21, 2008

I Have No Response To That

So here's a weird thing that I've noticed.  Back when I was pregnant or had a newborn baby I noticed that random women in public felt like they could confide in me.  They would tell me bizarre snippets of their personal lives while waiting in line or washing hands in a public restroom.  I began to notice the signs of these odd interactions: the woman will make sidelong eye contact with you and appear to be smiling at something right next to you (hesitant to make eye contact).  She will continue to be close to you even though you try to sidle away.  Finally, she will full-on confront you with some bizarre little piece of personal information.

Now don't get me wrong, I have no problem with women who are nostalgic about their own child-bearing days and offer comments like, "When are you due?" or "How old is he?" or "Is it a boy or a girl?"  Those are sweet and thoughtful comments, and the women are usually happy to see a baby.  The women I'm talking about make random comments that have nothing to do with the child in your belly or on your hip.  My son was probably only 8 weeks old when once I was standing behind one of these women while she was trying to make correct change for a clerk.  She couldn't find it and kept smiling, looking at me, and making excuses (while looking at me, not the clerk).  When she finally found it she looked at me and said, "He always takes the checkbook!  Don't you hate it when he does that?"  I had never seen this woman before in my entire life.

Here's another example.  When I was largely pregnant with my second I was washing my hands in a public restroom.  Another woman was next to me, casting those odd sidelong smiles again.  Here it comes.  "You know, he just doesn't keep in contact with me like he used to!"  She stated emphatically, now with the guts to look me in the face.  "You would think at least a letter!"  After a polite smile and nod I darted out of that bathroom ASAP.

An interesting note is that this never happens when I have toddlers or young kids in tow.  These women for the most part seem to have disappeared.  Still, now that I have a large boot on my foot and a limp in my step, I have noticed another instance where these women accost me: when I'm injured.

Shortly after I broke my toe I had to run out to Safeway.  I noticed the woman behind me was casting those weird smiles and manuevering to get behind me in line.  I thought I had ditched her as I limped through the parking lot, but as I pushed my unlocking mechanism on my car I heard giggles behind me. "I just love those lights you have, they're so cute!"  I have no response to that.

My pastor's wife has suggested faking injuries just to attract these women.  When they start in on their personal life snippets, it may be appropriate to hand out a tract and invite them to church.  Clever!  And it's easier to fake an injury then a baby!

Friday, September 19, 2008

We Girls Can Do Anything! Right, Barbie?

The above line was probably my most cherished slogan song from childhood.  I didn't really get what it meant, I just liked Barbie dolls.  Now I get the irony (at least in connection to Barbie dolls): girls can do whatever they want, but they will most likely never look like a Barbie!

This was the type of feminism I saw as a child.  It was like the American dream--you can do anything you set your mind to--tailored for elementary-age girls.  As I got older I realized that there were other types of women who were called "feminists" and they looked nothing like Barbie!  Stereotypically they were about despising what would be considered "traditional" female rolls.  I did some reading by the founding feminists, including some of Simone de Beauvoir, who was essentially an existentialist (Jean-Paul Sartre was her lifelong boyfriend).  Most modern, university professor-type feminists would point to her or someone closely associated to her as the founder of feminism.  My mother-in-law, a self-described feminist, says that de Beauvoir is one of her favorite authors (and she is also a former university professor).

De Beauvoir clearly despises women's traditional roles, and for the most part, ends up despising women, but it seems as though feminism has changed a lot in the last 60 years or so since her writing.  When I had my firstborn son, my mother-in-law (and her feminist friends) fiercely defended my right to be a stay-at-home mom--because of their feminism!  This was definitely the last place I had expected to be supported in my convictions, but that's because feminism has become a Barbie feminism--girls can do whatever they want.  If I want to be a stay-at-home mom, then I should.  If I want to be CEO of a company, then I should.

Is this feminism anymore?  I think in their denunciations of Sarah Palin, liberal feminists are revealing their true positions.  They don't like her using the "feminist" label because she's not a secular liberal.  All this really shows is that feminism is quite dead.  There is no place for a woman anymore to despise her biology and still claim to speak for women (even Hillary Clinton is a mom)!  However, secular liberalism is most definitely not dead--although it is terminally ill.  Current feminists claim that their label can only be used for those women who also subscribe to a liberal, secular social policy--those are the only real feminists.

So, ladies, take heart!  Although the smaller idol of feminism has been toppled, the larger idol of secular humanism is about to fall--even now the axe is laid to the foot of it!  This has the worshippers worried and they are crying out louder to their god, cutting themselves and moaning like the priests of Baal.  What an encouragement to continue in our works as godly women, not wearying of doing good.  God is blessing the work of our hands, and as David knew, it doesn't matter that Goliath is big--he just makes a louder noise when he falls!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Unidentified Flying Object

So here is a fun game to play.  Do you see the small, shiny twirly thing in the picture below?  It was flying over our house on Sunday and is quite literally a UFO (unidentified flying object).  Now it could mean that Aptos will soon be invaded by alien creatures, or possibly a child's shiny balloon broke free.  What do you think it is?  Before you judge to quickly, it did do an amazing 90 degree turn in the air and headed off back in the same direction it came.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Simple Things for Simple Minds

Excerpts from a Dog's Diary

8:00 am - Dog food!  My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride!  My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park!  My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted!  My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Lunch!  My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard!  My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail!  My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk Bones!  My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball!  My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed!  My favorite thing!

Excerpts from a Cat's Daily Diary...

Day 983 of my captivity...

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.  They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets.  Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.  The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape.  In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.  Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet.  I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of.  However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am.  Jerks.  There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight.  I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event.  However, I could hear the noises and smell the food.  I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies."  I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking.  I must try this again tomorrow--but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches.  The dog receives special privileges.  He is regularly released--and seems to be more than willing to return.  He is obviously retarded.  The bird has got to be an informant.  I observe him communicating with the guards regularly.  I am certain that he reports my every move.  My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe.

For now...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Grouches of the World Unite

So after a rough weekend of sicknesses and broken toes we watched an old favorite movie with the kids.  It opened with a sequence that I had nearly forgotten about, but really enjoyed, and ended up convicting me of my attitude.

Why don't they make kids' shows like this anymore?

Blood and Guts Everywhere

So here's an entertaining little story of injury and mayhem.

Saturday night I was in the kitchen after telling my boys to clean up the books in their room before bedtime.  I then heard the tell-tale BANG!! and then intense screams.  I dropped what I was doing and ran to their bedroom, but while rounding the corner, slid on the hardwood floors and smashed my foot into the wall!  It hurt like nothing else, but I continued hopping on one leg to respond to the screams and wails coming from my boys' room.  As I thought, my youngest had fallen off the bunkbed stairs and bonked his head.  I grabbed him, wanting to scream myself because my foot hurt so bad, and we both laid on the bed and cried.  As usual, he was better in about 30 seconds, but I was realizing that my foot hurt worse now than it did when the injury occurred.  Hmmm....thought I....that's a bad sign.  The next morning my baby toe was 3 times it's normal size and black, blue, and purple.  My sons thought it was cool, but it is broken.  I never realized how much you need your baby toe, until you can't use it!

All in all it reminded me of that episode of The Office--one of my favorites--where Michael Scott burns his foot on the George Foreman grill.  My son is Michael Scott.  I am Dwight K. Schrute who hurtles out the door to be the savior and in the process crashes my car, throws up everywhere, and continues on to save my boss--oops!  I mean son--than I'm the one who ends up with the concussion.

Monday, September 8, 2008


So, who remembers this character from cartoon history?

Yep, that's Jeanette, Simon's girlfriend from Alvin and the Chipmunks. Now, am I the only one who's noticed her uncanny resemblance to...

Look long. Look hard. Isn't it amazing?? I can't figure out any symbolism here, but now that I've noticed it I don't think that I can ever look at Sarah Palin the same way again!

The Gateway to Literacy

My oldest son has begun to read!  I just had to share this bit of personal news with my blogger friends.  He now has the gateway to literacy opened by one small word.  Drum roll please......

Yes, that's it.  The first word my son ever read on his own was the word "Costco."  Guess where we were when he read it?

I bet Shakespeare's just around the corner!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

And In Case You Thought I was Biased...

If this doesn't get you to vote Republican, than absolutely nothing will.

Bring On The Bucket

OK.  You can watch this, but make sure your food is properly digested.  Or have a bucket handy.

Did you make it through that one?  Good!  Now you can try this!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Quiverful

I've been doing some reading and thinking a lot about men's and women's--and ultimately--boy's and girl's roles.  Of course I only have sons, but I am a daughter, so I do have some experience with both.

I was raised basically to enjoy boy things.  I played sports, hunted and gutted animals, and fished and backpacked.  I was expected not to get emotional and to be able to do things without assistance.  I never despised the state of motherhood, I just didn't think about it very often.

Going to college I encountered wonderful teachings on femininity, and initially it repulsed me.  I thought being feminine meant being silly or frilly or emotional and I wanted nothing to do with it.  However, those who taught me godly femininity were none of those things.  They were beautiful, intelligent, highly-educated women, who intimidated any weasel-like attentions that they got from men.  They also were (or soon became) wonderful mothers.  They taught their children well, shared the gospel wherever they went, and frightened most of the unbelievers around them!

Their testimony definitely swayed my heart to a belief in true, godly femininity, and I repented of my previous attitudes.  However, I have occasionally seen some who supposedly triumph Biblical femininity denigrating or limiting what there is for their girls to do in the world.  My heart would react against that, although my mind knew not why, until I read something Doug Wilson said where he called boys "conquerors" and girls "conqueror-bearers."

Psalms 127:5 says "As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are the children of the youth.  Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."  All children are represented as weapons--and not only the boys!  

So, then, what exactly is a women's battleground?  I ask, where did those arrows come from?  The one fashioning and shaping those weapons, gently placing them into the quiver of her husband, is the wife--the bearer of conquerors.  The wife is in charge of the artillery.

I should also mention that this does not mean that a woman without children cannot bear conquerors.  There are multiple Biblical examples of childless women being triumphant against the seed of the serpent.  Sarah (for most of her life), Deborah, and Esther just to name a few.  St. Augustine once said that to know what God wills for your life you should love Him, and then do as you please.  All of these ladies were conquerors by loving God, honoring their husbands, and then doing as they pleased. 

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Not to Get Into Politics, But...

So, I normally wouldn't say much about politics, but sometimes it's really hard not to.  As far as the current options stand, I personally like none of the above.  Obama hates babies and I don't trust McCain.  However, I find myself really liking this.

I may also like this because, like her, my family's from Northern Idaho, graduated from University of Idaho in Moscow, and grew up hunting and fishing (like I did).  Her husband's an oil rig worker and deep-sea fisherman who wins dog sled and snowmobiling competitions.  He's tougher than she is.  She's also a mom and does this for her kids.  If nothing else, it would be fun to see our Bible stories come alive and to watch this Deborah put Barak to shame again.  Or is McCain the real Barak because he can't lead without her?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

People ARE Naturally Good--Science Says So!

So, for a mild amusement, click here.  It seems like scientists have "discovered" that children naturally like to share with each other; not toddlers, mind you, just older and wiser 7- and 8-year-olds.  They gave each kids a pile of jelly beans to dole out, and they were remarkably generous with the other "children."

Why is "children" in quotes?  Well--and here's the funny part--they didn't actually have the kid share with others.  To minimize "face to face conflict" they only put a picture of a kid there for the testee to share with.  Um, excuse me, but isn't that when greed manifests itself?  During "face to face conflict?"  Any kid knows that a picture can't steal their candy back, so why not share?  They'll most likely get the bulk of candy in the end, and meanwhile, can be praised for their generosity!  The only kids who didn't share--those greedy little toddlers--are still working out whether or not a picture actually could demand his fair share, and so exhibited selfishness.

Although this doesn't prove much, it does prove that these scientists think kids are dumb.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Word on Words

I was talking with a Christian yesterday who doesn't have a problem with a lot of the feminist accommodations that we've made in our language such as "mailperson" or "flight attendant" (instead of "stewardess").  She insists that since our society has changed enough so that those jobs are no longer gender specific, we should modify our language to speak accurately.

This bothered me, but it wasn't until that moment that I could put together my reasons.  The biggest reason not to change, I later realized, is that we want a culture that is shaped by the Word, not the other way around.  It seems akin to those who would like a "living" Constitution for our country.  The Constitution has the law for our land, and we need to make changes to accommodate it, not the other way around.  A "living" Constitution (i.e., one that always means what we'd like it to mean), is really not living, but dead, because the actual words are meaningless.  

It's the same way with our language.  If we want a society based on The Word, then we need to respect our words, and not change them with every whim of fashion.  Of course, this doesn't mean that every female mail carrier needs to quit her job, but it does mean having an open mind to the meaning of the word "mailman."  Genesis 1:27 says, "And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."  "Man" (or in Hebrew, "Adam") encompasses both male and female.  We are one mankind.  A female mail carrier is no less a mailman than a male mail carrier.  

And I really just wrote this for the opportunity to use the phrase, "male mail carrier!"

In Case You Were Wondering

where "Lady Sybil" came from, check this out.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What We Really Worship

This is a quote from Gail Pellerin, the Santa Cruz County Recorder, in Santa Cruz county's Mid-County Post from an article entitled, "Same-Sex Marriage Surge Boosts Santa Cruz County's Revenues,"

'The boost in revenues has definitely helped our county's budget,' Pellerin said. 'It is hard to turn your back on revenue.'

Pellerin has also seen the celebratory mood prompt people to spend. 'Couples are out buying rings and flowers and going out to dinner. This law came at a perfect time.'

It seems like we can't say no to gay marriage when it boosts the economy!  Even Hallmark has gotten in on the action.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Funniest Sign Ever

Hey, that's what my husband is getting is Master's degree in!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I'm Ready to go Camping Now!

My favorite type of "fun" books to read are those dealing with outdoor expeditions. My particular favorites are those dealing with exploration in the arctic and the challenges of the cold and ice. I'm not sure where this enjoyment came from, but maybe it's the Norwegian genes of my ancestors coming out in some way.

I recently finished a really great book called "In the Land of White Death" by a Russian named Albanov. He is the navigator of a hunting ship that gets stuck in the ice north of Russia. His foolish captain thinks that after a year they will thaw out and get home. That year goes by and they're still stuck, and the captain decides to wait another year. Albanov, the navigator, knows that they are heading farther north, not south to warmer waters, and asks to be relieved of his duties and sets out across the ice with several companions in search of land. Out of a party of 10, only he and one other sailor survive. No one ever hears of those left on the ship again.

The best part of this book is Albanov's faithfulness. He absolutely knows that God has promised him that he will survive his ordeal. Every time their situation looks totally grim, with no help in sight, they wake up the next morning and shoot a polar bear, or some other miraculous provision shows up. The story that takes the cake, though, is when they're setting out across an icy channel between two islands. The island they are making for has cabins and food supplies, but halfway across the channel they get caught in a hurricane! They somehow paddle to an iceberg and drag their kayak on top. Him and his companion sailor spend the night huddled up against hurricane-force winds. About 7 hours later they wake up to the sound of, "CRACK!" and they are soaking wet! The iceberg has split in two and their heavy clothes are quickly dragging them to the bottom of the Arctic Ocean (remember, there's still a hurricane going on)! They wriggle out of their clothes and swim to the surface, only to realize that there's no way for them to reach their kayak, still up on the top part of the iceberg. Albanov thinks to himself, "What now?" And prays to God that He will remember His promise. Immediately the iceberg breaks open again and his kayak slides down right in front of him! Him and the other sailor climb on board with their wet clothes, and make for the island they just came from. They are still in a hurricane and it takes them 6 hours to reach land where they promptly burn everything they can spare for a fire and jump around all night long to stay alive!

This book is one in the Modern Library of Exploration series, and I would love to have all those books! Some of theme are out of print, including "The Voyage of Saint Brendan." This is another great one by explorer Tim Severin. He describes the medieval tale of Saint Brendan the voyager, a 5th century Irish monk who travels across the ocean. Severin believes that Brendan made it to North America and back, and decides to re-trace his trail to prove that it was possible. Severin makes fun of modern historians who scoff at these "mythological" tales and he has a genuine respect for medieval scholarship and technology. He makes and sails a leather boat with a team of sailors, who travel from Ireland, to the Faroe Islands, to Iceland, Greenland, and finally America.

All this exploration is great to prepare for camping!

Friday, August 8, 2008

I Guess I Just Don't Have a Sweet Tooth...

I have to start this out by saying that I absolutely love where I live. I love Santa Cruz, and northern California in general. I know there are some very special people out there who love southern California, and they have been granted a special dispensation to enjoy heat, crowds, and freeways. God bless you and your labors! So I say this out of love for my own place and not a criticism towards anyone else's love of their place (which is a good and honorable love).

That being said, after spending a season down in the southland, I think experiencing L.A. is like eating too much sugar. In the beginning it's exciting and you can't get enough of it! Then your enthusiasm begins to wane, but for some reason you can't stop yourself from eating. Then you begin to get sick to your stomach, and can't even look at the stuff.

There. I love all my southern California friends and family, but I'm afraid I just don't have a sweet tooth.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I Love Santa Cruz!

I get to go home tomorrow.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Mad Scientist

I've been having fun reading some more books in geology that I haven't for a while.  Often, the good thing about being involved in something, then taking a long break, and then looking back on it, is that it gives you a better perspective of things.

The book I'm reading right now is Simon Winchester's The Crack at the Edge of the World.  It's a book about earthquakes and especially the 1906 San Francisco one.  It's fun to read again about geology and be familiar with his terms, but his attitude toward the science frustrates me.  It's kind of the same old thing; he seems so sure of himself on issues that are utterly unexperimental--such as prehistoric geology, the evolution of the earth's crust, and so on.  He has an extremely arrogant attitude towards anyone who would disagree with him, and calls the 18th century "less sophisticated" because they believed God had something to do with earthquakes.

In talking with my husband about it I realized that there are two types of scientists; essentially I would call them good scientists and bad scientists, but there's probably a better term than that.  Good scientists stay within the limits of science.  They make only simple inferences from their experiments and don't even attempt any universal theories of everything that's totally unknowable.  The bad scientists are those who take the most theoretical parts of science as obvious fact and begin to philosophize upon the nature of the universe and our very own souls as a result of it.  The good scientists may not believe in a Creator God, but at least they have the humility to understand the place of science.  The bad scientists have already gone on to replace the Creator God with themselves!

I thought of an analogy to describe this.  Looking at nature is like an audience watching a magician do a magic trick.  Flowers and food appear!  Rain appears!  The sun keeps us warm!  God, of course, is the magician.  Good scientists are those whose first thought is, "Wow!  I wonder how he does that!"  and immediately begin to investigate into the trick with their own experiments.  The bad scientists are those who sit back in their chair and arrogantly pronounce, "Oh, that's easy.  I'm sure it's done with some trap doors, or special smoke, or something like that.  It's not that amazing."

Eventually, this "bad" way of thinking about science leads us straight back to paganism.  The Greeks were very good at philosophizing about science.  They discovered many things, but ultimately lost out on the most practical areas of medicine and technology--just to name a few.  Their reason was based on what they knew, and they failed to explore any area that didn't conform to what they thought was reasonable.

And, as Chesterton noted, you'll never get anywhere in paganism, except back to Christianity!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

In Praise of Reality Television

In Neil Postman's book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, he believes that a medium's message should be appropriate to the medium.  One of his points about television is that the context of the medium means that it can only propogate trite messages.  Hence, the best television is bad television.

I'm beginning to see how right this is.  We don't have TV at home, but while we're away in the summer we watch quite a bit of it (which makes us more grateful that we don't have it at home).  I have a natural inclination towards TLC's A Baby Story or What Not To Wear; I assumed it's just because I'm a woman who's had babies and wears clothes.  Still, I notice that the shows that I get the biggest kick out of are the dumbest.  My husband and I saw advertised something called "I Survived a Japanese Game Show."  It looked absolutely ridiculous--and I laughed out loud every time the ad for it came on!  It showed something about people jumping off these giant platforms into a lake that had huge, blow-up structures in it.  The people kept falling flat on their face.  Every time they hit I busted up like an idiot (maybe I just don't get out much)!

I also find that I love shows like American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance for the same reason.  I love it when ordinary people who have no stage presence end up on national television.  They always have really sweaty armpits, or spit when they talk, or turn around in front of the camera.  Maybe I'm a dweeb, but I live for those moments!

I saw an example of the opposite problem just yesterday when my boys were watching cartoons.  I remember cartoons as mindless entertainment--Coyote falling off the cliff for the umpteenth time--but every kids' cartoon that they watch starts out with a message for parents on what educational or social skills the cartoon helps preschoolers develop.  I also grew up with Sesame Street and Square One and loved them, so there are some aspects of educational television that I liked as a kid, but I think it's gotten totally out of control.  The worst example I saw--and my total apologies out there to any of my friends who love this show, please forgive me--was something called "Lou & Lou's Safety Patrol."  The story consisted of two kids (who always walked around carrying water bottles and wore bike helmets) who were helping their mom make an emergency preparedness kit.  I couldn't handle it anymore!  I jumped to the remote and found Tom & Jerry on Cartoon Network.  Aahhhh....mindless television....(and the boys thought it was hilarious).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Only Children are Alive and Kicking

I like science.  I was raised in a family that liked science.  I studied science in college and got a degree in science.  I taught science.  But everything is not scientific.

Science studies things that are observable and reproduceable.  Science does a great job of studying the rotation of earth, or the structure of crystals, or the systems of the body, and can be used to do marvelous things when they are applied correctly, but not everything falls into this category.

I begin to whince when I see a scientific mode of thought applied to things that are utterly unscientific--such as history, or theology.  These are wonderful things to study, but they are most certainly not scientific.  When scientific thinking is applied to history you get such monstrosities as paleo-lithic man or prehistoric studies.  Call these things what they are--stories, art, inventions--but, please don't call them scientific.  There is nothing reasonable about the story of mankind.  If men's behavior made sense, then they would no longer be men!

When scientific thinking is applied to theology you get a glorification of rationalization and proof-texting.  Let religion be anything, but please don't let it be reasonable!  Religion would cease to be if it was transformed into something reasonable!  Why should I sing songs?  Why should I bow the knee when I pray?  Why should I sit still for 45 minutes and listen to a man talk early on a Sunday morning?  Why should I give to those less fortunate?  Why should I hope for something that I've never seen?  None of these questions has a rational answer, yet all of them are central to religion!  If God bowed the knee to our reason and gave up His will to conform to our standards He would no longer be God.  Thankfully, we serve an super-rational God, one that forgives sinners, one that has mercy on the wicked, one that pardons the very real transgressions that we commit.

Inevitably, our theology comes out our fingertips.  What we believe about God will influence the way that we act toward others.  If we believe in an ivory-towered God, one far above us, who enjoys sitting and rationalizing, those are the standards that we will impose upon others.  You may not ascend the high tower until you too can discriminate the intracacies of pre-lapserianism!  (Did I even spell that write)?  We will disdain those who popularize religious traditions and make them accessible to the masses--by the way, who invited them anyhow?  

If we believe in a kind God, who loves the humans that He has created, we will also love humans--every single kind.  How do children fall in love with religion; by reading the Book of Romans (as well as Calvin's commentary on it), or by re-enacting David slaying Goliath?

This insinuation that only the strong should lead gets me thinking that we're falling back to paganism.  Let me end with, yes, one more quote from Chesterton: "And all aversions to ordinary humanity have this general character.  They are not aversions to its feebleness (as is pretended), but to its energy.  The misanthropes pretend that they despise humanity for its weakness.  As a matter of fact, they hate it for its strength." (from Heretics).  Popular religion is a child-like faith, it is alive, growing, and moving.

Why I Love Chesterton: Part 2

"But if we do revive and pursue the pagan ideal of a simple and rational self-completion we shall end--where Paganism ended.  I do not mean that we shall end in destruction.  I mean that we shall end in Christianity."
--Heretics by G.K. Chesterton

Why I Love Chesterton: Part 1

"There is only one thing in the modern world that has been face to face with Paganism; there is only one thing in the modern world which in that sense knows anything about Paganism: and that is Christianity.  That fact is really the weak point in the whole of that hedonistic neo-Paganism of which I have spoken.  All that genuinely remains of the ancient hymns of the ancient dances of Europe, all that has honestly come to us from the festivals of Phoebus or Pan, is to be found in the festivals of the Christian Church.  If anyone wants to hold the end of a chain which really goes back to the heathen mysteries, he had better take hold of a festoon of flowers at Easter or a string of sausages at Christmas.  Everything else in the modern world is of Christian origin, even everything that seems most anti-Christian.  The French Revolution is of Christian origin.  The newspaper is of Christian origin.  The anarchists are of Christian origin.  Physical science is of Christian origin.  The attack on Christianity is of Christian origin.  There is one thing, and one thing only, in existence at the present day which can in any sense accurately be said to be of pagan origin, and that is Christianity."
--Heretics by G.K. Chesterton 

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Because I Would Love to See Chesterton Try to Fit Through a Metal Detector

I love airports. Or, maybe I should say, I'm learning to love airports. So this is our epic struggle to return to the Left Coast of America:

We showed up at the airport in New York City just to have the power go out while we were waiting in line to check in. All of modern society ground to a halt while we stood around, picking our noses, waiting for the grand masters of electricity to rise the slumbering energy giant back onto his feet. By the time the power went back on all of those poor souls whose planes were about to pull away from the gate needed to be rushed to the front of the line, so still we waited, and played the alphabet game. Meanwhile, the lights kept flickering on and off, causing the entire populous to shriek and moan in terror each time it did so.

By the time we made it to the front of the line we were told that our plane had been delayed so much that we had already missed our connection in Chicago, and that they were going to try some way to get us to California--at least somewhere in California because everything's pretty close together, right?--by tonight, or really early tomorrow. So the best chance we had was to fly to Washington D.C. and then fly into LA, landing just after midnight. We had actually started our journey at Orange County airport, so this would be a slight detour. But everything's pretty close together, right?

So we proceeded to strip search through security, then spend $15 on a salad to share for a family of four for dinner--we had to pay 59 cents extra for the salad dressing. We caught our plane with no trouble, and thankfully arrived in Washington D.C. at the same gate we would be leaving on, and within easy walking distance to beer.

Our connecting flight went smoothly and we landed at LAX just after midnight. We got our bags by 12:30 or so and waited for our ride. Then we quickly discovered that our ride assumed that we were still flying into Orange County, and was at the wrong airport. Once that problem had been remedied we were picked up around 1:30 am (remember we're travelling with a 3-year-old and a 2-year-old), and cozied up in bed by 2:00 am. We had gotten up that morning at 7:00 am New York time which meant that we had been up for 22 hours straight.

Now, in case you can't tell, this is why I love airports. I strongly recommend to anyone getting ready to fly that they read large portions of G.K. Chesterton before they do so. There is no one who can get you laughing and loving human nature like he does. I love the computer-automated check-ins, I love the fancy television screens with rotating advertising, I love that they strip-search my 3-year-old for terrorist weapons, I love that with all the fancy show and expensive technology nobody can change human nature. When the power goes out people still scream. When people have to wait in line they whine and moan, and try to cut. When people are told to form a straight line, they push and shove.

I love airports. And I'm not being sarcastic. Well, not completely sarcastic.

The Right Coast

Our family recently returned from a trip to the East Coast and New England, and it was absolutely beautiful! One of the highlights was staying at an inn in Vermont with the oldest working brewery in the country--and that was some good beer!

On this trip we visited parts of New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. However, seeing the beauty of these regions is coupled with a grief of knowing how poor the church is doing in these places. My mother-in-law lives in Hudson, NY, which was once known as the "city of steeples" because of so many beautiful church steeples in the town. Now nearly all of those churches are abandoned, empty, and for sale; that is, if they haven't already been turned into dance halls or luxury homes for wealthy weekenders.

We live in a relatively youthful community surrounded by people close to our age. Because of this, I've realized more how much wisdom can be gleaned by spending time with older people. New England reminds me of an older person who is dying unhappy, but is ready to share the wisdom that a long life gives. I love the culture created by the Puritans, and in many ways it's what we would like to do--grow a self-consciously Christian culture. Clearly, what the Puritans left behind was long-lasting; much of the beauty remains 350 years after they started it! It's clear that their efforts were blessed, but the more difficult question remains, how do we guard the faithfulness of our children so that we know our culture is building for eternity, not just the next few hundred years?

It reminds me of a quote I once read, even though I don't remember the quote. It was from a liberal woman pastor endorsing her church's participation in Native American rituals. What I do remember was the there was a notation that she was the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Jonathan Edwards. Lord give me grace and have mercy on my children! (and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren...)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Better a Burger with God than a Great Feast Without

So my husband has two sides in his family. One side eats fast food, watches lots of TV, and drives gas guzzling cars miles and miles on the freeway. In case you can't tell, they also vote Republican and go to church.

The other side of the family only eats organic, free-range, biosustainable agriculture from small farm co-ops. They only watch low-budget foreign movies at the indie theaters, and although they have yet to buy a Prius, have only recently even bought a car. In case you can't tell, they also vote Democrat and never attend church. Believe it or not, these two sides were once married to one another.

We have the blessed position of spending time with both families. Our boys get to pick fresh blueberries from the home-grown, organic crop of one side of the family and get to be taken to McDonald's by the other side. When we begin to bristle at one more order of french fries Grandpa orders for the kids, we remember that they'll be spending eternity with Grandpa. When we start to enjoy too much the delicious wine and organic, gourmet fare on the other side, we remember that we are at Nebuchadnezzer's table. My husband showed me gratitude for the food on both tables, which has taught me discernment and helps me see where my true loyalties lie.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Girard has a Quarter Pounder with Cheese

A recent series that Doug Wilson has begun on his blog site has got me thinking. Sometimes I think about commenting on his site, but especially under this topic, the writing has gotten a bit fierce and keeps me at bay, doing my own thing. This would be his new "Creation and Food" theme, which so far I've really enjoyed. This most recent post, "Making the Spoon Taste Good" reminded me of something else I've noticed in modern (and postmodern) culture.

It's amazing to see the reaction among Christians when someone insists that all food is to be received with thanksgiving. This would seem to be an obvious statement, and one clearly supported by Scripture, but the argument has instantly gone to the question of "What is food?" Doug quotes I Timothy 4:1-3 and equates a refusal to be thankful for sex (and the resulting promiscuity) to a refusal to be thankful for food. Our culture is extremely schizophrenic when it comes to God's good gifts, and food is no exception.

Our culture is either emaciated or obese. It is temperance or drunkard. It is promiscuous or a prude. We worship our children or murder them. We have lost all sense of steering in the waters of discernment. Why does our culture look like this?

Rene Girard does a great job in his book, The Scapegoat showing how pagan cultures deified those that they persecuted. Some horrible plague would strike the city and the first to be blamed would be the outcast, the minority, the deformed, or the poor. That person's blood would be required to rid the city of the plague; transforming the outcast into the hero. One such example of this would be Romulus who founded the city of Rome. He was murdered by his own people, and then honored as a god for his unwilling sacrifice. "Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them" Luke 11:47.

This was paganism and this is what our culture embraces now. We don't thank God for His gifts, and therefore we don't know what to do with them. God gives us food and we shun it in our aestheticism. We then feel guilty, and in our sentimentalism we overindulge. This can be seen in each and every gift that we refuse to be thankful for. We hate the fruit of the womb and so we kill our babies, but then our guilt leads us to a sentimental attachment to everyone else's children. Conservative Christians shun most of these obvious sins, but we still see the need to capitulate to our culture, and so we do it with the less obvious--like food. God's gift becomes the Scapegoat and we become the persecutor.

This was the foundation for all pagan societies and our Lord came to overturn them. He came as the willing sacrifice who really had done no wrong. He was the archtypical Scapegoat, taking on the sins of many, but overturning the desires of His persecutors by triumphing over them.

Repentence and gratitude for all God's gifts--without exception--is the only rudder to steer us through discernment and away from destruction.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

ATTENTION: Guilt-ridden Consumers!

Are you feeling guilty for driving your Hummer?  Does it gnaw at your conscience when you commute an hour to work each day?  Do you wish you could continue to enjoy your consumerist lifestyle and still feel good about your greenhouse gas emissions?

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We are a young family with two young children.  We live a simple life, save money, and recycle.  We are also on a single income, so there are minimal commuter costs--there are some days when we don't drive our cars at all!  In fact, our life is so simple that our carbon footprint is only 1/3 of the average American family with four children.

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Celebrate yourself and go for a drive!

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Theology of Hunting

Showing my kids the movie Bambi yesterday, for the first time, I found myself trying to explain why people hunt.  To make everything clear, I am from a very pro-hunting family, and have hunted myself.  I hope that both my boys grow up to do so also.

I didn't want my boys to get the wrong idea about the hunters in the movie, so I explained that only really bad hunters would kill a Mama Deer who had a baby.  Good hunters only kill Papa Deer or old mamas who don't have babies.

That seemed to do it for them, but I was struck by something else.  When the hunters start approaching the forest all of the animals start freaking out; screaming, running, and hiding.  Realistically, that happens when humans go into the woods anyway, so why did God make it that way?  Hunting wouldn't be part of the original creation--man wasn't commanded to eat meat until after Noah--so is it good, or bad?

I realized that the way the animals behave toward humans is exactly the way that Adam behaved toward God after he had sinned.  He heard God approaching in the garden and he ran and hid, afraid of God's judgment.  Even in a fallen world, man still has dominion over creation and creation has sinned.  When the fuzzy little forest creatures hear their lord coming, they run and hide, just like we did.

I also got to thinking about God's sovereignty, even with animals.  God rightly judged Adam for something he really did wrong.  God still rightly judges humans for their wrong-doing.  So as those who have dominion over creation, does God use man's judgment to judge His animals?  Some fun thoughts could be had along this thread...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bible Stories

I was raised in a Christian home and taught all the basic stories, but now having to teach them to my kids I realize that I'm really falling in love with them!

We have these great kids' Bible CDs by a pastor named Jamie Soles who puts Bible stories together in a marvelous way.  Both my husband and I are nearly brought to tears listening to his lyrics and how he connects his theology and stories.  The kids love it too and are always asking me to tell them more about the stories he sings.  He sings a great majority of his songs from the Old Testament and he's not afraid to put anything to music--the circumcision song is one of Leif's favorites.

Thinking about Bible stories really helps me see my own life as a story--and everyone's life as one.  God is the great Author and the Bible shows His book of characters that get repeated everywhere you look.  It helps me be more aware when I'm being an Ahab: "Not the Lord's prophet! He only prophesies bad things about me, never good ones." Or a Peter: "Lord you will never wash my feet!" Or a Sarah who laughed when she heard God's promises.  It's also fun when you see the same things going on in others.  The only way to deal with an Ahab is with a Michaiah.  Peter needs a sharp rebuke.  Sarah needs to be laughed at herself.

I find myself praying that my boys will grow with the same understanding of God's stories and see them played out in their own lives.  I want them to identify with the heroic characters and imitate their actions.  Their favorite story is already David and Goliath and Leif often asks me if he can kill giants too when he finds them.

Jamie Soles also has a great song where he sings through Biblical genealogies using the ABCs.  The chorus of the song is Jesus saying, "These are they that speak of me."  We have all these variations of men because they are all saying something about The Man.  They may tell the truth about Him or lie about Him, but they can't help but come from Him.

I Think My House is Sinking...

That's it.  I really think it is.  We have bizarre depressions, nearly holes, that open up in our yard.  I discovered a new one yesterday while taking out the trash bins.  Wow.

Being a former geologist these things get me excited, so I went on-line trying to figure out what kind of rock underlies our house.  I couldn't find it, but here's my guess: we're sitting on a previously-unknown active fault line.  I could go into why, but, then I might sound silly.  Better leave it at my less-than-educated guess.

I'm not too worried.  Our house doesn't have a foundation, so there's nothing to crack.  Besides, the place is old enough to have survived both the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes, so we'll probably be OK...

Friday, May 23, 2008

A New Post

Well now that I know people read this thing, I feel obligated to keep it up.

In my ongoing effort to avoid cynicism I will share something positive, so I will turn to the least cynical part of my life, motherhood.
My sons have taken to collecting rocks from various places.  I'm not sure where they picked this up, except from their mother, the geologist.  They found a really neat one the other day, with a few highly weathered opals on the surface.  I thought it would be fun to break it open, so in a fit of nostalgia I pulled out the ol' rock hammer and pounded away at it on the back patio.  This, of course, caused great fascination on the part of my offspring.

After breaking it open I discovered two things:  (1) That there were some REALLY nice opals on the inside, and (2) you feel really good after successfully weilding a rock hammer.  I would strongly recommend it for difficult or trying times, or even when you're just annoyed.  Caution: Make sure you wear eye protection (sunglasses count).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Life, the Universe, and Everything (or gas prices, global warming, and environmentalism)

Why I am not an environmentalist.

First, a few qualifiers.  I believe that the whole earth is the Lord's and that He has charged mankind with the care of it.  I believe this means to be good stewards, use wisdom, and to be careful with our resources.  I do not have a problem with anyone doing any of those things. I do have a problem with environmentalism as a movement.

It starts today with gas prices.  Why are gas prices so high?  One of our biggest problems, I believe, is a dependence on oil from the Middle East.  We have billions and billions of tons of oil and natural gas sitting under our very own country and yet we allow OPEC to have a virtual monopoly on the oil industry.

How does this happen?  Let's take drilling on the North Slope of Alaska.  The oil companies gave one of my former geology professors a $1 million grant to hike through the North Slope and do geologic mapping.  He took those same maps back to our Structural Geology class for us to look for oil plumes.  There were lots of them and they were huge.  The oil is there.  

But we're not drilling.  Why is that?  The oil and gas industry is one of the most (if not THE most) highly subsidized industries in our country.  They do spend money on exploration and they find lots of oil, but they don't drill.  The reason is because our government gives them money not to.  This is just like subsidies for farmers not to grow corn, or wheat, or whatever.

The resulting scarcity of oil leads to high prices--a cost at the pump, say $2.99/gallon would likely be less than half of that without subsidies.  It also leads to a dependence on foreign oil, like from the Middle East.  When those regions are unstable (has the Middle East ever been stable?) it drives the prices even higher--then ludicrously high.  So why do we subsidize oil companies?  Aside from conspiracy theories, I'm not really sure.  The best guess I have is that it makes for rich oil companies.  And rich oil companies are usually stable oil companies.  

Now, to why I am not an environmentalist.  As a movement, environmentalists look to the problem of high gas prices and demand that our government invest more in alternative energy resources.  Remember, this is the same government that is already paying the oil companies NOT to drill for more oil!  Now they should finance both the oil industry and the alternative energy industry?  By the way, I am not against alternative energy.  People have been using windmills and waterwheels for centuries, so I'm not exactly sure that "alternative" is the best word to describe it.  These things are great and with a little money, some ingenuity, and some smarts some clever people could make a lot of money--and we will never run out of energy.

Why don't the environmentalists want to drill for more oil?  They want to finance the alternative energy industry because they believe in human-induced global warming.  Again, when I was a geology student, around 7 years ago, global climate change was talked about in most of our classes.  It is a difficult issue to discuss scientifically because of the scarcity of data.  We have only been taking global temperatures for the last 80 years or so.  This is hardly enough to show an overall trend.  The last several years (10-15) have been significantly warmer than usual, but most of my professors would refuse to say what the cause of that was.

I did attend a talk by a climatologist who had studied fossilized coral from the bottom of the oceans.  Coral grow at different rates based on the temperature of the oceans.  Therefore, you should be able to track global temperatures based on fossilized coral from around the world.  He had traced estimated global temperatures (these are indirectly arrived at) back to the 14th century, and the temperatures then showed a high spike in temperature, very similar to what we are experiencing now.  There were no cars in the 14th century.

Now, to our conclusion.  Our high gas prices are a multiple result of our dependence on foreign oil, gas subsidies, and a push for alternative fuels.  The easiest solution--build more refineries, drill for oil--is passed over by those who believe that this is our opportunity to start driving wind-propelled cars (which is not a bad idea, by the way).  However, to ask the government to finance the industry (which they already are), when they're also financing the oil and gas industry is a waste of their time and all of our money.


Always a Cynic

Well I knew once my secret blog life was discovered I would have to apologize.  Reading back over my entries I sound like an absolute cynic!  Lest any of my friends be offended, I apologize.

I think that most of what I write comes off as weird unless you're part of the continual, ongoing conversations I have with myself in my head.  No one really gets to be a part of that, so if something sounds bizarre, please let me know.  One of my greatest fears is to be weird (of course, I just admitted to talking to myself).

Saturday, May 10, 2008

If You Only Knew Me, You Would Love Me

Today I was in the liquor store buying some beer.  I got behind a woman who was (of all things in a liquor store) buying a Coke.  She pointed out the small, portable shots that they sell at the register to the cashier and she began lecturing her for selling those.  She was upset that they were marketed toward the "youth" and when the cashier clearly didn't share her feelings, she began to plead that she knew people who were in drunk driving accidents (and that they had been the drunkard) who were never the same afterwards.  I felt sorry for the cashier and told her while I was buying my beer that people have been doing stupid things with alcohol for thousands of years and it wasn't up to her to make sure they were responsible.

Of course, afterwards, I got to thinking about what the self-righteous woman said.  She was really upset about the packaging of the alcohol, and not the fact of the alcohol itself (she did go in a liquor store of her own accord, to buy Coke when there's a grocery store next door).  I realized that her arguments were all the same ones that people use to accuse the fast food industry of making us fat--"I couldn't help myself!  They had such cool advertising!"

There is one type of person that makes their decisions based on who has the coolest packaging.  We call those people children.  My kids always want the cereal box with the most cartoon characters.  Of course, if those same boxes contained things like beer or cigarettes, I understand being a little concerned.  However, this woman was worried about ADULTS making bad decisions based on cool packaging.  If that really is your problem, you have a lot more to worry about than getting drunk.  You are an extremely immature person and a helpless pawn.

Her second plea, based on that you would be sensitive if you knew somebody, also seems ridiculous.  How many people are more sensitive to those they know well, especially those in their own family, than they are to strangers?  I've seen teenagers say horrible things to their parents that they would never say to someone they didn't know well.  I wished now (of course, after the fact) that I had addressed her and said something like, "Well you must not know those people very well, or else you would be a better judge of their character."  I'm supposed to pity someone who was the hopeless victim of cool advertising, bought a bunch of liquor shots, drunk them while driving, and then injured themself?  I don't think so.

Idols for Destruction

I was recounting to my son the other day the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal.  He especially likes the part where Elijah mocks the prophets as they cry out and cut themselves.  

I've been thinking a lot about modern idols, and not television or whatever, but actual, real idols.  I live in Santa Cruz so a lot of the neo-pagans or neo-Buddhists like setting up their little local deities in random spots.  What would happen if the Christians took them on and knocked over one of their little lawn decorations?

I happened to be out mountain biking today, and my ride brings me to the top of a hill where the whole Monterey Bay can be seen.  I was admiring the view and stretching my legs when I glanced down.  Some neo-pagan had set up a circle of stones with some sort of idol/altar thing in the middle.  I looked around, and then scuffed it up with my feet, knocking over the idol.  It was pretty whimpy as there were no worshippers to contend with, but, as always, I rehearsed in my mind what I might say or do if I met them.  Taking inspiration from Boniface, it would be something along the lines of "Jesus owns this hill!  He killed your idol! Repent!"

Friday, April 25, 2008

Nothing More Than Feelings...(Part 2)

So I've finished "Blue Like Jazz" and I think this is the most telling quote of the entire book:
"Believing in Jesus is something that you feel."

That pretty much sums up my major problem with the book.  He never treats the kingship of Jesus Christ as a fact, but something that you either do or don't feel.  If you feel it, then you're probably not a Christian.  If you feel it, then you are a Christian.  Obviously, he deals with major issues of doubt, as do most of the other Christians he knows.  He's always trying to drum up these feelings that are really very temporal things.  He places his entire eternal salvation on a feeling.

He had one other illustration that I really appreciated.  It accurately represents our culture today and why I couldn't identify with him, or with the fundamentalists that he left.  He said that Christians in our culture used to be part of the game, but now they're sitting on the sidelines.  He's upset at the fundamentalists who have gotten angry, taken their ball, and gone home.  He believes that we should sit "humbly" on the bench, waiting to be put back in (so who's the coach here?).  I disagree with both.  We should be asking ourselves why we were trying to play this game in the first place.  We should repent of even attempting this secular game with pagan coaches and obeyed our Lord instead.

One other note on his aversion to fundamentalists.  I did a bit of internet research on his church, Imago Dei in Portland, Oregon.  Their theology is very similar to our local emergent church, Vintage Faith.  It's surprisingly orthodox and faithful, with basically Baptistic theology.  In fact, most "fundamentalist" churches would have exactly the same theological statements.  What this rejection of fundamentalism really amounts to is disliking the un-hipness of fundamentalism.  They've taken the same theology, and then gotten tattoos and cuss.  It's fundamentalist theology that looks cool.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What is Emerging...Exactly? (Part 1?)

So after seeing how many friends and acquaitences rank the book "Blue Like Jazz" among their favorites I decided to give it a try.

The book is definitely easy to read, and interesting.  It also reinforces my opinion that the new "Emergent Church" really only relates well to people who were raised in the church and become disillusioned in some way.

The biggest plus, I would have to say, so far, is how he sees clearly problems that exist in the modern church.  I haven't read many of this solutions yet, but I'm not sure that I'll like them.

I think the most worrying thing is the Christianity he presents seems emasculated.  I can just imagine him saying everything he does while wearing a tight, pink shirt and jeans that he had to sew himself into (Emo-Style).  He's like a man who's trying to stay a man, all the while everything he thinks he's supposed to love is feminine.

Most clearly this can be seen in his evangelism.  He definitely goes after unbelievers with the gospel, even when he's not sure that he believes it.  Yet he always has a hard time "convincing" himself that he really believes this stuff.  He even says that he has a hard time not making it sound like believing in Santa Claus or the Easter bunny.  It's like you have to drum up this feeling of "belief" or "faith" that's really just an emotion.  When it's gone, you have doubt.

If Jesus is king, then it doesn't really matter what you believe about it, but you had better obey it!  I don't always "feel" like George W. Bush is my president, but what I feel about the matter doesn't really make any difference.  He is the president and if he exercised his power I would have to respond.

Christ functions in the same way.  He is King of kings and Lord of lords.  We don't have to drum up a feeling of "belief" in him, because He IS.  Our job is to submit ourselves, not work ourselves into a feverish emotion that will get us to evangelize.

An merely emotional savior is an emasculated savior.  He can plead and hope and wish, but in the end He can't really do anything.  He has to wait for His creation to convince themselves, emotionally, to believe in Him.  When their emotions fade, His authority disappears over their lives.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Church Leads the World...And They Both Fall Into a Ditch...

Most of the time you hear from Christian culture warriors that we need to work on taking back Hollywood (was it ever ours?).  We need to be in music and movies and all sorts of media to be a positive force in American culture.  The surprising thing, though, is that the church is everywhere in Hollywood.

Both Hollywood and Bel Air have some of the most faithful churches in all of the greater Los Angeles area.  First Presbyterian in Hollywood has been historically faithful (until very recently) and Bel Air Presbyterian is also a bastion of conservatism within the PCUSA.  Both of these churches are huge--having thousands of members and clearly millions of dollars in tithe money.  Bel Air Presbyterian alone has at least 4 different services between Saturday night and Sundays to accommodate all the worshippers.

We often hear about the popularity of bizarre cults among the Hollywood elite, like Scientology or Kabbalism, but many of the most popular stars in music and the movies come straight from the church.  Jessica and Ashlee Simpson's father was a long-time pastor in a Southern Baptist church before he pushed his daughters into show business.  Lindsey Lohan's father is one of the leaders of Teen Challenge, a Christian drug and alcohol rehabilitation ministry.  And the biggest bomb, Britney Spears, is from a Baptist family in Louisiana.  She regularly attends Bel Air Presbyterian and her mother was recently offered a contract with the Christian publishing company, Thomas Nelson, to write a book on parenting!

Do we really need to treat Hollywood like a foreign land, full of pagans?  Will that help us "take it over?"  The land is ours.  God gave it to us and He is there.  The only Christian work in Hollywood that would be blessed is one clothed in humility and repentance, starting in the churches that we already have, the pastors we already have, and the members we already have.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Planets and Art

Some more things on the art subject....

I recently "read" (more like "skimmed") Michael Ward's book called Planet Narnia.  In it he argues that Lewis used each of the 7 medieval planets as inspiration for each of the books in the Narnia series.  He says that Lewis did this because he believed that each of the mythological characterizations for the planets represented an aspect of God's character.

If we took this standard idea than we would have 7 major characteristics of God (well, 6 really because the Moon is the border between the sinful world and the unfallen worlds), and if these followed the planets we would have:
Sun = glory, majesty
Mercury = messenger of the Word
Venus = beauty, creativity, life
Moon = separation from God
Mars = War
Jupiter = joy, cheerfulness (joviality)
Saturn = God of Ages/Time, Ancient of Days

It seems as though the goal of any good art project would be to accurately reflect God's character in any of these individually or combined.  All of the stories in the Bible also reflect these characteristics, so that if you were to say, write a story that imitated the life of King David (with different characters and situations, of course), that could potentially be a great story.

This seems to open up creativity in a way that doesn't stifle the idea of taking one or two of God's characteristics and setting them up as supreme.

Don't Know Much About...

Art.  But that won't stop me from saying something about it anyway.

It seems as though a lot of evangelicals are thinking more about art.  This is probably mostly due to the great work of Francis Schaeffer, and others who took up his mantle in dealing with culture.  It also seems as though a lot of evangelicals, especially the highly-learned, educated, and respectable ones, have come to a conclusion about Christian art that it should all reflect a particular aspect of God's character.  I have heard them advocate that all art should reflect God's creation week, since our human creation is a reflection of God's creative ability.  I have also heard that all art should reflect a Trinitarian inter-relationship, so all good art is relational art, or dealing with issues between people.

What seems to flow from these particular opinions is more of a stifling of creative ability then an outpouring of such.  I can think of many stories that follow the theme of the creation week (rising action, climax, falling action), but aren't very edifying or uplifting stories.  I can think of lots of movies about relationships between people (scads of them, in fact) that lie more than tell the truth about human character.

What seems to be the best dividing line between "good" stories/art and "bad" is the story that it tells.  The best stories present true reality.  How do we know what that is?  It is defined in the pages of the Bible, which would ultimately be a reflection of all of God's character.  How do we know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are?  We should look to the pages of Scripture and let that define it for us.  

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I've been thinking a lot about our commands to thankfulness.  Romans 1 seems to be clear that a lack of gratitude opens the door to all sorts of heinous sin.  Saying "Thank you" to God for even the most difficult of providences is the only way that we can deal with those trials.

Giving thanks is really the ultimate way of humbling yourself.  Have you ever met the type of person who describes all the wonderful things you did for them, but somehow refuses to say the words, "Thank you"?  When you thank someone you really are humbling yourself, realizing that you are in debt to that person.  When you thank God you realize that all things ultimately come from Him.  He is a good God and will give you good things, if you are His child.

There are many "good," moral people in the world who aren't religious at all.  There are many religious people who lead miserable lives.  What's the difference?  Why is the "good" man damned without Christ?  He never says "Thank you" to the One that he owes his entire life.  That's frightening.

Chesterton on Eugenics

I love G.K. Chesterton.  Apart from his popery, that is.  

He has a great paper entitled "Eugenics and Other Evils" where he takes to task the new social Darwinists of his time and the initiation of England as a Eugenic State.  I'm not sure what year it was written, but it's before the World Wars.  He's quite insightful and sees where that mess is headed.  

One of my favorite descriptions is where he is describing what has occurred to our system of law.  All laws have been "flattened out" to cover nearly everything.  He says the problem with modern child abuse laws is that they have made Herod's act of the Slaughter of the Innocents on the same level as Mary and Joseph's act of leaving Jesus behind at the temple.  Reading today about the attempt (once again) to pass anti-spanking legislation in California, the point really made itself clear!

I haven't finished the article yet, but I can say more later... 

Terrorists and Asbestos

I recently watched a documentary showing conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11.  I'd heard a few of these before, but their most troubling explanation for the destruction of the World Trade Center was their insinuation that it was to save the government $1 billion in asbestos cleanup. 

I don't buy the explanation, however, the fact that something like this could even be suggested is troubling.  We once had some friends who were evicted from their home because their landlord found out that they had asbestos in their insulation.  They and their six children had to leave town with nowhere else to move to.

This is ridiculous!  Most of what is called asbestos by the EPA and NIST is not even so.  The majority of it is mineral fragments that don't do harm to anyone (and also aren't fire retardant like real asbestos--those Twin Towers sure burned)!  Even if it is asbestos it does nobody any harm to leave it in their insulation, packaged away.  Removing asbestos is now a multi-billion dollar a year industry!

This is also why I don't buy the over-arching governmental conspiracy surrounding 9/11.  There may be some small cover-ups, but nothing on the scale suggested by the documentaries.  Our government is just simply not competent enough to pull something like that off.