Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Desperately Seeking Substance (but usually settling for substitutes)
I was in the World Store the other day (this is a code name, but you know it’s real name), looking for more of something that seemed so necessary at the time. Of course I can no longer remember what it was. But anyway, I was greeted by one of their "mini-mercials", those little, canned infomercials they broadcast from the tv suspended from the ceiling. Its message was jauntily accompanied by the familiar Christmas advertising sound of sleigh bells. Sleigh bells!! Their sound had always and immediately resonated within me and set up that whimsical, homesick feeling of yearning for the “magic” of Christmas. I am not sure why, but maybe after a half century of being emotionally sucker-punched by that twinkly, tinsely “jingling, ring-ting tingling”, my brain pulled back on the reins and said, “Whoa!” Maybe I had reached some kind of tipping point, but all of a sudden, for me at least, Christmas had jumped the shark.
“When was the last time you ever heard real sleigh bells, or seen them attached to a real sleigh?” I asked myself. “When was the last time you actually rode over a snowy landscape in a real sleigh?” The dawn of my revelation was so bright that I began to feel feverish, and even though it was 82 degrees in the place and I was wearing my festive red plaid Christmas scarf, I continued to press myself with this line of questioning.
“In fact, when was the first time you ever experienced any of that, hmm?” I undid the red scarf and scratched my head, and neck, perplexed.
Looking around me at the other shoppers jockeying for position as they rammed their carts through the aisles choked with merchandise, I delivered, to myself, the interrogatory coup de gras. “What percentage of Americans alive today, you know, like these fine patrons of the World Store, have ever gone over the river and through the woods whilst hunkered down beneath a woolen blanket, admiring the back of that fine one horse who doesn’t need you to steer because he is, after all, a horse, and therefore knows the way to Grandmother’s house?” I personally couldn’t think of anybody, but then again, I don’t get out that much, what with the price of gas, or hay, for that matter. Yet, somehow, I bet for most of us, the mythical sleigh ride and other “Christmas magic” shenanigans registers a desire deep within our collective and individual psyches that is right up there with dying in your sleep and going straight to heaven.
Wow. I realized now that I and most likely the rest of my posse (a.k.a Western Civilization) have been quite willingly conditioned by the Pavlovs of Madison Avenue to a) get in the “Christmas spirit”, and b) listen to the music, watch the program, and buy the stuff whenever we hear a certain (as it turns out, rather meaningless) sound that evokes an experience that has not been real for a really long time. Yet the thought of it happening at one time to somebody draws us, and we even fantasize about buying the bells, whistles, sleigh and horse if we win the lottery some day. Why? What is so alluring?
Though I was standing between the stationery and the candy aisle and not on the road to Damascus when I received this revelation, nevertheless, something like scales fell from my eyes, and I began to notice other things that don’t add up unless you’re in the checkout line. For instance, a lady in a fake fur jacket was carefully handling and choosing plastic “glassware” in colors seemingly inspired by the rose window in Chartres cathedral; just like these jewel-toned goblets, I bet that the rose window also has a lot of lead in it, too.
Next, I passed by a vast array of aromatherapy products, candles, and redundant vanilla, cinnamon, pine and other fragranced air fresheners (because if you freshen the air in your house by opening a window, you might be a redneck), some sprayed, some to “plug in”, and some to burn. Along with the air fresheners that work by numbing the nerves inside the nose, you can buy some which automatically emit puffs of chemicals that mimic the smell of apple pie or cinnamon buns. These puffs will make your home smell as if yummy, homemade things are baking in the expensive stainless steel oven. When you are too tired from working all day to pay for the empty house and the fancy appliances, who can blame you for not cooking, let alone not baking? But the smell you must have, for it provides an olfactory hug and therefore, a link back to something primal. We might have forgotten what that is but we still know that everybody can use even a pseudo-hug, especially at Christmas.
Ah, Christmas. Yes, I was on my way to the Christmas Everything room. I think I might have been looking for yet another outdoor extension cord. Here I saw people buying artificial Christmas trees. I bet these people are also stocking up on pine scented oily plug-ins, I reasoned.
As I gazed upon the edgy, overheated, huddled masses and touchy throngs my spiritual eyes were again opened to see them for what they were. Northerners. Transplanted ones like me. Who else would be in here buying up all forms of fake snow? From the kind you spray on your wreath, to the tiny snow globes, the new and increasingly large blow-up snow globes for the lawn, the snow-covered Thomas Kinkaid prints, Thomas Kinkaid snow-covered ceramic churches, snow-laden Thomas Kinkaid ceramic Christmas trees, to snow-white snow drapes to put under your Thomas Kinkaid snow-covered stuff, oh, my yes, they’re Yankees!
It is just like them to come down here to get away from the harsh weather, call the relatives they left behind and tease them with today’s forecast, and then come unglued each December when they realize that Bing Crosby is, from his grave, taunting them by wishing them a you-know-what in that song. So, for four to six weeks of every year they will stage a grand snow re-enactment. Yes, like Lot ’s wife, they make the fatal mistake of looking back at what they escaped from, but unlike her, they are mercifully not turned into pillars of salt but instead become fake snowmen.
Well, since the extension cords were sold out, I shook my head at my fellow Yanks, bought a Snowman nightlight and left the Christmas Everything room, but not before noticing the three Wise Men lawn figures. We Three Kings from Orient Are. And how!!! Almost everything the World Store sells from Orient Are, or Is. Passing the toy section, I just sighed. As concerns the toys, what can I say? They definitely Orient Are, and I’ve already brought up the lead thing.
A word, though, to our trading partners across the sea, to those other countries who typically take the stance of: Orders from World Store for infinite amounts of Christmas kitsch, good; Christian religion, bad. (The cosmic irony, priceless).
You cannot handle all this hall decking décor, gay apparel and the plastic blow-globe Baby Jesus Himself, without being changed and influenced by Western Culture and Christianity. For all I know, Billy Graham visited the Pope, whereupon they sat around and hatched this back-door evangelism plot, and then became the brokers of business deals between East and West. Governments that ban the bible are now allowing symbols of the Christian faith to be manufactured on a daily basis by their citizenry. I contend that much power resides in these tawdry, seemingly worthless symbols. They might be as lint separated from a garment, but perhaps it is the white, fleecy garment of Paradise . Does something in us recognize these linty reminders of the place where we were once fully loved, but left to become human? Granted that now, in the 21st. century, even our symbols have cheap substitutes, but if you hold onto them they still resonate with magic, and beyond magic, perfection itself. Because our lives have gotten so out of hand and far from true Home, we desperately grasp at as much Christmas as we can afford, and then some. Baked goods and the smell of cinnamon makes you dream of home sweet home, even if your childhood was, or your present home life is, the stuff of nightmares. There is promise in the fake snow and even if the cookies are counterfeit, they comfort us while keeping us yearning for the real.
Why? Because the white snow reminds us of the blank slate of childhood innocence, and the purity of those heroic souls who have fought to stay on the path of virtue, and despite life’s temptations and hardships, have pretty much managed to do the right thing. Snow covers up Earth’s imperfections, just as love covers a multitude of sins. It muffles sounds and calms the busy world. We long for it to usher in a time for us where every night is a silent night because we are, within and without, at peace. Maybe then we can finally let down our guard and sleep in blessed safety.
The Christmas landscape we contemplate is not littered with heartbreak, violence and restlessness. It’s red and green speak to us of sacrificial and everlasting love which we so honestly desire to have and to give to others. This magical land is inhabited by angels, our guardians and the messengers from heaven, and by hapless, underdog shepherds who, despite their low social standing, actually understood what was going on while the leaders and celebrities of their day were probably passed out, oblivious, in their fine chambers.
And yes, along with the angels and shepherds, we love those three Eastern gentlemen, the majestic outsiders, who were indeed wise enough to see beyond the boundaries of cultural bias, and followed the star’s light so they might find the Light of the World, a King much greater than themselves. They longed to bask in that light. We all do, though we may call it by different names. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light”, and that’s why every year, as the world grows darker and darker, you’ll see more and more Christmas lights piercing the blackness of city and suburbia alike.
The presents brought by the Wise Men serve as the inspiration of our modern day gift giving. Though “Santa” is now the one bearing gifts, please don’t tell me that he is just the symbolic embodiment of crass commercialization and greed. Every child and remnant of a child knows that he is the spirit of benevolence and merriment. His pack is filled with celebration, fond, doting parenthood, and the mysterious Good that sometimes falls out of the sky and into our undeserving arms. We are ashamed, we are amazed, but we keep looking up. That is called Hope. Hope is the starry backdrop of our revolving Christmas Drama.
So, know that the carols and the bells merely reflect the sound of Love, which sings as it knits together and sustains the universe. We have tasted a very small morsel of this Love when we eat the cookies and drink the eggnog together. Our families, when they are at their best, show us just the tiniest beginning of what it means to truly belong. Deep in our spirits we stubbornly and persistently know there is a place where all these virtues are held in perfection, so we continually reach out for it, even when it seems silly. We sense that someday, when we have ended the journey that took us over the river and through the woods, we will indeed go to Grandmother’s house, and boy, won’t it just be Heaven?
Sleigh bells ring. Are you listening?
Thursday, October 25, 2007
People are being led like sheep, to work more and more, to keep chasing material goods, and thereby enslaving themselves while their children suffer. Perhaps these natural disasters, and financial ones like the housing bust can somehow be turned into something good if they make people wake up to what is important and what is prudent.
Has anyone been to these psychiatric/therapy practices that work with children and adolescents? They are the most congested, busiest places on Earth.The misery is palpable. I had to visit one the other day for other reasons, and after surveying the overly-packed waiting room, I couldn't help but wonder how children have gotten so screwed up! For so many of them, their existence is punctuated by regular visits to psychiatrists for psychotropic medicine and therapists who are anything but therapeutic. The parents look frazzled and depressed. This is all so disgusting! How did this happen to us?
Sometimes I just want to go into the middle of the street and scream!! How dumb do people have to be to not know that a mother at home, a father who shepherds his family, kids who are disciplined but also allowed to run and play in the sunshine, and a family that honors God is the antidote to most of society's problems today??!!
I pray to God that the prices of these houses do come down so that young couples can afford to buy a house without having to sacrifice their family life. I really think that young adults are more ready to embrace a traditional lifestyle than most of the people in my age group, otherwise known as the nut jobs who currently run the world.
May God in His mercy, bring us back to sane living.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Flesh on the bones
You promise a bounty
great journeys and home
Though longitude set
Our latitude wide
Our courses we set
yet, ruled by the tide.
Float on into life
owning the world
then owned by the strife
life's insults be hurled.
Blinded by pain
yet wisdom can laugh
she elevates sorrow
then cuts it in half.
That other shoe
It will drop, be assured
laugh on while you can
and breathe the bright world.
One night I dreamed I was in a cave.
It was damp and smelled of wet stone.
I was just inside its opening, and outside, I saw
A cove and beach that was just before day.
I walked through the cave door and into early morning,
I could smell the ocean, hear the waves lapping
All very tranquil, all very serene.
No cars or jet noise or beach goers there.
Every cell in my body absorbed what I sensed
It was all such peace, then to the edge of my ear
a new sound came, not out of place, yet
quite surprising. Cloppety-clippity-clop, I turned
at the sound of a large horse pulling a wagon
down a gently sloping hill on a road I hadn't seen.
Being driven by a wide, muscled farm man.
He was smiling with suspenders and straw hat just right.
I looked down, and the road was cobblestone
Why was I new here, yet very much at home?
I followed this road which led from the beach
over a tiny bridge and into the town.
The town unfolded as Sun rose with dawn
Two young women in dresses homespun
shared pink looks, giggles suppressed
as two young men hovered round them like bees.
Well, I reasoned, I am not at the mall, as I noticed
girls' crisp, white caps, coiled hair, all demure.
The boys' broad fall pants and brown woolen jackets
And all around, the lack of buzz and modern sounds.
A non-electric world, but bright, face-to-face.
I wondered not where I was but when.
Then turning around, I was a child again, standing
in the house of my caregiver, my wizened old aunt.
She shooed me out the door, with knowing, twinkling
"Now walk carefully through those city streets: she said
"And have lots of fun at school", wink, wink, oh, yes
I see. But now, the streets are gritty, worn, traffic-dense.
I scamper down them, skipping along with other children now.
We turn a noisy corner to find we have stepped into a cave
damp with spring water, smelling of stone.
My child-heart, the portal, into the bright world.
Friday, September 28, 2007
A Tribute to the Fallen
We all moved into this neighborhood together, ten years ago. It was brand-new and each family was delighted to be in this new little neighborhood. Across the street from us lived a young woman, a single mom whose ex-husband had lots of money and had provided the lovely home for her and her 4 year old daughter. Our youngest child, a boy, was the same age as her daughter and soon the two children were playing together.
The mom was the woman all the other women were jealous of. She was young, pretty and had a gorgeous figure. She would ask our husbands to help her with any manner of domestic problems, from a broken garbage disposal to ticks on her dog. They seemed glad to comply, and although I was a little jealous I was happy to help her out. After all, my husband had been away a lot when he was in the Navy and I always appreciated any help I could get. Besides that, I liked this person because she was sweet and generous.
My neighbor was cheerful and friendly at first, but gradually things began to change. She was a sad person who became sadder and more fragile as time passed. I guess she had been abused as a child, or so the rumors fly. It was hard to see her husband go on to the next wife and have a child. She was easily rattled and became more and more anxious. She met a man who was not particularly good for her. She started drinking and her world became small. She would work a job for awhile and then get laid off. We suspected that she might be taking pills or other drugs, but she was a private person and didn't trust us enough to unburden herself to us that way. She often trembled when she spoke, and only occasionally, the spirit of the pretty girl would return for a moment or a day.
After our neighbor went to the hospital following a seizure, or so we were told, the daughter went to live with her dad full-time. Now the five-bedroom house with the inground pool was home only to a lonely, quaking leaf of a woman, who was scared to be alone and drank and medicated herself in order to sleep at night.
Ironically it was on the occasion of a rare overnight visit by her daughter that the pretty girl slipped away from the tenuous hold she had had on this life. On Wednesday morning, September 26, 2007, the fourteen year-old daughter was out on the front porch in her night clothes awaiting emergency vehicles and her father, whom she called when she couldn't wake her mom that morning. The ambulance came, and after awhile, the crew came outside and stood around the ambulance, waiting to be dismissed. The crew chief came outside and spoke to the husband. I saw him sort of lurch backward at hearing the news, then turn and walk away a few steps. The crew chief and the policeman followed him and talked to him some more. He was in his sleeping pants and a black tee shirt, a ballcap on his head. He was chain-smoking. He went to the side of the house and reacted quietly to the news. Then he was on the cellphone, crying and talking for the next half-hour.
We watched, like ghouls, when they wheeled her black-draped body out on the gurney. They wheeled her out of the always fastidious big white house, with its vinyl and roof and shutters in colors she had picked, through her garage past the shiny SUV that she always drove, and past the artificial flowers, now faded, that she had placed in her flower bed to try make it look pretty, in a no-maintenance sort of way. They placed her into the back of a plain, green van at exactly 10 a.m. as a full moon could still be seen in the sky above her house. That same full moon rose again that night, illuminating the still, empty house. My heart ached. Yesterday I noticed mourning doves assembled across the top of the roof.
We had all been right here around her, the whole time, wishing good things for her, but gossiping still. We tried to help her when we could, but we really did not help her in a way she needed to be helped. We were too polite to take a chance and be lovlingly confrontative. We were Christians who went about our lives the best we could, after all, giving money to missions work. Indeed.
They have done an autopsy to determine the cause of death. We will go to the wake tonight and will not ask. We don't expect to be told how she died and we don't need to know how she died. We know why. There is one thing that can kill you, but only if you lack the second thing. The one thing is a broken heart. The second is the will to fight for a life worth living.
My thought now is that all flower gardens need tending. Even artificial blooms cannot stand the direct barrage of sun and rain for too long before they fade and break. Maybe we can survive with a broken heart as long as we fight for life, but maybe we can only claim a life worth living if we notice the silent flowers at our feet more often, and though they cannot ask us we might try our best to tend to them and preserve their beauty.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Welcome Home to a Late Summer's Day
This is our home right now and I am trying to capture it in each season. Season's here in southern Virginia aren't as pronounced as in some areas of the country, so we try to make the most out of the subtleties. I have little pink roses and morning glories blooming right now. Here is the house and front yard from different angles.
We live one house from the end of the street. There is a small field at the end of the street which the farmer has planted with corn. Here is our view looking down the street from our house.
I'm sorry, but I just love cornfields! So here are two close-ups!
The view from our house looking up the other way. Note the lovely crape myrtles which line our street.
We are blessed this year to have grown some nice vegetables, and God sent us the gift of several canteloupes which no one seems to have remembered planting. Here is a couple of pics of recently picked bounty, along with a couple of curious cats. Yes, it is not right to let cats walk all over one's dining room table, but...
These photos were taken yesterday by my good buddy and sis-in-law, Sharon, who is visiting from New York. Thanks, Sharon!!!
Friday, January 26, 2007
Yes, its not exactly like those lovely winter photos I published previously, but it is ours and we get excited to see flurries and make the most of it by taking pictures and trying to catch a snowflake on our tongues!! These pictures of our house were dutifully taken by our son Kevin, age 13, who in turn had his picture taken by son Chris, 18.
What kinds of things can we do on cold winter's days? Cooking, baking, "computering" and reading are fun. I have other tasks, however, and these must be attended to, today. Mounds of paperwork from last year to be put in order and filed. Tax-related papers to be grouped and organized. Bathrooms to be attended to and laundry to be done and put away. The mundane things that keep life grounded, and for which I am very thankful. I am also thankful that our eldest son in back in the States, though he won't be able to come home until probably this summer. Here's to you, Bobby. We love you!
Thursday, January 25, 2007
For whatever reason, the feminist website I posted two articles on has decided to remove their entire forum. I am disappointed since I was hoping to at least get some kind of rebuttal. Have you heard the latest? Not only has Nancy Pelosi been hyping the part of her resume that talks about her being a mother and grandmother, but now Hillary is running for President "as a mother". Does anyone remember her disparaging the role of a stay-at-home wife and mother by saying she could have "stayed home and baked cookies, but....", but something like she chose to make her career her priority.
Of course both of these women are being lionized by the press for elevating the status of wife-hood and motherhood by abandoning their traditional roles. Conventional wisdom at its misguided best.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
THE TIME OF QUIET AND SOLITUDE
Winter has finally set in, the Christmas season is now a memory, and the new life of busy Spring sleeps, waiting in the womb of the earth. The wise person will now take the time to be quiet, to reflect on one's own life and life in general. Though some pursue a life of endless summer, I look forward to a time of cleansing cold, and eagerly guard my time of quiet and solitude. God has purposefully given us a rhythm and seasons to live by, and they all mean to keep us healthy and balanced, in body, mind, and spirit, if we will but receive them for the gifts they are.
When people's way of life was to till the earth, winter was the one season when their labor lessened a bit, and they had a chance to rest. This was a time for being with each other, for repairing things around the homestead, for enjoying the fruits of the previous harvest, and for weddings and visiting. There was finally ample time for handwork, for making furniture or for engaging in a hobby. Since there were no electronic diversions, a person would simply enjoy gazing at the beauty of a winter day, viewed safely from the window of one's little home. The children, so needed for their valuable help around the farm, probably cherished going to school a bit more than children today, for it meant leaving the back-breaking field work behind and having the time and opportunity to read and learn and enjoy their friends. Time would also permit the winter passtimes of sledding and, along with adults, ice skating.
Even now, even if we live in a city, winter tells us to slow down, to stay off the icy roads at night, to be home and warm and safe. The long nights seek to lull us into seeking our beds earlier, thereby conserving our own energy, as well as light and heat.
I am especially glad to be a wife and mother at home at this time of year. I finally have some time to think, to catch up on little projects and to plan a garden and perhaps a summer trip. I remember my sister-in-law talking about this one time. She found winter to be a more peaceful time, when motorcycles were put up and people were less likely to be out loitering around the streets at all hours. She loved the cold weather and the muffled sounds of a world covered in snow. I very much agree and like her, love to be inside when it is windy and stormy, listening to the sounds, and being thankful for the cozy nest the Lord has provided for us. My sister-in-law Helen lives in a small and very humble house, where she and my brother have raised six children. They live in an old city in upstate NY, so its not exactly like they live in what most of us would consider our dream location. Helen, however, has made their home into a cozy, tidy, "little colony of heaven", and their children have grown to be good, responsible people who love the Lord.
Just like at home, the pace has changed and slowed in the Lord's house as well. In liturgical churches, the year is divided into several different seasons, each having its own theme and color. In my church, we have just entered Ordinary Time, the time between the great Christmas feast and the preparatory time of Lent. Ordinary time, as my pastor said, is that time when we walk out our Christian faith, taking the lessons, strength and joys of the recent holidays and showing them forth in our everyday, ordinary lives. I think this is right and appropriate, and I thank God for Ordinary time, and for being an ordinary person, free to carry on my life's work and my Christian walk in obscurity. The liturgical color for Ordinary Time is green, symbolizing life, growth and hope. It reminds me that beneath the exterior white and gray of winter, there continues an interior life of ongoing growth in the Lord, who gives us a future and a hope.
Do you feel hopeful right now? Some pundits somewhere have designated January 22nd as the most depressing day of the year, owing to the Christmas letdown, the credit card bills, the weather and other factors. Perhaps the world thinks like that and perhaps not. Would you have thought of a day that the Lord has made as deserving to be designated the most depressing of the year? It wouldn't have occurred to me.
I'd say that January 22nd should be a day that we bask in the serenity of winter and in God's love for us and that we should reflect on what the Lord says in Isaiah 18:32: "And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;"
Friday, January 12, 2007
We had a glorious Christmastide this year, with dinner company several times throughout the period between Christmas Eve and the Epiphany. I just thought it would be nice to share a few pictures, courtesy of my "photographer" guest and friend since we were both nine years old, Rae Lee. At this particular gathering, she, her husband, son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren came for a Turkey dinner. Another guest, a young veteran of Iraq and my oldest son's friend, Jeremy, was also in town and able to join us. Too bad my oldest is himself in the Middle East at present, but we hope to see him back in the States soon. I hope you enjoy these. Below is the crowd at the December 30th gathering. What we usually do is set up all the food on my long counter and usually the stove top, then have everyone fill their plates and sit in the dining room (old folks), kitchen (young folks) with couches in the family used for the overflow, if any. I would love to have a room large enough for a table that could seat 20, but we have to make do with this arrangement. There were 13 of us at this meal. Christmas Eve, we do a traditional Italian seafood dinner and our neighbors come and bring part of the dinner. This year we had 16 on Christmas Eve. We started early, around 5, had our dinner, cleaned up, then they went home so we all could rest a bit, before attending Midnight Mass together. I am in the choir this year and was very thankful to be able to sing at
Thursday, January 11, 2007
The Son of God and the Children of Men
I just saw the film, "Children of Men", in which mankind finds itself absolutely infertile in the year 2027. As the film begins we learn that the youngest person on earth, an 18 year old boy, has just been killed in a barroom brawl. The world by then is a very dark, inhumane place. Immigrants to Britain are being hunted down, put into concentration camps to be deported or killed. The government is cast as brutal and duplicitous, setting off bombs in London and blaming them on foreigners in order to keep hatred fomenting. This brave, new Britain also promotes a substance called "Quietus", which one can drink when one decides for oneself "when its a good time..." (to end one's own life).
Although violent, dark and gritty, the most horrifying thing about this movie (to me) is that it could be prophetic. Within the last 20 years in the United States, men's testosterone levels have been dropping, after adjusting for age and other factors, by about 1 percent a year. No one can say why and "experts" can only speculate that some kind of pollution may be a factor. Due to sexual diseases and other less apparent factors, the fertility rate for women is dropping as well. If we add contraception and abortion, two deliberate measures taken to extinguish new life, we find a sad and troubling picture, emerging. On the other end of the spectrum, euthanasia is slowly, quietly, but increasingly gaining acceptance.
Right now, a death wish is directed toward the (potential) youngest generation and the older generation, that is to say, aimed at everybody but the "now" generation of enlightened adults who are presently running things. I cannot understand why reasonable people are buying into this mentality, believing they can flaunt natural law and somehow not reap the natural and logical consequences which must surely follow. God has given us His laws and we transgress them at our peril.
Scientists are now reporting that a "super bug" staph infection is being spread by sexual contact. Add that to the epidemic of STD's and the scourge of AIDS, the unexpected reemergence of tuberculosis, and you would think that people might be able to reign in their passions a bit and think about abstaining until marriage and then staying faithful after marriage. Or at least doing all they can to teach this to their children.
I had seen something in the recent past about the male hormone problem. When I came home from the movie, I did a simple Internet search on "testosterone levels falling". I came up with some interesting results. As you might know, women's bodies also contain testosterone, and I read that a contraceptive has been developed that works by suppressing this hormone in women. I then read another article which said that inadequate levels of testosterone hasten the development of Alzheimer's disease in people. Now, if a lay person like me can do this and see an obvious problem, wouldn't you think the medical community would say, "Hmm, better not go with that new contraceptive, and boy, we better start doing some serious investigation and try to whip up public interest, so as to get some good grant money to look into the problem of the unexplained demise of this hormone.
What is going on here? I think that when people overtly or even by apathy reject God and His life-giving laws that they reap the natural and logical consequences of their behavior. The Lord came to earth to save us. He gave us the scriptures to guide us and His Holy Spirit to illumine our thinking and inspire us to live godly lives. In Romans 1:19 and 20, we are even told that those who have never heard the word are without excuse if they behave badly, since God has imprinted creation with His nature and even the heathen can understand Him without having heard the Gospel. So we are our own worst enemies. God loves us, He warns us, but if we insist on sticking our hands in the fire, we will surely get burnt. At some point, and I fear we may have already passed it, He must remove His restraining hand of protection.
I also believe, however, that right now society is getting plenty of encouragement and "help" from the dark prince and his powers and principalities. He has successfully played "bait and switch" with a culture that bought his promises of limitless pleasure and self-fulfillment, only to find they must pay for these with their own souls and the blood of the weak and the innocent.
How else could people sit placidly by and even affirm the deliberate and slow torture and murder of a physically healthy woman who was denied food and water? When they got away with killing Terri Shiavo I wanted to get up on my roof and scream, "If you're a baby boomer, your fate was sealed today!! In ten years they'll have targets painted on us and it will be open season on old people!"
Three weeks ago in Australia thousands of birds of varied species fell dead to the ground in the midst of flight. Last week in Austin, Texas the same event occurred. In neither case, despite many autopsies, can a scientific explanation be found. Two unprecedented events, across the globe from each other, and no one can say why.
New York City got its first dusting of snow of this winter the other day. This is the latest occuring first snow since records began being kept in the 1870's. Why? El Nino? Is this the first
El Nino winter we've had in 130 years?
The late pope, John Paul the second said that we are living in a culture of death. We must devote ourselves to turning this around and lighting up the world with our love and our light. By our prayers, by our words and actions, with every breath we must do our Father's work while it is yet day. For night comes when no man can work. Please, Lord, leave the light on a little longer.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Thinking more about being green, I believe we may just be onto something quite significant, since the political powers seem to be concerning themselves more about the environment lately. You know, however, that someone will probably argue that as green homemakers, we hurt the economy by not feverishly spending and consuming. I have to think about that for awhile, since that philosophy (that economies would sink if we did not keep spending and throwing out so we can spend more) seems to directly contradict what the bible tells us to do. The bible tells us to be good stewards, to be thrifty, not to get in debt, not to be gluttonous or wasteful.
I think that the current view on what makes a healthy economy would be OK if there was no ceiling, no finite end to our resources. But the party has to end sometime. This side of user friendly nuclear fusion, there is only so much that we can consume and only a shrinking place in which to put all the junk. Re: debt, the piper is in the foyer, ready to be paid. The Chinese are increasingly using oil to fuel their factories to make plastic Santas and lawn chairs for the rest of us to gleefully buy at the local Walmart. About the only thing the U.S is exporting now are raw materials, food and natural resources, much as when we were the 13 Colonies. But that's another subject.
How do we stay true to our biblical principles, be good stewards of our Lord's creation and have a solid, healthy economy? Any thoughts?
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
This is one I really enjoyed writing. My "political statement" at the end is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but hey, the basis for which I say "Gimme" is probably quite valid.
When one of the parents is home full-time, they should get some kind of tax break for being less of a drain on the environment. As a stay-at-home person, I am "green" in two different ways.
Firstly, a full-time homemaker, in my case, the wife, leaves a smaller carbon footprint, or at least has a great opportunity to do so. My car is not making the daily commute, and I'm not using up paper and other supplies at work, and using all the resources that go into providing liability insurance for me (that costs the company money that has to be made somehow, usually by using other resources, many of them natural).
I have no problem wearing a few hand-me-down pieces of clothing. I just think of them as vintage and since I am a bit eccentric anyways, find it kind of amusing to dress a little funny sometimes.
My political statement: I think my homey, green ways are red, white, and blue, and that Nancy and the boys should throw a little paper green my way.
A well-meaning friend e-mailed me the following:
"Please join me in congratulating the new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, on being the first woman, and mother, to hold this position of power. And in thanking Speaker Pelosi for acknowledging the importance of family and children in her opening speech, and also for sending clear message of support by sharing her shining moment in the spotlight in a crowd of young children.
Let's make sure Speaker Pelosi knows that when she works for our children and families we'll back her every step of the way!
*To sign the virtual card, go to: http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/momsrising/signUp.jsp?key=1884
Way to go, Speaker Pelosi! We have your back!
---MomsRising will deliver the thank you card, along with a MomsRising necklace, with appropriate fanfare and children!---
*MomsRising.org (http://www.momsrising.org) is working to build a massive grassroots movement big enough to impact the outcome of the 2008 elections and beyond. The time has come to break the logjam that's been holding back family-friendly legislation for decades. It's going to take all of us--and then some--working together to get there. "
I did three things. First, I checked out the website, which seems to be a feminist-empowerment type of place advocating political militancy in demanding socialist-type legislation that is very pro-work for mothers, institutionalized childcare and other entitlements which I find actually detrimental to women and children. I then registered for their forums and posted two entries.
Here is the first one, which contains many familiar ideas of mine and others whom I respect:
Now, concerning the ideas posited on this website, I guess I just take a different approach to empowering women and helping children and can only speak concretely from the truth of my own experience. That is always the best thing, though, to talk about what you really know.
I had five children and was a stay at home mother and wife to a sailor who only attained the rank of E-6 (enlisted, grade 6 out of 9). He was making about 32K in 1993 when the fifth was born. The ladies I hired to help with housework, however, were married to E-7's or above. I will be explaining how I could afford that.
My jobs prior to having children were as a secretary or waitress. These were (and mostly still are) considered women's jobs and did not pay all that well. I have only my Drama degree to thank for that! I did, however, save and make some money through the allotment of a small portion of my secretary’s salary being invested into stocks each week. This went on for about two years. The sale of these stocks formed part of the down payment on our first house. My mother and father, themselves from the lower middle-class (with a 6th and 10th grade education) but always living within their means and saving a little, were able to help us with the down payment as well. I hope to be able to help our own children in this way with their starter home. It is a time-worn and honorable thing. If we hadn’t had this help we would have stayed in as nice an apartment as we could afford.
I believe I was able to stay home and take care of my children and my home (ultimately someone does have to do this, whether its you or you hire someone), because we stayed married, didn’t have credit debt, each learned skills like car maintenance, coupon cutting, making good garden dirt from kitchen scraps, cooking wholesome meals from scratch, going to the library, doing our own home repairs, maintenance and the like, and we didn't drink, gamble, or get many of the toys that other adults were getting, and were also willing to wear hand-me-down clothes. In other words, in many ways, we used restraint. I'm sure that would be unattractive to many people, but it enabled me to be the ruler of my home and full-time mother of my children. I also didn't have to pay for gas and upkeep of a reliable second car, buy work clothes, buy lunches out, or buy processed or restaurant food at night because of being too tired from work to come home and cook. Of course not having to pay for daycare saved us a ridiculous amount of money.
We didn't ask anyone to pay us more, or expect others to pay more in taxes in order to subsidize daycare and after school programs for our children. I could have qualified for WIC but I didn't really feel I needed to pursue it. Each child always had one good pair of shoes that fit and all the milk they wanted. They were also never bored because they had each other and I was there to let them build forts and otherwise tear up the backyard, haul junk out of the garage to make “stores” and “towns” with, get crazy dirty and generally horrify our properly suburban neighbors. Another big difference between us and our neighbors, some of whom worked two jobs apiece, was that on the neighborhood yard sale days, their front lawns looked like department store show rooms while we had little or nothing to sell. I didn’t work to afford stuff to try and get rid of at yard sales.
I think that businesses exist to provide goods and services to customers and provide salaries, benefits to their employees and a profit for their owners and/or stockholders. They are always competing with other businesses in order to survive to keep paying themselves and their employees. I know that the two times when I did have to work for short periods were times when I was constantly being distracted by needs at home and was not able to be as efficient or productive as I was when I was single or just married. Why would I expect employers to just jump at the chance to hire and keep me? (And it really doesn’t matter what the reason might be why one is not as efficient and productive. If I was single and partying so much that it was interfering with my work, I would not be valued as much as the person who stayed home at night and went to bed on time.) You would feel the same way if you had to hire someone to baby-sit your kids; all other things being equal, would you want the person who was fresh from a good night’s sleep, and for whom the babysitting job was their one priority, or would you go with the one who had two full-time jobs, and who would come to your house after they had put in a full day looking after someone else’s house and children?
We made sure not to become dependent on my salary and I made it my business to get back home as soon as the crisis was over. Also, anybody who works is in submission to their boss, and their bosses on up the chain as well as stockholders, customers, and the bottom line. I thought modern women must submit to NO ONE!
I believe in helping those less fortunate, and am all for Medicaid, but I have honestly seen so many people who cannot afford health insurance but can afford many or all of the following: cable TV (which we never had for the first 21 years of our marriage), cell phones, Internet access, video game systems, lottery tickets, Nike sneakers, designer clothes, expensive cars, other electronic toys, booze and cigarettes. I know a girl who was trying to talk a couple out of entering the abortion clinic to abort their child. The couple stated that they really didn't want to do it but that they couldn't afford another child. When the counselors told them there was help for them and gave them a toll-free number to call, the man whipped out his CELL PHONE and made the call. This incident happened several years ago, before absolutely everyone had a cell phone. But that man did.
Yes, this might sound judgmental but these are all facts. We need to teach our girls to be wise and sensible about whom they decide to have children with. If people want to be pro-choice, then for God's sake, let’s be a little choosier about the man with whom we do that which makes motherhood possible. Take your time, do all you can to find the right partner, get married and try to stay that way. Marriage is a big deal to the prosperity and overall well-being of women and children. Look at the stats. Divorce makes everybody poorer, although I would be the first to say that divorce is sometimes necessary. That is where the church, the extended family and other helps should come in, and where it might be wise to for a woman to consider some kind of home business. Also, we could stand to get those old patriarchal ideals back when it comes to legally forcing a man to take care of his wife (alimony and insurance coverage as well as child-support) if he leaves her, instead of the free-wheeling no-fault crap that's in place now. That would be a really good place to get “political”.
If there is someone out there reading this who wouldn’t mind sleeping in thrift store pajamas if she could stay in them till noon if the mood struck, or would like to explore the possibility of enjoying Saturday and Sunday instead of using the weekend to catch up on all the housework and bills and laundry and shopping, then please know that you can probably do it without Nancy Pelosi’s help. If you would rather be the Queen of your home than Speaker of the House, then take a good, honest look at your situation and start learning about becoming more self-sufficient. Just do a web search on living on one income.
You can try to depend on the government or other people so that you don’t have to eat lentils, or you can eat lentils so that you don’t have to depend on anyone.