Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Two Books

My Sunday School class is doing another one of those books studies on a recently popular Christian title "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. I find the book depressing, and a few times I have found myself feeling as if there is no way I can be good enough to measure up, so why bother.

In antidote, I have reached into my bookshelf for another book purported to be on the same subject: God's enormous love for us, and our response to it. "The Ragamuffin Gospel" by Brennan Manning.

This morning I found this mighty example of God's grace: In "Crazy Love" Chapter 4 is titled ' Profile of the Luke-Warm' and tells all about how badly we Christians act toward God - because we don't love him enough to rely on Him, and that because of this we are obviously luke-warm and will be spat out of His mouth. Chapter 4 in "The Ragamuffin Gospel" is titled ' Tilted Halos' and describes how we poor in spirit people, who love God with all of our broken and sinful hearts, are nonetheless treasured in our imperfections by a God who is understanding and accepting of the foibles and baby-steps of His children.

The two chapters cover the same topic. One writer tells me that I don't measure up and it's my fault, and I should fix it or I will not be acceptable. The other writer tells me that I'm messed up and it's my fault, and I should fix it - but that God understands my heart, and loves me anyhow.

It might be the difference in the lives of the authors before they wrote the books. Francis Chan went from highschool to Bible college to Seminary to the teaching pastor possition at a church. Brennan Manning went from difficult home to the US Marines to the gutter and back before attending seminary and becoming an evangelist. A big difference is also evident in the pictures of the Authors on the covers. Mr. Chan is an attractive young man, and Mr. Manning is an older man with much life evident on his face.

It might be the difference in the audience the books are meant for. The back of The Ragmuffin Gospel headlines "Are you bedraggled, beat-up and burnt out?" and Crazy Love : " Have you ever wondered if you're missing it?" Is it the dichotomy of 'comfort the afflicted but afflict the comfortable?' I don't know.

It does, however, reinforce my prejudice against Pop Christian Books and love of the old (mostly dead) authors of generations before. My feeling is that The Ragamuffin Gospel will be read for years to come and that Crazy Love will be one of those books that will fade into obscurity as soon as the next flash-in-the-pan Christian Thing comes along.

But I've been wrong before. ~M.E.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


It's cold and wet here again today. I'm dying to get outside in the green and dirt, but can't. Yesterday I went out briefly and spread a few bags of mulch, and did a little mowing - but once my hands got wet and cold it wasn't comfortable.

I'm revisiting a Teaching Company lecture series on The Impressionists to cheer me up.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Another First

Hey, Look at me! I'm a subversive political protester! Other than a few anti-abortion prayer rally things, and a pro-homeschooling gathering or two, I've never taken part in a political rally of any sort before. I don't like crowds, I'm not real keen on listening to speeches, and although I have voted in every election I possibly could for the last 20 odd years, telling someone else how to vote just isn't my thing.
I read the reviews in the media, and it seems that us poor brain-washed subversive whiners are just upset that we lost in November, and all we ever do is listen to Rush Limbaugh and FOX news, and we don't love our country enough to want to pay taxes.
Not the case. Personally I'm appalled at the massive overspending happening in all layers of our government. Money that has to be borrowed, and leaves us indebted to other countries. I'm shocked at how horribly BIG our federal government have gotten, and how much control they are taking from the states and from the people. I see a point that if this isn't stopped that freedoms taken 'for our protection' and taxes levied 'to be better able to serve' will leave us all wards of the government and largely working for them ( to pay our taxes). Socialists at best.
I'm an independent voter. Not a Republican nor a Democrat. I'd vote for anyone whom I thought would make some real, positive, HONEST, efforts at making the American Government work for the people again - and letting the PEOPLE be free to pursue our lives, in liberty, and to be happy in what we make of them.

*Jumping off the soap box* Cheers! ~M.E.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An Unusual Monday, Indeed.

I did something last night that was quite unusual for me. I went out to a bar - and listened to a band. I can count the times I've been in a similar situation on two hands - one hand if I don't go back to the B.C. days. ( Before Children.)

Meredith invited me along - her New Guy, Joel, was supposed to play but that didn't happen. It's ok though. I think the other band that was on was having too much fun and their set just kept going and going. It was sort of blues music but definitely on the rock and roll side - Fog Hat, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and George Thoroughgood covers and loud electric originals where the words didn't matter because you couldn't really make them out anyhow. I'd never play that kind of music and just listen for no reason. It's just not every day listening stuff, but I enjoy listening to it live. Especially when you can watch the musicians up close. Live music of any genre I want to be able to see the musicians making the music. It's just my thing. The woman playing Bass was having such a marvelous time. It was fun just to watch and dance along in my seat.

The venue was tiny, but and open front door and very high ceilings helped. Thank the Illinois legislature for getting one thing right - the room was smokelessly habitable. At 11:00PM on a Monday the croud was thinning, mostly older and so mercifly void of drama and drunken stupidity - with one glaring exception that made Meredith comment, "That's the best reason for never drinking too much - you don't want to be that guy."

I enjoyed my foray into a completely different chunk of American culture than normally crosses my daily life. I saw a young guy there that I've known since he and Meredith played in Orchestra when they were 14; he's a trumpet player that sells insurance to pay his rent. I was home by Midnight - after all it's a school night, and I have cerfew.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Tale of Two Relationships

Happy Easter Everyone. Christ has risen, and we are redeemed.

An old young friend of mine was married yesterday. I met him in about 2001 when he was a callow and coltish 17. I retained the friendship when he became a stupid 18 who had watched "Princess Bride" too many times and he joined the Army so that he could go away and make a name for himself, then return home many years later to the long-faithful girl and live happily ever after. (PS. that never works.) We had bonded over his writing because I was one of the few who would give him honest editing and reviews - and I'd put up with his ranting, patiently waiting for him to finally stop being a pompous critter and deal with whatever the problem was. When he was a stripped bare, warn raw, sick and weary 21 year old who had experienced too much war and lost sight of God I told him things would get better, and that some day he'd be happy again. He said I lied, and that there would never be love in his life. I kept in contact with him because I knew that beyond that Slough of Despond there was God and love. First, about three years back he slowly found that God was still God. After that, he slowly found love with a young lady. Their wedding yesterday was like as to God restoring Job. They are crazy in love with each other - and both crazy in love with God. I love a happy beginning, don't you?

I met a young lady at Church today that I hadn't seen in quite a while.* Christmas 2006 we became acquainted whilst working on the Christmas program at Church, and not too long after that I didn't see her around anymore. I expected that she had gone away to college, or moved away for a job as young people are bound to do at about that age. I listened to her story and I'm sad to say that was not the case. Evidently she met a guy about Valentines 2007 and within just a month or two they were dating, and just as swiftly were living together. "I thought he was the right man, and so what we were doing was OK." she sadly told the small group of women that had gathered to chat. She became pregnant, and they Married in July. He lost his job, and joined the Air Force - she followed him to his first duty station just before the next Christmas. By the time their son was born, he had started cheating on her, and although she tried hard to make things work out, by their first anniversary their marriage was over. She tried to make it on her own, but just couldn't climb out from under the huge pile of debt he left for her. She's back in town now - living with her parents and working retail. Part of picking up wreck she made of her life is finding her way back to God - The God who just a couple of years ago she shoved aside because she knew how to better handle her life.

I know that God will make something good out of this second situation, just as he did the first. The return path to God is always, in my experience, harder than the path that leads us away. There's no real point to this. just something to ponder.

*if you think you know who this is, you don't. enough details have been changed to throw you way off track.

Cheers! ~Marci

Friday, April 10, 2009

11 days in the desert

Or " some of the things I might not have done had I had the internet working on my computer"

I read Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks - really good book by the way. I deep-cleaned both of our guest bathrooms from the exhaust fans to the baseboards. I took my dog for a long walk - several actually. I made a really blah looking navy blue skirt that is necessary for Teenpact and Blue Lake dress codes. I read Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S.Forester - really good book by the way. I read the State Journal-Register front to back every day. I re-engineered a prom dress for a young friend who was in great need. I matched a basket of socks. I baked bread. I read I Was Told There Would Be Cake by Slone Crosley - could have been a good read except that young authors in her generation tend to use too much gratuitous profanity. I wrote a real letter with pen and paper. I planned several weeks of my Sophomore's schoolwork. (I'm never more than a week ahead.) I watched some really stupid TV. I straightened out the cupboards, made a list, and stocked up on non-perishable groceries. I found a mahjong game on my computer - and played 20 games. I organized my photo folders. I brushed the pets. I read The Queen's Fool by Phillipa Gregory - brain candy I've read before. I worked on Hannah's high school transcripts. I irritated the cats. I tore apart and fixed the light fixture in the kitchen. I erased all the old text msgs on my phone. I bought more books. I cleaned out the master bedroom top to bottom - even washed the curtains. I call a friend on the phone to complain about my lack of internet. I took the final exam to the personal finance course Hannah just finished and scored a 96%. I started and then abandoned another piece of fiction.

So, the satellite repair guy came out today and finally figured out that there was a short in our radio transmitter. Our old modem was fine - except that the power supply blew out when we recycled it after having been on constantly for so long. The total cost has yet to be determined. Those of you that have some kind of cabled in subscription high speed internet, rejoice: for these costs will never be yours.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I miss my web.

Panera. Free wifi. Like food for the starving.

I've been living for 8 days in the fog of the internetless. No online banking. No email. No blogging. No information about (enter topic here) at my fingertips.

Feels kind of like I've lost one of my senses. Call it the sense of data flow.

We might - maybe - get our hughesnet back up tomorrow night - or maybe the next day.

Back to the stone age with me....