Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent 1

"Es ist ein Ros entsprungen". Flashmob at the main train station.  Very well sung by Cologne Radio choir.

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.
Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
When half spent was the night.
The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found Him,
As angel heralds said.
This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.
O Savior, Child of Mary, who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,
And to the endless day!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Contradictions in Relativism

Got this from Facebook somewhere:

Writing today at The American Culture, Mike D’Virgilio makessome good observations about the inherent contradictions in what is commonly called relativism today. Particularly interesting is this passage:
Such do-it-yourself-morality is the logical conclusion of moral relativism, and it means that literally anything goes. Of course, many relativists betray these principles through their actions. It is common for people who profess relativism to live quite conventional lives. In addition, many people steeped in relativism profess absolute, objective moral values, such as that racism is bad, smoking is evil, religion is dangerous, and the like. Note how colleges and their students treat commencement speakers whose political beliefs don’t accord with theirs. Although they are loath to admit that these opinions are no more valid than any others (a fundamental tenet of relativism), they appear to have no doubts at all about the rightness of their positions.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Arizona / 5 / Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon was unfathomable, of course.  It is easily discernible from space.  Many people have marveled at it.  Innumerable members of my extended family have trekked there to spent vacations, going down, camping and doing science...  As for myself, I would personally not be interested in taking some narrow little trail down with the drop-offs all over the place...  No.  Thanks. Not on a mule, either.   I don't have a fear of heights, but I do have a quite sensible fear of falling off one of these trails.  In the current newspaper of Canyon Village, a report told the story of a 68 year old woman who needed rescue at night because she had been holding onto dear life three feet from a 80 foot drop.  She had been hiking at 7:00 PM!  What on earth was she thinking.  It is pitch-black dark after 6:00 PM.  They needed to order a helicopter in the middle of the night while she lay still for eight hours until her eventual rescue.

The most interesting place to me was the geological museum right on the rim.  I tried to read everything they posted there as I always think that I have no idea what geology is about and should learn it.  Then when I try to understand it, I wonder if geology itself knows what it is about.  A billion years here, a million years, here, and oops, what happened to those billion years.  Some layers should be here, but they are not.  It is a mystery.  Then you peruse a book on geology that they sell here and you wonder if it is any better.  First picture:  a meteor hits the earth.  Oh golly.  That meteor.  Yawn.  Really.  That unsubstantiated meteor has to account for so much.

Whatever.  Time to give up on geology for now.  My husband caught a bad cold and I had to explore alone for some time.  I know, now, why our parents only spent about 5 min. with us at the Grand Canyon in 1973.  It is not a place for children.  Some silly young men stood pretty stupidly right on the rim.  They must all feel very sure-footed.

In Alberta, we have some very interesting valleys with hoodoos and fossils, too, which are not as dangerous to visit.  Some family might like to make its way to our badlands.  And our layer of dinosaurs is not missing.  Lots of dinosaur bones. And we have first class museums, too.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Arizona Trip / 4 / Camelback Mountain

WELL!  We four heroes were supposed to climb Camelback Mountain.  We got there bright and early, thinking we would get this thing done before the worst heat of the day.  At about 0.37 miles up the hike was to become "extremely difficult"--according to the sign at the bottom.  Ah!  I pointed this out to my brother-in-law, who had put us up to this expedition.  We were instructed to have lots of water and cell phones and decent footwear, and so on...  Good grief!  Here stood my husband in his sandals. I myself, nor he, actually, have ever completed an "extremely difficult" hike before.  But the brother-in-law was not to be deterred.  This guy from his office made it up, and so we should be able to do it, too. ( I assumed he was comparing us to some heavy-set or sluggish person, but afterward I found out that he was talking about some very fit person.)  So, here we go.

After the 0.37 miles was a beautiful look-out (see the second picture), with a stone bench one could sit on very comfortably and enjoy the view.  At this point, there was another big warning sign with the picture of a young man who had died on the mountain to strengthen the effect of the message.  After a few more meters, the trail trended pretty much vertically up, so that you had to pull yourself up by a bar (see the first picture).  That was the end for me and my sister-in-law.  We decided to do the lower bit over and over, until the heroic men came back. 

All sorts of extremely fit young people seemed to be practically running up this mountain.  It looked like it was part of their daily exercise routine.  One man was on his second trip up carrying weights in both hands.

Well, our men took forever, and for a bit we thought the emergency helicopter had come for them.  But the helicopter flew off again.  Thankfully, it just circled the mountain.  My sister-in-law said that she would kill her husband if he had done something to himself.  And then when he came down, he really had done something to himself.  He had really hurt his foot.  He was sore and swollen the whole rest of the holiday, and when we went to the mall we had to get a wheelchair for him.  So that was that, and early on.  My husband came done ok in his sandals and all.  What can we say.

I enjoyed that view quite a bit, seeing that we walked up to it several times and sat and talked with strangers and waited for a long time.  There was another woman waiting and fretting for her husband.  She seemed quite old, but she said her husband was fit.  We assume he came down fine. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Arizona Trip / 3 / Church

Last Sunday, we attended divine service in Farmington, New Mexico, where a dear friend is serving as minister.  He is a blogger and a fine theologian, found here, at Expository Lutheran.

We had a Bible study on the Third Article of the Apostles' Creed from the Large Catechism.  The children's lesson was also about the Creed.  The sermon was on the Parable of the Talents. --  One servant was given so many and produced so much.  Another so many...  Another buried his gifts in the ground saying that the King was a hard master! It is our job to tell others the Good News.  -- Take a gamble.  Take a jab at it.  You never know.  Use your talents.  Do Something.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Arizona Trip / 2 / November

This is a picture I took from the side of the road heading north from Kayenta toward Monument Valley on the Hopi and Navajo reservation. It was a very dramatic place.

As we were heading east on the 160 we came down from a plateau as the town lay below us.  There was a darkening sky to the east looking like a big rain storm and in front of it was heading a dust storm.  I was driving while my husband, who had caught a cold at the Grand Canyon, was sleeping.  I  decided to wake him up just to see this.

It did rain all the rest of the way to Farmington, after that.  And in Farmington it snowed on Sunday. We stopped at the Four Corners monument, too, where everything was slippery in red wet desert mud. My husband wanted to see the Four Corners very much, because he had seen it on "Breaking Bad."  I found it a little underwhelming as an tourist attraction, but my husband was very satisfied and had his picture taken standing in all four States, at the same time.  (This is quite something.  He never asks to have his picture taken...)

We noticed that many of the towns on the reservation had new McDonalds restaurants.  The burgers were well priced, as there was no tax charged on them.  The Wifi comes in handy, too.  Altogether a great drive.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Arizona Trip 1

Dear Blog:  I have been on a holiday.  It was very lovely.  We saw many wonderful things, met friends and family, and had languid dinners on warm patios, wine, dessert...

(Now I have to get back on my diet.  First protein day, today.  Egg.  Sardines.)

This is my favorite picture, from a favorite place, the artisans' market area in Sedona, down by the river.  We had an outdoor lunch at the Secret Garden, and it was just so beautiful and peaceful to sit there.

The picture is of the seasonal centerpiece of a fountain in the shopping village.  I bought some new age music from a man playing by the canal.  The CD is titled "Sedona Nights".  He said it was inspired by belly dancing music.  I gave him some snake arms and hip drops.  His flyer said that he does past-life regressions, at  $225 for two hours. Not a bad salary, eh?  All the personal testimonies in the flyer had to do with trouble with commitment, issues with mother and wives.  --  It makes you wonder.

My sister-in-law bought a bracelet.  Men sat on benches and in niches waiting for their women to finish shopping...  My husband and his brother sat in the Secret Garden, hopefully not dealing with with their problems with women in their lives. -- I doubt it.  They never talk about us.  Maybe they need a therapist to help them come to grips with the subject matter...  :)  Hehe.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Fall in Alberta town

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

Nabeel Qureshi wrote an important book about his faith and conversion titled "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus." 

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity

I picked it up from my friend's coffee table and abducted it.  She wants it back, but I already read half of it in one sitting.  She will get it back soon.  Nabeel I have heard speak before on Youtube videos with Ravi Zachariason, both attractive, well-spoken, intelligent apologists.

His descriptions of his childhood in an Islamic household are endearing and helping us understand Muslim family life and the connected piety.