Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What is wrong with Socrates? / Christmas

Relatively intelligent people I have met on-line ranging from writers, professors, and debaters like the late Christopher Hitchens seem to see what they call a dialectic according to Socrates as a kind of religion or thing to live by.  Question everything, look higher to the elevated consciousness.  Get your head out of the mud of daily diving, cares, needs and desires, and just think.  On one hand, thinking is indeed something we could stand to do more of, and still, Plato's cave analogy serves as a convenient image to denigrate everything that there actually is, and has been created good, and promote the something or other higher (so-called).  They will even say that it is a "satanic" activity in the Biblical sense, the legitimate questioning of everything.

It really is the "fall upwards".  You can be like God. How could God forbid you something?  How could he withhold knowledge of evil from you?  Go for it.  You will be like God.  Look inside for all the knowledge you need.  Nothing is really forbidden, or shameful.

The Satan of the Bible asks Adam and Eve to search for something more than what they have been given--paradise on earth, love, goodness, bodies that reproduce, food, nurture.  But Satan does not care.  Satan offers a pretend light.  It is not a light.  It is death, that he offers.

And so even Socrates, when elevated to religious figure, a prophet, is Satan.

I cried at the account of Socrates' death.  He was brave and good in many ways.  But Plato was into eugenics and control.  So, also, the Socratic dialogue tends to swerve into the nightmare, downhill, rather than upward.  His society thought Socrates a demagogue, and maybe he was one.

Better watch out.

Mohammed, also, tries to teach that God can have nothing to do with the physical. The results are also disastrous.

Christian Science wants to say that illness is an illusion.  But illness is not an illusion.  It is real and scientific pursuits and medicine have offered relief and need acceptance. Buddhism wants us to ignore all the suffering in the world.  Give up caring, altogether.

The Bible teaches us to value what we have in the physical realm. The spiritual and higher realm is attached and integrated into this physical realm.  It cannot be pried apart.  When it is attempted the results are not elevating. It is a mirage, a temptation, a false road.

There is only one good road and it is narrow:  Christ, God in the flesh.  Love incarnate.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cooking and Baking--fast, no measuring

In the last few days, I have discovered Breadpudding: add some whipping cream to it and--voila--you have something you should only make rarely...

In my experimenting it turns out: that's how I make it, see below.

One lasagna pan.
About 10 slices of bread (cut into pieces)
7 eggs
high fat yoghurt
maple flavor
almond flavor
homemade chai spice mix
Bourbon soaked raisins
brown sugar
cut apples with skin
(some butter)

bake for 40 min., convection oven, uncovered, 350 degrees F.

They recommend a Bourbon sauce, which I have not made yet.
It would consist of:  butter, brown sugar, a bit of cream and Bourbon.

I went out and bought the Bourbon, since we didn't have anything like it.  I thought it was rum, but it is whisky.  In any case, the local liquor store had it, at 32.00 dollar per medium size bottle.  Something really cheap would probably work just as well in baking.

I consider this a "no measurement needed recipe".  Mix it all together.  Whisk the eggs before adding, obviously.  I had forgotten to add butter, so I flaked some over top once it was already in the oven.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Cognitive Dissonance and Music

The internet sent me on some reading and I came across this point:  playing music in the backgrond reduced cognitive dissonance experience.

Interesting.  Similar to hand-washing.  Interesting.  From Wikipedia.

A 2012 study using a version of the forbidden toy paradigm showed that hearing music reduces the development of cognitive dissonance.[10] With no music playing in the background, the control group of four-year-old children were told to avoid playing with a particular toy. After playing alone, the children later devalued the forbidden toy in their ranking, which is similar findings to earlier studies. However, in the variable group, classical music was played in the background while the children played alone. In that group, the children did not later devalue the toy. The researchers concluded that music may inhibit cognitions that result in dissonance reduction.[10] Music is not the only example of an outside force lessening post-decisional dissonance; a 2010 study showed that hand-washing had a similar effect.[11]

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Getting Ready

As we are getting closer to Christmas, all the pieces have to come together.  I am taking the very easy route on the Christmas tree front, as you can see.   In all things simplicity...  Less is more...

It's much better to sing more.  Someone gave me a JBL Pulse Bluetooth speaker, which I took into use today.  A wonderful device, it is! It is more powerful than the previous JBLcharge speaker, plus it gives a lightshow.  My husband finds the light distracting, but,  check it out, you can also turn if off.  It comes with an I-Pad app which helps you organize your playlist.  VERY SWEET!

What was playing during the Biscotti making was this CD of Paul Gerhardt hymns, shown below.  It is a very beautiful recording, but there are too few verses sung.  These are the songs we learned by heart, when in school, verses and verses and more verses, and here we only get a couple.  Alas.  I have to yet find what I am looking for.


Bach-Chor Siegen - Paul Gerhardt:Die schönsten Choräle, CD

For our edification, however, tonight still, let's looks at an English version of "Wie soll ich dich empfangen".  "Oh, Lord, how shall I meet you..."

Friday, December 18, 2015

Babies at Christmas

Dear Blog: keeping going, trying new things... especially in the way of music and music therapy...  I love to make people happy with music.

The best thing, though, are babies at Christmas, the hope and joy they bring, and I have my very own, first grandchild to show off.  She was born small but is doing very well, having eaten like a little piglet for 3 months now, she is at 25th percentile.

We can see how babies give new hope and joy, and we see the wisdom of God, in coming to the world as a baby.  The wisdom and the foolishness, the strength and the weakness, the Prince of Peace.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Jesus Comes

When Stefan died, one of his teachers gave us a card with this image, with the youth safe and sound in Jesus' arms.

Another youth we know, 17 years old, died this week.

It looks like he jumped off a bridge into a large and cold river.  His family, distraught about his where-abouts, posted, after the body was found, "He is safe in the arms of his Savior".

This could seem to some kitschy or wishful thinking.

But it is the only answer I have ever found:  "I love him even more than you."

There is nothing else.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

First Sunday in Advent

Image result for advent with verse

Advent is for waiting--for waiting and getting ready.

In the world, the bombs fly, some of them to usher in the last days and the apocalypse.  But this is not

Jesus' way.  We wait.  We pray.  We listen.  We speak.  We bake cookies and clean house.

He is the Prince of Peace.

He is the One.

Our own eyes will see Him.

Lift up your heads, as your redemption is near.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Solzhenitsyn, 1978 Speech


Also, on YouTube. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WuVG8SnxxCM

To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging everything on earth -- imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes which had not been noticed at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility. We have placed too much hope in political and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life. In the East, it is destroyed by the dealings and machinations of the ruling party. In the West, commercial interests suffocate it. This is the real crisis. The split in the world is less terrible -- The split in the world is less terrible than the similarity of the disease plaguing its main sections.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hamed Abdel-Samad on the "Downfall of the Islamic World"


Ezra Levant Interview with Young Muslim Men in Paris, this Week


Ezra may go over the top with some of his rants, but he has courage and drive.  Hats off.  We should listen to him for what it is he finds out.  In many ways, he is a champion of our rights and freedoms.

Also see this interview Ezra Levant had with Noam Chomsky.

Image result for ezra with chomsky

Trees on Mars. Our Obsession with the Future


While driving this morning, I listened to a lengthy interview with the author of a new book titled interestingly and memorably "Trees on Mars.  Our Obsession with the Future".

The author spoke incredibly well and I am thinking about getting the book.  It seems it  came out this October, and Amazon has no reviews and ratings, yet.

When I turned on the radio, he was just speaking about "Disruption."  Disruption is a current buzz-word in various places like Universities and technology innovators.  It means something like setting aside all the old, so that the future can be imagined and brought about.  Niedzviecki believes in what makes us human, story-telling and face-to-face contact.  He has no idea why anyone would be on Facebook, for example.  Some technologies don't make sense on the human level.  Of course, he is on Facebook, too, but it does not make sense to him, overall.

He pointed out the absurdities of some of our ambitions, and the goals that are being set before our young people.  For example, a woman from Edmonton was short-listed to go on a mission to Mars, on a one-way ticket.  Her husband did not make the short-list.  On the air, the tape was played:  "Yes, of course, I would miss my husband, but..."  Niedzviecki had some really good words to describe what is going on here, but I forgot them now.  But those would be what the book is about:  showing how we are sacrificing humanity for outlandish and practically useless dreams and ambitions.

No doubt, he might go a little far here and there, but I don't know that the main points should not be well taken.  He says, young people, and many of those "precariously employed",  really just want what their parents had--stable employment, affordable housing, etc.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sura in context and fully explained

Often it is heard that Islam is a religion of peace and that the killing of people is forbidden in it.  This seems to fly in the face of the current emphasis on terrorism and the attempt to get Sharia accepted here, there and everywhere, and definitely not with peaceful means.

Answering Muslims has a simple and thorough explanation for a particular verse in the Koran that is constantly quoted only partially and out of context, here.

As the speaker explains:  Muslims in the world really need to decide if this is really the book and the religion they think they should follow.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Waiting Room Magazines

While waiting for a routine blood test for an entire hour in the morning, I had occasion to leaf through a whole stack of magazines, of varying vintage.

Several of them where Hello magazines, featuring the lives of royalty and, of course, of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.  Every issue had something on Prince William and Kate and their fresh, little babies.  Attached to them there was always something about Prince Harry, who hopes to find the love of his life and have children, too, and the late Princess Diana.  We can see whom this magazine is marketed to.  Certainly it serves as a break from the bleak, violent newscasts we suffer from every day, an escape, a comfort of sorts.

Princess Diana, though gone, lives forever.  Sometimes, there were stories about the Queen and Charles and Camilla.  The Queen wears her crown.  Kate wears the Queen's jewels.  Everything is the primmest and properest ever since Downton Abbey, except when we remember that Charles was cheating on Diana with Camilla.  There were Three in the marriage, as Diana said.

But there she is, Diana, with the hands-on parenting, tobogganing down the hill with her boys.  My heart breaks for her. I can see it in her face. What did it take to put up this front for so long? What does it take to be ever so put-together for the camera, in spite of all that goes on?

When we were young, I remember my girl-friend going over a picture of Sophia Loren, and admiring many features.  Personally speaking, I am missing a gene for this sort of showmanship and preening, probably to my detriment.  Perhaps, being a bit vainer would have been a good thing.  It would have seriously never occurred to me "ooh" and "aah" over Sofia Loren.

All the royalty seems to be into having weddings, babies and "Christenings".  Nobody calls it a Baptism, in any captions.  (I have even seen Baptism pictures of Kardashians, in the Holy Land, of all places.)

Well.  I came away with the feeling that maybe it would not hurt to be a little more like them, a little bit more put together, a little bit more graceful and gracious, never mind the larger and smaller, true or untrue, intrigues that we hear about sooner or later.  Under all those fancy arrangements they are just people like you and me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Simon Sheh book: Pure At Heart: A Man's Guide To Purity In A Sexualized World

I had the chance to hear Dr. Simon Sheh speak about shame and porn addiction.  He spoke for the second time for our Love Life Conference.

Below the information on a book he wrote, available on Amazon.ca.

His book is titled  Pure At Heart: A Man's Guide To Purity In A Sexualized World

Unfortunately, I don't have the book handy.  Though I bought one at the conference, I promptly lent it out to a seminarian.

PURE AT HEART is a life changing handbook about overcoming sexual addiction and achieving sexual purity. Dr. Simon Sheh, one of the few Christian Psychologists in North America specializing in the treatment of sexual addiction, wrote this practical handbook to help men pursue purity in our hyper-sexualized world. PURE AT HEART gives you: Surprising new information about pornography and how it affects a man and his health, A self-assessment questionnaire to help point you in the right direction for seeking help, Effective tools to break the destructive habits of sexual addiction, Clear advice about how to affair proof your marriage, and Guidance on how to safeguard sexual purity in your children.

"Dr. Sheh asks some tough questions when it comes to men, pornography and sexual addiction-is it just about sex? The reasons behind these habits may surprise you, as may the practical plan to get free from these family and self-destroying habits. This book is a must read, both for men and women who are looking for answers."-Paul Arthur

"Dr. Simon Sheh delivers an extremely straight and forthright prescription for how to live a morally pure life. Contained in these pages, from a biblical perspective is information that can bring you freedom from pornography and sexual addiction. I recommend you read this material thoroughly and honestly...it offers solutions that can change and heal you."-Rev. Kenneth A. Solbrekken

So much from the Amazon site.  What is it I remember?

Most of all, I remember Dr. Sheh's revelation that Christ is the redemption also of our shame.  As he hung naked on the cross, he bore both our sin and shame.  Second of all I remember the stories he told from experience.  I could never retell any of that the way he said it himself.  He was an impassioned speaker, and so I would recommend going to hear him, if you have the chance, or if you need treatment, I could imagine him being a truly helpful therapist.  Face to face would be much better than the book.  But lacking this opportunity, the book would be better than my trying to restate it.

Nevertheless, with those caveats, let's give it a try: 

Shame is a very deep-seated emotion, a very deep pain.  It speaks to the lack of acceptance of yourself as a person of value, either by others or yourself.  Often this comes from the home with words such as "you won't amount to much",  "you are not as smart as",  "you are too short, too ugly, too whatever..." , "you are not as good as your older brother..."

This sort of talk may be more pervasive in some cultures or families, but we are all familiar with it. Shame is different from guilt, as it does not speak to a particular behavior, lapse or sin, but speaks about your whole being, maybe something you can't change, at all.  It is just simply who you are.

This shame can lead to addictive behaviors in order to comfort ourselves.  Sexual addictions and addiction to pornography can be some of those problems created.  Dr. Sheh feels that the female breast takes the man back to the comfort of his mother.  I don't know what to say about that, except I think I remember reading that Luther said something like it, when he marveled, as a married man, that the female breasts are both for the nurture of the infant and for the stimulation of the man. (Indeed, it is somewhat marvelous, speaking as a married woman.)  

From there he spoke about what porn does to a person and to relationships.  From there he went onto recovering from addiction.  He spoke to the fact that most people can't go cold turkey and that every failure is a learning opportunity:  "What did you learn from this instance and this lapse?"

In the end, he is very hope-inspiring, impressing the hearers with the fact that these things can be beaten.

So, basically, seeing how pervasive porn use has become, I would think that the book is a great investment, as it is bound to affect someone you know, if it does not involve yourself.  Maybe, I should buy myself another copy, in case I don't get the other one back. 

Dr. Simon Sheh has a website here:  http://www.drsimonsheh.com/

Dr Simon Sheh

In relation to the problems associated with porn use, also see this Ted Talk.  

Silence Observed / Prayer

On BBC news, there is a clip today, that shows the observing of silence in British society on behalf of the fallen and the terror in Paris. There are school children with French flags.  There are meetings with men standing around a table.  There is Westminster chiming.

Silence is moving.  It is a strange thing.  It expresses the sorrow.  It expresses the solidarity.  It expresses the seriousness.  It expresses the determination.  It binds the community.  It frees the community to go on and move on to whatever is next.  It is a marker.

It really is amazing.  It costs no money, expends no energy and is still so powerful.  Better than a march with banners.

Silence is like prayer.  We have time to connect to something more, something deeper.

It reminds me of something I was told by African American Spiritual singers:  "Let's hum.  The devil won't know what we are singing."  I think the humming was not wordless.  In their minds, the choir knows the words, and they know them together.  But outwardly, it is just a soft sound.

In the minutes of silence, we also know what we are thinking:  "Lord, have mercy and help us.  Lord, be with the loved ones.  Lord, don't let it happen again. Don't let the sacrifices by in vain.  Let us go on soberly and properly doing the right thing, with your help. Amen."  

Not only does the devil not know what is being prayed, the atheists can't protest, either.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Prayer Quotes

"I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in pryaer."
by Martin Luther
"I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day."
by Abraham Lincoln
"The more you pray, the less you'll panic. The more you worship, the less you worry. You'll feel more patient and less pressured."
by Rick Warren
"Prayer is not an old woman's idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action."
by Mahatma Gandhi

Paris and the World

Yesterday, we were all grieved anew over the atrocities committed in Paris by murderous terrorists.  Daily, it seems, we must cope with the news of the deaths of innocents in many lands, demonstrators in Turkey, shoppers in Beirut and Kenya, Christians hounded and persecuted everywhere.  We worry that this has become guerrilla warfare, and indeed, the leader of the French nation spoke about  a war.  How will it end?  What is this war about?

Again and again we are told that Islam is not to blame, even though in the Koran we have strict instructions for the subjugation or killing of the so-called infidels where ever they are found.  But this has already become painfully obvious to every one, in spite of the window dressing.

We are also told that people don't just simply act according to their holy texts, and therefore Muslims everywhere are peace-loving people, in spite of the Koran.  I do not doubt it.  Most Muslims, like all people who want the best for their families, communities and countries are more or less peace-loving, in spite of their holy book even.

There are other inexcusable strictures in the holy book.  They deal with the denigration and subjugation of women.  We need not go here into all the details.  They are all becoming well known.  It seems to be an insurmountable problem very basic to the practice of Islam everywhere.  Every sophisticated Islam-friendly philosopher bemoans it.  The honor of the family is tied up with the conduct of the female.  Thus she is covered, veiled, prevented from driving cars, going to school and so on.  Girls marry too young and men they have not wanted.  Girls have less value.  A woman's word does not count.

We are told that the pious woman chooses all this garb and restrictions for herself.  We don't buy it.

With all that is wrong here and completely inexcusable and absolutely despicable, and terribly depressing, there is one thing that makes me pause, however, and one does not hear it mentioned:  we, the West, are decadent;  we are corrupted; we are also sick.

I had never heard of the Eagles of Death Metal.  When I first heard that a Concert Hall was targeted, I wondered:  was it Beethoven or was it Rock that was on the program?  Was it music or was it noise? --And I watched a couple of videos by Eagles of Death Metal and I heard one say:  "Are you ready to have a fun evening with the dark side?"  And I knew this is quite far from the Bach Cantatas I was taught to sing in Youth Choir.  Research it for yourself on Youtube.

I don't have time anymore tonight to speak to low we are sinking, how we have abandoned basic instincts and institutions.  Let's just say:  part of me is willing to lash out with the Islamist.  Our children are neglected, drug-addicted, promiscuous and sad.   We have robbed them of the things that matter.  We, too, live in a very sick world.

In the press, we hear about how people cherish their freedoms and wanted to enjoy themselves on a Friday evening.  This is what Paris is about, after all.  Yes, it is, and that is why Paris was targeted, so we are told. Our societies have abandoned normal family life, normal sexual relations in faithful relationships, the fear of God and the afterlife, a life of prayer and community.  We have altogether become corrupt and gone astray.  We should think about it. Charlie Hebdo and others may satirize all religions, but who will satirize the sickness of secular culture? -- It is too sad to satirize.

In the end, it could have been a Bach Cantata going on in the Concert Hall, as, no doubt, an Islamist would find it offensive, too.  Music is not allowed, for one thing--another horrible rule.  So it does not really matter what kind of concert was being held.  It could have been the same bloodbath.   And still.  What are we doing? We are shoving trash into the world's media pipelines.  This stuff comes into people's homes and how do you keep it out?  You can't.  You can't keep it out.  It is another form of terrorism, a more insidious form, but also a lethal form.  Islamic people conflate this secular and vulgar culture with Christianity, as it is "Western".  No, some of us are getting this garbage pushed down our throats.

I want all of these people to stay away from my children.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The 1950's, from the Internet and in Memory

I was not alive in the 1950's and my parents married just before they closed.  I played dress-up in clothes from the 50's.

My parents built a house in the early 60's and found an unexploded bomb during excavation.  The towers of the Aschaffenburg castle were still blown off, and I could still see and remember that.  When a plane flew overhead my little brother would scare our littler sister saying that it was a war plane.  I also thought that the Main merged into the Rhine at Aschaffenburg, but such were early confusions.

Later, we had some people with long hair sitting in the pedestrian zone and we called them Beatles.  All John Lennon look-alike were "Beatles".  There also were communists distributing leaflets in the pedestrian zone.  One Saturday, I distributed Christian leaflets opposite them.  I don't recall coming into discussion with them.  We practiced English and learned to play guitar singing Beatles songs and Gospel songs.

This is the extent of my brush with rebels and rebellion.  I have not taken drugs.  I have not smoked... nor have my friends.   My village and town life still resembled the pastoral, though murderous, scenes of the Father Brown murder mystery series we have just launched into on Netflix, recent BBC production.   https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father_Brown_(2013_TV_series). I am new to Father Brown, as well--but I recognize the clothes, the village, the church, the pastor.

I am surprised to find all the refugees from the world wars in both the Father Brown series and in the Hercule Poirot series.  I recognize them, too.  Our parents were refugees.

Strange then to come across American life during the time.  The post-war 50's giving birth to strange flowers, to drugs, mysticism, sexual deviance (if one is at all allowed to use the term).  Last night I came across Allen Ginsberg on Buckley's show:  https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eKBAJYceQ54

He reads a poem on air for William Buckley. I recommend watching the first and the last minute.  We laughed and I am still laughing.  There is a collision of worlds.

But we have reaped a harvest of this--inanity, self-importance, drugs, weird sex.  It has Not improved things.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Link for a Ted Talk on why someone stopped watching porn.  Very good.  I recommend watching it, as our world is awash in porn of the most disgusting kind, and the matter is not as natural and innocuous as some would pretend.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A "Beautiful Mystery"

My husband and I have never had much time to read fiction, nor had the interest.  Lately, however,we have been quite faithfully following the adventures of Mr. Poirot, Agatha Christie's detective, on Netflix, a BBC Television series produced a couple of decades ago.

We love to watch it on the big screen TV, together, and comment on the English countryside, the manners, way of life, the villages, the British faces, the vintage vehicles, trains and airplanes, as well as the featured art of the period, the cities, the islands and seasides where Mr. Poirot vacations.  The episodes are not long and the murder mystery is always neatly solved in a reasonable amount of time.  Hence, one does not get involved with undisciplined binge watching, where a series goes on and on and the matter gets ever more confoundingly and irritatingly complex. Netflix has brought us many beautiful BBC--produced stories.

Talking about Agatha Christie, she was also the first author I read for pleasure when I first arrived in Canada.  Someone had suggested her to me, as a way to practice my English, and I read several of the books, then.  I read "Murder on the Nile" and such well-known stuff.

To be honest, I think I learned most of my English after I got married to an English speaker and from listening to CBC radio.  I have been faithful to CBC radio all the years.  The quality of the language spoken is high and the topics are engaging, even if one does not agree, as happens often.

While we are on murder-mysteries, after listening to the author speak on CBC radio, very recently, I also purchased my first Canadian crime story, "A Beautiful Mystery", by Louise Penny.  As we see from the cover, it made a Bestseller list.  Of course, I had never heard of it, until I listened to the interview with Mrs. Penny.  She spoke about life and her husband's illness, how she became a writer late in life, and how she believes in "good", how she liked C.S.Lewis and "Surprised by Joy".  Probably, it was the latter comment that made me try her out.

It was a gentle book and I was grateful for that.  It even seemed a bit poddlingly boring in the beginning.  So I took it to my bedside with me, for the case that I had trouble sleeping, and it might put me back to sleep.  That does not seem like much of a recommendation but I liked that aspect of it.  In the end, I would say, I recommend it for anyone who does not need the plot to be racing along at full clip all the time.

"The Beautiful Mystery" is set in a monastery in an isolated location in Quebec.  The psychology is interesting, the chief inspector admirable, the conflicts are mostly believable. The mystery wraps up with a satisfying and unique conclusion.

The "little grey cells" are being exercised, as Mr. Poirot would say.

After this, I am getting to the books by William Buckley which have made it to my house:  "God and Man at Yale" and "Miles Gone By".

Buckley, too, wrote some murder mysteries, but I doubt I will read any of them. --Or maybe one of them someday--could be fun, if we can get our hands on one...

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Male and Female cont. / Why Plath?

Dear Blog:  I am busy.

But just this to counterbalance the previous post:

(from a friend's Facebook Post)

And how did I come upon S. Plath, the poetess?  On the same Facebook page she was mentioned a few times.  I had looked her up once in a while and learned about her life.  I was at Chapters and I bought a book of poems, with my own money--no library loan.

So, now she sits on the fireplace mantle, next to Luther and Walther devotional material.

To counterbalance the whole difficult scene, let's add this one also, from the same Facebook page:

But love, sooner or later, forces us out of time. It does not accept that limit. Of all that we feel and do, all the virtues and all the sins, love alone crowds us at last over the edge of the world. For love is always more than a little strange here. It is not explainable or even justifiable. It is itself the justifier. We do not make it. If it did not happen to us, we could not imagine it. It includes the world and time as a pregnant woman includes her child whose wrongs she will suffer and forgive. It is in the world but not altogether of it. It is of eternity. It takes us there when it most holds us here.
~ Wendell Berry 

We see here, too, that love is much about suffering and forgiving--two sides of the coin.  Marriage is fun and marriage is hard work.  

We have Love Life Conference 10, today, on "Confusion and Repentance in a Sexualized world."  You are invited.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

In memory of Sylvia Plath. For all women. Against gender-neutralism.

In memory of Sylvia Plath.  
(by me)

For all women.  Against gender-neutralism.

YOU were
my sun and shield.

(I have only begun...
and I am crying already.

And writhing.)


my sun and shield.

But not so completely glorious,
or just differently?

Maybe differently.
A mistake in the fabric,
incorporated, made beautiful.

"You adore him far too much,"
my sister said, early on.

We have known what faith and love is,
and still a knife pierces my heart.

There is only one way out.

"I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth.  In pain you will bring forth children;  yet your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you."  (The Lord.)

But is it Art?--Knitting Project

When I was young, my mother got into rug-hooking.

My father was not too enamored with it. When it was time to relax, he would rather not have had her busy with hand work.  Still she got several large and intricate carpets made.  One lies rolled up in my basement still.  We dare not discard them as they are holy relics of her and a different time, especially since she died in her early forties.

One day she talked about a comment made a couple, who were friends and neighbors and fancied themselves somewhat worldly-wise and urbane.  They had inspected her work and told her that is was not "art".

She was somewhat put off by the remark and repeated it to us.

Where is the border between art, folk art and arts and crafts?

Personally, I have always been drawn to the very simple.

Unless, it is a Bach Fugue, then I love the very complex.

Who can say?

Lately, for the love of little children, I have gotten into knitting.  The abundance of Youtube videos can help you along when you are stuck as a beginner.

It seems like art to me.  You can choose your yarn, the color, the texture, the medium.  You choose your needles size and completely determine the look.  There are an infinite number of stitch patterns to try.  Every item is unique.  And then there are all the mistakes you make.  I leave in many of my mistakes.  They should be adding to the charm of the item not having been mass-manufactured in China.

Handmade means that you can make what you want, how you want.  And you say with it something that is beyond words, like a kind of sacrament.

Made for you.
Given for you.
I love you.
Take it.
Treasure it.
Remember me.
Remember my love for you.
Cuddle up in it.
Be safe and warm.
Be comforted.

This is what I have been making.  Old Shale design.  Gumdrop yarn from Amazon. There is a big mistake in it, as you can see.  I will leave it as a special wave through.  It makes a very stretchy fabric in all directions.

Is it art?--Who cares.

Justin Trudeau won the Election

Or rather Steven Harper lost the election, this week.

I sincerely wish Justin Trudeau all the best, and pray for him, as I ought to.

Still, the overriding sensation at this point in time is a wondering what it is we have done.  This cartoon pops into my mind.  It was printed in my history class textbook, when I grew up, I think grade nine, in Germany.

The steady and hand and experienced statesman of eminent common sense and good judgement, both conservative and innovative in matters of state and personal life and security, is simply let go.

It did not turn out well, at all.  It turned out grotesquely disastrously.

Let's hope that the analogy with Bismarck is not good, though it came to mind.

Steven Harper seems serenely resigned to the loss.  He has been in government for a long time.   Maybe it is time.  Our liberals are not all fools.  They have done some important things right.  And even a conservative Prime Minister was no match for the anarchistic supreme court that seems to rule over all.  There was only so much he could do.  Perhaps, a Trudeau can rule it in.

In any case, many thanks are due to Steven Harper, who has been intelligent, conservative, formidable and honorable, governing against many odds, in minority and majority positions, with a steady head and hand, and having grown grey over it. God bless him and we thank him.

The Lord also be with Justin Trudeau, a young man for troubled times.  May he have much wisdom.

Justin Trudeau, prime minister-designate, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper  attend a ceremonial service in Ottawa on Thursday to commemorate last year's attack on Parliament Hill and the lives of Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Saturday Morning

Saturday Morning

Where to begin?

The mess in the Kitchen?
--the rum bottle and tea cups,
the plates and wrappers

The Living room?
--the yoga mat,
the wool ball, the knitting,
the magazines and newspaper,
the Bible, Luther's Annotations to Matthew,
Silvia Plath

The I-Pad
--carry on some insane argument,
read some or all of Facebook,
answer mail
watch a debate
put on some wild music to get me going

The Laundry
--on the floor, piled here and there,
drying over the machine

The Windows
--looking streaked
on this sunny day with the sun hanging low,
having been cleaned already for the winter.
How will I put up with this for six months

The Baking
--to bake or not to bake,
everyone is on a diet,
a soup would be better

FIRST OF All, a Coffee
--in the new grandmother mug
on the biggest, softest easy chair,
breathing deeply,
a kind of meditation,
or yoga

It must be a beginning

I already thought about
on my bed,
like David

I thanked him for this day

Monday, October 12, 2015

Thanksgiving 15

For the occasion of Thanksgiving 2015, I had the chance, while cooking and baking, to listen to some lengthy talks on YouTube, mostly by William Buckley, with whose work I am just occupying myself.  One long one was about all his books.  I was hoping to come to a decision about which one of the 41 I might like to read sometime.

I am leaning towards the "Miles Gone By".

The Thanksgiving holiday, and the thinking about my Grandma K., caused me to remember the pictures which hang in my house, in the staircase.

The Thanksgiving display is lovely and so is the idea of photographing it in order to hang the image up in your house.  Isn't it a wonderful thing?

My family never ate the great big green cabbages, like the one in the front.  There were all sorts of vegetables we did not eat, including tomatoes.  We had lots of cakes (and pudding) but few vegetables.  It was a regrettable thing, really.  We did eat fruit and canned fruit. -- As we see, we ate everything sweet--no wonder the sweet tooth. 

The sunflowers summarize to me, somehow, the fleetingness of everything that is summer and luscious life.  We are to God, like one of his sunflowers.  Here today, grown tall and full of splendor possibly, and gone tomorrow.  How many songwriters have picked up this theme.  The old people I sing with love this theme the most:  "Where are the beautiful days?  Where are the sleigh-rides till dawn... Where have they gone?" Or else "Yesterday.  All my troubles seemed so far away."  

Nevertheless, we have been provided for--and gratitude is the sweetest fruit of all, as well as the beginning of virtue (as a Roman orator said).  Thankfulness changes everything. 

Even Buckley wrote a book on "Gratitude."  He made of point of thanking people.
And probably God, too.

... that brings us gratitude, it’s gratitude that brings us happiness

And as Christians, we are awaiting the new dawn.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Oma K

"Halt' dich klein,
Hab' dich rein,
sei gern mit dir und Gott allein."

This is the verse my grandmother K. wrote into my poetry book.
In English:

"Think of yourself as small,
keep yourself clean,
enjoy spending time alone with God."  

It rhymes in German.

This place is where she went to church.

When I went there, with my grandfather, we left much a head of time, as it would take a long time for him to get up the mountain, and also he came early.  When we got there early, the pastor would pray with all those who served that morning, together, the organist, the elder... and me, the tag-along.  I have always appreciated since then, when the pastor has come up early into the organ loft to pray with the organist, etc.  Most of the time, the pastor says at the end.  "Thank you Brigitte for playing."  In general, I find, that I think, that pastors should pray much more with people.

Anyhow, grandmother would start out later, as she was a better walker and she always had some housework to finish up.  I guess that is the sort of thing that happens when you can actually get to church on foot. -- Or else, she was just spending time alone with God while she could.

Here is a picture of the church.  My parents were married, there, too.  The wall that runs just below it, is very old, from the middle ages, say 600 or 700 years old.

In my time, the Americans would fly practice over this mountain, 600 m high rising from the Rhine plane.  On any beautiful day, aiming to do it very low, attempting to undetected by radar.

View of the Rhine plain from one mountain over, with my cousin's daughter.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pudding / in Memory of my Grandmother K.

With all the items in my inbox this morning, ranging from American conspiracies for the Middle East, the shooting of 11 indigenous Christian missionaries in Iraq, the heroic saving of a young woman by a young man at the College shooting in Oregon...  I just want to say a word about Dr. Oetker Pudding.

You can purchase the pudding powered simply packed in thin paper in quantities of three or five, for a good price.  The sugar has not yet been added, which makes the packages smaller, cheaper to transport and therefore environmentally more friendly.

The pudding powder comes in many, many flavors and I buy mine usually at an Italian store that distributes various other European products.  The whole array of the Dr. Oetker pudding line is much superior to, for example, a Jello product, so I want to advertise it, here.

My grandmother used to make me a nut flavored pudding, which I have not seen in stores.

It must exist because it seems you can purchase this one in Istanbul, though my grandmother's wasn't chocolately like this one.

There is also a pistachio flavor:

And one with almonds:

In any case, be it in our house growing up, in my grandparents' house visiting, or cooking for my own family, a simple Dr. Oetker pudding has always been a delightful treat.  My husband, himself, is a dedicated fanatic--here we have a simple way to his heart.  Last night we cooked a caramel pudding.  I make mine in the microwave, which simplifies the procedure and clean-up--no more scorched bottoms of the pot, as in the old days.

But today, I am remembering my grandmother.  I saw her often, but I don't know very much about her.  She had a twin sister, not identical, whom I had only met a couple of times.  She got up early to start the fires in all the little briquette ovens in the house.  She did not like innovation in technology.  She steadfastly resisted all improvements.

She always said that she loved all food--that she had cooked herself.

The other thing she made me was a soup from a stock that came from a tube.  It also was incredibly delicious.

She had long silver hair which she braided and laid in a knot in the back.  My other grandmother did the same thing. She wore sensible dresses and shoes, very decent in darker colors.

She always knew who had lately died, as they were in the demographic.  People were always dropping in, as my grandfather was an elder in the congregation.  They brought boxes of European chocolates and wine, which always lay around the house, and we got into them (--the chocolate, not the wine.)

There were many fruit trees and fruit-bearing bushes around the house.  We would go pick from them, eat them or bring in plate-fulls for the grandparents to appreciate.

The red currents went particularly well with the vanilla pudding.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The fear of the word "flock"/ Hitchens

In watching the video of Christopher Hitchens' last public appearance, before his anticipated death of cancer, with Richard Dawkins (I don't know why I watch all that stuff), I noted his emphasis on the horror of the word "flock".  Being in a "flock" is the worst part of being "religious", he said with a shudder.  He and Dawkins and other people present were "free thinkers", in contrast, that is they are rational beings.  Which I guess makes all the rest of us irrational beings.

I am afraid that the whole affair looked terribly self-congratulatory.  Dawkins praised Hitchens as the most learned of all men he has met, (and he has met many learned men, since he lives in Oxford) --Someone who can quote and adduce references, at lightening speed.  They called each other brothers and sisters and hugged.  Hitchens had trouble speaking and cut himself somewhat short, not wanting to stand between the assembled and their refreshments, the bar and entertainments.

They looked like quite a "flock" to me, birds of a feather all flocked together. The congregation of free-thinkers, in convention, praising themselves.  Sort of the same as other flocks, only prouder. 

Something else, in this connection:  http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Sophisticated_theology

From a Facebook friend:  Atheists celebrating their own ignorance.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

10th Annual Love Life Conference / Edmonton

The 10th Annual Love Life Conference, 
at Concordia University, Edmonton, will be held on Oct. 31st.

Here is the website with all the information.

The theme is:  

"Fix your Eyes on Jesus.  Remorse and Confusion in a Sexualized World."

Douthat and W.F.Buckley

One day, I saw a man, Ross Douthat, make excellent comments on a show on Youtube.  Then I bought his book "Bad Religion.  How we became a Nation of Heretics."   A very good, quick, sensible read, it turned out to be.  Then I bought his book about Harvard University and the Privilege of the Ruling Class.  This also was a fantastic read.

In the end of the book on his Harvard education, Douthat describes his internship at the National Review Magazine, where he rubbed shoulders with William Buckley Junior, (of whom I had never heard.)  He even spent a weekend with Buckley at his house and sailing a large boat, together with another young intern.

Someone I know called Buckley a "formidable" debater and sent me to watch the video of the debate with Mr. Baldwin on whether the American dream was built on the back of the Negro.  I watched it twice.  Since then, I have also watched the discussions with several other notable men on Buckley's TV show, and have started into the apparently famous series of debates with Gore Vidal, (of whom I had never heard, either.)

This debate watching is seemingly becoming an obsession with me.  But! We discover that there is a movie "The Best of Enemies" made about these last debates, and was released only this summer.  I would like to find a place to view this movie without purchasing a DVD.

Rotten Tomatoes gives "The Best of Enemies" 4.5 stars out of 5.  The critics' consensus is:

Smart, fascinating, and funny, Best of Enemies takes a penetrating 

-- and wildly entertaining -- look back at the dawn of pundit politics.

<b>Best of Enemies</b>’ Trailer Brings Heated Debate Into Theaters

I feel like I could watch these debates over and over.  There seems to be so much more verbal skill than we see displayed nowadays.  Not only are we lacking in arguments and verbal skills, many seem to feel fully justified to employ plain insults, arrogance, jihads and violence.  In all sorts of places, the "rational" people demean average citizens who don't share their point of view. As some other people have put it, only "intellectuals" could be so out of touch, harsh, immoral and out in left field.  It is tiresome and I hope we are soon done with this imbecility.

Ross Douthat has another book on American Politics. -- And then there are all sorts of books by William Buckley.  I think I will put Buckley's "God and Man at Yale" on my list to purchase.  My husband would enjoy it, too.  Gene Veith has written much about the influence of the "elites", but Buckley and Douthat seem to be closer to the scene.

I have not been particularly fond of American punditry, news, wars, movies, finding much so very brash and violent, as well as domineering, thinking the world revolves around them, but I have enjoyed the books and the videos mentioned here.

Buckley's "enemies" are also very interesting people.  One can learn much about recent history and how it affects current times by seeing their points of view explored in depth.

Knitted a little hat for our five and a half pounder

Presenting the little peanut with hat by grandma.  Luckily, it fits really well.  58 stitches round, with crochet at the bottom.  The adornment at the top, is a little crocheted, purple flower, the first one I ever made and without using Youtube instruction, as I forgot my I-pad, at work. Baby gained 100 gr. in its first week, eating like a little piglet.

Other than that, I am reading Luther's "Annotations to Matthew", which just came out in English. He was very embarrassed that people insisted on publishing them, even without his permission, as the draft is so very rough--does not bother me.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Baby Girl Grandchild has arrived

Our little baby girl grandchild arrived on the weekend per unscheduled c-section and a little ahead of schedule.  All is well and the family was allowed to go home already.  We are most pleased, excited and happy.

As you can see, the weather is still lovely here.  The fall has been spectacular. Below a part of the the Royal Alexandra hospital where grandbaby was born.