Honestly, it could have been the death of me. Now that we have winter, and the need arises to find different ways to exercise, my friend invited me to aquasize.
It snowed plenty overnight, and I take myself onto the road to head to the indoor swimming pool in town, which I have spurned for several years now. In my bag are some watershoes that I have been using in my house for flexible foot movement and utilizing all 33 foot joints, as is recommended by my yoga teacher. So far so good. The watershoes are coming in handy as they will also help keep me safe on the deck of the pool which can be slippery. It is sensible to get a bit more cautious with "advancing age" (cough, cough).
It turns out that with the snowfall, the road is rather treacherous as the rear end of the truck swings out at the three-way stop, then the big intersection at the highway, and the several other left-turns I have to navigate every so slowly. This town happens to have a lot of freight-truck traffic rumbling through it, frightening me as I try to steer my little, slip-sliding vehicle. Has there been no sanding, yet, today?
I get to the pool, and into the water five minutes late but safe. One surely needs to budget more time for this sort of expedition, this time of year.
The ladies--an no men, by the way--are already busy with their warm-up exercises, jumping, splashing, turning. I am finding that the watershoes are marvelous; they cushion the blow of the heel coming down on the pool bottom, and I can feel the whole foot planting on surface which gives a good calf stretch every time the foot goes down. Well, now that we are comfortable, we can try to follow along with what the teacher is doing. My friend seems to have no trouble and I can always ask her and follow her. The instructor's voice is piercing above the noise of the water splashing. She sounds like Bernadette in the Big Bang Theory. My goodness, the poor soul is straining her voice.
Now, that I have sort of figured out what to do, I can have a look around at the other ladies. Most of them have grey hair and seem very cheerful. In fact, a good many of them are having animated discussions with their friends over top of the intrepidly, screeching instructor--and the music, and their exercising. They are laughing and sharing the latest stories. I can hear words floating by such as "gall bladder", "pregnancy", "wedding". Some of them wear crosses. I am beginning to think that the entire Catholic ladies' aid is in aquasize, today.
At the 35 min mark, even the instructor lets herself be distracted to throw in something about someone's premature labor and delivery, the baby coming out with some sort of suction machine and having a rash. Or maybe the mother had a rash. Whatever. I suppose this is better for the women than having a coffee clatch and just sitting around, as they are using their time rather efficiently. At the 37 min. mark, a lady next to me, not grey but sporting a beautiful hair coloring job, starts to complain about her full bladder, and having to decide whether to go to the bathroom or not, since it may not be worth her while, at this point in the class. I decide to encourage her, though I have no experience with this yet. I tell her, that it will take her one minute to get to the bathroom, one minute to go to the bathroom, and one minute to get back in the water. She goes.
All the while, some men and women have been floating more or less without moving, in the deep end wearing flotation belts or using pool noodles. I am not sure what good it is doing them to float like that except that the easing of the pressure on the joints might be pleasant. They make and odd sight, I suppose like the rest of us. Perhaps, there are a variety of mobility issues.
In the very end, we all settle comfortably into the hot tub sharing more stories. This hot-tub-sitting takes me back to a holiday we had this summer in Iceland. It happens that Iceland Air flies from Edmonton to Europe via Keflavic Airport near Reykjavik and offers longer lay-overs for travellers, at no extra cost. On the way, there, and back, I watched several Icelandic movies, getting to know more about the lifestyle in Iceland. We spent two days touring Reykjavik and environs. In a way, the Icelanders and we Albertans share this treacherous, cold weather, with the difference that they have natural hot springs absolutely everywhere since they are living on a fault-line, where the European plate meets the North American plate. They have pools in every corner of the city and all over the place, they love to soak in. Well, at least, in my cold, icy Alberta town, situated very much right on the North American plate, we intrepid northerners also have our public indoor pool, even though we may have to gather our courage to make our way to it.
Where I live, we are already deep in the winter season, on November 10. We are reminded that it is Martin Luther's birthday, today. As we know, he was named for St. Martin, whose feast day we have tomorrow, the day Luther was baptized. (Babies were quickly baptized in times when neonatal death was more common.) As children in Bavaria, we had very memorable St. Martin's day celebrations in the evening with lantern trains, bonfires and reenactment of St. Martin sharing his coat with a poor man.
I just feel like posting some pictures we took in Wittenberg, this summer during the "Kichentag" (church day/convention). We enjoyed a tremendous month in Germany, this year.
Thanks be to God for the rediscovery of the Gospel, and the passing of it down all the way to our generation, and to me. It is the most precious thing in all the world, the pearl of great price. With our deeds we can accomplish nothing. The Spirit of God does all the work, by pointing us to Christ and leading us to faith. And before that, we must realize that we cannot keep the law, that we are all worthless and have gone astray. This is the truth.
Thank you Father, for loving even me in Christ who bore our weaknesses and sins. We live in the great hope of the communion in heaven and on earth, when we will see face to face. And our hearts are glad. A mighty fortress is our God. We do not fear. One little word can fell the enemy though he he is crafty and on the prowl. The kingdom ours remaineth...
Most of all the enemy wants to tear the word of God out of our hands and out of our hearts. We need to be firm and vigilant and plant ourselves on the clear promise of the Lord, for which we praise him. Amen.
In clearing out some files in my old filing cabinet, I had come across some interesting articles that were required reading for a philosophy of education course I had taken eons ago.
In the clearing out process, there remained a little pile of articles on Paulo Freire, that I caught my attention and I wanted to read again, which I managed to do this evening.
Freire seems to be a mixture of liberation Catholic, revolutionary, educator of adults for literacy, Marxist dialectician, critic of traditional arrangements, colonialism and promoter of just society helper of the poor and oppressed. There seems to be a little Freire for everyone, and certainly I can find a lot of places where I sympathize with him, from what I can glean.
Never having lived in conditions of poverty myself, I can probably not grasp the breadth and depth of his passion and vision. I have been to northern Canadian aboriginal reserves that might provide some similar conditions. There was hunger, poor education, despair and isolation. My father was a refugee, and I know terrible conditions from stories told in the family. I am only one generation away from the family having had nothing and running for their lives. But the family was not spiritually dead or impoverished, partly because the great works had been passed down, because people knew things by heart and because they were Christians. There, I disagree with Freire's emphasis on letting go of what he calls "banking" education. This is a grave mistake. And also Dewey was wrong on a lot of things. (This is why we have American presidents who can't speak English, in the land of sects.)
However, as a Lutheran, I also see that in some sense Freie is a "Lutheran". Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther posted theses to be debated that highlighted the oppression of the church by the Roman Catholic hierarchy. A great revolution of sorts resulted. Humanistic education and freedoms of the university, literacy, including biblical literacy, a proper care of souls in the congregation and social assistance were brought about.
Portuguese Catholicism may have brought something to Brazil, that Freire knew in his day that was wrong, but that had been let go in other places quite some time before. But bringing in a type of Marxist communism or National Socialism (Nazi's), any sort of leader-focused revolution toppling existing orders of society have proven to be some of the most oppressive systems ever invented by man. The next elite fights its way to the top, inevitably quite quickly to oppress now without conscience or impediment. We did not know some particular horrors before these leaders and revolutionaries invented them in their great reflective creativity. They became monsters. We must see this with clear eyes. There is something very wrong with the theories. We may let go of Catholic hierarchy and of edicts from Rome and councils, but as Luther said, we must not let go of the word of God. Where we abandon it, we get into deep trouble. In some places, a Catholic political party has stood in the way of oppressive alternatives. There are all sorts of scenarios.
The poor we always have with us, and we should deeply involve ourselves in the troubles and needs of this world and our neighbors. This is true. Love cannot just be a word or theory. Freire is right, there. But some of the centuries old Reformation ideas already came to grips with some of these issues without jettisoning what was right from before. It was a conservative revolution.
In briefly checking the history of Brazil on Wikipedia, I see that it interestingly concludes with this point about the changing religious landscape:
Until recently Catholicism was overwhelmingly dominant. Rapid change in the 21st century has led to a growth in secularism (no religious affiliation). Just as dramatic is the sudden rise of evangelical Protestantism to over 22% of the population. The 2010 census indicates that fewer than 65% of Brazilians consider themselves Catholic, down from 90% in 1970. The decline is associated with falling birth rates to one of Latin America’s lowest at 1.83 children per woman, which is below replacement levels. It has led Cardinal Cláudio Hummes to comment, "We wonder with anxiety: how long will Brazil remain a Catholic country?"
If I get around to it, I would like to read more about his ideas on adult education and literacy.
This fall, I am privileged to spend some time teaching music to families with young children, again.
My husband and I have begun accumulating a little library of books with songs, for young children. There is a book series we enjoy tremendously. The songs are adapted by John M. Feierabend, with very creative artwork from various artists to add illustration and give fodder for discussion with children.
Our little toddler knows each book by the title and knows all the songs. Every time she comes over, she pulls these books out for Opa to sing to her. Opa has never had so much fun in his life. The first one we purchased was "The Tailor and the Mouse." We love it especially for the tune in Aeolian minor tonality and its bouncy rhythm, all while the poor mouse has to live through several stunning adventures.
Which brings me to a new little children's illustrated song-book from Concordia Publishing House.
I also bought it on Amazon, due to Amazon's efficient way of finding books for me...
Thank you, to Martin Luther for writing the hymn. Thank you to Karyn Lukasek for her illustrations, and thank you to the Publisher. This is a great addition to our well-used children's illustrated song book shelf.
Below, also see Grandma's music studio supplies and reachable bookshelves for self-service for little people.
On the internet... I have met people who have considered all matters in the light of "Power" and power-plays. Generally, I flatter myself with the opinion that I don't have this mindset but seek out the freedom of Christ for every person through the work of the Spirit of God. We don't have power over each other. Our relationships are ordered by our relationship to Christ.
One thing that happened to me online was that if you discuss something about the Lutheran Reformation, some thought pops into the thread about how Luther exerted his power by blaming the victims ("victim-blaming being a great injustice in the world, no doubt, but some like to find victims everywhere through so-called "consciousness-raising" and then we get the favorite victim of the day.) --That person has lost complete sight of how the Reformation freed all sorts of people from dominion that was oppressive and corrupt.
Some of these people on-line mentioned a book, that seemed to a sort of Bible to them, called "The 48 Laws of Power". Here it is.
In the end, you guessed it, I succumbed to the temptation and bought it. It sat on the shelf for a while, as it is quite a thick and thorough anthology, though broken down into many manageable sections. Overall, it reminds of Machiavelli's "The Prince".
The introduction explores why a person might be interested in reading this type of book and what might be gleaned for various purposes.
Lately, I have begun to tackle the book, being at the moment about half through, by reading a little bit every evening as an aid to going to sleep. This is not meant to be derogatory, but the heavy stuff, in small bites, as presented, allows the cognition to switch from the troubles of the day to the ideas presented which can be quite knotty but in story format. There is something for the brain to chew on. Meanwhile, the body says: "Enough of all that." And the eye-lids get so heavy. It's perfect for that. After one more story, you decide that you have had it for the day.
As to the contents, as I am chewing on it in bite-sizes, it does furnish nutritious food for thought. Certainly, it is not the stuff my parents taught me, my teachers taught me, but maybe life has taught me through experience and observation. There is certainly truth here to be witnessed to. Some of the anecdotes are even from the Bible.
Literary-wise, the stories are also valuable and engaging reading coming from some great books. So, while one may not wish to employ the stratagems discussed here, even some Biblical ones, we recall the words of our Lord Christ, who taught us to be as wise as serpents but innocent as doves. Also, he tells a parable to explain how the world works and manipulates matters to its favor. In this manner of being wise and observant, we can profitably study a book like the "Laws of Power", I think. In some ways, I must admit, that at this late date, some coins are dropping in my head, looking back on some decades now... Still, we pray the Lord preserve us from manipulation and cruelty.
A book from my own library came across my path. The author is the well known Joerg Zink, theologian, poet, activist. Along with poems it features lovely nature photography. The tittle is "More Than Three Wishes" ("Mehr als drei Wuensche")
We received it from an Aunt and Uncle, as per signature on the front page, and I am guessing, they gave it when Stefan was suddenly taken from us.
At this present time, I am considering passing it on to a relative in Germany who has taken seriously ill with a brain tumor.
But before I pass it on, I have to quickly read it again. :)
This is a poem that caught my attention:
"Was ich dir wuensche?
Nicht, dass du
der schoenste Baum bist,
der auf dieser erde steht.
dass du jahraus, jahrein
leuchtest von blueten
an jedem Zweig.
Aber dass dann und wann
an irgendeinem Ast
eine Bluete aufbricht,
dass dann und wann
etwas Schoenes glingt,
ein Wort der Liebe
ein Herz findet,
das wuensche ich dir."
Along with the poem we find a picture of tree branches that are very bare, except for scattered, scarlet irregular blosssoms.
Here it is in English translation (mine).
"What is my wish for you?
Not, that you are the very most beautiful tree,
that stands on this earth.
that you shine,
year after year,
on every branch,
but that from time to time,
on any branch,
a blossom opens up,
that, from time to time,
something Beautiful succeeds,
that at times,
a Word of Love,
finds a heart,
--that is, what I wish for you."
It almost makes me cry because it so humble, yet profound in its aspirations, a prayer, a hope, slim or wide, taking into account all the suffering and frailties we experience in a lifetime...
The language, too, is humble. It reminds us of the fairy tales with three wishes for oneself, but here someone has a wish for someone else, for that person to receive and give some things of beauty and love, any thing, any time, any place.
This morning, I read quickly through all the theses, realizing how the indulgence trade sparked the reformation debate. The indulgence sale for the sins of those in purgatory, was the opposite to the Christian faith, a perversion, a greater one could not be imagined. The sheep were being fleeced while deprived of pastoral care, without the preaching of repentance and faith in Christ. A wolf was pretending to be shepherd. The indulgence salesman was authorized by the papacy.
Former critics had been put to death. Savonarola, Hus, were the first martyrs of the Reformation, even before Luther came along. He, too, was to be killed, but he lived, and wrote, and spoke, and argued, and set the world on fire for freedom in Christ who is the true Lord and lover of the church.
I love here, the reversal of how the gospel makes the first, last, and indulgences make the last, to be first. The Gospel is a reversal, but indulgences reverse the reversal: the ones with the most money to spend can make it into heaven the fastest. The closest to the ecclesiastical levers of power, can even be the ones to profit from it all monetarily. It was as sick, as sick could be. And how does Luther go about it? He writes and calls for debate.
"The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." The church of the day, asked the sheep to lay down their lives for the false shepherds.
1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.
62. The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.
63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last.
64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.
94. Christians are to be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death, and hell;
95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations, rather than through the false assurance of peace.
Blogging is such a thing, pro's and con's. On one hand, it lets you get stuff off your chest, and vocalize what moves you. On the other hand, it seems to become too easy to just complain and oppose, and that about many and various things. So.
Lately, we observed, that families fall apart. A wife moves out with the children or the man is kicked out. One or both partners find new partners, and the children live with a step-parent. It so then turns out, that a man lives with a woman and her children (they don't actually get married but talk about their "fiance"), and somewhere else the father lives in another new family. Both men will be required to pay spousal and child support. So in each household, money flows out to another household, and money flows in from another household. You would think, all could be considered well, but obviously, the parents are living in biblical sin, and the children are mostly separated from their fathers.
There are many sides here that could be discussed, but one we talked about over dinner was, that in the end effect the money ends up in the mothers' hands to support the children, whereas before, the fathers, unfortunately, especially in Alberta, might have spent the money on "drugs and trucks". Many a fellow made a lot of money in the oil patch, and was--sadly--gone from home a lot. And so it went. Such are some everyday tragedies that happen in these parts.
There has always been something particularly festive and beautiful about white linen. Not only is it very clean and bright, it signals a special occasion and joy, also seriousness, decorum and good manners.
For Canadian Thanksgiving, yesterday, I had decided to reconfigure my little living/dining room to be able to seat 12 people and also be able to remove the tables again. I ended up with using five bistro tables from IKEA--two I owned already, and purchased three more. To cover them, I cut in half several white table cloths in my stash.
(I used to own some monographed heirloom linen, passed down through the generations from unknown individuals. They were incredibly tough and irregular, the real item, something everybody should have a chance to handle once with their own hands.)
So, in the end, I had five tables covered in white. Afterwards I realized that my meal might stain the cloths fairly permanently, with the type of sauces I had chosen to make. I almost opted to run to Home Hardware to get some custom size vinyl covers. But no, vinyl covers ruin the whole effect. NO, no, no, no, no. We will see how it goes.
OF COURSE, we ended up with some spicy red stains on the table cloths. Thanks to our trusty new programmable washing machines these days, I could choose a nice long, very hot wash with extra long spin cycle, etc. All, said, by washing the cloths hard and adding some bleach, they came out beautifully white and shiny, again. --Whew.
My husband asked me about the cloths, afterward, as I folded them after drying. "How did the stains come out?" I said to him: "This is the beauty of white. You can wash it like crazy, add the bleach, and voila, it is white again."
You can always clean and bleach white again.
All of which reminded me of the multitude of Saints who are before the throne dressed in white. It is a white that has been given them, by the lamb, through trials and tribulations. There is nothing easy about this white. And it needs tough rewashing all the time. It needs very hot water, and lots of tumbling, to get the stains out. It is a beautiful and costly white, but one that can always be recovered again. Such, also is our life.
We have arrived in some sort of post-cognitive age. It's not pretty.
We are supposed to relax and meditate and stop thinking. Fine. Sometimes, it's good to just be quiet. But this has become the "answer" to everything.
Oh, sometimes, they "pray" for things to "just go away". Yes, right. If we just breathe, maybe things will just go away. Actually, no, mostly they won't. The problem will stick around and get worse and worse. And then you will take some marijuana, which will now be legal, and everything will be better. No, it won't.
Funny, everyone is trying to get us to learn to think, think from a free and clear mind, unencumbered by history and moral teachings. But I think we just end up breathing and smoking, and maybe go to a demonstration, to which they have a counter-demonstration, and everyone just breathes fire. Then they can go and just meditate and breathe after that. Oh, they may have some free sex from the gender-fluid life, in between.
If you have some actual points to make about something, you will be derided as "not loving", as "unkind", as "rude", as "aggressive", or possibly "micro-aggressive." That seems to be the flip-side of the the just stay cool and breathe message. Breathe, stop thinking, stop talking, stop arguing, stop saying what you think or believe. The more they breathe and smoke, the less you are allowed to say something to them or discuss any actual problems.
Someone, I know, is praying right now (I don't know to whom), that his problems will just go away. He has messed up his family life, messed up his financial life, messed up his health, and he is hoping his problems are just going to vaporize. It does not work that way. Denial has never yet solved a problem. Shouting down those with unpleasant messages, has not yet solved anything. You are in trouble. Big trouble. You do need a plan. There are consequences to stupid decisions. There are also consequences to doing nothing and saying nothing. Often, we are just talking about not wanting to be responsible for anything.
I looked up Mandy Hale, whose quote I pasted above. She seems to be a lovely, young woman, who can't seem to nail down a relationship with a man, and makes a living giving dating advice. I suppose this just happened to her: her relationships don't go anywhere and voila she has found a lucrative calling. How nice. I don't want to put her down, but the women in my life who are ready for marriage and who are committed Christians and solid in many ways, have married and found permanent and lasting relationships. What kind of dating advice can Mandy Hale really give: breathe...
Then there is this guy on Youtube: "How Yoga ruined my life". It's a misleading title. But hey, I clicked on it, and he made income from the advertisement I watched. Really, he wants to tell you, that he found his calling being a yoga teacher. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyX6_todmrg Here, I am sending you to it. He will make a little bit more money. He is going to be a teacher, who teaches you nothing but to relax, and he will make money from this message. We are indeed, hopeful idiots and people can sell us anything that is easy.
Decades ago, I learned a song our religion class teacher asked us memorize. The German language text is further down, with a link to the melody with chords.
"The field is white, the the full ear of the grain is bowing down, to show honor to its Maker. They call: Come Reaper, the the sickle ring! Let the praise of our Lord sound loudly."
This is an amazing verse. It has echoed in my mind over the years.
There is the picture of the harvest. The ear of grain and the honor of God have the same sound in German: "Aehre" and "Ehre". The grain, the harvest give honor and sound like honor. They are the same. And they give honor as they are ready to be cut down by the reaper. This is the harvest we bring in in the fall and the harvest of souls that belongs to the Lord, Almighty. He has a reaper with a sickle, our death. Wow. I have never harvested a grain field. I don't know what ringing sickles sound like. Hm. The ringing stands for the singing of praise.
"One year, All Gracious, you let it grow, until the seed ripened for us, which will nourish us. Now you grant it to us and we gather in the gift. From you comes all that we have." "Your glory remains to all eternity. May your arms always accompany us with protection. May the praise of our lips please you! With joy we sing of all your works!"
Das Feld ist weiß, die Ähren all sich neigen,
um ihrem Schöpfer Ehre zu bezeigen.
Sie rufen: Schnitter, laßt die Sicheln schallen
und unsers Herren Lob laut widerhallen!
Ein Jahr, Allgüt'ger, ließest du es währen,
bis uns gereift die Saat, die uns soll nähren.
Nun du sie spendest, sammeln wir die Gabe.
Von deiner Huld kommt alle unsre Habe.
Dein Ruhm besteh in alle Ewigkeiten!
Uns Arme wolle stets dein Schutz begleiten!
Laß unsrer Lippen Dank dir wohlgefallen!
Fröhlich wir singen deinen Taten allen.
September has arrived and it is getting a little cooler. The aspen are sporting yellow leaves even without there having been any frost, as yet. I love the fall if we can hang on to the colorful leaves for a while and the storms don't forcefully blow them all off. Our Northern Alberta apples have turned red and are extremely tasty. We can eat them right off the tree, sparing us the purchases from the grocery store.
It is a time to take some stock. Where has the summer gone; what did we do with it. What are the plans for the winter and what are the plans for further down the road; God willing, there will be time further down the road. Sometime one thinks that the time is getting short.
Which brings me to a word that I have heard several times lately--it is the word "legacy". What kind of "legacy" are you leaving? What kind of "legacy" are you building? What kind of "legacy" has someone left? The word jars me. For one thing it jars me because I am not used to hearing it. How has it become fashionable? It also jars me because it speaks of accomplishment and pride and reputation.
I have mixed feelings about it. As a Christian, I don't think in terms of "legacy". I think in terms of "faithfulness." Did we do the right thing? Did we persevere in trials? Did we honor God's glory before ours? Did we acknowledge God's grace and help in any or all accomplishments? Did we wish to serve before wishing to shine? But also, did we manage to be productive and rule a household well and pass on the faith to succeeding generations, or if we did not have our own household, did we manage to contribute to other people's lives and hopes. It is in this way that we "build a legacy".
But it seems to me that people apply the word in myriad different ways. Some seem to mean: "Since there is no eternal life, let me live on in people's hearts." Some seem to mean: "Let me be a progressive activist, so I can think that I have helped change the world for better (by destroying bourgeois values of family, etc.)". Some mean: "Let me rise in my profession and career, amass a little fortune, and have something to show for myself." Some of these things have some value. (Some not.) However, in a strictly atheistic view, it is hard to determine any meaning or value in anything, at all, theoretically speaking. In actual fact, no one can live without meaning. So what is the meaning behind the word "legacy" for them? It is a good question. We should ask them about it when they use the word "legacy."
Two more weekends! We are on the marathon to finish a summer full of events such as weddings, wedding anniversaries, birthdays and family reunions. To make it busier, I have been engaged to play piano and organ at some of these.
Overlaid over all this celebrating was all the world-wide political turmoil, and this reminds me of Jesus' saying, that he will come like a thief in the night while people are busy doing their business, getting married... Even Luther said, in any case, if he knew ahead of time, he would still plant that apple tree, do what he loved.
Nevertheless, as we know, man is like the grass, here today, fresh and green, and gone tomorrow. I did feel very mortal this summer. I did lose some sleep worrying over Korea and the new missiles. Fall will come and after seasons or weddings and anniversaries come seasons of funerals and losses. But please not such a horror as we can imagine.
We've been reading Romans, at home, and it helped me. One, if Abraham is the father of faith believing that from death can come new life, so can we. And also, if Christ died for all of us, we can die, too. We shall, by God's grace, follow in their footsteps, dying and rising.
It has happened to me lately, that people who profess to profess Nothing, have written off anyone who believes Something, as "divisive", "stupid", and "full of phobias".
When they have said this to me, directly, to the face, as a confessing Christian/Lutheran, even though I have tried to treat them with consideration and care, have fed them, given them free lessons, helped their children--even though they profess to believe Nothing--I don't think they really have thought about what they are doing to the interpersonal relationship in the community we actually live in.
As Jesus said: "Father forgive them, they don't know what they are doing." He said this while they were nailing him to the cross. I don't think they have really thought about it.
We must note, however, that they have made it very easy for themselves. They don't know what you believe, don't want to know what you believe, don't want to know the reasons why, don't want to know how these beliefs contrast with others, they only know one thing: they are better because the confess Nothing.
It is really quite a magic trick. By a slight of hand you can accuse others of everything and anything, and absolve yourself of everything and anything, even "without" "religion".
I mean, even the famous Dalai Lama, sits and smiles and wishes everyone the best, but condemns monotheistic religions and anyone who has a God with "attributes."
Or the other day, Pope Francis, in the name of global citizenship, critiques all conservative American Protestants and their Roman Catholic supporters. Somehow, he expects American Roman Catholics to have no political views, all the while he meddles in American affairs by commenting.
Of course, nobody professes Nothing. The Dalai Lama advocates acquiescence but campaigns for Tibet. The Pope has his own political ideas, just not in line with a number of conservatives in the world or his curia. The friendly atheist is about as fervent as anyone can come in his non-ideology. And indeed, he is rarely friendly, by the way, but I don't think he sees it.
It is one thing to accuse someone of some real faults, and there we all should have our ears opened. We all have major issues. And as Paul and Jesus point out to us all, there is not one righteous. (Read the Sermon on the Mount, and also the Letter to the Romans.) (Not a single one. Not you. And not me.) Fine. I certainly confess exactly that, that I am not righteous, but only that my Lord is righteous. But when someone is accused of stupidity, just because he believes Something, we have someone acting as an accuser who would like to be righteous on his own terms.
Just to mention: I don't follow Roman Catholic teachers and bishops, but someone sent me these two links to Cardinal Meisner. They were very interesting and somewhat edifying, but they are in the German language. In one of them Cardinal Meisner recounts the events of his life under dictatorships and expulsion from Silesia. Since my father and his family was expelled from Silesia, and many ethnic Germans where I live in Canada have refugee background, this was important to me, touchingly and well told.
I enjoyed the sermon at the funeral when it focused on adoration of God and how we become important and human to each other when we adore God. It reminded me of Bonhoeffer's "Life Together", where he shows that we don't live to manipulate each other, but that we are brothers and sisters to each other in Christ, and only in Christ. Jesus is with us and between us. All of this made me push harder to have evening devotions with my husband, he and I now being our own little home congregation of two.
In speaking about the expulsion from Silesia, Meisner points out, how many people had to go through heroic efforts to get their families out alive in severe winter weather, traveling the roads and relying on help from strangers. His group survived intact, but we also know of plenty of tragedies. These things are hardly treated in the media and history telling, which is unfortunate, he observes. Yes, spoken like a Silesian.
He also tells stories about being Catholic in East Germany and contrasts his approach to Angela Merkel's. He explains how he was moved to Cologne from Berlin, by the Pope, against his own wishes to remain in Communist Germany to bloom where he is planted, so to speak. He obviously was a thorn in a few people's sides, but he always considered this a good sign--it meant to him that he was on the right path.
So much about that, but now I have the links here.
Dear Blog: I have neglected you for three months. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, the world seems to be going from bad to worse, and I really did not want to write about it since everyone can read about it for themselves, though it does seem that quite a few have their heads in the sand, not bothering with much besides themselves. Nevertheless, there are many things that worry many of us, from North Korea, to Trump, to Trudeau, to transgender-ism pushed on little children, to the persecution of Christians around the world, and so on. But I want to leave all that alone. It is a vale of tears, and one day our Lord will sort it all out... We pray, and vote and discuss where it makes sense to.
The second reason is that we have managed to go on holiday to Germany for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. This kept us busy, but I can write some things about that, which could be interesting and which might be fun for me to reflect upon. I also picked up some cookbooks and maybe I will post some recipes and things I've tried. I have mostly given up on dialectics and discussions, as they have seemed mostly fruitless. Maybe the men should hash it out among themselves. Let the fighting-cocks keep going at it forever, and ever. I have promised myself to stop wasting my time.
I do want to write some things because I am finding that after three months of summer fun, I need to pull some of my thoughts together. We started bullet journal-ling in our home, one for him and one for me, which has helped us tremendously in staying focused and in touch with each other about items for the calendar or shopping, etc. In the back, I write some some thoughts, but mostly, I let some other people write thoughts in it. This has been fun, but it is not reading and blogging.
I seriously do recommend the bullet journaling to everyone, as we are pulled in so many directions these days, and it can really help you put your mind to things. Seriously. My bullet journal is a pink Leuchtturm. I love the feel of the paper and after all this typing we have been doing since the advent of the internet, I truly adore the feeling of paper between my fingers. Adore. The Leuchtturm paper is buttery and luxurious and such a thrill.
The other day, on the Saturday before Easter, to be precise, and this matters, I was driving around finishing the last shopping for the holiday, or rather "Holy Day". As I used to do often, I was listening to the CBC talk radio.
However, judging by the radio programming, there was no such thing as a holy week, or holy day. A beautiful, warm, practiced, professional baritone read out an article highlighting the evils of toys that are pink or blue.
The whole experience was somewhat jarring, except we are now getting used to this sort of propaganda and lecturing at all corners. Some of us still remember having home-made toys from various brown-colored things, such as thread spools, wood, hay, straw, and so on. We had puppets that had clothes of all colors: kings, queens, devils, crocodiles, jester... things that belonged into any stock puppet play. Perhaps, it was inappropriate that the devil was red, and the queen had a red gown, made by my grand-mother, that the princess was pretty and the jester looked crazy. Whatever.
According to the article read out so beautifully, professionally, during the 50's and 60's, or when-ever, in America, or where-ever, with commercialization the boy's toys became blue and the girl's toys became pink. Perhaps, our set was lucky to escape this sort of commercialization somehow. The evil involved with this, however, was that girls were somehow conditioned to become domesticated.
Aha, here we have it. From experience, I must say that I have worked in childcare settings and in pre-school settings, and I have noticed that the little girls like to play house in the kitchen set no matter what color it is. They imitate their parents, if not their mothers. These days, they perform all plastic kitchen set duties with a pretend plastic phone squeezed between their ears and shoulder. They are already learning that women must multi-task rather than really attend to the baby. Maybe that is the really sad part.
Anyways, as I am driving around and listening to the sanctimony from the CBC radio, I wow again to give up listening to the CBC, as they are not increasing my Easter devotion, (which is something it could have attempted to do and used to do through music selections, and such). (These days, I only take in the six o'clock world radio news over the dinner housework, in order avoid all the transgender stories, such as "a man who is transgender is a pianist and he/she--I forget--hates the shape of his/her hands, as they don't match his/her image of himself/herself. There is way too much of that sort of thing, endlessly. I hope CBC reads this, as I was always a loyal listener and deeply appreciative of its services.)
Nevertheless, I did make a discovery the other day at the second hand store. I donate and sometimes pick up little things, there, like books or toys. Lo and Behold, within 5 min., on one shelf, the whole Boy and Girl thing displayed itself before me quite vividly and tangibly: 1. a little wooden treasure chest from the Grand Canyon for "boys", a book of prayers for "boys", and a book of stories for "girls".
Well, well, well. For some reason, I was completely spared this sort of phenomenon. How is it possible? Was it the non-commercialized childhood I enjoyed? We had a children's Bible with a brown linen cover and hardly any pictures, and they were not in color. We had a similar thick tome of Grimm's Fairy Tales, unabridged and uncensored with hardly any pictures, but in color. We played outside and did our own thing. Our Mom's tended the kitchen, and since they had children, the Dad's helped. We had a Lego train set and we all played with with. And so on.
The first time I ever felt excluded from an activity as a girl was when we visited Canada and my uncle would not take me on the boat saying that fishing was not for girls. It struck me as rather insulting, at the time and hurt me an awful lot.
But in the end he was right. Fishing is not for me. (But I know many women who love fishing.)
Just to reiterate, in my childhood, I had never seen such a pink monstrosity.
Once upon a newspaper, I clipped these recipes. I'll put them here for safer and more convenient reference.
1. I made these cookies only once, because they are just too delicious (you know what I mean, wink.) (Even Opra says, that, mercifully she does not have a very sweet tooth. --Well, I do. I do have a sweet tooth. We were raised on chocolate and cake, in a land of milk and honey. And, the tahini is addictive.)
Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies:
1.5 cups of flour
1 tsp. salt
0.5 tsp. baking soda
0.5 cup butter
0.5 cup raw tahini
0.5 cup sugar
0.5 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract of paste
1.5 cups milk or dark chocolate chips
or chopped chocolate
coarse sea salt or sesame seeds or a combination for garnish
350 F, for 10-12 min.
2. Basic Tahini Sauce
1/2 cups tahini
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
1/3 cup ice water
3 tbsp lemon juice
pinch ground cumin, optional
add 1/2 cup chopped parsley, cilantro or dill
to the sauce and puree; delicious on fish
3. Spicy Tahini, Butter and Maple Glazed Carrots
2 pounds thin carrots
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp black petter
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3 tbsp. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. raw tahini
1 tbsp. maple syrup
14 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. lemon juice
Toss carrots with olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, spread on a foil lined baking sheet.
Roast, 400 F, until starting to brown around the edges and tender, ca. 20 min.
Melt butter, with garlic and cook until fragrant, add tahini and syrup flakes, etc.
cook 1-2 min til thickened. Drizzle over carrots. Serve hot or warm.
Grandbaby is coming for childminding. The very smart daughter has to study for an exam.--Good for all of us. This is where life is really at. Hubby and I went to Lenten service in town last night. This is also where life is at. The pastor preached about a commandment. This is the kind of thing we rarely hear about. Surely law and gospel both need to be addressed.
Grandma is just making a blog post over her morning coffee to digest the morning news. Mind you it is yesterday's coffee. I always make too much and then drink it for two days. Someone should give me a nice barrista-style machine. It hardly recommends itself to comment on the news these days; there is commentary ubiquitously to be had. We can hardly stand the news and the commentaries any more. The spin cycle goes on forever.
But let me unload myself of these three tidbits. For one thing, as I am getting older, I feel there is a certain mental hygiene to keep writing about what is in your head and finding words to express what moves and agitates you. If it is not interesting to others, they do not have to read it. At least, I am not taking up airtime like those who talk incessantly about the same things. Also, we should try and do everything possible to help keep dementia at bay.
Anyways, number one, there was a story about a row between trans-women and feminists in Africa. This is not really surprising, because where-ever you are, really, only a woman can be a woman. It is just a fact of nature. So, a feminist said: "A trans-woman is a trans-woman". --This sort of statement is the height of insensitivity to a man who really wants to be a woman, we are always told. What may or may not be sensitive to women, who happen to be 50% of the population, does not seem to matter at all. That someone who wants to have their hair, breast, make-up done to be a woman, and understands nothing of what it is to be a woman, and then insists on being called a woman, is just incredible to women everywhere. As if women were their exterior. (Only a man could possibly think that way.) But they don't want to get it. They may be in mental distress but they are not the only people with distress. We cannot deny womanhood because a trans-woman wants to be called a woman under all circumstances. -- But these stories are so old now, I don't even know why I write about it.
As per usual the Bible is right with its simple formulation. "Male and female he created them." It is a loaded saying. Soon, they will clap you in prison for quoting this verse, so obviously biological in nature.
The other story was about "family offices" for the super-rich. It was a BBC story here. Families of super-wealthy billionaires make sure that the wealth stays in the family. They like to be centered in London, England, and that is where these offices full of advisors are, helping them grow their money, keeping it out of the hands of in-laws, and the government coffers.
It makes me kind of sad on this level of lobbying and news cycling we have been seeing and getting so tired off. Fund managers with huge wealth and others have been funding movements and news distributors, artists, etc. who will push different agendas. No doubt this sort of thing happens across the spectrum of opinion, but this march of women on Washington recently does make one think. How was is possible to mobilize so many women around the globe to walk simultaneously wearing home-knitted pussy-hats. No self-respecting woman I know would have participated in a thing like that. Where did they get all these women? Where did they get all this protesting masses? And what on earth where they protesting? -- They were worried there would be a loss to abortion funding and to gay rights. Pussy hats instead of baby hats. -- Let's not get into that right this moment. -- But I do wonder about the funding structure for all this organizing. Where ever the money is coming from, it just seems to squelch a proper dialogue of interested parties. Even I hardly want to waste my time commenting any more. Their strategy is working in that respect...but I have a grandchild to watch... Yippy!
For the funeral, I flew in some smaller planes for short distance flights (in Canada not so very short distance). At home, it was -30 below that morning, when leaving. But the time at the airport was magical. A woman was playing Bach on a piano just outside the security area in in front of the big windows by Starbucks closest to the viewing area. The seating was on park benches by the big glass front, and the effect was very uplifting. I did get myself a cup at Starbucks--though I think I am boycotting them, I forget why, just now. (What a world.) I am also boycotting Paypal, I forget why, also. They wrote me a note the other day, to please come back and use them. It must be getting tough for them.
Upon leaving at the other end, I thought it was quite magical, too. The sun was rising over the mountains fringing the lower mainland valley. I had a nice little banter over word usage with a man just before and during security. He had walked the whole maze before getting to security and I had skipped through them by the side, missing about 20 meters of useless maze-walking. We tried to find the best words for what I had done. He thought I had "got purchase". I thought I had taken "licence". Anyways, there were a lot of business travelers and they were a lively lot, reading books and talking things over.
We have completed some traveling just now, the latest trip having been to attend the funeral of an uncle in Vancouver. He is the husband of my father's oldest sister and he was quite old when he died. He had lived a highly eventful life, born an ethnic German Mennonite in the Ukraine and into the time of the second World War. I heard his stories the first time when I was nine years old and could never forget them including the moral dilemmas and traumas he faced. He is one who told his stories over and over. His son said at the funeral that a movie could have been made of his life, and indeed, it would be an incredible movie.--But we are almost coming to the end of burying ethnic Germans who lived through the war and can remember it. As a great loss to world history, their lives tend to have not been made into movies.
A hymn was passed out to sing for the funeral service that I did not know.
Below it is in German, as it was sung, and in English translation, which I am providing at this time. The text is by Arno Poetzsch , 1941.
1. Du kannst nicht tiefer fallen
als nur in Gottes Hand,
die er zum Heil uns allen,
2. Es muenden alle Pfade
durch Schicksal, Schuld und Tod
doch ein in Gottes Gnade
trotz aller unserer Not.
3. Wir sind von Gott umgeben
auch hier in Raum und Zeit
und werden in ihm leben
und sein in Ewigkeit.
1. You cannot fall so low,
that you are not still in God's hand,
which he holds out for us all,
graciously for our salvation.
2. All paths lead to the mercy of God,
be it through tragedy, guilt and death,
or any of our great need and trouble.
3. God surrounds us
even here in space and time,
and we will also live in him,
-------------------- "Let the Word of God dwell among you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual, sweet songs in grace." [Col.3:16]
This properly follows what he said about thankfulness, as if he would say: See to it that you honor teachers and preachers and are thankful to them, so that they can attend to the Word and offer it to you richly. I think that St. Paul is not talking about how God's Word was given from heaven, for that is not in our hands; rather, God alone must give it so that it dwells in us. As He has done and still does whenever He has the Gospel preached, He pours it out richly, so that He keeps nothing back which is necessary for us to know. After He has given it to us, we ought to be thankful and attentive to read, hear, ponder, sings, and speak it day and night, and to procure many teachers who present it to us richly and without ceasing. That is what it means that God's Word dwells in us richly.
But the satiated, lazy spirits soon become tired and let the preachers go wherever they go. Then the preachers have to work and support themselves, so that God's Word is neglected and becomes meager and rare. So Nehemiah complains that the Levites had to leave worship and the temple and live on the land, because they received no support from the people--or they had to set up false worship and fables to mislead the people, because in that way they were not only supported but also became rich.
... I think that the distinction between psalms, hymns, and songs is this: By "psalms" he means properly the psalms of David and others in the Psalter. By "hymns" he means the other songs here and there in Scripture made by prophets, such as Moses, Deborah, Solomon, Isaiah, Daniel, Habakkuk. Similar are the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), the Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79), and the like, which people call "canticles." By "spiritual songs" he means the songs people sing about God apart from Scripture, which people can make at any time. He calls these "spiritual" more than the psalms and hymns because he certainly knew that those are already spiritual. With these songs he restrains us from using worldly, fleshly, and improper songs; rather, he wants our songs to be about spiritual things which are able to teach and admonish us, as he says here. What does it mean when he says "in grace" (Col. 3:16)? Whoever wants can explain that this is said about the grace of God, that is, that such songs should come without coercion and Law, from pure delight and love. It should not be like the hymns now which are extorted by commandments and laws, where no one preaches, sings, or prays because of God's kindness or grace but only because of profit, stipend punishment, injury, and shame. It should not be as the holiest of all do, who out of obedience let themselves be bound and forced to the worship service through which they want to gain heaven, and not at all so that God's Word is understood richly and with all wisdom, as St. Paul wants. [Italics mine]
But I think that St. Paul is talking about the grace or pleasantness of the hymn and song, just as he says: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is useful for building up, where it is needful, that it may have favor and grace among everyone who hears" (Ephesians 4:29). So also here the songs should be capable of having grace and favor among everyone who hears them, so that there are no worthless, weak, and indecent words or otherwise awkward things which neither taste good nor smell good, which have neither strength nor savor. There should be rich, delightful, and sweet songs which everyone likes to hear. That is what "sung in grace" really means in Hebrew, as St. Paul says. That is also the nature of the psalms and hymns in Scripture, which contain good things and are sung with beautiful words. Some songs have very beautiful words, but they are worldly and fleshly;p on the other hand, some songs contain good things, but in such awkward words that they have neither favor nor grace.
"Singing in your hearts to the Lord." (Col. 3:16)
St. Paul does not mean that the mouth should be silent, but that the words of the mouth should come from wholehearted belief, earnestness, and fervor, and not be hypocrisy, as Isaiah says, "this people praises Me with their mouth, but their heart is far from me" (Isaiah 29:13). St. Paul wants to have the Word of God dwelling so commonly and richly among Christians that everyone speaks, sings, and meditates on ti everywhere; and yet all fo that should happen with understanding and spiritual fruit, be very dear to everyone, and be sung from the bottom of the heart, to the praise and thanks of the Lord. he says, "Let it dwell with you", not lodge as a guest for a night or two, but to settle down and never leave. He is always concerned about human doctrine.
"And what you do in word or deed do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." (Col. 3:17)
The works of Christians have no names, times, or places, but whatever they do is good. Whenever they do it, it is right. Wherever they do it, it is well-done. For that reason St. Paul here names no work and makes no distinction, but grasps all of them together and makes them all good. Eating, drinking, sleeping, waking, walking, standing, speaking, being quiet, working, or being idle are all precious things, because they all happen in the name of the Lord Jesus, as St. Paul teaches here. They happen in the name of the Lord Jesus when we believe with firm faith that Christ is in us and we in Him, so that we stop working, and He lives and works in us, as St. Paul says, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). On the other hand, if we do something as if we had to do it, then it happens in our own name, and there is nothing good in it.
... From this it follows that we should praise and thank God, to whom alone the honor and glory for every good thing belongs, as St. Paul says here. Also St. Peter, soon after he said that we are to do everything by God's strength, goes on to say, "in order that you all unanimously praise the Father through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 4:11; Rom. 15:6. But whoever does something by his own strength, even if he thanks God with his mouth, nevertheless lies and is false, like the hypocrite in the gospel (Mark 10:17). thankfulness is the only sacrifice and work which we should and can do for God, and yet not through ourselves, but through our Mediator, Jesus, without whom no one comes to the Father or can be accepted (John 14:6). We have often spoken about that.
This Colossians passage is one that I once pulled out of the hat on New Year's Eve, as a young person on retreat, to be a special verse for the year. I kept it around for a long time and it still resonates. What I understood only later is the grace in these words, that when done in the Lord, it is all good. Everything, even the most banal things, or so-called banal, that we do, are good.
There is the reason for gratefulness and singing. He has done it all, and what we do in him, is good because of him.
The other reason I copied out this section is because of the part I indented, some good words about spiritual songs and spiritual song creation and singing. He speaks about the pleasantness of them. I wonder what the German is for "pleasant" and "pleasing" here. Maybe "Gefallen", which would just mean that people like it. This would be in accord with singing from the heart and without coercion.
They should teach and admonish us according to God's word, and should be rich and well done, with strength and savor.
I tried to send a comment to CBC radio on its one-sided interviewing, but I could not find the place to comment. This is what I almost posted to Facebook, but then I thought "Why ruin more people's days?"
--CBC radio is usually my preferred listening choice, but even I am beginning to resent the tax payer money spent on it. During my kitchen clean-up this morning, during 15 min. in several interviews over Valentine's day morning, it was a verbal diarrhea of expressions such as: "disempowering speech that reinforces the status quo" (on matters of love), (she repeated that twice in two minutes), on the people who don't understand the "new narrative", "moving towards new social structures", learning what "love was, and what it can be in the future", "it is time to stop recycling the same script of what love is", "relationships configurations that were considered radical in the past" need defending against put-downs, We must work against "amatonormativity". -- Guess what: married couples have another label now; we are amatonormativitists. -- The person interviewed holds a research philosophy position at the University of British Columbia and promotes a polyamorous lifestyle. Loyalty is a damaging concept to her, as it may lead some individuals to remain in abusive relationships. Uhum. And how many people in polyamorous relationships are in abusive situations? Where will women experience more safety?--in a situation of loyalty, or in a situation not expecting loyalty? And what is the normal consequence of being amorous? And what is the better situation to raise children in? (Loyal or not loyal?) I note that in the pictures on Google images on "polyamory", there are no children.