Friday, August 2, 2019

Catch Up / Reading List

Dear Blog and Everybody:  I have successfully stayed away from the internet for quite a while now, aside from Facebook, and I count it a WIN.  No arguing.  No dialectics.  No writing about what I am reading.  Just more walking, more bicycling, no matter the weather.  WIN.

I have lost 15 pounds.  WIN.  I have learned to be outside by myself for long periods of time without pouting.  WIN. 

Most importantly, we walk with Jesus, and with him everything is the ultimate WIN.  We will see him face to face.  He will make everything good.

The summer has been unusual and stunning so far.  There has been some rain every day, or so it seems.  The lawns are more lush than ever.  Perhaps in England around the Queen's palaces they look this green.   All the trees and bushes that have made it through the winter (with quite a lot of winter kill on them), are recovered and growing furiously.  What a sight to behold.  Very nice.  Very, very nice.

OK.  All that.  But I have also had time to read, and I just want to at least list the books for my own memory.  I notice that the majority were non-fiction books written by women.   Lets start with the most recent book:  "The Last Closet.  The Dark Side of Avalon".  The last closet refers to the stories of children raised by adults who practiced sexual licence including forms of LGBTQ.  Moira Greyland suffered through a horrendous childhood, including trials such as incest and other physical and emotional abuse. She is the daughter of a very famous science fiction writer and and famous numismatic.  The read was enlightening and heart-rending.  She does not wallow in her emotions and thus the book remains sturdy, precise, honest and thorough. We can only imagine half of it.  But we should read it and consider the early sexualization of children raised in such families and the harm that is inflicted.  Five stars for gargantuan effort of truth-telling around a highly controversial and difficult topic where speakers are routinely shouted down, threatened and isolated.

The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon by [Greyland, Moira]

Before that I read:  "Maid", which I bought at Costco.  It is the first oeuvre, an auto-biography, of a young, aspiring writer, a single mother struggling to raise her very young child by herself and make ends meet with very little social and financial support, living in the Pacific North West of the United States.  It is a testament to our times and ways of thinking.  She finds a way to move to Missoula and become a student at University.  Very engaging story.  Very good writing! Well done!

The book leaves a lot of questions unanswered which revolve around the open relationships young people tend to have nowadays, the legacy of divorce in families, the legions of people working for low pay, the complexity of social welfare programs in the United States, and many more...  Things we should be talking about. Five stars for courage, hard work and successful book.

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by [Land, Stephanie]

Before this book, I read the famous Blaise Pascal, finally.  He had been on my list-to-read for a long time.  This is the book I got from Amazon.

Peter Kreeft is a type of teacher on Pascal.  He provides lengthy comentary on a selection of Pensees.  They are all very helpful,deep, current, and enjoyable.  I read the book in short selections at bedtime, and they actually helped me go to sleep well, unlike some dramatic kinds of fictional stories.  In this way, it took a while to get through and digest.  There are some important thoughts for life here.  I passed on the book, but I think I need to get another copy to read again and underline.  Even though the book is written and edited by Roman Catholics, a Lutheran can still get a lot out of it.  Pascal was a lay-theologian, so he reminds one a bit of C.S.Lewis.  They are not so very systematic, in any case.  And by the way, Blaise Pascal is the male writer in this list. Timeless work.  Five stars.

Before that I read a book that I also got off Amazon:  "The Wonder Years.  40 women over 40."

Later life for women is not often covered in a positive way in any sorts of media, if at all.  Where is the woman over 40 or post menopause to get some feedback, guidance and inspiration?  I do think there is a dearth of literature.  Perhaps, that is why I have been focused on non-fiction by women, as of late.  The woman in later life, most positively seen, is hoped to be the source of feedback, guidance and inspiration.  Since my own mother died quite young, I have not had her to lead me into this time of life.  There are lovely ladies at church who can inspire, but there are more deep and intimate things that you don't discuss outside the circle of close relations, though the church ladies are pretty much as close as it can get and you can see them regularly. Still it is the highlight of my life when my circles of girlfriends get together for birthdays and we can find out about each other's lives.  This book was a great idea.  The writers are greatly varied in their life experiences and also their writing experiences.  It is not as deep and intimate or spiritual, as what I personally need.  It just shows that some things can only be worked on in lived experience and not so much in books.  Five stars for effort and great concept tackling a neglected subject. I was introduced to this writing group through a Facebook advertisement for a writing retreat.  I thought I might be interested in attending it, but then, upon some reading, I thought I would be considered too confessional for the group to really belong.  I could be wrong.

Can confessional Christians belong to a writing group about women's lives and stories?  Theoretically, they can.

Before that, I read a whole series by Sharon Garlough Brown titled: "Sensible Shoes".   I had taken out the second book in the series from a church library, and then I felt I had to read the whole the set.

I really did love the books about various women's lives and spiritual journeys.  The women become a close-knit group through the exercises they experience through a retreat center and unlikely friendships blossoming. They grow meaningfully through life experiences, their friendships and spiritual exercises.  I could see that these books could be tremendously helpful to many individuals.  Personally, I did not see myself in these women, as the aging, long-married woman rarely seems to figure in any books.  I tried to lend this set to my sister-in-law but she complained that the books go back and forth from woman to woman every few pages and it was driving her crazy (to use her words).  I thought, with the lack of really crazy things going on, only the daily horrors of divorce,  trials of delivering pre-mature babies, and other women-related drama, the movement from person to person was very engaging.  I liked the format.  What drove my sister-in-law crazy kept me on tenterhooks.  Different strokes for different folks.

OK.  That's enough for now.  I am sure there were others that I have read in these fair months of the year.  Presently I am reading a book from Indigo on "Everyday Narcissism", also by a woman writer.  So far I am not sure what to make of it...  Reading it at bedtime bit by bit.  Mostly, I see, I have been heavily weighted in American women writers.  I think I should should look for something from another country next.

Have a fabulous rest of the summer!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Basic Plots and Middlemarch

The month of March was difficult with influenza going around and, weather-wise, huge mounds of snow melting only very gradually, keeping the air rather cool.  April, so far, has not been much different, except  that it appears that the last patches of snow have now disappeared while the ponds are still frozen over.

The returned Canada geese are looking to make nests, with the ganders marching about protectively, but they are not impressed with having to arrive on ice.  They exhibit an interesting landing maneuver coming in feet first and then getting around like an icebreaker.  They do look well-fattened from where ever they are coming from.  The birds may be a pest in places, but they belong here, and their honking arrival is delightful.  The geese's spirit is harbinger of new life and summer around the corner.  Thank God, he made such large and sturdy, sometimes comical, birds for our climate. 

Meanwhile, I had taken the opportunity to read some huge "honking" books.  One was "Seven Basic Plots.  Why we tell stories."  The author is Christopher Booker.  736 pages.

For some time, I wanted to explore the topic of "plots" because story telling does not come to me naturally as a passion or art form. Well, not since about grade 5 or so, when we started learning foreign languages in school and explored other "real" countries and histories in books or through actual travel, as is easily afforded living in Europe.  Before that we made up plays from props in the house or used our puppet theater.  I enjoyed Mr. Booker's book because he broke down the plotting not so much in a dry, technical way but in terms of what is going on with the characters, and that in a sort of archetypal way, making the application universal.  The critics of his book would say that he has put a kind of straight-jacket onto story-telling, discarding all those stories that don't fit the schemes, especially more modern ones, as somehow deficient.  It may seem that Booker would say that story-telling has devolved in some respects.

It really is a tome to reckon with.  Many stories are explored in great detail, resulting in my feeling better equipped to tailor future reading after his analysis. Someone asked me if I felt more ready to write a story after reading this book, and I have to say that I don't think so.  My passion is always to find out what is really going on in a past or current situation, and the idea of storytelling gives me the feeling of artificiality and manipulation.  Someone told me:  "Push through to untruth". -- I don't know.  I want to know how it is EXACTLY.  Does that need to be overcome to be an effective storyteller?  Jesus was a storyteller, but his stories were obvious parables.  Everyone understood that they were brief analogies.  But in a sense Jesus' stories were "manipulation" as he broke the news to people in unexpected ways, having them let down their guard to listen with interest.

Sometimes, though, people leaning to the fiction side of storytelling can't tell the difference anymore between truth and untruth.  So I find that also Booker won't distinguish between the fanciful and the real, at times.  For example, he discusses the use of the unexpected, miraculous weapon that will defeat the enemy.  Here he basically puts side by side James Bond and King David.  James Bond always has a new weapon or vehicle up his sleeve to extricate him from dire circumstances to save himself, the girl and the world.  We seriously get a comparison here from the esteemed Mr. Booker to the ancient King David who killed the giant with a stone and a sling-shot, receiving King Saul's daughter's hand in marriage.  The only difference with the Bible stories are that they go on and on in time and don't have a properly resolved ending.  --Yes, really.

There problem, as I see it, with this is that the literary giants of our times and other times don't believe that Bible stories are "real" stories, that is true stories, in the way that the non-literary person conceives a "true story". We are to see everything under out eyes in an archetypally true way ONLY.  If you don't agree, you are a Philistine to them (in the non-literal way, of course, as if there had never ever really been any Philistines.)

So much for Booker's book.  It is exhaustive and I believe he spent a lifetime, over 30 years, slaying the giant of getting everything under control neatly, even David and Goliath.

The other very large book I enjoyed was George Elliot's "Middlemarch".  It is, of course, a famous novel, written by a woman who needs no introduction.  The volume had sat on my shelf ever since I purchased it in a used bookstore under some mysterious prompting.  It revealed itself to me, just now, and I really, really loved it.  Seriously, I am a fan, all 900 pages of it.  It is superfluous to tell you why it was wonderful, as it such a dearly loved classic.  But I will just say that the novel served to illustrate some of Christopher Booker's points about characters and the arcs of stories. In Dorothea we have a typical lovely female serving as the great prize that needs to wrestled away from the dragon of upper-class snobbery by the unlikely hero in the form of  the honorable but unconventional Ladislaw.  Ladislaw is in effect a writer disguised as a dilettante. We could say that we have again a book written by a writer about a writers.

In Middlemarch, we find another kind of author, the famous Rev. Edward Casaubon, muddled and mired very deeply in his endless research.  Ironically, he vaguely reminds me of the just before-mentioned Mr. Booker, in trying to systematize and unite all types of stories.  Casaubon labored his entire life in the libraries hoping to produce his grand book of  "The Key to all Mythologies."  Like Mr. Booker he may have been overreaching, but nevertheless, we should sympathize with him in his great effort and its attendant result, his early death, as articulated and forever noted, by the great philosopher Solomon (of actual existence):  "Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body."  (Ecclesiastes 12:12) 

Image result for Solomon

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Got the Flu and Plant Based Eating

Last week, it turned out to be the season for finally getting the flu after having hung in there the entire, deep, long, eternal Northern Canadian winter.  The flu felled my thoroughly, just as we were going to turn the corner with the frigid weather.  From one hour to the next you think you are passing from life to death.

The irony for me was that I had been quite resistant to colds, and proclaiming it somewhat loudly, ever since we switched to a plant-based diet--no more spurning of fruits for the many grams of fructose in them, grains, seeds...  Once, I was adjusted I felt very good and handily fought of colds, even as I spent much time with toddlers and in some group homes. 

Still I am putting my money on fruits and vegetables, beans and greens.   It has taken almost a year to get efficient about shopping, chopping and cooking plant-based for a two-person household.  I cook all my beans from the dry stage, and then I end up with loads of them, necessitating freezing batches that come in handy later.

It is all worth it.  I am very grateful for all the new info that has been shared and the great recipes that abound.  I don't want to take the time right now to explain and lecture about various benefits, but I do highly recommend everything written by Dr. Greger of "How not to Die"-fame and his free info on the website:  (Of course, we are going to die, we are just going to try to make sure, as best we can, that it isn't by our own fault.)

The information is top-notch and the videos are short and precise, spiced occasionally with Dr. Greger's inimitable humor.  The cookbook has fabulous illustrations.  The research book is fascinating and thoroughly scientific.  The new Canada food guide lines up very nicely with this info, and is said to be a triumph of reason over the food industry lobby. 

I highly recommend both books and the videos on the Nutritionfacts site. They have all been a game-changer for my husband and myself.  We eat very differently now and much more recommended food makes it to our plates.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

For Ash Wednesday

"God has assuredly promised his grace to the humble [1. Peter 5:5], that is, to those who lament and despair of themselves.  But no man can be thoroughly humbled until he knows that his salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, devices, endeavors, will, and works, and depends entirely on the choice, will, and work of another, namely, of God alone.  For as long as he is persuaded that he himself can do even the least thing toward his salvation, he retains some self-confidence and does not altogether despair of himself, and therefore he is not humbled before God, but presumes that there is--or at least hopes or desires that there may be--some place, time, and work for him by which he may at length attain to salvation.  But when a man has no doubt that everything depends on the will of God, then he completely despairs of himself and chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work;  then he has come close to grace, and can be saved."--  Martin Luther

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Vatican Conference on Sexual Abuse concluded

This past week has seen the conclusion of a special conference in Rome called by Pope Francis on how to deal decisively with the sexual abuse scandal in the church.  We also have seen the condemnation of Cardinal Pell in Australia to 50 years in prison at his 70 years old in life.  Today we are informed that last night was his first night in prison. As all convicted pedophiles he will be held in isolation and will be spending 23 hours a day by himself.

What a lot.  We do have some sympathy for him.  He seems to have very few, relatively "minor" slips, some call them "vanilla", in his long, illustrious career.  We don't need to get into specifics, as you easily can find them online, elsewhere.

There are many types of victims here.  Sexual abuse seems to happen in all sorts of arenas in various ways.  I once ended up in a car with a man once, when young, and felt I escaped by the skin of my teeth.  I was once grabbed in an alleyway and managed to run away when 13 years old.  The man managed to kiss me on the cheek.  I had to identify him in a lineup and testify in court.  Stuff like this happens all the time, sad to say.  The innocent and the minor are always the true victim.  Yet, the adult cleric, sworn to celibacy is also a victim.  Celibacy does not work for the vast majority people.  St. Peter himself was a married man and had his wife with him.  St. Paul writes that if one burns with passion one ought to marry and have a partner, as God and nature ordains and calls for.  We are sexual beings and it is the odd man or woman out of the whole lot who can do without the closeness, intimacy, confiding, pleasure and comfort of sexual relations and life-long union.

It is the command for celibacy itself which must be removed and abolished.  This is not something that I heard coming out in the statements from the conference.  I would expect, therefore, that NOTHING constructive has been accomplished.  Nothing whatsoever. -- The Pope said the church will come down with the "wrath of God" on the perpetrators.  If the church continues in this unnatural and un-biblical stance to marriage, if may find the wrath of God coming down on it.

During and after the Reformation, Rome ridiculed the Lutherans for wanting their "wine and women" when they simply asked for biblical standards, serving wine at communion, as instituted by Christ himself, and permitting marriage for church leaders, as permitted by St. Peter and St. Paul, themselves.  Why the Roman church persists in sitting "beside scripture", as Luther would always complain, is beyond comprehension and has led to the most deplorable spectacle possible.  It ought to teach us about taking scripture supremely seriously.  We dare not tamper with it.  We dare not set ourselves up as superior in suppression of simple human needs to demonstrate a holiness that God never asked for nor designed. It is the peak of irreligiosity to do so.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

My Roman Catholic Friend and 2. Timothy 1:15-18, re: Praying for the Dead

2. Timothy, chapter 1:
15 You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me,including Phygelus and Hermogenes.
16 May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. 17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. 18 May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.

From this passage my Roman Catholic friend of the previous post is intending to show that people--including as illustrious and authoritative a writer as the apostle Paul--do and ought to pray for the dead.
Specifically, he is attempting to show it from this short exclamation:  "May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day!"

As we can see from the context, nothing here indicates first of all, that Onesiphorus has died, second that Paul believes that a prayer for any person will be counted towards their righteousness.  

Moreover, we also see from the context, that Paul has suffered the loss of his leadership over a number of individuals in the church, even though he is an apostle, as he has just vigorously asserted with various preceding points.  In that sense, he is able to act as intercessor for these people who have turned specifically against him (and who are living).  Their faith in Christ may be in question now, but that is between them and God.  They have, however, rejected the messenger Paul without cause, having previously been dedicated to him and his message of the Gospel. This is an injury and injustice also to Paul, himself.  His own response is one of pious hope and forgiveness.  We see also Paul's Christ-inspired grace.  (He does not wish to  call down the fire from heaven, as certain disciples ones proposed to Jesus;  the "sons of thunder", as he nicknamed them.)  Yet, it will be the Lord himself who judges and dispenses mercy. 

Onesiphorus appears not have turned against Paul, but nothing further is explained regarding his present fate, just as we know nothing further about Phygelus and Hermogenes.  Anything more becomes a matter of conjecture.

We also note, that Paul attaches no invocation or affirmation to his pious hope of mercy.  Nor does he indicated that all should pray to the Lord for the mentioned individuals, living or dead, instituting here no Requiem Mass, so to speak.

This is the most flimsy passage imaginable, to burden Christian consciences with mandatory prayers for the dead and their achieving mercy.  People who have come out of Roman Catholicism, often speak about the heavy burden of guilt they carried, the hammer over their head.  This, here, would be another instance of burden:  the Christian struggles under the innumerable sins of others, when it is Christ who has born them all.  Let each come to repentance of his very own sins, instead, and turn to the Lord. 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

All Saints' Day and Maccabees

This past All Saint's Sunday I spent the afternoon reading first and second Maccabees, never having read it before.  The story was familiar to me from a past lecture, but why should it come up now?

This is how it happened.  A very famous Christian author and pastor, Eugene Peterson, had died the week before, which promoted a Roman Catholic friend of mine on Facebook to remark that he himself hopes that when he dies, people will remember to pray for his departed soul, not like this famous protestant pastor who was assumed to have gone straight to heaven, by protestants who talked about his departure.--As we know, Roman Catholics promote a teaching about a thing called "purgatory", where many souls are said to go be purified for an undetermined time to eventually be promoted to heaven, leaving people, the departed as well as their living family, in a kind of limbo, as least for the present.  As to where a dearly departed has departed to precisely, one dare not say, especially if he or she was not perfect, which none of us are.  This gives rise to a whole industry of indulgences, praying for the dead, saying masses for the dead, etc.  To which every "Protestant" says: "what exactly are you, dear Roman Catholic, proclaiming regarding the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ?  Was his sacrifice not for sinners like you and like me?"  Indeed, this whole praying for the dead reads like a racket, as the Reformation has clearly shown, and as the height of faithlessness in the cloak of piety.  But Christ is left out.  He is not there.  (As Jesus said:  "Where the corpse is, the vultures will gather." Matthew 24.)

So, what about Maccabees?

Well, the said Friend on Facebook, of Roman Catholic confession, as I said, just slung that one out:  "It's in 2  Maccabees!"  Yea, sure, "It's in 2 Maccabees..."--So I read all of 1. Maccabees and all of 2. Maccabees.

Without belaboring the matter, in Maccabees we have the story of the strenous Jewish revolt against oppressive Hellenization during the second century B.C.  (Also read about such topics, here.)  It does not read like a sermon, nor a theological treatise, nor prophecy, nor prayer.  The Jews did not include it in their canon.  The Reformation excluded it from the canon.  It is not a source of doctrine about God and spiritual matters.  Maccabees  highlights the events of the oppression and the revolt, as well as the deeds of the Maccabees.  It demonstrates the struggle for conscientious objection involving martyrdom. 

We see in Maccabees a high regard for the law.  The leaders of the revolt defended the Jewish way of life with great zeal, the regulations the Lord had put down for the nation.  Their efforts were of military nature.  Outsiders were "sinners."  The book does not promote mercy, nor does it speak about the Lord or for the Lord.  The authors speak for themselves and their version of the historical record. They do not claim to be prophets, nor to have been living among prophets.  In fact, it says, that prophecy had ceased in those times.  It should follow, therefore, that the editorializing comments of the unnamed author/s, be taken under advisement.

It boggles that mind that precisely here, our Roman Catholic friend wants to find corroboration for the doctrine of purgatory and praying for the dead.  

The concern for the dead, so it is said in Maccabees several times, should be taken as a sign of the belief in the resurrection of the dead.  This rings a bell when we think about what St. Paul said, as an aside, such as:  if there is no resurrection for the dead, why do some bother to be baptized for the dead?  (1. Corinthians 15:29).  Also, there is the time, where he causes a commotion saying in Jerusalem that he is persecuted for his belief in the resurrection.  (Acts 22:6-8.)

"Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee,descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.)"

Obiously, these issues had been brewing for some time, just as much as the Pharisaical emphasis on the law vs. mercy and justice.  For me, reading Maccabees put some things into perspective regarding thorny issues Jesus and Paul were speaking to in the culture and in the life of the individual consciences in relationship to God.

So, now, what does it exactly say in Maccabees that gets some people on the road for praying for the dead?  At the conclusion of 2 Maccabees, an incident is related where some of the warriors of the Maccabaean conflicts had been found dead, and when it came to the recovery of the bodies, it was found that they were wearing in their layers of clothing some sort of amulet dedicated to a foreign idol.  This presents the leaders with a nasty dilemma.  Here they were fighting zealously for the law of the ancestors, but their fighters are found practicing a form of idolatry.  This really does present a unique embarrassment.  What to do and say about this?

Ingenious to the end, they take up a collection of money to send to the temple, so a sacrifice could me made for the dead who had died relying on a foreign god, hoping they might still attain the resurrection of the dead.

Elegant?  Not.  Hopeful?  Maybe.  Mandated?  Definitely not.

Here comes Tetzel.  You know about Johann Tetzel.  "As soon as the gold in the casket rings, the rescued soul to heaven springs."  Who sent Tetzel?  Those who needed money for their simony and for their construction projects.

Maccabees closes by praising this solution as pious.   The leader is pragmatic in his actions.  No wonder, the book is excluded from the canon.  Theology:  fail.  God cannot be manipulated.  Not the God of the Bible.  At some point, you have to leave things to His judgement and to his mercy.  Save your money and your time.

 2. Maccabees 40-45: 
 "But when they found on each of the dead men, under their tunics, objects dedicated to the idols of Jamnia, which the Law prohibits to Jews, it became clear to everyone that this was why these men had lost their lives. All then blessed the ways of the Lord, the upright judge who brings hidden things to light, and  gave themselves to prayer, begging that the sin committed might be completely forgiven. Next, the valiant Judas urged the soldiers to keep themselves free from all sin, having seen with their own eyes the effects of the sin of those who had fallen; after this he took a collection from them individually, amounting to nearly two thousand drachmas, and sent it to Jerusalem to have a sacrifice for sin offered, an action altogether fine and noble, prompted by his belief in the resurrection. For had he not expected the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead,whereas if he had in view the splendid recompense reserved for those who make a pious end, the thought was holy and devout. Hence, he had this expiatory sacrifice offered for the dead, so that they might be released from their sin."
To conclude, we note that the Old Testament does not make provision for this type of sacrifice, however pious the thought.  
We also note that Martin Luther wished Maccabees had not come down to us, at all, because it contains too many heathenish things.  The writer himself, excuses himself, making no claims except to tell the story in engaging fashion.  This is how the author of 2 Maccabees closes the book (chapter 15):
"The city of Jerusalem remained in the possession of the Jewish people from that time on, so I will end my story here. 38 If it is well written and to the point, I am pleased; if it is poorly written and uninteresting, I have still done my best. 39 We know it is unhealthy to drink wine or water alone, whereas wine mixed with water makes a delightfully tasty drink. So also a good story skillfully written gives pleasure to those who read it. With this I conclude."
It is an interesting story.  It is a mixed drink passed to us by the writer, however, and we are right not to draw Christian doctrine from it. 

In addition, our attention should be directed at the sacrifices for sin in Leviticus 4, where a sin offering requires repentance.  

Image result for maccabees meaning

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Thanksgiving Service in Berlin, Oct. 2018, for Reunification: Tag der Deutschen Einheit

A Dear Friend sent me this link on Youtube for this special Ecumenical Church Service to celebrate Reunification and the unity of the nation of Germany, in 2018 .  I watched a good chunk of it.  You can see the large congregation, including the politicians, in a large, ornate cathedral in Berlin.  There is fantastic music.  I will plan to watch the rest and here, I have filed the link for myself and others.

The video is completely in German language, though some of the music is in Latin and Greek.  It is worthwhile watching for the music and also the brass ensemble and the boys' choir. Very nice.

When I was a girl, I used to play very often in services in the church brass band.  Now I serve as an organist.  It is so wonderful to have a full church and to have excellent music.  These are true highlights of the week, of the seasons, of a lifetime.

Image result for church brass band

Friday, November 2, 2018


While we were on a road-trip in September, I had an opportunity to read several books.  The first one was "Educated:  A Memoir" by Tara Westover.  I had picked it up at Costco because the reviews on the cover were stellar.  And the book did not disappoint.

Tara Westover tells a realistic, yet stunning story of growing up in Idaho, in a Mormon family who refuses to register its children, refuses to send them to school, refuses to let them see the Doctor.  The father runs a scrap yard among other businesses that involve the children working in dangerous situation.  The mother becomes a midwife so women do not have to see a doctor.  Individuals  inadvertently become subject to various forms of neglect, abuse and child labor, unnecessary accidents, even though the parents are highly idealistic and religious, well-meaning in their own way.  For the child growing up this is insidious, as it knows no different life. Freeing herself from it requires all the strength Tara can muster.  It is complicated, to say the least.

For me, it is a lesson in several areas.  First of all, the depth of commitment to their lifestyle by American cultists.  In many places in the world such isolation is not possible and communities are much better integrated.  In America, however, it is possible, and in any case it is the "land of the cults" as Lutheran immigrant pastor/missionary Walther said. In Lutheran theology, the calling of the Christian person can be to be a medical doctor, a scrap yard owner, a pastor, a midwife, policeman, governor, housewife...  All these callings are God's gifts to a helpful and integrated society. With the cult, however, an alienation is essential to keep the message alive, the message of isolation and individualism.  A message of being different from other people in society.

Not that learning some survival skills would not be a good thing.  Nowadays, we are so disconnected from nature and the way things used to be done even just two generations ago, that it makes us wonder what it is to be truly human without all our helps and technologies.  Certainly, there is a tension inherent, that we can all understand.  I myself was thinking we should get a generator when North Korea was sending missiles over Japan last year.  There is the dirty bomb that could travel very far that disrupt all our communications and electrical grids. I was trying to imagine it, though I am not given to apolitical speculations.  In fact, my generation, and especially myself hailing from the former West Germany, lived in the shadow of the bomb.  How will we be able to survive when everything fails or is destroyed?  Would we even want to try?

Maybe a generator would be good, but then you need fuel...  Most of all, you would need water...

Where does it start and end.  It becomes a paranoia, more than anything.  But emergency preparedness is a sensible thing...

The book also makes me think about our current NDP government in my Canadian province.  They have a left-leaning ideology, which has manifested itself in interesting ways, so interesting that they cannot be elected again.  One of the first things, they have done, was to ram down the throats of farmers all kinds of laws regarding farm labor.  Perhaps, there are concerns I had not considered.  I know a family where all four children died in two separate farm accidents.  The marriage also ended up breaking apart. I know a farm where a toddler was run over.  But that can happen anywhere.  I know a farm where a young man nearly burned himself to death.  But had been very foolish.  I know a farm where a young Mennonite helper was electrocuted just a few weeks into the job.  No doubt, the young are at risk.  But then my own 18-year old died in a car accident.

What factors can be controlled?  In any case, the NDP should have had a consultative, bottom-up process, rather than asserted itself in the way it did, right out of the start gate alienating so many.  From then on, it also went on to alienate Christians of all stripes.  This also, was not ok.  Christians, in general, are not like Tara Westover's father and mother.  Mostly, they live in responsible, well integrated communities.  Some oversight is always a good idea, but government oppression of consciences is not.  They are your average, more or less, good citizen.  And that is what we have had in my province, as of late.  On that level, I had wondered if "Educated" is an anti-Christian book, but that would be not a fair interpretation. Overall, Westover has considered her communication carefully, and her points are well taken.  There are indeed Mormon families hiding in Canadian mountain regions trying to keep polygamous groupings intact.  These things do happen.  And children suffer.  We must support the weaker and younger elements in society.

The most memorable part of the book, however, was the philosophical and literary point of view.  Westover took a degree in history, or more like the philosophy of history, or the process of making history.  In relation to this, she comes to interesting conclusions, which one ought to read for oneself.  What hit me most is that by writing her own autobiography, she says she is "writing history", herself. 

It makes me consider all the autobiographies that have lived in my head and my life, all this time--my grandfather's, expelled from Silesia, my in-law's, fleeing Poland after the war.  Stories that have not made it to the movie screens and histories that have been expunged from the collective memory. These stories make me different from my Canadian neighbors, though many immigrant populations also have suffered through wars, famine, oppression, even persecution.  But the languages and images are different, and these communities tend to stay in their own corners. Currently, public discourse has been deluged with programs dealing with LGTBQ issues, as well as Indigenous affairs.  In some ways, it is not a surprise that we have all fractured into new subgroups of discussion groups and media consumption.  Some are becoming their own islands, their own Idahoes.  We are educating ourselves online and what does this mean?

Thursday, November 1, 2018

All Saints' Blog

Where have we been?  There was the short and intense Canadian summer.  There were irritants with online activity, including some malware on this blog.  There were travels and visitors and books to read.  We also adopted a new diet and cooking program, one more plant-based, as they say, which required a considerable amount of time and dedication to implement.  Indeed, I am spending much more time in the kitchen. What can we do.

But, I have missed the blogging, as of late.  I think mostly, it is the mental hygiene of getting somethings off your mind and onto the page.  Moreover, there is a benefit to exercising vocabulary, before losses to inevitable old age or declining brain power use up the neural circuits.  Use it or lose it.  Also, blogging puts things into your mind as your use it.  Your focus is sharpened. There is clarity that emerges, which is vastly better than grey fogginess, which is symbolized by the weather that has crept up on us.

So, as the more dreary, darker days of winter descend on us, together with the snow in the forecase, I think I would like to post some more.  Google Blogger wants me to start a different blog.  I wonder about this, as my format is very old.  I will have to think about this.  For now, good wishes for a good week and blessings for the days of All Saints' and Reformation.  Yesterday, we put the family fun of spooky Halloween behind us for another year, but more constructively, we now want to consider the eternal home of our souls with the Lord, which is granted to us purely out of his immeasurable, and superabundant grace, the fount of all true and lasting joy and pleasure.  Thanks be to God.

I feel better already.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Line Dances

Over the winter I took up clogging, but this activity is out for the summer.  The winter prior, I took up line dancing in a school gym in town.  I thought it was fun and good exercise, though I did not really enjoy all the words to all the songs... What can you do.  The Wobble is a bit crude, so I use Guantanamera with groups.  (Guantanamera works for a lot of things and is a bit slower. A lot of Cuban music is very pretty and repetitive.) 

Here is a list of the videos of line dances I learned a year ago.  I just want to refresh them, now, as  clogging is out and the movement is good for me.  You might enjoy them, too.   Shut up and Dance   Any Man of Mine, Canadian Stomp   Copperhead Road  TED TALK   Cupid Shuffle  Fireball  Scooting Boogie Scooting Boogie instructional.  Hustle  Hustle  Two step slide  We went  We went  My Boogie shoes  My Boogie Shoes  Boogie Shoes sheet  The Wobble  The Makarena

Thursday, March 15, 2018

"I am Jesus' Little Lamb" --home-made illustrated songbook #1

This is my home-made songbook for family.  If you like it, you may copy it and use it.  It's not art.  It's my first one...  :)   I left out the pictures of family, baptisms, pastors, and such.  You can personalize this to the hilt.   Blessings.

"I am Jesus' little lamb" is the kind of song Christian mothers and fathers have sung to their children through the generations, and as such is a pearl that needs to keep getting passed on.  It comforted me, too, as I made this book.  My favorite page is the one with the angels and their musical instruments.  Some people relate to angels a lot, wearing pins and so on, but I can relate to these angels who make music. And this beautiful verse is attached to the picture:  "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  John 14:1.  When we do pass through the shadow of death, the Lord's angels will be with us, maybe even singing this song to us, as we move into the Lords presence, the Lord who is our shepherd and cares even then.