Wednesday, September 29, 2004

c.s. lewis book review

another review just published:

From the Library of C. S. Lewis : Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey compiled by James S. Bell, Jr.

Friday, September 24, 2004

cyberfriend

all my threeD friends are busy, with other friends, on the phone, with lives. but i need to talk, so i fire up my dinosaur and dial up my internet, and find you here, waiting for me as always. thank you cyberfriend. while i find you unreliable in a thunderstorm, impossible to cuddle, and unable to pick me up when my car breaks down on i30, you are usually available when i get the urge to talk to you and i find that nothing if not, well, convenient. you are my friend of convenience, and for that i am grateful. i can neglect you, cyberfriend for weeks, and months, but then, i come back and find you there--suzmeister! iming me. and i am grateful. i am so grateful. i am tired tonight, so i'll be too honest. but you don't mind, do you cyberfriend? you can blush and not reply, and that is fine. but you come and read my prose and poetry and speak to me when i say something palatable. even if it is, hey suz, how are you? and when i am tired, blearyeyed, and it is late, and i cannot sleep, i find you there waiting for me to answer. how am i? ah the mysteries of life in a question. it is right up there with who am i? that is always a loaded question, one i endeavor to answer some day. sometimes i think you know the answers to those questions better than i do. i can talk to you and with you until i am through, none of this, well i better let you go now, all the while meaning, i better go now. you don't say, like some, i'll let you get on with your week, meaning, shut up so i can get on with mine. that is the grace of cyberfriends, they are there or not there at will. i've had trouble forming a picture of you in my mind though, you seem at once to me all tribal women, radiant, flat nosed, dark haired, busily working, strong fingers, rapping out a rhythm like that of the ancients. then i see your picture, and know you really have white skin and red hair but that is fine. i still love you cyberfriend. you understand me somehow. you greet me so warmly when i am here and miss me when i am gone, though i seldom think a whit about you. i am a lowsy friend, even to those in cyberspace. but i am tired, and too honest tonight. so i will end this lament, and shut down the computer whose fan hums reassuringly while heating up my workspace (cramped as it is). i will let you go now, but thank you, for listening to my ramblings once again.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

overtalkers

today while watching the big story with john gibson, congressman meeks from ny was being interviewed about kerry's stance on iraq.

while john gibson tried to interject a question, meeks kept overtalking.

"congressman, what is the ..."
"john, john, john, john"

meeks sounded like a damn parrot.

john, john, john.

i've noticed this tactic with a lot of talk show/news show guests. perhaps they think it makes them look intelligent or something, i can't figure any other reason for this obnoxious behaviour.

i am sitting there screaming at the tv, SHUT UP! and eventually just change the channel. it is impossible to hear one guest overtalking the other, so all the overtalker does is make it impossible for anyone to get any point across. those people should automatically get their mics turned off.

i am particularly fond of bill o'reilly who can handle difficult guests, shut down assertions/spin, and basically deliver a well balanced logical view of things that are going on, not just politics either. his show has helped nab some real losers.

incase you don't catch the show regularly, he just interviewed president bush this past week and will be airing the interview in segments m,t,w of next week. check it out, it promises to be worthwhile.

that's all for now. i'm trying not to be annoyed with all the bickering between politicians, and wish these guys would stop attacking each other and just say what they want to say to tell us who they are. the dems, even one i love, are so vicious. so angry. their arguments veer so far from reason it is truly frightening. there are so many educated, political activists in the democratic party (granted in the repub party there are nutjobs too), but i wish people were truly free to have their own opinions without having to come to fisticuffs over it.

i would really like to have a discussion of the candidates and topics in a logical, reasonable way, and if i am unswayed or my friend who is not in agreement with me is unswayed by my arguments, then we move on to the next topic. but that simply is not how it is. and it makes me very sad.

God bless america. we need it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

pajama jardin

i heard an analyst use that phrase on the news last night. the "pajama jardin" referring to bloggers. with dan rather's memo-gate fiasco, blogs are in the news quite a lot these days.

they refer to bloggers as pajama clad, and this bugs me, because they say it in such a way as to pass judgment. i am irked by the fact that bloggers blew open one of the biggest stories of this election, and the analysts don't like that so they demean bloggers. analysts keep talking about how there is no system of checks and balances with bloggers, and how they are so much more "reliable."

if that were the case, how did rather and cbs get duped?

have all the checks and balances you want, but don't begrudge people's avenue for speaking their mind.

this, on top of the fact that journalism has become editorializing makes me weary of all news organizations (and even some authors who can't seem to separate the opinion and fact).

bloggers may simply be speaking their minds, but that doesn't mean (as powerline and little green footballs demonstrated) they aren't saying something worthwhile, even "newsworthy."

my assessment is, newcastertypes want to be the sole source for social commentary. they want allegiance and blind trust. but bloggers just speak their minds and leave the reader to judge, weigh, and interpret the facts. plus, blogs have the added advantage of two way communication. we are not simply fed news, we discuss the issues of the day in a way no six o'clock news ever can.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

ugh, you published THAT?!?

and i quote: "I used to think that to speak, to write books, I needed to generate knowledge from other places and use that material to speak to others. But I've learned that the only real material I have to deal with is my life and what God is doing in me."

while the author is commendable in her assertion of sufficiency in Christ, foibles of diction, redundancy, and a convoluted message plagued her book.

i sound like the wicked witch of the east, and i promise you i do not have on striped socks, but my GOD have mercy! this is the stuff that is getting published.

again, i quote from the author above (whom i don't want to embarrass by naming):
"That afternoon, as I was getting ready for Christmas and got sidetracked reading my old journals, I realized how quickly the years went, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my children. I had an irresistible urge to telephone each one (although I didn't!)."

um, excuse me, but wouldn't that be a resistible urge then? ugh.

"She had faith for a certain amount of oil--her dreams went so far, and that was it. We often put limits on God, and we can let people pour cold water on our dreams."

okay, here it seems like she is saying [i am sure you know she is referencing the widow w/the debt and oil in the OT], but i don't read this passage to be so much about the widow not having enough faith/trust in God, but as her running out of vessels. sounds like the author is here attributing something that may be true, we limit God, to a passage that doesn't argue that point, in fact, i think it argues the contrary.

the author tells a story about a woman on the prairie whom the husband had to literally pick up and carry on his horse after she burned her wagon in an effort to go no further. she argues, "Abraham didn't have to do that with Sarah; she willingly followed him to new places for better grazing, followed God as he led them closer to the Promised Land."

does your bible say that? mine doesn't. i believe this is called making an argument from silence, and it troubles me. not so much the point that she makes, but that she makes the point from silence. if this author will infuse these passages with her interpretation, speaking as if they were there in indelible ink, what else will she infer and pass off as Truth? causes me to question the author here. and that is troubling.

all in all, i gave a mediocre recommendation for this book. it is the kind of book that might have helped me as a sapling christian, but i wanted so much more from the author and the cover is so pretty (contemplated keeping it just because i liked the cover so much, but then all i'd have is this reminder of misplaced hopes, and i have enough reminders of that in my life, thank you).

in one other passage, there is discussion of finding the things you do well and doing them. and not doing the things you don't excel at. great. for the empty nester, this may be possible. i don't enjoy cooking, it is pure drudgery for me. if i were to take this example and apply it carte blanche to my life, it would be the foolish woman pulling down her house with her own hands. some may argue it is still that way, but i think the great failing of this author/editorial team is failing to direct the book at any one particular reader. it is written is such a way as to appeal to the greatest possible number of women, and left me feeling it appeals to no one in particular.

when choosing an audience, avoid exclusive language, but don't dilute your message so much it tastes like nothing in particular. that is pointless.

hope this has been helpful. it helped me get it off my chest. on to the next book review. fortunately it is C. Peter Wagner, a professor type. no mucky-muck highbrow writing there, he has a comfortable, easy as sunday morning writing style that i've grasped since i was 19. go figure. it is the simplicity on the other side of complexity i believe. makes all the difference in the world and is in stark contrast to the author quoted above.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

oh say, can you see?

after paying my respects and watching the horrible sept 11 footage (to remind us they say, i, for one, haven't forgotten), and spending the day in quiet contemplation, i went to a tx rangers game. (sigh)

(how was the sentence length dave?)

not that i'm a fan or anything. when i lived in LA (it looks weird lowercased) i went to dodger's games. not for the game or anything, to do what all californians do much of their lives, i went to work on my tan. bathing suit clad LA natives work on their tans everywhere, so why not at a baseball game?

but i digress.

the game was boring, but what else is new. early into it some guy hit a home run and FIREWORKS shot off as he rounded third and headed on home. he was a tx ranger (incase you were wondering, like i was if they did that for everyone, no only the rangers). ugh.

i leaned over to my dear, now long unemployed telecom engineer husband and said, that is the kind of job you need...where they set off fireworks just for you doing your job. he shot one of those, that is ridiculous smiles at me and i piped down.

but i was serious (as i can be), and contemplated it for most of the game. these guys are paid so much money, i would say millions, but are they all paid that much, i don't know. these guys are paid massive amounts of money TO PLAY a GAME.

i think the thing i miss most from the aftermath of sept 11 is the real men. some mag back then, read, the return of the real men. and said how things had changed. well, we've forgotten. we're back to ignoring the real men, and drooling over athletes and the famous whatever they did to get that way.

after the game (which ended none too soon in my opinion), there was a spectacular, i'm talking put gandalf's dragon fireworks to shame, fireworks show. it was the best i've ever seen. i was sitting there and couldn't help but think about those who weren't there enjoying freedom, excess, and some p&q (or at least r&r)--not because i'm so noble, but because it also happened to be honor the firemen and policemen night and some iraq war veterans were there (purple heart medaled all).

i caught a glimpse of one of the guys they jumbotronned, and his face and ear on the left side were mostly scars from severe burns.

it just struck me, how i was sitting there, enjoying my freedom, taking it for granted really and our servicemen and women are over there in iraq fighting in a war. sometimes i wish my inner philosopher would take a few prozac, (and don't get me started on the prozac thing, that is another topic for another time).

then i hear the relief pitcher of the rangers hucks a chair at a fan. my dh tells me they were horribly heckling him, but i don't care. there was some debate as to whether or not he should be prosecuted, and i ask, why shouldn't he? if he were me, and i threw that chair and broke someone's nose, you had better believe i'd be in jail and facing charges. but we drag our feet and coddle the famous and it just makes me sick.

i am glad they arrested him. i am sorry he was horribly heckled, but we have to set some standards for behaviour. his crossed the line. his rights ended where her nose began.

i'll stop ranting now. just something that's been simmering in ye olde crock potte.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

ruthless trust

i had to share this with you, these passages, this book, have inspired a poem i've included at the end...my journal, since late june, has become little more than end to end brennan manning quotes. i usually season my journals with quotes, but words have entirely failed me this season and i find myself with nothing to say, but brennan has said it for me, and for this, i am grateful.

ruthless trust by brennan manning

"Unwavering trust is a rare and precious thing because it often demands a degree of courage that borders on the heroic. when the shadow of Jesus' cross falls across our lives in the form of failure, rejection, abandonment, betrayal, unemployment, loneliness, depression, the loss of a loved one; when we are deaf to everything but the shriek of our own pain; when the world around us suddenly seems a hostile, menacing place--at these times we may cry out in anguish, 'how could a loving God permit this to happen?' at such moments the seeds of distrust are sown. It requires heroic courage to trust in the love of God no matter what happens to us."

"Trust must be purified in the crucible of trial."

"Uncompromising trust in the love of God inspires us to thank God for the spiritual darkness that envelops us, for the loss of income, for the nagging arthritis that is so painful, and to prayfrom the heart, 'Abba, into your hands I entrust my body, mind, and spirit and this entire day--morning, afternoon, evening, and night. Whatever you want of me, I want of me, falling into you and trusting in you in the midst of my life. Into your heart I entrust my heart, feeble distracted, insecure, uncertain. Abba, unto you I abandon myself in Jesus for an unanswered prayer, to give thanks in a state of inner desolation, to trust in the love of God in the face of the marvels, cruel circumstances, obscenities, and commonplaces of life is to whisper a doxology in darkness.'"

"The scandal of God's silence in the most heartbreaking hours of our journey is perceived in retrospect as veiled, tender Presence and a passage into pure trust that is not at the mercy of the response it receives."

"Sacred scripture is too important to be left entirely to biblical scholars. Theology is too vital to be consigned solely to the province of theologians. To explore the depths of the God who invites our trust, we need the artists and mystics."

"Rahner, one of the most important theologians of the twentieth century, declared that we need these artists and mystics to disrupt our complacency."

"[Catharine of Sienna] often began her prayers, 'O Divine Madman.'"

"To artists and mystics we must add the category of clowns--those who let God out of the box of predetermined propriety."

"This unlikely trio of artists, mystics, and clowns serves the ministry of the Word by expanding our understanding of the Kabod Yahweh through their original and startling insights; They deepen our trust by reminding us to submerge the enormous difficulty of suffering and evil in the borderless sea of infinite wisdom and absolute love; they force us to pose the question, 'Is God different from what we perceive?' They lay bare the incandescent Truth long concealed by ignorance, myopia, and inauthentic tradition: our perceptions of God, of our fellow ragamuffins, and of ourselves are flat-out wrong."

"...brutal criticism had savaged her self-worth. What ensued was predictable. Send in the artist, mystics, and clowns. Their fertile imaginations pours the new wine of the gospel into fresh wineskins (Luke 5:38). With fresh language, poetic vision, and striking symbols, they express God's inexpressible Word in artistic forms that are charged with the power of God, engaging the minds and stirring our hearts as they flare and flame."

"Those who look beyond the literal see the world as a metaphor for God. When they direct us to the majesty of the mountains, to the beauty of the prairies, the variety of the wildflowers, along the roadside, the smell of mint and hay on a summer morning, the rumble of a train through the valley, the sound of a waterfall, they birth the Word in our midst. They dare us to dream of our homeland, where eye has not seen, neither has ear heard, nor has the imagination conceived of the beauty that awaits us."

"The most common form of presumption is the expectation that God will directly and secretly intervene in human affairs. We presume that by saying, 'Lord, Lord,' the cancer, or bankruptcy, or infidelity will disappear. We presume that God answers all prayers by assuring good outcomes, that food for the widows and orphans will fall from heaven, that the Holy One infallibly guarantees a baby's safe delivery, and that God will certainly sell our houses at the desired price if we plant a statue of Joseph upside down in the backyard. The theological arguments that support an interventionary God are many and varied. Frequently, people report that they have experienced a physical cure or an inner healing. And they have. 'Yet,' as John Shea writes, 'one brutal historical fact remains--Jesus is mercilessly nailed to the cross and despite the Matthean boast, twelve legions of angels did not save him that hour. No cop-out redemption theories that say God wanted it that way explain the lonely and unvisited death of God's son. This side of the grave Jesus is left totally invalidated by the Lord of heaven and earth. Trust in God does not presume that God will intervene.' Often trust begins at the far side of despair. When all human resources are exhausted, when the craving for reassurances is stifled, when we forgo control, when we cease trying to manipulate God and demystify Mystery, then--at our wits' end--trust happens within us, and the untainted cry, 'Abba, into your hands I commend my spirit,' surges from the heart."


ii kings xx



demystified Mystery
swirling pillar of cloud
blazing fire unconsuming
cloaked Revelation
veiled clarity
by Thyself again
for i have robbed Thee
of Thy mystery
i have sullied
Thy perfection
manhandling the Sovereign
i have diminished Thy greatness
in my life
forgive me
i resign
minor sovereign
i rescind
my professions
which have limited
Thy limiteless power
demystified Mystery
come to me again
in pain or glory
i receive Thy will.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

book reviewz

this is all for now...

nancy guthrie’s Holding on to Hope


judson cornwall's dying with grace

Monday, September 06, 2004

more book reviewz published

hey gang, here are a few more book reviews that just hit the website:

God: As He Longs for You to See Him by Chip Ingram

Naked Fruit: Getting Honest About the Fruit of the Spirit by Elisa Morgan


Think Like Jesus: Make the Right Decision Every Time by George Barna

these aren't even all of them! i've been a busy goil.

Friday, September 03, 2004

book review published

if you are curious to read what i wrote about that book i mentioned as being thoroughly non-Christian, here is the link:

What Queen Esther Knew

Thursday, September 02, 2004

a day in the life of a homeschooler

i really need to clean the house, but...

we've had unseasonably cool weather in texas for the entire summer. it is fall now and time to start opening windows and coming out of hibernation (for me anyway). i've never lived in a harshly cold climate, being from so. cal, arizona, now texas--so i consider myself a cold weather person. one winter in chicago and i am sure i'd change my opinion.

the hubster brought home a gecko two days ago. we set up a terrarium and started reading up on keeping these little critters. when i realized there was a need to handle and keep live food, i got a bit apprehensive. but fair weather prevailed and out into the backyard we went.

we live on an acre (country enough for a city girl i always say), and get a fine selection of butterflies wafting through our yard. when we arrived home yesterday we were greeted by a large yellow and black striped tiger swallowtail a huge monarch, and like many others, our land is frequented by common sulphers.

we weren't on a mission to catch and identify butterflies this day, but small insects to feed our gecko. unemployment still hangs heavily upon us, but the yard is an excellent resource for feeding our new little mouth.

net in hand, i lumbered (i no longer gracefully flit or prance or anything, basically, i lumber) out to see what i could catch. i caught a large grasshopper. about an inch and a half in length. then a few small victims.

did you know that in some states it is illegal to pull the legs off crickets before feeding them to lizards? they are live food, why would pulling their legs off before feeding them to something be a crime? i don't get that and it roused great perplexity in the human condition (where we suck live babies out of wombs by "choice" but can't pull legs off a cricket. ugh!).

anyway, back to the grasshoppers. we caught a huge one, then later that afternoon, another slightly smaller one. i put them in the container and set them aside while i went about the things i had to do. those grasshoppies created such a ruckus i wasn't sure i'd keep them. they were making horrible noises like grasshopperlechter was trying to dismember and devour his cellmate.

they eventually settled down and when i went to investigate the silence, i found them locked in the embrace of love. spindly legs interwoven, the smaller grasshoppy had mounted the larger and had imbedded himself (rather awkwardly i might add)into her abdomen. i was intrigued by this turn of events and called my girl over.

they're mating (my husband informs me that before then she had only known this activity to be "wrestling" :D oh well.). we discuss the intricacies of mating (in as few details as possible) and watch for a while, then set the container down. we happened to have them in a clear container, so it was easy to gaze at their l'amour for any length of time, from any angle. (weird ha?)

anywhoo, i looked over at their container from time to time and finally at the clock because i thought it would make a humorous story to know they had been entangled for, say, a half hour or however long it took. how long does it take?

well, let's just say, i first looked at the clock about a half hour into their embrace at 3:10 pm. i checked back from occasion, and would quip to my girl, they are still "doing it" an unfortunate expression she now understands in terms of grasshoppies that is. two hours later. yeup. five hours later. wow. i was beginning to get bored, but i don't bore that easily. when i went to bed sometime after 11 pm, they were still locked in love's embrace. can you believe it?

i expected to find him dead on the bottom of the container. but no. they were nonchalant this morning, like nothing happened. i understood why some insects eat their mates after mating, maybe it is the only way to get them off their back! literally.

what does all this mean and why am i telling you, who knows. i just thought it was hilarious. i'll let you know when the babies arrive. those two solved my live bait problem, that's for sure. i don't mind handling grasshoppers, they don't look as dark and evil as crickets. hope our gecko likes grasshoppies.

...now back to cleaning!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

predictable

in one of the books i am reviewing (i have three left and four more en route), this sentence was written with the best intentions, but it is bugging me.
In the best sense, God is predictable
ugh. who wants to serve a predictable God? even if the author is referring to the positive attributes of God, i have never found Him to be predictable. this statement, in my mind, implies that if God is predictable in any sense, we are able to "conceive" Him. to understand Him. to know Him. we aren't. i am tired of reading books and hearing preachers, and listening to people talk about God as if He were knowable. He is utterly inscrutable. unsearchable. even His positive attributes are beyond our breadth and knowledge. the book is otherwise sound, but this statement alone is so grossly inaccurate, i just can't get it out of my mind.

i finished the bad review, and will post when it is published. hopefully i was gracious. we'll see. i haven't had anything to say lately, so that is why i haven't blogged. no other reason. blessings all!