Friday, May 23, 2008

Three Tiny Thoughts Before Bed

¤ One week of class down, and already WAY behind. Sigh. {Some things never change ...}
¤ 60 Amish have moved from Wisconsin and New York to southern Indiana. The name of their new Crawford County hometown? English. {And I thought they moved to get away from the English ...}
¤ After tomorrow I'll have a real shot of me looking like this, after my first-ever fencing tournament in Cincinnati. {Granted, I have yet to purchase real gear of my own, so I won't look fully official, but still ...}

Yay for sharp stabby pointy things!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Assignment #1

"This is how you are to pray: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." How does your image of God affect how you approach God in prayer?

And herein lies a major reason for the taking of this course – the grappling with technicalities. After all, God is big, broad, abstract; uncontainable in any single word, concept, or image; so far beyond anything that we can imagine; powerful and knowledgeable beyond that which the mind can grasp. How does one put human words to that?

And yet, if one has no concept as to who is being addressed, then how does one even know there is an “other” being addressed? What makes words randomly cast out into the vast unknown any different than words directed to a vast unknown? Does the mere mention of a name render that distinction? I can’t imagine so. After all, if I’m sitting in my room by myself and I suddenly call out “Gretchen”, my college roommate does not suddenly materialize before me, nor is she even aware of what I’ve said after her name. Likewise, if God is always there, simply saying the word doesn’t change his presence or status. Besides, isn’t God always listening?

And God IS always present, God IS always listening. My requesting some ears doesn’t make them any more present than my not saying anything leads to their absence. Nor does my following “God” with some announcement of the latest student antics tell him anything he didn’t know before. It’s like telling someone to drive safe – “Oh, I hadn’t even thought of that. I was actually contemplating getting into a three-car pile-up, but since you’ve put it that way…” – my asking God to take care of someone doesn’t suggest anything brilliantly new.

There’s the old line about how “Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes us” … which then would lead to the question of what makes prayer different than thoughts; what makes talking to God different than talking to oneself; what makes the distinction between God “responding” and one’s own thoughts.

In terms of an image of God … I have this photograph I took in Appalachia a few years back, of the sun setting over the mountain lake. The sun is not directly visible, and yet it is obvious that the sun is there, from both the rays and the reflection. I had a student once say that “God is like a puzzle, but we can’t tell what the picture is because we all are the pieces.” Neither image lends itself to a conversational target, and yet both speak to an incontestable entity permeating throughout all aspects of life.

The absence of words does not imply an absence of spirit, nor does an absence of comprehension imply an absence of faith. I often think that “persistence has got to count for something”, that it’s the attempt that counts; yet, oftentimes, the attempt gets negated and dismissed as “just words”. A struggle that occasionally disappears into the woodwork, but more often inspires a self-proclaimed attitude of fakerness and hypocrisy.

And so I enter into this course: an attempt to return the self-imposed hypocrisy to the woodwork, and to infuse the sense of innocence back into my spirit.

To quote Madeleine L’Engle: Who is this creator to whom I cry out, “Help!” How can I believe in a God who cares about individual lives on one small and unimportant planet? I don’t know. I just don’t know. But I cannot turn away from the hope and the mystery which can never be understood. I know only that when I cry out, “Help!” the fact that I am crying out affirms that somewhere in some part of me I hope that there is someone who hears, who cares. The One I cry out to is not limited by size or number, and can be glimpsed only in metaphor, that chief tool off imagery of the poet. And it is only in the high language of poetry that anything can be said about God.

And so I try … if nothing else, to remind myself not to turn away from the hope, even if the mystery seems too great. And thus I enter this new round of study.

Back to the Homework Grind ... and, perhaps, the Blog?

OK, so I'm taking an online course through Dayton's Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation. A couple years ago I tried the Social Justice course but, true to slacker form, didn't finish it. Of course, I think I deserve a little credit for the fact that I didn't know there was some big ol' project to finish it out. Plus, I was in the middle of community craziness and all sorts of other excuses that I could concoct. Unfortunately, when Slacker Me missed the registration deadline of last Wednesday & emailed to see if I could still do it, the lady looked me up and let me know my registration info from before. Dagnabbit! I was hoping to create a new account, rather than having this "Did Not Finish" on my permanent record. It doesn't help that my account name is "sayosb" --- how's that for an in-your-face ever time I log in?

Regardless .... at some point last week my brain got away from me, and I foolishly signed myself up for Introduction to Prayer (As in all relationships, communication is vital to its sustained growth. Prayer is the means by which God and we communicate. In prayer, God invites us to a deepening and continuing relationship. At the same time, we express our thoughts, desires and needs. Prayer guides us in our everyday lives and helps us to foster an abiding relationship with the One who loves us beyond all others. This course introduces the participants to the rich tradition and experience of prayer that will enable them to continually grow in the way in which God and we communicate.) As I said, I'm not quite sure what my fingers were smoking, but I can say that my roommate is quite gleeful in her gloating that I'm actually attempting taking this course.

So, at her brainwashing suggestion, I will possibly be posting my work on both the course website and on here, with the ultimate intent that this will get me back into the long-desired BlogWorld.

Quite honestly, part of my absence from the blog has been the fact that my previous blog had to "disappear" in an organized-crime kind of way. This whole thing of having to recreate myself once more is not the most exciting, and considering that I still think that there's a lot of value to that which I typed in previous years, I'm kinda ticked that it all had to disapparate. Needless to say, rather than deleting everything, I did a "Save Post As Draft" so _I_ still have access to them, but that doesn't help people who come to my blog. But cross-posting them here doesn't really necessarily make sense either, given the changes in life circumstances.

But, I'm digressing. Suffice it to say that I don't like that my blog-personality has to begin again from scratch, and that's made me reluctant to jump those hoops again. At the same time, I miss all my bloggy connections, and want to get back that virtual community that I liked so much.

So ..... here's my schoolwork as I do it. Interspersed within it, hopefully, will be new postings and thoughts as well. Please just understand that this is not my norm, that these homeworks are reaching FAR beyond my comfort zone. But the way I figure it ...... I now have added motivation to post stuff apart from classwork, so that maybe this P-Word stuff can get lost in the shuffle.

It's a nice thought, anyway.....

And, yes, now that I'm blogging, I'll make this little place a bit more home-y .... hang some links up in the sidebar, readjust the colors, etc. Kinda stinky --- I had just gotten my HTML skillz down pat and Blogger had to change their coding. Just another speed-hump on my road to Blog-covery .....

Friday, May 16, 2008

Does anyone else think this is odd?

Secret Service: No guns allowed at NRA event with John McCain

So ..... this is an event that's advertised on billboards all over here in Loovul, the national NRA convention with "Acres of Guns and Gear" .... but no guns will be allowed when McCain comes to talk? Are they going to clear out all the sales tables? And isn't this the same group that insists that guns are safe and can be trusted ..... and yet they have no problem having guns be banned? [We just saw on the morning news the NRA lady talking about how they are all law-abiding people and they fully support this ruling.]

Summary: Guns are good, gun-owners are safe, but no guns will be allowed at the gun-owning convention because something bad might happen. I guess they're afraid of a bad person sneaking in with a gun ......

Monday, May 12, 2008

You Make A Very Good Point

Question posed by the roommate while watching the local morning news show:

Why can we raise the price of stamps and the price of gas but not raise minimum wage? How can we think that people can live off $5.15 an hour when gas is $4.00 a gallon?

Took me a minute to process that the gas tank needs multiple $4.00 deposits to fill it up.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bluff the Listener

In honor of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me's game of finding the real news story among some not-so-real ones, I present some headlines for your consideration:

»»» An epilepsy web forum was bombarded with multitudes of little flashing animations --- all the better to seize you with, my dear.

»»» In honor of the 100th anniversary of Mother's Day, House Republicans asked for an individual vote on H Res 1113 "so their mothers could be proud of their children's support" --- and then proceeded to vote unanimously against the Republican-sponsored annual matriarchal honor.

»»» Symbolic comparisons have been drawn between the fate of Kentucky Derby runner-up Eight Belles and her supporter Hilary Clinton --- and this was before Tuesday's primaries.

»»» President Bush promised $770 million in international food aid, beginning in October -- $50 million less than is spent on two days of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Awww, heck .... who am I kidding? Like I could make up anything better?!?!?