Thursday, February 25, 2010

Like...Awesome, Dude!

This post will be a bit of a rant...a rant against the decline of the English language. Where to begin? This may have to be more than one post. I'll try not to rant too caustically.

Let's take the word LIKE. It used to only be used when making a comparison between two objects. "You're beginning to look just like your mother!" Or, it was used to indicate a preference. "I like blue better than orange."

Now, it's used every other word and has become almost useless. " at the saw this little boy that really bad." I don't exaggerate.

I have a heart for young mothers and enjoy their company. I figure that as a mother of five and grandmother of four, I might have some insights that could help them on their own journeys. So I spend time with them whenever I can. But get a few of them together, and they immediately become a bunch of valley girls. Every other word is "like". It makes me crazy. I can't even have a decent conversation I get so discombobulated.

And how about awesome? That used to be a word that meant something much bigger than good or great. You used it to describe God. Now it just means "cool". I mean "totally cool". That's another one; totally.

Words are so important and should be chosen with care. The Bible speaks about words and their importance in many, many passages. That one word 'WORD' takes up four big pages in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. Jesus is THE WORD. Words have power to heal or to destroy.

Reading this morning in Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle, I had many 'Aha!" moments. One thing I like is her ability to take all the unformed thoughts swirling around in my cauldron-like head and put them into words that make sense and help me understand myself better. There again, words have power.

Here's what she says about the power of language. "We cannot Name or be Named without language. If our vocabulary dwindles to a few shopworn words, we are setting ourselves up for takeover by a dictator. When language becomes exhausted, our freedom dwindles--we cannot think; we do not recognize danger; injustice strikes us as no more than "the way things are". I might even go to the extreme of declaring that the deliberate diminution of vocabulary by a dictator, or an advertising copywriter, is anti-Christian." Pretty strong words with which I happen to agree.

Along those same lines, she says, "In times of war language always dwindles, vocabulary is lost; and we live in a century of war. This diminution is worldwide. In Japan, after the Second World War, so many written characters were lost that it is difficult, if not impossible, for the present-day college student to read the words of the great classical masters." Russia has had the same problem. So it has always been. She gives Dante and others as examples of being preservers of language in times of war.

A few more words from the same book..."We think because we have words, not the other way around. The more words we have, the better able we are to think conceptually." She also talks about the changing of the Book of Common Prayer, hymns, Shakespeare, and the King James Bible. But don't get me started THERE!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ash Friday

I've tried for the last twenty minutes to attach a photo of myself to this blog post, and I'm giving up. Which, now that I think about it, is appropriate. You'll see why in a minute.

I missed Ash Wednesday. I wasn't even sure what it meant until I read other blog posts about it. I feel that I've missed out on some great church traditions being raised Southern Baptist and now Presbyterian. I should have known what Ash Wednesday was all about, but I didn't.

So I've been reading up this week on Lent. I like the idea of it. To give up something we cherish, perhaps too deeply, in order to think more on Christ and what He gave up in order to reclaim mankind.

So what to give up? I ponder on this as I stride angrily about outside doing different chores...anything to keep me outside in the cold long enough to cool off a little inside and out. Anger boils up inside me over things too deep to analyze; some not so deep. A recent argument with an eleven year old. A recent argument with a twenty five year old. No respect. Just leave me alone. Get a job. Get a life. Do your schoolwork!

As I'm emptying the ash bucket I stop and look down. Gray ashes burnt up and lifeless. Like I feel. I reach down and touch my finger to the soft remains and then place it between my eyes on my forehead. Ash Friday...what do I give up?

Myself. I give up my anger and self-righteous attitude. For the next forty days I'm going to try to not think about myself. Every time "I" pop into my thoughts, I'm going to deliberately turn that "I" into an "other". I tried it for the rest of the day, and it worked. I started feeling better mentally and physically.

Some background: I've been sick for the last two weeks and have spent it mostly at home huddled around a fire. As much as I love being home and having fires, my spirit doesn't benefit from too much of it. Everything turns inward and focuses on self.

Another thing I do is read self-help books focusing on the artistic nature. I don't think there's anything wrong with these books, but I make myself think I'm being productive by reading them instead of actually making art.

So no more "self" books or inward, selfish thinking until Easter. That's why I don't need a picture of myself attached to this post.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Basis of Simplicity-Part I

Finally, someone explained to me the heart of simplicity. I found it in a book called Celebration of Discipline-The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster.

I've been doing all the right external things to make our lives simpler; decluttering, not doing too many things, staying home more, etc. All these things are good and have caused me to be calmer.

But simplicity should begin in the heart and then move outward. I've been doing it backwards.

Here's what Mr. Foster says about simplicity. "Simplicity is the only thing that can sufficiently reorient our lives so that possessions can be genuinely enjoyed without destroying us. Without simplicity we will either capitulate to the "mammon" spirit of this present evil age, or we will fall into an un-Christian legalistic asceticism. Both lead to idolatry. Both are spiritually lethal. Asceticism and simplicity are mutually incompatible. Asceticism renounces possessions. Simplicity sets possessions in proper perspective.

Simplicity sets us free to receive the provision of God as a gift that is not ours to keep, and that can be freely shared with others. Once we recognize that the Bible denounces the materialist and the ascetic with equal vigor, we are prepared to turn our attention to the framing of a Christian understanding of simplicity.

Nothing must come before the kingdom of God, including the desire for a simple lifestyle. Simplicity becomes idolatry when it takes precedence over seeking the kingdom.

Freedom from anxiety is one of the inward evidences of seeking the kingdom of God first. The inward reality of simplicity involves a life of joyful unconcern for possessions. Neither the greedy nor the miserly know that liberty. It has nothing to do with abundance of possessions or their lack. It is an INWARD SPIRIT OF TRUST. The sheer fact that a person is living without things is no guarantee that he or she is living in simplicity."

To be continued...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Review of The Shack

There's been much debate about the book The Shack. I found this review of the book by Dr. Tim Keller who is the senior pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.
I agree with him, even though I mostly liked the book. But there were parts that left me cold. Be sure and read all the comments that follow Pastor Keller's post. Youtube also has a review by Pastor Mark Driscoll.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Most Important Thing To Do Here is the link you can use to send a letter to the appropriate officials urging them not to vote for President Obama's nominee for Assistant Attorney General.

This woman is a radical feminist who thinks that having a baby is "involuntary servitude". Let all your friends know too. We DO make a difference if we'll take the time. For the sake of our nation and millions of unborn babies, please do.