Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday

This is #46 of the Tao Teh Ching by Lao Tzu, translated by John C. H. Wu:
There is no calamity like not knowing what is enough.
There is no evil like covetousness.
Only he who knows what is enough will always have enough.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving greetings

May your day be wonderful.  That is all.  Carry on.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Word ~ inveigle

"Could I inveigle you into feeding Babe in the evening?"

Oh, what a wonderful word!  I haven't heard or seen it used in years.  My friend Jane is having day surgery in the morning, and her son and his wife want to take her home with them afterwards.  So she emailed me the request about feeding her cat.  That's Babe in the photo I took last year when I took care of her while Jane was on a trip.

But back to the word.  Have you ever used "inveigle" yourself?  Have you heard it said?  Have you read it in a book?
in·vei·gle = verb: persuade (someone) to do something by means of deception or flattery.
"We cannot inveigle him into putting pen to paper."
Synonyms:  entice, tempt, lure, seduce, beguile, wheedle, cajole, coax, persuade.
Informal usage:  sweet-talk, soft-soap, con, sucker, snow.
"Planted in colleges are members whose only mission is to inveigle unsuspecting students into the cult."
Cross-posted on my word blog.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Salon ~ baby shower books

Guess How Much I Love You ~ by Sam McBratney, 1994, board book
Little Nutbrown Hare wants very much to impress Big Nutbrown Hare with the enormous scale of his devotion, but ends up being the one who's impressed.
Tickle Time! ~ by Sandra Boynton, 1996, 2004, 2012, board book
If you’re feeling blue / and you don’t know what to do
there is nothing like a / TICKLE TIME
to make you feel like new.
Today, there's a shower for my great-granddaughter, due on January 4, 2014.  My friend Donna suggested we give her books (after all, we used to have a bookstore) to go along with what each of us chose from the registry.  These two books are the ones we got for her.  Now I hope I can find their new house that they've just moved into.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Whimsical art

Graphic designer Javier Pérez has a playful series called Instagram Experiments, which uses a variety of everyday objects and simple line drawings.  These are the ones I especially liked.  Click the link to see several others.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday Mindfulness ~ heron and frog

I was sort of a day early with my mindful meditation, posting a haiku about a frog yesterday.  In the afternoon, I went with a couple of friends to our nearby lake and watched a heron stand silently until we wandered too close to where he stood silently watchful in the water.  Disturbed, he flew away with great sweeps of his mighty wings, much like this photo of another heron in the floodwaters behind my house a couple of years ago.  (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)  Yesterday's giant bird flew out to an island and stood there majestically.  We saw another heron as we traversed the winding road out of the park.

Our "heron moments" were framed by the attention we gave that tall bird standing just off-shore in the shallow water, watching for fish.  Or maybe frogs.  Like the one I posted yesterday, or this less neon-green frog, half-submerged in his pond.  Thinking about Basho's frog-splash haiku focused my attention on the heron, which I pointed out to my friends Jane and Tillie.  When I came home, a distant Facebook friend had posted this poem about a heron.  How many coincidences can one day hold?

"The Heron"
by Jack Ridl

Whenever we noticed her
standing in the stream, still
as a branch in dead air, we
would grab our binoculars,
watch her watching,
her eye fixed on the water
slowly making its own way
around stumps, over a boulder,
under some leaves matted against
a fallen log. She seemed
to appear, stand, peer, then
lift one leg, stretch it, let
a foot quietly settle into the mud
then pull up her other foot, settle
it, and stare again, each step
tendered, an ideogram at the end
of a calligrapher's brush.
Every time she arrived, we watched
until, as if she had suddenly heard
a call in the sky, she would bend
her knees, raise her wide wings,
and lift into the welcome grace
of the air, her legs extending
back behind her, wings rising
and falling elegant under the clouds:
For more than a week now
we have not seen her. We watch
the sky, hoping to catch her great
feathered cross moving above the trees.

"The Heron" by Jack Ridl
from Practicing to Walk like a Heron
© Wayne State University Press

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday Salon ~ haiku

An old silent pond.
Into the pond a frog jumps.
Splash!  Silence again.
— Basho

Frederick Buechner quoted Basho's haiku in Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter's Dictionary (1993), then went on to say under his category of ART on page 15:
It is perhaps the best known of all Japanese haiku.  No subject could be more humdrum.  No language could be more pedestrian.  Basho, the poet, makes no comment on what he is describing.  He implies no meaning, message, or metaphor.  He simply invites our attention to no more and no less than just this:  the old pond in its watery stillness, the kerplunk of the frog, the gradual return of the stillness.

In effect he is putting a frame around the moment, and what the frame does is enable us to see not just something about the moment but the moment itself in all its ineffable ordinariness and particularity.  The chances are that if we had been passing by when the frog jumped, we wouldn't have noticed a thing or, noticing it, wouldn't have given it a second thought.  But the frame sets it off from everything else that distracts usz.  It makes possible a second thought.  That is the nature and purpose of frames.  The frame does not change the moment, but it changes our way of perceiving the moment.  It makes us NOTICE the moment, and that is what Basho wants above all else.  It is what literature in general wants above all else too.

From the simplest lyric to the most complex novel and densest drama, literature is asking us to pay attention.  Pay attention to the frog.  Pay attention to the west wind.  Pay attention to the boy on the raft, the lady in the tower, the old man on the train.  In sum, pay attention to the world and all that dwells therein and thereby learn at last to pay attention to ourself and all that dwells therein.
What do you notice when you stop — right now — to pay attention?

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Library Loot ~ November 6-12

Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter's Dictionary ~ by Frederick Buechner, 1993
A wry and thought-provoking jaunt through the spiritual terrain of our everyday language — a lexicon of uncommon insight to jar the mind and nourish the soul.  "I think of faith as a kind of whistling in the dark, because in much the same way," writes Buechner, "it helps to give us courage and to hold the shadows at bay."
After I requested this book, I noticed it was unavailable because nobody could find the copy we were supposed to have.  But I remained number one of one persons requesting it — for weeks.  Several times, I started to delete my name.  But I was curious why they didn't just tell me it was lost.  Then I got the notice that the book was ready for me.  When I picked it up, I noticed it's a brand-new book!  They replaced an old book just for me.  It's a new, uncreased, never opened or read book.
"The subtitle is 'A Doubter's Dictionary' because it is to doubters that this ABC is primarily directed:  doubters both as those who are more or less outside the Church and also as those who are more or less inside but still wonder every once in a while if the whole religious enterprise has anything to do with reality.  I believe that it does.  I believe that no matter how tedious, unimaginative, banal, unconvincing, and seemingly irrelevant the Church's proclamation of the mystery of a loving God often is ... that mystery is as much a part of reality as the air we breathe." — Frederick Buechner in the Introduction (p. xi)
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Marg @ The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages us to share titles of books we’ve checked out of the library.  Add your link any time during the week, and see what others got this week.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A random Friday Five

RevKarla @  RevGalBlogPals brings us today's Friday Five:  "So here we go, another random Friday Five!"

1.  What’s up?  How are you?
I just finished teaching the 9-month, in-depth Disciple Bible Study to a great group of women.  Besides committing 5-6 hours a week studying the whole Bible, they were willing to add extra work (and weeks) for themselves by reading and discussing two books from the Apocrypha (Tobit and Susanna) and three of the books discovered at Nag Hammadi in Egypt (The Thunder: Perfect Mind, Gospel of Thomas, and Gospel of Mary).  Best study group ever! 
2.  If you were a Panda Bear that could speak    O.k., that is too random even for me.  You are moving to a new office.  You can only take five books with you (pretend there is no thing such as kindle, nook, etc.).  What would they be BESIDES the Bible, which is already written on your hearts, yes?
Since I have a pretty good memory, I have the important books I've read "written on my heart" along with the Bible.  So I choose five books I have on hand, some of which I've already started reading.

(i)  Welcome to the Wisdom of the World and Its Meaning for You: Universal Spiritual Insights Distilled from Five Religious Traditions ~ by Joan Chittister, 2007 ... The five religious traditions are Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Because I bought this book "used," I'll be in dialogue with whoever added the thoughtful notations.  It's like having two conversation partners, the author and the first reader of the book.

(ii)  The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God ~ by Steve McSwain, 2010 ... A book that unites people, an author who understands how religion can subvert a spiritual life, a testimonial to the innate dangers of fundamentalist thinking, a book that reassures those disillusioned by faith that they can navigate their way back to God and even experience a profound spiritual awakening.

(iii)  Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth ~ by Reza Aslan, 2013 ... sheds new light on one of history’s most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived:   first-century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor.

(iv)  The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions ~ by Philip Novak, 1994 ... A world Bible for our time from Buddhist, Hindu, Confucian, Taoist, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and primal religion sources.

(v)  Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim: A Personal Manual for Prayer and Ritual ~ by Edward Hays, 2008 ... Urges readers out of the narrow mindset of praying for one's personal needs and into a way of prayer that is both global and cosmic.  Poetic psalms, poignant blessings, and original rituals provide creative prayer experiences for the days of the week, the seasons of the year, and the extraordinary days of life.
3.  If you had a superpower that could give you a five hour retreat, and you could go anywhere in the world to spend those five hours on retreat (because you have superpowers, ya’ know?), where would you go?
I'd stay right here in Chattanooga, where the only superpower necessary would be driving my car up any mountain for a view like this one (photo by my sister-in-law, Carol).
4.  What piece of music, song, hymn, etc. are you diggin’ right now?
As the closing "Last Supper Together" service of my Disciple group, we went to a nice restaurant to a reserved table in a corner (so we could spread out our books).  We were there for two-and-a-half hours! We'd already learned this song — "Bind Us Together" — so we were able to sing it a capella, without being heard by even the nearby tables, because of the busy lunchtime hubbub.

Bind us together, Lord,
Bind us together
With cords that cannot be broken.
Bind us together, Lord,
Bind us together,
Bind us together with love.
5.  Use the following words in a sentence (or two):  Tangle, dribble, hook, Panda, shark, smile, worry, island.
I smile because you think I'm going to sit here and come up with a way to use "tangle, dribble, hook, panda, shark, worry, island" in a sentence or two.  (Oops!  I just did!)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim ~ teaser

Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim: A Personal Manual for Prayer and Ritual ~ by Edward Hays, 2008
"Christianity is an indoor religion. The windows of our churches are stained, and while beautiful, they prevent worshippers from seeing and praying in communion with creation."
— from the Preface to the New Edition, page vii

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Salon ~ it's about time

Before I forget it, all you folks in the United States were supposed to turn back your clocks this morning.  Did you do it?  If not, you have an additional hour to get wherever you were planning to go.


Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death ~ by Katy Butler, 2013, memoir
Katy Butler's parents wanted “Good Deaths,” but forces within medicine stood in the way.  Butler was living thousands of miles from her vigorous and self-reliant parents when the call came:  a crippling stroke had left her proud seventy-nine-year-old father unable to fasten a belt or complete a sentence.  Tragedy at first drew the family closer:  her mother devoted herself to caregiving, and Butler joined the twenty-four million Americans helping shepherd parents through their final declines.  Then doctors outfitted her father with a pacemaker, keeping his heart going but doing nothing to prevent his six-year slide into dementia, near-blindness, and misery.  When he told his exhausted wife, “I’m living too long,” mother and daughter were forced to confront a series of wrenching moral questions.
  • When does death stop being a curse and become a blessing?
  • Where is the line between saving a life and prolonging a dying?
  • When do you say to a doctor, “Let my loved one go?”
When doctors refused to disable the pacemaker, condemning her father to a prolonged and agonizing death, Butler set out to understand why.  Her quest had barely begun when her mother took another path.  Faced with her own grave illness, she rebelled against her doctors, refused open-heart surgery, and met death head-on.  With a reporter’s skill and a daughter’s love, Butler explores what happens when our terror of death collides with the technological imperatives of medicine.  Her provocative thesis is that modern medicine, in its pursuit of maximum longevity, often creates more suffering than it prevents.   This revolutionary blend of memoir and investigative reporting lays bare the tangled web of technology, medicine, and commerce that dying has become.  And it chronicles the rise of Slow Medicine, a new movement trying to reclaim the “Good Deaths” our ancestors prized.  This book is a map through the labyrinth of a broken medical system.  It will inspire the difficult conversations we need to have with loved ones as it illuminates the path to a better way of death.


Princess Raegan at the ice show is quite a change of character from last week's funny face with Cheetos.  She's four and a half.

I like the roses decorating her sleeves.  She attended Disney on Ice: Princesses and Heroes last Sunday, October 27th, with her parents and both sets of grandparents.

Meanwhile, Jaxon went to the beach last month with his parents.  He'll turn three in December.

And here's Jaxon as Mr. Peanut for Halloween.  Raegan and Jaxon are my two great-grandchildren, and Jaxon will soon have a baby sister.

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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Caturday ~ charge conference

United Methodists — especially United Methodist clergypersons — will understand this question completely.  'Tis the season for each UM Church to have its annual charge conference, where paperwork is completed and filed with the District Superintendent in a meeting to look at how well (or poorly) the church has done during the past year.  I may be retired, but there's no such thing as a former ordained United Methodist pastor when it comes to marrying, burying, or preaching.  Therefore, at my church's charge conference on Monday evening, copies of my "Report of Retired Pastor—2013" will be among the reports in the stacks of paper (one copy for the district office, one for the church, one for the pastor herself).

To answer Grumpy Cat's "do I have to?" question ... No, Grumpy Cat, we'd actually rather you not come to the meeting.  As for myself, do I have to?  No, technically I don't have to attend, as long as I send in my report.  But I do plan to be there — Monday evening, November 4th, 7:00 pm — yep, I'll be there.  So will these characters, apparently.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Beginning ~ with words that alienate

First paragraph
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me," says the old proverb.  We now know that this is a lie.  Words can wound, alienate, and degrade people.  Language can also affirm and express love.  Care for language is a show of concern for people and a revelation of the attitudes of the speaker.
The Inclusive Bible: The First Egalitarian Translation ~ by Priests for Equality, 2007
From the back cover:  "Although this new Bible is certainly an inclusive-language translation, it is much more:  it is a re-imagining of the scriptures and our relationship to them.  Not merely replacing male pronouns, the translators have rethought what kind of language has built barriers between the text and its readers.  Seeking to be faithful to the original languages, they have sought new and non-sexist ways to express the same ancient truths.  The Inclusive Bible is a fresh, dynamic translation of the Bible into modern English, carefully crafted to let the power and poetry of the language shine forth — particularly when read aloud — giving it an immediacy and intimacy rarely found in traditional translations."
This book was delivered today by UPS, so I haven't really started reading it yet.  At 799 pages, plus the vii pages (7 pages) of the Preface, it isn't really intended to be read straight through.  One unique thing about this Bible's layout is that the Hebrew Scriptures are laid out in the order used by the Jewish Tanakh:
The Torah (Law)
The Prophets
The Writings
When Jesus referred to "the Law and the Prophets," he was using a short-cut name for his Jewish scriptures.  Those are two of the three sections of his Bible.
Matthew 7:12  "In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets."

Matthew 22:36  "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"
 37 He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
 38 This is the greatest and first commandment.
 39 And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
In this version, the Writings include books used by Catholics that are not part of Jewish scriptures.  Protestants put those "extra" writings into what is called the Apocrypha.  The important point is that this version intends to be both inclusive and egalitarian.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.