Saturday, June 30, 2018

Books flying and clothes dancing

Books flying away (page 63)
The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter ~ text and drawings by Margareta Magnusson, 2018, self-help, 8/10
In Sweden there is a kind of decluttering called döstädning, meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.”  This surprising and invigorating process of clearing out unnecessary belongings can be undertaken at any age or life stage, but should be done sooner than later, before others have to do it for you.  Magnusson, with Scandinavian humor and wisdom, instructs readers to embrace minimalism.  Her radical and joyous method for putting things in order helps families broach sensitive conversations and makes the process uplifting rather than overwhelming.  She suggests which possessions you can easily get rid of (unworn clothes, unwanted presents, more plates than you’d ever use) and which you might want to keep (photographs, love letters, a few of your children’s art projects).
At 128 pages, this is a quick read, and I love the author's drawings.  My favorite is the books flying away (shown above).  Books and papers are my biggest problem, so it isn't surprising I marked these two quotes:
"I own too many clothes and too many books and I do not need sixteen plates when there is only room for six around my table" (p. 53).

"I only keep books that I still haven't read or books that I keep returning to" (p. 62).
Old clothes dancing away (page 58)
And then there's this great drawing of old clothes dancing away.  I found a video from the Washington Post about Margareta Magnusson, which summarizes her hints on decluttering.  It's only 2 minutes and 20 seconds long and well worth it.
"If your family doesn't want your stuff when you're alive, they sure won't want it when you're dead" (from the article).
Okay, this is the day.  I'm gonna take a couple of boxes of my books to the used bookstore and donate a stack of old clothing (and dishes, since my table has only three chairs).  Fly away to new homes, books!  Find yourselves someone new to wear you, clothes!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Beginning ~ with a baby

Yellow Crocus ~ by Laila Ibrahim, 2014, fiction (Virginia). 9.5/10
April 14, 1837
Mattie lay curled around the warm shape of her son when the unwanted messenger knocked.  She stayed on her pallet, reluctant to end this precious time, and listened to the sound of quiet snores coming from her grandfather.  She gazed at Samuel, pressed her nose close against his soft neck to take in his sweet baby scent.  She gently wiped the glistening sweat away from his damp forehead and gave him a tender kiss upon his temple.  Another intrusive knock struck the door.
These few lines make me want to know (1) who's knocking on the door while the baby and the grandfather sleep, and (2) what does that person want?   Here's the book's summary from Amazon:
Moments after Lisbeth is born, she’s taken from her mother and handed over to an enslaved wet nurse, Mattie, a young mother separated from her own infant son in order to care for her tiny charge.  Thus begins an intense relationship that will shape both of their lives for decades to come.  Though Lisbeth leads a life of privilege, she finds nothing but loneliness in the company of her overwhelmed mother and her distant, slave-owning father.  As she grows older, Mattie becomes more like family to Lisbeth than her own kin and the girl’s visits to the slaves’ quarters — and their lively and loving community — bring them closer together than ever.  But can two women in such disparate circumstances form a bond like theirs without consequence? This deeply moving tale of unlikely love traces the journey of these very different women as each searches for freedom and dignity.

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

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The List ~ by Amy Siskind

The top item of my Facebook news feed this morning was Joy Weese Moll's regular feature:
What will we do today to take care of ourselves?  What will we do today to change the world?

Today, I will work through some negative feelings.  I've been suppressing them, but then I read the first line of Amy Siskind's Weekly List this morning:  "Generations from now will mark this week as the moment Americans realized we were losing our country as we have known it."  It's probably healthy to go through all five stages of dying right now.

Today, I will walk away from despair toward determination and be part of the 3.5% of the population that is all it takes to sustain resistance to inhumane and oppressive policies.
In the first comments, Joy shared links to explain some of this:

(1)  Amy Siskind's Weekly List is new to me.  I see from the latest list (Week 84) why I'm feeling so overwhelmed by the news.  Siskind compiled the first 52 weeks into a book (The List, published in March 2018):
The shocking first-draft history of the Trump regime, and its clear authoritarian impulses, based on the viral Internet phenom “The Weekly List.”  In the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump's election as president, Amy Siskind, a former Wall Street executive and the founder of The New Agenda, began compiling a list of actions taken by the Trump regime that pose a threat to our democratic norms.  Under the headline, she has these words:  “Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you'll remember.”  Siskind's “Weekly List” now has more than half a million viewers every week.

Compiled in one volume for the first time, The List is a comprehensive accounting of Donald Trump's first year.  Beginning with Trump's acceptance of white supremacists the week after the election and concluding a year to the day later, we watch as Trump and his regime chips away at the rights and protections of marginalized communities, of women, of us all, via Twitter storms, unchecked executive action, and shifting rules and standards.  The List chronicles not only the scandals that made headlines but just as important, the myriad smaller but still consequential unprecedented acts that otherwise fall through cracks.  It is this granular detail that makes this such a powerful and important book.  For everyone hoping to #resistTrump, The List is a must-have guide to what we as a country have lost in the wake of Trump's election. #Thisisnotnormal
(2)  The 3.5% Joy mentioned comes from It may only take 3.5% of the population to topple a dictator — with civil resistance, an article by Erica Chenoweth in the Guardian.

(3)  And then Joy shared a book title:  This Is an Uprising by Mark Engler and Paul Engler (2016).
Strategic nonviolent action has reasserted itself as a potent force in shaping public debate and forcing political change. Whether it is an explosive surge of protest calling for racial justice in the United States, a demand for democratic reform in Hong Kong or Mexico, a wave of uprisings against dictatorship in the Middle East, or a tent city on Wall Street that spreads throughout the country, when mass movements erupt onto our television screens, the media portrays them as being as spontaneous and unpredictable. In This is an Uprising, political analysts Mark and Paul Engler uncover the organization and well-planned strategies behind such outbursts of protest, examining core principles that have been used to spark and guide moments of transformative unrest.

This is an Uprising traces the evolution of civil resistance, providing new insights into the contributions of early experimenters such as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., groundbreaking theorists such as Gene Sharp and Frances Fox Piven, and contemporary practitioners who have toppled repressive regimes in countries such as South Africa, Serbia, and Egypt. Drawing from discussions with activists now working to defend human rights, challenge corporate corruption, and combat climate change, the Englers show how people with few resources and little influence in conventional politics can nevertheless engineer momentous upheavals.

Although it continues to prove its importance in political life, the strategic use of nonviolent action is poorly understood. Nonviolence is usually studied as a philosophy or moral code, rather than as a method of political conflict, disruption, and escalation. This is an Uprising corrects this oversight. It argues that if we are always taken by surprise by dramatic outbreaks of revolt, and if we decline to incorporate them into our view of how societies progress, then we pass up the chance to fully grasp a critical phenomenon—and to harness its power to create lasting change.
I can't read every book I want to read, but (having discovered that Amy Suskind's first 52 weekly lists have been published (in March 2018), I rushed to put it on reserve at my library.  There are two in the system, and one is checked out.  I'm first in line for the other copy, which happens to be my own library branch.  Since it's labeled NEW, I'll be the first person to read that copy.  In the meantime, I'll start reading her weekly lists.

Now I feel better!  As I commented on Joy's Facebook post:
Thank you, Joy. I needed this right now, as I'm beginning to lose hope. I'll also work on that despair today, in part by blogging about it, using what you've shared here. I want to be among those toppling our dictator, so I've added Amy Siskind's Weekly List to my reading (I have a lot to read over the 84 weeks she's posted to date). My library has a new copy of her book of the first 52 Weekly Lists, so I put it on reserve. Just seeing something positive I can do today to get me out of this funk has already made me feel better.
Today, I will wear my RESIST tee-shirt.
And maybe tomorrow, as well.

Sunday Salon ~ library loot and a kitty toy

The Lightkeeper's Daughters ~ by Jean E. Pendziwol, 2017, fiction (Canada)
Though her mind is still sharp, Elizabeth's eyes have failed.  No longer able to linger over her beloved books or gaze at the paintings that move her spirit, she fills the void with music and memories of her family — a past that suddenly becomes all too present when her late father's journals are found amid the ruins of an old shipwreck.  With the help of Morgan, a delinquent teenage performing community service, Elizabeth goes through the diaries, a journey through time that brings the two women closer together.  Entry by entry, these unlikely friends are drawn deep into a world far removed from their own — to Porphyry Island on Lake Superior, where Elizabeth’s father manned the lighthouse seventy years before.  As the words on these musty pages come alive, Elizabeth and Morgan begin to realize that their fates are connected to the isolated island in ways they never dreamed.  While the discovery of Morgan's connection sheds light onto her own family mysteries, the faded pages of the journals hold more questions than answers for Elizabeth, and threaten the very core of who she is.
I discovered this book on Sue's Book by Book blog, googled the book, and decided to put it on reserve at my library.  She wrote:
"On audio, I finished listening to The Lightkeeper's Daughter by Jean E. Pendziwol, an intriguing novel that reminded me a bit of The Orphan Train, with its mix of past and present.  A modern teen is sentenced to community service at a retirement home and gets to know one of the residents, who is wondering about secrets from her own childhood spent on a remote island where her father was the lighthouse keeper.  It was excellent, with warmth and emotion but also plenty of surprises!"
The Overstory ~ by Richard Powers, 2018, fiction
An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan.  An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut.  A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light.  A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another.  These four, and five other strangers — each summoned in different ways by trees — are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.  If the trees of this earth could speak, what would they tell us?  "Listen.  There’s something you need to hear."
I've been on the library's reserve list for many weeks waiting to read this one.  In the meantime, I found an article about it:  The Novel That Asks 'What Went Wrong With Mankind?'  (It was entitled "Rhapsody in Green" in the June 2018 print edition of The Atlantic.)

The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth ~ by Michio Kaku, 2018, science
Formerly the domain of fiction, moving human civilization to the stars is increasingly becoming a scientific possibility — and a necessity.  Whether in the near future due to climate change and the depletion of finite resources, or in the distant future due to catastrophic cosmological events, we must face the reality that humans will one day need to leave planet Earth to survive as a species.  World-renowned physicist and futurist Michio Kaku explores in detail the process by which humanity may gradually move away from the planet and develop a sustainable civilization in outer space.  He reveals how cutting-edge developments in robotics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology may allow us to terraform and build habitable cities on Mars.  He then takes us beyond the solar system to nearby stars, which may soon be reached by nanoships traveling on laser beams at near the speed of light.  Finally, he takes us beyond our galaxy, and even beyond our universe, to the possibility of immortality, showing us how humans may someday be able to leave our bodies entirely and laser port to new havens in space.
Interesting that this book I recently put on reserve arrives at the same time as The Overstory, but this one is nonfiction.  And both are about humanity's impending future.  I've also read Michio Kaku's Physics of the Impossible and rated it 9 of 10, so I look forward to reading this one, even though it looks daunting.

Home to Harmony ~ by Philip Gulley, 2002, fiction
In this inaugural volume in the Harmony series, Philip Gulley draws us into the charming world of minister Sam Gardner in his first year back in his hometown, capturing the essence of small-town life with humor and wisdom.
When I got home with this book, I pulled Gulley's Front Porch Tales (1997) off my shelf and discovered an article I'd printed out and folded inside the book:   "Beyond Belief" (March 31, 2015) from Indianapolis Monthly.

Clawdia watched this whole video, and then watched most of it again.  She has NEVER paid any attention to anything on my computer screen.  So I decided to buy this toy for her.  I like that it has two tracks for the balls.  From what Clawdia wrote yesterday, my cat apparently likes the catnip wafting into the air.  If this video quits, view it on YouTube.

More Sunday Salon posts on Facebook

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Every day is Caturday!

Why does Bonnie think Caturday is the day after Friday?  Doesn't she know EVERY day is Caturday?  I didn't realize it's the day after Friday until she left to go to lunch with someone (probably our friend Donna), and I was able to get online.

When the food-giver is away, the cat will play ... on the computer.  She gave me a thing to play with, like the cat is playing with in this picture, and it has catnip in the middle.  Oh, the catnip made me roll on my back and purr.  Okay, I pushed the balls this way and that way for awhile, because I could smell the catnip even better.  But I can't reach the catnip in the middle.  I know because I tried to lick it ... and touch it.  If I can't have the catnip, I'd rather play on the computer.

Clawdia, 'til next time   >^..^<

Friday, June 22, 2018

Meditating on the oceans ~ and all that moves within them

Psalm 69:34 (CEB*)~ "Let heaven and earth praise God,
the oceans too, and all that moves within them."

This blogger thinks of the places in the ocean
"where the garbage gathers.
Swirling islands of plastic bags and water bottles
and things we have thrown away."

What an image to ponder today!  I've seen photos like this one (found here), and I am appalled at what we are doing to our planet.  We don't have an alternate, you know.  We'd better take care of this one.

The top image above is from an article with a video of 35-year-old garbage islands.
* CEB = Common English Bible

Beginning ~ with forty head of cattle

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn ~ by Lori Benton, 2014, fiction (North Carolina)

Since this book is about Tamsen escaping from the life her stepfather forced upon her, we need her first chapter as well as the one about the frontiersman who helps her escape, which comes first.  (I described the book when I bought it last week.)  The blue dress on the cover?  She's wearing it in her first scene, but I'm pretty sure it won't recur in most of the story.  Two beginnings:
Western North Carolina
September 1787

To Jesse Bird's reckoning, any man charged with driving forty head of Overmountain cattle to market best have three things in his possession ― a primed rifle, a steady horse, and a heap of staying power.

Morganton, North Carolina
Tamsen Littlejohn peered through rippled window glass at the rutted street beyond. "I suppose this is entirely that painter's fault," she murmured and hoped her mother didn't hear the dread behind the words.
I was ready for some fiction when I started this book last night.  I've been reading lots of nonfiction, and it was nice to fall into a story for a change.

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

Thursday, June 21, 2018

October the First Is Too Late ~ by Fred Hoyle

October the First Is Too Late ~ by Fred Hoyle, 1966, science fiction
Renowned scientist John Sinclair and his old school friend Richard, a celebrated composer, are enjoying a climbing expedition in the Scottish Highlands when Sinclair disappears without a trace for thirteen hours.  When he resurfaces with no explanation for his disappearance, he has undergone an uncanny alteration:  a birthmark on his back has vanished.  But stranger events are yet to come.  Things are normal enough in Britain, but in France it's 1917 and World War I is raging, Greece is in the Golden Age of Pericles, America seems to have reverted to the 18th century, and Russia and China are thousands of years in the future.  Against this macabre backdrop of coexisting time spheres, the two young men risk their lives to unravel the truth.  But truth is in the mind of the beholder, and who is to say which of these timelines is the 'real' one?  In this book, world-famous astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle (1915-2001) explores fascinating concepts of time and consciousness.
Let me tell you how I happened to buy this science fiction novel. I was reading The Time Illusion by John Gribbin (2016), a Kindle Single I'd bought because I was reading something else.  And I came across this, which fascinates me:
"In 1966 I read a science fiction story, October the First is Too Late, written by the eminent astrophysicist Fred Hoyle.  It is an entertaining tale involving an unusual kind of time travel ― time on Earth is jumbled up so that, for example, Britain was 'in' 1966 while the North American continent was 'in' 1750, and a traveller could pass from one time to another by moving around the globe" (loc. 517).
I read another paragraph or two, returned to these two sentences, got online to find out more about Hoyle's book, and ended up buying the Kindle version.  The image at the top is the first edition, but the Kindle version I just bought has this cover.  I'm still trying to decide which I prefer.

My problem now is making myself finish the Kindle Single, even though I'm at the 92% mark.  The few paragraphs I read in Hoyle's book before buying it are calling to me.

Maybe you'll understand if I tell you about my undergraduate paper about whether or not time could flow in reverse.  Although we have time travel stories, where (for instance) someone could JUMP to the past, nevertheless the time traveler still experienced the "arrow of time" flowing on one direction (note the arrow on The Time Illusion book above).  One example of that is The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (1895).  I was not able to find a story where time "flowed" backwards, so I wrote a short story and included it in my paper.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Nielsen ratings ~ Wednesday Wondering

I wonder how much it skews their statistics when Nielsen chooses to give a gift basket to someone who does NOT have a television, informing her they will be regularly checking for updates every couple of months for the next two or three years?  The woman who delivered the gifts said finding someone with NO television is a first for her, after ten years on the job, but she cannot change who gets the basket.  This non-TV person now represents 2,300 people.  Are there 2,300 people in this area who are without a television?  I wonder if they expect her to run out and buy a TV.  Oh, you want to know what the gift includes?
  • Charles Chips
  • Cracker Barrel Crackers
  • Cracker Barrel's triangle game
  • Peppermint sticks
  • Lemon sticks
  • Awful tasting red twists
  • Sanded lemon drops
Hmm, makes me wonder who exactly is sponsoring this.  Ha!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Women speaking in church

1 Corinthians 11:4-6a (NRSV*)
4 Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head,
5 but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head — it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved.
6 For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair...
Paul, the writer of these verses, is writing about the culture of his day.  In our day, fundamentalists who rant against women preachers cherry-pick the Bible (while ignoring any parts that disagree with their thinking).  They do like to quote this verse, which more than one has thrown at me over the years:

I Corinthians 14:34 (NRSV*)
34  Women should be silent in the churches.  For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law says.
As I composed this to share on my blog, I pulled out my marked-up study Bible and turned to this verse.  Beside it, I had written in pencil many years ago:  "but see 11:5."  That's the middle verse I quoted above.  What those verses say, in effect, is that Paul expects women to "pray and prophesy" in their churches, but when they do, those women should either cover their heads or cut their hair off.  I cut my hair.  I usually wear it pretty short, actually.  Take a look at my photo above.

*NRSV means New Revised Standard Version of the Bible

Monday, June 18, 2018

Meditating on the spirit

The Theft of the Spirit: A Journey to Spiritual Healing with Native Americans ~ by Carl A. Hammerschlag, 1992, psychology, 9/10
A series of remarkable stories about spiritual connections.  Using Native American experience as an example, the author provides advice on living wisely, well, and spiritually in an increasingly materialistic world.  He shows how to journey past fear and illusion to a new strength of spirit and self.  Whether telling the story of how the Hopi Indians lost their cultural center when they lost their sacred religious objects, or how brave men and women have faced incredible odds — mental, physical, or emotional — this book is compelling and moving.
Here are some quotes I want to save from this book:
To Joseph Campbell, who knew that the meaning of life was in the experience of it.
To Mahatma Gandhi, whose prescription for living with joy has not been improved upon:
"If you're going to be somewhere, be there."
(These two are in the middle of dedicating the book to 13+ people)

"Without faith in a believable ethic, we suffer. ... Without any cultural or political guides who inspire trust, our perceptions of reality are created by sales professionals.  Image has become more important than substance ... If self, technology, and possessions have become our pervasive mythology, how can we reawaken in ourselves a sense of community that can sustain us?  We can return to a life of morality through telling and listening to stories, through experiencing genuine awe, through participating in rituals and ceremonies" (p. 25).

"Movement pumps the immune system!  If you stop moving your body, if you just lie down and become inactive, you slow your immune response.  Sneakers are the secret of life!" (p. 56).

"Researchers have now shown that prayer, a sense of personal power, love for pets, a family — all promote a healing response" (p. 88).

"Prayer is how you stop thinking about yourself; prayer is the taming of the you. ... it's a heart song ... Speech is a mind song" (p. 153).

"The Hopi say that clouds are formed from the last breath of living things.  Each cloud with its own shape is a reminder that the form comes and goes but its essence is transferable.  Wood burns and becomes ash.  And in being consumed by the flame, the wood gives off heat, which becomes moisture, which accumulates in clouds and showers rain, allowing the wood to reemerge as flowers" (p. 163).

"The Hopi say humanity must collaborate if we are to restore our existence on the planet" (p.164).
By the way, the author is a (formerly arrogant) medical doctor.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Rethinking Immortality ~ and Biocentrism

Rethinking Immortality ~ by Robert Lanza, 1990, science
Contemplation of time and the discoveries of modern science lead to the assertion that the mind is paramount and limitless.  A Facebook friend posted a link to the article Is Death an Illusion? and I remembered that I have Lanza's book on Biocentrism on my Kindle.  While reading that article about death, I added Rethinking Immortality to my Kindle.
Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe ~ by Robert Lanza and Bob Berman, 2009, science
Western natural philosophy is undergoing a sea change, forced upon us by the experimental findings of quantum theory, and at the same time, towards doubt and uncertainty in the physical explanations of the universe’s genesis and structure.  Biocentrism completes this shift in worldview with the revolutionary view that life creates the universe instead of the other way around.  Switching perspective from physics to biology shatters our ideas of life, time and space, and even death.  With this new sense of possibility, readers will never see reality the same way again.  I wrote a lot more about this book when I bought it in 2015.
Beyond Biocentrism: Rethinking Time, Space, Consciousness, and the Illusion of Death ~ by Robert Lanza, 2016, science
Biocentrism shocked the world with a radical rethinking of the nature of reality, but that was just the beginning.  In this book, Lanza and Berman re-examine everything we thought we knew about life, death, the universe, and the nature of reality itself.  Science increasingly points toward an infinite universe, but has no ability to explain what that really means.  Concepts such as time, space, and even causality are increasingly being demonstrated as meaningless.  All of science is based on information passing through our consciousness, but science hasn’t the foggiest idea what consciousness is and can’t explain the linkage between subatomic states and observation by conscious observers.

Science describes life as an random occurrence in a dead universe, but has no real understanding of how life began or why the universe appears to be exquisitely designed for the emergence of life.  The biocentrism theory isn’t a rejection of science.  Quite the opposite.  Biocentrism challenges us to fully accept the implications of the latest scientific findings in fields ranging from plant biology and cosmology to quantum entanglement and consciousness.  By listening to what the science is telling us, it becomes increasingly clear that life and consciousness are fundamental to any true understanding of the universe.  This forces a fundamental rethinking of everything we thought we knew about life, death, and our place in the universe.
Robert Lanza's web site has links to lots of articles.  Here are two:
(1)  How Life Creates the Universe
(2)  Is Death an Illusion?  Evidence Suggests Death Isn't the End

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Caturday ~ meow

It's a good question.  "What part of MEOW don't you understand?"

Bonnie has this on the front of the cold place where she keeps my food.  She calls it the fridge.  I don't think she looks at the little sign often enough, though.

Don't you think that's a good picture of me on the sign?  Anyway.....

Sometimes I just want to screech because she doesn't understand what I'm telling her.  I have to pantomime what I want her to do, like sitting on the flap of my carrier (see illustration) to show her I want to go visit Donna or dashing to the door to show her I want to go for a walk in the hall.  Still, she procrastinates, sometimes reading, sometimes using the computer ― which keeps me from being able to use it to get this posted on an actual Caturday.

Clawdia, 'til next time   >^..^<

Thursday, June 14, 2018

What is prayer?

Prayer is NOT "expecting things from God" or "asking God to do things" that we should do ourselves, as so many seem to think.  If prayer is the orientation of our whole body, mind, and spirit leaning toward God-ness in silent attention, as Merton says, then it's also these things:
  • Prayer can be a feeling, a thought, or even a vibration, like giving a child a tight hug and saying, "Mmmm-uhmmmmm!"
  • Have you ever cooed "Oooooooh" as you hugged a baby to your chest?  It follows that when you hug anyone, that's a prayer.
  • When you forgive someone, that's a prayer.
  • When you help someone in need by giving your time or energy or money, that's a prayer.
  • When you cook something to nourish family and friends, that's a prayer.
  • When you say "drive safely" as someone leaves, that's a prayer.
In the 1970s, I had a poster that said something like, "Your whole life can be a prayer, if only you make it so."  Let's make it so.  You won't have to "find time to pray" because prayer will be your whole life.

I've written about prayer before, if you are interested:
Welcome to the RevGals who drop by to read this blog post.   I'll link back so my readers can read other "Under the Surface" posts, too.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Create an award you think you deserve

Here are some examples to get you started:
  • Smile and Nod Award (for conversations that seem to be in English, but make no sense)
  • Creative Cursing at the Photocopier Award
  • Good Listener Award
  • Mind-Reader Award (because people expect you to know without bothering to tell you)
  • Naming the Elephant in the Room Award
  • Cleverly Disguised as a Responsible Adult Award
  • Perfect Nobody Award (okay, I can't figure out how to re-word that top badge, so you try it)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

TWOsday ~ two more Kindle books

To Be Perfectly Honest: One Man's Year of Almost Living Truthfully Could Change Your Life. No Lie. ~ by Phil Callaway, 2011, memoir
Would I lie to you?  Not this year.  Veteran author and speaker Phil Callaway is no stranger to daunting challenges.  He has been laughed at — repeatedly — by large crowds of people from Halifax to Hong Kong.  He fathered three children in three years, spent much of last year on airplanes built by the lowest bidder, and flipped an out-of-control ATV, which doesn’t mean he sold it for a profit.  So who better than Phil Callaway to boldly accept a challenge that would make the average person run and hide?  Phil promised to tell the truth for an entire year, and he wasn’t joking.  Twelve months later, his journal was crammed with successes, near-successes, and outright failures.  During his year-long experiment with veracity, he made a disastrous financial investment, fielded hundreds of intrusive questions from friends and strangers, attended a thirty-year class reunion, and waded into possibly the most revealing — and hilarious — situations he has ever documented.  Find out what happens when a follower of Jesus does his level best to always tell the truth.  There is no doubt you’ll be entertained. But don’t be surprised if you are left with a question:  How might your life be changed if you sold out to the truth — with no exceptions?
The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn ~ by Lori Benton, 2014, fiction (North Carolina)
In an act of brave defiance, Tamsen Littlejohn escapes the life her harsh stepfather has forced upon her.  Forsaking security and an arranged marriage, she enlists frontiersman Jesse Bird to guide her to the Watauga settlement in western North Carolina.  But shedding her old life doesn’t come without cost.  As the two cross a vast mountain wilderness, Tamsen faces hardships that test the limits of her faith and endurance.  Convinced that Tamsen has been kidnapped, wealthy suitor Ambrose Kincaid follows after her, in company with her equally determined stepfather.  With trouble in pursuit, Tamsen and Jesse find themselves thrust into the conflict of a divided community of Overmountain settlers.  The State of Franklin has been declared, but many remain loyal to North Carolina.  With one life left behind and chaos on the horizon, Tamsen struggles to adapt to a life for which she was never prepared.  But could this challenging frontier life be what her soul has longed for, what God has been leading her toward?  As pursuit draws ever nearer, will her faith see her through the greatest danger of all — loving a man who has risked everything for her?

Monday, June 11, 2018

Meditating on a memory

Love and Will ~ by Rollo May, 1969, philosophy
"The heart of man's [sic] dilemma, according to Rollo May, is the failure to understand the real meaning of love and will, their source and interrelation.  Bringing fresh insight to these concepts, May shows how we can attain a deeper consciousness." ― from the back cover.
It was the early 1970s.  I was in college full-time, was a single mom of three children, and left my mother with them while I stuffed ads and comics into the Sunday edition of the local newspaper on Saturday nights.  The presses were always breaking down, meaning we had to stand around and wait until they were repaired.  So I always took a book along with me.

One time, I took Love and Will to work.  Rollo May was an influential existential psychologist, and I was studying existentialism for my degree in Philosophy and Religion.  Some of the other women stuffing the Sunday papers with me apparently read mostly light romance novels.  One near me leaned over to read the title out loud, smiled, and cooed, "Ooooooh, LOVE !"  I had to explain that it was a philosophy book, not a romance novel.  If not for her remark, I wouldn't remember this was the book I had with me that night.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sunday Salon ~ friends, books, and okra

Out-of-town visitors

My friend Ginny visited me at the end of May, bringing along her sister Bunny.  Although she lives in Florida, Ginny figured out how to come through St. Louis on her way to Pennsylvania.  Makes sense, doesn't it, driving from Florida to Missouri to get to Pennsylvania?  Okay, it's not exactly a direct route from one to the other, but I enjoyed their short visit.  I forgot to take pictures, but Ginny sent me this photo taken a couple of days later by Bunny's son.

Bookmarked books
  • Love Begins in Winter: Five Stories ~ by Simon Van Booy, 2009, fiction
  • Ten Women ~ by Marcela Serrano, 2011, fiction (Chile)
Books I'm studying
  • Why I Left, Why I Stayed: Conversations on Christianity Between an Evangelical Father and His Humanist Son ~ by Tony Campolo and Bart Campolo, 2017, religion
  • Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today ~ by John Shelby Spong, 2018
Recently finished
  • Shine ~ by Jodi Picoult, 2016, fiction (short story), 10/10


If okra does even half what this article promises, I'd say it's a good thing.  The chart above is from a different site, and this photo of oven-fried okra is from a third site.  I love fried okra, which isn't very heart-healthy.  Baked in the oven sounds okay.

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Friday, June 8, 2018

Beginning ~ with an enormous minivan

Ten Women ~ by Marcela Serrano, 2011, fiction (Chile)
"The madwomen, here come the madwomen, the workers on the grounds will be saying, spying on them from behind the trees.  Natasha can't decide which she finds more entertaining, observing the confusion of those burly men holding picks and hoes, or the women, who at that moment are filing out from the enormous minivan."
Who are these women?  Yes, I'm curious, so I kept reading.  It's confusing so far, as each woman gets a separate chapter to tell her story.  Natasha's chapter is the last one, so I'm hoping that's where their stories get tied together a bit more.
Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays. Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Shine ~ by Jodi Picoult

Shine ~ by Jodi Picoult, 2016, fiction (short story), 10/10
Jodi Picoult tackles issues of race and privilege in this eBook original short story, a prequel to her novel Small Great Things.  This story introduces readers to the unforgettable Ruth Brooks.  Today is Ruth’s first day of third grade at Dalton.  The prestigious institution on New York’s Upper East Side couldn’t be more different from her old school in Harlem.  Despite being the smartest girl in her grade, Ruth suspects that her classmates and teachers only see her dark skin.  She also notices that Christina, the daughter of her mother’s employer, treats Ruth very differently when they’re hanging out with the popular girls rather than playing together.  Ruth must navigate between two worlds, never losing sight of the dreams she has for herself — in hopes that someday, someone will see her for who she really is.
"What if they liked you more than they like me?"
Ruth didn't know what to say.  It was the first time she realized that a person might look like Christina, and live in a fancy home, and dress in designer clothing, and have everything her heart desired, and still go to sleep at night worrying.
Maybe we are more alike than we're different, Ruth thought.
(loc. 392)

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Sunday Salon ~ two authors, two tee shirts, two words

John Pavlovitz

Donna and I each have a copy of John Pavlovitz's book A Bigger Table, which he signed for us on Friday.  We have attended three of his presentations this weekend at Parkway United Church of Christ:
  • Friday evening, his seminar was "Building a Bigger Table."
  • Saturday morning, it was "Rebounding from Compassion Fatigue."
  • Sunday morning, he preached at their regular church service.
On the first evening, Donna and I bought these tee shirts, which we wore to Saturday's seminar.

SPEAK LOVE ~ while you still have breath (Donna's tee)

RESIST ~ bigotry, racism, zenophobia, homophobia, 
transphobia, antisemitism, misogyny, hatred, fear, lies (my tee)

Sexism and Misogyny

When I taught EEO compliance (Equal Employment Opportunity) to managers in the 1970s and 1980s, we focused mostly on racism and sexism.  I noticed my new tee shirt had one, but not the other.  There's that word "misogyny" on the list, but in my mind sexism and misogyny are not the same.  So I went in search of answers.  I like these remarks from an article in the Guardian:  Sexism and Misogyny: What's the Difference?:
"Sexism is to misogyny what antisemitism is to Jew-hating. ... Misogyny has ... contempt and violence in it." ― Naomi Wolf

"Misogynists are always sexist, but sexists are not always misogynists." ― Julie Bindel
Mysogyny seems to be about hating.  Okay, then my tee shirt does need "sexism" on the list.  My friend Sheila thinks the list also needs the word "greed" on it.  What other things do you think we should resist?

Paul Coutinho

My new friend, Sandy S., came for lunch at our Circle@Crown Café on Friday, bringing four books for Sheila to peruse.  I was able to flip through them before passing them along to Sheila on Saturday when we met for our discussion of Unbelievable by John Shelby Spong.  All four books are by Paul Coutinho.
  • How Big Is Your God? : The Freedom to Experience the Divine (2007)
  • Just as You Are: Opening Your Life to the Infinite Love of God (2009)
  • An Ignatian Pathway: Experiencing the Mystical Dimension of the Spiritual Exercises (2011)
  • Sacred Darkness: Encountering Divine Love in Life's Darkest Places (2012)
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