Saturday, February 28, 2009

Busy-ness

  • We have been slightly overbooked.
  • Wednesday -- Ash Wednesday services. We picked up the LH at work after a trip to the Mall to "Pica Pica" and the "Hello Kitty" stores. So cute, I was nauseated. Then off to Oglethorpe County via a very slow Burger King, Ash Wednesday service, complete with an almost disaster with the oil. Take LH to pick up his car, home by 11:00. Long day -- 8 hours on the road.
  • Thursday -- rest for a while, chili and homemade bread for dinner, homeschooling, a bit of sermoning, housework and laundry.
  • Friday -- a very good trip to the Aquarium the belt testing at Karate. Small amounts of sermoning for Sunday.
  • Saturday -- slept late and sore from all the walking at the Aquarium and the long and hard Karate class. Sermoning -- this afternoon is a homeschoolers gathering, but I think I'll be preparing more on my sermon. Then the bulletins.
Sermon so far:
  • There are no shortcuts through the wilderness. (joke about shortcuts)
  • Sent into the wilderness by the very Spirit of God. (need something here)
  • 40 days of Lent - 40 days in the Wilderness. (other experiences of 40 days)
  • You have to deal with the desert, no shortcuts. (desert illustrations/ defn of desert)
  • You have to deal with temptations, no shortcuts (other gospels -- Matt 4 and Luke 4 text spell them out.)
  • You have to deal with the Wild Things, no shortcuts (illustrations about wild beasts; the story about the guy with the tiger in his apartments (need to find) -- what you "love" may end up killing you)
  • BUT
  • the good news -- you are not alone -- God'sown angels, his messengers will attend you. (you are never alone/ story about Native American boy who was undergoing his "manhood"ritual -- blindfolded, imagining all the wild beasts around him/ his father sitting nearby and watching over.)
  • Segue to Communion

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nothing for a Thursday

I'm sermoning for Sunday, cooking a crockpot of chili and baking whole wheat bread today. I'm dry from yesterday, but here is a beautiful posting from Satchel Pooch.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday -- T.S.Eliot

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgment not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely fans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ash Wednesday Sermon -- Joel 2

Text Joel 2:1-2,12-17

We were Unprepared and Overwhelmed.

Unprepared and Overwhelmed.

We see it also in our text for today. The people of Joel’s time were overwhelmed by Locusts and unprepared for the threat or the promise of the coming day of the Lord.

Did they listen to the words of the prophet? I listened to Joel and was struck by one singular thought – They were overwhelmed but Joel never told them why. Joel never said – “You sinners!!” He never told them they brought it onto themselves – Just “Repent!”

Repent!

Are we listening today? Do we hear condemnation? Or sadness?

Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.

Unprepared and Overwhelmed

Lent is a time of preparation. We are preparing for Holy Week and Easter.
It’s Reminder of our own ephemeral nature.
We gather together not only to remember who we are,
but who God is and what God has given.

unprepared and overwhelmed
How many ways are we being overwhelmed today?

We are
Overwhelmed by:
Email
– full inboxes – each message either a demand “you need those papers in today” or a promise “free mortgages” “end all spam” to the point where we forget why we are getting email

By Parenting:
Do you feel you have no control over what happens to you or your family? Have no time in the day for yourself? Try to do too many things? These are all common feelings for parents…. too much stress affects our thinking and makes it harder to solve problems. We forget the joys that come from our family.

By work
A study conducted by the Families and Work Institute a few years ago showed that more than one third of employees in the United States feels overworked, or overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to do…We forget the reasons we work and the fulfillment it can lead to.

Overwhelmed by nature – Three years it was Katrina, last year it was Gustav. Last month and last week it was tornados.
Survivors, counselors overwhelmed
Months afterward many victims too traumatized to discuss the tragedy
Deeper still lie the invisible scars of those whose families, homes, and livelihoods were swallowed up by angry storms. The despair and emotional trauma of survivors … across the region are likely to linger long after the aid shipments have stopped. Among the most overwhelming feelings is guilt and depression.

Overwhelmed by emotion/grief/guilt/depression
After Katrina -- ''I wonder why I remain. I want God to take me, too," said Anna. She lost two of her four children when the water came rampaging into her living room. ''I struggled to find them. I swam, I shouted, but gave up because I had to use all my strength to cling onto a pillar." Overcome by grief.

What does it mean to be overwhelmed? From Websters:
Etymology: Middle English, from 1over + whelmen to turn over, cover up
1 : UPSET, OVERTHROW
2 a : to cover over completely : SUBMERGE b : to overcome by superior force or numbers c : to overpower in thought or feeling

How are we to prepare during this season of Lent if we are being overwhelmed?
Repent and Remember. Even Now! Repent! Rend your hearts and not your garments! Become overwhelmed with conviction of your sin and turn to the Lord your God.

In this text – people of Israel are called to repent and remember
shoob – turn around, repent – if you do – with your heart – rending your heart and not your garment, perhaps God himself will turn and leave behind a grain offering and a drink offering.

Is repentance confession?
We are a confessing society – Jerry Springer – confess to all sorts of things – is this repentance?

True repentance – complete turnaround – turn away from self, turn to God – more than a “I sorry” but more of a psychotic break / break with everything we knew before and leave it all behind. It’s overwhelming

Ash Wednesday starts the 40 days of Lent, before Holy week/Easter
40 Represents : the days of Noah, the years of Moses in wilderness, 40 days of Jesus in the wilderness. And so our 40 days of fasting and prayer and study and service.

The imposition of the ashes is a powerful thing. It’s a powerful symbol of how we can be overwhelmed by life. This last Ash Wednesday it seemed so odd to I traced the ashes onto the forehead of my own children. It was overwhelming to place that reminder of mortality onto my own children’s forehead. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

And is this not also the story of God and his beloved children? Gather my children together -- Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;

rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust; Repent and remember the gospel! And what is that Gospel for us today?
That after repentance comes reconciliation
Definition ; restoration to harmony; renewal; removal of inconsistency; reunion; pacification; appeasement; propitiation; atonement; expiation.

Reconciliation – related to the word for forgivness in the Greek
Reconciliation mean to change places with the other, so much that
you will walk in their shoes,
you will laugh their laughter,
weep their tears,
hold their dreams and feel their joy.

What is the Gospel?
That we are indeed reconciled to God, through His son Christ. Through repentance we are reconciled – and he will turn and leave us a grain /drink offering / sacrifice.

In Joel, the locusts had consumed everything – they ate up all the grain, they consumed all the grapes. We are so hungry for reconciliation. How can WE offer a grain offering and a drink offering? How Can we?
God himself has to offer the bread and the wine. Can you imagine Israel’s hunger? Can you imagine how good that freshly baked bread was? How refreshing that cool wine? Can you imagine their hunger?
What do we have to offer? What is it that God wants? Rend your hearts and not your garments.

Are you hungry?

We will not be receiving communion tonight. We will not fill ourselves with the bread and slake our thirst with the cup. Instead we are going to leave hungry. Tonight is a time of preparation. We will come forward and offer to God our repentance. We will prepare – and pray for God to overwhelm us with his Grace and love – and leave hungry for right relationship.

Are you hungry?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – for they will be filled.

Blessed.

Are you hungry?

Transfiguration -- Mark 9

The air was incredibly smooth. My silvered wings slipped through the air effortlessly. It was a magical twilight and the sun burned red and orange and gold like flames behind the skyline of Atlanta. The mountain was stunningly beautiful that night. I will always remember Stone Mountain, rising up in front of the skyline of Atlanta with that great glowing ball of fire. It was a moment of transcendence. I understood the line from the poem – and I know you know the one:

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung_
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor even eagle flew.
And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space...
...put out my hand, and touched the face of God.


That night, I felt the presence of God. I could stretch out my hand and touch His face. I felt sheer glory that moment. I wanted a camera to capture it forever. That night, right after I landed, my friend Steve Ashby landed his Cherokee Six and rolled to a stop right behind me – He jumped out of his plane and asked “Did you see that?? That was the most incredible thing I think I’ve ever seen!”

On that mountain so very long ago, Jesus was revealed to James and Peter and John as God himself. It must have been a awesome and frightening moment. Darkness, the burning light – silence and then a booming voice – a visitation from the Heroes of the past and then – nothing. They didn’t know what to do. They didn’t understand what had just been revealed to them. I know that they must have turned to each other and cried out, “Did you see that?? That was the most incredible thing I think I’ve ever seen!”

Every time I do touch and go’s, I think of that moment -- I remember it. I loved Stone Mountain airport. It was a homey place – a really old fashioned airport, built in the 1920’s as a relay station for the US Mail. There were relics for days gone by, propeller hubs holding the doors open and always a warm and welcoming fire in the huge fireplace. Framed newspaper articles about the time the mailplane crashed into the side of the mountain – and how Mark Britt climbed out of that cockpit and delivered the mail by foot. The office – the FBO had been built around an ancient fireplace that was all that was left over after Sherman had marched through. There was community there – I loved to go and hanger fly with my friends. My time at that airport glows golden in my mind.

In 1996, Atlanta hosted the Olympics and the owners of the Airport sold the land to be used as a parking lot for the tennis venue. My beloved airport was changed beyond recognition. They placed telephone poles down the center of the runway – they tore down the main building, leaving only the massive old fireplace standing. I used to think of it a memorial stone, an Ebeneezer. I wanted to put a plaque on it to memorialize the memory of a golden time in my life, but as I went back just a few weeks ago – that massive old fireplace had been torn down as well.

I mourn the loss of my airport. I wanted a memorial – a gravestone so that I could remember what had been. But I was caught short when I went by and that massive old fireplace itself – older than my memory – older than the airport itself – that huge mass of stone and mortar were gone. What I have left is the memory – that remembrance of a transcendent moment.
Peter coped the only way he knew how – “Jesus! Ah, It’s a good thing for us to be here! Shall we build you and Elijah and Moses booths so that we can stay a while? So that we can remember this moment? Like a monument or something?” Busywork in a way. He’s uncomfortable and wants to “do something” and not just dwell in that moment of stark and frightening transformation.

What are the ways we build monuments to our experiences of God? Are we willing to live into the moments of transformation instead of building booths of remembrance to days gone by?

Throughout the Old Testament, the people put up what might be called "a standing stone" after a momentous interaction with God. Maybe that's why Peter wanted to set up camp and build some booths. But Jesus didn’t want that. There were more important things to do than build a nice memorial to the moment.

As I thought about this, a realized that a camera wouldn’t have helped me on that night. And it reminds me of why I don't video tape events any more. I am the cameraman in my family – I used to drag all that stuff to every event: the video camera, the digital camera, the lights. Then I realized that I couldn’t both record the moment and BE in the moment. I would get so caught up in figuring out camera angles and lighting that I would forget to just be in the present. Peter needed to be in the moment. The Transfiguration was a vision he would need to remember in the future. If he was busy building a monument, he'd miss the real event.

What endured of that moment?

Peter was in such a hurry to build a "permanent" commemoration of the holy site. What he failed to see was how temporary our human constructs really are. If we're really honest, we would say the same about our monuments – our cathedrals and buildings.

What has endured?

For me, what has endured of my transcendent moment is an abiding love of airplanes and aviation. What abides is those relationships that were built hanger flying. When Steve jumped out of the plane and asked “Did you see that?? That was the most incredible thing I think I’ve ever seen!” He experienced that moment with me. Steve remains close to me. What has endured is that relationship – Steve was with me for a few minutes every day for weeks after my mother died. I have held him dear and close – I held his son Patrick in prayer for weeks as he lay in ICU after a horrible car accident. What has endured?

Relationship – that is what will endure.

Jesus took three of his closest and dearest friends onto that mountain with him. Peter became the foundation of His Church, James was the first of the disciples to die as a martyr. John was the beloved disciple – to John Jesus entrusted his mother. The relationships were given strength on that mountaintop.

They each went on and did not build a memorial to the past – but went into the future, strengthened by the memory of Jesus in Glory. It somehow becomes a memory of the future – a peek into what will be. Just as Moses went into the wilderness afterwards, so did they – so did Jesus. Instead of a trip via the wildnerness – it was the Via Dolorosa. Years later, in the light of the glory of this moment, they could realize the glory of the cross. Jesus was transfigured on a Mountain – and then he was crucified on a Mountain. Jesus showed his glory between two heroes – two historical figures of great regard. Jesus showed his glory between two disreputable thieves. On one hand his garments made as white as snow, on the other his garments stripped from his body and gambled over. There were three witnesses on that mountain. Later, Mary and Mary and Salome watch from a distance. There was a thunderous voice from the cloud saying boldly “This is the Son of God.” Then we hear the voice of the centurion – “Could this be the Son of God?”

It took years for them to see that the glory of the Transfiguration IS the glory of the cross. That the glory of the Son of God is completed in a painful death on rough and splintered wood.

And it’s that glory that we celebrate today as we come to His table. Let us join together and confess our blindness to His glory – Let us confess our sin.

Merciful God,
We confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not see your Glory. We have built memorials instead of missions.
We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will,
We have broken your law,
We have rebelled against your love,
We have not loved our neighbors,
And we have not heard the cry of the needy.
Forgive us, we pray.
Free us for joyful obedience,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Pancakes


All day.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oddity of the Day -- Random Giant White Rabbit


It seems that a Giant White Rabbit gave two policemen from Kent a 20 minute run around. "Inquiries are ongoing into unconfirmed reports that Bunny had an accomplice called Clyde who assisted in the hare-brained escape idea."

Lesson Plans and Laundry

Lesson Plans and Laundry do not seem to have much to do with each other -- but somehow I end up every week doing them together. The laundry is almost finished; all but a couple of odds and ends loads to do. Most is folded and put up. It's amazing how much accomplishment I can feel from this one task.

Lesson Planning is going well; building a full curriculum for the children is taking time. I am having to tailor it to each child and then select a few things they can do together. For Mathematics, I have selected "Teaching Textbooks" for Chaos. She has the textbook, workbooks and other materials from Glencoe as well -- and of course she has me! Entropy is still in pre-Algebra: I have selected materials from Glencoe for her as well and am thinking about Saxon math.

Civics/Social studies -- both are going to watch a series from "The Teaching Company" on World Civilizations and continue their Powerpoints on the American Presidents. In addition, each has a textbook on World Geography. This is more holistic and less linear than Math (as it should be).

Both are studying Biology or Life Science this year; I've also ordered a DVD series from The Teaching Company to go with their respective textbooks. I have lots of goodies for them - a microscope with a digital camera (that doesn't work -- yet), petri dishes, stains, microscope slide things. Should be fun.

I have them working every week to put something into a Writing portfolio. Oddly enough, I thought this would be the easiest for them, but it's the thing they are resisting the most. They should have 4 pieces of writing finished, but they only have one finished and two drafts each. I am going to push this harder.

We are all watching together a very interesting DVD series about the Louvre. I'm thinking about getting some Sister Wendy when we are finished. They don't know how to look at art. In addition, they don't know how to listen to music. I am going to make sure they do either Art Appreciation or Music Appreciation every single day.

So, that's about it for that. It's not as I expected; but I expected that.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday Random Bullets

  • I've picked up a Yale folding machine (ancient but works great) from FUMC of Monroe. Thanks! My hands appreciate it! No more folding bulletins by hand! Yah!
  • The girls and I have had ANOTHER virus this week. It's just a really bad headache and slight fever. Not feeling 100%.
  • I am contemplating a book sale maybe March 7. I have to figure out exactly HOW, but we need the space in the garage. Currently, there is a huge stack of boxes that contains perhaps 5,000 books in the garage. I think I'll charge $1 or $2 per hardback and fifty cents per paperback. Hopefully we can get rid of half of them and get a little money.
  • We need a more permanent place for home schooling. The only real space for this will be the garage. We will need to purchase an outbuilding for the lawn care equipment and get rid of the books. Then we will need to seal the floor somehow. I have a big desk in the basement that will suit our purposes perfectly. It's a matter of moving toward the goal.
  • I'm thinking the money from the books can purchase the outbuilding...
  • Critter was "fixed" even though she wasn't broken on Monday. On Thursday she started to run a fever and we rushed her to the vet, where she spend about 48 hours. She's home now and snuggling with grumpy old lady cat. I was really worried about her.
  • I've made room on the computer stand in the kitchen for the folding machine this morning. I hope it is sturdy enough for that very heavy contraption.
  • There are too many things in my kitchen -- office stuff (including a copier, a copier stand, file boxes and a folding machine), home school stuff, small kitchen appliances, books, an aquarium, computers, craft stuff -- and I want to get rid of some of it. I'm going to make room by getting rid of a lot of craft things in some of my base cabinets and all the paper goods. Big Lots has bins and I'm thinking free-cycle.
  • I also want a new refrigerator. Ours is over 20 years old and it shows.
  • I also think we need some new handles for the cabinets -- I found some lovely blue glass ones. And if I get a new refrigerator and new cabinet handles -- I'll need to paint the cabinet doors. Another thing we can do in the garage, if I get rid of books.
  • The kids want to work on some cosplay costumes -- Allen Walker and Link, to be specific. I can use the sewing machine (guess where...) in the kitchen! Yeah! Oh Boy!!
  • So, my task is to get rid of books. Craigslist, here I come! March 7, book sale, my house! Onward!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Dow and Gold and a Parable

Today Dow has hit it's lowest low of 7,569.81 of the last 6 month. On November 20 it hit 7,552.45. The S&P500 dropped beneath 800 today, as well. Oct. 2002 the low was at 7,286.27. I don't think we really have it bottom. If we don't turn it around very soon, I think we will reach lows we have not seen in decades. The Dow/Gold ratio has hit a new low, as well. In other words, Gold is expensive and the Dow is bad. Fear is driving the price of gold higher and higher.

I have a tremendous urge to buy gold today. It's really not the time to do so, or so my intellect tells me, but my emotional urge is to buy gold and put it in a (not quite literal) hole in the ground.

I suppose this is because in the doctor's office yesterday I read an amusing essay in a very old Newsweek about "Gold Parties." Then on TV, I saw those spots about selling your gold jewelry and getting quick cash. Finally, I watched Law and Order last night where one of the characters had hidden 200 gold coins in his desk for his heirs to find.

I made the mistake to look at my portfolio again -- it has lost tremendous value in the last few months, hitting an all time low today. So much so that I get sick to my stomach looking at it. Intellectually, I know that I haven't "lost" anything until I sell -- but that's not how it feels. Intellectually, I know that you shouldn't really buy gold in a bear market. Intellectually, I know that I need to consider the Dow/Gold ratio and buy only when I believe that it is at its peak.

I feel a huge urge to go buy gold and stick it in a nice hole in the ground. But wait! Isn't there a parable about that? Something about sticking a talent of gold into a hold in the ground? You know, a talent is 75 pounds of gold. That's not a little bit of money -- 75 pounds of Gold today would be around $900,000. Yikes! Why do we stick it in the ground? From fear. "The man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money." Should we allow fear to dictate our actions? I don't think we will be rewarded for that.

"He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' But his master answered him, You wicked and slothful servant! You knew ...."

What to do? I think I will stick with it, not fear the future and pray for wisdom. "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5). Continue to reduce debt, earn all that I can, save all that I can and give all that I can.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Geeky Kid being ... Geeky.

Bretton Woods Framework




This is an interesting chart. This is a representation of the gross national debt as a percent of the gross domestic product. In other charts, it's not so easy to see the "hole" left behind after WWII. We had tremendous national debt as a result of the huge military expenditures of WWII. In the late 1940's early 1950's there was much discussion about economies; about fiat currency and specie currency; about confidence. In July 1944, at the height of the graph, the US along with 43 (44?) other nations met at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to lay a new economic framework in order to stabilize the world's economic situation. Two organizations were born of this conference: the International Monetary Fund (IMF)and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development(IBRD, which is now one of the 5 branches of the World Bank.)

One of the primary purposes was to stabilize exchange rates by linking all the world's currency to a common standard -- an ounce of gold. Of course, the amount in 1944 of $35 for an ounce of gold seems ridiculous now and it was ridiculous then -- it was based on the value of gold from the 1930's however it was not too terribly far off. Thus this was not a real return to specie currency; people could not get and ounce of gold for their money however foreign nationalities still had the right to "cash out" their accounts in gold if they so wished -- our money was "as good as gold" quite literally. Additionally, I believe that an "ounce of gold" was not a true ounce; this is in my memory banks and I cannot find the reference.

This, of course, was not sustainable and it was the insistence that we keep such a low value on an ounce of gold eroded the value of the system; there was two values for gold: first the "Bretton Woods" value and the real market value. If this had been adjusted for inflation, the system could have been workable. But this was not to be.

In 1968, there was a run on gold in London and the London gold pool was closed permanently. Additionally, President Lyndon B. Johnson said in 1967 that:
"The world supply of gold is insufficient to make the present system workable – particularly as the use of the dollar as a reserve currency is essential to create the required international liquidity to sustain world trade and growth."

He instituted a series of measures intended to curtail the outflow of US gold. Even though it was the plan of the original Bretton Woods delegates to link all currency in the world to gold, in reality and in practice only the US currency was linked directly to gold and all other currencies linked to the US dollar. In 1971, Nixon "shocked" the world by closing down all gold exchange except on the open market. This in effect unhinged the Bretton Woods framework. He did this in conjunction with a 90-day wage control and price control and a 10% surcharge on imports. The surcharge was lifted by December of that year, but the gold exchange was never reopened.

The US dollar then was no longer a gold standard or even a pseudo-gold standard currency, but exclusively fiat money. However, all other currencies have remained hinged to the US dollar. Therefore, as the US goes, so goes the world.

But there are other "factors" to consider: you have to consider the stability of the native currency and political situations in addition to the stability of the dollar. The "instability factors" multiply. Thus the horrible inflation in Zimbabwe. If it's a little bad in the US it will be a lot bad in less stable countries.

What should our response be? We have a dreadful responsibility. We get so very concerned about our pockets that we lose sight of the millions of inhabitants that our American Dollar can influence. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded. One day an accounting will come; we will reap what we sow. Will it be greed and avarice?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Compline for a Restless Night

May the Lord Almighty grant me and those I love a peaceful night and a perfect end.

Help me to remember that all that happens to me becomes bread to nourish me, soap to cleanse me, fire to purify me, a chisel to carve heavenly features on me. Everything is a channel of grace for my needs. The very thing I sought everywhere else seeks me incessantly, and gives itself to me by means of all created things.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake.

Lord, you now have set your servant free to go in peace as you have promised; for these eyes of mine have seen the Savior, whom you have prepared for all the world to see: a Light to enlighten the nations, and the glory of your people Israel. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen and Amen. †

Removed a Posting

I have removed a posting because it was apparent that there was a young person who believed I was attacking them personally. It was not my intention to do anything but express my own hurt in this matter. I find the events of the day most distressing.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Musing about Money



There is one report that tells us that our US Budget deficit is $455 billion (that would be the Congressional Budget Office) but this report, by the US Treasury reports the real 2008 federal budget deficit was $5.1 trillion. Supposedly the difference is because "official budget deficit is calculated on a cash basis, where all tax receipts, including Social Security tax receipts, are used to pay government liabilities as they occur." (found here.) In other words, we are already spending $5.1 TRILLION dollars a year, but if everything goes as planned and we collect all taxes and so forth, we will only be short $455 BILLION dollars.

According to some pundits, this brings our national debt to $65 TRILLION dollars, give or take a few billion. Now the CIA factbook says that the entire world's external debt is $52.15 trillion and that this figure is the sum total of all countries' external debt, both public and private (31 December 2008 est.) Which number to believe?

More investigations leads me to the website "Debt to the Penny" which reports the debt for 2/12/2009 to be:
  • Debt held by the Public == 6,453,765,915,043.27
  • Intragovernmental Holdings == 4,305,430,672,520.17
  • And Total Public Debt Outstanding == 10,759,196,587,563.44
This is a $10.7 TRILLION debt. More facts: According to the CIA factbook, the GDP for the entire world (Gross Domestic Product) is $54.62 trillion (2007 est.) Look at those numbers carefully. If you consider seriously Shadowstats.com's number seriously, you come only to one conclusion: the US National Debt is LARGER than the 2007 GDP for the entire world. Even if you use the 2008 numbers for the World's GDP of $70.65 trillion (2008 est), the numbers do not look so very good. And if you use the official government numbers of a debt of "only" 10.7 trillion dollars, that represents a huge chunk of the worlds GDP. As it is, according to Wikipedia, this debt represents approximately 37% of our own GDP.

Who do we owe? I would like to know! Well, you can find out -- a lot of it is trust funds. A lot of it is the government borrowing from the government. There are public holdings -- where people purchase bonds, bills and securities. I have a LOT invested (about 2/3) in government holdings, myself. What has tipped is that the majority of the debt is not being carried through public holdings, but as of Jan 2009 the majority is being held by intragovernmental holdings.

We are spending this money rapidly. I looked at a one-minute segment of time to see how fast we are spending and it came to $5.8 million dollars a minute. (look here). Yes, about $100,000 per second. That should give you a warm fuzzy feeling. A full half of that money goes to two things: the military and to pay the interest on the debt. And where does this general fund come from? Our income taxes.

I want to know this: how is spending MORE money going to get us out of this? I get the feeling that this cannot end well. I know that we got out of just as big a hole after WWII, but that does not reassure me.

I go back to Wesley: Owe nothing. Make all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can. What can I do? I am going to pay off my own personal debt, use my purchasing power wisely and look to see where I can help those less fortunate than I.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Abuse of the Homeschool Laws is Real

It is stories like this that will cause governmental action.

To quote:
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- Deputies in DeKalb County arrested a mother and father on charges of truancy after they allegedly kept their 11-year-old daughter out of school for more than a year....The solicitor general has made pursuing parents who don't send their children to school a top priority. "This is not about the parents. This is about the child," said Solicitor General Robert James.

James said the arrests are about intervening in a child's life and keeping them from becoming a statistic. Eighty-eight percent of Georgia's inmates are drop-outs.

Green first said she withdrew her daughter because she was homeless. She then said her daughter was homeschooled. "I had to take my daughter out because I was out on the streets," Green said.

Laws are abused. It's a fact. The only *real* connection between what I am doing with my children and this story is that we both use the word "homeschool." There was no Declaration of Intent filed nor was their attendance filed.

If the community does not self-regulate, we should expect more zealous DAs and solicitors to pursue mandatory regulation and perhaps some sort of forced schooling. A cautionary tale.

I Love McGyver

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Random


This is (of course) Bishop Woodie White and the Dali Lama.

  • Tonight is the first real homeschool event Chaos is attending -- a Sadie Hawkins dance.
  • This morning we are taking some time to go purchase a dress.
  • For some reason she won't wear my Gunny Sack from 1977. Wonder why?
  • The kitten is in heat and keeps getting out. Thus we have a vet appointment for THAT THING on Monday morning.
  • The house is a wreck; time to clean.
  • Laundry is piling up; time to wash.
  • I'm tired but not running as far behind as last week.
  • I'm titling my sermon "I'm a Leper, She's a Leper, They're all Lepers, Wouldn't you like to be a Leper too?" after Len Sweet's title.
  • I can't fit it into the bulletin, though.
  • 3 parishioners in 3 different hospitals this week. Miles and Miles apart; thank you God for telephones.
  • Still have phone calls to make.
  • Got into a flame war on a mailing list this week; realized that it was nothing I said, but who I am (a woman who is clergy.) Won't ever win there. Stopped posting.
  • And that made me sad.
  • Helped a friend's son with Chemistry last night; I had forgotten how much I love Chemistry.
  • I get to teach Chemistry next year! Yay!
  • Don't like Biology much though, but fun with microscopes might help.
  • Art Appreciation yesterday was OK; learned not to watch more than one episode at a time.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Link Love for Geography and Brains

Animaniacs give a cool geography lesson.
Animaniacs and the 50 US Capitals
And of course the Animaniacs tell of the US Presidents.

Pinky and the Brain tell us of the Parts of the Brain.
How the Body Works: Parts of the Brain.
Exercise helps the Brain.

Cat Remote? Kid Remote?



Same difference. Thanks, John!

Klingon Night School!!


Great for Homeschool Moms!
HT: John of the Zeray Gazette

Long Post about Homeschool

I am feeling vaguely unsettled. I feel a tremendous lack of stress and pressure. Ever since we made the decision to homeschool, I have felt this tremendous weight off my shoulders. My children are less stressed, I'm less stressed and I don't think that they are falling behind academically. In fact, I think Chaos is ready to take the EOY exam for at least 3 of her classes. In other words, self pacing is really working.

But, as a former teacher, I am shocked about a few things about homeschooling.

First, the law reads that the parent instructing must have a HS diploma or equivalent. However, reporting is not compulsory therefore the State of Georgia has no idea who has a diploma and who does not. For the most part, this is OK except there are some who are taking advantage of this loophole and the entirety of the homeschooling community/culture is suffering. Unless those of us who are diligent and following the law try to amend this ourselves, eventually the Government will indeed step in and "do" something about it. There is precedent for this.

As an educator, I have seen these children try to enter into public schools and it's painful to watch. The loser here is the child. What is called for is a self check done by the community -- to check on one another.

Also, we are required to test every three years by the state, but again it is not monitored. I have seen kids try to enter the system who have never ever been tested -- and the parent is not held responsible. I know of kids who are pulled out to "homeschool" during testing season and then popped back into school the next school year. One mother actually admitted to me that they were pulled so that the child was not tested (especially for placement and promotion to next grade) because her child would not have passed to the next grade. She did this several times; she eventually moved out of state.

As long as abuses like this exist, the possibility of the government stepping in and compelling is strong. It's a sticky problem with no easy answer. It is obvious to me that the people on this loop are the type to not do this -- I believe most of this abuse exists outside of any real community. But as with gun control, we risk losing our rights if those who are abusing the system are not castigated and reprimanded by the society at large. If we as a society do not do something, the government will.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Darwin and the Vatican

To Boldy Go...

Today I start a real adventure in homeschooling. I have been trying to get the kids to work within traditional mathematics textbooks to little avail. They just can't stand the rote and drill way that we have traditionally taught mathematics. I know how it is -- I used to just speed through the book in class and do all the problems, usually at least a couple of sections ahead of the class (sometimes a chapter or two ahead) and pass notes in more and more esoteric codes with my main dude James V. (who also worked ahead.) I took College Algebra when I got to Ga State, just because I wanted to get used to the pacing. I found that I missed math class -- I love math class. So I became a Mathematics Major sort of by accident; I really intended to get my degree in General Science and Philosophy (after I decided against computer programming and discovered that music was just too hard without parental support.)

For years I have wanted to write a Mathematics curriculum for thinkers like me -- I love what is usually called the "Discovery Method" -- where the student discovers the entirety of the problem/solution their own selves.

So today, I made a 3 page handout of "everything you need to know in Algebra" because, yes, you can indeed put it on 2 to 3 pages. These things are just tools so that you can "do" math. I have another 3 page handout in the works for Geometry and another for Trig. Then I am going to depart from the beaten path -- I am going to ask the girls to discover mathematics.

Chaos and I got into a big discussion about the Greeks and how they "did" math without Arabic Numerals -- it's mind blowing how the Greeks did it. Math is so much more difficult when you can't use the numeral 6, but have to write out "six" every single time. How the heck did the ancients build what they built without the "tool" of Arabic numbers? We are going to use the traditional Euclidean tools of straight edge and compass and I am going to pull out my big box of Polydrons for them to use and explore.

I believe what is most lost in today's mathematics education is this sense of wonder -- and the fact that most ancient mathematicians looked to math as a way to explore God and Creation. Pythagoras once said something like this: "Mathematics is the ruler of form and idea and the cause of God and demons." He believed that to explore Mathematics is to explore the very nature of the Deity. He discovered the first tenets of today's theory of music as well -- he is the one who first discovered the relationships of ratio to pitch. He believed that all of creation is rational and was so despondent that the square root of 2 is indeed irrational that he committed suicide.
To quote Wikipedia:
One of Pythagoras' beliefs was that the essence of being is number. Thus, being relies on stability of all things that create the universe. Things like health relied on a stable proportion of elements; too much or too little of one thing causes an imbalance that makes a being unhealthy. Pythagoras viewed thinking as the calculating with the idea numbers. When combined with the Folk theories, the philosophy evolves into a belief that Knowledge of the essence of being can be found in the form of numbers. If this is taken a step further, one can say that because mathematics is an unseen essence, the essence of being is an unseen characteristic that can be encountered by the study of mathematics.
The pursuit of Math and Science initially is a pursuit to understand creation -- and thus to understand the mind of God. I want my kids to understand where math begins -- and wonder about how this universe works. So today we start -- who knows where it will lead?

Edited: Oooo.... I have to find "Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land" today!! Yeah! I think it's upstairs somewhere....

Edit number 2: This is so cool! What a wonderful website for this!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Two Things That Make Me Sad

There were two occurances that have made me vagely sad this week -- both are a direct result of the economy.

First, the "Day of Love and Justice" that was to occur today at the Georgia State Capital has been postponed -- placed on hold because the Georgia State Legislature has decided to not meet on Mondays anymore. This is a cost cutting move; it should save money. However it seems to me that in an economy like this, we need more days of love and justice, not less. And it also seems oddly theological. Is love and justice the first thing to go during a serious economic downturn? The Hebrew Scriptures are full of prophets telling us to take care of the widows and orphans -- to leave gleanings on the edges of our fields -- to be generous with those who have little and to do it all for love.

Second, I found out yesterday that the Wesleyan Christian Advocate, which has been in almost continuous print since around 1834 is going to print its last issue sometime before Annual Conferences. This makes me very sad. It's the same thing that other papers face: the relevance of a printed newspaper in an age of digital information. In addition, the Economic Earthquake of 2008. These add to the demise of the paper. I love that paper -- I've fallen behind a couple of weeks, but I enjoy reading the goings on of the annual conference. I've printed a few photos in the paper -- I'm going to miss it. There will be the UMReporter, I know, but it doesn't have that regional overtone and I am going to miss that.

Well, Chaos is going on a field trip but Entropy and I are staying home -- she has a really bad cold. I am going to miss the field trip!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Geek Question

OK, I ordered a digital camera from ScopeTek. I had read on a forum that there was a kludge of a driver -- I should have downloaded it then, cause now I can't find it.

I need a ScopeTek driver for Mac OS X or I'm going to have to break down and get (gag) Boot Camp and some version of Windoze to run on the MacBooks (gagging continues).

I attached the camera, hoping for a miracle -- no joy. No image and I can't convince the Mac that there is anything attached. It seems to be powered off the computer... I don't want to break the bank and spend the $1000 for an "official" adapter to attach a "real" digital camera to the microscope. I think it becomes so very unbalanced that way, anyway. Any and all help is appreciated.

And it seems to me ... that if I can get this to work on this hardware by just two pieces of software, it shouldn't be so very very difficult.

Methoblogger Mashup in Alabama March 14th

At Trinity UMC.
We could meet for dinner on March 13th? Opinions?

Figuring out Homeschool

Setting up a homeschool beginning "ritual" -- school is in session when the candle is lit; then a moment of silence. Any other suggestions?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

John M calls for Alabama Road Trip

To quote:

Will Willimon will be leading two “discussions” about reading the Bible like a Wesleyan. He says the event is open to ALL interested pastors and lay persons. Of course, we all know that by “all” he means me. So, who is up for a road trip to Birmingham, Alabama? There are two dates, March 7 and March 14.

Do you think the bishop would be amuzed by a mess of Methobloggers showing up to hear him discuss the Wesley Study Bible?



B'ham, here I come! Which date, oh Methobloggers?

edited: Abi, is that your church? And it's just the 7th??

Excellent Article about "Quitting Church"

With ever shrinking congregations, Julia Duin's book seems like a good read. A few quotes:

People want their needs met. I don't think that's a bad thing, but I was really attacked on a recent radio show for suggesting churches should be more willing to cater to some pretty obvious needs. Like, I was asked what singles - an underserved group if there ever was one in church life - need, and I said, "To get married." Pastors in other countries, e.g. India, see matchmaking as part of their job description but here in the States, it's every believer for him or herself.

Relevancy means speaking to the true battles people are facing in terms of depression, exhaustion, joblessness, inability to connect with God, etc. I do not see most pastors at all in touch with how the majority of their listeners have no idea how to hear from God. This should be a top priority.

Relevancy is understanding what your typical parishioner goes through; everything from killer rush hours to family breakdowns. One wonders if pastors lead real lives. I think many are isolated from what the rest of us face; thus, I rarely if ever take notes in church any more, because there's rarely anything insightful in the typical sermon.

Oddity of the Day -- Vegetable Orchestra

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Happy Birthday Daddy!

From your homeschoolers who really are working on the American Presidents Project. Really. video

Fun with Microscopes

I have ordered some things for my microscope, including a stage and a camera. I'm psyched! We are going to have fun with microscopes later this month. I also ordered some agar and Petri dishes; we are going to swap everything (including the litter box) to see how much bacteria there really is. Then (using proper protocol) we can look at some of the bacteria under the microscope and with the digital camera, capture the images. We also are going to study each head of hair in the family, including the cat. We may also go into the field and collect fur and hair from other people and make some observations about fur and hair.

I have given the kids each an essay to write today; I am at times pleased and at times shocked at their knowledge or lack of knowledge. Entropy in particular is working on proper form for an essay.

I did received a few more books; Chaos is going to work on the Grammar and Language workbook and write a report on Cakes.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Happy Candlemas, Y'all

According to Itinerarium Peregrinatio ("Pilgrimage Itinerary") of Egeria:

XXVI. "The fortieth day after the Epiphany is undoubtedly celebrated here with the very highest honor, for on that day there is a procession, in which all take part, in the Anastasis, and all things are done in their order with the greatest joy, just as at Easter. All the priests, and after them the bishop, preach, always taking for their subject that part of the Gospel where Joseph and Mary brought the Lord into the Temple on the fortieth day, and Symeon and Anna the prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, saw Him, treating of the words which they spake when they saw the Lord, and of that offering which His parents made. And when everything that is customary has been done in order, the sacrament is celebrated, and the dismissal takes place."

This would make February 14th Candlemas, but in the 4th century Rome set the Nativity of Christ to December 25, Epiphany to January 6 and thus the purification of a male child would occur on February 2, 40 days after the Nativity.

It the the day that candles are blessed, because of the words that were spoken by Simeon and Anna when they saw Christ and the light of the world was revealed in the Temple. Some call it a "paegan celebration of lights" and call it Imbolc. Imbolc is found equidistant between the Solstice and the Equinox and usually occurs on February 2. Thus, it is sometimes seen as another paegan celebration coopted by the Christian church.

By this time, all greenery is removed from the halls:
Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and mistletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all,
Wherewith ye dress'd the Christmas Hall"
Robert Herrick (1591–1674), "Ceremony upon Candlemas Eve"



As the light grows longer,
The cold grows stronger.
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas be cloud and snow,
Winter will be gone and not come again.
A farmer should on Candlemas day,
Have half his corn and half his hay.
On Candlemas day if thorns hang a drop,
You can be sure of a good pea crop.

- Old poem of Scottish origin, author unknown

Oddity of the Day -- Martha Washington was Hawt

We tend to think of Martha Washington as a dumpy little widow, fat and grey before her time, but some say she could have been quite hawt. Who knew?

Morning Prayer -- John S. Spong and Romans *

Quote: "You can't have a world where 50 percent of the people are dieting and 50 percent of the people are starving if you want stability."

Romans 8:18-25
18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.


Gracious God,

Send us anywhere in this world You would have us go
Only go thou with us.

Place upons us any burden You desire
Only stand by us to sustain us.

Break any tie that binds us
Except the tie that binds us to thee.

Amen.


Source: John Shelby Spong quoting David Livingstone.