May 31, 2010

Some Gave All

USS Arizona Memorial

American Cemetery, Manila

Marine Corps Monument

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

U.S. Cemetery, Normandy

May 26, 2010

Protest, Please

I know you are upset about what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico. I encourage you to protest.

Don't use your car for a month. Remember, you also can't take the bus, the subway, a taxi or fly in an airplane.

You have to walk, ride a horse that eats hay you grow on your own land, or ride a bike.

I don't like what is happening either. It is a tragedy with years and years of repercussions. There are no easy answers. It isn't an easy problem. But I can tell you that some of the smartest minds in the world are working on it.

The "oil companies" are not the whole problem. They don't all consider themselves "beyond petroleum." Some of them aren't putting windmills on their gas stations. Some of them are focusing on what they do and are doing it the best way they know how. Some of them focus on safety. Some are doing the job they know how to do better than anybody else in the world. I know this because my husband works for one of them.

He works longer hours in more dangerous situations than just about anyone I know. He is committed to personal safety and project safety. He has over 1000 people working for him. Their lives and well-being are his responsibility. He takes his job very seriously.

Yes, he makes a good salary and his company makes a profit. I refuse to apologize for that. If you own a mutual fund, then you should be glad they do.

Given all of that ... I wold like you to put him out of business. I would like to see more of him. So if everyone will stop using oil and gas products, he will be out of a job.

Go ahead. Protest. Please.

May 21, 2010

Random Thoughts

I don't have pet peeves,
I have whole kennels of irritation.

-Whoopi Goldberg

May 19, 2010

City on A Hill


I may have mentioned this before. I have great Faith. I have known how I believed since I was 13 and have little strayed from it. I can pull it out and quote an appropriate Bible verse for your specific situation at the drop of a hat. I was steeped in it as a child. I was raised on it as a teen. I don't talk about it a lot now that I am an adult. It is personal. It is mine.

I used to be more vocal, but I am not a stupid person. When I get burned, I stop putting my hand in the fire. I also have a really tough time with hypocrisy. I do what I say I will. I expect the same from others. I can't stand those who plaster their Christian bumper stickers on their car and then cut you off in traffic. It is a silly example, but you know what I mean.

Both my husband and I have lately felt a pull to be more open with where we are in our walk with God. We are older and wiser now. We have travelled so many roads. Yet I resist. I am not really afraid. I guess just wary.

Eric Metaxas addresses exactly my many recent questions in the Spring 2010 issue of The City with two simpler questions, "Does God want us to change the world? And if so, how?"

The answers are simple. Aren't they? If they are so easily answered, why do I see so many of my very intelligent Christian friends pulling themselves out of the world instead of wading headlong into it? Why have I been pressured lately, not by family but by friends, to enroll my boys in a Christian based classical school? (I won't, by the way, put the boys somewhere where they are not taught to think, but are told what to think.)

Metaxas turns to William Wilberforce as an example. Finally, one I can understand. He changed the world. And he did not do it by completely separating himself.

Christians have always struggled with how much they should be separate from the wider culture. It’s a crucial balance to strike. It’s tempting to mock those who today or in the past have separated themselves entirely, but often they’ve done so with good reasons, such as a desire to preserve their faith, to keep the secular or pagan culture from destroying it. Of course that’s why God called the Israelites to be separate from the pagan cultures around them. Another good reason has to do with wanting to protect one’s children from harm. Nonetheless, in the last century, Christians on the whole have pulled back too much from the wider culture, retreating when they ought to have advanced, or at the least, held their ground and fought.

Metaxas claims Wilberforce is an excellent example of someone who did not chose to be either "in the world" or "not of the world." He understood how to be both.

If they (the Clapham Circle) had come across as merely odd religious fanatics, their success would have been seriously hurt.... When we hide in a separate Christian subculture, with its own celebrities and music and "literature" and "Paintings of Light," we often lose the ability to communicate effectively with those on the outside.... Within the plastic palisades of Fort Churchianity(TM), we will care little if the world outside perishes.

So I will stay my course. I will slowly be a little more open with my Faith. I don't have to become a missionary to China or Haiti to do it either. I don't have to hold a revival on my front lawn.

But I will continue to read and study those things which are part of a "culture" that I love and respect. And I do not mean People or InStyle magazines. I will not, as my friend Ann suggests, "Remove that liberal trash (The Atlantic)" from my house. I will continue to read and to study. I will go to museums. I will teach the boys to read the Bible and Darwin. I will rest secure in my belief that being in the world does not always mean being of the world.

Paul quoted pagan poets and philosophers to put his points across. He didn’t advocate their worldviews, but he took from them what was valuable, what was universally true, and he used it to point to the one who is Truth.

Childish Behavior in Adults

Can someone help me with the terminology? If you are kicked off someone's facebook friends list are you "un-friended" or "de-friended"? I think I like the latter.

Is it the new ultimate insult?

What would have been the equivalent when we were in high-school? Not being invited to a party? Or how about being invited to a party and then being told you couldn't come.?

By the way ... I don't want you to think I am upset about this. I think it is the funniest thing to happen around here in a while.

May 14, 2010

He Can Tell a Story

As we work our way through our "at home" world history curriculum, J. and I are moving through the Middle Ages. We are making our way slowly, ever so slowly, to the Renaissance.

We flew through the Ancients. We loved the stories of the Egyptians and the Greeks and Romans. I haven't found quite as much to love in the stuffy English monarchs and the Plague.

Until this week. When we experienced Henry V.

I have read a little Shakespeare. A little. I remember when I was a girl, someone in my family gave me a beautifully illustrated children's version of some of his plays. His most famous comedies and his tragedies were all there. But there were no histories. There were none of the compelling and beautiful stories of the the great men of England.

So we jumped in this week. Anticipating this chapter and needing to add a little life into our study (the Greeks and Romans had tons of outside material to draw on, I haven't found as much for the Middle Ages), I purchased Henry V in comic book form for J.

and No Fear Shakespeare for myself.

We read them one afternoon, and the watched Kenneth Branagh in the title role in this film adaption.

I'll say it right now. I have missed out on a lot. It was wonderful. It was powerful. It was brilliant.

But we in it shall be remembered--
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
this day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

After we finished the movie last night, J. was pretty quiet. You know, it isn't very "cool" in 4th grade to be a fan of the Bard. Then he said before he went to sleep, "That guy really knows how to tell a story." Amen.

May 4, 2010

Bookbag - April

If you didn't notice, there was no "Bookbag" in March. I didn't read. I skied quite a bit, but I didn't read.

April has been an entirely different matter all together. I have read voraciously, probably to make up for lost time. And the things I have read - WOW have they made me think. Some have even begun to change my life.

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Have you been watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution? Shame on you if you haven't. If you have been watching it and want to take the next step in your personal food revolution, then this is the book for you. It will change the way you think about your meals. The first sentence of the book asks a fairly simple question - What should we have for dinner? He answers the question, but leaves us to ask and answer bigger questions about our food. This is the book that has changed my life. I'm a big thinker to begin with, but now I have added thinking about my food to the list. Thinking about my relationship with it, not just what it will taste like.

Food Rules by Michael Pollan
This is the book to read if you don't have time for Pollan's larger work. Pollan breaks eating down into 64 simple rules that can have you eating better than you ever have before in you life. Some of my personal favorites, "Eat only foods that will eventually rot," and "Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself." Simple easy solutions to our food crisis. My grandmother would be proud. Jamie Oliver would cheer.

The Complete Guide to the National Park Lodges by David and Kay Scott
We are visiting Glacier this summer and Big Bend next year. Then we plan to hit Yellowstone, Yosemite and The Grand Canyon.

Brave Companions by David McCullough
This was my favorite book this month. It may rank as one of my favorite books of all time. I always learn from Mr. McCullough and this book is no exception. It is a collection of articles and pieces that came from his larger works and from speeches. He writes near the end, "there is nothing inevitable about history." I don't think it is a lesson we have quite learned as a country. He shows, so eloquently, that one man can make a difference and that we can be the change. I learned that the truisms are, well, true. Unfortunately, he has also added to my TBR pile. There may be 50 books he referenced that I must now read.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Chris Cleave's Little Bee was wonderful. Fiction has bored me lately. Most of the works I have picked up (especially some of the best-selling popular ones) have given me absolutely no reason to turn the page. So many have been the same story told with different words. I have found nothing original, until I picked this up at the bookstore the other day. One of my daily blog reads had done a small "chapbook" entry on it and I decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did. As much as I have travelled, I have never been to Africa, but I am connected to the continent one week a month while my husband is there on business. Often protected by bullet proof cars and men with machine guns as he is driven to work (yes, he is in the oil business), he looks out and sees the desperation and tragedy that is life over there. He has often said that I couldn't imagine what he sees and what life is like for the people of Nigeria or Angola. Yes, I can. Yes, I can.

I also participated in Girl Detective's 15 Books in 15 Days Challenge. Here are the links to those posts:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Time Pirate
Profiles in Courage
Nikon D90: Guide to Digital SLR Photography
The Emperor's Code
With The Old Breed
Mere Christianity
Touch the Dragon
Looking at Pictures
The Girl Who Threw Butterflies
Ruined by Reading
The Mother Tongue
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats
The LIttle Prince

May 1, 2010

To Fly, To Read

Chapter nine of David McCullough's Brave Companions begins:

In the mid-1920s, in several parts of the world, a number of brave, skilled young men and women began taking to the air at the controls of a variety of aircraft ...

I was hooked on that chapter. I was hooked on the book as well, but I read and re-read that chapter. Then I went back to it and read it again.

These were no amateur pilots. They were intensely professional, intensely serious about the craft of flying and about their own role in history....

But most remarkable is how many of them proved to be writers of exceptional grace and vision, authors of more than a score of books.

The chapter was compelling because it combines two things I am passionate about ... reading and flying. You get the reading part. Who else would agree to read 15 books in 15 days and finish? Either someone who is passionate about reading or crazy (and I have been called that before).

But my passion for flying is a hard one to explain. I am not a pilot (my husband takes the controls of our personal aircraft). As many times as he asks me if I want to take the controls, I say "No." That is too much pressure. Too much responsibility. I don't want to pilot.

I like to navigate. I like to figure out how to get where we are going ... too easy sometimes with our modern avionics. What I really like is too look out the window and watch the ground rush by as we fly overhead. I like being up in the air. I like seeing the world from that angle. I like to fly.

I understand what compelled them to fly and to write. It is the same thing that compels me to read and to travel in our small plane. Both take you to new places.

The airplane offered a spiritual pilgrimage in ways other machines never had. These aviators wrote of being lifted out of themselves by the very act of flight, of becoming part of something infinitely larger than themselves.

McCullough discusses the books of both Lindberghs, Beryl Markham, Nevil Norway and Amelia Earhart. But I realized with a shock that I had never read one of the most famous pilot/authors signature works. I had never read Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince.

That would be my 15th book. The Little Prince.

Much has been written of this little book that I learned to love in an hour of a day. But McCullough can say it better than I ever could.

"What frightens me more than the war is the world of tomorrow," Saint-Exupery told his mother in late 1940. Central to all he wrote was the theme of responsibility. In The Little Prince, it is the fox, finally, that tells the Little Prince what really matters in life, by reminding him of the flower, the single rose, he had cared for at home on his own small planet. "Men have forgotten the truth," says the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose."

I see that as I fly. The responsibility I have as a wife and a mother. The responsibility I have a citizen. We have built this country. We have planted and harvested from her soils. We have crossed her majestic peaks. We have settled and populated her. We have tamed her. Now we are to be held responsible.