Monthly Archives: May 2013

That Counts for Something

Jen Hatmaker is exactly the sort of cheerleader I need as we push our decrepit, out-of-gas school bus of academic achievement toward the summer break. We weren’t always like this; last Fall we were on a roll.

We used to care, and that counts for something.

via Jen Hatmaker – Worst End of School Year Mom Ever.

The Meticulously Trimmed Claws of Blossom and Coriander

James McGrath perfectly expresses my guinea pigs’ view of my children and I.

…godlike beings who bring the treacherous gift…

via Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos.

Thinking makes it so

Lately (for more than a year, actually) the topic of “how and what I think about my own life” has taken up a lot of my thinking time. From an article about happiness, this comparison of different thinkers thinking about happiness resonated with me.

[F]rom Shakespeare: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” From Buddha: “Our life is the creation of our mind.”

via 7 Must-Read Books on the Art & Science of Happiness | Brain Pickings.

What my worries say

[W]orries often say more about the worrier than about the world.

A quote from John Armstrong. It makes me wonder (and goads me to plot on paper somehow) what my worries say about me, and how those worries connect with the actual world I experience.

And a little more from him:

So, addressing money worries should be quite different from dealing with money troubles. To address our worries we have to give attention to the pattern of thinking (ideology) and to the scheme of values (culture) as these are played out in our won individual, private existences.

via How to Worry Less About Money | Brain Pickings.

Become Dead Somehow

This part-essay/part-comic about the author’s depression and beginnings of a recovery is really quite touching. Or it resonates with me. Or something. I’d say more but, you know, public.

I want to hold onto the link, anyway.

Hyperbole and a Half: Depression Part Two.

The Exploitation of Others

A succinct way of saying something I’ve been feeling for a while now.

Like Julia Ward Howe, I do not want my pleasures, or even my necessities, built on the exploitation of others.

via Mothers Day criticism: We’re doing Mothers Day all wrong. – Slate Magazine.

An Empty Compliment

David Frum effectively demonstrates that the mantra of “responsible gun ownership” is meaningless if the only judgment of who is irresponsible occurs once they’ve accidentally shot someone.

Here’s the blunt fact: for all the talk about “responsible gun ownership,” guns are easily available to everybody, responsible or not. It’s an empty compliment even to refer to “responsible gun owners” – many of them are people who through good luck simply have not had their irresponsibility catch up with them yet, as so tragically happened yesterday to the Wanko family.

via What Guns Do in The Real World – The Daily Beast.

Launching and Landing

Scot McKnight quotes Michelle van Loon’s article about the reasons people leave or become less active in their churches. She attributes some of the leaving to the fact that people spiritually “outgrow” what the church is offering, like maybe an ego-driven pastor or ministries in stasis. Either way, I like her categories for churches as either spiritual launchpads or spiritual destinations.

… I find myself wondering today if it is harder to outgrow a church that understands itself to be a resource and a launch pad than it is to leave a church that functions as a spiritual destination. Few churches use this language of themselves, but that doesn’t change the reality that some congregations are precisely that – organizational terminal points for learning, worship and service.

via Can you grow out of a local church?.

A Notion of the Divine

James McGrath points out that in ancient times people attributed forces of nature to the actions of gods. Lightening, floods, droughts, and earthquakes seem capricious in how indiscriminately they deal destruction and death, and so the gods were seen as capricious, violent, and angry too. Then McGrath brings us into the modern world were we know the lawful, orderly physics behind these forces of nature and can view them as destructive but not a sign of some god being willfully malicious.

For some, the move away from anthropomorphizing the forces of nature is a move away from any sort of notion of the divine. But for others, it is a move towards a deeper appreciation of true transcendence, as we understand that the ultimate Reality that encompasses all we have come to see, detect, and comprehend is even greater and more different than us than most of our ancient predecessors envisaged.

via Beware of God.

Let’s imagine that an ancient village is struck by a flood, destroying its crops, drowning its livestock, and resulting in the threat of starvation for its people. Those people may attribute the flood to the action of a capricious god venting his anger, but they don’t then respond “Oh, well. Nothing to be done about it.” Instead they would take this suspicion that the gods are angry about something and try to appease those gods. They were already attempting to control their environment by growing food and domesticating animals, so this suspicion that God was smashing their stuff would cause them to try controlling God’s reactions too. That would lead to religious speculations about why God does what God does, and also lead to religious practices to keep God favorably disposed toward their village.

If this is an accurate summary — that ancient religions began in part as an attempt to control the outcomes of our interactions with God — then what’s left as a basis for relating to God once we start to explain natural disasters in terms of meteorology, hydrology, and geology and no longer in terms of God’s mood?

If storms aren’t the result of God’s anger but are instead an unavoidable side effect of having a dense, breathable atmosphere, then what reason do we have to suspect that God exists at all? The old thinking went: lightening equals anger; anger equals person; therefor God. What is the new conclusion when lightening equals electrons and electrons are mindless and impersonal? Does this leave any room for a modern child to experience lightening and decide that someone in the sky must be angry? Wouldn’t that be similar to skinning your knee on the sidewalk and reasoning that someone in the concrete must be angry?

And if, as modern people, we are still convinced that God exists because we have the less dramatic experience of a “still, quiet voice” then what guides us in determining how to relate to that voice?

I’m not arguing that God doesn’t exist or that religion is necessarily a poorly reasoned attempt to comforting our fear of the unknown. I’m asking. I’m struggling. I’m honestly struggling.

Austerity vs. Investment

Paul Krugman does a nice job summarizing the reasons for the slow economy we’re in and also how to tell whether it’s the austerity folks or the government-spending folks that have their ducks in a row.

The Story of Our Time –