Friday, March 30, 2007

you won't find this next to the chocolate bunnies yet...

Just ran across this MSN report on a controversial chocolate sculpture entitled "My Sweet Lord". At first I thought I'd just ignore it, then decided, "No, I'll bite." (pun intended)

Cavallaro, an artist known for working with food to create art, sculpted an anatomically correct Jesus using over 200 pounds of milk chocolate. Not surprisingly, the work created controversy (wasn't that the point?!) and sparked an outcry from Christian groups which led to the cancellation of the exhibit.

As of the writing of this post, 47% of those taking an MSN poll found the sculpture offensive, while 47% did not. (6% of folks were undecided.) Wow! Talk about an even split! Because I have a rather offbeat sense of humor, I'm more apt to find the sculpture mildly amusing (especially the name!) than offensive. Of course, I can certainly understand and respect those who do find it offensive. Personally, I'd mostly consider it offensive if I learned that the milk chocolate was hollow -- because that symbolism would be just plain wrong.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

patient wisdom

Every now and then, patients share their philosophy of life with me. In fact, I had that happen just today. I was running behind schedule (unfortunately not the most rare occurrence), so I apologized for keeping an elderly man waiting. It turns out he was a "hakuna matata" sort of guy, and was very pleasant about the delay. Actually, he really had a wonderful disposition throughout the exam.

As he was getting ready to leave after his appointment, he told me that he's always tried to remember "you don't have a guarantee stapled to your butt when you come into this world, and you don't get to have a U-Haul attached to your hearse when you leave."

Good point... and interesting imagery.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

pasta and prayin'

I've established a fun little tradition for myself. Whenever we visit the WWU bookstore, I make it a point to purchase a book. Hey, it's a win-win! Not only do I get something new to read, but I support #1 Offspring's college too!

The last book I purchased there was Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This book is really part travelogue, part autobiography, and part spiritual reflection. Depressed after a bitter divorce and complicated love affair, the author sets out on a yearlong path to recovery and self-discovery. She divides the year equally between Italy (where she explores the art of pleasure via food and language), India (where she learns devotion in an Ashram), and Indonesia (where she learns to achieve balance and has a little romance thrown in as well).

Although at times the author seems just a bit too pleased with her own special self, the book is, for the most part, well-written and insightful.

This paragraph sums up pretty nicely what Gilbert learned about happiness:

"People universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough. But that's not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. ... It's easy enough to pray when you're in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainments."

Some good thoughts there! I'm giving the book 4 out of 5 cat pajamas.

(cats from

Friday, March 23, 2007

funny how it's always about vision with me...

Patients sometimes tell me unusual things. Perhaps the darkened eye exam room creates an atmosphere conducive to sharing inner thoughts. For example, I saw a middle-aged woman a while back who confided that she secretly wished she had super powers. Yeah, it was a bit random, but an interesting thought nonetheless. So as I was pondering my "to do" list today, I decided to procrastinate by taking a goofy online quiz to determine which super hero I would be.

Turns out I am Cyclops, which I find rather ironic since part of what I do is work towards helping people achieve decent binocular vision. I would have rather been Invisible Girl (imagine the fun I could have while not being seen), but at least she came up as my #2 ranking.

Here are my results:
You scored as Cyclops. As the leader of the X-Men, Cyclops is mature, dedicated, and committed to his cause. A bit stuck-up and arrogant at times, he gets angry when people won't work for the good of the team.



The Invisible Girl


The Human Torch


Mr. Fantastic


The Hulk




The Punisher










The Thing




Which Marvel Super Hero Are You?
created with

So....take the quiz and let me know who YOU are!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I'm thinkin' mismatch...

Some things just seem to go together. For example:
* movies and hot, buttery popcorn (yum!)
* a backyard hammock and reading/napping on a summer day (ahhh!)

Two items in the news today point out (at least to me) that some things really don't belong together:

Item #1 Hooters in the Holy Land. (Yeah, that should go a long ways towards building more respect abroad for the U.S. culture.)

Item #2 Ginormous skywalk and viewing platform in the Grand Canyon. (Improving on nature, are we?)


Monday, March 19, 2007

the whooper whoops

I've got some good news and some bad news...

The good news: The Whooper Swan, common to Asia and Europe, has been spotted in northern Washington state! Birders from as far away as Florida have been "flocking" (pun intended) to Skagit County to catch a glimpse, delighting not only the birders but area businesses as well.

The bad news: It's not supposed to be here! The Whooper Swan breeds in the arctic regions of Europe and Asia and is supposed to spend its winters farther south. According to USA Today, ornithologists and conservation groups are saying that "more bird species...are ranging farther north and even staying there for the winter in a possible sign of adaptation to global warming." (full story here)

I don't know about you, but with each new story relating to global warming, my concern for creation ratchets up a notch. If you want to bop around the PC(USA) site to see what they have to say on global warming, click here.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

St. Pat's Blast from the Past

While I'm in nostalgia mode and in honor of the day, here's a picture from St. Patrick's Day, mid-70's. I was doing my undergrad work at a small, private, catholic liberal arts college in Montana, and St. Pat's Day was a big deal.

This shot was taken at the traditional (although don't know if they still have it) St Pat's kegger out at Canyon Ferry near Helena. I recall it as a clear, brisk day with snow still on the ground. As you can see, I was holding an Oly cup, but you'll have to trust me when I say that I acted with the utmost decorum.

Happy St. Pat's!

Friday, March 16, 2007

If you can read this, you're blogging too close...

It's not an original or earth-shaking insight to note that bumper stickers are often trite. (How could they not be? It's pretty hard to reduce complex concepts down to a few words that can be absorbed during the limited time spent at a stop light.) Still, I must admit that I almost never fail to read them. They range from those I find mildly amusing -- e.g. Don't Make Me Release the Flying Monkeys! -- to those I find seriously annoying. I've noticed that most of the ones in my seriously annoying category have a "theological" theme. Example: Bible or Murder: Pick One For Your School. I mean, geez! Are those the only two available choices?

Then there is the ubiquitous Never Drive Faster Than Your Angels Can Fly. I can't help but ponder, "Hmm... how fast CAN angels fly?" And, being a competitive person by nature, I consider this to be an interesting challenge. I want to say, "OK, bring it on! Ten bucks says I can make it to Portland before my wussy angels do!"

On the way to work the other morning, I drove behind a car that had two bumper stickers on the back: Coexist and Spay and Neuter. Both are nice ideas, but the fact that they were placed side by side led me to wonder if the driver intended a thinly veiled threat. "You people better get along, or else..."

As for my car, it will continue to be a "bumper sticker free zone". For one thing, I can't think of any one-liner I'd really want displayed. For another, once a sticker is slapped on, it takes a blow torch and a chisel to get it off. Yet, I hope other people keep plastering their cars with bumper stickers. It makes my drive a little more entertaining.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

no, I'm not the dinosaur...

Today #2 offspring turned 18. Whoa! 18! Probably due to a sudden burst of nostalgia, I couldn't resist buying a goofy, basically age-inappropriate cake. He loved it. Yep, it's going to be strangely quiet doing the empty nest thing next fall...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The "Huh?" Factor

Last night in Bellingham at WWU, I had the opportunity to see #1 offspring in a one act play. (She was wonderful I might add!) The production was an edited version of Information for Foreigners, a politically conscious play by Argentine playwright Griselda Gambara. This work was penned (or typed!) in the early 70's to address specific problems in Argentina, but it really applies to the larger issue of government-sponsored terrorism in whatever country that might occur.

Both farcical and disturbing, Information for Foreigners seriously messes with your head as it uses symbols of refined culture such as music and theater to juxtapose civility and barbarism. I found the play complex, compelling, and emotionally demanding. When it ended, one of #1 offspring's friends (who happened to be across the aisle from me) stammered "What just happened?!" She had the look of someone who had just come through a wind tunnel.

It was the "Huh?" factor, but in a good way.

I love plays, books, music, etc. that stretch me and force me to think about things. Granted sometimes "fluffy" fare is therapeutic in its easiness and comfort, but the real growth occurs when I am stretched. (This play was a perfect example of that!) And, the same is true in the theo realm. I think the best things tend to happen when one gets outside of the comfort zone.

picture above is: Juxtapose IV by Salvador Luca

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Aaargh! Clutter!

Whoa, can I ever relate to this picture! (And I love the wink given to Munch's The Scream!) As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been working to de-junk our house and reclaim it from an inordinate amount of clutter.

According to The Free Online Dictionary, clutter is:
1. a confused multitude of things
2. unwanted echoes that interfere with the observation of signals on a radar screen

Of course, the "confused multitude of things" perfectly describes many of my rooms (and especially the drawers and closets), but I also like the second definition because of the word "interfere". Clutter interferes. It interferes with our ability to focus on what's important.

So, getting rid of clutter (or de-junking) for me is not so much about cleaning as it is about decreasing the interference. Simplicity as spiritual discipline. Yep, I'm working on that one.

Monday, March 5, 2007

keeping the sabbath ... at home

Wow... We are now seriously de-churched! Yesterday was the first Sunday of "no more Portal". To borrow from Emily Dickinson:

Some keep the Sabbath going to church;
I keep it staying at home,
With a bobolink for a chorister,
And an orchard for a dome.

It's interesting that this "bobolink" phase is happening during Lent. Hmmm.... Coincidence?

(sunset picture above was recently taken by #2 offspring)

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Gone Fishin'

OK, I'll admit it! One of my "flaws" is that I tend to be a wee bit competitive. So I had to laugh when I saw this cartoon while randomly bopping around the internet. The Moses character is so me here!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Pleasantville and the Emergent Church

Saw a picture of Don Knotts the other day, which reminded me of his role in Pleasantville, which reminded me of the emergent conversation... Yeah, that's how my brain works.

Probably you've all seen Pleasantville, that '98 movie about 2 teens (played by Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon) who are transported via a mysterious tv remote to a black and white 1950's sitcom. On the surface, life looks idyllic in Pleasantville, yet when examined more closely it just seems darn monotonous! When "Bud" and "Mary Sue" (Maguire and Witherspoon) begin to influence the people with whom they interact, attitudes and behaviors begin to change, which is represented symbolically by objects and people turning into color.

The town becomes very divided in its attitude towards change, and those in color are initially feared and shunned by those in black and white. As the movie progresses, change is shown as something to be embraced, not feared, as it opens people up to creative possibilites and richer lives.

I've seen an obvious parallel with the emergent conversation for some time... And those of us "in color" know it ain't easy being green (or whatever color), but returning to black and white just isn't an option!