Sunday, April 29, 2007

my sunday morning

This morning my activities included leisurely reading the Sunday paper while enjoying a cup of coffee, checking my e-mail and a few blogs, making pumpkin juice for Offspring #2's Harry Potter party (this senior class is way cool), and doing some work type stuff around the house. Noticeably absent was church attendance.

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I'd like a church that is relevant, authentic, and inclusive. I want one with progressive theology and one which embraces mystery and creativity. There doesn't seem to be a church in town that fits my bill. I think really good candidates would be here or here, but I'd have to board a jet weekly, and then my carbon footprint would be waaaay too big.

Even though I'm not expecting a "perfect" church (since that doesn't exist), perhaps I am being too picky. Perhaps I'm subconsciously expecting to be so enamored with a church that (to borrow from the abominable snowman on Bugs Bunny) I want to "hug it and squeeze it and name it George". Perhaps. But for now, I'm enjoying my Sunday mornings.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Norma Desmond Moment

Bopping around the internet often leads to interesting finds for me. I just ran across something called "soaking", a practice that is apparently gaining some popularity in charismatic circles. Soaking prayer is the "setting aside of oneself to focus and meditate on God for renewal of strength and peace." OK. So far so good. But the 'catch' is that it appears to require special training and money to get it. There are different groups that will "soak you" (pun intended) for the training. For example, completing the "Deeper Christian Life Soaking Prayer Center School" online course (for $50) will get you "a beautiful gold seal certificate/diploma suitable for framing which verifies you have received your training and are now a member and Director of an official Deeper Christian Life International Soaking Prayer Center." Wow. Suitable for framing!

All of this reminds me of the famous scene from the classic 1950 movie, Sunset Boulevard:
Joe Gillis (William Holden): You're Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big.
Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson): I am big. It's the pictures that got small.

Yep, the gospel is still big -- it's some churches and people who choose to get small.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

losing the (kitten) war

Sigh. Offspring #2 and I are disheartened this evening. Licorice, our incredibly cute (as you can clearly see by the above photo!) kitty, is not faring well over at kitten war, the internet site where people vote for their favorite feline. Licorice has gone head to head with another kitty and lost an unbelievable 75% of the time! Doing the math, one would expect him to have won 25% of the time, but it's worse than that! He tied 8% of the matches, so his winning percentage is a paltry 17%. (I mean, geez, Bush and Cheney have higher ratings!)

I'm just not getting it. Who could resist that little face?!

Monday, April 23, 2007

pic of the day

Ah, spring in the Pacific Northwest is lovely. (And for those of you with 'allergy eyes', Bausch & Lomb has a new over the counter drop called Alaway.)

photo by Offspring #1

Sunday, April 22, 2007

earth day birthday

Earth Day is 37 years old today. According to Wikipedia, here's how it came to be:

Responding to widespread environmental degradation, Gaylord Nelson, a United States Senator from Wisconsin, called for an environmental teach-in, or Earth Day, to be held on April 22, 1970. Over 20 million people participated that year, and Earth Day is now observed each year on April 22 by more than 500 million people and national governments in 175 countries.

Well, we've obviously got some MAJOR environmental concerns facing us on this Earth Day 2007. (Note my not-so-subtle symbolic reference to global warming by the way I've placed the burning candles on earth...)

While the big picture might seem pretty overwhelming, I think it's important to not get totally discouraged, but rather to begin taking even small steps towards helping our planet. Check out these sites:
Earthday Network
World Wildlife Earth Day site

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI reversed traditional Roman Catholic teaching on limbo, that borderland between heaven and hell, by approving a Vatican report that said there were "grounds to hope" that children who die without being baptized can go to heaven. Full story here. Theologians had long taught that while children who die without baptism would not be in communion with God in heaven, they do enjoy an "eternal state of perfect natural happiness" in limbo. It probably looks something like this:

Oh wait, wrong limbo.

The Vatican report doesn't carry the authority of a papal encyclical, and it was stressed that "no one can no for certain". So limbo may be, well, in limbo for now. However, many (including myself) consider the Pope's decision to be both "sensitive and significant".

I like the statement by Rev. Richard McBrien, Notre Dame theology professor: "If there's no limbo and we're not going to revert to St. Augustine's teaching that unbaptized infants go to hell, we're left with only one option, namely, that everyone is born in the state of grace."

Friday, April 20, 2007

it's official!

After much deliberation, the decision has been reached. In the fall, Offspring #2 will be joining Offspring #1 at the same university. (Let the zany, madcap sibling college adventures begin!) I think they will look something like this heading off to school:

Thursday, April 19, 2007

pandering to the ratings god

I had the tv on in the background a good hunk of yesterday while I was resting after a medical procedure. While I know it is necessary to cover the tragedy at Virginia Tech, I became increasingly disturbed by the amount and type of coverage. I fail to see the purpose in bombarding the viewer with looping images of the gunman posing with weapons and repeatedly playing the video of his rambling 'manifesto'. Responsible journalism? I think not. To my way of thinking this type of 'sensational' coverage simply granted the wish of the gunman. (Why else did he send the package to NBC instead of, say, the FBI?) It also probably served as a sick inspiration to others inclined to take such action.

There were other aspects of the story that could have been more thoroughly covered instead: e.g. mental health and the law, campus security around the nation, recalling the victims and heroes... But guess those aren't quite as zippy for ratings.

Disappointing, but unfortunately not surprising.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

To quote Gilda: It's always something!

OH NOOOOOO!!!!!! Where are all my post pictures?!!?! Apparently blogger is experiencing technical difficulties.

They say:
Picasa Web Albums will be having some more maintanence this afternoon. Hopefully the outage will not last more than 30 minutes. During this time, photo uploading will be unavailable, and some older photos may not be available for viewing. We will post updates as we know more details.

Well, blog buddies, it has been way longer than 30 minutes! I guess if my photos are not back up in the next day or so, I'll have to reload them all in one by one. Assuming they will load at all. Sigh. Stay tuned.

[UPDATE: A couple of hours after my 'impatient bordering on whiny' post, the pictures were all back. Woo hoo!]

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Words are inadequate in the face of the tragedy at Virginia Tech. What can one say about something that seems almost incomprehensible? I ran across remembrances of some of the shooting victims on Story here. Seeing the faces and reading a little about the background and interests of these remarkable young people and educators makes the tragedy that much more personal and poignant. Along with the rest of the nation, I mourn the loss of the victims, and feel tremendous empathy for the family and friends of the victims who must eventually try to pick up the pieces of their lives.

Nikki Giovanni, a professor at Virginia Tech, had this to say: "We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on. We are embracing our mourning. We are Virginia Tech..."

Monday, April 16, 2007

hot off the presses...

As promised, here's the link to The Daily News article featuring a quote from (and picture of) #2 Offspring!

Friday, April 13, 2007

coming soon to a newspaper near you...

A little quiz: What upcoming story would you most want to read about?
(a) Rochester vs. Kalama baseball ... [yawn]
(b) What do your neighbors make? ... [who cares?]
(c) Race for Presidency Sparks Interest of Local Teens

Yes, I think (c) is the obvious choice! And it just so happens that #2 Offspring was interviewed for that very story! I don't know anything about the article (other than the topic), but I think it should be pretty darn interesting. (I also think it's cool #2 Offspring has a keen interest in current events.)

So stay tuned! On Monday I'll post the link to the article (assuming The Daily News posts it online).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

'graphic' illustration

Just ran across this in today's USA Today. (Hmm... I guess saying "today's Today" is redundant!) The graph shows that the biggest health fear of Americans is losing sight. I can't say that I'm surprised, since all day long people share that very fear with me. Still, it is striking actually seeing it displayed on the graph, with 'losing sight' outranking even 'cancer'. So this "mild-mannered optometrist by day" will continue with the mission to save the world, one retina at a time... or at least help alleviate some fears.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Happy Easter

I've been working with old family photos and ran across some Easter-related ones. These shots really illustrate the difference between #1 and #2 Offspring growing up. Whereas #1 Offspring would boldy pose with anyone or anything (monkeys, elephants, Santa, Disney characters, etc.), #2 Offspring was always much more reticent.

Pictured upper left: #1 Offspring with the good ol' shopping mall Easter bunny. Pictured below: #2 Offspring not posing with the Easter bunny at preschool. Since he steadfastly refused to go anywhere near the bunny, the teachers finally resorted to taking two separate polaroids and advising us to just go ahead and mentally fuse them. #2 Offspring defends his 'just say no to the rabbit' decision to this day. When looking at the pictures yesterday, he remarked, "Seriously... He looks creepy!" Pause. "Really! Doesn't he look creepy?"

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Holy Fire and the Homeless

A couple of items in the news caught my eye today.

#1. In Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher, thousands of worshippers gathered to light candles and dance in celebration of the Orthodox Easter "holy fire" ritual. (Some also poured hot wax on their faces, but I'm not touching that one with a ten foot candle holder.) Every year, the church patriarch emerges from an underground tomb with the flame which is then shared with all the worshippers. This "holy fire" is next taken on special flights to Athens and beyond to connect the worldwide Orthodox faithful to their spiritual roots. I had never heard of this event, but apparently it dates back 1200 years or more. (Hmm... where have I been?)

#2. Our local newspaper had an article today on the increasing number of attacks on homeless people. You can read the disturbing story in its entirety here. The National Coalition for the Homeless reported 142 attacks last year against homeless people in our country, including 20 homicides. Michael Stoops, director of the coalition said, "Homeless people are the newest minority group in America that is 'OK' to hate and hurt. It's as though, somehow, they're viewed as less deserving, less human than the rest of us." There is a move underway to get these attacks categorized as hate crimes (which is what they are!)

So as both articles were bouncing around in my head, I couldn't help but connect them. The "holy fire" celebration is a powerful symbol, yet life (and faith) also calls for definitive action. My hope is that "holy fires" can be lit within ourselves to help people who are marginalized in our society (i.e. "the least of these").

Interested in learning more and helping? Click here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

finding old friends...

Hubby and I dropped off #2 Offspring for a college visitation today, so we had a little free time while he was checking out the music and history departments. There was a used record store not far from campus, and we wandered in. As I was flipping through the dusty old LP's, I ran into some old, forgotten friends. Talk about blasts from the past! There were lots of albums I hadn't seen (or thought about) in years. Just to name two somewhat obscure ones from '72: Procol Harum Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (nice rock band/orchestra collaboration) and Climax featuring Sonny Geraci (not surprisingly a one hit wonder with "Precious and Few"). Wonder where ol' Sonny is now...

The drawback of vinyl is its "scratchability" (the sound of which drives me bonkers), but I do miss the larger size (12X12!) of the LP jackets. I think we gained some sound but lost some art with the shift from LP's to CD's. Ah, but that trade-off thing is part of life, isn't it?!

Monday, April 2, 2007

quote of the day...

Was organizing "My Pictures" and ran across this one which I took last summer in North Dakota. Ah, Dakota. *Wistful sigh*
I love the expansive sky there -- great place for your soul to breathe.

Willa Cather described it this way: Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky.