Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pass the Gherkins

     Turned up on Twitter: photo of a newspaper article reporting a Muslim imam's declaration that women should not be allowed to touch any elongated fruits or vegetables, like cucumbers or bananas, because it might set them a-tingle and give them naughty thoughts. Almost sounds like a satire from The Onion, but then these are the guys who have an etiquette for raping slaves: mother or daughter, but not both. That would be so gauche. Some of these charmers even maim women to make sure there's no chance of their enjoying sex. So Imam Produce Chastity could be for real. And seriously delusional. I mean, if the bearers of courgette-like appendages in your neighborhood were pretty much all goat-diddlers and child rapists, would a zucchini turn you on? Rather, the imagination produces a burqa'd brigade of Lorena Bobbits slicing, dicing and julienning. "All I want for Eid is a Vege-Matic." Shoot, far from a way of cooling down the supposed hair-trigger babes, what they need in the suq is more likely a car-load of Omar Sharif masks. I mean, really, el-Dude, do you think what you got is that enticing? Melt some sand, man, and make a mirror. 

     I read a book by an American woman who was kidnapped in Somalia along with a (wimpy twit, my editorial opinion) male companion and held for ransom by a Muslim gang. For two years. Every one of the gang raped her, and one began to visit daily. He actually talked about how some day they'd be married and have many sons. Right, Omar. Any girl would be thrilled. Nevertheless, she and companion plotted to escape by working bars out of a window and running to a mosque. The religious people would help them, right? They ran in and begged for help in the name of Allah. Their captors were close behind. One woman came into the prayer room. The author showed by gestures that the kidnappers were raping her. The woman took her in her arms and tried to hold her there as the captors pulled her away. The male locals just stroked their beards. Such gray areas, kidnap and rape. But one woman understood. 
    In Kenya recently, Muslim dandies stopped a bus and demanded that all Christians disembark to be shot. Muslim women on board quickly shared their head coverings with Christian neighbors to disguise them. They stayed seated and told the killers that if they wanted to shoot the Christians, they would have to shoot everybody. They backed down. 
     Somehow, some Muslim women have retained their human hearts in the depths of Islamic hellholes. May the Gospel reach them. May they come to know the kind Savior Who loves them as His children, made in His image. "Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this," wrote Dorothy L. Sayers in Are Women Human? Women in these hateful cultures know how bad the men are. Now, if only the Light will show it to the men. 
     

Monday, December 7, 2015

Where the Light Comes From

     This is the sign of a good sermon. It makes me write things down-- not notes exactly, but thoughts triggered by the content. Good books do this to me too. In this sermon about the Magnificat, Pastor Bill started out talking about the fluff that surrounds Christmas, like the feel-good songs about chestnuts and sleigh bells and home for Christmas that never mention Jesus. He plays them for his granddaughters, and they dance. Sweet.
     Did you know the Japanese decorate for Christmas as extravagantly as Americans, even though they have one of the smallest percentages of Christian believers in the world? So what do they have? Sparkly stuff, warm feelings, lights, fun. Scraps. Like crumbs under the table. Nice, as far as they go, but still scraps. 
     Mary's soul "glorifies the Lord." His glory is more than light. It's the essence of His being, which is real and dense and inexhaustible. (Cue Handel: "And the glory,the glory of the Lord, shall be revealed.") What surrounds that glory, what emanates from it, is beautiful and pleasant. In God's economy, even the scraps can be beautiful. Ice floes in Alaska have a stunning heart of ethereal blue that transfixes the eye. They are scraps that fall from the glaciers. Seashells riot with color and shape. I can't resist picking them up and taking a few home. They are scraps left over when their inhabitants die. 
     The ice floe melts. The shells I can keep, but what if I'd never seen the sea? And what if I'd seen all the Christmas lights, but never knew the one from Whom all good things emanate? Ultimately the sights and sounds are only disturbances in the air, and if that is all I know, then I have nothing. I can grab at more and more and more, but it has no more substance than the air. There is one who is the prince of its power. He wants us to focus only on the images and never on the real. "Don't look for the source. This is all there is," he insists. 
     No. Follow the light, the music, the joy, the love, the dancing children. Here is the source, the one true Lord, born a baby in Bethlehem and laid in a manger. Very God of very God. The light of the world. Jesus. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Blood and Rhetoric

     With a truly astounding lack of self-awareness, one Jessica Valenti says in support of Planned Parenthood, "Words matter. When we dehumanize people, we make it easier for others to do them harm." Oh, like "fetus," "blob of cells," "product of conception"? Well, no, she seems to mean the way pro-life people point out what actually happens in an abortion and call it murder. They also warn about psychological damage to women who must then live with the memory of having a baby killed, as well as the possibility of physical injury. Is it vicious hate-speech to point out that a suction machine strong enough to rip the arms and legs off a "fetal" body is also strong enough to tear a hole in a woman's uterus, and sometimes does? Is it anti-woman to mention the possibility of infection or infertility? Abortion fans seem to think so. After all, I've never heard a pro-life person say, "Let's go shoot up an abortion clinic."  We don't promote murder because we're, you know, pro-life. 
     Listen, if I'm responsible for an anti-social flake like Robert Lewis Dear shooting people in the vicinity of a Planned Parenthood abortuary (note that he did a lousy job of attacking the abortionists. He started shooting cops outside and was then too pinned down to do much mischief inside the building. If you were going to shoot the place up, wouldn't you keep your weapon concealed under that alleged long coat until you got in the door?), then abortion boosters are sure as hell (and I mean that pretty literally) responsible for Kermit Gosnell. This is a man who had enough on the ball to make it through medical school, but then devoted himself to killing big babies. Oops, "fetal tissue masses." That's the vocabulary he was given, although if he had studied obstetrics in the 1950s, he might have read that the obstetrician has two patients, mother and baby. But when Roe v. Wade came along (and did you know that "Jane Roe" is now prolife? Look up Norma McCorvey. Norma ) the language began to change. Suddenly the baby was a "fetus." Look that up too. It simply means an unborn creature in the womb, particularly a human being. But it sounds kind of medical and sterile, and the feminist champions of womanhood insisted it wasn't really human. It was just potential, no more valuable than a chicken's egg. A product. A blob. Medical waste. "When we dehumanize people, we make it easier for others to do them harm." Sure enough, Jessica Valenti. 
     The procedure itself quickly morphed from a sad but necessary thing into an unfettered right. Abortion on demand, without apology! And those who performed abortions were heroes, champions for women, bravest of the brave. Every abortion was a salute to women-- never mind the reality that abortionists' halls are more likely to see tears, fear and coercion than women proud and free celebrating their "choice." 
     So is it any wonder that Kermit Gosnell might feel free to keep a filthy facility, to cut the necks of living babies with scissors, to keep a jar of their feet as souvenirs? Or that he would be protected by the abortionist "community"? More on Gosnell
     In the decades since Roe v. Wade, about eight abortion workers have been murdered. Eight. And the number of babies killed is pushing 50,000,000. That doesn't include women who bled to death, died of sepsis or were maimed. Pro-life people are pikers when it comes to blood on the hands. Abortion promoters are soaked in it from head to foot and licking it off their lips. Ms. Valenti has held up a mirror, but ought to turn it around. All of you will have to look in it sooner or later. 
     

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Shoe-in

     I happened to be wearing my spiffy red Teva sneakers when the self-checkout at the wholesale club failed in its duty, and I had to summon aid. The young man who righted its wrongs said, "I like your shoes." I glanced at his feet: bright blue low-top canvas lace-ups. "Thanks," I said. "Yours too!" 

     Soon thereafter, my daughter told how one of her high school students told her she was too old-- too old!-- to appear in her pink Converse high-tops. Somehow that boy survived to faux pas another day, but when I heard the story, I resolved that I would have Converse sneakers, and I would have them in blue. It took some searching. My feet are narrow, and the "unisex" sneakers are way too wide for me. Finally, there they were online, a style cut for women, blue as a grade-school Crayola. I ordered one of the last two pairs in captivity. 
     I love them, and it's been fun to see how many other women love them too (along with the red ones and the green ones and the coral ones.) As I loitered in a medical office hallway, waiting for the hubs, three women in office garb hustled past. The leader looked at my blue-clad feet and exclaimed, "Cute!" Doctors and nurses often admire my sneaker wardrobe, and I tell them the student story. They all make the same face over the punk kid. 
     I gave up heels long ago, not because I'm tall, but because the darn things are agony on stilts. When young friends totter in on spikes (heels, not soccer shoes), I cringe. They feel terribly chic, I suppose, but to me, they are sprained ankles looking for a place to happen. Still, I'm not quite ready for Enna Jetticks, sensible shoes in sensible colors. My relatively sensible flats are sparkly gold, or red and orange with silvery spikes on the back (Really. Would I lie to you?) I shall fight this old age thing and its concomitant prejudices with my gold elephant ornaments, my purple laces, my Celtic-knot embroidered cowboy boots, and, yes, my Converse sneakers. You can bury me in them, and I'll sprint happily into Heaven. 
     

Friday, November 13, 2015

Somebody's Got to Do It

     Thump, bump, skitter, it was for sure a squirrel cage match in the attic above the master bedroom. A day or so later, a nasty odor pervaded the bedroom and foyer. Next day, still there. Look on Angie's List for critter wrangler. Find Gregg Granger, Wildlife Ranger. Is that an irresistible name, or what? It must be intoned in your best radio-announcer voice. It took a bit of phone tag to bring him to the house, but there he was on the doorstep in his serious boots and serious beard. He had quoted a tidy sum for a service call, but we thought about what it would take for one of us to crawl through the attic looking for dead things. Short of impending death by plague for the grandchildren, just about nothing would get me up there, so we took a deep breath-- not too deep-- and gave him the OK.
     "Where did you smell it?" he asked. And "Do you smell it now?" We were into about the fourth day since the first whiff, and now... just as when you take the car to the mechanic and the noise stops... we couldn't smell a thing. 
     He climbed into the attic anyway, through that little portal in the garage. He donned and turned on a headlamp, and as his boots disappeared into the darkness, I thought, "Well, his website does say he's a former Army Ranger. He's probably crawled into worse places than this." Eventually he tapped on the front door with "good news, better news and best news." A. There was no corpse in the attic. Not a single body anywhere, and no smell. B. There were no openings through which rodents might invade. And C. He had found an air conduit separated from its vent and reattached it. Looks like we've been air-conditioning the attic all summer. 
     His theory: the noise had been squirrels on the roof, where there's little space between roof and ceiling, and the smell had come from something small, like a lizard or a snake, which dried up fairly quickly. Thank goodness. And thanks, Ranger Granger. I asked what I owed him for crawling the attic. "Nothing," he said, and handed me his card. "Just speak of me kindly, if you speak of me at all." I thanked him fervently, and here I am, speaking of him kindly and enthusiastically. If you are invaded by squirrels, raccoons, opossums, rats or other vermin short of bears and gators, give him a call. 
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Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Awful Truth

     I used to subscribe to Mother Jones magazine, way long time ago. While they are pretty much a leftist propaganda rag today, they used to do the occasional piece of good investigative journalism, such as an expose' of the supposedly victimless sex trade in NYC. They showed it to be tawdry, exploitative and destructive of humanity. Had to give them points for that one. Later, they did a profile of a Christian couple who were performing some ministry that MJ seemed to approve of (I wish I could remember what). But their headline and teaser lead-ins proclaimed that they had uncovered a terrible secret about the couple's beliefs. After the report on their activities, the writer revealed the astonishing secret: these people believed that human beings were born corrupt. Not innocent, not a blank slate, but actually primed and ready to sin! Gasp!
     At the time, I was a neophyte Christian, but even I knew that this was a basic tenet of Biblical faith which had been accepted for centuries. It goes back to Adam eating the fruit that he was supposed to leave alone. The Westminster Confession of Faith has spelled it out since 1646. See chapter VI: Adam's sin made him corrupt to the bone. His now sinful nature was passed along to his offspring. We're all born with it, and from it springs all the nasty things we do to offend God and harm each other. That's "Original Sin." But to that writer it was an astonishing and terrifying revelation. "How could anyone think such a thing?"
     I see the same sort of freak-out happening as leftist reporters make what they think are damning discoveries about Ben Carson. He has a painting that shows him with Jesus! Jesus has his hand on Ben's shoulder! OMG! He's an egomaniac! He's nuts! He thinks he's God! Well, I'm no longer a neophyte. I'm a well-aged Christian with a fair amount of observation of Christian culture under my sash. I have to admit-- if not lament-- that there's a whole lot of Christian kitsch out there. Anyone for a TestaMint? Nevertheless, even though Dr. Carson's painting is not exactly Rembrandt (You know that Rembrandt drew many scenes from the Bible, don't you?), it has a coherent message. I've seen in a medical office a somewhat similar theme, in which a white-coated doctor pores over a medical text. Jesus stands behind him, pointing at a particular passage. Pretty clear. Jesus guides the physician in figuring out the difficult diagnosis and what to do about it. Same idea in the Carson painting: the surgeon is a servant of God, guided by and approved of by Him. (I've read the assertion that this painting was a gift from a grateful parent. Don't know, but seems likely.) 
     It seems to me that people who know nothing of the Bible or of contemporary Christian culture are encountering isolated bits of information and going gaga over their own misinterpretations. My turn to be appalled that so many are so totally unaware of the Bible and the Christian faith. One fellow tweeted a "question that everyone's afraid to ask: Does Jesus have a picture of Ben Carson in (H)is house?" To which I answer, yes, He probably does. He has Ben Carson's name written on His hand, along with mine and millions of others who received the gift of faith in Him. I hope that clever guy can some day come to know that, however crazy it seems, his name is there too. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

It All Works Out

     Upper body workout for the day included an hour and a half in the back yard raking and picking one utterly overgrown and one merely spent and weedy raised bed with the able assistance of one granddaughter. She needed some reminding to place the weeds in the bag and the dirt in the bed. So at the second bed, she picked up handfuls of sand from the yard and dropped them into the bed. I accepted this as the lesser of two messes, but when she pressed a shred of weed-stop material and an aluminum foil "snake" to her lips, I discouraged it. "Yucky," we agreed. Aluminum snakes
     We dragged the bag out front, came back for a stint on the garden swing seat, some kicking of soccer balls and some lifting of said toddler onto the bars of the climbing dome. We pulled a few more weeds out of a small growing box and discovered a fell-fledged peanut in the soil. It was immediately harvested and carried in triumph into the kitchen to be shown to PaPa, washed and placed on the window sill to dry. Then we washed dirt off hands. And face. And hair. And scraped it out of fingernails. 
     We earned a relaxed viewing of Thomas the Tank Engine. Next: lunch. Peanut butter and jelly, I imagine. Bon appetit.