Truer Than True

 

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I love to read statements made by authors (or their characters) that are even more true today than when they were written. The following examples are some that have jumped out at me in the past couple of years. I have ordered them backwards chronologically.

⇒  “I wouldn’t be surprised if a show about nudists was a hit…_ “ – I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg (2010) 

Now we have Dating Naked, Naked and Afraid, and a host of others

⇒  “Look at television, Father had said- Dad is shown as a dummy who stumbles around and breaks things and gets into trouble, usually to be rescued by a small child or a pet. Children watch hours of this junk every week.” – Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor (1985)

A 2001 study by Erica Scharrer in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media found that the number of times a mother told a joke at the father’s expense increased from 1.80 times per episode in the 1950s to 4.29 times per episode in 1990.

⇒  “We aren’t persecuted very much nowadays, we Christians, at least not overtly. But in point of fact there is a good bit of sub-rosa persecution, ridiculing if not reviling. In children’s books, death and sex used to be taboo, Now death and sex are “in”, and Christianity is the new taboo; other religions are appreciated, Buddhism, Hinduism, the pre-Christian Druidism; Christianity is not tolerated. And not only in children’s literature. It has been made taboo by those who do not understand it … of course we intelligent people don’t need God and we certainly aren’t interested in the cross. Only those poor people who aren’t strong enough on their own go in for the false promises of religion. – The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle (1977)

All I can say is this is even more prevalent today than ever before. I see it not only in children’s literature, but on TV programs, in the news, on social media.

⇒  “We have – particularly in the United States, particularly in the suburbs – allowed ourselves to live in a child-centered world; the children have become more important to the parents than the parents are to each other; and suddenly the children grow up and leave the nest and the parents find themselves alone with each other, and discover with horror that there is nobody there.” – A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle (1972)

Wow! It was surprising to me to hear her talk about a child-centered world in 1972. Today’s world is even more child-centered, from play-dates and birthday party productions to travel sports teams.

⇒  “When a city begins to grow and spread outward from the edges, the center which was once its glory is in a sense abandoned to time. Then the buildings grow dark and a kind of decay sets in; poorer people move in as rents fall, and small fringe businesses take the place of once flowering establishments.” – Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck (1961)

I’ve seen this happen in Jacksonville and have seen the results of it in Birmingham. Both of these towns have and are making efforts to bring people back to the city centers.

⇒  “Today, the language of advertising enjoys an enormous circulation. With its deliberate infraction of grammatical rules and its crossbreeding of the parts of speech, it profoundly influences the tongues and pens of children and adults.” – An E.B. White Reader, from the chapter titled “Prefer the Standard to the Offbeat “ by E.B. White (1959).

Here are some examples of intentional infractions in advertising:

“More power. More style. More technology. Less doors.” – Mercedes breaks the grammar rule that says “less” is used with mass nouns and “fewer” with countable nouns: “Door” is a countable noun; ergo, we’re obliged to say “fewer doors.”

“For hair and/or body, or both.” (Old Spice)

“Got milk?”

 

 

Kodak Moments

Most of the details from childhood are hazy and jumbled. Many are gone completely. I try to recall specific Christmas and birthday gifts. Other than the Kodak camera and a red baseball glove, I just come up with vague memories of sweaters, model rockets. And vinyl albums. – Lassoing the Sun by Mark Woods

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It’s because of those Kodak moments that some memories have stayed with me. I’ve been able to look back at old photographs and remember things about the day they were taken. When I read Mark’s book, I dug out the few photos I had of our family vacation out west, then I had my brother email me some he had. I remember the dry heat of Arizona and the puppy-love longing I was experiencing that summer. I also have vague memories of drinking a lot of Sprite from hotel vending machines and my first experience with authentic Mexican food.

I get sad sometimes that so many of my memories are gone completely. I wish I had a time machine to go back and just enjoy some moments. I’d go back to when my grandma was alive and have some real conversations with her. I’d go back to high school and just be myself without all the self-conscious hindrances. I’d play sports and eat better, too. I’d relive that July Fourth of 1985 when everything just seemed perfect.

Alas, there is no time machine for me except the one going too fast into the future. So, I take photos of big and little moments as I hope to preserve a few memories for my grandkids.

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A Kodak moment – 6/11/17

Thoughts on Grace – Humility

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Extravagant Grace is a book written by Barbara Duguid. She uses John Newton’s teaching on sanctification to explain God’s sovereignty over sin. Duguid is the wife of a Presbyterian pastor in Pennsylvania and the mother of six. The quotes in this series come from her book.
“The baby Christian and the maturing believer know that they ought to be humble… the grown-up in Christ, however, IS truly humble. He habitually looks back on the way God has faithfully led him and can see the innumerable times that God has given him good in return for his evil.”
I think I fall somewhere in between the maturing and grown-up Christian. I am still learning a lot of lessons in being humble. Hard lessons sometimes. I found I thought too much of myself, my credentials, my experience. It is all for nothing without Christ.

The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility. Proverbs 15:33

Thoughts on the words of J. Gresham Machen – Miracles

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Oak Mountain State Park – February, 2017

J. Gresham Machen lived from 1881-1937. He was a Presbyterian churchman, a New Testament scholar, a Princeton Theological Seminary professor, founder of the Westminster Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Machen is considered to be the last of the great Princeton theologians. The quotes in this series come from his book, “Christianity and Liberalism”.

 

“God is always the first cause, but there are truly second causes; they are the means which God uses, in the ordinary course of the world, for the accomplishment of His ends. It is the exclusion of such second causes which makes an event a miracle.
There is nothing arbitrary about a miracle…. It is not an uncaused event, but an event that is caused by the very source of all the order that is in the world.”

 
Think of an everyday occurrence – birth. Some say it is a miracle, but it is truly something that happens in the ordinary course of the world. It is amazing, fantastic, unbelievably so perfect – the more you think about the cells that become a person the more awe inspiring it becomes. But, God uses second causes – a man and a woman- to achieve this wonder. But, in the birth of Christ there was a miracle.

 
We eat, and somehow that food turns into energy and turns into a part of us (for some of us, too much a part, but I digress). But, the multiplying of the loaves and the fish – that was a miracle.

 
Miracles are truly from the Source of all of life.

 

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You – Psalm 5:11

Guilt and Going On

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Key West – 2008

…my faith is so frail and flawed that I fall away over and over again from my God. There are times I feel that He has withdrawn from me, and I have often given Him cause…

So I struggle with my theology of failure and the Noes of God.

from The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle

These words resonate with me. But, I have to think that it isn’t that God has withdrawn from me but that I have withdrawn from Him. That’s not to say He doesn’t have reason to withdraw and leave me in the dust. There is no reason to keep pouring into me. But He does. He gives me more grace. And sometimes I don’t even realize it.

Grace comes to us at different stages in our spiritual pilgrimage, and it accomplishes different effects and evokes different responses. But it is all grace. – Steve Harper

I not only struggle with failure but with guilt and doubt. I long to know confidence. That No from God, His holding back of my confidence, must be for my good. I need to use that No to stay humble, but not to doubt. To draw near and to go on.

Word Pictures #2

 

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This is a second installment of Word Pictures – a collection of lovely and descriptive passages.

“Her laughter catches him off guard. As if it’s carbonated and someone has poured it too fast and it’s bubbling over in all directions.” – from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Do you know anyone who laughs like that?

“… at eight o’clock the last of the cool was burning off. The State Farm thermometer out the window over the sink was slowly percolating to the top.” – from Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor

I love the phrase “….slowly percolating to the top.” When I was a kid, I made coffee for my dad using a percolator that went on the stovetop. I loved the smell, but I didn’t drink it until I was way into my thirties – after some of my kids were already coffee drinkers.

“She knew God tore down the old world every evening and built a new one by sun-up.” – from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

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Vilano Beah, FL

 

“… a hardware store was your practical Uncle Walter, wearing bib overalls and carrying a hammer, asking you in a hearty sausage-and-egg voice to point him in the direction of what needed to be done.” – from The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg

In the first few months after we moved to BIrmingham, I noticed several times a man in overalls shopping in Publix. It was a sight I’d never seen in Jacksonville, and it brought to mind the short time we spent in south Georgia. There it was very common to see men in overalls. Sadly, I connect this memory of the overalled man to the racism that was alive and well. It was the late 80s, but it often felt like the 1960s. But, that’s a story for another day.

“…with cornsilk hair and delphinium eyes…” from Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck.

This is a perfect description of my daughter when she was a little girl. But, now I’d have to say “…with Merlot curls…”

“You pierce my soul” – Captain Wentworth to Anne in Persuasion by Jane Austen.

Ray Bradbury Was Spot-On

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“More sports for everyone, group spirit, fun, and you don’t have to think, eh? Organize and organize and superorganize super-super sports. .. With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. “ – Beatty in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

What insight Bradbury had here! I am still amazed at his spot-on look into the future. Now, I love a good baseball game, as long as I don’t think about it too deeply. I like to hike and swim, and I used to like to ride a bike and skate. But, I am so not a huge fan of pro sports, or even college sports around here ( sorry Alabama). I think it’s because I see what Bradbury saw – that sports has been given a much higher priority than education in many arenas. And if a kid can run or throw or win, he is often allowed special privileges and not held to the same standard as those who would rather read than race.

Oh, yes, the pursuit of happiness in full swing.

“Ask yourself, What do we want in this country, above all? People want to be happy, isn’t that right? Haven’t you heard it all your life? I want people want to be happy, people say. Well, aren’t they? Don’t we keep them moving, don’t we give them fun? That’s all we live for, isn’t it? For pleasure, for titillation? And you must admit our culture provides plenty of these.” – Beatty

Oh, Ray, do you know we even have a restaurant now called TGIF? If you listen to the radio (another entity that’s becoming extinct) it’s all about the weekend. What are you doing this weekend? How was your weekend? I have fallen into that trap, too.

But, really…….

That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecc. 1:19

Click HERE for a review of Fahrenheit 451 by Linda’s Book Bag