Saturday, May 30, 2009

An invitation to women

Over at Biblical Manhood, Anakin has a post about women finding his blog and or MGTOW/MRA misogynistic. Perhaps Suzanne and Janet would be willing to answer the following question here: What on Biblical Manhood did you find misogynistic?

Come ladies, let's reason together.

(Suzanne I am sorry for the recent loss of your father. Please feel free to ignore me at this time if this discussion may cause you further distress)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Insert snappy title here

Still struggling with brain freeze, though I was able to finish writing a proposal (whew!) that was hanging over my head. So, again, here are some random thoughts for your consideration.

Extremism: I while back I wrote a post where I talked about the benefits of considering opinions more extreme than my own. It takes a bit of mental work, but often there is some truth at the base of many extreme opinions. I just have to be careful that I don't get carried away with it. Yesterday in the comments to a post over at Novaseeker's I made the mistake of reading the comment of someone who I had previously decided to avoid reading the comments of. However, I saw that he referred to my friend Ame, so I read it. You know, this may be the first time ever that I saw some good from porn. Perhaps it is better for women if some men prefer porn to them. Of course the reason it would be better has to do with the effects of porn to begin with, so that is rather a circular argument (and yes, entirely facetious).

Purity: Via email, a friend recently commented on some of the discussion over virginity and particularly the, um, physical aspects of it. She shared this bit of wisdom, gleaned in part from The Facts of Life: Purity resides in the heart, not in the vagina. True that.

Along similar lines, but far funnier, was a conversation I recently had with a group of single christian women ranging in age from early 20s to early 50s. We were talking about singleness and sexual temptation when one of the women, a widow in her early 50s who I'll refer to as "J", began to relate a story about a date she was on several months ago. J said that she found the man very sweet and that she really liked him and was struggling with being sexually tempted when he had his arm around her waist. She then shared that she was simultaneously embarrassed that he may be able to feel her Spanx. This lead to her conclusion that Spanx = modern day chastity belt :) (I know the ladies will think that is funny...we laughed over that one for quite a while)

Being "Normal": Or normalcy or normality? I don't know if those are even words. Anyhoo, I am participating in a women's Bible study on the book of Esther and the teacher via video (Beth Moore) did a survey of women, both believers and unbelievers while preparing for the study. One woman, married for a few years but without children, who responded to the survey said that she feared losing her uniqueness. She does not want to be considered normal or ordinary. She does not want who she is to be defined by being some one's "wife" or some one's "mother", she just wants to be "happy". The teacher made a very interesting connection between this woman's thoughts about not wanting to be "ordinary" and the current obsession with the famous and with fame, especially among women. She talked about a term from social psychology, to BIRK, or "birking", which stands for "basking in reflected glory", and how it has become so common for people to idolize the rich and famous to feel worth rather than to ground our worth in God.

In closing: If you are so inclined, please pray for my sister who had a biopsy yesterday and will likely be having a laser surgery in the next month or so due to what they are currently calling "pre-cancerous/suspicious" cells in an area the size of a quarter in her cervix (and for those of you for whom the thought may enter your mind, no, she does not have HPV and was a virgin when she married at 40 years of age).

And...

LET'S GO PENS!!!!!!!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sex, marriage, humanity and hat tricks

Since I appear to currently be unable to produce an entire post on one subject that makes sense, and in imitation of Elusive Wapiti and Terri at Breathing Grace, I present to you, a potpourri of topics.


Sex and Marriage


In the comments to my post Um....yeah (brilliant title, isn't it?) Elusive Wapiti and I had a brief exchange about the role of sex in the marrying of a man and a woman. Briefly, I said that in the old testament sex = marriage, so to God, sex = marriage, and EW said nuh uh (okay, there was more to it than that...go read the comments and the post EW linked to). I'm still not sure what I think about this because of questions that I have about some scriptures. In a comment I made that was buried in the other comments, I said the following:


"I remember reading that post about Bristol and Levi last year. To be honest I am not certain what I think about this issue and perhaps it is a matter of semantics. Does "marriage" occur during the sexual act? I'm not sure, but it kinda sounds like it if you read about Isaac and Rebekah. Even so, if it is not the joining of the two into one flesh that "marries" the man and woman, in both Deut 22 and Lev 22 God commands that if a man has sex with an un-betrothed virgin that he MUST marry her. If he does not marry her and goes on to have sex with another he is having sex with someone other than the woman God commanded that he must marry. It may not be adultery by strict definition but I don't understand how the functional impact is any different.So, I guess what I would say in response is to ask what you would say about the following:- What about Isaac and Rebekah? It appears that their marriage did occur when he "took" her. -What about Deut 22 and Lev 22 that says if a man sleeps with a virgin he must marry her?"


So, what do y'all think?


Humanity

I get annoyed with many "politically correct" ideas. For example, what was the point of changing the tag line "To boldly go where no man has gone before" to "To boldly go where no one has gone before" in the new Star Trek movie (which was a great flick)? However I do insist that my students use what is called "person first language" when referring to our patients/clients. This means we do not call someone a "stroke" or a "nerve injury", we call them a person who has had a stroke, or a person who has had a nerve injury. I insist on this because it is important to see someone as a person, not a diagnosis, and because calling someone a "head injury" is dehumanizing. Other examples of dehumanization include when the Nazis transported the Jews in cattle cars and called them "dogs", and those who are pro-abortion insisting that a baby be called a "fetus" before birth. It's tough to kill people when you think of them as human beings.

Lesser ill will than murder is associated with dehumanization as well. Some feminists call men "animals" to make them easier to distrust and despise. Recently a commenter at MarkyMark's referred to women as "sweaty bags of cellulite". Well.... I'm not quite sure what to say about that other than ask the following. Do you really need to dehumanize women to make the decision for yourself that you don't want to marry or associate with women? If the answer to that question is no, why do it? If it is yes, maybe you should ask yourself why.


Hat tricks


Woo Hoo!!! Geno Malkin had a hat trick last night as the Penguins beat the Hurricanes 7-4 in game 2 of the NHL eastern conference finals. First playoff hat trick for the Pens since who knows when. Stanley Cup predictions anyone? I say it will be the Pens and Red Wings again, but this time my Pens will win (Why, yes, I was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area. Yes, I am a homer. Whatever made you ask those questions? ;) ).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Um....yeah

Writer's block...sigh.


Writer's block = bad thing, especially when it comes to a dissertation. It is getting so bad that I am having increasing difficulty expressing myself in other areas as well, including on this blog. I have started to write three different posts over the course of the past week or so, and....nothing. Maybe I need to do some quilting or something.


So, brace yourselves, and please be prepared for babbling, incoherency, and errors in spelling and grammar.


-This weekend, I think I sat through the absolute worst commencement address that I have ever had the misfortune of witnessing. It was so bad that it became funny. I was very thankful I was in the back row of faculty on the platform because I had to cover my face several times to muffle laughter. The progression from polite attention to boredom to incredulity to suppressed laughter on the faces of the audience was, however, quite entertaining.

-Carolyn McCully put into words part of what I have been thinking on for a while, with regard to physical beauty, but have been unable to coherently address, in a post last week. (yes, I think I do have too many commas in that sentence)

"What about complimenting her when she is doing beautiful things? We always hear that inner beauty is supposed to be more important than outer beauty, but it doesn't seem to get praised as often--which tempts women to doubt the veracity of that statement."Why do we women doubt the appeal of inner beauty? Well, to be candid, it's because we forget that our Creator is the ultimate arbiter of beauty. We are awash in makeover messages and as such His perspective is often silenced. From TV shows to magazines, we are drowning in Before and After images. At any given time during a day, there's a roomful of people on TV gushing and crying over the physical transformation of some reality show participant. Everybody and his neighbor shows up to applaud weight loss, a new hairstyle, or a wardrobe overhaul. But where is the applause for inner beauty? Where are the TV cameras for the Big Reveal of a renovated character"

In a culture where women are judged and valued on the basis of their attractiveness is it any wonder that inner beauty has taken a back seat? Has our culture simply received what we have asked for? Is there any cultural reinforcement of "inner beauty"?

-In a related line of thinking, lets talk about virginity.

Valued by some, but not by others? While God's call for sexual abstinence outside of marriage has not changed, the secular culture appears to have lost all regard for virginity outside of the young. Otherwise it is regarded as a quaint conviction or possibly born of immaturity or some sort of pathology. Even within the church, sexual abstinence is regarded by some as culturally irrelevant or improbable.

Valued in some, but not in others? While some young women have taken to auctioning their virginity to the highest bidder, I doubt that a 30+ year old virginal woman or a man of any age would get many bids. Clearly the value placed in "virginity" for auction is not about virginity per se. Even in less crass circumstances, I wonder how much of the value of virginity that does exist is about the value of obedience to God?

Over-valued by some? How many sins are there that change how you are defined as a person after one incidence? We are all sinners, are we not? We've all joined Jimmy Carter in lusting in our hearts, have we not? Do we rule out others as mates who have lied once in their life? When it is said that you should only marry a virgin, is that because they have been obedient to God, or for some other reason?

Okay, that is enough rambling for now. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Blogging friends

One of the things that this blog has brought to me, that I did not expect, is new friends. I have found myself rejoicing with others in good things and grieving with them in the bad. In small ways I feel like I know you when I visit your blogs and when you come here and comment too.

I have been blessed to get to know some of you better than that as well through email as well as through telephone calls. Today, I was especially excited to meet one of my readers in person :) She is the reserved sort, so she doesn't comment much. I shall refer to her as The Librarian (Hi!) We met halfway between her home and mine for lunch and a visit.

We spent around three and a half hours visiting and talking about her upcoming move and marriage (first marriage at age 47...there's hope yet!), agreeing that it is a fact that bald men are hot, discovering a mutual interest in science fiction, and puzzling at the "definitions" of the alpha, beta, and gamma "types" (The Librarian hypothesized that perhaps Bill Clinton is an Alpha, Rahm Emanuel a Beta, and Timothy Geithner a Gamma....I was lost.) She is sweet and lovely and funny as heck!

I also discovered another reason to not make the title of my posts "Boobs". This morning, The Librarian attempted to access the email I sent her that contained my cell phone number. But, she was restricted from doing so because the library had a filter that would not allow her to view the email because the subject line was "Boobs" because it was a long string of emails that started with The Librarian's thoughts on my "Boobs" post. Heh

Because I am a much better verbal than written communicator (or I should say normally...The Librarian witnessed the PhD dementia in person) I sometimes wish that we all could have a conversation with each other instead of communicating through written comments. So this was a really great experience for me, and I hope for my new friend The Librarian, too :) Now, if I can only get to Dallas! ;)

Have you ever met a blogging friend in person? How was it?

(Okay, I have had to edit this post at least 5 times already because Blogger is making me nuts! And because I keep remembering other things I want to say)

Sideling Hill

I went to meet with a friend today, and on the way I passed Sideling Hill in Maryland. You can see some pretty cool strata in the rock where they cut through Sidling Hill for the highway. There is a pedestrian bridge over the highway that I wanted to go across to get some better pictures. But, the wind was blowing so hard it felt like the loose fitting top I was wearing would get blown away if I even raised my arms over my head. So.....these pictures will have to do.







The view the other way was pretty nice too.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Considering a Ph.D.?

Are you considering working toward a Ph.D.?


DO NOT DO IT!!!

Okay, maybe that is over stating it a bit.... But not by much. If you are thinking about it, I suggest you consider the following.

I started my Ph.D. studies a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed student, eager to learn and be challenged intellectually. I was a combination of ignorance of the true workings of the Ph.D. machine and overly optimistic naivete about what I did know of the horror...
"I can do it!" "I can do anything for a few years!" "It can't be that bad! Right?"

WRONG

It can be that bad and worse. It's going to suck, it's going to suck bad, and it's going to suck bad for a really, really long time.
-Your family and friends may forget what you look like and vice versa.
-You will gradually loose the ability to form coherent sentences both in writing and in spoken word (exhibit 1, this blog).
-Ah, um, yeah....what was I saying? (exhibit 2)
-You will also loose the ability to understand normal people when they speak. Instead, you will ask innocent and unsuspecting people what evidence do they have to back up their opinion that China Garden has the best Chinese food in town.
-Over time you will feel stupider and dumber, not smarter. Ever meet a Ph.D. who made you think, "Dang, they are dumb, how did the get a doctorate?" They were probably smart when they started and the process sucked brain cells and IQ points out of their head through either their nose or ears.
-You will note an increase in emotional lability to the point that you may think strange things are funny and you may cry in inappropriate places and at inopportune times.
-You may harbor strange fantasies about printing the picture of one or more of your comprehensive examiners or dissertation committee members from the university web site, and attaching it to a pinata (perhaps shaped like a chicken with yellow and red feathers...with the picture of their face right on the face of the chicken) and then going to town with a baseball bat. (Yes, that is a rather well developed plan. To answer your next question, no, not yet. But, I have a feeling it will be soon.)
Why? Why is it so bad you ask?
-Being intelligent will only get you so far. You have to know how to play the game. Deference, paying of respect, and yes, good old fashioned butt kissing. But, really, to a certain degree you have to have pity on the objects of your kissing up. Obviously they have been permanently damaged by their Ph.D. experience. This damage leads them to say things like, "Well, when I was doing my doctorate..." until you want to launch yourself over their desk and firmly grasp their throat between your hands. (At this point family and close friends will become concerned that you seem to be having a lot of rather violent thoughts.)
-Hard work will only get you so far. You can work as hard and as fast as you can and you will still be at the whim of others. I have waited as long as 13 weeks to get feedback from a committee member. I have been told to change "this" to "that" only to be later asked by the same person, 'Why are you using "that"? You should be using "this"!'
-The higher the degree level, the less organized and sensible the whole process is. Nobody knows what is going on, even the chair of the program. The "rules" can be changed on a whim. The format of my comprehensive qualifying exams (taken after all courses are finished but before dissertation) completely and significantly changed 6 weeks before the exams were to begin...I still get a tight feeling in my chest when I think about it.
-In short you must possess a very high degree of ability to put up with bulls**t.
-You will have almost no balance in your life. Most programs require a residency which consists of taking a full time graduate load (9 credits, usually 3 courses) for two semesters in a row. This is to demonstrate your "commitment to the program" (oh, it will make you feel like you need "committed" all right.)
I still haven't changed your mind?
That probably means that you are invested enough in the doctorate that when someone asks you why you want to pursue one that you can come up with an answer better than "It would be cool to be called doctor". If that is all you want I'd be happy to call you doctor for only, say 10% of the cost of tuition, and none of the mental anguish.
Some other, perhaps more serious, things to think about (though I do really kinda mean everything I have said so far):
-If you can be a full time student, with either a very low stress part-time job, or a graduate assistantship it seems to be a bit less stressful than working full time while pursuing the doctorate (though there is additional financial stress).
-If you are married I would think about it carefully. The divorce rate when one partner is in a Ph.D. program is around 80%. It seems the couples who I know who navigated the Ph.D. waters most successfully were both committed to the idea.
-If you have children I would think about it very hard. It is a major time, financial, and personal energy commitment.
-If you are a woman and have/want to have children I would suggest not doing it until your kids are older (older teens) or until after it becomes unlikely you will have a baby.
-In my observation it seems to work better when both mom and dad are not working full time while one of them is in school. I have seen that work in various configurations (dad works and goes to school, mom is a SAHM, or dad goes to school and works part-time and mom works part-time and they juggle the schedule, or mom goes to school and works full time, dad works part time and is available for the kids. etc).
-Before you start, think seriously about if you are willing to commit to finishing. Most people who start a Ph.D. never earn their degree. Most quit (I have fantasized about that too). It is an awful lot of work and time and money to waste to not finish. Count the cost before you start and save yourself a whole lot of anguish.
I think once someone finishes a Ph.D. they seem to forget about how awful it was in the process.
Either that or they lie about it in order to suck other unsuspecting victims into the machine. I guess I'll see when I am finished if I would say that it was worth it or not.
And, yes, I know this was pretty rant-ish. I do feel better now.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Do you ever wonder?

Do you ever wonder what Jesus thinks of His church here in the US? Todd Agnew's song, My Jesus, offers some food for thought.


Which Jesus do you follow?
Which Jesus do you serve?
If Ephesians says to imitate Christ
Then why do you look so much like the world?

Cause my Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the arrogant
So which one do you want to be?

Blessed are the poor in spirit
Or do we pray to be blessed with the wealth of this land
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness
Or do we ache for another taste of this world of shifting sand

Cause my Jesus bled and died for my sins
He spent His time with thieves and sluts and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the rich
So which one do you want to be?

Who is this that you follow
This picture of the American dream
If Jesus was here would you walk right by on the other side or fall down and worship at His holy feet

Pretty blue eyes and curly brown hair and a clear complexion
Is how you see Him as He dies for Your sins
But the Word says He was battered and scarred
Or did you miss that part
Sometimes I doubt we'd recognize Him

Cause my Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and the least of these
He loved the poor and accosted the comfortable
So which one do you want to be?

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet might stain the carpet
But He reaches for the hurting and despises the proud
I think He'd prefer Beale St. to the stained glass crowd
And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud

I want to be like my Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!

Not a posterchild for American prosperity, but like my Jesus
You see I'm tired of living for success and popularity
I want to be like my Jesus but I'm not sure what that means to be like You Jesus
Cause You said to live like You, love like You but then You died for me
Can I be like You Jesus?
I want to be like you Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!

By request

It was recently suggested to me that I post more pictures of flowers. That has been difficult due to the buckets full of rain falling.



But here are a few, including honeysucle....one of my favorite scents. These grow all along the roads here so that you can smell them as you are driving.



Dogwood



Lilacs



Tulip



Lilly of the Valley