Monday, August 31, 2009

A milestone

10,000 Visits here at Learning to Balance. Who'da thunk it?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Love and competition

In 1942 Christian writer C.S. Lewis published The Screwtape Letters. The book is a series of “letters” between Screwtape, a senior demon and his nephew Wormwood, a junior demon about how to ensure the damnation of people. Lewis makes some chilling observations in the book about many subjects including love and marriage. In this passage “the Enemy” is God and “our Father” is the devil.

The Enemy’s demand on humans takes the form of a dilemma; either complete abstinence or unmitigated monogamy. Ever since our Father’s first great victory, we have rendered the former very difficult to them. The latter, for the last few centuries, we have been closing up as a way of escape. We have done this through the poets and the novelists by persuading the humans that a curious, and usually short lived experience which they call ‘being in love’ is the only respectable ground for marriage; that marriage can, and ought to, render this excitement permanent, and that a marriage which does not do so is no longer binding. This is our parody of an idea that came from the Enemy.

The whole philosophy of Hell rests on recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing, and, specially, that one self is not another self. My good is my good and your good is yours. What one gains another loses….’To be’ means to ‘be in competition’.

Lewis seems to have nailed the basis of the struggle in the current culture with marriage 67 years ago.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

"Game", Marriage and Football


It seems that "game" is a hot topic in many of the blogs I read lately. Anakin, Novaseeker, and Amir and others have written posts about "game" and PUAs (pick up artists) recently. This is not a subject that I know much about but I have recently done a little reading on the subject to try and understand it a bit more. It sounds to me like "game" is like many philosophies (does it qualify as a "philosophy"?) in that people will argue "it doesn't have to be like that" about the seedier or more objectionable elements. This "don't throw the baby out with the bath water" sort of approach can be seen in various situations such as when people argue that feminism is simply the "radical notion that women are human beings" and reject or down play the radical parts such as the belief that men are scum. Or, when people vilify Christianity because of the Crusades or because Hitler was supposedly a nominal christian.

In this way, Novaseeker writes that "Game is a way for generations of men who have been feminized to become more masculine again." I think it is very true that most women are attracted to men who are competent/confident and who understand their role as the leader and behave accordingly. If "game" helps men learn how to do that I don't think it is a bad thing. But, a lot of what is called "game" on the Internet seems to not just be about being masculine.

Some of the elements that I have read about are quite distasteful to me. For example, one well known blog on the subject of "game" put forth the idea that women are turned on by being afraid of their husbands. I find the idea repulsive. I have experienced very real fear of a man in a romantic relationship and it certainly did nothing to attract me to him and in reality resulted in only bad. I do think there is such a thing as a healthy "fear" for a leader that is about respect for the leader and concern about not displeasing the leader per se. But, I don't think it is good for that respect and "fear" to be a fear of physical violence.

So, I think when more "conservative" people (including yours truly) look at blogs about "game" that all of the distasteful parts are pretty tough to weed through to recognize whatever value there may be in some of the ideas. If there are ideas of merit for men who want to live a life that is pleasing to God in the philosophy of "game" it seems to me that it needs to be presented in a context that eliminates the godless elements.

Marriage: then and now.

I went to see the movie Julie and Julia today. I quite enjoyed it though perhaps many men would consider it a "chick flick" (there were 2 men in the theater with their wives/girlfriends). It was funny and touching and was about a subject interesting to me (and Meryl Streep was fantastic as Julia Child and had the most wonderful period wardrobe). It is a film about Julia Child, iconic American chef, cookbook author and pioneer cooking show host, and Julie Powell, a young woman who blogged her way through cooking all of the recipes in Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. I have loved Julia Child since I was a child for some reason. Maybe it was because I found her quite funny and she really was a marvelous teacher (I learned to make a fabulous brioche from one of her cookbooks among other things.....very user friendly). And, I read through the archives of Julie Powel's blog back in 2003 . So, I wanted to see this movie when it came out.

In the movie both Julia and Julie are married and their relationships play a large part in their stories. Both relationships are portrayed as good ones in the film and the husbands are portrayed positively for the most part. But, I noticed definite differences in the relationships of the two couples. Julia Child willingly accepts her husband's advice and help while Julie Powell states she does not need her husband's help yet runs to him when a lobster needs killin'. Julia Child is never portrayed as putting her interest in cooking and writing in front of her husband's work. Rather she moves from diplomatic post to diplomatic post across Europe with him and conforms the work on her cookbook to the needs of his career. Julia and her husband Paul Child are portrayed as having a very loving, playful, and sexually fulfilling relationship where Julia is always shown as welcoming of and enthusiastic about her husband's advances. Julie Powell complains that between her full time job and her blogging project that she doesn't have time for her marriage. In effect she puts a blog before her husband to the point that he complains about the lack of sex in their relationship and she is seen rebuffing his advances in order to cook recipes for the blog.

So perhaps it is not surprising that in the movie Julie Powell's husband walks out on her for a day because she is an admitted "bitch" (and apparently Powell has written another book called Cleaving: a Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession to be published later this year about an affair she had after her book about her blogging experience was published). I found the juxtaposition of these two marriages interesting though I doubt that the film makers (the film was produced by Nora Ephron) intended to present the picture they did. I think perhaps Julia Child's marriage would be viewed by many as more confining, however her more traditional model of marriage was "happier" than the "modern" version for both the men and women involved.

Preseason football

I would just like to say that I don't care how many pre-season games the Steelers lose now that they have beaten the Cardinals once again in a Super Bowl rematch. :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pictorial Evidence (Warning- possible "ew" factor)

Amazingly enough, two of my plants have managed to remain alive. Please note, I have not watered or otherwise cared for them in about 6 weeks since they looked like they were done for.

Resilient things, aren't they?

My finger is healing well. I'll spare you any of the more gory pictures* [you're welcome Ame :)], but here is a view from the front after one of my friends debrieded** it where you can see how straight and neat I cut it. I honestly had no idea that rotary cutters were that sharp. It seems a challenge to get it through more than 4 layers of fabric. It looks so much better already, I think it will be barely noticeable. Here's hoping all of the feeling comes back.

* I am not as weird as that sounds. I took the pictures for my students...a good step by step example of wound healing.

** Sorry if the word or image of debriedment gives you the heebie jeebies. I should also point out that the friend who did so is a qualified medical professional....not just a random "buddy" :)

Maybe one of these days I'll write a well thought out post.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Advice for single Christian women

Blogger SingleChristianMan offers the following advice to Christian women:

Well, single sisters, you know the pickle you are in given the disparities in numbers. I suggest you do something about it.

I give permission for all to widely distribute this prayer, written as a poem as a mnemonic device. Do something beyond virally distributing this across the Internet to all your readers: Actually pray.

For Them (The Prayer for Single Christian Men)

Father, for our brother’s sakes, we ask of you
that you would open the eyes of their hearts, to see
Your leadership, wisdom, and love; and a true
picture of their sonship. Help them be always free
of the love of this world, and to have courage. Soothe
the wounds of this world and the church on them.
Come against their sin with your Shepherd’s love,
Your rod of correction. Cut and polish the gems.
Bring Your staff against their enemies. Reconcile
their questions. Give danger and keep them safe,
teach them Your ways of war and peace; defile
the plans of the accuser. Give power from above
as they wait on You, and bring them back from exile.
We accept them as Your sons and as His brothers.

Not for the squeamish

I like to live on the edge. I have dangerous hobbies like quilting. And, tonight, my obsession with the adrenaline rush of quilting has caught up with me.

I have suffered my first quilting injury. Tonight I sliced a part of the tip/side of my left index finger/fingernail off with a rotary cutter.

It was bound to happen sooner or later with a hobby as dangerous as quilting.

It is pretty swollen and throbbing (the orangey stuff is the antibacterial they slathered on), but at least the doc said she was hopeful I would not lose my fingernail and that once it heals it shouldn't be, in her words, "too badly deformed".

190-something comments?

I had no idea that when I asked "what is a good woman?" that the post would end up with 190-some comments, so thank you to everyone who contributed to the conversation.

That said, c'mon people! 190-something comments? We are too close to 200 comments to stop now! Doesn't anyone have anything else to say??? :)