March 2014 Archives

This is the second in a series of recollections of favorite dancing memories. You can read more about why I'm writing about this here (along with an account of our very first public dance).

In 2011, we were vacationing in San Diego and found ourselves swing dancing on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Midway, during a fundraiser for the YMCA. The event had a WWII-era theme and many of the attendees were dressed in fashions of the Forties. (I have underwear that's approximately that old, but that was the extent to which we participated in that aspect of the soirée.)

It's hard to overhype the allure of dancing to a live big band atop one of the most storied battleships in history, surrounded by equally historic warbirds and looking out over San Diego Harbor at night. We were a bit bemused by how few people actually danced, but weren't complaining  since the temporary dance floor laid on the deck was on the smallish side. We still occasionally had to slip off that floor and onto the deck itself, and dancing around those huge steel rivets just added to the special ambiance of the night.

Attendees at this event also got a private guided tour of the carrier-turned-museum, and that was icing on the cake.

This was one of our first experiences with out-of-town "dancing in the wild," as we like to call it, and it's a very liberating feeling to know that while you won't necessarily dance as though no one is watching, you can certainly dance as though no one you know or will likely ever see again is watching.

As a non-dance-related aside, we also got a reminder of the difference between the economy of West Texas and, well, the rest of the [non-Texas] nation. Despite having a population of approximately ten times that of Midland, the fundraiser brought in only a fraction of what we typically see around here. We've been blessed, and we seem to have a generous population who realizes it.

Random Thursday: The Sunday Graphic Edition
March 16, 2014 2:18 PM | Posted in:

I just received an official notice from the OBO (Official Bloggers Office) that unless I post something immediately, I'm in danger of losing my official blogger credentials, along with all privileges and appurtenances accruing thereto. After looking up "appurtenances," I decided I couldn't risk it, so...this.

Currently in Midland, Texas, winds are out of the north and windspeed is approximately Mach 8. In other words, it's a typical calm spring day in West Texas. Here's the view from our window:

Nothing to see here; move along
Artist rendering; not to scale

Speaking of gritty experiences, I just filed our 2013 federal income taxes. I would very much like to express gratitude for making enough money last year to have to pay (and to be able to afford to pay) income taxes, but all that comes to mind is #TooSoon. Fortunately, we have a government that has proven time and again to be excellent stewards of the funds willingly allotted to it by its citizenry and...and...well, I almost was able to type that with a straight face.

Anyway, once again this year I used the online version of TurboTax and if I was female, unmarried, forty years younger, and a science fiction character, I'd have TurboTax's children. I heart TurboTax. But their service is obviously designed for people of all, um, levels of sentience. I realized this when I agreed to take a survey after filing my taxes, and came across the following two questions.

Not sure about whether you're conscious?

If you're confused about the second question, that might be a logical explanation for being confused about the first one.

Speaking of the government and confusion, have any of you local folks noticed that our current president hasn't visited us, not even once? I'm at a loss to explain this, as West Texans have always been know for their hospitality, and ability to look past petty political differences to find the inevitable if tiny bits of common ground. Of course, some people are better at this than others.

Constitutionally protected speech
At least it's not a Ford

Frankly, I find it a tad distasteful; Bill Watterson's artwork deserves more respect than that.

One of my major accomplishments this weekend was changing the batteries in a clock, a timepiece we've had for several years, but one which I've obviously never paid much attention to. Notice anything a little strange about it?

The 14th month is my very favorite
The calendar function on this clock is perfect...if you live on one of Jupiter's moons

In closing, just when you start to think the world is a rational place after all, you spot something like this on Twitter:

Define 'intelligent'
"Reality check on aisle 13, please"

Given the enormity of the implications of the preceding, all I can say is...oh, look...a baby squirrel!

A blatantly ripped-off photo of a cute squirrel

God's blessings are not a zero sum game
March 2, 2014 5:00 PM | Posted in:

bless·ing [bles-ing] noun
1. the act or words of a person who blesses.
2. a special favor, mercy, or benefit: the blessings of liberty.
3. a favor or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness.
A friend recently shared this article on Facebook. The author is decrying what he feels is an inappropriate and non-Scriptural use by Christians of the word "blessing" in reference to good things of a material nature that we sometimes enjoy. He says we should stop using that word with respect to financial and material somethings and instead just say we're "grateful." He admits that he's dealing in semantics, but feels that in this case, the semantics are meaningful and shouldn't be ignored.

I disagree with his premise.

You can be grateful, but it's just a nebulous emotion unless you're grateful to someone. (Aside: This is why I'm always confused by atheists who observe Thanksgiving.) And why be grateful unless that someone has given you something special? And, gee, that sounds to me an awful lot like a blessing.

God's blessings come in many forms, and who are we to limit them to an arbitrary standard, however well-meaning?

Material blessings are Scriptural. Many references to them are found in the Old Testament (take a look at Deuteronomy 28:1-14...but be careful; in this rather significant passage, God actually ties His blessings to faithfulness!) and the God of the New Testament is the God of the Old Testament. His character doesn't change.

So, if a person living on a subsistence income is unexpectedly given a significant donation, would that person be justified in claiming a blessing from God? If your answer is "yes," then what is the threshold where such a gift is no longer considered a blessing, but is instead something for which that person is to simply feel gratitude?

I don't know why some are blessed with wealth and many more aren't. I don't understand why some saints have lives full of physical pain and challenge, and others appear to live lives free of stress and full of ease. I'm pretty sure both situations are not as black-and-white as we think; the former doesn't guarantee misery or the latter, joy. We'd do well to remember that God's economy is different than ours, given that He has a view of infinity and ours is rather less.

What I do believe is that God's blessings aren't a zero sum game. The wealthy aren't blessed by God at the expense of the poor. I find nothing in the Bible to support that view.

Now, I want to be very clear about something. I abhor the "name it and claim it" approach to theology. The so-called "prosperity gospel" is a distortion of Biblical principles and its proponents have been responsible for great harm to the body of Christ. But the acceptance, recognition, and even celebration of material blessings does not automatically put one in that camp.

These are questions worth discussing but at the end of the day, the real question - and the one area where I do agree with the author of the article - is not what have we been given but what did we do with it?

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2014 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2014 is the previous archive.

April 2014 is the next archive.

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