Friday, February 09, 2007

Being Fed

A year ago, little Frederick was here visiting us for a few days. He was about 14 months old at the time. He graciously brought along his mommy and his daddy and most of his siblings. Fredo was still nursing a bit now and then. When he sat at the table to eat with the big people, he needed help with his spoon. He could feed himself, but not enough to really fill his belly to a comfortable level.

Also a year ago this week, my friend Nathan proposed to my daughter Katie who (wisely) accepted. As we discussed wedding plans, the subject came up of the wedding cake, and that the bride and groom feed each other bites of the cake.

These two experiences were fresh in my mind when I was at Mass the following Wednesday evening. That night, I was captivated by the picture of what was going on at the altar rail. It's not like anything happened that hadn't happened before. It's not like anything new was going on. But I just noticed it in a new way. The pastor was feeding people. The pastor put the host into the mouth of the communicants. The pastor put the chalice to their lips and ever-so-carefully tipped it. He fed us.

It really must look pretty goofy to outsiders. A bunch of people, kneeling together, mouths open for someone else to feed them. They're not feeding themselves. They weren't taking the host into their own hands and feeding themselves (although that happens in some congregations). They weren't taking the cup into their own hands and drinking it themselves (although that too happens in some congregations). We were all there, waiting, being fed. I imagined helpless little baby robins in their nest, mouths open, waiting for mom and dad to return and place the nourishment into their little beaks, since they can't do it for themselves.

Y'know, people are rarely fed by someone else. We feed ourselves. That's the way it is! Who gets fed? Babies are fed; they cannot feed themselves. Those who are too sick or disabled (whether by age or disease or accident) are fed by a care-taker instead of feeding themselves. Normally, there's only one other situation where we don't feed ourselves. Lovers will sometimes feed each other. But that kind of behavior is generally recognized as intimate enough that it's not usually flaunted in front of other people (except at the wedding reception). Feeding your sweetie might happen at a private picnic. If it's done in public, though, there's no surprise if other people nearby are rolling their eyes, thinking that the star-struck lovey-dovey stuff will wear off sooner or later.

I suppose there have been some rare occasions where I was out to dinner, and maybe a girlfriend wanted to try a bite of what I'd gotten, and I wanted to try a bite of her dinner or dessert. Even then, though, you usually pass the fork to the other person. If it's soup, you might hold the spoon for the other person. But things like that are not the norm. We're tough; we're too busy and too capable to condescend to be fed by someone else. When we feed another person or are fed by another person, it's almost always because of one person being utterly dependent on the other, or because of the depth of intimacy in the love-relationship.

Maybe at the altar rail, I'm the decrepit one, too helpless to feed myself. Maybe at the altar rail, I'm the dearly beloved of my Jesus, and am fed by Him because of His great love for me. It doesn't really matter which it is -- or that it might be both. Looking at the pastor that night, with the paten of hosts and with the chalice, feeding all those people, just doing the same ol' thing he does every Sunday and every Wednesday, well, it sure makes a person realize who's the Giver and who's the receiver.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Hoover Savvy

This week I picked up my vacuum cleaner from the repair shop again. This is the sixth time it's been repaired under warranty since I bought it 10 months ago. When I first bought it, I read the owners manual. It said that replacing belts was unnecessary: the belts are long-lasting (2-3 years) and must be replaced only by authorized repairmen. They're not cheap either (if you're paying for them). Well, this is the second new belt in ten months. Two belts in ten months? Or a new belt once every few years? Hmmm, I think there's a clash on how to reckon time here. You think it's my fault because I was taught the New Math back in my elementary school days?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sun Dogs

I had one of those "homeschool mommy" attacks on Sunday morning, where you get all aflutter over a teachable moment and just gotta find somebody to bubble at! I was out jogging (yes, I know it was cold!) and saw the most awesome sun dogs. I have tried to show them to my youngest on previous occasions, but I've never been convinced that she's actually seen them. Between her poor vision and her lack of understanding, it seems that she's always just "agreed" that "yeah, Mom, that's pretty neat." But Sunday morning, those sundogs were so huge, and there were no clouds smudging up the sky -- there was no way to miss those sun dogs! The dogs were massive and spreading their rainbows out. The right one had rays pouring off it to span an arc of about 50-60 degrees, and the left one covered about 30 degrees of an arc around the sun.

These are rare enough that I went in and interrupted Sunday school to show the kids. I feel a little guilty over that: sun dogs shouldn't be trumping the study of God's word. But gosh, how often do kids (especially kids who live in town and thus have an obstructed view of the sky) get to see uncommon sights in the heavens?

The parhelions were so glorious the other day that I couldn't help but remember the Shakespearean lines in Henry VI, recounting the story of the Battle of Mortimer's Cross which occurred in 1461 at Herefordshire, during the War of the Roses. It's easy to see why the Yorkists might consider such a sight to be a "sign from God."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

It's So Cold That ...

that the cat has been using the litter box instead of going outdoors.

And worse yet, so cold that the cat is actually playing with a ball of twine. Her lack of hunting possibilities is driving her nuts -- so insane that this aloof creature is actually willing to interact with us instead of with the mousies and gophers, actually willing to treat a piece of string as prey.

That's cold! The kids said that they'd never seen a real cat play with a real ball of yarn: that's just something you see in pictures or read about in books. And here she is -- desperate enough to chase something --ANYTHING-- that she'll be a stereotypical cat.


Well, this will teach me to get up early and get going on the week's errands! I figured I'd leave bright and early, let the kids get up on their own, prepare and eat their breakfasts, do their chores, and get started on the schoolwork they can do without me. Then we'd have the whole afternoon for schoolwork that we have to do together. THREE of my stops on the errand-list were closed when I arrived, so that I had to go back later. So much for bright and early! LOL!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Real ID

The NY Times ran an article yesterday on the uniform national ID card. The thing I find most astonishing about this issue is the fight between the states and the feds. Both conservatives and liberals are backing states-rights. Both conservatives and liberals are, conversely, backing the federal push to standardize drivers licenses.

A Missouri Republican is working with two dozen other states to oppose the federal law. He said, "This is a frontal assault on our freedoms. One state standing alone is not enough. But we are already gaining strong momentum here." A Wisconsin Republican and top officials at the Department of Homeland Security said they were disturbed by the growing signs of a revolt. The Wisconsin Congressman said, "Certainly, it is a threat."

The government is fighting the government.

As we've been studying civics and political science recently, one of the main messages of the Uncle Eric books has been to watch the quest for power. It's not ultimately about what's "conservative" or "liberal," about what's Republican or Democrat, about what will be done with the political power once a person or group has gained it, but simply about the quest to obtain power and the desire to use it. This can be readily seen as both the liberals and the conservatives are in-fighting over this Real ID Act.

Still Cold

My husband is doing his work in the living room today. He has been complaining about the cold over at church. Okay, I can understand that. I don't like sitting in the cold constantly.

Today we are finally sending out our annual "Christmas" letter. (Oh, aren't we timely!!) I went over to church to use the copier, and it seemed mighty cold. I went to check the thermometer. The thermostat is set to keep the building in the low 50s midweek. The nave and the fellowship hall are about 51-54. But the pastor's study is 28 degrees. You know what? That's not exactly warm! No wonder Gary is sitting in the living room with his theology books and his laptop!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Nursing Mother Threatened with Lawsuit

My friend Polly linked to a humorous and informative blog on nursing. (No, Heidi, not your kind of nursing. The "feeding babies" kind of nursing.) It's called the Lactivist. The eye-popping subject of the week was that the pork producers have gone after this mommy and her little blog. She used the phrase "The Other White Milk" on a t-shirt, and the trademark lawyers went ballistic. Good grief!

The Lactivist looks like a good site, even before the recent uproar. There are some cute slogans at her store. I think my favorite is "Breasts: Not Just For Selling Cars Anymore."

An Analogy

What happens when the government needs to collect more taxes? There are two economic opinions on how to achieve this.

The obvious answer is to raise taxes. After all, if you need to collect more taxes, then raise everybody's rates so that everybody will pay a little more. Then the government will reap a little more.

The bizarre answer is to lower taxes. Some people scoff at this. Obviously, they say, lowering taxes will put fewer coins into the government money-bags. Weird thing is, though, lowering taxes is the plan that actually works. Lower taxes and less government regulation stimulates the economy. As the economy grows healthier, businesses and individuals earn more. Even though people are paying a smaller percentage in taxes, they end up paying more in actual dollars. So the government has more to spend, while the tax payers also have more disposable income.

Conservatives have seen this happen in our own country, as well as in other countries, as well as throughout history. Some people believe in making a bee-line for more taxes. Other people believe that doing what's beneficial to the economy will circuitously result in more tax revenue for the government. Those who insist that they cannot let go of their "give us more money" mantra are the ones who actually diminish the money coming in to government coffers.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Some people believe that the way to get Christians to do more good works is to tell them directly to do more good works, which works they should do, and how they should do them. This seems like an obvious way to get people to do more good works.

Other people think the preaching should be directed instead toward the health of the Christian and strengthening his faith. There will be pruning and fertilizing (the call to repentance). There will be watering and sunshine (the forgiveness of sins in the preaching and sacraments). Then, bizarrely and circuitously and weirdly, the Christian (whose faith is vivified and whose sinful nature is crushed) will abundantly bear the fruit of good works, even when he's not intentionally trying to do so.