Saturday, January 31, 2009

Today's Laugh

One day at the office, a man noticed that his very conservative co-worker was wearing an earring. "I didn't know you were into that kind of stuff," he said to his friend.

"It's not a big deal," the guy said. "It's just an earring."

"How long have you been wearing it?" the first man asked.

"Since my wife found it in my car last week."

Friday, January 30, 2009

Church Sign

BIG notice seen on the church sign on Main Street today:


Undee? What's Undee?
In smaller print beneath was the notice that they are collecting underwear and socks for the local clothing bank.

Oh, "undies."

And we'll be talking about casting out demons or some such irrelevant topic....

Too Much Law

A Wall Street Journal article by Philip Howard hits the nail on the head: America is being paralyzed by laws and the fear of being sued. I'm afraid to start a business to supplement the family income because I have no idea how I'd maneuver my way through all the legalities. Children may not run on the playground, doctors order too many tests, and a teacher cannot hug a crying child. All because we're afraid of gazillions of laws. The article is good reading, not too long, and broaches the topic of how to fix the problem, how we might be made safe from our fear of transgressing laws at every turn.

Later addition: Come to think of it, there are connections between this societal problem and the theological problem. Christians who have been set free from the law are able to serve their neighbor in freedom and do what needs to be done as their pour out their lives in love for one another. But those who are bound by the law are busy keeping an eye on themselves, for fear of a wrathful god. When the govt is crazy-in-love with laws, the citizenry is bound and cannot go about solving their own problems and creating their own prosperity.

Hat tip: Jane.


The kids have watched episodes at Jane's house. I'd never seen the show until last night.

We loved it!!!!

And they follow the scientific method step-by-step. (See, kids? They have a question or a problem. They come up with a guess. They do research by asking others, as well as by setting up experiments to do their own research. They limit variables in the experiments. They carefully record the data. And at the end, they clearly state their conclusions. This show is, like, the poster-boy for showing kids how real people follow the scientific method.)

The guys love how they blow up things.

Netflix carries the tv series.
(Probably not appropriate for kids under 10, but you know your own kids....)


For quite a few years I've been taking care of annually getting a certain winner's name engraved on a certain plaque. The engraver I used was right across the street from the bank, on my way to the grocery store or the library or the butcher. Nice small-business fellow who did good work for a good price.

We moved. I keep giving myself the speech that I need to get settled HERE and not keep solving problems by running back to where we lived before. We found a doctor, found a dentist, found a mechanic, found a hardware store. Now, where am I going to find an engraver? I have looked through the Yellow Pages and online. I have made phone calls. There's something just not right. After multiple phone calls and attempts to "make an appointment" (what? to drop off a little piece of metal with the spelling of the name to be engraved? an appointment with a salesman??) I finally got to one of the prospects today. I had a bad feeling about it, but kept telling myself that I can't expect things to work the way they do in Podunkville. (Read: the right way the work in Podunkville!) As I drove closer to the place where the company was located, I'm thinking, "This is a huge industrial park. This is not what I'm looking for." Sure enough, they couldn't do the job. And what big company would want to mess with one $5 job per year anyway?

Every now and then I get a jolt as to how close I'm walking to the edge of the cliff. So I spent 20 minutes driving there and 20 minutes driving back and 5 minutes waiting to meet with the salesman who said "Nope, can't do that" but refused to tell me that on the phone before I came in. And I'm driving home, crying. Buck up, Susan -- this is nothing to cry about.

But sometimes it truly seems LOADS easier to make the two-hour roundtrip to drop off the plaque and the two-hour roundtrip to pick up the plaque than it is to keep making the stupid phone calls and driving to companies that aren't going to do the job anyway. I've probably already spent four hours on this and am still no closer to getting the tiny little engraving job done. It would've saved time to just get in the car and drive to the place I know, the place that is reliable, the place that is far away.

Surely there must be somebody around here who is capable of doing this little job. But I'm tired of trying to find him.

Today's Laugh

A young nun who worked for a local home health care agency was out making her rounds when she ran out of gas. As luck would have it, there was a gas station just one block away. She walked to the station to borrow a can with enough gas to start the car and drive to the station for a fill up.

The attendant regretfully told her that the only gas can he owned had just been loaned out, but if she would care to wait he was sure it would be back shortly.

Since the nun was on the way to see a patient, she decided not to wait and walked back to her car. After looking through her car for something to carry to the station to fill with gas, she spotted a bedpan she was taking to the patient. Always resourceful, she carried it to the station, filled it with gasoline, and carried it back to her car.

As she was pouring the gas into the tank of her car, two men watched her from across the street. One of them turned to the other and said, "I know that it is said that Jesus turned water into wine, but if that car starts, I'll become a Catholic for the rest of my life."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Today's Laugh

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that our government can track a cow born in Canada almost three years ago, right to the stall where she sleeps in the state of Washington? And, they tracked her calves to their stalls. But they are unable to locate 11 million illegal aliens wandering around our country. Maybe we should give them all a cow.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Friendly Teasing

I don't know about you, but I'm really drawn to people who are friendly and light-hearted and fun to be around. In choir I sit between Mark and Kara, in front of Randy. Randy is definitely not shy and retiring, Mark is a little quieter, and Kara is bubbly, but they all make jokes and witty comments and brighten the day of the people around them. They're just so likable! As Matthew (who sits next to Randy) says, "I guess you can tease anybody, but it's so much FUN to tease Kara!"

"Out there" in the big wide world, we're getting serious. And thin-skinned. And touchy. For several decades now, political correctness has been killing our sense of humor. And it comes in many forms. I remember one homeschool meeting where an agenda item was some cartoons poking fun at homeschoolers. Personally, I thought they were kind of funny. Granted, the cartoons' punchline was based on the idea that homeschoolers are at home "not doing anything." But, hey, what do we expect other people to think about homeschooling? Can we laugh at ourselves or even others' misperceptions of us? It sure seems to me that the ability to laugh at ourselves and others (good-naturedly, not meanly!) does a lot to preserve sanity. And joy. And relationships.

What I'm finding sad right now is my reticence to tease or make jokes. I even worry sometimes about whether my daily jokes on the blog will offend someone dear to me. When you're in the midst of a conversation, having a good time, joking around, and suddenly you're snapped at, it makes you leery of goofing around with that person again. And if it happens repeatedly, maybe you learn to keep your distance for fear of upsetting that person you care about. And then... if several people around you are weary or depressed or weighed down with pain, so that they can no longer laugh (and get upset when you do), the gravity spreads. Everybody walks on eggshells. Everybody becomes afraid of joking and light-heartedness. We withdraw and become serious when what we really need is to come closer together and bring cheer and comfort to one another. And yet, sometimes cheer is seen as flippancy, which may make matters worse for that friend who's down.

I wish I knew what the solution was.

But I do know that my solution (avoiding people so as not to inadvertently offend) is not the right solution.

Today's Laugh

One day while he was at the track betting on the ponies and nearly losing his shirt, Mitch noticed a priest who stepped out onto the track and blessed the forehead of one of the horses lining up for the 4th race.

Lo and behold, that horse - a very long shot - won the race.

Mitch was most interested to see what the priest did the next race. Sure enough, he watched the priest step out onto the track as the 5th race horses lined up, and place a blessing on the forehead of one of the horses. Mitch made a beeline for the window and placed a small bet on the horse.

Again, even though it was another long shot, the horse the priest had blessed won the race.

Mitch collected his winnings and anxiously waited to see which horse the priest bestowed his blessing on for the 6th race.

As the day went on, the priest continued blessing one of the horses, and it always came in first.

Mitch began to pull in some serious money, and by the last race, he knew his wildest dreams were going to come true. He made a quick stop at the ATM, withdrew his savings and awaited the priest's blessing that would tell him which horse to bet on.

True to his pattern, the priest stepped out onto the track before the last race and blessed the forehead, eyes, ears and hooves of one of the horses. Mitch bet every cent, and watched the horse come in dead last.

Mitch was dumbfounded. He made his way to the track and when he found the priest, he demanded, "What happened, Father? All day you blessed horses and they won. The last race, you blessed a horse and he lost. Now I've lost my savings too, thanks to you!!"

The priest nodded wisely and said, "That's the problem with Protestants: you can't tell the difference between a simple blessing and the Last Rites."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ring Around the Collar

What is it with men's white shirts?

I spent all those years laundering black clericals, and there wasn't any problem with the necklines. Okay, okay, the white albs had some stains around the neck, but that's why we have amices.

But these white button-down shirts just get terrible at the neck. Why is the white so much worse than the colors? Is it just that it shows more? I keep putting Shout on the necklines when I wash them, but that seems to rough up the fibers so that it wears out faster.

Boy, clergy shirts last a long time and are easy to take care of!

A Bad Thing for Jonah

In our story today, Pastor pointed out the response of the people on the ship to the storm. When the boat was in danger, when their lives were in jeopardy, the conclusion of the men was, "Oh my goodness, what have we done to deserve this?" They wanted to find the guilty party. They wanted to appease the gods who were ticked. Pastor said that this particular [bad] theology was common then, and actually it's still quite common now. When bad things happen, we tend to think God is zotting us for what we did. He was making the point that this is faulty theology, that God doesn't send bad things to punish us.

Okay, I understand.
in this case

God really HAD sent the storm.

It really WAS because of Jonah's sin.

So I asked.
And the answer was:

Why did He send the storm? To harm? To exact payment for Jonah's sin? No. To save. God sent the storm to call Jonah to repentance that he might trust in God's mercy (and also to save the people of Ninevah). This storm was not punishment but a call to repentance. We too often stop at the first part, 'This is a result of my sin,' and think that God is angry with us. Even if something is a result of my sin, what's really happening is that God is saving us.

What was that Luther said, about how God puts to death that He might make us alive, that He brings us through hell to get us to heaven?

One Greater Than Jonah

Today's story on baptism is from Jonah. As we read the story this morning, Pastor was pointing out similarities between the story of Jonah and the story of Jesus, particularly the story about the disciples in the boat during the storm (Mark 4). One of the items he mentioned was the 14th verse of chapter 1, where Jonah's shipmates pray to Yahweh before pitching Jonah into the stormy seas of God's judgment, begging Him not to to hold this sin against them and not to charge his innocent blood to them. Almost makes a person think of Pilate (Matthew 27).

Today's Laugh

Twelve Ways To Maintain Your Sanity

1. At lunch time, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair-dryer at passing cars. See if they slow down.

2. Page yourself over the intercom at work. Don't disguise your voice.

3. Put decaf in the coffee-maker for three weeks. Once everyone has gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to espresso.

4. In the memo field of all your checks, write "for smuggling diamonds."

5. As often as possible, skip rather than walk.

6. Order a "diet water" whenever you go out to eat, and do it with a serious face.

7. Specify that your drive-through order is "to go."

8. Go to a poetry recital and ask why the poems don't rhyme.

9. Put mosquito netting around your cubicle and play tropical sounds all day.

10. When money comes out of the ATM, scream, "I won! I won!"

11. When leaving the zoo, start running towards the parking lot, yelling, "Run for your lives! They're loose!"

Monday, January 26, 2009

Burdening Consciences

For my conscience is ensnared and misled just as much when it must refrain from doing something, which it is not necessary to refrain from doing, as when it must do something, which it is not necessary to do. When men must refrain from doing that from which they need not refrain and are compelled to do what they need not do, Christian freedom perishes in either case.
Luther's Works (vol 40, p 128)

Lutherans are quick to say that someone is "burdening consciences" when a person calls something a sin that is not [necessarily] a sin. For example, we might say that it "burdens consciences" to tell someone that trick-or-treating is wrong or that they shouldn't drink liquor or eat shrimp.

However, sometimes a person knows his own sinful motivation behind an activity that is not sinful in and of itself. I am inclined to think it would not be "burdening consciences" to talk about the sin which is admittedly there.

When I look at the Confessions, I see a couple of different ways the phrase is used. Sometimes a "burdened conscience" is one that is burdened by the true demands of the Law which we can in no way fulfill apart from Christ. The relief from the burden is the word of Christ's forgiveness.

But usually when the Confessions speak of "burdening consciences," it's about putting demands on a person and requiring him to fix whatever wrong he was doing. In the examples above, to burden the conscience would be to say, "Well, trick-or-treating is wrong, so don't let your kids dress up on October 31st and ask the neighbors for candy." Or "Because the Bible says shrimp are unclean, you've got to give up your scampi."

Let's say a sinful, selfish motivation nudges a person toward a behavior which isn't inherently sinful. What happens when sin is acknowledged by someone else? Does that "burden consciences"? It may, if the solution is for the person to eliminate the sin. But what if the solution is to [gasp] go ahead with the behavior, living in the freedom of the Gospel, rejoicing that the sinful motivation is covered by Christ's blood, thankful that He never had any sinful motivations with regard to saving us? Is it still a burden to the conscience to be told that something is sin or weakness if it is not incumbent upon the sinner to resolve the problem?

Today's Laugh

The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments in a courthouse ...

You cannot post "Thou Shalt Not Steal,"
"Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery," and
"Thou Shalt Not Lie"

in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians -- it creates a hostile work environment.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Homeschooling Cartoons

Hilarious cartoon,
but I'm not sure non-homeschoolers would get it.

It reminds me of one of my favorite Calvin & Hobbes cartoons:

Today for show and tell I've brought a tiny marvel of nature: a single snowflake.

I think we might all learn a lesson from how this utterly unique and exquisite crystal ...

... turns into an ordinary boring molecule of water just like every other one when you bring it in the classroom.

And now, while the analogy sinks in,
I’ll be leaving you drips and going outside.

Today's Laugh

It's always darkest before the dawn.

So if you're going to steal your neighbor's newspaper, that's the time to do it.