Monday, January 25, 2010

Yet another old friend...


Years ago, on my drives into work, I would listen to "The Writer's Almanac" on KUSC. It was broadcast at 7:30 AM daily. I loved hearing Garrison Keillor tell us who's birthday it was, and then read a selected poem. One time he read Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address", and even though I'd heard it and read it for myself, he breathed life into it. Sadly, KUSC discontinued playing it...

But this evening, as I went to meet a friend for coffee, I found it again on KPCC, which is the NPR station out of Pasadena City College. What a joy to hear Keillor's mellifluous voice again....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

An old friend.....



I briefly re-acquainted myself to an old friend yesterday: my Zone VI Classic wood-field camera. I had first gotten to know this friend back in 1997, and subsequently this friend of mine and I took trips to Arizona and Colorado, up to Oregon, and several local trips to central and southern California. But when I married and started having kids, this friend became neglected: stored first in a coat closet, getting all musty, and then stored unceremoniously in a plastic tub in our storage facility.

But I have liberated my friend from that storage facility, and have plans to renew our friendship this year....

Friday, January 22, 2010

We don't need another hero....

Was listening to NPR radio this morning, and they reported on the upcoming trial of Scott Roeder in Wichita, who's accused of murdering a one Dr. George Tiller, who performed late-term abortions. This Roeder was the one who drove to Dr. Tiller's church, and shot him in the head while the doctor was performing his duties as an usher. Roeder is not remorseful for his act, and believes it is justifiable homicide to protect unborn children.

Now, I won't go into the arguments for or against abortion. But I will say that murdering someone in this fashion to protect the unborn children is NOT justifiable. We could go on and on that abortion is or is not murder, that it's a mother's choice, etc. But that is not my point in this post.

What bothered me, beyond Roeder's lack of remorse, is the fact that a ardent pro-life website, and it's webmaster/owner, consider Roeder a "hero". In my mind, that places Roeder up there with the Islamic extremists, who believe that by blowing themselves up, along with killing as many infidels as possible, they will be in Heaven, with a pack of virgins all waiting for them.

How can someone look at Roeder and claim that he's a "hero". I cannot fathom how far people can take the law, or the teachings of religious figure such as Christ or Mohammed, and twist them to justify their actions.

So, we don't need another hero, certainly one such as Roeder....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Politics as usual?

First off, I wish to state that I'm a registered Democrat. That does not mean, however, that I always vote on party lines. But after the recent victory in the liberal state of Massachusetts by the Republican Scott Brown, I started to think.

As I have spent more time reading and being on the web, I have discovered a certain truth: politicians do not truly care about representing their voting constituents. They remain true to their "supporters", the corporations or lobby groups that provide campaign funding. But they truly never listen to the people, the ones who actually voted them into office. For example, George W. Bush pursued a course of military action in Iraq that was actually very unpopular with the American public. And now we have had a congress that has provided great amounts of (literally non-existent) taxpayer money to bail out failing corporations, which was not popular with the voting public. We have a new President who's been pushing a health care reform package that has been shown to be very unpopular by the public. And we have that illustrious congress who again have shown their disregard for the voting public, and are pushing through this ill-conceived and very costly legislation.

So, it was a no-brainer for the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to vote for a candidate - a REPUBLICAN candidate, who simply said he opposed the health bill. Now, is Washington listening? Do they hear that message that came in loud and clear from the voters of Massachusetts: do NOT continue to pass the health bill!

But no. They'll continue to force the legislation through, albeit a bit watered down. John McCain said today that they should not pass a watered-down version, but go back to square one, and I agree. But with all the other problems that we have right now, health care reform should be placed on the back-burner.

However, one element of this election that was true politics: Scott Brown said on Wednesday, AFTER he was elected, that there was a need for some sort of health care legislation. Go figure....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Holiness of the Bible

I was listening to NPR Radio this morning on my rainy drive into work, and they were discussing the accused terrorist who attempted to blow up the Northwest Airlines jetliner on Christmas Day. As they interviewed the Iman that taught him, the Iman commented that the accused bomber was a student of the Holy Book of Islam, the Q'ran. It made me think about the Bible, and how it is perceived and even worshiped in many Christian churches.

I will admit that in my belief the Bible is the "inspired" Word of God. It was written by men, written in the context of their times. I do have issue with the statements that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, or the literal Word of God. I find that hard to swallow. But today, as I was listening to this, why do we call it the "Holy Bible". Frankly, it's a book. The item itself is not what is important: the content is. But again, why such reverence for it? When I was younger, my grandmother taught me to be gentle with the book. As I became a youth and was involved in youth groups and youth Bible studies, I would highlight or write notes in the margins.

But my point is that, like the Muslims, many Christians seem to look at the book itself - the paper, the ink, the binding - as Holy in and of itself. Yet, to me, that's a touch of idolatry. We should not hold the book as "Holy", but the God who's content it is about. In that light, who cares if it is the Inspired, or literal Word of God. It is just a guidebook.

One other thing: I don't think God wants us to hold the book called the Bible in such reverence. But I think, if we look at the opening of John's Gospel, God intended the Word to be Christ, and the message of love and redemption. "In the beginning was The Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." The holiness is not the book, but Him who inspired its writings. And the holiness is the Son of God.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Goals....

Like several folk, I spend the time around New Years setting up goals for the coming year. This year was no exception. I have goals for work that involve increasing my activity in business development for my employer. And I have goals at home as far as “projects” to achieve, like painting in the house and creating a new pond and waterfall out back.

But lately, I have been feeling some distinctive pulls to setting up goals that are not just projects, but are goals to increase my own feeling of self-accomplishment. Goals that are not easy to attain. And frankly, they are goals that will create a conflict inside of me, because they are goals that involve my creativity.

My first goal that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit since last fall is working on becoming a choral director, with the final goal of being a choir director at a church part-time. This has been on my mind since last October when I saw that a local church was looking for a director of music. I was too late for that position, but I did feel at that time (and still do) that it is a calling for me. I’ve been reading a book about choral directing, but I will need to do some private study in the areas of score reading and interpretation, conducting technique, and vocal pedagogy. I still have not figured out who will be sources for that, but I have some ideas.

The next goal that I recently decided to pursue for this year is returning to my photography - my large-format photography. I have been in contact with some folk on Facebook who are encouraging me in that, and have located a local lab that can develop my 4x5” black & white negatives. Now it’s a matter of pulling the camera out of storage, and refresh my mind on the various exposure systems used for large-format photography. This is simply a goal to give me some creative outlet. I know realistically that I cannot sell my work, so it’s simply for self-edification that I do that.

Another goal is to work on friendships, both with old and existing friends, and make new friendships. We attend a church in Orange that has a few families in our age-range, and I plan to make it a regular thing to have those families over for dinner. In addition, I wish to make time to meet friends for after-work drinks, or coffee, or just get together to chat. I have also talked to some of the men of the church about establishing a men's group.

My final goal is not so lofty, but will probably take the most self-discipline: to focus more on God. I want to spend more time in both private and corporate study of God, discussing God with like-minded and even possibly opposite-minded folk. I want to ponder and think about God, write about Him...immerse myself in Him. I believe by doing this I will improve not only the friendships that I wish to have, but my relationship with both my wife and my kids.

Goals.....