Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Groundhogs, Bankers, and Tea

Wow! It's almost May already. Don't know where the time has gone. Rested up now after vacation. Isn't that how it goes? Guess some icky weather forced that issue for me. Rain and cooler than I like. It's the magnolia's fault, you know. Whenever they bloom it's a signal for the weather to change and try to freeze the blossoms. Or so it seems. They are nearly done so maybe, it's time to think garden seriously.

We limed the soil several weeks ago. The weeds didn't seem to mind at all. They are looking very happy right now. Need to turn them under and do all that ground prep like tilling, raking, moving a few of the rocks that have surfaced now. The ground here grows them, according to the locals. I believe them and also believe that if the rocks were removed there'd be no dirt at all. But that's probably not entirely true. Just mostly so.

The groundhog family has moved to a quieter neighborhood now. We mowed this past weekend and all the noise didn't please them. Especially driving the tractor back into the shed which they lived below. They were cute and grew amazingly quickly. The "pups" (Don't know what groundhog offspring are really called.) doubled in size after about ten days. And learned to duck when a hawk cruised by. That was good. If they learn to stay off the roads they may even make adulthood. Haven't seen the fox lately and he's about the only predator that remains that's large enough to get them, ignoring some person with a gun that is.

The talking heads should have a great time this evening reviewing the congress' conversation with the bankers. I did pick up one tidbit related to that somewhere yesterday that I thought was revealing. Someone, and I didn't fact check this, said that the percentage of the GDP related to banking is now somewhere around 60%. I guess that gives them the clout to speak about things they think are important. I'd like to follow that back a few years and see if that sort of trend was true of other sectors like the defense industry or auto manufacturing. Or is this a totally new phenomenon? Just wondering. When someone throws some numbers around it would seem like a good idea to check something like that. Maybe I'll go see what I can find later on.

Got a chance to hear Greg Mortenson speak a couple of evenings ago. He's the Three Cups of Tea author or coauthor. I'd read the book quite a while ago so his talk was a nice review. He's dedicated to the idea of education, especially for girls, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That's good, but the main thing that he's really done is open the door for looking at another way of life and validating the people who live that life. Until someone can see that there may be more than one way to approach life their way is always the best only way. That's true in the US as will as the countries he's involved with. Education is only a tool in my opinion to bridge that gap, especially when religion and money block the way.

His method included the local leaders first. They own the idea by the time the school is built and will guard it for that reason. Education helps in many areas but eventually, like all goods things, it can be overdone. The "ivory towers" of learning become detached from the real world and can no longer offer anything that is useful. But, before then, the health and well being of the people is improved. Let's hope that is what happens eventually among the people he is working, even though recent news seems otherwise. Patient slow forward motion is one thing that particular people understand and use in a variety of ways. Maybe they could come here and teach us some of that. Or have they started already?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Review: Rechurch

Stephen Mansfield
BarnaBooks, an imprint of Tyndale House Publishers

If you have been burned or otherwise suffered a church hurt and if you like the pain and suffering you’ve been experiencing don’t bother with this particular book.

If on the other hand you want to be whole again and able to rejoin the people of God without looking over your shoulder all the time this book can help you immensely. The author is firm in his approach. Sometimes he comes across a bit more strongly than most of us are used to hearing. Keep going, though. He uses examples from his own experience, which could not have been easy for him, and people from history, some of whom surprised me. Even the “super saints” dealt with the church hurt issues.

Throughout the book the author provides various exercises to work through that pave the way to the following steps and eventually to healing and finally wholeness. I especially appreciated some of the discussion related to forgiveness. I thought he offered some very helpful insights in that area.

The final chapter is one I wished I read a long, long time ago; lots of just plain commonsense information that goes out the window so often when people choose a new church home, me included. Maybe it could be a set of discussion points for a new member’s class.

This isn’t a book that you can read and set aside. It is one that you can share, though. Please do when you have finished with it.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Review: The Sacred Journey

The Sacred Journey
Charles Foster
Thomas Nelson

Here is a thought provoking, well written book. I couldn't say that at first. The author’s style is bold, and in some ways quite blunt. No sugar coating some of the difficulties of travel here! I soon discovered however, that I did yearn for a sacred journey of my own just a few more pages into his book.

Foster shows the similarities between cultures in our basic search for God, a name he’d very much like changed in the English language. Shocked, but I had to agree with him that it isn’t exactly a very pleasant sounding word. Okay, just one of his asides that can get your dander up if you let it. Another of his opinions has to do with the urbanization of society and the ills that it breeds. Again, after some thought, he is right about that as well. But, when he starts on the farmers and ranchers I couldn’t go there with him. Maybe he hasn’t met enough of them yet.

So what has all that to do with the sacred journey? Besides taking a mini-pilgrimage thinking through whether I agreed with him or not, he builds a case for how settled life styles deaden our senses. We cannot know God, ourselves, or anyone else when we are focused on he day to day grind. Layers of sediment that need scrubbing accumulate and a sacred journey can be helpful to restore our proper function. For most who are seeking that result, anyway. Best yet, he brings it full circle with a section on the return to everyday life after the journey.

This well woven tale of the author’s experiences alongside those from other times and places makes for an absorbing read.

Reviewed for BookSneeze. Thomas Nelson has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Eagles, Canoes, and Other Stuff

Back after a short vacation. Rustic cabin as it is described with detached bath house. You know, like a detached garage is supposed to sell you on a house listing. Nice time really. Quiet, scent of pine whenever the breeze meandered through the area. Went to a place named Promised Land State Park in eastern PA. Cabins were built by CCC workers in the 1930's. That government program made sense. Young men joined, got paid for the work and if they needed to learn the 3R's they got that as well. Most of the paycheck was sent home, but they got enough to have some fun in town. Can't see today's young people doing that at all though. I guess back then times were tougher and so was the resolve of the people. Anyway, the cabin was solid and we learned that even the furniture was made back then as well. Simple but served the purpose.

Walking is a major activity at the park. We walked. Found a pretty spot with a nice little water fall. So relaxing. Better than the environmental tapes I used to listen to since the visual kept rolling right in front of me. Wanted to just stay there. (Attempted to load a short video below that's about 20 seconds from my digital camera. Not pro shots but you can get the idea. No sound regrettably.) The trail is tougher than it looks with rocks to climb around, over or whatever. Small boggy spots had us searching for alternate paths, too.

The park has a couple of small lakes for water type sports and no power boats allowed. After paddling around the larger lake in our canoe power boats would last about one minute. Tree stumps abound just below the surface and so do a few large rocks. Good fishing spot probably but I saw no one giving it a try. It was a bit breezy and the water was still cold. Besides, the trout season was about to open. Imagine there's a few guys out now for that.

The big attraction for me was watching the eagles. A pair nests above the smaller lake and is a major attraction. For folks like me, anyway. The eagles are quite attentive parents right now and share the nesting duties. Watched shift change at the aerie several times. The one relieved circles a few times and then soars off into a freedom glide. At least, that's the way it looks. Might be anthropomorphizing them though, but I like that interpretation. The Canada geese ignore the eagles, but go beserk when the osprey comes around. And the ducks don't seem to worry with either of them. Odd. I'd thought their chicks would make nice morsels for eagle dinners. Guess not.

The best part of being away was the lack of news. No drama over whatever some politician said or didn't made for a time of mental relaxation. The world continued to turn whether I followed the latest reports or not. Had no clue who won the golf tournament and still don't. No idea who acquired a nuke or didn't or which starlet is "hooking up" with which sports dude. So nice.

One last note. A sad one. My father-in-law passed away after a short battle with cancer. He was 93 and survived by two children, four grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. A good man that lived a good life. He will be missed.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Time to pay a visit to blogland again. It's been calling to me for several days and I finally decided to listen. Got through the latest holiday relatively unscathed. Didn't even see a chocolate egg or one of those little peep things. I have tried to like them but they make much better decorations than candy whether they're yellow, pink, white or some other pastelish shade. I guess someone out there does like them since they are still available.

March Madness which carries over into April is over as well. And we promise not to nuke you unless you meet a stringent criteria. We'll see how that plays out on down the road. What has that got to do with basketball? Nothing except it's another winner take all idea, I guess. Can't wait to hear the talking heads later on. The conservative news site I check every now and then has it's spin on the armageddon side already. The bad guys will get us. And they might, but what will they have? It'll take a while to figure out what's left that usable. Maybe the Aztecs or whoever were right with their calendar. Just saying...

Summer time temps out there today and tomorrow from the forecast. Feels pretty good. Don't have a hammock and that may have to change. Lazing around isn't complete without one. Too early for the garden, but won't be long for the cool weather crops time to grow. Always look forward to putting in the garden and checking the ground for signs of the first little shoot popping up. The tough part is weeding it later on, like in July. But then there's the vine ripe tomatoes, fresh zucchini, corn. Yeah, the July bout with weeds is worth it after all.

DST still has me confused. Just checked the clock and realized I need to be elsewhere real soon. So maybe I can finish this later.