Saturday, June 28, 2008

Away

I will be away until July 5. Comment moderation is enabled. Any comments - you are encouraged to leave many - will appear after that.

Have a happy Independence Day in the USA.

I'll be attending Rocky Mountain Honors Camp as a counselor again. Read my series from last year here: Lady of Longbourn: Camp

To God be all glory.

Refocus

"When we exited the museum, walking out into the green trees that line the banks of the Brandywine River, I noticed that the world seemed a different place. The colors appeared to be deeper and perhaps brighter than before. The random ambiguity of the branches of the trees seemed to be pointing to some hidden meaning in life. I began to realize that those few hours of intently looking at the paintings had refocused our eyes, had refreshed our vision. So I encourage you to go the web sites of artists like Makoto Fujimura and Sandra Bowden, open your eye making them available to be refocused so that you can turn and see the world around you in a fresh way. Even as great literarture [sic] teaches us to listen to the world, great art encourages us to look at the world with new eyes." - by Michael Card

What have you seen today?

To God be all glory.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ramifications

Ram - n. a male sheep or goat, especially with horns.

Ram - v. the act of a ram by which he charges an object or rival ram horns-first.

Ram - v. by extension, any act of heavily-hitting something, particularly with a running start. Can be used of bumper cars or tree-trunks against a medeival gate.

Battering Ram - n. a long log or pole, sometimes headed with something sharp or toothed, used to strike blows against gates of a beleaguered city in order to destroy the gates and gain entrance.

Ramifications - n. the tremors or other consequences of a ram striking something.

Ramify - v. to create consequences like ripples in the water, various and successive

Actually, I didn't use a dictionary for those. This amateur etymologist was reading a book today and found the word ramify, which she likes for being so visual. So imagine her disappointment when she actually looked the words up and discovered that all sources agree that Ramify and Ramifications have nothing to do with sheep. Battering rams are apparently associated with sheep, but the Online Etymology Dictionary doesn't know why.

What the dictionaries say is that Ramify is from a Latin root meaning branch, associated with the Latin root meaning root and seen in Radish. It seems possible that Rams were named for having branches out of their heads. According to the dictionary Ramifications has nothing to do with impact as much as it does territory; it is the branching consequences of an action. Ramify would be similar. I like my description much better, but for etymology to be a science, I suppose there must be evidence.

It has been suggested that Ram, as in the sheep, is associated with a similar word for strong, impetuous, or violent. Since Ram is the shorter word, it seems more likely that the adjectives are metaphorical derivatives of the noun, describing the animal's distinctive behavior.

Also to ponder: rampart - 1583, from M.Fr. rempart, from remparer "to fortify," from re- "again" + emparer "fortify, take possession of," from O.Prov. amparer, from V.L. *anteparare "prepare," prop. "to make preparations beforehand," from L. ante- "before" (see ante) + parare "prepare

ramp - 1) To act threateningly or violently; rage. 2) To assume a threatening stance. 3) Heraldry To stand in the rampant position. [Middle English rampen, from Old French ramper, to rear, rise up, of Germanic origin.]

rampant - adj. 1) Extending unchecked; unrestrained: a rampant growth of weeds in the neglected yard. 2) Occurring without restraint and frequently, widely, or menacingly; rife: a rampant epidemic; rampant corruption in city government.

rampage - 1715, in Scottish, probably from M.E. verb ramp "rave, rush wildly about" (c.1300), esp. of beasts rearing on their hind legs, as if climbing, from O.Fr. ramper (see ramp, also cf. rampant). The noun is first recorded 1861, from the verb.

Hebrew:
07483 ra`mah - thunder; vibration, quivering, waving, mane (of horse)
07215 ra'mah - corals

Quotes of definitions taken from Strong's Concordance as provided by God's Word for Windows, from Dictionary.com, and from Etymonline.com

To God be all glory.

Monday, June 23, 2008

One More Note on Miss Austen Regrets

My favorite part of the movie was when a friend, a married woman came up to Jane and told her that many women needed the encouragement that Jane Austen's books offered. Their love wasn't perfectly romantic anymore, but they could read books. (Lisa insert: maybe the books inspired the women to have a balanced view of love and marriage, or a value and lightheartedness for the friends and family and husbands and wives that they had.) The woman went on to say that God had given Jane Austen her gift for writing so that she could be such an important encouragement in the world - even if it meant that Jane couldn't be married. That way she could still impart her gifts to the world. Jane's life had meaning and purpose.

With all the happily ever afters we all love in Jane Austen's novels, it is encouraging for single girls to occasionally hear a story where the girl doesn't end up with the handsome prince, but her life was still good and worth something. Don't worry; I know my life means something. It is just nice to hear the stories, to see an unmarried life in a romanticist-inspired light.

To God be all glory.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Miss Austen Regrets

During Jane Austen Season on Masterpiece Theater this winter I decided to skip hassling my parents to record on the week when the biopic Miss Austen Regrets was on. If it was like any other biography, it would be very dull. If it was like the other movies, it would be very silly. If it was like Becoming Jane, it would be annoying. Unfortunately, as soon as my chances of viewing it were past, all the Austen fan sites came alive with gentle praise for the movie, and I regretted missing it.

Finally the copy of Sense and Sensibility came from the library, its featured chapter being the hour and a half long Miss Austen Regrets, a wonderful film (immodest women, if that bothers you, which it does me - no brothers allowed) about Jane Austen's views on love and marriage, mostly centering on her advice to Fanny, her niece. It made me think. I watched it on my anniversary, actually, and at first I thought it was rather the wrong choice for that, but then it was such a message of trusting God to do with your life what He wills, even if it isn't marriage - but retaining a high value of marriage that I am reconciled to the decision.

Not being a scholar of Jane Austen's life, I am without criticism of the movie's portrayal of her timeline, words, and actions. I never thought of her as being so flirtatious, but that is because I prefer, like Elizabeth Bennett, to imagine that the people I admire share my values and convictions and that their faults, which all people must be admitted to have, are never those which expose a good understanding to ridicule. I enjoyed the movie very much, especially the parts where Jane was writing Persuasion. The makers of this movie, at least, understood that story.

Cassandra's relationship with her beloved witty sister the author is a fascination to me, and I am always willing to know more of it. One thing brought up by the movie, however, was her brothers. Jane Austen (and Cassandra, of course) had six brothers who played important roles in their lives. Yet the only book Jane wrote where there was any substantial brother role was Mansfield Park, and though his character moves the story when it appears, and though he is dear and inspiring to his sister Fanny, he is really not all that central to the plot. So I wondered why Jane Austen so rarely wrote about what she knew so well: the relationship of brothers and sisters.

Do you ever wonder if Jane wrote Pride and Prejudice about herself and Cassandra - and her namesake was really the better representation? Oh, I suppose outspoken and satirical Jane could never be the quiet and tender Miss Bennett. Perhaps she really would have preferred marriage to Mr. Bingley for herself, though. I agree with Miss Austen Regrets, that Mr. Darcy would not have done for Jane Austen (just as I imagine he would not have done for me, though like all good fans, I adore him).

So now I'm back to reading the Annotated Pride and Prejudice, reveling actually in the comparative necessary openness of the written story as opposed to the famed 1995 Pride and Prejudice that got to so subtly show the change in the hero and heroine. It is so relaxing to ponder what one reads, if it is a good piece of literature. And who that has read Pride and Prejudice could argue that point?

To God be all glory.

Between Storms

This past week has been an answer to my wishes. Too few storms had come to Colorado yet this season. I love to watch a storm out the back window, or from outside if it's not raining (too hard). Now we've had storms the past four days, I think. In between storms my sisters and I took our digital cameras outside and enjoyed the eerie light. We didn't know there would be another storm until we looked up at the clouds and saw this:


How beautiful is that?

In about a week I'll be up at a camp near Estes Park, Colorado. The weather there is beautiful, so I'll be sure to take good pictures and maybe video of that. You can expect lots of thoughts when I get back, too.

Even now the leaves are fluttering energetically above my window, and the sky is too dark for the hour. I love it.

To God be all glory.

Marble Works




One of my favorite games, the very educational and noisy Discovery Toys Marble Works.


Built out of almost two whole sets, my sister and I constructed the tower in the video above.


Some days you have to laugh and play. Aside from magnets, Marble Works is my next favorite game, and I intend to use both in playing with my kids. Other favorite games are Monopoly, Balderdash, Clue, Mastermind, Mad Gab, Taboo, Pente, old Payday, and Dutch Blitz.


To God be all glory.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Today

The zipper on my purse split in two. Not the pull coming off, but the part of the zipper that holds the teeth together so they close when you slide it - that's what broke. The inside part came off of the outside part. I'd never noticed before how fragile it had to be. No wonder zippers break.

Last week I carried around a bunch of books and my wallet and lotion and stuff in a messenger bag they gave us at Awana Summit this year. It's black and orange, which is not my thing. With the amount of books or notebooks I'm always carrying around, I might as well fit them all into one bag, though. For a little while.

Classic black is so sleek and simple and coordinates with almost anything. I had a small backpack purse that could hold a lot without looking too junky or casual. Now I guess I'm back to the backpack until I find a new purse.

Fortunately I'm headed garage saling with my mom tomorrow, so I can look for a new one. Most women buy way too many purses, so they're always selling them off. So people like me get our second hand. My now-dead purse was second hand and has served me heart-breakingly well for several years.

Also today we had a real thunderstorm. There was lightning and rain and hail, clouds moving in two different directions all at sunset. My sisters and I did a photo shoot in between showers so we could catch the roses in the beautiful vivid light. I was doing it with one hand, since I was holding a half-done French braid in the other hand. That's talent for you. But my camera won't take pictures that are an accurate color. I don't know what's wrong, except that I bought a cheap camera.

Now my hair is all French braided. I posted lots of blogs today, and now I'm going to have chocolate ice cream. Good-bye.

To God be all glory.

Money and Ministry

Last night I watched a movie with a friend. On the high quality end of markedly Christian films, Second Chance stars Michael W. Smith, but features urban music and a message one wouldn’t intuitively associate with best-selling pop Christian song artists. Honestly, having given as much thought to the themes of the movie as my friend and I have, we noticed some inconsistent messages.

The main character is Ethan, the son of a megachurch pastor who is hoping, having returned from his prodigal days, to inherit his dad’s church. In the mean time he’s the church’s worship leader – a big job involving worship team, worship band, choir, and orchestra – all while trying to impress the large congregation, television audience, and the board that pays his salary. The church board is in the middle of big money – ahem, stewardship decisions; their television crew has trouble keeping up with changes Ethan makes in the middle of the production commonly considered to be congregational worship. On top of all this the recent public relations spot with the mayor at their mission church in the inner city exposed some resentment in the pastor of that church.

That pastor and his wife, who were saved in prison and off the streets respectively have an incarnational view of ministry. No cross-topped building in the middle of a messed up neighborhood would have reached them with the gospel, so they too are taking the gospel to the people, meeting them on their own turf. They run ministries inside the walls of their church, even hosting women trying to turn their lives around. But the only reason people come to the church is that word has gone out. The waitress at the diner knows the pastor, and so do the local drug pushers and gang members. They know he’s tough and he’s real. To this atmosphere Ethan is exiled on a double mission of punishing his non-compliance and supervising the uncooperative pastor. While the student of clich├ęs knows this is not the smartest course of action, for a long time it seems that Ethan will never learn to leave behind the write-a-check mentality, and the pastor will never accept “Gucci” (Ethan), the son of a man who betrayed the personal side of ministry so that he could provide his son with all the luxuries of life.

Does Ethan live for cameras? Is Church about more than a building? Is money the answer to everything? Does demanding excellence preclude giving grace? Even if you do everything right, will you win every time?

One big theme of the movie, which I’ve mentioned already, is money. When you’re working in the inner city, you don’t necessarily want to throw money at problems. A drug-addict or alcoholic will find a substantial amount of money a huge temptation. Yet only a substantial amount of money would pay the rent they owe, or send them to visit their children and discouraged fleeing wife. The inner city pastor in the movie tosses an empty bottle back to the homeless alcoholic and promises him a sandwich in the park. But he won’t give charity to a man who refuses to support his family because he thinks he’s above the jobs that are available. What’s the common thread?

The call is to invest in the lives of people, not giving them money necessarily, but spending time coaching them, visiting them, praying with them, and giving them an exposition and example of the truth.

But the movie suggests at the same time that the rich white people don’t have problems. It says you have to go to the inner city and face drug rings and prostitution and immigrants to find real need. Ethan says he wanted to serve God where it was comfortable. I argue that serving God is never comfortable; it’s not a matter of location.

If throwing money only enables homeless, addicted, or at-risk people to continue in their sin and ignore their real spiritual need, what are the rich white people but those further along in that trap? And is the call not then to invest in their lives to make them aware of God’s grace (a grace, by the way, made for walking)?

I don’t want to tell anyone to stop giving money. There are real needs, and money does fix some problems. If a family is impoverished because their car and washing machine broke down, or because the father lost the job at the same time that gas prices skyrocketed, or because of uncontrollable medical expenses, then what they need is money and community. Sometimes even those who were at fault need material goods, like sandwiches in the park, as part of a ministry to them.

Writing a check does not fix the problem. Writing a book does not fix the problem. Starting a megachurch does not fix the problem. God saved us to a relationship with Him that is personal and constant. He designed the Church to be a community of personal relationships that is more than weekly and more than small talk. And He designed evangelism to be a literal voice on the streets, as you go, being the salt and light in His world.

To God be all glory.

Two Countries of the USA

Christians occasionally run up against the argument that religious wars recklessly took the lives of thousands of people. Take the Crusades… So of course Christianity is a religion of hate and violence, and it is hypocritical for purportedly teaching about loving one’s neighbor at the same time. Guilt by association is a hard reputation to shed. It is hard for me to have to defend myself over a crime for which I don’t feel guilty, especially when I don’t feel guilty because I wasn’t alive then. I want to be loyal, but consistency and honesty are more important to me.

Pro-life groups have the taint of extremists who bombed abortion clinics. But I didn’t do that or condone that. In fact, I cannot remember a bombing of a clinic in America since I turned 13 and started paying attention. Is murdering millions of babies ok because one of the thousands of protestors was inexcusably destructive?

Zionists have been shamed by a branch of extremists who wanted to use terror to further their cause. In the case of Zionism, as opposed to that of Islam, the difference was that they were condemned by the mainstream. Strategists, leaders, and supporters of the state of Israel sought peaceful means of creating a Jewish homeland. Only once attacked and threatened by hostile (to say the least) neighbors who denied their existence and legitimacy did Israel take a position of miraculous strength, and apply military power.

Committing a crime yourself and framing your enemies for it is classic double-agent strategy. The ultimate example is Emperor Palpatine and the Clone Wars in Star Wars. Or if you’re more for history than fantasy, you might refer to Hitler excusing his invasions of Austria, Czechoslavakia, and separately of Poland. Yes. We’re talking the trigger for World War II.

During our involvement in World War II, America made the distasteful and unjust decision to inter our Japanese civilians in labor camps. In the interest of humble honesty, I always feel obligated to admit that occasionally my country is not defending virtue and liberty. I’m a fan of history, not names and dates so much as the connections of the dots. What were the politics, the motivations, the idealisms that drove countries to war and revolt, to peace and surrender? What little difference in choices would have changed the course of the world?

So I have to note that the president who ordered Japanese interment during World War II was a Democrat. Knowing that makes me feel a lot less responsible. There are almost two countries in this America. They alternate power, a check and balance between irresponsible oppression and defensive freedom. I never realized it before, but I’m more or less loyal to the Republican America.

But.

My Republican America participates and upholds the same Constitution that occasionally puts Democrat America in power. Even if I’m voting against them, I’m still endorsing the system. How much responsibility does that give me?

Some lifestyles are a package deal. For example, I’m learning that to believe Church should be held in homes is a lifestyle. Substituting a gathering in a house doing all the biblical things for the Sunday morning “worship service” in a sanctuary isn’t sufficient. My friends would call the package living missionally. I already believe that Christian community does life together and that the most effective Church in history met more than once a week.

Perhaps another package deal is living in a Republic requires political involvement. I can’t just vote and say I’ve done my part. In fact, for decades under the US Constitution there was no suffrage for women, and their participation in the government had to be more involved and influential than that. They had to do marches and grassroots campaigns. We must do that and more, like paying attention to our representatives in all three branches of government, and proactively holding them accountable. Voting is saying, “Yes, I believe in and endorse this system.” The responsibility, then, is ours to do everything we can to ensure that the system is honorable and efficient.

To God be all glory.

McCarthyism

This weekend I picked up Ann Coulter’s book, Treason. The first several chapters describe with multitudinous source notes the true history of the “Red Scare” in the fifties and what really happened when Senator McCarthy was in congress. In her typical sarcasm, Ann emphasizes that the alleged persecution inflicted on suspected (and actual) Communists and Communist spies in the Cold War was nominal, especially when contrasted with two extremes: the oppression of the people under actual Communist rule in the USSR at the time; and the normal shunning and ridicule of conservatives today who are not potentially feeding national secrets to our enemies.

This is an interesting contrast to the pet project of George Clooney, Good Night and Good Luck, about Edward R. Murrow, one of the first responsible for slanting the public’s view of Senator McCarthy. My brother’s community college professor recommended the movie to him, and so after the semester was over, Michael picked it up at the library and we spent the most boring hour of the month watching a whispering, black and white, dull, impersonal movie semi-documenting the press’ coverage of McCarthy, especially when he questioned Annie Lee Moss, the black Communist washerwoman who worked in the code room at the Pentagon. I think they even mixed actual press footage into the movie. (By the way, the Academy nominated this film for Best Picture, which is one of the most blatant evidences for their political agenda or at least favoritism, since it in no way compares to excellent classic films sharing that distinction.)

While Clooney wanted to do a movie refreshing the image of McCarthy as a man irrationally bent on censorship and discrimination, I argue the movie accomplished at least two opposite aims: First of all, the sheer boredom of the movie supposed to show the tragic suffering of those the Republicans arbitrarily decided to pick on, highlights how insignificant the hardships of Communist spies and sympathizers were; it didn’t even make a good movie. Secondly, I believe the movie, which focuses much more on the behind-the-scenes at the television station, generally portrays an accurate picture of the actual ambition and worldview of those who spun the myths about McCarthy in the first place. To know the real story the press was covering, and see how they portrayed the facts, is a much more entertaining display of liberal media at work. The moral of the movie to me is not: “See, those Republicans are mean!” but rather, “See, those liberals are miles from the facts again!”

Emboldened, however, by their success at distorting the history of McCarthy-“ism”, the liberals continue in their campaign to rewrite history as it happens. They use it in elections (usually between the casting of votes and the inaugurations, and then casually referenced as common knowledge attacking the legitimacy of whoever holds office that they don’t like), in propaganda about our enemies and defense, about economics, nature, and very frequently in the best-selling books they write after they leave office. From the fifties they learned Hitler’s policy of the thirties: if you tell a lie long enough and loud enough, the public will believe it. Let the example of Hollywood’s dramatization of a deceitful press contrasted with the thoroughly researched and footnoted book about history be a lesson for today.

To God be all glory.

Young, Restless, and Reformed by Collin Hansen - a review

"One may steal your thunder, but the lightning is always God's." - my family (a collaborative quote, in which we were stealing each other's thunder)

Several weeks ago - this post is way behind, so sorry - my brother gathered a group of our friends who, along with others of our acquaintance, have independently sensed the call to do something with our knowledge and fellowship. We are so good at parties, but we lose focus. So many of us have been wondering where God wants us to act. My brother gathered us to pray and share Scripture, seeking God for where He wants us to serve, why, how, who, etc. It must be a God thing, or it is nothing.

Last year for a few months I attended a young adult Bible study and worship time in which I sensed that most of us were passionately eager to serve God, to have a part in His work, but He hadn't told us where to go. He has been building faith in a young generation, like armies in waiting. And we gathered to wait on Him, to encourage our readiness, and to seek God's marching orders. Some days I think there are so many causes, that I wonder why it's difficult to find mine. And then I remember that God has us waiting. Until God speaks, I can wait.

Karen Hancock's allegory, Arena, is a vivid description of Christian living. At one point all those "saved" are waiting, studying and training, in a well-provisioned safe haven. They must wait for the exact moment at which God will give them a sign to move out and cross the enemy-infested lands to the portal to home. If they leave too early or too late, they will run across lines and camps of enemies and be lost. So they wait. So we wait.

But we believe God is at work. Over Memorial Day Weekend I attended the New Attitude Conference in Louisville, KY. Put on by Sovereign Grace and featuring Josh Harris, Eric Simmons, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, CJ Mahaney, and John Piper as speakers, the young adult conference attracted 3,000 soldiers in waiting. I was surprised, though I shouldn't have been, to find most of them as directionless as me. Ok, most of them had college degree or career goals, but spiritually we weren't sure where God wanted us. Some of us, in the midst of waiting, felt like the fight to keep heads above water while treading was all we could do. Maintaining a devotional and prayer life, passionately worshiping God and memorizing His Word were high orders.

Then John Piper spoke on William Tyndale, who most certainly had a calling and was not about to waste his life. He translated the whole New Testament and several Old Testament books into English for the first time. And he wrote books and campaigned for the Bible to be printed in the common tongue and made available to the people - at the risk and cost of his own life. The challenge went out and resonated with the three thousand in attendance.

Why does it resonate? Because God is at work, in the grassroots, you might say, reviving our faith in a big God. Twenty-something Christians, though comparatively immature in our marriage and childbearing rates and economic productivity, are getting excited about the truth, about a God bigger than themselves. Rejecting the shallow self-help and entertainment-driven church culture, they are reading up on Jonathan Edwards and getting excited about William Tyndale, singing theology-rich God-centered worship songs like Chris Tomlin's How Great is Our God, or Isaac Watts' hymns.

This is the subject of Young, Restless, and Reformed. Collin Hansen took a tour of the country to find out about this multi-rooted movement of 'young Calvinists.' He did a great job of filling pages with information about theology, denominations, organizations, authors, and what's so exciting to us about God's sovereignty. Grace, a consistent description of the world, a God worth worshiping - we have lots of answers, lots of paths that are bringing us to become part of the revival of Calvinism in the West. Why is God doing this? We wait to see.

Not only are our discoveries and conversions to Calvinism different; the lifestyles and trappings in which we couch our belief in the sovereignty of God also run a spectrum, which Collin Hansen (a writer for Christianity Today) describes with excellence: from liturgical and traditional presbyterians to charismatic and modern Mark Driscoll and CJ Mahaney. Then there's the unusual mix of Baptists and Calvinism (which for the moment describes me, though I find myself pretty much in pieces of everything). On of the most interesting parts of Young, Restless, and Reformed to me was the chapter on the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Al Mohler's Calvinist makeover of the college. So that's why my friends at Elect Exiles are Election-affirming and Baptist. I'm from a church that, in my observation, has been more typical of 20th century S. Baptists: in between Calvinism and Arminianism and reluctant to debate the issue. The tides are turning. I'll confess belief in a big, sovereign God was a prerequisite for me to vote for our current pastor.

This is a book I will recommend to pretty much everyone. The only disappointment I had was that the chapter on New Attitude, titled "Forget Reinvention," didn't say much about the conference. If you want to know about that, the New Attitude website has plenty of info to get you hyped about next year. I read the book in a few days, and told everyone I know about the book for the next several weeks. Read it, talk about it, and be encouraged by all the others God is calling. Keep waiting.

To God be all glory.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fight Back against Auto Warranty Telemarketers

Since the end of May, four members of my family have been receiving telemarketing calls from a Nevada number, 702-520-14** They inform us that our vehicle warranty is expired, and that this is our second and final notice. I have this claim memorized because we have received dozens of second and final notices. The telemarketers call our Verizon cell phones, using up cell phone minutes or just causing us hassle to ignore their calls. Their automated messages says to press *1* to speak to a warranty specialist, and some other number (maybe 9?) to be removed from their call list.

Every member of my family who has received these calls on our private cell phones - one carried by a minor - has pressed the number to be removed, yet the calls persist: identical calls at alarming frequency. I think my average is four or five calls a week. Since the automated request didn't work one morning (they called that very afternoon), I pressed one, spoke to a 'warranty specialist' named Leah, and requested that she take my number off their call list. She said she did.

The next day I received another call. My life not revolving around telemarketers, the next time I did anything more than check the caller ID was today. In the mean time, my dad discovered the number was in Nevada, and issued by the phone company, Digitcom Services, Inc. We attempted to return the calls at several of the dozens of numbers from which we received the solicitations, but only received a message saying that they are sorry if we reached their number in error; they only purchase business phone numbers; if we would like our number to be removed from their list, press 1. (Every time you press one, a message tells you your request has been successful.) Mom called Verizon to ask what she could do, and they referred her to the Federal No-Call List, which we were formerly unaware included cell phones. The list allots 30 days at least for companies to cease their sales calls to each number. Fortunately it no longer expires. A friend receiving similar calls reported her apparent success by requesting to speak with the manager and leaving a firm message - though she admitted there was dead air and no introduction to the machine, so she's not sure if she was talking to anyone or not.

When they called this morning, I answered and spoke to Stephanie, requesting to speak to her manager about these harassing phone calls. I also received dead air, spoke all the same, and concluded that she hung up on me. So I went to work. Google is wonderful.

A lot of people have similar experiences, but most of them are relieved to escape from scam artists and phishers, something of which I was never in danger, since I never had a warranty on my car for it to expire. What I want is the calls to stop. They're using my time and cell phone minutes, and are not benefiting in the slightest from bothering me.

The most helpful website I found was this blogger: Joe Levi He spent at least 30 minutes on the phone with them, wary enough to not feed them real information about his car and person. He informed them of some of the relevant federal laws, and asked them if they would be willing to comply. At first the girl said no, basically, so he offered her a second chance to comply. She eventually promised that he would be sent a copy of their no-call list policy as per federal law.

He received something else from:
Stacey R. Scales,
Paralegal, Dealer Services
100 Mall Parkway
Wentzville, Missouri 63385
phone: 1-800-649-1856
fax: 1-800-649-1719.

Also during my reasearch I ran across someone who mentioned this website: http://oneautowarranty.com/contact.html as a place where, as opposed to being sent information about the fine print of the policy, one could find out more details.

The addresses listed on that website match the one given above, and elaborate with phone numbers for various departments. I got ahold of Christina in Customer Service, who informed me that their system, contrary to their message, takes 30-45 days to remove a number from its call list. (There has also been speculation that my number must be removed one at a time from each number that has contacted me, and there are over a dozen.) I told her this was unacceptable, and she was unhelpful in offering any other solutions.

Curious about where this company got my cell phone number and those of my family, I went to the Verizon website, where they continue to say that they do not sell its customer's phone numbers without their permission. Also on their website was a piece of news concerning a lawsuit against an unknown auto warranty telemarketing firm, which had illegally falsified caller ID numbers using a computer system. There have been thousands or millions of complaints.

The article did not include contact information for similar complaints, and the number from which I am being called was not included in the suit. It may be the same company modifying their technique. In some states, and possibly on a federal level, telemarketers are required to identify themselves. The fact that this automated message does not (and the people on the other end are unwilling to give a company name as well) accounts for the company in the lawsuit being unknown. Joe the blogger deserves commendation for discovering so much.

I used a random contact for Verizon to send them an account of my experience.
Verizon,
I noticed on your news page that there has been a lawsuit against a telemarketing company that was harassing Verizon customers - a lawsuit prompted by thousands or millions of complaints from your customers. I have a similar problem, but am uncertain where to complain. The prefix for the number at which the autowarranty telemarketers have been calling my wireless phone is a 702-520-14**, which was not on the list of the lawsuit, though I presume it is the same company. I recognize that the lawsuit's grounds apply only to when the company was employing randomly generated false numbers for caller ID. Is there anything immediate I can do to end these calls? Minutes cost me money. The company, which I believe is Dealer Services out of Wentzville, MO, is harassing me by calling me everyday under false pretenses, disregarding my auto and verbal requests to be removed from their call lists, and offering me a service in which I have no interest.

Where did they get my cell phone number?

Any answers you have on what I can do, or where else to complain, would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Some website told me I could file a complaint with the FCC, so I did.
This is what I told them, among other required information (such as four representative examples of dates and times at which I received calls):

I selected the automated number to be removed from the list, and received an affirmative message.
When I received the same call for several days following, I finally tried the auto number again. Received another call that afternoon or next day, so pushed one to talk to Leah about removing my number from their list. She said she did. Received calls after that. Today 6/13 spoke to Stephanie via auto message, requested to speak to manager about harassment: she hung up the phone. Returned call to same number, received message saying they are sorry if I reached the number in error; they only purchase business numbers, if I would like my # to be removed, press 1. Pressed and received affirmative message. Called 800 number from website to speak to customer service. She quoted me 30-45 days to remove from their lists, despite info from auto system. My mom and minor brother have received the same call from same # on their wireless phones, too. We counted over a dozen # 702-520-14**


Power to the people isn't just for politics. If you have the same problem, I recommend you take similar action. My next step is also to complain to their phone company. Dad suggested swamping their phone lines, but I suspect that would be unsuccessful and very temporary. Meanwhile I can, from the testimony of Christina and the FCC, expect these daily calls to cease in about 30 days.

To God be all glory.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Word Order

Why do we say "thunder and lightning" when lightning happens first?

To God be all glory.

What's New?

The eternally frustrating question in my life, "What's new?" has an answer tonight.

Several days ago I had my mom trim my hair. Except I asked her to trim about eight inches. This, in my opinion, constitutes a haircut. For the first time in my life, my hair was getting too long for my taste. As I felt the snip of the scissors, I pictured Jo March holding the ends of her shorn hair between her fingers, and crying 'my hair.' That won't be me; nothing so drastic, I thought. After she was done, Mom showed me the inches of hair lying limp in the trashcan...

Only maybe I didn't really want so much off. At first it was blissfully out of my way. I ran my fingers through the full thickness and my arm didn't even get fully extended before the ends had run through my fingers. When I leaned over, the locks didn't automatically fall in my way.

Constantly fiddling with my hair, I'm acknowledging the change. Maybe the attachment to stroking the ends isn't mourning, but it has to be some sort of subconscious coping mechanism. Today I washed my hair, and just now I braided it. The braid is so short and even and thick even at the ends.

My consolation is that the haircut/trim must be very healthy for my hair. It's enjoying the relief from the extra weight, swinging in lusty curls down my back just to my waist. I'll be saving money on conditioner for the next few months. Most of my usual hairstyles will still be possible. And my hair grows very fast, so soon enough it will be just the right length, healthier than ever.

That's what's new.

To God be all glory.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Penelope...

with Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, and Reese Witherspoon is a really wonderful movie. It's bright and colorful, creative and meaningful, and romantic. Every character has a story, and each one changes as a result of being a part of the story. I've seen it three times. The music is wonderful, and the artistic costumes, sets, and shots are the perfect house for a whimsical story - just distant enough to shine truth upon me. The end song is by that Icelandic band: Sigur Ros; the song is Hoppipola, "hopping in puddles." Doesn't it just make you want to skip?

To God be all glory.

Questions about Music

What would you say is the definition of Christian music?

Now break that down. What is the definition of Christian?

What is the definition of music?

Do you see why the last two questions are important?

Does "Christian music" functionally (in real life) have anything to do with Christianity or music?

What place does Christian music have in your life? What place should it have? How can it be good? How can it be bad?

Can secular music target the same points?

What does Christian music have to do with worship?

To God be all glory.

PS: I was talking with some friends tonight, and one said she doesn't like worship bands. I said I don't like worship bands, or choirs, or worship leaders. Good friends that they are, they let me qualify: I actually like quite a lot of worship leaders (can't help it; they're usually creative talented people passionate about God and seeing Him glorified); I just don't like the position of worship leader/worship pastor. Case in point for the rest of this post.