Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
You might want to also tune in the following week, February 14, for the short and delightful Northanger Abbey. Give an hour and a half to giggle and sigh over the silly but likeable Catherine Moreland and her hero, Henry Tilney. See my full review here.
Also to update you on my Jane Austen movie preferences, I could not excuse myself for failing to point you to the good adaptation of Persuasion, BBC's 1971 miniseries starring Ann Firbank. It is old, but much closer to the book. Live for the moment when Mr. Elliot's notice of Anne reawakens Captain Wentworth's attention, or that letter, the perfect letter, at the end of the story.
April, 2010 - I LOVE this movie!. See my review of Emma starring Romola Garai.
To God be all glory.
A brother she had, whom she loved. A king she had, like a father to her. A people she had, who would follow her. They that went with the puissant soldier on the paths of the dead went because they would not be parted from him. She stood alone weeping as she watched him go, but he from whom she could not be parted was her uncle. Where will wanted not, her way opened. Disregarding formation, she rode close to him. In the battle she learned that what she wanted more than death, more than glory, was to preserve the beloved lives of her friends. Alone she stood, facing death, shielding self and kindred from his icy blows.
And then she wasn’t alone. Her little companion, brought out of sympathy, stood up and began a change in the woman. Valiantly, for no other reason than that the desperate woman should not die alone, he reached up to stab at death. Together they brought him down. Together these two unlikely heroes suffered, both sleeping in the triage houses in the city. More came, not for glory or to make whole again their human weapons. The healers came to restore the broken, to call back the fevered wanderers.
She woke in the middle of a journey. No healer had she been; her hand ungentle, left to fight its own battles. And here at last beside her, appointed also to stay at home, stood a man who could outmatch any of the revered men of valor she had known. Yet he spoke not of the love of fighting, but of love for that he defended. He did not love being a ruler, but loved that which he stewarded. His own glory meant nothing, but he wanted to do what was wise and brave and therefore praiseworthy. He would forfeit his life to keep an oath.
Her reflection stood before her, cast in new light. She also fought, stewarded, took pity, and offered her life. Now she saw what it was for, and it went deeper than opposing the things she feared and hated. As the days passed, the man grew to love her. No more did she miss someone to stand for her, to speak for her, to plan for what pleased her. He was there. And her heart changed, or else at last she understood it: to be a shieldmaiden no more, but to be a healer and lover of all things that grow. Turned from the dark battle and dirges to the life that had been crumbling, she found peace and love and bliss.
To God be all glory.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
This is a short book that summarizes some of Dr. Morris’ favorite topics, from Creation to early post-Flood history through end times and the New Earth. His focus is to describe the way that God uses nations, and how He determines when they will be succeeded.
Nations began, says the biblical scholar and scientist, after the flood when God instituted human government in the form of capital punishment. Nimrod is supposed to be the first dictator. His rebellion against God in the form of building Babel (an extra-biblical story) brought God’s intervention in languages, causing the dispersion of nations. One of the most interesting parts of the book is Henry Morris’ speculations on the descent of modern nations from the Table of Nations in Genesis.
God selected Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be the forefathers of the nation set apart to deliver God’s truth to the world. This country, Israel, gets a lot of focus in the Bible and in God and the Nations. Their time is not ended, but suspended until the end times. Mentioned is the Daniel 9 prophecy of 70 weeks. Someday in the future a majority of the people of Israel will embrace Jesus as the Messiah and take up their role of proclaiming their King to the world.
In the Millenial reign of Jesus Christ, there will be nations, presumably made up of survivors of the Great Tribulation. These nations will gather again to rebel against the King of Kings at the end of the 1,000 year kingdom, to be finally defeated. This final victory ushers in the New Heaven and New Earth, in which there will, again, be “nations,” bringing their wealth and glory into the New Jerusalem.
According to Dr. Morris, there are several measuring sticks by which God judges existing nations. First of all is the dominion mandate, God’s command to Adam and Eve (repeated to Noah and his sons) to fill the earth and subdue it. This includes both population increase and dispersion, as well as technological advancements. Secondly, nations are judged by how they treat God’s Chosen People, Israel. Finally, the author suggests that the prosperity of a nation is dependent on its response to the Great Commission from Jesus to “Go into all the world and make disciples.”
Though I am a fan of Dr. Morris, this one of his last books was disappointing. If a reader was unfamiliar with fundamentalist Christian ideas, this would be an intriguing introduction. But there was no new information presented. Neither was this book a Bible study on the doctrine of nations. In fact, the times the Bible was quoted, the conclusions Henry Morris made did not seem well-founded. There is a lot of repetition in the book, and speculation and assumption. I was hoping for more.
To God be all glory.
Monday, December 14, 2009
A single person is in the perfect position to start his own business. They have free time, small expenses, and no responsibility to be successful. Starting a business is a learning experience, and if the business takes off, a person has an independent income for as long as they want to continue the business. If things don’t work out, a person with the initiative to start their own business has the coveted work ethic employers are looking for, and shouldn’t have trouble finding a job. Or, if no new responsibilities or opportunities arise, at this stage of life one might try again, starting a second or third business.
Commonly, unmarried Christians will take advantage of their freedom, and explore the possibility of a call to singleness, through missions. Week-long trips, month-long, or even longer missions are uniquely suited to the unattached. They provide great spiritual formation, opportunities to build friendships with likeminded people, and possible paths for the future. World travel is greatly encouraged, but it can be argued that mission trips do a better job exposing young people to real life in other cultures than tourism does.
Money being freer during single years, I have invested a lot in building a library. The contents are for rereading, referencing, sharing, teaching, and – ahem – reading for the very first time. The books on the shelves encourage and challenge me, teach me and inspire me. Some of the books are almost a part of me. Time is also freer at this stage of my life, so I have done a lot of reading – something I anticipate tapering down when, God willing, I start a family.
Staying up late into the night.
Doing devotions before bed.
Not cleaning my room.
Serving friends through babysitting, fellowship, home improvement.
Building relationships with siblings and parents.
To God be all glory.
Modesty is a word that, in Christian circles, usually refers to the hot topic of dress codes. Should women wear swimsuits in public? What is appropriate for church? For everyday? Is only the motive important, or is there an absolute line that should be drawn: you can see this much skin and no further, this much shape and no more?
But modesty originally had more to do with attitude than appearance. The word is often applied to what we wear, which is a good use for the term. But have you not heard someone responding to a denied compliment: “Don’t be so modest!” In this sense, modesty is a synonym for humility. We get an idea of not praising oneself. Do not desire the praise of men, but certainly don’t praise yourself before men. Let your own works praise you in the gates…
Attention is a big theme of modesty. Are you demanding attention? It is not modest to dress so provocatively that others must notice you. Nor is it modest to talk often of yourself, whether what you tell is good or bad, true or false. To be modest is not the same as being shy. Modest people do not need to hide in the shadows or refuse compliments. They are gracious and grateful, cheerful and others-centered.
Today I am convicted by a different form of modesty that I had never considered. Complaining. First of all, the Bible specifically condemns grumbling, so that should be sufficient reason not to do it. Secondly, being around complaining people is unpleasant. And it brings me down. Focusing on the bad is the opposite of thankfulness and contentment. Speaking about it is the opposite of modesty.
Frustrated with my displays of discontent recently, I examined what was driving me to complain. And I realized that I complain for something to say and so that people will listen to me and notice me and be forced into my concerns. Complaining is different from asking for help. My whining at times has been a plea for help, but too proud to be expressed. There is a short road, then, from the attention-grabbing complaint to pride and bitterness and being quite rude to people.
Love is not rude. It is not self-seeking or puffed up. Love is modest. I am called to love my neighbor. I serve a God jealous for glory, who resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Grace is something I could use a lot of.
In order to pursue God’s glory and loving my neighbors, I am going to:
- Get someone to smack me when I complain.
- Practice asking for help.
- Ask questions about other peoples’ lives rather than ranting about my own.
- Practice thankfulness.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Before I had real money to speak of, I decided to budget when I played Monopoly. I kept a ledger and gave myself a $200 allowance each time around the board. The allowance rolled over, but this budget was not the best strategy for Monopoly. Property is, as you might expect, key in Monopoly. (Allowances reduce spending power when the most properties are available.) In Monopoly, finishing the game is important. Long term strategy requires that you invest cash now in the future, planning to finish the game as the only player not bankrupt. Stopping earlier cheats the strategists.
Learning financial principles and investment strategies can be useful, and Monopoly is a versatile tool. We know there are versions of Monopoly for all sorts of things, changing the wording and the pictures on a board to match a theme: Golf, Disney, Dinosaurs. Some of these, like Lord of the Rings Monopoly, even offer optional new rules. Inspired by these game-twisting ideas, my friends and I have come up with some of our own new rules. Far different than "house rules" (using Free Parking as a lottery), these are made to challenge the way you strategize, and how you think about capital, commerce, and taxes.
Here are a few Alternate Monopoly Rules. -- All games must be finished. Early terminations necessarily end in a draw, with no winners. Versions are meant to be played one at a time, and not combined. However, feel free to modify these rules for your own use. Unless stated, all rules are as printed in the Monopoly Rule Book. As a general rule for inventing alternate rules, keep things simple.
Every time you pass Free Parking, your cash will be assessed and 25% will be returned to the Bank. Properties will not be assessed. Your salary upon passing GO remains the same.
Ultimate Portal (Aughenbaughs)
Use 2 Monopoly Boards, preferably with slightly different cards (vintage, specialized version). Landing directly on Go on either board shoots you to the opposite board. Also switch the chance and community chest cards from the two versions. When a Chance or Community Chest card tells you to go somewhere, go there on the opposite board. Everyone starts on one board.
Swiss Bank Account
Play like Ultimate Portal with these additions.
Any cash COLLECTED while your piece is on the SECOND board goes into a Swiss Bank Account. The player may take cash out of that account at any time, but cannot arbitrarily add money. Income Taxes and Bankruptcies cannot touch any cash in the Swiss Bank Account. It stays there through the whole game, even if you are bankrupted in the main game. At the end of the game (when only one player in the main game has any money), the initial winner adds his main game money to his Swiss bank account. If his total is greater than the balances of his opponents in their Swiss bank accounts, he wins.
When you roll three doubles, get a “Go directly to Jail” card, or land on the “go to jail” space on the board, if you do not have a “Get out of Jail free” card with which to bribe the judge, your game is over. You are capitally executed and your assets are returned to the bank in full.
All taxes are doubled.
If you land directly on any of the four corner squares, you have been drafted. Roll the dice to determine your fate:
1-Tour of Duty. Sit out 3 turns. Come back (to GO) exempt from future service and any taxes.
2-War Hero. Same as 1 with $1,000 bonus.
3-Casualty. Game over. Return assets to the Bank.
4-Draft Dodger. Sit out 3 turns. Resume play from GO. If on any turn afterwards you land on a street property, you may buy any unowned properties in that color group. If you subsequently land on Go to Jail or get a Go to Jail Card, your game is over.
5-Amputee. Sit out 1 turn. Resume play from GO. All future turns, roll both dice and divide by 2, rounding up.
6-Did not Qualify. Proceed with game as normal.
At the start of the game all properties are shuffled and dealt to the players. All rents are the prices posted on Indiana. Chance and Community Chest cards that involve spending or receiving money apply to everyone.
If at any time the least propertied player has 3 or more properties LESS than the next richest player, EVERY player must return his lowest-priced property to the bank.
Pay taxes and fees to Free Parking. If anyone lands on Free Parking, the pot is divided evenly among all players, with remainders going to the player who landed on the space.
Every time a 7 is rolled, all mortgages are automatically forgiven. Every 7th time around the board, all rent is free.
Every player must spend money on each trip around the board. If he completes a circuit without spending money, he must pay a fine of $50 to the bank.
If you own a mortgaged property, you do not have to pay any taxes.
If a player lands on a mortgaged property, he may pay 110% of the mortgage value to the bank and acquire that property.
Taxes and jail are cancelled.
Make up your own rent. If you own a property, you have 2 options. You can charge a tenant the printed rent. Or you can make up your own rent, at which point you have a shoot-off with the tenant. You each roll one dice. The higher number wins. Winner (landlord or tenant) collects the made-up rent from the loser. In case of a tie, both players pay printed rent to the bank.
Put a sticker on a community chest card, and one on a chance card. Shuffle both decks (separately). Play Monopoly as usual. When the special Chance card is drawn, 2012 has arrived; the End of the World has come. Clean up the game. There are no winners. If you draw the special Community Chest card, you can play it as written. Or you can keep it as a Cycle Card. If the holder of that card so chooses at the End of the World, he can play his card. Instead of the world ending, it merely begins a new cycle or phase. The game is still over, but assets are summed and a winner is declared.
Whenever doubles are rolled, players keep their same pieces but all assets shift clockwise (to the left). No new rents are paid as a result of the exchange until the next turn.
Optional: Each player has the option at the beginning of the game of receiving a reduced Go paycheck of $150 as insurance against Utilities and Railroads. The extra $50 goes into the middle of the board and pays Utilities and Railroads charges unless there is no money in the pot, at which point the rents/fees are still charged at $0.
When someone rolls a 12, he becomes Mayor. He holds the special mayor piece. Property improvements (houses and hotels) are half price to him while he holds that piece. Mayors are exempt for the duration of their term from property assessment cards. The next person to roll a 12 is elected the new Mayor. No special privileges are retroactive.
Feel free to share your own special rules in the comment section!
To God be all glory.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
We could have health insurance, an investment to pay large, unexpected expenses if they come up. There are a few plans that cover only catastrophic needs. These are not the kind provided by employers in our market today. Of course, if employers want to pay for preventive healthcare and common doctor’s visits, that is their competitive option. It shouldn’t be mandatory, any more than a salary cap should be mandatory.
Employers could also provide grocery coverage: the planned, necessary expense; for each employee and his family. The price of food would go up, and options would go down, and companies would do better to just pay well for their labor, letting the consumers determine the demand and value of food. Consumers are less extravagant, more cost-conscious, and diligent to hold providers accountable for their products and services.
What makes us think that paying rows of middle men for our health care payment system will result in saving money or improving care? Are these middle men doing something I couldn’t do myself? No – they’re distancing me from information about my options in health care and the shocking costs of some procedures.
My solution is this:
1. Do not require an employer to do anything for his employee that
does not concern his job: cover injuries caused by the job and keep work
2. Also eliminate what is essentially a tax break on the benefits
provided by employers. If wages are going to be taxed, so should the
health care benefits and retirement plans.
3. Do not require insurance companies to have a minimum amount of
coverage, nor any specifics. Instead, enforce contract law: openness of
the agreement being made and stiff penalties for either party dropping their end
of the bargain.
4. Do not require individuals to have health insurance of any
kind. If the problem is in collecting payment for emergency services
rendered to the poor, this needs to be addressed in a wider question of
bankruptcy laws and debt repayment. Leaving individuals to the option of
health insurance reduces the weight on the health care industry by discouraging
unnecessary doctor’s visits and encouraging preventative lifestyles.
5. Allow increased competition by revoking the state line
restrictions on insurance policy sales.
6. Reduce the cost to healthcare professionals by reforming the
system that allows doctors to be sued without probable cause. Our economy
and government is almost completely biased against businesses in favor of
consumers. The customer is not always right; sometimes the “customer” is
To God be all glory.
Friday, December 04, 2009
My brother summed their plight with the poetic description: He laid a gift on the moment's grave.
Tonight I was reading the dictionary - not just to read it, but as one does when one is trying to get somewhere in those pages, and must journey through dangers and distractions like those of Odysseus. (I'm such a terrible speller of Greek; is that right? I am only newly acquainted even with the story of Odysseus, and most disappointed in his character.) My brother is reading The Federalist Papers, great essays on government and history and economics, which employed the word "temerity." It happens to mean foolhardy or brash, but before I discovered this, I saw a picture.
To be honest, I almost always get caught by pictures, and carried away by root words. That is the way dictionaries have with me. This picture was of a little hog-like rodent, and the caption was like a Boggle-champion's dream: tenrec. How simple. How very likely to occur in Boggle. How unheard of. Honestly. Have you ever heard of a tenrec?
No? Well, I suppose that is to be forgiven, since it, like so many interesting creatures, makes its home on Madagascar. The tenrec is a hedgehog-like mammal that eats insects (thus the nose looking like a pig's, though it could have looked like an anteater and made itself more obvious). Our dictionary's entry reported that this beast inhabits Madagascar and the adjacent islands.
Adjacent Islands!!! Who ever thought? Almost an oximoron! I mean, we're not talking about islands connected at low tide but not at high. Maybe they were connected during the ice age. But then they weren't islandS; they were AN island. So my meticulous brother commanded (he's the one with leadership skills) that I look up "adjacent." And it turns out that "adjacent" has as its first definition, "to lie near." Still, I think that "Adjacent Islands" would be a great title for something. The image is so poetic.
Movies are almost always on in my house, maybe coming from so many of us enjoying long movies, or maybe because there are so many of us who think we need our own turn at choosing the program. Tonight there was yet another movie, and it was simply horrible, because the message of the movie was that when grown ups lie to children, the children owe it to them to sort of believe, because they want to believe, and miracles happen when you believe... The end of the movie had very little to do with this subject, as it consisted of the main little girl receiving three separate pairs of roller skates for Christmas. The last pair came from a blind man. And the little girl responded that she had a gift for him, her arms now full of metal and wheels. The most natural thing to expect her to give was a pair of roller skates. But then we pictured a blind man skating down the road... Don't give such gifts to blind men!
Oh! I signed up for all sorts of restaurant email updates, and have coupons and freebies rolling in! Mostly they just want to give me something free with purchase, but I have plenty of choices! There is something so pleasing about having a coupon in one's purse. Tonight I used a Kohl's discount they sent in the mail, and saved a whole $1.50! The best sign-up's so far are Coldstone Creamery, Red Robins, and Lone Star Steakhouse. Wendy's gives a coupon for a dollar off. But I'm still waiting to see what happens on my birthday. I'll let you know.
The movie from last night (Wednesday) was Sense and Sensibility. There are 4 versions I know anything about. The earliest was made by BBC in the 70's or 80's, and according to my brother, who picked it up by mistake, is acted by robots who sit on teeter-totters sideways trying to converse with each other. Next in importance/quality is a strange version made in India. In fact, I believe the English is dubbed. Not anywhere near as good as India's Bride and Prejudice. Now we come to the competitors. In the 90's, Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay for Sense and Sensibility. She also starred as Elinor. Alongside her were Hugh Grant and Kate Winslet, the latter reporting that she scarcely had to act; her personality was so much like Marianne Dashwood that Kate simply had to play the part. That movie is beautiful. Funny. Sad. Thoughtful. With the exultantly happy ending highlighted by the perfect score. I have my objections. Hugh Grant - he's not handsome, and his stuttering is annoying. Colonel Brandon (I should know his name) isn't very handsome, either, and Jane Austen movies aren't known for their realism, so we should aim for attractive. Finally, the version we were watching is the latest BBC adaptation, made in 2008. It is about 3 hours long, with pretty scenery. Other than that, the characters are poor imitators of the really good Sense and Sensibility. Andrew Davies failed to convey emotion with his screenplay, and I don't think most of the actors understood their characters. The movie has its moments of interest. Anyway, the actor who plays Colonel Brandon was recognized by all watching, but we couldn't place him, so I looked him up. IMDB is great! I have been spending a lot of time there lately, for one reason or another. The actor is David Morrissey, whom I recognized from The Water Horse. Ah, the relief of answers!
Have a good night. Don't waste your day.
To God be all glory.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
If the friend invites me in, I can see how they live when they aren’t expecting company. I know that they’re letting me inside their everyday lives. And much depends on how I handle myself as a guest. Sometimes I go bearing gifts. Complimenting artwork, furniture, or the atmosphere is great – if I mean it! Whatever the reception, I try not to overstay my welcome or be too much of a burden. For the first attempt, it can be useful to drop by between appointments, so that the potential length of my visit is established.
Why does it work? Friendships that revolve around real life go deeper. They’re more useful, as they turn into a sort of discipleship or accountability. I end up being friends with whole families instead of just one person. There is no pretension when my friends don’t have time to straighten up or dress up. Visits happen more often if you just go for it than if you try to work out schedules. Frequency goes a long way in building relationships.
Of course I can’t pick on the same friend too often. I wouldn’t drop by unannounced more than twice a month. One must be careful not to burden the amount of supper set on the table by stretching it to feed an extra, especially if the friend is watching their budget. Also women, at least, tend to neglect their work if they have a friend nearby. Discourage this. Try offering to help – but not in a way that implies you’re uncomfortable! Waiting around for a friend to arrive if they were not home initially is not recommended. I do sometimes call ahead about 5 minutes. One of my friends has been known to greet unexpected visitors with a knife behind her back!
The success of this method in building close friendships is amazing. Almost every friend since high school has been subjected to random visits. My first try lived down the street, so before I could drive, I walked there. Now she has moved but I have a car, and I drop in and help her fold laundry and sweep her kitchen, making dinner together for her family. My younger friends get occasionally kidnapped to the mall, used bookstore, or Coldstone Creamery. One of my most recent first-visits included a loaf of homemade bread, and resulted in holding her newborn all afternoon while discussing theology, family, books and movies. “Let’s be good friends,” she says. Which is exactly what I mean to do.
To God be all glory.
To God be all glory.