Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Lament

The weekend before Christmas I attended a holiday concert.  The band leader introduced one song, sung in another language, saying it was so sad he didn’t want to tell us what it was about.  My spirit breathed in the still moment, lullaby melody haunting the sanctuary.  It felt so right, that amid the songs of joy and hope and triumph there would be a few that take time to sense the sadness. 

A little girl looks at the wise men figurines from the nativity set, and tells me part of the Christmas story.  She says that the mean king wanted the kings from the East to tell him if they found the star-heralded infant they sought.  He didn’t want to worship the Boy, like he said; he wanted to assassinate Him.  And my little friend and I keep talking about the story, part we usually leave out of advent calendars and candlelight services: that though God’s plan went forward in the family exiled to Egypt, many little boys were slaughtered by Herod.  As prophesied in Jeremiah, Rachel wept for her children, and would not be comforted. 

There is hope.  And hope is terribly needed.  The world is dark.  Kings kill.  Babies die.  Sin persists.  Faith wanes.  The sadness is real.  And hope belongs there.  It doesn’t erase the pain; it sits with it in the dust, and then raises it up. 

Jesus weeps outside his friend’s tomb, before He calls him forth. 

I spend hours searching for Christmas laments.  I am intentional about seizing the wonder and beauty and joy arising from this Light come into the world.  But I relate to the burdening grief in this fallen place, sympathize with a bereft woman keening beneath the Christmas stars in Bethlehem.  Dear friends suffer also, personal events in their own stories not so far away as the homeland of David.  In Christmas there is a place for them, a place even for their aching.  I want to look at it.  I want to seek the whole truth unshrinking, though on my weary knees - and see the God who belongs there, too. 

To God be all glory.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Etymologies 2013

I don't know how "tan" developed into "toe" in the name for that plant you kiss under at Christmastide.  But in Old English, "mistletoe" was spelled mistiltan from the root "missel", basil or the plant we know as mistletoe, and "tan", which means twig.

Speaking of "Christmastide", the second half of that compound word is something we usually associate with the ocean and beach.  "Tide" arrived in English, however, associated with time.  In Old English it meant a period of time, from an ancient root having to do with dividing out a portion.  By the 1300's we were using it to refer to the water levels on the shore, from the idea of "high tide" and "low tide" being at specific times.  Old English had the word heahtid but at that time, it would have referred to a day like Christmas, "festival, high day".

"Tidings", as in "tidings of comfort and joy", has a long history, early diverging from the word "tide".  For a thousand years it has meant an announcement of an event.  It comes from the Old Norse adjective 
tiĆ°r, "occurring".  Going just a bit further back, this word joins with the roots of "tide".  

The debate rages about celebrating Christ's birth near the solstice, when the Northern hemisphere has the shortest day of the year.  Pagan observances of this event involved the expectation for the winter to end and life to begin again.  Israel, where Jesus was born, is in the Northern Hemisphere, but that is no proof that his birthday was in that season.  Regardless of the actual event, we have placed Christmas at what is considered by astronomers to be the beginning of winter.  In Celtic nations and Scandinavia, the solstice is considered to be "midwinter", an interpretation I prefer, agreeing with meteorologists' definition of winter as the coldest months, normally all of December, January, and February here on this half of the globe.  Etymologists don't know where the word "winter" comes from, but they have a couple ideas.  One is that it comes from a word for "wet", *wed-/*wod-/*ud-which makes sense in more temperate climates.  Or it might be from the word for "white", *wind-.  Obviously this latter is more relevant to the ice and snow of the cold season.  

"In the Bleak Midwinter" is a Christmas carol written by Christina Rosetti by 1872, celebrating Jesus' humbling Himself:

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;

The word "bleak" meant "pale, whitish, blonde" in the Old Norse whence it arrived in English circa A.D. 1300.  Before that, the words origins meant "shining, white" or "burning".  The same root gave us the word "black", from the color things get after they have been burned.  By 1530 it also carried the meaning "windswept, bare".

Such conditions alongside the green of fir trees, or the geothermal fields of Iceland are signature beauties of Scandinavia, and even the northeast coast of the United States.  There is something wonderful about life continuing amid hostility, be it from weather, self-righteous religious leaders, or power-paranoid kings like Herod.  Winters, and birthing in a stable when You're really King of Heaven and Earth, can be harsh.  "Stark" is an Old English word stearc with an extensive definition: "stiff, strong, rigid, obstinate; stern, severe, hard; harsh, rough, violent".  One of the things I love about places like Iceland is how the difficult climate and landscape have revealed the stern character of the people who live there.  But how do you embrace strength in hardship without losing tenderness and humility?

Jesus, the mighty Son of God, gave us an example when He was born a needy babe, pursuing with perfect resolution His cause of love, though He walked through the wilderness and built a whip to drive money-changers out of the temple, and though He submitted Himself to face a severe death by crucifixion.  "Babe" was likely imitative of infants babbling, though in most cases this became a word like baba for "peasant woman" or "mother", as cites John Audelay, c. 1426: "Crist crid in cradil, 'Moder, Baba!' "  Old English used the word "child" to refer to infants.  It seems originally to refer to the relation between the little one and his or her mother, as the "fruit of her womb".  The significance of the mother's role in bearing the child is also seen in surviving Scottish "bairn", Old English bearn, from a root meaning "carry".  

"Incarnation" is not an English word; it has it's roots in Latin: caro or carnis means "flesh", so it is litearally "being made flesh".  This is the mysterious truth described by CS Lewis: 

...the Christian story is precisely the story of one grand miracle, the Christian assertion being that what is beyond all space and time, what is uncreated, eternal, came into nature, into human nature, descended into His own universe, and rose again, bringing nature up with Him. 

and by the Apostle Paul

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

To God be all glory.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The History of Answers, Fixes, and Solutions

I was thinking about our term in simple math for the part of an equation following the equals sign.  Generally, we call this the “answer”.  In specific cases, it is the “solution”.  Somewhat familiar with alternate definitions, I began to wonder how these words came to be applied to math.  Here is what I found from the Online Etymology Dictionary about their origins. 

Answer – is an Old English word meaning “swearing against”, suggesting a sworn statement rebutting a charge.  As early as the 1300’s it was used to mean an answer to a problem as well. 

Solution – In the late 1300’s we received this word from the French – or possibly directly from Latin, solutionem “a loosening or unfastening”.  

Remedy – comes from a Latin root meaning literally “to heal” with the “intensive prefix” re- , meaning “fully” or “again.  This definition, “make whole” is a common definition of old words for “heal, cure”, along with “tend to” or “conjure” or “ward off, defend”. 

Cure –  *kois- is the suggested Proto-Indo-European root, meaning “be concerned”.  In the late 1300’s it began to be used for “take care of”. 

Aid – came to English around 1400 by way of the French, originally from the Latin adiutus “give help to”. 

Help – is the Old English helpan “help, support, succor; benefit, do good to; cure, amend”.  Our modern word actually sounds more like the Proto-Indo-European root, *kelb-.

Amend – The verb form is now generally supplanted by the shortened form, mend.  But this word has been in English since the 1200’s, “to free from faults, rectify”.  It comes from the Latin prefix ex- and Proto-Indo-European root *mend- “physical defect, fault”.   

Fix – is another word likely originating in the Proto-Indo-European, the root *dhigw- “to stick, to fix”.  The sense of “repair” dates from 1737. 

Antidote – comes ultimately from the Greek antidoton, literally “given against”. 

To God be all glory.  

Thursday, August 01, 2013

A Very True Story

She stood on the edge, one foot raised above the rug.  That rug captivated her attention so that she first stared, turned shyly away, then went back to watching it ponderously.  She had to choose, and she couldn't forget that.  But once she chose, she couldn't know what the consequences would be.  She lowered her foot, close to taking the step, then drew back.

Daddy had made her a deal: If she stepped on the rug, she might get pinched - or she might get candy - or she might get both.  Without the step, no candy, for sure!

Her daddy loved her.  Whether pinch or candy, he would be doing good to her.  She trusted him, but she still hesitated.

She tried to figure it all out.  What did "might" mean?  Was Daddy making a rule with a punishment for breaking it - or was this different somehow?  Would Daddy pinch hard?  How much freedom did she have?  Could she go away and do something else (as if she'd be able to long forget 'the deal')?  Was the whole rug implied?  She wanted to be sure she wasn't inadvertently getting herself into the risk.

She climbed on the couch beside the rug.  She sat on Daddy's lap for a while, held from the portentous tapestry by his strong arms until she was ready to make her choice.  Then she was back on the edge, testing whether her chances were better if she made a covert move towards touching it.

Daddy spoke, "If you step, I don't want you to do it timidly.  I want you to run out onto the rug and say, 'I'm touching it!' "

A little more consideration, and there she was - feet across the rug, yelling like her daddy said.

He caught her up in his arms and gave her his choice.

To God be all glory.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Colorado Abortion Laws

Under the Colorado government heretofore, the constitutional rights of unborn persons in Colorado have not been upheld.  

Colorado State Constitution: Article II, Section 3: Inalienable Rights

All persons have certain natural, essential and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; and of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.

Colorado State Constitution: Article II, Section 6: Equality of Justice

Courts of justice shall be open to every person, and a speedy remedy afforded for every injury to person, property or character; and right and justice should be administered without sale, denial or delay.

Colorado State Constitution: Article II, Section 25: Due Process of Law

No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.

According to the definition for "person" found in Part 1, homicide specifically does not refer to unborn children in Colorado at this time.  Therefore they are not protected under criminal law in Colorado.  This could potentially be changed with a redefinition of the word "person".  

Colorado Revised Statutes: Title 18, Article 3, Part 1: Homicide and Related Offenses
18-3-101. Definitions
As used in this part 1, unless the context otherwise requires:(1) "Homicide" means the killing of a person by another.
(2) "Person", when referring to the victim of a homicide, means a human being who had been born and was alive at the time of the homicidal act.

18-3-102. Murder in the first degree
(1) A person commits the crime of murder in the first degree if:
(a) After deliberation and with the intent to cause the death of a person other than himself, he causes the death of that person or of another person; or
(f) The person knowingly causes the death of a child who has not yet attained twelve years of age and the person committing the offense is one in a position of trust with respect to the victim.

(4) The statutory privilege between patient and physician and between husband and wife shall not be available for excluding or refusing testimony in any prosecution for the crime of murder in the first degree as described in paragraph (f) of subsection (1) of this section.

18-3-104. Manslaughter
(1) A person commits the crime of manslaughter if:(a) Such person recklessly causes the death of another person; or

18-3-106. Vehicular homicide
(1) (a) If a person operates or drives a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, and such conduct is the proximate cause of the death of another, such person commits vehicular homicide.(b) (I) If a person operates or drives a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs, and such conduct is the proximate cause of the death of another, such person commits vehicular homicide. This is a strict liability crime.


There is a law known as the Wrongful Death Act that guarantees the right of heirs or close family to receive damages for deaths resulting from negligence:

Colorado Revised Statutes: Title 13, Article 21, Part 2: Damages for Death by Negligence
13-21-201. Damages for death
(1) When any person dies from any injury resulting from or occasioned by the negligence, unskillfulness, or criminal intent of any officer, agent, servant, or employee while running, conducting, or managing any locomotive, car, or train of cars, or of any driver of any coach or other conveyance operated for the purpose of carrying either freight or passengers for hire while in charge of the same as a driver, and when any passenger dies from an injury resulting from or occasioned by any defect or insufficiency in any railroad or any part thereof, or in any locomotive or car, or other conveyance operated for the purpose of carrying either freight or passengers for hire, the corporation or individuals in whose employ any such officer, agent, servant, employee, master, pilot, engineer, or driver is at the time such injury is committed, or who owns any such railroad, locomotive, car, or other conveyance operated for the purpose of carrying either freight or passengers for hire at the time any such injury is received, and resulting from or occasioned by the defect or insufficiency above described shall forfeit and pay for every person and passenger so injured the sum of not exceeding ten thousand dollars and not less than three thousand dollars, which may be sued for and recovered:
(c) (I) If the deceased is an unmarried minor without descendants or an unmarried adult without descendants and without a designated beneficiary pursuant to article 22 of title 15, C.R.S., by the father or mother who may join in the suit. Except as provided in subparagraphs (II) and (III) of this paragraph (c), the father and mother shall have an equal interest in the judgment, or if either of them is dead, then the surviving parent shall have an exclusive interest in the judgment.

13-21-202. Action notwithstanding death
When the death of a person is caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another, and the act, neglect, or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, then, and in every such case, the person who or the corporation which would have been liable, if death had not ensued, shall be liable in an action for damages notwithstanding the death of the party injured.


Currently there is a proposed amendment to the Colorado Constitution, that if the petition process is successful, would be on the Colorado ballot in 2014.  It is meant to apply the protections and justice for "persons" in the Colorado Criminal Code (all of Title 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes) and in the "Wrongful Death Act" which is C.R.S. Title 13, Article 21, Part 2.  The wording of the amendment, known as the Brady Amendment, is: 
In the interest of the protection of pregnant mothers and their unborn children from criminal offenses and negligent and wrongful acts, the words “person” and “child” in the Colorado Criminal Code and the Colorado Wrongful Death Act must include unborn human beings.


Until 2013, there were statutes on the Colorado books restricting abortion (though some have been ruled unconstitutional), many of which have been repealed by a bill signed into law on June 5 this year.  This law is very similar to the stated intentions of the Brady Amendment in giving rights of damages to families of unborn children killed through negligence.  In other respects its intentions are directly opposed to the equal justice goals of the personhood-like Brady Amendment.  July 1, 2013, the law so far denoted by "H.B. 13-1154" took effect.  It is summarized on the official state web page

H.B. 13-1154 Crimes against pregnant women - unlawful termination of a pregnancy - repeal criminal abortion statutes - appropriations. 
The act creates a new article for offenses against pregnant women. The new offenses are unlawful termination of a pregnancy in the first degree, unlawful termination of a pregnancy in the second degree, unlawful termination of a pregnancy in the third degree, unlawful termination of a pregnancy in the fourth degree, vehicular unlawful termination of a pregnancy, aggravated vehicular unlawful termination of a pregnancy, and careless driving resulting in unlawful termination of a pregnancy. The act excludes from prosecution medical care for which the mother provided consent. The act does not confer the status of "person" upon a human embryo, fetus, or unborn child at any stage of development prior to live birth. The act repeals the criminal abortion statutes. The act makes the required 5-year statutory appropriation as required by section 2-2-703, Colorado Revised Statutes. 

APPROVED by Governor June 5, 2013 EFFECTIVE July 1, 2013

To read the full text of this new law, you can go to the Colorado legislature's website

Particularly relevant to abortion are these parts: 
HB13-1154 Section 1:
(i) Additionally, nothing in this act shall be construed to permit the imposition of criminal penalties against a woman for actions she takes that result in the termination of her pregnancy; and
(j) Finally, nothing in this act shall be construed to permit the imposition of criminal penalties against a health care provider engaged in providing health care services to a patient.

C.R.S. 18-3.5-101: Definitions


18-3.5-102. Exclusions

18-3.5-111. Construction

HB13-1154 SECTION 3: In Colorado Revised Statutes, repeal part 1 of article 6 of title 18, 12-32-107 (3) (m), 12-36-117 (1) (b), 25-1-1202 (1) (ee), and 30-10-606 (1) (d).

[See the abortion-relevant parts of these laws and links to them in the next section of this post.] 

13-22-105. Minors - birth control services rendered by physicians
Except as otherwise provided in part 1 of article 6 of title 18, C.R.S., Birth control procedures, supplies, and information may be furnished by physicians licensed under article 36 of title 12, C.R.S., to any minor who is pregnant, or a parent, or married, or who has the consent of his parent or legal guardian, or who has been referred for such services by another physician, a clergyman, a family planning clinic, a school or institution of higher education, or any agency or instrumentality of this state or any subdivision thereof, or who requests and is in need of birth control procedures, supplies, or information.


The laws repealed in the preceding 2013 law include: 
Colorado Revised Statutes: 
18-6-101. Definitions
18-6-102. Criminal abortion
(1) Any person who intentionally ends or causes to be ended the pregnancy of a woman by any means other than justified medical termination or birth commits criminal abortion.

18-6-103. Pretended criminal abortion
18-6-104. Failure to comply
18-6-105. Distributing abortifacients

12-32-107. Issuance, revocation, or suspension of license - probation - immunity in professional review

(3) "Unprofessional conduct" as used in this article means:
(m) Procuring, or aiding or abetting in procuring, criminal abortion;
12-36-117. Unprofessional conduct
(1) "Unprofessional conduct" as used in this article means:
(b) Procuring, or aiding or abetting in procuring, criminal abortion;

25-1-1202. Index of statutory sections regarding medical record confidentiality and health information
(1) Statutory provisions concerning policies, procedures, and references to the release, sharing, and use of medical records and health information include the following:
(ee) Sections 18-6-101 to 18-6-104 C.R.S., concerning a justified medical termination of pregnancy;

30-10-606. Coroner - inquiry - grounds - postmortem - jury - certificate of death
(1) The coroner shall immediately notify the district attorney, proceed to view the body, and make all proper inquiry respecting the cause and manner of death of any person in his jurisdiction who has died under any of the following circumstances:
(d) From criminal abortion, including any situation where such abortion may have been self-induced;

All of those laws were repealed by the 2013 Colorado legislature.  


In 2003 a similar law was passed, focusing on "unlawful termination of a pregnancy."  It was known as an "unborn victims of violence act", and it actually strengthened the legality of abortion in the state, by including professional medical and surgical abortions in the specification of which terminations of pregnancy are legal:
Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 18, Article 3.5: Unlawful Termination of Pregnancy
18-3.5-101. Unlawful termination of pregnancy
(1) A person commits the offense of unlawful termination of a pregnancy if, with intent to terminate unlawfully the pregnancy of another person, the person unlawfully terminates the other person's pregnancy.

18-3.5-102. Exclusions
Nothing in this article shall permit the prosecution of a person for providing medical treatment, including but not limited to an abortion, in utero treatment, or treatment resulting in live birth, to a pregnant woman for which the consent of the pregnant woman, or a person authorized by law to act on her behalf, has been obtained or for which consent is implied by law.


Other parts of the Colorado Revised Statutes that apply to abortion include: 
Colorado Revised Statutes: Title 12, Article 37.5: Colorado Parental Notification Act
(1) The people of the state of Colorado, pursuant to the powers reserved to them in Article V of the Constitution of the state of Colorado, declare that family life and the preservation of the traditional family unit are of vital importance to the continuation of an orderly society; that the rights of parents to rear and nurture their children during their formative years and to be involved in all decisions of importance affecting such minor children should be protected and encouraged, especially as such parental involvement relates to the pregnancy of an unemancipated minor, recognizing that the decision by any such minor to submit to an abortion may have adverse long-term consequences for her.(2) The people of the state of Colorado, being mindful of the limitations imposed upon them at the present time by the federal judiciary in the preservation of the parent-child relationship, hereby enact into law the following provisions.
12-37.5-103. Definitions
As used in this article, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) "Minor" means a person under eighteen years of age.
(2) "Parent" means the natural or adoptive mother and father of the minor who is pregnant, if they are both living; one parent of the minor if only one is living, or if the other parent cannot be served with notice, as hereinafter provided; or the court-appointed guardian of such minor if she has one or any foster parent to whom the care and custody of such minor shall have been assigned by any agency of the state or county making such placement.
(3) "Abortion" for purposes of this article means the use of any means to terminate the pregnancy of a minor with knowledge that the termination by those means will, with reasonable likelihood, cause the death of the minor's unborn offspring.
(5) "Medical emergency" means a condition that, on the basis of the physician's good-faith clinical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of a pregnant minor as to necessitate a medical procedure necessary to prevent the pregnant minor's death or for which a delay will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.

12-37.5-104. Notification concerning abortion
(1) No abortion shall be performed upon an unemancipated minor until at least 48 hours after written notice of the pending abortion has been delivered in the following manner:
(a) The notice shall be addressed to the parent at the dwelling house or usual place of abode of the parent. Such notice shall be delivered to the parent by:
(I) The attending physician or member of the physician's immediate staff who is over the age of eighteen; or
(II) The sheriff of the county where the service of notice is made, or by his deputy; or
(III) Any other person over the age of eighteen years who is not related to the minor; or
(IV) A clergy member who is over the age of eighteen.

12-37.5-105. No notice required - when

12-37.5-106. Penalties - damages - defenses

12-37.5-107. Judicial bypass

12-37.5-108. Limitations
(1) This article shall in no way be construed so as to:
(a) Require any minor to submit to an abortion; or
(b) Prevent any minor from withdrawing her consent previously given to have an abortion; or
(c) Permit anything less than fully informed consent before submitting to an abortion.
(2) This article shall in no way be construed as either ratifying, granting or otherwise establishing an abortion right for minors independently of any other regulation, statute or court decision which may now or hereafter limit or abridge access to abortion by minors.

25-3-110. Emergency contraception - definitions

25-6-101. Legislative declaration
(1) Continuing population growth either causes or aggravates many social, economic, and environmental problems, both in this state and in the nation.

25-6-102. Policy, authority, and prohibitions against restrictions
(1) All medically acceptable contraceptive procedures, supplies, and information shall be readily and practicably available to each person desirous of the same regardless of sex, sexual orientation, race, color, creed, religion, disability, age, income, number of children, marital status, citizenship, national origin, ancestry, or motive.
(10) To the extent family planning funds are available, each agency and institution of this state and each of its political subdivisions shall provide contraceptive procedures, supplies, and information, including permanent sterilization procedures, to indigent persons free of charge and to other persons at cost.

25-6-201. This part 2 to be liberally construed
This part 2 shall be liberally construed to protect the rights of all individuals to pursue their religious beliefs, to follow the dictates of their own consciences, to prevent the imposition upon any individual of practices offensive to the individual's moral standards, to respect the right of every individual to self-determination in the procreation of children, and to insure a complete freedom of choice in pursuance of constitutional rights.

25-6-202. Services to be offered by the county
The governing body of each county and each city and county or any county or district public health agency thereof or any welfare department thereof may provide and pay for, and each county and each city and county or any public health agency or county or district public health agency thereof or any welfare department thereof may offer, family planning and birth control services to every parent who is a public assistance recipient and to any other parent or married person who might have interest in, and benefit from, such services; except that no county or city and county or public health agency thereof is required by this section to seek out such persons.

25-6-203. Extent of services

25-6-205. Services may be refused
The refusal of any person to accept family planning and birth control services shall in no way affect the right of such person to receive public assistance or to avail himself of any other public benefit, and every person to whom such services are offered shall be so advised initially both orally and in writing. County and city and county employees engaged in the administration of this part 2 shall recognize that the right to make decisions concerning family planning and birth control is a fundamental personal right of the individual, and nothing in this part 2 shall in any way abridge such individual right, nor shall any individual be required to state his reason for refusing the offer of family planning and birth control services.

25-6-207. County employee exemption

To God be all glory.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Etymology of Money - US Edition

Money has been in the English language since the 13th century, courtesy of Old French carrying it to us from Latin.  In Latin, it was originally a surname of the Roman goddess, Juno: Moneta.  Coins were minted (also a similar etymology) outside the temple of Juno.  Other forms of currency were included in the term in the early 1800's.

In 1699, John Locke first applied the word currency to economics.  As opposed to a barter system, where goods are directly traded for each other, the use of money allows for more liquidity.  This increases the flow of trade, thus the root word, "current" as in a stream.

Tender is on the federal reserve notes in the United States.  It means "to offer", and by association with the idea of extending the hand, ultimately shares the same Latin root as the word tendon.  The word gained formality when in English in the 1540's, and became used for "money legally offered as payment" in 1740.

A "note" was originally more like an IOU, then a check.  These were called promissory notes, a piece of paper on which was written a promise for a specified sum to be paid to a designated person.  When a bank printed official slips promising amounts of money to be withdrawn from their treasury, they were called banknotes.  The Federal Reserve, that prints our bills in the United States, is a bank - not a branch of the government - so technically, our paper money are banknotes.

When I think of the phrase "dollar bill," I imagine a slip of paper, rectangular, of a certain size, and printed to look like money.  The word bill is most often used as a piece of a transaction with delayed payment.  The bill tells how much is owed, and when.  It is a demand for payment.  The dollar bill is also an order for payment: it is an order to the issuing bank to pay out the value of the bill to the holder, if turned in for exchange.  I'm not sure this would actually work in our bank system today, but it is an interesting historical fact, perhaps more relevant to the development of our economy than we realize.

A dollar is the primary denomination of money in the United States.  This was instituted by Thomas Jefferson and Gouverner Morris when the (pre-constitution) Continental Congress established the US currency in 1785.  They selected the term because it was not British, but commonly known.  Colonists used the word to refer to the Spanish pieces of eight (and our dollar sign, $, is derived from the symbol stamped on that coin) - though the word was originally German, an abbreviation of Joachimstal, a mine in northwest Bohemia opened in 1516.  The staler began as the coin minted from silver acquired there.

Buck refers to a dollar because it was another term for money used in the American west.  Native Americans sometimes traded buckskin (deer skin) with European-descended pioneers, and so over time the term became slang for official United States money also.

The stamp for making coins was wedge-shaped in the 1300's, and the French word for wedge or corner was coing, from the Latin cuneus.  (Think about cuneiform writing - symbols made by pressing a wedge into soft clay).  By extension, we use the word to refer to the thing stamped, a piece of metal minted as currency.
As you might expect, "dime" means a tenth, or a tithe.  It also comes from the French (disme), and the Latin (decema).  In 1786 Congress decided to call the ten-cent piece of our money a dime.

Nickel is one of the most fascinating words in our money-lingo.  The root of the word is "devil."  Copper miners saw ore of the color they were seeking, and fell prey to the wiles of the false-copper.  (In the early United States, all coin had to be made from gold, silver, or copper - metals considered more valuable - by law.)  But a whitish metal could be derived from it, named "nickel" in 1754 by a Swedish mineralologist.  In the history of United States money, it was first applied to one-cent pieces when nickel replaced the bulkier copper in minting those in 1857.  In 1866 a second type of five-cent piece was made, also containing nickel (mixed with copper), and so the term "nickel" came to be applied to it as well.  Eventually this new nickel replaced the tiny silver half-dime.

Penny is not an official congressionally-instituted name for a US coin.  We insisted on using the more literal and non-British term, "cent" (one-hundredth of a dollar).  But the habits of the people have prevailed.  The smallest-value coin in England has long been the penny, set at one-twelfth the value of a a shilling there.  Over the years their pennies were each made of silver, then copper, then bronze.  Though we know the word is Germanic, since it appears all over the German languages, no one knows what it originally meant or where the word came from.  In 1889 there is the first recorded use of the colloquial application of "penny" for our American one-cent piece.  I have never called them anything but pennies, bright copper coins cluttering up wallets and jars and cash registers all over the country.  (Incidentally, if I was referring to the British pieces collectively, the plural would be "pence" instead of "pennies".)

Thanks to,, and for their information.

To God be all glory.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Will He Hear?

For the past couple of years, God has been slowly teaching me about mercy.  I have all these questions.  Some days I have cried out to Him, not knowing enough truth to decide what to trust Him for.  Who are You?  How do You work towards us when we fail?  How long is Your long-suffering?  What do You still accomplish through us when we hold back from You?  

I think that the reason I have struggled so much with these things is that the answers are not the same for every person, every time.

This is something I discovered last week when I pondered Isaiah 59:2.  It is not new with me, to be uneasy about this verse and the way I have learned to use it.  Allow me to quote it:

"But your iniquities have separated you from your God, 
and your sins have hidden His face from you, 
so that He will not hear."  

Growing up, I memorized this verse to use in presenting the gospel.  But, is that a right division of the word of God?

Firstly, the verse is in an Old Testament prophecy to the nation of Israel.  By extension, since it says "your God," we might apply it to those who claim YHWH as their God, namely Christians.  But it seems rather far-fetched to apply it to all humans, particularly to speak it to those whose very condition is having rejected God as their God.

The prophecy itself is directed not as an eternal promise or principle towards God's chosen people, but as a message to them at a certain time.  In context, the passage reads: "Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perversity. No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; they conceive evil and bring forth iniquity."  God is able to save, but in this case, He is not willing.  Israel's sins did not constrain God; they provoked Him, and this was His response.

God's use of the terms "separated" and "hidden" and "not hear" apparently do not prevent Him from knowing the situation, from speaking to them, or acting on their behalf (see Isaiah 59:16-21).  This does parallel the situation with the unsaved, for "when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly."  The terms, however, suggest a serious, but less desperate situation.  Israel's national sins caused a covenant-based relational rift in their help from God.  The individual's state of sin leaves him an enemy, justly deserving of God's wrath, and unable to accomplish anything good, doomed - apart from the grace of God - to suffer punishment for his rebellion through ongoing eternal spiritual death in hell.

Though in a sense we may say that our sin-nature and our sinful acts have separated us from God, the Bible's language of salvation and the gospel does not use that picture, of separation.  The New Testament frequently refers to salvation as as being changed from enemies by Jesus' death on the cross and by His resurrection to reconciliation with God.  The Bible says that we were dead in our sins, but that God makes us alive, gives us eternal life as spiritually born children of God.  I favor these metaphors to that of "separation".  In part, they speak much more dramatically to our salvation being useful immediately, and not merely to keeping us out of hell after we die.

In addition, when we are preaching the gospel, we are telling people to "call on the name of the Lord" to be saved.  The good news we are sharing is that because of Jesus' work, God will hear that prayer.

Returning to God dealing with those who are His, does He always treat their sin with a cold shoulder?  In Ezekiel, God addressed similar sins by saying that when Israel would seek Him, He would answer them (and it would be a fearful thing)!  Hebrews says that God deals with those He loves as sons, chastening them to produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness.  He is a merciful God who, without excusing doubt and disobedience, continues to reveal Himself, to teach, to work through us.  He often pursues us to bring us to full repentance, to have peace and intimacy with us when we are fully yielded to Him.  But He may do good, un-thwarted by our turning aside to our own ways.

But I do not believe that God is obligated to show mercy in this way.  He may refuse to heed our prayers, as David acknowledged:  "If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear."  So it makes sense to me to ask Him to be merciful, if He will allow us to pray this way.

I praise God for the times that He has elected to have mercy on me, and I continue to cry out to Him, begging Him to be merciful towards me and towards those I love.

To God be all glory.

Home Remedy for Sin

The problem I'm going to write about, I am intimately familiar with.  I have practiced it in many ways, in some cases undetected for years.  Additionally, I have noted it in the Church around me.  This is why I seek to warn you.

There is a way that seems right to a man, 
But its end is the way of death.
~ Proverbs 14:12

Generally, the problem is to identify something wrong, then, instead of correcting it, to replace that thing with another wrong thing.  One reason this procedure can go undetected is because the new wrong might not be overtly sinful.

On the surface, I'm a very good person.  Somewhat deeper, I'm urgent to maintain that appearance.  A bit below that, I've struggled for years with sins mostly invisible.  And deep down, at the core of who I am, I hate sin and want desperately to be free, to be honoring God on every level.

Flee also youthful lusts; 
but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those 
who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
~ 2 Timothy 2:22

Therefore submit to God. 
Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
~ James 4:7

There is a biblical admonition to flee temptation.  Rather carelessly, I used that verse to justify my own plan of attack against my besetting sins.  If I could just avoid tempting situations (like an alcoholic staying out of bars), then I wouldn't sin and on many levels, I would have victory.  

However, God's goal is not just to keep us from committing sins.  He wants us to know Him, and in knowing Him to become like Him.  Romans has always thrown my perception of sin deeper by asserting, "Whatever is not of faith is sin."  The proper response to sin is the same as the response to temptation, to grace, to glorious revelation, to instruction: submission to God.  I needed to come before my God and to give over to Him my desires, my thoughts, my problem with repeated sin.  But though I had begged God for deliverance, all was on my terms: "Please make my scheme successful in avoiding temptation." 

Avoiding bars is one thing, though I'm not convinced it is always the right thing.  To make my point, what if the sin you were dealing with was gluttony, not drunkenness?  Would you avoid eating?  If you struggled with anger, would you avoid people?  If you did either of those things, you would be sinning by omission.  Again, God has more purpose for us than keeping us from sin (and His enemies have more purpose against us than getting us to sin).  What if, by our methods of avoiding sin, we're abandoning God's purposes for us?  

One common response, in me and in others, is legalism.  We note a problem, and make a list of rules to circumvent it.  This is not my essay on the errors of legalism, so let me restrict myself to saying that such rules keep us from seeking the heart, help, and purposes of God - and the rules can in themselves be harmful to their keepers, breakers and to those involved in their lives.  

So what does it mean to flee temptation?  Maybe there is some truth to avoiding bars, and a glutton might want to be wary of buffets even if he's continuing to frequent grocery stores.  When temptation comes (not just potentially tempting situations), take it seriously.  Resist, rebuke, pray, flee, confess to a fellow believer and get them to help you.  I think it is also important whither we flee: that God wants us to seek His refuge, and trust Him to provide the help we need.  

But my eyes are upon You, O GOD the Lord; 
In You I take refuge; 
Do not leave my soul destitute.
~ Psalm 141:8

God allows temptation for a reason.  I was choosing to miss out on what God wanted to teach me through these situations.  I needed to ask Him how to address my tendencies to sin, and follow that plan, trusting Him to be faithful and effective.  I was running, sheltering myself (and my ego) from difficulty and failure.  But instead I could have been learning self-control, dependence, and power over my spiritual enemies.  I could have been available for God's work in the situations He didn't want me to avoid.  

To God be all glory.  

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Really Love

I have never noticed it in myself before, but a couple of weeks ago I didn't believe people really loved me.  I believed they were being kind to me, but out of obligation more than out of interest in me.  So I avoided people; I didn't pursue spending time with them unless directly asked.  (The times I did spend with them I enjoyed immensely.)  And I made sure that I was very useful, hoping that even if I wasn't fun to be around, I would be helping people out to reward them for spending time with me.

At the end of that week, I realized I had been self-centered, not thinking nearly enough about how I could be God's vessel towards my friends.  I was not being respectful of them, disbelieving them when they said they would "love to have me" or that I was "welcome to join them".  And on top of it all, I was believing lies.  They do love me, and I'm quite grateful.

Being loved when you don't deserve to be is strange.  Even with God I am so often tempted to believe in His pity and mercy and goodness but not in His love.  He does kind things for me because He is obligated by His goodness.  He does them to astound my gratitude.  Believing those half-truths, I obediently subject myself to Him.  I reassure myself that what God does is good.  I discipline myself to thank Him (which I don't think is entirely wrong, but I'll tell you what I love better: feeling thankful!).

Yet YHWH really loves me.  One of those friends I was doubting a few weeks ago was sharing how God is teaching her about prayer, and how much He wants intimacy with us.  Marriage as a picture of Christ and His Church (us!) should remind us over and over that our lives were created for love and union and a delight in Jesus.  Years back I did a women's retreat where we spent large amounts of time by ourselves, praying or resting or listening to music.  I remember believing then that Jesus loved me.  A song came on about Jesus' wedding feast, about Him dancing with His bride, and I was so happy for His joy - a joy I could only believe in if He was getting something out of loving us - if He desired us.

Teshuva (use link to "play" at top of webpage), an awesome band from the Denver area, writes:

This is how I

Say I love you and
This is how I 
Prove it to you
By my wounds you are
Healed, you're healed my child
There's only so much words can say (Only so much words can say)
This can't be said another way (This is the only way)

He has proven love, not just kindness or pity.  For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross.

More than trust and gratitude, my response to really believing in God's love is love.  Loving and being loved brings joy.  This week I've been so full of both, and for that I'm feeling grateful.

I was talking to a friend about distrusting our emotions, not letting them be any part of leading our decisions.  He applied that to his walk with God, needing always a "legitimate" reason to do something, being completely skeptical of anything he felt or wanted.  I think that, at least now, with his friends he does some things because they are good things and he enjoys doing them.  My dear friend just got married in June.  I sure hope that when she kisses her husband it's because she wants to, not because she thinks it is the wife thing to do!  When I read "Love the Lord your God with all your heart..." this is something I think of.  He made our hearts, gave us emotions, and He wants them to be towards Him just as much as our minds, and our souls, and our actions and words.  The greatest commandment, the privilege of our lives as Christians, is to really love God.

To God be all glory.

How To Make Plans

I knew how when I was nine.  I couldn't whistle; I'd just learned to blow bubbles with my gum; I was well on my way to writing in cursive.  And I knew how to make plans with friends.  Maybe I picked it up from my older-and-wiser-at-age-ten friend, Esther.  After church we would make arrangements to spend the afternoon together.  We agreed on the idea.  We figured out whose house would host and whose car would carry.  Parental permissions gained, we would join up for a splendid afternoon, and maybe even a sleepover!

Maybe it is because I learned when I was only in the third grade, that I assumed everyone knew how to plan a get-together with a friend.  (This is not to be confused with giving an invitation, which is rather more independent and usually requires more notice or more familiarity.) But after years of experience, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe people need to be taught these things, and maybe many people around me have never learned.

So here it is.  A how-to (a composition skill acquired about the same time of life) on making plans.  

There are generally two ways that people can agree that an appointment must be made: either an authority tells them to spend time together or the people themselves express a desire for the company.  The first step is to reach agreement on this point.  After that it is necessary to establish a few of the essentials: the purpose of the meeting and who all is to be involved.

Sometimes the purpose of the meeting determines the location and limits the times.  If I am attending a concert, the time and place are set.  If we're meeting for Chick-fil-a, we'll have to meet there, and at a time when the restaurant is open.  Take this information into the next step.

Take initiative and tell your friend which of the times and days (inside of limitations if applicable) you are available.  I find it is less of a hassle to give a list of possible dates and times, so that my friends don't feel like they're rejecting me if they can't make the first time I suggest.  They get to select from my list which time is best for them.

For most occasions, there will be some overlap of availability.  The procedure should be fairly simple: one person lists availability and the other person selects one.  It is not necessary for the second person to respond with a list of times that might work for them; it is their turn to make the decision.  The exception to this rule is if there are more people whose schedules are being coordinated.  In those situations, usually everyone supplies their schedules and one person (usually the instigator of communication) tries to find one good time for everyone.

One more exception is when schedules conflict.  Here is where things get tricky, depending on how busy you and your friends are.  If your friend does not have any overlapping availability, they can proceed in a few ways.  Either they can cancel altogether, or they can appeal your list of dates - suggesting an alternative time you hadn't mentioned.  At this point hopefully they have already evaluated whether their schedule is flexible.  So they may also offer to change something in their schedule, but say that they prefer to see if something else will work with you.  You decide which things on your calendar might be moved, and respond to your friend's alternative.

If a meeting location hasn't been predetermined, now is the time to do that.  You might want to include your suggestions with the initial communication.  Again, it is usually the job of the second friend to make the decision.  With close friends, it is acceptable for the second friend to admit that they prefer some place not listed, and then to get the first friend's consent or to discuss together the reasons, pros, and cons of the various options.  If a discussion needs to happen, you may want to do this in person or talking on the phone.  Otherwise, it usually works well to write schedules if you are not in the same place when you're planning.

Wrap up with a few details.  Will one of you be picking up the other one?  Where?  What time?  Should you bring anything (money, for example) or dress in a particular way?

An oft-overlooked important detail is to make a plan in case something changes at the last minute.  Usually this can be done with a simple statement: "We can call each other if anything comes up.  Do you have my number?" It is popular now to text as well.  Email, Facebook, and the Postal Service are less useful for improvisations.  Another option is to tell each other at the point of making plans, what you will do if you don't do what you have agreed on: for example, in case of rain, meet at the gazebo instead of the park bench.

I don't think it is usually required, but if the plans are made much in advance, sometimes it is nice to arrange a confirmation call or text.

Do you have any special tips, or good things to keep in mind when making plans?

To God be all glory.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


May my hands be open to receive God’s gifts: I need to be humble, not trying to earn the good things I want, but to take what God will provide by His grace.  I need to accept what comes, even if they aren’t the things I want, and trust that they are good. 

May my eyes be open to notice God’s blessings: I want to notice where He’s at work, the way He’s supplying my needs and granting my prayers and showing me mercy when I’m not even asking for it. 

May my lips be opened to praise God for His works: I should express my gratitude when I see the way He’s been involved in my life.  Others should hear me give testimony of my experiences with the God of the universe’s lovingkindness.

To God be all glory.

Eating a BLT

Have you ever done it?  Eaten a BLT for the first time, willing to eat the lettuce and tomato on a cold sandwich even though you don’t like cold sandwiches?  In fact, the only parts you really like are the bread and bacon and usually not together?  And when you were eating that, did you bravely add the offered slice of avocado – even though you’ve never eaten that mushy green fruit before in your life?  All this to try to overcome being a picky eater, and to take away the impression that you don’t like any foods at all?  Have you done this, and then laughed in a verbal throwing-up-hands because the only thing your friends having lunch with you notice about what you’re eating is that you aren’t having mayonnaise? 

I have.

To God be all glory.  

Ode to Mud

What starts as plain dusty earth gets stirred up by the splattering of raindrops.  The grains of soil move to welcome moisture in their midst.  Lines between earth and the sky’s offering are blurred.  Ground becomes darker, soft and fragrant.  More water falls and mingles, and there it is – sloppy, squishy, and smooth: mud.

Mud is so much fun to play in.  When it’s muddy you can search for worms.  You can mix mud-pies to bake when the sun returns.  I love to feel it between my fingers or toes.  It reminds me of being a kid; of thunderstorms; of summers in a warm, wet country; of days with nothing to do but to sit still and soak in the world around me. 

To God be all glory.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Meld and So Forth

I like the word meld, because it sounds basic and hard-working and makes me think of blacksmiths forging swords and armor.  Another reason to like it I just discovered: it’s a mystery word; etymologists have not uncovered its origins.  We know it was around by 1910.  It might come from Canasta, in which a player can “meld” certain combinations of cards for a score.  This sense of the word is derived from the German melden, “to make known, announce”, going back to the Proto-Germanic attested in the Old English meldian: “to declare, tell, display, proclaim”.  Or meld might be a past participle of the word mell, of which I’ve never heard before today.   

What does mell mean, then?  It is a verb we received from the Old French way back as far as A.D. 1300, meaning “to mix, meddle”.  Aha!  I have heard it!  But only in the compound: pell-mell, “confusedly”. 

This brings us to meddle, another word I’m fond of.  It is said to come from the same Old French, who received their word from the Latin, miscere, still meaning “to mix.” 

Though they sound much the same when speaking these days, meddle doesn’t have too much to do with metal, and it’s too bad, given my unfounded association of blacksmiths with the word meld (which may or may not have anything really to do with meddle).  Metal is English’s inheritance of Latin’s borrowing from the Greek metallon, used to refer to ore, but originally applied only as a verb “to mine, to quarry.” says that though the origin of that Greek word is unknown, there is evidence to suggest its relation to metallan, “to seek after.”

Medley does have to do with meddle, however.  Surprisingly, this word made its debut in English referring to a “hand-to-hand” combat, waiting 150 years before it took on the meaning of “mixture, combination” and then another 150 years or so before being applied to music. 

Melody was hanging out in the French language, thence visiting English at about the same time that medley meant “combat.”  Melody has always had to do with music, though.  It came from the Greek melos, which has two roots seen in melisma (from a Proto-Indo-European root meaning “a limb”??) and ode

Mellow can refer to music in the vernacular of the 21st century, but it actually began by referring to the characteristics of ripe fruit: “soft, sweet, juicy.”  It may have come from mele, “ground grain”, the root of meal, and been influenced by the Old English mearu, “soft, tender.”  Beginning in the 1680’s (less at present), mellow has described someone “slightly drunk.” 

This brings to mind the words mead and meadow, but they received their own article in 2007, so I’ll simply refer you there:

Before I close I would like to visit two other words that are similar (by reason of sharing all the same consonants) to meld:
Mold may be the most interesting, because it is the same word now, but its diverse definitions have had parallel (never-touching) evolutions. 

Mold meaning “hollow shape” from which we get the verb meaning “to knead, shape, mix, blend” has been part of the English vocabulary since A.D. 1200, originally “fashion, form; nature, native constitution, character”.  This came via the French from the Latin modulum “measure, model” from the same root as mode

Mold referring to the “furry fungus” is sometimes, especially outside of America, spelled mould, from moulen in the Old English related to the Old Norse mygla.  It is possible that these words derived from the Proto-Germanic root *(s)muk- and the Proto-Indo-European *meug- (found in the word mucus).  Or, it may come to us from the third definition of mold:

Mold, archaically, means “loose earth”.  In Old English molde meant “earth, sand, dust, soil, land, country, world”.  It is Proto-Germanic, attested in Old Frisian, Old Norse, Middle Dutch, Dutch, Old High German, Gothic. suggests that it also comes ultimately from a Proto-Indo-European root *mele- “to rub, grind” (as, once again, the word meal).  It is strange to me, given the similar sounds, but apparently this word has no common etymology with molt

Middle is my final word for today, and I appreciate that it comes into this essay after the Old English word, molde, “earth”, because Tolkien paired middle and earth as the name of his fantasy world.  (I have absolutely no evidence, but I wonder if Tolkien thought there was some relation?)  Middel is the Old English form, from Proto-Germanic root *medjaz directly bringing us mid, “with, in conjunction with, in company with, together with, among” probably from the Proto-Indo-European *medhyo once more meaning “middle.” 

(my source is

To God be all glory.

Monday, April 01, 2013


Tonight my arms ache.  It’s faint tonight.  Some days the feeling is stronger.  On other days I couldn’t detect the longing at all.  But for this moment, I really want to hold a baby.  I want to. Pour. Out. Love.  To wrap myself around and into the future and the past of a little one, their pain and their happiness and their needs and their giftedness. 

The more I love and want to love, the more I want to hug someone tight.  And the more I don’t get to, the more all this physical reality demands to be expressed.  If my body can’t push out, against another human being to love them, then it will push from within, and it’s so weird!  My emotions will so react to being a physical being restrained, that sometimes I’ll do something physical just to be real.  I’ll throw something, playfully shove a friend who’s teasing me, or on a very good day – find a friend (or friend’s child) to hold tight for just a few moments. 

I don’t want to forget.  I want these experiences to form me.  I want to prepare to express love well.  I pray for gentleness to balance out all this feisty energy right now.  I want the desires of my heart to cast me into the arms of my good God.  I wait on Him. 

To God be all glory.