Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Pro Tip: Remember Where You Parked Your Car

Hello. Today is Wisdom Wednesday at my blog.
There was a season of my life, when I was in the last months of  pregnancy,  when I had to leave work in the middle of the day  a couple of times a week for ultrasounds. The snow was falling heavily--almost constantly--that time of year, and the plows had a hard time keeping up. It was tiring  to trudge through the white stuff.

We used the term "white stuff" half the time and "snow" the other half, the way people alternate "pope" and "pontiff"  when the pope happens to be in the news a lot. Stylistic thing, I guess.  Several inches of the white stuff would've been accumulating on the car roof all morning, making it difficult for people to identify their cars, unless they happened to know their license plate numbers, which...I didn't. I never paid attention to where I'd parked, either. There must have been acres and acres in that parking lot.

Finally a co-worker couldn't hold it in any longer. She shared with me that as soon as someone in a cubicle near mine had seen that I'd left our second-floor office for a doctor's appointment, she or he hershee they would spread the word.  My co-workers would head over to the big window overlooking the parking lot, and have a good time watching me wandering around looking for my car. I think there may even have been betting involved.
These days, after I park and am walking toward the store or what have you, I am trying to be more responsible about remembering to frequently look back  so I can strengthen the  impression in my mind of what my car might look like when I'm walking toward it.  I think it might be fun to experiment with bread crumbs or Reese's Pieces but for now this system is working out pretty well for me.
Now some of you may feel let down because you'd hoped that you might be learning something you didn't know already on this Wisdom Wednesday.  Well, it's not all about you. It's very likely someone will come away from this blog saying, "Hmm. Reese's Pieces. That might work."

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

This Blog Gets Some Structure

Once again, I find myself spending too much time reacting to Alt-Right Blogs.
I've decided to establish a well-rounded blogging topic schedule because:
Creativity needs a cage.    A contract between my massive following and me will keep me accountable.

Mystical and/or Mathematical Monday
D. Trump Tuesday
Wisdom Wednesday
They Call Themselves the Ilk Thursday
Family Secrets Friday 
Saturnine Saturday
Thank God it's Sunday

Continuing Sagas:
Man's Search for Meaning In the Middle of the Road
The Twelve Days of Xmas 

I'm not TAD! My husband's name is...

SO I'M GOING TO DO A LITTLE FREE WRITING HERE...My husband's name is...I'll have to give that some thought. I told him I was writing a blog and that I wasn't going to reveal personal details, but if I <i>did</i>  did write something about him, a glowing account perhaps,  what might he liked  like to be called?  

Well, my My husband doesn't mind my having blog, because the more I blog, the less I talk, but he's also not  neither is he really interested in what I write in here, glowing account or no. So, without giving it much thought,  he said, "I shall be called Mr. Athena."  (This was Its  It's based on a private joke between us which I won't share --not that it would be throwing pearls before swine--but there's too much back story to tell before you'd be able to enjoy it. Maybe later.)

Well I'm not going to call him Mr. Athena, because Athena is the name of a goddess,and calling a man that would be "gamma."    that's a gamma name for a man.  

I'm off to pick raspberries.

(*1)I edited the  Free Write. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Positive Positive Positive

Today, I had a conversation with someone I hadn't seen for a few weeks. We talked about what we'd been reading recently.  I was happy to be able to tell her about the story behind my reading Man's Search for Meaning. She reacted positively, saying "That's a lot of coincidences in a row, and there's no such thing as a coincidence." 

That really was a remarkable series of events, a gift, a sobering one, but still a gift. Why me, though???
I had thought the Internet Me might try to understand everyone's point of view, and then I'd  find ways to build bridges, so reasonable alternatives to a brewing Civil War might be found. I'm just one person, but if enough people tried to communicate that way, maybe after a while,  there would be a trend toward civility and reason. 

The reality I'm butting up against is this: once people have decided they're going to have themselves a war, bridges don't get built. Bridges get blown up, and that, right merrily. 
I'm getting tired of the Culture Wars, but at least I'm not in a Nazi concentration camp. The Lord's Prayer is a gift, The Shema is a gift. Access to God is a gift. The people who were able to transcend soul-crushing conditions in the Nazi prison camps realized these things. Being of service made their lives meaningful.   

Read, meditate, write. Then every few posts or so, ask myself, why on earth am I doing this?

What I've Learned from the Alternate Right Blogs

Hitler was able to rise to power because he proposed a solution to eliminate a scapegoat  for Germany's failing economy.  Desperate for relief, the Germans accepted the argument that the Jews were to blame: so many of the bankers were Jews, after all. Centuries-old anti- Semitism, combined with the morale-boosting notion that Germans had come from a superior Aryan race created a mindset that Jews were less than human, and that the patriotic thing, indeed the Christian thing to do, was to round them up like vermin and eliminate them.

Fast-forward to the twenty-first century. The Alternate Right movement consists mainly of whites--many of them unemployed whites who find their economic condition humiliating and hopeless. The welfare, affirmative action, and immigrant-welcoming programs that were created to correct injustices to minorities, here and abroad, have now created, in the Alternate Right view, a growing and permanently entitled class that threatens to make the whites themselves the minority. Even though there are many factors contributing to the country's indebtedness and generally poor economic outlook, scapegoats need to be living breathing beings lower down on the food chain, capable of being rounded up and sent over the horizon: minorities and immigrants, you're it.   On the other hand, Alternate Right whites would say that Social Justice Warriors have made whites, especially white males,  the scapegoats for pretty much everything that's wrong in society as it was, is, and ever shall be.

Am I comparing the Alternative Right to Nazis? Some of them welcome the affiliation, (and they're scary as all get-out) but not all of them do, neither do they deserve it.
With each terrorist act that occurs in Europe and the USA, the term "radical Islam" becomes more closely identified with immigration Increasing immigration is a tough sell for some of the survivors of terrorist attacks in Boston and San Bernardino and Orlando  And on the other other hand, have you ever talked to an immigrant and his family who spent three years in  refugee camps (fleeing Joseph Kony's --there's no other word for it-- Satanic Lord's Resistance Army)  going through the  screening process required before they were allowed to come to the USA?  I have and -- I'm not virtue signaling here -- the Dad wants to polish up his already college-level English, and my  friends and I have been helping him out with that.  IBefore the Alt-Right comes knocking for people like him,  I'm hoping a modern day secret society  of the likes of  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Oskar Schindler and Corrie Ten Boom is raised up. God might have to sift through the dregs of the "Churchians" (the Alt-Right term for "the Church of Nice"), but the Lord can use anyone available in a pinch.

Every word is a fightin' word these days. Everyone's angry and almost everyone's armed, legally or otherwise. Should there be fewer guns? Not going to happen. More reasonable dialogue? We can only hope.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Warped, Wounded and Rerouted

I have stopped trying to put myself into categories, resigning myself to being (or should it be, celebrating myself as?) a work  in progress.

Once in awhile, when I've spent too much time absorbing the vibe of the most bigoted voices in the comment sections of alt-right blogs--as I have been doing  recently--  the pressure inside me builds and builds until  an entry like "Some of My Best Friends Are the Yooos" just pops out!

But other times, for instance, after I've listened to the frustrations of male engineers  who have been by-passed for promotions  given to people with the right race or gender, but sometimes inferior talent and intellect, I want to write a quiet, reasoned response to the more strident voices among the Social Justice Warriors. When this happens in a wide-spread way as a matter of national policy, it leads to things like shoddy construction of  bridges, and that's not good for anybody.

Don't even get me started right now on  (1) meditation on the Bible verses that are frequently quoted by righteous, generally compassionate people about the evils of gender confusion and (2) the pain and loneliness of an Evangelical mom who has discovered her beautiful four year old trying to cut off his penis with a nail clipper. 

The written word is so powerful!   I've been writing two book reviews that I am now polishing up. One is on -- you guessed it!--Man's Search for Meaning The second book has been very difficult to review because its author is a friend who has asked for honesty.  The struggle has been worth it:  as I've been writing what (I think) will be the last paragraph of that second review, I feel so much calmer about the uncharted nature of my journey

To establish balance, one must return to the most enduring message of the book, reflected in its title: Whispers in the Windstorm.  Whether one faces a life-threatening health crisis, or the ongoing challenge of living sanely, generously, and graciously in a world whose wealth is so unevenly distributed, there is this  promise: the habit of listening and submitting to the quiet leading of the Spirit of God in your own heart will lead to  the miraculous unfolding of transformation..    [Review by Irene Athena]

[Public domain image of monarch butterfly: Thanks, David Wagner!]

Monday, June 20, 2016

Unless Each of Us Does Our Best

"For the world is in such a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does our best."          --Viktor Frankl  "Man's Search for Meaning."
Words by Viktor Frankl came barreling into my life again. This time, they were read by a woman as she and her husband finished addressing the church  I attended  yesterday.  They had recently returned to America after working abroad.

Part of their presentation included video of natives from Papua, New Guinea. Not long ago, tribes from this area were constantly at war with one another.  Part of the message of Jesus that they have taken to heart, is this: all human beings are part of the same tribe.

The husband narrated a slide show, picturing people they'd met from different cultures all over the world: "This is your grandmother, your son...your crazy uncle." Laughter. Then a picture of the two presumptive Democrat and  Republican presidential candidates. "Also, your brother and sister."

It's often very difficult for Westerners returning from work in poorer parts of the world. Usually the culture shock comes from re-exposure to Western luxury and its contrast to the grinding need for the basic necessities of life elsewhere. I couldn't help but wonder if for this couple,  the more shocking contrast was the one between the grace manifested in Papua, New Guinea and the atmosphere of deep division caused by the many battles of the Culture War: 
It would be such a relief to say, "I'm done with the Culture Wars!"
What does adding my voice to the chaos have to do with doing my best? 
What does keeping silent have to do with doing my best? 

And what? IreneAthena? And what, ye gal who has recommended sitting quietly before God and expecting "coincidences!"
Keeping silent, at least part of the time, has everything to do with doing my best!
My husband showed me a picture he just took of the monarch butterfly come to rest on a butterfly bush we planted last year.  I haven't seen a butterfly around here, any butterfly, in years. Perhaps I should plant some milkweed next to that bush. The bushes attract them, but the weeds are where they'll multiply.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Some of my Best Friends are the Yooos.

I can understand Sven's accent, Sven from Sheboygan, that is, but I can't recreate it. He says, "Yoooos" a lot, so that aspect of his manner of speaking, I've got down pat.

For a week or so after the announcement of the verdict for the rape of an unconscious woman at Stanford University,  very near the top of the hit list of a Google Search on "Sweden" and "Rape" there were articles about  Carl-Fredrick Arndt and Peter Jonsson. These are the heroes who noticed what was going down, hopped off their bicycles, protected the young woman from further harm, and caught the rapist.

Sven doesn't think they're real heroes, though. "They're made up. By Google. By the press. By the Yooos."

"What are Google and the Yooos doing making up stories about heroes?" I ask. 

"Swedish heroes," Sven corrects. "Because by making the heroes Swedish, and then hyping the Stanford U rape story, now, at the top of the Google search on "Sweden" and "rape," you get story after story about the heroic acts of two Swedes in California."

"And before Google and the Yooos ["oh! but they're weird and they're wonderful"] monkeyed around with the Stanford University Rape story..?"

"...when you did a search on Sweden and rape, top of the list were stories stating the fact that Sweden has the highest rate of rape in the world, and that's because the government of Sweden took in so many Mooslim immigrants, the Yooos being behind that also. The Yooogle and the Yooo York Times and the rest of the press  tried to keep the facts about Sweden's Rape Statistics out of the spotlight for awhile, to take some of the wind out of Trumps' sails, prolly."

I did some quick Googling on "Sweden" and "Rapes" myself, and  then I asked for Sven's take on the article "Sweden's Rape Crisis Isn't What it Seems"
“What we’re hearing is a very, very extreme exaggeration based on a few isolated events, and the claim that it’s related to immigration is more or less not true at all,” says Jerzy Sarnecki, a criminologist at Stockholm University who has devoted his career to the study of criminality, ethnicity and age.
Sweden does indeed have far more reported cases of sexual assault than any other country. But it’s not because Swedes – of any colour – are very criminal. It’s because they’re very feminist. In 2005, Sweden’s Social Democratic government introduced a new sex-crime law with the world’s most expansive definition of rape.
Imagine, for example, if your boss rubbed against you in an unwanted way at work once a week for a year. In Canada, this would potentially be a case of sexual assault. Under Germany’s more limited laws, it would be zero cases. In Sweden, it would be tallied as 52 separate cases of rape. If you engaged in a half-dozen sex acts with your spouse, then later you felt you had not given consent, in Sweden that would be classified as six cases of rape.
The marked increase in rape cases during the 2000s is almost entirely a reflection of Sweden’s deep public interest in sexual equality and the rights of women, not of attacks by newcomers..."
"I gotta stop you right there." Sven interrupts. "Who wrote that article?"

"Man named  Doug Saunders."

"Ummm hmmmm." Sven nods knowingly. "Name sounds like Bernie Sanders. You can take the "U" out of Saunders, but you can't take the Yooo out of Saunders. Not buying it. What else do you got for me?"

"Well, here's one that talks about Sweden's high rape statistics and  immigrants and doesn't mention anything at all about the broader definition of rape that the Swedes adopted in the 2000's."

Sven nods knowingly and approvingly as I finish reading the short article to him.

"Do you want to know who wrote that, Sven?"

"Prolly not a Yooo, I can tell ya that much," Sven grins widely.

"Man named Daniel Greenfield.....and his editor is David Horowitz. So whaddya say, Sven of Sheboygan?"

In the awkward silence, I queue up a song on an old vinyl recording [ENYOY!] on the turntable. I start singing along with gusto-- I'm thinking about ANOTHER coincidence(*1) that happened TODAY having to do with one of my favorite Yooos, Viktor Frankl.  Sven starts singing along, too, each of us after our own fashion.

This concludes my series on "When Sweden, Rapes, and Google Collide".

(*1) Previous recent Viktor Frankl coincidences:
The Blogger and Radio         
 I Found Meaning in the Middle of the Road