Short Attention Span Theatre, House Hunting, and Feminine Mystique?

house

I love old Victorian architecture, but not being “handy” – this would be a bad idea, at least for me.

 

Steve-o is finally bound and determined to buy a house.  It’s probably a good idea, since Mom is getting even nuttier than normal.  I know it’s getting bad for him when she leaves her TV on the EWTN (the 24/7 all-Catholic, all the time,) channel full blast all the time.  I know she’s trying to work the Catholic brownie point system- and the older she gets the more paranoid she gets about it- but Steve-o’s not Catholic.  If she’s looking for a conversion candidate so she can earn points for redeeming a heathen, I can think of much easier prey.

touching

If Mom only knew.  ALL guys do it.

All of his religious instruction took place in a Lutheran church (where “self abuse” and/or contraception are not generally considered sins), and even so, he’s not a particularly religious kind of guy.  Wigging him out on the more bizarre points of Catholicism, which you will get a real education on if you watch EWTN for very long, is NOT going to result in him converting to Catholicism and joining the priesthood.

catholic youth

Major Logo FAIL.  In So Many Ways…

I am surprised he’s not having nightmares similar to the ones I had as a child over some of the more bizarre teachings.  He likes women and the horizontal mambo way too much for that noise.  He is at a point in his life where he is really questioning the existence of God and there is nothing apart from the power of the Holy Spirit Himself that will be able to bring him to faith.  Even then, sincerely it would take an Act of God to get him to even consider going back to church- any Christian church.  Right now spiritually he is rather injured and cynical.  He’s at that difficult point of finding it hard to believe in God because he is thinking, “How can a good God let me down- and let me hurt so bad?”  He’s still getting over being rejected by his daughter’s mother, and even though he would never admit how much that crushed him, that was a really deep wound.

I know this because I have been there too, as far as being rejected and feeling as if God abandoned me.  I went through that doubt and angst for about seven years at one time. Steve-o is too authentic and too intellectual to “get it” about faith easily, or without perusing the evidence.  He’s going to have to be one of those seekers and knockers and askers (more like screamers at times…) like I was.  For him faith will be like it is for me- only by the hard way.  An unexamined faith, and a faith without doubts, is not faith at all.

atheism

Faith is vexing, but unbelief is illogical.

I don’t mean to bash Catholics, and frankly, I can go along with most of what the RCC (Roman Catholic Church) teaches.  I have the same problems with Catholicism that Martin Luther had- the primacy of the pope, the celibacy of priests,  the purchase of indulgences for the forgiveness of sins, and the whole concept of a brownie point system where forgiveness is earned in any way by what people do.  I’ve actually read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and according to their rules, if you don’t believe and go along with everything the Church teaches, then by definition, you can’t claim to be Catholic.   I have real intellectual problems with just accepting what some person (not God) or even some “esteemed group of people” says without being accorded any sort of space for analysis or debate.   That makes me Protestant by definition.  Just sayin’.

divine feminine

No, this is NOT me.

I’m still struggling with the concept of the feminine image of God and the importance of beauty in God’s view that we have been going over in our study.  Maybe that whole concept sort of pisses me off in a way, because I’ve never seen myself as beautiful, and I’ve never really been regarded as much more than a Fetcher of Beer, or someone to whine at about food, or someone to clean up when there’s dog shit on the floor.   From my earliest memory I’ve been defined by what I can or can’t do, (and by how epic my failures are) but I’ve never felt as if anyone saw me as having any sort of native, intrinsic value.

I know that I talk the talk and I get it, at least intellectually, that salvation is a gift of grace- nothing that I can earn or deserve- but deep in my heart of hearts I am still that pathetic, geeky little girl who the other kids threw mud and bugs at.  I’m still the awkward kid who doesn’t belong, still the girl the guys approached to get her phone number- so they could call her sisters.  I was never anyone’s first choice, and was doing good to be a consolation prize.

I’m still sticking with the study even though it’s tearing open some really old wounds.  Heart is a LOT harder to reach than Mind.

short attention span

That’s what continuous multitasking will do for you.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I really don’t enjoy multitasking.  I don’t like being interrupted at all.  When I’m doing what I want to be doing I don’t get distracted…until someone else bugs me and nags me about doing something else or doing something in addition to what I’m doing.

Sometimes I just need to tell the rest of the world to bite me sideways.

biteitsideways

 

More Sins of Omission, Explaining One’s Offspring to Others, and More Awesome Tunes

Old-time Catholicism is a bit masochistic, but you gotta love the artwork.  I have nothing against Catholics- some of the best Christians I know adhere to Catholicism, and I’m not going to argue the small points- other than to say that by definition I cannot be considered a Catholic because I don’t agree 100% with the Catholic Church.  Agreeing with Church teachings 100% is part of the deal.  I’ve read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and I agree with a good deal of it- but I do disagree with some key points of what the Catholic Church teaches, and I don’t agree 100% with their theology- especially what I consider to be the bizarre extra-biblical stuff like purgatory and indulgences and praying to saints.  It would be dishonest for me to claim to be Catholic when I don’t agree with everything the Church believes and teaches.  So those who claim to be Catholic but embrace some very un-Catholic and very un-Christian thought processes are effectively lying their pants off.  You either take the whole hog or not at all- that’s the way that Catholicism works.

Joe Biden: claims to be Catholic, but if my grandfather were still alive I think the descriptive would change to “Crazy as a Shithouse Rat.”  Though in the end he- and we- are accountable to God alone.

As a confessional Lutheran I don’t fall terribly far away from the core beliefs of Catholicism, and theologically I am well within the sphere of orthodox (small “o”) Christianity.   I’m not into weird stuff like God being a space alien (who knows, He might be, but I doubt it) and I don’t believe that I’m part of some elite nerd tribe whose destiny is to be spirited up to heaven in a space ship with Marshall Applewhite and company.  I’m definitely more conservative both socially and theologically than most of the people who go to my church, which does give me pause at times, and does cause me some cognitive dissonance, but there’s an important point to be made with that unease.  If I were to seek out a very literal, fundamentalist church (at one point I almost became a Southern Baptist) I wouldn’t hear any viewpoints remarkably different from my own. (I do differ with the SB’s on the subject of infant baptism, which is an important point of dissent- but otherwise I can pretty much get right on the bandwagon.)  I need to be challenged to see viewpoints that are different than mine, and I need to be challenged to be compassionate to those who are coming from a different perspective.  As a confessional Lutheran I have considerable freedom to ask theological questions and to hold differing opinions on non-essential issues without being considered heretical or completely outside the box of Christian orthodoxy.

I think we can agree: This dude was one crazy mo-fo.

I don’t like to argue theology with anyone.  I will gladly explain what I believe and more importantly in Whom I believe- and why, but I’m not going to pound anyone in the head.  It doesn’t work.  Some of my closest friends are atheists and agnostics, who likely view my faith as something archaic and quaint- but they still talk to me and there’s still a relationship there.  Jesus was all about building relationships with unlikely people in unlikely ways, so if it worked for Him, why not?  I learned long ago that the number one way to dissuade people from faith and a relationship with God is to act like Dana Carvey as the Church Lady.

Could it be….SATAN?????

I may differ even with some of my more orthodox cohorts in that I believe Satan is real and that there are real evil forces at work in this world.   But most of the ills of this world can be attributed to human beings doing what we do best- screwing up.  The sin of the Garden was not so much, “The devil made me do it,” as “I screwed up and did the opposite of what I was told.”  Is this not the underlying theme of human history?  I know it’s the definitely the story of my life.  I am an example, and a good amount of the time I am an example of What Not to Do.

A sin of omission is knowing what you’re supposed to do, but not doing it for whatever reason.  I know I should refrain from laughing at Jerry when he can’t find the beer in the fridge because it’s behind the milk, but I laugh anyway.  Technically that’s a sin of commission because I did laugh, though.  Sins of omission are more like knowing I should iron Jerry’s shirts, but not doing it because I hate ironing, and because I know it’s something his lazy ass can do for himself.  He should be happy I’m washing them and hanging them up for him, but if I were really good I would be doing the ironing thing too.  That’s the omission thing, sort of, anyway.   I should be a missionary in Africa giving out food and water to pitiful orphans, but my selfish ass is too satisfied with sleeping in the A/C and not having dysentery.  There’s always something I should be doing but for whatever reason I’m not.  Take it right on back to the old Catholic guilt trips perhaps, but there’s a grain of truth there.  I know full well I do things I shouldn’t and neglect to do things I should.  Which segues quite well into my hit-or-miss parenting.

This won’t be the last time he will be cajoled into sporting his daughter’s clothes- heh-heh!

As far as Steve-o goes I am delighted that he is remarkably normal in many ways.  He is gainfully employed, only has a couple of weeks until he graduates from college (YAY!) and is very close to Independence from the Parental Units, which in my mind is the ultimate goal of parenting to begin with.  As far as I’m concerned, I did not give birth and work myself into the ground to end up with a thirty five year old acne-ridden, obese couch jockey stinking up the basement with greasy Taco Bell wrappers whilst clogging up his brain cells with assorted online interactive video games 24/7 on my dime.   I do wish Steve-o would have listened to Mother a little more intently in regard to abstinence, chastity and so forth, but hindsight is 20/20.  I love my granddaughter and wouldn’t trade her for anything, but it would have been better if they would have waited a bit.  However, life is such that you wish in one hand, or shit in the other, and we all know which one fills up first.

The two most common elements in the universe are:  Shit and Stupidity.  Figure out how to convert either into energy, and screw foreign oil.

Today’s playlist is just as awesome as Friday’s:

“Urban Angel” from Neal Schon’s I On You

“Double Vision” – Foreigner

“Evil Woman”- ELO

“After the Fall” – Journey from Greatest Hits Live

“Somebody to Love”- Queen

“Smells Like Teen Spirit”-Nirvana

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Mortality, and a Working Dryer

Jerry came off the $300 for a dryer last night from the discount appliance store.  Yay! It has a small dent near the top, which is the reason why it was $300 rather than $450.   I could care less about cosmetic flaws.  Nobody is going to come down to my basement for the view, much less to admire the appliances.  I just need them to work. The model we ended up with was actually one I hadn’t researched ahead of time online because it was out of my price range.  It is larger than the old dryer (7.0 cubic ft. vs 5.8 cubic ft) and according to the reviews I have trolled through so far (why bother to read reviews after you buy something, but what the hey?) most people who have bought this model report that you can dry a large load of clothes in less than an hour.  I would delighted if this is really so, especially in an electric dryer.  I am further along the road to being able to do laundry again.  The new dryer is sitting in the garage waiting for whoever Jerry can bribe to help him 1. get it down the basement stairs- which is not going to be a good time, and 2. remove the power cord and vent from the old dryer, 3. attach the power cord (correctly I hope…) and vent to the new dryer.  Whoever is willing to help him get this beast down the stairs is cordially invited to haul the old one away. The old one has to be worth something.  The motor, heating element, and timer still work.

I would be pleasantly surprised- no- elated- to come home and be able to wash and dry clothes again.  Especially if I can have dry clothes in three hours or less.

Today is one of those holidays I have to explain to Jerry.  Otherwise he will be taunting all the Catholics (a good number of Lutherans, and even some Methodists too) he encounters today for having “dirt on their heads.”  Since I grew up Catholic I know all about Ash Wednesday and Lent and the rituals surrounding the season- as if Mom would let one forget that you better not even think about eating a Sloppy Joe for lunch on a Lenten Friday- even if it is served with the school lunch.   What I don’t understand about the no-meat-on-Friday-during-Lent rule is, what part of a seafood dinner is self-denial?  You can’t have a bologna sandwich because it’s meat, but you can have catfish nuggets or a 21-piece shrimp dinner, or even frigging lobster instead?  What kind of a sacrifice is that?  I’ll gladly trade a bologna sandwich or a Sloppy Joe for a shrimp dinner any day.  It would be more sacrificial in my opinion to say, “No, I’ll have the bologna sandwich instead of the cocktail shrimp and catfish nuggets.”   Lutherans also observe Lent, but with a little less focus on strict ritual forms.  I like the idea of taking up a good habit- like getting some extra exercise, or taking up a devotional series, or doing an anonymous act of kindness every day, rather than giving something up, or being weird about food, but to each his or her own.   

The whole point of observing Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent in general, at least in my opinion, is to remember one’s mortality.  Life on this earth in these flawed and wretched bodies is a limited time offer.  So what’s the purpose of life?  From a Christian perspective, the apostle Paul explains the purpose of life as follows:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)

I have heard it said that a person is immortal while God still has work for them to do here on earth.  I’d like to know what it is I’m supposed to accomplish so I can get it done and over with if that’s the case- but it’s not about what I do. It’s about what God wants done.  I am somewhat surprised at the lengths He has gone to in order to keep my sorry carcass alive.  If one were to adhere strictly to the odds of natural law I should have been worm food many years ago. I’ve been very close on more than one occasion.  The theology behind the immortality of those who have not completed their earthly mission seems to be correct at least from my observation, (God is omnipotent after all) but it does open up a can of worms.  The implication is that God had a purpose for both Mother Teresa- and Hitler.  The Old Testament is full of examples of God using “bad” people to get the Israelites back in line, time and time again.  In accepting the omnipotence of God, one must take the downright evil and tragic in the world along with puppies and flowers and rainbows.  One must also accept that there is a reason why some children die very young, why kids go out and rob and rape and shoot each other, and other people manage to outlive all their friends and family and languish for decades in their dotage, senile and crazy and crapping their pants. 

I don’t have an easy answer for any of that.  I don’t think I’m supposed to.  I’m not God.  That job is taken, and I am supremely grateful for that fact.

In accepting the omnipotence of God, one must accept suffering and the truly mind-numbing and tragic in the world.  Believing God and questioning Him doesn’t mean we will ever have clear explanations or complete understanding, but there is comfort in knowing that sooner or later things will be as He intended them to be, which is an important point.  Whether I understand God’s purpose or not is not as important as being compelled to ask Him the questions and accept the answers He is willing to give me.  The primary sin of humanity (according to C.S. Lewis) is pride- wanting MY will versus THY will.  That’s the paradox the apostle Paul speaks of in Romans 7.   We might not like the processes God uses to put us in our proper place.  I know a lot of the time I ask God, why this, or why that, and either He is silent or I’m just not hearing His answer.

I know I am a cynical and often sarcastic individual and those really are not good qualities.  Behind the humor is tragedy, a sense of longing for something better, of wanting something beyond this life. 

I freely admit it’s hard for me to see Jesus through my own apathy.  I am not at all effective in seeing Christ in others (I try to avoid most people, truth be told,) and it’s especially difficult to think of doing things for Jerry as serving God.  It’s hard to imagine Jesus acting like a petulant, whiny child. 

I am not always a very thankful person, either, which is also shameful.  I should not be so willing to criticize, or to covet what I simply don’t have.  I should be more grateful for what I do have.

God put me here for a reason, even if I don’t understand it.  Maybe I’m here to expand others’ vocabularies- or to learn to love the Great Unwashed.

I can see people looking at me and laughing at the visual.  This is plausible too.

A Sad Farewell to Heidi, the Presence of Absence, and So Much Left Unsaid

I am still finding it hard to believe she’s gone.  This time last week Heidi was going about her business, a bit stiff and ungraceful, but doing all the normal dog things nonetheless.  Yes I knew she was 12 years old, which is the outer limit of the normal life expectancy of  female German Shepherds, but in the back of my mind I envisioned Kayla (also a female German Shepherd) who had almost reached an astounding age 16 before she lost use of her rear legs.

Heidi was getting along reasonably well with minor accommodations for her progressing muscle wasting and rear limb ataxia (unfortunately GSDs are prone to a number of neurological and orthopedic disorders as they age) -that is until she fell.

Thursday of last week we decided to go to the campground with the dogs.  I brought the girls down and decided to sit out on the deck because the weather was nice.  I’d been keeping an eye on Lilo because she was very interested in what was going on in the woods and I didn’t want her jumping over the edge of the deck.  At its steepest point it is about a sixteen foot drop from the deck to the hillside below.  Out of the three dogs I would never thought Heidi would try to go over the edge.  Heidi was usually happy to simply lie on the deck and listen to the birds and sniff the air.  I had gone back to my reading and iced tea- glancing over at Lilo from time to time just to be sure she wasn’t getting any ideas about jumping off the deck.  A short while later I heard a blood  curdling scream and thought to myself, “dammit, Lilo, what were you thinking?” I had envisioned Lilo with a broken leg or some other grievous injury.  But it wasn’t Lilo.  Lilo had obediently stayed on the deck where I had told her to sit.  Clara was clinging on to me like she always does when she’s away from home.  The screams were coming from poor old Heidi, lying on her side, bleeding from the nose and either too startled or hurting to move.

I didn’t see her land so I don’t know how she hit.  She only fell about four feet as she was on the side of the deck and not the part that juts out the highest above the hillside. I could not see that she had broken any bones, and she could stand with help.  Unfortunately she wasn’t herself again after that.  She didn’t want to eat or do much of anything beside just lying down.  Her every move looked to be an agony.  To make a long story short I took her to the vet- who did not have much to offer in the way of hope of recovery or improvement- and had her put down Saturday.  As painful as it was to let her go, it was obvious that I was not doing her any favors by trying to prolong her misery.  It sounds so high and lofty to say that but in practical application it is harder than hell to do.  Even as the injections are given and you know they are irreversible, something in your mind and heart screams, “take it back!” Even though you know you have sent your beloved over the Rubicon and and there is no return, you still want to cling to that last moment.

Finality is not a concept I accept willingly.  Perhaps this is what Dylan Thomas meant when he said, “rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Now it seems that many things remind me of gentle Heidi- when the dogs have their treats and Heidi is not the first one leading the way demanding her share, when I see Clara sniffing at the places Heidi used to nap to get a trace of her scent, when I look at her rug in the hallway and Heidi’s not there.

So much left unsaid.  Welcome to the void of absence, where there is no breath and no words.

A week ago I would never supposed poor Heidi would be in her grave.  A week ago she was doing all the normal dog things like she had done for the past three years she lived with us.

I know, I know, ask not for whom the bell tolls.  It will be ringing for me soon enough.

Yeah, this was the deck, and this pic of Clara and Lilo was taken just minutes before Heidi fell.

An interesting aside concerning the pic below- back in the 19th and very early 20th century, undertakers also made furniture.  I guess if you’re already making coffins, why not couches in the off season?