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Thursday, October 31, 2002 AD

Horrors! I almost forgot to post The Reformation Polka!
Lyrics by Richard Gebel. Sung with gusto (and beer, for those who like the stuff) to the tune of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."

When I was just ein junger Mann I studied canon law;
While Erfurt was a challenge, it was just to please my Pa.
Then came the storm, the lightning struck, I called upon Saint Anne, I shaved my head, I took my vows, an Augustinian!
Oh, papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!
When Tetzel came near Wittenberg, St. Peter's profits soared,
I wrote a little notice for the All Saints' Bull'tin board:
"You cannot purchase merits, for we're justified by grace!
Here's 95 more reasons, Brother Tetzel, in your face!" (Repeat refrain.)

They loved my tracts, adored my wit, all were exempleror;
The Pope, however, hauled me up before the Emperor.
"Are these your books? Do you recant?" King Charles did demand,
"I will not change my Diet, Sir, God help me here I stand!" (Repeat refrain.)

Duke Frederick took the Wise approach, responding to my words,
By knighting "George" as hostage in the Kingdom of the Birds.
Use Brother Martin's model if the languages you seek,
Stay locked inside a castle with your Hebrew and your Greek! (Repeat refrain.)

Let's raise our steins and Concord Books while gathered in this place,
And spread the word that 'catholic' is spelled with lower case;
The Word remains unfettered when the Spirit gets his chance,
So come on, Katy, drop your lute, and join us in our dance! (Repeat refrain.)
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/31/2002 07:16:00 AM • Permalink
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Wednesday, October 30, 2002 AD
How Does a Ghost Know Whom to Haunt?
He checks his "To Boo" list!

(Yes, I made that up. See previous post for my excuse.)
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/30/2002 12:20:00 PM • Permalink
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I Think I'm Coming Down with Something
I woke up with the distinct feeling of an encroaching cold. Which is a bummer, since I'm supposed to go away this weekend and will have to cancel if I'm sick. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. I wish He would giveth me fewer cold germs!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/30/2002 10:44:00 AM • Permalink
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Tuesday, October 29, 2002 AD
E-Mail from an IRL Friend
This made it difficult not to guffaw out loud:
Oddly enough, this is from a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" discussion group. I read this and thought I must share it with you:

"I like difficult music, not easy listening. (And difficult can mean challenging your beliefs and deed, not necessarily hard to sing.) I stopped attending one Episcopal church because I realized that spending every Sunday in a tearing rage and planning to seek out and kill every single composer in the Maranatha catalogue was not necessarily compatible with Christian charity."
Here's the question: Which is more important, the quality of the songs or the quality of the charity? I find Third Millennium's Robert Barnes's Music Matters series convicting on this point.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/29/2002 02:46:00 PM • Permalink
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Monday, October 28, 2002 AD
My Very Own Personal Live Halloween Decoration

I didn't realize 'til I was editing this photo that the dumb thing has her tail under the rocker! Closeup:

And no, the cat is not of monstrous proportions; that's a child's rocker.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/28/2002 11:35:00 PM • Permalink
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Alternative Uses for Electronic Equipment
Sitting at my computer invariably leads to the removal of whatever bits of jewelry I happen to be wearing. Speakers make a very convenient resting place for these things. Every few days I have to collect them and put them in my bedroom where they belong. in the meantime, they're rather decorative.

Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/28/2002 11:17:00 PM • Permalink
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Friday, October 25, 2002 AD
Like I Needed a Quiz to Tell Me This

I am Charlie Brown
Which Peanuts Character Are You Quiz

Link via Blake.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/25/2002 11:53:00 AM • Permalink
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Thursday, October 24, 2002 AD
Still at Work at Twenty 'Til One
Have you ever played Collapse? It's a pretty typical simple computer game where the things you have to blow up keep coming at you faster and faster until there's no way you can keep up. Atari Asteroids was similar. Anyway, that's the way my job feels sometimes. Of course part of the problem is me, but even if I were much better organized, and much less easily distracted, I don't think I could catch up. But I've gotten some of the backlog taken care of, so I'm going home!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/24/2002 12:42:00 AM • Permalink
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Tuesday, October 22, 2002 AD
Thinking Outside the Box
The discovery of the box that might have held the bones of Jesus' brother James shouldn't make or break anyone's faith. For one thing, it proves nothing. Even if it is what it might be, it doesn't confirm in any way Jesus' claims. So I doubt there are any skeptics out there falling to their knees over this discovery, and I'm certainly not sitting here saying, "Phew! Sure glad they found that so my faith could be shored up."

But the thing is just plain nifty.

Do you ever watch Antiques Road Show? People bring in their old stuff and appraisers tell 'em what it's worth. I love yelling, "Sell it!" at the screen when some dubiously worthy piece gets a really high estimate. But what I really watch for are those times when there's an item with a story. Especially when the owner only knows half, and the appraiser's able to fill in the details. That's the way I feel about this box. If it is what it might be, then it's an artifact connected to the very best story of all.

The story makes the object valuable, not the other way around.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/22/2002 01:40:00 AM • Permalink
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I'm Feeling Powerful
In the space of a few days I've influenced both Paul and Rudy to install comments on their blogs. What shall I attempt for my next trick?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/22/2002 01:19:00 AM • Permalink
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Monday, October 21, 2002 AD
One Way in Which I Am Spoiled
Mark was bemoaning the lack of connectedness experienced by far-flung congregations with regard to the presbytery and the denomination. Between my presbytery and its parent presbytery, I've heard about 30 teaching and ruling elders preach over the past several years, including 20 percent of all the African American TEs in the PCA. (There are only 20 in the whole denomination, which is kinda pathetic. I've heard four from my presbytery plus one from elsewhere -- one-fourth of the total.) And I've worshiped with about a dozen churches in my presbytery. I went to a special presbytery meeting last month and there wasn't enough time to catch up with all the folks I knew. I suppose there are a few benefits to life in the big city!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/21/2002 09:41:00 PM • Permalink
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Friday, October 18, 2002 AD
We Need People Physically Present in Our Lives.
The Church is not the spirit of Christ; the Church is the body of Christ. The Church is a physical manifestation of Christ. Therefore the members of the Church need to be physically present to one another. Trying to live by faith that Some Intangible Entity out there (the Church) loves me isn’t enough. It isn’t right. It isn’t what the Church is called to be. The physical presence of the Church is supposed to be the tangible reminder that Some Intangible Person out there (God) loves me.

There’s a story of a little boy who’s afraid of a thunderstorm in the middle of the night. He cries for his daddy, who comes to him and says, “Don’t worry, son. Jesus is here with you.” The boy answers, “Yes, I know, Daddy, but I need somebody with skin on.” The boy is absolutely right! He expressed a perfectly legitimate need. We need somebody with skin on. Paul did not exhort the Romans and the Corinthians and the Thessalonians to greet one another with a holy phone call or a holy e-mail, but with a holy kiss—a physical act. Whether or not we’re supposed to obey that literally or in some more culturally acceptable way, one thing is clear about a kiss—it involves getting in each other’s face.

The church should be a community. We should meet together daily. No, not necessarily in formal assembly, but no member of the body should have to go a day without contact with other members of the body. We are to encourage one another daily (Hebrews 3:13). We have forgotten that we have daily needs. We’re supposed to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (another physical need), but we don’t need more than a weekly trip to the supermarket. We think we can get away with that in regard to our fellowship needs, too. The Israelites in the desert were to gather only enough manna for each day (Exodus 16:19). They were to be daily reminded of their need and their dependence. We have forgotten our daily need for community.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/18/2002 09:19:00 AM • Permalink
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Why Is "Reading Rainbow" on at 1 A.M.?
And why am I awake to know that?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/18/2002 01:14:00 AM • Permalink
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Thursday, October 17, 2002 AD
Schlissel Article, Part 2
I thought the article was dead on. I think it paints a pretty accurate picture of bad parenting. Of course what it neglects to say, but what I trust Pastor Schlissel would affirm, is that God can redeem people despite the best efforts of their parents to ruin them.

Here, then is where I want to take it: When God does bring about such a redemption, what does the Church do with the individual in question? Is it reasonable to expect some sort of instantaneous, automatic sanctification process to undo the damage? Do we expect such a befuddled mess of a human being to pull himself up by his own bootstraps (I mean, by the grace of God, of course, but pretty much alone other than that)?

I think that’s exactly what the Church expects. And I think it’s ridiculous.

Can the Church do something, instead? Can she offer him a remedy? Some sort of remedial parenting? Or is it not her responsibility? Is it just something the wretch is going to have to live with? Is he just going to have to muddle through as best he can?

Why do I want to know? Because I read that article and thought, “Yep. That’s a pretty good description of how I was raised.” But I am not in hell! I am in Christ! Yet my life in many ways looks an awful lot like it would if I weren’t in Christ. This is not some sort of “blame my parents for everything so I have an excuse” thing—I’m well aware of where the responsibility for my sin lies. This is me asking if I have any basis for asking, hoping, expecting the Body of Christ to play some significant part in undoing the damage, and wondering what that part might look like. All I know for sure is that I’ve been trying to fix it on my own for 20 years now, that it just isn’t working, and that I’m about at my wits’ end.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/17/2002 11:33:00 PM • Permalink
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Schlissel Article, Part 1
I have a couple trains of thought in response to this article, but first I thought I'd just post a link to the article so y'all can see what prompted the rest of the thoughts, once I get 'em all thunked out and blogged down. So without further ado I draw your attention to "How to Send Your Children to Hell."
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/17/2002 08:56:00 AM • Permalink
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And Topping the List of Appalling Product Titles, We Have...
...Anorex -- a diet pill I got spam for today.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/17/2002 12:32:00 AM • Permalink
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And Topping the List of Capital Offenses in a World Ruled by Valerie, We Have...
...owning a car alarm. Especially one that goes off for no particular reason. Especially in the middle of the night. Especially repeatedly. Especially if it takes you forever to get out and turn the blasted thing off.

There goes my gentle and quiet spirit again, eh?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/17/2002 12:24:00 AM • Permalink
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Tuesday, October 15, 2002 AD
Now If I Could Just Convince Him to Get a Comment System!
Thanks, Paul! I think I'll need to reread it again, but it looks interesting. And remember, Sensus Plenior's just 20 bucks a year! (No, I don't get kickbacks from Jonathan.)
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/15/2002 05:10:00 PM • Permalink
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Monday, October 14, 2002 AD
One of my brake lights has been out for a while now. A couple folks have pointed that out to me. I just haven't gotten around to dealing with it. I even keep spare bulbs in my glove compartment, it's just one of those things I keep forgetting to take care of. But I am keenly aware of it at times like this morning when a cop pulled up behind me at a stop light. I wanted him not to notice, so I could get away with it, yet when he didn't pull me over, I mentally tossed him on the hypocrite pile. I think there's some deep insight there regarding my spiritual attitude.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/14/2002 11:04:00 AM • Permalink
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I'm in a pit, so the pit is full. Now you know the derivation of that word. And why I've had nothing else to say.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/14/2002 08:21:00 AM • Permalink
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Thursday, October 10, 2002 AD
Advice from a Friend
Not my friend, Tim Etherington's friend:

Don't let little people live inside your head for free.

I love it!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/10/2002 07:02:00 PM • Permalink
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Abortion and Race
Rudy Carrasco of Urban Onramps blogged yesterday about the higher rate of abortions among blacks and Hispanics. Since Urban Onramps doesn't have a comment system (hint, hint!), I'll post my comments here.

The statistics reminded me of something chilling a friend once told me. He said that before he became a Christian, he believed in abortion specifically because it would kill more black babies. Of course racist eugenics was one of the founding principles of the pro-abort movement, but nobody thinks about that or admits it now.

But there is hope. If the God of grace can redeem a heart as hateful as my friend's was, is anything too difficult for Him? Can He not bring sanity back to this death-crazed culture? Have mercy upon us, O Lord!

(While you're at Urban Onramps, check out the October 7 post on global evangelism, too.)
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/10/2002 06:49:00 PM • Permalink
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Those Darn Airline Regulations!
Two vultures board an airplane, each carrying two dead raccoons. The flight attendant looks at them and says, "I'm sorry, gentlemen, only one carrion allowed per customer."
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/10/2002 02:09:00 PM • Permalink
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Wednesday, October 09, 2002 AD
Site Meter
I'm finally installing a site meter so I can see how many people are ignoring me.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/09/2002 09:51:00 PM • Permalink
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Monday, October 07, 2002 AD
Techie Question
What website usage reporting software do folks use? Not for blogs, but for big websites? The tech support company that hosts my work website, has finally come through with site reporting for us. They're using WebTrends. I'm only just starting to look at the reports, but so far, I'm disappointed. It only gives stats for the top 20 pages visited, which isn't much use when higher-ups are asking "How many people are accessing X" and X doesn't happen to be in the top 20. Another disappointment is the lack of referrer stats. Just wondering what some of you more experienced webmasters knew about this sort of thing an might recommend. Thanks!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/07/2002 01:49:00 PM • Permalink
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Sunday, October 06, 2002 AD
"The most difficult character in comedy is the fool,
and he must be no simpleton that plays the part."
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/06/2002 04:07:00 PM • Permalink
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Saturday, October 05, 2002 AD
Is This My Julie Lee?
Several years ago I had a friend called Julie Lee who attended the same church I did at the time. She went off to Nashville about eight or nine years ago to make it big in the music scene. I think I talked to her once or twice over the next year or two, but then lost touch. Then tonight, when I wandered from Paulo's blog to The Homeless Guy's blog, I saw "Julie Lee" on The Homeless Guy's "Music I Currently Listen To" list and my heart just about skipped a beat! So I clicked on the link, and met with further frustration. First, the bio section was completely useless. Then I downloaded one of her songs (which took forever on a dial-up), and I honestly couldn't tell if that was her voice. That was really disappointing to me. I thought I would know at once, but she just wasn't singing that kind of stuff back then, and a person's voice can mature a lot in ten years. So now I'm downloading a second song, in hopes I'll be better able to tell whether it's her. If it is her, then the timing couldn't be better. She's opening for Bill Mallonee on October 20 in Vienna, Va. -- near enough for me to go hear her! And I hear Mallonee's pretty good, too. (Yes, I'm the only person on the planet who's never heard him.) Julie has also opened for Alison Krauss! The second song came through -- hey! this is sounding more and more like her! Yes! It's definitely her! Oh, thank you, Google! It is so exciting to see someone I know becoming successful in music. OK, so who wants to go to Virginia with me in a couple weeks?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/05/2002 11:19:00 PM • Permalink
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Friday, October 04, 2002 AD
Take Zat, You Seelly Blogger!
Since I am getting awfully tired of having to republish my archives several times a week, I have replaced the Blogger-generated links with reg'lar ol' links.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/04/2002 06:32:00 PM • Permalink
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Shamelessly Stolen From John Barach
Here's some advice from Dr. Luther's letter to Prince Joachim of Anhalt (1534), who suffered from melancholy and "dejection of spirit":
I should like to encourage Your Grace, who are a young man, always to be joyful, to engage in riding and hunting, and to seek the company of others who may be able to rejoice with Your Grace in a godly and honorable way. For solitude and inwardness are poisonous and deadly to all people, and especially to a young man. Accordingly, God has commanded us to be joyful in his presence; he does not desire a gloomy sacrifice. [Luther quotes Ecclesiastes 12.] No one realizes how much harm it does a young person to avoid pleasure and cultivate solitude and sadness. Your grace has Master Nicholas Hausman and many others near at hand. Be merry with them; for gladness and good cheer, when decent and proper, are the best medicine for a young person--indeed, for all people. I myself, who have spent a good part of my life in sorrow and gloom, now seek and find pleasure wherever I can. Praise God, we now have sufficient understanding of the Word of God to be able to rejoice with a good conscience and to use God's gifts with thanksgiving, for he created them for this purpose and is pleased when we use them (Martin Luther, Letters of Spiritual Counsel, trans. Theodore G. Tappert [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1955], pp. 92-93).
And so I am going out with a friend instead of sitting in my cubicle catching up on work for half the night. God grant us a merry evening!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/04/2002 06:19:00 PM • Permalink
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Thursday, October 03, 2002 AD
What Do You Get When...?
[Image deleted. Sorry!]
(For Byron, who is suffering withdrawal.)
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/03/2002 01:24:00 PM • Permalink
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Wednesday, October 02, 2002 AD
Wrestling with God
It occurs to me that I’ve been having the same basic battle with God for twenty years. How long d’you s’pose it’ll take me to figure out that I ain’t gonna win?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/02/2002 08:00:00 PM • Permalink
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Tuesday, October 01, 2002 AD
Which Smiley Are You?

Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/01/2002 10:26:00 PM • Permalink
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"Orthodox as in, say, Benny Hinn?"
One great line in an excellent article by Reed Arvin about writing CBA-style. I liked Arvin's first novel, Wind in the Wheat, which I was just thinking about this morning. Toward the end the main character, a CCM "star," in an attempt to remind himself of the reason he went into the music business in the first place, goes to a little country church. "And there she was," he says, and goes on to describe the scene as a girl comes out to sing a solo simply for the glory of God rather than for all the glitz of the Nashville biz. I rarely remember passages like that from fiction, but that one has stuck with me, though I read the book only once almost ten years ago. "That's me!" I thought. "That's what I want out of this." God gave me music, and when I sing, I feel His pleasure. But just as Mr. Liddell had to decide on the proper time and place for feeling God's pleasure when he ran, I have to do the same for when I sing.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/01/2002 06:33:00 PM • Permalink
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Did I Preach on Sunday?
When Brian, Wayne, Paulo and I had dinner together a few weeks ago, the subject of "special music" came up -- choirs, solos, etc. Brian was of the opinion that they were to be avoided because they create a mood of entertainment. I'm inclined to agree a bit, myself, but I obviously haven't let myself get completely convinced. I do think it's possible to worship while someone else is singing, I just don't think it's as conducive to worship as congregational singing. I enthusiastically agreed, though, that applause for such "performances" is absolutely out of place in a service of worship. It's something I just refuse to do. And frankly, it's something that makes me hesitatant about singing solos and choral music in church, knowing I'll be on the receiving end of it. Don't get me wrong, I love applause, getting and giving it! I just think it has no place in the context of the worship of God. Of course being in a church where everybody applauds, I tend to feel bad about not applauding, too. After all, who am I to say my betters are wrong?

Another point came up during the conversation, too -- that worship "performances," such as nonparticipatory music and drama, are problematic because they are in a sense sermons by people who oughtn't be preaching. Yesterday was at least the third time over the past several years that a pastor has gotten up after I sang and said something to the effect of, "Well, I don't really need to preach on this passage now, since Valerie's already done it." (Not that any of them has actually forgone a sermon as a result! ) Of course I know that each of these dear men has intended such comments as to compliment and encourage, but the comments still make me a wee bit uncomfortable.

See, there was a time in my egalitarian past when I did preach (not that my sermons would be classified as anything more than devotional thoughts by my current standards of such things). I spent two summers in Yellowstone working with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks. Mostly doing music stuff, but also preaching when I got the chance. When I came back to my home church, I got to preach there once, too. I preached maybe a total of 10 or 12 sermons over a period of two years. Then over the next several years, as I continued to be confronted by scripture, I came to believe that women have no business being in the pulpit. It wasn't an easy journey. The ground I currently hold was hard-won. Am I jeopardizing it by continuing to "preach" with my songs? Or am I just driving myself crazy over the thing I love best in the world to do?

I wonder if neurosis is a spiritual gift...?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10/01/2002 07:22:00 AM • Permalink
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