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Tuesday, April 27, 2004 AD
Sickbed Activities
I unplugged my TV about the same time I unplugged my blog. Didn't miss the wasteland of the broadcast networks, but I did miss watching movies. Saturday evening I decided I wanted to watch a movie, so I brought up the 13-inch from the basement (the 19-inch was too heavy to haul down from the second floor). This turned out to be a Good Thing, because I woke up sick enough on Sunday to prevent going to church (boo-hoo!) and without enough energy to do more than vegetate in front of the TV screen. From Saturday through Monday I watched the following movies:
  • "The Winslow Boy" -- Lots of biblical imagery: The seven lean cows devouring the seven fat cows, the expelled boy fearfully hiding from his father in the garden (OK, a little backward, but still...), the father's sacrifice for the son (OK, so in this case the kid was innocent, but still...), the hero's sacrifice for his beloved (you know he didn't do it for the kid), "You shall not side with the great against the weak," etc.
  • "What the Deaf Man Heard," "Sarah, Plain and Tall" and "Skylark" -- Yes, three Hallmark Hall of Fame productions. In my defense I'd just like to say that schmaltz is an ingredient in chicken soup, which is good for colds. The Sarah movies didn't do much for me this time around, but "Deaf Man" is one I've watched a number of times -- just a nice, feel-good story about the last being first and vice-versa.
  • "Silent Fall" -- I obviously taped this off the television ages ago. And I'm sure I watched it then. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough sense to erase it before watching it again.
  • "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" -- A perennial favorite. Chocolate as a metaphor for grace. The meek shall inherit the earth. "So shines a good deed in a weary world" (which Friday's birthday celebrant said first). Scrumdiddlyumptious, indeed.
  • "The Hudsucker Proxy" -- Innocence and experience. Fall and restoration. A battle between the lord of time and the henchman of evil. And, of course, hula hoops.
  • "Secondhand Lions" -- When I was finally able to drag myself out of the house last night, I used my 99 Blockbuster coupon to pick this up. (I never rent new releases, so it was a special treat to get one cheap.) Still love it.
Lest you think I did absolutely nothing else while I was ill, I listened to the book of Jeremiah on MP3 (thanks for the CDs, John!) twice (and Lamentations once), ate delivery Chinese food and pizza ('cuz cooking just wasn't going to happen), crocheted a bit, played solitaire and napped a lot. I knew reading would be a hopeless cause -- I was just too tired to concentrate.

OK, so aside from the scripture, it pretty much was absolutely nothing. And I know I didn't get as much out of Jeremiah as I would have if I'd been listening intently instead of drifting in and out of consciousness, but these were the things that stood out to me:
  • The sin of the people. Knowing that my own idol factory is as productive as if it were staffed by a crack team of Oompa Loompas, the first few chapters, especially, were painfully convicting. Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison.
  • Jeremiah's compulsion. In the face of much suffering and contempt, he was relentless in his proclamation of God's Word.
  • "Be astonished, you heavens." Reminded me, of course, of the song I wrote a while back based on that passage.
  • The promise of good shepherds. "Shepherds according to my heart, who shall feed you with knowledge and understanding" (Jer. 3:15). There are a few of those around. More are needed.
  • The Lord of armies. I think that was the most frequent name for God in Jeremiah, at least in the translation I was listening to. I suspect it's "Lord of hosts" in other translations. When I hear "Lord of hosts," though, I tend to think of angel hosts. "Lord of armies," in the context of this book, reminded me over and over of God's sovereignty over even the greatest powers of men. He is Lord not only of his own angel armies, but over the armies of even the most pagan nations. He uses them to whup up on His kids, then He whups up on them for whuppin' up on His kids.
  • "You have dealt deceitfully against your own souls." Those who were left after the exile begged Jeremiah for God's word, assuring him that this time they'd obey. So he tells them not to go to Egypt. And they of course promptly set their faces to go to Egypt. Jeremiah responds by telling them, in this translation, that they have dealt deceitfully with their own souls. The NASB says, "you have deceived yourselves." NIV, "you have made a fatal mistake." ESV, "You have gone astray at the cost of your own lives." KJV, "ye dissembled in your hearts." NKJV, "you were hypocrites in your hearts." I have no idea which is closest to expressing the Hebrew, but the WEB expresses the deadly foolishness at the heart of the matter. When we approach God's Word, whether in private reading or in listening to it preached, and discard our intention to obey as soon as we hear something not to our liking, we, too, deal deceitfully -- treacherously -- with our own souls.
  • The return to Egypt. I wonder if, upon their return, they got to eat the leeks and onions their fathers had whined for. (Or the fish -- Gollum's whining for Fish! Fish! reminds me of that passage.) Their sin lands them back in the land of slavery from which the Lord had been so gracious as to deliver them. Again I see where my own stubbornness might lead. Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison.
  • The sadness. There's such a sad finality to the last chapter as the fulfillments of the dreadful prophecies are recapped. But then right at the tail end, in the last four verses, we are left with a glimmer of hope -- the king of Babylon lifts up Jehoiachin's head. God is faithful and never utterly abandons those with whom He has covanented. There is always hope for the remnant.
I'm feeling much better today, just in time to head to NH to celebrate my mom's 75th birthday tomorrow! Shhhh...it's a surprise...she's not expecting me!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 4/27/2004 03:15:00 PM • Permalink
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Saturday, April 24, 2004 AD
Public Service Announcements
1) 99 Blockbuster movie coupon
2) Free ice cream
3) More free ice cream

(Thanks to Kim and...uh...whomever it was that posted about the ice cream!)
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 4/24/2004 09:19:00 PM • Permalink
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Deleted Post
Y'know...I just don't get this blogger "draft" thing. It doesn't seem to do anything different with one's posts! I wrote an entry, then couldn't decide whether to post it, so I thought maybe the draft thingummy would save it for me, but not publish it. And then when I went to blogger.com, I couldn't find it at all, so I thought it had been lost in cyberspace, which I decided was for the best. And here, unbeknownst to me, it'd been out here in public for two and a half days! But now it's gone. Sorry!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 4/24/2004 05:30:00 AM • Permalink
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Friday, April 23, 2004 AD
How the Mighty Have Fallen!
Doug Wilson joins the blogosphere with Blog and Mablog (clever title!). Since he wrote a critique of blogging in a recent issue of C/A, one might think Mr. Wilson would eternally eschew the form. But on closer examination of that critique we see he left himself a loophole to slip through. In an entry yesterday (somebody give the man permalinks!), he quotes himself and invites his readers, if they detect "any incipient narcissism or lonely soulism on this web site," to rat him out to his session.

So he really hasn't fallen after all, and I trust that his will be one of the "occasionally interesting" blogs on account of its being written by an "interesting or challenging person." (Hmm...is DW "interesting" or "challenging"? Discuss.)

Mr. Wilson's critique contributed to my recent hiatus, actually. I know that "incipient" is too kind a word for the level of narcissism and lonely soulism I've poured out on these pages, and I am now endeavoring to avoid such exhibitions. Of course it helps that I've been happy lately, so haven't felt the need to weep all over my keyboard!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 4/23/2004 04:34:00 PM • Permalink
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Happy 540th!
Unless you're one of those sticklers for dull facts, today is William Shakespeare's 540th birthday. In celebration, I share with you one of my favorite tricks:

Following is the text of Psalm 46. Skipping the Selahs, count 46 words from the top, and then count 46 words from the bottom and guess who was 46 years old in 1611 when ye olde KJV first saw the light of day.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
Pretty nifty, huh?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 4/23/2004 02:53:00 AM • Permalink
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Tuesday, April 20, 2004 AD
Hero of the Day
It does my little heart good to see that someone's doing something about this international tragedy.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 4/20/2004 02:21:00 PM • Permalink
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Monday, April 19, 2004 AD
Seventy-Four and Counting
E-mails with viruses I've received so far today, that is. And that's just at home. There's no sense keeping track at work...I'd never get anything else done!

Where do you suppose spam and viruses fit in Providence? I'm thinking maybe they're longsuffering practice opportunities for a culture that's barricaded itself in worldly ease and affluence. Well, they work that way for me, at least.

Seventy-five and counting....

Update, 11:23: Eighty and counting...
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 4/19/2004 10:50:00 PM • Permalink
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Saturday, April 17, 2004 AD
Anybody Have the Pied Piper's Number?
God has graciously been giving me more and more reasons to move. The latest is rats. I saw rats in my own back yard a few days ago, and heard from a neighbor today that they are evidently thriving in the neighborhood...and throughout the city. He said a fellow up the street trapped 30-40 of 'em last year. As I'm facing giving up a lot in leaving the only home I've ever known, I've been talking to myself about it in terms of leaving Egypt for the Promised Land. A little overblown, perhaps, but somehow a plague of rats doesn't dissuade me from the nootion (yes, I know that wasn't one of the ten plagues, but humor me!). The locusts are expected back soon. And one of my best friends, whose now-abandoned house is just a few minutes from mine, witnessed a murder right across the street a few months ago -- rivers of blood, indeed.

I bought rat poison for my back yard. I just hope it doesn't attract the rabbits that also inhabit the neighborhood. Bunnies good. Rats bad.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 4/17/2004 08:51:00 PM • Permalink
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Thursday, April 15, 2004 AD
I Didn't Know There Was a Name for It

"From petro- (rock), from Greek petros (stone) + ichor (the fluid that is supposed to flow in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology). Coined by researchers I.J. Bear and R.G. Thomas." *

"It was named by two Australian researchers in an article in Nature in 1964, who discovered that the smell is an oily essence that comes from rocks or soil that are often (but not always) clay-based." *
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 4/15/2004 02:03:00 PM • Permalink
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Tuesday, April 13, 2004 AD
Relevance Schmelevance
Someone was recently telling me about a Sunday school class they attended in which the instructor encouraged the class to keep up-to-date with all the trendy/Gen-X/Gen-Y/po-mo/whatever music/movies/fashion/slang/whatever out there. The point was that in order to be good witnesses, we have to know all the stuff that the world is into.


I remember standing with a group of classmates outside the cafeteria one day in fifth or sixth grade. Everyone was discussing what they'd watched on TV the night before. I had watched "The Wizard of Oz," but since it obviously wasn't on the approved list of cool things to watch, and I didn't want to admit that I wasn't cool (though I am sure it was as painfully obvious to the rest of them as it was to me) I lied and said I hadn't watched TV the night before.

Now it's not worldly kids but churchly Sunday school teachers who want to look down their noses at my nerdiness as if I can't hope to make the grade as a Christian if I don't also make the grade as a worldling. That is absolute rubbish and it ticks me off. I do not have to be cool in order to be holy! In fact, trying to be cool will likely keep me from holiness. In my grade school example, trying to be cool led me to lie. And if I hadn't been watching what I liked and lying about watching it, I'd probably be watching what was cool and lying about liking it. The pursuit of coolness would have become sheer, people-pleasing idolatry to me. Also worldly standards are, well, worldly. Why would I want to immerse myself in that? When you drop a white glove in a mud puddle, as Chuck Swindoll says, the mud doesn't get all glovey. For me to pursue coolness would mess me up and make no difference to the cold cool world.

I'm not pretending to lay down some sort of fundamentalist no-TV/no-movies/no-rock music illicit law. I'm just refusing to allow my tastes and interests to be dictated by pop culture. I'm not even going to spend my precious time studying pop culture from the outside like some sort of armchair cultural anthropologist. And if that makes me uncool, out of touch and irrelevant, so be it.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 4/13/2004 05:50:00 PM • Permalink
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Monday, April 12, 2004 AD
I'm Glad It Rained on Resurrection Sunday
Much as I love spring -- daffodils, forsythia, the color yellow altogether -- it comes with a price -- allergies. Rainy days mean less airborne pollen, and a better chance that my sinuses will not be so afflicted as to hamper my singing ability. Yesterday was one of those happy days when my voice behaved exactly as I wanted it to. The rain rolled away the stone of allergy symptoms and let my heart's resurrected joy burst forth with vocal vivacity. I can't remember when I was last able to sing so clearly and strongly.

I attended an early service (7:30 a.m.) at New Covenant PCA in Abingdon, Md. I had also gone there for a Maundy Thursday service, when I experienced two disappointments: 1) Neither of the two families I knew there was attending that night, and 2) after communion, the final hymn was sung by the choir, rather than the congregation. But I found the folks there very warm and welcoming and had some nice conversations. I met the stated clerk of Chesapeake Presbytery, who is an RE there, and reminded him of the time we had corresponded via e-mail. I'd designed a flyer for a presbytery event, and Mr. O'Steen found fault with a long list of grammatical and punctuational items in the piece. Aside from a typo or two, which I happily repaired, I was able to defend every other choice on stylistic or aesthetic grounds. He was forced to concede the battle. Of course it was all much more friendly and respectful than the word "battle" might imply, and I had a lovely conversation with him and his wife on Thursday.

On Sunday I was a little less disappointed on the seeing my friends front. The sermon was given by New Covenant's director of youth and family ministries, and an old friend of mine, Don Dove. I had run into Don a couple years ago, but hadn't seen him for seven or eight years before that. His oldest daughter, whom I last saw as a baby, is now a lovely young lady of 10 years. The three sons that followed her were also in attendance. Before the service started, as Don was attending to other responsibilites, the children sat well-behaved in the front row of the sanctuary. The 5-year-old had the hymnal out and gave a quite cheerful and skillful rendition of "Up From the Grave He Arose." The 3-year-old joined him on bits of the chorus. There's something about little boys singing enthusiastically that delights me as daffodils and forsythia do. I first discovered this a week earlier while attending the Highlands Study Center conference where I was sitting behind the youngest Mr. Sproul, age 8, during the singing of a hymn or two, and noted to myself that I'd never heard a young male of the species sing with such zeal, and that I rather liked the sound of it. Alas, the youngest Mr. Dove was at home with his mama, who was not feeling well enough to attend.

Nor were my other old friends in attendance. It had been eight or nine years since I'd seen them, and reports indicate that they have not been idle in the meantime. They are expecting their dozenth child! When we attended the same church years ago (where I also met Don and Jenny), and Shawn and Renee had only half so many children, I was present once when a woman made a snide comment to Shawn about the quantity of his progeny. I nonchalantly replied that as long as they had enough love to give to their kids it didn't bother me in the least how many they had. I hardly thought anything about the exchange, but Renee told me later that my comment had really impressed Shawn. I still don't think it was such an impressive comment, but I guess they were so used to being persecuted for their quiverfull convictions that any response not entirely inimical would have made an impact.

I was not diappointed in the singing at this service. Not only was there no choir, there wasn't even a piano. I am by no means of the anti-instrumentalist stripe, but it was pleasant to hear for a change the bare voices of God's people exultantly exalting their risen King in half a dozen hymns led by Mr. O'Steen.

Next stop on my Paschal tour was Christ Reformed Evangelical Church, Annapolis, Md., where I've been attending since the beginning of March when I finally came to the difficult decision to leave Faith. CREC won't be a permanent home, but has been and will, I trust, continue to be a blessing until I relocate to St. Peter Presbyterian Church. Lord willing, that move will take place before the end of summer. I arrived early for the service at CREC and sat crocheting in the car for a few minutes before going into the building where, again, marvelous singing made up a generous portion of the service. And there was only one hymn duplication from the earlier service (I'm not going to count "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" to two different tunes as a duplication). I can't remember now what the text was, but the tune was "Ebenzer (Ton-y-Botel)," which, to my mind, isn't a very Eastery tune. The final hymn was "A Mighty Fortress," which, though it's not a specifically Eastery text, fit perfectly with the triumphant joyfulness of the day.

I had decided the day before to wean myself off note-taking, and just listen to the sermon. Thus was my envy provoked when the dad behind me doled out composition books to his four older children. I wanted to reach over and snatch an empty page or three! But I restrained myself and resorted to my other listening technique of repeating every word in my head. I was able to pay attention, but I'm not sure how much of the message I retained. I was disappointed to learn that I'd missed this family joining the church the previous Lord's Day. Their five children were scheduled for baptism, too, but when the day arrived, there were six children! Not willing to miss the day, Mama and 2-day-old baby were in attendance for the happy occasion. This trumped the first church appearance of 3-day-old Jeremiah Saenz (last entry on page) last October. Although I had only met the new mama a week before the family joined, I'm already inclined to have a high opinion of the family. The husband had been a part-time AOG pastor when his beliefs had shifted to a more Reformed perspective. I imagine it must have been quite a temptation to cling to job security rather than pursue truth. Honorable choices impress me.

Another CREC family I've chatted with on several occasions asked me if I had lunch plans. I almost wish I could have said No, just for the opportunity of spending time with someone from the church beyond the few minutes after the service, but I had already committed to lunch at my friend Joan's house with whatever other Faith folks she could collect. It ended up being eight singles -- Carneal and seven women. We teased him about having a harem and he scolded Joan for not inviting more men. It was a delicious meal, to which my contribution was a loaf of coconut curry bread. Lisa, who had done most of the cooking -- lamb, chicken, carrots, potatoes, asparagus, hot crossless buns (she didn't get around to the icing) -- had especially requested a reprisal of my bread and has told me that she's going to get a bread machine just to be able to make it herself! I can't blame her -- it's a marvelous recipe. Only trouble is it takes at least a whole package of coconut flakes. I mean, it only calls for 2/3 cup, but the bag always seems to be myteriously empty before I make the recipe again....

Socializing with Faith folks was hard. In some ways it would be easier to just withdraw quickly and completely rather than endure a months-long process of saying good-bye and explaining my decisions to leave Faith and to move to St. Peter. But that would be cowardly and unloving. I just wish I could avoid the pain of hearing things such as, "Don't you like us anymore?" from people who do not know how I have wrestled with these things for years. No one yesterday made such a comment, for which I am grateful, but it was still hard to listen to them describe the service at Faith and not be able to join in. I don't regret my decision to leave, though. I don't want to recount all the details here. Suffice it to say that I decided to leave after extensive discussion with my pastors and with their permission and blessing. They confirmed that I was not being divisive or rebellious, but had gone about the process about as well as could be done. I was exceedingly grateful for this confirmation, and for their graciousness in general. The last time I left a church, I did not leave well or wisely. I rejoice that I have grown in the interim. God has shown Himself gracious in this. He has also shown Himself gracious in the steadily increasing joy and peace I have known since these decisions were made.

I considered trying to find a Sunday evening service, too, but an extra-early start in the morning, and a full belly in the afternoon made for an irresistable bed in the evening.

Well, there you have my return to blogging. I'm going to forego the trumpetestuous fanfare previously promised since I don't know if I'll stick with it or find the need to back off again.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 4/12/2004 03:39:00 PM • Permalink
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