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We’re going away for a few days to Lake George, so it will be quiet around here until Wednesday the 5th. Before going, I had a few important things to pass along.
I can’t believe that I actually missed the anniversary of our move to Vermont. It’s a hard date to pinpoint because our stupid, lousy, should-have-failed-the-inspection (gratuitous hyphen usage for all of you fans of THE MESSAGE), U-Haul broke down in North Jersey on a hot, humid day. Talk about purgatory. In any case, I think the official date that we pulled in to our Vermont home was June 26th, 2005. One day late, hot, and brimming with a fury greater than hell at U-Haul for abandoning us the day before.
Now the house has been repainted inside and out, a new floor is down in the kitchen and bathroom, and we have rabbits slowly undoing all of our progress. Life is pretty sweet. The picture at the top of this post is from this past Wednesday after we were slammed with a downpour all day. Driving home was something quite magical with the clouds hovering around the mountains, a clear blue backdrop, and the fresh smell of rain in the air. I promptly ran upstairs and snapped a few pictures of Red Mountain. I’ll post the rest of them to my Flickr account soon.
This blogging thing has also been a fun little project. I have enjoyed developing relationships through the internet and writing on a regular basis. Over the past two-three months my visitors have doubled, so I have a lot of people to thank for sending folk my way. Of course I need to thank those on my blog log. I also need to thank those who have slipped my mind presently, but have graciously posted links to inamirrordimly. Lastly, there are some people who have recently sent a lot of traffic to this site. I wanted to thank them in kind:
Lastly, if you click on the link below, you can see a picture of Bailey, one of our bunnies. You won’t regret it.
Yesterday’s Divine Hours had a “killer” Psalm reading. It’s one of those Psalms that is filled with terror and joy. It’s both disturbing and comforting. On one hand the writer describes all of the people and things that will fail us. He tears down our walls and lays us bare before God. We could stop reading here, become entangled in debates about how controlling God truly is, what his true nature is, what his intentions are, etc. It could be the end of our faith.
But then the Psalmist lightens up. In verse 18 he offers hope. The place of mercy and grace belongs to those who fear God and who hope in his steadfast love. There is no better place to be. May our hope rest in the steadfast love of the Lord today.
Psalm 33:13-22 ESV
13 The LORD looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
16 The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.
18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.
20 Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.
<%image(20060629-daysie.gif|200|78|daysie)%>If you’re a Vermont blogger such as myself, you may be interested to know that Kathy over at 802 Online and at Seven Days wants YOU to vote for the best Vermont blog: HERE. The voting is open to anyone, anywhere. Here are the rules from Kathy:
* Anyone, anywhere can vote.
* Everybody gets one vote. No ballot-box stuffing!
* The blogs you vote for must be on her blogroll. If you want to vote for a Vermont blog that’s not listed, let her know about it, and she’ll add it.
* Make sure you give them the URL, not the blog’s title.
* The polls close at 5pm on July 3.
Though 802 Online and Candleblog are some crowd favorites, I think that Politics Vermont is worth noticing.
At 8:00 pm last night I strolled out of my house with a few golf clubs slung over my shoulder and a pocket full of golf balls. A short walk accross the park next to our home brought me to the nine hole golf course in Arlington, VT. I’m not much of a golfer . . . by a long stretch. I have cheap clubs, a random assortment of balls I’ve found lying around, and know as much about form and technique as most Americans know about Arabic.
Even so, the point wasn’t so much about golfing, it was about getting out. When it rains 9 out of 10 days, you have to enjoy the clear days whenever they come. The walk is nice and it’s fun to have something to swing at occasionally.
The course is a nice flat field that is usually kept in good shape. I only pay $2 instead of the suggested four because I only play four to five holes. Experience, i.e. my first two attempts at the course, has revealed that my patience runs dry after the fourth hole . . . if I get lucky. Wacking away at my dirty little “Top Flight Elite 4,” I probably bumped off a few works with my lousy shots, put a few divits in the turf with miscalculated swings, and occasionally put the ball right where I wanted it. I even came one heart-breaking put away from par. Of course I managed to finish that hole two strokes OVER par.
The temptation in all of this is becoming absorbed in the game of golf, which may be fun for some, but not really for me. The trick for me is to play the game, but to enjoy my surroundings. The Battenkill runs next to holes 2 and 3. The Taconic range runs north to south to the west of the course, with Red Mountain towering directly over the tiny town of Arlington and Mount Equinox looming off in the distance like an older, wiser brother. The sunset over the mountains is startling, when it can be seen that is. And last night was no exception.
I could have spent my time hunched over my ball that refuses to fly straight with my threatening clubs that always seem to inhibit my true golfing potential and not noticed the comforting strength and stability of the mountains all around. In the midst of my game I could have missed the purples, yellows, and oranges of the sunset. But last night was different. Something compelled me to look at and savor the mountains the sky. The shades of green on the hills and mountains punctuated the desolate tracts that were picked clean by those horrid caterpillars. The swift rush of the river filled my ears instead of the distinct swish and clink of my clumsy clubs. Four holes was all I needed to get out and enjoy the blooming world around me.
Prior to an event I was among a crowd talking about their favorite book at the moment. Inevitably a certain book comes up and one if not two or three people laud it as a masterpiece. They were clearly impressed by the style and the claims of the book. I on the other hand knew they were wrong. Well, saying that I “knew” is perhaps going a bit far, but I had plenty of evidence to support my side of the issue.
Now, after I stop coughing and gagging from hearing the said book praised beyond its merit, I am faced with a dilemna.
1. Do I proceed to unveil my evidence that refutes the books tenuous status as “masterpiece”? The direct approach.
2. Do I take a subtle shot at it while praising the parts of it that are worthy of mention? Vaguely diplomatic
3. Do I keep my mouth shut? Non-confrontational
As an English major and lover of language and literature, it’s a real struggle. I want to praise the best works of literature and make sure that others are familiar with them. It galls me to see a popular page-turner inhabit a place that should be reserved for other works. The page-turner has its place and should be praised for its excellent qualities as a page-turner, but literature? I think not.
And while I am talking about a real situation with a book here, my little quandry over a book is also a parable of sorts for Christianity, doctrine, and discussion. Christian A thinks that the resurrectionof Jesus is optional. Christian B thinks that it is essential for Christians to believe in the resurrection. What is the best path to take?
It was a low key weekend for us with some swimming in a frigid quarry, minor work around the house, and some fruitless discipline of our rabbits who have decided it’s fun to dig out the contents of their litter box all over the cage. On Saturday we attended the wedding of Julie’s friend, and we played our new board game, Carcassonne, in our spare moments at home.
Carcassonne: Our Latest Obsession
<%image(20060626-Carcassonne-game.jpg|100|146|carcassonne)%>Not to be confused with the actual town of Carcassonne in France, we have quickly become quite entranced by the board game, Carcassonne. We have the basic game, though a host of expansions do exist, as Wikipedia attests. It is very possible that we have found the game that may supplant Settlers of Cataan as our family favorite. The real test will come during the family vacation up at Lake George. Carcassonne may be nice to play with other family members because it’s a bit simpler than Cataan.
<%image(20060626-meeple.jpg|200|150|meeple)%>The basic idea is to place your Meeples (little followers who have become popular in and of themselves, see here) on roads, farm land, castles, or cloisters in order to obtain the greatest number of points. Starting with a pile of land pieces with small pieces of cities, roads, or fields, each player pieces together a world and then populates it with their meeples. No one is knocked out of the game, the flow of the game is very fast, and it’s fairly entertaining. Carcassonne has been a staple for us over the past few days. Once again the Germans have captivated us with their board game prowess.
It’s always refreshing to attend a wedding and to be reminded of your own vows and commitment. This wedding was particularly nice because the ceremony was on a hill in upstate NY overlooking the mountains right over the Vermont border. We could see our own Red Mountain (the mountain in our back yard that is), Equinox, and a number of other mountains all around us. Down below us was a small lake that grew steadily still as the evening arrived, while the sunset was absolutely brilliant.
Comedy Central is not the place to find the best news reports and its certainly not the authority on religion, but this past week The Colbert Report had two segments on religion worth noting:
Bart Ehrman, author of the book Misquoting Jesus, appeared on the show and subjected himself to Stephen Colbert’s routine as outlandish “double devil’s advocate.” Colbert essentially takes the stance of conservative evangelicals, but does it in a tongue-in-cheeck manner, so that no side is favored over another. He simply takes shots at Ehrman, but also subtly plays with conservatives. It’s a very fun interview to watch, especially the part where he actually forces Ehrman to concede his error at one point.
As far as the book is concerned, Ehrman writes as a former conservative if not fundamentalist Christian who is disallusioned and now agnostic. After holding to a completely inerrant Bible, studying the history of textual transmission, and finding many errors in the process, he essentially concluded that the Bible is not reliable. This is a prime example of how an extreme doctrine of inerrancy can shipwreck our faith. The Bible is certainly reliable, true, and trustworthy, but the language of inerrancy can sometimes put too much emphasis on the Bible for our faith and not on God himself and the Christian community who have given us the Bible. Inerrancy taken to extremes can lay a trap for our faith that may be hard to escape.
I think that Ehrman is a scholar struggling to fit his research into his faith. Unfortunately his faith was too narrow to hold what he found.
Stephen Makes It Simple
Colbert jumps into the realm of religion and politics by tossing in this handgrenade of a statement,
“Little government mentions Jesus in a speech. Big government does what Jesus said.” Controversial, eh?