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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Reverse rapture

My heart sank when I learned in my twenties that I ought to believe that one day the righteous, the group to which I aspired to belong, were one day to suddenly be removed from Earth to some other place to be with the Lord. Not fair, I thought–all those righteous deeds, including being a good steward of this beautiful earth, and the cleansing of the blood of the Messiah and all, and we’d have to leave it to the damned evil doers?  I was to picture flames and destruction consuming the earth, transforming it into some kind of hell, good farmers and women grinding grain taken to heaven just in time, evil farmers and evil women grinding grain left behind. “One taken and the other left,” (Matt 24:40-41) with no warning.

Then I became suspicious. Despite the raging success of such popular Christian fiction as the Left Behind books and movie series (which, to be fair, I probably should read), there were rumors that maybe they had it backwards. Very quiet rumors, very hopeful but apparently subversive. Never from the pulpit. There was only the debate about whether the righteous would escape the tribulation beforehand (pre-tribulation rapture) or have to endure some shortened version of it (post-trib). But technically there were fifty-fifty odds of it being the righteous or the wicked that would be taken (didn’t say which), and maybe the Bible didn’t actually teach the former. Maybe someone who had no sense of responsibility toward the earth, no qualms about humans exploiting it to within an inch of its sustainable life, just assumed we would want to, and get to, start fresh somewhere nice.

(I will say that none of the congregations to which I have belonged over the years made any fuss about such things in my presence, but it is a rather intriguing subject, and not so straightforward as some make it out to be.)

In C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle (Narnia Chronicles), there is a beautiful vision of the kind of ending I hope to see one day. Have you read it? Beforehand there is tribulation, and judgment (separation of those who have served the good, life-giving Aslan, knowingly or unknowingly, and those who have served the devouring, violent god Tash–each goes to be with their god), and then the servants of the king pass through to a restored Narnia which is somehow more real, more Narnia, more true, pure, and in harmony with its inhabitants. The old Narnia, the precursor to the real, perishes in fire and water at the end of time. There is a sense of new, interesting life and purpose in the new Narnia, not quiet, musical retirement. Those who have entered have restored health and strength, and opportunity to be useful, to keep on becoming better and more worthy of close fellowship with the king.

There’s a lot more to the story that also rings true, and I hope you are young enough or old enough to read it if you haven’t already (I don’t think Hollywood will be able to deal with these deeper aspects of the story, any more than it did with the elves or Tom Bombadil in Lord of the Rings). Such a vision seems a possibility more worthy of the creator who cares for every sparrow than an abandonment of the creation as if it were somehow just a backdrop to the story of humanity.

No doubt someone will eventually comment on my faulty End Times theology, my tendency to believe only what makes sense to me and resonates with my experience instead of taking the Bible literally and trusting certain authoritative leaders to do the interpreting for me. Maybe someone will warn me of the spiritual danger I am in, exhort me to accept true doctrine once again and attend an approved End Times seminar series as soon as possible, so I can be ready for the Rapture. I do want to be ready, but since Jesus said no one will know the day and the hour and that the best I can do is be about his business doing good, making sure the vines are pruned and the servants have fair wages and so on, I’ll aim for that.

I close with one of my favorite psalms. I love the part about the wagon tracks.

Psalm 65
(English Standard Version)

For the choir director: A song. A psalm of David.

Praise is due to you,O God, in Zion,
and to you shall vows be performed.
O you who hear prayer,
to you shall all flesh come.
When iniquities prevail against me,
you atone for our transgressions.
Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
the holiness of your temple!

By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas;
the one who by his strength established the mountains,
being girded with might;
who stills the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples,
so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.

You visit the earth and water it;
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide their grain,
for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2013 in Beautiful Earth, Religion & Spirituality

 

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November 29th, 2013: Happy Buy Nothing Day!

Not sure how to embed, but here’s the link to Adbusters.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2013 in Culture & Society, Economics

 

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Welcome to Eaarth

I’m reading Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben, getting an update on how our planet’s systems are already on Tilt, already irreversibly different, while we muddle around, send our leaders jet-setting to climate change initiative conferences, reading in the papers how they fret and fuss about who can and will pay the price of even responding to present crises, let alone preparing for the next. Taking notes, hoping to have an influence in my circles. I am floored, thinking about it all, asking what do we do, and how do we get everyone on board faster, faster? How do we act justly toward the poor countries who are most affected by our voracious consumption, our addiction to growth, our willful blindness to the laws of physics and ecology? Quickly, before mammalian survival instincts take over and the higher human values of justice and equity get trampled? Quickly, while “the preservation of the American way of life” is still positively correlated to preserving lives in other places? How do we divert our tremendous drive and creativity away from making junk and trouble to solving our problems and creating a new paradigm for our culture?

Between chapters I am aware of the irony, the hypocrisy as I drive one son forty miles to a swim meet and back (and out to a coffee shop for my treat between events). And why is it the trucks and SUVs seem to be the most likely to be going ten mph over the speed limit, anyway? Because SUVs and new pickups have such a smooth, quiet ride, drivers can’t hear the pistons pumping, the engine laboring, so it feels like nothing at all to press down the pedal, can still hear Pink Floyd crystal clear on the Bluetooth audio. Me in my ’93 Accord, I can feel and hear that gas burning (and some of the oil, too), and it makes me want to cut down. Lord, save us from too much luxury, insulation from realities we need to know about.

How about a series of training seminars for auto salespeople, helping them realize it’s not responsible to sell big machinery to people for commuting down the freeway, getting them to seed the whole auto-buying clientele with the idea that we all want to power down. FERC warning labels on low fuel economy vehicles too, like cigarettes, if people insist on buying them. Only takes ten per cent to believe it, and it’ll spread like wildfire (whether it’s true or not–see the article). Sell gas-guzzlers by permit only, with special controls on weekly mileage and speed. Discounts for shared ownership in the New Sharing Economy. Neighborhoods, through the new online neighborhood social networks, for example, organize the ownership or lease and booking of the heavy duty truck for hauling recyclable metals to the recyclers, prunings to the community composting site, a load of lumber to the building site.

The next day I drive my son a few miles down the freeway to early practice, and go back and pick him up an hour and a half later. I go for a run before breakfast lest I become too flabby and weak from living my sedentary lifestyle. Then I drive my son to the bus stop because our bikes were stolen, and so he can avoid straining his back carrying heavy textbooks and swim gear.  My husband drives our daughter to her school because she stayed up late doing homework after procrastinating all afternoon with her smart phone. Then he drives alone sixty-five miles to work for the week. At noon I drive my younger son to Phys. Ed. class so he can stay in shape too, and I take another walk to drop off a check to pay for my weekly exercise class. At five I drive a few miles to the high school athletics meeting, where we hear about the positive life lessons the kids learn in high school sports, and find out about all the swim meets we’ll all be driving to and watching in nice heated indoor pools.

Time to get more serious about using my bike, when I’m not hauling bulk groceries or working through my checklist that takes me all over town, or picking up kids, dropping off kids. Time to stop ferrying the kids around to everything, time to say “Sorry, here’s the bus schedule.” I’ve been trying to resist that pressure, explaining why I’m trying to limit driving, why when my teens get their licenses, they won’t automatically get a spare car and not have to take the bus.

As I contemplate the eventual spiraling down of the oil-powered economy, the abandonment of extraneous or dilapidated and unfixable facilities and infrastructure and wasteful habits in order to focus on basic needs, I’m thinking, what are essential skills, knowledge, and attitudes that have value in all times and places? Getting adequate food – fishing, hunting and gathering, food storage, preservation and preparation. Getting clothed and sheltered – making coverings and dwellings from local materials. Having fun together/building community-music, poetry, story telling, dance, service. Staying healthy – first aid, medicine, nutrition, safety, defense, peace making. Parenting – raising children to be content and capable. Teaching. Writing. Woodworking, ceramics, metal work, fiber craft. Natural history. Spiritual guidance. Teamwork, leadership, respect. And we will need plenty of knowledge and wisdom and we might not be able to Google it, so I won’t get rid of my books just yet.

“Like someone lost in the woods, we need to stop running, sit down, see what’s in our pockets that might be of use, and start figuring out what steps to take.”

I listen to the news, and now I have enhanced filtration that makes a mockery of the economic policies explained by politicians there. The push for more oil pipeline and rail transport, more new overseas markets, moving to an even more global economy. In TV it’s ads for new cars, Black Friday specials on housewares, sports gear, toys and games, the newest gadgets. The jingle bells all ring hollow. Time to retrain everyone, time to reform the whole system–what we produce, what we promote, what we sell, to whom we sell it. In a positive way, of course, not through pressure and panic. Sharing the vision–we have to work together to figure out our common bottom line and make sure it all adds up to something positive.

This year at the family Thanksgiving I took charge of the compostables and recyclables for the first time. I live in a green city and have extra space in my bins, and my in-laws live in a non-recycling, non-composting kind of county, so it was something I could do to help. First year I stepped up to do that–leftover food, paper cups, aluminum foil, and plastic water bottles (Grandma needed to simplify on dishwashing this year–good for her) were all going into the same bin and I swooped in to quietly separate them. I had never done this before, been reluctant after in the past being what I would call undiplomatic about my green habits when I first came into my husband’s family. I was seen as extreme then. But it went very smoothly with a minimum of digging in the garbage, and the cat got her treats set aside too. Garbage reduced by two thirds.

I’m concerned, yes–very, but I’m looking forward to making myself useful on this tough, new planet.

 

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Image

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

20121122-2850-GMG

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Bowling team member accused of assault and battery

Typical. We all know how bowlers are, don’t we? It just goes to show.

Or,

Surfer Jailed for Drunk and Disorderly Conduct

Lacrosse Players Convicted of Rape

The question I’m trying to raise is why specify sport, except where the perpetrator is a world-renowned athlete, or the crime is directly connected with the sport, as in,

Golfer Clubs Hamster to Death,

Rugby Players Attack Opposing Team, or

Boxer Throws Female Admirer Out of the Ring, Cracking Ribs

Because headline writers count on raising reader interest by playing on stereotypes, so we can feel good about having them confirmed by an independent source.

Here are some real headlines I found, after I got fed one too many radio reports on football players’ crimes. Do these real headlines sound more plausible? Or do you wonder, like I do, what football has to do with the story at all?

High School Football Players Accused of Sexual Assault Make 1rst Court Appearance

Kishawn Tre Holmes & Byron Holt Jr., High School Football Players, Charged In Sexual Assault Case

Steubenville High School Football Players Convicted of Rape are Sentenced

3 Oregon State Football Players Jailed on Counts of 3rd Degree Assault, Disorderly Conduct

Football players are disproportionately represented in such headlines, from what I can tell.

If someone wants to show, with adequate data and good scientific analysis, that being a football player is associated with a predisposition toward violent crime more than any other sport (or along with, say, tennis or curling), they can go ahead and try. But it’s unfair to associate, without explanation, a crime with a sport, as it is with a race or nationality, just for effect. At the very least journalists should consider the feelings of the many upstanding and law-abiding football players (and their relatives and friends) among their readership.

So how about being fair and specifying all sports and leisure pursuits in crime headlines, and see what interesting reactions we can create in readers’ minds?

Diver Smothers Aunt in Fit of Rage

Hurdler Jumps Ship with Smuggled Cocaine

Head of Quilting Association Hijacks Small Aircraft

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Media, Writing

 

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“I thought it was tomorrow.” said one. “No, it’s today,” said the other. “Oh yeah!” said the first. “I forgot that yesterday, today was tomorrow!”

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2013 in Places & Experiences

 

“If he sees us, he’ll want to come home”

A mother stops by the school office with her two young children to drop something off. The little toddler on her hip asks about his brother—“Can we go see him?”

“ No, we don’t want him to see us,” the mom explains.

“Why don’t we want him to see us? The little sister pipes in.

“Because if he sees us, he’ll want to come home.” Striding quickly to the front door, she smiles at me on the way past.

 

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2013 in Education, Places & Experiences

 

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