Saturday, April 21, 2007

in the news...

As many of you already know (and if you don't, I'm about to tell you), Ed and I own a television that receives no signals. That's right. We receive no TV programs whatsoever. We use our TV for watching DVDs and for catching up on exactly four shows: Lost, 24, American Idol, and Amazing Race (Ed watches this one). Other than that, we watch no TV.

We have lived like this for more than five years.

I love it.

I could go into a long spiel about why I love not having television. My main reasons include not letting brain-rotting, manipulative commercials, veiled (or not-so-veiled) pornography, and other immoral influences into my livingroom. (I mean, really: If these sit-com and drama situations were playing out live in your house, would you *really* just sit there and not throw these people out? I didn't think so.)

Besides, without the TV on all the time, our apartment is often blessedly quiet. Nobody comes in, flops down on the couch, and flips on the TV. I can hear myself think. It's so wonderful.

However, these aspects of our hardly-any-TV life aren't what I want to rant about this evening. ;o) No, the target I'm aiming for is actually the news.

Obviously, since we don't have TV, I don't watch the news. We don't get the newspaper, either. My only source for news are the headlines on the Yahoo! homepage.

Sometimes I click on these headlines, but mostly I don't. Nothing surprises me anymore. Not because I'm jaded, but because this is a fallen, sinful world, and evil, disturbed people are going to do evil, disturbed things. I don't need to know any of the details, because when you boil them down to their essentials, they all come back to the same thing: sin. There's only one way to combat sin, and that's with the Word of God. No branch of government in the world is going to be able to cure the evil of sin. Ever. So no news media can tell me anything about it that God's Word can't already tell me.

Anyway.... A few minutes ago, I glanced at Yahoo!'s news section and just had to shake my head at the things the news media thinks I should care about. Here are a few of my favorites:

How much are the Yankees (baseball team) worth?
Why should I care? I can't conceive of any situation in which this information could possibly make a difference in my life.

Which video game console is winning?
People are dying, and souls are being lost every second. Does the competition between video game consoles matter?

What's life really like after winning the lottery?
I don't think I should even comment on this one.

Then there's this: Woodstock for Capitalists.
I don't know what that means, but the headline was emblazoned across a picture of a man with purple hair. Not that I have anything against purple-haired men per se....but "Woodstock" and "capitalism" don't have particularly positive or interesting connotations for me.

Calif. station sued for Imus reruns
So what? By now, I'm thinking that I should be blogging something about all of these headlines, and I have no desire to click the link and read about yet another case of a celebrity earning somebody else's disapproval.

Alec Baldwin explains himself on the Web
Yeah, the guy's a jerk for calling his 11-year-old daughter a "thoughtless pig." I won't disagree with anyone on that. But where are the articles about all the other billions of children in the world who are physically and mentally abused by their parents? The media spotlight falls on Baldwin because he's famous, while billions of children remain ignored because their parents don't happen to be celebrities. The media's hypocrisy is staggering.

And finally,
Schwarzenegger lets MTV 'pimp' his ride
I don't care how much a part of pop culture it is, to me the word 'pimp' will always be a vulgar word defining someone who makes deals for prostitutes. But that thought aside...why should I care *what* Arnold lets MTV do to his car? Good grief, people, it's a CAR, he's a MAN, and MTV is...well, I won't say it here. ;o)

I guess that for me, what it all boils down to is this: The news media and pop culture present these things as though they are significant. They're not. They are grass that grows for a day and then withers and is blown away. They are chaff that is flung to the wind and scatters. They sparkle in the morning sun but are dull and dead by evening.

"...[W]e look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient [pass away], but the things that are unseen are eternal."
--2. Corinthians 4:18

Thursday, April 12, 2007

yay! i'm a pirate! avast, ye swabs and landlubbers!

If You Were Born in 2893...

Your Name Would Be: Umoro Cho

And You Would Be: A Space Pirate

Yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of-- Wait a minute. ;oD

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

reviewing the day

If you ever read my blog continuously, Gentle Reader, you already know that it is mainly a repository for whatever random thoughts are coursing through my head at a given blogging moment. I tend not to write anything about what I do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Tonight, however, just for fun, I thought I'd make an exception and blog about my day. ;o)

This morning, Ed and I took our bikes and rode the train 20 minutes to Steffen's house. Steffen is one of the leaders in the Chemnitz church, and he is teaching Ed and me New Testament Greek. We're getting into the section of lessons in which we start learning the exceptions to all the rules we've covered so far. This is fun, yet extremely hard. It makes me want to decline to decline nouns, you might say. ;o) However, I'm still having a good time with it. I love languages!

After Greek, we rode our bikes downtown and had lunch at Kervansaray. Huge crowd, so Joe was busy and we didn't get to chat with him. (We have invited him and his wife over for dinner, by the way. But he has to work every night except Sunday, and that's family night for them. So we're in a quandary on that one. I'll keep you posted.)

This is getting longer than I wanted it to be, so here's the rest of the day in brief:

After lunch, Ed went to Leipzig with Larry. I ran some errands; rode my bike 35 minutes to get home; had a half hour of downtime; rode the train *back* downtown to meet Vanessa so we could go to the Max Klinger art exhibit (incredible! I am so inspired to sit down and draw and paint and do neat creative stuff!); rode the Stra├čenbahn (tram) and bus back home; spent five minutes changing clothes; then went across the street to the physical therapy place for one hour of pilates, followed by one hour of yoga. Came home totally wiped out (arriving home at the same time as Ed) and made the very unhealthy move of eating supper at 9:30pm while watching "Lost".

And Wednesdays are supposed to be my day off. Ha! ;o)

Might sound crazy, but I feel good. Now I'm going to go use my Nasendusche ("nose shower"; aka flushing my sinuses with salt water) and go to bed. Gute Nacht!

Monday, April 09, 2007

book comments 2 (plus a few odds 'n' ends)

I just have a few minutes, as I promised myself I would sit down and do my Greek homework this afternoon. Have I mentioned that Ed and I are taking a class in New Testamnt Greek? I am having oodles of fun with it! I enjoy languages so much…

Anyway, I wanted to do my second and third “book review” really fast. This time, I’ve just finished reading:

The Four Loves
The Screwtape Letters
by C.S. Lewis

I won’t say much about these two books, mainly because any comments I might make would be woefully inadequate for describing either the works themselves or the reactions of my heart to them. The main thought I want to share is my opinion that anyone who is curious to read something indepth about the human condition or about Christianity should read these two books.

And I also think that specifically every Christian should read them. Lewis is just an extraordinary thinker. Those of you who know me know that I’m not one to go ga-ga over any kind of celebrity, either in mainstream culture or in the “religious world”…but I wish I could’ve had just one conversation with Lewis. He was possessed of a depth of wisdom and spiritual understanding that is very, very rare today. I’m thankful that we have the benefit of his written works.

A “caveat emptor,” however: These two books do not make for light reading. Approach them with respect, with concentration, and with the intention to suck the marrow out of them. I often had to back up and re-read almost an entire page, simply to understand what it was I had actually read. Sometimes, especially while reading The Four Loves, I wished for a handbook like “C.S. Lewis for Dummies” or something like that. Still, I recommend these books to anyone and everyone. They are a wonderful and rewarding challenge.

On The Four Loves: Among many other things, Lewis examines the true meaning of loving friendship. Through his explanations, I understood a bit more about what God means in the principles He gives us through scripture. I had something of an epiphany, recognizing that my heart hasn’t been in the right place regarding several friendships. I felt humbled to see how very much I still need to grow in this area.

On The Screwtape Letters: This is a series of letters written by a “head demon” to one of his underlings, who is also his “nephew.” The nephew has just gotten his first assignment to try tempting an unsuspecting human into sin and damnation. The head demon is writing advice on just how to tempt the human most effectively. It was a fairly uncomfortable experience, reading about us humans’ daily trials from what is basically Satan’s perspective. Actually, since I often saw myself in the unsuspecting human, reading this book was kind of scary. It was also unnerving to see that even 60 years ago, Lewis was identifying trends in society that eventually led to the increase in immorality that we see in Western society today. This, too, was a humbling and sobering reading experience.

In other news, today it is almost 60 degrees Fahrenheit in Chemnitz. However, the brick walls of our apartment have not yet warmed up, which means that the apartment is cold. I’m sitting here with the heaters on and my feet resting on a hot water bottle. Go figure. ;o)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

April is National Poetry Month!

...Hence, I am posting a few of my favorite poems:


`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

--Lewis Carroll

What Is Success?

What is success?
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

What though the tempest round me roars?
I know the Truth; it liveth;
What though the darkness round me blows?
Songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake that inmost calm
While to that Rock I'm clinging.
Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

--Quaker hymn

Monday, April 02, 2007

a hard truth

"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.

"We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken successes, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!"

--from Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation of 1863

Sunday, April 01, 2007

all i can do is roll my eyes, sigh, and go on

If you will recall, Gentle Readers, back in February I posted this about my frustrations concerning Elfwood. At the time, I was irritated that the moderators rejected my painting of a castle on the grounds that it "wasn't in the fantasy genre." And, if you will recall, I mentioned having found--on Elfwood!--a pic of a sculpture of a rather normal-looking brain, which was accepted as fantasy because the artist claimed it was an orc brain.

Finally, may I note once again my prediction that if I re-submitted my castle pic and described it as a repository for orc brains harvested by Our Hero, then the moderators would accept my "out-of-genre" picture as fantasy....

Well, guess what. Hidey-ho, neighborinos, I did as I promised, and they did exactly as I predicted. The "offending" picture is now available here for your bemused viewing pleasure.

I really don't think I need to comment further on this. ***MUCH EYE-ROLLING*** ;o)

You can also check my bio page for links to my other newest uploads.

If you're inspired to give me feedback, please leave your comments directly below the pics themselves, as I love getting comments on my Elfwood pages! Thanks!

Yours, smirking at the silliness of it all,