"" Writer's Wanderings: May 2006

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


When we sketched out the pond for the landscapers to install, I didn't think much about its size. I wanted it large enough to put some nice plants in it and some fish. As many things in life do, it grew bigger than I planned. It is a lot of work to keep it cleaned up and the alga under control (especially this time of year).

Today I looked out the window and was greeted by a beautiful water lily bloom. Its translucent blushing pink petals were opened to the sun drinking in its warmth. What a beautiful surprise.

Hard work has its rewards.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Does God Love an Atheist?

I ran across an interesting article about Julia Sweeney, a former SNL cast member (http://marty-center.uchicago.edu/sightings/archive_2006/0525.shtml). She quit the show in 1994 to go out on her own in Los Angeles. Shortly after, a series of tragedies including the death of her younger brother caused her to question and eventually give up her faith. She had been a practicing Catholic.

At first she came out with a comedy monologue called, God Said, "Ha!", implying that God had a weird sense of humor. Then when she finally gave up on God entirely, she put together a monologue called, Letting Go of God. The article describes it this way:

Furthermore, she finds that the Bible contains no satisfactory response to her personal tragedies. In a manner at once poignant and comical, she recalls her brother's months of "unspeakable suffering," comparing them bitterly to Jesus' relatively quick death and resurrection: "Someone once said: 'Jesus had a really bad weekend for our sins.'" As the Bible study course progresses, she finds herself turning away from the "bi-polar" deity found in the Bible's "nutty stories." Finally, she accedes to a little voice inside that has been whispering, to her horror, "There is no God."

The line that bothered me was "Jesus had a really bad weekend for our sins." A bad weekend? Perhaps Sweeney is only considering physical pain. She discounts mental anguish, verbal abuse, and a broken heart. Also discounted are the three days he spent in hell. Been there lately? No, neither have I but I can't imagine the horror of that. And, what is time? I can remember an auto accident when a few seconds felt like hours as I watched the windshield splinter ever so slowly before my eyes.

But all argument over whose pain was greater, Jesus or her brother's, aside, Sweeney isn't exactly the atheist she portends to be. After all, she named the monologue, Letting Go of God. How do you let go of something you don't believe exists?

Thankfully, Jesus spent that weekend...and more...because he loves Julia Sweeney too.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Audio Books

For a long time I fought the notion of listening to a book instead of reading it. I didn't want my imagination to be tainted by the inflections of a reader, or the interpretation of the voices of characters. Then I started driving to Wheaton each year for a conference. I found it much nicer to listen to a book for six hours than to keep jiggling the seek button on my radio to tune in a station every 50 miles or so.

Now, I'm really into the audio thing. I always have a CD or tape of a book in my car. Sometimes it takes a couple of months to finish a book. (I don't do a lot of driving. I'm sort of chained to the computer at home.) I only get books that are non-fiction for driving around town. They are easier to find your place again when you haven't listened in a while. The novels I save for the long trips--like down to Columbus to visit the grandkids. I was tempted once to circle the block to finish off a good book but with those little eyes watching out for Grandma, I figured it wasn't a good idea.

I've learned to time the endings better.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

DaVinci Da Choice

I've always thought of life as a series of choices. You choose to follow an occupation. You choose a spouse, where to live, how many children to have. You choose what books to read and movies to see. You choose to believe...well, whatever you believe.

I have had an unusual amount of hits recently on a previous posting from over a year ago. It was about visiting Milan and viewing DaVinci's Last Supper--before reading Brown's code. It wasn't intended to open a debate. It was posted to say merely that I enjoyed the work of art and did not look for hidden meanings. That was my choice.

These are some of the other choices I have made:
  • I choose to believe the Gospels are true, written by men who walked with Jesus, saw Jesus and recorded what happened. When the Bible was put together, the criteria was that it be the earliest writings (less lost to memory) and from those closest to Jesus.
  • I choose to believe God had a hand in what was written in the Bible.
  • I choose, by faith, to believe in Jesus as my Savior and Lord.
  • I choose, by faith, to believe that God chose to send his son, Jesus, to sacrifice himself in order to give those who believe the gift of salvation.
  • I choose, by faith, to beleive that Jesus rose from the grave to show us that we can have victory in life as well as death.
  • I choose to believe in that sacrificial act of love and the freedom God gives me to make those choices.
  • I choose not to remain anonymous in my faith.

[Check out The DaVinci Code: The Biblical Response]

Friday, May 12, 2006

Microsoft Robotic Mania

This week I spent several days in Las Vegas with my husband at a conference for Microsoft's Embedded Devices. At least I think that's what it was. I don't do well with the technical stuff. I went to spend some time with him, get rid of the distractions around the house so I could concentrate on some new book ideas, and yes, to enjoy the excitement that only neon Las Vegas creates.

Wednesday night was a special dinner for the conferees and guests at Tao's restaurant and nightclub in the Venetian. The entertainment for the evening was a robotic competition. Now when you say "robots" to me, I conjure up pictures of large people-shaped metal creatures with arms and legs and a voice that says, "Danger, Will Robinson!"


We stood on a balcony overlooking three large boxes with white rings on top of them. Men were paired off at each box and at the signal of the referee, they placed little square 8" boxes of metal parts in the ring and pushed a switch. When the program finally started running, little red lights flashed and the boxes began moving--sometimes in circles, sometimes straight for the competition. The winner was declared when his robot pushed the other robot out of the ring.

Men stood around cheering, jeering, and high-fiving. Huh?

Is this the future replacement for boxing, wrestling, and chicken fighting?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Farting Dogs and Meatball Weather

What fun to spend a day with the grandkids! We spent hours walking around the zoo having as much fun balancing on the curbs while we walked as we did in seeing the elephants and their friends. But the best part of the day was the quiet time we spent when we got back. We did my favorite thing--read.

Children's books have gone far beyond Dr. Seuss. The two good reads we did were about a farting dog that almost got sent back to the pound because of his flatulence and a town called Chewandswallow that never had to shop for food because it came from their weather every day. The dog saved himself from the pound by fending off some burglars--by farting, of course. But the townspeople had to desert their homes when their weather went haywire and gave them more than they could eat. When the weather said "Cloudy with meatballs" they ran for cover.

Ahhhh, what little imaginations will do with those stories...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Heart Blossoms

Have you been enjoying our spring this year? Are you like me and go outdoors and just breathe in the freshness that this time of year brings, especially after an April shower? It is like being set free from winter and ready for a new adventure as the garden begins to pop with color. I found a passage in Isaiah that kind of describes those feelings.

“Even the wilderness will rejoice in those days. The desert will blossom with flowers. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel’s pastures and the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God.” Isaiah 35:1-2

The mountains of Lebanon are a beautiful place, snow-capped and greened with cedar trees. Waterfalls flow down the sides of the mountain, especially in spring as the snow melts back. Imagine the burst of color when the trees bloom with their reddish 2-4 inch long catkins—the blooms that produce the cones.

As mountains go, Carmel is not very high. It sits near the Mediterranean Sea. Anemones and cyclamen grow wild on the sides of the mountain. As you look south along the coast you look over the plain of Sharon with its fertile fields fed from the cool waters that flow from the mountains. What the joy that all that blossoming must bring.

We drive across the Cuyahoga Valley to church each Sunday. It is probably the best measure of the coming of new life that the spring season brings. While in the winter it can be beautiful with a fresh snowfall, when there is no snow, it is full of barren trees and brown grasses. Everything appears dead. But as soon as the weather begins to warm and spring rains and sunshine begin to comfort those dormant plants, the valley begins to show a tint of yellow green that turns into a deeper green speckled with white and pink blossoms as plants and trees burst forth in bloom.

That’s kind of like our lives many times. We feel barren, dead, colorless. But then God shines the light of his Son on us and rains down blessings and we blossom with new life—new hope. It is there in that blossoming dessert Isaiah says, that God will display his glory and his splendor.

My lilac bushes are just about to open up and grace my yard with color and fragrance. I’ve been watching them—expectantly. If, instead of opening their buds and welcoming God’s sunshine and rain, they remained closed and dried up, the glorious color and splendid fragrance God gifted them with would never be known.

Open your heart to God’s son and accept his rain of blessings and let his glory and splendor be shown in you.

As it says in Isaiah, “The desert will blossom with flowers. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy!” When our dessert flowers, our joy soars, and yes, we may even start singing.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Buy a Building Name

A recent news story told of a community that was selling the rights to name a school in their area. This buy-a-building-name craze is really spreading. What happpened to the idea that public buildings were named for people who had done something for their community, state, or country?

Our arena which is home to the Cavaliers used to be known as the Gund, named after the owner of the Cavs. I believe he helped build the place and certainly has contributed to our community. Now the fellow from Quicken Loans has bought the team and immediately the name of the arena changed to the Quicken Loan Arena. It is sheer out and out advertising--albeit expensive advertising. Every side of the building has a huge Quicken Loan sign in blazing lights. The side facing Jacobs Field (our ballpark) is prudently placed where it can be seen by most people in the stands and, when a home run is hit, stands a good chance of being seen by TV viewers.

And now we are going to sell naming rights to schools?

I would ask what's next--names for babies? But that's already been done on e-bay. Maybe we'll sell the rights to name the Washington Monument or the Empire State Building. After all, if it's all about revenue wouldn't that help add to the coffers of state and federal governments? Maybe lower taxes? Sure. Do you suppose someone would go for buying the right to name my house? I see mortgage payments disappearing with that prospect.

It will be sad to see this turn into a vanity or marketing ploy with all of our public buildings. Sad because it's a sign that we are loosing respect for the memory or appreciation of the people who never ask for anything in return when they contribute to society but are at least honored by their name being on a building or a monument or sometimes only a plaque on a wall--not even lit by lights.
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