Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The G.S.E.: Church E

This past Sunday we visited friends in another state. One of our friends (*not* an Anglican!) suggested we go to the local Anglican church on Sunday morning before meeting up with the rest of the crowd for lunch. We hadn't been to an Anglican eucharist in quite a while, so we jumped at the chance. The congregation apparently bought an old Presbyterian church some time ago, so unlike many Anglican groups, this one had its own facilities. The priest and assistant priest greeted us at the door, as well as a couple of ushers.

We walked in and found our seats. The pianist was playing a beautiful prelude and... there were KNEELERS! The processional began and the choir came in, following the cross. The service was Rite I from the '79 prayer book. We sang the traditional Gloria, and I almost wept, because it has been years since I had the opportunity to sing that. The cantor did a glorious job with the psalm. The sermon was actually about sin and hell. (You don't get that very often from an Anglican pulpit!) And Origen was even mentioned!! After the recessional, the pianist played an amazing rendition of "A Mighty Fortress". I refused to leave until he'd finished, so we stood near the back for a bit.

That was a mistake, because apparently several folks in the congregation had spotted us as visitors, and came to say hello. What was the first thing many said? "Y'all are Anglican, aren't you?" "Well, yes, we are." "OOOhhh! Are you new to the area?" "No, we're from out of town. and just visiting our friend." ::disappointed look:: "Well, we are SO glad you came today!" If we lived in our friend's town, we would not be on this Great Sociological Experiment, because we would have found our new church this past Sunday. ::sigh::

I have to keep telling myself that God has us where we are for a reason. Otherwise I would just weep.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Duck and cover - it's raining liberals and conservatives!

All right. I'm about to post something inordinately controversial. Not because I'm trying to stir up a hornet's nest, but because I'm honestly trying to understand something about America. With that caveat, please don't harangue me in the comments! ::grin::

Everyone will agree that there are "liberals" and "conservatives" out there. And that often they are completely in opposition to one another on a whole host of issues. So what I'm endeavoring to do is come up with some broad definitions of various types of liberals and conservatives. It won't be comprehensive, but hopefully it will help me see the differences - and similarities - that the differing ideologies hold. I've tried to be fair, as well. Regardless of my own position, I want to be respectful of what others believe even though I may disagree. I added a few citations, but I also referred to Wikipedia a lot for individual designations and to clarify/condense particular positions. So here it goes:


Fiscal Conservative: Advocates a reduction in overall government spending, deficit and national debt reduction, and balancing the federal budget. Free trade, deregulation of the economy, and lower taxes are also key points.

Neoconservative: Focuses on a robust national security, an aggressive foreign policy, stimulating economic growth by lowering taxes, and finding alternative ways to deliver public welfare services.

Paleoconservative: Concerned with preserving the American culture. Also emphasizes a connection with the past, and tend to be family-oriented, religious-minded and opposed to the vulgarity permeating modern culture.

Social Conservative: Adheres strictly to a moral ideology based on family-values and religious traditions. US social conservatives are mostly right-wing and hold firmly to a pro-life, pro-family and pro-religion agenda.

Crunchy Conservative: Tends to focus more on family-oriented, culturally conservative concepts such as being good stewards of the natural world and avoiding materialism in everyday life. Often as mistrustful of big business as they are of big government.

1. U. S. Conservatives (from About.com)
2. Mark Levin, Liberty and Tyranny


Socio-economic Liberal: Does not believe in the fairness of market outcomes and sees a legitimate government role in promoting efficiency and more equitable wealth distribution. Not concerned about civil issues over much, but are quite interested in government regulation of the economy.

Statist Liberal: Believes in a strong centralized government, which includes a major role in the direction of the economy, both directly through state-owned enterprises and indirectly through the state-directed economic planning of the overall economy. Also sees the Constitution as an evolving contract, and sees the need of government to modulate 'mob rule'.

Minority Rights Liberal: Focuses on the civil issues, ranging from implementing a safety net for the needy to the extreme of a totally managed economy. Seek to assist the poor/minorities through taxation policy, government welfare policies, nationalization of portions of the American economy, and strong government regulations.

Environmentalist Liberal: Focuses on environmental conservation and improvement of the state of the environment. Also seeks to influence the political process by lobbying, activism, and education in order to protect natural resources and ecosystems.

Civil Libertarian Liberal: Believe in the supremacy of individual rights. Believe that the government should not pass laws that restrict, oppress, or selectively fail to protect people in their day-to-day lives, whether the issue is pornography, gay marriage, drug legalization, or prostitution.

Anti-Authoritarian Liberal: Concerned with the moral legitimacy of governance and seek democratic reforms to government and corporations. They applaud appeasement, reparations, and apologies for past injustices. Often they hold the philosophical idea that people are not bound to any non-human authority.

1. Liberalism and Conservatism
2. Democratic Underground
3. Progressive Policy Institute

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Best Comment EVER!

"I really wish these people like [Nancy Pelosi] would make up their minds! First, those who opposed socialized healthcare and Death Panels were Nazis, so I had to buy an armband. Then we were angry members of a mob, so I had to go make a sign. Then we were tools of sinister insurance corporations, so I spent all of one day looking for where I could pick up my tool paycheck. Then after that we were mindless, toothless, uneducated rubes controlled by Rush and Beck, and now we are assassins, so I gotta go take off my seedcorn cap and overalls and see if my Black Ops uniform still fits. Sheesh!"

From here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Defending Myself

I really shouldn't have to do this. But with all the newsprint (and internet bandwidth) given over to the "Health Care Debate," I feel I should say something in my defense. "What!" you say? Well, it's obvious.... haven't you heard? Chronic illness is preventable. It's all chalked up to lifestyle choices. And I have three chronic illnesses, so I must be responsible - through my terrible choices - to the high cost of medical care and insurance. (/sarcasm)

It's true. I have three chronic illnesses. But none were related to "lifestyle choices." I don't drink. I don't smoke. I eat healthily and I exercise regularly. But if you read nearly any article about the health debate written recently, there's little differentiation between folks like me, and folks who really have lived a life of debauchery and decadent living (or at least didn't do a good job maintaining a healthy lifestyle.) I did a quick Google search, and found several prime examples.

“Unfortunately, largely avoidable chronic illness- things like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease- are a national epidemic. They account for 75 cents of every health care dollar spent. And they're driving up the cost of health care and insurance.” (Blue Cross, Blue Shield, North Dakota)

“These recession-related repercussions could not come at a worse time in the state’s battle against rising health care costs and preventable chronic disease,” said Valerie Fleishman, executive director of NEHI. “Through unhealthy behaviors, people are becoming unnecessarily ill at a time when we can least afford it.” (New England Healthcare Institute)

"Lifestyle choices contribute to chronic illness -- and ultimately higher health insurance costs,"…

“Today chronic illness accounts for two-thirds of a company's health care expenditure, yet 80 percent of all chronic disease is the result of three preventable health behaviors -- physical inactivity, poor nutrition and overeating, and smoking.” (Even During Financial Crisis, Investing in Wellness is Good Business Oct. 21, 2008)

“As a medical student and briefly as an intern physician, I've seen many patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. … What's more amazing is how these three conditions are fairly preventable with diet, exercise, and weight control.” (Dr. Anthony Lee, Jan 12, 2008 )

“Less than 1% of chronic illness is truly genetic in nature. Essentially, this means that chronic illness is preventable.” (How our lifestyle choices are causing us to sink into chronic illness, Colleen Trombley)

"On May 12, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on health care reform. …They gave the reasons that experts -- on right or left -- always give for supporting this idea [ending the tax exemption on employer-provided health benefits]. …It drives up health care costs by encouraging luxurious plans and by separating people from the consequences of their decisions." Brooks, David. "Something for nothing.(Editorial)." The New York Times 158.54715 (June 23, 2009)

“Most chronic illness is preventable through simple behavior changes, like avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol -- and engaging in healthy behaviors such as regular exercise, more sleep and a balanced diet.” If You Ask Me (column) by Don Riegle | Flint Journal Sunday March 22, 2009

“A core truth about chronic conditions is that most are preventable.” Preventing Chronic Illness Health Affairs, 28, no. 1 (2009): 36

Granted, I didn't vet these comments carefully. But I do quote a doctor, the New York Times, Health Affairs, and an insurance website, among others. It's not a kooky idea dreamed up in someone's basement. It's being said over and over and over again. Another thing these articles rarely do is make that distinction between preventable illness and those that are not. Or if they do make a distinction, it's something like "Less than 1% of chronic illness is genetic." (Which doesn't mean that the other 99% IS preventable, but I'm not going to argue that point here.)

Anyway, to you, my two faithful readers, I beg you... When someone tells you that chronic illnesses are preventable, rise to the defense of those of us who had no control over our diseases. We may share in the blame of higher costs, but it is not due to negligence on our part. And for me, that's a big distinction.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Laborious Labor Day

(Unfortunately, without pictures)

The Philosopher and I had a very successful Labor Day weekend, replete with many labors! He re-wired our front porch light and added a second light on the front edge of the house. Now if you visit us after dark you can see the porch from the driveway! It was a 2-Lowes effort, so not too bad at all. He's getting very good at figuring out knotty electrical wiring solutions without either electrocuting himself or setting something on fire. Yay!

I had a different project: a new flower bed. Rather, an herb bed. Inside the pool fence. About 18 inches wide and spanning about half the length of the fence. I plan to fill it with rosemary and lavender (and maybe some chocolate mint) which will make that area smell fantabulous! Our pool area is covered with about three inches of pea gravel, so first I had to rake all that aside and redistribute it to low-lying areas. (Pea gravel is heavy, even with a wheelbarrow!) Then I had to peel the weed barrier back (slimy!) Finally I had to bring all the large stones from the front so I could line the edge of the bed with them. (And if you didn't know, large stones are even heavier than pea gravel!)

It took me about 6 hours, but the work is done. Well, we still have to get 1/2 a cubic yard of soil/leaf grow to fill the bed. (Drat this Alabama red clay!) And some mulch. But...I've got the rosemary cuttings in pots, so they'll establish a good root system in a month or so. And the lavender is layered in the front bed, so theoretically the shoots will set their roots before it gets too cold to transplant. But I have some guilt here... what on earth do you do with the extra plants you propagate? I only need about 4 of each, but you want to root more in case any don't take. I hate to just toss them in the compost...hmmm. If you need some lavender or rosemary, I may have some extras. ::grin::

Anyway, by early summer next year, we should have a fragrant bed filling the evenings with sweet and savory smells. Ahhhhhhh.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The G.S.E.: a reprisal and a musing

So last Sunday we re-visited Church B, the PCA church. This time we stayed a bit after the service, talked to the pastor briefly and actually filled out a visitor's card. While we were chatting with the pastor, *she* came walking up. Crazy church-lady. You know who I'm talking about. That one person in every church who has a radar for visitors, and swoops upon them cackling madly. She usually has that air of dottiness, arms full of papers and choir robes, filled with tons of helpful and completely useless information which she doles out at random, and with auctioneer speed. She's tenacious, convinced that she has Just The Place for you to fit in (and Just The Thing to tell you about which you *should* be deeply interested).

"Hi!! Are you visitors? Oh, we are SO HAPPY you are here! Tell me your names!"
"Hello. I'm Bob* and this is my wife Sue*."
"I'm GEORGETTE*! You look like really smart kids. What do you do?"
"I'm a librarian, and he teaches at the Local University."
"OOOH. What do you TEACH?"
"Philosophy" (Surprisingly, this doesn't phase her one bit.)
"Ah-Ha! Well, I'm like a honey bee, I know where all the good things are, and I hop around from place to place. If you want to talk about philosophy, you should meet Ben*. And YOU should know that we have a library AND a bookstore here. Have you seen them?"
"Um, no."
(We start looking for a way to escape, but folks seem to have disappeared into the woodwork. Unsurprisingly, it appears that everyone is avoiding this little area of the foyer now. That's when we KNEW we'd met the Crazy Church-lady.)
"If you're a teacher, you would be interested in my project about the Bible in sign language so everyone in the world can read it regardless of whether you can read!"
(She rambles on about this for several minutes, both of us looking a bit dazed and bewildered, casting sideways glances at one another asking mentally "did YOU say anything about sign language??!?)
The philospher tries to be polite, and says "I'm sure it will be successful... I think it's time..."
She cuts him off. "Do you have a pen? Write this website down. Go to it when you get home and tell me what you think!" (He dutifully writes down a long, complicated email address on a scrap of paper she handed him.)
"You know, all teachers are honey bees, don't you? So I bet you're a honey bee too, likes a little bit of everything?"
(At this point I'm actively looking for a way to run for the door, and laughing hysterically at the philosopher being compared to a honey bee. ::snort::)
She looks at me.. "I see your eyes glazing over!" (I smile.) She rambles on for another five minutes or so anyway, and we finally escape, only barely.

(*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

Now, I know there's not much anyone can do about folks like this. And we certainly won't hold it against this particular congregation, because there's one in EVERY church anyway. But as visitors, how do you escape without hurting feelings of complete strangers who are just trying to be friendly in the only way they know how (but are usually only succeeding in scaring the visitors half to death or offending them in some way)? We're not angry or upset, just amused. Honey bee. Wahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!