Wednesday, January 28, 2004

perfection

Our ideas of perfection are really pretty bland. We imagine a heaven that is rather like Nirvana, where we understand everything, and there's nothing to do except sit around and bask in the radiance of God and his wholeness. There's nothing to do, no conflict and nothing else that we find imperfect or frustrating down here.

That's nonsense, of course. Adam and Eve had work to do in the Garden of Eden, and had different levels of understanding and different perspectives on things. I imagine that it'll be much the same in heaven as in Eden. We won't always see eye to eye, but we'll be able to work through our disagreements without getting angry with one another, judging or committing a sin in our disagreement. We'll be able to look at God's judgments and understand them in all their terrible mercy and justice, and be able to rejoice in them all, even the ones that now make us blanche.

And we'll be able to look at art, our own or someone else's, and recognize the beauty and value of each, and also recognize that some art is better than other art. There's no shame or sin in that; it's simply recognizing that God has gifted each of us in different ways, and acknowledging the gift for what it is. To borrow from C.S. Lewis, it'll be when an architect can look at his building, and realize it is quite possibly the finest structure ever made, and yet take no more pride or delight in it than if somebody else had made it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

my job officially sucks

So here I am at work, and I've had enough of this ####ing #### to choke a camel to death. It's 3:35 a.m. and I only stopped myself from going completely postal earlier tonight (this morning?) by taking some time off to worship and to decompress before I complete the last stretch.

This job is just too much for too little. I'm gone from home two whole days out of the week, with the result that Natasha is unduly stressed-out on those days, and she handles it generally worse than I do, which is rough on the girls.

I can't stay here. I just can't. But, thanks to years of living hand-to-mouth, we don't have a cushion to handle a period of unemployment longer than 12 hours, and we certainly don't have any insurance if I quit this job. I need to quit anyway, which I cannot do unless I can find that safety net.

The PR sideline has not taken off yet, since I haven't had time to finish the web site and finish my promotional material for the different groups I'm trying to appeal to. The only contract I have so far is the barter for art lessons, which -- nice at is -- will not pay the bills.

If I had a church, I'd be calling the pastor to see if the church can offer us any support while we take a step out, particularly support I can work for. We have no church, though, nor any real network I can fall back upon. I'm thinking of calling the pastor of the church we've been attending for the last two months, although if the truth is to be told, I'm not wild about it by any stretch of the imagination. Pillar of Fire is an island church, where they inadvertantly -- at least I assume it's inadvertant -- foster a Christian subculture that is largely removed from and uninvolved with the world at large.

I wouldn't mind returning to the missions field, but my impression right now is that we're where we're supposed to be. I don't know how much of that is wisdom, how much of it is contentment and how much of it is the world finding its place in me, but there you have it.

Natasha and I have discussed relocating at various points, but we've always ended up settling on staying in Iowa. It must be that masochistic streak.

I'm at the breaking point, and something has to give.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

'exceptions' to the first amendment

First go read this article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Now ask yourself which is worse, that the Bush administration is keeping protesters out of sight, out of earshot and out of mind, or that it's prosecuting people who exercise their free speech rights on public property anyway?

This isn't a partisan thing. This practice stank when Clinton did it too. People are being arrested for protesing on public property, not private property; and it's the side that disagrees with the president that's being pushed away. I suppose people who are opposed to a policy are more likely to be outspoken than those who support it, perhaps even violently so, but this still strikes me as a bastardly way to get rid of unwanted criticism and to make everything into a nice photo opp.

A friend of mine had these observations to make on how President Bush is handling public criticism of his actions by voters, as compared to how other political figures have handled similar situations. I thought his comments were interesting:
"I think I had read somewhere that Hu Jintao (the Chinese guy) actually was much more highly commended during his speeches abroad than Bush attending the same events, because he was accessible while Bush was not.
"Bush took a big PR hit for stunts like this. Public opinion was much more favorable towards the Chinese gov (famous for repressing individual rights) instead of the American gov (supposed to be supporting open discourse and interest in the little guy).
"Personality analyses by folks on the inside suggest that Bush looks amiable and laid back /open in his demeanor (making him seem likeable during campaign time, for example), but internally is pretty closed-minded and even a bit tyrannical. In other words, he can portray himself as flexible and amiable, even while he is not very open to change in his opinions."
That fits what I've read of Bush, and it certainly fits some of his more foolish remarks during the presidential campaign. In 2000 there was one satirical campaign web site, the name of which I can't recall at this time, that outlined a faux platform in which Bush supported early release for drug offenders who had "learned their lesson" as he had, Later, when Bush heard about the satirical site and asked about his support for such early release, he complained that the site had poked fun at him, saying, "There ought to limits to freedom."(The site for its part lauded his boldness in addressing the issue of Americans having too much liberty.)

The Bush administration in recent weeks has been slapped hard by the federal courts for its unlawful and extended detainment of noncitizens under the Patriot Act, and also ordered a hold on an EPA measure that would have relaxed our environmental standards conected to power plants tremendously. Beyond that, we're seeing a pretty lax attitude toward trade that is spelling disaster to longstanding American manufacturing industries.

I'm not impressed.

I give Bush credit for doing a tough job in the wake of 9-11, but the stands his administration has taken on civil liberties, the environment, trade and free speech really have me hoping the Democratic Party can present a candidate who I can get behind in November. It's been slim pickings ever since I became a registered voter in '88.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

health care

Check out this story on Common Dreams.

I'm kind of curious to hear people's thoughts on this subject. We have insurance through my employer, but it's not exactly great. It would cost me about $80 to get a prescription filled for the topical ointment I need to treat my psoriasis. Not surprisingly, my psoriasis has gone untreated for some time, even though it covers probably about 25 percent of my back at this point. I have insurance, but I can't afford to use it.

Having a child, incidentally, would cost us about $3,000 before the insurance kicks in. Nice, huh?

I don't think I would favor national health care, on the simple grounds that it likely would make health care a total nightmare. But I have to admit, the direction we're going now doesn't seem much better.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

my child, the folk singer

I was singing some folk songs today while I was making lunch this afternoon, in the presence of Evangeline. As I fumbled around, trying to remember if there is a third verse to Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind," she generated her own lyrics:

How many octopuses can fit in a room
Before they fall through the floor?
Could it be one, or maybe two?
I think it's probably four.

I think from here on that will be my favorite verse.

dora tangent

We don't actually own any of the tapes, but we rented a few from Blockbuster back in the summer, including the one with Swiper the Fox and the mantra necessary to stop him: "Swiper, no swiping! Swiper, no swiping! Swiper, no-o-o swiping!" Well, after about five exciting iterations of that, I convinced Evangeline that we needed variations.

The most enduring one has been Chomper the Crocodile, where one of us chases the other snapping our arms together like a giant crocodile mouth, all the while saying "Chomp! Chomp! Chomp!" Of course, you stop Chomper by saying, "Chomper, no chomping! Chomper, no chomping! Chomper, no-o-o chomping!"

Mindless, I suppose, but it's fun coming up with new variations every time one of us engages in a repetitive behavior like sneezing, or eating or whatever.

(Naturally, being a 4-year-old, her favorite version is something like "Poopy, no pooping!")