Warm today. Made me think of “Snoopy’s Hot Summer Lights” at Worlds of Fun. So here are a few pictures from a couple of years ago ….
Two weeks ago I uploaded chapter one of this 150-chapter project I started back in 2008. Only 4 chapters were complete. Last week I uploaded chapter two and started working on chapter 5.
This week I am giving you chapter 3, and I know why I stopped at chapter 5 before — I put in a twist that wasn’t working. Last night I had an idea how to make it work, so I might complete chapter 5 soon, or I might now. We will see.
In the meantime, enjoy another story from the life of Blessed.
1) LORD, how are the increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me.
2) Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah
3) But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
4) I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah
5) I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.
6) I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.
7) Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.
8) Salvation belongeth unto the LORD; thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah
As Blessed lay in his bed that Sabbath morning, the sun shining through the open window, a light breeze wafted a rumbling sound that was somewhat disquieting. Blessed remembered laying out on the grass-covered hillside above his treehouse the night before, the clear, star-lit sky. There wasn’t any sign then of a thunderstorm brewing. Yet there he heard the sounds of one coming. And with the way thunderstorms were around here, he’d better get up soon to close the windows and batten down the chicken coops and other holdings of his little farmstead, if he didn’t want to lose something. Yet he lay enjoying the warmth and the sun for many more minutes, while the thunder grew louder and more persistent.
Finally he got up and looked out the window. The sky was blue. The sky was clear. He went down to the great room and looked out its great windows that overlooked Rivers of Water River. The sky was blue. The sky was clear. The waters of the river flowed strong and deep past his tree, and he could follow the current downstream until it rounded a bend a few miles down. Around that bend the river slowed and broadened at the ford, and on both sides of that ford a small town had grown up where the Way of the Righteous forded the Rivers of Water on its path between Judgment and Congregation of the Righteous. No sign of thunderclouds.
But when he went back to the bedroom, to dress, he could see a faint haze, a dust was rising off the desert to the east, just over the ridge that formed the edge of the river valley. Definitely not a thunderstorm. But if not thunder, what? Dust storms weren’t anything to take lightly, here on the edge of the desert, but there were none of the winds usually associated with a dust storm, either.
Throwing on his kurta, Blessed climbed down the ladder of his treehouse and up the hillside, through gardens and pasturage, until he reach the top of the ridge. By the time he reached the top, due to whatever sense of caution, he was crawling, first on his knees, then on his belly. And so he reached the top, and separated the branches of the bushes to look through at what was beyond.
Thousands upon thousands of men, or so he estimated, were marching across the desert, backlit by the dawning sun. Now which one of the heathen principalities was in that direction? Blessed couldn’t recall at the moment, nor did it seem to matter from what he could see right now. All protestations of self defense aside, it looked like the heathen were going on the offensive, and that offensive was starting with him, or near him. Not that he had any idea what they might be doing elsewhere.
Blessed spent a few minutes observing the army as it approached. He wasn’t a trained military man, but he felt certain a few observations, as accurate as they could be, would certainly be of help to the LORD’s forces.
The dust made it seem like a lot more men that it was, or else hid how many men there actually were … if he kept on hedging his estimations this way they would be of no help at all!!!!
Well, he could tell there were a lot of horses, but he couldn’t see any wagons. There were also a lot of men on foot. How they got that many men across the desert. Coming this way they must have avoided the Way of the Righteous, which followed along the only know oasises that cut across this big loop of the Rivers of Water. But how was less important than that they had done it. And they seemed to be heading straight toward his tree and his hill. Drat now the fact that made his tree the highest landmark seeable on this side of the desert!
Blessed slid off the hilltop and headed back down toward his tree. His mind whirled with what he should do. Some of those men had horses, and they would be to his tree soon. He only had his feet, and the little punt on the edge of the river. That would probably be his fastest, safest way to get to the town where he could warn someone. If the heathen took the ford, they would isolate everyone on his side of the river from the LORD’s forces. Again, not that there were many people on his side of the river.
But it appeared that that option was taken from him, he had barely started down the hill when he heard the jangle of horse tackle. A cavalryman was down by the river, between his tree and the ford. The horse lowered its head and began to drink. The cavalryman dismounted and did the same. Small, short, cupped handfuls raised to his mouth, as he scanned up and down the river. Alas, no one resided on the other bank of the river here, the slope being too steep, so there was no one to see the soldier over there and send warning.
Then again, a closer examination of the horseman, this as he skulked closer to his own tree via the shelter of various sheds and bushes, showed his appearance to be non-descript, no obvious evidence of armour above what any ordinary wealthy merchant or traveler – one who could afford a horse – might have. No helmet for his head was visible. Obviously a scout. Perhaps he still could get to his boat, and get pushed off far enough out to be beyond the reach of the scout before the scout noticed him and had time to respond.
While he slinked closer to the river, and debated when the right moment might be, the scout stopped his own short drink, and pulled his reluctant horse away as well. Blessed both admired and cursed the horseman for his wits. Keeping a very thirsty animal from killing itself by overdrinking after a long drought – he was thankful for the horse, and not so thankful for the life of the scout that it would save. For both those lives might mean many people he knew in town would soon be dead, or prisoners. Which made his skulking to the punt even more important.
Alas, he was concentrating on the scout downstream so well, he failed to see or hear the one upstream until the jangle of tackle made him turn his head in his sprint for the punt to see the horseman racing down upon him. The sound alerted the first cavalryman, who mounted and started urging his horse into a gallop toward the boat as well. Blessed had but seconds to decide how to release the punt – attempt to untie the rope, or cut it with the knife he always wore in his pouch. Which would be faster? He always kept the knife sharp, and tied his knots tight. But it would take time to free the knife, time he couldn’t use while running. So untie the knot it was.
He ran onto his short dock, barely braking to avoid going off the end, and slipped the knot off the post. It seemed to take forever, but actually came off faster than he had ever done before. Unfortunately, a punt is not a quick boat to get going from shore. Blessed jumped into the punt, trying to convey as much motion as possible to the punt with his jump. He landed squarely in the middle of the punt and reached for his punting pole. The second, unseen cavalryman rode his horse onto the dock and quickly dismounted. Blessed was again thankful for their scout status. Neither of them carried a crossbow. One cannot work a punting pole easily from a crouching position, nor does a punt provide much shelter were he to do so. To anyone with a crossbow he would either have been dead or a captive. Without the ability to shoot anything at Blessed, the cavalryman ran to the end of the dock and jumped off the end, much as Blessed had done. He almost landed in the punt creating a big splash that would have helped propel the boat even further from shore, except his hands managed to grasp the punt as he went under the water.
Blessed’s first push with his punting pole was right after the scout’s hands grasped the edge of the punt on his way down. The grab and his push nearly tossed him overboard. It did cause him to lose the pole on the bottom as it stuck. In the moment that he wavered between trying to free the pole and realizing he’d have to pick up the spare, the scout was already hoisting himself up by his arms and kicking one of his legs over the edge into the punt. Blessed swung his pole at the man, trying to knock him off. Quite obviously the blow, which hit the man in the stomach, hurt, but just as obviously didn’t dislodge him. Instead, one of his hands grabbed the pole and yanked hard. Blessed tried to push even harder on the pole, to drive the man into the water, but a second hand reached for the pole, as the scout tried to climb further into the punt. Blessed let go of the pole, rather than have the weight of the man pull him overboard. But as the scout fell back into the water, he swung the pole sideways, deck level with the punt, and knocked Blessed off his feet, his butt landing on the edge of the punt, and his head toppling into the water.
From there it was a swimming match, which Blessed knew he could have won, if he could have ever kicked himself free of the scout. But the scout always seemed to get one hand onto him for every one he managed to kick free, until the second scout arrived and splashed his way into the water. The two of them dragged him into water shallow enough for one of them to give him a sound cuffing on the head that sent his senses reeling, momentarily losing control of his limbs.
“Grab the rope and lets get him tied up” the second scout shouted. “And hurry. One of us has to catch that punt before it drifts pilotless downstream far enough for someone to come investigating.”
The first scout splashed toward shore and the rope. Blessed knew this was his last chance, and bucked and kicked wildly with all four limbs to get loose. And get loose he did. But it also freed the scouts hands, which delivered a double blow to his head. Blessed blacked out.
When Blessed awoke he was in the greatroom of his tree house, lounging at his kitchen table. He might have thought everything was normal, except for the rope tying his hands behind his back and the man in an officer’s uniform sitting across the table from him.
“Well, so they didn’t knock you out too badly, though that one hit is going to give you a rather bad bruise on the side of your face,” the officer said. “Too bad for that. No way we can use you for a decoy with that to draw their attention. We’ll just have to hope noone comes up this way to check on you for the next day or two…”
Blessed licked his lips with his tongue, trying to feel out his mouth and his voice.
“Oh, come on, spit it out, what are your thinking,” the officer said.
“How long am I to remain here this way? Sir” Blessed added the ending tag, aware how picky some heathen were about their titles, yet not knowing what rank to bestow upon his captor.
“No need to be so bashful,” the officer replied. “Though I cannot answer that exactly. We may be here as a liberation army, but too many of you who live by the Rivers of Waters and places west are too brainwashed to realize that. Once the liberation is complete, however, you will be free to go your own way, living under the new freedoms granted by the governing counsel.
“In the meantime, if you will give me your parole, I will have you untied and allow you the freedom of your house, with our also making use of your house, until we are through.”
Blessed thought carefully before answering. “Your fancy words aside, I know my LORD is my shield and strength, and I look forward to his liberation, not yours. But I’ll give you my parole. I will not leave this house until set free by you or someone else, not make escape on my own.”
At the mention of the LORD, the officer’s face contorted into a scowl of anger. He raised a gloved arm and struck Blessed hard on the cheek. “Do not mention his name again in my presence, or I might forget my leniency and have you bound again. Your soul will find no help from him.” He waved an arm at the soldier behind Blessed. “Untie him.”
Blessed tasted blood and felt gingerly at his cheek. He counted himself lucky to get off that easily. Since he hadn’t had breakfast, he angled the sun reflectors onto the cooking griddle and then ventured into the pantry for some supplies. Soon some greasy cured meats and floury cakes were sizzling away. The officer had commandeered Blessed’s table for a conference with his other officers, so Blessed started bringing platters of food over to the men there and serving them. As he did so, he found himself humming, merry tunes of praise to the LORD. He tried to remember to keep them quiet anytime he was near the heathen officers or soldiers. Only once or twice did they give him a strange glance when they caught a hint of the tune he was humming.
“The men should be rested up, the horses rewatered, by nightfall,” he overheard one officer report. “We should be ready to commence the attack by first light tomorrow morning.”
“I want us under march before first light,” the head officer said. “At first light I want our cavalry charging the unexpecting fords and the infantry digging in and building fortifications.”
Blessed cooked nearly the entire day, until the sun set. News of fresh food cycled every officer who dared into the treehouse, down to the lowliest of ranks. As the sun set, Blessed cleaned up his kitchen, turned the reflecting mirrors down, and headed up the ladder to his sleeping chamber.
In his chamber he fell on his knees beside his bed, and looked out the western window toward the LORD’s holy hill. “Arise O LORD, save me,” he said. “Salvation and blessing are yours to provide. I will sleep in your peace.” And with that, he dropped off to sleep.
For the second morning in a row Blessed awoke to the sound of thunder. It was before dawn, and he expected it to be the sounds of the invading army getting underway to take the fords. Then he heard shouting, sounds of confusion, the clanking of metal on metal. Looking out his window, he saw the commanding officer and other officers scurrying out of his tree, as other horsemen came over the ridgetop in a raised saber cavalry charge. The moonlight was so bright Blessed could see clearly as the swords caught the on-foot heathen officers on the cheekbone, splitting their faces open and sending teeth flying.
Moments later, the officer leading the charge met Blessed in his great room.
“Hello Blessed, thanks for the signal light. It led us straight to the enemy army.”
“Signal?” Blessed said. “I gave no signal.”
“The LORD said to cross the Rivers of Water on the boats he provided, and ride quietly until I saw the signal light in the sky. And there is the source.” The officer pointed to the griddle mirrors.
Blessed looked at the mirrors. They were not set where he had turned them off.
“I didn’t set the signal.” Blessed said. “One of the heathen officers must have been playing with the mirrors.”
“Either way, the LORD knew the signal would be there.”
“Praise the LORD.” They both said.
Today’s blog is going to be short — just a couple of links. This is my wife, Betsy, doing special music at both services at church this morning.
Both are set to open another window and then play. So enjoy — she certainly did! (in addition to doing a very nice job).
Feel free to follow this link for Betsy’s own comments.
P.S. — our (teen) boy is whistling the tune over and over again here this afternoon.
Can you like a book, yet really detest the main character?
Perhaps that isn’t a fair question to ask, especially when the book in question is a non-fiction book.
The Avondale United Methodist Church book club just met this morning to discuss Mountains Beyond Mountains about the work of Dr. Paul Farmer in Haiti and around the world through Partners in Health .
One member of the book club commented on Facebook about it being the favorite book he has read for book club of all the books we have read in the clubs existence over the past few years.
To which Betsy, my wife, made the comment this past week, that the more she read the book, the more she realized she disliked Farmer, and resented the space he took up in her head as she gamely plowed ahead to actually finish the book.
I kept encouraging her to finish the book. I thought it was a worthwhile read, but I too found Dr. Farmer flawed in many areas, while admitting that he did and does a lot of good work. Many of his methods I approve of. Many others were both arrogant and sometimes illegal, or at least morally questionable (achieving one moral imperative by violating another).
It seemed the book club agreed that his was a necessary work, that he achieved much good, and that, at least as portrayed in the book, he wasn’t always a likable character.
We wondered how much of our impression was based on the way the author wrote him. The author was also a character in the book, so we had many first person accounts to go on.
I noted how focused he was on his patients, on listening and connecting with them. He remembered them when he saw them later. He obviously had quite a bit of empathy for his patients. It created a bit of disconnect for me to compare that to other definitely arrogant actions and statements he made elsewhere. I keep trying to decide how I should mentally reconcile the two. The arrogance wasn’t selfish in the obvious ways. I almost wonder if his empathy for his patients also had a certain sense of condescension — in the sense that he could relate to them as patient and doctor, but not so easily as person to person.
In either case, I think the book a worthwhile read — which is why I encouraged Betsy to read it. It certainly should make your mind think about healthcare and how it is done today. Do we do it from a concept of scarcity or abundance of resources? Do we do it from a top down authoritarian method or do we listen to the individuals being treated?
On that second question, I think Farmer in his individual practice shows he believes in the need to listen to the individual and arrive at individual solutions. I also think he arrogantly makes up his own mind about what to do for them after he hears what they say. He at least seems to know that a one-size-fits-all solution isn’t a solution except for one person.
While I was reading the book I didn’t take too many notes, but I did write a few short things for me to remember later. Let me hit those now.
Farmer deeply despises Political Correctness, especially in word choice. He calls poor people poor — doesn’t use other euphemisms.
People in PIH (Partners in Health) have a lot of catch phrases. One of them is “H of G” — which is Hermeneutic of Generosity. By it Farmer means to assume the best in motives for other people’s actions. This is something I have tried to practice over the years in what I called my “Compassion Principle.”
In the same section of the book he also talked about “identity politics” — dealing with people based on their identity in groups. He feels this leads to a situation where all members of an oppressed group are viewed as equally oppressed. Farmer sees that as a false assumption, as do I. He feels it leads to poor policy and wasting of resources without addressing the true needs. I do too. In fact, I used identity politics as a part of the subject of a paper I wrote for one of my master’s courses — a paper on what, in my experience, I think is the greatest social problem that needs to be addressed today. Maybe you’ll get a look at that paper some day — if the professor ever returns it with a grade.
We actually went over our allotted hour for discussion without realizing it, as we discussed the book, and many tangents on the social issues. It was interesting to see people who often seem to be on different sides of social issue questions aligning themselves differently. The discussion wasn’t so easily categorical as it sometimes was.
I don’t think Farmer fits in any easy political categories of conservative/liberal. He certainly enjoys the monetary support of WLs (White Liberals), while looking down on their idea that they can create change without any suffering to themselves, for example. And I think that same sort of categorical ambivalence made the members of the book club look at things from different angles, to find areas of congruence and agreement that they didn’t know where there, even as they struggled with other areas of questions or disagreement.
Which is why I think it made a great book for book club, and for discussion. I am just glad we didn’t intentionally use the prepared questions at the back of the book. Those had an obvious skewing that would have removed much of what I saw as the positive benefit of the discussion that we had.
Note, this was the final paper assignment for my introductory communications class for the Master’s Degree I am working on through Gonzaga University. Apologies if the language is boring — it has to sound academic.
Personal Communication Philosophy: Creational and Relational
Jonathan R. Lightfoot
COML 508: Theorizing Communication
Personal Communication Philosophy: Creational and Relational
The following paper will discuss my personal philosophy of communication. It is a theory deeply based in traditional Christian Orthodoxy. It takes terms from theology and philosophy, pairs of terms, and explores the dynamic tension between them. Most people see these terms as opposites. I see them as an integrated whole. The terms to be explored are:
I will start with the primary pair – creational/relational – and then amplify with the other three sets of terms.
The first pair I want to cover – creational/relational — is different from the other pairs, and lends order to them all. It isn’t a polarity like the others. Rather this is an interpretation of Genesis 1:27
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (KJV)
There has been a lot of discussion and debate about what it means to be made “in God’s image.” I find myself in agreement with Dorothy L. Sayers, in The Mind of the Maker where she posits that one of the chief ways we are like God is that we like to create. Communication is about creating.
But it is also about relating. God is relational. As G.K. Chesterton says in Orthodoxy “to us Trinitarians God Himself is a society” (p 113) If we share His image we will seek to relate with both Him and our fellows.
This is the foundation upon which my theory rests. The other points are the flying buttresses.
The first buttress for the edifice is the pair of poetical/logical. As a teen I was a very reasoned, very logical individual, and thus I learned the limits of logic. While I didn’t know the quote at the time, I took the line from Socrates, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” very seriously, until I reached the point where I could hardly move. It was there my good sense saved me. Years later, when I actually ran across the Socrates quote, I realized what it meant, and created what I called the Lightfoot Corollary: “The totally examined life is unlivable.”
On the other side is the poetic, the artistic side – my music and writing. The use of images and metaphors is a different way of communicating and knowing from the logical.
G. K. Chesterton, whom I quote frequently, said:
Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite… To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.” (Orthodoxy, p 9).
I see that I use a very logical structure to explain my theory – logic, after all, has its uses – but I tend to place logic subordinate to the poetic.
So the foundation is laid, and one pair of buttressing terms applied. The next buttressing pair is probably the most discussed of the three.
Buttress number two is the age-old question: do we see the world objectively or subjectively? Griffin spends a whole chapter and then some of A First Look at Communication Theory contrasting the two perspectives. I think it will be a persistent theme. Do we take the objective view, to be able to describe and define, or do we take the subjective view, how this relates to me personally?
I ran across this idea in a book by Christopher West explaining Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body to lay people. I am not sure if it is in there exactly this way, but what I came away with was:
- Classical Theology comes from a God as the Divine Object perspective. It talks about Him by attributes.
- Theology of the Body tends toward a God as the Divine Subject perspective. It talks about Him relationally to us.
People try to make this an either-or, when it should be both. The objective reality of the Divine Object is there, but it can only be experienced, and made real to us, through experiencing the Divine Subject. Experiencing the Divine Object through the Divine Subject doesn’t change its reality, but it is the only way to truly know Him.
Deep thoughts, huh? Perhaps a simpler explanation will clarify the communication principle. Adam could probably tell you a lot about Eve: height, weight, eye color, hair color, etc., but when the Bible said, “And Adam knew his wife Eve” (Gen 4:1) is when it became relational, and very creational. So communication should help us study objects, and make them subjects.
From this point we will go to my final buttress pair – thought vs. emotion.
I will introduce the final buttress pair with Rene Descartes’ famous “I think, therefore I am,” line. In so speaking, he promoted solid knowledge and definition. Opposed to that is the “touchy feely” world, one without defined substance. Or is it? By nature I am an artist — an artist with words, an artist with music. No emotion makes no art. But no thought makes no art either. It is powerful, concrete thoughts, concrete images, that make the strongest metaphors, the strongest images.
In this paper I have constructed the edifice of my personal philosophy of communication. Dorothy L. Sayers has a famous saying “The dogma is the drama.” My theory takes that thought and applies it through a paraphrase, “the dogma is the theory.”
My philosophy starts with the dogma of being made in the image of God: Creational and Relational. It explores how that works itself out in the attributes of being poetical and logical; objective and subjective; with both thought and emotion. The edifice may expand over time with other buttressing pairs – the foundation can certainly carry and support them – but these three will do the job nicely on their own.
For whether we have these three pairs, or more pairs, the dynamic tension between each works out the communication process, through creation and relation, to become story, to become drama, to become life.
Chesterton, G.K (2012), Orthodoxy
Griffin, E (2009) A First Look at Communication Theory (7th Ed)
The Holy Bible, King James Version
Plato, Dialogues of Plato
Sayers, D. (2004) The Dogma in the Drama, Letters to a Diminished Church
Sayers, D. (1987), The Mind of the Maker
West, C (2014) Theology of the Body Explained
Been awhile since I’ve said anything in a fitness genre. Today seems like a good day.
Last year I was riding my bicycle to and from work (with a little assist from public transit — usually on the way in), swimming 3 times a week at the community center, and lifting weights the other two. That all came to a stop in December when I found out my sprained hands were actually broken bones — left hand and right wrist.
The casts came off a month ago. Monday the doctor gave me the clearance to start working out again.
So Tuesday and Wednesday I dove back into swimming (actually I didn’t dive — no diving allowed at the community center).
Last summer I had taken a break from swimming at the community center, and had trouble swimming 200 yards without a break in the fall. Tuesday I swam 200 yards 4 times without getting seriously winded. I did 3 freestyle and 1 breaststroke.
Wednesday I upped it to 5 200s. Started with freestyle, did a breaststroke, another freestyle, then 4 laps of butterfly down, backstroke back, and ended with a freestyle.
Today I intend to up that to 1200 yards, or 6 200s.
I haven’t been checking my times on any of the laps, to see how much my speed has slowed down. Some, I think, but not as much as I feared it might.
I’ll decide over the weekend whether to try the weights next week, or just do a second week of daily swimming. Doctor did say to take it easy on the weights and build up slowly, to make sure the hands are back to strength.
Today is another of those where can I grab something quick for a blog idea blogs. So I was sorting through some of my old clippings from my newspaper days, and I ran across this one from Tuesday, October 5, 1993. Section D, Page 1
Tuesday was the Religion Focus, and this story was the religion feature of the week.
Why I decided to pull this up was one line in the story — Society of St. Andrew.
You see, I am familiar with the society here in Missouri, because I have gone on a couple of gleans, and because my church and church men’s club are organizations that support the Society of St. Andrew and its gleaning.
But what this story shows is that I was familiar with the Society over 20 years ago when I published this story. Great to have such a long history with them. And great to see that their work not only continues, but continues to expand.
So, if you can, read the text of the story, as well as look at the pictures, for some interesting perspectives.