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Showing posts from February, 2008

Cinema review: The Sorrow and the Pity (1969)

I had never heard of this masterpiece until Rod the Crunchy Con blogged about it recently. It's a French documentary that interviews several people from an area of occupied France in the Auvergne region. One is a proud Nazi, one a communist who was a resistance fighter, one joined and fought for the Nazis on the Eastern front, some were English who aided the resistance or the invasion. I think Ken Burns learned everything he needed to know on making documentaries from this film. It is a 4 and a half hour monster of sub title reading unless you understand French. Some are unrepentant. Some are repentant. Some were outcasts before the occupation but achieved redemption by resisting despite the risk of capture and torture and execution. Collaboration preserved many French lives unless they were also Jewish lives. Anti-Semitism bubbled up easily after the Nazi occupation. The worst atrocity mentioned in the film was the deportation of Jewish adults to the camps, but the Germans didn&#…

Candles for Men - Mandles

weekly pastoral accountability

This form (PDF) is required every week at John Piper's church from the pastoral staff. Wow! It is awesome. It is noted on their blog here. It's not only about sexual temptation but also about health and rest. Any Christian could use this with an accountability partner.

doodle prayers

A neat article in Christianity Today about an impulsive pray-er who doodled while praying and turned it into her method of praying. She has a book with her prayer doodles in them. See some examples. A snippet of conversation between the author Sybil MacBeth and Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours which I'd still like to own and use someday found here.

Obama, NYT and my midrash

Sometimes, blogs are simply a Midrash on the NYT. Here's my contribution today. William Kristol writes in his Opinion piece today.
John Kennedy, to whom Obama is sometimes compared, challenged the American people to acts of citizenship and patriotism. Barack Obama allows us to feel better about ourselves.This is my observation of the enthused that I know.

Obama likes to say, “we are the change that we seek” and “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” Obama’s rhetorical skill makes his candidacy appear almost collective rather than individual. That’s a democratic courtesy on his part, and one flattering to his followers. But the effectual truth of what Obama is saying is that he is the one we’ve been waiting for.Has the Messiah arrived and is his name Barack?
Barack Obama is an awfully talented politician. But could the American people, by November, decide that for all his impressive qualities, Obama tends too much toward the preening self-regard of Bill Clinton, the patronizing eli…

Indian mascots

If you were a minority, you might not like your likeness used as a mascot. What if you were invited by a school to help develop a mascot based on your history? It's happening in Connecticut.

My bug dealer on Colbert

David Gracer fed me my first cicada and I've been hooked ever since. Here are the pictures to prove it and some research on entomaphagy with a link to David's page.

Haiku for my Valentine

When dining with you
I never taste my food. You
capture my senses...

Haiku for my Beloved

Last night as we sat
On the couch, 'twas my pleasure
To enjoy your eyes

recumbent cycling at 12F

We have an arctic air mass parked over New England right now and I'm not feeling my global warming. I added an extra layer on my top. My usual winter cycling layers are flocked surf shirt (long sleeve), poly shirt, fleece jacket, and a thin anorak as a shell. Today I added a cotton shirt and wore two pairs of gloves. I was fine below the waist with my usual kit of tights and sweats and a thick set of fleece socks in my Merrells. My toes did get a little cold today. My hands still got cold. Wearing ski goggles for the first season this year has been great. I never realized how much heat I lose from my face. My face sock was freezing onto my beard. My nostrils were freezing inside, literally. At some points I couldn't breathe through my nose because it was clogged with ice crystals.
But I'm a big baby. It's not like I'm training in Alaska to bike the Iditarod Trail race like Jill.

Song of Songs 2 sermon

I preached yesterday in my home church, Calvary Chapel Southeastern Connecticut. My text was Song of Songs 2. The audio file is available as well as a picture from our wedding reception in 1994.

Finding Jesus in Song of Songs 2

Review the text here.
See my previous thoughts on 2:1-3, 4-7, 8-17, .
"Among the thorns" – he wore a crown of such
"Sweet fruit" – Jesus enjoys the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He says we can only bear fruit as we remain in him and none without him.
"Banquet Hall or vineyard" – our conversion
"Two hands" – fully committed to him and not looking backwards with longing to what we left
"Don’t force love" – don’t try to be Billy Graham, be who he made you to be. Finish first grade before moving onto college.
"Through the lattice" – we see imperfectly, but we will see perfectly (1 Corinthians 13)
"Let me see your face" – our plea with Jesus
"Catch the foxes" – if it causes you to sin, cut it off
"Until the dawn arrives" – don’t give up. It may be dark, but it will become light. It may be Friday, but Sunday is coming. This is the season of Lent.

But wait, those are mostly her lines. In this poem, though…

My man's nice ride: Songs 3:6-11

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As has become my habit lately, I am looking at this epic love poem out of order. I wanted to jump to another unique part of this poem. Much of the adorations in this poem are focused on the external features of each other. In this section, the 2nd half of chapter 3 Beloved expresses her appreciation for her Lover’s accomplishments. The NET is not certain who the speaker is here but I see these as Beloved’s lines. The setting could be a wedding, since there seems to be a great deal of pomp and circumstance.


3:6 Who is this coming up from the desert

like a column of smoke,

like a fragrant billow of myrrh and frankincense,

every kind of fragrant powder of the traveling merchants?


Solomon knows how to make an entrance as expected in royalty. He arrives from a distance, making a trail of dust, but dust that is mingled with some really good smells. Perhaps back then sensitivities and allergies to perfumes were not a common problem and there was no such issue as wearing too much of them. I’m sure…

Gabion house

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update Jan. 2011: a post on its application in relief work in places like Haiti here.
I've talked about this idea before. Then I found out about the Hesco wall shelter. But a German architect did it, a house covered in gabions. Materialicious had the pictures. Treehugger still does. The website is all in German so I'll need my wife to interpret, but he does have pictures here. More pictures on another blog here, scroll to bottom, with this insight. Weighing around 80 kg each, the baskets can be removed individually. This enormous mass (40tonnes) has a buffer effect in winter and summer. No external guttering was allowed to detract from the sculptural effect – rainwater flows instead down a waterproof membrane behind the layer of stones. The thing I would do differently is allow all sorts of greenery to grow up the walls. Now that would be sweet.

Tragedy in the marriage: Songs 5:1-9

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I’m jumping ahead to the most bizarre aspect of the epic love poem. It starts with passion that becomes miscommunication which leads to violence against Beloved but ends in adoration of Lover. As usual I am using the NET and the italics are their suggested speaker identities. I’ll keep my comments short interspersed but make a controversial suggestion after the reader sees the context.

The Lover to His Beloved:
5:1 I have entered my garden, O my sister, my bride;
I have gathered my myrrh with my balsam spice.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk!
The Poet to the Couple:
Eat, friends, and drink!
Drink freely, O lovers!

This follows the standard tone of this poem. Farming metaphors for physical intimacy. Their passion is unbridled. Their freedom to each other is at its maximum.

The Beloved about Her Lover:
5:2 I was asleep, but my mind was dreaming.
Listen! My lover is knocking at the door!
The Lover to His Beloved:
“Open for me, my sister, my darling,
my dove, my …

ambiguous Iriqouis quotes

My last two quotes from The Ambiguous Iriquois Empire from Francis Jennings, 1984. He leads a chapter with quotes from two previous authors on the subject of relations between the natives and the invaders. This week I saw a normal sight with new eyes. A sign post on the street declared a settlement date of 1613, or thereabouts. Ok, but, what about the non-Europeans who had lived and fished and hunted and farmed there thousands of years before? By these signs, they are historical nobodies.

Having established strong and vigorous colonies in the trying years of the seventeenth century, the English extended their power over the Indians as occasion warranted and as the weakness of the Indians permitted. Smaller, dependent tribes were gradually amalgamated or destroyed by the eroding effects of white contact. Disease – of which the frequent smallpox epidemics were the most costly – swept away many of the smaller tribes and decimated many of the larger nations. Yet throughout the eighteenth c…

FirstDay cottages

Yesterday, I came across a website I had seen a long time ago. FirstDay Cottages sell timber frame kits for clueless first time home builders. Their timber frame construction has a lot of grace for mistakes yet is very strong and tight. It seems they use some of the ideas seen in the Alaskan REMOTE house. I found a few bloggers describing their efforts as they build. Two brothers and their families are building one, the Skyline Canadian, in the Berkshires of Mass. Another family is making one in the hills of upstate New York, Wood and Stone.

Black suffrage

On February 3rd, 1870 Congress passed the 15th amendment.

Amendment XV
(The proposed amendment was sent to the states Feb. 27, 1869, by the Fortieth Congress. It was ratified Feb. 3, 1870.)

Section 1
[Right of certain citizens to vote established.]

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2
[Congress given power to enforce this article.]

The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

February is black history month. As I have in past years I hope to learn more and share what I learn.

[Bizarrely enough, on this day in 1913 the next amendment was passed which established a federal income tax.]

Groom's song: Songs 4:1-7

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This is a continuation of the Song of Songs series. This is a look at 4:1-7, Lover sings Beloved a wedding night song. I will get back to chapter 3, but Valentine's Day is getting closer and I wanted to cut to the chase. Italics indicate the NET Bible assumption of who is talking. All Bible quotes from the NET.

The Lover to His Beloved:4:1 Oh, you are beautiful, my darling!Oh, you are beautiful!Your eyes behind your veil are like doves.Your hair is like a flock of female goatsdescending from Mount Gilead.

I have been to a couple weddings during which the groom sings a song to the bride. It is simultaneously impressive and awkward for me. It’s awkward because the bride starts crying and I’m a New Englander who is uncomfortable with such public displays of emotional intimacy. Here in New England we won’t greet anyone until we’ve seen them over a year and can no longer ascribe it to coincidence. Someone we see that much must live around here and is not a tourist. It’s a sad way of thin…

Yurt lives

One about constructing a yurt from an inadequate kit, yet having the skills to handle it.

One sustained with rain water, a wood stove, a couple solar panels, a gas grill, a small wind turbine and some batteries in Ontario.

Adoption as empire building among the Mohawks

This quote from The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire by Francis Jennings, 1984 provides wonderful insight on how tribes managed to maintain their population levels despite war and disease. They believed in adoption. They also believed in torturing to death some of their enemy captives. But adoption was as likely an option for an enemy combatant. Maybe the U.S. should try this method on their enemy combatants instead of torture.

The original conception of the Mohawks was the melting pot – that favorite image of superpatriots everywhere. They would not create an empire but rather become one by incorporating conquered peoples in themselves and literally remolding them into Mohawks through adoption into families and thus “naturalizing” them as full “citizens” of the tribe. This practice never ceased….In 1657 Jesuit Father Paul LeJeune reported that “At Onondaga there are Indians of seven different nations permanently established; and, among the Senecas, of no less than eleven.” (95)