Monday, October 31, 2011

Pantyhose On the Occupation Octopus

One of the frustrating aspects of the Occupy Movement (at least for me) has been finding websites that represent them in a manner that clearly communicates their grievances. Until today, all I had to go on was their "Unofficial" Proposed List Of Demands, which would be more helpful to intelligent discussion if it developed into an official list. This afternoon, however, I did some serious digging, finally locating a Declaration of the Occupation of New York City.

Okay, I know it's time-consuming to read links in blog posts, so (although I'd strongly encourage you to read the links I've just posted for yourself) I'm showing the grievances listed in the Declaration of Occupation, hoping we can think critically about the issues raised by the protesters.

  • They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
  • They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
  • They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
  • They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
  • They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
  • They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
  • They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
  • They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
  • They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
  • They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
  • They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
  • They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
  • They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
  • They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
  • They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
  • They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
  • They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
  • They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
  • They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
  • They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
  • They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
  • They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*
As I read this list, I felt rather overwhelmed by its breadth and scope, as well as bewildered that it doesn't offer any documentation to support their allegations. Obviously, I'm physically unable to respond to each bullet point today, and doing so would wear my readers out (people generally lose interest when blog posts are too lengthy), but I think it's crucial to understand the protesters' perspective as best we can.

I'm pleased that their list begins by protesting foreclosures, since I happen to agree that our economic crisis originated with subprime mortgages. In his September 28, 2008 Op-Ed piece entitled "Frank's Fingerprints Are All Over The Financial Fiasco" for the Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby explains:

The roots of this crisis go back to the Carter administration. That was when government officials, egged on by left-wing activists, began accusing mortgage lenders of racism and "redlining" because urban blacks were being denied mortgages at a higher rate than suburban whites.
The pressure to make more loans to minorities (read: to borrowers with weak credit histories) became relentless. Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act, empowering regulators to punish banks that failed to "meet the credit needs" of "low-income, minority, and distressed neighborhoods." Lenders responded by loosening their underwriting standards and making increasingly shoddy loans. The two government-chartered mortgage finance firms, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, encouraged this "subprime" lending by authorizing ever more "flexible" criteria by which high-risk borrowers could be qualified for home loans, and then buying up the questionable mortgages that ensued.
All this was justified as a means of increasing homeownership among minorities and the poor. Affirmative-action policies trumped sound business practices. A manual issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston advised mortgage lenders to disregard financial common sense. "Lack of credit history should not be seen as a negative factor," the Fed's guidelines instructed. Lenders were directed to accept welfare payments and unemployment benefits as "valid income sources" to qualify for a mortgage. Failure to comply could mean a lawsuit.

As I see it, the foreclosures, though heartbreaking, were inevitable, and the banks lost money.  As wonderful as it sounds to put "people over profits," the fact is that profits are necessary to keep banks operative. Freddy Mac and Fanny Mae, in coercing banks to lend to people who clearly lacked the means to repay their loans, Barney Frank blamed the very banks that suffered losses rather than acknowledging that government forced them into unwise lending policies in the first place.

So now the Occupiers hold Wall Street culpable for people buying homes that they couldn't afford? I'm sorry, but nobody should be buying a home that they can't afford. My husband and I are also low-income, and we've always understood that home ownership is not a Constitutional right, but a privilege that carries responsibilities that we're unable to accept. We did not expect a lending institution to give us a mortgage, because we knew we couldn't make payments. The real accountability lies with borrowers who expected to live beyond their means, it seems to me.

As you can see, I've only tackled Occupy Wall Street's first grievance. I rather wish their movement limited itself to just a few issues, so that dialogue wouldn't feel so much like putting pantyhose on an octopus. These protesters have deep concerns for our country, as do those of us in conservative circles, but it's difficult to rationally discuss the concerns when they're camped out on public property beating drums and holding meaningless signs that bear vague slogans threatening capitalism.

I hope readers see my willingness to take on the issues in an orderly fashion. I'm not certain I can (or even want to) devote this blog to every bullet point in the Declaration of Occupation, but I do have more to say in future posts. I pray I can do so with humility and clarity. But please--one tentacle at a time!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

East Coast Trick-Or-Treat

Halloween isn't till tomorrow, but last night the East Coast had its first Nor'easter (and second snowfall) of the season. The leaves haven't even finished falling from the trees! But look at this photo John took from our living room window this morning:

Talk about a Trick-or-Treat prank! As far as I'm concerned (as anyone who knows me might expect), I don't see this occurrence as a treat, particularly since the accompanying temperatures kept us home from church today.

That said, we had a glorious time  watching David Swanson's TV broadcast, "Drink From The Well" on the Church Channel. Today,  Pastor Swanson talked about being labeled by how we conduct our lives, using Acts 11;25-26 as his text:

25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

The early disciples, Pastor Swanson said, won the label "Christian" by their distinct behavior, which reflected the teaching of Jesus. He then challenged his viewing audience to live in such a manner that people around us can readily identify us as Christians. His exhortation grabbed my attention, renewing my desire for Christ to show Himself through me. Not the mealy-mouthed "Christianity" of the Social Gospel, but show Himself as Lord of my life, influencing how I live and calling me to obedience.

The broadcast concluded with a segment about Kristen Tremba, a marvelous young woman who failed in her attempts to combine the labels "lesbian" and "Christian." Ultimately, she has chosen the Christian label, accepting  her true identity as God's daughter, created to enjoy intimacy with the man she married. This segment encouraged me as I watch friends I've known and loved for years now trying to label themselves as "gay Christians."

As much as last night's storm seemed like a nasty Halloween trick, I praise the Lord for treating me to David Swanson's TV broadcast. But please year won't You hold the snow till Christmas?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Preoccupied With The Protest

Just after my college graduation, I  got caught up in liberal politics. I read Ron Sider's book, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, subscribed to Sojourners magazine, and spouted self-righteous criticisms against conglomerates and American capitalism. I refused to sing the National Anthem (because I thought it glorified war), and considered the Pledge of Allegiance to be idolatry. I was convinced that the Bible taught socialism, based on Acts 2:44-47:

44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

In short, I would have sympathized with the Occupy movement back then, even claiming it as a Christian cause.I didn't understand that the Lord calls Christians (not secular government) to care for each other, practice justice, feed the poor and redistribute wealth. It's as we Christians demonstrate sacrificial love, first among ourselves and than reaching out to the world, that Jesus is glorified. What I failed to grasp, as a 25-year-old, was that government entitlement programs lock people into dependence, therefore giving government greater authority over how they live.

I believe entitlement programs have too much power because, as a disabled American, I must rely on several of those programs. Don't misunderstand: I'm thankful that, for now, God chooses to provide for me and John this way, but I do feel deep concern that, as our country's hostility towards Christianity increases, my dependence on government programs could restrict my freedom of religious expression.

The problems with Occupy Wall Street go well beyond how their socialist agenda would affect me personally, however. I've read their "unofficial demands," and see that their wish list would bankrupt the country very quickly. Even if the so-called 1% paid their "fair share" of taxes, they simply couldn't finance all the goodies that these protesters want.

There are so many issues involved in the Occupy movement that I can't address them all today. I may, in subsequent posts, take on a few of them. But right now, I'll use my broad brush to argue that capitalism, despite its stain of corporate greed, still strikes me as being preferable to socialism.

Firstly, capitalism encourages productivity.The worker keeps his earnings, and the employer sees a profit. Both therefore have incentive to create a product or offer a service that their consumers will value. If (using an example that my husband often cites) a farmer, for instance, knows that the government will profit from his farm, giving him a stipend whether he produces a good crop or not, he has little motivation work his land. Why should he?

Additionally, capitalism creates jobs. An entrepreneur develops a product, and secures investors to finance her company. To attract these investors, she must show them that her product meets enough of a demand to warrant their investment. Thus, she must hire workers to manufacture the commodity. As the company succeeds, she uses her profits to expand, and (you guessed  it) create even more jobs.

Please, I know it's easy to criticize the wealthy, and to envy their abundance. But envy towards corporate America, such as the envy displayed by Occupy Wall Street, will ultimately plunge us into a system far more harmful and personally invasive than capitalism. While I understand the utopian sentiments of the protesters because I once espoused their ideas, I now believe those ideas would cause tremendous harm to everyone...including them.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Kitty Directed My Heart

The PSPFamily (a forum for Paint Shop Pro users) set "Hearts" as this week's Theme Challenge. Okay, I could do that pretty easily. I'd made several heart "tubes" (a "tube" is an image isolated from any specific background) that would be fun to play with, particularly if I also used one of my cute animal tubes. So I pulled up various tubes, experimenting with different combinations. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with hearts, and I did want something fresh, so I figured I'd let the tubes direct me.

When I pulled up my "Friendly Kitty" tube (which I'd drawn years ago from a photo John took of his cousin's cat), I knew my tag had to be "Follow Your Heart." I found my "Heart of Roses" tube, which was perfect for the kitty to "follow." I added text, background, and played with the "unsharp mask" filter (not sure what "unsharp mask" means, but it's one of my favorite adjustment filters), and came out with something both cute and a little edgy:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Logs In My Eye

A friend of mine has fallen into error. bothers me, to the point that I've spent several sleepless nights struggling over how the Lord would have me respond to the situation. In that struggle, I've realized that the starting place has to be with letting the Holy Spirit deal with my sins before I'm qualified to address those of anyone else.

In preparation for the discussion that I'll eventually have to have with my friend, I've been studying Matthew 7:1-6 for the past two weeks.

 1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
6 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

This passage has a lot to it, and obviously I can't unpack it all in one sitting. But the first point I see here is that confronting error and sin requires humility. Before I offer correction to this friend (or to anyone), I need to honestly assess my own spiritual condition. Am I openly rebelling against the Lord? Am I manipulating Scripture to rationalize behavior that (deep down) I know is sinful? These aren't fun questions to ask myself, particularly because I know God will be faithful to examine my heart.

But the logs in my eyes keep me blinded, unable to help remove the speck in my friend's eye. Yes, the speck is there, hampering my friend's vision just as surely as the logs block mine. But before I try performing something as delicate as eye surgery, I need the Lord to do a deforestation project.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Carved Out Christian Pumpkins And Other Popular Emails

Who hasn't received that email, especially in October, comparing Christians to Jack-O-Lanterns? It makes a fairly good analogy of God cutting us open, scooping out the gunk from inside us, and giving us His light to shine through us. Actually, it's not a bad description of the Christian experience, as far as emails go. But "Christian emails" generally don't go all that far in explaining the Gospel, I'm sorry to say.

When I first subscribed to AOL in the latter part of 1997, I quite enjoyed all the inspirational stories that streamed through my inbox each day. At that point in my life, I wanted Jesus to be compassionate toward me, to the extent that He wouldn't call my attitudes and behavior sinful (even though they definitely were), but instead would let me rest in the commonality I had with Oprah Winfrey, non-Christian loved ones and anyone else who felt comfy-cozy in mixing God with pop-psychology. Those sweet spiritual emails, which sometimes used Jesus' name but usually offered a less specific spirituality, fit nicely into my more relaxed approach to Christianity.

Essentially, I was flirting with a God made in my own image.

Not that I would have admitted to such a flirtation. Outwardly, I affirmed all the major tenants of orthodox Christian teaching, half-convincing myself that I hadn't deviated from Scripture all that dramatically. I was just less rigid than I'd been. More accepting of other viewpoints. Not so focused on Jesus as the defining point of spiritual truth. And the emails, as they minimized His holiness and accentuated "goose-pimple" stories of angels in pink dresses and the smell of rain, added to the anesthetic. Jesus was soothingly manageable, and I could have Him without letting Him exercise authority in my life.

Thankfully, all through that time, the Holy Spirit never permitted me to be completely at peace with my liberal theology. I knew the Bible too well, I guess, and His Spirit in me always nagged, even as I forwarded emails that I knew didn't really line up with Scripture or accurately represent Jesus as Lord. Truth, I now realize, doesn't allow itself to be watered down into saccharine Internet stories. Rather, Biblical truth convicts us of sin, and calls us to repentant faith. Instead of glorifying pumpkins for bearing His light, truth glorifies Jesus as the Light of the world.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Christless Christianity

Mike Horton, of White Horse  Inn (see "Blogs That Make Me Think" on the right sidebar) offers thought-provoking comments illustrating how we depend on resources of our own making rather than on the shed blood of Jesus Christ:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Scattered Thoughts, For Entertainment Purposes Only

My mom had an odds and ends drawer when we were growing up. I loved those afternoons of rummaging through it, finding treasures from her youth, toys that we'd outgrown (but she couldn't bear to throw away) or buttons from sewing projects that she never got around to starting. The items had no real relationship to each other, except that they each, in their own way, referred back to her.

Likewise, I have some unrelated thoughts to display on this dreary autumn evening. They don't fit together, perhaps, but they represent various aspects of my personality, and may offer some entertainment, like mom's odds and ends drawer offered me and my sister.

Does anyone remember George Harrison doing concerts to raise money for Bangladesh? It was in 1969, I believe. I connect it, for some strange reason, with a Junior High dance I attended, at which the teachers tried to explain about famine in that city. I guess they took up a collection, but I was more interested in who asked me to dance that night. After all, I had my priorities!

After several years of getting only 15 or so channels with bare-bones Comcast, we now get over 100 channels with FiOS...for pretty much the same price. I love it!

Lately, I've realized that, being married, I don't give much thought to being attracted to anyone but John. It's a non-issue. Obviously, I notice men...I guess. It's just not something I think about very much because I'm married to a wonderful guy. It's so nice, after so many years of struggling with feelings for guys who God didn't have for me, to have this man providing a resting place for my heart.

Summer's over, so I'm eating pears instead of peaches. I much prefer peaches, and we got some really good ones at farmers markets this summer. Much tastier than supermarket peaches, but costing far less. Today's pear wasn't bad, though, and I like knowing I'm eating healthy food. Just wish that brown paper bag would ripen them better.

I'm studying Matthew 7:1-6 these days. It's  challenging and painful, as I confront my hypocrisy in judging other people without dealing with my own sin. Challenges from God's Word are reassuring, though. When reading Scripture leaves me in a self-congratulatory mode, I can usually be sure I'm not listening to the Holy Spirit. And, amid thoughts of Mom's odds and ends, Junior High dances, more TV viewing options, satisfaction in marriage and peaches from a farmers market, I want to be assured that His Word does its work in my life.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Reinventing Christian Perspectives

First, the pierced ears. Then the new email address, after several years of having one I really invested in (which has made changing it a major chore that I'm still doing), Then switching from Comcast to FiOS, with all the quirks and frustrations entailed with that change. On top of all that--a new haircut, shorter than it's been since I was 16. Amid all this transformation, I half-jokingly ask myself if I'm reinventing myself.

All this comes as I watch other people grapple with spiritual changes. Changes I don't understand, and seem extremely dangerous. My reinvention, contrasted with theirs, is wonderfully inconsequential, causing me to chuckle at my "angst." Spiritual changes are gut-wrenching, and they cause people to both question long-held assumptions and resist feedback that challenges their new thought patterns. I experienced such turmoil when I walked away from Charismatic theology, so I can empathize on one level.

In watching the journeys  various friends from my past are taking, there are some I can affirm, and others I cannot. The ones I must reject violate clear teaching of Scripture. Of course, my friends counter that Scripture isn't quite as clear as I make it out to be, and they insist that they've been studying the Bible as intently as I have. Yet, when they reach conclusions that fly in the face of over 2000 years of established doctrine, I can't help wondering what study tools and hermeneutic they use.

God's Word is not progressive revelation, and is best understood by going to sources closer to the First Century Apostles who knew Jesus face-to-Face. Yes, cultural context is important in studying the Word of God, but the Word of God transcends culture, so that what was true then has remained true in the successive centuries. There is no "new" perspective that suddenly invalidates things that Bible-believing Christians have held to since Pentecost.

I'm all for going back to the Bible with an attitude of seeking correction. I did so 20 years ago in regard to Charismatic doctrine, and I came away with a more solid faith than I held prior to that time of reorganizing my belief-system. But I looked back to old commentaries that confirmed the cessation of certain spiritual gifts, rather than relying on 20th Century writings supporting the "new move of the Spirit." My journey was painful, and many of my friends still disagree with me. Yet historical Christianity bears me out.

To those who question what their churches teach, I say such questioning is healthy. Even necessary. By all means, make sure your beliefs truly line up with Biblical doctrine. But if your studies lead you to conclusions that 20 centuries of Christian teachings have somehow failed to grasp, you might be placing yourself in a very dangerous position. Pierced ears and FiOS don't really affect eternity. Straying from long-held Christian doctrine in favor of "newly discovered" understandings of the Bible, however, is not the type of reinvention that a Christian needs.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Building On Him, Not Me

Of course, Scripture offers a clear enough distinction between right and wrong, so please don't misconstrue the following comments as an homage to relativism, confusion over how doctrine should be applied to daily life, or a reevaluation of theology. Growth in understanding God's Word doesn't reject foundational teaching, but rather builds on that foundation, avoiding a structure that is swayed by "every wind of doctrine." Yet, God sometimes tests my understanding, causing me to dig deeper into the Bible, making sure that I'm securely attached to His truth. If He doesn't allow you to face challenges to your faith, you might need to ask how serious you are about your relationship with Him.

I bring this matter up in response to a friend who has had the courage to question his beliefs (and how he lived in response to those beliefs), but has reached conclusions that, quite frankly, cast unnecessary doubt on clear teaching of Scripture in an area of life very close to his heart. As I read his blog, I see him struggling to reconcile Scripture with personal experience, and I do know (from my own feeble attempts at such reconciliation) how frustrating it is when feelings, longings and character traits deeply embedded in me don't line up with God's righteous standards. I haven't experienced his particular struggles,  as I suspect he'll point out as he and I discuss the shift in his thinking, but I have accommodated Scripture (many times, sadly) to conform to my experience. Perhaps most Christians do so, rather than confess their helplessness to escape their sin nature.

Praying about how I will present my defense of theology to him forces me to examine my anger, worry, complaining, gossip and selfishness. All these sins seem intrinsic to my being. I've failed so often, and so publicly, in my attempts to repent that at various times I've denied their sinfulness in favor of viewing them as part of "who I am."

Scripture agrees that,  by nature, all those qualities are "who I am" by nature. Yes, I indeed was born that way, and I'll always struggle to tame my passions. But Christ's Spirit lives in me, giving me a new nature and the choice to walk in that new nature. I can feel the incessant pull toward old habits, and still choose to embrace my identity as His child. As His child, I have the Holy Spirit's power to repent of "who I am" in favor of wrapping myself in Who He is, bearing His image.

The basic teachings of Scripture lay that foundation of dying to self and living in Him. But, because death to self hurts, I allow my personal experience to override the authority of Scripture, adjusting God's Word ever so subtly to validate that experience. In the end, however, I constantly come back to the Lord's evaluation of my anger, my worry, my complaining, my gossip and my selfishness. Jesus shed His blood to atone for those sins, freeing me from their power. And, by His grace, I can build a life of faith that reflects Him.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Boston Vicariously

Missing church wasn't an option, even to see the 1801 bell, cast by none other than Paul Revere, raised to the steeple of Old South Meeting House. Thankfully, the event made it to YouTube!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Stanley Cup Teaching On Grace

When I learned that the Stanley Cup would be at TD Garden until the Bruins' October 6th Season Opener (after which it would return to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto) I presumed that it would be displayed for public viewing. So on October 5, John and I took the bus, the Red Line and the Orange Line up to North Station, over which the Garden stands.

As we made the trip, I reflected on the privileged life God has blessed me with, especially since He moved me to Boston. And yet, I remembered, all the truly wondrous experiences He's given me (all for which I praise and thank Him, not sure why He's lavished them on me) pale in comparison to the unexplained miracle of having His gift of salvation. Why should I, someone so sinful, enjoy so many blessings from the Lord as well as have certain hope of eternal life? Sometimes, He baffles me with His generosity!

Upon entering the Garden, we saw tons of Bruins  fans, proudly bedecked in their black, yellow and white jerseys with Bruins logos...but no signs directing us to the Stanley Cup. Puzzled, we stopped a young couple wearing jerseys, commenting that they appeared to be fans.When they chuckled, John asked where the Cup was being displayed.

They replied that it was on view only for Season Ticket Holders. Although I felt disappointed, I also had to recognize the fairness of the situation. We hadn't paid to see even one hockey game. We had done absolutely nothing deserving of seeing the Stanley Cup! I felt content to be denied the opportunity, knowing that fans who financially support the organization, believing in the team during all those years that the championship eluded them, deserved to see the trophy. It would have been nice to see it, but...

"But," the couple said, reclaiming my attention, "maybe that usher over there could get you in to see it. Good luck."

The usher, without hesitation, directed us to the elevator, telling us to get off on the next floor up. As excited as I was, I also felt totally unworthy. The elevator doors opened directly across from the Stanley Cup, and to the left was a long line of fans, patiently awaiting their turn with it. Honestly, I felt like it would be enough just to glimpse it, but the security guard (having been radioed  by the usher) met us at the door and escorted us straight to the Stanley Cup, ahead of all the ticket holders. Although John took a photo before I was ready, here it is:

As I sat there, stunned and overwhelmed by the V.I.P. treatment we had just received, I couldn't help thinking that I'll similar sensations of unworthiness and joy when, only because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, I'll stand before the Throne of God to worship Him forever! As thrilled as I was that day at TD Garden, I'll be more thrilled and awestruck by my Savior's grace...which I could never deserve!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Delayed Gratification

Thursday, John called FiOS, specifically to ask whether or not they needed access to our apartment building's utility room. If so, the maintenance supervisor would have gladly come to open it for him. But the FiOS representative assured John that, since our complex is already wired for FiOS, the technician needed only an electrical outlet. Okay, great. Bill O'Reilly would bloviate to his heart's content (and mine) on my TV set, and I could luxuriate in the Biography Channel between Factors. This very weekend, even!

So we canceled today's Bible Study and rearranged our Personal Care Attendants' schedules, all to accommodate the technician. Inconvenient, certainly, and I'm not fond of missing Bible Study after all those years of praying to have a group meet in our apartment. But it would be worth it.

So just before 8:00 this morning, the technician calls, wanting to make sure he'd have access to the building's utility room. Grr! Why didn't the woman John spoke with Thursday double-check before telling John that all John needed was an outlet? So, now we're scheduled to have the installation done on Wednesday.

And I'm hoping that through this fiasco, the Lord is teaching me patience.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Almost Back

Tomorrow, a FiOS technician will descend on our TV, phone and computers, taking us beyond Xfinity to something less expensive and yet with more TV channels. (Bill O'Reilly, I'm coming back!) It's taken a week to transfer all my email addresses from Comcast to Yahoo (okay, I took Tuesday off to go to Boston, but the nice weather is vanishing), but this afternoon I finished that Herculean task. Sunday, I'll begin emailing people, making sure they have my new address.

My goal is to resume blogging five or six days a week. I need to tell you the Stanley Cup story, as well as offering my perspective (which I hope is God's perspective as evidenced by Scripture) on struggling with besetting sin. I have frustrations to vent, praises to give the Lord Jesus Christ, and thoughts to explore, all eagerly waiting for my life to make sufficient room for writing.

This past week has felt like an exile, though I suppose a more positive spin would be to view it as a vacation. Even with vacations, however, people generally feel relieved to come home and get back into routines. At any rate, this necessary separation from blogging is coming to and end, and I'm very excited about my next few posts! Who knows? Perhaps I'll even start quoting Bill O'Reilly!

Monday, October 10, 2011

So Much For Tolerance

I visited Occupy Wall Street's website today, just to see what their "unofficial demands" are. I noticed they had a chat room, and I wanted to know who will pay for the universal health care and the free university educations they're demanding. Are there really enough potential billionaire tax dollars to fund their utopian dream once capitalism is safely abolished? (Ooh, pardon my sarcasm...)

I asked three times how we'd pay for all the goodies they want. No response. So I sat here reading the conversation. At one point, someone commented that no Tea Party supporter is on Social Security or Medicare. I'm not 100% committed to the Tea Party, but I do agree with most of their ideas. So, wanting to debunk the myth that all conservatives are rich bigots with no understanding of "the 99% minority," I typed that my husband and I are both wheelchair users, dependent on Social Security and Medicare, and yet we're conservative Republicans who find that government subsidies prevent us from earning our own money.

Immediately, someone typed: "You are a terrible troll and an idiot." Then that person kicked me out of the chat room. I just laughed at the obvious intolerance of those who claim to want an honest discussion. The hypocrisy is delightful!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Missing Blogging

I'm still transferring everything to my new email address, and don't see an end in sight. I have some wonderful  blog post ideas, but no time to type. Haven't forgotten this blog--just have other priorities right now.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wish It Was A "Gone Fishing" Sign

Remember old cartoons, in which characters hung signs on their doors saying "Gone Fishing" when they weren't available? I kind of feel like I should put a "Gone Fishing" sign here. Only I'm not looking at a relaxing week on a river bank with a tackle box and fishing pole.

Instead, my upcoming week will center on notifying friends, relatives, missionaries and various entities that my email address is (once again...sigh!) changing. Daunting, distasteful task, to be sure. At least this time I'm going to a Yahoo email address, so I'll never have to change again! Anyway, embarking on this task may be time consuming, meaning less time for blog posts. Please be assured that I love blogging, and hope to post here regularly as soon as I get everything sorted out.

Fishing sounds more fun, doesn't it?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Quest For Edes & Gill

Reading J.L. Bell's Boston 1775 blog has, for the second time this year, inspired one of my infamous Boston Adventures, this time coinciding with my birthday (you know....the birthday I really didn't want). On August 8, Mr. Bell posted "A New Old Print Shop in Boston," announcing the new re-creation of The Printing Office of Edes & Gill. This printing office, in the 18th Century, played a significant role in turning public sentiment against England, arguably fueling the American Revolution. If you'll follow the link to Mr. Bell's post and scroll  down through the comments, you'll notice my eager inquiry as to whether the site was accessible to power wheelchairs, and later my discouragement about it (mingled with relief at not having to negotiate the narrow streets of the North End).

Another of Mr. Bell's readers encouraged me to contact Gary Gregory, the Executive Director and Master Printer of Edes & Gill. Throughout August and September, I toyed with the idea. On the one hand, visiting the site seemed natural to me, given my love for Boston's role in the American Revolution and the fact that I studied journalism in college. But on the other hand, the North End is so hostile to wheelchairs, and the last time I was in the vicinity was...shall we say...less than pleasant (see "Puritans, Tea And Why Grade School Field Trips Don't Thrill Me"), so I kept putting off the email.

Late Wednesday afternoon, however, I finally convinced myself to email Mr. Gregory. I couldn't come up with any other ideas for spending my  birthday. Sulking, maybe? Well, yeah...doing that would really honor God, right? Okay, so it wouldn't. And I didn't have anything to lose by contacting him. So I opened my email program and typed:

Dear Sir,

As a follower of J.L. Bell's Boston 1775 Blog, I heard about The Printing Office of Edes & Gill. I love 18th Century American History, and I studied journalism back in college, so  your office greatly intrigues me. This coming Friday is my birthday, and I'd dearly love to spend it visiting Clough House.

The problem, however, is that my husband and I are both wheelchair users, depending on power wheelchairs for mobility. I know we cannot get inside the building. But is there any possibility that someone could meet us outside the building about 1:00 (maybe a bit earlier, depending on the T) to tell us about the Boston Gazette and its role in the Revolutionary War? If so, I would greatly appreciate the time. I can receive email until 6:00 pm tomorrow evening. Thank you for reading this inquiry.

Joyfully in Christ,
Thursday, I anxiously checked my email multiple  times  between blogging, posting on Twitter and spending way too much time on Facebook. When I logged off the  Internet at 7:00, there was still nothing in my inbox from Mr. Gregory. Shrugging, I went to bed knowing only that John and I would spend my birthday in Boston. We considered going to Back Bay, Quincy Market, or the waterfront. Maybe an Italian Restaurant in the more wheelchair-friendly part of the North End (if we could find one that was accessible).

After showering Friday morning, however, I asked John to check my email, on the off chance that a reply from Mr. Gregory would be in my inbox. To my surprise, an email indeed was waiting!

Dear Debbie,

We can certainly meet you at the door of Clough House and I have had a wheel chair in the house b4 so maybe there is a chance. See you Friday

I am
Your most Humble servant

Gary Gregory
Lessons on Liberty Inc.
A 501 c (3) Non-Profit Corporation

Yahoo! On that note, John and I rushed to get the bus to Ashmont, the Red Line to Downtown Crossing and the Orange Line to Haymarket. We followed Hanover Street all the way to Paul Revere Mall, avoiding the narrow streets around Paul Revere's house that had caused us such angst on previous excursions to that part of the North End. The terrible cracks we'd struggled with on Hanover Street last April were, to our delight and amazement, no longer there, making the trip easy! North End, easy? Who would have thought? Giddy with our newfound mastery of the North End, we decided I needed my picture taken with Paul Revere!

We wheeled through the Mall, and immediately across the street we spotted the Edes & Gill sign! Clearly, while a manual chair could (with skill and effort) be maneuvered over the threshold, this wasn't a place for power wheelchairs. Still...we were really and truly there!
We were half an hour early, so we wheeled around the corner to Old North Church and listened to the familiar story of Robert Newman hanging the two lanterns to let  Paul Revere know that the Regulars were crossing the Charles River to Lexington and Concord. The young man giving the five-minute lecture showed us the window Newman used to escape arrest:
We look forward to spending more time at Old North Church next year, but we needed to get back to Edes & Gill. We arrived on time, and asked a tourist to tell Mr. Gregory that DebbieLynne was outside. He came out immediately, hoping to find a way to get me inside to see a demonstration of the printing press.

Convinced that we couldn't enter the building, Mr. Gregory kindly photographed the press for us. (He hopes to make a way for us to  get inside next summer.)
I asked how the Boston Gazette influenced the Revolution, to which he replied that John Adams, James Otis and others wrote articles (usually under pen-names) with spin calculated to inflame passions against English "oppression." The Gazette was circulated in all 13 Colonies, and did much to persuade the colonists that rebellion against the Crown was necessary.

Mr. Gregory left me wondering if the Crown was actually as tyrannical as we Americans have always been taught, or if the Boston Gazette, like today's media, molded 18th Century American ideology. Interesting stuff to occupy my mind, to be sure. I look forward to visiting Edes & Gill again, as well as to the next adventure that J.L. Bell's blog will most likely inspire.


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